Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

A gold in the pool for Barooga

Barooga's Casey Petrie won a gold medal in backstroke at the 2013 Asia Pacific Special Olympics

RIAHN SMITH January 3, 2014 4:00am

Casey Petrie with her gold medal and ribbons from the 2013 Asia Pacfic Special Olympics

Casey Petrie has never been a fan of backstroke.

The Barooga swimmer has suffered many a bruised hand from pool walls sneaking up on her unexpectedly.

But, after scooping a gold medal at last year’s Asia Pacific Special Olympics, the 29-year-old is a little more partial to the traditional upside-down crawl.

‘‘I was very excited (and) a bit tearful,’’ Petrie said.

‘‘I couldn’t believe it, it took a while to sink in.’’

Petrie travelled to Newcastle in late November to compete in the Special Olympics, a week-long event which attracted competitors from 32 nations across the Asia Pacific region.

The event was the culmination of months of training — with the Echuca Campaspe swim team, and closer to home at the Barooga Sporties thanks to a free six-month pool membership.

It also wouldn’t have been possibly without the generosity of local businesses and individuals who helped fund the trip.

But it seems the time — and money — were well spent.

Petrie competed in the 100m freestyle and 50m relay events and took home the gold medal for the 50m backstroke.

‘‘It was really exciting being part of a team and representing Australia,’’ Petrie said.

‘‘I was in a higher division, but it didn’t feel that hard, I think I swam pretty well.’’

Of course, that’s not to say there weren’t some challenges.

Petrie laughed as she recounted details of the event schedule.

‘‘The first two days were the qualifying days, then we raced, but we had a training day in between to get ready and they made us train outside,’’ she said.

‘‘I’ve been spoiled, all my life I’ve been in indoor pools and now they’re like ‘get outside’.

‘‘Then it started raining.’’

Despite the minor weather inconvenience, Petrie said the experience was ‘‘amazing’’.

‘‘I loved meeting friends, winning races, and just that feeling of ‘yes, I’ve made it this far’.’’

She was also quick to note her recent success was just the beginning of her swimming career.

‘‘I didn’t think I’d get this far, but now I want to keep going and move on to bigger and better things,’’ Petrie said.

‘‘The (Special Olympics) World (Summer) Games are coming up in LA, I want to try and make that team if I can, but I’ll have to go to Melbourne to qualify first.

‘‘I feel like I just want to go, I don’t want to stop.’’

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