Shepparton swimmers are being snapped up by metropolitan clubs and local coach Willy O'Callaghan is concerned they can no longer compete at Country Championships.MARC MCGOWAN December 18, 2012 11:44am
Brennan Swift is one of five Shepparton swimmers competing in this week's Victorian Age Championships.
Opinion: Swim clubs need protection December 18, 2012
Just five Shepparton swimmers will contest this week’s Victorian Age Swimming Championships as coach Willy O’Callaghan fights to keep her star pupils.
National-level backstroker Hayley Hogan is the latest Shepparton-developed talent to join a Melbourne club.
Hogan joins fellow former Shepparton swimmer Kadison Michel at Nunawading, while Connie McClelland crossed to MLC Aquatic.
All three swimmers reached the Australian Age Championships while swimming for Shepparton, but will compete for Melbourne-based clubs at this week’s state championships.
O’Callaghan’s biggest disappointment is the trio can no longer swim for Shepparton at the Victorian Country Championships — the annual meet that highlights the strength of regional clubs.
Hogan, Michel — whose brother Indiana still swims for Shepparton — and McClelland live in Shepparton.
‘‘They’re going to the city clubs to further their careers,’’ O’Callaghan said.
‘‘But they had a situation at Countrys where one of the Traralgon boys, who nearly made the Olympics, had an Australian Institute of Sport scholarship and was still able to swim for Traralgon.
‘‘If (Hogan, Michel and McClelland) had an AIS scholarship they could still swim at Shepparton.
‘‘He got a lot of points for Traralgon under that system and that’s set a dangerous precedent.’’
Ex-Benalla swimmer Belinda Hocking, an Olympian and AIS scholarship-holder, also benefits from the system and is able to compete for Albury at the Victorian Country Championships.
O’Callaghan said Bendigo Swimming Club recently had two male swimmers transfer to Melbourne clubs.
‘‘They’re feeling like us about it,’’ she said of Bendigo.
‘‘These kids, if they want to, should still be able to swim for their country club at Country Championships, particularly when they’ve developed their national-level swimming in our club.’’
O’Callaghan said Shepparton club delegates had to raise the issue at a Goulburn Valley District Swimming Association meeting and receive approval to take the fight to Swimming Victoria.
Her hope is SV executives will grant swimmers who still reside in their country town the chance to compete for their old club as ‘‘second claim’’ athletes.
That would enable country swimmers’ city clubs to still have first preference if they had a major meet, but O’Callaghan said no Melbourne competition clashed with next month’s Country Championships.
Shepparton’s five Victorian Age Swimming Championships competitors are Jorja Bourke, Georgia Anker and the Swift brothers — Carter, Brennan and Kalen.
‘‘They will certainly be trying to make finals, but it’s not as definite as some of the other kids we had,’’ O’Callaghan said.
‘‘It’s been a pretty difficult year. We got out here (in the long-course pool at Aquamoves) pretty late and the kids only just started getting used to the longer pool last week.
‘‘We should be in for some PBs right across the board.’’
The Victorian Age Championships begins today and goes until Sunday.
Shepparton’s Declo Bisimwa firmly believes education is the key to a better life.
Beautiful weather greeted Tungamah residents for the 18th running of the Tungamah Lions Ten Thousand on Sunday.
When Keith and Marion Grumley and their growing family moved to Tatura on January 18, 1968, little did they know that it would be the start of a long and lasting connection to the town.
Garners Boxing Gym in Echuca is encouraging young people to get active with weekly boxing/cardio classes.
Rochester Rotary Club has celebrated its 50th birthday in style.
Sorting future of Campaspe pools
A theatre production with a difference is coming to Seymour.
Local athletes will go head-to-head with some of the best competitors from around the world in swimming and athletics in December.
District residents and visitors will be able to enjoy some of the region’s most beautiful private gardens on Sunday.
The 116th annual Cobram Show went off with a bang at the weekend, drawing in crowds from far and wide for two days of fun.
Tomorrow is a Total Fire Ban day in Deniliquin, meaning no fires can be lit in the open and all fire permits are suspended.
Fifty new full-time jobs will be created at Tatura with a multimillion-dollar expansion of the abattoirs expected to be announced today.
Remembering Australian political giant Gough Whitlam who once called on Benalla police to stop then Treasurer Frank Crean on his journey up the Hume to phone the PM.
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