3 April 2017
A 20-strong squad of USC Spartans swimmers is shaping up as a force to be reckoned with at the Australian Swimming Championships in Brisbane next week.
The five-day event from 9-13 April will be the team’s biggest carnival since the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, with 13 swimmers from the able-bodied squad and seven para-athletes set to hit the water.
Competitors will include Olympic silver medallists Taylor McKeown, Jake Packard and Leah Neale, as well as Paralympian Blake Cochrane who won medals at both the Rio and Beijing Games.
Olympic squad coach Chris Mooney said his swimmers were raring to race, especially after edging out more fancied rival clubs to achieve the highest combined team score at the recent NSW State titles.
“Since the new year, we’ve focussed on being race ready,” he said. “We’ve got major stepping stones within our four-year plan, and the Australian Championships is one of them.
“Everyone’s swimming well – it’s hard to single any of them out. They’re all hungry, training hard, and ready to let fly.”
The championships will be the first major event for Nathan Doyle as the new Spartans Paralympic coach after he stepped into the role when former coach Jan Cameron accepted a mentor position with Swimming Australia.
Among his charges will be Jake Templeton and Braedan Jason, who were recently named as inaugural recipients of the June Canavan Para-athlete Sport Scholarships to study and train at USC.
Mr Mooney said USC’s sporting facilities had been a hive of activity this year, with the Sunshine Coast Lightning netball team adding to the high-performance culture.
“The Lightning have really added to the energy that we already had in our team,” he said.
“We all have a huge amount of respect for their professionalism and work ethic that we see when they’re training in the USC Gym and Stadium.
— Gen Kennedy