City of Orange Swim Club coach Tanya Chapman labelled her troops “the dream team” following huge efforts individually and collectively at last weekend’s NSW Country Short Course Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.
Despite the comparatively small size of the club, City of Orange finished seventh on the overall medal tally and managed an eighth finish of 58 on the overall point score too.
“I’m blessed to have such wonderful kids and parents [in the club],” Chapman said.
“I want to commend all the swimmers for the support they showed each other over the weekend (too). As their coach, I am so proud of all of them.
“All I can say is the City of Orange swimmers were definitely in the fast lane, because from the start of the meet to the race of day two there was [so many] podium finishes as well as top 10 finalists.”
In fact there was 18 podium finishes and eight of those were gold medal wins, along with three silvers and seven bronzes. City of Orange swimmers secured another 33 top 10 finishes across the weekend.
Undeniably, 11-year-old Francesca Chitukudza was Chapman’s “star of the meet”. She claimed all eight of City of Orange’s gold medals, won another three bronzes and claimed top other 10 finishes, swimming personal best times in all 15 of her events to boot.
“Francesca only just missed out on breaking the NSW Country record in the 100-metre freestyle (too), she was 0.20 (of a second) away, which is the blink of an eyelid,” Chapman enthused.
“I had several coaches from other clubs come up to me congratulating me on how well Francesca performed, they were stunned by how quick this young swimmer was.”
On top of that phenomenal effort, Chapman explained Chitukudza has also qualified for this year’s Pacific School Games at Hobart later this month.
“I can’t wait to see how she performs, she’s definitely unstoppable. She trains extremely hard, that’s why she’s able to achieve these outstanding results,” Chapman said.
Chapman was also full of praise for her club’s other medallists – Kingston Johnston, Charlotte O’Herir-Corones, Zara Grout, Breahna Burgess, Felicity Chitukudza, Tahlia O’Connell and Courtney Chapman – as well.
“Charlotte hasn’t been with the club all that long and was lacking some confidence … over the last five weeks she’s trained so hard, on the weekend she [won a silver and bronze medal]. What a turnaround,” Chapman said.
“Zara was on fire … and also won her first NSW Country medal which was a highlight for me. She’s persevered for so long and hasn’t done many PBs over the last 12 months, for her to achieve one in all her individual events was absolutely amazing.
“Felicity Chitukudza, Breahna Burgess and Courtney Chapman all took home two medals each … despite how sick Courtney was she still managed two PBs as well.
“Breahna did a 12-second PB in her 14 and under 400-metre individual medley which was amazing to watch … and picked up a few more state times too.
“Tahlia is only 10 (and in her girls’ 10 and under 100-metre freestyle event) she came second … this was her first NSW Country medal. The race had me sitting on the edge the whole way, determination got her the result she wanted.”
Of course, it wasn’t just those who won medals that Chapman was impressed with, she heaped praise on the rest of her troops too, particularly City of Orange’s debutants.
“The club had five swimmers on debut, Lachlan Thompson, Isabel Grout, Chontelle Burgess, Brooke Floyd and Kingston Johnston,” she said.
“These five were outstanding. Kingston did a cracking PB in his (boys’ 10 and under) 100-metre butterfly, won a bronze medal in that event as well as picking up two finalist ribbons, this is a fantastic achievement for a nine-year-old.”