Check out this vision to bolster regional swimming
AS an Olympic swimmer, Heath Ramsay knows how hard work can be rewarded.
However, his focus as one of Ipswich's most successful butterfly competitors is on more than developing swimmers at his progressive Western Aquatics club.
Ramsay, 35, is keen to work with other leading regional coaches in boosting swimming so that everyone benefits.
One of his major goals for Ipswich swimming is for every club to hold a swim meet.
"Whether that be in winter or summer so our families don't have the burden of travelling to meets all over south east Queensland,'' the Sydney 2000 Games competitor said.
"With the Ipswich coaches meeting regularly and the starting of the Ipswich development clinics, I think for the first time in a while things are moving in the right direction.''
When Ramsay came up the junior ranks, he regularly swam when the city hosted annual Ipswich championships at the former Jim Gardiner pool.
Those meetings brought all the terrific regional swimmers together, representing a number of supportive clubs.
But when Ipswich was incorporated into the Brisbane Swimming Association, those fun and productive meetings were lost.
While Ramsay knows resurrecting an annual Ipswich championships is difficult, he's keen to see regional clubs host a swim meeting. He said that will help families by reducing the current travel demands of competing in Toowoomba, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Brisbane.
Ramsay said that would also hopefully get more little kids involved in swimming.
"Ideally it's to run a few in winter and then some in summer, to spread them out,'' the Ipswich born and bred swimmer said.
Western Aquatics held a program in July.
The Waterworx club is planning a meeting on October 15/16 and CYMS St Edmund's and Western Aquatics are looking to jointly host an Ipswich Council-supported event at Bundamba on November 6.
Since forming the Western Aquatics Club in 2013 with major family and community support, Ramsay has dared to dream of having a united regional approach again.
He's been heartened by recent progress.
At club level, Ramsay and his assistant Madison Leonard are looking after 152 members. That has grown from 100 in the first year.
Apart from helping with city-wide initiatives, Ramsay encourages his swimmers to progress from night events to inter- club meets.
"Western Aquatics do this by covering the cost of entries for a select number of local junior swim meets,'' Ramsay said.
"As head coach I hope to see the continued improvement of all our swimmers, from our newest members to our more competitive swimmers who compete at national level swim meets.
"In the three seasons we have been up and running our club has seen a dramatic increase in all our levels of swimmers. The numbers we have at national, state, regional and local level swim meets continues to jump. That is one of the major stats I look at, at the end of every season.''
That leads to how Ramsay would like Western Aquatics to be perceived.
"Team and community,'' he said. "Creating opportunities for children and building their confidence through doing the best they can.
"We are all about creating a fun environment for these children, getting them involved in an activity that promotes health, well-being and a sense of community.
"We love that parents get an opportunity to relax and enjoy themselves too.''
Name: Western Aquatics Inc.
When founded: July 2013.
Where based: West Moreton Anglican College.
Coaching team: Heath Ramsay (head coach) and Madison Leonard (assistant coach).
Club's philosophy/motto: The vision of Western Aquatics Inc is to be the Ipswich region's premier swimming club by priding itself on instilling a lifelong love of swimming.
Club highlights in recent years: Recipient of the City of Ipswich Medallion 2015; promotion to Division 3 in the Brisbane Swimming Association; swimmers like Lilli Albion, Georgia Heapy, Hannah Wheelhouse and Jilly McFarlane have impressed at age nationals.
Youngest swimmer: Two year-old Emily Ramsay.
Oldest swimmer: 18 year-old Jade Kickbusch.
Swimmers to watch this season: The club's 11 years age group in boys and girls is very strong. Western Aquatics have a number of swimmers in this age group who have progressed rapidly from club night swimmers to qualifying for state level meets. They include Mitchell Chardon, Jake Isarasena, Riley Cox, Amy Matthews, Hayley Victor and Gabby Stokes.