Regional swimmers Britney Summerville, Lilli Albion, Aiden Tuihalangingie, Hannah Wheelhouse, Elly Burling and Jilly McFarlane unite to compete in Sunday's City of Ipswich Sprint Classic.
Regional swimmers Britney Summerville, Lilli Albion, Aiden Tuihalangingie, Hannah Wheelhouse, Elly Burling and Jilly McFarlane unite to compete in Sunday's City of Ipswich Sprint Classic. Rob Williams

Classic showdown in Ipswich pool

WITH $7500 in prizemoney on offer, regional swimmers have plenty to be excited about in Sunday's City of Ipswich Sprint Classic.

However, what has event organisers equally enthusiastic about Ipswich's inaugural event is the 350 competitors from 38 clubs.

That is believed to be the largest attendance at an Ipswich swim meet in many years.

The Sprint Classic at Bundamba Swim Centre is being hosted by the Western Aquatics and CYMS St Edmund's clubs, with major support from Ipswich City Council.

CYMS head coach Stephen Critoph is delighted with the response, which includes swimmers from Brisbane, Darling Downs, Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.

"We think this is probably the biggest meet ever held in Ipswich,'' he said.

"We're pretty happy about that.

"We really appreciate the support that Council has given us to make this happen and to encourage swimming in Ipswich. And the flow that's going to come from it hopefully will be really good.''

Western Aquatics head coach Heath Ramsay has also played a leading role in developing the partnership that led to the meeting's formation.

Having swum in several Ipswich championships meets at Jim Gardiner pool in the past, Ramsay was confident Sunday's classic would surpass previous competitions in the city.

"Prizemoney-wise, it's definitely the biggest and then participation-wise, I think it would be that as well,'' the Sydney 2000 Olympian said.

"It's very good because we couldn't take any more than 350.

"There's a mixture of little and big clubs.''

A highlight of the meet will be a match race-style battle to be the fastest 50m freestyler. The winner will receive $1250 in prizemoney after a top 16 is ranked from earlier rounds.

Rounds will start at 8.30am, leading into the start of the final 16 showdown at about 10am. The main final is scheduled for 1pm.

"The top 16 will be seeded like a tennis draw,'' Critoph said. "Sixteen swims against one and two swims against 15 and it then becomes a knockout.''

Ramsay expects the match-racing format to be popular.

"I think it's got some people talking or interested,'' he said.

"We've got the normal meet that runs all day but I think that (match racing) will give everyone something to watch and get excited about.''

Other events will be held in all strokes for swimmers from seven years old, covering distances from 50m to 800m.

Critoph said apart from strong Ipswich support, contingents are coming from clubs like St Peter's Western, Dunlop Park and West Brisbane.

Sunday's meet is sanctioned by Swimming Queensland with performances recognised as official qualifying times for the Brisbane and Queensland Short Championships.

It follows a recent successful meeting hosted by the Waterworx club at Springfield, as part of a new Ipswich-driven plan to boost swimming in the region.

Critoph hopes the latest meeting builds more interest in swimming and encourages more youngsters to learn to swim.

"If we can create interest in the sport, then we'll get not only people following an athletics pathway but encouraging people to get their children taught to swim.

"That's so necessary and so vital in our country . . . with Australian backyard pools or rivers and creeks and beaches.''

Major event

The inaugural City of Ipswich Sprint Classic is being staged at Bundamba Swim Centre on Sunday.

The major event is the 50m open freestyle series, where the winner from a number of rounds and finals will receive $1250. The second placegetter earns $400.

Other events will also carry prizemoney.

Competition starts at 8.30am with the major 50m freestyle finals from about noon.