Why Ipswich swimming deserves congratulations
DELIGHTED regional swimming coach Stephen Critoph summed it up perfectly as he reflected on the inaugural City of Ipswich Sprint Classic.
"It was an amazing success,'' the CYMS St Edmund's head mentor said after watching 350 competitors from 38 clubs contest more than 30 events.
"It was a super example of what can be done when people co-operate.''
CYMS and Western Aquatics were the two progressive Ipswich clubs who accepted the challenge to host the $7500 prizemoney event, backed by Ipswich City Council.
Critoph thanked everyone from around the region, other coaches and visiting swimmers for their part in what was regarded as the biggest swimming meeting held in Ipswich.
"It would have been extremely, extremely difficult to stage an event like that as a single club,'' Critoph said.
"That meet took a year to put together.
"By doing it together, it all ran smoothly.
"We're trying to set an example for people to follow.''
Western Aquatics head coach Heath Ramsay also appreciated the partner- ship that achieved such a positive result for Ipswich.
"The plan is to run it the same time every year,'' Ramsay said.
"The two clubs gelled together and it was just a great roll-up.''
Critoph and Ramsay said the undoubted attraction on Sunday was the men's and women's open 50m freestyle match racing.
Winners of $1250 in prizemoney were Ipswich-based swimmer Caitlin Mitchell (representing Yeronga Park) and William Stockwell from Commercial.
The two fastest swimmers from Ipswich-based clubs were Aiden Tuihalangingie from CYMS St Edmund's and Waterworx competitor Sophie O'Callaghan.
Critoph said the sprint challenge for men and women was hugely popular once the spectators figured out what was happening in the Bundamba pool.
"People really enjoyed the format of the match racing. It was something different,'' he said. "It took a little while for people to understand what was going on.''
The top 16 ranked male and female 50m swimmers were ranked, leading to a final showdown.
Mitchell and Stockwell had to win five races to become sprint champions.
The program started at 8.30am, finishing at 3.30pm.
"The match racing at the classic was the highlight of the day,'' Ramsay said. "Away from that it was more how the kids loved the events that were run. There were no major gaps at all.
"There were lots of young kids probably doing their first meet ever.
"The meet in general covered that excitement of racing for the cash but also caters for all the locals so they don't have to travel.''
Critoph said having a major meet like the sprint classic would hopefully broaden the competitor base and produce another future Ipswich-bred champion like Rio Olympic silver medallist Leah Neale.
"The more kids involved at the bottom end, then there's more athletes that can potentially progress through,'' Critoph said.
Leading regional swimmers will now focus on preparing for the annual state championships next month.