Weilmoringle’s deep talent pool shines in Sydney

A school with five students captured the imagination of the state at the Olympic Park Aquatic Centre. Glenn Cullen reports.

Weilmoringle Public swimmers Kaydence, Jamarh and D’Mitri gave it their all at the state championships, while fellow student Ryne, who broke his wrist just before the championships, cheered them on.

When Weilmoringle Public School principal Robyn Watson received a phone call to tell her a student had broken his wrist and couldn’t compete at the State Primary School Swimming Championships, she was understandably devastated.

After all, Weilmoringle – town population 72, school enrolment of five – had worked so hard to get this far.

The tiny school is 110 kilometres from the nearest 50-metre pool in Brewarrina and its students instead regularly train against the current in the Culgoa River.

Eighty percent of the school students made up the relay team which qualified to travel to Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre. And the only other student at the school couldn’t yet do a lap of the pool.

Was Weilmoringle’s Sydney adventure over before it began?

“The whole community was like ‘This is the end, everything that we’ve all worked for’,” Ms Watson said.

But from the initial despair came hope for swimmers Kaydence, Jamarh and D’Mitri and Ryne, their mate with the broken wrist.

A few phone calls to Peter Banks, Leader School Sport Unit, and the way was smoothed for the school to compete at Olympic Park.

Travelling at the time with her students, Ms Watson relayed the information.

“We’ve got some good news – we’re still going to Sydney,” she said.

“And then the bus erupted.”

Calling on the services of Harlem from Warren Central School, Weilmoringle got a fourth relay swimmer and confirmed their trip to the big smoke from far north-western NSW.

The Weilmoringle trio and Harlem swam like demons and the team finished a creditable sixth in their heat for the exhibition event.

“It was just a brilliant day and the kids have made all of us so proud,” Ms Watson said.

“The enthusiasm from the kids and from the community – it brings tears to your eyes.”

Weilmoringle was just one of many uplifting stories from an event that showcases some of the best young swimmers in the state.

Results-wise, Artarmon Public School student Titus Teoh (9 years old) broke a 27-year-old record held by world championship gold medallist Kendrick Monk.

Teoh clocked 31.27 seconds in the 50m freestyle to edge Monk’s record by 0.36secs.

Eli Gardner Hunter (Edgeworth Heights Public School) broke Oliver Moody’s 2010 record in the 12 years 50m freestyle, clocking 27.48secs.

And there was a heart-warming moment when Ruby McLean (Woonona East Public School) swam in the 50m backstroke for multiclass.

McLean, who has cerebral palsy, had never swum in the pool before without assistance.

Showing enormous grit and determination, she took almost 10 minutes to complete that lap – but didn’t give up until she touched the wall to a standing ovation.

Elsewhere, Brighton Le Sands Public School student Marvelyn Schroeder (8 years) had extended family watching the livestream of the event from Brazil, cheering her on as she raced her 50m freestyle heat.

A man with a girl in a wheelchair. A man with a girl in a wheelchair.
Image: Woonona East Public student Ruby McLean with her dad Mitch after competing at the state swimming championships.
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