25 March 2024

Cooktown quintet fly Peninsula colours at Brisbane swimming championships

| Lyndon Keane
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Cooktown Amateur Swimming Club members Haila Hegamaea, Samuel Ryder, Rudolf Habermann, Lakea Hegamaea and Jett Ryder take time out for a photo in their Peninsula representative gear before taking to the pool in the Queensland Representative School Sports Swimming State Championships at the weekend. Photo: Supplied.

Five swimmers from Cooktown took to the pool in Brisbane at the weekend to pit themselves against the state’s best at the Queensland Representative School Sports Swimming State Championships.

Proudly flying the Peninsula team colours, Samuel Ryder, 17, Lakea Hegamaea, 16, Jett Ryder, 15, Rudolf Habermann, 14, and Haila Hegamaea, 13, joined 22 teammates from across the northernmost part of Queensland as they battled for swimming supremacy.

The quintet are members of the Cooktown Amateur Swimming Club (CASC) and president Melissa Gunton praised the performances of each athlete at the championships.

“I’m extremely proud of how our team handled the pressure and showed the city kids that we have what it takes to be right up there with the best swimmers in the Queensland,” she said.

“There were no expectations for them to get medals or make finals, they would have just been an extra bonus.

“The main aim was to have fun and try and get new personal best times.”

As competition at the three-day meet continued when Cape York Weekly went to press, Haila had recorded a new personal best for the 50-metre butterfly, with Rudolf stopping the clock in a new best when he contested the 50m freestyle.

Jett also impressed in his 50m butterfly with a new personal best.

READ ALSO Cooktown’s Hegamaea claims age champion crown at FNQ long course meet

All five Cooktown athletes performed admirably at the championships, recording times that consistently put them with the top 20 and 30 fastest school-aged swimmers in Queensland.

The feat was made even more impressive by the fact the Peninsula line-up was missing a coach.

“Overall, our squad of five did extremely well, considering the whole Peninsula swimming team didn’t have a team coach,” Ms Gunton said.

“Our team had to follow their usual training program for warm ups, which was led by our senior member, Samuel Ryder; he did extremely well with coaching and helping the rest of our team.

“Jett and Lakea looked very comfortable in the arena, despite it being one of their first major swimming championships.”

The swimmers said competing in an Olympic-sized pool, riding Brisbane’s train network and visiting the city’s must-see Eat Street had been memorable.

Ms Gunton said the experience would not have been possible without the support of the Cooktown community, which rallied behind the swimmers to provide the financial help needed to travel to the championships.

“Thank you must go to Cooktown Memorial RSL, Endeavour Lions Club and also Cooktown Bowls Club, Endeavour Christian College, Cooktown State School, Hinterland Aviation and the wider Cooktown community for their sponsorships and donations,” she said.

“Without their support, our team would not have made the championships in such a limited timeframe due to the financial cost.”

You don’t get a lot of public transport experiences when you call Cape York home. Photo: Supplied.

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