5 March 2024

Help needed for Cooktown swimmers to hunt state glory

| Cape York Weekly
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Cooktown Amateur Swimming Club stars Lakea Hegamaea, Haila Hegamaea, Samuel Ryder, Rudolf Habermann and Jett Ryder will compete against the best school-aged swimmers in Queensland later this month. Photo: Supplied.

Some of Cape York’s top school-aged swimmers are refusing to let the tyranny of distance and cost get block their lane ahead of this month’s Queensland Representative School Sports Swimming State Championships in Brisbane.

Five senior members of the Cooktown Amateur Swimming Club (CASC) have been selected to represent the Peninsula team at the prestigious event, with competitors now racing the clock to fundraise the $9,000 needed for get them to the state capital in time for the starter’s pistol on 23 March.

Haila Hegamaea, 13, will compete in the 50-metre freestyle, Rudolf Habermann, 14, the 50m freestyle, 50m backstroke and 100m backstroke, and Lake Hegamaea, 16, the 50m and 100m freestyle events.

Jett Ryder, 15, and Samuel Ryder, 17, will fly the club’s flag in the 50m butterfly and freestyle disciplines.

CASC president Melissa Gunton said to have five representatives of such a small club selected for the Peninsula team was a huge result.

“This is the first time we have had five seniors selected as part of the Peninsula team,” she said.

“Last year, the 13-19 years Peninsula team was made up of 12 youth, with the majority of the team from the Cairns region.

“This is the first time Cooktown has put in a team for Peninsula selection in my years at being at the club.

“To have all five of our seniors make the team is amazing.”

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With anywhere from 2,000-3,000 swimmers set to compete in Brisbane, Ms Gunton said the experience would be a big change from the 120-350 competitors the CASC Peninsula team members were used to challenging in the pool.

“From a club perspective, we are extremely proud,” Ms Gunton explained.

“Our children only have the opportunity to train five days a fortnight in Cooktown, whereas the city kids train on average at least seven sessions a week.

“For our kids to make qualifying times is amazing for such a small community and limited training sessions.”

Ms Gunton said the club was now calling on the Cooktown community to throw its financial support behind the quintet.

“At present, we have only a month to fundraiser the $9,000 needed to get them to the championships, so the team will be fundraising their little hearts off,” she said.

“Being remote, we have been told that many members who have been selected to represent the Peninsula team, especially kids from the Cape, have had to withdraw from the team due to the expenses of travelling from cape York.

“We are going to do everything in our power to get them there.”

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