Lee Duffield

Edited by Lee Duffield
Freedom and Truth

Ipswich vies for new swimming excellence program

Ipswich, west of Brisbane, may soon be home to one of Swimming Australia’s new Centre of Excellence programs.

To foster consistent localised talent, Ipswich swimming coaches have banded together to apply for one of the new programs that will be granted to only a handful successful applicants across Australia.

Under the proposed scheme, a group including historic Ipswich clubs St Edmund’s CYMS, Grammar Sports, Ipswich Girls’ Grammar and Woogaroo, will combine forces for the Centre of Excellence program.

The program will be established in association with the Australian Sports Commission to maximise and sustain high performance in the sport.

The main location will be the Ipswich Grammar School, which has the region’s only 50m heated pool.

Driving force

Driving the initiative is Olympic bronze-medallist, Queensland Swimming board member and Ipswich Girls’ Grammar head coach Justin Lemberg and CYMS St Edmund’s head coach Peter Carswell.

“It’s time for Ipswich as a region to really develop its swimmming talent,” Mr Lemberg said.

“This opportunity from Swimming Australia is perfect for the situation we are in at the moment, where we have a lot of young talent that needs to be nutured properly.”

If successful, the application would replace the Ipswich Olympic Development (IOD) squad, which Mr Carswell and Mr Lemberg created earlier this year.

“Those kids that are currently in the IOD, which is about 50 or so, would become the core swimmers in this new venture,” Mr Carswell said.

“It’s an opportunity we as a region couldn’t pass up.

“The difference between it (the IOD) and a Centre of Excellence, is that the Centre of Excellence would have that Sports Commission backing and that funding.

“It also has that ‘stamp of approval’ which in turn helps us attract better swimmers.”

Local talent

The proposal also means that Ipswich may have found a way to grow their own talent from zero to hero.

Currently, there is no way for the region to retain its local talent.

Once past a certain level, usually their junior years, any possible talents have been snapped up by centres in Brisbane and around south-east Queensland with big-name coaches and high profile athletes.

President of Swimming Australia David Urquhart, who is based at the Bundamba Pool in Ipswich, says Queensland western regions be an ideal place for one of the new programs.

“The growth in the south-west Queensland corridor is too much to not consider when handing out these kind of things,” he said.

“Especially with all the development in the Springfield area, the Waterworx (Springfield club) has certainly shown is has plenty of legs, in the top 10 clubs in the State.

“Providing they meet the requirements I could not see reason as to why Ipswich would not be considered.

“The aim of the program is to provide a support structure from which to develop the sport across a number of areas, for swimming pools, learn to swim programs, clubs, swimmers and coaches, Ipswich is certainly in need of that.”

Approvals from Swimming Australia will be released in September.