North West swimmers shine at Country Pennants comp
More than 500 of regional WA’s best swimmers packed Karratha Leisureplex at the weekend for one of the biggest competitions on the State’s country swimming calendar.
The 60th Country Pennants drew 32 clubs from across the State to Karratha for an intense two days of individual and relay races.
North West clubs had a particularly strong showing at the teams-based tournament, with Exmouth winning the B-grade division (771 points), host club Karratha winning C-grade (774 points) and Hedland taking out the E-grade (607 points).
The A-grade winner was Peel, on an overall 793 points, and the D-grade division was won by Pinjarra (591 points).
Twenty-eight records were broken over the weekend.
Karratha Amateur Swimming Club acting president Sharron Henderson said the competition had featured some outstanding results.
“Every single club recorded some PBs, with most clubs saying around 90 per cent of their swimmers achieved (them) — us included,” she said.
“For a lot of them, we’re talking a couple of seconds... and especially when (competitors) are only swimming 50 or 100m, it is more difficult to get larger PBs, so everyone was really surprised by that.
“There were also so many records set this weekend and a lot of them were long-standing records, so for those to be broken now, obviously the competition standard was set pretty high.”
Henderson said the event, which was organised by a committee of just nine people, had run smoothly and Karratha’s C-grade win had been a crowning achievement.
“Karratha, historically, a long time ago, was an A-grade club, and (our members) are keen to be able to progress,” she said.
“You need to win your division to be able to go up another division, so this is a great opportunity and I would hope that we would be in B-grade next year. Hopefully, this is our first step back to where we were before.”
The tournament started early on Saturday morning with a parade around the pool by all clubs, dressed up as everything from Where’s Wally characters to superheroes, and an opening ceremony featuring oaths from swimmers, officials and coaches.
Medley relays dominated Saturday morning before swimmers had the chance to compete individually in single stroke races, which went into Sunday afternoon.
The tournament finished with a closing ceremony in which awards were presented by Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel and City of Karratha councillor Kelly Nunn.
Other Pilbara teams that competed were Wickham, Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Pannawonica and Onslow.
Chief referee Kaye Bolger said it was good to see so many North West swimmers competing.
“The North West clubs travel a lot and over really long distances, but by being able to hold such a big meet-up here, it is great for them to be part of it without having to do the extreme travel,” she said.
“It’s good for the other country clubs to have to travel up here and support the North West clubs.”
Country Pennants rotates between different regional WA locations each year and was last held in Karratha in 1989.
The 2020 competition will be hosted by Geraldton.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails