In a remarkable achievement, Tumut swimmer Eddie Dodds has defied all odds to win gold in the 16 years boys 50m freestyle event at the NSW Combined High Schools Sports Association (CHSSA) Swimming Championships that was held at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre last week.
Dodds entered his pet event with a less than ideal preparation under his belt, with the Tumut pools closed for the six weeks prior to state, and an ankle injury meaning he was unable to train elsewhere.
“It was really surprising and I was definitely happy with it,” Dodds said.
“I haven’t been doing too much training and I recently sprained my ankle, but it was good to see I could still swim with that injury and after spending so much time out of the water.”
Having entered the event with an entry time of 25.31, Dodds went 25.18 in the heats on Thursday morning to qualify fourth fastest, but he explained he only did enough to qualify for the final after a busy two days of swimming.
“I saw the heats before were doing low 25s, and I knew there was a kid in my heat going fast and I knew if I stuck by him, I would make the final,” Dodds said.
“It was my fourth 50m freestyle of the day, so I was kind of tired but I knew I could do better.”
In Thursday evenings final, Dodds went nearly a half a second faster to secure gold easily, swimming 24.71.
“I was happy that I could back it up throughout the day and continue to swim 24s, and to win gold, it was amazing,” Dodds said.
“Straight away you get that feeling after the race, that you might have won, and it took some time to see what happened, but as soon as I saw my name up there, I was so happy.”
Dodds had a huge NSW CHSSA meet, finishing fourth in the 100m freestyle when swimming 55.26, while he also competed in the 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 100m breaststroke and 200m freestyle.
The talented swimmer also helped Tumut High School to a silver medal in the open 4x50m medley relay, when swimming a new personal best effort of 24.52 in the freestyle leg.
Duncan Smallwood went 30.73 in the backstroke, Kade Knight swam 32.54 in the breaststroke and Daniel Castle recorded 27.95 in the butterfly, as the team went 1.:55.72, finishing less than three tenths of a second off the gold medal winning team from Gosford.
“It was great swimming for the school and it’s definitely a really strong team and it was such a close race in the final and we could have easily won,” Dodds said.
Dodds and fellow gold medallist, Kade Knight, who won the 17-19 years boys 400m individual medley and finished second in the 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley and third in the 100m breaststroke, will now prepare with the Tumut High School relay team for the NSW All Schools Swimming Championships, which will be held in Sydney on May 28.
“So now, we go to All Schools, and it’s in NSW but against the private schools,” Dodds said.
“As a team, I think we set a really competitive time, having dropped a second in the final and with the extra pressure, I think we can all drop that little bit extra.
“I will definitely try and get in a pool whenever I can, but it’s also about making sure I don’t injure myself again and stay strong by doing other sports.”
It was a huge meet for Tumut High School, who had so many swimmers in action over the three days.
“I was so proud. Tumut was one of the only schools I noticed that had multiple kids in the same heats,” Dodds said.
“It was great to see the school succeeding and competing in a lot of events.”