Hopeful of Olympic places

HOW DID I GO?: Kade Knight in the pool at the conclusion of a trial event in Brisbane this week. PHOTOS: supplied
BEST STROKE: Ashley Van Rijswijk competing in the event she does best in Brisbane.

THE culmination of many years of hard work, early morning starts and up to nine trips a week up and down the highway between Tumut and Wagga Wagga, have all been for this very week. 

Two local swimming stars Ashley Van Rijswijk and Kade Knight are currently in Brisbane competing at what many can only dream of, The Australian Olympic Swimming Trials.

Kade and Ashley are two of only six swimmers representing the Southern Inland Swimming Association at the Australia trials, and both grew up in Tumut where they began their swimming careers as members of the Tumut Swimming Club. 

Tumut proudly claims Ashley and Kade as their own though currently both live and train in Wagga Wagga and swim under the guidance of coach Gennadiy Labara.

No stranger to swimming on the big stage and already an Aussie dolphin, Ashley was a member of the 2020 Australian team that competed at the Tokyo Para Olympics, 

Swimming in the S14 multi class category Ashley, a talented breaststroker, has had previous success in the pool and is recognised as a podium potential athlete for Paris. Ashley is currently a NSW Institute of sport scholarship holder.

A medalist in many events in all the major State, Country and National championships over the past few years in both long and short course seasons, Ashley holds numerous S14 records and most recently competed at the Para world series as a member of the Australian team, she was crowned Australian and European Champion in the Multi class 100m breaststroke event.

Ashley’s latest campaign started on Wednesday with the 200m Individual Medley, her pet event, the 100m breaststroke, yesterday, and she is also trying her hand at the 100m backstroke, today, Friday. 

After what has been a successful couple of seasons Ashley once again finds herself in the mix vying for a spot in this year’s ParaOlympic team to Paris.

20-year-old Kade is competing at his first Olympic trials and after many years of hard work and training he is relishing the opportunity to prove himself amongst Australia’s best. 

Like Ashley, Kade is also a multiple medalist at State and NSW Country levels in numerous events. 

He is a national age finalist three years running. 

Kade’s most memorable achievements to date were placing third in the age final of the 200m butterfly at this year’s Australian Open swimming Championships in April and 4th in the 400m Individual Medley at last years Australian Short course championships.

Kade has continued to chip away at his times and consistently improved his results over the past few seasons (short and long course), most notably at State and National meets. Kade’s results have seen him qualify to compete in three different events this week, the men’s 200 butterfly (Wednesday), 200 Individual Medley (Thursday) and the men’s 400m Individual Medley tomorrow, Saturday.

Ever the realist, Kade understands that Olympic selection is probably out of his reach this time around and for now is set on enjoying the experience. 

Kade aims to improve upon personal best times set earlier in the season and he sees this as a stepping stone in the right direction towards his ultimate goal.  

Swimming at an elite level does not only require a level of talent, it takes incredible dedication, commitment, sacrifices, managing the highs and lows that come with not only the achievements on the podium but also the disappointment when the swim doesn’t quite go to plan.

Every parent understands the personal commitment it takes as a family to support a young person’s dream become a reality and as a community there is enormous pride for the achievements of these two wonderful ambassadors for where they still have very strong ties.

At the end of the day, both Kade and Ashley are already champions in and out of the pool and are great role models for others wanting to pursue a dream. 

Then there is also the most important aspect of all. 

When all is said and done it’s another opportunity to do what they love most, SWIM!

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