Tumut swimmer Ashley Van Rijswijk has put a turbulent injury and Covid-19 riddled period behind her to break three NSW short course records.
Swimming at Wagga Swim Club over the past two weeks, Van Rijswijk bettered the 50m, 100m and 200m NSW breaststroke records, swimming 35.43, 1.17:83 and 2.48:77 respectively.
The latter of these records had stood since 1998, with Van Rijswijk smashing the previous mark of 3.02:19 by nearly 24 seconds.
“It felt really good to be back on track for Tokyo (Olympics) 2021,” Van Rijswijk said.
The 20-year-old has had to overcome a few obstacles since October last year, after a pool incident had the talented swimmer sidelined with a painful neck injury.
“I dived into a pool and had muscle and ligament damage in my C3, 4 and 5 but mainly soft tissue damage,” Van Rijswijk said.
The injury took a good six months to get right, before the Swimming Australia representative was sidelined due to Covid-19 and was forced to train outside of the pool, while addressing a few injury niggles.
“I did dry land work outs, like chin ups, push ups, sit ups and 5km runs,” Van Rijswijk said.
Ashley’s father, Craig Van Rijswijk said the time off was a blessing in disguise, as it gave his daughter a chance to address injury concerns, while not losing any ground on her competitors.
“The break gave her body a chance to rest and heal from various niggling injuries and she was also able to have some minor surgery on a few bits and pieces and deal with stuff she couldn’t normally do when training in the water,” Mr Van Rijswijk said.
With Wagga Swim Club returning to training nearly three months ago, the youngster has been able to get back into the swing of things, but openly admitted it was tough at first.
“I felt like a sack of potatoes,” Van Rijswijk laughed. “It took a month, or maybe over a month to feel good in the water.”
As a result of getting back to swimming fast times, Van Rijswijk has been offered a scholarship from the NSW Institute of Sport and has been recognised by Swimming Australia as a para athlete with “Podium Potential”.
What this essentially means is that Van Rijswijk will have access to Swimming NSW resources and may request funding to assist with their training and competition throughout the year.
“It was nice for the recognition – I’m really happy because I’m getting back to swimming fast times and they (Swimming Australia) are looking at me for their teams,” Van Rijswijk said.
The Tumut talent is now squarely focused on swimming well over the next 10 months, before attending the Swimming Australia Olympic trials in June next year.
Van Rijswijk’s first major event back will be the NSW multiclass championships on October 17, before the Australian short course championships in November and another state event in December.
“I’m a little bit nervous but all I am trying to do is make the times and do everything right and hopefully go to Tokyo next year,” Van Rijswijk said.