120+ PHOTOS: Country swimmers compete at largest race meet
SWIMMING: A little thunder and some rain wasn't enough to stop the southwest's best swimmers from taking to Dalby Aquatic Centre for the largest race meet in the region: the Country Championships.
Over 300 swimmers from Stanthorpe, Warwick, Allora, Gatton, Toowoomba, the Western Downs, and the Maranoa region took to the pool for the annual race meet, holding only for a flash of lightning that threatened to end the day early.
DDRSA president Garry Gibson said competitions that were exclusive to swimmers in the country were important in allowing them to break into competitions early, and to prepare the young athletes for when they inevitably take on tougher competitors on the southeast.
This is their opportunity to come away as a team, support each other as a team, and compete on a similar level," he said.
Gibson said a personal highlight was watching the seven and under age group, who are just emerging onto the competition scene.
Dalby Dolphins president Damian Sternes said he couldn't hide his pride for his swimmers as they took on some tough competition.
"This is the biggest carnival Dalby has ever held, with the amount of swimmers we had," he said.
"It's just a way for kids to compete against country clubs, and to sort out who's who out here, rather than having to compete against kids in the city where there's a lot more swimmers."
The Dalby Dolphins had three age champions from the day. Jessika Bliesner's efforts landed her the 16-year age champion, Jennifer Nothdurft scored 15-year age champion, while super swimmer Bryce Krause earned the nine-year age champion.
The competition did conclude on the Saturday evening, however swimmers were invited to return to the Dalby pool on Sunday for an exclusive clinic with DDRSA officials.
The winners of the whole competition will be announced at an awards ceremony in March.
Dalby won the 2019 competition by three points, and are again hoping they performed well enough to secure a second win.