No pool, no problem as four of remote Weilmoringle Primary School’s five pupils make the NSW state school swimming finals

No pool, no problem as four of remote Weilmoringle Primary School’s five pupils make the NSW state school swimming finals
  • PublishedApril 14, 2024

When the Weilmoringle Public School swim team trains, it has to travel more than 200 kilometres to the nearest pool.

So it’s much easier to use the Culgoa River that flows through town.

“Muddy and sticks and all,” is how student Kaydence Samuels describes it. 

Weilmoringle is a remote community of 72 about 130 kilometres north-east of Bourke in north-western New South Wales. 

Several young children swim in a brown coloured river
The muddy Culgoa River that runs through Weilmoringle is the team’s training centre.(Supplied: Weilmoringle Public School.)

The primary school, one of the two major buildings in town, has five students — four of them make up the swim team (the fifth is still learning to swim).

Despite the distance from a pool, all four qualified for the state public school swimming championships in Sydney on Thursday and Friday. 

The quad squad of Kaydence, D’Mitri Samuels, Tyne Brown and Jamarh Hart travelled 650 kilometres to get to the Sydney Olympic Aquatic Centre for their relay race, first taking a bus to Dubbo then a flight to the big smoke.

Principal Robyn Watson says swimming at a large venue is a big opportunity for her students and relatives, many also making the trip to Sydney. 

“It’s a very very exciting event for the students and for the whole community here,” Ms Watson said. 

But just a week out from the event, a cruel twist threatened to keep the team from the water. 

Fighting the current

There’s no formal swim routine in the river but its natural challenges give the team something to work with, Ms Watson says. 

“They swim against the current, so that gives them the strength,” Ms Watson said. 

Sometimes the river doesn’t flow and they head to a water hole for weekend swim training.

“We have 35 water holes between here and Bourke, so they head down to one of the big water holes and go for it,” Ms Watson.

The team would have liked some last-minute extra sessions in the nearest pool at Brewarrina, but it only opens between October and the end of March.

Late injury threatens 

Just a week out from the swim meet, Ryne came off his bike and broke his wrist. 

Ms Watson says there were tears around the community. She phoned the school director in Tamworth to break the devastating news.

They stuck with the plan for the whole team to travel to Sydney and see the swimming centre as the flights were booked.

A boy wearing a pink swim cap dives into the water at an olympic swimming pool
Jamarh jumps in for the anchor leg. (ABC Radio Sydney: Declan Bowring)

As luck would have it, the Public School Swimming Association was able to recruit a substitute from another school in the region to fill in as the fourth swimmer.

Thanks to the late substitution, the Weilmoringle team are able to compete in the small schools relay. 

“From such a disappointment, it’s turned into a win-win situation for us all,” Ms Watson said.

A young girl takes a breath while swimming freestyle in an Olympic pool.
Kaydence swims the first leg of the mixed 4x50m relay. (ABC Radio Sydney: Declan Bowring)

Support that could be heard underwater

More than 20 people from Weilmoringle travelled to support the relay team, a turnout close to a third of the community’s population.

There are 1500 students competing, but screams of “go Weil!” filled the aquatic centre for their race on Friday. 

A group of adults cheers from seating at the top of a swimming centre stadium.
‘Go Weil!’ rings out in the stands as supporters make sure the swimmers hear them for the whole race.(ABC Radio Sydney: Oscar Wills)

After the race Kaydence says she could hear the crowd cheering them on.

“Lots of voices in the water. I heard them too,” Kaydence said. 

They finished in a respectable sixth place. 

Three kids in swimming costumes wave to the crowd above a pool.
The swimmers show their appreciation for the crowd’s support.(ABC Radio Sydney: Declan Bowring)

Asked if she was proud of their effort, Ms Watson couldn’t have been more ecstatic. 

“Am I proud of their effort? I’m beside myself!” Ms Watson said.

“I can hardly talk with excitement from screaming ‘Go Weil!’.

“It’s just been so wonderful.”


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