Facing a legend
By STEVE SPINKS
MOST 12-year-olds usually get to see their sporting heroes on television.
But one Lennox Head swimmer got to go head-to-head with her idol, not once, but twice in the pool recently.
Keatyn Simpson, about to enter high school this year at Southern Cross K-12 in Ballina, entered the Open 50 metre breaststroke at the Queensland Titles in Brisbane just hoping to do a personal best time.
On arrival at the aquatic centre, Simpson picked up the program, turned to her heat and found herself in the same race as World Champion and Olympic medallist Leisal Jones.
"She looked at the program and said 'Oh, my god'," laughed Keatyn's mother, Merryn Simpson.
But to the young breaststroker's credit, she didn't back down.
Simpson flew down the pool in her heat swim and did enough to make the final.
Once again in the final the youngster didn't back down.
She finished seventh in a personal best time of 34.51 seconds, behind the winner Jones.
While waiting for the final, Simpson even had the confidence to ask Jones to pose for a photograph (see Page 32 today).
Not long after, Jones ? maybe sensing that Simpson is an up-and-comer hoping to knock her off as Australia's premier breaststroker ? accidentally clocked the Lennox Head swimmer in the head while warming up.
Jones was windmilling her arms around and Simpson inadvertently walked into Jones' space.
"She said she was really sorry," laughed Keatyn.
The final capped off a remarkable week for the Lennox Head Swim Club member.
At the NSW Age Championships, Simpson won the Under-12 100 metre breaststroke in 1:16.03 and then claimed the double with a victory in the 200 metres race in 2:46.
She then flew directly to Brisbane to compete in the Queensland Titles.
Not only did she make the final in the Open 50 metre breaststroke against Jones, but she also picked up a silver medal in the Under-12 100 metre breaststroke.
Simpson was beaten by a swimmer from Hong Kong, so she can lay claim to be the fastest breaststroker for her age in NSW and Queensland.
Maybe the phrase keeping up with the Jones' will be changed to keeping up with the Simpsons if Keatyn manages to upset Leisal.