Olympians guide Lismore teen swimmer to third place
OLYMPIC open-water swimming champions, including Sam Sheppard, helped guide youngsters around the course after conditions deteriorated at the National Open Water Championships in Adelaide on the weekend.
But despite rough waves and strong winds, Lismore Workers Swim Team (LWST) athlete Abbie Yourell, 13, was in good form and beat many boys in the mixed race for 12 to 14-year-olds.
The talented swimmer, who is also a member of the Evans Head-Casino SLSC, completed the 3km JX race in a time of 52.10.39 minutes.
She finished third against the girls and seventh overall.
Her strong result in Adelaide could mean that she could switch her focus from pool events to the open water.
The Adelaide course was changed at the last minute to four laps of a 750m stretch of Brighton Beach in the South Australian capital.
“It was exciting to be swimming with the Olympic guides,” Abbie said.
“The water was so choppy we could not see the next buoys so they helped keep us on course and slowed down so we could keep up with them.”
Abbie said coming seventh overall was “very satisfying.”
“Now I’m hoping to do more open-water swims,” she said.
Her LWST coach, Peter Harvey, said Abbie’s results in Adelaide were “fantastic,” as it’s the nation’s pinnacle open-water swimming event and showcased the country’s top and emerging open-water swimming talent.
“Abbie is 13 and was competing against girls and boys much older and bigger,” he said.
“It’s a shame the JX event was a non-championship event.
“Abbie qualified for this race and was a last-minute entry as she missed the NSW State titles as they were cancelled due to bushfires.
“If she decides after this to concentrate on ocean swims rather than the pool, then her whole training regime will be changing.”
This weekend, Abbie will be heading north to Cudgen Beach for the Country State SLS titles.