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08 January 2020
By LOTTE REITER
Warracknabeal swimming sensation Lily Eldridge has set her sights on a new national personal best after securing qualifying times at a state event.
The 16-year-old competed in six individual events and three relays with her Bendigo East Swimming Club team-mates at the Victorian State Age Swimming Championships in Melbourne.
She finished with two podium placements – third in 16-year-old 200-metre breaststroke and second in 16-year-old 100-metre breaststroke – a new personal best and cinched her place at the Australian Age Nationals in Perth in April.
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Her competing at the national event will be her second year in a row, after she made a top-20 time in 100-metre breaststroke at the championships last year.
Lily said she hoped to beat that personal best and get into the top 15 for her age and stroke in 2020.
“It’s a really tough competition, but it’s good; it was a good experience last year,” she said.
“I’m happy I was able to achieve my goals that I was aiming for at the state championships. Now I’ll just ramp up and start harder training.”
Lily, who trains about six times a week, will also receive professional mentorship from Ballarat long-distance runner Steve Moneghetti this year after earning a place in a School Sport Victoria mentorship program.
She said her School Sport Victoria scholarship in 2019 allowed her to apply for the program, where she was chosen out of hundreds of applicants in a variety of sports across the state.
“The mentors that were chosen got to pick which kids they wanted to mentor,” she said.
“It involves the kids speaking to their mentor four times over the year and they give advice and help us out with our sport and how to deal with the mental side of things.”
Lily’s mum, Kelly Ough, said she was happy to see her daughter make nationals again.
She said Lily’s hard work and determination had enabled her to get this far, particularly when she was living in a remote rural area.
“People don’t realise just how tough swimming is,” she said.
“With swimming, you need to continue to work harder than most sports just to qualify for the events. And it’s more difficult for Lily living in Warracknabeal – in the winter months we have to travel to Horsham each day and to Bendigo once a week so she can train.
“You’ve really got to earn your spot. She has done amazingly well to achieve this.”
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