Bunbury swimmers head to Australian Swimming Trials to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics

Alex Saffy, Kaiden Richings and Kara Svenson will head to the 2021 Australian Swimming Trials in June to compete to be selected in the 2021 Summer Olympics Australian team in Tokyo.
Alex Saffy, Kaiden Richings and Kara Svenson will head to the 2021 Australian Swimming Trials in June to compete to be selected in the 2021 Summer Olympics Australian team in Tokyo.

THREE Bunbury swimmers will head to Adelaide in June to have their shot at qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Set to be held at the Aquatic and Leisure Centre in Oaklands Park, South Australia, the 2021 Australian Swimming Trials will run from June 12 to June 17 with swimmers from all over Australia competing to be nominated for the Olympic swim team.

To compete in the trials, swimmers were required to achieve various qualifying times since January 1, 2019.

Amongst the competitors will be Bunbury Swimming Club swimmers Alex Saffy, Kaiden Richings and Kara Svenson.

After taking a two year break from the sport, 20-year-old Svenson has returned to swimming and will compete in the 200 metre butterfly at the trials, which required a qualifying time for women of two minutes, 20 seconds.

"It's definitely taken a while to get back into but I'm getting there slowly. I used to be a breaststroker but as soon as I tried the 200 fly I really liked it and actually went alright. That's how I found out it was my main event," Svenson said.

Svenson started swimming at the age of 11 and is now part of the club as a swimmer and a coach.

She said swimming had opened a lot of doors for her career, including the opportunity to be selected for the Olympics.

"Every swimmer has some sort of goal to make a team so it'd be really awesome to be selected. My goal this year is to try and get back to where I was, and to make the top eight. This will hopefully put me on the right track for next year."

Alongside Svenson at the trials will be 15-year-old Saffy who has been swimming for over ten years.

Saffy will compete in 400 metre freestyle, 100 metre freestyle, 100 metre butterfly and 200 metre individual medley.

He said to be able to qualify at the trials, swimmers had to make the top two within a certain time to make the Olympic team.

"It'd be awesome to be selected, but this year I'm going for the experience. I want to focus more on the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris when I'm 18," Saffy said.

Seventeen-year-old Richings relocated to Bunbury after first commuting from Bridgetown for training three to four times a week.

With more than a handful of titles behind him, the trials will see him compete in the 1500 metre freestyle, which in order to qualify had to be swum in 16 minutes (male time).

"I've been training in the Bunbury Swimming Club Performance Squad since I was 13. I like working hard and pushing myself to get better. Racing is great because of how satisfying it is when you make a good time, it means all the hard work is paying off," Richings said.

Richings is a year 12 student at Manea Senior High School and said he was most interested in studying physical education as it had shown him how the human body worked during sport as well as how the body could perform at it's best.

Despite being a 'long shot' to be a selected, Richings said he would be proud to be selected for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

"It'd mean a lot to race for my country, as well as to represent my family, my friends and the Bunbury Swimming Club. I'm going to do the best I can."

Bunbury Swimming Club Coach Elisha Hunt said Svenson, Saffy and Richings heading to the trials was great for the club as they were an inspiration for other swimmers to look up to.

"It's going to be an awesome experience for them and a chance to compete against other states and swimmers they don't normally race," Hunt said.

Hunt said in terms of swimming, a block of training for each swimmer was four years at a time and that preparation for any sport event took a number of years.

"When we get the chance to race at a national level, it's very important that we take that opportunity because this will be what brings out the best in all three of them. The trials will give a good indication of what we need to work on as well as where they are doing well and where they are not."

The 2020 Summer Olympics will be held in Tokyo July 23 to August 8, 2021 with the Paralympic Games due to take place between August 24 and September 5.

The Olympic Team swimmers will be announced on June 17.