Jump in the deep end

Determined Bendigo swimmer prepared to take on the best

WHILE most teenagers are thinking about school or what to do on the weekend, Kiara Verbeek has got bigger things on her mind.

The 13-year-old gets up for swimming training at 5.30am almost every morning.

She swims laps at the Bendigo East Swimming Pool with a small group of athletes and coach Chris Geyer.

The swimmers each have the same goal in mind, to be the best swimmer they can be.

Verbeek has only just began her swimming career, but has already made her mark on the sport. 

Last year’s Country Championships is a perfect example of her passion for competing and love of the sport.

“I was at the Country Championships last year in January and I was doing a cool down after my 100 metre freestyle final.

“I was in the diving pool and I cut my foot quite deeply on a tile.

“I was about to marshal for a relay, but I had to be replaced.

“I had to go up to casualty that night.”

Verbeek was not seen by a doctor until 2am.

“They were trying to get me to have stitches but you can’t swim with stitches,” she said.  

“They put the glue on and they kept telling me I couldn’t swim the next day, I wasn’t allowed to do anything.

“But I was always going to swim.”

Nothing was going to stop her.

On just three hours of sleep she prepared herself for the 100 metre breaststroke heat.

“I qualified fourth for the final and then I swam again and got a fourth again in the final,” she said.  

“While I was swimming I had to duct tape my foot.

“I had the dressing on it and then one of my friend’s dad’s got the duct tape and put it on my foot.”

Verbeek competed in the Victoria State Sprints three weeks later.

She won a bronze medal.

However after that event she began having trouble with her leg, the same leg she cut her foot on.

“After that I had been walking on my heel and I think that had triggered a knee injury,” Verbeek said.  

“I couldn’t swim breaststroke or kick for ages.

“I hadn’t done anything for about nine months.”

Her training was interrupted over the winter season.

She didn’t compete at all over the 2013 short-course season.

It wasn’t until November when she finally began seeing some progress in her recovery.

Her first event since her injury was the Victorian State Age Championships in December.

“I did one race and I did pretty well in that race and then the next race was a state’s race,” Verbeek said.

The Victory Christian College student placed fourth in the 100 metre final, her pet event.

She obtained a national qualifying time of 1.20.46, which means she will now travel to Sydney in April to compete against some of Australia’s best swimmers.

Verbeek said her only goal for 2013 was to achieve a national qualifying time.

“I was surprised by how fast I swam,” Verbeek said.

“I got my national time.

"That is probably one of my biggest highlights since I started swimming.

I got my national time. That is probably one of my biggest highlights since I started swimming. - Kiara Verbeek

“A national time means that I get to go to Sydney and compete against the whole of Australia.

Verbeek said her passion for the sport continued to grow each day.

Looking back, she first got a taste of what swimming had to offer when she first dived into a pool when she was just five years old.

Ever since she has been competing in swim meets across Bendigo and Victoria.

“I started off just doing swimming lessons and I had no reason to stop so I just kept going,” Verbeek said.  

“Swimming was fun, which was why I wanted to continue.

“When I came to Bendigo East Swimming Club in 2011, I decided because I was getting better at swimming that I thought I would take it a bit more seriously and make some goals and see what I can do.”

Verbeek said in her first serious year of swimming her main focus was too be a better swimmer.

Her goal was to just get her technique right and then she would be ready to take on anyone.  

“I wasn’t that competitive at that time I just wanted to swim,” Verbeek said.

After a year of training, it was time for the youngster to compete in her first swim meet.

She says she remembers her first race vividly.

“It was a swim meet in Eaglehawk,” Verbeek said.

“I am not sure what race it was.

“I had no idea where to go.

“I was nervous and didn’t know what to do.

“I just lost.”

Verbeek said she had learnt a lot from the meet, saying her nerves had inspired her to change her mindset and routine when it came to jumping off the blocks.

“I have a routine and do the same thing every time I race,” she said.  

“I try not to think too much because if you tend to think too much then you freak out a little and you don’t do as well.”

The year 8 student will this weekend compete in Wodonga at the 2014 Country Swimming Championships, the same event she hurt a foot at last year.

Verbeek will be competing in the 100 metre freestyle, 200 metre individual medley and 100 metre breaststroke.

She will be joining a contingent of 38 other Bendigo East swimmers, all looking to do well at the meet. 

She said she is looking forward to competing.  

“You train so hard for events and you just try and see if all that hard work pays off and just see how far you can go with it,” Verbeek said.  

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