Best in South Australia
It was the first major event hosted at Mount Gambier’s Wulanda recreation and Convention Centre and it definitely made a splash with the Mount Gambier Swimming Club being adjudged the 2023 Sport SA Event of the Year for its hosting of the SA Country Swimming Championships held in January this year.
Held only 16 days after the soft opening of the centre, club president Lauren Oxlade said it had been a leap of faith to commit to hosting the 2023 championships before the facility was even completed.
“That was the biggest challenge,” Lauren said. “We had to have the courage to commit and then ask people for money and support for an event there was questions about whether it would go ahead let alone be as successful as it was.
“It took courage from the small but dedicated committee, as well as commitment and belief from our sponsors to sign up without a guaranteed venue and we are so grateful.”
Initially in a category with the newly minted World’s Best Golf Event of the Year 2023 – the LIV Golf Event at Grange Golf Club – the Mount Gambier Swimming Club was announced as the Community Event of the Year with the LIV roadshow securing Major Event of the Year.
“We were very excited to win,” Lauren said. “It is one thing to be recognised in your own sport but to be considered the best of all events across South Australian and the amazing events that have been held here in the past year is something else.”
The SA Country Swimming Championships attracted more than 430 swimmers from South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales, as well as support crew and spectators, the four-day event was estimated to have brought more than $1 million into the local economy.
Club president Lauren Oxlade said the opening night saw the rare occurrence of swimmers competing concurrently in the 50m outdoor pool, as well as the 25m indoor pool, while a highlight was Olympic and World Championships medallist Madi Wilson speaking to swimmers and invited guests about her journey to success.
The criteria for the Event of the Year includes the impact and benefits for the community, as well as the extent, impact, and significance of the contribution to the event to SA sport.
The club has since hosted a short course competition in September with the Wulanda facilities clearly setting Mount Gambier apart as an event destination.
“We know from our feedback that some people came to the short course event because they were at the country championships and chose to come back because of the great experience they had,” Lauren said.
The Mount Gambier Swimming Club has a South East Swimming Association event, including Penola, Keith and Blue Lake Y swimmers, as well as their own, on Sunday, November 26 and then on February 11 next year will be hosting an open carnival.
“We are going to get really good numbers to the open carnival as well given it is basically the last qualifiers for the State Championships,” Lauren said.
Following the success of the 2023 event, the club has made a bid to host the Country Championships again in 2025 and is hoping the result of that bid will be announced soon..
The Mount Gambier Swimming Club has seen its membership swell to 60 swimmers and to get involved you can head to their website or social media platforms for more details.