Axl Pope from King Creek gets ready for the NSW state swimming champs

Axl Pope aims to make a splash this week.
Axl Pope aims to make a splash this week.

Eight-year-old Axl Pope from King Creek has had a successful school swimming carnival season.

He places first in 50 metres freestyle, first in Junior Boy 8-10 years 50 metres backstroke, first in Junior Boy breast stroke, first in Junior Boy butterfly, first in Junior Boy 200 metres IM and second in open 100 metre freestyle, and won Wauchope Public School 8-10 years Junior Boy Champion.

Axl then went on to compete at the district carnival in Port Macquarie.

He again placed first in 50 metres freestyle, first in 50 metres Junior Boy 8-10 years breast stroke, first in Junior Boy 50 metres butterfly, second in Junior Boy backstroke, second in Junior Boy relay and first in Junior Boy 200 metre IM.

He also brought home another trophy for the Hastings District 8-10 years Junior Boy Champion.

This qualified Axl in all his events to compete in Kempsey for the lower north coast Primary School Sports Association, where he flew home to place first in 50 metres freestyle, first in Junior Boy 8-10 years 50 metres butterfly, second in Junior Boy 50 metre backstroke, 2nd in Junior Boy relay and first in Junior boy 200 metre IM.

Axl was crowned lower north coast PSSA 8-10 years Junior Boy Champion.

Last month, while competing against the best of the north coast at the new Tweed Aquatic centre in Murwillumbah, Axl placed first in all his Junior Boy heats and an impressive 2nd in his 50 metres freestyle finals, doing notable personal bests in all events, and securing himself a spot in the NSWPSSA state swimming championships to be held at Sydney Olympic park stadium in Homebush this Wednesday April 11.

Axl swam in this event last year and developed a hunger for competitive swimming; his coaches Janette Oliver and Donna Fiorenza from Vicki’s swim centre Port Macquarie having been working consistently with Axl and are pleased with the progress the young swim star is making.

It’s all fun and games to Axl and that’s how his parents intend to keep it for now.

When asked at events how much training he does, people are always surprised to hear he only trains once maybe twice a week, compared to his competitors that at eight-years-old, already follow an intense training program.

“If Axl wants to take up more swimming we will support him but for now, the strong youngster is just enjoying the fun, fitness and friendships that being involved in sport brings,” said his mother, Renate Hanimair.

There is a passion for the water that extends beyond swimming for Axl; when he’s not in the pool, Axl is enjoying other water sports along the mid north coast like surfing, kayaking and fishing.

For a child that is hardly indoors, he has spent the past week glued to the television watching all events of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and is pulling inspiration from the swimming events for his upcoming state championships.

When Ian Thorpe visited Port Macquarie last year, Axl had the opportunity to talk to the world champion about race preparation and was thrilled to have his cap signed by him.

Axl swims with this cap during his swim meets as his good luck omen. So with his cap firmly in place, we wish the little racer all the best on Wednesday!

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