Sixteen-year-old Kiara Simons from York has been selected to swim for Western Australia at the national State Teams Championships in Canberra next weekend.
Kiara's parents said she had worked tirelessly to win a place on the WA team and this was an important stepping stone towards the peak of competition swimming in Australia. Kiara's story is typical of elite sportspeople from regional WA doing it just that bit tougher than their city counterparts to get to the top.
"Kiara often leaves York at 4am to be at training in Perth before sunrise," her mother Liesl said. "She is highly disciplined and makes huge personal sacrifices to focus on her sporting goals."
Although Kiara's parents, Liesl and Ian, are her biggest fans and support her in every way possible, her mother stressed that they have never pressured her to succeed in swimming.
"Ian and I have helped however possible but Kiara's success is due to her own tremendous passion for the sport and her incredible motivation and personal drive," Liesl said.
She went to school in York and Northam until it became essential to attend specialised training almost daily in Perth.
"Perth College has been amazing with its support for Kiara and we were able to arrange partial boarding so she can attend daily training without sacrificing her school studies," Liesl said.
Kiara's efforts were rewarded last week with sponsorship from Amanzi Swimwear which, her mother says, will help enormously.
"Elite sports can be very expensive, especially for country residents, and it's great that Amanzi is providing financial support for junior sports stars like Kiara," her mother said.
Kiara is learning to drive and works part-time at Settlers House restaurant in York to save for her first car. Her mother said she often drives the family car back from Perth as part of her driver training requirements and is clocking up country kilometres faster than most teenagers!
As well as a gruelling training regime, Kiara eats a carefully planned diet and builds up her body strength with regular gym work.
The national short course swimming championships, run in a 25m pool, are held from October 4 to 6 October. Afterwards, Kiara will focus on training for long course events in 50m pools. She is a long distance specialist and the 200m breastroke is her powerhouse race.