By Greg Allen-Pretty
5 March 2023
Based on his current top form, hopes are high for Traralgon swimmer Ashley Nicholes to find more success at the Victorian Age Long Course Championships on the Labour Day long weekend.
The 16 year old has been winning Gold, breaking records and smashing his own PBs all season.
At the recent Gippsland Championships in Sale, Ash was crowned Male Champion after winning 8 gold medals, 7 silver and 1 bronze. He broke 2 Gippsland records and 3 event records.
Prior to that, Ash excelled at the Victorian Sprint Championships in Melbourne. His coach at the Traralgon Swimming Club, Dean Gooch, said he has been winning Gold against the best in the state.
“He was fortunate enough to have a really good preparation in the short course season… he won the 50, 100 and 200 Freestyles,” Dean said. “And the goal has always been to do the same in the long course season.”
“But I think the best thing for Ash would be to take another step up from his current times and see if he can drop even more times in a week, which is a big goal.
“He’s broken a couple of PBs. So he’s gone 23 seconds for the 50 Freestyle now. The goal would be to go 23 low, which would be the big one, and see if we can knock off a couple of seconds in that 100 Freestyle. To get himself down to 51 or even 50 would be ideal before Nationals.”
Beyond the state championships are the 2023 Australian Age Swimming Championships in April on the Gold Coast. Dean and Ash really have their sights set on that, with Ash working very hard to qualify to compete against the best in the nation.
“I’m feeling very confident because of the work I have done,” Ashley said.
“I’ve joined the ‘pain train’… eight training sessions and three gym sessions a week.
“It all comes down to the training I do before those meets,” Ash said.
Leading up the state and national age championships, Ash says he has been doing a three-month block of “a lot of load”.
“Upping it from 200s to 400s in kilometres of training and things like that.”
How far can Ash go in his swimming? “The sky’s the limit,” said coach Dean.
“There’s never a ceiling for a young man like Ash. It really just depends on how badly he wants it… and he wants it really bad!
“If he continues to progress and continues to keep up his level of commitment and training until he is 18, he would be very close to making a junior Olympic team or even one of the Australian teams over the next three or four years.
“We’ll see how far he can get at trials next year – an Olympic year – so that’s going to be a lot of fun for Ash, to be able to race against the really big boys.
“He can have a really good look at the next level up, giving him a good 12 month preparation before he becomes an Open athlete.
“The next 4-year preparation after that will be really big for Ash. That’s the one where he’ll be wanting to push for an Open selection in a team.”
CLICK TO LISTEN TO FULL INTERVIEW WITH DEAN AND ASH – for a 16 year old, Ash has tremendous maturity and a sharp focus, and an amazing amount of support from his mother. Their interview with Greg Allen is a must-listen.
“Ash is a pleasure to coach,” Dean said.
“I can honestly say that I really enjoy coming to work, to work with Ash.
“He motivates people around him because he’s just got that drive to get better.
“As a coach, I want to get better to make sure that he gets better.
“That’s the coach-athlete relationship.
“So I’m really enjoying that with Ash, and seeing him grow physically and mentally over the last three or four years is really exciting.
“The sky’s the limit for this young man,” Dean said.