By Ian Hanson
SYDNEY, April 14. WESTERN Australian schoolboy Travis Nederpelt, who has his sights set on one day becoming an Olympic swim star, has claimed the title as Australian swimming's "Mr. Versatile" after winning his sixth gold medal of the Australian Age Swimming Championships, which concluded at Sydney's Manly Dam today.
Nederpelt, from the City of Perth club, won the 16 years 5000 metres Australian Age Open Water title in 1 hour 02 minutes 24 seconds – adding to the five pool championships he had won over the previous five days at the Sydney Aquatic Centre.
His pool feats came in the 100 and 200m breaststroke, the 200m individual medley, the 200m butterfly and the 1500m freestyle – an amazing cross of all strokes and distances, before turning his talents to the open water.
It also followed his outstanding performamces at the recent Telstra Australian Open Championships where he won gold in the 800m freestyle and finished fourth to Grant Hackett in the 1500m freestyle and eighth to Ian Thorpe in the 400 metres.
Today even Travis, who is one of nine children, conceded he was starting to feel a little bit tired after his arduous week, but he is not quite ready to head back to the west with his gold medal haul just yet.
"I'm actually leaving for the Gold Coast tomorrow to contest the Australian Open five kilometre title at Bond University this Saturday with my brother Jarrad," Nederpelt said.
"While my main concentration will be on the pool events for the future, I like the open water. It's a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to swimming on the Gold Coast."
In next Saturday's five kilometre Australian Open Water Championship and World Championship and Pan Pac Championship selection Trial, he will have to contend with the might of four-time Australian iron man champion and 1998 5000m World Open Water silver medallist Ky Hurst and experienced international World Championship competitors Mark Saliba, Leigh Bool and Josh Santacaterina.
Nederpelt is almost certain to win selection on the Australian team for this year's Oceania Championships to be conducted in Noumea in June, with his immediate sights set on improving his 1500m time and hopefully one day earning a place on the Australian Olympic team.
Coached by Bernie Mulroy and Gary Shaw at City of City club, he was a finalist in the 1500m at this year's Australian Open Championships clocking 15.38.21 and won the 1500m title at the Age Group Championships in 15.45.29.
Australian Swimming attracted over 180 swimmers and almost 1000 people to the Manly Dam for their most successful Australian Age Open Water Championships.
The boys event proved to be a trifecta for the City of Perth Club, with Nederpelt leading the field home ahead of his teammates Aaron Holding (who was second to Nederpelt in the 16 years age group in 1:02.30) and David Cox (who won gold in the 17-18 years age group in 1:02.31).
The Western Australian clubs, West Coast, City of Perth, Fremantle Port and Swan Hills have all recorded outstanding performances during the week.
West Coast, with Grant Stoelwinder in charge, finished third in the overall pointscore, behind Queensland powerhouses Chandler and Redcliffe Leagues Lawnton.
City of Perth, with Nederpelt their MVS, finished a close up fourth and Fremantle Port and Swan Hills were not far outside the top ten.
In the women's event it was Newcastle's Charnell Crossingham (Vikings) who won overall, winning the 17-18 years age group ahead of Marisa Oppedisano (Melbourne Vicentre) and World Championship butterflyer Nicole Hunter (Tattersalls Aquatic, Hobart).
AUSTRALIAN AGE SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS, 5000M, Manly Dam, finals:
17-18 years: D Cox (City of Perth, WA) 1:02.31 1, B Cappell (Commercial, Qld) 2, A Beato (Toongabbie, NSW) 3.
16 years: T Nederpelt (City of Perth, WA) 1:02.24 1, A Holding (City of Perth, WA) 2, D Stamp (Unattached) 3.
15 years: P Haseman (Redcliffe Leagues Lawnton, Qld) 1:06.10 1, H Jackson (Unattached) 2, M Papaioannou (Aquabears Vic) 3.
14 years: N Watkins (Unattached) 1:08.32 1, T Gorman (Redcliffe Leagues Lawnton, Qld) 2, D Browne (St Peters Western, Qld) 3.
13 years: L Palmer (Redcliffe Leagues Lawnton, Qld) 1:10.46 1, T Grimsey (Albany Creek, Qld) 2, A McDiarmid (Miami, Qld) 3.
GIRLS (no times available)
17-18 years: C Crossingham (Vikings, NSW) 1, M Oppedisano (Melbourne Vicentre, VIC) 2, N Hunter (Tattersalls Hobart Aquatic, TAS) 3.
16 years: M Gorman (Redcliffe Leagues Lawnton, Qld) 1, N McElroy (Campbelltown, NSW) 2, F Fairbairn (Auburn, NSW) 3.
15 years: C Abbott (SAC Seals, NSW) 1, N Flood (Warringah Aquatic, NSW) 2, A Chatfield (Tourist, Qld) 3.
14 years: R Brown (West Coast WA) 1, K Cherry (Redcliffe Leagues Lawnton Qld) 2, L Redgrove (Tattersalls Hobart Aquatics, TAS) 3.
13 years:R Mitchell (West Coast, WA) 1, H Burton (Uniswim Ballarat, Vic) 2, N Zanetic (Macquarie Fields, NSW) 3.