EXCLUSIVE: Campbell Sisters And Ellie Cole Follow Coach Simon Cusack Back To Queensland To Prepare For Tokyo

Simon Cusack with Cate and Bronte Campbell 2
BRISBANE BOUND: Olympic coach Simon Cusack with the Campbell girls Bronte and Cate, will make Queensland their training base for Tokyo tilt. Photo Courtesy (Delly Carr) Swimming Australia.

Australia’s favourite swimming sisters, Cate and Bronte Campbell have confirmed today they will leave Sydney and return home to make Brisbane their training base to prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Trials after two successful years training in the Harbour City.

Swimming World can reveal exclusively that the golden girls of the Australian Dolphins Swim Team will be joined by their Sydney-based training partner, Paralympic golden girl Ellie Cole with the trio all electing to follow coach Simon Cusack back to Queensland.

NSWIS and Swimming NSW have supported the faces of Swimming Australia since their move with Cusack to Sydney in 2018 – swimming out of Pymble Ladies College (PLC) on Sydney’s North Shore.

Cate Campbell abd Bronte Campbell Swimming World

HOME COMING: Bronte, left, and Cate Campbell will prepapre for Tokyo in Brisbane. Photo Courtesy of Swimming Australia

Cusack has coached the Campbell girls since they first began swimming competitvely at Indooroopilly turning them into swimming’s “Sisters Of Speed” – world champions and Olympic and Commonwealth Gamers gold medallists.

It was Cusack who requested the move back to his home State of Queensland and the move has been fully supported as a National alliance.

Together with NSWIS, New South Wales Swimming, Swimming Australia and the Queensland Academy of Sport, it was agreed to support Cusack’s transfer of the NSWIS elite group and as members of the NSW Championship winning club the from the “Knox-Pymble Swim Team” on Sydney’s North Shore to the Brisbane Aquatic Centre at Chandler.

They will aim to re-ignite the program back in Brisbane on Monday, January 25–although a complete re-union may well be COVID-19 delayed – with Greater Sydney now a COVID hotspot after the outbreak reached 83 in the Avalon cluster on the Sydney Northern Beaches – a population of 250,000 now under threat of a continued lockdown through Christmas.

Cate Cambell all smiles after today's 100m free heats at the Sydney Open

SYDNEY SUCCESS: Cate Campbell all smiles in Sydney where she has called the Harbour City home for the last two years. Photo Courtesy: Swimming NSW.

Cate Campbell, 28, and preparing for a fourth Olympics, has already arrived back into Queensland, pre quarantine restrictions after delivering a swim clinic in Glen Innes in north western NSW on Saturday but Bronte and Ellie are both holed up in Sydney – unsure of their immediate plans for a border crossing from NSW into Queensland.

Twenty-six-year-old Bronte, with her sights set on a third Games in Tokyo, had also planned to be in Brisbane with her sister for Christmas but will now have to remain in Sydney in Bondi, but the 25-year-old is staying positive that she will do everything she can to be in Brisbane to start her Olympic campaign next month.

“The plan is to adjust and re-adjust. It’s a timely reminder to be in a place where it is stable because who knows whether they will keep things open down here (in Sydney),” said Campbell.

“ If it gets worse (in Sydney) who knows where this will end. It could end up where Christmas is locked down across the city…not the best but we just keep on adjusting. There will be a way (to get to Queensland) whether it’s quarantine or rural staying (training in a regional centre like Alstonville or Ballina in northern NSW, close to the Queensland border) that will get me north of the border in time to start training next year.”

ellie-cole-2015

WAVING GOODBYE TO SYDNEY: Ellie Cole will join the Campbell sisters in Brisbane Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia.

A six-time Paralympic gold medallist, Cole, was set to spend Christmas in (COVID-free) Melbourne with her parents but has had to quash those plans, after Victoria closed its borders to NSW.

Cole will likely spend Christmas on the NSW Central Coast before also putting similar travel plans in place to be in Queensland to prepare for a tilt at a fourth Paralympics.

In a statement released today The NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) said they had been working with key swimming stakeholders to ensure their athletes are best placed to compete at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2021.

“Following a challenging 2020 with border restrictions being in place, NSWIS, along with our program partners, have supported the relocation of head coach Simon Cusack and his cohort of athletes including Cate and Bronte Campbell, and Ellie Cole to Queensland to ensure their final Olympic and Paralympic preparations will be unaffected should further border closures occur,” the statement read.

“Simon will remain a Swimming NSW coach, whilst his swimmers will continue to be NSWIS scholarship athletes and be part of Team NSWIS. The squad have our full support as they continue their preparations.”

Simkon Cusack with Tony Shaw

COACH OF THE YEAR: Former ASCTA coach of the year Simon Cusack with prescient Tony Shaw, now a Board Director for Swimming Australlia. Photo Courtesy: Stephen Holland Photography (ASCTA).

Cusack was thankful for the cohesive approach from all parties with the COVID-19 pandemic at the heart of a move to ensure a smoother Olympic Trials preparation.

And he has already arrived into Brisbane with his family, saying: “Due to Covid they decided that they would re-position my squad back up to Chandler Aquatic Centre for the remainder of the Olympic preparation.

“With the effects of COVID in the middle of the year that didn’t do anyone any good and being away from family wasn’t good either.

“I guess with what has happened in Sydney and in particularly how things have changed so dramatically over the last 48 hours the timing could not be better.

“The girls will work on a program I’ve given them with some work to do up until Christmas Eve and they were will (hopefully) return (to training themselves) on January 4, before our official start on January 25.

“Cate will be up in Queensland and will do a week with Vince Raleigh (at Chandler) and Bronte will now stay in Sydney.

“Once we start in Brisbane, we will operate out of Chandler and also use the QAS facility (the 25m pool) as well as using the QAS gym which will be a huge plus.

“It was so encouraging to see Swimming NSW and NSWIS, on the back of the last two years wanting to let the program go and they wanted to see the full preparation through which was really supportive on their behalf. That support was great.”

Cusack said his girls were all able to finish off 2020 at the NSW Championships last week and they were happy to get some solid racing off finishing over with off with the 10x50m club relay wins for Knox boys and Pymble girls.

The former ASCTA coach of the Year said “Everyone is looking forward to kick-starting 2021 and it’s a monkey off our back knowing we’re not going to be disrupted if the Queensland border closes again.

“We’ve the National Event Camp up here in February and the National Club Championships on the Gold Coast in April – there was a lot of stuff we would have had to miss out on if the borders did close again. But now (hopefully) it’s all looking good….”

Bronte Campbell 2018 com games

GAMES GOLD: Bronte Campbell celebrates her Commonwealth Games gold in 2018.  Says: “It’s a credit to both the NSWIS and Queensland Academy of Sport and Swimming Australia – everyone has been great.” Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming g Australia)

And speaking on the move from Sydney to Brisbane, Bronte Campbell described it as a “six month training camp.”

“It’s a credit to both the NSWIS and Queensland Academy of Sport and Swimming Australia – everyone has been great,” said Campbell.

“I haven’t been stressed about it because everything has just been taken care of for me, everyone doing their bit working together.

“I’m not sure this could happen in any other year; all the sporting communities and swimming especially has made us a bit tighter and placed us all on the same side.

“We’ve all got something to work towards now I feel like the Olympic are about to happen again it’s all gearing up…”

But bred in Queensland, Campbell admitted after two years that: “Sydney feels like my home. As much as I’m a Queenslander around State of Origin (rugby league football) time I love Sydney, I love the people down here and NSWIS has been amazing for us.

“I’ve had a really, really good two years and I’m pretty settled down here …but its an Olympic Games year so whatever it takes to make it work.

“And we are pretty used to living on the fly, I’m not thinking about it as moving to Brisbane, for me it’s like going on an extended training camp and I’ll be back to Sydney once the Games are done.

“My boyfriend lives down here, my friends are down here, and it’s very much like my life is down in Sydney.

“But we can put things on hold until after the Olympics; we are used to organising our lives around that and we’ll just make it work.

“There is always a way to make it work; but it’s good to have something so we can hone in on the Olympics a little bit more and get out of the distractions of Sydney.

“There’s always a positive way to look at things; it’s good to have a training venue locked in and it’s good to know we are going to be able to train through to the Olympics.

“That’s really what it’s all about; that’s what we’ve been aiming for over the last 18 months, to make these Games happen and make it a good Games for us and our squad.

“It’s the last step in that you can pretty much do anything for six months… it is the Olympics after all.”

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