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As Australia’s swimming elite prepare for Olympic Games trials in Adelaide from Saturday, one 14 year old Gippsland swimmer is working towards a similar dream one day.
Teddy Ripper has been winning medals and achieving personal bests at a Victorian state level and his latest achievement is to gain selection in the School Sport Victoria Under 14 squad, representing his school Gippsland Grammar at the School Sport Australia national titles in Brisbane.
Teddy, who is a member of Sale Swimming Club, is currently in fine form boasting a new-found level of determination to be the best swimmer he can.
Dropping more than 11 seconds off his 200m breaststroke at the 2021 Victorian Age Championships, Teddy swam 2:41:56 to take the silver medal. His previous personal best time for this event was 2:53.14.
At the same championships he came third in the Boys 13 100m Breaststroke, stripping 1.11 seconds to record another personal best swim.
The Year 8 student broke a 50m breaststroke record cat Gippsland Grammar’s swimming carnival earlier in the year. He swam it in 36.22s, securing him the age champion medal. The previous Gippsland Grammar record was set by Chance Doultree with a time of 37.31s in 2016.
Teddy’s mum Miriam Ripper said swimming had always been part of his life.
“I was that mum, taking him to lessons once a week since he was six-months-old. He began swimming competitively when he was in Grade 3,” Miriam said.
“He does have a love and passion for it.”
As well as gaining a place in the School Sport Victoria team at the national titles in August, Teddy has also qualified for Swimming Victoria’s Junior Talent Squad, providing an integrated performance pathway within the state and on the national and international stage.
Gippsland Grammar teacher Simone Langshaw, who is also a School Sport Victoria representative, said she had enjoyed watching Teddy develop over the years.
“Teddy has become a very accomplished and competitive swimmer, building on his strength and skill set, and it is great to see,” Simone said.
“I am really excited for him. This opportunity is something he has been working towards for a couple of years.”
Simone will also be at the School Sport Australia Championships as manager of the Victorian girls’ 13-19 year old squad.
Simone began her swimming career in a similar way to Teddy, competing with the Sale Swimming Club. Her secondary school years were kick-started with sporting scholarships to Lauriston Girls’ School in Melbourne, and later Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in New Zealand, before she returned ‘home’ to finish Years 9 to 12 at Gippsland Grammar.
She went on to complete a Sports Science degree and then coach at Nunawading Swimming Club, helping to develop every stage of swimming, from ‘Learn to Swim’ through to Australian teams.
Simone co-ordinates the swimming program at Gippsland Grammar St Anne’s Campus.
In the lead up to the Australian School titles, Teddy’s training will ramp up to 6-8 times a week. He will also join the squad once a month to build comradery and fine tune team techniques.
As a member of the Victorian Under 14 Boys squad, Teddy could compete in any event including individual, medley and relay events but he says he is “up for it”.
He is excited about representing his School and wearing the Victorian colours at the National School Championships.
“There is a lot of water to be swam … but it is perfectly reasonable to have big goals,” mother Miriam said.
“The bonus is, at this level, people start to know who he is.”