ROSY FUTURE: Sally Vagg proudly displays her medals she won recently.
ROSY FUTURE: Sally Vagg proudly displays her medals she won recently. Nick Kossatch GLA100818SALLY

It's been a massive year for a quick-silver Bullet swimmer

SWIMMING: A month-long break for Boyne Tannum Bullets 'swimstar' Sally Vagg will probably be long enough for her to appreciate what she has accomplished over the summer.

Sally's latest feats were nine medals - six gold, two silver and a bronze at the recent Queensland School Swimming Championship in Brisbane.

"I won gold in the 50m, 100m, 200m butterfly, the 50m and 100m freestyle and the 100m backstroke, silver in the 50m backstroke and the 4x50m Individual Medley Relay and bronze in the 4x50m freestyle relay," she said proudly.

BRILLIANT BLING: Sally Vagg must have a very strong neck to carry her nine medals she won in Brisbane.
BRILLIANT BLING: Sally Vagg must have a very strong neck to carry her nine medals she won in Brisbane. Contributed GLA020419VAGG

"Both relays included Gladstone Gladiator's Shianne Plunkett, Emerald Seal's Tegan Sprought and Rocky City's Taryn Roberts."

Sally remained humble with her success and while it seemed as no surprise that she returned home with a swag, she said to win bling was a bonus.

"Nine medals definitely exceeded my expectations, especially as most of them were gold," she said.

It was tough going and Sally described the standard of the championship.

"As always in state level competitions, the racing was very tight with the first three places usually coming down to the last stroke," she said.

On top of her medal tally, Sally also set the standard where she broke the one-minute barrier in the 100m freestyle discipline.

"Breaking the one-minute barrier was something I had been trying to achieve for almost seven months and was my major goal for this meet," she said.

"Being able to crack it twice (heat and final) is definitely what I'm extremely proud of and my overall 100m free time was 59.29sec."

Sally has worked to improve her speed and power off the blocks as well as her overall fitness so that she can finish off strong in races

"My reaction times back at December States were around 0.8sec and on the weekend, my quickest time off the blocks was 0.41sec," she said.

After her break, Sally will then start a reduced winter program to focus on technique before a more demanding training block that will prepare her for big swim meets at the end of the year.

"My long term goal is the National Age Championships in Perth next year, as I am too young to attend this year," Sally said.

Meanwhile Gladstone Gladiators guns Stephanie Elliott and Clara Furness have qualified for the nationals in Melbourne in July.

Clara picked up her first gold medal in the 200m freestyle with a time of 2:09:16min and a 2.02sec personal-best.

She also did an 8.97sec PB in the 400m freestyle in a time of 4:34:94min.

A Q and A with Bullets head coach Kate Bell

Tannum Bullets coach Kate Bell with Sally Vagg, Luella Devin and Elliah Hamono.
Tannum Bullets coach Kate Bell with Sally Vagg, Luella Devin and Elliah Hamono. Mike Richards GLA070119SWIM

You continue to bring out the best in he Bullets swimmers - what's the secret?

Oh thank you! No secret. Just a lot of hard work, patience, perspective and juggling!

I would say I work really hard in particular at trying to know who the kid is as a person, how swimming fits in their life and then making sure I create an opportunity to suit.

There's a physical 'blueprint' of what we've got to do to get to a destination but if I don't know the kid and the family then I can't lead them there.

Following that, balancing a team of people or leading a team is the next trickiest to navigate and something I think coaches always work hard at and will forever feel like am just finding my feet! Change - the one constant in life!

It must give you a great deal of satisfaction throughout the past three summers since you've arrived here?

A huge amount of satisfaction.

I know the work is not all mine, but it has been a pretty big three years.

To see things come together on so many facets is just humbling and well a relief!

It's nice to know we are on the right track, but I also think as a coach we make a life out of always thinking what next? How can we? What needs to be done better? Always feels a constant work in progress.

We don't always stop to think about that so.

Apart from Sally, who else have been he biggest improvers?

Oh wow, in line with first question, I always always find this sort of question incredibly hard to answer and by what are we defining biggest or in what area are we choosing improvement?

I have so many different reasons and journeys amongst swimmers in my lanes I feel it is an oversight to pick.

I guess a few that come to forefront is probably a little eight-year-old Madi McKenna we have coming through.

Fourteen-year-old Con McMahon who is only just now, after three years starting to see decent change and speed improvement.

Kleo Brilliant, 16, who a year ago, had never done a squad session and is now swimming all four strokes smoothly and getting through senior sessions comfortably and even doing some LTS teaching.

Luella Devir, 13, who raced multiple events at States in December and Tom Vagg, 14, who only started so he didn't have to sit bored on day of swim meets while his sister swam and is now swimming at state level in a short time of consistent training.

The 11-year-old Devir twins, Max and Charlie Devir, who end of last season told me they might have a break, but who have come back, gone up a squad, training with huge enthusiasm and are setting sights on state sprints times.

It's to name a few if I must.



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