Top enders battle to be top dogs

Published on LSPT Paul Somerville-Ryan (author), ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Coonawarra, NT

Topic(s): Sport, HMAS Coonawarra

HMAS Coonawarra swimming carnival at Larrakeyah Barracks (photo: ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez)
HMAS Coonawarra swimming carnival at Larrakeyah Barracks

HMAS Coonawarra, Dawin-based ships and resident units compete throughout the year to earn points towards the Top End Shield trophy and bragging rights as Darwin's elite sporting team.
As the end of the year draws near, record breaking participation was seen during the October events as the teams scrambled for points.
The annual Coonawarra Swimming Carnival involved six teams, including all Coonawarra resident units, the Transit Security Element and Headquarters Northern Command.
It was the first opportunity for personnel to take a break from the 'build up' and cool off with some healthy competition and teamwork, with some of the highlights of the day including the 'Heads of Department Divisional Dive' and the 'Pony race'.
At the end of the meet, Fleet Support Unit – North, were victorious at the top of the podium and 'Swimmer of the Meet' was awarded to super-fish Able Seaman Terry Chambers.
The swimming carnival is the Top End Shield event that Coonawarra's Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Phillipa Hay, looks forward to most each year.
"Being the Navy, we have a lot of members who have great water skills as well as many who take their health and fitness very seriously," she said.
"Combined with the fact that loyalty is one of Navy's core values, it stands to reason that the swimming carnival can be a very competitive event.
"The competition is always good-natured, and the day ends up being a fun way to get some relief from the Darwin heat and building camaraderie," Lieutenant Commander Hay said.
The next event was the mixed netball, held in air-conditioned comfort at the Defence Establishment Berrimah Gymnasium.
Being the second last sport of the year, this event was pivotal for units to gain maximum points towards the Top End Shield, with a total of eight teams competing in a strong competition that ultimately saw HMAS Armidale defeating Fleet Logistical Support Element-Darwin in a tense final. 
Sports Officer, Chief Petty Officer Michael Turner, recognises the value of sporting competition for Navy personnel.
"It is very important that all personnel take some time out from busy schedules and engage in physical activity – the health benefits are endless," Chief Petty Officer Turner said.
"Participation in the Top End Shield gives Navy members in Darwin the chance to get away from their day-to-day workspaces and to clear their mind and connect with officers and sailors from other departments."
With only one event remaining in 2015 – basketball – only four points separate the first and second placed teams.
A fantastic finale is anticipated.