Swimming for the Top End Shield

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Des Paroz (author), LSIS James Whittle (photographer)

Location(s): Larrakeyah Barracks, NT

Topic(s): Swimming, HMAS Coonawarra

Able Seaman Communications and Information System Breanna Davidson of HMAS Coonawarra competes in the Female 100 meter women's freestyle event at the HMAS Coonawarra Top End Shield Swimming Carnival held at Larrakeyah Barracks, Darwin. (photo: LSIS James Whittle)
Able Seaman Communications and Information System Breanna Davidson of HMAS Coonawarra competes in the Female 100 meter women's freestyle event at the HMAS Coonawarra Top End Shield Swimming Carnival held at Larrakeyah Barracks, Darwin.

As southern states emerged from winter, the sailors, soldiers and marines located in Darwin enjoyed a tropical October day for the annual Top End Shield Swimming Carnival.

Hosted by HMAS Coonawarra, the carnival involved teams from Coonawarra, Headquarters Northern Command, the US Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, Fleet Logistic Support Element – Darwin and Fleet Support Unit – North.

Coonawarra’s Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Phillipa Hay, was enthusiastic about the success of the carnival.

“We saw a diverse display of dynamic aquatic athleticism, ranging from individuals who are not competitive swimmers through to some elite athletes,” Lieutenant Commander Hay said.

“This event is very unifying – not just with our Navy shipmates, but also with colleagues from Army and the US Marines.”

The carnival featured traditional individual and team events, along with some unique events designed by the organisers – Chief Petty Officer Michael Turner and Leading Seaman Michelle Bush, Coonawarra’s Physical Training Instructors.

“Some of the non-traditional events were based on skills required for survival at sea, including ‘swim and tow’ and ‘swim and retrieve shuttle’ events,” Chief Petty Officer Turner said.

“Others were designed for fun, such as the eight person ‘Jersey Relay’ and six person ‘Pony Relay’, where each member swam a length of the pool riding a pool noodle.”

“Coupled with traditional team and individual events, the whole day was all about promoting a healthy lifestyle and friendly rivalry with our colleagues.”

Coonawarra’s Executive Department was the overall winner of the shield, with members taking first place in seven of the events.

The Best Male and Best Female competitors were Major John Ferriter and Sergeant Mandaline Hatch – both representing the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin.

Sergeant Hatch was noted for having been the most prolific swimmer on the day, competing in individual events as well as every team event that required a female competitor.

“It was a very fun day and a great opportunity to compete alongside our friends from the Australian Defence Force,” Major Ferriter said.

“To compete in the home of the ‘Australian Crawl’ really capped off a great six month rotation, exemplifying the friendships that have been built throughout our time in the Top End.”