When Auburn athlete Ricky Betar travels to London to compete at the World Para Swimming Championships in September, he’ll relish the chance to represent his country for the first time.
After a string of solid performances at this year’s Hancock Prospecting Australia Swimming Championships – including breaking an INAS world record for the 50m freestyle (S14) – the 15-year-old was selected as one of 34 members on the Dolphins squad.
Including Betar, nine of those members are debutants and hailed as our ‘New Kids on the Blocks’.
Speaking to Swimming Australia at the warm weather training camp in Cairns, Betar said it will be a “special” feeling to pull on the green and gold for the inaugural time.
“It’s pretty special to me to represent my country,” he said six weeks out from the world para champs.
“Making the team would be proudest moment of my career so far,” he added.
“I’m really looking forward to travelling to London and competing, it’s the competition that I love.”
A freestyle and backstroke specialist, Betar will take to the pool for five events, including the 200m individual medley, 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 200m freestyle and a relay.
Training under Clinton Camilleri in Sydney, the young athlete is one three Auburn swimmers to make the team, with Tim Hodge and Jenna Jones also securing their seat to London. Having trained under Camilleri for two years, Betar says his coach inspires him to be the finest swimmer he can be.
“He tries to get to know who you are and tries to do anything that makes you the best,” he said.
With positive affirmation also comes high standards and tough sessions, with Betar remembering one in particular.
“He (coach) makes us do a lot of butterfly and freestyle endurance; they get really bad sometimes. There was one time I had to do a 200m butterfly for not making a certain pace,” he said.
Jokingly asked if he liked that, a firm “no” came back as the response.
An inaugural recipient of the Kurt Fearnley Scholarship, Betar, who has been swimming since he was 10 years old, said his career in the pool wouldn’t be possible without the support of his family.
“My supportive family always take me to training, they’ve always committed to taking me to training,” he reiterated.
Having only been classified one year ago, the rising star has definitely burst onto the para-world swimming scene and will hope to make his mark come September.
Good luck, Ricky!