Sport

Clarke returns with medal haul as she prepares for surgery

SENSATIONAL STYLE: Kayla Clarke's butterfly technique secured her another record at the recent championship in California.
SENSATIONAL STYLE: Kayla Clarke's butterfly technique secured her another record at the recent championship in California. Sarah Harvey

RECORD-breaking Ipswich swimmer Kayla Clarke can have shoulder surgery and begin her long rehabilitation with confidence after returning from another successful international campaign.

The Waterworx Swim Club all-rounder won five gold and a silver medal at the recent Pan Pacific Para-swimming meeting in the United States.

While Clarke is used to achieving such medal hauls, her latest impressive performance is timely.

She's preparing to get work done on her shoulder before refocusing on the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

"She's a great kid," Waterworx head coach Paul Sansby said of the quietly spoken swimmer who won gold in the 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 100m breaststroke.

"She started at 16 years old so she's done a pretty good job.

"She's disciplined, knows how to train hard and is good with her diet.

"She gets the job done."

Clarke's effort included SM 14 (her classification) records in the 100m backstroke heats - where she finished second in the final - and in the 200 IM.

She set a world record in the 100m butterfly at the competition in Pasadena, California.

All that came after the 2012 London Paralympian's limited training in recent months due to a sore shoulder.

"Her lead-up to this meet, she was probably only able to do about 10-15 percent of her training," Sansby said.

"It's a pretty good result. She had to get a cortisone injection and painkillers just to get in the water."

Sansby said Clarke had the club's full support in having her shoulder done.

"It will be a 12 month rebuild," Sansby said. "We've got to rebuild it and restrengthen it.''

"I definitely want to keep working with her,'' Waterworx coach Paul Sansby said.

"We'll work through her rehab and her gym work and go at it from there."

Clarke, 23, can also gain inspiration knowing her Waterworx clubmate Keryn McMaster returned from a similar operation to win a bronze medal at the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. McMaster knocked three seconds off her personal best.

She's in camp with the Australian team at the Gold Coast, preparing to contest the Pan Pacific championships in the 200m and 400m individual medley.

"Keryn just came back as good as gold so rehabbing your shoulder is just about taking your time," Sansby said. "We've just got to be patient with it."

For Clarke, joining the Waterworx club 12 months ago has continued her outstanding progress after stints with Woogaroo and Yeronga Park clubs.

At the 2011 Pan Pacs championships, she won six gold medals in Canada.

Before the London Paralympics, Clarke also represented at the 2009 Global Games (winning seven medals including four gold) in the Czech Republic and at the 2011 Arafura Games (14 gold, two silver and two bronze medals).

 

Kayla battles on through shoulder torment

KAYLA Clarke's extraordinary international success has come overcoming a hidden enemy - shoulder pain.

Her proud mum Paula revealed the Silkstone-based achiever had been enduring extra torment, needing to modify her training.

"It's been constant on and off for five years," she said of her daughter's battle with shoulder soreness.

"This last 12 months it's there every day. It doesn't go away."

However, the Silkstone mum hopes the surgery Kayla is due to receive early next month allows her to swim more freely in the future.

"The surgeon said if she wants to keep swimming the only way to get rid of it is surgery," Paula said.

Kayla would be a strong contender for the 2016 Rio Paralympics and could receive an opportunity at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games if her classification (S14) is included.

S14 competition is for athletes with an intellectual impairment.

Paula has been a tower of strength in Kayla's swimming conquests growing up in Ipswich.

She said the Springfield-based Waterworx club had provided a supportive environment through her recent challenging times.

And it's a much shorter drive than her previous trips to Yeronga.

Topics:  kayla clarke paralympian waterworx swim club