Relaxed Neale steps up world titles quest after break

AFTER a welcome week off, Ipswich's international swimmer Leah Neale is back in the pool this morning preparing for a shot at next year's world championships.

Having some time away with friends on a schoolies trip at Caloundra had added importance.

It gave the busy Newtown teenager a chance to reflect on finishing year 12 at St Mary's College before hopefully securing a human movements or nutrition course at university next year.

"It was just relaxing," Neale said after a demanding year of school and swimming commitments.

"It was good to get over school stuff and get my head around changing life."

Neale, 17, is the QT-City of Ipswich junior sportstar for September in the 2012-13 awards backed by Ipswich City Council.

While she's a familiar face in the annual awards, having won the 2010-11 junior title, Neale has enjoyed her best year.

The Olympic prospect represented Australia in seven events at the Junior Pan Pacific Games in Hawaii.

During the four-day competition, the CYMS St Edmund's swimmer won silver in the 4x200m freestyle and collected bronze in the 400m freestyle.

The Junior Pan Pacific Games are the highest level of competition for young swimmers before they enter open ranks.

"It was a lot harder because the American team was there. I'd never raced them before," she said.

"It was the toughest competition I've been to."

That terrific experience came after Neale won four medals, including two gold, at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Isle of Man earlier this year.

Neale heads back to the St Edmund's pool this morning to begin focusing on her next major event - the Australian open championships in April.

She's concentrating on the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle and the 100m and 200m backstroke, having competed in up to 10 events at past age nationals.

Neale is also swimming at the state championships next month as she lifts her training workload following a well-deserved break.

The September senior and October sport stars will be named soon.

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