AFTER the disappointment at last year's state championships, Banora Point student Bindi Ware showed maturity beyond her nine years and stepped up to finish second in this year's championships, earning her a place in the New South Wales squad.
The NSW Primary Schools Sports Association state championships were held at the Sydney Aquatic Centre last month, with the top swimmers heading to the nationals on July 29.
Bindi swam a personal best time (32.18sec) in her pet event, the 50m freestyle, to win her heat, then maintained that pace in the final with a time of 32.32sec to tap out in second place.
"I have been training really hard six or seven times a week, about 15 hours all up a week," Bindi said.
"It (swimming) is just so much fun and I love competing."
Bindi was at the state championship in 2010, finishing 15th, and 2011, finishing 25th, but this is the first time she has been able to compete at the national level.
She was the only North Coast primary school swimmer to be selected in the NSW team.
"Now I have to train even harder for the nationals," she said.
"The opening ceremony is on the same day as my birthday."
Bindi's mother Sandi Walker said her daughter was driven to perform at the state championships.
"After she finished 25th last year she was disappointed," Walker said.
"I said to her 'you have made it this far'. The fact is just making it to the state championship is a big achievement."
"I wouldn't say it was luck because she has definitely put the work in."
Out of the pool Bindi is like any other nine year old. She goes to school, has homework and looks after the family pets but she also needs to get up before dawn and go down to the Tweed Heads Indoor Pool for training three mornings a week.
"She was swimming all through winter and was just getting faster and faster," Walker said.
"Bindi gets up at 5am and is here (at the pool) from 6am-7.30am. She will usually split her breakfast and have half before training and half after.
"Michael (Tom) puts just as much work in as she does."
Tom and Toni Lewis are her trainers at the Tweed Heads Indoor Pool and have worked with the young swimmer for more than four years.
"It was a great performance by Bindi," Tom said.
"She has been with us since she was in kindergarten but this year she has really come along," he said.
"At the corresponding meet last year she finished 25th, so to finish a close second and improve on last year's time by seven seconds was a super effort."
Tom said every swimmer in the squad at Tweed Heads received the same level of attention.
"She has actually stepped up a level," he said.
Although freestyle is Bindi's preferred discipline, she also made the state finals in the backstroke and butterfly.
Walker said Bindi wanted to be an Olympian and her favourite swimmer was Stephanie Rice, which would explain her talent in multiple disciplines, as Rice was an individual medley Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
"The Olympics is on this year and Bindi is always talking about it," Walker said.
Despite her aspiration of representing the country, Bindi had her mind on the task at hand.
When asked what got her up at 5am to train before school she replied without a hint of sarcasm "an alarm clock".