SOPHIE IGNITES SPARK IN CRYSTAL
By ED SOUTHORN
IF guts and dedication are any guide, young Crystal Rozynski might one day emulate her hero, triple gold medallist Sophie Edington.
Nine-year-old Crystal met Kingscliff's Sophie at the Kingscliff shopping centre on Saturday, where the Commonwealth Games star signed autographs, spoke to a crowd of about 200 and was invited to join the Tweed Heads-based Australian Walk of Fame.
Crystal has achieved promising results at her Tweed Heads South Primary School races - even though she is allergic to swimming in pools.
Mum Sonia said Crystal loves swimming and had scored a first and two seconds in her recent school sports.
"She has a water allergy, she gets covered in blotches and hives," Sonia said.
"Doctors told her she could not swim any more but she defied them.
"We saw specialists and they said there is nothing really medically wrong."
Latest advice is that Crystal's allergy is anxiety-related, which means she can swim for relatively short periods.
"So we just pull her out of the pool, calm her down, warm her up and off she goes again," Sonia said.
"She admires all the top swimmers."
Sophie won gold at Melbourne in the 100 metres and 50 metres backstroke and the 4 x 100 metres medley relay.
She said she had been very nervous before her events and had to really force herself to concentrate on "swimming my own race" so she would not go too fast from the start.
Sophie also said it was hard not to cry when the national anthem was played for the medal presentations.
"It's a very special moment up on the dais, especially after the first gold medal. I tried to hold back the tears.
"I grew up by the water and I've been swimming since I was about eight.
"When I was 14 I had to decide if I wanted to continue with it. I'll keep going as long as I think I can improve."
Sophie's coach Greg Salter said she now holds two world records and is looking forward to competing this week at the world short course championships in Shanghai, along with fellow Kingscliff swimmers Tay Zimmer, a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, and Ethan Rolfe.