Business owner and mother of three, Jackie Ashman, trains three mornings a week in the pool, swimming 2.5 to 3.5 kilometres a session to prepare for this year’s VP&ES Games. For the first four years of her involvement, Jackie was the sole SES representative.
The camaraderie and pure fun kept her coming back. “The people and rapport you build with other agencies is unreal,” she says. “We have become friends and the games is an opportunity to catch up every year.”
Not only is Jackie an 11 year games veteran, but she’s served with the Yackandandah SES Unit for the past 14 years.
The unit frequently responds to alpine search and rescue calls for assistance. The tight-knit unit is a fit group who regularly train with 20kg packs and walk 5km, three nights a week to ensure they’re prepared for any calls to respond to the remote alpine conditions.
“We conduct alpine pack fitness tests and altitude training,” explains Jackie. “Whilst the altitude is not extreme, it still changes your ability to do things. Knowing yourself, and assessing your own ability to do the job is important.”
Regardless of the time of a call, Jackie says there’s nothing like responding to a call for assistance. “It’s a real boost for the unit and a real sense of achievement knowing you’ve done it as a team.”
Three members of her family including her mother, Ann Hunter, father Keith Hunter, 72, and daughter Louise Rietmann, 22, are a part of the 16 member Yackandandah Unit.
Keith and Louise joined Jackie for the past six games, growing the SES ranks competing in the games, which now numbers up to 70-100 participants. (At 72, Keith isn’t slowing down, and has won his share of medals).
“At first I thought it was going to be scary and competitive,” says Jackie. “I wondered about the standards and if they were really strict.”
The welcome news is that everyone can compete regardless of your ability. It’s a very encouraging environment. The slower swimmers can be assured of much cheering and support from the crowd.
“The first swim is the 1500m. If we finish before others, we swim the last couple of hundred metres with them,” Jackie says.
Jackie will compete in the 1500m once again, as well as the open water, 50m backstroke, 50m butterfly, 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle. And she can surely expect to add to her collection of gold medals.
Whilst the games kick off tomorrow -- Friday 24 March and run through to Sunday 2 April -- some sports are still be open for participants. It's a prime opportunity for VICSES personnel to be involved in what is shaping up to be another great year. Over 3000+ competitors register for the 41 sports on offer each year and VICSES have seen 70+ sign up for this year’s events.
CEO Stephen Griffin has provided his support to the introduction of two new awards to the service:
- Most Outstanding Unit
- Most Outstanding Individual
It is a great initiative promoting the successes and achievements of our members at the games.
Find out more
Go to The Hub to find out more - there's still some opportunities to get involved. Or visit: www.emergencyservicesgames.org.au