Rainbow Flat swimmer Nash Wilkes has capped off an exceptional year of achievements in the pool by being named the male sportsperson of the year at the North Coast School Sports Awards.
The 18-year-old was presented the award by former Olympic swimming gold medalist Chris Fydler at an official ceremony at the Coffs Harbour Education Campus on Monday, December 2.
Pitted against talented sportspeople from schools stretching all the way from Camden Haven to Tweed Heads, Nash admitted the announcement came as a surprise.
"It was pretty unexpected," he said.
"It's nice to get recognised for getting some good results."
His name will now be listed alongside a host of acclaimed sportspeople who have won the award previously, including Adam Gilchrist and Phillip Hughes.
To top off the achievement, Nash also signed a two-year contract with sporting giant Adidas in the same week.
"That's really exciting," he said.
"They're one of the top brands."
Having finished his final year of schooling at Camden Haven High School, Nash will now turn his undivided attention to his swimming future, with a number of significant meets coming up.
In a fortnight he'll compete at the NSW Senior State Age Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre, where he'll line up in the open men's division.
Never one to set his expectations too high, Nash says he's aiming to improve on his results at the meet last year, where he made three finals and claimed one medal in the under-18 boys.
In the new year, he'll also turn his attention to the Australian Age Swimming Championships in Perth and the Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide, which will serve as the trials for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
While he's not putting any pressure on himself to qualify for the Olympics just yet, he admits it'll be exciting to test himself at such a high level.
"It'll be good to see how I go against the best of the best," he said.
"I've just got to swim my best and see how I go."
Considering he already proved himself at the Australian Short Course Swimming Championships in October, where he made the final in all three of the races he entered, he'll have confidence and past experience to draw on.
The youngest competitor in each of the open men's finals he made - where he was up against a number of Olympians - Nash said his results exceeded his expectations.
"All I wanted to do was try and make one final," he said.
With no plans to leave the Great Lakes any time soon, Nash says he'll continue to train with long-time coaches Peter Sanders and Adel Gregory and focus on improving his pace in the pool.
"These last few months I've really ramped it up," he said.
"I'm seeing how far I can take it."
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