Posted on Tuesday 27th July, 2021

Swimmer Profile – Kady Ibell

Kady Ibell launched herself into the Master Swimming scene this year, and has already made her mark! Kady has claimed an impressive pile of Queensland and National records, and was awarded ‘Female Swimmer of the Meet’ at the recent Great Barrier Reef Masters Games in Cairns. Thank you Kady for sharing a little of your journey so far…


#1 – How did you become first involved with swimming?

Both Mum and Dad wanted their kids to learn how to swim as they were terrified of swimming carnivals at school so I started swimming lessons at Darren Lange Swimming Academy at 18 months old.

When I was 9 years old, my parents received a phone call from the head coach inviting me to start squad training. I competed at my first swimming carnival (West Zone) 2 months before I turned 10. I was only swimming once or twice a week until I was 12 years old and went on to win 12 gold medals at the Darling Downs Championships so then I decided to take swimming more seriously.

Kady aged 2 years at swimming lessons at Darren Lange Swimming Academy


Little 12 year olds, Kady Ibell and Laura Scolaro at Pittsworth Swim Meet

#2 – What do you love about swimming?

From an early age I’ve loved going to training and trying to find ways to improve my performances. I’m a big goal setter and with swimming there is always something to strive for, whether it’s a PB, qualifying time, making it to a high level meet, or even getting better at a skill like diving, turns or technique. I love being able to travel around the country and swim at many different places. Swimming against some of the best swimmers in the world is amazing and meeting lots of new people is always a bonus.

Little sister Chloe with Kady – Gold at Qld Champs medley relay together

#3 – When did you first join Masters Swimming?

After coaching a number of Masters swimmers over the last 12 months I’ve had a lot of encouragement (especially from Don) to join up. Now that I’m 25 years old and as the Covid situation prevented a lot of swim meets from going ahead, I thought Masters swimming would provide some more racing opportunities and bring the enjoyment back to the sport. So in April 2021 I joined Masters Swimming under the University of QLD team. My first Masters meet was QLD long course state champs (at Kawana), and have recently competed at the Great Barrier Reef Masters Games in Cairns and the Brisbane Southside meet.


#4 – Most memorable swimming moments?

Some of the most memorable moments in my swimming career are:

  • QLD School State Champion for 100 Breaststroke in 2013
  • QLD Open Sprint Champion in the Women’s 50 Breaststroke 2020
  • QLD Open Women’s 4×50 Medley Regional Relay Champion with my sister in the same Darling Downs team in 2017.
  • Broke the Queensland Record in the Open Women’s 4×50 Medley Regional Relay with my Darling Downs team in 2020

Jess Schipper and I after I became Qld Champion in Open Women’s 50 Breaststroke at 2020 Qld Sprint Champs

#5 – Favourite Events?

My favourite events are the 100IM and 200IM. As I still can’t pick a favourite stroke I just choose to swim all 4 in the same race! 100IM is always fun because you only get to swim it a few times each year and it’s a very unique race.


#6 – How often do you swim, and where?

I swim 8-9 times each week at Fairholme College in Toowoomba


#7 – What motivates and inspires you?

I have always been passionate about all aspects of swimming. I am constantly studying the sport and have learnt a lot from a few swimmers in particular. They have inspired me in different ways and at different stages of my career. Focusing on/improving one thing in the pool every day keeps me motivated through each training session and when I know I’ve done the work and the time to race comes around, I’m confident I’ll perform at my best. I love the feeling of achieving a goal and seeing all the hard work pay off.

I must say my first few swims at my first Masters State Champs (at Kawana) I did feel like a guppy trying to chase down the sharks. But this was a super fun new challenge for me and it helps me stay motivated to improve so I can keep up with the guys!

Meeting Dawn Fraser at the 2018 Australia SC Nationals

#8 – Have you had any setbacks to overcome?

In 2012 at the Age National Championships in Brisbane I had just finished my first race of the meet and as I was going down the stairs to warm down I slipped and broke my foot. I still had 5 races left to swim and managed to complete all my events and even (somehow) did a PB in 200 Breaststroke.

Since the end of 2019 I’ve struggled with a few health issues and have had a couple of minor injuries after coming off the 2 month Covid break. It has been a difficult 18 months but I’m continuing to work hard to be the best I can be.


#9 – Favourite things/Likes/Dislikes

Some of my favourite things to do are:

Going away on trips with my family, watching the tennis and getting autographs and photos with the top players in the world, and I spend a lot of my time watching some sort of swimming.

Likes: Holidays, the beach, going to cafes with my friends, watching swimming videos and USA Olympian Cody Miller’s YouTube channel

Dislikes: Freestyle kick, running, swimming in cold water


#10 – Upcoming Swim Meets

I have lots of small meets from now until December but the main events are:

QLD State Short Course Championships (August), Australian National Short Course Championships (September), Pan Pacific Masters Games (November) & QLD State Long Course Championships (December)

Kady with first squad coach Paul Birmingham

#11 – My Family

Mum and Dad and both of their families competed in speedway and that is how they met. They still to this day have absolutely no idea where the swimming ability comes from as no one in our family has ever been a swimmer and most of them don’t even like the water.

As the only female driver in the field, my mum said her size and lack of testosterone was always a disadvantage in this sport so she needed to develop her skills and technique to be able to match it with the guys. So I definitely believe I got this gene and where my competitiveness comes from especially now that I’m racing against the guys in masters events!

My younger sister Chloe who also swims in Masters is studying Nursing at the University of Southern QLD. She has also always been a swimmer. She competed at her first meet when she was 7 years old and came 1st in every race. In her final year of school Chloe made the QLD team and competed at the 2018 Australian School Sport National Championships in Hobart and came away with a silver medal in the 10×50 mixed age medley relay for QLD.

My older sister Ashlea competed in a few sports as a kid and is the reason why my dad got me into athletics. She is now working as an assistant therapist with ASD children and their families and lives on the Sunshine Coast.

Australian School National Athletics Championships for discus in 2013

#12 – My Career

I have had an eventful 16 years in swimming. My highest achievements so far are:

  • 5 Age National Championships (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
  • 2 Commonwealth Games Trials (2014, 2018)
  • 2 World Championship Trials (2017, 2019)
  • Qualified for 3 Olympic Trials (2012, 2016, 2020/21)
  • 6 Australian Short Course Nationals (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
  • Made the final at Open Short Course nationals for 400IM in 2017 & 2018, and for the 100IM in 2019
  • Made the 2013 QLD school sport team and competed at Australian School Sport Championships
  • Bronze medal is the 17-19 years 4×50 freestyle relay at Australian School Sport Championships
  • Queensland Champion Open Women’s 50 Breaststroke (2020)
  • Darling Downs Swimmer of the Year (2014)

I have also always loved coaching the next generation of swimmers. I started my coaching career in 2014 as an 18 year old. I have worked as a learn to swim teacher, junior squad coach, adult squad coach and I work with triathletes and masters swimmers alongside my coach and mentor Dave Negus at Fairholme.

Photos with Rafael Nadal, Grigor Dimitrov, Ash Barty, Sam Stosur, and Todd Woodbridge

#13 – Facts about me

  • Did 4 sports as a kid; hockey, gymnastics, swimming, athletics (mainly discus)
  • In 2013 I made both the QLD school team for Swimming and Discus to compete at The Australian School Sport National Championships.
  • In 2013 at the Miami swim meet I came 2nd in the 200IM final against the 2012 Olympic Champion and World Record holder, Ye Shiwen from China
  • When I finished school I held 30 school records at Downlands College (25 for swimming and 5 for discus)
  • Downlands College Sportswoman of the year (2012 & 2013)
  • Finalist at QLD state athletics championships for discus (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
  • Medallist at QLD state athletics championships for discus (Bronze 2011 & 2012, Silver 2013)
  • My dad was my discus coach from year 5 to year 12.
  • I have been an Amanzi swimwear ambassador for 3 years
  • Huge tennis fan so I go to the Brisbane International Tennis every year with my nan and my favourite player is Roger Federer


#14 – Favourite Quote/Becoming a Masters Swimmer

“Success doesn’t always come at the time you want it to; all you can do is prepare” – Natalie Coughlin. This is my favourite quote because it keeps me relaxed and focused on my training. Over my career I have had a lot of challenges and have had a few problems leading into big competitions. It can be stressful with the pressure/expectation and the results you want might not be there on the day but if you trust all the hard work you have put in and have confidence in yourself, it will eventually happen.

In open swimming I am at the older end of the scale and unfortunately sometimes you hear comments like, “you are too old to still be swimming” and, “it will be a lot harder to swim fast when you are older”.

That’s what I like about Masters Swimming. It doesn’t matter what age or level you are, you swim because you enjoy the sport and you can do it for as long as you want to without all the pressure and expectation.

I love being a part of a team and you get to meet so many new people in all age groups from across Australia. So far my time in Masters Swimming has been a very enjoyable experience and I’m looking forward to being involved for a long time.

Kady with coach Dave Negus on the first day of 2018 Commonwealth Games Trials


Swimmer of the meet alongside Justin Giles at GBRMG 2021


Chloe, Don and Kady at GBRMG 2021


MSQ State Championships 2021


Kady in action – speedy breaststroke