FORMER Kerang swimmer Kahlia Marsh has begun the year by being named the best performed swimmer at a recent meet in Gippsland.
The 18-year-old swam 28 times during three days at the Victorian Country Championships at Sale last weekend to be recognised as the top competitor of the carnival.
It is the third time Marsh has won the Bruce Carter Memorial trophy after wins in 2010 at Warnambool and 2012 at Bendigo.
Marsh broke the Open Women's 200-metre Individual Medley record for the championships - which had stood for 11 years and was held by former Australian swimmer Shayne Reese - by more than one second.
The Geelong Swimming Club captain also won the 400-metre individual medley, smashing the country event record by seven seconds.
Marsh finished the carnival with 10 individual and two relay medals.
Now living and training in Geelong, Marsh recently had time out of the pool due to a knee injury, but that did not stop her from taking on an intense program at Sale.
Marsh's coach John Beckworth said it was an "amazing performance".
"She kept backing up over the weekend and pulled up really well from all of her races," he said.
Beckworth said Marsh's power and stamina is outstanding and will serve her well as she prepares for the Australian Age Championships and National Open Titles at Adelaide in April.
"The 400 IM is an incredibly tough race, but it's her favourite event," he said.
"The further the race goes, the better she gets. She's just a very composed and powerful swimmer."
Beckworth said she is a role model for the entire Geelong team - in and out of the pool.
"She has been a real leader for the club," he said.
"She has a very bubbly personality and is able to help the team bond together, while at the same inspiring her teammates with her performances in the pool. Her results at the weekend speak for themselves."
After completing high school last year, it will be a busy 2013 for Marsh.
She will be working in Geelong as a swim coach, while at the same time be training towards a possible place in the national team for this year's World Championships in Barcelona.
Before then there are the Australian Age Nationals and Australian Open Nationals, to be held in Adelaide in April, plus a chance to visit the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the School Sport Victoria Swimming Achievement Award ceremony in March.
However, Beckworth said a place on the Australian team would be Marsh's ultimate goal and this year provides her with an opportunity to improve on her times.
Marsh is hoping to be back in the area for the Cohuna Bridge to Bridge event on March 3, which she won last year and in 2010.