As with many elite meets around the world, the 2020 Australian National Championships originally scheduled for April at Perth’s HBF Stadium were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Turning a new page toward the postponed Olympic Games preparation, Swimming Australia announced that the 2021 Australian Swimming Championships are now slated for April 14th-18th at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre in South East Queensland.
Nearly 2,000 competitors will get a taste of what competition in Tokyo will be like for next year’s Summer Games, with the 2021 Aussie Nationals set to host prelims in the evening and finals in the morning. That is the same format for the swimming events at the Olympics.
As a reminder, however, Australia’s Olympic-qualifying event remains the actual trials meet which is on the books for June 12th-16th, 2021 at the South Australian Aquatic & Leisure Centre. Per the published program for those trials, the timing remains traditional with heats in the morning and finals in the evening for that event.
Swimming Australia also announced that the 2021 Australian Age Championships are scheduled for April 5th-12th, with the meet also being held at GCAC as the World Junior Championships and Oceania Championships qualifying meet.
This same general national meet timeline was followed for 2019, the year of the FINA World Aquatic Championships. The Australian Age Championships and Australian Swimming Championships both took place in April, while the official Trials for Gwangju were conducted in June.
The Aussies also rolled out this same shortened lead-time between Trials and the main event with the Pan Pacific Championships. Although the Commonwealth Games served as one qualifying meet for the Pan Pacs, the actual Trials competition took place June 30th – July 4th, finishing up just about 5 weeks ahead of the quadrennial meet in Tokyo.
In Gwangju, Australia ultimately came away with 19 medals in all, including 5 gold, 9 silver and 5 bronze medals, to finish runner-up to the United States in the overall medal standings. That represented a marked improvement from the 2017 edition of the meet following the old Trials model, with the nation reaping 10 medals in total, marked by just one gold.
Swimming Australia Chief Executive Leigh Russell added to the 2021 Nationals announcement, “We know this has been a tough year for swimmers all around the country with so much uncertainly and opportunities for racing being limited but we hope this announcement will give all athletes around Australia something to work towards and look forward to,” she said.
“However, we acknowledge that it is still very challenging for our athletes in Victoria with ongoing restrictions for pools. We will continue to work with Swimming Victoria to ensure that swimmers will not be disadvantaged in qualifying and will be in a position to provide more clarity in the coming week.”
“I would like to thank Major Events Gold Coast and the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre for their support in bringing these two fantastic events to South East Queensland and the Gold Coast, we know they will be wonderful hosts.”
City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said: “The Commonwealth Games proved how capable we are of hosting a world class swimming meet and to have Australia’s best swimmers here at our fantastic facility is another feather in our sporting cap,” he said.
“In terms of the benefits, we know in the short term it will put cash into the local economy and generate local jobs, but in the long term it will attract future training camps, and strengthen our reputation as an international sporting destination.”