Last week Swimming Australia revealed the dates for the 2022 Australian National Championships as well as the Australian Age Championships, with the former representing the primary qualification meet for the Commonwealth Games, World Championships, and World University Games (Summer Universiade).
As we reported, the South Australia Aquatic & Leisure Center is where the action will take place, slated for April 4th-9th, with the Australian Age Swimming Championships on the books for April 11th-18th.
However, Swimming Australia has since revealed changes to the Age Championships, in particular, which are meant to advance ‘the spirit of continual improvement to ensure the meet is catering for development and performance needs, as well as the impact of COVID-19.’
Swimming Australia’s GM Performance Pathway, Jamie Salter, said this week, “We know the past 12 months have continued to be challenging for swimmers, especially those younger athletes who are forging their path in our sport.
“We’ve undertaken a lot of work in this area to ensure we are delivering a meet that caters for athlete development and performance and we think these changes to the program of events and qualifying times will be highly beneficial and in the best interest of the competition as we lead into Brisbane 2032.”
Key Changes include:
- The Program of Events has been restructured to better align with the development and performance needs of age groups across the six days of competition. This includes each event in the program starting with the girls age group, immediately followed by the corresponding boys age group (e.g., Girls 13 years 100m Freestyle, Boys 14 years 100m Freestyle).
- 50m strokes have been added for all ages to support our sprinting depth as well as proving an opportunity to qualify at the Australian Swimming Championships without the training load for those impacted by COVID lockdowns.
- Consideration has been given to ensure no double-ups or clashes, particularly in distance events for ages and strokes.
- B-Finals have been added for all ages in 50m and 100m events. This doubles the number of athletes having high level heats and finals racing, without impacting the timeline in an excessive way.
- Relays have been reviewed, with removal of the 4x200m events due to minimal numbers nominated as well as this event being favorable to the larger clubs. The mixed relays have also been removed, however will be picked up in State Relays as noted below.
- Instead, the addition of 4x50m State Relays will involve more athletes where the prestige of representing your state and development can be achieved at high velocity without being detrimental to the timeline.
- The 4x50m Freestyle State Relay will be gender-based and 4x50m Medley State Relay will be mixed to align with the Olympic program offering.
- QTs have been adjusted slightly to be consistent as compared to benchmark times and slight softening for the younger age bands (girls 13 years and boys 14 years) to accommodate the COVID impact of minimal training. Short course times (2% conversion) have been added for this same purpose as well and is important that we are providing all swimmers the opportunity to compete.
- The changes for multi-class swimmers will see revised QTs as well the allowance of the 2% conversion, and the alignment of age groups to the development needs, with 12 years being the minimum age.
The 2022 Australian Age Championships serve as the primary qualifying competition for the national World Junior Championships set for August 2022.