Day 4 of the 2014 Australian Age Championships in Sydney, Australia, saw a clear star of the meet emerge, specifically in the girls’ 16-year olds 200 freestyle.
This race was a classic sprint-versus middle distance match-up. In prelims, it was 50/100 free champion Lucy McJannett who took the top seed, but in finals, it was Rocky City’s Alanna Bowles, the 400 free champion, who came down for a 2:00.92 and the event title.
That marks Bowles’ fourth title in four starts so far at this meet. With just a 200 IM on Friday and an 800 free on Saturday left to swim at this meet, both of which she’s heavily favored in, it doesn’t look like anybody’s going to slow down her role anytime soon.
In the boys’ equivalent of this race, West Coast’s Damian Fyfe was going for his 4th gold of the meet as well. However, a huge charge from East Brisbane’s Samuel Young over the last 50 meters erased a 1.3 second deficit while Fyfe faded at the end (he was 9th out of 10 swimmers in the final ranked by last 50 meters split).
Young got just the tips of his fingers onto the wall before Fyfe got there, winning 1:51.41 to 1:51.44. Young’s teammate Max Carleton also had a good closing 50 to jump to 3rd place in 1:52.02.
In the 17-18 100 butterflies, National Team swimmer Yolane Kukla picked up her second win of the week with a 59.11 in the girls’ race. True to her form, she spurted out ahead of Perth’s Brianna Throssell (59.20) before Throssell made a big back-half comeback. Kukla’s closing 50 split actually wasn’t bad (31.67), so this was as much Throssell having a great closing 50 as it was Kukla falling off the pace, but that opening speed that few in the country of any age can match was enough to give Yolane the win.
Those two both just missed the Australian Commonwealth Games team, and now are swimming the last year at this meet of which they’ve been stars for so long. Christine Licciardi took 3rd in the race in 59.93, and the top 17 year old was St. Peter’s Western’s Megan Gianotti in 1:00.62.
The boys edition of that event went to Mitchell Pratt in 53.92. That’s a full second improvement off of his prelims swim, where he seemed to not really charge the front-half enough, but it was shy of his lifetime best.
Regan Leong took 2nd in 54.10, followed by Nicholas Brown (54.23) and Isaac Jones (54.42).
The Canadian Youth Team that has traveled to Sydney for this meet continue to perform very well, despite being halfway around the world. Meryn McCann won the girls’ 15-year olds 100 backstroke in 1:03.28, beating out Australia’s best Monique Rae (1:03.63) and one of the world’s top sprinters at this age Shayna Jack (1:04.19).
Chelsea Gubecka kept the pressure on in the girls’ 15-year olds distance races, grabbing her second win of the week to go with a pair of runner-up finishes. The latest gold came in the 400 IM for the Kawana Waters swimmer, going a 4:51.40.
She was out hard in this swim, and while her breaststroke is still a weakness in this IM as she starts to peer toward higher targets than age championships, her other three strokes were good enough in this case to carry her. That includes splitting a 31.83 on the last 50 meters of freestyle she was even faster at senior Nationals, where she placed 6th, two weeks ago, and showed there that her closing speed contends with the best in Australia even at such a young age.
Canadian Kelsey Wog was 2nd in 4:56.79, and Abbey Harkin and Calypso Sheridan were the only other two under 5 minutes with times of 4:59.38 and 4:59.71, respectively.
The boys’ 15-year olds version of the 400 IM went to SOPAC’s Matthew Wilson in 4:27.42. He’s sort of the opposite swimmer of Gubecka: his closing freestyle isn’t all that fast, but his breaststroke leg is killer. That swim ranks Wilson 3rd on Australia’s all-time age group list in this event, behind just Mitch Larkin and Jayden Hadler (both of whom were 4:25’s in suits in 2009).
Another swimmer moving into four-win territory on Thursday was Elijah Winnington of Palm Beach. He completed a sweep of the two butterfly events at this meet for his age group with a 2:09.63 win. That was more than three-and-a-half seconds faster than his nearest competitor, five seconds better than the winning time in this race from last year, and is only half-a-second away from the National Record for 14 & unders. It was, however, the second-fastest all-time in the history of the age group.
Other Age National Champions on Thursday:
- Elli Mackay won the girls 14-year olds 50 freestyle in 25.96, beating out Breana Gilroy (26.49).
- Miami Swim Club’s Andrew Ryan won a nail biter of a boys’ 14-year olds 50 free in 24.73, outpacing Jordan Brunt (24.77) and Nicholas Keune (24.87). The top 9 in this final were spread out by just four-tenths of a second.
- Bradley Woodward won the boys’ 15-years old 100 backstroke in 57.88, finishing strong to close out Benno Negri (48.03) and James Hanson (58.58).
- Rachael Robinson from Campbelltown had a very good 200 fly to win in 2:18.83. That was a two-second margin on Jesse Coplick, almost all of which was done in the first 150 meters.
- Carla Buchanan won the girls’ 17-18 200 IM in 2:16.53, with Hunter’s Meg Bailey taking 2nd in 2:17.19. Bailey had a huge lead coming out of the breaststroke leg, but gave it all back on the home stretch.
- Hayden Hinds-Sydenham won the boys’ 200 IM for 17-18’s in 2:04.08, beating out Jake Baggaley (2:04.25) from Trinity Grammar. Baggaley was out far ahead on the front-half of this race, but just like in the girls’ swim, Hinds-Sydenham put down a good freestyle split of 28.35 to win.
- Chandler’s Mikayla Messer won the girls’ 14-year olds 400 free in 4:19.34, just holding off Elly Wikaire in 4:19.39. Canadian Olivia Anderson was 3rd in 4:20.44.
- Ayami Hirohashi from Indooroopilly, but who is not a native Australian, took the girls’ 16-year olds 200 breaststroke in 2:35.63.
- Claire Coten won the girls’ 12-13 100 freestyle in 58.41, followed by Brisbane Grammar’s Minna Atherton in 58.60.
- Josia Wells won the boys’ 12-13 100 freestyle in 54.29.
- The girls’ 100 breaststroke for 14-year olds went to Rebecca Cross in 1:12.38. She can count herself among the few who have beaten Canadian Mary-Sophie Harvey (1:12.67) this week.
- The boys’ 100 breaststroke for 14-year olds went to Heath Macleod in 1:07.40. He topped Galston’s Patrick Walsh in 1:07.72.
- The day ended with the 18 & under 800 free relays. For the women, that went to St. Peter’s Western, led off by a 2:02.19 from Megan Gianotti, as they swam a combined 8:14.99. Ami Matsuo was a 2:01.15 leading off Carlile’s runner-up relay.
- TSS Aquatics won the boys’ 800 free relay with a 1:52.10 anchor from 16-year old Joshua Parrish. Best split of the day was Blake Jones, who led off Southport’s 11th-place relay in 1:51.98. That would have put him 5th in the individual final, in which he was DQ’ed in prelims.