There has been a lot of great junior swimming this week at the Victorian Age Group Championships in Melbourne, but one headline will stand out above the rest.
Teenager Alexander Graham called up the 17-18 boys’ State Record in the 200 free and waved goodbye to it, as he became the first registered Victorian in the age group to clear the 1:50 barrier in the race with a 1:49.40.
That didn’t just break any record; that took down a 1995 swim belonging to the legendary Michael Klim at 1:50.10. Graham wasn’t even rested, saying after the race that “tonight’s swim was really unexpected as I’m in the middle of a heavy training load, so to break Klim’s record and produce a PB is a good feeling.
“It’s also a really encouraging sign for me leading into the Australian Youth Olympics Festival in January where I hope to go even faster.”
The splits would back that up; historically, when tapered, Graham has shown one of the better finishing kicks in Australia (regardless of age) in this race. Here, however, he actually gave up some ground on the closing length to runner-up Isaac Jones (1:52.19). Graham is still on the younger end of the age group too, and last year was breaking all of Klim’s 16-year olds records. This was his second State Record of the meet, as a 23.04 in the 50 free will also put his name in the books.
He still has the 100 to go on Sunday.
He wasn’t the only big result or record-breaker of this meet, however. In that same finals session, 15-year old Melbourne Vincente swimmer Jenna Strauch broke the State Record in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:09.18. That took over two seconds off of the old record, which she set just that morning.
Among other big names out of the Melbourne Vincente squad at this meet include 16-year old Mack Horton. He, seemingly as well on big training, swam a 3:53.69 in the 16 year old’s 400 free to crush the Victorian All-Comers age group record (in other words, fastest on the soil of the state of Victoria). Just how good he is was clear in this race, as he won by 14 seconds over his nearest competitor.
Horton is the future of the major rebuilding project in the men’s distance group that needs to happen.
Another big name in Australian age group swimming is Nicholas Groenewald. He won the 15-year old men’s 200 backstroke Victorian All-Comers Record with a 2:05.13, knocking two seconds off of a 2006 record held by Evan Buck. He also broke the 100 back State and All-Comers Record with a 57.40.
The Australian junior ranks are ripe with talent, and by 2016, when the current team (that is already fairly young on the men’s side) is hitting their peaks and these swimmers are entering their primes, the Aussies could be due for some big competition and even bigger results.