More than 1700 swimmers from 296 clubs will converge on the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre, Adelaide next week for the 2016 Georgina Hope Foundation Australian Age Swimming Championships.
Swimmers from every State in Australia as well as a host of visiting swimmers, including a team from New Zealand and an 18-year-old from Greece will start to arrive in Adelaide over the Easter weekend.
The eight-day meet with daily sessions of heats and finals will start on Monday, March 31 and continue through to Monday April 4 in the lead up to the eight-day Hancock Prospecting Australian Championships (April 7-14) – the Race To Rio.
The Age Championships will feature swimmers between the ages of 12 and 18 across all strokes, distances and Multi-Class events and will incorporate the selection trials for the 2016 Oceania Championships and the 2016 Junior Pan Pacific Championships.
The Australian Age roll of honour and record holders reads like a who’s who of Australian and world swimming, with the likes of Ian Thorpe, Kieren Perkins, Grant Hackett, Michael Phelps, Tracey Wickham, Leisel Jones, Cate Campbell and Yana Klochkova just some of swimming’s greats to hold Australian Age or All-comers records.
The oldest Australian Age record in the books stands to Wickham, who at 15, set a then world record of 8:24.62 for the 800 metres freestyle at the 1978 Edmonton Commonwealth Games.
A time that lasted some nine years – testament to one of the world’s greatest distance swimmers.
Phelps, the world’s greatest swimmer, set an Australian Age 15 years All-comers record of 1:56.50 for the 200m butterfly when he contested his first Olympics in Sydney in 2000.
And Australia’s next crop of swimming stars, some with their eyes on this year’s Rio Olympics, will be amongst those 1700 swimmers, who will take the plunge in Adelaide.
South Australia’s own Kyle Chalmers from the host club Marion will take his place in the 17-18 years 50 and 200 metres freestyle in a pre-Open Championship hit out.
Chalmers is the reigning World Junior Champion over 50 and 100 metres freestyle from Singapore last year, who broke into the Dolphins National Team for last year’s FINA World Championships in Kazan.
The rising star holds a host of Australian Age records from 13 through to 17 years and has already established himself as one of Australia’s finest Age Group products.
The boy, who also grew up with an AFL football in his hands, will take his place in the 50 and 100 metres freestyle when the Race to Rio hots up from April 7.
Some youngsters, like 13-year-old Sunshine Coast schoolgirl Lani Pallister, will be taking their first plunge into the Australian Age pool for the USC Spartans.
And Lani won’t have to go too far to get some expert tips if she gets nervous.
Her mum, Janelle Elford, was regarded as one of Australia’s great distance swimmers – who finished 5th in the 400 and 6th in the 800 metres freestyle at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
And father Rick Pallister was a former Australian surf lifesaving champion, ironman and triathlete with the Elouera Surf Club in Sydney.
Others who will look to continue making their mark include the likes of 15-year-olds Leon MacAlister (Carlile, NSW), Elijah Winnington (Bond, QLD) and Gemma Cooney (River City Rapids, QLD) as well as Laura Taylor and Madeleine Gough, the two 16-year-olds both from TSS Aquatics.
Pelican Waters 14-year-old backstroker Kaylee McKeown, sister of Commonwealth Games breaststroke gold medallist Taylor McKeown, will be another to keep an eye on.
The lone Greek swimmer is Theodoros Benehoutsos who trains out of Melbourne Vicentre but who will represent Greece at these Championships. He is the fastest seed in the 17-18 years 200m butterfly.
Meanwhile Australia’s leading clubs will stage their own neck-and-neck battle to make the coveted Top Ten.
The last two years has seen Brisbane-based St Peters Western (SPW) and Gold Coast powerhouse The Southport School Aquatic (TSS) share the spoils, with SPW winning in 2015 and TSS in 2014.
The Top Ten from 2015 were, St Peters Western (QLD), TSS Aquatic (QLD), Melbourne Vicentre (VIC), Chandler (QLD), Carlile (NSW), MCL Aquatic (VIC), Miami (QLD), Nunawading (VIC), Kawana (QLD), West Coast (WA).
To purchase tickets for the event go to: http://premier.ticketek.com.
To access the start list please click here: http://www.swimming.org.au/
2016 Georgina Hope Foundation Australian Age Swimming Championships – event times:
MON 28 /FRI 1: HEATS 9am, FINALS 6pm;
SAT APRIL 2: HEATS 9am, FINALS 4pm;
SUN APRIL 3 & MON APRIL 4: HEATS 10am, FINALS 4pm
Swimming news courtesy of Swimming Australia.