The Australian Youth Olympic Festival was created by the Australian Olympic Committee to give aspiring Olympians under the age of 17 a new avenue to compete against the best in the world of the same age. Since the festival began in 2001 150 future Australian Olympians have competed in the event.
The most recent Australian swimmers to compete in the festival that went on to represent the green and gold at the 2012 London Olympics include; Mitchell Larkin, James Roberts, Bronte Campbell, Daniel Tranter, Jessica Ashwood and Leiston Pickett.
China, New Zealand, Brazil, Hungary, Japan, Canada, a combined Oceania team and Australian team (Gold and Green) will be competing in this year’s swimming events.
On the first night of swimming a festival record broken in all six events.
In the women’s 200 freestyle Amelia Gould of the Australian Green team won the event easily posting a time of 1:59.79 breaking the previous festival record of 2:00.53 set in 2007 by Yi Tang of China. Tsuzumi Hasegawa of Japan finished second in a time of 2:02.07 with her teammate Chihiro Igarashi finishing third in a time of 2:02.37.
The men’s 200 freestyle was an incredible battle between Regan Leong of the Australian Gold team and Alexander Graham of the Australian Green team. Graham who recently broke Michael Klim’s 1995 Victorian Age record in the 200 freestyle took the early lead in the first 50 meters, after that point Leong, who lived up to his nickname the ‘Big Show’, took the lead and outlasted his fellow countryman winning the event in a time of 1:48.97 with Graham only two one-hundredths of a second behind touching a time of 1:48.99.
Mack Horton of the Australian Green team finished third in a time of 1:50.19.
All three swimmers were under the previous festival record of 1:51.51 set in 2009 by Justin James.
Hayley Baker of Australia Green team won the women’s 100 backstroke in convincing fashion posting a time of 1:01.29 and surpassing the festival record of 1:02.43 set in 2005 by Xiujun Chen of China. Maho Takiguchi of Japan finished second in a time of 1:02.96 with Lauren Rettie of Australia Gold finishing third in a time of 1:03.24.
17 year old Takeshi Kawamoto of Japan destroyed the field and demolished American Matt Grevers festival record of 56.41 winning the men’s 100 backstroke in a time of 54.66. Regan Leong of Australia’s Gold team collected his second medal of the evening but finished a distant second in a time of 56.82 with Nicholas Groenewald of Australia’s Green team finishing third in a time of 57.32.
In the women’s 200 butterfly Madeline Groves of Australia’s Gold team narrowly defeated Rino Hosoda of Japan winning the event in a time of 2:11.20 breaking the festival record of 2:11.52 set in 2007 by Australian Samantha Hamill. Hosoda finished in a time of 2:11.57 with 15 year old Alanna Bowles of Australia’s Gold team finishing third in a time of 2:12.66.
In the final event of the evening Masato Sahai won the men’s 200 butterfly with ease in a time of 1:58.35 breaking the festival record of 1:58.38 set in 2001 by Australian Joshua Krogh. Ryo Fujimoto of Japan finished second in a time of 2:01.83 with Mitchell Pratt of the Australian Green team finishing third in a time of 2:03.17.
“I have always wanted to break a record,” Sakai said. “I am really grateful to be a part of swimming history.”