The final day of the 2012 Australian Age Group Championships in Brisbane wrapped up Saturday. There were no records broken in the closing event, but there was a final showcase and run at gold medals by the biggest names in this meet.
13-year old Kyle Chalmers took a win in the 100 backstroke, his 5th event-title of the meet, in 1:00.62. Not that this is a bad time (in fact, it’s still crazy-good for a swimmer that young). But for maybe the first time in this meet, he didn’t even come close to the National Age Group Record.
But this record was held by a swimmer who is equally as impressive (and was about as dominant at this meet last year) – Nicholas Groenewald. Groenwald wrapped up his meet with a 2:24.86 in the 14-year olds 200 breaststroker, which tops off a huge-taper with a three-second drop. That kept up his standard of versatility at this meet – he won medals in each of the five discipline except for the freestyles. He didn’t quite match his unbelievable run at 8 wins from last year’s meet, but that didn’t make this year any less impressive.
So which swimmer gets the Best of the Meet Award? Chalmers had 5 titles, Groenewald 6. Chalmers had 4 records to Groenewald’s two. I think the award probably goes to Chalmers, given the excitement he’s produced by shattering sprint freestyle records – and those are races that have become near-and-dear to the hearts of Australians.
At any rate this year, one of the big reasons why Groenewald’s win-total was down at this year’s meet was the sudden emergence of Damian Fyfe at this year’s meet, who took 4 championships of his own. On the final day, he capped his meet with a scorching 1:54.58, which is a seven-second year-over-year improvement. He’s an outstanding butterfly/freestyle combo swimmer, and could have as big of a future as any of the aforementioned.
And topping off the meet, in what is likely the last individual event he’ll ever swim at this meet where he’s been so good for so many years (most of the best 18-year olds don’t come), Cameron McEvoy won the 100 free in 49.01. That’s not quite as good as he was at senior Nationals, but was a good finish to a long month of competition. (Contrary to what the live results say – the swim was not a record, though it’s the number-two swim in the history of the age).
His teammate Andrew Digby came in just behind him in 50.61, to give Southport a 1-2 finish.
On the women’s side of the meet, 13-year old Chelsea Gubecka won her age group’s race in the 400 IM in 4:55.09. She’s sort of a coach’s dream at the age, because the area for her improvement is pretty obvious – the breaststroke. And it’s not seemingly a lack of endurance, because she still had a very good final leg in the freestyle. She could be doing some really special swims (4:45’s?) next year as a 14-year old.
The womens’ 17-18 freestyle was among the most star-studded races of this meet. It included a pair of Olympians (Bronte Campbell and Brittany Elmslie) and another near-miss (Emma McKeon). The three flipped nearly-identically, but it was Elmslie for the first time in this meet who had a rager of a closing 50-meters to take the win in 54.67. McKeon was 2nd in 54.90, and Campbell 3rd in 55.18.
Shayna Jack, another multi-event winner in this meet, won the girls’ 12-13 100 backstroke in 1:04.14. There are very few Australians who have been faster at this age in the last decade (the supreme age groupers – Yolane Kukla and Mikkayla Sheridan are all that come to mind).
In the 14-year old girls’ 200 breaststroke, Georgia Bohl out of St. Peter’s nearly pulled off an upset over Karlene Pircher from Melbourne Vincente, but Pircher held on for the win in 2:31.29. Bohl, who seems to have benefited from her training with Leisel Jones, dropped 6 seconds with a 2:31.46.
And finallly, an outstanding win in the 14-year old girls’ 200 free from Siobhan Haughey in 2:02.06. In disappointment to the Aussies, that spectacular time will count towards Honk Kong’s standards – she competes for Honk Kong internationally. She is a potential future Olympian for that country, who could have a decent 800 free relay perhaps by 2015.