Lani Pallister

View Current photo via photo credit Fabio Cetti

Lani Pallister is an Australian middle-distance and distance freestyler. Pallister found great success as a junior swimmer. On the senior level, she has swept the distance triple at SC Worlds and medaled at LC Worlds and Commonwealth Games. 

Junior Swimming

Pallister set an Australian 15-year-old record in the 200 free with a 1:59.37 at the 2018 Australian Age Swimming Championships. She also posted a 4:11.48 400 free

2017 World Junior Swimming Championships (Indianapolis, Indiana)

At just 15, Pallister represented Australia at World Juniors. She finished 8th in the 1500 with a 16:32.59 and 10th in the 800 with a 8:39.86. 

2018 Junior Pan Pacific Championships (Suva, Fiji)

Pallister was entered in every free event except the 50 free and put up some impressive times in all of them. She opened with a sliver in the 200 free in 1:59.00 and then took the 800 free with an 8:29.65 in the same session. The 800 was a hard-fought win as Mariah Denigan nearly got the better of Pallister with an 8:30.01. The next day, Pallister led the 800 free relay off with a 1:58.83, the fastest split (flat start or otherwise) of the field but Australia settled for silver. She also tried on the 100 free where she placed 12th and put up a 56.07 in prelims. Pallister cruised through the 400 free prelims before crushing a 4:07.76 to clear the fired by 3 seconds and take a 2nd gold. She anchored the Ausgtralin 400 free relay to silver with a 55.08. PAllaister finished her meet with the 1500  where she broke her first meet record with a 16:08.09. 

Pallister is now faster than her mother, Janelle Elford, in the 400, the 800, and the 1500. Elford was a finalist in both the 400m and 800m freestyle events at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, placing 5th in the former (4:10.64) and sixth in the latter (8:30.94). Elford, a two-time Olympic finalist, Commonwealth Games gold medalist and two-time Pan Pac champion in the 1500m freestyle, is now her coach and was on deck in Suva. 

2018 Queensland Championships

Pallister set a new PB in the 200 free with a 1:58.79 and also had a solid 4:07.72 400 free.

2019 World Junior Swimming Championships (Budapest, Hungary)

After winning the 100 through 1500 free at Aussie Age Champs (55.7/1:50.06/4:08.37/8:24.58/16:16.01), Pallister was selected for Junior Worlds. There, she had a major impact for the Australians. First, she led off the 800 free relay to silver with a 1:58.61. Then, she busted out a new meet record with an 8:22.49 800 free for golds. The time makes Pallister the #3 Aussie ever. Next, she added the 400 free gold to her growing medal count with a PB of 4:05.42. Pallister took down another Championships Record in the 1500 freestyle with a 15:58.86, taking her 3rd gold. Finally, she ended her meet with a silver in the 200 free in a big 1:58.09. On the sprint front, Pallister split 55.24 on the prelims of the 400 mixed medley relay and was 55.23 on the silver worthy 400 free relay. In the end, Pallister came away with 6 medals: 3 gold and 3 silver.

National/International Swimming

2018 Aussie SC Championships (Melbourne, Australia)

In a pit of an upset, Pallister beat Ariarne Titmus in the 800 free with an 8:13.26. The swim puts Pallister, 16, under the Australian QT for SC Worlds. She dropped the 400 free but placed 2nd in the 1500 with a 16:05.31. She opted out of competing at SC Worlds. 

2018 Life Saving World Championship (Adelaide, Australia)

Pallister swept her pool rescue and surf events, bringing home gold in the 200 Obstacles and 4×50 Obstacle Relay. Pallister also notched World Records in the 100 Medley Rescue and 200 Super Lifesaver events to give the Australian Lifesaving Team an overall victory in the National Open at the Lifesaving World Championship.

2019 Australian Worlds Trials

Pallister wound up 3rd in a couple of events. In the 1500 free, she was 3rd with a 16:06.84. That broke her mother’s Age Record for 17-year-olds og 16:10.11 clocked way back in 1987. Pallister rounded out the 400 free top 3 in 4:06.57. She was 1:59.73 in the 200 free and 8:25.66 in the 800.  

2020 Queensland SC Championships (Brisbane, Australia)

After a long COVID-19 lockdown hiatus from racing for Pallister, she returned with fury at the 2020 Queensland SC Champs.  On day 1, Pallister punched a new lifetime best of 8:11.71 to become the first-ever female under 8:12 in the 800 free from Australia. Her time overtook the previous NR of 8:12.32 by Kylie Palmer in 2008. It was also a new All Comers mark. She also threw down a 15:38.99 1500 free behind Mmaddy Gough’s 15:31.19 National Record performance.

2020 Australian SC Championships (virtual due to COVID-19)

Competing at the Brisbane (Chandler) location, Pallister knocked a solid chunk of time of her Aussie national record in the 800 free with an 8:10.12 to make the #18 performer in history. She kept the ball rolling with another NR in the 1500 free with a 15:28.33 to take down Maddy Gough’s 15:31.19 set at the 2020 Queensland SC Champs. Pallister had set her previous PB at that meet with a 15:38.99. 

Move to Griffith University

In late 2020, Pallister’s mother and coach, Jannell Pallister (nee Elford), was offered a position with legendary Aussie coach Michael Bohl. Lani and Janelle both moved to Griffith University to train and coach respectively.

2020 QLD Championships (Brisbane, Australia)

In the 400 free, Pallister neared her 400 free PB with a solid 4:06.19 as she won the race. Pallister got it done again with an 8:24.71 800 free and then scored a new 18-year-old age record in the 1500 free with a 16:05.46, her 2nd fastest 1500. She was also 1:58.33 in the 200 free, a near-personal best.

2020(1) Australian Olympic Team Trials (Adelaide, Australia)

In the 400 free, Pallister cruised through prelims with a 4:06.76 for 3rd. Pallister seemed to falter in the finals with a 4:07.07. In the 200 free, she was off again with a 1:58.99 in prelims and worse in finals with a 1:59.47 for 12th. She did not contest the longer 800 and 1500 free events. Later, Pallister revealed she was suffering from a heart issue, an eating disorder, and mono throughout trials

Heart Surgery and Eating Disorder

Pallister was diagnosed in 2021 with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). Kyle Chalmers suffered from SVT as well before undergoing three surgeries. “In March, I was diagnosed with SVT, so I had a cardiac ablation. That was the start of a snowball effect. I stopped eating in pursuit of trying to be skinny instead of fit and strong, like the majority of athletes are,” Pallister told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Pallister’s eating disorder impacted her swimming in the “worst year of her life.” Pallister said that she is back and better than ever, after support from Michael Bohl and Janelle Pallister (her mother, coach, and an Olympian), and training partner Emily Seebohm, along with professional help.

2022 Australian Trials (Oaklands, Australia)

After practically not racing for a year Pallister made her return in a big way at 2022 Australian Trials. She crushed a huge 8:17.77 in the 800 free to lead the field and qualify for her first World Championships. It was a 5 second PB. Next, she wound up 6th in the 200 free with a big PB of 1:56.28, presumably adding the 800 free relay to her Worlds line-up.  In the 1500, It was all Pallister as she put up a 15:55.40, the only time in the field under 16 minutes and another big PB. In her final event, Pallister faced off against Ariarne Titmus in the 400 free. Pallister was far off of Titmus’s new world record of 3:56.04 with a 4:02.21, but it was a massive PB of about 3 seconds. It also makes her the #2 Aussie of all time.

2022 FINA World Championships (Budapest, Hungary)

With Titmus opting out of Worlds to focus on Commonwealth Games, Pallister had the chance to shine in her 400 free. She was solid in prelims with a 4:03.71 for 3rd before returning that night with a 4:02.16 PB. That time was just .08 off of the podium in fourth behind Leah Smith.  The next morning, she moved through the 1500 free prelims with a 15:57.61 for 4th. In the final, it was all Katie Ledecky but Pallister lead Katie Grimes in 2nd at the 1000 by about a second. Grimes seemed to enter another gear over the back 500 and Pallister ended up 3rd by about 4 seconds with a quick 15:48.96. The swim marks Pallister’s first senior international medal. 

In the 800 free relay heats, Pallister was a solid 1:56.86. The finals squad, sans Pallister, took silver. Next, in the 800 free, Pallister lead the pack qualifying behind Ledecky with a relaxed 8:24.66. Pallister tested positive for COVID-19 before the final, depriving herself of what would have probably been a silver medal. Pallister’s PB of 8:17.77 from trials would have gotten silver and considering her PBs in the 1500 and 400, a PB was expected. In her place, fellow Aussie Kiah Melverton took silver. 

2022 Commonwealth Games (Birmingham, UK)

Pallister lead a very relaxed 800 free prelims with an 8:32.67. In the final, Pallister rounded out an Australian podiums sweep in 8:19.16 for bronze behind Titmus (8:13.59) and Melverton (8:16.79). She was off the podium in the 400 free with a 4:04.43. 

2022 Dual In the Pool (Sydney, Australia)

In the broken 400 free, Pallister was solidly 2nd with a 1:59.82 at the 200 then swam a 57.27 100 but missed out of the top 2. In the 200 free, she was 2nd with a 1:58.08. In the broken 800, Pallister led the 1st 300 to get an extra point then put up a 1:59.76 on the 2nd segment, a 200 free, on the back of a strong 2nd wind down the stretch. Pallister had a 3rd wind down the stretch on the 3rd segment, another 200 free, to win there. Pallister was the overall winner.

2022 Australian Short Course Championships (Sydney, Australia)

In the 1500 free, Pallister took down her national record by 4 seconds with a time of 15:24.63. The swim also qualifies her for SC Worlds. She added another national record to her resume, producing a time of 8:07.37 to earn the gold in the 800 free. In the 400 free, Pallister crushed a 3:56.74 for the win and in the 200 free, she was 3rd in 1:53.81.

Lifesaving World Championships (Riccione, Italy)

Pallister was a key part of the Australian team’s overall win. She took gold in the 200 Obstacle, 4×50 Obstacle Relay, 4×50 Lifesaver Relay Mixed, Rescue Tube Women, Ocean Relay Women, Surf Race, and Mixed Ocean Lifesaver while she took silver in the 100 rescue medley and bronze in the beach relay. 

2022 FINA Short Course World Championships (Melbourne, Australia)

With big mid-distance and distance names scratching or not rentering the meet altogether, the stage was set for Pallister to take home some major hardware, and she did just that. In the 400 free, Pallister threw down a 3:55.04 to take Gold in a new PB after she and Erika Fairweather separated themselves from the field early on. This was her first individual gold in her Worlds career. She grabbed a second gold in the 800 free, downing her own NR with an 8:04.07 to make her the #7 performer all-time. On the 800 free relay, Pallister anchored in a quick 1:52.24. Despite being more distance oriented, she had the fastest split on the entire Australian relay team of Madi Wilson (1:53.13), Mollie O’Callaghan (1:52.83), Leah Neale (1:52.67), and Pallister. That squad, besides winning gold, broke an 8-year-old world record set in 2014 by the Netherlands. Pallister completed her distance sweep with a dominating performance in the 1500. Pallister touched the wall at 15:21.43, marking a new personal best time and a new Oceanic record. It also makes her the #5 performer of all time.

Post-meet, Pallister revealed on the SwimSwam Podcast that she almost came to the NCAA. When Pallister moved to train with Michael Bohl at the beginning of 2022, she gave herself one year and if it wasn’t going well by then, she would pursue swimming in the NCAA to be a part of a team and hopefully enjoy her sport that way.

2023 Sydney Open (Sydney, Australia)

At the storied Sydney Open, Pallister threw down one of her best times ever. In the 400 free she was an excellent 4:04.88. She was solid in the 800 with an 8:22.93.

2023 Australian World Championship Trials (Melbourne, Australia)

Pallister opened her meet with an impressive 4:02.43 in the 400 free for 2nd behind Titmus. In the 200 free, Pallister rounded out a stacked podium behind Mollie O’Callaghan and Titmus with a 1:56.03 best time for 3rd. In the 800 free, she was 2nd in a solid 8:24.72. Pallister won her last race, the 1500 as the only swimmer under 16 minutes with a 15:56.31. 

2023 World Aquatics Championships (Fukuoka, Japan)

Individually, Pallister had some really solid swims. In the 400 free, she was 4:03.49 in prelims for 6th and a little off in 4:05.17 for 6th in the final. In the 1500, Pallister was 15:58.11 for 3rd in prelims and 15:49.17 for 5th in finals. It was a similar story in the 800 free where she put up an 8:21.38 for 5th in prelims and dropped just a tiny bit to 8:21.33 for 7th in the final. Pallister’s single medal of the meet came when she split 1:56.83 on the prelims 800 free relay that took gold in the final. 

–This biography was originally developed by Lucas Caswell

International Medals

Place Event Year Meet
Silver 800 Freestyle Relay 2022 World Championships
Bronze 1500 Free 2022 World Championships
Gold 800 Freestyle Relay 2023 World Championships
Gold 400 Free 2022 Short Course World Championships
Gold 800 Free 2022 Short Course World Championships
Gold 1500 Free 2022 Short Course World Championships
Gold 800 Freestyle Relay 2022 Short Course World Championships
Bronze 800 Free 2022 Commonwealth Games
Gold 400 Free 2019 World Junior Championships
Gold 800 Free 2019 World Junior Championships
Gold 1500 Free 2019 World Junior Championships
Silver 200 Free 2019 World Junior Championships
Silver 400 Freestyle Relay 2019 World Junior Championships
Silver 800 Freestyle Relay 2019 World Junior Championships

Best Times

Course Event Time Date Meet
lcm 200 Free 1:56.03 01/01/70 2023 Australian Swimming Trials
Melbourne, Australia
scm 200 Free 1:53.81 08/24/22 2022 Australian National Championships
Sydney, Australia
lcm 400 Free 4:02.16 06/18/22 2022 World Championships
Budapest, Hungary
scm 400 Free 3:55.04 12/13/22 2022 SC World Championships
Melbourne, Australia
lcm 800 Free 8:17.77 05/18/22 2022 Australian Trials
Gold Coast, Australia
scm 800 Free 8:04.07 12/14/22 2022 SC World Championships
Melbourne, Australia
lcm 1500 Free 15:48.96 06/20/22 2022 World Championships
Budapest, Hungary
scm 1500 Free 15:21.42 12/16/22 2022 SC World Championships
Melbourne, Australia