The Australian Age Championships Divide swimmers into different classes by age over an 8-day meet. For the regular swimming, those age groups are 12-13, 14, 15, 16, and 17-18. For the Multi-Class races, that’s 11-14, 15–16, and 17-18, though that varies for some events. With 204 events to cover, we’re going to take the strategy of really delving into the top 4-5 swims of each finals session, and then give more bullet-pointed lists of the rest of the winners. We hope that this will help our readers wade through a couple of hundred races to focus in on some of the really key information.
The 2014 Australian Age Championships (long course) began in Sydney on Monday evening at Sydney’s SOPAC pool. This meet will be sort of a convergence of those swimmers who rested for a ‘reach’ shot at Australia’s Commonwealth Games team two weeks ago, and those who saved their primary tapers for this week.
The Australian system has different championships for different ages, and while that loses some of the great 16 vs. 18 battles that you’d see in other countries, it adds a certain element of anticipation. Australian swimmers can be watched and tracked all the way through the age groups, and this leads to a lot of experience by the time they’re 17 or 18 and ready to contend on bigger stages.
There are a few visiting swimmers at this meet, and they’re eligible to swim and finals and win, including a group of youth swimmers from Canada. Those young swimmers (who on day 1 were mostly 14-16 year old swimmers) made quite an impact as well, and that’s where we’ll start our story.
Mary-Sophie Harvey won both girls’ 14-year old events on day 1. First she took the 200 IM in a runaway 2:16.29, beating Tuggeranong’s Rebecca Cross (2:20.57) and fellow Canadian Olivia Anderson, who was 3rd in 2:22.12. That swim for Harvey broke several records – it broke the Australian Age All-Comers record as the fastest 14-year old 200 IM ever done on Australia soil. That old record belonged to Mikkayla Sheridan from 2009 at 2:17.16.
It also broke the Canadian 13-14 National Age Group Record, coincidentally also a 2:17.16 belonging to Sydney Pickrem.
Harvey would come back later to win the 100 fly in 1:01.36, half-a-second ahead of East Brisbane’s Gemma Cooney (1:01.82). That broke no records for Harvey, but it was her season-best time by over two seconds.
In the boys’ 12-13 200 meter freestyle, Palm Beach 13-year old Elijah Winnington broke the Australian Age Record for 13 & unders with a 1:57.27. That broke the old record of 1:57.48 that belonged to Kyle Chalmers (who is expected to be a main attraction at this meet in the 15-year old age group, but who didn’t race on Monday).
Both the girls’ and the boys’ 16-year olds 200 fly had some good results. In the girls’ race, Alanna Bowles from Rock City swam a 2:11.81. Bowles didn’t swim this race at senior nationals a couple of weeks ago, but had she, this time would have placed her 4th (though a couple seconds away from a Commonwealth Games invite). Still, nobody in the final at Nationals was as young as she was, so by the time she’s 18 she should be a contender at that senior level.
Following that in the boys’ 200 fly was a good battle between Damian Fyfe and Dominick Richardson for the title. Last year, Richardson put in a big final 50 to win this race when the two were in the 15-year olds category. This year, though, Fyfe has improved his last 50, and put in a big enough lead in the first one that he couldn’t be caught. Fyfe took the win in 2:01.21, and Richardson was 2nd in 2:01.49. That’s a nice rivalry developing for the future of Australia.
In the girls’ 17-18 category, Yolane Kukla started the meet with a 25.16 win in the 50 free. That put her ahead of Brianna Throssell (25.54) and Ami Matsuo (25.62), but was a tad slower than the swim with which Kukla won this race last year. It’s faster than she was at Nationals, however.
Chelsea Gillette took 4th in 25.79.
Later, in the 100 breaststroke in the same classification, Jessica Hansen won the 100 breaststroke in 1:08.50, beating out Georgia Bohl (1:09.52) with a big back-half. Bohl’s focus seems to have been the Senior meet, as she added over a second from her 5th-place finish there.
The 17-18 boys had some good swims as well. Southport’s Blake Jones won the 50 free in 22.59; TSS Aquatics’ Grayson bell won the 100 breast in 1:02.90; and Warrnambool’s Isaac Jones negative-split his way to a 3:54.91 in the 400 freestyle. Jones’ splits, by 100, in that 400 free were 56.99 – 60.83 – 60.44 – 56.65.
In the girls’ 17-18 400 free, Leah Neale defended her title with a 4:11.25. While that’s quite a bit slower than she was at last year’s meet, she still had a three-and-a-half second cushion over the field. She was shooting for a spot at the Commonwealth Games this year, and even though she went a best time at senior nationals, she missed out by a second-and-a-half.
And finally, in the always-popular sprint events, Bayside’s Lucy McJannett won the girls’ 16-year olds 100 free going away in 55.53, and Canadian Javier Acevedo won the men’s race in 50.90. Acevedo placed just ahead of home-nation products Vincent Dai and Brayden McCarthy.
One last record was broken on Monday in the day’s final swim. The West Coast swim team combination of Fyfe, Alex Milligan, Alex Chin, and Braga Verhage swam a 3:50.49 in the 400 medley relay, which is a new 16 & unders National Record. The old record was a 3:53.55 set in 2011 by the Brothers’ team. Splits for the new record-setters:
- Fyfe, backstroke, 57.42
- Milligan, breaststroke, 1:04.50
- Chin, fly, 56.01
- Verhage, free, 52.56
Other event winners:
- Chelsea Gubecka won the girls’ 15-year olds 800 free in 8:40.4.
- Rory Scott took the boys 14-year olds’ 200 IM in 2:12.46, a big new best time.
- Ariarne Titmus won the girls’ 12-13 200 free in 2:06.18, topping Molly Batchelor’s 2:06.35.
- Meryn McCann, another Canadian, won the girls’ 15-year olds 200 back in 2:14.05. Cranbrook’s Monique Rae was the top Canadian in 2:15.73.
- Bradley Woodward won the boys’15-year olds 200 back in 2:03.69
- The boys 14’s 100 fly went to Jordan Brunt of Souhtport in 57.05. Joshua Kennedy from MLC Aquatic was 2nd in 57.26.
- Sarah Beale won the girls’ 12-13 200 breaststroke in 2:39.56 – by almost two seconds.
- Auburn’s Finn O’Connor won the boys’ 12-13 200 breaststroke in 2:29.51. American Shane Blinkman from the Hudson Area Swim Association in Minnesota took 2nd in 2:29.81.
- Jacob Vincent from Hobart won the boys’ 1500 free for 15-year olds in 15:50.00. Miami’s Toby Wilson knocked 24-seconds off of his seed time to place 2nd in 15:53.13.
- St. Peter’s Western won the girls’ 16 & under 400 medley relay in 4:17.51. That included a 1:02.61 leadoff in the 100 back from 16-year old Amy Forrester.