Making good use of their sparkling $100 million aquatics center in Adelaide, South Australia, day one (out of six) of the Swimming Australia Age Championships kicked off on Monday. While the Australian senior age groups are riled with drug-and-drama-fueled chaos, the Australian junior ranks are as good as they’ve ever been, with three Australia Age Records going down (unlike the USA, Australia keeps records for single ages).
In the boys’ 14-year olds 100 fly, Kyle Chalmers swam a 54.79 to win the 14-year olds 100 fly by two-and-a-half seconds. That broke the 2012 record of 55.19 previously held by City of Perth’s Damian Frye. Chalmers, who is basically Australia’s answer to Michael Andrew with his impressive size, record-breaking prowess, and impressive athletic pedigree, hasn’t slowed down any as he’s moved to the 14-year olds age group.
Fyfe, the old record holder, was 2nd in the men’s 200 backstroke in 2:02.68. That made him a part of a group of three swimmers who were all under the old National Age Record of 2:03.77, held by Mitch Larkin from 2009. The third-place finisher was Tristan Ludlow in 2:02.77, but the young man who will emerge from the meet as the record holder is Nunwading’s Nic Groenewald, who swam a 2:02.54 for the victory. Groenewald now has 4 out of 6 15 & under Age Records in backstroke (though, out of all events on the Olympic schedule, Australia is historically the weakest in the men’s backstrokes top-to-bottom).
The impressive swims didn’t halt at just those records though. Southport Olympic, home club of Cameron McEvoy, is continuing to turn out more-and-more top-flight sprinters. 18-year old Luke Percy won the 17-18 50 free in 22.24, with his younger teammate Blake Jones just behind in 22.75. In all, that race saw four juniors get under 23 seconds. That’s more junior swimmers than the United States had from the entire 2012 long course season combined.
The girls’ race was just as impressive and deep, with Yolane Kukla winning the girls’ 50 free in 25.14. She was followed by Alexandra Purcell in 25.21 (they’re both 17) and Emma McKeon in 25.25. The Americans didn’t even get one swimmer that low in long course (not Neal, or Manuel, or Franklin, or Smoliga). This is perhaps due at least in part to the short course focus by many American swimmers at this age, but Olympians like Neal and Franklin spend plenty of time on long course training to buck that trend.
A lot of the girls’ races were much stronger this year than last year, showing even another potential surge in young talent on top of how much they have right now. Meg Bailey from the Hunter swim club in New South Wales won the girls’ 16-year olds 200 fly in 2:13.96 – two seconds better than last year’s winner. 14-year old Abbey Harkin won the girls’ 200 IM for her age group in 2:18.36, a second-plus better than last year’s winner.
Carlile’s Ami Matsuo won the 16-year olds’ 100 free in 54.76, a second-and-a-half better than Chelsea Gillett (56.29). That’s seven-tenths away from the age group record of Yolane Kukla, but Kukla was so good at this age that it really skews the comparison to records.
The girls’ 17-18 100 breaststroke saw two swimmers dip under 2:10: MLC Aquatic’s Jessica Hansen won in 1:09.18, and the defending champion Taylor McKeown was 2nd in 1:09.33. Both were much faster than McKeown’s winning time at last year’s meet, but keep in mind that Hansen had the fastest overall 100 breaststroke in 2012 – in the 16-year olds race.
Sian Whittaker won the girls’ 200 backstroke in 2:12.11 (four seconds better than last year’s winner, and five-seconds better than the runner up).
Australia’s women’s butterfly group doesn’t appear to be getting any lighter in the foreseable future. That’s a group that feels a lot like the American backstroking groups in how more-and-more young swimmers keep piling up, and with 14-year old Stephanie Whan winning her age group in 1:00.61, that’s another future name to watch headed even toward Rio. Looking at Whan’s improvement rate, she seems nowhere near tapped out. With a starting point of her best time from last December, in four months she’s cleared that 1:03.98 in 7 different swims, and by better than three seconds.
Lucia Lassman from the Miami Swim Club was 2nd in 1:01.18 (she was 1:00.5 in prelims), and Mikaela Cornelissen was 3rd in 1:01.99.