Published: Jan 11, 2013 11:35:12 AM Updated: Mar 19, 2013 09:25:25 AM
Melanie Schlanger has upstaged Alicia Coutts to take out the Women’s 100m Freestyle on night one of the Victorian Open Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre. The pair combined to win Australia’s only gold medal in the pool at the London Olympics, but were rivals tonight as they prepare for next week’s BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series in Perth.
Schlanger, a dual Olympic gold medallist, led from start to finish posting a 54.76 to beat home the Victorian Institute of Sport’s Kelly Stubbins (55.55) and Coutts (56.24). Schlanger’s time was over a second quicker than the 55.92 she posted at December’s Queensland Championships and indicates the Southport Olympic swimmer is nearing her best form a week out from the inaugural BHP Aquatic Super Series.
Coutts had earlier produced an outstanding swim to take home the Victorian Title in the Women’s 50m Butterfly in 26.94. 17 year-old Christina Licciardi (27.14) was on pace with the multiple Olympic medallist and collected second place with Louise Mitchell (27.43) third.
The Men’s 100m Freestyle was a one man affair with young gun Alexander Graham blitzing the field to be the only swimmer under the 50 second-barrier. With Olympic 100m Freestyler James Roberts withdrawing through illness, Graham, who will swim at next week’s Australian Youth Olympics Festival in Sydney, was commanding in victory over Nunawading’s Travis Mahoney (50.70) and the Australian Institute of Sport’s Jarrod Killey (50.88).
In other events, Nicole Livingstone’s 20 year-old Victorian Women’s 200m Backstroke record was threatened by dual Olympian Belinda Hocking. The 22 year-old was on target to break Livingstone’s mark but fell 0.23 short of the Australian swimming legend’s time of 2:10.20. Hocking, who is now coached by Nunwading’s Rohan Taylor, took the title in 2:10.43 with teammate Sharnie Burleigh (2:16.43) and Surrey Park’s Sian Whittaker (2:16.75) over six seconds behind in second and third respectively.
Australian 400m Freestyle Champion, David McKeon, proved too strong in his pet event hitting the wall ahead of the Victorian Institute of Sport’s Mack Horton (3:53.04). The 2012 Olympian jumped out to an early advantage and was never headed en route to the title in 3:49.83. Horton produced an encouraging swim to finish a body length behind with Nunawading’s Shane Ashbury (3:57.01) third.
Queensland’s Christopher Wright had to fight hard in the Men’s 200m Butterfly with Hugo Morris pushing the Olympian during the opening stages. Wright, a semi finalist in the Men’s 100m Butterfly in London, pulled away over the concluding stages to posted a sub 2-minute time of 1:59.86. Tigersharks swimmer Mitchell Pratt (2:00.20) came home strongly to claim second with Melbourne Vicentre’s Andrew Cameron (2:00.96)third.
Red Cliffs swimmer Lorna Tonks (1:07.81) upstaged Australian Champion Lesiton Pickett in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke to cause the first major upset of the Championships. Tonks, originally from Great Britain, was stronger over the concluding stages to edge out Sarah Katsoulis (1:07.84) andPickett(1:09.24) who was over a second behind in third.
Eight time Paraylmpics gold medalist Jacqueline Freney was also in action on night one with the 20 year-old claiming the Women’s 200m Freestyle Multi-Class title.
Day two will again see Olympians Belinda Hocking, Matson Lawson, David McKeon, Leiston Pickett, Matt Targett, Christopher Wright, Melanie Schlanger, Alicia Coutts, Blair Evans and Brenton Rickard all compete.