Published: Jan 20, 2013 08:43:33 PM Updated: Jun 4, 2013 09:29:16 AM
This year’s swimming at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) has finished the way it began: several close finishes and plenty of AYOF records.
Incredibly after four days of competition, only five records from previous Festivals remained untouched; with Australian swimmers claiming 17 of the 26 AYOF records to fall.
Australia Gold’s Alanna Bowles began the night in sensational fashion, smashing the Women’s 800m Freestyle AYOF record with her time of 8:38.61. The Queenslander jumped out to an early lead and managed to hold off a strong challenge from Australia Green’s Amelia Gould who touched shortly after in 8:40.35.
“I feel amazing; I’m so happy with my swim. It’s great to have other countries here; swimming against them has been a great experience,” Bowles said.
Japan’s Tsuzumi Haseawa took home the bronze in 8:47.75.
Not to be outdone, Canadian Sydney Pickrem collected her third gold of the Festival, this time in the Women’s 200m IM. The plucky 15-year-old fought off strong competition from Japanese swimmer Yui Ohashi who missed victory by .06 with Australia Green’s Hayley Baker (2:15.88) closely behind in third.
Japanese swimmer Ryo Fujimoto enjoyed a slight lead after the first 100m of the Men’s 200m IM, before Canadian Evan White (2:04.30) and 17-year-old New Zealander Bradlee Ashby (2:04.37) made a strong surge at the wall. When the times flashed up on the scoreboard, it was Fujimoto (2:03.29) whose name accompanied the first place tag.
Alexandra Purcell of Australia Gold won the final of the Women’s 50m Freestyle in a time of 25.73 adding to her silver medal from Friday’s Women’s 100m Freestyle.
“I feel really good about that swim, it wasn’t a personal best but I’m really happy with how my race plan went,” Purcell said.
Australia Gold teammate, Jemma Schlicht, picked up silver in a time of 25.80 and Canada’s Paige Kremer took home bronze in 25.88.
The Men’s 50m Freestyle was over in the blink of an eye with Queenslander Luke Percy smashing his personal best time to set a new AYOF record of 22.46.
Three swimmers went under the previous record of 23.10 set by Luke Kerswell in 2009; an encouraging sign for sprint swimming in Australia. Percy’s teammate Alex Press joined him on the dais along with Australia Green’sAlexander Graham (22.95).
Fifteen-year-old Jenna Strauch (2:27.55) completed the breaststroke double with victory in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke. The Melbourne based swimmer also set a new AYOF record en route to victory and was too classy for the chasing Sydney Pickrem (2:31.09) and Tash Lloyd (2:31.36)
“I’m young so it’s been a great experience being here and competing against older people,” Strauch said.
Big ‘Mack’ Horton went out in search of Australian swimming great Kieran Perkin’s Australian Age 17-year-old 1500m freestyle record and gave a good account of himself, stopping the clock at 15:04.87 to set a new AYOF record for the event.
Although Horton aimed to go quicker, he was still happy with the result and attributed the win to his heavy training schedule.
”I’ve done heaps of training so it was nice to do a PB tonight. It would have been beater to beat Hackett’s Australian All Comers record and go under 15 minutes, but I’m happy with my time. “
Japan’s Yuto Sato (15:10.58) put in a great fight picking up silver with teammate Katsuki Hashiguchi grabbing bronze with a time of 15:29.69.
The Aussies dominated the women’s 4x100m medley relay with Australia Gold (4:06.89) taking out first place in front of Australia Green (4:09.55) with Japan (4.12.60) third.
The Australia Gold team of Lauren Rettie, Jessica Hansen, Jemma Schlicht and Alexandra Purcell also set a new AYOF record.
For Schlicht, the relay win ended a magnificent week of swimming with the young Victorian claiming four gold’s, one silver and a bronze. In every one of her victories, the 15 year-old managed to set a new AYOF record. Australia Gold teammate Alexandra Purcell was equally impressive, securing three gold’s and a silver. Regan Leong was also sensational receiving two gold’s, three silvers and a bronze.
The standout performers from Australian Green included Alexander Graham, (three gold, three silvers and one bronze) Mack Horton (three gold, two silvers and a bronze) and Jenna Strauch (two gold and one silver)
Head Coach Bernie Mulroy was impressed with the entire squad and was full of praise for how the athletes applied themselves throughout the competition.
“The Australian Youth Olympic Festival has replicated the Olympic experience in a minor way, but has given the athletes the experience of working as a team and with different coaches in a challenging and foreign environment.”
“They have carried themselves professionally in the way that they have gone about preparing for races, how they have warmed down, the choices they have made with food intake and the respect they have shown to their competitors."
“If we can get all of these guys competing at the next Olympic Trials it will prove that this program has been a success. They now have to go back to their home coaches and work hard which I am confident they will do,“ said Mulroy.
Japan managed to take out the combined team scores on the back of outstanding contributions from Ryo Fujimoto, Takeshi Kawamoto and Yui Ohashi. The 18-person squad ended the competition with 296 points with Australian Green (257) just managing to hold out Australia Gold (253) for second position.
Combined Team Scores
Japan – 296
Australia Green – 257
Australia Gold – 253
Canada – 134
New Zealand – 96
Hungary – 65
Brazil – 52
Oceania - 3
For full results please click here.