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Swimming ends in spectacular style

20 January 2013

SWIMMING: 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 great experience said Bowles,” 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 individual medley.  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 individual medley, 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 names 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 a 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’s Alexander 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.

Japan’s Kazusa Araya and Mamoru Mori were neck and neck from the 100m turn in the men’s 200m breaststroke, but it was Araya (2:15.80) who hit the wall ahead of Mori (2:15.80).  Australia Gold’s Joshua Tierney took third place with his time of 2:16.71.

But the 17-year-old was not celebrating. “I am proud of myself for making an AYOF record,” Araya said of his win. “However, that is not my PB so I have lots of work to do.”

Big ‘Mack’ Horton went out in search of Australian swimming greats Kieran Perkin’s Australian 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 results and attributed the win to his heavy training schedule. 

”I’ve done heaps of training, ten sessions a week, just keeping up my consistency,” Horton said.

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 from the very beginning. Australia Gold (4:06.89) took out first place in front of Australia Green (4:09.55) with Japan (4.12.60) managing third. 

The Australia Gold team of Lauren Rettie, Jessica Hansen, Jenna Schlicht and Alexandra Purcell also out the AYOF record, Australia Gold’s tenth for the meet and Australia’s 17th in total.

Coach Bernie Mulroy credits Australia’s high medal intake to the split teams; Australia Green and Australia Gold

“Splitting the squad into two teams has created a fantastic rivalry and tight racing not only with each other but also against the Japanese, Canadians, New Zealanders and the Oceania team,” he said.

Japan won the men’s 4x100m medley relay in a AYOF record breaking time of 3:42.06.

Breaststroker for Japan, Kohei Goto, felt the pressure to perform well against the Australians.

“I’m very glad that I helped to make the AYOF record,” Goto said. “We are very happy with our result but we have a lot of hard work to do for our next meet against the Australian team.”

Australia Gold’s team finished close behind in a time of 3:44.48 grabbing the silver medal and Australia Green picked up bronze in a time of 3:45.18.

Sunday’s events conclude the swimming competition for the AYOF 2013.

Hannah Moore and Hayley Williams

Follow the AYOF on Twitter @AYOF2013 #AYOF2013 #RoadtoRio

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