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Apr 17 14

Bowles takes medal haul to four from four at Auusie Juniors

by ZwemZa
Alanna Bowles (ABC Local:Alice Roberts)

Alanna Bowles (ABC Local:Alice Roberts)

Rocky City swimmer Alanna Bowles has added a fourth Australian Age title to her tally with a win in the girl’s 16 years 200m freestyle on night four of the Georgina Hope Swimmers Foundation Australian Age Championships in Sydney.

After walking away with multiple medals at the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Australian Age Championships the Queensland based swimmer, who was recently selected to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games, will be one to watch when she makes her debut on the senior international stage in Glasgow later this year.

In a demonstration of her dominance tonight, Bowles finished almost two seconds clear of the rest of the field in the 200m freestyle with a time of 2:00.92.

New South Wales local, Lucy McJannett picked up the silver medal in 2:02.19 while West Australian Sacha Downing rounded out the top three in 2:03.25.

In the boy’s events, Miami swimmer Andrew Ryan, who burst onto the swimming scene with five gold medals at last year’s age championships, continued to impress, adding another two medals to his 2014 tally with a gold and bronze respectively in the 50 and 400m freestyle.

Less than a second separated the top eight finalists in the boy’s 14 years 50m freestyle but it was Ryan (24.73) who took the bragging rights in the splash and dash event.

Following a technical fault with the starting equipment at the beginning of the race, Ryan along with another competitor fell into the pool prematurely but they both managed to compose themselves with Ryan going on to take the title for the second year running.

In the boy’s 14 years 400m freestyle event it was Nathan Robinson who secured the win in 4:07.56 with Jordan Lello (4:08.72) second and Andrew Ryan (4:08.84) third.

In other events…

Girl’s and Boys 17/18 years 100m Butterfly

The West Australian duo of Yolane Kukla and Brianna Throssell stood side by side on the podium again tonight in the final of the girl’s 17/18 years 100m butterfly. After taking the top two spots in the 50m freestyle earlier in the meet, Kukla grabbed another gold in 59.11 with Throssell just a touch behind for silver in a time of 59.20.

Third place went to Christina Licciardi from Melbourne Vicentre, also sneaking under the one minute mark in 59.93.

After earning a spot on the Commonwealth Games team in the 200m butterfly in July this year, 18-year-old Mitchell Pratt is making the most of the domestic racing experience available in the lead up. Tonight he took gold in the boy’s 17/18 years 100m butterfly in a convincing time of 53.92 with Regan Leong (54.10) second and Nicholas Brown (54.23) in third.

Boy’s 16 years 200m Freestyle

The boy’s 16 years 200m freestyle was a race to the wall with East Brisbane’s Samuel Young and West Coast’s Damian Fyfe in a fight for first place.  With just 0.04 of a second separating the duo, it was Young who took the title in 1:51.40 while Fyfe had to settle for silver in 1:51.44. The bronze medal went to Max Carleton in 1:52.02

Girl’s 14 years 50m Freestyle

St Peters Western swimmer Elli Mackay was too strong in the girl’s 14 years 50m freestyle hitting the wall in 25.96 to take the Australian age title. The silver medal went to Breana Gilroy in 26.49 with Madison Thompson in third place with a time of 26.63.

Girl’s and Boy’s 15 years 100m Backstroke

World Junior Championship representative from 2013 Monique Rae was the best placed Australian in the girl’s 15 years 100m backstroke. Rae clocked a 1:03.63 to relegate Chandler’s Shayna Jack to silver in 1:04.19 with Ryleigh Lammert taking the bronze in 1:04.71

Mingara swimmer Bradley Woodward showed off his versatility taking out the title in the boy’s 15 years 100m backstroke in a time of 57.88, adding to his breaststroke gold from earlier in the meet.  Benno Negri added another medal to his collection with silver in 58.03 with James Hanson taking home the bronze in 58.58.

Girl’s and Boy’s 12/13 years 200m Butterfly

Campbelltown swimmer Rachel Robinson upgraded to a gold medal in the girl’s 12/13 years 200m butterfly after taking the silver in the 100m fly earlier in the week. Robinson finished first in 2:18.83 with Jesse Coplick second in 2:20.65 and Chloe Pearson third in 2:21.98.

Elijah Winnington continued his winning streak, picking up gold in the boy’s 12/13 years 200m butterfly. Winnington took the title convincingly in 2:09.63 with Nick Jennens second in 2:13.05 and Oliver Nash third in 2:16.06.

Girl’s and Boy’s 17/18 years 200m Individual Medley

Acacia Bayside’s Carla Buchannan (2:16.53) managed to hold off a chase from medley specialist Meg Bailey (2:17.19) to claim gold in the girl’s 17/18 years 200m individual medley.  The bronze medal was awarded to Leah Neale in 2:17.36.

Swimming in his local pool and in front of a home crowd, Hayden Hinds-Sydenham (2:04.05) swooped in under fellow Sydney-sider Jake Baggaley’s (2:04.25) nose to take gold in the boy’s 17/18 years 200m individual medley.  Douglas Oliver rounded out the top three in 2:05.75.

Girl’s 14 years 400m Freestyle

Queenslanders swept the podium in the girl’s 14 years 400m freestyle with Chandler swimmer Mikayla Messer (4:19.34) taking top honours ahead of TSS Aquatics swimmer Elly Wikaire (4:19.39) and Bronte Alleyn (4:25.00).

Girl’s and Boy’s 14 years 100m Breaststroke

The girl’s 14 years 100m breaststroke saw Rebecca Cross add to her national age titles hitting the wall in 1:12.38 to take top spot. Paris Vasta was the nest fastest Australian in 1:13.09 with Mia Bellue claiming bronze in 1:13.42.

Victorian Heath McCleod (1:07.40) was the quickest in the boy’s 100m breaststroke final, stealing the gold from Patrick Walsh (1:07.72) in second place and Nathan Zhu who clocked a 1:08.49 for third.

Girl’s and Boy’s 12/13 years 100m Freestyle

West Australian Claire Coten got the best touch on the wall, claiming victory in the girl’s 12/13 years 100m freestyle in a time of 58.41. Just a touch behind was silver medal winner Minna Atherton in 58.60 with Katie Strachan third in 58.81.

The boy’s 12/13 years 100m freestyle saw Josiah Wells move up into top spot with a time of 54.29, grabbing the gold medal ahead of Donta Boon-Tennent (54.44) and Julian Bulich (55.22).

Girl’s and Boy’s 15 years 400m Individual Medley

Open Water specialist Chelsea Gubecka (4:51.40) proved her potential in the pool with a win in the girl’s 15 years 400m individual medley. Abbey Harkin (4:59.38) picked up the silver medal with Calypso Sheridan (4:59.71) stepping up on to the podium for bronze.

Sydney swimmer Matthew Wilson claimed the gold medal in front of a home crowd in the boy’s 15 years 400m individual medley, stopping the clock at 4:27.42. Jacob Vincent secured the silver in 4:33.36 with Shaun Banzon bagging bronze in 4:35.45.

Girl’s and Boy’s 16 years 200m Breaststroke

Port Macquarie based swimmer Mekayla Everingham (2:38.32) took the gold medal in the girl’s 16 years 200m breaststroke, getting the better of Kate Diamond (2:39.70) in second and Samantha McKenna (2:40.00) third.

West Australian swimmer Alex Milligan was too strong in the boy’s 16 years 200m breaststroke, leaving the rest of the field behind he touched in 2:19.66 to take the win by over three seconds. Second place went to Joshua Simat in 2:23.20 with Samuel Williamson taking third place in 2:24.04.

For full results and information go to


Apr 17 14

Mbalula to meet with Union

by ZwemZa
Fikile Mbalula (Gallo Images)

Fikile Mbalula (Gallo Images)

Trade union Solidarity on Wednesday have welcomed reports that the sports department’s plan for top sporting codes to implement 60-40 quotas favouring black players would be postponed until next year.

Sport minister Fikile Mbalula has called a meeting with Solidarity to discuss its objections, the union said in a statement.

This follows a meeting between Mbalula and representatives of athletics, cricket, football, netball and rugby in Johannesburg on Monday.

“It is encouraging that Mbalula is prepared to meet with Solidarity and other concerned parties about the issue so soon,” said Solidarity spokesman Johan Kruger.

Kruger said through the submission of around 52 000 petitions accompanied by a memorandum, Solidarity would put it to the minister that quotas, be it in the work place or on sports fields, were unacceptable and would be challenged.

“It is clear that public resistance to his announcement paid dividends, forcing the minister to reconsider the implementation of the new quotas and to first obtain input from interested parties,” Kruger said.

“This is a refreshing change in government’s ‘untransparent’ attitude towards affirmative action and its continued reluctance to enter into a meaningful debate on it.”

On April 5, the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and Mbalula announced far-reaching measures to address the lack of transformation and development as indicated by a pilot study on the status of transformation in sport.

The quota system, as instructed in the national Sports Plan of 2011, would be aggressively implemented before the May elections, he said at the time.

Kruger said Mbalula’s announcement of the implementation of the quota system and the urgency accompanying the matter were typical of the African National Congress’ “attempts to divert attention from other major issues such as Nkandla”.

“In its meeting with the minister, Solidarity will point out to the minister that this is in essence a labour issue and that the proposed quota system is in direct contravention of the Employment Equity Act,” the statement read.

Kruger said a comprehensive memorandum with, among others, a legal argument would be handed to the minister for his consideration at next week’s meeting.

“We have already made it clear that the trade union would not hesitate to challenge the matter in the Labour Court or in the Equality Court,” he said.

“We are appealing to sportsmen and women to approach the trade union if they are being or will in future be disadvantaged by quotas.”

Botha said the issue of affirmative action had to be dealt with through a healthy debate and a redesign of the model in its entirety was required.


Apr 16 14

Cook impressive in Sydney

by ZwemZa
Tamsin Cook (swimvortex)

Tamsin Cook (swimvortex)

Fifteen-year-old Tamsin Cook from the West Coast Swim Club in WA came within a fingernail of breaking an Australian Age record held by the great Hayley Lewis, on night three of competition at the Georgina Hope Swimmers Foundation Australian Age Championships in Sydney.

Already a gold medallist at this meet, Cook was less than half a second off the Lewis record from the 1990 Commonwealth Games, but did manage to produce the fastest 400m freestyle on home soil of all-time by 15-year-old.

Twenty-four years ago Lewis won the event at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland in a time of 4:08.89, one of five gold medals for then 15-year-old representing Australia at her first major meet, tonight Cook finished just shy in a time of 4:09.29 – yet still a strong sign for the future.

“It’s just amazing. I’m so happy with that. There were some really great girls in the race and I definitely didn’t discount any of them,” said Cook.

“I couldn’t think about them though. I had to stick to my own race plan because we all work differently and I stuck to what my coach (Mick Palfrey) said. I think he’ll be pretty pleased.”

“I had no idea really what time I was going to go. It was really tough but I’m really, really happy. The last 100m I just pushed myself as hard as I could and just kept reaching for the wall.”

In the boy’s 400m freestyle Jacob Vincent took the title in 3:58.34 ahead of Toby Wilson (4:00.44) and Daniel Jacobson in 4:03.49, while in the girl’s the silver went to Chelsea Gubecka in 4:15.66 and Grace Hull third in 4:19.19.

Eighteen-year-old Queenslander Leah Neale also produced one of the swims of the night to win the women’s 200m freestyle. Winning in a personal best time of 1:58.28, a swim that would have seen her qualify for Commonwealth Games selection at Trials two weeks ago, the Indooroopilly swimmer was too quick for Ami Matsuo (1:59.44) and Yolane Kukla (1:59.49).

Disappointed not to have been able to produce such a swim two weeks ago in Brisbane, but still very happy to have bounced back, Neale said it just gives her plenty of confidence for next year.

“I was so happy with that swim. It feels so great and I’m so happy with that time. I did pretty bad at Trials in that event so I really wanted to come out here and give it a go,” said Neale.

“For the rest of the year, I’d like to make it onto the Australian A team and hopefully get some experience there.”

In the boy’s 200m freestyle, just 0.06 of a second was all that separated Regan Leong and Isaac Jones in a race that came right down to the touch.  The Townsville simmer Leong, who is now based at the National Training Centre in Canberra took the title in 1:48.90 from Jones (1:48.96) and Lachlan McLeish third in 1:51.39.

Matthew Wilson from SOPAC Swim Club opened the night with an Australian age record in the boy’s 15 years 100m breaststroke, winning in a time of 1:03.51.  Wilson shaved nearly a second off the old mark which had stood for 10 years with Zac Stubblety-Cook (1:04.25) and Shaun Banzon (1:05.86)  taking out the silver and bronze medals.

South Australian swimmer Ella Bond followed in the footsteps of training partner Kyle Chalmers to win gold in the 100m breaststroke in 1:09.79.  Bond was too strong for Abbey Harkin from Ravenswood (1:11.77) and Mikayla Smith from Nunawading third in 1:12.00.

Rounding out the records for the night, Chalmers continued his speed session in Sydney this week to become the first 15-year-old Australian to break the 23 second barrier for the 50m freestyle.

Chalmers crashed into the wall in an Australian Age record time of 22.68, with Victorian Caiden Gill second in 23.25 and Benno Negri taking third spot in 23.41. In the girl’s 15 years 50m freestyle, Shayna Jack showed she will be one to watch for the future winning in 25.34 ahead of Hadley Lindsay in 26.18 with Ella Bond third in 26.26.

In other events…

Girl’s and Boy’s 14 years 200m Butterfly
 Laura Taylor from TSS Aquatics in Queensland was the best of the girl’s in the 200m butterfly taking out the national title in 2:16.92 ahead of Sarah Johnson (2:17.82) and Ebony Norris in 2:19.95.  Fellow Queenslander Charles Cox from Nudgee Brothers won the boy’s event in 2:07.28 ahead of Ethan Dorrian (2:07.98) from Dapto NSW and Joshua Kennedy picking up another medal for the meet in 2:08.01.

Girl’s and Boy’s 12/13 years 800m Freestyle
 Melbourne Vicentre swimmer Molly Batchelor was the one to watch in the girl’s 12/13 years 800m freestyle winning in 9:08.16 and taking the title by more than six seconds ahead of Jesse Coplick (9:14.85) and Ariarne Titmus who was third in 9:15.64.

Girl’s and Boy’s 16 years 100m Backstroke
 Amy Forrester from St Peters Western Swim Club took out the girl’s 16 years 100m backstroke in a time of 1:02.28 ahead of Lucy McJannett (1:02.65) and Lizzie Gannon in 1:03.75. In the corresponding boy’s event Nicholas Groenewald picked up his first gold medal of the meet in a time of 56.50 ahead of Tristan Ludlow (57.49) and Clyde Lewis in 57.51.

Girl’s and Boy’s 14 years 100m Freestyle
 Gemma Cooney from East Brisbane Swim Club took out the 14 years 100m freestyle in 57.32 ahead of Emma Hargrave (57.69) and Julia Hawkins in 57.77.  A national champion in the same event last year, Miami swimmer Andrew Ryan made it back-to-back titles to take out the boy’s 100m free in 52.88 ahead of Sam Washington (54.23) and Lucas Anderson a touch behind third in 54.24.

Girl’s and Boy’s 12/13 years 200m Backstroke
 Minna Atherton also made it back-to-back titles in the girl’s 200m backstroke winning in a time of 2:14.54 ahead of Sienna McDonald (2:19.89) and Melina De Cort from Traralgon third in 2:21.38.  In the boy’s event Carlile swimmer Leon MaCalister took the title by more than two seconds winning in 2:11.11 with training partner Nick Jennens (2:13.26) second and Tom Berryman from Port Macquarie third in 2:17.24.

Girl’s and Boy’s 17/18 years 200m Breaststroke
 Georgia Bohl was too strong in the 200m breaststroke winning by more than three seconds in a time of 2:27.77 with Karlene Pircher second in 2:30.99 and Jessica Hansen from Nunawading third overall in 2:31.05.  James McKechnie was equally as dominant in the boy’s 200m breast winning in 2:13.62 ahead of Jake Baggaley (2:16.95) and Grayson Bell (2:17.86).

Girl’s and Boy’s 16 years 400m IM
 The boy’s 400m IM was a cracking race with less than a quarter of a second between first and second after eight laps of medley swimming. Carlile swimmer Callum Sherington took the title in 4:27.09 with Victorian Mitchell Davenport-Wright just a shade behind in 4:27.25 and Theodore Benehoutsos third in 4:28.73. In the girl’s event Alanna Bowles continued her gold medal winning form, taking the title in 4:46.37 ahead of Acacia Wildin-Snedden (4:53.93) and Elianna McMenamin third in 4:59.02.

Boy’s 12/13 years 800m Freestyle 
In the final event of the night Aaron Mansfield from Kawana Waters waited until the last metre of the 800m freestyle to overtake fellow Queenslander Elijah Winnington for the national title. Winning in a time of 8:36.37, just 0.05 of a second separated the pair at the wall, with Mansfield getting the better of Winnington (8:36.42) in the last stroke.  Nick Jennens was third in 8:53.88.


Apr 16 14

Glasgow 2014: Scotland reveal largest aquatics team

by ZwemZa
Robbie Renwick, Hannah Miley and Michael Jamieson are among the Scots medal hopefuls

Robbie Renwick, Hannah Miley and Michael Jamieson are among the Scots medal hopefuls

Team Scotland have named their largest aquatics team in Commonwealth Games history for Glasgow 2014.

Of the 38 swimmers and two divers selected, 28 make their Games debuts.

Among them is 16-year-old diver James Heatly, whose grandfather Sir Peter Heatly won three Commonwealth gold medals, a silver and a bronze.

“There is a strong core of experience and success and I’m excited to see so many new faces,” said Team Scotland chef de mission Jon Doig.

“At this stage, it is the biggest single sport in Team Scotland for 2014.”

Scotland have claimed more medals in the pool than in any other sport in the Commonwealth Games, a total of 73, including 20 golds.

And five of the athletes to make the team for 2014 have stood on the Games podium previously, adding eight medals to Scotland’s tally.

Caitlin McClatchey, double gold medallist from Melbourne 2006, will race in the 200m freestyle, while Robbie Renwick will bid to retain the 200m freestyle title he won in Delhi four years ago.

Hannah Miley will defend her 400m individual medley title on the opening night of action at Tollcross International Swimming Centre on 24 July.

Scotland is statistically the strongest nation in the world in the men’s 100m breaststroke right now, with Ross Murdoch having demonstrated his pedigree by winning the event at the recent Scottish and British championships to go top of the world long-course rankings.

Murdoch set a new Scottish record in the 100m and swam the fastest time in the world this year in the 50m, 27.28, in winning the 50m breaststroke at the Scottish Championships.

Olympic and Commonwealth silver medallist Michael Jamieson will compete in the 100m and 200m breaststroke in Glasgow, having won the 200m title at the Scottish and British Championships in Tollcross.

Scotland’s men’s aquatics team for 2014
Ryan Bennett (4x100m Medley), Craig Benson (100m Breaststroke), Cameron Brodie (200m Butterfly), Martin Cremin (1500m Freestyle), Craig Hamilton (1500m Freestyle), Michael Jamieson (100m & 200m Breaststroke), Rory Lamont (50m Backstroke), Gareth Mills (4x200m Freestyle), Andrew McGovern (50m Backstroke), Kieran McGuckin (4x100m Freestyle), Craig McNally (200m Backstroke, 4x100m Medley), Stephen Milne (400m &1500m Freestyle), Ross Muir (400m Individual Medley), Ross Murdoch (50m, 100m & 200m Breaststroke, 4x100m Medley), Robbie Renwick (200m & 400m Freestyle, 4x100m Freestyle, 4x200m Freestyle, 4x100m Medley) Richard Schafers (50m Freestyle, 4x100m Freestyle), Jak Scott (4x200m Freestyle), Lewis Smith (200m Butterfly, 400m IM), Calum Tait (200m Breaststroke), Jack Thorpe (4x100m Freestyle), Mark Tully (50m Breaststroke), Daniel Wallace (400m Freestyle, 200m & 400m IM, 4x200m Freestyle), Joseph Welstead (50m Breaststroke).

Diving: James Heatly (3m Springboard).

Scotland’s women’s aquatics team for 2014
Katie Armitage (100m Breaststroke), Kathleen Dawson (50m Backstroke, 4x100m Medley), Fiona Donnelly (4x100m Medley), Megan Gilchrist (4x200m Freestyle), Sian Harkin (50m Freestyle, 50m Butterfly, 4x100m Freestyle, 4x100m Medley), Camilla Hattersley (800m Freestyle), Lucy Hope (4x200m Freestyle), Kathryn Johnstone (50m & 100m Breaststroke, 4x100m Medley), Rachel-Louise Masson (4x100m Freestyle), Caitlin McClatchey (200m Freestyle, 4x100m Freestyle, 4x200m Freestyle), Hannah Miley (800m Freestyle, 200m Breaststroke, 200m & 400m IM), Rachel O’Donnell (4x100m Freestyle, 4x200m Freestyle), Corrie Scott (50m &100m Breaststroke), Andrea Strachan (50m Breaststroke), Aisha Thornton (800m Freestyle).

Diving: Grace Reid (1m Springboard).


Apr 16 14

Phelps has nothing to lose in his swimming comeback

by ZwemZa
Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps

We should all be so fortunate to be able to retire at age 27 and embark on an international quest to experience a world full of fun and privilege, but Michael Phelps — quite predictably — has come to realize that living the good life isn’t going to be enough to keep him entertained.

That’s because there is a reason why he spent all those years getting up in the dark to swim all those endless laps. There’s a reason why he is the greatest swimmer in history and the most decorated Olympian of all time. And it is not because he was driven toward wealth and fame and all the perks that come with being a jet-set athlete.

He certainly used all that as the carrot on the stick as he was grinding through his last Olympic cycle. He wanted to play golf and go to Vegas and sit down with the sharks at the World Series of Poker. Who wouldn’t? Well, now he’s played a ton of golf and figured out that he’s not going to make it to the Masters. He has seen his share of river cards in Texas hold-em. He is set up for life with a large variety of commercial endorsement deals. He’s got his hometown swim complex and is in a good place with his personal life.

And it’s not enough.

Maybe this is presumptuous, but here goes anyway: Phelps has gotten the itch to swim again for some very basic reasons — first and foremost the fact that he is a fierce competitor who has spent much of his life competing at the highest possible level. He traded all those brutal mornings in the pool for the kind of adrenaline rush that the average human can not even imagine. If he didn’t miss that, he wouldn’t be superhuman.

It was clear during an appearance at the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona last July that Phelps already missed the camaraderie and competition, which prompted speculation that he would not stay retired for long. And, who among us would want to walk away from the sheer coolness of being Michael Phelps.

The real question is not whether he should attempt a comeback and try to make a run at the 2016 Rio Olympics. That’s entirely up to him. He has more than earned the right to climb back on the Olympic stage if he can prove to himself and the swimming world that he still has what it takes to add to his unmatched career medal count. The real question is what happens to his legacy if he falls far short of what may be some unrealistic expectations.

The answer, of course, is nothing.

Phelps will still be the greatest swimmer in history if he goes to the Arena Grand Prix in Mesa, Ariz., next week and falls off the blocks.
Concern that his legacy might be damaged by a pedestrian performance flies against both history and logic. There have been plenty of instances where the greatest of the greats have stayed at the party too long, but whatever disappointment that has generated among their fans and the sports historians has dissipated relatively quickly.

Muhammad Ali certainly should have stopped fighting long before he did, but he is more universally revered now than when he was in his prime. Michael Jordan made a triumphant comeback with the Chicago Bulls after announcing a premature retirement to pursue a baseball career, then made a less-triumphant one at 39 with the Washington Wizards, but he’s still considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time.

Phelps knows that he isn’t 22 years old, and he is adjusting his training and event schedule accordingly. It’s pretty obvious that he still needs swimming, and it’s equally apparent that swimming still needs him, so there really isn’t a downside.

He has excelled in one of those rare professions where you’re considered old at 28, but it would be foolish to discount his chances of returning to the Olympics or climbing back onto the medal stand.

It is times like these that recall the day a 40-year-old Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in a game against the Kansas City Royals in 1986.

After the game, somebody asked venerable manager Gene Mauch if he was surprised to see such a tremendous feat from a legendary player who was so far on the other side of the hill.

“I’m never surprised,” Mauch said, “when special people do special things.”

Peter Schmuck | Baltimore Sun

Apr 16 14

Kyle takes half a second off Thorpe record

by ZwemZa
 Kyle Chalmers gets ready to swim in the heats of the 100m freestyle at the Australian championships. Source: News Corp Australia

Kyle Chalmers gets ready to swim in the heats of the 100m freestyle at the Australian championships. Source: News Corp Australia

South Australian Kyle Chalmers is not only the fastest 15 year old 100m freestyle swimmer in Australia at the moment, but he just happens to be faster than the great Ian Thorpe at the same age, and the fastest of all-time.

Winning his first gold medal of the meet at the 2014 Georgina Hope Swimmers Foundation Australian Age Championships in Sydney tonight, Chalmers broke Thorpe’s long standing age group mark in the heats this morning, before dropping a further 0.4 of a second in the final tonight.

Taking out the boy’s 15 years 100m freestyle in an impressive 49.68, a time which would have placed him seventh at Trials, and a time that was more than half a second quicker than Thorpe’s 50.21 record set in 1998, Chalmers said he felt good ahead of tonight’s race.

“I guess I was hoping to break it tonight (Thorpe’s record), but to do it this morning was just a bonus,” said Chalmers.

“So to break it twice in one day, I’m pretty happy with that.”

Coming into the event with a broken finger, a result of an injury sustained at footy training on Thursday night, the Marion product continues to balance his AFL ambitions with the Sherrin, with those of swimming for Australia at the elite level.

Setting four age group records in 2013 and winning five gold medals, Chalmers is well on track for another big haul this week and potential selection onto the Youth Olympic Team for China later this year.

“I actually broke my finger on Thursday night, and I was bit stressed on Thursday and Friday, but other than that I felt pretty good coming into it to the meet,” said Chalmers.

“It was great to win a medal at Trials (silver in the 50m fly) and I was pretty happy with how I swam the race tonight, it was pretty controlled.”

Chalmers was almost two seconds quicker than the rest of the field with Benno Negri taking silver in 51.41 and Matthew Wilson third in 51.67.

In the girl’s 100m freestyle  World Juniors representative Shayna Jack was too strong winning in 55.20 ahead of West Australian Tamsin Cook (56.51) and Vivian Zhu third in 57.07.

In other events…

Girl’s and Boy’s 16 years 400m Freestyle 
Alanna Bowles picked up her second gold medal of the meet taking out the 400m freestyle in a time of 4:12.98.  The 16-year-old who will head to Glasgow this year on her first Australian Swim Team was too quick for West Australian Sacha Downing (4:14.36) and Queenslander Moesha Johnson (4:15.39). Western Australian Damian Fyfe backed up for his second gold to win the boy’s 400m free in 3:54.82 ahead of Mitchell Davenport-Wright (3:56.45) and Max Carleton (3:56.79).

Girl’s and Boy’s 14 years 200m Backstroke 
Connie McClelland from MLC Aquatic was the best of the Aussies in the women’s 200m backstroke winning the title in 2:21.76, with Kayla Hoey form St Peters Western second in 2:21.89 and Ellodie Reid picking up the bronze in 2:21.90, just 0.01 of a second off silver.  The boy’s event was equally close for silver and bronze, with Joshua Kennedy making it a MLC Aquatic double taking the gold in 2:08.89, ahead of Zachary Attard (2:11.23) and Jacob Desmond (2:11.53).

Girl’s and Boy’s 12/13 years 200m IM
 Palm Beach Currumbin swimmer Elijah Winnington picked up his second gold medal of the meet winning the boy’s 200m IM in a time of 2:13.98. Having set a new Australian record in the 200m free last night, the 13-year-old coached by Richard Scarce showed his versatility with Nick Jennens the second Aussie to the wall in 2:16.46 and Raife Sillence from WA third in 2:17.42.  The girl’s 200m IM saw Minna Atherton from Brisbane Grammar take the title in 2:21.41 ahead of Megan Bogatie (2:21.61) and Emma Siddle third in 2:26.09.

Girl’s and Boy’s 17/18 years 100m Backstroke
 Eighteen –year-old William Stockwell, the son of 1984 Olympian and medallist Mark Stockwell, was too quick in the boy’s 100m backstroke winning in a time of 56.58.  Stockwell had to work hard to hold off a fast finishing Peter Mills second in 56.76 with Douglas Oliver picking up the bronze in 57.16. In the corresponding girl’s event Lauren Rettie from Nudgee Brothers won gold in 1:03.72 ahead of Zoe Williams (1:04.05) and Caitlyn Richardson in 1:04.11.

Girl’s and Boy’s 16 year 50m Freestyle
It was all gold for NSW in the 16 years 50m freestyle with Bayside swimmer Lucy McJannett taking out the girls event in 25.55 and Vincent Dai from Cherrybrook Carlile the boy’s in 23.09.  Silver and bronze medals went to Emily Waddington (25.71), Lizzie Gannon (25.82), Brayden McCarthy (23.70) and Braga Verhage (23.72) respectively.

Girl’s and Boy’s 15 years 200m Butterfly
 West Coast swimmer Tamsin Cook continued a good night for WA winning the 200m butterfly in 2:12.61 ahead of Chelsea Gubecka in 2:14.93, with Shanella Gee and Brittany Barnes dead heating for bronze in 2:17.70. Queenslander Cameron Usher was the best of the boy’s over the four laps of fly winning in a time of 2:04.35 ahead Bowen Gough (2:05.17) and Bryan Poon third in 2:06.29.

Boy’s 1500m Freestyle 
Queenslander Jack Brazier took out the boy’s 14 years 1500m freestyle in a time of 16:05.52 ahead of Nathan Robinson (16:15.26) and Kyle Kiehne who was third in 16:18.67.

Girl’s and Boy’s 12/13 years 100m Butterfly 
Megan Bogatie was back in the water for the girl’s 12/13 years 100m fly adding gold to her silver medal from earlier in the night winning in a time of 1:03.98.  The Queenslander was almost a second quicker than Rachael Robinson from Campbelltown in NSW (1:04.93) with Sienna White third in 1:04.95. Dante Negri from MLC Aquatic was the best of the boy’s butterfly swimmers and the only athlete under a minute in 58.55 with Eilijah Winnington backing up from his 200m IM to take silver in 1:00.50 and Josiah Wells third in 1:01.20.

Girl’s 17/18 years 400m IM
 Tianni Gilmour was the best of the medley swimmers winning in 4:47.84 from Meg Bailey at Hunter (4:50.08) and Brianna Throssell third in 4:52.89.  In the corresponding boys event Hayden Hinds-Sydenham was too strong to win in 4:24.82 ahead of Jake Baggaley from Trinity Grammar second in 4:27.91, with Joachim Bardrum third overall in 4:29.19.

Girl’s and Boy’s 16 years 100m Breaststroke
 Samantha McKenna was the best of the girl’s breaststroke swimmers winning the title in 1:13.24 ahead of Mekayla Everingham (1:14.06) and Kate Diamond who was third in 1:14.19.  West Australian Alex Milligan took out the boy’s 100m breast in 1:04.40 with Joshua Simat second in 1:05.27 and Nicholas Gronenewald third overall in 1:06.22.

Girl’s 14 years 800m Freestyle 
The final event of the night saw Laura Taylor from TSS Aquatics take gold in 8:53.61 ahead of training partner Elly Wikaire (9:00.36) and Ellodie Reid from Traralgon in 9:07.20.



Apr 16 14

Phelps is back, and at his age, why not?

by ZwemZa
 Michael Phelps won the men’s 100-meter butterfly at the 2012 London Games for one of the 18 Olympic gold medals he has earned. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

Michael Phelps won the men’s 100-meter butterfly at the 2012 London Games for one of the 18 Olympic gold medals he has earned. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

Despite vows to the contrary, Michael Phelps, the most prolific medal winner in Olympic history, will return to competitive swimming after all.

His widely anticipated comeback is set to take place at the Arena Grand Prix from April 24 to 26 in Mesa, Ariz., a move which should make things more frenetic at work for the meet director Erin Shields but should also make life easier at home.

“I have a 6-year-old son who swims who has never quite understood why Michael Phelps would retire when he’s the same age as his mom,” Shields said Monday by telephone.

Shields is 30. Phelps won’t turn 29 until June, but her son Connor’s point is still well taken.

In a sports world where other great athletes are excelling at far more advanced ages, who is to begrudge Phelps, undeniably the greatest swimmer ever, from taking another plunge?

If Roger Federer can play on quite respectably at age 32, why can’t Phelps head to a fifth Olympics at age 31 and try to add a medal or two (or more) to his uniquely large collection of 22, including 18 gold?

It should be and is totally up to Phelps whether he wants to risk further denting his aura of invincibility. He has tried golf and failed (so far) to make Tiger Woods or Bubba Watson nervous. He presumably has had downtime and free time aplenty.

In the pool, he has very little, if anything, left to prove, which might not be best in a sport where the training is arduous and repetitive enough to require extreme motivation.

What is clear is that any swimming race is still much more interesting with him in it, and the surprise, considering the banality of sporting and swimming comebacks at this stage, is that Phelps ever bothered to retire officially in the first place no matter how much he thought he meant it.

“Michael’s younger than LeBron James; are we telling LeBron James that he should stop because he’s won two N.B.A. titles?” said Rowdy Gaines, the former Olympic swimming champion who will do television commentary for Universal Sports in Mesa later this month. “Michael’s 9 or 10 years younger than Peyton Manning, and then you have a guy like Manny Pacquiao who I just saw fight this weekend. He’s 35, and he’s getting beat up. It’s not like Michael is getting beat up. He’s still near his prime.

“Now is he going to go out and win eight gold medals? No. Is he going to go out and win five or six? Probably not. But he can still make an impact on the sport. Whatever he swims, he’s the guy to beat and that says a lot.”

For now, it remains unclear whether Phelps will swim at the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 (or whether the Brazilians will even finish the pool on time).

Bob Bowman, Phelps’s longtime coach, is calling this month’s race in Mesa a soft comeback and making no promises about the future. Phelps is expected to swim at least the 50 and 100 freestyle and the 100 butterfly in Mesa. The shorter distances seem his way forward, with the 200 fly and the 200 free certainly still in his wheelhouse. But if Phelps struggles by his standards or finds that something elemental is missing, it is certainly possible that he will beat a quick retreat.

Swimming has provided plenty of cautionary comeback tales in recent years, few more dissuasive than that of Ian Thorpe, Phelps’s onetime freestyle rival, who tried and failed to make the Australian Olympic team for the 2012 Olympics in London and has since struggled with a series of personal and health problems.

But Thorpe, 31, spent nearly five years away from competition before making his return before London. Phelps has not yet been away from racing for two years and resumed swimming on a regular basis last year in Baltimore even if it was not yet clear then that he would resume competing.

“Of course it was tough coming back for Ian, but I think Michael is a different story,” Pieter van den Hoogenband, the Dutch champion and another one of Phelps’s former rivals, said Monday in a telephone interview. “When I talked to Michael in Barcelona last summer during the world championships, I could feel he was still so passionate and still so into the world of swimming, and I think he still has the mind-set and the body and a very good team of coaches and colleagues around him. So they will help him to get himself into good shape, and he’s still I think fast enough and young enough — that’s very important — to win a couple of Olympic medals in Rio.”

Gaines also saw Phelps in Barcelona, where he paid a visit to the NBC commentary booth during the 400 freestyle relay, in which the United States finished second behind France.

“I was reading his body language and hearing his salty language,” Gaines said. “He wasn’t singling out anybody for criticism, but he was saying, ‘I could have done that right now without even training.’ He was in the booth swimming the race with those guys, and he was genuinely ticked off, and I think he feels like he can help, especially when it comes to the relays.”

What helps is that Phelps has had a good long look at what else life has to offer a superstar still very much in the prime of life. What also presumably helps is that he still has Bowman in his corner and has had a long look in training at the young Frenchman Yannick Agnel, another remarkable swimming polymath who is training under Bowman at Meadowbrook Aquatic Center.

“So Michael knows exactly what is the benchmark nowadays in swimming,” Van den Hoogenband said. “If he is not good enough during the training sessions with Yannick, he knows O.K., ‘Now, my time is over, and I have to step aside and make way for the next generation.’ But if he can train with Yannick and he is still at the same level, he’ll be able with his mentality and talent to win even the Olympic gold.”

Much can of course happen on the straight lanes and winding roads to Rio, but truly, who wouldn’t prefer to watch a swimming race with Phelps in it rather than him watching it — frustrated — from a commentary booth?

Erin Shields certainly knows what Connor prefers.

“It’s really exciting,” she said, “to know my son will get a chance to see him in action.”


Apr 16 14

Third title for Pavoni to close 2014 British Champs

by ZwemZa
Roberto Pavoni

Roberto Pavoni

Roberto Pavoni took his third British title and Lauren Quigley broke the English 50m Backstroke Record on the final day of the 2014 British Gas Swimming Championships in Glasgow.

There was great support for the British Gas National Centre Loughborough swimmer as Pavoni looked to secure his third gold having already won the 200m Butterfly and 400m Individual Medley titles.

And the defending champion did not disappoint as he led the field to finish in 1:59.08.

A delighted Pavoni said: “Coming into this meet the first aim was to make the qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games and the second was to win as many medals as possible. I’ve retained my titles in both the Individual Medleys and added the 200m Fly so I’m really happy.”

Joseph Roebuck (British Gas National Centre Bath) took silver with 2:00.31, just ahead of Lewis Coleman (City of Sheffield) who finished in 2:00.50.

In the 50m Backstroke Stockport Metro’s Quigley took her second British title of the meet and set an English Record with a time of 27.90.
Going into the final Quigley and defending champion Georgia Davies (British Gas National Centre Loughborough) were separated by 0.01 seconds as they won their respective heats.

The final proved just as competitive as Davies fought back after a great start from Davies to finish 0.09 seconds behind in silver (27.99).
Davies’ National Sprint Squad teammate Francesca Halsall finished in a personal best 28.04 to take her fifth medal of the Championships.

Quigley said: “It was a great final and a great way to finish the meet. I’m really pleased with my performances and will now look towards the summer.”

Welsh record holder Jazz Carlin finished just outside her personal best to take gold in the 400m Freestyle.

Having won the 800m Freestyle title yesterday, the Swansea University athlete had great pace, pulling away after 200m to finish in 4:04.68.
Carlin said: “It was tough after the 800m yesterday but it was one of the quickest times I’ve done so I’m happy with the performance.
“It was difficult to know how fast I would go as I hadn’t had much rest in the last 24 hours so I’m really pleased with the result.”

Middlesbrough’s Aimee Willmott took her fourth medal of the week finishing second in a personal best 4:08.98, with City of Sheffield’s Ellie Faulkner in bronze with 4:09.69.

Olympic and World Championship finalist Dan Fogg (British Gas National Centre Loughborough) took his third consecutive British 1500m Freestyle title with a 14.59.86 swim in the final.

Fogg said: “My target coming into this event was to swim a PB. After my 400m went well at the beginning of the week it was looking good, so I’m a bit disappointed with my time. But hopefully I’ve done enough to represent England in the Commonwealth Games and so will spend the next few months trying to get nearer the 14:50.00 mark.”

British Gas National Centre Bath’s Jay Lelliott posted a personal best 15:12.70 to take silver. Fogg’s Loughborough team mate Jack Burnell also lowered his PB, finishing in 15:14.64 for bronze.

Hatfield’s Adam Brown took his fifth British 50m Freestyle title finishing just ahead of defending silver medallist Ben Proud (Plymouth Leander).

Having already won the 100 Free, Brown took the gold in 22.27 with Proud finishing in 22.31 to take silver. Edinburgh University’s Richard Schafers swam just outside his PB to take bronze with 22.65.

Brown said: “It was a good race and I knew it was going to come down to the finish. But I got the win and hopefully have made the Commonwealth Games team.”

In the SM10 200m Individual Medley, four-time IPC World champion Amy Marren (Romford Town) sprinted away from the field to take gold in 2:34.64.

Although just outside the English nomination time, the 15-year old was happy with her swim. She said: “I was a bit nervous in the heats this morning as this was my only race of the event, so I’m pleased to have taken almost two seconds off my time in the finals.

“My main focus this year is qualifying for the IPC European Championships at the trials this weekend so I’m looking forward to that.”

Tully Kearney (Boldmere) took silver in 2:38.30, just ahead of Eleni Papadopoulos (City of Manchester Aquatics) in 2:39.59. Twelve-year old Coral Farrell (Warrington Warriors) swam a personal best to finish in 3:11.44.

In the last race of the competition Daniel Jervis (Swansea University) set a 1500m Freestyle British 17 Years Age Group Record and finished below the Welsh selection standard as he sliced 29 seconds off his personal best to win the junior British title in 15.16.46.

Click here for full results from the British Gas Swimming Championships 2014 in Glasgow.

Apr 15 14

Can Michael Phelps excel in comeback?

by ZwemZa
Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps is slated to return to competition next week for the first time in nearly two years will, of course, be at least slightly different from the Phelps who won six medals at his last meet, the 2012 Olympics.

He turns 29 on June 30. Phelps has been training, lightly by his standards, for much of the last year, but who knows what his form will be when he dives in at the Mesa Grand Prix in Arizona next weekend.

Or how long it will take the 22-time Olympic medalist to reach a satisfactory level to continue competing with an eye on the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Those would be his fifth Games, the same number as Dara Torres, whom Phelps called “mom” at his first Olympics in 2000. He was 15. She was 33.

“We have discussed a long-term plan in general terms, but until he swims in a meet we’re not going to know,” Phelps’ longtime coach, Bob Bowman, told the Chicago Tribune on Monday. “Will he be eighth? Second? Sixteenth?

“I think he certainly won’t be embarrassed swimming in [Mesa], and I think he will be competitive.  The difference is he is doing half the training he used to.”

Doubters can bring up Ian Thorpe, the man whom Phelps usurped as the world’s greatest swimmer a decade ago. The Australian emerged from a four-year retirement in 2011 and flopped, failing to make the 2012 Olympic Team.

Thorpe, like Phelps, was 28 when he came back, but he had barely competed since the 2004 Olympics. This is a vastly different scenario.

“If [Phelps] decides to go for Rio, he will definitely win more medals,” NBC Olympics swimming analyst Rowdy Gaines said on “TODAY” on Tuesday. “There’s no question in my mind. He will win a lot more medals.”

Phelps is expected to swim short distances, at least at the outset, in this go-round — the 50m and 100m freestyles and the 100m butterfly, perhaps, in Mesa. The 200m free could also be in play later if speculating about the Olympics, given it’s a relay distance.

The prospect of adding to his record Olympic medal count is twofold. The U.S. has won a medal in every men’s relay since the boycotted 1980 Moscow Games. Generally, the top six in the 100m free and the 200m free at the U.S. Olympic Trials make those respective relays.

Individually, it’s tougher. The U.S. has been improving in the sprint freestyle events, and shorter distances are trickier to predict.

Nathan Adrian, 25, is the reigning Olympic champion and world bronze medalist in the 100m free. Jimmy Feigen, 24, won 100m free silver at the 2013 World Championships. Cullen Jones and Anthony Ervin are also contenders, though both are older than Phelps. Internationally, France, Brazil and Australia pose threats.

Phelps won three straight Olympic titles in the 100m butterfly, an event with a less crowded field of Americans. Ryan Lochte was the only U.S. man to make the 100m fly final at the 2013 World Championships, but he has little history of swimming it at major meets.

The 100m fly king in Phelps’ absence has been South Africa’s Chad le Clos, who is merely 22. Le Clos won the 2013 world title in a national record 51.06, bettering Phelps’ 51.21 from the 2012 Olympics.

In Phelps’ corner is a Frenchman. Olympic 200m freestyle champion Yannick Agnel has been training in Baltimore and under Bowman since last year.

“So Michael knows exactly what is the benchmark nowadays in swimming,” Dutch legend Pieter Van den Hoogenband told The New York Times. “If he is not good enough during the training sessions with Yannick, he knows OK, ‘Now, my time is over, and I have to step aside and make way for the next generation.’ But if he can train with Yannick and he is still at the same level, he’ll be able with his mentality and talent to win even the Olympic gold.”

Nick Zaccardi | NBC

Apr 15 14

Mbalula: Media a bunch of losers

by ZwemZa
Fikile Mbalula (Lefty Shivambu)

Fikile Mbalula (Lefty Shivambu)

Sports minister Fikile Mbalula has lashed out at the media for criticising the government’s proposed quota plan in South African sport.

Mbalula recently threatened to withdraw South Africa’s national teams from competing internationally when he said athletics, cricket, football, netball and rugby are falling behind with transformation and development.

He wants to see 60% black representation in teams and warned of harsh punishment if there was any form of resistance to these measures.

If any resistance was met, Mbalula said, government could withdraw funding to bodies that fail to comply, withdraw national colours to federations holding back, rule that utilising bidding and hosting regulations to be illegal, de-register any body which fails to transform and bar sponsorship to anyone hostile to transformation.

After a meeting was held on Monday, the plans appear to be on ice for at least another year, but the minister still lashed out at the media for widely criticising the government’s plans.

“So far the media has been very sensational about the whole issue. They are a bunch of losers,” Mbalula told the Beeld website.


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