The Australian Dolphins have set themselves up well to remain on top of the medal tally at the Pan Pacific Para Swimming Championships in Cairns, with multiple Australians qualifying first in their heats ahead of the final night of competition.
Taree teenager Paige Leonhardt, cemented herself as a true up and comer of the Dolphins swim team after winning her first international medal at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year.
Qualifying as the second fastest for tonight’s final of the 100m butterfly S10 in a time of 1.08.33, Leonhardt believes she has a lot more to give not just tonight, but in the next two years ahead of Tokyo.
“That was a solid heat time. That was 2 seconds off my personal best time and one second better than trials, so I’m really happy to put a decent time on the board in this morning’s heat and hopefully I can come back faster in tonight’s final,” she said.
“I’ve been really happy with my performances in my other races, especially in my 100 free. I went 1.02.99, which is almost a full second off my personal best time, and I’m really happy with that because Rob (Van der Zant) and I, we’ve been trying to focus on different strokes.”
“My main stroke is the fly and the breaststroke, and I want to be more than that. I want to be an all-rounder and I think it’s coming into shape and I’m perfecting my race plan a lot better and I’m really happy with how this week has gone so far.”
Fellow Dolphin Monique Murphy and Jasmine Greenwood will join Leonhardt in the final, having swum 1:10.26 and 1:10.65 respectively.
In the men’s 50m freestyle S7, 20-year-old Rohan Bright is looking forward to tonight’s final after touching the wall first in a time of 30.89.
Bright has excelled in his swimming, achieving multiple personal best times throughout the meet and says he’s enjoying the racing in Cairns.
“It’s been great. The start of the comp wasn’t the greatest for me. I PB’d in the 100 breaststroke but the final didn’t go as planned. I PB’d in the 200 IM and got the silver which I was really stoked with and since then I’ve been performing better and better,” said Bright.
“The idea for me coming to this meet was to get as much international racing experience as possible and you know, being able to do that at home as well. I’m looking forward to the next two years.”
In other results this morning, veteran of the Australian Para-swimming team Ellie Cole qualified first in the 50m freestyle S9 in 30.80 – just two seconds off her personal best, and in front of fellow Dolphin Ashleigh McConnell who finished third fastest in her heat.
The S10 event is set to be a thriller tonight with three Australians, Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Katherine Downie, Jasmine Greenwood and Dolphins rookie Keira Stephens set to race in the final.
Finals action will start at 5.00pm tonight at the Tobruk Memorial Pool in Cairns with all the action live at www.swimming.org.au