The Australian Dolphins have started the Pan Pacific Para Swimming Championships in Cairns with an impressive 13 gold medals on the opening night of competition at the Tobruk Memorial Pool.
With world records falling to Rebecca Meyers from Team USA and Canadian Aurelie Rivard, the Aussies showed their dominance across multiple classes, including a number of personal best performances to open the five-day meet.
For Cairns local Grant Patterson, who had the honour of reading the athlete’s oath at the Opening Ceremony, gold in the men’s 200m freestyle S3 was a career highlight, as well as linking up with Ashley McConnell, Rachael Watson and Ahmed Kelly to take silver in the 20-point relay behind Brazil.
“This means a lot to me,” said the 29-year-old Patterson.
“I’ve been around for about 11 years now, training up and down this black line with my coach ‘Herbie’ and putting in a lot of hard work, so it means a lot to come out here and swim some good times in front of the home crowd.”
“And to have my family and friends in the crowd as well is great fun,” said Patterson.
If the collective Dolphins team effort was the standout on night one, then the individual swim of the night for the Aussies would have to go to four-time Paralympic veteran Matt Levy.
Fresh from a personal best swim in the heats this morning, the 31-year-old showed true class to back it up for another two second PB tonight, and show that age is no barrier with a clear shot a five Paralympic Games less than two years away.
“I’ve trained really hard and you go to these competitions to do PBs and compete hard against the rest of the world, but I was hoping to do well and I did that tonight,” said Levy.
“You do the sport because you love it and I do it to improve every day. To improve myself, no matter who I swim against and it’s fantastic that I’m still enjoying it at the age of 31.”
“I went to my first Paralympic Games in 2004 as a 16-year-old so it would be great to round out my career with five Games at Tokyo in 2020.”
If Levy is to make the team for 2020, he’s likely to be joined by some of the Aussie young guns on show here in Cairns, with SB9 swimmers Paige Leonhardt and Keira Stephens showing they are certainly ones to watch for the future.
Seventeen-year-old Leonhardt took gold in the women’s 100m breaststroke SB8, winning in a time of 1.19.27 ahead of 15-year-old Stephens (1.21.85) and fellow Aussie Madeleine Scott rounding out an all Aussie trifecta with bronze in 1.24.57.
With 13 gold and 28 medals in total, the Dolphins will be keen to maintain the momentum on Day 2 in Cairns with tomorrow’s heats starting from 10am at the Tobruk Memorial Pool and Finals from 5.00pm
In other events tonight…
Lakeisha Patterson swam a personal best time of 4.39.23 in the final of the Women’s S8 400m freestyle to win the first gold medal of the night for the Australian Dolphins, with Ellie Cole also adding her first gold in the S9 400m freestyle finishing in 4.50.28.
The women’s 400m S10 Freestyle saw the first world record of the meet with Canadian Aurelie Rivard hitting the wall in a record time of 4.29.87 ahead of Australia’s Monique Murphy in 4.36.44 and 13-year-old Dolphin Jasmine Greenwood taking bronze in 4.49.86, while in the S13 classification, 16-year-old Dolphin Katja Dedekind won silver in a time of 4.49.10
Dual Paralympic gold medallist Brenden Hall was too strong for teammate Logan Powell in the final of the men’s 400m S9 Freestyle winning in a time of 4.16.74, while Powell finished in silver in a time of 4.26.62.
The men’s S10 final saw 20-year-old Rowan Crothers power home for another gold to the host nation, hitting the wall in an impressive 4.09.92 with Dolphins’ teammate Guy Harrison-Murray taking the bronze in 4.13.40.
The final of the men’s 200m freestyle S14 saw three Dolphins battle it out with 19-year-old Liam Schluter taking the gold in a personal best time of 1.56.75 ahead of dual Paralympian Daniel Fox finishing for silver in 1.57.85 and Japanese swimmer Keichi Nakajima taking the bronze. Aussie Mitchell Kilduff finished fifth overall in a time of 2.02.92.
Tiffany Thomas-Kane celebrated her 17th birthday with silver in the women’s 100m breaststroke SB7, in a personal best time of 1.33.28, while Dolphins rookie Jaime-Lee Getson also took silver in the SB14 100m breaststroke in 1.26.30.
Former world record holder and triple Paralympian Blake Cochrane won Australia’s eleventh gold medal of the night in the men’s 100m breaststroke SB7 with a time of 1.18.02 ahead of Rohan Bright in 1.25.07.
Tim ‘Disco’ Disken chopped two seconds off his heat time to win the men’s 100m breaststroke SB8 with a new PB, hitting the wall in a solid 1.11.91 for gold, ahead of Dolphins teammate Timothy Hodge in 1.15.58.
Rick Pendleton and Liam Bekric rounded out the individual gold medals for the Dolphins with solid performances in the SB9 and SB13 100m breaststroke respectively. Pendleton raced Brazilian Ruan Souza all the way to the wall to win in a time of 1.09.93 while 17-year-old Bekric finished his two laps in 1.09.41.
Australian Dolphins Medallists – Day 1
Lakeisha Patterson – Gold – 400m Freestyle S8
Ellie Cole – Gold – 400m Freestyle S9
Matt Levy – Gold – 400m Freestyle S7
Brenden Hall – Gold – 400m Freestyle S9
Rowan Crothers – Gold 400m Freestyle S10
Braedan Jason – Gold – 400m Freestyle S13
Grant Patterson – Gold – 200m Freestyle S3
Liam Schulter – Gold – 200m Freestyle S14
Paige Leonhardt – Gold – 100m Breaststroke SB9
Blake Cochrane – Gold – 100m Breaststroke SB7
Timothy Disken – Gold – 100m Breaststroke SB8
Rick Pendleton – Gold – 100m Breaststroke SB9
Liam Bekric – Gold – 100m Breaststroke SB13
Monique Murphy – Silver – 400m Freestyle S10
Katja Dedekind – Silver – 400m Freestyle S13
Logan Powell – Silver – 400m Freestyle S9
Jacob Templeton – Silver - 400m Freestyle S13
Daniel Fox – Silver - 200m Freestyle S14
Tiffany Thomas-Kane – Silver – 100m Freestyle SB7
Keira Stephens – Silver – 100m Breaststroke SB9
Jaime-Lee Getson – Silver – 100m Breaststroke SB14
Rohan Bright – Silver – 100m Breaststroke SB7
Timothy Hodge – Silver – 100m Breaststroke SB8
20-point Relay – Silver – Rachael Watson, Ahmed Kelly, Ashley McConnell, Grant Patterson
Bronze - 4
Jesse Aungles - Bronze – 400m Freestyle S8
Jasmine Greenwood – Bronze – 400m Freestyle S10
Guy Harrison Murray – Bronze – 400m Freestyle S10
Madeleine Scott – Bronze – 100m Breaststroke SB9