After emerging as a dominant force at last year’s Paralympic Games in Rio, Australia’s Para swimmers will head off to the 2017 World Para Swimming Championships in Mexico this week.
A team of 18 swimmers – including 17 members of the Rio team – will spend three days in a Dallas, Texas training camp before heading to Mexico City for the seven-day meet, from September 30 to October 6.
Swimming Australia’s Paralympic Program Manager and Team Leader Adam Pine said the Dallas stop-over would allow the team to adapt to the time change.
“The team will still stay three nights in Dallas to allow us to adapt to the time change and recover from the long-haul flight,” Pine said.
“In Dallas we will have access to two pools but the majority of our training will be in a 25 yard pool. This will allow us to focus on our swimming and skills and not focus on times as we recover and adapt.
“From Dallas we will then travel to Mexico City on the afternoon of September 24. We will have competition venue access to the Francisco Marquez Olympic Swimming Pool on the morning of September 25 and five clear days to acclimatise and prepare for competition to begin.”
The team will include six Rio gold medallists Rachael Watson, Lakeisha Patterson, Ellie Cole, Timothy Disken, Tiffany Thomas Kane and Brenden Hall, from a team that thrilled Australia with its gold medal feats in Rio.
Queensland based, Patterson grabbed a six-medal haul in Rio, winning two gold, three silver and one bronze medal.
The individual gold in the 400m freestyle produced a new world record of 4:40.33 (by 0.11) and came on the first night of competition and was Australia’s first 2016 Paralympic swimming gold.
She has continued on her good form from the Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Championships in April with an impressive five gold medals at the Para World Series event in Indianapolis in June, picking up five gold medals.
Patterson won the 100 and 400m freestyle, the 100m backstroke, 200m individual medley and the 100m butterfly, and finished second in the 100m breaststroke, signalling a strong start to her Mexico preparations.
Fellow Paralympians Blake Cochrane, Braedan Jason and Logan Powell all picked up four golds each from the meet with Australia taking a total of 33 top place finishes.
The young team set the standard for the season so far; with 63 per cent of performances faster than at the Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Championships in April and 82 per cent of performances faster from heats to finals.
The one new comer for Mexico will be 12-year-old Jasmine Greenwood from the Bay and Basin Club in Jervis Bay – a member of the Illawarra Academy of Sport who claimed silver in the Australian Open Championships in the 100m breaststroke to qualify for th team before her five gold medals at the Australian Age Championships.
”It was my first time at the competition and my first medal so it was really special,” she told the Illawarra Academy of Sport.
The inspirational 12-year-old has overcome her fair share of hurdles, having come within hours of potentially losing her life at just age six.
She contracted Toxic Shock Syndrome due to the release of poisonous substances within her body from undiagnosed appendicitis.
Greenwood and her family spent months in and out of Sydney Hospitals, as Jasmine learned to walk again, and swimming became a core part of her rehabilitation.
The Sussex inlet swimmer is now preparing her biggest triumph at the Mexico World Championships and rubbing shoulders with some of the best swimmers in the world.
Greenwood couldn’t hold back her excitement at the news she had made the team saying: “I am so excited to be competing against the country’s and worlds best swimmers in a dream come true and I just can’t wait to get over there and give it my best.”