Australia’s swimmers delivered a perfect score on night one of the 2016 Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide tonight – producing six out of six qualifiers for the Rio Games.
The swim of the night came with the "Mack attack" in the 400m freestyle when 19-year-old Mack Horton from Melbourne Vicentre secured not only a gold medal but his ticket to Rio and his first Olympic Games, after going so close four years ago, clocking the fastest time in the world this year in a personal best time of 3:41.65.
“I’m happy with that, and happy to be on the team, but I still want to go faster,” said Horton, who was diagnosed with a microscopic parasite bug after returning from the World Championships last year.
“To be in medal contention last year and for it to all go wrong – it is great to be back in medal contention and prove that I can be there. I am really looking forward to it.”
With Olympian father Ron and family cheering him on, David McKeon (Chandler, QLD) booked his ticket to his second Games, placing second in a time of 3:45.09. McKeon’s teammate Jack McLoughlin swam 3:46.27 to place third – swimming his second personal best time in one day.
In his comeback Championships a brave Grant Hackett finished fourth and will take confidence into his 200m freestyle heats tomorrow morning.
Horton overtook Hackett on the Australian All Time rankings – and he now sits second on the Top Ten list behind dual Olympic champion Ian Thorpe (3:40.08) who presented the medals in a special night for the 400m freestylers.
And Horton’s final word: “It’s pretty insane really (to swim past Hackett)…hopefully one day I can get number one…”
Meanwhile self-proclaimed “comeback kid” Blair Evans made the Australian team for the first time since the London Olympics, and checked in for her second Olympic Games with an impressive swim of 4:35.26 to win the women’s 400m Individual Medley.
“It’s been a really hard-fought three or four years for me,” Evans said.
“We were aiming for this sort of time for trials but there has been a few hits and misses in training the last few weeks with injuries. But to be able to come out and have such an enormous swim and a lifetime PB for me. I am so extremely happy.”
Keryn McMaster (Chandler, QLD) is set to make her Olympic debut, posting a A-qualifying time of 4:37.94 to place second behind Evans. Her Chandler teammate Ellen Fullerton was third in 4:39.72
Earlier in the night Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Travis Mahoney were the first to book their places on the plane after finishing 1-2 with qualifying times in the men’s 400m Individual Medley.
London Olympian Fraser-Holmes (Miami, QLD) was relieved and excited to secure his second Games berth after winning in 4:11.09.
“It’s very satisfying,” he said. “I never thought as a kid that I would get to go to one Olympics let alone two. I am very, very proud of what I have achieved tonight.
“The last week has been really nerve-wracking. Just to qualify for the team is a hard thing in itself.
“Swimming is a very demanding sport both physically and mentally. I think I have a great ability to focus when I don’t want to lose and tonight I think that is what it was all about.”
Mahoney (Nunawading, VIC) posted a personal best and an Olympic qualifying time of 4:14.98, an emotional achievement for the 25-year-old.
“I’ve had a really tough year,” Mahoney said. “My auntie passed away last November after a nine year battle with cancer. She battled for so long and she was my inspiration and I am just so happy I could do it for her.”
Teenager Clyde Lewis (St Peters Western, QLD) posted a huge personal best time of 4:16.58 to place third and make waves as one to watch in the future.
In the Multi-Class events, the night belonged to Ellie Cole. The 24-year-old smashed the S9 World Record for the 50m freestyle, winning in 28.75 (1031 points). The World Champion in the event, Cole didn’t expect such a huge result and was elated to break the record and gain nomination for a spot on the team for Rio.
“For the 50m freestyle - leg amputees aren’t very good at it,” Cole said.
“Natalie du Toit held the record before and to follow in her footsteps has been a dream of mine since I was a really little girl. I am absolutely speechless with that time.
“I’ve been on the Australian swim team for 10 years now and performances like that just really remind you of what it is all about. No matter how long you swim for or are an elite athlete for there are still surprises like that so I am really happy with that swim.”
Lakeisha Patterson (S8) was second and Ashleigh McConnell (S9) rounded out the medals with third.
Mitchell Kilduff (S14) and Daniel Fox (S14) were equal winners in the men’s 50m Freestyle Multi-Class, with Joshua Alford (S14) third.
COMING UP ON DAY 2
Day 2, Friday 8 April is “Swim Like a Girl”. Highlighting Day 2 will be the women’s 100m butterfly, 100m breaststroke and 400m freestyle. Read all about it here >>>
DAY 1 FULL RESULTS
Women’s 50m Freestyle Multi-Class
1. Ellie Cole S9 (Castle Hill RSL, NSW) 28.75 1031 pts (World Record)
2. Lakeisha Patterson S8 (Unattached, QLD) 30.56 958 pts
3. Ashleigh McConnell S9 (Melbourne Vicentre, VIC) 29.52 952 pts
Men’s 50m Freestyle Multi-Class
=1. Daniel Fox S14 (Chandler, QLD) 24.67 985 pts
=1. Mitchell Kilduff S14 (MLC Marlins, NSW) 24.67 985 pts
3. Joshua Alford S14 (Tuggeranong Vikings, NSW) 25.18 927 pts
Men’s 400m Individual Medley
1. Thomas Fraser-Holmes (Miami, QLD) 4:11.09
2. Travis Mahoney (Nunawading, VIC) 4:14.98
3. Clyde Lewis (St Peters Western, QLD) 4:16.58
Women’s 400m Individual Medley
1. Blair Evans (UWA West Coast, WA) 4:35.26
2. Keryn McMaster (Chandler, QLD) 4:37.94
3. Ellen Fullerton (Chandler, QLD) 4:39.72
Men’s 400m Freestyle
1. Mack Horton (Melbourne Vicentre, VIC) 3:41.65
2. David McKeon (Chandler, QLD) 3:45.09
3. Jack McLoughlin (Chandler, QLD) 3:46.27
Women’s 50m Backstroke
1. Emily Seebohm (Brisbane Grammar, QLD) 27.72
2. Minna Atherton (Brisbane Grammar, QLD) 27.80
3. Holly Barratt (Rockingham, WA) 27.90
Men’s 50m Butterfly
1. Ryan Pini (PNG) 23,67
2. Daniel Lester (Lawnton, QLD) 23.72
3. David Morgan (TSS Aquatics, QLD) 23.76
Women’s 4 x 100m Freestyle
1. Marion, SA 3:46.12
2. Ravenswood, NSW 3:48.69
3. Yeronga Park, QLD 3:49.00
Heats will start at 11:00am SA time and will be live streamed at http://www.swimming.org.au/live-streaming.aspx