The next generation of Australia’s swimming stars are set to come together at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre (SOPAC) to swim for the chance to be crowned National Age Champion.
In what is already a packed and exciting swimming calendar in 2018, the Georgina Hope Foundation Australian Age Swimming Championships will take place over 8 days, from April 21-28.
The Age Championships will be a fantastic opportunity for the future of our sport to compete, right off the back of a home Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
As part of a broad review of the swimming competitive pathway, the 2018 Age Championships will see changes to the program and qualifying times intended to improve the experience for young swimmers and keep them involved in the sport for longer.
Qualifying times have been modified to ensure standards have a greater consistency across all events, and are better aligned to international benchmarks.
For Multi Class athletes, where the opportunities to compete at a National level will be less in 2018 as not all classes are eligible for the Commonwealth Games and as such not included in the 2018 Australian Trials, entries will also be open to swimmers 19 years and older. Important to note, these swimmers will not be eligible for medals.
Another notable change to the program is the modification of the 12/13 age group band races, with the minimum age lifted to 13.
Jamie Salter, Swimming Australia Pathways Manager, said that this change would provide long term benefits for swimmers and the sport.
“For young swimmers, their age and the difference in physical size and strength have a big impact on their swimming times,” Salter said.
“This often results in some swimmers gaining an advantage and at the same time, discouraging others, purely based on the month of the year that they were born.
“We looked at recent entries and results for 12 year old’s at Age Championships and two facts emerged. Numbers of entries were low, and the older athletes within the 2 year band, were most successful.
“With the support of our state partners, we all agreed that the right call is to lift the minimum age band to 13. There are many opportunities for our children to race as they age, and for 12 year old’s, all the International and Australian research suggests that they are best to focus on skill development and enjoying their swimming,” Salter said.
Swimming Australia National Transition Coach, Glenn Beringen, said the swimming communities key focus is long term athlete development to provide each and every competitive swimmer the best opportunity to reach their potential.
“These changes to Age Championships recognise evidence that skill development should be prioritised for our young swimmers. Giving the swimmer the best opportunity to achieve their best as their body physically develops,” Beringen said.
Key Information: 2018 Georgina Hope Foundation Australian Age Championships
Pre meet training: 19 and 20 April 2018
Competition dates: 21-28 April 2018
Venue: Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre (SOPAC), Sydney, NSW
The full age program can be viewed here