Exciting Gold Coast youngster Elijah Winnington has put his hand well and truly up for this year’s Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Tokyo next month with a stunning break through 400m freestyle swim in Adelaide tonight.
The 18-year-old won relay gold in the 4x200m freestyle at this year’s home Commonwealth Games but tonight he staked another claim for an individual swim against the might of the USA with a personal best time under the Australian Team Selection time at the 2018 Hancock Prospecting Pan Pacific Championships Trials at the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre.
It followed his win in the 200m freestyle on night two when he held on to beat Commonwealth Games champion Kyle Chalmers and training partner Alexander Graham in a thriller.
Tonight Winnington (Bond) led from go to whoa to leave Games golden boys Jack McLoughlin (Chandler) and Mack Horton (Melbourne Vicentre), in his wake, clocking the ninth fastest time by an Australian with a 3:45.93 (200free split: 1:50.19).
He swam away from McLoughlin (3:47.74) and Horton (3:52.74) who in all-fairness have already gained pre-selection on the Dolphins team for Tokyo and are in heavy training for their Pan Pacific tilt.
But in the Pan Pac format, countries can enter as many swimmers as they like, with only the fastest two from any one country going through to swim the final, with the third fastest in the B final.
“I’m super happy with that; I wasn’t too sure coming into it how fast I could actually go,” said Winnington.
“I came off the back doing a PB at National Age only a few months ago and I just came in tonight and did the best I could do and made the A qualifying time so I’m pretty happy.
“My coach Richard Scarce and I always have a set race plan and I led all the way to the last 100m and that’s when you’ve got to give it all you can.
“I turned at the 300m mark pretty wrecked and I knew Jack was there and I knew I had a pretty quick pace and I listened to my coach whistle me home the whole (way) and I trusted him and got the job done.”
While Winnington gathered his breath and hugs from coach Scarce, it was the girls who took over, and Commonwealth Games champion Ariarne Titmus didn’t disappoint, taking off down the first lap in 27.93, splitting 58.01 at the 100m mark and 1:59.00 at half way.
There was no slacking off either, with coach Dean Boxall giving his super-charge the occasional “yelp” to let her know she was on track.
Four laps later and a back end 200m split of 2:01.73 and 17-year-old Titmus had swum the second fastest time of her career – 4:01.73 (0.80 outside her own Australian record) – well under the qualifying standard of 4:06.48 – also claimed by Games bronze medallist Kiah Melverton (TSS Aquatic) in 4:06.25 – her second qualifying time after her sub-16 minute win in the 1500m freestyle on night one.
And the three girls who followed – Mikkayla Sheridan, 23, (USC Spartans) 4:09.36, Maddy Gough, 19, (TSS Aquatics) 4:09.42 and Lani Pallister, 16 (Alexandra Headland) 4:10.61 had also swum personal bests, to continue the improving depth of Australia’s female middle distance and distance swimmers.
“It’s my second fastest time apart from Commonwealth Games so that’s really good and I’m less than a second over my PB, so that’s really good for being in-work,” said Titmus.
“Now I’m at the point where going into the 400 Dean doesn’t really have to tell me what to do, I know what to do, its just more about having the belief in myself to go and do it.
“I remember when I was little I was chasing people like Jess (Ashwood) and now I hope I have the same influence on other girls and the reason why I think I’ve improved is because I’m always chasing people so hopefully I can help others as well. “
In other stand-out swims tonight Commonwealth Games gold medallist Emma McKeon (Griffith University) won the 100m butterfly leading from start to finish to touch in a time of 56.61 to equal the Australian All Comers record set 18 years ago by Dutch superstar Inge de Bruijn at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
McKeon will face the likes of Canada’s Olympic silver medallist in this event from Rio Penny Oleksiak in Tokyo this August and will take confidence from this impressive in-season time.
Korea’s Sehyeon An clocked 57.91 to take second place ahead of Brisbane Grammar’s Gemma Cooney in 59.15.
The men’s 100m butterfly saw Grant Irvine (Griffith University) in 51.59, edge out Rio team mate David Morgan (TSS Aquatic) 51.93 with Theo Benehoutsos (Melbourne Vicentre) third in 53.05.
After winning the 400m individual medley earlier in the meet, UWA West Coast’s Blair Evans made it the double tonight with a stunning last freestyle leg to take the win in the 200m individual medley in a time of 2:13.78.
Former training partners Hayley Baker (2:14.21), now at Canberra and Kotuku Ngawati (2:14.24), Melbourne Vicentre were second and third respectively.
While five-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Mitch Larkin (SPW) hung on to win a tightly-fought 200m individual medley in 1:58.42 from team mate and fellow Games gold medallist Clyde Lewis (1:59.21) with Olympians Travis Mahoney (Marion) 1:59.43 and Thomas Fraser-Holmes (Griffith) 2:00.16 third and fourth.
Then later in the night the St Peters Western’s men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team of Jack Cartwright (48.05), Clyde Lewis (49.59), Max Carleton (49.48) and Mitch Larkin (49.41) combined to swim a new Australian Club record of 3:16.53.
In the Multi Class events triple-Paralympian Matt Levy showed why he is on track to add another Para Pan Pacs team to his name with the 31-year-old a regular on the Dolphins since 2004 and tonight taking out the Australian title in the men’s Multi Class 200m individual medley.
Levy is as consistent as they come and tonight the North Sydney star grabbed another gold with his time of 2:37.08 (883pts) enough to hold off Timothy Disken (PLC Aquatic) in 2:19.35 (881pts) and Timothy Hodge (Auburn) in 2:20.55 (859pts).
Commonwealth Games golden girl Lakeisha Patterson (Lawnton) picked up a third title on her way to Para Pan Pacs selection with a win in the Multi Class 200m individual medley final tonight.
Patterson’s time of 2:44.59 (851pts) was too strong for Perth City’s Katherine Downie who secured the silver and a nod for nomination onto the team with her time of 2:35.46 (810pts) while Yeronga Park swimmer Paige Leonhardt joined them on the podium for third in 2:35.68 (806pts).
And after winning a bronze medal earlier in the meet in the individual medley Paige Leonhardt (Yeronga Park) was back in the water and this time finishing on top in the women’s 50m breaststroke Multi Class.
Leonhardt went straight to the top of the podium with a time of 37.05 for 661 points, to get the win ahead of Keira Stephens (Fraser Coast) in 37.85 (620pts) and Ashley Van-Rijswijk (Tumut) 37.71 (577pts).
The women’s 50m backstroke Multi Class final saw an in-form Taylor Corry step up to take the Australian Championship crown in a time of 31.95 (833pts) ahead of Madeleine McTernan (TSS Aquatics) in 33.16 (745pts) and Keira Stephens (Fraser Coast) in 34.68 (653pts).
Timothy Hodge (Auburn) won the 200IM in 2:18.65 ahead of Levy and Diskin while his Auburn teammate 14-year-old Ricky Betar upstaged Hodge in the 50m breaststroke.
Heats will commence at 10am with finals from 6:30pm.
Tickets are available online now from just $5 at www.swimming.org.au.