Sixteen members of the Australian Swim Team will take to the blocks in the opening session at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre on Wednesday, including triple Paralympic gold medallist Brenden Hall.
The 28-year-old will compete in the first event of the meet – the Men’s 400m Freestyle (S9) – alongside two of his teammates, Games debutants Alex Tuckfield and Will Martin. Aiming for this third consecutive gold medal in the event, World number 2 ranked Hall faces tough competition from his compatriots who are currently ranked third and fourth in this year’s rankings.
In the corresponding event for the women, 2019 World Para Champion Lakeisha ‘Lucky’ Patterson, will feature with Dolphin leader and decorated Paralympian, Ellie Cole. Patterson secured the gold in Rio swimming as an S8, so she’ll be looking to snare the crown across two classifications. Recording a time of 4:39.55 at the Australian Multi-Class Swimming Championships on the Gold Coast in April, Patterson currently holds the fastest time of the year in the 400m free (S9), while Cole sits fourth in the world rankings.
After securing silver in the Men’s 100m Freestyle (S8) at the 2019 World Para Champs in London, Western Australia’s Ben Popham continues to display his talents in the event – breaking the Australian Record for the S8 classification at the Australian Swimming Trials in June. Although he posted a personal best of 57.37, he'll still be considered the underdog against his Greek competitor Dimosthenis Michalentzakis, who beat Popham to the gold at the World Para Champs by .20 of a second.
Making his debut appearance representing Australia, Ben Hance will pull on his cap alongside Ricky Betar and Liam Schluter in the Men’s 100m Butterfly (S14). In a very competitive field, the trio will be up for a challenge against their counterparts from Brazil, Japan, USA and Great Britain.
Also donning the green and gold for the first time in their careers will be Tom Gallagher and Kirralee Hayes, with Gallagher to line up in the Men’s 50m Freestyle (S10) and Hayes to feature in the Women’s 100m Butterfly (S13).
More swimmers in action on day one:
Women’s 100m Butterfly (S14) - Ruby Storm and Paige Leonhardt
Men’s 50m Breaststroke (SB3) - Ahmed Kelly
Men’s 50m Freestyle (S10) – Rowan Crothers
Women’s 50m Freestyle (S10) – Keira Stephens