Sharing their love of gold on the first night of the World Para Swimming World Series in Melbourne, six Dolphins claimed top spot on the podium in their maiden international hit out of 2020.
First off the blocks was Belgravia’s Paralympian Brenden Hall (S9), who after taking home the gold medal in the Men’s 400m Freestyle Multi-Class last year, backed up his performance to claim consecutive wins in his pet race. Recording a time of 4:15.95 (931 points) – smashing his 2019 winning time of 4:22.88 – the 26-year-old triumphed over the USA’s Robert Griswold (S8) and fellow Australian Ben Popham (S8). Griswold finished the race with a time of 4:33.76 (854 points) while Popham touched in 4:35.12 for 841 points.
A delighted Hall said he was pleased with his swim post-race.
“I’m really happy with the time, it’s the fastest I’ve swum in the last 18 months, so I’m really stoked with that,” he said.
“I went back to the drawing board and worked out some new strategies and had a look at what was going to work and what wasn’t going to work and thankfully it’s all starting to come together. It’s the start of the year and I’ve got a few good solid months to go, so I’m looking forward to seeing what those new tricks bring.”
Recent S9 world champion in the Women’s 400m Freestyle, Belgravia’s Lakeisha Patterson, added another medal to her decorated career, this time taking home silver in the Women’s 400m Freestyle Multi-Class. Hitting the wall in 4:40.42 (833 points), ‘Lucky’ claimed silver ahead of compatriot, Rackley Swim Team’s Monique Murphy (S10), who recorded 4:46.88 for 827 points to snare bronze. The USA’s Anastasia Pagonis (S11) took the gold in 5:18.12 (857 points).
Ever so close to a new world record, Yeronga Park’s Rowan Crothers (S10) broke the 51-second barrier in the Men's 100m Freestyle Multi-Class to secure gold. Recording a time of 50.94 and a point score of 996, the 22-year-old charged to the wall in front of New Zealand’s Cameron Leslie (S4) who clocked 1:24.07 (904 points) and Western Australia’s Popham (57.99, 893 points) who notched up his second medal of the night.
Monte’s Rio Paralympian Tiffany Thomas Kane (SB7) fought hard against New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe (SB8) in the Women's Open 50m Breaststroke Multi-Class, with her counterpart from across the ditch narrowly claiming victory. Only two points separated the pair in the end, with Pascoe powering to victory in 36.05 (727 points) ahead of Thomas Kane 43.13 (725 points). Pascoe’s New Zealand compatriot, Nikita Howarth (SB7), nabbed third in 43.48 (708 points).
Striving to record a competitive time, Thomas Kane said she was happy with her performance in what was such a tight race.
“It was a good race, a tough race and I was only two points from getting gold, so I’m happy with the time, but it’s always close with these 50-metre races,” she said.
“It’s really good to see some competitors I’ll be racing later on in Tokyo hopefully, so seeing how their times are going and how they’re progressing will give me some good hints for my time.”
In the Women's 100m Freestyle Multi-Class, Jasmine Greenwood (S10) showed her class to nab gold in 1:03.40 (813 points). Aussies completed the podium with three-time Paralympian Ellie Cole (S9) from Knox Pymble recording 1:04.12 (810 points) for silver and Katherine Downie (S10) scoring 1:03.76 (799 points) for bronze.
Auburn’s Timothy Hodge (S9) improved on his Series performance from 2019, jumping from second place to the coveted top of the podium in the Men’s 100m Butterfly Multi-Class. Clocking 1:01.77 and amassing 867 points, Hodge beat out fellow Dolphins Braedan Jason (S12) from USC Spartans and Victorian local Col Pearse (S10) from Melbourne H20 Swimming Club. Jason notched up 810 points with a time of 1:00.98 to take silver while Pearse finished narrowly behind on 793 points with a time of 59.11.
In the corresponding event for the women, University of Queensland’s Paige Leonhardt (S14) came out on top to claim gold in 1:06.80 (866 points). Recent world champ teammates, Taylor Corry (S14) from Nelson Bay and Ruby Storm (S14) from Traralgon, snared silver and bronze respectively in 1:07.22 (850 points) and 1:10.49 (737 points).
Dolphins Jake Michel (SB14) and Ahmed Kelly (SB3) placed first and second in the Men's Open 50m Breaststroke Multi-Class. Breaststroke specialist Michel, who swims for Carina Leagues CJ’s touched in 30.99 (801 points) to snatch the gold ahead of Kelly who finished in 54.63 (657 points). Rounding out the top three was SOPAC’s Oscar Stubbs (SB13) who pencilled in a time 33.49 (597 points) to secure bronze.
Day two action kicks off tomorrow with heats starting at 9am and finals taking place at 6pm. For more information and live results, click here.
Note: All para races were swum as multi-class races, meaning athletes from all classifications competed in the same event, with the para swimmer achieving the highest point score crowned the winner. The Multi-Class Point Score (MCPS) has been developed to provide a simplified way for swimmers and coaches to measure and compare performances. The MCPS is based on the World Record (WR) times for each classification but also takes into account weightings for non-Paralympic events that are not raced by other countries around the world.