(Top Photo L-R: Isabella Vincent, Kirralee Hayes, Alex Tuckfield, Ben Hance, Tom Gallagher, Ashley Van Rijswijk and debutant coach, Kate Sparkes)
Meet the newest members of our Australian swim team!
Young guns Kirralee Hayes, Tom Gallagher, Isabella Vincent, Ben Hance, Ashley Van Rijswijk and Alex Tuckfield have etched their names in the history books after receiving their official Dolphin swimmer pin numbers in Cairns.
The rookies join the likes of six-time gold medallist and winner of 15 Paralympic medals Ellie Cole, seven-time medallist and five-time Paralympian Matthew Levy, as well as Brenden Hall, who has won six para swimming medals including three gold.
Paralympics Australia announced a powerhouse 34 athletes to represent Australia in Tokyo with 15 making their first appearance at the Games, along with some of our country’s most decorated athletes.
Earlier this week, the newcomers received their official pin numbers and swimming caps, welcoming them to the prestigious team.
“It feels really exciting, and it’s easy, it’s helping me process what’s going on, like ‘oh my gosh I made the team’,” Vincent said.
“Wearing the uniform helps me get into the mindset and I can’t stop smiling.”
Hailing from Wagga Wagga, breaststroke specialist Ashley Van Rijswijk will be competing in the 100m breaststroke (S14) and the 200m individual medley (S14), whilst Kirralee Hayes is set to wear the green and gold for the first time in the 100m fly (S13) and 50m free (S13).
“Getting that cap with my last name on it, knowing that I’m going to wear that in Tokyo is just so exciting and so amazing; I’m just so excited,” said Hayes.
Currently training in Cairns before their maiden Paralympics, the sport’s next wave of swimmers are eager to take on Tokyo after testing themselves against their elite counterparts at Trials in Adelaide and the Para GP in Brisbane.
Debutant Alexander Tuckfield said he is anticipating some fast racing after “getting over the hurdle of Covid” and is honoured to be a part of the team.
“It’s a weight lifted off my shoulders, one step ahead. Now it’s just to get on the blocks, race the 400 and get that medal; it’s the number one goal,” he said.
Also looking to continue his fine form at his Paralympic debut, Ben Hance is excited to see what performances he can produce after a strong training program in Cairns.
The USC swimmer continues to go from strength to strength breaking his former 100m Backstroke (S14) world record at trials in a time of 57.56.
Former surf lifesaving ironman Tom Gallagher is eager to begin his Dolphins’ swimming journey and is prepared to push himself to perform at his best.
“At the end of the day, you’ve just got to go out and try your hardest, but the ultimate goal is to win the gold medal,” Gallagher said.
“As long as I go and give my best effort I’ll be stoked; a medal, gold, silver or bronze will be a bonus, just as long as I put myself out there and perform on the day.”
Good luck to our newest Paralympians, we are so excited to watch you in Tokyo!