Australia’s elite para swimmers – including members of the 2019 World Para Championship team – hit the water for the first time this morning as the Para GP officially kicked off at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre, coinciding with the Hancock Prospecting World Swimming Trials.
Providing vital race practice ahead of September’s world para champs in London, 20 multi-class events were swum in the first heat session, including the men’s and women’s 400m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 200m individual medley and 50m breaststroke.
Rio Paralympic gold medallist, Lawnton’s Lakeisha ‘Lucky’ Patterson (S9), recorded the fastest time (4:43.35) and highest point score (807) in the first race of the morning – the Women’s 400m Freestyle Multi-Class. Auburn’s Jenna Jones (S13) placed second after clocking 4:56.86, while young Brisbane Jet product, Lily Barras (S10), touched for third in 5:09.85 and a point score of 656.
In the corresponding event for the men, North Sydney’s Matt Levy (S7) edged out Auburn’s Timothy Hodge (S9) by 35 points – 853 to 818. Rising star of the pool, Arena’s Ben Popham (S8), posted 4:56.54 and earned 672 points to place third in the second event of the day.
Paralympian Ellie Cole (S9) from Knox Pymble made a solid start to her world championship preparations, racking up 890 points in the Women’s 100m Backstroke Multi-Class. Clocking a time of 1:10.35, she finished ahead of young USC Spartan Katja Dedekind (S13) who recorded 1:12.21 and 755 points and Melbourne Torpedoes Jamie-Lee Getson (S14) who touched for third with a time of 1:12.54 and 688 points.
Relishing the chance to swim in a race simulation environment, the Men’s 100m Breaststroke Multi-Class competitors made a splash in event 43. Carina Leagues’ Jake Michel (SB14), who will make his Dolphins debut at the world champs this year, came out on top after hitting the wall in 1:10.46 and receiving 834 points. Experienced campaigner and leader Blake Cochrane (SB7) from USC Spartans finished second (1:21.50 and 704 points), while Rick Pendleton (SB9) from Genesis Aquatic placed third (1:12.31 and 694 points).
The splash and dash for the Women’s 50m Freestyle Multi-Class saw emerging swimmer, Bay & Basin’s Jasmine Greenwood (S10) take the top spoils in 29.01 and with 840 points, while for the men, St Hilda’s Tim ‘Disko’ Disken (S8) won by the narrowest of margins, defeating North Shores’ Matt Levy (S7) by one point – 790 to 789.
Swimmers will be back in action later this afternoon, with the finals of the Para GP kicking off at 4:30pm.
All para events were swum as multi-class races, meaning athletes from all classifications competed in the same event, with the para-swimmer attaining 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.