Emma McKeon (Griffith University) set the pool alight on night one of the 2021 Australian Swimming Trials, blitzing her own Australian record by clocking a time of 55.93 – well under the qualifying time of 57.10. UWA West Coast’s Brianna Throssell touched in second, agonisingly only 0.01 outside of the time required in 57.11.
McKeon was relieved to qualify in the first event of the meet.
“I think it's just nice to qualify in the first event and get that done and now settle into the rest of the week,” she said.
“It is significantly faster than what I was going for the last four years, I definitely felt like I was due for a good one. I have been putting in a lot of work with my coach and definitely have a lot of faith in him. And I think when he tells me that I'm due for a good one I have a lot more belief in myself.”
Australian records continued to fall in the second race of the night as Nunawading’s Brendon Smith flew home in the Men’s 400m Individual Medley in 4:10.04 to beat Thomas Fraser-Holmes’ eight-year record. Birthday boy, Se-bom Lee (Carlile) had an extra reason to celebrate after he swum under the qualifying time in 4:14.16, likely booking a seat to Tokyo with Smith.
Smith was ecstatic after his record-breaking swim.
“Pretty surprising swim, everything went right and I had an amazing race,” he said.
“There is definitely a lot of time I can drop with that swim, but I am just looking forward to getting back into training and see if I can drop more.”
In the first multi-class event of the night, Ellie Cole (S9) from Knox Pymble and Belgravia’s Lakeisha ‘Lucky’ Patterson (S9) both swum under the S9 qualifying time of 4:48.98 in the Women’s 400m Freestyle multi-class. As a six-time Paralympic gold medallist, Cole was striving to book a ticket to her fourth Paralympics and looks to have done so after clocking 4:47.30, while Rio gold medallist, Patterson will be heading for her second Games after swimming 4:42.25.
In what was tipped as one of the races of the night – the Men’s 400m Freestyle – it definitely lived up to expectations with five swimmers touching under the qualifying time. However, with only two spots available it was St Peters Western’s Elijah Winnington who nabbed first position in 3:42.65 with Chandler’s Jack McLoughlin securing second spot in 3:43.27. The epic battle saw defending Olympic gold medallist Mack Horton narrowly miss an individual swim.
The Men’s 400m Freestyle Multi-Class saw five swimmers touch under their classification’s qualifying time. These included Somerset GC newcomer Tom Gallagher (S10) who posted 4:10.62, dual Paralympic champion Brenden Hall (S9) (4:15.89), young gun Alexander Tuckfield (S9) from SLC Aquadot (4:16.13), Brisbane Jets’ Harrison Vig (S9, 4:18.94) and Arena’s Ben Popham (S8, 4:35.15).
In an event for the S14 athletes – the Men’s 200m Freestyle Multi-Class – Liam Schluter (Kawana Waters) was first to the wall and under the qualifying time in 1:54.46, along with Ricky Betar (Auburn) in 1:55.53.
Other races which featured on night one included the Men’s 100m Breaststroke, Women’s 400m Individual Medley and the Women’s 200m Freestyle Multi-Class – all of which saw no individual qualifiers.
All the action from the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre kicks off again tomorrow, with heats beginning at 10am local time. You can catch all the action live on Amazon Prime Video from 9:50am local time.