Australia has finished atop of the medal tally at the World Para Swimming World Series in Melbourne after amassing a total of 16 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze across the three-day international competition.
On the final night of action at Melbourne Sports Centres – MSAC, Timothy Hodge (S9) from Auburn, collecting his third gold of the meet in the Men’s 50m Backstroke Multi-Class. In his pet stroke, the 19-year-old produced a swim of 30.08 (825 points) to snare top spot on the podium. Compatriots Rod Welsh (S10) from Northcote and rising star Harrison Vig (S9) from Brisbane Jets claimed silver and bronze respectively in 29.64 (712 points) and 32.15 (676 points).
Speaking post-race, Hodge said his focus coming into the Series was to hone in on his race plans and technique.
“It’s a really good feeling to come out here and do some good times and produce some good swims and even better to get a couple of gold medals,” Hodge explained.
“I feel like the times I do now have a little bit of an influence on the times I’ll do later this year, but for now the ultimate goal is just to get the race plans right and to get the techniques and see what little bits need improvement – it’s really important to get these things right heading into Tokyo.”
Hodge’s Auburn teammate, Ricky Betar (S14), and Wollongong’s Jarrod Dyer (S14) collected silver and bronze medals respectively for Australia in the Men's 50m Butterfly Multi-Class. Betar, who made his Dolphins debut at the World Para Championships last year, hit the wall in 27.66 (725 points) with Dyer whiskers behind in 27.96 (702 points). The USA’s Evan Austin (S7) took gold with a time of 30.79 which equates to 786 points.
In the Women's 50m Butterfly Multi-Class it was Nelson Bay’s fly specialist Taylor Corry who claimed the spoils in 29.97 (897 points) ahead of decorated New Zealand Paralympian Sophie Pascoe (S9) and Traralgon’s Ruby Storm (S14). Pascoe scored the silver to go with the gold she won on night one after powering home in 28.74 (805 points), while Storm captured bronze with her time of 31.15 (799 points).
Less than an hour later, Pascoe showed her experience to come out on top in her second event of the night – the Women's 50m Backstroke Multi-Class. Amassing 894 points with a time of 32.30, the 27-year-old beat St Hilda’s Aquatics Madeleine McTernan (S14) and her fellow teammate, New Zealand’s Tupou Neiufi (S8). The silver medal marked McTernan’s first piece of silverware for the meet.
Kawana Waters’ Liam Schluter (SM14) bagged his first medal of the Series, nabbing gold in the Men's 200m Individual Multi-Class with a time of 2:12.96 (896 points). North Sydney's four-time Paralympian Matthew Levy (SM7) snared the silver in 2:37.69 (873 points) while the USA’s Robert Griswold (SM8) took bronze in 2:27.13 (862 points).
Later that evening Schluter returned to the pool in the Men’s 200 Freestyle Multi-Class to snatch his second gold medal of the night, clocking 1:56.35 (915 points) – which is under the Tokyo qualifying time of 1:56.57 and close to the time he swam at world champs last year. Fellow Dolphins rounded out the podium with Jack Ireland placing second in 1:59.62 (842 points) and Rowan Crothers finishing with bronze in 1:56.77 (808 points).
Australian Dolphins took the trifecta in the Women's 200m Freestyle Multi-Class with McTernan claiming her second medal of the night – going one better to secure gold. Touching in 2:16.98 (708 points) she triumphed over SLC Aquadot athlete Jade Lucy (S14) who placed second in 2:17.56 (699) and Corry 2:19.78 (666 points).
Ahmed Kelly (SM3) and Grant ‘Scooter’ Patterson (SM3) battled it out in their iconic Mixed 150m Individual Medley Multi-Class race. In the end it was Melbourne Vicentre’s Kelly in 3:06.96 and 629 points – which is under the qualifying time for Tokyo – who managed to grab silver in front of the Central Cairns athlete (3:11.78, 583 points). New Zealand’s Cameron Leslie collected gold in 2:37.76 (747 points).
Talking post-race, Kelly said he and his coach are working through a tough stage of training as the Paralympic Games draw closer.
“It (the race) felt really hard, we’re in a bit of a tough phase of training at the moment so just to try and back up with a good endurance block and just to be able to race – we don’t really have the speed at the moment, it’s all about the grind and doing my best,” he said.
“It’s always a great feeling when you can get under the qualifying time so it’s all about just doing that again at trials. We’ve still got a few more months ahead of us and a few more laps to grind it out which is great.”
In the Women’s 200m Individual Medley Multi-Class Perth City’s Katherine Downie (SM10) notched up her third medal of the Series, securing silver behind the USA’s Anastasia Pagonis (SM11). Downie recorded a time of 2:33.90 (835 points), while her international counterpart pencilled in a time of 2:54.23 which equals 873 points. Monte’s Tiffany Thomas Kane (SM7) racked up yet another medal, claiming bronze (3:03.86, 769 points)