A year ago athletes, clubs, coaches and Swimming NSW staff were preparing for one of the biggest events on the swimming calendar – NSW State Open. At that time we were hearing whispers of a highly infectious virus that had made landfall in Australia, and subsequently took precautions to run 2020 NSW State Open with as little person-to-person contact as possible. We were still blissfully unaware of the trials we’d all face in the year ahead.
Today we are still living with comparatively strict social distancing measures in place but we have learned how to carry on living relatively normal lives. Stepping out on pool deck this evening to see the best swimmers, clubs and technical officials Australia has to offer all around us despite all the odds, we could not help but feel excited, appreciative and hopeful.
The athletes from the Men’s 400m freestyle were first in the pool to kick off the inaugural session of 2021 NSW State Open Championships. Elijah Winnington (St Peters Western) secured his spot in tomorrow morning’s final in a time of 3:50.07, ahead of Olympic title holder Mack Horton (Melbourne Vicentre) 3:52.93.
The competition was tough between Georgia Bohl (Griffith University) and ACT Performance Hub swimmer Jess Hansen (Cruiz) in the Women’s 100m breaststroke. The pair were neck-and-neck for most of their race with Bohl eventually touching the wall ahead of Hansen in a time of 1:08.06. Jess Hansen is a recent addition to the ACT Hub and sent a clear message to the competition tonight that she is here for the gold.
Matt Wilson (SOPAC) has had a confident start to the meet, moving forward to tomorrow’s 50m breaststroke final in 27.87. Wilson will battle it out for victory against Rio Olympian Jake Packard (USC Spartans) 28.17.
Emma McKeon (Griffith University) came bursting out of the gates early in her State Open program, touching the wall in the Women’s 100m freestyle in a red-hot time of 52.95. McKeon pulled out in front of the pack in the last 25m of her heat, leaving competitors a full body length behind her. It was Campbell v Wilson and Campbell v McKeown in heats two and three, with Wilson (Marion) and McKeown (USC Spartans) bearing down on Cate and Bronte (Knox Pymble) relentlessly. Tomorrow’s final is sure to be one of the most thrilling of the morning with this stacked line up featuring the femmes of freestyle.
Loreto Normanhurst swimmer Will Yang (49.29) will face off against 100m freestyle champion Kyle Chalmers (Marion) 49.16 tomorrow morning, followed closely by Jack Cartwright (St Peters Western) 49.47, Alexander Graham (Bond) 49.79 and dual Olympian Mitch Larkin (St Peters Western) 49.96.
ACT Performance Hub swimmers are showing their training under Head Coach Shannon Rollason is paying dividends. Abbey Webb (Ginninderra) claimed her place on the starting blocks in 2:17.26 in what will be an interesting 200m backstroke showdown lead by rookie Kaylee McKeown (USC Spartans) 2:12.20 and Emily Seebohm (Griffith University) 2:14.37.
Finals start at 10am tomorrow (Friday, 19 March). Watch the action live from anywhere on SwimTV. Get your event pass at https://swimtv.com.au/.