By Ian Hanson
MELBOURNE, April 23. QUEENSLAND schoolboy Ashley Anderson tonight won his 20th National Age Group title with his fifth gold from five swims on the final night of the Tip Top Australian National Age Group Swimming Championships in Melbourne.
Anderson, Australia's leading aboriginal swim star, clocked his fourth personal best time of the meet when he swam 23.45 secs to win the 16 years 50 metres freestyle – just 0.06 secs outside Nathan Rickard’s 1996 Australian record of 23.39 at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
The boy from Rockhampton – who almost quit swimming last year – has overcome the disappointment of missing the East Asian Games team to Osaka next month with an outstanding five-day meet.
"I was disappointed with the way I swam at the Australian Open Championships but I was determined to go back to training and come to Melbourne with a new lease on life," said Anderson.
"It is a relief to swim my best time in the 200 IM for the first time in 12 months and I have now set myself for the Australian Short Course Championships in Perth in August."
SLC AQUADOT WIN TIP TOP CROWN IN THRILLING FINALE
In a thrilling climax to five days of the most competitive swimming seen at at National Age Group Meet, Sutherland Leisure Centre Aquadot’s Jai Lapham had to finish fifth or better in the final event for his club to win the prestigious W J Harrison Trophy and the Tip Top Premiership.
The 15-year-old Lapham, with his teammates cheering madly on the pool deck, did just that and earned the club 20 points and the coveted title.
His fifth placing earned him the biggest cheer of a week which has seen the Melbourne pool packed every night and highlighted Australian Swimming’s depth of talent.
SLC Aquadot, under head coach Doug Frost and assistant Tracey Menzies, finished with 983.5 points to overtake arch rivals Chandler (Qld) 980.5 points with Redcliffe Leagues Lawnton third (665.0).
On the gold medal tally it was actually Chandler on top with 11 gold, six silver and six bronze (Total 23) from Redcliffe Leagues Lawnton, Qld (six gold, four silver and one bronze; Total 11) and Gosford Stingray, NSW (Six gold, four silver and one bronze).
Four clubs – City of Perth (WA); Brothers (Qld); Nunawading (Vic) and Central Queensland Aquajets – each won five gold medals.
QUEENSLAND BEATS NSW FOR NATIONAL INTER-STATE TITLE
Queensland won a thrilling Inter-State championship, to take the William B Phillips Trophy from arch rivals NSW, in a title race decided on the last two events.
In the first event of the night, Sophie Edington from Loxton, South Australia lowered her own Australian and Australian All-Comers 50m freestyle record by 0.01 – clocking 26.04.
In other outstanding swims on the final night, 14-year-old Brisbane schoolgirl Alice Mills won her fifth individual gold medal of the championships, when she won the 100m freestyle final in 57.54 in the second Chandler trifecta of the meet with Clair Barrett second in 58.34 and Sara Illing third in 59.24.
Mills also won three relay gold medals – one with Queensland and two with Chandler – taking her gold medal tally to eight.
Gosford’s brilliant 14-year-old Ryan Johnson won his fifth and sixth gold medals of the championships, winning the 13 years and under 200m backstroke in 2:11.46 – just 0.18 seconds outside the Australian record and 100m butterfly in 1:00.06.
Olympian Jennifer Reilly completed her "iron woman" week, adding her fourth gold medal in the 200m individual medley in 2:18.00, before completing her week with her second silver medal in the 800 meter freestyle in 8:47.74.
Reilly will now prepare for the Ninth World Championships in Fukuoka, where she will contest the 400m individual medley.
Wilkinson’s Melissa Mitchell won the 50,100, 200 and 400 meter freestyle in the 13 years and under age group.
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