By Brooke Hanson
MELBOURNE, April 22. CENTRAL Queensland teenager Craig McLennan became the first Australian 13-year-old to break the 25 second barrier for 50 meters freestyle in a swim which almost went unnoticed at the end of night three of the Tip Top National Age Group Swimming Championships in Melbourne last night.
McLennan, who competes for the Blackwater Swimming Club (220km west of Rockhampton, QLD) smashed an eight-year-old record set by Sydney sprinter Peter Fisher at the National Age Group Championships in Brisbane in 1993.
McLennan sent Australian Swimming officials scurrying for their record books after smashing the record in a relay lead off – just as Michael Klim did for Australia in the world record breaking 4 x 100m freestyle relay at last year’s Olympics, when he led off with an individual 100m world record.
The kid from the unheard off Blackwater club, led off the Queensland’s under 14 boys 4x50m State freestyle relay and split a time of 24.89, establishing a new Australian individual 50m record.
(For comparison's sake, the U.S. National Age Group record for boys 13-14 is 23.52 by Jason Cobb in 1997.)
McLennan's convincing lead helped his 14-year-old Queensland teammates – Leith Brodie, Leif Lyons and John Walz – not only win the gold medal but also break the Australian 4x50m relay record, stopping the clock at 1.39.18.
(The U.S. National Age Group record in the same 13-14 age group is a much slower 1:43.77, set by Concord-Pleasant Hill in 1980.)
On night one of the championships, McLennan won the 100 meter freestyle gold medal in 54.92 secs.
Following last night’s Australian record lead off swim McLennan backed up this morning in the boys 13-and-under 50m freestyle to qualify fastest in a time of 25.33.
All eyes will be on lane four tonight to see if the talented youngster can lower his newly created Australian record again.
Wilkinson’s 13-year-old "Superfish" Melissa Mitchell will be swimming for her fourth individual gold medal of the meet when she contests the 13-and- under 50m freestyle tonight.
Mitchell, who has already swum her way to gold in the 100, 200 and 400 meter freestyle has qualified fastest for the one lap sprint clocking a time of 27.94 in this morning heats, the only girl to go under the 28 second barrier.
In the girls 17-18 years 200m breaststroke World Championship team members Megan McMahon, 2.40.84 (Fleurieu SA) and Jennifer Reilly, 2.41.46 (Victoria Park WA) will swim head-to-head in tonight’s final.
They will then back up in the 16-18 years 400m individual medley with Reilly qualifying first (4.56.08) and McMahon second (5.02.56), setting up a replay of the Telstra Australian Open final last month.
Georgie Bartlett, Melbourne Vicentre VIC (5.02.67), a member of the East Asian Games team to compete in Japan next month comes in third for tonight’s final.
Both Reilly and McMahon will represent Australia in the women’s 400m individual medley in Fukuoka, Japan in July for the Ninth World Championships.
"It’s a great opportunity for us to race each other, the breaststroke will be a warm up swim to my favourite event the 400m IM which is later in the program, I’m looking forward to both races and I’m having a lot of fun." Reilly said.
Other highlights from the heats:
The final of the girl’s 16-years 100m freestyle will see a close battle between all ten finalists with only one second separating the field. Contenders for the Australian title include: East Asian Games representatives: Felicity Galvez, 59.04 (Wilkinson NSW), Sophie Edington 59.23 (Loxton SA), Frances Adcock, 59.26 (Western Sharks, SA), Kate Krywulycz 59.32 (SLC Aquadot, NSW), Sarah Kasoulis 59.83 (Carey Aquatic VIC), along with World Championship Team members, Amanda Pascoe 59.60 (Campbelltown, NSW) and Nicole Hunter 1.00.05 (Tattersall’s Aquatic TAS).
Twenty-seven finals will be contested on night four of the Tip Top Australian Age Group Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
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