By Ian Hanson
MELBOURNE, April 19. CAMPBELLTOWN'S Amanda Pascoe continued her outstanding form in preparation for this year’s World Swimming Championships in Japan with a gold medal swim in the 400 meter freestyle on the opening night of the Tip Top Australian National Age Group Swimming Championships in Melbourne tonight.
A record 1400 swimmers have converged on Melbourne for Australian Swimming’s biggest ever National Age meet, including Olympians Leisel Jones, Kasey Giteau and Jennifer Reilly and eight members of Australia’s world championship team for Fukuoka.
Pascoe held off a strong challenge from Australian East Asian Games representative Kate Krywulycz (SLC Aquadot, NSW) and Melissa Morgan (Burnside, SA) to win the 16 years final in a personal best time of 4:15.72 –a time which would have earned her fourth in the Australian Open Championships in Hobart last month.
Krywulycz clocked 4:16.85 to take the silver, while Morgan finished third in 4:18.93.
The reigning Australian 800 and 1500 metres champion didn’t swim the 400 meters in Hobart – preferring to concentrate on the longer events, as well as the 200 meter freestyle, where she qualified for a swim in Australia’s 4x200m freestyle relay.
Pascoe said after her win she was hoping for a personal best time.
"My previous best time was actually my split time on the way to winning the 800 meters freestyle at the World Championship Selection Trials in Hobart, " she said.
"I saw this race as a good hit-out at this meet because I’m not swimming the 1500m freestyle here."
Pascoe’s coach Alan Thompson, who will make his debut as a coach on his first major Australian team at the World Championships in Fukuoka in July, said: "After we returned from Hobart she slid straight into taper with the rest of her teammates. She still has the 100, 200 and 800 meter freestyle here as well as the 200 IM.
"She will then take a week off before getting back into work for the World Championships."
Olympian Kasey Giteau won a thrilling 17-18 years 400m freestyle in 4:15.95 from world championship team member Linda MacKenzie (4:16:24), New Zealand’s Karen Tait (4:16.43) and Cassandra Steer (4:18.75).
Other eye-catching performances on the first night came from Chandler, Queensland trio Alice Mills, Clair Barret and Sara Illing, who trifectaed the 14 years 50 meter freestyle, with Mills clocking a sizzling 26.32 to win gold in a time only just outside Rebecca Creedy’s Australian 14-years record of 26.09.
Later in the evening the Chandler trio of Mills, Barret and Illing backed up to finish second, third and fourth behind Jessicah Schipper (Redcliffe Leagues Lawnton, Qld) in the girls 14 years 100m butterfly.
A fourth Chandler swimmer in the 50m freestyle final, Nadine Loof who finished eighth in the 10-girl final, later combined with teammates Melanie Houghton, Teagan Wilkie and world championship team member Jodie Henry to win the 18 years and under 4x50m freestyle relay.
Wilkinson NSW swimmer Melissa Mitchell showed her class when she won the 13 years and under 100m freestyle in a personal best time of 58.03 from Alicia Coutts (Redlands, Qld) 59.16 and Danni Miatke (Casuarina Swimming, NT) 59.37.
The standard of Australia’s young backstrokers continue to rise with Loxton South Australia’s national finalist Sofie Eddington clocking a PB of 1:03.32 to narrowly defeat a fast-finishing Kelly Tucker (Kincumber Pacific Dolphins) 1:03.95 and Frances Adcock (1:04.15).
At the end of 28 events, NSW and Queensland are locked on nine gold and 28 medals in total with Shannon Rollason’s Chandler Qld club on top of the inter-club medal tally with two gold, two silver, two bronze and seven medals in total.
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