By Kurt Hanson
REDCLIFFE BEACH, QLD., AUSTRALIA. March 10. QUUENSLANDERS reigned supreme on day one of the Telstra Australian Open Water Swimming Championships.
Hayley Lewis and Leigh Bool both scored victories and will lead Australia's charge at the Ninth FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Japan later this year after strong performances in the 10km event on Day 1 of the Telstra Australian Open Water Swimming Championships at Redcliffe beach, Queensland.
Near perfect conditions suited the men's field who were tightly positioned at the half way mark with, Leigh Bool narrowly leading fellow Queensalnder Josh Santacaterina and Campbelltown's, Mark Saliba.
The second 5km proved a tactical affair with the trio battling for two spots on the elite World Championship team.
A breakaway in the latter part of the race saw winner Leigh Bool finish in a time of 2 hours, 13 minutes, 57 seconds, touching out Mark Saliba by a mere 3 seconds (2:14.00) to take their respective places on the team for the 10km race. Josh Santacaterina narrowly missed selection finishing third in (2:19.23)
For Leigh Bool, the win made it back-to-back titles, defending his 10km Australian Championship he won last year in Victoria. After finishing 14th in the World Championships in Hawaii, the Ipswich teenager will be looking to improve on that result come the 2001 Word Championships in Japan.
The second placed Saliba and 1999 Open Water Swimmer of the year, selection in the 10km event was an encouraging result for the Campbelltown swimmer who is more suited to the longer 25km format.
In the women's 10km race, triple Olympian and reigning Australian 5km champion Haley Lewis caused an upset in the 10km event defeating her more fancied rivals in a confidence boosting win leading into her pet 5km race tomorrow.
The Queensland supermum never looked in trouble finishing in a time of (2:32.15) just ahead of home town favourite, Redcliffe's Trudee Hutchinson
(2:32.29) who also qualified for the World Championship team. Third place went to Gosford's, Shelly Clark (2:37.35).
Signaling her intentions to reclaim the Australian female distance swimming crown, Lewis has topped off an impressive comeback over the past 12 months which has included a 13th placing at the Sydney Olympics in the 800m freestyle and an 11th placing in the FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships in Hawaii late last year.
The Telstra Open Water Swimming Championships will conclude tomorrow with both the men's and women's 5km and 25km events.