Leisel Jones Heads All-Star Cast At Aussie Age Group Champs

MELBOURNE, April 12. OLYMPIC silver medalists Leisel Jones and Kirsten Thomson are among a host of international-level athletes who will join a record 1600 swimmers for next week’s Tip Top Australian National Age Swimming Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.

Jones (Redcliffe Leagues Lawnton, QLD) and Thomson (SLC Aquadot, NSW) will be joined by fellow 2000 Olympic teammates Kasey Giteau ( Toongabbie, NSW ) and Jennifer Reilly (Victoria Park, WA).

The five-day meet will begin on Thursday, April 19 and conclude on Monday April 23 and will be followed by the Tip Top Asutralian National Age Group Open Water Championships, which has attracted over 100 entries at The Hazelwood Pondage on Tuesday, April 24.

In addition to the four Olympians, the meet will also feature eight members of the recently selected Australian National Team for this year’s Ninth FINA World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan in July.

Joining Jones, Giteau and Reilly on the 44-strong Telstra Dolphins national team will be fellow age-groupers Nicole Hunter (Tattersall’s Aquatic, TAS), Jodie Henry (Chandler, QLD), Amanda Pascoe,
(Campbelltown, NSW) Megan McMahon (Fleurieu, SA) and Kelly Tucker (Kincumber Pacific Dolphins).

The meet will also see 16 members of the Australian team to contest the East Asian Games to be held in Osaka, Japan next month.

They are: Andrew Affleck (Gardens, QLD), Andrew Burns (Toongabbie, NSW), Jessica Abbott (Hurstville Aquatics), Frances Adcock (Western Sharks, SA), Geogina Bartlett (Melbourne Vicentre, VIC), Chloe Bennett (All Saints, QLD), Lara Davenport (Galston, NSW), Sophie Edington (Loxton, SA), Felicity Galvez
(Wilkinson, NSW), Sarah Kasoulis (Carey Aquatic, VIC), Kate Krywulycz (SLC Aquadot), Melissa Morgan (Burnside, SA), Tammie Smith (Newman Churchlands, WA), Jordana Webb (Carey Aquatic, Vic), Kelli Waite (Yeronga Park, QLD) and Brooke Martin (Forresters Beach Indoor, NSW).

It is hard to imagine that 15-year-old Jones only came to the forefront of Australian Swimming at the National Age Group Championships 12 months ago in Perth.

Since then, she has won two Olympic silver medals in the 100m breaststroke and 4x100m medley relay and just last month added her first National Open titles in the 100 and 200 meter breaststroke at the Telstra Australian Championships in Hobart.

She will be joined in Melbourne by 15 of her Redcliffe Leagues Lawnton teammates as the Ken Wood coached Queensland squad attempts to add the National Age Group team title to the open title they won in Hobart.

"We have a particularly strong 15 years group with Leisel, Sarah Bowd, Anna Campbell, Sarah Kekki and Tanya McDonald," said Wood, the recently named Australian Age Group coach of the year.

"At last year’s titles in Perth, the SLC Aquadot club from Sydney won the [team title]but Redcliffe actually won the gold, silver and bronze medal tally.

"Aquadot, Miami and Yeronga Park will provide tough opposition in many of the age group categories."

Doug Frost’s Aquadot team will feature Olympian Thomson, who was a member of the silver medal winning Australian 4×200 meter freestyle relay team as well as Sydney Youth Olympic Festival gold medalist over 200 and 400 meters freestyle, Kate Krywulycz, and Millennium Commonwealth Youth Games freestyler, Jason Cram.

The club rivalry will again be fierce with Queensland heavy weights, Redcliffe Leagues Lawnton, Commercial, Brothers, Chandler and Yeronga Park against their NSW counterparts, SLC Aquadot, Telopea, United, Carlile and Wilkinson.

Victoria’s charge will be led by Nunawading, Surrey Park, Carey Aquatic MLC Aquatic, Firbank Aquastars host club Melbourne Vicentre.

South Australia’s hopes will lie with, Burnside and Fleurieu, while Tattersall’s Aquatic, Hobart will send a strong team from the Apple Isle.

Western Australia’s major clubs include, City of Perth, West Coast and Victoria Park, which should feature strongly.

The Northern Territory will be represented by Darwin Amateur Swim Club and Nhulunbuy Amateur Swim Club.

International clubs and teams competing at the championships include, Canadian club team Red Deer, the 14-strong New Zealand National team, North Shore New Zealand, along with the Korean National Team and strong showings from both New Caledonia and Hong Kong.

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