SYDNEY, Australia, January 22. OLYMPIC swimmer Ryan Napoleon will turn the clock back to the golden era of Australian surf-swim stars when he lines up for competition in both the pool and surf over four frantic days in two states, starting in Sydney tomorrow, Thursday.
The 23-year-old Gold Coast-based London Olympian and Commonwealth Games hopeful for Glasgow, will head to Sydney with the Queensland State Surf Life Saving team on Wednesday for the annual two-day National Interstate Championships, a Surf Life Saving Australia event.
He will then return to the Gold Coast for the prestigious Miami Swim Meet at the Denis Cotterell Pool of Champions at Pizzey Park on Saturday and Sunday in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games Swim Trials in Brisbane in March.
The Palm Beach Currumbin Richard Scarce coached freestyle and butterfly star and Northcliffe surf lifesaver said he will treat the surf and swim weekend as a four-day meet.
“I will contest the pool lifesaving events for Queensland in Sydney on Thursday, the surf lifesaving events at Newport on Friday before competing over two days at Miami on Saturday and Sunday.
“It will be a busy four days but I’m really looking forward to it – it should be a lot of fun – I’m really excited.
“I am really looking forward to the pool rescue events, where I think I can again improve my times and I will race in the surf for the first time since I was a Nipper at McMasters beach when I was 12.
“I won’t swim the 400 in the pool at Miami which is at the start of the program; I will save myself for the 100 and 200m freestyle and the 100m butterfly – it will be like a four-day meet for me.”
Napoleon showed the benefits of his improved fitness at Royal Life Saving’s recent National Pool Rescue Championships in Canberra and says he will be even better prepared, particularly for the 200m freestyle with Obstacles.
His expertise across all disciplines makes Napoleon one of the most versatile swimmers in the country as he tackles the technically-challenging Pool Rescue events, the rigors of the surf against some of the best Ironmen in the country before he heads into familiar waters for the 100 and 200m freestyle and 100m butterfly in the pool.
Napoleon, who made his debut for Australia in the pool at the 2009 FINA World Championships went on to win gold in Australia’s 4x200m freestyle relay at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.
After making his Olympic debut at the London 2012 Games in the 400m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay and winning gold at the World University Games in 2013, he will combine both stillwater and surf in 2014.
Napoleon has committed himself not only to make his second Commonwealth Games team for Glasgow but has also put his hand up for the Australian Surf Life Saving Team for this year’s World Championships in Montpellier, France.
His commitment to both sports is reminiscent of the 1970s and 1980s when the likes of Olympians Mark Kerry, Mark Tonelli, Graeme Brewer, Ron McKeon, Jon Sieben, Justin Lemberg and Duncan Armstrong all combined their swimming careers with surf lifesaving events.
Other swimming greats like Steve Holland, Neil and Greg Rogers and Graham Windeatt in the 70s all forged successful stillwater careers with stints in the surf, following the likes of Jon Donohoe, Gary Winram and the late Terry Buck in the 50s and 60s.
The Rogers boys both represented Australia at Olympics, Greg (1968 and 1972) and Neil (1972 and 1976) as well as wearing the green and gold quartered cap in surf lifesaving.
Napoleon will be joined in the Queensland State Surf team by Northcliffe team mates, Australia’s leading Ironman, Shannon Eckstein and leading Ironwoman Courtney Hancock as the Maroon Cyclones try and wrest back the coveted Inter-State crown title they last won in 2011.
NSW, to be led by Newport Ironman star Kendrick Louis, will also turn to their own swim-surf star, in Manly’s Australian Open Women’s surf race gold medallist Georgia Miller – who represented Australia at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships last year.
The Blues have been the dominant State, winning six of the last seven overall National Inter-State trophies and they will again have the advantage of the home beach at Newport on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
They will be bolstered by the inclusion of Australian team members Rachelle King (Terrigal), Tim Schofield (Terrigal), Jake Lynch (Newport) and Andrew Bowden (Bronte) while Queensland will have their own National team stars Pamela Hendry (Maroochydore), Melissa Howard (Kurrawa) and Sam Bell (Maroochydore).
SLSA’s National head coach Danny Short said: “The Inter-State Championship is the last representative competition before the various State and Australian Surf Championships take place over February and March so it is an important competition for athletes to press their claims for Australian selection.
“It has been a meteoric rise for Ryan Napoleon from last May where in the space of eight months he has transitioned to represent Australian Lifesaving, Queensland Royal Lifesaving Team and now the Queensland Cyclones.
“Last week he continued his improvement with a fantastic Superlifesaver and was just a couple of seconds off the world record in 100m medley. I can’t wait to see how he goes in the rescue tube rescue at Newport.”
Other stars to watch will include:
· Northcliffe’s Christina Ruiz, who is racing for Victoria this week and is looking to back up after tremendous pool championships.
· Three-time Australian single ski champion Lachlan Tame (Avoca) who will represent the Northern Territory and is looking to push his National representation chances with some good performances in the board race, ski and also in the beach flags and possibly the beach sprint.
· Mariah Jones (Tweed Heads-Coolangatta) is also racing for Northern Territory who also and had great pool championships recording some impressive pb’s. Mariah is on the rise and is benefitting from her recent experiences in the Australian Life Saving team.
· The clash on the beach is going to be fierce with current world champion Jake Lynch up against Queenslander Ben Mispelhorn (Kurrawa). In the women, look out for the clash between Mel Howard (Kurrawa) and Elly Graf (Elouera)
· In the U19′s, several athletes have emerged and are looking to improve their chances of selection in the Australian U19 team to go to Rescue 2014. These athletes include Alyssa Koenan, Chelsea Gillet, Alex Nolan and the Byron Bay all-rounder Ela Heiniger in the girls and in the boys Matt Davis, Josh Brown and Brad Woodward are stars of the future.
The state/territory teams from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory will begin their competition:
· At the Ryde Aquatic Centre on Thursday (9:00am) and
· Newport Beach on Friday for the beach and ocean competition (8:20am).
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