By Stephen J. Thomas
PERTH, Australia, July 6. THREE members of the Perth based Aussie men’s team had the opportunity for some last minute racing these past two weekends, competing at the West Australian Short Course Championships before boarding a flight East this morning to meet up with the rest of the squad in Sydney. The Aussie team departs tomorrow for the long haul flight to Orlando, Florida where they will be based for their final preparations for Montreal.
Adam Lucas (200 I.M., 400 I.M., 800 relay), Jim Piper (100 and 200 breaststroke) and Mark Riley (50 breaststroke) all posted some solid times over the state short course meet with little significant competition.
Lucas (pictured), the 21-year-old Olympian who won the 200 and 400 I.M. events at Aussie Nationals in March and ranked seventh and 11th globally this year took both the 200 and 400 freestyle events here in 1:48.03 and 3:48.06, respectively. Lucas also posted a PR 1:59.61 for the 200 fly and cruised to an easy win in the 400 I.M. (4:15.81). The only glitch to the weekend was a DQ in the 200 I.M. after an incorrect touch in his breaststroke turn.
Jim Piper took out his signature event, the 200 breaststroke, in a very solid 2:08.67 as well as the 100 in 1:00.23, beating teammate Mark Riley (1:01.64). Piper had a disappointing campaign in Athens last year after being DQ’ed in the 200 final but comes into the World Champs with some confidence having clocked 2:10.76 in March, ranked second behind world record-holder Brendan Hansen. Piper will also swim in the 100 in Montreal but another Aussie Brenton Rickard is more likely to be in the mix for the medals in that event.
Mark Riley moved from the AIS to Perth this year to work under coach Grant Stoelwinder and will swim the 50 breaststroke in Canada. After a poor start last weekend Riley was beaten to the wall by Piper, 28.19 to 28.33. However, he took out the 100 I.M. in 56.43.
For coach Stoelwinder, 34, it is his first major Aussie team selection. He told Swimming World just prior to their departure that this state meet came at the end of a hard block of training and the two weekends of racing fitted neatly into his training program for the guys. He felt that the three swimmers were in good shape to swim well in Montreal.
Eamon Sullivan, another member of the West Coast Club coached by Stoelwinder, who just missed this team despite finishing third in the 100 freestyle at the World Champs Trials in March also produced some good results here and will be one young Aussie sprinter to watch in the future.
After making his senior debut at 18 in Athens, swimming the final of the 400 freestyle relay, a hip injury at the start of the year left him with just four weeks to prepare for the trials. Now fully recovered, Sullivan had three wins, clocking a personal best of 22.42 for the 50 free followed by 48.97 over the 100. He also clocked a state record in the 50 fly, splashing 24.17.