Australian Short Course Championships, Day 1: Erin Killey’s Golden Glow in Swimming’s Latest Family Affair Down Under

By Ian Hanson, Chief Australian Correspondent

ADELAIDE, South Australia, June 30. NEWCASTLE distance swimmer Erin Killey has tonight carried on a special family tradition with a stirring victory to clinch her first National title in the 1500m freestyle at the 2011 Australian Short Course Championships in Adelaide.

The 19-year-old from the Hunter Club, north of Sydney, clocked the 14th fastest time in history and became only the fourth Australian to clock under 16 minutes, when she stopped the clock at 15.59.05.

She followed 20-year-old brother Jarrod to the gold medal dais after he earlier this year added his name to an illustrious list of great Australian champions when he won the 1500m freestyle at the Open Nationals in Sydney.

Jarrod, who made the move from the famed Hunter Club to the AIS in Canberra, had earlier clinched a place in the Australian team for next month's FINA World Championships in Shanghai after finishing fifth in the 200m freestyle.

Brother and sister combinations have formed a special part of Australia's swimming history with the Konrads kids John and Ilsa and Glenn Housman and his late sister Trudy the most notable – all winning National distance freestyle gold medals.

The Killeys – born and bred in the coal mining surrounds of Newcastle and under the tough tutelage of Shane Arnold – could well be the next family affair to hit the headlines.

Erin's time was less than half-a-second outside 1996 Olympian Stacey Gartrell's long-standing Australian record of 15:58.61, set at the Australian Short Course Championships in Darwin after the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

The time also saw Killey surge past seven Olympians and a who's who of Australia's recent distance stars – Anna McVann, Sarah Paton, Hayley Lewis, Janelle Elford, Donna Procter, Julie McDonald and Melissa Gorman – taking 15 seconds off her previous best time.

Defending champion Jessicah Ashwood – sister of noted NSW distance swimmer Christopher Ashwood – took the race out over the first 200m but Killey started to wind up over the next 200m and come the 400m mark had taken control of the race.

At the 800m turn of the 60-lap journey Killey had opened up a commanding lead, splitting 8:30.98 to Ashwood's 8:36.35.

Ashwood finished second in 16:11.44 with City of Perth WA swimmer Brianna Throssell taking home the bronze in 16:36.08.

The Killey connection will now line up for a busy three days of competition in Adelaide with Erin entered in the 200, 400 and 800m freestyle and Jarrod lining up for a final hit out in the 200 and 400m before heading off for the biggest meet of his life in Shanghai.

Meanwhile, tonight's other timed final saw 2009 World Championship team member Robert Hurley continue on a successful comeback from illness, which forced him home from last year's Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

The 22-year-old from the Wests Illawarra Club in Wollongong won the National title for 800 metres freestyle in 7:54.13 from 16-year-old team mate Jarrod Poort (7:59.57) with Nunawading's ever-present Adam Parslow taking the bronze in 8:02.14.

Hurley, coached by Ron McKeon, missed the Australian team for Shanghai after missing the 200m final at the Open Championships and finishing third to Ryan Napoleon and Thomas Fraser-Holmes in the 400m freestyle and second to Napoleon over 800m – clearly not at his best.

The talented, lanky middle distance freestyler will set himself for a big showing throughout out the rest of the meet in the 200 and 400m freestyle events and onwards towards his return to Adelaide next year for the Olympic Trials.

SWIM NOTE: It should be noted that Australia's Melissa Gorman has swum the fastest unofficial short course time by an Australian for 1500m of 15:51.75, swum at a Brisbane meet in 2010 which has not been recognised after she swam in a race against boys, with a vacant lane between them.