Green Light For Gold Coast To Host Australian Age and Open Multi-Class Nationals After COVID Lockdown

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BACK ON DECK: Australia's top Age Group and Multi-Class Open swimmers to converge on the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre. Photo Courtesy Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.

Green Light For Gold Coast To Host Australian Age and Open Multi-Class Nationals After COVID Lockdown

Swimming Australia has today confirmed that its 2021 Australian Age Championships, which includes the Australian Multi-Class Open Championships, will proceed as planned on the Gold Coast – starting Monday (April 5).

The news is music to the ears of swimming clubs, swimmers, coaches, families and fans, , following positive information provided by the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk M and the lockdown ceased as of 12 Noon – on the eve of Australia’s Long Weekend Easter Holiday.

Brisbane and surrounding areas had been in a three-day lockdown after a COVID-19 outbreak in Greater Brisbane and in Byron Bay (in northern NSW) last weekend.

The only swimmers who will not attend the meet at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre at Southport, will be those from Western Australia who are unable to travel to the East Coast due to a hard border closure with Queensland.

Swimming WA has organised an event for those athletes to have a racing opportunity and Swimming Australia has announced it will provide medals to any WA swimmer who swims a podium place time – to acknowledge those performances, similar to visitor medals.

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COLE CLASSIC: Six-time Paralympic golden girl Ellie Cole will be amongst the who’s who in the Australian Multi-Class Championships. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

Australia’s Tokyo hopeful Paralympians including Rio 2016 gold medallists Brenden Hall, Lakeisha, Ellie Cole and Tiffany Thomas-Kane will headline the two-day Multi-Class Nationals with Swimming Australia to confirm a 20-strong team to attend the World Series event for Classification in Lewisville, Texas, USA. This event is taking place with classification on April 12-14 and competition April 15-17.

The Age Championships will also feature teenagers who also have their sights set on the Olympic Trials in June and who have also entered the five-day Australian Open Championships, starting on the Gold Coast on April 14.

Some of the stand-out age groupers will be led by emerging Queensland butterflyer Elizabeth Dekkers (Newmarket Racers) who set a new Australian and Australian Age All-Comers record of 2:07.82 for 16-year-olds at the Queensland State Championships last December – making her the fastest Australian for g=the year and stamping her with the ninth fastest time in the world for 2020.

It is also under the Swimming Australia and Fina A qualifying time of 2:08.43.

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CATCH ME IF YOU CAN? : Bond Uni’s emerging sprint star Flynn Southam will put the bite on the freestyle fields. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Others to watch will include Bond University’s Flynn Southam, who set a new National 15 years 100m freestyle Age record of 49.65 – faster than Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers at the same age while Rackley’s emerging distance star Sam Short will be one to watch in the 400, 800 and 1500m freestyles.

In a release issued later this afternoon, Swimming Australia acknowledged that the delay in confirmation over the past 48 hours had caused uncertainty.

The Statement said: “Swimming Australia is pleased the championships can take place responsibly under the approved Swimming Pool & Aquatic Centre Industry Plan.

“We wanted to ensure we had the most up-to-date information and confirmation from Queensland Health before making any final decisions.

“With the lockdown ceasing at midday today and the Queensland Premier stating Greater Brisbane will no longer be classified as a hot spot.

“While a number of potential alternatives were considered during the thorough decision-making process, based on the advice of the Queensland Government and our Chief Medical Officer, we have made the decision to proceed as planned.

“With the Queensland Government giving outdoor events with a CovidSafe plan the green light, Swimming Australia wants to give these athletes the race experience they have been craving and deserve.

“Being an outdoor event where social distancing may not always be possible, athletes, coaches, officials and staff will all be required to wear face masks onsite at all times other than when racing or warming up.

“Spectators will be required to wear masks unless seated in their seating location.”

Swimming Australia also advises that all attendees and their families familiarise themselves with the current exposure sites as listed on Queensland Health and follow the advice provided.

While Swimming Australia will enact its CovidSafe plan over the duration of the competition and hold the meet as safely as possible, it urges everyone to assess the risks and make their own decision on whether they wish to attend.

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