No Raining On Lakeisha Patterson’s Parade as Paralympic Champion Pours On The Pace On The Gold Coast

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POURING ON THE PACE: Paralympic champion Lakeisha Patterson braved pouring rain to win the 400m freestyle at the Australian Multi Class Championships on the Gold Coast. Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Defending Paralympic and World champion Lakeisha Patterson (S9, Belgravia Swim, QLD) powered through the pouring rain on the Gold Coast last night to start her Tokyo Paralympic Games campaign in style.

Charging through wintery conditions, Patterson turned up the heat at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre to claim gold in her pet event on the opening night of the Australian Mult-Class Championships – the women’s 400m freestyle Multi-Class.

Lakeisha Patterson

FIST FULL: Lakeisha Patterson chasing Tokyo gold. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Patterson posted a time of 4:39.55 (840 points) – only a second off her gold medal World Championship time from London in 2019 to beat home fellow Rio team mates and medallists Katja Dedekind (S14, USC Spartans, QLD) (4:39.50, 801 points) and Monique Murphy (S10, Yeronga Park, QLD) who posted a time of 4:51.05 for 792 points.

Speaking after the race, a delighted Patterson – who was excited to be back racing – said she was pleased with the time she posted.

“It’s the fastest I’ve been in a little while, so it’s a good position to be in considering the past year we’ve all had, and it can only go up from here leading into trials,” Patterson said.

“Seeing where I was in 2019 and to only be a second off that is really promising, and not being fully tapered or rested, putting in the hard yards while and where we can, especially last week there was a lockdown and having to swim in the ocean and still being able to put that together is really exciting.

“I know I’m going to put everything I have into these next couple of months leading into trials and the Paralympic Games.”

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SURF TO SWIM: Former WA surf star Tom Gallagher after his first Australian Championship win on the Gold Coast  last night. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Taking home his first Australian title, Gold Coat-based former Western Australian surf lifesaving ironman Tom Gallagher (S9, Somerset, QLD) was right at home in the blustery surf-like conditions to win the men’s 400m freestyle Multi-Class event in an impressive performance on debut.

The Australian lifesaving medallist, formerly from City of Perth in WA clocked an eye-catching 4:10.17 (997 points), to lay his foundation as a future star.

The newcomer, who came to the Gold Coast three years ago to pursue his dreams of becoming an ironman, taking out the Coolangatta Gold Short Course event, claimed gold ahead of reigning Paralympic champion and experienced campaigner, Brenden Hall (S9, Belgravia Swim, QLD) who clocked 4:20.20 for 886 points.

Gallagher made a name for himself as one of WA’s best young surf lifesavers in ironman, board and swimming events, even adding the U19 Coolangatta Gold short course Ironman crown after arriving at Currumbin from City of Perth to continue his surf career.

But continuing his swimming prowess, Gallagher has linked up with Somerset coach, Sydney 2000 Olympic golden boy, now coach, Ashley Callus as he pursues a Paralympic career.

Gallagher will be amongst the Australian team heading to the US later this week seeking Classification at the World Series event in Lewisville, Texas – from April 12-14 with competition from April 15-17.

If approved, Gallagher could be a real find for Australia’s Paralympic ranks.

The event saw a dead-heat for bronze between Liam Schluter (S14, Kawana Waters QLD) and Alexander Tuckfield (S9 SLC Aquadot NSW), who both posted times equalling 868 points.

Rowan Crothers

ALL POWER: Rowan Crothers muscleD his way to victory in the 50m freestyle. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

In the men’s 50m Multi-Class splash and dash, Rowan Crothers (S10 Yeronga Park, QLD) tackled the wind, head on to muscle his way to the finish in a scorching 23.63 (942 points).

Backing up from the 400m event, Gallagher (S9) touched in second to secure his second medal for the night in 25.14 (870 points). Jacob Templeton (USC Spartans, QLD) placed third in 24.69 (830 points).

Even through the teeming rain Crothers was clearly beaming as he let the victory wash over him post-race, saying: “It feels really awesome, the conditions here aren’t amazing, there’s a lot of rain and the wind is going in the opposite direction but I’m not really about making excuses.

“To me it’s more like the odds are stacked against me and against everyone and I’m only swimming point two off my lifetime best – I’m just over the moon, I’m so happy.”

Meanwhile, former Port Macquarie girl Paige Leonhardt (S14, Uni of Queensland, QLD) added two gold medals to her list of achievements on night one, taking out Australian titles in the 100m butterfly Multi-Class (1:0.60 874pts) and 100m breaststroke Multi-Class (1.15.16 902pts).

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RIGHT ON KEW: Victorian rising star Col Pearse on the fly. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Col Pearse (S10, Kew, VIC) also notched up two medals on Monday evening, taking home the men’s 100m butterfly Multi-Class 58.08 (836pts) ahead of William Martin (S10, Nudgee College, QLD) 58.28 (827pts) and Benjamin Hance (S14, USC Spartans, QLD) 58.31 (815pts) and the boys 17-18 50m Age butterfly.

The action continues tomorrow at 9am (local time). You can catch every race live from the Gold Coast Swimming & Aquatic Centre on Amazon Prime Video or via SwimTV.

Click here for all results, including MC Age events.

Note: All Paralympic races were swum as Multi-Class races, with athletes from all classifications competing in the same event, with the Para-swimmer with the highest point score crowned the winner.

The Multi-Class Point Score (MCPS) has been developed to provide a simplified way for swimmers and coaches to measure and compare performances. The MCPS is based on the World Record (WR) times for each classification, but also takes into account weightings for non-Paralympic events that are not raced by other countries around the world.

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