Records Fall at Australia State Championships

Photo Courtesy: M. Randazzo

By Dave Crampton

Records for both New Zealand and Australian swimmers fell at the Victoria state age group championships in Melbourne, spearheaded by a South African swimmer who now resides in New Zealand.

More than 1000 swimmers – including 60 New Zealanders and a team from Japan – competed at these champs this year.

Luan Grobbelaar, 16, who competed for South Africa in this year’s Commonwealth Games, broke records in both the 400m IM and 200m IM, clocking 4:23.95 and 2:04.35. His longer event broke the Victoria all comers record by nearly five seconds, but his seed time of 4:20.24 is faster than Mitch Larkin’s Australian national age group record. His 200 IM was just under the all comers record and 0.04 shy of the Victoria Age Group record. Grobbelaar won all but one of his seven events, including the 200m butterfly, heading off two other New Zealanders for the top three in the heats. However only two New Zealanders could swim the final due to the two visitor’s rule.

Australian Evan Chee, 13, was also in record-breaking form, smashing a 19-year record in winning the boys 100m butterfly, lowering the all comers mark of 59.16 to 59.09 and finishing three seconds ahead of Nunawading team mate Tak Heo, who touched in 1:02.86. Chee also dominated the 400m IM, winning in 4:45.06, more than 20 seconds ahead of Heo.

Olivia Lefoe, 15, also claimed records, winning the 100m backstroke in 1:02.26, lowering the all comers and state record marks slightly in one of five wins. Maggie Skewes, 14, also had an impressive meet, winning the 100m and 200m backstroke and the 100m, 200m, and 400m freestyle events.

Stone Ma, 13, broke an all-comers record clocking 24.79 in the boys 50m freestyle. He also swam another record in the 100m freestyle preliminaries, clocking 53.96, under the 54.61 record. Also impressive were Silas Harris and Brendon Smith, both who have competed at Junior Pan Pacific ( JPP) championships. Smith,18, was a JPP 400m freestyle silver medallist, but Harris, 17, managed to head him off in that distance in Melbourne, clocking 3:53.37, also winning the 200m fly, 100m, 200m, 400m, and 1500m freestyle events. Smith took out the 200m and 400m IM and the 200m backstroke.

Young swimmers from the Itoman club in Japan were also quick. Haru Okawa, 12, managed a 2:33.94 in the males 200m breaststroke, nearly 13 seconds clear of the field.

New Zealand’s Bre Crawford, 15, broke New Zealand age group records; in clocking 1:10.81 in the 100m breaststroke for the win she also broke the 50m record at 33.02. She also took out the 200m breaststroke, and 100m butterfly in 1:01.78, and was runner up in the 50m freestyle behind Lefoe, who clocked 26.21.

Other Australian state championships are held this week. The New South Wales age champs started on December 14, and the Queensland champs start on the 15th.