Junior swimmers take on the world
A group of 42 young swimmers from across the country have been selected to represent Australia on junior national teams this year following the 2014 Georgina Hope Swimmers Foundation Australian Age Championships.Swimming Australia will send swimmers to the Oceania Championships in New Zealand this May and then the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii in August.
The Oceania Championships team, which will race in Auckland from May 16 to 23, was selected based on the highest ranked junior swimmers in Australia and will see talented teenager Kyle Chalmers spearhead the team alongside World Championship representative from 2013, Ami Matsuo.
After winning a silver medal in the 50m butterfly at the Australian Swimming Championships in Brisbane and then taking a total of four Australian age titles and two national age group records in Sydney, Chalmers proved his potential at both National benchmark meets.
The South Australian sprinter was particularly impressive in the boy's 15 years 100m freestyle when he blitzed the field, taking the win in a time of 49.68, eclipsing the previous record held by Ian Thorpe and hitting the wall almost two seconds clear of his closest rival.
New South Wales swimmer, 17-year-old Matsuo also impressed at both meets and after making her debut in Barcelona last year with the senior swim team, Matsuo will this year join Chalmers in Auckland to race as part of the Oceania team.
Matsuo finished the 2014 Georgina Hope Swimmers Foundation Australian Age Championships with two silvers and a bronze and also made both the 100 and 200m freestyle finals at the Australian Swimming Championships in Brisbane.
Swimming Australia Performance Director, Michael Scott said he was impressed by the high standard of swimming in Sydney.
"With a total of eight age group records broken in Sydney, I was impressed with the next generation of swimmers coming through. As the focus moves now to international competition, it will be important for them to once again raise the bar at their major meet overseas," said Scott.
After topping the medal table in Dubai in 2013, the Junior Pan Pacs team will see six World Junior Championship representatives: Blake Jones, Chelsea Gillett, Jake Baggaley, Shayna Jack, Tianni Gilmour and Monique Rae once again compete for bragging rights at an international level.
With the likes of Mack Horton, Jordan Harrison and Keryn McMaster all breaking onto the senior team this year after competing at the Junior Pan Pacs in 2012, the meet is an important step on the development pathway to the senior swim team.
Swimming Australia's Performance Pathway Manager Jamie Salter said the Oceania Championships and the Junior Pan Pac's have and will continue to act as a stepping stone to the senior team.
"Both of these junior international competitions often lead to a longer journey in the sport and we will continue to work with this group of emerging swimmers, developing them for the championships this year and towards future World Championships and Olympic Games success for Swimming Australia," said Salter.
"For some this will be their first experience of an international meet so it will be a great opportunity to race against other international swimmers and compare where they are at the end of the season."
The head coach for both the Junior Pan Pacs and the Oceania Championships will be Glen Beringen, who last year led the Australian World Junior representatives to the top of the medal table.