Australia has finished atop the medal tally at the World Para-swimming World Series in Melbourne, VIC, after amassing 16 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze across the three-day international competition.
On the final night of action at Melbourne Sports & Aquatic Centre, Timothy Hodge (S9) extended his winning streak, collecting his third gold of the meet in the men’s 50m backstroke (30.08, 825 points). Compatriots Rod Welsh (S10) and Harrison Vig (S9) claimed silver and bronze respectively in 29.64 (712 points) and 32.15 (676 points).
Speaking post race, Hodge said his focus coming into the Series was to hone in on his race plans and technique.
“It’s a really good feeling to come out here and do some good times and produce some good swims, and even better, to get a couple of gold medals,” Hodge said.
“I feel like the times I do now have a little bit of an influence on the times I’ll do later this year, but for now, the ultimate goal is just to get the race plans right and to get the techniques and see what little bits need improvement – it;s really important to get these things right heading into Tokyo [the 2020 Paralympic Games].”
Ricky Betar (S14) and Jarrod Dyer (S14) collected silver and bronze medals respectively for Australia in the men’s 50m butterfly. Betar, who made his Dolphins debut at last year’s World Para-swimming Championships, hit the wall in 27.66 (725 points), with Dyer just whiskers behind in 27.96 (702 points). The USA’s Evan Austin (S7) won gold in 30.79 (786 points).
Fly specialist Taylor Corry claimed the spoils in the women’s 50m butterfly, clocking 29.97 (897 points) to New Zealand Paralympian Sophie Pascoe’s (S9) 28.74 (805). Corry’s Dolphins teammate Ruby Storm (S14) captured bronze with her time of 31.15 (799 points).
Pascoe returned to the pool less than an hour later to win her second gold medal of the night – this time, in the women’s 50m backstroke (32,30, 894 points). The 27-year-old beat WA’s Madeleine McTernan (S14), who touched in 33.42 for 639 points, and New Zealand’s Tupou Neiufi (S8), with 33.59 for 624 points.
Liam Schluter (SM14) bagged his first medals of the Series, gold in the men’s 200m individual medley (2:12.96, 896 points) and men’s 200m freestyle (1:56. 35, 915 points). In the medley, silver went to four-time Paralympian Matthew Levy (SM7) with a time of 2:37.69 (873 points), and bronze to the USA’s Robert Griswold (SM8), who stopped the clock in 2:27.13 for 862 points.
The women’s 200m freestyle also saw an Australian trifecta, with McTernan claiming her second medal of the night. Touching for gold in 2:16.98 (708 points), she triumphed over Jade Lucy (S14), who placed second in 2:17.56 (699 points), and Corry in third with a time of 2:19.78 (666 points).
Ahmed Kelly (SM3) and Grant ‘Scooter’ Patterson (SM3) battled it out in their mixed 150m individual medley. In the end it was Kelly who triumphed with silver in 3:06.96 – under the qualifying time for Tokyo – and 629 points. Patterson finished in 3:11.78 (583 points), with New Zealand’s Cameron Leslie (SM4) collecting the gold (2:37.76, 747 points).
“It [the race] felt really hard,” said Kelly. “We’re in a bit of a tough phase of training at the moment, so just to try and back up with a good endurance block and just to be able to race – we don’t really have the speed at the moment, it;s all about the grind and doing my best.
“It’s always a great feeling when you can get under the qualifying time, so it’s all about just doing that again at Trials [the 2020 Australian Swimming Trials]. We’ve still got a few more months ahead of us and a few more laps to grind it out, which is great.”
In the women’s 200m individual medley, Katherine Downie (SM10) notched up her third medal of the Series, securing silver behind the USA’s Anastasia Pagonis (SM11). Downie recorded a time of 2:33.90 (835 points), while Pagonis pencilled in 2:54.23 (873 points). Tiffany Thomas Kane (SM7) touched for third in 3:03.86 (769 points).
By Swimming Australia
Photo with thanks to Swimming Victoria