Sharing their love of gold on the first night of the World Para-swimming World Series in Melbourne, six Dolphins claimed top spot on the podium in their maiden international hit-out of 2020.
First off the blocks was Paralympian Brenden Hall (S9), who after taking home the gold medal in the men’s 400m freestyle last year, backed up his performance to claim consecutive wins in his pet race. Recording a time of 4:15.95 (931 points) – smashing his 2019 time of 4:22.88 – the 26-year-old triumphed over the USA’s Robert Griswold (S8) and fellow Australian Ben Popham (S8). Griswold finished the race with a time of 4:33.76 (854 points) while Popham touched in 4:35.12 for 841 points.
“I’m really happy with the time, it’s the fastest I’ve swum in the last 18 months, so I’m really stoked with that,” Hall said.
“I went back to the drawing board and worked out some new strategies and had a look at what was going to work and what wasn’t going to work, and thankfully it’s all starting to come together. It’s the start of the year and I’ve got a few good solid months to go, so I’m looking forward to seeing what those new tricks bring.”
Recent world champion Lakeisha Patterson added another medal to her decorated career, this time taking home silver in the women’s 400m freestyle. Hitting the wall in 4:40.42 (833 points), ‘Lucky’ finished just ahead of compatriot Monique Murphy (S10), who recorded 4:46.88 for 827 points and bronze. The USA’s Anastasia Pagonis (S11) took the gold in 5:18.12 (857 points).
Rowan Crothers (S10) broke the 51-second barrier in the men’s 100m freestyle to claim gold. Recording a time of 50.94 and a point score of 996, the 22-year-old charged to the wall in front of New Zealand’s Cameron Leslie (S4), who clocked 1:24.07 (904 points), and Popham (57.99, 893 points).
2016 Paralympian Tiffany Thomas Kane (SB7) fought hard against New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe (SB8) in the women’s 50m breaststroke, with her counterpart from across the ditch narrowly claiming victory. Only two points separated the pair in the end, with Pascoe powering to victory in 36.05 (727 points) ahead of Thomas Kane in 43.13 (725 points). Pascoe’s compatriot, Nikita Howarth (SB7), nabbed third in 43.48 (708 points).
“It was a good race, a tough race and I was only two points from getting gold, so I’m happy with the time. It’s always close with these 50m races,” said Thomas Kane.
“It’s really good to see some competitors I’ll be racing later on in Tokyo hopefully, so seeing how their times are going and how they’re progressing will give me some good hints for my time.”
In the women’s 100m freestyle, Jasmine Greenwood (S10) showed her class to win gold in 1:03.40 (813 points). Aussies completed the podium with three-time Paralympian Ellie Cole (S9) recording 1:04.12 (810 points) for silver and Katherine Downie (S10) scoring 1:03.76 (799 points) for bronze.
Timothy Hodge (S9) improved on his Series performance from 2019, jumping from second place to the coveted top of the podium in the men’s 100m butterfly. Clocking 1:01.77 and 867 points, Hodge beat out Dolphins teammates Braedan Jason (S12) and Col Pearse (S10). Jason notched 810 points with a time of 1:00.98 to take silver, while Pearse finished just behind on 793 points with a time of 59.11.
In the corresponding event for the women, Paige Leonhardt (S14) came out on top to claim gold in 1:06.80 (866 points), while Taylor Corry (S14) and Ruby Storm (S14) won silver and bronze in 1:07.22 (850 points) and 1:10.49 (737 points) respectively.
Jake Michel (SB14) and Ahmed Kelly (SB3) placed first and second in the men’s 50m breaststroke. Breaststroke specialist Michel touched in 30.99 (801 points) to snatch the gold ahead of Kelly who finished in 54.63 (657 points). Rounding out the top three was Oscar Stubbs (SB13), who pencilled in a time 33.49 (597 points) to win bronze.
By Swimming Australia
Photo with thanks to Swimming Victoria