Powering through in pouring rain and wintery conditions, reigning World Para Champ, Lakeisha Patterson (S9), turned up the heat at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre to claim gold in her pet event – the Women’s 400m Freestyle Multi-Class.

Pinching the first medal on night one of the 2021 Australian Multi-Class Swimming Championships, Belgravia’s Patterson posted a time of 4:39.55 (840 points) – only a second off her gold medal world champs time in 2019 – to beat out fellow Dolphins Katja Dedekind (S13) from USC Spartans (4:39.50, 801 points) and Yeronga Park’s Monique Murphy (S10) who posted 4:51.05 and 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.”

Taking home his first Australian title, local athlete Tom Gallagher (S9) from Somerset GC won the Men’s 400m Freestyle Multi-Class event. Hitting the wall in a highly impressive time of 4:10.17 (997 points), the newcomer claimed gold ahead of reigning Paralympic Champ and experienced campaigner, Belgravia’s Brenden Hall (S9) who clocked 4:20.20 and 886 points. There was a tie for bronze between Kawana Waters’ Liam Schluter (S14) and SLC Aquadot’s Alexander Tuckfield (S9), who both posted times equalling 868 points.

In the Men’s 50m Multi-Class splash and dash, Yeronga Park’s Rowan Crothers (S10) 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 for second to secure his second medal for the night in 25.14 (870 points). USC Spartans’ Jacob Templeton 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.

“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,” Crothers said.

“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.”

Uni of Queensland’s Paige Leonhardt (S14) added two gold medals to her list of achievements on night one, pinching Australian titles in the 100m Butterfly Multi-Class and 100m Breaststroke Multi-Class. Kew’s Col Pearse also notched up two medals on Monday evening, taking home the Men’s 100m Butterfly Multi-Class and the Boys 17-18 50m Butterfly in the Age event.

Note: All para races were swum as multi-class races, meaning athletes from all classifications competed in the same event, with the para-swimmer 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.

By: Swimming Australia
Posted: 6 April 2021