ACU dives deep at the Australian Swimming Championships
Published: Thursday 20th April 2017
ACU students have been the centre of attention for all the right reasons at the 2017 Australian Swimming Championships held at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre (7-13 April ). With most of the 31 swimmers represented in ACU’s Elite Athlete and Performer Program (EAPP) competing at the national championships there was plenty of action. Olympic 400m champion and Bachelor of Commerce student, Mack Horton, rewrote the history books after he claimed the trifecta in the 200m, 400m and 1500m freestyle events while Strathfield student Matthew Wilson finally broke through to his first major Australian team after winning the 200m breaststroke. Paralympic superstar Ellie Cole and 19-year-old Abigail Lihou both made the Paralympic squad with impressive performances.
Relief and satisfaction could be seen in Matthew Wilson’s victory celebration just moments after he touched the wall to claim the Australian Championship. Last year, the 18-year-old Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science student missed out on both the Olympic and World Short Course squads by the smallest of margins. The Australian Sports reporter, Nicole Jeffery wrote “No one has beaten on the door of the Australian team more persistently without reward in the last year than teenage breaststroker Matt Wilson”.
On Monday, the persistence finally payed off as Wilson swam a personal best time of 2:09.29 in the 200m breaststroke. This places the teenager from the Blue Mountains second in the world rankings and puts him in a strong position ahead of the World Championships in Hungary later this year.
On the second night of the Hancock Prospecting Australian Championships, Horton came from lane eight to win the 200m freestyle in a thrilling finish. Melbourne ACU student, Mack, was the slowest qualifier in the all-star line-up which included Olympic 100m champion Kyle Chalmers. Jack Cartwright led the charge on the first lap followed by defending champion Cam McEcoy (Bond University) leading into the 150m turn. As the race came to a close both Olympic champions came out to play as Mack and Kyle battled for the finish line with Horton out-touching Chalmers by 0.04 seconds.
Horton, the Olympic champion, finished off the national titles in style winning the hard fought 1500m. Mack now becomes the first man since Grant Hackett in 2008 to claim the distance trifecta after winning the 200m, 400m and 1500m freestyle events. The 20-year-old is yet to decide if he will compete in the 200m at the World Championships in Hungry later this year.
Brisbane Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science student Abigail Lihou qualified for her first major international para-swimming squad. The 19-year-old won both Multi Class 100m Backstroke and 50m butterfly events. Abigail joins one of Australia’s most decorated Paralympians and fellow ACU student, Ellie Cole in the 20-strong Para Dolphins squad headed to the world championships in Mexico later this year.
ACU’s Elite Athlete and Performer Program (EAPP) Officer, Ceran Nilsen went along to the championships to see the student athletes at work. Ceran supported, cheered on and spoke with many of the ACU students including: Clyde Lewis, Bradley Woodward, Abigail Lihou, Ellie Cole, Andrew Kennedy, Will Seebohm, Cameron Preval, Elyse Woods, Alexandra Good and Lachlan Carter. Ceran said it was brilliant to watch the ACU students in action at the pool, “It is very rewarding to see the student athletes succeed knowing their unique challenges in and out of the pool. I’m very proud of the athletes and I’m happy to be able to support them via the EAPP to achieve their non-swimming goals.”
The Elite Athlete and Performer Program (EAPP) helps balance the demands of being an athlete or performer with academic pursuits to excel both on and off the field. ACU boasts over 360 student athletes and performers across more than 70 disciplines. Members of the EAPP have access to academic support, early timetabling and financial support, among other sporting or performing arts related opportunities.