After some outstanding performances at the 2016 Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Championships, 31 athletes have been nominated to the Australian Paralympic Committee for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Australia has competed in swimming at every Summer Paralympic Games, winning a total of 391 medals – 119 gold. This proud tradition of success looks to continue at the Rio Games which will take place from 7 – 16 September 2016.
The squad has a great mix of youth and experience, with three-time Paralympians Matthew Levy, Jeremy McClure and Rick Pendleton nominated alongside rising stars such as 14-year-old Tiffany Thomas Kane and 15-year-old Timothy Hodge.
The Aussie swimmers have thrown a warning sign out to the rest of the world this week, breaking three world records and showing they have a lot more left to give when Rio comes around.
On the first night of competition, dual Paralympian Ellie Cole thrilled the crowd and surprised herself when she broke the world record for the 50m freestyle S9. The 24-year-old who is also the current world champion in the event, swam 28.75 seconds to smash the record which has stood since 2008.
“For 50m freestyle - leg amputees aren’t very good at it,” Cole said. “Natalie du Toit held the record before and to follow in her footsteps has been a dream of mine since I was a really little girl. I am absolutely speechless with that time.
“I’ve been on the Australian swim team for 10 years now and performances like that just really remind you of what it is all about. No matter how long you swim for or are an elite athlete for there are still surprises like that so I am really happy with that swim.”
After winning gold in world record time at last year’s IPC Swimming World Championships, Sydney schoolgirl Tiffany Thomas Kane has gone from strength to strength and shown she will be a real threat when she makes her Paralympic debut in Rio.
The 14-year-old school student broke her own world record time with 43.06 in the 50m breaststroke SB6 and also won the multi-class 200m individual medley.
“It’s been a really good meet,” Thomas Kane said.
“I have been so surprised because I didn’t think I would go that well. Doing the times I wanted to do and going that well, it was great.”
“Rio is going to be an amazing experience. It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be hard work but I’ll have my friends on my side and it’s going to be so fun.”
Three-time Paralympian Jeremy McClure raised the bar in the men’s 50m backstroke S11, setting a new world record of 32.22. The 28-year-old from Canning Lightning will hope to take his blistering pace into the Paralympics.
Australia has been allocated 36 slots for the swimming competition at Rio 2016. Swimming Australia will make the five additional nominations to the Australian Paralympic Committee over the coming weeks.
Tiffany Thomas Kane
Rick Van Der Zant
*All world records are subject to ratification by IPC Swimming.