Following-on from their gold medal success at the Commonwealth Games, Bond University swimmers Alexander Graham and Elijah Winnington have been named in the Australian squad for the 2018 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Tokyo next month.
At last week’s Pan Pac trials in Adelaide, Elijah Winnington secured two gold medals in the 200m and 400m men’s freestyle events, beating the likes of Kyle Chalmers (in the 200m) and Jack McLoughlin and Mack Horton (in the 400m) to secure his first open-age national titles and his place in the Australian Dolphins Pan Pac squad.
Teammate Alex Graham also secured his spot on the Australian team for the Tokyo Pan Pacs with some fantastic times in multiple events – including two Personal Bests (PBs) in the 100m freestyle and 100m backstroke events and a bronze medal in the men’s 200m freestyle at last week’s trials.
The dynamic duo made headlines together earlier this year when they claimed gold as members of the Australian men's record-setting 4 x 200m freestyle relay team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Under the guidance of Head Coach Richard Scarce and Director of Swimming Kyle Samuelson, the Pan Pac trials proved a great meet for Bond University Swimming Club with Elijah, Alex, Jenna Strauch and Sam Young – who are all Bond students and Georgina Hope Rinehart Swimming Excellence Scholarship recipients – all achieving PBs in numerous events.
Two more Bond University students, and Gina Rinehart Swimming Excellence Scholarship recipients, Maddie Groves and Laura Taylor also made the Australian team for the Pan Pacs which are taking place in Tokyo on 9-14th August.
Coach Scarce said the plan for his squad at the Pan Pac trials was to hit the ground running from Day One, which is exactly what they did with Alex and Elijah medalling in the 200m, Jenna setting two new PBs and Sam swimming his best 200m freestyle for some time.
“Alex was leading the 200m freestyle most of the way, but Kyle Chalmers finished strongly - though Elijah was able to hold him out and win gold, so we were off to a good start for the meet, which is what we wanted,” Scarce said.
“It’s a big confidence booster for Elijah and Alex making the Australian team. It’s been a very busy year for them with the Comm Games and then having to back-up for the Pan Pacs. Achieving strong individual swims at this event is vital for their preparation for the World Championships next year, and of course the Olympic Games in a couple of years’ time.
“The Pan Pacs is a big event, its an opportunity to race the United States and Japanese swimmers who are very tough competitors, as are we, and there are a lot of countries there racing who are keen to show their wares.
“With Alex and Elijah training together, they’re pushing each other and picking each other up when they might be feeling a bit flat – which helps them both tremendously. The team dynamics means a lot and Kyle and I are lucky to have a good group who believe in us and believe in each other.
“We’ll just get in there and do our very best in Tokyo. I think they’ll do very well - they’ll race their hearts out.”
Kyle Samuelson, Director of Swimming at Bond University praised Scarce and his swimmers on their determination and discipline, in what has already been a big year for Australian swimming.
“Full credit to Richard and our Pan Pac squad for staying focussed on a somewhat unchartered year, requiring them to prepare for multiple competitions - including a Commonwealth Games here on the Gold Coast,” he said.
“Having both swimmers PB at Trials is a testament to the processes in place and the vision Bond’s elite swim program is working towards.”
Winnington, who recently turned 18, said he’s excited to see what he can do at the Pan Pacs.
“Rich and I have set goals and I’d really like to hit those times, first and foremost, but it will be cool to see how I go against those other countries - whether I medal or final – and of course I also have to race against a lot of the other Aussies who are very fast,” he said.
“I’m hoping to achieve my personal best and I’d also like to make the 4 x 200m relay with Alex which is a really fun experience.
“Swimming is such an individual sport, but when you are part of a team in a relay, it’s always a good feeling. I have a great training partner in Alex who pushes me every day and we provide each other with constant competition.
“The Pan Pacs will be a great opportunity to see what the rest of the world is doing, to line up against those guys and see how we perform.”