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Australia’s top Para-swimmers are set to write a new chapter in the nation’s decorated history at the Paralympics after a 32-strong Team, featuring 14 Commonwealth Games alumni, was confirmed to compete at the Tokyo Games.
The Australian Paralympic swimming team features 15 debutants along with some of the most successful swimmers in Australian Paralympic history, including four-time Commonwealth Games medallist and six-time Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Cole OAM, Gold Coast 2018 gold medallists Matthew Levy OAM and Brenden Hall OAM.
Among the 15 debutants are two recipients of the inaugural 2019 class of the Kurt Fearnley Scholarship, Jasmine Greenwood and Ricky Betar.
The Kurt Fearnley Scholarship is a partnership between Commonwealth Games Australia and the Carbine Club of NSW, named in honour of Para-sport legend Kurt Fearnley AO to provide financial support to talented individual para-sport athletes in NSW.
The initiative receives program support from the New South Wales Institute of Sport and is also fully endorsed by Paralympics Australia.
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Greenwood continues to make tremendous gains in the pool since making her international multi-sport event debut at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games as a 13-year-old, to now reaching her first Paralympic team at just 16.
At the 2021 Australian Swimming Trials in Adelaide, Jasmine Greenwood (SM10) beat her own Australian record in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley Multi-Class when she flew home in 2:29.93, going under the qualifying time to book her ticket to Tokyo.
For 18-year-old Ricky Betar making the Tokyo team was a result of the hard work he continued through an interrupted 2020 year of competition.
In 2019, at World Para Swimming Championships in London, Betar was a member of the Australian team that won the bronze medal in the Mixed 4 × 100 m Freestyle Relay S14.
A talented multi-disciplined swimmer, Betar set qualifying times in the 100m Backstroke S14 and the 200m Freestyle S14 events in Adelaide.
Also among those named were two-time Gold Coast gold medallist Lakeisha Patterson OAM, who won six medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympics including two gold, and Gold Coast team member Tiffany Thomas Kane OAM, who won four medals in Rio including one gold.
Gold Coast medallists Paige Leonhardt, Jesse Aungles, Ashleigh McConnell, Tim Disken, Tim Hodge and Liam Schluter along with GC2018 team member Emily Beecroft have all booked their spots on the starting blocks in Japan.
The team also features Glasgow 2014 gold medallist Rowan Crothers who is off to his second Paralympics after competing at the Rio 2016 Games.
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Levy, 34, who co-chairs the CGA Athlete Advisory Group, is the most senior member of the Team and will now prepare to compete at his fifth Paralympics, having started his Paralympic journey at Athens in 2004. The youngest member of the Team is 15-year-old Isabella Vincent, who qualified in front of her home crowd at the 2021 Australian Swimming Trials in Adelaide.
With the announcement of the swimming team, the current Paralympic team heading to Tokyo features 17 Commonwealth Games alumni members.
The Para-swimming Team for Tokyo was introduced by Australian Team Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin at the completion of the trials.
“What we know from previous Games is that swimming often sets the barometer for other sports in which we compete,” McLoughlin said.
“In Rio, our 36 swimmers brought home 29 medals, including nine gold, an inspiring outcome that formed the foundation of Australia’s top-five finish at the Games.
“This particular group has faced a lot of adversity in the past year or so. Yet, through their resilience and desire, and with exemplary support from Swimming Australia, they will head to Japan as ready as they could possibly be to compete at their best.”
Paralympics Australia Chief Executive Lynne Anderson said: “Any conversation about Australia’s incredibly proud history at the Paralympic Games will always include swimming.
“It’s one of our truly national sports and one in which generations of our Para-athletes have genuinely excelled.
“Since the first Paralympics, in Rome in 1960, Australian swimmers have won 420 medals, including 128 gold, 150 silver and 142 bronze. We sit fifth on the all-time gold medal tally in Para-swimming and third in total medals won, behind only Great Britain and the United States.
“It’s a remarkable record and when I look at the calibre of the swimmers we’ll have representing us in Tokyo, I have no doubt we’ll see a strong, cohesive and dedicated group of athletes giving everything they’ve got to make the nation proud, just as their predecessors did.”
Australian Paralympic Swimming Team
|Name||Age||State||Paralympics Experience||Commonwealth Games Experience|
|Jesse Aungles||26||SA||2nd (2016)||2014 – Men's 200m medley Para-Sport SM8 – Silver; 2018 – Men's 200m medley Para-Sport SM8 – Gold|
|Emily Beecroft||21||VIC||Debut||2018 – Women's 100m Freestyle Para-Sport S9|
|Ellie Cole||29||NSW||4th (2008, 2012 & 2016)||2010 – Women's 100m Freestyle Para-Sport S9 – Bronze, Women's 100m Butterfly Para-Sport S9 – Bronze; 2018 – Women's 100m Backstroke Para-Sport S9 – Silver, Women's 100m Freestyle Para-Sport S9 – Bronze|
|Rowan Crothers||23||QLD||2nd (2016)||2014 – Men's 100 m freestyle S9 – Gold|
|Katja Dedekind||19||QLD||2nd (2016)|
|Timothy Disken||24||VIC||2nd (2016)||2018 – Men's 100m Freestyle Para-Sport S9 – Gold, Men's 100m Breaststroke Para-Sport S9 – Gold|
|Jasmine Greenwood||16||NSW||Debut||2018 – Women's 100m Breaststroke Para-Sport SB9, Women's 200m Individual Medley Para-Sport SM10|
|Brenden Hall||28||QLD||3rd (2012 & 2016)||2014 – Men's 100m Freestyle Para-Sport S9 – Bronze; 2018 – Men's 100m Backstroke Para-Sport S9 – Gold, Men's 100m Freestyle Para-Sport S9 – Bronze|
|Timothy Hodge||20||NSW||2nd (2016)||2018 – Men's 100m Backstroke Para-Sport S9 – Silver, Men's 100m Breaststroke Para-Sport SB8 – Silver|
|Ahmed Kelly||29||VIC||3rd (2012 & 2016)|
|Paige Leonhardt||20||QLD||2nd (2016)||2018 – Women's 100m Breaststroke Para-Sport SB9 – Silver|
|Matthew Levy||34||NSW||4th (2008, 2012 & 2016)||2018 – Men's 50m Freestyle Para-Sport S7 – Gold|
|Ashleigh McConnell||25||VIC||2nd (2016)||2018 – Women's 100m Backstroke Para-Sport S9 – Bronze|
|Lakeisha Patterson||22||QLD||2nd (2016)||2014 – Women's 100m Freestyle Para-Sport S8 – Bronze; 2018 – Women's 100m Freestyle Para-Sport S9 – Gold, Women's 50m Freestyle Para-Sport S9 – Gold|
|Grant "Scooter" Patterson||32||QLD||2nd (2012)|
|Liam Schluter||22||QLD||2nd (2016)||2018 – 200m Freestyle Para-Sport S14 – Silver|
|Tiffany Thomas Kane||19||NSW||2nd (2016)||2018 – Women's 50m Freestyle Para-Sport S8, Women's 50m Butterfly Para-Sport S7|
|Ashley Van Rijswijk||NSW||Debut|
|Rachel Watson||29||QLD||2nd (2016)|
With thanks Paralympics Australia and Swimming Australia.