For the second year in a row, the Victorian Open Water Touring Team has returned from the recent 2019 McDonalds Queensland Open Water Championships with some impressive results, including 8 medals (3 more than last year) and national qualifying times.
Eight athletes were selected based on their performances at the 2019 National Open Water Championships in Adelaide earlier this year. Returning to the squad were 2018 team members, Robbe Dilissen (Western Melbourne Propulsion) and Luke Matthews (Bayside). They were joined by Dylan Van Breen (TigerSharks), Malachy Brennan (Haileybury Aquatic), Mia Foster (TigerSharks), Milla O’Brien (Bayside), Mya Winnell (Haileybury Aquatic) and Dominique Hart (Loreto Aquatic).
The team was once again led by coach Angus Barnes (Flyers), who was assisted by Kelly Stubbins (Haileybury Aquatic). Over 35 Victorian athletes from various clubs also travelled north to compete at the Championships.
Arriving on Friday afternoon, the squad quickly entered race preparation mode, ensuring they were familiar with the course at Lake Kawana and acclimatising to the weather. Unlike last year where the weather was mid 30 degrees during race time, the forecast this year was wet and windy.
The boys were first to hit the water on Saturday morning, making the most of the calmer conditions. All four tried to stay with the lead group for as long as possible however, after a few kilometres, they all found comfortable positions in the race. Luke Matthews was the star performer, claiming Silver in the 5km, Bronze in the 7.5km and Silver in the 10km events for the 17-year-old age group.
Dylan Van Breen continued his great form as part of the PhysioHealth Victorian State Team. He won a Bronze medal in the 7.5km and Silver in the 10km event for 16-year-old age group.
Robbe Dilissen battled away all day against the older boys, eventually winning the Gold medal in the 7.5km event for 19 & over. A great effort by Robbe. Congratulations also to Malachy Brennan who swam his first ever 7.5km event and, in the process, swam under the national qualifying time for the 5km event.
In the girl’s events, Mya Winnell swam a season best time in the 5km (1:12.52) while teammate Milla O’Brien practised her feeding strategy for the first time, getting some quality practice in the lead up to nationals. Dominique Hart won a Bronze medal in the 5km 18-year-old event, holding off strong challenges by Queensland swimmers late in the race.
The swim of the day however, as voted by the coaches, went to Mia Foster. Mia swam herself to a Bronze medal in the 7.5km event for 15-year-old girls, following her race plan to near perfection and smashing her 5km personal best in the process to finish in 1:07.44. Well done Mia.
With the individual races over, the weather turned sour as thunderstorms rolled over the coast bringing lightning and a premature end to the competition. This meant no relays were swum.
In other Victorian results, William Bowden (Flyers) won Bronze in the 16-year-old 10km event and Katelin Van Breen (TigerSharks) won Silver in the 18-year-old 5km event.
These performances will boost the athlete’s confidence as they head into the open water season and act as great preparation for nationals in January. A big thank you to our sponsors Evo and Funky Trunks and Funkita for the team’s gear and also to the McAuley and Bowden families from Flyers for suppling marquees for the event