Fitzhenry swims strongly in Age Nationals final

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The future looks bright for Sydney University’s swimming program after Age Group Gold Squad representative Francesca Fitzhenry swum strongly in her first Australian Swimming Age Championships final, finishing in 10th place in the Girls 13 Years 200m butterfly at the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre in Adelaide on Thursday night.

Francesca backed up a sizzling swim in the heats of the 200m butterfly (2:27.87) on Thursday morning, with her second fastest swim ever in the final (2:29.41).

Ranked 24th in Australia coming into the heats, before qualifying seventh fastest for the final, Francesca once again motored through her first 100m (setting another personal best for this mark) before running out of steam in the closing stages.

Despite this, newly appointed Sydney University Swimming Program Age Group Gold Squad Coach Leanne Thompson – who accompanied Francesca to Adelaide – was very pleased with Francesca’s swim.

“Her first 100m was probably just a tad quick, which meant that she used up too much of her energy for the second 100m,” explained Thompson.

“However, it was an excellent learning experience tonight and she will come back in a year all the better for it.”

In the years to come it is hoped that Francesca will progress to being part of the new Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness (SUSF) and NSWIS Swimming Program of Excellence middle distance squad, which is under of stewardship of former New Zealand Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games coach Scott Talbot.

Talbot is the program’s Senior Coach and middle distance specialist. Working alongside him is Head Coach and sprint specialist Grant Stoelwinder. Stoelwinder has also coached Australian Olympic and Commonwealth Games swimmers, including guiding Eamon Sullivan to a 50m freestyle world record in 2008.    

In further good news for Sydney University swimming, new recruit Kazimiri Boskovic finished fourth in Australia in the final of Tuesday evenings Boys Years 17-18 400 IM final (4:29.30). His swim in the final was over three seconds faster than his heat earlier in the day (4:32.34).    

The 17 year old has been training with Talbot’s squad for the last eight weeks but is yet to officially swim for Sydney University.

Swimming a personal best time Kaz started his race well with a strong 100m butterfly. Turning in third position, he followed that up with a very strong backstroke leg before starting well in the breastroke 100m. Unfortunately he was unable to finish as well in the final freestyle leg, finishing in fourth place.

Kaz’s new coach, Scott Talbot, was wrapped with the improvement that his swimmer has shown over the past two months under his stewardship, paying tribute to his superior work ethic at training.

“The 400 IM is the most gruelling of races, with 100m of each of the strokes in a row, the athletes have to be in superior shape aerobically and have the skills in all strokes and toughness to get through and finish the gruelling race,” explained Talbot.

“It’s especially tough for Kaz because he is only 17, and competing mainly against 18 year olds. I was particularly pleased with his performance in the backstroke leg, which was his weakest leg a year ago. With plenty of hard work Kaz was able to record the fastest split of the whole race in the backstroke section, which was our plan.”

Kaz will now turn his attention to the National Swimming Championships (open’s) which also take place in Adelaide in two weeks’ time.

The future looks bright for Sydney University swimmers, with Thompson confident that there will be even more Sydney University representatives at the Australian Age Championships and that the Sydney University Swim Club junior program is heading in the right direction.

“We have a very talented group of junior swimmers coming through who will look to compete at the national level in the coming years,” explained Thompson. 

Thompson is hopeful that up to four swimmers will gain berths to next year’s Australian Age Championships, which would be a phenomenal achievement for Sydney Uni.