Sydney Uni Elite Athlete Program scholarship holder and multi-class Sydney Uni Swim Club (SUSC) member Sarah Hilt has finished with a bronze medal at the Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships in Alberta, Canada, after a series of personal best swims last week.
Athletes from around the Pacific Basin – such as USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand and South Africa were joined by swimmers from Australia, including Sarah Hilt, who was competing after making her first National team.
Hilt, who was diagnosed with meningococcal septicaemia in October 2004, and has only just started swimming competitively earlier this year, reached the finals for each of her four events and broke numerous personal bests (PB).
Day 1 saw Hilt swim a 2.32 second PB in the preliminaries of the S5 50m freestyle. She backed up later that day in the finals with another 0.19 second PB to finish fourth in 51.50 seconds.
On Day 3 Hilt swam in the preliminaries of the S5 100m freestyle and finished with an incredible 4.33 second PB in a time of 1.50.46. Incredibly in the evening finals, she finished fourth in 1.47.63, breaking her previous PB by another 2.87 seconds – that’s more than eight seconds in two swims. Hilt said “I couldn’t believe it when I saw the clock.”
On Day 4, the S5 50m backstroke was Hilt’s focus. She was a little slower than normal in the preliminaries, finishing in 1.09.37. In the evening’s finals she finished fifth in 1.08.34, just short of her PB.
On the final day of competition, Day 5, Hilt competed in the S4 100m breaststroke, her least favourite stroke and the newest stroke in her arsenal. Hilt when into this event with the lowest of expectations having never swam this event in a long course pool. She finished in 2.45.31. Hilt rallied for the evening finals, finishing in 2.41.72 – allowing her to finish third.
Hilt’s SUSC Coach Vanessa Smith was full of praise, saying “Sarah has to be congratulated. What a fantastic effort for someone who only started serious training earlier this year. All the hard work and dedication has paid off. The SUSC looks forward to watching Sarah claim more medals in the pool and hopefully a berth at next year’s Paralympics in London.”