The 2016 Victorian Open Championships, Victoria’s premier event of the year in swimming, took place on the 22-24 January 2016 at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.

A stack of Australian Dolphins Swim Team members competed, with one eye on the road to Rio. The Championships acted as a tune-up meet for some and part of the comeback trail for others. Former World Champion and Olympic silver medallist James Magnussen opened his summer of swimming with a win in the men’s 100m freestyle finals, after a nine month break from racing while he recovered from shoulder surgery.

Also impressive on the opening night of finals and making her debut on the Australian Dolphins Swim Team at the Perth Aquatic Super Series in just a few weeks’ time, 18-year-old Georgia Bohl, proved her potential after clocking a speedy 1:06.98 for the 100m breaststroke. Bohl’s time was quick enough to move up the ranks in the Australian all-time top ten for the event from 10th to sixth overall, mixing it with the best in the business and putting her name down for serious contention in the race to Rio.

There seems to be no stopping dual World Champion Mitch Larkin who won twice to take two titles on the second night of finals. Larkin demonstrated his versatility when he started the night with a win in the men’s 200m individual medley. Then not long after, Larkin was back in the water for a crack at his pet event, the 200m backstroke. In typical Larkin form, the St Peters Western swimmer was streaks ahead of the field and touched the wall over two seconds clear of his fellow World Championship teammate Josh Beaver, while the bronze medal went to Keelan Bridge of Sydney University who finished over five seconds behind Larkin.

In the women’s 100m backstroke it was Larkin’s training partner Madison Wilson stopped the clock at 59.22 to get the better of local Victorians Belinda Hocking and Hayley Baker, setting the only sub-one-minute time in the field. Wilson, the silver medalist from this event at the 2015 World Championships, along with Hocking were originally disqualified from the event after the heats and were then re-instated after officials analysed the video footage.

Olympian Alicia Coutts announced her return to form with a win in the women’s 200m individual medley. Coutts dug deep to hold off a chase from fellow London Olympic teammate Blair Evans and take first place in a time of 2:12.05, with both girls only just off the Olympic A qualifying time of 2:11.39.

Image courtesy of Reniel Torres

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