Minna Atherton Pips Madison Wilson To Remind Seniors Of The Junior Threat Ahoy

Minna Atherton, courtesy of Swimming Australia

World champion Emily Seebohm watching on from afar, illness having ruled out a trip down the coast to Sydney, her 15-year-old training partner at Brisbane Grammar, Minna Atherton, was there at NSW Championships in Sydney today to remind the other Australian on the World titles 100m backstroke podium last August just how tough it is…

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World champion Emily Seebohm watching on from afar, illness having ruled out a trip down the coast to Sydney, her 15-year-old training partner at Brisbane Grammar, Minna Atherton, was there at NSW Championships in Sydney today to remind the other Australian on the World titles 100m backstroke podium last August just how tough it is… […]



In advance, I feel sorry already for the third place finisher of the w100 back in the Aussies trials who could challenge for Rio medal, and yet can’t swim it.

Bad Anon

Is Emily Seebohm automatically qualified for 100back/200back for Rio in view of her Kazan performances?

Craig Lord

No, Bad Anon. Australian trials are for all – no preselection.


ASW, a wee bit premature with that pronouncement aren’t we ? IF the situation arises that there are 3 sub 59sec in that final then it has some credence ….. at this point that is far from a certainty.

Overall a mixture of the good, the satisfactory …… and the “concerning” ….. all in significant dosages.


NSW State Opens also includes competition structure for swimmers with disabilities which is a great thing if treated respectfully. In tonight’s multiclass W100bck Nuswims’ Maddison Elliott S8 won bronze in a time of 1:23.86. This is just shy of 6 seconds over her PB 1:17.95 which she set at IPC World Championships July 2015 winning Gold.

Ironically the time she swam tonight is 1.56s speedier than her IPC World Championships July prelim backstroke swim of 1:25.42 as an S9. This swim was 7secs slower than her entry time yet she was reclassed back down to S8.

Elliott has proven that she consistently under performs at domestic competitions. I don’t see evidence of any other swimmer disabled or otherwise doing what she does and why would they?

How can you swim so slowly domestically yet crack out World Records Internationally?


There clearly may be some real issues with regards to the IPC classification regime, its operation and loopholes via which it may being manipulated. C

However, I really would prefer that aggrieved parties (and/or their mouthpieces) would actually go public with their concerns and to the mainstream media if officialdom is putting up a brickwall IF they have the evidence.

The practice of engaging in what could be described as “sniping from the sidelines” on various swim forums frankly does little for their cause as it comes across all too easily as “people with axes to grind or personal agendas with regards

Craig Lord

The mainstream media has been approached CW (I think we see these comments because of genuine frustration … in the face of the same sort of FINA-style ‘look away and ignore’ approach to uncomfortable truths) – and I believe that on the way to Rio we will see exposure of some aspects of para-sport that the IPC will have to deal with (and should be dealing with right now as a matter of urgency, as far as I can see).


Fair points, Craig. There is enough smoke to suggest this issue is real …… and in all honesty, not isolated to one particular swimmer/squad or country. Once someone figures out how to ‘game the system’ successfully in any endeavour, it doesn’t take long for others to cotton on ….. much as some “snipers” would have us think differently.

I still feel my point is valid with regards to their methods. Rather than gaining converts to their cause, more often than not the tone of their “contributions” serves to create a negative perception of them as “snipers” or worse.

Craig Lord

I understand CW and think your points valid when I look at some of the comments out there. Hopefully we will get some sensible mainstream media discussion on an issue that has not been handled at all well, with federations at risk of being found to have been complicit in working the system to boost medal counts and create para champions out of unfair competition.


Absolutely, Craig. Methinks the fertiliser is likely to hit the fan in many circles post Rio both with regards to international sporting orgs and national bodies …… and it would be most surprising if IPC competition isn’t part of the equation.

As regards AUS, my instinct tells me that things are likely to be very ugly post Rio……. with a number of “programs”/sports being effectively “binned” with funding slashed or even cut off and all matter of dirty laundry being aired. Very few sports/orgs are likely to escape unscathed or unbloodied.

lillian finch

Genuine frustration is exactly the point Craig.
The IPC and NPCs are well aware of the problem with cheating and they are in possession of evidence, but continue to turn a blind eye and in some cases are obviously complicit. These so called “athletes” continue to benefit financially, as well as receiving all the usual accolades, and the IPC and NPCs enable and condone this. Team mates are well aware that if they speak out publically it will be the end of their careers. There is a mountain of evidence but it needs an independent party to present it to mainstream media.


Thank you Commwombat. I made (or at least I thought I did) a valid comment on a swimmers performance. I researched IPC World Championship times and NSW State open times stated my opinion and asked a question based on my albeit quick research. I don’t consider myself a ‘sniper’. I do believe that elite para swimming does have a place in mainstream competition but only if it has ethics and integrity. And, I am questioning what I have sat through these last few days. A podium position for swimming 6 seconds over your personal best – think about it.

Incidentally, which bucket would you place your continual referral to certain Australian swimmers as ‘serial tourists’ the ‘I come in peace bucket’ or the ‘watch your back sniper bucket’? I read your comments, mostly with great interest, but I cringe regarding the ‘tourist comments’ as I regard them as unfair and personal but I certainly don’t feel the need to belittle you for your opinion or spend time wondering if you have a personal agenda. If I had something of interest to add your comments and engage in the conversation, I would but I certainly would not comment purely to shut you down. You are as entitled to your opinions as I am.

Lastly, I have written to NSW swimming and Swimming Australia regarding the results from this weekends ‘elite’ open competition. I certainly don’t expect to receive a response.


I don’t follow paralympians a ton, but even with light knowledge of the sport, you get the sense that the classification system is not overly hard to manipulate in its current form.

A part of me would like to see Amy VanDyken make a serious go at disabled sport for the sole reason that I suspect the whining from some quarters over her presence would be truly epic.

Craig Lord

I think something is beginning to move, Lillian…


Brad, firstly with regards to your point re “underperforming in domestic races”. It’s actually quite non-specific and whilst I know what you’re getting at with regards to swimmers (either of their own volition and/or under instruction) deliberately going slow in classification swims in order to be classified in the lower (and presumably easier) class.

However, “sandbagging” or deliberately not going all-out in events is incredibly prevalent. Take a look at the able bodied events at this very meet; take a look at the corresponding Pro Series meet in Orlando, even FINA World Cup meets. When there is nothing “tangible” on the line, any number of agendas are in play.

With regards to “tourists”, I am not the creator of the term but rather am using one that has been in common usage by AUS Olympic officials (including some swimming) to describe those whose international performance is in marked inverse proportions to their domestic efforts. I’ve b een a team official at a number of games ( in a different sport) and heard the term used quite widely.

It’s NOT one that I suddenly lump upon some poor unfortunate after one sub-standard meet but rather after 3-4 years where there is a clear “form-line” of non-performance when it counts. A missed taper, rookie “nerves”, illness can explain one but when the pattern continually repeats then one has to ask the question ….”will they ever ?” and whether the “one-shot saloon” selection policy is best serving the sport.

Some swimmer DO turn around their careers after somewhat equivocal early years; Larkin & Ashwood cases in point but the few on which the label HAS been endowed regrettably fit the description to a T. I know nothing negative about them as people and I make no aspersions in that direction but rather questioning their capacity to do their job.

In most profession sports, and international swimming is now professional, those whose performance levels fail to measure up do not have their contracts renewed ……. yet these individuals continue to get a plane ticket to the major events. Somehow, that does not speak loudly of “best practice”.

Hope you now understand where I’m coming from. I fully understand if you do not agree but hope you can understand that I’m not just being a nark for the sake of it


There is something fundamentally wrong with IPC classification system if it’s so easily and blatantly manipulated.


Commonwombat thanks for the clarification. I understand the tourist term better and apologise. I have however taken a second look at some results – and all of Elliotts and I just don’t see the same pattern with any other swimmer, not just disabled swimmers. Tonight Elliott swam 5s over her PB in the 100 free, an event in which she is apparently the World Record holder. Elliott began the meet swimming some 12 seconds over her 200IM PB. I do understand that heavy training cycles, age, gender, mental strength and taper etc affect performance and it isn’t a case of producing a PB every time one doves in but 12 seconds over 200m, 5 seconds over 100m and 2s over 50m over 3 days? Why not just stay home if you are not going to even try to perform at your own state titles or use the event for race practice? And what of team mates and the coach? It just isn’t very professional at a state level meet in my opinion. If the practice of deliberately swimming way over ones true ability is commonly accepted within the sport when families are turning out in support then that practice needs to be addressed. Our other family sport is NFL. I cannot imagine ever having to sit through hours of no effort from the players. Why should swimming be different?


Fully understand what you are saying, Brad but I feel that State titles are a long way from being ideal bases for your argument. For some swimmers they ARE most certainly their “ceiling” with regards to career trajectory and they approach, and are prepared with that in mind.

For the elite level swimmers, who knows what their agendas may be. It could vary from one meet to another. Looking at the able bodied results and mixed within the excellence were a goodly number of sod awful performances from national team swimmers (either current or of recent vintage) ….. and I mean really “off”.

With regard to your comment about team sports and “not trying”. Whilst I’m not sure it fully equates to “players not trying”, the practice of “tanking” is far from unknown in a number of professional team sports where there is an end of season draft for new talent.

Team who no longer have any chance of making finals/play offs very often then look to finish as low on the table as possible in order to get the best draft picks. The morals and ethics of such a practice is certainly debateable but it is a reality.


Ok commonwombat I can appreciate your comments however Maddison Elliott is a World Record holder and something of a celebrity in NSW. She was crowned NSW athlete with a disability, is a past recipient of a SAHOF scholarship and is a current member of the Australian Swim Team. I guess I somewhat stupidly expected more from the Australian swim team swimmers regardless of the level of the meet. I’ll sign off now having learned a thing or two but will follow Ms Elliotts performances through Trials and then on the International stage.


And correspondingly, I respect where you are coming from. It WILL be interesting to see how Elliott, and others “implicated”, may perform at Trials ….. particularly their first swim.

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