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Horton, 14, On 15:37.71 Over 30 Laps

Apr 19, 2011  - Craig Lord

Australia: A month before his 16th birthday, Grant Hackett Olympic and world champion-in-waiting, clocked a very impressive 15:30.63 as he finished 5th at Australia's Olympic trials. All eyes were on the top three: Daniel Kowalski, Kieren Perkins, on his way to the successful defence of his Olympic crown, and Glen Housman as they finished within 4.6sec of each other. 

A year later, Hackett took up a lead role in Australian 1500m racing with a 15:03.67 victory at nationals, at the start of a 11-year domestic rule that would end only with retirement. 

Today at Australian age group nationals in Adelaide, Mack Horton, of Melbourne, clocked a dominant 15:37.71 for victory - in the race among 14 years olds. Closest to Ian Pope's pupil was New Zealand's Michael Mincham (16:13.72) and Queenslander Sam Horton (16.24.58).

Hackett, coached by Denis Cotterell at Miami for the bulk of his career and success, ended his swimming days under Pope's guidance. Now Pope has a new 30-lap sensation, Horton wiping 10sec off the previous record for his age-group, while racing 40sec inside what it took to win the title last time round. 

If Horton evokes memories of Hackett, then Cameron McEvoy, on 49.70 over 100m free yesterday, recalls a young Ian Thorpe, who had held the 100m mark at 49.80. McEvoy, 16, picked up two more gold medals today, though he (in keeping with the rest of the universe) was some way off the sensational 3:41.83 clocked by Thorpe at the same age at Pan Pacs the year after having become the youngest world champion in history, over 400m in Perth.  

The Gold Coast teenager racing for Southport claimed the 400m in 3:57.87, ahead of Hugo Morris (3:59.26) and Ben Schreiner (3:59.50), before returning to the fray later in the session to take out the dash all-comers record in 22.76 ahead of Robert Gerlach (23.43) and Zac Whenuaroa (23.46).

The 50m free all-comers mark had stood at 22.86 to Te Haumi Maxwell since January this year, while the Ausssie youth record standas yet to the same swimmer in 22.48 from March last year. Maxwell clocked 23.09 at Australian senior nationals earlier this month and was not in the race today.

Age alone is no clear indicator of where a swimmer will end up, of course, history providing examples either way. Alex Popov (RUS) was in his 19th year before he cracked 23sec in the 50m freestyle and within a year was European senior champion; at 20 Camille Lacourt (FRA) had a best 200m backstroke time of 2:09.25; at 15, Kieren Perkins had a sensational best 1500m time of  15:19.97; at 11 years of age, Yu Xin and Li Xuanxu (CHN), clocked 8min 47.08sec and 8:47.74 respectively over 800 metres freestyle. In 2010 and 2011, Li is on 8:23, while Yu is no longer in the race: her best of 8:31.34 was established at the age of 13. A year later, at 14, she swam 8:48.99 and no swim has been registered for her since.

Russia: at senior nationals in Moscow, Veronika Popova set a national record of 54.22 to win the 100m freestyle 0.48sec inside the 2009 national standard of Anastasia Aksenova. In other action, Yana Martynova took the women's 200m butterfly in 2:12.05; Evgeny Korotyshkin, who trains with the ADN Project in Italy, clocked 52.42 to win the 100m butterfly ahead of Nikita Konovalov, on 52.66; Stanislav Donets won the 100m backstroke on 53.96, just 0.12sec ahead of Vitaliy Borisov; and Ilya Volovnik claimed the 400m medley in 4:21.45.