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Horton stars in 1500m thriller

20 January 2013

SWIMMING: Australia is set to witness a resurgence in distance swimming after Mack Horton had the swim of his life to win the Australian Youth Olympic Festival 1500m freestyle.

 “I wanted to swim 15 minutes, or under it,” Horton said after the race in which he clocked 15 minutes 4.87 seconds, “but I’m happy with that.”

The time was a personal best for the young Victorian who came agonisingly close to breaking the 15-minute barrier that looms ahead of him. It was also well under the previous AYOF record of 15:23.94, set by Travis Nederpelt in 2003.

Following in the footsteps of Australian greats such as Kieren Perkins and Grant Hackett, Horton left his competitors behind from the first lap.

“They’re my idols,” he said of 1500m Olympic champions Perkins and Hackett. “Probably Hackett even more so because Perkins was a bit out of my time.”

Coached by Craig Jackson, and a scholarship holder at the Victorian Institute of Sport, Horton also won gold in the 400 metres freestyle and the 4 x 100m freestyle as well as picking up silver in the 4x200m and bronze in both the 100m and 200m.

At just 16, he is an accomplished swimmer across both the sprint and distance events and is the 15 years Australian Age Champion in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 1500m freestyle.

In 2012 he swam 15:14.73 at the Olympic Trials to set an age record in the 1500m, just missing Olympic selection for London. He then went on to lower his time to 15:07.95 at the Victorian Age Championships – his personal best time until the AYOF meet.

With another few seconds knocked off his time this week, the future certainly looks bright for the young swimmer.

“Rio is always in the back of my mind,” Horton said. “I’m straight back into it,” Horton said of his rigorous training schedule that will see him taking no well-earned. “Tomorrow afternoon in fact.”

Japan’s Yuto Sato won silver with a time of 15:09.17 while Katsuki Hashiguchi finished with bronze on 15:24.21.

Alice Wheeler

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