Ba­gley fin­ishes big week with dual na­tional caps

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport - By ANTONY STE­WART

TOWNSVILLE swim­mer Alexandra Ba­gley capped a re­mark­able pre-Christ­mas week by qual­i­fy­ing to rep­re­sent Aus­tralia at two in­ter­na­tional meets next year.

Ba­gley earned the right to com­pete at the 2007 Ju­nior Pan Pa­cific Cham­pi­onships i n Hawaii and the 2007 World Cham­pi­onships in Melbourne fol­low­ing an out­stand­ing per­for­mance at the Aus­tralian open wa­ter swim­ming cham­pi­onships.

Ex­ceed­ing even her own ex­pec­ta­tions, the 17-year-old claimed a sil­ver medal in the 10km event, with her time of 2hrs 9mins 5secs see­ing her qual­ify by the nar­row­est of mar­gins.

With lim­ited open wa­ter rac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence at her dis­posal in the lead-up to the meet, Ba­gley, a Gar­dens Swim­ming Club mem­ber, headed to Melbourne with lit­tle idea of what to ex­pect.

But, fu­elled by the news she had earned an OP1 af­ter grad­u­at­ing from St Mar­garet Mary’s Col­lege, she proved right at home in the longer ver­sion of the sport.

‘‘It was my first time com­pet­ing in open wa­ter so it was a big sur­prise,’’ Ba­gley said of her qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

‘‘It was a close fin­ish so I wasn’t sure where I came and then my coach s a i d I came sec­ond and qual­i­fied for the worlds.

‘‘I was stoked, but it took a while to soak in.’’

Ba­gley had a sim­i­larly close fin­ish to her 5km race less than 24 hours later, but this time missed out on qual­i­fy­ing by just one sec­ond.

She com­pleted the choppy course in 1hr 7mins 20secs to pick up the bronze medal.

With the Ju­nior Pan Pa­cific Cham­pi­onships j u s t 1 3 days away Ba­gley has thrown her­self straight back into train­ing and has hopes of du­pli­cat­ing her re­cent ef­forts in Hawaii.

‘‘I’m guess­ing I’m go­ing to be step­ping it up (train­ing) at this stage,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s my first Aus­tralian team so I don’t know what to ex- pect but I hope I can fin­ish in the medals.’’

Gar­dens team­mate Penny Pal­frey also fin­ished a good year in the wa­ter on a high note when she came sec­ond in the women’s 25km open wa­ter swim.

The 44-year-old, who boasts the English Chan­nel and Cook S t r a i t c r o s s i n g s a mo n g s t h e r 2 0 0 6 achieve­ments, com­pleted the event in 7hrs 4mins 8secs.

Townsville’s Alanna Chatfield also took on the gru­elling course but, like the ma­jor­ity of com­peti­tors on the day, was un­able to fin­ish.

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DOU­BLE WHAMMY . . . Alexandra Ba­gley has qual­i­fied for two na­tional teams

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