Commonwealth Games gold medallists Leiston Pickett and Ben Treffers are among a 19-strong Australian swim team named today for the 2017 World University Games, the Summer Universiade, in Taipei City, Taiwan from August 19-30.
Treffers (Australian National University) re-located to the Gold Coast in January to train at Somerset under Sydney 2000 Olympic relay gold medallist Ashley Callus – who is one of five coaches named on the team.
The 25-year-old gold medallist in the 50m backstroke at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and bronze medallist in the event from the 2015 world championships in Kazan, won the event for the fourth time at the recent Hancock Prospecting Australian Championships in Brisbane.
He was also a close up fourth in the 100m backstroke, won by world champion Mitch Larkin in an event that has strong depth in the Australian program.
Callus sees the World University Games as a major stepping stone for Treffers as he sets his sights on next year’s Commonwealth Games.
“I think Ben was looking for a change and saw what we did with James Roberts for Rio and he came to us in January – which wasn’t a lot of time to prepare for the Trials,” said Callus.
“I operate differently to what he is used to; (it takes time) working with my philosophies which I developed as an athlete and am putting into practice as a coach.
“Making the Commonwealth Games team is our major goal and we’re shooting high – we are not just there to make up the numbers.
“Ben only just missed out (on the world championship team) so it has been an absolute step in right direction.
“It is encouraging for Ben and myself that Swimming Australia has put faith in both of us, to pick Ben for this team and to back his potential.
“For us now it’s full steam ahead – Ben is a fantastic member of our squad, he is a real positive influence and he brings the kind of culture we are looking to build here with Ben and James (Roberts).
“He really adds strength to the group – I believe the opportunity to race at the World University Games will be another great stepping stone.
“We are both looking forward to it – making the team is full circle for me – it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was swimming myself and now I’m on as a coach,” Callus said.
Fellow Gold Coaster, Pickett (Griffith University), who won the 50m breaststroke in Glasgow in 2014, finished a close up third in a hard-fought 100m breaststroke final in Brisbane to also put her very much in the hunt for next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Pickett, who is coached by World University Games team coach, Glenn Baker at Southport Olympic, is one of four swimmers on the team from Griffith University.
She will be joined by fellow Griffith students and distance swimmers Kai Edwards and Josh Parrish (TSS Aquatics) and Budapest world championship team member, Kiah Melverton, medallist from 2015.
Nineteen-year-old Parrish (15:13.05) won bronze behind Olympic pair Mack Horton and Jack McLoughlin in the 1500m freestyle while 18-year-old Edwards (15:47.93) finished eighth.
For Parrish it was certainly another step in the right direction – a seven second improvement on his fourth place finish at last year’s Olympic Trials.
Melverton and her Hungary-bound open water team mate Kareena Lee (University of Sunshine Coast) will provide the Australian women’s team with a solid middle distance/distance freestyle pair.
Lee won the 1500m freestyle at the Australian championships, finished fifth in the 800m freestyle and sixth in the 400m freestyle a week after winning the 2km Ocean Swim at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships.
Showing her versatility, Melverton, under coach Chris Nesbit at TSS Aquatics qualified for Budapest in the 5km open water event before continuing her improvement in the pool – taking silver in the 400m freestyle in 4:09.80; bronze in the 400 IM, fourth over 800m and seventh in the 200m freestyle.
She burst onto the international swimming scene in Windsor, Canada last December where she finished with the bronze medal in the 800m freestyle at the FINA World Short Course Championships.
Another member of the Windsor team, Brayden McCarthy (Bond Swimming) will join Treffers in a strong men’s team after encouraging swims at the Nationals, which saw him win the 50m butterfly gold medal, beating Olympian David Morgan.
McCarthy, who trains under Richard Scarce at Bond and alongside Cam McEvoy and Alex Graham, also finished third to Olympians Morgan and Grant Irvine in the 100m butterfly and fourth to McEvoy in the 50m freestyle.
Another budding freestyler on the team is 21-year-old Will Stockwell (Commercial/University of Queensland) who was third to Olympians McEvoy and James Roberts in the 50m freestyle and will also look to improving his 100m as well.
Distance swimmer Ollie Signorini (Carlile/University of Technology, Sydney) comes on to the team after winning the coveted open surf race at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, which saw him beat Rio Olympic marathon swimmer Jarrod Poort.
The strong all-round team under the guidance of head coach, Olympic gold medal coach Rohan Taylor also includes Melbourne Vicentre backstroke pair Hayley Baker (University of Melbourne) and Sian Whittaker (Deakin University) who were third and fifth respectively in the 100m backstroke and third and fourth in the 200m backstroke at the Australian Championships.
2017 World University Games Team
|First Name||Last Name||Age||Club||State||Tertiary Institution|
|Nicholas||Brown||21||Western Sprint||WA||University of Western Australia|
|Kai||Edwards||18||TSS Aquatics||QLD||Griffith University|
|Alex||Milligan||19||UWA West Coast||WA||University of Western Australia|
|Josh||Parrish||19||TSS Aquatics||QLD||Griffith University|
|Ollie||Signorini||20||Carlile||NSW||University of Technology Sydney|
|Will||Stockwell||21||Commercial||QLD||University of QLD|
|Benjamin||Treffers||25||Somerset||QLD||Australian National University|
|Hayley||Baker||21||Melbourne Vicentre||VIC||The University of Melbourne|
|Gemma||Cooney||17||Brisbane Grammar||QLD||University of QLD|
|Abbey||Harkin||18||St Peters Western||QLD||Griffith University|
|Kareena||Lee||23||Mountain Creek Mooloolaba||QLD||University of Sunshine Coast|
|Kiah||Melverton||20||TSS Aquatics||QLD||Griffith University|
|Emily||Washer||20||Carlile||NSW||University of New South Wales|
Note: Jemma Schlicht has withdrawn due to injury