The distance freestyle events are to Australian swimming what Bondi Beach is to Sydney (a very surprising crowd draw?!). Gould, Rose, Hackett, Perkins, and more earned the right to call themselves Olympians by swimming through the pain for 16 or 30 laps.
Good news for distance fans – Australia is poised to medal in both the mens’ and womens’ events thanks to Mack Horton, and Jess Ashwood.
Mack Horton – Horton is ranked second in the world in the 1500m freestyle event with a PB of 14:39.54, behind only Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri. Horton will also be competing in the 400m freestyle and the 4 x 200m freestyle relay after a standout trials in Adelaide in April.
Horton narrowly missed selection for the London 2012 Olympics after finishing second in the 1,500 metres freestyle at the trials four years ago. Since that disappointment, Horton has gone on to win silver at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and then despite a parasitic bug he won bronze in the 800m freestyle (a non-Olympic event) at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan.
Jess Ashwood – Ashwood is also ranked second in the world in her preferred event, the 800m Freestyle with a PB of 8:18.14. Ashwood unfortunately sits behind the super-human Katie Ledecky in the rankings, who swims the distance 12 seconds or more faster.
Jessica Ashwood secured her place on her second Olympic team with outstanding swims in both the 400m and 800m freestyle events at the selection trials in Adelaide.
In 2012, she made her Olympic debut in London, finishing 7th in her 800m freestyle heat and 20th overall. Her breakthrough meet was the 2015 World Championships where she placed third in the 400m freestyle setting a new Australian record of 4:03.34.
Ashwood is also inspirational for another reason; watch the video below for more…
Acknowledgement: Some words taken from http://rio2016.olympics.com.au/ to ensure I got the facts right!