Pallister dominates in pool, but it’s only the start


By Drew Beveridge

Cotton Tree’s Lani Pallister won five gold medals at the National Age Championships in Adelaide.

While many people spent Easter Sunday relaxing with food and family, Cotton Tree’s Lani Pallister was flying home from Adelaide after a triumphant week at the National Age Swimming Championships.

The Alexandra Headlands 16-year-old secured her fifth national title on Saturday night in the 800m to add to her haul of gold from the 100m, 200m, 400m and 1500m freestyle.

While she is the most decorated female swimmer from the event, tied with 16-year-old Thomas Neill who also took out five event titles, she said her performance still surprised her.

“The 100m free I ended up qualifying for the final fourth,” she said.

“The whole time I just wanted to be put in a relay.

“My PB (personal best) going into it was a 56.01, so I didn’t think I could drop a full second from it to make it.”

Pallister’s stellar performance earned her a spot on the Australian team competing at the World Junior Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

The teenager’s performance was made more impressive after 44 races at the Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships on the Gold Coast.

Pallister took home 11 medals from “The Aussies” prior to racing in Adelaide just eight days later.

After two years competing in the Youth Surf Lifesaving Championships she said her first year on the senior stage was a challenge.

“It’s the first Aussies I’ve done that was five days…it was long,” she said.

“I was doing six races a day, going back to back, but it helped me keep up the kilometres.

“I had one session off and then got straight back into preparation for nationals.”

By Harvie Allison
Alexandra Headlands competitor Lani Pallister had a hectic schedule at the Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships on the Gold Coast.

Pallister’s experience in the surf is a tactic she uses to her advantage in the pool as a reminder to continue striving for quicker times.

“If there’s no one else around me in a 1500m I pretend I’m going in last in a taplin relay and trying to catch the rest of the field,” she said.

While the rest of the surf lifesaving and swimming community puts their feet up after a busy competition season, Pallister’s training is back in full swing come Wednesday morning.

However, it’s hard work she is more than happy to take on.

“I love racing, but I hate training, the reason I get through it is for the love of racing,” she said.

After just two days off Pallister will refocus ahead of Budapest in August, but not before stepping up in Brisbane for the Open Australian Swimming Trials in just six weeks.

The competition will see Pallister take on the likes of Ariane Titmus, the current Australian 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle record holder, in an attempt to earn herself a spot on the Australian Team off to South Korea for the World Championships in July.

Mother and coach Janelle Pallister said no major changes will be made between now and the trials, but instead they will focus on the technical aspect of racing.

“It was a good opportunity going down to Adelaide to see what’s working and what needs refining,” she said.

“It [the next eight weeks] will be an opportunity to get ahead on pacing and technique.”

While these meets are all achievements in themselves, they are ultimately part of Pallister’s campaign to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Mrs Pallister, who goes by ‘Janelle’ while at training, believes the duo’s relationship gives them the opportunity to be mutually honest when it comes to her daughter’s performance.

“As proud as I am as a Mum, when I have my coach’s hat on I’m a coach,” she said.

“For example, after the 200m I said that was a tough swim and you won, but it was really ugly, and she agreed, and we spoke about it in that way.

“At the pool I have to be coach, then at home I have to leave her to her space.”

Watch Lani Pallister win her fifth national title at the 2019 National Age Championships