Levy set world record at National Championships

Matthew Levy (centre) with his 2017 Australian Swimming Championships gold medal for the men’s multiclass 200m individual medley, alongside silver medallist (left) Timothy Disken and bronze medallist (right) Timothy Hodge. Photo: Delly Carr/Swimming Australia Ltd

MATT Levy broke a world record at the National Swimming Championships in Brisbane last week.

The four-time Paralympian and twice Paralympic gold medallist – who has cerebral palsy and vision impairment – smashed the S7 class world record in the men’s multiclass 200m freestyle heats on April 11.

He then backed up the next night by winning gold in the men’s multiclass 200m individual medley.

In doing so, Levy secured a place in Australia’s Para Dolphins team for the World Championships in Mexico City, which begin in late September.

It was a just reward for the hard- working swimmer, who trains before and after work, and recently switched to new coach Stephen Badger.

“It was a great start to the nationals with a world record … [and now I’m] on the road to Mexico!” Levy, who is proud of his Jewish heritage, said.

His time of two minutes and 16.74 seconds – almost nine seconds faster than his previous best – was particularly impressive, given the 200m freestyle is not an event Levy often swims.

Levy did not compete in the final, which was won by Queensland 18-year-old S14 class swimmer Liam Schluter.

In his strongest event, the 200m individual medley, Levy qualified first for the final, and then posted a time of two minutes and 37.58 seconds to earn 875 multiclass points.

That proved to be just two points ahead of runner-up Timothy Disken, a 20-year old S14 class swimmer representing Victoria.

With the multiclass scoring system not based on order of finishing but on an individual’s time compared to the world record in their class, the winner was only known when all swimmers finished, adding to the excitement. Levy said his experience and focus proved valuable, and may have proved the difference.

“It’s always hard in the multiclass [point-scoring] situation, but I always try and swim my own race,” Levy said.

Levy also qualified for four other finals, coming fourth in the 400m free and 50m free, fifth in the 50m fly and sixth in the 100m free ‘A’ final.

Other Jewish swimmers who competed at the national swimming championships were Victorian teenagers Benno Negri and Jordan Hazan.

Negri, 18, swam in five men’s open heats, up against swimming superstars including Cameron McEvoy and Kyle Chambers.

His best result was 19th out of 40 in the 50m free, posting an impressive time of 23.4 seconds, and 24th out of 40 in the 100m free.

Hazan, 17, swam in the 100m backstroke heat, finishing 37th.

Both are competing in this week’s National Age Swimming Championships.

SHANE DESIATNIK