Fourteen-year-old ahead of her time

Australia's Leisel Jones, just 14, recently swam the 13th fastest 200-meter breastroke in history  Credit: Nick Wilson/Allsport
Australian Swimming's "find of the year" and the Olympic swimming team's youngest member, Leisel Jones, earlier this week continued her rapid rise up the international ladder on day two of the Telstra Grand Prix Meet at Brisbane's Chandler Aquatic Centre.

Jones, just 14, clocked a time of 2:26.59, the 13th-fastest time in history, the third fastest time by an Australian and the seventh fastest time of the year in the womens 200-meter breaststroke an event she won't even compete in at her first Olympics in Sydney eight weeks from now. She will turn 15 on Aug. 30, two weeks before the start of the Games.

The only Australians to have swum faster than Jones are former world record holder Rebecca Brown (2:24.76) and Samantha Riley (2:24.81) the fourth and fifth fastest swimmers of all time.

The quietly spoken teenager from Redcliffe, a sleepy seaside city just 30 minutes north of Brisbane, finished third behind Caroline Hildreth and Brown at the Telstra 2000 Trials in Sydney in May. This time around she finished first, taking two seconds off her best time.

"She's a 14-year-old, and as many coaches know, 14-year-olds are unpredictable," her coach Ken Wood said. "The one thing I can predict is a very, very bright future."

It was a swim Australian officials believe is the fastest 200-meter breaststroke ever swum by a 14-year-old girl.

Jones will be joined at her first Olympics by Redcliffe training partner, Tarnee White, in the 100 meters. The determined year-nine student at the Southern Cross College in Scarborough is content with her lone shot at her first Olympics. The newcomer is willing to step aside in the 200-meters for the proven veterans.

"To be quite truthful I am really happy swimming only the 100 meters in Sydney," Jones said. "I didn't swim as well as I could at the Trials, and Caroline and Rebecca deserved their places on the team. I'm sure I will get a few more chances in the future in the 200 meters.

"This year has just been a dream for me," she said, "especially after all the problems I had with my shoulder last year. My mum said 2000 would be my year and so far she's been right."


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