Taylor switches her sights from pool to ocean
IF Northcliffe's Laura Taylor can take her pool swimming form into the surf off Mooloolaba today, she could be wearing a gold medal before lunchtime.
The 16-year-old will line up in the elite section of the 2km Aussie Ocean Swim as part of the Aussies 2016 surf lifesaving championships.
Just last week Taylor was making a name for herself as one of Australian swimming's rising stars at the Olympic trials in Adelaide, just missing a trip to Rio when she finished third in the final of the 200m butterfly.
The youngster wasn't expecting to go anywhere near making the Olympic team but was thrilled when she swam a four-second personal best time of 2:10.19 in the final.
The previous week Taylor was one of the dominant swimmers at the Australian Age Championship, collecting a series of butterfly and freestyle gold medals.
Today's Aussie Ocean Swim is another challenge altogether, with the open water an arena in which Taylor is far less comfortable.
"I haven't really done much open water swimming, so I'm just going to to swim it and hopefully get a good result for my club," she said.
Northcliffe, the powerhouse of Australian surf lifesaving, has a strong contingent entered for the open water event which this year is a pointscore event for Aussies 2016.
The ocean swim was held for the first time last year, with the open men's section won by George O'Brien, who a week later went onto win the Aussies 2015 open surf race ahead of the likes of 10-time champion Ky Hurst, ironman king Shannon Eckstein and Olympic swimmer Tom Fraser-Holmes.
O'Brien will be back to defend his title at the end of a year when he unsuccessfully campaigned to win a place in the Olympic open water team heading to Rio.
About 170 competitors are entered for the popular swim that will be held over a 2km rectangular course starting and finishing from the front of Mooloolaba surf club.
The swim, which starts at 8am, is the one event of the nine-day Aussies carnival that non-club members are able to enter.