Australia’s FINA World Short Course Golden Girl Lani Pallister Now Queen Of The Surf In Perth

Australian World Short Course Golden Girl Lani Pallister’s Now Queen Of The Surf

Last December Lani Pallister was the queen of the pool in Melbourne, winning four gold medals at the Fina World Short Course Swimming Championships and today she’s the queen of the surf at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships (The Aussies) on Scarborough Beach in WA

After arriving into Perth from an arduous swimming training camp with her Griffith University squad in Noumea, Pallister has been an intricate part of the Alexandra Headland’s surf lifesaving team team at The 2023 Aussies – today winning her maiden coveted Australian open surf race championship.


OPEN SURF RACE GOLD: Lani Pallister claims rare Aussies individual gold. Photo Courtesy: Kate Czerny (Harvpix).

She started her golden run yesterday when she swam against the men in Alex’s Mixed Lifesaver Relay (Boat, swim, ski, board) gold and finished her week in the waves with a successful defence of the Taplin Relay (Swim, board, ski) with her Alex team mates after earlier winning silvers in helter skelter finishes to Northcliffe in the open board relay and board rescue events – which could easily have been gold.

The 20-year-old Pallister had to wait until today to have her taste of 2023 individual Aussies gold – a prized possession well worth waiting for as she blitzed the surf race field in the millpond conditions.

It was a swimming materclass, arguably the most emphatic surf race win in the 38-year history of Australian open women’s surf racing – first contested in 1985 with Olympians Sheridan Burge-Lopez (Seoul, 1988) in 1991, Stacey Gartrell (Atlanta, 1996) in 1995 and Meagen Nay (Beijing, 2008) in 2006 as notable former winners.

Pallister has followed her Seoul Olympian mum Janelle Elford into the pool as she sets her sights on next year’s Paris Olympic Trials and her two-time open surf teams champion father Rick Pallister into the waves.

The Paris Olympic hopeful, who had to get the green light from her swim coach Michael Bohl before entering the carnival,  also came from behind, giving away 25 metres on the final swim, to spearhead her team of two-time Olympic kayaker Ally Bull (ski) and Emma Woods (board) to victory in the Taplin event.

The 20-year-old also had a special family connection helping her get around the buoys today.

“I wore my dad Rick’s club cap that he used to wear when racing Masters at Alex [Surf Club]… this is so special and something that I’ll cherish forever. I haven’t been beaten in a surf race this season, so I’m pretty sure that’s six from six,” said Pallister, who was a dominant member of the Australian Surf and Swim Teams last year.

“My dad has a legacy through Surf Life Saving, he’s an Australian gold medallist himself (with Elouera), did the Uncle Toby’s [Ironman] Series…so to come away with this and add another medal to our family and keep the tradition for our family alive in Surf Life Saving and the pool is special,” she said.

Pallister took the gold medal ahead of Northcliffe’s Naomi Scott who herself had a breakout Championships winning the open belt ad iron woman double with her team mate Jade Slee third.


TOO QUICK: Northcliffe’s Nick Sloman claims his fifth Australian open surf race championship. Photo Courtesy: Kate Czerny (Harvpix).

Her Paris Olympic hopeful, open water star Nick Sloman, delivered a strong finish to claim his fifth consecutive Open Male Surf Race crown.

Sloman finished ahead of his fellow Australian Dolphins swim team mates Bailey Armstrong (Northcliffe), with the duo recently named as part of the Australian team that will contest the World Aquatics World Championships in Japan later this year with three-time Lorne Pier-to-Pub winner Hayden Cotter third.

“It’s a bit of relief, I put a lot of pressure on myself leading into this race, with obviously going four back to back… it was always going to be hard, and I just had to make sure I got a good start, got some clean water early and then I just to hold them off,” said Sloman.

“[Paris Olympics] is always the goal, but I know how difficult it is to make it. I’m just putting my head down in training… selection starts this year for us, the goal is to make it 12 months out but there is always another go as well,” he said.

Earlier in the carnival, Australia Dolphins swimmer Kyle Lee finished ahead of Dolphin teammates Armstrong (Northcliffe) and Nick Sloman (Northcliffe).

Lee, a WA local, was also recently named part of the Australian team for Japan beat his team mates a sprint finish up the beach.

“I tried to get a good start to the first can, and I probably sat in third for most of that race and made my move at the end,” Lee said.

Lee has been putting in the training and has had his focus on making the World Championships team.

“It means everything, representing Australia has always been a dream of mine and something I don’t take for granted. I’m very excited to do it and grateful for the opportunity.

“We just got back from Israel competing at the LEN [European] Cup. That was a selection competition for the World Championships coming up… I’ll be competing in Fukuoka in July in the 5km.

Noosa young gun Finella Gibbs-Beal, who won the Under 19 women’s surf  was also the fastest female over the 2km in the water with a time of 23:46min. The youngster who has a passion for Surf Life Saving, said she also has her sights firmly set on making it to the Olympic Games.

“I always look forward to this event at every Aussies. It’s been included for a lot of age groups now. It’s definitely something to look forward to, it’s such a nice location here in Perth and really flat which works well for me,” said Gibbs-Beal.

“I’m an Open Water swimmer, I specialise in the 10km Open Water swim. I went to the World Championships last year for the 5km, and had quite a few international opportunities in the last few years.

“Paris is definitely a dream for everyone, but I think more realistically for me I’m thinking about LA, maybe even Brisbane.

“I came from Surf Life Saving before anything, so I’ve been a bit back and forth between the pool and then open water. To be here at the Aussies, it’s definitely something that we look forward to on the calendar each year,” she said.

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