By JARROD POTTER
WHAT a difference a year can make.
Beaconsfield’s Holly Brettle barely made a blip at the Australian nationals last year – failing to make a semi-final for the 200-metre individual medley (I/M) and not swimming her pet event – the 400m I/M.
In stark contrast, her swimming career has taken off dramatically since switching to the Casey TigerSharks swimming team.
Brettle scorched four seconds off her personal best in the 400m I/M on Friday night, at the Australian National Swimming Championships in Adelaide, touching the wall in 4 minutes 44.42. The time earning her a fourth place finish and putting her name on the map as a serious contender for Australian squad selection.
“It’s pretty amazing – I keep saying to mum it is incredible how far I’ve come in a year being with the TigerSharks,” Brettle said.
“I wasn’t even making semis last year – not even in the top 16 – I was nowhere near that and for this year to make finals and even finish fourth is a massive change.”
Faced with her main final scheduled for the last day of the meet, Brettle said the lead-up was tough and the day before her nerves started to creep in.
“It was a pretty tough week,” Brettle said.
“Very long and especially hard with the 400m I/M being on the eighth and last day, but I managed to keep it together.”
“I was terrified leading into it (400 I/M final), from the afternoon before I was terrified.
“I was so nervous but as soon as I swam the heat swim, I felt so much better as I swam well and knew I would swim well that night.”
Diving in for her main race, Brettle turned in second last place from the butterfly leg, but stayed focused and powered ahead in the backstroke, before holding on through the breaststroke and freestyle to record the stellar time.
“I was really, really happy,” Brettle said.
“I went into that wanting a good time and I got that – I didn’t care too much about position I just wanted that time.”
To cap off the great achievement, her 4 minute 42 made her the fastest Victorian women to swim the 400m individual medley in the state’s swimming history.
“I knew the person that held it last year (400m I/M Victorian record) with a 46 (4 minute 46) and seeing I had beaten it was good, I had been trying to get under the 46 for a while so it was great to finally get it,” Brettle said.
Her other strong showing at the nationals came in the 200m breaststroke, finishing sixth in the final with a time of 2 minutes 32.88.
Holly wanted to thank her family and coach Ben Hiddlestone for their help and continued support in getting to this career high-point in her swimming.
Casey TigerSharks coach Ben Hiddlestone said Brettle is now one of Australia’s premier individual medley swimmers.
“It’s been a big breakthrough meet for Holly,” Hiddlestone said.
“She’s now ranked in the top 30 in the world based off last year’s world rankings and she took four seconds off her PB in one race, which was a great swim for her.”
Brettle’s team mate Matson Lawson booked his spot to the World Championships in Barcelona, winning the 200m backstroke in an Australian record time outside of the ‘bodysuit’ era records.
Tooradin swimmer Josh Beaver made the finals of the 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke in an impressive return from injury.
Casey TigerSharks finished 17th overall in the club rankings on 218.5 points.