ADELAIDE, Australia – Northern Arizona junior swimmer Fi Connell recently competed at the Australian Short Course National Championship, advancing to the final round of the 100 meter backstroke and finishing eighth out of 60 competitors, including members of the Australian national team. Connell competed in both the 100 and 200 meter backstroke events, finishing eighth in the 100 back final and setting a personal record of 1:00.58 in the event in Adelaide, Australia.
"It was really unexpected to do so well in the 100 since I was mostly focused on the 200," said Connell, who returned to Flagstaff to resume training last weekend. "It was kind of an overwhelming meet with a lot of ups and downs. I gained a lot of experience by being able to come off a bad swim (in the 200) and back it up with an amazing swim."
The race was won by Rachel Goh, who was an eight-time All-American and two-time NCAA champion in the 100 backstroke at Auburn. Connell set a personal record with her time of 1:00.58 in the preliminary round to advance to the finals, where she finished at 1:01.02 to claim eighth place. The Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia native is NAU's all-time record holder in the 200 and 400 backstroke and has won three individual gold medals at the WAC championships in just two seasons as a Lumberjack.
"I think this experience was more about being mentally tough." added Connell. "I've dealt with a lot of injuries over the last year, so being able to put all that behind me and execute the race plan that I had set was nice."
Connell also swam 50 meter sprints (non-Olympic events) in the butterfly in 28.53 seconds, the backstroke in 28.70, and the breaststroke 33.97. The meet was held at the brand new SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre, where the Australian Olympic trials will take place next year.
Connell and her teammates are slated to open the 2011-12 campaign with their annual pentathlon at the end of September.