Age no barrier for WA’s Holly Barratt – now an Australian Dolphin at 29




Ageless WA swimmer Holly Barratt arrived in Brisbane this week hoping to improve her times and if she achieved a personal best time she would be happy – after all at 29 what more could you expect racing Australia’s Olympians and world champions.


But, the University graduate in physiology from Rockingham in WA and the part-time salesgirl at Super Cheap Auto, will leave for home on Friday with a place on the Australian Dolphins Swim Team and will debut at this year’s FINA World Championships in Hungary.


Last night Barratt finished second to triple Olympian and defending world champion Emily Seebohm (Brisbane Grammar)  58.62 in the 100m backstroke final – clocking a personal best time (by 0.30) of 59.66 to break into her first Australian Swim Team.


And today she’s had Swimming Australia officials scurrying through the record books searching dates of birth to find who is the oldest rookie to ever make an Australian Swim team and at 29 Holly Barratt now ticks that box.


Barratt admitted she was a “little tired” this morning saying she didn’t get a great deal of sleep last night but she still managed to swim back-to-back heats to make two more finals tonight.


A sprint specialist, who represented Australia twice in the World University Games, is the fastest qualifier for tonight’s 50m butterfly and the equal second fastest qualifier alongside the youngest swimmer in the field – 15 year-old Kaylee McKeown (USC Spartans) for the 50m backstroke behind Seebohm.


“To be honest I’m a little bit tired, I didn’t get a great deal of sleep last night. I definitely wasn’t expecting that result; coming into the meet ranked about sixth, I thought I might be able to jump up to fourth,” said Barratt.


“I would have been happy with that, I’m focusing on my times more than anything and I was happy with my time, it was a little PB, but I definitely wasn’t expecting (to make the team) it is very exciting.”


It has been a long journey for the girl who started swimming at the Armadale Kelmscott Swimming Club before joining Swan Hills were she swam six to seven times a week as a youngster, qualifying for one National Age and “maybe two” Australian Short Course Championships.


“I only competed in 50s and they didn’t have them at Age, only freestyle and I figured I was competing at my level and the Olympians were way up there on another level,” Barratt reflected.


Barratt quit swimming when she was 18 and returned at 24 when she attended a Talent ID camp with 15 and 16 year-olds in Canberra and she never really intended on coming back until she took a job as an assistant swim coach to her boyfriend Will Scott back at Swan Hills.


Her competitive side started to get the better of her watching her squads and she jumped back in the water and it wasn’t till then she realised there were “all these little steps” you had to take along the way and she started taking them.


Three years ago she started to concentrate on the 50m freestyle and the 100m backstroke – arguably the toughest event in women’s swimming with Seebohm, World Championship silver medallist Madison Wilson, world junior champion Minna Atherton and rising stars Kaylee McKeown and Sian Whittaker.


“I know a lot of the girls were not happy with the way they swam last night but I guess it shows anything can happen…and the real bonus for me is I get my Swimmer Team number; that’s exciting,” said Barratt.


Meanwhile another evergreen of the pool, four-time Paralympian Matt Levy clocked a new world record in his class in the 200m freestyle, clocking a time of 2:16.74 to top the qualifiers in the Multi-Class final for tonight.


The 30-year-old, who suffers cerebral palsy and is vision impaired, admitted it’s an event he doesn’t swim a lot of but will return to the pool tonight under new coach, Stephen Badger, at North Sydney to see if he can lower his time again.


Meanwhile, Olympian Jack McLoughlin won the gold medal in today’s men’s 800m freestyle timed final in 8:09.56 from Ethan Owens (Marion) 8:10.02 and Max Osborn (TSS Aquatics) 8:12.96.


In other finals tonight:


Dual Olympic medallist Mitch Larkin heads the 100m backstroke qualifiers in 53.69; his Dolphins team mate Travis Mahoney (Marion) will take up lane four in the 200IM after his 2:02.04; Paralympic medallist Monique Murphy (Southport Olympic) is the fastest qualifier in the Multi-Class 200m freestyle in 2:14.98; Emma McKeon (St Peters Western) will be chasing her third individual swim at the World Championships in the 200om freestyle after her 1:57.99 this morning; Timothy Disken (PLC Aquatic) will start from lane four in the Multi-Class 100m butterfly as will Abigal Lihou (Ferny Hills) in the Multi-Class 100m women’s butterfly; and Matthew Wilson (SOPAC) will be out to make it a breaststroke double in the 100m after taking the 200m last night to make his first Dolphins team.