Triathlete Scott Saunders finished in second place in his age division in the opening round of Australian Triathlon Series.
Triathlete Scott Saunders finished in second place in his age division in the opening round of Australian Triathlon Series. Sharyn O'Neill

Saunders goes with the flow

A SECOND-PLACE finish at the weekend's 2011 Australian National Triathlon Series leg has edged Scott Saunders one step closer to securing a berth at next year's world championships.

The Frenchville Frogs triathlete travelled to Dareton, north of Mildura on the New South Wales-Victoria border, for Sunday's first leg of the 2011 series.

Hosted by The Coomealla Memorial Sporting Club, the opening race of the season is the only world championship qualifier held in rural Australia.

Competing in the 30-34 age division, Saunders was pleased with his performance in the sprint distance triathlon which includes a 750m swim, 20km bike ride and 5km run. Saunders finished in a time of 1:02.45; 31 seconds behind his division's winner.

While his run and bike times were similar to his personal best times, it was his swim leg that stood out.

The swim was performed in the fast-flowing Murray River, which Saunders described as flowing at a similar speed to the Fitzroy River – minus the debris.

“It was quite an interesting situation. Because of all the rain they've had down there, the Murray River was really flowing quite quickly,” he said.

Such was the force of the current, Saunders finished his swim leg in less than half the time that it usually takes to complete the 750m swim.

“My swim time was six minutes, 20 (seconds) and I'd normally do it in about 13 minutes,” he said. “That gives you a good idea of how fast it was going.”

Hailing from a running background, the 33-year-old was lured into the sport by Frenchville Frogs president and coach Wayne Clifford and has been making steady progress in his swim and bike legs under Clifford's guidance.

“(Clifford's) a good coach. Frenchville have proven that they can develop good triathletes,” Saunders said.

“I've only been swimming seriously for about two years, but since I've been working with Wayne I've seen some big improvements.

“The swim used to be a chore but now that my times are coming down, I'm enjoying it more.”

To be eligible to compete at the world championships, competitors must register qualifying times in at least three events on the 2010-11 Triathlon Series circuit.

Saunders now needs to put in big performances in the other two qualifying events he will compete in this season – the Redcliffe Triathlon on February 20 and the Seven Mile Beach Triathlon in Tasmania on March 6.



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