Emotional Pallister Paris-bound after battling eating disorder

general11 June 2024 05:20| © Reuters
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Lani Pallister © Getty Images

Having overcome a heart condition and an eating disorder, Australian swimmer Lani Pallister struggled to keep her emotions in check after qualifying for her first Olympics on the opening night of national trials.



Pallister finished a distant second behind Ariarne Titmus on Monday as the Olympic champion threatened her own 400m freestyle world record in the final at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre.

However, it was enough for the 22-year-old to book her ticket to Paris and follow in the footsteps of her Olympian mother and co-coach Janelle Pallister.

"I don't want to cry on camera," said Lani Pallister.

"It's been huge. I was thinking about three years ago all through today, to be honest, and I didn't think I'd be here standing behind the blocks."

Pallister was on a mission to make Australia's "Dolphins" swim team for the Tokyo Olympics three years ago but was diagnosed with a condition causing an irregular heartbeat.

She later suffered an eating disorder and admitted to struggling with her body image when comparing herself with other swimmers.

She nearly gave up swimming at her low point but battled on with the support of her mother, her coach Michael Bohl and mentor Dawn Fraser, the Australian swimming icon of the 1950s and 60s.

All gathered around her by the pool deck in the evening session to soak up a hard-won triumph.

"Extremely proud ... She did an amazing job," said Janelle Pallister, who swam at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and won three medals at the 1990 Commonwealth Games.

"It's very exciting for her as the last three years have been tough years."

Lani Pallister, part of the Australian team that won the 4x200m freestyle relay world title at Fukuoka last year, has more chances to wear the nation's swimsuit at Paris.

She is seeded second behind Titmus in the 800m freestyle and is top seed in the 1 500m at this week's trials, having won bronze in the longer distance behind world champion Katie Ledecky and US runner-up Katie Grimes at Budapest in 2022.