Newcastle's Lauren Parker makes inspiring comeback at Maitland Triathlon

EFFORT: Fletcher's Lauren Parker and swimming partner Brad Fernley after finishing 1500 metres of the Maitland Triathlon at Morpeth on Sunday. Picture: Michael Hartshorn
EFFORT: Fletcher's Lauren Parker and swimming partner Brad Fernley after finishing 1500 metres of the Maitland Triathlon at Morpeth on Sunday. Picture: Michael Hartshorn

Lauren Parker's customary beaming smile was back on Sunday as she completed the 1500-metre swim leg at the revamped Maitland Triathlon in the seventh fastest women's time.

In just her third open-water swim since a training accident in April left her paralysed from the waist down, Parker surpassed expectations after stopping the clock at 28 minutes and 12 seconds.

“It was so good to be out there, it was awesome,” Parker said.

“I felt really good. I was just concentrating on my stroke. It was a tough swim, but I got through it with the help of [swimming partner] Brad [Fernley] next to me. It was great support.”

Fernley was delighted with Parker’s effort and progress in her inspiring return to the sport. She recorded a second at the 2015 World Ironman Championships in Hawaii.

“Her speed is starting to get better and since we’ve come back from San Diego [at the Challenged Athletes Foundation triathlon] we’ve learned a lot,” he said.

“Things like tying Lauren’s knees up instead of her ankles give her more flotation and we’ve had a couple of meetings now with Andrew Dawes and Kurt Fearnley.”

The Fletcher 28-year-old, now eyeing off a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, took out the mixed relay alongside cyclist Glen Landers and marathon runner Vlad Shatrov.

Other winners from Morpeth were Hamilton’s Lorcan Redmond (mens) and Cooranbong’s Krystle Hockley (womens).