Pallister discusses heart surgery and eating disorders


On Day 4 of the 2022 Australian Swimming Championships, Lani Pallister continued her crusade in Adelaide by winning the women’s 1500m freestyle in 15:55.40. This race is well below the FINA A cut of 16:29.57 and makes her the only woman in the peloton in under 16 minutes.

This encounter is something of a comeback for Pallister who suffered a slight setback in the summer of 2021 when she failed to qualify for the Australian Olympic team. Pallister recently gave an interview to the Sydney Morning Herald where she discussed the health issues that have impacted her swimming.

Pallister was diagnosed last year with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), the same condition Kyle Chalmers suffered from before undergoing three surgeries. Pallister underwent successful surgery for her condition, but as a result of the operation, she developed an eating disorder.

“In March I was diagnosed with SVT so I had heart ablation. That was the start of a snowball effect. I stopped eating to try to be lean instead of fit and strong, as the majority of athletes are,” Pallister told the Herald.

Pallister’s eating disorder has impacted her swimming and she has said last year was the “worst year of her life”. Pallister said she is now back and better than ever, having received support from coaches Michael Bohl and Janelle Pallister (her mother and an Olympian), and training partner Emily Seebohm, as well as professional help .

“Back and better than ever” certainly describes Pallister’s run so far at the 2022 Australian Swimming Championships. Her first race of the competition was the 800m freestyle on Day 1 and she won that event with a time of 8:17.77.

She followed that race with a 6th place finish in the 200 freestyle, clocking 1:56.28 and more recently captured another national title in the 1,500 freestyle swimming her personal best time of 15:55.40. In her last race of the competition, she swam in 4:02.21 to place second in the 400m freestyle behind the world record holder Ariane Timus (3:56.40).

Pallister broke her best times in her 4 events, beating the times she recorded in 2019. Pallister won gold in the 400, 800 and 1500m freestyle at the 2019 World Junior Swimming Championships and silver in the 200 m free. She also contributed to the silver medals Australia won in the 4×100 and 4×200 freestyle at this competition.

Australian Trials 2022 Former PC
200 free 1:56.28 1:58.09 (2019)
400m free 4:02.21 4:05.42
800m free 8:17.77 8:22.49 (2019)
1500m free 15:55.40 15:58.86 (2019)

3 years after the world championships in Budapest, Pallister will return to Hungary to race for Australia. Pallister will be an important part of the Australian squad given the Olympic champion’s absence Ariane Timus who is retiring from the Worlds this summer.