THE RETURN of AFLW pre-season means only one thing – time trials.
Teams around the country took to ovals, running tracks and trails in varying weather conditions for the dreaded first run of the season.
Unsurprisingly, reigning AFLW best and fairest Kiara Bowers took out Fremantle's 2km time trial.
Defender Philipa Seth was the big improver, rocketing into second ahead of a potential move into the midfield, while Ebony Antonio and Gabby O'Sullivan tied for third.
"Every year she kind of has a little niggle here and there and I’m waiting for her to absolutely blow me away and overtake me," Bowers told fremantlefc.com.au.
"She is so fit, and I am keen to see what she does this year.
"I think she is incredible all over the ground and I would love her input in the midfield.
"She can run all day and against another opponent is where she does her best work."
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The Dockers also confirmed their coaching line-up, with Daniel Haines (midfield) and Jay Van Berlo (forwards) joining defensive coach Lisa Webb as assistants.
Amy Lavell has taken a step back due to work commitments, but remains on board as a specialist coach, while Craig Thomas has moved from the midfield to strategy and training co-ordinator.
Second-year midfielder Eliza McNamara held onto her crown at Melbourne, once again holding out Karen Paxman as the Dees took to the Tan running track.
Rising Dee Shelley Heath took out third spot, while small forward Kate Hore and key back Libby Birch rounded out the top five.
McNamara wasn't the only successful defending champion, with winger Tahlia Meyer taking out St Kilda's 2km time trial.
Co-captain Hannah Priest jumped from third in 2020 to second, while Bianca Jakobsson shot into third.
Isabella Shannon and Tyanna Smith completed the top five, while key forward Caitlin Greiser chopped a whopping 45 seconds off her personal best.
Other strong improvers at the Saints included Tarni White (34 seconds), Darcy Guttridge (32) and worryingly for the rest of the competition, best and fairest Georgia Patrikios (33).
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Eighteen Saints took part – Ella Friend running hers remotely in Ballarat as she continues her year 12 studies – with Rosie Dillon, Molly McDonald and Jess Matin completing different running sessions due to niggles.
Liv Vesely is set to return to training next week after missing the entirety of 2021 with a nasty calf issue, which saw her torn muscle attaching itself to her Achilles tendon, and needed surgery to fix.
Carlton opted for a yo-yo test as its return to training marker, with Georgia Gee and Mimi Hill taking out the honours.
Midfielder Hill ruptured her ACL in early March, and at this stage, is looking on track to make a return to footy in 2022.