EMMA MCKEON’S HUNGER GAMES WITH THREE INDIVIDUAL EVENTS AT WORLD CHAMPS
Wednesday 12 April
Olympic bronze medallist Emma McKeon has produced the second fastest time in the world this year to win the 200m freestyle on night three of the Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Championships in Brisbane tonight and will now have an even bigger program than she did when she rocked Rio last year.
The 22-year-old from St Peters Western clocked 1:55.68 to win her fourth straight National title in the event.
She wasted no time attacking the race, out in 26.31, splitting 55.66 at the 100m as she opened up a commanding lead to stamp her authority on the field to set up what will be a real showdown against the rest of the world in Hungary in July.
At one stage early in the race she was under world record pace as the field tried to stay in touch, but the class that saw her return from Rio as our most successful medallist, continued to show.
McKeon’s time sits her just behind Sweden’s Michelle Coleman’s 1:55.64 and ahead of Italy’s world record holder Federica Pellegrini’s 1:55.94 who will be just two of her main rivals at the World Championships.
McKeon will now swim both the 100m and 200m freestyle events and the 100m butterfly as well as all three of Australia’s relays the 4x100 and 4x200m freestyle and the 4x100m medley.
The girl who returned from Rio last year with four medals – individual bronze in the 200m freestyle, gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay and silvers in the 4x100m medley and 4x200m freestyle is up for the challenge.
“I love a busy meet and this time will even be busier than Rio,” said McKeon.
“To have an individual swim in the 100m freestyle as well as the 200m and the 100m fly is exciting as well as the relays.
“I’m not worried about it at all, I grew up watching all the girls (like Susie O’Neill) swim multiple events.”
And in an exciting changing of the guard, her 16-year-old St Peters Western team mate Ariarne Titmus stormed home to take the silver (in her second personal best time of the day - 1:58.11) with Rio medley swimmer Kotuku Ngawati third in 1:58.24 and Rio relay silver medallist Leah Neale (USC Spartans) fourth in 1:58.40 to make up the relay for Hungary.
Titmus, who won the 800m in a World Championship qualifying time on night one, will now add both the 200m and 4x200m freestyle relay to her repertoire with her pet event the 400m freestyle to come on the final day.
After her standout performance last night, Holly Barratt (Rockingham) picked up her first National title in the women’s 50m backstroke and added to her growing medal tally with victory in another personal best time of 27.60 (moving her fourth on the All-Time list) breaking Brisbane Grammar’s 100m champion Emily Seebohm’s five year strangle hold on the event. Fifteen-year-old Kaylee McKeown (USC Spartans) rounded out the top three in a time of 28.22.
The non-stop 29-year-old Barratt was soon back in the water to take the silver (26.64) in the 50m butterfly to dual Olympic gold medallist Brittany Elmslie (26.48) with Brisbane’s own Sara Saal (Commerical) third in 26.95.
It will also potentially give Barratt three swims in Hungary as well, with the 50m freestyle to go on the final night when she comes up against world champion sisters Bronte and Cate Campbell.
In the men’s 100m breaststroke, 18-year-old Daniel Cave (Melbourne Vicentre), swimming in lane two, flew home to win his maiden National title, touching the wall first in 1:00.45, just a fraction of a second ahead of Matthew Wilson (SOPAC) 1:00.54 and Tommy Sucipto(Rockingham) 1:00.95 – just missing the qualifying time.
Olympic silver medallist Mitch Larkin hung on to win his fourth straight 100m backstroke National title in 53.54 from the fast finishing 20-year-old from UWA West Coast ZacIncerti in 53.95 and Rio Olympian Josh Beaver (Nunawading) 54.03.
The Simon Cusack-coached Larkin fought hard over the closing stages to hold off the two-time Oceania Champion and vastly improving Incerti and after his win under the qualifying time in the 200m will earn Larkin the right to defend the world titles he won in Kazan in 2015.
The 200m individual medley saw a new National champion crowned in Clyde Lewis (St Peters Western) who won his first Australian title in a personal best time of 1:59.24 – his first time under two-minutes and the seventh fastest time by an Australian.
“I’m stoked…I’m happy with the race, the win and the time,” said Lewis.
“I went out hard and I came home hard, that’s the way to go I guess.”
Silver went to Rio Olympian Travis Mahoney (Marion) 2:00.62 with Jared Gilliland(Chandler) third in 2:01.18.
In the 100m butterfly Multi-Class events it was Abigal Lihou (Ferny Hills) who claimed gold in the women’s in 1:07.76 from Madeleine Scott (Nunawading) and Taylor Corry (MLC Marlins) 1:10.30.
While the men’s Multi-Class went to Paralympic gold medallist from Rio Brenden Hall(Lawnton) who retained his title in 1:03.31 from Timothy Disken (PLC Aquatic) 1:03.36 and Timothy Hodge 1:03.36 (The Hills).
With the National men’s 200m freestyle Multi Class title up for grabs, Rio Paralympian Liam Schluter (Kawana Waters) stepped up to take the crown, followed by Mitchell Kilduff(SLC Aquadot) 1:59.94 and Jack Ireland (UQ Swim Club) 1:59.25.
Closing the individual competition, Rio Paralympic silver medallist Monique Murphy(Southport Olympic) earned the national women’s 200m freestyle MC title, followed by Monique Beckwith (MLC Aquatic) 2:15.14 and Jordan Harton (CYMS St Edmund’s) (2:20.20).
AGE NO BARRIER FOR WA’S HOLLY BARRATT – NOW AN AUSTRALIAN DOLPHIN AT 29
Tuesday 10 April
Ageless WA swimmer Holly Barratt arrived in Brisbane this week hoping to improve her times and if she achieved a personal best time she would be happy – after all at 29 what more could you expect racing Australia’s Olympians and world champions.
But, the University graduate in physiology from Rockingham in WA and the part-time salesgirl at Super Cheap Auto, will leave for home on Friday with a place on the Australian Dolphins Swim Team and will debut at this year’s FINA World Championships in Hungary.
Last night Barratt finished second to triple Olympian and defending world champion EmilySeebohm (Brisbane Grammar) 58.62 in the 100m backstroke final – clocking a personal best time (by 0.30) of 59.66 to break into her first Australian Swim Team.
And today she’s had Swimming Australia officials scurrying through the record books searching dates of birth to find who is the oldest rookie to ever make an Australian Swim team and at 29 Holly Barratt now ticks that box.
Barratt admitted she was a “little tired” this morning saying she didn’t get a great deal of sleep last night but she still managed to swim back-to-back heats to make two more finals tonight.
A sprint specialist, who represented Australia twice in the World University Games, is the fastest qualifier for tonight’s 50m butterfly and the equal second fastest qualifier alongside the youngest swimmer in the field – 15 year-old Kaylee McKeown (USC Spartans) for the 50m backstroke behind Seebohm.
“To be honest I’m a little bit tired, I didn’t get a great deal of sleep last night. I definitely wasn’t expecting that result; coming into the meet ranked about sixth, I thought I might be able to jump up to fourth,” said Barratt.
“I would have been happy with that, I’m focusing on my times more than anything and I was happy with my time, it was a little PB, but I definitely wasn’t expecting (to make the team) it is very exciting.”
It has been a long journey for the girl who started swimming at the Armadale Kelmscott Swimming Club before joining Swan Hills were she swam six to seven times a week as a youngster, qualifying for one National Age and “maybe two” Australian Short Course Championships.
“I only competed in 50s and they didn’t have them at Age, only freestyle and I figured I was competing at my level and the Olympians were way up there on another level,” Barratt reflected.
Barratt quit swimming when she was 18 and returned at 24 when she attended a Talent ID camp with 15 and 16 year-olds in Canberra and she never really intended on coming back until she took a job as an assistant swim coach to her boyfriend Will Scott back at Swan Hills.
Her competitive side started to get the better of her watching her squads and she jumped back in the water and it wasn’t till then she realised there were “all these little steps” you had to take along the way and she started taking them.
Three years ago she started to concentrate on the 50m freestyle and the 100m backstroke – arguably the toughest event in women’s swimming with Seebohm, World Championship silver medallist Madison Wilson, world junior champion Minna Atherton and rising stars Kaylee McKeown and Sian Whittaker.
“I know a lot of the girls were not happy with the way they swam last night but I guess it shows anything can happen…and the real bonus for me is I get my Swimmer Team number; that’s exciting,” said Barratt.
Meanwhile another evergreen of the pool, four-time Paralympian Matt Levy clocked a new world record in his class in the 200m freestyle, clocking a time of 2:16.74 to top the qualifiers in the Multi-Class final for tonight.
The 30-year-old, who suffers cerebral palsy and is vision impaired, admitted it’s an event he doesn’t swim a lot of but will return to the pool tonight under new coach, Stephen Badger, at North Sydney to see if he can lower his time again.
Meanwhile, Olympian Jack McLoughlin won the gold medal in today’s men’s 800m freestyle timed final in 8:09.56 from Ethan Owens (Marion) 8:10.02 and Max Osborn (TSS Aquatics) 8:12.96.
In other finals tonight:
Dual Olympic medallist Mitch Larkin heads the 100m backstroke qualifiers in 53.69; his Dolphins team mate Travis Mahoney (Marion) will take up lane four in the 200IM after his 2:02.04; Paralympic medallist Monique Murphy (Southport Olympic) is the fastest qualifier in the Multi-Class 200m freestyle in 2:14.98; Emma McKeon (St Peters Western) will be chasing her third individual swim at the World Championships in the 200om freestyle after her 1:57.99 this morning; Timothy Disken (PLC Aquatic) will start from lane four in the Multi-Class 100m butterfly as will Abigal Lihou (Ferny Hills) in the Multi-Class 100m women’s butterfly; and Matthew Wilson (SOPAC) will be out to make it a breaststroke double in the 100m after taking the 200m last night to make his first Dolphins team.