Mitch Larkin emerged as one of the real stars of the Australian team from Glasgow four years ago winning gold in the 200m backstroke and a collection of silvers in the 50, 100m backstroke and as a member of the 4x100m medley relay. After a stellar year in 2015 with a World Championship double gold, followed by individual silver over 200m backstroke in Rio, Larkin experienced a lean year in 2017. But another coaching switch, back to SPW and Dean Boxall has the easy-going Larkin back firing and looking strong with a 53.37 at the Trials that will see him amongst the medals on the Gold Coast along with fellow team mates, 2010 gold medallist in the 50m Ben Treffers and NSW Central Coast rookie, Brad Woodward. One to watch: The kid from Shelly Beach on the NSW Central Coast, Bradley Woodward who achieved a rare honour when named on the Games team, becoming a dual international, after representing Australia at the World Life Saving Championships in the Netherlands last year. Did you know? The last Australian to win this event was Matt Welsh in Manchester in 2002 and before that it was Glen Patching in Edmonton back in 1978. They are among only six Australians to have won the gold – the first being Percy Oliver in Sydney in1938.
Men's 4x100m Freestyle Relay
One of the premier relays on the program and 2018 will be the 15th time it has been on the Games program with Australia winning the gold 11 times –since the first time at the 1962 home Games in Perth. Australia prides itself on this relay – particularly after the 2000 Olympics and the race that will be forever remembered as arguably the race of the Games. This year there is certainly a renewed determination to put Australia back on top of the world in this relay as we start the build up to Tokyo in 2020. The way the 100m boys talk they believe they have unfinished business and any foursome selected from Kyle Chalmers, Jack Cartwright, Cam McEvoy James Roberts, James Magnussen, Zac Incerti or Clyde Lewis will do Australia proud. In Glasgow it was Australia, South Africa and England. Australia’s depth in 2018 is second only to the USA and they will be watching and waiting for Tokyo. One to watch: After his battle with heart palpitations in the 200m freestyle heats at the Trials to see Jack “Of Hearts” Cartwright stand next to his team mate and fellow heart racer Kyle Chalmers will be truly heart felt! Did you know: The Australian gold medal winning team from 1962 in Perth of Peter Phelps and Murray Rose (both from NSW), Peter Doak (Vic) and David Dixon (WA) set a new WR of 3:43.9 – anchorman Dickson clocked the fastest split of 55.5.
Women's S9 100m Backstroke
Australia’s Ellie Cole has been one of the flagship competitors in the Para swimming ranks for the past 12 years, since making her first splash as a 15-year-old, at the 2006 IPC World Championships with silver in the 100m backstroke. But it was the golden glow of the London Paralympics in 2012, where she won four gold medals, followed by two more in Rio in 2016 when Australia really stood up and took notice of her amazing skills. It was again the100m backstroke where she won back-to-back gold. In between she added World Championship gold in Glasgow. Big question? Can she add her first Commonwealth Games gold on the Gold Coast? This one won’t be easy with re-classified former S10 English star Alice Tai on top of the rankings. Australia will also be represented by Nunawading’s Madeleine Scott who is one of Australia’s most consistent performers. One to Watch: England’s Alice Tai, a Paralympic bronze medallist in S10 who won gold in the 34pts medley relay in Rio. Did you know: Cole played wheelchair basketball for Victoria in the Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball League in 2013 and 2014 as a 4.0 point player taking out the league's award for Best New Talent in 2013.
Women's 100m Butterfly
Australia’s Emma McKeon has forged her career centred around the 100m butterfly and the 200m freestyle –finishing second to world No 1 Sarah Sjostrom in the 100m fly at the Budapest World’s last year and she has certainly done everything right to suggest she will be the girl to beat here on the Gold Coast in 2018. She won the Australian Trials in 57.13 and re-established herself as No 2 in the world with her eye-catching Rio team-mate Brianna Throssell, who had a great Aussie Trials meet. Australia’s No 3 and Olympic 200m ‘fly silver medallist Maddie Groves is the smokey third qualifier. Looking at the internationals, Canadian Olympic 100m freestyle golden girl Penny Oleksiak (4th in Budapest) and her team mate, defending champion Katerine Savard, England’s 2014 silver medallist Siobhan-Marie O’Connor and Budapest semifinalist Alys Thomas (Wales) could well make up the bulk of the top eight. One To Watch: Australia’s Brianna Throssell had the meet to remember at the February Trials, clocking a PB of 57.42 which puts her right in the hunt for a major podium finish. Did you know: The first Commonwealth Games gold medal in this event was won by the late Newcastle Olympian Beverley Bainbridge at the Cardiff (Wales) Games of 1958.