The women’s 100m freestyle final at the 2018 Hancock Prospecting Pan Pacific Championship Trials provided edge-of-your-seat action at the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre tonight as Commonwealth and Australian record holder Cate Campbell (Chandler) returned from her golden Commonwealth Games in scintillating form.
But she was chased down by a fast-finishing Games team mate Emma McKeon (Griffith University) for top spot honours – Campbell clocking 52.61 to McKeon’s 53.25 with Shayna Jack third in 54.20.
Campbell, who said she had 2020 vision for the Tokyo Olympics, was without younger sister and Commonwealth champion Bronte behind the blocks but that didn’t lessen the depth of talent in the field with McKeon and Campbell’s Chandler training partner Jack providing plenty of pressure.
In the end the 26-year-old proved too strong with Campbell swimming just a touch faster than her silver medal winning time from the Games.
“That was a really good swim, I kind of didn’t really know what to expect coming into it, ” Campbell said.
“At the moment it’s just me and Shayna training in our squad, so she is really pushing me and has stepped up and taken Bronte’s place quite nicely.
“I’m missing Bronte a little bit and just the two of us makes things tough, but it’s a good mental challenge.”
It was a game of cat and mouse as the Simon Cusack coached star seemed to defy all laws of physics and glide across the top of the water, gaining a body length on the rest of the field after the first 50 metres.
All three placegetters had already secured their spots on the plane to Tokyo for the 2018 Pan Pacs (August 9-14), following on from their Commonwealth Games campaigns.
Tonight was a battle for bragging rights but it will be game on at the Pan Pacs.
Campbell looked controlled in the final stages of a race, a promising sign for Pan Pacs where she will come up against dual Olympic champions from the USA Simone Manuel and Canada’s Penny Oleksiak and her team mate, 18-year-old Taylor Ruck, who won an amazing eight medals at the Games on the Gold Coast.
She is showing no signs of slowing down, with her sights firmly set on Tokyo 2020.
“Every time I get into the pool I want to give it my absolute best. I want it to be a reflection of where I am and the hard work that I’ve put in so I’m definitely not going to slacken off at all for Pan Pacs,” Campbell said.
“One of my big drawcards for Pan Pacs is the fact that we get to check out Tokyo and that for me is really where I’ve got my sights set. I’ve got 2020 vision.
“I’m all about Tokyo 2020 and the fact that Pan Pacs will just be over the road from the new stadium that they’re building. You’ve got the dual Olympic Champions from Canada and the US so really, really tough competition over there.”
Meanwhile in the men’s 100m freestyle it was Jack Cartwright (SPW) with plenty to prove who stole the show from the outset.
Cartwright led all the way to touch the wall just outside the qualifying time, clocking 48.33 ahead of the consistent Alexander Graham (Bond) 49.05 and dual Olympian James Roberts (Somerset) 49.21.
Already pre-qualified, Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers (Marion), scraping into the final after backing up from a tough 200m last night, was fourth in 49.46.
Cartwright admitted he did lack motivation after a disappointing individual swim at the Commonwealth Games, where he was sixth, but a talk with coach Dean Boxall helped get him back on track.
“We were able to turn things around and we got back into the hard work,” said Cartwright.
“I’m pretty pleased with the swim, it’s my fastest time of the season so I can’t complain.
“I was really hunting for it. I was pretty disappointed after Commonwealth Games.
“I have put in a lot of work. We have been away on training camp in Thailand for two weeks and did some solid stuff over there.
“It was unusual but it was great to escape the cold and get into the warmth and to get the hard yards done.”
Cartwright, like Campbell, is also looking forward to racing the Americans come August and the Pan Pacs.
“It’s always great racing the Americans –it’s the pinnacle of the sport at the moment…especially Caleb Dressell,” said Cartwright
“It’s going to be great racing against the Americans in the 100m freestyle and the 4x100m freestyle relay.”
The Australians will go into the Pan Pacs with a new-look 4x100m freestyle relay without James Magnussen and Cam McEvoy – members of the last two Olympic teams – leaving the door open for some new faces.
Meanwhile Mitch Larkin (SPW) had to dig deep to win his pet 100m backstroke in 53.66 which was under the Australian selection time from fellow Commonwealth Games team mate Bradley Woodward (Mingara Aquatic) 53.89, just outside the time of 53.76 with Southport Olympic 21-year-old Tristan Hollard sneaking under the 54 secs mark in 53.98.
And TSS Aquatic Olympian David Morgan pulled out all stops to take out the 200m butterfly in 1:56.98 from Nicholas Brown (UWA West Coast) 1:57.71 and Theo Benehoutsos (Melbourne Vicentre) 1:58.40.
And in the women’s 200m butterfly came down to the touch with Commonwealth Games silver medallist in this event Laura Taylor (TSS Aquatics) just getting pipped at the post by Korea’s Sehyeon An (2:09.85).
Taylor, who has already qualified for the team was coming home strong but couldn’t quite hold on to the win, finishing second in 2:10.05 with St Peters Western swimmer Michaela Ryan third in 2:12.50.
In a special treat, St Peters Western foursome Ariarne Titmus, 17, (1:56.02) Michaela Ryan, 16, (2:00.08) Jenna Forrester, 15, (2:01.92) and Abby Harkin, 20, (2:00.51) smashed an eight-year-old Australian 4x200m freestyle Club relay record, clocking 7:58.53 – with Titmus’ time two seconds faster than last night’s winning time in the 200m individual race.
It was followed by the men’s relay with St Peters Western going head to head with Griffith University in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay with Cartwright backing up after his 100m win to clock 1:47.21 and Thomas Fraser-Holmes 1:47.87 – both lead-off swims – Fraser-Holmes faster than his 1:48.06 individual swim last night. Daniel Smith also produced a sizzling fly-start split of 1:47.12.
A late withdrawal from the lane four favourite Emily Seebohm due to illness left the field in the women’s 100m backstroke wide open and it was 16-year-old Kaylee McKeown (USC Spartans) who managed to make the most of the situation and come out on top.
It was a tussle for top spot between teenagers McKeown and Minna Atherton (Brisbane Grammar) who went stroke for stroke into the wall with McKeown taking the win in a time of 59.62.
The time was quick enough to sneak under the Pan Pacs qualifying time of 59.82 and set a new personal best in the process, while Atherton was second overall in 1:00.43.
Third place went to West Australian Holly Barratt (Rockingham) in 1:00.81.
The big question in Multi-Class circles is “Can anyone stop Lawnton’s Lakeisha ‘Lucky’ Patterson?”
The Dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist tonight secured her second title of the meet with a win in the Women’s 50m freestyle Multi Class in a time of 30.87 (893pts).
Yeronga Park swimmer Paige Leonhardt is having a stellar meet, with a few trips to the podium so far and a place on the Para Pan Pacs team looking promising.
The 17-year-old who won silver in this event at the Commonwealth Games was the best in the women’s 100m breaststroke Multi Class final, taking the title in a time of 1:21.00 for 755 points.
The silver went to Keira Stephens (1:22.46, 716pts) while 39-year-old Tanya Huebner (Melbourne H2O) took the bronze in 1:46.73 (704pts).
Paralympic champion in this event Ellie Cole got the better of her USC training partner Katja Dedekind and a host of Paralympians to take the win in the women’s 100m Multi Class backstroke with a time of 1:11.77 (838pts).
Dedekind picked up the silver in 1:11.56 (815pts) with Katherine Downie stepping up onto the podium for third place with a 1:12.82 (740pts).
Paralympic gold medallist in this event Rachael Watson (Chandler) came close, clocking a 40.05 for a total of 845 points to sneak in behind Patterson and ahead of 15-year-old Keira Stephens (Fraser Coast) in 29.02 for 839pts.
Timothy Hodge (Auburn) won the 100m backstroke from Logan Powell (USC Spartans) 1:05.70 and Ricky Betar (Auburn) 1:03.13 while Grant Patterson (Central Cairns) claimed the 150m individual medley from Ahmed Kelly (Melbourne Vicentre).
Heats will commence at 10am with finals from 6:30pm.
Tickets are available online now from just $5 at www.swimming.org.au.