Olympic gold medal backstroker Kaylee McKeown has joined her sister Taylor in the breaststroke hierarchy while Ariarne Titmus digs deep in the 400m freestyle and Sam Short continues his climb up the rankings.
That’s how the night three finals unfolded as the surprises kept coming at the Australian Swimming Championships at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.
And none bigger than McKeown (Griffith University, QLD) who pulled a real rabbit out of her kit bag winning her maiden 200m breaststroke title – and joining Olympian sister Taylor (2014) on a star-studded list.
The girl who wooed the Olympic stage in Tokyo with her three Olympic gold medals, swimming backstroke, left the established specialist breaststrokers in her wake to clock a huge personal best and the eighth fastest time by an Australian with her 2:24.18.
Saying afterwards that with her sister now retired she thought she better fill in for Taylor.
“It is just a real fun event for me and it was all about having no nerves and just coming out and giving it a real red hot crack,” said McKeown.
“And despite swimming under a heavy training load, it just makes it all the more interesting …and looking forward to getting some good rest (before Trials in June) and taper time, so I’m looking forward to that.”
McKeown timed her race to perfection, working her third 50 and turning in front wth ne lap o go to snatch the victory from fellow Olympian Abbey Harkin (St Peters Western, QLD) in 2:25.72 and Miami QLD’s 2022 World Championship silver medallist Jenna Strauch (2:25.94).
While Titmus (St Peters Western, QLD) looked impressive while still in a heavy training block in her win in the 400m over world short course champion Lani Pallister (Griffith University, QLD) 4:05.86 and St Peters-based New Zealand Olympian Eve Thomas, swimming a personal best of 4:06.91 for third.
“It’s hard to know where you are at the moment with training being pretty tough,” Titmus said after her return to racing after Canadian Summer McIntosh broke her world record late last month.
“This meet is more about going out there and seeing what you’ve got while you are a but tired, but that’s fun to have a bit of a mental reprieve and to come here and race and that’s why we do it.”
And there is no stopping Rackley Swim Team’s Short, who raced up the World and Australian rankings with his 7:42.96 personal best to add the 800m freestyle to his wins in the 400m and the 1500m – his 400m the fastest time in the world this year and tonight’s 800 sitting him second.
Short now has only Olympic champions Grant Hackett (7:38.65) and Ian Thorpe (7:39.16) and Olympic silver medallist Jack McLoughlin (7:42.51) ahead of him – with tonight’s swim forging him in front of two other Australian Olympic champions Mack Horton and Kieren Perkins and world champion Elijah Winnington, (St Peters Western, QLD) who hung on for second tonight in 7:49.81 with Matthew Galea(SOPAC, NSW) third in 7:58.64.
It rockets the boy from Rackleys to 18th All-Time in history for the event added to the Olympic program for Tokyo with Hackett and Thorpe still sitting in fourth and fifth all-time respectively – leaving Short hovering around the very best there has ever been.
In one of the most inspiring wins of the night, former Australian triathlete Alexa Leary (St Hilda’s, QLD) has assured herself a place in the Australian Para Swim team for this year’s World Championships – winning the 100m freestyle in an automatic qualifying timer of 1:01.08.
Leary survived an horrific accident while riding her bike in training two years, coming out of an induced coma to fight her way back to life and to sport as she plots her pathway towards a place on the Paralympic team to Paris in 2024.
He Gold Coaster will join the likes of two-time Paralympic golden boy and one of the faces of the team, Rowan Crothers S10 (Yeronga Park, QLD), who clocked a second automatic qualifying time to win the men’s 100m freestyle in 52.05.
The bald head of Crothers, who captured the imagination of the Australian public in Tokyo, powered away from another qualifier in Tokyo bronze medallist Tom Gallagher S10 (Somerset, QLD) 52.89 and Jack Ireland S14 (University of Queensland) 52.83.
The Para Dolphins team for this year’s World Championships will be officially announced tomorrow night, following the final night’s competition.
Meanwhile in other swims tonight:
Tokyo Olympian Tommy Neill also shone in a switch to all the strokes with the man who anchored Australia to its bravest bronze in Tokyo in the 4x200m freestyle, clocking a personal best and a rankings top 10 time of 1:58.99 to win the 200m individual medley.
Triple Olympian from 2012, 2016 and 2020, Cameron McEvoy (Sommerville House, QLD) under coach Tim Lane, showed that there is plenty to give towards a possible fourth Games in Paris with his impressive win in the 50m freestyle.
The 28-year-old taking the one lap dash in 22.11 from Tom Nowakowski (Somerset, QLD) in 22.17 and rising teenager Flynn Southam (Bond, QLD) backing up after his second place finish to Kai Taylor in the 200m last night, taking third in 22.32.
Mollie O’Callaghan (St Peters Western, QLD) continuing to change things up with another win, this time in the 50m backstroke and in her second personal best of the week, she took out the 50m backstroke in as personal best of 27.42 – with only McKeown and four-time Olympian and former world record holder Emily Seebohm ahead of her.
Matthew Temple’s impressive 100m butterfly win in 51.49 (24.04) for the Marion, SA club, never headed down the final lap to hold off the breakthrough boy from Bond, QLD Ben Armbruster (51.96) and New South Welshman Shaun Champion under coach Amanda Isaac, third in 52.01.
Commonwealth Games multi medal-winning backstroker from the NSW Central Coast, Bradley Woodward (SOPAC, NSW) adding the 100m to his 200m win in 54.66 ahead of Bond-based Visitor Mark Nikolaev (54.76) and fastest qualifier Ty Hartwell (Chandler, QLD) 54.83 – in a blanket finish.
- Cameron McEvoy (Somerville House, QLD) 22.11
- Tom Nowakowski (Somerset, QLD) 22.17
- Flynn Southam (Bond, QLD) 22.32
- Sam Short (Rackley Swim Team, QLD) 7:42.96
- Elijah Winnington (St Peters Western, QLD) 7:49.81
- Matthew Galea (SOPAC, NSW) 7:58.64
- Bradley Woodward (Mingara, NSW) 54.66
- Mark Nikolaev (Russia) 54.76
- Ty Hartwell (Chandler, QLD) 54.83
200m individual medley
- Tommy Neill (Rackley Swim Team, QLD) 1:58.99
- Finlay Knox (Canada) 1:59.19
- William Petric (Nunawading, VIC) 2:00.84
100m freestyle Multi Class
- Rowan Crothers S10 (Yeronga Park, QLD) 52.05
- Tom Gallagher S10 (Somerset, QLD) 52.89
- Jack Ireland S14 (University of Queensland, QLD) 52.83
- Matthew Temple (Marion, SA) 51.49
- Ben Armbruster (Bond, QLD) 51.96
- Shaun Champion (Abbotsleigh, NSW) 52.01
50m backstroke Multi Class
- Timothy Hodge (ACU Blacktown, NSW) 29.26
- Declan Budd (Knox Pymble, NSW) 31.46
- Dylan Logan (Melbourne, VIC) 29.15
- Ariarne Titmus (St Peters Western, QLD) 4:00.49
- Lani Pallister (Griffith University, QLD) 4:05.86
- Eve Thomas (New Zealand) 4:06.10
- Brianna Throssell (St Peters Western, QLD) 26.06
- Alexandria Perkins (USC Spartans, QLD) 26.26
- Lily Price (Rackley Swim Team, QLD) 26.46
100m freestyle Multi Class
- Alexa Leary S9 (St Hilda’s, QLD) 1:01.08
- Emily Beecroft S9 (USC Spartans, QLD) 1:03.93
- Jasmine Greenwood S10 (Cruiz, ACT) 1:02.47
50m backstroke Multi Class
- Madeleine McTernan S14 (All Saints, QLD) 33.07
- Hannah Price S10 (Campbelltown, NSW) 34.98
- Michelle Fawer S10 (Engadine, NSW) 35.40
- Mollie O’Callaghan (St Peters Western, QLD) 27.42
- Bronte Job (Rackley Swim Team, QLD) 28.21
- Jaclyn Barclay (St Peters Western, QLD) 28.23
- Kaylee McKeown (Griffith University, QLD) 2:24.18
- Abbey Harkin (St Peters Western, QLD) 2:25.72
- Jenna Strauch (Miami, QLD) 2:25.94