World Champion Ariarne Titmus (St Peters Western) has made a successful return to the pool, capturing gold in the Women’s 200m Freestyle on the first morning of finals at the 2021 Australian Swimming Championships.
Forced on the sidelines last year due to a shoulder injury, Thursday morning’s final was Titmus’ first real hit out in 12 months – and she wasn’t going to let the opportunity go to waste. Clocking a time of 1:55.43, the 20-year-old was pushed all the way to the wall by Marion’s Madi Wilson (1:56.26) who claimed silver, while UWA West Coast’s Brianna Throssell touched in 1:57.29 for bronze.
Speaking after her race at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, Titmus said she was pleased with the result given where she is at with her training and a new experience of racing finals in the morning.
“It was a good first swim, very different in the morning. I didn’t really know what it was going to be like. I definitely felt like I had to get things moving a bit more in the warm-up, just waking up that bit earlier,” Titmus said.
“I get a lot of confidence from training well but it’s another thing to be performing in races. I came into this meet not rested and I can’t afford to miss anything else after the break that I had.”
In a nail bitter of a final, Southport’s Chelsea Hodges claimed her first Australian Open title, snaring victory in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke with a time of 1:07.14. Hodges edged out Australian Dolphins Abbey Harkin (St Peters Western) (1:07.27) and Jess Hansen (Cruiz) (1:07.41) to etch her name in the history books.
Swimming in her home pool, Hodges was elated with her victory.
“It’s pretty exciting. I've been looking forward to having the opportunity to go for an open final for a while. It's been a good last couple of years, I’ve been putting a lot of work in so it’s finally my time to come up with the big girls,” Hodges said.
“My coach and I, we've been together for 12 years now. I have been with Sean (Eels) since I was eight years old, always been here in Southport. So, it's been really nice to do that with him.”
First-time title winners were aplenty this morning, with Jenna Forrester (St Peters Western) narrowly beating Hunter’s Meg Bailey for the Women’s 400m Individual Medley crown. Going stroke for stroke in the last 100m, it was a hard-fought finish for Forrester, touching in 4:39.46, 0.13 seconds ahead of Bailey, 4:39.59. Blair Evans (UWA West Coast) placed third in 4:48.73 to claim bronze.
In his second meet back since shoulder surgery, Marion’s Kyle Chalmers claimed the Australian title in the Men’s 200m Freestyle from Dolphins teammates Alex Graham (Bond) and Elijah Winnington (St Peters Western). Chalmers touched in 1:47.03 ahead of Graham and Winnington, who posted 1:47.07 and 1:47.55, respectively.
St Peters Western’s Mitch Larkin claimed gold and another national title in the Men’s 50m Backstroke. Cruising home comfortably in 24.75, Larkin touched ahead of St Andrew’s Andrew Rice (25.87) and Yeronga Park’s Jye Cornwell (26:00) to claim the silver and bronze, respectively.
Queensland young gun Kaylee McKeown (USC Spartans) secured the Women’s 50m Backstroke Australian title and All Comers record in 27.45. Triple Olympian Emily Seebohm (Griffith University) claimed silver in 27.94, while Wilson (28.13) added a bronze to the silver she picked up in the 200m freestyle earlier in the morning.
Chandler’s Zac Stubblety-Cook took top spot on the podium in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke in a time of 59.87, nabbing gold ahead of SOPAC’s Matt Wilson (1:00.27) and USC Spartan’s Jake Packard (1:00.87) who bagged the silver and bronze respectively.
In the final individual event of the morning – the Men’s 400m Individual Medley – Victorian Brendon Smith blitzed the competition in an impressive 4:15.48, touching nearly six seconds ahead of his Nunawading counterpart Elliot Rogerson (4:21.09). MLC Flipper, Thomas Hauck (All Saints GC), took third in 4:21.17 to round out the top three spots.