Aussie golden girls set the pace in Perth at Aquatic Super Series
Australia’s next generation of golden girls Emma McKeon along with both Cate and Bronte Campbell have continued their run of success on the international stage clocking some impressive early season times on the opening night of the BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series.
As the sun began to set over HBF Stadium in Perth and the crowd filled the stands, McKeon lined up behind the blocks for the first event of the night, the women’s 200m freestyle.
The Commonwealth Games gold medallist in this event, McKeon set the standard early, streaking ahead of the field to pick up her first win of the evening with a time of 1:56.32.
Coached by Vince Raleigh at the Chandler Aquatic Centre in Brisbane, McKeon was too strong for China’s Duo Shen who snuck into second place in 1:57.52, just getting the better of Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Bronte Barratt who was third in 1:57.97.
Under an hour later, McKeon was back in the pool fighting for first place in the women’s 100m butterfly alongside fellow Australian Brittany Elmslie. With both McKeon and Elmslie stroke for stroke at the turn, it was McKeon who managed to get the better of her teammate and once again pick up the maximum points for Australia with a time of 58.24. Elmslie had to settle for silver, touching just behind in 58.49 with Ying Lu from China relegated to third in 58.88.
Later on in the night the Commonwealth Games gold and silver medallists Cate and Bronte Campbell demonstrated their dominance in the women’s 50m freestyle as they convincingly took the top two spots in the splash and dash.
Cate was first to the wall in a time of 24.03, just 0.07 of a second outside her Commonwealth and Australian record time of 23.96, with Bronte also impressing, securing the silver in 24.24, a great sign of things to come on the road to Rio for the pair.
Cate and Bronte were surprised with their speed at this time of the season, with Cate coming off the back of shoulder surgery last year and both in the middle of heavy training leading into the Australian Championships in April.
“That was quick!” Cate said. “I knew that I would have to be really quick to beat Bronte. She’s been swimming amazingly well and for her that is right on her personal best so to be doing those times off the kind of training she has been doing is really encouraging and obviously I am within a tenth of my best so I am really, really thrilled.
"No one likes to be beaten and I am no exception – even if it is going to be by Bronte. It’s really important to keep that confidence up and I am really pleased. It shows that I have lots more improving to do because I am still not back to 100 per cent, training wise,” she said.
Bronte said her speed was encouraging with her time just 0.04 off her personal best from 2014.
“That was really surprising. I’m not in the best shape coming into this meet – I’ve still got a bit of work of work to do before trials. So that’s really, really encouraging – I wasn’t expecting that at all.
"It’s always fun to come out in front of this crowd and race. There’s nothing quite like a race on home soil to get you pumped up and ready to go so I’m really pleased with that,” Bronte said.
The speedy sisters will line up for the 100m freestyle tomorrow night and will go in as the ones to beat.
Meanwhile in the men’s 100m freestyle, the domestic rivalry between James Magnussen and Cameron McEvoy continued as the boys battled for bragging rights in front of a home crowd.
After taking turns at the top in 2014 - with one win each at the major international meets; Magnussen at the Commonwealth Games and McEvoy at the Pan Pacific Championships, the tussle for the title was on again tonight.
It was Magnussen who managed to get the better of his teammate to take the points for Australia in a time of 48.43 ahead of McEvoy in 48.76.
The pair will meet again at the 2015 Australian Championships where they will be racing for a spot on the World Championships team and for Magnussen, a chance to win his third consecutive world title in the event.
Third place went to the silver medallist from the 2013 World Championships Jimmy Feigen from the USA in 49.17.
Australia’s Jessica Ashwood dug deep for the Australian team tonight with a sprint finish in the women’s 800m freestyle. The Australian record holder in the event, Ashwood left nothing in the tank to overtake Becca Mann (8:24.13) from the USA in the final 50 metres to steal the win and the maximum amount of points for the event in a time of 8:24.04.
Despite her best efforts, Mann couldn’t hold on to the lead and was left to settle for second place in a time of 8:24.13. China took third place with Yuhan Zhang touching in 8:31.10.
In other events…
Women’s 100m Breaststroke
Less than one second separated the top six competitors in the women’s 100m breaststroke with Kanako Watanabe stealing the win at the wall from the USA’s Micah Lawrence by 0.02 of a second. Watanabe won the event in a time of 1:07.46 with Lawrence second in 1:07.48 and Katie Meili, also from the USA taking third spot in 1:07.54.
The Australian representatives and training partners back home in Brisbane, Taylor McKeown and Lorna Tonks were fourth and fifth respectively in 1:07.80 and 1:07.91.
Men’s 400m Freestyle
The men’s 400m freestyle saw Mack Horton and David McKeon go stroke for stroke through the eight laps, with Horton just getting the better of McKeon at the wall to take the win. Horton stopped the clock in 3:46.48, a fingertip ahead of McKeon in 3:46.74 with Michael McBroom of the USA third in 3:51.09.
Men’s 100m Backstroke
The men’s 100m backstroke featured a fierce line up with Olympic silver medallist from Japan, Ryosuke Irie (53.15) eventually taking the win ahead of Olympian and rising star in China Jiayu Xu in 53.96 and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Mitch Larkin in 54.21.
The USA’s 11-time Olympic medallist Ryan Lochte narrowly missed out on a top three finish with a time of 54.88.
Men’s 200m Butterfly
Japan continued their winning ways with Daiya Seto claiming the top spot in the men’s 200m butterfly in a time of 1:55.61. Silver medallist from the Commonwealth Games, Grant Irvine, was second in 1:56.84 with Yuya Yajima of Japan third in 1:57.38.
Women’s 200m Individual Medley
The United States added to their point score through 21-year-old Maya Dirado who stole the win from Olympian gold medallist Ye Shiwen by just 0.02 of a second. Dirado hit the wall in 2:11.48 to relegate Shiwen to second place in 2:11.50 while Australia’s Emily Seebohm was third in 2:12.06. Fellow Australian Keryn McMaster finished in seventh place with a time of 2:13.84.
Men’s 200m Breaststroke
Japan continued to shine in the breaststroke events with Yasuhiro Koseki stopping the clock at 2:10.45 to take first place and his teammate Ippei Watanabe clocking a 2:11.86 for third. Second place went to Cody Miller from the USA in 2:11.35.
The Australian duo of Jake Packard (2:14.56) and Buster Sykes (2:14.95) finished in fifth and seventh place respectively.
Women’s 200m Backstroke
After finishing third in the women’s 200m IM earlier in the night, Emily Seebohm was back in the water in the 200m backstroke, this time working her way up to second spot in a time of 2:09.97. Seebohm came home strong to finish just behind Yuanhui Fu from China who hit the wall in 2:08.84. Gold medallist from the 200m IM, Maya Dirado was also back in the water, this time taking third in 2:10.40.
After making her Australian Swim Team debut in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games, Madison Wilson finished fourth tonight in 2:10.51.
Men’s 400m Individual Medley
Swimming in two of the toughest events on tonight’s schedule, just minutes apart, Daiya Seto followed up from his winning swim in the men’s 200m butterfly to take top spot in the men’s 400m individual medley. Seto was too strong for the rest of the field, taking the win almost three seconds clear of his closest competitor in a time of 4:13.36. Second place went to Seto’s teammate Takeharu Fujimori in 4:16.05 with China’s Shun Wang third in 4:16.07. Australia’s Thomas Fraser-Holmes was fourth in 4:17.26 with teammate Travis Mahoney sixth in 4:21.98.
Women’s 4x50m Freestyle Relay
Australia’s A team picked up the points in the women’s 4x50m freestyle relay with the team of Brittany Elmslie, Emma McKeon, Cate Campbell and Bronte Campbell hitting the wall in 1:37.68. All four swimmers clocked a sub-25-second time with Cate’s relay split recorded at a speedy 23.76.
The USA were second in 1:40.02 with China rounded out the top three in 1:42.33.
Men’s 4x50m Medley Relay
In the men’s 4x50m medley relay the USA managed to hold onto an early lead to take the win in a time of 1:38.69. The Australian quartet of Mitch Larkin, Jake Packard, Tommaso D’Orsogna and Cameron McEvoy attempted to chase them down but had to settle for second place in 1:38.84. Third place was awarded to Japan in 1:39.23.
The BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series is a team competition with each swimmer racing for points for their team with the best placed swimmer from each nation taking home 24, 20, 18 or 14 points respectively for each event.
The point score following the first night of competition stands at Australia (318), United States (284), China (270), Japan (268).
Following the night’s swimming events, the Australian Women’s Water Polo team, the Aussie Stingers took on China in a tightly fought battle that saw the home team emerge victorious 14-8.
At half time there was little separating the two teams, with Australia just ahead by one goal but the Aussie Stingers got the better of their Chinese rivals in the third quarter, extending their lead to be up 9-6.
The final quarter was a thriller with Rowie Webster kicking off proceedings in a quarter that saw the Aussies grab five goals and only concede two.
Day 2 of the BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series will see the Aussie Sharks take on the USA in Water Polo from 3:45pm (local time) and Australia take on China, Japan and the USA in swimming from 5.30pm.