Cate Campbell makes world sit up and take notice – again
The world has taken another collective sigh of relief after Cate Campbell clocked the fastest time in the world this year in the 100m freestyle heats on the opening day of the Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Championships in Brisbane.
And with a stunning support act, the fastest man in the world Cam McEvoy (Bond Swimming) chimed in with an eye-catching 21.73 – the fastest 50m freestyle time for 2017, a result of no semi-finals in the condensed five-day Championship meet.
Campbell (Commercial) showed she is very much back in the fast lane post Olympics, clocking 52.78 to head an all-star cast of Australia’s Olympic sprint golden girls into tonight’s final – in the same lane and pool she set her world record in last year.
Emma McKeon (St Peters Western) looked very impressive, winning her heat in 53.26, with Campbell’s world champion sister Bronte winning hers in 53.54 with their 18-year-old training partner Shayna Jack putting her hand up with a personal best of 53.60, to finish second to Cate Campbell in the final heat.
Cate Campbell is standing by her decision not to attend this year’s FINA World Championships which will allow one of own her team mates an opportunity to race in the blue ribband event and the rest of the world to chase the world title also.
The 25-year-old, who likens the break she is taking from the Australian team as “a long service holiday” admitted she was “a bit nervous” as she stood smiling behind the blocks.
“Even though I’ve got nothing riding on this, I was still nervous. But you know it’s exciting, I’m trying to channel those nerves into a happy place, so I thought ‘smile, you know what they say – smile and the whole world smiles with you’ that was my motto for the blocks this morning and I’m really pleased with that,” Campbell said.
It was the best of Campbell both in and out of the pool, setting the scene for what will be an exciting opening night of finals at an equally exciting week at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre.
Sister Bronte, who has battled shoulder problems for the past two years, also looked solid as did McKeon, the bronze medallist over 200m at last year’s Olympics.
But one of the most eye-catching swims of the morning did come from Jack, who has emerged as another Simon Cusack success story, clocking under 54 seconds for the first time.
And a glowing report from Campbell for Jack and coach Cusack as well.
“Being beaten by an 18-year-old in training isn’t the best of times and to be honest she is more of a motivator than Bronte, because I’m used to being beaten by Bronte,” Campbell said.
“But an 18-year-old? My ego just can’t quite take it so she is probably responsible for me turning up to training more than anything else.
“It just once again proves just what a great coach Simon is. He has taken people of all shapes and sizes from all different walks of life and he turns them into champions.
“And that is exactly what he has done with Shayna and watching her grow and blossom and change has been really rewarding.
“I’m obviously proud of her but I’m proud of him as well and I’m proud of his achievements and what he has been able to do with her, it proves once again why I work with Simon; because he is the best in the world.”
Places on Australia’s premier women’s relay will also be on the line for Bronte Campbell, McKeon, Jack and an Olympic quartet taking up the other four lanes in what will be the major highlight of the opening night’s finals – the top four will be joined by St Peters Western’s Madison Wilson (54.29); Melbourne Vicentre’s Koti Ngawati (54.44) and Brisbane Grammar pair Emily Seebohm (54.59) and two-time Olympic relay gold medallist and World Short Course champion Brittany Elmslie (54.64).
Olympic silver medallist Mitch Larkin, also now with Cusack, after his switch from Michael Bohl, looked comfortable in taking the fifth of five heats in the 200m backstroke getting into his groove with the fastest qualifying time of 1:58.06.
He is followed by his two former training partners at St Peters Western, Jack Cartwright (1:58.90) and Clyde Lewis (1:59.91) with Larkin’s Rio teammate, Nunawading’s Josh Beaver (1:59.01) next.
“It was just about grooving this morning and finding my stroke as comfortable as possible,” said Larkin.
“I knew if I could swim about a 1:58 I should be pretty good, so pretty happy with that this morning.
“It’s been very different. A lot more speed focussed and a lot less volume. I stopped gym about three weeks ago and my muscles have held up pretty well.
“But it’s great my legs have freshened up and we’ll see what happens tonight!
“Usually the 200 is towards the end, so I think this gives me a good chance to get a good 200 out and then the 100 is next which is fantastic!”
In other events Rio relay bronze medallist David Morgan (TSS Aquatic) heads the qualifiers in the men’s 100m butterfly, winning his heat in 52.69.
McEvoy will be joined by fellow Olympic relay bronze medallist James Roberts (Somerset) 22.38 and Bond team mates Alexander Graham (22.52) and Brayden McCarthy who survived a swim off with Cameron Jones (St Peters Western) to clock 22.79 to crack the top eight.
Olympic champion Mack Horton (Melbourne Vicentre) 3:49.52 was the second fastest qualifier for the 400m freestyle alongside Rio team mates David McKeon (St Peters Western) the quickest in 3:49.23 and Jack McLoughlin (Chandler) 3:49.79 while World Short Course representative Jessica Hansen (Nunawading) heads the qualifiers in the 50m breaststroke after a stunning personal best of 31.19 – just outside the Australian All-Time Top 10.
And Australia’s Rio Paralympic heroes will also be in action tonight with Rachael Watson (Chandler) 1:27.30, Maddie Elliott (NU Swim) 1:06.03, Lakeisha Patterson (Lawnton) 1:06.20, Ellie Cole (Unattached) 1:03.99, Monique Murphy (Southport) 1:03.58 all lining up in the 100m freestyle Multi-Class 100m freestyle final.
In the men’s 100m freestyle Multi Class Rio winner Daniel Fox (USC Spartans) 53.58, Jack Ireland (UQ Swim Club) 54.31 and Paralympic gold medallist Timothy Disken (PLC Aquatic) 55.65 posted the fastest three times.
The 100m breaststroke will see another Rio golden girl Tiffany Thomas-Kane (Ravenswood) 1:40.23 in action while Grant Patterson (Central Cairns) 2:18.37 and Ahmed Kelly (Melbourne Vicentre) 1:55.40.