15-Year-Old Atherton Goes 2:08 In 2Back, McEvoy Reigns At NSWs


As expected, the competition took it up a notch this evening, clocking some times that register within the world rankings, less than 2 months out from Australian Olympic Trials. The usual suspects such as Cameron McEvoy and Cate Campbell made their tasks at hand look easy, while other youngsters stepped up to make some magic happen in Sydney on day 1.

Men’s Events

Right off the bat there was a mild upset in the form of 23-year-old David McKeon outperforming distance ace Mack Horton in the 400m freestyle. While Horton beat McKeon at the Queensland Championships back in January, McKeon got the upper hand this morning, clearly beating the teenager by more than 3 seconds. McKeon scored a time of 3:46.48 to slide right into the world rankings as the 2nd-fastest time globally this season.

2015-2016 LCM Men 400 Free

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For perspective, McKeon’s time tonight beat his own 10th place finish of 3:47.36 at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan.

Melbourne Vicentre swimmer Horton still went sub-3:50, registering a time of 3:49.94 to finish 2nd to McKeon. With his evening outing, 19-year-old Horton shaved just about .2 of a second off of his morning performance of 3:50.13, but was still off his 3:47.87 which won the event at the Perth Aquatic Super Series.

The Aussie talent was lacking in the next men’s event, however, as Japan easily swept the 200 butterfly. The trio was led by 17-year-old Nao Horomura, who remarkably threw down a 1:55.81 to clock a new Australian Age Group All Comers Record and narrowly miss the World Junior Record.

For the former record, Horomura overtook the previous All Comer’s Age Group record held by Aussie swimmer Jayden Hadler, who held the mark with his 1:56.28 from 2011. On WJR terms, Horomura fell less than .3 of a second short of Chinese swimmer Li Zhuhao’s record of 1:55.52 he clocked at the 2015 Chinese Championships.

Horomura split the race 55.49/1:00.32, ending his performance on a sub-30 split on the final 50 of 29.50, the only one of the field to do so. Two other teenagers comprised the Japanese sweep, with Takumi Terada taking 2nd in 1:57.88 and Yuya Igari right behind in 1:58.56. The host country’s top finisher was that of Southport Olympic’s Chris Wright who touched in 1:59.32 to settle for 5th place.

The most anticipated men’s race of the night certainly delivered, as we saw 2 sub-49-second swims from the field. Bond’s Cameron McEvoy held on to his #1 position from prelims, stopping the clock at 48.40 to take the victory. Hot on his heels, however, was 17-year-old Kyle Chalmers, who dropped almost a second from his 49.73 morning swim to take the runner-up spot tonight in 48.68.

For the Marion Swim Club teenager Chalmers, his outing tonight was just .21 of a second off of his World Junior Championship title-winning swim of 48.47 from Singapore last summer. Additionally, his speedy result tonight sits just .10 of a second off of McEvoy’s All Comers Age Group Record for 17-year-olds, a time of 48.58 he set back in 2012.

Ravenswood’s James Magnussen still stood on the podium, but not with the time he or his fans would have liked. Yes, Maggie’s 49.22 knocked about a tenth from his morning outing, but with Trials less than 2 months out, a 48-mid/high was almost a must to instill confidence that his shoulder is back to form, at least as far as where the 100 freestyle race is concerned. Maggie split 23.91/25.31.

But, looking at how Maggie performed at this same meet in 2012, the then-21-year-old registered a 49.14 to take the meet win….only to crush a 47.10 at Trials less than two months later.  So, the former World Champion may indeed be on the path to success in light of this history.

But, some positivity from the 24-year-old Olympic silver medalist is that he did split a 21.70 on his club’s winning 200 freestyle relay at the end of the night. That may preview a better showing from Magnussen come the men’s 50 free individual event, which takes place on Sunday.

Additional Men’s Winners:

  • Matthew Treloar and Jake Packard tied for the 50m breaststroke win, both touching in 28.08.
  • Mitch Larkin took the men’s 50m backstroke in a time of 25.23.

Women’s Events

Danish sprinter Jeanette Ottesen clocked the fastest 50m butterfly time of the night, touching in 25.89 to take the win. That mark is just .08 off her season best of 25.81 from the World Cup in Beijing and now sits as the 3rd-fastest time in the world.

2015-2016 LCM Women 50 FLY

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Just behind was 21-year-old Emma McKeon, who improved on her time from January outing at the Victorian Open to settle for silver tonight in 26.08. Veteran Alicia Coutts touched in 26.57 to round out the top 3.

Ottesen also raced in the 100m freestyle event, but fell just short of making the podium, as the home squad swept the top 3 spots. Commercial’s Cate Campbell blew away the field with the only sub-53-second mark of the night, touching in 52.85. That time was just .01 off her 52.84 from December’s Queensland Championships that sits as the top-ranked time in the world this season.

2015-2016 LCM Women 100 Free

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The Campbell sisters, composed of Cate and sister Bronte Campbell, represent the only swimmers to delve into 52-second territory at this point headed into ‘Trials Season’. Bronte was scheduled to swim this event here in Sydney, but was a scratch in prelims, due to battling a head cold, according to Swimming Australia.

McKeon finished as the runner-up for the 2nd time tonight, touching in 53.48 to claim 2nd place in the 100m free, followed by Miami’s Michelle Coleman‘s 54.03. Coleman is unique in that she’s Swedish, but regularly trains in weeks-long stints with Miami Swimming Club, home of distance legend Grant Hackett.

Coleman recently indicated she’d most likely be staying in Australia up through her attempt to make the Swedish squad for Rio. She most recently competed at the Miami Super Challenge in January, where she registered a 100 freestyle time of 54.77 along with a stellar 1:56.07 200 freestyle.

The women’s 100 breaststroke saw some fireworks, as 18-year-old St. Peters and Western’s swimmer Georgia Bohl touched in 1:06.65, just off her 1:06.63 she swam at the Perth Aquatic Super Series in January. Bohl’s time today was earned in splits of 31.38 and 35.27 to drop just under a second off of her morning outing of 1:07.57.

Denmark’s Rikke Pedersen touched in 1:07.53, followed by Sweden’s Jennie Johansson‘s 1:07.59, adding a tenth from her 1:07.49 morning swim. For Johansson, the result today was right in line with where the 27-year-old was at the Victorian Open in January (1:07.56).

With the double World Champion Emily Seebohm absent from prelims, St. Peters and Western’s Madi Wilson took charge, roaring to the wall in a time of 2:08.28 to take the victory.  Wilson’s fastest time of the season was the 2:07.18 she clocked at the Vic Open, but her outing tonight was enough to hold off Brisbane Grammar’s teen sensation Minna Atherton, the World Junior Record Holder in both the 50m and 100m distances of this discpline.

Even without the gold, Atherton’s race tonight was huge. The 15-year-old’s 200 back season-best headed into this meet was the 2:10.67 she scored at the Queensland Championships, so her time today of 2:08.90 blew that away. Atherton’s 2:08.29 now sits as her new personal best, overtaking her own All Comers Age Group Record of 2:09.11 she set back while winning the World Junior Championship title.

This teen phenom is inching ever closer to Russian Daria K. Ustinova’s World Junior Record of 2:07.29 that’s been in place since 2015.

Finishing out the night was Jessica Ashwood‘s stellar 800m freestyle performance, where she clocked a time of 8:19.59. That mark just sits about a second behind her own Australian National Record of 8:18.41 she scored at the 2015 FINA World Championships.

Ashwood also overtakes USA’s Becca Mann for the 2nd-fastest swim of the season, now sitting only behind World Record Holder Katie Ledecky.

2015-2016 LCM Women 800 Free

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Ashwood easily defeated New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle, representing Miami Swimming Club, who finished in 8:32.56 for 2nd place tonight.


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About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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