2022 COMMONWEALTH GAMES
- Friday, July 29 – Wednesday, August 3, 2022
- Birmingham, England
- Sandwell Aquatic Center
- Start Times
- Prelims: 10:30 am local / 5:30 am ET
- Finals: 7:00 pm local / 2:00 pm ET
- LCM (50m)
- Meet Central
- Event Schedule
- Entry List
- Entries (in seed order) – h/t to Troyy
Any notion that the Australian and Canadian women would have an exciting battle in the relay events at the 2022 Commonwealth Games can be thrown out the window.
While the two nations were relatively close to one another in all three relays at the World Championships in June, with Australia getting the better of the Canadians each time out, they have gone in opposite directions in terms of who they’ll have in Birmingham.
The Aussies are bringing an improved version of the squad they sent to Budapest, while Canada has lost three relay stalwarts which shuts down any hope of upsetting the Australians.
Australia has swept the women’s relays at four consecutive Commonwealth Games, and barring a major upset or disqualification, it seems 2022 will make it five.
WOMEN’S 4X100 FREESTYLE RELAY
- Commonwealth Record: 3:29.69, Australia, 2021 Olympic Games
- Commonwealth Games Record: 3:30.05, Australia, 2018
- 2018 Commonwealth Champion: Australia, 3:30.05
The Aussies have long been the standard in the 4×100 free relay, and coming off a decisive victory at the World Championships, they bolster their roster with the addition of reigning 100 free Olympic champion Emma McKeon.
Bringing in McKeon gives Australia the current Olympic and world champion in the 100 free, with 18-year-old Mollie O’Callaghan having won the world title in Budapest.
They’ve also got Shayna Jack, who was coming into Worlds seeded second overall behind O’Callaghan but was forced to withdraw from the individual event after breaking her hand in warmup. Jack has been 52.60 flat start this year, second to only O’Callaghan (52.49), and if we add in Madison Wilson (52.99) and Meg Harris (53.09), Australia has four of the top seven 100 freestylers this year without even factoring in McKeon.
It’s almost not fair how strong Australia is here.
Four years ago on the Gold Coast, the Australian team broke the world record in this event, and there’s a great chance it will happen again. Not even adjusting for relay takeovers, the swims from O’Callaghan, Jack and Wilson this year, along with McKeon’s Olympic-winning effort from Tokyo of 51.96, add up to 3:30.04, putting them just 35 one-hundredths shy of the record.
|Current World Record (AUS, 2021)||Australian Add Up (Flat Starts Only)|
|Bronte Campbell – 53.01||Emma McKeon – 51.96|
|Meg Harris – 53.09||Mollie O’Callaghan – 52.49|
|Emma McKeon – 51.35||Shayna Jack – 52.60|
|Cate Campbell – 52.24||Madison Wilson – 52.99|
The Canadian team managed to get by the United States and win silver in both Tokyo and Budapest, finishing 1.2 seconds back of Australia at Worlds this year after trailing by more than three at the Olympics.
Of course, Australia was missing a few key members at the World Championships, and the Canadians got a bit faster than they were at the Games, but in Birmingham, Canada is losing three-quarters of that lineup from Budapest.
Kayla Sanchez, Taylor Ruck and Penny Oleksiak will all be absent, leaving Maggie MacNeil as the sole swimmer remaining from the Worlds final. Rebecca Smith split 53.63 in the Olympic final, and Katerine Savard reeled off a career-best 54.05 split on the prelim relay at Worlds.
It looks like the fourth member of the team could very well be Summer McIntosh, who specializes in distances 200 and up but set a personal best of 55.43 in the 100 free in May and should be capable of a 54-low split at least, given she opened her 200 free at Worlds in 56.2 (flat start).
But the conclusion here is that it’s a clear first for Australia, a *relatively* clear second for Canada.
Behind them, the team depth drops off with Great Britain being divided into England, Scotland and Wales.
However, England brings in a very strong roster, and the Canadians will need to be on their toes in order to secure silver.
The English team is headlined by the top sprinters in Great Britain, Anna Hopkin and Freya Anderson, along with consistent relay performer Abbie Wood and a fourth member, Bella Hindley, who was 55.23 in April.
Scotland is led by Lucy Hope, who owns a best time of 53.89, but their depth drops after that.
There are only seven teams entered in this race, with Northern Ireland and Guernsey the other two, meaning there will be no prelims.
WOMEN’S 4X200 FREESTYLE RELAY
- Commonwealth Record: 7:41.29, Australia, 2021 Olympic Games
- Commonwealth Games Record: 7:48.04, Australia, 2018
- 2018 Commonwealth Champion: Australia, 7:48.04
The 4×200 free relay is a similar story to the 4×100, though if it’s possible, Australia might be even stronger here.
Titmus, McKeon, O’Callaghan and Wilson give Australia a mind-boggling quartet here. The Aussies have been favorites in this race at both the Tokyo Olympics and to a lesser extent this year’s World Championships, and failed to get the job done both times.
While the victory really isn’t in question here, the possibility of a world record, especially with the pressure off (no China or USA breathing down their neck), is.
Simply taking the fastest flat-start times done by Titmus (1:53.31), O’Callaghan (1:54.94) and Wilson (1:55.86) this year, along with McKeon’s time from 2021 (1:54.74), and we get 7:38.85—a time nearly a second and a half under China’s world record of 7:40.33.
The Aussies had a similar add-up coming into Tokyo, and that didn’t work out. We’re not saying it will here, but there’s a great chance it does.
Unlike the 400 free relay, Canada at least keep their strongest swimmer intact in this race, as Summer McIntosh led off the 800 free relay in Budapest in a time that would’ve won the individual 200 free world title (1:54.79).
They’ll be rounded out by Savard, Smith and Mary-Sophie Harvey, all three of whom swam the heats in Budapest. Harvey was 1:57.9 flat-start at Worlds, and Smith (1:57.4) and Savard’s (1:57.7) fastest swims in the last year or so are in a similar range. That puts them in position to take second, though it could be up to 10 seconds behind the Aussies.
In total, this race only has five entrants, with England, Scotland South Africa being the other three.
With Freya Anderson, Abbie Wood, Freya Colbert and Tamryn van Selm, England should be able to put together a solid result and maybe even challenge the Canadian team for silver, with their 2022 flat-start add-up coming in around the 7:50 range.
South Africa has three swimmers 2:00.7 or better this year, led by Aimee Canny at 1:58.34, which should give them the edge over Scotland.
WOMEN’S 4X100 MEDLEY RELAY
- Commonwealth Record: 3:51.60, Australia, 2021 Olympic Games
- Commonwealth Games Record: 3:54.36, Australia, 2018
- 2018 Commonwealth Champion: Australia, 3:54.36
The women’s 400 medley relay will almost have a full heat of teams—seven entries.
The Canadian roster in the medley is more intact compared to the free relays, but they’ve only got one breaststroke option now that Sydney Pickrem has withdrawn.
Sophie Angus won the women’s 100 breaststroke at the Canadian Trials but added more than a second in the World Championship prelims and ended up losing her medley relay spot to Kelsey Wog (prelims) and Rachel Nicol (final).
Neither Wog or Nicol are in Birmingham, so the Canadians will hope to see a rebound performance from Angus, though it likely won’t matter.
That’s because the Australians are once again a juggernaut to win gold here.
Kaylee McKeown likely has a slight edge on Masse on backstroke (though Masse out-split in her this relay at Worlds), and it’s a toss-up between Emma McKeon and MacNeil on butterfly. But even if those legs are even between the two countries, Australia has three breaststroke options faster than Angus’ 1:07.6 this year (Jenna Strauch, Abbey Harkin, Chelsea Hodges).
On top of that, they’ve got the reigning world champion, Mollie O’Callaghan, to bring them home on free.
So once again it appears to be relatively clear: 1. Australia, 2. Canada, and then England likely slotting into the bronze medal spot.
Both teams have one leg significantly stronger than the other, as the Scots have a sub-1:00 lead-off in Cassie Wild and then the South Africans could make up three seconds on breaststroke if Tatjana Schoenmaker is firing on all cylinders.
Using their fastest flat-start times from this year, Scotland comes out on top by just over a second, and given that Lucy Hope split 54-flat on freestyle at Worlds (and has only been 55.1 flat-start this year), we’ll give the edge to the Scots.