2022 Commonwealth Games Previews: Aussie Women On Relay Record Watch

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
3:29.69 3:30.04

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 SanchezTaylor 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.

South Africa, with two swimmers sub-55 this year (Aimee Canny, Erin Gallagher) and Emma Chelius not far behind, are a good bet for fourth.

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.

SwimSwam’s Predictions

Rank Nation
1 Australia
2 Canada
3 England
4 South Africa
5 Scotland

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.

Okay, maybe it’s not possible, but not only do the Aussies add Emma McKeon to their team here, but they also bring in the Olympic champion and fastest swimmer ever in a textile suit, Ariarne Titmus.

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 AndersonAbbie WoodFreya 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.

SwimSwam’s Predictions

Rank Nation
1 Australia
2 Canada
3 England
4 South Africa
5 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.

Canada has Kylie Masse on the backstroke lead-off and Maggie MacNeil on fly, giving them two world-class legs, and they’ll presumably turn to Rebecca Smith on free.

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 StrauchAbbey HarkinChelsea 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.

With a solid middle 200 featuring Molly Renshaw and Laura Stephens, the English team projects to take third, while it could end up being close between South Africa and Scotland for fourth.

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.

SwimSwam’s Predictions

Rank Nation
1 Australia
2 Canada
3 England
4 Scotland
5 South Africa

In This Story

27
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of

27 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Oceanian
2 months ago

Does anyone know the status of Jack? Assuming her hand has recovered, surely it caused her to miss a fair bit of training in and out of the pool.

Troyy
Reply to  Oceanian
2 months ago

I hope they give her a go in the mixed 4×100 free heats to see how she is before comitting to putting her in the women’s 4×100 free final.

Jamesjabc
2 months ago

Another interesting fact about Aussie Women in the 100 free: Four different Aussie women are currently the reigning champions in the four major LCM events Australia enters: McKeon 2020 Olympic, O’Callaghan 2022 Worlds, Cate Campbell 2018 Pan Pacs and Bronte Campbell 2018 Comm Games.

STRAIGHTBLACKLINE
2 months ago

The Australian women have a recent record of badly misfiring in the 4X200 but I give them a reasonable chance of breaking the WR as they’ll only be racing against the clock. None of the four swimmers would have to do anything spectacular. Let’s assume O’Callaghan leads off in 1.55.10 which is about two tenths slower than her PB. I think Titmus will make the CG’s her statement for 2022 and she’ll be primed for the 200 now that she has the WR in the 400. But let’s assume she anchors in 1.53.20 which is slightly slower than her standing start PB. This means the two middle legs would have to average splits no slower than 1.56.00. It appears McKeon’s days as an elite 200… Read more »

torchbearer
Reply to  STRAIGHTBLACKLINE
2 months ago

Still dont think Australia has BADLY misfired the last 2 times. They were beaten by better teams on the day, and broke the WR in Tokyo.

Robbos
Reply to  torchbearer
2 months ago

Both Titmus & McKeon swam much slower times than their individuals & MOC should’ve been there ahead of Wilson or Neale, coaches error.
So I supposed it was misfiring in Tokyo.
In Budapest, you are correct. However, even then Wilson was nearly a second slower than her time in the trials.

Last edited 2 months ago by Robbos
torchbearer
Reply to  Robbos
2 months ago

I highlighted badly….may have been slight misfires, but it not as if any of those AUS legs swam a 2.00, or a 1.59, or 1.58 or even a 1.57. All except one were 1.55s or better. McKeon didn’t train for the individual 200m.

commonwombat
2 months ago

Could happen but some major “if” factors are in play

  • how well have tapers been managed between Worlds and now ?
  • just what shape is McKeon in; 4X100 WR probably contingent on someone dropping a split well below 52 ?
  • how much 200 work has McKeon done if you’re dropping her into 4×200 and chasing a WR ?
  • what IS your optimal 4×100 line-up ? McKeon/MOC are givens but Jack wasn’t overly impressive in either 4X100 or MMR in Budapest; is Wilson a better bet ?

WR’s certainly could be in play in the 2 free relays and I’d love to see at least one of them fall but on the actual scale of liklihood; I see the… Read more »

Aussie Swimming
Reply to  commonwombat
2 months ago

McKeon and Molly will both have individual events very close to the relays. Mckeon the Fly semi before the mixed relay, fly final before the final of the womens 4 x 100 and Molly the 100 back before the 4 x 200. All these events are very closely placed making it even more unlikely that world records will be broken. Not impossible just more difficult.

Troyy
Reply to  Aussie Swimming
2 months ago

The schedule really is unfavourable for breaking relay WRs. I wish they’d expand the meet to 7 days especially now they’ve added the mixed relays.

Troyy
Reply to  commonwombat
2 months ago

The triple taper for most of them really is the big question mark.

They have the ability to break the 4×100 free WR even if McKeon is “only” able to split 52.0 (because of form or 100 fly too close too the relay) but they’d all have to fire at the same time which basically doesn’t ever happen.

The 4×100 free final should be MOC, Wilson and McKeon and then one of either Jack or Harris depending on the state of Jack’s injury.

Robbos
Reply to  Troyy
2 months ago

Big question here, fully understand the taper for middle & long distances, but does it affect the sprinters as much, mainly talking 100 free here?

Chalmers swam trials, Olympics & then a WR in short course last season
McKeon also trials, Olympics & was also very quick in ISL season.

Thoughts.

Jamesjabc
Reply to  Robbos
2 months ago

McKeon wasn’t that great in ISL IMO, however she did fantastic at the World Cup (second fastest 100 free ever) which is more comparable to a proper meet than ISL.

commonwombat
Reply to  Jamesjabc
2 months ago

Oh, McKeon was good at ISL however she made the call (and a very financially shrewd one given ISL and delayed payments) to pursue a more secure ‘pay-day’ by going all-in on the World Cup meets during the ISL break. Its probably fair to say that doing that did use up the majority of her remaining Olympic taper legacy.

jpm49
2 months ago

The World dreams that Ariarne Titmus and Summer McIntosh lead off the 800 free relay, stunning appetizer before the 400 free !

Robbos
Reply to  jpm49
2 months ago

Everyone is sleeping on MOC as a 200 free swimmer, 18 years old only & is already a World silver medalist in the event.
McIntosh is the current WRJ holder with a 1.54.79 as Lead off swimmer in the 2022 WC as a 15 year nearly 16 year old.
MOC was the WRJ holder with a 1.55.11 as a Lead off swimmer in the 2021 Olympics as a recently turned 17 year old.

Last edited 2 months ago by Robbos
flicker
Reply to  Robbos
2 months ago

I think a lot of people essentially put an asterisk next to her achievements at worlds because you can list other swimmers that would’ve given her tougher competition and in a way I get it but ultimately its all theoretical and can be applied to a lot of people, theres always swimmers not in a final they’d be competitive in because of event schedules or injuries/illness or even restricted by how many a country is allowed to enter and theres no guarantee that these swimmers swim to their potential in the final anyways

Robbos
Reply to  flicker
2 months ago

I’m not so much talking of the result but her time. If McIntosh had won the 200 free with her time in the relay, would there be an asterisk on her because other swimmers were missing. That is my point.

Meathead
2 months ago

Australian women are clearly best in world in 2022….will be fun to watch

kevin
2 months ago

Fascinated to understand how they have handled the taper from world’s . On paper the free relays look record breaking

Thomas
Reply to  kevin
2 months ago

Half of them didn’t go to Worlds, that’s how they roll when it comes to taper and pressure, Better for them to swim at a non-competitive, low-level sports festival.

Joel
Reply to  Thomas
2 months ago

Worlds was shoved into the calendar in June. Australian swimmers were always going to target the comm games that were on the calendar for years. Stop whinging.

Troyy
Reply to  Thomas
2 months ago

Only two skipped Worlds …

Sub13
Reply to  Thomas
2 months ago

Jesus Christ lol. You American numpties love to talk about how unimportant CGs are… so much that you read every single article about them and constantly comment about how you don’t care. Get a life. If they’re unimportant, why are you commenting on them? It’s really sad lol

Jamesjabc
Reply to  Thomas
2 months ago

Interesting that they demolished the American women in Tokyo then, isn’t it? 8 golds vs 3

Troyy
Reply to  kevin
2 months ago

On paper they do but the schedule is not particularly favourable and the triple taper for most athletes isn’t exactly ideal.

Jacob Whittle 46.90 in Paris
2 months ago

Did someone forget to tell Canada the commonwealth games are on? No Oleksiak, No Pickrem, No Ruck, No Nicol, No Wog

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

Read More »