2022 Commonwealth Games Previews: Australia Eyes Sweep Of Inaugural Mixed Relays

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

After the mixed medley relay made its Olympic debut last summer, both mixed events will take place for the first time at the Commonwealth Games beginning Friday in Birmingham.

The Australians are the clear favorites to sweep the women’s relays, while the men’s events figure to be an intriguing battle between the Aussies and England.

The mixed relays fall somewhere in the middle. Australia, led by their strong female contingent, are the quickest on paper, but the English can put together some fast teams that could challenge for gold.

MIXED 4X100 FREESTYLE RELAY

  • Commonwealth Record: 3:19.38, Australia, 2022 World Championships
  • Commonwealth Games Record: N/A
  • 2018 Commonwealth Champion: N/A

The Australians blasted a new world record in the mixed 400 free relay at the 2022 World Championships in June, producing a time of 3:19.38.

Three of the four members of that squad will compete in Birmingham—Kyle Chalmers, Mollie O’Callaghan and Madi Wilson—while lead-off swimmer Jack Cartwright will not.

However, not only do the Aussies have a few solid candidates to replace Cartwright, led by William Yang, they may even upgrade their back-end with the addition of Emma McKeon.

McKeon is the reigning Olympic champion in the women’s 100 free, and opted to sit out of Worlds. If we simply take the fastest splits produced by the Aussies in Budapest, not even factoring in McKeon, the team theoretically can get under the world record.

Australia, World Record (2022 Worlds) Australia, Fastest Splits (2022 Worlds)
Jack Cartwright – 48.12 William Yang – 48.41
Kyle Chalmers – 46.96 Kyle Chalmers – 46.60
Madi Wilson – 52.25 Mollie O’Callaghan – 52.03
Mollie O’Callaghan – 52.03 Madi Wilson – 52.25
3:19.38 3:19.29

If McKeon is on form, watch out. She split as fast as 51.35 at the Tokyo Olympics, and subbing that in for Wilson would put Australia well into the 3:18s.

But this race isn’t a sure thing, given the strength of Team England.

The quartet of Tom DeanLewis BurrasFreya Anderson and Anna Hopkin represented Great Britain in Budapest and finished fourth in a time of 3:22.44.

However, using each of their fastest splits from the meet, they theoretically could be up to two seconds faster, with the majority of that difference coming from Dean, who split 46.95 on the men’s free relay but only led off in 48.25 here. Along with that, Burras was slower with an exchange (47.86) than he was individually (47.63).

Great Britain, 2022 Worlds England, Fastest Splits (2022 Worlds)
Tom Dean – 48.25 Lewis Burras – 47.63
Lewis Burras – 47.86 Tom Dean – 46.95
Anna Hopkin – 53.27 Freya Anderson – 52.70
Freya Anderson – 53.06 Anna Hopkin – 53.03
3:22.44 3:20.31

All this says is that while Australia is a huge favorite, England could make it a fight if everything fires perfectly. But if everything fires for Australia, it won’t be close.

Like they’ve been in all of the male relays, the Canadians appear to be entrenched in third, with Josh LiendoRuslan Gaziev/Javier AcevedoMaggie MacNeil and Rebecca Smith/Katerine Savard falling somewhere in the 3:23-range (optimal add-up from Budapest = 3:22.84).

Canada was the runner-up to Australia at Worlds in a time of 3:20.61, but lose both female legs in Birmingham with Kayla Sanchez and Penny Oleksiak both out of the lineup.

South Africa and Scotland figure to be in a battle for fourth, with the South Africans potentially looking at having two 48s (Matt Sates, Chad Le Clos) and two 54s (Aimee Canny, Erin Gallagher). We have seen Le Clos sit out of relays in major championships before, but this race comes on the first day, so it’s possible he’s in the finals lineup (though he would have had the 50 fly semis earlier in the session).

Scotland has Duncan Scott and Lucy Hope, and will need big splits from Stephen Milne and Evie Davis to shore them up.

Wales may be a second and a half or so back of them, with no top-tier female freestylers in their arsenal. They’ve got Matt Richards, who split 47.99 in Budapest, but that’s their only real ace.

SwimSwam’s Predictions

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

MIXED 4X100 MEDLEY RELAY

  • Commonwealth Record: 3:37.60, Great Britain, 2021 Olympic Games
  • Commonwealth Games Record: N/A
  • 2018 Commonwealth Champion: N/A

Always an intriguing event, the mixed medley relay in Birmingham should provide plenty of excitement given that we’ll likely see teams take on a few different strategies to try and get to the wall in the shortest amount of time possible.

In the World Championship final last month, three of the top four teams went with a non-traditional strategy and opted to use a woman on backstroke—including the runner-up Aussies and fourth-place Great Britain.

Given the strength of Kaylee McKeown on backstroke and the several options they have on freestyle, the Aussies went WMMW in the event, finishing in a time of 3:41.34.

There’s a good chance, then, that they’ll go with the same lineup in Birmingham, with McKeown, Zac Stubblety-CookMatt Temple and then whoever has been fastest in the meet among Emma McKeonMollie O’CallaghanMadi Wilson and Shayna Jack (Jack swam the Budapest final).

They could also throw Kyle Chalmers onto the freestyle leg and use one of their female breaststrokers, likely Jenna Strauch, but the numbers show using a male breaststroker is clearly the faster option:

Split Comparison (Using fastest relay splits in 2022):

Australia, Option A Australia, Option B
Kaylee McKeown – 58.31 Kaylee McKeown – 58.31
Zac Stubblety-Cook – 58.92 Jenna Strauch – 1:05.99
Matt Temple – 50.75 Matt Temple – 50.75
Mollie O’Callaghan – 52.03 Kyle Chalmers – 46.60
3:40.01 3:41.65

And while Stubblety-Cook was nearly a full second slower on the men’s medley relay (59.88), he would still have a bigger gap to Strauch than Chalmers would to O’Callaghan.

For Great Britain, Medi Harris was used on the lead-off leg in Budapest, but at the Commonwealth Games, she’ll be competing for Wales and thus not an option for England.

It seems likely then that we’ll see England go with the traditional MMWW order, with Luke Greenbank and Adam Peaty joining the mix and Laura Stephens and Freya Anderson/Anna Hopkin closing things off.

Were not exactly sure what Team Canada was going to do in the World Championship final, since they missed it.

But given the swimmers they’re missing in Birmingham, it seems obvious that they’ll go with Kylie Masse and Maggie MacNeil on back and fly, and then have James Dergousoff and Josh Liendo take breast and free duties.

If we compare England and Canada using flat-start times this year (since Peaty hasn’t done any relays), they come within a tenth of one another. We fully expect both Peaty and MacNeil to be much faster than their listed times, so we’ll call it a wash.

England Add-Up (2022 flat-starts) Canada Add-Up (2022 flat-starts)
Luke Greenbank – 53.81 Kylie Masse – 58.39
Adam Peaty – 58.58 James Dergousoff – 1:01.30
Laura Stephens – 58.43 Maggie MacNeil – 57.13
Anna Hopkin – 53.45 Josh Liendo – 47.55
3:44.27 3:44.37

Everything here points to the Canadians needing an epic comeback to overcome England for silver. However, it is something we’ve seen Canada do before—at the 2017 World Championships, Yuri Kisil erased a five-plus-second deficit in the mixed medley relay and brought Canada to the podium in third after sitting seventh at the final exchange.

South Africa could put out a solid lineup that consists of Pieter CoetzeTatjana SchoenmakerChad Le Clos and Aimee Canny, with names like Matt Sates and Erin Gallagher able to sub-in on fly or free depending on who’s fresh.

That likely puts them fourth, though if Schoenmaker is on 1:04 form we could possibly see them catch England or Canada sleeping.

Scotland can put together a decent lineup consisting of Cassie WildRoss MurdochKeanna MacInnes and Duncan Scott, while Wales could put together a roster of Medi HarrisBradley NewmanHarriet Jones/Alys Thomas and Matt Richards.

Both have the potential to be solid and challenge South Africa, though all of the pieces will have to fall into place for either to be sub-3:47.

It should also be acknowledged that this event comes at the tail-end of the penultimate finals session, meaning it’s possible we’ll see multiple nations sit out top names, particularly those with busy schedules.

SwimSwam’s Predictions

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

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Oceanian
2 months ago

Hoping to see a ‘live prelims’ thread show up in an hour or so.

I’m unlikely to be as active in the finals threads as the session times aren’t very Aussie-friendly.

flicker
2 months ago

I haven’t done the math but I imagine if they did use Chalmers on free they’d have Mckeon swim fly instead of bringing in Strauch? either way I don’t see Aus not going with WMMW

Jamesjabc
Reply to  flicker
2 months ago

Yes. There is absolutely no way Australia uses a female breaststroker against Peaty. It’s not going to happen.

Sub13
2 months ago

A woman in backstroke isn’t “non-traditional”. A man in breast and a woman in free are the only clear expectations. Back and fly are interchangeable depending on the team.

I would expect England to go with Cox/Guy over Greenbank/Stephens.

commonwombat
2 months ago

Flynn Southam may be a senior team rookie but he definitely has the greatest “up-side” of any of the potential replacements for Cartwright for AUS MFR.

Will be interesting to see the actual AUS line-up for that race as, if there have been any signs that McKeon is in even good rather than Tokyo form, it would be a complete no-brainer to sub her into this relay, particularly if they’re interested in giving this WR a further nudge. Yes, she may have a 100fly semi in the same session but the quality/depth of that event is such that she can cruise and still have a decent lane.

ENG should be respected but unless 2nd AUS male has a complete… Read more »

White cat
2 months ago

England can use the backstroker LAUREN COX (Who swam 1.00 in trials this year), in fact she is registered, I guess they will continue to opt for WMMW, with james Guy in the butterfly

swimswamer
2 months ago

Is there goin to be a stream for this?

HUGE BDA fan
2 months ago

Don’t sleep on Bermuda.

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 …

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