2023 Australian World Championship Trials: Day 2 Finals Live Recap


We’re in for a high-octane set of finals on day two of the 2023 Australian World Championship Trials. The men’s 100m back, women’s 100m breast, men’s 200m free, women’s 100m back and men’s 50m fly are all on the agenda as racers aim to qualify for next month’s World Championships in Fukuoka.

We’ll see Kaylee McKeown carry her momentum from a 200m IM victory into the women’s 100m back against the likes of fellow Olympian Mollie O’Callaghan. 3rd-seeded Madi Wilson has dropped the event.

As for the 200m free, Kyle Chalmers claimed the top seed out of the heats, but he has pulled out of the final. That paves the way for 400m free silver medalist here Elijah Winnington to make a run at the gold. However, Chalmers’ morning time of 1:46.97 most likely laid his marker for a spot on the 4x200m free relay.

Cameron McEvoy continued to prove he’s coming back to form with a swift morning outing in the men’s 50m fly; however, Commonwealth Games racer Cody Simpson will look to beat him to the wall in the fast and furious race. Of note, Ben Armbruster, the All Comers Record holder was missing from this morning’s heats.

Stay tuned and refresh for live updates as the action unfolds.


  • World Record: 51.60, Thomas Ceccon (2022)
  • Commonwealth Record: 52.11, Mitch Larkin (2015)
  • Australian Record: 52.11, Mitch Larkin (2015)
  • All Comers Record: 52.38, Mitch Larkin (2019)
  • Swimming Australia QT: 53.00
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 54.03

GOLD – Isaac Cooper 53.46
SILVER – Bradley Woodward 53.85

BRONZE – Josh Edwards-Smith 54.52

19-year-old Isaac Cooper punched a winning result of 53.46 to take this men’s 100m back, clocking his fastest time in 15 months. This was after technical difficulties this morning which delayed the heats by about 30 minutes. Cooper said post-race he seems to have ‘a magnetism’ for technical difficulties.

In the 50m back at last year’s Short Course World Championships, Cooper was the top seed headed into finals and initially swam the fastest time in the final before a re-swim was called for due to a starting error. In the re-swim, Cooper placed 2nd.

Cooper’s lifetime best in this event rests at the 53.43 he notched in Tokyo so the teen was just .03 outside of that mark. Unfortunately, he needed to nail at least 53.00 to make the grade for Fukuoka. However, the Aussies will need a backstroke for the medley relay, therefore, Cooper will most likely get a nod.

Runner-up status went to Bradley Woodward who produced 53.85 while Josh Edwards-Smith bagged bronze in 54.52.


  • World Record: 1:04.13, Lilly King (2017)
  • Commonwealth Record: 1:04.82, Tatjana Schoenmaker (2021)
  • Australian Record: 1:05.09, Leisel Jones (2006)
  • All Comers Record: 1:05.09, Leisel Jones (2006)
  • Swimming Australia QT: 1:06.40
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 1:07.35

GOLD – Abbey Harkin 1:07.20
SILVER – Mikayla Smith 1:07.94

BRONZE – Talara-Jade Dixon 1:08.64

Unfortunately for the Aussies, they’re still missing a lethal breaststroker to make a dent both individually and in the medley relay. As a refresher, Jenna Strauch and Chelsea Hodges both are not swimming here due to injuries.

Nevertheless, 25-year-old Abbey Harkin got to the wall first, producing a winning effort of 1:07.20. She represented one of two swimmers to dip under 1:08, joined by Griffith University’s Mikayla Smith who touched in 1:07.94. Talara-Jade Dixon wrapped up the top 3 in 1:08.64.

Harkin nabbed the Aussie national title in April in a time of 1:07.77 so she knocked over half a second off of that to take the gold here. However, Swimming Australia set the QT at a stiff 1:06.40. With Harkin owning a PB of 1:06.88, that cut would have taken a monster swim to meet.

This still leaves the question as to who could potentially swim the breaststroke leg on the women’s medley relay in Fukuoka and even in Paris. We took a look at a few of the options in our analysis here.


  • World Record: 1:42.00, Paul Biedermann (2009)
  • Commonwealth Record: 1:44.06, Ian Thorpe (2001)
  • Australian Record: 1:44.06, Ian Thorpe (2001)
  • All Comers Record: 1:43.86, Michael Phelps (2007)
  • Swimming Australia QT: 1:46.06
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 1:47.06

GOLD – Kai Taylor 1:46.25
SILVER – Alex Graham 1:46.68

BRONZE – Tommy Neill 1:46.85

What a race from 19-year-old Kai Taylor. The St. Peters Western standout only made it into this final due to the fact Kyle Chalmers, the top seed out of the morning heats, pulled out of the race.

Taylor attacked the race from lane 8, leading from start to finish, opening in 51.56 and closing in 54.69, to grab the gold in a final time of 1:46.25. That sliced .40 off his best-ever performance of 1:46.65 which rendered him the Aussie national champion last April.

Taylor held off a field nipping at his heels, with Alex Graham snagging silver in 1:46.68 and Tommy Neill earning bronze in 1:46.85.

The remainder of the pack included last night’s 400m free silver medalist Elijah Winnington producing 4th place 1:46.85 and 18-year-old Flynn Southam clocking 1:47.11 for 5th. Brendon Smith, the 400m IM Olympic bronze medalist, was 6th in 1:47.20.

Post-race, Dean Boxall-trained Taylor said, “It feels really good. I was disappointed after this morning. Fortunately, Kyle pulled out. I stayed calm and did my thing.”


GOLD – Kaylee McKeown 57.50
SILVER – Mollie O’Callaghan 58.42

BRONZE – Iona Anderson 1:00.05

21-year-old Kaylee McKeown ripped the 3rd best 100m back performance of her life to hit a time of 57.50. That fell just .05 outside her own World Record of 57.45 produced at the 2021 Australian Olympic Trials.

McKeown opened in 28.27 and closed in 29.23 to bust out the 57.50 to easily qualify for the World Championships, becoming the #1 performer in the world in the process.

Kaylee McKeown‘s Top 5 LCM 100 Back Performances

  1. 57.45 2021
  2. 57.47 2020
  3. 57.50 2023
  4. 57.63 2021
  5. 57.84 2023

Olympic medalist Mollie O’Callaghan also nailed a super swim, registering a mark of 58.42 for silver here, making her way to Fukuoka in the process. That matched the exact time and personal best the St. Peters Western star logged for silver behind McKeown at this year’s Australian National Championships.

McKeown now ranks #1 in the world on the season while MOC checks in as the 3rd swiftest.

2022-2023 LCM Women 100 Back

View Top 26»


  • World Record: 22.27, Andriy Govorov (2018)
  • Commonwealth Record: 22.73, Matt Targett (2009)
  • Australian Record: 22.73, Matt Targett (2009)
  • All Comers Record: 23.05, Ben Armbruster (2023)

GOLD – Cameron McEvoy 23.07
SILVER – Shaun Champion 23.46

BRONZE – Matt Temple 23.47

29-year-old Cameron McEvoy posted his best time in 7 years en route to winning this men’s 50m fly.

The Somerville Aquatics ace scorched a mark of 23.07 to beat the field by just under half a second, with Shaun Champion putting up 23.46 for silver while Olympic finalist Matt Temple scored bronze in 23.47.

This swim bodes very well for McEvoy’s 50m freestyle, the event on which he says he is focusing for these Trials. Although he is also entered in the 100m free, he mentioned post-race that he will be focusing on that particular race next year.

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8 months ago

Australia’s mens 200 free has to be our most overrated event. Sure the race is always close but it’s always talked up to be this big race and the times reflect otherwise. We’ve gone backwards in this race since Thorpe’s time. No one looks brave enough to properly attack the front half of the race like Thorpe said they need to the rest of the world heard Thorpes advice and has made progress in the 200 free meanwhile the Aussies are still stuck pacing the first 150 then trying desperately to sprint the last 50 when they don’t have the energy to do so!

8 months ago

Australia hasn’t had a 1:44 flat start other than Thorpe, right? Interesting that all these great 400 guys they have that don’t go up to the 800 can’t come down to internationally competitive times in the 200 either.

Big Reg
Reply to  oxyswim
8 months ago

I believe Clyde Lewis did it in 2019, not sure if there are any others. They’ve also produced a number of high quality 100 swimmers who haven’t been able to go up to the 200

Reply to  oxyswim
8 months ago

Our 200 free sucks and the commentators always talk it up more then they should we can’t even get a consistent 1:45 in the event. Chalmers goes a 47.08 in the 100 free and is known for his back half and takes the race out in 51 high to 52 mid, yeah it’ll get him a relay spot but if his serious about wanting to help the team he needs to grow a pair and at least try to push the front end more like Kai Taylor tried to in the final. I have hopes for Taylor as he gets older and hopefully continues to improve, looks like we might finally have a swimmer willing to push the front end… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Swimmer
Reply to  Swimmer
8 months ago

When I saw the whole field besides Taylor touch in 52+ at the halfway mark I just rolled my eyes.

8 months ago

What happened to Kylie Masse this year? She hasn’t even broken 59 even though she has been the perennial 100 back (and 200) podium in the worlds finish the past 5 years?

8 months ago

So for the events where nobody hits the Swimming Australia cut, will Australia just not have swimmers in the event, or will they pick people who have previously made the cut?

Reply to  Rswim
8 months ago

Selection procedures are pretty explicit that they can select someone already on the team, but not just pluck from the pool and add swimmers to the team because they previously had the cut.

Reply to  Braden Keith
8 months ago

If the winner has a FINA A mark then they will almost certainly be selected; 2nd place = less assured.

If the winner fails to make the FINA A, then it’s a case where they may either co-opt someone OR not enter anyone. The most frequent cases are where they may have no FINA A mark in one distance of a particular stroke but have at least one duly qualified in the distance. As long as they meet FINA B for that event, that swimmer will almost certainly be entered.

Case in point;

  • ZSC missed AUS QT in M100BRS but met FINA A. He will almost certainly meet QT in 200BRS thus qualify for the team and from
… Read more »

Personal Best
Reply to  commonwombat
8 months ago

And Australia has been tough in their selections in the past.
I’ve been surprised to see the omissions from Australia for some big meets with some events having no Australian swimmers entered.

In one way it’s a great strategy to force improvement – but it doesn’t seem to be working and swimmers lose that international racing experience which may help them improve.

Reply to  Rswim
8 months ago

For relay events, they will take a full relay regardless. For stroke 100s, they will make sure at least 2 are on the team who can swim the medley relay (eg Cooper is guaranteed to make the team despite missing the 100 Back QT, but since JES will hit the 200 QT, Woodward may not be selected unless he hits the 200 QT as well). The criteria are strict but also they’ll bend it to make sure all relays are covered.

But if you miss the QT in a non-relay event you’re basically 100% out and we just won’t have an entry.

Reply to  Sub13
8 months ago

Woodward will get the 200 QT.

Reply to  Rswim
8 months ago

Thanks all for explaining!

Reply to  Rswim
8 months ago

Actually, fresh question. Why do they have their own qualifying standards and not just follow the World Aquatics, shouldn’t it be about the selection meet results?

Miss M
Reply to  Rswim
8 months ago

Aust prefers to take smaller teams with less “tourists”. Generally set to either the top 16 or top 8 time in the world, so that people will make semis/finals.

Reply to  Miss M
8 months ago

Yet some of them still don’t…

AUS used to do this in the 80s & 90s too and it never seemed to help improve standards much. It’s fine to give the selectors some leeway but – especially the year before an Olympics – and with some having little international experience due to covid-years – they need to err on the side of ‘give that guy or girl a chance’.

8 months ago

Great story. Could history repeat and Kai wins the world 200 free title like his mum Hayley Lewis? When she won in 1991, the time wasn’t the fastest, but she raced and won and that’s what matters. There’s nothing to say he can’t do the same, as he proved today.

Nick the biased Aussie
Reply to  swimwandering
8 months ago

As cool as that would be realistically he needs to drop 2-3s to medal.
Let’s hope for some good experience at Worlds with potentially a final and that sets him up for some big drops leading into Paris.

Fraser Thorpe
Reply to  swimwandering
8 months ago

Did Hayley also only make that final due to a scratch? I know she was lane 8 or 1 but had a vague memory she didn’t initially make the final

Miss M
Reply to  Fraser Thorpe
8 months ago

She was 3rd at trials and only got to swim because Julie McDonald pulled out to concentrate on the longer events.

8 months ago

What a swim by Kai Taylor!!
To just miss out on the final and then luckily get a spot in an outside lane and WIN is incredible. He proved that he deserved to be in that final.

Exited to follow his journey

Reply to  Zachariah
8 months ago

Love a fairy-tale win. Didn’t Mum win that WC 200 Free Gold from the outside lane too? No wonder she was crying.

Fraser Thorpe
Reply to  Oceanian
8 months ago

She was definitely lane 1 or 8

Emily Se-Bom Lee
8 months ago


Last edited 8 months ago by Emily Se-Bom Lee
8 months ago

Idk what I’ll do when Regan or Kaylee go 56 at some point in their careers

Reply to  Noah
8 months ago

Wonder if seeing a 56 women’s 100back would diminish Peaty’s 100breast WR. Kind of like… these records are “back at parity”

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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