5 Takeaways From The 2024 Australian Open Championships

2024 AUSTRALIAN OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS

The 2024 Australian Open Championships wrapped up last weekend but not before multiple impressive performances were put on the books just 2 months out from the nation’s Olympic Trials. As the dust has settled from the 4-day competition, let’s take a look at 5 of the top stories what came out of the swift meet.

#1 Kaylee McKeown Solidifies IM Queen Status

22-year-old Kaylee McKeown ended the Open Championships ranked #1 in the world across an incredible 5 individual events.

The Griffith star already owned the top times in the world in the 50m and 100m backstrokes and she also nailed a new season-best of 2:03.84 to put the globe on notice.

But it was in the 200m and 400m IM events where the Michael Bohl-trained athlete really stole the spotlight, registering new Australian national records in each.

The 200m IM saw McKeown fired off a new national mark of 2:06.99, overtaking Olympic champion Stephanie Rice‘s supersuited swim of 2:07.03 that’s been on the books since 2009. She now ranks as the 5th-best performer in history.

In the longer distance, McKeown stopped the clock in a rapid 4:28.22 to score a new Aussie standard, erasing Rice’s 4:29.45 that was established over 15 years ago at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. McKeown inserted herself into the list of all-time performers in slot #3.

Although McKeown confirmed she will not be racing the 400m IM in Paris, she did state she would be pursuing the grueling 200m back/200m IM double this summer. According to the Olympic schedule, this means that, if all goes according to plan, McKeown would race the 200m IM semi-final less than an hour after the 200m back final on day 7.

Day 7 Finals Men 50m Freestyle Final – 2:30pm
Women 200m Backstroke Final – 2:39pm
Men 200m Individual Medley Final – 2:49pm
Men 100m Butterfly Semi-Final – 3:09pm
Women 200m Individual Medley Semi-Final – 3:34pm

#2 Meg Harris at Her Best

22-year-old Meg Harris put up 2 new personal bests over the course of the competition, putting her fellow domestic speedsters on notice.

The Rackley-trained sprinter clocked a time of 52.60 in the heats of the women’s 100m free, demolishing her previous PB of 52.92 in the process. That prior effort was established nearly 3 years ago at the 2021 Australian Olympic Trials where she placed 4th. She went on to win two medals at the Tokyo Olympics: a gold in the 4×100 free relay and a bronze in the 4×200 free relay.

She ultimately touched in 52.59 in the final to prove that heats swim wasn’t a fluke.

Harris also nailed a new PB in the 50m free, scoring gold in 24.28 to tie Shayna Jack. Entering this meet Harris carried a PB of 24.29 from last year’s Sydney Open so she managed to shave .01 off to capture the gold.

Harris left coach Peter Bishop at the beginning of this season to train under Damien Jones, and the new training environment looks to be paying off just months before the Olympic Trials.

#3 Winnington Lit a Spark

23-year-old Elijah Winnington of St. Peters Western made his presence known from the very first night, ripping a time of 3:41.41 to win the men’s 400m free.

That particular race was unique in that the last 3 world champions were among the field – Winnington won it in 2022, Sam Short last year in Fukuoka and then South Korea’s Kim Woomin this time around in Doha.

Winnington’s result was only .19 off his lifetime best of 3:41.22 as he now ranks #2 in the world on the season.

The ace also tried the 200m free on for size, earning the silver in 1:46.56 behind winner Flynn Southam‘s result of 1:46.11. Winnington was faster in the morning, putting up a heats swim of 1:46.08 to come just over half a second off his lifetime best of 1:45.53 produced at the 2022 World Championships.

#4 MOC’s Versatility

With world record holder McKeown not among the women’s 100m backstroke racers, 20-year-old Mollie O’Callaghan lit up the pool with a shiny new personal best en route to capturing victory.

MOC crushed a mark of 58.09 (28.60/29.49) to obliterate her previous PB of 58.42 from the 2023 edition of the championships. MOC is now the #2 Australian performer in history, frog hopping 34-year-old new mom Emily Seebohm.

The reigning world record holder in the 200m free also made some major noise in that event, turning in a time of 1:53.57 to beat current Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus by nearly 2 seconds.

MOC entered this meet ranked highest worldwide among the Aussies, having put up a time of 1:54.36 at December’s Queensland Championships.

The Dean Boxall-trained superstar rocketed up the world rankings to now be #1. She took the crown from Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey (1:54.08) as the only sub-1:54 swimmer on the planet thus far this season.

Additionally, MOC’s 1:53.57 ranks as the 7th-swiftest performance in history, a fact which is mind-blowing considering this was an in-season affair.

#5 William Petric Continues Improvement

19-year-old William Petric of Nunawading was stellar across both the 200m and 400m IMs, establishing new lifetime bests in each which is a good sign with 2 months to go until Olympic Trials.

In a confidence boost, Petric notched 1:58.53 to win the 200m IM over New Zealand’s Lewis Clareburt. Petric’s result improved upon the 1:58.78 personal best he logged at last month’s New South Wales Championships, a time which represented the strong breaststroker’s first-ever foray under the 2:00 barrier.

Petric was the fastest Aussie in the long IM as well where he boasted a time of 4:13.55. That surpassed the 4:14.07 also from last month’s NSW Championships and inched him closer to the 4:12.50 Olympic selection standard, a benchmark under which just 2 Aussies have ever been.

Petric’s outing inserted him onto the list of all-time Aussie performers in slot #6.

All-Time Aussie Men’s LCM 400 IM Performers

  1. Brendon Smith – 4:09.27, 2021
  2. Thomas Fraser-Holmes – 4:10.14, 2013
  3. Clyde Lewis – 4:13.12, 2018
  4. Travis Mahoney – 4:13.37, 2016
  5. Tommy Neill – 4:13.43, 2023
  6. William Petric – 4:13.55, 2024

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kevin
1 month ago

Don’t know how you can try and predict golds with the Chinese cloud over the meet 23 was doped before Toyko how many before Paris ?

Oceanian
1 month ago

It was a good Nationals considering most of us weren’t expecting too much.

At the trials though we will be expecting fireworks.

John26
Reply to  Oceanian
1 month ago

Honestly we shouldn’t expect some times to be slower at trials. Short added time and went a 3:43 at trials after 3:42mid at nationals…
Calls for a WR at trials may be asking for too much. I’d rather see it happen in Paris

Oceanian
Reply to  John26
1 month ago

I’m not sure what your comment means – it doesn’t seem to correlate with what I said..

The trials will be *fireworks* in some events mainly because of relay spots and depth. I’m not expecting WRs in other events as those capable of them should be training through the trials and saving themselves for Paris. But then again. Kaylee,, Who can do almost anything any week of any year.

commonwombat
1 month ago

Given we are still 2 months out from both AUS & US Trials, any medal or gold projections are really more entertainment purposes than anything else at this point.

What may be of greater value is how “internationally competitive” the times/standards were in the various events and which events weren’t !!

Rather than put up a list of medal projections that may be “bin fodder” come Trials; these are my events where AUS is/will prove to be uncompetitive. By this, I am actually using current World best times and using top 8 (ie finals) as a cut-off (calendar year 2024)

At this point, only 100BRS on women’s side does not have a top 8 time

Men’s is somewhat uglier. Currently:… Read more »

Dan tm
Reply to  commonwombat
1 month ago

Max Giuliani’s 1.44.7 200m Free is good enough for a top 8.
Yes,it was swum in Dec 23 but I would count that as current season.

Dan tm
Reply to  Dan tm
1 month ago

And considering Short swum 14.37 (1500m Free) in the 2023 World Championships,I dont think we will be “uncompetitive “ here either

Last edited 1 month ago by Dan tm
commonwombat
Reply to  Dan tm
1 month ago

Am well aware of Guliani’s good form at end of 2023 as evidenced by his World Cup showings and Qld Open; however:

  • I’m using the calendar year as my “metric” for time-frame.
  • His 2024 showings to date have not backed them up.
Dan tm
Reply to  commonwombat
1 month ago

so based on only Jan-April 2024?
Fortunately they are not required to “back them up” before April.
I think you will be better off waiting to do this again after the trials.

commonwombat
Reply to  Dan tm
1 month ago

Jeez, do you actually read what I’ve actually said ? I do have some doubts !

Let me repeat ………. this was NOT meant as some sort of final pronouncement but rather setting out where Aussies sit in the various events for the calendar year 2024 to date.

Furthermore; whilst it is openly acknowledged that AUS & USA have not yet held their Trials, a number of strong countries have done so plus we have reasonable levels of results from both AUS & USA; so I DO think it’s fair to contend that we have sufficiently meaningful levels of data to hand to at least be somewhat indicative.

With regards to M1500, did I not say that it would be… Read more »

AUS Dolphin PR Executive
1 month ago

Winnington will surprise many. His time has come.

commonwombat
Reply to  AUS Dolphin PR Executive
1 month ago

He seems to be “on” in even years so you may be correct.

Nick the biased Aussie
1 month ago

How are we ignoring Titmus and a Chalmers?

STRAIGHTBLACKLINE
1 month ago

The performances at these Championships were better than expected. Australia is on track to have another good Olympics. I think they won 9 gold medals in Tokyo and all indications are they can do as well in Pariis. With the exception of the women’s 4X100FS, it will be hard to defend those gold medals, and in particular, the women’s 50FS and medley relay look virtually impossible to repeat. On the other hand, they have reasonable to strong prospects of winning gold in events they didn’t win in Tokyo – W200IM, W4X200FS, M50FS, M100FS and M400FS.

SwimStats
Reply to  STRAIGHTBLACKLINE
1 month ago

The Women’s 200 and 400 Free won’t be that hard. The 200 there are two Aussies who are basically fighting it out and Titmus is looking good in the 400. MOC and whoever else makes the team have a shot in the 100 Free. McKeown is favourite in both Backs. The Women’s 4×200 Free is nearly a guarantee.

Some of the events might not be the same person who wins but it would still be a defence for Australia.

STRAIGHTBLACKLINE
Reply to  SwimStats
1 month ago

You make some good points about the depth/insurance they have in the 100/200FS. I agree Titmus is favourite in the 400 but it’s going to be a tougher challenge against McIntosh and Ledecky than it was at the WC’s. McKeown looks strong in the 100/200BK but her margin over Smith is not that great. The W4X200 looks to be a lock but after what happened in Tokyo you wouldn’t stake your life on it.

Southerly Buster
1 month ago

I notice that in the 100 Free rankings Australia has 8 swimmers listed in the top 30 but one is missing – Olivia Wunsch’s 53.99 at Age Championships this season would put her inside the Top 30 a couple of places ahead of Milla Jansen’s 54.03.

So that’s 9 Australians in the Top 30 at this stage and most notably 4 of the Top 8.

Peter
1 month ago

Look at the Chinese men’s 100 free. They should win the relay by two seconds. Doped up to their eyeballs. When will this blatant cheating stop

Caleb
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

doped or not they probably won’t medal

Swimmer.thingz
Reply to  Peter
1 month ago

They wouldn’t…

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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