arena Swim of the Week: Jenna Forrester Continues Steady Rise With 4:34 400 IM

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Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

Jenna Forrester put a bow on a sensational week at the Australian World Championship Trials with a dominant performance in the women’s 400 IM, picking up the victory in 4:34.89 to go a perfect four-for-four in personal best times at the meet.

Forrester made a big leap at last year’s Australian Championships, placing second in the 400 IM in a massive best time of 4:36.77, qualifying her for both the World Championships in Budapest and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Despite finishing well off her newly-minted PB in her first two major international competitions, placing seventh at Worlds (4:40.20 prelims) and sixth at the Commonwealth Games (4:41.80), Forrester has come back with a very strong first half of 2023.

Forrester fired off a new best time of 4:35.05 in the 400 IM at the Australian Championships in April, moving her up to #3 all-time among Aussies behind Stephanie Rice and Kaylee McKeown, and she added best times in the 200 IM (2:09.32), 200 back (2:11.95), 200 free (1:59.74), 400 free (4:06.91) and 100 fly (59.45).

Turning 20 on the second day of competition, it was certainly a memorable World Trials experience for Forrester last week.

She kicked things off by placing second to McKeown in the 200 IM, inching under her PB in 2:09.29 to qualify for her second consecutive World Championship team.

After establishing personal bests en route to a runner-up finish in the 200 back (2:10.37) and a seventh-place showing in the 200 free (1:57.01), Forrester finished things off by cracking the 4:35 barrier in the 400 IM.

Without McKeown in the field, Forrester rolled to a near five-second victory in 4:34.89, an impressive performance given it came at the tail-end of a busy competition, setting her up for a medal chance in Fukuoka.

All-Time Australian Performers, Women’s 400 IM (LCM)

  1. Stephanie Rice, 4:29.45 – 2008 Olympic Games
  2. Kaylee McKeown, 4:31.68 – 2023 Sydney Open
  3. Jenna Forrester, 4:34.89 – 2023 Australian World Championship Trials
  4. Keryn McMaster, 4:36.35 – 2014 Commonwealth Games
  5. Kiah Melverton, 4:36.78 – 2022 Commonwealth Games

The only swimmers faster than Forrester so far this season are newly-minted world record holder and reigning world champion Summer McIntosh, McKeown, and 2022 World Championship silver medalist Katie Grimes.

If Forrester were to make her way onto the podium at Worlds, it would mark Australia’s first medal in the 400 IM since Rice won three consecutive bronzes in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

2022-2023 LCM Women 400 IM

WR 4:25.87
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Split Comparison – Forrester

2022 AUS Champs 2023 AUS Champs 2023 World Trials
29.84 29.15 29.28
1:03.91 (34.07) 1:03.31 (34.16) 1:03.01 (33.73)
1:39.12 (35.21) 1:39.04 (35.73) 1:37.81 (34.80)
2:13.58 (34.46) 2:12.92 (33.88) 2:11.18 (33.37)
2:52.90 (39.32) 2:51.72 (38.80) 2:50.61 (39.43)
3:32.61 (39.71) 3:31.26 (39.54) 3:30.47 (39.86)
4:05.49 (32.88) 4:04.55 (33.29) 4:03.66 (33.19)
4:36.77 (31.28) 4:35.05 (30.50) 4:34.89 (31.23)

Backstroke was the area where Forrester made the biggest improvement relative to her previous fastest swims, splitting 1:08.53 in Melbourne after a pair of 1:09s in her 4:36.7 and 4:35.0 performances.

That aligns with the progress she’s made in the 200 back, an event she could end up swimming in Fukuoka after she placed second to McKeown and was under the ‘A’ cut, but was three-tenths short of the Australian standard.

Forrester was one of several St. Peters Western swimmers that thrived at the competition, with teammates Ariarne TitmusMollie O’CallaghanShayna JackAbbey Harkin and Kai Taylor also winning gold medals to go along with several others who stood on the podium.

Another one of her training mates, Kiah Melverton, was the runner-up in the 400 IM in 4:39.65, and although she was off the Australian qualifying time, Melverton was named to the World Championship team and will likely get the opportunity to swim the 400 IM in Fukuoka alongside Forrester.

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Miss M
5 months ago

I really like the way she swims it, basically aiming to negative split each 100.

39:43/39:86 on what is arguably her worst stroke is super impressive.

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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