North Queensland plays host to the second Australian Grand Prix of the year, as swimmers from the host country, along with New Zealand, China and Korea descend upon Townsville’s Long Tan Memorial Pool June 19th and 20th. After just the first session, we have seen some tremendous swims on both the men’s and women’s side, culminating in a new Australian Open record in the longest event of the night.
In the women’s 1500m freestyle, Australia’s Jessica Ashwood fired off an incredible 15:56.86 to not only blow away the field by over 34 seconds, but to also smash her own previous lifetime best by more than 17 seconds. Ashwood’s performance tonight was big enough to take down the Australian record of 16:01.53, clocked by Melissa Gorman back in 2010, and rocket the 22-year old Ashwood to number 2 in the 2015 world rankings, second only behind mega-dominant American Katie Ledecky.
The thrilling action continued in the very next event, where Aussie Emma McKeon threw down a time of 57.71 to take the win in the women’s 100m butterfly. McKeon’s time was the only sub-58 mark in the event tonight and was also swift enough to overtake the previous meet record held by Alicia Coutts (57.93). Coutts settled for 2nd place tonight in a time of 58.54, while Korea’s Sehyeon An finished 3rd in a time of 59.10.
McKeon would go on and nab a second win on the night, taking home the 200m freestyle title in 1:57.76, a solid in-season time for the 21-year old who registered a monstrous 1:55.88 at her national championships – a time which sits 3rd-fastest in the world right now. Coming in 2nd place in tonight’s race was Bronte Barratt in a time of 1:58.73, the only other sub-2:00 swimmer tonight. Barrett’s fastest time thus far this year is the 1:57.10 she threw down at the NSW State Championships back in February.
Dolphins backstroking star, Emily Seebohm, comfortably swam to a win in the 200m backstroke event, nailing down a time of 2:09.54 for first place. Seebohm currently sits atop the world rankings’ throne in this event with the 2:06.69 she registered at the Australian National Championships back in April. 2nd place tonight went to Madison Wilson who touched in 2:10.05, while 3rd place went to rising star Kaylee McKeown, the younger sister of Aussie ace Taylor McKeown. At just 13 years old, Kaylee clocked an impressive 2:12.04, which earned her a new Australian age group record in the event. Kaylee’s time surpassed that of the previous age group mark of 2:13.11 held by Clayfield Aquatics’ Amy Forrester from 2012.
After timing difficulties in the 50m freestyle prelims, which resulted in the race not even being swum, just three athletes contested the finals of the event tonight. But, with two out of the three swimmers having the last name of Campbell, the Aussie dynamic duo did not disappoint. Cate Campbell charged to the wall in 24.61, followed immediately by sister Bronte Campbell in 24.66. The scorching sisters already own the top two times in the world and make dropping 24-range times seem more and more routine. For perspective, Brianna Throssell touched in 3rd tonight in a time of 26.70…..almost two full seconds later.
The women’s 200m IM event saw Pelican Waters’ Tessa Wallace wrangle in the win in a time of 2:12.73, a result just shy of Japan’s Kanako Watanabe’s Grand Prix record of 2:12.51. Wallace would also go on to place 3rd in the women’s 100m breaststroke race tonight, clocking a time of 1:08.53 for her efforts in that sprint race. 1st and 2nd in the 100m breast were Georgia Bohl and Lorna Tonks, who registered times of 1:08.33 and 1:08.47, respectively.
The living legend that is Grant Hackett was in the pool tonight, contesting the men’s 400m freestyle. Hackett would come away with a time of 3:53.39 for 3rd place in the event, behind top finisher Mack Horton who touched in 3:52.55 and New Zealand’s Matthew Stanley, who earned the runner-up spot in 3:52.72. Top seed from the morning, David McKeon (3:55.47) opted not to swim tonight’s final.
The men’s 200 breast race saw a heated battle between Brothers Swim Club’s Jared Gilliland and New Zealand’s George Schroder. After taking it out hard in an opening 50 of 31.14 to Schroder’s 31.51, Gilliland backed off to 35.45, while Schroder surged to a 2nd 50 split of 35.02. Such was the dual to the end, where Gilliland ended up on top, registering a final time of 2:16.29 to narrowly defeat Schroder who touched in 2:16.46.
21-year-old backstroking maestro Mitch Larkin eased into the men’s 100m back win tonight, clocking a 54.35 for the victory. This was over a second faster than tonight’s runner-up, Joshua Beaver, who touched in 55.63 for 2nd place. Larkin has been as fast as 53.10 so far this year, which currently sits as the 3rd-speediest time in the world for 2015.
In the men’s 200m butterfly, David Morgan from TSS Aquatics nailed down the victory in a time of 2:00.43, while Thomas Fraser-Holmes was the top dog in the men’s 400m IM event. Fraser-Homes clocked a smooth 4:16.94 to beat the field tonight, just about 3 seconds off his best time thus far this year, which is the 4:13.98 he threw down to win the event Australian Nationals.
Cameron McEvoy swam away with the men’s 100m freestyle win, logging a time of 49.20 over 2nd place finisher, Kenneth To who touched in 49.73 and 3rd place finisher, 29-year old Will Copeland, who finished in 49.96. These top 3 men were the only competitors to drop sub-50 second times on the night. McEvoy’s best time this year is a 48.06 from Aussie Nationals, so, at over a second slower, this performance was a tad lackluster, but most likely indicative of where the Aussie sprinting star is at in this training at this point in his worlds preparation. For To, on the other hand, the 22-year old is most likely pleased with his time, having undergone back surgery last summer and is still testing the post-recovery competitive waters.
Competition continues with prelims at 9am and finals at 4pm local time.