Aussie Trials Prelims: Emma McKeon’s Solid Double, Any Man’s 2Free


Australia’s best are set to take to the Optus Aquatic Centre tonight, vying for coveted spots on their nation’s Commonwealth Games roster. This year’s trials are a test of Australia’s new timing, with the competition taking place just 5 weeks out from the main event, as opposed to months, as has been the case in the past. Additionally, swimmers go straight from heats to finals this time, with the semi-final round having been eliminated.

At a high-level, roster spots will be given to the top 3 finishers in the A final of each individual Olympic event at the Trials, provided the swimmers meet or beat the listed qualifying time. As for relays, the top 2 swimmers in the A final of each non-free 100 may be considered for the medley, while the top 2 in the 100m free and 200m free will be considered for the 400m and 800m freestyle relays. 3rd through 8th place finishers in the freestyle events may be considered for selection as relay-only swimmers.

The non-Olympic events will see the top 3 finishers be considered for selection, as long as their A final performances meet or beat the qualifying times. These are considered the priority level 3. Priority level 4 includes swimmers who have met B standards, provided no swimmers met the A QTs.


  • Australian National Record – 1:54.83, Emma McKeon, 2016
  •  ‘A’ Cut – 1:56.34
  • Top 8:
    1. Titmus, 1:56.58
    2. McKeon, 1:57.90
    3. Sheridan, 1:58.08
    4. Neale, 1:58.75
    5. Woods, 1:58.76
    6. Wilson, 1:59.08
    7. Buchanan, 1:59.22
    8. Whittaker, 1:59.25

17-year-old Ariarne Titmus announced her presence at the meet early, taking the top seed of a tight women’s 200 free field. For the runner-up from prelims, Olympic medalist Emma McKeon, the race represented one of two events she’d be contesting tonight, as the Griffith University athlete also took on the 200 fly.

Titmus split 56.65/59.93 to claim the top time of 1:56.68, a mark within half a second of her season-best and career-fastest of 1:56.34 put up at the Queensland Championships last December. The teen is proving her stellar anchor of the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay in Budapest was no fluke.

For McKeon, her time of 1:57.90 is a solid opening swim to place her well in the mix of the top 3 headed into the final tonight.

The top 8 are all within striking distance of the 1:56.34 A cut needed to secure one of the roster spots for the individual race.

Of note, 25-year-old Olympian Cate Campbell finished 9th and out of the final in 1:59.53. The 25-year-old only had intentions of swimming the prelim of this race anyway, as a means to put her hat in the ring for a possible 4x200m freestyle relay spot.


  • Australian National Record – 52.11, Mitch Larkin, 2015
  • ‘A’ Cut – 53.76
  • Top 8:
    1. Larkin, 53.90
    2. Woodward, 54.59
    3. Treffers, 54.76
    4. Hollard, 54.80
    5. Beaver, 55.20
    6. Incerti, 55.26
    7. Yang, 55.30
    8. Stockwell, 55.52

Double world champion from 2015, Mitch Larkin, led the pack with the only sub-54 second time of the field, stopping the clock in 53.90 for tonight’s center lane. The St. Peters Western swimmer was 54.02 back in December, so this morning’s swim already checks-in as the 24-year-old’s best of the season. He sits just .14 away from the 53.76 A standard.

Right behind Larkin was 19-year-old Bradley Woodward of Mingara Aquatic in a mark of 54.59. That also represents the fastest of the season for the youngster, beating the 54.93 he produced at the NSW Championships.

Veteran racer Ben Treffers is fighting for his chance to represent Australia at a home Commonwealth Games, and also came in sub-55 with a time of 54.76. The 26-year-old Northcoate Olympian missed his chance to compete at the World Championships and is looking for redemption in the way of a Gold Coast roster spot.


  • Australian National Record – 2:20.54, Leisel Jones, 2006
  • ‘A’ Cut – 2:23.81
  • Top 8:
    1. McKeown, 2:25.80
    2. Bohl, 2:27.17
    3. Wallace, 2:29.30
    4. Harkin, 2:30.04
    5. Beale, 2:30.71
    6. Hansen, 2:31.26
    7. Strauch, 2:31.32
    8. Vasta, 2:33.44

2016 Olympic finalist Taylor McKeown notched the swiftest outing of the morning in 2:25.80, a mark just 2 seconds way from the A qualification standard dictated by Swimming Australia. McKeown closed in a quick 36.93 final 50m as an indication of what the 22-year-old has left in the tank for tonight’s final.

McKeown has already earned a time of 2:23.50 at the Queensland Championships, a time which still stands as the 2nd fastest in the world this season. She also has a Commonwealth title she’s seeking to defend, having won the gold at the 2014 Games in Glasgow in 2:22.36.

Griffith’s Georgia Bohl is also in the hunt with a runner-up seed of 2:27.17, while 24-year-old Tessa Wallace represented the 3rd swimmer to break the 2:30 barrier with a morning swim of 2:29.30.


  • Australian National Record – 2:07.31, Christian Sprenger, 2009
  • ‘A’ Cut – 2:08.80
  • Top 8:
    1. Wilson, 2:10.57
    2. Milligan, 2:12.23
    3. Stubblety-Cook, 2:12.90
    4. Cave, 2:13.31
    5. Williamson, 2:13.37
    6. Harley, 2:13.41
    7. Bremer, 2:15.04
    8. Baumann, 2:15.60

The men’s 200m breaststroke is one of the fuzziest events for Australia in terms of favorites for qualification. 19-year-old Matthew Wilson, who scored his first major international final at last year’s World Championships, is vying for another taste of an elite roster, taking the top seed in 2:10.57.

That time checks-in among the top 10 outings in the world this season, but the SOPAC swimmer has been faster, holding 2:08.64 as his lifetime best.

Western Australia’s Alex Milligan and West Brisbane’s Zac Stubblety-Cook each nabbed times in the 2:12 zone at 2:12.23 and 2:12.90 for the 2nd and 3rd seeds, respectively. But one can’t sleep on Ashton Baumann from Griffith University, the man who sneaked into the final at the 8th spot. Baumann comes from prestigious swimming stock as the son of Canadian Olympic and Commonwealth Games maestro Alex Baumann.


  • Australian National Record – 1:54.46, Nick D’Arcy, 2009
  • ‘A’ Cut – 1:55.58
  • Top 8:
    1. Benehoutsos, 1:57.94
    2. Brown, 1:58.54
    3. Gough, 1:58.75
    4. Irvine, 1:58.80
    5. Morgan, 1:59.07
    6. Cook, 1:59.19
    7. Wotton, 1:59.25
    8. Cox, 2:00.95

Theo Benehoutsos, originally from Greece but now swimming for Australia, managed to crank out the top time of the morning, touching in a solid 1:57.94. That sits just outside his best of 1:57.83 and within range of the 1:55.58 QT set by Swimming Australia.

Olympic semi-finalist Grant Irvine is lurking as the 4th seed, swimming in a comfortable 1:58.80 to slide into the final. The 26-year-old seasoned racer was the silver medalist in this event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and would love to the chance to take on South African Chad Le Clos and British racer James Guy on his home turf.

The youngest finalist is represented by 18-year-old Charles Cox, who will look to break the 2-minute barrier for the first time in his young career tonight.


  • Australian National Record – 58.23, Emily Seebohm, 2012
  • ‘A’ Cut – 59.82
  • Top 8:
    1. Seebohm, 58.90
    2. Baker, 1:00.26
    3. McKeown, 1:00.70
    4. Atherton, 1:01.08
    5. Whittaker, 1:01.63
    6. Caldwell, 1:02.08
    7. Barratt, 1:02.40
    8. Forrester, 1:02.63

National record holder and multiple Olympic medalist Emily Seebohm set herself apart from the competition this morning, firing off a wicked-fast time of 58.90 to lay claim to the 100m backstroke title and Commonwealth Games berth. If she succeeds tonight, the 25-year-old Brisbane Grammar athlete will be on her way to seizing a possible 3rd consecutive Games gold, that is if she can get past the red-hot world record holder Kylie Masse of Canada.

Both Masse and Seebohm reign as #1 and #2 in the world, with the Canadian holding the fastest effort in 58.54, while tonight’s swim marks Seebohm’s first sub-59 time this season. Seebohm also clinched the only A cut of the entire morning, across all events.

The remainder of the field played it safe this morning, with teens Kaylee McKeown and Minna Atherton in the middle of the pack in respective outings of 1:00.70 and 1:01.08.

Melbourne Vicentre’s Sian Whittaker earned her 2nd final berth this morning, taking the 5th seed here after sneaking in as the 8th swimmer in the women’s 200m freestyle earlier in the session.


  • Australian National Record – 2:03.41, Jess Schipper, 2009
  • ‘A’ Cut – 2:07.82
    1. McKeon, 2:08.50
    2. Senyeon (KOR), 2:08.93
    3. Taylor, 2:09.41
    4. Baily, 2:10.66
    5. Groves, 2:11.09
    6. Stuart, 2:11.15
    7. Throssell, 2:11.51
    8. Gilmour, 2:12.18

Completing her double this morning, McKeon earned a 200m fly time that would have finished 4th at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Adding the 200 fly to her repertoire that may wind up being 7 events including relays, McKeon scorched an opening split of 59.84 before shutting it down for a 1:08.66 back half for a total time of 2:08.50.

That sits just .43 ahead of training partner An Sehyeon of Korea, who isn’t racing for a squad position. 18-year-old Laura Taylor of TSS Aquatics moved into position with a respectable 2:09.41 morning swim, just off her season-best of 2:08.11.

Taylor stole the show at NSWs in this event, snagging the title in a time of 2:08.11 to beat McKeon by .21

Olympic silver medalist in this event, Maddie Groves, indeed occupied her lane this morning, after doubts were raised that she was in physical shape enough after her missed doping test ordeal. Groves punched the time pad in 2:11.09 to land solidly in 5th place headed into tonight’s final. Groves earned bronze in the 200 fly back in 2014 in Glasgow.


  • Australian National Record – 1:44.06, Ian Thorpe, 2001
  • ‘A’ Cut – 1:46.28
  • Top 8:
    1. Graham, 1:46.72
    2. Horton, 1:47.06
    3. Chalmers, 1:47.41
    4. McEvoy, 1:47.48
    5. Lewis, 1:47.76
    6. McKeon, 1:47.83
    7. Winnington, 1:48.26
    8. Smith, 1:48.29

The prelim of one of the most anticipated event of these championships did not disappoint, with the top 8 men all separated by less than 2 seconds in the 200m freestyle. 22-year-old Bond athlete Alexander Graham surprised the stacked field by claiming the top seed in 1:46.72, a mark not too far outside the A cut of 1:46.28.

Graham opened in 51.35 as 1 of 3 men to go with a sub-52 second fist half, along with McEvoy (51.68) and Smith (51.48). Graham kept the speed ratcheted through the remainder of the race, however, snagging a new personal best and 3rd fastest time in the world this season.

The rest of the big boys were a school of fish, all clinging to the 1:47 mark together so as not to show their cards too early before tonight’s final. Horton touched in 1:47.06 to Chalmers’ 1:47.41, while McEvoy settled for 1:47.48.

Tonight’s final will be 8 men gunning for the title in a titanic battle.

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30 Comments on "Aussie Trials Prelims: Emma McKeon’s Solid Double, Any Man’s 2Free"

newest oldest most voted

Why so many races in one day? Seems like they are hurting people who want to double. 2 fly/2 free is a common event combo and very taxing, doesn’t make sense.

With only 4 days and no semi finals this is the best way to practise backing up for major races in major meets .. these guys are athletes and should be fit and ready to race no matter what the circumstances ..

Coach Mike 1952

Agree with the analysis. A suggested tweak: “these guys – & gals”

Guys (plural) has become gender neutral in many contexts, so using guys this way is perfectly fine.


u are totally right

I love how Emily Seebohm attacked this race. Get your A cut in prelims. Now she can relax and really let it fly in finals. 💪

Is Maddie Wilson not swimming backstroke anymore?

That’s a good question actually!

She was on the roster to swim the 100 back but didn’t swim the heat. With the 100 back so close to the 200 free, it makes sense to have only chosen one of those swims. Considering the depth in the women’s 100 back (especially young guns Atherton and McKeown) the 200 free would have been a more realistic shot at making the team, at least in the relay.

To my knowledge she is still doing both, but focusing more on free.

About Loretta Race

Loretta Race

Loretta grew up outside Toledo, OH, where she swam age group and high school. Graduating from Xavier University, she stayed in the Cincinnati, OH area and currently resides just outside the city in Northern KY.  Loretta got back into the sport of swimming via Masters and now competes and is …

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