Aussie World Championships Roster Analysis: The Hits


The 2023 Australian World Championships wrapped up last night, so we now know the 38-strong lineup set to represent the nation in Fukuoka, Japan next month.

The six-day competition had some clear winners with a pair of teenagers in 19-year-olds Mollie O’Callaghan and Sam Short taking multiple events. At the same time, seasoned medal-reaping veterans Kaylee McKeown, Emma McKeon Ariarne Titmus and Kyle Chalmers also put up their usual caliber of solid performances to make the grade.

However, there were some surprise misses along the way which gave the Swimming Australia coaching brain trust some tough decisions in terms of their discretionary selections.

Now that the dust has settled let’s take a look at the overall hits and misses (and some surprises!) from what transpired in Melbourne.

First up are ‘the hits’.

Aside from the aforementioned usual suspects, I identified a few somewhat unexpected key performers who made their marks over the course of the competition, giving promise to what could potentially unfold for the green and gold in Fukuoka next month.

The Hits

Jenna Forrester

Jenna Forrester of St. Peters Western raced two impressive IM performances to bookend the competition.

In the 200m IM, the 19-year-old registered a silver medal-worthy time of 2:09.29 to finish behind winner Kaylee McKeown who topped the podium in 2:07.60.

Forrester’s outing cleared the Swimming Australia-mandated qualification time of 2:10.72 needed for Fukuoka and also sliced .03 off of her previous personal best logged at April’s Australian Nationals. That prior PB marked her first-ever foray under the 2:10 barrier.

The 400m IM here is where Forrester really stole the spotlight, however, powering her way to a winning effort of 4:34.89.

That easily dipped under the QT of 4:38.53 en route to beating her previous PB of 4:35.05 from Aussie Nationals. Her outing also destroyed the 4:41.80 she logged for 8th place at last year’s Commonwealth Games.

Forrester now ranks 8th in the world this season in the 200m IM and 4th in the 400m IM, while her time in the latter would have rendered her the bronze medalist at the 2022 World Championships. With McKeown giving the 400m IM the cold shoulder as of late, Forrester is stepping up in the hopes of ending an over-a-decade Aussie World Championships medal drought in this event.

Cameron McEvoy

29-year-old Cameron McEvoy unleashed a statement-making swim in the men’s 50m free prelims, crushing a new lifetime best of 21.27.

That result marked the Somerville House Aquatic star’s fastest splash n’ dash in nearly 7 years, overtaking his previous PB of 21.44 en route to becoming the 10th fastest performer in history.

McEvoy was slightly slower in the final yet still topped the podium in a stellar 21.41 as the only competitor to get under the Aussie QT of 21.83. His 21.27 now ranks him as the top performer in the world this season.

We saw shades of McEvoy past at the Sydney Open in May where the 2015 world champion hit a 50m free time of 21.85, the fastest produced by an Aussie since 2017. That sparked cautious rumblings of a comeback for the once-Bond athlete who left coach Richard Scarce for TSS Aquatics in 2018.

Many had written McEvoy off after several years of un-noteworthy performances, including a 29th place performance in the 50m free and 24th place finish in the 100m free in Tokyo. He opted out of the 2022 Aussie Nationals, which meant he forewent both the 2022 World Championships and Commonwealth Games.

With a nearly one-year hiatus behind him and new training digs at Somerville, McEvoy is giving us Anthony Ervin and even 2023 Florent Manaudou vibes.

McEvoy’s ability to make the Fukuoka roster is perseverance and grit personified and comes at a time when Australia desperately needs a world-class 50m freestyler. The top Aussie finisher in Budapest last year was Thomas Nowakowski who placed well back in 25th while the 2019 World Championships men’s 50m free final was also void of any Aussie.

Flynn Southam

Flynn Southam just turned 18 on June 5th but put up a veteran-type swim en route to claiming silver in the men’s 100m free at these Trials.

After a disappointing 200m free result, Southam turned in a massive time of 47.77 to earn his spot on the Fukuoka roster behind multi-Olympic medalist Kyle Chalmers‘s winning effort of 47.44.

Southam’s result not only dipped under the Swimming Australia-mandated qualification time of 47.96 but it also hacked about a half second off of the teen’s lifetime best in this event.

Entering this competition, Southam’s career-quickest 100m freestyle rested at the 48.23 notched for gold at the 2022 Junior Pan Pacific Championships.

His 47.77 in Melbourne represented the type of performance that’s been bubbling beneath the Southam surface for some time and the teen finally made it happen when it counted the most. He now ranks 6th in the world on the season and also constitutes yet another relay weapon for the green and gold.

Kai Taylor

The outside smoke club met its newest member when 19-year-old Kai Taylor took advantage of his lane 8 placement in the men’s 200m free.

After only making it into the 2free final due to a Kyle Chalmers scratch, Taylor of St. Peters Western made the most of his opportunity, firing off a lifetime best of 1:46.25 to ultimately take the gold.

Taylor attacked his race from start to finish, slicing. .40 off his previous best-ever performance of 1:46.65 which rendered him the Aussie national champion last April.

Although Taylor’s time was just off the Swimming Australia-mandated QT of 1:46.06, it did clear the World Aquatics ‘A’ cut of 1:47.06.

His outing sets Taylor up as a critical component of the Aussie men’s 4x200m free relay as the nation will try to improve upon its bronze medal finish in Tokyo and silver medal result in Budapest last year.

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cant kick cant pull
10 months ago

forrester’s back leg in the 4 im was insane

10 months ago

Great interview with Cam..

10 months ago

Also, off topic, bit did something happen to sleep paralysis demon? Haven’t seen them around for the past couple of days.

Hooked on Chlorine
Reply to  snailSpace
10 months ago

School detention.

Reply to  Hooked on Chlorine
10 months ago

Oh Lord this made me cackle. Not missing them that’s for sure.

Reply to  snailSpace
10 months ago

Hahaha I assumed they got banned.

After the first day of trials there was very minimal trolling or disrespectful posting. It was lovely just to have interesting commentary the whole week.

Reply to  Sub13
10 months ago

I am already dreading the reincarnations. Speaking of which, I haven’t seen the million different Vinay accounts around either.

Sunday Morning Grind
10 months ago

Great write up!

Reply to  Sunday Morning Grind
10 months ago

Thank you!

10 months ago

For me the most unexpected key performer was clearly Dekkers. Surprised she isn’t listed among the hits.

Mike O’Harn
Reply to  snailSpace
10 months ago

Dekkers was already a hit since 2022

Last edited 10 months ago by Mike O’Harn
Reply to  Mike O’Harn
10 months ago

Sure, but a 2:06-2:07 isn’t really a clear medal chance right now. A 2:05 low is, and it’s also a huge drop (although I don’t care about short course, so I might be missing something there from last year). I am also just seeing she is the Commonwealth champion from last year, so yeah… I was sort of wrong lol. But still, for Fukuoka or Paris, she became relevant with this swim.

Reply to  snailSpace
10 months ago

Yeah definitely could have included Dekkers for her significant improvement this year, but I suppose she does already have an individual medal from SC Worlds last year in her one event so it’s less of a surprise?

Reply to  Sub13
10 months ago

Yeah if it’s SC I probably don’t know about it. But she is also the commonwealth champion from 2022, which is a bigger miss on my part. In my defense, that winning time wasn’t all that impressive. In any case, she improved considerably this year, and entered clear medal-waters in the 200 fly.

Reply to  snailSpace
10 months ago

Yeah definitely agree

Reply to  snailSpace
10 months ago

Dekkers is used to missing out ……. (ie Tokyo)

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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