Australian Women Are Getting Deeper in 200 Free

2021 AUSTRALIAN SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS

The 2021 Australian Swimming Championships began on Wednesday, April 14 with the 200 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 400 IM, and 50 backstroke prelims. With only a few months to go until the country’s June Olympic Trials, the meet is providing us a look at where Australia’s Olympians to be stand.

One event which provided a positive sign for Australia’s Olympic efforts this summer was in the women’s 200 freestyle. Australia has performed well in the event over the past few years both in its individual form as well as the 4×200 relay. At the 2016 Olympics, Emma McKeon took bronze in the event with a 1:54.92, and three years later in 2019, Ariarne Titmus claimed silver in the event at World Championships with a 1:54.66.

McKeon and Titmus are both in Southport this week racing the event at Australian nationals and posted the top two times in the prelims as McKeon hit a 1:55.79 and Titmus a 1:56.11. While neither were at their best, the major takeaway from the 200 freestyle heats was the 3rd through 6th place performers, all of whom were faster than a 1:58.

Women’s 200 Freestyle Top 8 – Prelims

  1. Emma McKeon – 1:55.79
  2. Ariarne Titmus – 1:56.11
  3. Madi Wilson – 1:56.50
  4. Leah Neale – 1:57.35
  5. Mollie O’Callaghan – 1:57.65
  6. Kaylee McKeown – 1:57.91
  7. Kiah Melverton – 1:58.38
  8. Brianna Throssell – 1:58.55

After Emma McKeown scratched the A final, Ariarne Titmus took control of the race and swam to victory with a 1:55.43 while Madi Wilson was a 1:56.26 for silver and Brianna Throssell moved up from 8th in the prelims to claim bronze in a 1:57.29. The win for Titmus made for a successful return to racing for the 2019 400 freestyle World Champion after suffering a should injury this year which caused her to sit out of the 2021 Australian national team training camp.

Women’s 200 Freestyle Top 8 – Finals

  1. Ariarne Titmus – 1:55.43
  2. Madi Wilson – 1:56.26
  3. Brianna Throssell – 1:57.29
  4. Leah Neale – 1:57.67
  5. Kaylee McKeown – 1:57.76
  6. Mollie O’Callaghan – 1:58.08
  7. Kiah Melverton – 1:58.60
  8. Kareena Lee – 1:59.41

Considering that some swimmers were faster in the nighttime prelims than they were in the morning finals, by combining the top swims from both sessions, we come up with a top 8 that features 7 swimmers under the 1:58 second mark, 3 under 1:57, and 2 under 1:56.

Top 8 Women’s 200 Freestyles at 2021 Australian Nationals

  1. Ariarne Titmus – 1:55.43
  2. Emma McKeon – 1:55.79
  3. Madi Wilson – 1:56.26
  4. Brianna Throssell – 1:57.29
  5. Leah Neale – 1:57.35
  6. Mollie O’Callaghan – 1:57.65
  7. Kaylee McKeown – 1:57.76
  8. Kiah Melverton – 1:58.38

Should McKeon and Titmus qualify to swim the event in Tokyo they will certainly be in contention to make it to the podium considering that they currently sit at 3rd and 4th globally this season.

2020-2021 LCM Women 200 Free

KatieUSA
Ledecky
04/09
1:54.40
2Yang
Junxuan
CHN1:54.5705/04
3Siobhan
Haughey
HKG1:54.8904/18
4Ariarne
Titmus
AUS1:55.4304/15
5Emma
McKeon
AUS1:55.5603/21
View Top 26»

The story that we are seeing shape up here is how the Australian women are preparing themselves to improve upon their silver medal performance in Rio and defend the world record-setting gold medal performance from Gwangju 2019.

Notably, the top four performers in the event at 2021 Australian Nationals were the same four women who broke the world record in Gwangju with a 7:41.50. Ariarne Titmus, Madi Wilson, Brianna Throssell, and Emma McKeon raced to victory in the 4×200 freestyle, beating of the Americans’ 7:41.87 and Canada’s 7:44.35. It is significant that their composite time from their individual swims gets them 3.51 off that world record swim.

Ariarne Titmus Madi Wilson Brianna Throssell Emma Mckeon Total
2021 Nationals 1:55.43 1:56.26 1:57.29 1:55.79 7:44.77
2019 World Record Split 1:54.27 1:56.73 1:55.60 1:54.90 7:41.50

Their composite time of 7:45.01 would have been good enough to place fourth behind Canada at 2019 Worlds and would have been the 2nd fastest time at the 2016 Olympics behind the US (7:43.03) and ahead of the actual Australian contingent at the Games (7:44.87). Taking into consideration 3 relay takeovers and the fact that this is only the warmup meet for Australian Trials, it’s fairly clear that the Australian women have the potential to be absolutely lethal in the 4×200 relay in Tokyo.

The podium at both Rio 2016 and Gwangju 2019 featured the US (gold/silver), Australia (silver/gold), and Canada (bronze/bronze). In 2017, the US won gold at World’s, China took silver, and Australia took bronze. To get a sense of where these top 6 swims for Australia land on the global scene, we can compare the current top 6 rankings for the US, China, and Canada in the event this season.

USA – Women’s 200 Freestyle Top 8 (09/01/2020 – 04/15/2021)

  1. Katie Ledecky – 1:54.40
  2. Katie McLaughlin – 1:57.48
  3. Paige Madden – 1:57.64
  4. Allison Schmitt – 1:58.04
  5. Madisyn Cox – 1:58.14
  6. Hali Flickinger – 1:58.49
  7. Justina Kozan – 1:58.50
  8. Emma Nordin – 1:58.51

China – Women’s 200 Freestyle Top 8 (09/01/2020 – 04/15/2021)

  1. Yang Junxuan – 1:54.70
  2. Zhang Yufei – 1:57.67
  3. Muhan Tang – 1:58.14
  4. Ai Yanhan 1:58.19
  5. Jianjiahe Wang – 1:58.45
  6. Qiu Yuhan – 1:58.66
  7. Ge Chutong 1:58.62
  8. Dong Jie 1:58.90

According to Swimming Canada’s current rankings for the event, no swimmers have yet been under 2 minutes in the women’s 200 freestyle this season. We will likely need to wait until Canadian Olympic Trials next month to get a better sense of where they stand.

While Katie Ledecky and Yang Junxuan sit at number 1 and 2 in the world this season, the other top 8 ranks from both the US and China have managed to get under 1:59 but certainly trail Australia and haven’t yet hit the depth they will need to top the podium in Tokyo. As is the case with Australia, however, both countries have yet to hold their respective Olympic Trials which are set to run from June 4-7 (Wave I) and June 13-20 (Wave II) in the US and May 10 – 16 in China.

While Australia is in the lead right now, it will be exciting to watch as Canada, the US, and China try to catch them in the months leading up to Trials and at the Olympics.

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Samesame
23 days ago

Great analysis- thank you. SS providing all the info I wanted yet again . Very exciting (being an Australian).

Yozhik
23 days ago

Nice article. Thank you.
I would like to add that McKeon was sick during this world record race. And Wilson has already improved her personal best at 200 yesterday. And this personal best is faster than her flying start split in that famous world record setting relay. So everything indicates that gold medal in Tokyo will be won with new world record.
Is it possible for Americans to be that good?
Well, to beat 7:41.50 the average split has to be 1:55.35. It is very tough and only McLaughlin was up to such task at Guangzhou. If Ledecky makes 1:54.0 (that she gave us a hope a few days ago she can do) then remaining two members… Read more »

JimSwim22
Reply to  Yozhik
23 days ago

Yozhik is awesome

ALEXANDER POP-OFF
23 days ago

Correction: remove Joanna Evans from USA list— she’s Bahamian.