Australian Women Are Getting Deeper in 200 Free


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

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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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5 months ago

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

5 months 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 »

Reply to  Yozhik
5 months ago

Yozhik is awesome

5 months ago

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

5 months ago

To me the Americans will be those top 4 on their list. No second swimmer under 155 means they are not going to beat the Aussies.

5 months ago

I think relays are won with depth- that’s why the AUS and USA have dominated every event for ages….with 6 Top swimmers fighting to get into the final, AUS will be formidable. AUS has already held relay clinics and camps too.

Reply to  Torchbearer
5 months ago

Yes they have because Rohan Taylor smart coach knows exactly what he is doing the Dutchman had no idea thank god he and sailor boy are gone

Corn Pop
Reply to  kevin
5 months ago

Hullo . He managed to get plenty of relay world titles in Gwangju. The women were self sufficient but the men required some whatever had kept them back many times before. .

5 months ago

K.Mckeown swam a pb in the 200 free i lust wonder how much better she can get going into the trials

Miss M
5 months ago

You might want to correct Madi Wilson’s time: she swam 1:56:26 in the final.

Miss M
Reply to  Miss M
5 months ago

It means the Australian composite time at 2021 Nationals was 7:44:77, faster than they swam in Rio.

Last edited 5 months ago by Miss M
Reply to  Miss M
5 months ago

Good catch. They used her prelim time.

5 months ago

They were still faster in 2011 at thier world championship trials.. it took 157 to place in the top six and the Aussies were favorite heading into Shanghai but still ended up taking second behind the Americans when Missy Franklin let off a mind-boggling 155

Reply to  Swimfan
5 months ago

This isn’t trials tho and they’ll be faster at trials.