The Australians as a whole have been hot so far in 2014, and while in-season speed has not been the criticism over the last few years, continued success at the Swimming Australia Grand Prix 2 is a positive sign. The meet is hosted in Brisbane and the Sleeman Swimming Center and is designed specifically for swimmers gearing toward the big summer meets of the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacs.
The sisters Campbell, Cate and Bronte, put on their typical show in the women’s 50 free timed final, as well as the later prelims of the 100 free.
At this meet, 50-meter events and 400-meter-plus events are swum strictly as finals, while everything else is prelims on Friday and finals on Saturday. There is a women’s 600 free, a men’s 900 free, and a mixed 3000 free on Saturday in place of the standard distance events, for training purposes.
First, in the 50 free, the elder Cate swam a 24.33 for the win, with her sister Bronte behind in 24.78. For both swimmers, that’s exactly two-tenths slower than their season-bests that have them ranked 1st and 6th, respectively, in the world this year.
Marieke D’Cruz (nee Guehrer) took 3rd in 25.90, and Yolane Kukla, after looking improved at the Age Group Champs following a disappointing seniors, was 4th in just 24.98.
Just over an hour later, the Campbell sisters were at it again with another 1-2 finish. This time, it came in the women’s 100 free prelims, where a total of five swimmers were under 55 seconds.
Cate Campbell was the only one under 54 seconds, however, as she took the top seed in 53.75, with Bronte Campbell 2nd in 54.22.
Alicia Coutts, who had a busy day, is the 3rd seed in 54.55, followed by Brittany Elmslie (54.60) and Mel Schlanger (54.90). Schlanger was the oldest swimmer in the 11-woman field, and continues to look strong in 2014 after an injury-plagued 2013.
Emma McKeon (55.06), Kukla (56.41), and Melissa Mitchell (56.76) completed the top 8.
The women’s freestyle events across-the-board were the highlights of the day. In the 200 free, McKeon was a 1:56.99 for the top seed, followed by Elmslie (1:58.09), Bronte Barratt (1:58.97), and Schlanger (1:59.12). That aggregates to a 7:53 across the 800 free relay, even with no Kylie Palmer and no Alicia Coutts, and no relay starts. This is fine form with still a drop to go before the Commonwealth Games.
Emma McKeon had a great Friday all day long, also taking the top seed in the 100 fly with a 58.69.
Overall, expect most of the fast times to come on Saturday. A few other notable results from Friday’s session:
- Meagen Nay rocked a very good prelims 2:09.79 in the 200 back. She worked a good field on every part of this race, splitting 1:04.1/1:05.6. With an eye on this meet being a preparation for bigger competitions that require fast times across multiple rounds, that is a great number for a prelims swim. Consistency across multi-round meets is one of Nay’s strengths.
- 18-year old Mitchell Pratt swam a 2:00.89 in the men’s 200 fly prelims. He had a very good 3rd-50 split of 31.05.
- Sally Hunter (2:26.69) and Taylor McKeown (2:26.75) were nose-and-nose in the women’s 200 breast. McKeown had a second-and-a-half lead, taking her swim out in an impressive 1:10, but Hunter was much better on the back-half. Finals may show if that was intentional or not.
- David McKeon had a fine day for himself just like younger sister Emma. He took the top seed in the men’s 200 free in 1:48.81 ahead of Kurt Herzog (1:48.88), and was also a 3:50.81 to win the timed final of the men’s 400 free.
- The men’s swimmers by-and-large seemed to coast through prelims of the 100 free. Kenneth To swam a 49.70, and was the only one under 50 seconds. James Magnussen was a 50.04 for the 3rd seed, and Matthew Abood, who was officially named to the Commonwealth Games team today, was a 50.27 for the 4th seed. Cameron McEvoy, who is at this meet, didn’t race the 100.
- Abood took the top seed in 22.66 ahead of To (22.79) and Magnussen (22.80). This will be Abood’s focus event for the summer at least individually.
- Thomas Fraser-Holmes broke the Grand Prix Record with a 4:17.58 in the men’s 400 IM, and would come back later for a 2:01.65 in the 200 IM. He’s still got a superior front-half to Daniel Tranter of SOPAC, but Tranter is looking better there.
- Bronte Barratt swam a 4:09.34 in the women’s 400 free timed final – just two-tenths away from her 2008 Meet Record.
- On some 200 free relays, Cate Campbell split 23.94 on a rolling start. To split 22.2 on a rolling start on the men’s side, and Matthew Abood was a 22.3.