While throwing down monster heat in the women’s 50m and 100m freestyle races at the 2017 NSW State Open Championships last weekend, world record holder Cate Campbell of Australia quietly threw down a best time in one of her off-events, the 200m freestyle. Having already clocked a 50m scorcher of 24.47 and a blistering 100m outing of 53.15 at the meet, Campbell tried the 200m on for size and wound up finishing with a silver medal behind Sweden’s Michelle Coleman, stopping the clock in 1:58.21.
Campbell, who says she’ll continue competing at the Mare Nostrum and World Cup Series this year, but not the 2017 World Championships in Budapest, has only swum the 200m free event a handful of times. Entering the meet, the Commercial Swimming Club athlete had yet to crack the 2-minute threshold.
‘C1’s time of 1:58.21 now ranks as the 9th fastest in the world this season, not too shabby for the typical 50/100 speedster. Additionally, the 24-year-old has only been back in the water part-time, as she has been recovering from a hernia, one with which she swam while securing a world record as a member of the Aussie 4x100m freestyle relay in Rio. For perspective, Campbell’s time from last weekend would have finished with a silver at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Indianapolis, beating all Americans in the process, although key swimmers such as Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel weren’t competing.
Locally, C1’s 200m freestyle mark ranks as the 2nd fastest Australian this season, only behind Western Australia’s Brianna Throssell, who clinched a time just .11 quicker at last December’s Queensland Championships.
Since Rio, 4x200m freestyle relay silver medalist Bronte Barratt has announced her retirement, while anchor Tamsin Cook revealed she will be taking a brief hiatus from the sport, opting out of the World Championships. Rio prelims relay member Jessica Ashwood and finals lead-off swimmer Leah Neale are still very much competing, but C1’s outing does make one’s mind wonder as to the possibilities for that event for the 3-time Olympian both on an individual and relay level. However, with her opting out of Budapest, that takes at least a short-term relay prospect off the table.
Individually, the Australian men have both Cameron McEvoy and Kyle Chalmers going after the 50/100/200 freestyle treble at Australian competitions, and Emma McKeon often attempts the trio on the women’s side. With this 1:58-low, it’s not extreme thinking to wonder if C1 would ever attempt the trifecta regularly down the road.