Commonwealth Countdown: Australian Men Primed for Relay Sweep


  • Thursday, April 5th – Tuesday, April 10th (swimming)
  • Optus Aquatic Centre, Gold Coast, Australia
  • Prelims at 10:30am local (8:30pm previous night EDT)
  • Finals at 7:30pm local (5:30am EDT)
  • Official Commonwealth Games website
  • Entries

For those unfamiliar with the Commonwealth Games, let’s get one thing clear: The flag an athlete wore in the Olympics might not be the same one they wear at the Commonwealth Games. That said, relay teams sometimes get split up and the results can be interesting.

No relay team is as split at Great Britain, which is now fractured between England, Scotland, Wales, as well as smaller factions such as Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man, though the latter four wouldn’t much influence a cumulative British performance anyway.

The British 4 x 100 meter medley relay team that won silver in Rio will somewhat remain together on Team England, which will retain Adam Peaty and James Guy, though backstroker Chris Walker-Hebborn is not entered in the meet. Additionally, Duncan Scott, who anchored the British 4 x 100 medley in Rio, will compete for Scotland. Walker-Hebborn was Team England’s 100 backstroke champion from Glasgow 2014 and the 2016 Rio Olympics medley relay lead-off. In his absence, the English must choose between two relative unknowns in former World Junior Championships participants Elliot Clogg and Luke Greenbank to kick off their 4 x 100 medley relay. Greenback is the likely pick based on his best time of 54.58, but Clogg should have the chance to swim in the prelims as England has 8 swimmers entered on the relay.

Team Scotland, meanwhile, boasts a probable ‘A’ team of Craig McNally, Ross MurdochMark Szaranek, and Duncan Scott.

Due to the English-Scottish split, neither team is perfect, but each separate squad is good enough to medal. England may not have Walker-Hebborn this year, but they still have the strongest middle 200 of any team with Peaty on the breast and Guy on the fly. If Peaty splits 57-anything and Guy 50-anything, they can probably hold off every other team… except Australia.

Australia, however, should have a sizable lead after backstroke, but it should be mostly if not fully made up for by Peaty on breaststroke. Guy will likely extend the lead over either of Australia’s David Morgan or Grant Irvine on the fly. However, Ben Proud will have to hold off either the reigning Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers or the textile world record holder Cameron McEvoy. Proud proved himself capable in 2016, but this time they’re racing on the Aussies’ home turf.

The 400 medley relay is a really tough call, but based off the evidence before us, it’s unlikely that England’s insane middle 200 will be enough to hold off the Aussies, who will have established a sizable lead in backstroke and will have a very fast freestyler bringing the relay home.

South Africa and Scotland will battle it out for third, but South Africa should gain the lead over the Scots in the middle 200 thanks to Cameron Van Der Burgh on breaststroke and Chad le Clos on butterfly. After that, it is unlikely the South Africans would relinquish the bronze, even though Duncan Scott will pursue them over the final 100 meters.

400 Medley Relay

  1. Australia
  2. England
  3. South Africa

The 400 freestyle relay is much easier to call than the 400 medley. For starters, the Aussies are loaded in this event. Cameron McEvoy, Kyle Chalmers, and Jack Cartwright will all contest the individual 100 freestyle, and with James Magnussen as a likely 4th, this team is just too stacked.

South Africa should easily take the silver, provided they don’t DQ. Le Clos, Calvyn Justus, Brad Tandy and Ryan Coetzee ought to be able to throw down a cluster of 48s to get ahead of England who will be in the hunt for the bronze, and at least two of them will be able to rest during prelims with Eben Vorster and Jarryd Baxter also entered on the relay.

The English team of Proud and Guy, alongside David Cumberlidge, Nicholas Grainger, and/or Jarvis Parkinson could be competitive but will have their work cut out for them.

Team Scotland, meanwhile, boasts a probable ‘A’ team of Daniel WallaceDuncan ScottMark Szaranek, and one other yet-to-determined swimmer. A combination of Scott and Szaranek, alongside England’s Guy and Proud could make for a highly-competitive British 4 x 100 freestyle relay, but we’ll have to wait until Euros or next summer’s FINA World Championships before we see that line up take to the pool.

400 Freestyle Relay

  1. Australia
  2. South Africa
  3. Scotland

Once again in the 4×200, the choice is Australia. While their depth advantage is mitigated by the fact that there is no prelims heat, they still on paper have the best foursome. But, that hasn’t always led to wins in the past.. Cameron McEvoy, Kyle Chalmers, Mack Horton, and a potential David McKeon (1:46.74), Alexander Graham (1:48.67), or Jack Cartwright (48.24 in the 100) looks too loaded for the divided UK nations to handle right now.

Wallace, Scott, Szaranek, are all capable of going 1:47s or faster, and if just one other swimmer can go sub-1:49, they should be set for silver.

South Africa is the likely pick for bronze, but they have lost some serious firepower since 2014. Le Clos and Justus, alongside Vorster and Baxter (most likely), still ought to be enough to hold off England and Canada.

England has Guy to provide one exceptionally strong leg, and Nick Grainger is also capable of a 1:47, but the team is difficult to predict after that.

800 Freestyle Relay

  1. Australia
  2. Scotland
  3. South Africa

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3 years ago

I’d take England over ZA for the 800FR relay bronze; Certainly the unpredictable team of the race, and Max Litchfield is a big loss, but the expectation should still be a 1.45 lead-off from James followed by three 1.47s.

Both 4x100s I’d go along with – Australia will be a mile clear in the free, but will have to chase England in the medley.

British Swimmer
Reply to  Dee
3 years ago

Don’t be silly now, England for only a bronze???????; with JG anchoring on a 1.43, Nick Grainger on a 1.46 lead off, and Jarvis Parkinson on a 1.47 middle leg!! Eliott Glogg will be the other middle leg and he went 1.49.0 last season from a flat start.

Reply to  British Swimmer
3 years ago

The form of Grainger is yet to be seen; I’m not expecting 1.46 – He only got the nod after Litchfield pulled out last month. Also think youre forgetting Cam Kurle; He won at winter champs and was 1.47 flat start in 2016 before an injury interrupted 2017. Wouldnt sleep on Joe Litchfield either; Despite not swimming a tapered 200fr (from what I can see ever), he has been named in the relay pool – His speed (49s 100fr) and endurance (4.18IM) suggest a very solid 200fr.

England are definitely the wildcard team, but I’d pick Scotland’s proven performers to come out on top in the fight for silver.

Thomas Selig
3 years ago

Stephen Milne will be the fourth Scot on the 4×200, unless he’s pulled out and I missed it? I actually think they’ll be closer to Australia than the author thinks. Scott is quite a bit quicker than anything Aus have, and the three other are solid options. Should be a good race IMO.

The medley relay could also be interesting. England will need their backstroker to really step up, but if Peaty and Guy can give them a lead of 1.5 secs or more the freestyle leg could be a cracker.

Reply to  Thomas Selig
3 years ago

wheres duncan scott???

Reply to  Swimming4silver
3 years ago

He’s Scottish, which is a reason why Australia are slight favourites in the men’s 4×100 med.

3 years ago

FYI Proud only anchored the GBR 4×100 med in 2015 WCh. Scott anchored in 2016 OG and 2017 WCh.

Thomas Selig
Reply to  Edvid
3 years ago

Proud anchored at the CW games 4 years ago, where England held off Australia for gold. Of course, back then they had CWH at his best (he won individual gold), although Peaty is quite a bit quicker, which makes up some of the difference.

Proud also anchored to a narrow gold over the French at Euros four years ago, narrowly holding off a charging Gillot.

Reply to  Thomas Selig
3 years ago

Adam Brown anchored at Glasgow 4 years ago then Proud took over at the Euros later that summer

Thomas Selig
Reply to  MaxN96
3 years ago

I stand corrected. Thanks.

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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