Commonwealth Countdown: Campbell Sisters Highlight Women’s Freestyle

2018 Commonwealth Games

The women’s sprint events on the Gold Coast will be highlighted by the sister duo of Cate & Bronte Campbell, who have combined for six Olympic and 15 LC World Championship medals over the course of their careers. While they headline the 50 and 100 for the Aussies, Emma McKeon and Ariarne Titmus will take over the mantle in the 200, while Canadians Penny Oleksiak and Taylor Ruck will also be major factors in both the 100 and 200. Take a closer look at the three shorter freestyle events below:

Women’s 50m Freestyle

  • Commonwealth Record: 23.79, Cate Campbell (AUS), 2018
  • Commonwealth Games Record: 23.96, Francesca Halsall (GBR), 2014
  • 2014 Commonwealth Champion: Francesca Halsall (GBR)

After taking 2nd and 3rd four years ago, the Campbell sisters will be looking for a 1-2 finish in the 50 free this year like they managed to do in the 100 in Glasgow. There is a clear division in this event, and the Aussies look primed for a podium sweep.

In the last year only three swimmers in the field have gone sub-25, with Cate sub-24 in 23.79. Cate, Bronte (24.22) and Shayna Jack (24.62) all went these times at the Australian Trials in March, faster than they were at any point in 2017, making a 1-2-3 look extremely likely. Both the swims by Cate and Jack were lifetime bests, and Bronte was only a tenth off her best done when she won the 2015 world title.

Behind them there are a ton of swimmers in the 25-second range. England’s Anna Hopkin comes in with a 25.07 from the 2017 British Championships, with South Africa’s Erin Gallagher (25.35) and Scotland’s Lucy Hope (25.42) right there in the mix as well. The three Canadians in this event, Penny OleksiakRebecca Smith and Kayla Sanchez, have a good chance to all make the final as well, though none of them specializes in the splash and dash. The 50m semis come in the same session as the 100 fly final, so there’s a chance Oleksiak and/or Smith could opt out with the 50 coming first and both more competitive in the fly (though there’s lots of time between the two).

TOP 8 PREDICTIONS

Place Swimmer Country 2017 Best All-Time Best
1 Cate Campbell Australia 24.43 23.79
2 Bronte Campbell Australia 24.43 24.12
3 Shayna Jack Australia 24.66 24.62
4 Anna Hopkin England 25.07 25.07
5 Penny Oleksiak Canada 25.75 25.38
6 Kayla Sanchez Canada 25.29 25.29
7 Erin Gallagher South Africa 25.35 25.35
8 Lucy Hope Scotland 25.42 25.42

Women’s 100m Freestyle

While the 50 looks to be clear sailing for the Australians, the 100 free will be much more competitive. Along with Cate (52.37) and Bronte (52.85), Canadians Oleksiak (52.94) and Taylor Ruck (52.96) have been sub-53 in the past 12 months. Ruck in particular has been red hot of late, including defeating world record holder Sarah Sjostrom head-to-head at the Atlanta Pro Swim. Oleksiak was the one who came through to win Olympic gold (tying Simone Manuel) in this event in Rio, while Cate, the favorite, faltered and finished 6th.

There’s no question Cate is the fastest swimmer in the field. She’s the second fastest performer in history, holds 9 of the top-16 times ever swum, and has gone sub-53 over 20 times. The question is whether or not she can handle her nerves in front of the home crowd and hold off the young Canadians down the stretch.

Freya Anderson of England is one to keep an eye on in this race, as the 2017 World Junior champion was 53.88 in August at just 16 years of age. Now 17, she’ll look to shock the big names and grab a medal. Winning bronze at those junior championships was Kayla Sanchez, the third Canadian entrant, who figures into the final picture with a best of 54.44. England’s Hopkin, South Africa’s Gallagher and Scotland’s Hope will also be in the mix for a finals berth.

After the third Australian Emma McKeon dropped this event, Shayna Jack was given the slot despite finishing 5th at their Trials (Brianna Throssell was 4th, but like McKeon, has the 200 fly in close proximity to this race). With Jack in, she should be right there in the mix. She was a career-best 53.40 at the 2017 Aussie Trials, and should battle Anderson for 5th after going 54.20 at the beginning of March.

TOP 8 PREDICTIONS

Place Swimmer Country 2017 Best All-Time Best
1 Cate Campbell Australia 52.78 52.06
2 Taylor Ruck Canada 52.96 52.96
3 Penny Oleksiak Canada 52.94 52.70
4 Bronte Campbell Australia 52.85 52.52
5 Freya Anderson England 53.88 53.88
6 Shayna Jack Australia 53.40 53.40
7 Kayla Sanchez Canada 54.44 54.44
8 Anna Hopkin England 54.76 54.76

Women’s 200m Freestyle

Defending champion Emma McKeon comes in as the big favorite in the 200 free, coming off a silver medal performance at the 2017 World Championships where she tied with American superstar Katie Ledecky. Her recent venture out into the world of the 200 fly can only help her in this event, and with this coming on the first day of competition, her heavy schedule won’t weigh her down at all.

Rising 17-year-old star Ariarne Titmus actually beat out McKeon at the Trials in 1:55.76, a lifetime best. After gaining some big meet experience last summer at Worlds, including taking 4th in the 400 free, she’s setting up for a big performance on the Gold Coast.

While McKeon and Titmus have to be favored to go 1-2, the 200 does feature Canadian studs Ruck and Oleksiak. Ruck broke the Canadian Record in this event at the Atlanta Pro Swim in 1:56.85, and looks like she has at least a 1:55 in her, if not better. This is the first time Oleksiak has pursued this event individually on an international level in her young career, but she did split 1:54.9 in Rio on the relay.

England’s Eleanor Faulkner exploded for a best of 1:56.76 at the Swim England Winter Champs at the end of December, putting her in place to be a factor in the final, and the third Australian, Leah Neale was within six tenths of her PB (1:57.06) at Australian Trials.

Freya Anderson and Holly Hibbott of England, Jazmin Carlin and Kathryn Greenslade of Wales, and Joanna Evans of the Bahamas will be pushing for a spot in the final as well with swims over the last year ranging from 1:58-2:00.

With Canada’s third entrant Katerine Savard withdrawing, they could have either Rebecca Smith, Kayla Sanchez or Mary-Sophie Harvey step in and any of the three would have a good shot to make top-8.

TOP 8 PREDICTIONS

Place Swimmer Country 2017 Best All-Time Best
1 Emma McKeon Australia 1:54.99 1:54.83
2 Taylor Ruck Canada 1:56.94 1:56.85
3 Ariarne Titmus Australia 1:57.90 1:55.76
4 Penny Oleksiak Canada 1:57.59
5 Eleanor Faulkner England 1:56.76 1:56.76
6 Leah Neale Australia 1:58.40 1:57.06
7 Kathryn Greenslade Wales 1:58.27 1:58.27
8 Jazmin Carlin Wales 1:59.59 1:56.88

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Caeleb Dressel Will Win 9 Gold Medals in Tokyo
3 years ago

O my god. Sorry. I meant Taylor Ruck ???. Oops!!!! Taylor Ruck will go faster than 1:56.

Admin

Don’t worry ;-). This is why we have comment filters in place.

50free
3 years ago

Cate takes the 50 and 100 only because this meet doesn’t matter too much.

PVSFree
Reply to  50free
3 years ago

Someone needs to tell her the Olympics/Worlds don’t matter either. Then maybe she’d win

Caeleb Dressel Will Win 9 Gold Medals in Tokyo
Reply to  50free
3 years ago

I suppose you’ve won many worlds and Olympic gold medals? After all, you said it that the cg doesn’t matter.

50free

Yes because it’s not like you are allowed to criticize people for things if you hadn’t done it before.

Pvdh

This is the absolute laziest argument there is

Ben
Reply to  50free
3 years ago

The Australians tend to take the Commonwealth Games very seriously, and it’s also at home. No matter the size of the competition, competing at home always gives you that extra motivation.

MasterSwim
3 years ago

The NCAA’s were great, however I think this meet matters quite a bit with respect to measuring the progress that the young Canadians have made as we move towards Pan Pac’s this summer…along with a few young Aussie’s. The women’s field at this meet is very fast in a number of events and I’m very interested when youth emerges as consistent world class. We may see some of these moments at this meet.

Dee
3 years ago

From an English perspective I’d be shocked if Anderson made any gains. She has been carrying an injury since Feb 2017, and was still rehabbing last month. Official CWG site has her as 191cm tall, how many are taller? I can only think of Cierra Runge. Can’t see past a Campbell 1-2 in the 50; 100/200 cojld feasibly go to 3 or 4 women – They should be great races.

50
GOLD: Cate Campbell
SILVER: Bronte Campbell
BRONZE: Penelope Oleksiak

100
GOLD: Cate Campbell
SILVER: Taylor Ruck
BRONZE: Penelope Oleksiak

200
GOLD: Emma McKeon
SILVER: Taylor Ruck
BRONZE: Ariarne Titmus

MasterSwim
Reply to  Dee
3 years ago

I did not know Anderson was 6’3″. It’s difficult to tell from video how tall some of these athletes are versus their listed height, but the Campbell sisters look like they are in the 6’1″ range and Oleksiak and Ruck look like they are both in the 6’2″ range. Regardless, freestylers and backstrokers tend to be tall…but then Louise Hanson (fly) and Breeja Larson (breastsroke) upset that theory. Nathan Adrian (free) and Matt Grevers at 6’8″ bring us back to the theory.

Dee
Reply to  MasterSwim
3 years ago

Well, science is behind the theory! Ha

Cate is a good 2/3 inches taller than Bronte, who is fairly average height for a sprinter, I think.

DDias
Reply to  Dee
3 years ago

I saw Cate up close at Olympics.I would say Cate is 1.86(give or take a bit).

carlo
Reply to  Dee
3 years ago

Chantal van landeghem is 6,4. same with cierra runge. They are kind of the tallest female sprinters I know but their height doesn’t really translate into super fast times. Simone Manuel is 5,11 and is a bullet, much faster than both of them. I would say the average range for female sprinters seem to be between 5,10 and 6,1.
Sarah sjostrom 6,1
Cate campbell 6,1
Bronte Campbell 5,10
Simone Manuel 5,11
Emma McKeon 5,10
Penny oleksiak 6,1
Taylor ruck 6,1 etc.

Dee
Reply to  carlo
3 years ago

Emma McKeon is only 5’10? I thought she was 6ft! Both McKeon’s look taller in the pool than on land though, those long arms! ha

carlo
Reply to  Dee
3 years ago

She,s 5,11 which is really close to 6 feet. My mistake.

commonwombat
Reply to  Dee
3 years ago

On times, C1 “has” both the 50 & 100 ….. but will she falter should she be slightly off her best and someone swim close to her in the semis (allowing doubt to enter her mind ala Rio) ?

50: AUS possesses the only sub25 swimmers so on paper it looks a potential podium sweep but will it play out that way ? C2’s body is held together by rubber bands and chewing gum and therefore only has finite numbers of fast swims in her. Jack has not been as fast this year as in 2017. Can Oleksiak or Hopkin pull out significant PBs ? Think it will be 2 AUS on the podium, third member ??

100: Not particularly… Read more »

Dee
Reply to  commonwombat
3 years ago

Hopkin is an interesting one; Still quite young, hadn’t really been heard of in Britain until 2016, so came in just as Halsall retired. Quite similar actually; Small for a sprinter with high stroke turnover. She will be well up against it to get near the medals here – Top 5 would be a great outcome in her first big international.

coachymccoachface
3 years ago

In the 50 you have Cate and Bronte as the same 2017 best, is that an error?

coachymccoachface
Reply to  James Sutherland
3 years ago

#justtwinthings

Coach John
Reply to  coachymccoachface
3 years ago

twinning

Yozhik
3 years ago

Will Cate Campbell go below 52.3? She has 7(!!!!) 52.3 results that made her the best sprinter ever… until Sarah Sjostrom said last year: not so fast. Cate proved in 2016 that she is capable to swim faster. If she doesn’t challenge Sarah Sjostrom’s time right now, at home, this Australian Autumn being in a month 26 yo, then when?
What is Ariarne Titmus is capable of at 400? She jumped to 4:02 recently. Was it just the beginning or she approached her limits. Many great names including Jackson, Smith, Arlington, Mufatt, Carlin, Schmitt, Manaudou got stuck within the closest proximate possible to this magic barrier. Is Adriarne different?
These are the only two questions that keep me… Read more »

Sum Ting Wong
Reply to  Yozhik
3 years ago

Ariarne is different in that she is much younger & has only been swimming in an elite squad for 2 years . 1.55.5 4 .01 & 8.17 would be a good result before she is 18 in Sept .

Yozhik
Reply to  Sum Ting Wong
3 years ago

These times will make her major contender in competitions of any level. Let’s see if it happens.

Troy
Reply to  Sum Ting Wong
3 years ago

Schmitt was 1:55 before college not sure maybe 16 or something then was 1:53 in 2012….to say 18 is young for girls can be misleading. Also I can say the great Janet Evans who got ALL her best times at 16 and 17.

Dee
Reply to  Troy
3 years ago

Until recently, female athletes were often thrown on the scrapheap as soon as their teens were behind them. Also, young female swimmers, I’m afraid to say, had such heavy workloads put on them they simply burned out – Others, in some nations, were pumped so full of drugs at a young age they simply ‘developed’ artificially sooner than they would naturally.

As we’ve seen from Melanie Costa Schmid, Lauren Boyle, Jazmin Carlin, Boglarka Kapas, Jessica Ashwood – Some of the fastest female mid-distance freestylers in recent years have matured to their full potential way after their teenage years.

ALEXANDER POP-OFF
3 years ago

Anyone who says Commonwealth Games don’t matter will miss potential world records in the women’s 100 back and the women’s 4×100 free relay. Beyond that, there will be historic times, surprises, career moves. Cate will be sub-52 in the 100 free. It may be as relay lead off.

You may not want to hear this but I think the best chance for Oleksiak to medal individually is the 100 fly. I think Bronte beats her for bronze in the 100 free. Home advantage. Taylor Ruck will break her Canadian record in the same race for silver in about 52.5 or 6.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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