Commonwealth Countdown: Horton Aims to Double-Up in Distance Free


  • 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

Look no further than the record books to understand just how good the Australian men have historically been in the distance freestyle events.

Though Canada’s Ryan Cochrane took the win in both the 400 and 800 free at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, he retired in March of 2017, opening the field further for Australian dominance. In 2014, Australian David McKeon took silver to Cochrane in the 400 free, and go will go up against teammates Mack Horton and Jack McLoughlin and Britain’s James Guy this year for a podium spot. Mack Horton took silver in the 1500 four years ago, and appears primed for the top spot in both the 400 and 1500 this year.

Men’s 400 Free

  • Commonwealth record: 3:40.08, Ian Thorpe (AUS), 2002
  • Commonwealth Games record: 3:40.08, Ian Thorpe (AUS), 2002
  • 2014 Commonwealth champion: Ryan Cochrane (CAN)

Mack Horton leads the field by nearly a second in terms of entry time in the 400 (3:43.85), and James Guy (3:44.74) looks to be the only man who could get in the way of gold. Guy himself is entered well ahead of #3-seed David McKeon (3:45.56), so we’re likely in for a Horton-Guy battle. Yet another Australian, Jack McLoughlin, joins the top-3 seeds as the only other entrant under 3:46 this year (3:45.80).

Horton, the reigning Olympic champion in the event, took second to Sun Yang (3:41.38) in 3:43.85 at the 2017 FINA World Championships, and was a ways off his PR of 3:41.55. The question Thursday will be: is Horton capable of out-doing at least his Worlds time?

After his impressive silver medal performance in the 400 at the 2015 FINA World Championships where he went 3:43.75, Great Britain’s James Guy came into the Rio Olympics with podium aspirations but ended up 6th with a 3:44.68. He continued to add time on the international stage, placing 6th at Worlds in 2017 with a 3:45.58. Between the Olympics and Worlds, however, he went 3:44.74. After that swim, he said he was eyeing a 3:41, which obviously would put him in elite company. Known for his love of head-to-head racing, expect Guy to give Horton a challenge.

Australian David McKeon, who at 25 is the veteran of this young field, was 3:44.09 at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and was back up at 3:45.28 in Rio. Like Guy, at Worlds in 2017, he continued to gain, going 3:46.27. McKeon took time off after Worlds, which included a move from Brisbane to Gold Coast before the Australian Trials for this meet, where he went 3:47.39 on a half taper. In that same race, teammate Jack McLoughlin went 3:45.80 after sitting in the 3:46 range for a couple of years.

Podium Picks for Men’s 400m Free:

  1. Mack Horton, Australia
  2. James Guy, Great Britain
  3. Jack McLoughlin, Australia

Men’s 1500 Free

  • Commonwealth record: 14:34.56, Grant Hackett (AUS), 2001
  • Commonwealth Games record: 14:41.66, Kieren Perkins (AUS), 1994
  • 2014 Commonwealth champion: Ryan Cochrane (CAN)

The landscape of the 1500 does not differ much from the 400, with Mack Horton once again coming in as the clear favorite

At the 2017 FINA World Championships, Horton became the first Australian to podium on the world stage in distance free since Grant Hackett did it in Beiijing. He took bronze in the 1500 in 14:47.70, down nearly two seconds from his fifth-place Rio performance of 14:49.54. Only one other swimmer in the field has been under 14:50, and not since before Rio, so it is doubtful that Horton will have a challenge winning the event — it’s just a matter of how hard he can push himself.

Seeded second is Wales’ Daniel Jervis in 14:51.48, a time he went at the 2017 Edinburgh International Swim Meet. He was 14:55 at the 2014 Commonweath Games, and then back up at 15:07.97 at 2017 Worlds. In Edinburgh this year he was 15:01.87, so his time trajectory has been a little unpredictable.

Australia’s Jack McLoughlin has undergone somewhat of a meteoric rise in the 1500. At the 2016 Australian championships, he dropped 24 seconds (from 15:12.53 to 14:48.60) to nab a spot on the Rio roster. As is often the case after a big time drop like McLoughlin’s, he was not able to match his PR and in Rio went 14:56.02, placing 9th. At Worlds in 2017, he gained again, going 15:01.55, but dropped back down to 14:56.99 at the 2018 Australian Swimming Trials, winning the race over Horton, who cruised to a second-place 15:14.67.

Podium Picks for Men’s 1500m Free:

  1. Mack Horton, Australia
  2. Jack McLoughlin, Australia
  3. Daniel Jervis, Wales

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400FR I’d be shocked if one two wasnt Horton-Guy, but bronze looks open between two Aussies and Milne.

1500FR I, like a lot of Brits, like Jervis for the upset the Aussies and grab a gold for Wales.

Sum Ting Wong

Only if Mattie Wilson beats a 6 pack of British boys !


Palitrinieri said Horton was not tapered at all for the qualifying meet so hopefully he can get back to his Beijing times at the CW games


Well I guess that settles it then…


Oops Rio times*

Daniel Carr

Hope Guy does ok in the 400 and it doesn’t knock him back for the 200 free the day after, in my opinion he is a better sprinter than he is the longer distance now and although I am sure he will medal it would be nice to see him save a bit more energy to have a proper crack at Le Clos on the 200 fly on Saturday then possibly moving to the 200 IM last day when everything else was finished, he looked good in the heats of that in Edinburgh especially considering he was not rested, that could be an interesting event for him to take up.


I don’t think Guy is entered for the 200IM unfortunately.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majors in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swims distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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