Commonwealth Games Preview – Women’s Sprint Freestyle

Women’s 50 Freestyle

Event Details:

  • Heats – Friday July 25th – 10:30 am local (5:30 am EST)
  • Semi-finals – Friday July 25th – 7:00 pm local (2:00 pm EST)
  • Finals – Saturday July 26th – 7:00 pm local (2:00 pm EST)

Event History:

  • 2010 Champion – Yolane Kukla (AUS) – 24.86
  • Commonwealth Games Record – Libby Lenton (AUS) – 24.61 (2006)
  • Commonwealth Record – Libby Trickett (AUS) – 23.97 (2008)

Cate Campbell has been outstanding over the last year in the splash and dash. She currently leads world rankings with a time of 24.13, which she posted in April at the Australian Championships. She finished second at the World Championships in Barcelona last summer recording a lifetime best of 24.14. Heading into Barcelona she had posted a season’s best of 24.27 in May at the Australian Championships, a pace that she is well ahead of heading into Glasgow.

Campbell’s achilles heel will be her starting speed, something that many in Australia hope that new National Team Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren has helped to improve.

It is hard to see anyone beating Campbell in the event, but one of her main challengers should be Fran Halsall of England, who currently ranks second in the Commonwealth with a time of 24.38. Halsall is experienced in big meet situations having won the silver at the games in 2010 and a bronze at last year’s World Championships. Even though she has had success on the international stage, she did have a disappointing showing when competing on home soil at the Olympics. Halsall went into the games with a season’s best of 24.13, but posted a 24.47 in the final to finish fifth.

She has also shown good speed in the 50 butterfly throughout the year. Something that definitely does not always translate, but is evidence that her speed and power are there.

There are only three other Commonwealth athletes who have been under 25 seconds this year; Bronte Campbell (24.58), Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (24.65) and Melanie Schlanger (24.69).

Campbell has made incremental improvements over the last three years posting a lifetime best in April at the Australian Championships. After placing fifth in event at the World Championships in Barcelona this just might be her time to have a breakthrough performance.

Bahaman swimmer Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, who trains at Auburn University, posted her season’s best of 24.65 in May at the Charlotte Grand Prix and since that time has swum under 25 seconds four more times. Vanderpool-Wallace finished eighth in London and recorded her lifetime best in the semi-final finishing in a time of 24.64. She had an off year in 2013 posting a season’s best of 25.15, but her recent results indicate that she will be ready to challenge for a medal in Glasgow.

Schlanger’s specialty leans more towards the 100 freestyle, but this year she has made some significant improvements in the 50. She broke 25 seconds for the first time in prelims at the Australian Championships in April. She improved each time she swam the event eventually swimming a 24.69 to collect a bronze in the final. Since Schlanger finished fourth (tied with Brittany Elmslie) at the Australian Championships in the 100 freestyle the 50 will be her only chance at an individual medal.

Amy Smith of England (25.06) and Sian Harkin of Scotland have the (25.07) have the eighth and ninth ranked times in the Commonwealth (Australians Emma McKeon and Brittany Elmslie are ranked sixth and seventh, but will not be swimming the 50 freestyle due to each nation’s limit of three swimmers per event) and will be in tough to challenge for a medal.

My Top Five:

  1. Cate Campbell (AUS)
  2. Fran Halsall (ENG)
  3. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (BAH)
  4. Bronte Campbell (AUS)
  5. Melanie Schlanger (AUS)

Women’s 100 freestyle

Event Details:

  • Heats – Sunday July 27th – 10:30 am local (5:30 am EST)
  • Semi-finals – Sunday July 27th – 7:00 pm local (2:00 pm EST)
  • Finals – Monday July 28th – 7:00 pm local (2:00 pm EST)

Event History:

  • 2010 Champion – Alicia Coutts (AUS) – 54.09
  • Commonwealth Games Record – Libby Lenton – 53.54 (2006)
  • Commonwealth Record – Cate Campbell – 52.33 (2013)

Cate Campbell is the favourite in the 50 freestyle and she will stay the favourite in the 100 freestyle. Campbell has the world’s fastest time of 52.68, which she posted at the Australian Championships in April. She won the event at the World Championships last summer posting a time of 52.34, only one one-hundredth of a second off of the Commonwealth record she had set leading off the women’s 4 x 100 freestyle relay team five days earlier.

Since her Olympic disappointment Campbell has returned to the water with a vengeance and has dominated the women’s 100 freestyle throughout the past year, which should continue in Glasgow.

Although Bronte Campbell has only shown slight improvements in her 50 freestyle over the last couple of season’s she has taken significant strides in the 100 meter distance. Campbell entered the 2014 season with a lifetime best of 53.72 and is currently ranked third in the world and second in the Commonwealth with a time of 53.02. The younger of the Campbell sisters has always had strong front end speed, but over the last year has shown that she is learning how to put together a performance that may land her on the podium in Glasgow.

20-year old Australian Emma McKeon currently ranks third in the Commonwealth in the 100 freestyle having posted a 53.43 en route to winning bronze at the Australian Championships. Over the last year McKeon has been able to improve her 100 freestyle by almost seven tenths of a second coming into the season with a lifetime best of 54.11.

McKeon, who is ranked second in the world in the 200 freestyle, got some valuable experience at last year’s World Championships where she was joined the Campbell sisters and Alicia Coutts on the silver medal winning 4 x 100 freestyle relay.

Fran Halsall is currently ranked fourth in the Commonwealth with a 54.07 which she recorded in March at the Mediterranean Open. Halsall has continued to have a high level of speed and power over the past few years, but has not been at her best in the 100 meter distance in quite some time. Her textile lifetime best of 53.48 was recorded in 2011 and she had a season’s best of 54.39 in 2013.

South African Karin Prinsloo recorded a 54.48 in January at the BHP Billition Super Series, which was almost a half second improvement on her lifetime best of 54.97 coming into the season. Canadian Victoria Poon is ranked sixth in the Commonwealth having posted a 54.67 at the Canadian Swimming Trials in April. Poon’s season’s best times for the last four years have been between 54.44 (2010) and 54.67 (2012 and 2014) which would give no indication that she in line for a big improvement in Glasgow.

My Top Five:

  1. Cate Campbell (AUS)
  2. Emma McKeon (AUS)
  3. Bronte Campbell  (AUS)
  4. Fran Halsall (ENG)
  5. Karin Prinsloo (RSA)

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6 years ago

My top 5:
50m freestyle
1. Cate Campbell
2. Bronte Campbell
3. Fran Halsall
4. Melanie Schlanger
5. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace

100m freestyle
1. Cate Campbell
2. Emma McKeon
3. Bronte Campbell
4. Fran Halsall
5. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace

About Jeff Grace

Jeff Grace

Jeff is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher who holds diplomas in Coaching (Douglas College) and High Performance Coaching (National Coaching Institute - Calgary). He has a background of over 20 years in the coaching profession, where he has used a unique and proven teaching methodology to help many achieve their …

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