Day 1 Relay Analysis: Emma McKeon Blasts First Sub-50 100 Free Split In History


The relays have gotten off to a blistering start at the 2022 Short Course World Championships in Melbourne, with world records in both the men’s and women’s 400 freestyle relays falling by the wayside on Day 1.

The Aussie quartet of Mollie O’CallaghanMadi WilsonMeg Harris and Emma McKeon combined to knock more than a second off the previous women’s record in a time of 3:25.43, while the Italian team of Alessandro MiressiPaolo Conte BoninLeonardo Deplano and Thomas Ceccon cracked the men’s mark in 3:02.75.

In addition to the quick splits produced from these two record-breaking squads, there were a number of other blazing-fast legs in the race. Let’s dive into the splits below:


Lead-off Splits

Swimmer Country Split
Torri Huske USA 51.73
Anna Hopkin GBR 51.81
Mollie O’Callaghan AUS 52.19
Sara Junevik SWE 52.46
Rebecca Smith CAN 52.68
Yang Junxuan CHN 53.02
Kim Busch NED 53.37
Rio Shirai JPN 53.95

Torri Huske has clearly carried her strong early season form in the NCAA over into this competition, leading off the Americans in a time of 51.73 to mark a new personal by two-tenths of a second. Huske went 51.93 last year in Abu Dhabi, placing sixth in the final of the 100 freestyle, less than three-tenths shy of a medal.

Anna Hopkin‘s 51.81 lead-off for Great Britain is also a personal best, dipping under 51.90 from December 2019, and indicates she’ll be one to watch the rest of the week.

O’Callaghan’s split of 52.19 is solid for the Aussies, but many would have expected her to beat Huske and Hopkin here. She notably didn’t enter any individual freestyle events.

Sweden’s Sara Junevik has had an incredible start to this meet, first clocking a PB of 52.79 on the prelim relay before re-lowering it here in 52.46.

Flying Splits

Swimmer Country Split
Emma McKeon AUS 49.96
Marrit Steenbergen NED 50.91
Maggie MacNeil CAN 51.11
Kate Douglass USA 51.17
Madi Wilson AUS 51.28
Taylor Ruck CAN 51.49
Claire Curzan USA 51.59
Michelle Coleman SWE 51.76
Erika Brown USA 51.80
Zhang Yufei CHN 51.91
Meg Harris AUS 52.00
Louise Hansson SWE 52.15
Kira Toussaint NED 52.33
Cheng Yujie CHN 52.51
Wu Qingfeng CHN 52.52
Katerine Savard CAN 52.78
Sofia Aastedt SWE 52.98
Valerie Van Roon NED 52.98
Chihiro Igarashi JPN 53.09
Yume Jinno JPN 53.26
Isabella Hindley GBR 53.80
Abbie Wood GBR 53.83
Medi Garris GBR 54.03
Miki Takahashi JPN 54.48

All indications are that Emma McKeon‘s otherworldly 49.96 split is the fastest in history, overtaking fellow Aussie Cate Campbell‘s 50.38 from an ISL match in 2019.

McKeon opted out of the LC World Championships this year and then was solid at the Commonwealth Games, but appears to be back on the same form that led her to a record-breaking medal haul at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The Netherlands’ Marrit Steenbergen has had a phenomenal back half of the year, including winning four gold medals at the European Championships in August, and continues to perform well as her 50.91 split is significantly faster than her career-best from Abu Dhabi (51.76 – she also went 51.72 in the prelims).

For Maggie MacNeil, 51.1 is a massive improvement in her freestyle over the last 12 months, having had her fastest split come at the 2021 World Championships at 52.07. The Canadian did swim a personal best of 51.82 from a flat start at the Toronto World Cup, so it’s clear she’s found a new gear.

Kate Douglass has been sensational in the NCAA this year, but similar to MacNeil, her 51.1 split shows a big leap forward after leading off the 2021 team in 52.39. The same goes for Claire Curzan, who splits 51-mid after going 52.2 last year.

Madi Wilson is incredibly consistent in SCM so it’s no surprise to see her in the 51-low range, while Taylor Ruck at 51.49 is a positive sign for the Canadian relays the rest of the week.

Zhang Yufei looks strong for China, splitting sub-52 after she was 52.32 on last year’s relay.

No one jumps off the page as being particularly ‘off’ when looking at these splits, though Abbie Wood‘s 53.8 is a bit concerning considering she’s been as fast as 52.38 on a relay (Oct. 2020).


Lead-off Splits

Swimmer Country Split
Alessandro Miressi ITA 46.15
Katsuhiro Matsumoto JPN 46.72
Drew Kibler USA 46.84
Sergio de Celis Montalban ESP 46.90
Flynn Southam AUS 47.04
Gabriel Santos BRA 47.04
Ruslan Gaziev CAN 47.08
Stan Pijnenburg NED 47.74

Alessandro Miressi was the class of the field on the lead-off, touching in 46.15 after going 46.08 in the prelims.

Miressi won the individual 100 free title last year in 45.57 after leading off the relay in 46.12, so he’s essentially had the exact same start to the meet this time around (though significantly faster on the prelim relay).

The field was pretty bunched up behind the Italian, with Drew Kibler essentially on par with his personal best time from the World Cup (46.82) and Spain’s Sergio de Celis Montalban knocking his best time done nearly half a second in 46.90.

Kibler was notably a tad off his prelim performance, where he split 45.91 with a takeover (0.25 reaction).

The lone swimmer who was a bit behind the pack was Dutchman Stan Pijnenburg, who was well off his best time of 46.38 in 47.74. Pijnenburg led off the Dutch relay in 46.64 in 2021, and the early deficit was too much for the team to overcome as they ended up in eighth.

Flying Splits

Swimmer Country Split
Kyle Chalmers AUS 44.98
Thomas Ceccon ITA 45.13
Leonardo Deplano ITA 45.54
Kieran Smith USA 45.77
Shaine Casas USA 45.90
Paolo Conte Bonin ITA 45.93
Matt Temple AUS 46.06
Javier Acevedo CAN 46.18
Yuri Kisil CAN 46.41
Mario Molla Yanes ESP 46.44
Lucas Peixoto BRA 46.54
Thomas Neill AUS 46.55
Carson Foster USA 46.58
Pedro Spajari BRA 46.63
Luis Dominguez ESP 46.63
Katsumi Nakamura JPN 46.63
Breno Correia BRA 46.64
Caspar Corbeau NED 46.75
Masahiro Kawane JPN 46.93
Nyls Korstanje NED 46.96
Carles Coll Marti ESP 47.22
Thom de Boer NED 47.39
Ilya Kharun CAN 47.43
Hidenari Mano JPN 47.65

The world record holder in the 100 free has shown up on good form, as Kyle Chalmers anchored the Aussies to silver and a new Commonwealth Record with a 44.98 split, just the ninth in history under 45 seconds.

Chalmers’ individual world record is faster, 44.84 (and he’s been 44.98 on a relay previously), but the split indicates he’s firing on all cylinders. Known for his back half prowess, Chalmers was quickest to the feet in the entire field at 21.26 (with a 0.29 reaction time), and closed in 23.72. He split 21.40/23.44 when he broke the world record.

The Italians had already established a big lead when Thomas Ceccon dove in on the anchor leg, but he nearly matched Chalmers with a scintillating 45.13 split, making him one to watch in the individual event later in the meet. Ceccon’s previous best was a 45.71 last year in Abu Dhabi.

Leonardo Deplano‘s 45.54 put him well under his split from last year’s relay (45.98) for Italy, and the relatively unknown Paolo Conte Bonin stepped up in a big way by also cracking 46 seconds.

For the Americans, Kieran Smith and Shaine Casas were impressive with their sub-46 splits, as Casas was 46.50 last year with a flying start while Smith improved on his strong 46.08 anchor in the prelims.

Carson Foster, who didn’t swim the heats, was a bit of an unexpected addition to the finals team but he stepped in and performed well with a 46.58 leg.

Canada’s Javier Acevedo was a bit off individually on Tuesday but came back with a vengeance here, splitting 46.18 to go more than a second faster than he ever has (47.31 in 2016).

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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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