The final session of the 2013 Swimming Australia National Championships and World Championship Trials are a wrap, and though there were only a few races left by the time Friday evening rolled around, they were an exciting group: specifically was the men’s 1500 free.
In that race, where Australia is undeniably the dominant nation of history, a pair of 17-year olds were vying to return them to that mantle (and doing so nearly 50 meters ahead of the rest of the field).
Jordan Harrison and Mack Horton went 1-2 in the swim; Harrison separated himself around halfway in the race; by the time the swimmers flipped at the 900 meter mark, his lead had grown to over three seconds, and continued to build from there. Eventually, that lead would become more than eight seconds, as Harrison finished with a sub-4-minute 400 meters (3:58 to be specific) and win in 14:51.02.
Horton took 2nd in 14:59.66; only Harrison was under the FINA Automatic Qualifying Time, which means he will be Australia’s representative at the World Championships this summer, while Horton missed by 1.36 seconds.
Considering that Jarrod Poort won this race nearly 14 seconds off of that pace last year, the two swimmers are making big strides in advancing the group; the now 18-year old Poort was only 4th this season in 15:28.
Likely it’s no coincidence that the winner Harrison trains at the Miami Swim Club under Denis Cotterell: the man who coached Grant Hackett to be perhaps the best distance man in history. The world’s current best, who is eager to outpace history and take that honor away from Hackett, also spends much of his time training with Cotterell.
Meanwhile, in the women’s 50 free, the Campbell sisters continued to be race-tight. They went 1-2 in this race, just as they did in the 100, with Cate Campbell winning in 24.27 and the younger Bronte Campbell taking 2nd in 24.59. Cate won this race last year as well, but her time in 2013 was more than a tenth of a second better.
That’s also the fastest time in the world this year in the women’s 50, though some were hoping for maybe a 23-second swim after a blazingly fast 100 meters earlier in the meet.
The top four were all under 25 seconds, with Brittany Elmslie taking 3rd in 24.91 and Alicia Coutts taking 4th in 24.96. A fifth, Shayna Jack, was also under the qualifying standard in 25.03; that’s especially stunning as she’s still only 14 years old. In the USA, that would make her the fastest 14-year old ever. In Australia, it still leaves her quite a ways behind legendary age grouper Yolane Kukla.
In the men’s 400 IM final, Thomas Fraser-Holmes, another Miami swimmer, showed the fortitude of a veteran despite only being 21-years old. As he continued to recover from a false start in his very first race of this meet, he swam a 4:10.14 in the 400 IM to the Australian and Commowealth Records in the race. The old National mark belonged to him from last year’s meet in 4:11.81, and the old Commowealth mark sat at 4:11.32 by Britain’s Thomas Haffield in 2009.
What’s interesting about his nearly two-second drop from last year is the timing of this race: in 2012 it came at the beginning of the schedule, and in 2013 it comes at the end (mirroring the variance between the Olympic and World Championship schedules.)
His 2013 swim was a vastly different one from last year’s, however. He went out with a much better fly split in 2013, with the rest of his pacing remaining largely the same.
What’s scary is that this swim ranks Fraser-Holmes second in the world this year. He’s now within range of just needing to hold time to perhaps medal at Worlds, though across the globe this is an event that has gotten much faster this year (Japan, Australia, Italy, and Germany have all seen their National Records broken already this year.)
Travis Mahoney was 2nd in that race in 4:18.09, which misses the mandadted SA qualifying standard, and 18-year old Jared Gilliland took 3rd in 4:19.31.
There were no qualifiers in the women’s 400 IM, as Keryn McMaster of the Logan Vikins won in 4:40.76. That’s a solid time for a 19-year old, but with the qualifying mark moving all the way down to 4:38 and change this year, it takes a great swim to qualify. Samantha Hamill was 2nd in 4:42.79, and Taylor McKeown was 3rd in 4:42.83.
In the 50 meter races, not available for Worlds selection, Daniel Arnamnart won in 24.90, followed by Benjamin Treffers (24.97) and Ash Delaney (25.35). The Australians continue to look for their answer to the sprint backstrokes.
Sweden’s Jennie Johansson wasn’t quite as good in this 50 meter final as she was in the 100 earlier in the meet, but still took a win in 30.83. That beat Leiston Pickett of Southport Olympic (30.86) who two years ago set the record for the fastest 50 on Australian soil.
Coutts, seemingly finishing up her meet with some “why not” races was 3rd in 31.47. That sort of speed on an off stroke speaks well for her continued development in the 200 IM.
In the para races, Paralympian Kayla Clarke took a second gold in the meet by winning the women’s 100 fly in 1:10.49 on the basis of record-adjusted points. Both she and runner-up Amanda Fowler in the S14 classification would eventually be named World Championship qualifiers (1:11.71), as would the fastest swimmer in this race Tiegan van Roosmalen who was a 1:09.89.
Brenden Hall, one of the stars of this meet, was ultimately the winner of the men’s 100 fly with a 1:01.31. Mitchell Kilduff was 2nd in 1:03.62, with the fastest time overall, and third-place finisher, out of the S13 class Timothy Antalfy placing in 56.96.
It’s worth noting a few relay splits out of the medleys as well, where Nunawading won in 3:38.14 to Trinity Grammar’s 3:40.01. Kenneth To anchored for Trinity in 48.04, reassuring his worthiness of a relay spot in the Australian men’s 400. Matt Targett split a 52.49 on the fly leg of Nunawading’s relay.
In the women’s race, with Ellen Gandy racing for them, Nunawading also won handily in 4:02.20, which sets a new Australian club record. The full group was Belinda Hocking, Sarah Lynch, Gandy (splitting 58.00), and Belinda Parslow.
Bronte Barratt anchored the St. Peter’s Western relay in 54.45 as they took 2nd place in 4:05.52.