2022 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
- June 18-25, 2022 (pool swimming)
- Budapest, Hungary
- Duna Arena
- LCM (50-meter format)
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- Day 5 Finals Scratches
- Day 5 Finals Heat Sheets
The Australian swim team was faced with bad news just minutes into the start of this morning’s prelims session when it was revealed that Shayna Jack had hurt her hand in training, and would be withdrawing from Worlds in its entirety. As the team’s second-fastest 100 freestyler and fastest 50 freestyler, Jack’s absence means a potential loss of two medals for the Aussies, and even more damage done to upcoming relays such as the mixed free relay and the women’s medley relay.
Then, in the women’s 50 back, Kaylee McKeown uncharacteristically finished well off the podium, tying for fifth in a time of 27.47. This comes just a year after setting a best time of 27.16, and reportedly having broken the 50 back world record multiple times in training leading up to the Olympics. Then, Mitch Larkin continued the trend of Aussie backstroke disappointment today when he failed to reach the men’s 200 back finals.
Finally, Australia’s evening concluded with the finals of the women’s 4×200 free relay. Earlier this year at trials, the Aussies had an incredible showing in the women’s 200 free. Notably pointed out by superstar Ariarne Titmus was the fact that the Aussie depth in this race was so strong to the point where Meg Harris, the last-place finisher at Australian trials, was fast enough to beat Claire Weinstein, the second-place finisher at U.S. trials.
|TOP 8 FINISHERS, WOMEN’S 200 FREE, AUSTRALIAN TRIALS||TOP 8 FINISHERS, WOMEN’S 200 FREE, U.S. TRIALS|
|1. Ariarne Titmus – 1:53.31||1. Katie Ledecky – 1:55.11|
|2. Mollie O’Callaghan – 1:54.94||2. Claire Weinstein – 1:57.08|
|3. Madi Wilson – 1:55.86||3. Leah Smith – 1:57.44|
|4. Kiah Melverton – 1:55.94||4. Hali Flickinger – 1:57.53|
|5. Leah Neale – 1:56.10||5. Bella Sims – 1:57.71|
|6. Lani Pallister – 1:56.28||6. Alex Walsh – 1:57.82|
|7. Brianna Throssell – 1:56.34||7. Erin Gemmell – 1:58.12|
|8. Meg Harris – 1:56.82||8. Katie Grimes – 1:58.22|
Flash forward a month later, and the Americans ended up beating the Australians by a margin of 2.41 seconds. And yes, part of that was because the U.S. stepped up to the occasion and well exceeded expectations. Without Titmus and Emma McKeon, their best 200 freestylers, the fact that the Aussies still managed to take silver is an impressive finish. However, Madi Wilson (1:56.27), Leah Neale (1:55.27), Kiah Melverton (1:55.91), and Mollie O’Callaghan (1:55.94) put up an overall time of 7:43.86, over a second slower than their added up trials time of 7:42.84. On anchor, O’Callaghan had made the mistake of going out way too hard, opening in 54.93 and then fading by a large amount to close in 1:01.01. Had she been more conservative on her start, she could have had more energy on her back half to be near her best time.
That being said, judging the Australians by their performances at this meet is an unfair evaluation of where they really are as a team. Even before Worlds started, we knew that the majority of this team was prioritizing the upcoming Commonwealth Games and wouldn’t be peaking for a meet that was just weeks beforehand. Most likely, the performances of stars such as McKeown and O’Callaghan at Commonwealth Games will be better indicator of what shape they are in compared to their performances here. In addition, the Aussies are third in the medal rankings despite having an “off” meet, which is still something to be proud of.
- World record holder Zac Stubblety-Cook is the top qualifier headed into the finals of the men’s 200 breast. He swam a time of 2:06.72 in the semifinals, the ninth-fastest of all time, and is on track to claim gold and even break the world record tomorrow. In the women’s 200 breast, Jenna Strauch had a massive breakthrough to take the top seed. She put up a time of 2:22.22, a near second improvement from the 2:23.12 she put up at trials.
- Elizabeth Dekkers finished fifth in the women’s 200 fly, putting up a best time of 2:07.01
- Despite underperforming on the 4×200 free relay, Mollie O’Callaghan enters the women’s 100 free as the top seed from semifinals with her time of 52.85. She also had some ridiculous splits in her race, splitting 26.42/26.43 to record the fastest back half in the history of the women’s 100 free.