Hansen Breaks Into Breaststroke World Rankings To Start 2019 Vic Open


It was a relatively low-key day in Melbourne, as the first sessopms of the 2019 Vic Open Championships got underway. Olympic finalist Cameron McEvoy made an appearance, racing in the men’s 100m freestyle. The 24-year-old TSS Aquatics swimmer was also entered in the men’s 400m free, but wound up scratching that event.

In the 100m prelims, McEvoy put up a solid 50.18 to take the top seed ahead of visiting Malaysian swimmer Welson Sim‘s 2nd-seeded 50.43. The pair finished 1-2 in the final, with McEvoy dipping under the 50-second barrier with a gold medal-garnering effort of 49.56. Splitting 23.71/25.85, McEvoy now inserts himself among the top 25 swimmers in the world, with his 49.56 time replacing 25th place Yuri Kisil of Canada.

For his part, Sim finished in 50.19 for the silver behind McEvoy, while Sam Perry rounded out the top 3 in 50.59.

McEvoy’s best last season rested at the 48.44 he put up at the Gold Coast-hosted Commonwealth Games, a time that resulted in the freestyle ace’s 4th place finish. Considering McEvoy remains as the fastest textile 100m freestyler ever with his 47.04 from 2016, the racing mainstay has some work to do to get up to that caliber in time for the World Championships later this summer. But, it’s still early on and the stud is in no way tapered for this meet.

The women’s edition of the sprint free saw 24-year-old Melbourne Vicentre athlete Kotuku Ngawati reap gold with a winning time of 56.36. Teammate Elyse Woods touched shortly after in 56.52. Both women represented the only athletes to notch sub-57 second times in the final, but they also did so in the prelims, with Ngawati leading the way in 56.61 to Woods’ 56.71.

Short Course World Championships bronze medalist Jess Hansen got her 2019 off with a pleasing time in the women’s 100m breaststroke, clocking 1:07.62 for the victory. Splitting 31.69/35.93, Hansen’s effort now ranks 7th in the world this season, although the 23-year-old was faster at this same meet last year, earning gold in 1:07.02.

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Also in the race was 17-year-old Southport swimmer Chelsea Hodges, who produced the 2nd fastest time of her young career. Holding a personal best of 1:08.88 from the 2018 Queensland Championships, Hodges touched just .01 shy of that mark in 1:08.89. Splits for Hodges include 32.38/36.51. She remains as the 6th fastest Aussie 17-year-old of all-time in the event.

Olympic gold medalist Mack Horton made his 2019 racing debut in the men’s 400m freestyle. Registering the only sub-4:00 time of the morning in 3:57.57, Horton wasn’t able to replicate the same standard come the final, with Sim of Malaysia hitting the wall first in 3:54.77. Horton settled for silver in 3:55.43, off his winning effort of 3:51.38 from 2018. But, last year, the Melbourne Vicentre swimmer had the likes of visiting Italian swimmer Gregorio Paltrinieri, as well as domestic rivals David McKeon and Daniel Smith, swimming alongside him.

Sim holds his nation’s fastest 400m freestyle time ever with the 3:49.48 produced at the 2017 Mare Nostrum. At last year’s Asian Games, Sim found himself in the heartbreaking 9th position in the men’s 400m free after prelims (3:54.48), rendering him out of the finals.

Unique to the 2019 edition of the Victorian Open Championships is the fact that it is incorporating the Melbourne 2019 World Para Swimming World Series. This is the first World Series event ever held in the Oceania region, which meant we saw plenty of para swimming action on day 1 as well. All events tonight were swum as multi-class races, meaning athletes from all classifications competed in the same event, with the Para-swimmer recording a time closest to their class world record crowned the winner.

Australian Paralympic gold medalists Brendan Hall and Tiffany Thomas Kane both reaped hardware to kick-off the meet, with Hall winning the men’s 400m free multi-class in a mark of 4:22.88, while Kane earned gold in the women’s SB7 50m breaststroke with a time of 43.59.

Of his performance, Hall stated post-race, “I loved being able to have some international competition in our own backyard to start the year off and it’s fantastic that Melbourne has been able to host the beginning of the Series.

“I’m surprised with the win and I know I’ll start to feel better as the weeks go on, and with some extra fine tuning, I’ll be ready for trails in six-weeks’ time. It’s always great to get some race practice so I know what’s needed to get there.”

Additional Winners:

  • New Zealand national record holder Helena Gasson took the women’s 50m fly in 27.47.
  • 17-year-old Alex Quach was the men’s 200m fly victor in 2:01.85.
  • Melbourne Vicentre’s Dan Cave won the men’s 50m breast in 28.54.
  • The women’s 400m IM saw Sophie Caldwell of Nunawading put up a convincing performance, clocking 4:46.90 to win by over 10 seconds. Her prelims time was event quicker as she produced a 4:45.75 for the top seed.
  • Sian Whittaker took the women’s 200m back in 2:12.29.
  • Tristan Hollard was the men’s 50m back winner in a mark of 26.30.
  • France’s Clair Supiot won the women’s multi-class 400m free in 5:01.61 for 803 points.
  • Keich Nakajima took the men’s multi-class 100m fly in 58.07 for 883 points.
  • The men’s multi-class 50m breast saw Kazakstani swimmer Akhmetov Anuar win in 31.61 for 710 points.
  • The women’s 100m free saw two legends finish 1-2, with Kiwi swimmer Sophie Pascoe taking the multi-class victory in 1:01.17 (987 points), while Aussie Ellie Cole finished in 1:04.39 for 846 points.


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2 years ago

That picture: exactly the reason why you don’t want to wear your goggles on your forehead right before you swim a race, if cameras are going to be involved!

SUM Ting Wong
2 years ago

These times would be good in 1979..

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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