Key Takeaways From The 2018 Commonwealth Games

With the 2018 Commonwealth Games wrapped up, we thought we’d take a closer look at some of the big things that happened throughout the six days, and what they could mean with the 2020 Olympics on the horizon.

Taylor Ruck: Where Her Performances Put Her Worldwide

17-year-old Canadian Taylor Ruck has shown flashes of brilliance throughout her young career, but the Commonwealth Games were her big coming out party. After disappointing swims at both the 2016 Olympic and 2017 World Trials, missing the Canadian team (though she was added as a relay swimmer for Rio, winning two medals), 2019 is shaping up to be her first crack at individual hardware on the big international stage (meaning Olympics or World Championships).

She wowed at the Commonwealth Games, tying the all-time record with eight medals. But where do these performances put her, on say, the World Championship stage? Could she bring in a big medal haul there? Or the Olympics? Based on her performances in Australia, it appears the answer is yes.

Two of Ruck’s five individual swims from the Commonwealth Games would have medaled at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest, with her 1:54.81 200 free sitting 2nd and her 2:06.42 200 back 3rd. Along with that, her 50 free would’ve been 5th, 100 back 6th, and 100 free 7th. And though none are a sure thing, the Canadian relays will be competitive enough to challenge for a medal in all three.

There are several factors we have to take into account while looking at these statistics, including the fact that both Bronte Campbell (100 free) and Kylie Masse (200 back) both beat her at the Commonwealth Games, but were slower than her times at World’s last year. In the 50 and 100 free, we also have to remember that Cate Campbell was absent at the World Championships. How she’s impacted by scheduling, along with the burden of potentially having to add in relay prelims (plus the mixed events) to her lineup remains to be seen, but without a doubt, she’s got the ability to bring in a big medal haul.

Mitch Larkin: International Prospects In 200 IM

Australian Mitch Larkin has dabbled in the medley events over the course of his career, but this year is the first time he’s tackled it seriously. Despite dropping the 400 IM from his Commonwealth schedule after winning it at Aussie Trials, he did go on to win the 200 IM title in a time of 1:57.67. Winning the Commonwealth gold medal is a big accomplishment, especially on home soil, but is this an event he can be competitive in on the world stage?

Last year at the World Championships it took a 1:57.81 to final. The 8th place time in the final was a bit quicker, at 1:57.50, and the bronze medal was won in 1:56.28. Given his time done at the end of a long program, he’s absolutely competitive worldwide. But will he pursue it?

Assuming schedules remain the same, he would run into the classic Ryan Lochte dilemma at the Olympics, with the 200 back and 200 IM semis and finals landing on the same session. At the World Championships, it’s not as big of an issue, with the 200 IM final and 200 back semis coming on the same night.

Being the 2015 world champ and 2016 Olympic silver medalist in the 200 back, there’s no question which is his priority, and perhaps the medley was just a fun experiment to throw in with relatively weak competition at the Commonwealth Games. But, perhaps, he’ll pursue it another year, and see what he can do at the 2019 World Championships.

Can Anyone Stop The Aussie Women In The 400 Free Relay?

After breaking the world record on the opening night of competition, the Australian women are the clear favorites heading into 2020 in the 400 free relay. Even with Shayna Jack a bit off her best form, Cate Campbell‘s 51.00, along with 52-splits from Bronte Campbell and Emma McKeon carried them to the fastest time in history. Not to mention, Bronte split nearly four tenths faster anchoring the medley relay on day 6. Is there anyone who can challenge them over the next two years?

Without Cate in Budapest, the Aussies finished as the runners-up to the United States, swimming almost two seconds slower than they did on the Gold Coast. The Americans, who won in 3:31.72, would likely need four surefire 52-second splits to combat the Australians, and only have two for the time being, with Simone Manuel and Mallory Comerford. The next best, the Dutch and Canadians, don’t have that type of firepower either.

The Aussies and Americans will go head-to-head this summer at the Pan Pacs (though the Aussies won’t have Bronte), which will give us a better idea of where the Americans are with two years until Tokyo. But for now, the Australians look unbeatable.

Titmus Looks Like World’s #2 Female Distance Swimmer

Ruck wasn’t the only 17-year-old who impressed at the Games, as Australian Ariarne Titmus had some standout performances, finishing with three gold and one silver medal. After earning valuable experience both here and at last summer’s Worlds, she appears ready for primetime.

Her swims in the 200 and 400 free were very impressive, as both swims would’ve won silver at last summer’s Worlds (though she lost to Ruck in the 200 here). Those swims were also big best times, and though the 800 was only a best by a few hundredths, it still would’ve put her 4th in Budapest.

We got a glimpse of her capabilities last summer, placing 4th in the 400, but she now looks to be ready to challenge for a medal in all three distances, and may just be the best in the world across all three besides Katie Ledecky.

Adam Peaty: Looking For Rebound At Euros

Despite winning a gold medal and two silvers, England’s Adam Peaty was clearly not on his best form at the Commonwealth Games. He won the 100 breast finishing well off his world record in 58.84, and suffered a rare loss to South African Cameron van der Burgh in the 50 breast.

Many jumped to the conclusion that Peaty didn’t fully taper for the Games, and was looking ahead to the European Championships. However, the 23-year-old revealed that is not the case. “I expected to perform here, because I had a long taper but for some reason that back end isn’t performing as it should (in the 100)“, he told the Daily Telegraph.

Despite the setback, the loss may be just what he needs to reignite his fire. More than anything, it looks just to be a missed taper, and we should expect him back on top form at Euros, which take place in Scotland in August.  “It gives me a reality check. Even if you are the best in the world, world record holder, you can still be beaten. I think that’s the most valuable lesson from today. “In April I’m never this fast so I’ll take it as a positive and move on to the Europeans.”

As for van der Burgh, the two-time Olympic medalist showed he isn’t on the way out, winning the 50 and taking bronze in the 100. After scratching the 100 at the World Championships last year, it looked like he may just focus on the 50 for the rest of his career, but he proved he’s still a major player in both distances.


As a whole there were eleven events at the Commonwealth Games that elicited the fastest time in the world for the 2017-18 season. The majority of events that didn’t have the fastest time of the year done here were done at either Japanese or Chinese Nationals. Take a look at the eleven events below:

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Steve Nolan

But for now, the Australians look unbeatable (in the 400 free relay)


*takes breath*


Come on y’all, we’ve been here before. They for sure have the fastest 4 swimmers, but I mean…not really the history to win the big one. “Favorites” is one thing, “unbeatable” is another.


From the article:

They are the world record holders, they won Olympics golds in Athens, London, and Rio. Those are the big one.


*takes breath*



Actually the only race of highest quality was W4x100FR relay. Campbell sisters may not hold world records in individual event but what they did in this relay will keep their names in records book for long time. 3:30 means 4 swimmers with 52.5 average splits.


Cate Campbell holds 100 SCM WR, doesn’t she?


You know better …


The Aussies are way ahead in the 400 free relay at the moment, have to agree with you there. They are also a veteran team (aside from Shayna Jack), without a lot of young blood coming in, or a great deal of depth really. With Bronte out now for a period it will be interesting to see if this group can ever be as strong as they are right now. The Americans always have depth beyond the top two or three best sprinters – and as you mentioned they already have a couple big names at the top. They’ll be pretty hard to beat in 2020, but that’s what makes it all very exciting for the fans.


I don’t really agree. The US without either Manuel or Comerford would be similarly disadvantaged as Australia missing C1 or C2. If you have a look at the best times in the past 12 months in the FINA rankings you’ll see that the spread of the top 10 swimmers from both countries is pretty similar despite Australia having a fraction of the population.


Whilst I am an Aussie (or at least a part one), I do agree with Matterson with regards the longer term of this AUS W4X100. Whilst its likely C2 will return post shoulder op, there is always an aspect of doubt as to whether a competitor will return to their previous levels ….. I certainly hope she does. However, the balance of power post Tokyo is almost certainly swing towards a USA/CAN contest. The odds are heavily stacked towards both Campbells retiring and a fairly high likelihood that McKeon may also leave. This leaves only Jack as an intl class sprinter and the only other high 53/low 54 from AUS are also fairly advanced in age. At this point there… Read more »


That’s not to mention the Canadian team smashed the world junior record in that relay by more than 3 seconds last summer, and with Penny not even swimming as fast as at the World Championships the month before (apparently she went to Kenya for two weeks in-between those events with her parents for some sort of mission trip). At the rate that Taylor Ruck and Kayla Sanchez is developing, they’ll be a huge threat for years to come. Especially if and when Penny gets back into form (she’s had a rough year and a half with injuries and her grandmother dying the day before Commonwealth swimming began). Whether Australia can keep up/ahead of USA and Canada or not, it’s possible… Read more »


CW you are a bit of a prophet of doom with your, “end of the line” comment. Currently there is a large crop of young wanabe Aus female sprinters and in their heads (and their coaches) is the thought that they have to swim a 53 mid just to make the relay team. C1,C2 and EM may retire after after 2020 but new inspired talent will emerge just as they are emerging in the male 100 free space.


I agree with this. From an outsider’s perspective the Aussies always seem to produce really good sprinters at an early age so wouldn’t be surprised if some talented teens pop up in the next couple of years.


Not setting out to be a prophet of doom but just cognizant of the reality that strength in particular strokes/events for most countries outside USA (and even USA at times) tends to run in cycles. You may have a generation of quality performers/even world beaters in a particular stroke who will deliver results/medals over a couple of Olympic cycles and occaisionally this may flow on to a following generation but then rarely if ever do we see “production line” generation after generation of outstanding performers in the same event. More often you may see a string of high level performers then the event go “fallow” for a while until the cycle ticks round again. M1500 was a case in point.… Read more »


I guess some thought Australia’s run in the 4x100free was coming to an end when Jodie Henry or Lisbeth Linton were reaching the end of their careers, but then along came young swimmers like Cate Campbell.


Yeah, Canada has more upside whereas Australia is depending on 2 veterans to carry them.


Australia only won two medals at the World Juniors last year (both bronze), and one of those was only after the USA men’s team got disqualified last month. It’s hard not to think of that as a troubling sign.


I wouldn’t say the World Junior Championships are the definitive yardstick for the state of junior swimming in a given country. I think good results there can indeed augur well but I don’t necessarily believe the reverse is true if traditionally strong teams have a tepid meet performance. Firstly, many countries do not always send their top junior talent (Taylor McKeown along with several others didn’t compete last year). Ryan Murphy, Kevin Cordes, and several other Americans that were great junior level swimmers have never competed at a World Junior Champs. Also young swimmers that become world beaters or internationally competitive young may or may not compete there. Ruta competed there. Ledecky didn’t. Last year Canada sent out their big… Read more »

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James formerly competed for the Laurentian Voyageurs in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in February of 2018, placing 11th at the OUA Championships in the 200 IM, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics in May. He …

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