On Saturday at the 2012 Australian National Championships and Olympic Trials, At least one legend earned a ticket to London – Leisel Jones. Much of the rest of the of the events were won by the young stars of Australia who, despite the notable returns of long-time veterans, will make up the bulk of this Olympic squad.
Men’s 200 Free – Final
Thomas Fraser-Holmes took his 2nd National Title of this meet with a 1:46.88 win in the men’s 200 free. That confirms at least a 2nd-and-3rd swim for him in London, and moves him to 5th in the world this year. His drop in this race wasn’t as significant as his 400 free was, but in his two races thus far (200 free/400 IM) Fraser-Holmes will give the Australians a medal contender in races where they didn’t have finalists in the 2008 Olympics.
Kenrick Monk completed a successful comeback from an elbow injury to nap the 2nd Olympic entry in 1:47.16. He closed the race very well, and if he can add in a faster first 50 (like he had pre-injury), then he could very well be a finalist as well.
Making up the rest of the relay will be at the least David McKeon in 1:47.55; Ned McKendry in 1:47.61, and at the coaches’ discretion Ryan Napoleon in 1:47.66 and Cameron McEvoy in 1:47.79. This race was very tightly-packed, and Napoleon, after leading the first two rounds of races, was disappointed to only come in as a relay alternate. Had he gone his time from the semis, then he would’ve been automatically on the top 4.
It’s likely still that Napoleon and McEvoy will get prelims swims – four 1:47’s easily finals in this race, so it will give the Aussies a chance to rest Fraser-Holmes and McKeon, who have some long races early in this meet.
And in case you missed it, Ian Thorpe swam well, but was knocked out in Friday’s prelims.
Women’s 100 Breaststroke – Finals
With Ashley Callus retiring just a few weeks shy of these Olympic Trials, that left Leisel Jones as the contender to make her 4th Olympic team and become the first Australian to do so. It wasn’t a cake-walk, but Jones did just that when she finished 2nd in this 100 breaststroke in 1:07.64. The defending champion was in a dead-heat with Sarah Katsoulis at the turn, but was able to sneak away to earn a shot at defending her Olympic Championship in this race, while Katsoulis finished 3rd in 2:08.11.
But the winner was Southport youngster Leiston Pickett in 1:06.88. Pickett is exclusively a sprint-breaststroker (she’s not entered in the 200 even on a lark), and this was really her only chance at making this team.
Women’s 100 Backstroke – Finals
This women’s 100 back final was closer than it was supposed to be, but ultimately the country’s best backstroker Emily Seebohm slow-played perfectly through the first two roudns before bursting to the win in this final in 59.28. That shaves a few hundreths off of her previous season-best, and improves her number-one World Ranking in the event.
The only other swimmer to break a minute was Belinda Hocking, who was also the only swimmer to do so in three races at this meet. She finished 2nd to earn an Olympic spot in 59.41, though she was a hair faster (59.39) in the semis. The Australians will likely give Hocking a prelims swim on the medley relay as a result of her repeated strong performances in this individual race.
Men’s 100 Backstroke – Finals
In what was sort of a lackluster final as compared to the ones before it (this was the last individual final of the night), Hayden Stoeckel crawled his way to a National Title in 53.98. That’s two-tenths slower than he was in the semi-finals, and re-establishes this backstroke as the big weak spot of the Australian medley that was 2nd at last year’s World Championships. Had Stoeckel led off even in anything under 54, it would have been them, not the Americans, that took the title.
Daniel Arnamnart upset last year’s prelims backstroker Ben Treffers with a 54.05. Treffers went for 3rd in 54.16.
Men’s 200 Fly – Semi’s
Through two rounds, Nick D’Arcy is the only Australian who has submerged the Olympic A time thus far, and he took the top seed headed to Sunday’s final in 1:56.56. That puts him in the top 10 in the world this year, but look for a 1:55 from him in the final.
Christopher Wright has the 2nd seed going towards finals (1:57.36), but will have to drop exactly half-a-second to make the Olympic Team (and hold off 20-year old Grant Irvine who was 3rd in 1:57.96).
Women’s 200 IM – Semi’s
Shoulder be darned, Stephanie Rice is determined to sweep cleanly her three individual events at this meet. She took the top seed in the 200 IM in 2:12.65. Still, that position is tentative at best – she was two seconds faster in the semi’s of this race at last year’s meet. She is being chased by Emily Seebohm (2:13.00) and Alicia Coutts (2:13.86). Rice qualified in this race for Worlds, but that was without Seebohm entered – and Seebohm is ranked 2nd in the world and swimming well at this meet. It will take at least 2:10’s to make it, and it’s not clear if Rice can do that. If she does get top two though, it will have to be done on the breaststroke leg, where she has a clear advantage over both competitors.
16-year old Taylor McKeown was the 4th seed in 2:14.81. She could become a part of this battle by the 2013 World Championships, but as of now the field is too stacked.
Surprisingly not entered in this race was Blair Evans. She’s already earned a spot on the Olympic Team in the 400 IM, and ranks 6th in the World in the 200 IM, but it seems has saved her effort for a qualifying spot on the 800 free relay.
Women’s 200 Free – Semi’s
This might be the deepest race of the women’s team, especially based on how fast this race became at last year’s World Championship qualifying meet. There were no spectacular races yet, but these semi’s swims were certainly much faster than prelims. Bronte Barratt will take the center lane, with a 1:56.88, and Stephanie Rice is second in 1:57.57 (this race came first in the semi’s, but will come after the 200 IM in Sunday’s finals). All of the swimmers who needed to made this final successfully, including Evans, Melanie Schlanger, and a 4th seed for Brittany Elmslie. Elmslie, you will recall, finished 4th earlier in this meet in the 100 fly, and it would be great for Australia to get the future-star onto this Olympic squad in some form-or-fashion just for the experience, even if it’s in a preliminary race.