The Commonwealth Games kicked off this morning in Glasgow, Scotland, and it was very clear that these athletes wanted to hold nothing back as their prelim times were absolutely fantastic.
All the links you need to follow the meet, including television information, can be found here.
WOMENS 400 IM
Starting the meet off was Hannah Miley representing the host nation Scotland in the women’s 400m IM. Miley went in as the clear favorite and after her performance this morning there’s no doubt that she’ll be a major factor tonight in the final. Miley broke her own Commonwealth Games record to qualify for finals in 4:38.83, and is the defending champion in the race. Expect her to be a lot faster tonight as she’s already been a 4:33.25 earlier this year.
The rest of the field wasn’t far behind, and a few of them do have the capacity to get as low as Miley can.
Qualifying second in the women’s 400m IM was Aimee Willmott of England in 4:39.50. Willmott is the primary swimmer with the potential to beat Miley tonight; both won their respective heats, and both have already been 4:33’s this year.
Don’t count out Canadians Emily Overholt and Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson as well who qualified third and fifth respectively. The two posted some great times in prelims and were able to keep up with world leaders in their heats. Australian Keryn McMaster finished in between them, placing fourth in 4:40.11. The final will take place tonight.
MENS 400 FREESTYLE
David McKeon from Australia has set himself up perfectly for a great race tonight in the men’s 400m freestyle after taking the top seed in prelims with a 3:45.23. That time was well ahead of the rest of the field that included some top notch swimmers such as Canadian Ryan Cochrane who finished second in the same heat as McKeon to take the second overall seed in 3:46.62.
Throw in the likes of Stephan Milne, Dan Wallace, Robbie Renwick, and James Guy and this is a deep final to open up men’s competition in Glasgow. McKeon will have the confidence after beating Cochrane in the heats, but both been under 3:45 in their careers so it is possible it will take under 3:45 to win tonight here in Glasgow.
WOMENS 200 FREESTYLE
Just like her brother, Emma McKeon took the top seed in her freestyle event and even set a Commonwealth Games record of 1:56.57. England’s Siobhan-Marie O’Connor set the Commonwealth Games record of 1:56.58 a heat ahead of McKeon, but McKeon surged to beat the brand new record by just one one-hundredth of a second.
Qualifying in third was Lauren Boyle from New Zealand in 1:56.82. The three swimmers really emerged as clear leaders after the prelims session by separating themselves form the rest of the field. Also in the finals as the 5th seed will be Canadian Brittany MacLean who demonstrated her freestyle skills at the NCAA Championships this year for Georgia. She clocked in at 1:57.75 this morning well behind the leaders, but should be a major factor tonight.
Boyle, MacLean, and Jazz Carlin, the 4th seed, are all a bit stronger in the longer events than the two leaders, so if they can maintain contact into the final turn, they’ll have a chance.
South Africa’s Karin Prinsloo took the 6th seed in 1:58.38 – right around a best time for the swimmer who’s had a fantastic season so far, with Sam Cheverton (1:58.61) and Bronte Barratt (1:58.71) holding off the home-team Caitlin McClatchey (1:59.04) for the the 7th and 8th seeds.
WOMENS 50 BREASTSTROKE
The women’s 50m breaststroke was all about English swimmer Sophie Taylor as she set a new British Record of 30.56 to win her heat. That knocked .01 seconds off of Zoe Baker’s old record of 20.57 set back in 2002: the oldest British Long Course Record on the books. Despite the record, she’ll be heading into finals as the second seed thanks to Jamaican breaststroke sprinter Alia Atkinson. Atkinson took the top seed in 30.49.
Atkinson didn’t have a great meet at Worlds in 2013, but in the 12 months since has been on-fire in both short course and long course. Aside from the upstart Taylor, most of the strength in Commonwealth breaststroking is in the longer distances at present, but the emergence of the 18-year old Taylor this season gives Atkinson a bigger-than-expected challenge.
Corrie Scott from Scotland qualified third in 30.64 to keep up with the two leaders. Fourth seed Leiston Pickett from Australia was also with them posting a 30.70. The Scots, English, and Australians all qualified two swimmers to the semi-finals, the Scots actually doing one better and qualifying three.
MENS 50 BUTTERFLY
Ben Proud from England took the top seed in the men’s 50m fly over Joseph Schooling and fly star Chad Le Clos. Proud was a 23.17 to the 23.43 Schooling was and the 23.65 that Le Clos was. Throw Jason Dunford and Roland Schoemann into the race and this could shape up to be a fantastic 50m fly final. The semis will show who’s going to really establish themselves as the leader as right now Proud has posted a great time, but Schooling and Le Clos aren’t that far off.
MENS 100 BACKSTROKE
Another Commonwealth Games record fell this morning, and this time it was English swimmer Chris Walker-Hebborn in the men’s 100m backstroke. Walker-Hebborn was a 53.30 in the heats to establish himself as the clear leader heading into tonight’s semifinal.
Walker-Hebborn was followed by three Australians as well as 50m backstroke world record holder and defending Commonwealth Games 100m backstroke champion, countryman Liam Tancock. The five of them were all within range of each other, just being separated by a little over a second. Tonight’s semifinal should really establish a leader; as of now that would be Walker-Hebborn, but with the likes of Mitchell Larkin and Joshua Beaver from Australia that could change very quickly.
WOMENS 100 BUTTERFLY
Expectedly, Alicia Coutts from Australia took the top seed in the women’s 100m fly this morning with a swift 57.93 to approach the current Commonwealth Games record. Seeded second at the moment is Katerine Savard in Canada with a 58.13 swim. Behind Savard is English swimmer Siobhan-Marie O’Connor who also had a great 200m freestyle this morning as part of a very tough double.
Emma McKeon, who was also in the 200 free, from Australia qualified in sixth in 58.83. The semifinals will take place tonight, with finals coming on Friday. Also through to the semis is Singapore’s Tao Li, a former Olympic finalist, in 59.22.
MENS 200 BREASTSTROKE
In the last individual event of this morning a fourth Commonwealth Games record fell in the men’s 200m breaststroke, surprisingly at the hands of Scottish swimmer Ross Murdoch. Ross Murdoch swam in the third and final heat beside none other than favorite Michael Jamieson, but was able to pull away from him after the halfway mark. Murdoch ended up finishing the race in 2:08.78, and visibly was barely able to contain his excitement after the impressive time. Behind him was Jamieson in 2:10.17.
Jamieson will now have a challenge to fire back in finals; as the Olympic silver medalist in 2012 in this event, he’s one of the stars of the Scottish team – a torch that Murdoch would love to share. Murdoch’s prelims swim leaves him at 5th-best in the world in 2014 (where he already ranked), but Jamieson has been a full second faster in 2014 and remains the world leader.
Christian Sprenger from Australia just squeaked into the men’s 200m breaststroke final with a 2:11.96 for the 8th seed, but should be a major factor tonight. He’s fully turned his career toward the sprint breaststrokes in the last four years, but was once the world’s best 200 breaststroker as well. Neither he or Jamieson were fully on point this morning, but should be the two best bets to challenge Murdoch in tonight’s final.
WOMENS 400 FREE RELAY
Not unexpectedly, the Australian women already looked dominant in prelims of the women’s 400 free relay, putting in a 3:34.57 to to take the top seed by more than 6 seconds. The splits were equally as impressive as the final result, with Melanie Schlanger looking fully recovered from an injury-filled year, splitting a 52.47 on the anchor leg. She was joined in the heats by Alicia Coutts (53.51), Brit Elmslie (53.82), and Maddy Groves (54.77) on the leadoff.
That was already a new Commonwealth Games Record, and they didn’t even use the world’s best sprinter Cate Campbell – who should improve the time by another two seconds on her own in finals, at least. They’re just about a second off of the World Record, which if Schlanger can repeat that splits, means that it’s easily within their sights in finals.
England, in the same heat, is the 2nd seed in 3:40.88, including a 54.5 from Becki Turner on their second leg. Canada sits 3rd in 3:41.40, followed by New Zealand (3:45.32) and Scotland (3:45.79).
There was little pressure on the major nations to make this final with only 11 entries, but South Africa still managed to earn a DQ in the heats. That means in the finals will be:
- New Zealand
- Northern Ireland
With Papua New Guinea and Fiji the two countries missing out.