There was a lot of build-up for 21-year old Australian backstroker Mitch Larkin heading into the 2014 Australian Short Course Championships in Adelaide this week. After breaking a National Record in the 200 back, and swimming lifetime bests in all three backstrokes, on the World Cup series, Larkin was either going to explode this week and reach a new tier of Australian swimming, or he was going to demonstrate that he’d used all of his bullets racking up cash in Asia.
The answer came early on the meet’s first day on Wednesday, and if it weren’t for success, he wouldn’t be leading this recap. In the semi-finals of the men’s 100 back, Larkin swam a 49.44 that broke the Australian Record in the 100 short course meter backstroke that had been held by Bobby Hurley in 49.92 (from last year). In the process, Larkin also broke the Commonwealth Record (which was the same), and the Australian All-Comers record as the fastest swim in Aussie waters (which Hurley held also from last year in 50.51).
He’s now just half-a-second away from Nick Thoman’s famous World Record done in 2009 in the final days of the rubber-suit era.
Larkin was great in every facet of this race. He opened up a second-and-a-half lead at the 100 meter mark, and was still faster than anybody in the field on the 3rd and 4th 25’s of the swim.
The 2nd seed behind him is Ash Delaney in 52.20, tied with Ben Treffers. The old record-holder Hurley also cruised safely into the 10-swimmer final as the 5th seed in 52.63.
While that was the headline race of the day, there were three individual event finals as well that selected swimmers for Short Course Worlds.
Australia has renewed its commitment to short course worlds, at least as a federation with many top swimmers absent in Adelaide this week. The team will take the top two swimmers in each Olympic distance from this week’s meet, presuming they make the qualifying times seen on the last page here. Assuming there’s room, and the medley relays are completed, then the 3rd and 4th best 100 and 200 freestylers go as well.
The standards are tough, but reasonable, for a country at the level of Australia to make the investment to send its athletes around the world.
For example, while the selection is made based on the A-Final, and the A-final only, Larkin is easily under it, and Treffers and Delaney are only about a second away of the 51.06 required for qualification.
Men’s 200 free – FINALS
In the first selection final of the night, Cameron McEvoy swam a 1:43.09 to take the win. It’s hard to get a good measure of splits after a timing error, but this was an incredibly tight race that had five swimmers go 1:43.8-or-better. That includes runner-up David McKeon from Chandler in 1:43.43.
Both of those swimmers were easily under the qualifying barrier, and in fact the top 6 all were. That includes Miami Swim Club’s Daniel Smith (1:43.50) and Southport’s Kurt Herzog (1:43.58), who will be in line for spots on the relay if there’s room.
Bobby Hurley took 5th in 1:43.84 and Travis Mahoney was 6th in 1:44.63.
The aggregate of the top four there comes out to a 6:53.6, which even without relay starts would have been close to medaling in 2012. With the Americans only making one change to their 800 free relay since winning this meet in 2012, they’re still the favorites, but if McEvoy has more to give in this race (and he should), the Australians could make things competitive.
Women’s 400 IM – FINALS
In the women’s 400 IM, a strong effort by Keryn McMaster, beating her seed coming into the meet by five seconds, earned a tentative spot for Doha with a 4:29.24.
Nudgee Brothers’ Ellen Fullerton kept the race very close early, and actually led after the breaststroke race by half-a-second, but the underheralded McMaster accelerated through a great last 50 of 29.8 for a win that was bigger than the race looked. Fullerton’s second-place time of 4:31.15 is also under the Doha invite standard.
Jessica Pengelly was well back in 3rd place with a 4:37.06
Women’s 200 Fly – FINALS
18-year old Brianna Throssell came into her own on Wednesday with the country’s two-best long course butterfliers (Maddy Groves and Ellen Gandy) absent from this race. Throssell swam a 2:04.73 that cruised under the required standard by two seconds. She held her pacing consistent throughout this race even without any competition to push her at the end. Her splits by 50 were:
Jordan White took 2nd in 2:08.88, which won’t qualify her for the team.
Tentative Team For Doha
Below, we’ve listed those who have hit qualifying standards, though nobody’s invitation is official until swimmers start to double-up on events.
Qualifying-standard swims, Top 2
- Cameron McEvoy, PBC: 200 free – 1:43.09
- David McKeon, Chandler: 200 free – 1:43.43
- Brianna Throssell, Perth City: 200 fly – 2:04.73
- Keryn McMaster, Waterworx: 400 IM – 4:29.24
- Ellen Fullerton, Nudgee Brothers: 400 IM – 4:31.15
Potential Relay swimmers, if there’s room
- Daniel Smith, Miami: 200 free – 1:43.50
- Kurt Herzog, Southport: 200 free – 1:43.58
Semi-Finals & Relays
- In the women’s 50 breaststroke, Leighton Pickett won in 30.21 – but by a slim margin. The top 7 swimmers were all 31.00-or-better, including St. Peters’ Georgia Bohl in 30.32 and veteran Sally Hunter, coming off of a successful World Cup tour, in 30.55. Among the new names who could contend for a spot include Rebecca Ryan, 6th in the semis in 30.74, and Libby Forbes, 7th in 31.00. This is not a Worlds qualifying race.
- With Christian Sprenger still ailing from the back injury that kept him out of Pan Pacs, Australia desperately needs someone to step up in that group on the men’s side, where they are very thin as compared to the women. At Pan Pacs, that swimmers was Jake Packard, and he’s doing so again so far on Wednesday with a 58.07 to be the top qualifier into finals. He’s the only swimmer so far under the qualifying standard (58.35), with Tommy Sucipto (58.85) being the closest to getting there thus far.
- The women’s 100 backstroke final has turned into one of the more exciting races we’ll see early in this meet after 20-year old Madison Wilson swam a 56.75 to be the top qualifier. That’s just .17 seconds away from Emily Seebohm‘s National Record; Seebohm currently sits 2nd in 57.36. A third swimmer, Hayley Baker, was under the qualifying standard in 57.54, and Holly Barratt is lurking in the final as well (58.88 in semis).
- Jayden Hadler swam a 50.93 in the semi-finals of the men’s 100 fly for a tentative top-qualifying spot. There’s an opportunity for someone to sneak up and steal this race, which is the only of the session that wasn’t faster than the qualifying standard. Tommasso D’Orsogna is the 2nd qualifier through in 51.07, and last year’s champion Nathaniel Romeo is 3rd in 51.40. Combined with late-blooming 28-year old Mitchell Patterson and Daniel Lester, tied for 4th in 52.58, and a total of 8 swimmers under 51.8, this is a wide-open final.
- Most of the big names didn’t go after the 400 free relay, but Sydney University and the always-ready Abood brothers did, winning in 3:13.39 ahead of prodigy Kyle Chalmers’ Marion Swim Club relay. Older brother Matthew Abood just pipped Chalmers for the fastest split of the day with a 47.09 to 47.16 difference, both coming on anchors.
- The women’s 200 free relay was won by St. Peters in 7:52.90, which set the Australian Club and All-Comers’ relay records. There were a lot of good names who showed up for this event, though in many cases it appeared at less-than-full-effort from the stars. Brittany Elmslie couldn’t be accused of that, however, leading off the winning relay in 1:54.72.