2021 Australian Swimming Championships
- Wednesday, April 14 – Sunday, April 18, 2021
- Southport, Queensland
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The 2021 Australian Swimming Championships will get underway this week in Southport, Queensland from Wednesday, April 14 until Sunday, April 18. While not Australia’s Olympic Trials event (that will be a one-shot meet in June), this week’s National Championship event will serve as one of the last times we’ll see Australia’s top swimmers compete all in the same pool until the upcoming 2021 Australian Olympic Trials which is set to take place from June 12 – June 17. 2021.
Despite the fact that spots on the Olympic team won’t be on the line, we can still expect some fast racing to go down as the meet will feature most of the country’s top swimmers and Olympic hopefuls.
Considering the morning finals and night-time prelims format set to take place in Tokyo, Swimming Australia has elected to do the same for this meet to give athletes a chance to prepare for the format. The meet will run with the following schedule:
|2021 Australian Swimming Championships|
|Session||Start Time / Date (Australia)||Start Time / Date (EST)|
|Prelims 1||6:00 PM||Wednesday, April 14||4:00 AM||Wednesday, April 14|
|Finals 1||10:00 AM||Thursday, April 15||8:00 PM||Wednesday, April 14|
|Prelims 2||6:00 PM||Thursday, April 15||4:00 AM||Thursday, April 15|
|Finals 2||10:00 AM||Friday, April 16||8:00 PM||Thursday, April 15|
|Prelims 3||6:00 PM||Friday, April 16||4:00 AM||Friday, April 16|
|Finals 3||10:00 AM||Saturday, April 17||8:00 PM||Friday, April 16|
|Prelims 4||6:00 PM||Saturday, April 17||4:00 AM||Saturday, April 17|
|Finals 4||10:00 AM||Sunday, April 18||8:00 PM||Saturday, April 17|
Among those who will be present in Southport this week is multi-Australian record holder and 200 backstroke world record holder Kaylee McKeown. McKeown had an outstanding 2020 performance, establishing new Australian records in the long course 100 (57.93) and 200 (2:04.49) backstrokes, as well as a new world record in the short course 200 back (1:58.94) and Australian record in the 200 IM (2:03.68).
McKeown is entered this week to swim the 50 and 100 backstroke, along with the 200 IM and the 200 free. Despite being entered as top seed in the 100 back with her NR of 57.83, McKeown will be met by short-course world record holder Minna Atherton as second seed as well as seasoned veteran and Olympian Emily Seebohm who is third seed.
Another event battle brewing for this week is the women’s 200 meter freestyle in which Ariarne Titmus and Emma McKeon are separated by less than half a second. Titmus will enter as top seed in the event with her national record of 1:54.27 while Emma McKeon is second seed in a 1:54.55. As Titmus and McKeon go head-to-head a solid contingent will look to infiltrate the top two in the form of Madi Wilson, Brianna Throssell, Leah Neale, and Lani Pallister, among others.
While Titmus and McKeon lead the field in the 200 on day 1, we’ll see the Campbell sisters enter the conversation in the sprint freestyles later on in the week. Cate Campbell is top seed in both the 50 and 100 freestyles with her 2018 swims of 23.78 and 52.03, respectively. Behind Cate Campbell in the 50, sister Bronte Campbell and McKeon each come in with a 24.17 seed time, setting up a solid race.
In the 100 on the other hand, Emma McKeon is entered as second seed with a 51.41 behind Cate Campbell‘s 52.12 while Bronte Campbell is third in a 52.84. While he can’t be sure exactly how close to their best times they will be, the possibility of having 3 sub-53 swims in the 100 free final is an exciting prospect.
Looking at the women’s 100 breaststroke, we’ll get a preview of the battle for the Olympic spots in the event as Jessica Hansen, Chelsea Hodges, and Abbey Harkin are entered with just 0.11 seconds separating them. Hansen and Hodges are tied for top seed with a 1:06.91 and Harkin just barely trails the two with a 1:07.02.
That trio represents the three fastest Australian women in the event since the beginning of 2019 but another trio entered as 4th-6th seeds will be looking to make their case in the event. 2019 World Champs semi-finalist in the 200 breast Jenna Strauch, Commonwealth Champ in the 50 breast Leiston Pickett, and 2016 Olympian in the 100 breast Georgia Bohl all boast sub-1:08 entry times of 1:07.41, 1:07.61, and 1:07.94, respectively.
In the men’s breaststroke, former world record holder and 2019 bronze medalist in the 200 breast Matthew Wilson has a shot to get himself into the top 5 rankings this season in the event. Wilson held the world record in the 200 breast for one day in 2019 when he hit a 2:06.67 to tie Ippei Watanabe‘s 2017 WR during the semi-finals at World Championships. The next day, however, Anton Chupkov lowered the mark to a 2:06.12.
Wilson will likely race at his first-ever Olympics this summer and is entered as top seed not only in the 200 breast this week but also in the 100. While his 2:06.67 gives him a decent lead over second seed Zac Stubblety-Cook in the 200, the 100 will likely make for a closer race. Wilson enters with a 59.17 as one of three entrant with a sub-minute time as Stubblety-Cook has a 59.83 and Jake Packard a 59.89.
Another much-anticipated showdown will be the men’s 100 freestyle in which a whole 7 swimmers are entered with a time faster than 49.00. Leading the pack in terms of entry times is 2016 Olympic champion in the event Kyle Chalmers with a 47.08. Behind him, Clyde Lewis (48.45) and Jack Cartwright (48.58) will be second and third seed while current Australian record holder in the event Cam McEvoy goes in with a 48.66 compared to his 2016 NR of 47.04.
There will be no shortage of heated battles in Southport this week, another one of which being the men’s 400 freestyle. 2016 Olympic Champion Mack Horton currently holds a PB of 3:41.55 in the event but hasn’t been quicker than a 3:43.17 in the event since he swam the event at World Championships in 2019. That 3:43.17 leaves him with a seed time within less than a second of Elijah Winnington‘s PB and entry time of 3:43.90 for second seed. While those two constitute the top 2 seeds heading into the meet, Jack McLoughlin and Thomas Neill are both entered with times under the FINA A standard of 3:46.78 meaning that it could end up being anyone’s race this week and at Trials in a few months.
One notable competitor this week will be Cody Simpson who is entered in the 50/100 butterfly, as well as the 100 freestyle. Simpson is widely known for being a pop star but has transitioned to having a greater focus on swimming. He is qualified to swim at the upcoming Olympic Trials in the 100 fly and has posted the 10th fastest time this season with a 53.85.
With too many star-studded events to mention for this coming week, make sure to check in regularly here at SwimSwam for daily recaps of both prelims and finals session of the 2021 Australian Swimming Championships.