The Australian Women Stand Alone Atop the 800 Freestyle Relay

When a current world record holder breaks their own WR and still doesn’t win, there is some serious talent in the pool. At the Australian Trials two weeks ago, Mollie O’Callaghan touched second in the women’s 200 freestyle in a time that was under her 1:52.85 world record in 1:52.48, but it still fell just shy of Ariarne Titmus, who set a new benchmark of 1:52.23.

Rounding out the top four at Trials and making up the likely 800 free relay relay in Paris are Lani Pallister and Brianna Throssell, who touched at 1:55.57 and 1:55.74, respectively. Without accounting for relay takeovers, their 800 free relay in Paris would look like this:

  • Titmus – 1:52.23
  • O’Callaghan – 1:52.48
  • Pallister – 1:55.57
  • Throssell – 1:55.74
  • Total – 7:36.02*

Paris Preview

The current world record stands at 7:37.50, set by the Australian team last summer at the World Championships in Fukuoka. When the record was set, Shayna Jack was on the team instead of Pallister and she will also be traveling to Paris with Australia. Depending on how they want to structure the prelim and evening relays the names are subject to change but with two more 1:56-lows supporting the team, they don’t lack depth.

Coming out of the 2023 World Trials, the add-up of the four that would go on to set the record in Fukuoka would have been 7:41.66. Knowing they then went on to crush that by over four seconds as Titmus dropped the fastest split in history (1:52.41), the questions this summer become:

  1. How far can they lower their own record?
  2. Will Titmus and/or O’Callaghan become the first to break the 1:52 mark (from a takeover…or not)?

To put this relay in perspective, no other relay team has ever broken the 7:40 mark in the 800 free relay. The closest team was the gold medal relay from China at the Tokyo Olympics at 7:40.33. This team will be returning their swimmers in Paris this summer, but the Australian team is in a league of their own for this relay.

Based on the results of the Chinese and Canadian Trials, the Australian team is looking at an eight-second buffer heading into the Olympics. While the United States is still in the mix after Trials, there is a massive amount of ground to be made up for all these teams as they chase Australia’s heels. Based on the times posted so far this year, it’s unlikely any other team will break 7:40.

Country Australia China United States Canada
Leg 1 1:52.23 1:54.37 1:55.22 1:53.69
Leg 2 1:52.48 1:56.29 1:56.18 1:55.44
Leg 3 1:55.57 1:56.56 1:56.36 1:57.60
Leg 4 1:55.74 1:56.85 1:56.75 1:57.86
Total Time 7:36.02 7:44.07 7:44.51 7:44.59

At the Tokyo Olympics, there was less than one second separating the top three finishers as China, the United States, and Australia battled tooth and nail for podium spots.

While we won’t know for sure until the Paris Games this summer, it is shaping up to be a race for silver as Australia seeks to smash its mind-boggling world record.

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Fraser Thorpe
25 days ago

It’s literally like having Thorpe and VDHB on the same team circa 2000/2001. It’s such a streaky piece of luck,

Deez
25 days ago

Notice how the actual good Australian swimmers aren’t the ones running their mouth

Robbos
Reply to  Deez
25 days ago

Whos running their mouth?

Coachd
Reply to  Deez
24 days ago

Getting riled up over a multi-time medalist’s comments from… 2023?

Aussie Crawl
25 days ago

If I was the coaches I would book end the two fastest swimmers.
O’Callaghan, Pallister, Throssell,
And Titmus. 💪💪🇦🇺🇦🇺
That would break the cowbell in 1/2
Aye

Nick the biased Aussie
25 days ago

I’d love to see them front end the relay with MOC and Titmus. The lead would be huge.

mS424
Reply to  Nick the biased Aussie
25 days ago

It would be massive. Like over 7 seconds or something like that. That’s crazy…but they’ll probably lead off with Mollie and anchor with Titmus. I’m predicting they go a 7.33 or close to that mark.

Greg
Reply to  mS424
25 days ago

IMO, this is the order that gives the USA any chance coupled with strong closers / chasers at 3 & 4. Any underperformance by the Australians at 1 & 2, if they go MOC and AT at 1 & 2 and if the USA puts closers on the back half ((KT, PM, etc) is the only way Australia loses this relay.

I was taught this order for the 800 F.R.: second fastest first, fourth fastest second, a non-fader / back-halfer third and the hammer 4th.

IMM, both the 400 F.R. and 800 F.R. are the Australians to lose. But you never know 🤷‍♂️🙏🤞

Greg
Reply to  Greg
25 days ago

Meant to be a response to Nick’s suggested order, not mS424’s.

Nick the biased Aussie
Reply to  Greg
25 days ago

The good thing is all the aussie women are non-fader/back-halfers

Troyy
Reply to  Nick the biased Aussie
25 days ago

The opposite would be fun too

Genevieve Nnaji
Reply to  Troyy
25 days ago

I would watch this. It would be so much fun.

Kevin
26 days ago

So I tried another method of showing how much of an advantage Australia has in this event. Since this is a US dominated site (myself included) I only did the exercise for the US quartet.

Using https://results.swimming.org.au/portal/ I got the 5th best times for all the Australian women.

5th best time
Titmus – 1:53.50
O’Callaghan – 1:54:01
Pallister – 1:56:28
Throssell – 1:56.87
Add Up – 7:40.66

Personal Bests
Ledecky – 1:53.73
Madden – 1:56.36
Weinstein – 1:55.26
Gemmel – 1:55.97
Add Up – 7:41.32

So every US woman could go a .16 PB, taking .64 off the add up for a 7:40.68. That would… Read more »

Just Keep Swimming
Reply to  Kevin
26 days ago

This is fascinating. But also, MOC’s and Throssell’s times are actually faster than that.

MOC
1:52.48 Paris Trials
1:52.85 Fukuoka final
1:53.57 2024 Nationals
1:53.66 Fukuoka relay leadoff
1:53.83 Fukuoka trials

Throssell
1:55.74 Paris trials
1:56.00 Doha final
1:56.24 Budapest trials
1:56.48 2024 Nationals
1:56.62 Gwangju trials

So drop another 0.43

Kevin
Reply to  Just Keep Swimming
26 days ago

Yeah looks like the DB is missing a lot of results, part of why I cited it. Wasn’t sure where else to source them to try and answer my insane sounding question. But we’re now at all the US woman going .27 faster than their PBs and still being .01 slower than the 5th best times of the AUS woman. It’s just nuts.

Troyy
Reply to  Kevin
25 days ago

For some reason they always miss relay lead offs.

Andy
Reply to  Just Keep Swimming
25 days ago

So by your calculations, you COULD use their 6th fastest times ever and then woukd add to 7:41.04 and it would still be better then USA’s PB add up time

Nick the biased Aussie
26 days ago

I wouldn’t be surprised if Canada gets silver behind Australia

Genevieve Nnaji
Reply to  Nick the biased Aussie
26 days ago

On current paper, USA CHN and CAN all have legitimate shot at silver.

phelpsfan
Reply to  Genevieve Nnaji
26 days ago

Canada? Absolutely not

Genevieve Nnaji
Reply to  phelpsfan
26 days ago

It depends on Ruck and Oleksiak.

Summer 1:53

Mary Sophie Henry 1:55

If Ruck and Oleksiak can swim 1:56, they have a chance.

SwimCanFan
Reply to  Genevieve Nnaji
26 days ago

I feel like Brousseau has a much better chance of hitting 1:56 than Oleksiak or Ruck. Ruck had some great relay splits in the 4×100 in Doha. But she said she has been training for 50 and 100. Neither Penny nor Ruck have shown any signs of a strong 200 lately. Too bad the relay pieces were never firing at the same time.

Genevieve Nnaji
Reply to  SwimCanFan
26 days ago

Thanks for letting me know about Brousseau. I’m very familiar about Canada second tier swimmers. How old is she and whats her current PB?

Tanner-Garapick-Oleksiak-McIntosh
Reply to  Genevieve Nnaji
26 days ago

Julie is 18.

Her PB in the 200 free is 1:57.60.

phelpsfan
Reply to  Genevieve Nnaji
26 days ago

Big if, right now they’re in the 1:59-2:01 range.

Two more things, 1. It’s Harvey not Henry 😂, 2. MSH has been on a heater recently, so I could see her going a 1:54

Last edited 26 days ago by phelpsfan
Swim Observer
Reply to  Genevieve Nnaji
25 days ago

Ella Jansen had a 1:56 high split once, but also had slow split at 1.59 multiple times (at world championships?)

Swimdad
26 days ago

On paper yes. Australia is by far the favorite. The 800fr relay will most likely be their only relay win.

Last edited 26 days ago by Swimdad
StuffTheSilver
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

Because the US have been so dominant at the W 4 x 100Free?

Just Keep Swimming
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

Here comes Swimdad with another shockingly terrible anti-Australia take

Swimdad
Reply to  Just Keep Swimming
26 days ago

Prior to trials Australia was huge favorites to win the W 4fr relay. Not anymore.

Troyy
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

See I don’t think trials changed much. Both countries are in a similar position to last year post trials.

Just Keep Swimming
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

OK let’s assume the Australians don’t improve, don’t drop any time from flying starts and just repeat their exact times from trials. That gives them a 3:30.45, which is more than half a second faster than the American record. Their add ups are 1.23 seconds faster than the US add ups. US will have 2/4 of their relay finals swimmers pulling a double with the 100 fly while all 4 Australians will be fresh. If you remove Australia’s winner and instead use our 5th place we are still ahead of USA by almost half a second.

You said Australia will “most likely” lose this relay. I challenge you to defend that statement with any semblance of logic or reason.

Just Keep Swimming
Reply to  Just Keep Swimming
26 days ago

Didn’t think so

Swimfan
Reply to  Just Keep Swimming
26 days ago

Because Simone is a clutch swimmer and Douglass split z51.9 on this relay last year, oh let’s not forget Gretchen Walsh 44,8 yard swim .7 sec faster than anyone else and huske swam a pb

Troyy
Reply to  Swimfan
26 days ago

Simone was more clutch individually than in relays.

Sub13
Reply to  Swimfan
26 days ago

Simone was slower in each round of the 100. That doesn’t exactly scream “clutch” to me

MDE
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

In what world.

Our final was slower than best times for all our swimmers and STILL faster than US.

Genevieve Nnaji
Reply to  MDE
26 days ago

Swimdad is a certified Australia hater.

26 millions Australians living and partying rent free 24/7 inside his head.

commonwombat
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

Not as overwhelmingly so as 4X200 but still fairly clear.

AUS Trials W100FR final WAS a nervy affair with times less impressive than in the past and it certainly created an impression that the door was opening to some degree. Except that the US final was even more nervy with times distinctly slower than AUS !

Will AUS win in Paris by 4sec ala Fukuoka ? Exceedingly unlikely given both Jack & McKeon appear sub 2023 levels

I’m certainly not seeing a 3.27, let alone better, from AUS, but for USA to even break 3.30 then they would need to rid themselves of a habit of having one poor (54) split.

On paper, USA could do it but it would… Read more »

Swimdad
Reply to  commonwombat
26 days ago

Exactly my point…With a relay start, all 4 US swimmers could go 52 mid, 3 Aussie ladies could go 52 mid as well. The difference is obviously MOC who most likely go 51 high.

Australia is still favorite but the gap between them and team USA has significantly narrowed.

Troyy
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

Why would Harris and Jack who’ve both been 52 mid flat start this year go 52 mid with a relay start? Jack went 51 4 times last year and Harris was 52.2 when her flat start was half a second slower.

Last edited 26 days ago by Troyy
Swimdad
Reply to  Troyy
26 days ago

Based on their trials… Jack 52.72, Harris 52.97.

Troyy
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

52.65 and 52.52 in the heats show their real form.

Swimdad
Reply to  Troyy
26 days ago

The fact they couldn’t swim fast at finals show they can’t perform under pressure. This with only 4000 spectators.
There will be more people watching at the olympics.

Southerly Buster
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

“they can’t perform under pressure. This with only 4000 spectators”

There were plenty of people in the stands at Fukuoka. And they saw Australia perform brilliantly – 13 times winning gold.

commonwombat
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

Then the same holds true for those in the US final. ……. in front of a bigger crowd.

Douglass dropped time from semis but so did MOC from prelims to finals

Huske added time from semis to final

Walsh did drop time …… but has still yet to break 53sec

Manuel added time and did not break 53.

Swimmer
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

What world are you living in? Jack can’t perform under pressure but was still able to go 51s on several relays last year how does that add up? Aus trials were just about making the team a fast time is just a bonus

commonwombat
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

Still significantly quicker than 2 & 3 at US Trials. Harris has also had a couple of 52.5s in the lead-in.

Whilst I can agree that Jack, on the whole, has looked sub 2023 level so far; the weight of evidence suggests that Harris has made some significant forward progress.

Measured against some previous years; the AUS W100FR final was unspectacular but it did produce 3 sub 53s (with another producing one in prelims) but if anything the US reply was an “airswing” with only 2 below 53 (both slower than AUS counterparts with 2nd only 0.04 faster than AUS 3rd) and some much touted names …… producing their best in other events.

Robbos
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

Based on trails Huske 52.93 & Walsh 53.13, so Aussies still in front without MOC final leg.

skip
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

when exactly did this gap narrow? Not seeing it it in real results, maybe in the times some of you predict

Robbos
Reply to  skip
26 days ago

The gap narrows when the US will improve on their trials swims, but the Aussie girls don’t, this is how they look at it.

Swimmer
Reply to  Robbos
26 days ago

The Aussies don’t improve on their trials swims? Did Jack and O’Callaghan not do massive pbs last year at worlds and put up some of the all time fastest performances are you living under a rock

Robbos
Reply to  Swimmer
26 days ago

I’m an Aussie, I was quoting some of the US comments.

commonwombat
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

But here you are shifting the goalposts to suit yourself. Your lead statement was The 800fr relay will most likely be their only relay win.”

Swimz
Reply to  commonwombat
26 days ago

Huske Witzel Manuel Douglas..I hope Walsh could not be able to do doubles as we have seen..52.8 , 52.5, 52.5, 51.7 AR

Genevieve Nnaji
Reply to  Swimz
26 days ago

Those splits would not have beat Australia

Anyway, I see you play this game where every US swimmers improve their fastest times in the past year by more than 0.6sec.

Let’s apply 0.6s improvements to Australian fastest times in the past year:

Bronte – Jack – Harris – Mollie

52.50 – 51.70 – 51.80 – 51.40 WR

(and I’m being stingy towards Australian as Jack already split 51.7 all week long in Fukuoka)

Last edited 26 days ago by Genevieve Nnaji
VA Steve
Reply to  Genevieve Nnaji
26 days ago

If you apply 0.6 to Kate D it is 51.19 (to be precise)

Genevieve Nnaji
Reply to  VA Steve
26 days ago

If you apply 0.6 McKeon, Jack, Mollie and Bronte, then it’s 50.79, 51.21, 51.27 and 51.01 to be precise.

Wanna continue to play the game?

Last edited 26 days ago by Genevieve Nnaji
VA Steve
Reply to  Genevieve Nnaji
26 days ago

Yes mischaracterized yet again. Just calling you on it.

Swimfan
Reply to  Swimz
26 days ago

Walsh has an extra year to figure out long course just like Douglass last year Walsh still posed a 52 low potential

Sub13
Reply to  Swimfan
26 days ago

She has a year between now and the Paris Olympics that are in 4 weeks to improve her 53.1 PB?

Sub13
Reply to  Swimz
26 days ago

That’s slower than Australia’s trials times if you adjust for relay starts

Swimfan
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

Didn’t Douglass go 51.9 on the relay? And let’s not forget manuel a clutch swimmer always perform in the big meets

Swimfan
Reply to  Swimdad
26 days ago

Hopefully your right

Davis
Reply to  Swimdad
25 days ago

Well not just on paper …. we didn’t pick those times out of our butt cheeks, they actually swam those times.
and by the way good luck with the 4 x100 free relay.

U turn
27 days ago

Have preview begun already?

About Aidan Burns

Aidan Burns

Aidan Burns was born Sept. 17 1997 in Saratoga, Calif. to mother Anne Griswold. The freestyle and medley specialist chose to swim for the University of Georgia where he is currently a sophomore majoring in Biochemistry. Back in California, he swims under head coach John Bitter for the Santa Clara Swim …

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