2018 AUSTRALIAN SWIMMING TRIALS
- Wednesday, February 28th – Saturday, March 3rd
- Optus Aquatic Centre, Marine Parade, Southport, Queensland
- Prelims at 11:00am local (8pm EST previous night)/Finals at 7:15pm local (4:15am EST)
- Meet Central
- Selection Criteria (including QTs)
- Start Lists
Australia’s biggest aquatic players are gearing up for the 2018 Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Trials set to be held in Queensland Wednesday, February 28th through Saturday, March 3rd. On the line for the swimmers are spots on the Australian roster for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which, in turn, serve as the competition from which the 2018 Pan Pacific Games line-up will then be selected.
Swimming Australia is trying something new this time around after a relatively disappointing overall outing at the 2016 Olympic Games. In past selection competitions, the racing took place more in the ballpark of a 3 1/2 month range prior to the actual elite event. However, these Trials are being held just a mere 5 weeks out from the Commonwealth Games, with Australian trying out the American timeline model.
Of the changes in Trials timing when announced back in February of last year, Australian Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren said, “Our rationale behind the trials shift is to create ‘more and significant competition’ leading into our benchmark events.
“This change will result in consistent racing in the months leading up to trials. Our system has been structured around the southern hemisphere summer, we now have facilities in warmer places and are able to host our trials closer to the benchmark events which are typically during a northern hemisphere summer.”
In addition to the Commonwealth Games squad being selected, junior swimmers will also be fighting for their spots on the Junior Pan Pacific Championships and Oceania Games rosters. These Australian Swimming Trials serve as one of two qualifying meets, with April’s Georgina Hope Foundation Australian Age Championships signifying the other competition.
Regarding the actual selection criteria, Swimming Australia specifies that a maximum of 50 swimmers may be chosen for the Commonwealth Games line-up, pending confirmation by the Commonwealth Games Association’s overall maximum Australian team size. Swimmers will be selected based on 4 different priorities outlined in the selection criteria document linked above.
At a high-level, the top priority will be given to the top 3 finishers in the A final of each individual Olympic event at the Trials, provided the swimmers meet or beat the listed qualifying time. The list of QTs can be seen in the table below.
As for relays, the top 2 swimmers in the A final of each non-free 100 may be considered for the medley, while the top 2 in the 100m free and 200m free will be considered for the 400m and 800m freestyle relays. 3rd through 8th place finishers in the freestyle events may be considered for selection as relay-only swimmers.
The non-Olympic events will see the top 3 finishers be considered for selection, as long as their A final performances meet or beat the qualifying times. These are considered the priority level 3. Priority level 4 includes swimmers who have met B standards, provided no swimmers met the A QTs.
As is the case with most elite international competitions, the squad’s selection is ultimately ‘at the discretion’ of Swimming Australia and there is an ‘extenuating circumstances’ clause included in the documentation. Interestingly, the circumstances are defined not only as ‘injury or illness’, but also cover ‘an unanticipated event occurring at Selection Trials.’
Although nothing is specified within the ‘unanticipated event’, one can’t help thinking back to Ian Thorpe’s false start at the 2004 Olympic Trials, which cost him an automatic selection to the Athens roster in the event. Qualifier Craig Stevens wound up relinquishing his spot to Thorpe and the ‘thorpedo’ eventually claimed Olympic gold.
The who’s who of Australian swimming is set to compete including speedsters Cameron McEvoy, Kyle Chalmers, James Magnussen and up-and-comer Jack Cartwright. The longer freestyle races will see young 17-year-old Elijah Winnington take on Olympic medalist Mack Horton to see if the teen can follow-up with his winning performances at the NSW Championships earlier this year.
Also in the men’s mix will be Argentina’s Federico Grabich, who is entered in both the 50m and 100m freestyle events. The national record holder has been rather quiet since his 2015 Pan American Games gold and 2015 World Championships bronze, but will look to shake up the competition in Queensland as a visiting swimmer.
The women’s side is led by multi-Olympic medalist Emma McKeon, as the 23-year-old Wollongong native is slated to swim 5 individual events. She’s sticking to her bread-and-butter 100m free, 200m free and 50m fly/100m fly events, but is also slated to take on the 200m fly. Right off the bat McKeon will face a double, with the 200m free and 200m fly both taking place on day 1.
Cate Campbell is also trying out a new event at a Trials in the 50m butterfly, a race in which she became the first Aussie woman butterflyer ever to clock a sub-26 second time in a textile suit. While competing at the NSW Championships in January, the 25-year-old clocked a winning time of 25.68 for a new personal best and #3 time in the world.
C1 is also entered in the 200m freestyle, an event in which the thoroughbred sprinter has said would purely be for relay positioning rather than for any individual race glory.
Veteran mainstays Emily Seebohm, Bronte Campbell, Brittany Elmslie, Madi Wilson and Brianna Throssell are anticipated to be hitting the Queensland pool, along with on-the-move youngsters like Kaylee McKeown. McKeown has made noise on the backstroke front, but recently also turned heads with her 400m IM racing. The 16-year-old comes into the meet as the 2nd-seeded swimmer in that grueling event.
Olympic silver medalist Maddie Groves is listed among the competitors expected to race, although she was also listed on the NSW pyshcs and wound up not racing. Groves is looking to maker her return since having missed out-of-competition doping tests, which almost rendered her suspended. Groves wound up winning her contestment, but such was not the case for triple medalist from the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Thomas Fraser-Holmes.
TFH is in the midst of serving a 12-month ban and, therefore, is unable to compete at these Trials.