ADELAIDE, Australia, March 15. THE initial day of qualifying at the Australian Olympic Trials featured a national record, and six swimmers each earning a spot on the Olympic roster.
Women's 400 IM
Stephanie Rice, who has battled through various injuries and other setbacks since winning gold in both the 200 IM and 400 IM at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, reminded the world to never count out a defending champion. Rice ripped off a 4:33.45, bettering the FINA A cut of 4:41.75, to secure her spot on the Olympic roster. That performance jumped her to second in the world this year behind only Hannah Miley's 4:32.67 from British Trials.
“It's been a really tough mental preparation as well, just to get my head around surgeries and inconsistent training and to come away now with a world class time, it puts me up there in the world class rankings again and I'm really excited,” said Rice.
Blair Evans, meanwhile, clinched the second spot on the Aussie roster with a 4:37.80 to move to seventh in the world rankings. Samantha Hamill picked up third in 4:42.69, while Ellen Fullerton placed fourth in 4:43.90.
Amy Levings (4:45.02), Samantha Wilkins (4:46.55), Jackie Staples (4:49.19) and Keryn McMaster (4:52.18) rounded out the rest of the championship finalists.
Men's 400 free
David McKeon emerged triumphant from the men's middle distance event with a 3:46.36 for the win. That swim secured the top spot for the Aussie Olympic roster in the event, and moved him to fifth overall in the world this year. McKeon's father Ron competed in the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Games for Australia.
“I'm overwhelmed. Dad's been there, my uncle (Rob Woodhouse) has been there, so it's a bit of a family tradition I guess,” said McKeon. “It's a huge relief and I'm really happy with the swim. I'm sure it will all sink in over the coming days.”
Ryan Napoleon, meanwhile, finished second in 3:47.93, also under the FINA A cut of 3:48.92 to give Australia a pair of swimmers in the event in London. Napoleon improved to eighth in the rankings with the swim.
Robert Hurley finished third in 3:48.60, also under the FINA A cut but outside of the Olympic roster for the Aussies. Declan Potts (3:52.64), Matthew Terry (3:53.93), George O'Brien (3:54.34), Matthew Levings (3:54.75) and Shane Asbury (3:56.90).
Men's 400 IM
Thomas Fraser-Holmes downed the Australian record in the event with a 4:11.81. That swim smashed the 4:15.20 previously held by Justin Norris since 2004, and vaulted Fraser-Holmes to the top of the world rankings. The performance also pushed Fraser-Holmes to 17th all time in the event.
“I wanted to go 4:12 tonight, but to go 4:11 was a bonus. I wasn't feeling that great in the heats, but I guess that was a blowout,” said Fraser-Holmes.
Daniel Tranter finished a distant second with a 4:16.38, but likely is not concerned after earning the second Olympic roster spot for Australia. Mitch Larkin (4:18.38), Travis Nederpelt (4:21.01), Stephen Parkes (4:25.49), Eugene Tee (4:25.65), Jared Gilliland (4:26.11) and Kieran Casey (4:32.48) rounded out the rest of the championship heat.
Women's 100 fly
Jessicah Schipper (58.26) and Alicia Coutts (58.30) led the way in semifinals of the 100 fly with a pair of FINA A cut times to set up a battle heading into the finale. Schipper and Coutts improved to seventh and eighth overall in the world this year with the performances. Brittany Elmslie (59.01), Alice Tait (59.24), Yolane Kukla (59.65), Libby Trickett (59.67), Marieke Guehrer (59.70) and Brianna Throssell (1:00.09) picked up the other transfer spots into the finale.
Men's 100 breast
Brenton Rickard (1:00.36) and Chris Sprenger (1:00.56) will dual for the winning time during finals after both posting sub-FINA A cut times during semis. Rickard moved to third in the world behind Daniel Sliwinski (1:00.09) and Kosuke Kitajima (1:00.13). Sprenger jumped to eighth overall with his time. Nikolas Pregelj (1:01.70), Jeremy Meyer (1:01.82), James Stacey (1:02.36), Kenneth To (1:02.43), Nicholas Schafer (1:02.56) and Joshua Palmer (1:02.60) also will compete in the finale.
Women's 50 back
In the non-Olympic sprint backstroke event, Emily Seebohm paced semis with a 27.97. Sophie Edington (28.41), Tayliah Zimmer (28.91), Grace Loh (29.02), Ruqui Wan (29.33), Hayley Baker (29.34) and Madison Wilson (29.38) also earned lanes in the finale.
Kayla Clarke topped the women's 100 back event in the S14 division with a 1:10.44, while Ellie Cole, who won a trio of Paralympic medals in Beijing, clocked the top S9 time with a 1:10.71. Taylor Corry turned in a 1:11.09 for third in the event out of the S14 division. Jacque Freney paced the S7 division with a 1:25.22.
Michael Anderson won the S10 division men's 100 back with a 1:01.35, while Matt Cowdrey clocked a 1:02.78 in the S9 division. Grant Patterson completed the top three in the race with a 2:00.48 out of the S3 division.