Cameron McEvoy has emerged victorious in the men’s 100m freestyle on night one of the Swimming NSW State Open Championships at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre tonight.
With just over a month until the 2016 Hancock Prospecting Australian Championships – the Race to Rio (April 7-14) – the tussle for a top-two finish in the blue-riband event is tighter than ever, but McEvoy ruled the pool, touching for gold in 48.40.
The race saw McEvoy take on former World Champion and Olympic silver medallist James Magnussen and rising star Kyle Chalmers.
Seventeen-year-old Chalmers edged close to his personal best time of 48.47 to finish second in 48.68, heralding bigger things for the teenager from Adelaide, with Magnussen, on his way back from shoulder surgery, third in an encouraging 49.22.
“I’m really happy,” McEvoy said of his sub-49 swim.
“I wasn’t too fresh for this competition. I’m in a different phase of my training and that phase revolves around a lot of quality race work. I’m pleased to have come out and got under 49 seconds,” McEvoy said.
“It is good to have competition,” McEvoy said. “It has been a long time since we have had all the top guys in Australia in one race, so that was nice.
“But that feeling was overshadowed by the pure labour of that swim.
“It was very much a training swim and I did a good time and considering that I can relate that to a tough training session.”
With the Olympics looming, Chalmers has started home-schooling and has upped his training regime under the experienced Peter Bishop at Marion.
“Everything is going really well, I am really enjoying it,” Chalmers said.
“It is good to get a 48.6 out in season. I still haven’t had a whole lot of experience racing the older guys so it was good fun having them against me tonight.”
The women’s 100m freestyle belonged to Cate Campbell. Sister Bronte withdrew from the morning’s heats because of a head cold, but Campbell proved she didn’t need her to pull out a strong finish, winning in 52.85.
“That was probably my fastest swim without taper so I’m pleased with that,” Campbell said of the time that was just a fraction off the Australian All-comers record of 52.62 and only 0.03 seconds slower than the time she swam to take bronze at last year’s World Championships, giving her confidence ahead of next month’s Australian Championships.
“It’s hard to tell when you are in this last phase of training and everyone is tired and sore.
“It’s been fairly smooth and consistent – nothing spectacular, but nothing awfully dreadful.
“Consistency is really key and that is what we have found over the last couple of years. Often your best swims are off the consistent training blocks.”
Edging close to her best time was Emma McKeon who touched for second in 53.48. Michelle Coleman (Sweden) was third in 54.03.
The absence of World Champion Emily Seebohm due to illness did little to lessen the quality of the women’s 200m backstroke final with a stacked field of competitors who will be chasing Seebohm in Adelaide.
Currently ranked number two in the world, Madison Wilson took gold in the event in a time of 2:08.28, while Seebohm’s 15-year-old Brisbane Grammar training partner Minna Atherton grabbed silver in 2:08.90 with London Olympic Belinda Hocking third in 2:09.48.
Meanwhile Georgia Bohl came within a whisker of her personal best in the 100m breaststroke, swimming 1:06.65 to win gold ahead of Denmark’s Rikke Pedersen and Sweden’s Jennie Johansson.
“I’m happy with the swim, it was a good race,” the 18-year-old from St Peters Western said. “I’ve improved on my strength and now I’m just focusing on all the little things to add up.”
And Jessica Ashwood clocked a stunning 8:19.59 in the women’s 800m, breaking the NSW All-Comers record set by the USA’s Brooke Bennett 16 years ago when she won gold at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Ashwood was just over a second outside of her Australian record time.
In the opening event of the night, the men’s 400m freestyle, David McKeon took a healthy early lead to be a body length in front at the half way mark.
The 23-year-old London Olympian extended his lead in the final 100m leaving his competitors in his wake to win in 3:46.48. Mack Horton couldn’t catch McKeon, finishing second in 3:49.94 while McKeon’s Chandler training partner Jack McLoughlin rounding out the medals in 3:50.72.
Competition continues on Saturday 5 March with the women’s 50m freestyle and the men’s 200m freestyle some of the highlights.
Swimming NSW contributed this report.