SYDNEY, Australia, February 27. THIS weekend’s New South Wales open championships Down Under will feature many of Australia’s top swimmers, plus a few international stars that could make some noise at this summer’s major meets.
Alicia Coutts and James Magnussen are the top Australian stars at the meet, and will use the competition as their final preparations for the Australian long course nationals in April that will serve as the selection meet for the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific championships. At the same meet last March, Magnussen won the 100 free with a 48.61, but has already been under 48 seconds this year with a 47.73 to his credit. Magnussen is the reigning world champion in the 100 free and looks to add Commonwealth and Pan Pac champion to his accomplishments this summer. Magnussen is scheduled to swim the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles plus both 400-meter relays this weekend.
Coutts, a multiple medalist in the butterfly and IM events last summer at the world championships, has nine events on her schedule this weekend. Among those are the 100 fly and 200 IM, the two individual events in which she won silver medals last summer. Coutts plans to race the 50s and 100s of each stroke, plus the 200 IM, at this weekend’s three-day meet.
Among the top Australian male swimmers expected to race this weekend include Matthew Abood, Kenneth To, Mack Horton, Jordan Harrison, Ashley Delaney, Thomas Fraser–Holmes, James Magnussen, James Roberts, Cameron McEvoy, David McKeon and Daniel Arnamnart. On the women’s side, Emily Seebohm, Brittany Elmslie, Belinda Hocking, Bronte Barratt, Meagen Nay, Kylie Palmer, and Emma McKeon are on the start list for this weekend’s competition.
Some of the top Australian swimmers missing from this lineup include reigning 100 free world champion Cate Campbell, 100 breast world champ Christian Sprenger and Olympic medalist Matt Targett. But the meet will make up for this lack of star power with the addition of three major international stars.
American Claire Donahue across the Pacific Ocean for the opportunity to get in some racing experience against some of the top Aussies. One of her chief rivals at the Pan Pacific championships will be Coutts, who Donahue will race this weekend in the 50 and 100 butterfly events. Though Donahue is not on the start list for the meet, Swimming World has confirmed that she will compete. After the meet, she’ll train in New Zealand under Gary Hurring at the Wellington National Training Center for three weeks.
“It’s a good way for her to do something a little different at this point while we’re at conference and then later at nationals,” Donahue’s coach Bruce Marchionda told Swimming World. “It’s going to be a good variety for her.”
Korea’s Tae Hwan Park, who has been putting in some heavy training in Australia this year, will race all five freestyle events from the 50 to the 1500. He’s been on a mission to be the only man to win the 100, 200, 400 and 1500 freestyles at a major international competition, falling short at the Asian Games in 2010.
France’s Camille Lacourt has also been spending time in Australia, and he’ll gauge his level of racing with the 50 and 100 backstrokes and the 50 butterfly. Lacourt is the third-fastest performer all-time in the 100 long course backstroke and was fifth in the event at last summer’s world championships.