ADELAIDE, Australia, April 29. GRANT Irvine put Australia on the map in the 200 butterfly, posting the second-fastest swim in Australian history — and the fastest time in the world — today at the Australian world championship trials.
Swimming Australia has implemented qualifying times for the world championships that are faster than the FINA A qualifying standards. Specifically, the top two finishers must equal or beat the time swum by the eighth-place finisher at the 2011 world championships in non-Olympic events.
Irvine won the 200 fly final with a 1:55.32, getting within a second of Nick D'Arcy's national record of 1:54.46 from 2009. The time puts Irvine first in the global rankings for 2013, bumping down the 1:55.51 swum by Yuki Kobori at the Japanese nationals. This summer's world championships will mark the highest level of competition for Irvine, who last competed for Australia at the 2010 short course world championships. Placing second in the event today was Chris Wright with a 1:57.79 that is slower than Australia's tighter standards and the FINA automatic cut of 1:57.03. Keiran Qaium was third with a 1:58.10.
Bronte Barratt, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist in the 200 free, won that event today with a 1:56.05, just missing out on a spot at the top of the world rankings. Camille Muffat holds that position with a 1:55.48. Barratt led a strong group in the top four, setting up an 800 free relay that could challenge for medals in Barcelona. Kylie Palmer was second with a 1:56.66 to earn a place in the individual 200 free at worlds. Emma McKeon joins big brother David on the world championship squad with a third-place time of 1:56.77, while Britta Elmslie was fourth in 1:57.15.
Christian Sprenger was another top performer today in Adelaide, winning the 50 breaststroke in a national record time of 26.90 that beats Brenton Rickard's 26.95 from the 2009 world championships. Sprenger sits No. 1 in the world as the only swimmer under 27 seconds so far in 2013. After winning the 100 breast on Friday, Sprenger earns the privilege to swim the 50 breast at worlds. Max Ireland placed second with a 27.90, while Joshua Palmer placed third with a 28.11. Rickard scratched finals after posting a 28.02 in semifinals yesterday.
In the other final of the day, Jarrod Poort won the men's 800 freestyle with an 8:06.71. Australia is not automatically selecting swimmers for world championships in non-Olympic events such as the men's 800 free, so Poort will be looking for selection in the 1500 free, the event he swam at the Olympics. Jack McLoughlin was second with an 8:12.53, while Ethan Owens was third with an 8:14.66.
James Magnussen posted the second sub-47 second 100 freestyle of 2013 in prelims with a 47.97, then topped semifinals with a 48.24. Vladimir Morozov still holds the top spot in the world rankings with his 47.93 from the Russian championships. Setting up places in the final tomorrow include Olympic relay members Cameron McEvoy (second, 48.63), Matt Targett (third, 48.68) and James Roberts (fourth, 48.83). Notably, Kenneth To posted the second-fastest prelim swim of the day with a 48.58, then scratched semifinals to focus on the 200 IM semis.
To qualified third in the 200 IM semifinals with a 1:59.66, with Daniel Tranter posting the fastest time with a 1:59.06 and Justin James second with a 1:59.64. To will be looking to return to the world championships, where he made the 200 IM final in 2011, while Tranter and James will be looking for their first world championship berths.
Alicia Coutts, swimming 50s of all the strokes in Adelaide, posted the fastest 50 backstroke swim in semis with a 28.12, with Emily Seebohm right behind with a 28.14. And Samantha Hamill qualified first in the women's 200 fly semis with a 2:10.64, followed by Madeline Groves' 2:10.81 and Amy Smith's 2:10.90.
In disability swimming action, two Paralympians won the men's and women's 100 breaststroke. Blake Cochrane won the men's race with a 1:19.25, while Tanya Huebner was the winner in the women's event with a 1:44.72. In the women's 400 freestyle, Amanda Fowler won with a 4:56.17.