It was a stormy start to the 2016 Victorian Open Championships with racing delayed due to lightning strikes this morning at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
Once the competition commenced, all eyes were on the men’s 100m freestyle as former world champion James Magnussen made his much anticipated return to racing.
Magnussen swam a controlled heat, stopping the clock at 50.05 to move through as fastest qualifier for the final tonight.
The Ravenswood swimmer said he will be looking to improve on a few things for tonight.
“I felt a bit rusty, but that is the first time I have raced in nine months so I wasn’t sure how it was going to feel. I’m looking forward to getting a few more things right tonight,” Magnussen said.
Trinity Grammar swimmer Kenneth To posted the second fastest time form this morning’s heats with a 50.15 with up and comer Blake Jones (Southport, 50.26) and World Championships representative Dan Smith (Miami, 50.25) joining them in the final.
In finals action tonight…
In the corresponding women’s event, keep an eye on Emma McKeon who cruised through to the 100m freestyle final in top spot with a 54.70 ahead of her fellow training partners Bronte Barratt (St Peters Western, 55.45) and Madeline Groves (St Peters Western, 55.57).
McKeon (26.48) and Groves (26.67) will then back up for the women’s 50m butterfly final with third fastest qualifier, Olympian Alicia Coutts also racing the freestyle/fly double tonight.
Coutts was fifth fastest for the 100m freestyle final (56.04) and snuck into the top three for the 50m butterfly with her time of 27.12.
Melbourne local Mack Horton also had his first hit out of the New Year and impressed in his heat to progress as the one to beat for the men’s 400m freestyle in a time of 3:49.87. Expect a competitive final tonight as David McKeon(Chandler, 3:52.55) and Canada’s Ryan Cochrane (3:53.80) round out the top three.
The backstroke boys will also be in action tonight in the splash and dash 50m final. The man of the moment Mitch Larkin (St Peters Western, 25.39) will swim from lane four with World Championship bronze medallist in this event Ben Treffers (Burley Griffin, 25.56) and world championship representative Josh Beaver (Nunawading, 25.69) both hot on his heels.
Swimming Australia contributed this report.