ADELAIDE, Australia, April 30. JAMES Magnussen sprinted to the world's fastest time in the men's 100 freestyle today at the Australian nationals, while the top four put up times to give Australia hope to defend its 400 free relay world title.
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.
Magnussen's time of 47.53 bumped Vladimir Morozov's 47.93 from the No. 1 spot in the 2013 world rankings. Though not as fast as the 47.10 he posted at last year's Olympic Trials held this time of the year to become second-fastest all-time, Magnussen is officially on the journey to defending his 2011 100 free world championship title, an event he won with a 47.63.
“I think it's good to be back here after having some time off after the Olympics,” Magnussen said to the media after the race. “I feel like I probably could have gone quicker at some stage this week, but I just wasn't feeling 100 percent right tonight.”
Rounding out the top four in the final, and securing spots on the 400 free relay in Barcelona were Cameron McEvoy (48.07), James Roberts (48.37) and Matt Targett (48.58). For McEvoy, it's a personal best time by five tenths of a second, while Roberts was nearly a second off his lifetime best of 47.63 from last year's Olympic Trials. Targett is right on his textile best, a 48.32 from the 2012 Trials, but still is trying to catch his lifetime best of 47.88 from the 2008 Olympics. Magnussen and Targett were part of the world championship-winning relay in 2011, while McEvoy and Roberts will replace Matt Abood and Eamon Sullivan. Abood could get on the world championship roster as a relay alternate with his sixth-place time of 49.12, while Tom D'Orsogna placed fifth with a 48.86.
Daniel Tranter was also impressive today, winning the 200 IM with a 1:57.55, a personal best by six tenths. Coincidentally, his best time had been the meet record — until today. Tranter sits fifth in the world in the event for 2013. Kenneth To will have the opportunity to return to the championship final of this event after placing seventh in 2011 with a runner-up time of 1:58.72. It marks To's first time under 1:59 and puts him eighth in the world.
With Jessicah Schipper taking time off to give birth to her first child in the coming weeks, a wide gap became prevalent in the women's 200 fly in Adelaide. No swimmer was able to qualify for the world championships, with Madeline Groves winning the race with a 2:09.39, about two seconds off Australia's qualifying standard. Samantha Hamill touched second with a 2:10.35 and Nicole Mee was third with a 2:10.71.
Emily Seebohm posted her second win of the meet, touching first in the 50 backstroke final with a 28.18, the ninth-fastest time in the world in the non-Olympic event. Alicia Coutts, swimming the 50s of all the strokes in addition to her regular events, placed second with a 28.34, and Madison Wilson was third with a 28.64.
Cate Campbell, who first rose to prominence as a 15-year-old Olympic medalist in 2008 but struggled in the years since, looks to be back on form. Campbell posted the fastest time in today's semifinal of the 100 freestyle with a 52.83, breaking the Australian All-Comers record of 52.88 set by Libby Trickett in 2008, and putting a scare into Trickett's national record of 52.62 from 2009. It also broke Melanie Schlanger's meet record of 53.85 from 2012. Placing second in semis was Cate's younger sister Bronte with a personal best 53.72, while Emma McKeon, the younger sister of national titlist David, qualified third with a 54.23. Just behind in fourth was Britta Elmslie with a 54.25, as the top four all cleared Australia's qualifying time, which does not seem to be a requirement for relay placement. Schlanger and Alicia Coutts, who were on the Olympic gold medal-winning relay with Cate Campbell and Elmslie, qualified for the final in fifth and sixth, respectively.
Matson Lawson put up the fifth-fastest time in the world today in the men's 200 backstroke semifinals with a 1:57.29. Though it eclipses Australia's qualifying time, he must do it in finals to secure a spot on the world championship team. Ashley Delaney qualified second with a 1:58.52, while Mitch Larkin was third with a 1:59.88.
Similar to the women's 200 fly, two other events swum today showed a gap needing to be filled with the absence or retirement of the country's best swimmers. With 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Brenton Rickard sitting out the men's 200 breaststroke (and former world record holder Christian Sprenger eternally sitting out the event) today's 200 breast semifinals showed a gap that needs filling. Lennard Bremmer qualified first with a 2:13.82, while Jeremy Meyer (2:14.77) and Nicholas Schafer (2:15.90) took second and third.
In the women's 200 breast — an event owned for more than 10 years by Leisel Jones — Taylor McKeown qualified first with a 2:27.23, followed by Sally Foster's 2:27.94 and Jenna Strauch's 2:28.79.
Taylor Corry claimed gold medal number three in the women's disability 50 backstroke final with a 31.92 ahead of Maddison Elliott's 37.19 and Asleigh McConnell's 35.76.
Michael Anderson and Michael Auprince went 1-2 in the men's disability 50 back with times of 28.71 and 30.67, respectively. Sean Russo took the bronze with a 28.75.