SYDNEY, Australia, March 15. JAMES Magnussen's first race of 2013 took place Friday night at the New South Wales long course championships, and it netted an impressive sub-49 second 100-meter freestyle in the world this year. Japan sent a strong crew to Sydney for some pre-world trials competition.
Magnussen, the reigning world champion in the 100 free and the Olympic silver medalist in the event, swam a 48.61 in the final after posting a 48.90 in prelims. The time is well off the 47.10 he posted last March at the Australian Olympic Trials, but likely has more in the tank in preparation for next month's world championship trials. Nathan Adrian still stands on top of the world rankings with a 48.32 from January's Arena Grand Prix in Austin. Cameron McEvoy, one of four members of the 400 free relay from the London Olympics competing today, was second in 49.31. Kenneth To, who made a case to be a top sprint freestyler during last fall's World Cup tour, placed third with a 49.44, just off his lifetime best of 49.40 from last year's Olympic Trials. Olympian Tommas D'Orsogna, a member of the Olympic 400 free relay, was fourth in the race with a 49.58. Japan's Kosuke Hagino, the Olympic bronze medalist in the 400 IM, showed some sprint speed with a fifth-place effort 50.08 after posting a 49.96 in prelims.
Notably, James Roberts, who showed promise last March as an Olympic medal hopeful but was unable to reach that potential in London, placed sixth in today's race in 50.20.
Hagino's 100 free came moments after a win in the 400 freestyle to start the session. Hagino swam a 3:46.89 to beat Olympian David McKeon's 3:47.14. Jordan Harrison was third in 3:48.43.
Alicia Coutts, prepping for another large medal haul at the world championships, won the women's 50 butterfly final with a 26.36. Britta Elmslie, who swam with Coutts on the Olympic gold medal 400 free relay, was second with a 26.72, while Japan's Yuka Kato was third in 26.81.
Like Magnussen, Takeshi Matsuda made a big statement today that he's on track for big things at worlds. The Olympic bronze medalist in the 200 fly won that event in Sydney with a 1:56.68, dominating the race by nearly two seconds. Mitchell Pratt could only watch Matsuda's feet, placing second with a 1:58.47, and Yuta Kimura was third in 1:58.90.
With the title of breaststroke queen up for grabs with the official retirement of Leisel Jones, Sally Foster made a step towards claiming that crown with a 1:08.16 victory in the 100 breast. Samantha Marshall was just behind Foster in second with a 1:08.82. Coutts, swimming what is likely regarded as the weak stroke in her individual medley, was third with a 1:09.08.
Australia's Max Ireland will leave the New South Wales championships with the knowledge that he beat a world record holder and a four-time Olympic champion. He touched out 200 breast world record holder Akihiro Yamaguchi in the 50 breast with a 28.32 to Yamaguchi's 28.45.Olympic legend Kosuke Kitajima, focusing solely on sprints in 2013, was third in 28.50.
Coutts stepped up for a third event, winning the 100 free with an impressive 54.73. Japan's Ami Matsuo was second with a 54.95, and Emma McKeon tied Yolane Kukla for third with a 55.11. Another tie took place in the final, with Elmslie and Haruka Ueda posting matching times of 55.18 for fifth place.
Samantha Hamill coasted to a clear victory in the women's 400 IM with a 4:44.31, ahead of Keryn McMaster's 4:47.60. Namiki Ueda of Japan took third with a 4:48.18.
Megan Nay and Belinda Hocking, both showing potential in recent years in the 200 backstroke, battled in that event, with Nay taking the win in 2:08.41 to Hocking's 2:08.55. Nay's time is second in the world, behind Missy Franklin's 2:07.31 from January. Hayley Baker was well back in third with a 2:12.45.
Daniel Arnamnart took down Japan's Ryosuke Irie in the 50 backstroke, winning with a 25.17 to Irie's 25.42. Benjamin Treffers was just a hair behind with a third-place effort of 25.47.
Katie Goldman posted an impressive 800 freestyle winning time of 8:31.30, and appears to be getting back on track after placing fifth in this event at the Olympic Trials. Jessica Ashwood, who swam the 800 free at the Olympics, was second in Sydney with an 8:32.60. Laura Crockart wasn't far behind, placing third with an 8:33.42.
Aya Terakawa blasted Japan off to a big lead in the women's 400 medley relay with a blazing 59.18 leadoff leg. She's putting her national record of 58.83 from the Olympic final, where she placed third, on notice. Terakawa was one of three swimmers on the medley relay that took the bronze in London, swimming in Sydney with butterflyer Yuka Kato (58.60) and freestyler Haruka Ueda (54.44). Breaststroker Satomi Suzuki was replaced by Miku Kanasashi in Sydney, where she split a respectable 1:08.96. Japan's final time was 4:01.18. The MVC team placed second with a 4:09.82, while Nunawading was third with a 4:10.20.
The Japanese men put on a similar show in the men's 400 medley relay, with Irie leading off with a sizzling 53.81 backstroke leg. Yamaguchi followed it up with a 1:00.27 breaststroke leg, with Keita Sunama swimming a 53.85 on butterfly. Matsuda showed some versatility with a strong 49.73 freestyle anchor swim to give Japan a final time of 3:37.66. Nunawading was second with a 3:41.65, and the Sydney Olympic Swim Club team placed third in 3:41.95 on the strength of a 47.76 freestyle leg by Magnussen.
In multi-class disability swimming, Sean Russon won the timed final of the men's 200 IM with a 2:19.82. Mitchell Kudluff was listed second with a 2:30.13, while Hayden Smith was listed third in 2:35.73. Paralympic legend Jacqueline Freney, who won an Phelpsian eight gold medals in London, took the 200 IM in 2:55.73, with Taylor Corry listed second with a 2:41.43 and Amanda Fowler listed third with a 2:42.28.
Mitchell Kilduff was listed first in the men's 50 freestyle with a 25.82, with Matthew Levy (28.94) and Patrick Donachie (27.25) listed second and third, respectively. In the women's 50 free, Taylor Corry is listed first with a 28.91. Paralympic legend Jacqueline Freney was listed second with a 32.40, which inches her ever closer to Mallory Weggemann's S7 world record of 31.64. Maddison Elliott was listed third with a 31.69.