ADELAIDE, Australia, May 2. THE seventh day of competition at the Australian nationals was one of the strongest, as three of the country's stars put up world-leading times in preparation for the world championships, and a couple others got close to the world's No. 1 time in their events.
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.
James Magnussen got things going with a 21.52 in the men's 50 free final, a lifetime best for the 100 free world champion and the fastest swim of 2013. Florent Manaudou's 21.55 had withstood challenges from more established 50 freestylers in the past few weeks — including Cesar Cielo and Vlad Morozov — but it was Magnussen who showed the world that he is also looking to be a medal contender in the splash-and-dash in Barcelona after making the Olympic final last year.
“I felt as though I was floating on top of the water tonight,” Magnussen said after the race. “I got a good start and just felt like I was going from strength to strength during the race.
The battle for second in today's race was tight between Matt Abood and Matt Targett, with Abood getting his spot on the world championship team with a 21.95 to Targett's 21.96. Also getting under Australia's time standard of 22.07 was Andrew Abood (younger brother of Matt) with a 22.05.
In the very next event, Belinda Hocking also sent a statement that she's out to return to the world championship medal stand in the 200 backstroke in Barcelona after taking silver behind Missy Franklin in 2011. Today, she swam a 2:07.17 to supplant Franklin's 2:07.31 from January off the top of the world rankings. Hocking still has a 2:06.06 lifetime best to her credit from the 2011 worlds. Joining Hocking on the world championship team will be Meagan Nay, who was second with a 2:07.96, the third-fastest performance in the world for 2013 so far. Well back in third was Emily Seebohm with a 2:10.26.
A day after her impressive win in the 100 freestyle, Cate Campbell put up a blazing 24.38 in the women's 50 freestyle semifinals that holds her current second-place standing in the world behind reigning Olympic champion Ranomi Kromowidjojo, who swam a 24.30 in April. Campbell's best of the season before today had been 24.46. Alicia Coutts (24.95), swimming the 50 free at a championship meet for the first time, qualified second behind Campbell in a time that could qualify her for the event at world championships — if she swims as fast tomorrow. Britta Elmslie was third with a 25.08.
Earlier in the session, Coutts posted a 25.78 in the 50 fly finals to knock Ranomi Kromowidjojo off the top of the world rankings and set herself up for a run at sprint butterfly medals at the world championships. She also broke the meet record of 26.17 that she had set in yesterday's semifinals in the non-Olympic event. Marieke D'Cruz — formerly known as 2009 world champion Marieke Guehrer — was second with a 26.18, while Brianna Throssell took third with a 26.64.
Jessica Ashwood was the lone qualifier for the world championships in the women's 800 freestyle, posting an 8:24.63 for the win. She now sits fourth in the world, with Katie Ledecky's 8:20.64 from last month still unbeatable. Fifteen-year-old Alanna Bowles placed an impressive second with an 8:30.12, a lifetime best by seven seconds. Though not fast enough to make the world championship team by Australia's standards, it was quicker than the FINA A standard of 8:34.33. Third place went to Katie Goldman with an 8:31.06.
The men's 100 fly was the only final today to not see an automatic world championship qualifier, with Chris Wright touching first in 52.11, off Australia's qualifying time of 51.97 but faster than the FINA A standard of 52.57. Wright was second in the 200 fly with a time slower than Australia's and FINA's cut. In the interest of having a butterflyer in Barcelona for medley relay purposes, though, Wright might get a ticket to the meet. Daniel Lester was second with a 52.14 after turning first at 50 meters, while Tommy D'Orsogna placed third with a 52.26.
Sweden's Jennie Johansson put up the meet's fastest time in the women's 50 breaststroke semifinals, a 30.78 that ranks her third in the world in the non-Olympic event. With the event not being used to select swimmers for world championships, unlike the 100 breast in which she was not allowed to swim in finals, Johansson could get the opportunity to get a third swim tomorrow. Qualifying second was Leiston Pickett with a 31.11, while Samantha Marshall was third with a 31.59.
Ben Treffers broke his meet record of 25.19 in the 50 backstroke by the slimmest of margins with a 25.18 in today's semifinals. Dan Arnamnart was second with a 25.28 and Bobby Hurley, a former short course world record holder in the event, qualified third with a 25.58.
Today's disability class competition featured the 200 IM, with Kayla Clarke taking the top time for the women with a 2:36.45, while Rick Pendleton was the fastest among men with a 2:15.42.