Australian Championships: Cate Campbell Ignites Her Starter Motor As She Fine Tunes For Toyko

START ME UP: Cate Campbell has revealed the bio-mechanist who has given her 50m freestyle just the start she needs. Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia). :

Australian Championships: Cate Campbell Ignites Her Starter Motor As She Fine Tunes For Toyko

Australia’s freestyle sprint queen Cate Campbell has revealed details of how an internationally acclaimed bio-mechanist has ignited her starter-motor as she fine tunes her preparations for a fourth Olympic campaign for Tokyo.

Twenty-eight-year-old Campbell (Knox Pymble) smashed out a 50m freestyle time of 24.28 to swim past her fellow relay golden girl Emma McKeon (Griffith University) 24.39 to claim her seventh National  crown over the one-lap dash at the Australian Championships with sister Bronte Campbell (Knox Pymble) 24.75 hanging on for third.

It was another high quality set of finals from Australia’s top heavy female sprinters with Madi Wilson (Marion, SA) 24.90 in fourth in the Open final and St Peters Western trio Meg Harris winning the 19-20 years final in 24.92 and “kid city twins” Mollie O’Callaghan (25.00) and Mia O’Leary (25.16) going 1-2 in the 17-18 years.

For Campbell it was another major boxed ticked after her duels in the pool with McKeon in some serious racing over this past week – clocking a sizzling 100m freestyle heat (52.43) and finals times (52.85 – second to McKeon 52.49) – as they countdown for June’s Olympic Trials.


BEST FOOT FORWARD: Cate Campbell leaving no stone unturned as she starts her Tokyo Trials campaign in earnest. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

And the 50m, where Campbell has won her only individual Olympic medal (bronze in Beijing), is a serious event – but knowing full well if she aims to be competitive she had to make changes and its ben two-years in the making.

Enter South African bio-mechanic guru Ryan Harradine – recruited to join the NSWIS team from Singapore – and the man who triggered the fast-twitch fibres of Olympic gold medallists, his fellow countrymen Cameron van der Burgh and Roland Schoeman and Singapore’s Joseph Schooling – the man who crushed triple dead-heat silver medallists Michael Phelps, Chad Le Clos and Laszlo Cseh in a gripping final to win Singapore’s first ever Olympic gold medal.


FOOTLOOSE: Cate Campbell plans to bring her relay start to her individual races.Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Campbell revealed how she had to make changes, knowing she could ill-afford to continue to give away valuable hundredths of seconds to her opponents off the blocks.

“For me the 50m freestyle is about consolidating my start,” said Campbell.

“I’ve really put a lot of time and effort into bringing them up to scratch and I think you’ll find that I almost left the blocks at the same time as everyone else (today) as opposed to a couple of beats behind everyone else.

“And 50s are won and lost by hundredths of a second so even if I can get off the blocks a few hundredths faster then that’s a win – improvement comes down to a lot of technique.

“And I have changed my (starting) technique, where as I used to do an underarm technique but now I throw my arms over.

“I have been working really well with Ryan Harradine from NSWIS over the past two years and he’s got such a fantastic eye.

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 13: Cameron van den Burgh on his way to a Olympic Qualifying time in the 200m breast stroke for men l during the finals session on day 4 of the SA National Aquatic Championships and Olympic Trials on April 13 , 2016 at the Kings Park Aquatic Center pool in Durban, South Africa. Photo Credit / Anesh Debiky/Swim SA

FLYER: Cameron van der Burgh shows his starting style. Photo Courtesy: Anesh Debiky/Swimming South Africa.

“He used to work with Cameron Van Der Burgh is one of the best starters in the world and also Roland Schoeman who is also one of the best starters in the world.

“Ryan brings in a lot of knowledge and (afterall) I’ve had a whole year to practice…..!!

“When you look at my relay swims compared to my individual swims, predominantly I get most of my relay gain off a changeover.

“My relay start is so much better so if I can bring my flat start as close as possible to my relay start then it’s got to be a good thing.

“My only individual Olympic medal is in a 50m freestyle and while I do joke about it (the 50) and 50m swimmers are the easy butt of jokes, it is still an Olympic event and there are still Olympic medals on offer and while I am better known for my 100, the 50 has always been my baby.

“It’s always going to be something that I want to do well in and I focus on and that’s where I started and that’s where I plan on finishing as well…”

Campbell said she was actually quite surprised with the good swims that she managed to pump out at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre this week.

“It’s been an interesting 12 months for everyone and I’m happy with how my body has held up, that’s been the biggest challenge for me over the past year,” she said.

“The youngsters have the advantage – they get better as they get older but we just get more injured as we get older, so I’ve really been happy with my injury management in this past week..

“And looking forward to seeing what a couple more weeks of training can do before we race again….”


TRIPLE TREAT: Kyle Chalmers very much in the zone to win the freestyle treble – 50, 100 and 200m. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia.

Meanwhile Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers (Marion, SA), secured his third Australian title to end the meet with 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle treble.

Chalmers charged to the wall from lane three in 22.30 to win the men’s 50m freestyle ahead of SPW’s Jack Cartwright (22.4) while Chalmers’ bronze medal winning Rio relay team mate James Roberts (Somerset GC) 3rd in 22.50.

“The goal is obviously to swim well in the heats (in the evening) but then be able to back it up and swim a bit faster in the morning (final) so I’ve been able to do that which is the main goal for me and something I can take away,” Chalmers said.

“I’ve always kind of doubted my ability in the morning but that’s probably because I’m more of a finals swimmer than a heats swimmer.

“There’s been plenty of times when I’ve kind of been borderline semi-finals or finals because I’ve gone a bit too easy in the morning.

“I think it’s going to be beneficial swimming heats at night because I’ll be able to get myself up and then you’re in a final, so you’ve just got to be able to do it so there’s plenty of positives that I can take away.”

Abbey Harkin an jenna strauch

BELL TOLLS FOR ST PETERS ABBEY: Abbey Harkin with Jenna Strauch after an epic 200m breaststroke final. Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

And in a cracking women’s 200m breaststroke final, Abbey Harkin (St Peters Western) trailed Jenna Strauch (Bond) for 199 metres but pounced on the touch in a heart-stopping victory by just 0.28secs – 2:25.26 (36.35;1:09.52;1:46.96) to Strauch’s 2:25.54 (36.10; 1:09.18; 1:46.22).

Going head-to-head in lanes four and five, the crowd stood on their feet as the pair swam stroke-for-stroke towards the wall after Strauch had led for almost the entire race – Harkin’s momentum getting her to the wall first. The win marks Harkins first individual gold of the meet after placing second in the 100m and third in the 50m breaststroke events with Nunawading’s Zoe Deacon securing bronze the bronze in 2:27.20.


ZAC ATTACK: Chandler’s Zac Stubblety-Cook came from the clouds down the final 50m to win the 200m breaststroke. Photo Courtesy:Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Meanwhile in the corresponding men’s event Zac Stubblety-Cook (Chandler) claimed the double in the breaststroke events add the 200m with his trademark final 50m sprint to the finish.

Charging down the middle lanes, former world record holder Matthew Wilson (SOPAC) and Stubblety-Cook set up a real match race until Stubblety-Cook pulled away with 15 metres to go to secure victory in 2:08.28 (29;87; 32.18; 33.25 and 32.18) – bang on the Olympic qualifying time. Wilson touched narrowly behind in 2:09.44 (29.03; 32.62; 33.57; 34.22) and to grab silver while Daniel Cave from Melbourne Vicentre bagged bronze in 2:14.22.

Holly Barratt

WINNERS ARE GRINNERS: Holly Barratt all smiles after winning the 50m butterfly. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia.

Rockingham WA’s Holly Barratt produced a stunning performance in the women’s 50m butterfly to not only claim back-to-back titles but – at 33 years of age – becoming the oldest Australian women’s champion in any event.

Olympic pioneer Mina Wylie (who won silver in the 100m freestyle behind swimming first women’s gold medallist Fanny Durack at the 1912 Stockholm Games) won 18 Australian individual titles, her last in 1923.

(Wylie – from a famous Sydney swimming family taught swimming at PLC Pymble – of Knox-Pymble fame – and died in 1984 aged 93).

Fanny Durack, Mina Wylie and Jennie Fletcher

MINA IN THE MIDDLE: Legendary Australian swimmer Mina Wylie (centre) who won 18 individual Australian titles, her last at aged 31 in 1923.Photo Courtesy:

Posting 25.75, Barratt beat Madi Wilson (26.92) and Bond’s Abigail Schoorl  (27.17)

Barratt told Olympic gold medallist Giaan Rooney on Amazon Prime that she was aware of the little slice of history which she had hope to break last year when COVID forced the cancellation of the 2020 Championships and it was nice to be able to take the win in 2021.

In a spectacular finish to the men’s 50m butterfly, Shaun Champion (Abbotsleigh) lived up to his name, with race caller Jon Harker on Amazon Prime declaring in a blanket finish…”and it’s….Champion…..the champion for 2021…winning the 50m butterfly in 23.94 …from William Yang (Loreto Normanhurst) in 24.08 and Carlile’s Edward Marks 24.25…in an all-NSW finish.”

Meanwhile a relieved Ariarne Titmus (St Peters Western) continued on her winning ways, after her shoulder injury adding the women’s 800m freestyle to her victories over 200m and 400m, in 8:23.13 from TSS Aquatic pair Madeleine Gough (8:25.24), and Kiah Melverton, ( 8:32.84).

nick sloman finish

ONE FOR THE POOL ROOM: Nick Sloman adds the 1500m freestyle crown to his open water trophy cabinet. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

And in the final individual event of the meet, Noosa’s marathon man Nick Sloman added his name to a who’s who of some of the greatest champions to have won the men’s 1500m freestyle in a personal best time of 15:02.19 from Rackley’s in-form young gun and 2019 World Junior silver medallist Thomas Neill (15:07.23) and Chandler’s Rio Olympian Jack McLoughlin third in 15:20.95.  

Sloman and Kai Edwards (TSS Aquatic) will now prepared for the Tokyo Olympic Trial in Portugal in June for the lone spot up for grabs in the 10km marathon.

Victorian powerhouse Nunawading Swimming Club with prodigal son Nick Veliades returning to take over as Head Coach along with the wiley Wayne Lawes at the helm topped the point score with 1,890.50 points ahead of Queensland clubs St Peters Western QLD (1,432) second and Rackleys (1,048.50) third.


NUNA-WINNING: Olympic 400IM hopeful Brendon Smith started the ball rolling for Nunawading’s pointscore win at the Australian Championships. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).