Australian Championships, Day 2 Finals: Emma McKeon’s Safety First Call Ends Clan Campbell’s 100m Freestyle Dominance

I GOT THIS: The smile of a winner...Emma McKeon broke a seven-year domination by 'Clan Campbell' to win her first Australian Open 100m freestyle crown. Photo Courtesy Del;ly Carr (Swimming Australia)

A decision to withdraw from the 200m freestyle final due to a “shoulder niggle” has paid a golden dividend for Emma McKeon after a thrilling 100m freestyle final at the Australian Swimming Championships on the Gold Coast today.

In a history-making win, the 24-year-old broke an eight-year reign by “team Campbell” to clock 52.49 for her first National title in the coveted blue ribband event – for her 10th overall Australian Championship win.

The 24-year-old who tops the individual medal tally for Australia at every major individual meet, took on six-time winner Cate Campbell (second in 52.85 with Madi Wilson third in 53.56) right from the dive in today’s much anticipated final.

The name Campbell has been etched onto the 100m freestyle crown since Cate’s first win in 2013 with only sister Bronte Campbell (fourth today in 53.80) breaking in for her only win in 2017 when Cate was on a break.


ALL SET: Emma McKeon making last minute adjustments. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

Cate, very much the queen of Australian freestyle sprinting, returned to re-gain her title in 2018 and 2019 – and despite her sizzling world ranked #1 time of 52.43 in the heats last night –today’s race was McKeon’s from the outset

And she hung on over the final 25 metres with Campbell throwing the grandstand at McKeon who held on to win a gripping finish in the highest calibre field of Olympians and new kids on the block.

Although the times were not quite as fast as last night’s heats today was all about getting up for a morning final and racing.

McKeon explained just what transpired after swimming the fastest qualifying tike in the 200m freestyle.

“My shoulder has just been a bit niggly and we wanted to get some good work in after this (for the Olympic Trials) and not to overdo it,” said McKeon had come off the NSW Championships (last month) after swimming 12 or 13 races in three days, admitting…..”and that was probably overdoing it.”

“I hate pulling out of races and I didn’t like watching the race. They swam so well the girls in that 200 and I don’t like watching the race and not being a part of it.

McKeon gave an insight into how she pieced together her 100m freestyle final and the second win of the season over Cate Campbell (the other in the NSW Championship).

“I have always mainly trained for the 200m free, and then come down to 100m. So to be getting those times, that gives me a lot of confidence. The more 52s I swim the more confident I’ll get,” McKeon said.


STROKE OF GENIUS: Cate Campbell shows a perfect recovery. Photo Courtesy:Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

Campbell, who posted the fastest time in the world for 2021 with last night’s 52.43 and the fastest time since 2019 said: “Coming into this competition I had four 100s until Olympic Trials and so it wasn’t so much about progressing from heats to finals, it was just about getting some good, solid racing in.

“Pushing my training and seeing where I was at, and so I’m really happy with the swim last night and pretty happy with this one this morning.


“It’ll really set me up for a good few weeks of training and then into Sydney Opens (in May) and then into Olympic trials.

“And whenever you swim fast in any swim you kind of sting a little bit so I knew that it would be a little bit tough coming into this morning but I’m happy with the race that I managed to put together. I’m sure that I’ll get the finer details when I have a chat to Simon later.”


THUMBS UP: Kaylee McKeown lands her first National 100m backstroke title. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

After taking home gold in the women’s 50m backstroke on Thursday morning, young USC Spartan, Kaylee McKeown, has backed up her performance on day three to claim her first 100m backstroke Australian title.
McKeown posted a time of 58.60, pipping 11-time winner of the event, 28-year-old never-say-die backstroking diva Emily Seebohm (Griffith Uni), who snared silver in 59.22. Seebohm’s fellow Griffith Uni evergreen training partner, Jessica Unicomb, followed for bronze in 1:01.32.


PUTTING THE PEDAL TO THE METAL: Rackley’s Tommy Neill back in the fast lane to capture his first Australian Open title in the 800m freestyle. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

This was a race nailed by 18-year-old Thomas Neill (Rackley) who smashed out a confidence-boosting 7:51.65 to claim his first national title ahead of Rio Olympian Jack McLoughlin (Chandler) (7:59.33) and Open Water specialist Nick Sloman (Noosa) (8:00.68). in the new Tokyo Olympic event.

The 2019 World Junior Championship silver medallist was elated with his performance, saying: “It’s really nice. You know, this meet is a stepping stone for all of us, heading towards June and trials, but it’s nice confidence wise to put a good time and a good race together.

“Racing these bigger boys and others, a lot more competition. There’s no age brackets, no excuses now. It’s just about getting up, not being afraid and trying to give it to them.”

With a world-class time of 2:07.20 it was UWA West Coast’s Brianna Throssell who powered home in the final 50m to win her first National title in the women’s 200m butterfly.

She is now ranked third in the world in 2021– valuable momentum ahead of Olympic trials in June with young gun Elizabeth Dekkers (Newmarket Racers) hot on her heels in 2:07.82 for silver, adding to her medal haul from last week’s Australian Age Championships where she set a new Australian and All Comers 16 years record. Commonwealth Games rep Meg Bailey (Hunter) – a silver medallist in the 400m individual medley – followed in 2:09.72 to take bronze.


FINE TUNA: The “Big Tuna” Kyle Chalmers flying offb the blocks at the Goild Coast Aquatic Centre. He was never headed. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

Going back-to-back-to-back and moving at a phenomenal pace, it was the Olympic Champion Kyle Chalmers (Marion) who charged home to triumph in the men’s 100m freestyle.

Clocking 48.04, ‘The Big Tuna” led all the way to beat Jack Cartwright (St Peters Western) and Louis Townsend (Rackley) who placed second and third respectively in 48.81 and 49.10.

The men’s 50m breaststroke was a fight to the finish between former World record holder over 200m Matthew Wilson (SOPAC) and Rio Olympian Jake Packard (USC Spartans). With 0.21 between them on the final touch – Wilson (27.55) who pulled ahead in the final metres to claim gold, with Packard (27.76) taking silver. Starplex SA’s James McKechnie claimed bronze 28.00.


CHELSEA’s ALL-COMERS: Southport’s own Chelsea Hodges shows her power stroke as she swims towards the Australian All-Comers record in the 50m breaststroke.Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

Backing up her impressive performance in the 100m breaststroke race yesterday, Southport’s Chelsea Hodges blitzed the field in the women’s 50m breaststroke to claim gold and her second Australian title. The 19-year-old touched the wall in 30.20 to break the Australian All Comers record previously set in 2011 by former Southport Olympic club member and two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Leiston Pickett with London Olympian Tessa Wallace (USC Spartans) (31.22) taking silver and Abbey Harkin (St Peters Western) (31.43) bronze.

Hometown favourite Tristan Hollard (Southport Olympic) hung on to claim the men’s 100m backstroke and his first Australian title in 54.83, with Brad Woodward (Mingara) and young gun Thomas Hauck (All Saints GC) claiming silver and bronze respectively, in 55.34 and 55.69.

TSS Aquatic’s Madeleine Gough went oh so close to 16 minutes – stopping the clock 16:00.18 after being pushed along by Tokyo Olympic Open Water qualifier Kareena Lee (Noosa) and TSS teammate Kiah Melverton who claimed silver and bronze respectively in 16:08.28 and 16:12.43.


WHAT A PICTURE: Bowen Gough flies to his first National crown in the 200m butterfly. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

It was a fight to the finish in the men’s 200m butterfly as Victorian Bowen Gough (Nunawading) claimed his first National title. After taking silver in 2019, Gough clocked a solid 1:57.08 – out touching his Nunawading teammate Matt Temple (1:57.92) with TSS Aquatic’s David Morgan (1:58.87) taking the bronze.