Kaylee McKeown Tops Prelims in 400 IM at Australian Championships; Zac Stubblety-Cook Cruises in 200 Breast

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Before Backstroke Assault, Kaylee McKeown Tops Prelims in 400 IM at Australian Championships

At last summer’s Olympic Games, Australian Kaylee McKeown etched herself as a double-Olympic champion in the backstroke events. En route to that status, McKeown skipped the individual medley disciplines, where she also would have been a medal contender. At least for this summer, it looks like McKeown has plans on attacking the medley events on the international stage.

On the second morning of the Australian Championships in Adelaide, McKeown advanced to the final of the 400 individual medley as the top seed. Touching the wall in 4:42.40, McKeown moved through her eight laps with much in reserve, setting herself up for a big drop during finals. McKeown finished ahead of Jenna Forrester (4:43.02) and New Zealand’s Mya Rasmussen, who went 4:43.07. During the final, it will be McKeown vs. the clock.

Following the final of the 400 medley, McKeown will turn to the 100 backstroke, 200 back and 200 individual medley, all events where she will be the overwhelming favorite. The 20-year-old is expected at both the World Championships and Commonwealth Games during the summer, a double that will not be embraced by several big-name Aussies – notably Emma McKeon, Kyle Chalmers and Ariarne Titmus. That trio has opted to skip Worlds and emphasize the Commonwealth Games.

Live Results

Olympic 200 breaststroke champion Zac Stubblety-Cook had no trouble cruising into the final as the man to beat. Stubblety-Cook went an easy 2:10.14 to finish more than a second in front of Joshua Yong, who was timed in 2:11.69. The third seed went to Matthew Wilson in 2:12.07.

Coming off a victory in the 100 freestyle, thanks to a 52-mid showing, Mollie O’Callaghan put up a swim of 27.80 in the 50 backstroke that was good for the fastest time of the morning. The 18-year-old is best known for her prowess in the 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle, but O’Callaghan is also gifted in the backstroke, and this week might reveal just how skilled she is. Madison Wilson was second in 28.25.

A superb battle is set in the men’s 200 freestyle, where Zac Incerti paced the prelims in 1:46.84, the only sub-1:47 effort of the morning. Incerti was followed by Flynn Southam, the 16-year-old rising star who figures to be a future pillar for Australian swimming. Southam checked in at 1:47.39, with Charlie Hawke (1:47.56) and Elijah Winnington (1:47.60) taking third and fourth. Mack Horton (1:47.80) and Sam Short (1:47.85) were also under 1:48, with Matt Temple clocking 1:48.30 on the heels of his victory in the 100 butterfly.

One day after finishing second in the 100 butterfly, Chalmers posted the fastest qualifying time in the 50 fly, going 23.42 for a comfortable margin over Isaac Cooper (23.74). Chalmers is racing at the Australian Championships in only the butterfly events, having opted to bypass the freestyle events and the upcoming World Championships in Budapest. Chalmers has decided to focus on the Commonwealth Games, to which he has earned a wildcard invitation. Qualifying fifth was Cody Simpson, the pop star who returned to the sport two years ago and is likely headed to the World Champs in the 100 butterfly after a third-place finish.

With McKeon sitting out the Aussie Champs, the women’s 100 butterfly was opened up, and Brianna Throssell took advantage of the opportunity. The 26-year-old claimed the top seed off a prelims performance of 58.25, which was followed by the 58.69 of Alexandria Perkins. Advancing in the No. 3 spot was Gemma Cooney (59.15).

Chelsea Hodges easily topped the field in the 50 breaststroke, as her mark of 30.22 was nearly a second faster than the 31.14 of Jenna Strauch.

 

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