Campbell Sisters, Chalmers, Horton and McKeon Headline Olympic Who’s Who for NSW State Champs

18 May 2000: General view of a race start during the Telstra 2000 Olympic Selection Trials at the Sydney International Aquatic Centre, Homebush, Sydney, Australia. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wilson/ALLSPORT
POOL OF DREAMS: The Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre will be the centre of attention this weekend. Photo Courtesy SOPAC.

Campbell Sisters, Chalmers, Horton and McKeon Headline Olympic Who’s Who for NSW State Champs

Olympic gold medallists Kyle Chalmers, Mack Horton, the Campbell sisters Cate and Bronte and the unstoppable Emma McKeon will headline a host of Australian swimming’s biggest names who will return to Sydney for this weekend’s NSW State Open Swimming Championships.

In a classic case of deja-vu, Olympic hopefuls will return to the same pool deck they left 12 months ago when the doors were locked behind them on the final night of the 2020 Championships – with COVID 19 changing life as we knew it, forever.

A world thrust into a pandemic spiral that would eventually see the Tokyo Olympics postponed until 2021.

A life in and out of lockdowns, lines of testing, living in hope of a vaccine to cure the masses, saving lives and breathing life back into the Games.

For Australia’s elite swimmers these NSW Open State Championships will be collectively the biggest meet of the last 12 months – Chalmers will come from Adelaide, Horton from Melbourne, the Campbell girls will return to Sydney to re-unite with their Knox-Pymble Club mates and Wollongong’s “prodigal daughter” McKeon will be back where it all began.

swimming-australia-arena-cate-bronte-campbell

BACK ON DECK: Cate and Bronte Campbell will return to Sydney for this weekend’s NSW State Opens. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia.

In the countdown to Christmas and along with coach Simon Cusack and Paralympic golden girl Ellie Cole, Australia’s premier swimming sister act headed home to Brisbane and a safe haven against the pandemic.

They will be amongst 17 Olympians and a dozen Paralympians who have raced in Rio, London and Beijing and who will turn up the heat in a bid to make it to Tokyo against a host of new generation youngsters with nothing to lose.

And they’ll do it in Australia’s spiritual home of swimming – the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre, the celebrated hosts of Sydney 2000.

Welcome Back To The Pool Of Dreams

The NSW States is traditionally the meet where the big guns come out to play and 12 months ago in Sydney, it was Chalmers who produced some of his best performances since Rio as he plotted and powered his way towards a Tokyo assault under his Adelaide-based maestro Peter Bishop.

Kyle Chalmers mean look

THIS TIME LAST YEAR: Kyle Chalmers gets ready to race at last year’s NSW State Championships. Photo Courtesy: Anthony Burns APP

Chalmers returned home to South Australia and eventually disappeared with his “swag (sleeping bag)” and his footy and drove down the South Australian coast to spend time with his cousin in a sleepy fishing village.

With pools closed, he would arrange for the construction of a flume pool to be built on the side of his house so he could stay in touch with the water.

Shoulder issues would see him undergo surgery on the eve of the Queensland Championships in December – ending a year that he and his Dolphins team mates would rather forget.

But swimming competition is back in earnest and Chalmers will be front and centre for the morning finals format to mirror the Tokyo program and the action kick-starts with the opening heats session tomorrow (Thursday evening at 6pm AEDST).

The Olympic 100m champion – as he did last year – has entered the 100 and 200m freestyle and the 100m butterfly after doctors advised him not to race the Relay Blitz meet at the end of the National Event Camp in February on the Gold Coast.

But he had snuck in an eye-catching 48.55 relay split for his cub side Marion at the South Australian State Championships which gave him a confidence boost.

clyde-lewis-australia-200-im-2018-commonwealth-games

AND FOR MY NEXT ASSIGNMENT?  Clyde Lewis ready for a new assignment with Bond University. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr/Swimming Australia Ltd.

The men’s freestyle events – starting with the 100m will see Chalmers up against fellow Rio relay bronze medallist and 2015 World Championship silver medallist Cam McEvoy and 2019 World Championship relay gold medallists Clyde Lewis and Alex Graham –now club mates at Bond University after Lewis left St Peters Western to join Richard Scarce at Bond University.

And also lining up in every freestyle event from 50 to 800m will be former Bond University Commonwealth Games gold medallist Elijah Winnington who late last year actually left long-time coach Richard Scarce to join Dean Boxall at St Peters.

Throw in Commonwealth Games relay gold medallist Jack Cartwright (St Peters Western) into the 100m fray with all apart from McEvoy into the 200m and it will be “Mini Trials” material.

The women’s freestyle sprint events will see the Campbell girls up against fellow Olympic relay gold medallist McKeon, former world championship backstroke medallist, Rio Olympian and Gwangju sensation Madi Wilson, who has found a new lease of life under Bishop.

SPW young gun Meg Harris will add her youthful exuberance to what will be an exciting final to be in and watch.

Golden smile from TSS Aquatic's Kiah Melverton and a hug for silver medal winning teammate Moesha Johnson.

IRONWOMAN OF THE POOL: Kiah Melverton entered in every freestyle event from 100 to 1500m. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

They will be joined in the 100 and 200m by TSS “iron woman of the pool” Kiah Melverton – who will contest every freestyle event from 100 to 1500m

The women’s middle distance and distance events will only be missing SPW’s 400m freestyle world champion Ariarne Titmus, who remains on the recovery and rehab trail after her shoulder issues.

Melverton will be joined over 400 and 800m by training partners Maddy Gough and last week’s Australian 5km champion Moesha Johnson and newly arrived to the Gold Coast, triple Fina World Junior Champion Lani Pallister, now at Griffith University – under the watchful eyes of not only her mother and coach Janelle Pallister but head coach Michael Bohl.

Add in the improving talents of Chris Mooney-coached USC Spartans pair Phoebe Hines (200-1500) and Dahlas Rogers and (100-800) and there will be some interesting battles all round.

Then there’s the backstroking women, triple Olympian Emily Seebohm up against the girls most-likely – world short course record holders Kaylee McKeown and Minna Atherton – where anything is possible.

W 200bk medallists copy Minna Atherton (L), Kaylee McKeown (C) Emily Seebohm (R)

BACKS TO THE WALL: Australia’s backstroking divas Minna Atherton, Kaylee McKeown and Emily Seebohm pictured in Sydney last year. Photo Courtesy: Anthony Burns APP

McKeown has been the talk of the town all summer with her stunning record-breaking charge through the short course and long course books – with her world record over 200m backstroke making her the fourth Australian behind Cate Campbell (100m freestyle), Atherton (100m backstroke) and Titmus (400m freestyle) as current SC world record holders.

The backstroke girls and the male and female sprinters over 100m freestyle will all feature on the opening day’s preliminaries with Olympic champion Horton up first in his pet 400m freestyle against an exuberant Winnington, now under Boxall at St Peters Western – who has always swum well in Sydney.

And it could well be a timely return to the “Pool of Dreams” in the countdown to what will be one of the most competitive Olympic Trials on record in Adelaide from June 12-17.

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Verram

    Really looking forward to this meet .. times will be interesting

    I wonder if Mitch Larkin is also swimming ?

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