World Championships: Mollie O’Callaghan Goes From Last to First to Clinch Top Seed in 100 Free Semifinals

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Mollie O'Callaghan -- Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr/Swimming Australia

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World Championships: Mollie O’Callaghan Goes From Last to First to Clinch Top Seed in 100 Free Semifinals

At the halfway point of the second semifinal of the women’s 100 freestyle, Australia’s Mollie O’Callaghan was in last place, eighth out of eight swimmers at 26.42, while Torri Huske was about nine tenths ahead of her. But then, O’Callaghan turned on the jets and flipped the script. O’Callaghan finished in 26.43, just one hundredth behind her outgoing split. The 18-year-old holds the top time in the world this year in the 100 free at 52.49, and she will go into the final as the favorite and top seed.

O’Callaghan posted a time of in 52.85, and she will try to add to her medal collection in the final. She already captured gold in the women’s 400 freestyle relay as she led off Australia’s squad, and she earned a silver medal behind China’s Yang Junxuan in the 200 free. O’Callaghan will aim for a third medal in the 800 free relay later in the session, and she will have two more medal chances in relays later in the week (mixed 400 free relay and women’s 400 medley relay).

Meanwhile, world-record holder Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden won the first semifinal heat in 53.02, good enough for No. 2 overall going into the final. Huske was third overall in 53.04 after she swam a time of 52.96 leading off the U.S. women’s 400 freestyle relay Saturday to become the first non-Australian to break 53 this year. Canada’s Penny Oleksiak, who tied for gold in this event at the 2016 Olympics and placed fourth in Tokyo, qualified fourth in 53.18.

China’s Cheng Yujie (53.36), Canada’s Kayla Sanchez (53.61), the USA’s Claire Curzan (53.62) and France’s Marie Wattel (53.82) also qualified for the final.

O’Callaghan was the lone Aussie representative in the semifinals after Shayna Jack, the No. 2-ranked swimmer in the world in the event behind O’Callaghan, withdrew from the prelims after suffering a broken hand in warmups Wednesday morning.

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