Rising Star Flynn Southam Claims Top Seed in 100 Freestyle at Australian Championships; Kaylee McKeown on Cruise Control

Flynn Southam 2

Rising Star Flynn Southam Claims Top Seed in 100 Freestyle at Aussie Champs; Kaylee McKeown on Cruise Control

Much has been made of the talent of Australian 16-year-old Flynn Southam, with the country hoping he is the next star from Down Under. On Saturday morning, during the Day Four preliminaries at the Australian Championships in Adelaide, Southam claimed a share of the top seed in the 100-meter freestyle – setting the stage for a national-title pursuit during finals.

Posting a time of 48.62, Southam tied William Yang for the quickest effort of the morning and was just .02 off his personal best from earlier this year. Due to his precocious skill, Southam has been compared to the likes of Australian stars Kyle Chalmers and Ian Thorpe, and is quickly etching himself as an athlete capable of joining fellow teen freestylers David Popovici and Sunwoo Hwang as international factors.

In the 200 freestyle earlier in the week, Southam placed fourth to secure a relay spot at next month’s World Championships in Budapest. Now, he is seeking an individual berth. Southam and Yang were followed in qualifying by Jack Cartwright, who touched the wall in 48.66. Zac Incerti (49.07) and Matt Temple (49.31) were fourth and fifth.

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The 100 freestyle is unfolding without Chalmers, who decided to skip his prime event this week and focus on the butterfly events. The 2016 Olympic champion and the silver medalist at last summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Chalmers has received a wildcard bid to the Commonwealth Games, where he’ll headline the Aussie contingent. He is contemplating a reversal of his initial decision to bypass the World Championships, but if he goes to Budapest, it will be for work only in the butterfly.

Cruise control was the theme in the women’s 200 backstroke, where Kaylee McKeown and Mollie O’Callaghan expended minimal energy on the way to the first and third-fastest times of the morning. The reigning Olympic champion, McKeown covered her four lengths in 2:11.57, more than a second quicker than the 2:13.05 of Tahlia Thornton. McKeown is seeking her third victory of the meet, having already won the 400 individual medley and 100 backstroke.

The 18-year-old O’Callaghan put together an effort of 2:13.17 to position herself for another final in Adelaide. O’Callaghan has already won the 100 freestyle and 50 backstroke, in addition to placing second in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke. Out of St. Peters Western, O’Callaghan will have ample options for the World Championships in Budapest but will likely need to trim her program to make it manageable.

Olympic bronze medalist Brendon Smith eased to the top seed in the 400 individual medley behind a time of 4:21.86. Smith is chasing a medley double after earlier prevailing in the 200 medley. He was followed in qualifying by Kieren Pollard (4:22.40) and Se-Bom Lee (4:22.73).

Bowen Gough and Charlie Hawke were the only swimmers under two minutes in the men’s 200 butterfly, with Gough leading the way in 1:58.74. Hawke was just behind in 1:58.89, followed by David Morgan (2:00.25). Meanwhile, in the women’s 50 butterfly, Alexandria Perkins topped the field in prelims with a mark of 26.45.

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Aussie Richie
5 days ago

As a proud Australian and a swimming nuffie the emergence of another Aussie Freestyle star is music to my ears. Since Thorpe the Freestyle cupboard has been fairly bare. Flynn Southam’s 200Free at the Australian Age Champs was less than a second outside Thorpes time at same age. It immediately made people take notice and earned the 16 year old South Aussie a relay spot at the World Champs. His 100Free time at the Age Champs was also quick. Unsure whether Southam’s coach Dean Boxall will concentrate on the 400Free in the future. Be interesting if he does and drops the 100..as then he will swim the same disciplines that the great Thorpe did.

Last edited 5 days ago by cwil1952
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