The Next Ian Thorpe or Kyle Chalmers? Aussie Flynn Southam a Surging Young Talent

FLYNN SOUTHAM
PROWLING THE POOL DECK: Bond University's Flynn Southam puts the bite on the big boys at the Queensland State Short Course. Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

The Next Ian Thorpe or Kyle Chalmers? Aussie Flynn Southam a Surging Young Talent

Bond University Swimming’s 16-year-old Flynn Southam has eclipsed the times swum by Olympic champions Kyle Chalmers and Ian Thorpe in an impressive record breaking weekend of racing at the Queensland State Short Course Swimming Championships at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre.

With the majority of the Queensland Olympians either just resuming training or swimming in the International Swimming League in Naples, teenagers in awe of their heroes who produced Australia’s best ever Olympic performances in Tokyo were itching to break loose.

Youngsters with their eyes on Paris, LA and Brisbane were chomping at the blocks to race after their competition schedule had been cancelled due to Covid closures.

Flynn Southam 2

BREAKING OUT: Teenager Flynn Southam stepping up to Open company.  Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

With three years left as an age grouper, Southam stepped up to win his first State Open title in the 100m freestyle in a sizzling 48.05.

It was a time faster than both Chalmers and Thorpe had swum at the same age, breaking the Queensland Age Group records in both the 50 and 100m freestyle events.

Two years before Chalmers won Olympic gold in Rio, he had clocked 48.65 at the 2014 Australian Short Course Championships in Canberra and Thorpe swam 48.98 in 1999 – the year he re-wrote the world long course records over 200 and 400m freestyle – 12 months after his breakthrough World Championship win and 12 months before his triumphant Sydney Olympics.

Southam, coached by Kyle Samuelson in a Bond program that will see gold medal winning Tokyo Olympic coach Chris Mooney take over as head coach next month, almost negative split his 48.05 (24.01/24.04) in an eye-catching display of even split swimming.

In an impressive strategy, eight others swimmers in the open 100m freestyle all clocked sub 24 seconds for their opening 50m split – but none of them came back in 24 seconds either – let alone powering home Southam style over his final 25m in under 12 seconds (11.84).

Southam’s 100m time smashed Brayden McCarthy’s long standing 2014 Queensland Age Group mark for 16-year-olds of 48.99 and Beijing Olympian Kenrick Monk’s 2008 Queensland All-Comers record of 49.49.

But even more impressive was the fact that just 30 minutes earlier he had negative split his Open 100m backstroke, clocking 53.62 (27.46/26.16) to finish third to 24-year-old Tom Jeffries (Rackley) 53.33 and 18-year-old Thomas Hauck (All Saints) 53.60.

And he had also earlier in the day clocked 24.35 in the open 50m butterfly.

Not to be satisfied with the 100m, young Southam then set his sights on the 50m freestyle as well, where he finished second to Somerset’s Thomas Nowakowski clocking 22.29 to Nowakowski’s 22.20 with his team mate Andrew Newling third in 22.30.

Southam’s time broke the Queensland record of 22.43 set by Tokyo Olympian Isaac Cooper in 2020 and the All Comers mark of 22.31 set by New Zealand World Championship representative Michael Pickett from 2018.

Kyle Samuelson

OH YEAH: Bond University coach Kyle Samuelson can’t stop watching Flynn Southam. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Here, his astute coach Kyle Samuelson gives an insight into Southam’s break through weekend as he makes the move into the open ranks.

“Flynn (like so many others) didn’t get a chance to race at the Junior Worlds and then the Junior Worlds v World University Team was also cancelled so he has been wanting to race for a little while,” said Samuelson.

“His 48.05 in the 100m freestyle after a 53.62 (27.46/26.16) negative split in the 100m backstroke and the ‘fly in the morning – (collectively) that’s probably more impressive than any one of those swims individually.

“He’s certainly swimming well, he’s very efficient and he’s happy with where’s he’s at the moment.

“We do quite a bit of even split and negative split work, so the goal in the 100m freestyle was to come back in 24 seconds but I don’t think he anticipated 24-low; we were maybe looking to be just under 24 going out and then 24 on the way back.

“It was pretty close; he was flying down the final lap and we’ve worked hard on his skills and he has been really focused on that.

“It was good for him to race short course and try and put (those skills) into practice.

“He will still do a bit of age group swimming but we are definitely looking more towards the Opens now and that was the start of it on the weekend, entering in the open events.

“He’s excited and still finding his feet around those guys and I don’t think it will take long to adjust to it and I think the weekend will help him with that.

“Being selected to be part of the pre-Olympic relay meet was a good shot in the arm for Flynn and it’s all part of our work in progress for him to understand that he can mix it with those guys as well.

“That will help the cause on the weekend too to know that he is on the right track and that’s where he needs to be if he’s going to make senior teams, you need to race in the opens.”

But Southam had some good company in the record breaking stakes with Southport Olympic’s Yannick Zwolsman taking down Tokyo gold medallist Zac Stubblety-Cook’s 17 years State 100m breaststroke record, narrowly missing his 200m mark and set a new State All-Comers record in the 50m breaststroke.

Training under Sean Eels at the Southport Olympic program, Zwolsman clocked 59.52 to take down Stubblety Cook’s 2016 mark of 1:00.22 and in an equally impressive performance he only just missed the Olympic champion’s 200m mark of 2:07.86, stopping the clock at 2:07.97 but grabbed the 50m Queensland State 17 years record in 27.99 which also saw visiting Knox Pymble NSW’s Joshua Collett win the event in in an impressive 27.43.

Meanwhile in other swims: St Peters Western’s Kai Taylor set a new Queensland 17 years record in the 50m freestyle, clocking 22.58, talking 0.12 off Jamie Jack’s 2018 mark of 22.70 while clocking 47.94 in the 100m and 1:47.64 behind Thomas Hauck’s 1:46.99 in the 200m.

Cotton Tree’s Jamie Perkins established a new 16 Years State All-Comers mark of 8:25.69 in the 800m freestyle.

And Southam’s 14-year-old Bond team mate Milla Jansen, under the club’s National Pathway’s coach Zander Hey, wasn’t that far away from the Queensland records held by two-time Olympic relay gold medallist Brittany Elmslie and Commonwealth Games relay gold medallist Shayna Jack.

Jansen swam 55.11 (26.90/28.21), just outside Elmslie’s Queensland State 14 Years Age mark of 54.69 and Jack’s All-Comers time of 54.70.

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