Cameron McEvoy has taken just 47.91 seconds to signal his return to the top of the world rankings after winning his fourth straight 100m freestyle crown in front of a deafening crowd on the fourth night of the Australian Championships at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre.
It may only be April and the rest of the world is yet to show its hands but Wednesday night’s win and the sub 48 secs time will be a huge confidence booster for the man who went into last year’s Olympics as the world’s number one and returned with no cigar.
It was an aggressive, then controlled McEvoy who “got the job done” after winning the 50m freestyle on the opening night and showing he could recover from the disappointment of his fifth place finish in the 200m free to nail his signature event.
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And to keep Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers 48.43 and rising stars Jack Cartwright 48.43 and Zac Incerti 49.03 at bay in what is looming as an exciting new era for Australia’s sprinters.
McEvoy, Chalmers and Cartwright all swam under the World Championship qualifying time and with Incerti and fifth place getter, Alexander Graham 49.19, they will form a new-look 4x100m freestyle relay team leading in Tokyo 2020.
McEvoy did what he does best and led from the front to turn at the 50m mark in a slick 22.73 and on the way home skipped ahead and held off the challengers in a frantic finish.
There was a huge build up to this race in the media and on the television broadcast and McEvoy admitted he handled the hype well and was excited and ready to take the next steps towards a solid preparation for the World Championships in Budapest in July.
“In a blunt sort of way I got the job done; it is now time to focus on getting back in the pool, getting into the gym and lifting some heavy weights to help me over the final 25m so I can focus on the worlds and to get excited for it,” said McEvoy.
“I knew I could get out there for the first 75 metres and it was just a matter of hanging on for the last 25.
“Looking back over the week and what happened it the 200m I knew the training I had done would be more beneficial for the sprints but I now have to focus on the areas to improve on.”
It was a magical moment for Cartwright – the boy from Gladstone – who has raced Chalmers all through his age group days and says he is ready to step up with the big boys.
“To swim two PB’s in one day is amazing and I just knew I had to have a go and that’s what I did,” said Cartwright, who praised coach Dean Boxall – who is also coaching 800m freestyle winner Ariarne Titmus and dual medley winner Clyde Lewis, who held on to add the 400IM to his 200IM win earlier in the week.
Meanwhile the women’s 200m backstroke final was a historic moment for Emily Seebohm who picked up the 20th National title in a time of 2:07.03.
The win tonight saw Seebohm repeat her 100, 200 backstroke double from 2016 while the time was quick enough to qualify automatically for the event at the World Championships.
Rising star and Junior Pan Pac representative, Kaylee McKeon was a surprise qualifier in this event as she stormed home in the final 50 metres to sneak into second place and gain selection for her first senior Australian Team.
At just 15-years-of-age Kaylee, who is the younger sister of Olympic breaststroker Taylor McKeown, clocked an impressive 2:08.98 to secure the silver medal and a plane ticket to Budapest.
The bronze medal went to a determined Hayley Baker in 2:09.26.
“I went in to the race with an open mind and I can always see the girls next to me and I saw Emily (Seebohm) and Amy (Forrester) out of the corner of my eye,” said McKeown, a Year 11 student at the Pacific Lutheran College on the Sunshine Coast.
“When it came to that last lap (I said to myself) do whatever you can, do whatever you’ve got left and that’s what I did and it got me the result.
“Taylor and I are always joking around, saying wouldn’t it be amazing to be on the team together and now it’s actually happening, it’s a reality she has always been supporting me, saying we can do it.”
The McKeowns will now follow in the footsteps of the Campbell sisters and will join the McKeon siblings Emma and David McKeon on World team.
Earlier Kaylee’s sister Taylor confirmed her rating as Australia’s premier female breaststroker, winning her third 200m breaststroke National title in four years in 2:23.58.
It completed her first ever 100-200m breaststroke double after her victory on the opening night in the 100m.
The silver medal went to London Olympian Tessa Wallace in 2:25.45 with Jessica Hansen third in 2:30.62.
After narrowly missing out on a qualifying time in the men’s 100m butterfly earlier this week, Rio Olympian David Morgan, who trains at TSS Aquatic, left nothing to chance in the 200 butterfly tonight.
Morgan fought the whole way to the wall and after holding off a fast finishing Rio teammate Grant Irvine, he touched first in a time of 1:55.70, securing his place on the team, also defending his double butterfly crown.
Fellow Olympic teammate Irvine picked up the silver medal and narrowly missed out on qualification with his time of 1:56.05 with Nicholas Brown 1:58.43 rounding out the top three.
In one of the highlight’s of the night, Rio Paralympian Rachael Watson set the Brisbane Aquatic Centre alight for the second time today, clocking another S4 World Record in the women’s 50m freestyle Multi Class in a time of 37.87.
“Breaking the record on home ground in front of my family and friends is amazing,” Watson said.
She was joined on the podium by her Paralympic teammates Lakeisha Patterson in silver with a time of 30.34 and Maddison Elliott bronze in 30.36.
With his family and friends watching on from the crowd, Daniel Fox was victorious in the men’s 50m freestyle Multi Class in a time of 24.76 for a total of 975 points. The silver medal went to Mitchell Killduff while Rowan Crothers took the bronze.
After securing silver in the 50m freestyle earlier in the night, Patterson was back in the water for the women’s 200m individual medley Multi Class and this time upgraded to gold. Patterson hit the wall in 2:43.59 to get the better of Tiffany Thomas Kane 3:10.53 and Katherine Downey 2:35.44.
Matthew Levy, who set a world record in the 200m freestyle earlier in the week continued his fine form, taking the win in the Men’s 200m individual medley Multi Class in 2:37.58 ahead of Timothy Disken (2:19.78) and Timothy Hodge in 2:21.00.
Heats will commence at 11:00am AEST on Thursday.