After the Commonwealth Games, Australian women command all squadrons

After the Commonwealth Games, Australian women command all squadrons

After the Commonwealth Games, Australian women command all three squadrons

A year ago, Australia’s women dominated the Olympics. The swimming-obsessed nation had only won a single women’s gold medal in both London and Rio, however The Aryans Titus, Kaylee McKeown and Emma McKeon led an Aussie revival in Tokyo, a feat that was accompanied by gold medals in the 400 freestyle and 400 medley relays. As a result, Titmus and McKeon skipped the 2022 World Championships, but with a full-strength squad almost restored, Australia crushed the field in the women’s races at the Commonwealth Games.

Now, a year into that abridged three-year cycle culminating in the Paris Olympics, the Aussies are the team to beat. This includes individual events where Mollie O’Callaghan is a rising star alongside the tokyo golden trio and also in seasons. That’s right: the most prestigious events in women’s swimming are held across Australia.

Of course, the 400 free season has been all of Australia for many years. The last time Australia didn’t win a global title at this event was in 2017 when the United States defeated an Australian group missing sprint star Kate Campbell by only three tenths. At this year’s World Championships, Australia was missing three of the four swimmers from last year’s Olympic gold medalist and world-record squad, and the result was the same: gold by more than a second. And that was without McKeon, who broke at the Commonwealth Games with a 51.88.

Simply put, there is no predictable scenario where any of the other medalists from Budapest can catch up with Australia. A Canadian team from penny Oleksiak, Taylor shock, Maggie MacNeil and Summer McIntosh? An American squad passed by interruption Rememberwho broke 53 in the 100 Free for the first time that year and won bronze at the World Championships, and a fellow teenager Claire Curzan? They’re good teams but no game for an Aussie squad led by McKeon and the swimmers who finished first and second in the world at this year’s 100 Free, teenage world champion O’Callaghan and the resurgent shayna Jack – and it’s really hard to imagine that this landscape changed in the two short years leading up to Paris.

As for the 800m free relay, Australia entered the Tokyo games as big favorites with a quartet led by Titmus, but in one of the biggest upsets of the Olympics, China took the win, followed by the US and then Australia. At this year’s World Championships, Australia were favorites again without Titmus, but this time it was the Americans who were fueled by them Katie Ledeckys usual excellence and an out-of-body anchor split off bella simswho won gold.

Then Australia set the world record at the Commonwealth Games, the first-ever relay under 7:40 – the swim that Australian women were fully capable of a year earlier in Tokyo. This time, madison Wilson, whoa Melverton and O’Callaghan set it up, and Titmus finished with the fastest split in history. The time was two seconds faster than the Americans’ performance in Budapest.

Unlike the 400 Free Relay, however, this one is not insurmountable and the nation best equipped to hunt down Australia is once again the USA, with Ledecky at the helm and a cohort of teenagers making great strides in the Show 200 free relay. These include Sims, Claire Weinstein, Katie Grimes and Erin Gemell, who entered the top 10 in the world in the 200 Free at last week’s US Nationals. Canada, led by the fast-improving McIntosh, and China with 200 free world champions the Junxuan players remain in the squad.

It’s worth noting that Australia’s track record of consistent performances in the longer free season isn’t great (think Tokyo again), leaving a glimmer of hope for the pursuers. But it’s hard to argue with a day-old world record.

Finally, the medley relay, where the US has won its last three world titles but Australia won Olympic gold by just 0.13 points in Tokyo last year. This year’s showdown in Budapest went to the United States by half a second, but that was without McKeon holding down her usual butterfly leg. Add in their split of 56.59 in a win in Birmingham and the result is different.

Perhaps the medley relay is best described as a toss-up, with plenty of qualifiers to declare each country the favourite. For example, Americans lacked the usual breaststroke pop that year Lilly king fought at the World Championships, but for Australia McKeown never came within a second of her 100-year world record at any of the championship events over the summer. On the other hand, Huske’s US medley relay butterfly leg was more than a second slower than her individual 100 fly performance.

This back and forth could go on all day. But this is the weakest of the three women’s relays of Australia and the best of the American teams.

Of course, all events are important, but squadrons mean a little something extra. A tremendous relay performance is electrifying for any team, from an Olympic team or an elite college roster to a high school or summer league team, and a relay flop is equally draining. Accordingly, the top priority for the USA in the run-up to Paris? “We’re going to try and focus on how we can make our men and women faster in these relays,” said the US national team executive director Lindsay Mintenko said. “That will be a big focus for us.”

And certainly it didn’t sit well for the USA to be disqualified from the women’s relay gold medals in Tokyo, even if all the swimmers performed admirably in the relay finals. But for now, Australia is in the driver’s seat, leaving the Commonwealth Games in an enviable position at the premier women’s swimming event.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.