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Youth Tops Experience; Trickett In, Klim Out

Mar 20, 2012  - Craig Lord

Australian Olympic Trials, Adelaide, Day 6 finals and semis: 

As Melanie Schlanger and Cate Campbell become the latest to add their names to the Aussie roster for London 2012, the comeback count read well for Geoff Huegill (into 100m 'fly final) and Libby Trickett (5th in 100m free for a relay ticket) but there will be no Games follow-up for Michael Klim and Adam Pine.

After thanking all those who have supported him, Klim, 14th in the 100m butterfly semis, announced his second retirement from the sport. "I've had a pretty eventful 18 months, I had a crack again, but pulled up short," Klim told reporters.  "That was my last swim I think, that's pretty much it. That was my swansong."

No disgrace. Time moves on: just look at what it took to make the 100m butterfly final, a domestic eight with only one man outside 53sec. Today was a triumph of youth over experience at trials in Adelaide, Australia having built a new generation on the foundation built by those whose peak performances in the pool are behind them. Even those who have made the grade once more have struggled, Leisel Jones missing the cut in the 200m breaststroke today.

No better view of the 2012 firepower at the crest of the new wave than in the semi-final of the 50m free: James Missile Magnussen fired again the day after that 100m 47.10 shockwave, his 21.88 granting him lane 4 for the final tomorrow, with Eamon Sullivan on 21.88 for lane 5, Matt Abood the other side of centre on 21.92, followed by Cameron McEvoy, Andrew Abood, James Roberts, Cameron Prosser and Matt Targett through twixt 22.32 and 22.54.

Magnussen's effort is the best by an Australian in textile by 0.11sec, while all three of the best in semis cracked the 21.98 at which Matt Targett had become best Dolphin ever in textile in January this year. The Missile arrived at trials with a best of 22.41. This morning in Adelaide he shaved that back to 22.19 in heats. Now 21.87. Expect more in the final. The Australian record stands to Ashley Callus at 21.19 from a time when swimming was sunk by suits that created a different sport. 

Meantime, the Magnussen camp at the SOPAC squad under the guidance of coach Brant Best in Sydney, celebrated two London 2012 tickets in one race after Daniel Tranter, 20, crushed his opponents on breaststroke on the way to a 1:58.19 victory ahead of training partner Jayden Hadler, 18, on 1:58.99. Tranter's time set an Australian textile-suit record by a second.

In the men's 200m backstroke, Mitch Larkin and Matson Lawson ensured a changing of the guard, Larkin taking the first Olympic ticket in 1:57.90, fourth best in the world so far this year.

There were tickets too for Tessa Wallace, 18, and Sally Foster in the 200m breaststroke, their respective efforts of 2:26.31 and 2:26.51 locking out 16-year-old Taylor McKeown, on 2:26.90, and ending the days of Leisel Jones as an Olympic 200m breaststroke swimmer, the fastest women ever in a textile suit on 2:27.62 some 7sec down on her peak in a week that saw her become the first Australian swimmer to make it to four Olympic Games. Off the boil but still good enough for the cut in the 100m, Jones arrived at trials on a diet of antibiotics, illness all the more telling over 200m.

Race reports

Women's 100m freestyle

Melanie Schlanger, coached by Glenn Baker at Southport Olympic, claimed victory as the only sub-54sec performer in a nervy sprint final, her 53.85 ahead of Cate Campbell, on 54.01, those two taking the solo berths for Australia.

The relay will include Brittany Elmslie, 17, and Yolane Kukla, 16, both on 54.08. In fifth, a comeback success, Libby Trickett on 54.21. No solo appearance at London 2012 so far, with the 50m free still to come, but make it back to the big time she has. 

Behind Trickett was Commonwealth champion Alicia Coutts, on 54.25, which locked out Emma McKeon, 54.35, and Emily Seebohm, on 54.89, after 54.49 in semis. The depth in Australian sprint is truly impressive but to be up there at the pointy end in London this year will take much more than anywhere near the 54 mark.

The splits: 

  • Schlanger 26.02        53.85 (27.83)
  • Campbell  25.52        54.01 (28.49)
  • Elmslie   26.12          54.08 (27.96)
  • Kukla     25.61          54.08 (28.47)
  • Trickett  25.92          54.21 (28.29)
  • Coutts    26.26           54.25 (27.99)
  • McKeon    26.14        54.35 (28.21)
  • Seebohm   26.35        54.89 (28.54)

With a few months left to get even sharper, Trickett's presence will put a smile on the face of Australian selectors who need someone in their relay who can challenge 53. She has been inside 53sec eight times, the slowest of those efforts, a 52.99 the only one swum in a textile-only suit and in conditions that disqualified the moment from making history. In the week after the then Libby Lenton had emerged from the Melbourne 2007 world championships the star of the women's show alongside France's Laure Manaudou, she raced in a lane next to Michael Phelps leading off a mixed 4x100m free relay at the Duel in the Pool in Sydney. 

Her 52.99 split was the first inside 53sec by a woman but FINA rules were not observed in that the mixed relay is not an official event. There is talk of it becoming so, even though it would not make the Olympic pool without a traditional event being dropped were the idea ever to take flight - and at world championships it would simply swell what is already a full eight-day programme.

Trickett, Phelps and Co left the Duel in 2007 for some suit testing moments down in Canberra in April 2007. What followed was the LZR Racer and all that followed. Much water in the wash since. 

On her comeback, Trickett told reporters in Adelaide: "This whole journey for me has been probably more challenging emotionally and spiritually and mentally than it has been physically. I got through this whole two years with my family and my friends and (husband) Luke, and I get to the share that with them now … I'm just so over the moon that I have the opportunity to represent my country at a third Olympic Games."

The 27-year-old bucked the comeback trend and pointed to one of the reasons why when she said: "I'm a different athlete and a different person. Thorpey was out for six years, Klimmy was out for four or five years, I was only out for 18 months max. I've probably given myself enough time to prepare for this meet and we're all different athletes so I can't necessarily take their results as what's going to be inevitable for me.

"I really felt for Thorpie and Klimmy. Klimmy still has another event but, particularly for Thorpie he's a true champion in every sense of the world so it's great to hear he's planning on continuing."

Olympic Season Takes Shape - 2012 top 5 (two per nation):

  • 53.05 Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 
  • 53.30 Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED)
  • 53.57 Francesca Halsall (GBR)
  • 53.74 Melanie Schlanger (AUS)
  • 53.84 Cate Campbell (AUS)
  • 54.01 Amy Smith (GBR)

Sjostrom's effort, the fastest ever in a textile suit, was clocked in Eindhoven in December 2011.

Men's 200m backstroke

The teenagers had it again. Mitch Larkin, an 18-year-old coached by Michael Bohl at St Peters Western, came from fourth to gold in 1:57.90 after the half-way mark to take the first London 2012 ticket ahead of 19-year-old Matson Lawson, on 1:58.32. 

That locked out Lawson's Tigersharks club mate, fellow 19-year-old Joshua Beaver, on 1:58.58, with the experienced Ashley Delaney and 100m winner Hayden Stoeckel unable to cope with youth on the day, with respective efforts of 1:58.87 and 1:59.10.

The splits:

  • Larkin     28.15        58.06 (29.91) 1:28.22 (30.16)     1:57.90 (29.68)
  • Lawson   27.75        57.64 (29.89) 1:28.07 (30.43)     1:58.32 (30.25)
  • Beaver    27.76        58.27 (30.51) 1:28.63 (30.36)     1:58.58 (29.95)
  • Delaney  27.56        57.44 (29.88) 1:27.68 (30.24)     1:58.87 (31.19)
  • Stoeckel  27.93        57.89 (29.96) 1:29.23 (31.34)     1:59.01 (29.78)

The times are well off the pace of what it will take to make the London 2012 podium but then much can happen in the lives of 18 and 19-year-olds between March trials and the bloom of July and August.

Olympic Season Takes Shape - 2012 top 5 (two per nation):

  • 1:54.02 Ryosuke Irie (JPN) 
  • 1:57.59 Matt Grevers (USA) 
  • 1:57.85 Sebastiano Ranfagni (ITA)
  • 1:57.90 Mitch Larkin (AUS)
  • 1:58.32 Matson Lawson (AUS)

The top two made it to the early top 5 in the world today

Women's 200m breaststroke

Tessa Wallace, 18, and Sally Foster will represent Australia in the 200m breaststroke at London 2012, the dominant force in that event for several years in the past decade, Leisel Jones, fourth, her days as a four-lap Olympian over after illness took a toll and her form abandoned her on the last lap of the race. 

Wallace, on 2:26.31, and Foster, on 2:26.51, locked out 16-year-old Taylor McKeown, on 2:26.90, as Jones, the leader for three of the four laps, slumped on the way home with a 40.35sec last 50k split.

The fastest women ever in a textile suit stopped the clock on 2:27.62, some 7sec down on her career and an all-time peak (discounting shiny suits) in a week that saw her become the first Australian swimmer to make it to four Olympic Games. Off the boil but still good enough for the cut in the 100m, Jones arrived at trials on a diet of antibiotics, illness all the more telling over 200m. 

The cruel splits: 

  • Wallace            33.57      1:10.46 (36.89) 1:47.82 (37.36)     2:26.31 (38.49)
  • Foster               33.97      1:11.10 (37.13) 1:48.69 (37.59)     2:26.51 (37.82)
  • McKeown        33.03      1:10.76 (37.73) 1:48.70 (37.94)     2:26.90 (38.20)
  • Jones                 32.81      1:09.18 (36.37) 1:47.27 (38.09)     2:27.62 (40.35)

The Olympic hopes of Sarah Katsoulis came to an end too, with a 2:27.83 fifth-place finish.

Olympic Season Takes Shape - 2012 top 5 (two per nation):

  • 2:22.73 Rebecca Soni (USA
  • 2:25.54 Rikke Pedersen (DEN)
  • 2:25.88 Keiko Fukudome (JPN)
  • 2:26.00 Marina Garcia (ESP)
  • 2:26.23 Mio Motegi (JOPN

Wallace is just outside the top 5 so far this year.

Men's 200m medley

The James Magnussen camp at the SOPAC squad under the guidance of coach Brant Best in Sydney, celebrated two London 2012 tickets in one race after Daniel Tranter, 20, crushed his opponents on breaststroke on the way to a 1:58.19 victory ahead of training partner Jayden Hadler, 18, on 1:58.99.

Thomas Fraser-Holmes almost got there but Hadler kept the 400m medley and 200m freestyle champion at bay by 0.03sec, with leader up to the last few strokes of breaststroke, Kenneth To, fourth in 1:59.57.

Tranter is now ranked second in the world this year a touch shy of Britain's Joe Roebuck in an event with much left to unfold as Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps prepare for their next clash at Indiana at the end of the month.

The splits:

  • Tranter             25.36        55.62 (30.26) 1:29.09 (33.47)     1:58.19 (29.10)
  • Hadler              25.12        55.88 (30.76) 1:30.54 (34.66)     1:58.99 (28.45)
  • Fraser-Holmes  25.80        56.27 (30.47) 1:30.90 (34.63)     1:59.02 (28.12)
  • To                     25.08        55.11 (30.03) 1:29.20 (34.09)     1:59.57 (30.37)

The race ended the Olympic hopes of experience, with Stephen Parkes, Australian record holder Leith Brodie and Travis Nederpelt bowing out.

Olympic Season Takes Shape - 2012 top 5 (two per nation):

  • 1:58.16 Joe Roebuck (GBR)
  • 1:58.19 Daniel Tranter (AUS)
  • 1:58.42 James Goddard (GBR) 
  • 1:58.49 Thiago Pereira (BRA)
  • 1:58.52 Michael Phelps (USA)

In Shanghai 2011, Ryan Lochte (USA) became the first (and so far only) swimmer to crack a shiny suit world record as he pipped Phelps for the world crown. 

Women's 800m freestyle heats:

Katie Goldman took lane 4 for the final in 8:33.60, with Jessica Ashwood next through in 8:38.01 and Kylie Palmer on 8:38.16. Also in the hunt, 14-year-old Remy Fairweather, 8:43.04, and open water ace Melissa Gorman, 8:43.47.

Semi-finals

In the 100m butterfly, Nick D'Arcy, already on the Australian as 200m champion, led the first semi in 52.21, 2000 Olympic bronze medallist Geoff Huegill, one of the success stories among the comeback crew, in second on 52.57 and Daniel Lester on 52.82. 

First at the 50m on 24.24, Olympic bronze medallist of 2008 Andrew Lauterstein faded on the way home to a 6th place 53.35, with Adam Pine 7th on 53.68.

Chris Wright threw down the gauntlet in the second semi in 51.83, ahead of Matt Targett, on 52.31, Sam Ashby on 52.53 and Jayden Hadler last through inside 53sec on 52.81. Back in  7th on 53.72 was Michael Klim, 1998 world champion and Olympic silver medallist in 2000. 

Grant Irvine was last through to the final in 53.12, the standard of fields at Australian trials a tribute to the fine coaching that must surely be going on up and down the land.

Huegill stood on a podium with Klim at a home Games in Sydney back in 2000 when Lars Frolander (SWE) dashed hope hopes of gold. There will be no repeat joint appearance for two of the stalwarts of Australian swimming over the past 15 years.

In the 200m backstroke,  Belinda Hocking gave warning with a 2:07.79 effort well up on the pack in the second semi after watching Meagen Nay clock 2:09.30 in the first semi.