Cate Campbell, Olympic gold relay medallist, and James Magnussen, Olympic silver medallist, set the pace for 2013 with swift opening gambits in the 100m freestyle at the Aquatic Super Series tri-nations meet between Australia, China and South Africa in Perth today. The event, with a $500,000 prize pot, is being staged at the Challenge Stadium: at the end of the first day of action, Australia led the meet on points by 24 points, 175 to China’s 151, with South Africa third on 74.
Campbell scorched a 53.51 victory over fellow relay gold medallist from London 2012, Melanie Schlanger on 54.91, with Olympic medallist 0.03sec ahead of Schlanger, Tang Yi, of China, on 55.22 for third. Magnussen clocked 48.38 for a comfortable win over teammate James Roberts, on 49.62, and China’s Lu Zhiwu, on 50.16.
"That was a really big surprise, I didn’t feel that good in warm-up,” Campbell said. “Getting sick in London (Olympics) has really motivated me to get back in the water and I only had two weeks off (after the Olympics). Maybe I’m crazy.”
Magnussen said: “I’m swimming good, you know, but it was always going to be a little bit difficult outdoors. There’s a bit of a breeze tonight (but) I’m pretty happy with it all in all. I think it was a good swim.”
The hosts celebrated another 1-2 finish in the 100m breaststroke, Sarah Katsoulis on 1:07.33, Leiston Pickett on 1:08.37 and China's Zhao Jin on 1:10.32.
There was another 1-2 in the same event for men when Olympic medallist Christian Sprenger broke the minute with a 59.75 victory well ahead of the chasers, teammate Brenton Rickard on 1:01.83, China’s Li Xiayan on 1:02.68.
Olympic champion Ye Shiwen produced the swiftest off-season 200IM in history when she clocked 2:09.67 (last 50m free, 31.0sec) to defeat Aussies Alicia Coutts (2:11.92) and Emily Seebohm (2:13.60).
Olympic champion Jiao Liuyang halted the Aussie wave with a 2:08.54 win over 2008 Olympic champion and teammate Liu Zige, 2:08.77, in the 200m butterfly, with Aussie Samantha Hamill third in 2:10.73. Jiao was back later for a second win, on 26.20 in the 50m butterfly ahead of Coutts, 26.65, and South African Trudi Maree, 27.06.
China claimed a 1-2 when Chen Yin, on 1:57.84, and Liu Weijia, 1:59.17, kept Aussie Chris Wright at bay, on 1:57.21. That made it three first-second finishes at that point in the session for China. Yuanhui Fu had earlier pipped current world record holder and teammate Zhao Jing in the 50m backstroke, 27.86 to 27.93, with Australians Seebohm and Belinda Hocking next home in 28.37 and 29.13. Daniel Arnamnart won the men's backstroke dash in 25.06 ahead of China's Cheng Feiyi (25.58).
Bronte Barratt took the 400m free in 4:07.75 ahead of China's Li Xuan Xu, 4:10.51, and Shao Yiwen 4:12.21. David McKeon took the men's equivalent in 3:49.43 ahead of Aussie teammate Ryan Napoleon, 3:50.23, with Hao Yun, of China, third in 3:50.37, the hosts claiming another 1-2 finish.
Wang Shun (CHN) pipped Jayden Hadler (AUS) 2:00.08 to 2:00.83 in the 200m medley, with the hosts claiming third courtesy of Daniel Tranter, on 2:03.69.
Meagen Nay and Hocking gave the hosts yet another 1-1 finish with respective efforts of 2:08.39 and 2:10.75 ahead of China's Bai Anqi, on 2:13.14, before China hit back with a 1-2 of its own in the men's equivalent, Xu Jiayi on 2:00.07, teammate Cheng Feiyi on 2:00.25 and Aussie Mitch Larkin on 2:01.04.
The last solo race of the session saw Matt Targett take the 50m 'fly for the hosts in 23.57, ahead of South African Garth Tune, 24.09, and the winner's Aussie teammate and 200m podium placer Wright, on 24.26.
The closing 4x200m freestyle relays went to Australia over China and South Africa. The Aussie men clocked 7:16.41 (Thomas Fraser-Holmes, 1:47.23, Kenrick Monk, 1:50.94, David McKeon, 1:48.67, Ryan Napoleon, 1:49.57), to 7:23.99 and 7:33.10, while the Aussie women (Bronte Barratt, 1:59.62; Melanie Schlanger, 1:59.46, Kylie Palmer, 1:59.67, Brittany Elmslie, 1:58.75) had a tighter challenge, winning in 7:57.50 from China's 7:59.03 (Tang, 2:00.28, Pang Jiaying, 2:00.20, Guo Junjun, 1:58.90, Shao Yiwen, 1:59.65), South Africa on 8:23.63.