Top Ten Highlights from #AusChamps17
1. Rachael Watson’s world beating 50m freestyle
Remember her name because Rachael Watson is a star on the rise. After announcing herself at the 2016 Australian Championships the Brisbane based swimmer then went on to stun the world winning the gold medal in the S4 50m freestyle at the Paralympic Games in Rio.
This week Watson put on another show stopping performance breaking the S4 50m free world record not once but twice at the 2017 Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Championships!
Rachael said she didn’t see this coming, but put it down to her consistent training and current routine.
“I’ve just completely blown away my expectations, it’s been amazing!
“I’ve been getting lots of rest, eating well and putting in 110 per cent at training. I’m making every minute of the day count,” Watson said.
So, what’s next for the superstar?
“I’d like to try for the 100m freestyle world record and just keep improving on every PB (personal best).”
We can’t wait to see what the future has instore.
2. Find Fraser
How lucky were we to have swimming legend Dawn Fraser poolside for #AusChamps17?! Her sporting achievements have gone down in history as some of the best. And after this week, so too have her hiding spots!
One of our favourite interactive games from the week was Find Fraser; where the fans tried to be the first to successfully ‘Find Dawn Fraser’ who was hiding somewhere in our Centre Lane precinct.
Dawn was not afraid to get her hands dirty, hiding in the kitchen of the ‘Rolling Stones Pizza’ food truck, in the bushes just next to the arena shop and even masquerading as a technical official – she made the fans work for their prize packs.
3. Emma McKeon eyes busy Budapest
After leaving the Rio Olympic Games as Australia’s most successful athlete, Emma McKeon showed no signs of slowing down last week.
Emma successfully booked herself a ticket to Budapest after winning the 200m freestyle, the 100m and 200m butterfly and finishing second in the 100m freestyle, just behind Bronte Campbell.
We can’t pick just one moment to highlight from Emma’s week, but that’s what happens when you win 3 Australian titles and secure the silver in a fourth event!
This means she will have the opportunity to race a whopping six events at the 2017 FINA World Championships; the 100 and 200m freestyle, the 100 and 200m butterfly, the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays and the 4x100m medley relay!
4. Emily Seebohm bounces back
Catch her if you can because Emily Seebohm is back on top! If you came to the finals on night two at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre then you may have been hoping to catch a glimpse of Emily Seebohm as she raced in her pet event, the 100m backstroke.
Well on behalf of everyone here at Swimming Australia, we sincerely apologise if you blinked and you missed her, because she was flying!
Seebohm is the reigning World champion in this event and on Monday April 10 clocked a time of 58.62 to announce to the world that she would not be letting go of her world title without a fight.
The time was quick enough to re-write the All comers record and sat just outside her Australian record time of 58.23. She will now swim at her 6th World Championship event.
5. Holly Barratt proves age is just a number
At 29-years-of-age Holly Barratt last week became the oldest Australian Swim Team rookie EVER!
The West Australian based swimmer successfully qualified for her first ever senior Dolphins team after she snuck into second place in the 100m backstroke, surprising even herself at her amazing feat.
The quiet achiever, who has been focussing on the 100m backstroke for a couple of years now, proved age is no barrier to success when she hit the wall in a time of 59.66 for an automatic qualification onto the World Championship team and reignited her swimming dream.
If there was ever a poster athlete for never giving up – Holly would be it.
6. Arrival of Ariarne
At just 16-years-of-age, Ariarne came into the Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Championships as an underdog, a promising high-school-aged swimmer that had made her Australian debut at the World Short Course Championships just a few months prior.
But no one expected her to walk away from the week with two national titles in the 400 and 800m freestyle and a second-place finish in the 200m freestyle.
Ariarne announced her arrival in Australia and now she will get ready to take on the world.
7. Triple Big Mack
The men’s 200m freestyle final was a stacked field. With Olympic champions Mack Horton and Kyle Chalmers joined by defending Australian champion Cameron McEvoy and up and comers Jack Cartwright, Alex Graham and Dan Smith all in the mix for a medal, the 2017 title was anyone’s for the taking.
Swimming from lane 8, no one saw Horton coming as he stormed his way into the wall in the final 50 metres to overtake race leader, McEvoy and then also get the better of a fast finishing Kyle Chalmers with an impressive time of 1:46.83.
Horton then went on to back up and win both the 400 and 1500m freestyle titles, giving him a trifecta of titles from the meet.
8. Optus Legends Relay
By far one of our favourite moments from the week was the Optus legends relay! Your childhood heroes (or your parents’ childhood heroes) were back and in fine form as they took on a 4x50m relay.
The teams had been decided and decked out with the latest in arena swimwear, it was; Team Sprenger, with world beating butterflyer Jessicah Schipper, Olympic breaststroke silver medallists Christian Sprenger and Brooke Hanson along with freestyler Kenrick Monk who stole the show.
Golden girl freestyle sprinter Libby Trickett combined with former team mate Alice Mills, high jumper-turned sprinter Angus Waddell and 25km World champion Josh Santacaterina.
Team Daniel Kowalski featured recently retired Olympic gold, silver and bronze medallist Bronte Barratt, dual Olympic breaststroker Tarnee White and recently retired London Olympic butterflyer Chris Wright.
9. Para swimmers set world standard
Although some of us may still be recovering from our Christmas holiday blowout, our para swimmers proved they had well and truly got back on the bandwagon with their impressive times from #AusChamps17.
Following on from their successful Rio campaign last year, some familiar faces and some new ones emerged with world beating times.
There were five world number one times from the likes of Lakeisha Patterson, Abigail Lihou, Brenden Hall, Timothy Disken and Rachael Watson.
Disken’s swim was a standout as he clocked a quicker time than his gold medal winning performance from Rio, while Lihou signalled her arrival to swimming with a breakthrough performance.
On top of this, Monique Murphy, Maddison Elliott and Blake Cochrane all recorded times that ranked them second in the world.
Bring on the Para World Swimming Championships in Mexico!
10. Matt Wilson makes his breaststroke breakthrough
After missing the Rio Olympic team by less than a second, all eyes were on Matt Wilson in the men’s 200m breaststroke final to see if he could dip under the qualifying time and erase the agony from 2016.
The boy from the Blue Mountains started strong but with the time creeping up and the wall seemingly not approaching, the crowd were on the edge of their seats.
And with just 0.35 of a second to spare, Matt Wilson touched in a time of 2:09.29 and could officially call himself a Dolphin!