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Gold Coast swim star Cameron McEvoy gets headstart on Games trials rivals

by ZwemZa on January 20th, 2018

Cameron McEvoy will head into next month’s Commonwealth Games trials with a slight edge over his sprint rivals after becoming the first man to dip under the 49-second mark this season.

McEvoy (48.99sec) beat duel world champion James Magnussen (49.11) and fellow Gold Coast Olympian James Roberts (49.24) at the NSW championships last night in a race that only added to the anticipation for the blue riband sprint next month.

Cameron McEvoy’s times are starting to come down. Photo: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

And McEvoy will head in with plenty of confidence after shedding more than a second from the time he swam to finish sixth behind Magnussen at the Queensland championships last month.

“That was a big improvement from December’s Queensland state champs but on paper, it was expected,” he said.

“I’ve been building from a really, really heavy workload since the world championships last year and it’s good to see that as that changes into a more specific race-based type of workload, the times are starting to come down too.

“It’s a great sign for the trials coming up for the Commonwealth Games.”

The sprint freestylers may have attracted the most attention but McEvoy reserved his greatest praise for his Bond University clubmate Elijah Winnington, who beat Olympic champion Mack Horton in the 400m freestyle to continue to mount his case as a Games bolter.

McEvoy compared the teen sensation to Australia’s greatest swimmers, who also began to emerge as 17-year-olds.

“Australia have thrown down so many amazing times for 17-year-olds. You’ve got Mack Horton, you’ve got Thorpey (Ian Thorpe), Kieren Perkins, Dan Kowalski, Grant Hackett, Jordy Harrison.

“If you could rank the top times in the world done by those 18 and under, a lot of them are just 17-year-old Aussie blokes and Elijah’s very much in the mix of that now and he’s set himself up for a really good home Commonwealth Games trials where I believe he can come out and make that bigger breakthrough and solidify his name among all those other guys.”

Teenager Elijah Winnington beat Olympic champion Mack Horton in the 400m freestyle. Picture Mike Batterham

Winnington, 17, dipped under the 3min 50sec barrier for the first time, to beat Horton and Italy’s 1500m Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri to the top of the podium in a swim that has bolstered his confidence massively ahead of next month’s Commonwealth Games trials.

Winnington beat Horton to claim the 200m title at the Queensland state titles last month but last night’s victory in the 400m was a real coming of age.

And it was a surprise for the Bond University swimmer, who had felt sluggish in his morning heat.

“Before the race, my coach Richard Scarce and I were discussing a race plan and he said not to worry about a time, just to go out and execute the race,” Winnington said.

“That’s all I had in my mind and I went out there and surprised myself.

“There were five of us together at the 200m mark and normally I like to be in front by a fair margin. But with Mack and Paltrinieri out there, two Olympic gold medallists, I was thinking their back ends might be a bit faster but I turned at the 300m and just motored home.”

Winnington is likely to have to drop another four seconds by trials to be in line for a 400m spot at the Games but is undeterred, gaining a major confidence boost last night.

“I thought I had a lot of confidence after (Queensland) states but it’s another good boost of confidence here,” he said, adding he “definitely” had another gear to find at trials.

“I feel like me and Rich (Scarce) will discuss a race plan and just go out there and see what happens, but I have a goal time of around 3:45-3:46, which I feel will get top three.”

In other results last night, Sydney product Jess Ashwood won the 800m freestyle, Kaylee McKeown claimed the 200m backstroke and Jess Hansen took out the 100m breaststroke.

The titles continue on Saturday and Sunday.

Emma Green wood | Gold Coast Bulletin

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