Aquatic Super Series Duels Ahoy Inc’ Larkin Vs Xu, Sister Vs Sister & Seebohm Vs Madison

Australia's big hitters of 2015: clockwise from top left - Bronte Campbell, Cameron McEvoy, Emily Seebohm, Cate Campbell, the women's 4x100m free team, and Mitch Larkin - all images by Patrick B. Kraemer

Double World Champion Mitch Larkin will face one of those he frog-leaped on the way to a new status on backstroke this year when he takes to the waters of the HBP Stadium in Perth at the Aquatic Super Series this Friday and Saturday; fine duels and fast field ahoy as Australia takes on China and Japan

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I’m really interested where Australian women sprinters are standing now. Five of them were among eight fastest last season. Will Cate Campbell return to her best times or last year decline will continue. How reliable is Bronte’s last year success and will she take ranking #1 from Sjostrom (53.12). When will Dutch women come to the action? (Ranomi and Famke)

Robert Traynor

Seven 2 is going to broadcast the event over two nights. You beauty!


I would expect C1 to be ahead of C2 at this point. Firstly due to C2’s hip niggles which kept her out of December’s Qld titles and secondly due to her established capacity for world class times “in season”. She went 52.84 at Qld titles so predictions of imminent decline may be somewhat premature.

Yozhik, we are unlikely to get too much of a read on how many are swimming fast at this meet; the NSW titles in early March (traditionally the last main meet before Trials) will give a far broader picture.

With regards to AUS W100free & 4X100; from what we know so far:

– both C1 & C2 were sub 53sec at World Cup meets. Since then C1 sub 53 in December, C2 with hip issues.

– Wright was sub 54sec at World Cup, since then low mid 54s

– McKeonE 54.0 two weeks ago at Vic titles, Wilson 54low at same meet.

As yet, nothing on free since AUS SC from Seebohm. Nothing to report from Elmslie. Coutts 54mid-high.

The 4×50 relays are probably a sensible move from a competition perspective but conversely this IS a missed opportunity for the AUS M4X100 to post a Rio qualifiying time; a necessity after their Kazan debacle.

Garry COx

When do the AUS men get a chance to post a Rio 4 X 100m time? At the National Trials in a time trial?

Bad Anon

2016 rankings will take shape with the aquatic super series coming into full swing… No doubt team Australia has multiple potential solo Olympic gold hopefuls. Rio will be an opportunity to exorcise the ghosts of London for good. Looking forward to Seebohms times in the backstroke events. Missy will be Missy in Rio


Garry, I feel that may be it as the scheduled GP meets are actually after the cut-off date for qualification. Essentially, even pursuing qualification for this relay revolves around Magnussen and whether he can return to even 48mid.

BA, whilst not writing off Missy in any way, one cannot help feeling that her individual prospects for Rio should be based on the 200back. Her starts and turns remain problematic but they are less punishing to her prospects here than over 100.

Colour me cautious re AUS prospects. Whilst London was seen as a disaster, and there WERE some decidedly dysfunctional issues in play; was it not also just a “return to normal programming” after the “years of plenty” and the passing of the Sydney generation ?

A total medal haul of similar proportions to London would not surprise. Whilst those gold prospects are very realistic ones, the only one that can really be seen as “dominant favourite” is the W4X100 and it only takes illness or injury to one or both Campbell’s to put that into doubt.


Wombat, the accuracy of your statement about W4x100 is actually what puzzles me. In case of W4x200 one can say that US team is needed just two swimmers under 1:56 in addition to Ledecky to guaranty a gold medal. It looks more than feasible – almost curtain. But in case of Australian W4x100 free style I won’t be that determined. Campbell sisters are swimming together this relay since 2013.
2013 – 3:32.43 – lost to Americans (3:32.31)
2014 – 3:30.98 – World Record
2015 – 3:31.48 – Cate Campbell (52.22 rt 0.25) and McKeon (53.57 rt 0.40) were slower than expected.
It was Bronte Campbell in Kazan who took care of business, but her start almost DQed the entire team efforts (RT – 0.03)
If Campbell sisters and McKeon don’t progress this year and Bronte is more mature with her start then the team with four mid 53 swimmers has good changes to compete successfully against Australian express.


*changes – chances


CW, “dominant favourite”, the only ones that could be classified as that are the Aus 4X100, US, 4×200, Ledecky in the 400 & 800 & Sjostrom in the 100 butterfly. I can think of one “dominant favourite” in the mens, maybe Adam Peaty in the 100 Breast.


Yozhik, even if the Aussie girls don’t improve, they still have 2 girls in the 52s & 1 in the low 53s & potentially another 2-3 mid 53s in Wright, Wilson, Seebohm, I think this will keep them well ahead of rest of world. Only Netherlands with no injuries & improvements & swimming to potential can even go close.


The major Scientific changes to swimming of late has been the ability of the swimmers to swim very fast times anywhere anytime, year round even un rested, Yearrs ago this was almost unheard of you trained and peaked for the major events


I guess having sponsors and having a more professional approach helps, the days of amateur sport is long gone, I often wonder how much better the former champions would be today, had they had the same opportunities!


you forgot in your equation Emily opening in only 53.9 at Worlds.And C1 was coming from surgery, not at her best.I doubt we will see only a 53.9 opening.A healthy Wrigth is always a beast of relay split(a 52mid) and I feel McKeon is improving.
I agree with Robbos ‘dominant favourites’, but I would add Hosszu in 200medley.I can’t see anyone in the 2:06 range, except her.


Robbos, 3:32.0 is the target for w4x100 fs. Four mid 53 swimmers can do it and can even go under 3:32 with the perfect starts.
If to adjust Bronte’s 0.03 rt to the decent 0.25-0.3sec then Australian relay in Kazan will be about 3:31.7. The difference of 0.3 sec between two teams is actually stroke-to-stroke race. And don’t forget about possibility of “Romano” magic shown in Barcelona when a swimmer with personal best of 53.90 swims relay leg at 52.60. So I will not call Australian advantage the dominance. They have to try hard to get this gold.
Dutch team will have just three such swimmers, but first two are very fast. So this team is pretty much in the game.
Americans will have four sprinters under 54. If Menual and Franklin are in good shape that is 53.5 or below and Ledecky and Weitzeil combined are 0.75sec faster than they were in January then Australian will have another very strong competitor.


DDias, I forgot Hosszu , you are correct, unless a Chinese swimmer swims out of her head in the medleys.


Yozhik, the Australian team has the x factor, C1 & C2, together with Sjostrom, the best 3 Sprinters by a fair distance & Sjostrom is Swedish, Sweden not a factor. They have depth 5 swimmers in to 8 last year, plus I see improvements in C2, McKeon, Wilson & Seebhom. The Dutch will do well to get within a second of Australia. The Americans, I’m sorry no X factor at present, Australia has 2 possibly 3.


robbos and ddias, I don’t argue that there was a reason why Australian relay slowed down in 2015. I started this thread wondering where Australian sprinters are now and if all these mishaps of 2015 are left behind. Of course if it is another wr it will be automatically Olympic gold. I join you with the believe that those girls are capable of doing that. But …. Let’s see what they’ll show tomorrow.


robbos, x factor is a very strong argument. No questions. Just wondering if Chinese 4×100 medley team had such factor in Kazan winning very confidently WC gold medal.


@robots. Did American team have x factor in Barcelona beating both sisters (double x factor)?


I get what Robbos is telling about X factor.It means:IF everything goes at should be, Australia will be the winner.
You can’t use a injury or a breakout swimmer as a valid example, because ALL of the teams can have them.And you can talk how good US team is at sprinting when their big breakout swimmer is the 1500free World Record holder…


Event 17 Women 100 LC Metre Freestyle
Name Age Team
3 ZHU, MENGHUI 16 CHN 53.82
4 SHEN, DUO 18 CHN 53.88


That’s the start list for the 100m free, No McKeon, she’s doing the 100m fly and 200m free.


Dias, the only reason why American team was mentioned is because they have beaten Australian team two years ago with 3:32.31 and current team is promising to be stronger. So 3:32.0 or even faster is very possible. 3:32.0 for Australian team means no room for even slightest mistake.
If you don’t mind I’ll give advice. Think about Ledecky as sprinter who also managed to break world record at 1500. It may help. 53.75 (fifth US all-tme) in January at the age of 18 allows us to qualify her as such.


I didn’t get your 3:32.0 means no room for mistake in Australian team.I can see Australia doing a 3:29(or even lower!) at Olympics with everyone healthy and injury free.Oh, I can see US team swimming a lot better than at last Worlds, even at 3:31 range, but I still think they will depend of the misfortune of others to win.They have some great young names like Abbey Weitzeil, but they are (still) too much attached to yards swimming.
While I am strong impressed by Ledecky range, I thought she will have to make a hard choice in a near future.The training for sprinting moves different muscle fibres and with today specialization, I think is even risqué to have a wide range training(Injuries…).


Yozhik, remember, 4 very good swimmers will beat a team with 1 or 2 X factor with weak links like China did beating Australia (weak in Breatstroke) or US no real X factors.

The Australian men’s 4X100 is a good example, they have 2 great X factors, but Magnussen is a worry & a possible superstar in Chalmers, but they have no depth.
With the women’s 4X100 they have 2 X factors, another big improver & then 3 swimmers very solid mid 53 swimmers.

2 years ago C2 & McKeon was not a factor.


I don’t understand why Yozhik kept mentioning the campbel’s sisters relay performances in 2013 Barcelona as a reference for projected Rio’s performance.
Saying that Bronte didn’t swim as fast in Barcelona as she is now would mean similar to saying that Ledecky may not win 400 free in Rio just because she didn’t qualify for London in 400.

Australia’s dominance in w4x100 free is not just due to the Campbell’s sisters but also the depth: they have 5 sprinters in the world’s top 8 last year.

Meanwhile, The Netherlands situation has not changed much today than it was 4 years ago in London: They don’t have depth.

Craig Lord

Thanks gheko – my preview preceded the start lists being published; the roster had Emma down to do 100 free (and lots of others down to do things they may not do on the day 🙂

Craig Lord

Yes, Robbos – right tack: it is one of the safest bets on the beat. I think the Dutch have the potential (all talk is of potential, OGs stacked with what might have been, should have been and sometimes was, sometimes wasn’t) to get closest, depending on where young Steenbergen can get to by August


Ok, guys. There is the fact that Australian team was slower in Kazan than it was previous year. There were reasonable explanations to believe that those problems were temporary. The changes in team performance were not dramatic because as much Cate got slower her sister became as much stronger. So the future for Australian Olympic relay is golden bright. Maybe we have to give them medals right away, now? Why to wait? I tell you why. The following is Cate Campbel’s performance from 2012 to 2015 – 53.84, 52.33, 52.62, 52.69. If you are telling that there is no place for concern, then fine. You probably have additional information that makes you that optimistic. Bronte made huge and kind of unexpected jump in performance last year. And you of course know that this is for real and is just a beginning of something even more spectacular. Sure, why not. That’s why I want see what will be shown at this meet to share with you your confidence.


Yozhik, firstly I NEVER said that the AUS W4X100 was a “sure thing”. No one is at this point. Breaks and “brain-farts” can hit any team !

However, the AUS W4X100 of now is a distinct level above that of Barcelona. Then it was a case of C1 putting them out in front and then praying the rest can hold on.

C2 had her break-out year in 2014 and she furthered her progression last year. She’s a very different performer to the 2013 model.

The main separating point that AUS possesses is that both C1 & C2 have repeat form in producing sub52sec splits whereas the only others with such potential are NED (Heemskerk) & SWE (Sjostrom).

Wright & McKeon have sub53 splits to their name. Even if they sub in someone else to the line-up, they are likely to be sub54.

Due to having a weak 54+ leg, NED is in the position of having to expend one of its two potential sub53’s in Kromowidjojo “off the gun” to put them up with the pace. Whilst she’s still well capable of a sub53 with flying start, she hasn’t been sub53 flat start since London.

Steenbergen IS a major prospect but as yet she’s only a 53high flat start so a sub53 is “an ask”. Even in their “pomp” (2008-2012) they were carrying a 54leg in Dekker but the sharp end of this race has moved on and having that weak link is probably the difference between gold & minor coin.

USA has not had a sub53 freestyle split since Barcelona. Romano has been “nowhere” since then and there is little sign to date that she is a likely factor. The only sub53 splits for ANY of their likely relay contenders are a 52.99 in 2011 for Franklin and a 52.98 in Barcelona for Coughlin.

To date, Weitzel has yet to break 54 flat start so at this point she’s a “could-be”/”hope she’ll be” rather than a known “gun” asset. Manuel has only been sub 53.5 on one occaision and to date has shown little sign of translating exceptional SC performance to LC.

At this point, USA has a ruck of 53high swimmers; even if they swim to their best you are realistically looking at a couple of them splitting a 52highish. There is no real potential sub52 performer; something that AUS & NED DO possess.

Craig Lord

Yozhik, I think this meet will be what it will be (and some of it will be fast) … events in March and then at trials will give us a better view of who is on and who is not. As things stand, if AUS women’s 4×100 swims to potential there is no team that can beat them unless we’re to see something unexpected in at least 2 if not 3 women on other quartets. Nothing is certain, ever


@Ddias: Finally I am reading something that looks professional in definition who sprinter is (muscles fiber, special training, specific injuries, etc) It will be nice to have more discussions like that at this site. Meanwhile if it is possible to provide some references to the articles with similar discussions it will be appreciated very much.
BTW, Ledecky now is faster than Cate Campbell was in London. Was Cate injured? And about young Weitzeil. She is older than Ledecky and her personal best at 100 is a quarter of a second slower. Who knows maybe Ledecky will concentrate on sprint and middle distances only if it is not possible physiologically to do long and short distances training at the same time. Maybe that was a reason why Sjostrom has been skipping consistently 200 and 400 racing. But it looks that she is good with that now.
I am just wondering if there is a real scientific knowledge behind such statements or it is only a supposition based on couple unfortunate cases happened to swimmers less gifted than Ledecky or Sjostrom.


Lol there really is no point arguing.. Actually I would prefer it if USA and Netherlands are placed as the favourites in the women’s 4×100 free relay come Rio… And Australia could scrap for bronze.. Let it be that way for now..

Craig Lord

Yozhik, height (your Fraser reference) can matter – and often does but it is not essential to match the Cates of the world on that score (Fran Halsall, shorter but 23.96 just as fast as Cate – they share the swiftest unassisted swim speed among women ever). On Fraser, she lived in a different era, too – a time when swimming did not talent spot, did not seed many kids through the ranks while checking them for full-growth potential and so on… it could well have been that there were tall kids in the world who might have beaten Fraser at the time if they had been in the right place at the right time etc (that’s the case today, too, in terms of great swimming potential that ends up elsewhere in different realms).
Fraser was strong, a tomboy, she worked with Gallagher on things that were new at the time and was ahead of the curve on the ‘smart-track’ of its day, relative to peers.
The game is sharper still these days (though the smart-track remains key – the ability to be ahead of the game) – and some of that is down to the GDR (doping apart). What makes the sprinter, too, is the mind: the stories of Steffen, Campbells, etc, have an element of focus on the mind in the mix as well as ‘natural conditioning’ – look at the Campbell’s upbringing… look at the development years of Shane Gould (swimming from trees, swimming in the seas off Fiji etc – such things are significant to the way the brain develops in a way that makes them fitter as athletes about to race come the day.

The place future speed can come from (non-doping/non-gene-doping): neurology and brain function – and greater understanding of why a swallow can do what it does; why certain wonders of the ocean can do what they do (astonishing speed and endurance capabilities, and not a rogue doctor in sight)

There is also physiology:
Fast-twitch fibre: the ‘white’ fibre has several speed producing characteristics that make it ideally suited for speed and power performance.

The links below takes you to one of many places that can be useful for knowledge – the tables shown in the article linked to are some of the complexities that sports scientists consider with coaches when setting training programs and development pathways – where the specific swimmers being discussed in this thread are on any of these things is, of course, a matter of private data – which is why we can have such discussions at a surface and academic level but not at an individual level – because we are simply not privy to the details we would need to know to compare athletes and come up with a view of what constitutes the ‘perfect sprinter’, for example.

You can read more about such details at Setanta College and many other portals similar to it.

• 1.       Bompa et al. Human Kinetics. 2003.
• 2.       Watson & Hennessy. Longman Press. 1994.
• 3.       Bosco C. Italian Society of Sport science. 1999.
• 4.       Sharkey & Gaskill. Human Kinetics. 2006.

Some tips for sprinters from James Gibson, world 50m breaststroke champion 2003 and now a coach who worked with Manaudou on the way to London 2012 and now with Halsall and Co at Loughborough:

Meanwhile, what makes a winner is, of course, more complex that physiology and psychology. We are talking about singular moments every four years when it comes to the O Games, the results of which weigh heavily on our perceptions of what makes a ‘great’ athlete.

Phelps: a man who can sprint but can’t beat James Magnussen when the latter swims at 47.1 pace in the 100 free but can beat the world at 100 ‘fly: a man who has a make-up that allows his skills to flow in a vast range and spectrum of events from 100 to 400 distances at pioneering speeds. His physiology – natural and honed – is important; his psychology – natural, circumstantial and honed – is important; his environment is important, from the day to day every day for years with Bob Bowman from a young age to the team environment when the USA comes together and knows how to get most on a squad to swim up not down at the major meet.

And linked to that is the simple truth that all programs should observe: never tell a kid to ‘swim like Michael Phelps’ – that destroys the very message the child ought to get: you, like Phelps, are unique – like he, you need to find the movements and feelings and things that make you the best you can possibly be.

On Cate, she wasn’t injured but had been ill:
Sarah Sjo will never cover a 400 like Ledecky – not going to happen…a 4:06 is a fine time (and peak she can go beyond that) but nothing that will threaten the best in that distance come the big one, the likes of Jaz Carlin, Sharon VR etc capable of mowing her down in the last 100 in any race pressing down to the 4min mark.
And that’s also where desire kicks in: you really have to want it – Sarah wants it to the 100m mark and has shown that… she hasn’t yet shown us she wants it in a 200m race.
There is real scientific knowledge in the mix of all the above – and that is not used evenly around the world – and is a fraction of what feeds into the result come the hour.

Eugene Chc

52.79 for Franklin in medley relay 2011.
but it was with old stroke, and now will be very hard sub 53.5

Ledecky 53.5, Neal 53.2, Weitzeil 53.2, Manuel 53.0 for bronze.

Craig Lord

Eug Chc – About 0.7-8sec faster but bronze may be right, in the realms of ‘too early to tell’ 🙂

Eugene Chc

Yes Craig.
it’s just four good leg, without great or bad.
in Kazan was two bad leg – Gear 54.0(she swam 53.7 morning and two times 53.1 later) and Neal 54.1(many stanford college swimmers were bad in summer).


Yozhik, Cate was ill in London and she was also ill in 2010-2011, hindering her progress.

This is a girl who swam 24.4 as 14 yo, in textile, and who won 50 free Olympics bronze, by far youngest ever to win 50 free medal.

Without all those illnesses, who knows what she could have done in London.

Craig Lord

link to the illness in my comment to Yozhik, aswimfan

Personal Best

Cate Campbell was out for part of 2014/15 following shoulder surgery, following an injury. I’m not sure her times during that period point to her natural progression and potential had she not had surgery.

Of course, this year will provide a clearer picture of where she is at.

Though you’d expect most top performers to improve greatly in this Olympic year.


To make my position clear. I surprisingly figured out that it is a rarity to have four swimmers under 54 for one nation in one season. Australian had five of them of which two were under 53. Looks like domination at firs glance. So if we expect a world record then it won’t come from Dutch or American team. Only Australians can please us with that. On the other hand considering references to Cate Campbell’s frequent health issues and the undisputed fact that Bronte and Cate are genetically close swimmers ( sisters in other words 🙂 ) I would rather don’t go that far as Ddias expecting under 3:29 time. The cautious estimate will be under 3:32 where this team is standing for two last years. If it happens that it is 3:31 high then they will be within the possible rich of Americans or Dutch should they do well.
I love world records and I wish Australia to succeed with that. But I don’t buy the statements that that is given a priori.



just a nitpicking, but there were 6 australians, not 5, who swam under 54 last year:

Cate, Bronte, McKeon, Schlanger, Elmslie, Seebohm.

Craig Lord

Correct, Yozhik – never a given


thank you aswimfan for correction. Seebohm had ranking 19, there fore I missed her. Just wondering why it was her who swam lead leg in Kazan if Australians had two swimmers of this under 54 club who swum faster in season.


Yozhik, Elmslie was ruled out of Kazan due to surgery so there’s one less.

C1, C2 & McKeon were rested from heats. Seebohm swam a PB or near PB in heats (her first sub54 since 2010) whilst Wright’s split of 53.55 (with flying start taken into account) was essentially some 0.3-0.4sec slower.


As commonwombat showed, even in far less ideal condition (no Schlanger or Elmslie and Cate not at her best), Australia still won handily. If something similar happened to another country (like The Netherlands in London), their chances for gold vanishes.

Personal Best

I think Wright may be past her best (which in London was a low 53), though she has still been competitive and swimming low 54s.

Elmslie may get back to the realm of mid 53s, however you’ve also got Madison Wilson looking like she may get to the 53s soon.

Australia still need McKeon to be firing.

You’re right aswimfan, but still, even a bad leg on the night could cost them.


‘Australia still need McKeon to be firing’ – key point. There is no competition between Australian swimmers and there is no need for intermediate check points. All of them with the exception of few are training targeting O Games only. Everything is decided already in this team. Now, the question is – Will McKeon push herself to the limit training at 100 just for the purpose to be ‘on fire’ on the 4×100 freestyle final day? Or she may focus on other races where she may have more attention and success rather then being just another leg in Golden relay powered by two superstars. Or the good form at 100 sufficient for relay win will be reached automatically even not focusing on it. I don’t know much about her training schedule and what else she may target at O Games and if there is no problem to have her firing at 4×100 fs.

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