Emma McKeon Cracks Australia 200 Free Record In 1:55s Tussle With Bronte Barratt

Emma McKeon, of Australia, soaks up her victory over 200m at the 2014 Commonwealth Games - with Bronte Barratt in the background [Photo: Ian MacNicol]

A tight tussle between Emma McKeon and Bronte Barratt ended with the Australian record being toppled as both women raced inside 1:56 in the 200m freestyle on the last day at the NSW Championships in Sydney. McKeon led from start to finish but Barratt stuck to her like glue as they raced to a 1:55.53 to 1:55.95 decision

Want to read more? Our Basic subscription package allows you to access
to all articles barring specific content for Premium and Business
members. Select which service best suits you. Thank you for your
support of independent journalism and quality coverage of world-class swimming.

Log In Register

A tight tussle between Emma McKeon and Bronte Barratt ended with the Australian record being toppled as both women raced inside 1:56 in the 200m freestyle on the last day at the NSW Championships in Sydney. McKeon led from start to finish but Barratt stuck to her like glue as they raced to a 1:55.53 to 1:55.95 decision


Personal Best

Emma McKeon is certainly continuing her rise in the ranks. It was an almost PB in the 100 fly, and also the 100 free for her, and now a PB in the 200 free. Good signs all round. She’s moving in the right direction.

Madison Wilson time trialed a 100 free during the 200 free final for a 54.25, which isn’t that far off her best.

Georgia Bohl’s time in the 50 breast is also a PB, to match her almost best in the 100.


Aside from mcKeon, the one I found impressive is Alicia Coutts who swam the fastest after her comeback: 57.5 in 100 fly and sub 2:10 in 200 IM.


This meet has certainly confirmed earlier impressions that McKeonE is tracking very well into Trials. Looking wider, it’s potentially interesting to observe that her improvements since 2014 have been incremental in nature rather than the larger variety some have predicted/hoped for. Whether this indicates she is at or nearing her optimum … or merely a phase in her career … we’ll have to wait and see.

Barratt has been showing good form during this season with this 200 swim the best confirmation. However, we can never know if we’ll get “good Bronte” or “sod awful Bronte” when it comes to big meets. The wider issue concerns the W4X200 & where are the others with no other Australians currently frightening the 1.58 barrier let alone 1.57.

Coutts 200IM time was probably the best omen coming out of this meet as W200IM was probably the one event on the women’s side where Olympic qualification was looking questionable. Whilst she may get the 2nd individual spot in 100fly, this may be her most competitive event albeit she’s unlikely to be a contender.

Craig, a small correction re M200BRS; the AUS QT is significantly in advance of all their PB’s rather than inside.


Magnussen finally swam 48.85 leading off relay.

And Chalmers anchored in 48.02

Personal Best

There was a little surprise by Magnussen in the final event.
Is this his first time inside 49 sec since his return from injury?

Also a good relay split from Chalmers.

I think it will be good Bronte, Common. This seems like a new Bronte, to me. Her 100 is getting faster, she’s back to near best in the 200. What would I know, I’m only looking at her times, but they are impressive.

As corny as this sounds, Coutts’s swims make me happy to know she’s getting better, after a period of struggle.



yes, that is Magnussen’s first time under 49 since his return.

Also, it’s always “Unpredictable Bronte”, because both “good Bronte” and “sod awful Bronte” can very much appear in the same meet.


PB, I think ASW summarised Barratt perfectly. She is an incredibly enigmatic performer at any level.

Some years, she’s ordinary all year round. Other years, she’s excellent at Trials but sinks like a stone at the international meet. Another time, her first swim is good then she’s awful for the rest of the meet. The one positive from her form line is that her previous Olympics (2008 & 2012) have been good.

Maggie clocking a sub49 ….. lets take this as a positive and hope its a sign of something sustainable.


Sjostrom last year and Ledecky this January made W200 fs tough to compete. Nevertheless the ‘Under 1:56’ club is a very respectful one with only 21 all-time members in it. And many of them joined the club in 2008-2009 period.

Craig Lord

Just 16 in textile, Yozhik.


Craig is Emma Mckeon’s time a new Commonwealth record? Joanne Jackson held the mark from 2009 1.55.54?

Craig Lord

It is indeed, gheko: noted, good spot that man …


Even though Mag’s time in the 50 was much worse than I was hoping for, I am going to go out on a limb and predict that Magnussen will “click” just in time for Aus Trials and get one of the two spots for the 100 free expedition. Then he will be even faster in Rio.

I’ve got nothing to support this, but someone on this website must contrast Commonwombat’s gloom 🙂


Not gloom, my friend, just a cold blooded assessment of how things stand at the moment. Whilst the culture of AUS male swimming may’ve changed for the better post London; the quality has not conclusively improved.

Going into Trials, there are more events on the men’s side where having even one qualifier is far from certain than those where qualification looks assured. Allow me to list them: M1500, both BRS, both fly, both IM. Whilst it’s likely that some of these will see someone make the cut; there may be 2-3 that will not.

What have been positives from AUS season so far:
– ALL the major guns on either side (Larkin, McEvoy, Seebohm, C1&2) have produced legitimately international class performances without most not really being at their peaks.
– Last year’s international “break-outs”, Wilson & Ashwood look to be following up very well as has Chalmers.
– The progress of Bohl & Atherton.
– McKeonE looks to be bouncing back well from a disappointing Worlds as, to a degree, has Coutts after a couple of poor years.

So …. not all doom & gloom but a lot of swimmers have yet to step up ….. and will need to do so in a major fashion at Trials.


Luigi, you are wasting your energy trying to convert CW into emotional sport fan. This cold blood […] lawyer (that is how he calls himself) will be satisfied only to see how accurate his predictions are. You will be happy to see your favorites surprising you with the win regardless any odds. You will be happy for them demonstrating unprecedented courage in the battle for medals. That actually what sport is: athletes and spectators. Without spectators (fans) there would be no professional sport. You believe in something unbelievable like Pellegrini wins Olympic gold or Paltrinieri beats Sun Yung. And that makes you a sport lover by definition. Love doesn’t believe in existence of obstacles that cannot be overcome. If there is no hope (even without any signs for that) there is no sport.
p.s. CW I am still not over your “obtuse” comment other day.


Actually, Yozhik, I believe Commonwombat is very emotional. He always downplays the performances of Australian swimmers, and only Australian swimmers. I dont see cold logic there.
Ps I am a lawyer myself


Danm it. You broke my heart, Luigi. 😀 You broke my heart.

paolo rubbiani

Very interesting prospects for Australian W4x200 considering the two 1.55 (before tapering) by McKeon and Barratt.
Who could be the other two for a strong quartet?
Some options.
1) Looking at the youngsters, Tamsin Cook seen at World Junior in Singapore is the most interesting: she swam 1.58.16 to lead-off the relay and why not suppose an improvement at least in the 1.57 dimension for her? Other name Gemma Cooney.
2) Looking at the more experienced swimmers we have: Elmslie, Palmer, Ashwood, Schlanger and also Seebohm and Coutts, to finish with Groves, Wilson and Throssell.
3) A fancyiful option: Cate Campbell.

Many names to find two good/great freestylers capable to swim a 1.56/1.57 leg.., and to surprise Commonwombat obviously..


Well at least I am not a FINA blazer, Yozhik! 😀


Paolo, when you say that Emma McKeon wasn’t tapered are you assuming that she will be faster at trials than she is now? She improved her pb at 200 fs and was practically at pb at 100 fs. She either made a significant progress since last year and we can expect 53 and 1:55 both flat or for some reason she was specially prepared for this particular meet.

Craig Lord

Yozhik, Emma M broke a record she set two years ago… pre-Olympic year will have been transitional for many who will show the work inherent in that come the hour they have been preparing for for 4 years and more…


I think Emma is ready for a huge breakout year, only trouble for her is that, her 3 pet events, she is up against the superstars of women’s swimming, 100 free (Campbell sisters, she won’t even get an individual swim, but will make the 4X100 a strong gold), 200 free (Sjostram, Ledecky, Franklin or Volmer, in a strong field) & 100 Butterfly (Sjostram, strong chance for silver & makes 4×100 med very very strong).
As for 4X200, with 2 swimmers @ 1.55 or better, Australia has depth to find a 1.56-1.57 swimmer to win a medal, just the gold in 4×200 is all America’s.


Craig, I understand your point, but my question to Paolo was why did she swam that fast at this meet one month prior trials. If she wasn’t at least partially tapered or rested as Paolo suggests then that is how fast she became that she can break pb being in heavy training. If it so then this swimmer deserves attention because with such progress shown at training stage she can be better up to 0.3-0.5 seconds at both 100 and 200 fs at major meets. And that is can be a podium zone.


Judging by the results of Bohl’s other swimmers, I think Emma mcKeon is definitely rested. I don’t think they are tapered yet.
Although the “science” of taper is very nebulous and vary from one swimmer to another.

Craig Lord

I think that’s precisely what we’re looking at, Yozhik, unless a big mistake has been made…


Something to keep in mind with regards to Emma mcKeon progress:
Only less than a year ago mcKeon moved to train with Michael Bohl, the second move in less than a year after trained by her father and Vincent Raleigh.

So there is probability that her training with Bohl’s squad has gone well after twice coach-moving in 2014 and early last year. But we’ll see in the trials, she usually did pretty well in 2014/2015 trials/national champs.



There’s silver lining in Mckeon having to face Campbells in 100 free (and likely to miss the individual spot): She can focus on 200 free and 100 fly, and also good for the aussie relays that she doesn’t have too many events to swim.

Last year’s Kazan was definitely off for her, and Australia will rely on her to be at her peak to win 4×100 free and to medal in 4×200 and 4×100 medley.


As a matter of fact, Yozhik & Therea; I’m a joint citizen of both AUS & RSA. I’m based in AUS these days so that is what I see more of. Post 2004, I’ve had no further official involvement with South African sport ….. due to the proliferation of “bureaucrats in tracksuits” granting themselves trip to major events ahead of actual athletes.

Sorry , Therea but you may either be a more recent member or haven’t read my posts too closely as I’m certainly very much “on the record” as a sceptic of certain NCAA “next wonders of the world”. Have even been known to tweak Craig’s nose re Hannah Miley !

Yozhik, I DO like to see my teams or those I respect in various sports win but when it comes to making a call on who I THINK will win/do well; I’m unsentimental. I spent part of my formative years in apartheid era South Africa and saw the very ugly face of nationalism and as a result, have developed a major aversion to it both politically ….. and the conduct of all too many sports fans.

Therefore national sentiment really doesn’t enter the equation when “making a call”. There are AUS national teams that I DO support (almost all female) but other I don’t. I still support RSA in some sports, in others I don’t. There are individuals in a number of sports from a wide variety of countries whom I admire and support; a decision I make on what I observe of their character & their talents; not their nationality.

Yes, my perspective may be very different to your and to many others. We all view the world through different eyes …… and none of us are the repository of all the world’s wisdom. I’m very happy to be proven wrong on most things


Paolo, some interesting thoughts re that AUS W4X200. Missing the medals in Kazan was the first time in a “major” for some years.

McKeonE & Barratt’s form so far this season are certainly major plus points but at this point there hasn’t been anyone else sub 1.58.

Elmslie had a break-out season, times-wise last year but since her return, she’s yet to put up anything of any note in either the 100 or 200. Palmer has been sidelined with injuries from reports I’ve heard …. others may know more.

Ashwood …. very possibly, Wright (if this injury report is not true) … likely. Groves …. has a very iffy international record so far

Cook had a great World Juniors but her only times so far this season have been at WA titles and she was well behind Throssell who was swimming 1.58. Evans, who’s returned from injury COULD enter calculations but from her results so far, seems to be putting primary emphasis on 400IM.

Seebohm hasn’t made too many ventures over 200free over the past couple of years; not seeing her as a likely candidate. Wilson would probably only have a throw at this if she missed selection in one of the backstroke events. C1 ……. sorry no; she only enters 200s in order to perform a 100 time-trial.

AUS women will most certainly be looking to “resume normal service” after the Kazan result. McKeon & Barratt are certainly significant plusses but others will be needing to really step up at Trials; it will be interesting to see who does, how many and what times.


ASF, yes I agree, she got worse in Kazan as the competition went on & so far has proved that she is back on the improve. With the 4X 100 med with such a strong start (Seebohm) & end (either Campbell sisters), a strong McKeon in the butterfly with an improving Bhol, Australia has a great chance in the 4×100 med. The 4×200 too far behind the Americans, but strong chance for medal

CW, every swimmer this year are in pretty heavy training, some swimmers like Liesel Jones, swims close to their best during heavy training others don’t.
Based on last year, Horton, Cook, Groves, Packard, Charmers, Palmer etc, hopefully come trials time will be swimming near their best.


I think Ashwood is more 400/800 swimmer than 200. Just like her relay split last year in Kazan showed, 1:58 would make the AUS 4×200 not competitive for medal. I also think Tamsin Cook has great potential in 200/400.

If Elmslie is back to her best, AUS 4×2 should be competitive for silver (gold is USA’s).


Rob, are we seeing differing strategies being employed and swimmers at differing points of their preparation ? Absolutely.

My point is that, whilst there are certainly some who only really show up at Trials and others may pursue a stealth strategy and “hide form”; for the larger percentage we DO usually have some sort of form-line leading in.

Last season, Elmslie was in career-best form through the season in both 100 & 200; this season her form-line bears no resemblance. Ditto Packard who’s been “all over the shop”. TFH was swimming like a ruptured duck all the way into 2015 Trials …. and that in essence was what we got.

Its certainly NOT a fail safe guide; no such thing exists but current form (especially when put against career patterns) is probably the most relevant factual evidence one can use.

ASW, I too took note of Cook’s performances at World Juniors but so far this season; we have no real read on how she’s going since Dec’s WA titles where she was well off the pace of Throssell.

The W100 & 200frees will be very interesting at Trials; maybe even more so for the times of the other finalists & the relay perspective than the times of 1-2 which will be interesting in themselves.

Leave a comment

Post a comment with your SwimVortex Account. Don't have a SwimVortex Account, Sign Up?

(*) Fields are required!