Day 4 Heats
Canadians led the way to the final of the 200m backstroke, 100m champion Kylie Masse, on 2:09.12 and Hilary Caldwell, on 2:10.27, on the fourth morning of heats at the Gold Coast Aquatics Centre – but its the Canadian on the wing they’ll all need to watch for: Taylor Ruck, seventh through and threatening the blast of an outside-smoker.
With Australian Emily Seebohm also comfortably through, the Dolphin who beat the World champion at trials a month ago, Kaylee McKeown, will have no room for error as she races in the middle of the heat tonight.
This morning showed once more that young McKeown is struggling badly with outdoor conditions, even though this is the same pool in which she toppled the national champion four weeks back. The morning, in bright sunshine, appears to have made it worse for her, the lane line her constant companion.
In current supreme form and having won the 200m free, taken silver in the 50m free and bronze in the 100m back, Ruck will be out of the heat of the mid-pool battle – but Seebohm will be right there beside her in lane 2, McKeown caught between the outside battle and the mid-lanes fight brought by the top two Canadians through.
The line-up: Kylie Masse, 2:09.12; Hilary Caldwell, on 2:10.27 to give Canada lanes 4 and 5 in the final; Kayle McKeown, 2:10.45; England’s Jessica Fullalove, 2:11.51; Emily Seebohm, 2:11.68; European champion of 2010 Lizzie Simmonds, of England, 2:12.12; Taylor Ruck, 2:12.62, and Hayley Baker, granting three lanes to the hosts in 2:12.71.
Ruck will also feature in the 100m semis this evening. The 100m free Commonwealth Games record of 52.68, set by Cate Campbell in 2014 will surely be tested this evening when the holder steps up in lane 4 of the second semi after a 54.05 in heats.
Lane 4 in the second line-up, on current form, may offer the biggest challenge come the final: Canada’s Ruck, on 54.79. So far, the teen is handling one of the biggest programs of the meet with aplomb.
The 2015 double World sprint champion Bronte Campbell will race next to her sister after a 54.81 in heats, while Penny Oleksiak will race next to teammate Ruck on the back of a 54.88.
Others safely through to semis: Canadian Kayla Sanchez, 54.97, Australian Shayna Jack, 55.00, and England teammates Freya Anderson, 55.12, and Anna Hopkin, 55.21.
A Better Morning For England
England had a better morning just over the hill of the half-way in the pool at the Games, the charge led by Adam Peaty, Siobhan Marie O’Connor and a recovered James Guy.
South African defending champion Cameron Van Der Burgh cracked out a 27.01 in 50m breaststroke heats and then watched the man he pipped for gold four years ago, England’s Adam Peaty, go 26.98.
The Games record in the dash was felled yesterday: 26.74 at the half-way point of Peaty’s successful defence of the 100m crown.
Also safely through: Euan Inglis SCO, James McKechnie AUS, Craig Benson SCO, Elijah Wall CAN, England’s 200m champion and 100m silver medallist James Wilby, Jake Packard AUS, and South Africans Michael Houlie and Brad Tandy.
O’Connor clocked 2:11.31 for a ticket to lane 4 and the defence of the 200m medley crown this evening. Either side of her will be Canada’s Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson, on 2:12.24, and the most decorated 400IMer in Commonwealth Game history, Scotland’s Hannah Miley, on 2:12.50. England’s Abbie Wood, clocked 2:12.85, with Canada’s Sarah Darcel last through inside 2:13, on 2:12.95. England’s 400m champion Aimee Willmott, 2:13.38, and Australian Meg Bailey, 2:13.61, and Blair Evans, 2:13.63, completed the line-up for the showdown.
Into the semis, England’s Guy, leads the way in the 100m butterfly, on 53.16, the contenders all inside 54. defending champion and 200m champion for a third time last night, Chad le Clos, of South Africa, safely through in 53.67 on a day when he takes on the 100m free final in lane 4, too.
Scotland’s Sean Campsie, on 53.31; Canada’s Josiah Binnema and Australia’s 200m medallist David Morgan a match on 53.49; England’s 200m finalist Jacob Peters, 53.72; Canada’s 200m finalist Mackenzie Darragh, 53.81; and Australia’s other 200m finalist, Grant Irvine, 53.89, topped the pace this morning.
The morning after an historic victory in the 200m breaststroke, South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker cruised through to semis of the 100m on 1:07.69, topped only by Australian Georgia Bohl, on 1:07.40. All big guns sailed through: a line-up of Canadians, Kierra Smith, 1:07.81, Faith Knelson, 1:08.50, and Rachel Nicol, 1:08.87, was interrupted by Australian Jessica Hansen, 1:08.81, while England’s 50m champion Sarah Vasey went through in 1:08.95 and Wales’ 200m bronze medallist Chloe Tutton in 1:09.06 just ahead of England’s silver medallist in the 200m, Molly Renshaw, on 1:09.40.
No big misses in the women’s 800m freestyle heats – no great surprise either: just nine women showed up to eliminate one.
So, the question is FINA: where are all those millions on conferences, universality and development ‘work’ going? Why is it that Fiji, which has a FINA Bureau top tabler, can’t put up a young girl capable of racing 800m free faster than Shane Gould did in 1971 as a 14-year-old? Fiji is not alone: dozens and dozens of FINA member nations are at the Games – but hardly any of them have swimmers who can race a 400IM, a 200 ‘fly – or even a 100 ‘fly, going off the results of that race this morning.
The truth is, universality means opportunity only for the blazers playing politics and enjoying a luxury lifestyle that comes with the easy art of voting X why Y tell you too.
The questions for FINA et al are just as easy, starting with where are the swimmers – and where did all the money go?
Meanwhile, back to the 800m heats of nine women: Australians Jessica Ashwood, 8:29.30, and Ariarne Titmus, 8:32.78, the other main contenders for medals also realising that an 8:40-plus would make it.
The finals was completed by Scotland’s Camilla Hattersley, 8:35.62, defending champion for Wales Jazmin Carlin, 8:36.52, England’s Holly Hibbott, 8:39.57, Kiah Melverton, giving Australia three lanes in 8:42.01, Ellena Jones, of Wales, 8:43.89, and Kate Beavon, 8:49.16, her South African teammate Kristin Bellingan the one who missed the cut, on 9:02.
That latter time would have been good for seventh place at the 1972 Olympic Games and in 2017 ranks outside the top 250 in the world. That means that the slowest of a handful of nations over 800m free in April 2018 is the limit to Commonwealth capabilities and standards far and wide across world swimming.
I repeat: FINA – where are the swimmers, where is the development, where did all the money go?