Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus swam the second fastest 400m freestyle this year, on Tuesday, to book her place at next month’s world championships, as did fellow swimming superstars Emma McKeon and Kaylee McKeown.
Titmus, who lost her world record to teenage Canadian sensation Summer McIntosh in March, touched in 3:58.47 to win easily ahead of Lani Pallister at Australia’s world championship trials in Melbourne.
“It wasn’t the best 400, but every swim under four minutes is a fast swim,” said Titmus, who chased down American great Katie Ledecky to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics.
“But honestly, I would have preferred to be a bit faster tonight.”
McIntosh’s stunning 3:56.08 this year broke the 3:56.40 world record Titmus clocked in 2022 when she bettered Ledecky’s six-year-old mark of 3:56.46 set at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The emergence of 16-year-old McIntosh as a serious contender sets the scene for a blockbuster 400m clash between the trio at the worlds in Fukuoka, Japan, next month.
Titmus will also swim the 100m, 200m, and 800m freestyle in Melbourne.
In the men’s 400m freestyle, 2016 Olympic champion Mack Horton could only come third behind exciting young prospect Sam Short (3:43.38), who pipped reigning world champion Elijah Winnington with both inside the qualifying time.
The versatile McKeown cruised to victory in the 200m medley, hitting the wall in an impressive 2:07.60 -- the second fastest this year behind McIntosh.
The Olympic 100m and 200m backstroke champion and dual world record holder touched well clear of Jenna Forrester, who also qualified.
“Really nice relief to gain a qualification on the first night of racing. Always good to blow out those cobwebs on the first race,” said McKeown, who will also race the three backstroke disciplines in Melbourne and also the 200m freestyle.
Seven-time Tokyo Olympic medallist McKeon booked her seat to Japan by touching first in the 100m butterfly in 56.74 ahead of Brianna Throssell.
McKeon will also suit up for the 50m fly and the 50m and 100m freestyle but has opted out of the 200m free.
“I was hoping for a bit quicker, but it was obviously just about making the team,” said McKeon. “This year is just another stepping-stone to Paris (Olympics).”
In a setback, 200m breaststroke world record holder Zac Stubblety-Cook failed to crack the automatic qualifying time over 100m. He could still be selected, at the discretion of national coach Rohan Taylor.
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