The king and queen of Australian swimming have both delivered confidence-building performances on the first day of finals at the national championships on the Gold Coast.
Ariarne Titmus made the most of fastest qualifier Emma McKeon’s withdrawal to claim the women’s 200m freestyle title on Thursday at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre. Olympic 100m champion Kyle Chalmers then came out to hold off a young field and win his third straight national 200m freestyle title.
Titmus’s world-class winning time of one minute and 55.43 seconds was a big boost for the 20-year-old in her first real competitive hit-out since taking some time out of the pool due to a shoulder injury.
It is the third-fastest 200m time this year behind the 1:54.40 and 1:55.40 clocked by American Katie Ledecky in California last month.
“It’s good to get it out of the way,” Titmus said. “Yesterday, I was very nervous. I felt like I had a lot of expectation on me and people were kind of wondering – even myself – wondering where I would be.
“I’ve been training quite solid for a month now post everything with my shoulder. That’s one thing, it’s a different thing to come out here and put a race together.
“You can be training well but you never know how well you’re going to race and because I haven’t had much racing practice, that was something I was a little bit worried about. But it turned out pretty good.”
Chalmers, who is also ramping up preparations for June’s Olympic trials in Adelaide after shoulder surgery, clocked a 1:47.03 before revealing his desire to be a part of what he believes is a gold-medal chance in the men’s 4x200m relay at Tokyo.
“I’ve had very little racing since my shoulder surgery, this is only my second competition back, second 200 freestyle, so for me it’s all just about building the confidence back up and belief in my body,” Chalmers said. “To tick another heat and final off, it’s fantastic.”
In other results on Friday, Chelsea Hodges won the women’s 100m breaststroke and young gun Kaylee McKeown pipped veteran Emily Seebohm in the 50m backstroke decider.
Two-time world championship winner Mitch Larkin was a comfortable winner in the men’s 50m backstroke.
The championships continue on Friday with both the men’s and women’s 100m freestyle finals highlighting the action.
Chalmers will look to add another title in his pet 100m freestyle event against fellow big guns Cameron McEvoy and Mack Horton, while Titmus, McKeon as well as Cate and Bronte Campbell all potentially clash in the women’s event.