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Aussie swimmers ready to make a splash

6 August 2016

SWIMMING: The opening day of swimming will see a total of four gold up for grabs with the men’s 400m freestyle and the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay the main medal contenders for the Australian swim team.

With the top time in the world for 2016, Mack Horton will go in as the one to beat in the men’s 400m freestyle, but with competitors like Sun Yang (CHN), James Guy (GBR), Connor Jaeger (USA) and fellow Aussie David McKeon, his task of taking the Olympic title will not be easy.

Horton was suffering from a virus at the Kazan world championships in 2015 but managed to win bronze in the event and could get the opportunity for redemption when he takes on the reigning world and Olympic champion Yang and world championship silver medallist Guy once again in Rio.

This will be Horton’s first Olympic Games but he can draw experience from the company of friend and London Olympian McKeon, who will be by his side for the event.

McKeon is ranked 10th in the world for 2016 and has had an almost perfect preparation. The 24-year-old will be looking to perform at his peak, swimming in the same events as his dad Ron raced in LA in 1984.

Another highlight for night one will be our world beating women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team.

On paper the team will be tough to beat – they are the current Olympic, Commonwealth and world championship title holders, and also the world record holders.

Individually, the swimmers are also in top form.

With the combination of the sprint siblings, 100m freestyle world record holder Cate Campbell and dual world champion Bronte Campbell, confirmed for the team plus the possible additions of Emma McKeon, currently ranked fourth in the world, as well as London Olympic gold medallists in this event, Brittany Elmslie and Alicia Coutts, the girls will have their sights set high.

The first day of competition will also see our individual medley swimmers, Thomas Fraser-Holmes, Travis Mahoney, Keryn McMaster and Blair Evans, on the hunt for success in the 400m IM.

Our top ranked athletes in the 400m IM – Fraser-Holmes is fifth in the men’s and Evans eighth in the women’s – could make a move up the ranks if they can execute their race plans.

Fraser-Holmes, especially, has a strong freestyle leg, so don’t discount the Denis Cotterell-coached swimmer if he is close with one leg to go.

Other events on day one include the women’s 100m butterfly featuring an in-form Emma McKeon and Madeline Groves, and the men’s 100m breaststroke with Olympic debutants Jake Packard and Joshua Palmer.

Swimming heats will commence at 1pm Rio time (2am AEST) with finals from 10pm Rio time (11am AEST).

Make sure you don’t miss any of the action from poolside by checking out our ‘who to watch’ below.

Day 2: Keep a close eye on Jess Ashwood in the final of the women’s 400m freestyle, the podium is certainly not out of reach for this rising star. Then, you don’t want to miss the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay. With young sprint sensations Cameron McEvoy and Kyle Chalmers locked in, plus the possible additions of James Magnussen, James Roberts and Matt Abood, the boys could be on target for a top time.

Day 3: Both the men’s and women’s backstroke will take centre stage tonight with reigning world champions Mitch Larkin and Emily Seebohm having a crack at the 100m Olympic titles. Hot on Seebohm’s heels will be Denmark’s Mie Nielson and Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, along with world championship silver medallist in this event, fellow Aussie Madison Wilson.

Day 4: 200 metres is the magic number tonight with triple Olympian Bronte Barratt and her training partner and Olympic debutant Emma McKeon looking for a podium position in the final of the 200m freestyle and our men’s 4x200m freestyle relay team also hoping to fire.

Day 5: It’s the race everyone has been waiting for, the men’s 100m freestyle. Australia’s own Cameron McEvoy and Kyle Chalmers will be right in the mix for a medal. McEvoy has the top time for 2016 with a blistering entry time of 47.04 seconds, while Chalmers could pull something out of the bag and surprise us all after a solid preparation since his 48.03 seconds at the national championships.

Day 6: The women’s 100m freestyle will light up the Aquatic Centre with sprint sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell hoping to secure a spot on the podium together. Bronte is the reigning world champion and Cate the current world record holder, but the speedy siblings will have to keep a close eye on Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom, who won silver at the world championships in Kazan.

Day 7: Emily Seebohm will be back in action, this time in the women’s 200m backstroke. Joining her will be fellow Aussie Belinda Hocking, who after having a year off in 2015 has come back ready to race in Rio. Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu will also be a force to be reckoned with in this event. In the distance events, Jessica Ashwood, who is in the shape of her life, will also be looking to fire in the women’s 800m freestyle. She will come up against the USA powerhouse Katie Ledecky, but if she can stick tight to Ledecky’s lead, anything is possible.

Day 8: The men’s 1500m freestyle will steal the show. Australia has a proud history in this event and Mack Horton and Jack McLoughlin will be looking to continue that legacy.

Kathleen Rayment

olympics.com.au

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