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Seebohm back to her best in sizzling semi-final swim

29 July 2017

SWIMMING: Defending world champion Emily Seebohm has set a sizzling time in the women’s 200m backstroke semi-finals on night six at the Duna Arena, to move through as the fastest qualifier for tonight’s final in 2:05.81 - exactly the same time that won her the title in 2015.

With that time, the six-time world championship representative also equalled her Commonwealth and Australian record for the event, and would have won gold in Rio by 0.18 of a second; a promising sign for the 25-year-old who looks to be returning to her world beating form.

“I was just watching the heat before and thought if I’m too slow, I won’t make it through so, I really just wanted to push myself,” Seebohm said.

“It’s kind of cool that I got the same time tonight that I did in Kazan, and goes to show how the field has grown and changed over those two years being so strong now.”

Seebohm said she is enjoying racing and will be putting no pressure on herself to medal tomorrow night.

“It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow night but anything can happen, we saw that tonight in the 100 free, just because someone is in lane four, has the fastest time, and world record doesn’t mean they are going to win.

“I’m just going to go out and enjoy it, I got a world title in 2015, so it’s not like there’s pressure of getting a second, so I’m just going out to enjoy it and if I can do a bit faster than I have tonight I’ll be happy because that’s a PB and that’s all I can do.

“I don’t need the pressure of getting a medal, for me it would be awesome to get a medal, but for me it’s way more important to me to get the best out of myself than to win a medal especially after the last 12 months,” Seebohm said.

Dolphins debutant Kaylee McKeown will join Seebohm in the final after dropping over a second from her personal best time to hit the wall in 2:07.40 and progress as sixth fastest.

“Oh I didn’t know I had that in me, but I’m so happy right now,” McKeown said.

Racing in her first final tonight won’t be quite as daunting for the 16-year-old with ‘old-hand’ Seebohm showing her the ropes.

“It helps having Em (Seebohm) there, she definitely lightens the mood, we talk quite a bit, it’s great having a team mate there,” McKeown said.

After setting the pace in the men’s 4x200m freestyle heats this morning, the final team of Clyde Lewis, Mack Horton, Alex Graham and Jack Cartwright knew they had to go close to their best again tonight for a shot at a medal.

The team of fresh faces – where the oldest swimmer is Graham at just 22-years-of-age and the most experienced is 21-year-old Horton, couldn’t quite catch the early leaders and had to settle for fourth place in a time of 7:05.98.

The gold medal went to Great Britain in 7:01.70 with Russia (7:02.68) and the USA (7:03.18) collecting silver and bronze respectively.

In other events, in a stacked world championship final that included five Olympic Champions; Penny Oleksiak and Simone Manuel from the 100 free in 2016, Sarah Sjostrom from the 100 fly in 2016 (who is also the world record holder in this event), Pernille Blume from the 50m free in 2016 and Ranomi Kromowidjojo form the 100 free in 2012.

Add in dual world champion from 2015 Bronte Campbell and five-time medallist from the 2017 World Championships so far Emma McKeon and the race was on.

It had seemed that Sweden’s Sjostrom (52.31) was unbeatable at this meet, but the USA’s Manuel had other ideas when she came home over the top of the favourite to beat her to the wall and steal the title in a time of 52.27.

The fastest woman in the world, Sjostrom was left to settle for silver while the Olympic 50m champion Blume rounded out the top three in 52.69 while Olympic gold medallist, Oleksiak finished sixth.

The Aussie sprint duo of Campbell and McKeon were seventh and eighth overall in 53.18 and 53.21.

Defending champion Campbell said she was ‘over-cooked and under-done’ this week following a less than ideal preparation.

“It was just a little bit of power and energy lacking which was pretty much an indication of where I am at,” Campbell said.

“I’m just a little underdone, and at the end of five fast 100’s I’m a little bit overcooked. Underdone and Overcooked, I don’t know how I managed that, but I did,” Campbell laughed.

After impressing in both the heats and semis Taylor McKeown wasn’t able to replicate her good form for the final of the women’s 200m breaststroke with the Sunshine Coast swimmer finishing a disappointing seventh overall in 2:23.06.

Russia’s Yuliya Effimova was too strong, grabbing the gold in 2:19.64 ahead of Bethany Galat (USA 2:21.77) with the silver and Jinglin Shi (CHN 2:21.93) with the bronze.

Swimming in his first international final 18-year-old Matt Wilson (2:10.37) finished eighth overall in the men’s 200m breaststroke but showed promising signs of potential at his first world meet.

The gold went to Russia’s Anton Chupkov (2:06.96), just ahead of the Japanese duo of Yasuhiro Koseki (2:07.49) and Ippei Watanabe (2:07.47).

St Peters Western swimmer Grant Irvine surprised himself with his semi-final speed in the men’s 100m butterfly and will just sneak a spot in the final tomorrow night.

Irvine’s time of 51.31 is a new personal best, his second of the day, and ranks him as the fastest textile time in

Australian history, the second fastest Australian of all-time behind Andrew Lauterstein’s 50.85 from the super-suit era of 2009.

Irvine said he took confidence from his relay swim earlier in the meet and after five years on the team is excited to finally get the chance to race in an international final.

Men’s 100m freestyle champion Caeleb Dressell (50.07) will go in as favourite, followed by Great Britain’s James Guy (50.67) and Hungary’s Kristof Milak (50.77).

Teammate David Morgan finished 14th after the semis in a time of 51.73. With two Hungarian’s in the final line up, expect a loud and atmospheric race tomorrow night.

In a night of near misses Cameron McEvoy was denied a shot at the men’s 50m freestyle final by just 0.04 of a second after finishing ninth in 21.81.

The top qualifier for the final was 100m champion Caeleb Dressel in 21.29 followed by Russia’s Vladimir Morozov (21.60) and Great Britain’s Ben Proud (21.45).

In similar style to McEvoy in the 50free, rookie Holly Barratt was unlucky not to get a swim in the 50m butterfly final tomorrow night after clocking a new personal best time of 25.76, her second of the day and third of these Championships, to rank her ninth overall with Sarah Sjostrom from Sweden the fastest in 25.30.

Barratt was just 0.03 of a second outside the top eight, but will take confidence for the future following her results from her first world championships.

Full results are available here.

Swimming Australia

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