Gold Coast 2018 | Brits and Aussies (and Chad) clash in Men’s sprint Free
Posted On 2nd Apr 2018
Brits and Aussies (and Chad) clash in Men’s sprint Free
The sprint freestyle events (including the 200) were dominated by the Australians four years ago at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, as they won 7 of the 9 available medals, including a 1-2-3 podium sweep in the 100 free. Four years later and they’ve certainly got the talented names to pull it off again, but it won’t be easy.
The Brits, who separate into their respective countries England, Scotland and Wales for this competition, are bringing the heat, including the likes of Ben Proud, Duncan Scott and James Guy. Along with them, there are many other big names set to challenge the Australians including South African Chad Le Clos and Canadian Yuri Kisil. Let’s take a closer look at the events below:
England’s Proud comes in with the best pedigree in the 50 free, swimming the fastest time in the field over the last year by over two tenths in 21.32. After swimming that at the British Championships just under a year ago, Proud went on to win bronze at the World Championships in 21.43. The defending champion looks good for a repeat, with perhaps only one man standing in his way.
That is Australian Cameron McEvoy, the 2014 silver medalist, who has been as fast as 21.44 in 2016. He’s been known to perform better at the Australian Trials than at the big international meets in the summer, but with these Games taking place in April in his homeland, perhaps it’s the perfect storm for the 23-year-old. After that 21.44 at Olympic Trials his best swim in Rio was 21.80, then last year a 21.55 at Trials was followed with a 21.81 at the World Championships. Markedly slower at Aussie Nationals this year (21.87 prelim, 22.02 final), perhaps we’ll see him get back down to 21-mid and challenge Proud for the gold.
Behind those two there are three more men who have gone sub-22 in the last year, with Australians James Magnussen and James Roberts and South African Brad Tandy. It’s a little unknown what the capabilities of Magnussen and Roberts are now, as neither man has returned to their 2012 peak when they posted the fastest two textile 100 frees in history at the Olympic Trials. With both missing qualification in the 100, this is their only shot for individual hardware, but either doing much better than 21.9 seems unlikely.
After visa issues kept Tandy out of the 2017 World Championships, he’s ready for a return to the international scene after making the final at the 2016 Olympics. After going a career best of 21.79 to tie for 6th in Rio, the South African went even better (21.70) at the U.S. Open last summer. He’s a good bet for bronze and could move up a spot if McEvoy is off.
The 100m freestyle may very well be the most intriguing men’s race of the Commonwealth Games. The field is spearheaded by three World Championship finalists from a year ago in Duncan Scott, Jack Cartwright and McEvoy, all three of whom were 47.9 at some point in the year. Then there’s reigning Olympic gold medalist Kyle Chalmers, who sat out those Worlds to heart surgery, and South African Chad Le Clos, who won Olympic silver in the 200 free. Add in Yuri Kisil of Canada and Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago and we’ve got a stacked event that is bound to be exciting.
It’s hard to select a favorite from that bunch, but then again it’s hard to bet against Chalmers who won Australian Trials in a very impressive 48.16, just a tenth slower than he was prior to winning Olympic gold. His ability on the second 50 may just set him apart from everyone else in the field.
McEvoy, Cartwright and Scott hovered around the 47-high/48-lows last year, so it’s tough to differentiate between the three. Cartwright was the only one to swim his fastest of the year at the World Championships, but was beat out by the other two in the final in Budapest. McEvoy’s big meet experience and his ability to perform in Australia set him apart, but he’ll be in tough to take out Chalmers.
Le Clos is kind of a darkhorse in this race, simply because he doesn’t swim it that often. He’s been 48.1 once and 48.3 twice at non-Championship meets, and there’s an untapped potential in this event that we’ve yet to really see. In Rio, when he was taking out his 200s with ridiculous speed (including 23.3 in the final), it seemed clear he was capable of a time that could contend with Chalmers’ gold medal winning 47.58. He’ll get his chance here.
Kisil was 4th in this event four years ago in 49.27, but has evolved leaps and bounds since then and will challenge the big names for a medal if he’s in top form. He’s had back-to-back 10th place finishes at the Olympics and World Championships, and has split sub-48 on relays on five different occasions. Carter is coming off a solid NCAA Championship performance, though he was a little off of his swims from a year ago. He should be able to get into the final, but will need a big drop to contend for a medal.
Behind these men who have all been 48 or better in the last year, there are a slew of men in the 49-second range. They include Markus Thormeyerof Canada, Jordan Sloan of Northern Ireland, Singapore’s Darren Lim, Wales’ Calum Jarvis, Scotland’s Kieran McGuckin, and New Zealand’s Matthew Stanley, along with some of the 50 contenders such as Cumberlidge, Stanley, Perry and Thorpe.
Commonwealth Record: 1:44.06, Ian Thorpe (AUS), 2001
Commonwealth Games Record: 1:44.71, Ian Thorpe (AUS), 2002
2014 Commonwealth Champion: Thomas Fraser-Holmes (AUS)
After swimming alongside one another as teammates at the Olympics and World Championships, Scotland’s Scott and England’s James Guy come in as rivals in the 200 freestyle. The two posted 1:45.1s in the World semi-finals for the top two spots last year, only to fall short of the medals with Scott finishing 4th and Guy 5th. The two not only swam near identical times last year, but have done so once again this season as they went 1:47.8 and 1:47.9 at the Euro Meet in Luxembourg. It’s no doubt going to be a close one, but with Scott edging the 2015 world champion in the last few matchups, we’ll give him the nod.
Chad Le Clos once again needs to be considered a serious threat to win it all in this race. The Olympic silver medalist opted not to swim this event at the 2017 World Championships, but has a best (1:45.20) nearly identical to Guy and Scott. There’s a chance he drops out with the 50 fly final scheduled about 20 minutes prior to this one, but in all likelihood he’ll do both. If he decides to take it out like we saw him do at the Olympics, he may be able to hold off the Brits and snag gold. If he switches up his strategy and opts to just hang with them for the first 150, he may be able to out-sprint them at the end. Either way he’s a big threat.
The Australians will also be dangerous here, with Chalmers, Mack Horton and Alexander Grahamall going 1:46 at their Trials in March. They’ve got the 100 guy, the 400+ guy, and then the pure 200 swimmer, but will any of them be able to challenge for the top spot? Horton will be able to close like a monster, but doesn’t have the opening speed to stay with the leaders for the first 150, and Graham has only broken 1:47 once, so he has a lot to prove. Chalmers looks to be the only one who has a shot, but he’ll still need to be almost a second and a half under his lifetime best.
Scotland’s Stephen Milne has swam on the last two British 4×200 free relays at both the Olympics and World Championships, and figures into the finals picture with a best of 1:46.70. 100m contenders Jarvis, Carter, Stanley and Sloan will be joined by England’s Nicholas Grainger and Malaysia’s Welson Sim in the battle for a finals berth.