QLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, Finals, Day 2: Pin Up Girls Mollie O’Callaghan, Ariarne Titmus and Kaylee McKeown Live Up To Their Star Billing
Local pin up girls Mollie O’Callaghan, Ariarne Titmus and Kaylee McKeown were billed as the star attractions of this week’s 2023 Hancock Prospecting Queensland Championships at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre – and they lived up to all expectations on the opening night of individual finals.
RECORD TOUCH: Mollie O’Callaghan overcame her doubts to set a new Queensland All-Comers Record in the 200m freestyle. Photo Courtesy Wade Brennan Photography
World champion O’Callaghan delivered a new Queensland All-Comers Record, swimming alongside a relieved Olympic champion in Titmus who returned to competition with flying colours for the first time since undergoing abdominal surgery in September.
O’Callaghan (St Peters Western) powered home over the final 100m to take out the 200m freestyle in a solid time of 1:54.36 (26.80; 56.24; 1:25.65) – a race she now describes as “her baby” after winning the world title in a new world record time of 1:52.85 in Fukuoka this year.
The 19-year-old admitting, she was that tired and mentally drained she was unsure how she was going to pull off her race tonight.
“It’s definitely about racing with the mental aspect, you can be physically drained, but you need to stay mentally strong and push through it,” said O’Callaghan.
“I wanted to do well tonight to see how I’d go, for me coming off worlds, having a break, then doing rehab, then getting sick for three weeks, I was mentally down and a bit up and down for a while.
“I was nervous about if I had done enough work to catch up so truthfully it’s nice to get my main event done first up.
“Everyone knows I’m a bit of a nervous racer especially for this one, it’s my baby at the moment, I’m not going to lie, I’ve put allot into it, it’s nice to get it done.
“I have three individual events tomorrow so I’m interested to see how I go and if I can handle the fatigue.”
It was her fellow relay world champion and SPW teammate Shayna Jack who led the field through the first 100 in 55.25 before O’Callaghan and Titmus (St Peters Western) tried with all her might to hang on – coming in second in 1:55.99.
ARIARNE TITMUS: Back in the fast lane. Photo Courtesy Wade Brennan Photography
Titmus said after the heats this morning she had never swum “so tired” in all her life after managing her return to training just six weeks ago after undergoing abdominal surgery to remove benign tumors from one of her ovaries in September.
Digging deep to clock 1:55.99 as backstroking queen McKeown (Griffith University) gate-crashed the freestyling podium to snatch third from lane nine in 1:56.14 – after dead-heating for ninth in the preliminary heats to scrape into the final.
McKeown left behind noted freestylers Lani Pallister (Griffith University) 1:56.31, Brianna Throssell (St Peters Western) 1:56.99, Meg Harris (Rackley Swim Team) 1:57.56 and Kiah Melverton (St Peters Western) 1:58.76 before returning to her first love – the 100m backstroke.
The triple world champion, who only just missed her own 50m backstroke world record in yesterday’s inter-club medley relay, was back in the water later in the night this time clocking a new Queensland All-Comers record in winning the 100m backstroke in a time of 57.79 (28.38) – just 0.46 outside her own world mark of 57.33, set at the Budapest World Cup.
McKeown showed why she is the world’s dominant backstroker, stop watches and cameras at bother ready every time she dives in for a race and she has a full book to go this eek with the women’s 100m freestyle, butterfly and breaststroke and the 200IM.
Tonight she again showed her dominance, just 0.23 outside her own world record split at the 50m turn, powering home in 29.41 – for another world class swim ahead of 18-year-old WA rising star Iona Anderson (Breakers SC) 59.43 and the ever present O’Callaghan (59.53) with another emerging teenager, 16-year-old Jaclyn Barclay (St Peters Western) 1:00.00.
And as tired as Titmus felt this morning, she will sleep tonight, finishing off her busy day with a win in the 800m freestyle in 8:25.40 from SPW team mate Kiah Melverton (8:28.04) and New Zealand training partner Eve Thomas third in 8:31.55.
Titmus saying she really didn’t come into the meet with any expectations.
“I felt like the 200m free was going to be the worst out of the three this week as I haven’t got much speed. I said to myself this morning if I can crack 1.56 tonight, I’ll be happy…So to go 1.55.99 I’m pretty happy, I had no clue where I’d be, it’s just fun to get the suit back on and have a week away from training as it’s been a bit of a grind coming into the meet,” said Titmus.
“It’s great to get the race juices flowing again, sometimes when you’re on break or you have a long time without racing you get in your own training worlds. That’s when you start thinking maybe I’m not ready and whether I want to race but then you get back into a race environment and it all comes back and it’s a nice feeling.”
CLASS ACT: Kaylee McKeown nails her 100m backstroke start in Brisbane. Photo Courtesy Wade Brennan Photography