Olympic champions Kaylee McKeown and Zac Stubblety-Cook have shaken the life out of their respective 200m world records on the final night of the 2023 Sydney Open And UNISPORT Nationals at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.
McKeown completed a non-stop three-day program, clocking the second fastest 200m backstroke of her career, stopping the clock at 2:04.18 (29.18; 1:01.04; 1:32.68) – 1.04 secs outside her own world time of 2:03.14 (29.34; 1:00.73; 1:31.84).
It was only in March this year at SOPAC that McKeown added the 200m backstroke world mark to her 100m WR, and she has again been in scintillating form here – setting a new Australian All-Comers record in the 200IM (2:07.19) and a personal best in the 400IM (4:31.68), as well as a world class time of 58.33 to win the 100m backstroke.
McKeown never lets a chance go by for the swimmer who now owns six of the fastest 10 200m backstroke times ever swum and 11 of the fastest 25 times between her world record of 2:03.14 and the 25th fastest time of 2:05.55.
While Stubblety-Cook stopped the clock at 2:07.62 (29.81; 1:02.69; 1:35.43) in his specialist 200m breaststroke – 1.67 secs outside his own world mark of 2:05.95 (29.43;1:01.89;1:34.32), set in Adelaide last May – and takes him into third place on the 2022-23 world rankings.
Queenslander Stubblety-Cook only arrived in Sydney yesterday for today’s final day’s racing– his only swim of the meet and in the event he has owned for the past three years.
Former world record holder Matthew Wilson (SOPAC) took the race out as he did in the 2022 world record swim, leading Stubblety-Cook narrowly at the 50m mark, before the reigning World and Olympic champion built through the 100 and 150m marks, extending his lead over Wilson, who stopped the clock in an encouraging 2:11.30.
The men’s 100m backstroke saw Josh Edwards-Smith (Griffith University Swim Club, QLD) 54.75 complete the 100-200m double ahead of Bradley Woodward (Western Sydney Uni, NSW) 54.84 and Ty Hartwell (QUT, QLD) 55.71.
Among the Multi-Class winners were Tom Gallagher (Somerset, QLD) 52.83 in the men’s 100m freestyle, Alexa Leary (St Hilda’s, QLD) 1:00.66 the women’s 100m freestyle, Ricky Betar (Cruiz, ACT) 2:18.45 and Jasmine Greenwood (University of Canberra, ACT) 2:34.83 in their respective 200m individual medleys.
In other highlights of the final night, Lani Pallister (Griffith University Swim Club) won the 800m freestyle in 8:22.93 ahead of New Zealand’s 200 and 400m freestyle winner Erika Fairweather (8:30.70) with Madeleine Gough (Bond University, QLD) third in 8:34.05.
The men’s 200m freestyle saw Bond University’s 17-year-old Flynn Southam just outside his best time, winning in 1:46.36 and taking out both the inter-club and UniSport National titles.
With Southam’s Bond Uni teammates, 16-year-old Milla Jansen winning the women’s 100m freestyle (54.83) and 21-year-old Ben Armbruster the men’s 50m butterfly in 23.35 from Cameron Gray (New Zealand) 23.67 and Cameron McEvoy (Somerville House, QLD) 23.70.
And after three days of competition, it was Bond University who were crowned the UNISPORT National University Champions, awarded the Bill Berge-Phillips Trophy with 724 points from the University of Queensland (543) and the Queensland University of Technology (336) third.
Bond also won the Men’s pointscore on 375, from the University of Queensland (184) and Western Sydney University (180) while the University of Queensland (359) won the women’s pointscore from Bond University (349) and Queensland University of Technology (207).