Australia's Titmus, Chalmers, Larkin hit form as Olympics loom

Sydney (AFP) –


Ariarne Titmus admitted it was a relief to be racing again as she ramped up preparations for the Tokyo Olympics by storming to the women's 200m freestyle title at the Australian championships Thursday.

The 20-year-old, one of Australia's top gold medal prospects, hit the wall in 1min 55.43sec, well inside the qualifying standard to make the country's Olympic team.

Australia holds its Olympic trials in June.

"It's a pretty tough field at the moment, we've got some really great girls coming through, which is good for our (4x200) relay," said Titmus, who touched ahead of Madison Wilson and Brianna Throssell.

"They were pushing me along out there, it was fun."

Rio Olympic bronze medallist Emma McKeon, the fastest qualifier, pulled out ahead of the race to focus on her other events.

"It's just really good for me to be back racing, it's been a long time," added Titmus, who took silver at the 2019 world championships in South Korea behind Italian veteran Federica Pellegrini.

"I've got 99 days now until Tokyo and everything I do between now and then is really important."

Titmus will also race the 400m at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, where heats are in the evening and finals in the morning, mimicking the schedule in Japan.

How she fares will be closely watched after stunning American freestyle great Katie Ledecky to win the world title two years ago.

Reigning Olympic 100m freestyle champion Kyle Chalmers clocked 1:47.03 to win the men's 200m ahead of Alexander Graham and young prospect Elijah Winnington.

But his time was more than a second outside the mark needed to qualify for Tokyo, leaving him with work to do heading into the trials.

Elsewhere, Zac Stubblety-Cook swam under a minute (59.87) to claim the men's 100m breaststroke crown, well shy of British Olympic champion Adam Peaty who regularly swims under 58 seconds.

Fast-rising star Kaylee McKeown narrowly missed a Commonwealth record in the women's 50m backstroke, touching in 27.45, just ahead of two-time Olympic relay gold medallist Emily Seebohm, who holds that mark and is targeting a fourth Olympics.

Mitch Larkin, the Rio Olympic 100m backstroke silver medallist, powered to the 50m title in 24.75.

Australia won 10 medals in the pool at the 2016 Games in Rio, matching their feat from London four years earlier, but well down on the 20 they clinched in Beijing in 2008.