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Chalmers keeps calm and qualifies on top

10 August 2016

SWIMMING: At just 18 years of age Kyle Chalmers seems to have wisdom beyond his years and is proving a force to be reckoned with in the men’s 100m freestyle.

The South Australian Olympic debutant took lessons from his bronze medal winning relay swim into the heat of the men’s 100m freestyle and will move through to the semi-finals ranked first.

Despite turning last at the 50 metre mark, Chalmers kept his cool and turned up the pace on the final lap to touch in a new World Junior Record time of 47.90.

When asked if he was worried about being last at the turn, Chalmers was confident he knew what he had to do to get through.

“No not at all, I know that my back end is my strength,” Chalmers said.

“I had a good turn and worked that last 15 (metres) into the wall and I’m very happy”

His laidback demeanour and positive attitude are similar to that of his Olympic roommate and potentially biggest rival, Cameron McEvoy and McEvoy thinks Chalmers still has more to give.

“Yeah well he’s ranked first, he just snuck under 48 for the first time, which is amazing and he’s handled it so well mentally,” McEvoy said.

“I’ve been in the same apartment with him and he’s just been so easy going and it’s very much the same way I approach my competition and I definitely think he’s got a little bit more in the tank for tonight and potentially tomorrow night too.”

McEvoy, the World Championships silver medallist in this event was the fourth fastest qualifier after taking out his heat in a comfortable 48.12.

In a testament to how fast this morning’s heats were, the reigning world champion Ning Zetao (48.57) from China and defending Olympic champion Nathan Adrian (48.58) from the USA only just scraped through to the semi-finals in 14th and 16th place respectively.

But McEvoy wisely insists the heat results are not always a sign of who is swimming well.

“It definitely shows that the standard of international swimming has improved, but I believe that is not indication of the potential they have,” McEvoy added.

“The heats are just about getting through and for a few of them it would have been their first race too, so kind of seeing where they are with the taper and adjusting things as they need to be adjusted,” McEvoy said of his rivals.

With a blistering personal best time of 47.04 from the Australian Championships in April, McEvoy is one of the favourites for this event, and with his new partner in crime Chalmers, who split a 47.00 in the heats of the 4x100m free relay, it would seem the duo have both the physical and mental potential to produce remarkable swims under pressure.

Meanwhile in the women’s 200m butterfly heats Australia’s Madeline Groves said her excitement levels would be the key to her swimming well.

The 21 year-old, who had the fastest time in the world for 2016 coming into the Olympic Games, will do all she can to pump herself up and get excited about the semi-final tonight.

“I just need to be focussing on myself and be, I think actually quite emotional really, being really, really excited and just can’t wait to get out there,” Groves said.

“That’s the way I felt this morning and I think that’s why I did a very good heat swim.”

Groves finished fourth overall following the heats with a 2:07.02 and if she can get herself a lane in the final, anything is possible.

“Right now I need to focus on my recovery, go and swim down, get some food in me, maybe have a little bit of a nap and then I’m not too worried about times, I just want to be sort of top two or three in my semi and then that should get me through to the last round of the title fight hopefully!”

Joining her in the semi-finals is teammate Brianna Throssell who will progress from the heats ranked 10th.

The West Australian hit the wall in a time of 2:07.76 but with just over one second separating the top 10 she will be hoping to get her hand on the wall ahead of the field tonight and sneak into the top eight for a finals berth.

The last event of the morning saw the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay fighting for a spot in the final after finishing fifth in their heat.

The quartet of Dan Smith, Mack Horton, Jacob Hansford and Thomas Fraser-Holmes had a scare as their heat was significantly faster than the previous, but the boys brought it home and managed to qualify sixth fastest overall - with only one team from the first heat ahead on the standings.

Smith got the team off to a solid start touching for the changeover in a time of 1:47.55, and said he was hoping he had done enough to make the final team tonight.

“It was amazing, I thought I was going to go a bit quicker but it was a good, hard heat swim and I actually did give it my all,” Smith said.

“Hopefully it’s enough to get into the final team tonight and then I’ll see what I can do!”

Gold medallist from the 400m freestyle Horton continued his run of success splitting a speedy 1:46.32 to move the team into second place at the change.

The third leg saw Australian swim team rookie Hansford get his first taste of Olympic competition and the 20 year-old split a respectable 1:47.70 with Fraser-Holmes to come.

There was a bit of work to be done by Fraser-Holmes to ensure a final spot and he managed to keep in the mix and get his hand on the wall in fifth place for a total time of 7:07.98.

Great Britain were the top qualifiers in 7:06.31 followed by the USA in 7:06.74 and Russia rounded out the top three in 7:06.81.

The Aussie team will all be looking to pick up the pace tonight to be in with a chance at a medal.

Finals will commence at 10pm Tuesday August 9 (11am Wednesday August 10 AEST).

Kathleen Rayment

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