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London too far for Skippy to jump

21 March 2012

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Geoff Huegill has fallen short of writing another chapter in his fairy tale comeback, by finishing fifth in Wednesday night's 100m butterfly behind Chris Wright to miss nomination on the Australian Olympic team at the 2012 National Championships in Adelaide.

The 33-year-old ‘Skippy’ Huegill, whose final preparations were disrupted by a double root canal, touched second at the turn but was unable to hold off the rampaging Wright, who snared gold in 51.67. Sydney-based Jayden Hadler scored his second individual swim in London touching second 52.09.

“We’ve got excellent depth in the men’s and the 200 butterfly in particular has come on in leaps and bounds which is credit to guys like Chris and Jayden,” Huegill said. “It’s good to see the depth in the sport at the moment – it’s just exploded.”

“We’ve seen some lightning performances in the men’s team over the last week and they’ve shown that there’s plenty of depth in the freestyle, butterfly and medley, and that they’ll be hot on the pace in London.”

For Wright, it marked a triumphant return to national competition after missing the bulk of last year – including the 2011 national titles – with a severe back injury.

However, the 23-year-old showed no ill-effects from the ailment, not only claiming another Olympic start having already booked a 200m butterfly swim, but doing so in a personal best time and the fastest over the distance this year.

“I can’t get any more excited than that,” Wright said. “It’s my first Olympic team, I’m just stoked to get on the team and to get two swims – the 100 and 200 – that was the main goal for me and I’m happy that I did that.”

Meanwhile, reigning world champion James ‘The Missile Magnussen has taken the sprint double, with a win in the men’s 50m freestyle over Eamon Sullivan (21.92). The 20-year-old superstar’s time of 21.74 is the best time by an Australian in a textile suit and the world’s seventh fastest of all time. The performance enabled Magnussen to set an astounding four new personal best times over the course of the championships.

“I’ve had six races, six wins and six improvements on my time,” Magnussen said. “I go into every race backing myself and I’ll certainly be confident going into this event in London – people are going to sit up and take notice.”

Sullivan proved he’ll be a force in London, having overcome a wretched run of injuries in recent years.

“You can’t change the past, it’s about the future,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what you did in the pool it’s about getting up on the blocks and looking forward.”

Magnussen and Sullivan had to mow down world championship-winning relay teammate Matt Abood, who, despite being the quickest off the blocks, had to settle for third with a time of 21.94.

Defending champion Belinda Hocking clocked the fastest time in the world this year for the women’s 200m backstroke, stopping the clock in a commanding 2:06.68. The 21-year-old, who will also compete in the 100m backstroke in London, was marginally slower than her 2011 Commonwealth and Australian record time of 2:06.06.

Beijing Olympian Megan Nay fought hard to stay with Hocking in a two-horse race over the distance and touched second with a time of 2:07.83. Hocking and Nay blitzed the field, finishing nearly three seconds ahead of Queenslander Mikkayla Sheridan (2:10.33).

Dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist Kylie Palmer will swim three events at the 2012 London Olympic Games after claiming the women’s 800m freestyle in an impressive 8:26.60.

The Australian record holder for this event beat home world championship representative Jessica Ashwood who has made her first Olympic Team after finishing second in a time of 8:27.97. 2008 Olympian and open water champion Melissa Gorman rounded out the top three touching the wall in 8:29.73.

Sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell have established themselves as the pacesetters ahead of Thursday night’s 50m freestyle final. The Campbell’s won their respective semi-finals, with Cate progressing in a top time of 24.55, while younger sibling Bronte was second through in 25.29. The dream of an individual swim is still very much alive for Commonwealth record holder Libby Trickett, who tore through her lap in 24.86, with 2010 titleholder Yolane Kukla claiming the fourth seed with her time of 24.96.

The 50m freestyle for women and the men’s 1500m are the final two Olympic events contested at the National Championships. At the conclusion of the final session of competition on Thursday evening the Australian Olympic Committee will officially announce the selection of the Swimming Section of the 2012 Australian Olympic Team.

Swimming Australia

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