The top 10 must-watch races at Australia’s swimming trials

Men’s 200m freestyle: Tuesday, June 11 (8.40pm AEST)

The contenders are – in order of fastest times this year: Kai Taylor, Elijah Winnington, Flynn Southam, Tommy Neill, Max Giuliani, Zac Incerti and Alex Graham.

Kai Taylor and his mother Hayley Lewis.

Kai Taylor and his mother Hayley Lewis.Credit: Getty

At the Australian championships in April, Southam won the 200m freestyle in a time of one minute, 46.11 seconds, but just 0.59 seconds separated first and fifth.

Giuliani is the dark horse from Tasmania after clocking an eye-catching 1:44.79 last year – the second-fastest time in Australian history behind Ian Thorpe. Throw a blanket over these blokes.

Women’s 50m freestyle: Saturday, June 15 (7.30pm AEST)

Like the 100m freestyle, this is a difficult race to pick. Jack is hoping to make her first Olympic team and is coming off a silver medal at last year’s world championships in Japan, so should make the top two. But the one-lap dash is an event where everything needs to go right.

Olympic swimmer Cate Campbell.

Olympic swimmer Cate Campbell.

Harris, the Campbell sisters and reigning Olympic champion McKeon are all very much in the mix.

This event is on the last night of competition, so could be the final opportunity for someone to make the team.

Men’s 400m freestyle: Monday, June 10 (9.07pm AEST)

The battle here is between two swimmers at different stages of their careers: Sam Short and Winnington. Short has been on the scene for a while – he won gold in the 1500m freestyle at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, but really made a name for himself at last year’s world championships by picking up three medals (one of each colour).

His impressive victory in the 400m freestyle on night one sent a warning shot ahead of the Olympics, particularly given it was 0.61 seconds outside Paul Biedermann’s world record of 3:40.07.

Sam Short after touching the wall first in his 400m freestyle final in Fukuoka.

Sam Short after touching the wall first in his 400m freestyle final in Fukuoka.Credit: Getty

Then there’s Winnington, who was the favourite in Tokyo but bombed out and finished seventh. He came back with gold at the 2022 world championships and clocked an eye-catching 3:41.41 at the Australian championships seven weeks ago. Both will be desperate to land an early psychological blow.

Women’s 400m freestyle: Monday, June 10 (7.30pm AEST)

Provided Ariarne Titmus doesn’t fall into the pool like Ian Thorpe did 20 years ago at Australia’s trials, she will win her pet event comfortably. She is the world record holder and aiming to become the first Australian woman to win back-to-back gold medals in the same Olympic swimming event since Dawn Fraser.

Ariarne Titmus with her 400m freestyle gold medal at the world championships alongside Katie Ledecky and Erika Fairweather.

Ariarne Titmus with her 400m freestyle gold medal at the world championships alongside Katie Ledecky and Erika Fairweather.Credit: Getty Images

There’s a good chance Titmus hasn’t completely tapered, so her time in Brisbane should serve only as a guide before a blockbuster meeting with Katie Ledecky and Summer McIntosh at the Olympics.

The other one to watch is Lani Pallister (personal best 4:01.75), who is trying to make her maiden Olympic team and join a rare club of women to break the four-minute barrier in this race.

Women’s 100m backstroke: Tuesday, June 11 (7.30pm AEST)

World record holder Kaylee McKeown is all but certain to triumph in the event she won three years ago in Tokyo. Who comes second is less clear, with O’Callaghan (58.09), Iona Anderson (59.12), and Jaclyn Barclay (59.28) all going under the one-minute mark this year. It’s unclear if O’Callaghan would swim the individual backstroke event in Paris, if selected, given the 100m and 200m freestyle are her main priorities.

Australia’s Kaylee McKeown.

Australia’s Kaylee McKeown. Credit: Getty Images

Women’s 100m breaststroke: Tuesday, June 11 (7.41pm AEST)

The retirement of Chelsea Hodges, as revealed by this masthead last month, has thrown this race wide open. Jenna Strauch and Abbey Harkin are the favourites, with just 0.24 seconds separating their best times this year. The bolter is 15-year-old Sienna Toohey from Albury, who is edging closer to Leisel Jones’ age-group record set in 2000.

Men’s 200m breaststroke: Friday, June 14 (7.30pm AEST)

Reigning Olympic gold medallist Zac Stubblety-Cook has dominated this race for years but has extra motivation after coming second to China’s Qin Haiyang at last year’s world championships. Stubblety-Cook lost his world record that night and would love to post a quick time. Matt Wilson is also a former world record holder, while Joshua Yong could sneak into second spot based on form.

Men’s 100m butterfly: Saturday, June 15 (8.14pm AEST)

Matt Temple has been Australia’s best for a number of years and is a dark horse for a medal at the Olympics if he gets on the team.

It seems like a race for second between Shaun Champion, Ben Armbruster and Cody Simpson. Kyle Chalmers has entered but is unlikely to swim it in Paris, should he qualify.


Women’s 200m individual medley: Monday, June 10 (7.46pm AEST)

McKeown this year broke Steph Rice’s Australian record and is a gold medal chance at the Olympics after being disqualified in this event at the world championships in Japan. Jenna Forrester should take the other spot after her fourth finish at the same meeting last year. Ella Ramsay could sneak an upset and has gone under qualifying before.

Celebrity race: Wednesday, June 12

Channel Nine has organised a light-hearted relay with some celebrities on Wednesday night. The likes of Susie O’Neill, Duncan Armstrong, Mack Horton, Jess Schipper, Jodie Henry and Justin Norris will be in the pool, as well as Karl Stefanovic, Michelle Payne, Johnathan Thurston, Kerri Pottharst and Drew Mitchell.

2024 Australian swimming trials; exclusive, live and free on Channel 9 and 9Now from Monday, June 10. Finals start at 7.30pm AEST each night.

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