The Tokyo Olympics are all set to kick off on July 23rd after a year-long delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The favorites to take home most of the top places in swimming are Team USA, but Australia has also often impressed at the Summer Olympics in the sport. Australia boast more gold medals in swimming than all other sports combined in their Olympic history.
In this article, we will take a look at 5 Australian swimmers to watch out for at the Tokyo Olympics :
#5 Cate Campbell
Since claiming 2 bronze medals as a 16-year-old in her Olympic debut in Beijing in 2008, Cate Campbell has remained one of the fastest swimmers in the world. She had bagged a gold medal at the London Olympics in 2012 as Australia won the 4 x 100 freestyle relay.
She did not stop there as she became the 100m freestyle champion and claimed the world record for the same in 2016. Rio 2016 also turned out to be a fruitful Games for her as she won another gold medal in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay.
“It's almost like never being satisfied that has kept me in the sport.” - Cate said as she is now preparing for the Tokyo Olympics in full force.
She was the favorite to win the 100m freestyle in Rio 2016 having recently broken the world record, but a small mistake at the start led to a sixth-place finish. But Caty didn’t let this disappointment affect her elite mentality as she made a comeback in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and bagged 3 golds and a silver medal.
Cate believes she has nothing to prove in the upcoming Olympics and will try to be the first Australian swimmer to compete in 5 Olympics.
#4 Mitch Larkin
Australian Swimmer Mitch Larkin made his Olympic debut at the London Olympics in 2012 as the second youngest athlete in the Australian team at the age of 19. He was in top form before the Rio Olympics, having just set a new 200m backstroke (short course) world record.
Larkin was the favorite to win both of his events, but to everyone’s surprise, only came away with a silver in the 200m backstroke event. Since then he has had a different coaching team and changed his event focus to 200m IM (Individual Medley) instead of the 200m backstroke.
Larkin is coming off a gold and bronze medal win in the 2019 World Championships. He’s likely to play an important part in the team relays as well as 100m backstrokes. He might even be the surprise Australian swimmer at the 200m IM event.
#3 Emma McKeon
Emma McKeon announced herself to the world in 2014 as she claimed 4 gold and 2 bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games to help the Australian relay team set a new world record in the 400m freestyle relay. However, she only managed a bronze in 2the 200m freestyle at the Rio Olympics in 2016 as Sarah Sjostrom and Katie Ledecky took the top 2 spots.
Though having gone under the radar the past few years, Emma McKeon could play a role in 4 of Australia’s relay races as they all have podium-finishing potential. Australian swimming coach Rohan Taylor confirmed that relays were firmly on his mind.
“I would say this: we want to really try to maximise our relays,” Taylor said.
Apart from the 4 relays, she will also be a threat in 100m freestyle, butterfly and 200m freestyle. Emma is one of the most versatile swimmers on the planet.
#2 Kyle Chalmers
The wonderkid shocked the world in Rio 2016 as an 18-year-old by snatching the gold medal in the 100m freestyle from the likes of Nathan Adrian and Cameron McEvoy. Australian swimmer Chalmers won gold and 2 bronze medals on his Olympic debut at the age of 18 and hasn’t looked back since.
He performed well at the 2018 Commonwealth Games as well and got 4 gold and a silver medal and was among the medals at the World Championships the following year.
Caeleb Dressel has kept Chalmers under wraps for the past few years and taken the 100m freestyle world title away from him in 2019. But the 47 dead time will worry Dressel as he’ll come up against the defending Olympic Champion at the Tokyo Olympics.
"It definitely makes me happy, but I'm definitely hungry for more,” said Kyle Chalmers after winning the 200m freestyle title.
#1 Kaylee McKeown
Kaylee McKeown shocked everyone in 2017 as she finished second in the 200m backstroke at the National Championships at just 16 years of age. This ensured a spot in the team for the 2019 World Championships, where she won a silver medal in the 200m backstroke.
She had herbreakout year in 2020 as she broke the short course 200m backstroke world record and posted an all-time second best in100m backstroke and third best in 200m backstroke.
She is only 19 still and has made herself the one to beat in her events at the Olympics. The Australian Medley relay team has medal winning potential too and she is an integral part of the team due to her time in backstroke.
This will be her Olympic debut and Australia have a plethora of options for the 100m and 200m backstroke events, with Emily Seebohm also pushing for a place. But McKeown has momentum on her side and if she keeps performing at this level, there is no doubt that the Tokyo Olympics will be a fruitful venture for her as well as Australia.