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McKeon claims first Aussie spot for world champs in Barcelona

April 26, 2013
David McKeon ... first person to book a spot on Australia's 2013 world swimming titles team bound for Barcelona : image

David McKeon … first person to book a spot on Australia’s 2013 world swimming titles team bound for Barcelona : image

Luck had nothing to do with David McKeon becoming the first person to book a spot on Australia‘s 2013 world swimming titles team bound for Barcelona.

Still, McKeon must have thought he dodged a bullet after medal threat Thomas Fraser-Holmes bombed out spectacularly in the 400m freestyle heats on Friday.

And two-time defending champion Kylie Palmer would have also wondered what hit her after fellow Queenslander Bronte Barratt earned a flight to Spain by claiming the women’s 400m freestyle crown on Friday night.

Like Ian Thorpe at the 2004 Athens Games trials, gold medal fancy Fraser-Holmes earned an immediate DQ when he overbalanced on the blocks ahead of his heat and fell into the water.

But unlike Thorpe nine years ago, Fraser-Holmes won’t earn a reprieve after defending champion McKeon finished on top of an impressive 400m final field.

NSW’s McKeon, 20, clocked the second-fastest time of the year in a personal best three minutes, 43:71 seconds – three seconds faster than when he won the national title in 2012.

Any hope Fraser-Holmes had of grabbing a last-minute 400m world titles berth was dashed by his Gold Coast training partner, 17-year-old Jordan Harrison, who claimed silver in a PB 3:45.85 on Friday night.

Fraser-Holmes could have grabbed a 400m nod if there was still a vacancy after the national titles and he had earned national team selection in another event – namely his pet 200m freestyle.

But Harrison easily eclipsed the 3:46.88 qualifying time to also earn a 2013 world titles spot.

McKeon – part of the fifth-placed 4x200m freestyle relay team and 14th in the 400m at London – was full of confidence after nabbing back-to-back national titles.

“My Olympic campaign wasn’t the best. In between trials and the Olympics, I suffered a bit of fatigue and I couldn’t back up after sessions,” McKeon said.

“I had a bit of a break after the Olympics to really focus. I feel 100 times stronger.”

Meanwhile, Barratt, 24, clocked the fastest women’s 400m freestyle time of the year in a PB 4:03.52 to win her first national crown in the eight-lap event since 2010 and deny silver medallist Palmer (4:06.00).

Meanwhile, Olympic silver medallist Christian Sprenger clocked 59.05 – the year’s fastest time – to top qualifying for the 100m breaststroke final.

Emily Seebohm (2:11.66) threw down the gauntlet to Olympic silver medallist Alicia Coutts (2:13.37) by qualifying fastest for the 200m individual medley decider.

Five-time London Games medallist Coutts was fastest ahead of the 100m butterfly final (57.93), while the Olympic teammate accused of bullying her at a Perth meet in January – Matt Targett – is the man to beat in the men’s 50m butterfly.

Finals will be held on Saturday night.

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