5 Takeaways From The 2024 Australian Open Championships


By Retta Race on SwimSwam


The 2024 Australian Open Championships wrapped up last weekend but not before multiple impressive performances were put on the books just 2 months out from the nation’s Olympic Trials. As the dust has settled from the 4-day competition, let’s take a look at 5 of the top stories what came out of the swift meet.

#1 Kaylee McKeown Solidifies IM Queen Status

22-year-old Kaylee McKeown ended the Open Championships ranked #1 in the world across an incredible 5 individual events.

The Griffith star already owned the top times in the world in the 50m and 100m backstrokes and she also nailed a new season-best of 2:03.84 to put the globe on notice.

But it was in the 200m and 400m IM events where the Michael Bohl-trained athlete really stole the spotlight, registering new Australian national records in each.

The 200m IM saw McKeown fired off a new national mark of 2:06.99, overtaking Olympic champion Stephanie Rice‘s supersuited swim of 2:07.03 that’s been on the books since 2009. She now ranks as the 5th-best performer in history.

In the longer distance, McKeown stopped the clock in a rapid 4:28.22 to score a new Aussie standard, erasing Rice’s 4:29.45 that was established over 15 years ago at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. McKeown inserted herself into the list of all-time performers in slot #3.

Although McKeown confirmed she will not be racing the 400m IM in Paris, she did state she would be pursuing the grueling 200m back/200m IM double this summer. According to the Olympic schedule, this means that, if all goes according to plan, McKeown would race the 200m IM semi-final less than an hour after the 200m back final on day 7.

Day 7 Finals Men 50m Freestyle Final – 2:30pm
Women 200m Backstroke Final – 2:39pm
Men 200m Individual Medley Final – 2:49pm
Men 100m Butterfly Semi-Final – 3:09pm
Women 200m Individual Medley Semi-Final – 3:34pm

#2 Meg Harris at Her Best

22-year-old Meg Harris put up 2 new personal bests over the course of the competition, putting her fellow domestic speedsters on notice.

The Rackley-trained sprinter clocked a time of 52.60 in the heats of the women’s 100m free, demolishing her previous PB of 52.92 in the process. That prior effort was established nearly 3 years ago at the 2021 Australian Olympic Trials where she placed 4th. She went on to win two medals at the Tokyo Olympics: a gold in the 4×100 free relay and a bronze in the 4×200 free relay.

She ultimately touched in 52.59 in the final to prove that heats swim wasn’t a fluke.

Harris also nailed a new PB in the 50m free, scoring gold in 24.28 to tie Shayna Jack. Entering this meet Harris carried a PB of 24.29 from last year’s Sydney Open so she managed to shave .01 off to capture the gold.

Harris left coach Peter Bishop at the beginning of this season to train under Damien Jones, and the new training environment looks to be paying off just months before the Olympic Trials.

#3 Winnington Lit a Spark

23-year-old Elijah Winnington of St. Peters Western made his presence known from the very first night, ripping a time of 3:41.41 to win the men’s 400m free.

That particular race was unique in that the last 3 world champions were among the field – Winnington won it in 2022, Sam Short last year in Fukuoka and then South Korea’s Kim Woomin this time around in Doha.

Winnington’s result was only .19 off his lifetime best of 3:41.22 as he now ranks #2 in the world on the season.

The ace also tried the 200m free on for size, earning the silver in 1:46.56 behind winner Flynn Southam‘s result of 1:46.11. Winnington was faster in the morning, putting up a heats swim of 1:46.08 to come just over half a second off his lifetime best of 1:45.53 produced at the 2022 World Championships.

#4 MOC’s Versatility

With world record holder McKeown not among the women’s 100m backstroke racers, 20-year-old Mollie O’Callaghan lit up the pool with a shiny new personal best en route to capturing victory.

MOC crushed a mark of 58.09 (28.60/29.49) to obliterate her previous PB of 58.42 from the 2023 edition of the championships. MOC is now the #2 Australian performer in history, frog hopping 34-year-old new mom Emily Seebohm.

The reigning world record holder in the 200m free also made some major noise in that event, turning in a time of 1:53.57 to beat current Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus by nearly 2 seconds.

MOC entered this meet ranked highest worldwide among the Aussies, having put up a time of 1:54.36 at December’s Queensland Championships.

The Dean Boxall-trained superstar rocketed up the world rankings to now be #1. She took the crown from Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey (1:54.08) as the only sub-1:54 swimmer on the planet thus far this season.

Additionally, MOC’s 1:53.57 ranks as the 7th-swiftest performance in history, a fact which is mind-blowing considering this was an in-season affair.

#5 William Petric Continues Improvement

19-year-old William Petric of Nunawading was stellar across both the 200m and 400m IMs, establishing new lifetime bests in each which is a good sign with 2 months to go until Olympic Trials.

In a confidence boost, Petric notched 1:58.53 to win the 200m IM over New Zealand’s Lewis Clareburt. Petric’s result improved upon the 1:58.78 personal best he logged at last month’s New South Wales Championships, a time which represented the strong breaststroker’s first-ever foray under the 2:00 barrier.

Petric was the fastest Aussie in the long IM as well where he boasted a time of 4:13.55. That surpassed the 4:14.07 also from last month’s NSW Championships and inched him closer to the 4:12.50 Olympic selection standard, a benchmark under which just 2 Aussies have ever been.

Petric’s outing inserted him onto the list of all-time Aussie performers in slot #6.

All-Time Aussie Men’s LCM 400 IM Performers

  1. Brendon Smith – 4:09.27, 2021
  2. Thomas Fraser-Holmes – 4:10.14, 2013
  3. Clyde Lewis – 4:13.12, 2018
  4. Travis Mahoney – 4:13.37, 2016
  5. Tommy Neill – 4:13.43, 2023
  6. William Petric – 4:13.55, 2024

SwimSwam: 5 Takeaways From The 2024 Australian Open Championships

You must be logged in to post a comment Login