Seebohm enjoys backstroke title success
EMILY Seebohm is relishing the opportunity to be the hunter when she launches her world title defence in Hungary.
Seebohm won her 10th national title in the 100m backstroke in Brisbane on Monday night in 58.62sec, her fastest time over the distance since 2015.
A world champion in the 100 and 200m backstroke at the 2015 world championships, Seebohm was diagnosed with endometriosis before the Olympics last year but delayed surgery until after the Games.
The 24-year-old said with her body now having had time to heal completely, she was excited at the prospects of defending her world titles.
"It's definitely the quickest I've been since 2015," she said.
"I think because I had the time to actually let myself full recover.
"Last year was really hard because I didn't have any time (leading into the Olympics).
"But this time I took a month-and-a-half to recover from all my surgeries and I think that helped me mentally refresh and be able to come into this year and let myself not feel any pressure."
While Monday night's winning time of 58.62 puts her at No.2 in the world, Seebohm is relishing the chance to chase Canada's world leader Kylie Masse.
"I'm excited because I won't be the one that's being chased this time and I'll have someone to chase," she said.
"And I think for me, mentally, that's better."
And it's likely to be a different race from Seebohm when she hits the water in Hungary.
Usually a frontrunner, she is trying to keep her powder dry for the final 50m in a bid to prevent fading at the finish.
"This year I just wanted to try a different race plan," she said.
"Usually I always have really good speed at the front but I wanted to save a little bit for the back end.
"I could push a really good 35m (of the final lap) and then I started dying in that final 15m.
"So it was a different way to do it and a different approach and I think that worked for me."
Seebohm's win was almost overshadowed by a thrilling men's 200m freestyle final which left athletes and selectors scratching their heads after no swimmer in the crack field met the qualifying time for Hungary.
Cameron McEvoy's plans to swim three individual events at the world championships are in grave doubt after he finished fifth in an extraordinary final.
McEvoy led the field through the opening 150m but was swamped by Olympic 400m champion Mack Horton and Rio 100m gold medallist Kyle Chalmers in the final lap.
Neither of them met the qualifying time of 1min 46.45sec and with neither likely to want to add the 200m to their world championship program, individual selection is likely to be at the discretion of selectors and head coach Jacco Verhaeren.
But with the combined times of the first four swimmers well under that required for relay qualification, selection is likely to roll down, with third and fourth-placed swimmers, Alexander Graham and Jack Cartwright likely to gain individual swims if Horton and Chalmers decline.
Horton (1:46.83) gave away almost a full second to McEvoy at the final turn in the final but came over the top of his rivals, with McEvoy posting the third-slowest final 50m of the field to slip to fifth overall.
Rio 400m champion Horton said he was unlikely to swim the 200m in Hungary this year even if offered the spot.
"I'd like to be able to do it one day and do the 200m, 400m and 1500m but this year is probably not the year," Horton said.
"But I do want to do the relay.
"I don't know what happens now."
Horton stormed home in the outside lane and said he had the perfect draw with Chalmers and McEvoy inside him.
"I think was was in a really good position in lane eight with Kyle and Cam (next to me),'' he said.
"Cam kind of took Kyle out and then I went with Kyle and Kyle knows how to bring it home and if I could bring it home over him, it's a good place to be."
The result will be a disappointment for McEvoy, who said after his heat swim yesterday his plan was still to swim three individual events at the world titles in Hungary in July.
"I want to do the 50m, 100m and 200m, so it's definitely on the agenda,'' he said after yesterday's heat swim.
The Bond University swimmer admitted the revamped program had proved a challenge and he had found it difficult to switch from the speed required for the 50m on Sunday, to the slower stroke rate and endurance required in the 200m.
"I haven't had a comp where I've had to back up a 200m after a 50m and they're very different strokes and very different energy systems, so that was interesting," he said.