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The Biggest Takeaways From Day One Of Commonwealth Games

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  • Friday, July 29 – Wednesday, August 3, 2022
  • Birmingham, England
  • Sandwell Aquatic Center
  • Start Times
    • Prelims: 10:30 am local / 5:30 am ET
    • Finals: 7:00 pm local / 2:00 pm ET
  • LCM (50m)
  • Meet Central
  • Event Schedule
  • Entry List (PDF)
  • Live Results

The first day of competition at the 2022 Commonwealth Games has concluded, and boy, do we have a lot of things to say about it. In this article, we break down our biggest takeaways from the meet so far and highlight some of the swims and trends that you may have missed amidst all the top-tier racing.

Mollie O’Callaghan Has Her 200 Closing Speed Figured Out

By now, we all know that Mollie O’Callaghan is a back-half legend. At World Championships, she nearly even split a 100 free 26.42/26.43 and won gold in the event after being sixth at the halfway point. However, she wasn’t able to replicate much of that closing speed in the 200, both in her individual race and the 4×200 free relay.

However, closing speed didn’t seem to be a problem at the Commonwealth Games, as O’Callaghan rocketed to a new best time of 1:54.01 and took nearly a second off her previous mark of 1:54.94. She nearly even split her race once again, taking it out in a 56.76 and coming home in 57.25. Her last two 50s of 28.97 and 28.28 were incredible, and she almost ran down Ariarne Titmus, a great back half swimmer by her own rights. In fact, her final 50 split was 0.32 seconds faster than Federica Pellegrini’s 28.60 final 50 from her world record swim.

If anything, this race proves that O’Calllaghan’s closing tactics aren’t exclusive to the 100, and that she’s going to be scary-good on the back end of her 200 as well.

Matt Richards With A Standout Relay Split

Australia, England, and Canada dominated the mixed 4×100 free relay, just like how they are expected to dominate almost every other relay at this meet. But 19-year-old Matt Richards of Wales had a big swim that may have been overlooked.

On the second leg of that relay, Richards spit 47.52, putting his country into third place position just 0.57 seconds behind Australia. Wales eventually fell short of podium position and finished fourth, but it was a big drop for Richards as his fastest split before today was a 47.99 from World Championships earlier this year.

No Aussies In Men’s 50 Fly Final

Australia won five out of the seven contested events in today’s session and swept the podium both the men’s 400 free and women’s 200 free, but the one race where they did not see much success in was the men’s 50 fly.

In the men’s 50 fly, not a single Aussie will be in the final. Matt Temple finished in 9th in the semifinals with a 26.63, Kyle Chalmers was 10th (23.65), and Cody Simpson was 14th (23.87). Notably, Chalmers had been the fastest in prelims, taking the top seed in a 23.45. And while the 50 fly is not the strongest event for any of these swimmers, these semifinals contrast with Australia’s otherwise dominant meet so far.

Emma McKeon Is Looking Good

Coming into the Commonwealth Games, there were concerns about whether Emma McKeon would be as good as she was at the Tokyo Olympics after a year without competing in long course. After today, it seems like she is just fine.

First, she swam a 57.49 in the 100 fly semifinals, taking the top seed in the event headed into finals. Then, she helped Australia take gold by anchoring her team’s 4×100 free relay in a 52.21, the fastest female split of the field. And while that’s not as fast as her unearthly 51.35 split from last year, it’s still a good sign for the rest of the meet and also came right after a 100 fly semifinal race.

Barry McClements Wins Northern Ireland’s First Commonwealth Swimming Medal

After Daniel Wiffen swam the fastest 400 free time in prelims, many thought that he could be the one to win Northern Ireland’s first-ever swimming medal at the Commonwealth Games. And while he had a great finals swim, breaking his own Irish record in a time of 3:46.62, he was just short of the podium.

Instead, it ended up being Barry McClements who won the first Commonwealth swimming medal for his nation, taking bronze in the men’s 100 back S9 final in a time of 1:05.09.

Wiffen will have plenty of opportunities to win more medals at this meet, as he is also scheduled to swim the 800 and 1500 free.

Summer McIntosh‘s 400 IM: Was It A Scheduling Thing?

Summer McIntosh went a new best time in the 400 IM, swimming a 4:29.01 that was over three seconds faster than the 4:32.04 she went to win the World Championships. The biggest difference between now and then is that while the 400 IM is the first event on her schedule at Commonwealths, it was the very last event at Worlds.

This clearly shows the benefit of being fresh before a race, as McIntosh had gone through the 400 free, 4×200 free relay, and 200 fly prior to the 400 IM at Worlds and was likely worn out. However, her improvement could also be accredited to a change in racing strategy. While McIntosh was much stronger on the front half of her race at Worlds, she paid for it and faded in the home stretch. However, at Commonwealths, she had an opposite strategy, swimming slower than Worlds on the first 200 and being significantly quicker on the last 200.

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