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Australian Swim Team has eyes on the prize in Birmingham

21 June 2022

45 Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) supported athletes will be aiming for success at Birmingham 2022.

After outstanding results at the FINA World Championships and World Para Championships the 76-member strong Australian Swim Team is raring to go at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

28 able-bodied and 17 Para QAS supported form a big part of the overall team with Olympians Ariarne Titmus OAM and Emma McKeon AM returning to the world stage after resting during the World Championships. Zac Stubblety-Cook OAM, Kaylee McKeown OAM and 18-year-old Mollie O'Callaghan OAM will be hoping to continue their newly minted World Champion status with Gold Medal performances in Birmingham.

Mollie will be attending as a debutant, albeit with some serious World's experience, and will be joined by fellow Queenslanders Flynn Southam 16, Isaac Cooper 18, and Lani Pallister, 19 also attending their first Commonwealth Games.

Defending Commonwealth Games para champion Lakeisha Patterson OAM will be aiming to put her COVID reduced Para World Championships behind her and spearhead a formidable Para Team chosen to further enhance Australia’s golden legacy in the pool.

Teenager Ruby Storm, Tokyo Paralympics and World Championships Gold Medallist Ben Hance OAM and World Championships Silver Medallist Jack Ireland were recently included in the team on 8 July and will all make their Commonwealth Games Debut in Birmingham.

Ruby Storm, 18, will become the second Para-swimmer of Indigenous heritage to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games when she makes her debut on the blocks in Birmingham.

"I'm pretty excited, I've never been to a Commonwealth Games before but I'm excited to be with both able-bodied and para team members in the squad," Storm said.

"Getting to race in front of crowds and other teams is so exciting. Going from no crowds to big crowds will be very interesting."

Distance swimmer Lani Pallister, kicked off her Australian Team campaign with a Bronze Medal in the 1500m at the FINA World Championships in Budapest before COVID halted her 800m challenge following the heats. Following in the footsteps of her mother, Janelle Elford, a triple medallist at the Auckland 1990 Commonwealth Games, winning gold in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay, Pallister is focused on recovering and getting back to her best before arriving in Birmingham.

Ariarne Titmus cemented her name on the list, swimming a world record in the 400m freestyle in Adelaide at the Australian Trials before sitting out the World Championships. The winner of three gold medals at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Titmus is looking for another neckful of medals after a triumphant Tokyo Olympics.

“I’ve just loved swimming the past six months. I’ve been going to training and enjoying the sport – which is so underestimated,” Titmus said following her world record breaking swim.

“I am very excited to be going to the Games and I think we’ve got a great team going in. It’s insane the depth we have,” she said.

By virtue of their success in Tokyo, winning individual medals, Titmus, McKeon, McKeown, Stubblety-Cook and Brendon Smith were granted automatic selection for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. The others in the green-and-gold Dolphins squad were selected on their performances at the Australian Swimming Championships.

Gold Coast-based Emma McKeon has a phenomenal Commonwealth Games record, having claimed eight gold medals in two appearances at Glasgow (2014) and the Gold Coast (2018).

Kaylee McKeown, who is also based on the Gold Coast, debuted at the 2018 Commonwealth Games finishing fourth in the women’s 100m and 200m backstroke events. She returns for her second Commonwealth Games, as a three-time Olympic gold medallist and a World Champion in the 200m backstroke and silver medallist in the 200IM at Budapest. She’ll take to the blocks in Birmingham alongside her sister, Taylor, who won gold in Glasgow in 2014 but missed the Gold Coast and Tokyo Games due to injury.

Zac Stubblety-Cook, 23, from Brisbane, set a new world record in the 200m breaststroke during the Australian Swimming Championships, his gold-medal event in Tokyo and topped that off with a Gold Medal at the World Championships in Budapest. Since making his Commonwealth Games debut on the Gold Coast he has matured greatly and is aiming to enhance his reputation as the world’s best breaststroker in Birmingham.

“I was just trying to swim fast – I didn’t think that fast,” he said of his record swim in Adelaide.

“Last year we put everything in and we got the Olympic gold. This year there is a lot less pressure, so it is a different kettle of fish. I am just stoked.”

Mollie O’Callaghan, who will be making her Commonwealth Games debut, arrives in Birmingham after an outstanding World Championships where she became World Champion in the 100m Freestyle and won a Silver Medal in the 200m Freestyle. She already has two Olympic gold medals and several World's medals to her name, as a member of Australia’s 4 x 100 freestyle, 4 x 100m medley relay teams and the mixed relay team.

“I sometimes doubt myself a little, so I am really surprised that it was such a big jump. Before I was kind of like the underdog, but this year … it is quite crazy,” she said.

Freestyle sprinter Shayna Jack, returned to the world stage in Budapest winning Gold with her teammates in the 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay before disaster struck and she broke her hand in a freak accident in the warm up pool ruling her out of her two individual events. She is now on a race against time to be back fighting fit for Birmingham.

This team will undoubtedly add to Australia’s rich legacy in Birmingham. With such talent on display, it is sure to be an exciting event for swimming fans around the world and the Queensland Academy of Sport is proud to have played a role in supporting the QAS athletes perform at their best.

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will be held from Thursday 28 July to Monday 8 August with the Swimming competition taking place from Friday 29 July to Wednesday 3 August at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre.

Last updated: 08 Jul 2022