Saturday, 11 February 2012
Emily Seebohm laid out the early marker for her London Olympic rivals with a superb performance to win the 100m backstroke final at the NSW swimming championships in Sydney.
Proving the illness woes which cruelled her 2011 campaign are behind her, Seebohm clocked 59.36 seconds - clearly the fastest time in the world this year - to take out Saturday night's final from Belinda Hocking (1:00.17)
The swim so early in preparations left Seebohm confident she could crack the 59 second barrier for the first time since supersuits at next month's Olympic trials in Adelaide.
"I get so close to it and I really want to do it so hopefully it comes at trials because I'm waiting for it," Seebohm, 19, said.
"It's looking good at the moment but I've just got to keep training hard and work at taper and work at my skills and hopefully that sub 59 comes."
After winning eight medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Seebohm was struck down by swine flu prior to last year's national titles and also battled two bouts of tonsillitis, bronchitis and pancreatitis before placing a gallant fourth at the world titles in Shanghai.
But Seebohm believes 2012 could be her year.
"It's already a big year because it's an Olympic year but hopefully it's a big year for me to step up and make my mark in swimming," Seebohm said.
Libby Trickett failed to build on her impressive heat swims in two finals on Saturday night, finishing last in the 100m butterfly (1:08.86) and 50m freestyle (25.96) finals won by Britain's Ellen Gandy and Sweden's Therese Akshammar respectively.
Korean star Park Tae Hwan (1:46.78) took out the men's 200m freestyle while Kenrick Monk, in his first meet since injuring his elbow in a skateboarding accident, was last in the final in 1:52.53.
Bronte Barratt took out the women's 400m freestyle final in 4:06.82 while Chris Wright (24.26) won the men's 50m butterfly.
Leisel Jones opted not to contest the 200m breaststroke final while Daniel Tranter (1:59.23) claimed the 200m individual medley final.
Stephanie Rice is set to return to the pool on Sunday in the 200m individual medley.
Rice's coach Michael Bohl said she would at least swim the morning heats and see how her troublesome shoulder pulled up before deciding whether to contest the finals.
Bohl conceded Rice would not be at 100 per cent fitness for next month's trials but said she was doing everything possible to ensure she books a spot on the Olympic team.
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