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Mollie O’Callaghan shades Ariarne Titmus in red-hot 200m freestyle

Mollie O'Callaghan catches her breath after winning the women's 200m freestyle final in Melbourne.

Mollie O'Callaghan catches her breath after winning the women's 200m freestyle final in Melbourne. Photo: AAP

Mollie O’Callaghan has blitzed a red-hot field, including Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus, to win the women’s 200m freestyle at the world championships trials in Melbourne.

The first six women in Thursday night’s final all touched within Swimming Australia’s qualification time for next month’s titles in Fukuoka, Japan, showing the depth of local talent in the event.

Brisbane teenager O’Callaghan posted a time of one minute 53.83 seconds – the fastest of the year – to edge her training partner and 400m winner Titmus, who clocked 1:54.14.

Lani Pallister finished third in 1:56.03 – 0.84 seconds inside the national body’s required qualification time.

O’Callaghan, who was second in the 100m backstroke on Wednesday night, was thrilled with her personal-best time, which topped last year’s Commonwealth Games silver medal-winning mark of 1:54.01.

“I’m extremely happy – at nationals I was hoping for 1:54 going on 1:53 and it didn’t happen, and to do it now, I’m just over the moon,” the 19-year-old said.

O’Callaghan is looking to improve on her silver medal at last year’s world championships in Budapest, where she swam 1:55.22 to finish behind China’s Yang Junxuan.

Titmus, who beat O’Callaghan in the event in Birmingham but skipped last year’s worlds, said she wasn’t surprised by her teammate’s showing.

“Any time you don’t win it doesn’t feel as nice, but I knew Mollie would be fast tonight – she’s been training unbelievably,” Titmus said.

“It’s an OK time – I definitely thought I had better in me, and I’ve been training just as well as this time last year when I broke the world record.

“With a little bit more of a rest hopefully my legs will freshen up a bit going into worlds – it’s just about getting on the plane and doing my job when I get there.

“Fortunately the 200 metres freestyle is a relay event, so it’s actually a good thing there’s people pushing each other.”

Sam Short backed up Tuesday night’s win in the 400m freestyle with a blistering time in the 800m event.

Again relegating Elijah Winnington to second spot, 19-year-old Short clocked a personal best of 7:40.39 to beat his previous time by more than two seconds.

The 19-year-old Queenslander holds the world’s fastest times over both distances this season. He is also the Commonwealth Games champion in the 1500m.

“I know there’s a lot of international swimmers – the Americans are racing next week, the Olympic champion (Robert Finke) will probably post something great,” Short said.

“The Europeans, they go 7:39, 7.38 on the world stage.

“But I think I’m a racer, so with someone next to me … it gives me a lot of confidence going into world’s.”

In the men’s 200m butterfly, Bowen Gough finished first but isn’t guaranteed a seat on the plane to Japan.

The 25-year-old Victorian touched the wall in 1:56.01, which is faster than the required qualifying time but outside the time of Swimming Australia time of 1:54.91.

In the women’s 50m butterfly, Alex Perkins upset 11-time OIympic medallist Emma McKeon.

The 22-year-old Queenslander swam a time of 25.92 seconds.  McKeon finished third in 26.09, with Lily Price splitting the pair in 25.97.

-AAP
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