The butterfly stroke has a special place among the competitive swimming strokes. It has a reputation of being hard to learn and quickly exhausting. Yet when mastered, butterfly (or simply ‘fly’ to us swimmers) can be the most spectacular demonstration of strength and technique. Has Australia caught up to the rest of the world's great swimming nations in this, the king of strokes?
In the men’s events there are some of the biggest names in international swimming – Cseh, Phelps, Le Clos, Seto. Lazlo Cseh tops the rankings in both the 100m and 200m fly events for 2016, with times of 50.86 and 1:52.91 respectively. Le Clos is the title holder having touched out Phelps in London 2012 in a surprise result in the 100m. Japan’s Daiya Seto is hundredths behind in the 200m event and will be looking to mix things up in Rio. So, amongst these titans, which Australians will be stepping up to the blocks to fight for the Green and Gold?
Grant Irvine – Irvine swam a 1:55.73 in the 200m fly at trials to qualify by just 0.02 seconds and book his ticket for his debut Olympic Games in Rio. He finished the 100m event with a time of 51.76 missing the qualifying standard by 0.25 seconds – though he was later selected in the event.
Having missed out on qualifying for the London 2012 Games, the Queenslander became Australia’s second fastest man ever in the 200m butterfly event in early 2013. He swam a 1:55.32 to sit only behind Australian record holder Nick D’Arcy in the event.
David Morgan – Morgan needed a PB to achieve the qualifying time for the 200m fly and he did just that - swimming a 1:55.63 to sneak under the qualifying standard by 0.12 seconds. In an enthralling final Morgan and good friend Grant Irvine dragged each other to the wall and both booked their tickets to Rio.
Morgan then took out the 100m butterfly in a time of 51.64 just missing the qualifying standard by 0.13 seconds – just as with Irvine was later selected by the AOC to swim in the event.
The women’s events are a different, and much more positive, story entirely for Aus. The women’s rankings are much tighter with the top 10 in both the 100m and 200m fly events being spread over just 1.5 seconds. Australia has two women both top 10s, this being Emma McKeon and Madi Groves in 100m fly, and Groves – who actually leads the rankings – and Brianna Throssel in the 200m fly.
Emma McKeon – McKeon was mentioned right back at the start of these blogs when we covered the women’s freestyle relay. She will also be competing in the 200m free, and 100m fly in which she is ranked fifth in the world.
The Wollongong born swimmer claimed the 100m butterfly national title in a personal best time (56.89) ahead of Olympic debutant Madeline Groves by 0.19 seconds. McKeon’s time was the world’s third fastest of the year (at the time) and ranks fourth on Australia’s all-time list.
Madeline Groves – We discussed Groves back in ‘Young Guns’ blog, and as we said there, she will be hoping to take over the mantle as Australia’s next female butterfly star after securing selection for Rio 2016 in the 100m and 200m butterfly. The Brisbane athlete won the 200m fly clocking 2:05.47 - a time that would have won her gold at last year’s World Championships in Kazan. This followed her second in the 100m behind Emma McKeon.
Brianna Throssell – Throssell will make her Olympic debut in Rio after winning silver in the 200m butterfly at trials, finishing just behind Groves. Throssell swam into the spotlight when she came home from the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games with seven medals, including 3 individual bronze in the 200m freestyle, 100m butterfly and 200m butterfly events.