Dolphins, Eagles & Dragons In The Balance Of A Test Of Nerve, Form, Fight Or Flight As Fukuoka Worlds Spring Into Second Half

2023-07-27 Reading Time: 2 minutes
In The Balance - Photo by Ian MacNicol at the Scottish Diving Championships, 2023

Of Dolphins, Eagles & Dragons – Powder dry, Zac Stubblety-Cook, Emma McKeon, Tatjana Shoenmaker, Olympic champions through to semis in day 5 heats with less heat at the 20th World Championships in Fukuoka, title defender Mollie O’Callaghan‘s 54 in the 100m free heats the morning after a 1:52.85 World record in the 200 an example of doing enough far shy of the fire to come.

Energy management holding hands with being human after all, even Léon Marchand having opted out of is fourth target, the 200m breaststroke, to give himself the best shot at retaining the 200IM crown.

Four days home to meet over and Australians go into the second half of the championships at the helm of the medals table with more podium prospects than anyone else on paper. It doesn’t quite work like that, as Don Talbot will doubtless be whispering from a watering hole up there somewhere to the wave who followed to Fukuoka 22 years after the Dolphins defeated the United States on gold count at World titles. It was the first time since 1973 – and the last since 2001.

Steady as she goes. The big three at half-way:


Much to race for, victory to those who park the lows and contain the highs, those who give no inch. Every podium counts but gold decides the fight of nations, much hanging on a thread between a nailed finish in a blanket call and for whom the big tide ebbs and flows.

Katie Ledecky has ridden the biggest tide ever seen in women’s freestyle swimming, a decade of winning over 200 to 1500m free turned towards the deep end of distance, her dominance over 800 and 1500 one of the wonders of swimming history and evolution. The other wonder is the Australian women’s team. How they leap!

Give the form of Ariarne Titmus this week, 3.55 world record 400, 1:53 flat personal best a hand shy of O’Callaghan’s pioneering win for a Dolphin 1-2 in the 200, the Oceania and Commonwealth 800 record surely trembles. It might get replaced, it could get flattened, and if it does, it might mean a tide turned, a watershed reached, a championship celebrated by Talbot up in the heavenly pool.

Then again, Ledecky will not go down without the fight of her life and the spirit of Doc Counsilman on waves past Peter Daland, Richard Quick and many more may well be whispering in Bob Bowman‘s ear for the coming days, come what may, and then all the way to Paris.

China, Britain and others will play a part in the divide of spoils and balance of meet between Australia and the United States – all the way to the last relays. Every stroke counts… everything to play for.

So, Fukuoka Day 4 heats:

Results in full at Omega

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