James Magnussen, Olympic silver medallist and 2011 World Champion, posted a strong 48.90 in the 100m free heats on day 1 of the NSW State Open Championships in his home pool at SOPAC in Sydney.
The 21-year-old, one of those at the heart of the meltdown over Aussie Olympic team behaviour last year, is seeking to defend the title after his 49.02 victory a year ago on the way to March Olympic trials.
Beyond the need to finish top 2 at Aussie trials on the way to the defence of his world title from 2011, Magnussen's target time at the national championships in Adelaide next month is 48.46.
Next to Magnussen, in lane five, will be fellow Sydney-sider Kenneth To, on 49.73, with Japan’s Kosuke Hagino their in morning heats on 49.96. “Almost always the guy on the blocks next to me will be taller, but you have your own lane and the same number of metres to swim so you do your own thing. He’s a great sprinter but if any of us can get close to Maggie we’ll be very happy,” said To. “I’m going to be right in the thick of it tonight and I’ll be looking to use my underwater skills off the turn to give me that edge."
The final will include Tommaso D’Orsogna (50.11) James Roberts (50.29), Cameron McEvoy (50.48) Matthew and Andrew Abood (50.12 and 50.29 respectively).
In the women's 100m free heats, top Aussie of 2012, Alicia Coutts, led the way in 55.27. She will also take to her blocks in lane 4 for the 50m butterfly.
In the 200m butterfly, Olympic medallist Takeshi Matsuda (JPN) led the way in heats on 1:58.49. The women's 200m backstroke final will feature the latest battle between Belinda Hocking and Meagen Nay, while Sally Foster and Sam Marshall lead the way in the 100m breaststroke.