Australia’s stable of female sprint stars continues to grow.
Olivia Wunsch closed the fifth night of the World Junior Championships by anchoring the Australian girls’ 400-meter free relay to a win over the United States. With a 53.89 anchor for the US, NC State pledge Erika Pelaez was the only other swimmer in the race to break the 54-second barrier, but she was still more than a second slower than Wunsch’s otherworldly split.
To put this in context, Wunsch’s 52.61 split is quicker than every American save Kate Douglass (52.28) at this year’s World Championships, but slower than Australia’s world-record-breaking quartet of Mollie O’Callaghan (52.08), Shayna Jack (51.69), Meg Harris (52.29), and Emma McKeon (51.90). Wunsch, who is only 17 years old, is undoubtedly on pace to be a key Australian relay contributor at the LA 2028 Olympics, and possibly as soon as Paris 2024, given her recent rapid progress.
Wunsch had never been under 54 seconds in the 100 free before this competition, with a lifetime best of 54.50 from Junior Pan Pacs the previous year. Then, on Wednesday, she posted a personal-best 53.71 to win gold in the 100-meter freestyle before splitting 53.61 to help Australia’s mixed 400-meter freestyle relay set the world junior record with a total time of 3:24.29.
Wunsch also led the 50 free semifinals on Friday with a personal-best 24.60, cutting a quarter-second off her previous best of 24.85 from April. On Saturday, she’ll compete for her fourth gold medal of the tournament in the 50-meter freestyle final, where she’ll face Italy’s Sara Curtis. Curtis qualified second with a personal-best 24.91, shaving a few tenths off her previous best of 25.14, which she set in July to win gold at the European Junior Championships.
Wunsch’s new lifetime best in the 50-meter freestyle would have qualified him for the World Championships final this year, where he would have finished eighth.
Olivia’s voice has a twang to it. I couldn’t stomach it if you told me she was a Yank or a recovering one.
I remember last year’s Swimswam peanut gallery fantasizing about the USA beating Australia in the W4x100 free in Budapest simply because the McKeon and Campbell sisters took a break.
I also recall Swimswam’s peanut gallery fantasizing about the USA beating Australia in the w4x100 free in Fukuoka solely because Douglas, Walsh sisters, Husker, and others were rocking it in SCY earlier this year.
Are you arguing that Australia did not have a strong chance in the women’s 800m freestyle relay in Tokyo? According to Swimming World, “It was impossible to see Australia finishing anywhere other than first in the women’s 800-meter freestyle relay.” Is it possible that Australia will win the 400m freestyle relay next year? They certainly are. Is it possible that they won’t? Without a doubt. Do not attempt to collect your gold medals until you have won the race.
Don’t think the Australians can’t be beaten till 2029! Cate, Madi, and Emma Bronte may retire after 2024. However, Shayna, Mollie, Meg, and Olivia will continue, as will a few other young people.
In 2021, the top four were all under 53. Meg, Emma, Cate, and Maddi. Despite finishing 5th/6th, Bronte and Mollie were added to the team for the final based on form.
It will undoubtedly take less than 53 seconds to reach the top six.
I wouldn’t be shocked if the individual positions require 52.2 seconds.
You’d be shocked how minimal her training load is in comparison to Americans or fellow Aussie squad members from well-known Queensland clubs like SPW. She is naturally incredibly strong and gifted, and she has a great future ahead of her.
What a fantastic relay anchor split… it’s always encouraging to see clutch anchor swimmers like that…I’d want to see her swim in the Paris Olympics relay heats, similar to how Mollie O was relegated to heats duty in Tokyo as an introduction to the big league.
Riley is an associate editor who is as interested in the stories that take place outside of the pool as she is in the drama that takes place between the lane lines. He graduated from Boston College in 2019 and joined SwimSwam in April 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at publications…
swim swam Olivia Wunsch of Australia Dazzles With 52.61 Relay Split, 24.60 50 Free at World Juniors, Now to the Details
Riley Overend contributed to SwimSwam 2023. WJSC September 4 – 9, 2023 Netanya, Israel Wingate Institute LCM (50m) Meet Central How to Examine Psych Sheets Live Outcomes Day 1 Preliminaries Recap | Day 1 Finals Recap Day 2 Prelims Recap | Day 2 Finals Recap Day 3 Preliminaries Recap | Day 3 Finals Recap Day 4 Preliminaries Recap | Day 4 Finals Recap Day 5 Preliminaries Recap | Day 5 Finals Recap Australia’s stable of female sprint stars continues to grow. Olivia Wunsch closed the fifth night of the World Junior Championships by anchoring the Australian girls’ 400-meter free relay to victory over the United States.