Emily Seebohm, Australia’s top backstoker for the last decade, will miss the world swimming championships for the first time since 2005, when she was 13 years old.
Seebohm finished third and fourth in the backstrokes at Australia’s trials for next month’s worlds in South Korea, where a nation can only send two swimmers per individual event. Seebohm said earlier this week that illness slowed her prep, according to Australian media.
Seebohm qualified for the world championships for the first time when she was 14 years old in 2007. She went on to earn five Olympic medals, including 100m backstroke silver behind Missy Franklin at the 2012 London Games.
She then swept the backstrokes at the 2015 World Championships. After missing the individual medals in Rio, she bounced back to claim Australia’s lone gold at the 2017 Worlds, taking the 200m back. That ensured the formerly dominant swim nation didn’t go winless at an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 1986.
The world’s top backstrokers in the last year have been Americans Kathleen Baker and Regan Smith, Canadians Kylie Masse and Taylor Ruck, Italian Margherita Panziera and Australian Kaylee McKeown.
Australia’s swimming federation also put Mack Horton on the world team in his Olympic gold medal event, the 400m freestyle, even though he did not meet the nation’s qualifying standard time, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Horton would have otherwise made the team in the event for finishing second at trials.
Australia’s other stars had no problem qualifying for worlds, including sprint freestylers Kyle Chalmers, Cate Campbell and Bronte Campbell and Katie Ledecky‘s biggest rival, 18-year-old Ariarne Titmus.
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