Aussie teen puts rivals on notice at world titles
BEWARE the kid.
That is the lesson that every leading freestyle sprinter in the world should have taken from last year's Olympic 100m freestyle final in Rio where Kyle Chalmers upset them all.
And now there will be another 18-year-old Australian in the 100m freestyle final at the world championships in Budapest (early Friday morning AEST).
Brisbane teenager Jack Cartwright, who inherited Chalmers' spot when he withdrew from this team, will join 2015 silver medallist Cameron McEvoy in the final in Budapest after both qualified in Wednesday night's semi-final.
French champion Meydy Metella set a huge personal best of 47.65sec to qualify fastest, just ahead of American pre-race favourite Caeleb Dressel (47.66sec) and 2012 Olympic champion Nathan Adrian (47.85sec).
McEvoy swam a measured semi-final (47.97sec) to qualify comfortably, just ahead of his young teammate.
Cartwright is the third Australian 18-year-old in four years to reach a global final, following in the footsteps of McEvoy, who finished fourth at the 2013 world titles, and Chalmers.
The Queensland teenager finished third at the national trials in April while swimming with bronchitis but received a call-up to the individual 100m after Chalmers opted out and underwent surgery for a heart condition, and he has seized the opportunity to shine on the world stage.
In the first semi-final he broke through the 48-second barrier for the first time, clocking 47.97sec, as he finished second to the muscular Metella.
In a clever strategy, Cartwright used the bigger man's power against him, swimming close to the lane rope between them so he could ride the wave Metella was creating down the first lap.
The 1988 Olympic 200m freestyle champion Duncan Armstrong famously used that tactic to upset the race favourite Matt Biondi in Seoul and Cartwright revived it on Wednesday night, although he was not born when Armstrong first employed it.
"I got a great ride," he said.
Down the second lap he drew on the energy he had saved to clinch his place in the final.
"I wasn't looking for 47 but I was definitely looking to do a fast time," he said.
Cartwright is a country kid who grew up in Biloela in central Queensland, where the local pool closed down, forcing him to move first to Gladstone and then to Brisbane where he joined coach Dean Boxall at the St Peters squad.
The youngest of four brothers, all swimmers, he has been utterly unfazed by the bright lights and big occasion of the Duna Arena in Budapest.
"It felt awesome walking out, having your name being called and the huge crowd," he said.
"I have confidence in myself, confidence in my own swimming and the training that I've done and I wanted to see what I could do with the chance I have. And now anything can happen in the final."