A flop at the word titles has ensured David McKeon made a splash in the heats of the national swimming championships in Brisbane on Tuesday.
McKeon, 21, clocked the world’s second fastest 400m freestyle time of 2014 – three minutes, 44.95 seconds – to easily be fastest for Tuesday night’s final.
The world No.2 ranked McKeon bombed out at the 2013 world titles in Barcelona after a poor heats showing ensured he missed the final entirely, finishing 12th overall.
“I was spooked last year (at the world titles) but I will be ready this year,” McKeon said.
His heat time would have just missed out on a world titles podium finish and was only a second outside his PB (3:43.71).
Only three Australians have swum faster over 400m – Ian Thorpe (3:40.08), Grant Hackett (3:42.51) and Kieren Perkins (3:43.80).
He edged out junior world champion Mack Horton (3:50.20) and fellow teenager Jordan Harrison (3:50.38) who is recovering from a broken wrist ahead of the final.
Meanwhile, McKeon’s 19-year-old sister Emma impressed ahead of Tuesday night’s cut-throat women’s 200m freestyle final.
She (1:58.51) was second fastest in the heats behind Olympic bronze medallist Bronte Barratt (1:58.23) and Brittany Elmslie (1:58.64).
Barratt is looking over her shoulder in a field that features McKeon – ranked in the world’s top five – and Olympic relay gold medallists Elmslie, Kylie Palmer and Melanie Schlanger.
Meanwhile, world 100m breaststroke champion Christian Sprenger (2:11.09) is the man to beat in Tuesday night’s 200m final.
He is contesting the 200m event for the first time in four years.
And defending champion Keryn McMaster was quickest (4:46.29) for Tuesday night’s women’s 400m individual medley final with former British Olympic swimmer Ellen Gandy fourth fastest (4:48.32).
Gandy is hoping to earn a spot on her first Australian team in Brisbane after completing a 12-month enforced break from international competition.
She was fastest in the women’s 100m butterfly heats (58.55) with Olympic bronze medallist Alicia Coutts (58.90) second ahead of Tuesday night’s semi-finals.
In other heat results, Cameron McEvoy (23.91) was fastest in the men’s 50m butterfly, Sally Hunter (31.38) in the women’s 50m breaststroke and Ashley Delaney (53.85) in the men’s 100m backstroke.