Aquatics

Mack Horton won't defend Olympic swim title after placing 3rd at Australian trials

Mack Horton won't defend his Olympic 400-metre freestyle title in Tokyo after failing to make the Australian team for the event. Horton finished third in the final on the first night of the Australian selection trials on Saturday.

Only top 2 gain selection; Emma McKeon lowers her national mark in 100m butterfly

A third-place finish in the 400-metre freestyle final on Saturday has cost reigning Olympic champion Mack Horton a spot on the Australian team for the Tokyo Games in July. (David Gray/Reuters/File)

Mack Horton won't defend his Olympic 400-metre freestyle title in Tokyo after failing to make the Australian team for the event.

Horton finished third in the final on the first night of the Australian selection trials on Saturday. Only the top two – Elijah Winnington and Jack McLoughlin -- gained selection for the Tokyo games beginning July 23.

The opening night of the trials featured Australian records for Emma McKeon in the 100 butterfly and Brendon Smith in the 400 individual medley.

Winnington won in three minutes 42.65 seconds, ahead of McLoughlin (3:43.27). Horton, who clocked 3:43.92, can still earn selection in the 200 freestyle to be contested Sunday.

Earlier, McKeon broke her own national 100 butterfly record and was on a world-record pace until fading in the last five metres. McKeon, who could race as many as eight events in Tokyo, won in 55.93 seconds, bettering her previous Australian record of 56.18.

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McKeon won four medals — gold and two silvers in relays and a bronze in the 200 freestyle — at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

At Tokyo, the medal races will be held in the morning with heats at night.

But Australia's selection trials have switched that around to the traditional morning heats and night finals, after all previous domestic meets this year raced to the Tokyo schedule.

"It's a bit of a switch of mindset again," McKeon said. "All year we have been doing morning finals but it [night finals] is what I have been doing my whole life, so I am used to it."

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