ADELAIDE, Australia – World champion James Magnussen swam the fourth fastest 100-meter freestyle ever to win at the Australian trials, clocking 47.10 seconds on Monday night to secure his place at the London Olympics.
Ever confident, 'The Missile' Magnussen then issued a message to his rivals: "Brace yourselves."
The 20-year-old Magnussen said he was targeting Cesar Cielo's world record of 46.91, which the Brazilian set at the 2009 world championships while wearing one of the high-tech bodysuits that now are banned in competition.
"I feel pretty confident after that swim," Magnussen said. "I'm going to be doing everything within my power to break that world record, because I do want to be considered the fastest man in history."
Magnussen, wearing only the knee-length swimming shorts, got very close. He took 0.39 off the personal best he set at the world championships in Shanghai last year — and did it without even having a close shave. He explained his stubble beard by saying he liked the rough look.
Magnussen's longtime rival, James Roberts, was second in the final in 47.63. Matt Targett was third in 48.32 and Eamon Sullivan fourth in 48.53.
Only Cielo and Alain Bernard of France have ever broken the 47-second mark. Sullivan swam 47.05 — then a world record — in the semifinals at the 2008 Olympics but had to settle for silver in the final at Beijing.
Magnussen's split was 22.68 at the 50-meter turn, below what he'd been told he needed to have any chance of beating the record. He remained inside the world record pace until the last few meters of the race.
"I backed myself tonight and really went after it," he said. "I really felt it in that last 10 meters."
The first seven finishers all swam inside the Olympic A-qualifying time, giving both Magnussen and Roberts confidence for the 4x100-meter relay in London. Magnussen was part of the winning sprint relay at the world championships last year, and Roberts was a heat swimmer in the team.
"That was probably the best thing that could have happened to me tonight, having James there with me the whole way," Magnussen said. "We've been racing each other for a long time and hopefully now we'll both be in London together and in that relay team ... giving it to the rest of the world.
"If the Olympics were going to be tomorrow, you'd have to say that relay team is pretty bulletproof. But the rest of the world can try and catch us."
In other events, Jess Schipper won the women's 200 butterfly in 2 minutes, 6.93 seconds. Samantha Hamill was second in 2:08.92. Schipper has qualified for both the 100 and 200 butterfly for London.
"I'm happy I'm on the team already ... I could go into the race a bit more relaxed," said Schipper, who has won the 200 fly at the nationals eight consecutive times.
Brenton Rickard won the 200 breaststroke in 2:11.03 over Jeremy Meyer (2:12.76). World-record holder Christian Sprenger didn't qualify for the final.
"I was hoping to go a bit quicker than that, but I'll regroup and get ready for London," said Rickard, a silver medalist at the Beijing Olympics.
In semifinals, Leisel Jones qualified in fifth spot for the women's 200 breaststroke. The reigning Olympic 100 breaststroke champion became the first Australian swimmer to qualify for four Olympic Games when she placed second in the 100 breaststroke on the weekend.
While five-time Olympic champion Ian Thorpe was reduced to being a spectator after his failed comeback from six years out, Libby Trickett's bid for a place on the squad for London is still on track.
Trickett, a triple Olympic champion, retired in 2009 but made a comeback last year and has qualified for the 100 freestyle final with the fifth-fastest time (54.19) in Monday's semifinals.
"It's going to be a tough race, but I so want to make the Olympic team now I'm this close," she said. Cate Campbell led the qualifiers in 53.84, followed by Melanie Schlanger in 53.91.
The 27-year-old Trickett can earn an individual berth by finishing first or second, or be considered for a relay spot by finishing in the top six in the freestyle final.