Horton pulls back to go forward

Swimming: Mack Horton cruises to World Championships.

Mack Horton celebrates winning his third national 400m title.

MACK Horton admits the intensity heading into his Rio Olympic campaign was “nuts” and he had to pull back if he was to make it through another four-year cycle to Tokyo in 2020.

Horton sealed a third consecutive national 400m title in Brisbane in his first major meet since winning gold in Rio last year.

Horton beat Rio teammate David McKeon by just over a second, touching the wall in 3min 44.18sec, well outside his Olympic final time but still the second best in the world this year behind Italian Gabrele Detti’s 3:43.36.

Horton said his sole aim heading into nationals was to qualify for the world championship team, something he did on Sunday night.

Mack Horton celebrates winning his third national 400m title.

Mack Horton celebrates winning his third national 400m title.Source:AAP

“You’ve got to pull back after Rio because the intensity leading into the Olympics was nuts,’’ he said.

“My attitude’s pretty relaxed all around to be honest.

“I’m obviously still training pretty hard but usually we set goals around skills and they’re constantly on my case about everything and we haven’t really been doing that for the last couple of months because there’s three years (until the next Olympics) still.

“I’m just enjoying swimming and training and not being too crazy.”

But Horton admitted he was more nervous than he thought he would be heading into last night’s final and was glad to have earnt his ticket to Hungary for July’s world titles.

“I was a bit more nervous than I thought I was going to be because I didn’t know where I was going to be (in my preparation) and I wanted to be on that team,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, Cate Campbell could head into the world championships with the world-leading time in the 100m freestyle but says she “couldn’t care less” after completely disengaging with the sport this year.

Swimming: The Campbell sisters make a successful return to the pool after a brutal Rio campaign.

Campbell set the world-leading time in Sunday’s heats, her 52.78sec effort a time that would have won bronze in Rio last year.

But without a strong block of fitness training behind her, Campbell faded to finish third in the final behind sister Bronte and Emma McKeon, with Bronte’s 52.85sec the second-fastest time of the year behind her sister.

Cate Campbell has not made herself available for selection for the world championships, instead deciding to take a break after her failed Olympic campaign in Rio last year.

And while she could still have the world-leading time by July, Campbell said she wasn’t out to sound a warning shot to her rivals.

“I haven’t been keeping up with swimming, I haven’t been keeping up with world rankings, I’ve been completely switching off,’’ she said.

“When I come into training it’s almost like a bit of recreational activity.

“If I don’t feel like giving it 100 per cent in training, I don’t have to.

“It sounds really bad but I’ve completely disengaged with swimming.

“It’s still a big part of my life in the future but right now, I just need to find some happy places outside of the pool.”

Bronte Campbell (left) and her sister Cate.

Bronte Campbell (left) and her sister Cate.Source:AAP

Cameron McEvoy won the 50m freestyle in 21.55sec, the fastest time in the world this year.

After setting a world-leading mark of 21.73 in the heat yesterday morning, McEvoy bettered that mark in the final, just outside his personal best time.

“That’s pretty special and good practice for the Commonwealth Games next year,’’ he said of racing in front of a vocal home crowd.

It was a Gold Coast one-two, with Somerset swimmer James Roberts touching just behind in 21.91.

“It was my second-quickest ever, 0.11sec off last year, 0.25sec quicker than Rio, that’s pretty cool,’’ he said.

“And not 100 per cent (tapered) … so 21.5 is pretty exciting.

“I can fault it in quite a few ways which is exciting, it’s a great kickstart to the week.

“I’m happy to know that that’s where I stand.”

And McEvoy said the effort boded well for his pet 100m and 200m events later in the week.

Swimming: McEvoy blasts 50m in an impressive 21.55 seconds.

Originally published as Horton pulls back to go forward