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Zac Stubblety-Cook struggles to come to grips with the fact that he has become the last Australian swimming world record holder.

Stubblety-Cook had one simple goal in Thursday night’s 200m breaststroke final at the Australian Championships in Adelaide: swim fast.

But faster than anyone in the history of the event?

“It’s a lot to figure out,” Stubblety-Cook said. “It’s a bit surreal, to be perfectly honest. “Obviously I was hoping to swim fast and I was hoping to swim close to my best. But it’s just something else.

He clocked 2 minutes 05.95 seconds, surpassing the previous benchmark of 2:06.12 set by Russian Anton Chupkov in 2019.

The quiet-voiced 23-year-old is arguably Australia’s most low-key Olympic swimming champion.

Stubblety-Cook’s triumph in the 200m breaststroke at the Tokyo Olympics last year was overshadowed by the multiple feats achieved by gold medalists like Emma McKeon and Kaylee McKeown.

The Brisbane-born athlete, who cites being curious, driven and stubborn as his top three character traits, had considered breaking the world record in his pet trial. But it was not a burning motivation.

“I thought about it…but I never said, ‘Yeah, that’s it, I want to break the world record,'” Stubblety-Cook said. “Obviously it happened…but I didn’t think we were going this fast.”

His reference came on a night when Kyle Chalmers signaled a backflip that will prevent pop star Cody Simpson from making his international swimming debut at the impending world titles.

Chalmers had announced he would not be swimming at next month’s event in Budapest. But after winning the 50m butterfly and finishing second in the 100m butterfly in Adelaide, he is set to reverse that decision. His likely change of heart will prevent Simpson from making his Australian world title debut.

The top two from each final at the national championships are selected for the world championships, with the top three earning a berth at the Commonwealth Games.

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Chalmers was second to Matt Temple in Wednesday night’s 100 butterfly final, with Simpson third.

“You can’t make me look like the bad guy,” Chalmers said after his 50m win on Thursday night. “To me, it’s a shame that it probably takes away Cody’s spot.”

Simpson remains assured of being selected for the Commonwealth Games in July-August.

Thursday night’s other winners were McKeown (women’s 4x100m medley), Brianna Throssell (women’s 100m butterfly), Chelsea Hodges (women’s 50m breaststroke) and Zac Incerti (men’s 200m freestyle).

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