Mack Horton faces the prospect of missing selection for the world championships. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
Mack Horton faces the prospect of missing selection for the world championships. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

Horton beaten in 400m freestyle at trials for world titles

THE selection trials may be only one day old but Olympic swimming champion Mack Horton is already sweating on his world titles qualification.

Horton was the big name casualty on the opening night of the six-day world titles trials in Brisbane on Sunday when he was upset by Jack McLoughlin in the 400m freestyle final.

The top two finishers of each event book a ticket to next month's world championships in South Korea - providing they both finish under the nominated qualifying time.

Pan Pacs champion McLoughlin earned a nod when he claimed victory in three minutes and 44.34 seconds - almost two seconds under the 3:46.14 QT mark.

While Rio 400m gold medallist Horton placed second in his pet event, his time was an agonising 0.33 seconds short of the qualifying standard.

It ensures Horton's world titles selection chances come down to his two remaining events - Monday's 200m freestyle or the 800m freestyle on Wednesday.

That will be easier said than done.

Monday's 200m freestyle event is arguably the Australian men's most hotly contested field with Kyle Chalmers, Cameron McEvoy, Thomas Fraser-Holmes, Elijah Winnington, Alex Graham and Louis Townsend all in the mix for two individual spots.

Horton's best bet appears to be the 800m freestyle, but he still won't have it all his own way with the in-form McLoughlin and young gun Winnington present.

Horton cut a frustrated figure when he left the pool on Sunday night, but McLoughlin tipped the Commonwealth champion to bounce back.

"You can never count Mack out," McLoughlin said.

"Every time we get in the pool I know he is going to be right there (in contention)."

Emily Seebohm will launch her campaign to make an unprecedented seventh world titles team in the women's 100m backstroke.

But Kaylee McKeown looks set to lay down the gauntlet to the 12-year national team veteran.

McKeown, 17, is in ominous form after grabbing a stunning 200m individual medley victory on Sunday night.

Backstroke specialist McKeown slashed almost two seconds off her personal best to clock 2:09.94 and hold out dual Olympian Blair Evans to claim the 200m IM final and book a world titles ticket.

"That (earning world titles spot) takes the pressure off for the rest of the week," an ecstatic McKeown said.

In other Monday events, former world champion Mitch Larkin will feature in the men's 100m backstroke, Jess Hansen in the 100m breaststroke and Kiah Melverton in the women's 1500m freestyle.