Geoff Huegill’s quest to extend his remarkable return to swimming to the London Olympics goes on the line at trials in Adelaide on Wednesday night.
But the 33-year-old must overcome a strong field to secure the top-two finish needed to book his spot at a third Games.
Huegill clocked 52.57 seconds in Tuesday night’s semi-finals to qualify fifth-fastest for the decider, behind Chris Wright (51.83), Nick D’Arcy (52.51), Matt Targett (52.31) and Sam Ashby (52.53).
The Sydney 2000 bronze medallist has had a preparation disrupted by illness and said he would have to “pull all the tricks out of the bag” and bank on his experience.
“For me I’m going to be approaching the final tomorrow night exactly the way I did at Commonwealth Games,” said Huegill, who dropped 45kg before returning to win gold at Delhi 2010.
“It’s going to be won in the last 35 metres, so it’s about going out there having a strong solid first lap and really working home in the last lap.”
Comeback swimmer Michael Klim failed to make the final, before announcing his retirement for the second time.
Also on Wednesday night, 100m world champion James Magnussen will target an unexpected double after qualifying fastest for the 50m freestyle final.
Magnussen further improved on his personal best time to clock 21.87 and edge ahead of Eamon Sullivan, who clocked an eye-catching 21.88 – his fastest 50m swim in a textile suit.
Magnussen, 20, had said this week he considered the 50m “a bit of fun” but has reassessed his chances in the final after surprising swims in the heats and semis.
His performances in the 50 and 100m, where he clocked 41.70 second to fall just short of the world records, have come despite battling a severe chest infection during the trials.
“I’m going to back myself to get the job done obviously,” Magnussen said.
“Hopefully rest up tomorrow and get a bit more sleep than I did last night and hopefully go quicker again.”
Libby Trickett will return to the pool on Wednesday morning in the heats of the 50m freestyle after sealing an Olympic relay berth by placing fifth in the 100m freestyle final.
Melanie Schlanger took out the race, with Cate Campbell finishing second to also clinch an individual spot.