On paper, Bronte Campbell admits it is not a good look. The Australian’s reign as 100m freestyle champion is officially over after she finished second last in the final on day six of the world swimming championships at Budapest.
But Campbell insisted she was lucky just to qualify for the medal race after overcoming a horror preparation.
Chronic shoulder issues have plagued Campbell since she became the third woman in history to claim the 50m-100m freestyle double at a world titles in Kazan 2015.
Then she was struck down by an illness just days before she was set to launch her dual world titles defence in Hungary.
Yet Campbell remained confident she could regain her 100m crown despite witnessing joint Olympic champion Simone Manuel upset Sweden’s world record holder Sarah Sjostrom in the blue riband final at Duna Arena.
Campbell finished seventh in the 100m final in 53.18 seconds — more than half a second shy of her 2015 winning time.
And she was almost a full second behind Manuel (52.27) who set a new US record, becoming the first American to win the 100m world title since Jenny Thompson in 1998.
“If you look at the time and place you would probably think I would be upset with that,” Campbell said.
“It didn’t end with the exact result that I wanted.
“But when you are coming in like my last few weeks it takes a lot of the pressure off.
“I’m just a little underdone.
“I am happy to be here. Anything past this is a bonus.”
Campbell said her pre-titles illness ensured she wasn’t even contemplating defending her 100m title in Hungary.
“Lots of people said ‘are you more nervous because you are defending a title’ but I wasn’t even thinking about that,” she said.
“I just feel really lucky to be racing this week.”
Campbell will launch her 50m freestyle world title defence on day seven.
However, she appeared to be focused on a more long-term goal.
“I will go home after this and sort out the body,” Campbell said of her troublesome shoulders.
“That is the main thing for me.
“If I can get the body right I believe I can be competitive in that (100m) race.”
Campbell won’t walk away from Budapest empty handed after she was part of the silver medal winning 4x100m freestyle and mixed medley relay teams.
Campbell is also set to feature in two more relays.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Emma McKeon finally felt the pinch in her marathon seven-event program when she finished last in the 100m final.
McKeon has collected four silver and a bronze in Budapest, the equal most medals at a world titles by an Australian woman.