Shayna Jack and Meg Harris' touching Cate Campbell gesture amid heartbreaking scenes at swimming trials

Campbell finished seventh in the 50m freestyle final to end her swimming career.

Cate Campbell's bid to become the first Australian swimmer to qualify for five Olympic Games has fallen painfully short in heartbreaking scenes at the Australian selection trials in Brisbane. The four-time Olympic gold medallist bowed out in the 50m final on Saturday night, finishing seventh in the final race of her illustrious swimming career.

Shayna Jack won the event in 23.99sec ahead of Meg Harris (24.26) - who booked her first individual swim at the Olympics. Emma McKeon finished third in 24.32, meaning she won't get to defend her Olympic gold in both the 50m and 100m freestyle as the next generation of Aussie sprinters emerge. Campbell finished with a respectable time of 24.76.

Cate Campbell finished seventh in the 50m freestyle final to end her swimming career. Image: Getty
Cate Campbell finished seventh in the 50m freestyle final to end her swimming career. Image: Getty

There were emotional scenes in the pool at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre as Campbell bid farewell to the adoring crowd and was embraced by every swimmer. In an incredible show of sportsmanship and respect, both Jack and Harris immediately after finding out they had booked their place in Paris reserved their celebrations until after embracing Campbell and giving her the spotlight.

Campbell told reporters: "The fact there were two girls who qualified for an Olympic Games, which is no mean feat, one of them for her first individual spot in Meg Harris — that they put their celebrations on hold and came over is one of the most incredible moments and something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

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"Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. I would have loved to have that fairytale ending more than anything else. But I can now sit back and reflect on a wonderful career. I can leave the sport with my head held really high. I came back to try do something no one’s done before and my god, I gave it a really good crack."

Her sister Bronte Campbell finished fifth in 24.46. She had already booked her spot in Paris for the 4x100m freestyle relay by finishing fourth in the 100m freestyle on Friday.

Cate is a former world record holder in the 100m freestyle. She won gold medals at the 2012, 2016 and 2021 Olympics as part of relay teams, but never snared an individual Olympic gold. And Jack - who has claimed individual freestyle berths in the 50m and 100m - said Campbell will forever be an inspiration to up-and-coming Aussie swimmers.

"It is beyond words," Jack said of Campbell's impact on Australian swimming. "She will forever be idolised and an inspiration to all of us. She has achieved phenomenal feats and all we can do is hope to continue to make her proud and make Australia proud and represent the country with pride."

Australia has announced its 41-person swimming team for the Paris Olympics after the trials wrapped up on Saturday night. Bronte Campbell and Cameron McEvoy join the exclusive club of four-time Olympic swimmers, while Kyle Chalmers, Emma McKeon and Brianna Throssell are off to their third Olympics.

But there is a lot of new blood in Paris, with 22 swimmers set to make their debuts at the 2024 Games. Fan favourite swimming coach Dean Boxall will also feature heavily at the Games, with ten swimmers under his tutelage earning a spot in Paris.

FUKUOKA, JAPAN - JULY 30:  Australian swim coach Dean Boxall celebrates with Mollie O'Callaghan and the Australian team during the ceremony on day eight of the Fukuoka 2023 World Aquatics Championships at Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall A on July 30, 2023 in Fukuoka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Fan favourite swimming coach Dean Boxall will feature heavily at the games, with ten swimmers under his tutelage earning a spot in Paris.

Australian Olympic swimming team: Iona Anderson, Ben Armbruster, Jaclyn Barclay, Bronte Campbell, Jack Cartwright, Kyle Chalmers, Abbey Connor, Isaac Cooper, Lizzie Dekkers, Jenna Forrester, Max Giuliani, Meg Harris, Zac Incerti, Shayna Jack, Moesha Johnson, Se-Bom Lee, Cameron McEvoy, Emma McKeon, Kaylee McKeown, Thomas Neill, Mollie O’Callaghan, Lani Pallister, Alex Perkins, Jamie Perkins, William Petric, Ella Ramsay, Sam Short, Brendon Smith, Flynn Southam, Jenna Strauch, Zac Stubblety-Cook, Kai Taylor, Matt Temple, Brianna Throssell, Ariarne Titmus, Sam Williamson, Brad Woodward, Olivia Wunsch, Elijah Winnington, William Yang, Joshua Yong