Horton's fast start to Games swim trials

Mack Horton has sounded his intentions in a blistering 200m freestyle heat session but the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games swim trials' new cut-throat format claimed its first big-name scalp.

Horton said before the meet he would not take the blue riband event seriously despite being the defending champion as he focused on the 400m and 1500m at the four-day trials in the Games pool.

However, he appears to have changed his tune.

Dual world titles contestant Alex Graham topped the 200m heats on the opening day, just 0.34 of a second ahead of Rio 400m gold medallist Horton.

Graham's time of one minute 46.72 seconds put him ninth on Australia's all-time 200m list.

In the most stacked event of the trials, Olympic 100m freestyle gold medallist Kyle Chalmers was third fastest ahead of multiple national champion Cam McEvoy and Australia's No.1-ranked 200m swimmer Clyde Lewis.

But one of the pre-race favourites - 2017 world titles revelation Jack Cartwright - missed the top-eight cut for Wednesday night's 200m final.

Under the new format, no semi-finals will be held at the national trials ensuring cut-throat heats with the eight fastest moving straight through to the medal race.

Horton insisted after his impressive heat that his sprint focus was still the 4x200 relay team, not the 200m crown.

"One of my highlights from Rio was the relay - it is probably as good as the gold medal," Horton said.

Cartwright, 19, is a huge casualty after looking to form a key part of Australia's 4x200m relay team at the Games.

He helped Australia finish fourth in that event at last year's world titles on international debut.

In the women's 200m freestyle, 17-year-old Ariarne Titmus was fastest for Wednesday night's final ahead of four-time defending champion and world titles silver medallist Emma McKeon.

McKeon quickly backed up to top the heats in her new event - 200m butterfly.

It was the start of a huge program for McKeon who hopes to contest seven events - plus relays - at April's home Games.

In the women's 100m backstroke, former world champion Emily Seebohm topped the heats as she eyes her 11th national title in the event in 12 years in Wednesday night's final.

Seebohm's partner, former dual world champion Mitch Larkin, was fastest for Wednesday's men's 100m backstroke medal race.

Matthew Wilson (200m breaststroke), Taylor McKeown (200m breaststroke) and Theo Benehoutsos (200m butterfly) were top qualifiers for their respective Wednesday night finals.

Finals start at 2015 AEDT.

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