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Magnussen primed for pool return

8 January 2013

SWIMMING: Steeled by his London Olympic critics, James Magnussen has gone to "another level" at training as he prepares to come under scrutiny again at his first meet since his 2012 Games disappointment.

Magnussen's coach Brant Best said on Monday his star charge looked forward to racing for his country again before home crowds at next week's inaugural Aquatic Super Series in Perth after moving on from the London Games fallout.

World 100m freestyle champion Magnussen spearheads a 30-strong Australian squad to take on China and South Africa in the $500,000 two-day team competition from January 18.

Favoured for two gold medals in London, the young New South Welshman was edged into silver in the 100m free and missed a medal altogether in the sprint relay.

"He did a good job going into London but he has found another level. He has been amazing at training," Best told AAP.

"He copped a bit of flak from a few people but at the end of the day he tried his guts out and had a good crack at his first Olympics.

"To give your all and to have people have a go at you like they did, it takes a hell of a lot of character to stand up and make yourself better, especially at 21.

"He continues to surprise me the way he steps up."

Best said Magnussen expected to be scrutinised at every meet following his London campaign but hoped the man dubbed "the Missile" would just have fun at Perth.

"This is more about giving him a chance to get up there and race again and enjoy it," he said.

"And to have the local crowd behind the team will be a big thing.

"Everyone makes mistakes. When you do it on the biggest stage in the world, everyone sees it."

Best said they did not have to go back to the drawing board after he was pipped by American Nathan Adrian in London.

"We reviewed the race and looked at what went right and wrong, but a lot of things went right in the process for preparing for London. We don't want to throw everything away," he said.

Best applauded the creation of the Perth event, saying it was just what was needed after Swimming Australia organised an independent review into team culture following the London Games.

"It's more about what the team does and less about the individuals which is good - it's the culture that Swimming Australia is moving towards after the review process," he said.

"It's a good team-building concept. It's a smart idea."

A near full-strength Australian team also boasting the likes of Alicia Coutts, Christian Sprenger and Emily Seebohm will use the event to prepare for the 2013 world championship trials starting in Adelaide in April.

China will feature Coutts' 200m individual medley rival, dual Olympic champion Ye Shiwen, while Chad Le Clos - the man who upset Michael Phelps in London's 200m butterfly final - leads South Africa.

Laine Clark

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