Missile to lead powerful Olympic Swim Team to London
22 March 2012
The battle for medals in the pool at the London Olympic Games will be fierce and swimmers selected to represent Australia are capable of taking down the world’s best.
After eight days of spectacular racing at the Olympic Trials in Adelaide, 44 athletes (21 men and 23 women) have been officially selected onto the Swimming Section of the 2012 Australian Olympic Team. The final night was capped off with Cate and Bronte Campbell going 1-2 in the 50m freestyle to be the first Australian swimming siblings to qualify in the same event at the Olympics and the first siblings since 1972.
Half the Team will make their Olympic debut and Leisel Jones becomes the first Australian swimmer to compete in four Olympics.
Head Coach Leigh Nugent is impressed with the strength of his Team and the positive racing at the meet that doubled as the Olympic Trials.
“We've seen some great swimming this week and depth in many events. Our relay strength looks very good like it was in Beijing - if not better, and our sprinters have led the way in terms of world rankings,” Nugent said.
“The racing for individual swims in London has raised the bar here at our Trials and now the job is to do everything possible to best prepare for the Games in July.”
With the Opening Ceremony just 127 days away, Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission Nick Green was on hand to congratulate the athletes on their selection.
“The depth of young talent on show this week is really exciting for the Australian Olympic Team not only for London but also Rio 2016,” Green said.
“To see 13 and 14-year-olds making finals and matching it with the best shows that the future of swimming is in really great shape.”
At the Water Cube in 2008 the women produced all the gold. In 2012 the men are ready to win their share led by James ‘The Missile’ Magnussen.
World Champion Magnussen has told his rivals to ‘brace themselves’ as he looks set to be the first Australian male to win the coveted 100m freestyle gold medal since Michael Wenden at the Mexico City Games in 1968.
Magnussen’s warning came after setting two new personal best times this week - 47.10s in the 100m freestyle and 21.74s in the 50m freestyle.
“I've been thinking a lot about London for the last year or so and I can't wait to race at my first Olympics,” the reigning World Champion said.
“I've also been thinking about that world record and it's something I'm after,” he said of Brazilian Cesar Cielo’s “supersuit” 46.91s.
Magnussen’s blistering 50 metre time will also have his competitors on notice as will the depth of his sprinting teammates.
The Australian men are the current World Champions in the 4x100m freestyle and with the times swum by James ‘The Rocket’ Roberts (47.63), Matt Targett (48.32), Eamon Sullivan (48.53), Cameron McEvoy (48.58) and Tommaso D’Orsogna (48.64), taking back the Olympic title from the Americans is achievable.
Equally as dominant, Stephanie Rice overcame a string of injuries to win the 400m and 200m individual medley (IM) events in world-class times. Rice was the superstar at the Beijing Olympics with three gold medals (200m IM, 400m IM, 4x200m free) and was chosen as the Closing Ceremony Flagbearer. To have her back to her best at the Trials is a huge boost for the entire Olympic Team.
“I'm really happy to have come away with a PB (personal best) in these suits and, more than anything, just to execute the race I wanted to execute,” Rice said.
"I know if I get a good block (of training) in me, I know that I can improve on the times that I have done here in London.”
Remarkably her coach Michael Bohl has an amazing nine athletes from his squad named on the 2012 Australian Olympic Team.
Leisel Jones burst onto the international scene as a 14-year-old at Sydney 2000. London 2012 will be an Australian record fourth Games and the triple Olympic gold medallist and former world holder still has plenty to offer her teammates in and out of the water.
“To be the first swimmer to go to four Olympic Games is a huge honour and I can't wait to experience everything the London Games will have to offer. Hopefully I'll be able to pass on my experience to some of the younger members of our team,” Jones said.
Jones needs just one more Olympic medal to match Ian Thorpe’s Australian record of nine.
Kylie Palmer was part of the gold medal winning 4x200m relay with Rice in Beijing and she has the honour of being the only swimmer to qualify in three individual events (200m, 400m, 800m freestyle) for London 2012. The 22-year-old’s Australian record (4:03.40) in the 400m freestyle was a meet highlight.
The youngest member of the Swim Team for 2012 is 16-year-old freestyle sprinter Yolane Kukla and the oldest is Brenton Rickard at 28. The average age is 22.
The oldest female at 27 is Beijing gold medallist Libby Trickett. She provided the comeback story of the meet to be selected for the 4x100m relay team after finishing fifth in the 100m final. The strong freestyle contingent of Melanie Schlanger, Cate Campbell, Yolane Kukla, Brittany Elmslie, Alicia Coutts and Trickett could well improve on the 4x100m freestyle bronze from 2008.
The surprise packet of the Team is backstroker Matson Lawson. After finishing sixth in the 100m backstroke final he found another gear and finished second in the 200m backstroke behind another Olympic debutant Mitch Larkin.
“I’m so extremely excited, it’s a dream come true,” 19-year-old Lawson from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria said.
“My goal coming here was to make the top two – make the Team. I knew I was an outside chance but I’ve been training hard and it’s paid off. I’ve been wanting to go to the Olympics since watching the 2000 Games on TV. Ian Thorpe making his comeback took so much courage. It’s what really inspired me. It’s the first Australian Team I’ve ever made and it’s the best Team you could ever possibly make,” he said.
Australian Olympic Committee
2012 Australian Olympic Team Swimming Section:
Daniel Arnamnart (NSW), Jessica Ashwood (NSW), Angie Bainbridge (ACT), Bronte Barratt (QLD), Bronte Campbell (QLD), Cate Campbell (QLD), Alicia Coutts (ACT), Nick D’Arcy (QLD), Tommaso D’Orsogna (ACT), Brittany Elmslie (QLD), Blair Evans (WA), Sally Foster (ACT), Thomas Fraser-Holmes (QLD), Jayden Hadler (QLD), Samantha Hamill (QLD), Belinda Hocking (ACT), Leisel Jones (QLD), Yolane Kukla (QLD), Mitch Larkin (QLD), Matson Lawson (VIC), James Magnussen (NSW), Cameron McEvoy (QLD), Ned McKendry(QLD), David McKeon (NSW), Kenrick Monk (QLD), Ryan Napoleon (QLD), Meagen Nay (QLD), Jade Neilsen (QLD), Kylie Palmer (QLD), Leiston Pickett (QLD), Stephanie Rice (QLD), Brenton Rickard (QLD), James Roberts (QLD), Jessicah Schipper (QLD), Melanie Schlanger (QLD), Emily Seebohm (QLD), Christian Sprenger (QLD), Hayden Stoeckel (SA), Eamon Sullivan (NSW), Matthew Targett (VIC), Daniel Tranter (NSW), Libby Trickett (QLD), Tessa Wallace (QLD), Chris Wright (QLD)