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World Champs countdown heats up in Doha

22 July 2015

SWIMMING: The heat is on for the Australian Dolphins Swim Team who have landed in Qatar and are settling in smoothly to a 10-day staging camp in Doha.

As temperatures soar above 40 degrees Celsius, the swimmers are making sure their preparations and race skills are just as hot before they take to the world stage at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia (August 2-9).

The 35-strong pool team will fly into the championship city, Kazan on July 29 to join their open water teammates who arrived in Russia today (Tuesday July 21) from their training camp in Barcelona.

The Open Water Team, with two-time Olympian and 2009 world champion Mel Gorman at the helm, start their campaign with the 5km events on Saturday; followed by the 10km Olympic nomination events, the 25km and the 5km teams.

The 2015 FINA World Championships will see a blend of seasoned veterans, rising stars and debutants take to the blocks, with all the pool action available LIVE on 7TWO and at www.7swimming.com.au.

The Dolphins will be led by two defending World Champions in Cate Campbell and Christian Sprenger as well as a host of top ranked swimmers including; Emily Seebohm, Mack Horton, Maddie Groves, Madi Wilson, Mitch Larkin, Jessica Ashwood and Bronte Campbell – who are all ranked inside the top two swimmers in the world this year for one, or all of their respective events.

The always impressive Cate Campbell will get the chance to defend her world title from Barcelona 2013 in the final of the women’s 100m freestyle on Day six.

If all goes to plan, Cate, who won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific Championships, will line up on the blocks alongside her sister Bronte, the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacs silver medallist, as they battle for sibling supremacy, a shot at the world title and a potential place on the podium together.

Twenty-two-year-old Cate will go into the heats with the equal top time for 2015 (52.69) with Dutch swimmer Femke Heemskerk joining her as the hot favourites. Cate will be looking to get the better of her Dutch rival after setting that time at the 2015 Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Championships, just six months after shoulder surgery.  

In the corresponding men’s event, McEvoy could be a surprise packet as the field will be without the defending world champion, James Magnussen, following his withdrawal due to shoulder surgery.

Currently ranked third in the world in this event for 2015 and after finishing just a touch outside the podium in fourth place at the World Championships in 2013, McEvoy - also known as the Professor - will be hoping his momentum continues to build as he works his way up the rankings to secure a spot on the medal dais in Russia.

Another swimmer looking for golden glory in Kazan is backstroker Emily Seebohm.

Seebohm could be on her way to picking up a pair of individual world titles if she can reach peak performance in Russia. The experienced racer, with new coach David Lush here in Doha with his charge, will go in as the one to beat in both the 100 and 200m backstroke events, with the top ranked time from 2015 to her name in both events.

Don’t discount her fellow Aussie teammates with both Madi Wilson (100 back) and Hayley Baker (200 back) hot on her heels.

Kazan will also serve as an important stepping-stone for a host of young athletes on the team who are making the progression towards the Olympic Games in Rio 2016.

Two of those promising young athletes are distance freestylers Mack Horton and Jessica Ashwood.

At just 18 years of age, Horton will head to the World Championships with three 2015 National titles under his belt in the 400m, 800m and his pet event, the 1500m freestyle.

If his world rankings for this year are anything to go by, the talented teenager could be visiting the podium more than once in Kazan.

Horton is currently ranked first in the world for both the 400 and 800m freestyle and second in the 1500m freestyle for 2015.

Ashwood is also showing no signs of slowing down, with both the 800 and 1500m freestyle Australian record to her name and current ranking of second in the world for both events so far this year.

Also going the distance in a different sense of the word is team veteran Grant Hackett, who boasts Australian sport’s comeback of the year, returning to the Australian Dolphins Swim Team after a seven year lay-off.

At 34 years of age, this is Hackett’s sixth World Championship team and first Australian team for six years. The Denis Cotterell coached star surprised everyone with his remarkable race skills and surpassed all expectations to qualify for the team at the National championships in April. Hackett will swim in the 4x200m freestyle relay and will be an integral part of the team.

At the other end of the spectrum, 16-year-old rookie, Kyle Chalmers will race at his first World Championships as part of the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team.

Following a few withdrawals, Swimming Australia Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren has had to alter some entries and as a result, Olympians Melanie Wright and Tommaso D’Orsogna have been handed extra individual opportunities.

D’Orsogna, who had already qualified for the 100m butterfly, will join Pan Pacific champion Cam McEvoy in the 100m freestyle.

London 4x100m freestyle golden girl Wright, selected as a relay swimmer, has earned an individual race in the 200m freestyle following Kylie Palmer’s voluntary suspension as she awaits a FINA hearing for a positive doping infringement from the last World Championships in Barcelona.

“Melanie is an experienced athlete who knows what she can and can’t do; she is absolutely keen to swim the 200m and she is confident she can do it,” said Verhaeren.

“It is satisfying to know that we are strong enough and have the depth to fill those positions from within the team.”

Speaking about the Dolphins’ goals for Russia, Verhaeren said, “The difference between winning and losing can be as little as one-one-hundredth of a second so we’ll be looking for peak performance and for the team to do their absolute best.

“An extension of what we saw in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games and the Pan Pacs in team cohesion, behavior, showing themselves as elite athletes and everything that goes along with that.

“The World Championships, like the Olympics is always difficult; almost everyone is there; anything can happen and it is becoming tighter and tighter.”

Swimming Australia

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