Aussie swimmers dive into uncharted waters


Steve Larkin / AAP News

Head coach Rohan Taylor hopes Australia’s swimmers have enough energy to plunge into uncharted waters at the Commonwealth Games.

The Birmingham Games mark the end-point of a gruelling period for much of Australia’s swim team.

Never before have they had two major meets so close together – last month’s world championships and now the Commonwealth Games.

The international competitions followed selection trials in May in Australia, meaning swimmers have to peak three times in three months.

And Taylor says that struggle is real.

“It’s tough,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“They have never done it before, this is the first time we have done a campaign like this.

“The first thing is to acknowledge that yeah, it is tough.

“But what can we do to help to move you past it, what are you learning from it – and we will find out.”

Most of Australia’s 39 swimmers at the worlds are backing up in Birmingham from Friday.

Four years ago on the Gold Coast, Australia’s swimmers collected 28 gold medals – the nation’s record haul at a Commonwealth Games.

And Australia’s overall campaign in Birmingham is again looking to swimmers to provide a flying start.

“The team always understands the expectations that are on us,” Taylor said of his swimmers.

“We understand that we do represent Australia and we do it well and successfully.

“There is an eagerness to get out and be competitive and put our best foot forward.

“As far as the pressure, they (swimmers) put so much pressure on themselves, well above anyone else … they’re very much looking forward to getting the meet going.”

Seven swimming gold medals are on offer on Friday’s opening day of competition in Birmingham – and Australians start red-hot favourites in five of them.

The list features world champions Elijah Winnington (400m freestyle) and Zac Stubblety-Cook (200m breaststroke).

Ariarne Titmus holds the best time in the world this year in her Friday event, the 20 0m freestyle, and Australia’s 4x100m mixed medley relay team also carry favouritism.

And on Commonwealth rankings this year, para-swimmer Tim Hodges (100m backstroke S9) is top-ranked and Emily Beecroft (100m freestyle S9) is second-ranked.

Taylor baulks at making medal predictions but expected the Dolphins to have enough fuel left in their tanks for their final push.

“We’re hopeful,” he said.

“We have navigated a lot of different things throughout this period … it has been a great learning curve.”



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