Australia plunges into the Olympic swimming trials in Adelaide on Saturday, with question marks swirling in the form of some big names and shockwaves reverberating over the withdrawal of two-time silver medalist Maddie Groves.
Swimming has long been the medal-winning backbone of the country, which won 10 in the pool at the Rio 2016 Games, equaling its London feat four years earlier.
But those performances fell short of the 20 wins they won in Beijing in 2008, and hopes are high that the team can return to those lofty heights in Japan next month.
One swimmer who will not participate in the competition is Groves, a two-time silver medalist in Rio, who retired this week blaming “the misogynistic perverts in the sport and their bootlickers.”
The target for her comments was unclear and Swimming Australia said she had not received any formal complaints.
“We haven’t been able to speak to him directly and look at his concerns to find out what’s going on,” SA President Kieren Perkins said on Friday.
When it comes to matters in the pool, SA has set the bar high in the six-day practice – to qualify, athletes must match or exceed the time needed to qualify for the 2019 World Championships final.
Head coach Rohan Taylor said he has been impressed so far.
“The past 12 months and the preparations for the Australian Swim Trials have undoubtedly been a difficult time for our swimmers and coaches, but I am proud of the way they have learned to adapt and gain another level of resilience. “, did he declare. mentionned.
“The best part is that although the athletes had to overcome these obstacles along the way, we have seen some solid performances and times in recent events. “
After months of grueling work, with slender swimmers and so much at stake, world records could drop, with teenage Kaylee McKeown in the foreground.
She swam the second-fastest women’s 100-meter backstroke (57.63 seconds) last month to narrowly miss the world record of her American rival Regan Smith.
She will be aiming for a new mark on Sunday and will also compete in the 200 backstroke, having recently set the fourth fastest time in history.
The 19-year-old also has the best time in the world this season in the 200m individual medley.
All-round Emma McKeon, who won four medals in Rio, is another in form, posting the fastest time of the year in the 100m freestyle as she prepares to fight with sprint queen Cate Campbell , which aims for a fourth edition of the Olympic Games.
But some big names have their work cut out for them, including reigning 400m Olympic champion Mack Horton.
He finished 35th in the 200m at the nationals in April and retired from the 400m, with rising stars Elijah Winnington and Thomas Neill – as well as proven distance ace Jack McLoughlin – slamming his heels.
“It doesn’t really reflect what I can do in training,” said Horton, who will swim in the 400m on Saturday, recently.
Women’s 400m freestyle world champion Arirne Titmus, who is planning a showdown in Tokyo with great American Katie Ledecky, will be in action on Sunday as she seeks to prove she is fully recovered from an injury to her. shoulder. Titmus will also swim the 200m and 800m.
Reigning Olympic 100m freestyle champion Kyle Chalmers swims his pet race on Tuesday, while former pop star Cody Simpson – who once dated Miley Cyrus – will also be in action.
But the 24-year-old, a talented junior swimmer who returned to the sport in 2019, is expected to beat his personal best by a wide margin in the 100m butterfly to fly to Japan.
© 2021 AFP