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Aussies preparing crocodile appearance in Rio

11 March 2016

SYNCHRONISED SWIMMING: First it was AC/DC at London, now the Australian synchronised swimming team is set to showcase the NT News most prized animal at the Rio Olympic Games – the crocodile.

Beneath all the glitz and glamour of gelled back hair and waterproof make-up the Australian Team is set for business in South America later this year with routines to make the world sit up and take notice.

London Olympian, and current Captain Bianca Hammett said the free team routine, one of four performances, will highlight what makes Australia great with not only the crocodile but other Australian species.

The Games theme is an adaptation of their World Championships routine which featured redback spider influenced outfits.

“It’s about the Australian critters and the outback. There’s going to be animal moves,” Hammett said.

“The crocodile move is going to be with our arm reaching up and then down to the water, like the crocodile mouth opening and closing. We’re going to be the crocodile in that moment.”

It’s been a busy 12 months for the Brisbane-based athlete and the other 11 members of the Australian team.

First there was qualifying for Rio at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia in July, then there’s been monthly camps at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.

“It’s been a really long and tough 12 months.

“Qualifying for the Games was the biggest accomplishment, it was an amazing feeling.

“It was the first year New Zealand had competed at the World Championships so it made us even more competitive.”

Hammett is speaking from a camp at the AIS, where she and her teammates have been training in the gym and pool for the past fortnight.

“The camps are usually at least two weeks. It’s a good chance for us to get to together. For example two of us in the duet are from Queensland and one is from West Australia so we meet a few days before the rest of the team to get some time together.”

With the squad needing to be cut from 12 to nine before the Games, Hammett said it will be a tough decision for selectors.

“It’s hard, we’re all fighting for a spot of the team. It’s going to be really sad but we know it’s coming.

“It’s part of the sport.”

The team will have trials in Perth in early April where the athletes will get their chance to prove they deserve their spot on the plane in August.

“I think no matter who gets picked, everyone is going to push themselves. We’re all pushing each other to be better.”

Hammett said it’s important the athletes are close in skill level because being too good or bad at each move can become a problem in the cohesion of the performances.

“You don’t want to be too high or too low at something because it will stand out.”

Having taken up the sport at age eight after reading an advertisement in the newspaper, Hammett is overjoyed that a career that started at a young age and led to a debut in the national team nine years ago could lead to the title “Dual Olympian”.

And after missing out at Beijing 2008, but being a part of the training as a non-travelling reserve, Hammett is keen to experience all the colour and flair Brazil will have to offer.

“At London there were so many great experiences, including the Opening Ceremony.”

“We’re competing in the second week so we get to go to the Opening Ceremony and get that full Games experience.”

April will be a busy month for Hammett, with the trials and then the National Championships and then, if selected, athletes will attend a training camp.

But she’s ready to give it her all for a chance to pull on the green and gold tracksuit once more.

“My first swim in London, the Technical team, was easily my best experience ever. I had so much fun. At most competitions I get nervous but I was so excited and proud to go out there and swim for my country, that there was no room for nerves, just the fun and excitement of swimming.”

The Australian synchronised swimming team for the Rio Games is expected to be selected in mid-April.

ANNIE KEARNEY
olympics.com.au

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