Champions and rising stars set to shine in Kazan
13 April 2015
SWIMMING: Led by three defending World Champions and a host of the world’s best swimmers, a team of 38 athletes are set to contest the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.
The team was selected after eight days of intense competition at the 2015 Australian Swimming Championships, and will see a powerful blend of seasoned veterans, rising stars and debutants take to the blocks.
“We have had a great week,” Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren said.
“Lots of great qualifications and that’s what it’s all about. Of course it’s about national titles and making national podiums, but ultimately it is a great opportunity to select a great team and that’s what has happened.”
James Magnussen, Cate Campbell and Christian Sprenger will all have the opportunity to defend their world titles after securing their spot on the Australian Dolphins Swim Team.
Despite coming second to Cameron McEvoy in the men’s 100 freestyle, Magnussen remains confident in his ability to win the blue-ribband event in Kazan.
"That's what we are working towards now,” Magnussen said of his goal to win his third consecutive World title.
"No one has ever done it and I guess it is something that keeps me motivated because pretty much everything in a 100 freestyle has been done at some stage. You can't even say you want to be the first person to crack 47 [seconds for the 100 metres] because it has been done. So this is a pretty special legacy type goal, I guess, to show that I have been able to stay at the top of world swimming for a number of years."
In the corresponding women’s event, Cate Campbell booked her ticket to Russia with an equal best time in the world this year – a truly remarkable result for the 22-year-old who had shoulder surgery just six months ago.
“It was a smart swim more than anything else,” Campbell said after her 100m victory. “I used every bit of the training I had done and that’s what got me that time. I just swam my own race and made sure I attacked all the things that I needed to attack and I’m very, very pleased with that result.”
For Sprenger, the opportunity to defend his 100m breaststroke world crown didn’t come easily. The 29-year-old came into the meet with just six weeks of breaststroke training under his belt after undergoing radical shoulder surgery in 2014.
Sprenger came second behind 20-year-old Jake Packard in the final, with both athletes just a fraction outside the qualifying time. Both Sprenger and Packard have been selected for the 4 x 100m medley relay.
“Our experience from 2014 showed us that we need two swimmers in each of the form strokes and given that Kazan serves as a springboard meet for the Olympic Games, we can’t take any chances,” Verhaeren said.
“I feel very lucky to be on this team,” Sprenger said.
“They’ve really given me a chance to have the time I need to get my body prepared. I look forward to the next three months where I can show them that they made the right decision.”
The team boasts another remarkable comeback story in Grant Hackett.
At 34 years of age, Hackett qualified for his sixth World Championships team. More than six years after retiring from swimming, and after just six months back in the pool, Hackett surpassed all his own expectations to grab a bronze medal in the 400m freestyle. He then went on to place fourth in the 200m freestyle, securing a relay spot on the team for Worlds in the process.
“It’s a different sort of achievement,” Hackett said. “If you’d asked me 10 years ago about making a relay team and that being the only thing I was on the team for, I would have been bitterly disappointed but now it’s like one of the biggest achievements of my life to make that team.”
Hackett competed at his first World Championships in 1998, a year before rookie Kyle Chalmers was even born.
Chalmers is one of three young athletes who will make their Australian Dolphins Swim Team debut. The 16-year-old, who will contest the 4 x 100m freestyle relay, said he surprised even himself.
“Leading in for me, I had no idea I would even make the final so I was happy to make the final and then I was really happy to make the team,” Chalmers said.
“I was just tying to stay calm and take it all in. I was between McEvoy and Magnussen who are the two fastest men in the world so I was a bit nervous but I just tried to do my own thing and stay under control. I just tried to do my race plan which I think I executed pretty well.”
Chalmers’ fellow debutants include Kurt Herzog and Hayley Baker. Additionally, it is the first long course Australian Swim Team for David Morgan, Leah Neal, Daniel Smith and Brianna Throssell who have all represented Australia at a World Short Course Championships previously.
Kazan also serves as an important stepping stone for a host of young athletes on the team who are making the progression towards Rio 2016. At just 18 years of age, Mack 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.
“I think I made my senior debut at exactly the right time,” Horton said.
“I made the team for the Commonwealth Games last year which is probably the easiest big international meet to debut at. Now I have progressed in my performance and will go towards Worlds and then that is building towards the Olympics. It’s time to start getting up on that international stage, working towards next year.”
Further athletes are set to be named to the team following the Open Water World Cup which will take place in Mexico on 2 May.
The Australian Dolphins Swim Team for the 2015 World Championships
NAME AGE CLUB STATE
Matthew Abood 28 Sydney University NSW
Jessica Ashwood 21 Chandler QLD
Hayley Baker 19 Melbourne Vicentre VIC
Bronte Barratt 26 St Peters Western QLD
Joshua Beaver 22 Tigersharks VIC
Bronte Campbell 20 Commercial QLD
Cate Campbell 22 Commercial QLD
Kyle Chalmers 16 Marion SA
Ashley Delaney 28 Nunawading VIC
Tommaso D'Orsogna 24 Commercial QLD
Brittany Elmslie 20 St Peters Western QLD
Thomas Fraser-Holmes 23 Miami QLD
Madeline Groves 19 St Peters Western QLD
Grant Hackett 34 Miami QLD
Jayden Hadler 21 Commercial QLD
Kurt Herzog 23 SOPAC NSW
Mack Horton 18 Melbourne Vicentre VIC
Grant Irvine 24 St Peters Western QLD
Mitchell Larkin 21 St Peters Western QLD
James Magnussen 23 Ravenswood NSW
Cameron McEvoy 20 Palm Beach Currumbin QLD
David McKeon 22 Chandler QLD
Emma McKeon 20 Chandler QLD
Taylor McKeown 20 Indooroopilly QLD
Keryn McMaster 21 Waterworx QLD
David Morgan 21 TSS Aquatics QLD
Leah Neale 19 Indooroopilly QLD
Jake Packard 20 Indooroopilly QLD
Kylie Palmer 25 Indooroopilly QLD
Emily Seebohm 22 Brothers QLD
Daniel Smith 23 Miami QLD
Christian Sprenger 29 Commercial QLD
Brianna Throssell 19 Perth City WA
Lorna Tonks 26 Brothers QLD
Benjamin Treffers 23 Burley Griffin NSW
Tessa Wallace 21 Pelican Waters Caloundra QLD
Madison Wilson 20 St Peters Western QLD
Melanie Wright 28 Southport Olympic QLD
Team Size – 38 (Male – 20; Female – 18)
Rookies – Hayley Baker, Kyle Chalmers, Kurt Herzog
Long Course Rookies – David Morgan, Leah Neale, Daniel Smith
Oldest Team Members - Grant Hackett (34); Melanie Wright (28)
Youngest Team Members - Kyle Chalmers (16); Brianna Throssell (19)
Most years on an Australian team - Grant Hackett (12); Bronte Barratt (11)
World Championships appearances - Bronte Barratt (6 consecutive); Grant Hackett (6)