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First timers hope for the best in London

18 July 2012

SWIMMING: Olympic dreams begin in swimming pools and stadiums every day. Only a few dreamers end up performing on the world’s biggest sporting stage and even fewer reach the Olympic podium. But as the 410 Aussies head to London, medals are not always the goal.

In swim coach Brant Best’s squad there is the marquee man, James Magnussen. His star status is huge, but behind every superstar is an almighty team.

At the same time as Magnussen, long distance swimmer Jessica Ashwood joined the Best squad two years ago. Two Daniels joined them last year- backstroker Daniel Arnamnart and individual medley specialist Daniel Tranter, and youngster Jayden Hadler returned to Best’s stable after training under him as a junior.

“It’s been a really great adventure for all of us,” Ashwood said as they put together the final pieces in the puzzle of Olympic preparation.

“We’ve been doing a lot of training, stuff related to racing and a lot of mental preparation as well. Now it’s time to fine tune the small things like turns,” Ashwood said.

One of the 19-year-old’s biggest rivals in the 800m freestyle is a face of the London Games and Team GB, Rebecca Adlington.

“Rebecca’s one of the best in the world and we did a session together when she came to Australia. That was pretty good but that was a while ago. I’ve improved a bit now so it will be good to race her and see where I’m at.

“My main goal is to make the final. If I make the final I’ll be super happy and I hope to improve on my time from Olympic trials.”

Echoing her enthusiasm, backstroker Daniel Arnamnart is raring to go.

“I’m pretty excited obviously, just happy and embracing the moment!” the 22-year-old said.

“Looking at the rankings I’d like to sneak into a final – that’d be good for my first Olympics – and that way I’ll be in the medley relay and we should pick up a medal in that relay, if not hopefully take down the Yanks!”

The last time the Americans didn’t win the men’s medley was when they didn’t race at the 1980 Moscow Games when Australia took advantage of the weakened field.

“It would be good to get that win- that’s the goal!” said Arnamnart, eyeing a potential combination with squad members Hadler (butterfly) and Magnussen (freestyle).

“We talk about being together in that final and taking down the Yanks. I think because we train together it brings out that good vibe.

“We’ve been working together, practicing our changeovers together and practicing all the little things.”

The ten day countdown is on and the best is yet to come.

Taya Conomos in London

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