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Australian swimming team for world championships set to be smallest since Atlanta Olympic Games

May 2, 2013
Bronte Barratt

Bronte Barratt

Australian swimmers have busted the Olympic hangover myth but the national team is still set to be the smallest since the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

The combination of incredibly tough qualifying times and a desire to fight back after last years London Olympics has forced Australian swimmers to push themselves to new levels in 2013.

In one of his final acts as head coach, Leigh Nugent set the qualifying standard at times required to reach 2011 world championship finals.

Essentially its trimmed the fat from the swim team, with faster winning times but no room for those who arent potential finals prospects.

“The talent in the pool is rising to the top,” high performance director Michael Scott said.

“A lot of the swimmers said before the meet they wanted their swimming to do the talking and that has certainly been witnessed in the pool.”
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As it stands only 33 swimmers appear to have guaranteed spots on the Australian team bound for Barcelona, with four selection races remaining.

The London team had 46 swimmers, while the only time in the past decade Australia has named a team fewer than 40 was the 2005 world titles when a team of 38 travelled to Montreal.

The smallest swim team in recent memory was the team of 33 athletes that competed at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

But this Australian team is stronger than 12 months earlier based on times swum to win races.

As it stands 13 of the 22 Olympic events here were won in times faster than last years trials.

It blows away the previous post-Olympic years, with the 2009 trials having just seven faster events and in 2005 that figure was even lower at six.

Former captain Grant Hackett said the swimmers had responded to the fierce criticism of 2012.

“Ive been really impressed by all of the results,” Hackett said.

“Ive always been saying, theyve gone through this controversy and the reputation of Australian swimming has been questioned, its up to the athletes to stand up and perform.

“If they stand up and perform and start becoming a cohesive unit again and really getting results on the board it will start to swing momentum the other way.

“Its a testament to the athletes to see these great results and to see that only (a few) events are slower than what the Olympic trials were, which if you compare to 2008 and probably 2004, 2000 and 1996 that would probably be a very different statistic.”


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