Aussies Hoping to Close Gap in 800 Free Relay

SYDNEY, March 2. ONE of the highlights of the Athens Olympics was the United States women claiming gold and breaking the world record in the 800-meter freestyle relay. Not only did Natalie Coughlin, Carly Piper, Dana Vollmer and Kaitlin Sandeno bring pride to the Red, White and Blue, the foursome removed East Germany from the record books – for good.

During that race, Australia failed to earn a place on the medals stand. Yet, word out of Oz is that the Aussies are in the midst of packaging a squad capable of giving the United States a run for gold at the World Championships.

Recently, Libby Lenton declared that she is going to place significant emphasis on the 200 freestyle and could emerge as the hammer the Australians need. Alice Mills, too, is showing more dedication to the 200 free. While Petria Thomas has retired, the Aussies still have the likes of Elka Graham, Linda MacKenzie and Shayne Reese to benefit from.

Melissa Mitchell is another athlete who will make a push for an 800 free relay berth, along with youngsters Haylee Reddaway and Bronte Barratt. What does this all mean? Well, the 200 free will cook when the Australian World Trials begin March 12. More than a few sub-2:00 swims are possible.

Giaan Rooney is the missing name from the list, however, as she as opted to focus on the 100 back, rather than swim the 200 free. Those events are held on the same day of the Australian Trials.

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