By Stephen. J. Thomas
CANBERRA, Australia – 29 April. CLEMENTINE Stoney, a member of the Australian 2000 Olympic team, told SwimInfo she had decided to request the move to train under Gennadi Touretski after returning to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra last week.
The twenty-year-old dorsal specialist arrived back from Moscow, having competed in the World Short Course Championships where she was a finalist in both the 100 and 200 back. Stoney felt it was time for a change in coaching philosophy after working under AIS head coach Mark Regan since she joined the elite program in mid-1999.
"I have been trying to get that extra something out of myself for a while now and can't seem to find it. Gennadi is one of the best coaches in the world and I am looking forward to training with him," she said.
Stoney competed in her first national team in 2000 at the World SC Champs in Athens, taking silver in the 200 back and reached the semifinals of the same event at the Sydney Olympics.
In 2001, Stoney swam a PR 2:11.58 at the World Champs in Japan finishing 6th and followed up the next week with a short-lived world record 2:05.83 at the Australian Short Course Champs (since bettered in the next race by Brit Sarah Price and then in November at East Meadow by current holder, American Natalie Coughlin, 2:03.62).
The move to Touretski, will also come as a boost for the Russian-born coach who, it is fair to say, has had an extremely challenging twelve months. It was in April last year that police charged Touretski with possession of a small quantity of banned anabolic steroids found in bizarre circumstances amongst property recovered in an open safe after a robbery at his Canberra home. After being suspended from his position at the AIS and months of court delays, the case against him was dismissed when no evidence was offered by prosecutors. He was immediately reinstated by the AIS but then underwent heart bypass surgery in late October and was given the rest of the year off to recover.
On his return to the pool deck most of his elite swimming squad had been reallocated to other staff to maintain their continuity. So the man who, to date, has coached swimmers to forty-four world records was left with only South African-born backstroker Ray Hass under his charge.
Undeterred Touretski guided his lone swimmer to victory and a PR 1:58.59 in the 200 back at last month's national titles in Brisbane, defeating Matt Welsh, the Australian record-holder and Olympic bronze medalist. The performance earned Touretski selection on the Australian coaching staff for the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacs together with Hass and Stoney.
Touretski's most famous student, the great Alex Popov, is looking in good shape after picking up two bronze medals back on home territory at the World Short Course Champs in Moscow. Popov leaves Canberra in two weeks to compete in the Mare Nostrum series before heading to the European Championships in Berlin in late July.