With the Aussie Team in Singapore…

(Continuing news of the Australian national swim team, as it prepares for the World Championships beginning next week.)

By Ian Hanson

SINGAPORE, Tuesday, July 10.

AIS based, Western Australian pin-up boy, Anthony Matkovich, had a foot in both camps during the Rafter-Ivanisevic Wimbledon five-set epic on Monday night. Big Macca, whose dad is Croatian, was overheard to say: "Bad luck boys," after the news came through that Rafter had lost 7-9 in the fifth set.

But the way Rafter congratulated his good friend Goran (appearing in his fourth All-England Club final) after the match, was certainly a lesson in how to be gracious in defeat.

Olympic golden boy Ian Thorpe turned into an instant score service provider during the gripping final set. Can you imagine a group of 80 Australians arriving in Singapore after eight hours in the air, with Rafter locked in battle, desperate to know the score. When the team touched down Pat was 5-2 up in the fourth but it was Thorpey, via sponsor Telstra, who kept the line open on the bus trip from Changi Airport to the team hotel, for the final few games of that gripping fifth set – giving the team a blow-by-blow description of the final few games.

World 100m butterfly record holder and defending world champion Michael Klim has taken to acupuncture to assist with the recovery of his injured ankle. Experienced Brisbane-based massage therapist Gordon Hepburn, offered the needles to Michael’s injured ankle. The world champ said he would try the ancient Chinese remedy help get him back to his best. Klim will also spend his time out of the training pool, bathing his leg in the hotel pool, to keep the swelling down.

The Telstra Dolphins have wasted no time settling into their new surrounds, giving their Singapore head-quarters the thumbs up. The Changi Beach Club, set on picturesque Changi Beach, just 1500m walk from their Hotel (surrounded by an 18-hole golf club), comes complete with eight-lane 50m pool, Tenpin Bowling Alley, full-equipped air conditioned gymnasium with all the mod-cons; four fully-sized snooker tables; three restaurants overlooking Malaysia, sun-decks, a kids' disco, tennis court, squash court, accommodation overlooking the pool; the Jackpot Room (complete with 30 gaming machines) and 30 degree (that's 86 Fahrenheit) weather! Sucked in….

Members of the Australian Open Water Swimming team, here in Singapore en-route to Fukuoka, will complete their final training sessions tomorrow at the Singapore Airlines Club. They leave tomorrow night for Japan and one team member, triple Olympian Hayley Lewis, who will contest the 5km and 10km events before coming in to swim the 1500 metres in the pool was certainly relaxed when the Dolphin Daily caught up with her in the team massage parlour. "I’m feeling great," said Hayley, "I can take plenty of this in the middle of the day," as massage therapist Joanne Yeoman-Hare gave the 27-year-old Super-Mum some last minute TLC……sure beats those home duties Hayley (who incidentally admits she has worked harder for these Championships than she has for any major meet for a long time.). We wish her well. PS. Her greatest fans, husband Greg and son Jacob Joe, will be in Japan, cheering her on.

Geoff "Skippy" Huegill – world record holder for the 50 metres butterfly – was certainly quick out of the blocks when it came to the shopping list. Skippy was downtown and back for a new camera before lunch on Day One. The Ken Wood trained butterflyer looks as trim and as focused a he’s ever looked. And you can rest assured those men’s butterfly events with teammate Michael Klim and Swede Lars Frolander are sure to be a photo-finish.

Ian Thorpe may have some unexpected competition during his world 400m freestyle title defence this month from one of the few swimmers who doesn't consider him invincible. Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband, who beat Thorpe for the Olympic 200m freestyle gold, said today he was considering adding the 400m to his program for the world titles in Fukuoka, Japan. Van den Hoogenband said he would make a decision at the end of next week whether to swim the 400m. The "Flying Dutchman" won gold in the 100 and 200m freestyle at last year's Sydney Olympics and bronze in the 50m to edge Thorpe out as the male swimmer of the meet.
He said today he was considering dropping the 50m from his world championship program in favour of the 400m, the event Thorpe has dominated since 1998.

That would pit van den Hoogenband against Thorpe in the 100, 200 and 400m freestyle in Fukuoka. While van den Hoogenband conceded during a teleconference organised by the Goodwill Games that Thorpe would have the edge in the 400, he is not intimidated by the triple world record holder.

Thorpe recently broke "Hoogie's" world 200m freestyle record and set another one in the 800m at the Australian World Championship selection trials in March, but the Dutchman refuses to be overawed by the Sydney teenager's talent. "He never intimidates me," the 23-year-old said.

On paper, Thorpe appears to have the edge over his rival in both the 200and 400m on times this year. And Van den Hoogenband admits to taking a lengthy break after the Sydney Games to savour his Olympic success. But rather than recoil at the thought of racing a stronger Thorpe than the one he sank at the Olympics, the Dutchman said he was looking forward to the challenge of competing against the Australian in Japan.
"I'm training really hard and I think I can swim a good World Championships," van den Hoogenband said.
"We shall see what the results will be."

A month after the world titles, Van den Hoogenband and compatriot Inge deBruijn, a triple Olympic gold medalist, will form part of the European All-Stars swimming team during the Goodwill Games which start on August 29. Goodwill Games organisers also announced today Sweden's Olympic 100m butterfly champion Lars Frolander and dual Olympic gold medalist Yana Klochkova had also confirmed for the Brisbane competition.

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