Australian Olympians Set to Compete at Japan Open

Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya

Freestyle sprint stars Bronte and Cate Campbell, Cam McEvoy and James Magnussen will headline a strong Australian Dolphins contingent at this weekend’s Japan Open Swim Meet at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Centre.

The three-day meet will start on Friday, May 20 and conclude on Sunday evening, May 22 and will play a major part in the competition phase for the Australians in the countdown to the Rio Olympics.

Members of the Olympic team heading to Rio will also compete at the Santa Clara International Meet in California next month (June 4,5) before their final competition, the Swimming Australia Grand Prix at the Sleeman Sports Complex, Brisbane on July 1 and 2.

Twelve members of the Rio-bound Olympic team will line up in the Japan meet against the cream of the Japanese Olympic Team and under the rules of the meet only two visitors can progress through to the A finals.

Joining Queensland’s Campbell sisters and McEvoy amongst the already nominated 2016 Olympians will be Josh Beaver (VIC), Tamsin Cook (WA), Jacob Hansford (NSW), Belinda Hocking (VIC), Travis Mahoney (VIC), Taylor McKeown (QLD), Leah Neale (QLD), Jake Packard (QLD) and Daniel Smith (QLD).

Magnussen and fellow 4x100m freestyler Matt Abood, who will be nominated to the AOC to join the team at the end of the month, will line up alongside McEvoy in the 50 and 100m freestyle in Tokyo.

The Olympic team members will also be joined by emerging young freestyle sprinters Will Stockwell and Shayna Jack from Simon Cusack’s Commercial group, exciting National Age backstroke star Kaylee McKeown, who has recently joined Chris Mooney’s USC Spartans and improving butterflyer Gemma Schlicht under MLC Aquatics coach Nick Veliades as well as a select team of eight swimmers from the NSW State Team which includes World Championship representative Kenneth To among others.

McEvoy, who won an historic 50, 100 and 200m freestyle treble at the Hancock Prospecting Australian Championships in Adelaide last month, will add the 400 metres to his repertoire this weekend as he prepares for a busy Olympic program.

“The 400m freestyle is on a day that doubles up with the 100m freestyle but the 400m freestyle is on first so it would be nice to do that as a practice for Rio when I am doing the 100m freestyle and the 4x200m freestyle and vice-versa,” McEvoy said.

“And although I am going into it with that in mind, hopefully practicing that with a bit of racing, I know I’m going to be under fatigue and (heavy) workload, I think that could be really good; there are some great sprinters over in Japan at the moment.”

Australia’s Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren said the key to the Japan Open and the up-coming Santa Clara International Swim Meet and Australian Grand Prix will be the opportunity to practice race strategy.

“The exposure to international competition, the travel, hotel living, warm up and the opportunity to practice the right race strategy leading in is very important,” said Verhaeren.

“For someone like Cam, his decision to race the 400m is an opportunity to test himself in other events as well; it’s another start, another competition, another challenge to work on different things.”

“For all of them it is another opportunity to practice swimming fast heats; they cannot afford to hold back as they are only taking two visitors into each final. The athletes need to know they are prepared.”

Coaches Rohan Taylor (Nunawading, VIC) and Chris Mooney (USC Spartans) will also use the trip to take their respective charges – Hocking, Beaver and Mahoney with Taylor and the McKeown girls, Neale and Packard with Mooney – to Japan’s Institute of Sport for a training camp post the competition.

“It is a great opportunity to utilise the facilities they have up in Japan; we have been in there before and the Japanese are so accommodating – it will be a perfect opportunity off the back of the competition,” said Taylor.

Swimming Australia contributed to this report.

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