Greatness On Show for Australia’s Campaign Tokyo Camps

Relay Team AUS, Mens 4x200m Freestyle Final, 18th FINA World Swimming Championships 2019, 26 July 2019, Gwangju South Korea. Pic by Delly Carr/Swimming Australia. Pic credit requested and mandatory for free editorial usage. THANK YOU.
GREATNESS DELIVERED: Australia will again focus on its Relay Project at their up-coming National Camps. Pictured here are Alex Graham, Kyle Chalmers and Clyde Lewis celebrating gold in the 4x200m in Gwangju. Photo: Swimming Australia (Delly Carr).

Australia’s Olympic swimming campaign kick starts in earnest this week with the first of a series of National Event Camps in Brisbane with Australia’s top athletes and coaches joined by some of the sport’s greatest Olympic champions including  Kieren Perkins, Stephanie Rice and Jodie Henry who will be amongst a host of former stars on camp.

Kieren Perkins 1500m freestyle 1992 Barcelona

BARCELONA GOLD: Kieren Perkins won gold in the 1500m freestyle in Barcelona (and Atlanta) and will part of the up-coming National Event Camps. Photo Courtesy: Hanson Media Collection (Russell McPhedran).

The who’s who of coaches, led by National Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren, will be joined by the likes Perkins, Rice, Henry, Bronte Barratt and cycling legend Anna Meares – who between them have won 11 Olympic gold medals – amongst others as the Dolphins look to carry on the success of last year’s World Championships onto the Olympic stage.

It is part of a continued presence of former prestigious Dolphins and sporting alumni who will attend the camps at different stages to share their knowledge and Olympic experiences.

The camps will include Australia’s elite Dolphins group and the “Next Gen” identified in the run up to the 2020 Olympic Trials (Adelaide, June 13-20).

Verhaeren is spearheading his second Olympic campaign in his seventh year in charge of a Dolphins team very much on the move and a coaching reign that comes to an end at the conclusion of this Olympic cycle.

There will be a total of eight camps, with Australia’s best distance swimmers assembling this week with coach Vince Raleigh in Brisbane to kick off the campaign.

Simon Cusack with Jacco

HAPPY CAMPERS: Freestyle sprint coach Simon Cusack and Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren will headline the Campaign Tokyo Camps. Photo Courtesy: Hanson Media.

The large majority of camps will be held in the last week of February with the final camp – the women’s 100m freestyle and relay camp led by Simon Cusack – to begin on March 1.

Since the inception of NECs in the 1990s, the camps have had a long history in high performance swimming in Australia, and returned last year with great success.

Verhaeren said the NEC would provide opportunities for “collaboration, innovation and to sharpen technical focus” with a continued focus on relays – the real success story of the Dolphins 2019 Gwangju World Championships.

The Australians dominated winning four of the seven Olympic relays – with the US winning two and Great Britain one with work on the “Relay project” over the past two years paying enormous dividends on the medal tally, in the record books and in team morale and confidence.

Relays are close to Verhaeren’s heart, with the addition of the Mixed 4x100m medley Relay now increasing the number of Olympic relays to seven – the most ever in Olympic competition – and the athletes certainly bought in with their stunning results showing in Korea.

Olympic relays have come along way since 1956 in Melbourne when Australia won the only two relays contested – the men’s 4x200m freestyle and women’s 4x100m freestyle.

Rare gold came last year in the women’s 4×200 metres freestyle relay which on a World Championship stage for Australia had been almost two decades in the making – and finally for the first time the men’s and women’s 4x200m freestyle relay teams both won gold at the same World Championships.

Emerging from a thrilling five-team battle, the Aussie men received an anchor split of 1:44.85 from Mack Horton to take top honors in 7:00.85, in an Oceania record and enough to keep Russia (7:01.81) and the United States (7:01.98) at bay.

Horton was joined on the winning squad by Clyde Lewis (1:45.58), Kyle Chalmers (1:45.37) and Alexander Graham (1:45.07).

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TOP OF THE WORLD: Australia’s 4x100m freestyle relay golden girls from Gwangju (L-R) Cate Campbell, Brianna Throssell, Bronte Campbell, Emma McKeon. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia (Delly Carr).

The new-look women’s 4 x200m freestyle relay of Ariarne Titmus, Emma McKeon, Brianna Throssell and Madi Wilson set a new world record of 7:42.08 to finally lay to rest China’s 2009 world mark from Rome and the disqualification of the 2001 team.

The women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team of McKeon, Throssell and Bronte and Cate Campbell set a new Championship record of 3:30.21 and;

The newly created Mixed 4 x100m medley relay of McKeon, Mitch Larkin, Matt Wilson and Cate Campbell clocked 3:39.08 with Campbell swimming the quickest split of the meet a sizzling 51.10 – her second fastest split ever.

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BOYS TO MEN: Coaches Craig Jackson, Peter Bishop and Chris Mooney calling the Aussie boys together. Photo Courtesy: Hanson Media.

Verhaeren said: “No one camp is the same and the programs are designed and led by our designated head coaches, which I think is fantastic as it will expose some of the athletes to different training environments as well as collaboration with other athletes from outside their usual training venues.

“Some of the camps will also have a strong focus on relays as our work on the national relay testing program continues to take shape.

“These camps tend to often foster healthy competition and allow athletes to have increased access to event-specific coaching from inside our senior level programs.

“The athletes from our pathway programs will also have the chance to be exposed to senior international training preparation which they will benefit from.

“The camps will be supported by some of the country’s top sports science and sport medicine professionals who will provide support on innovation for both athletes and coaches.”

Some of Australia’s most prominent coaches will lead the camps including: Dean Boxall (St Peters Western), Peter Bishop (Marion), Michael Bohl (Griffith University), Glenn Baker (Southport), Craig Jackson (Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre High Performance Coach), Chris Mooney (University of Sunshine Coast), Vince Raleigh (Brisbane Aquatic Centre High Performance Coach) and Simon Cusack (NSW High Performance Hub Coach).

The head coaches will be supported by assistant coaches as well as a scholarship coach, who will attend the camps as a professional development opportunity.

Six of the camps will take place concurrently in the week 22-29 February including: butterfly and backstroke (Gold Coast) led by Bohl and Baker respectively, the breaststroke camp (Sunshine Coast) led by Mooney, the women’s 200m freestyle and relay camp (Noosa) led by Boxall, and the men’s 100m and 200m freestyle and relay camps (Adelaide) led by Bishop and Jackson, with the final camp – the women’s 100m freestyle and relay (Canberra) – led by Cusack.