Jacco Verhaeren Analyzes His Australian Swim Team At World Championships (SW Radio)

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The Australian swim team left the FINA world championships in Kazan, Russia, with 16 total medals. Seven of them were gold, including wins in the 100 and 200 backstrokes from Mitch Larkin and Emily Seebohm, and a sweep of the sprint freestyles by Bronte Campbell.

The national team head coach, Jacco Verhaeren, wasn’t consumed by the number of medals won or what rank the Australians took in the overall medal count. It was the times on the scoreboard and each athlete’s progressions that mattered most to him.

“This sport is not about medal tallies,” Verhaeren said. “This sport is about individuals that work really hard for their performances. The danger of medal tallies is that great performances disappear in a supposed fight between countries. And that fight doesn’t exist.”

Listen To Interview On Swimming World Radio

Verhaeren is approaching his two-year anniversary as the Australian head coach, and the program continues to grow. He travels across Australia on a regular basis to check in with coaches and athletes, and the attention to detail showed in Kazan with a large number of athletes posting times that put them on notice for next year’s Olympics.

“I always feel you can only measure the strength of a team (when it is) under pressure,” Verhaeren said. “I think this team in many ways … succeeded very well in that. It’s always good if you see things that you can improve upon.”

Larkin and Bronte Campbell were just two Australians who had major breakthrough performances, and Verhaeren said the potential for Bronte Campbell to succeed on the world stage had always been there, and sets Australia up for its best showing in the 100 freestyle in history – if Bronte and big sister Cate can both get on the medal stand in Rio de Janeiro.

“It’s just phenomenal for a country to have such classy and exciting girls who can perform on this level,” Verhaeren said. “We could see (Bronte’s) performance coming, but you don’t know where that leaves you on the podium.”

As for Larkin, he’s been showing the kind of improvement that suggested that 2015 would be the perfect year for his breakout swims in the backstroke events. Being guided by the man who led Stephanie Rice to glory at the 2008 Olympics has certainly helped.

“He (Larkin) is in a great program with Michael Bohl, who knows how to make champions,” Verhaeren said. “He’s an incredible hard and honest worker.”

2 Comments

2 comments

  1. avatar

    Are the Aussies first nation to have same man/woman sweep 100-200 backstrokes @ same Worlds? Think so but no se 4 sure.

  2. avatar
    commonwombat

    Jaco is a cool-headed realist and one hopes his message fully percolates through to all swimmers & coaches who may be tempted to be carried away with their Kazan showing.

    The men’s program is still seriously weak with the show saved somewhat by the performances of Larkin & to a lesser degree McEvoy. Packard’s advance on BRS is pleasing but there are still many gaping holes that will not be filled by Rio.

    The women continue to be the lynch-pin although the post-Jones Breaststroke hole remains unfilled & butterfly sans Coutts & medley remain suspect. Ashwood’s advance may potentially fill a long-term gap in distance FS.

    The number of Kazan golds probably exceeded expectations but on analysis, there’s probably only one of those events where they stand in a position of clear dominance; that being the W4X100.

    Seebohm (particularly the 100) & Larkin could be viewed as likely favourites at this point but neither could be seen as “locks” for gold. Likewise with Campbell MkII; she should most certainly be around the medals in both sprint FS (ditto big sister); but these races also have the like of Sjostrom very much in the picture.

    Most of their Olympic event medals look quite strong medal contenders with the potential exception of M4X200, Ashwood (W400) & both MXMED fielding some seriously weak legs.

    I would expect significantly less gold in Rio than Kazan. Possibly more than the single from London but no certainty. Total, probably around 10-11 which is line with London which was NOT the disaster painted in some AUS media circles but merely a “return to normal service” after the years of plenty have passed.

Author: Jeff Commings

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Jeff Commings is the Senior Writer for SwimmingWorld.com and Swimming World Magazine. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and was a nine-time NCAA All-American.

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