REVEALED: Aussie coach Doug Frost’s Olympic Relay Plan That Sank The US On A Dramatic Opening Day In Sydney

Doug and ian KEEPER
DYNAMIC DUO: Coach Doug Frost with star pupil Ian Thorpe, a lethal combination.Photo Courtesy: Sport The Library.

REVEALED: Aussie coach Doug Frost’s Olympic Relay Plan That Sank The US On A Dramatic Opening Day In Sydney

The year 2000 was a dream come true for Australia with Sydney hosting its country’s second Olympics – some 44 years after the joys of Melbourne in 1956.

Two Olympic Games that shaped the swimming mad country as a leader in the ideals of Olympism from its spirit to its passion and the coming together of the youth of the world to the community involvement of a special band of volunteers and the unveiling of its past and present sporting heroes.

For one young man it would be the celebration of a swimming career born in Padstow in Sydney’s inner west when an eight-year-old boy followed his sister into a suburban five-lane 25m indoor pool that was Padstow Indoor.

It was a moment that would change his life and the life of his coach forever.

Sydney 2000 Day One at the Sydney International Aquatic Centre – Enter 17-year-old swimmer Ian Thorpe and his coach Doug Frost – the lethal combination that would stamp their sporting greatness on the nation and the world on an opening night in Sydney that brought the house down.

Doug and Ian on deck (23)

PLAN THAT CREATED HISTORY: Doug Frost the man who plotted the American downfall with star pupil and anchor man Ian Thorpe. Photo Courtesy: Sport There Library.

Frost now lives in Mollymook on the NSW South Coast where at 77 years young the coach who was voted the World Swim Coaches Coach of the last Millenium, now lives in semi-retirement, with his best mate Bonza the Labrador, while still working on his golfing handicap.

Doug till keeps his coaching hand in too when asked to step in at Camps in Queensland and NSW and with former NSW coach Gary Hollywood in New Zealand.

Here he reveals the secret planning and plotting behind the success of what many believe was the greatest highlight of the Games – when Australia beat the USA – “smashing ‘em like guitars” in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

“We had four boys in Ashley Callus, Michael Klim, Chris Fydler and Ian who could go 48 or 47…in that 4×100…to win that…was one of the greatest success stories we had at those Olympics,” recalled Frost.

“That was just incredible…I remember Ian ripping his costume and going down there (to see what was going on).”

Thorpe had put his foot through his suit, ripping it, forcing him to put on the same suit he had won the 400m in – and it was wet – and the struggle to get that suit on saw him only just make it to the race on time.

But it was the lead up to the relay that also had it’s fair share of twists and turns and a decision that changed history.

“Don Talbot said to me in the lead up to the Games that ”Gennadi Touretsky (who sadly passed away last month) would be taking over as the 4x200m relay coach and I said ‘What are you talking about…? I’ve had the 4x200m the last three major championships….on every team…that’s my team….” recalled Frost.

Talbot told Frost that Gennadi had approached him and he wanted to handle the 4×200 freestyle squad and he had agreed…I eventually said, well ok…. do I get a team?

“And he said you’ve got the 4×100 boys…and immediately I thought to myself privately ‘we can win the 4x100m anyway’ and I went about plotting the down fall of the Americans. They were the team to beat.

“So I looked at it and did some research and had a look at all the times by the American boys; they were the ones we’re going to have to beat and so I did some assessments.

“All their first 50m splits were out of this world; and I said to the boys there is no way you can match that…and said if you think you are going to win this thing in the first 50m in any of the splits, it doesn’t matter what leg it is…you are mistaken.

“And so what happens Klimmy goes out and breaks the world record…48.12 in the opening leg…wow!! I said ‘OK we can live with that…’

“But besides that I had emphasised to them “you won’t win it in the first 50. But if you can grit it out I reckon we can haul them in when we get to the 100m on the splits.

SYD 2000 4x100m free on podium

SMASHED EM: Australia’s victorious 4x100m freestylers, Chris Fydler, Ian Thorpe, Ashley Callus and Michael Klim. Photo Courtesy: Sport The Library.

“Anyway that’s what happened.. Chris Fydler and Ashley Callus carried out the plan to a tee and we saw Thorpie swim over the top of Gary Hall Jnr to win the gold.

“When Ian dived in I gave him a chance…even though Hall swam past him and he was a length and a half behind. But I gave him a chance…because I knew all the previous swimmers had gone out like a bull-at-a-gate….and they were coming back and really telling…

“We spoke regularly about the opportunities….there was always a good chance we could get them in the back end….and that’s what I said to Ian at the time…we talked about that….that’s what we talked about….And when I saw the boys after the race I was beside myself…beside myself….and why wouldn’t I be…?

“Chris Fydler came to me and said I’ve just broken a seven-year drought….that’s my first PB in seven years….and I still remember him saying that to me after the race…”

TOMORROW: The making of Ian Thorpe


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  2. Rich Davis

    The best 4×100 race ever, until 2008. ❤️

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    John Downes

    I know you as a brother Frosty and this put a smile on my face that lasted at least 15 minutes.
    Keep well old mate I’ll catch up for a real good chat next week 😎

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