Sister Skins: Cate Campbell In A Pincer With Sprint Sibling Bronte Roaring To Go For London

Cate Campbell on a Roar Photo Courtesy: ISLcatecampbelllondonroar
Cate Campbell ready to Roar Photo Courtesy: ISL

Sister Skins: Cate and Bronte Campbell 

Swimming World catches up with Cate Campbell on her League Debut in Dallas (Lewisville)

Aussie London Roar spearhead Cate Campbell is both looking forward to and dreading the sprint Skins in Lewisville later today after helping her team take a solid lead over LA Current on the first day of Match 3 of the International Swimming League.

Australia has been racing Skins for the best part of two decades, so they should know how to do it by now. They’ll also know the sting in the tale of sprinters being asked to endure three dashes of two knockouts and a showdown in a short space of time.

Do you consider yourself among the lucky few who get to do them and pick up the triple points that come with Skins or are you dreading them a little bit?

Laughter precedes:

“A little bit of both. I think the Skins event is definitely the blue ribbon event, it’s the pet event, that everyone wants to watch. It’s most exciting. It’s so cutthroat. And yes, I feel quite honoured to be a part of it, and it’s very exciting. I watched a couple of the other Skins event and know that it’s going to be very tough, especially hopefully, as you progressed through the rounds. But it makes for great entertainment. And I think that you saw that both with the people in the crowd, so of the spectators at the event, but then also translates really well to TV.”

Cate Campbell abd Bronte Campbell Swimming World

Bronte, left, and Cate Campbell. Photo Courtesy of Swimming Australia

It could be Sister Skins, what with sprint sibling Bronte Campbell in the next lane. A pincer is better than one, says Cate. In the first two League matches, Sarah Sjostrom took the crown with Energy mate Femke Heemskerk making it a Standard sweep. The Campbell are coming. Says Cate:

“Hopefully one of us will be able to break that up, or maybe both of us just shimmy them out.”

In the Skins today, the Campbells’ big rivals are Dutch double Olympic sprint champion of 2012 Ranomi Kromowidjojo (Iron), and Olympic 50m champion Pernille Blume (NY Breakers). Says Cate:

“The Skins event is definitely the blue ribbon event, it’s the pet event that everyone wants to watch. It’s so cutthroat. I watched a couple of the other Skins events and know that it’s going to be very tough. But it makes for great entertainment.”

The arrival of the League has made Campbell the elder pause for thought on any plans after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games next year. Love of swimming, racing and the ability to earn a living bring new prospects and perspective – and the Aussie ace says she may stick with the sport a while longer yet.

Campbell has been busy of late on a mission to make this a season of rick pickings.

Swimming World caught up with her as she dashed between meets and prize pots. Here’s the rest of what she had to say:

SW: So many meets – why?

cate campbell

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr/Swimming Australia

CC: “I want to get as much racing practice under my belt as possible. It’s about race training. I have years and years and years of regular training. But I think that something that Australians miss out on quite a lot is being able to race consistently and race against different people and against some of the best people in the world.

“The Europeans get to do it a lot more because they are much closer together and they have European circuits and Mare Nostrum and all of that. The American guys do it, particularly during college, and it teaches you skills, to stand up and race no matter what conditions, it teaches you to win close races, it teaches you to lose close races.

“There are so many skills that I think that Australians miss out on. And so for me, when I saw the opportunity to go and do a lot of racing and and race against people who I will be racing against in Tokyo next year, I really decided to jump at the opportunity.

“Our selection trials are not until June of next year. So we have longer to prepare for that. So when I go back to Australia and have a little bit of time off after Christmas, we get straight back into it and we will be working and working really hard. So I’m aware that I’m having a little bit more fun now. But I will be working very, very hard come January next year.

SW: [Keeping in mind the obvious weakness in depth on World Cup tour…] How important is it to be racing against the best, as opposed to just racing?

CC: “It’s really important to race against different people and against the best people in the world as much as possible.

“And I think that one of my biggest draw cards for ISL was that you have 75 percent of current Olympic or world champions competing in this series. So you know that every time you step behind the blocks, you are going to be racing some quality athletes and people who will be racing next year in Tokyo. So I want to get used to seeing them. I want to get used to looking over next to me and seeing them in the lane next to me. I want to get used to someone who goes out faster than I am, and then I can come back in and swim over the top of them. Just getting used to how they swim their races. Australians don’t really get to do that because we are so far away.

SW: First impressions of the League:


Cate Campbell; Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr/Swimming Australia Ltd.

CC: “I got to see a little bit of it [before Dallas]. And it’s really exciting. It’s different. I think that we are still in in the first phase of it. So I’m sure that there will be progress and changes to it made along the way. But it’s very much geared towards being a spectacle and putting on a show and making it entertaining, which as an athlete is exciting because swimming can be a little bit monotonous and it’s very steeped in tradition and has not really changed or progressed a lot since its infancy, really. So to have someone rethink the way a swim meet looks and feels is a really exciting change for us.

SW: What does the League have to do to become more popular and get noticed in Australia?

CC: I think what it brings to it is an interest in swimming in between Olympic years. As an Olympic sport there’s obviously a lot of hype and a lot of interest around the Olympics. And then that kind of fades in the years in between. It is still quite a popular sport in Australia. But there aren’t readily available competitions that can be broadcast on television. The rights to the world championships were too expensive, so it was not broadcast in Australia. You’re missing out on that opportunity to engage with swimming fans in between Olympic years.

“I think that having consistent meet of high standard high entertainment that can be viewed in between Olympic years is gonna be really important for growing the sport of swimming. I think that having a team aspect to a very individual sport is a really exciting way to engage another group of people so that they can cheer for the London role, they don’t necessarily have to pick their favourite swimmer, they can get involved in a team and feel like they’re a part of the team. They can buy team merchandise and feel like they’re part of that journey with a particular team, which is a very different way of looking at swimming, which has been a very individual sport in the past.”

SW: Given the triple points for skins and the double points for relays that go to 100m only, sprinters are in the spotlight and in vogue … did you have to tell your coach NOT to put you in every possible race – or how are you going to approach that aspect of these matches?

CC: “I think that very much the talk is: you’re there to swim for your team and you’re not there to swim for yourself. So I’m not there to swim really good times myself. I’m there to get good places and good points for my team. So if I can do that and in as many events as possible, then that’s what I’m going to do. And if you’re looking at it from a training perspective, it’s actually really good training for me, it’s a good time of year.´

“I’m obviously sacrificing a little bit of my training to come and race. So the more racing I get to do, it kind of counts as training as well. So, yeah, I’m happy to be in as many as possible. It’s almost nice for us sprinters to have a little bit more of a workload, because I always feel bad when I go to a swimming competition and I swim 50 and 100 freestyle and that’s it. Then you’ve got someone who swims like a 400 IM and the 200 butterfly and I feel like I’m not contributing at all. So it’s nice to me to be able to pull my weight a little bit here.

SW: Thoughts of strategy needed for this meet format?

CC: It’s very much up to the coaches, but they’ve kind of said that relays and skins are pretty much the most important.

“It’s about getting those little placings wherever you can. It’s about beating that person next to you, if you can’t win, then beat the person next to you. They’ve kind of figured out all the tactics. And I’m sure that will change and evolve throughout the competition as well. One of the cool things about this meet is that you can make changes, even in this session. If someone’s swimming really well, you can put them in something else. And if someone’s maybe having a bad beat, you pull them out.

ISL London Roar

Roaring London Roar – a women’s relay win for double points helped win the day in Dallas – Photo Courtesy: ISL

SW: How’s the team spirit coming along?

CC: “It’s been really good. I think everyone getting their team kit and their team gear was a really important part of kind of solidifying our bond. And we have meals together and just sitting around and chatting and meeting people.

“If you don’t know someone, go over and say, hey, I’m Cate, what’s your name? What events do you swim? I think that that’s the other really exciting part of this, you do get to meet people from all around the world, people who you would either not get to meet at all or you would race against, and you can create friendships as well. So it’s also quite a unique part of this idea.”

SW: How has the League influenced your post-Tokyo 2020 thinking?

CC: If I’m enjoying my swimming and there’s opportunities to race and I’m swimming, then I will definitely continue. That’s where something like the ISL comes in. It gives you an opportunity to race, gives you an opportunity to earn some money. I’m in a fortunate position that I do have personal sponsors and I do make a living.

“But where I really think that the ISL excels is that it gives more swimmers an opportunity to earn money. I think even if you look at something like World Cups – they’re a great event and I’ve enjoyed doing them this year immensely – but only a few swimmers get paid to go there. So for other swimmers, if you’re making prize money, you’re hopefully just covering your costs. You don’t actually get to keep that prize money for yourself. So everyone who’s here gets all of their expenses paid. So any money that they do earn that’s theirs to keep. And I think that will incentivise young swimmers to say, oh, hey, look, I can go and I can travel the world and I can maybe earn a little bit of money. Maybe I’ll stay in the sport a little bit longer. Maybe I’ll keep training or maybe I’ll take up swimming. Which for me is is the most exciting part of this.”

SW: [With a nod to the Final Match in Las Vegas on December 20-21]… Ever think that you would be competing in Vegas?

CC: [Giggles]:

“I would have never thought I’d be swimming in Las Vegas. It’s it’s a desert! I didn’t even know there were swimming pools in las Vegas. There are many things that I did not expect when I said I wanted to be an Olympic swimmer. And this is just one of them. And it’s really, really exciting to be part of hopefully the first of many years to come”.

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