Swimming Australia Reveals Backup Plans and Insurance Swims for Olympic Trials

Rohan Taylor and Alex Baumann SMALL
ALL BASES COVERED: Swimming Australia's High Performance Strategist Alex Baumann (right) with Head Coach Rohan Taylor at the National Event Camp. Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Swimming Australia Reveals Backup Plans and Insurance Swims for Olympic Trials

Swimming Australia (SAL) has today announced a range of scenarios if a COVID lockdown and border closures disrupts its June Olympic Trials in Adelaide.

Regardless, it will almost certainly see the Western Australian Tokyo hopefuls take no risks and they are looking to relocate to Queensland with the policy also highlighting provision for an “extenuating circumstances” clause to help protect the likes of injured world champion Ariarne Titmus.

High Performance Strategist, two-time Olympic champion and former Queensland Swimming and QAS boss Alex Baumann, outlined the options, after discussions with the Australian Olympic Committee, Swimming’s High Performance Committee, the SAL Board, the athlete leaders and coaches.

Dean Boxall and Alex Baumann 2

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Alex Baumann and Dean Boxall pondering their options. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

The scenarios will ensure that Australia’s prospective Olympians will treat next month’s Australian Swimming Championships on the Gold Coast (April 14-18) as a “mini Trials” – looking to lock in insurance swims they just might need in a lockdown.

“The first scenario is that Trials goes ahead and we can nominate the team as per original criteria on June 17,” said Baumann, who has been developing the scenarios for the past month-and-a-half.

“The second scenario is that Trials go ahead but we have some restrictions in States and some athletes can’t actually get (to Adelaide).

“In that instance we have announced a number of primary competitions, (Designated Consideration Meets), where athletes can also qualify, being the Australian Swimming Championships on the Gold Coast (14-18 April) and the Sydney Open (13-16 May).

“In all those scenarios the qualifying standard (remains) as the top eight in the world (at 2019 World Championships).

“The third scenario is we don’t have any Trials and if the Australian Swimming Championships and the Sydney Open are also cancelled we will (rely on a series of) Secondary Consideration Meets. (which include Australia’s various State Championships).

“The standard would be the ‘Fina A’ standard which is slightly slower than the top eight times which would be (closer to) top 12 or 14 although some are much the same.

“We hope we don’t have to go to scenario two or scenario three but we have to plan for it and it has been on the drawing board for a month-and-half now.”

WA Connection Set For Gold Coast Relocation

Team Australia celebrates after winning in the women's 4x200m Freestyle Relay Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 25 July 2019.

GOLD COAST BOUND: Brianna Throssell (left), Ariarne Titmus and Madison Wilson congratulate Emma McKeon after she delivers 4x200m gold in world-record time in Gwangju – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer.

Baumann also revealed that “six or seven” of WA’s leading hopes which would include Rio Olympians, world championship relay gold medallist Brianna Throssell and medley specialist Blair Evans, would almost certainly re-locate to training venues in South East Queensland.

“There are discussions  to move the WA swimmers to Queensland prior to the Australian Open in April.

“It will probably be the Gold Coast and we are working with WAIS who are supporting that move as well,” said Baumann, admitting that the Australian Open Championships were going to be very important.

“One of our top priorities over the next five months is to provide appropriate competition for our athletes.

“We can’t simulate the Olympics but a pressure kind of situation like the Australian Championships on the Gold Coast we wanted to make sure that athletes knew well in advance.

“We talked about it at the National Event Camp and so they can prepare appropriately. There’s challenges but ultimately we want them to perform at the Trials in June.

“It would be ideal for all to attend the Trials, to simulate that pressure to perform…when it matters for nomination to the team.

“But they need to put up some times just in case which is not ideal for us.”

Extenuating Circumstances Clause Could Be A Lifesaver for Titmus

Ariarne Titmus AUS, 400m Freestyle Final, 18th FINA World Swimming Championships 2019, 21 July 2019, Gwanju South Korea. Pic by Delly Carr/Swimming Australia. Pic credit requested and mandatory for free editorial usage. THANK YOU.

CLAUSE TO SMILE: Ariarne Titmus could be saved by the Extenuating Circumstances Clause. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Asked “if a star swimmer like, reigning world champion, Ariarne Titmus, who is in re-hab for a shoulder problem, which ruled her out of last month’s National Event Camp could not put a time up in April and there are no Trials in June, what would happen?

 

Baumann said there was the capacity within the selection criteria for extenuating circumstances.

“We have enough scope there within extenuating circumstances….and we also have some flexibility in being able to select 12 relay spots, (remembering) if you select a relay swimmer they have to swim that event,” said Baumann.

It was the relay clause that saved Olympic champion Mack Horton at the 2019 World’s Trials after he missed the qualifying time – but saw him win silver in the 400m and spearhead the Dolphins to a long-awaited World Championship gold inn the 4x200m freestyle relay.

One Team Travel To Tokyo The Preference Says Baumann

TEAM SHOT

ONE TEAM TRAVEL: Swimming Australia bosses want the Dolphins in the same travel pool. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Baumann said it was also the team’s preference to travel in and out of Tokyo as one team.

“Our recommendation and we have been discussing this with Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman from the AOC is that we all go in together,” said Baumann.

“That’s our preference; we have been pushing for that very hard; but sometimes it’s left up to the hosting Organisation.”

Baumann also revealed that once selected they would look to get the team into Queensland – either into the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast or Townsville, before they go into Cairns for a two-week Staging Camp before going directly to Tokyo, cancelling its previous pre-Games camp in Nagaoka.

Cashing in on the 2032 Olympics

Baumann also talked up the opportunities that would arise with the Brisbane (SE Qld) bid for the 2032 Olympics.

“We have 11 years instead of the traditional seven years of past Games to get ready and we have to work out how (best) you raise the profile of the sport,” said Baumann.

“We have not hosted an international competition for a long time and this gives us the opportunity to do that and through the Queensland Government it gives us some opportunities.

“It’s a great opportunity moving forward, with the Pan Pacs possibly although Canada has the next one and with the Worlds…..a year before the Games (would be ideal) and we discussed this with the SAL Board on how we take advantage of the opportunity of having 2032 in our backyard.

“I was CEO of Swimming Queensland in 1999 and the impact of Sydney was incredible.

“The numbers in terms of participation went up 15 percent after Sydney and (you look at) how you grow that in terms of membership.

“I am looking at it from a performance point of view and what we have to look at is what competitions would help us perform as we moved towards 2032.”

Michael_Klim_2000

LANDMARK LEGACY: Chris Fydler, Ashley Callus, Michael Klim and tan Thorpe, Australia’s gold-medal winning 4x100m freestyle relay team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics….certainly left their mark. Photo Courtesy Jeff Crow (Sport The Library).

 

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