SwimmingAppetizing Menu For Australia's Dolphins As Head Coach Rohan Taylor Sets The...

Appetizing Menu For Australia’s Dolphins As Head Coach Rohan Taylor Sets The Table For Paris 2024

Appetizing Menu For Dolphins As Head Coach Rohan Taylor Sets The Table For Paris

Australia will hold an Australian Championships and Selection Trials like no other when the cream of the Tokyo Olympic Team converge on Adelaide this week for the five-day National Championships – with a notable exception – Emma McKeon.

COMMONWEALTH GAMES WILD CARD: Emma McKeon rewarded for Tokyo medals with a wild card entry into Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

The SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre has become the home of the Australian Championships in recent times – in the home of Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers and now the home of a host of fellow internationals who have converged on South Australian capital.

The meet will act as the Selection Trials for the two main events of the year – the FINA World Championships in Budapest (June 18-July 3) and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham (July 28-August 8).

In past eras – especially in the Don Talbot time as National Head Coach in the 1990s and 2000s – the message was clear to prospective team members – it was swim the Trials or miss the team.

But times have changed and even current head coach Rohan Taylor knows his decision to give his stars some leniency in 2022 – will judged on success in Paris 2024.

The 2022 Australian Championship meet of difference will see seven-time Tokyo medallist McKeon by-pass Adelaide and the World Championships – accepting the offer from Swimming Australia for wildcard entries straight through to Birmingham in her Tokyo medal events – the 50 and 100m freestyle and the 100m butterfly.

The other individual medallists, Chalmers (Silver 100m freestyle), Kaylee McKeown (Gold 100 and 200m backstroke), Ariarne Titmus (Gold 200, 400 freestyle and silver 800m freestyle) and Zac Stubblety-Cook (Gold 200m breaststroke) and Brendon Smith (bronze 400IM)  will all race in Adelaide but will be afforded the same wild card rewards.

kyle chalmers - Swimming Australia

KYLE ON THE FLY: Freestyle champion Kyle Chalmers will swap freestyle for butterfly at Aussie Championships. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr/Swimming Australia.

And while Chalmers remains the major drawcard in his home town, he won’t be swimming his main events the 100 and 200m freestyle – instead he will swim both the 50 and 100m butterfly.

Titmus won’t race the 800m freestyle at the Trials, instead adding the 100m freestyle to her Olympic events the 200 and 400m freestyle – with her sights also set on the 4x100m freestyle relay – as she targets the Commonwealth Games.

While McKeown – who will lap up as much competition at home and abroad as she can – will be front and centre at the Trials in the 100 and 200m backstroke and the 200 and 400IMs.

For Dolphins Head Coach Taylor, coming off a successful Tokyo campaign, will allow him to strategize a protection act around his heavy hitters with the main game in Paris 2024, just two years away.

“World’s will be a good snap shot of where we are at off the back of Tokyo (without four of our best swimmers) – we understand what a successful Olympics looks like for us and we know we have to invest significantly in the competition experience and also the other aspects of what we’ve been doing,” said Taylor today on his arrival into Adelaide.

“We have always been in a strong position (at major meets) – now it’s just about converting on the day – for everybody.

Arnie Tokyo fist pump

CHANGE MAKER: Ariarne Titmus will swap the 800m for a tilt at the 100m freestyle in Adelaide. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

“As an example – taking four girls – Cate and Bronte Campbell (on a break) Emma McKeon and Ariarne Titmus (both Commonwealth Games only) out of the team (for Budapest) means we have to take the opportunity to evolve and develop.

“A chance for the next group to show their wares and when we get those guys back into the team we are going to be a stronger unit for that.”

Taylor knows that McKeon – the seven time Olympic medallist – three individual – and four relays is the MVP of the Dolphins outfit – the Michael Phelps of his team.

“Emma leaves a hole – there is no doubt about that but (you know what) I think we have the depth to cover her off,” said Taylor.

“The World’s for me is about regaining that momentum and re-starting that momentum as we build towards Paris – having some younger ones take opportunities.

“Having them get the experience and with the Commonwealth Games being in Europe it’s about setting the table and giving that Paris feel to the team.

“We will be staging in Chartres (80kms out of Paris) where we will be staging before Paris and that’s where we will be before Birmingham too – we will do a lot of themes around gaining exposure for our athletes – it’s about rehearsing, experiencing what that prep’s all about.

“We are losing Emma and both Cate and Bronte Campbell from our relays and in most countries you lose those three and you would be struggling.

“But for us you are going to have a group of females who will be given an opportunity to make their mark…and to test the depth…we’ll be tested in our depth…which will be good….”

And that Australian depth will be unleashed on night one of these Australian Championships (to be televised globally LIVE on Amazon Prime) with the women’s 100m freestyle a tantalizing opener. 

It has been an event largely dominated by seven-time National champion and former world record holder Cate Campbell until last year when McKeon asserted her dominance and took the top spot, going on to become one of the Tokyo golden girls and the Olympic champion in this event.

With Cate and sister Bronte on a break and McKeon earning those wild cards into the Commonwealth Games, it leaves the door wide open for new contenders to win this blue ribband event and secure spots on the World’s and Comm. Games teams.

There is no doubt the girls to watch include fifth fastest Australian of all time and two-time Olympian Madison Wilson (Marion, SA; Coach Peter Bishop) who has posted a 53.68 (NSW State Open) this season.

Mollie OCallaghan, Tokyo 2020 Olympics Official Portrait , Cairns Australia, July 6-9 2021. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. Photo by Delly Carr. Pic Credit MANDATORY for complimentary usage. Thank you.

ALL GO FOR MOLLIE O: No stopping Australia’s rising star Mollie O’Callaghan.  Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

St Peters Western, under coach Dean Boxall, will have a strong presence in this 100m freestyle with Titmus, skipping the 800m, replacing it with the 100 as well as her Tokyo gold medal events the 200 and 400m freestyle at this meet.

Dual Olympic relay golden girl and the stand-out Tokyo discovery, Mollie O’Callaghan emerged from her post Olympic slumber at the 2021 McDonald’s Queensland Championships last December.

Like so many of her team mates – swimming a whopping 12 open and age individual events and three relays – a total of 27 races in seven days –winning a remarkable 14 gold and one bronze medal – and she will be ripe for this meet.

Wins in the open 100 and 200m freestyle where she lowered the colours of a fired up Shayna Jack and Olympic champion Titmus – two timely reminders to her St Peters Western training partners that Mollie O is all Go!

And she squeezed in both the Open and Age 100m backstroke after the 200m free win – events she will swim this week along with the 50m freestyle.

Jack, despite those two years out of the water, fighting a positive test for a banned substance back in 2019, has already shown she means business, posting a 100m freestyle time of 53.13 (NSW State Open) ranking her the fastest in the world this season.

Then there is former St Peters girl, Relay gold medallist (4x100m freestyle) from Tokyo Meg Harris who has made the move to Marion, SA and Coach Peter Bishop).

Harris too is looking in form after making the move to South Australia to train with Bishop, recovering from a broken hand earlier in the season. Two-time Olympian Leah Neale (Chandler; Coach Vince Raleigh) and Brianna Throssell (USC Spartans; Coach Mick Palfrey) will also be ones to watch as will youngster Milla Jansen (Bond Swim Club; Coach Chris Mooney) and 33-year-old Holly Barratt (Rockingham, WA).

A Tantalizing appetizer indeed…..

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