The Australian squad didn’t quite have the redemptive Olympics for which it was hoping, leading the coaching staff to already begin discussions on new tactics moving forward.
After a promising start to the Games in the form of the green and gold women dominating the 4×100 freestyle relay night 1 in a new World Record time, the remainder of the competition saw some of Aussies’ biggest stars underperform.
The fastest 100m freestyler in a textile suit just months ago, Cameron McEvoy, came up short in the event, finishing 6th overall in a time over a second behind his recent personal best. He also missed reaching the 50m freestyle final all together.
Although true to form on their relay legs through the Games, the Campbell sisters, Bronte and Cate, performed well beneath expectations individually, scoring out of the medal mix across both sprint events. Backstroker Emily Seebohm, who carried a streak of international wins in both the 100m and 200m distances headed into Rio, was a non-factor in the 100m final and missed even making the final race in the longer event.
With Mack Horton‘s gold in the 400m freestyle event, Kyle Chalmers‘ outstanding performance in the men’s 100m freestyle race for gold, and Emma McKeon‘s solid bronze in the women’s 200m freestyle behind freestyle aces Katie Ledecky (USA) and Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), not all was doom and gloom.
But, with just 10 medals overall to America’s astounding 33, Swimming Australia is wasting no time pondering changes to be implemented over the next quadrennial. Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren to The Courier Mail, “We will debrief with the team, debrief with the individuals, look at plans and start planning for the next four years.”
“I think most importantly we look at four-year cycle as opposed to trying to be at our very best next year. I think the ship is moving in the right direction but it hasn’t left the harbour yet.”
Among possible ideas on the table is the notion of pre-selecting international teams as opposed to relying on just one selection trials meet.
Says Verhaeren, “There is definitely going to be something in place for that to avoid peak performance too often. If I’ve seen anything, maybe after 2012 the team felt we have a point to prove in 2013, in 2014, in 2015 and here. There has been almost no recovery or time to breathe.”
“We need to start thinking in four-year cycles, especially with the arrived athletes. I can’t reveal the whole thing yet because it’s still on the table. It is all to do with longevity of athletes, not pushing them to the limit every year. You can peak perform every year but the approach can be a little bit different.”
Whatever the changes and new steps to be taken moving forward, Verhaeren is slated to be at the helm. In December, Swimming Australia announced the Dutchman’s contract was extended through the next Olympic cycle ending 2020. That means any changes implemented under Verhaeren’s reign will be tested at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest, the 2019 World Championships in South Korea and the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific Championships in 2018, before 2020 Tokyo.
Australia Final Medal Table