The 2016 FINA Short Course World Championships came to a close yesterday, with the nation of Australia scoring 11 medals in total. Finishing behind the US (29 medals) Japan (15) and Russia (13) in the overall table, the green and gold came away from Windsor with 2 golds, 2 silvers and 7 bronze medals over the course of the 7-day affair.
The result is a promising indicator to the Aussies of what’s possible over the next four years, especially considering the fact that both Campbell sisters, sprinter Cameron McEvoy, 200m freestyle Olympic bronze medalist Emma McKeon and 100m freestyle champion Kyle Chalmers were absent from the roster.
Instead of a list of Aussie mainstays and proven medal contenders, the 19-strong Dolphins line-up for worlds was a mixed combination of both major players such as Olympians Mitch Larkin, Emily Seebohm and Brittany Elmslie, as well as fresh rookies making their debuts.
Overall, the spectrum of talent served the Aussies well, according to Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren. “It’s great to see the mix of experience and the rookies and all of them performed well. They stepped up, which was needed to progress from heats to semi-finals and finals at this meet.
“There were some great performances with medals but coming away with personal best times, whether that’s with relays or in the individual swims is always good.”
Kiah Melverton, for example, landed her first major international senior roster and raced her way to a bronze medal in the women’s 800m freestyle. Rookie David Morgan also got the job done in his butterfly events, nabbing bronze in both the 50m and 100m butterfly events, the former of which Australia hasn’t seen a medal since Adam Pine’s gold in 2008.
Conversely, veteran and 2012 Olympian Tommaso D’Orsogna wound up on the podium in the men’s 100m freestyle, claiming a bronze against a stacked field. The 25-year-old previously earned silver in that same event at the 2012 version of the meet. Brittany Elmslie, a member of Australia’s gold medal-winning women’s 4x100m freestyle relay from Rio threw down the quickest women’s 100m freestyle in Windsor to snatch the Australians’ first gold in that event since Libby Lenton in 2006.
The mix of new and seasoned talent was also put to the test in the form of relays, where the women’s 4×100 medley squad and men’s 4×100 freestyle each earned bronze. The men’s 4×100 medley relay was clinched bronze by way of an American disqualification that rendered them out of first place.
“What really excites me is that we have good depth in the program; we know that some Olympians and rightfully so pulled off this team. But by doing that they have given other people an opportunity,” continues Verhaeren.
“Those that get the opportunity and take on that challenge, like they have done over the last week, we have to be happy with that. I thought our relays were exceptional. Very good; great performances.”
Looking ahead, Verhaeren states, “It’s a great start to the next four years. I always consider this as the first international meet of the new Olympic cycle; I’d say the tone is set and that is great.
“When you go to a world championship it is about performing to the best of your abilities and making medals as a result of that. Nothing can beat gold that is always good.”