Australian Coach Jacco Verhaeren Reacts to Night 1 of Olympic Finals

Team Australia kicked off the 2016 Olympic Games in record fashion yesterday on the first day of competition of the 31st Modern Olympiad.  In the pool the Aussies took home 2 gold medals; one in the men’s 400 meter freestyle where up-and-comer Mack Horton dethroned 2012 Olympic champion and reigning world champion Sun Yang of China.  After the two exchanged barbs in the lead-up to the race, the stage was set for an epic showdown, and neither disappointed.  While Horton was well off of Yang’s Olympic record of 3:40.14 from 2012, he still managed to get to the wall 0.13 ahead of the towering Sun Yang.

Verhaeren comments that he, like the rest of us, was screaming at the TV while watching the men’s 400 meter freestyle.  Verhaeren attributes much of Horton’s success to the experience he earned last summer in Kazan, where he did not even make the finals because he swam too easy during the heats.  Horton did not do that this time, positioning himself in the middle of the pool.

Australia’s other gold medal, along with a new world record, came in the women’s 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay.  Though the Americans had the lead for the first 200 meters, Bronte Campbell made up the deficit and inched ahead of Dana Vollmer on the third leg of the race.  Twin sister Cate went into the water, followed closely by American distance queen Katie Ledecky.  Though Ledecky split an impressing 52.7, it was not nearly enough to catch the recent world record holder in the 100 freestyle.  Campbell increased the lead immediately and never looked back.  The Australians finished in 3:30.65, a new Olympic and world record.  Team USA was 2nd in 3:31.89.  Verhaeren believed all along that the Aussie women could take down their own world record in the relay if they remained calm and focused.

While gold medals and world records are certainly things to get excited about, Verhaeren also says that he wants the Dolphins to stay focused and “only celebrate on day 9” when the meet is over.  There is a lot more swimming yet to come in these Rio Olympics, and Team Australia has both men and women that are the favorites in a multitude of other races.



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4 years ago

“Verhaeren believed all along that the Aussie women could take down their own world record in the relay if they remained calm and focused.” That is the major component of relay race and that is exactly that hasn’t happened. And you know why? Because of calmed, focused and determined American team swimming next to them.

Reply to  Prickle
4 years ago

They really rattled the Australians didn’t they? I mean, the Aussies could only manage to win the race and break the WR. I’m sure they’re very disappointed.

Reply to  StraightArm
4 years ago

Dear Straightarm, I just commented on what Australian coach said. If Australian team was strongly instructed not to fool around and do the job they came for in Rio, then they did what was required – not only winning gold medal but doing that in world record time. But with all this said you may notice some concern in the voice of Verhaeren. Something that wasn’t done to the expected level brothers this coach. That’s it. I simply made some suggestions what it could possibly be. It can be all wrong -I don’t have the inside information of the reason of McKeon’s relatively slow time or Cate Campbell’s strange and most of all unusual splits. Has she just slow done… Read more »

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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