The Australian team will remain in Nagaoka, about 250km (155 miles) north of Tokyo, for the rest of the week before travelling to Gwangju next Tuesday. Pool racing begins at the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships begins on July 21st.
This year is a crucial step in the pre-Olympic regiment for Australia. They camped there before the Pan Pacific Championships, and will do the same before the Olympic Games next year, so this year is their last chance to perfect their Olympic routine before the big show begins next summer.
Preparing to race isn’t the team’s only goal in Nagaoka, however, according to Verhaeren.
“Everywhere we go as the Dolphins team, and while we are here in Nagaoka, we are trying to promote the sport of swimming,” he said of the team’s mission. “This Saturday we will hold a clinic with some of the young children in Nagaoka and we are definitely looking forward to that.
“Sharing the passion for the sport is one of our jobs,” he concluded.
For Bronte Campbell, who won 3 World Championships in 2015, this is her first time in Nagaoka: she wasn’t a member of Australia’s team at the 2018 Pan Pacs.
“This is my first time in Nagaoka, we had a very enthusiastic welcome on arrival yesterday and I feel very very welcome to the town,” she said. “I love it here – the people have been so lovely and the facilities here are fantastic and I feel right at home already.” She also joked that they had already found a good spot for coffee and soba: a dish made with Japanese buckwheat noodles.
Wilson said that he thought the industrialcity of 271,000 citizens was a good choice for the camp.
“It is quite different from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo; here in Nagaoka it is quite relaxed which I think is good leading into the world championships,” he said.