Seebohm Reflects On Lackluster Rio, Not Yet Committed To Tokyo 2020

Although while competing in Rio at the 2016 Olympic Games the nation of Australia beat its in-pool performance from 2012 London, there were still individual disappointments that led to an overall vibe of underperformance when it came to the Aussies’ medal count. The nation was carrying three double World Champions into Rio, but among them, just one individual medal was claimed, a silver by backstroker Mitch Larkin.

Emily Seebohm won both the women’s 100m and 200m backstroke events in Kazan at the 2015 World Championships and followed her performances up with a remarkable run of sub-59-second 100m back outings throughout the 2015-16 World Cup Series. However, in Rio, Seebohm would come away empty-handed individually, scoring a 7th place finish in the 100m event while failing to make the final in the 200m race.

“If I’m being honest, I think the pressure did get to me,” 24-year-old Seebohm tells ESPN in her final exclusive post-Olympic column. “I gave it my all and I guess I can’t be too disappointed with myself, but it was tough not achieving my goals.”

After having earned 100m backstroke silver behind Missy Franklin at the 2012 Olympics, Seebohm was more determined than ever to prove her talent on the world’s biggest stage come 2016. However, Seebohm’s racing strategy didn’t quite play out how the swimmer envisioned once in the water battling it out against would-be winner Katinka Hosszu of Hungary.

“In the 100m backstroke final, I wanted it so badly and I put so much pressure on myself to take home gold. I just tried too hard. I overdid the race, whereas when I swim at my best, I’m confident and in control.”

She describes how, “Tactically, I put in too much effort too soon. When I race at my best, I go out easier and come home stronger so tactically, it wasn’t what I would have liked. I thought I had to do more than what I probably needed to do at the time. In lane 1, I didn’t know where the pack was. It was so hard and I wanted it so badly, and I sacrificed not sticking to my race plan because I wanted it so much.”

Now more than two months removed from the experience, the Brisbane Grammar swimmer is weighing her future options, both in the pool and out. The avid horse rider says, “I’ve got plenty on to keep me busy and focused in the short-term, but I’m not 100 percent sure that I’ll get to the Tokyo Games in 2020. I’m committed for the next two years but from there I’ll see how I feel and how my body is feeling.”

“I’m not sure I’d be able to commit for another four just yet,” Seebohm says.

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3 years ago

If she realised all this after her 100m back – “too much effort too soon ” – why didn’t she then remedy it in the 200 or medley relay?

Reply to  John
3 years ago

Looking at it all only after it was all over it is fact that the Australian team performed poorly . That is the word ‘ performed’ . We’ve all done that but it is noticeable that it was across the whole spectrum including some 3 x Olympians . There were 2 exceptions – Kyle Chalmers & Tamsin Cook who did pbs .These 2 are the youngest & most isolated of all the swimmers which means they probably escaped what goes for ‘psycholology’ preps . Probably some female who went on about ‘caring ” & ‘ life path’ & this feelings stuff. Anyhow life went on – we are poat sport& post politics & just cruising . I suggest most of… Read more »

Cynthia mae Curran
Reply to  G.I.N.A
3 years ago

Well, they don’t have nerves of steel like Dawn Fraser who won her 3rd 100 meter freestyle in 1964 after her mother died. There is an Australian movie called Dawn on you tube that talks about this.

Reply to  John
3 years ago

Whilst what she has said is true with regards to her mental approach to this race, one suspects she’s not yet willing to confront the REAL issue that landed her in that situation ….. and no, it is not the relationship with Mitch Larkin. Rather the legacy of her (enforced) coach change in mid 2015. Her 2015 results were the legacy of the “work” she had done under Matt Brown but the level of work done under Brown was not replicated under the new regime. The signs were actually there for all to see during the AUS season and at AUS Trials where her times were good but not at her 2015 levels. People assumed that she was just “not… Read more »

Reply to  commonwombat
3 years ago

Yeah well you can do 40 x individual reasons but take away Tamsin & Kyle . They hit it outta depark . Even though Tamsin was terrified being put up against Ledecky as anchor – she did a pb . In fact if the other3 had done their job they could have won. Kyle also performed well in relays .That is the over riding thing imo – if you cannot ‘lift’ in a relay then your mind is not where it should be.

Anyhow guys keep your pretty heads low . We really don’t need apologies or explanations . The football season has just finished & only the tragics are stiltalking about it .l

Alex Simmonds
Reply to  G.I.N.A
3 years ago

Nah, if you put the ” what if ” card, lets see what if missy put 1.55 mid, leah smith put 1.55 split and ledecky put a time faster than her individual 200 time. They will still won

Brad Cooper
Reply to  Alex Simmonds
3 years ago

Seebohm’s normally too experienced to mis-pace. If she was underprepared as CW suggests, the pacing problem may have been a failure to acknowledge this. But with a tank half full, pacing won’t get you there anyway. It’s also possible the circumstances of her previous coach Matt Brown’s sudden departure (unexplained sacking from Nudgee College) rocked her. Unexplained sackings are a huge disservice to everyone. They potentially slur the coach, the swimmers, the sport, and the employers. Seebohm’s current Brisbane Grammar coaching set up is a new success story, though mainly in the junior ranks where the sheer talent it relies on makes depth of preparation hard to judge from the outside. The wider context of catastrophic failure in Rio implies… Read more »

3 years ago

Agree with CW here. The change in coach was the biggest factor and the evidence was only seen initially at trials and but the full effect of the trend was evident in Rio. Her 100 Back times from World Champs, Trials and Rio are 58.26/58.73/59.19. Her 200 Back times from World Champs, Trial and Rio are 2:05.81/2:06.59/2:09.39. I suspect that in Rio she was not as fit as at World Champs and certainly behind the blocks did not look as fit as previously. This sub-optimal conditioning manifested more in the 200 back. I think that swimmers later in their careers sometimes believe they can dial back slightly on the brutally hard training but sadly this can sometimes backfire. We saw… Read more »

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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