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Jul 30 14

Glasgow 2014 : Triumphant swimmers ‘have done South Africa proud’

by ZwemZa

G14 Team SA 111There were a few bleary eyes that told a thousand stories, but most importantly they told the story of a united and dedicated swimming squad that said its goodbyes to Glasgow and headed back to South Africa, having again done the country proud.

Perhaps it was Cameron van der Burgh, the winner of the 100m breaststroke gold medal in the London Olympics and who got a full house of medals at the Commonwealth Games this past week – gold (50m breaststroke), silver (100m breaststroke) and bronze (400m medley relay) – who summed it up best.

‘The team spirit amongst these swimmers is the best I have ever experienced. We’ve become like a family. And like any big family, there is always one outstanding child. Chad is that child.

‘But before it used to only be Chad and I winning medals, now there are more. It’s very special to me. I’m only 26 but I’m getting a bit old. This past week I’ve had to take stock of things and reassess a lot of things, find the motivation again.

‘There was a time when I’d win a medal and hardly look at it. Now, this past week I’ve learned to appreciate these medals like I did when I was younger. Really have a long look at them and appreciate their value and significance. The 50m is the highlight of the Games for me,’ he told the gathering at the Ekhaya hospitality centre in the middle of the city.

The swimming squad were heading for Dubai and then a connection to Johannesburg where they are scheduled to land on Thursday morning. Walking through customs at OR Tambo they will declare 12 medals, and Chad le Clos himself will have seven.

‘To win seven at one Commonwealth Games is a dream come true,’ the poster boy said. ‘The highlights for me were those relays, with the 4x100m freestyle my favourite race of all. The relay is an event where everyone diving in is swimming their best. But I want to say a big thank you not only to my teammates but the support staff, the coaches, doctors and friends,’ he added.

The plaudits kept coming. Chef de mission, Patience Shikwambana, said the swimmers ‘has done a great job’. SASCOC chief executive Tubby Reddy said he was ‘extremely satisfied that the swimmers in Team South Africa had done us proud. Swimming SA is a flagship federation and they’ve come to the party’.

Deputy minister of sport, Gert Oosthuizen, concurred that the swimmers ‘had done us proud. They raked in the medals and broken Commonwealth Games records. It all augurs well for 2016 and, once again, government will be there for our teams and athletes and help where we can.’

Despite the obvious tiredness there was the glow of after action satisfaction. The swimmers had been away from home for much of the time since early May and head coach Graham Hill called it ‘a great achievement after a long, hard journey.

‘We’ve had to rebuild the team after London 2012, alter the relay squads. They’ve done a great job.

‘The relays are really important. If Chad is to win seven medals in Rio, then the relays will have to get medals. There are some youngsters here who we call domestiques, like the Tour de France. Their job will be to go to Rio and swim in the heats and get into the final and allow the really big guns, like Chad and Cameron, to fire. The supporting role cannot be underestimated.’

There is much to be said about this group of swimmers representing Team SA. They have been courteous and professional in front of the international media, popular – in terms of athletes star appeal only Usain Bolt is a bigger name than Le Clos at these Games – and fine ambassadors.

Even the veteran Roland Schoeman, who at 34 has swum in the last of his five Commonwealth Games’, admitted that the memories from Glasgow will remain forever.

A winner of two medals here that pushed his career Games tally to 12, he said, ‘we all come with hopes of glory, to win gold. But to share [podium and pool] with these youngsters was very special, it was fun. Swimming is a solitary sport in so many ways and it’s special to be able to share the memories. This was special, it will be an exciting journey to 2016.’

Gary Lemke
Jul 30 14

Results not matching funding for Swimming NZ

by ZwemZa
Swimming NZ’s high performance director Luis Villanueva admits the Kiwis did not perform as well as they should of in the pool in Glasgow.

Swimming NZ’s high performance director Luis Villanueva admits the Kiwis did not perform as well as they should of in the pool in Glasgow.

Nearly nine million dollars spent in four years and two medals to show for it.

That’s the meagre return on investment for Swimming New Zealand following a lean Commonwealth Games display in Glasgow that would have been disastrous if not for Lauren Boyle.

New Zealand’s four-medal haul in the pool was only given weight by Boyle’s freestyle gold and silver, and para-swimmer Sophie Pascoe’s two gold. The two medals gained by the country’s 14-strong able-bodied team – both won by Boyle – harked back to similar low returns from the 1998 and 2002 Games.

This country hasn’t won an Olympic swimming medal since Danyon Loader won two gold at Atlanta 1996, and only the most optimistic fan would predict that drought will be broken in Rio in two years’ time.

Swimming is one of 13 ‘targeted sports’ for High Performance Sport New Zealand, the organisation entrusted with assessing and distributing taxpayer-backed funding.

Targeted sports are those identified as having ”the best opportunity for success at Olympic Games, Paralympic Games and World Championships”.

From 2011 through to the end of this year, HPSNZ will have given swimming $8,651,674 – including $2,020,544 this year. The figures for 2014 are split into $1.5m direct programme investment with the rest in direct athlete investment.

Yet Boyle’s 400m gold and 800m silver in Glasgow are the only concrete returns on money spent on Swimming NZ – funding for Pascoe, the multi-medal winner at the London Olympics and last year’s IPC world champs, comes through Paralympic channels.

New Zealand won six medals at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi four years ago – four silver and two bronze – but Boyle’s fourth in the women’s 800m freestyle was the closest they got to the podium at the 2012 London Olympics.

The slim returns at Glasgow was expected – not even Boyle entered the meet with a world ranking on times this year that would have placed her in the top three.

But Swimming NZ’s high performance director Luis Villanueva wasn’t pleased with most of the team’s efforts.

”The team hasn’t performed as well as I’d expected,” Villanueva said.

”Our aim was to focus on personal bests, or at least improve qualifying times. Not in all cases has that been produced.”

The same team will contest the Pan Pacific champs in Australia next month and Villanueva will withhold final judgement until then.

”I’m not happy, but I think we can expect some good swims in three weeks on the Gold Coast.

”After that we will review and see if we need to make any change.”

There are some highly-talented youngsters pushing through – Gabrielle Fa’amausili has been smashing age-group records for a couple of years while Bobbi Gichard is another with a promising future.

Yet there must be concerns that the country’s elite swimmer is 26 and of the team in Glasgow, only 19-year-old Corey Main looks like one for the future.

A massive concern for HPSNZ must also be that the Swimming NZ high-performance and coaching programmes appear to have minimal pull for the country’s best performers.

Boyle, who has undergone a number of coaching changes when under the auspices of Swimming NZ in recent years, elected to prepare for Glasgow in Spain with Fred Vergnoux instead of back in Auckland with national coach David Lyles.

Snyders works fulltime in California with Dave Salo, improving backstroker Main is on a scholarship at the University of Florida, Matthew Stanley is based in New Zealand but regularly pops across the Tasman to work with Denis Cotterell while Mitchell Donaldson trains under Scott Talbot in Australia.

The future of 27-year-old Snyders is uncertain after a campaign that fell short of the lofty standards required to be among a group of world-class Commonwealth breaststrokers.

He spoke earlier this year of feeling refreshed, with the goal of competing at his third Olympic Games at Rio in 2016.

Yet in Glasgow he again failed to match the potential of his heat performances when the real heat was applied in the finals and now has emergent talents Adam Peaty and Ross Murdoch as further stumbling blocks.

Above all this is Boyle, elevated to a podium on her own.

She broke through for her first gold at a major international long-course meet, which may augur well for the next two years ahead of Rio.

Swimming has in recent years undergone a whole-of-sport review, which saw funding reduced, and the organisation has battled through multiple coaching changes and dysfunctional governance.

But until Boyle can be joined at elite level by more of the squad, a harsh spotlight will remain focused a sport failing to make a splash on the world stage.


Jul 30 14

Verhaeren cautions against overconfidence after great meet

by ZwemZa

Australia might be standing at its highest peak in Commonwealth Games swimming history, but in reality this is just base camp on the climb up Everest to world No.1 status.

The easy job is done, the heavy terrain is still ahead.

Even with injuries to James Magnussen (back), Christian Sprenger (shoulder) and Alicia Coutts (illness) the Australian swim team eclipsed their greatest haul at a Commonwealth Games with 57 medals to exceed the 53-55 medal target set by the Winning Edge funding program.

But the figures must be treated with caution.

The Commonwealth Games has a tendency to produce fools’ gold, given the likes of USA, China, Japan and Europe are missing.

“I think we can all be very happy with the outcome,” head coach Jacco Verhaeran said.

“I don’t think we missed a lot of opportunities, some, but this is part of the process of learning.

“It’s a big step forwards but still a step in the process of what we want to achieve in the end.

“We are trying to create a performance culture and I think we made a massive step in that.

“I think the sense of reality is there, this is not a world championships.”

Australia won 19 gold, 21 silver and 17 bronze in Glasgow but four years earlier in Delhi they pocketed 22 gold, 16 silver and 16 bronze. In individual Olympic events Australia had 12 winners in India, just nine here in Scotland.

More wins, less shrapnel and we all know what happened in London two years later.

Making matters worse the combined British nations of England, Scotland and Wales had 10 gold medallists from the 26 individual Olympic events on this program, with Canada and South Africa boasting two each.

Whisper it quietly, but Great Britain could claim they beat Australia in the pool if the Olympic yardstick was the measure.

Verhaeren prefers a comparison to Melbourne’s 2006 Commonwealth Games, where the Olympic individual event tally was nine gold and Beijing 2008 Olympics was a resounding success.

“I think we should memorise 2006 in Melbourne, not many wins for men and I believe 2008 was a great Olympics for Australia,” he said.

It’s why they’re so excited by the promising signs they’ve seen in Scotland. Like a six-medal haul by Emma McKeon, five to Cameron McEvoy, four to Mitch Larkin, gold medal breakthroughs for Taylor McKeown and Daniel Tranter, stunning sprints by Bronte Campbell and a sublime debut by distance star Mack Horton.

They will form our best medal hopes at Rio in two years time, when their physical peak combines with a few years of international experience.

Then there’s the world champions like Cate Campbell, Magnussen and Sprenger who should still be fighting for gold in Rio – they just have to get there healthy.

Magnussen (back) and Sprenger (shoulder) will need MRI scans when they land home in Australia on Friday. It’s been a rough month for both and they’ll need much rehab if they’re to be fully fit to race Pan Pacs on the Gold Coast on August 21.

Verhaeren has identified athlete health as a major issue in the swim team and high performance director Michael Scott confirmed he has appointed Dr Peter Fricker, former AIS director and Olympic team doctor, as their new chief medical officer.

“Keeping athletes healthy is one of the major topics in Swimming Australia at this moment which is going to be very important because keeping athletes healthy and fit will in the end pay off,” Verhaeren said.

They’re still building a team around the team, but once it’s done they’ll be well equipped to tackle the mountainous challenge ahead.

Todd Baylan

Jul 30 14

Glasgow 2014 : England upset Australia, claim 10 Gold Medals in Men’s Swimming

by ZwemZa
Adam Peaty England CWG
England’s team of Chris Walker-Hebborn, Adam Peaty (above), Adam Barrett and Adam Brown came home in a Games record time of 3min 31:51sec to become the first English team to beat Australia in the 4×100 medley relay for 64 years.

England closed their Commonwealth Games swimming meet with 10 gold medals after inflicting Australia’s first Commonwealth relay defeat in eight years in the men’s 4x100m medley relay.

There was another significant victory for England over Australia on Tuesday as 19-year-old sensation Ben Proud claimed his second gold of the Games by beating star duo Cameron McEvoy and James Magnussen in the men’s 50m freestyle.

However, Australia still recorded their most successful ever meet at a Commonwealth Games as they won 57 medals to surpass their previous record tally of 54 from the Melbourne Games in 2006.

A stunning final leg from 100m freestyle world champion Cate Campbell handed the Aussie women 4x100m medley relay gold after Daniel Tranter won the men’s 200m individual medley to take Australia’s final gold medal tally to 19.

The final race of the meet belonged to England, though, as the team of Chris Walker-Hebborn, Adam Peaty, Adam Barrett and Adam Brown came home in a Games record time of 3min 31:51sec to become the first English team to beat Australia in the 4×100 medley relay for 64 years.

Brown jumped in for the final leg with a comfortable lead, but was very nearly caught as world 100m freestyle champion James Magnussen swam a sensational final leg for Australia.

“I knew I was going against the fastest guy in the world right now in Magnussen so I just dug in deep that last 50 and luckily held on to get the win for these guys,” said Brown.

England very nearly caused a similar upset in the women’s 4x100m medley relay as they led at the 300m mark, but Campbell did enough to seal gold in the final leg in an overall time of 3min 56:23sec.

“I honestly could not have asked for anything more,” said Campbell, who won three gold medals in all in Glasgow.

“I have exceeded my expectations and I feel like I have done Australia proud, which is one of the goals I had coming into the competition.”

Proud had already won the 50m butterfly earlier in the week and backed up that success by touching the wall first in a time of 21:92sec.

McEvoy had to settle for his third individual silver medal of the meet, whilst Magnussen added to his 100m freestyle gold with his first international 50m medal.

Australia’s first gold medal of the night came from Tranter as he stormed to victory in the men’s 200m individual medley in a new Games record time of 1min 57:72sec.

Scotland’s Dan Wallace delighted the home crowd as he walked onto poolside in a kilt and proceeded to add silver to his 400m individual medley gold.

Olympic champion Chad le Clos took his medal tally for the event to seven as he sealed bronze to go with South Africa’s bronze in the medley relay.

Le Clos also took gold in the 100m and 200m butterfly, silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay and bronze in the 50m butterfly and 4x200m freestyle relay.

“It’s been a great week for me,” said the 22-year-old. “We gave everyone a run for their money and proved to the rest of the world South Africa can be a force to be reckoned with.”

Georgia Davies became the second Welsh female swimmer to win gold at the Games in as many days, following Jazz Carlin’s success in the 800m freestyle, as she won the 50m backstroke in a Commonwealth Games record time of 27:56sec.

Lauren Quigley of England was just 0:13sec behind in second as Brooklyn Snodgrass added bronze for Canada.

However, Carlin had to settle for silver on Tuesday in the women’s 400m freestyle as New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle gained revenge for being beaten into second place in the 800m freestyle with Australia’s Bronte Barratt in third.

A fine night for Wales was rounded off by a third medal as Daniel Jervis took bronze in the men’s 1500m freestyle.

Ryan Cochrane of Canada sealed his second gold of the Games with Mack Horton picking up silver for Australia.

And it was also a great night for New Zealand as Sophie Pascoe claimed her second gold of the Games in the women’s para-sport 200m individual medley SM10 ahead Australia’s Katherine Downie and Canada’s Aurelie Rivard.

Jul 30 14

Glasgow 2014 : Le Clos in seventh heaven after Commonwealth frenzy

by ZwemZa
Chad le Clos

Chad le Clos

Chad le Clos talked the talk and then he walked the walk. Two bronze medals in the pool on Tuesday night in Glasgow – one secured by the length of a chewed fingernail – took his tally to seven, equalling the Commonwealth Games record of legendary Australian Ian Thorpe from Manchester 2002.

Swimming has done its part at these Commonwealth Games, picking up 12 in South Africa’s overall total of 26. The first of Le Clos’ two medals on Tuesday, and the sixth medal of these Commonwealth Games came in the men’s 200m Individual Medley – although it was a desperately close thing. He was forced to dig deep to edge out Australian Thomas Fraser-Holmes by one-hundredth of a second.

‘It’s been a great week and that first 50m butterfly medal was a big one for me to get things going,’ said Le Clos. ‘The other highlights were the relays. This is a great bunch of guys with a fantastic spirit,’ he added after returning to swim a blistering butterfly leg in the 4x100m medley relay final, and then watching as teammate and friend Leith Shankland brought the team home in bronze in 3:33.47. Sebastien Rousseau and Cameron van der Burgh had swum the first two legs, but it was a team effort. ‘Everyone backs each other,’ said Rousseau, who himself had a breakthrough competition.

Rousseau had started off with a 55.33 in the backstroke and Van der Burgh clawed it back to fourth before Le Clos took the team into medal territory and Shankland kept them there, swimming strongly. ‘I didn’t know I was going to be starting off, so I hadn’t prepared for it. But going forward I hope to be in this team and then I can hand over to Cameron in a better position. We’ve got the fastest breaststroker and butterfly swimmer in the world in the second and third legs,’ he said.

Le Clos had targeted seven Commonwealth Games medals and he got to his sixth literally by his fingertips. A blistering opening butterfly 50m had seen him reach the turn in 24.25sec, 0.64 seconds ahead of world record pace, but it was the third leg, the breaststroke, in which he was overhauled.

Rousseau had also shown up well early on and at halfway the South Africans were 1-2, but he too faded in the second half to bring up the field in 2:01.61. For both though, their Commonwealth Games assignment was not yet over. They were both called upon to represent the country in the 4x100m medley relay final in that final push to make history for Le Clos.

The young superstar had faltered on that breaststroke leg, where his lead evaporated and he was swallowed up by the field. Halfway down the 50m freestyle final his medal chances looked slim, and stretching out towards the wall it looked mighty close to the naked eye. Indeed it was, with just 0.01 seconds between him and Thomas Fraser-Holmes, swimming on the far side of the pool in lane one. But he got to the wall when it mattered and touched in 1:58.85, with Australian Daniel Tranter taking gold in 1:59.05.

‘I was a little lucky to get that medal. I was so tired,’ Le Clos admitted.

Earlier, the curtain came down on Roland Schoeman’s glittering Commonwealth Games’ career and he admitted ‘this is it’ after finishing sixth in the final of the men’s 50m freestyle, in 22.36 in Glasgow on Tuesday night. Brad Tandy was seventh, in 22.34.

‘It’s disappointing, I need to go figure things out. A few weeks ago I was swimming 22.0 and that would have been good enough to get me on the podium here. But, you’re only as good as your last swim, so this is it,’ Schoeman said.

Schoeman, who won two silver medals in these championships – in the men’s 50m butterfly and 4x100m freestyle relay – cited Glasgow 2014 and Melbourne 2006 as the two biggest moments of his Commonwealth career.

He stopped short of calling time on his career as a whole, but after the London 2012 Olympics he said he was ‘taking things one day at a time’, and again after the 50m butterfly in Glasgow he had uttered the same words, although considered himself still in good form and health and enjoying seeing the world.

Myles Brown was always considered an outsider in the men’s 1500m freestyle final, although he was hoping for a good swim after the disappointment of missing out on a place in the 400m final. The pace was always too hot for him, although his time of 15:17.89 will have done nothing to restore his confidence.

He finished eighth – last – and was some 33 seconds off the winner, the favourite, Canadian Ryan Cochrane. ‘I tend to suffer from nerves. I was in good shape physically but will need to work on my mental side some more. I was really nervous.’

Gary Lemke
Jul 30 14

Van der Burgh looking more and more, um, ‘biff’

by ZwemZa

It’s clear where Graeme Smith lookalike Cameron van der Burgh has been spending his time of late – in the gym!

Smith, the former Proteas Test skipper, and multiple world and Olympic champion Van der Burgh have long since been considered “twins” (do you see the resemblance?)

While Smith is now retired from cricket and happily married, Van der Burgh has been putting in the hours in the pool in preparation for the current Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the upcoming 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Van der Burgh’s hard work has paid off handsomely with a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke and a stunning victory in Monday’s 50m breaststroke final in which he smashed the Games record.

Enjoy ladies…

That wet look… (Getty Images)

Graeme Smith… or Cameron van der Burgh? (Getty Images)


Jul 30 14

Glasgow 2014 : Roland robbed !!!

by ZwemZa
Roland Schoeman

Roland Schoeman

The final night of swimming has brought with it the end of an era when Roland Schoeman touched off in the 50m freestyle.

The 34-year-old South African ended his fifth and last Commonwealth Games with a sixth place behind winner 19-year-old Ben Proud whose 21.92 was 0.16 seconds off the Games record he set in the heats.

Australians Cameron McEvoy and James Magnussen took silver and bronze in 22 seconds and 22.10 sec respectively.

Schoeman, who uncharacteristically was only fourth off the blocks, never looked to be in the chase against the new order as he clocked a time of 22.36.

“It was disappointing, I need to figure things out as I was 22 seconds about four or five weeks ago,” said Schoeman, who has been a stalwart of the South African team over two decades.

“That was the positive thing and it’s disappointing not being able to step up here and do it tonight.”

The swimmers are traditionally South Africa’s biggest contributors of medals at multi-sport events and Schoeman repeated a familiar appeal for increased financial support.

“The challenge for us is that we need the funding and sponsorship to continue here (at this level),” he said.

“What most people don’t understand is that it all hinges on swims like tonight.

“You are only as good as your last swim and for me trying to get to a fifth Olympics it becomes increasingly harder not to come away with a medal.”

Schoeman confirmed that he would not be attending the Gold Coast Games in 2018 as he reflected on his Games career.

“There have been highs and lows, on day two here coming away with the silver (in the 50m butterfly) and sharing the 4x100m freestyle relay silver with a bunch of youngsters.

“In Melbourne winning that 400m freestyle relay with Ryk Neethling, Lyndon Ferns and Gerhard Zandberg and being able to tour and experience the world and cultures.”

Schoeman only found out in the evening of his omission from the 4x100m medley relay team.

“It’s disappointing not to be there, I think I deserved that and given its my last games it would have been nice for the coaches to recognise that,” Schoeman said.

“It would have been good to come away with medal 13 and be the all-time record holder.”

Games novice Brad Tandy finished seventh behind Schoeman but has gained from the experience of Glasgow 2014.

“Making the finals itself was good, now with more training and more confidence I can make the progression up to Rio,” Tandy said.


Jul 30 14

Aussies complete biggest Games medal haul

by ZwemZa
Jacco Verhaeren

Jacco Verhaeren

Australia’s swimmers have taken a “massive step forward” with a record Commonwealth Games medal haul in Glasgow.

But head coach Jacco Verhaeren warns only continued improvement and focus will set up a shot at Olympic redemption in Rio in two years’ time.

Australia won two gold and six minor medals on Tuesday night’s final session to complete an impressive haul of 57 medals; 19 gold, 21 silver and 17 bronze.

It surpassed Delhi 2010 and Melbourne 2006 (both 54) as the most medals collected at a single event, though Australia had three more gold four years ago.

Dutchman Verhaeren, appointed late last year as part of a revolution sparked by a disastrous London Olympic campaign, said a meet highlighted by a relay world record and the emergence of young star Emma McKeon was clear evidence of the team’s progress.

“I think we made a massive step,” Verhaeren said.

“We don’t focus on the end outcome when we are in the process but I think we can all be very happy with the outcome.

“Lots of medals, lots of good swims, a good transfer from trials to this big competition and a great team culture and atmosphere – so very happy with that.”

A toxic culture was blamed for Australia’s worst Olympics result since 1992 but swimmers and officials have noted a marked improvement both at last year’s world championships and this week’s event.

“I landed half a year ago in Australia not really knowing what to expect and being part of this team and seeing how good people – not just athletes but staff and coaches – really work together has been a highlight,” Verhaeren said.

While Australia finished well clear of nearest rivals England on the medal tally they were made to work hard for their victories as rising swimmers from Scotland, South Africa and Canada made for high quality competition.

Verhaeren said there was plenty of room for improvement with many swimmers failing to better their times from selection trials in April.

“I don’t think we missed a lot of opportunities, some, but this is all in the process of learning,” he said.

“This is still a step in the process of what we want to achieve in the end.

“We have to stay focused.”

Daniel Tranter took out the 200m individual medley final on Tuesday night before Australia’s women’s 4x100m medley claimed the nation’s 19th gold.

The men’s medley team just fell short of completing a clean sweep of the relay events, taking silver with a scintillating 47.17-second last leg by James Magnussen unable to reel in gold medallists England.

Magnussen, battling a back injury, also took bronze in the men’s 50m freestyle final and Cameron McEvoy silver as England’s Ben Proud won gold.

There were also minor medals for Mack Horton (silver, 1500m freestyle), Katherine Downie (silver para-sport women’s 200m individual medley) and Bronte Barratt (bronze, 400m freestyle).

Rising star McKeon completed a personal haul of six medals – including four gold – in the relay with McEvoy (five), Cate Campbell, Bronte Campbell, Magnussen and Mitch Larkin (all four) other multi-medal contributors.

The meet started in incredible fashion with the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team breaking a super suit world record from the 2009 Rome world championships.

Australia will get a clearer gauge of where they sit when they host the all-conquering US team at next month’s Pan Pacs on the Gold Coast.


Jul 30 14

Aussie swimmers lament missing opening and closing ceremonies in Glasgow

by ZwemZa

Australia’s swimmers admit they are disappointed to miss both the opening and closing ceremonies in Glasgow but after collecting 17 gold medals and 49 overall with a day to go at the Tollcross pool they say the sacrifice is worth it.

The swimming program wound up at the Commonwealth Games on Tuesday night and the Australians fly out less than 24 hours later on Wednesday to begin preparations for the upcoming Pan Pacific Championships on the Gold Coast.

They didn’t march with the Australian contingent at last Wednesday night’s opening ceremony at Celtic Park due to competition beginning in the Glasgow pool the next morning and will already be back home when the closing ceremony to the Games is held at Hampden Park on Sunday night.

Taylor McKeown (middle), one of the emerging stars for Australia.Taylor McKeown (middle), one of the emerging stars for Australia. (Getty Images)

“It’s a little bit disappointing that the Australian swim team couldn’t attend the opening or closing ceremony,” said rookie Taylor McKeown, who announced herself as a force here by winning gold in the women’s 200 metres breaststroke.

“However, we came here with a purpose and that purpose was to race fast. So if racing fast meant that we had to miss the opening and closing ceremony then so be it. We came here with a goal.”

They have achieved that heading into the final day at the pool, with swimmers having won more than half of Australia’s 87 medals in the first five days of competition.

The Commonwealth Games are followed closely by the Pan Pacs on August 21 to 25, casting the Australians head to head with rivals from other swimming powerhouses like the United States.

Australia’s chef de mission Steve Moneghetti said the swimmers’ absence from the opening and closing ceremonies was understandable.

“I think it’s just the nature of sport,” Moneghetti said. “They’re a very important and integral part of the Australian Commonwealth Games team and we respect that.

“They’ve got an important competition and as you know we’re athlete-based in this team and for them to perform well at the Pan Pacs then they need to go tomorrow night and I fully support that.”

After the events of London 2012, there have been late nights out again for Australia’s swimmers in Glasgow – but they haven’t been on the town.

“Not fun nights out,” said Ben Treffers, the men’s 50m backstroke gold medallist. “We’ve had late nights at the pool. We’re not getting back from the pool until about 11.30 at night after racing. Last night as my earliest night since the meet started and that was going to sleep at about 12 o’clock.

“It’s a lot of late nights and the competition really drags it out of you. We’ve got a dry team policy and we’ve got to stick to that. I don’t think we’re allowed out at nights…it’s all pretty calm and tame.”

Chris Barrett

Jul 30 14

Kiwi boss unhappy despite Glasgow success

by ZwemZa
Luis Villanueva

Luis Villanueva

Lauren Boyle may have claimed New Zealand’s first Commonwealth gold by a woman in the pool for 24 years, but swim boss Luis Villanueva is not a happy man.

The 16-strong team landed four medals at Glasgow – a gold and a silver to Boyle and two golds for para-swimmer Sophie Pascoe.

But Swimming NZ’s high performance manager Villanueva says they fell short of expectations at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre.

His criteria for a successful campaign go beyond podium placings.

He wants to see swimmers producing personal bests and also improving on their qualifying times.

Attention now turns to the Pan Pacs on the Gold Coast next month, after which changes to the squad could be made.

“The team hasn’t performed as well as I expected,” Villanueva said.

“It’s not about the medals, it’s about seeing some progression in the swimmers.

“I’m not happy, but I think we can still expect some good times in three weeks. After that we will review and see if we need to make any change.”

On the flip side, Villanueva did highlight the efforts of Boyle, Pascoe and backstroker Corey Main.

Boyle’s times had been slower than last year, when she won three world championship bronze medals, but he said she raced well to win the 400m freestyle and he was confident she would go quicker in the Pan Pacs.

Villanueva had plenty of praise for 19-year-old Aucklander Main, who is based in the US at the University of Florida.

Main was able to post personal bests on the way to finishing fourth over 200m and sixth over 100m.

“It has been excellent to have new blood in the team and a swimmer with a lot of determination and swimming well every time he has been in the pool,” Villanueva said.

“It’s his first major meet, but he looked like a very experienced swimmer.”


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