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Aussie swimmers have enough talent to make comeback: Klim

by ZwemZa on January 22nd, 2018

Former Olympic champion Michael Klim is backing Australia’s swimming team to make a comeback at this year’s Commonwealth Games despite heading into the event as underdogs.

The national swim team delivered more questions than answers during a lacklustre performance in the pool at the Rio Olympics in August 2016 in which they took home 10 medals, including just three gold. Australia was forecast to bring home 45 medals in Rio and ended up with just 29 medals.

However, Klim – who won six Olympic medals across 1996, 2000 and 2004 – believes the fact the games will be held on the Gold Coast is the advantage Australia’s swimmers need to bounce back.
Australian swimmers (L-R:) William Kirby, Todd Pearson, Michael Klim and Ian Thorpe posing with their gold medals for the Men’s 4×200 freestyle relay at the Sydney Olympic Games. (AAP)

“The fact the Commonwealth Games are on home soil I think it definitely is an advantage for the Aussie team. I think it’s probably the best scenario for them to come back,” he told nine.com.au.

“On paper we are chasing the Brits… we are certainly not the favourites anymore.”

The Polish-born Australian dual-gold medallist says the world of swimming has “changed drastically” since his days dominating the pool with the likes of fellow Olympians Grant Hackett and Ian Thorpe.

He said in the past, “the powers of the sport” were very protective of the intellectual property. Yet today, there is an “open door policy” in coaches going to other countries and greater access to better facilities globally.

“I think it is a much even playing field,” he said. “The depth in the events is so much higher, even the qualifying times have really increased.”

But Klim also believes the Australian public’s expectations for Aussie athletes to bring home the gold at an international competition such as the Commonwealth Games in April should not change.

“(Our medal haul) came through resourceful, great leadership… from individuals that are like minded. That doesn’t mean that we can’t replicate that,” he said of his former “Dream team’s” run.

“There is enough talent on the (Commonwealth Games) team to be at the same level.”

Michael Klim outside of the pool (left) and celebrating with Ian Thorpe after winning gold in the men’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay at the Sydney Olympics. (AAP)During the 2000 Summer games in Sydney, Australia ranked fourth in the overall medal tally with 58 medals, 16 of them gold, with the swim team winning 18 medals, five of them gold.

Since retiring from the sport in 2007, Klim has created his own men’s skincare business under the Milk brand and has kept his toe in the water as the elite head coach of swimming at Melbourne private school Wesley College.

He also hasn’t ruled out a future move into the Olympic coaching ranks and is a “big fan” of long-time Australian swim team coach Jacco Verhaeren.

“When I’ve been approached to have any influence or be around the current swimmers I sort of welcome that. It’s not because I think I’m better,” Klim said.

“I just think even if it’s one of the youngsters who might be a little bit uncomfortable before the race, or if it’s mental or physical, I can assist in any way.”

Australian swimmer Cate Campbell reacts after failing to place in the Women’s 100m Freestyle final in Rio 2016. (AAP) For Klim, swimming remains a massive part of his life and so it’s no surprise to learn that he’s working with Optus on a “celebration” of the sport in Australia Swims – a nine-day campaign around the health benefits of swimming and water safety.

“It’s almost a celebration that encourages (Australia’s) love for the water and for swimming. Over the nine days encourage people to head to the website, pledge their swim and see if we can get around Australia. We’re about halfway at the moment,” he said.

“There is so many elements, the water safety aspect, health and wealth, there are so many different things.”

Kate Kachor

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