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Swimmers must translate Comm Games gold rush into Olympic glory, writes Kieren Perkins

by ZwemZa on April 16th, 2018

With 28 gold medals in the bag the Commonwealth Games has been a huge success for the Australian swim team but they mustn’t fall into the same trap of the disastrous London Olympics.

Ariane Titmus and Jack McLoughlin are the two breakout swimmers I’m most eager to watch progress from this Commonwealth Games high into the jolt of reality that will be the run to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

I have no hesitation in rating the Games on the Gold Coast a huge success for the swim team but the big message has to be “no letting up.”

The Comm Games are a very winning kind of environment and every swimmer is aware that success is not assured with the step up to Pan Pacs, world championships and Olympics at their next big meets.

Australia’s golden girls. Picture: Adam Head

Australia’s golden girls. Picture: Adam Head Source: News Corp Australia

The public perception is where we get into trouble because 28 gold medals must translate into something big at those next-level events, right?

Swimming against the Americans at the Pan Pacs in Japan in August is a whole different ball game.

I’m being realistic, not negative, because the beauty of the Gold Coast over the past two weeks has been the positivity and momentum for our swimmers to feed off.

It can work wonders but you can’t get complacent after a high like this which is why you should know Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers is already back in Adelaide to start training again today.

The Comm Games are the springboard and a huge outcome has been the swimmers coming together with such obvious support for each other as a team which is a massive turnaround from the London Olympics of 2012.

The more confidence and support you have from within the team can help turn a swimmer on the fringes to being a standout because he or she is not alone on stage.

For the coaches, it will be a matter of consolidation and polishing areas of weakness because Tokyo is not that far away.

Jack McLoughlin, left, is a star of the future. Picture: Adam Head

Jack McLoughlin, left, is a star of the future. Picture: Adam Head Source: News Corp Australia

It was good to hear McLoughlin say his swim speed was sub-14 min 40 sec when winning the 1500m but he had already identified hard work on his turns was needed to get there.

He’s maturing and more strength work and focus during the middle of races are areas he will now hone too.

It’s in that age bracket of 17 to 21 that quite a bit of improvement still exists and Ariarne is in the sweet spot to take time jumps. The benefits of managing herself at a big meet and just racing hard back-to-back with the 800m and 400 just 24 hours apart were learnings from the Gold Coast.

A sleeper like 17-year-old Elijah Winnington swimming a 1:45 with a fly start to beef-up our 4 x 200m freestyle team and Chalmers racing it for gold were excellent because a “best relay nation in the world” mentality is a great one.

That depth shows great strength in the program for Tokyo in 2020.

Tokyo is closing fast. There are already swimmers like Mack Horton refining his Olympic focus by dropping the 1500m to swim the 200-400-800, Cate Campbell set to delete her “fun” 50m butterfly to conserve energy and Titmus feeling the 200m-400m is her main target.

People are talking about swimming, discussing races and faces. That’s brilliant but there can be no complacency.

Jack McLoughlin flies in the 400m Freestyle.

Jack McLoughlin flies in the 400m Freestyle. Source: AAP

Four moments stood out as my favourites in the pool:

1 Bronte Campbell’s pure racing to come over the top of Canada for gold in the medley relay

2 Ariarne Titmus with a really impressive time and attitude to win the 400m freestyle

3 Mitch Larkin winning the backstroke treble because it’s so rare to have the speed for the 50m and the stamina for the 200m.

4 The 4 x 100m freestyle relay girls because a world record simply means the best there has ever been

Originally published as Hidden dangers after swimming gold rush

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