Titmus, McKeown, Campbells, Chalmers & Half Of Dolphins School That Leapt Onto Tokyo 2020ne Podium Set To Bypass 2022 World Titles – Sights Set On Birmingham Commonwealths Priority
Ariarne Titmus, Kaylee McKeown, Cate and Bronte Campbell, Kyle Chalmers and almost half of the Australian swimming team medallists who made the Tokyo 2020ne Olympics the most successful in Games history for the Dolphins are set to bypass the 2022 World Championships in Fukuoka this May, dealing a blow to much anticipated rematches with the Americans they rattled last year.
If the Australians go that way, the next peak-form clash of the likes of Titmus Vs Ledecky and Chalmers Vs Dressel would now be almost two years away.
Before the last World Championships in Fukuoka, back in 2021, the Olympic swimming cycle consisted of one World long-course Championships midway between Games, which made anticipation of the showcase all the keener and allowed years 1 and 3 for continental and regional events with far less danger of calendar clashes that have become more commonplace as a result of a cluttered competition schedule. The impact of swimming’s built-on diet, exacerbated by postponements forced by the pandemic, includes dilution of highlights.
Key Lines in the news from Australia
- Dolphins to prioritise Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, as top 2022 event
- Commonwealth team to be selected at four events with end of sudden-death trials
- Monte Carlo and Mare Nostrum a key part of northern summer preparation and readiness for Paris 2024 Olympics
- Australian to use official ‘A’ standard QTs for selections after scrapping ‘ruthless policy’ of cut times well inside what other nations set for national-team selection to majors
At the root of the Australian decision is cluttered-calendar chaos syndrome, largely but not exclusively caused by the pandemic, which shunted the Olympics into 2021, causing a domino effect that will see World long-course Championships held on two successive years immediately before an Olympic Games for the first time in history.
The 2023 World titles will be held in Qatar, summer heat shunting the showcase from its traditions July-August slot to later in the year. FINA and organisers having domestic federations of two possible dates in November, just eight months out from the Paris 2024 Olympics. Organisers sought to try to avoid a clash with the dates of the 2023 Pan Am Games (though the USA team for that is often not the same as the top team attending a World Championships). The swimming part of the F INA showcase event is set for either November 12-19 (after a championship start date of Nov 3) or 19-26 after a start date of Nov 10.
With a nod to the tradition of holding the annual long-course highlight on the way to the Olympic Games in the same July-August slot each season, Australia has made the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, this August its priority event of 2022.
Conscious of the cycles required to be at their best for the clash with home nations in Britain, Canada, South Africa and the rest of the Commonwealth, coaches and swimmers Down Under are minded to take the pragmatic decision to skip Fukuoka.
The World No 1 swim nation, the USA, avoided a match on gold count by just 2 wins over nine days of action that ended 11-9 to the Americans but granted Australia the women’s match by a. stunning 8-3 margin that left the USA nursing a rare moment: Katie Ledecky and Lydia Jacoby were the only two American women to take gold medals home from Tokyo, including relays.
Any decision by Titmus and Chalmers, among others, to bypass Fukuoka will deprive the showcase of some of its most anticipated post-Olympic rematches. The Aussies were key to several of the most spectacular clashes at Tokyo 2020, all sports.
Almost half of the Australian medallists from Tokyo are understood to be contemplating bypassing the world championships as part of a radical strategy to peak at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Among those contemplating a pass on Fukuoka are distance ace Jack McLoughlin, and young-gun sprinter Meg Harris.
No formal decisions have been taken but News Corp reports that some swimmers and coaches are basing their longer-grass decisions on the need for injuries to heal and adjustments to be made for those now working with new programs this season.
Dolphins & Their Commonwealth Tradition
The Dolphins have long had a love affair with the clan of the Commonwealth, many a world record having taken a tumble at the Games that will unfold in Birmingham, in the English Midlands July and August.
On the way to England, Australian squads will compete on the Mare Nostrum Tour in Europe. That will serve two key purposes: as a warm-up and camp for Birmingham and acclimatisation for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris’ back garden on the three-meet tour from Barcelona to Canet and Monte Carlo.
“We‘re allowing our big hitters to take off worlds if they choose to,” Australia’s head coach Rohan Taylor told News Corp:
“They will still have an opportunity to go to the Comm Games but they won’t have to rush back and try to push themselves. By doing this, we’ll open up opportunities for others to jump in and get positions but more importantly, we’ll get more racing opportunities under pressure.”Rohan Taylor
Swimming Australia’s leading coaches are so convinced by the benefits of prioritising the Commonwealth Games ahead of the 2022 world championships that they have even fast-tracked sweeping changes to the way the team for Birmingham will be selected.
In an unprecedented move, the days of the sudden-death selection meet that leaves potential medallists out of contention on the basis of a slip or bad day, the ‘single cutthroat meet’, as its described Down Under will make way for a selection process to be held over four events in three different countries, including the Monte Carlo leg of the Mare Nostrum.
Under the new format, the team for the 2022 World Championships will be decided at the Australian trials in Adelaide in April just a month out from the big meet.
In another major change, Swimming Australia has also agreed to scrap what critics have called a ‘ruthless policy’ of asking its swimmers to race well inside international qualifying times just to make the national squad. Now, the official ‘A’ qualifying standards – far from easy in themselves but more likely to produce Aussies in every race – will be used as the benchmark.
For the Commonwealth Games, countries are allowed to pick up to three competitors for each event, but a different selection policy will be used. Only the winner from the trials will be automatically picked. The remaining spots will be decided by the best times other swimmers set at either the world championships, the Sydney Open or the Monaco leg of the Mare Nostrum, guaranteeing a large school of Dolphins in Europe this summer. Said Taylor:
“We‘re working backwards from Paris. So, what does each athlete need to do to be at their best for Paris? Do they need to take their time and build up slowly? Or do they need to be racing a lot of competitions?
That’s where the individuality of it comes in and that’s what we’re trying to do here. For some older swimmers who are looking to extend themselves to Paris, the slower approach may suit them but for the young up and comers, they‘ll all want to be at worlds so it gives opportunities to everyone.”Rohan Taylor – image – the Paris 2024 bid logo projected on to the Arc de Triomphe – courtesy of Paris 2024
The Aussie Road to Paris 2024
- Australian world championships trials, Adelaide, April 4-9
- World Championships, Fukuoka, Japan, May 22-29
- Mare Nostrum series – Canet-en-Roussillon, France, June 11-12
- Mare Nostrum series – Barcelona, Spain, June 15-16
- Mare Nostrum series – Monaco, June 18-19 (doubling as Commonwealth Games trials)
- Sydney Open – June 18-19 (doubling as Commonwealth Games trials)
- Commonwealth Games, Birmingham, UK, July 28-August 8
- Mare Nostrum series – Canet-en-Roussillon, France, June
- Mare Nostrum series – Barcelona, Spain, June
- Mare Nostrum series – Monaco, June
- Australian world championships trials, September
- World Championships, Doha, Qatar, November
- Australian Olympic trials, June
- Paris Olympics, July 26-August 11