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Aust swimming recovers from "toxic" London

Sport

It’s official – Australian swimming has its mojo back. But national coach Jacco Verhaeren has baulked at making any Rio Olympic medal predictions despite an amazing Games selection trials in Adelaide.

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Verhaeren could not hide his excitement after emerging with a 34-strong Rio squad boasting 10 No.1 ranked swimmers and 26 in the world’s top three.

And that doesn’t include dual world champion James Magnussen, London Olympian James Roberts and sprinter Matt Abood who will be added once their 4x100m freestyle relay team’s qualifying time is confirmed by the May 31 deadline.

“I think swimming has got its mojo back which is a great thing and where it should be in Australia,” Verhaeren said.

Cameron McEvoy led the way by becoming the first to claim the national freestyle triple crown.

And Cate Campbell flew the women’s flag, narrowly missing world records as she completed the 50m-100m double in Adelaide.

Yet Verhaeren wasn’t getting ahead of himself.

Told that their trial form indicated they were on track to claim 26 medals and 10 gold at Rio, Verhaeren laughed: “That would be fantastic wouldn’t it?

“But rankings that go into an Olympics don’t mean much.

“What it means is that you are competitive.

Dutch legend Verhaeren was hired as national coach after the “toxic” London swimming campaign earned one relay gold – Australia’s worst tally in an Olympic pool in 20 years.

His goal was to ensure Australia were swimming’s world No.1 by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The last time they had enjoyed swimming’s top billing was 2001.

However, it seems Verhaeren is years ahead of schedule after Australia fell one gold medal short of overhauling United States for No.1 at the 2015 world titles in Russia.

“The job now is to keep everyone relaxed and make sure they do the job,” Verhaeren said.

“We will never talk about medals or records.

“We will keep them in the process of doing things right.

“I think it is good to have fate in your own hands.”

AAP

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