New breed lead swimming out of darkness

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    The coach of swimming’s newest sprint star James Roberts believes Australia’s pace-setting 100m freestyle swimmers have led the sport out of the dark days of super suits.

    Roberts, 20, emerged as the second-fastest man in a textile suit as he finished second behind world champion James Magnussen in Monday night’s final at Olympic trials in Adelaide.

    Magnussen clocked a scintillating 47.10 seconds to fall just short of Cesar Cielo’s world record of 46.91, set in a now-banned polyurethane swimsuit at the 2009 world championships in Rome.

    Roberts, born on the same day as Magnussen, showed remarkable improvement in Adelaide to clock 47.63 seconds – the same time Magnussen did in winning the world title in Shanghai last year.

    And Roberts’ coach John Fowlie said Australia would be heading to London with two swimmers who should be considered the fastest men in history.

    “47.1 to me is the world record,” said Fowlie, based at the Australian Institute of Sport.

    “Those couple of years (2008 and 2009) were just a farce as far as swimming was concerned and this is the great thing now because you’re talking about the athletes (not the suits).

    “Magnussen and Roberts are phenomenal athletes and the suits have nothing to do with it.

    “You can compare these guys with (Alexander) Popov and (Pieter) van den Hoogenband, (Matt) Biondi and all the greats that have come through the sport before them – and there’s no asterixes.

    “It’s great to see the sport of swimming back to this point.”

    Fowlie admitted to surprise at Roberts’ rapid improvement, despite him producing the goods in training leading into trials.

    “It’s really rare that somebody will come out and just blow your absolute expectations,” Fowlie said.

    “We knew he had prepared well, but we were looking maybe 48-low. For him to go 47.6 in a time that would have won the world championships was really unbelievable.”

    Roberts’ individual selection for London helped ease the pain of missing out on Australia’s victorious 4x100m freestyle relay team in Shanghai.

    He swam in the heats before being left out of the final in China as Australia’s relay coaches – including Fowlie – opted to go with the experience of Eamon Sullivan.

    “Being sat out of the relay, it was tough,” Tweed Heads-born Roberts said.

    “My coach was the one who made the decision but, at the end of the day, I couldn’t argue.

    “It definitely made me want to come back and work harder and secure a spot on that team for London.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • March 21st 2012 @ 9:22am
      Republican said | March 21st 2012 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      Can’t wait for the Olympic meet.

    • March 21st 2012 @ 10:12am
      gg said | March 21st 2012 @ 10:12am | ! Report

      47.10 is not “just short” 46.91 – in swimming terms that’s a bit. FINA really messed up swimming with those fast suits, and tainted Beijing.

    • March 21st 2012 @ 1:31pm
      Red Block said | March 21st 2012 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

      It still won’t hide the fact that this will be the weakest swimming team that Australia will send away in about 20 years. Only two swimmers (Magnussen & Rice) ranked in the world’s top 10.
      Let’s hope Swimming Australia wakes up and uses its’ funds to develop young swimmers not those just boosting their profiles for sponsors and retirement.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download The Roar’s iPhone App in the App Store here.

    • March 21st 2012 @ 11:12pm
      Our Franzi said | March 21st 2012 @ 11:12pm | ! Report

      Red Block, let’s break this down:

      Gold medals don’t come cheap – estimates range from 20 to 50 million dollars apiece.

      Magnussen, inspired by Thorpies efforts in Sydney, and motivated by his comeback, could win 3 Gold in London, which makes the $100k spend on Thorpies comeback a great investment.

    • March 22nd 2012 @ 9:48am
      jameswm said | March 22nd 2012 @ 9:48am | ! Report

      Just hang on a sec

      My understanding is that we had several swims that were fastest or close to fastest in the world this year and at about WC level

      50 free (Magnussen)
      100 free (Magnussen and Roberts)

      100 fly – Coutts and Schipper
      100 back
      200 back
      200 IM (Coutts and Rice)
      400 IM
      200 free
      400 free

      You’ve inspired me, I’m going to check our trial times against WC times from last year, and see where we really are.

    • March 22nd 2012 @ 11:13am
      jameswm said | March 22nd 2012 @ 11:13am | ! Report

      Based on the trials results we’d win about 9 individual medals and probably 4-5 relay medals.

      In the relays, Mens 4×100 and womens 4 x 200 would be favourites for gold, and mens and womens medley good medal shots too. Mens have Stoeckel, Wright, Rickard and Magnussen, all ranked in the top 10 in the world.

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