SWIMMING Australia has plumped for hometown domination over tough love after filling its athlete quota for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games despite most of those selected failing to meet the “A” standard.
Just 12 swimmers in 15 events recorded “A” qualifiers during the meet to achieve automatic nomination, with selectors opting to take those that had notched “B” qualifying marks and finished inside the top three in their events.
Head coach Jacco Verhaeren defended the tough qualifying marks, saying a world top-eight time would remain a yardstick for the event.
But a full team was warranted at a home Games.
“We do have the “B” times and they definitely served their purpose,” Verhaeren said.
“We don’t want to leave medal potential and very good swimmers home because they didn’t make the “A” cut.
“That’s why we have that back door of the “B” cut and we even made the decision because it’s a home Games to reward the non-Olympic events, which is, I think, very important.
“We’re competing on home soil, we want a full team, and we want to compete in every event for medals.
“But (Swimming Australia) “A” times are the reference, that’s our yardstick for how we track.
“A top-eight time (in the world) that’s what we want to achieve and that will be the yardstick as well for Pan Pacs later in the year … without any exemption.
“But this Commonwealth Games, it’s always great to be able to select a little bit broader team.”
The team includes 49 able-bodied athletes, with Queensland’s Kaylee McKeown the youngest, at 16 and Holly Barratt, from Western Australia, the oldest at 30.
Twenty-one para-athletes — including NSW pair, 13-year-old Jasmine Greenwood, and Matt Levy, 31 — were also named on Saturday night after qualifying before the meet for the most inclusive Games in history.
Verhaeren said the team included the best people in each event, maximising Australia’s medal chances in five weeks’ time.
“We’re very pleased with the people that qualified, I think we’ve got almost without exception, the best people in their events,” Verhaeren said.
“I think that’s important because if you want to defend titles and make the most out of medals in five weeks’ time, you need your best people in their best events.”
The trials marked Swimming Australia’s first attempt at a qualifying meet so close to a major championship and some swimmers were clearly not at their best this week.
“The level is very good (but) some clearly want to lift a little bit higher come Comm Games.
“That’s all part of the plan. No one plans to swim slower than they expect but they definitely plan to go faster at Commonwealth Games.”
After poor results at the past two Olympics, the opportunity to select a large team to experience a multi-sport event was invaluable, Verhaeren said.
“It’s great that they can grow experience in a multidisciplinary environment and it’s one of the very rare events you have where you can practice that environment,” he said of the Commonwealth Games.
“Definitely Rio and probably London as well, showed that that is really necessary.
“I think what we’ve seen now during Rio, during London, it’s really who can perform under any condition, deal with the distractions, deal with the expectation, deal with the pressure (that thrives).
“We just need to deal with it.”
Swimming team for Gold Coast Commonwealth Games: Jessica Ashwood (QLD), Minna Atherton (QLD), Jesse Aungles (SA), Meg Bailey (NSW), Hayley Baker (Vic), Holly Barratt (WA), Joshua Beaver (Vic), Emily Beecroft (Vic), Georgia Bohl (QLD), Rohan Bright (NSW), Bronte Campbell (QLD), Cate Campbell (QLD), Jack Cartwright (QLD), Kyle Chalmers (SA), Blake Cochrane (QLD), Ellie Cole (QLD), Timothy Disken (Vic), Katherine Downie (WA), Blair Evans (WA), Daniel Fox (QLD), Alexander Graham (QLD), Jasmine Greenwood (NSW), Madeline Groves (QLD), Matthew Haanappel (Vic), Brenden Hall (QLD), Jessica Hansen (Vic), George Harley (WA), Timothy Hodge (NSW), Mack Horton (Vic), Liam Hunter (QLD), Zac Incerti (WA), Grant Irvine (QLD), Shayna Jack (QLD), Mitchell Kilduff (NSW), Mitchell Larkin (QLD), Paige Leonhardt (QLD), Matthew Levy (NSW), Clyde Lewis (QLD), James Magnussen (NSW), Travis Mahoney (SA), Ashleigh McConnell (Vic), Cameron McEvoy (QLD), James McKechnie (SA), David McKeon (QLD), Emma McKeon (QLD), Kaylee McKeown (QLD), Taylor McKeown (QLD), Jack McLoughlin (QLD), Kiah Melverton (QLD), David Morgan (QLD), Leah Neale (QLD), Jake Packard (QLD), Lakeisha Patterson (QLD), Leiston Pickett (QLD), Logan Powell (QLD), James Roberts (QLD), Liam Schluter (QLD), Madeleine Scott (Vic), Emily Seebohm (QLD), Mikkayla Sheridan (QLD), Zac Stubblety-Cook (QLD), Laura Taylor (QLD), Tiffany Thomas Kane (NSW), Brianna Throssell (WA), Ariarne Titmus (QLD), Ben Treffers (QLD), Tessa Wallace (QLD), Matthew Wilson (NSW), Elijah Winnington (QLD), Bradley Woodward (NSW).
Coaches: Jacco Verhaeren, Rohan Taylor, Jan Cameron, Peter Bishop, Michael Bohl, Dean Boxall, Harley Connolly, Simon Cusack, Nathan Doyle, Craig Jackson, Adam Kable, David Lush, Chris Mooney, Chris Nesbit, Vince Raleigh, Richard Scarce, Gavin Stewart, Yuriy Vdovychenko.