Oz swimming on a Yo Yo diet
THERE were no swimmers with the impact of a Thorpie and only one record fell, first set by 1500m freestyler Hayley Lewis in 1993, at the Commonwealth Games swimming selection trials last week.
But there was a glimmer of hope from the sport that is rebuilding a top-class team, which urgently needs an injection of youth – another Thorpie to revive its reputation as a dangerous unit.
Swimming Australia is lucky a 13-year-old kid like “Yo Yo” bobbed up, who has sparked interest in the team now laden with rookies.
Yolane Kukla, affectionately known as “Yo Yo”, is a natural athlete who has successfully switched from elite gymnastics to swimming.
After suffering a knee injury, she took to swimming like a duck to water. And while most swimmers spend years honing her skills, Yo Yo has shot to stardom after two years of training, excelling in freestyle and butterfly.
A true sprinter, Yo Yo’s disqualification of the 100m freestyle was a blessing in disguise. It’s better to be disqualified in the trials, rather than in a big event, which we learned from Thorpie’s controversial episode before the 2004 Athens Olympics.
It’s not since Leisel Jones burst onto the scene 10 years ago that Australia has had such a world-class “baby” swimmer on the team.
After all the squabbling and restructuring in recent months, which resulted in a new head coach and high-performance manager, Yo Yo is the perfect distraction that swimming desperately needed.
While the swimmers are back in suits of the 1990s after FINA gave the “floating wetsuits” the flick, a herculean effort is needed to break a world record. The only swimmer to break through with a record was 1500m title defender Melissa Gorman, smashing Hayley Lewis’s 1993 record in the 1500m freestyle – an event that doesn’t rely on polyurethane suits.
When Swimming Australia has the luxury of many swimmers competing for an Olympic or Commonwealth Games berth, we often see a string of records – sometimes in the world class.
But this meet has been as flat as a tack, as the retro suits make it near-physically impossible to crack the world marks smashed at the world championships in Rome last year.
New Delhi’s Commonwealth Games should be a revealing meet, with 29 rookies trying to prove themselves and the comeback kings of butterfly, Nick D’Arcy and Geoff Huegill, who are vying for medal-winning finishes.
The rebuilding powers of head coach Leigh Nugent will be tested this year. There is no reason to think Nugent could fall short of expectations. Nugent almost heroically reunited the team in 2003 after Greg Hodge stepped down amid controversy.
Nugent was the driver of the 2004 Olympic success, with Thorpie, Grant Hackett and Jodie Henry blitzing the world. With Yo Yo leading the young brigade, the Australian Dophins could surge ahead with optimism, thanks to strong and stable leadership. It remains to be seen.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…