Members of the controversial 4x100m freestyle relay squad will be welcomed back into the team by new swimming head coach Jacco Verhaeren.
All is forgiven for the controversial London Olympic men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team under new Australian swimming head coach Jacco Verhaeren.
Ahead of next week’s Commonwealth Games trials in Brisbane, Verhaeren said the relay squad members who became embroiled in a pre-London Olympic Stilnox drama would only be judged on one criteria before Glasgow – speed.
And Verhaeren has not ruled out the relay squad’s biggest name – James Magnussen – from threatening the 100m freestyle world record at the week-long trials which start on Tuesday.
The fallout from the `Stilnox Six’ drama and the London Games pool debacle prompted sweeping change at Swimming Australia, including Dutch legend Verhaeren taking over the national reins.
Veterans from the relay squad, ex-world record holder Eamon Sullivan and Matt Targett – who have both been disciplined for incidents out of the pool – have nominated for 50m events at next week’s trials.
Verhaeren said they would be welcomed back into a team environment dramatically different to the “toxic” atmosphere in London with open arms.
“If you swim fast you are very welcome and we will make sure everything goes right when you enter the national team,” he said.
“Having that experience in the team is actually more of an advantage and I think these top-level swimmers with their experience are hard to beat.
“I’m looking forward to seeing them race.”
Verhaeren even believed the 4x100m freestyle team had been the yardstick for perfection in recent years – in the pool, that is.
“I think last year and during the Olympics, the men’s 4×100 freestyle actually was the world-best team, the problem was the execution wasn’t world’s best at that time,” he said of the overwhelming gold medal favourites who bombed to finish fourth in the London final.
But Verhaeren – the ex-coach of dual Olympic 100m freestyle champion Pieter van den Hoogenband – could not see anything slowing down Magnussen, hinting a world record may be on offer in Brisbane next week.
The world 100m champion has clocked four sub-48 second times ahead of the trials.
He (47.10 second PB) has come closest to Brazilian Cesar Cielo’s world record of 46.91 set in a now banned performance-enhancing swimsuit in 2009.
“It’s hard to talk about times but he’s at a fantastic level,” Verhaeren said.
“For me, the first objective is to make the team. That might look easy for him but it isn’t.
“Is he able to improve on that 47.10, and go 46? Maybe. Time will tell.”
Verhaeren was not worried that no one held a world record in his ranks despite having world champions Magnussen, Cate Campbell and Christian Sprenger.
“Cate Campbell and James Magnussen would be world record-holders if we never had those suits (banned in 2010), so we have virtual world record-holders,” he said.