Bad boys team again for world championships

The men’s 4×100 metre freestyle relay team central to the Stilnox bonding session controversy before last year’s Olympic Games is set to be reunited for the world championships, and will be looking to re-establish itself as the world’s best, according to two of its members.

James Magnussen and James Roberts, speaking after they qualified fastest and 10th for Wednesday night’s national 50 metre freestyle semi-finals, said they were eager to prove that last year’s flop in London, when as world champions and pre-race favourites they finished out of the medals, was just a bad night.

Five of the six swimmers who were disciplined for their bad behaviour at a pre-Olympic Games camp in Manchester qualified for the relay squad by finishing in the top six places of the 100 metre freestyle final of the national titles on Tuesday night. They will team up for the world championships that will start in Barcelona in July.

Eamon Sullivan did not swim as he has taken the year off to recover from a shoulder injury, with Matt Abood the new face.

While Swimming Australia chief executive Michael Scott has indicated that selectors may not chose all eligible swimmers for relay squads, the core of the Olympic relay team will be there and Roberts said they had something to prove.

“We want nothing more… to prove not only to ourselves but to everyone else that we’re up there with the best,” Roberts said.

“I’m really happy to secure that relay spot. The other guys are swimming great and especially it’s awesome to see (Cameron) McEvoy (who came second in the 100 freestyle) come along so far.

“We want nothing more than to get on with the job. It was always going to be a tough few months but I think everyone’s come out really well and the team as a whole is swimming fantastically at this meet.”

Magnussen said he was impressed that his relay teammates had been able to overcome the controversy and swim strongly in Adelaide.

“I think that was one of the real positives out of it that everyone in that team was able to put the past behind them and be able to get out there and do the job on the night,” Magnussen said.

“I think it’s really impressive especially for a young guy like Cam (McEvoy). You put most 18-year-olds in that situation and they’ll probably walk away from the sport, but he’s turned around and had a massive week here and obviously moved on from that quicker than any of us. It’s great that all the guys have turned things around.”

As for the 50 freestyle, Magnussen believed Thursday night’s final would be a blanket finish.

“I don’t know if I can go as quick as I did last year … it may not be as fast as last year, so it will be touch and go between probably about five of us I reckon,” Magnussen said.

In other results, Belinda Hocking was the fastest qualifier for the 200 backstroke semi-finals in two minutes 10.60, Christopher Wright is the fastest from the 100 butterfly heats in 52.59, and Alicia Coutts was the fastest qualifier for the 50 butterfly semi-finals in 27.47. Katie Goldman was the fastest qualifier for Thursday night’s 800 final in 8:33.03.

Daniel Fox (S14) and Taylor Corry (S14) were the fastest qualifiers for the men’s and women’s 100 freestyle multi-class finals respectively.

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