Golden times beckon Aussie swimmers
COMMONWEALTH GAMES: It has been dubbed the "Ashes of swimming”.
But Cate Campbell can't see the Australian swimming team getting beaten anytime soon in the Commonwealth Games pool despite the looming threat of England.
The Dolphins' dominance was last threatened at the 1986 Edinburgh Games, by Canada.
However, Australia appear as though they may be vulnerable at their home Games after finishing a distant eighth at the 2017 world titles in Budapest with a solitary gold.
In contrast, England is daring to dream after inspiring Great Britain to an equal best second place at last year's world championships with four gold medals.
Former world champion Campbell admits the pressure will be on the Dolphins to set the tone for Australia's Games campaign with success in the pool.
Even Dutch-born Australian head coach Jacco Verhaeren has grasped the importance of the Dolphins thwarting England on the Gold Coast, calling it the "Ashes of swimming”.
But ex-world record holder Campbell does not expect Australia to buckle under the homecrowd pressure despite England's challenge.
"We do set the standard of the meet (for the overall Australian team),” Campbell said.
"But I don't think Australia has ever been beaten in the pool and I don't think this team is going to let that record fall.”
Australia has a tough act to follow, having grabbing its biggest Commonwealth Games pool medal haul at Glasgow in 2014 - 57 including 19 gold.
Verhaeren would no doubt hope it is a good omen that Australia also maintained its vice-like grip on the pool medal tally at its last home Games, in Melbourne in 2006, with 16 gold, double the tally of nearest rival England.
However, Verhaeren wasn't in the mood yesterday to follow Campbell's lead by making bold claims.
At the helm for his second Games, after taking over the reins following the "toxic” London Olympics, Verhaeren knows all too well how quickly the public can turn if his team fails to reach the Australian public's perceived standards.
"It is difficult not to be bothered by it (expectation) too much,” he said. "(But) we want to show the Gold Coast and Australia what we are made of and a team to be proud of.”
For the Dolphins to succeed, they need look no further than Campbell for inspiration.
The 25-year-old marks her return to international competition at the Games after taking a 2017 sabbatical following her shock sixth placing in the Rio Olympic 100m freestyle final.
A rejuvenated Campbell will spearhead a 49-strong team also boasting Olympic champions Kyle Chalmers and Mack Horton and world champion backstroker Emily Seebohm.
"I definitely missed being a part of it in 2017,” Campbell said. "To be back wearing the green and gold makes my heart beat a little bit faster.
"I can't wait to see what we can do over the next couple of days.”