Australia Turns Summer On Its Head To Hold Trials 5 Weeks Out From Majors

Jacco Verhaeren, left, the Australia head coach, has secured the backing of his coaches to switch Australian trials to five weeks out from major events in a four-year plan to Tokyo 2020 - courtesy of Swimming Australia

Australia is shifting to American-style swimming trials five weeks out from major international events after the Dolphins emerged as No2 swim nation at the Rio Olympic Games but nursing a result that included 8 podium misses in its top 9 solo-event medal shots. Four year plan to Tokyo 2020 will see cut in performance centres from 14 to 9 programs to spread budget across the shoal

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Thoughts as follows:

Rationalisation of Podium Centres: Given the cold financial realisation of having to make do with less public sector $$$, such a move was always on the cards. Bohl not currently on the list but the word is that he is making a move to a new centre.

Less Camps: probably a very sound move. Hold them for clear/specific purposes only.

State Head Coaches: will need to see just how this plays out and whether there is a clear purpose to such roles or whether this is just bureaucratic ‘make work’. Maybe this should/will be linked into development/technical frameworks.

Enhancement/fine-tuning the role of the states associations sounds like a complete no-brainer but transferring the conceptual “mission statement” into a reality may be another matter. Unless head office and the grass roots are speaking the same language …..

Greater emphasis on seeking international racing (a return to Mare Nostrum etc mooted) should be applauded. It will however, be curious to see which coaches “walk the walk” with regards to ripping their charges out of their little cocoons … and which ones demur. It will also be curious to see how the funding plays out for such forays.

Warm weather preparations = a no brainer. Again, how far will the $$$$ stretch ??

The big one …… later Trials !! Finally …. along with the realisation that the entire AUS LC season has to readjust. The issue is WHEN exactly are they planning on “rolling this out” for the first time ?

I’ve read somewhere that this will happen in 2018 and, indeed, the earlier they roll this out, and can iron out all the glitches, the better. However this would be an indication that they would be prioritising Pan Pacs (Tokyo in Aug) ahead of CG at home in Apr.

I have long been on the record with the view that the time has well and truly come to “stick a fork” in the CG entity but such a move by Swimming AUS would certainly be seen as “high hatting” the event and somewhat controversial in certain media eyes. Then again, CAN has a similar scenario to look at and the home nations also have the arguably far more prestigeous Euros (at home) in Aug.

The choice to move Trials IS a correct one but should certainly not be seen as a fix-all. The necessary cultural adjustment of AUS swimmers and coaches towards racing is likely to require a couple of generations to play out ….. even in the most optimistic view

Craig Lord

CW: they should and should be able to take the CG in their stride.


In all honesty, Craig; I would roll-out the new AUS season switch/Trials timetable next year. With regards to CG; the team should be selected post Worlds from those swimmers who will NOT be continuing through to Tokyo/planning to collect their superannuation post CG plus whichever younger swimmers that have been swimming something approximating intl class times.

Said team will, no doubt, be less than optimal strength but should be of sufficient quality so as to avoid humiliation ……. who’s knows what will the strength/depth of other nations; some of whom may choose other season priorities or may field lesser teams for $$$ reasons.

Maybe there IS scope for a Summer Nationals meet (ala the US Winter Nats) but whether this can be put in place in time for early next year is another matter. Certainly, AUS should be looking to send deputations to the US Arena Pro-Swim series in future years especially with the proposed season changes.

In summation, Swimming AUS should bite the bullet and implement in 2018. Mistakes will undoubtedly be made and no roll-out is ever perfectly smooth but if you’re going to make mistakes ….. make them early when you have time and opportunity to learn from/remedy them.

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