A New Kid On The Blocks

The 2011 World Swimming Championships have just concluded in Shanghai. A week of competition, where new champions were made. James Magnussen, is a name we’ll be seeing a lot of in the future.

What an amazing week it’s been for the 20 year old from New South Wales. First, he lead Australia to Gold in the Men’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay, and then he went on to win an individual gold in the 100m freestyle. The individual gold, was Australia’s first in that event for a world championships. Magnussen was also a member of the Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay team, which picked up a Silver medal.

Magnussen was the only shining light in Australia’s campaign. He was involved in the only two gold medals for his country. An overall, disappointing week for a country that is normally up there competing with the US for the number one ranking. Australia finished 7th overall in the medal tally.

Day 1 of the competition saw the Aussie men take out the 4x100m Freestyle Relay. Australia qualified in 5th place for the final, with a time of 3:13.79. They dropped James Roberts & Kyle Richardson for the final. The final team, was lead by Magnussen, along with Matthew Targett, Matthew Abood and Eamon Sullivan. The Australian’s finished in 3:11.00, edging out France for the Gold Medal by 0.14 seconds. Magnussen was the star of the race, grabbing more than half a second lead over his closest competitor Michael Phelps, after the first leg. After the race, Phelps seemed quite excited at the prospects of the up and coming Australian star, saying, “He’s talented, he’s young. I think it’s going to make it exciting for the sport and add something else to that relay, that’s for sure.”

Magnussen, had a strong qualifying campaign at the Australian Short Course Championships in Adelaide in June. He finished 1st in the 100m Freestyle Final. Once in Shanghai, he qualified 2nd in the 100m heats (48.21), and first in the semi (47.90). The final was a dramatic race, with Magnussen slow in the first lap, and then living up to his nickname, coming home like a missile, in the last 25m, storming to gold in a time of 47.63. After the race, Magnussen said, “When I get back to Australia, I will be relaxing with my friends, and it will sound amazing to be called a world champion. It has been six weeks since I have gotten a good night’s sleep. No Australian has won this race at the world championships before, so it is good to be in the same club as the legends of this sport.”

Magnussen finished his campain, with a silver medal in the Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay. The team of Magnussen, Hayden Stoeckel, Brenton Rickard, and Geoff “Skippy” Huegill,  finished in a time of 3:32.26. When Magnussen dived into the pool to start the final leg of the medley, the Australian’s were in 4th place. The amazing split time of 47.00, got Australia over the line for a medal, and were only beaten by 2 tenths of a second, by the US team.

Most of the Australian team are now returning home, where they will endure a short rest, before training starts for the London Olympics! Australian swimming may be at an all time low, but rest assured, there are going to be some records set in London, and our home grown talent, lead by James Magnussen, and with the inclusion of Ian Thorpe, and with much more expected from Leisel Jones, Eamon Sullivan and Stephanie Rice, we should all be excited for next year. Let the games begin!

JP

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