Australia Tokyo Olympics: Queensland wins swimming's State of Origin, but Victoria is on the rise

06:50  24 july  2021
06:50  24 july  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Most Australian Olympic teams have a friendly State of Origin rivalry, and the swimmers are no different.

Queenslanders always have bragging rights.

Of the 37 swimmers representing Australia at the Tokyo Olympics, 15 were born in the Sunshine State and 26 of them train there.

And that doesn't include the Campbell sisters, who were born in Malawi but started swimming in Brisbane and now train in Sydney.

The other states are always sizing each other up, hoping to be the next best.

Tasmania can boast gold medal chance Ariarne Titmus, even though she now resides in Queensland.

South Australia's top gun is Rio champion Kyle Chalmers. Emily Seebohm was born in Adelaide but moved with her family to Queensland when she was two.

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Western Australia has produced Brianna Throssell, Zac Incerti and South African-born Tamsin Cook.

New South Wales now has the Campbell sisters, Se-Bom Lee and Matthew Wilson. Five others were born in NSW but moved north of the border.

Victoria has been the big improver, spruiking one of its best international contingents in Tokyo.

It has three Melbourne-based swimmers: Brendan Smith, Matthew Temple, and Mack Horton.

Another three members of the Big V have recently relocated interstate — that does not include Meg Harris, who was born in Victoria but moved with her family to the town of Mackay when she was very young.

The current head coach of the Australian swimming team is Victorian Rohan Taylor, who helped coordinate remote training programs for athletes all over the country in 2020. Wayne Lawes, another Melbourne-based coach, is also in Japan as part of the Dolphins' coaching staff.

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Swimming Victoria chief executive Jason Hellwig, who was also the former boss of Paralympics Australia, attributes a large part of his state's success to coaching development and support.

"We've worked really hard on a strategy of sustainable improvement and building Victorians, not importing," he said.

Here is his summary of the Victorians who will compete throughout the next week.

Brendan Smith, 21: Trains at Nunawading Swim Club, coached by Wayne Lawes. Smith broke the Australian 400 metres individual medley at the 2021 Olympic trials. He'll also compete in the 200m individual medley. Keen observers call him a "medal chance". (Note: Brendan was born in Queensland but was raised in Victoria.)

Matt Temple, 22: Also trains at Nunawading under Wayne Lawes. Very popular teammate. Built his strength as a part-time labourer on work sites. Temple will compete in the 100m and 200m butterfly. Hopes to make the final.

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Mack Horton, 25: Member of the Melbourne Vicentre Swimming Club, coached by Craig Jackson, Horton is the reigning Olympic 400m freestyle champion. Surprisingly, he missed out on selection for his individual events in Tokyo but will compete as a star relay swimmer. The 4x200m freestyle team is a strong gold medal hope.

Jenna Strauch, 24: Originally from Bendigo, Strauch is now at the Bond University club on the Gold Coast, training under Richard Scarce. She'll make her Olympic debut in Tokyo in 200m breaststroke after swimming a personal best at the trials in Adelaide.

Alexander Graham, 26: Has also moved to the Bond University club and will also make his debut in Tokyo. Another member of Australia's powerful freestyle relay team.

Jess Hansen, 26: Yet another Nunawading Swim Club representative, coached by Scott Talbot. Hansen swum impressively at the trials to finish second in the 100m breaststroke to qualify for her first Olympic team.

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