Australia: James Magnussen, The Missile on a sprint mission to become the first Aussie to win the Olympic blue ribband crown in the pool since Mike Wenden in 1968, is happy in his alpha male skin. In recalling his days as a 16-year-old rugby league player, the 21-year-old world 100m freestyle champion and fastest ever in a textile suit on 47.10sec in March, tells Fairfax papers Down Under: "If there was a bit of push and shove, I relished that. I've never taken being pushed around very well. I like to be somewhat of an alpha male in a lot of situations." He adds: "When I stand up on the blocks at something like the world championships, and I'm the youngest guy there by five or six years, and not always the biggest guy either [don't be fooled, though - he's big], it's an attitude that I have to have. I'm not going to take any rubbish from anyone." What it takes.
USA: Dara Torres will not be the only fortysomething at US Olympic trials in Omaha, Nebraska, after Erika Braun, 40 and a director of human resources for a local company in Raleigh, clocked 26.32sec over 50m freestyle at the College Station meet. Torres will attempt to make 6th Olympic Games at the age of 45 and as 24sec plus swimmer is the forty something in line for selection and subsequent podium placing as the oldest woman medallist in Olympic swimming history. At College Station, Torres won the 50 in 25.43. Braun, of Louisville, swam for the University of Georgia way back and raced at US Olympic trials in 1988. Braun told the North Raleigh News that she left the water for 12 years but got back in shape for the masters racing last year. At trials she will join a club of three fortysomethings, with Torres and Steve West.
Australia: Mount Isa Aquatics was recently awarded the Swim Australia Outstanding Community Service Award for its work developing swimming in Mount Isa and the North West region of Australia. Club director Brian Rodriquez, who received the prize from Australian Olympians Emily Seebohm and Brittany Elmslie and coach Laurie Lawrence, gave a speech at the Swimming Australia national conference at which Mr Rodriquez delivered a 30-minute lecture about what he had learnt from coach Bill Sweetenham. "It was a fantastic opportunity to talk about the lessons and support Bill has given me over the years." One signpost that Rodriguez didn't require was a step-by-step guide to digging deep and building your own pool in a back yard to provide the facilities required if you want swimmers to swim. Much water under the bridge since Sweetenham, with a little help from friends and the mercy of Mount Isa Mines, did just that. These days, Rodriguez needs no spade, his time and energy available for talks on best teaching methods with Lawrence at a programme that caters for infants, developers, national-team aspirers and those who are in it for safety, life skills, health and fitness. The wilder side of remoteness lives on, however. Last year, Rodriquez made the news when a crocodile "wandered" into Mount Isa's aquatic centre, with a little helping hand. "I think it's safe to say it had a bit of help getting over the fence," Rodriguez told AAP at the time. Tall tales came into play too: Mt Isa police Inspector Paul Biggin, reporting the croc caught, told media: "It seems to have grown in length with each report. The police who initially went there told me when they rounded it up it was about half a metre long. I'm now hearing it's about 1.2, 1.5 metres long. I'll go with the half metre." Unlikely to trouble folk who live in a land where you can shove your foot in a slipper and drop dead if the wrong spider happens to have popped in for a nap.