Olympic gold medallists Alicia Coutts, Melanie Schlanger and Cate Campbell will headline the EnergyAustralia Swim Team for the inaugural 2013 BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series in Perth this January.
Swimmers will compete for half a million dollars in prize money in what will be the first time the EnergyAustralia Swim Team has swum at home since 2009. The opposition for two days of battle in then water: China and South Africa. Top team gets Aus$100,000 for its war chest; top man and woman get 15,000; Relay wins get 8000; 2,500 on offer for a solo event win.
The series is Australia's response to the loss for its Duel with the United States after the world No1 turned its attentions to a clash with Europe that has yet to develop into the fascinating meet that it could be, swimming's answer to the Ryder Cup.
Australia's 30-strong team will include Olympic silver medallists James Magnussen and Christian Sprenger in action, while the wider event will include a water polo tournament and an Open Water Challenge in the beautiful Swan River, scene of the inaugural FINA world title back in 1991, for elite and recreational swimmers alike.
The latter is an effort to borrow commercial entity from athletics, in which elite marathon runners race for prestige as well as prizes as the amateurs and their entry fees compete in their own challenge of fun, fitness and raising funds for charity.
Dolphins head coach Leigh Nugent nodded to the need to be battle-ready by the time Rio 2016 comes round, adding: “China won five gold medals in London and are a renowned force in world swimming, while South Africa has plenty of talent in the pool as well. This meet is not only a great opportunity to race for many of the swimmers so early in the calendar year, but also a great chance for our athletes to come together and race as the Australian team.”
Sprenger, now 26 and still breaking Australian short-course records - his latest falling in the 100m breaststroke at the Singapore round of the world cup last weekend, looked back on a fine year and his London 2012 silver in the 100m but has already turned his mind to the challenge ahead against the Olympic champion: "It has been a year to remember that’s for sure, and hopefully my form can carry through to January. I had a real battle with South African Cameron Van der Burgh during the Olympic final and to race swimmers of his quality, right here in Australia is a great opportunity for us."
Cate Campbell, 20, is looking forward to the challenge at the height of the Australian summer: “It was a mixed Olympic Games for me, winning gold on the opening night was fantastic but then getting sick during the meet wasn’t part of the plan, so it will be nice to get back in the water to race. To represent Australia is always a great honour and something we all look forward to, but to do it in Perth, in front of home crowd will be special."
The Australia coaching staff includes Denis Cotterell, who also coaches half the China team for a part of the year.
Prizes will be given for
The money in Aus$: