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Written by Tommaso D’Orsogna


Short Course, Short Changed

Short course racing is often overlooked in swimmers’ calendars, but is it the short course competitions that are missing out, or is it the swimmers?



The FINA World Championships (25m) are just around the corner. However, you would be forgiven for not knowing when or where they are (December 11th-16th, Hangzhou, China just FYI). Swimming Australia doesn’t tend to put much emphasis on short course, let alone the World Short Course Championships, so high profile Australian and even international swimmers tend to give these championships a miss. But with high-level international racing so sparse here in Australia, is that really the best decision?

Having competed at four of these Championships over the years, I can attest to the high standard of competition that exists there. I raced against Olympic and World champions, even world record holders. Australian swimmers often only get one major international swimming competition a year, making the opportunity to compete at another major international competition even more valuable. We spend so much time training to improve ourselves in competition that we often overlook the importance of actually competing. Short course racing rewards those that have worked hard on perfecting core skills such as starts, turns and dolphin kicking. It provides an opportunity to perfect these skills beyond what is normally possible in long course racing. It’s no surprise the USA excel in all these areas given their heavy reliance on short course yards racing, an even shorter course.

The World Short Course provides swimmers with the opportunity to hone their skills under pressure, both in and out of the pool. Travelling overseas, managing your thoughts and emotions, taking care of your body before, during and after the competition, these are also essential skills that are only perfected with practice. Any swimmer that has been on a few teams will tell you that performing doesn’t just come down to what you do in the water. These championships have always been some of the most enjoyable teams for me. The environment is indeed a little bit more relaxed, a little less pressure, but everything still runs exactly like a long-course World Championships, just few days shorter. In a few days of high-level racing, you’ll learn more about yourself as a swimmer than in a few weeks of training. That’s a guarantee.

This year will feature American superfish, Caeleb Dressel, among other established Olympic and World champions from around the world, including Ben Proud (GBR), Ranomi Kromowidjojo (Ned), Chad le Clos (RSA) and Katinka Hosszu (HUN), just to name a few. It would be erroneous to claim that these championships will showcase anything less than world-class racing. Fortunately, Swimming WA has two swimmers in the 20 strong Australian team who will be taking on some of these water Titans. Nic Brown, WA’s own up and coming butterfly champion, is making his Australian team debut along with sprint-star Holly Barratt, now a regular face on the Australian Swimming Team. Fellow Aussie champions Mitch Larkin, Emily Seebohm, Cameron McEvoy and, making his much-anticipated return, Thomas Fraser-Holmes, will also be along for the ride.

These championships also provide a stepping-stone for aspiring Australian swimmers. Many swimmers over the years have made their debut for Australia at the World Short Course and then have gone on to make even more teams. WA’s Brianna Throssell made her debut at the 2012 World Short Course Championships in Istanbul, going on to then become an Olympian and Commonwealth Games representative.

So, for all the swimmers out there, turn it up and give short course a fair go. You never know how things might turn out for you.

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