x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Americans and Aussies prepare for epic battle

The Australian swim team and their arch-rivals, the US, get set for what is set to be a titanic battle in Beijing.

Michael Phelps arrived in Asia yesterday.
Michael Phelps arrived in Asia yesterday.

The Australian swim team and their arch-rivals, the United States, bunkered down at pre-Olympic camps yesterday as they fine-tune for what is set to be a titanic battle in Beijing. The Australian squad, including six world record holders, arrived in Kuala Lumpur for their final week-long training session while the Michael Phelps-led Americans dived into neighbouring Singapore. They flew in with all indications that the traditional swimming superpowers will make a big splash in Beijing's futuristic venue, the 'Water Cube', where the 32 swimming events will be held.

The high-tech building, sheathed in a Teflon-like outer membrane that resembles water bubbles, will provide a fitting backdrop for a controversial new piece of swimming technology - Speedo's LZR Racer swimsuit. Swimmers wearing the form-fitting bodysuit have set countless world records in the months since its release in February. But Australia and the United States, and challengers from around the globe, will have to find a way to cope with an unfamiliar format of morning finals and evening heats.

The US team has been rocked by Jessica Hardy's positive doping test in the lead-up. She plans to appeal but her status for Beijing remains uncertain. * AFP