It was a fast and frenetic morning of fierce competition for our Dolphins on the Gold Coast as they took part in a Relay Blitz at Bond University.
Organised as part of their National Event Camp, the surprise activity saw the Dolphins split into two teams – Green v Gold – and battle it out for points across 10 relay events.
These races included men’s and women’s 4x100m freestyle, 4x100m medley, 8x50m freestyle, 5x300m freestyle and a mixed 300m medley.
Speaking before the Blitz kicked off, National Head Coach Rohan Taylor said the element of surprise was vital to achieve their goal of replicating scenarios similar to what they may face in Tokyo.
“We did a lot of activities yesterday which were physical, change over activities and then some team games, just to fatigue them,” he said.
“This morning I basically said, ‘when you get to the Olympic Games you’re going to be fatigued in that environment, you’re not going to be familiar with it and you’re going to be uncomfortable, but you’ve got to compete, and you’ve got to get up in the morning and race – that’s what today is about.
“I said ‘we’re running a door meet, green team v gold team and I introduced the head coaches’ and then they read out the teams, and that was the first they’d (the athletes) heard they were competing.”
Streamed live for free on Swim TV and with fans cheering them on from the sidelines, the athletes put on a strong show – clearly loving their return to the pool as a team.
“It feels great, most of us have really really missed competing, it’s that little bit extra that keeps you motivated throughout the year,” Dolphin leader Cate Campbell said post-race.
“To be able to stand up and see where you are this early in the season at such short notice is a nice surprise.”
And a surprise it was, with Campbell also praising the organisers for keeping the competition under wraps.
“We had a whole meet sprung on us, I’m very impressed with the coaches and staff’s ability to keep secrets,” Campbell added.
After the Dolphins claimed seven relay medals at their last international meet – the 2019 FINA World Championships – it’s clear the strategy to build depth through strong team performances is paying off.
“This middle part of our camp is really focussed on relays,” Taylor explained.
“The other night we had the men’s 4x100m god medallists from Sydney and the women’s 4x200m from Beijing come in and speak to the team at a dinner, so it’s really about just continuing to engage that relay history.
“Going back to my time on the team with Don Talbot, it was about building a strong team through relays and I want to carry that on and continue to revisit that."
With the final results tallied, it was the Green team who took the honours ahead of team Gold.
A replay of the Relay Blitz is now available to watch for free on Swim TV.