Swimming

Australia swim coach defends team's flop at world champs

Australia's swimming head coach Jacco Verhaeren has defended his team's poor showing in Budapest, where the former swimming power slumped to its lowest world championships medal haul in nearly 30 years.

They managed only a solitary gold by Emily Seebohm, who retained her 200m backstroke title, and finished eighth overall on the medals table headed by the dominant United States.

The meagre haul came less than a year after Australia's Olympic team arrived in Rio with eight of the world's leading times but won only three golds.

The Budapest blow-out will do little to allay concerns that Australia's top swimmers wither in the spotlight of major events, but Verhaeren said he was "very proud" of his team's efforts in Hungary, reported The Australian newspaper.

"(This result) reflects where we are at and where some of our medal contenders are in terms of their preparation," said the Dutchman.

Australia's Olympic 100m freestyle champion Kyle Chalmers missed the meet due to heart surgery, while former 100m world champion James Magnussen skipped it to rest before next year's Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

Former 100m freestyle world- record holder Cate Campbell also sat it out, while her sister Bronte's title defence in the sprint was hampered by shoulder injuries.

But there were some notable setbacks, with Cameron McEvoy missing out on a podium spot in the 100m freestyle and Mitch Larkin crashing badly in his defence of both his 100 and 200 backstroke titles.

Australia's failure to win a medal in any of the men's relays was also a surprise and sparked criticism of the team's tactics by absent swimmer Magnussen.

Verhaeren, who had coached Dutch greats Peter van den Hoogenband and Inge de Bruijn, has pushed Australia's swimmers to compete in more overseas events after the Rio debacle.

He said the different preparations may not have helped all his swimmers at Budapest.

"Emily Seebohm and Emma McKeon really like this way of preparing and they swam themselves into the meet, so for some that works great. For others, it's more of a gamble." - REUTERS

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