Missile ticking over just nicely for Games trials
JAMES Magnussen is confident he will be back near his best by next month's Commonwealth Games trials, in a position to qualify for a championship he considers as important as any he's ever competed in.
Magnussen rounded out his preparations for the trials with a second placing to Cameron McEvoy in the 100m freestyle at the NSW state championships on Friday night, touching the wall only marginally behind the Gold Coaster.
While McEvoy will head into the trials as the only man to break the 49-second barrier this season following his 48.99 effort on Friday, Magnussen's finish gave him great confidence he could close the gap.
The man known as the "Missile" fired the opening salvo of the season, winning the Queensland title last month.
But his 49.11sec for second on Friday night was an effort that gave him great confidence his return from a shoulder reconstruction is finally reaching a crescendo.
"I've just gone into a different phase in my training now, so I'm feeling a bit sore and sorry for myself but I was pretty happy with the way I put that race together, another 5m I reckon I would have got there but I felt good," he said.
Magnussen won a pair of world titles and established a fearsome reputation as one of the world's best finishers with his searing back-end speed, something he is finally rediscovering.
"I did some really good back ends overseas in Europe this season just trying to get back to that mentality of coming home fast and being really relaxed and comfortable on the way out," he said.
"Probably since my shoulder surgery I haven't been as fit as I was in the past, so I wasn't really backing myself in those second 50m but now I feel I'm fit enough that I can go back to that race plan."
And in the five weeks before Games trials, he is confident he can take further strides.
"It's pretty simple for us now, we're just working on getting speed and power," he said.
"As you saw tonight, the only area where Cam beat me was probably the first 25m, so I'll just go back and work on that speed, that power and then by trials I want to be getting out a second faster than that at the same effort level. That's where I need to be."
Commonwealth Games would usually be a blip on the radar for Magnussen, who has experienced the highs and lows of sprint swimming at world championships and Olympics.
But competing on the Gold Coast would be the culmination of a long recovery after his 2015 shoulder surgery.
"This is everything I've worked for, for the last two years," he said. "So for me, this would be as big a competition as I've ever had because of the work I've put in and the work that I know everyone around me has put into this."
Magnussen will round out his Games trials preparation in the 50m on the final day of the NSW state championships on Sunday.