‘On notice’: Aussies cut US down to size
A RESURGENT Cate Campbell says Australia has put the US "on notice" in the rundown to the 2020 Olympics after its performance at the Pan Pacs in Tokyo.
While the US will win the medal tally comfortably, Australia's performance in the team events has given the swimming superpower food for thought and "taken a little wind out of their sails" two years out from the Tokyo Games.
Campbell was on track to win five medals - possibly all gold - at the titles after qualifying fastest for Sunday night's 50m freestyle final, while the medley relay team was primed to punch above its weight and beat the US to ensure a relay clean sweep for the Aussie women.
Having banished her Rio demons with a win the 100m freestyle earlier in the meet, Campbell also anchored the mixed medley relay and women's sprint relay to gold, while Australia's women won the 4x200m relay to hand America its first defeat in that event at a major championship in almost a decade.
"I think that this team has performed way beyond expectations and we've really stuck it to people (with) the girls winning all three of the relays so far," Campbell said.
"On paper America should be miles ahead of us.
"It just goes to show the grit and determination and the spirit that is really alive in the team and it is wonderful to be a part of it again."
Campbell missed last year's world championships during a post-Olympic sabbatical but has returned to the international scene in outstanding form and said Australia had struck a blow against the US in Tokyo this week.
"I would say we have definitely put them on notice," she said.
"They came into this with their chests all puffed out, and we have kind of taken a little wind out of their sails which has been really nice.
"There are a few less choruses of 'USA' every time they walk past which is always really nice."
Australia has not won the medal tally at a major meet involving the US since 2001 and while there were some bright spots this week, has a way to go before it can claim supremacy.
But the performances of Campbell and Kyle Chalmers, Ariarne Timus and Jack McLoughlin this week are bright spots that suggest the Dolphins are on the right path.
National team director Jacco Verhaeren is not as bullish as Campbell though.
"(The Americans) have a competition within a competition - they're trying to qualify for world championship (places) here and no doubt that has a big impact on their team dynamics," he said.
"Where they used to come together as a team, they're now racing each other for a spot on a world championship team and I think we shouldn't rule those things out.
"They haven't swum their best meet ever but are still pretty dominant in many events, so I've got a lot of respect for what the US is doing and we need to focus on ourselves, that's way more important."
But Verhaeren said Campbell had been a spark for the team this week.
"She always is to be honest," Verhaeren said.
"She's an incredible relay swimmer and she's an incredible athlete all together.
"And I was very happy that she could show that in what is up until now, her best international final ever (in the 100m).
"She's definitely made that step forward, which is very encouraging for her and the whole team."
Campbell said her performances this week "show I am on the right track".
"It's definitely been my most consistent meet in a very long time which is really nice," she said.
"It is probably my most consistent, fastest swimming."