New coach lays out ambitious goal for Australian Swim Team

Jacco Verhaeren

Australia’s new swimming coach wants an Aussie in every final at the 2016 Olympics.

”The aim for Rio, but especially for 2020, is to have finalists in every final, so that means we have to work on more depth in the team, but at the same time the people we do have and the youngsters that we have coming, we have to maximize their performances,” said Jacco Verhaeren, the Dutchman who once guided Netherlands greats Pieter van den Hoogenband and Inge de Bruijn, in comments posted by The Age.

Verhaeren was hired in October to replace Leigh Nugent, who stepped down last March after a poor Olympic showing. Verhaeren’s goal is to reverse Australia’s recent Olympic fortunes.

The Aussies showed a notable decline in swimming medals at the 2012 Olympics with 10 total and one gold. They had won 18 medals in 2000, 15 in 2004 and 20 in 2008.

Swimming is one of the nation’s most popular sports, but few athletes have risen to fill podium voids left by aging or retired superstars Ian ThorpeGrant HackettLibby Trickett and Stephanie Rice.

How ambitious is Verhaeren’s goal of Aussies making every Olympic swimming event final?

Well, Australians made 27 of 32 pool finals in 2008 and 24 of 32 in 2012.

‘‘I think we know the gaps that are there to cover,’’ Verhaeren said, according to the report.

Australia’s star swimmers are sprint freestylers James Magnussen and Cate Campbell, and Aussies are still relay forces, but the nation has been lacking gold medal hopes in backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and individual medleys the last few years.

They’ll get a chance to show improvement at the Commonwealth Games in July and August and, in a more competitive meet, the Pan Pacific Championships against the U.S. and others three weeks after that, in Australia.

Sochi could host World Swimming Championships

Coco Gauff into French Open quarterfinals, where Iga Swiatek may await

Coco Gauff French Open

Coco Gauff swept into the French Open quarterfinals, where she could play Iga Swiatek in a rematch of last year’s final.

Gauff, the sixth seed, beat 100th-ranked Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 7-5, 6-2 in the fourth round. She next plays Swiatek or 66th-ranked Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko, who meet later Monday.

Gauff earned a 37th consecutive win over a player ranked outside the top 50, dating to February 2022. She hasn’t faced a player in the world top 60 in four matches at Roland Garros, but the degree of difficulty is likely to ratchet up in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

Swiatek won all 12 sets she’s played against Gauff, who at 19 is the only teenager in the top 49 in the world.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Also Monday, No. 7 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia dispatched 36th-ranked American Bernarda Pera 6-3, 6-1, breaking all eight of Pera’s service games.

Jabeur, runner-up at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year, has now reached the quarterfinals of all four majors.

Jabeur next faces 14th-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia, who won 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-5 over Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo, who played on a protected ranking of 68. Haddad Maia became the second Brazilian woman to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal in the Open Era (since 1968) after Maria Bueno, who won seven majors from 1959-1966.

Pera, a 28 year-old born in Croatia, was the oldest U.S. singles player to make the fourth round of a major for the first time since Jill Craybas at 2005 Wimbledon. Her defeat left Gauff as the lone American singles player remaining out of the 35 entered in the main draws.

The last American to win a major singles title was Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought matches the longest in history (since 1877) for American men and women combined.

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U.S. earns first three-peat in Para hockey world championship history

Para Ice Hockey
International Paralympic Committee

The U.S. trounced rival Canada 6-1 to become the first nation to three-peat in world Para hockey championship history.

Tournament MVP Declan Farmer scored twice, and Josh Misiewicz, David Eustace, Jack Wallace and Kevin McKee added goals. Jen Lee made eight saves in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, on Sunday.

Farmer, who had nine goals in five games for the tournament, also scored twice in Paralympic final wins over Canada in 2018 and 2022 and the last world championship final against Canada in 2021. Farmer, 25, already owns the career national team record of more than 250 points.

The U.S. beat Canada in a third consecutive world final dating to 2019, but this was the most lopsided gold-medal game in championship history. The U.S. also won the last four Paralympic titles dating to 2010.

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