'Dead in water' U.S. team expects slow start in Kazan

Tue Jul 28, 2015 4:03am EDT
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By Steve Keating

(Reuters) - USA Swimming was rubbing its hands with glee when it announced a squad packed full of gold medal winners and record breakers for the 2015 world championships, but that was a year ago and the team that lands in Kazan may need time to fire on all cylinders.

Twelve months can be an eternity in the pool and while Katie Ledecky and Ryan Lochte take huge reputations to Russia, the form they were in then and where they are now are likely to be poles apart.

Normally U.S. teams arrive at major global meets battle hardened and razor sharp from do-or-die qualifying events but for Kazan, a group picked from results at last year's national and Pan Pacific championships has left swimmers idling.

"It is going to be a big challenge for this group, we don't come off a selection meet," men's head coach Dave Durden said.

"This team has been 12 months in the making, so we kind of lose a little bit of the momentum that you have from the trials heading into a championship format.

"We're going to have to generate that, we're kind of starting dead in the water."

There may be some uncertainty about what to expect from the 47-strong squad but even so, the United States is still expected to take home a lion's share of the medals.

The Kazan championships will also provide a valuable litmus test for a team heading to Russia without talisman Michael Phelps, banned by U.S. Swimming from competing at the world's after being convicted of a drink driving offense late last year.   Continued...

Members of Team USA perform in the synchronised swimming team technical final at the Aquatics World Championships in Kazan, Russia July 27, 2015. REUTERS/Michael Dalder