The Campbell sisters have been joined by Brittany Elmslie, Shayna Jack, and Emma McKeon, as well as three rising stars in Canberra’s Abbey Webb, Natasha Ramsden (NSW) and Eliza King (Queensland).
Cate Campbell rebuilt herself after a forgettable Rio campaign to be installed as a member of the Australian Dolphins’ leadership group alongside her sister, Mitch Larkin, Alex Graham and Jess Hansen.
It means the prospect of mentoring the next generation for a week in Canberra sits just fine with the 26-year-old.
“I am the oldest girl down here, so with age, leadership often comes along. It is really important to foster the young swimmers because I won’t be in the sport forever,” Campbell said.
“I will eventually be transitioning out, so you want to make sure you’ve got a good, well-rounded crop of swimmers to fill that space.
“I’m really excited for the next 18 months, it’s really motivating knowing you’ve only got 18 months to go until an Olympic Games. We do live in a sport where it is a four-year cycle, and we have world championships later this year, so selection trials for that are in June.
“This camp will be a great way to see how we’re going against the rest of the girls, because they will have to compete against them for a spot on the world championship team as well.”
Campbell says Australia’s world record-holding quartet need to “keep up with the rest of the world” as the 4x100m freestyle gets faster, but she won’t be putting pressure on herself after the Australian Olympic Committee scrapped medal targets.
“I never set myself a medal target, because that is completely outside of my control. What I can control is how I perform in a race,” Campbell said.
“That’s what the AOC are doing, it’s empowering athletes, it’s allowing them to take control of their races. If I swim my best ever time, if someone else swims faster than me, I gave everything I could and that doesn’t mean I’m a disappointment or a failure.
“What the AOC have done is back athletes to back themselves. They are not looking at unrealistic targets, either too many medals or too few medals.
“They’ve allowed athletes to say they’re going to stand up and perform at their best. Australians should back them no matter what.”
Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times