The Australian Swimming Championships start Thursday and run for the next seven days. Finals will be held from 7:45 pm, which is a perfectly reasonable hour.
The same cannot be said for the Rio Olympics in August, when swimming finals will start at 10 pm and likely carry on beyond midnight because of the U.S. TV audience, which is one hour behind Rio on the east cost and four hours behind on the west.
Assorted officials have had assorted whinges about this situation. “We will prepare for it, but it’s a pretty irresponsible decision that has been made,” said Australia’s head coach, Jacco Verhaeren.
One man not complaining is Australian backstroker Mitch Larkin, who in case you didn't know, is the reigning World Swimmer Of The Year. That's right, Larkin won swimming's highest individual accolade in 2015 for his dual triumphs in 100m and 200m backstroke at the World Swimming Championships in Kazan, Russia.
Here's what Larkin told The Huffington Post Australia on the issue of late night finals:
"To be honest, that’s the last thing on my mind. You’ve prepared for four years and when you’re walking out for a final, you’re not going to be looking at your phone or your watch and saying ‘oh it’s dinner time or it’s bed time, I’ve got better things to do’," he said.
Stop the presses or whatever you stop in a digital age. We've just found Australia's awesomest, uncomplainingest athlete.
And you've got to remember. After the finals there are ceremonies and press conferences. There are manadatory drug tests. There is travel back to the athletes' village. Factor all that in -- along with the wind-down time after such an emotional high -- and you're looking at a bunch of swimmers who'll be lucky to fall asleep before dawn.
Does all this bother Mitch? It does not.
"You’ve just got to set your routines around when the race is on and adjust to that. It’s such a high intense exciting atmosphere at the Olympics. We’ll just try to sleep in later and warm up later. It’s no different to the adjustment to jetlag which we do a lot as Australians."
Love this bloke.
This week's Australian Swimming Championships double as the Olympic selection trials. It's at this event four years ago that Mitch Larkin was accidentally catapulted into swimming's stratosphere.
Larkin was a medley swimmer. But he missed selection in his favoured event, the 400m individual medley. Only the top two qualify for the Olympics and Larkin came third.
"I was pretty upset and disappointed but I’d also entered the 200m backstroke later that week for another swim," Larkin recalled.
"My coach Michael Bohl said ‘you’re fit, it hasn’t been the main focus of your preparation but you’ve done a lot of training and I think you’re ready to go'."
Larkin eventually made the final in 200m backstroke at London 2012. Since then, it's been all about backstroke.
Born on Queensland's Sunshine Coast Mitch Larkin is now 22 and will be 23 in Rio. He'll be unquestionably the best gold medal chance among our male swimmers in Rio. But beyond a chunk of shiny metal around his neck, Larkin has another simple dream. He wants to please his coach.
After winning the 100m backstroke at last year's world championships, he was beaming as he came back to coach Bohl.
"That was solid," the coach said. Not awesome, not amazing, not even good. Just "solid".
"I was like ‘are you kidding me? This is something you dream about as a young kid. This is the win we’ve been really working towards and your answer is solid’?" Larkin recalled.
"But in a way he was right. As soon as you’re complacent then people overtake you, and before you know it they’ve got better speed and better skills. There are always areas to improve. He’s a hard man to please but I just thank him for that.
"But after the worlds, we spent some time together and he said he was really proud and happy and couldn’t have expected anything better. So yeah, if I swim well at Rio, I might get a ‘good’."
Whether he gets a good night's sleep is another story. Not that it really matters because it's daylight between him and the opposition.Suggest a correction