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Men's freestyle relay Australia's to lose
Liam FitzGibbon
17:06 AEST Wed Jul 18 2012

With the two biggest weapons in sprint swimming in their ranks, the glamour men's 4x100m freestyle relay gold medal is Australia's to lose in London.

That's the opinion of the relay team's coach John Fowlie, but he warns any "stupid" technical or tactical mistakes could cost Australia's first Olympic gold in the event since the famous win at Sydney 2000.

A team led by James Magnussen and James Roberts - the fastest two men in textile suits - has been favourite to win the event since Australia upset the powerful French and US teams at last year's world championships.

And with a likely team blending the 21-year-olds with the experience of veterans Eamon Sullivan and Matt Targett, Fowlie feels Australia are the team to catch in London.

"I really do believe if we do our job and swim to our potential, the gold medal's ours," Fowlie said at the swim team camp in Manchester.

"It's just really making sure we don't do something stupid and screw it up."

Fowlie includes himself as part of the group responsible for that, given it's he who must make the key tactical decisions and selection calls.

While in Magnussen and Roberts he has the two fastest men in the world by some distance, Fowlie has to work out the most effective way to use them.

It appears highly likely world record chaser Magnussen will lead out the team as he did in Shanghai but Fowlie is keeping his cards close to his chest over the order in which the likely team will swim.

The AIS-based coach did hint Australia could use up Magnussen and Roberts in the opening two legs in a bid to blow their opposition out of the water early.

"Traditionally, the men's 4x100 - it's catch me if you can," Fowlie said.

"... It's just a huge advantage leading off with your guns.

"But that's the exciting thing about this team. You could lead off Magnussen, you could lead off Roberts, you could put them back-to-back, or you could bookend it.

"There's so many different dynamics."

Fowlie said Australia's success would also hinge on technical skills, revealing the French team was actually faster in the water in Shanghai last year but Australia's team of Magnussen, Matt Abood, Targett and Sullivan were much quicker with their changeovers.

Fowlie said Australia was seeing the fruits of hosting regular relay training camps and praised the impact of returning greats Ian Thorpe and Michael Klim for helping to create a high-pressure atmosphere for local sprinters before trials in March.

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