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Aussie swim team rolls out the tanks
Doug Conway, AAP Senior Correspondent
22:48 AEST Mon Jul 23 2012

Like Soviet tanks and missile launchers rumbling through Red Square in a May day parade of the Cold War era, Australia's Olympic swim team has rolled out some of its most intimidating firepower in London.

Australia's very own "Missile", James Magnussen, led a quartet of swimmers picked to front the world media on Monday.

The Aussies could safely leave James "Rocket" Roberts at the athletes' village without diluting the weaponry.

For joining Magnussen were Eamon Sullivan, Stephanie Rice and "Lethal" Leisel Jones, world champions, Olympic champions or world record holders all.

Between them they own 13 Olympic medals, six of them gold - no mean haul considering Magnussen hasn't yet raced in the Olympics and Rice made her debut in Beijing four years ago.

If the Australian swim team takes home any less than 15 medals from London, it will be their leanest year since Atlanta in 1996, a statistic which underlines how high they set the bar.

But what a punch they pack.

Rice won three gold medals in 2008, all in world record time.

Jones has won three golds and eight in all, just one behind Australian record holder Ian Thorpe.

In London she will become the first Australian swimmer, male or female, to appear in four Olympics.

Sullivan, with a silver and bronze to his name, is a former world 50m and 100m record holder and a member of the sprint relay team which currently holds the world title.

Magnussen, the reigning world 100m champion, commanded most attention of all.

The Brazilians wanted to know if he was scared of their own champ, world record holder Cesar Cielo (he isn't), and whether he expects to break Cielo's record (he thinks it's a distinct possibility but is intent solely on winning).

Everyone wanted to know how the Aussies were feeling psychologically.

Jones said it was great to be feeling no pressure, after cracking her individual gold duck in Beijing.

Sullivan is all business, without feeling the need for "death stare" mind games with his rivals.

Rice, believe it or not, is more about process than outcomes and reckons anything beyond making a final will be "truly a blessing". It's how she operates best.

Perhaps the most chilling response came from Magnussen, who said his biggest competition was himself. By that he meant freeing his head space from the pressure of high expectations.

Magnussen has made many audaciously confident comments in the past but as the Games draw nearer he appears to be following the century-old advice of former US President Theodore Roosevelt.

He speaks softly but carries a big stick.

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