Olympic great Susie O'Neill believes the current Australian swimming squad may lack the work ethic of previous teams.
O'Neill's comments came as Australia faces its lowest Olympic medal haul in 20 years in London and the prospect of not having an individual gold medallist for the first time since Montreal 1976.
But Australian head coach Leigh Nugent has refuted the suggestions, saying O'Neill's comments are inaccurate.
O'Neill, now a commentator and analyst for Fox Sports, won the second of two individual gold medals at the Sydney 2000 Olympics under the tough regime of former coach Don Talbot and said present Australian swimmers may not be working hard enough.
"It's really difficult in my situation to feel like I'm bagging the current athletes, and it's easy to do that as a past athlete, but what I've been hearing a little bit from different people is work ethic from Australian swimmers is maybe not the same as it used to be 10 years ago," O'Neill said during Fox Sports' Olympic coverage.
"I'm probably going to get bagged for that comment."
The squad's only gold medal came from the women's 4x100m freestyle relay on the opening night and there were no additions to the tally of five silver and two bronze medals on Thursday night.
Nugent said while he respected O'Neill and she was entitled to her opinion, the suggestions were wrong.
"I don't think that's accurate really. What's work? Is it volume or how often you train? How much dry land you do? Everyone does different things," Nugent said.
"You need to be specific when you're making statements like that.
"I don't think anyone could have trained harder than Nick D'Arcy, he trained his backside off .... no-one could have trained harder than Steph Rice with the limitations that she had ... Bronte Barratt trained hard, real hard.
"Susie's entitled to her opinion, she might be listening to the comments or opinions of one or two other people."
Nugent did acknowledge there needed to be an "elevation of work" in the middle distance area of the squad.
Asked whether he was happy with his entire squad's work ethic, he replied: "I suppose, without talking about every individual athlete, there'll be someone on every team that perhaps didn't do what you'd like them to do 100 per cent.
"Generally our team has prepared pretty well."
Nugent did not want to wager into suggestions by Queensland coach Ken Wood, who has worked with Chinese teen sensation Ye Shiwen that Australia's women "are carrying too much weight".
"I'll leave Ken to his comment, I think you can see them out there," Nugent said.