Swim team welcomes Craig Stevens - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Swim team welcomes Craig Stevens

By Todd Balym 08/03/2006 07:37:04 PM Comments (0)

Craig Stevens wasn't exactly the late arrival the Australian swim team were expecting, but they were still delighted to see him.

Stevens arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday after a whirlwind 24 hours where he had gone from Games outcast to last-minute replacement for Ian Thorpe who withdrew with illness.

The Sydney swimmer, who famously stepped aside to give Thorpe a 400m swim at the Athens Olympics, had a final training session with Tracey Menzies at Sutherland in the morning before flying economy class to Melbourne at midday.

He walked into the Australian team camp receiving a standing ovation from his teammates.

"It's been a quick couple of days but I'm very excited to be here," Stevens said.

"I got the call up on Monday night and had to train twice yesterday and go and do all the media.

"It's all been very quick but I'm excited."

Stevens won the 400m freestyle at the national trials but was not quick enough to earn a spot on the 45-person team.

He skipped the 1500m freestyle due to a lack of preparation but has changed his tune after five weeks solid work and will race the event at Melbourne giving Australia two entrants to challenge favourite David Davies of Wales.

"Training has been going really well so I might be able to pull something out of the bag," he said.

"I'm hoping to (make the 1500m final) and then go on to win a medal."

Head coach Alan Thompson has seen Stevens train in recent weeks and believes the 25-year-old will improve from his trials efforts and perhaps match his 1500m bronze medal from Manchester in 2002.

"My initial expectation would be I'm confident Craig will improve his time from the trials in the 400m and I think he will post a very competitive 1500m time as well," he said.

"It is good for us to have another swimmer in the 1500m and to have someone of Craig's calibre wanting to do that event."

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