Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Dual Olympic 100m freestyle champion Pieter van den Hoogenband has backed James Magnussen to end Australia's 44-year drought in the event in London this year.
The Dutchman was blown away by Magnussen's early season form following his 48.05 seconds in the glamour event at last month's South Australian championships.
On hearing about the time, van den Hoogenband said: "Whoa ... nice."
"That is fast ... and in January."
"I hope his coach knows what he is doing because that is so fast," he added with a laugh.
"He is not shaved. He is not rested."
No Australian has won the sport's premier event at the Olympics since Michael Wenden collected gold at the Mexico City Games in 1968.
But Magnussen has form in making history, having become the nation's first man to win the 100m freestyle world title in Shanghai last year.
Van den Hoogenband thought that Magnussen had his rivals, led by Brazilian world record holder and 2009 world champion Cesar Cielo, covered.
"I really love the way he is swimming," he said.
"Cielo is more powerful, when you see all the water splash whereas James is more smooth.
"He is more natural, for me, I like the natural swimmer."
Cielo holds the world mark of 46.91s that was set in 2009 in one of the now banned supersuits.
Van den Hoogenband, who won the 100m at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, encouraged Magnussen to take on the 200m even if the Australian's camp is wary of putting too much on his plate.
"He should go for it because his stroke is so natural," said the member of the Laureus academy.
"It is good for his second 50m."
Magnussen will have his final hit-out before next month's Olympic trials in Adelaide at the NSW titles in Sydney, starting Friday.
He is expected to contest in the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle.