A lifeline has been thrown to Australian Mack Horton after the Olympic champion was handed entry to two individual events at this month’s world swimming titles despite failing to qualify.
Horton only made the 27-strong Dolphins squad for the July 12-28 world aquatic championships in South Korea thanks to the discretionary powers of head coach Jacco Verhaeren.
The Rio 400m champion was set to feature only in the 4x200m relay team after bombing out in his pet event and also missing selection for the 200m and 800m freestyle at last month’s world titles trials in Brisbane.
However, Horton is a confirmed starter in the 400m and 800m freestyle at Gwangju this month after Verhaeren unveiled his world titles entry list on Friday.
The top two in each final in the six-day world titles trials in Brisbane earned Dolphins selection for South Korea providing they also finished under the tough qualifying time.
Horton failed to do either in the 200m, 400m and 800m but still had his name read out with the Dolphins team.
Yet Verhaeren backed Horton to come good at the world titles, guessing the gold medallist had found it hard to adjust to his training program after ditching his beloved 1500m freestyle last year.
“Mack has a little bit more of an emphasis by dropping the 1500m, his training regime changed a little bit,” Verhaeren said.
“There’s a bit of guess work at the moment but I would think it takes a while to digest that program.
“I think he will get there but sometimes a minor change in program, going from a real distance swimmer at 1500m to a higher intensity (in 200m and 400m) gets in the way.
“Obviously he is disappointed that he is not swimming the time that he had in mind, you want your competition to be a reflection of your training but it isn’t.
“And then you have to look at why that didn’t happen (at trials) and what did we miss there.”
While Horton scraped in, a big name omission in the 27-strong squad is defending world champion Emily Seebohm.
The 12-year national team veteran missed the world titles cut at the trials after missing a top-two finish in the 100m and 200m backstroke.
Seebohm had been aiming to not only make an unprecedented seventh world titles team but also become the first woman to win three straight 200m backstroke world titles.
In a changing of the guard, junior world record holder Minna Atherton and 17-year-old Kaylee McKeown are confirmed starters for the 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke for Australia in South Korea.