Australia: No wonder James The Missile Magnussen laughed as he posed for a photo at the iconic North Sydney pool and told reporters: "No, this is definitely it - my very last photograph. From now until my race in London, I'll sort of disappear a bit. Fly under the radar. From now on, it's best if I can keep the rest of the world guessing." Guessing? Perhaps he meant the colour of the shoes he'll wear walking out for the 100m final. Something like that. Magnussen, world champion, the fastest man ever in a textile suit on a 47.10 at Aussie trials and in line to become the first Dolphin to claim the Olympic blue ribband title since Mike Wenden in 1968, has not been one to hide his obvious light under a bushel. Stealth mode has not been for him. Collect the media database of his quotes from 2012 alone and you're just about ready to publish a book. Yet here it is at last: London 2012 lockdown. Much talk in the final hour of Magnussen being hard for rivals to read. He can be (is) fast out and he's definitely the best-man-home we've ever seen. "So that ability to change up a race plan has really worked in my favour," said The Missile as he headed for cover. "It means the other guys don't really have a chance to work out ways to beat you. It's about keeping your cards close to your chest. I'll still go down to Canberra and do some training with the Australian team, but that will be it." At 47.10, the cards are on the table. The question is: who can catch him?
USA: American coach to generations of talent, Eddie Reese, once told me, in reference to a question on America's role in helping others to beat her own in the race pool, that Man was "put on earth to help each other" and that that was the "best thing that you can do". A simple and wonderful thought. So hurray to Casey Barrett and a column under the provocative title The NCAA is Un-American. Barrett, born a Canadian in the US, is a pupil of the Bolles school (where Gator head coach Gregg Troy once led the way in Barrett's day), no longer there in Florida and no longer in the race pool but forever part of the swim family is what they tell you when you visit the Gator programme. I had the privilege of doing just that of late. The university of life, with swimming a lightning rod to wider experience and learning, is what you find there. The Gators is just one example of this scenario; when a Gator steps up as an American, a Brit, a Canadian, a member of a team from South America, Africa, Asia, at a world championship, he or she not only has those waving the same flag on side but folk from all over the world who have worked alongside each other. Much strength in all of that. The bureaucracy of sport decided that its world would also be divided into nations and there is merit and pride in that - but as Eric Liddell, an Olympic champion born in China of Scottish parents whose path pointed to the difference between human and national colours, indicated: the human, the common currency of us all, is king.
Italy: the courage of breaststroke specialist Paolo Bossini reaches the Italian media today. Against medical advice, he has returned to swimming after an operation for Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer originating from white blood cells. Bossini has endured 10 months of treatment and is now "back in the water for a new challenge", he tells the ANSA agency. Just 19 days ago he was on the operating table. Today he is to be found swimming laps once more. "I have a fresh scar and there are points that pull on me yet. But [during the 10 months] I kept thinking 'it's a painful time but I have to come back here [to the pool]. The doctors say it I'm now a case study. I'm now I training for London 2012." Hope alive. Bossini said that under the circumstances, crying would only make matters worse. He resolved to think in the opposite direction, a return to the water his incentive. "I told my wife 'don't you treat me like a sick man, I'm a normal person who has a problem'. And if you're lucky, you come out better than before. See life from a different perspective. When you touch the reality of cancer, it's best to favour the slightest breeze running through your hair," said Bossini.
USA: Swimming World has undertaken a hefty exercise in analysing the timing problems experienced recently at the European Championships in Debrecen. Well worth a trawl to see what it may all mean for London 2012.
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