Swimming Australia - 2 February 2016
Brisbane’s humble dual backstroke world champion Mitch Larkin was as shocked but as excited as anyone after being named the FINA Male Swimmer of the Year for 2015 overnight, the first Australian ever to do so.
Larkin and his coach Michael Bohl were honoured at the World Aquatics Gala - "Soirée des Etoiles" (Evening of the Stars), held in the iconic Vigado Concert Hall, in Budapest.
FINA, the international governing body of swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and open water swimming, last night awarded the best athletes across their six disciplines, with the highlight of the awards being the presentation of Larkin and Hungary’s “Iron woman” Katinka Hosszu as the two major award winners.
Michael Bohl, head coach at the St Peters Western Podium Centre was also recognised with a FINA coaching award for his efforts in taking Larkin to the top of the world at this year’s FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.
Larkin was unable to attend the Gala evening and sent his apologies and acceptance via a video message.
Larkin admits he still has to pinch himself when he looks back over 2015 – the year the 22-year-old engineering student from Brisbane scorched all comers to put backstroke swimming back on the world map – with two stunning gold medal swims over 100 and 200m and a new short course world record in the 200m.
Not since the heady days of Aaron Peirsol and before him Lenny Krazelburg has there been a backstroke swimmer who has had an immediate impact on the sport of swimming.
“It’s been a really fantastic year for me in the pool…crazy really,” Larkin, said today in Brisbane as he prepared to join his Australian Dolphins team mates for this week’s Perth Aquatic Super Series at HBF Stadium on February 5 and 6.
“(Michael) Phelps had a fantastic year. He didn’t race at World’s but his results were fantastic as were all the swimmers in Kazan but the fact that no other Australian has ever won this award is a pretty amazing honour.
“It’s only now that you sit back with your coach and look back at all the swims; it’s not until you put them all next to one other and think ‘wow, that’s pretty incredible’
“My best in the 200m before this year was 1:55 and I wasn’t breaking 53 for the 100m…. and I’ve now done it 12 odd times this year and 53 four times as well.
“I guess when you put that all down, plus the Short Course as well, and all the swims in Kazan and the World Cups it’s been a crazy year.
“But I think it sets me up well for 2016 for sure.
“I’m really happy with the team I have. My coach Michael Bohl is a fantastic coach and he certainly deserved his recognition. Tom Barton (physiotherapy and yoga) and Rory McGuire (Science Of Fitness) they are amazing as well.
“Having a happy team that I trust and I’m really comfortable with is the key to swimming fast for me.
“Bohly has made sure I’m pretty grounded and not to get ahead of myself and while I was happy to break that world record in the 200m short course in Sydney, his word was ‘solid’ and that’s because he saw the bigger picture.
“If I swim well at Olympic Trials he will still be exactly the same, it’s not the final piece in the puzzle, even at world’s he was the same after my 100m backstroke win.”
The Dolphins will gather in Perth tomorrow to prepare for their first international competition of the year against China and Japan in the Perth Aquatic Super Series.
THE LARKIN FILE
December 2014: FINA World Short Course Champion, 100m backstroke, (49.57) Doha
FINA World Long Course Champion, 100m backstroke (52.40) Kazan;
FINA World Long Course Champion, 200m backstroke (1:53.58) Kazan;
FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup, 1st 100m backstroke (52.48), 1st 200m backstroke (1:53.34) Tokyo;
2015 FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup, 1st 100m backstroke (52.26), 1st 200m backstroke (1:53.80) Doha;
2015 FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup, 1st 100m backstroke (52.11), 1st 200m backstroke (1:53.17) Dubai;
2015Australian Short Course Championships, Sydney, 1st 200m backstroke (1:456.63, world record).
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