SUPREME ATHLETES: Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky will spearhead the US swim team's bid for glory in the pool in Rio.
SUPREME ATHLETES: Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky will spearhead the US swim team's bid for glory in the pool in Rio. Mark J. Terrill

Superstars and stripes touch down in Rio

SWIMMING: The Australian and US swim teams have been eyeing each other across the pool deck in Rio, but trash talking is apparently absent - so far.

Not that the Americans - with world-beaters Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky among their ranks - are lacking confidence.

After touching down in Brazil on Tuesday they headed to the Olympics Aquatic Centre and, following a short pep talk from coach David Marsh, announced their arrival with a group clasping of hands and a loud shout of "USA”.

They are a powerful unit and a disconcerting sight for their rivals - but perhaps not as off-putting as seeing a superbly trim Phelps going through his paces in his stars and stripes togs, or the memory of the US swim team's 31 medals, including 16 gold, in London in 2012.

Australia's Cameron McEvoy, a huge chance of securing Australia's first 100m freestyle men's gold since 1968, conceded the Americans had a certain presence but played down any intimidation factor.

"A lot of us are really, really good friends with the Americans,” he said.

"It was excitement to see them coming because there's some familiar faces in the village, and because there's so many of them, there's more probability that you are going to run into them in the village.

"They are a powerhouse team and you can definitely feel their presence in the pool. That was pretty exciting this morning to see them coming in.”

There is no denying the historic rivalry between the US and Australia teams, however, but perhaps the Americans will be wary of poking a verbal stick at their traditional foes.

US 100m relay anchor Gary Hall jnr made that mistake at the Sydney Games in 2000, boasting that he and his teammates would smash the Australians "like guitars”.

Fired up by the taunt and swimming at home, the Australian team of Michael Klim, Chris Fydler, Ashley Callus and Ian Thorpe did the smashing - breaking the world record of 3min 15.11sec by 1.44sec and bringing out the air guitars.

"It's always special to stand up against the Americans,” McEvoy said.

Aussie swim team captain Cate Campbell sees positives in rivalry.

"We've pushed them and they've pushed us,” she said.

"I don't think America would be where they are today without Australia ... and America has pushed us to be the great swimming nation that we are as well.”


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