Tokyo treble on Mack's mind now
MACK Horton is looking for the switch.
When the Olympic 400m champion stunned an all-star field that included fellow gold medallist Kyle Chalmers and race favourite Cam McEvoy to claim the national 200m freestyle title last week, thoughts immediately switched to the prospect of swimming the middle and long-distance trifecta at July's world championships and then at the Tokyo Olympics.
Prior to Horton's clean sweep at the Chandler Aquatic centre last week, Grant Hackett in 2008 was the last person to hold the 200m, 400m, and 1500m national titles.
And no Australian has ever won all three at an Olympics, with Daniel Kowalski's effort in Atlanta in 1996 where he claimed silver in the 1500m and bronze in the 200m and 400m the nation's best performance.
"It is a pretty big task," Horton said.
"I would like to be able to do it, it is just a matter being able to find the balance in training."
Horton believes it is not the physical drain of racing all three events that makes it so daunting but the ability to train for three different pace requirements, with three different stroke rates.
His problem at this stage of his career is that he has not mastered the ability to switch between them on demand.
"They are all different strokes so to change throughout a week and be at a high level is difficult," he said.
"For me some weeks I am good at 1500m and others better at 400m or whatever.
"I think if I was going to go down that path I need to be able to just flick a switch basically and go between 200m pace and 400m pace.
"Instead, if I'm doing a 200m pace set in training it takes me a minimum of 400m to find 200m pace stroke.
"So it is tough trying to get to that sort of position."
Kowalski believes Horton can do it.
He said the speed he found to medal in a the 200m came from the way his great rival Kieran Perkins swam his pet event the 1500m.
He did not know Horton's motivation but said a spot on the 200m relay team was as good as any, and believed if continued to train all three distances he would be capable of racing them at a major event provided he mastered his recovery practices.
"I honestly think it is psychological over physical, your body can do it if you get your recovery right," he said.
"You have to get your mindset right so you can say, today I'm racing eight laps, or 16 or 30.
"We say it is an individual sport but you can't beat a relay and in all fairness that 200m relay has underperformed in recent years and they have the ability to be very, very competitive, especially with the emergence of Kyle Chalmers as a 200m swimmer."