Fliers fail to launch
THE 200m butterfly has proved to be the bogey event for Coast swimmers at the Olympics, with Samantha Hamill and Nick D'Arcy failing to qualify for their respective finals.
Both swimmers had been prone to illness and injury during the past two years, but neither offered an excuse for their showings in London.
Hamill, who was taking painkillers for a chronic shoulder injury until the day of the race, missed a spot in the semi-finals on Tuesday night after she posted a time of 2:11.07 in her heat.
Despite a tumultuous two years Hamill admitted she did not know what went wrong in the swim, which was six seconds off the personal best 2:05.99 she swam in the final of the 2009 Rome world championships.
Like Hamill, D'Arcy could not explain what went wrong in his semi-final on Monday morning when he produced a 1:56.07 to finish sixth in a disappointing end to his campaign.
"Unfortunately, everything didn't come together tonight and didn't quite work out as I'd like it to," he said.
"I don't think now is the time for excuses. If you don't have a good swim, you wear it."
The premature end to his campaign came as a surprise to many, including former coach Brian Stehr, who had tipped him to improve on his personal best.
"I'm disappointed for Nick because no one goes to the Olympics expecting to swim two seconds slower than your best time," Stehr said.
"I always thought he would be capable of swimming a 1:53, which I said he needed to do to win a medal.
"But I was a bit concerned in the heats - I thought he looked flat and didn't look very sharp."
The 200m butterfly was won by South Africa's Chad Le Close, who upstaged America's Michael Phelps and Japan's Takeshi Matsuda in the slick time of 1:52.96.
D'Arcy's good mate, Mooloolaba ironman Josh Minogue - himself a national swimmer at junior level - shared Stehr's sentiments and admitted it was tough to watch his friend struggle.
"I was pretty disappointed to see it end the way it did for him. Given what he had done at the trials in the last few years, you would have expected him to go faster," Minogue said.
"But it doesn't always go like that.
"He has had a lot more important things to work through away from swimming, so to get to where he has is testament to how strong willed and committed he is."
As punishment for posting controversial photos on Facebook earlier this year, D'Arcy will return home after the swimming program ends.
The 25-year-old has indicated he will assess his competitive future then.