Sunday, April 7, 2013

Coutts considers different strokes

Alicia Coutts wants to finish her glittering career in Canberra.

Alicia Coutts wants to finish her glittering career in Canberra. Photo: Melissa Adams

Renovating houses on reality TV is one of Alicia Coutts' post-swimming career options. But before she trades in her swimsuit for a sledge hammer, Australia's most decorated swimmer at last year's Olympics wants to finish her glittering career in Canberra.

Coutts admits that could change if her long-time mentor John Fowlie is forced to move as part of the restructure of the Australian Institute of Sport.

''As long as I'm swimming I want to stay in Canberra, but obviously I want to stay with my coach,'' Coutts told Fairfax Media.

''I've been training with him for over six-and-a-half years and we have a really good relationship.


''He's got the best out of me and I wouldn't want that to change.

''I want to keep training with John until I decide it is time to retire.''

The pair have worked together since Coutts relocated from Brisbane at the end of 2006.

Coutts, pictured, burst to prominence with a stunning haul of five gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. She then backed that up at last year's London Olympics, finishing with another five medals, including gold in the women's 4x100 metres freestyle relay.

The 25-year-old is confident it won't be a distraction before this year's world championships in Barcelona in July.

''John has said to me don't worry about, don't think about it, and I'm really good at that,'' she said.

''If it's out of my control then I won't dwell about it.

''Until I do know I'm not worrying about it.''

Her focus is squarely on preparing for the national selection trials in Adelaide from April 26 to May 3.

Coutts surprised herself with several outstanding performances on the back of a tough training block at last month's NSW championships, winning five titles in among a gruelling 18 races in three days, including a few personal-best times.

She also recorded the seventh-fastest time in the women's 100m backstroke for an Australian - an event she rarely competes in.

Another competition close to her heart is the Canberra Centenary Swimming event for athletes with an intellectual disability, at the AIS until Monday.

Coutts - who is a Special Olympics ambassador - lauded the courage of the more than 400 swimmers from Australia and Japan who are taking part. ''The dedication that they have when they could let their disability get the best of them is amazing,'' she said.

''A lot of the kids haven't been in such world-class facilities in pools that have touch pads and timing. It's very inspirational.''

Coutts is aiming towards next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, but hasn't decided whether she will continue on to the 2016 Olympic Games.

When she does eventually hang up the swim suit, a stint on the small screen could be around the corner.

''I would really like to go on The Block, I think that would be awesome. Maybe when I'm retired, I could be the ex-swimmer Olympian on The Block.''
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