Larkin ready to land first jab on rivals

Five months before his heavyweight battle in the Rio pool, Australia’s Mitch Larkin hopes to land the “first jab” by setting a backstroke world record at the Olympic swimming team trials in Adelaide.

Dual world champion Larkin expects American Aaron Peirsol’s 100m record mark (51.94sec) set in the 2009 supersuit era to be lowered at the US trials in Nebraska in June.

But he hopes to beat them to the punch at the April 7-14 trials in a bid to land a body blow on his American rivals ahead of their Rio medal scrap.

“For me it would be nice to get that first little jab in,” Larkin said of breaking the world record at Adelaide.

“But I wouldn’t be surprised if the Americans have a jab back.

“The final jab will happen in Rio which is pretty exciting.”

However, it appears American young gun Ryan Murphy has already come out swinging.

Murphy, 20, set new national American college 100 and 200 yard short course records at the NCAA titles last week.

It is an ominous warning ahead of the US trials where defending Olympic champion Matt Grevers is also set to shine.

Then there’s the Rio Games where Larkin knows he will have a target on his back after his 2015 world titles breakthrough.

“Having him (Murphy) there is pushing the boundaries,” Larkin said.

“The pressure is certainly on but it is nothing overwhelming.

“I look forward to standing up to that pressure and seeing what happens.”

Larkin lowered his 100m backstroke PB to 52.11 during a stunning 2015.

Last year he became the first Australian to claim 100m-200m backstroke gold at a world titles, earning FINA Male Swimmer of the Year honours.

Larkin believes he is on track to be even faster at August’s Rio Olympics.

“I’ve still got my speed,” he warned.

“It (trials lead-up) is on par with my preparations for the world championships last year so I am happy with that.

“It’s got some improvement in some areas and been able to maintain every other area.

“I am a perfectionist so I would never give myself a 10 but I would rate my preparation an 8 or 9.”

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