March 30, 2016

SYDNEY (AP) Four years after Australia's worst Olympic pool performance in 20 years, the swimmers competing at the Rio de Janeiro Games have been told they won't be attending the opening ceremony so they can prepare for their competitions.

Head coach Jacco Verhaeren said Wednesday the squad won't march into Maracana Stadium on Aug. 5 because the swim program featuring early afternoon qualifying and 10 p.m. finals begins the following day.

Verhaeren, the former Dutch head coach, says, ''I believe it is important that we stay together as one team.'' He said the swimmers could take part in the closing ceremony.

At the 2012 London Olympics, Australian swimmers won just one relay gold medal - their worst total since 1992 - amid bullying, drinking and misuse of prescription drugs by team members.

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