Missile content to fly under the radar
HE'S facing the greatest 100m freestyle field ever assembled for a national titles but James Magnussen is refusing to contemplate finishing outside the top three and missing an individual swim at the Commonwealth Games.
A two-time world champion and the second-fastest man in history in the 100m in a textile suit, Magnussen has battled to regain the mantle he once held as Australia's top sprinter.
Fully recovered from a shoulder reconstruction that blunted his performances over the past two years, Magnussen heads into this week's Games trials at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre relaxed and confident.
With all the attention on Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers and Gold Coaster Cameron McEvoy, the fastest man in history in a textile suit, Magnussen has flown under the radar - and he couldn't be happier.
"It's been pretty low-key, pretty quiet, pretty relaxed, different to some of my preparations in the past which have been more public and high pressure," he said.
"But I've really enjoyed the lack of attention that I've had this preparation and it's all gone seamlessly thus far."
The scrutiny may have changed but the expectation Magnussen is placing on himself to perform has not.
"I'm always my harshest critic and I always set myself the most lofty expectations leading into any meet," he said.
"I certainly always have high expectations of myself regardless of what expectations or pressures are put on me externally."
It's difficult to say what Magnussen will be capable of though.
His career best 47.10 sec swim came at the Olympic trials in 2012 - a period he now sees as "before surgery" and almost a separate career to the one he is now forging.
"In my mind, there's definitely a before and after shoulder surgery (line). It's almost two different careers," he said.
"The way I feel in the water has been quite a stark contrast before and after but I'm definitely feeling more like the swimmer that I was before that surgery now.
"In some ways I've almost forgotten what swimming certain speeds felt like.
"It's always exciting to work back towards those and I certainly feel like I'm in a much better position now than I was leading into the Rio Olympics."
That's why he won't contemplate finishing outside the top three in Thursday night's 100m final.
"I haven't even let it cross my mind as a possibility," he said.
"The way that I prepare mentally is that I visualise that race and prepare for that race to have a certain outcome.
"And any negative thoughts or 'what ifs', I block out.
"It's something that I haven't even taken into consideration."