Swimming: Distance great Perkins appointed head of Swimming Australia

One of Australia's greatest distance swimmers, Kieren Perkins broke numerous world records during a long career. PHOTO: SWIMMING AUSTRALIA/FACEBOOK

SYDNEY (AFP) - Former great Kieren Perkins was appointed head of Swimming Australia on Saturday (Nov 7), charged with building momentum into next year's delayed Tokyo Olympics.

One of Australia's greatest distance swimmers, he won 1,500m gold at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics while breaking numerous world records during a long career.

Perkins retired in 2000 having amassed 23 medals at international competitions, earning the distinction of being the first person to hold Olympic, world, Commonwealth and Pan Pacific titles simultaneously.

"I have a strong desire to maintain swimming's position as Australia's most successful Olympic sport and with only a year out from Tokyo it's important to keep a level of stability and focus," he said.

"We need to keep building momentum and heading into an Olympic year there is no better opportunity to bring the sport and the country together and inspire future generations."

Swimming is Australia's most prolific Olympic sport, and they have a storied rivalry with the United States in the pool.

But after a record haul of 20 swimming medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the team managed only 10 in Rio four years ago.

Perkins takes over from outgoing president John Bertrand a day after it emerged that Australia's swimmers could be stripped of their 4x100m medley relay bronze medals from the London 2012 Olympics.

It follows breaststroker Brenton Rickard failing a re-test of his eight-year-old doping samples, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Rickard, 37, described the positive test for a small amount of furosemide, a masking agent, as his "worst nightmare" in an e-mail to his former teammates published by the newspaper on Friday evening.

If confirmed, the entire Australian relay team - Rickard, James Magnussen, Christian Sprenger, Hayden Stoeckel, Matt Targett and Tommaso D'Orsogna - would lose their medals.

The report comes after Australia's Shayna Jack tested positive for a proscribed muscle-building drug in the run-up to the 2019 world championships, and was later banned by the Australian anti-doping authority.

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