Illness cruels Rio bronze medallist's nationals campaign
SWIMMING: A nasty parasitic infection has forced Olympic bronze medallist Jake Packard to withdraw from this weekend's Australian Swimming Championships in Brisbane.
The University of the Sunshine Coast Spartans athlete had been nearing career-best form before he was struck down by illness at the Victorian State Championships in January.
What was first thought to be food poisoning turned out to be a case of salmonella that won't go away.
"It's found its way into my blood stream which is restricting oxygen flow when I exert energy," Packard said.
Mooney said Packard was swimming five seconds faster than this time last year prior to falling ill, and would have been primed to defend his 100m breaststroke title.
But with Tokyo 2020 and a home Commonwealth Games - starting in one year from Tuesday - on their minds, both agreed the decision was for the best.
"If we don't get rid of it and keep pushing it, who's to say it won't turn into chronic fatigue or something really nasty that ruins our preparation for the Commonwealth Games," Mooney said.
"I just know the guy and know what we want to be doing in 2020 is not reflective of what happens next week.
"We're going to keep testing this thing and get on top of it. We've surrounded ourselves with an amazing team of doctors, nutritionists and sports scientists."
Packard, who won bronze in the 4x100m individual medley relay in Rio 2016, said he felt privileged to have the support of his team and Swimming Australia.
"It's a small setback in the (long-term) prep, but I know we can bounce back from it," he said.
The USC able-bodied and para-swimming athletes will be on show on Tuesday morning when they hold an open session for the media at Sippy Downs.
Mooney and new Para High Performance coach Nathan Doyle will take 24 swimmers to the championships at Chandler, starting on Sunday.
The Spartans team will feature Olympians and Paralympians like Leah Neale, Taylor McKeown and Blake Cochrane, as well as up-and-coming talents Kaylee McKeown, Jemma Schlicht and Lani Pallister, to name a few.