The withdrawal of James Magnussen has failed to place any pressure on fellow defending champion Cate Campbell to shine for Australia at this week’s world swimming titles in Russia.
Which is just as well – Campbell, 23, already faces a daunting task when the swimming program begins in Kazan on Sunday.
Only three Australian women have defended a world title in the pool – Libby Trickett, Leisel Jones and Jessicah Schipper.
And no one has sealed back-to-back women’s world 100m freestyle gold since East Germany’s Kornelia Ender in 1975 during their controversial doping regime.
Magnussen had been hoping to make a little history of his own in Kazan by becoming the first man to clinch three straight 100m titles before withdrawing last month to undergo shoulder surgery.
It ensures the focus is on Campbell to lead by example in Kazan – not that she is feeling it.
“Not really. That’s the beauty of it being an individual sport – you only have yourself to focus on,” Campbell told AAP.
“It is a blow James not being there.
“However, this may sound selfish but I will perform at my best whether or not James is part of the team.
“It hasn’t changed my focus one iota, it’s 100 per cent on me.”
That approach appears to be working.
Campbell had been willing to sacrifice her world title defence this year and concentrate on the Rio Olympics after undergoing shoulder surgery last August.
A slow recovery sounded alarm bells for Campbell, who only had a three-month preparation for the world titles trials in April.
Campbell dug deep at the trials to ensure she is unbeaten over 100m since late 2012 but younger sister Bronte upstaged her sibling for the first time to win a maiden national 50m crown.
Cate still remains the one to beat at Kazan but is looking over her surgically repaired shoulder.
Bronte (53.04 seconds, ranked fourth in the world in 2015) will be one to watch along with Holland’s Femke Heemskerk (No.1 this year with Campbell, 52.69) and Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom (No.3 ranked, 52.97).
And then there’s Olympic champion Ranomi Kromowidjojo.
Despite Magnussen’s withdrawal, Australia will still boast two world champions at Kazan – Campbell and Christian Sprenger (100m breaststroke).
Australia’s hopes of improving on their 2013 world titles haul of three gold and 10 silver have been boosted by recent rankings.
Australia are No.1 in six individual events ahead of the world titles, albeit thanks to three athletes – Campbell (50m, 100m freestyle), Emily Seebohm (100m, 200m backstroke) and Mack Horton (400m, 800m freestyle).
Australians have the second fastest time this year in eight events and third best in three.
Not that Australia coach Jacco Verhaeren was making any predictions.
“Basically anything can happen,” he said.
The Australian team – also without Brittany Elmslie (breast surgery) and Kylie Palmer (provisional doping ban) – will fly in from their Doha camp on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Simon Huitenga (one minute, 50:41 seconds) placed 15th in the 10km men’s open water event behind gold medallist, American Jordan Wilimovsky (1:49:48).