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Giaan Rooney relays her Rio rundown

AAP logoAAP 5/08/2016 Sarah McPhee

Twelve years have passed since Giaan Rooney won gold at the Athens Olympics.

But the former swimmer says the sound of the national anthem teleports her back to that moment.

"Every time I hear it, I get emotional", she said.

"I sing and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up."

It is a song Rooney hopes to hear a lot of as she heads to Rio de Janeiro to cover the 2016 Games, reporting on her beloved sport for the Seven Network alongside senior presenters Basil Zempilas and Nathan Templeton.

The Australian swim team were vilified four years ago for bringing home just one gold medal from London.

But Rooney is convinced the squad are ready to swim laps around the under-par performance.

"We go into the swimming events ranked number one in the world in eight events, which is just extraordinary and so exciting", the 33-year-old said.

Her medal hopes from this year's team include Cate Campbell, Emily Seebohm, Mitch Larkin and Cameron McEvoy.

"It has been so long since an Australian has brought home the men's 100m freestyle gold medal", she said.

"But Cameron McEvoy has all of the components and all of the ingredients to be a gold medallist."

She said viewers should keep an eye on Emma McKeon, the shy silent assassin of the team, who could take out a win in the 200m freestyle and the 100m butterfly.

"There are so many chances for our team this time around," she said.

"We've got an overall Olympic team that is in a much better position performance-wise."

A total of 410 athletes will compete for Australia in the Brazilian city this year, the same number as in London 2012.

"While I don't want to jinx them, I do think it's possible to move our overall ranking up a fair way at these Games," Rooney said.

She said finishing in the top five was the goal, but the athletes should be applauded if they shift the country from eighth to seventh place.

It is hoped Australia will claim its 500th Olympic medal in history while at Rio, with its 150th gold.

Rooney will spend the first eight days of the Olympics as an expert commentator on the indoor swimming before covering the 10km open-water marathon swims.

She said the majority of the swimming events would be broadcast between 10am-12pm AEST due to time differences.

"Bribe your bosses to watch the races", she laughed.

"These are historic moments and if you can get a chance to watch any of it, you should.

"Whatever it is, you're witnessing the best of the best. These are the best athletes on the planet."

She is also hoping to slip away to watch 50km walker Jared Tallent take a shot at the gold on August 19.

Tallent was awarded the London gold medal in June this year, 1046 days after the actual race, with the Russian winner stripped of the title amid drug allegations.

"I would love to see Tallent stand on the gold medal dais without it having to be in retrospect", Rooney said.

"Actually in the Olympic stadium, with the national anthem playing. I just think he, more than anyone, deserves that."

As for whether she wanted to slip the goggles and cap back on herself, the freestyle champion said she was very happily retired.

"I have no desire whatsoever to stand up on those blocks and race," Rooney said, citing her 4 x 100m medley relay win with Petria Thomas, Leisel Jones and Jodie Henry in 2004 as the crowning moment of her swimming career.

"Not only did we win gold and break the world record, it was the last event of the last day and it was Petria Thomas' last major swim," she said.

"I've never had more of an out-of-body experience. We just had complete and utter faith in each other's abilities that we were going to do the right job. And we did."

It is breathtaking moments like these that Rooney wants the 2016 team to experience.

"No one knows where they're going to be in four years time," she said.

"I just want for them to not let the occasion get the better of them."

Rooney encouraged athletes heading to the Games to embrace the butterflies because they could lead the way to gold.

"The bigger the meet, the better I swam. I needed those nerves to get the best performance out of myself," she said.

"The one who wins the Olympic Games gold medal is very rarely the athlete who is necessarily the current world record holder, it's the athlete that deals with the pressure and the expectation the best."

The Rio Games have been embroiled in problems including accusations the athletes village was unlivable, and concerns over the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Rooney said she had done her due diligence in educating herself on the health and safety concerns at hand but never questioned such issues as an athlete.

"I wouldn't have missed the Olympics for anything in the world," she said.

"It was what I had set the alarm at 4:47am every morning of my life for.

"All your competitors are dealing with the same circumstances so again it's the athlete that deals with those conditions the best that comes out on top."

*2016 LIVE airs on the Seven Network

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