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Full-strength Aussie squad set for Perth
Alicia Coutts. Pic: Getty Images

Top-flight Australian swimmers - including Olympic gold medallists Alicia Coutts, Melanie Schlanger and Cate Campbell - will clash with the best from South Africa and China in the inaugural BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series at Challenge Stadium on January 18 and 19.

Swimmers will compete for $500,000 in prize money at the same pool where Ian Thorpe and Michael Klim made a name for themselves under the stars at the 1998 FINA World Championships.

Australia's best including Coutts, Schlanger, Campbell and silver medallists James Magnussen and Christian Sprenger will do battle with international stars including dual Olympic gold medallist Ye Shiwen and South Africa's giant killer Chad le Clos.

World 100m champion Magnussen, favoured to win two gold medals at last year's London Olympics, was edged into silver in the 100m free and missed a medal altogether in the sprint relay.The man dubbed “the Missile” will be keen to bounce back in Perth at his first competitive meet since London.

Le Clos swam the race of his life to edge idol Michael Phelps for gold in the 200m butterfly at the London Olympics while 16-year-old Shiwen swam faster than the men's champion Ryan Lochte for the last 50 metres of her record-breaking 400m individual medley swim in London. West Australian breaststroker Sally Foster, now based in South Australia, was named in the 15-strong Australian women's team along with Queensland's Yolane Kukla.

Brisbane's Kukla followed her coach Michael Palfery to WA last December.

The 17-year-old freestyle and butterfly sprinter won a gold medal at the London Olympics as a heat swimmer in the triumphant women's 4x100m freestyle relay team.Kukla burst on to the scene as a 15-year-old when she won 50m freestyle gold at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.

She was the youngest member of the Australian swim team at London but just missed out on qualifying for an individual event.

Another Queenslander Brittany Elmslie has replaced injured WA competitor Blair Evans in the Australian team.Head coach Leigh Nugent said the meet would be a good opportunity for the Australian team to start the year well against strong opposition.

“We're all looking forward to getting over to Perth to race, and we want to start this first BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series in strong fashion,” Nugent said.

“This meet will be about racing well, and the format of two athletes per nation in straight finals for points and prize money, suggests a lot of tactics will also come into play.”

A near full-strength Australian team will use the Perth Super Series to prepare for the 2013 world championship trials starting in Adelaide in April.