STEPHANIE Rice's coach, Michael Bohl, admitted yesterday he remains unsure whether she will retire or return to the pool, but conceded if she hopes to swim at next year's world championships in Spain, her decision needs to be imminent.
Rice is believed to still be contemplating her future and is said to be 50-50 about what she will decide. But she was also hoping to wait a few months and see how her troublesome shoulder settles down after the Olympics, before deciding.
Bohl said yesterday that while she has the benefit of world championship selection trials being held later (April-May) next year, time is running out. He said her decision is more than just about her shoulder, it is whether she has the hunger, and if not she would be wasting her time. He hopes to get an insight into her thoughts tomorrow.
''She is just doing her own stuff at the moment, she's back doing a bit of gym, but we haven't seen her at the pool,'' Bohl said.
''I'm actually having a chat with her this Friday. We're going to Toowoomba to open a pool up, and I asked her to come along with me, so we'll probably have a bit of a discussion in the car on the way. There is no question if she is going on she will have to have the operation.
''The longer Steph leaves it [making a decision] the less likelihood there is that she will be able to do something in the short term and by the short term I'm talking about the world championships next year. The longer it takes to make these decisions, the harder it's going to be for her to come back.''
Bohl said he had stayed away from Rice so she could spend time with family and friends, and take an overseas holiday.
Asked if he had a gut feeling which way she might go, he admitted he did not. He added it was important that she kept physically fit.
But her fitness and shoulder are not the main issues, he said.
''Whether you have the hunger and desire to do it again, that's first and foremost,'' he said. ''You can get the shoulder right and everything else, but if you haven't got that burning hunger inside you to step up another time, then you know you are kind of wasting your time a little bit.
''That's the thing Steph's got to really decide. She is the one who will have to drive this. If she's wanting to come back and swim I'm happy to coach her, but if she wants to stop I'll be patting her on the back and saying you've done a great job and had a great career. It's in her corner now.''
Bohl also revealed Nick D'Arcy's Olympics had been savaged by a shoulder injury that required immediate surgery as soon as he returned home.
He wasn't expecting D'Arcy back in the pool for the time being as he focused on his radiography studies.
''He had some big problems over in London with his shoulder. He tore something in the back of his shoulder and that inhibited him from performing well,'' Bohl said. He was unsure of the exact tear.
''Nick didn't want it broadcast when he was over there and didn't want it to sound like he was making excuses, but we just knew something was wrong.
''He had a scan straight after he had finished racing and that showed the tear in the back of his shoulder. He had the operation almost as soon as he got back from Europe.''