Claims of a rift between swimmers and the rest of the Australian Olympic team have been blamed for a disappointing medal haul in Rio.

The swimming team pulled down posters of past champions such as Cathy Freeman and replaced the Australian Olympic Committee's logo with their own, according to Sydney Morning Herald columnist Roy Masters.

Chef de mission Kitty Chiller was unhappy that the Australian team mascot, a boxing kangaroo, was replaced by the swimming team's dolphin logo.

Masters also said the swimmers refused to mix with other team members, unlike NBA players Andrew Bogut and Patty Mills who embraced socialsing with their fellow Australian athletes.

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Australia's medal tally has been disappointing by their high standards, and they currently sit eighth on the medal table with eight golds. The team had been aiming for 16 gold medals in Rio.

Swimming Australia high performance director Wayne Lomas sent an email to the swimming team which was intended to inspire them.

"If there is an issue, it's the behaviour or the action that we confront, not the person.... Whether someone achieves peak performance or they miss their own goal and dream through a sub-optimal performance, the individual's value is retained," the email read.

Rugby player Henry Hutchison hugs the Australian team's Olympic mascot. Photo / AP
Rugby player Henry Hutchison hugs the Australian team's Olympic mascot. Photo / AP

Masters said unity of the whole team is crucial to success at the Olympics, and that the performance of the team has "exposed the vulnerability" of the Winning Edge programme.

Winning Edge is a 10-year programme which aimed to put Australia in the top five of the medal table which began following the London Games in 2012, where they won eight golds in what was Australia's worst Olympic performance in 20 years.