PHOENIX, Arizona, April 17. THE drama surrounding the South Africa world championship trials continues. Competition was canceled today, forcing meet organizers to completely change their meet schedule from prelims/finals to timed finals only in their effort to end the meet on Saturday. So far, no one has been added to the world championship list, as the only finals session on Monday produced no official qualifiers. Olympians Roland Schoeman, Chad Le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh swam faster than world championship qualifying times in semifinals races, though Schoeman and Le Clos will have the opportunity to get on the roster officially when the meet resumes. As we mentioned yesterday, van der Burgh is on his way to Norway to compete in a meet to honor his late friend Alexander Dale Oen and will miss the rest of the South African nationals.
Russia completed day two of world championships trials with a great race in the final of the men's 100 backstroke. Arkday Vyatchanin, the 2008 bronze medalist in that event, won with a 53.47 over NCAA superstar Vlad Morozov's 53.70. Both will swim the event at worlds, and could be in the hunt for medals. Anastasia Zueva is skipping the 200 backstroke at the meet, as a foot injury sustained last October has kept her from sufficiently training for the event. In her place, Dania Ustinova won the event in a very impressive 2:08.39 to rank second in the world behind -- who else -- Missy Franklin.
Missy had some celebrating of her own last night, as she became the 14th swimmer to win the coveted AAU Sullivan Award at a ceremony in Orlando, Florida. Franklin was one of three finalists that included multi-sport athlete Liz Brenner and wrestler Darren Barnes, and is the first swimmer to win since Jessica Long won in 2006. For 83 years, the award has long been considered the highest honor an athlete can receive, even in this era when the line between professional and amateur athlete continues to blur.