PHOENIX, Arizona, July 9. IN just a few hours, the swimming competition at the World University Games begins in Kazan, Russia. Just about every country is sending a second-tier squad to the meet, with their top athletes racing later this month at the world championships. Russia is doing something different, allowing almost their entire world championship team to race in Kazan before heading to Spain. Vlad Morozov will swim the 50 and 100 freestyles, as well as the 50 back and 50 breast, and the members of the men's 400 free relay squad that Swimming World has predicted will be in the hunt for medals at the world championships, will also get in some last-minute racing experience. On the women's side, Yulia Efimova will race all three breaststroke events in preparation for a medal chase in Barcelona, and reigning 50 backstroke world champion Anastasia Zueva is prepping to race in the sprint backstroke events.
The American squad is rich with rising talent, and will bring home lots of hardware. Many of the athletes on the team nearly made the world championship team, including Laura Sogar in the 200 breaststroke and Jack Conger in the 200 back. Chelsea Chenault and Megan Romano did make the world championship team in relay events, and they are being allowed to swim individual races in Russia before heading to Spain.
The Americans have won just one medal in aquatic sports events at the World University Games so far, with the United States claiming bronze in the team synchronized swimming event behind Russia and Japan. Russia and China are dominating in diving, though the US has made a few finals on the diving boards.
The United States Olympic Committee named Katie Ledecky as their top female athlete for the month of June, citing her amazing performances at the world championship trials that included a world record chase in the 1500 free and wins in the 400 and 800 freestyles. Ryan Lochte was in the running for male athlete of the month, placing third in the voting behind wheelchair tennis player David Wagner and sprint runner Tyson Gay.