PHOENIX, Arizona, July 15. THE swimming competition at the World University Games has always been fast and exciting, but never as much as it has been in 2013. With most of the Russian world championship team using the meet as a trial run for worlds, and a few swimmers from other countries making big breakout swims, this will be remembered as a meet that will be tough to top in the near future. Over the weekend, Vlad Morozov put up a 47.62 in winning the 100 freestyle, a lifetime best for him and a big statement to his competition in a couple of weeks in Barcelona. He backed that up today with a 21.81 in the 50 free semifinals.
Danila Izotov is also having a great pre-worlds prep meet. We told you about the 1:45.48 he swam to win the 200 free on Friday, and as leadoff on today's 800 free relay, he dropped that time even further to 1:44.88, making him the fastest in the world in the event and definite medal contender in Barcelona. Of course, Izotov and the rest of the Russian crew will have to hold on to their tapers for the next two weeks and perform as well then as they are now.
The men's 200 back final was set to be one of the best of the meet, and it didn't disappoint. American Jacob Pebley took the race out hard in 56.28, but couldn't hold on to the pace, letting Japan's Yuki Shirai and teammate Jack Conger go by him in the final 50 meters. It was Conger who got to the wall first with a lifetime best of 1:55.47, a time that is fourth in the world and would have put him on the world championship team.
Another swimmer getting ready for the world championships is South Africa's Roland Schoeman, who stopped by the Arizona Masters state championships over the weekend and posted a 23.26 in the 50 fly and 22.13 in the 50 free. Both times are right on his top times of the year, and because they were done at a Masters meet, will count as Masters world records in the 30-34 age group.
Down in Athens, Georgia, three Bulldogs getting ready to race in Barcelona stepped up for one race at the sectional championships. Nic Fink won the 100 breast with a 1:02.18, while Shannon Vreeland and Jordan Mattern competed for Athens Bulldog on the 800 free relay. Vreeland led off with a 1:59.60 and Mattern swam a 2:02.30 on the second leg. Both are set to compete for the United States in that relay in Barcelona.
The pool in the Palau Sant Jordi is ready for competition, and the synchronized swimmers are christening it with practice sessions ahead of the start of the synchronized swimming competition on July 20. You can pretty much see the layout of the arena in this photo, including the opening on the right side of the photo where swimmers will emerge before competing and the large jumbotron above the pool.
Some sad news to report, as a British woman has died in her attempt to swim across the English Channel. Susan Taylor was one mile from the finish of the 21-kilometer swim, and suddenly required urgent medical attention from the support boat. She was transported to a hospital in France, where she was pronounced dead Sunday evening. Though only about 1,000 people have successfully crossed the English Channel, only eight, including Taylor, have died trying in the past 100 years.
On Friday the Washington Post reported that Mark Bernardino and employees of the athletics department at the University of Virginia are under a gag order regarding Bernardino's sudden retirement on July 1. Under the terms of the retirement, no one can discuss the situation for two years, and Bernardino will continue to receive his full salary of $104,000 for those two years. In the meantime, the team is moving on under new head coach Augie Busch.