PHOENIX, Arizona, July 18. CAMERON van der Burgh and Yannick Agnel added some intrigue to the swimming portion of the world championships this week. Van der Burgh's participation was up in the air after he suffered a knee injury in late June that forced him out of the French Open, but it appears he's ready to go now and is in Croatia starting his taper. As for Agnel, he said a couple of months ago he would only swim relays in Barcelona, but now he's announced that he's going to swim the 200 free and try to add world champion to his resume that already include Olympic champion in the event.
Other shakeups for the world championships included two new members of Italy's roster, two weeks after FINA deadline for adding more swimmers to the list. Luca Pizzini placed third in the 200 breast with a 2:10.99 at the World University Games, and his time was fast enough to get on the world team. Italy didn't have a representative in that event, so it was likely that Italy had a placeholder name on the roster with the chance that someone could fill that event. Michele Santucci swam a 49.30 to get third in the 100 free at the World University Games, and it was good enough for a spot as an alternate in the 400 free relay. Italy will send 31 swimmers to the meet, including reigning world champion Federica Pellegrini and sprint breaststroke medal contender Fabio Scozzoli.
Over the past two days, members of various FINA Technical Congresses have been holding their regular meetings to vote on new rules for each aquatic sport. All of the sports had their meetings yesterday and today, with the exception of swimming, which will meet next Thursday. The open water Congress approved 31 degrees Celsius as the maximum water temperature for all sanctioned open water races, and the community has spoken out against it, since 31 degrees is near the temperature of the water that ultimately killed Fran Crippen in 2010.
Diving had an interesting rule change, giving major deductions to divers who are "unsafely close to the springboard or platform." That diver will only score a maximum of two points on their dive, no matter how well the rest of it is executed. This is likely to shake up training around the world, as many divers were taught that a good dive is one that gets close to the diving board -- without hitting it, of course.
You can read about the new rules approved for synchronized swimming and water polo on those respective channels on swimmingworld.com.
Speaking of diving, the competition starts Saturday, and the USA Diving team has published some breathtaking photos from the 10-meter platform. You may remember an image like this one from the 1992 Olympics, and we're bound to see more of those in the coming days. The men's American team climbed to the 10-meter platform at the Montjuic pool for a group photo, and to catch that amazing view as well.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Yale University had the highest grade point average of all men's swimming and diving teams in Division I this past school year. The Bulldogs averaged a 3.57, according to a new list of Scholar All-America honorees by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America. East Carolina University and North Texas University were the top women's teams with a 3.63 GPA on both teams.