PHOENIX, Arizona, July 21. THE past seven days was filled with more headlines about news happening outside the pool instead of in it, though plenty of notable names raced well over the weekend. Our show looks back at the top five aquatic sports headlines of the past week, and we’ll start the countdown with some shocking news from Russia.
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Russia’s troubles with doping continued last week with the announcement that star open water swimmer Vladimir Dyatchin was suspended indefinitely when an unspecified banned substance showed up in his “A” sample at the open water nationals in June. The final judgment is not being handed down until the results of Dyatchn’s “B” sample comes through. For now, Dyatchin is not allowed to compete or participate in organized coached workouts. For about a decade, the 31-year-old has been Russia’s top distance swimmer, making a successful transition to open water. This suspension means Dyatchin will likely not be able to compete at the European championships next month, and it’s another black eye for Russia after nearly two dozen positive drug tests in four years. That includes most recently the 16-month suspension of Yulia Efimova, who claimed that she ingested a supplement that had been tainted at the source and was stripped of short course world records last fall.
Just when you thought the U.S. national age group records would get a break from constant revisions, we get a weekend where seven were set across the country in various long course meets, and that’s our number four headline on the show. Reece Whitley set the only individual national age group record, posting a 1:03.82 in the 100 breast to beat Michael Andrew’s record by just one hundredth of a second. This swim came two days after he swam an amazing 2:16.48 in the 200 breaststroke at the Middle Atlantic championships in Pennsylvania. The others were all done on relays. The Carmel Swim Club girls team of Veronica Burchill, Rachel Hayden, Claire Adams, and Amy Bilquist swam a 1:42.29 in the 200 free relay for a new record in the 15-18 age group. Three of these four swimmers — Burchill, Adams and Bilquist — teamed with Hanna House in February for a national high school record in the same event in yards in February for Carmel High School. At the Ohio junior Olympics, the Ohio State Swim Club’s 10-and-under squad consisting of Riley Huddleston, Ava Lachey, Martina Peroni and Hannah Routh swam a 2:03.95 for a new 200 free relay record. That same four combined for a 2:19.25 to set a record in the 200 medley relay in a time trial. The Ohio State Swim Club broke another record in the 11-12 400 medley relay, but the team was disqualified. Justin Grender, Jake Foster, Nicholas Perera and Joshua McDonald of Cincinnati Marlins broke the 13-14 200 free relay record with a 1:52.17 and followed that up with a 4:04.42 in the 400 medley relay and a 7:58.64 in the 800 free relay. This was a great weekend, obviously, to get four swimmers together for relays, and we’ll see if these times hold up through the remainder of the long course season.
Coming in at number three is Betsey Armstrong, who announced her retirement from competitive water polo last week after a career that included blocking hundreds of shots, and a few gold medals to show for it, including gold from the 2012 Olympics. Armstrong is a Michigan graduate and a multiple All-American for the Wolverines. After her collegiate career, she became the starting goalie for Team USA, and quickly became the world’s best goalie. Though it’s virtually impossible to count every shot she kept from going into the goal in an international career spanning about a decade, it’s likely very high, which is why many countries probably feared going up against the USA in water polo. Congratulations to Betsey on an illustrious career.
Tae Hwan Park is continuing his preparation for the Asian Games, his first international competition since the London Olympics, and he had a superb weekend at the Korean nationals to put himself in contention for multiple medals. That’s our number two headline of the week. With most of the attention in middle distance and distance freestyle focusing on Sun Yang, Park has been going about his business quietly … but not anymore. The 200 free was Park’s best event of the meet as he shot to the top of the world rankings with a 1:45.25. That’s just three tenths slower than he swam to tie for silver with Sun at the Olympics, and the home crowd at the Asian Games will likely boost him to a much faster time. Park also showed off his versatility with a 2:00.31 in the 200 IM as well, though he’ll need to be significantly faster than that to beat Japan at the Asian Games. And for good measure, Park swam a 3:44.75 in the 400 free to show that he’s still ready to face Sun in that race as well. Park sat out the 2013 season to fulfill his military duties, and has shown that the break didn’t affect his abilities at all.
While Park is making a successful return to the pool after a break, Eamon Sullivan is stepping away from the sport for good, and that’s our number one headline of the week. After sitting out 2013 to nurse some longtime shoulder injuries, Sullivan won the 50 free at Australian nationals with a 21.65 to qualify for the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific championships. But Sullivan had to take his name off the roster after doctors told him the shoulder injuries were too severe to put in the training and deal with the strain of high-level racing this summer. Just a couple of weeks later, Sullivan decided to call it quits. The 28-year-old had a great career in the pool, including a few world records in the 50 and 100 long course freestyles. He never won an Olympic gold medal, but he has two silvers and a bronze from the 2008 Olympics. Though Australia is doing well in the 100 free, there’s a bit of a gap in the 50 with Sullivan’s departure. James Magnussen has stepped in nicely in the past two years, but hasn’t reached the level Sullivan has just yet. Our best goes to Sullivan as he officially begins a new chapter in his life.