PHOENIX, Arizona, July 7. SWIMMING around the world did not take a holiday, with meets in Sweden and France giving us another look at some of the best in the world before the big international championship meets begin. But we’ll start our countdown of the top five headlines of the past week with news of an Olympic champion feeling the need for speed outside the pool.
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Coming in at number five is Tyler Clary’s participation in a stock car race in Charlotte, continuing his quest to become a race car driver after his swimming career is complete. Clary finished 15th in the 25-mile race, but said he gained some useful knowledge for future competitions. Clary moved to Charlotte earlier this year, which was not just to train with the SwimMAC Carolina elite team. One of NASCAR’s hubs is in Charlotte, and Clary was able to rub shoulders and get pointers from some of race car driving’s best. He hinted in an article in USA Today that he would be making regular racetrack appearances, though we hope that he’ll pull back on the race car driving in these weeks before the USA Swimming nationals.
We’re still two years away from the U.S. Olympic swimming team trials, a swim team is already making moves to purchase the competition pool where the likes of Missy Franklin, Ryan Lochte and more will compete, and that’s our number four headline of the week. The Woodlands Swim Team put down a deposit to secure their intent to buy the 50-meter pool as a permanent training facility once it’s disassembled after the 2016 Olympic Trials. The deadline to come up with the full purchase price of the pool is next April, and the entire team will be working to secure donations and raise money to help ease the burden of cramped pool space. The previous Olympic Trials pools, built by Myrtha, were not bought this far out from the meet, so The Woodlands is being extremely proactive, and we’ll see if they are able to seal the deal next year.
Several notable names will be racing in Athens, Georgia, this weekend, for yet another chance to get in some race preparation before US nationals. We’ll be watching two names on the list, and the chance to see how Nick Thoman’s and Ryan Lochte’s injuries are healing up brings us to our number three headline. Thoman has been out of racing since February, when he dislocated his shoulder just before the Orlando stop of the Arena Grand Prix. This weekend will show us if things are in line for the Olympic silver medalist to be among the contenders in the backstrokes at nationals. As for Lochte, he hasn’t raced since the Mesa Grand Prix, where he had to withdraw from the final day of racing with knee trouble. Since tearing his MCL tendon last November, he had mostly stayed away from breaststroke – with the exception of one 200 IM in Mesa that might have been the cause of his withdrawal – and with him in the 200 IM this weekend, it will be the ultimate test for the world record holder. Michael Phelps will be another of many headliners at the meet, and he’s entered in the 100 free, 200 free, 100 fly and 100 back. That 100 back will be interesting, because he hasn’t really raced that much in the past five years. Swimming World is the place to get coverage from the Bulldog Grand Slam starting on Friday.
The European championships will be a little bit diluted with the announcement that Ranomi Kromowidjojo will not swim in the meet next month, and that’s our number two headline of the week. Kromowidjojo was in line for sprint freestyle titles, but said she’s focusing instead on the short course world championships later this year. The Dutch sensation doesn’t appear to have any physical troubles, based on the fast times she swam last weekend at the French Open. She won the 100 free with a 53.71 and the 50 free with a 24.53. Kromowidjojo is dealing with a new coach and felt it was best to take the time to adjust to the new environment this summer. Her absence will not only affect the field of the 50 and 100 freestyles at the European championships in Berlin, but without the double Olympic champion, the sprint relays for the Netherlands will be struggling to get to the top of the medal podium.
Kromowidjojo’s absence from the European championships might make the lady in our number one spot happy. Sarah Sjostrom made it known that she intends to win multiple gold medals in Berlin, and she did it in fine fashion at the Swedish nationals. At the top of the list is the incredible world record of 24.43 in the 50 butterfly, and, well, it’s amazing to think that everything else she did at the meet pales in comparison. In the 50 free, she posted the fastest time in a textile suit with a 23.98, which is just 25 hundredths off Britta Steffen’s world record of 23.73 set in the now-banned polyurethane swimsuit in 2009. And then there’s the 100 fly, which was Sjostrom’s primary event for many years. She swam a 56.50 to tie her best time of the season, which also stands as the fastest time swum in 2014. Based on her 50 fly speed, I think it’s safe to say that Dana Vollmer’s world record of 55.98 in the 100 fly is also in jeopardy. Sjostrom has been well-known since winning the 100 fly at the 2009 world championships at 15 years old, but hadn’t fully realized that potential until she won the 100 fly last year at worlds.