PHOENIX, Arizona, February 15. ROME has dropped its bid yesterday to host the 2020 Olympics, which would have brought the Games back to Italy 60 years after it first did so.
Italy is experiencing a recession right now, and Prime Minister Mario Monti said the costs of putting on an Olympics are higher than Rome, or Italy for that matter, can take on right now. Today is the deadline for interested cities to submit their bids for the 2020 Games, and it appears five are still in the running: Baku in Azerbaijan, Doha in Qatar, Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo. Of those five, only Tokyo has put on an Olympics before, in 1964. The city that wins the bid will be announced some time in 2013.
The Spanish synchronized swimming team was dealt a big blow today when Gemma Mengual announced she was retiring from the sport. Spain had been a potential spoiler to Russia's dominance in the sport in the upcoming Olympics, and had won the silver medal behind Russia in Beijing. News reports say that Mengual realized she is no longer able to compete at the level required to win medals, and decided to end her competitive life in the sport.
Tennessee could become a new powerhouse for water polo, now that the Tennessee Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association has voted to introduce the sport starting in 2013. Tennessee has an unusual setup for high school aquatic sports. The state's official high school activities association does not support swimming and diving, which prompted the creation of the Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association. That group is the one that puts on the high school state championships each year, and that's the meet where we saw two national high school records last weekend. Water polo competitions for the first four seasons will be co-ed, according to a report from US Water Polo.
The Southeastern Conference championships began this morning at the University of Tennessee to kick off Division I conference competition. The Auburn men's team is looking to win its 16th straight team title, and the Georgia women are favored to win their third in a row. This is one of the most competitive conference meets in the country, and last year, it saw an NCAA record in the 100 free by Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace. We'll keep track of the swims and bring you a recap on swimmingworld.com.