PHOENIX, Arizona, September 3. IF you were anywhere near the Internet Monday afternoon, you are keenly aware that after 35 years of trying, Diana Nyad made the 110-mile swim from Havana, Cuba, to the Florida Keys in the United States. Many have tried it, and this was Nyad’s fifth — and by her accounts, final — attempt at the swim. The key component of her success was the use of a special mask and gloves that protected her from serious jellyfish stings, something that has derailed past swims. The mask did have its drawbacks, as it caused Nyad to swallow large amounts of sea water and become ill for about 13 hours of the 53-hour and 54-minute swim. But Nyad was able to make it to the Florida shore, and was released from the hospital very shortly after being admitted to check her vital signs. And there’s no rest for the 64-year-old. She is preparing for a 48-hour nonstop swim in a 50-meter pool that will be designed by Myrtha Pools in the heart of New York City. This swim will primarily serve as a fundraiser in October close to the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, which caused a lot of damage to New York City and surrounding areas.
At the time Nyad was jumping into the water off the coast of Havana on Saturday morning to start her swim, the teenage stars at the junior world championships were finishing up competition in Dubai. Mack Horton won his fifth gold medal in the 1500 freestyle with a 14:56.60, cementing his spot at seventh in the world rankings and a lifetime best by three seconds. Horton was clearly the male swimmer of the meet after winning the 200, 400, 800 and 1500 freestyles. No man has done that at a major international meet, though the great Grant Hackett came close, winning the 400, 800 and 1500 at the 2005 world championships and placing second behind Michael Phelps in the 200 free. Ruta Meilutyte won the most medals among female swimmers with six, four of which were gold.
The United States won the overall team trophy, but the boys team finished out the meet with a stinging disqualification in the medley relay. Butterflyer Matthew Josa left the blocks 21 hundredths of a second too early, a little bit of d?j? vu from the medley relay in Barcelona, when breaststroker Kevin Cordes was .04 early on his takeoff.
But there was much to celebrate at the start of the session, as Caeleb Dressel won the 100 free in 48.97, becoming the youngest American to go under 49 seconds. The 17-year-old beat Michael Phelps’ national age group record of 49.05 from when Phelps was 18 years old, and sets Dressel up for a great future in sprint freestyle.
And just when you think you have enough time to catch your breath, another big meet begins. The Chinese are holding their National Games this week, and it’s one of the biggest on the Chinese swimming calendar. Prize money is offered to the top finishers, so we could see some good racing. Sun Yang is reportedly scheduled to swim the freestyle events, from the 100 to the 1500. We’ll see if he can walk away with five gold medals.
Bob Bowman is collecting a lot of elite swimmers at North Baltimore Aquatic Club, now that he’s back into coaching full time. Yannick Agnel, Allison Schmitt and Conor Dwyer were already part of the team before the world chamionships, and we told you last week about Tom Luchsinger moving to the squad. But over the weekend, we learned that Danish distance star Lotte Friis and American middle distance freestyler Matt McLean will be making the move to Baltimore. For Friis, this will be a temporary move, as she’s only set to be there through December to train for the short course European championships. As for McLean, it’s a new place to go after losing his longtime coach Mark Bernardino to a sudden retirement, and an opportunity to train with Agnel and Dwyer, two of the best freestylers in the world.