PHOENIX, Arizona, April 4. LANCE Armstrong created a worldwide stir when news broke that he was competing in a Masters swimming meet this weekend in his hometown of Austin, Texas. His participation divided not only the Masters swimming community, but the general public as well. This morning, we learned that Armstrong has withdrawn from the meet, which would have been his first Masters competition, though he had been registered with United States Masters Swimming for years. About the same time that Armstrong's withdrawal was announced, FINA issued a letter to USMS asking for the organization to remove Armstrong from the meet. The line of thought was that since FINA falls under the World Anti-Doping Agency's umbrella, that USMS as a FINA member federation should comply with FINA's decision to recognize Armstrong's lifetime ban from professional sports. United States Masters Swimming is expected to release a statement today, and we will have that for you on swimmingworld.com.
A lot of fast swimming took place up north in Canada, where 14 swimmers secured a spot on the world championship team last night in finals. Ryan Cochrane provided what will likely be the swim of the day, posting a 7:43.61 in the 800 freestyle. Sinead Russell will be going to worlds after winning the 100 back with a 1:00.12 after posting a 59.98 in prelims. Like Russell, Brittany MacLean and Hassaan Abdel-Khalik just competed in the NCAA championships, and they will also be traveling to the world championships in Barcelona. MacLean placed third in the 200 free with a 1:59.93 to earn a spot on the 800 free relay, and Abdel-Khalik placed fourth in the 200 free with a 1:49.84, just behind his younger brother Aly. Blake Worsley, who had considered retiring after the 2012 Olympics, got his spot on the world championship team with a 200 free winning time of 1:48.80. And Noemie Thomas got the national record in the women's 50 fly with a 26.35, but will need to qualify in the 100 butterfly to get on the world championship roster. Today is the 100 freestyle, and we'll see who will replace the great Brent Hayden as the country's top sprinter. Tommy Gossland, the only swimmer seeded with a time under 50 seconds, looks to be the favorite.
The YMCA nationals last night featured 15-year-old sprinter Katrina Konopka beating Margo Geer's meet record in the 50 free with a 22.55. On the men's side, Ryan Held became the first swimmer to go under 20 seconds at the meet with a 19.92 in the 50 free final. Sarasota is running away with the meet so far in the combined team scores, leading Middle Tyger Y by 51 points after one day.