PHOENIX, Arizona, October 21. JEFF Commings returns to host the second episode of SwimmingWorld.TV’s The Week That Was, and we hope you like the tweaks we’ve made to the program, including reducing the countdown from 10 to the top five headlines of the past week.
From Tom Shields’ American record to the hiring of Australia’s national swimming head coach and the release of the Duel in the Pool rosters, Commings analyzes the most buzzworthy news from around the globe. See below for full show transcript.
We’re glad you’ve tuned in for our second episode. We’ve made some tweaks to the show since our debut last week, and we hope you like the changes. Instead of counting down the top 10 headlines of the past week, we’re going to bring you the top five and get a little more in-depth with each of the stories. So let’s get the countdown started with the number five story of the week, which took place earlier today.
At the FINA World Cup in Qatar, Tom Shields swam a 48.80 in the 100 short course meters butterfly to break his own American record and beat South Africa’s Chad Le Clos. Shields has had a lot of success on the World Cup circuit in these first few months as a postgrad swimmer. Not counting the money he’s accumulated in today in Qatar, Shields has won $10,500 in the five meets held so far. Shields is the only American swimmer to attend all five of the World Cup meets this season, and though it’s not unusual to see so few Americans in these meets, it shouldn’t be the norm. USA Swimming does not pay for travel and accommodations to these meets unless you are part of the junior national team that will race in a couple of weeks. The postgrad swimmers who attend have to pay for their own expenses, and hope the money they earn in the pool pays for travel, as well as living expenses when they get back home. Tyler Clary and Anthony Ervin have also been at these meets and won a good deal of money, but not five figures like Shields. Tom took the fall season off last year to race in some of the World Cup meets before returning for his final NCAAs at Cal, and the racing experience is bound to pay off in 2014.
Good luck and very fortunate timing played a role in our number four story of the week. Just before competition for the Make Some Noise 4 Kids meet was set to start last weekend at this pool, the Neptune Aquatic Center, an air handler fell through the roof and crashed into the bleachers. Luckily, a coach decided to not use the bleachers that were destroyed by the air handler, and his decision saved a lot of lives. Obviously, the facility suffered a lot of damage and will take thousands of dollars to repair, but as I said, no lives were lost. This is a photo of an air handler similar to the one that crashed through the ceiling, and it’s likely pools all over the country have systems like these in place to circulate air through the building. Hopefully this news will get facility managers up on their rooftops to run some inspections so things like this don’t happen again.
We covered a lot of college dual meets over the weekend on swimmingworld.com, and though a lot of them produced some fast swims in the early goings of the college season, none of them had as shocking a result as the number three story of the week: the men’s dual meet between Arizona and Utah. The Utes managed to pull off a surprising win with a score of 152-148, winning nine of 16 events. On paper, Arizona seemed like a no-brainer to win the meet, placing third at the NCAA championships while Utah was just 33rd. But the Wildcats went to Salt Lake City without backstroker Mitchell Friedemann and sprinter Brad Tandy, two swimmers who would have scored big points and made this meet less of a nailbiter than it was. Utah’s Nick Soedel was one of Utah’s key players. He won the 50 and 100 freestyles and gave Utah enough of a cushion to win the deciding 400 free relay at the end of the meet. Unlike college football or college basketball, the outcome of this meet will have very little effect on postseason outcomes, but it will provide some big talking points when recruiters come to Salt Lake City this season.
The entire global swimming community was talking last week when Swimming Australia announced that Jacco Verhaeren would be taking over as the country’s national team head coach, and that comes in at number two on our countdown. The Dutch-born Verhaeren will be the first national head coach not born in Australia, something that did not phase many in Australia. Retired swimming star Libby Trickett took time out from performing in Dancing With the Stars to send out this tweet: I am so excited for Swimming Australia to have appointed Jacco Verhaeren as Head Coach. Extraordinarily talented, great things are to come!! Verhaeren will be bringing in more than a decade of success working with some of the best athletes in the Netherlands since 2000. Here’s a list of some of the swimmers he’s coached to Olympic gold medals: Pieter van den Hoogenband, Inge de Brujin, Marleen Veldhuis, Inge Dekker and Ranomi Kromowidjojo. And then there’s many more that have done well internationally that would take a lot more time than we have here to list. Suffice to say that Swimming Australia will need his help to emerge from the scandals of the past year, including the independent report that basically called for a complete overhaul of Swimming Australia’s administration, new policies for athletes on international trips and a better top-down structure of the organization. Verhaeren is under contract as the Dutch swimming technical director through the end of the year, and then he’ll head Down Under to work in his new job.
Last Wednesday the rosters for Team USA and the European All-Stars came out, and the release of the names who will race in Scotland takes the number one spot on our countdown this week. We’ve been announcing some of the names as they have been made public, and now that it’s official everyone can start crunching the numbers to find out if the Americans can continue their winning streak at the Duel in the Pool, or will the Europeans take the team trophy? A few notable names are not on both rosters, including Missy Franklin, who will be coming off the first half of her freshman year at Cal, and Katinka Hosszu, who will be racing elsewhere. Ryan Lochte will be a reliable performer on the men’s side, no matter what events he swims, as will Katie Ledecky in the freestyle events. Ledecky will get to renew her rivalry in the pool with Lotte Friis after the two chased each other up and down the pool last summer at the world championships. The Team USA roster is full of current NCAA student-athletes, marking the first time college swimmers have dominated the squad. But that could come in handy for the Americans, since the meet has a dual-meet flavor to it that will require some athletes to race more than once a day at top form. Many, if not all of the Europeans will be coming off the short course European championships the week before, and if their tapers hold, they could be very fast. The meet takes place December 20 and 21.
And that’s our look at the top five headlines of the week. Thanks so much for watching The Week That Was. We would love to hear from you regarding the content of our show. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to mention an item you thought should have been in our top five, or tell us what you like, or don’t like, about this new show. We love hearing from our fans.
I’m Jeff Commings, and that was the week that was.