PHOENIX, Arizona, December 17. THE future generation of swimming let its presence be known in several meets around the world, with the current stars also showing the newbies how it’s done with some impressive performances of their own. Let’s get today’s show started by counting down the top five swimming headlines of the week, starting at number five.
At number five is Florent Manaudou’s shoulder injury that he sustained at the end of the French short course nationals last week. The injury was so severe that he had to withdraw from not only the European short course championships, but the Duel in the Pool as well. Manaudou injured the tendon in his left shoulder, and it’s not known how the injury will affect him in 2014. With no major meets on the horizon until national in April, it looks like Manaudou will have plenty of time to get back to full strength.
Coming in at number four is Vladimir Morozov’s seven gold medals and Mireia Belmonte’s four gold medals at the European short course championships. With Manaudou out of the meet, Morozov had little trouble taking the 50 and 100 freestyles, as well as the 100 IM, for three individual golds. He also teamed up with Russia to break four relay world records. Morozov did not race in the breaststroke or backstroke events, though he had competed in those during the World Cup meets, but seven golds made him the most decorated swimmer of the meet. Belmonte outperformed KatinkaHosszu in Denmark, winning the 400 and 800 freestyles, the 200 fly and 400 IM. Hosszu also won four medals, but only one of them was gold. She won the 200 IM and was second in the 100 and 400 IMs. She also took bronze in the 200 backstroke.
Many of the swimmers at the European championships were on the tail end of a long fall season that included racing multiple times at various World Cup meets and several other competitions in between. That might have been the reason why only one individual world record fell in Denmark, and that was by Yulia Efimova in the 200 breast, which sits at number three on our countdown. Efimova’s time of 2:14.39 took down Rebecca Soni’s mark of 2:14.57 from 2009. With that swim, all six of the world records in women’s breaststroke were broken in 2013, with the three long course records broken at world championships and the three in short course set in the course of the past two months. All six of the relays at the meet featured world records, though only two were officially the fastest times in history. With FINA starting to recognize the 200 medley and 200 free relays for world records starting last September, the world is putting up times that beat the baseline time set by FINA, but aren’t faster than times put up before FINA started noting them for world records. The two that are really world records came in the mixed 200 medley and mixed 200 free relays. Russia won both of those handily, with Vlad Morozov a part of both. The single-gender relays will also be recognized as world records, but it will take a little time for the world to catch up to the best times ever swum, a few of which were done in the full body techsuit era of 2008 and 2009.
Back here in the States, we were trying to keep up with all the short course yards national age group records that were falling at amazing rates, mostly at the Tom Dolan Invitational and junior nationals, and it’s this windfall of marks from the junior crowd that lands on our countdown at number two. Caeleb Dressel’s 18.94 as a relay leadoff at juniors was a highlight on Thursday, followed by the amazing 1:56.01 in the 200 fly swum by 14-year-old Cassidy Bayer at the Tom Dolan meet on Saturday. In between were more NAGs from Ryan Hoffer in the sprint freestyles, Michael Andrew in the breaststroke and butterfly races and Reece Whitley in the breaststroke events, among many more. This caps an amazing year for the 18-and-under generation of swimmers, where more than 100 national age group records fell in short course and long course pools in the past 12 months. It’s an amazing time to be a junior swimmer in the United States, especially with the 2016 Olympic Trials about two and a half years away.
And now it’s time for the number one swimming headline of the week, and it comes out of Germantown Academy, and the news that Richard Shoulberg is returning to the pool deck there after being on leave for reasons not fully disclosed. Shoulberg has coached athletes that have gone on to fame at the Olympics and NCAAs for more than 40 years, and according to a letter sent by Germantown, 2015 will be his final year there. The letter, written by headmaster Jim Connor, says “It is important to both of us [Shoulberg and Connor] that we continue to support our swimmers, their swimming careers and their legacy of success. … GA will continue to support the swimming program, on the curricular and extracurricular levels, to help guide our students and swimmers to the greatness they work so hard to achieve. We are grateful for your support as Coach Shoulberg begins in his new role.” Many people have gone online to express their support of Shoulberg, including in a petition to get him back on deck. In the hours since the news broke of his return to coaching, many of his former swimmers and current colleagues expressed their satisfaction that Shoulberg will be back doing what he loves most.
And that’s going to do it for our countdown of the top five swimming headlines of the past week. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s been an interesting one, to say the least. We’ll be back on Monday with the final episode of the Week That Was for 2013, which will no doubt include a headline or two from the Duel in the Pool and the Salnikov Cup.