PHOENIX, Arizona, March 4. WE had a few records broken, some new records that are set to be broken and a star swimmer recognized for her record-setting performances. Let’s not waste any more time shall we? We start our countdown of the top five swimming headlines of the week at number five.
Last week, news broke that Grant Hackett was involved in a peculiar incident at a casino in Melbourne, Australia, in which the Olympic champion was wandering the casino floor improperly dressed while looking for his lost son. Though his son was later found unharmed, Hackett’s behavior prompted a flight to the United States to enter rehab for an addiction to the sleeping pill Stilnox. Hackett has admitted that he had an addiction to the pill when he was an elite swimmer, but would later deny that he was in the States to seek treatment. His family, though, continually stress that Hackett is here to seek help. This means 2014 is the third year in a row that Stilnox and Australian swimming are in the headlines together. You might remember the incident right before the Olympics in 2012 in which the men’s 400 free relay members took the pill during a night of pranking. Last year, those six got minor reprimands from Swimming Australia, and it forced an investigation into the federation’s practices.
Coming in at number four is the announcement that FINA will introduce junior world records in long course meters. Similar to what happened last year when the mixed relays became world record events, FINA has established the minimum time for these records, and those times will be the meet records from last year’s junior world championships. The swimmers who set those records, such as Caeleb Dressel in the 100 free or Ruta Meilutyte in the 50 and 100 breast, won’t get credit for the first junior world records. Since the age range is 14 through 17 for girls and 15 through 18 for boys, we could see the junior world records mirror the actual world records, especially where Meilutyte and Ledecky are involved. This could be an exciting motivator for young swimmers around the world as they attempt to call themselves the fastest junior swimmers in history not only in their country, but in the world.
The nominees for the Laureus World Sport Awards were announced last week, and Missy Franklin was one of the six mentioned in the category of World Sportswoman of the Year to come in at number three on our countdown. This is Franklin’s second year as a nominee for what is called the Oscars of sports awards, and her performances at the world championships last summer are being lauded in this nomination. We understand Franklin and her family will be a part of the March 26 ceremony, which is a few days after she’s done racing at the NCAA championships. Franklin was nominated alongside German soccer player Nadine Angerer, Jamaican track star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, Slovenian skier Tina Maze and American tennis ace Serena Williams.
A large number of performances at the past week’s college conference championships set up what could be a great NCAA championships, and those meets bring us to number two on our countdown. The Michigan Wolverines had one of their best – if not the best – conference meets ever, with an NCAA and U.S. Open record in the 800 freestyle relay to open the men’s Big 10 meet, and points scored by every member of the team. Penn State, Indiana and Ohio State were able to break through and win a few titles, but it was pretty much all Michigan all the time. At the Pac 12 women’s meet, it looked like Stanford was going to win after California got a disqualification in the 200 free relay on Thursday, but Cal rallied from fourth to first in the next two days to beat Stanford by 188 points. This likely took some of the sting out of losing to Stanford in the dual meet two weeks ago. Missy Franklin set meet records in all three of her individual events: the 500 free, 200 free and 100 free. Her 47.17 in the 100 free is a personal best, while she wasn’t far off her best times in the other events. Down in Austin, Texas, the Big 12 conference meet was pretty much an intrasquad meet featuring Texas winning all but two individual events. Jack Conger won two events and took down Aaron Peirsol’s meet record in the 200 back with a 1:40.56. Also notable at the meet was the 53.35 posted by Matt Korman in the 100 breast. What’s notable about it is that it was the fastest time at the meet, but done in the B final. Korman was part of the B team for Texas and therefore wasn’t allowed to swim in the A final. But that didn’t stop the junior from posting the top time of the day and enjoying a little celebration with it. Texas’ Lily Moldenhauer broke two meet records in one session, posting a 51.92 in the 100 fly and 51.48 in the 100 back. Both swims broke records set by Kathleen Hersey, with the 100 back time also breaking Hersey’s school record. You can read all about these and other great conference meets on our college news page at swimmingworld.com.
And now we’re at the number one swimming headline of the week, and it goes to Jacob Molacek and his amazing 52.92 in the 100 breast in the prelims of the Nebraska high school championships. That gives the senior the first swim under 53 seconds in high school competition, and obviously is a national high school record. Molacek swam a lifetime best 53.93 earlier this season at the Arena Grand Prix in Minneapolis in November, but to drop another second is incredible. Molacek didn’t replicate that time in finals, going 54.14, but used that saved energy to help his team set a meet record in the 400 free relay almost immediately afterward in finals. This is just another example of high school swimmers continuing to set the bar high this year. To refresh your memory, that’s the third high school record in the 100 breaststroke alone in the past month.
And that’s it, the top five swimming headlines of the past week. As you can tell, it was a great week, one that is bound to be topped by whatever comes our way this week.