The Week That Was: Olympians Highlight First Arena Pro Stop Of 2017

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

This week was the first major national competition in the United States of 2017, giving Olympians both home and abroad the chance to test the waters as they look to World Championships in Hungary this summer. Take a look below to see some of the top performances from that meet and the biggest stories from the week that was!

The Week That Was #5 – Georgia Women’s Streak Comes to an End

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The Georgia women’s team had won 103 consecutive dual or tri-meets at home, but that streak came to an end Saturday at the hands of the Texas Longhorns. Buoyed by excellent performances from Joanna Evans, Remedy Rule, Tasija Karosas and Madisyn Cox, Texas picked up a 171-124 win. Georgia won just one individual event all day, when Olivia Smoliga edged out Claire Adams in the 100 back. The streak had dated all the way back to November of 1995 when the Bulldogs lost to Florida in the second meet ever swum in the Gabrielsen Natatorium. The Georgia women had also been unbeaten in any dual or tri-meet going back to 2013.

The Week That Was #4 – Dana Vollmer Announces Second Pregnancy

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Three-time Olympian and former Cal Bear standout Dana Vollmer announced via Instagram that she and her husband, Andy Grant, are expecting their second child this summer. Vollmer posted a picture on her Instagram account with three swimsuits, one for each of her current family, and a diaper, writing “So excited to announce that we are welcoming a new little splasher to the family!!!!” Vollmer, 29, gave birth to her first child, Arlen, in March of 2015 after a short retirement following her gold medal success at the 2012 London Olympics. She made her return to the water shortly after at the Los Angeles Invite in June of 2015, beginning her run for a third Olympic Games. That comeback proved fruitful, with the five-time gold medalist leaving the Rio Olympic Games with one medal of each color. With a due date of July 2017, Vollmer would have ample time to continue in the water and make a run for the 2020 Olympic Games, if she so chooses.

The Week That Was #3 – David Plummer Announces Retirement

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympian and two-time Olympic medalist David Plummer announced his retirement this week. Plummer beat out defending gold medalist Matt Grevers to get second behind Ryan Murphy at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, securing himself a spot on the team after finishing third at Trials four years earlier. In a letter to the swimming community, the 30-year-old thanks his family, friends, and fans while also giving heartfelt thanks to both his mother and his wife for supporting him as he continued to chase his Olympic dreams over the past years. Plummer finished third in the 100 backstroke at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, continuing a strong American tradition of backstroke medalists at the Games. Teammate Murphy also grabbed gold in that event. Plummer also left Rio with a gold medal from leading off the 400 medley relay in prelims.

The Week That Was #2 – Chuck Wielgus Retires From USA Swimming

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Photo Courtesy: Swimming World

Chuck Wielgus, the Executive Director of USA Swimming, announced his retirement this week, ending his nearly twenty-year run at the helm of the organization. A major hallmark of Wielgus’ time has been the growth of the sport of swimming in the United States. Wielgus developed the Dual in the Pool concept, conceived of the annual Golden Goggle Awards, and pushed for more live television coverage that culminated in all eight nights of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials being shown on NBC. However, his tenure was not without controversy. In 2010, he had to defend the organization after a report from ABC News’s 20/20 claimed USA Swimming was not taking the proper steps to prevent sexual assault. The aftermath included an apology from Wielgus to USA Swimming coaches and the development of new measures to promote a safe and protected environment for athletes.

In a letter to USA Swimming members, Wielgus stated that the decision to retire was made due to his health. The Executive Director has had a recurring battle with colon cancer since 2006, and in his letter Wielgus noted that the cancer has returned to the point where his treatment will directly affect his ability to carry out his duties as Executive Director. USA Swimming plans to assemble a task force to search for the organization’s next Executive Director, as Wielgus’ retirement will be effective on August 31, 2017.

The Week That Was #1 – 2017 Arena Pro Swim Series Hits Austin

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Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

The first stop of the 2017 Arena Pro Swim Series kicked off this week in Austin, Texas at the famed Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center at the University of Texas. This was the first major national competition in the United States in 2017, and it featured a strong contingent of Olympians, including several athletes from the Japanese National Team. Olympian and former Cal Bear Jacob Pebley had a big weekend to start 2017, as he won the 200 backstroke (1:55.95) in the fastest times in the world this year. Speaking after his race, Pebley cited his fifth place finish in the 200 backstroke at the 2016 Rio Olympics as a major motivation in training the past 6 months as he looks toward this summer and the next Olympic quad.

Also making their return to competition was Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers, who missed making the 2016 Olympic Team by just one spot this summer. Grevers grabbed gold over Pebley in the 100 backstroke, taking the event in a dominant 53.31. Olympic bronze medalist Daiya Seto was a quadruple event winner throughout the meet, winning in the 400 IM (4:13.80), 100 butterfly (52.67), 200 butterfly (1:57.73), and 200 IM (1:58.77) while Melanie Margalis won three events of her own in the 200 breast (2:26.14), 200 free (1:58.78), and 200 IM (2:11.06). Other notable wins from the weekend included Josh Prenot in the 200 breast (2:11.15), Andrew Wilson in the 100 breast (1:00.63), and Breeja Larson in the 100 breast (1:07.17). For all recaps and results from the 2017 Arena Pro Swim Series stop in Austin, head over to our Event Landing Page.

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Author: James Sica

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James Sica is the Men and Women's Assistant Coach at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been an assistant coach at CMU in Pittsburgh, PA (2015-2017), a volunteer assistant coach with the Harvard women’s program (2014-2015) and an assistant with the Ithaca College men's program (2012-2014).

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