Courtesy of: Joan Marc Bosch
PHOENIX, Arizona, January 14. SIT back and let's get the show started with the number five headline of the week.
At number five is the North Baltimore Elite Team's training trip to St. Petersburg, Florida, a trip that included Michael Phelps as he continues to ponder an official comeback. Phelps' nine-month drug testing blackout ends next month, so the clock is ticking on that decision. Also attending the training camp of note was Ous Mellouli, who is planning to join the group full-time, and Jessica Long, the Paralympic champion who is getting some great training with other swimming greats. While the team is trying to maintain a low-key profile during their time there, they got the attention of the Westminster College team also training in the area, who spoke with a local TV station about sharing the pool with Phelps and company.
Just about everyone from the North Baltimore team -- except Phelps, of course -- will be racing at the Austin Grand Prix this weekend. We'll see how training in Florida translates to racing when they step up in Austin starting on Friday.
Our number four headline this week comes from Great Britain and the news that legendary coach Bud McAllister is leaving his training base in Swansea for Australia. The move was prompted by British Swimming's decision to drop Swansea as one of the country's Intensive Training Centers, which means less money and fewer resources available for swimmers there. Welsh Swimming is trying to fill the void with support of its own, but a couple of top swimmers have already announced they are leaving for other training bases. The only one staying will be Jazz Carlin, who rose to international success with McAllister's guidance. McAllister hasn't said publicly where he plans to coach in Australia, but he could be a big draw for the future of swimming there.
Another black eye for Brazilian swimming took place last week, as a 13-year-old swimmer tested positive for an illegal drug, and that's our number three headline this week. The athlete's name hasn't been revealed because he is underage, but the drug he tested positive for has been widely publicized. Methylhexanamine has been a major issue for athletes around the world in the past few years, and the sentence for the Brazilian kid is just four months. Brazil has yet to have a year without a drug doping ban in 10 years, a record they are likely hoping to break before they host the Olympics in two years.
On Sunday in Japan, Kosuke Hagino stepped up for the 400 IM at a short course meters meet in Tokyo, and the result was a Japanese and Asian record for the 19-year-old. Hagino's time of 3:56.48 took two seconds off Daiya Seto's national and continental record from last August. For a bit of perspective, it's the second-fastest swim in history, just nine tenths of a second off Ryan Lochte's world record of 3:55.50 from 2010. Hagino has been making major strides in the 400 IM in the past two years, first earning a bronze medal in the event at the 2012 Olympics. Hagino was on pace to win the world championship title last summer, but fell off the pace in the final meters to place fourth. Hagino had just returned from a training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona, putting in some tough training at altitude. It's likely the return to sea level had some influence on his record swim, giving him a mini-taper of sorts.
And now we're at the number one headline of the week, and it's the news that Ryan Lochte's return to competition will take place at the Arena Grand Prix not far away from our Swimming World TV studio in Mesa, Arizona. (Editor's note: Lochte's return date was incorrectly reported. Lochte will return at the Orlando Grand Prix in February.) Lochte has been rehabbing a knee injury from October that came from a freak encounter with a fan that caused him to bang the knee on the curb and damage some cartilage. It appears rehab has been going well, with Lochte apparently ready to race six months later. Lochte had been signed up to swim in this weekend's Austin Grand Prix, but his coach David Marsh told Swimming World that Lochte is going to wait a little bit longer. Much of the speculation over Lochte's return questions his ability to do breaststroke kick, which a person coming back from a knee injury might or might not be able to do well. Lochte is the world record holder in the 200 IM, and I'm sure he's very anxious to race that event well in time for nationals and the Pan Pacific championships this summer.
That's going to wrap it up for this edition of The Week That Was. Join me next week when we recap another week of what is bound to be some great aquatic sports-related headlines. I'm sure the Grand Prix meet in Austin will give us more than a few things to talk about. I'm Jeff Commings, and that was the week that was.