Photo Courtesy: Granger Talley
TUCSON – We’re 18 months away from the 2016 Olympic Games, but things are starting to get intense, in and out of the pool. The next leg of the Arena Pro Swim Series featured some spectacular swims, and athletes all over the world now know how fast they have to swim to automatically qualify for the Olympics. Those are just a couple of the top swimming headlines of the week, and we’re bringing you the top five now on The Week That Was!
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5. ISHOF relocating to Santa Clara
After more than a year of searching for the right location, the staff at International Swimming Hall of Fame announced that the organization will move across the country from its longtime home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Santa Clara, Calif., in a new three-acre facility that will take about five years to build. The hall of fame will be adjacent to the new Santa Clara Swim Center as part of a massive aquatic park. Santa Clara has long been one of the places ISHOF CEO Bruce Wigo wanted to relocate, though southern California was also a viable option. The Hall of Fame started in the 1960s in Florida and had lost favor from the Fort Lauderdale City Council about five years ago. When the contract between ISHOF and the city ended, the search was on for a new home. While the new complex is being built, Wigo will be looking at temporary sites to house the many artifacts and memorabilia that would be open for visitors.
4. 2016 Olympic swimming qualifying times released
FINA released the times needed to automatically qualify for swimming events at the next Olympic Games, giving hundreds of athletes around the world a specific goal to train for in the net 12 months. While some of the more successful swimming countries such as the United States and Australia generally do not need to focus on qualifying times, many countries do not have the luxury of knowing that the best athlete in each event is already faster than the qualifying time. In order to swim at the Games, an athlete must beat the “B” qualifying time. If a country wants to swim two athletes per event, then both must meet the “A” qualifying time. This doesn’t apply to developing countries which will receive invitations to the Olympics under the universality clause, but it is still good to note how fast the meet will be. Right now, about 30 or so athletes in each event fit that bill based on last year’s rankings, and we’ll see how that all shakes out as we get closer to 2016.
3. Arkady Vyatchanin looking to swim for Serbia
Arkady Vyatchanin has found a country willing to help him with his goal of competing on the international level. Since breaking from his birth nation of Russia almost two years ago, Vyatchanin has been A Man Without A Country, unable to compete at the world championships or any other meet where a sport nationality is required, including the World Cup meets. Now, the Serbian swimming federation is looking to speed the process so he can swim at the world championships this summer. Vyatchanin could be an asset for Serbia’s medley relay, and bring another strong medal contender into the mix in the backstroke events.
2. USA Swimming to boycott all open water races in UAE
After a few athletes voiced a desire to stay away from any open water race in the United Arab Emirates, USA Swimming followed suit last week as Executive Director Chuck Wielgus told Swimming World that no American swimmer will race in the UAE. As you might remember, Fran Crippen died in an open water race in 2010, and many in the global open water community have voiced disappointment in FINA for allowing another open water race to take place in the UAE, where water temperatures are barely within guidelines. As of now, no other country has publicly stated an intent to stay away from the UAE race slated for mid-March. The race will be part of FINA 10K World Cup circuit, and money will be on the line. But morals appear to have taken the upper hand with USA Swimming.
1. Elite athletes kick off New Year in Austin.
The Austin stop of the newly-renamed Arena Pro Swim Series is never without excitement as professional athletes get to racing for the first time in more than a month. In a race for not only prize money but a one-year lease on a BMW, Conor Dwyer and Elizabeth Beisel raced often in Austin and hold on to their leads in the points race. Katie Ledecky isn’t eligible for prize money, but she cleaned up in Texas with wins in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 freestyles. She got a lifetime best in the 100 free, then got the crowd on its feet when she nearly broke her world record in the 800 free, missing it by 21 hundredths of a second. The only major record of the meet came in the men’s 100 breast, where 15-year-old Michael Andrew won his first race against other professional swimmers and broke the 15-16 national age group record with a 1:01.67. Katinka Hosszu came to Austin to race multiple times and though her winning ways from the World Cup didn’t continue in Texas, she said she was happy with the way she swam, as she’s in a better place than she was at this time last year.