Splashbacks 2019 – Sept-Oct: Missy Franklin Married; Conor Dwyer Suspended & Quits; ISL Begins

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This year has been another stacked with thrills and spills in the aquatics world. It included the World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, and the debut of the International Swim League (ISL). Swimming World had our readers covered every step of the way. During the final days of the year, we’re looking back in “Splashbacks” to some of the most read stories of 2019.

Next up for top stories are the months of September and October. 

1. Missy Franklin Gets Married to Hayes Johnson

On September 14, 2019, four-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin tied the knot with former Texas swimmer Hayes Johnson. Prior to marrying Johnson (and becoming one herself), Franklin retired from the sport, leaving behind a legacy that included six Olympic medals and sixteen World Championship medals.

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Missy Franklin – the moment Hayes Johnson popped the question – Photo Courtesy: Matthew Bish, Oak and Willow Weddings via Instagram

2. Mental Health Issues Driving Coaches Out of Sport, Says Olympic Mentor Leigh Nugent 

In recent years, many have discussed the impact that mental health issues have on athletes, but fewer have discussed the impact that mental health issues have had on coaches. Olympic coach and mentor Leigh Nugent wants to change that.

The 68-year-old coach is no stranger to the sport, having spearheaded Australia’s success in Athens at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, and he is still actively involved. And looking toward Tokyo 2020 he has recently unveiled a new initiative called #lookafteryourcoach in Australia. The very basic idea behind the initiative is to simply say “thanks” to your coach for all that they do.

3. Katie Ledecky & Swim Stars Challenge FINA: World Records at League Should Stand (VIDEO)

Distance superstar Katie Ledecky neared one of the only distance world records that she doesn’t hold in October — the 400 freestyle. But many questioned what would have happened if she had broken the world record due to earlier comments from FINA stating that world records posted at International Swimming League (ISL) meets would not be ratified.

When asked her thoughts on FINA’s stance, Ledecky commented, “I didn’t even know that was true, or if it is true. I think all times should count if we are following the rules, which we are. That is the way it should be.” Other athletes, like Melanie Margalis and Sarah Sjostrom seconded her thoughts.

4. USA Swimming to Officially Recognize American Records Set in ISL Meets 

The International Swimming League was born… FINA said records set at events without its ‘approval’ because of calendar clashes with the World Cup would not count. The rest of the swimming world begged to differ – and counters all national and continental records established in ISL competition, USA Swimming leading the way.

5. Conor Dwyer Suspended 20 Months After Testing Positive for Anabolic Agent; Announces Retirement

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) suspended two-time Olympian Conor Dwyer in October 2019 after he tested positive on three separate occasions for anabolic agents. He was delivered a 20-month suspension that began on December 21, 2018 and explained his absence from the 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, but it also meant that Dwyer would be ineligible for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Soon after news broke of his suspension, Dwyer announced his retirement from the sport of swimming on social media.

6. Tennessee, Virginia Swimming and Diving Teams Pull Out of Tri-Meet with Michigan Due to Concerns over Canham Natatorium Safety

After questions circulated about the safety of the water at Michigan’s Canham Natatorium, the Tennessee and Virginia swimming and diving teams pulled out of an October tri-meet. The University of Michigan Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) Office worked with the Michigan swimming and diving team to test and clean the waters of Canham Natatorium and on October 10th, one week before the tri-meet was to take place, the Natatorium was approved for use.

7. USA Swimming Names High School Scholastic All-America Team

USA Swimming released the 2018-19 High School Scholastic All-America Team list in September, with the list including a total of 1,634 names. In order to be eligible, high school athletes (9th-12th) must have competed in the 2018-19 season, maintained a 3.5 GPA, and have met the 2018 Winter Junior time standards in the pool.

8. Ranking the Best NCAA Division I Women’s Swimmers from 1-25

Early in October, Swimming World released the pre-season ranking of the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s swimmers from 1-25. This list was not a prediction of the still upcoming NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, but rather a guide of top swimmers to watch as the season continues to unfold. The list took into account swimmers new and returning to the NCAAs, as well as which races will be looking for new event winners come March 2020.

9. NCAA Releases 2019-20 Division II, III Qualifying Standards

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) released the qualifying standards for the 2019-20 Championship meets for Divisions II and III in late September. The NCAA released both A and B cuts for all events and posted cut times in short course yards.

9. NCAA Champion Abrahm DeVine Called Out Stanford Swim and Dive Team for Treating Him Unfairly for His Sexuality

Two-time NCAA champion Abrahm DeVine delivered a shocking bomb in September when he called out the Stanford men’s swimming and diving team for treating him unfairly for his sexuality. While he did not publicly come out until his senior year at Stanford, in his social media post, he specified that he was treated unfairly all four years.

In his social media post, DeVine states that he was “kicked off the Stanford swim team,” yet he graduated in May 2019 an NCAA champion. Stanford later issued their own response, stating “it is truly unfortunate Abe feels this way. That said, Abe wasn’t invited back to train with us this, as a postgraduate, for reasons unrelated to his sexuality.”