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We’re less than 11 months from the 2016 Rio Olympics, and it’s not just the athletes that are working hard to make sure next year’s Games turn out well. In this edition of The Week That Was, we’re counting down the top five swimming headlines of the week, two of which concern the Olympic Games.
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The Week That Was #5: Miriam Sheehan takes down two national age group records
Phoenix Swim Club’s Miriam Sheehan is preparing to say goodbye to the 10-and-under age group, and she took down two national age group records over the weekend to cement her place as one of the top young swimmers in the United States.
Sheehan started with a 57.96 in the 100-yard backstroke, beating the existing record by almost two seconds. A day later, she was back for another record. This time, it was the 100 butterfly, and she swam a 59.67 to make it two events under 1:00. Miriam will be in the 11-12 age group for her next meet, and it’s likely she’ll already be near the top of that age group very quickly.
The Week That Was #4: Cierra Runge to transfer to Wisconsin in 2016
Cierra Runge was a major point scorer for the California Bears last March, helping them win the NCAA team title. Next fall, she’ll take her talents to the University of Wisconsin to help build that team. Though many had believed Runge would be transferring to Arizona State University, where she is now spending her redshirt year preparing for the Olympic Trials, Runge chose Wisconsin to work again with Coach Chris Collier. Runge had trained under Collier at North Baltimore Aquatic Club before she moved up the ranks nationally.
Runge scored big in the 200 and 500 freestyles at March’s NCAA championships. We’ll see if she sticks with the 1650 free as her third event, or moves down to the 100 free. For now, the focus is the Olympic Trials, where she has the potential to make her first Olympic team.
The Week That Was #3: Kylie Palmer given a warning by FINA three years after positive drug test
Two years ago at the world championship, Kylie Palmer tested positive for an illegal substance. She submitted urine and blood samples a day later, each of which came back negative. It took two years for the World Anti-Doping Agency to demand an investigation, and it came just as Palmer was getting ready for this summer’s world championships for Australia. While the investigation was ongoing, Palmer withdrew from the world championship team.
Last week, FINA ruled that Palmer would only be given a warning for the positive drug test and wouldn’t serve any suspension time outside of the time she voluntarily withdrew from competition. Swimming Australia and Palmer each questioned the timeline of the proceedings but accepted the decision. Palmer now is looking to put it behind her with a spot on the Australian Olympic team.
The Week That Was #2: Australian swimmers prepped for late-night racing at special camp
The timeline for swimming competition at the Rio Olympics will shift racing in finals to 10 p.m. each night. Swimming Australia is getting its athletes ready now for the major change, holding a week-long camp in Canberra last week to simulate the schedule many of them will face in Rio. That included two days of racing past midnight, eating in the middle of the night and sleeping well into late morning. The athletes spoke highly of the camp, saying the adjustment was weird but nothing they couldn’t handle.
Australia is the first country to gather its top athletes together for a concerted effort to get ready for the new schedule. The ADN Project in Italy will hold a few sessions throughout the year late at night, while Bob Bowman also said he’s slowly moving practice times to later in the day to get athletes adjusted. Besides the Olympics, no meet is scheduled to alter its racing timeline to give athletes the opportunity to test out their physical stamina before heading to Rio.
The Week That Was #1: FINA blasts Rio Olympics organizers over construction, water quality
FINA had largely been quiet about the preparations in Rio de Janeiro for next year’s Olympics. Last week, however, President Julio Maglione sent a letter to the mayor of Rio and the organizers of the Olympics, blasting them for what he believes to be substandard construction of the Olympic Aquatics Complex. Maglione is not happy with the planned 13,000 seats for spectators and media, a big drop from the 17,500 seats at the 2008 and 2012 Games.
Also, Maglione is calling for more testing of the waters that will host the 10K Olympic swim. This is coming more than two months after independent reports found human feces and other waste in the water. However, FINA held a 10K Olympic test event, and none of the athletes who swam got sick.