The Soak – Swim News In Brief (Jan 13-19): Kaylee McKeown sizzles in South Australia with Australian All-Comers Record in 100m Backstroke

RECORD FORM: Aussie Olympic hopeful Kaylee McKeown flies off the blocks. Photo: Courtesy Swimming Australia (Delly Carr).

Swimming World soaks up snippets from the realm of water sports around the world in a one-stop digest updated each day of every passing week.

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The Week of January 13-19, 2020

Sunday, January 19

Kaylee McKeown sizzles in South Australia with Australian All-Comers Record in 100m Backstroke

Tokyo Olympic hopeful Kaylee McKeown has chimed in with her own chart topper in Adelaide tonight – setting a new Australian All-Comers record with a sizzling personal best time of 58.52 (28.73;29.79) in the 100m backstroke at the South Australian State Championships at the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre.

GWANGJU Kaylee McKeown reaction

An OMG moment from Kaylee McKeown. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia (Delly Carr).

In a day that saw US world record holder Regan Smith rip out an impressive 58.26 at the TYR Pro Series in Knoxville, the 18-year-old McKeown, wasn’t going to let the day go without letting the world she too means business in this Olympic year.

McKeown clocked the fastest time ever swum in Australia, taking 0.10 off Emily Seebohm’s 2017 All-Comers time, and her time would have won her the gold medal at last year’s World Championships in Gwangju (faster than Canada’s Kylie Masse’s 58.62) although Smith did not race in the individual 100m backstroke, breaking the world record in the medley relay. McKeown was fifth in that final in 59.10, a race that saw her team mate Minna Atherton take the silver in 58.85.

Only Seebohm’s time of 58.23, set in London in 2012, is faster by an Australian.

The time also rockets her from 22nd in the World All-TimeRankings into ninth all-time, joining the who’s who of World domination in the women’s 100m backstroke:

  1. Regan Smith (USA) 57.57
  2. Kathleen Baker (USA) 58.00
  3. Kylie Masse (CAN) 58.10
  4. Gemma Spofforth (GBR) 58.12
  5. Anastasia Fesikova (RUS) 58.18
  6. Emily Seebohm (AUS) 58.23
  7. Missy Franklin (USA) 58.23
  8. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 58.45
  9. Kaylee McKeown (AUS) 58.52
  10. Taylor Ruck CAN) 58.55

Sunday, January 19

Mitch Larkin Chasing Elusive Tokyo Gold

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GOLD CHISEL: Mitch Larkin focused on Tokyo. Photo Courtesy: Sunday Mail

Olympic gold is the only medal Mitch Larkin missing from an impressive collection for the chiseled Brisbane-based backstroke and medley star and it is the one thing driving the 26-year-old all the way to his third Olympics in Tokyo.

Larkin is featured on the front cover of today’s Sunday Mail’s U on Sunday Magazine, the face of four Queensland athletes featured as the countdown to the 2020 Games hots up – a flagship in a city bidding to host the 2032 Olympics in sports crazed Brisbane.

And the two-time Olympian from London and Rio, where he won silver and bronze, was the golden boy of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where he won five gold medals and is a five-time World LC and SC gold medallist and a world record holder.

“I don’t want to go for the free uniform,” Larkin told Jane Armistead.

“I definitely want to be a contender and represent my country with the most pride that I can…and do the country proud.

“Olympic gold is the only medal I don’t have…it is very much in the front of my mind. I’d love to do that in Tokyo.”

Larkin also talks about his public split with fellow Olympian Emily Seebohm on the eve of the 2018 Pan Pacs.

“It was a constant niggle. It was always in the background and it was a lot of drain on me physically and emotionally which meant the sessions I was showing up to in the afternoon, which are our main quality sessions I was just fatigued,” said Larkin.

“Being a world champion does take a little bit of hard work and if you are fatigued with other aspects of your life they can certainly have an affect on how you perform.”

Describing the breakup as a “fantastic learning lesson” Larkin will tackle Tokyo differently.

“My swimming is open to everyone but my personal life is personal and I’m going to keep it like that,” says Larkin

 Saturday, January 18

British Team Test Provides Opportunity For Irish Hosts

The Dave McCullagh International meet in Bangor Aurora next month will be one to watch more keenly than ever: heading to the meet is a strong best-of-Britain squad including Olympic champion Adam Peaty, his World-champion medley teammates Luke Greenbank, James Guy and Duncan Scott, Olympic silver medallist Siobhan Marie O’Connor, European champions Hannah Miley and Ross Murdoch and the man who followed Peaty home in the World-title 100m breaststroke fight last July, James Wilby.

Peaty is the the pace pioneer who at Gwangju World Championships nailed Project 56 with a 56.88 World record over 100m and made it a knockout six World breaststroke titles for his pantheon in retaining the 50m and 100m titles for a second time.

His presence in Bangor on February 20-23, former Irish and Ulster president Betty Beattie tells the Belfast Telegraph, is “a real coup”. Peaty is among Brits who will race off the back of an Olympic preparation camp in Australia, the visiting squad providing great perspective and challenge for an Irish national team writing a new chapter in its performance ambitions.

The McCullagh International will mirror Tokyo 2020 Olympic-schedule timings, with evening heats and morning finals as some of the best in the world count down to their bid for Olympic qualification. Beattie tells the BT: “It will be great for the young swimmers to have a chance to see someone like him [Peaty], who’s at the very top of the sport.”

Darragh Greene racing Peaty; Jack McMillan racing Scott, Shane Ryan racing Greenbank. Opportunities to relish ahead of the Irish Championships and Olympic qualification meet in April at the National Aquatic Centre.

Brace Apiece For Belmonte and Muñoz At Catalonian In-Training Race Tests

Mireia Belmonte and Lidón Muñoz landed a double each at the Catalonian Championships in Terrassa, Sabadell, where the format of the meet is following the topsy-turbo Tokyo 2020 Olympic schedule of morning finals, evening heats. Belmonte clocked 4:14.54 in the 400m free, raced. Just over 2:20 over 200m backstroke and then took the win in the 200m medley the day after setting meet records on Distance Day, over 2km and 3km.

Lidon took the 100 ‘fly in 1:00.96 and the 50m free in 25.76, while Miguel Duran set a meet mark 3:52.67 for victory in the 400m free. In the 100m breatssroke Jèssica Vall clocked 1:10.13 for the win. The in-training race test continues this morning and ends tomorrow.

Friday, January 17

Belmonte at the double


Mireia Belmonte – Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

Mireia Belmonte, the Olympic 200m butterfly champion, cracked two meet marks in one race on Distance Day at the Catalonian Championships in Terrassa, home to the Sabadell Club on the edge of Barcelona.

Free-styling through the 1500m mark on 16:41.90, Belmonte set a meet mark of 22:13.89 at 2km on her way to victory in a second meet mark, of 33mins 21.58, at 3km. The training set was a three-way race, Jimena Perez Blanco through the 1500m on 15:35.24 on her way to second place in 33:35.62, the bronze to Maria De Valdes Alvarez in 33:50.28.

The men’s race went to Albert Escrits in 31:27.45, via a meet mark of 20:51.86 at 2km, his final time just shy of the meet mark of 31:26.24 he set last year.

The meet moves to traditional pool events from today until Sunday, Belmonte entered in all freestyle events 100 to 1500m, 50 and 200m butterfly and 200 and 400m medley.

Hosszu and Milak Named Hungarian Athletes Of The Year

Kristof Milak of Hungary celebrates after winning in the men's 200m Butterfly Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 24 July 2019.

Kristof Milak celebrates victory in Gwangju in world-record time. Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

World champion swimmers Katinka Hosszu and Kristof Milak have been named Hungarian female and male Athlete of the Year across all sports for 2019.

Milak took down Michael Phelps‘ decade-old World 200m butterfly record for the global title last July, while Hosszu, unbeaten over 200 and 400m medley at World titles 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019, extended her record tally of medley World crowns.

The Hungarian poll for Athlete of the Year is a vote among the country’s sports journalists. Hosszu, triple Olympic champion of 2016, has now won the prize seven times.

The Coach of The Year title went to Zsolt Varga of the Ferencvaros men’s water polo team, which in turn claimed the Team of the Year award.

Pellegrini: Should I Stay Or Should I Go – I’ll Decide After Tokyo

Federica PELLEGRINI of Italy prepares herself before competing in the women's 200m Freestyle Heats during the LEN European Swimming Championships at Europa-Sportpark in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. (Photo by Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK)

The flexible Federica Pellegrini – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Having indicated that she will race on after Tokyo 2020 as she accepted a Lion of Venice prize last week, Italian World 200m freestyle champion Federica Pellegrini sought to calm the speculation racing through Italian newspaper columns with a round of media interviews in which she notes:

“I could go [quit] after the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The race with myself is always on. I still feel butterflies in my stomach [when thinking of racing] and it is better that way … If I was too quiet inside myself that would mean that I did not care about the result; rather that tension leads me to be more active and more focused and to feel that way in every passing race is a blessing.”

She jokes: “I’m seriously thinking about announcing the end of my career just so that I don’t have to listen to ‘is this the last one, is the last one’ anymore”, then adds:

“Who knows … but now we do Tokyo and then we think. I do not want to say too much, let’s first get through qualifying and then we’ll see. Ending a career is a personal choice and should not be imposed by others. If I go to Tokyo, it will be my fifth Olympics but that does not change anything for me: it’s such a great thing to be a part of and it makes no difference if it’s your first or fifth. And then there’s the fact I’ve accumulated many prizes, including at the last two World Championships, which gives me a sense of security [that sticking with it was the right choice.”

Swim Ireland’s First Bumper Race Test of 2020

It’s a busy weekend for Irish swimmers and water polo players. Swim Ireland Senior Performance Team swimmers are in Belgium at the Flanders Cup this weekend.

The Performance Pathway Squad is to be found in Switzerland at the Geneva International Challenge (Fri-Sun):

Ireland Water Polo U17 Cup for Boys and Girls takes place in Lisnasharragh in Belfast. And, regionally, the Gerry Ryan Meet takes place in UL Sport, the Leinster Open Meet in Dublin and the Bangor Open in Ulster.

Dresden Opens Euros 36.8 million Pool Complex


Dresden’s new 50m pools complex – Photo Courtesy: screenshot, Sächsische Zeitung

Dresden, formerly a hub of world-class swimming in days before and during the era of the GDR, is making steps to bolster its faded aquatic offer. A new Euros 36.8 million Schwimhalle with two 50m pools has opened in Freiberger Strasse at the heart of the Saxon capital.

There are hurdles ahead. No major international global championships will ever be held there because the pools have eight not 10 lanes. There is talk of the German Championships being held in Dresden come 2025 but fire regulations dictate that no more than 400 people can be inside at one time.

There is also regional competition and old habits to overcome. The German Swimming Federation (DSV) concentrates the national program at excellence centres. Leipzig was the only such base in Saxony but it lost its national-centre status a couple of years back, Berlin and Magdeburg the closest elite national-team programs. Leipzig works on at that level, however, with coach Frank Embacher, mentor to Paul Biedermann and others.

Under a headline asking ‘Will Dresden become a Swim Metropole Once More?’, reporter Daniel Klein notes quotes Sebastian Halgasch, a European short-course champion from Dresden 20 years ago, supporting a move to have Dresden made a new national-program base:

“Embacher should have left [Leipzig] for Dresden with his appointment as national coach in 2017… because we have much better conditions here.”

Halgasch sees the barrier, too: Embacher hails from Halle in the neighbouring state Saxony Anhalt, down the road from Leipzig, the former swimmer adding: “And the Saxon Association is largely run by Leipzig officials.”

Dresden last held a national championship in the 1980s in the GDR. The new pool has a Wall of Fame with lists of champions and black and white photos of that era. They include many European, World and Olympic champions, Heike Friedrich and Rica Reinisch among those depicted but there is no mention of the other D word in GDR, doping, Reinisch among those who has been outspoken on that theme, stretching to lamenting her omission from a gallery in an old pool in her hometown on grounds, as she saw it, that she had taken a stand on doping and raised ghosts of the past in the interest of truth told and ensuring no repeat of the abuse young athletes endured.

Thursday, January 16

U.S. champ Amy Bilquist undergoes knee surgery

United States backstroke champion Amy Bilquist has undergone successful knee surgery, according to her post on social media.

Bilquist posted on Instagram: “Thank you to my amazing team of doctors and nurses for helping me get my knee back into tip top shape. Thanks everyone for your prayers and well wishes! I am feeling pretty good and can’t wait to get back into the water!”

Bilquist is coming off of her best year — despite working through a broken hand — after putting together several stellar swims for Cal at the NCAA Championships, then winning the U.S. title in the 100-meter backstroke in August.

She is expected to make a full recovery in time for the U.S. Olympic trials.


Amy Bilquist; Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

Simmonds and Dearing feature in Women’s Sport Trust campaign

Former double European champion Lizzie Simmonds and 2016 world 10km open water junior champion Alice Dearing are among 40 British sportswomen to participate in a five-month campaign named ‘Unlocked’.

The campaign, led by sports charity the Women’s Sport Trust, was launched on Thursday in Manchester in northern England and pairs 40 current and former athletes with the corresponding number of leading figures from business, sport and media, known as activators.

The activators will share their connections and experiences to develop a commonality of thought and actions regarding the most urgent challenges facing women’s sport.

A press release from the Women’s Sport Trust read:

“Individually and collectively they will challenge and support each other to unlock media platforms, pitch to investors, speak out on live issues, tell new stories, get into boardrooms and break down assumptions.  They will create an unprecedented critical mass of noise and energy to propel women’s sport to the next level.

“During the campaign the athletes will be provided with coaching to make them even more effective influencers and ambassadors, tackling everything from commercial insights to social media skills.  They will connect with their activator and work through how they can create tangible actions as well as communicating and learning from their wider peer group.  The campaign will also be challenging the public to help get women’s sport #UNLOCKED and share how they did it.”

Simmonds retired in July 2018 after a career that spanned two Olympics – in which she finished fourth in the 200m backstroke at London 2012 – and also took in world and European Championships plus the Commonwealth Games.

She is now Vice Chair role of the British Olympic Association Athletes’ Commission and is a Non-Executive Director of the British Athletes Commission (BAC), promoting athlete welfare across the high-performance system.

Dearing made her senior Great Britain debut at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia, and has competed at both subsequent editions, coming fifth as part of the mixed 5km team relay in Budapest, Hungary, in 2017.

She is currently the only black swimmer on Team GB which she has addressed in print and also spoke on film to Ed Accura, who leads the Blacks Can Swim campaign and is a co-founder of the Black Swimming Association.

USA women stung by Australia who end 69-game winning streak

Captain Rowie Webster

Rowie Webster. Photo Courtesy: Water Polo Australia (Harvpix).

The Australian Stingers have ended the USA women’s water polo’s 69-straight winning streak with a nail-biting 10-9 victory over the World and Olympic champions in front of a vocal 3000 strong crowd at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre tonight.

Aussie skipper Rowie Webster broke a 9-9 deadlock with a five-metre penalty with just 25 seconds left on the clock.

The two teams will meet in Saturday night’s decider.

US men fightback to sink Sharks and set up water polo Test Series decider

The USA-Australia men’s water polo Test Series will go to a decider on Saturday night after the Americans held on to beat the Sharks 10-9 in a hard fought clash in Brisbane tonight.

The Sharks fought their way back to 8-all after trailing by up to four goals but playing catch up finally took it’s toll with the Aussies leaving a clear passage in the middle of their defence, gifting Benjamin Hallock a criucial goal in the final quarter.

The Americans sealed the win with a Benjamin Stephenson goal and despite one final fling from Joe Kayes off an Aaron Young pass, following a US kick-out in defence, the visitors had sealed a deserved victory.

Hallock, Luca Cupido and Alexander Bowen stood out for the US who raced to a 4-0 lead early into the second quarter and as was the case in the opening Test on Tuesday.

Australia had to fight hard to put themselves back in the match.

And that’s just what they did with experienced Olympian Richie Campbell finding his mojo, passing to Jarrod Gillchrist who slammed home the Sharks opener before captain Aaron Younger cleverly held the ball before finding Joe Kayes for Australia’s second.

After a Bowen five-metre for the US it was Campbell himself who scored with an eye-catching push, bounce shot to make it 5-3.

Cupido scored his second before AJ Roach with his clever baulking making it impossible for US keeper Alexander Wolf to read and the dual Olympian fired off a powerful bounce shot – one of the best of the match, giving the Aussies a 4-3 quarter.

Warr Returns To Queensland Academy of Sport After Leading UK Sport

Chelsea Warr has quit as performance director of UK Sport in a return home as chief executive of the Queensland Academy of Sport. Elevated to the helm on UK Sport after the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, she will  move on before one Olympic cycle is done. Her tenure in Britain, however, dates back almost two decades.

Warr, who has predicted that Britain will exceed into Rio 2016 medals tally at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, has been placed on ‘gardening leave’ for six months. Gardening leave means that the person leaving a company/organisation does not actually do any work but remains on full pay for the duration of a notice period designed to prevent them from having any further influence on the organisation or from accessing confidential information that may be valuable to her new employer.

In practice, Warr will take a library of experience with her from Britain back to Australia. She came to prominence in Britain when Bill Sweetenham, then Britain performance director for swimming, engaged her as talent-spotter and leader in the Smart Track performance program. Warr worked with coaches and served as mentor and chaperone on International tours to the likes of Jazz Carlin, Fran Halsall, Lizzie Simmonds, Ellen Gandy, Jess Dickons and others who emerged from Smart Track. Those five named athletes alone generated 22 gold atop 73 international medals for Britain, England and Wales at Olympic, World, European, Commonwealth and Universiade levels between 2006 and 2016.

Off the back of Smart Track, Warr moved to UK Sport in 2005 to spearhead its talent identification program. She was promoted to deputy performance director in 2013 and then the main role after the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics.

Her latest move returns her to her roots: Warr worked at the Queensland Academy of Sport before answering Sweetenham’s call.

A UK Sport spokesman said: “We would like to thank Chelsea Warr for the significant contribution she has made to British Olympic and Paralympic sport over the past 18 years; both at UK Sport and prior to that at British Swimming. We wish her every success in her new role.” Michael Bourne, Deputy performance director at UK Sport, will take up the top job temporarily.

Aussie sprint stars Campbell and Chalmers  going the distance in 2020

Aussie sprint stars, Cate Campbell and Kyle Chalmers, more accustomed to 50s and 100s, are “going the distance” in the lead up to this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Campbell will be lining up in the Australia Day Sydney Harbour Splash (with races over 5km, 2.5km and 1km) with Campbell yet to announce which event she will contest, while Chalmers has entered both the 400 and 800m at this week’s South Australian State Championships at the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre.

Cate Campbell Cole Classic

Making a Splash: Olympic golden girl Cate Campbell will be going the distance on Australia Day. Photo Courtesy: Cate Campbell Instagram

Three-time Olympian Campbell will take to the waters of Sydney Harbour with the Splash Series returning for its fourth year on January 26 to celebrate Australia Day.

The iconic swims start at Rose Bay and follows the coastline giving swimmers stunning views to the iconic Harbour Bridge as they go.

“A year ago I moved to Sydney and did my first ocean swim…I loved it….so I’m doing another one….” said Campbell, one of the fastest swimmers in the world over 50 and 100m freestyle. “I’ve signed up for the Splash Series…just about the most Australian thing you can do on Australia Day.”

And for Olympic champion Chalmers he has a busy week of racing and training as he kicks off his 2020 season at home.

Asked what events Chalmers would race, his coach Peter Bishop said his super-charge had “entered lots (of events)….including the 400m freestyle which he would probably swim and the 800m freestyle which we are not sure about….the goal is to ensure he has a couple of races each day, while maintaining some training volume. We just need to see how he is holding up and how relays fit in as well. He may do some races in the morning and not in the final, with relays.”

Wednesday, January 15

Trey Freeman to Take Redshirt Year at Florida

View this post on Instagram

As championship season approaches, I felt that the time has come for me to share some information with the world. I will not be competing at SEC or NCAA championships and will be redshirting this season. With the support of my teammates, staff, coaches, and family, this fall I underwent surgery to address a lingering issue in my knee. Making this decision leading up to an Olympic year was not easy by any means, but it was the right thing to do. I will most likely never meet my tissue donor’s family, but for their gift I am infinitely grateful. This experience afforded me an opportunity to step back from the sport of swimming and figure out what I really want from it. With all the help I have received from the tremendous strength, athletic training, rehab, and nutrition staffs at UF, I’m glad to say I’ve slowly begun to return to the pool. But more importantly, I’ve found the same joy for the sport that got me to where I am today. I’m beyond grateful for the people in my life that have helped me through this and for all the support they have shown and continue to show. I’m disappointed I won’t be able to help the team out, but I can’t wait to watch my boys tear it up this spring. God bless. Go Gators. 🐛

A post shared by Trey Freeman (@tfreeman_3) on

Florida sophomore Trey Freeman announced on Instagram Wednesday that he will not be competing at SECs or NCAAs this year for the University of Florida. Freeman said he was going to have surgery to address a lingering issue in his knee.

“Making this decision leading up to an Olympic year was not easy by any means, but it was the right thing to do. I will most likely never meet my tissue donor’s family, but for their gift I am infinitely grateful.

“This experience afforded me an opportunity to step back from the sport of swimming and figure out what I really want from it. With all the help I have received from the tremendous strength, athletic training, rehab, and nutrition staffs at UF, I’m glad to say I’ve slowly begun to return to the pool.

“But more importantly, I’ve found the same joy for the sport that got me to where I am today. I’m beyond grateful for the people in my life that have helped me through this and for all the support they have shown and continue to show. I’m disappointed I won’t be able to help the team out, but I can’t wait to watch my boys tear it up this spring.

“God bless. Go Gators.”

Freeman has not swam at a meet officially for the Gators since September when he swam only three individual races against local Florida schools. He is coming off a summer where he was eleventh in the 400 free at US Nationals (3:51.16) and 15th in the 200 free (1:49.61). Freeman had a solid first season with Florida last season as he was 15th in the 500 at NCAAs with a 4:18.53.

He had the summer of his life in 2018 when he made the A-Final at US Nationals in the 200 free and also set his best times in the 400 and 800 free before he got to Gainesville. Freeman is the former national high school record holder in the 200 SCY free (1:33.06) and also swam at the 2017 World Juniors, winning the bronze in the 400 free and was fifth in the 200 free.

Nathan Adrian, Regan Smith, Alice Tai nominated for Laureus Sports Awards


Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

A trio of swimmers has been nominated for Laureus World Sport Awards. The awards are given out by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Winners of the 20th anniversary edition of the awards will be announced at the Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony in Berlin on Feb. 17.

The swimming nominees are Nathan Adrian, Regan Smith and Alice Tai.

Nathan Adrian was nominated for the Comeback Athlete of the year after battling back from testicular cancer. After months of treatment, Adrian anchored the U.S. to a gold medal in the400 free relay at the World Championships. He also won a gold medal as a prelims swimmer on the mixed 400 free relay. The other nominees include tennis star Andy Murray and NBA star Kawhi Leonard.

Smith, 17, is a finalist for the Breakthrough Athlete of the Year after breaking the world record in the 100 and 200 backstroke events at the world championships.  Other athletes in the category include Canadian tennis player Bianca Andreescu, who won the U.S. Open and Tour de France winner Egan Bernal of Colombia.

Tai is a nominee for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability. She won seven gold medals at the Para Swimming World Championships.

Busy Belmonte

Mireia Belmonte, who at the Rio 2016 games became Spain’s first Olympic swim champion among women when she claimed 200m butterfly gold, and the rest of the crest and following wave of Spanish swimming faces its first test of 2020 at the Catalonian Open, with open-water-distance events held in the pool in the mix, from tomorrow, Thursday, to Sunday this week. Belmonte, who has taken on the 10km in open water, is in for something not far shy of a marathon: down to race the 3km time trial, she is then entered in all freestyle events from 50m to 1500m, the 100 and 200m back, the 50 and 200m ‘fly and the 200 and 400IM. If she races all of that in heats and finals (some events heat-declared winner), the distance comes to 9.1km. The Open is among tradition meets that the Spanish taken on at this time of year and will mark the return to sea-level from altitude for several national team members, coach Fred Vergnoux and other members of Spain’s performance unit.

Daiya Seto Intends To Do His Bit In What Tokyo 2020 Might Do For Japan

Foto Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse 21 Dicembre 2019 Las Vegas - USA sport nuoto 2019 ISL - International Swimming League. Nella foto: SETO Daiya Photo Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse December 21, 2019 Las Vegas - USA sport swimming 2019 ISL - International Swimming League. In the picture: SETO Daiya

Daiya Seto – Photo Courtesy: Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse

In an Editorial in The Japan News under a headline “Games needs the participation of the nation in its entirety / Show what makes our hospitality unique”, the English-language offer from The Yomiuri Shimbun sets out the social, cultural and structural benefits that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games could bring to the host country if everyone does their bit. It notes what Daiya Seto sees as his bit when it quotes “his confident and inspiring declaration”, namely: “By winning the gold medal, I will create a good current for the Japanese team.”

Seto is said to have “started his training early in the New Year holidays, on Jan. 3”. His form in the past couple of Olympic cycles would suggest he started preparing a long time ago for the moment he would step up for the 400m medley a day after the Opening Ceremony in July.

Delhi 2010 Recalled With ‘Birds in the rafters Crapping in the Water’

The Commonwealth Games, one of the world’s biggest multiple sports events, has long been the subject of long column inches over its cultural role, its capacity to prepare young athletes for bigger Olympic moments to come and also its relevance to the 21st Century, its ability to pay its way and its tendency to quirkiness. The word “silly” has often been a part of all of that coverage – and today makes it into a Guardian headline that reads “Shooting fiasco makes the Commonwealth Games look silly again”. The piece by Andy Bull is all about plans to hold the Birmingham 2022 shooting events … 7,000km away in India. It contains this gem of Delhi 2010 memory, complete with the pigeons that did indeed defect in the pool and on laptops in the press stand:

“Among all my many cherished memories of the Games it is Delhi’s police monkeys I’m fondest of. They were vicious-looking gray langurs, highly-trained, we were told, and bussed in from up country to protect the spectators from the horde of mischievous local rhesus macaques. You would see langurs with their handlers, patrolling outside the venues. It was a necessary safety measure. Not long before, the city’s deputy mayor died when he fell off a balcony fighting off a macaque attack. It seemed to be a theme. A plague of moths drove everyone from the athletics stadium, and there were birds nesting in the rafters above the swimming pool, crapping in the water.”

Nike’s high-tech shoe heading for the same grave as shiny suits…?

The Nike shoe used by Brigid Kosgei to obliterate Paula Radcliffe’s women’s marathon world record last year is may end up in the same grave as shiny suits. The shoe is set to be banned when World Athletics introduces new rules on running shoes, writes Matt Lawton in The Times. The governing body may, however, declare a moratorium that protects the Kenyan’s mark of 2hr 14min 04sec, set in Chicago last October, which is 81 seconds faster than the previous record, set by Radcliffe in 2003.

Becker In Bathers At The Great Barrier Reef

Boris Becker, the tennis ace of yore now working with the German tennis federation as men’s head coach, saw the other side of life Down Under on his way to Melbourne and delays to the start of the Australian Open caused by bushfire smoke and then much-awaited torrential rain that swept in with thunderous storms. Becker boarded a cruise vessel in Port Douglas on Sunday, the Cairns Post reports, for a day of snorkelling and swimming over one of the world’s great natural wonders.

Tuesday, January 14

Atkinson Gives Thanks On The Road To Tokyo

ISL: Alia Atkinson

Team Iron’s Alia Atkinson reacts to another win on International Swimming League tour

Alia Atkinson has acknowledged the team around her as well as the personal strength that has seen her through good and bad times as she prepares to compete in her fifth Olympics in Tokyo in July.

The Jamaican, who won silver and bronze in the in the 50m and 100m breaststroke respectively at the 2015 worlds in Kazan, Russia, made her Games debut in Athens in 2004 where she competed in the 50 free and 100 breaststroke.

The 31-year-old has competed at every subsequent Olympics although she is yet to make the podium, locked out by one place in fourth in the 100m breaststroke at London 2012 and eighth in Rio de Janeiro four years ago.

Having already qualified for Tokyo 2020, Atkinson nodded to those around her on her Olympic journey so far, telling the Jamaica Gleaner:

“It has been a privilege to represent my country from the age of 15 at the Olympics.

“I have also been gifted with a family and sponsors that support and with their help, allowed me to stay in the sport.

“It also helps to have a commitment to yourself through the ups and downs.”


Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson; Photo Courtesy: PHLEX

As well as those world medals in 2015, Atkinson has collected three Commonwealth medals and has won the world 100m short-course title at the last three editions.

However, last year’s World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, saw Atkinson finish fourth in the 50m breaststroke – 0.19secs behind Yulia Efimova in third – while failing to make the 100 final.

She dug into the banks of experience and wisdom accumulated through years of international experience, though, and is now navigating the path to Tokyo.

She said: “2019 had a few stumbles and events that didn’t go as planned, but staying the course was my number one objective as I finished the year. My target now is stepping stones going into Tokyo, improving with every step I take.”

Atkinson is competing at the FINA Champions Swim Series in Shenzhen from 14-15 January.

Geneva Challenge The First Test of 2020 For Shoal Of Internationals

Jeremy Desplanches of Switzerland celebrates after finishing second in the men's 200m Individual Medley (IM) Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 25 July 2019.

Jeremy Desplanches celebrates an historic Swiss silver in the 200m medley at the World Championships in Gwangju – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Jérémy Desplanches, who wrote Swiss swim history with a silver medal in the 200m medley at the World Championships last July, headlines the Challenge International de Genève 2020 from Friday to Sunday this week. The meet is stacked with internationals, among those entered the Cercle des nageurs de Marseille club (which includes Florent Manaudou, Beryl Gastadello, Melanie Henique and Clément Mignon, though the precise list of which swimmers will be at the meet is yet to be confirmed); national team selections from Ireland, Scotland and Spain as well as several leading swimmers from Italy, including Fabio Scozzoli, Piero Codia, Alessandro Miressi, Nicolò Martinenghi, Martina Carraro and Elena Di Liddo.

Switzerland’s national team will test its in-training form at the Piscine des Vernets with Maria Ugolkova, Noé Ponti, Noémie Girardet, Nils Liess, Roman Mityukov and Antonio Djakovic all in action at the 53rd edition off a meet that became a staple on the European swim circuit long ago for the Genève Natation club founded in 1885.

Pools Close & Aussie Open tennis qualifiers postponed As Bushfires Rage On

A number of public swimming pools were forced to close their doors in Victoria, Australia, today as State authorities continued to warn people to stay inside where possible during the bushfire crisis sweeping the country. For vulnerable groups, such as young children the elderly, asthma sufferers and those with diabetes and heart and lung problems the message from Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton is to “avoid exposure to the smoke by staying indoors and limiting physical activity”. Thick bushfire smoke delayed the first day of qualifiers at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne today, with the toxic smog deemed too hazardous for athletes to play in.

Monday, January 13

Laure Manaudou On A New Sports Mission

If you’re in Iceland out on the cross-country ski trail between January 23 and 27, you might bump into Laure Manaudou, a swimmer taken to ice and desert alike in pursuit of a second sporting life, one that embraces fun, fitness and a fondness for soaking up life experiences while lending her brain and brain to good causes.

LaureManaudouHalf Marathon Des Sables Peru

Laure Manaudou, centre, and friends in the Ica Desert in Peru – Photo Courtesy: HMDS

The mood took Manaudou after the birth of her second child, Lou (a brother for sister Manon), in July, 2017. “It’s about sharing and have fun. It no longer requires me to be tied to a performance obligation … there’s no pressure to deliver results,” Manaudou tells Ouest France.

Except results for others: Manaudou will be there to raise funds for breast cancer prevention and treatment with the Keepabreast charity and its mantra ‘Because the cure is prevention! 🎀

The Olympic 400m free champion of 2004 will arrive in Reykjavik for the Destination Iceland Polar Raid Challenge [#DestinationIcelandByDFD #keepabreast] as one of many bound for 33km of cross-country skiing and other activities, including snorkelling in hot water springs, visits to geysers, the Blue Lagoon and Skógar, a village with a population of about 25 people located at the south of the Eyjafjallajökull glacier, and its waterfall, Skógafoss, on the Skógá river, which springs from 60 metres at the top of an eroded cliff.

The trip is not a one-off: Manaudou, who will run the New York Marathon in November, was to be found deep in the Ica Desert in Peru last month with a team of friends taking on the 84th Half Marathon Des Sables (HMDS – half marathon of the Sands).

In Peru last month, she hiked and ran the three stages – 30 km, then 60km and 30km – of the HMDS, overnighting in a bivouac and carrying her food and drink supplies on her back. She tells Ouest France:

“It’s for breast cancer prevention. It is a cause close to my heart, because there are many women who are affected and it is to prevent before it happens to us … “

With friends Emilie and Aurélie Arné Bordes, she clocked 21h 37.09, a bit back from the winner of the runners’ race Emily Sabo, of Canada, on 11h 56.42. The time that matters to Manaudou these days is the time she might help grant others who face the challenge of breast cancer. Says Manaudou:

“I play sports for fun now. Sometimes when I enter a race, people think ‘since she was an Olympic swimming champion, she’s going to be successful in other sports. In running, this is not the case. I do not run fast and I accept it. I’m there for other reasons.”

Manaudou has five Olympic rings that rule all other aspects of her career in the pool: Olympic gold over 400m freestyle at the Athens 2004 Games; the first Frenchwoman to win Olympic swim gold (and a medal of each colour at the same Games, with silver in the 800m Free and bronzed in the 100m back); the athlete who in 2006 finally took down Janet Evans’ 1988 World record over 400m free; a stellar 2007 World Championships that produced 200 and 400m free gold, 800m free and 100m back silver and 4x200m free bronze with France teammates; the founder member of the first sibling club to take solo swimming gold in Olympic waters, courtesy of brother Florent’s victory over 50m free at London 2012.

Global Athlete Kicks Back At IOC Over ‘Politics’ Rules for Tokyo 2020

Global Athlete has kicked back at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach’s New Year’s message (and the subsequent statement of the “Political” rights of athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games) with a statement on the issue of politics in sport:

“Let’s be clear, the Olympic Movement has already politicized sport. To mention a few instances; in PyeongChang the IOC promoted a unified South and North Korean team; the IOC has an observer seat around the United Nations Assembly; the IOC President regularly meets with Heads of States; the Olympic Movement notion of sport autonomy is overshowed by Heads of States also fulfilling roles as heads of National Olympic Committees and heads of IOC Commissions hold Ministerial positions. This ship has sailed; the IOC has already politicized sport.

“Under Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and sport rules should not have the ability to limit that right.

“The IOC does not compensate, nor do they employ the athletes to attend the games. In fact, the IOC requires athletes to sign away their rights to attend the Olympic Games. Athletes devote years of their lives to qualify for the Olympic Games. If athletes want to speak up – in which they respect others rights and freedoms detailed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – we should embrace their diverse opinions. Silencing athletes should never be tolerated and to threaten them with removal from the Olympic Games is another sign of the imbalance of power between sport leaders and athletes.

“Athletes need to stand together as a collective to ensure their rights are protected.”

Natalie Du Toit

Natalie du Toit Up For Laureus Prize

Natalie du Toit was 17 when she was involved in a traffic accident that led to amputation of a leg above the knee. That was the start of a second career as a swimmer racing for South Africa.

Those two careers shook hands in Manchester at the Commonwealth Games in 2002, when she made history by qualifying to swim in the able-bodied 800m freestyle final. It is that moment that places Du Toit on the shortlist for the Laureus Sporting Moment 2000 – 2020 award at a ceremony in Berlin on Friday this week.

European Records & Erika Villaécija’s Debut At Catalonian Masters

The 2nd Catalonian Open Masters Winter Swimming Championships at CN Sabadell over the weekend witnessed European records from Mallorcan Ramona Guillén (60+ age) and Pep Claret (75+). Guillén took the 200m ‘fly mark down below 3 minutes to 2.58.18, while Claret set the 50 butterfly record at 33.08.

The meet also marked the Masters debut of Erika Villaécija, the 2010 World short-course and 2004 European 800m freestyle champion for Spain. Now 35, Villaécija set three Spanish masters age records over 50 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 4×100 medley with her CN Sabadell mates in the +120 (4x 30-35 year olds) age group.

The Soak Digest