The Soak – Swim News In Brief (Jan 20-26): Freya Anderson Embraces The Gladiatorial Arena

Freya Anderson at home in the gladiatorial arena - Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

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 20-26, 2020

Saturday, January 25

Anderson Embraces The Comfort Zone Of Top Competition 

Freya Anderson thrives in the gladiatorial arena of major competition and embraces the pressure and intensity of what can be an unforgiving spotlight.

The 18-year-old has been on scorching form over the past couple of months with 50m and 100m freestyle gold at the European Short-Course Championships in Glasgow in December 2019.

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Freya Anderson – Photo Courtesy: LEN

That was followed by an eye-opening campaign at the Flanders Cup last weekend when she won the 50, 100 and 200m free treble.

There was a new PB of 25.06 in the splash and dash and an eyebrow-raising best of 1:56.06 in the 200 elevating her to third British woman all-time behind Jo Jackson, the 2008 Olympic 400m bronze medallist, and Siobhan O’Connor.

All of which hints at an exciting 2020 to come with the Olympics in July the focal point should she qualify at the British trials in April.

Not for Anderson are there debilitating nerves but instead an exhilaration, a swimmer at home in the water.

She told Sky News:

“I get excited. I think that’s my comfort zone.

“I’m definitely more comfortable standing in front of tens of thousands of people in a race suit than speaking in front of 10 or 20 people.

“I don’t know why that is. I think it’s that swimming has been my comfort blanket and it’s something that I really enjoy.”

Anderson is guided at Ellesmere Titans by Alan Bircher who believes she can get among the medals come Tokyo.

“She’s a competitor. She can stand up in the race arena and touch the wall quicker than anyone else,” he said.

“I think she can be on the podium. We’re trying to point her in the right direction. If that happens, so be it, if it doesn’t, back to the drawing board and she goes again.”

So too does Anderson acknowledge how essential all the hard work is if she is to be the best version of herself in July.

“Sometimes [training] is really hard and I can’t go without moaning, but you just have to keep your eyes on the prize,” she said.

“With the Olympics being so close, I don’t want to be stood behind the blocks in Tokyo, if I make the team, and have regrets I didn’t put everything into the training. I’m trying to go about just not holding anything back.”

Friday, January 24

Ryosuke Irie – A Fast Thirtysomething

Ryosuke Irie celebrated his 30th birthday in style with a fast 52.59 victory over 100m backstroke on the first day of racing at the Kosuke Kitajima Cup in Tokyo. After 53.12 in heats, Irie, known not just for speed but the smoothness and aesthetic quality of his backstroke technique, raced to the top of the early 2020 World rankings way ahead of Masaki Kaneko, on 54.33.


Ryosuke Irie – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Irie’s effort was not far from his Japanese record of 52.24, set in shiny suit at the 2009 Australian Championships. His effort today would have taken silver at the World Championships last year in Gwangju a slither behind China’s Xu Jiayu and a 52.43.

In other action at the Kitajima Cup named after the most decorated Olympic breaststroke champion (four golds, 100, 200m, 2004 and 2008), in-form Worlds silver medallist Katsuhiro Matsumoto clocked a meet mark 1:45.82 (0.9sec ahead of the previous mark) in the 200 free – close to his national record of 1:45.22 from the global gathering in Gwangju last year, and good for a dominant win ahead of Naito Ehara, on 1:47.64. Back in 10th today was Kosuke Hagino, on 1:52.19.

There were also fine efforts from Masato Sakai, Olympic silver medallist, and Nao Horomura, on 1:55.48 and 1:55.84 respectively in the 200m butterfly.

Yui Ohashi topped the bill among women, on 2:08.78 in the 200m butterfly, while Chihiro Igarashi took the 200m freestyle in 1:58.94, Rio Shirai the 100m backstroke in a meet mark of 1:00.33, and Reona Aoki the 100m breaststroke in 1:06.98.

Para-Swimmer Harvey Walks Tall After Visit To Suzuka University

British para-swimmer Grace Harvey has posted film of “a day she won’t ever forget” after “for the first time ever I stood straight” and “walked with a normal walking pattern”.

Harvey, who won bronze in the S6 100m backstroke at the 2018 Para Swimming European Championships in Dublin, Ireland, had been on a training camp with her British team-mates in Suzuka, Japan, acclimatising for the Paralympics which start on 25 August in Tokyo.

Of the three-week camp, the Manchester National Performance Centre swimmer told British Swimming:

“This is the best camp I’ve been on; the athletes are all so supportive of one another. It’s a great experience to be able to familiarise ourselves with the holding camp before the Games. Training has been hard, but it’s been fabulous having new training partners to swim with, as it enables us to push each other in the water.”

Count of Sex Abuse Charges Against Paul Frost Tops 100

Paul Frost, the son of Australian coach Doug Frost, now faces more than 100 charges of sexual abuse against boys,, 43, was arrested in New South Wales last September and since abuse of two boys between the ages of 8 and 16 were reported, the number of allegations against the swim coach have soared to triple figures. The charges range from grooming to indecent assault and aggravated sexual assault. The alleged crimes are said to have been committed by Frost while he was working at the Doug Frost Swim School in Sydney. Paul Frost is currently on bail. He will next appear in court on March 11.

Thursday, January 23

TSS Girls Melverton and Gough Continue Pool Duel in Adelaide

TSS Aquatic Olympic hopefuls, training partners and goods friends Kiah Melverton and Maddie Gough have again swum stroke-for-stroke in another distance duel in Adelaide tonight.

Melverton (8:26.90) and Gough (8:27.88) finished first and second in the women’s 800m freestyle ahead of 16-year-old Emily White (8:48.85) from Nunawading on the final night of the 2020 South Australian State Championships at the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre.

The pair, coached by reknown former British Olympic coach Chris Nesbit, at The Southport School, have their sights on the 400, 800 and 1500m freestyle at the Olympic Trials at the same venue from June 14-19.

Twenty-three-year-old Melverton (7th at Worlds in the 800 and 7th in the 1500) led through the first 300m before 19-year-old Gough (5th in the 1500m at Worlds) took over and led until past 750m but it was Melverton’s spirited final lap split of 29.26 that saw her out-touch her team mate.

The rivalry will only become even greater when you add world champion over 400m Ariarne Titmus (St Peters Western), World Junior Champion over 400, 800 and 1500m Lani Pallister (Cotton Tree) and 10km Olympic team member Kareena Lee into the mix and the women’s middle distance and distance freestyler finals at Trials will be ON!

Tributes Paid After Masters Swimmer Dies Aged 105

Tributes have been paid to masters swimmer John Harrison – the first British man to set a world best time in the 100-104 years age group – after he died on Friday 17 January aged 105.

Harrison, who was a member of Godalming Swimming Club and the Royal Navy Swimming Club, also set five records in that category during his centenary year and held 30 British and 10 European records.

Born in Farnborough in southern England on 25 July 1914, Harrison began swimming at the age of five when he went skinny dipping in an old Army horse pond, according to English national governing body for aquatics, Swim England.

Jim Boucher, Swim England’s representative on the Home Countries Swimming Management Group, said:

“Our eldest master John set and broke many records and was thrilled to set about the 100-104 age group in 2014, his centenary year.

“A sharp wit and a great pianist, John was loved by all who knew him and met him in masters competitions.

“Our condolences go to his family as we remember this wonderful man and celebrate his presence in masters swimming.”

Wednesday, January 22

Berlin’s Europa Sports Park May Double In Size

The swimming and diving pool complex at the Europa Sports Park in Berlin has a hidden secret: what we see is only half of what looks set to be. In a vaulted hall next to the swim and diving pools and alongside the neighbouring velodrome at the semi-subterranean sports centre topped by a park and orchard on its roof is an unfinished part of the building.

The vast space, capable of housing at least one Olympic-sized pool, has been used for storage ever since the complex was built as a millennium project and part of Berlin’s failed bid to host the 2000 Olympic Games.

Now, Berlin authorities have ordered a review to take place in time for a June decision on pressing ahead with getting the empty hall turned into a new aquatics zone alongside existing facilities. Early plans suggest that the complex will become Europe’s biggest pools complex.

Back in the 1990s, Berlin had been a front-runner at the end of a decade that started with reunification of East and West but its bid was marred by anti-Olympic protesters who marched through the city four days before the final International Olympic Committee (IOC) votes were cast.

The protests highlighted concerns over the cost of hosting the Games 64 years after the 1936 Olympics in the city, when swastikas dominated the skyline and Hitler held sway and Olympic associations with the Nazis were cordial and close. Financial concerns were also cited when Hamburg’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games was halted by a 51.7 percent vote against hosting in a city referendum in November 2015.


Berlin’s temporary pool takes shape in the velodrome in 2014 – Photo Courtesy: Craig Lord


Berlin’s temporary pool in the velodrome in 2014 – Photo: Craig Lord

In 2014, the main competition pool for the European Championships was dropped into the velodrome as a temporary facility to provide the 10 lanes required, the permanent 50m pool next door used as a training and warm-up/down facility. The championships hosted the breakthrough of Britain’s Adam Peaty two years out from Olympic gold in the 100m breaststroke at the Rio 2016 Games.

Proposals for the Berlin pool include a day-care centre linked to sports courses and the creation of a new swimming home for schools and sports clubs in pools that would also be used for leisure and fitness activities, including a sauna and wellness area. By June, Urban planners will determine whether the largely windowless structure is suitable for some of the uses being proposed.

The current pool attracts 550,000 visitors a year and has 4,000 permanent spectator seats. Double such statistics and the complex would be, by far, the biggest swimming centre in Europe.


The venue – an artist’s impression – Photo Courtesy: Tokyo2020

Tokyo 2020 Swim Pool Due For February Completion

Construction on the $523 million Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games venue for swimming, diving and artistic swimming is on schedule to be completed by the end of February. The Aquatics Centre in the Bay Zone will seat 15,000, which will be reduced to 5,000 after the Games in legacy mode. The main pool features a movable wall allowing the 50m facility to be converted into two 25m pools. The depth of the bottom can also be adjusted.

Invictus Games Begin in The Hague

The 2020 Invictus Games, the 6th sporting competition for wounded, injured, and sick servicemen and women, has got underway in The Hague. The Games, funded by the UK’s Duke of Sussex’s Royal Foundation with support from the LIBOR fund, is a vehicle to introduce those wounded, injured, and sick during the course of their military service, to Paralympic sports and encourage them to stay physically active. The Games features over 500 competitors from 19 nations – including 65 athletes from the U.S. – and nine adaptive sports (archery, athletics, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby). Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, have made headlines around the world this past week over their decision to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family.

Global Athlete calls on UK Anti-Doping to act with transparency

Anti-Doping: In response to an announcement from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announcement last week that it will investigate all athletes who trained under British run new Mo Farah’s former coach, Alberto Salazar, the UK Anti-Doping Agency (ukada) said last Friday that it would need “credible evidence” a sample contained a banned substance before handing it over to any investigation.

This is the response of Global Athlete, the representative body:

22 January 2020: Global Athlete has taken notice of UK Anti-Doping’s (UKAD) public response to deny the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) request to reanalyse samples. “Global Athlete fully supports the rights of all athletes. We have said time and time again that transparency builds confidence and trust in the anti-doping movement, that is why we are calling on both UKAD and the WADA to publicly disclose the reasons for not coming to an agreement on terms of the retesting” said Global Athlete Director General, Rob Koehler.

“UKAD has a responsibility to its athletes. Failure to be fully transparent places a cloud of suspicion over athletes and it undermines the credibility of the anti-doping system. Athletes have no say in the decision to have their samples retested and they must rely on anti-doping authorities to make those decisions to protect their rights for clean sport.” added Koehler.

The World Anti-Doping Code clearly states that its purpose is to protect the Athletes’ fundamental right to participate in doping-free sport and thus promote health, fairness and equality for Athletes worldwide. By denying this we take a clear step backwards for the rights of athletes globally.

Tuesday, January 21

Lewis Pugh Swims The Meltwater He Wants To Refreeze

On the eve of a “swim where no human has swum before: 1km across a supra-glacial lake in East Antarctica” to highlight the approach to a cliff edge on climate-change, Lewis Pugh, the United Nations Patron of Oceans, has released magnificent images of him swimming in meltwater in an ice-tunnel under the Antarctic ice sheet.

The images – by Kelvin Trautman, a photographer & filmmaker who also described himself as “Outdoorsman & Athlete” – are spectacular, and mark the start of Pugh’s Antartica2020 mission, set back in 2016. Tomorrow brings on the East Antarctica leg of the campaign: the 1km across a supra-glacial lake with Slava Fetisov, as reported by Swimming World last month when Pugh ran an advert seeking polar swimmers to join him.

In a series of tweets, Pugh highlights the beauty and majesty of Antartica – and what the world is losing as the ice melts away at a rate never before measured in the lifetimes of those measuring. The swim by Pugh and Fetisov coincides with speeches from Greta Thunberg and Donald Trump at the Davos World Economic Forum.

Pugh writes:

“I can hardly believe what I have just experienced, swimming in a river UNDER the Antarctic ice sheet. Every shade of blue imaginable – it was utterly magnificent, and absolutely terrifying. Antarctica is melting. #Antarctica2020

East Antarctica is vast and beautiful, but everywhere we look there is meltwater. I will be swimming across one of these supra-glacial lakes to demonstrate the rapid changes taking place here, and to call for urgent action on climate change. #Antarctica2020

Sport Ireland pledges €10m to Tokyo 2020

Sport Ireland has dedicated over €10m in high-performance funding to this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympics, its highest ever support at this level. The organisation predicts two to five medals at the Olympics, while the sum being invested to raise Ireland’s game at the Games through the ranks and across all sports has been boosted by a €2.4m contribution through the individual grant system known as carding. High-performance programmes got a total of €8.3m, with €600k each going to the Olympic and Paralympic Federations in the €36m funding announced yesterday.

The carding scheme funds athletes in three categories — Podium Class (€40,000), World Class (€20,000) and International Class (€12,000). No swimmers have yet made those grades, though progress across the high-performance program under the guidance of Jon Rudd has been impressive. Swimming has been allocated €630,000 for 2020, leaving the total investment since 2017 at €2.3m.

Monday, January 20

Elizabeth Beisel, Cullen Jones Instruct Boston Celtics Basketball Players in Learn to Swim Courses

It is never too late to learn how to swim.

Boston Celtics rookie Grant Williams went through a learn-t0-swim course over the weekend with former Olympic swimmers Elizabeth Beisel and Cullen Jones. US Masters swimming partnered with the basketball franchise to help five players learn how to swim with certified instructor Sue Jensen over the next several weeks. Beisel and Jones were also present at the instruction.

Players Kemba WalkerTacko FallSemi OjeleyeRobert Williams III and Grant Williams will receive lessons from Jensen, who regularly teaches adults how to swim with Charles River Aquatics Masters.

The goal of USMS’s Adult Learn-to-Swim initiative is to help adults become safer around the water.

Coronavirus Causes Concerns For Travellers

Swimmers leaving the FINA Champions Series in China today after events in Shenzhen and Beijing this past week are among travellers being urged to take extra precautions following three deaths among more than 200 confirmed cases of a new strain of coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Cases have been reported both in Shenzhen and Beijing, cities that hosts the FINA series that ended yesterday. The source of the latest strain, as with previous strains, comes from animals, or possibly seafood, according to experts.

The latest virus was first reported in Wuhan City, Central China’s Hubei Province in December 2019.

Many of those infected either worked or frequently shopped in the Huanan seafood wholesale market in the centre of the Chinese city. Beyond a reported 217 confirmed cases, seven further suspected cases had been reported by the close of the working day in Wuhan, Chinese state news reported.

The Chinese Government has issued urgent advice as part of efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus as fears spread of person-to-person contamination at airports, m train stations and other places where large numbers of people are congregating during the Chinese new year holidays in the week ahead.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered provincial governments and state departments at all levels to put health and safety first. He urged authorities to take effective measures to stop the spread of the virus, make all efforts to cure the infected, find out the origin of the virus and how it has been spreading, demanded timely release of information on the virus and its spread – and pleaded for stronger international cooperation.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that China will work with other nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) to contain the outbreak, while China’s National Health Commission has formed a coordination group to help local governments to cope with the epidemic.

Russian Federation Announces Death Of Olympic Coach Shevelev

russian-flag RussiaThe Russian Swimming Federation has announced the death of national team coach Georgy Viktorovich Shevelev aged 78 following a long illness.

Viktorovich enjoyed a lengthy coaching career which began in 1967 and he joined the national team in 1990. However, his swimmers included some banned for doping.

Among his swimmers was Vladimir Pyshnenko, who won one gold and three silver relay medals across the 1992 and 1996 Olympics in Barcelona and Atlanta respectively as well as two relay silvers at the 1994 World Championships and four European titles.

Pyshnenko, a member of the Russian 4x200m relay team that set a world record in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, was one of three Russian swimmers who tested positive for steroids at a training camp in Cyprus in October 1997. The other two swimmers were sprinter Natalya Mescheryakova, then European champion in the 50m free, and Olga Kochetkova, a backstroke specialist. They were all barred from the 1998 World Championships in Perth.

Shevelev also guided Rio 2016 Olympian Ilya Khomenko, the 2013 world junior 100m breaststroke champion, who claimed silver as part of the Russian 4x100m mixed medley relay after swimming the heats at the European Championships in Glasgow in 2018.

A statement on read: “The All-Russian Swimming Federation expresses its sincere condolences to the colleagues, relatives and friends of Georgy Viktorovich Shevelev.”

NBC’s New Peacock Service To Stream NBC Coverage Of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games


Peacock, the over-the-top streaming service that NBCUniversal (NBCU) will launch on April 15, will provide extensive coverage of this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. The service will be rolled out nationwide in the United States on July 15, nine days before Tokyo 2020 begins, according to Front Office Sports.

There will be five hours of daily live coverage from the Olympics as well and dedicated studio shows to be called Tokyo Live, Tokyo Daily Digest, and Tokyo Tonight.  These, including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the New National Stadium will be exclusively live streamed on Peacock, hours before the ceremonies air on NBC on prime time.

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