The Soak: Australia’s Fitting Farewell For Ian “Finnie” Findlay

MEMORY LANES: The swimming community led by super coach Laurie Lawrence and his former squad members remember their mate, former Australian swimmer and coach Ian "Finnie" Findlay. PHOTOS Courtesy Julie McDonald.

The Soak – Swim News In Brief

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.

If you have a snippet of news for us, let us know:

The Week of January 3-February 9, 2020

Saturday, February 7

Australia’s Fitting Farewell For Ian “Finnie” Findlay

It was a special service for a special kind of guy when hundreds of people from Australia’s swimming community joined family and friends to farewell former Australian Dolphin and internationally acclaimed swim coach Ian “Finnie” Findlay on the Gold Coast yesterday.

The 55-year-old lost his battle with Parkinson’s Disease and onset Dimentia after a 15-year-old fight that only someone as tough and resilient and positive as “Finnie” could manage for as long as he did.

A swimmer who graduated from a pocket rocket in Sydney’s eastern surburbs to the might of the powerhouse Lawrence team – under the master himself Laurie Lawrence and the star-studded AIS team and alongside the likes of Duncan Armstrong, Justin Lemberg and Jonno Sieben amongst so many more who turned up and sent their messages of support in honour of one of swimming’s great characters.

Lawrence, alongside Armstrong, gave “Finnie” the send off he was probably expecting, full of fun, laughter, theatre and exercise.

“Finnie” – the push up and lunge king – was the one squad member who led his Lawrence team mates by example and in honour of his “all or nothing” attitude, Lawrence had the congregation on its feet and stepping out to give “Finnie” 10 one-legged lunges – a Laurie moment that only he could orchestrate in a church – but it was a fitting moment for the man who toughed it out for as long as he could.

Lawrence addressed his former swimmer and assistant coach who would go on to coach Glen Housman to become the second man in history to break 15 minutes for 1500 – a casket draped in his 1983 Australian tracksuit top from the Kobe Pan Pacs and an Australian scarf and a terry toweling hat – the award for the surf swimmimg challenge he did with Lawrence on his regular swims along Burleigh Beach.

Former Lawrence swimmer, breaststroker Colette Gunn, told of the group of family and friends with Ian’s wife Nic known as “Finne’s Angels” who would visit him in his nursing home every week, for almost five years, sit with him and take him for coffee, Maccas and a Friday night beer, celebrating birthdays and Christmases.

It was an example of the extraordinary love and camaraderie in the swimming community, especially the Lawrence group from the 80s, who turned out in force yesterday alongside coaches and swimmers.

Armstrong and Lemberg were joined by fellow Olympians Ron McKeon and Graeme Brewer, Lara Hooiveld and Julie McDonald, Andrew Baildon, Darren Lange, Commonwealth Games and Pan Pac swimmers Jenni Burke and Angie Greenwood and one of Australia’s finest swim-surf athletes in Gary Watson and ISHOF Coach Bill Sweetenham and fellow Olympic gold medal coaches Denis Cotterell and Michael Bohl, Olympian and Olympic coach Barry Prime, close friend and Brisbane-based swim coach and teacher Craig Tobin, Belgravia Leisure Redlands head coach Nick Pedrazzini as well as Churchie Head Coach Mark Lorrimer.

A gathering of greats who farewelled their little mate with a chuckle and a few beers, remembering that cheeky grin, his daily push ups and the one-legged lunges. As tough as they come…

Ian Findlay (March 6, 1964-February 3, 2020).

Australian Swimmer Pin #315 – 1983 Pan Pacs;

Australian Coach Pin #29 – 1989 Pan Pacs.

Friday February 7

Florian Wellbrock (14:46) & Sarah Köhler Rubber-stamp Olympic Tickets

World 1500m and Marathon champion Florian Wellbrock and Germany teammate Sarah Köhler, who last November set the World short-course record over 1500m freestyle, have rubber-stamped their tickets to the Olympic Games at the “MWG Swim Cup” in Magdeburg.

Top 4 finishes at World titles in Gwangju for both last year landed the distances aces automatic qualification for the Tokyo 2020 games provided that they backed up with a swim inside the FINA A cut in 2020. Inside that they both swam today.

Wellbrock has never been as fast over 1500m in winter training as he was today: 14:46.61 over 1500m freestyle places him at the helm of the early World Rankings and got him well inside the 15:00.99 FINA cut. Wellbrock claimed the World title in 14:36.54 in Gwangju last year.

The 22-year-old already had his place in the Olympic marathon, course of his first global gold in Gwangju. On Sunday, he wants to race fast enough to add the 800m free to his Tokyo targets. Wellbrock said:

“I wasn’t afraid to fail but you’re always relieved to get it done. In the past two years, I’ve always had the bad luck of getting sick over winter. Luckily I got through it healthy this time and that’s why this time means so much.”


Sarah Köhler – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Köhler, racing in her adopted home town clocked 8:29.96 over 800m freestyle (FINA cut 8:33.36), good for the ticket at a time of heavy training and well away from the 8:16.43 she raced in Gwangju for fourth place last year. Said Köhler:

“I’m relieved, because the qualification fulfills the criteria – and hopefully the speed will come in summer. Four years ago, reaching the Olympic final was a great success, this time I dream of something more.”

Coach Bernd Berkhahn was  delighted with his star turns:

“Swimming an Olympic standard is never a matter of course, especially over these long distances: you cannot always guarantee the best form on the day – so it was really good how both of them achieved the goals. We are therefore fully on schedule, which we have set up for the course of the season.”

Germany already has three swimmers over the qualification line, Philip Heintz has his place guaranteed, while Marco Koch is likely to make it four: he has a ticket provided two other Germans do not swim faster than his season best at nationals and Olympic trials in April.

Doctor Sues USOPC Alleging He Was Fired For trying To Protect Athletes

Dr. Bill Moreau, the former medical director for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee has filed a lawsuit against the organization. His firing in May 2019, he alleges, was a retaliatory action because he made internal recommendations, and eventually complaints, about the organization’s failure to protect athletes over the years.

“The USOC is trying to convince the public that is has solved the problem,” Darold Killmer, Moreau’s lawyer, said.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. The USOC now meets internal complaints about continuing violations by firing people like Dr. Moreau.”

As early as 2012, Moreau made recommendations that doctors such as Larry Nassar, in jail for life for assault and child pornography crimes, should not meet women athletes without supervision. The lawsuit details the multiple instances of young female athletes being abused and exploited that many of the victims testified to in court during Nassar’s trial. Moreau said in a statement:

“I hope that my lawsuit will push the USOC to finally take accountability for its past mistakes and change for the better. This case is not only about the way the USOC treated me, it is also about protecting the athletes that the USOC has for too long knowingly put in harm’s way.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

Luella Chavez D’Angelo, the USOPC’s chief marketing and communications officer, told the Denver Post that Moreau and his legal team had “misrepresented the causes of his separation from the USOPC”. In a statement as he added:

“We have not been served with this suit and are just reviewing the complaint now. As to the press release, we regret that Dr Moreau and his attorney have misrepresented the causes of his separation from the USOPC. We will honour their decision to see this matter through in the courts, and we won’t comment on the specifics as that goes forward.”

Safe Sport advocate Nancy Hogshead-Makar, the 1984 Olympic 100m freestyle champion, posted this thread on twitter:

Baker Vs Hosszu On Golden Tour

Katinka Hosszu and Kathleen Baker, respectively the Olympic champion and Olympic silver medallist in the 100m backstroke, will clash in that event and the 200m medley at the first round of the 2020 Camille Muffat Golden Tour In France this evening.

Baker, 0.3sec behind Hosszu at Rio 2016, clocked 1:00.03 on backstroke this morning to lead the way to the final at the start of the three-day meet in Nice.

Hosszu, a big multi-swim schedule ahead of her as usual, paced herself as the third of three 1:01s on 1:01.93. By then, the two had already set up a sparring session in the 200m medley, America’s Baker on 2:11.31, Hungary’s Hosszu on 2:11.65, with France’s Fantine Lesaffres third through in 2:14.22.

The French tour bears the name of the 2012 Olympic 400m freestyle champion Camille Muffat, who lost her life in helicopter crash in 2015. In 2017, a petition was launched to have the Paris 2024 Olympic pool names after Muffat.

Second through ing the 100m backstroke, Michelle Coleman, of Sweden, clocked 25.19 to lead the way to the 50m free showdown ahead of Charlotte Bonnet, Muffat’s former teammate at Nice, on 25.33, French teammates Melanie Henique and Anna Santamans through in 25.44 and 25.69, Hosszu on 25.72.

The Hungarian also made the 50m breaststroke final, in seventh on 32.65, while her national teammate David Verraszto suit up a 400m medley clash with Nice-based Swim ace Jeremy Desplanches, on 4:19.96 and 4:21.83 respectively in prelims.

Thursday February 6

Peaty Spreading Awareness Of Athletes’ Mental Health 


Adam Peaty – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Adam Peaty has spoken out on on Time To Talk Day which encourages people to talk about mental health in a bid to break down barriers and help end isolation, shame and feeling of worthlessness.

The Olympic 100m breaststroke champion has had his own struggles with depression which he revealed last year and today he has reinforced his message to spread awareness of the mental health of athletes.

Peaty addressed taboos, living in a world where jealousy can be brought on by the artifice of social media and his own coping mechanisms in a film released by British Swimming.

The Mel Marshall-coached swimmer, who will look to become only the second man to defend a breaststroke title after his idol Kosuke Kitajima at Tokyo 2020 in Julysaid:

“If I’m feeling anxious or I’m feeling that something’s not quite right, I’ll always kind of flag it and try to fix it.

“You see on a daily basis where people aren’t afraid to come out. I don’t think there is a taboo around it and I don’t think there should be.

“When I go through training I can be on cloud nine or cloud minus nine.

“That’s why I’m working to spread an awareness of mental health in athletes just because it’s so important to set other goals apart from sport.”

Wednesday February 5

Ian Thorpe joins Olympic golden girls for Bushfire Relief Clinics

Swimming superstar Ian Thorpe will join fellow Olympic gold medallists Cate and Bronte Campbell, Emma McKeon and Emily Seebohm as the headline acts in an Australian Bushfire Appeal this weekend.

The Bushfire Relief Swim Clinics with the Australian Dolphins at the Wollongong University Aquatic Centre has attracted an all-star lineup with Thorpie throwing his enormous profile behind the fundraising efforts.

Australians have suffered a heartbreaking black summer of fires like never before with the McKeon family themselves evacuated from their family home on Lake Conjola as fires ravaged the NSW South Coast community.


Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

Their plight and the weeks of destructive deadly fires, causing loss of 33 lives and millions of animals and thousands of properties and millions of hectares of land burnt and blasted and left like a war zone has seen people from all walks of life generate millions of dollars to help the cause.

Swimming NSW announced today that Thorpe, Australia’s most successful Olympian, and Paralympic silver medallist Monique Murphy would join the already impressive list of Dolphins set to appear at this weekend’s Clinics.

The Bushfires Relief Swim Clinics with the Australian Dolphins are a partnership between Swimming NSW, the Australian Dolphins Swim Team and Swimming Australia to raise funds for bushfire-affected communities across Australia.

“Come and spend two hours with some of Australia’s swimming superstars, learning from the best in the business, while making a valuable contribution to helping our fellow Aussies rebuild their lives and livelihoods,” said a spokesman for Swimming NSW.


Saturday: Ian Thorpe AM, Cate Campbell OAM, David McKeon, Emma McKeon, Jarrod Poort, Jess Hansen and Monique Murphy

Sunday: Bronte Campbell, Emily Seebohm, David McKeon, Emma McKeon, Jarrod Poort, Jess Hansen and Tom Fraser-Holmes


 Sat, 8 February 2020, 2.30 pm – 4.30 pm; Sun, 9 February 2020, 9.30 am – 11.30 am


 Wollongong University Aquatic Centre

 THE TICKETS–fAexK1wTQGXtiDK5rl_HSTaF1y4KxddZctg_bYoy0I4kwI

THE PROCEEDS: All proceeds from the clinics will be donated to the NSW Rural Fire Service and Red Cross Disaster Relief & Recovery.

Jason Dunford: From the Pool to the Recording Studio

Jason Dunford has covered a lot of ground in his various careers. From an Olympic record-holder in the pool to a journalist for the BBC East Africa Bureau, the retired Kenyan butterflier has added another line to his CV: Music star.

Jason Dunford Photo Courtesy: FINIS

Dunford, under the stage name “Samaki Mkuu,” has teamed with an artist named Romantico to create songs the fuse Kenyan hip hop beats (genge) with Reggaeton, forming a nascent genre in Kenya’s growing music scene: Gengetone.

The duo makes quite a pair: Dunford, the former Olympian whose stage name loosely translates to “big fish,” with the Mexican-born former priest who came to Kenya for a master’s degree in theology.

Dunford has trod a fascinating path. He was an African record-holder who made the Beijing Olympic finals of the 100 butterfly in 2008, briefly holding the Olympic record (51.14 seconds) He’d finish fifth in that famous final and also competed in the London Games.

A graduate of Stanford University, he went back to Palo Alto for his MBA after his athletic career and founded a company, Safi Analytics, which brought him back to Kenya and led him to business journalism for the BBC. He’s also helped establish a school in the Kibra neighborhood of Nairobi. But music called to him, and he followed.

“I had heard him (Romantico) on an interview on Kiss FM and it was weird to see this guy doing Reggaeton,” Dunford told the website “Then one day we were doing a story on fitness culture and gym entrepreneurs in Nairobi and I found him at the gym and we started talking. He told me I should record a song, at first I wasn’t convinced but I told myself ‘let me go, I’ll learn even if it’s only from a journalistic perspective.’”

Have a listen to one of the singles the duo has released, called “Mbaya,” which features Dunford butterflying through a rooftop, bar-adjacent pool:

McLean Leaves The Competitive Arena

mclean pic

Craig McLean – Twitter

European and Commonwealth relay bronze medallist Craig McLean has announced his retirement from swimming aged 21.

McLean, who trained under Steven Tigg at the University of Stirling, won bronze as part of Scotland’s 4x100m freestyle squad at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Gold Coast, Australia.

He replicated that finish with the Great Britain 4x200m mixed freestyle squad at the 2018 European Championships in Glasgow.

McLean was also the Scotland flag-bearer at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa before making the jump to the senior squad.

He announced his retirement in a post on social media which read:


Tuesday February 4

Amy Marren Retires Citing Classification Ambiguity Among Reasons

‘There is a long way to go before it becomes a level playing field”

Amy Marren, the former World champion who claimed bronze for Britain at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, has announced her retirement, aged 21. She cited ambiguity over classification of athletes as one of the reasons for her decision to call it a day after competing at two Paralympics.

Marren raced at London 2012 as a 14-year-old and a year later claimed four gold medals and two silver at the 2013 World Para Swimming Championships in Montreal. In 2014, she added two golds and five silvers to her treasury at the European Championships in Eindhoven. Illness on the way to Rio 2016 knocked her preparations but she emerged with a bronze in the S9 200 metres medley.

Marren, who has swum for Ireland in the past year, announced her retirement on social media and suggested that ambiguity surrounding classification was one reason for her retirement. She noted:

“So here it is, I hate the word retirement because truth be told I will never step away from swimming. I truly believe that when you have a love for a sport, you will always be involved somehow, no matter how far you may stray.

“Having taken time to reflect on my swimming career, the medals and awards are a drop in the ocean compared to the places I have been, the experiences I have had and the lifelong friends that I have met.

“I am so proud of how far Paralympic sport has come.

“However, there is a long way to go before it becomes a level playing field and this inconsistency across classifications is one reason why I am choosing to step away from a sport I have loved so very much.

“It is strange to believe that this exciting chapter of my life has come to an end, no more five am alarms, no more weekends planned around competitions and so much free time.

“But now feels right for me, I have achieved all that I have set out to do and I am closing this chapter with a full heart and a huge smile on my face.”

Monday February 3 Tuesday February 4

WADA wants Rusada public hearing so “everybody understands the process and hears the arguments”

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) today submitted a formal request to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that the hearing to resolve the dispute related to the non-compliance case against the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) be held in public. Such open hearings are growing in popularity, the Sun Yang case having been heard, by agreement with the parties involved, the swimmer and WADA included, in public last November.

WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said:

“WADA’s investigations on Russia, and this latest case of non-compliance, have generated huge interest around the world. It is WADA’s view – and that of many of our stakeholders – that this dispute at CAS should be held in a public forum to ensure that everybody understands the process and hears the arguments.”

In a statement, WADA provided the following background:

When RUSADA was reinstated as compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code by WADA’s Executive Committee (ExCo) in September 2018, there were conditions attached. One of these was that the Russian authorities had to grant WADA Intelligence and Investigations (I&I) access to the authentic Laboratory Information Management System data and underlying raw analytical data contained within the Moscow Laboratory.

In January 2019, WADA I&I retrieved 24 terabytes of data from the Laboratory and then embarked on a painstaking forensic examination to determine whether they were authentic and complete. During this process, both WADA I&I and independent forensic investigators confirmed manipulation and deletion of some of the data had been carried out after RUSADA’s reinstatement.

In September 2019, WADA’s independent Compliance Review Committee opened a non-compliance case against RUSADA and, following an in-depth review, recommended to WADA’s ExCo that under the International Standard for Code Compliance by Signatories that came into force on 1 April 2018, RUSADA be declared non-compliant for a period of four years and that various consequences be imposed. These consequences included that Russia would not be allowed to participate in, host or bid for various covered events, including the Olympics, Paralympics and Code Signatories’ World Championships, for the same four-year period. On 9 December 2019, the ExCo unanimously agreed to uphold the CRC recommendation.

Within the 21-day deadline, RUSADA indicated it was disputing the decision and so, on 9 January 2020, WADA filed a formal request for arbitration with CAS in Lausanne, Switzerland, to resolve the dispute. The matter is now in the hands of CAS. In accordance with Article 23.5.9 of the Code, any CAS decision in relation to the non-compliance, the proposed consequences and/or the proposed reinstatement conditions will be binding and must be recognized and enforced by all Code Signatories.

A detailed ‘Chronology of the Russian Doping Crisis’ and a set of frequently asked questions are attached as complementary information relating to the Russian doping crisis.

Xu’s Act Of Solidarity With Efforts To Fight Coronavirus



Xu Jiayu – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Xu Jiayu, the World 100m backstroke champion from China, has donated US$10,000 of prize money earned from racing last month to hospitals fighting the coronavirus.

Xu’s 10k was earned at the FINA Champions Swim Series held in Beijing and Shenzhen last month just as the coronavirus outbreak took off on the eve of a decision to lock down Wuhan and other cities. Both Beijing and Shenzhen had cases of infection on their hands as swimmers, coaches and others prepared to leave China after the swim series.

The news was delivered in a social-media post by Xu himself, picked up by a Chinese swimming fans group:

Questions to FINA about its advice and precautionary measures for all who took part in the series in China remain unanswered. The international regulator for aquatic sports has cancelled the Chinese leg of the Diving World Series, scheduled for March 7-9 in Beijing, while a question mark hangs over the World Series of synchronised swimming, scheduled for Suzhou from April 23-25.

The coronavirus has spread to others parts of the world but the effects are being felt most keenly in China, the source of the outbreak. As the death toll in China reached 361 (there has also been one death in the Philippines) and infections topped 17,000 infections, the crisis started to take a toll in realms political and economic: officials have come under fire from the public over footage that appears to show them taking face masks that were intended for medical staff in hospitals battling the virus and the Chinese stock market plummeted 8% on the first day of trading after the extended lunar new year break in the country.

Outside of China, infections stand at more than 150, while 36 people on France’s evacuation flights from Wuhan, including 20 French nationals and 16 others,  showed symptoms of the virus during their flights home.

China’s official response to the virus outbreak has drawn both criticism and praise, its construction and establishment of emergency hospitals of the kind Xu’s money will go towards putting one of the remarkable aspects of China on display – Watch the timelapse VIDEO.

FINA Ratifies League World Records

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

Minna Atherton – World- record Roar With a Smile – Photo Courtesy: Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse

The World short-course records set by Minna Atherton and Daiya Seto during the International Swimming League last year have been ratified by FINA, the regulator for aquatics sport. Atherton, of London Roar, became the first swimmer to set a global standard in ISL waters with a 54.89 over 100m backstroke in Budapest, while Seto took out the 400m medley standard in 3:54.81 at the ISL Final Match in Las Vegas to help Energy Standard lift the inaugural team title. FINA had indicated that it would not allow world records set in ISL meets if the date of the meet clashed with a FINA World Cup event, while Swimming World revealed soon after Atherton’s record that the mark would be ratified by FINA.

The international federation has also ratified the 15:18.01 World short-course championships record set by Sarah Kohler over 1500m freestyle at the German nationals last November.

Delfina Pignatiello’s 2019 Ticket To Tokyo 2020

Delfina Pignatiello, the Argentinian distance freestyle record holder, has been named among her countries “assured” 118 qualifiers in 16 sports for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Pignatiello set national records of 4:06.61, 8:24.33 and 15:51.68 over 400, 800 and 1500m freestyle on Mare Nostrum tour last June, all well inside the target time for the Games.

Mundell Tops The Stellenbosch Bill

The Stellenbosch leg of the SA Grand Prix wrapped up Sunday, the best efforts of the day Christin Mundell’s breaststroke victories, on 32.23 over 50m after a 2:28.33 in the 200m. There were also wins for Rebecca Meder, on 4:52.25 in the 400m medley, Erin Gallagher, on 55.45 in the 100m freestyle, Alaric Basson, in 1:01.33 over 100m breaststroke and Matthew Sates, on 54.74 – ahead of Alard Basson’s 55.01 and Daniel Ronaldson’s 55.13 – in the 100m butterfly. The final leg of the SA Grand Prix will be held in Durban from February 21-23.