The Soak: Duncan Scott Fires Warning Shot With 48.53 In 100m Free At BUCS Nationals

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Duncan Scott - Photo Courtesy - Patrick B. Kraemer

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: editorial@swimmingworld.com

The Week of January 10-February 16, 2020

Sunday, February 16

Duncan Scott served notice of his intentions this Olympic year as he stopped the clock in the 100 free at 48.53 at the BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport) Nationals in Sheffield on Saturday.

The Olympic and world medallist was leading off the University of Stirling’s 4x100m free relay squad at Ponds Forge, going out in 23.47 and back in 25.06.

He handed over to 2019 world finalist Scott McLay who split 51.03 and on to Lorenz Weiremans (51.15) with Calum Bain anchoring the quartet in 49.87 as they finished in 3:23.21.

The Scot returned on Sunday to win the 200 fly in 1:58.71 as well as clocking a 100 fly split of 51.98 as the Stirling 4x100m medley relay of Martyn Walton, Craig Benson, Scott and McLay won the final race of the competition in 3:40.14.

Scott was also second in the 400 free in 3:55.08 behind winner Jay Lelliott, the 2014 European bronze medallist, who clocked 3:51.92.

James Wilby, who got world silver behind Adam Peaty in Gwangju, South Korea, last July went 59.56 in the 100m breaststroke heats although as a guest swimmer, he could not compete in the final.

Luke Greenbank, who led off the Great Britain 4x100m medley relay that Scott so memorably anchored when he reeled in Nathan Adrian at last year’s World Championships, added the 100m back to the 200 he won on Saturday, getting his hand to the wall first in 55.79.

The Mel Marshall-coached swimmer then led off the Loughborough medley quartet in 55.51 as they finished second behind Stirling.

Marie Wattel won the 100 free in 54.09 before taking the 50 fly in 26.35, Kara Hanlon took the 100 breaststroke in 1:08.63 although it was Sarah Vasey who clocked the fastest time of the day, 0.01secs quicker than the Edinburgh swimmer but as with Wilby, her appearance as a guest ruled her out of the final.

On Saturday, Greenbank had swum 1:58.46 in the 200 back, David Cumberlidge clocked 22.37 in the 50 free, Katie Matts touched the wall first in the 200br (2:28.07) while Olympian Benson was caught on the final length of the men’s 200br by Oxford University’s Tobermory Mackay-Champ who won in 2:15.09 to 2:15.33.

Dressel, Lochte, Masse & Co Test Race Form In Florida

Caeleb Dressel and Ryan Lochte went head-to-head over 200m free at the Florida Olympic Trials Qualifier in Orlando: the race ended 1:49.99 to 1:50.60, after Dressel took the lead over the second half of battle beyond a Lochte pace-setting 53.31 at the 100m mark. Italian SEC Champion Mitchell D’Arrigo was close, on 1:50.87. Dressel also clocked 52.90 in the 100m butterfly, Lochte back in fifth on 55.52.

In the women’s events, Canadian World 100m backstroke champion Kylie Masse took the 100 butterfly in 1:00.20, while Emma Weyant won the 200m freestyle in 2:00.32 and the 400m medley in 4:40.79. The meet concludes tomorrow, Monday.

Friday, February 14

Ryan Lochte Signed As Ambassador of SPIRE Institute in Ohio

Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte will serve as International Swim Ambassador for the SPIRE Swim Academy and all SPIRE camp / club training and recreation aquatic programs and events. He will be conducting clinics and engaging with student-athletes at SPIRE, the largest indoor sports complex in North America.

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Photo Courtesy: @SPIRE_Institute Twitter

Lochte will also serve as SPIRE’s industry spokesperson and will work closely with the SPIRE team on a complete strategy for building & developing its long term athletic development approach to swim training for athletes of all ages and ability levels.

SPIRE is under new leadership and ownership, after having been purchased in December 2019 by Axxella, LLC a Baltimore-based investment firm helmed by Blue Ocean President & CEO Jonathan Ehrenfeld.

Thursday, February 13

David McKeon and the Dolphins raise $17,500 in Bush Fire Relief Clinic

Huge congrats to two-time Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist David McKeon for bringing the swimming community together to raise $17,500 from his Bush Fire Relief Clinic.

And from one extreme of Australia’s diverse weather to another this summer it teamed raining in the outdoor pool at the University of Wollongong – which certainly didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the kids and their heroes – a welcome relief all round after a “Black Summer” that claimed so many lives and homes.

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MCKEON MAGIC: Dual Olympian David McKeon led the charge at the Bush Fire Relief Clinic.Photo Courtesy: University of Wollongong Media

David was joined by Olympian sister Emma McKeon and father Ron McKeon, the Swimming NSW Head Coach and himself a two-time Olympian who were caught in the middle of the raging bushfires that brought Australia to its knees.

The McKeons along with their Commonwealth Games representative mum Suzie (Woodhouse) are synonymous in the Illawarra (Wollongong) area in NSW through the McKeon Swim Schools after decades associated in the swimming and surf lifesaving world.

Emma and her mum and dad spent a harrowing and terrifying News Year’s Eve on Conjola Beach, south of Wollongong, shoulder-to-shoulder alongside thousands of people with Suzie telling the ABC: “It was dreadful, it was hard to get your head around – 90 homes (gone) within an hour at Lake Conjola.”

Swimming World broke the story of the McKeon’s plight when the bush fires raged through the idyllic Lake Conjola on New Year’s Eve:

McKeon family survive catastrophic bushfires and appeal to all Australians for help

Luckily the McKeon home was spared “but heartbreaking just the same to watch the devastation caused to so many.”

And when the call for help went out for the Clinic their team mates on the Dolphins team like Ian Thorpe, Cate and Bronte Campbell, Tom Fraser Holmes, Jason Cram, Jess Hansen, Jarrod Poort and Monique Murphy all arrived to help the cause and coach and meet the kids of the Illawarra and surrounds – a day they will remember for a long time.

David McKeon was quick to put out a call to arms for the Clinic saying “this is my background – this is what I know and I started to get some athletes on board and I’m pretty proud of the calibre of athlete that we were able to pull.

“I didn’t even have to ask twice for all the athletes – they were all about it – which was great.”

Thorpe didn’t hesitate saying: “I enjoy spending time and showing kids how to swim, for the McKeons, a family I have known for 20 years now, it is good to be able to support this initiative for them but also the community as well.”

Gibson Celebrates “Fantastic Recognition” Of Sjostrom

Former world 50m breaststroke champion and Energy Standard coach James Gibson has celebrated Sarah Sjostrom being named FINA’s female world swimmer of the year.

Sjostrom is guided by Gibson at Gloria Sports Arena in Antalya, Turkey, where she trains alongside the likes of Ben Proud, Chad le Clos, Florent Manaudou and Georgia Davies.

In a post on social media, Gibson, who won 50m breaststroke gold at the 2003 World Championships in Barcelona,  urged the Swede to “enjoy the journey” with Tokyo 2020 just five months hence.

Wednesday, February 12

FINA Slaps ‘Retired’ Ruta Meilutyte With 2-Year Doping Ban

Gian Mattia D'Alberto / lapresse 23-08-2014 Berlino sport 32mi Campionati Europei LEN di nuoto nella foto: Ruta Meilutyte LTU Gian Mattia D'Alberto / lapresse 23-08-2014 Berlin 32rd LEN European Swimming In the photo: Ruta Meilutyte LTU

Ruta Meilutyte – Photo Courtesy: Gian Mattia Dalberto/Lapresse

FINA imposed a two-year ban on Rūta Meilutytė, the Lithuanian who claimed Olympic gold in the 100m breaststroke at the London 2012 Games, after she had announced her retirement from the sport.

The swimmer was suspended after failing to show for a third out-of-competition test on March 28, 2019. By then, she had already been a no-show on April 22 and August 19 of 2018, but  and on March 28 2019.

Meilutyte’s defence was that she had already retired from the sport but neither she nor the Lithuanian Swimming Federation had made the move official. She was, therefore, still in the anti-doping pool and needed to keep her whereabouts information up to date.

FINA held a hearing in July last year and today released the result: a two-year ban. That leaves the highlights of her career untainted but a stain on her name nonetheless.

It was May 2019 when Meilutytė said that she was no longer a racer. The announcement was made after her third missed test, however, triggering a doping-violation case. The two-year penalty is the standard for three no shows. Two no shows are relatively common in elite sport.

The Lithuanian federation confirmed to FINA that anti-doping agents had been unable to contact Meilutyte at the address she had provided on the whereabouts system on three separate occasions. The swimmer is believed to have been living outside Lithuania, in Canada, at the time and had overlooked the need to either retire officially or continue to be available for testing even if she as no longer training.

Meilutyte, an outspoken critic of those found to have cheated with doping – including arch-rival Yuliya Efimova, of Russia, requested a one-year suspension during the FINA hearing so that she might make a comeback in time for Tokyo 2020.

The request was denied by FINA, which in 2013 opted for leniency in the Efimova case when handing a 16-month suspension to the Russian after a positive test for prohibited  steroid. The timing of the ban meant that Efimova, a poster girl on FINA’s annual calendar in 2014 at a time when she was serving a doping suspension, was able to return to the sport just in time to qualify for a home World Championships in Kazan in 2015.

In its decision on Meilutyte, the FINA Doping Panel stated:

“The flexibility between two years and one year of ineligibility in this rule is not available to athletes where a pattern of last-minute whereabouts changes or other conduct raises a serious suspicion that the athlete was trying to avoid being available for testing.”

“It is the FINA Doping Panel’s position that the athlete was very slack with the management of the information relevant to her whereabouts, but that no evidence pointed to any pattern, nor did the athlete, who has the burden of presenting evidence to the Panel to obtain a reduced sanction, provide any explanation which the Panel could consider as rebutting a pattern which could allow it to envisage a reduced sanction.”

Dressel, Manuel, Ledecky, Steffens Named to Sports Illustrated’s Fittest 50 List

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Three swimmers and one water polo player were recently named to Sports Illustrated’s Fittest 50 list. Katie Ledecky (5th), Simone Manuel (19th), Caeleb Dressel (10th) and Maggie Steffens (21st) were named to the list.

Sports Illustrated accepted the challenge and ranked the best-conditioned male and female athletes in the world, consulting trainers, exercise physiologists and performance experts with experience across the college, pro and Olympic levels of sports to evaluate athletes on the following criteria: performances over the last 12 months; demands and risks of their respective sports; durability; training regimens and other physical benchmarks including power, speed, strength, agility, endurance, flexibility and more.

Women’s List

  1. Simone Biles, Gymnastics
  2. Amanda Nunes, UFC
  3. Claressa Shields, Boxing
  4. Mikaela Shiffrin, Alpine Skiing
  5. Katie Ledecky, Swimming
  6. Tia-Clair Toomey, CrossFit
  7. Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Track & Field
  8. Emma Coburn, Track & Field
  9. Courtney Dauwalter, Ultrarunning
  10. Dina Asher-Smith, Track & Field
  11. Julie Ertz, Soccer
  12. Serena Williams, Tennis
  13. Caterine Ibargüen, Track and Field
  14. Daniela Ryf, Triathlon
  15. Allyson Felix, Track & Field
  16. Gwen Jorgensen, Track & Field
  17. Valentina Shevchenko, UFC
  18. Caroline Marks, Surfing
  19. Simone Manuel, Swimming
  20. Kendall Coyne Schofield, Hockey
  21. Maggie Steffens, Water Polo
  22. Kyra Condie, Rock Climbing
  23. Katie Zaferes, Triathlon
  24. Brigid Kosgei, Marathon
  25. Elena Delle Donne, Basketball

Men’s List

  1. Giannis Antetekounmpo, Basketball
  2. Novak Djokovic, Tennis
  3. Mat Fraser, CrossFit
  4. Canelo Alvarez, Boxing
  5. Cristiano Ronaldo, Soccer
  6. Christian Coleman, Track & Field
  7. Jon Jones,  UFC
  8. Jordan Burroughs, Wrestling
  9. LeBron James, Basketball
  10. Caeleb Dressel, Swimming
  11. Derrick Henry, Football
  12. Rafael Nadal, Tennis
  13. Conor McGregor, UFC
  14. Patrick Mahomes, Football
  15. Mohamed Salah, Soccer
  16. Jimmy Butler, Basketball
  17. Kilian Jones, Ultrarunning
  18. Aaron Donald, Football
  19. Italo Ferreira, Surfing
  20. Jim Walmsley, Ultrarunning
  21. Jan Frodeno, Triathlon
  22. Michael Lorenzen, Baseball
  23. Eliud Kipchoge, Marathon
  24. Bryson DeChambeau, Golf
  25. Ryan Crouser, Track & Field

UK Sport Launches Review Into UK Athletics

UK Sport has commissioned an independent review into UK Athletics and admitted it has “major concerns” after a series of troubling issues put the governing body in the spotlight.

UKA was heavily criticised for the way it handled its relationship with the now-banned coach Alberto Salazar and the disbanded Nike Oregon Project after which performance director Neil Black vacated his role.

Zara Hyde-Peters agreed to stand down as chief executive before even starting after she failed to disclose to her local athletics club her husband’s “inappropriate relationship” with a 15-year-old girl.

UK Sport, which allocates funding for Olympic and Paralympic sport in Great Britain, said in a statement the review will examine “the strategy, leadership, governance, operation, culture and connectivity of UK Athletics” to ensure it is “a fit for the future NGB”.

It will sit alongside the reviews that have been commissioned into safeguarding and UKA’s response to issues surrounding the Nike Oregon Project.

It will be undertaken by Dame Sue Street, former Permanent Secretary at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who will announce her recommendations later in the spring.

Sally Munday, CEO of UK Sport said:

“Issues raised in recent months regarding the sport are of major concern to both UK Sport and to the leadership team at UK Athletics. Both organisations are committed to delivering long-term improvement and ensuring the sustainability of the sport while acting in the best interests of its athletes, staff and the wider athletics family.

“Our aim in commissioning this first stage review is to ensure we have a full understanding of the priority issues and any next steps required to help the sport move forward.

“I’d like to thank UK Athletics’ Board for their ongoing collaboration and support for this independent work and look forward to working with them in the weeks and months ahead to build a positive future for the sport.”

Tuesday, February 11

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Kristof Rasovszky – Photo Courtesy: Twitter, @fina1908

Raszovszky & Bruni Among Star-Studded Field In Doha

World 5km champion Kristóf Rasovszky will start the defence of his overall FINA Marathon Swim World Series title at the season-opening meet in Doha, Qatar, on 15 February.

The Qatar Swimming Association has announced the line-up for the competition which includes a total of 136 swimmers (82 male and 53 female athletes) from 34 countries.

Rasovszky, fresh from being named FINA Open Water Male Swimmer of 2019, will face the likes of Olympic champion Ferry Weertman and world champion Florian Wellbrock in the 10km race behind held at Katara Beach.

Also competing are Olympic 1500m freestyle champion Gregorio Paltrinieri and fellow Italian Simone Ruffini, the former world 25km champion as well as Ukraine’s Igor Chervynskiy, who won 1500 silver and 800 bronze at the World Championships way back in 2003.

The women’s field is very strong and includes 2019 overall champion Rachele Bruni of Italy, Rio Olympic gold medallist Sharon van Rouwendaal, former European champion Arianna Bridi and defending Doha champion Ana Marcela Cunha, also the overall winner of the FINA Marathon Swim World Series in 2018, 2014, 2012 and 2010.

“We witnessed thrilling men and women’s races last year, and this year too we expect another exciting round of FINA marathon because of the presence of world-class athletes for the competition,” Qatar Swimming Association president Mr. Khaleel Al Jabir said in a statement.

“We are hopeful that the swimmers will get perfect conditions to compete at the beautiful Katara Beach. Our preparation is on track as our team is working hard to complete all the arrangements. We will provide best facilities to all the participants coming to Doha.

France will send the biggest contingent of 16 swimmers while Italy include 14 athletes. Australia and Germany have each named 10 swimmers, one more than Hungary.

Michael Phelps Slams USOC For Silence In Face Of His Revelations Of Depression

Michael Phelps was ignored by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC, now USOPC after the addition of the word Paralympic in the title) when he opened up about the depression and mental-health issues that dogged him during his career as the most decorated Olympian of all-time, all sports.

Monday, February 10

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Danish swimming reached a watershed with an inquiry into practices that ‘harmed swimmers’ – Photo Courtesy: Pixy

Team Denmark and the Danish Sports Federation (DIF) have asked the Anti Doping Danmark agency to investigate possible use of illicit substances among Danish swimmers, specifically at a time when Paulus Wildeboer was head coach.

Team Denmark published the news on its website following the release of an investigation report into the state of Danish swimming since 2001 and the resignation of the head of the Danish swimming federation Pia Holmen on the grounds of her accepting responsibility of ‘captain of the ship’ as opposed to any direct wrongdoing.

Wildeboer is, of course, unable to answer any allegations: he passed away six years ago.

Frank Jensen, Chairman of the Board of Team Denmark, has demanded that a potential breach of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code be investigated by the national agency.

In his statement, Jensen said:

“He (Wildeboer) provided unknown medication to the swimmers without the involvement of the (team) doctors. This case needs to be investigated in depth, which is why Team Denmark has approached Anti Doping Denmark to investigate whether there has been a breach of WADA’s code in 2010 and 2011. It is unacceptable for a coach to walk around with his own medicine cabinet in a bag without the athletes knowing what they have been given.”

Denmark Radio broke the news and points its audience to its documentary “swim stars under the surface” and related timeline of the current crisis in Danish swimming.

The investigation report released by the Danish Attorney general last Friday was accompanied by the following from attorney Tormod Tingstad:

“We can see in the documentation that Paul Wildeboer distributed unknown medicine obtained from a Spanish doctor. The Danish Swimming Union has been aware of this practice since November 1, 2010.”

Happy Birthday Mark Spitz – 70 Today

Mark Spitz, winner of a record seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympic Games, celebrated his 70th birthday today. A tribute.

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