The Soak: Olympic greats headline Currumbin Vikings Centenary Celebrations

Vikings Luch Olympians and board
OLYMPIANS ON SHOW AT CURRUMBIN: An all-star cast of Olympians (L-R) Jon Sieben, Laurie Lawrence, Brooke Hanson, Justin Lemberg and Duncan Armstrong team up to celebrate their surf club's 100 years. Photo Courtesy Steve Holland Photography.

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 Soak – highlights from the week gone by:

  • Britain’s Duncan Scott goes 48.53 100 free at the BUCS Champs
  • FINA Slaps ‘Retired’ Ruta Meilutyte With 2-Year Doping Ban; prevents comeback for Tokyo 2020
  • Denmark to investigate possible historic use of illicit substances in swimming
  • David McKeon brings the Aussie swimming community together to raises $17,000 for Bush Fire Relief

The Week of January 17-February 23, 2020

Monday, February 24

Olympic greats headline Currumbin Vikings Centenary Celebrations

An array of Olympic stars under the watchful eyes of master coach and motivator Laurie Lawrence ensured there was a packed house to celebrate the centenary of the Currumbin Vikings – one of Australia’s iconic surf lifesaving clubs on the Gold Coast.

The Vikings welcomed back three of its past champions – Olympic gold medallists, 2020 ISHOF inductee Jon Sieben (200m butterfly 1984) and Duncan Armstrong (200m freestyle, 1988) and Justin Lemberg (bronze 400m freestyle, 1984) who were joined by current member, Brooke Hanson (Gold and Silver Athens 2004).

Sieben, Armstrong and Lemberg all swam under Lawrence and successfully combined their Olympic careers with time swimming in the surf – a pastime that also attracted the likes of Stephen Holland (Bronze 11500m freestyle 1976) and Ash Callus (Gold 2000 4x100m freestyle relay) to the club.

Lawrence was appointed as honorary patrol captain for the day and there were many great stories of Christmas training camps at nearby Palm Beach Currumbin Pool and both Lemberg and Sieben returning to the club after their Olympic exploits.

Even though they were now Olympic stars, they till had to do their patrols and their kitchen chores if they wanted to stay in the bunkrooms.

“It was a great grounding and fun times and it’s so good for us all to come back and catch up with old friends,” said Sieben.

More than 240 guests turned out to greet the Olympians with Sieben revealing he would be in Fort Lauderdale with his family for the ISHOF induction in April and that Lemberg and Lawrence would also join him.

“It’s a great honour to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and we are going to make the most of it, also visiting Alabama where Justin and I went to school, before taking the family back into LA to relive those wonderful memories of ’84.”

May the celebrations continue…


ROCKSTARS: Currumbin’s Olympians pulled a full house to Elephant Rock for the Vikings 100th Anniversary. Photo Courtesy: Steve Holland Photography.

Latest Mack Horton drama a “storm in a teacup” for Olympic champion

Monday, February 24

Mack Horton’s room mate and Australian Dolphins leadership member Mitch Larkin and four-time Olympic coach Michael Bohl have thrown their weight behind the Olympic gold medallist following a report he had been “snubbed” by his former school, Caulfield Grammar, in light of the Horton-Sun Yang storm.

The report in the Melbourne Age newspaper claimed the School had “quietly ditched” an idea of naming its new Aquatic Centre after Horton – to protect its commercial interests in China – a report which was subsequently denied by the School.

“I’m aware of it,” said Larkin “But I haven’t actually spoken to Mack personally on it but I know Mack very well.

“He’s almost a best mate of mine and I roomed with him last year in Gwangju so I sort of saw it (the Sun Yang protest) all unfolding and I know how it did affect him personally and he’s a tough guy and he’s a clever man and for an Olympic preparation, he’ll let nothing distract him.

“He’s got some big goals, some big aspirations for the year as well, I know he’s in full work at the moment and all eyes are on Tokyo for him so I don’t think it’ll affect him too much.”

Bohl said he actually was looking after Mack for his coach Craig Jackson who was not at the World Championships in Gwangju last year.

“I had the good fortune of looking after Mack coming in…and Mack’s mindset is just unbelievable so I think a thing like this isn’t really going to effect someone like Mack,” Bohl said.

“Mack is 100 percent focused on getting a result in Tokyo and there’s going to be so many other things pop over the next 20 weeks that will potentially get in the road but for the kids that are really fixated on getting the best out of themselves (this) will be a storm in a tea cup for him.”


Sunday, February 23

Titles For Rapsys and Titenis

The appearance of Danas Rapsys and Giedrius Titenis highlighted the best of the action at the Lithuanian winter championships in Alytus. Rapsys appeared for his club, Panevėžio Žemyna, in two winning relays, his 49.60 the swiftest split of any in the 4x100m free.

Titenis clocked 2:12.78 ahead of Andrius Sidlauskas, on 2:14.96, in the 200m breaststroke, while the 100m butterfly crown went to Deividas Margevicius in 53.40.

The best swim among women was a 1:08.07 victory in the 100m breaststroke by Kotryna Teterevkova.


Pieter Timmers; Photo Courtesy: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports

Timmers Tunes Up

Pieter Timmers, the Olympic 100m freestyle silver medallist, was among Belgian and Dutch swimmers testing their early 2020 form at the Flemish Championships in Antwerp.

Fourth in the 200m free on 1:50.99. Timmers also clocked 22.72 in the 50m free heats before withdrawing from the final. One of three Belgians pre-selected for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, he was not entered in the 100m freestyle today. The dash final went to Jasper Aerents in 22.85, after 22.81 in heats. Lorenz Weiremans led the 200m, in 1:50.04.

Thursday, February 20

English Institute Of Sport Name Staff For Team GB’s Tokyo 2020 Mission

22 practitioners from the English Institute of Sport (EIS) will be part of the 44-person strong performance services team that will provide day-to-day support for Team GB athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The EIS announced: “In addition to the sport’s own performance staff these performance service members – including doctors, physiotherapists, a psychologist, performance scientists, performance analysts, nutritionists and a chef – will form an integral part of the Team GB HQ workforce and will be spread across the Olympic Village, as well as Team GB’s own performance venues: Preparation Camp and Performance Lodge.

Team GB’s Preparation Camp will be situated across Keio University (Hiyoshi Campus), Yokohama International Pool and Todoroki Stadium in Kawasaki, while Team GB’s Performance Lodge, a venue for quiet training during Games-time, will be in the Odaiba area, adjacent to the Olympic Village.

In addition to these Tokyo roles, there will be eight performance analysts based in the UK but working on Tokyo time, situated at Team GB’s Cardiff Hub at the Sport Wales Institute, supporting on the ground operations in Tokyo.

The performance services team will be led by Deputy Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020, Dr. Paul Ford, with the experienced team having attended over 100 multi-sport games between them. Ford said: “We have created the best and most detailed pre-Games training environment that will rival any in the world to prepare the athletes for their sporting pinnacle at Tokyo 2020 and I have no doubt that we have also recruited the best possible support team to fill these vital Games-time roles.

“We are proud to once again have representation from across the UK high performance sport network, from the national sports institutes, National Governing Bodies, and private practices, ensuring we have the best possible and most experienced staff ever put together for a Games. We are acutely aware that there are various components that make a successful team but we have no doubt the athletes and sports will be the best supported and prepared when they take to the field of play in July.”

Louise Fawcett, Head of Performance Support at the EIS, will be Team GB’s Chief Physiotherapist. She said:  “It’s a privilege to be the BOA Chief Physiotherapist for the Tokyo Games. Supporting athletes at the Olympics is an essential and rewarding role.

“As a multi-disciplinary support team, we’ll do everything we can to ensure Team GB athletes are fully prepared to help them achieve their goals. Preparations for the Games are ongoing and I am confident we will be ready to provide the best possible physiotherapy services to the team.”

The full list of EIS staff:

Name Role
Kate Hutchings Doctor
Wendy Martinson Performance Nutrition Lead
Emma Gardner Nutritionist
Julia Wells Performance Analyst Lead
Yiannis Konstantonis Performance Analyst
Yana Stride Performance Analyst
Paul Worsfold Performance Analyst
Emma Bird Performance Analyst UK Hub
Tia Davidson Performance Analyst UK Hub
Faye Hodson Performance Coordinator
Kate Hays Performance Psychology Lead
Luke Gupta Performance Science
Luke Sweet Performance Science
Paddy Anson Performance Science Lead
Stuart Pickering Performance Service Manager
Louise Fawcett Chief Physiotherapist
Carl Butler Physiotherapist
Angela George Physiotherapist
Paul Gould Physiotherapist
Ian Horsley Physiotherapist
Caryl Becker Physiotherapist
Lily Devine Physiotherapist

Wednesday, February 19

Paltrinieri A Posterboy for Italian enterprise

Gregorio Paltrinieri has lent his name to an Italian business and commerce campaign entitled “The enterprise of strength”. The Confederation of Small and Medium- Sized Private Inductsries of Italy representing about 80,000 companies and 800,000 workers signed the simmer up to help celebrate “the dedication to work, commitment and the sense of challenge” common to elite sport and business. “For large companies it needs courage, effort and commitment.

Portugal’s Tokyo 2020 Aim: 3 Swimmers In Top 16 Finishers

José Machado, the performance director for Portuguese swimming, has set his cap at three individuals finishing in the top 16 in their events as a mark of progress in his country’s swimming ranks. Asked what his ambitions were for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, he told the Portuguese media: “We want three places in the top 16, which would make it a step up from the two we had in Rio (2016).”

Tuesday, February 18

Tongan Swimmers Take The Long Way Home


The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has shown how coronavirus is more fatal than seasonal ‘flu – Photo courtesy – the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Fifty-one Tongan athletes, including the national swimming team, who were stranded in China due to the coronavirus outbreak are in the process of being evacuated to Britain this week.

The table tennis and boxing teams arrived in the United Kingdom on Monday, while swimming and weightlifting teams are scheduled to leave China today, according to the acting deputy head of sport for the Tongan kingdom, Eva Mafi.

She confirmed that the teams would stay in London for two weeks in quarantine and under the care of Tongan officials. She told reporters:

“They are [in] self-isolated quarantine so it’s more like they are staying in hotels or the venues they arrange in England for them to stay and the doctors – our Tongan doctors – and some of the England officials will look after them.”

Further updates would be provided to family members back in Tonga, Mafi added. If all goes according to plan and the athletes are given the all clear at the end of their quarantine, they are scheduled to arrive home in Tonga on March 7.

Meanwhile, at least 150 million people in China — more than 10 per cent of the country’s population — face restrictions on their movement outside their homes, Wuhan and Hubei provinces among those where strict lock-down policies are in place, with work, schools and other establishments closed. In many cases, one family member is assigned to the role of the person who is allowed to leave the home for basic shopping provisions at specific times of day.

Among Reasons For Concern…

An analysis by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention of 44,672 coronavirus patients in China whose diagnoses were confirmed by laboratory testing has found that 1,023 had died by February 11.

That translates to a fatality rate of 2.3 per cent. Figures released on a daily basis suggest the rate has further increased in recent days, even though the rate of increase in the number of confirmed cases of infection has slowed in the past few days, according to Chinese authorities.

The mortality rate is far higher than that for seasonal flu, with which the new coronavirus has sometimes been compared. In the United States, flu fatality rates hover around 0.1 percent.

Monday, February 17

Missy Franklin Urges All Governments To Spend On Swimming


Missy Franklin – Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Five-time Olympic gold medallist Missy Franklin has urged governments worldwide to invest in the sport of swimming – for safety, health – and better results at the Olympics. The 2012 Olympic 100 and 200m backstroke champion told ANI, the South East Asian news agency:

“I think all governments should invest in swimming. Swimming is the only sport that will save your life and it is the only sport you can do for the rest of your life. All governments should recognise the importance of this sport. I think, the younger you start, the better it is. The earlier you get the youngsters in the pool, it will help in yielding better results. I think it’s your passion that differentiates you from everyone else. If you want it that much, the results will come. If I am neck-to-neck with someone, in the end, it is just about who wants it more. If I have the needed passion at that time, I will come out triumphant.”

The 25-year-old added a personal note when asked what swimming meant to her:

“I think for me, swimming is a lot of technical, but it’s also about knowing your body. It’s very easy for us to generalise, saying that this works for someone else, why don’t you try it? I don’t believe that as everybody is different, you need to find what works best for you. For me, its more about fun and exploration. It’s not just about finding a routine, it’s about getting better every day. It takes time and energy if you want to get better each day. I am still learning.”

Ursinus College Sanctioned for Improper Financial Aid to Athletes

Ursinus College is facing more discipline, a couple of months after canceling the remainder of its college swimming season because of hazing violations.

The school has been sanctioned by the NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions for improperly awarding financial aid based on athletics participation.

The total of the violation accounted by the NCAA amounts to $335,300 to 64 student-athletes, which includes swimming and diving among the 17 sports affected.

“The financial aid violations stemmed from the former vice president’s strategy to increase enrollment by identifying prospective students who were most likely to enroll at Ursinus and awarding them additional need-based financial aid based on characteristics that included diversity, academics and athletics participation. In doing so, the former vice president and his staff impermissibly considered coaches’ athletics ratings of prospects, among other criteria. He also communicated with coaches to solicit information about prospects, including the amount of financial aid necessary to gain their enrollment,” the NCAA statement read. “As a result of these actions, during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years, Ursinus awarded financial aid totaling  335,300 to 64 studentathletes across 17 sport programs in a manner contrary to NCAA bylaws. The financial aid violations are major.”

UKAD Bombarded With 11,000 Malicious Emails Late 2019

The UK’s anti-doping agency (UKAD) was on the receiving end of more than 11,000 malicious emails in the final three months of 2019, according to new Freedom of Information (FOI) data.

Think tank Parliament Street collected the FOI evidence from UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) and found the agency had been bombarded by 11,148 spam and malicious emails in Q4 last year. Over a fifth (21%) were phishing emails, while the number of messages containing malware rose from just four in October to 41 in December, totalling 52 for the entire quarter. UKAD believes none of the attempts were successful.

Russian hackers from the infamous Fancy Bear group (aka APT28, Sofacy) were named by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) as behind attacks on UKAD’s global equivalent, WADA.

England Sinks Synchronised Swimming

TEAM RUSSIA GURBANBERDIEVA Mayya , MALTSEV Aleksandr DUET MIX TECHNICAL ROUTINE Glasgow 03/08/18 Synchronised Swimming Scotstoun Sports Campus LEN European Aquatics Championships 2018 European Championships 2018 Photo Pasquale Mesiano/ Deepbluemedia /Insidefoto

Synchro is now Artistic – with events for men, too … but Russia, World No 1, is sticking with ‘Synchro’ – Photo Courtesy: Pasquale Mesiano/ Deepbluemedia /Insidefoto

Swim England, the descendant of the the once mighty ASA (Amateur Swimming Association), has sunk the name synchronised swimming in favour of following the new name for the sport given to it in 2017 by FINA: Artistic Swimming.

Says the English body: “The change is being introduced in a bid to capitalise on the expected interest that will surround artistic swimming during this summer’s Olympic Games. Artistic swimming will now be used in all of Swim England’s communications about the sport, while the discipline website has changed to”

At the turn of the 20th century, synchronised swimming was known as water ballet. In 1933 and 1934, Katherine Whitney Curtis organised a show, “The Kay Curtis Modern Mermaids”, for the World Exhibition in Chicago. The announcer, 1920 Olympic 1500m freestyle champion Norman Ross, introduced the sport as “synchronised swimming” for the first time. Synchronised Swimming was introduced to the Olympic Games in 1984.

Since 2015, FINA has allowd men into the sport as part of the new “Mixed Duet” event. There are no events purely for men.

In July 2017, following a request by the IOC, FINA approved changes to its constitution that renamed synchronised swimming to artistic swimming. FINA said the name change would help to clarify the nature of the sport, in a similar way to the use of ‘artistic gymnastics’ in gymnastics. That would make the sport more “popular”.

Athletes, coaches and others have complained, however, that ‘artistic’ makes them sound more circus, less athletic, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Vitaly Mutko joining that chorus when he said his country, the world’s No1 synchro nation, would continue to use synchronised swimming. Said Mutko:

“To keep the name synchronised swimming is our right, and if the Federation itself, the coaches will want it, we will do it”.

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