The Soak: James Guy Says ‘Health & Safety First’ But Trials Cancellation ‘Heartbreaking’

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James Guy - Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

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

Monday March 23

Cate Campbell’s Words Of Wisdom As Athletes Worldwide Eye Tokyo 2021

The Week of March 16-22, 2020

Sunday, March 22

Double Olympic relay silver medallist James Guy says health and safety is paramount while admitting the cancellation of the British trials is “kind of heartbreaking”.

Guy, who won double gold at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia, had shown a return to top form this season but the coronavirus (COVID-19) has wreaked havoc across the world with the death toll relentlessly rising.

The British trials – which had been scheduled for April at the Aquatics Centre in London – were cancelled on Tuesday and the prospect of Tokyo 2020 going ahead is growing more untenable by the day.

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James Guy – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Guy spoke to reporter Nick Hope of BBC Sport and said:

“It’s your chance to show why you’re on that Olympic team. I think I would have swum pretty fast there, I was really confident, I was so happy with what I was doing and I was in such great shape.

“I was the lowest I’ve ever been body-weight wise. Muscle mass is really high, numbers were really great, I just felt physically really fit.

“But it’s one of those things, you can’t control what other people are doing.

“It’s kind of heartbreaking but at the same time it’s health and safety first.

“I don’t want to get this virus, I want to keep healthy and fit

“The Games are still going on from what I’ve been told so it’s all forward for that now obviously at the end of July.”

Guy, who is coached by Dave McNulty at the National Centre Bath, is a keen fisherman, a pastime that allows him time and solitude.

“There’s plenty of space and it’s very, very remote which is quite nice to be fair.”

Friday, March 20

Norways Asks IOC To Think Again On Tokyo 2020

The Norwegian Olympic Committee has written to Thomas Bach, the IOC president, to seek a pledge that the Tokyo Olympic Games will not be held until the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is fully under control and the world is out of danger.

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Photo Courtesy: Twitter, various

In a letter now circulating on social media, Norwegian NOC President Berit Kjøll and secretary general Karen Kvalevåg have told Bach that it is “neither justifiable nor desirable to send Norwegian athletes to the Olympics or Paralympics in Tokyo until 2020 before the world community has put this pandemic behind them”.

The letter reads:

“The Norwegian NOC is concerned about the COVID 19-pandemic and the public health situation both nationally and internationally. The situation in many parts of the world is complex, challenging and dangerous. The Norwegian NOC monitors the planning of the Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo on a day to day basis. We understand and respect that the situation is indeed very complicated for the Japanese health authorities, the OCOG and the IOC.

“We trust that the advice from the Tokyo 2020 Task Force is of the highest medical standard and has the safety of the athletes as the overall priority. With respect to the Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo, we, like the IOC, are all concerned about the health and safety of athletes.

“In the light of the challenging situation we all face, we would appreciate if the IOC could give us insight on the central milestones in the process leading up to the final decision on Tokyo 2020.

“Our clear recommendation is that the Olympic Games in Tokyo shall not take place before the COVID-19 situation is under firm control on a global scale.”

The letter joins a request from Spain for the IOC to move the dates of the Games and comes on a day when the British Olympic Association has added to the pressure n Bach and flow Olympic bosses by giving warning that it will not ‘Endanger Health & Wellbeing Of Athletes’ for the sake of holding to a July 24 start for the Tokyo Games.

Litchfield Enjoying Pool Access While Health Remains Priority

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Max Litchfield – Photo Courtesy: Georgie Kerr

Double European IM medallist Max Litchfield is making the most of being able to train at the National Centre Loughborough while many facilities close across the world.

The Briton, who finished fourth in the 400IM at Rio 2016, trains in Loughborough under Dave Hemmings alongside the likes of European 200br silver medallist Molly Renshaw, Olympic 200IM silver medallist Siobhan O’Connor and Commonwealth 200m breaststroke champion James Wilby.

How long that will be the case is unclear given British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s long-awaited order for gyms and leisure centres to close on Friday.

Speaking to Sky Sports News on Friday morning, Litchfield said:

“At the moment, we have been quite lucky over here in Loughborough that, as far as things stand, the facilities are still open, we’re still able to train here in the pool and in the gym as well.

“Hopefully that continues over the next few weeks and we don’t get the disruption that, unfortunately, many athletes have got across the country.

“We’re planning and putting precautions in place, preparing in case the worst does happen and we get told we can’t swim or we can’t go into the gym and we have to train from home.

“But while we’ve got that access, we’re just going to make the most of it really.”

While health is the absolute number one priority, Litchfield is of positive mind, saying:

“The most important thing is athlete health and health across the country. So if places do need to close and that means we can’t train, obviously that has to take precedence and we will train from home and find another option.

“But looking forward, it’s just a matter of making the most of the situation you’re presented with and trying to stay positive throughout the whole thing.”

COVID-19 Leads WADA to New Anti-Doping Guidance

Due to restrictions in place thanks to the spread of coronavirus, the World Anti-Doping Agency Friday updated its guidance for enforcement, taking into account new restrictions on travel and mandates of social distancing.

The procedures, created in consultation with Anti-Doping Organizations across the world and other athletic stakeholders, including “the provision of whereabouts information, sample collection and transport to laboratories, sample analysis, education programs, investigations, result management, therapeutic use exemptions, compliance and other activities and obligations covered by the World Anti-Doping Program.”

WADA is also aiming to have a resource document by next week that can address specific athlete concerns. From WADA President Witold Banka in the press release:

The sports world is dealing with an unprecedented situation. COVID-19 has forced all anti-doping stakeholders, including WADA, to adjust the way daily operations are conducted. But this matter goes way beyond anti-doping and sport – it is a global emergency – and our first priority must be public health, safety and social responsibility.

As we have done throughout this global crisis, WADA will continue to liaise with ADOs, providing leadership and support so that the health of all concerned can be protected and the integrity of the world anti-doping system can be maintained as much as possible. It will also be crucial that the system can return to full power as quickly as possible once the various restrictions are lifted.

During this time, I would like to acknowledge how difficult it is for athletes, too, who face disruptions to their training programs and uncertainty as to what the future holds for their competitions.”

“If there were no winter, spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not taste adversity, success would not be so much appreciated.”

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Mireia Belmonte – Photo Courtesy: Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports

Fred Vergnoux, who has guided Mireia Belmonte to four Olympic medals including gold in the 200 fly at Rio 2016, has quoted English poet Anne Bradstreet as the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to wreak havoc across the world.

There are growing questions from athletes, coaches and governing bodies over Tokyo 2020 going ahead with access to training restricted and Olympic trials cancelled or postponed across the world.

It was announced on Friday morning that the 2020 European Championships, which were due to be held in Budapest, Hungary, from 11-24 May had been postponed and tentatively rearranged for 17-30 August.

Vergnoux took to social media minutes later to quote the 17th-century poet Bradstreet, saying:

“If there were no winter, spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not taste adversity, success would not be so much appreciated.”

Thursday March 19

Guy Will Be Prepared For Olympics “Whenever It Is”

Foto Gian Mattia D'Alberto/LaPresse 21 Dicembre 2019 Las Vegas - USA sport nuoto 2019 ISL - International Swimming League. Nella foto: GUY James Photo Gian Mattia D'Alberto/LaPresse December 21, 2019 Las Vegas - USA sport swimming 2019 ISL - International Swimming League. In the picture: GUY James

James Guy: Photo Courtesy: Gian Mattia D’Alberto/LaPresse

Four-time world champion James Guy will “be ready to go” if and when the Olympics go ahead.

The Briton already has two Olympic medals in his armoury with two silvers as part of the 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m medley relay teams in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The British trials for Tokyo 2020 were cancelled on Tuesday following the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and now athletes worldwide are waiting to see what will happen come July when Tokyo 2020 is scheduled to start.

Guy, who trains at the National Centre Bath, insists he will be ready for competition, whenever that may be.

He told BBC Sport:

“If they are going to give us a day, we are backing that. Don’t complain and just deal with it.

“I’ll be ready for that. Whenever it is – if it’s two months time, if it’s three months time, if it’s in a year’s time, I’ll be ready to go 100%.

“And I can tell you now the best athletes in the world across all sports, they’ll be the exact same.

“People who can deal with it the best will deliver the best results.”

GBR World-Class Funding Safe  As Long As Athletes/Feds Comply With Corona Guidance

UK Sport, the body that regulates and distributes funding to athletes in Britain,  has issued the following an update to the British sports community on Covid-19:

At this difficult time for the world at large, we recognise that sport is not the most important issue. However, as with most industries and communities at the moment the impact of Covid-19 on sport around the world and here in the UK is already proving to be devastating in many ways. Public health and safety is of course everyone’s top priority right now, and we are working closely with Government so that we can best advise and support all UK Sport funded organisations.

All of our funded sports have been advised to keep abreast of the latest Government and NHS guidance on:

  • Self-isolation and how to avoid catching or spreading the virus
  • Social distancing
  • Travel

Below is further guidance we have issued around athletes and their training commitments and environments, elite training facilities, major events and our World Class Programme.

Athlete Training

We have sought specific advice from Government on athletes and their training commitments which is:

“It will be for individual governing bodies to determine this, in light of the guidance on social distancing and their assessment of any particular risks to their staff, for example, if cases have been suspected or confirmed. If they feel they can create a safe environment and need to continue training activity, they may consider doing so.”

We have also advised sports that an ‘informed choice’ approach must be taken; if any athlete or staff member (of either sport or host/operator) does not feel that a safe environment can be created and/or maintained and/or they have mental or physical wellbeing concerns for themselves, family members or those vulnerable whom they come in to contact with then they should make that clear and they should have the choice on whether to attend.

Elite training facilities

We have also sought specific advice from Government on elite training facilities and they have stated the following:

“If the operators feel they can provide a safe environment, given the guidance on social distancing and protecting vulnerable groups, then they may wish to consider staying open to accommodate elite athletes.”

In addition, specific guidance has been provided by UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport around additional care that must be taken with regards vulnerable groups, which will, by their very nature, include those with underlying health conditions and some of our Paralympic athletes.

UK Sport has also shared this guidance with all Elite Training Centres.

Major Events

On Monday (16.03.20) the Prime Minister gave a statement in which the government advised “everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel”. The Prime Minister also said that, because government was advising against unnecessary contact of all kinds, “it is right that we should extend this advice to mass gatherings as well”.

In lieu of further specific guidance around mass gatherings, our interpretation of the government’s advice is that major events should not be going ahead, as it would be incongruous to support the staging of something that everyone should avoid.

National Governing Bodies and event organisers are encouraged to maintain an active dialogue with the Major Events Team at UK Sport, so that we can understand and (where possible) assist NGBs in making the necessary arrangements.

World Class Programme funding and support

UK Sport will generally not seek to recover any financial investment in the World Class Programme (including Athlete Performance Awards) due to disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, subject to UK Sport being satisfied that:

  • All actions taken in respect of the World Class Programme are in accordance with any relevant UK Government guidance, and
  • All reasonable steps have and continue to be made to minimise any financial losses, for example through insurance.

UK Sport will consider requests for its funding to be used in any manner that has not previously been agreed on a case-by-case basis, and this will be subject to prior written approval from UK Sport.

Wednesday March 18

British Swimming Announces Tokyo 2020 Selection Process

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GBR Coaches Photo Courtesy: British Swimming

British swimmers can qualify for Tokyo 2020 – should it go ahead – based on their performances at the 2019 World Championships and their performances from 1 March to 29 June 2020.

Governing body British Swimming announced the two-stage process on Wednesday afternoon following the cancellation of the British Championships which would have doubled as the Olympic trials next month at the Aquatics Centre in London.

There was a blow to the women’s relays as they announced that they would not be able to qualify further relay squads meaning any potential women’s 4x100m and 4×200 free quartets would miss out.

They also revealed they cancelled the trials rather than postponed them so as to give a degree of certainty to the swimmers whereas a postponement would keep them in limbo.

The statement read:

“Due to the extraordinary situation regarding the coronavirus outbreak, the British Swimming World Class Performance Leadership Group (PLG) is reviewing the 2020 Olympic selection policy as per General Condition G15.

“A new selection policy is currently being developed in conjunction with our partners at the British Olympic Association (BOA) and this is expected to be published within the next week.

“Before doing that, we need to state that due to the current situation (and the uncertainty around the duration for which restrictions will remain in place) the PLG felt a postponement of the British Championships would only add to the uncertainty surrounding the current situation, and therefore a cancellation was the best option.

“In order to keep coaches, athletes and parents informed during the interim period before the new policy is published, the PLG felt it was appropriate to share an early view of the key principles of what will appear in the new version. These are reflected below:

  • The policy will continue to reflect the need to maximise medal opportunities and at the same time allow for an open and fair process for selection to the 2020 Olympic team.
  • The integrity of the current policy will be maintained with a three-tiered selection to keep this consistent with previous years (as reflected in Clauses 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 of the former Olympic policy)
  • The maximum size of the team (30) is not expected to change.
  • There will be a two-stage nomination process for selection.
  • The first phase will include pre-selection nomination of athletes based on their performances at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju. These athletes will be nominated for selection to the BOA at the same time of the publishing of the new policy.
  • The second phase of nomination for selection will be based on performances during the FINA qualification window – 1st March 2019 to 29th June 2020.  Our intention therefore is to allow more athletes the opportunity to post a FINA A time or better by extending the ‘consideration time’ period until the end of June 2020.
  • Due to the uncertainty surrounding the staging of the 2020 European Championships and the potential extension of the qualifying period until the end of June 2020, we will not be in a position to qualify any additional relays for Tokyo 2020 other than the five relays that have pre-qualified at this time – Men’s, Women’s and Mixed 4×100 Medley relays, Men’s 4×100 Freestyle relay and Men’s 4×200 Freestyle relay.
  • The new policy will only apply if the 2020 Olympic Games is held on the existing dates 25th July to 2nd August 2020.  If there is any postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games beyond this period, a new selection policy will be required.

“In terms of the 2020 European Championships (Pool) selection policy, this remains under review due to the uncertainty surrounding this event. A further advisory on this policy will be published on the 30th March 2020.

“We understand the difficulties in preparing athletes with such uncertainty at the moment, but our priority will always be the health and wellbeing of our athletes, coaches, support staff and volunteers.  We appreciate the swimming community’s patience over the next week as we seek to finalize the new policy.”

Romanchuk lays down fastest 1500 free in the world in 2020

ROMANCHUK Mykhaylo UKR Gold Medal 400m Freestyle Men Finals Glasgow 03/08/18 Swimming Tollcross International Swimming Centre LEN European Aquatics Championships 2018 European Championships 2018 Photo Andrea Masini/ Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

Mykhailo Romanchuk; Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini/ Deepbluemedia /Insidefoto

The coronavirus (COVID-19) may have cut a swathe through sporting events worldwide but the Ukraine Winter Championships went ahead with Mykhailo Romanchuk going 14.41.63 in the 1500m freestyle.

It was an Olympic qualifying time but quite whether Tokyo 2020 will go ahead in July as planned is looking increasingly unlikely.

The double world silver medallist dominated the race to win by 48.63secs from Nikita Ostapenko (15:30.36) at the Aquarena in Kharkiv.

It is the fastest time in the world this year and is likely to remain so for quite some time.

It was one of four freestyle titles for Romanchuk who also won the 800m (7:43.90), 400m (3:52.91) and 200m (1:50.83).

Andriy Govorov, who won bronze in the 50 fly at the 2017 World Championships, claimed victory in 23.58 and also took silver in the 50 free in 22.68 behind Vladislav Bukhov (22.44).

British Swimming Announces Summer Meets Policy

British Swimming has announced its policy on the invitation process it will extend to swimmers looking to compete at their summer meets.

It follows Tuesday’s announcement that the British Olympic trials have been postponed in the light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

On Wednesday, the governing body revealed further details of how swimmers can qualify for events, which read:

“Further to our communication yesterday (17th March) stating that British Swimming and the Home Nations have decided to suspend the published Qualifying Window dates and process with immediate effect, we are now in a position to provide further advice on the updated invite process for the summer meets.

“As you will appreciate, the guidance around staging events is subject to change over the coming weeks. Working on the assumption that it is viable for the 2020 British Summer Championships and 2020 Home Nation Summer Meets to take place, we will be inviting athletes on the basis of retrospective long-course performances achieved in the period 1st July 2019 to 12th March 2020. No performance after this date will be considered. This is the case even if some meets start to take place in May.

“For para-swimmers, the qualification process will remain the same, however the qualification window will be slightly longer, with performances from 1st April 2019 to 12 March 2020 being considered. The top 20 swimmers per event, scoring more than 550 British Para-Swimming points, will be invited.

“Only performances that feature on the British rankings (www.swimmingresults.org) and have been achieved at licensed meets will be eligible.

“The process for invites, including notification dates, will be announced in due course. Given the current circumstances, your understanding of the need for this change to the process is appreciated.”

Monday March 16

The British Olympic Swimming Trials, scheduled to start in London on April 14, look set to be called off after the UK Government announced that it would “no longer support mass gatherings”.

In the first of what will now be daily press briefings from Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Government’s health advisers, sports events were cited among events that were a drain on emergency services that would be needed elsewhere.

The move would come into effect from midnight.

British Swimming said on Monday night that they would make an announcement on Tuesday morning, saying:

Johnson said the Government had to “ensure that we have the critical workers we need that might otherwise be deployed for those gatherings, to deal with those emergencies”. He added:

“So from tomorrow we will no longer be supporting mass gatherings with emergency workers in the way that we normally do. We are asking people to so something difficult and disruptive to their lives.”

Such plans would not be in place for “two weeks” but “as a minimum for a matter of more weeks and months and maybe much longer,” said Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK Government’s chief scientific adviser.

Johnson said the moves were “very draconian”, but were necessary as the UK entered the so-called fast-growth part of the pandemic. London in particular, Johnson said, was several weeks ahead of other parts of the country with the rapidity of spread of the virus.

Russian Swimming Championships Will Be Held, But Without Spectators

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Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / deepbluemedia

Russian Swimming Federation President Vladimir Salnikov announced Monday that the Russian Championships will be held as scheduled, but without spectators. The coronavirus pandemic that is dominating world headlines has wiped out a large number of competitions for the next month, leaving the status of a lot of future events in question.

The Russian Championships will be held in Kazan from April 3 – 9.

The Russian Federation was banned from international competition for four years in December, but the decision was appealed, which allowed Russian athletes to compete under their flag in events such as the FINA Champions Series. It will now be up to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to determine the final decision over the eligibility of the Russian nation. If the country is banned, then certain athletes will be able to compete under a neutral flag in Tokyo much like what happened in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

USA Diving Suspends Regional Championships Indefinitely

After reviewing the latest data on COVID-19, and as part of the national effort to contain the further spread of the virus, based on the information that is available from the experts in the medical community and our government agencies, USA Diving has made the decision to suspend its upcoming Regional Championships indefinitely.

USA Diving’s staff is currently working with the local hosts to discuss alternative opportunities to safely compete and qualify for the USA Diving Junior National Championships.

British Swimming CEO Buckner Applauds Swimmers After Edinburgh International

British Swimming CEO Jack Buckner has paid tribute to all involved – swimmers, coaches and parents – at the Edinburgh International Swim Meet.

The three-day competition, which concluded on Sunday, included many top swimmers on the British team including Adam Peaty, Duncan Scott and Freya Anderson.

There were several notable performances with Scott and Anderson coming away with three gold medals as well as a Scottish 50 free record for the former while Peaty unleashed a 58.13 blast in the 100m breaststroke, a time only he has bettered in history.

It was all done against the backdrop of the British trials for the Olympic team on the brink of being postponed in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The post, which drew a response from Peaty’s coach Mel Marshall, read:

 

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