The Soak: Triple European Medallist Philip Heintz To Continue Until Tokyo 2021

Philip Heintz; Photo Courtesy: Foto Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia /Insidefoto

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 April 27-May 3, 2020

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Philip Heintz Set To Continue Until Tokyo 2021

Three-time European medallist Philip Heintz will continue competing until 2021 after the Olympics were pushed back a year.

The German IM specialist will be 30 by the time Tokyo comes around in July 2021 and while he admits the news of the Games’ postponement hit hard initially, Heintz has resolved to look forward.

He told the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung:

“That pulls the plug on you first and you do wonder do you want to do that for another year.

“It is not as easy to recover as it was in your early or mid 20s but you have other advantages, you are more experienced and mature and you know what is good for you.”

Doubts have been cast over whether the Games will be held in 2021 with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe saying it would not be possible without the pandemic being contained with the Japan Medical Association describing the prospect of them going ahead without a vaccine as “difficult”.

Heintz, a two-time Olympian, does not even contemplate that possibility, saying:

“I tend not to deal with that. That would hit me hard.”

Friday, May 1, 2020

2021 Commonwealth Youth Games To Be Rescheduled

The 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games, which were due to take place in Trinidad and Tobago in August, have been postponed to avoid a clash with the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Games were to be staged from 1-7 August but the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Executive Board will reschedule the competition.

A statement by the CGF said they were considering the best alternative options, including possibly rescheduling the Games in 2023, with Trinidad and Tobago given first option to remain as hosts.

CGF President Dame Louise Martin said:

“The rescheduling of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics has also changed demands on scheduling and resources for many of our Commonwealth Games Associations (CGAs) and International Federations from 2020 to 2021.

“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact across the world and everyone’s absolute priority is the health and wellbeing of their communities.”

“Our decision has been made in the best interests of athletes, fans and citizens that are to benefit from these transformational Games.

“We are committed over the coming months to look at future dates and hosting options, to ensure the right decision is taken for the Commonwealth Youth Games, so that the region can continue to play a leading role as part of the Commonwealth Sports Movement.”

Australian Programs Start To Return to the Water

Australia is gradually loosening COVID-19 restrictions with some States, led by South Australia, Western Australia  and the Northern Territory and still under strict guidelines, announcing its plans to start re-opening its sports doors as of today with other states set to follow over the next fortnight.

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LORD OF THE RINGS: Kyle Chalmers welcomes the return to the pool in SA.Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

And that means that pools have started to welcome elite squads with the likes of Rio Olympians Kyle Chalmers in South Australia and Brianna Throssell in Western Australia among the first to take the plunge.

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported:

 “Slowly, the doors are being opened again for swimmers in top squads, with Peter Bishop’s group in Adelaide (which includes Olympic champion Chalmers) now allowed back into their Marion base as long as they abide by strict protocols, which limits groups to 10, ensures they observe social distancing measures and allows only one swimmer per lane.

“It’s a move that will give some encouragement to the other top squads around the country, most of which continue to be exiled from their home pools until the varying states take the brakes off some of the measures currently in place.”

Bishop told the Sydney Morning Herald main concern for his swimmers was that they would lose some of their touch through the water, saying the chance to return has come as a huge relief, even if there are no meets on the calendar and little to aim at until the schedule is clarified.

“It’s been fantastic. The swimmers have loved the actual feeling of getting back in the water and being able to swim in a pool of some substance,” Bishop said.

“We’ve tried to find different forms of exercise over the (COVID-19) break including trying to get into the water in some way, whether it be a backyard pool or the ocean if the weather was good. We had access to one of those jet pools, which helped.

“It was quite interesting when we went through all the threats and opportunities, one of those was losing their feel for the water and their technique. To get back into a decent-sized pool has been an absolute joy.”

Chalmers had been in career best shape in March at the NSW Championships with superb performances not only in the 100 and 200m freestyle but also the 100 and 200m butterfly as he mounts his challenge to take on US superstar Caeleb Dressel in next year’s postponed Tokyo Olympics.

There 22-year-old has thrown down the gauntlet with some of the most impressive performances of 2020 but like the rest of the world will have to set his sights on 12 months time.

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BLACK LINE FEVER: Brianna Throssell back in the water in WA. Photo Courtesy: lan MacNicol

And in WA elite athletes are also back in the swim as of today (Saturday, May 2) with a report in the West Australian newspaper confirming that with restrictions of one swimmer per lane at the HBF Stadium, the elite squad are back training: welcome news for Rio Olympian and World Championship relay gold medallist Brianna Throssell.

Throssell, coached by Mick Palfrey, said it was a relief and an emotional boost to be able to get back in the pool.

“Just hearing that information isa the absolute highlight of the last six weeks…I have never been so excited to wake up before the sun rises and follow a black line in my life,” Throssell told Steve Butler.

Swimmers headline Centenary of a glittering Australian Olympic Committee history

Tuesday, April 28

Tomorrow April 29, marks 100 years since the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) was founded with Australia’s swimmers playing an inspirational role in its glittering history.

Originally formed as the Australian Olympic Council on April 29th, 1920, the anniversary marks the formal separation of Australia and New Zealand from the combined “Australasia” entity which had competed in the 1908 London and 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games.

In 1920, the first Australia-only Team competed in Antwerp then in August 1923, the Australian Olympic Council changed its name to the Australian Olympic Federation – an identity it held until June 19, 1990 when it was re-named the Australian Olympic Committee.

AOC president John Coates says Australia shares the distinction of being represented at every modern Olympic Games, along with Greece.

“We owe a great debt to our first Olympian, Edwin Flack who was studying accountancy in London. He was granted leave before travelling to the inaugural Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 where he won gold in the 800 metres and 1500 metres events. We owe an equal debt to whoever granted that leave,” Mr Coates said.

“Since that first Games, Australia’s representation has grown, as has our nation’s status as a consistent top-10 nation in medal tallies. This reflects the great and very important passion for sport shared by Australians. In all 3,988 Australians have become Olympians.

“The Olympic Games have always been about the athletes and Australians have lauded their Olympic heroes. There are too many to do justice to but their achievements are captured in the annals of our nation.”

Mr Coates cited the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games and the Sydney 2000 Games as the high points.

“A home Games is something special for athletes. Not only did Melbourne and Sydney put on a great Games, our athletes rose to the occasion to inspire generations,” he said.

Dawn Fraser Harry Gallagher nd Jon Henricks

Legendary coach Harry Gallagher with 1956 Olympic champions Dawn Fraser and Jon Henricks. Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia.

The names are synonymous with Australian sporting legend –with swimmers Dawn Fraser, Murray Rose, Jon Henricks, David Theile, John Devitt and Lorraine Crapp along with track queens Betty Cuthbert and Shirley Strickland emerging in ’56.

And in Sydney, where swim stars Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, Susie O’Neill and track legend Cathy Freeman along with the men’s 4×100 and 4x200m freestyle relay teams and team sports with gold in women’s water polo, equestrian eventing and women’s hockey amongst those stealing the show.

“Sydney saw Australia’s largest-ever team of 628 athletes, winning a record 58 medals. It stands as a beacon. Importantly, during this time the Australian Olympic Committee was able to secure its lasting independence and financial independence,” said Mr Coates

“Since the creation of the Australian Olympic Foundation in 1996, boosted with an injection of $88.5 million in 1998 because of Sydney’s hosting success, the prudent management of the Foundation’s funds has secured the AOC’s financial future.”

Monday, April 27

Mediterranean Games Pushed Back A Year To Start In June 2022

The Mediterranean Games, which were due to start on 25 June 2021 in Oran, Algeria, have been pushed back a year to 2022.

Organisers announced the 19th edition of the Games will now be held from 25 June-5 July 2022 to avoid a clash with the Olympic Games in Tokyo which have been pushed back a year to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement was released which read:

“The decision was based on the following principles:

“1. to protect the health of the Athletes and everyone involved in the Mediterranean Games,

“2. to ensure the best possible preparation of the Athletes, the participation of the top Athletes of the Mediterranean basin and the highest interest of the Games, in a period when no other major international sports event are planned,

“3. the global international sports calendar,

“4. the strong will of the city of Oran and of Algeria to deliver to the Mediterranean sports family excellent Mediterranean Games.

“The Organizing Committee “Oran 2021” have decided that the 25th of June 2022 will be dedicated to the opening ceremony of the 19th edition of the Mediterranean Games and that the closing ceremony of the Games, on 05 July 2022, day that coincides with the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Independence of Algeria, will be the best opportunity to organize a brilliant event, with symbolism for the entire Mediterranean basin.”

The switch makes for more congestion in the 2022 calendar with the European Championships in Rome running from 11-21 August with the World Championships expected to be rescheduled that same year although no date has yet been announced.

The World Athletics Championships are being held in Eugene, Oregon, from 15-21 July followed by the European Championships in Munich, Germany.

Olympic and three-time world champion Gregorio Paltrinieri, 2019 world 50 free silver medallist Kristian Gkolomeev, Mireia Belmonte, 200 fly champion at Rio 2016, and Simona Quadarella, who won 1500 free at last year’s World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, were among the gold medallists at the 2018 edition in Tarragona, Spain.

Bosnian Junior Champ Shows off Makeshift Backyard Training Setup

Coping with training restrictions during quarantine isn’t easy. The solution for Bosnian junior champion Iman Avdic is creative, to say the least. From Reuters:

The 13-year-old Avdic is training in a 3×2-metre pool which sits in a greenhouse in her grandfather’s garden. Clad in a wetsuit, she swims while tied to a bungee rope to hold her in place.

The images from Reuters are compelling. Avdic, a Sarajevo native, has headed to her grandparents’ house in the rural town of Doboj in the north of the country. She trains with her father and coach, Evelin Avdic.

“It is all kind of odd for me but everything can be done like before but in a slightly different way. It’s easy for me to adapt but I miss a real pool,” Iman Avdic told Reuters.

Per Swimrankings.com, Avdic holds numerous Bosnian girls age-group records, in 12-and-under and 14-and-under competition. She swims for PK Sport Time Sarajevo.

Scottish Swimming Lay Down Keepy-Uppy Challenge With Duncan Scott

Duncan Scott and Scottish Swimming have laid down a challenge for people to beat the three-time world relay champion at table tennis keepy-uppies.

Scott managed 160 in 47 seconds – chosen because of his 100m free British record of 47.87secs – and the governing body called on people to #ChallengeDuncan.

Finlay Maguire, of Inverleith ASC in Edinburgh, Scotland, managed 105 in the allotted time while using a tennis racquet – all within the rules.

Sun’s Former Fans Express Their Displeasure

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Sun Yang and the letters inviting him to join China’s Olympic swim training and then withdrawing that offer – Main Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Chinese social media posts have sympathised with the family of Mack Horton after a feature in The Australian Weekend Magazine reported that the Olympic 400m freestyle champion, his parents and younger brother have been systematically “terrorised” by supporters of Sun Yang, the rival who was handed an eight-year suspension by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on February 28 before issuing its report in full the following week.

Headlined “Horton torment after poking the dragon“, the Australian’s backstage takes from Horton’s parents Andrew and Cheryl revealed that the family home was broken into, broken glass was placed on the bottom of their pool and dog excrement was hurled over the garden fence.

Sun was selected and then dropped from Chinese swimming’s Olympic training plans this month after Swimming World alerted WADA to a potential third breach of the WADA Code by a swimmer who tested positive for a banned substance in 2014 and then tampered with a blood sample in September 2018 when he signed the vial over to anti-doping officers before claiming it back in an acrimonious dispute with testers outside his home in Zhejiang province.

After a hearing in November at which WADA called for an eight-year ban and challenged a FINA Doping Panel ruling that had let the Chinese swimmer off with a caution in a January 19 ruling, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) sided with the global anti-doping watchdog.

In an extensive interview,  The Australian reported:

“For nearly four years the family has lived in a virtual state of siege. Supporters of Sun, most believed to be on student visas, regularly bang pots and pans late at night in the alley behind the back fence and abused the family from the driveway.”

Mack Horton AUS protests Sun Yang's CHN Gold Medal, 400m Freestyle Final, 18th FINA World Swimming Championships 2019, 21 July 2019, Gwanju South Korea. Pic by Delly Carr/Swimming Australia. Pic credit requested and mandatory for free editorial usage. THANK YOU.

The podium protest, Gwangju 2019 – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The crisis spilled into the World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, last year where Horton and Britain’s Duncan Scott refused to share the podium with Sun after the 400m and 200m freestyle finals,. respectively. All three athletes were handed warnings by FINA, the international federation, Sun for abusive behaviour on the podium and his rivals for refusing to stand next to Sun for ceremonies.

Now, the South China Morning Post reports that Chinese social media users are apologising to Horton and family, among examples:

On Sina Sports, one post described those responsible for the abuse suffered by the Hortons as “villains” and wish the Australian swimmer to continued success, saying: “Feel at ease to create achievements and win more gold medals!”

Others echoed CAS in slamming Sun’s “arrogance” and another user in Shenyang wrote “Don’t equate Chinese and Sun Yang fans, okay?”

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