The Soak: Olympic golden girl Mel Wright lending a helping hand in COVID-19 front line

OLYMPIC GOLD to COVID-19 front line: Mel Wright (R) celebrates 2012 Olympic gold in the women's 4x100m freestyle relay with (from left) Alicia Coutts, Cate Campbell and Brittany Elmslie. Photo Courtesy News Ltd (Australia).

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 April 13 – 19, 2020

Saturday, April 18

Australia’s dual Olympic gold medallist and student doctor Mel Wright has experienced first hand the stark reality of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Wright, who won Olympic gold in 2008 (4x200m freestyle) and 2012 (4x100m freestyle relay) is in her final year of medical school at Bond University on the Gold Coast.


GOOD DOCTOR: Olympic swimmer Mel Wright, a final year medical student at Bond University. Main Photo Courtesy: Gold Coast Bulletin (Jerad Williams).

The 33-year-old was in a placement at the Gold Coast University Hospital emergency department when the first cases of coronavirus were found in the city.

“Initially the magnitude of the problem wasn’t clear – it was one or two cases but really ramped up after my rotation,” Wright told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

“Seeing it first hand really gives you an appreciation the role doctors and nurses have in our society.

“It is just daunting. Like most working now I have a young family. I don’t want to put them or myself at risk but it is part of the job.

“Even during my current rotation in general practice you are seeing people who are showing symptoms – it is amazing to be in my final year at this time to see how professionally and proactively the medical community responds.

“As a kid I wanted to be a doctor, swimming felt like something I did before I started my career…. and my focus (at the moment) is just helping where I can.”

Wright first gained entry into Bond in 2016 while moving from athlete into her medical career and is eager to graduate at the end of 2020.

She also plays a key role at Bond University Sport, which includes mentoring many of the faculty’s aspiring Olympians – including swimmers Alex Graham, Elijah Winnington and Jenna Strauch and Bond University scholarship holder Minna Atherton.

Wright is married to fellow 2012 Olympian, Chris Wright, who is an assistant coach at the Griffith University High Performance Program under Head Coach Michael Bohl.

A program that includes the likes of Emma and David McKeon, Emily Seebohm, Georgia Bohl, Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Taylor McKeown.

Indian Swimmer Faces 4-Year Doping Ban

Indian swimmer Sahil Pawar has been given a four-year suspension by the Anti-Doping Panel of India, after testing positive for a banned substance in 2019.

Pawar was tested at the Khelo India Youth Games 2019. An analysis performed on his sample indicated the presence of the metabolite of Methandienone, a banned substance.

The four-year suspension has been backdated to March 20, 2019.

Slovakian Swimmer Gets 2-Year Ban

Slovakian swimmer Juraj Hlavek received a 2-year doping suspension for a positive test. The ban, handed out by the Disciplinary Committee of the Slovak Swimming Federation, began on Sept. 11, 2019.

Hlavek tested positive for the banned substance Methylhexaneamine during the during the Open Championships of the Slovak Republic.

Friday April 17

Scottish Swimming Launches SS Connect


Scottish Swimming Launched SS Connect Today – Inset Photo Courtesy: Scottish Swimming

Scottish Swimming has launched SS Connect, a series of digital courses and content aimed at “learning, communication and enjoyment in the coming weeks and months to support our members’ needs as we feel it is essential to enable our aquatics community to feel connected” during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

Members have to pre-register guests, the federation having introduced “additional security measures to ensure we do as much as possible to keep participants safe online”, following a Scottish Swimming Zoom workout being hacked and the audience subjected to “disturbing content” (see story further down in this file).

Scottish Swimming said:

“We recognise that our sport relies on a dedicated army of people to deliver it from coaches to teachers and from tutors to volunteers. For this reason, we have put together a programme of online courses and interactive video conferencing sessions to upskill our members during the lockdown period and beyond.”

The full programme of courses can be found at the SS website. 

Current course that can be booked include:


  • Coach-Athlete relationships, for all All Performance Development Coaches.

Presented by Doug MacDonald on 22/04/20 at 13:00. Limited spaces available by booking here.

  • Backcrawl for Youth Swimmers, for Age Group Coaches.

Presented by Bradley Hay on 23/04/20 at 15:30. Spaces available by booking here.


  • Club Procedures and Policies 

Presented by Colleen Blair, Sean Dawson and Erin Cummins on 20/04/20 at 18:00. Spaces available by booking here.

  • The Role of a WPO

Presented by Victoria Steele on 24/04/20 at 13:30. Spaces available by booking here.

Thursday April 16

Boglarka Kapas Comes Through COVID-19 Infection & Tests Negative

Boglarka Kapas of Hungary walks out after winning in the women’s 200m Butterfly Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 25 July 2019.

Boglarka Kapas – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Boglarka Kapas, the World 200m butterfly champion from Hungary, has tested negative for coronavirus at the end of her 14-day quarantine. After a first test was negative and a second positive, a third test a few days out from the end of her isolation returned negative.

Kapas, among the biggest names in swimming to test positive for corona so far, after Olympic and World champion Cameron van Der Burgh, announced the good news on her facebook page today.

She is one of 15 Hungarian swimmers who tested positive for coronavirus COVID-19, along with Dominik Kozma, David Horvath and Richard Bohus.

Hungarian swimming is in lockdown until April 27, when further assessment of the risk will be undertaken. All swimmers will have to produce two consecutive negative tests before any national-team activities are resumed.

Wednesday April 15

British Swimming Confirm Original Quartet Will Contest Open Water Qualifier

British Swimming have clarified their policy for open water selection to Team GB for Tokyo 2020 which has been rescheduled to July 2021.

The International Olympic Committee and world governing body FINA have confirmed that the top-10 finishers in the men’s and women’s races at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju will retain their places for 2021.

Jack Burnell, Hector Pardoe, Alice Dearing and Danielle Huskisson had been due to compete at the open water qualifier in Fukuoka, Japan, in May from which a further nine swimmers – male and female – would book their spots in Tokyo.

However, that has now been cancelled because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with no date as yet announced.

Jack Burnell finish

Jack Burnell: Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

British Swimming have stated that the quartet would compete at the rescheduled event, saying:

“Given the revisions to the Olympic dates will mirror when the Games would have taken place in 2020, the Great Britain team shall be selected using the same criteria, at the Olympic qualification event, which was set for 30th/31st May 2020, but will now take place in 2021.”

National performance director Chris Spice said:

“Our Performance Leadership Group (PLG), in conjunction with the British Olympic Association (BOA) have reviewed the original policy in response to the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games, which was announced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the 24th March. The PLG felt the 2020 Marathon Olympic Games Selection Policy should continue to operate, where possible, in line with the FINA and IOC decisions.

“Selections for the Olympic Qualification event have already been made and given there have been no changes to the principles of the FINA and IOC qualification process, these selections remain and the four athletes already selected for the event on 30th/31st May 2020 (Jack Burnell, Hector Pardoe, Alice Dearing and Danielle Huskisson) will compete at the rescheduled event in 2021.”

Scott & Guy React As Zoom Workout Is Hacked And Referred To Police

World champions Duncan Scott and James Guy have reacted angrily after a Scottish Swimming Zoom workout was hacked and the audience subjected to “disturbing content”.

Around 300 people saw the clips with the incident referred to the cyber-crime police unit.

Scott, who anchored the British 4×100 medley relay squad to an astonishing victory at last year’s World Championships with the second-fastest split in history, said on social media:

“I am in disgust Pouting face Our open invite WOD cancelled due to a sick individual. I am sorry for what everyone and more importantly what the kids that were apart of the WOD had to see!!”

Guy, who swam the butterfly leg before handing over to Scott  in Gwangju, South Korea, added:

“Absolutely disgusted with what happened on @ScottishSwim  zoom yesterday.”

Scottish Swimming released a statement which read:

“Scottish Swimming sincerely apologises for the incident that happened this morning (Tuesday 14 April) during an organised Zoom event, where the aquatics community were invited to work out alongside our performance athletes.

“At the end of last week we shared information about the workout across our social media platforms, asking those interested in participating to log into a link that was shared publicly this morning. Unfortunately the link was ‘Zoom-bombed’ with disturbing content shared with circa 300 people that had signed in to the event. The video was immediately shut down and the incident referred to the police and their cyber-crime unit. We apologise to everyone involved and deeply regret the outcome of today’s event.

“Scottish Swimming will continue to support and engage with our aquatic community during this time in isolation and have started a full review of the process undertaken today along with consideration of security measures across all platforms, in order to put in place measures to prevent any further incidents of this nature happening again.

“At a time when the aquatics community was pulling together and supporting one another so positively, it is very upsetting to have a minority cause upset and distress during the lockdown.”

Tuesday April 14

Isolated Minna Atherton stopped in her strokes by life saving golden retriever

Training in isolation is throwing up all kinds of crazy training options from swimmers world wide and in Australia, especially along the vast coastal outlets – there is no shortage of water – from the surf, to lakes, to creeks and backyard and hotel pools where harness swimming is “all the rage.”

And sometimes there can be over-enthusiastic on- lookers, who just want to be part of the action, dog-gone it!

As Brisbane Grammar and Bond University scholarship holder and world short course record holder and World Championship silver medallist Minna Atherton found out when her golden retriever decided it was time to play lifeguard and take the plunge to save star backstroker, Minna. An instagram and Facebook post that is going viral.

A whole lot of fun that now awaits our swimmers’ imaginations when our pools are shut as they battle to replace their regular routines.

Rio Olympic breaststroke finalist Taylor McKeown has taken to the Gold Coast lakes to replicate her normal Saturday morning “quality” set – trying to create the same burn sensation with some aerobic pace laps.

She jumped into her nearby lake followed by a set of gut wrenching ins-and-outs – a traditional “surf set” done by local ironmen and ironwomen, saying “….can confirm…I’m dead.”

While in Sydney, triple Olympic sprint queen Cate Campbell invites the world into her own backyard for an insight into what her gym routine really looks like and why? Check out what Cate gets up to with her set of chin-ups and some quirky head stretching as she contemplates an 18-month countdown to what she hopes will be a record equaling fourth Olympics,  joining breaststroke golden girl Leisel Jones. Will keep you posted on all things without a pool!

Tuesday April 14

Peaty Gives Away Signed Swimming Cap Following Coronavirus Fundraisers

Adam Peaty is marking what would have been day one of the British Olympic trials by giving away a signed racing cap.

Peaty would have been racing in the morning heats session and then – bar something incomprehensible – also in the evening finals at the Aquatics Centre in London only for the British Championships to be cancelled because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Briton will now have to wait another year to defend his 100m breaststroke crown in Tokyo and in the meantime has set about raising money for the National Health Service.

The eight-time world champion raised more than $16,000 by raffling off the suit he wore en-route to Olympic glory in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 as well as a further $5,000 on a sponsored static cycle ride.

Peaty posted on social media on Monday, saying:

*Competition Time* As I was meant to be racing at the Olympic Trials tomorrow I am going to be giving away a signed racing cap. All you have to do to enter is follow @apraceplus

“The winner will be drawn on that page at 7pm tomorrow night. Good luck!”

Monday, April 13

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will face “several hundred million dollars” of added costs because of the postponement of the Tokyo Games, the organisation’s president, Thomas Bach, tells German newspaper Die Welt.

Estimates in Japan put the overall cost of the postponement at $2 billion-$6 billion. Except for the IOC portion, all added costs will be borne by the Japanese side according to an agreement signed in 2013 when Tokyo was awarded the Olympics.

Bach said it was “impossible to say for now” the extent of the added costs for the IOC caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We agreed with the prime minister that Japan will continue to cover the costs it would have done under the terms of the existing agreement for 2020, and the IOC will continue to be responsible for its share of the costs,” Bach said. “For us, the IOC, it is already clear that we shall be faced with several hundred million dollars of additional costs.”

Before the postponement, Japanese organizers put the official cost of the games at $12.6 billion. However, a government audit report in 2019 said the costs were at least twice that. All but $5.6 billion of it is in taxpayer money.

Tokyo said the 2020 Games would cost about $7.3 billion when it won the bid seven years ago.

On Friday, the CEO of the Tokyo organizing committee said the pandemic left some doubts about the Games going ahead next year.


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