The Week That Was: Ashley Twichell, Jordan Wilimovsky Among World Qualifiers At 2019 US Open Water Nationals

Jordan Wilimovsky at 2016 Rio Olympics, Photo Courtesy: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports

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The first step in qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games took place this week, with the selections for the U.S. Open Water World Championship team in Miami, Florida. Jordan Wilimovsky and Ashley Twichell were among those who made it one step closer to qualifying for Tokyo in 2020 and the top 5 most notable stories of the week below.

The Week That Was #5 – Coley Stickels Named New Alabama Head Coach

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

Indiana Associate Head Coach Coley Stickels has been hired as the University of Alabama’s next Head Coach for Swimming & Diving, as announced by Director of Athletics Greg Byrne. Stickels had tremendous success in his two years with the Hoosiers, guiding the men’s team to back-to-back top-3 NCAA finishes and the first ever sweep of the Big Ten team titles for the men and women in 2019. Prior to joining Indiana, Stickels was the head coach of Canyons Aquatic Club in Santa Clarita, California for five years and mentored high schooler Abbey Weitzeil to two Olympic medals and an American record performance in the 50-yard freestyle that she broke this season. The Alabama position is one of the first major coaching positions to be filled this spring, as several high profile jobs assistant and head coach jobs have been vacated in the last few weeks.

The Week That Was #4 – Lilly King Wins 2019 Honda Sport Award For Swimming & Diving


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Indiana senior and Olympic gold medalist Lilly King was named the 2019 Honda Sport Award Winner for Swimming & Diving this week, as announced by the Collegiate Women Sports Award (CWSA) today. The Honda Sport Award is presented to the best female swimmer or diver of the college season, and makes King eligible for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year award and the 2019 Honda Cup. King will go up against the 11 other NCAA sport award winner’s for those awards, which will be presented on a live telecast on CBS Sports Network June 24, 2019, at 6 pm PST in downtown Los Angeles. NCAA swimmers have had a solid streak with the Honda Cup in the last four years, as Missy Franklin (2015), Katie Ledecky (2017), and Simone Manuel (2018) have all won the award. You can read the full press release on King’s win here.

The Week That Was #3 – Multiple Chinese Swimmers Including Sun Yang Out Of FINA Champions Swim Series


Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

A number of prominent Chinese swimmers, including Sun Yang and Fu Yuanhui, have pulled out of the remaining two stops of the FINA Champions Swim Series. Sun and Fu, who were double event winners in the first stop of the series, are now absent from the updated start lists for the upcoming competition in Budapest, Hungary (May 11-12). All Chinese swimmers appear to have pulled out of the third and final stop in Indianapolis, Indiana (May 31-June 1). China had a strong presence at the opening stop in Guangzhou, winning 10 events and posting a couple world-leading times courtesy of Sun Yang’s 400 free (3:42.75) and Ye Shiwen in the 200 breast (2:22.53). Xu Jiayu (100/200 back), Wang Shun (200 IM), Lu Bingjie (200/400 free), and Wang Jianjiahe (400 free) are all still set to compete at the second stop of the series in Budapest. You can see all the results from the first stop of the 2019 FINA Champions Swim Series here.

The Week That Was #2 – Maxime Rooney To Transfer To Texas


Photo Courtesy: Maxime Rooney

Maxime Rooney has announced his decision to transfer to Texas for his senior season following his announcement last week that he would be leaving Florida. Rooney recently finished his junior season at Florida where he finished fourth in the 100 fly, 18th in the 100 free, and 30th in the 200 fly. He was also the SEC Champion in the 100 fly, and was runner-up in the 200 fly and third in the 100 free. This will be a huge pickup for the Longhorns, who are losing a decorated senior class that includes Townley Haas, John Shebat, Jeff Newkirk, and Tate Jackson. Texas was second at NCAA’s this year after winning four straight team titles.

The Week That Was #1 – Twichell, Wilimovsky Among World Qualifiers At 2019 US Open Water Nationals


Photo Courtesy: Andy Ross

This weekend was the 2019 US Open Water Nationals and Junior Nationals, which will serve as the official qualification for US swimmers for the World Championships this summer. The top ten finishers in the 10K at this summer’s World Championships will automatically qualify for the Olympic Games in 2020. In the women’s events, Ashley Twichell (5K, 10K), Hannah Moore (5K), and Haley Anderson (10K) all finished in the top two to earn spots on the World Championship roster. Zane Grothe was the top American in the 5K, but gave up his spot for sixth place Michael Brinegar to take his spot. Brennan Gravley also earned his first ever Worlds roster spot in the men’s 5K, while Jordan Wilimovsky (10K) and David Heron (10K) were the American qualifiers at Open Water Nationals. You can see all of the coverage, including video interviews, from the Nationals meet here.