The Week That Was: Australian ABC to Not Air Olympics on Radio For First Time Since 1952

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For the first time since 1952, Australians will not be able to listen to the Olympics on radio. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The Week That Was: Coaching Changes and ABC’s (Australia) decision to pull the plug on radio broadcasts during the 2020 Olympics dominate the headlines. There were a few big meets around the world as the FINA World Cup concluded in Doha with Cate Campbell and Vladimir Morozov taking home the overall prizes. On the other side of the world, the first TYR Pro Series started in Greensboro, North Carolina with Katie LedeckySimone Manuel and Luca Urlando taking wins in their first long course meets of the year.

Read the five biggest stories below in the week that was.

The Week That Was #5: Katie Ledecky Starts Off Long Course Season With 8:14 800

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By John Lohn, Swimming World Associate-Editor-in-Chief

As the first stop of this season’s TYR Pro Swim Series wrapped up on Saturday night, Ledecky painted another of her superb portraits, covering her latest 800 freestyle in 8:14.95. That time, while 10 seconds off her world record of 8:04.79, sits just outside the top-25 marks of all-time. More, Ledecky is just one of four women to ever crack the 8:15 barrier, and she routinely achieves that feat during these in-season competitions.

Competing in her first meet of the Olympic tuneup season, Ledecky complemented earlier victories in the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle and served noticed that she is headed into 2020 with some momentum. That the five-time Olympic champion is in good form is in stark contrast to how she concluded her summer, when an ill-timed sickness sapped her energy and disrupted her performances at the World Championships.

#4: Bruno Fratus, Brandonn Almeida Make Coaching Changes Ahead of 2020

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Craig Lord, Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

Two of Brazil’s top swimmers, sprinter Bruno Fratus and all-rounder Brandonn Almeida, have made coaching changes less than a year out from the Tokyo2020 Olympic Games.

Fratus’ switch is subtle: his on-off coaching relationship with Australia Brett Hawke is reported to be off. The 50m ace will continue to work in Coral Springs under the watchful eye of his wife Michelle Lenhardt, who had been working with Hawke’s programs.

According to Best Swimming’s Alex Pussieldi, Hawke will no longer be setting the schedule remotely nor popping in for coaching sessions from time to time. Fratus and Hawke worked together on the sprinter’s Rio 2016 campaign and, after a post-home-Olympic break, Fratus turned to the Australian once more in February 2018.

Meanwhile, Almeida leaves the Corinthians Club he has been a member of for 14 years since boyhood in pursuit of a new adventure with SESI-SP. The move takes Almeida back to coach Carlos Henrique Matheus, who guided the medley man during his years of growth to best career result so far, 2012-2017.

The Week That Was #3: 2019 Worlds Silver Medalist Hali Flickinger Makes Training Change to Arizona State

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

By Dan D’Addona

For the first time in her professional career, Hali Flickinger is swimming for a new club. After training with the Athens Bulldog Swim Club since graduating from Georgia in 2016, Flickinger has moved west, joining the post-grad program at Arizona State with coach Bob Bowman and will be training alongside another former Bulldog in Allison Schmitt.

Flickinger confirmed the move with Swimming World.

“I am training at ASU under Bob Bowman,” Flickinger said. “I am very excited and happy for this new chapter. I am already in love with my new home.”

#2: George Breen Passes Away After Battle With Cancer

Breen in 2014; Photo Courtesy: Swimming World

By John Lohn, Swimming World Co-Editor-in-Chief

George Breen, a four-time Olympic medalist between the 1956 Games in Melbourne and the 1960 Games in Rome, died on Nov. 9 after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 84. Breen is considered one of the finest distance freestylers in the history of United States Swimming and was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1975.

The Week That Was #1: Australian ABC Pulls Plug On Olympic Live Radio Broadcasts For Tokyo 2020

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Cate Campbell, Emma McKeon, Matthew Wilson, Mitch Larkin will go for the first ever mixed medley relay gold next summer. But Australians will not be able to listen on radio for budgetary reasons. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

By Craig Lord, Swimming World Editor-in-chief

Video may have killed the radio star, as the song goes, but live broadcasts for the ear have been a part of Olympic Games coverage in Australia since it hosted the biggest multi-sports event in history in Melbourne back in 1956.

If a decision by Australian ABC to pull the plug on Olympic broadcasts for Tokyo 2020 stands, there will be live-radio silence Down Under from a Games for the first time since 1952.

That means that any Aussie out working, in their car and going about their daily lives on the day Kyle Chalmers may stand up to defend the 100m freestyle crown and take a shot at being the first Australian to keep what is considered by some to be the blue-riband swim title, will not be able to hear the race and commentary of the moment as it unfolds. 2020.

Tokyo finals are in the morning to suit NBC, the U.S. television rights holder that trumps all others in the Olympic realm of financial contribution. For east coast Australians, they might have a lucky lunchtime window for the 100m free final and a chance to catch the live on others channels.

Those out and about – especially in remote areas that will not have access to the live commercial radio likely to be tuned in but unlikely to be truly national and broadcasting well shy of the reach of ABC – will be deaf to it all.