The Week That Was: Doping Ruling Reversal Rocks The Swimming World

Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya

This week was full of news that will have a big impact on the coming weeks and months, including the release of NCAA Championship standards, an Olympic favorite parsing his schedule, and a controversial doping charge being reversed. Read about those stories and more below in this week’s edition of The Week That Was!

The Week That Was #5 – Division I, II, and III Qualifying Standards Released

ncaa-logo-underwater

Photo Courtesy: Cathleen Pruden

This week the the NCAA released the cut times for the 2016-2017 NCAA Championships for each Division. While coaches and swimmers will surely dissect these standards in the coming weeks and months, one thing from the new cuts was glaringly obvious: college swimming keeps getting faster. While the ‘B’ cuts for men and women remained the same in Division I, all of the men’s A cuts got faster, while the women saw 13 of the possible 18 ‘A’ cuts get faster. In Division II, all 19 of the men’s cuts (either A, B, or both) will be faster for the 2016-2017 season, while 17 of the 19 women’s cuts are faster. For the Division III Championships, all ‘B’ cut times were faster except for only the men’s 400 IM and 1,650 ‘B’ cuts and the women’s 200 backstroke, 400 IM, and 1,650 ‘B’ cuts. Check out the links below to see the updated time standards for each division.

DI Times Standards

DII Times Standards

DIII Times Standards

The Week That Was #4 – Miereia Belmonte Highlights 2016 Spanish Open

Mireia Belmonte Garcia Doha 2014

Photo Courtesy: FINA Doha 2014

The 2016 Spanish Summer Open took place this week, with double Olympic silver medalist from 2012 Miereia Belmonte highlighting the competition. Belmonte took four wins across the three day competition, coming out on top in the 800 freestyle (8:24.77), 200 butterfly (2:07.27), 400 IM (4:36.89), and 400 freestyle (4:05.57) throughout the meet. The incredibly versatile swimmer has had an interesting 2016. While she had a strong meet in March in her traditional events, she competed only in distance freestyle at the European Championships in May, taking silver in the 1,500 free and bronze in the 400 free. Belmonte’s highest world ranking for this year is the 400 IM, where the Spanish swimmer currently sits third with a 4:33.42 from her swim at the March edition of the Spanish Open. She is also currently fourth in the world in the 200 butterfly (2:06.34) from the same meet, which is the most wide open event internationally in her program and the best chance she may have for gold in Rio.

The Week That Was #3 – FINA Issues Statement Regarding Russian Doping Allegations

Russia Doping System

Late this week FINA released a statement that reflected the organization’s “concern” over what they have deemed premature calls to ban Russian athletes from competing in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. A New York Times article released this week reported that doping officials and athletes from several nations are planning to request that Russian athletes be barred from the competition. The evidence they cite is the McClaren Report, which is a document that is expected to be released shortly that details Russia’s alleged state run doping program. FINA’s concern comes from the fact that the McClaren Report has yet to be released and is an independent and confidential document. Announcing their concern through a formal press release, FINA stated that “Such breaches of confidentiality and the perception of a breach of independence of the report undermine its credibility.” Russia’s track and field athletes are already banned from the 2016 Olympics. You can read FINA’s full statement on the allegations here.

The Week That Was

The Week That Was #2 – Cameron McEvoy Elects To Drop 200 Free From Rio Program

mcevoy-aus-grand-prix-2016

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr / Swimming Australia Ltd.

This week one of the biggest anticipated stars of the 2016 Rio Olympics, Australian Cam McEvoy, announced that he would be dropping the 200 freestyle from his Olympic program. The 22 year old Australian sprinter reportedly made the decision after months of thought and consultation with his coach, Richard Scarce, and the Aussie National Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren, citing concerns it would effect his individual 100 freestyle as well as the 4 x 100 freestyle relay. McEvoy is currently ranked sixth in the world in the 200 freestyle with a 1:45.63.

Had he kept the 200 freestyle in his program, McEvoy would have had a chance at being the first Australian to win six Olympic medals in a single Olympic Games. McEvoy was the first swimmer in Australian Swimming history to win the 50, 100, and 200 meter freestyles at Australian Trials back in April, where he also recorded the fastest ever textile 100 freestyle. With 5 events still in his program, he does have a chance to tie legends Ian Thorpe, Shane Gould, and Alicia Coutts haul of 5 medals from a single Games. David McKeon, who finished third behind McEvoy and Thomas Fraser-Holmes in the 200 freestyle at Trials, will pick up McEvoy’s individual spot.

The Week That Was #1 – Efimova Cleared To Compete In Rio

FINA World Championships Yuliya Efimova

Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya

In a controversial move that was noticed throughout the international swim community, FINA announced this week that Russian breaststroker Yuliya Efimova has been cleared to compete at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Efimova was initially provisionally suspended for a positive test of meldonium, but that was lifted back in May. While Russia was still able to list her on their Olympic roster (despite her inability to compete at Russian Trials), her status on that roster was pending FINA’s decision regarding her eligibility for Rio. The 24 year old made her return to competition late last week at the Los Angeles Invite, winning both the 100 (1:06.30) and 200 (2:22.77) breaststrokes.

Efimova has previously served a 16-month doping sentence for a positive test for DHEA steroids. The Russian will enter the Olympics as the reigning World Champion in the 100 breast and sitting second in the world this year in both the 100 (1:05.70) and 200 breaststrokes (2:21.41), times she swam at the Orlando Arena Pro Meet in March.

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Author: James Sica

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James Sica is the Men and Women's Assistant Coach at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been an assistant coach at CMU in Pittsburgh, PA (2015-2017), a volunteer assistant coach with the Harvard women’s program (2014-2015) and an assistant with the Ithaca College men's program (2012-2014).

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