The Week That Was: ISL’s Lifeline To 320 Swimmers; Corona Woe For Kapas & Co

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a lot of uncertainty moving forward over the status of a lot of swimmer’s careers. Will anyone be forced to retire or will they try to stick out another year in pursuit of their dreams? Konstantin Grigorishin and the International Swimming League announced last week a Solidarity Program which would give a monthly stipend to all 300+ swimmers in the league at least $1500 per month for 10 months between September and July next year to tide them over a time of challenge.

In other coronavirus news, Hungarian World Champion Boglarka Kapas came forward to announce she had tested positive for the virus but has not experienced any visible symptoms. Kapas was one of a slew of positive tests out of Hungary that included Dominik KozmaDavid Horvath and Richard Bohus.

Read below the five biggest stories in the Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

The Week That Was #5: Swimming Community Helping Jenny Thompson Raise Money For Fight Against Coronavirus

Jenny Thompson

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Matthew De George

In a swimming career that took her to four Olympic Games, Jenny Thompson was known as one of the world’s best relay swimmers. In her second career, it’s former teammates that are helping her.

Thompson works as an anesthesiologist at a hospital in Charleston, S.C. When she grew concerned about a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic, former swimming teammates Gabrielle Rose and Lea Maurer stepped up to help.

Through a GoFundMe page titled, “Go Jenny Go,” the group was able to raise more than $9,000, enough to secure PPE for Thompson and her staff and make a $1,000 donation to New York City healthcare workers battling one of the biggest COVID-19 outbreaks in the country.

#4: CSCAA Opposes Extra Year of Eligibility For Winter Sports Seniors

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Dan D’Addona

The College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association (CSCAA) has issued a statement about the eligibility issue in question after winter sports saw their seasons end prematurely because of the coronavrius pandemic.

The NCAA has announced that since the spring sports seasons were canceled altogether, that there would be an extra year of eligibility given to those spring athletes. Some winter athletes who have missed out on their championships or NCAA tournaments have come forward and asked the NCAA to consider granting the same for winter athletes.

It is a situation that could affect scholarship numbers, team sizes and other issues — reasons that the CSCAA does not support extra eligibility years for winter sports.

The Week That Was #3: Olympic Champion Bruce Furniss Suffers Severe Heart Attack

Bruce Furniss

Photo Courtesy: Swimming World Archive

By Matthew De George

Olympic gold medalist and swimming hall of famer Bruce Furniss has been hospitalized after suffering a severe heart attack Monday, according to his family.

Furniss remains in intensive care in his native California. His family has set up an account via Caring Bridge to offer updates on his condition and share support with loved ones.

Furniss’ family also released a statement:

“First, we want you to know how much we appreciate your support and prayers, particularly, in such an unprecedented time of crisis for so families across our country.  Our hearts go out to any family who has a loved one in ICU with whom they cannot visit or even gather as a family to support.  It is something difficult to fathom at a time when families need to be together to support one another.

“The outpouring of concern and prayers for Bruce, from his many friends, is testimony to how much he is loved.  One positive new development is that the hospital agreed to allow Bruce’s wife, Sharon, to be with him briefly once they bring him out of a medically induced hypothermia.  Sharon is an incredibly strong person and sometime today or tomorrow she will be able to hold his hand for all of us.”

#2: World Champion Boglarka Kapas Announces Positive Test For Coronavirus

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Photo Courtesy: PATRICK B. KRAEMER

By Liz Byrnes, European Correspondent

Boglarka Kapas, who won bronze in the 800m freestyle at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, has announced she has tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Hungarian, who also won gold in the 200m butterfly at last year’s World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, revealed the news on social media before admitting to experiencing a spectrum of emotions on finding out she had tested positive.

In an interview with the National Sport (NS) website, Kapas said:

“I cried to myself … I found out on Monday morning that my test was positive, and after hearing about (how) the epidemic is everywhere and all about us, of course you feel very scared!

“That’s so even if I have no symptoms – and I have none. By the end of the day, I’d collected my thoughts and thought, right, I need to tell my fans, those who cheered me on.”

Hungarian swimming is bracing itself for more positive coronavirus-COVID-19 tests after Kapas, Dominik Kozma, David Horvath and Richard Bohus tested positive following training camps with teammates.

The Hungarian swimming federation arranged virus checks for all members of the national squad wishing to continue to have access to pools, at home or on overseas camps. Kapas and Kozma had been on training camps overseas, Kapas in Thailand, Kozma and Bohus in Turkey.

Five others cases are yet to be named, while Kozma told national media that swimmers were tested four days apart and “dozens” who returned a negative test on the first date subsequently tested positive on the second date with testers.

None of the swimmers have shown any symptoms of COVID-19 but they could develop them, while the importance of placing them in quarantine is clear: even if they do not become ill themselves, they can still infect others.

The virus has an incubation period of up to 14 days. The swimmers have all been home in Hungary since March 13.

The Week That Was #1: ISL Announces Solidarity Program, Will Fund All 300+ League Swimmers Monthly

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Craig Lord, Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

The International Swimming League (ISL) threw a lifeline to swimmers facing uncertainty and even the prospect of forced retirement from the sport due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a letter sent to the 320 athletes, their coaches and managers at the 10 ISL teams, the League, founded and funded by businessman Konstantin Grigorishin, announces a Solidarity Program in which each swimmer will receive a guaranteed $1500 wage for 10 months between September and July next year to tide them over a time of challenge.

Grigorishin told Swimming World that the measure is designed to help “save the sport … prevent premature retirements”.

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