The Week That Was: Katie Ledecky Announces Move to Gainesville, ISL Regular Season Concludes

Jul 28, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Katie Ledecky (USA) celebrates after winning the women's 1500m freestyle final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Katie Ledecky -- Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports

The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

This week, we learned that 10-time Olympic medalist Katie Ledecky will move her training base to Gainesville, Florida, and she will serve as a volunteer assistant coach for the swim teams as she prepares for the 2024 Olympic cycle while training with coaches Anthony Nesty and Steve Jungbluth and Olympic medalist teammates Bobby Finke and Kieran Smith. Additionally, Energy Standard and Aqua Centurions won the final two ISL regular season matches, and only the play-in match remains before a month break and then the playoffs in November.

Read the five biggest stories of the week in The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

The Week That Was #1: Katie Ledecky Joins University of Florida as Volunteer Assistant Coach; Will Train for 2024 in Gainesville

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Photo Courtesy: Katie Ledecky (via Twitter)

By Dan D’Addona

Seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky announced she has joined the Florida swimming and diving program as a volunteer swimming coach and will train for the 2024 Olympics in Gainesville with Florida head coach Anthony Nesty, who was an assistant coach for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics.

Florida confirmed the move.

Ledecky, who won two gold and two silver in Tokyo earlier this year, completed her degree at Stanford, where she trained under Greg Meehan.

“I’m excited to be a part of the University of Florida’s world-class swimming and diving program and train for the 2024 Olympics with Coach Anthony Nesty, and the top-tier mid-distance and distance training group,” Katie Ledecky said. “My years at Stanford, both academically and athletically, were nothing short of incredible and I’m looking forward to the opportunity and challenges that lie ahead in Gainesville.”

It was a tough move to leave Stanford and Meehan, Ledecky wrote: “Stanford has been my second home for the last five years. It will always have a special place in my heart. Having completed my college degree this year, I am moving east to be closer to home and family. My years at Stanford have been nothing short of incredible. I’m so grateful for my coach Greg Meehan, as well as my teammates, professors, friends and everyone in the larger Palo Alto/Menlo Park area who have supported me through these years.”

Nesty was thrilled with Ledecky’s decision.

“The knowledge and experience that Katie brings to the pool are unparalleled,” Nesty said. “In addition to her obvious excellence as a swimmer, Katie is an exceptional person who will make a great impact on the student-athletes here. Katie’s values are in total alignment with the Florida program, and we’re so excited to have her join the Gators as she continues to train for the 2024 Olympics.”

Meehan said he was thankful to be able to coach Ledecky at Stanford.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to coach Katie these past 5 years. Beyond the records, medals and championships is an amazing woman. Stanford is simply a better place and I’m a better coach because of Katie’s time here.  She’s become family,” Meehan said. “While we are sad to say goodbye, we are thrilled for Katie’s next journey.  Coach Nesty and I have talked quite a bit these past few weeks and I believe Gainesville is going to be a great fit for this next phase of Katie’s career.”

#2: Energy Standard, Aqua Centurions Win ISL Matches

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Evgeny Rylov — Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu/ISL

By Liz Byrnes

Match #9: Evgeny Rylov was MVP after a jackpot win in the skins as Energy Standard remain unbeaten this season with a dominant victory in the International Swimming League (ISL) Match 9 in Naples.

The Russian won the 200 back to add to his 100 victory and 50m third on day 1 before a skins win over Guilherme Guido that was so dominant that he jackpotted the London Roar swimmer to take 21 points in the final and 37 overall.

Ilya Shymanovich made it a clean sweep of the breaststroke with victory in the 100 to add to the 50 and 200 on day 1 and he also produced a thundering 55.6 split in the mixed medley relay.

Siobhan Haughey won the 100 and 200 free double with the trio occupying the top three slots of the MVP standings.

Duncan Scott took the 200 free and 400IM double for the Roar who won the women’s backstroke skins through Minna Atherton.

Energy, Roar and the Titans now move on to the playoffs in Eindhoven while DC Trident must finish in the top two of the wild-card meet to book their spot.

Match #10:

Aqua Centurions booked their place in the play-offs of the International Swimming League (ISL) as they claimed victory in Match 10 in Naples, Italy.

Aqua will join Cali Condors, Energy Standard, London Roar, Toronto Titans and LA Current in Eindhoven, Netherlands, next month.

Key to the outcome was their ability to close out tight races in contrast to Team Iron whose failure to do so was costly.

Iron will face DC Trident, Tokyo Frog Kings and New York Breakers on Wednesday and Thursday for the wild-card meet from which two teams will progress.

Daiya Seto was the MVP after winning the 200 fly and 400IM while Thom De Boer and Ranomi Kromowidjojo made it an Iron double in the skins.

The Week That Was #3: Impressive Swims Highlight Chinese National Games

Jul 28, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Wang Shun (CHN) in the men's 200m individual medley heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Wang Shun — Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports

By John Lohn

Nearly two months after helping China to the gold medal and a world record in the 800-meter freestyle relay at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Tang Muhan and Yang Juanxuan engaged in a stellar battle in the 200 freestyle at the Chinese National Games. At the touch, it was Tang who secured victory, her mark of 1:54.26 establishing a national record.

Tang needed that sterling performance to hold off Yang, who came through with a mark of 1:54.48. At the Tokyo Games, Yang and Tang handled the opening legs of China’s triumphant 800 free relay, teaming with Zhang Yufei and Li Bingjie for a world record of 7:40.33. At the Chinese National Games, they were not far off the Asian record of 1:53.92, held by Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey.

The next few days produced quick performances, headlined by Olympic champion Wang Shun in his primary event. The third-fastest performer in the history of the event, Wang hit the wall in 1:56.33 to finish more than two seconds ahead of his closest pursuer, Qin Haiyang (1:58.63).

Wang is coming off a career-defining showing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where he went 1:55.00 in the 200 medley to fend off Great Britain’s Duncan Scott. That effort moved the Chinese star to No. 3 all-time, trailing only Americans Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps.

The women’s 800 freestyle went to Li Bingjie, who checked in with a performance of 8:17.39. Tenth and out of the final at the Olympics, Li posted a time on home soil that would have earned the bronze medal during the summer. In the 100 freestyle, Yang Junxuan went 53.42 for the title. Meanwhile, Xu Jiayu (1:56.89) and Yu Jingyao (2:22.61) earned respective wins in the men’s 200 backstroke and women’s 200 breaststroke.

In the women’s 200 butterfly, Olympic champion Zhang Yufei had no trouble prevailing in her prime event. Zhang checked in with a swim of 2:05.84, which supplied a comfortable margin over runnerup Zhu Jiaming (2:07.24). A down-to-the-wire duel emerged in the men’s 100 freestyle, where He Junyi narrowly claimed victory in a time of 48.51. He was followed to the wall by Yang Jintong (48.55) and Pan Zhanle (48.59).

On the final day, Liu Xiang ventured into exclusive territory in the 50-meter freestyle. En route to the gold medal, Liu clocked a time of 23.97 to establish an Asian record in the one-lap sprint. She bettered her own record, which was 24.03. She was followed to the wall by Zhang Yufei in 24.29.

While Liu has produced quick performances in the past, she was not part of the sprint event at the recent Olympic Games in Tokyo. Yet, she clearly took advantage of her opportunity on home soil, where Cheng Yujie was also strong with an effort of 24.41.

Speed was also on display in the men’s 50 freestyle, which was won by Yu Hexin in a Chinese record of 21.68. Yu was the only swimmer to crack the 22-second barrier, as Wang Changhao was the runnerup in 22.06. Yu was considerably faster than the 22.14 mark he produced at the Olympics, which was good for a tie for 19th place.

#4: Shaine Casas to Turn Pro and Train at Texas with Eddie Reese

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Shaine Casas — Photo Courtesy: NCAA Media

By David Rieder

Weeks after we learned that Shaine Casas will be leaving his training base at Texas A&M and relocating to the University of TexasSwimming World has learned more information on Casas’ future plans. The 21-year-old from McAllen, Texas, will not be using any of his remaining college eligibility with the Longhorns, and instead, he will be turning professional while training with Texas men’s coach Eddie Reese.

Sources told Swimming World that the move has been in development for several weeks.

Reese spoke highly of Casas and his potential. He told Swimming World, “I really believe he’s one of the best swimmers in the world in a couple things, and I’m looking forward to the time when he shows it.”

At last season’s NCAAs, Casas missed Ryan Murphy’s American record in the 200 back by just two hundredths with his 1:35.75, and he ranks second all-time in that event. In short course yards, Casas also ranks third all-time in the 200 IM (1:38.95), fourth in the 100 back (43.87) and sixth in the 200 fly (1:38.69). In long course, Casas won U.S. National titles in the 100 and 200 back in 2019, and he was expected to contend for spots on the Olympic team this year.

At the Olympic Trials, Casas ended up finishing third in the 100 back, 0.28 behind runner-up Hunter Armstrong and sixth in the 200 back. He was just off his lifetime best in the 100 back but almost two seconds off in the 200 back. Casas will surely have his sights set much higher in coming years as he leaves college swimming behind to focus on his professional career at Texas.

The Week That Was #5: Mark Schubert Steps Down as Head Coach at Mission Viejo Nadadores

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Mark Schubert — Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

By Matthew De George

Mark Schubert has been through the drill nearly a dozen times, perhaps more than any coach in swimming history. When an Olympic cycle culminates, there’s a rest and a re-evaluation before committing to the next four years. There’s a regrouping to assess what the priorities are and where a coach of Schubert’s pedigree wants to be when the next Olympics convene.

At 72, Schubert felt that after this most recent and most unique Olympic cycle, the time was right to take a step back.

Schubert resigned on Thursday as the head coach of Mission Viejo Nadadores, the club at which he made his name in the 1970s as one of the world’s premier swim coaches and where he returned in 2016 to keep Mission Viejo atop the American swimming world.

“After the Olympics and with COVID and everything, it was a pretty hard couple of years,” Schubert told Swimming World. “We had a successful Trials, and I was proud of how the athletes did in the Olympics. And it just seemed like the right time to me.”

Schubert is looking to spend more time with his wife, Joke, and his grandchildren. He didn’t close the door on ever coaching again, however, saying, “I don’t know what opportunities may come up, but I’m always open to opportunity, and you never know.”

#6: Elizabeth Beisel Completes Block Island Swim, Raises More than $130,000 for Cancer Research

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Elizabeth Beisel — Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

By Matthew De George

Olympic swimmer Elizabeth Beisel on Saturday became the first woman to swim to Block Island, a 10.4-mile trip. The Block Cancer swim, done in memory of her late father, has raised more than $130,000 for cancer research and awareness via a partnership with Swim Across America.

Beisel covered the distance in five hours and 19 minutes, departing from Matunuck beach just after 6 a.m. on Saturday. She was greeted on the island by her mother, Joannie, and brother Danny. A group of supporters awaited her at Ballad’s Beach Resort later in the day.

“I felt amazing the first three hours,” Beisel told the Providence Journal. “I was like, ‘Ah, this is cake.’ Then the current started to pick up. The swell started to pick up. There was a bit of a (riptide) coming into Block Island, and that’s kind of when I started to get discouraged and in my own head.”

The swim was twice postponed, first from Sept. 9 (due to hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean) and again last Wednesday. Conditions finally relented on the weekend for the attempt.

The 29-year-old Beisel is a native of Rhode Island. She won a silver medal in the women’s 400 individual medley and a bronze in the 200 backstroke at the 2012 London Olympics. The former University of Florida standout also swam at the 2008 and 2016 Olympics.

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