The Week That Was: Marculescu Steps Down, Swimming Australia Reveals Backup Plan For Olympics

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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Long-time FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu stepped down last week after 35 years at the helm. Swimming Australia also revealed its back-up plan for the Olympics if the Trials cannot happen, while British Swimming announced its trials were limiting its number of athletes.

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

The Week That Was #1: Cornel Marculescu Steps Down as FINA Executive Director

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Photo Courtesy: Maria Dobysheva

By Matthew De George

Cornel Marculescu, FINA’s executive director for the last 35 years, announced his resignation Wednesday at the first FINA Bureau meeting of 2021.

The resignation is effective immediately. Marcela Saxlund Medvedev, previously FINA’s deputy executive director, has been nominated to fill Marculescu’s role on an interim basis. Pedro Adrega has been elevated to Medvedev’s assistant, having previously headed FINA’s communications department.

From FINA’s official statement:

The FINA Bureau members recognized the outstanding devotion and role of Mr Marculescu in the development of Aquatics in the five continents, contributing to make our Sport a pillar of the Olympic Movement.

#2: Swimming Australia Reveals Backup Plan & Insurance Swims For Olympic Trials

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

By Ian Hanson

Swimming Australia (SAL) announced a range of scenarios if a COVID lockdown and border closures disrupts its June Olympic Trials in Adelaide.

Regardless, it will almost certainly see the Western Australian Tokyo hopefuls take no risks and they are looking to relocate to Queensland with the policy also highlighting provision for an “extenuating circumstances” clause to help protect the likes of injured world champion Ariarne Titmus.

High Performance Strategist, two-time Olympic champion and former Queensland Swimming and QAS boss Alex Baumann, outlined the options, after discussions with the Australian Olympic Committee, Swimming’s High Performance Committee, the SAL Board, the athlete leaders and coaches.

The scenarios will ensure that Australia’s prospective Olympians will treat next month’s Australian Swimming Championships on the Gold Coast (April 14-18) as a “mini Trials” – looking to lock in insurance swims they just might need in a lockdown.

“The first scenario is that Trials goes ahead and we can nominate the team as per original criteria on June 17,” said Baumann, who has been developing the scenarios for the past month-and-a-half.

“The second scenario is that Trials go ahead but we have some restrictions in States and some athletes can’t actually get (to Adelaide).

“In that instance we have announced a number of primary competitions, (Designated Consideration Meets), where athletes can also qualify, being the Australian Swimming Championships on the Gold Coast (14-18 April) and the Sydney Open (13-16 May).

“In all those scenarios the qualifying standard (remains) as the top eight in the world (at 2019 World Championships).

“The third scenario is we don’t have any Trials and if the Australian Swimming Championships and the Sydney Open are also cancelled we will (rely on a series of) Secondary Consideration Meets. (which include Australia’s various State Championships).

“The standard would be the ‘FINA A’ standard which is slightly slower than the top eight times which would be (closer to) top 12 or 14 although some are much the same.

“We hope we don’t have to go to scenario two or scenario three but we have to plan for it and it has been on the drawing board for a month-and-half now.”

The Week That Was #3: British Olympic Trials to go Forward With Reduced Numbers

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

By Liz Byrnes

The 2021 British Swimming Championships will go ahead in April as the British Swimming Selection Trials with reduced numbers and a focus on senior selection to international competition including the Tokyo Olympic Games and the European Championships.

The announcement followed the roadmap unveiled by Boris Johnson on 22 February which is a four-stage route out of lockdown in England.

The meet at the London Aquatics Centre has been reduced in length by one day and will run from Wednesday 14 to Sunday 18 April with the junior-specific element removed and numbers limited.

No date or host city has been announced for the World Junior Championships while the European junior showcase is scheduled for 6-11 July but no host has been announced.

Only Olympic events will be contested while the 800 and 1500 frees will be heat declared winners.

Adam Peaty, Luke Greenbank, James Wilby and Duncan Scott have all been pre-selected to Team GB for Tokyo.

#4: Cal Men Take Pac-12 Title on Near Sweep

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Dave Durden; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By John Lohn

From the opening day of the meet through its conclusion, Cal looked sensational in collecting its latest Pac-12 Conference championship. From senior Ryan Hoffer to freshman Destin Lasco, the Bears received contributions from throughout their lineup and looked every bit prepared to make a run at the NCAA title later this month. The final tally had Cal winning 17 of the 18 events contested and scoring 970 points, well ahead of the 788 by Stanford.

The Week That Was #5: Yang Junxuan Swims World Leading 200 Freestyle

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Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya

By John Lohn

During the second day of finals at the Chinese Swim Series, Yang Junxuan established an Asian record in the women’s 200-meter freestyle, thanks to a performance of 1:54.70. The time, reported by the Chinese Swimming News and Results Twitter feed, erased the previous record of 1:54.85, set in 2018 by Japan’s Rikako Ikee. There was a sign Yang might break the record after recording a prelim swim of 1:55.05.

Yang’s previous best was a 1:54.98 in January 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to racing for the better part of a year and forced the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics from last summer to this summer.

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