The Week That Was: McKeown Rattles 100 Back World Record; Curzan & Hwang Set World Junior Records

Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

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There were several fast swims this past weekend as the countdown to the US & Australian Olympic Trials intensifies and the field for Tokyo gets much clearer – and murkier in some events.

Australia’s Kaylee McKeown nearly broke the first world record of 2021 in the 100 backstroke while USA’s Claire Curzan and Korea’s Hwang Sunwoo set world junior records in the 50 and 200 freestyle respectively.

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

The Week That Was #1: Kaylee McKeown Rattles World Record in 100 Back


Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

By John Lohn

The Australian Olympic Trials might be a month away, but Kaylee McKeown is clearly ready for a summer of swift swimming.

Racing at the Sydney Open on Saturday morning, McKeown just missed the world record in the 100-meter backstroke when she covered her two laps in 57.63. That time is the second-fastest in history, and was just shy of the world record of 57.57, set in 2019 by Regan Smith. When Smith set that standard, it was on the leadoff leg of the United States’ gold-medal winning 400 medley relay at the World Championships.

After going 58.14 in the evening prelims on Friday night, McKeown proved morning finals are just fine with her, as she went out in 28.24 and came home in 29.39 for her Australian and Commonwealth record. McKeown and Smith appear headed for a major showdown at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, provided both women take care of their responsibilities at their respective Olympic Trials.

#2: Claire Curzan & Hwang Sunwoo Take Down World Junior Records


Claire Curzan; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By John Lohn & Matthew De George

Hwang Sun-Woo lowered his World Junior record in the men’s 200 freestyle Saturday at the Korean Swimming Trials.

Hwang clocked in at 1:44.96. It trounces the mark he set in November at 1:45.92.

It’s a historically quick time, one that would’ve won silver at the 2016 Olympics behind China’s Sun Yang and at the World Championships in 2017 and 2019, both behind Sun. The margin to gold at the last world championships was just .03 (1:44.93 was the winning time.) Hwang has come so far, so fast that he didn’t even qualify for those games in Gwanju. It’s the seventh-fastest time in the world, according to FINA’s rankings.

The time is also .16 off the national record, set at the 2010 Asian Games by four-time Olympic medalist Park Tae-Hwan.

“I was shocked that I finished in the 1:44 range,” Hwang told the Yonhap News Agency. “I felt my time would be pretty good because I had a good race. And once I saw the result on the board, I was pretty excited. I realized winning an Olympic medal won’t just be a pipe dream.”

Does Claire Curzan know anything but fast performances? Apparently not. Continuing a string of swift marks that have made her the most-exciting prospect on the American scene, Curzan was brilliant at the TAC Titans Spring Invitational on Friday night, as she secured first-place finishes in the 100-meter butterfly and 50 freestyle, the sprint free producing a world junior record.

She was phenomenal in the 50 freestyle, as her mark of 24.17 moved her to tied for 16th on the all-time performer list. Meanwhile, she moved to No. 3 on the U.S. performer list, trailing only Simone Manuel and Dara Torres. With her new personal best, Curzan bettered the world junior record of 24.33, set by Japan’s Rikako Ikee in 2017.

The Week That Was #3: Michael Andrew Throws Down 58.6 100 Breast in Indianapolis


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Andy Ross

After putting himself as the fastest American this year in the 100 breaststroke this morning, Michael Andrew followed that up with a near-American record on Thursday night of the TYR Pro Swim Series in Indianapolis. Andrew swam a 58.67 to just miss Kevin Cordes’ American record of 58.64 from 2017 as the time is faster than his morning swim of 58.8 that was the Pro Series meet record.

Andrew was out in 27.32 and back in a 31.35 as he is now ranked fourth in the world for 2021, jumping Ilya Shymanovich and James Wilby after he was sixth in the world this morning. The time is also a US Open record as Andrew took down Cordes’ 58.74 from the 2017 US nationals. Andrew has long been one of the rising stars in the sport of swimming, tearing up the national age group record books and turning professional at 14. Now at age 22, he is in prime position to make his first Olympic team and fulfill his legacy as a great age group swimmer with a potential spot in Tokyo.

#4: ISL Heads to Naples Bubble For Season 3

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Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu/ISL

By Liz Byrnes

Naples, Italy, will host the first five-week phase of ISL Season 3 to run from 26 August-30 September, the International Swimming League announced on Tuesday.

Ten clubs will compete at the Piscina Felice Scandone in Italy’s third-largest city in the south-west of the country in a strict safety-first set up similar to that of the ISL Season 2 bubble in Budapest in light of the COVID pandemic.

From there eight teams will qualify for the play-off phase to be held over three weeks in November and will compete for a place in the Grand Final which will take place at the end of December 2021 or early January 2022.

The ISL is finalising its host city selection process for the second and third phases “following talks with iconic destinations in Asia, Europe and North America.”

The havoc wreaked by the pandemic across the world has already resulted in a congested schedule in 2021/22 with the Olympics due to run from 23 July – 8 August.

Abu Dhabi plays host to the World Short-Course Championships in December with Fukuoka, Japan,  staging the World Championships from May 13-29 2022.

Then come the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England (28 July-8 August), the European Championships at the Foro Italico in Rome (11-21 August) and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, running from 10-25 September.

The Week That Was #5: Dale Neuberger Joins ISHOF Board of Directors


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Swimming World

The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) unanimously voted to bring Dale Neuburger onto its Board of Directors

Dale Neuburger is currently in his fifth term as Vice President of FINA, beginning his tenure on the FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) Bureau at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. He is currently the Treasurer for FINA.

“We are most excited to develop a closer relationship with Dale and FINA”, said Dr. Bill Kent – International Swimming Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board

“Dale’s international experience and deep understanding of the FINA Bureau will be a great asset to the International Swimming Hall of Fame and further ISHOF as an international entity.  Having a greater connection to FINA is only natural since FINA – the governing body for Olympic aquatic sports – designated the Hall of Fame museum as the “Official Repository for Aquatic History” back in 1968.” – Brent Rutemiller ISHOF President and CEO.

Since 2005, he has served as the Bureau Liaison to the FINA Technical Swimming Committee and Chairman of the FINA Technical Swimming Commission. Mr. Neuburger was appointed by FINA and the IOC to be the Technical Delegate for the swimming competition for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the 2012 London Olympic Games, and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. He is the Technical Delegate to the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021.

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