The Week That Was: Rikako Ikee Returns to Racing, Maddy Gough Moves in Top Ten All-Time in 1500 Free SCM

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Rikako Ikee lets the media take a peak at her return to practice ahead of a race return in August, pandemic allowing - Photo Courtesy: Kyodo News/Rikako Ikee

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There were a couple domestic swim meets that finished off the summer of 2020 as those in Japan and Australia got a taste of racing as they reset on the Olympic cycle for 2021. Notably, Rikako Ikee had her first meet back after she sat out 2019 to fight leukemia as she raced the 50 free in Tokyo. Australia’s Maddy Gough broke into the top ten all-time in the 1500 freestyle short course meters at a small domestic meet in Brisbane.

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

The Week That Was #1: Rikako Ikee Returns to Racing After Leukemia Battle

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Rikako Ikee lets the media take a peak at her return to practice ahead of a race return in August, pandemic allowing – Photo Courtesy: Kyodo News/Rikako Ikee

By Ian Hanson, Oceania Correspondent

A new chapter in the brave new swimming world of Japanese Olympian Rikako Ikee has begun in Tokyo tonight with a stunning comeback swim in a night of relief and tears, just 594 days since being diagnosed with leukemia.

The 20-year-old lined up in her first competitive race back during her remarkable recovery, in the women’s 50m freestyle. She clocked a time of 26.32 to win her heat, finishing an encouraging fifth overall in the Timed Final two-day event at Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Centre.

Ikee told Japanese reporters after her swim: “I feel like I’m starting a new chapter in my swimming career…it’s a good way to start.”

While Shintaro Kano reported on The Olympic Channel: “(With 15 metres left) I thought I might have a shot here and I just didn’t want to give in….As an athlete, I didn’t want to lose.”

Swimming in lane three in heat five, Ikee looked noticeably thinner than the rest of the field. But once she leapt off her block, the Rio 2016 Olympian looked surprisingly strong for someone who had not competed for over 19 months. Ikee took just one breath during the race and touched the wall first, 0.44 faster than runner-up Onoda Aoi.

After climbing out of the pool, Ikee took a bow and shed tears of mixed emotions.

“More than my time, I didn’t think I’d finish first. That made me happier than anything,” she said.

#2: Maddy Gough Breaks Australian Record in 1500 SCM Freestyle

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

By Ian Hanson, Oceania Correspondent

Gold Coast Olympic hopeful Maddy Gough has gatecrashed her way into the World All-Time Top Ten for 1500m at the 2020 Speedo Short Course Preparation Meet at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre.

The 21-year-old clocked the eighth fastest time in history with her new Australian and Australian All-Comers record time of 15:38.01 (2:04.72; 4:11.14; 8:22.51) in a two horse race with TSS Aquatic training partner Moesha Johnson who clocked her own personal best time of 15:57.19 (2:05.23; 4:12.00; 8:26.40).

Gough’s time takes five seconds off Olympian Jess Ashwood’s 2015 Australian record of 15:43.83.

It was an eye-catching return to competition for the former Coffs Harbour swimmer who left the NSW North Coast town to pursue her Olympic dreams under former British Olympic coach Chris Nesbit.

And it came at the end of an 85km week of training for the girls, who will now race again this Saturday at the Gold Coast City Championships at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre at Southport.

The Week That Was #3: Mauricio Fiol Suspended Eight Years For Second Failed Doping Test

Jul 14, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Mauricio Fiol of Peru competes in the men's 200m butterfly swimming final during the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports Images

By Liz Byrnes, Europe Correspondent

Olympian Mauricio Fiol Villanueva has been banned for eight years after testing positive for stanozolol as he prepared to return to competition following a four-year suspension for the same steroid.

The Peruvian, who was 25th in the 200 fly at the 2012 Olympics in London, tested positive on six occasions between 30 June and 17 September 2019, said governing body FINA.

Given it was his second doping violation, Fiol will now be banned until August 2027 when he will be 33, effectively ending his career.

Fiol came second in the 200 fly at the 2015 Pan-American Games but was subsequently stripped of the silver medal after his positive test which he stated was unintentional.

#4: Andrei Minakov Will Stay in Russia For Freshman Year at Stanford

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Photo Courtesy: @andrei_minak

By Andy Ross

World Championships silver medalist Andrei Minakov will not be traveling to the United States this coming school year as he will do distance learning in his native Russia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Minakov, who had committed to swim at Stanford University for this fall, confirmed to Swimming World that he will be redshirting for the upcoming season.

“We came to a consensus that it’s probably the best decision for me,” Andrei Minakov said. “I am remotely enrolled and will do remote learning this year. Additionally, I am training here in Russia and preparing for the Olympics at home. I will come to campus in the fall of 2021.”

He is currently training with the Russian national team at Lake Krugloye with coach Sergei Chepik.

“Minakov is training at Krugly, he will not go to the USA now, they gave him the go-ahead for this. While he will train in Russia. As far as I understand, they have retained his place, he will go there to study, but this is still being postponed,” Chepik told RIA News by phone.

The Week That Was #5: Eddie Reese Outdoor Pool Opens in Austin

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Photo Courtesy: University of Texas Athletics video screenshot

By Dan D’Addona

The University of Texas officially opened the Eddie Reese Outdoor Pool.

The Longhorns made the announcement with a video on social medial.

The facility in Austin, Texas, has 10 short-course lanes as well as five long-course lanes in the main pool.

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