The Week That Was: Shkurdai, Curzan Post Swift Times in Return to Competition

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Anastasiya Shkurdai. Photo Courtesy: FINA / Budapest 2019

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The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

There was a glimpse of normalcy in the last week as some swimmers around the world were able to return to competition for the first time in months. Most notably, Anastasiya Shkurdai of Belarus broke 57 seconds for the first time in the 100 butterfly in long course meters. She won the silver last summer at the World Juniors in the 100 fly, while the bronze medalist was Claire Curzan of the United States, who swam four new yards best times at her club team’s intrasquad meet in North Carolina.

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

The Week That Was #5: Lea Maurer Hired As USC Associate Head Coach

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Dan D’Addona

Olympic gold medalist and former Stanford women’s head coach Lea Maurer, who guided the Cardinal for seven years, has been named USC men’s and women’s swimming associate head coach, first-year Trojan head coach Jeremy Kipp announced on Monday.

Maurer and is the newest addition to Kipp’s staff, which also includes seventh-year assistant coach Chase Bloch, first-year assistant coach Meghan Hawthorne (who joined Kipp at USC after stints with him at Northwestern and Boise State) as well as 22nd-year head diving coach Hongping Li.

“Lea Maurer is one of the best coaches in the country,” Kipp said. “She has had success at every level of our sport and is hands down one of the most competitive people I know.  She was a force as a swimmer at the collegiate and international level and has remained a force in the coaching world. Her energy and drive are unparalleled and I cannot wait to work alongside Lea as we drive USC Swimming and Diving into a new era.”

#4: Youth Olympic Games to Be Postponed From 2022 to 2026

(140817) -- Nanjing,Aug 17,2014 (Xinhua) -- Athletes warm up ahead of match during Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games at Nanjing OSC Natatorium in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, on Aug. 17, 2014. (Xinhua/Fei Maohua) (txt)

Photo Courtesy: Xinhua/Fei Maohua

By Andy Ross

The 2022 Youth Olympic Games, which were scheduled to be held in Dakar, Senegal, have been postponed to 2026, as mutually agreed upon by IOC President Thomas Bach and Senegal President Macky Sall.

With the coronavirus affecting the entire world and subsequently pushing the summer Olympics in Tokyo back a whole year to 2021, that has drastically affected the rest of the international sporting calendar. Had the Youth Olympics gone on as scheduled, the IOC would have the Summer Games, the Winter Games, and the Youth Games all in a span of 12 months.

The IOC said in a release:

“The postponement of Dakar 2022 allows the IOC, the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and the International Federations (IFs) to better plan their activities, which have been strongly affected by the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, by the subsequent postponements of major international sports events, and by the operational and financial consequences of the global health crisis.

“At the same time, it allows Senegal to carry on the excellent preparations for the Youth Olympic Games. The two leaders, who praised the progress made so far, have jointly renewed their confidence in Dakar 2022 President Mamadou Diagna Ndiaye, IOC Member in Senegal, and both remain fully committed to the great success of these Youth Olympic Games, the first Olympic event ever to be organized in Africa.”

The Week That Was #3: University of Michigan Swimmers Return to Pool, Causing Confusion Around State

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Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@umichswimdive

By Dan D’Addona

While the state of Michigan has not allowed swimmers to return to indoor pools amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Michigan swimming program has returned to the water in their home facility.

Michigan swimmers, practicing social distancing, have returned to Canham Natatorium, one per lane, as of Monday, the school announced with photos on social media.

High school and club programs have returned to outdoor pools around the state in small numbers, but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s ruling prohibits a return to indoor pools. Many teams have been forced out of the water entirely, or have been swimming in large ponds, rivers and lakes around the state.

The University Michigan has returned under the guidance of NCAA policies as athletes have returned to campus and voluntary workouts with social distancing guidelines in place.

#2: Claire Curzan Hits 50.0 100 Fly SCY In First Meet Back

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Andy Ross

16-year-old Claire Curzanfresh off a best time in the 50 freestyle on Friday, swam an extremely impressive 50.03 in the 100 butterfly on Saturday afternoon at her home club’s intrasquad meet in North Carolina.

Curzan crushed her best time of 50.35 that she set earlier this year at the North Carolina high school state championships, which also stands as the national high school record and the national age group record for 15-16-year-olds. Due to USA Swimming’s restrictions on times in the month of July, Curzan’s time will not count as a national age group record, pending a change of heart by USA Swimming. That rule has since been lifted starting in the month of August.

The Week That Was #1: Anastasiya Shkurdai Blasts 56.9 100 Fly LCM

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Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

By Andy Ross

17-year-old Anastasiya Shkurdai of Belarus blasted a 56.95 in the 100 butterfly at the Belarusian Cup in her home town of Brest. Shkurdai, who was the silver medalist at last summer’s World Junior Championships behind American Torri Huske in the 100 butterfly, broke her own national record of 57.39 set last year at the European Juniors.

She had been as fast as a 58.2 earlier this year in March, and is not far off of the current world junior record of 56.46 set by Canada’s Penny Oleksiak on her way to Olympic silver in 2016.

The time puts Shkurdai third in the world rankings for 2020 behind Australia’s Emma McKeon and reigning Olympic champ and world record holder Sarah Sjostrom (56.71). Shkurdai’s swim came while many meets are not being held due to the coronavirus. According to data by Johns Hopkins University and the Ministry of Health, Belarus has recorded under 200 new COVID cases each day this week. While the curve is flattening in the European nation, the virus is not completely wiped out of the country.