The Week That Was: Swimmers Across U.S. Gear Up For Invites

Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

Winter Invites will officially be underway across the United States this week, with many of the nation’s top athletes converging for a chance to gauge where they are this season. Read about some of the biggest match-ups expected for this week and more in The Week That Was.

The Week That Was #5 – ISHOF Honor Coach Don Watson Passes Away

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Photo Courtesy: Worline Studio

ISHOF honor coach Don Watson passed away this week at the age of 87. Watson grew up swimming alongside the famed Doc Counsilman at the St. Louis YMCA in the 1940’s and would go on to be an assistant to the coach while he earned a masters degree in physical education at Indiana. Watson would go on to become the head coach at Hinsdale Central High School in Illinois, where he won 12 consecutive state championships and coached five Olympic swimmers during his tenure. Watson’s Hinsdale program was so successful in the 60’s and 70’s that it became the inspiration for community-based swim programs around the country. During his career, Watson coached Olympic medalists John Kinsella and John Murphy along with marathon swimming star Sandra Bucha and three-time pentathlon Olympian Bob Nieman.

The Week That Was #4 – Cierra Runge No Longer At Wisconsin

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Photo Courtesy: Wisconsin Athletics

2016 Olympic gold medalist Cierra Runge is reportedly no longer with the Wisconsin swimming and diving program. Runge’s departure from the program was confirmed to Swimming World in an email on Tuesday morning. The distance swimmer has only been with the Badger program for one year after transferring from Cal-Berkeley following her red-shirt year leading up to the 2016 Olympics. While she didn’t score individually for the Badgers at NCAA’s, Runge was able to qualify for the 2017 World Championship team. On the red carpet at the Golden Goggles, Runge did not acknowledge her pending departure from Wisconsin but did say she had been battling illness through much of the fall. It is not yet clear what Runge’s future swimming plans are.

The Week That Was #3 – 2017 Texas Invite Psych Sheets Released

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Photo Courtesy: Andy Ringgold/Aringo

The psych sheet for the 2017 Texas Invitational was released this week, giving a preview of what looks like to be one of the most competitive winter college invitationals this NCAA season. Hosted at the University of Texas in the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, the meet will take place Nov. 29-Dec. 2 and will feature both Longhorn teams in addition to plenty of other top tier Division I teams. The meet should be a big test for the Longhorn men, who despite being the defending NCAA champions have only won one dual meet so far this year. A big event to watch will be the men’s 200 free, where three of history’s fastest are entered in the event: Texas’ Townley Haas, Arizona State’s Cameron Craig and Harvard’s Dean Farris. Others to watch will be Texas senior Joseph Schooling, USC junior Riley Scott and a slew of post-grads including Matt GreversLeah SmithMadisyn Cox, Jack Conger, Will Licon and Clark Smith. You can see the full psych sheet for the meet here.

The Week That Was #2 – Braden Holloway Signs Contract Extension With NC State

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Photo Courtesy: Todd Kirkland/theACC.com

Wolfpack head coach and five time ACC Swimming and Diving Coach of the Year Braden Holloway has agreed to a new contract with NC State on Monday. The new deal will extend Holloway’s contract through the 2021-22 season. Holloway is currently in his seventh year with the program and has overseen a tremendous rise in the success of both teams during that time. The NC State men have won the last three ACC titles, while the women’s team won their first ACC title in 37 years last February. The men’s team has also been fourth at NCAA’s the past two seasons, and both teams seem poised to continue their success this upcoming year.

The Week That Was #1 – Olympians Highlight 2017 USA Winter Nationals

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Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

USA Swimming released the psych sheet for the upcoming 2017 AT&T Winter National Championships that begin on November 29 in Columbus, Ohio. Many of the United State biggest stars are entered in the meet, giving them a chance to show off what they can do in a short course yards format. Top-seeded Olympians include Ryan Murphy (100 back, 200 back), Chase Kalisz (400 IM, 200 fly), and Kelsi Worrell (100 fly, 200 fly). Also entered in the meet is Louisville’s Mallory Comerford (500 free, 200 free), who has been one of the standout NCAA swimmers this season after an amazing summer that saw her awarded the Breakout Performer of the Year at last week’s Golden Goggles Awards. You can see the entire psych sheet for the meet here.

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Author: James Sica

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James Sica is the Men and Women's Assistant Coach at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been an assistant coach at CMU in Pittsburgh, PA (2015-2017), a volunteer assistant coach with the Harvard women’s program (2014-2015) and an assistant with the Ithaca College men's program (2012-2014).

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