The Week That Was: Swimming Australia Finalizes 2021 Calendar With Olympic Trials Dates

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Australia's mixed freestyle relay at the 2019 World Championships. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

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The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

Swimming Australia announced its 2021 calendar after the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the Olympic year from 2020 to July 2021.

The four major national meets organised in the first half of 2021 feature crucial selection process qualifiers for the Games as well as key benchmark events for age swimmers.

The Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Trials will be held from June 12-17 in Adelaide, marking the pinnacle domestic competition for the year that will see athletes qualify for Tokyo.

Over in the United States, Boise State University out of the Mountain West Conference, cut swimming & diving as well as baseball this week, adding that school to the list of cut swim teams due to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

The Week That Was #5: Michael Phelps to Star in HBO Documentary ‘The Weight of Gold’

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Andy Ross

23-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps will narrate and co-executive produce a new HBO documentary titled The Weight of Gold, which details the mental health challenges that Olympic athletes often face. Diver David Boudia will also serve a voice on the film. The documentary will be available for streaming on HBO Max starting July 29, during the time the Tokyo Olympic Games were set to take place before COVID-19 caused everything to move back a year.

Phelps will serve as narrator of the documentary and will share his struggles along with other high-profile Olympic athletes including Jeremy BloomLolo JonesGracie GoldBode MillerShaun WhiteSasha CohenDavid BoudiaKatie Uhlaender, and, posthumously, Steven Holcomb and Jeret “Speedy” Peterson as shared by his mother, Linda Peterson, according to an HBO Press Release.

“The film chronicles the uniqueness of the lives of Olympic athletes, beginning at very young ages, and the demands of their pursuit of the pinnacle in their sports,” HBO said in a release. “The rewards are no doubt tremendous, but the mental costs – in the wake of both failure and success – can also very real, as detailed by the stories of some of the most recognizable Olympic names of the last few generations.”

#4: Mark Schubert, John Leonard Issue Denials Over Robert Allard Abuse-Related Accusations

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Photo Courtesy: Peter Bick

By Swimming World Editorial Team

Mark Schubert and John Leonard, two of the most senior coaching figures in World swimming for the past 40 years have flatly denied accusations against them in an open letter from Robert Allard, the lawyer representing sexual abuse victims and claimants, to USA Swimming.

Neither Schubert, who has informed local media in California that he is minded to file a defamation lawsuit against Allard as a result of the letter,  nor Leonard are accused of abuse but their alleged misdemeanours are worthy of expulsion from USA Swimming, says Allard. The lawyer pointed to a catalogue of abuse claims and a trail of victims whose stories are well-documented in investigative coverage of sex abuse sandals in sport by the likes of Scott M. Reid at the Orange County Register.

Allard issued the open letter on behalf of six victims this week with a call to USA Swimming to “dismantle a culture of sexual abuse” he claims to have been at the heart of the organisation against a backdrop of crime and scandal in various Olympic sports.

The issues, from actual crime to covering up matters and creating an environment in which rogues can prosper, were brought into sharp focus by the Athlete A documentary on USA Gymnastics, the victims of Larry Nasser, the former federation doctor, and the failures of officials to raise the alarm and act on the warnings of abuse brought to their attention by athletes, parents and others.

The letter, delivered to USA Swimming chief executive Tim Hinchey, contains a scatter-gun of accusations and calls on the organisation to purge itself of what Allard describes as “a deeply embedded culture … which condones the criminal sexual behaviour of coaches towards its underage athletes”.

The Week That Was #3: YMCA of Central Florida to Disband Competitive Teams Indefinitely Due to COVID-19

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Photo Courtesy: Swimming World

By Dan D’Addona

The YMCA of Central Florida competitive aquatic sports have been disbanded indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Florida has been hit harder than most states during the pandemic and the YMCA made the decision to discontinue the competitive programs at the 22 YMCA of Central Florida locations. That includes swimming, diving, water polo and artistic swimming.

“This decision was just about the aquatic teams and has nothing to with the aquatic centers themselves. They will likely re-open as soon as it is safe to do so, but the teams will not be a part of it,” YMCA of Central Florida District Executive Director Mike Brady told Swimming World.

#2: Boise State University Cuts Swimming & Diving

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Photo Courtesy: Boise State Athletics

By Andy Ross

Boise State University will be eliminating baseball and its swimming and diving programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a release sent out by Boise State.

The decision will save the university an estimated $3 million.

“This is one of the hardest decisions athletic departments have to make, but it comes at a time when we are facing the most serious financial challenge we have ever seen,” said Curt Apsey, Boise State athletic director. “Times like these are difficult for many people and we appreciate everyone who has supported these programs over the years, including our coaches, current and former student-athletes, donors and fans. We take all these measures seriously, knowing that the long-term stability of our department must remain a high priority.”

Boise State University’s swim team was a women’s only program, finishing seventh at the 2020 Mountain West Conference Championships under head coach Christine Mabile. The Broncos’ last swimmer to qualify for the NCAA Championships was Abby Sorenson in 2019.

According to Boise State’s release, all student-athlete scholarships for the affected programs will be honored, including incoming 2020 signees, and support will be provided to student-athletes wishing to transfer. Those athletes who opt to transfer will be eligible immediately at their next institution, per NCAA rules.

The Week That Was #1: Swimming Australia Finalizes 2021 Calendar With Olympic Trials Dates

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Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

By Ian Hanson, Oceania Correspondent

Swimming Australia has today confirmed the event dates for its national competition schedule leading into the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next year, with the domestic calendar set to play a vital role in the athletes’ preparation.

The four major national meets organised in the first half of 2021 feature crucial selection process qualifiers for the Games as well as key benchmark events for age swimmers.

Essentially mirroring timelines from 2020, the year will kick off with the:

  • Australian Open Water Swimming Championships (January 29-31);
  • Hancock Prospecting Australian Age Swimming Championships (April 5-12) and the;
  • Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Championships (April 14-18).

Two months later the Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Trials will be held from June 12-17 in Adelaide, marking the pinnacle domestic competition for the year that will see athletes qualify for Tokyo.

While the calendar dates have been confirmed, details surrounding locations and venues are still being worked through by key stakeholders.

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