The Week That Was: Touretski Passes Away, Curzan Break 50 Seconds in 100 Fly

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Photo Courtesy: Darrin Braybrook / Swimming World Archive

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The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

Legendary coach Gennadi Touretski, who led the likes of Alexander Popov and Michael Klim among others to Olympic medals, passed away on Friday after a heart attack. Touretski was a former national team coach of Swimming Australia before he was fired in 2002, and was most recently based in Switzerland.

Across the pond, 16-year-old Claire Curzan nearly broke the American record in the 100 butterfly SCY at the TAC Titans Invitational with the Marlins of Raleigh as she is one of the few club swimmers that have returned to racing this summer since the pandemic began.

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

The Week That Was #5: Indianapolis Bidding For 2024 Olympic Trials in Football Stadium

USA Swimming Olympic Trials

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Andy Ross

The city of Indianapolis will be bidding to host the 2024 Olympic Swim Trials inside Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts football team, according to a report from the Indy Star and confirmed by the Indiana Sports Corp. The stadium hosts 70,000 people and would be a huge upgrade from the CHI Health Center in Omaha which seats 17,560 and has hosted the Olympic Trials in 2008, 2012 and 2016, and will again host next year.

Indianapolis lasted hosted the Olympic Trials in 2000 at the legendary IU Natatorium, one of the swimming landmarks in the United States. Indianapolis served as Trials host in 1984, 1992, 1996 and 2000 and has frequently hosted the nation’s best swimmers for competitions.

#4: Rikako Ikee Rethinks Return to Race Plan After Japan Restricts Number of Competitors

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

By Craig Lord, Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

A decision by the Japanese Swimming Federation to restrict the number of swimmers allowed at any meet to between 32 and 40 competitors may hasten the race-comeback plans of sprint ace Rikako Ikee, who returned to the pool in March for the first time since she was diagnosed with leukemia last year.

A month ago, Ikee told the Japanese media invited to watch her train that she had pencilled in the Japan intercollegiate championships in October for a possible first test of race skills.

Now, however, a decision of the federation’s board on Tuesday this week to respond to the continuing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic by restricting numbers at competitions may bring forward Ikee’s competitive comeback to August 27 at a university duel in Tokyo.

Eligibility for a place among the 32-40 swimmers will be determined by comparing times recorded since April 2019, ruling Ikee out. The duel between Nihon University, where Rikako Ikee is a second-year student, and Chuo University at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center on August 27 involves fewer swimmers and would allow her to register a time before the September 11 deadline for applications to enter the more competitive intercollegiate championships the following month.

The Week That Was #3: Sharon Van Rouwendaal to Move to Magdeburg & Train With Florian Wellbrock

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Photo Courtesy: Eric Seals-USA TODAY Sports

By Liz Byrnes, Europe Correspondent

Olympic open water champion Sharon van Rouwendaal is moving her base to Magdeburg, Germany, where she will train alongside world champion Florian Wellbrock under German national coach Bernd Berkhahn.

It brings to an end a seven-year association with Philippe Lucas at Montpellier, France, during which time she won eight European and five world medals – in both pool and open water – and the 10km title at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Van Rouwendaal’s collaboration with Lucas has come to an end and on 17 August she will start training under Berkhahn, who numbers Wellbrock – who won the 10km open water and 1500 free at the 2019 World Championships – among his charges.

The switch, which comes a little under a year out from the rescheduled Olympics in Tokyo for which she has already qualified, has been something Van Rouwendaal has been considering for some time.

In a statement released by the Royal Dutch Swimming Federation (KNZB), she said:

“Over the past year, I began to have too many doubts and doubts about the collaboration with Philippe. I became Olympic champion under his leadership and I am very grateful to him, but I am ready for a change and something new.

“Last season I participated a number of training courses with the group of Bernd Berkhahn, who is also the German national coach, and that went very well.

“I have now made the decision and am very happy that I can start working in Bernd’s team. I can now prepare myself without worries and with full conviction for the successful Games in Tokyo next year.”

#2: Claire Curzan Rattles American Record With 49.7 100 Fly

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Andy Ross

16-year-old Claire Curzan continues to tear apart the record books this summer with a 49.73 in the 100 butterfly on Saturday at the TAC Titans Invitational. Curzan became the youngest swimmer to ever break 50 seconds in the event as she moved to fifth all-time with her swim, just off the fastest time in history at 49.26 by Louise Hansson and Maggie MacNeil. Curzan was also not far off the American record of 49.38 set by Erika Brown earlier this year.

She was out in 23.07 and back in 26.66, as she finished ahead of Abby Arens (53.54) of the Marlins of Raleigh, who is the other team present at this socially distanced meet.

Curzan broke her own national age group record that she set earlier this summer at 50.03 as she has not missed a beat from the coronavirus pandemic that has kept a lot of swimmers out of the water for the majority of the summer.

The Week That Was #1: Legendary Coach Gennadi Touretski Passes Away at 71

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Gennadi Touretsky – Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

By Andy Ross

Legendary swim coach Gennadi Touretski passed away on Friday at his home in Switzerland, according to a report from the Russian Swimming Newsletter. Touretski was 71 and suffered a fatal stroke.

He started coaching in 1973 and began work with the Soviet national team in 1979. From there, Touretski built a sterling career, as he coached legendary sprint star Alexander Popov to double Olympic gold in 1992 and 1996. Popov long revered Touretski and gave the coach his 1996 Olympic gold medal from the 100 freestyle. Touretski was also the mentor to sprint standouts Gennadi PrigodaVladimir Pyshnenko* and Andrey Grechin during his days in Russia.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Touretski worked as a chief specialist at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra where he was based from 1992 until he was dismissed in 2002. While in Australia, Touretski coached Olympic medalist Michael Klim, who has been selected for induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Popov followed Touretski to Australia, a nod to the tight relationship between the men.

Touretski’s dismissal from the Australian Institute of Sport was related to anabolic steroids being found by police during an investigation into a robbery at Touretski’s home in 2001. Touretski denied they were used to aid his athletes. He was forced to resign from his coach duties after stanozolol – the steroid made notorious by Ben Johnson – was discovered in a safe stolen from his home in Canberra.

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