The Week That Was: World Ranking Shake-Up In the Pool

Kosuke Hagino
Photo Courtesy: Joao Marc Bosch

This edition of The Week That Was brings us headlines from around the globe, including countries such as China, Brazil and Germany. The competition in the months leading up to the world championships is heating up as several notable names and a few unknowns take the spotlight.

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The Week That Was #5: Jimmy Tierney out as women’s swim coach at Northwestern

Jimmy Tierney

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

It’s been a rough month for the Tierney family. Earlier, Dorsey Tierney-Walker was let go as the coach at Arizona State University. Now, her brother Jimmy has gotten the boot at Northwestern after 27 seasons. As was the case with Tierney-Walker, it’s likely that subpar performances on the women’s team is the cause for the dismissal. The women’s team has not performed as well as the men at Northwestern for many years, though both teams regularly finish low in the rankings at the conference meet. Northwestern’s men’s and women’s teams will not be combined under the guidance of current men’s coach Jarod Schroeder as the school looks to fill Tierney’s job immediately.

The Week That Was #4: Paul Biedermann on track for return to top with swims at German nationals

Paul Biedermann

Photo Courtesy: Pamela Roberts

Paul Biedermann hasn’t won a 200 long course freestyle at the Olympics or world championships since 2009 when he set the world record, but things appear to be back on track for the 28-year-old. Biedermann swam a 1:45.60 in the 200 free last week at the German nationals, which is the fastest time of the year. He managed to beat out a bunch of other swims in the 1:45 range that have taken place in the past couple of weeks, including a swim by reigning world and Olympic champion Yannick Agnel. Biedermann has said the 2016 Olympics will be his final meet, and a gold medal at this year’s world championships would go a long way to getting him that elusive Olympic medal.

The Week That Was #3: Brazil beefs up international roster at Maria Lenk Trophy meet

Cesar Cielo Doha 2014

Photo Courtesy: FINA Doha 2014

Though many of Brazil’s notable athletes were on hand at the Maria Lenk Trophy meet to qualify for international racing, a few fresh faces took the limelight in the year before the country hosts the Olympics. One of those new names was Brandon Almeida, who broke the national record in the 1500 free and also placed second in the 400 IM to qualify for his first senior international squad. Cesar Cielo, Thiago Pereira, Etienne Medeiros and Joanna Maranhao were a couple of the standouts, though Cielo found himself in second place in three races but is targeting defense of his two world titles from 2013.

The Week That Was #2: Japan swims strong at nationals to pose world championship threat

Ryosuke Irie

Photo Courtesy: Joao Marc Bosch

Japan always swims fast at the spring Open meet, and this year was no exception. Kosuke Hagino, the reigning Swimming World Magazine World Swimmer of the Year, continues to lead the men’s team with an opportunity to win medals in five events at world championships. Hagino is the one to beat in both individual medleys, posting a blazing 4:08.54 in the 400 IM and 1:56.30 in the 200 IM. Countryman Daiya Seto is right on his heels in both events and will be on target to defend his 400 IM world title. Japanese breaststroke continues to shine, thanks to big wins from Yasuhiro Koseki and Kanako Watanabe in the 200 breast. And the always reliable Ryosuke Irie is the top man in the world in the 100 and 200 backstrokes, giving him the edge going into the summer. Japan only won six medals at the 2013 world championships but appear to be on track to double that number – if they can repeat or improve on their performances from the past week.

The Week That Was #1: Sun Yang returns from doping scandal with world-ranked times

Sun Yang

Photo Courtesy: Joao Marc Bosch

It’s been five months since the news broke that Sun Yang had tested positive for a banned substance in May 2014, and the world record holder showed that the media attention surrounding the publicity has not shaken him. Though unable to train in Australia with Denis Cotterell due to a new policy in Australia, Sun is performing up to his normal standards as evidenced by his swims at the Chinese nationals. Sun is among the top three in the world in the 200, 400 and 800 freestyles and it’s likely the Olympic champion’s competition is starting to creep up on him. We will see how Sun performs at worlds, but for now, it appears scandal has not affected his long-term goals.