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E U R O P E A N A Q U AT I C S H I G H L I G H T S

Magazine

G OLD CONTINENT

www.lenmagazine.com

2009

LEN

ISSN 1998-2151

mber No 13 Septe

LEN Magazine 2009/3

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2009.08.16.

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The European Empire Champions we are proud of

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From optimism to realism LEN Magazine predicted the European breakthrough

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Swimming

Veni, vidi, vici, vanquished Craig Lord’s overview on the strangest championships ever 10

LEN Magazine IV/3 issue Published by: Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN) Editorial Board: The LEN Bureau KRUCHTEN Nory (President, LUX) ALESHIN Gennady (Vice-President, RUS) DIATHESOPOULOS Dimitris (Vice-President, GRE) GYARFAS Tamas (Vice-President, HUN) LUYCE Francis (Vice-President, FRA) Van HEIJNINGEN Erik (Vice-President, NED) FOLVIK Sven Egil (Secretary, NOR) THIEL Christa (Treasurer, GER) Bureau Members: BARELLI Paolo (ITA), EBEJER Robert (MLT), KONINCKX BATALLER Juan (ESP), KOWALSKI Jerzy (POL), MEYER Erich (SUI), MIKKOLA Kurt (FIN), SPARKES David (GBR), VARVODIC Ivan (CRO), VLASKOV Andriy (UKR) LEN Director: SZAKADATI Laszlo Editor-in-chief: GYARFAS Tamas Editors: CSURKA Gergely, LORD Craig Design: FABIAN Istvan Advertising sales: LEN Magazine Office, Community, Paris Coordinators: NAGY Eva, RIPP Eszter Photos: Reuters Printing: Realszisztema Dabas Printing House Zrt. E-mail: lenmagazine@lenmagazine.com Website: www.lenmagazine.com Views expressed in articles are those of the authors and not necessarily reflect those of the editors, the LEN Bureau or the LEN.

Europe The Old World with new energy

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America The adventures of the Speedo-camp

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Asia China: the perfect 10 (not diving)

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Australia Dolphins have work to do in London

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Africa The results based on three top class swimmers

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Diving

LEN

China again, now 7-3 Three-time Olympic champion Klaus Dibiasi’s in-depth analysis 68

The best ones in the family 50 of the 51 LEN member federations sent their athletes to Rome: let’s see who took the highest rank in each country 100

Reaching high Another fairy tale with Thomas Daley. But why did his father take the gold medal? 74

Synchronized Swimming Others lifting, but Russia still rules The rest of the world tries to match the Russians but they are still in front 78

Open Water Lurz storms through the Mediterranean Ostia saw the German Ironman’s double and the very first loss of Larissa Ilchenko 86

Water Polo 50

On the cover: Europe’s emblematic stars and the emblematic statues of the Rome World Championships

European officers in the leading bodies of FINA All our representatives in the Bureau, Panels, Committees and Commissions 104 From the headquarters Activities and the usual LEN-calendar

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And the Award goes to... Nominees for this year’s LEN Award 108

MENÊS EVENTS Analysis and comments from the champions and from those who didn’t make it to the podium – event by event 32 WOMENÊS EVENTS Stroke by stroke, distance by distance, just as with the men

Against the wind... Plenty of discussions before the FINA elections and plenty of lessons to be learnt after the voting 102

Open events on the tennis courts After the era of the trusty few, upsets galore. And even more turnover fouls... 92

Capture the moment! LEN launches its usual photo competition: apart from a little appetizer from the best pictures on these pages, there are some other great shots appearing on other pages of this edition. These marked only with numbers as the authors have to remain anonymous. Find all photos on our website (lenmagazine.com) and vote for the best one! 110

Europe has shown the world how competent it is. When it comes to organization or the athletes’ performances: we may declare, without any partiality, that it was an amazing accomplishment! Italy, as a host, can only be qualified as “magnifico”! Professional and smooth running of the Championships, minimized distances between the different competition venues, friendly atmosphere, safety – and all arranged in such a manner that no background work could be perceived at all. But of course, if we say that the organization was “magnifico”, we only make our own job more difficult if we wish to appreciate the overall performance of the European athletes. In swimming, Europe won 17 gold, 20 silver and 19 bronze medals, which is an overwhelming majority compared to the other Continents. In synchronized swimming, it was Russia, as usual, that ensured the overwhelming superiority of Europe: they won 6 out of the 7 events, leaving one for the Spanish. Open water swimming is also a European discipline; 5 out of the 6 events went to the representatives of the Old Continent. In water polo, the outcome was, once more, the most favorable for us: Serbia’s men’s national team emerged as winners, and only European teams reached the rostrum. Among the women’s, Europeans finished third and fourth. Moreover, thanks to a European man and a woman, we were finally able to break the Chinese hegemony in springboard diving. Finally, the cherry on the cake: the overall picture. The national flags of the winners were hoisted on 65 occasions. Out of those 65 occasions, European national anthems were played 32 times, which is almost half of all presentations. The fact that we won just as many silver medals as gold and 27 bronze medals proves again, that the European superiority is well-founded; it is not a mere question of luck. Back in Beijing, we won 13 gold, 18 silver and 16 bronze medals altogether, even if there were 46 events disputed there. At the Olympic Games of 2008, we tied with the American Continent regarding the number of gold medals (13-13), however, this time the result is 32 to 14! How can this performance be further boosted? In what way can it be repeated at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai? And then in London… We have set ourselves a really high standard now. Even if the swimming suit regulations alter from 1 January 2010 according to the decision of FINA, the level of performance should remain unchanged. Only in Rome, 43 world records were set. To tell the truth, what I am really excited about now is the number of records to be broken next year at the 30th LEN European Swimming Championship in Budapest. Although many of us fear that we may not count any new records for a long time, I am more hopeful about that. The magic suits could do miracles when worn by magic swimmers. Even if one of these three miracle factors is eliminated, outstanding swimmers will still be able to perform wonders. Rome can be considered a milestone beyond the pools as well. FINA’s new President, elected unanimously, is Dr. Julio Maglione, to whom we extend our sincere congratulations and to whom we wish, above all, similar successes in his work as the head of this sport as the ones achieved by Mustapha Larfaoui, who had fulfilled his commitments during the past five mandates. Europe managed to preserve the significant position of Honorary Secretary in the highest governing body of the swimming world. Former President of LEN, our friend, Bartolo Consolo was succeeded by Paolo Barelli, who also excelled as the leader of the Organizing Committee of the World Championships. It is satisfying and with pleasure to note that, after some struggle, the result of the democratic decision regarding the European representation in the FINA Bureau taken at the LEN Congress in Zurich, was finally confirmed. The compromise reached in Rome played a significant role in the successful confirmation of this decision, and thanks to this, further important positions were obtained within FINA. Success in and outside the pool, permanently restored peace, and a common positive incentive will hopefully provide adequate grounds for our meeting in September at the next LEN Congress in Copenhagen, where we will be able to discuss ways of moving forward in unity. NORY KRUCHTEN LEN President FINA Vice-President

EDITORIAL

Bravo, Europe!

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13th FINA

World Championships: 32 gold medals!

Open Water

Diving

The European Empire Swimming

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Paul BIEDERMANN (Germany) Freestyle 200m, 400m

Liam TANCOCK (Great Britain) Backstroke 50m

Thomas LURZ (Germany) 5 km, 10 km

Thomas DALEY (Great Britain) 10m Platform

Water Polo

Daniel GYURTA (Hungary) Breaststroke 200m

Milorad CAVIC (Serbia) Butterfly 50m

Britta STEFFEN (Germany) Freestyle 50m, 100m

Federica PELLEGRINI (Italy) Freestyle 200m, 400m

Valerio CLERI (Italy) 25 km

Julia PAKHALINA (Russia) 1m Springboard

Lotte FRIIS (Denmark) Freestyle 800m

Alessia FILIPPI (Italy) Freestyle 1500m

Gemma SPOFFORTH (Great Britain) Backstroke 100m

Yuliya EFIMOVA (Russia) Breaststroke 50m

Keri-Anne PAYNE (Great Britain) 10 km

RUSSIA Team Technical Routine Team Free Routine

Nadja HIGL (Serbia) Breaststroke 200m

Sarah SJOSTROM (Sweden) Butterfly 100m

Katinka HOSSZU (Hungary) Individual Medley 400m

4 x 100m Freestyle NETHERLANDS

Angela MAURER (Germany) 25 km

Natalia ISHCHENKO (Russia) Solo Technical Routine Solo Free Routine

LEN

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SERBIA

Synchronised Swimming

SPAIN Free Routine Combination

Anastasia DAVYDOVA Svetlana ROMASHINA (Russia) Duet Technical Routine

Natalia ISHCHENKO Svetlana ROMASHINA (Russia) Duet Free Routine

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From optimism to realism Upon summarizing the predictions in May we were a little bit scared: would our Magazine be regarded a reliable source as our punters expected a huge European breakthrough? After moderate performances in Melbourne and in Beijing (remember: Europe grabbed a single gold medal in the male swimming events both in 2004 and 2008), 15 titles seemed too optimistic. Even extreme. However, Europeans enjoyed being at home in Rome and proved bus right. Though we should note: it was not only the swimmers who were aided by the suits but the punters too! The LZR-camp – the US and Australia at the helm – fell back significantly just as those wearing the latest generations of shiny suits, including Europe’s leading lights, stepped up. LEN Magazine punters predicted 15 crowns for Europeans. That was a touch pessimistic: the Old World won 17 gold medals in the race pool, shared between nine nations. The punters did well on the Americas too, predicting a dramatic loss from 21 titles in 2007 to 11 in 2009, compared to the 12 titles (10 for the USA, two for Cesar Cielo and Brazil) actually won. While Africa’s few title contenders swam to form, with three titles, one fewer than predicted, the big advance came from Asia, or more specifically China. One crown had been forecast by LEN punters but China alone got four and Japan took the continental tally to 5. But if the general overview was somewhat predictable, the devil was in the detail when we look back at the forecast for who would etch their names in gold: of the 17 male solo events, LEN punters predicted five races accurately, in seven cases no one voted for the eventual world champion even to win a medal of any colour, while in seven cases the man tipped to win did not reach the podium (in two cases Michael Phelps, whose entry was unknown before LEN Magazine published its predictions). Five

Total medal count

I.

EUROPE 32

II.

27

16

14

9

13

5

10

3

3

AMERICA 14

III.

32

ASIA 12

IV. OCEANIA 4

V. AFRICA 3

Olympic champions in the Rome race could not back up with a world title. The same count among women: six correct predictions in 17 races, five events in which the world champion was not considered up to winning a medal and six tipped to win did not reach the podium. Seven Olympic champions in the Rome race could not back up with a world title. By the end of eight days of living 10 years and more ahead of time, not even

the firmest supporters of suits that provide different benefits to different swimmers over different strokes and distances and skew every race and result, could, with honesty in their hearts, stick to their guns without blushing. As for the other sports, in diving, the Chinese were denied a clean sweep: they almost did it in Melbourne and Beijing, winning all but one event (the men’s platform). This time the rest of the world managed to climb back to a respectable 7-3 deficit: China won 7, so the punters were on target at a 7/10 rate. In this sport it’s not a big deal, so credit goes to those who guessed the non-Chinese winners. The same applies to the synchro: Russians’ dominance was foreseen by the huge majority, only the solo was given to Gemma Mengual, the sole miss of the punters (that title also went to Russia). In open water, Thomas Lurz brought the 10km home “for” the punters, but the Russians did not dominate the event as expected: four gold medals were predicted for them but they failed to win a single one. For the women’s 25km, punters guessed the champion’s nationality correctly, but the crown went to Angela Maurer not Britta Kamrau. Even those playing the game were surprised by the upsets in the water polo tournament: the biggest one was Montenegro’s elimination in the eight-finals though this team was expected to go all the way by the experts. Being our Magazine’s No. 1. favourite might have been a jinx: the Italian ladies faced the same fate and lost at the same stage as Montenegro. Although both gold medallists appeared on our list, the Serbians got 28% of the votes while the US had 31%. All in all, our Magazine might be regarded as a good compass ahead of major competitions. And looking at the medal count our athletes, in Rome at least, seem to have unearthed a new gold-mine…

LEN Magazine: the mouth of truth

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MEDA LS

Swimming

Flying high... Europeans hit top form in Rome

Photo: WOLFGANG RATTAY / REUTERS

I.

EUROPE 17

II.

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III.

19

9

7

4

5

4

9

3

2

AMERICA 12

Europe is on the rise! The Continent won 17 gold medals in swimming, compared to 7 at the Beijing Olympics and to 6 at the previous World Championship in Melbourne. The total number of medals bagged looks even better: 56 (as a matter of reference: the American continent, albeit mostly from medals won by one country, took home 28 medals, half of the European tally). The chart below speaks for itself: once again, Europe led the world’s swimming – let us admit, mainly thanks to the ladies who won 12 out of the total 17 golds.

20

ASIA 5

IV. OCEANIA 3

V. AFRICA 3

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OVERVI EW View from the top... Federica Pellegrini might deserve a statue

Veni, vidi, vici, vanquished It was once a rule in Rome that no legion of soldiers be permitted to cross the Rubicon, lest they should attack the state. But when Julius Caesar crossed the line with his men he declared “alea jacta est” (historians are now divided as to whether he meant alea Jaked est) or “the die is cast”.

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And so it was in the race pool, a line having been crossed long before swimmers had reached Rome, long before another 43 world records fell, each one another nail in the coffin of bodysuits that in February 2008 opened a Pandora’s Box of artificial enhancement to speed, buoyancy and endurance. With the launch of the Speedo LZR Racer and a TYR equivalent, swimming, with FINA permission to pass, became an equipment-based sport practically overnight. Within six weeks, 19 world records had fallen: they were merely the first wave of what became a flood of 195 world records by the time this edition was being put to bed some 17 months after

the sad suits saga began. By the end of 2009, the tally is expected to surpass 200. In 2008, warnings fell on deaf ears and suit wars ensued. The rubble will take a while to shift after peace was declared in Rome in three votes: • an overwhelming vote by the FINA Technical Swimming Committee to specify the word “swimsuit” in rule SW10.7, forbidding the use of anything that may aid speed, buoyancy and endurance; • then a Congress vote by 168 nations to 7 for a return to textile-only suits and a cutback in profile that sounded the death knell for the bodysuit; • and finally a vote to elect Julio Maglione FINA President, his “integrity” ticket placed on the top table of the international federation within days of his election: it took seven days to confirm the Congress vote. That was the good news. The bad news was that Rome 2009 could not be saved and will go down as the only equipment-based FINA world championships in the history of the sport. The sad news for hard-working athletes and coaches

around the world is that all results – from qualification to podiums and the medals table - must be framed in that context. For how else are we to report a 3:40.08 and 1:42.00 that marked best times of 6 and 4sec respectively for Paul Biedermann over 400m and then 200m freestyle; how to relate a 100m butterfly final that saw seven women race below 57sec when only yesterday just one woman in history had gone there; how to explain a 2:06.15 win over 200m medley that marked a 5sec gain for Ariana Kukors in an event that had never witnessed a sub 2:10 effort by a clean athlete before February 2008; how to report the efforts of the 30 men who now boast a sub 2:10 200m breaststroke time 17 months after Mike Barrowman’s 2:10.16 from 1992 was still 4th best ever (now 32nd). How could it be that, 2007 to 2009, the US got only half as many gold medals and Australia lost two-thirds of its titles? What explained the presence of 30 nations on the table? How come Australia fell back? What did China do to prosper on days 2-8 that it didn’t do on day 1 (the entire team switched from the LZR to Jaked)? An on and on and on. In time-honoured tradition, one held for good reason, Rome has been written up (and you find that to be the case in some reports that follow this one) in light of history, in the context of what went before, as a moment comparable to 2007, 2005, 2003 and so on back down the years to the start of it all in 1973. That was the year in which 16 world records fell, a record of records that survived until Rome 2009. The new target: 43. We will not see its like again. The irony of it all: FINA, which receives just over $1m from Speedo a year, paid a US$25,000 bonus for each world record. The bill: $1.075 million.

The truth is that Rome 2009 bears no comparison, neither with past nor what will follow. Rome 2009 must forever sit in isolation, one far from being splendid. The suit apologists’ mantra was: don’t attack athletes. But they were doing just that: bad to point out the truth of the moment but fine to say that Popov, Hoogie, Thorpe, Hackett, Hansen, Crocker, de Bruijn, Manaudou, Evans, Coughlin, Egerszegi, Hoff, and back to Matt B, Tamas D, Mary T, Michael G, Tracy C and many more were “blown away”, “finally confined to history”, “wiped out”, “dinosaurs from a bygone age” and so on and so forth, without a single reference to the thing that made what were world records in January 2008 look average in July 2009.

In Rome, deaf ears heard loud and clear from the first two finals of a championship that screamed of imbalance. The message came from a 3:59.12 for Federica Pellegrini in the 400m free and from the very mouth of the first champion of 2009: Paul Biedermann, a hard-working man from Halle in Germany, who got 6sec inside himself and 0.01sec inside Ian Thorpe’s 3:40.08sec 2001 standard over 400m freestyle. Such a moment should have been one that Biedermann could boast of as evidence that he had become the greatest 400m freestyle man ever seen. But we cannot report it like that and his joy was for the gold medal, not the time in lights. As he put it: “I would not [have got] within 2sec of Thorpe’s world record. The swimsuit [arena X-Glide suit] helped me a lot. I was never expecting to break this world record ... I didn’t expect this at all and I’m so happy ... It’s a thing that you only live through one time in your life.” That may well come to be the case, and not only for Biedermann. Rates of gain from 2-4sec per 200m and 4-6sec per 400m were not uncommon. Some went home from Rome with best times of up to 4sec better over 100m, and one world champion, Nadja Higl (SRB) was crowned after an 8sec best time over 200m breaststroke. Some things transcend even the suits. No fewer than 16 titles relied on the swimmer racing half a second per length faster than their previous season best, which in many cases meant the difference between a LZR and what followed,

Speedo cap, Jaked suit – anything else?

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OVERVI EW

comparison Melbourne 2007 too farcical to contemplate in serious fashion across the board. The shift of suit popularity from LZR racer to the 2009 generation of 80-100% polyurethane suits was reflected in a medals table that showed us one stark shift in the balance of aquatic superpowers: the USA lost half its titles 2007 to 2009; and Australia lost two thirds of its 2007 title count. Like LEN Magazine’s punters (see page 7), FINA federations around the world, pointed in the right direction by an American proposal, also fathomed what was coming and made a decisive move before racing began in Rome.

The timetable that revived swimming as a technique-based sport: • July 23: 103 nations at the FINA Technical Congress vote in favour of adding “swimsuit” to Rule SW10.7, which now reads: “No swimmer shall be permitted to use or wear any device or swimsuit that may aid his/her speed, buoyancy or endurance during a competition (such as webbed gloves, flippers, fins, etc.). Goggles may be worn. Any kind of tape on the body is not permitted.”

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• July 24: Congress votes for return to textile-only suits, cut back to shorts, or jammers, for men, and shoulder strap to a cut above the knee for women • July 28, 17:00hrs: the newly elected FINA Executive and Bureau confirms that it will follow the wish of Congress but it may take until “April or May, 2010”, not January 1. • July 28, 18:02hrs: Biedermann clocks 1:42.00 in the 200m freestyle final to crush Phelps and his world record and race 2sec faster than Thorpe ever did • July 28, 18:30hrs: Bob Bowman, US head coach and mentor to Phelps, tells the media: “They can expect Michael not to swim until then, because I am done with this. They have to implement this immediately. This is a shambles. They better do something or they

are going to lose the guy that fills all these seats. We have lost the history of the sport. That would be my recommendation for him not to swim internationally. This mess needs to be stopped right now. This can’t go on any further.” • July 29, 10am: Biedermann supports Bowman’s stance, saying: “When Michael Phelps is really doing that [not racing until the suits are gone], FINA should react. It is ‘der hammer’ [great, the best that could happen]. When the best swimmer in the world says that, that’s amazing. It’s really great.” • July 31, 17:00hrs: FINA will delay no longer – January 1, 2010 is confirmed as the moment when artificial aids to speed, buoyancy and endurance will be removed from the race pool; Prof Jan-Anders Manson of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology will lead a panel of experts that includes a representative from each continent plus former worldclass swimmer Rafael Escalas, of Spain.

Swimming has a job and a half to clean up the flood of 2008 and 2009. Time and again I heard from colleagues in the international media that head office – the editors who decide which sports get what space – was talking about swimming as the joke sport of 2009. Over at L’Equipe, Europe’s premier daily sports paper did not report a single world record set in a suit of 2009. A trawl through the world media confirms that the suits made a mockery of swimming and tainted every result. Unfair? You bet. Not unfair to report it. Unfair to the swimmers, to the coaches top the parents who forked out $2,500 and more a meet if they could afford to these past two years or sat in despair and watched their offspring race at a clear disadvantage and have their hopes and dreams dashed. And for those who made it to Rome, a sweat-shop awaited. As Denis Pursley, head coach to Britain, put it: “It is fantastic that FINA has finally done the right thing. The continual changes on the suits issue in the past months has been terrible for swimmers and coaches alike. We

have seen kids lining up for two hours in oppressive heat hear at these championships just to get their hands on a suit that will make them competitive.” And all in the interests of commercial enterprises. They were there is Rome, arriving at the Foro Italico in Maseratis and Lamborghinis. No harm in such indulgence, wealth and glamour, provided that as a non-profit-making organization you are not blinded by such things to such an extent that they catch you in their beams and then run you over. Money made the swimming world go faster – but at what price? Some of that will be paid for by suit makers. Meanwhile, swimmers can get back to swimming, which will be no less boring for the loss of the plastic fantastic. Take the 100m butterfly for men. Billed as the ultimate battle of the bodysuits, one

man taunting, one man refusing to budge. But it was much more than that. It was a demonstration of the human, competitive spirit at work. It was Mikey Maximus but hardly Milo Minimus. It was a boiling, rolling, gut-wrenching fight for the prize. We have seen such things before in swimming, long before shiny suits – and we shall see them again. The closeness of that most-real of moments in Rome was reflected in the LEN Magazine prediction for the race: 47% of punters placed their bets on Cavic, 45% on Phelps. Both men will emerge as fighters in a textile future. Some will not recover the loss of plastic. Pursley noted: “The suits provide advantages for those with training deficiencies. There’s core strength and body streamlining, It takes countless hours over weeks, months and years to achieve results from that kind of work. Thirty minutes can do it by putting a suit on.” Multiply that by a whole generation of swimmers and, in the words of Bob Bowman: “We’ve lost the history of the sport. Does a 10-year-old boy in Baltimore want

76 Final chapter ... the suits will be gone from January 1, 2010

World Records Rome 2009 W 100m Free - (4×100 Fr - F) W 100m Fly - SF W 200m IM - SF W 400m Free - F W 4×100m Free - F M 400m Free - F M 100m Breast - F W 100m Breast - SF W 100m Back - SF W 200m IM - F W 100m Fly - F M 200m Free - F W 100m Back - F M 50m Breast - SF W 200m Free - SF W 50m Back - SF W 200m Fly - H W 50m Back - SF M 200m Fly - F W 200m Free - F M 50m Breast - F M 800m Free - F M 200m IM - F W 200m Breast - SF M 100m Free - F W 200m Fly - F M 200m Breast - SF W 50m Back - F W 4×200m Free - F W 100m Free - F W 50m Fly - SF W 50m Fly - SF M 100m Fly - SF M 4×200m Free - F M 200m Back - F W 200m Back - F M 100m Fly - F M 50m Back - SF W 4×100m Medley - F M 50m Back - F W 50m Breast - F W 50m Free - F M 4×100m Medley - F

52.22 56.44 2:07.03 3:59.15 3:31.72 3:40.07 58.58 1:04.84 58.48 2:06.15 56.06 1:42.00 58.12 26.74 1:53.67 27.38 2:04.14 27.39 1:51.51 1:52.98 26.67 7:32.12 1:54.10 2:20.12 46.91 2:03.41 2:07.31 27.06 7:42.08 52.07 25.28 25.07 50.01 6:58.55 1:51.92 2:04.81 49.82 24.08 3:52.19 24.04 30.09 23.73 3:27.28

STEFFEN Britta SJOSTROM Sarah KUKORS Ariana PELLEGRINI Federica Netherlands BIEDERMANN Paul RICKARD Brenton SONI Rebecca ZUEVA Anastasia KUKORS Ariana SJOSTROM Sarah BIEDERMANN Paul SPOFFORTH Gemma VAN DER BURGH Cameron PELLEGRINI Federica ZUEVA Anastasia DESCENZA Mary SAMULSKI Daniela PHELPS Michael PELLEGRINI Federica VAN DER BURGH Cameron ZHANG Lin LOCHTE Ryan PIERSE Annamay CIELO FILHO Cesar SCHIPPER Jessicah SPRENGER Christian ZHAO Jing China STEFFEN Britta VELDHUIS Marleen ALSHAMMAR Therese CAVIC Milorad United States PEIRSOL Aaron COVENTRY Kirsty PHELPS Michael TANCOCK Liam China TANCOCK Liam EFIMOVA Yuliya STEFFEN Britta United States

GER SWE USA ITA NED GER AUS USA RUS USA SWE GER GBR RSA ITA RUS USA GER USA ITA RSA CHN USA CAN BRA AUS AUS CHN CHN GER NED SWE SRB USA USA ZIM USA GBR CHN GBR RUS GER USA

to break Paul Biedermann’s record? Is that going to make him join swimming? I just said to Doug Frost [Thorpe’s mentor], the two of us were erased in three days. It took no time, what took us 12 years together (to build). It makes me wonder why I still want to keep doing this. Why would I take another 13-year-old and bring him through, because once he gets there, there’s is nothing to shoot for.” He is among those now calling on FINA to mark all 2008-09 records as “artificially aided”. Few disagree. Indeed, there is widespread support for the idea. From Cielo to Biedermann to Phelps to Steffen to Tancock to Adlington to Van der Burgh and through the ranks, all were heartened by the back to the future news, all happy to see their records marked as having been set in specific conditions. Mark Schubert, the general manager of United States Swimming, whom in 2008 said that swimmers had a “black or white decision ... the money or the medal” when stating that the LZR was the only route to gold in Beijing, cited Phelps’s 100m butterfly blast as “probably the greatest mental toughness I’ve ever witnessed”. A model for all those who must set aside their book of best times, rise Phoenix-like from the ashes of what Schubert called “the plastic meet” and start again at swimming’s Ground Zero in 2010. By CRAIG LORD The Times, Great Britain

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I / REUTERS

Photo: MAX ROSS

A N A LY S I S

EUROPE

The sky of Rome full of European stars At the 13th FINA World Championships, in the spectacular arena of the monumental swimming complex of IL FORO ITALICO, in Rome, the European gladiators won 17 world titles out of 40. That’s a share of 42.5%, one that marked the second highest gold medal tally of the past five championships, one less victory than at Barcelona 2003. In Fukuoka 2001, Europeans won 16 crowns.

The lows of Montreal 2005 (8 titles) and Melbourne 2007 (just 7 titles) have been laid to rest. As many as nine countries contributed to the result: Germany leads the group with 4 titles, followed by Italy with 3, Great Britain, Hungary and Serbia with 2 each, Russia, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands with one title each. In terms of medals won overall in swimming, Germany is still in the lead with 9, followed by Great Britain and Russia (7 each), France (6, 3 silver and 3 bronze), Hungary (5), Italy (4), Serbia and Spain (3 each), Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands (2 each), Poland,

Austria, Lithuania, Norway and Romania (1 each). Overall 16 European countries won at least a medal in swimming confirming the widespread nature of excellence in European swimming. The role of the European Championships cannot be overstated. Excellence does not come by mere chance: it is the result of hard work, careful planning and sound swimming programmes, including the Junior European Championships, a competition that in many cases has been a showcase of future champions. Germans Paul Biedermann and Britta Steffen are two cases in point.

Fingers crossed... Milorad Cavic and the Europeans enjoyed a great event

ERS

G RATTAY / REUT

Photo: WOLFGAN

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European supremacy was overwhelming among the women, with 12 titles out of 20 (60%) while among the men (5 titles) it counted for a 25% share. Compared to Melbourne 2007, Europe added 10 titles to its tally: exactly the same number lost by the United States compared to Melbourne, when they won 20 titles. In Rome the Americas took 12 titles, 10 for the USA and 2 for Brazil. Australia’s set back was even more stark: the Dolphins won 13 gold in both 2001 and 2005, 6 in 2003, 9 in 2007 and just 3 in 2009. Asia, also with just two countries – China and Japan – claimed 5 titles, as in 2003: the Asians won 2 titles in 2001 and 2007, none in 2005. Finally, Africa celebrated 3 titles in Rome, one each to South Africa, Tunisia and Zimbabwe: the Africans had won no titles in 2001 and 2003, 4 in 2005 and 2 in 2007. Twenty-five countries appear on the medal table, a record number at the World Championships, with 17 nations taking gold to set another record. Among the leading European countries there were significant variations compared to Melbourne 2007. The biggest leap was made by Hungary, two bronzes won in 2007 and now sporting its best result of this millennium: 6 medals including two golds. The progress of Germany is outstanding too, having more than doubled the number of medals and won four gold: in 2007 the Germans had won zero gold, 3 silver and a bronze medal. Italy, instead, has two medals less than 2007 (when the Italians had won 6 overall, 1-14) but two gold medals more. France has scored the identical number of medals, six, but while in 2007 they had 2 gold (thanks to Laure Manaudou who, at the Foro Italico, was seen on the tribune supporting her last fiancé Fred Bousquets), 2 silver and 2 bronze, in Rome the French climbed the podium to receive 3 silver and 3 bronze. A new entry in the Medal by Country table is Serbia with an impressive tally of three medals, of which two gold medals. Progressing from Melbourne also Russia and Great Britain. From 5 medals (0-2-3) the Russians go to 7 (1 -5 -1); the Britons jump also to 7, including two gold, from 4 (0-1-3). The Netherlands are stepping back from 5 (02-3) to 2 medals, but this time they have a gold. Also going backwards, Poland (from 4 to 1) and Ukraine (from 2 to 0). Minor changes, one medal up or down, for the other countries: i.e., Denmark one medal up (a gold and a silver in Rome, just one bronze in Melbourne); Sweden one medal down (from a gold, a silver and a bronze to a gold and a silver).

2007: tribute – 2009: tribune... Laure Manaudou was the European star of the World Championships in Melbourne. No longer gladiator but spectator On world-record count, Europeans contributed 21 marks to the 43 in Rome, 16 were set by women, the remaining 5 by the men. Britta Steffen (GER) and Federica Pellegrini (ITA) lead with 3 each; then 2 each to Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), Anastasia Zueva (RUS), Paul Biederman (GER) and Liam Tancock (GBR). Europeans swept all women’s freestyle events: Steffen dominated both the 50 and the 100 metres, Pellegrini the 200 and 400, Lotte Friis (DEN) the 800, Alessia Filippi (ITA) the 1500. The other women winners were Gemma Spofforth (GBR) in the 100m backstroke, the unknown (until she won the title) Nadja Higl (SRB) in the 200m breaststroke, Yulia Efimova (RUS) in the 50m breaststroke, the also unknown 15-year-old Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) in the 100m butterfly, Katinka Hosszu (HUN), also a newcomer to celebrity, in the 400m individual medley and the Dutch quartet of the 4x100m freestyle relay.

Among the men have won titles Paul Biederman (GER) in the 200 and 400m freestyle, Daniel Gyurta (HUN) in the 200m breaststroke, Liam Tancock (GBR) in the 50m backstroke, Milorad Cavic (SRB) in the 50m butterfly. Europeans collected both the men’s and the women’s titles in the following events: 200 and 400m freestyle, 200m breaststroke. All-European podiums were recorded in three women’s finals: 400 (1st Pellegrini, 2nd Joanne Jackson, GBR, 3rd Rebecca Adlington, GBR), 800 (1st Friis, 2nd Jackson, 3rd Filippi) and 1500 (1st Filippi, 2nd Friis, 3rd Camelia Potec, ROU) metres freestyle.

THE EUROPEAN WINNERS Paul Biederman was unquestionably the best European man, and the second best of the Championships behind Michael Phelps, whom he defeated in the 200m freestyle. The 22-year-old German set world records in both his wins (few in Rome did not win in world-record time), passing Phelps in the 200m with 1:42.00 and Ian Thorpe in the 400m in

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EUROPE

3:40.07. He also won silver leading off Germany’s 4x100m medley relay. Biedermann (193 cm tall) was born on August 7th, 1986, in Halle, East Germany, where he still resides. When he returned home from Rome, on August 3rd, the 23-year old double world champion and double world record holder was welcomed by hundreds of well-wishers. The second best European man was Milorad Cavic, of Serbia, who won 50m butterfly and was narrowly defeated by Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly. Cavic, in the 100m semi-final, set a short lived world record of 50.01, but he and Phelps improved on that in the final: 49.82 and 49.95, an epoch-making event that went in the American’s favour. Cavic was clearly leading for most of the race but, Phelps, thanks to his irresistible finish and vigorous last strokes, managed to once more touch ahead of him by 0.13 seconds. It had happened in Beijing, last year, when Phelps was “seen” as the winner, by a mere 0.01sec by the automatic timing system: a verdict of which Cavic says: “I came first but the touch pad reacted slower, it was a technology problem”. His words were chosen carefully, at a championships dominated by high-tech suits. Cavic, who was born in Anaheim, California on 31 May 1984, holds both the Serbian and the American nationalities but in sport he has always represented Serbia, or Yugoslavia (Sydney 2000) or Serbia-Montenegro (Athens 2004). An impressive victory was that clinched by Daniel Gyurta of Hungary in the 200m breaststroke where he has defeated all favourites (except for the Japanese Kosuke Kitajima, absent in these World Championships). Gyurta’s vehement finish paid off as he managed to touch ahead of Eric Shanteau (USA) in a Phelps-like fashion, by a mere 0.01 second, in 2:07.64. Another European, Giedrius Titenis, of Lithuania, tied for bronze with Australia’s Christian Sprenger, in 2:07.80. The fifth title among the men was conquered in the 50m backstroke by Liam Tancock (GBR), in 24.04 (WR). The French sprinters – Alain Bernard, Frédrérick Bousquets and Amaury Leveaux got their medals in the 50 and/or 100 metres freestyle but not the one they were after: in fact both gold medal in the sprint events were won by Cesar (nomen omen –your fate in your name – said the ancient Romans) Cielo Filho. Italy’s Filippo Magnini, the 100m freestyle defending champion – also the

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2005 world champion - was disappointing: he clocked the 9th time in the semifinal and was excluded by 0.06 seconds. Federica Pellegrini, who was awarded the FINA Trophy as the best woman (according to the FINA points - Phelps was the best man) and Britta Steffen were unquestionably the best European women: both won two individual titles and set three world records. Moreover, Steffen was the most medalled woman of the Championships, having been a member of two German medal-winning quartets: a silver in the 4x100m freestyle (52.22 in the lead-off leg, temporarily a world

record) and a bronze in the medley relay (51.99 as anchor woman). Steffen won the 50 metres in 23.73 and the 100 metres in 52.07. In both events two other Europeans claimed silver: in the 50 it was the Swede Therese Alshammar, with 23.88, in the 100 the Briton Fran Halsall, in 52.87. Steffen (180 cm tall) was born 16 November 1983, in Schwedt, East Germany. She was a precocious talent and in 1999 she won six titles at the European Junior Championships; the year

Jaked results... Alessia Filippi and Nadja Higl, two of the Old World’s winners

after she won a medal as a member of Germany’s freestyle relay team at the Summer Olympics 2000. At the Beijing Olympics she claimed the 50 and the 100m freestyle titles. Pellegrini dominated both the 200 and the 400 metres freestyle in front of a vociferous home crowd of nearly 15,000. Both her victories were clear cut and both in world record times: in the 200m freestyle she became first to break the 1:53 barrier, winning in 1:52.98; in the I / REUTERS

Photo: MAX ROSS

400 m freestyle she was first woman to crash through the 4-minute wall, with a time of 3:59.15. In the 400, Britons Jackson and Adlington claimed silver and bronze, respectively. After the conclusion of the World Championships Pellegrini celebrated her 21st birthday – she was born near Venice on August 5th 1988. Pellegrini (177 cm tall) is affiliated to the Aniene club of Rome, chaired by Giovanni Malagò, the president of the Rome09 Organising Committee; however she lives and trains in Verona, Northern Italy, where she is coached by Italy’s Head Coach Alberto Castagnetti. Middle distance freestylers Lotte Friis (DEN) and Alessia Fillippi (ITA) won two medals each: Friis took gold in the 800

metres with Filippi in third (and Jackson in second); the Italian won the 1500 metres just ahead of Friis (with Potec in third). Two medals also for the Hungarian Katinka Hosszu in the individual medley: Hosszu, who took part in two Olympics (2004 and 2008), won gold in the 400 metres and took bronze in the 200 metres, in both cases ahead of Kirsty Coventry (ZIM). Hosszu was born on May 3rd,1989, in Hungary. Gemma Spofforth (GBR) surprised everyone when she won the 100m backstroke in 58.12, just 0.06 seconds ahead of the Russian Anastasia Zueva: both swimmers under the previous world record that Zueva had set in semi-final, with 58.48. Born on 17 November 1987 in Shorehamby-Sea, Spofforth came 4th in the 100 m and 9th in the 200 m backstroke at the Beijing Olympics. She is currently a studentathlete at the University of Florida. Yuliya Efimova (173 tall) won gold in the 50m breaststroke in 30.09 (WR). She also took silver in the 100m in 1:05.41. The Russian teenager was born in Grozny, Chechen Republic, Russia on 3 April 1992. She swims for the Volgodonsk Swim Club. Another Eastern European, the almost unknown Nadja Higl, from Serbia, won the 200m breaststroke in 2:21.62, 0.22 seconds ahead of Canada’s Annamay Pierse, one of the favourite in the absence of the world’s number one, the Australian Leisel Jones. This was one of the few final where the world record was not beaten. In about a year Higl amazingly improved her personal best of more than 8 seconds. Higl was born on January 2nd, 1987, in Pančevo, Yugoslavia (now Serbia). At last year’s Olympics, she finished 33rd. She improved from a 2:29 best set in May this year. Another teenager 15-year-old Sarah Sjostrom, of Sweden, claimed the 100m butterfly crown in a world record of 56.06, after having broken Inge de Bruijn’s 2000 mark with a 56.44 effort in the semis. Sjöström was born on August 17, 1993, in Handen, Sweden. Overall the European participation at the 13th FINA World Championships was outstanding, possibly the best ever. by CAMILLO CAMETTI FINA Press Commission Chairman, Italy

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AMERICA

So, how did the Americas do in Rome? They came. They saw. They did pretty well. (with apologies to Julius Caesar)

MenÊs Events The USA won ten of the 16 events contested in Beijing last year. I predicted they would take “eight to ten events” of the 20 up for grabs in Rome. They wound up with a haul of eight. Had Michael Phelps and Aaron Peirsol not suffered upsets that measured 7.0 on the Richter

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recent world record-holders contending for the title. I expected the French – Fred Bousquet, Alain Bernard and Amaury Leveaux – to be tough, just as they were in Beijing, and felt Brazil’s Cesar Cielo,

July’s Cesar... The Brazilian ruled in Rome

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Back in July, the Editor of this magazine asked me to predict how the US team would fare in Rome. My deadline came just before the USA was holding its Trials for Worlds, so my task was doubly daunting: I first had to foresee who would qualify for the high-powered American squad and then, secondly, forecast how these swimmers would perform in Rome. Though Nostradamus need not lie awake at night fearful of being replaced, I performed respectably.

scale, the US would have achieved double digits. Sprint freestyle. Great sprinters seem to be popping up all around the world these days. In Rome, we had events, such as the 50 free, with four current or

Photo: WOLFGAN

This summer’s World Championships were held just shy of one year after the Beijing Games amid a furor over the high-tech, high-priced swim suits that were making a mockery of the world records. As expected, global marks tumbled so often in Rome that even Craig Lord could barely keep count. When the FINA Congress voted overwhelmingly to ban the high-tech abominations beginning next January 1, coaches and swimmers worldwide breathed a collective sigh of relief.

whom I had watched compete for three years at the NCAA Championships, had a good shot at the podium. Cielo was unstoppable in Rome, taking both sprints, the 100 in a world record 46.91, the 50 in 21.08, history’s second fastest time. As they did in Beijing, the French took the next two spots on the podium in both races. Back home in Brazil, a nation celebrated a joyous, tearful son, and the President of the nation received the national swim team at his home. Generations of Brazilians will be inspired and the national swim programme can look forward to new talent walking through its doors. Middle distance and distance: Like every swim aficionado in the galaxy save two, I expected Michael Phelps would own the 200 free. This was a no-brainer. Only former Euro junior champion Paul Biedermann and his coach saw it differently. Turns out, they were right. Biedermann surprised Phelps by pushing the early pace, then breaking away at the 125m mark and lengthening his lead with every stroke on the final lap. When he touched in an other-worldly 1:42.00, he had crushed Phelps’ “untouchable” year-old mark and ripped the American’s cloak of invincibility. Biedermann didn’t fit into my projections for the 400 free either, but he scraped a hundredth of a second from Ian Thorpe’s iconic 7-year-old standard to win in 3:40.07, chased every stroke of the way by Tunisia’s Ous Mellouli and China’s Zhang Lin. Those two plus Canada’s Ryan Cochrane took five of the six available medals in the two remaining distance races. As anticipated, the USA was a nonfactor in the 400, 800 and 1500, failing to earn a single medal. In fact, in the six freestyle events, the Yanks could produce but one medal – Phelps’ silver in the 200. Backstroke. The US has a great backstroke tradition that stretches back some 90 years. This year, several Japanese have vaulted into the previously allAmerican dorsal stratosphere. Selecting the contenders in each event was easy, but I was surprised when the USA could manage only one victory in the three backstroke races: Britain’s Liam Tancock twice lowered the world record in the 50m; Japan’s Junya Koga took the 100m after world record-holder Peirsol finished ninth in the semis, having misjudged the effort needed to make the finals. Peirsol atoned for his error by coming from behind to blast the world record for 200 meters with his 1:51.92, a race that also saw Japan’s Ryusoke Irie swim well under the previous mark.

Back to normal... After missing the 100m final, Aaron Peirsol got everything in the 200m: gold, WR, joy

Brazil’s Guilherme Guido provided some short-lived fireworks for the South American contingent, as the 22 year-old sprinter qualified first in prelims with a 24.49. Unused to occupying such an exalted position, he folded in the semis, swimming half a second slower and finishing 15th. Breaststroke. With former world record-holder Brendan Hansen taking the year off to ponder his future, the Americans faced a major hole in their line-up, though Eric Shanteau and Mark Gangloff did their best to fill it. Going into Worlds, it appeared that Japan – even without Kosuke Kitajima – were the favorites in the 100 and 200 while Brazil looked to score in the 50. As it turned out, Japan was blanked in all three events while Brazil’s Felipe Silva was second in the 50 behind South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh and ahead of Gangloff. Aussie Brent Rickard took the 100 while Shanteau, who topped the semifinals, was fourth. The 200 saw Hungary’s former child phenom, Daniel Gyurta, finally utilize his talents to win his first major international title, al-

beit by the slimmest of margins – onehundredth of a second – over Shanteau. Butterfly. This is Michael Phelps’ stroke, the discipline where this supremely confident young man feels the most confident. Round 2 of Phelps vs Cavic followed the script, with the Baltimore Bullet erasing a large deficit at the halfway mark to become the first man to crack the 50second barrier with his 49.82. Serbia’s (via southern California) Milorad Cavic became the second at 49.95. Phelps sliced half a second off his old mark for 200-meters with a 1:51.51. Brazil’s Kaio Almeida was a strong fourth. Swimming without Phelps, Cavic won the 50. Brazil’s Nicholas Santos took fifth while Venezuela’s Alfred Subirats was seventh. Individual Medley. With Phelps having abandoned the 400 IM and not swimming the 200 the field was wide open for a successor. The pretenders to Phelps’ throne included some of the most versatile swimmers in history, including Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh and the USA’s Ryan Lochte. It was Lochte who emerged from the scrum with the crown, breaking Phelps’ world record in the shorter race with a

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1:54.10. Cseh and Shanteau picked up the silver and bronze medals while Brazil’s Thiago Perreira was fourth. The 400 IM unfolded much the same way, with Lochte and Scott Clary giving the Americans a one-two punch. Cseh hung on for third while once again, Perreira was relegated to the fourth spot. Relays. I expected the American men to win two of the three relays, with France usurping the crown and the record in the 4x100 freestyle event. Surprise! Though all three races were decided by a stroke or less, it was always the Americans who got their hands on the wall first.

comeback), there was a distinct reversal of US fortunes. In fact, just like the American men, the women failed to win a single medal. Indeed, the best female distance swimmer in the Americas today might well be Chile’s Krystal Kobrich-Schimpf, who was a strong fourth in the 1,500. Pellegrini dispatched the British Olympic gold medal duo of Joanna Jackson and Rebecca Adlington in the 400m, with her historic 3:59.15. Denmark’s Lotte Friis was the surprise winner of the 800, while Italy’s Alessia Filippi rode her home pool advantage to victory in the 1500. Backstroke. Three events, three different winners, three world records. China’s Zhou Jing got the gold in a tight final that saw Brazilian Fabiola Molina finish eighth. Britain’s tall, powerful Gemma Spofforth, who has blossomed at the University of Florida, was the upset winner in

the 100m in a 58.12sec world record that will be something of a challenge when Olympic champion Coughlin gets back in the fray. The 200m was the only backstroke race that did not produce a surprise, as Olympic champion Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe (by way of Auburn University) lowered her own global mark to 2:04.84 in winning the gold. American teenager Elizabeth Beisel was third, just behind Russia’s Anastasia Zueva. Breaststroke. With “Lethal” Leisel Jones on cruise control this year and Amanda Beard out of the picture, the breaststroke is, once again, wide open and, like the backstroke, it produced three different winners in the three events contested in Rome. Sixteen year-old Russian Yulia Efimova took the 50 in a world record 30.09, five-hundredths ahead of American Re-

WomenÊs Events

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Toothpaste ads... Rebecca Soni and Ariana Kukors celebrate victory

Photo: WOLFGAN

American women won only two of the 16 events in Beijing – and that was with US superstar Natalie Coughlin, who recently was married and who took a full year off from the sport. We predicted only “one to three” golds for the US women this year and that was spot on: they produced two. As for the rest of the hemisphere, my reading was that little of significance was happening. That view was correct, with the exception of Brazilian flyer Gabriella Silva and Canadian breaststrokers Annamay Pierse and Martha McCabe. Freestyle sprints. You know you’re in trouble when your top sprinter is an arthritic 42 year-old. It matters little that the woman in question is one Dara Torres, who swam in her first Olympic Games in 1984. Though truly a wonder of nature (and hard training) and a harbinger of the future, she’s still 42 and thus far remains unchallenged domestically. Internationally, it’s a slightly different story. Just as she did in Beijing in ’08, Germany’s Britta Steffen rose to the occasion in Rome, posting twin golds in spectacular world-record times. Steffen aside, the Europeans and Aussies are brimming with superb female sprinters. Most experts expected Italy’s Federica Pellegrini to capture the 200 free, but few, if any, anticipated a sub-1:53 swim. The USA’s Allison Schmitt, who made a spectacular debut at last year’s Olympic Trials, was a strong second. Middle-distance and distance. Not very long ago, the US was loaded in the 400, 800 and 1500 meter freestyle. But with the meltdown of Katie Hoff and the abrupt retirement of Kate Ziegler (who appears now to be beginning a low-key

becca Soni. Soni reversed the tables in the 100-meters, winning in 1:04.93 after clocking a world record 1:04.86 in semis. Third went to California high school student Kasey Carlson, a surprise only to those who did not read my preview. The 50 and 100 breast marks lasted only a week as Jessica Hardy, back in the swim after her ban for testing positive last year was reduced from two years to one, blasted both marks in one race. She clocked 29.95 for her first lap, then touched in a 1:04.55 for the 100m. Canadian Annamay Pierse just missed cracking 2:20 in the semi-finals of the 200 breast with a world record 2:20.12. It was a foregone conclusion that the winner in the final would have to break the barrier. Soni was determined she would be the barrier-breaker. Pierse was just as determined not to let her.

Soni blasted from the blocks like the race was 100 meters, not 200. Splitting a jawdropping 1:05.73 at the 100, she continued to build her lead on the third lap. At the final turn she had a 2-1/2 second lead on Pierse, her closest challenger, and was on a 2:18 pace. Then suddenly three monkeys and an elephant, hiding on a balcony, jumped on her back and she began to struggle. At 175 meters she still had the lead but it was down to a second as the field inexorably closed in. At the wall it was… Nadja Higl, an unheralded Serbian, who touched first in 2:21.62, an 8sec season-on-season pb. Pierce followed in 2:21.84 with Austrian Mirna Jukic third and a valiant-but-totallydrained Soni, fourth. Another Canadian, Martha McCabe, finished seventh. Butterfly. Just as no man could win both the 50 and 100m back, breast or fly, so too could no woman achieve that elusive double. Australian Marieke Guehrer took the 50 fly in 25.18 upending world recordholder, Sweden’s Therese Alshammar (25.07), who finished a disappointing

fourth, Brazil’s Daynara DePaula was eighth while the USA was shut out. In the 100m won by Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom in a world mark of 56.06, 20year-old Brazilian Gabriela Silva turned first in 26.41 but dropped back in the second lap, finishing in a fifth-place tie with US Olympian Dana Vollmer in 56.94 – the best performance by a South American woman at Worlds. Schipper couldn’t quite hold off Sjostrom in the 100m, but she was golden over 200m. American Mary Descenza, who led through the two preliminary rounds, setting a world record of 2:04.14, finished a heart-breaking fourth. Individual Medley. The World Championships’ most unlikely winner rocketed to an astounding new world record and, arguably, the most impressive performance in Rome. Arianna Kukors has been a top level swimmer in the US for several years, always swimming well in short course competition but never reaching her potential long course. In fact, Ms K did not even make the American team. She was added only when another swimmer had to drop out. Talk about seizing the moment! Kukors, 20, clocked 2:07.03 in semis to obliterate Rice’s world record of 2:08.45, set winning Olympic gold in Beijing. But Kukors wasn’t done. In the final she took her day-old mark down almost another second to 2:06.15. That marked a best time of some 5sec in a month. The 400 IM featured a rematch between the Beijing gold and silver medallists – Stephanie Rice and Kirsty Coventry, but it was Katinka Hosszu (HUN) who stood in their way. A few seconds off the pace, Americans Elizabeth Beisel and Julia Smith took fifth and sixth. Relays. China flexed its muscles in the relays, taking the 4x100 medley and 4x200 freestyle races in world record times. The Netherlands chopped two seconds off its own standard in the 4x100m freestyle, its only medal in the meet. The US came away with one silver, was way off the mark in the sprint free relay and missed the medley relay final, one of many bizarre outcomes in Rome. By PHILLIP WHITTEN Executive Director of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, United States

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ASIA

China: the perfect 10 (not diving) Has Asia arrived in the fast lane? That depends on who you talk to. China says ‘yes’ but Japan’s head coach says ‘no’ and Korean Park Tae-hwan, Asian swimmer of 2008, must also say ‘no’ after events at the Foro Italico in Rome. The prospects for Asian swimmers looked doubtful before the championships, with the likes of really dim as Japan’s four-time Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima deciding to sit out the Rome world titles while trying to figure out what to do next. Unlike some American, European and Australian swimmers,

who broke many world records at trial events, few Asians wrote their names into the record books at global level. That said, the world-top 10 rankings were full of Asian swimmers, mostly from Japan and China. At the helm of those, Japan’s Ryosuke Irie broke the men’s 200m backstroke world record in May but his time as rejected by FINA because he wore a Descente bodysuit that had not been approved at the time he swam in Australia. The Chinese were by far the most successful Asian swimmers in Rome, with a total of 10 medals, including four golds, two silvers and four bronzes. That marked the second best performance in world championships history for China, after the woeful events of 1994, when the shadow of doping

clouded a much-criticised China team at the same Roman venue. Rome 2009 represented a huge leap compared with the nation’s medal-free efforts at the previous two Worlds, in 2005 and 2007. Japan, including Irie, did not live up to expectations. The country finished the tournament with four medals, including one gold, a slight set back from its 7-medal performance two years ago in Melbourne. One of the names of the 2008 Games, Park showed Korea just how dangerous it is to pin a nation’s hopes on a sole star. The Olympic 400m freestyle champion, affected by the sad suits saga in races that witnessed massive time gains on the clock across the board, missed the cut for all three of his freestyle events. Rising star... Zhang Lin is China’s new superhero, reaching the heights of hurdler Liu Xiang

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Photo: WOLFGANG RATTAY / REUTERS

Park, who did not compete in any FINA-approved competitions since his Olympic victory, arrived in the Italian capital in a relatively low profile. Still he was heavily favored to win the men’s 400m freestyle, on which only China’s Zhang Lin and Tunisia’s US-based 1,500m Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli posted quality times in warm-up tournaments to the Worlds. However, things fell apart in the opening day of the competition when Park, still wearing the pant legs from last year’s Speedo LZR suit, missed the cut in the heats of the eight-length race. Park, South Korea’s first Olympic swim champion, was shocked by his early exit: “I couldn’t get enough rest after the Olympics. I worked hard in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 with no rest. That was the problem.” He also suggested that he struggles in outdoor pools. The swimming competition was held at the Foro Italico under the scorching sun. He had disliked those conditions at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and the 2005 world championships in Montreal, though that stage of his career is hardly comparable. He was around 15 years old at the time. “It’s some sort of a jinx I guess. There was also a lot of pressure on me and I was nervous beforehand,” he said. Park failed to recover and suffered the same fate in the 200 and 1,500m freestyle, refusing as he had to don an 80% to 100% polyurethane suit as his rivals had. When Park failed to stand up for Asian swimming, China’s Zhang, whom Park out-touched to win in Beijing, took over his baton and emerged as a new distance freestyle king in Asia, though it escaped no-one’s notice that after taking bronze in the 400m, Zhang switched out of his LZR and into a Jaked01. After coming third in a 400m final that saw Paul Biedermann (GER), in an arena X-Glide, break Ian Thorpe’s world record, the 22-year-old Olympic silver medallist donned a Jaked01 and demolishing Aussie great Grant Hackett’s world record on his way to victory over 800m: Zhang sliced six-and-a-half seconds off the previous global standard for a 7:32.12 win over Mellouli, also well inside world-record pace, on 7:35.27. “I’m more than five seconds quicker than Hackett’s record and I’m still surprised,” Zhang said after the race. “I can’t believe it.” Zhang has been burdened with high expectations from China to become the first men’s winner at the World Championships upon his arrival in Rome. His loss in the 400m had made him all the more nervous. “Before the final, I told my coach that

Not in the ball Park ... Tae-hwan was far from his Olympic form

I don’t know how to swim, I felt a lot of pressure,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting to win this.” An emotional Zhang cried hard on the podium at the medals ceremony, just as he did in the Water Cube in Beijing last August. But he said the emotions flowing through him were different this time around. “At the Olympics I cried tears of sadness because I lost the gold medal but this time they were tears of joy because this is the first World Championship gold medal for a Chinese man,” he said. Zhang later credited Hackett’s former mentor Denis Cotterell with helping him make his breakthrough. He went to Australia to work with Cotterell in late 2007. Zhang used to stare at a picture of Park in his room every day for motivation, a habit he learnt from swimming phenomenon Michael Phelps who put teammate Ian Crocker’s photo in his locker. Now the Chinese ace is considering an addition to his gallery. “Maybe I’ll put a picture of Hackett in my room because he’s my idol,” Zhang said on his return to China. Zhang’s history-making victory makes him a new hero in China. The number of visitors to his blog rose from under 70,000 before he clinched the gold to more than 1,000,000. The fans and media immediately compared him with Liu Xiang, the star hurdler who won the men’s 110m at the Athens Olympics. The swimmer said he was extremely flattered at being dubbed “Liu in the swimming pool.” “That’s a huge comparison (with Liu Xiang),” he said in a respectful tone. “At least I need an Olympic gold medal to catch him.” Liu has been a high-profile commodity since his heroic victory, but Zhang said he prefers to keep a simple life and did not even planned any celebrations at all. “I just want to focus on my training,” he said. “I want no distractions.” Raised in the outskirts of Beijing in a modest family upbringing, Zhang has been a quiet and humble person in the eyes his coach. “He is really hard-working and seldom gets satiated with what he has achieved,” said coach Chen Yinghong. Those remarks might explain Zhang’s disappointment after the 1,500m final won by Mellouli. Zhang finished fifth while teammate Sun Yang garnered a bronze medal behind Canadian Ryan Cochrane.

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ASIA

Zhang and Sun now head to the 11th National Games in November and may attack Hackett’s world record before the non-textile bodysuits they wore in Rome are finally banned on January 1, 2010 because they enhance performance and make fair comparison with previous generations impossible. Sun, 18, said: “I was expecting a medal and I did it.” He plans to follow in Zhang’s footsteps by travelling to Australia for training next year. Despite the shining shows of the freestyle duo, Chinese swimming head coach Yao Zhengjie was not satisfied with the overall performance of male swimmers. Apart from Zhang and Sun, no one was able to make into finals in other events including Wu Peng, silver medallist on men’s 200m butterfly at the last championships. The same question also bothers Japanese head coach Norimasa Hirai, mentor to Kitajima. Although Junya Koga sealed a surprising victory in men’s 100m backstroke in which American Olympic champion and world record holder Aaron

Photo: WOLFGANG RATTAY / REUTERS

Peirsol failed to make the final, Hirai raised the alert and called his country to produce more elites like Kitajima. “We are slowly slipping behind the top countries in the world,” the 46-yearold told Japanese media after returning home. “We need an elitist mentality across the board.” In the absence of Kitajima, teenage Koga saved the blushes of Japan by winning in a championship record, one of the few exceptions when gold medal was not produced in world record time in Rome. He also won a silver medal, behind Britain’s Liam Tancock in the 50m. “Before the start of the race there was a medal ceremony and when I saw that I had a good feeling and I believed I would win,” Koga said “It’s very strange because I’ve always dreamt about this victory and now it’s happened.” Irie was 4th in the 100m and took silver behind Peirsol in the 200m. “We need to raise our game,” said Hirai. “If we set our sights high enough then naturally you will see an improvement in our level. It’s no good having a couple of crack swimmers. We need everyone to become elite.” Meanwhile, up in the stands with Japanese TV, Kitajima watched his world

records fall to men in shiny suits and declared himself ready to make a comeback: “I was not happy to watch that. “I need to start to train immediately to regain my position.” The resurgent Chinese women won a total of three gold medals, all in world record times. Zhao Jing, 19, clocked 27.06sec to win non-Olympic 50m backstroke final and said: “I’ve been wanting to prove myself since (the Beijing Olympics) and now I’ve done it.” Zhao was one of nine Chinese women to win medals while wearing a Jaked01 suit from the second day of competition. On day one, the Chinese team wore the LZR Racer after having signed a deal with Speedo recently. However, the Chinese were quick to notice which way the wind was blowing at the Foro Italico. Zhao’s teammate Gao Chang, a twotime world silver medallist, took the bronze. “I’m so excited. Let me calm down first,” said a tearful Zhao. “It’s my first world championship and this was beyond my wildest dreams.”

Dressed for the occasion... Zhao Jing on her way to the world crown Sunrise... Junya Koga (left) earned Japan’s only gold medal World-championships debutant Liu Jing also made her dream come true after teaming up with Yang Yu, Zhu Qianwei and Pang Jiaying to capture the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay in a world record of 7:42.08, shaving 0.23sec off the world mark set by Olympic gold medallists Australia last year in Beijing. Then China finished second. “This was my first world championships, and I got a gold medal,” Liu said. “I never dreamed that it was possible. I was so nervous my hand was trembling even in the water.” Liu wasn’t on the silver-medal team in Beijing, and said that the Rome 2009 Chinese foursome was still getting to know each other. “It’s the first time we’ve worked together, but we trust each other,” she said.

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Another new relay team from China also stunned the world. Zhao, Jiao Liuyang, bronze medallist on women’s 100m butterfly, Chen Huijia and 14-yearold Li Zhesi, all teenagers, won the women’s 4x100m medley relay world title in a world record time of 3min 52.19sec. They broke the previous record of 3:52.69 set by Australia in winning Olympic gold in Beijing last August. The victory was sealed by a stunning improvement of almost 3secs by Chen Huija over two lengths breaststroke. Zhao also became the first Asian woman to race inside 59sec as she led off on backstroke. “We all swam so well, we all did a great job today,” said Jiao. “We weren’t paying attention to the other teams we were too far from them. We concentrated on our own race.” The United States sensationally failed to qualify for the final, posting the 10th-fastest time in the heats. The victory somewhat remedies Jiao’s regret of not getting a medal on 200m butterfly which she finished 5th. Teamed with Beijing Olympic champion Liu Zige, the event had held much prom-

ise for China. Liu, battling to find her best form since last August, swam the best 150m of her career, inside world-record pace all the way. She held form until the end, racing inside world-record pace in her Jaked01. But the better last 50m was that defending world champion Jessicah Schipper (AUS), in an adidas Hydrofoil, who surged ahead for a 2:03.41 victory, to Lie’s 2:03.90. It was a sweet revenge for the Aussie, who was unexpectedly relegated to third by Liu and Jiao in Beijing. “I am still happy with my performance because I broke my best time,” said Liu. Japanese women could boast no such happiness: they finished the tournament without a single medal.

by YU YILEI, China Daily, sports editor, China

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Photo: LASZLO

A N A LY S I S

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and bronze medals can be converted to gold in the lead up to London.

Dolphins have work to do for London 2012 The Australian Swim Team arrived into Rome expecting a battle on its hands. After eight extraordinary days in the Foro Italico, some left with their heads held high, others licking their wounds but most thinking the Dolphins have some hard yards to do over the next three years. Rome had been the scene of some famous Australian victories of the past. There were five individual gold medals to John Devitt (100m freestyle) Dawn Fraser (100m freestyle), Murray Rose (400m freestyle), John Konrads (1500m freestyle) and David Theile (100m backstroke) at the 1960 Olympic Games. And further gold to Kieren Perkins (400 and 1500m freestyle) and Samantha Riley (100 and 200m breaststroke) came at the 1994 World Championships. Devitt, the captain of the Australian team in 1956 and 1960, is a legendary Australian swimming statesman – a proud man who witnessed the 2009 Championships from the stands after being awarded the highest accolade in the sport at the world governing body’s celebratory dinner – the FINA Prize. (For a lifetime of dedication to the sport as a swimmer, coach and administrator). But what he and so many other legends of the sport would witness in the sweat box that was swimming’s answer to the Coliseum – would leave the greats of the past shaking in their Speedos (Roma 09 was like no other swim meet in history) – maybe even a case of Circus Maximus revisited. World records, thanks largely to the full body suits, were scattered around the pool deck like confetti at a Vatican wedding – 43 in total – and an era that will be long talked about but quickly forgotten.

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Even before the final world records were consummated, the separation that had the majority of the world’s swimming nations, its swimmers and coaches all rejoicing, had already been signed off: the end of the relationship between the full body suit and a sport that had been in turmoil for far too long. “Swimming is not swimming any more,” was the message the world’s greatest swimmer Michael Phelps gave the Championships – after Germany’s Paul Biedermann beat the Olympic champion in the 200m freestyle. “It is different sport and until we go back to swimming for swimming’s sake then it will never be the same.” Biedermann had already broken Ian Thorpe’s 2001 world mark in the 400m freestyle by just 0.01 seconds on day one of the championships – a record even he admitted would not have been swum without his new generation arena X-Glide. Australia is certainly one leading nation happy to see the back of the full length body suits – happy to go back to knee-length suits as from January 1, 2010 to prepare for the next major onslaught – the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai in 2011 and the London Olympics in 2012. At the end of a meet that saw bumper crowds pack the stadium to watch the gladiatorial combats of names like Phelps, Cavic, Pellegrini, Beiderman, Steffen, Coventry and the stars of the Telstra Dolphins team, Stephanie Rice, Jessicah Schipper, Libby Trickett, Brenton Rickard and Andrew Lauterstein – it was again the USA on top of the gold medal tally, followed by China, Germany and Australia. Rice (silver in the 200IM and bronze in the 400IM), Trickett (bronze in the 100m freestyle) and Lauterstein (fifth in the 100m butterfly) were the talk of the team before the meet, especially with the loss of Beijing medallists Leisel Jones

(resting), Eamon Sullivan and Hayden Stoeckel (injured). But there were unexpected talking points at the conclusion of the meet – especially the improved depth of the men’s middle distance and the emergence of rookies like Tommaso D’Orsogna and Robert Hurley and the re-emergence of Kenrick Monk into the 4x200m freestyle squad that won bronze. In recent years the battle for team supremacy has been a two-horse race between the USA and Australia – but Europe, with Germany, host nation Italy, Hungary and Russia to the fore, is very much on the move. “Put the bodysuit issue to one side, we have some work to do to claw our way back to the top of the pile,” said Australia’s National Head Coach Alan Thompson. “We have slipped down the ladder, I’m not backing away from that and in some respects it is somewhat of an uppercut for our team. In recent years, no matter how the meet is scored Australia has so often been second to the US, whose dominance has also been reined in. “We will go back home, re-adjust some things and continue to move forward towards Shanghai and London. Swimming Australia will finalise its Centres of Excellence Programs, increase our specific camps that our National Youth Coach Leigh Nugent and myself will drive and talk the coaches about the best way to make those steps to get back to where we want to be. “We have some extra funding from the Australian Sports Commission which will greatly assist in our future planning.” Swimming has always and will continue to be the sport that all Australians focus on come the Olympics – it is, after all, the flagship sport of the Australian Olympic Committee. They may well have been two to three gold medals shy of a satisfactory pass – but the signs are there that silvers

Where the race counted ... Aussie Marieke Guehrer fell shy of world-record pace but claimed gold in the 50m butterfly

The eyes have it .... Brenton Rickard got past Kitajima in the 100m breaststroke with a shiny best time

Photo: MAX ROSSI / REUTERS

OCEANIA

There were some well deserved wins and some surprises in the Dolphins medal tally of 18 – four gold, five silver and nine bronze – as well as three world, 16 Commonwealth and 18 Australian records. The medal haul began in the open water with Melissa Gorman causing a major upset on the opening day – lowering the colours of Russian legend Larisa Ilchenko in the five kilometre event. Gorman would go on to contest the 10km before the 800 and the 1500m, where she again qualified for the final, clocking a personal best time. The open water team would finalise its campaign with a hardfought silver medal to Trent Grimsey in the 25km. And in the pool, if ever two Australian swimmers deserved gold medals it was Brenton Rickard (100m breaststroke)

and Jessicah Schipper (200m butterfly). In Australia they are known as “toilers” – hard workers, who roll their sleeves up and sweat away in the trenches – who don’t always get the accolades they so often richly deserve. Always in the background, doing the hard yards, never missing a beat – great competitors who will be the spearheads of the Dolphins march towards London. Rickard gave Australia its first gold medal of the Championships on night two, in a helter-skelter 100m breaststroke final – an event which took to the pool without “the king” Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima – now one of the biggest names in sport in his country. But with the defending champion and four-time Olympic champion making the most of his popularity at home, it left the gold medal door wide open. And it was Rickard, celebrating the end of his 15-year association with coach Vince Raleigh (Rickard will leave the AIS in Canberra and move to Glenn Baker on the Gold Coast to prepare for Shanghai) who grabbed the key and unlocked the treasure. It was a final that Rickard told reporters before the Championships he would win – and he did in a new world record time of 58.58. “This is something I have worked for, I have dreamed about and that I knew I could win. I had done everything right and I had the confidence you need on occasions like this,” said Rickard. “The time doesn’t really matter – it’s the win that counts. The time will one day be broken – but no one will take this away from me,” he said, hugging his gold medal box. There was celebration in the stands with his family and back in the team area when coach and swimmer met for the

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OCEANIA Happy landing... Flyer Jessicah Schipper did not play the bridesmaid’s role this time

BALOGH / Photo: LASZLO

first time – gold medal to show and the world record in tow. Next cab off the rank was Schipper, who trailed in American Mary Descenza (who broke the world record swimming against Schipper in the heat of the 200m butterfly) only to witness Schipper come back and steal the gold medal and the world record in the final. Schipper’s coach Stephan Widmer, who had steered Trickett and Leisel Jones to world records between 2006 and 2008, delivered another world record to his newly-acquired star. After the controversy that surrounded previous coach Ken Wood – who took on the coaching of Schipper’s Chinese opponents for Beijing – it was Widmer’s astute swimming mind and a well thought-out plan that Schipper responded to. It was a coaching switch that had the golden touch for Schipper, who despite her victory under Wood in Melbourne in 2007, had so often been the bridesmaid on the Australian teams since 2004. She had followed Australia’s previous “Madam Butterfliers” Susie O’Neill and Petria Thomas through the ranks – setting her first world record in 2006 and finally it was her time to shine. Schipper timed to race to perfection to rattle her opponents – including the Chinese – to deliver right on time. “I’m just so happy

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and I can’t talk more highly enough of Stephan – his plan worked to perfection and I was just happy to be able to deliver it,” said Schipper. Sprenger had produced the biggest surprise of the Championships for the Dolphins – a new world record in the semi-final of the 200m breaststroke and it came just moments after Schipper’s world mark. Swimming alongside team mate and 100m champion and record holder Rickard (who had almost missed the cut after a sluggish heat swim) Sprenger sat on Rickard’s shoulder and pounced over the final stages to stop the clock at 2:07.31. The final would see Hungarian Daniel Gyurta take gold in 2:07.60 with Sprenger sharing the bronze in 2:07.80 with Lithuanian Giedrius Titenis. Rickard, silver in Melbourne in 2007 and silver in Beijing last year was fifth. Australia’s final gold in the pool came thanks to comeback queen Marieke Guehrer, the star of the FINA World Cup series this year – a 2004 Olympic backstroke rookie – who really stole the show from world record holders Therese Alshammar and Marleen Veldhuis – who finished out of the medals. Guehrer did not believe she had actually touched the wall first. “I suppose the big thing in the final is it comes down

REUTERS

to how you attack it mentally more than anything else,” said Guehrer, who did not believe she had won the race and thought it must have been a mistake. “They say racing is 99 per cent mental and one per cent physical. I would definitely agree with that. After the times those girls did last night, Marleen (Veldhuis) and Therese are great racers, I have to say I’m incredibly surprised that I ended up beating them.” In the end it was the fastest swim meet in the history of the sport. The Dolphins are realistic about the future – a future that Alan Thompson knows is bright. One of the world’s most astute and most respected head coaches knows his team has the talent and determination to get back among the best in the world. January 1, 2010 cannot come quick enough. By IAN HANSON Managing Director Hanson Media Group Australia


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AFRICA

Could have been better Struggling with the scarcity of elite swimmers, the African continent could not fully take advantage of the clear setback of the Americas in Rome (9 world titles and 11 medals fewer compared to 2007) and of Oceania (6 titles and 5 medals fewer than in Melbourne). With eight medals, 3 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze, the African elite could have done better in Rome, even if the total of medals is better than it was in Melbourne in 2007 (5 medals: 2 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze). That latter tally was arrived at after two medals were taken back (1 gold on 800 m and 1 silver on 400 m) from Tunisian Oussama Mellouli due to a positive test taken on 30 November 2006 at the US Open, more than three months before the World Championships of Melbourne 2007. Apart from the South African Sébastien Rousseau, coming in 7th in 200m butterfly, in 1:54.51, the African participation in Rome did not offer any great revelations. African swimmers attained 20 places in finals and those all from swimmers representing three countries: South Africa 8, Tunisia 1, and Zimbabwe 1. Furthermore, ever since 2003, it has been the same African swimmers (Oussama Mellouli, Kirsty Coventry, Roland Schoeman, Gerhard Zandberg and Cameron Van Der Burgh) who ensure that Africa is among the winners at the FINA World Championships. There was a growth in the number of finalists (20 in Rome vs.16 in Montreal and 15 in Melbourne) and in the African records broken (29 in Rome vs. 13 in Montreal and 18 in Melbourne). The Tunisian Oussama Mellouli achieved his best result ever at a World Championship: with 1 gold and 2 silver medals, a result that made up for the woes of 2007 and was testimony to his hard work at USC in America since 2002. Mellouli reinforced his supremacy in 1,500m freestyle by adding the world title

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to his Olympic crown. He will need to win in London 2012 to be held in similar light to such 1,500m greats as Vladimir Salnikov (RUS) and Australians Kieren Perkins and Grant Hackett. Mellouli made Tunisia the sixth nation to have won the 1,500m freestyle crown, most of those having gone to Australia. Mellouli clocked two of the fastest time ever recorded this summer, 14:38.01 in Pescara at the Mediterranean Games, and 14:37.28, an African record and second-best ever, in Rome. That left Hackett’s 2001 world record of 14:34.56 as the only surviving global standard from the pre2008 “fast-suits” era. In 400m and 800m freestyle, the Tunisian Olympic champion won two shining silver medals. In both events, he was defeated by men who set world records: Paul Biedermann (GER) and Zhang Lin (CHN). Mellouli also managed to become the second best performer of history in 400m and 800m freestyle with 3:41.11 and 7:35.27. In 400m freestyle, Mellouli showed that he could be a fierce opponent by the 2012 Olympic Games, having improved his African record of 3:43.50 of Beijing 2008 on two occasions: 3:42.71 in Pescara and 3:42.11 in Rome. Coventry (ZIM) was successful in managing her post-Olympic year after her outstanding Olympic Games in 2008. Like Mellouli, she was one of the few Olympic champions to defend her title in Rome,

namely in 200m backstroke, in which she took down the world record in 2:04.81, the fourth long-course world record of her career. Coventry added a silver medal in the 400m medley, on 4:32.12, far from her African record of 4:29.89 and behind champion Katinka Hosszu (HUN). In 100m backstroke and 200m medley, the USbased Zimbabwean swimmer had poor starts and fell shy of her 2008 best times. On the whole, however, Coventry did better than in Melbourne 2007 (2 silver medals). The South-African performance was successful in terms of the number of finalists (11), while 23 African records were broken, in keeping with, if not a little behind, the fast-suits trend. The swimmers of Pretoria attained three medals altogether: 1 gold and 2 bronze, like in 2007, but lower in quality (2 gold and 1 bronze in Melbourne). Van Der Burgh was the most visible South African swimmer. In Rome, he capitalised on a fine FINA World Cup 2008 (25m) season, breaking two world records in 50m breaststroke (26.67 in the final and 26.74 in the semis) on the way to becoming a world champion for the first time. Van Der Burgh also proved that he could compete successfully in an Olympic event, claiming bronze in the 100m breaststroke in 58.95. The other South African swimmer to make his way to the podium was Zandberg: defending champion, he finished

Africa overseas... Kirsty Coventry and Oussama Mellouli were honed in the US while Cameron Van Der Burgh (left) learned valuable lessons from Europe and Japan

third in the 50m backstroke with a new African record of 24.34. Zandberg, champion in 2007, had also been bronze medallist in 2003 in Barcelona. Among Africans who did not fare well in Rome was South African Roland Schoeman, who missed the finals of the 50m and 100m freestyle and the 50m butterfly after having been world champion in 50m butterfly in 2007 and double world champion in 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly in 2005. Lyndon Ferns (RSA), Jean Basson (RSA) and Jason Dunford (KEN) confirmed their Olympic finalist positions by obtaining, respectively, the 7th place in 100m freestyle (47.79), 6th in 200m freestyle (1:45.67) and 6th in 100m butterfly (50.78) setting, in passing, new African records. George Durand (RSA) finalist of the 200m backstroke (8th) improved his continental record from 1:58.61 to 1:55.75. As for the relays, the South African selections of 4x100m and 4x200m free style got into the finals, just like in Beijing 2008 by setting new African records: 3:11.93 and 7:08.01. Success among African women was poor. Among South Africans, Wendy Trott was the only finalist, in the 800m freestyle (7th) and 1500m freestyle (6th) with a new African record (16:08.96), while better results were expected of her teammates, Jessica Pengelly (23th in 200m breaststroke and 24th in 200m IM) and Katheryn Meaklim (26th in 200m IM and 28th in 200m butterfly). Eight other swimmers finished in TOP20, Graeme Moore (RSA) double semi-finalist of 50m free (21.72) and 50m buttterfly (23.25), Darian Townsend (RSA) 11th in 200m IM (1:58.50), Ahmed Mathlouthi (TUN) 13th in 800m freestyle (7:55.43) and 20th in 400m freestyle (3:47.83), Riaan Schoeman (RSA) 13th in 400m IM (4:15.50), Neil Versfeld (RSA) 13th in 200m breaststroke (2:09.61, new African record), the Kenyans David Dunford semi finalist in 50m freestyle (21.89) and Achien Ajulu-Bushell (15years) 20th in 50m breaststroke (31.30) and Chad Leclos (RSA,17years) 17th in 200m butterfly (1:56.90). by CHAKER BELHADJ FINA Press Commission Member, Writer of Le Quotidien, Tunisia

Photo: REUTER

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Men Eight-time Olympic champion in Beijing Michael Phelps triumphed in five of six events, and he emerged from Rome as the most successful swimmer of the world championships. Phelps was followed closely by two-time gold medallist Paul Biedermann, the German who defeated Phelps in the 200m freestyle in world-record time. European men claimed five gold medals, a figure that matches the combined total of gold medals gained at Athens 2004 (1), Beijing 2008 (1) and at the Melbourne World Championships in 2007 (3).

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AMERICA 10

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ASIA 2

IV. AFRICA 2

V. OCEANIA 1

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Photo: ALESSANDRO BIANCHI / REUTERS

Coming up... Europe won more titles than in Montreal (8) and in Melbourne (7) combined

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Freestyle

Freestyle

Every cloud has a silver lining 50m

100m 1.Cesar CIELO FILHO (BRA) 21.08 CR

The French sprinters took five medals in Rome, alas, none of them gold. The same metal made some athletes happy and some frustrated...

2. Frederick BOUSQUET (FRA) 21.21

3. Amaury LEVEAUX (FRA) 21.25

1

Want to know something? At the Beijing Olympic Games and at the world championships in Rome, nineteen medals were distributed in the men’s sprint events, over 50m, 100m and 4 x 100m and France took nine of them! No other nation came close. Brazil, with Cesar Cielo (four medals), and the United States, with Michael Phelps (three), lag far behind. The only problem is that out of these nine medals, only one is gold, that of Alain Bernard in Beijing in the 100m. In Rome, the French sprinters were unable to make the best of their enormous potential. The Blues had been considered as the great favourites for the 4 x 100m relay crown. A year after the bitter defeat suffered at the hands of the Americans in China, the French arrows were at their best and had a fantastic chance to take revenge: five swimmers had been able to swim 100m in less than 48 seconds! However, in the final, all

they could reap was a disappointing bronze medal behind the teams of Phelps&Co. and the young Russians. A few days later, the French head coach, Christian Donzé said: “We went off track.” Why? Simply because some of the French swimmers were unable to “deliver the goods”; that is, Frédérick Bousquet as the last relay swimmer, but also Grégory Mallet, who was favoured over Amaury Leveaux for the final. The latter was probably not in the best shape of his life, but no doubt his experience would have been precious when it was time to challenge the Americans. Obviously, the French staff took a bad decision, which cost them quite a lot. The other great disappointment for France was the silver medal of Alain Bernard in the 100m. The Olympic champion had had such excellent results during the season that it was hard to imagine that anyone could stop him from

winning in Rome. Even more so after Eamon Sullivan and Michael Phelps withdrew from the blue ribband event. Cesar Cielo was, of course, considered his most dangerous rival, but the experts believed him to be more at ease on 50m. The Brazilian’s extraordinary start and his first supersonic length destabilised the Frenchman. Bernard, who wanted to record the same triple victory as Alexander Popov (by winning the European championships, the Olympic Games and the world championships in a row), seemed extremely disheartened as he confessed: “It was a terrible blow for me, indeed...”. But quickly, he added that we should count on him at the Games of London in 2012. “You cannot be satisfied with a second place”, explained the swimmer trained by Denis Auguin. For the relay and for Bernard, the question is: will they ever get another chance? In contrast to sadness with silver and bronze, Frédérick Bousquet, who had never won anything alone at the highest of world levels, silver was happiness itself. Vice-world champion in the 50m behind his Auburn teammate Cesar Cielo, the oldest of the French sprinters finally found his form when it counted, at 28. With his surprising bronze medal in the 100m and the reward of the relay, Laure Manaudou’s partner won more medals than any other French swimmer in Rome. Who would have believed that a few months ago? Earlier, Bousquet had been considered as a relay swimmer who was unable to live up to expectations in solo races. But in Rome, backed by the confidence of suit, everything changed. “Finally, I can express myself and control the stress of important events,” he said. Just like Bernard, Bousquet wants to continue till the London Games. And he is planning to try his hand again at butterfly. The most touching medal, the one that brought the greatest joy to the

1. Cesar CIELO FILHO (BRA) 46.91 WR

2. Alain BERNARD (FRA) 47.12

3. Frederick BOUSQUET (FRA) 47.25

French team was undoubtedly that of Amaury Leveaux in the 50m. The Olympic silver medallist would normally have been considered a natural candidate for honours in Rome. However, after a roller-coaster season and a difficult start to the championships, his form was uncertain, and so was he. Not only was he left out of the final relay, but he learned the day after that his father had passed away. “I almost went home”, the swimmer from Mulhouse said. He admitted that it was his family and his relatives who convinced him to stay in Rome. “This medal is also for my father”, added Leveaux, who confirmed his enormous talent and astonishing intellectual capacities in Rome. Naturally, he would have loved to get a gold medal, just like the other French swimmers. But next year at the European Championships of Budapest, who would dare to get in their way?

by JEAN BAPTISTE RENET L’Equipe, France

Air France ... The flight to gold was delayed for Bernard

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200m

400m

2. Michael PHELPS (USA) 1:43.22

3. Danila IZOTOV (RUS) 1:43.90

Always there... This time Izotov brought a medal for Russia in the middle distance events

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Magazine

Paul Biedermann was quoted as saying that meeting the German Pope in Rome was “ten times better than winning his two gold medals” at the world championships. Blame it on poetic tabloid license but within an hour of that line appearing on the website of Europe’s biggest selling daily paper, the gladiator who felled Thorpe and Phelps while wearing a new strength of chain-mail told a Swiss paper that nothing could match his exploits in the pool.

No wonder. The 22-year-old coached by Frank Embacher in Halle, gave earning that he and his arena X-Glide suit were in lethal form on day one of racing at the Foro Italico: he jetted past rivals on a trajectory that took him 0.01sec beyond the Thorpedo’s 400m free world record. Two days later, he employed the battling tactics of the World of Wart computer games he likes to play in his down time and took the scalp of the greatest Olympian in history. Insult was added to injury when Biedermann not only beat Olympic champion Michael Phelps in the 200m freestyle but took an axe to the world record. Biedermann did not figure in the podium predictions in a vote of LEN Magazine experts prior to Rome. He will next time. Those experts can be forgiven. They cannot have known that the German would take a sledgehammer to his best times in quite such an aggressive way as he did: his best times were confined to history by more than 6sec over 400m and more than 4sec over 200m. If Biedermann’s performances hammered home to FINA why the “fast suits”

must go, as they will from January 1, 2010, then the champion was happy to back up his deeds with words. When asked what he would do with a suit that had helped to make him famous but would be redundant within months, the likeable and hardworking German replied: “I will keep it in a bag and mark it ‘Warning: It should serve as a memory of what can happen if we do not look at what technology can do in our sport, if FINA does not control [it].” Arena, maker of the X-Glide, had said something similar to FINA back in February 2008. The message fell on deaf ears back then. A 1:42.00, blistering 200m ahead of Phelps – and the words expressed afterwards – did the trick. Bob Bowman, US head men’s coach and mentor to Phelps, sent a message to FINA post-race: the greatest asset in world waters will not race in world waters again until the suits are gone; and please mark all the world records of 2008-09 as “artificially aided”, including 10 of Michael’s. Bowman said: “They [FINA] can expect Michael not to swim until then, because I am done with this ... this is a shambles. They better do something or they are going to lose the guy that fills all these seats. We’ve lost the history of the sport. Does a 10-year-old boy in Baltimore want to break Paul Biedermann’s record? Is that going to make him join swimming? It took me five years to get Michael from 1:46 to 1:42 and this guy has done it in 11 months. That’s an amazing training performance. I’d like to know how to do that.” It is not the case, of course, that Biedermann came from nowhere. He was triple European junior champion in 2004, over 200, 400 and 800m freestyle in Lisbon in 2004 and has long been a talent waiting to pounce. But his gains in Rome were sensational. Biedermann, 23 the week after Rome waved goodbye, led both his winning races practically from the start. But the most impressive feature was the finish: 1.27sec faster than the pace of Ian Thorpe coming down the last 50m of a 400m freestyle; then 0.81sec quicker than Phelps on the last of four lengths. Two of the fittest and greatest finishers in swimming history blown away. “The suits make a difference,” Biedermann said. “I think 2secs or so on the 400m, maybe a little more. My coach says about 0.7sec each 50m.”

One plus one... Paul Biedermann shocked the world by destroying two legendary WRs

1. Paul BIEDERMANN (GER) 3:40.07 WR

2. Oussama MELLOULI (TUN) 3:41.11

3. Lin ZHANG (CHN) 3:41.35

He recalled the moment he took the X-Glide out of its box: “I thought it smelled a bit. I took it to the pool and to training and dived in ... My coach said ‘what are you doing ... you’re so fast!” I just jumped in and felt it was like a speedboat. I just lay on top of the water and the suit was really fast ... normally you move your arms and legs in a race and at some point you are waiting to go down, go under,” said Biedermann making a motion with his arm indicating that fatigue causes the body to sink and create more drag. The sinking feeling at the end of races is common to all but the

Photo: MAX ROSSI / REUTERS

1. Paul BIEDERMANN (GER) 1:42.00 WR

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Freestyle

Freestyle

Biedermann suited for felling giants

fittest athletes with the best natural and honed angle of buoyancy in the water are those that win races. “With this suit you move your arms and legs and that’s all that happens the whole way,” said Biedermann. The whole way to confining Thorpe and Phelps to history? “History in the suit,” he replied, with a smile. He noted that Germany’s disadvantage of 2008 was its advantage in 2009: “Last year, it was Speedo. This year, it’s Arena. I hope there will be a time when I can beat Michael Phelps without these suits. I hope next year. I hope it’s really soon. I have deep respect for him. I hope

we can meet each other in races again and that one day we can talk some day and talk about this and have a normal conversation.” After Rome, Biedermann was heading for a three-week break before joining the German team for a week of bonding at Potsdam’s excellence centre for “everything but not swimming”. Germany would be a force to reckon with at European Championships in Budapest in 2010. “We have a great spirit in our team now. There’s camaraderie with each other. Last year we didn’t have the suits that we felt comfortable in. Now we have no mental blockage.” London 2012 is the long-term target, via defending his 400m European title and seeking to gain the 200m title in Budapest. When textile suits return, he still had room for improvement, with better starts, turns and technique. “The first time [race] will be really difficult,” said Biedermann. “You look at the times here and say ‘wow’ but we have to keep in mind that the suit really, really helped a lot. If you think about [give it enough thought] and you know where it [belongs] is, I don’t think this will be a psychological problem for me.” Asked if he looked forward to the rematch with Biedermann, Phelps said: “It’ll be fun when swimming gets back to swimming.”

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800m

1500m 1. Lin ZHANG (CHN) 7:32.12 WR

2. Oussama MELLOULI (TUN) 7:35.27

3. Ryan COCHRANE (CAN) 7:41.92

History has a way of entwining the past with the present and the future, for better or for worse, and the irony of the time and the place when China finally found a man capable of keeping the world at bay in the race pool was lost on few. Fifteen years after the “Golden Flowers”, or rather their coaches, doctors and political controllers, heaped shame on the house of FINA at the Foro Italico, China showed a new face at the Rome’s premier aquatic sports venue.

The face was that of Zhang Lin, an athlete not locked behind a Chinese Wall and emerging from nowhere to sprint a surprise but an Olympic silver medallist who turned to the outside world for help, found it in the form of Grant Hackett’s mentor and then, with the undeniable help of a legal form of performance enhancement set about demolishing the Australian’s 800m freestyle world record. That Zhang has worked hard and smart is not in question. Nor is the fact that the suit he was wearing, a J01, was significant to the result. And here is how we know: first length – 26.54sec; last length – 25.99. Take a look back at Hackett and Thorpe in their prime: Hackett’s 2003 and 2005 victories had respective firstand last-length of 26.31 – 28.52, and 25.99 – 28.21. In 2007, Oussama Mellouli (later disqualified after it was discovered that he had failed a doping test for a stimulant taken to stay awake while

studying for exams) stopped the clock first with first and last-length splits of 27.55 – 27.56. And that last thunderous length of Thorpe’s in the 400m (not as far as 800m) world record he set at 3:40.08: 25.33 – 27.04; compared with Paul Biedermann’s 3:40.07, when he set out in 26.29 and returned home in 25.77. The pattern is clear: as Biedermann and others noted, there is no sense of sinking or fatigue as the race progresses in a fast suit. The pain kicks in when the swimmer climbs out of the water. Since pain is there in the human make-up for good reason, the dulling of it can surely be dangerous. Zhang’s homecoming speed was jaw-dropping. His was the 22nd out of an eventual 43 world records. The time: 7:32.12, more than 6secs off Hackett’s best from 2005, of 7:38.65. The Chinese swimmer was behind world-record pace for a while but over the last 300m he tore

Distinctive on distance... Mellouli earned a gold and two silvers

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Freestyle

Freestyle

Last-length timewarp

LEN

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Photo: MAX ROSSI / REUTERS

the mark apart wearing a suit that adopted after finishing third in the 400m in a LZR behind two XGlides, one on Biedermann the other on Mellouli. That 400m final went without Olympic champion Park Tae-hwan (KOR), who wore leggings no longer at the cutting edge of speed and was destroyed by his failure to make the final of the 400m. He clocked a solid 3:46, a time that would have made it through easily at any other moment in history. In Melbourne 2007, just one man broke 3:46 in heats. In Rome: 10. Park was 12th – and out. Zhang and China caught out quickly: day one saw the entire team race in LZRs. Day two saw all but one swim in Jaked01s, despite a newly signed contract with Speedo. Over 800m, the silver went to Mellouli, in 7:35.27 and well inside previous world record, the bronze to Ryan Cochrane (CAN), on 7:41.92. Zhang, coached by Chen Yinghong in China and Denis Cotterell in Australia, said: “I felt a lot of pressure, I didn’t know how to swim at this level but my coach told me you just have to do your best. I didn’t have any strategy. I just tried to swim as fast as I could. I didn’t think I’d swim 16 seconds faster (than in qualifying).” The efforts over 800m and the scorching heat in Rome, noted as problematic in longer events by those in bodysuits, appeared to have taken a toll on the distance men by the time the 1,500m heats came round on last-Saturday morning. There was no repeat of the Beijing blast that took a sub-14:50 to make the Olympic final in Beijing. The final in Rome was just as fast at the top end, however. Olympic champion Mellouli played a waiting game, sitting level with the shoulders of Zhang, Cochrane, Sun Yang (CHN) and Federico Colbertaldo (ITA) until just after half-way. By 900m, Zhang, Mellouli and Cochrane had made a break but a couple of lengths later Zhang looked like he was struggling, his stroke breaking down, his rhythm gone. He would gradually fade out of the race for medals. Mellouli sensed his pain and dug deeper. Cochrane tried to hang on but in the

1.Oussama MELLOULI (TUN) 14:37.28

2. Ryan COCHRANE (CAN) 14:41.38

3. Yang SUN (CHN) 14:46.84

closing 200m it was obvious that the Olympic champion had more reserves. Not quite enough, however, to get to Hackett’s monumental 14:34.56. In 14:37.28, Mellouli took the crown ahead of Cochrane, on 14:41.38, the bronze going to Sun Yang (CHN) in 14:46.84 after a 26.65 last 50m sprint in response to a late challenge from home hope Federico Colbertaldo (ITA), who could not handle Sun’s apparent lack of fatigue: the Italian swam a terrific last length but was 1.23sec slower than the Chinese challenger. Mellouli said: “After the Olympic gold in Beijing I went back to my country and they celebrated me as a national hero. I think it will be the same this time.” The race confirmed that just two world records survived the era of nontextile suits by the time the curtain closed at the Foro Italico: the 1,500m standards of Hackett and Kate Ziegler of the US. Hackett was so stunned when he received a text from his mother-in-law to confirm a 14:37 win for Mellouli that he texted back to ask her if she was sure that wasn’t the heats time. The Australian was denied a third Olympic 1,500m crown by Mellouli last year but given that his 14:34.56 survived the fastsuit attack, three Games and more may stand between his 2001 standard and the man who finally moves the 30-lap pace on.

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50m

200m 1. Liam TANCOCK (GBR) 24.04 WR

2. Junya KOGA (JPN) 24.24

3. Gerhard ZANDBERG (RSA) 24.34

On the last day that the swimming planet raced each other in bodysuits (no world meet during the rest of 2009) before a ban comes into force on January 1, Britain’s Liam Tancock squeezed into an adidas Hydrofoil and sped to a scorching 24.04sec world-title win in Rome. He matched his statement in the water with another on lane: the suit helped, the time on the clock reflected that, but the win was his and in 2010 he would do all he could to prove himself the fastest backstroke swimmer the world has ever seen in his own skin.

Said the Exeter City football fan: “In 2010, I want to be the fastest man in the world again, in whatever suit it is, no matter what time. It’s just an achievement. The time isn’t the ‘b-all and end-all’ [meaning, is not everything]. To be honest, I’ve really been concentrating on the 100m [the Olympic event]. It’s great news that things are changing [on suits] - I think that 99% of swimmers are happy about it and I’m one of them.” Tancock, 24, had proved himself time and again on sprint backstroke, winning bronze medals in the 50m and 100m at Melbourne 2007 in a textile suit. More often than not, in common with several other leading backstroke aces, he wears leggings. In Rome, he got a great start, his reaction time the best in the final barring

that of Junya Koga, the Japanese winner of the 100m in the lane next to him. What the Loughborough student and aquatic pupil of coach Ben Titley gained in the first 20m, he held on to until crashing into the touchpad for a most emphatic victory. If you had to point out where the suit had helped, it would be in that most visible of factors that affect sprinters in the closing metres of the one-length dash: where Tancock’s stroke might have shortened as the wall approached, in Rome, the Brit looked unstoppable and smooth all the way home. The clock stopped 0.04sec inside the world record that he had established in the semi-finals a day earlier to celebrate his brother Ryan’s birthday. Tancock’s victory reflected the LEN Magazine poll’s 55% faith in him as the likely winner in Rome. We can expect Tancock to continue to be a major player on sprint backstroke –

1.Aaron PEIRSOL (USA) 1:51.92 WR

Backstroke

Backstroke

Plenty in Tancock’s tank for textile future

2. Ryosuke IRIE (JPN) 1:52.51

3. Ryan LOCHTE (USA) 1:53.82

Liam-hearted... Tancock cracked the WR in the 50m

and perhaps medley too – over the coming three years to London 2012. Success at a home Games and the fame that

his own website. “Ever since that day I have wanted to visit Sydney, Get a Private Number Plate and drive a Lamborghini. So far I have managed to visit Sydney, and get a Private Number Plate, but I haven’t quite got the Lamborghini…. YET!” He may not have to wait much longer.

would follow may just well grant Tancock a dream come true beyond his element. “When I was younger I got a post card from Australia. In the background there was a view of Sydney Harbour with both the famous Bridge and the Opera house and in the foreground was a yellow Lamborghini with the number plate L1AM,” Tancock explains in a tale told on

Rogan in the back-yard 1. Junya KOGA (JPN) 52.26 CR

2. Helge MEEUW (GER) 52.54

3. Aschwin WILDEBOER (ESP) 52.64

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There was almost no time for the Austrian Federation to celebrate its sole worldchampionship medal at Rome. The bronze won by 200m breaststroker Mirna Jukic in impressive style was suddenly overshadowed by a scandal involving Markus Rogan, the long-time idol who had experienced a real slump at the championships (only 11th in the 100m back, 27th in the 200m, 33rd over 50m, no personal best times).

The former multiple European champion (backstroke, medley) and short-course world champion, and still world short-course record holder, was left injured (bruises to the face, sore ankle) after a brawl at a beach-disco in Ostia near Rome, where he had dined out with Austrian teammates by way of waving goodbye to the world championships. While Rogan insists he got beaten by four security guards in a backyard, the owner of the restaurant-disco-enterprise delivered a contradicting story, suggesting that Markus – a regular and welcomed guest in the two years he had been training in Rome – was drunk, had been led out by the bouncers but had had a bad fall as he attempted to re-enter the venue. The owner backed up his words by stating that all events were caught on a security video-camera. While Markus stayed for two days and nights under observation in a private clinic in Monte Mario, overlooking the Foro Italico, his Vienna-based lawyer, Schiavon, reported the in-

cident to the Police. They hope, however, to settle the matter out of court as they seek financial recompense on several levels. Whatever happened in the Ostia-Disco, whatever the judicial outcome may be, the Rome 2009 world titles (and most likely his astonishing carrier too) ended for Rogan not only in pain but in a fall from grace. He may even lose his endorsement with sponsor Raiffeisen, which was anything but amused when the news of this high-profile scandal broke. Moreover, Rogan lost all favour with a public that had pardoned him his celebrity high-life exposure, for the love stories and for his occasional strange behaviour, as long as was perceived as the Goldfish, or Silver Pike, of an emerging swimming nation. Rogan’s swimming life, in which he collected 27 medals of different colours, seems to have come to an end in Rome on a sour note. Sadly, the bitter taste was also left for Mirna Jukic to taste, the success of a swimmer who had shared so many highlights with Rogan overshadowed by his swan song. Her medal, as well as her love story with

Photo: REUTERS

100m Austrian Top 30-Tennis-Pro Jürgen Melzer, dwindled to a side story in the wake of the Rogan affair. Her trainer-father, Zeljko Jukic, was, unsurprisingly, angered by events: “It´s ridiculous, unbelievable. Now it’s all Markus, who had done nothing here in swimming. It’s his personal problem, nothing else – what a fuss! And nobody talks about the only medal we have won. It’s a shame!” His outrage was shared by Paul Schauer, President of the Austrian Federation, who was eager to organise a big reception for Mirna during the national championships in St. Pölten to make amends. At the Foro Italico, only the Jukic siblings, Mirna and Dinko, immigrants from Croatia, had lived up to high expectations. Almost the whole Austrian team fell short, above all Markus Rogan, who was the talk of Rome for all the wrong reasons. Bad news is not always good news for those outside the tabloid press. In other words: time to move on with new role models.

by JOZEF METZGER Sport in Wien, Austria

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Just keep rolling

200m

50m 1. Cameron VAN DER BURGH (RSA) 26.67 WR

2. Felipe Franca SILVA (BRA) 26.76

3. Mark GANGLOFF (USA) 26.86

100m

42 Magazine

Practically minutes after winning a silver medal at the Olympic Games in Athens at the tender age of 15 – having beaten the then world record holder Brendan Hansen among others – Dániel Gyurta played a role in the soap opera with the highest ratings in Hungary Among Friends. He also smiled at us from covers of ladies’ magazines and cooking weeklies, sometimes even sports magazines. It was true to say: he was everywhere.

However, he could not make it to the World Championships in Montreal in 2005. He dropped back seven seconds from his time in Athens, hopelessly trying to get back in Olympic shape. Gyurta met the fate of athletes having achieved enormous success while very young: he was simply incapable of handling his sudden popularity and those around him were also unable to reduce the pressure on the teenage boy. As he made extremely mature and interesting statements at the age of 15 – in this respect he is very much like the young British diving genius, Thomas Daley – 1. Brenton RICKARD the media just adored him. (AUS) The facts mentioned above 58.58 WR may have been the reason why it took Gyurta five years to get back among the world’s best swimmers. “I will certainly not make those mistakes again”, 2. Hugues DUBOSCQ the new world champion said in (FRA) Rome. “I have learned a lot from 58.64 that period, among other things how to handle the huge media interest that is predictable in such situations, and how to relate to the sudden emergence 3. Cameron of many new “friends”, quite a VAN DER BURGH few of whom disappeared at my (RSA) first bad patch years ago…” 58.95 Gyurta was struggling with a major bad patch in 2005 and

1.Daniel GYURTA (HUN) 2:07.64

Breaststroke

Breaststroke

The moment of truth... After five long years Daniel Gyurta returned to the top

2. Eric SHANTEAU (USA) 2:07.65

3. Giedrius TITENIS (LTU) 2:07.80

3. Christian SPRENGER (AUS) 2:07.80

Photo: LASZLO

2006. Of course, it did not help that his body was still in the process of change, so it was extremely difficult to adjust the unique technique worked out by his coach, Sándor Széles, to the new parameters. As his back was growing, after a while he had to lift 6 to 8 litres (i.e. as many kilos) when emerging from the water, with every stroke he made, so his movement had to be modified. Two short-course European championship titles indicated that he was on the right track. That also helped him psychologically, but he could only make it to the finals at the World Championships in Melbourne and at the Olympic Games in Beijing, he was still unable to win a medal. (In Beijing he broke the European record during the qualifying heat, but later he could not clock a really good time in morning finals). There were several attempts to make Gyurta leave his coach, but he stood by

him, and in Rome it was all vindicated. Gyurta won with an incredible last 50m. Uncharacteristically, he jumped out of the pool to celebrate – it was the moment he got rid of the curse of half a decade, and he was floating on air. He was smiling on the podium, but he burst into tears in the anti-doping room, the first chance he had had to speak with his parents on the telephone. “It was the second time in three weeks that I broke down and cried when I talked to my parents. The first time was when I found out that my younger brother, Gergő won a gold medal at the junior European Championships”, he explained later. The younger Gyurta is also very talented: the 1,500m men have reason to fear him. Perhaps even by London 2012, where both Gyurta brothers intend to compete. Dániel says he wishes to compete at three more Olympic Games at

ERS BALOGH / REUT

least. “I am 20 now, breaststroke swimmers mature by the time they are 25, so I have plenty of time. And I am not afraid of burnout: I just love swimming, I am looking forward starting preparation for next year’s European Championships.” It definitely means a lot for Gyurta, that this event will be hosted by Budapest again, after four years: in 2006 they blew the preparation, so Gyurta didn’t even make it to the final in front of the home crowd. However, now his goal is obviously to win another gold medal. His coach says he has good opportunities to improve, his second 100m is still not what it should be like, several seconds could be chopped off his European record. The suits have been significant but breaststroke is a discipline in which similar dramatic effects can be produced through improved technique that reduces drag and removed the “dead zone” from a

“lumpy” stroke. Gyurta and his coach call it “rolling”. Due to the elongated strokes and the much more “flat” sequence of movements, Dániel advances and accelerates almost unnoticed. It is not by accident, that many people could not believe their eyes when the Hungarian’s name appeared at the top of the scoreboard at the end of the 200m in Rome, one of the closest finals of all. As one of Dani’s predecessors, his compatriot, the twice Olympic silver medallist Károly Güttler said: “If the distance was two metres shorter or longer, there might have been quite different results. But the 200 metres breaststroke has a special feature: it is exactly 200 metres long!” Actually fate might have given back to Gyurta what it took away from Güttler in 1988, when the latter lost the 100m crown by 0.01sec to Britain’s Adrian Moorhouse. “It actually makes no difference if it’s one hundredth of a second or one second,” the champion said. “The only thing that matters is the gold medal.” by GERGELY CSURKA

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Butterfly

Butterfly

Are you not entertained? 50m

200m 1. Milorad CAVIC (SRB) 22.67 CR

2. Matthew TARGETT (AUS) 22.73

3. Rafael MUNOZ (ESP) 22.88

100m

44 Magazine

Get me Russell Crowe on the line. Bring on the gladiators. Lions at the ready. Rome awaited a swimming hero – and it got two. In a Roman arena spiced with suit wars and warring words, Michael Phelps, 14 Olympic gold medals in tow, rocked the history of his sport with a raw display of pugilistic aggression in a 100m butterfly clash that will go down as one of the great swimming battles of all time, suits or no suits.

The American and his LZR cracked the 50sec barrier for the first time, dragging Milorad Cavic, the Serbian rival denied by 0.01sec in Beijing, and his X-Glide into uncharted waters with him. It had been 33 years and 7 days since Jim Montgomery of the US sent a Montreal Olympics crowd into a frenzy with the first sub-50sec 100m freestyle swim. He wore nylon briefs at a Games that introduced goggles and vision to Olympic waters and witnessed what had remained a record of world records ever since, on 29. Until Rome: 43 of them, and among the most stunning was set in what was the ultimate bat1.Michael PHELPS tle of the bodysuits before per(USA) formance-enhancing equipment 49.82 WR is banned from January 1 next year. Phelps and Milorad Cavic surfed on a tide of strategy and raw score-to-settle aggression. It 2. Milorad CAVIC was Mikey Maximus but hardly (SRB) Milo Minimus. Cavic is the hare, 49.95 a bolter from the blocks, a man with a best time over 50m a second faster than Phelps. A man who after setting a world record of 50.01 (there it was again that excrutiating 0.01) had pledged 3. Rafael MUNOZ to buy Phelps a better suit if he (ESP) felt that his wasn’t up to the job 50.41 of beating him. Unwise, perhaps. Great fun, too.

For Phelps lived up to the reputation handed to him by his Bob Bowman: “the motivation machine ... he feeds off anything you throw at him”. They worked out that Phelps had to be no more than 0.7sec behind the Serbian at the turn. The gap was 0.67sec. It looked like an impossible task, but with 20m remaining, Phelps surged, clawing back inches with every passing, almost technically perfect, stroke. He nailed the finish with a punch. The clock screamed: 49.84 WR and a 49.95 for Cavic. The race was a boiling, toiling effort from both men. A rolling killer-whale of a finish by Phelps. The defending champion spun round, saw the Nos “1” and “49” by his name and exploded. He leapt on the lane rope separating him and Cavic, thrashed the water and threw up his arms and tugged on his suit. The rivals would shake hands a while later. But there was no love lost at the decisive moment for victor and vanquished. The American explained the battle and aftermath as being like “two boxers staring each other down ... I think that’s great for the sport.” Bowman, who was interrupted in his interview in the media mixed zone by Cavic, who wanted to shake the coaches’ hand, said that it was “compelling”. “Great entertainment,” someone mumbled. Bob nodded. “I knew I had a strategy to follow and if it went like that I could win. It did and that’s not down to suits, its a matter of training,” said Phelps. “It’ll be cool in 2010 when we can get back to talking about swimming not suits.” Cavic looked at the result sheet and said: “This is just a testament to Michael Phelps. Michael Phelps does what Michael Phelps can do. And he did!” said Cavic, coached by Andrea di Nino in Italy. The bronze went to Spain’s Rafa Munoz at the helm of what seemed like a world left behind. Cavic had mulled over his Beijing loss ever since. He seemed to have gained an upper edge with that 50.01 in the semi-finals in Rome. But he followed up by saying that if Phelps lost, it would be his own fault for being wedded to his LZR when he could have raced in a nextgeneration speedboat or something like the arena X-Glide. But Cavic was playing with fire when he offered to get Phelps an X-Glide “within the hour,” or buy him another rubber bullet from his own purse. The Serbian was

I did it!... Michael Phelps right after his astonishing victory in the 200m fly

1. Michael PHELPS (USA) 1:51.51 WR

2. Pawel KORZENIOWSKI (POL) 1:53.23

3. Takeshi MATSUDA (JPN) 1:53.32

Beijing through a sea of water after having failed to fit his goggles properly. No mistakes this time round. A day after suffering defeat at the crushing hand of Paul Biedermann (GER) in the 200m freestyle, the American, wearing leggings, swam back into familiar waters by cracking out a 1min 51.51 world record win in the 200m butterfly. That took Phelps swam one world record passed the biggest ever tally of global standards held by one swimmer: with 34 credits, he now had one more than Mark Spitz, winner of seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, the best single Olympic performance before Phelps’s pieces of eight in Beijing. Getting past Spitz on that occasion and now on world-record tally is tainted by the presence of a suit, the Speedo LZR.

Photo:ALESSAND

painted as a villain in some quarters. He’s anything but. He has an edge. He’s a competitor, a terrific one at that. He also made a point of being a good sport in defeat. So many things about suit wars have been so very negative for swimming. The 100m butterfly final in Rome may well go down as one of the positives because it harnessed the thing about sport that is often so compelling: against the odds.

UTERS RO BIANCHI / RE

Phelps might have won in a fur coat. As it was, he won in a suit that will be banned. Expect no lesser degree of excellence from him on his amazing journey as the poster boy to the symphony of support that plays on behind each curtain call. Phelps’s first solo victory and worldrecord of the week came in the 200m butterfly final in which he had another point to make. He had swum to victory in

Bowman and Phelps say that the right thing to do is for FINA to set aside all world records set in 2008 and 2009 as having been “artificially aided”. That would leave Phelps still 10 targets shy of Spitz. Bowman, an aquatic Machiavelli, knows it: what better incentive for Phelps along the road to London 2012? Meanwhile, were we not entertained in Rome? We surely were. And there will be more to come in the next movement of Bowman’s Unfinished Phelpsian Symphony.

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200m

400m 1. Ryan LOCHTE (USA) 1:54.10 WR

2. Laszlo CSEH (HUN) 1:55.24

3. Eric SHANTEAU (USA) 1:55.36

Not easy living your life in the shadow of a living legend. It takes courage, persistence and even bloody mindedness to claw your way out into the sunlight. Among the few capable of doing just that is Ryan Lochte (USA). Olympic Michael Phelps was gone, having opted for a medley-free season, but his world record remained as a parasol over those with whom he had shared the Olympic podium a year earlier, namely Laszlo Cseh (HUN) and Lochte. Cseh did well to get back on his blocks after spending

the start of his days in Rome in a hospital being rehydrated after arriving with stomach problems. Lochte approached the 200m medley final along a different dietary route. Here’s Lochte’s Twittering tale: July 20: “What I would do for a big mac, 2 double cheesburgers, 10 pcs. Chicken nuggets & 2 hot apple pies, ohh and a large coke”; later - “Damn!!! Forgot the large fries!!! Yeah!!!”; July 24: I am satisfied..... “Had my mcdonalds”. Mike Barrowman, who never went without a burger just before race day, will be proud of you, Mr Lochte, whose July 23 Twitter was a little more dubious: “Mile high club, I need a co-pilot!” Energy was spent elsewhere: wearing the LZR he wore the year before – thus allowing comparison with self, Lochte got beyond Phelps’s world record with a 1:54.10 blast to take the 200m medley crown. All suits have

played their part but Lochte left no doubt that he won because he races to win. “I love to race. No matter where I am or who I’m up against,” is a mantra Lochte has used on several occasions. He has also said: “Basically, if you want a piece of me, you’re going to have to bring it.” Fighting talk from a man who in Rome put his money where his mouth is and claimed the double medley jackpot with two gutsy, gritty performances. If Lochte got 0.13sec inside Phelps on the clock, he was followed home by two other roaring efforts, Cseh’s 1:55.24 for silver and Eric Shanteau’s 1:55.36 for bronze a year into recovery from cancer. Lochte, who trains in Florida with another champion in Rome, Gemma Spofforth, of Britain, got past Phelps’s time on backstroke and breaststroke. Did he mind the constant comparison? “Phelps,” Lochte said, “did such a good job for making a name for swimming;

putting swimming on the map, so no, I don’t mind. Also it’s fun, I love swimming against him and I love a challenge, so no, I don’t mind.” That strikes at the heart of why the US rises to the challenge time and time again. A measure of the impact of suits in the 200m race is Tamas Darnyi (HUN), the first man below 2mins back in 1991, when he won the world title in a stunning 1:59.36. By January 2008, that time had slipped down steadily over 18 years to 10th best ever. After Rome: 27th. In the 400m on the last day of action, Lochte and US rookie teammate Tyler Clary, who wore a Jaked01, locked Cseh and his X-Glide out of the top two spots. Lochte took the crown in 4:07.01, making the event the only one that had until that point witnessed the survival of a championship record through all rounds. Just 0.06sec split silver and bronze, the battle going in Clary’s favour. After confirming himself medley man of the meet, Lochte said: “It’s new for me to be in the spotlight in an individual medley race. I’m very happy I broke Phelps record in the 200 IM. I hope someday he will be back in this race because I love racing against him.” In the 400m, Lochte led for most of the race but looked for a moment to be fading toward the end, with Clary and Cseh finishing strongly. For Cseh it was almost back to the kind of form that won him three silver medals behind “the alien” (as Hungarians described Phelps in 2008) in Beijing. For Clary it was a vast leap forward, his progress steeper than anything we ever saw from Phelps. But even that kind of trajectory fell shy of the Lochte lunge.

Air-trapping... Exhausted medallists after the 400m: Lochte, Clary and Cseh

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Individual Medley

Individual Medley

Lochte’s lethal lunge

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Photo: LASZLO BALOGH / REUTERS

1.Ryan LOCHTE (USA) 4:07.01

2. Scott Tyler CLARY (USA) 4:07.31

3. Laszlo CSEH (HUN) 4:07.37

With three giant swings of arms battered and bruised by effort, Lochte found the fuel to get to the pad first. He later explained how it felt to be spent: “I was kind of going on fumes at the end. I’m just completely dead.” No wonder: he had also won bronze in the 200m backstroke and golds as a member of the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relay. One of the most versatile athletes and keen racers to have graced the race pool, Lochte is held in high esteem by Florida coach Gregg Troy, who in 2006 said of a growing talent: “Ryan is certainly the best swimmer we’ve ever had at the University of Florida. He’s the best I’ve seen. Wish I had a whole team of Lochtes. Michael Phelps might have an edge in international experience, but Ryan is getting better every day. “Ryan is probably the hardest worker we’ve had the pleasure of coaching at the University of Florida. He listens to instruction well and isn’t afraid of taking on a challenge. The most amazing (thing) is that he is the same beach boy as he was when he first came in. Success has not gone to his head one bit.” Florida assistant coach Anthony Nesty once said of him: “The guy works hard, does what you ask him to do and he is committed every day.” It showed.

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1. USA 3:09.21 CR

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6:58.55 WR

2.Russia

3:09.52

2.Russia

6:59.15

3. France

3:09.89

3. Australia

7:01.65

The 4x100m free at world titles for men in Rome had long been billed as the race not to miss: the revenge of Gaul meets the proud history of America. Things turned out a little differently, as they have so often done before.

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1. USA

In Rome, Russia stepped up to gatecrash the US vs France party, an up-andcoming squad taking silver to gold for the USA and bronze for France, all three teams on 3min 09s. Gold and glory to the Olympic champions, albeit with Michael Phelps as the only man left standing from the final line-up in Beijing. In Rome, Phelps led the way (47.78), ahead of Ryan Lochte (47.03) and Matt Grevers (47.61) before Nathan Adrian went part way to aping Jason Lezak (the man who

swam into the future to deliver gold for the US in Beijing) and killed off the French fancy with a 46.79 split. That saw the US retain the title in a championship record of 3:09.21. Russia was just behind, on 3:09.52 with France on 3:09.89. France’s coaches may have made a tactical error. Uncertain of the form of Amaury Leveaux, the Blues used Grégory Mallet, who was down on best, while Frédérick Bousquet was slower than his solo best time with a flying relay start. That

was decisive, letting Alex Sukhorukov take silver and showing Adrian to be the coolest customer under pressure. The American said: “I just tried to stay within myself and try to race my own race.” Olympic champion Alain Bernard produced the fastest split of the final, a 46.46 that confirmed that his X-Glide may well have been modified after his 46.94 effort (that was never counted as a world record) but had lost none of its helpfulness. Of course, what is in the suit counts too, and Lochte added a little spice and fun to the mix when he said: “Right before the race, I looked up at (France’s Alain) Bernard, and he’s like seven feet tall. I thought, ‘How am I racing this guy?’ I just tried to do my part and not mess it up for the other guys.” Leading Brazil off, Cielo clocked a championship record (47.09) just 0.04sec shy of absent Australian Eamon Sullivan’s world record pace in the solo 100m. Phelps was a little down on his sprint best from Beijing but still has his eye on the sprint prize. In Rome, it was all about the relays: “When we came into this meet, we really wanted to win all three relays. This was a perfect way to end day one ... good news for the future of our relays.” The future followed later in the week, when Phelps and Lochte backed up alongside Ricky Berens (whose backside became famous the world over after shots were taken of him leaving his blocks with a rip up the back of his suit) and David Walters to retain the 4x200m freestyle title by the skin of their suits: 6:58.55, a world record by 0.01sec, kept Russia at bay by 0.6sec. Phelps (1:44.49), Ricky (1:44.13), Walters (1:45.47), and Lochte (1:44.46) accounted for the new global standard, while Nikita Lobintsev (1:45.10), Michail Polishuk (1:45.42), Danila Isotov (1:44.48), and Alexander Sukhorukov (1:44.15) accounted for a European record. Australians Kendrick Monk, Robert Hurley, Tommaso D’Orsogna and Patrick Murphy took bronze in 7:01.65, a Commonwealth record and 0.61sec ahead of Japan. The fastest split came from man staging a small rematch: racing two lanes along from Phelps in leadoff position for Germany was Paul Biedermann, on 1:42.81. Almost all top 20 nations set national records in postOlympic year.

Relays

4x200m free

4x100m free

4x100m medley Photo: REUTERS

Relays

Rome put to rest by relay riot

1. USA

The writing had been on the Omega touchpad in the heats, when the USA and Japan renewed an 80-year-old rivalry as they both clocked 7:03.30 to take lanes 4 and 5 for the final, Japan’s time a national best by more than 6 seconds. Just two years before, at Melbourne 2007 world titles, Japan’s best male quartet finished 11th on 7:13.68. No team other than the US, with its 6:58 world record, had ever gone faster that the 7:03.30 heats effort. In the wash, 11 teams got inside 7:10. Two years before, in Melbourne, no team got inside 7:10 in heats and just 2 got inside 7:15. The curtain closed on Rome 2009 with world record No43: the USA quartet and their suits took a sledgehammer to the mark in 3:27.28, silver going to a massively improved Germany quartet, on a 3:28.58 European record, bronze to Australia, in 3:28.64. The race gave Michael Phelps his fifth gold medal of the meet, while the winning splits were: Aaron Peirsol (52.19cr), Eric Shanteau (58.57), Phelps (49.72) and David Walters (46.80). The winning time from Melbourne 2007 (when the US did not race the final

3:27.28 WR

2. Germany

3:28.58

3. Australia

3:28.64

having been disqualified in morning heats), would have been 3sec slower than the last team home in the Rome final two years on. Where no team managed to get inside 3:35 in 2007 heats, 13 teams did so in 2009. The suits circus was complete.

Men’s pieces of 200-1500 free, back, fly, IM and relays are written by CRAIG LORD

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Women European female swimmers deserve a triumphal arch built right next to the Coliseum. It’s almost unbelievable that national anthems of European countries were played during the medal ceremonies on 12 out of a total of 20 occasions at the World Championships. This is more than all continents altogether which means, no doubt, an enormous improvement: in Beijing six swimming gold medals were won by the European ladies, and only three at the previous world championships. Britta Steffen struck gold in the two sprint events and took silver and bronze medals in relays, while – to the pleasure of the vociferous Roman crowd at the Foro Italico – Federica Pellegrini stood on top of the podium twice.

I.

EUROPE 12

II.

10

2

2

4

3

3

6

ASIA 3

III.

10

AMERICA 2

IV. OCEANIA 2

V. AFRICA 1

1

Photo: LASZLO BALOGH / REUTERS

Breakthrough... Europe dominated the women’s event, Katinka Hosszú of Hungary (pictured) added a gold and two bronzes to the tally

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50m

100m 1.Britta STEFFEN (GER) 23.73 WR

2. Therese ALSHAMMAR (SWE) 23.88

3. Cate CAMPBELL (AUS) 23.99

3. Marleen VELDHUIS (NED) 23.99

Adidas had a choice. Step aside and let its aquatic icon don something that was never designed for her. Or join the race and make a competitive suit that enhanced performance at least as much as all the other boosters in the pond. Adidas had never wanted to go down the route it took this year but, in parallel to its status as a world-leading player in sports equipment, told Steffen that it would make her the suit she needed. The Hydrofoil made its world debut on Steffen’s skin at German trials in June: she broke the 100m world record twice, in 52.85 and 52.54. After the heats swim of 52.85, Steffen said: “I’m feeling in good shape but this suit is of a different world. This is a really weird piece of equipment, one that I’ve never worn before. You don’t die in the last metres and you feel no pain. Under normal circumstances, this suit should be forbidden, and I expect that by 2010 it will be. I felt like a speedboat in water and never in my life would I have believed that a human could glide like that.” Given that she still had her final preparation and taper to go on the way

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Freestyle

Freestyle

A swimmer and her swimboat

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Olympic champion Britta Steffen enjoyed her time in the shade after the bright lights of Beijing and that stunning sprint double. Not that quiet time meant down time. After a postGames break, there was much hard work to get down to: for the swimmer and her equipment maker. For as suit wars raged on around the world and the records books took another battering in the months leading up to Rome 2009, and as Libby Trickett (AUS) notched up another set of sub-53sec swims, Steffen approached adidas, noted that she had been faithful so far, emphasised that she wanted to win world titles and said that she believed the only way to secure a happy outcome was to compete like-for-like with the 100% polyurethane suits that FINA had allowed into the race pool. to Rome, few were too surprised to see the time on the clock when Steffen led the German 4x100m freestyle relay off on day one at the Foro Italico: 52.22, world record and 0.9sec faster than the time in which she had claimed the Olympic crown a year earlier. Steffen’s blast was almost decisive when it came to relay gold: Marleen Veldhuis saved the day for the Dutch to bring the Olympic champions home to a 3:31.72 world record, 0.11sec ahead of Germany, with bronze going to Australia in 3:33.01. Part of that bronze medal told us more about the tale of suits at the heart of Rome 2009: Trickett wore an arena X-Glide and gave an apology to her sponsor Speedo, explaining that she had switched brands for the first time in her competitive life to help out her teammates. She was happy to take the knock of any disadvantage in her solo events in her Speedo LZR. And the knocks she did indeed take. On day 6, Steffen drove yet another nail in the coffin of bodysuits and non-textiles that will be banned from January 1, 2010: the German and her German suit demolished the world record in 52.07, off a 25.46 split. The silver went to Fran Halsall (GBR) and her Jaked01 in a bombastic 52.87, making her the third woman to race inside 53 and leaving Trickett to nurse a rare bronze, on 52.93. Steffen came home in 26.61sec. Some perspective on the suit: when Steffen set her first world record, of 53.30 in 2006, she was out in 25.94 (0.48sec slower than in 2009) and back in 27.36 (0.75sec slower than in 2009). When Jenny Thompson

1.Britta STEFFEN (GER) 52.07 WR

2. Fran HALSALL (GBR) 52.87

(USA) held the world record at 54.48 back in 1992, she went out in 26.82 from a dive in a traditional textile suit. After acknowledging the suit had played a significant role in the time on the scoreboard, Steffen said: “I’m so happy because this is the one medal that I didn’t have - a world title,” said Steffen. “I was so nervous at the start and then I was superfast.” About 1sec faster per 100m. Halsall was over the moon - and a second quicker than the pace at which she had arrived in Rome. Her Jaked suit was significant to the result. But we can expect to see more of her. She emerged from her race to say that she was ready to become the “fastest swimmer in the world” in time for London 2012. “I knew last year was a bit too soon for me at the Olympics because I wasn’t doing as much in the gym. This year I’ve been hammering it. I’m getting a little bit bigger and hopefully it will come and in a couple of years I’ll be the fastest swimmer in the world.” Long before then, she, along with Steffen and Trickett, will face that 53sec barrier once more: no woman has recorded an official time below 53sec in a textile suit, the only swim of that speed discounted because Trickett raced in a lane next to Michael Phelps in a fun, mixed relay at the Australia V USA DuelIn-The-Pool in 2007. Since then, the suits changed the whole nature of sprinting. At the Melbourne 2007 worlds, just one woman got inside 53.5 and six got inside 54.5. In Rome, six got inside 53.5. On the last day of action at the Foro Italico, Steffen lived her dream: double crowns at European (2006), Olympic (2008) and now world (2009) levels: she

3. Lisbeth TRICKETT (AUS) 52.93

Hydrofoiled to a 23.73sec world-record victory on the 50m freestyle to claim the 42nd global mark of a timewarp meet: the winning 24.53 effort of Melbourne 2007 would not have made the top 8 in Rome, where all eight finalists raced inside 24.5. Just 10m from the wall, it was hard to separate the top six women but with 3m or so to go, it was Steffen who looked to have the better roll, the better balance, a certainty about her. She nailed her finish and claimed the crown ahead of Therese Alshammar (SWE), on 23.88, and a shared bronze for Cate Campbell (AUS) and Marleen Veldhuis (NED), both on 23.99. No major title race in history had ever seen a sub-24sec victory. In Rome, half the final - and their suits - cracked the barrier. “It was a fast race, it was very nice to swim here. I thank God,” said Steffen. “The atmosphere and the crowd were fantastic. I dreamt of breaking the world record but I didn’t expect it.” She was one of the few who didn’t.

Black day... Britta Steffen added the World titles to her Olympic crowns and lowered the WRs in her adidas Hydrofoil “speedboat” Photo: TONY GENTILE / REUTERS

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Freestyle

Freestyle

“I am the greatest!” 200m

400m 1. Federica PELLEGRINI (ITA) 1:52.98 WR

2. Allison SCHMITT (USA) 1:54.96

3. Dana VOLLMER (USA) 1:55.64

Federica Pellegrini won everything that was to be won, with her uplifting victories she also won the hearts of the Roman crowd, earned the respect of teammates and never settled for less than her very best.

Dolce vita... Federica Pellegrini was the darling of the Roman crowd

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Her amazing performances at a home World Championships in Rome promoted her to the status of superstar, five years after she made herself known with a silver medal in the 200m freestyle at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games when just 16. In between there was Olympic gold in the 200m in Beijing. Used to being in the limelight, Pellegrini is bathed in it eternally in Italy after her exploits in the Eternal City. The first gold: doubts, a record, uncertainties, absolute dominance. This is the story of Federica in the 400m freestyle. First came the world record in Eindhoven in the build-up to Beijing. Then came the flop at the Olympics, where, as favourite for the crown, she made a tactical error and ended up being locked off the podium behind two Brits and an American. There followed one crisis after another, her withdrawal from domestic races, said to have been caused

by panic attacks, attracting a great deal of media coverage at home. Then came the return to form and the world record books at the Mediterranean Games and the pressure was on: on the first day of competition in the Swimming Stadium of Rome she had to win the highest award. All or nothing. And Federica was flying. Even though a few hours before the golden final she still had fever, she defeated the most fearful of opponents, British teammates Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington and Olympic bronze medallist Joanne Jackson, and overcame the negative force that she had been carrying in herself for almost a year, and could not get rid of. The time on the clock, which owed, like all winning efforts in Rome, something to the suit being worn, was the first sub 4-minute effort. “I am very satisfied with the victory, and that I managed to break through the historical wall, but this record was the minimum that I aimed to achieve this year,” said Pellegrini. “Only I and Alberto (Castagnetti, the coach who cried at seeing the success of his pupil) know what we have been through. I am very satisfied, mainly because of him.” Pellegrini had no time to throw a special party, instead she celebrated by breaking the world record twice in the 200m freestyle. She proved herself to be a warrior of the water, a woman who was not satisfied with merely getting into the final in her favourite event but still wanted the limelight even on the day when Alessia Filippi, the youngest champion of the team won the 1,500m freestyle crown. There is no great friendship there. “We only see each other in the pool, on the national team. We are not friends, really. Our characters are very different,” said Pellegrini of a talented teammate she has no intention of sharing fame with.

On the day when she cracked 1:53sec to win the 200m final, Pellegrini noted the time on the clock and concluded that her performance made her “the strongest female athlete of Italy ever”. No half measures. Federica divides and unites: no one dares question her crystal clear talents, but the purists scowl when the Venetian girl calls herself the greatest athlete of all time, including Alberto Tomba, who points out that his colleague, Deborah Compagnoni, won three Olympic gold medals. And then there is the impact of the non-textile bodysuit on the outstanding athlete of the national team. The suit is not mentioned by Pellegrini, nor is the brand logo visible. She wears national-team kit but does not promote it, her contracts signed elsewhere. Everybody seems to have fun comparing her to male colleagues, but she retorts by saying that at present she only “plays an occasional soccer match with men”. She trains in a lane with boyfriend, Luca Marin, who is slower over 200m freestyle, relatively speaking. Federica is very strong. Her idol and source of inspiration is Franziska Van Almsick, the German who started 13 years of dominance on the world-records book when she won the 200m freestyle at the same Roman venue back in 1994. Van Almsick was on hand to witness the Italian’s win and declared: “My God, she’s grown so much! She became more mature, composed and better, and not just in swimming. Mark my words, one day she will dazzle the world.” But this is no bionic woman. She has already shown her weaknesses to the world, while learning to wear a mask. “Before the 200m final I cried and felt tired. But in the race everything changed, and when I saw the time at the end, I thought the clock had failed. This World Championship let me know very well who I am.” The golden girl has finally attained superstardom and is now ready to be seen out and about with Luca Marin, her fiancé, at least until September when the new season starts with a journey west to the United States, where she will stay for six months.

1. Federica PELLEGRINI (ITA) 3:59.15 WR

2. Joanne JACKSON (GBR) 4:00.60

3. Rebecca ADLINGTON (GBR) 4:00.79

Pellegrini can handle her popularity but there is still a soft side to her, one that shows irritation at being called “Signor Pellegrini”. Half a year in the US should help: away from the home spotlight, she may get time to fulfill her dreams of becoming an actress, while providing down time from the stresses of a big season in the pool. Fast times are still on the agenda, but so too is English. Pellegrini explained: “I am not going to America on holiday, rather to remove the thorn, to find new stimuli and learn English, so perhaps in the next press briefing after the valuable victory I will be able to talk in the same language as my opponents.” When they are at home in London 2012. Overwhelming, victorious, unstoppable. Federica is considered divine right now, both in water and on land, in part because she is seen as being humble and able to outwit her rivals. by ALBERTO FUMI La Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy

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800m

1500m 1.Lotte FRIIS (DEN) 8:15.92 CR

2. Joanne JACKSON (GBR) 8:16.66

Roll on 2010? “Yes, definitely,” said an Olympic champion who fell short when under attack in the bodysuited assault championships. Where Kirsty Coventry and Michael Phelps managed to step in a LZR and fight back, Rebecca Adlington, like Park Tae-hwan and other Olympic champions, could not quite manage it.

3. Alessia FILIPPI (ITA) 8:17.21

The 800m freestyle gold went to Lotte Friis (DEN), the Olympic bronze medallist now wearing an X-Glide and capable of getting inside the best of Janet Evans with a second-best ever 8:15.92. Her gain was similar to that of Adlington, down to 8:14.10, on her way to the Olympic crown in 2008. The silver in Rome went to Joanne Jackson (GBR) in 8:16.66, the bronze to Beijing silver medallist Alessia Filippi (ITA) in 8:17.21, 0.69sec ahead of the Olympic champion and world record holder. Given what had transpired elsewhere, Adlington did well to finish a fraction from a medal in a final that saw the top five finishers race practically in a line the whole way. It was Friis who piled on the pressure with 200m to go. Two laps later, Potec had gone, the Brits were hanging on and Filippi was responding to a Roman crowd on its feet. The Italian turned almost level with Friis going into the last length but the Dane found 1.14sec more speed in her X-Glide than Filippi found in her Jaked01. Jackson and her Hydrofoil produced the fastest last 50 in the race, 29.17, for the silver. Friis, a 1m 84 tall 21-year-old from Hørsholm, said: “It’s a dream. It’s not sunk in. In the last 200m I decided to speed up and try to get away. I had no doubt I’d win after the last turn.” Coached at the SIGMA/Allerod club, Friis added: “I knew I have a strong finish, so I thought that I just needed to give it everything I had. This is unreal and unfathomable.” Jackson said: “It was a very tough race. The schedule, with relays, has really taken it out of Becky and me. I’m very happy with that, though. I didn’t expect a silver. It was my last swim of the meet and I felt great down the last 50.” Filippi said that she was so tired she couldn’t walk. She had hoped to get to the world record, after having passed the 800m on the way to victory over 1,500m in 8:20.

Adlington said: “That was so tough. Just to come back a year after the Olympics – there’s nothing like the Olympics. I really felt the pressure of expectation today. I thought I was coping with it but I’m obviously not dealing with it as well as I thought I would,” said a tearful Adlington. Before the 800m final, Adlington turned to teammate Jo Jackson and said: “This is the last time we’ll wear suits.” Friends and rivals smiled at each other and then raced in a final full of the difference of the moment. The double Olympic champion lost because she swam slower than she did in Beijing, from the start, and because some part of her had expected to lose from the moment she refused to wear suits that she considered to be “cheating”. She and Romanian Camelia Potec’s R-Evolution were the only fash-

ion-fast suits of 2008 in the race. Of the top five in the race, Adlington and Potec were the only ones not to set best times. They finished 4th and 5th. In the week before arriving in Rome, Adlington confirmed her decision on a matter that placed all competitors in Rome in a difficult position: she would stick to her poly-panelled but partly textile LZR and said: “Just like I have never used doping to go faster, I will not use these costumes that I think are illegal.” She was quoted as having described the suits as “technological doping” but the newspaper that first ran with that line later apologised to British Swimming for a mistake said to have been made by a member of its production team.

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Photo: TONY GENTILE / REUTERS

1. Alessia FILIPPI (ITA) 15:44.93 CR

2. Lotte FRIIS (DEN) 15:46.30

3. Camelia Alina POTEC (ROU) 15:55.63

Head coach to Britain, Denis Pursley was asked about the weight of expectation now being felt by Rebecca Adlington, a “Miss Nobody” in her own words, going into Beijing and a very popular Miss Somebody coming out. Pursley said: “It was not only the pressure of being Olympic gold medallist but the pressure of being the only one in the race without the suit [barring Potect too]. I think she could have probably have handled any one of those but you put the two together and she was carrying a heavy load. But she is not only a great athlete but also a great person and has tremendous strength of character. She’ll be back and I think she will turn this into a great positive. She’ll use it to help make it better next time around. We haven’t seen the best of Becky yet.”

(Den)marked for greatness... Lotte Friis won gold and silver in the distance events

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Freestyle

Freestyle

Tears of an Olympic Champ

Life is full of ups and downs... as Rebecca Adlington has discovered since Beijing Photo: WOLFGANG RATTAY / REUTERS

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50m 1. Jing ZHAO (CHN) 27.06 WR

2. Daniela SAMULSKI (GER) 27.23

Britain’s Gemma Spofforth never stops smiling. Odd then that the newly crowned world 100m backstroke champion and record holder will make the Samaritans office her first port of call when she returns to her adopted home in the Sunshine State this autumn.

3. Chang GAO (CHN) 27.28

100m

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Was she depressed at having missed a second medal at world championships in Rome by a fingernail in the 200m? Or maybe the £24,000 of lottery funding she can now look forward to was a little shy of expectation? Eyes light up, smile beams as the 21-year-old from Shoreham-bySea says: “There’s no money for me. I can’t take it. Under amateur rules I’m not allowed to accept funding of any kind.” For now, the University of Florida, under National Collegiate Athletic Association rules in America, holds the purse strings: Spofforth is covered for food, books, accommodation, insur1. Gemma ance and tuition fees. SPOFFORTH Most welcome subsistence, (GBR) but the medal means much 58.12 WR more than the money. “To be honest, even if I could have it [lottery funding], I wouldn’t be that bothered. I don’t do all of 2. Anastasia ZUEVA this for the money. I do it be(RUS) cause I love swimming. I just 58.18 enjoy what I do and take pride in what I’m achieving. I had a great time in Rome. It was an amazing week,” said Spofforth, who stunned her rivals in Rome 3. Emily SEEBOHM with a 58.12sec world-record (AUS) victory in the 100m in Rome. 58.88 A year earlier, she had endured an excrutiating fourthplace finish in another Olympic

pool: in Beijing, she missed a medal by 0.04sec in the 100m. Her encore was to lead off the Britain medley relay in a European record that would have granted her the solo medal a few days earlier. Spofforth went home hungrier than ever. When she returned to Florida, she downloaded the image of the scoreboard with a “4” beside her name as a screensaver on her laptop to remind her “every single day that I wanted more”. In Rome she got more. Much more than anyone besides those closest to her had expected. Her father, Mark, and her brother Peter, “two years younger and a genius at maths and the piano”, sat up in the stands in line with the 15m marker so that Gemma knew where to wave to. The moment echoed events in 1960, when Anita Lonsbrough claimed Olympic gold for Britain in the very same pool and same lane five in which Spofforth raced to victory last month. Lonsbrough had known precisely where to find her mother in the crowd. Spofforth knew too. She looked heavenward and said: “Hi mum”, both going into the race and coming out of it. Lesley Spofforth died of cancer in 2007. Her part in events in Rome cannot be overstated. “My mum’s thoughts are always with me,” said Spofforth before dedicating the gold medal to her late mother. “When I say ‘hi’ it’s really just to say ‘this is for you and I’m doing fine’. In the last 15 metres that’s where I got my strength from.” Strength needed to get a fingernail to the touchpad just 0.06sec ahead of Anastasia Zueva, the Russian who had set the world record at 58.48sec in the semifinal a day earlier. The final was momentous, one that reflected the growing maturity of a woman who as a girl had shown promise but until this year had fallen just shy of a headline. How did she maintain a hawklike focus? “I’d put the hours in,” she said with a smile. Routine spilled into race day too. “I always do exactly the same warm-up of 1,200m and I don’t stop swimming throughout,” she explains. “If someone gets in my way I pull on their leg and swim over them. It’s like “no!”, just let me keep swimming.” Music is a must too: Fat Boy Slim and The Prodigy eminate from her ipod. Champion Sound, Spitfire and Right Here, Right Now provide the buzz. And once the starter says “set”, a deeper emotion fuels Spofforth’s fire.

200m 1.Kirsty COVENTRY (ZIM) 2:04.81 WR

Backstroke

Backstroke

The spirit of Spofforth Hi, dad!... Gemma Spofforth waved to her family after the great win in the 100m

2. Anastasia ZUEVA (RUS) 2:04.94

3. Elizabeth BEISEL (USA) 2:06.39

ERS

G RATTAY / REUT

Photo: WOLFGAN

“Virtually every race is pretty much dedicated to mum”, who had put in four 45minute drives a day to get Spofforth to training and her brother to school when they were children. “Her dedication to swimming was almost bigger than mine. On Sundays she would make me go training and I was very angry at the time. Now, I’m really glad she did it. It’s nice to give something back to her.” The watch that helped Lesley Spofforth keep to the busy schedules of her children is now her daughter’s most prized possession.

At a championships where suits dominated debate as times took a hammering, Spofforth, who acknowledges that the “compression in the LZR is a big help for me”, had the satisfaction of knowing that she wore the same suit as she had worn in Beijing. Her gain of almost a second in a year was, therefore, testimony to the work she has put in with coach Martyn Wilby in Florida. Spofforth found her way there through hardship. Tall, gangly and talented, she made her senior Britain debut

by winning silver in the 200m backstroke at the 2004 European short-course championships. But a year later Christmas delivered pancreatitis and Spofforth spent New Year in hospital. A year of weakness followed and she came to a decision: she would quit swimming or find a place where she could study, train and get away from British weather. She headed west to Florida to the team where Ryan Lochte trains, a team that lists among its coaches US-based Surinamese Anthony Nesty, the first black swimmer to win Olympic (1988) and world (1991) gold. “I love it there. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t made that move,” says Spofforth. So why the Samaritans? “I’m going to do some work for them as a counsellor. I’m a good listener. It’s what I want to do, what I know I can give,” said the psychology student reading family, youth and community sciences in Florida. Next year will be about NCAAs and the Commonwealth Games, her participation at the European Championships uncertain as yet. All is geared to London 2012 – but Spofforth’s experience tells her that what is here today can be gone tomorrow. A “home” Games means “everything ... but at the same time, it’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket. It is what I’m working for but you could break a leg tomorrow and life has to go on.”

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Breaststroke

Breaststroke

Efimova, the trail-breaker 200m

50m

Russians had hungered for such a victory as they recalled 2. Rebecca SONI the good old days of Soviet (USA) dominance on breaststroke. 30.11 That has been the most popular of disciplines among Russian women since the days of Galina Prozumenshikova (Stepanova), Olympic champion of 1964 and medal winner in 1968 and 1972. 3. Sarah KATSOULIS The tradition she started (AUS) was extended at the Moscow 30.16 Olympic Games of 1980, when the podium was occupied by three Soviets, led by Marina Koshevaya at a time when organisers allowed three entries per nation. It’s a draw... Soni (below) and Efimova (opposite page) The first gold medal won by a Russfinished 2-1 and 1-2 in the ian woman at world championships was 50m and 100m also on breaststroke: at Perth, in 1991, Yelena Volkova claimed the 200m crown for the Soviet Union. Some 18 years of patient, courageous but ultimately fruitless title attempts from Russian swimmers passed by. Sometimes it felt as though gold was just a fingertip away, but

100m

1. Rebecca SONI (USA) 1:04.93

2. Yuliya EFIMOVA (RUS) 1:05.41

3. Kasey CARLSON (USA) 1:05.75

60 Magazine

the fact was that Russia needed a new swim queen. Finally, here she is. Frankly speaking, Yuliya Efimova is not that talkative. Or maybe she is just not accustomed to being interviewed. That said, she loosened up a little after her sensational victory in the 50m breaststroke in a world record of 30.09. “I was very nervous before the final,” admitted Efimova. “At this world championships not everything was going as well as I wanted it to. There was a bit of an annoying second place in the 100m breaststroke. And you know what happened before the heat at 50m? I made an uncontrolled foot movement before the start and suddenly felt pain: it was the old injury that echoed in such an unexpected way. I wasn’t at all sure that the painkillers would help. “To cut a long, unpleasant story short, I was a bit afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do my best in the final. So, I bet you can’t imagine how happy I was to see the final results on the screen. Some people say they do not realise what they have done at that moment. But I did realise that I got the gold medal. And the mere fact that I was swimming in such good company as the excellent Rebecca Soni made me even happier. It is true to say that it was a double joy, but also just pure happiness.” We dared to ask Efimova if she thought that she could have done even better in Rome. For there was surely

1.Nadja HIGL (SRB) 2:21.62

2. Annamay PIERSE (CAN) 2:21.84

3. Mirna JUKIC (AUT) 2:21.97

some frustration in the events that unfolded over 200m. It did not go unnoticed that Efimova raced not in a non-textile bodysuit of the kind that will be banned from January 1, 2010, but a traditional bathing suit, from shoulder strap to hip, with open back. Our neighbours on the press tribune were surprised, to say the least. And what was the reaction of Efimova’s opponents? Yuliya laughed as she said: “No reaction at all, a word was hardly spoken. But does it really matter? The main thing was that at that moment I felt myself comfortable and self-assured. But to reveal the secret, I must tell you that at 50 and at 100m I do prefer to swim in a [fast]suit but not at 200. Maybe the reason is that it is not ideal for my body and at 200m there is water in it and I feel like I am pulling something heavy behind me. And besides, the suits make me feel so hot, overheated. I wouldn’t call it a nice

Photo: REUTERS

1.Yuliya EFIMOVA (RUS) 30.09 WR

Yuliya Efimova, astonishingly, is the first woman racing for Russia to win gold in the race pool at the World Championships.

feeling. So we decided with the coach to use the old time bathing suit. But to admit the truth it didn’t help either”. When asked if she had employed any tactics in the 50m, Efimova laughed and noted that the distance was so short, so dynamic that no tactical innovations are required – except one very important one: to fight tooth and nail from ‘go’. She added: “But the problem was to ‘recharge’ my technique from 200m to 50. I know that I did a good job on that. Luckily in Rome I succeeded in all components. Maybe my time for winning has come at last. The Worlds were extremely useful for me. I got my portion of victories and suffered several defeats. The experience was priceless. It will help me a lot in future. Yes, I’m happy to sip the golden taste of the Worlds, but my goal is success at the London Olympics. And for that I have a lot of work to do”. Head coach to Russia, Andrei

Vorontsov, did not doubt Efimova’s ability to win. He said: “I believed in Efimova’s victory. But 50m is such a perfidious distance. But at the last day of the Worlds luck was on our side. Yuliya took the lead from the very start and her finish was faultless. And the touch at 50m is of great importance. Sometimes it turns out to be the decisive.” He added: “Yuliya was injured but she got back to form in part because of our sorcerers, I mean doctors. On finals day, looked better and did even better than during the heats, when she was clearly in pain. Efimova’s gold was a final winning touch and Yuliya succeeded in satisfying our ambitions. Now everybody in the team knows that it’s possible [to win].”

by ANNA KOZINA and NICKOLAI DOLGOPOLOV Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Russia

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50m 1. Marieke GUEHRER (AUS) 25.48

2. Yafei ZHOU (CHN) 25.57

3. Ingvild SNILDAL (NOR) 25.58

100m

By the time you read this, Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) will have turned sweet 16. But then life was already sweet as a 15-year-old: with a world record of 56.06 in the 100m butterfly, the schoolgirl from the Handen area of Stockholm, raced to her first world crown 0.24sec faster than the time in which Mark Spitz set his first world record in the same event for men some 42 years ago.

Let’s be clear: the suits were significant in a final that saw seven women race inside 57sec. The silver went to Jess Schipper (AUS) in 56.23 and the bronze to Jiao Liuyang (CHN) in 56.86. Gabriela Silva of Brazil went through first in 26.41, 0.13sec faster than the time in which Inge de Bruijn (NED) held the world straight 50m record back in 1999. Silva came home in 56.94, compared to a 58.00 best tim in 2008 and 1:00.47 in 2007. Let’s also be clear about Sjostrom: we have never seen her at the very highest of level in a textile suit. She is too 1. Sarah SJOSTROM young. What we do know is that (SWE) she had already proved herself 56.06 WR to be a supertalent: on March 22, 2008, at the age of 14, she won the European crown in Eindhoven in 58.44sec, a day 2. Jessicah SCHIPPER after setting a national record of 58.38sec in semis. In the (AUS) Olympic spotlight later that year, 56.23 she froze and finished 27th in 59.08, for sixth in her heat after turning first at the 50m mark. Sjostrom, coached by Anne Forsell at the Södertörns SS 3. Liuyang JIAO club, was a different kettle of fish (CHN) in Rome. Now wearing an arena 56.86 X-Glide, the most successful suit at the championships, as things would turn out, the new

star of Swedish swimming laid down the gauntlet with a 56.44 world record in the semi-finals. That surpassing Dutch Diva Inge de Bruijn’s nine year old mark. A day later, the maelstrom called Sjostrom struck again: 56.06 and the gold. “I don’t know what is happening right now. It’s unbelievable,” said the champ. “This is my best year but I have many years in front of me. I can do better.” A better result would mean gold in London 2012, a better time something that can be compared with the textile that will soon no longer be alien to young Sjostrom, who until Rome had played second fiddle back home to better known teammates such as sprinter Stefan Nystrand. Sjostrom led a 100m butterfly final that will go down in history as an example of what so-called technology can do. In the Dark Ages at Melbourne 2007, Australian Libby Lenton (later Trickett) claimed the crown in 57.15 and was one of only two women inside 58sec. Her time would have failed to make the best 7 in Rome. And after Melbourne 2007, Inge de Bruijn remained the only woman ever to have raced inside 57sec. A little over two years on, seven were capable of doing so in one race. Seven and their suits that is. The line-up in Rome: Sjostrom (SWE) 56.06; Schipper (AUS) 56.23; Jiao (CHN) 56.86; Mongel (FRA) 56.89; Silva (BRA) 56.94; Vollmer (USA) 56.94; Snildal (NOR) 56.96; Veldhuis (NED) 57.79. The 57.93 of legendary Mary T Meagher (USA), world record holder between 1981 and 1999, started 2008 at No12 (all time performer) and No49 (performance, multiple entries). Just 18 months into suit wars: 33rd best performer, 121st best performance. Regardless of suits, the 15-year-old’s rise has been meteoric. At 13, she was ready to quit. But a run on her best time of 1:02 made her change her mind: “When I was 13 I started to think it was a little boring but then I started to get huge improvements in my times when racing and it became more fun, so I decided to carry on.” The silver medallist said she was looking forward to racing Sjostrom again in the back to the future era of textile suits ahead. Meantime, Schipper intended to use all the weapons available to her as she took on the Chinese rivals who denied her in Beijing over 200m last year, one of them, Liu Zige, the Olympic champion, helped to victory by Schip-

per’s very own Aussie coach, Ken Wood. In the Rome final, which got underway with a new world record holder in the form of Mary Descenza (USA), on 2:04.14 in the heats, Zige raced a sensational 1.35sec and then 1.36sec inside world record pace at the 50m and 100m mark. Even coming out of the last turn it looked as though Zige could not fail, with Schipper fourth and 0.65sec back. But while the Chinese challenger hardly faded at all, Schipper, in an adidas Hydrofoil, rolled down the last length as if it was her first. In 31.18 down the last length, Schipper was almost a second faster on the way home than she had been on lengths 2 and 3. The defending champion retained her crown in a world record of 2:03.41, Zige also cracking the 2:04 mark, in 2:03.90 for silver, the bronze going to Katinka Hosszu (HUN), in a European record of 2:04.28, locking Descenza out by 0.13sec. Could the champion go 2:03 in textile? Schipper smiled and said: “I think it’s going to hurt a lot more.” After a bronze in Beijing behind Zige and Jiao Liuyang, Schipper switched to Brisbane coach Stephan Widmer and

changed her life in other ways. At 22, she bought a house and moved out of her childhood home and away from the triplet brothers who had helped to make her a tough kid. Finding her own way had worked wonders. She said: “Especially compared with last year, I am a lot more confident in my swimming and I am happier. I definitely knew that after the Olympics I couldn’t go back to Ken, that I had to make that move. It wasn’t exciting any more. A lot of people came and went [from Wood’s squad] and it was getting a bit old and I needed something new.” Swiss-born Widmer, as he did with Leisel Jones and Libby Lenton, encourages his charges to work on developing their personalities and finding themselves in life out of the water just as much as focussing on the work in the pool. “They are human beings first,’’ he told reporters. “Every day all I promise them is that they will feel pain and they have to be able to smile and take it. But I can see that she’s feeling good about herself.’’

200m 1. Jessicah SCHIPPER (AUS) 2:03.41 WR

2. Zige LIU (CHN) 2:03.90

3. Katinka HOSSZU (HUN) 2:04.28

Technique and technology... Swedish wondergirl Sarah Sjostrom had everything in hand: the strokes, the kicks and the suit

UTERS

RO BIANCHI / RE

62 Magazine

Photo:ALESSAND

Butterfly

Butterfly

“I don’t know what’s happening now”

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2. Stephanie RICE (AUS) 2:07.03

3. Katinka HOSSZÚ (HUN) 2:07.46

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Fortunately she didn’t have too much time to seriously think of quitting swimming, Katinka Hosszú spent just three days at home after the Beijing Olympics, before flying off to the United States.

The Games didn’t really work out very well for the Hungarian swimmer: after taking silver in the 400 medley at the European Championships in Eindhoven, everyone thought the breakthrough might come. She had already been subjected to great expectations after finish-

Photo: WOLFGANG RATTAY / REUTERS

ing third in the European Short-Course Championships in Vienna in 2004 - but the leap forward was continually delayed. In all probability, she missed out on a medal at the 2006 Europeans in Budapest, having been excluded for an irregular legkick in the 400 medley. And she wasn’t able to produce a great performance in Beijing either: she missed out on the final by some distance in both medley events. “At that time I really felt there was no point in carrying on. I was swimming on my own in my native city of Baja, without any companions, and was simply unable to make progress,” she recalls of this critical period. In the end, the only reason she didn’t give up swimming was the fact that it allowed her to retain a scholarship at USC. To begin with she felt terrible in Los Angeles: without any proper command of the language, or friends, she couldn’t really imagine anything good happening to her here. And yet something good came along. “I found my way into a wonderful team at the Trojans, and finally realised what it is like to constantly train with a lot of good swimmers. And I started to get some enjoyment out of swimming again, or I could say: I found myself again. David Salo is a great coach, who has opened new horizons for me, and I’ve started looking forward to training and competing once more.” Moreover, instead of good Hungarian fare, the team nutritionist specified a strict diet: as a result, she lost 12 kilos in weight and her times continued to improve. When learning in April that she had broken the Hungarian 400 medley record she had been striving for in vain for seven years, Hungarian head coach László Kiss publicly declared that we could now expect a great result from Hosszú at the World Championships. Given that Katinka (or Katka, as others call her) is not an excitable type, she might have felt faint for just one moment in Rome, after surprising many people by starting with a European record in the

Katinka HOSSZÚ (HUN) 4:30.31 CR

Individual Medley

1. Ariana KUKORS (USA) 2:06.15 WR

400m

2. Kirsty COVENTRY (ZIM) 4:32.12

3. Stephanie RICE (AUS) 4:32.29

200 medley heats. “I was always worried before the race about whether I could hit form at the right time: when I saw the record, I knew there was no problem.” Moreover, she began to believe she was capable of a time of 2:07, which Salo had driven into her for several months. After the final, she answered the question of when she started to believe him with a smile: “This afternoon.” She only faltered once - when swimming another European record in the 200 butterfly quarter finals, and just missing the new world record set that morning. “My coach asked me why I was attracting attention to myself. And then I started to think oh-oh, I could even be World Champion here... My head was a bit disturbed when I came down to the pool, and this showed in my swim.” As a

Photo: LASZLO BALOGH / REUTERS

Individual Medley

Dreamworks present: the new IM-queen

200m

No Beijing, no Rice... Australia’s Olympic champion Stephanie Rice was dethroned in Rome

L. A. story... Katinka Hosszú found a new life in the US and lived up to her potential

result she “only” won a bronze medal, though quietly noted that her main event, the 400 medley, was still to come. She was especially pleased that her friend for life, Zsuzsanna Jakabos, who trains in Las Vegas, also made it to the final – their relationship really is special. Jakabos puts on the new, body-hugging suit first, to make it a little larger, before Hosszú slips into it. They regularly wear each other’s clothes, as after all, one big disadvantage of the “shiny era” is that it takes at least half an hour to put on a swimsuit. (Typically, after the final, Jakabos revealed that she had not mainly been focussing on herself, but had been watching Katinka all the time, supporting her from lane 8). As Salo is one of the best breaststroke coaches around, Hosszú has improved a great deal in this stroke: it is no coincidence that she gained such an advantage

here that no excitement was left over for the freestyle, though Stephanie Rice (AUS) and Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), gold and silver medallists at the Olympic Games in Beijing but both slower in Rome, tried their best to catch her. And then she reached the finish - and showed her dissatisfaction. “When I got to the end and looked up at the board, my first thought was what a shame I didn’t manage to swim inside 4:30... After all, I’m just a perfectionist really... And then I suddenly realised that I had finished first, and that was when it hit me: oh-oh, I should really be pleased.” Europe can also be pleased: not having had a genuine representative capable of competing with swimmers from across the Atlantic since Yana Klochkova (UKR), it now seems Hosszú will be challenging them in the long-term (by the way, Hosszú translates into English as “long”). Technically she was already good – her grandfather, who was a swimming coach, had given her the perfect foundations a long time ago –, and the American environment has added the missing factor, mainly from a psychological perspective. As a result, after the race she was happy to tell us: “At last my childhood dream has come true: I’m one of the best in the world.” The Hollywood – or to be more precise Los Angeles – dream factory has another success story on its hands. by GERGELY CSURKA

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4x100m free

1. Netherlands

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4x200m free

3:31.72 WR

1. P.R. of China

7:42.08 WR

2. Germany

3:31.83

2. USA 7:42.56

3. Australia

3:33.01

3. Great Britain

With one outstanding swimmer, a relay can punch beyond its weight. But when whole quartets produce outstanding times well beyond what they had previously shown themselves capable of, a knockout blow is guaranteed. 66

Relays

Relays

7 quartets inside 3 world records

Little wonder then that no relay world record among women could withstand the tidal wave of suit-assisted gains on the clock at the Foro Italico. Indeed, seven quartets raced inside the worldrecord pace in three finals. Day one set the pace: Britta Steffen led Germany off with a 52.22 100m world record in the 4x100m freestyle final. There followed an almighty tussle between the Germans and the Dutch Divas who a year Photo: REUTERS

7:45.51

earlier had hoisted the Olympic crown. Steffen had built a 1.39sec advantage over the Dutch but after Inge Dekker came Ranomi Kromowidjojo with a 52.20 blast that reduced the deficit to just 0.20sec. Femke Heemskerke’s 53.03, over Petra Dallmann’s 53.75 seemed decisive. For next up was Marleen Veldhuis against Daniela Schreiber. On paper in solo racing, it was no contest: 53.17 best time to a 54.49 best time.

What a difference a suit makes: Veldhuis clocked a decent split, of 52.78, but Schreiber swam beyond all expectation: 52.37. Another metre and the order would have placed orange second, perhaps. But Veldhuis had done enough, the clock screamed a 3:31.72 world record, 0.11sec ahead of Germany, with bronze going to Australia in 3:33.01. All three teams cracked previous world-record pace. That more standards would be exploded in the 4x200m was hardly in doubt from the moment that a Britain “B” quartet of Caitlin McClatchey, Jazmin Carlin, Hannah Miley and Rebecca Adlington set a 7:49.04 championship record in the heats at the helm of an event transformed. Where no quartet got inside 7:58 in Melbourne 2007 heats, ten teams cracked 7:53 in Rome heats and six teams got inside 7:51, two of those inside 7:50. The 7:50.09 world record set by the USA in Melbourne would have scraped a bronze in Rome heats, while the silver in 7:53.82 from Germany would have missed the cut for the final. The crown in Rome went to the first Chinese women ever to hold the 4x200m WR: 15 years ago, when the Chinese heaped shame on Rome and swimming in the midst of a doping crisis, the “Golden Flowers” claimed gold but could not get passed the 1987 standard that would survive to a GDR quartet until 2004. Rome 2009 saw Yu Yang, Qianwei Zhu, Jing Liu and Jiaying Pang – all breaking China’s Speedo contract to wear Jaked01 suits – crack out a 7:42.08 ahead of a 7:42.56 from the US, bronze going to Britain in a European record of 7:45.51. The 7:50.09 in which the USA set a world record for victory in Melbourne 2007 would have finished outside the top 8 in Rome. That GDR standard of 1987 had slipped to 4th best ever by the time 2008 dawned. Coming out of Rome: 14th, and 11 of the best 15 ever times were established at the Foro Italico, July 30, 2009. China reigned supreme once more in the last women’s relay of the championships, producing a 3:52.19 world record ahead of Australia’s Olympic champions, on 3:32.58 and also 0.11sec inside their previous mark, with Germany third in a European record of 3:55.79, Britta Steffen’s 51.99 sizzler of a split keeping Britain and the Netherlands off the podium.

4x100m medley

If there was one thing that granted China the win, then it was clearly the breaststroke split of Chen Huija, a 1:04.12 that compared to a 1:07.27 solo best. The splits in full: Zhao Jing 58.98; Chen Huija 1:04.12; Jiao Liuyang 56.28; Li Zhesi 52.81. A 3.15sec gain over 100m breast even with a flying start is nothing short of extraordinary but even aberration struggled to find its way into the spotlight at the timewarp championships of 2009. China will have taken heart from its successes in Rome. Third on the medals table on both counts that count: 4 gold, behind 10 for the US and four for Germany (which had two more silvers than China) and third on total medal count: after the US on 22 and Australia in 16 (9 of those bronzes), China visited the podium 10 times. That represented a massive leap from results in 2003, 2005 and 2007 and comes just in time for a home show in Shanghai, 2011. Since the scandals of the 1990s, China has committed itself to running a clean programme and the days of systematic doping are fading. It has also looked outwards to the world and is sending swimmers such as Liu Zige and Zhang Lin to train in Australia and elsewhere. Problems remain. What means “unannounced” out-of-competition testing to many Europeans means something quite different in a country where you must get through several security controls to gain access to a swimmer. Vigilance remains important in and of a land that operates under what is often starkly different set of circumstances to those found throughout much of the rest of the swimming world.

1. P. R. of China

3:52.19 WR

2. Australia

3:52.58

3. Germany

3:55.79

After Beijing, many critics wrote that China changed the Games more than the Games changed China. Shanghai will tell us more about how China has changed on its journey from pariah to full member of the world swimming community.

Women’s pieces of 50-100 and 8001500 free, back, fly and relays are written by CRAIG LORD

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Diving I.

ASIA 7

II.

4

1

2

5

3

1

EUROPE 2

III.

4

AMERICA 1

China vs. The World: China let only one gold medal slip out of her hand at the World Championships in Melbourne 2007 and at the Olympic Games in Beijing last year. Men’s platform, both times. In Rome they missed out three gold medals: men’s platform, women’s platform and 1m springboard. Is it possible that in Shanghai, in home waters in 2011 the world will improve its balance against the nation dominating diving?

IV. OCEANIA –

V. AFRICA –

When the Foro Italico became Chinatown... Wu Minxia and her teammates still rule the world

Photo: ALESSANDRO BIANCHI / REUTERS

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3. Han WANG (CHN) 303.95

The judging was not as high as it was in Beijing: a few more dives could have been granted a perfect mark. That said, taking into account the split knees and bent knees witnessed at certain points in the dive, the Judges may have judged correctly on this occasion. The Chinese team, to which we always look to set the highest standard, lost three gold medals out of ten this time

3m Springboard

1. Jingjing GUO (CHN) 388.20

Where the medals were won: Men’s 1m: with 35 participants, the event had a preliminary and a final competition, with the Chinese Quin Kai (449,00/DD18,8/average score 8,0) and Zhang Xinhua (445,90/18,4/8,1) in first and second position. The bronze medal went to the tower Olympic champion Matthew Mitcham (440,20/18,5/7,9), from Australia. We often see male and female tower divers compete off the 1m event, which is not an Olympic event but a good height from which to improve

1. Jingjing GUO, Minxia WU (CHN) 348.00 2. Tania CAGNOTTO, Francesca DALLAPÉ (ITA) 329.70 3. Julia PAKHALINA, Anastasia POZDNIAKOVA (RUS) 310.80

Diving – Women

2. Minxia WU (CHN) 311.90

Back to Rome, fifteen years after the ‘94 edition of the World Championships were held in the Eternal City, to compete now in ten (6 in 1994) diving competitions for 30 medals. Nine days of competition, nine wonderful days with sunshine and great heat, great competitors from all over the world, with 200 divers from 43 nations. Off the boards, the championship slogan held true: hold on your breath…

3m Synchronised Springboard

1m Springboard

1. Julia PAKHALINA (RUS) 325.05

2. Emilie HEYMANS (CAN) 346.45

1. Paola ESPINOSA (MEX) 428.25

1. Ruolin CHEN, Xin WANG (CHN) 369.18

2. Ruolin CHEN (CHN) 417.60 3. Li KANG (CHN) 410.35

Wonderful Yulia... Pakhalina was good enough to beat the Chinese in 1m

round, compared with just one miss in Beijing. We realise that a post-Olympic year is always a little different for some of those athletes who gave their best in the Olympics. That said, we note that the Chinese Team reached the 100-medals mark at World Championships since they made their debut at Guayaquil 1982. Eleven of those medals were won by the outstanding diving star Guo Jingjing, who has dominated the world diving scene since 2001 in the 3m springboard events. If Guo JingJing was the female star of the competition, Britain’s Tom Daley

dives and technique. In comparison, Melbourne07 had in first place from China Luo Yutong (477,40/19,3/8,3), with an outstanding high DD (degree of difficulty) performance. Women’s 1m: this event showed that the girls are not yet interested in high DD dives, even if they do indeed now have the capability to move to harder dives. In summary, that means that in this non-Olympic event, divers and coaches did not invest as much effort as they could have done to attain the highest possible result. The winner, Irina Pakhalina, from Russia, performed a standard list like all other participants but with really high quality (325,05/DD 12,3/8,8). Silver and bronze were earned by the two Chinese

2. Mary B. DUNNICHAY, Haley ISHIMATSU (USA) 324.66 3. Mun Yee LEONG, Rinong Pandela PAMG (MAS) 321.66

10m Synchronised Platform

3. Tania CAGNOTTO (ITA) 341.25

10m Platform

Diving – Women

China again, now 7–3

(15) may be seen as having emerged as the new male star of the Championships, with the best quality score of 9.2 obtained in the tower event. Double gold winners at Rome09 were the Chinese Olympic Champions Guo Jingjing and Quin Kai.

Photo: ALESSANDRO BIANCHI / REUTERS

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3m Springboard

1. Chong HE (CHN) 505.20 2. Troy DUMAIS (USA) 498.40 3. Alexandre DESPATIE (CAN) 490.30

10m Platform

1. Thomas DALEY (GBR) 539.85 2. Bo QIU (CHN) 532.20 3. Luxin ZHOU (CHN) 530.55

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divers, Wu Minxia (311,90/12,3/8,5) and Wang Han (303,95/12,3/8,2). The only diver showing a 3.0 dive (305c) was Rebecca Gallantree, from Britain, in 7th place (267,55/12,9/6,9). In Melbourne07, the winner, He Zi (316,65/13,6/7,8) of China, had a high DD programme but scored fewer points than Pakhalina this time, which means that quality is still favoured over difficulty. Men’s 3m: this event boasted the largest entry, of 51 divers. The challenge came down to a battle of champions from China, USA and Canada. Beijing Olympic Champion He Chong (CHN) won gold (505,20/20,2/8,3), Troy Dumais (USA) silver (498,40/19,9/8,4) and Alexandre Despatie (CAN) bronze (490,30/19,9/8,2). He Chong was the only one to pass the 500-points mark compared with the five divers who did so in Melbourne07, when Quin Kai struck gold on 545,35). The result showed, perhaps, that there may be a difference in performance between the year before and the one after the Olympic Games. The best of the Europeans was Illana Javier (452,10), of Spain, with a worthy performance for 7th. It is interesting to note that in the preliminary competition four divers performed a failed dive, taking the wrong route in a very difficult dive. Women’s 3m: the event was the domain of Chinese Olympic star Guo JingJing (388,2/15,1/8,6), with only one little mistake attracting 7,5’s, but even that at a moment when she had built up a lead of about 42 points. The silver medal went to an outstanding effort by Canadian Emily Heymans (346,45/14,5/8,0), who was a platform World Champion back in Barcelona03 but now competes only off springboard, her medal-winning attitude intact. The best European, Italian diver Tania Cagnotto, took the bronze (341,25/15,1/7,5), to gain her third consecutive third-place finish in the 3m. In fourth place was He Zi (CHN), who missed the podium after a major error on her 205B.

3. Alexandre DESPATIE, Reuben ROSS (CAN) 428.64

1. Liang HUO, Yue LIN (CHN) 482.58

Men’s platform: the most spectacular and exciting competition of the Championships brought us the first real success at world level for 15-year-old Tom Daley, of Britain. Tom nailed all his dives, each receiving a large cheer from an appreciative crowd. His performance (539,85/19,5/9,2) had the highest quality average mark (9.2) of the Championships, including some perfect ten’s from the judges in three of his dives. The silver medal went to Qui Bo (532,20/20,5/8,7), who lost the gold when he mistimed his last dive, a 5255B. The first four divers finished within 10 points of each one another in what was a very high standard of competition. In Melburne07, the winner was Gleb Galperin (RUS), with (554,70/19,9/9,3) two perfect 10 dives. Women’s platform: the Chinese divers were challenged by Mexican Paola Espinosa (428,25/16,3/8,8) who got some perfect tens in two dives but missed slightly on her 107b. Her gold medal marked the first for Mexico in World Championships diving history. On a world stage, Joaquin Capilla will be remembered for winning gold in the platform at the 1956 Olympic Games. China’s Olympic Champion Chen Ruolin (417,60/16,1/8,7) was only 11 points behind, the bronze going to the other Chinese diver, Kang Li (410,35/16,1/8,5). The first European

diver, Christin Steuer, of Germany, finished 7th, with 353,75 points. Men’s 3m synchro: the Chinese team of Quin Kai and Wang Feng showed us perfection on the way to a 467,94-points victory. Silver, 22,35 points behind, went to the USA team of Troy Dumais and Kristian Ispen, with bronze earned by Canadians Alexandre Despatie and Ross Reuben 17 points further adrift. Much to the distress of a home crowd, fourth place was reserved for Italy (428,55), just 9/100 of a point from the podium. Women’s 3m syncho: the Chinese team (348,00) won the gold medal only 19 points ahead of Tania Cagnotto and Francesca Dallapè (329,70), the Italians who claimed silver. The bronze medal went to the Russian team of Julia Pakhalina and Anastasia Pozdniakova (310,80), with Canada (309,90) and Australia (309,18) close behind. Men’s synchro platform: the last event of the diving championships was among the most spectacular: Team China, Huo Liang and Lin Yue, built up a large lead from the beginning of the competition, earning perfect ten’s in three of their dives (482.58). By the end, the silver medal went to Boudia and Finchum of the USA (456.84), 25 points behind and just 0.24 point ahead of Cuban team of Guerra and Aguirre (456.60). That left the German team, Hausding and Klein

2. David BOUDIA, Thomas FINCHUM (USA) 456.84 3. Jose Antonio G. OLIVA, Jeinkler E. A. MANSO (CUB) 456.60

(455.76) locked out of the medals by just 0.84 point as the medals came down to the last dive. The Italian team, in fifth place, earned big cheers from a Roman crowd that showed its appreciation for the youngest competitor of the championships, Andrea Chiarabini (14). Our sympathies are extended to the Russian team: Victor Minibaev lost his synchro partner Semen Kokunov, an 18year-old talented platform diver from Elektrostal who was tragically killed in a car crash in early June. Victor is now diving with his new partner Ilya Zakharov with whom he performs the same difficult dives as with Semen (109c). Women’s synchro platform: the Chinese team, Olympic gold medal winners Ruolin and Xin (369,18) beat everybody by a large margin (44,52). The USA team of Dunnichay and Ishimatsu came second (324,66), with the Malaysian team of Leong and Pandelela taking a

surprise bronze, the first medal ever won by Malaysia in world diving history. Ten nations won medals at the Championships; from Europe, only Russia and GBR won gold, Italy got silver and bronze, while Germany and Ukraine had no medals at all this time round. The overall team ranking placed China, USA and Canada in the top three, with Italy fourth ahead of Australia, Russia, Germany and Great Britain. by KLAUS DIBIASI Three-time Olympic Champion, 10m (’68, ’72, ’76), Italy

Diving – Men

2. Troy DUMAIS, Kristian IPSEN (USA) 445.59

3m Synchronised Springboard

2. Xinhua ZHANG (CHN) 445.90

10m Synchronised Platform

1m Springboard

Diving – Men

1. Kai QIN, Feng WANG (CHN) 467.94

1. Kai QIN (CHN) 449.00

3. Matthew MITCHAM (AUS) 440.20

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Little success... Germany’s Thomas Klein should fare better in the European Championships

Photo: TONY GENTILE/ REUTERS


Photo: TONY GENTILE / REUTERS

Tom Daley, a towering example in Rome of teenage composure as he became the secondyoungest world diving champion ever, will be one of the most scrutinised teenagers on the planet over the coming three years. His entourage are looking to keep his growing body and expanding mind in tune with his stature as a golden prospect at a home Olympic Games in London in 2012. If Daley’s life will be played out in public, his development will be under constant monitoring behind the scenes as experts apply lessons learned from the numerous examples of diminutive divers who struck gold with their towering talent as teenagers only to find that nature had other plans for them in later life. Between European and World titles won in March 2008 and July 2009, Daley has grown 6.3 inches and put on 29lbs in weight. So far, so brilliant. Daley is aware of every inch, every pound, he recites the measurements correctly off the top of his head and knows that his growth has been in proportion to the nature of his job. “I went through a chubby phase but when I started growing, I went up and bulked up too,” recalled a diver who follows a daily diet sheet. The relative proportions of his growth were no accident: “I didn’t beanpole and just get taller and that was because of the work I do with my strength and conditioning coach.” That work clearly started to show in Rome, where Matthew Mitcham, the Olympic 10m champion from Australia, noticed before competition began that Daley, formed to match the grace and speed of Chinese rivals similarly diminutive, was the man of the moment, the rising star to watch.

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Mitcham also noted, as he takes on springboard with a view to adjusting his future programme to take account of physical and other changes. Symmetrical growth in which strength increases in sympathy with length of limbs is the key. Tall skinny divers with relatively low strength levels are not ideal for the tower. The mechanics of levers mean that output force and output speed are opposites: long output lever arms favour speed, short ones favour force. In diving, force precedes speed and the balance of the two forces is critical to success.

Daley would soon say: “It’s crazy, they only needed 7.5s and 8s to stay ahead. I can’t believe what I’ve just done.” Nor what the others had done. Mitcham messed up and fell below Zhou, on 529.50. The silver was Daley’s. He stood open-mouthed, staring at the scoreboard in disbelief. Bo left the boards. Experts and layman alike knew that the Chinese diver had tried a little too hard. His mistimed entry sent water splashing across the surface. Surely he had done enough. A hushed silence fell over the very pool in which Brian Phelps and Elizabeth Ferris had won Olympic bronzes

Daley junior, the youngest European diving champion and youngest member of the Britain Olympic team last year, found just the right measure in Rome. He had entered the fifth round of six dives in fourth place and had then promptly overtaken Chinese Olympic silver medallist Zhou Luxin to find himself in line for the bronze with a dive to go. Daley watched Zhou put in a solid last dive that carried a de“I told Tom ‘give that to me’. He’ll only go and gree of difficulty that stick in his bag and then it’ll come out with his towel Daley has yet to tackle and there’ll be yoghurt on it. It’ll be safe with me.” in competition. (Daley’s father on his son’s gold medal) Displaying the heights of composure common among some of the legends of for Britain back in 1960. Bo’s tally flashis sport down the years, the Plymouth hed up: 532.20. Daley was the last to schoolboy could hardly have found a betleap for joy: he fell to the floor, his feet ter moment to execute a reverse three as numb as the rest of him as screaming and a half somersaults with tuck with such teammates and Daley’s coach Andy precision: soon after he had sliced Banks rushed to hug the champion. through the surface at 60mph like a hot knife clean through butter, the scoreboard By then, Rob Daley was already breaflashed up four perfect 10s and three 9.5s. king through barriers of his own to get to his son. Little wonder: the Daleys have Total: 539.85. The bronze was his. The lived through a time of torment. After retwo divers left, Olympic champion Matturning from the Olympic Games and thew Mitcham, of Australia, and the Chiwinning silver behind Bo at the world junese rival who had pipped Daley for the nior championships, Britain’s diving proworld junior crown last year, Bo Qui, both digy became the victim of bullying at had a mind-boggling two-and-a-half soEggbuckland Community College in Plymersaults with two-and-a-half twists mouth. Daley was “shoved, cursed at, ahead of them. The manouevre carries berated and spat at”, said his father. the highest degree of difficulty, a 3.8. As Matters came to a head when one of the

bullies threatened to break the divers legs and bring an end to one of Britain’s great Olympic hopes for 2012. The diver was moved to calmer waters at Plymouth College. Daley senior said: “It’s been hell for all of us. And for Tom especially.” He had a message for the bullies: “If they can understand this, I say this to them – he fought back, he kept smiling, he’s held his head high and did not give up. He has not let you beat him. He has come out winning. He is a world champion. We’re immensely proud of him.” The we includes mother Debbie and brothers William, 13, and Ben, 10. The roller-coaster finish to the final was almost too much to bear, said the father: “When he nailed his last dive I thought ‘he’s got a medal’ at the world championships. Then came the silver and I thought ‘please don’t let this stop’. When the Chinese entered the water, it seemed like an eternity for the score to come up. Then it was gold and I had a flashback of the 15 years of his life. I was stunned.” The journey is far from over. Banks introduced Daley to dives of the highest degree of difficulty late last year but then backed off in order to “consolidate the work we had done and give Tom time to settle and adjust” on a steady journey to London 2012 that began in earnest when he became the youngest national junior 10m diving champion ever at 10 years of age in the midst of rivals up to 18 years old. By March last year, Daley had progressed to become the youngest European diving champion ever, two months before his 14th birthday. The baby of the 2008 Olympic team and a poster boy for 2012, Daley is looking to his home Games in London: “It’s crazy. When I got bronze I was so, so happy. When it was silver I was like ‘oh, my God, it’s unbelievable’. When I got the gold I just fell to

Topsy-turvy... Thomas Daley defied all predictions by winning the gold medal in the 10m

the floor. I just didn’t know what to do. I have worked so hard and made so many sacrifices. It’s all been worth it. Now I just want to do the same in London 2012.” Banks smiled and said: “We will now go back and start to work on some of those high tariff dives. But we will continue to monitor his development and take account of his growth and changes to his physique. It was a pretty good end to consolidation.” He added: “His career has followed a dream-like pattern. He always says he loves to get in the mix and thrives on the adrenalin. And there it was. Wow!”.

Photo: GIAMPIERO SPOSITO / REUTERS

Reaching high

Attention is already focussed on providing cushioning for Daley on his way to a big-pressure moment at home in 2012. And that process has raised some questions among officials and in the media. When does a parent’s nurture turn to nuisance? When does care creep to control? When is parenting pushy? Those questions were being asked within an hour of the 10m final, which made Daley the youngest Briton ever to win a senior world title in any sport. When those questions were put to Daley’s father, he was incredulous. Me, pushy? “I’m not allowed to stay in the

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DaleyÊs Diet An average menu supplied by British Swimming nutritionist

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Lunch Pasta salad/or a sandwich Yoghurt and fruit Dinner Chicken breast, potatoes and vegetables “Or any balanced meal like that – balance is what counts” – Daley Photo: TONY GENTILE / REUTERS

team hotel, access is only through the performance director.” Yes, but what about breaking through security and hijacking the championship press conference in the full glare of publicity? “The door was open, I just walked in,” said Daley. “All I did was take the mike {microphone] and when they asked for questions I asked a question.” Not quite a question. “Could you say [sic] the media that you represent,” said Camillo Cametti, master of press conferences at the 13th World Championships, as the theme tune to the Benny Hill Show rang from the phone in Daley senior’s pocket, waking the diver up to the fact that his father had, yet again, broken through security, just as he did when Tom became Europe’s youngest ever diving champion in Eindhoven 2008. “I represent Tom Daley. I’m his father. Tom, come and give me a cuddle, please, please, please – give me a cuddle.” The teenager put his head in his hands and muttered: “Oh no”. He walked the length of the press conference room, saying “Dad, don’t make me cry – how embarrassing.” Chinese rivals looked on bemused; Italian organisers were flummoxed; foreign media shook their heads. Daley was unrepentant. “What did I do wrong?” he asked. Well, you’re not accredited and it would be chaos if every parent of a medal winner descended on the media moment after every medal ceremony. “If every athlete was 15, I wouldn’t do it,” Daley said. “It’s the nest thing. While he’s at home we care for him, we feed him and do his laundry.” He shrugged, held up his arms in a gesture of innocence and recalled the gatecrash: “Any parent who witnessed what I have after seven years of hard work that he’s done would want to do the same.” Really? Daley reaches for the emotional emphasis that lives at the heart of what some see as an obsession: turning his head to point out a scar running across his scalp he says: “Look, I had a brain tumour removed [an operable brain tumour was diagnosed in 2006]. That makes all of this more special. I have always had it in the back of my head that one day he might be world champion. I’m not doing anything wrong.” Daley junior confirmed that BBC television helped to get the diver’s father

Breakfast Cereal with cold skimmed milk “I haven’t had cereal out here because the milk is whole fat and warm” – Daley pulling a face.

Snacks “At my age, it’s not so important but I’m keen to watch things because it is important for my performance” – Daley

He does it all the time and someone always gets it on camera. I guess that’s what parents do. If I win more and more, I think he won’t do it as much.” Daley senior is living his life through and for a son he adores. “My job as a parent is to keep him happy so he can focus on what he does without unnecessary distractions.” Those are “constant”, says Daley, official manager to his talented son and linkman to agent Jamie Cunningham of the Professional Sports Group. “We’ve got a summer fair, can he come and open it?” says Daley, mimicking the type of calls he gets “almost every day ... I handle that ... If has to fit into his training and school.” The Daleys hold a weekly start-ofweek meeting to “go through where we will

be with Tom and the other two lads”. Rob shares with wife Debbie ferrying duties for the diver and his rugby-playing brothers, Bill and Ben. “I always go and watch Bill and Ben play,” says Dad. “That’s part of the puzzle. With Tom, it’s a full-time job.” Some say an obsession. Daley senior, proud as punch, spent the morning after Tom’s victory roaming the news-

“At his age, he’s a growing lad and he works hard so if he has the odd ice-cream, it’s not a problem. We watch his nutrition but it’s a very relaxed thing at this stage.” – Plymouth and Britain team coach Andy Banks

through security and into an area he had no right to be. And what of his son’s feelings? “He wasn’t embarrassed,” said Daley. “It happened so quickly. He wouldn’t have done it [got up and cuddled his father] if he’d been embarrassed. It was just a pat on the back.” Daley admitted to it being a “regular occurrence”. In fact, you can count on it happening. His son does. “It was very embarrassing,” he said a day after lifting the world 10m platform crown. “There’s a time and place for dad to be emotional.

DaleyÊs Dimensions Growth March 2008 – July 2009: 16 cm in height; 13.15kg in weight March 2008 (youngest European champion in history, 13 years, 10 months) Height: 1m 54 Weight: 48.5kg July 2009 (first British world diving champion in history) Height: 1m 70 Weight: 61.65kg

stands of Rome and buying 60 euros worth of Italian newspapers. The cuttings would be laminated. “He won’t remember what happened here when he’s older but I’ll be there to say ‘look, remember this’.” A team official leans over and hands Daley the blue box containing his son’s gold medal, a beautiful heavy metal orb depicting the Colosseum and an olive wreath. “I told Tom ‘give that to me’. He’ll only go and stick in his bag and then it’ll come out with his towel and there’ll be yoghurt on it. It’ll be safe with me.” So will Daley junior as far as his physical welfare is concerned. Daley will not only learn new high-degree difficulty lessons off the boards in the next year, he will tackle up to nine GCSEs. And he will do so away from the bullies who tormented him at Eggbuckland Community College. In June, Daley switched schools to Plymouth College, where there are some 50 elite athletes from many sports, including swimmers from Trinidad and Tobago and Kenya who competed in Rome. “It’s good

A good platform to London 2012 ... Daley should handle the pressure for 2012 after this triumph

not to stick out, you can just fit in and be a normal person at school.” said Daley. His father, said that “there was a change in Tom within days” of switching to his new college. “He was humming and singing around the house and really happy again.” Having beat the bullies back home and conquered Rome, Daley was due to take a three-week holiday with family in Spain before returning home to Plymouth to face new fears and challenges. Daley will sit down with coach Banks and talk through the mind-boggling manouevres that lie ahead if Daley is to arrive in London three summers hence as a golden prospect. Take this one: two-and-a-half somersaults with two-and-a-half twists in about 1.5sec at 60mph, the force of impact with the water so great that it can break your wrists if you get it wrong. Getting it wrong can also costs you the world title, as Olympic champion Matthew Mitcham, of Australia, and world junior champion Bo Qui, of China, found out to their cost and Daley’s delight at the Foro Italico. Daley must incorporate dives that carry a high-degree of difficulty if he is to capitalise on his good fortune in Rome. Daley is not afraid to say that the twists and turns ahead of him are “very scary”. He explained: “When you first try a new dive, you stand on the top of the board not knowing what’s going to happen. You have to be positive with yourself and believe in what your coach says. If he thinks you’re ready, you are.”

A second expert will be at hand to ease Daley’s fears: psychologist Kate Hayes advocates positive thinking. “I don’t see many positives at a training session,” said Daley. “One of the techniques she used to make me more positive was to write down after each training session a positive comment Andy had given me so I could look back and take the positives.” Daley keeps his eyes open throughout dives and uses fixed points – pool edges, seating and other structures – to feel his way through limbo at lightning speed. Self-belief in an ability to ape a bullet is essential: a “rip” is perfection for Daley and other divers: an entry so accurate that the water simply parts and closes behind the diver with barely a ripple of a splash. With precision part of the lot of a diver and the 10m board favouring the compact, Daley’s growth is under constant supervision with a view to adjusting his training accordingly. “We could predict very accurately how big Tom is going to be by the time he stops growing,” Banks told The Times. “But its better to watch closely as he changes physically and adapt to that along the way.” Among Olympic diving champions, Dimitry Sautin and Alex Despatie are examples of brilliant 10m divers who had to adjust their talents to the 3m springboard as they became older and their bodies changed shape. Meantime, world-champion status has not yet sunk in for Daley, who celebrated his title with a fizzy orange, “Today I woke up and I almost forgot about it. I woke up, just got dressed like normal, got ready to train and went down to breakfast and someone’s like ‘oh my God Tom, I can’t believe you’re world champion’ and you’re like ‘oh, yeah, I am’. It’s crazy to think about what you have done.” By CRAIG LORD

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Synchronised Swimming

Russians have for a while now been sort of unbeatable. The Spanish who had come closest to them clinched one gold medal by taking advantage of the fact that the best athletes of the discipline missed the Free combination. Russia is as strong in Synchronised swimming as China is in Diving. Moreover, their dominance has become all the more stable and solid.

Silver forever?... Gemma Mengual of Spain collected a handful of second places behind the Russians

I.

EUROPE 7

II.

1

1

4

2

ASIA –

III.

6

AMERICA –

IV. AFRICA –

V. OCEANIA –

Photo: MAX ROSSI / REUTERS

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Synchronised Swimming 80

Others lifting, but Russia still rules While the battle to claim a gold medal over Russia may finally have been won by Spain (and only then because the Russians did not enter the water), the war is still being won, most decisively, by the nation that has shown the world the way for a decade. Speculation that Spain may surpass Russia, and with it herald a change in a sport owned by one country for many a long year, was not to be. Although Spain managed to win the FINA trophy for best overall nation with six silver medals and one gold, Russia excelled beyond the rest of the field in all but one event, the free team combination

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– the only event where they did not enter a team. At least they allowed Spain one small victory. An unsurprising result it may have been, with the Russians being so technically superior it was hard to fault them, but there was excitement over what Spain and China managed to achieve at the Foro Italico. That the Russians know their place is in no doubt. Anastasia Davydova’s comments following the free team finals was: “We are satisfied. We are not saying we are the best: it is just a matter of fact. The judges’ score proved it.”

In the synchro pool, Russia’s challenge is now not to fall victims to complacency, a fate that befell previous superpowers Canada. Noteworthy as an explanation for Russia’s continued success is the strong work ethic referred to by Davydova: “We trained hard on our lifts over the past two months. We were already aware that if we performed good lifts, we would have placed first. We feared China and Spain. We felt more confident after the judges’ score, both in the technical merit and in the artistic impression. Now we will rest.” One of their greatest fears appears to be that they may be beaten at their own

game; that their routines will be copied by opposing teams and used against them in competition, hence their secrecy over their routines in the run up to the major events. At the post-free team final press conference, Davydova , interjected comments made by Spain head coach Anna Tarres about Spain’s “new choreographies”, the Russian winner stating: “A lot of [Spain’s] exercises are from the Russian team. Yes, we see it.” Copying what the best do is commonplace in world-class sport, of course. To actually get past the leaders is more difficult. Nations who have failed to adopt Russia’s fast and technical style are

often left behind and have duly failed to survive at the top end of the sport. USA and Canada are two such examples, although Canada has managed to creep back up the ranks and claimed two bronzes in Rome: in the technical solo thanks to Marie-Pier Boudreau-Gagnon, and in the team combination.

Stepping forward... The Russian duet of Ischenko and Romashina produced the same quality as their predecessors, the Anastasias (Davydova and Ermakova)

“The progress of both Britain and China has gone hand in hand with their Olympic-host status”

China is also on the move. “Before coming to Roma, we had never won so many medals in synchronised swimming. We did not expect we could improve so fast,” said China coach Jia Wang. “Russians are faster than us in their movements. They also have better artistic expressions. We need to work on becoming faster and stronger. We still need to work hard if we want to secure a gold medal.” A big improvement indeed, having only secured one bronze medal on home ground in Beijing, they went on to win four bronze medals and one silver here in Rome. Much like Spain are hanging onto the coat tails of Russia, China are hot on the heels of Spain and thoroughly deserved to be more closely rewarded in the scores than the judges had given in the free team event. Having only been 0.334 behind Spain in the preliminary round, come the final they had seemingly slipped to a full mark behind. Many, including the crowd, felt that China’s actual performance had not be accurately reflected in the marking. The same could be said of Spain, disappointed after still being a full mark behind Russia in the free team final as in the prelims, even though they had increased their score in their final swim. It was the same story for both the technical and free duets, with challenges from Spanish favourite Gemma Mengual and her partner Andrea Fuentes falling once again to the mighty force of the Russians, despite the replacement of the Photo: ALESSANDRO BIANCHI / REUTERS

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And what of the other nations – will they ever stand a chance? Well, like China’s relatively sharp rise in performance over recent years (it must also be mentioned that this is with a very young and inexperienced team), a notable inclusion was that of Great Britain. Despite this being their first appearance in all events at the World Championships in over 10 years, they managed to qualify for all but one final. And that with a young team that managed a joint tenth place finish with Korea in the free team final. They also managed a win over Brazil in this event, despite the South Americans having far more experience in competing at this level over the past few years. This is no coincidence: the progress of both Britain and China has gone hand in hand with their Olympic-host status, with large investment fuelling their programmes. Britain’s national performance director, Biz Price, said of their performance: “We only failed to get in the final on the first day [of the team technical], but I think that was really because they [the judges] didn’t know what to expect of us, they didn’t think we’d be as good as we were.” Meanwhile, thanks to both Russia and Spain, Europe managed to win gold in every event at this year’s championships – as well as silver in all but one event, and a top three finish in the free solo with a little help from hosts Italy.

By ASHLEY NEWMAN freelancer, Great Britain

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The empress of Rome... Natalia Ischenko won five gold medals!

Natalia ISHCHENKO (RUS) 98.667

Natalia ISHCHENKO (RUS) 98.833

Gemma MENGUAL (ESP) 97.833

Gemma MENGUAL (ESP) 98.333

BOUSREAU-CAGNON (CAN) 96.000

Beatrice ADELIZZI (ITA) 95.500

Technical

Free

1. A. DAVYDOVA, S. ROMASHINA (RUS) 98.667

1. N. ISHCHENKO, S. ROMASHINA (RUS) 98.833

2. A. FUENTES, G. MENGUAL (ESP) 97.333

2. A. FUENTES, G. MENGUAL (ESP) 98.333

3. T. JIAN, W. JIAN (CHN) 95.667

3. T. JIAN, W. JIAN (CHN) 97.000

Photo: MAX ROSSI / REUTERS

Solo

Free

Duet

Synchronised Swimming

formidable Anastasias Davydova and Ermakova with younger compatriots Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina. China’s Jiang Tingting and Jiang Wenwen had to settle for bronze on both occasions. And again, both the technical and free solo events followed an Ishchenko and Mengual one-two order, with Italy’s Beatrice Adelizzi in the free and Canada in the technical coming in behind for thirds.

Technical

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Free Combination

Photos: TONY GENTILE / REUTERS

Synchronised Swimming – Team

Technical

1. SPAIN

98.333

Technical

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2. CHINA

97.667

3. CANADA

96.167

Free

1. RUSSIA (centre)

98.833

1. RUSSIA (centre)

99.167

2. SPAIN (right)

97.833

2. SPAIN (right)

98.167

3. CHINA (left)

96.667

3. CHINA (left)

97.167

Great run... The Europeans can hold their head high after Rome

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Open Water Swimming

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EUROPE 5

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OCEANIA 1

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1

2

1

AMERICA –

IV. AFRICA –

V. ASIA –

The competitions in Ostia got off to a stormy start: the 5 km events had to be postponed due to bad weather. But then they turned out to be marvellous. While a photo finish was needed to decide the winner of the 5km event (Melissa Gorman, of Australia, defeated the reigning champion from Russia, Larisa Ilchenko), the other events ended with sure European victories. Thomas Lurz won twice and teammate Angela Maurer managed another German triumph. The home crowd cheered for Valerio Cleri’s home triumph, while the Britain’s Olympic silver medallist Keri-Anne Payne won the women’s 10km.

A preview for 2010?... The 30th European Championships might feature the same champions in the open water events

Photo: WOLFGANG RATTAY / REUTERS

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Lurz also benefited from the fact that Olympic champion Maarten van der Weijden (NED) had finished his career after Beijing. And neither were Olympic silver medallist David Davies (GBR) nor title holder Vladimir Diatchin on the start line. Moreover, Francis Crippen might possibly have won without his misfortune at the last marker buoy. “I also got the luck I needed there,” said Lurz, who drank to his double success “like a Bavarian, with a glass of wheat beer”. Lurz does not have much time to celebrate or relax. After the World Championships, he intends to enter the World Cup, but the really big goal remains the 2012 London Olympics. Lurz was forced to wait for his second world champi-

2. Spyridon GIANNIOTIS (GRE) 56:27.20

3. Chad HO (RSA) 56:41.90

No way back for the Dutch hero Olympic champion Maarten van der Weijden of Holland categorically ruled out coming out of retirement, as a spectator on the beach. “I enjoyed following the racing, but will no longer get involved myself”, said van der Weijden: “That’s the way it will stay.“

1. Thomas LURZ (GER) 1:52.06.90

2. Andrew GEMMELL (USA) 1:52.08.30

Men 10 km

FINA eventually decided against relocating the events to Lake Bracciano, 30 kilometres north of Rome. Once racing did in Ostia, the weather revealed something of its better side. It was only on the last day that high waves made the 25km, the most gruelling of the big distance events. After that initial delay, the time came for Thomas Lurz to strike again. The German did not only fish two gold medals out of the Mediterranean, over 5km and 10km, but also drew level with Larisa Ilchenko as the most successful longdistance swimmer, with eight world titles. The Russian star does not have such good memories of the World Championships this time round, however. Troubled by a thigh muscle injury, her winning streak was first broken over 5km, before Ilchenko pulled out of the Olympic distance. In addition to Lurz, the Italian Valerio Cleri ensured a home victory – with fire in his belly – over 25km. Among the women, Australia’s Melissa Gorman claimed the 5km title, British Olympic silver medallist Keri-Anne Payne stepped up a place over 10km and German Angela Maurer was crowned 25km champion and “queen of the super-distances”. The benchmark, however, was again set by Thomas Lurz. When the 29-year old Bavarian was declared double world champion, he first picked up his mobile and sent the happy message “I’m pretty proud of myself” to his mum and his girlfriend. Above all, his second success meant an awful lot to the Olympic bronze

medallist: “The Olympic distance is even more important than the five kilometres. Now I have to take all this in.” Over 5km. Lurz, in a time of 56:26.9 minutes, relegated Greece’s Spyridon Gionniotis and South Africa’s Chad Ho to second and third places. Despite only having a short time to recover, Lurz impressed again one day later, with an irresistible closing sprint. After an emotional rollercoaster, he triumphed in 1:52:06.9 hours, ahead of the USA duo of Andrew Gemmell and Francis Crippen. “Over the last kilometre my emotions were changing every ten metres. In the end I could only see the blue finishing tape and was thinking: I must get my hand there first,” stated Lurz.

1. Thomas LURZ (GER) 56:26.90

3. Francis CRIPPEN (USA) 1:52.10.70

Sea-master... Thomas Lurz was unstoppable – again

1. Valerio CLERI (ITA) 5:26.31.60

2. Trent GRIMSEY (AUS) 5:26.50.70

Photo: ALESSANDRO BIANCHI / REUTERS

3. Vladimir DYATCHIN (RUS) 5:29.29.30

Men 25 km

The weather tried the patience of open water swimmers at the World Championships, in front of the Gates of Rome. On the eve of racing, a storm over the Lido di Ostia disrupted the schedule. Storms caused severe damage, including destruction of the stopper mats and the starting platforms. The damage was said to have run to euros 100,000 and dictated that swimmers start not from the pontoon but in the water.

Lurz storms through the Mediterranean

onship medal, which was only handed to him at the presentation ceremony in the Foro Italico in Rome following a delay. The reason: the Italians had submitted a protest, because Crippen, who finished third, swam past a directional buoy and dived right under the finish line. Yet Valerio Cleri’s hopes of being awarded bronze through an official decision were not fulfilled, as FINA acceded to the USA’s counter-protest. Cleri had other reasons to be proud. Displaying the right reaction after losing out on bronze over 10km through the decision of officials, the Italian raced with determination over 25km. “I was laughing inside”, said Cleri, though in public he did not want to hear anything about revenge: “I don’t think so. I was involved in two good races. I was even better prepared over the really long distance.” Following a slog through the swelling waters, Cleri triumphed in a time of 5:26:31.6, ahead of Australian Trent Grimsey and Russia’s Vladimir Diatchin Grimsey was not only pleased about the silver medal. “I was worried all the time

Men 5 km

Photo: WOLFGANG RATTAY / REUTERS


2. Larisa ILCHENKO (RUS) 56:56.30

Women 5 km

1 . Melissa GORMAN (AUS) 56:55.80

1. Keri-Anne PAYNE (GBR) 2:01.37.10

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through the season when we thought we had to think about freestyle.” Payne went from the beach straight to an ice bath before donning constriction clothing that she will wear for the next three days when not swimming. The aim to help her body to recover in time for the 200m medley in the pool on Sunday. As to not having focussed on open water all season, Payne replied: “I was pretty confident in my fitness. You don’t go from an Olympic silver medallist to a bad swimmer overnight.” Sean Kelly, her coach in Stockport, added: “We’ve done a lot more speed work this season and she hasn’t put in as many metres [in training] as she did last year. But she’s got a huge backlog of work to rely on.” The 21-year old also benefited from the fact that Olympic champion Larisa Ilchenko was injured and could not keep racing until the end. “The medical department did a brilliant job but the pain was just too much. I could only use my

arms”, Ilchenko said, describing the second abandonment of her career. One day before, her winning streak had been broken when she finished second over 5km after a five-year spree of winning every 5km and 10km race she had entered. Handicapped by her muscle problems, Ilchenko lost the closing sprint by a half second to the Australian Melissa Gorman, in a time of 56:56.3. She was also unlucky in not correctly catching the blue finish tape at the end. Angela Maurer gave herself the best birthday present to conclude the open water competition over 25km. Two days before her 34th birthday, the police officer from Mainz didn’t hang around in the heavy sea and later fell into the arms of her husband and coach Nikolai Evseev. “That was the hardest race of my life. At the end everything went through my mind”, said Maurer, who finished in a time of 5:47:48.0, ahead of Russia’s Anna Uwarowa and Italian Federica Vitale. “I was really hoping the race would

be abandoned because of the waves after 20 kilometres. It was difficult to keep concentration. At the end I made use of my experience”, said the mother of a four-year old boy. This was Maurer’s second world title, following on from 2006, and payback for Beijing, where she just missed out on a medal in the Olympic debut event, finishing fourth. “Now I can happily and calmly celebrate my birthday”, said Maurer, who had earlier taken fifth place in the 10km. This was Maurer’s first race over 25km since the world open water title in 2006. “I had been concentrating on the ten kilometres because of the Beijing Olympics. I am very happy that things worked out again right away over the longer distance”, said Maurer, who went on a maternity break in 2005, before coming back even stronger. She definitely intends to continue her career until the 2012 London Olympics. “I will be trying again there,” she said.

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3. Martina GRIMALDI (ITA) 2:01.38.60

Feedback... It’s drinks and not the suits that boost the athletes here

1. Angela MAURER (GER) 5:47.48.00

2. Anna UVAROVA (RUS) 5:47.51.90

by HOLGER LUHMANN, LEN Press Commission Member, Germany

3. Federica VITALE (ITA) 5:47.52.70

Women 25 km

about jellyfish and was always on the lookout for them. Fortunately, none of them got in my way”, explained the Australian. In the women’s 10km, Keri-Anne Payne, having taken silver at the Beijing Olympics, stepped up to gold in Ostia. Payne did not only keep her nerves under control, but also her rivals. With a time of 2:01:37.1, she finished ahead of Ekaterina Seliverstova from Russia, and local challenger Martina Grimaldi. “I was really very nervous before the race. I could feel the pressure”, said Payne: “But I was very concentrated and really wanted to do it.” The victory was also important to Payne with a view to the 2012 Olympics in London. “I know now that I can win. To repeat that in London would be my greatest dream, of course”, said Payne. The only reason that Payne was in the 10km race at Ostia was to chase the money needed to pay her way to the London 2012 Games: “It was a funding issue. We were three-quarters way

Photo: ALESSANDRO BIANCHI / REUTERS

2. Ekatarina SELIVERSTOVA (RUS) 2:01.38.00

Women 10 km

3. Poliana OKIMOTO (BRA) 56:59.30


Water Polo Beginning of the end... Serbia and Spain met on the first and last days in the men’s tournament

There have been major changes! Of the men’s great quartets – Hungary, Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro – neither the Olympic champions (Hungary) nor the European champions made it to the semi-finals, thus Serbia prevailed this time. There was no European team in the women’s final, the most successful squads from our Continent competed for the third place this time. A hallmark of the matches this time round: referees were sometimes the centre of attention instead of players.

I.

EUROPE 1

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AMERICA 1

III.

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ASIA – AFRICA – OCEANIA –

Photo: LASZLO BALOGH / REUTERS

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Water Polo – Men

PROF I LE

Open events on the tennis court SORO Slobodan AVRAMOVIC Marko GOCIC Zivko UDOVICIC Vanja GAK Slavko PIJETLOVIC Dusko NIKIC Slobodan ALEKSIC Milan RADJEN Nikola FILIPOVIC Filip PRLAINOVIC Andrija MITROVIC Stefan PIJETLOVIC Gojko Coach: UDOVICIC Dejan

Europe reigned among the men, another non-European final among the women: it could easily have been the same old, boring story. But it turned out to be the most exciting one of the decade. “Easier? I don’t think we can use this word. We had a game against Italy in Rome. Now we beat the triple Olympic Champions, and will face the World Champions. And on the final day we’ll either meet the Olympic silver medallist or the team that defeated us in the opening round. You can say anything but easy.”

AGUILAR Inaki GARCIA Mario MARTIN David MALLARACH Blai MOLINA Guillermo MINGUELL Marc GALLEGO Ivan ESPANOL Albert VALLES Xavier PERRONE Felipe PEREZ Ivan GARCIA Xavier LOPEZ Daniel Coach: AGUILAR Rafael

Couldn’t believe our eyes... The men’s tournament was full of upsets

First up: Italy in Rome. Though the current Settebello are by far the weakest Italian side of the last two decades, they are still capable of matching anyone when playing in front of 5,000 home fans. Second etape: Hungary. The greatest arch-rival, the Olympic champions. By the end of extra-time, Serbia claimed the prize after surviving a scare when the Hungarians rallied back from 2-5 to 7-5 in the third. In the semis: Croatia, the world titleholder, in a game not to be missed anywhere, at any time and at any round. Same style, same power, same iron-will.

VACS Photo: ANIKO KO

SERBIA

So came the reply from Serbian head coach Dejan Udovicic in the media mixed zone when asked whether it would be easier for them as they just knocked out Olympic title-holders Hungary in the quarters. He was right. Still, he could not foresee what a thriller awaited his youngsters in the final. The Serbians got their gold the hard way. After losing their very first game, to Spain, they found themselves on an extremely difficult course, one that even the Tour de France would be proud of. They climbed one mountain after another in the knockout phase of the tournament.

SPAIN BRZICA Ivo BURIC Damir BOSKOVIC Miho DOBUD Niksa BULJUBASIC Ivan ANTONIJEVIC Srdan KARAC Frano BUSLJE Andro SUKNO Sandro BARAC Samir HINIC Igor OBRADOVIC Paulo PAVIC Josip Coach: RUDIC Ratko

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Play-killers: the turnover fouls

Photo: LASZLO BALOGH / REUTERS

This time Serbia won – paying something back for Melbourne 2007, when the Croats soundly beat them at the same stage. And finally, Spain, the team that had taught the young guys a tough lesson at the beginning. Now the Serbs got their revenge: for the loss two weeks earlier and for the loss in the bronze-medal game of the 2007 championships. The latter hurt them badly as the last Olympic berth was at stake in 2007: an unexpectedly nervous summer followed. All in all, there was a soccer-like ending for the championships: for the very first time the title was decided on a penalty shootout (note: the Serbs also lost on penalties to Spain in that bronzemedal game in Melbourne).

It was a suitable finish to a fortnight that went by a rare motto in the sport: anything can happen. Entering the 21st century, men’s water polo boasted a cast system. A rigid one at that. At the top of the heap stood the Brahmins, the Hungarians and the Serbians, contesting all finals between 2004 and 2007, always reaching the semis and earning a medal. Croatia, Spain, earlier Greece, then Montenegro belonged to the kshatriyas – others from the lower casts were hardly allowed to reach the podium. In 2005 and 2007, only Europeans reached the last eight, all others locked out. That was something the IOC didn’t like. An Olympic sport’s quarter-finals round should not be a single-continent show, some believed. Their prayers were answered when Team USA reached the final in Beijing. Coming up, going down... Germany (their best player Politze in black) caused the upset of the event by knocking out Montenegro, while Hungary (three time Olympic Champion Gergely Kiss in white) missed the semis for the 2nd time in the last 25 majors

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And in Rome the show went on – and within a single week the cast disappeared. It was a new deal that water polo had needed so badly for years. No more Balkan Games – it was the Rome Open in the pool built on the tennis courts of the Foro Italico. A truly open tournament where everything could happen: Spain beat Serbia, Romania beat Italy, Germany drew with Hungary then lost to Canada. Heavens Above! Could it be true? Yeah – and look what followed: the Germans knocked out Montenegro, everyone’s title favourite as the only team not to have made major changes since Beijing. Montenegro managed 9th place. That was tough for them to swallow: almost a year ago the national side won the European Championships in Malaga and finished 4th in their first Olympics. Just two months before Rome the country celebrated when Primorac Kotor grabbed the Euroleague-title. There was a price to pay. As their head coach Petar Porobic, put it: “Some players carried their nose pretty high in the air. They were forced to return to earth.” It was a painful landing. They kept strange: Montenegro, Italy, Australia – all finishing between 9th and 12th. The Italians tried to build a new team again with Sandro Campagna at the helm after his return from Greece (which reminds us to note that Greece faded away, as did Russia: those two teams played for the bronze medal in Athens, 2004, but failed to qualify for Rome 2009 ...just winds but gales of change). Campagna faced a much harder task than he had in 2001: then he lead the

Referees are good targets in this sport: if you need an easy explanation for your loss, just blame those with whistles in their mouths. However, Rome saw some significant drop in the level of refereeing after we had really well-handled games in Malaga and in Beijing. Experts pointed out the lack of consistency and again the enormous number of turnover-fouls. Altogether 1374 were called just in the men’s field which is a 28 per-game average so you have almost one turnover-foul in each minute. This is the „shiny-suit-problem“ of water polo: a call against the ball-possessing team means another attack halted by the referee – killing the possibility to create something spectacular. One of the head-coches said: for the good of the game, it would be necessary for the members of the FINA TWPC to do their job as humbly as the players and coaches do – this would effect the referees‘ approach, too. „And – he added – we would welcome to hear the TWPC gathers the referees in each or every second night in their five-star hotel and do some video-analysis just as the teams. Similar to what the FIFA-bosses do during a football World Cup. It might result a different story in our sport as well.“

Settebello to the European final and to the semis of the World Championships; now we saw Campagna and his staff, featuring Amadeo Pomilio and Francesco Attolico, on the bench, and it was hard not to feel sorrow for them. Just 15 years ago these three geniuses, together with ten others, marched to the 1994 title at the Foro Italico, playing brilliantly and in devastating fashion. Now? Their current players struggle to give back anything the triumvirate taught them. However, Campagna insists they are on the right path and need some time to bring everything together. The farewell of the huge Alessandro Calcaterra – on his last appearance for the national team – will not make Campagna’s task easier. Back to the quarters: few expected such pairings as Croatia vs Romania, USA vs Germany, Spain vs Canada and the mouthwatering clash of Serbia and Hungary. A new landscape – but much more attractive for the outsider (and for the IOC). Although that was the end of the surprises: the first three games went the old way, so to say, while the Serbians and the Hungarians produced an encounter of the highest quality. The triple Olympic champions continue to search for the successors of greats such as Kasas, Benedek and Molnar (nine Olympic golds among them) though they showed some of their current strength, killing 14 man-downs

out of 19 against Serbia, a feat no other side might be capable of. Under Denes Kemeny, the Hungarians suffered what was only the second time they had missed the semis of any major competition: since 1997 until now, they had won 23 medals in 25 appearances (the other victory ceremony they watched from the tribune took place in Fukuoka, 2001). In the end, Europe swept the medals, with the US fourth this time, a good result given that head coach Terry Schroeder told LEN Magazine in March that they need time to rebuild the team after key players had retired after Beijing. At the same time, Croatia had to change seven members for different reasons, but the Rudic&Co. squad played some great water polo against Montenegro in the group stages, earning a relatively easier route to the podium. Spain almost had it all, not surprisingly: since 2004 Rafael Aguilar developed the team to a formidable unit, step by step they advanced, almost caught Hungary in 2007 (losing only in extratime, semis), then they beat Serbia with their balanced and disciplined game on the first day and almost did it again on the last one. Had Molina opted to pass the ball, not shoot directly on a 2-on-1 encounter at 7-6, it would have been a different story, with a two goal lead in extra-time... However, this was Serbia’s championship as they progressed the hard way.

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Water Polo – Women

ARMSTRONG Elizabeth PETRI Heather HAYES Brittany VILLA Brenda WENGER Lauren GANDY Tanya RULON Kelly STEFFENS Jessica WINDES Elsie GREGORKA Alison van NORMAN Moriah CRAIG Kameryn KOMER Jaime Coach: KRIKORIAN Adam

USA RIDDELL Rachel ALOGBO Krystina MONTON Katrina CSIKOS Emily BEKHAZI Joelle GENOWAY Whitney TOMIUK Rosanna PERREAULT Dominique EGGENS Carmen ROBINSON Christine CAMPBELL Tara RADU Marina JANSSENS Marissa Coach: OATEN Patrick

CANADA PROTSENKO Evgeniya GLYZINA Nadezda PROKOFYEVA Ekaterina KONUKH Sofya VYLEGZHANINA Alena RYZHOVA-ALENICHEVA Natalia PANTYULINA Ekaterina SOBOLEVA Evgenia TIMOFEEVA Anna BELYAEVA Olga IVANOVA Evgenia GAUFLER Yulia KOVTUNOVSKAYA Maria Coach: KABANOV Alexander

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Photo: LASZLO

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ERS

After the last members of the great generation – Sefik, Sapic, Savic, Vujasinovic, Ciric – said good-bye, it was time to bring in the full brigade of the Partizan Beograd. This is the old school of the East: the No. 1. club is the same as the national team. Training and practicing together the whole season: a great advantage against those who have 7-10 weeks to piece a team together. The Serbs have a handful of 20-23 year-old talented kids and try to keep them in Beograd for the entire Olympic cycle (closing out the offers usually coming from the Mediterranean). They had just added Vanja Udovicic from Recco to the line-up and they were ready to conquer. Of course, like any other team, they could have been caught. As Dejan Udovicic said: “Forget the old world of water polo, where Serbia, Hungary, Croatia and Montenegro ruled everything. We have equal sides, balanced games, a really colourful field. And that’s good for the sport.” As such, the men could be said to have caught up with the women’s game. Take these unpredictable tournaments, the final fours of the majors: Barcelona, 2003 – USA-ITA-RUS-CAN; Athens, 2004 – ITA-GRE-USA-AUS; Montreal,

Over-sees... The final was a North American affair between the USA and Canada (Wenger and Alogbo fight for the ball)

2005 – HUN-USA-RUS-CAN; Melbourne, 2007 – USA-AUS-RUS-HUN; Beijing, 2008 – NED-USA-AUS-HUN. And Now: USA-CAN-RUS-GRE. The women’s game has long counter-balanced the European dominance of the men, as in the past half decade the other continents always grabbed two places in the semis (add China’s surprising march in Beijing and you have a four-continent-strong sport – that’s a good sign). At the previous two world championships, Europe was closed out from the final, and looking at the final standings in Rome we can label only the US as a firm powerhouse (earning medals in all events since 2003, and reaching all four World Championship finals), the others ebb and flow. Canada’s great run should be highlighted: after failing to qualify for the Olympics they started to work in October and kept the national team together since then – and formed a phalanx worthy of the ancient Romans: they truly battled their way through the final, in a fashion more efficient than spectacular.

Another piece of good news: Greece and Russia clashed for the bronze. At least these two traditional European countries have something to cheer for in water polo, the success of their women providing incentive, perhaps, for their men at a time when those two teams are reduced to keeping their fingers crossed when it comes to making the second week of the tournaments, men and women. No nation can expect to gold medals these days, it seems, on a world stage. (Italy achieved the double at the Europeans back in 1995, while taking two world silvers in 2003. At home in Rome, both men and women finished 9th ,how bizarre that sounded at the Foro Italico). Others to get close to double celebration: Greece in Athens, Hungary in Montreal (silver and gold) and in Beijing, and the US in Beijing and now in Rome. We seem to be in the midst of the most exciting Olympic-cycle ever. By GERGELY CSURKA Editor of LEN Magazine Hungary

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LEN FA MI LY

Best ones in the family Here is the greatest news for members of the LEN family: all but one European countries sent their athletes to the Rome 2009 World Championships. In this special issue we dedicate the usual news column to the best swimmer of each nation, based on finishing position. Albania Endi Babi: 56. (200m fly, 2:05.65)

Andorra Haciane Hocine: 39. (200m breast, 2:15.37)

Austria Mirna Jukic: 3. (200m breast: 2:21.97)

Azerbaijan Boris Kirillov: 59. (200m back: 2:10.96)

Armenia Khachik Plavchyan: Belarus 65. Aleksandra (200m back: Herasimenia: 2:14.19) 5. (50m back: 27.62)

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Belgium Croatia Tom Vangeneugden: Duje Draganja: 13. 4. (1500 free: 15:12.95) (50m free: 21.38)

Bosnia and Herzegovina Ensar Hajder: 35. (1500m free: 16:32.01)

Bulgaria Nina Rangelova: 26. (200m free: 2:00.60)

Cyprus Anna Stylianou: 30. (200m free: 2:01.33)

Denmark Lotte Friis: 1. (800m free: 8:15.92)

Georgia Irakli Revishvili: 32. (800m free: 8:20.55)

Estonia Triin Aljand: 14. (50m fly: 26.16)

Germany Britta Steffen: 1. (100m free: 52.07)

Faroe Island Pal Joensen: 17. (1500m free: 15:21.37)

Gibraltar Colin Bensandon: 57. (400m IM: 4:47.14)

Hungary Latvia Katinka Hosszú: Andrejs Duda: 1. 40. (400m IM: 4:30.31) (50m fly: 24.03)

Iceland Jakob Johan Sveinsson: 25. (200m breast: 2:12.39)

Liechtenstein Monaco No entries Angelique Trinquier: 87. (100m back: Lithuania 1:10.58) Griderius Titenis: 3. (200m breast: 2:07.80)

Ireland Barry Murphy: 13. (50m breast: 27.38)

Montenegro Entries in men‘s water polo: 13. Luxembourg Laurent Carnol: 31. (200m breast: 2:13.00)

Finland Hanna Maria Seppala: 10. (100m free: 53.82)

France Frederick Bousquet: Czech 2. Republic Simona Baumrtova: (50m free: 21.21) 15. (200m back: 2:10.79)

Great Britain Liam Tancock: 1. (50m back: 24.04)

Turkey Derya Buyukuncu: 23. (200m back: 1:59.49)

Romania Alina Camelia Potec: 3. (1500m free: 15:55.63)

Slovenia Ukraine Matjaz Markic: Igor Borysik: 6. 5. (50m breast: 27.10) (100m breast: 59.23)

Russia Yuliya Efimova: 1. (50m breast: 30.09)

Spain Rafael Perez Munoz: 3. (100m fly: 50.41)

San Marino Simona Muccioli: 43. (200m fly: 2:19.84)

Sweden Sarah Sjöström: 1. (100m fly: 56.06)

Serbia Milorad Cavic: 1. (50m fly: 22.67)

Switzerland Dominik Meichtry: 9. (200m free: 1:46.13)

Norway Ingvild Snildal: 3. (50m fly: 25.58)

Italy Federica Pellegrini: 1. (400m free: 3:59.15) Malta Neil Agius: 45. (800m free: 8:54.06)

Slovakia Katarina Filova: 24. (200m free: 2:00.11)

Netherlands Marleen Veldhuis: 3. (50m free: 23.99)

Israel Gal Nevo: 6. (400m IM: 4:12.33) Macedonia Bojan Jovanov: 60. (200m fly: 2:07.34)

Greece Aresteidis Grigoriadis: 7. (50m back: 24.87)

Moldova Portugal Veronica Pedro D. Oliveira: Vdovicenco: 14. 55. (200m fly: 1:56.25) (50m breast: 33.46)

Poland Pawel Korzeniowski: 2. (200m fly: 1:53.23)

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Against the wind...

The European Swimming Federation held its annual Congress in Zurich 28th September 2008. First they elected the President and the Bureau members, then they decided – by secret ballot – on the continental representatives in the FINA Bureau for the 2009-2013 period. The FINA Constitution stipulates that Europe is entitled to six seats in the FINA Bureau. For the election of four of these seats “only the members of the respective continent may nominate and vote on their candidates”, while the candidates for the remaining two seats are elected within the so-called “World at large” procedure, by the representatives of the five continents, i.e. by the whole FINA Congress. Back in Zurich, Nory Kruchten, Paolo Barelli, Tamás Gyárfás and Dimitris Diathesopoulos received most of the votes. So far, out of the four candidates only Nory (the former LEN Treasurer and the newly elected LEN President) has been a member of the highest body of FINA, for the others it was the first time to get this chance. Their (our) big happiness was quite justified. They (we) received congratulations from the entire FINA leadership of that time present at the event: President Mustapha Larfaoui, Honorary Secretary Bartolo Consolo and Honorary Treasurer Julio Maglione, among others. LEN Secretary Sven Folvik was placed fifth at the elections in Zurich, followed by the new Treasurer of LEN, Christa Thiel. One could say, they have become “ex officio” eligible within FINA’s “World at large” voting in Rome some ten months later. In the past, this confrontation was a simple formality at the FINA Congress, since no European candi-

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But the devil never sleeps. During the weeks preceding the FINA Congress in Rome, news was continuously pouring in: several members were considering running on a ‘come-what-may’ basis. It’s

no coincidence that in his circular letter sent to the leaders of the LEN member federations, President Nory Kruchten underlined that they should respect the decision made in Zurich for it had been democratically taken and to some extent, it is also stipulated by the Constitution. “If the principles of fair play and sportsmanship are not cared for and respected by the persons who are governing our sport, what kind of example are we giving our athletes who we ask to follow these same principles?”

would support Gennady Aleshin and Paulo Frischknecht as the European candidates for the World at large voting. It happened that a few weeks earlier in Singapore, Julio Maglione who was running for President met the Presidents of the American, Asian and Oceanian federations. In addition to consulting on a number of other issues, they agreed to vote for the Russian and the Portuguese candidates in Rome. This way, there was no chance left for the fifth and sixth placed at the LEN Congress in Zurich, because – unlike the four “basic members” – they needed the votes of all continents’ delegates, not only those of Europe. In the meantime, the parties reaching the compromise agreed to make efforts to ensure adequate positions in FINA for the LEN leaders Christa Thiel and Sven Folvik originally running for the fifth and sixth seat, but left without a hope of success in this new situation. The main driver of this manifold cooper-

Now I see that I had no reason to do so. “The error lies in your own device” as telephone service providers would tell the helpless subscribers: It wasn’t FINA trying to impose its own will upon Europe. The one unable to defeat its own weakness was Europe. That said, such a conclusion may not reflect the complete picture. Just before the Congress, however – as a result of the persistent work of two

Although the President had intended this question to be a rhetorical one, some expressed their incomprehension. Dimitris Diathesopoulos President of the Hellenic Swimming Federation forwarded his answer to Nory Kruchten to all member countries of LEN: “From my experience being an attorney at Law for 32 years, in order to change or otherwise alter such decision, there are two ways: either the LEN Congress to make a different decision or such decision to be appealed to the proper court by anyone that has the legal right, which latter has not happened, so the decision is LEGAL, IN GOOD STANDING and APPLICABLE. Consequently, asking the LEN member Federations to confirm their vote and the result is not serious, to say the least.” Speaking of response letters, I lamented a little myself: “If it really happens that we start to vote for something we had previously agreed on and this attitude proves to be valid, I think it would

that Christa Thiel and Sven Folvik ended up by not running against Aleshin and Frischknecht showed that even they had understood and accepted this solution of compromise. The two of them – together with Diathesopoulos – passed the exam with an “A”, because if they had run they would not have been the ones to violate the spirit of the LEN Congress at all. Would it have been too nice if Europe had finally shown its nicer face? Despite all joint efforts, Francis Luyce and Rafael Blanco decided to take advantage of the FINA rules and – despite the decision of the LEN Congress – run for the four basic positions already assigned in Zurich. However, prior to the voting, the representative of the Spanish Federation announced the resignation of Blanco, so in the end, the French VicePresident of LEN was the only one to come against the decision of the Zurich Congress. The number of his supporters

The newly elected European representatives in the FINA Bureau: Nory Kruchten, Paolo Barelli, Tamás Gyárfás, Dimitris Diathesopoulos, Paulo Frischknecht, Gennady Aleshin

FINA-lly... After long discussions the democratic decision taken in Zurich prevailed

neutral sports professionals and LEN Bureau members, Erik van Heijningen VicePresident (NED) and David Sparkes (GBR) – a mutual agreement was reached with the candidates most concerned in the case: the four persons elected to the FINA Bureau in Zurich, as well as with two newly shown up candidates for the two additional seats, the Russian LEN Vice-President Gennady Aleshin and the President of the Portuguese Swimming Federation Paulo Frischknecht. Everyone agreed to support Julio Maglione (URU) as the new FINA President and Paolo Barelli (ITA) as the new Honorary Secretary. On the other hand mutual compromise was necessary with respect to three additional points. They would jointly make efforts to ensure that everyone should approve the four candidates in conformity with the results of the LEN Congress elections. Meanwhile, in the spirit of the intentions of FINA Congress delegates they

Photo: DEEPBLUMEDIA

I was angry with FINA. I was very angry. And yet, I have to admit: the problem lies in us. Or hopefully the problem lay with us. It is on purpose that I used the past tense, for what happened between the LEN and the FINA Congress must not be repeated.

dates used to run against the results of the LEN Congress, even if the FINA Constitution permits it. The position of the first four candidates seemed even more unequivocal, since it was the task of the Continent itself to decide upon them. The only questions lately raised in this matter were “Where?” and “When?” The answer given to this question by the FINA leaders led by Mustapha Larfaoui at the Congress in Rome was clear from the very beginning: it didn’t matter. Their only concern was that any agreement reached “wherever and whenever” had to be confirmed by the FINA Congress. The four European candidates (similarly to the four American, three Asian, three African candidates, as well as the candidate from Oceania) had to be approved by the FINA Congress. If the voting results of the LEN Congress are respected by all the members of LEN, there is nothing left to talk about; in this case, the long-waited “approved” decision is obviously made. However, if anyone, for any reason did not share the common decision made by the LEN Congress, i.e. their own decision, that is considered LEN’s own problem. If the members of LEN itself refuse to accept the decision of the Congress (the active participants of which they had been and where they raised no protest) there is nobody to blame except for LEN. Should even one additional person decide to run for one of the four seats already assigned, the President of FINA must act as if nothing happened in Zurich, as if there was no voting at all at the LEN Congress. In such case, the entire procedure is to be started again from the beginning. For a long time, nobody has imagined such an event could happen for real. What nonsense! How could a LEN member, let alone a prestigious LEN leader refuse to accept the democratic decision of the LEN Congress?! The only fact of assuming such a possibility should be considered an offence.

be worthwhile to introduce it for the swimming competitions as well. Let’s suppose Magnini defeats Bernard in the 100m freestyle in Rome. No problem at all. Bring a good lawyer in, and this could be enough for a re-swim.” I even asked to be notified 2 days prior to the start of the European Championships in Budapest (4th of August), should they decide on another country as venue of Championship. And in the meantime I kept scandalizing FINA.

ation was to stand up for the unity of Europe once again. In order to follow this initiative Dimitris Diathesopoulos abandoned his ambitions to become FINA Vice-President, although he had the support of COMEN, a quite powerful umbrella organization of the Mediterranean region. He stepped back, to best serve the cause of the European unity. It was not a secret agreement: the President of LEN immediately disclosed it in a circular letter and on the day prior to the FINA Congress the European representatives who gathered in a meeting were also informed and were provided the opportunity to discuss it. At the beginning, many of them were resenting the fact that despite the results of the voting in Zurich, LEN has given up on supporting Christa Thiel and Sven Folvik. However, learning from the facts and the intentions of the other continents, most of them came to accept that this solution would deliver the best result. The fact

was however far from being sufficient: he received 22 votes, compared to Barelli’s 93, Kruchten’s 87, Gyárfás’ 79 and Diathesopoulos’ 78 votes. The second round did not play into his hands either with his around 100 votes against Frischknecht’s 268 and Aleshin’s 237 votes. In spite of the facts, this article is not intended to be written against anybody in particular. I simply consider it my obligation to provide the Federations with accurate information ... and in order to avoid a similar situation ever happen again. by TAMÁS GYÁRFÁS Editor-in-chief of LEN Magazine, Hungary

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European officers in the leading bodies of FINA Doping Panel

New FINA leaders

Chairman Erik Van Heijningen (NED)

Dr. Julio Maglione

Paolo Barelli *

Pipat Paniangvait

At its General Congress held during the 13th FINA World Championships in Rome, FINA elected a new President, Dr. Julio Maglione (URU), a new Honorary Secretary, Paolo Barelli (ITA) and a new Honorary Treasurer, Pipat Paniangvait (THA) for the period 2009-2013.

Mustapha Larfaoui The Congress unanimously elected Mustapha Larfaoui Honorary Life President.

LEN Vice-President President of the Royal Dutch Swimming Federation Member Robert Fox (SUI)

During its first meeting, the newly elected FINA Bureau agreed the composition of its different committees and commissions. The fact that a high number of European officers representing our sport were entrusted with many prestigious tasks in service to aquatics is a clear reflection of FINA’s respect and recognition of the continent’s long-standing contribution.

Officers in the FINA Bureau FINA Vice-President

Members:

Nory Kruchten (LUX) Member of FINA Development Commission Bureau Liaison to FINA Athletes Commission

Gennady Aleshin (RUS) Bureau Liaison to FINA Doping Control Review Board

LEN President

Disciplinary Panel Dimitris Diathesopoulos (GRE) Bureau Liaison to FINA Technical Water Polo Committee

LEN Vice-President

LEN Vice-President President of the Hellenic Swimming Federation

Paulo Frischknecht (POR) Bureau Liaison to FINA Coaches Commission

Tamás Gyárfás (HUN) Chairman of FINA Awards Commission

Immediate Past Honorary Secretary Bartolo Consolo (ITA)

Vice Chairman of FINA National Federation Relations Commission LEN Honorary Life President

Chairman Dr. Christa Thiel (GER) Member of the FINA National Federation Relations Commission

LEN Treasurer President of the German Swimming Federation Member David Sparkes (GBR)

Honorary Members: * ...and of course, Paolo Barelli the newly elected FINA Honorary Secretary also belongs to the FINA Bureau (see above)

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Rafael Blanco (ESP) Francis Luyce (FRA) Klaas van de Pol (NED) Gunnar Werner (SWE) President of the Portuguese Swimming Federation

LEN Vice-President President of the Hungarian Swimming Association

LEN Bureau Member Chief Executive of British Swimming

Officers in the Committees FINA Technical Swimming Committee Honorary Secretary Soren Korbo (DEN) Chairman of LEN Technical Swimming Committee Members: Erich Meyer (SUI) LEN Bureau Member President of the Swiss Swimming Federation Vladimir Salnikov (RUS) General Secretary of All Russian Swimming Federation Andriy Vlaskov (UKR) LEN Bureau Member Andrea Thielenhaus (GER) Member of LEN Technical Swimming Committee FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee Honorary Secretary Flavio Bomio (SUI) Chairman of LEN Technical Open Water Swimming Committee Members: Valerijus Belovas (LTU) Member of LEN Technical Open Water Swimming Committee Samuel Greetham (GBR) Secretary of LEN Technical Open Water Swimming Committee Andrea Prayer (ITA) Member of LEN Masters Committee Noam Zwi (ISR) Member of LEN Technical Open Water Swimming Committee President of Israel Swimming Association FINA Technical Diving Committee Honorary Secretary Georgia Fyrigou Consolo (GRE) Chairman of LEN Technical Diving Committee Members: Melanie J. Beck (GBR) Michael Geissbuhler (SUI) Member of LEN Technical Diving Committee Julian Llinas (ESP) Member of LEN Technical Diving Committee Anke Piper (GER) Member of LEN Technical Diving Committee Mathz Lindberg (SWE) Member of LEN Technical Diving Committee Frans van den Konijnenburg (NED) Member of LEN Technical Diving Committee

FINA Technical Water Polo Committee Chairman Gianni Lonzi (ITA) Vice Chairman of LEN Technical Water Polo Committee Members: Niculae Firoiu (GER) Manuel Ibern (ESP) Evgeny Sharonov (RUS) Member of LEN Technical Water Polo Committee Haluk Toygarli (TUR) Chairman of LEN Technical Water Polo Committee Events Sub-Committee György Martin (HUN) Member of LEN Technical Water Polo Committee President of the Hungarian Water Polo Federation Aleksandar Sostar (SRB) FINA Technical Synchronised Swimming Committee Chairman Stefania Tudini (ITA) Chairman of LEN Technical Synchronised Swimming Committee Vice Chairman Igor Kartashov (RUS) Member of LEN Masters Committee Members: Maria Jose Bilbao (ESP) Jennifer Gray (GBR) Vice Chairman of LEN Technical Synchronised Swimming Committee Livia Gut La Ragione (SUI) Svetlana Saidova (UKR) Member of LEN Technical Synchronised Swimming Committee FINA Masters Committee Honorary Secretary Kurt Mikkola (FIN) LEN Bureau Member Members: Dusan Dimitrijevic (SRB) President of the Serbian Swimming Federation Hans-Peter Sick (GER) Secretary of LEN Masters Committee Grunde Vegard (NOR) Member of LEN Masters Committee Sven Von Holst (SWE) President of the Swedish Swimming Federation Simon Rothwell (GBR) Chairman of LEN Masters Committee

FINA Sports Medicine Committee Chairman Cees-Rein van den Hoogenband (NED) Chairman of LEN Medical Committee Members: Ioan Dragan (ROU) Nanousis Kyriakos (GRE) FINA Scientific Committee Chairman Prof. Jan-Anders Manson (SUI) FINA Doping Control Review Board Willem L. Mosterd (NED) Jordi Segura (ESP)

Officers in the Commissions FINA Athletes Commission Chairman Alexander Popov (RUS) Members: Francesco Attolico (ITA) Martina Moravcova (SVK) Petar Stoychev (BUL) FINA Coaches Commission Vice Chairman Johan Wallberg (SWE) Members: Joan Jane (ESP) Jacco Verhaeren (NED) Giorgio Cagnotto (ITA) Luis Liberato Baptista (POR) FINA Legal Commission Members: Gunnar Werner (SWE) LEN Honorary Member Harm Beyer (GER) Chairman of LEN Legal Commission, LEN Honorary Member Jean-Pierre Morand (SUI) FINA Press Commission Chairman Camillo Cametti (ITA) Honorary Secretary Pedro Adrega (POR) Members: Craig Lord (GBR) Member of LEN Press Commission Elena Vaitsekhovskaya (RUS) FINA Protocol Commission Chairman Francis Luyce (FRA) LEN Vice-President President of the French Swimming Federation Member Sven Egil Folvik (NOR) LEN Secretary


F ROM T H E H EA DQUA R T ER S  The European Junior Diving Championships were held for the first time in Budapest, and in Hungary from July 1st to 5th. At a well-organised event, Europe’s upcoming young divers achieved excellent results and some capitalized on those by going on to compete as seniors at the Rome World Championships. Budapest is preparing for next year’s European Swimming Championships and organisers were able to strengthen their expertise, even when it came down to coping with the stormy weather that the Hungarian capital occasionally has to handle. The LEN Family is in good hands and looking forward to the 30th edition of our showcase summer event next year.  The European Junior Open Water Swimming Championships in Porec (CRO) were satisfactory. While the discipline continues to grow LEN and organisers must pay more attention to detail when it comes to setting up infrastructures and learning from the experience accumulated on the journey to bringing Open Water Swimming to the Olympic Program.  LEN President Nory Kruchten attended the European Junior Swimming Championships in Prague (CZE) and he declared the event open on July 8th. The five days of competition reflected the high standards we have come to expect from the continent’s youth as they prepare for the senior world that awaits them.  Meetings and discussions took place between marketing and television experts, LEN’s official marketing agency, Community, and Water Polo representatives concerning next season’s Water Polo Euro League. The uniformity of advertising at all sites, TV production requirements, promotional initiatives, and possible title sponsorship of the event were among items discussed.  LEN officials visited Copenhagen to confirm the convenience of a change of hotel for our upcoming LEN Congress on September 19th. The new venue is excellent and the change will make the stay more economic and comfortable for all.  A LEN Executive Meeting was held in Rome on July 31st, with many matters discussed, including: further considerations regarding the possibility of moving LEN’s Administrative Office; the future overall FINA-LEN calendar; current state of bids for LEN Events 2010-2012; financial matters, EOC-EU matters, including our new official status as partners of the EOC-EU Office in Brussels; sponsors & suppliers update; marketing and communication; and the upcoming LEN Congress in Copenhagen.

by LASZLO SZAKADATI LEN Director

Here comes Prince William!  The Women’s European ‘B’ Water Polo

Championships in Manchester from July 5th to 12th was a great event that gave us the extraordinary opportunity of meeting Prince William. The heir to the British throne was an active water polo player in his student days, even winning a place on the Scottish Universities’ team. His presence made a positive impact on media coverage. LEN President Nory Kruchten had the honour of meeting HRH, whose support inspired the British women’s team to victory. The much-needed promotion of the discipline in the United Kingdom as we approach the London 2012 Olympic Games is thus strengthened and reinforced with Prince William’s endorsement and love of the sport.

Events

2009

European Championships (SW, DIV, SYS, OWS) European WP Championships European WP Championships, Qualification Tournaments, Men&Women European SC SW Championships

Istanbul (TUR) 10 • 13 December Torino (ITA) 1 • 5 April European SYS Champions Cup Andorra (AND) 14 • 17 May WP Euro League “Final Four” Rijeka (CRO) 22 • 23 May European OWS Cup Legs Eilat (ISR) 31 May, Porec (CRO) 5 Jul Hoorn (NED) 2 Aug, Navia (ESP) 2 Aug European OWS Cup Final Event Marmaris-Mugla (TUR) 5 • 6 September European Masters Championships Cadiz & Seville (ESP) (SWI, DIV, SYS) 15 • 20 September European Masters WP Championships Oradea (ROU) 6 • 12 July European Junior SW Championships Prague (CZE) 8 • 12 July European Junior DIV Championships Budapest (HUN) 1 • 5 July European Junior OWS Championships Porec (CRO) 4 • 5 July European Junior SYS Championships Gloucester (GBR) 22 • 26 April European U20 WP Chmps. Men Chania (GRE) 6 • 13 September European U20 WP Chmps. Women Napoli (ITA) 13 • 20 September European Junior WP Championships, Qualification Tournaments, Men&Women European Junior WP Chmps. Men

2010 Budapest (HUN) 4 • 15 August Zagreb (CRO) 29 August • 11 September TBD 30 April • 2 May TBD 25 • 28 November

Arena DIV European Championhips

European Junior WP Chmps. Women LEN Congress

Copenhagen (DEN) 19 September

TBD 14 • 15 May TBD at LEN Congress TBD at LEN Congress

Helsinki 14 • 18 July Helsinki 9 • 13 July Bids requested TBD May

TBD 9 • 11 April TBD 1 • 8 August TBD 25 July • 1 August Limassol (CYP) May

Federations considering to host a LEN Event where this applies (see ”Bids requested”) please contact the LEN Office in Rome.

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SWIMMING

DIVING

SYNCHRONISED SWIMMING

MEN

MEN

Paul BIEDERMANN, Germany 2 gold medals with 2 WRs (200 and 400m free), 1 silver (4x100 medley)

Thomas DALEY, Great Britain World Champion, 10m platform

Natalia ISHCHENKO, Russia 5x World Champion (Solo Technical, Solo Free, Duet Tehcnical, Duet Free, Team Free)

Dmitri DOBROSKOK, Russia European Champion (3m), EC-silver (10m)

Svetlana ROMASHINA, Russia 4x World Champion (Duet Technical, Duet Free, Team Technical, Team Free)

Aleksey KRAVCHENKO, Russia European Champion (10m), EC-silver (10m synchro), WCh-5. (10m)

TEAM RUSSIA World Champion (Team Technical, Team Free)

Iliya KVASHA, Ukraine European Champion (1m, 3m synchro), ECh-silver (3m), WCh-5. (1m)

TEAM SPAIN World Champion (Free Combination), WCh-silver (Team Technical, Team Free)

Milorad CAVIC, Serbia 1 gold medal (50m fly), 1 silver (100m fly, set WR in semis) Daniel GYURTA, Hungary 1 gold medal with ER (200m breast) Liam TANCOCK, Great Britain 1 gold medal with WR (50m back)

WATER POLO MEN Miho BOSKOVIC, Croatia World Championship-bronze, Euroleague-bronze with Jug Dubrovnik Filip FILIPOVIC, Serbia World Champion and top scorer in Rome Xavier GARCIA, Spain World Championships-silver, scored 5 in the final, 2nd on the Top Scorer’s list

OPEN WATER SWIMMING

Vanja UDOVICIC, Serbia World Champion, Euroleague-runnerup with Recco

MEN Valerio CLERI, Italy World Champion (25km)

And the Award goes to... Proposals for LEN Award For the third time in a row the LEN Bureau asks the European swimming community to vote for the best aquatic athletes of the five disciplines. In addition to the views of leaders of all LEN Member Federations, the European Swim League counts on the opinions of sports directors, coaches and aquatic media representatives. In an attempt to make their choice easier we have listed below the competitors who merit most recognition. The Ceremony of Awards will take place during a festive Gala dinner to be held in December, in Istanbul, during the European Short Course Championships.

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Thomas LURZ, Germany World Champion (5km, 10km)

www.lenmagazine.com www.lenmagazine.com www.lenmagazine.com

www.lenmagazine.com www.lenmagazine.com www.lenmagazine

WOMEN Angela MAURER, Germany World Champion (25km) Keri-Anne PAYNE, Great Britain World Champion (10km) WOMEN

WOMEN

WOMEN

Yuliya EFIMOVA, Russia 1 gold medal with WR (50m breast), 1 silver with ER (100m breast)

Tania CAGNOTTO, Italy World Championships: silver (3 m synchro), bronze(3m); European Champion (1m, 3m, 3m synchro)

Alexandra ASIMAKI, Greece World Championship: 4th – winner of Euroleague with Vouliagmeni

Lotte FRIIS, Denmark 1 gold medal (800m free), 1 silver (1500m free) Katinka HOSSZÚ, Hungary 1 gold medal with ER (400m IM), 2 bronzes with ER (200m IM, 200m fly) Federica PELLEGRINI, Italy 2 gold medals with WRs (200 and 400m free) Britta STEFFEN, Germany 2 gold medals with 2 WRs (50 and 100m free), 1 silver (4x100 free), 1 bronze (4x100 medley)

Katia DIECKOW, Germany European Championships: silver (3m synchro), bronze (1m, 3m) Yulia KOLTUNOVA, Russia European Champion (10m, 10m synchro) Julia PAKHALINA, Russia World Champion (1m), WCh-bronze (3m synchro)

Iefke van BELKUM, The Netherlands World Championships, 5th – Top Scorer of the World Championships Sofya KONUKH, Russia World Championships-bronze – Euroleague 3rd with Kirishi Natalia RYZHOVA-ALENICHEVA, Russia World Championhips-bronze – Winner of LEN Trophy with Shturm Chehov

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PH OTO COMPET I T I ON 2009 61

Capture the moment! There were millions o unforgettable moments caught on camera at the World Championships in Rome as well as at a variety of aquatic events throughout the year. We have asked leading photographers to send in their best photos of the

year so that the LEN Bureau can choose the best three, by secret ballot. We will announce the name of the three winners in the next edition of the LEN Magazine. The list of photographers who entered the competition will not be

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published, only the names of the top three shall be made known. You can review and enjoy all the entries on the LEN Magazine website, www.lenmagazine.com, where all readers can vote for their choice of the LEN Popularity Prize. You simply have to click on the photo of your choice. Each voter is kindly requested to vote just once! 111

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