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YOUR GOALS. YOUR YEAR. Take your swimming to the next level now.




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by Dan D'Addona

Photos Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli & Giorgio Scala Insidefoto / Deepbluemedia

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2017 EUROPEAN SHORT COURSE CHAMPIONSHIPS - FULL FINALS RECAP by Cathleen Pruden, David Rieder & Jason Tillotston

With no team within striking distance on the final day of the NCAA Division I men’s championship, the Longhorns capped a week of stellar performances by capturing their third consecutive national championship...

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All the finals action from all five nights at the 2017 European Short Course Championships in Copenhagen.

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Before Caeleb Dressel mastered long course to the tune of seven World Championship gold medals, his short course abilities had already reached legend status...


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The bond teammates have is something that can never be broken. Your team is there with you through the good and the bad, and experiences shared with your teammates are moments that will never be forgotten...



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by David Rieder & Brent Rutemiller


Caeleb Dressel was hyped as the next great American sprinter. As for the hype, well, he earned it. But that’s a lot to live up to...

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Preparing for her debut swim at the biggest meet of her life (to that point, anyway), Mallory Comerford stepped up onto the blocks in a key spot. In the first event of the 2016 ACC championships, Kelsi Worrell had given Comerford a lead of two tenths of a second for the anchor leg of Louisville’s 200 medley relay...


Cate Campbell arrived in Budapest last month confident that her 100 free world record was about to go down, and there was nothing she could do about it...




Entering his 11th season as the head men’s coach at Cal, Dave Durden's teams have finished in the top two at the NCAA championships each of the previous eight years...

by David Rieder

Ella Eastin arrived at Stanford in September 2015 having won titles at just about every Junior-level meet—Junior Nationals, Junior Pan Pacs and even the Junior World Championships...


by David Rieder





Mike Stromberg, former student-athlete and head coach at the University of North Dakota Swim Team, recently penned a letter expressing his disappointment over the swimming and diving teams being cut...

By Maddie Strasen & Chandler Brandes


by Mike Stromberg



Long before four men touched the wall with the four fastest times in history, all of those watching the 1650 free at the men’s NCAA championships realized that they were being treated to an epic showdown.

Chuck Wielgus, the Chief Executive Officer for USA Swimming, passed away April 23, 2017. Wielgus announced his retirement earlier this year...







Mia Rankin, a 14-year-old freshman at all-girls Xavier College Prep, was racing for a state title. In the 500 free final at the Arizona Division I girls’ state meet, she was neck-and-neck with Chandler High School’s Destiny Kling...

by Dan D'Addona

Katie Ledecky didn’t need to use her legs much to cruise to a top seed in the 500 preliminaries at the NCAA women’s championships. What a difference her legs made in the finals...

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Five-time Olympic champion Katie Ledecky (Bethesda, Md./Stanford Swimming) was honored by the United States Olympic Committee as the winner of the Female Olympic Athlete of the Year.


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一娀䌀漀爀搀稀⸀挀漀洀 簀 㠀  ⸀㠀㠀㘀⸀㘀㘀㈀㄀  >> ILARIA BIANCHI






uring the first night of finals at the 2017 European Short Course Championships in Copenhagen, the European record was tied in the men’s 50 breast semi-finals, and then three men broke the mark in the final, all finishing within eight hundredths of each other. That 50 breast was one of six finals contested on the first evening of the meet. Along with the two European records in the 50 breast, three world junior records were either broken or established. Read below for event-by-event full coverage of what happened on night one. MEN’S 50 BREAST SEMI-FINALS Russia’s Kirill Prigoda tied Fabio Scozzoli’s European record in qualifying first for the men’s 50 breast final, posting a mark of 25.72. Scozolli previously swam that time back in August of 2013 in Berlin. It won’t be an easy path for Prigoda to take gold, however, as Scozzoli, representing Italy, qualified second in 25.74, just two hundredths back, while Great Britain’s Adam Peaty, the long course World Champion and world record-holder, took third in 25.81. Belarus’ Ilya Shymanovich (25.96) and Slovenia’s Peter John Stevens (25.97) also got under the 26-second mark, and joining them in the final will be Germany’s Fabien Schwingenschlogl (26.02), Turkey’s Huseyin Emre Sakci (26.18) and Italian world junior record-setter Nicolo Marginenghi (26.31).



MEN’S 200 BACK FINAL Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov has won the first gold medal of the European Short Course Championships, swimming past Poland’s Radoslaw Kawecki on the final lap to touch first. Kawecki, the reigning World Short Course Champion in the event, led for the entire race before Kolesnikov closed in 27.32, to Kawecki’s 28.19. The Russian 17-year-old pulled into the wall in 1:48.02, establishing the first world junior record in the event. The time also broke Kawecki’s championship record of 1:48.33 set two years ago. Kawecki took the silver in 1:48.46, and Lithuania’s Danas Rapsys also got on the podium with his time of 1:49.06. Israel’s Yakov Yan Toumarkin ended up fourth in 1:51.05, followed by Croatia’s Anton Loncar (1:51.67), Belarus’ Mikita Tsmyh (1:52.04) and Hungary’s David Foldhazi (1:52.92). Germany’s Christian Diener, the top seed out of prelims, was in contention most of the race but faded all the way to eighth on the final lap, touching in 1:53.41. WOMEN’S 400 IM FINAL Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu led wire-to-wire on her way to a European title in one of her signature events, the 400 IM. Even without approaching top form, she was still by far the class of the field, leading by almost a second at the 50-meter mark and extending her lead from there. Hosszu finished in 4:24.78, well off Mireia Belmonte’s world

record of 4:18.94 set n August or Hosszu’s own championship record of 4:19.46 from two years ago. With Belmonte skipping the meet, Hosszu was never going to be challenged here. France swept the other two spots on the podium with Lara Grangeon finishing second in 4:28.77 and Fantine Lesaffre taking third in 4:30.68. Italy’s Ilaria Cusinato was next at 4:32.85, and rounding out the final were Spain’s Africa Zamorano (4:35.45), Portugal’s Victoria Kaminskaya (4:36.19), Hungary’s Boglarka Kapas (4:38.08) and Great Britain’s Emily Large (4:39.01). MEN’S 400 FREE FINAL Russia’s Aleksandr Krasnykh pulled away from the field and ended up winning a comfortable victory in the men’s 400 free final in Copenhagen. Krasnykh touched in 3:35.51, less than a second off an eight-year-old championship record held by Paul Biedermann. Hungary’s Peter Bernek grabbed the silver in 3:37.14, and Norway’s Henrik Christiansen got bronze, finishing in 3:38.63. Sweden’s Victor Johansson (3:39.35) and Poland’s Filip Zaborowski (3:39.84) also got under 3:40, and rounding out the field were Krasnykh’s Russian teammate Viacheslav

Andrusenko (3:40.70), Dutch open water specialist Ferry Weertman (3:42.00) and Sweden’s Adam Paulsson (3:43.63). WOMEN’S 50 BREAST FINAL Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte won the European title in the women’s 50 breast in a time of 29.36, having just enough in the tank to get by Finland’s Jenna Laukkanen at the finish. Meilutyte finished in 29.26, followed by Laukkanen in 29.77. Not far away was Sophie Hansson, as the Swedish teenager grabbed the bronze in 29.77. Poland’s Dominka Sztandera finished fourth in 29.82, and rounding out the field were Island’s Hrafnhilda Luthersdottir (30.06), Italy’s Arianna Castiglioni (30.06), Belgium’s Fanny Lecluyse (30.11) and Russia’s Natalia Ivaneeva (30.31). MEN’S 50 BREAST FINAL After Kirill Prigoda tied Fabio Scozzoli’s European record in the men’s 50 breast semi-finals, Scozzoli came back just an hour later to lower the record and win a European title. Italy’s Scozzoli won the event in 25.62, six hundredths ahead of Russia’s Prigoda, in 25.68. And then Prigoda was just two hundredths ahead of Great Britain’s Adam Peaty, who took the bronze in 25.70. CONTINUED >>>



All three men beat the previous European record, first set by Scozzoli in 2013 and then tied by Prigoda in the semi-finals. Germany’s Fabian Schwingenschlogl took fourth in 25.99, followed by Belarus’ Ilya Shymanovich (26.02), Slovenia’s Peter John Stevens (26.11), Turkey’s Huseyin Emre Sakci (26.19) and Italy’s Nicolo Martinenghi (26.48). MEN’S 200 FREE RELAY FINAL The Russian men won gold in the men’s 200 free relay to round out the first night of the European short course meet. Kliment Kolesnikov (21.24), Vladimir Morozov (20.59), Sergei Fesikov (20.59) and Mikhail Vekovishchev (20.91) combined to swim a time of 1:23.32. Kolesnikov’s time is a world junior record, the first ever set in the SCM men’s 50 free. Fesikov pulled the Russians into first place on his leg, and Vekovischchev held on. Italy’s Luca Dotto, Lorenzo Zazzeri, Alessandro Miressi and Marco Orsi grabbed the silver in 1:23.67, and Poland’s squad of Pawel Juraszek, Filip Wypych, Jakub Ksiazek and Konrad Czerniak took third in 1:24.44.

before winning gold in back-to-back races to end the session. MEN’S 200 BREAST FINAL Russia’s Kirill Prigoda fended off a late push from Germany’s Marco Koch to secure the European short course title in the men’s 200 breast. Prigoda finished in 2:01.11, and Koch, despite a 31.55 final 50, took second in 2:01.52. Another Russian, Mikhail Dorinov, took the bronze medal in 2:01.85. The Netherlands’ Arno Kamminga was the closest to the medalists, finishing in 2:02.46, and he was followed by Sweden’s Erik Persson (2:03.86), Germany’s Fabien Schwingenschlogl (2:04.67), Hungary’s David Horvath (2:05.16) and Estonia’s Martin Allikvee (2:05.95). MEN’S 400 IM FINAL Hungary’s Peter Bernek pulled ahead from the first 50 meters in the men’s 400 IM final at the European Championships, and no one else could ever come close. He finished in 3:59.47 to secure the gold medal by more than 3.5 second.


Germany’s Phillip Heintz finished second in 4:03.16, and Hungary’s Gergely Gyurta took third in 4:06.33. Gyurta faded badly down the stretch but had enough of an advantage to hold off Spain’s Marc Sanchez Torrens, who ended up fourth in 4:06.73.

During the second night of finals at the European Short Course Championships in Copenhagen, Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov set his third world junior record of the week and his first European record in the 100 back semi-finals.

Spain’s Joan Lluis Pons Ramon (4:07.99), Germany’s Jacob Heidtmann (4:08.56), Italy’s Federico Turrini (4:09.11) and Portugal’s Joao Alexandre Vital (4:09.19) also swam in the final.

Elsewhere, stars like Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Katinka Hosszu each won a gold medal, while Danas Rapsys put up a stellar effort in the men’s 200 free, while it was an uneven night for Sarah Sjostrom, who qualified for two finals but missed out on the top eight in one of her signature events.

WOMEN’S 100 BACK FINAL For the second day in a row, Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu did not come close to her world record in one of her signature events, and once again, that did not matter. The Hungarian used a 28.52 back-half split, by far the quickest in the field, to take gold in the women’s 100 back.

The Netherlands (1:24.61), Serbia (1:25.55), Hungary (1:25.55), Belgium (1:25.92) and Sweden (1:26.09) also swam in the final.

Kromowidjojo actually raced four times, twice in semi-finals


SWIM MART 䜀伀䰀䐀 䴀䔀䐀䄀䰀 倀䔀刀䘀伀刀䴀䄀一䌀䔀 匀吀䄀刀吀匀  圀䤀吀䠀 刀䔀匀䤀匀吀䄀一䌀䔀 吀刀䄀䤀一䤀一䜀

一娀䌀漀爀搀稀⸀挀漀洀 㠀  ⸀㠀㠀㘀⸀㘀㘀㈀㄀




Hosszu’s time was 55.66, about a half-second off her threeyear-old world record of 55.03. But the Netherlands’ Kira Toussaint, who had been the top seed coming into the final, could not keep pace with that and had to settle for ailver in 56.21. Russia’s Maria Kameneva finished with the bronze medal in 57.01, just ahead of Ukraine’s Daryna Zevina (57.08). The Czech Republic’s Simona Baumrtova took fifth in 57.27, followed by Denmark’s Mie Nielsen (57.39) and Poland’s Alicja Tchorz (57.55). France’s Mathilde Cini was disqualified. MEN’S 100 FLY FINAL Italy’s Matteo Rivolta touched out countryman Piero Codia for the win in the men’s 100 fly at the European Championships for Italy’s first gold of the meet and an impressive 1-2 finish. Rivolta finished in 49.93, just three hundredths ahead of Codia. Close behind was Marius Kusch, and his time of 50.01 was good enough for bronze. Russia’s Aleksandr Sadovnikov just missed the medals with his time of 50.19. Places five through eight were occupied by the Netherlands’ Joeri Verlinden (50.25), Russia’s Aleksandr Kharlanov (50.29), Poland’s Konrad Czerniak (50.31) and Belarus’ Yauhen Tsurkin (50.77), respectively. WOMEN’S 800 FREE FINAL Germany’s Sarah Koehler led for most of the race in the women’s 800 free final at the European Short Course Championships, but she could never quite escape Hungary’s Boglarka Kapas. Still, Koehler had enough down the stretch to secure the win. Koehler touched in 8:10.65, about a half second ahead of Kapas (8:11.13). Italy’s Simona Quadarella took third in 8:16.53. Liechtenstein’s Julia Hassler finished fourth in 8:18.28, just ahead of Russia’s Anastasia Kiprichnikova (8:18.44). Other competing in the final included Slovenia’s Tjasa Oder (8:20.70), Portugal’s Diana Margarida Duares (8:26.35) and Slovenia’s Katja Fain (8:27.39). WOMEN’S 50 FLY FINAL Competing in a field without Sarah Sjostrom, who missed out on the final, the Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo dominated the final of the women’s 50 fly, touching in 24.78 for a gold medal. Denmark’s Emilie Beckmann took second in 25.16, and the Netherlands’ Maaike De Waard also got on the podium to make it a 1-3 finish for her country. Germany’s Aleina Schmidtke (25.49), France’s Melanie Henique (25.59), Belgium’s Kimberly Buys (25.59), Belarus’ Anastasiya Shkurdai (25.69) and Poland’s Aleksandra 24


Urbanczyk (25.72) also swam in the championship heat. MIXED 4X50 MEDLEY RELAY FINAL Mere minutes after winning gold in the 50 fly, the Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo was back in the water to anchor the Netherlands to a stunning win in the mixed 4×50 medley relay. Going off less than 15 minutes rest, Kromowidjojo split 23.09 — more than a second quicker than Belarus anchor Yuliya Khitraya — to give the Dutch the touch-out win, 1:37.71 to 1:37.74. France was just one hundredth behind the Dutch in 1:37.75 The Netherlands squad also consisted of Kira Toussaint (26.13), Arno Kamminga (26.03) and Joeri Verlinden (22.26). Along with Kromowidjojo, the team broke Italy’s championship record of 1:38.33 set back in 2015. Belarus’ Pavel Sankovich (22.89), Ilya Shymanovich (25.32), Anastasiya Shkurdai (25.28) and Khitraya (24.25) settled for silver. France’s team consisted of Jeremy Stravius (22.94), Theo Bussiere (49.19), Melanie Henique (25.39) and Charlotte Bonnet (23.17). Germany’s team of Christian Diener, Fabien Schwingenschlogl, Aliena Schmidtke and Jessica Steiger just missed the medals by eight hundredths, touching in 1:37.83. Denmark was not far away either, finishing in 1:38.03, while Poland (1:38.22), Finland (1:38.80) and Italy (1:39.43) rounded out the final. NIGHT 3 WOMEN’S 100 FREESTYLE FINAL The Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo earned herself a gold medal and a championship record in the process. Kromowidjojo’s time of 50.95, was the only sub-50 second time in the field and it dipped under her countrywoman, Inge Dekker’s old record of 51.35 set in 2009. Swedish sprit star Sarah Sjostrom nabbed the silver in 51.03. Denmark’s Pernille Blume touched third in 51.63. Taking fourth was France’s Charlotte Bonnet in 51.65 while Femke Heemskerk touched fifth in 51.93. Taking sixth was Marie Wattel in 52.25. Rounding out the finals heat was Federica Pelligrini out of Italy in 52.97 while Russia’s Rozaliya Nasretdinova touched eighth in 53.24. WOMEN’S 200 BACKSTROKE FINAL Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu earned her first win of the session by swimming a 2:01.59 ahead of Ukraine’s Daryna Zevina 2:02.27. The bronze went to Italy’s Margherita Panziera with her time of 2:02.43. Britain’s Kathryn Greenslade and Hungary’s Kata Burian took fourth and fifth in 2:04.75 and 2:04.94, respectively. Taking sixth was Kira Toussaint out of the Netherlands in 2:05.55. Russia’s Anastasia Avdeeva touched seventh while Africa Zamorano Sanz took eighth. MEN’S 200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY FINAL Germany’s Philip Heintz earned gold in the men’s 200 I.M. by

turning in a time of 1:52.41 while the silver went to Greece’s Andreas Vazaios in 1:53.27. The bronze was given to Norway’s Tomoe Zenimoto Hvas in a time of 1:54.16. Taking fourth was Portugal’s Diogo Felipe Carvalho in a 1:54.18. Touching in fifth was Israel’s Yakov Yan Toumarkin who swam a 1:54.66 while Kyle Stolk took sixth. Alexis Manacas Santos and Simon Sjoedin took seventh and eighth. WOMEN’S 200 BUTTERFLY FINAL Germany’s Franziska Hentke swam a 2:03.92 to take the gold in the women’s 200m butterfly. Italy’s Ilaria Bianchi was right behind in 2:04.22 for the silver while France’s Lara Grangeon put together a 2:04.31 for the bronze. Taking fourth was Hungary’s Boglarka Kapas in 2:06.02 while the fifth spot was taken by Britain’s Charlotte Atkinson in 2:06.19. Touching sixth was Turkey’s Nida Eliz Ustundag. Rounding out the field was Lilian Szilagyi and Stefania Pirozzi in seventh and eighth respectively. WOMEN’S 100 BREASTSTROKE SEMI-FINAL Finland’s Jenna Laukkanen earned the middle lane in tomorrow’s final heat by edging out Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte, with her 1:04.89 to Meilutyte’s 1:04.95. Posting the third fastest time was Spain’s Jessica Vall Montero with a 1:05.04. Taking the eighth spot in the semi-final was Ireland’s Mona McSharry in a 1:05.40. MEN’S 100 BACKSTROKE FINAL After breaking the World Junior and European Junior records in yesterday’s semi-final, Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov lowered both those records yet again. This time the young backstroke star dipped under 49-seconds by swimming a 48.99. Italy’s Simone Sabbioni swam a 49.68 for the silver while RobertAndrei Glinta out of Germany earned the bronze in 49.99. Germany’s Christian Diener swam a 50.13 for fourth while the Polish pair of Radoslaw Kawecki and Kacper Stokowski touched in fifth and sixth respectively. Taking seventh and eighth was Andrei Shabasov and Apostolos Christou. WOMEN’S 100 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY FINAL Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu earned herself another gold medal by swimming a 56.97 ahead of Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom‘s 57.92 while the bronze went to Norway’s Susann Bjoernson with her time of 59.26. Fourth place went to Dutchwoman Marrit Steenbergen while Israel’s Amit Ivri touched fifth. Taking sixth and seventh was Austria’s Lena Kreundl and Finland’s Jenna Laukkanen while eighth went to Evelyn Verraszto. MEN’S 1500 FREESTYLE FINAL Ukraine’s Mykhaylo Romanchuk won the men’s mile in Copenhagen with a 14:14.59. Taking silver was Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri in 14:22.93 while Norway’s Henrik Christiansen took the bronze with a time of 14:25.66. In fourth was Denmark’s and N.C. State’s Anton Ipsen with a time of 14:30.94. Fifth and sixth went to Sweden’s Victor Johansson and The Czech Republic’s Jan Micka. Taking seventh was France’s Damien Joly while Hungary’s David

MEN’S 50 FREESTYLE FINAL After winning his semi-final heat and lowering the championship record earlier in the session, Russia’s Vladimir Morozov took the gold and lowered the CR yet again by posting a 20.31. Britain’s Benjamin Proud swam a 20.66 for the silver while Italy’s Lucca Dotto earned the bronze with a time of 20.78. Coming in fourth and fifth was the Polish pair of Pawel Juraszek and Konrad Czerniak while Greece’s Kristian Gkolomeev and Russia’s Sergei Fesikov took sixth and seventh. Rounding out the field in eighth was Italy’s Marco Orsi. WOMEN’S 4X50 FREESTYLE RELAY FINAL The Dutch quartet of Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Femke Heemskerk, Tamara Van Vliet and Valeire Van Roon put together a World Record performance on their way to winning gold in a time of 1:33.91. The Netherlands’ time lowers their own record which they set in Qatar in 2014. The Swedish squad of Michelle Coleman, Sarah Sjostrom, Louise Hansson and Natalie Lindborg turned in a time of 1:35.92 for the silver while Denmark’s team of Emilie Beckmann, Mie Oe Nielsen, Julie Kepp Jensen and Pernille Blume earned the bronze with their production of a 1:36.02. France and Russia touched in fourth and fifth while Norway and Hungary took sixth and seventh. Italy was disqualified for a false start on their third swimmer, Elena Di Liddo. NIGHT 4 WOMEN’S 100 BREASTSTROKE FINAL Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte earned gold in the women’s 100m breaststroke with her time of 1:03.79, which was just enough to edge silver-medalist Finland’s Jenna Laukkanen who swam a 1:04.25. The bronze went to Spain’s Jessica Vall Montero in 1:04.80. Fourth place was earned by Italy’s Arianna Castiglioni who posted a 1:05.00 while fifth was taken by Ireland’s Mona McSharry in 1:05.01. Taking sixth and seventh was Sweden’s Sophie Hansson and Belgium’s Fanny Lecluyse. Denmark’s Rikke Moeller Pedersen took eighth. Women’s 200m Individual Medley Final Hungary completed a 1-2 sweep in the women’s 200 IM with Katinka Hosszu winning in a time of 2:04.43. Hosszu’s teammate Evelyn Verraszto earned the silver with her 2:08.09. Taking the bronze was Italy’s Ilaria Cusinato in a time of 2:08.19. Switzerland’s Maria Ugolkova and Fantine Lesaffre took fourth and fifth, respectively while the Czech Republic’s Kristyna Horska and Poland’s Alicja Tchorz took sixth and seventh, respectively. Taking the eighth spot was France’s Camille Dauba. WOMEN’S 200 FREESTYLE FINAL France’s Charolette Bonnet won gold here with a time of 1:52.19 while Dutchwoman Femke Heemskerk took the silver in 1:53.41. Russia’s Veronika Andrusenko took the bronze in a time of 1:53.75. Sweden’s Michelle Coleman was fourth in 1:54.27 while Kathryn Greenslade took fifth in a time of CONTINUED >>> SWIMMING WORLD BIWEEKLY


1:54.91. Belgium’s Valentine Dumont touched sixth with a 1:55.81 while the Spanish duo of Melanie Costa Schmid and Lidon Munoz del Campo took seventh and eighth, respectively. MEN’S 100 BREASTSTROKE FINAL Great Britain’s Adam Peaty narrowly missed the World record in the event on his way to lowering the European record with his time of 55.94. That time puts Peaty just behind Cameron Van Der Burgh‘s World record of 55.61 and ahead of Kirill Prigoda‘s old ER of 56.02. While Peaty took the gold, Italy’s Fabio Scozzoli nabbed the silver in 56.15. The bronze went to the former ER holder, Russia’s Prigoda, in 56.28. Earning fourth and fifth place was Belarus’ Ilya Shymanovich and Germany’s Fabian Schwingenschloegl. Touching in sixth place was Dutchman Arno Kamminga. Italy’s Nicolo’ Martinenghi swam to a World Junior record in the event with a 57.27. This puts the Italian ahead of his own WJR, which he set yesterday during the semi-finals. Taking eighth was Great Britain’s Ross Murdoch. MEN’S 50 BUTTERFLY FINAL The top three swimmers here were separated by just .03 seconds. Russia’s Aleksandr Popkov earned the gold with his time of 22.42. The silver was awarded to the Ukraine’s Andriy Govorov who swam just .01 slower, in a 22.43. Serbia’s Sebastian Sabo and Great Britain’s Benjamin Proud tied for the bronze with their time of 22.44. Fifth place was awarded to Turkey’s Umitcan Gures while the Belarusian pair of Yauhen Tsurkin and Pavel Sankovich took sixth and seventh, respectively. Taking eighth place was Poland’s Michal Chudy in 22.75. WOMEN’S 50 BACKSTROKE FINAL Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu earned her second gold of the day here with her time of 25.95. Just behind in 26.09 was Poland’s Alicja Tchorz while The Netherland’s Maaike De Waard was 26.40 for the bronze. Taking fourth was Denmark’s Julie Kepp Jensen while France’s Mathilde Cini was fifth. The Netherland’s Kira Toussaint took sixth while Finland’s Mimosa Jallow touched in seventh place. Rounding out the field in eighth place was Austria’s Caroline Pilhatsch. MIXED 4X50 FREESTYLE RELAY FINAL The Dutch quartet broke a world record in a relay event for the second time this competition. The team of Nyls Korstanje, Kyle Stolk, Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Femke Heemskerk put together a 1:28.39 which betters the old record of 1:28.57 set by the USA in 2014. The silver went to the Russia team, who featured Vladimir Morozov posting a 20.55 on the lead off leg, comprised of Morozov, Sergei Fesikov, Maria Kameneva and Rozaliya Nasretdinova, who swam a 1:28.53. The bronze was earned by the Italian squad of Lucca Dotto, Marco Orsi, Fedrica Pellegrini and Erika Ferraioli who produced a 1:29.38. 26


NIGHT 5 On the final night of the 2017 European Short Course Championships a World Junior record fell twice, two Championship records were broken, and the night ended in a World Record. Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom and Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov highlighted the action. WOMEN’S 200 BREASTSTROKE FINAL Spaniard Jessica Vall Montero won the 200 breaststroke with a 2:18.41. Her teammate Marina Garcia Urzainqui was disqualified. Denmark’s Rikke Moeller Pedersen raced to second in 2:19.53, just ahead of Belgium’s Fanny Lecluyse in 2:19.68 with bronze. With a strong last 100 meters Russian Vitalina Simonova (2:20.06) touched fourth. German’s Jessica Steiger, Jocelyn Ulyett of Great Britain (2:21.07) and France’s Fanny Deberghes (2:23.90) completed the final. MEN’S 100 FREESTYLE FINAL Italian Luca Dotto raced to a 46.11 for the European title in the 100 freestyle. He was nearly a half second ahead of the competition. Pieter Timmers of Belgium earned silver with a 46.54. Rounding out the podium, also under 47 seconds was Duncan Scott of Great Britain in a 46.64. The next trio were tightly bunched: Poland’s Konrad Czerniak (47.01), Lithuania’s Simonas Bilis (47.09) and Hungary’s Dominik Kozma (47.13). Russia’s Mikhail Vekovishchev (47.51) and Hungary’s Nandor Nemeth (47.60) also competed in the final WOMEN’S 100 BUTTERFLY FINAL In her second race of the night Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom won the 100 butterfly. The Olympic gold medalist destroyed the field, winning the event by nearly a second. Her 55.00 was a new Championship record. France’s Marie Wattel earned runner up honors in 55.97. Denmark’s Emilie Beckmann rounded out the podium with a 56.22. Taking fourth was Sjostrom’s fellow countrywoman Louise Hansson (56.56). Italy’s Ilaria Bianchi touched fifth with a 56.65. In sixth through eighth were Belgium’s Kimberly Buys (56.87), the Netherlands’ Elinore De Jong (57.13) and Germany’s Aliena Schmidtke (57.17). MEN’S 100 IM FINAL The Italian men took their second gold in a row. Marco Orsi led three men under 52 seconds. He stopped the clock in 51.76 to earn gold. Russia’s Sergei Fesikov earned silver in 51.94. Powered by the fastest final 50 meters in the field the Netherlands’ Kyle Stolk cleared 52 with his 51.99. Belgian Emmanuel Vanluchene was fourth with a 52.75 and Israel’s Yakov Yan Toumarkin finished fifth in 52.91.

Wrapping up the final heat were Bernhard Reitshammer of Austria (53.01), Poland’s Michal Chudy (53.02), and Italy’s Simone Geni (53.15). WOMEN’S 400 FREESTYLE FINAL Two women were under the four minute marker in the final of the 400 freestyle. Hungarian Boglarka Kapas got her hand to the wall first. She touched in 3:58.15. Just under a second behind her was Germany’s Sarah Koehler in 3:59.12. Liechenstein’s Julia Hassler finished third with a 4:02.43 to take the bronze medal. Spain’s Melanie Costa Schmid (4:04.47) and Portugal’s Diana Margarida Duraes battled for fourth as the duo finished in 4:04.47 and 4:04.61 respectively. Great Britain’s Kathryn Greenslade (4:06.05), Italy’s Simona Quadarella (4:07.34) and Russian Veronika Andrusenko (4:08.50) were sixth, seventh, and eighth. MEN’S 200 BUTTERFLY FINAL Russia’s Aleksandr Kharlanov touched the wall in 1:50.54 to win the gold medal in the 200 fly. Andreas Vazaios of Greece won the silver with a 1:51.23, a full second ahead of the third place finisher: Hungary’s Tamas Kenderesi (1:52.25). Denmark’s Viktor Bromer (1:52.75) was fourth. Nearly four seconds from his own Championship and European record of 1:49.00 Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh was fifth in 1:52.96. Joeri Verlinden of the Netherlands (1:53.07), Estonia’s Kregor Kirk (1:53.58) and Norway’s Tomoe Zanimoto Hvas (1:55.11) also competed in the final. WOMEN’S 50 FREESTYLE FINAL In her third race of the night, Sarah Sjostrom won the 50 freestyle. Her 23.30 is a new Championship record, just faster than the 23.32 swum by the Netherlands’ Hinkelien Schreuder in 2009. That was Sjostrom’s second Championship record in as many swims. The Netherlands took two of the top four spots in the event. Ranomi Kromowidjojo was also under the old Championship record, only .01 behind Sjostrom. She touched in 23.31. Her reaction time was also .01 slower than Sjostrom’s. Tied for the fastest reaction time in the field (.61), Denmark’s Pernille Blume settled for third with her 23.49. Kromowidjojo’s teammate Femke Heemskerk was fourth in 23.82. Russians Maria Kameneva and Rozaliya Nasretdinova were fifth and seventh in 23.88 and 23.99, respectively. Charlotte Bonnet of France posted a 23.94 for sixth and Finland’s Mimosa Jallow (24.20) was eight. MEN’S 50 BACKSTROKE FINAL Despite emerging from both prelims and semifinals with the top seed, Russian Kliment Kolesnikov could not hold on in

the finals. He touched second in 23.07, just .02 behind Italy’s Simone Sabbioni with a 23.05. Kolesnikov suffered by far the slowest reaction time in the field, a .88, with the next slowest being a .63. Despite this, he still lowered his own World Junior and European Junior records, 23.10, set in prelims. France’s Jeremy Stravius earned the bronze in 23.12, out touching Belarus’ Pavel Sankovich (23.13) by .01. Romanians Robert-Andrei Glinta (23.19) and CatalinPaul Ungur (23.42) were fifth and seventh. Poland’s Kacper Stokowski (23.28) and Germany’s Christian Diener (23.48) touched sixth and eighth. WOMEN’S 4X50 MEDLEY RELAY FINALS There was no stopping Sarah Sjostrom tonight. In her fourth race of the under two hour finals session she split a 24.27 on the butterfly leg of the 200 medley relay. Hanna Rosvall swam a 26.96 on the backstroke, followed by Sophie Hansson‘s 29.30 breaststroke leg. Michelle Coleman anchored the Swedish women to gold with her 23.90. The team topped the podium with their 1:44.43. Denmark’s Julie Kepp Jensen (26.97), Rikke Moeller Pedersen (30.00), Emilie Beckmann (24.82) and Pernille Blume (23.21) earned silver in 1:45.00. With a 1:45.35 the French team of Mathilde Cini (26.72), Charlotte Bonnet (30.01), Melanie Henique (24.80), and Marie Wattel (23.82) earned bronze. The Netherlands were fourth with a 1:45.39, just .04 behind the French team. Powered by the fastest backstroke split in the field, a 26.29 from Alicja Tchorz the team from Poland touched fifth in 1:45.63. Italy (1:45.73), Russia (1:45.75) and Finland (1:46.22) wrapped up the final. MEN’S 4X50 MEDLEY RELAY FINALS The team from Russia ended the meet with a bang, turning in a new world record. Kliment Kolesnikov got up for another 50 backstroke, this time lowering his reaction time and destroying his own World Junior record with a 22.83. He was followed by Kirill Prigoda in 25.26, Aleksandr Popkov (22.11) and Vladimir Morozov (20.24) as the quartet posted a 1:30.44. Their time was .07 faster than the 1:30.51 Brazil posted in Doha in 2014. Italy’s Simone Sabbioni (23.14), Fabio Scozzoli (25.45), Piero Codia (22.72), and Luca Dotto (20.60) were second in 1:31.91. Taking bronze was Belarus’ Pavel Sankovich (23.16), Ilya Shymanovich (25.48), Yauhen Tsurkin (22.23), and Anton Latkin (21.19) in a 1:32.06. ◀ SWIMMING WORLD BIWEEKLY


[ Photo Courtesy: Dan D'Addona]



efore Caeleb Dressel mastered long course to the tune of seven World Championship gold medals, his short course abilities had already reached legend status. During his sophomore and junior seasons at Florida, Dressel inched closer and closer to the 18-second barrier in the 50yard free and hit the 40-second barrier dead on in the 100 free. As a junior, he won all three of his individual events at the NCAA championships, stunning Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling to win the 100 fly with as impressive a last 25 as you will ever see. And yet, if you only judge Dressel’s short course abilities by his NCAA results, you are underrating him. Take that aforementioned 2017 championship meet, when Dressel was the unanimous pick for swimmer of the meet. That whole weekend, he did not swim a race longer than 100 yards and didn’t take a stroke of anything other than freestyle or butterfly. He had no chance to show off his versatility. Before the meet’s first session, which featured only the 800 free relay, Dressel announced on his Twitter account that he would lead off that relay for Florida, giving fans a chance to see what he could do in the 200 free. As it turned out, Dressel was only joking. Swimmers can only compete in four of the five NCAA relays, and Dressel could help the other four relays more than he could one already consisting of Jan Switkowski, Maxime Rooney, Mitch D’Arrigo and Mark Szaranek—a team which ended up finishing third. So no chance to see the superstar sprinter try his hand at the



200 free, an event he’d probably be pretty good at. Dressel swam as fast as 1:47.45 in the long course version of the event over the summer, and sprint-based athletes typically have more 200 success in short course than long course. As for some other events Dressel has never swum at NCAAs, how about the 200 IM? You know, the event in which he ranks ninth all-time after his impressive 1:40.61 at the Purdue Invite? Dressel’s time was six hundredths faster than the winning time from the NCAA championships last year. And then afterwards, when asked if he was expecting to see a 1:40 in the IM, Dressel replied, ‘I don’t know,” before explaining that he has trained extensively with Florida’s IM group during the fall. A sprint specialist training with the IM group? Unusual, yes, but nothing new for Dressel. Florida head coach Gregg Troy is notorious for his high-volume workouts, and Dressel certainly puts in more training volume than a typical 21-yearold sprinter. Dressel takes pride in his training program, even though he says he has been “scrutinized for what I do at Florida.” He pointed to that high-volume workload the reason he could maintain his stamina race after race on the night he won three gold medals within the span of 90 minutes at the World Championships. “I don’t think there’s any accidents in this sport,” Dressel said in Budapest. “It wasn’t an accident what happened tonight. I work well with Troy, and we were ready for it. It was very hard—it definitely wasn’t easy—but I’m just glad Troy

That plan has obviously worked, transforming Dressel from a hyped-up high schooler to the best sprinter in the world, and it’s also made him pretty good at some of those other events.

and defending NCAA co-champion Szaranek on the roster.

[ Photo Courtesy: Dan D'Addona]

has a plan for me with everything we do.”

In addition to his free >> Dressel with Florida coach Gregg Troy and his fly, Dressel has a heck of a breaststroke. At the Purdue meet, he split 51.35 on Florida’s 400 medley relay. Yes, Dressel swam breaststroke on a Florida relay, and it’s not unprecedented—he did the same thing back at the 2016 NCAA championships. Back then, the idea of Dressel swimming—and potentially winning—the 100 breast at NCAAs didn’t seem so farfetched, especially after the graduation of the top five finishers in the event from the previous year’s NCAAs, including Kevin Cordes and Nic Fink. But Dressel and Troy chose the 100 fly instead of the 100 breast. Now that he has won a World title in the long course version of that event, it seems like an obvious choice, but his breaststroke looks strong enough that he could swim 100 yards in under 51 seconds. Heck, he might even be pretty good at the short course 100 back. Dressel’s underwaters are powerful enough that he could kick 15 meters underwater off each wall—like Tom Shields did during his college days, twice winning NCAA titles in the 100 back. With Ryan Murphy graduated, the competition this season would not be particularly strong.

And Dressel likely won’t get to swim the 800 free relay, either, since Szaranek, Switkowski and Rooney all return, and Khader Baqlah can step in for the graduated D’Arrigo. Maybe Troy lets Dressel swim some off-events at the SEC championships in February to see how quick he can swim, but come March, when the Gators will need every guaranteed point they can get in order to figure into the national championship equation, no way. That’s the right decision, but considering this is Dressel’s last hurrah with college swimming, it’s still a bummer. And somehow, even in light of how Dressel has dominated the NCAA championships the past two years, the meet still minimizes his talent. ◀


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In the 200 IM, Dressel certainly would be the favorite for an NCAA title this year. And while the 200 free is very competitive, with Townley Haas, Blake Pieroni and Dylan Carter all returning after swimming under 1:31 last year, you have to wonder if Dressel, too, could break into that range. But in the end, all anyone can do is wonder—what could Caeleb Dressel do at an NCAA championships in the 200 free or 200 IM, in the 100 breast or even 100 back? Because we will all but certainly never find out. available at:

Dressel is considered practically a lock to win titles this year, his senior season, in both the 50 and 100 free, and it would take a huge effort for Schooling to beat him in the 100 fly. No reason to give up any of those guaranteed 20-point wins for, say, the 200 IM, where Florida is already stacked with Switkowski

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2017 IN REVIEW It is an understatement to say a lot happened in this past year. We combed through the archives to find the best of SW Biweekly in 2017, and here are our favorites.






he bond teammates have is something that can never be broken. Your team is there with you through the good and the bad, and experiences shared with your teammates are moments that will never be forgotten.


we were all together.

But nothing will ever compare to what the University of Vermont swimming and diving team experienced returning home from their annual training trip.

Thankfully, our entire 44-person group managed to flee the terminal and follow a sea of green UVM t-shirts to the same area. Amidst more turmoil and panic, the threat of even more danger returned to the table, sending us running across the tarmac and through an exit gate towards an airport construction site just beyond the runway. And to those who say swimmers can’t run, trust us—you’re wrong.

On January 6th, our team sat tightly in Terminal 1 of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport before our flight to Baltimore, where we would be competing against University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) the following day. Like many college swimming and diving teams, we were returning from a week of rigorous training.

The unorganized evacuation process and aftermath, which was later described as a chaotic and intense scene, brought our team’s dedication, love, and support for one another to light. Because of our fearless coaching staff and and loving teammates, we were able to rely on each other and find solace through the support we gave each other.

At around 1:15 p.m., social media and hushed conversations throughout the airport presented the news that violence had broken out in Terminal 2—a man who had checked a weapon loaded his gun and open fired in baggage claim, leaving five dead and six injured.

No coach is ever trained to deal with a situation like this, and we owe a great deal of gratitude to the way our staff handled it. They kept all of us calm, which was not an easy task to do. They were forced into a situation no coach or leader could ever imagine, yet remained professional and composed. For that, we will forever be grateful.

Although the news left us on edge, we assumed we were safe. Many of us began reaching out to family and friends to let them know we were uninvolved and our coach told us to keep him updated on our whereabouts. Since we had already been through security, we concluded that the coast was most likely clear. What seemed like just minutes later, a group of TSA security guards and travelers came running down the terminal, panicked and frightened, shouting orders for everyone to get down. Throwing bags over ourselves for protection, hiding under chairs, and getting as close to walls as possible, we were eventually able to army-crawl through a gate and run down to the tarmac. Unsure of what dangers were apparent, our coaches took roll call to make sure



We also owe a great deal of thanks to our entire athletic department who worked tirelessly to set up accommodations for us, even from 1500 miles away. The outreach of support from family, friends, loved ones, media personnel, and community members was greatly appreciated. Nothing compares, however, to the support given and received from each and every one of our teammates. We were supposed to fly into Baltimore to race conference-rival UMBC on Saturday. Due to the circumstances, the meet was cancelled. Our athletic department was able to secure flights home for us that Sunday; the main concern was to ensure our safety and for us to stay together as one group.




Returning to the cold weather and snow in Vermont after a week spent in sunny Florida never felt so relieving. After bussing back from Newark after an early flight on Sunday from West Palm Beach, we were greeted by family, friends, university staff, and media personnel. One broken foot, one sprained ankle, a handful of concussions, and many bumps, bruises, and scrapes later, we were finally home.



Luckily, the majority of us were able to be reunited with our checked luggage the following day after the incident. Our carry-ons that were left in the terminal had to be processed before they could be returned to us, but the airport staff did a wonderful job keeping us updated and working quickly and efficiently to return our belongings. Each package that was shipped back to campus containing our personal items was a small little victory on the path back to normalcy.


We do not want our story to undermine the real tragedy that occurred in Terminal 2, nor can we let this be the guiding force for our future. As we come to terms with how one person can cause so much terror and pain directly and indirectly, we recognize that everyone will respond to the situation differently. No matter how people deal with this on a personal level, one thing will never change: our team will always be there for one another through thick and thin. As a team, we quickly decided that this would not distract us from our individual and team goals as our conference championship meet is fast approaching. The strength our team showed is unparalleled and we proved to ourselves that we can overcome any obstacle in our way. We came out of this situation stronger, and we did it together. The strength a group of individuals can create together is intangible by any one person or experience. We are honored to call these selfless, brave, and strong girls our teammates. But they’re more than just teammates. They’re family, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. ◀ SWIMMING WORLD BIWEEKLY







reparing for her debut swim at the biggest meet of her life (to that point, anyway), Mallory Comerford stepped up onto the blocks in a key spot. In the first event of the 2016 ACC championships, Kelsi Worrell had given Comerford a lead of two tenths of a second for the anchor leg of Louisville’s 200 medley relay. Comerford held on, touching out Virginia’s Caitlin Cooper by 14 one-hundredths of a second. That meet in Greensboro, N.C., was the start of a breakout spring for the then-freshman at Louisville. Two days later, she touched out Leah Smith for the conference championship in the 200 free, and at the NCAA championships, Comerford finished second in the same event. She got plenty of anchoring experience at the national meet as well, helping the Cardinals finish in the top-three finish in both medley relays. Less than nine months later, Comerford found herself anchoring a relay yet again, but this time, the stakes were ratcheted up, and her cap had some blue and white mixed in with the typical Cardinal red. She was competing internationally for the first time, at the Short Course World Championships in Windsor, Canada, and this was the final of the women’s 400 free relay. Leading off that foursome was 30-year-old Amanda Weir, a threetime Olympian with three Olympic medals to her credit—all from relays. Handling the second leg was 22-year-old Worrell, and third was 28-year-old Madison Kennedy. Arthur Albiero, the head coach of the U.S. women’s team in Windsor and Comerford’s coach at Louisville, had full trust in the 19-year-old to finish the job. “I think [the coaches] believed in me, and they wanted me to know that they believed in me,” Comerford said.



Swimming from lane one, Weir, Worrell and Kennedy gave Comerford a substantial lead, and she did not relinquish it, even with Canadian Olympic gold medalist Penny Oleksiak coming home strong in lane four. With the second-place Canadians disqualified for a procedural issue, Comerford ended up with the race’s second-fastest split at 51.99. Only Worrell at 51.04 and the Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo—the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the 100 free— swam faster. Pretty solid international debut, no? Especially for a swimmer who didn’t exactly make the world take notice during the qualifying process. If you are forgetting exactly how U.S. qualification for Short Course Worlds went down, you aren’t alone. All Comerford did was compete in the 100 and 200 free at Olympic Trials—she made it to the semi-finals in both events—and then at the U.S. Open, posting top times of 54.46 in the 100 and 1:59.46 in the 200. Content but not fully satisfied, Comerford went back to work in the format in which she felt most comfortable: short course. “Before college, I never trained long course. I didn’t have a long course pool at home. And so I’m getting better with it. I’m more comfortable with it,” she explained. “But I love short course.” Comerford got her sophomore season off to a hot start at the SMU Classic in October, winning the 100-yard free in a lifetime best time of 47.89 and finishing second in the 200 free and 500 free. When she and her eight teammates at the meet rejoined the team in Louisville the next week, Comerford shared some big news: she’d been invited to join Team USA in Windsor.

“Obviously I said yes,” Comerford said. “The first thing I did was screenshot the email and text it to Arthur [Albiero] and [Louisville assistant coach] Stephanie [Juncker] and then to my parents.” Before Worlds, Comerford would actually make her Team USA debut on home soil, representing the U.S. team at the College Challenge in Indianapolis, just a few hours away from Louisville. Comerford ended up comfortably winning the 100 free at the College Challenge. She also finished second in the 200 free, took third in the 50 free and participated on two first-place relay teams. And along the way, she started to realize just how neat of an experience she had earned. “Beforehand, I was kind of like, ‘Oh, this is just another dual meet.’ Not whatever, but more laid back a little bit,” she said. “Once I got there, I didn’t really think I was going to get too nervous. Just before, I was like, ‘Oh wow, I’m representing Team USA. I need to go. This is awesome.’ But it kind of made me a little bit nervous.”

medal in the 800 free relay, and then in the meet’s final race, she anchored the U.S. women’s 400 medley relay to another gold, swimming with teammates Ali DeLoof, Lilly King and Worrell to win another gold. Even though it was her 100 free that has earned Comerford her first taste of international acclaim on relays, it’s still the short course eight-lapper where she feels the most comfortable. “I’ve swum the 200 free at every dual meet. I think that’s what helped me—just racing it all the time, being more comfortable with it, knowing my turns, my breakouts, my exits, knowing my breathing pattern,” she said. Comerford now heads into the college championship season with a chance to make her mark in some of the most competitive events on the program. Heading into next week’s ACC championships in Atlanta, Comerford ranks in the top four in the country in both the 100 and 200 free and is sixth in the 500 free.

And then, three weeks later, Comerford headed to compete in foreign territory for the first time—but not too foreign, as Windsor is just a few hours’ drive east of Comerford’s hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan.

But when she gets to the NCAA championships, she will face off against Olympians in all her events: Olympians Simone Manuel, Abbey Weitzeil and Olivia Smoliga in the sprints and superstar Katie Ledecky in the mid-distance.

Flying into Detroit felt all too routine, but once Comerford and the U.S. crossed the river into Canadian territory, it quickly became obvious that Worlds would be unlike any swim meet she’d ever experienced.

Even given how she swam last season and the efforts she put up at the World Championships, Comerford has no illusions that she deserves favorite status given that level of competition.

“I think it was the first time walking into the training pool,” she said. “It wasn’t just other college teams here—it was all of these different countries. Everyone is doing their own things, but they stopped and looked at Team USA. I think that’s kind of when I realized, ‘Wow, I’m representing Team USA. I’m at World Championships. This is one of the biggest honors you can have.’” On day one, Comerford had her only individual event of the meet, the 200 free. Without any short course meters’ experience to pull a seed time from, she was placed in lane seven in the final heat— and then held off 2008 Olympic gold medalist Federica Pellegrini to touch first in 1:53.71. That time was good for the No. 2 seed heading into the final behind only Katinka Hosszu. For most of the day, Comerford felt relaxed and thankful for opportunity to swim in the middle of the pool at night in her first World Championships, but when she arrived in the ready room, the rookie nerves hit. “I’d never done the bib before, and then walking out by myself, the second seed, that kind of got me a little nervous,” she said. “It was just a really good learning experience because you can’t get that preparation from anything else but doing it. Having to walk out with a bib and then take all my clothes off, be ready to go, being on camera, it’s just a lot different than what I was used to.” Comerford ended up touching in 1:53.79, just a few one-hundredths off her prelims time but only good enough for fifth place. But just 90 minutes later, she was back in the water for the race that would land result in her maiden trip to the top of an international podium, the 400 free relay. Later in the meet, Comerford would lead the Americans to a silver

“They’re fast, and I’m going to have to go really fast to stay with them,” she said. “They deserve that attention. Yeah, I was right there last year, but I’ve got work to do.” Still, it’s impossible to not be impressed with how far Comerford has come over the last 12 months. When she arrived in Greensboro for the ACC championships last February, few aside from hard-core swimming junkies knew her name. She figured to be relay depth for a Louisville squad that would go as far as Worrell would take them. But now, the Cardinals rely on Comerford. Sure, senior breaststroker Andrea Cottrell figures to again score some big points at NCAAs, but Comerford has championship final potential in three events and will be the go-to leg on whatever relays she swims on. It’s a position few could have predicted one year ago, even Comerford herself. But just like she wasn’t satisfied with her swims at Olympic Trials, the status quo in short course won’t be good enough, either. “I wanted to do well, but I don’t think I would ever have imagined myself in this situation a year ago. Last year I had a really, really good training trip. I came off on it on a high and just excited to race,” she said. “This year, it’s different. I’m going those [fast] times, and I’m like, ‘It’s okay,’ and last year I would have been freaking out. It sets the bar higher.” ◀ To read more about Comerford and other rookies on the U.S. Short Course World Championships team, check out “An Opportunity of a Lifetime” in the February issue of Swimming World Magazine. All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff. SWIMMING WORLD BIWEEKLY






lla Eastin arrived at Stanford in September 2015 having won titles at just about every Junior-level meet—Junior Nationals, Junior Pan Pacs and even the Junior World Championships.

At the Pac-12 Championships in February, Eastin out-dueled fellow Bay Area freshman Kathleen Baker to win the 200 IM, 1:52.77 to 1:52.80, and a day later she broke 4:00 for the first time in the 400 IM.

Six months later, she was a two-time NCAA champion—very nearly a triple-event winner—and an American record-holder.

Entering her first NCAA championships in Atlanta as a big favorite, she delivered, winning the 200 IM by more than a second and breaking the American record with her time of 1:51.65. She finished first in the 400 IM by a whopping five seconds and then, in her final race, pushed Kelsi Worrell to the limit in the 200 fly, almost overcoming a huge deficit on the final 50 before settling for second place.

Not too many blue-chip recruits become one of the premier swimmers in the country after one season, but for Eastin, everything immediately clicked at Stanford. She was comfortable both in the pool, swimming under head coach Greg Meehan and associate head coach Tracy Duchac for a team that had finished third at the NCAA championships the year before, and outside of it. “When I got there, I bought in quickly to what Tracy and Greg were having me do,” Eastin said. “I felt like I was surrounded by a lot of other hard-working, goal-oriented, Type A people. And I’m not just saying the swim team—at school, the environment is definitely something that only works for some people.” Within just a couple months—or less than a quarter on Stanford’s academic calendar—Eastin was already swimming times that would have won individual NCAA championships the year before. At the Art Adamson Invitational in late November 2015, Eastin swam a 4:01.04 in the 400 IM, more than a second faster than Sarah Henry’s winning time of 4:02.47 from the previous year’s NCAAs.



The enormity and emotion of the NCAA championships did not phase the freshman—mostly because she had no idea what to expect. “I think it was really helpful for me that I didn’t know the extent to which people got nervous for the meet or how big and exciting it was. I think it was helpful for me to walk in and pretend that I was at another Junior National meet, and I knew that I had the potential to put my hand on the wall first,” she Confidence was no issue, either. Training with professionals like future Olympic gold medalist Maya DiRado helped Eastin begin to think of herself on that same level, and at NCAAs, she knew she had the full support of the entire Stanford team, helping to take the pressure off. “I felt as though people believed in me,” she explained. “It

wasn’t as though they were counting on me—my team is counting on me, always—but I didn’t feel heavy pressure from them or anyone else. I always put the pressure on myself, and I always want to do the best I can for my swimming. But in this type of environment, it’s more fun to do it for the team.” Following her wildly successful performance in Atlanta, Eastin went straight to Colorado Springs with Meehan and a small group of teammates for an altitude training camp, the focus already turned towards the long course pool and Olympic Trials. The plan appeared to be working in early May, when Eastin returned to Georgia Tech for some long course racing. She posted career-best times in both the 400 IM (4:40.70) and 200 IM (2:10.54), beating eventual Olympic bronze medalist DiRado head-to-head in the later event. But when she was on deck in Omaha at Olympic Trials, her confidence had flickered. Expectations were ramped up after the successful spring, but with 1700-plus swimmers and a pool inside a massive arena seating 14,000, she felt intimidated. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a really good year where I’ve had a really good short course season and a really good long course season,” she said. “When I stepped into the long course season after NCAAs was over, it was a whole new ballgame with a whole new group of people. “I’m racing people five years older than me—or more—and it was hard for me to put myself in a position where I felt like I was in the race. I looked around and felt that everyone else had been in those positions before and had deserved those spots. I don’t know that I gave myself quite enough credit.” In her first swim of the meet, Eastin finished ninth in the 400 IM, just four one-hundredths outside of the top eight and a spot in the championship final. Her time of 4:42.08 was more than a second slower than she had swum just six weeks earlier in Atlanta.

“I realized that the times I swam my best were the times I believed in myself the most, and that was at NCAAs and a couple of random [long course] meets,” she said. “Taking that as a lesson and remembering what I’m doing every single day to be in that position, I have a reason to trust that I’m going to be able to do what I want to do.” Eastin hardly worked out over the next two months, and for the first time in years she had no routine to follow. She was actually on vacation in Florida during the Olympics but did catch a couple of races on television in her hotel room— including those when DiRado and Stanford teammate Simone Manuel won individual gold medals in upset fashion. “It was so bizarre to me to turn on the TV and watch among millions and millions of other people watching the same thing and be like, ‘I see those girls on a daily basis,’” Eastin said. “It was special, even more special knowing them personally and knowing that both of them worked so hard to get there.” She didn’t know it at the time, but just a few months later Eastin would have her own chance to race for international medals as USA Swimming tapped her for a spot on the Short Course World Championships team in Windsor, Canada. When she first got the invitation Eastin was reluctant to accept the spot on the team—mostly because she would miss a week of classes right before final exams. But Meehan strongly encouraged his sophomore IMer to accept what would be her first opportunity to compete on a senior U.S. national team. “What he always says when someone is invited to go to one of these meets is, ‘Being able to represent your country is a huge honor, and there are so many people that would love to be in that position, and that’s something that you should take advantage of while you can,’” Eastin recalled. Eastin would be competing in all three IM races in Windsor— all of which Katinka Hosszu would be favored to dominate, as Eastin knew all too well.

Three days later, she swam in the final of the 200 IM and actually was in the lead after the butterfly and in second at the halfway mark, but she faded badly to finish fifth in 2:11.49.

“I know that when [Hosszu] gets up, and she is planning to win from the get-go, nothing’s going to stop her,” Eastin said. “But at the same time, knowing she’s far ahead doesn’t mean that anyone else in the race should stop trying.”

Understandably upset with the results, Eastin left Omaha and went home to Southern California for the remainder of the summer. But as she reflected on her season, she realized that after all the work she put in, she had no reason not to feel confident—even at the hyped-up Olympic Trials

On the first day of the meet, Eastin qualified second for the 400 IM final behind Hosszu. That night, with the Hungarian well out in front, Eastin battled a tightly-bunched field to the finish and ended up touching third in 4:27.74—and was later upgraded to a silver medal when Vietnam’s Anh Vien Nguyen CONTINUED >>>



Four days later in the 200 IM final, Eastin picked up another silver medal, touching the wall in 2:05.02. The experience helped Eastin realize what kind of physical effort was required to get through a major international meet—she competed in nine of the meet’s first ten sessions— and more importantly helped instill in her a level of comfort with high-level racing—albeit in the unfamiliar format of short course meters. “Knowing I could get up and just race against these people was the best thing,” she said. “At this meet, times weren’t really what mattered—it was about trying to get your hand on the wall first. At Olympic Trials or the Olympics, it’s similar. You’re supposed to get up and race for your country and race for your teammates.” This spring, she’ll be seeing plenty of those U.S. teammates on deck at both the Pac-12 and NCAA championships. But her Stanford team will look quite a bit different than last year’s, particularly with the Manuel returning and Katie Ledecky beginning her college career at Stanford. The Cardinal are now favored to end a 19-year championship drought. Heading into conference championship season, Eastin ranks fourth in the nation in the 200 IM and first in the 400 IM with



a familiar face nipping at her heels: Ledecky. The freshman decided to swim the event at the Ohio State Invite in November, and Eastin managed to hold her off. “Yeah, barely,” Eastin deadpanned. “There’s no one in the world who can split the last 100 like she did. She went a 52—that’s a lot of people’s 100 freestyle times, which is hysterical.” Regardless of whether Ledecky chooses to swim the IM at NCAAs, Eastin won’t be worried about any pressure to defend her title or if the points will add up for Stanford to be the national champion. She figured out quickly that the NCAA meet is far too intense to be focused on anything but the process at hand. “All we do is go about our business because the only thing you can control is what you’re doing on a daily basis to improve for yourself, and improving for yourself is automatically going to help your teammates improve,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s about having each person try to do the best that they can to get as many points as they can, and however it ends up is how it’s going to end up. Nothing’s guaranteed, and everyone’s working as hard as they can to do the best they can for each other.” ◀







atie Ledecky didn’t need to use her legs much to cruise to a top seed in the 500 preliminaries at the NCAA women’s championships.

with how it went.”

What a difference her legs made in the finals.

“I was super excited,” Smith said. “I was just really happy. My best time is from my second year, and I swear, it is every single time I swim it, I want to break it. Every time I have tried to break 4:30, I have taken it out too fast. Tonight was my last collegiate 500 ever.”

Ledecky, a Stanford freshman and five-time Olympic gold medalist, again crushed the NCAA, American and U.S. Open record to win the 500 freestyle in 4:24.06 — her first individual NCAA title — on Thursday in Indianapolis. “I was just excited. I wanted to get the team fired up,” Ledecky said. “This morning, I really set my stroke up and planned it so I was swimming with my first 100-feel. I have been working on keeping that rhythm. I am really happy with it. It just shows the excitement of the meet. I wanted to leave it all in there.” Her Olympic teammate, Leah Smith of Virginia, surged to second place, finishing in 4:28.90. It was Smith’s first time under 4:30 and her swim was second fastest in history behind Ledecky’s one lane over. It was perhaps the most dominating 1-2 performance in NCAA history. But it was almost to be expected with the way Ledecky and Smith performed at the Olympics in Rio. But the stunning times were not expected with the first two swimmers in history under 4:30. “I remember when my goal was to break 4:30, then I went 4:28, then 4:26,” Ledecky said. “I have been taking it step by step and finding new ways to swim it, kind of experimenting. I have found how to swim it and have stuck with it. I am happy

So was Smith.

Ledecky was equally thrilled to see her Olympic teammate go under 4:30. “I said to her at the end, ‘Welcome to the club,” Ledecky said. “It is one of the most exclusive clubs in short-course swimming. I was really happy for her. I have seen her go 4:30 every year and watching, I have been hurting for her knowing she has that swim in her. I know she was thrilled to bust through that 4:30.” “There is a two-person club now,” Smith said. “Our relationship is really good. I have so much respect for her. We had a month together before Rio and just seeing how she brings her ‘A’ game to every single practice. It kind of legitimizes everything she does, because she works so hard.” But it is Ledecky’s impact on the sport overall that is her legacy. “Katie just raises the stakes and makes these new goals for everyone,” Smith said. “I think 4:30 is something I wanted to achieve since I was little, but now she has pushed past that. There are new things. There could be a second woman under 4:25. I think it is cool that she has done that for the sport. She has made a lot of people’s goals a lot higher.” ◀ SWIMMING WORLD BIWEEKLY







The Texas Longhorns put a dominating stamp on a dynasty. With no team within striking distance on the final day of the NCAA Division I men’s championship, the Longhorns capped a week of stellar performances by capturing their third consecutive national championship on Saturday in Indianapolis. The Texas three-step was accomplished dominating fashion, winning by more than 200 points — so many that the meet was wrapped up before the final night began. The win gives Texas 13 national championships, breaking the tie with Michigan for the most all time, all coming under Eddie Reese, who has the most all-time and has won at least three titles in each of the past four decades. It is the third three-peat in Texas history. “It is pretty special,” Texas senior Will Licon said. “It is something that I could have never dreamed of happening. It is pretty crazy. We are just almost in disbelief. I remember setting foot on campus with these guys. We felt like we had assembled the best recruiting class in the country. I feel like no one else really thought so and I think that has been driving us, just always having something to prove.” Texas scored 542 points, dominating a meet in which Cal finished second a 349, Florida was third at 294.5, NC State was fourth at 272.5 and Stanford was fifth at 242. The Longhorns finished the meet in record-setting fashion. As Joseph Schooling surged ahead anchoring the 400 freestyle relay to an NCAA and American record (2:45.39), the Longhorns surged to their 11th event title in the meet, tying the all-time record. “We don’t ever come here to win. I have three seniors that set four American records. Those are seniors who got better,” Reese said. “That is the name of the game. Look at their faces when they go fast. Winning is good, but fast is where it is.” Senior Clark Smith, who pulled a groin muscle during his winning 500 freestyle on Thursday, surged to a record-setting 46


performance in the 1,650 freestyle, winning in 14:22.41 in one of the greatest mile races in history as the top four swimmers finished ahead of the NCAA and American record. “I didn’t want to make any premeditated excuses,” Smith said. “I have never been in a race that close that long. I usually use my arms mostly. The push-offs really hurt. Around the 800, it got really bad, but my ego kind of finished the race for me. The last 10 lengths, I just sucked it up because I knew no one would feel bad for me, so I had to put it together on my own.” Smith got out of the water and had to be helped to the team area. The pain was so bad that he didn’t go up to the podium for the trophy ceremony. “We pulled him out of the 200, and I didn’t even want him to swim (the 1,650),” Reese said. “But I had no idea he would do that.” Licon then put his individual stamp on a stellar career by winning the 200 breaststroke in another American and NCAA record of 1:47.91, his third individual victory of the meet. Licon won the 200 breaststroke for the third consecutive year and is the fourth swimmer in history to ever win four different individual events during a career. “All that means is that coach didn’t know where the heck to put him,” Reese said. Senior Jack Conger followed that up with his first individual NCAA title, in an American record of 1:37.35. “I was really happy for Jack to win the 200 fly,” Smith said. “He had that coming.” Conger also was on the final relay, the lone senior — along with Brett Ringgold, Townley Haas (200 free champ) and Joseph Schooling (100 butterfly runner-up), putting the exclamation point on the national championship. “It never gets old,” Conger said. “This has been our goal all year. I definitely wanted to end things on the right note. We kept the momentum going through the entire meet.”◀











ong before four men touched the wall with the four fastest times in history, all of those watching the 1650 free at the men’s NCAA championships realized that they were being treated to an epic showdown. In lane one was Michigan’s PJ Ransford, the Michigan junior who put the pedal down on the second 500. As Ransford opened up a five-yard lead, Michigan’s Felix Auboeck, Texas’ Clark Smith and Northwestern’s Jordan Wilimovsky were battling for position in the middle of the pool. But after the 1000, Ransford faded, and out in lane eight, South Carolina’s Akram Mahmoud had surged. Mahmoud was desperate for redemption after a narrow defeat in the event in 2016, and by the 1300 he found himself head-tohead with Auboeck, Smith and Wilimovsky. After a furious, intense final stretch, it was Smith who pulled away on the last 50 to get his hand on the wall first in 14:22.41. The time was more than a second under the American and U.S. Open record of 14:23.52. Auboeck finished second (14:22.88), followed by Mahmoud (14:22.99) and Wilimovsky (14:23.45). After the meet, we collected impressions from five interested observers and will share those thoughts below. Those referenced include: • • • • •

Sam Kendricks, meet announcer Austin Surhoff, former University of Texas All-American and NCAA champion McGee Moody, University of South Carolina head coach Cathleen Pruden, Swimming World High School Content Manager Connor Jaeger, 2016 Olympic silver medalist in 1500 free and former American record-holder in 1650 free

All watching the race that night in Indianapolis except for Jaeger, who was back home in New Jersey. But despite the 48


distance, it didn’t take him long to find out his American record had gone down. “I looked at my phone and had a bunch of texts like, ‘Oh my god!’” Jaeger said. “Texts of different points in the each, who was winning at what time. It sounded really exciting. I do plan on watching it on YouTube, but I looked at all the splits, and it definitely looked like an exciting race.” Read below for a collection of their thoughts from throughout the race. Kendricks on the lead-up to the race: “I don’t like to do predictions, but this race was sitting in my head since a week after it finished last year. All I was thinking was, ‘How will this affect Akram Mahmoud, and what will be his resiliency level, and what will it mean for him trainingwise?’” Pruden pre-race: “Going into the mile I knew it was a hyped up race. While I recognized that it had potential, it seemed like media, fans, etc. were setting their standards a little too high. Despite being a distance swimmer myself, it was, after all, the mile. I know that it’s usually not as exciting as so many other events.” Kendricks on Ransford: “When I saw Ransford go, I thought, ‘This is the guy in the pack that’s going to try and break everybody.’ But in looking at the race again, I thought he went too early. Too hard, too early in the middle. I think he would have been right there if he had just gone with the pack, stayed with the pack and try to race them. His rabbit approach in the middle third set the race up for the finish because it forced those other guys to stay at a pretty high intensity.” Surhoff on Smith: “There’s such a mystique around Clark. Every race you wonder what the ceiling is and what the limit is… I couldn’t

help but have the feeling that once Clark got past the 700 or so and was still in the race that there was no chance he was going to lose. That’s the honest-to-God truth—I did not think it was possible for him to lose that race. “Watching him over the years, if he’s in the race, there’s no one in the sport that has the capacity to finish like he does. I watched it his sophomore year in Iowa when he won the 500 free and just took everyone down the last 100. The races that he wins and that he succeeds in, he just has to be in the race. Nobody else can finish like he does on the last 500.” Moody on Mahmoud: “We did our best to have Akram put last year’s race out of his mind. We worked really hard to design a race plan that was going to keep that from happening this year. It basically came down to him running out of gas last year. “The plan this year was to take the first 500 out in about 4:22. Wanted to be about 4:22-4:23 on the second 500. As we’re watching that first 500 unfold, and he came into wall in about 4:23, we knew that he was on his race plan. He was where he needed to be.” Pruden on Mahmoud: “I knew Mahmoud had done well last year, but he seemed so out of it. I knew he relied on a really quick latter half, but the gap still seemed like far too much. “I don’t really know how it happened but suddenly Mahmoud was very in the race, swimming from the outside. It was a five-man race that fell off to a four-man race and for that last 200 or so it seemed like every 50 had to be the last.” Kendricks on finish: “We get into that last 50, and I’m like, ‘This is Clark’s race. He’s going to kill those guys. It’s not even going to be close. He’s going to win by a bodylength and a half.’ That’s what I felt like was going to happen. “Then with 25 to go, I see Auboeck winding up and closing on Clark… And then I see Mahmoud—maybe he’s going to do it. And the whole time that last 25, I’m thinking, ‘It’s gotta be Mahmoud. The story has got to be Mahmoud.’ I honestly think, had Auboeck wound it up 10 to 25 yards earlier, he runs down Clark because it seemed like the last five strokes, [Smith] didn’t have a lot left in the tank. Surhoff on seeing an injured Smith helped off the deck: “That’s a tough as hell swim. In retrospect, after finding out about the injury and how much it affected him during the race. That’s one of the tougher, more gritty performances I’ve seen when you consider that he set a record as well.”

Jaeger on the record: “In one race, I had a quick drop from fastest of all-time to now fifth.” Moody on Mahmoud’s post-race emotions: “It’s one of those things where you can be upset that he didn’t win—because you know he wanted it really badly— but what do you tell a young man that just put up the thirdfastest time in history but then also had the third-fastest time in the heat. We just told him how proud we were of him. The biggest thing is he raced with heart. He battled through that last 300 to 400 yards.” Pruden’s final impression: “It’s cool to think that Katie Ledecky does that by herself all the time—sets a world record. This was in some ways equally impressive because all four of these guys demolished history, but they relied on each other and raced one another to get there. If you put walls in between their lanes and they were swimming alone, what would have been the result? I don’t know, but I really think those times were the result of it being a race, not just four very talented swimmers.” Jaeger from the distance swimmer’s perspective: “A lot of people were saying they thought the mile was the best race of the meet, and I have a lot of pride for that, just being a miler. I’m biased—I would say it was the most awesome race of the meet with how much back-and-forth there was going on—but to hear other people say it and to hear other non-distance people say it is awesome.” “Congrats to all of them. Great representation of distance racing in general.” Kendricks—“the greatest race I’ve ever witnessed:” “I wasn’t talking about the greatest race ever. I was talking about the greatest race I’ve ever seen in person. Would I put it ahead of the [U.S. 400 free] relay victory [from 2008] and the [Jason] Lezak close? I wouldn’t do that. But in terms of what it was, what we all saw and what I just witnessed with my own two eyes in front of me, I think I’ll be hard-pressed in my career to ever call a race that has that kind of drama.” Moody on historical implications: “To see all four of those guys go under the American record, in my opinion, that’s the greatest race in NCAA history. Definitely the greatest mile, but to have those guys over that length of time to battle in an event that’s so mentally challenging, so physically challenging, and then the four of them go the four fastest times ever in the event, that was awesome. That was fun. All the guys in that heat deserved a pat on the back because it was incredible.” ◀ SWIMMING WORLD BIWEEKLY








huck Wielgus, the Chief Executive Officer for USA Swimming, passed away April 23, 2017. Wielgus announced his retirement earlier this year. He has also served as CEO of the USA Swimming Foundation since 2004. Mike Unger is now the interim CEO as a national search continues to find the next Chief Executive Officer. Wielgus faced a recurring battle with colon cancer over the past decade, and he wrote in a letter to USA Swimming members that his health was a primary reason for his retirement. He was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2006 during the Christmas holidays. He made what appeared to be a full recovery at the time, thanks to daily radiation treatments and a 24-hour mobile intravenous chemoinjection system that he toted around his office for six weeks. The cancer reappeared in 2011, and after complications from surgery, he took a medical leave of absence. According to a USA Swimming spokesperson at the time, Wielgus “remained highly engaged in the day-to-day business of USA Swimming.” Just over a year later in Nov. 2012, Wielgus announced at a Board of Directors meeting that he would again go on leave to begin aggressive treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Since then, the cancer has returned and affected his life where Wielgus believes he can no longer fully function in his job. “My cancer has metastasized to the point at which it is very difficult to travel, and international travel is impossible. I also anticipate going back onto chemotherapy in the near future and the side effects of the drug I’ll be taking are likely to impact my daily quality of life, and thus my ability to work and lead effectively,” Wielgus wrote in his letter to USA Swimming members. Wielgus returned to the organization and maintained his role as executive director. In 2015, Speedo named Wielgus on its list of #30MostSwimfluential, and in Feb. 2016, USA Swimming rewarded him with a contract extension that would run through the 2020 Olympics. Wielgus then presided



over a successful summer in which American swimmers won 33 total medals, 16 of them gold, at the Olympics in Rio, and he described the banner year that was 2016 in his annual State of the Sport address in September. Wielgus’ twenty-year run at USA Swimming has coincided with a massive period of growth for the sport. On a grassroots level, Key Wielgus hire Pat Hogan played a central role in restructuring and strengthening the club system as the Managing Director of Club Development. Wielgus also helped pioneer Make A Splash and hired the organization’s first diversity specialist with the goal of increasing opportunities for minority athletes. Under his direction, USA Swimming launched an online anti-bullying program to serve its members. Wielgus took huge steps to increase swimming’s popularity and spectator-appeal. He pushed almost immediately for deals that would increase swimming’s television schedule, culminating with all eight nights of Olympic Trials being shown live on television since 2008. In 2016, seven of eight nights were broadcast on network television (NBC). Fans have now come to expect swimming on their television screens year-round. Trials has been held inside the CenturyLink Center three times: in 2008 (when the building was then known as the Quest Center), 2012 and 2016, and each night’s finals sessions sold out for the 2016 edition of the meet. Two days before that meet started, Wielgus likened Trials to the “Super Bowl” of swimming. Wielgus helped provide previously-unforeseeable opportunities for professional swimmers. Through the USA Swimming Foundation, he helped increase year-round funding for post-collegiate athletes, and USA Swimming’s marketing utilizes top athletes and reimburses them for their services. In the past decade, the Grand Prix Series— later renamed the Arena Pro Swim Series—has turned into a legitimate source of revenue for professional swimmers. ◆







ike Stromberg, former student-athlete and head coach at the University of North Dakota Swim Team, recently penned a letter expressing his disappointment over the swimming and diving teams being cut. Stromberg is a member of the UND Class of 1977 and was Head Coach of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams from 19802002, earning the title of NCAA Division II Coach of the Year in 1989 and 1999. In 2005, he was inducted into the University of North Dakota Hall of Fame. Read Stromberg’s letter in full: A legacy of UND Swimming and Diving came to an abrupt end this spring. To say I am disappointed by the decision is an understatement. There seems to be some who firmly believe the only way to create a successful Division I program is through athletic dollars. But I pose this question: What is the definition of success? How do we measure success and whose responsibility is it to raise those dollars? A program whose success had already been built on drive and gumption isn’t the program that when gone, will save the University’s athletic budget. Over the years, exemplary student athletes charged the UND flag to the national level in swimming, diving, and desire. These swimmers and divers do so because it is as internal to their daily needs as eating or breathing. These athletes swim with their hearts, a passion as real to each student as seeing the sun rise and set each day. And for emphasis, they do it their own dime! In the words of an old favorite movie, “If you build it, they will come.” And come they did. It was March of 1997 and the University of North Dakota (UND) Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving teams had recently returned from NCAA Division II Nationals with a strong sense of accomplishment. The women’s team finished third at

Nationals, and was the thirteenth year in a row finishing top six in the nation and securing their legacy as the most successful athletic program in the history of UND Athletics. The men’s team finished tenth that year, the ninth year that the men’s program had secured a top ten finish at NCAA’s. It was an exciting spring for UND athletics which also included an individual National Champion title in the Women’s 100 yard butterfly by junior Tania Younkin, a UND Women’s Basketball Team National Championship, and the UND Men’s Hockey team winning an NCAA Division 1 championship title. After a long winter of snow and cold, it was especially gratifying. A few short weeks later, the Red River started to rise as the winter of record breaking snowfall began to thaw. Thousands of homes were at risk, and Sandbag Central was established as the community jumped in to help. The men’s and women’s swimming and diving program was no exception. I received a call from the University’s administration who asked me to coordinate a quick response team to handle any requests of help that came into the University. The University provided us a few cell phones and we used one of the swimmer’s homes as a staging location. For the final week prior to the city of Grand Forks evacuation order, the team responded to calls almost 24 hours a day to fill, carry, and put down sandbag after sandbag. The final mission we conducted involved creating a sandbag wall around eight homes on 47th and Belmont. At end of the day, the call for the city of Grand Forks evacuation was made by the Mayor and the swimmers looked at me with trepidation and said, “Coach, we have got to leave town.” We knew we had done all we could do. After the flood waters receded, I received a phone call from Dr. CONTINUED >>>



Wanless, our Athletic Director, requesting that I return for a meeting. I met with Dr. Wanless and UND Housing Director Terry Webb that day at the Hyslop Sports Center. Terry Webb asked if I would coordinate the effort to house volunteers on the UND campus. Of course, I accepted and immediately knew I could count on my team to help. It was no small feat. We housed over 3000 volunteers that summer in the Hyslop Sports Center. The volunteers arrived and our group located them according to the longevity of their stay. We ensured each volunteer had a cot and daily meals, we assisted with transportation, and the Hyslop Swimming Pool locker rooms provided a place to shower – and even a place to swim if one so chose. Days were long, but the reward was great and the experience was unforgettable. That fall, the UND Swimming and Diving teams were back in the pool for another great season and gearing up to host the 1998 USA Swimming Junior Nationals at the Hyslop pool. There was a movement to take this event from Grand Forks due to the flood damage and infrastructure that had to be rebuilt, but the community pulled it off. The Junior National swim meet had over 1000 swimmers, coaches, and fans from all over the western United States and Hawaii. The event lasted five days and the news coverage was fantastic. The UND Swimming and Diving team ran the meet. In October of 1998, I secured Grand Forks as the processing center for United States Pan American team prior to participating in the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba. All USA athletes, coaches, staff and news media went through Grand Forks and many of them stayed on campus and trained in the local schools throughout East Grand Forks, MN and Grand Forks, ND over the five week period. After only two years since the flood, the community continued feel the flood’s devastation yet backed each of these efforts as each played a key role in giving our city the re-birth it so desperately needed following the flood. Those three years flew by, and the UND Swimming & Diving Teams and coaching staff were taxed, but it hardly fazed us. Giving back was embedded so deeply into our team culture; we always felt we were a part of something larger than ourselves. It was team tradition that each fall we took to the streets and helped our Grand Forks and East Grand Forks neighbors rake leaves, or completed odd jobs for the elderly population at their homes. That is who we were. As these stories point out, the success of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams over the years wasn’t always in the pool. UND Men’s and Women’s teams were continuously in the top academic rankings both at the school, and nationally – and that was expected of our athletes. And while that is telling – our largest success was the family we created; something that was not created due to athletic 52


scholarships or an overflowing budget. We raised a third of our budget each year and it was not uncommon for a UND President or Athletic Director tell me, “UND swimming doesn’t need our help, you guys are successful. We have to focus our efforts on the teams that are not successful.” The spirit of our success came from within – we loved to train, we loved to race, we loved being a part of a wonderful university, and a fantastic community. Kids came to swim at UND because this culture was apparent from the first contact; it certainly wasn’t due to scholarship dollars. But that culture carried over to our success in the pool. The women’s program had more success than any other women’s program in the history of UND and produced more All-Americans than all the other women teams put together. It has more NCAA National trophies than all UND Athletic programs put together. In 1984, the team produced the first and only individual Division I National Qualifier in Kimber Edwards, from Minot, ND. In 1982, the UND Women’s Swimming & Diving program participated in its first NCAA National Championship for any women’s athletic team, and then went on to represent UND at NCAA’s for 24 years, placing in the top six in 22 of those years before becoming Division 1. This year, the women’s program was beginning to make its mark at the Division I level as they won four of five relay titles at the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championships, and crowned numerous individual conference championships. The Men’s program represented UND nationally for twentyone consecutive appearances at the NCAA’s, finishing in the top 10 eighteen years in a row. The men’s team had multiple NCAA National Individual Champions, along with NCAA National Championship Relays. Over all those years it produced more All-Americans than all the other men’s sports put together. After the University moved to Division I athletics, the men’s swimming and diving programs continued their success in the WAC. Swimmers have been tenths of seconds from qualifying for the NCAA Championship meet, which is the fastest and most difficult meet to qualify for in the world – even faster than the Olympics. During my years as coach, 90% of the student-athletes on the women’s team were paying their own tuition. On men’s team, 95% paid their own tuition. At present 60% of women and 70% of men pay their own tuition while representing UND in swimming and diving. Both programs are near the bottom of all teams on a cost-per-athlete basis. 70% of the other athletic teams were costing the university more dollars to maintain. When tuition revenue is included, the program actually saves the University $180,000 per annum. For many years the UND Swim Lesson program, run by the UND Swimming and Diving programs, made more money for the Athletic Department than the football program. The UND Swimming and Diving programs brought approximately $23 million in economic

dollars to the city of Grand Forks during my tenure. It seems a bit too easy to simply close a door to one of the most successful athletic programs in the history of UND. There were NCAA Championship trophies, more than 202 All-Americans, and 30 Individual and Relay NCAA National Champions along the way. A legacy was created and celebrated – so much so that many in the region grew up dreaming of one day attending UND and joining the team – and many did. The University could have chosen a handful of options that would have achieved the same or perhaps a better financial goal. Had they considered a reduction in scholarships? I feel certain that swimmers would have chosen to continue to swim. The pride in the UND program is reward enough for the

long hours spent in the pool. UND has three primary forces at work that have driven athletes to the program year over year: a superior education, a culture of family and commitment, and a nationally acclaimed swimming and diving program. When UND swimmers and divers reflect on their years at UND, the love and passion spent in the pool is just as important, if not more so, than the degree hanging on the wall. In Grand Forks, the Red River Flood of 1997 was devastating. Today, in 2017, a similar feeling has overtaken me as our team, our legacy, has been willfully drowned by a flood of poor decisions. The UND Swimming and Diving Alumni are fighters. Together with swimmers from all over the state of North Dakota and the five state region, we will work tirelessly to bring this celebrated program back to UND and help create a new era of UND Athletics. ◆






aeleb Dressel was hyped as the next great American sprinter. As for the hype, well, he earned it. But that’s a lot to live up to, and plenty of talented teenagers— in all sports, not just swimming—have been viewed as disappointments because they have not turned out to be all that was promised. Seven World Championship gold medals later, Dressel sure has not disappointed. The moment was in mid-December of 2013, in Greensboro, N.C., at USA Swimming’s Short Course Junior Nationals. Dressel, representing the Bolles School at the time, was leading off a 200-yard free relay at the start of the first night of finals. Dressel’s time was 18.94. He had become the first high school-age swimmer to ever break 19 seconds. The packed house at the Greensboro Aquatic Center went nuts. The meet was packed with talent and names that would go on to become stars in the future—including future U.S. Olympians Kathleen Baker, Gunnar Bentz, Townley Haas and Jay Litherland—but Dressel stole the show. And then, right after that, Dressel stopped swimming.



“I wasn’t even thinking about swimming during that time period,” Dressel said. “During those six months, I didn’t touch water. I didn’t even think about touching water.” Would that really be it? Would someone that talented really call it quits at age 17? No, he wouldn’t. That summer water would call him back, and he honored his commitment to go to the University of Florida and swim for head coach Gregg Troy.


Once he came back, Dressel’s progression was rapid and constant. He won his first NCAA championship as a freshman at Florida and his first National Championship that summer. In the summer of 2016, he made his first U.S. Olympic team and ended up leading off the U.S. men’s 400 free relay. The U.S. coaching staff picked Dressel to go first over a man very used to leading off those American relays, Michael Phelps. They needed every advantage possible, and it was already abundantly clear that the powerful Dressel had one of the best starts in the world. The decision certainly paid off, as the American men won gold. During his junior season at Florida, he swept all three of his individual events at the NCAA championships and smashed the all-time fastest marks in both the 100-yard free and 100yard fly. Even after U.S. Nationals, when Dressel won three

events and finished a close second in the 100 free, there was barely any inkling this was possible. Then came his first final of the World Championships, when Dressel led off the American men’s 400 free relay. The U.S. team was in front as soon as Dressel went off the blocks and would never relinquish the lead. Dressel ended up pulling away from the field and touching the wall in 47.26—yes, more than six tenths under his lifetime best and faster than David Walters’ eight-year-old suit-aided American record of 47.33. The team ended up needing every bit of that effort as Nathan Adrian held off Brazil to win gold. Dressel’s one slip-up came on day two, when he ended up fourth in a tight 50 fly final. On day three, he had a day off. Immediately after that, his legend was born. He split a then-stunning 49.92 as the butterflyer on the American mixed 400 medley relay. The next day, he dominated the men’s 100 free final, lowering his American record to 47.17 and winning gold by a massive seven tenths of a second. Winning his first individual World title in that fashion? Extremely impressive—but apparently nothing compared to what he had up his sleeve for the next two days. Dressel had qualified to swim the 50 free, 100 fly and the 800 free relay during the morning session on day six. But Troy decided that that would be a little too much, and the 800 free relay was out. “I had to look a day ahead. That would have been three events last night and three events tonight,” Dressel said. “I would have liked to have been on it, but I think it would have been in the best interests of Team USA for me to not swim it.” Just two events? Easy, apparently. He qualified second in the 50 free prelims and then returned to the pool and dropped a 50.08 in the 100 fly. Yes, that was Dressel’s best time by seven tenths of a second. Yes, it made him the third-fastest performer of all-time and the fastest man ever in a textile suit by three tenths. At that point, it was becoming so normal. That night, he added an American record in the 50 free and took another hundredth off his 100 fly time. All in a day’s work, right? Day seven would throw another wrinkle his way—a triple. He would go for individual golds in both the 50 free and 100 fly, about 40 minutes apart, and then he would lead off the

mixed 400 free relay. No swimmer, man or woman, had ever won three gold medals in one session at a World Championships. First came the 50 free. As per usual, Dressel was off the blocks and immediately in front. And once again, he won gold, his time of 21.15 another new American record, again the fastest time ever in a textile suit. Forty minutes later, he returned to lane four inside the Danube Arena for the 100 fly final. Two lanes over was a familiar face: Dressel’s high school training partner and Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling.


Schooling and Dressel have known each other for eight years, since a 13-year-old Schooling moved to Jacksonville to train at Bolles. They had never considered themselves rivals, mostly because Dressel never considered himself a butterflyer. Then came the 2017 NCAA championships. Schooling was the Olympic gold medalist, the undisputed favorite in the 100-yard fly. But Dressel used a ridiculous final turn and a final 25 where he did not breathe to get the win. They would meet again at Worlds. Schooling was the man hyped up as a potential threat to the world record. Well, at least until Dressel swam his 50.08 in prelims Friday morning. Swimming two lanes apart in the final in Budapest, it was never any contest. Yet again, Dressel got ahead off the start and never looked back. He went out in 23.31 at the 50-meter mark, three tenths ahead of anyone else in the field. He came home in 26.55, again faster than anyone else in the field. He finished in 49.86. Schooling finished almost a full second back, tying for bronze in 50.83. No one had broken 50 since full polyurethane suits were banned eight years ago, and here was Dressel, finishing just four hundredths shy of a world record held by a guy named Phelps. “That was phenomenal,” Schooling said. “There were no words to describe how fast that is. He just did 50 free, and he had a bunch of events before. That makes it even more impressive. That’s all, really.”


As Dressel jogged off the podium after receiving his 100 fly gold medal, he headed straight to the ready room to join CONTINUED >>> SWIMMING WORLD BIWEEKLY




>>> DRESSEL AND HIS 2017 FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS SWIMMER OF THE MEET AWARD Adrian, Mallory Comerford and Simone Manuel for the mixed 400 free relay. Dressel, unsurprisingly, was penciled into the lead-off position. Even after his two finals, he still had something left. He split 47.22, just five hundredths off his time from the individual 100 free, and he handed Adrian a huge lead. The U.S. team would go on to win gold by more than two seconds and smash the world record by more than three. History had been made—three gold medals in one night. “I don’t think there’s any accidents in this sport,” Dressel said. “I’ve been scrutinized for the training I do at Florida. I had three swims within an hour and a half of each other tonight, and I had to be on my A-game for all of them. It wasn’t an accident what happened tonight. I work well with Troy, and we were ready for it.” And so, to end the night, Dressel stood on the medal podium again and received his sixth gold medal of the week. Six, one short of seven—and with the 400 medley relay to go. Only one man has ever won seven gold medals at a World Championships: Phelps. With the American men favored to take down the British and win gold in that relay, matching that accomplishment is well within reach. “I have mixed relays helping me out, so I think it’s a bit different situation,” Dressel correctly pointed out. “I just want to keep doing my own thing. I don’t want to be compared to Michael. I absolutely love Michael—that was my first time being on a team with him in Rio. He’s a great guy, love him to death. He texted me this meet just to say, ‘Great job.’” 56


True, the mixed relays, just added to the World Championships program in 2015, do give Dressel a leg up when it comes to accumulating gold medals. But it’s still massively impressive, and three individual golds is nothing to sneeze at, either. Katie Ledecky is the only other swimmer in Budapest who has won three individual golds. Among men, Sun Yang and Adam Peaty are the only others to win two. But for all the gold medals, all the American records and all the world record scares, Dressel has had no time to let it sink in. Perhaps after the medley relay he’ll think about that, but with all the races he has had—so far, 15—there’s been no time to focus on anything but the next task. “It’s physically challenging and emotionally straining. You can’t get too caught up in one race,” he said. “You have to take one race as time, enjoy the moment and then get refocused really quickly.” In his press conference at the end of the night, a reporter asked Dressel if he felt prepared to become the new face of swimming, at least on the men’s side, in this era after Phelps’ retirement. Dressel disagreed with that assessment. “I don’t think that can be put just on me,” he said. But there’s nothing Dressel can do to stop it—after this week, the spotlight will be his. On a night when Ledecky won her fifth gold medal of the World Championships and 14th world title of her career, hers was the side story. Perhaps Matt Grevers, the oldest member of the U.S. team in Budapest and a team captain, put it the best. “It’s awesome seeing the birth of a superstar.” ◀

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ate Campbell arrived in Budapest last month confident that her 100 free world record was about to go down, and there was nothing she could do about it. If her Australian countrywomen needed a boost in one of the sprint relays, Campbell would not be up for the task. That’s because Campbell was not a member of the Australian Dolphins swim team, as she had been for most of the previous decade. She was in Budapest, yes, but her job there was to provide analysis for Australia’s Channel 7 broadcast. A strange position for Campbell, to be sure, especially as she watched her younger sister, Bronte, compete in a full schedule of events alongside other of her longtime friends— Emma McKeon, Brittany Elmslie and Emily Seebohm, who was Campbell’s teammate as long ago as the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Months earlier, Campbell had decided to take the year off from competing at the World Championships, and even after racing at her country’s national championships in April, she stuck to her guns and declined a spot in Budapest.

doesn’t really matter because it’s going to happen regardless and I cannot in any way change that fact.” As it turned out, the Aussie team did not have enough firepower to hang with the Americans, coming up three tenths short and settling for silver. To add insult to injury, Sarah Sjostrom became the first woman to swim a 100 free under 52 seconds while leading off Sweden’s relay, demolishing Campbell’s world record by more than three tenths of a second. While all that went down, Campbell was watching from the deck nearby, preparing to analyze the session on camera for the fans back home in Australia. But why—why did Campbell choose not to defend her world record and go into battle with her Australian teammates in Budapest? The answer to that question lies in what had happened one year earlier in Brazil, when Campbell, facing the more pressure than she ever had, came up short.


On day one of the meet, that meant watching helplessly as Bronte and the rest of the Australian team battled the United States women for gold in the 400 free relay.

Five weeks before the Olympic Games, Campbell broke the world record in the 100 free, recording a time of 52.06 at a low-key Grand Prix meet in Brisbane. It was the first individual long course world record of her career.

“Obviously there is a really fierce rivalry between the USA and Australia. I’m just going to have to try to enjoy sitting back and watching,” Campbell said of the impending dual for gold. “Ultimately, it’s out of my hands, so what I think

So she had history’s fastest time, but should she be excited about that, with the grand prize of Olympic gold not yet secured? Campbell wasn’t sure, calling her feelings about the world record at the time “a weird mix.”




“You are really happy that it has happened, but you also want to shut it off and put it away and not think about it and then you don’t really get to celebrate that achievement for what it is,” Campbell said. “That was like a little speed bump on the road to Rio.” But regardless of her emotions about the achievement, the record only ramped up the expectations for Campbell’s Olympics: Anything other than an Olympic gold in the 100 free would be a disappointment.

In Rio, Campbell looked poised to deliver—at least through the meet’s first few days. After leading Australia to Olympic gold in the 400 free relay on the meet’s opening day, she paced >>> SARAH SJOSTROM the field through the first two rounds of the 100 free, setting the Olympic because you could see your own emotions reflected in your record on both occasions. She was the undisputed favorite sister’s race,” Cate said. for gold. But in the Olympic final August 11, Campbell flinched. Literally. After coming down into a set position, Campbell can be seen inching forward just slightly in the split-second before the horn sounded. She thought she false started, she admitted. Did that affect her? Impossible to know for sure. Whatever her mental state, Campbell was out in 24.77, under world-record pace—and, apparently, too hard. Campbell still led with 15 meters to go, but all the sudden, her tempo dropped dramatically, and within moments she was passed on either side by Simone Manuel of the United States and Penny Oleksiak of Canada. Manuel and Oleksiak tied for gold in 52.70, more than a half-second off Campbell’s world record. Campbell ended up finishing sixth in 53.24. She was devastated. “There were tears, there were many tears—I’d be lying if I said there weren’t,” she admitted. Bronte, who arrived in Rio as the defending World Champion in the 100 free and was roommates with Cate in Rio, didn’t put up the performance she expected either, ending up fourth in the final. In the ensuing moments, the sisters shared in their mutual pain. “It was almost something that didn’t need to be discussed

Two days later, Campbell came out in the 50 free and again missed the podium. She was fifth in 24.15, four hundredths away from winning bronze. That session, the last of the Olympics, wasn’t a complete wash for Campbell, as she anchored Australia’s 400 medley relay to silver, but relay accolades could not make up for the individual letdowns.


After Rio, Campbell decided to get as far away from swimming as she could. She avoided the water for six weeks, more time than she had ever taken off in her career. Deep down, she knew her career was not over, but she had no desire to swim. “I was bitter, and I was angry, and I was frustrated, and I was scared,” Campbell said. “It’s strange, because it was 100 percent me (at fault) and I was in control, but I felt like I had given so much of myself to this thing and it had just really let me down and I was feeling really hurt by it.” But at the same time, nothing else Campbell was doing was all that satisfying either. So one day, Campbell decided to go for a swim—not necessarily for a workout, just a swim at her home pool in Brisbane. She dove in, and immediately, without taking a stroke, she felt at home. CONTINUED >>> SWIMMING WORLD BIWEEKLY



“It was really strange. I dove in and just glided. I didn’t need to take a stroke. I didn’t need to do a kick,” she said. “I knew as soon as I dove in that it was what I was born to do,” Campbell said. “It’s my great love and my great talent and my great passion, and it would be a shame to give it up over 100 meters.” But at the same time, Campbell knew she needed to make some changes to ensure her own longevity in the sport. She decided to take a step back, to return to training but with less focused intensity than she was used to. She would still race throughout 2017, but that meant the World Championships would be out. “I knew I couldn’t be focused 100 percent, 100 percent of the time,” Campbell said. That’s an unrealistic expectation to have of anybody towards anything, and that’s how I had been for the last four years.” Campbell resumed her university studies and allowed herself more freedom to live her life without thinking constantly about how anything she did would affect her training. If she wanted to go hiking one weekend, Campbell would go. So what if her legs were a bit sore when she showed up for Monday morning workout? So what if she wanted to go back for an extra serving of ham at Christmas dinner? 60


Campbell has raced in a few low-key meets since Worlds— FINA World Cup stops and the Energy for Swim charity meet in Rome—and she plans to ramp things up again in the leadup to next April’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and then take a step back once again before what she hopes is a strong push towards another Olympics in Tokyo. She still has big goals she wants to accomplish in swimming, but even if she has never won an individual Olympic gold medal, she has gained some perspective on her career during her mental break this past year. She has allowed herself to be proud of all she has accomplished. “I’ve broken world records, I’ve become a world champion, I do have two Olympic gold medals, and one of them is in a world-record time. Yeah, they are not individual, and yeah, they are not exactly what I wanted or what I would dream of, but that doesn’t mean my whole career has been a failure,” Campbell said. “I’ve had maybe one or two bad swims, and if I put them on a scale, the good far outweighs the bad. Why am I getting hung up on this one little negative? Well, more than little—it was big negative, let’s face it—but why am I letting one bad swim define my whole swimming career?” Now, as she aims for next year’s Commonwealth Games, Campbell is armed with a healthier perspective. Her days as one of the world’s best sprinters may not be over just yet. ◀






ave Durden made no effort to sugarcoat it. “I wasn’t a very good swimmer,” he said.

As a coach, though, Durden acquitted himself well. Entering his 11th season as the head men’s coach at Cal, his teams have finished in the top two at the NCAA championships each of the previous eight years. And in 2016, he and assistant Yuri Suguiyama placed five swimmers on the U.S. Olympic team. Aside from his stable of professionals and his college team— expected to again be among the best in the country this season—Durden was head coach for the U.S. men’s team at this summer’s FINA World Championships. It was his second straight Worlds leading the U.S. team, and after a rough go of it in Kazan—where, in his own words, he “messed up all the relays”—Durden earned plenty of praise for his work in Budapest, including from legendary Texas coach and U.S. men’s assistant Eddie Reese. “He is Mr. Organized,” Reese said. “He’s really good.” Well, so were the American men in Budapest. Under Durden, the team won seven gold medals and 16 total medals, up from just two gold medals and 10 total podium finishes two years earlier in Kazan. Over the years, Durden has consistently been able to get his swimmers—currently those at Cal and on the U.S. National team, but before that at Auburn and at Maryland—to swim fast at crunch time. He’s learned the right buttons to push for

any individual athlete or squad. But when it came time for Durden himself to compete for the first time in 19 years, he needed a little bit of an extra boost. Durden’s children swim in a local summer league, and he was tapped for leadoff duty for the Scottsdale Swim Club dads’’ 100 free relay at the city championship meet. So he came out for the race in a full-body polyurethane suit—one of the ones that have been banned from competition since 2010. “According to the Walnut Creek City League bylaws, there are no suit restrictions placed on the parents’ relay, one of the final events of the city meet,” he said. “Just like running off the side of the deck is not prohibited in the parents’ relay, the tech suit is also a legal suit.” Durden ended up giving his team a bodylength lead after his 10-second 25 free leadoff leg, and the other three dads held on for victory. In crunch time, just like his swimmers, Durden got the job done.


Durden’s own experience in the pool, combined with his background as an engineer, determined what kind of coach he would turn out to be—highly technical and focused on the smallest details in stroke technique. “Sometimes when you’re not very good, you tend to pay CONTINUED>>> SWIMMING WORLD BIWEEKLY




attention to all the little things to try to get better and to find extra seconds or extra tenths of seconds,” Durden said. “Because I acknowledged that I wasn’t a great swimmer, I still feel like I have to look at every little thing for an athlete to get better.” That means no one-size-fits-all mold. During an hour-long presentation on backstroke technique at the ASCA World Clinic in Washington last month, Durden explained how he instructs Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy, fellow U.S. Olympian Jacob Pebley and sophomore backstroker Andy Song differently on technical matters

‘Hey Dave, what do you think about this?’ We come together, and we figure out a plan.” That back-half strategy ended up working out nicely—sixth at the halfway point in the 100 free World Championships final, Adrian charged home to pick up a silver medal—but even if the strategy had flopped, Durden believed that with the big picture in mind, experimentation would still have been worth it. “With how our sport is sectioned up in terms of quads, to be able to try something, do something different, change up a schedule, change up the training plan for a particular athlete one year after the quad, the gain of doing that far outweighs the loss,” Durden said. “The loss of not medaling at World Championships, or the color of medal, or not making the World Championships team, that’s minimal compared to the gains you can make going forward with those athletes for this particular cycle, 2020.” [ PHOTO COURTESY:ROB SCHUMACHER-USA TODAY SPORTS ]

It also means that just because something has worked, doesn’t mean Durden is unwilling to change it—especially if he has a swimmer who understands the big picture of why those changes would be necessary. A swimmer like, say, Nathan Adrian. After winning Olympic gold in the 100 free in 2012 and two individual bronze medals in 2016, it would have been perfectly understandable if Adrian wanted to keep on with his typical approaches to training and racing when he returned for his ninth—yes, ninth—season with Durden this year. But instead, they changed things up. Adrian went away from his typical race strategy in the 100 free, holding back towards the beginning and coming home strong instead of going allout the entire race. Adrian did not resist—he actively encouraged Durden to think outside the box. After almost a decade as one of the world’s premier sprinters, Adrian’s working relationship with Durden has been critical in keeping things fresh. “I am just really, really happy that Dave is receptive to doing things differently,” Adrian said. “I think it’s really fun. He doesn’t have an ego where he’s like, ‘We have to do it this way,’ and ‘This is how we’re going to be the fastest.’ It’s, 62




At the Olympics in Rio, Murphy won three gold medals, becoming only the sixth man in history to win gold in both the 100 and 200 back at the same Olympic Games. It was the finest single-meet performance any Durdencoached athlete had ever put together. And after it was over, he went back to school. After doubling down on his focus for the Olympics, Durden implored Murphy to focus on being a student-athlete for his final year as a Golden Bear. By the end of the year, he would still rank among the best in the world in the men’s backstroke events, but he couldn’t get his hand on the wall first in either the 100 or the 200 at the World Championships. What happened? Well, life.

>>> MISSY FRANKLIN “He comes back (from the Olympics) into two semesters of school, graduating, finishing up his degree which he’ll finish up this fall, transitioning from an amateur athlete to a professional athlete in a very short window of time,” Durden explained.


for him. So after her devastating Olympics, she chose him as her new coach.

For one year, swimming was not the only priority in his life.

Franklin has not competed since she missed the 200 back final at the Olympics in Rio. Beat down physically—she had double shoulder surgery early in 2017—and emotionally, she took the summer off of swimming.

“It’s a priority, but there’s things that have equal weight in that,” Durden said. “He’s making sure he’s academically in a spot to be set up for the next 40 years of his life with his education, making sure professionally he’s set up for the next four years of his life and then, all the sudden, it’s like, ‘I have to pull back and get ready for this meet.’”

“Dave—I cannot say enough about him—has been so unbelievably supportive throughout this entire process,” Franklin said in June. “He hasn’t been pressuring me to do absolutely anything. It’s on my own time, whatever I need, he just wants me to be happy and healthy, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get me to that point.”

The results—a bronze in the 100 back, a silver in the 200 back and two relay gold medals—were still solid performances, but Murphy was visibly displeased with how things turned out.

The goals Franklin and Durden have set aren’t long-termoriented or time-focused. You know the cliché about taking things one day at a time and enjoying the process? For Franklin, that’s exactly what it boils down to.

“Well, sure, he’s mad,” Durden said. “He expects himself to be there. He’s just as mad as he was in 2015 (after the World Championships in Kazan, where Murphy didn’t win an individual medal), and he responded extremely well over the next 12 months. I would expect that his response is similar as he goes through the next three years.”

“We’re working on the day-to-day to get better and not trying to get past that,” Durden said. “I think she can enhance our training environment with her day-to-day and what she’s doing and how she’s doing. I think those are the two main goals, the two big goals right now and not to get past that.”

Returning to the training pool at Cal, it’s a straightforward plan with the 22-year-old Murphy: He’s not happy with how things went in Budapest, he tends to respond well to poor performances, and he wants to get back on the gold-medal platform.

With now six U.S. Olympians in his pro group, Durden has to cater to the unique individual needs of each one of them, all very different human beings at different stages of their careers and of their lives. Each of them has big goals, and each has found reason to put their full trust in Durden.

For another of the top-notch backstrokers in Durden’s program, the message and the goals are much different. Because even though Missy Franklin is the same age as Murphy, she’s at a much different point in her swimming career and in her life.

So has the University of California-Berkeley for the past decade, and so has USA Swimming with its most important teams, immediately giving Durden another shot at the World Championships two years after the lackluster results in Kazan.

Franklin had never swum for Durden before, but watching from afar, she had long respected him for his calm demeanor on deck and noticed how much his athletes enjoyed swimming

Year after year, the former electrical engineering student who was “not a very good swimmer” has proven he knows how to wire swimmers and put together teams that get the job done. ◀ SWIMMING WORLD BIWEEKLY






ia Rankin, a 14-year-old freshman at all-girls Xavier College Prep, was racing for a state title. In the 500 free final at the Arizona Division I girls’ state meet, she was neck-and-neck with Chandler High School’s Destiny Kling. Watching closely on deck was Mia’s father Mark Rankin, who had taken over coaching duties at Xavier just one month earlier under the most tragic of circumstances. “Turn for turn the whole freaking way,” Mark said. “Mia had her around the 400, but (the other) girl kept coming.” After Rankin had a slight advantage with just 100 yards to go, Kling made her run on the second-to-last 50 and took the lead—by just two hundredths—heading into the last two lengths. Rankin could not run her down. Kling finished in 4:55.75, Rankin in 4:55.93. Rankin was annoyed she hadn’t won, but she had swum the race of her life, dropping 12 seconds from her best time. The whole way, she was thinking of only one thing—actually, one person. “Her.” The “Her” was Maureen “Mo” Rankin, Mia’s mother and Mark’s wife, who had passed away seven weeks earlier after a battle with bladder cancer. Mo had been in her second season as Xavier’s head coach. Mia had been swimming for her time and for her team— which was in the hunt for a state championship—but also for



something bigger. So were the 18 other girls racing in Xavier caps that Saturday afternoon in Mesa. Just this summer, Mo Rankin thought her cancer was gone. She had been first diagnosed in December 2016, and after chemotherapy, doctors gave her a clean bill of health by the summer. But when she did not feel well again in late July, she went in for more tests. The cancer had returned. As the high school season began in early August, Mo was on deck regularly at Xavier’s practices. The school had hired her full-time to work in the finance department, but treatment— radiation and immunotherapy—diminished her ability to function. “The therapy kind of hit her pretty hard,” Mark said. “She was mostly there on deck, but she had to get away from her day job. This was early August. She was maintaining for a little while, coaching the workouts, but she was starting to really not feel good at all—having trouble getting out of bed, really sore.” As August turned to September and Mo became weaker, she ended up sending workouts to her assistant, Jen James, to relay to the girls on the team. But on Sept. 19, as Mo’s condition worsened, Mark was forced to take her into the hospital. She would never make it out. Mo Rankin died early Monday morning, Sept. 25, leaving behind Mark, Mia and an 11-yearold son, Luke. At that point, her high school team was without a coach. Mark, who like Mo had previously coached age group, senior

Right around the time she died, Mark started coming to as many of the meets—particularly weekend invitationals—as he could, and he even dropped by some practices while maintaining his full-time job in sales. But Xavier athletic director Lynn Winsor wanted Mark to assume more regular coaching duties.


and masters at Phoenix Swim Club, took over Mo’s duties of sending in workouts shortly before her death. “Mo and I are similar coaches,” Mark said.

Mark’s twin brother Matt had just missed making the U.S. Olympic team in 1988—he was fourth in both the 200 IM and 400 IM at Olympic Trials, missing the top two in the 400 IM by just 55 hundredths—and Mo was a nine-time all-American at the University of Arizona. Elite-level swimming runs in the family. And after she lost her mother, swimming was Mia’s refuge. She woke up on a Monday morning to find Mark had come home from the hospital to deliver the news. At 3:30 that afternoon, she was at Phoenix Swim Club for practice.

“Sister Lynn was being very cool. ‘Can you come on?’ ‘No, but I’ll help as much as I can.’ >>> MIA & MARK RANKIN Coach Jen was like, ‘Yeah, we can make this work. Let’s not “Swimming makes me feel better. bring anyone else in.’ I started getting there when I could,” All my friends were there,” Mia said, before recalling Mark explained. that it had been an especially hard practice that afternoon. “It’s easier to not think about (what happened) when I’m With two weeks to go before State meet, Mark blocked off swimming because I’m too busy focusing on, ‘This hurts.’” his afternoons to coach at Xavier. After acquainting himself with the girls on the team, he realized that this group had “I think she just doesn’t want anything to interfere with what potential to accomplish something special, and he wanted to she wants to accomplish, even something like that,” Mark see it through added. “I knew we had a good chance of winning State this year,” Mark said. “We kept beating all these teams that were whooping on us last year. We had a hell of a freshman group.” The once-dominant Xavier Gators had won 26 State titles in their history, including 14 in a row from 1999 to 2012. But they had not won since, and in Mo’s first year coaching, the team had finished fourth at the Division I girls’ State meet. “We kept planting it in their heads: ‘You guys are looking good. We’re beating these teams,’” Mark said. “I wasn’t for sure, but I knew we were going to be right in it. It just slowly, clearly kind of became more obvious that we were definitely in the hunt.” When Mo started feeling sick again in July, she and her family had been in Oregon while Mia swam in her firstever senior Sectionals. Just 13 at the time and representing Phoenix Swim Club, she dropped five seconds in her 200 breast and six in the 400 IM to earn her first cuts for Winter Junior Nationals. “She’s just very driven. She thinks she’s going to be there. She thinks she’s got a hell of a shot,” Mark said. “Yeah, she thinks she’s going to be an Olympian and has had that belief for a couple years now. I remember having that belief, but I never talked about it like that.”

The club put up a poster reading “We love you, Coach Mo,” and swimmers who knew her could write messages on sticky notes and paste them onto the board. Within a day, there were more than 100 notes. Being surrounded by tributes to a lost parent could easily be too much for a grieving teenager to take, and indeed, Mia’s brother Luke still has trouble going to school or to practice without being painfully reminded of what happened. But for Mia, getting back to a sport where she had so much connection with her mother was comforting. “It was a reminder, but it was also a good reminder. Every time I think about racing, I think about her and how she would want me to go fast, and it helped a lot,” Mia said. At State meet, Mia would swim the 200 IM and the 500 free—her mom’s event. “Her mom had been state champion four years in a row in the 500,” Mark said. “I’m pretty sure she was aware of that. I didn’t talk about it—I think she and her mom talked about it.” But Mia’s connection to swimming is far thicker than just blood, as Mark saw first-hand during a pre-meet warm-up at CONTINUED >>> SWIMMING WORLD BIWEEKLY



Xavier’s pool the day of the State meet prelims. “I just remember her smiling and laying on the lane line, talking with her buddies in that warm-up,” Mark said. “Not talking to me, kind of talking to the girls around her. ‘I love swimming. I love swimming.’” The team showed up at State wearing wristbands honoring their head coach. They read: “XCP Swim and Dive” on one side and “#NoMoCancer” on the other. As they fought for a State title, they did it for her. Entering the finals session, Mark was optimistic but cautiously so. In prelims, the team had set itself to finish considerably— but not comfortably—ahead of Chandler High School in the standings. “Another coach was like, ‘The Chandler coach has already conceded it to you,’” Mark said. “I was like, ‘How can you say that? What if you get a 40-point relay DQ?’” Well, nothing of the sort happened. The girls won the 200 medley relay to open the meet, and then in the second individual event, Xavier senior Katie McCoy won the 200 IM while Mia finished third. After Mia’s stellar swim in the 500 free, Xavier picked up another win in the 200 free relay. Mark started doing the math. “We had two breaststrokers—they had one. We had two backstrokers—they had one,” Mark said. “And I knew we were going to get first or second in the relay.” McCoy then won her second event of the day in the 100 back, and fellow senior Mary Roediger, who had earlier finished third in the 50 free, added a runner-up finish in the 100 breast. Xavier could not complete the relay sweep, coming up nine hundredths behind Chandler in the 400 free relay, but it didn’t matter. Xavier scored 321 points, 58 more than runner-up Chandler High School. They were State champions. Mark knew what was coming, but the announcement of the Xavier girls as state champions was still surreal. “Lots of emotions coming over because it wasn’t for me—it was, you know, kind of for her,” Mark said, referring to Mo. He choked up but kept talking as he cried. “It hit home pretty good. My parents were there, and my sister had come down to see Mia race. It wasn’t about me at all. I was so ecstatic that I got to be a part of it, but it was her team. I was just ecstatic that I got to finish it off for her.” Mark found the girls who had swum on the final relay, including Mia. The letdown of being out-touched quickly melted away. “Pretty amazing feeling,” Mark said. “Just the smiles told it 66


>>> THE TRIBUTE BOARD AT PHOENIX SWIM CLUB all. And the tears—lots of tears. Happy tears, but, you know. Yeah. Pretty amazing moment.” During the meet, the coaches had received flyers to vote for the top male and female performers of the meet and for coach of the year. Mark wanted to vote for James—Mo’s assistant— but she balked. “She’s like, ‘Mo said last year we can never vote for ourselves.’ I said, ‘I don’t know anyone else, and there’s no one else I would want to vote for,’” Mark recalled. Mark forgot about the voting for the rest of the meet, and he’s still not sure if James even turned in Xavier’s ballot. But after team scores were announced, he was called up to accept coach of the year. “They called him up, and that’s when I started crying, and then everyone started crying,” Mia said. “We were all just crying.” Mark accepted the award with a heavy heart. “I felt like it was for her. It wasn’t for me,” Mark said. “I just was glad I got to help and keep the girls together and in a good place. It was great. Totally unexpected. I didn’t really feel like it was mine. It was the team’s. It was Mo’s. “It ended up at the right house,” he added, cracking a smile. Mark is interested in coming back to Xavier as the coach for the full season next year, and he’s already started looking ahead to how the team will shape up after seniors graduate and new freshman come in. Xavier will get a challenge from Chaparral, a Division II powerhouse moving up to Division I. “They’re going to be worried,” Mark said. “I’ve already started looking at what we have and what they have. We might not win, but it’s going to be a battle.” But whatever Mark decides about his coaching future, he will always cherish the time that, under the most tragic of circumstances, he took over his wife’s team and finished her job of leading a group of girls to a state championship. ◀





ive-time Olympic champion Katie Ledecky (Bethesda, Md./Stanford Swimming) was honored by the United States Olympic Committee as the winner of the Female Olympic Athlete of the Year at the 2017 Team USA Awards, Best of the Year. Ledecky’s honor was one of eight awards recognizing the outstanding achievements of Team USA athletes, teams and coaches presented during a live recording of the Team USA Awards, Best of the Year, ceremony held at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles. The awards show – which featured singer, actor Mark McGrath as host – will be televised from 5-6 p.m. ET Dec. 23 on NBC. “I am very honored and grateful to receive this recognition from the U.S. Olympic Committee and also wish to thank USA Swimming and all of the fans who supported Team USA throughout the year,” Ledecky said. “Thanks also to my coaches and teammates — all of whom make it such a privilege to compete for Team USA and Stanford.” At last summer’s FINA World Championships, Ledecky continued her unprecedented run of international success in Budapest by winning six medals – five gold – and claiming her third straight world titles in the 400-, 800- and 1500-meter freestyle. Her 3:58.34 effort in the 400m free was a meet record and ranks as the second-fastest time in history. Ledecky added gold in the 400m and 800m free relays, as well as a second straight FINA World Championships medal (silver) in the 200m free. She owns a women’s record 14

career gold medals in FINA World Championships action, including 10 individual world titles – more than any other woman. Ledecky earns the USOC’s top annual female honor for the third time overall and second consecutive year. She also was recognized with the 2012-13 and 2016 award and becomes Team USA’s first three-time Female Olympic Athlete of the Year honoree. Ledecky joins Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Lindsey Vonn as the only women to earn the award in consecutive years. The six athlete and team award winners were determined by online fan voting at, where more than 260,800 fan votes determined 50 percent of the final tally. Members of the Olympic and Paralympic family – including an esteemed panel of Olympic and Paralympic journalists – accounted for the other 50 percent. For coaching awards, National Governing Bodies selected their nominees as part of the USOC’s annual Coach of the Year Recognition Program, and the winners were determined by a USOC selection panel of coaching and sport performance professionals. Earlier this month, Ledecky earned her fifth consecutive Female Athlete of the Year honor at the USA Swimming Golden Goggle Awards. Also in 2017, she was named the Women’s Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year and claimed the Honda Cup as the nation’s top women’s college athlete. ◀ SWIMMING WORLD BIWEEKLY


Swimming World Biweekly - December 21, 2017  

European Championships 2017; Best Stories of 2017

Swimming World Biweekly - December 21, 2017  

European Championships 2017; Best Stories of 2017