Tim Phillips finished second in the men’s 100 fly Thursday night at the U.S. National Championships in Indianapolis, qualifying for the World Champs team bound for Budapest.
Phillips swam at the 2015 Worlds after Michael Phelps was booted from that team, but this is the first time he had ever qualified for a World Champs on his own merits. Phillips described his emotions when he saw that he had finished second and discussed how the swim affects his outlook on the sport and his future competing.
The Expo at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio, each year is, in a single word, madness. It’s a seething mass of pushing bodies, glaring posters, and high-volume noise that can feel overwhelming even to people who’ve been to dozens of similar events. But some parts are crazier than others.
While the majority of the booths are handing out samples, pushing products, and focusing on the dollars and cents, Animal envisioned a different approach when we first visited the Arnold over a decade ago: Bring the barbells, dumbbells, squat racks, a bench press, and a deadlift platform to the expo floor. Throw up a 20-foot chain-link cage around it, and let the best powerlifters and bodybuilders in the world put on a show for fans while they stand just a few feet away.
Over the years, “The Cage” has come to be known as the “Super Bowl of Powerlifting” in many lifters’ eyes. No, it’s not an official competition, and no, what happens aren’t official “recorded” lifts. But that doesn’t mean they don’t count. Being invited to lift for the crowd here is a major honor for any lifter.
Just ask Pete Rubish. This up-and-coming powerlifter has already pulled 920 pounds at a bodyweight of just 245, and totaled 2028 pounds in competition. He’s even pulled 800 pounds an astonishing 18 times in a single workout for an Animal video earlier this year. He knows the pressure of a big stage and a heavy weight, but he also relishes grinding through high-rep sets with weights that would buckle other strong lifters.
In short, he was perfect for The Cage. Here’s how he prepared.
Have a Plan, But Don’t Be Afraid to Change It
“Originally, I planned on doing 660 for 15 reps,” Rubish says, “But I wanted to increase the challenge. Because we decide what we’re doing in these things like 2 months out, and then obviously as The Cage gets closer, plans change. So I decided I wanted to do 735 for 10.”
On Pete’s Instagram leading up to the event, you can see him pulling 695 pounds for 10 reps, then 710 for 10—both beltless. The latter, he says, was a “massive PR,” but he knew it was only the appetizer for the main course in Columbus.
Let the Greats Inspire You
When Pete arrived in Ohio on Friday, an immense surprise was in store. Russian Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting champion Mikhail Koklyaev, one of the greats in the sport, wanted to deadlift with Pete while he was in town.
“I just thought what better time to do it than on Saturday when I’m lifting,” Pete says.
This wasn’t going to be a competition, per se—Koklyaev was coming off a triceps tear, after all—but a chance to push one another to a great performance.
“It’s not often you get to be around a legend like that, and it made me step my game up,” Pete said.
Let Your Training Guide You
With the crowd screaming, the MC booming, and Koklyaev having already pulled a single at 755 pounds, the stage was set for Pete’s battle against 735. At another time in his life he would have prepared by making himself see red, but in this case, the only red was his Animal T-shirt.
“That’s a lot different than in the past, when I would try to get as angry as I could, and get all amped up,” he recalls. “Now, it’s like I try to calm myself. I try to focus. Deep breaths. Close my eyes and just get into a state where there’s nothing around me. I block it all out. It’s just me and that bar in front of me. I know what the goal is, and I set up to do that. And no matter what gets thrown at me, I’m still in that same state.”
In short, he tried to mimic his training in his home gym. Earbuds went in, the crowd went away, and it was just man and iron.
Leave No Doubt If You Could Have Done More
For six reps, the bar went up as smooth as silk. Number seven was a grind, but Pete can grind with the best of them, and he locked it out—even though he was brought to his knees at the end of the rep. But he kept his hands on the bar. This was a crucial moment. Would he stop?
“For the eighth rep, I basically know that this is all I’ve got,” he recalls. “This is going to be it. It’s going to be a matter of if I can get this up or not. And I’m thinking about how tired I am, and how heavy this feels, but I know I have to try it. I want to go to absolute failure. I don’t want to leave anything back. No second guessing as far as if I could have done more reps.”
He pulled. The bar went up…then came down. He was done. But as Koklyaev walked toward Pete and raised his hands in the air, it was clear that this man had left it all out there.
Take Your PR and Come Back Another Day
The goal was 735 pounds for 10 reps; the result was 735 pounds for 7 reps. But a PR is a PR, and Pete wasn’t going to dismiss it.
“I’m not too upset, but I would have liked to do better. That was a pretty cool moment when Mikhail lifted my arm up,” he recalls. “It was a really good day. Just not quite what I would have hoped I could hit. It’s still the most I’ve ever done beltless.”
That’s the beauty and cruelty of The Cage. You get one opportunity to display what you can do, and that moment defines you in the eyes of everyone present—maybe even some of your heroes. Would you play it safe or would you push it until you had absolutely nothing left in the tank? For this powerful strength icon, there was no doubt.
“Live in the moment. Enjoy it,” Pete says. “Try to take it all in and do the best you can when you have the opportunity, because it might not always be there.”
Each month the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) announce the “Best of” Individual and Team athletes for the month. This month the U.S. Synchronized Swimming team has been crowned as one of the Teams of the Month for June.
According to the press release, the U.S. synchro national team was elected to Team of the Month after “having only trained together for two months, won Team USA’s first-ever world series team gold medal at the Synchro American Open with wins over Canada and Argentina.”
The United States Olympic Committee today announced the finalists for the Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of June, which recognize the outstanding achievements of Team USA athletes from last month. Fans are invited to vote for their favorite athletes and teams at TeamUSA.org/Awards through midnightWednesday, July 5.
A total of nine sports – beach volleyball, boxing, equestrian, Para track and field, soccer, synchronized swimming, taekwondo, track and field, and weightlifting – are represented among the 13 finalists across men’s, women’s and team categories.
Each of the finalists automatically qualify for consideration for the 2017 Team USA Awards presented by Dow Best of the Year. Their collective accomplishments tell the inspiring story of U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes year-round. A complete list of monthly finalists from the 2016-17 qualification period can be found at TeamUSA.org. The 2017 Best of the Year Awards will be held Nov. 29 in Los Angeles.
In addition to Dow, the presenting sponsor, the Team USA Awards are supported by DICK’S Sporting Goods and USG.
Male Athlete of the Month Ryan Crouser (Boring, Oregon), Track and Field Defeated the reigning world champion and Olympic silver medalist to win the men’s shot put at the USATF Outdoor Championships, with a throw of 22.65 meters – the best mark in the world since 2003.
CJ Cummings (Beaufort, South Carolina), Weightlifting Won his fourth-consecutive world title and defended his IWF junior world crown in the 69 kg. division, extending a winning streak that dates back to June 2016 at the youth world level.
Kent Farrington (Wellington, Florida), Equestrian Riding atop six different mounts, collected three CSI5* wins and three additional CSI5* top-three finishes at the Spruce Meadows and the Longines Global Champion tour stop.
Isaac Jean-Paul (Grayslake, Illinois), Para Track and Field Smashed a 14-year-old world record in his national championship debut in the men’s T13 high jump, leaping 2.10 meters to win the national title.
Christian Pulisic (Hershey, Pennsylvania), Soccer Scored two second-half goals in the span of 10 minutes to lead Team USA to a 2-0 World Cup Qualifying victory over Trinidad and Tobago, while also aiding the U.S. to a 1-1 draw over Mexico.
Female Athlete of the Month Breanna Clark (Los Angeles, California), Para Track and Field Claimed the national title and cut more than a second off the women’s T20 400-meter world record in 56.71 seconds to qualify for her first world championship team.
Ginny Fuchs (Kemah, Texas), Boxing Won her first continental championships title and won all four bouts by unanimous decision, including a win over the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist en route to the gold-medal bout.
Jackie Galloway (Wylie, Texas), Taekwondo Claimed the women’s +73 kg. silver medal at the World Taekwondo Championships, defeating the reigning Olympic gold medalist from China, 4-3, in the semifinals.
Laura Graves (Geneva, Florida), Equestrian Won two CDIO5* classes atop Verdades to help the U.S. clinch the team gold medal at the FEI Nations Cup Dressage series event at the CHIO Rotterdam.
Dalilah Muhammad (Bayside, New York), Track and Field Won the women’s 400-meter hurdles in 52.64 seconds, topping a stacked field that featured six women who finished under 54 seconds at the USATF Outdoor Championships.
Team of the Month Brooke Sweat (Estero, Florida) and Summer Ross (Carlsbad, California), Beach Volleyball Won gold at the AVP Seattle Open, posted two runner-up finishes at the AVP New York City Open and FIVB World Tour in Moscow, and placed fifth at the FIVB World Tour stop in The Hague, Netherlands.
U.S. Show Jumping Team, Equestrian Defeated Canada to win the gold medal at the FEI Nations Cup Jumping series event, qualifying for the FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final.
U.S. Women’s Senior National Team, Synchronized Swimming Having only trained together for two months, won Team USA’s first-ever world series team gold medal at the Synchro American Open with wins over Canada and Argentina.
SELECTION PROCESS Each National Governing Body may nominate one female, one male and one team per sport discipline. An internal nominating committee selects finalists to advance to the voting round. Votes received from NGB representatives and select members of the media account for 50 percent of the final tally, with the other half determined by online fan voting via TeamUSA.org/Awards.
NEW COMMIT: According to an update on CollegeSwimming.com Gainesville, Florida’s Alena Kraus has given her verbal commitment to the University of Louisville.
Kraus was a 2016 US Olympic Trials qualifier in the 200 fly. She’s also a strong freestyler. Her best SCY times are:
50 Fly 25.43
100 Fly 54.37
200 Fly 1:59.37
100 Free 50.08
200 Free 1:47.09
500 Free 4:50.00
At the end of the 2016 Florida High School swimming season Kraus was named to the Gainesville Sun’s All-Area First Team. That honor came on the heels of a junior high school season in which Kraus captured her third consecutive 3A state title in the 200 freestyle. She also won the 100 freestyle. The Gainesville High School team finished runner up by a mere half point.
At the 2017 ACC Championships, Kraus’ best 200 butterfly time would have put her in the C final. Freshman Grace Oglesby (1:55.24) was an A finalist who Kraus will overlap with for two years. Sophie Cattermole (1:58.98) swam in the C final and will still have a year left in Louisville when Kraus arrives in the fall of 2018.
Kraus would also have been a 200 freestyle B finalist this year. ACC and NCAA Champion Mallory Comerford will be a senior in Kraus’ first year. Two C finalist- Casey Franz and Emily Moser will also still be on the roster by Kraus’ arrival, giving her a number of potential training partners.
“I had two phases in my training and [at the Nationals] I’d just completed phase one and started phase two, and normally to get the full confidence I needed to have finished that phase,” Cummings said at a pre-Tour press conference.
“I didn’t really have time so I knew I was coming into form but I also knew that I was missing that last little few per cent you need in a race.”
However given his long recovery from injury, Cummings is still eager to reduce the pressure in himself, saying that he would not be disappointed if he came away from the Tour without a stage win, so long as he gave his best.
“I’d love to win a stage,” he continued, “but you have to put in context where I’ve come from. My expectations are simple just to do my best, that’s it.
“Three weeks is a long time so if you do the right things and really concentrate through the race I hope I can build my condition better than what I started with and be on the same level I have been for the last few years.”
Budapest’s spectacular new Duna Aréna. Photo Courtesy: Budapest 2017
By Michael Randazzo, Swimming World Contributor
As his country prepares for the 2017 FINA World Championships—to be held from July 14 – 30 in Budapest—Swimming World spoke with Balazs Nemcsik, Managing Director of the Hungarian Water Polo Federation. FINA Worlds was to be yet another opportunity for Hungary to demonstrate its capacity to stage large-scale athletic events in advance of the International Olympic Committee’s September decision to award both the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games. Last February it pulled out of the running for the 2024 Games after an estimated 250,000 Hungarians signed a petition demanding that Budapest drop its bid.
Since 2012 Nemcsik has led of the Federation governing body for water polo in the Hungary. In that time he has overseen the staging of the 2014 European Water Polo Championships in Budapest, as well the 2016 and 2017 LEN Champions League Final Six water polo tournament. Prior to his work with Hungarian water polo, the 37 year-old Nemcsik was involved with European handball, first as communications manager for the European Handball Federation (2007-2010) and then as Secretary General of the Hungarian Handball Federation (2011-12).
Responding to an email inquiry, Nemcsik spoke about how his country came to host FINA Worlds, the effort to build the Dagály Swimming Complex, a much-admired new aquatics facility in the heart of Budapest which last May hosted 25,000 spectators for the 2017 Final Six tournament—won by Szolnok—and Hungarians’ commitment to water polo, which he described as “part of our cultural heritage.”
How did the 2017 FINA World Championships come to be held in Budapest?
Hungary has organized a number of top international sport events in the past years in sports highly popular domestically (water polo, handball, fencing, wrestling, judo, basketball, to name a few). Also, Budapest was bidding for the 2024 Olympic Games, which shows the dedication of Hungarian policy makers in this field. However, staging the FINA world championships is a major challenge: this competition is among the greatest and most demanding international events globally.
Hungary was successfully bidding for the 2021 FINA World Championships and when Mexico withdrew from organizing the 2017 event, a quick consensus was reached that Hungary was ready to step in and give a helping hand to the international aquatic sports at times of trouble.
2017 Final Six winners Szolnok of Hungary. Photo Courtesy: David Madar
How important is it for Hungary—arguably the world’s greatest water polo-playing nation—to host this tournament? Was it a coincidence that your country hosted both the Final 6 and the FINA Worlds in the same year?
Water polo events are highly popular in Hungary, this is a national pastime, part of our cultural heritage with household names and stories that every kid learns as they grow up. Actually organizing the Final Six events for two years (2016 and 2017) were made possible by state funding. The Hungarian Water Polo Federation was granted substantial amounts to host this for two reasons: first of all to promote the game within Hungary; second to test the new Duna Aréna that was scheduled to be opened by the end of 2016. It made sense to try the brand new infrastructure in front of big crowds before opening it for the swimming competitions of the FINA World Championships.
Besides great play for all participating nations—and the success of a young Hungarian team—what do you expect from FINA Worlds?
We had two clear objectives: we wanted to take good care of the six teams and make sure that all conditions would be there for them to perform at the highest possible level; also, we wanted to attract big crowds to show them water polo at its best. We managed to get 25,000 fans for the three days altogether with an absolute Hungarian record of 11,000 spectators for the final game. As the mobile stands of Duna Aréna will be removed after the world championships (with some 5,000 seats remaining in this wonderful arena), we will have to wait to see more people at a water polo game. We can say that this Champions League Final Six with a Hungarian team taking the trophy will have a page on its own in the history books of our sport.
Please confirm where the water polo championships will be held—is it in the Dagály Swimming Complex?
Water polo – according to the plans of the Organizing Committee – will be played in the Hajós Aquatic Complex, Margaret Island. This is where we had so many beautiful events in the past, we may call it a sanctuary of water polo sport globally with its unique atmosphere and history. Bringing the finals to Duna Aréna does not seem possible for calendar reasons.
Was the recent men’s Water Polo Final Six Champions’ League matches the very first international event at the Dagály Swimming Complex?
Yes and it was an honor for us to hold the premiere event; however, the atmosphere during the games and the quality of the teams proved that it was the best possible decision.
Editorial content for the 2017 USA Swimming Nationals is sponsored by TritonWear. Visit TritonWear.com for more information on our sponsor. For full Swimming World coverage, check event coverage page.
Olympic silver medalist Kathleen Baker swam a 59.49 in the 100 back prelims to grab the top seed into Friday’s finals at the 2017 Phillips 66 USA Swimming Nationals. Baker won the 200 back with the world’s leading time on Wednesday night and set herself up for a good 100 back on Friday.
Baker leads a crowded field that features a number of girls hungry to get on the Worlds team. Minnesota 15-year-old and 200 back runner-up Regan Smith is second going into finals at 59.70. Olympian Olivia Smoliga (59.93), Michigan’s Ali DeLoof (59.97) and Hannah Stevens (1:00.06) are all within striking distance of the team. Stevens won the 50 back last night for her first Worlds team. DeLoof and Smoliga are searching for their first long course Worlds team.
Caroline Baldwin (1:00.34), Claire Adams (1:00.42) and Bridgette Alexander (1:00.50) will also compete in tonight’s A-final.
Mona McSharry of Ireland continued to turn heads at the 2017 European Junior Championships, setting her second National Record of the week in the 200 breast.
While the 16-year-old finished second overall in the women’s 200 breast with a time of 2:27.44, her time eclipsed the previous Irish National Record of 2:28.75 by more than a second. The previous record was posted at the 2016 European Championships by Fiona Doyle in the semi-finals of the 200 breast.
“We’re not wasting time discussing it [Cardoso’s positive test]” the team manager said less than 24 hours before the race’s opening time trial in Düsseldorf. “We’ll be focussing on the race and trying to get the best result.
“When a case like this happens I need to give clear lines on what the approach should be, but as it is now in cycling everyone has the same opinion about doping.”
Star rider Alberto Contador, who the team will be supporting in a bid for a third Tour de France title, said that he was surprised and disappointed that Cardoso, who would have been a key domestiques in the mountains, had tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition test on June 18.
“It was a big surprise,” the 34-year-old said. “I never imagined that something like that would happen in this team.
“The whole team is very clear about this sort of thing. We have a policy of zero tolerance about doping but we have to wait until the end of the process. You can’t control everything within a team.”
From a sporting perspective, Guercilena said that the doping incident would not have an impact on the way that the team approached the race, and the roles of the different riders.
“We had 12 riders ready, as other teams have too, so to substitute a rider is not problematic because we have other riders ready.
“In our case we’re lucky that we’ve got a great replacement in Haimar Zubeldia, who’s one of the most experienced guys in the peloton. It is clear that the case hurts us a lot but as I said we know what we’re doing and we know what our line is so we will turn the page.”
Editorial content for the 2017 USA Swimming Nationals is sponsored by TritonWear. Visit TritonWear.com for more information on our sponsor. For full Swimming World coverage, check event coverage page.
Just like Lilly King in the women’s event, Kevin Cordes set himself up for a hat trick in the 100 breast prelims. Cordes has already won the 50 and 200 at this meet and has a chance to win his third event of the meet in the 100 with a 59.16 this morning in prelims. Cordes looked long and strong in the heats and is the top seed going into finals. Cordes leads Georgia’s Nic Fink at 59.80 as they were the only two in prelims under a minute. Fink is already on the team after his second place finish in the 200 on Wednesday. Both of those guys are off to their third World Championships.
The rest of the field is no slouch as Cody Miller (1:00.02), Andrew Wilson (1:00.15), Will Licon (1:00.34), Josh Prenot (1:00.55), Jacob Montague (1:00.71) and Michael Andrew (1:00.75) will compete in the A-final. This is one of the last chances for guys like Miller, Licon, Wilson and Prenot to get on the Worlds team. Licon and Prenot are both entered in the 200 IM, but this is the last chance for Miller and Wilson. Miller is trying to make a return trip to Worlds as the other guys are trying to make their first team.