Over 1,000 Synchronized Swimmers Set To Compete For US Junior Olympics

Photo Courtesy: USA Synchro

Nearly 1,000 synchronized swimmers representing the nation’s top 75 clubs are set to take part in the U.S. Junior Olympic Championships June 23-30 in Oxford, Ohio.

The Corwin M. Nixon Aquatic Center on the campus of Miami University will play host to the championships, the largest synchro event in North America. The Cincinnati Synchrogators is the host club.

Swimmers will vie for medals in the following categories:

  • Free solos, duets and teams in two age divisions: 12 & under and 13-15.
  • Junior technical and free routines in solos, duets and teams in two age divisions: 16-17 and 18-19.
  • Free combination in two age divisions: 13-15 and 16-19.
Tickets and Junior Olympic merchandise can be purchased at https://squareup.com/store/ CSGGators. All multi-day passes may be purchased in advance through the event website or onsite at the Recreational Sports Center.
  • Daily admission: $10 adult; $5 senior/child (2-12 years)
  • Age Group Event Pass: $30
  • Adult All Event Pass: $50 adult; $15 senior/child
  • Free admission for children under 2.

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Break Up the USA! Men’s Water Polo beats World Champion Croatia in FINA World League Play

Alex Bowen leads the U.S. with 7 goals in three FINA World League Super Final matches. Photo Courtesy: Beeldboot/USA Water Polo

By Michael Randazzo, Swimming World Contributor

What a difference a year—or a decade—makes.

When the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team was last in Budapest for the 2017 FINA World Water Polo Championships, they were soundly beaten by a Croatian squad that went on to claim the title of “World Champions” with a run to the FINA title, including a thrilling 12-11 win over arch-rival Serbia and a convincing 8-6 finals victory over the host Hungarians.

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Fast forward to today, and it was the Americans—with essentially the same line-up that finished a program-worst 13th last year at FINA Worlds—that broke out to a four-goal lead at the half and then hung on for an 11-10 win over the champs in 2018 FINA World League Super Final pool play.

Team USA tagged the Croatians with a loss in major international competition for the first time since the 2008 Olympic Games.

Leading the way, as he has in propelling the U.S. to a spotless (3-0) record in pool play, was Alex Bowen. Selected as “Man of the Match,” Bowen tallied five goals, none so impressive as his natural hat trick to close out the third period, putting his team up 11-8.

That the Yanks were able to hang on is a testament to a team defensive effort by Head Coach Dejan Udovicic’s squad—and the luxury of having McQuin Baron in net. Now in his fourth year as a member of the senior men’s team, the 6-8 Baron was absolutely amazing in nets throughout the match. In fact, those were the exact words used by the announcer on FINA.TV’s streaming service after an incredible head save early in the second period.

United States goalkeeper McQuin Baron blocks a shot by Ecuador during a water polo match at the Pan Am Games in Markham, Ontario, Tuesday, July 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

McQuin Baron is dominant in goal for the U.S. Photo Courtesy: Julio Cortez

Now free of his commitments to USC—he graduated last month—the top U.S. goalie was absolutely dominant in the first half, repeatedly frustrating the Croatians. He saved a 5M penalty shot by Ante Vukievic with seconds left in the first period, preserve a 2-1 lead fashioned on goals by Hannes Daube and Alex Roelse.

The second period saw the American pile on Croatian netminder Marko Biljac, with Bowen, Johnny Hooper, Bowen again, and Luca Cupido scoring. The backbreaker was a goal with one second left, giving the U.S. a 7-3 advantage, when Max Irving fought off an attacker and beat Biljac from in front of his cage.

The final period saw Croatia score two goals to cut the U.S. advantage to one with four minutes to go. This is when the Americans’ defensive prowess came to the forefront, as Baron and his teammates weathered two man-up situations in the last two minutes for the win.

Roster changes for the Americans on this current visit to Budapest were minimal but significant. Jesse Smith, a four-time Olympian and the team’s captain, provides much-needed experience to a young squad seeking an identity. Daube, the youngest player on the squad, has already demonstrated just how valuable he is to Udovicic’s attack, with a goal today and three yesterday, which earned the rising college freshman—at Southern Cal in the fall—Man of the Match honors.

The Croatians, who suffered their second straight loss of the tournament, brought seven members of the squad that last July memorably ended Serbia’s lengthy reign as the world’s best. A key absence for Head Coach Ivica Tucak is captain Sandro Sukno. Arguably the world’s best player, since last fall Sukno has been struggling with health issues that have curtailed his career.

Healthy or not, Sukno’s presence could only have helped his countrymen on the power play. Croatia went an abysmal 2 of 14 with the man advantage. Team USA was a relatively efficient 2 of 7 in man-up situations.

No matter who was in the pool for Croatia today, this band of young Americans was intent on proving that a long-term rebuilding effort by Udovicic and assistants Gavin Arroyo and Alex Rodriguez is starting to bear fruit.

Tomorrow is another day; the U.S.—which won the pool over Spain, Croatia and Kazakhstan— will take on an opponent to be determined on Thursday in quarterfinal play currently scheduled for 1:45 p.m. (EST) / 10:45 a.m. (PST) (subject to change).

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Paris 2024 Progress Coming Along Smoothly and Ahead of Schedule

The chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s Coordination Commission, Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant expressed “a very high level of satisfaction” with preparations made so far in the organizing efforts for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The commission members toured the venues in the city and went over financial details with the Paris 2024 officials. Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet and his colleagues were praised for their progress so far–in particular how quickly everything has come along.

The Paris 2024 organizers already revealed their plans for the aquatic facilities as the swimming events will be held in a temporary venue that will hold 15,000 spectators and water polo will take place in a permanent facility that will host 5,000 spectators during the Games and then will be reduced down to 2,500 at the conclusion of the competition.

“It will be very important for Paris not to hurry because they have time,” Beckers-Vieujant said at the concluding press conference in Paris.

“Because they are absolutely where they should be at this stage, nine months into the beginning of the journey.

“And we are extremely happy with the progress, the concrete progress, that has been achieved so far.

“The team is being put in place with high quality managers.

“The cost management is there and the masterplan is going in the right direction.

“We are happy with that, but we are also very happy with the fact that Paris is not trying to hurry where they don’t have to hurry.”

In comparison, Beckers-Vieujant cited that the plans for the venues and the program for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were not concluded until late last year.

“In a nutshell we end up our works here in Paris very happy and with a very high degree of confidence going forward.

“The few key objectives for the months to come – clearly is to finalize this vision, to finalize the masterplan, to stabilize the sports program, and on the back of this, to launch the commercial program and start approaching possible commercial partners,” Beckers-Vieujant said to conclude his press conference.

To read more from the press conference held in Paris, read the full article from Inside the Games here.

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UNLV Swimming and Diving Adds Steve Wood As New Assistant Coach

Photo Courtesy: UNLV Swimming and Diving

LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) – Steve Wood has been hired as an assistant coach for the UNLV men’s and women’s swimming & diving program, head coach Ben Loorz announced Wednesday. Wood will assist with all aspects of the program including recruiting and coaching.

“We are excited to have Steve join our team,” said Loorz. “We completed extensive interviews for this hire, and Steve rose to the top throughout the entire process based on his professionalism, thoughtfulness, and overall experience.”

Wood has spent the last two seasons as a volunteer assistant coach at Florida State, helping with all the Seminole groups. Previous to Florida State he spent one season at DePauw University. Wood also served three years as the head coach of the Francis Howell High School (O’Fallon, Missouri) boys and girls squads while also working as an assistant coach for the Rec-Plex Sharks club team (St. Peters, Missouri).

“Steve was a valuable part of the Florida State staff,” said Loorz. “I know his experience in the ACC will help our program in our quest to compete with the very best. He and his fiancée Meredith (Martelle), who was the director of operations at Florida State, both have deep roots in our sport and we can’t wait to welcome them to Las Vegas.”

Wood is a graduate of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 2012 in sports administration with a minor in coaching. A four-year member of the swim team at SIUC, he was team captain and second team all-conference in his final two seasons.

The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with UNLV Swimming and Diving. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact Advertising@SwimmingWorld.com.

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Katie Ledecky Nominated for “Best College Athlete” for 2018 ESPY Awards

For the second year in a row, Olympian and NCAA Champion Katie Ledecky has been nominated for an ESPY award. This year she is nominated under the category of “Best College Athlete.” 2018 marks the 26th year that the ESPYS will run and will feature retiring race car driver, Danica Patrick, as the host. This will be the first year that a woman has hosted the ESPYS.

Ledecky’s entry on the ballot highlights her contributions to the Stanford Cardinal as a member of the NCAA Championship team for both 2017 and 2018, as well as her individual victories in the 500-yard and 1650-yard freestyles.

Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield (football), Villanova’s Jalen Brunson (basketball) and South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson (basketball) are also featured in the category for “Best College Athlete.”

The show is slated to be aired live on ABC on July 18th at 8 p.m.

Fans can vote for the 2018 ESPY awards at ESPYs.com and can view the full list of nominees by clicking here.

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Bruno Fratus Passes Cielo To Register Most Sub-22 Swims In History

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Brazilian Bruno Fratus registered his 59th and 60th sub-22 second long course 50-meter freestyles last week at the Mare Nostrum Tour, passing country-mate and Olympic gold medalist Cesar Cielo as the most frequent 21-second sprinter in history.

Fratus made his historic swims during the semifinal and final of the 50 free in Monaco, posting a 21.92 in semis before dropping to a 21.64 over American Michael Andrew in the finale. He celebrated the occasion in a post on his Instagram page, which you can see below:

At 28-years old the Brazilian Olympian looks only to be getting stronger heading toward this summer and the 2020 Olympics. He is coming off of arguably his best year of international competition, where he won a silver medal in the 50 free at the 2017 World Championships and recorded a personal best of 21.27. He’s carried that momentum into a strong 2018 that includes the second fastest 50 freestyle in the world so far from the 2018 Brazil Trophy in April, where he stopped the clock at 21.35

While he will undoubtedly be facing the likes of American sprint star Caeleb Dressel and whoever else qualifies for the United States this summer (Nathan Adrian? Anthony Ervin? Michael Andrew? The list can go on…), it is worth remembering that Fratus is the defending Pan Pacific Championships gold medalist from 2014, which he won in a championship record 21.44.  

That alone should put his name on any swim fan’s radar this summer, and given the year he has had makes him a likely favorite for a medal of any color. Regardless of where he ends up on the podium, it seems clear that he will continue to add to his record number of 21-second 50 freestyles over the coming years, as he is giving no indication of slowing down any time soon.  

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Katie Ledecky Dives Onto July Cover of National Geographic Magazine

Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Katie Ledecky has had a whirlwind of a start to her career as a professional swimmer and it just keeps getting more exciting. Earlier this week, the two-time Olympian announced via social media that she would be gracing the July cover of National Geographic Magazine.

Ledecky’s cover marks the first time in history that an Olympic swimmer has graced the cover of Natoinal Geographic. The magazine hits newstands on June 26th.

Ledecky is one of multiple top-tier athletes featured in an article titled “Building a Better Athlete: How science is testing the limits of human speed, strength, and endurance.” The article also features track and field Olympian Usain Bolt, Paralympian Jarryd Wallace, weightlifter CJ Cummings, and fellow swimmer Michael Andrew.

The article dives into the mechanics of training, interviewing coaches and athletes alike to gain a better sense of how they train amongst the many resources that new-age technology has provided.

Ledecky also shared a photo of herself that will be featured within the article via social media.

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Photo Courtesy: Instagram @kledecky

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Meet Natalie Fahey, Southern Illinois’ First Transgender Swimmer

Photo Courtesy: Natalie Fahey

Commentary by Andy Ross, Swiming World staff writer.

At some point in every single person’s life, they need to face who they really are. This is simple for some, while it is harder for others.  For Southern Illinois senior swimmer Natalie Fahey, it was a decision that would drastically change her life.

Fahey is transgender.

She was born male and has been on hormones since February 12, 2018 – she later changed her name from Nolan to Natalie.

“[Hormones therapy] is such a long process, it’s never really going to end,” she said. “Physically, most of the changes from hormones are done around two years.”

Trans sexuality is still something that is relatively new in college sports. One of the most famous cases in the sport of swimming was Schuyler Bailar, who swims for the Harvard men’s team. But Bailar transitioned from female to male, a less controversial transition than the other way around.

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Photo Courtesy: Lauren Stockton/Andy Ross
Fahey before the start of a sophomore year race.

Fahey is about to start her senior year at Southern where she was a B-finalist at the Mid-American Conference Championships as a male. As for this upcoming season, she will still be competing with the men’s team because that is what she allowed to do in accordance with the NCAA.

But as for taper, Fahey’s goal is to compete alongside her female teammates at the Missouri Valley Conference Championships in 2019. Under the current NCAA rules, this will be possible to achieve.

In 2011, the NCAA updated their policy on transgender participants. The update indicates that Fahey would be allowed to compete as a woman after one calendar year of starting hormones, which means she could close her career out as her true self: as a woman. Last year, the MVC Championships started on Feb. 14 and the MAC Championships took place from Feb. 28-March 3.

natalie-fahey-2

Photo Courtesy: Andy Ross

On the outside looking in, it could seem like a lot to go through for one weekend of racing. But Fahey has the desire to compete as a woman, even if only for a single meet. This is something that she has struggled with, and refuses to wait any longer to deal with.

After doing some research, and discovering Bailar, Fahey ultimately realized that transitioning and then competing could become a reality.

But deciding to undergo hormone therapy whilst still swimming was not an easy decision. She originally wanted to hold off on transitioning until her career was over in March 2019, but then it became a lot more important to her that it was something she needed to do.

“It wasn’t something I could put off until later,” she said about transitioning. “It became more of an issue with my mental health and how comfortable I was with myself.”

Then she was hit with a mild shoulder injury, leaving her virtually chained to a kick board for an entire week.

“I was tempted to quit and I was seriously thinking about it.

Ultimately I decided swimming is essential to who I am as a person as is my gender identity.”

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Photo Courtesy: Andy Ross

Fahey is still rather early in the transition. She only recently came out to her team at Southern Illinois, who welcomed her with open arms. Then she went to Southern Illinois’ student-run TV station to talk about her transitioning, where she used this as a way to come out to the rest of her friends on social media.

There are a still a few more hurdles she needs to climb, like legally changing her name in her native state of Wisconsin, getting a new driver’s license, and eventually, getting cleared by the NCAA.

But with that could come controversy, something Fahey has feared since coming out as transgender.

“It’s an unknown variable, but how are teams and athletes going to react at meets? Because that’s going to be the majority of my life this next season.”

It’s a fear that Fahey has began to overcome, but it does still exist.

“Even though I’m out on social media, I’m not out to the whole world,” she said.

But the world is going to know about Fahey soon. She is one of the first open male to female transgender swimmers to compete in the NCAA and she is hoping she can use her experience to help others going through the same issues.

And although the rest of the world doesn’t know about her yet, she isn’t too worried what they are going to think.

“No matter what new people find out, I have this huge group of people here to support me.”

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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Rice Promotes Jessica Rodriguez To Full-Time Assistant

Photo Courtesy: Rice University Athletics

Rice volunteer swim coach Jessica Rodriguez has been promoted to the full time assistant coach with the program, Owl head swim coach Seth Huston announced.

Rodriguez is certainly no stranger to the Rice swim team after having served the past two years a volunteer coach. A USA certified coach through Rice Aquatics, Rodriguez has been the lead coach for that program’s beginning and intermediate teen groups. The Stafford, Texas, native was a four-year swimming letterwinner at the University of North Texas who served one year as a volunteer assistant coach for the Mean Green.

As the full time assistant under coach Huston (officially beginning on July 1), Rodriguez will work with all areas of the Owls’ swim program and have a primary focus on training sessions, video, team travel and recruiting. After watching her work ethic with the Owls the past few years, Coach Huston stated promoting Rodriguez was an easy decision to make.

“I couldn’t be more pleased than to announce the promotion of Jessica Rodriguez to assistant coach,” coach Huston said. “She has proven herself to be a valuable member of our coaching staff over the last two-plus years and she continues to grow in her new role. The team was so excited when I told them the news. They know Jessica has a passion for swimming, for them as people and for Rice University.”

Rodriguez’ experience as a club, high school, and college swimmer has allowed her to draw on a wide-array of coaching techniques. The former middle-distance freestyle specialist certainly understands the demands of being a student-athlete, having been a three-time Academic all-conference honoree in her competitive years who has recently been pursuing a Masters of Education at Rice.

“That’s Jessica `building the whole person’ as we say at Rice,” coach Huston added. “At our University, athletic department and within our swimming program, we strive to develop an individual to be a committed student, athlete and teammate, as well as a contributor to the whole community. Jessica can and will lead by her values and actions.”

The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with Rice University Athletics. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact Advertising@SwimmingWorld.com.

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Six Stories to Follow at the 2018 Fran Crippen Memorial Swim Meet of Champions (PSYCH SHEET)

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The annual Fran Crippen Memorial Swim Meet of Champions returns to the Marguerite Aquatics Complex from June 21-24 and will be hosted by the Mission Viejo Nadadores. With the start of the meet just two days away, the psych sheet has been released and features a multitude of talented swimmers from the United States and abroad.

Click here to view the full psych sheet. 

Here are six storylines to watch throughout the 2018 edition of the Fran Crippen Memorial Swim Meet of Champions:

Li Bingjie Highlights Chinese National Team Contingent

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Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

Li Bingjie splashed into swimming’s spotlight at last summer’s World Championiships in Budapest, shocking the world as she kept close to Katie Ledecky’s heels in the 800 free and earning herself a silver medal for her efforts. She later added a bronze in the 400 free as well. Since then, Bingjie has continued to post impressive times for a 16-year-old and she enters the 2018 Fran Crippen Memorial Swim Meet of Champions with the potential to earn medals in the 200, 400, 800 and 1500 freestyles.

The 16-year-old holds the top seed in the 1500 and is seeded second in the 200, 400 and 800. For each of the events that she is seeded second, a fellow teammate from the Chinese national team holds the top spot.

Blake Pieroni Adds Sprint Butterfly to Weekend Schedule

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2018 has been an exciting year for former Indiana Hoosier Blake Pieroni. At the NCAA Championships in March, Pieroni became the first man to break 1:30 in the 200-yard freestyle, transitioned into life as a professional swimmer, and swam in his first long-course meet since the World Championships at the Indy stop of the TYR Pro Swim Series.

This weekend, Pieroni has entered a total of five events testing his freestyle prowess and his sprint butterfly skills. He enters as the top seed in both the 100 (48.23) and 200 (1:46.30) freestyles and is seeded ninth in the 50 (22.70). He is entered tenth overall in the 50 fly and fourth overall in the 100 fly. He’ll face some veteran sprinters in the 50 and 100 free as both Vlad Morozov and Anthony Ervin are also entered.

Haley Anderson and Ashley Twichell Trade Open Water for the Pool

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

Haley Anderson and Ashley Twichell are among the Queens of open water swimming for Team USA, with both athletes having already secured spots on Team USA’s Pan Pacs roster later in August. However, both Anderson and Twichell are also avid pool swimmers, entering and claiming victories in various distance events throughout the years.

This weekend, Anderson has picked up a full schedule of pool events, entering the 400, 800 and 1500 free, as well as the 200 fly and 400 IM. She is seeded among the top seven in each of her events with her highest entry being third in the 400 IM (4:49.54). Twichell, meanwhile, will participate in the mid to long-distance freestyle events and is entered in the 200, 400, 800 and 1500 freestyles. Her highest seeds are the 400, 800 and 1500 where she is seeded third for each.

Anthony Ervin Getting Back in the Swing of Sprinting

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Sprint veteran Anthony Ervin has kept a relatively low profile over the last year, seldomly entering meets. The 37-year-old was recently seen at the 2018 Speedo Grand Challenge, where he placed 16th in the 50 free (24.13) and swam in the 100 free in prelims.

This weekend, Ervin will be swimming the same schedule and is entered in the 50 and 100 freestyles only. While he is seeded fourth and eleventh, respectively, in his two events, he will have strong competition from fellow sprinters Vlad Morozov, Yuri Kisil, Michael Chadwick, and more.

Katie Meili Returns from International Competition

katie-meili-usa-2017-world-champs

Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

After spending time abroad and swimming in the 2018 Mare Nostrum Series, Katie Meili has returned to the U.S. and will get some long course racing in California ahead of the upcoming Phillips 66 National Championships. While abroad, Meili faced strong competition from international rivals like Yulia Efimova, Sophie Hansson, and Kanako Watanabe.

Meili will stick to her usual sprint breaststroke events this weekend, entering as the top seed in both the 50 and 100 breaststroke, but is also slated to compete in the 50 free and 200 IM.

Abrahm DeVine Getting Re-Acquainted with Long Course Racing

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

This upcoming weekend will be the second long course meet of the 2018 calendar year for DeVine as he recently swam at the Santa Clara stop of the 2018 TYR Pro Swim Series. While there, DeVine swam the 200 back and 400 IM, finishing ninth and seventh respectively.

This weekend, DeVine is expanding his schedule and is entering the 50 free, 200 free, 100 back, 200 fly and 200 IM. His highest seed of the five is the 200 IM where he enters as the top seed at a 1:56.79.

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