SWIMNEWS ONLINE: April 1998 Magazine Articles

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Backwash features short clips, gossip, letters and opinions. Contributions are welcome.Now for the rumours behind the news.


What next?

At the opening of a new pool in Rio de Janeiro, American Gary Hall Jr. and Brazil's Fernando "Xuxa" Scherer "made history" swimming a 25-metre freestyle sprint. Hall touched first in 10.21, with Scherer second in 10.30. The 25-metre Challenge, was the first "official" staging of the event and the idea of Djan Madruga, a brazilian Olympic bronze medallist in 1980. Madruga is into organizing swimming events with exotic formats and said he believes the 25 will be recognized as an official distance in the near future. He's probably right. And when it is, Rio will already be in the books.

Only 12 Kiwis to Commonwealth Games

New Zealand selected 12 swimmers to compete in Kuala Lumpur next September. This is a small team and candidates had to be potential finalists. The swimming team has been reduced to allow team sports like netball, rugby, and cricket to take part.

Men's team: Trent Bray, Danyon Loader, Steven Ferguson, Paul Kent, Jon Winter, Scott Cameron, Nick Tongue, John Steel, and John Davis. Women's team: Toni Jeffs, Helen Norfolk, and Nikki Tanner.

Suspension for British swimmer

Michael Fibbens has been suspended from competition after testing positive for a banned stimulant. Fibbens, British short-course 100 metres record holder, tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a cocaine-like substance, at a World Cup meet in Sheffield last month.

Fibbens, 29, one of the most experienced members of the British swimming squad faces a two-year ban and the annulment of his last six months' results if he is confirmed to have taken a banned substance.

No final decision will be made until a second sample taken at the same time is tested.

Where are they now?

Former world and current U.S. 200 breaststroke record holder Anita Nall is planning to try swimming again this summer. She's currently a sophomore at Arizona State University but is ineligible to swim in college competition because she accepted endorsement money in the past. She would train at North Baltimore under her old coach, Murray Stephens. Nall, at the U.S. nationals as a Nike swimwear representative, says she has no regrets about turning professional and not being able to swim in college.

Is it tennis?

With semifinals (instead of consolation or B finals) returning to the Olympics and World Championships, USA Swimming will also go to that format, too, to prepare its swimmers for international competition. Will this entice more college swimmers to come to the spring nationals in order to become used to the new format?

The Hall of Shame

USA Swimming makes the Gary Hall of shame. Hall points out swimming is behind other sports in corporate support and should capitalize on its participation in the Goodwill Games, backed by gigantic media corporation Time-Warner. Yet Hall says swimming's governing body is not giving the competition the support it should. The timing of U.S. summer nationals nine days after the Goodwill meet has cut down on the number of top Americans attending the New York competition. While USA Swimming is encouraging swimmers to taper for the Goodwill, it is not requiring them to do so.

Something completely different

The Goodwill Games features a unique format for the swimming competition. There will be national teams from the United States, China, and Germany and one world all-star team competing in a round-robin, dual meet format for a total of three dual meets per team. A team accumulates points based on how its competitors place. The final team standings are determined by the dual meet results. Individual event medals will be awarded based upon the overall fastest times during the three round-robin dual meets in each event. The meet will be held at the new Nassau County Goodwill Games Swimming and Diving Center East Meadow, New York on Long Island. Tickets are priced at $38 and $24.

The announced Goodwill team from the U.S. indicates they were having trouble getting anyone to swim the women's 800 free as the 12th and 15th place finishers from spring nationals were named. likewise for the women's 400 free where the 10th and 13th place finishers got named. Two prominent medal winners from Perth will be missing from the men's team Tom Dolan and Tom Malchow (bronze in the 200 fly). Missing from the women's team - Brooke Bennett (800 gold, 400 free silver) and Diana Munz (800 silver) and breaststroker Kristy Kowal and Jenna Street

Trying to keep them home

In order to counter what they consider to be an onslaught from Western Canada, a number of coaches from swim clubs in the greater Toronto area are planning to pool their resources for National competitions.

Coach Byron MacDonald of the University of Toronto says the merger idea is the result of discontent among coaches who are watching the western National centres-namely Calgary and Vancouver-soak up all the talent in Canadian swimming, not to mention the money, and the credit for athletes' performances.

Four years into SNC's centralized program, it is the first overt indication that all is not well within the ranks. But the Toronto group has already suffered a setback: the "Toronto Allstars" were to include national-level athletes from six Toronto clubs until Etobicoke backed out. "Obviously they were the linchpin," said MacDonald. "But we may be able to make it work without them."

As it stands the combined team would include the University of Toronto, North York, Scarborough, COBRA, and the Toronto Aquanauts. Because only national qualifiers are affected, the clubs will retain their own training sites and team focus throughout most of the season, with athletes changing allegiance only twice a year. Provincial championships are therefore not compromised, and most importantly for the coaches, nobody loses their athletes. Their first appearance is planned for the Summer Nationals in August.

MacDonald says that the move is long overdue in Toronto; a proliferation of clubs in the last ten years (43 currently for the region) has resulted in a watering down of the talent pool. Gone are the days when clubs had national squads of 10-20 swimmers. Now most clubs have three or four qualifiers, and have lost the momentum that comes with a large, successful group.

Unusual talks

Unusual talks will highlight the American Swimming Coaches Association 30th Annual World Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia, Sept. 1-5. A major morning presentation by Dr. Werner W. Franke will concern "Governmental and Scientific Doping and Androgenization with Steroid Drugs: The German Example and Its Know-How Legacy." Dr. Franke, along with his wife, former East German thrower Brigitte Berendonk, are the world's leading authorities on the doping program in the former East Germany, and have been heavily involved in the current trials of coaches and doctors in Berlin.

A second major presentation will be given by the Editor of Running Research News, Dr. Owen Anderson, on the Training of the African Runners. Anderson has spent decades following and studying the training regimens of these dominant middle distance and distance athletes, and will offer insight into their development and training.

Dr. Ernie Maglischo will open the clinic with a radical discourse on his latest ideas in biomechanics of swimming, and familiar names Peter Daland and Forbes Carlile will provide a "point-counterpoint" discussion of the Ten Most Significant Developments in the History of Swimming. Both should be fascinating.

These are among the more than 40 presentation available at the ASCA World Clinic. For Registration Packets, contact ASCA by phone (954) 563-4930 and asking for a packet. Or write to ASCA at 2101 N. Andrews Ave., Suite 107, Fort Lauderdale, FL. 33311.


What a great job of "Worlds" coverage on your website (www.swimnews.com). Fantastic! As I read each page, looked at the associated pictures and captions it almost felt like I was there experiencing the excitement of the races and even the disappointment over the controversy leading up to the meet caused by the Chinese drug scandal. The writing and the photography were superior. Congratulations to SWIMNEWS on your wonderful contribution to our great sport.

Don Van Dyken
Engelwood, CO, USA


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