Backwash features short clips, gossip, letters and opinions. Contributions are welcome.


Too Soon In The Water

At the European Championships French distance swimmer Guy-Noel Schmitt, born in 1983, was entered in the 400 free (4:00.64) and 1500 free (15:30.47), but was not allowed to compete as he was too young. LEN has an age limit for participants: boys 1982 and older, and girls 1984 and older.

Schmitt finished second at the French Championships in May in the 1500. He would have been seeded 9th at the championships. He was too young also for the recent European Juniors (Moscow July 14-17) where the age limit was boys born 1981-82. Wait 'til next year.

Russia also had three girls born in 1985, a year too young to take part, and their entries were disallowed. They were Irina Oufimtseva (800 free, 8:55.55), Olga Bakaldina (100 breas,t 1:11.38; 200 breast 2:30.63), and Alexandra Malanina (200 IM, 2:21.69; 400 IM 4:56.99).

The French and Russians forgot to read the fine print in the rules.

Why is this rule even needed? Ian Thorpe (AUS) was 15 when he won the world championships in the 400 free in January of 1998. Enough said.

Injured In An Elevator

British swimmer Melanie Marshall had her hands badly bruised while riding the hotel elevator. "One hand is considerably swollen, but fortunately nothing is broken," David Fooden, the British team doctor, said.

Melanie, aged 17, from the South Lincs club, was treated at the International Hospital, just a short distance from the hotel where the team was staying, and was discharged within an hour. Everyone praised the professionalism of the hotel and team support staff.

"It seems that someone opened the lift door on the ground floor and saw that Melanie's hands were trapped between the lift door and the lift ceiling," said Craig Hunter, the team manager. It was an elevator without doors.

Melanie swam the 50 back on the sixth day of swimming, placing 14th in the semi-finals in 30.62.

Seen On Deck

Peter Daland (USA), retired former USC coach, practising his multiple language skills on his many European friends, will be reporting back to USA Swimming, Don Talbot (AUS,) head coach of the country hosting the next Olympics, was spotted scouting the European opposition.

Media Watch

Veteran journalist Aronne Anghileri from Milan, a leading swimming expert (semi-retired) of Gazzetta dello Sport, a sports daily, has attended every championships since 1958, making him the most senior journalist in Istanbul. There are over 400 accredited members of the media (70 photographers, 250 journalists, and the rest radio and television). In Europe, 31 countries carried the daily live television broadcast from 4:45 to 6:00 pm. The estimated audience was in the millions. It's the most exposure swimming gets anywhere in the world.

Where Will This End?

Thomas Rupprath won the silver in the men's 50 back. "I believe my decision not to compete in the 200 fly was the right one. I might have won the bronze in that event with my personal best (1:57.53), which I did last May at our Nationals." Sure Thomas, 50 back can't hurt much, while 200 fly has to be all pain.

Zoe Baker (GBR) broke her European record in the 50 breast semi-finals with 31.43. She finished 11th in the semis of the 100 breast with 1:11.55. She dreams of swimming in the Olympics, where there is no 50 breast. She will have to improve her 100 to 1:10.21 (the two-per-country standard).

Better Late

Switzerland's Flavia Rigamonti was a top medal prospect for her country in the women's 800 freestyle. She won the short course European title last December. The Swiss Federation decided to save money by staying in a three star hotel (five stars are tops). Some team members developed stomach problems including Rigamonti. She managed only a fourth in the 800 free with 8:37.14. A week later she won the Swiss Championships in Geneva with 8:31.20, the fastest time in the world for 1999.

Future Greats Now

The European Junior Championships have been held yearly since 1967, for boys 17-18 and girls 15-16. The winners usually show up on the podium of the European Champions a few years later. A rare feat is to medal in both in the same year. Two swimmers did it in 1999.

Dimitri Komornikov (RUS), 18, won the 200 breaststroke in Moscow with 2:12.18 (the fastest time for 1999) and got the silver in Istanbul in the same event with 2:12.88.

Otylia Jedrzejczak, (POL), 15, won the 100 and 200 fly events in Moscow with 1:00.26 and 2:11.71. In Istanbul, she was 5th in the 100 fly in 1:00.53 and third in the 200 fly in 2:11.60.

Why Semi-Finals?

The return of semi-finals is driven by money. (Semis were part of international swimming until 1976). Swimmers who have experienced semis at the short course Worlds and the European Championships are against the extra rounds as they do not contribute to faster swimming. They just tire everyone and prevent the best swimmers from swimming more events. However for the governing bodies such as FINA, the extra days could be a financial bonanza. In Atlanta revenue from ticket sales for all the aquatic sports was 27 million (US dollars). Each additional day would add substantial income. FINA receives a share of this revenue. All major international competitions will follow their model and will become longer competitions. For example in 1997 the Europeans were a six-day meet, in the old format (prelims and finals). In 1999 with the addition of the stroke 50s, they became a seven day program and next year they will become eight, the Sydney Olympic program is eight days in length with individual ticket prices escalating into three and four figures.

Missed In Istanbul

Olympic and World Champion Fred de Burghgraeve (BEL) out for the summer with an arm injury; Martina Moravcova (SVK) suffering from thyroid problems; 200 IM winner in 1997 Oxana Verevka (RUS) dropped out from the sport.

Best Quote

"I not used to this place," said Alexander Popov, in an unusual third place-shaking winner Pieter van den Hoogenband's hand, on the podium during the 50 free awards ceremony.


FINA's Doping Panel announced the following positive doping cases:

  1. The swimmer Wang Wei (CHN) tested positive for clenbuterol (Beta-2 agonists) has been suspended for three (3) years commencing April 13, 2000.
  2. The swimmer Xiong Guoming (CHN) tested positive for clenbuterol (Beta-2 agonists) has been suspended for three (3) years commencing August 9, 1999.

    For both swimmers this is the second doping offence committed under the FINA Rules.
    The swimmers shall be disqualified from all competitions they took part in the time since March 8, 1999.

  3. The open water swimmer David Meca (ESP) tested positive for nandrolone during the FINA Marathon World Cup in Salvador de Bahia, (BRA) on January 31, 1999 and has been suspended for a period of four (4) years commencing August 8, 1999.
  4. The open water swimmer Igor Majcen (SLO) tested positive for nandrolone during the FINA Marathon World Cup in Salvador de Bahia, (BRA) on January 31, 1999 and has been suspended for a period of four (4) years commencing August 8, 1999.


Remember... It's not true until it has been officially denied