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Round-Up: Bernard's Shanghai Starter

Jan 10, 2011  - Craig Lord

France: Alain Bernard, Hugues Duboscq and Coralie Balmy get their 2011 long-course race seasons underway at the Arena Euro Meet in Luxembourg on January 28 to 30. Bernard and the Antibes squad coached by Denis Auguin will spend the week before the meet in Luxembourg at a training camp there. The meet, aimed at setting markers on the way to world titles in Shanghai in July, will feature 48 teams representing 19 countries.

USA: Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Katie Hoff are among those heading for their first meet of the year at the Austin Grand Prix, January 14-16. The meet will be staged at the Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center on the University of Texas campus. In a star-studded line up, the meet also features Kate Ziegler, Garret Weber-Gale Jason Lezak, Tyler Clary, Chloe Sutton, David Walters, Peter Vanderkaay, Eric Shanteau, Kathleen Hersey, Ricky Berens and Nick Thoman and current USA Swimming Grand Prix Series leader, Missy Franklin. The Austin Grand Prix is the second stop in the seven-meet series.

Fran Crippen legacy: Venezuela's Ricardo Monasterio won the 41st Fort Lauderdale Rough Water Swim at the weekend in Fort Lauderdale and emerged to say that he hoped that governing bodies and organisers of open water events would learn from the death of Fran Crippen (USA) in a 10km race at Fujiarah, UAE, on October 23 last year. Monasterio, of the Davie Nadadores, won the mile race along Fort Lauderdale Beach in 18:04mins. He and women's winner Ana Marcela Cunha, who swam in that tragic race in Dubai, said that they were in Fort Lauderdale to honour the memory of Crippen. "He was a very tough competitor and a great person," Monasterio said. "It's very tragic what happened. There will be a silver lining if they can learn from it and make sure the safety is [improved] for the swimmers."

Australia: We've been there before and the rumours are back - Ian Thorpe is back training and heading for a speedy return in time for the London 2012 Olympics. So say reports in the Aussie media today. Dave Flaskas, manager of the 28-year-old, is quoted as saying that while "it's a long way from here to London," Thorpe's stance is "never say never". Not quite the same as "I'm making a comeback. For that to happen, Thorpe would need to declare himself available for anti-doping testing and back in the game within a few months, so that he can comply with the FINA and WADA rules that obliges swimmers to be available for tests nine months before racing in any event that would qualify them for a FINA event, included in that definition the Olympic Games.

Scotland: European and Commonwealth 400m medley champion Hannah Miley took nine golds and two silver medals at the British Gas Scottish short-course Championships at in Glasgow between Friday and Sunday.

Germany: swim stars of yesteryear and in 2011 on the Euro-celebrity tour, Thomas Rupprath and Franziska Van Almsick are in the news in Germany today. Rupprath, one of the most decorated swimmers in short-course swim history, headed off to the Australian Bush yesterday to play the role of Germany's "Tarzan", according to Bild, in "I'm a celebrity - get me out of here". Van Almsick, for 13 years the owner of the 200m freestyle world mark in the wake of taking the world crown in 1994, is to swim in the Midmare Mile charity swim hosted by Charleen Wittstock, former South African teamster and soon to be wed to Prince Albert of Monaco, patron of the Monte Carlo round of the Mare Nostrum Tour on the race circuit. Beyond swimming, Van Almsick and Wittstock have something else in common: they are both 32.

The future of speed: Sports scientist John Brenkus says he has worked out just what would be the perfect performance in sports including golf, running and swimming. In the race pool, the presenter of Sport Science on satellite channel ESPN, used statistics to chart how records have fallen over the years. Not sure if he took account of shiny suits and their artificial impact but in looking at Brazilian sprint emperor Cesar Cielo's 20.91sec world mark over 50m free in 2009, he calculates that the best speed possible for a human being may be met by 2256, when a swimmer weighing 14st 4lb will, with perfect technique, generate enough power to travel 50m free in 18.15sec. Not that Cielo and his generation will have to worry about that too much. Meanwhile, GDR "experts" predicted the following "where the record will be in the year 2000 back in 1981: 

  • Women:
  • 100m free: 54.79 (WR in 1981); 51.1 (2000); 49.0 (limit)
  • Men: 
  • 100m free: 49.44; 46.6; 45.1

Thank goodness the Berlin Wall crumbled to take with it the system that would have aimed to make all of that unnatural speed possible in such a short span of time.