News Round-Up for the past week:
USA: Double Olympic backstroke champion Missy Franklin took her tally of victories to four at the Arena Grand Prix in the YMCA Aquatic Center in Orlando, Florida, last night. Her latest three-day race test concluded with wins in the 200m backstroke (2:08.47) and 100m freestyle (55.37). On Friday, Franklin clocked 59.34 in the 100m backstroke, while Thursday saw her at the helm of the 200m freestyle in 1:58.01. The last session of the meet also witnessed a double win for Becca Mann, on 8:27.37 in the 800m freestyle and 2:15.25 in the 200m medley. Mann won the 400m free in 4:10.66 on Friday and the 400m medley in 4:41.24 on Thursday. Ryan Lochte completed his latest test with a 2:01.32 win in the 200m medley ahead of his London 2012 200 back nemesis Tyler Clary and Conor Dwyer, on 2:02.91 and 2:03.39 respectively. Clary followed up by clocking a solid 1:57.85 to keep Germany's Yannick Lebherz (1:59.31) and Ryan Murphy (1:59.92) at bay.
Other solid wins during the meet:
Canada: Julia Wilkinson, Olympic team member in 2008 and 2012, has retired from competitive swimming. The Stratford, Ontario, native and triple Commonwealth Games medallist held six Canadian records during her career. A SwimNews Magazine columnist up until the death of our founder Nick Thierry, Wilkinson posted the news on her website www.juliawilkinson.com under a headline "Searching for a New Podium". She explained: "I’m definitely going to miss wearing that Canada cap. That is the most proud thing I’ve ever done in my life. I got to the point where I knew in my heart I didn’t have it in me to keep training at the level I would have to train to be what I consider successful. I wanted to walk away with pride and I wanted to walk away on my own terms so that’s what I’m doing." In her last diary for SwimNews' Olympic edition, she wrote of the heartache and frustration of disappointment at London 2012. "She's been such a bundle of energy for our team. She kept the team upbeat in so many ways. She'll be surely missed," said outgoing Swimming Canada CEO Pierre Lafontaine.
Britain: The Stockport Intensive Training Centre in north England is the latest victim of British Swimming's loss of funding after swimmers fell shy of their target at a home London 2012 Olympic Games. Four centres remain: Loughborough, Bath, Swansea and Stirling. Stockport's results have exceeded those of Swansea and Stirling but the federation decided that Stockport would not survive as a centre. The centres were the brainchild of Bill Sweetenham, former performance director. They were brought on stream after the 2008 Olympics with the intention of offering swimmers world-class high-performance facilities and resources at home. Sweetenham had intended to use the centres as part of a wider system in which Britain would retain its offshore centre at Southport School on the Australian Gold Coast. The work of coach Chris Nesbit continues at Southport as part of the school's splendid sports package but British Swimming opted to withdraw from the scheme. A return of one silver (Michael Jamieson, 200m breaststroke) and two bronze (Rebecca Adlington, 400m, 800m freestyle) at London 2012 led to a £3.7million cut in funding on the way to Rio 2016. At board and management levels there have yet to be any casualties, while Kelly is the first coach whose position has been placed on the line. In a statement, the federation noted: "Stirling and Swansea will be contracted until the end of 2013, again on more cost effective terms, and will allow British Swimming’s newly appointed National Performance Director Chris Spice and Head Coach Bill Furniss to fully engage with the network and define longer- term strategies. British Swimming, Swim Wales and their partners will also be looking at combining daily training environments across Olympic and Paralympic swimming into an integrated solution in Swansea. In order to provide support and consistency to the two full-time and two guest swimmers based in Stockport, British Swimming will be meeting with athletes to discuss options going forward." British Swimming Chief Executive David Sparkes said: "It is with great reluctance that the British Swimming Board, after a careful review of all five ITCs, has decided not to renew the contract with Stockport. We will now be looking at innovative ways in which we can support Stockport as a club going forward to build on the tremendous tradition that the club has of producing world class athletes." Meanwhile, Paralympian Graham Edmunds has been elected onto the British Swimming board as the Athlete Representative.
USA: USA Swimming has added Michael Pliuskaitis to its Banned for Life list. The ban noted paragraphs of the code of conduct that cover sexual misconduct. Pliuskaitis' ban dates back to August 6 last year, when the federation's National Board of Review took its decision. Pluiskaitis served as head coach to Snow Swimming in Virginia. Pliuskaitis is no longer listed on the coaching staff at Snow. His former wife Teresa is listed as the owner, president and founder of a club that is 14 years old. Pluiskaitis, who once served as an assistant coach to Paul Bergen, is the second coach to be banned by USA Swimming this year. The first was Noah Rucker.