Mental toughness can be viewed as aggression or an unwavering ability to endure or the ability to perform at your best when the stakes are very high. These are all good examples of mental toughness but a closer look would likely reveal that these are all rooted in the ability to achieve a deep state of presence.
To be entirely engaged in the present moment is something that is very difficult to achieve. Humans are both blessed and cursed with a brain that not only thinks but can also be entirely aware of the fact that it is thinking. More often than not, thought takes you everywhere but the present moment. This is exacerbated when you feel pressure or nervousness or anxiety, which is ever-present leading into and during competition. Our thoughts will take us everywhere but the present moment because we like to obsess, rehearse, deliberate and worry about what’s coming or what happened. The problem is that the present is where you need to be if you want to perform at your best.
You often hear athletes talking about being in “the zone”. The zone has been described as a time when everything flows and unfolds effortlessly. But the zone is often elusive when it matters most and the primary reason for this is that thought gets in the way. Thought analyzes, criticizes, judges, tries to control and rarely ever stays in the present moment. To make matters worse, thought is usually triggered in pressure situations.
The zone is nothing more than a heightened state of presence. You are completely “there”, without the mental distractions, doubts, worries or judgments that often accompany thought. Everyone has experienced being in the zone. When you do something you truly love you become fully present and engaged mentally without realizing it. Think back to a time when a training session or race seemed to be effortless, fun and you were performing well without really trying. There is a high probability that you were experiencing a deep state of presence.
So how do you get there?
Awareness of Thought
Awareness of thought is the first and perhaps most important thing you can practice. As soon as you become aware of your thoughts you will realize that your thoughts are a separate thing from you. In the exact moment you become aware of your thoughts, you will be present. You can practice this every day. The more you become aware of your thoughts the less your thoughts will get away from you into the past or the future.
Control Over Thought
Awareness of thought puts you in a position to be more in control of thought. When you are in control of thought you can focus those thoughts on things that exist in the present moment. Aim thought directly at something in the present moment and it opens the floodgates for the ability to achieve focus and mental toughness.
Fall in Love With the Process
Thought often takes us away from what we are doing now because sometimes what we are doing now is uncomfortable or hard or “boring”. In a race or training situation where the effort creates discomfort it’s easy to want to be somewhere else. But what if you could learn to truly love the discomfort? By being entirely present and engaged in that exact moment you can learn to observe the discomfort, accept it and embrace it rather than running from it mentally. When you embrace the discomfort you will experience mental toughness at a level you may never have thought possible.
For the Sake of it
When you do things as a means to an end it’s much harder to be present because it is not the doing that drives you, it’s the end goal. End goals are good because they help shape the process and keep you motivated but you have to learn to do things for the sake of themselves. If you are doing hill reps because you want to win your age group at the next race that is great but don’t do the hill reps solely for that reason. Do the hill reps because hill reps are awesome!
How Does this Make you Mentally Tougher?
If you are always trying to be somewhere else mentally, it’s very difficult to give all of your attention to the task at hand. If you are fully present you will put all of your mental and physical energy into the thing you are doing. Breaking that down even further, it means that you will commit more fully to every interval or every repetition. Imagine how much harder you will try if all you are focusing on is that interval, that minute, that second. It’s easy to do one more rep but daunting if you have to do twelve more reps so don’t do twelve, do one and then one more and so on.
When you are racing, presence creates clarity. It will allow you to focus entirely on what is required at that particular time. Oddly enough, it also makes time speed up. In longer endurance events the hardest thing to handle mentally is the length of time. If you focus on the fact that you have to put out effort for hours on end it’s far more difficult to stay motivated and on task than if you are focused on the present moment.
When I was training, my best sessions were always when I was focused on one interval at a time and completely in love with and engaged in the process and the effort. I would become fully absorbed in the activity without any desire to be elsewhere. There was great mental power in that.
My best runs in Ironman were always when I ran one mile at a time. I would create presence by focusing on smaller more immediate chunks. I did not like the idea of having to run 26.2 miles after 112 miles of biking. But I knew I could always run one mile and run it well. So I would run one mile and then I would run another mile and so on.
The ability to become fully present is a mental skill that is entirely achievable with practice. Presence allows you to fall in love with and fully embrace the effort for the sake of itself. When you can do this, you will experience mental toughness at a whole new level.
About the author: Jasper Blake has been one of Canada’s most reputable endurance athletes for the past two decades. His accomplishments are numerous including an Ironman title and dozens of professional wins as a triathlete. He has also competed extensively as a runner, swimmer and cyclist. He received a Bachelor of Science honors degree in Human Kinetics at the University of Guelph in 2000. During this time he competed on the University of Guelph swimming and running teams and was an Academic All Canadian in 2000. Blake brings over twenty five years of real life experience to the programs he creates and delivers them within a structure that is easy to understand and makes sense.
In September, South Africa will know whether they will be hosting two grand sporting events. The announcement of the host city for the Commonwealth Games will be made on September 2 at 7am, and will be carried live on just about every local television station.
Sascoc have churned out releases about the Games on a regular basis. In them they tell of how the Congress of the Commonwealth Games Federation will vote on whether to award the 2022 games to Durban and that “the Bid Team remains confident of a positive outcome”. Well, yes, you would think so. Durban is the only city that is still in the running. There is no other competitor. If Durban can’t win a one-horse race, then they should be taken out back and put out of their misery.
What will be printed on the voting documents for the people of the Congress on September 2: “Please place a tick next to the box of your preference to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games – (a) Durban; or (b) no one. Without Durban, there will be no 2022 Games. Edmonton did not want them. They cost too much. Durban will spend an estimated R6.4-billion on hosting the games. They then estimate this will result in a R25-billion economic impact, some of that coming from British tourists spending pounds. That sounds like a stretch, but a stretch of a future outcome is hard to prove and sits well on the ears of government.
Yesterday came the news that the Commonwealth Games could be preceded in South Africa by a bigger and much more popular international event – the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Japan, the hosts, have been given until the end of September to provide a “revised detailed host venue proposal” after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe put a stop to plans for a R26-billion national stadium for the 2020 Olympics because he believed it was extravagant. Abe may be the first politician to put pocket before pride, a brave and good decision.
Should Japan lose the rights, then the Australians indicated yesterday they might bid for 2019, but Bill Pulver, the ARU CEO, admitted they would be behind South Africa in the queue. Saru announced earlier this year they will bid for the 2023 World Cup after losing out on 2015 and 2019. Australia might play a tactically smart move by backing South Africa should Japan fall away, and thus hope to win the 2023 tournament.
“I hope sincerely that Japan doesn’t fall over and I doubt if they will fall over,” said Pulver. “Obviously, our Southern hemisphere friends in South Africa are desperate for a second World Cup given that would even it out. So we’d have to work out whether we’d just get in behind them and support them. To be honest, I suspect we would.”
Australia’s Kyle Chalmers was crowned the fastest boy in the pool at the Fina World Junior Swimming Championships on Friday, on a day when three world junior swimming records fell at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
Chalmers clocked 22.19sec to take the 50m free, ahead of United States’ Michael Andrew (22.36). Italy’s Giovanni Izzo was third with 22.55.
There was reprieve for Andrew, who has struggled after entering in eight individual events. Touted as the next big thing from the US, the youngster got his first gold of the meet when he won the 50m back.
Chalmers’ compatriot Minna Atherton stayed on course for a sweep of the women’s backstroke events when she broke the 50m back mark in the heats, then lowered it again in the evening’s semi-final.
The Brisbane teenager became the first youth swimmer to go under 28sec in the event, clocking 27.92 to top the semi-final. It was under her mark of 28.00 set in the morning heats.
She now holds two junior world records – the 50m and the 100m back, which she set on Wednesday. She also won the 200m back on Thursday. The 50m back final takes place on Saturday.
Turkey’s Viktoria Gunes notched the evening’s second world junior record. Gunes, who had earlier won the women’s 100m breaststroke, clocked 2min 11.03sec in the women’s 200m individual medley, lowering her previous record of 2:11.46 set at the senior world championships in Kazan.
The United States men’s 4x200m freestyle relay made a late dash for the world junior record books when they clocked 7:13.76 in the evening’s last race. It bettered the previous mark of 7:15.36 set by Britain in 2013.
After four days of racing, Australia lead the medal table with seven golds and five silvers. The US are second with five golds, seven silvers, and three bronzes, while Russia are third with four golds and eight bronzes.
Tremendous individual efforts highlighted Day 4 in Singapore, at the 5th FINA World Junior Swimming Championships as versatility was the ruling word this evening. We could witness a couple of rare pairings of medal winning performances from outstanding young talents – and as a bonus, 5 more World Junior Records.
Turkey’s Viktoria Gunes captured the titles in the 100m breaststroke and the 200m IM, US’s Michael Andrew had a gold from the 50m back and a silver from the 50m free and between the two he clocked the best time in the semis of the 50m fly, while Aussie Kyle Chalmers sprinted to victory in the 50m free then “re-paced” himself to help the 4x200m free relay to a silver medal.
Actually, those responsible for preparing the schedule of the championships couldn’t anticipate such individual programmes: breaststrokers rarely swim in the IM events (at least not on the same day), backstroke dashers rarely enters the 50m free/fly (or vice-versa) and freestyle sprinters rarely called on duty for the 4x200m relays. That’s why we could see the young guns rushing from the respective medal ceremonies to the start of the very next event (like Gunes and Andrew did) and waited for Chalmers while he left behind his relay team-mates to catch his first ceremony at the other end of the pool.
Kyle Chalmers (AUS) ©Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia
And this was also the day of dead heats: the first tie for a medal happened in the men’s 50m back where Mohamed Samy (EGY) and Robinson Molina (VEN) shared the bronze, while at the end of the day two swim-offs had to be held, first in the women’s 50m back, then in the men’s 50m fly – the latter was to decide a three-way tie (!) for the last berth in the final…
Turkey’s Viktoria Gunes did a brilliant job while winning the 100m breast and 200m IM in a time-frame of 32 minutes (including a ceremony). Her winning margins were even more overwhelming: a full second in the breast (1:06.77) over Sweden’s Sophie Hansson and even more, 1.03sec over Canada’s Marie-Sophie Harvey (2:11.03) in the 200m IM where she brought down the World Junior Record as a bonus.
“It was really hard, I wanted to beat the records and I was able to do it in the medley” Gunes said. “Though I need to improve a lot, especially in the backstroke but I have time to do it until Rio as I wanted to be part of the Olympic team.”
Viktoria Gunes (TUR) ©Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia
Michael Andrew, who has become famous for swimming in five events on Day 2, now created another busy evening for himself. “It was less demanding, though” the tall boy smiled at the end of the day. For the start, he bettered the Championship Record while winning the 50m back (25.13). In 16 minutes he was back to clock the top time in the semis of the 50m fly, and 26 minutes (and a victory ceremony) later he was ready for the 50m free, though this time he had to settle for the silver medal behind Kyle Chalmers.
“I knew it would be a busy schedule and I wouldn’t say it would have been a different story had I not had to rush from the ceremony to the start. I’m really strong mentally so I tried to close out everything and concentrate on my races” Andrew said.
Asked about his idols, the young American had a nice reply: “Personally, my idol… When I look up to someone, I will look up to God because God blesses everything…”
Kyle Chambers, who managed to beat Andrew in the 50m free also talked on his rival: “I’m pretty happy with this gold. I saw Michael beside me on the starting blocks, and I knew I had to swim faster than ever.”
The Aussies pulled of another win in the freestyle, Tamsin Cook smashed the Championship Record (4:06.17) in the 400m while gaining 1.3sec on the 800m champion Sierra Schmidt (USA).
“I’ve talked to my coach before the race and decided to go out fast, the second 200 was just about being in the race” Cook said. “I was definitely worried in the last 50m, my legs were burning a lot but I just had to keep my head down and get to the wall as fast as I could. I got the silver in the 200m fly and now to see the flag raised for me just tops this meet, I couldn’t be any happier.”
Japan’s Rikako Ikee flied way faster than the others in the women’s 50m, setting a new Championship Record (26.28). The race for the minor spoils were pretty close, three swimmers hit the wall in a span of 0.06sec with Penny Oleksiak (AUS) coming second, ahead of Mariia Kameneva (RUS) and Wand Jungzhuo (CHN).
Rikako Ikee (JPN) ©Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia
“I felt I could be the best today and reach my full speed” Ikee said. “Though I was a bit scared as this is the first time I’m taking part in such a big event, with media around, answering questions, so next time maybe I can clock an even better time than this…”
Russia’s Anton Chupkov added the 200m crown to his 100m title – no doubt that in this age-group he is the breaststroke king. Of course, that’s not surprising at all as he was already a finalist in Kazan among the seniors and came 7th. The only thing he might miss here is to beat his WJR set at the ‘big’ World Champs (2:09.64), he was close but fell a bit short this time (2:10.19, still good for a CR).
“I’m really happy to earn my third gold medal here” Chupkov said (he was member of the victorious mixed medley relay). “It was a good swim, I felt I was strong enough to win this race. It does good to the team spirit as these championships didn’t begin as we expected but now we are all delighted and hope to maintain this level for the remaining days.”
As for the World Junior Records, the US quartet bettered it in the 4x200m free (7:13.76), while the girls smashed the global mark in the 50m back three times during the day. Gabrielle Fa’Amausili (NZL) started it in the morning (28.09), Minna Atherton beat it in the next heat (28.00) and the Aussie shaved it further in the semis (27.92) – this last one would have placed her 6th in the final in Kazan. And she might get even closer to the top seniors on Saturday!
Medal table after Day 4
AUS 7 5 0
USA 5 7 3
RUS 4 0 8
TUR 3 0 0
CAN 2 5 1
CHN 2 2 1
GBR 1 1 5
JPN 1 0 1
ROU 1 0 0
SWE 0 2 0
ITA 0 1 3
ESP 0 1 1
BRA 0 1 0
HUN 0 1 0
EGY 0 0 1
LTU 0 0 1
NZL 0 0 1
VEN 0 0 1
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Deciding what stroke rate you should use in freestyle is not necessarily easy. There are two very different techniques commonly used in freestyle, hip-driven and shoulder-driven. The difference between the two is largely determined by the time the hand is held out in front (lift phase) before initiating the propulsive phase of the pull. That time, in turn, influences the stroke rate. There is also a hybrid freestyle technique that many elite swimmers use (Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Katie Ledecky) that involves using one arm of shoulder-driven and one arm of hip-driven.
There are advantages and disadvantages of each technique, so before deciding which one works best, one should experiment with both of them.
Hip-driven vs. shoulder-driven
Hip-driven freestyle generates more power for each pull, if done correctly. The additional time with the hand held out front enables the swimmer to rotate the hips back further, generating more kinetic energy during the counter-rotation, while one arm is pulling. This additional energy augments the effect of the pulling force, resulting in more distance per stroke. Another advantage is that fewer pulling strokes taken may decrease the amount of energy required to swim, or increase the efficiency of the swim. At least it provides a little more rest time between pulls.
The disadvantages are that there are fewer propulsive forces from the pull, which, particularly without a strong kick, can lead to greater fluctuation of the body speed. The variance of body speed does not conform well to the law of inertia.
In changing from hip-driven to shoulder-driven freestyle, the function of the hand and arm goes from a wing and a paddle to more of a propeller function. Now, RPM becomes as important as the shear power of each stroke. Shoulder-driven freestyle demands a higher stroke rate.
Typical stroke rates
For distances of over 400 meters, the stroke rates may range from the mid 50s to around 100. Although there is not clearly one stroke rate where the technique switches from hip-driven to shoulder-driven, one can safely call a stroke rate of 50–70 per minute (that means 25–35 right and 25–35 left arm strokes per minute) hip-driven and for the most part, stroke rates of between 85–100 are shoulder-driven (some swimmers can swim with a very fast hybrid technique at these rates). The rates between 70 and 85 are either hybrid or in the grey area of slow shoulder-driven or fast hip-driven.
With either technique, the time spent in the propulsive phase (the time the hand is moving backward creating propulsion) is around .35 seconds. Including both hands, that makes .7 seconds of propulsion time per stroke cycle. If the stroke rate is 60, that means the cycle time (hand entry to hand entry) is 2 seconds (60/30). If the hands are in propulsion for only .7 of that 2 seconds, that is 35% of the time. The rest of the time (65%), the hand is either in lift phase or recovery phase, but it is not moving the body forward. That is a lot of “down” time.
Besides the hands, the only other source we have to create propulsion is with our feet. Because of the extraordinary amount of “down” time in the pulling motion of hip-driven freestyle, to use this technique more effectively, one needs to have a steady six-beat kick. The steady propulsion from the kick will help maintain a more constant speed.
In shoulder-driven freestyle, say with a stroke rate of 100, the cycle time is 60/50 or 1.2 seconds. The propulsive phase is still .7 seconds, which is now 58% of the cycle time, with the other 42% considered “down” time. Better…but not perfect. Ideally, to use shoulder-driven freestyle, we need to grow a third arm, so that one hand is in the propulsive phase at all times. (That is why one never sees propellers on boats with less than three blades.)
How does the kick come into play?
While it may seem logical to assume that without a strong kick, a swimmer should adopt the shoulder-driven freestyle technique, it doesn’t work well for everyone in that category (which includes most distance swimmers). Some cannot handle the aerobic requirements of the higher stroke rate and end up exhausting themselves trying to keep it up. The amount of training and fitness level of the athlete can therefore influence the decision of which technique to use.
The best advice I can give is to learn how to swim freestyle using both techniques, even hybrid if you want to. Then do sets using all techniques, testing your workout times and heart rates with each one, to see which works better for you. If shoulder-driven freestyle seems to be faster, but tires you out too much, you may simply need to train more to reach your goals. Sustaining a higher stroke rate in freestyle requires time and commitment to achieve.
Whichever technique works best, the fundamentals of reducing frontal drag, maximising propulsion and conforming to the law of inertia must also be considered important strategies for your continued improvement.
Results from a small study out of New Zealand has many swimmers (and their parents) asking if curcumin (pronounced Kerr-Q-Min) is the next hot thing for athletes. Curcumin is a compound in the spice, turmeric. The yellow color in mustard and curry powder is from turmeric. It has been used in Eastern medicine as an anti-inflammatory and scientists think it might act like a natural non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, like ibuprofen.
The study that has generated interest is titled, “Curcumin supplementation likely attenuates delayed onset muscle soreness.” Notice the word “likely.” Now, let’s consider the study and see if it is relevant to swimmers. The researchers recruited 17 men in New Zealand (average age was 34 years) who were moderate recreational athletes (playing soccer and basketball). Then they had the men do single leg jumping described as “muscle damaging” exercise to make their muscle sore, called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Anyone who has ever done intense exercise outside of their usual exercise knows what DOMS feels like. For example, an 8-hour hike down into the Grand Canyon will most likely result in DOMS. The men in the experimental group were give 5 curcumin capsules twice a day (10 capsules in all) for 2.5 days after the exercise. The men who got the curcumin reported moderate pain reduction compared to the group who did not get the supplement. The researchers concluded that curcumin could relieve DOMS and allow a heavy exerciser to get back to physical activity more quickly.
Let’ get back to the relevance to swimmers. The study participants were not trained athletes and neither were they swimmers. The researchers agree that this is a preliminary study and more research needs to be done with more people, different types of athletes, and altering the dose of curcumin. They used 5,000 milligrams of curcumin a day; even someone who eats a lot of curry only gets 60-100 milligrams in their diet, so the dose they used was pretty high.
Probably more importantly, dietary supplements, including turmeric and curcumin, are not well-regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is estimated that up to 20% of dietary supplements claiming to improve athletic performance contain banned substances and could result in a positive drug test. So, be prepared to hear more about the benefits of curcumin (based on this one study) but let’s wait for more concrete evidence. There is even a turmeric-infused water on the market, but stick to plain old real water!
Chris Rosenbloom is a professor emerita of nutrition at Georgia State University and provides sports nutrition consulting services to athletes of all ages. She is the editor-in-chief of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Sports Nutrition Manual, 5th edition and editor-in-chief of an online Sports Nutrition Care Manual for health care professionals. She welcomes questions from swimmers, parents and coaches. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The President of the Oceania Swimming Association Denis Miller has clarified that Fiji’s hosting the 2016 Oceania Swimming Championships was conditional on Fiji Government support to host the event.
Miller made the clarification after media reports in Fiji that the country has won the bid to host the championship.
“Delegates at the Oceania Swimming Association (OSA) Meeting held in Kazan, Russia, during the FINA World Swimming Championships, voted on the bids presented by Papua New Guinea Swimming and Fiji Swimming to host the 2016 Oceania Swimming Championships.
“The vote that was conducted was in favour of Fiji. However, Fiji’s bid and presentation was conditional on Fiji Government support to host the event, in particular funding of required facility upgrades,” Miller told PACNEWS.
Miller said Fiji Swimming is required to confirm with OSA Fiji Government support as described prior to the end of this month together with key milestones throughout the forecast delivery of the facility upgrades.
“If these requirements are not adequately met, OSA reserves the right to award the 2016 Oceania Swimming Championships to the other bidder being Papua New Guinea.
“Also, at this stage, the Pool Swimming events of the 2016 Championships have not been granted Olympic Qualification status. This will require consideration by FINA following an application from the federation which hosts the event,” Miller stressed.
Awarding Durban the 2022 Commonwealth Games would be a “vote of confidence for South Africa and the African continent”, the bid’s chief executive Tubby Reddy claimed today.
The South African city is the only bidder for the event, due to be awarded by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) at its General Assembly in Auckland next Wednesday (September 2) following the withdrawal of Canadian city Edmonton due to the falling oil prices.
The CGF, however, has continued with its normal process and continued to scrutinise Durban’s bid.
This has included the CGF’s Evaluation Commission, led by honorary secretary Louise Martin, meeting the city’s partners and officials from the South African Government during a trip there in April.
Representatives from all 71 countries and territories have also visited Durban to inspect the venues and facilities.
“If the CGF awards Durban the right to host the Games in 2022, it will not only give a tremendous boost to Durban, but it will be of benefit to Africa,” said Reddy, also chief executive of the South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).
“It will be a vote of confidence for South Africa and the African continent.
“We, as the Bid Committee, have always maintained that Durban is a world-class African city that has the ability to host global events of the highest quality and in this regard we believe that our bid met the stringent criteria set out by the CGF.”
The CGF Evaluation Commission recommended earlier this month that the General Assembly votes to award Durban the event, but their report outlined several areas requiring immediate attention.
These include concerns over the finances of the bid, although the Evaluation Commission’s report did note that Durban 2022 is continuing to work across the three levels of Government and have advised them they will be able to meet the requirement, while the CGF has also noted Ministerial support of the bid.
Martin also noted in her report that Durban is “95 per cent there, and very close to the finish line” in the race to host a successful Commonwealth Games.
“The CGF assessment team’s report proves that Durban has all the qualities to host a very successful Games in 2022,” said Reddy.
“We have demonstrated that Durban’s proposition was indeed of a world-class standard and that the stringent technical criteria demanded by the CGF have been met by Durban.”
Mark Alexander, chairman of Durban 2022, promised they will deliver a great event but appealed for financial support from business to help it succeed.
“Durban 2022 will inspire a generation of young athletes from the African continent and it will attract world-class athletes from all over the Commonwealth,” he said.
“Durban will have world-class sporting venues which will meet the city’s long term development strategy to position it as a sporting hub for global events.
“Our legacy for Durban 2022 is for sports and economic development where our primary focus is on the youth of our country.
“We need local business and global companies to partner with us to ensure that we fulfill these obligations.
“Durban has the facilities, the diverse population and the expertise to put on a world-class event that will attract millions of international visitors, athletes and global investors.
“We are ready to inspire all of them.”
Durban’s bid delegation in Auckland is set to be led by South Africa’s Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and the city’s Mayor James Nxumalo.
The announcement of the vote, due to take place in Auckland at 8.30pm local time, will be televised live in South Africa, where it will be 6.30am, on Supersport, SABC, ENCA and ANN7.
Taylor Ruck got the most out of Day 3, Canada’s shining swimming talent earned three medals, including two golds and was part of a World Junior Record-beating relay. China, Russia and Australia also had a fine evening with a title apiece, the Russian swimmers added four bronze medals to their tally this evening.
Taylor Ruck had a busy session. She started with the 200m back at 18.21 where she came up with a great finish but was 0.05sec shy of the silver medal – however, a bronze already was bagged. At 19.06 she returned to the blocks and won the 100m free with ease, in a Championship Record time of 53.92. In fact it was a 1-2 for Canada as Penny Oleksiak came second, trailing by 0.73sec. Just 15 minutes later they stood on the podium with their well-deserved medals, but as soon as the anthem was finished they simply ran all the way along the pooldeck, together with Russia’s bronze medallist Arina Openysheva, as they were all involved to the day-ending 4x100m mixed free relay. In fact, it was a heavy involvement, as the boys handed over the relay placed 4th after 200m so the girls had to produce two more missile-like swim. And they did just that: Oleksiak passed everyone and Ruck never looked back on the home-coming leg. She had another sub-54sec effort (the only one in the field), and that was enough to beat the World Junior Record as well, by more than a full second (3:27.71).
After two gold and a bronze, Taylor Ruck still seemed a little bit shy while talking to the press. “I’m really happy for medalling in all events, it’s amazing. (In the 100m free) it felt really good, during the first 50 I just had a hold-on for the last 25 metres. I didn’t look for beating any record here, I just hoped for a good time. However, beating the World Junior Record in the relay was awesome, just as the opportunity to race with all those fast people and finally came on top.”
On Day 3 we could see a couple of young stars who were just walking, or rather swimming in the footsteps of their respective nation’s greats. One is Australia’s Minna Atherton who copied Emily Seebohm’s Kazan feat, doubling down the 100m and 200m crowns in the women’s backstroke (today she clocked 2:09.11 over the 200m).
“I wasn’t really expecting that, it was a big surprise as the morning swim wasn’t felt how usually does” Minna said. “Now I was just excited to clock 2:09, I didn’t expect that either, however, I felt really comfortable during this race.”
After all, it wasn’t too surprising as Minna admitted that Emily had given her a couple of tips how to become an even better backstroker.
The other hopeful came from China and with his name – Jitong Yang – it wasn’t surprising at all that he ruled the field over the 800m, just as Sun Yang did in Kazan (and in the previous years). Jitong had also received a couple of advices from China’s giant when they met recently and he proved to be a good student. After passing the 500m mark it was inevitable that this title cannot land in other hands, however, he had to take care of the excellent result from the morning, posted by Cesar Castro of Spain, but Yang could beat it by 2.02sec (7:55.19), keeping the Spaniard at bay. Russia’s Ernest Maksumov was just 0.03sec faster in the evening session than Australia’s Joshua Parrish, who also swam in the morning, so the bronze went to the Russian.
“I’m really happy with my performance” Yang said. “To speed up in the second part of the race is in my strategy, a bit of depending how I feel during the race but today I felt really strong. Though I was tiring towards the end but the excitement helped me to overcome it. When I met Sun this year, he encouraged us, young swimmers, to fight and never give up and gave advices on techniques as well.”
Older traditions came alive in the men’s 100m fly: the event, once ruled by Denis Pankratov, saw the two Daniils from Russia making the podium. Pakhomov’s win was never in danger, he broke the Championship Record (52.28) and gained 0.6sec on Brazil’s Vicinius Lanza who managed to finish between the two Russians as the other Daniil, Antipov came third.
Medal table after Day 3
AUS 5 3 0
USA 3 5 3
RUS 3 0 6
CAN 2 2 1
CHN 2 2 1
GBR 1 1 3
ROU 1 0 0
TUR 1 0 0
ESP 0 1 1
ITA 0 1 1
BRA 0 1 0
HUN 0 1 0
SWE 0 1 0
LTU 0 0 1
NZL 0 0 1
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Fiji Sports Council chairman Peter Mazey said this is also an Olympic games qualifying event.
Other swimming disciplines included in the championship are synchronized, long distance, and water polo.
“Next year is going to be one of the best years we’ve ever had, only this week we got, it was confirmed that Fiji won the bid to host the Oceania swimming it is conditional, along the swimming pool being up-graded and that’s one of our big plans and we will be working on that within the next few months, that event is likely to be a qualifying event for Rio it will be in June and the big thing about that is Oceania swimming includes Hawaii, Guam, Australia, New Zealand and if they all come because it is the qualifier for Rio it’s going to be a huge event, could be 2 weeks event,” said Peter Mazey, Chairman, Fiji Sports Commission.