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Feb 8 16

Meyer and Bruni claim first 2016 gold in Argentina

by ZwemZa


Alex Meyer (USA) and Rachele Bruni (ITA) were the winners of the first leg of the 2016 edition of the FINA/HOSA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup, organised in Patagones-Viedma, in Argentina. In a thrilling race on February 7, the North American touched home in 1h55m44s72, while Bruni needed 2h06m11s50 to complete the race.

Among men, it was a very interesting finish between Meyer and Italy’s Simone Ruffini. At the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan (RUS), the European athlete got the gold in the 25km, while the US star was silver medallist. In Argentina, the order of arrival was reversed in the 10km, with Ruffini touching second in 1h55m45s44, less than a second behind the winner. Another Italian, Federico Vanelli, grabbed bronze, in a time of 1h55m47s31. The winner of the 2015 FINA/HOSA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup, Germany’s Christian Reichert, was only 15th in Argentina.

In the women’s field, Rachele Bruni confirmed her overall victory last year in the series, triumphing by more than three seconds over Poliana Okimoto (BRA), runner-up in 2h06m15s00. Samantha Arevalo, from Ecuador, completed the podium, in a time of 2h06m22s72. The Italian champion revalidated her win from 2015 also in Viedma, in the start of a season that also saw her triumphing in three other races (Abu Dhabi, UAE; Setubal, POR; and Lac Megantic, CAN). Arevalo’s bronze is her second success in this circuit, after earning silver in the ninth and penultimate race of 2015 in Chun’An (CHN).

38 men and 24 women, representing 17 nations took the plunge in Argentinean waters. The 2016 seven-leg FINA/HOSA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup will have its next stop in Abu Dhabi (UAE) on February 26.


1. Alex Meyer (USA), 1h55m44s72; 2. Simone Ruffini (ITA), 1h55m45s44; 3. Federico Vanelli (ITA), 1h55m47s31

1. Rachele Bruni (ITA), 2h06m11s50; 2. Poliana Okimoto (BRA), 2h06m15s00; 3. Samantha Arevalo (ECU), 2h06m22s7

FINA/HOSA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup calendar:
1.    Patagones-Viedma (ARG) – February 7, 2016
2.    Abu Dhabi (UAE) – February 26, 2016
3.    Balatonfured (HUN) – June 18, 2016
4.    Lac St-Jean (CAN) – July 28, 2016
5.    Lac Megantic (CAN) – August 13, 2016
6.    Chun’An (CHN) – October 9, 2016
7.    Honk Kong (HKG) – October 15, 2016

FINA Communication Department

Feb 8 16

Bowman launches Sun Devil swimming into new stratosphere

by ZwemZa
Bob Bowman (USA Today)

Bob Bowman (USA Today)

There are a lot of things we haven’t seen since 2002. Frosted tips, AOL instant messaging, and jeans with flames on the back.

But one thing the Sun Devil men’s swimming team hasn’t accomplished since 2002 is a victory over arch-rival Arizona. For over a decade, the Wildcats dominated ASU in the pool.

At least they did until Bob Bowman showed up.

In the six months since Bowman arrived in Tempe, bringing his wealth of success at both the collegiate and Olympic level, he’s changed the culture of the swim program at Arizona State. His previous successes created expectation for success at ASU.

On Saturday that expectation turned into reality as the men’s squad knocked off the Wildcats for the first time in over a decade, winning 168-132 over the No. 17 Wildcats. Arizona State saw five of its school records broken Saturday, an impressive feat for a regular-season dual meet, while packing the stands so full that people watched from the parking garages adjacent to Mona Plummer Stadium.

“It was amazing,” said Bowman. “Rivalries are what make college fun, college athletics in general. To be part of one that is so intense as this one is really fun. To come away with the win for the men was really special because it’s been a long time.”

ASU’s men won 11 of the 14 swimming events on the day, led by standout performances from Barkley Perry and Richard Bohus. Bohus and ASU’s 200 yard medley relay team got the party started with a first place finish, and Perry followed that up with a with a nail-biting win in the 200 yard freestyle.

Bohus, a few months removed from breaking both of his arms as well as recovering from a broken shoulder, showed no signs of wear and tear Saturday, crushing the field in the 100 backstroke.

Bohus broke a school record with his time, and followed it up by barely squeaking out a victory in the 50 free, beating out Arizona’s Renny Richmond by .02 seconds. Bohus ended his stellar day with a victory in the 200 medley relay, totaling four wins on a day not too far removed from career-threatening injuries

Richard Bohus celebrates after winning the 50 freestyle. (Photo by Blake Benard)

“He’s our little glass boy. But he just perseveres,” junior Brandon Mills said.

Halfway through the meet a twenty minute intermission was taken and an Olympic exhibition took place, with Michael Phelps and Allison Schmidt swimming among others.

Phelps, who’s on track to become an assistant under his coach Bowman once the Rio Olympics are over, had nothing but good things to say about the shift in culture that Bowman’s helped bring to the program.

“For me to watch the guys and see them accept the challenge Bob’s given them, I think it’s great,” Phelps said. “It’s fun watching them step up to a challenge, and you’re seeing it in how they’re swimming. It’s something I’m looking forward to next year being on the deck with Bob and being able to help the athletes.”

Michael Phelps dons an ASU swimming cap while competing in an exibition race at Mona Plummer Stadium. (Photo by Blake Benard)

But the greatest Olympian of all time isn’t able to officially be a coach yet, so the thanks for the program’s immediate improvement goes to Bowman, an improvement that’s tangible to the swimmers that precede Bowman’s time in Tempe.

“I think it’s surreal,” Mills said. “Seeing progress in the team and the way we’re recruiting right now is incredible. Doing this – beating U of A – is probably the proudest we’ve been in a long time. Having Bob as a coach, he definitely inspires everybody. Every day there’s an inspirational quote, you try to think about that in practice and when you come to the meet you’ve already done the preparation.”

The Sun Devils have a few weeks separating them from the Pac-12 Championships and NCAA’s, competitions that in previous years ASU wouldn’t enter with much confidence. But when you’ve got a coach like Bowman who’s combined success at the highest level with ability to connect with collegiate athletes, the sky is the limit for ASU.

“There are two types of coaches really, coaches that make you swim and coaches that you want to swim for,” Mills said. “He’s one of the coaches you want to swim for.”

Feb 8 16

EP Open Water Swimming Champs : Venter takes 3km title

by ZwemZa
Pearson High scholar, Ian Venter, before the start of the 3km Open Water Swim at Settlers Dam (Zports)

Pearson High scholar, Ian Venter, before the start of the 3km Open Water Swim at Settlers Dam (Zports)

The Nelson Mandela Bay Aquatics (NMBA) 3km swim championships at Settlers Dam on Sunday morning saw the much anticipated dual between defending SPAR River Mile champion Daniel Jones and current undefeated aQuellé Ocean Racing Series 1km champion Ian Venter.

Held in near perfect conditions in this tranquil fresh water dam just outside Grahamstown, swimmers from Border and Eastern Province went head to head over 3 laps of the 1km course with EP Swimmers Jones, Venter and Nicolas Adam breaking away from the start. In the final lap Venter managed to break up the threesome and crossed the winning line in 36 minutes and 22 seconds to take the 3km Championship title, just under 20 seconds ahead of Adam with Jones in a distant 3rd place.

In the Ladies 3km open water championship race it was St Francis Bay swimmer Amica De Jager who took the honours in 38 min 16 sec with Jessica Canter in 2nd place and Kirsten Marriott in 3rd place.

“Today’s 3km swim was very exciting and great to see some of EP’s top open water swimmers in action. It’s great to see the swimmers performing so well despite their busy training programs at the moment.” said race director Mike Zoetmulder of Zsports Events NPC. “Given today’s result, I think the SPAR River Mile in two week’s time is going to be a massive tussle between today’s podium placings and some of the region’s top pool swimmers like the Basson twins.”

Next Sunday the NMBA 5km Championships will take place at the same venue. This will also be the last round of the EC Swim Series and will include a 1km and 3km race. See for further information


Settlers Dam, Grahamstown
Sunday 7th February 2016

Nelson Mandela Bay Aquatics
3km Open Water Swim Championships

MEN: 1 Ian Venter (36:22.2); 2 Nicolas Adam (36:41.4); 3 Daniel Jones (37:22.7); 4 Dylan Smith (38:53.2); 5 Flippie Van Der Spuy (41:09.0); 6 Cole Craig (41:13.0); 7 Seth De Swardt (41:14.0); 8 Teko Khetsi (41:53.2); 9 Peter-John Duffy (42:14.7); 10 Heath Field (42:43.0); 11 Josh Tucker (43:07.7); 12 Rhys Poovan (43:19.2); 13 Dieter Marais (44:05.4); 14 Matthew Stainferth (44:14.0); 15 Andrew Masterton (44:57.9); 16 Kuno Boettiger (45:45.4); 17 Martin Wolmarans (47:27.2); 18 Jordan Ramoo (48:58.5); 19 Stainferth Chris (49:55.9); 20 Rolf Kickhofel (52:42.7); 21 Ralph West (57:08.5); 

LADIES: 1 Amica De Jager (38:16.2); 2 Jessica Canter (38:35.5); 3 Kirsten Marriott (39:23.5); 4 Hannah Haswell (40:29.0); 5 Erika Scheepers (42:38.5); 6 Paige Black (42:47.4); 7 Erin Jarvis (42:52.5); 8 Amy Mardon (43:08.2); 9 Rebecca Newman (43:08.3); 10 Tayla-Jade Van Huyssteen (44:06.5); 11 Madison Malherbe (44:08.5); 12 Michell Strydom (44:09.7); 13 Denise Bosman (44:26.0); 14 Jade Grobbelaar (44:55.4); 15 Amy Keech (45:49.9); 16 Sanchia Poovan (49:21.0); 17 Amy Rose Swart (53:36.0); 18 Megan Hobson (55:54.2); 19 Elizabeth Craig (57:20.0); 

3km Disabled Swim
MEN: 1 Jared Burger (45:50.2); 2 Stanford Slabbert (57:16.7); 

3km Wetsuit Swim
1 Terri-Lynn Penney (1:01:49.7); 

5km Swim
1 Seth De Swardt (1:09:41.5); 2 Jarryd Holmes (1:11:35.0); 3 Alex Goddard (1:20:15.7); 4 Wade Van Rensburg (1:31:18.8); 5 Gareth Bosman (1:40:33.0); 
LADIES: 1 Caro De Jager (1:12:11.8); 2 Nina Petra Bodisch (1:56:36.0); 

1km Swim
1 Cole Craig (14:12.2); 2 Alexia Loizou (15:57.2); 3 Connor Craig (16:40.8);


Feb 8 16

Brown, Weber claim gold at Sanlam Cape Mile

by ZwemZa
MylesBrown (Tobias Ginsberg)

MylesBrown (Tobias Ginsberg)

Light rain could not deter the excitement felt at the start of the Western Cape’s most exhilarating open water swim, the second annual Sanlam Cape Mile on Sunday.

The Men’s Elite Race delivered on its promise with Myles Brown, Chad Ho and Danie Marais battling it out from start to finish. “Conditions were good going into the start,” says Brown after his impressive 17 minute 56 second victory. “I felt really calm. After last year’s race I knew that it would be down to the finish and that I had to stick with Chad and Danie.   As we rounded the last buoy I put my head down and just swam. I had to get up before Chad. Being the one that is doing the pipping is a much better feeling. The Sanlam Cape Mile is an awesome recreational event. It is well run, hosted at a beautiful venue and has a really good vibe. I’ll definitely be back next year.” Chad Ho came in second, with Danie Marais securing the final spot on the podium.

Reigning Sanlam Cape Mile Elite Women’s Champion, Michelle Weber successfully defended her title in a well-deserved time of 19 minutes 15 seconds. “Being able to defend my title is an awesome feeling,” says Weber. “I mainly entered just to have fun, but with the big prize purse I definitely wanted to win. With Sanlam and Speedo onboard the Sanlam Cape Mile has become a big recreational event and is sure to become one of the biggest in the world. The event is incredible with an amazing vibe, good music and food stalls. It’s the perfect family event.” Carmen Le Roux came in second, while Mari Rabie finished third.

“It was an incredible day with so many of the country’s elite swimmers taking part in this year’s Cape Mile,” said Carl Roothman, CE of the Retail Business at Sanlam Investments. “Over 1500 participants competed in the various categories and I am confident that with our Sanlam sponsorship we can grow the Sanlam Cape Mile into one of SA’s premier recreational open-water swims.”

“I’d like to congratulate Myles Brown and Michelle Weber on taking the top spots for the male and female elite categories. It was also heart-warming to see the huge number of spectators, family and friends who came along to support their loved ones.”

“Finally, I would like to thank and congratulate Stillwater Sports on putting together another successful world class event.”

The 2016 Sanlam Cape Mile celebrated an impressive prize purse increase of R90 000, taking the total prize purse to a whopping R140 000. All entrants stood a chance to win fantastic prizes compliments of Speedo.

“Speedo is a proud sponsor of the Sanlam Cape Mile which is fast becoming one of SA’s premier open water events. We encourage swimmers from across the country to participate in this exciting event which draws some of the country’s top names and those who share a passion for swimming,” says Deidre Scodeller, Speedo SA, Brand General Manager.

Feb 8 16

Elite swimmers’ worst nightmare

by ZwemZa

Shallow Water Blackout16A

It’s described as a swimmer’s high — a euphoric mix of pain, confusion, determination and physical exertion that pushes the human body to its absolute limit. And according to those involved in the sport, it’s a common element of competitive swim training.

It’s also potentially fatal.

Inches beneath the surface, swimmers perform dolphin kicks at a furious pace, hoping to shave valuable seconds off the stopwatch. Limbs propel them forward with every movement as their bodies lose oxygen and replace it with carbon dioxide. When competitive swimmers subject their bodies to such punishment in practice, they are preparing for race situations, particularly the final stretch, when they need to leave everything they have in the pool.

Twenty-one-year-old Tate Ramsden presumably was involved in such training on Dec. 26. A junior on Dartmouth College’s swimming and diving team, Ramsden, accompanied by family members, stopped at a YCMA pool in Sarasota, Fla., for a workout. According to an incident report by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Ramsden attempted what many in the swimming world call a “100” — swimming four 25-meter lengths of a pool without coming up for air — late in his training session. According to police, Ramsden’s family noticed the veteran swimmer unresponsive at the bottom of the pool. Lifeguards on duty performed CPR after Ramsden was removed from the water, but it was too late. By the time police arrived on the scene, attempts to revive Ramsden had proven unsuccessful.

Sarasota County officials say autopsy results won’t be ready for months, but researchers familiar with swimming-related deaths see the telltale signs of “shallow water blackout” — a type of drowning triggered by holding one’s breath under water. Occurring when a swimmer loses consciousness underwater due to a prolonged buildup of carbon dioxide in the body, shallow water blackout, also known as hypoxic blackout, has taken enough swimmers’ lives to prompt watchdog organizations to mount public education campaigns about its dangers.

For competitive swimmers and coaches, the risk of shallow water blackout presents a dilemma.

Underwater swimming is part of competitive swimming, and underwater training is a key component of preparing for competition. Swimmers and their coaches may be tempted to push the limits of underwater training, particularly at advanced levels, but doing so places the swimmers at greater risk of shallow water blackout. More likely, athletes seeking a competitive edge might feel pressured to perform hypoxic — or underwater — drills outside of practice, putting themselves at even greater risk.

In a swimming culture that celebrates the achievements of Olympians Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, two famously strong underwater swimmers, training beneath the surface has become even more prevalent, and some say the competitive swimming establishment hasn’t done enough to educate athletes about its dangers.

“I don’t believe (current education) is adequate because we keep having problems,” said Neal Pollock, research director at Divers Alert Network and a senior research associate in anesthesiology at the Duke University Medical Center who has studied the effects of hypoxic training and hypoxic blackout. “We’ve known about this for nearly 60 years. This is not a surprise.”

In 2012, Bob Bowman, Arizona State University’s swimming coach famous for training Phelps, lost 14-year-old Louis Lowenthal when the talented swimmer was found unconscious at the bottom of a Baltimore pool. He was taken to the hospital suffering cardiac arrest and died three days later.

Lowenthal’s death, which the autopsy report determined to be caused by complications of partial drowning, was one of the first incidents of shallow water blackout to attract public attention, given Bowman’s status among Olympic swim coaches. Since then, Bowman has been a vocal advocate for spreading the word about hypoxic training and its dangers.

“Only accomplished swimmers can get themselves in a state where this happens,” Bowman said during a speech to the American Swimming Coaches Association a year after Lowenthal’s death, urging his fellow coaches to be more vigilant. “This doesn’t happen to weak swimmers. This doesn’t happen to recreational swimmers. They can’t work hard enough and drive their CO2 levels down enough to make this happen. The typical victims of shallow water blackout are Navy SEALS, deep divers and elite swimmers.”

In the speech, Bowman noted overhearing several adult, post-graduate swimmers during a training session in Colorado Springs bragging about how far they could go before coming up for air.

“Oh, I can go 75 (meters) underwater,” the first swimmer said.

“Can you go 100?” another responded. “Let’s see if you can go 100.”

Bowman stopped the athletes and shared his experience with Lowenthal and shallow water blackout. “Every one of them thanked me,” he said. “They said, ‘We had no idea.’ ”

“(Swimming coaches) don’t want to change their training methods,” said Tom Griffiths, founder of the Aquatic Safety Research Group at Pennsylvania State University. “Coaches have often told me in my facilities, ‘Don’t tell me how to coach. I don’t tell you how to run your pool.’

“If Bob Bowman can lose one of his swimmers to shallow water blackout, they all can.”

That leaves difficult questions for people involved in the sport: How much and what type of underwater training will prepare swimmers for competition but not place them at risk? Should hypoxic training be taken out of training regimens altogether? How can coaches keep athletes from pursuing extreme hypoxic laps on their own?

The questions are so delicate that some coaches are uncomfortable discussing the topic.

“They are all doing it,” Griffiths said. “And they don’t want to be sued when they kill someone.”

A Competitive Advantage

Swimming underwater is an integral part of racing for a simple reason: It offers a competitive advantage.

“Swimmers travel faster underwater. There’s less friction,” Carter Community Building Association’s aquatics coordinator Glenn McElroy wrote earlier this month in an email to the Valley News. “(Underwater training) has become so prevalent that swimmers are only allowed to swim 15 meters underwater at a time (one starting dive, one turn, etc.) in a race.”

Swimming underwater became so advantageous that the International Swimming Federation, the international governing body for competitive swimming commonly known as FINA, changed the rules to force athletes to perform strokes on the surface in an attempt to even the playing field — first to the breaststroke in 1956, then to the backstroke in 1988, the butterfly in 1998 and, later on, freestyle. Now, athletes are required to come up for air 15 meters after initially entering the water — a measure known as the “15-meter rule.”

Still, coaches and athletes find hypoxic training vital in a sport where control over breathing is critical. It also theoretically increases lung capacity and trains the body to push itself while in situations of oxygen starvation.

“The goal is to get them used to not needing to breathe, to get them less dependent on breathing every stroke,” said Bob Ouellette, chairman of the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association’s swimming and diving committee and swimming coach at Hollis Brookline High School in Hollis, N.H. “It’s a little bit more difficult than you might think. The whole long, underwater-swim thing, I don’t know many coaches who do that.”

“It’s always been a part of swimming, in general,” said Jack Fabian, former swimming and diving coach at Keene State College and, more recently, resident coach for U.S. Paralympics Swimming. “We’d use it as a type of conditioning. There’s an underwater component of swimming, even more so depending on the stroke. Sixty percent of the race is underwater.

“If you’re an underwater swimmer, you can kick faster underwater than anyone can do a stroke on the surface. … It’s the fastest way to travel.”

Swimmers also might find themselves testing the limits of their underwater endurance, not just at the behest of their coaches but in response to pressure from peers — or from themselves.

Leilani King, a high school graduate from Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans, Vt., who swam several races at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center in Hartford, said she felt the pressure. Either in response to the need to compete against fellow swimmers or a desire to shave time off their results, swimmers too often discount safety concerns, she said.

“For me, I was on a team with kids from 8 to 18 years old,” King said. Now a student at Gannon University in Erie, Pa., she no longer swims competitively. “When a 10-year-old can get the length of the pool and you’re sitting at 15 (meters), you better get a length and a half. It’s kind of expected.”

Underwater swimming was not a regular part of her workouts, King said, but it was used by her coach in another way.

“That was usually our punishment,” King said. “If we weren’t doing what we were supposed to, we’d do laps underwater.”

Swimmers say the sensation is hard to describe — a mix of alerts that beg the body for air along with an adrenaline-laced determination to finish what was started.

“It’s a weird feeling,” said Lyme resident Dave Schafer, the parent of a UVAC swimmer and himself a former competitive swimmer for Florida State University. “It’s painful, but at the same time it’s sort of a rush because you know you’re going to make it to the end. In high school, we were brutal to each other. We used to drag each other down to the bottom of the pool just for fun.”

Blacking Out

Shallow water blackout occurs when an athlete becomes unconscious underwater due to rising carbon dioxide levels.

According to Shallow Water Blackout Prevention, a Georgia-based organization founded by Rhonda Milner, who lost her 25-year-old son to shallow water blackout in 2011, fatalities occur when swimmers with already-lowered carbon dioxide levels — caused by deep breathing that fools the body into thinking it has more oxygen than it actually does, known as hyperventilation — submerge themselves over extended periods of time. As swimmers hold their breath, carbon dioxide replaces oxygen. The abnormally low carbon dioxide levels suppress the body’s normal trigger — to breathe and take in more oxygen — and swimmers lose consciousness. The body subconsciously attempts to breathe, filling the lungs with water.

“When oxygen levels fall to critical levels, blackout is instantaneous and frequently occurs without warning,” according to the website. “Most of the time, underwater swimmers have no clue they are about to be rendered unconscious and that they will be vulnerable to death within minutes.”

Tracking the number of fatalities attributable to shallow water blackout is difficult.

“The frustrating thing is that this is an under-reported, under-appreciated malady,” said Griffiths, who also is vice chairman of Shallow Water Blackout Prevention. “They find water in the lungs, that’s the definition of drowning. … They don’t take into account why he’s in the water or how long he’s been in there.

“For lifeguards, it’s an extremely difficult task,” Griffiths said. “A person doing hypoxic training, chances are good they are a much better athlete than the lifeguard themselves. … Oftentimes, they’ll say (to the lifeguard on duty), ‘Listen, I’m doing some drills. Don’t come and get me.’ ”

Shallow water blackout frequently occurs during extreme training exercises among U.S. Navy SEALS and other military personnel. For deep-sea divers, prolonged underwater training is necessary, and changes in water pressure can make the risk of drowning much higher. But in training, SEALS and some other divers are accompanied by a spotter — someone who pulls them out of the water as soon as they pass out.

That’s hardly the case at pools or lakes. While lifeguards are trained to spot such situations, the response time may be too slow, particularly if a swimmer has chosen a recreational setting for underwater training.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin declared this past June to be Shallow Water Blackout Awareness Month in the Green Mountain State after Benjamin C. “Benjo” Haller, of Underhill, Vt., died of shallow water blackout while spearfishing in the Bahamas. He was 27.

“It’s really important that people wake up to this,” said Rob Sleamaker, founder of Vasa Inc., an Essex Junction, Vt.-based company that sells swim training equipment and who has become an advocate for shallow water blackout prevention nationwide. “Even though it rarely happens, it happens. And it’s completely preventable.

“All it takes is 20 to 30 seconds and you’re done.”

Training Questions

Compounding the challenge for coaches is that no consensus exists in the sport regarding the best approach to underwater training.

“We have been wrestling with hypoxic training drills for decades. We all did it in the past. We do what we have experienced,” Griffiths said. “All coaches and swimmers do it. The problem is extreme, repetitive, competitive breath-holding.

“When novice coaches ask celebrity coaches for their favorite training sets, they most often include extreme hypoxic sets. Plus, our present-day culture encourages extreme sports — deeper, longer, faster survival-type activities. I believe coaches emphasize the benefits of hypoxic training, which have not been proven, and in general don’t mention the risks.”

Some believe the answer is to ban hypoxic training at all levels. Others think the focus should be on education.

Banning hypoxic training wouldn’t stop incidents from occurring, but rather would push it underground, said Pollock, the Divers Alert Network research director.

“There is a significant risk. This is a valid problem,” he said. “That’s why, to me, you have to teach people about core physiology. People generally want to survive. If you teach them and show them why the limits will keep them safe, more often than not, they will show prudence.”

During any normal practice, competitive swimmers in training will perform underwater laps. Jim Wilson, head coach of Dartmouth’s swimming and diving team, said his team does practice hypoxic training — breath holding every five strokes or, at most, 25 meters, the length of a pool.

“We never do four laps (underwater),” said Wilson, who said he was shocked to hear what happened to Ramsden. “We’re very conservative with anything we do in the water. We want to be competitive. … But when we’re training, we never tell or even ask anyone to do something they cannot do. We wouldn’t ask any of them to do anything close to what Tate was trying to do at the end of his workout.”

“Nobody would do (four laps underwater),” said Fabian, the former Keene State coach. “Not for training, ever. … If that were part of a training regimen, for a coach that would not only be frowned upon — you’d get fired on the spot.”

Signe Linville, Colby-Sawyer College’s swimming and diving coach, said pushing hypoxic training on her athletes just isn’t worth the risk.

“I don’t practice it much with my swimmers,” said Linville, now in her second full year with the Chargers. “The most we do is 25 meters underwater. And I specifically explain to them, you need to breathe.”

Dorsi Raynolds, the competitive aquatic director for the Upper Valley Aquatic Center, questioned making a connection between competitive swimming and shallow water blackout. Because making that link would be “dangerous,” she declined to be interviewed for this story. Barbara Hummel, head coach of UVAC’s masters swim team, the UV Rays, and a former competitive swimmer herself, also declined requests for comment.

UVAC holds swimming events for different age groups, including organized competitive swimming and recreational swimming, and hosts practices for Hanover High School’s swimming team. Marauders swimming coach Ann Brechbuhl declined to comment at length for this story, but did say that the mentality toward underwater training among swimmers has changed since the 1970s and that her team doesn’t practice hypoxic training.

Brechbuhl also said she believes that educating the general public, not just lifeguards and coaches, would alert swimmers to the dangers of underwater swimming.

The NHIAA does not regulate underwater training in its Swimming and Diving Policies and Procedures handbook, nor does it mention underwater training or the dangers of shallow water blackout. Ouellette, Hollis Brookline’s swim coach, said the handbook does not tell coaches what to do in practice and that most of its rules and regulations are passed down from the National Federation of State High School Associations.

“It’s like in football,” Ouellette said. “We trust the coaches to run practices in a way that is safe.”

Shallow Water Blackout Prevention recommends one breath for every one length of the pool with significant rest in between hypoxic sets. Griffiths also said his organization recommends “breath control” rather than “breath-holding.”

But Griffiths is afraid that significant change won’t occur until competitors can resist the temptation to test themselves through extreme training.

“There’s got to be a change in mentality,” he said. “There’s got to be a change at all levels: high school, age group and college. Some programs, a typical set they’ll do is 10 individual lengths. If anyone comes up early, they start over. It’s peer pressure. It’s that challenge, that competitive element underwater. … They’ve got to stop doing that.

“People think breath-holding for time or distance is a good thing, like it’s some sort of measure of fitness,” Griffiths added. “It’s an extreme skill. We haven’t been able to break that thought process.”

But Linville and other swimming coaches have little control over what their athletes do on their own. That’s why Linville considers educating her athletes about shallow water blackout and its dangers to be part of her coaching responsibility.

“It leads me to think, like, what are we doing? Why aren’t we coaching and teaching our swimmers about the risk?” she asked.

“My job is not just to make kids faster. It’s to teach them. … I’ve always thought about the life lessons you learn through swimming. … I take it very seriously.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at

Feb 8 16

Rio 2016: McEvoy prepares to defy sprinters’ history

by ZwemZa
Cameron McEvoy completed the sprint double by winning the men’s 50m freestyle event at the final day of the Aquatic Super Series in Perth.

Cameron McEvoy completed the sprint double by winning the men’s 50m freestyle event at the final day of the Aquatic Super Series in Perth.

What Cameron McEvoy needs to do now is avoid the fate of the previous two Australian sprinters who began the Olympic year as the fastest 100m freestylers in the world but left the Games without a gold medal.

Both Eamon Sullivan in 2008 and James Magnussen in 2012 endured the bitter experience of setting the world alight early in the year but being relegated to silver in the Olympic final.

McEvoy, 21, became this year’s early pacesetter for the Olympic gold medal when he clocked a personal best of 47.56sec on Friday night at the Aquatic Super Series in Perth.

Only two men have ever gone faster in a textile swimsuit, Magnussen (47.10sec) and 2012 Olympic champion Nathan Adrian (47.52sec).

But McEvoy, a physics student, is mindful of history and is not making any assumptions about where his current form may lead later in the year.

Logically, he would expect to swim faster still at the Australian Olympic trials in April when he is fully rested but the pressure of having to qualify for the Olympics in a sudden-death race sometimes constrains even the best athletes.

If he doesn’t improve at the trials, there is still some chance that the marker he laid down in Perth will remain the benchmark until the Olympics, and he will enter the Games as the No 1 ranked athlete.

That pressure has crushed the hopes of previous men in that position but both McEvoy and his coach Richard Scarce are confident he now has the experience to deal with that situation if it eventuates. “If that is the case, I will have plenty of time to prepare mentally for that,’’ McEvoy said.

“I will talk to some other people who have been in that situation and I will talk to my Mum (who is a psychologist) about how to deal with it.’’

“ But I think there will be a few people around the world who will want to make a statement to the rest of the world between now and then. A lot can happen.’’

“Brent Hayden (the Canadian who won the 2007 world 100m freestyle title) sent me a congratulations message yesterday and he said: ‘Expect nothing, prepare for everything in the Olympic year’. I think that’s good advice and that’s what I’m going to do.’’

McEvoy may now have a target on his back but he said his weekend’s work, in which he won the 50m/100m/200m freestyle treble and set personal best times for both the 50m and 100m, was reassuring for him and his coach.

“This weekend gave both of us confidence that we are doing the right thing in training and we have been doing the right thing for a number of years,’’ he said.

Scarce said he believed McEvoy had been ready to swim 47.5sec for two years but it had taken him time to put the race together in competition.

“He was well due for this and I think there’s more to come,’’ Scarce said.

“He’s jumped to a new level in the consistency of his training. He’s very determined to piece everything together well this year.’’

McEvoy was almost two seconds ahead of dual world champion Magnussen in Perth, underlining how far the former world No 1 still has to come to recover fully from his shoulder reconstruction last June.

But national head coach Jacco Verhaeren said Magnussen could still be ready for the Olympic trials and the Games.

“He still has quite a lot of time to sharpen up and get back into his old rhythm,’’ Verhaeren said.

The head coach also praised the performance of teenage breaststroker Georgia Bohl, who made her senior team debut in Perth and set personal best times in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke.

Bohl’s rise could potentially plug a weakness in the women’s 4x100m medley relay team and turn it into a gold medal contender in Rio, given Australia already has world-class backstroke, butterfly and freestyle sprinters.

Nicole Jeffery

Feb 8 16

Verhaeren shuns medal hype

by ZwemZa
Jacco Verhaeren

Jacco Verhaeren

Hopes of an Australian swimming gold rush at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics are rising, but don’t expect head coach Jacco Verhaeren to join in the predictions.

A strong performance at the world championships in Kazan last year had the Dolphins pencilled in to produce seven golds of a forecast 13 for Australia at the 2016 Games.

Verhaeren hoped they would improve on the disastrous London campaign when the team took home just one relay gold, but wasn’t buying into numbers.

“Let other people do the talking and let us do our job,” he said.

“We never predict medals for the simple fact no one can.

“I think everybody will understand what is a good result and what isn’t a good result.

“I’m not working with statistics, I’m working with people and it is good for us to really stay in that process.

“It seems to work out pretty well, so I’m confident we can do that.”

The Dolphins completed another successful Aquatic Super Series at HBF Stadium on Saturday night, taking out the team points race for a fourth straight year ahead of Japan and China.

Cameron McEvoy, who had an underwhelming world championships last year, starred, posting personal bests in the 100m and 50m freestyle and also comfortably taking out the 200m on the way to being named male swimmer of the meeting.

“It’s not the first time he swims fast but to do it now and here is pretty special,” Verhaeren said. “Still, the Games are pretty far away, anything can happen in between, so I think he has to take it step by step.”

Sprint rival James Magnussen, who was absent from last year’s world titles, continued his steady progress back from shoulder surgery. Cate Campbell took out the 50m and 100m freestyle double and declared herself fitter, stronger and healthier than 12 months ago when she, too, was recovering from shoulder surgery.

The trio represent significant upside for Australia in Brazil, given gold medal forecasts have been based on the outstanding Kazan results of teammates Mitch Larkin, Emily Seebohm and Bronte Campbell, who are still strong contenders. Verhaeren said he was very happy with the way his team had performed over the two nights in Perth and had no major concerns just two months out from trials.

Brianna Throssell, Brisbane-based Tommaso D’Orsogna and young gun Tamsin Cook appear to be WA’s best hopes of making the Olympic team.

Bridget Lacy

Feb 7 16

Bosch stars as Michigan sweep Michigan State

by ZwemZa
Dylan Bosch

Dylan Bosch

The No. 3-ranked University of Michigan men’s swimming and diving team capped off another undefeated season — its fifth in a row as a program — downing Michigan State, 173-93, on Saturday (Feb. 6) inside Canham Natatorium. Junior Jason Chen was one of nine different Wolverines to win an individual event, taking first in the 50-yard backstroke (22.20) and 100-yard individual medley (49.41).

With championships coming up and rest for most setting in, the team used the meet as a chance to try different combinations on relays and put swimmers in events they do not normally swim. Among those included a foursome in the 100-yard freestyle: sophomores Evan White (44.38), Tristan Sanders (44.85) and Aaron Whitaker (45.19) and junior Chris Klein (45.65). Senior Dylan Bosch also switched things up, winning the 500-yard freestyle (4:24.09), finishing just below the NCAA ‘B’ standard for that event.

Other swimmers looked right at home in their specialized events. Sophomore Ian Rainey (3:53.09) and senior Will Raynor (4:00.84) went 1-2 in the 400-yard IM, senior Paul Corbae won the 200-yard breaststroke (2:06.19), and fifth-year senior Jeremy Raisky hammered out a win in the 50-yard butterfly (21.46).

Senior Matt McNamara got his hand on the wall ahead of MSU’s Alec Kandt in the 50-yard breaststroke (25.77 to 25.86) in one of the more exciting races of the afternoon. Other individual event winners included senior/junior Luke Papendick in the 200-yard backstroke (1:47.16) and sophomore Aaron Whitaker in the 200-yard butterfly (1:50.54).

The Wolverines also won all three relays, two of which were made up entirely of seniors. Peter Brumm, McNamara, Bosch and Anders Lie Nielsen were on the 400-yard medley relay (3:14.89), while Kyle Dudzinski, Raisky, Aaron Ghiglieri and Nielsen made up the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:22.58). U-M also swam the 800-yard freestyle relay for the first time this season. Comprising that team was sophomore PJ Ransford, senior Nick Killeen and freshman Kai Williams and Mokhtar Al-Yamani (6:37.94).

In the diving well, sophomore Collin DeShaw finished second on both one-meter (295.42) and three-meter (283.65).

The Wolverines now ready themselves for the postseason, which begins in three weeks at the Big Ten Championships (Feb. 24-27 at Purdue). Before that, the men’s and women’s teams will put up select swimmers at the Michigan First Chance Meet, which runs next Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 13-14) at Canham Natatorium. The races will begin at 11 a.m. each day.


Feb 7 16

Swimming Australia boss criticises handling of London 2012 Olympics scandals ahead of Rio 2016

by ZwemZa
Critical of previous regime ... Swimming Australia president John Bertrand. (AAP: Sam D'Agostino)

Critical of previous regime … Swimming Australia president John Bertrand. (AAP: Sam D’Agostino)

Four years ago the headlines painted a picture of a dysfunctional Australian Olympic swim team, beset by drug and bullying scandals, and under-performing in the pool.

Now Swimming Australia’s (SA) president John Bertrand has criticised the sport’s previous administrators’ response to the London scandals, saying too much pressure was put on the swimmers.

Star sprinter James Magnussen labelled the scandals a “storm in a teacup”, especially compared to the off-the-pitch stories coming out of the NRL and AFL.

Swimming has since undergone a complete overhaul behind the scenes: 80 per cent of the administration is new since London, in what the SA president calls a “revolution”.

Bertrand now says the organisation’s response to the troubles in 2012 was a mistake.

“Would we do that again? You’d have to say no. You’d have much more preparation in terms of how you’d say something like that to the world,” he said.

“[There was] a lot of publicity about it and the press fed on it. Looking back on it, you shake your head at it and say it could have been handled better in terms of the response of Swimming Australia to the media.”

Did he think there was too much pressure put on those swimmers?

“There was enormous pressure. Absolutely enormous. And it was unfair in many ways,” he said.

He did not elaborate on what he thought were the mistakes.

With six months to go until Rio, swimmers and administrators say the team’s so-called ‘toxic culture’ is well and truly in the past.

[There was] a lot of publicity about it and the press fed on it. Looking back on it, you shake your head at it and say it could have been handled better in terms of the response of Swimming Australia to the media. Swimming Australia boss John Bertrand

Star swimmer Cate Campbell, a member of the team’s leadership group, said the label that stuck post-London was not fair.

“This team is the best team I’ve been part of, and I’ve been part of many Australian swim teams,” she said.

“No one’s perfect and we’ve definitely cleaned up our act since then but ‘toxic’ was a little bit harsh. Things were blown out of proportion I personally had a really great time in London.

“Having said that, perhaps it wasn’t bad there was a review and there have been real changes made.”

James Magnussen says the Stillnox scandal that beset the London 2012 team was a 'storm in a teacup'. (Reuters: Tim Wimborne)

James Magnussen says the Stillnox scandal that beset the London 2012 team was a ‘storm in a teacup’. (Reuters: Tim Wimborne)

Magnussen: 2012 scandals were ‘a storm in a teacup’

It is a long way from the famous media conference after the pre-Games camp, where Magnussen and team-mates were paraded for a public mea culpa for misusing a prescription drug in a bonding exercise in a pre-Games camp.

The team went on to post its worst results in nine Olympiads. After the Games, two internal reports slammed the team, citing incidents of drunkenness, bullying, pranks, and famously branding the culture “toxic”.

Magnussen said the whole thing was “a storm in a teacup, really”.

“If we’d had a couple of extra golds people wouldn’t even be thinking about it,” he said.

“But I think people are looking for excuses for why the team as a whole didn’t perform the way some expected.

“But whilst they say it was a toxic culture there were great relationships forged in that team and everyone got along really well. I think that’s the same this year – everyone gets along really well and hoping for a successful Olympics.”

Asked whether people will think he is not taking the matters like prescription drug use and pranking seriously enough, he said: “A lot of that has been blown out of proportion.”

“The story itself seems to get greater, more distorted every time it’s told … there’s a lot worse things that go on every day,” he said.

“Just read the papers and look what goes on in NRL and AFL. I’m really not too concerned about that, that’s been put to rest.”

Bertrand said Magnussen has his support.

“I think for someone like James (that response is about) getting on with his life,” Bertrand said.

Australian Swimming head coach Jacco Verhaeren. (AAP Image: Dave Hunt)

Australian Swimming head coach Jacco Verhaeren. (AAP Image: Dave Hunt)

New coach instilling values in team

At training ahead of last weekend’s Perth Aquatic Super Series, it was a relaxed scene. Swimmers joked with each other, as genial Dutchman Jacco Verhaeren wandered the pool deck.

With an enviable track record in his native Netherlands, he has instilled a calm core of confidence in the team, resulting in remarkable performances in the Commonwealth Games, Pan Pacifics and world championships since he took on the role.

He is the man behind a new approach to the swimmers – instead of a finger-waving approach, the swimmers are being taught to take responsibility for themselves.

We can’t keep dragging along with the story as such. I think we turn the page and we’re ready for the Olympics. Jacco Verhaeren

No rules – around alcohol, social media, or anything else – just guidelines, and an onus on personal responsibility.

“I must say since I’ve been here and that’s again been since Jan 2014 I haven’t had one bad experience in the team whatsoever,” Verhaeren said.

“We can’t keep dragging along with the story as such. I think we turn the page and we’re ready for the Olympics.”

'Blown out of proportion' ... Cate Campbell. (Getty Images: Paul Kane)

‘Blown out of proportion’ … Cate Campbell. (Getty Images: Paul Kane)

Review was needed, says Leisel Jones

One former team-mate veteran of four campaigns, gold-medallist Leisel Jones, agreed the review was needed.

“I think having a pretty brutal look at yourself after London 2012 was something that … helped create a shift in the team and make sure they look at [its] culture,” Jones said.

“It really had to happen; it went toxic pretty quickly so they’ve done a really great job … you can’t do any of that without the team wanting to do it.

“The culture has done a complete 180 since London 2012. It was probably the worst it could have been.

“Even [since the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014] they’ve looked like a completely different team. They’ve really worked hard, they’re really starting to gel and looking like the team was in 2000.

“They’ve certainly got their heads screwed on properly.”

Analysis from Mary Gearin

“Storm in a teacup”: it’s language well-short of manicured media training. They are, instead, the words of a frustrated sportsperson, who feels unfairly tainted by old news.

His seniors and coaches are urging him to move on, to simply concentrate on his fitness and Olympic build-up. And it’s from that place that James Magnussen spoke when asked how felt about it all, looking back at a time of scandal. It all seems so long ago to him – and since then we’ve had AFL and NRL scandals in relatively high rotation.

Fairly or unfairly, swimming comes under its most intense spotlight every four years: with each Olympics. So swimmers aren’t afforded the quick-cycle image rehabilitation available to NRL or AFL players or officials, who can sin, repent, do the time and be back to flog products in the space of a season.

It may be that other swimmers, who spoke to investigators of the “lonely” London campaign, the bullying, the pranks, will take a different attitude towards “moving on” than Magnussen, especially if they considered their own Olympic campaigns compromised by the team culture.

It’s worth noting that Cate Campbell said the same as Magnussen, albeit more diplomatically.

John Bertrand, though, suggests the problems should be lifted from the swimmers’ shoulders and laid at the feet of their managers.

Spot-fires weren’t addressed, personalities not well managed – conclusions drawn by the sport’s own internal reviews. In speaking out, he wants to spare Magnussen, and the whole team, a re-trial of old crimes, just six months out from a new campaign.

Is it spin, or simply survival, to say, ‘we’ve moved on’? When does the arc of public rehabilitation for a sportsman run its course? How much of it is about language?

The bottom line must be, has the culture actually changed? Those within and outside the team say it has.

The mantra of ‘values’, as opposed to rules, is about treating swimmers like grown-ups, which Campbell says she finds ‘liberating’. It’s on this more mature outlook the administrators are depending for team cohesion and success.

And if Rio rains gold medals, you can be sure the storm clouds of London will seem very far away.

Mary Gearin


Feb 7 16

SA Grand Prix in Durban concludes on high note

by ZwemZa
Tatjana Schoenmaker (sascoc)

Tatjana Schoenmaker (sascoc)

Chad le Clos, Cameron van der Burgh and Tatjana Schoenmaker produced a thrilling final day to the Durban leg of the SA Swimming Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon.

Le Clos’ golden time of 1:47.54 saw him claim the top spot in the 200m freestyle race, over two seconds ahead of his competitors. The silver medal went to Egypt’s Marwan Elcamash in 1:50.36, with the bronze going to Calvyn Justus in 1:50.58.

Later on in the day, Justus went two better in the 50m backstroke, winning the gold in 26.76 ahead of Neil de Villiers in 26.81 and Jacques van Wyk in 27.12.

Olympian Van der Burgh took the honors in the 100m breaststroke in 1:01.48, while Jarred Crous came second in 1:02.33 and Michael Houlie third in 1:03.98.

The trio of Schoenmaker, Kaylene Corbett and Hanim Abrahams dominated the 50 and 200m breaststroke races when they claimed the first three positions, with Schoenmaker touching the wall ahead of Corbett and Abrahams in both events.

TuksSwimming’s Schoenmaker clocked 32.16 and 2:28.98 to Corbett’s 32.64 and 2:36.18 and Abrahams’ 33.83 and 2:38.73 respectively.

Jessica Ashley-Cooper and Nathania van Niekerk were the silver and bronze duo in the 100m backstroke and 50m butterfly, clocking 1:02.47 and 27.35 and 1:03.93 and 28.65 respectively.

The gold in the 100m backstroke went to Mariella Venter in 1:02.13, while the 50m butterfly win was claimed by Vanessa Mohr in 27.01.

Karin Prinsloo

Karin Prinsloo

The gold in the 100m freestyle was claimed by Karin Prinsloo in 57.00, with Samantha Labuschagne finishing second in 59.43 and Gabi Grobler third in 59.60.

In the 400m freestyle, 15 year old Kate Beavon scooped yet another gold medal in 4:24.82 ahead of Charlise Oberholzer in 4:26.43 and Rebecca Meder in 4:27.87 and also added a silver medal to her tally in the 400m individual medley in 5:01.05, while Meder won the event in 5:00.85.

Rene Warnes walked away with the 200m butterfly title in 2:14.96, while Tarryn Els finished second in 2:19.85 and Kristin Bellingan third in 2:22.64.

In the 50m freestyle, Douglas Erasmus’ fast time of 22.83 secured him the gold medal ahead of Zane Waddell in 23.31 and Caydon Muller in 23.43.

In the 100m butterfly, Alard Basson claimed the top spot in 54.67, ahead of Brendan Levy in 56.87 and Robin Raven in 57.59, while Jarryd Baxter won the 200m individual medley in 2:06.10 to Dayne Odendaal’s 2:07.74 and Serbia’s Aleksa Bobar in 2:08.75.

In the 1500m freestyle, Matthew Meyer won the gold in 15:23.08, while Brent Szurdoki finished second in 15:37.41 and Roberto Gomes third in 16:17.04.

Skurdoki also finished with the silver in the 200m backstroke in 2:05.23 ahead of Daniel Anderson in 2:11.32 and behind Ruan Rass in 2:05.19

Results SA Grand Prix Durban – Day 2

The remaining legs of the SA Swimming Grand Prix will be held as follows:

  • Port Elizabeth, Newton Park Swimming Pool : 19 – 20 February 2016
  • Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch University Swimming Pool : 26 – 28 February 2016


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