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Oct 21 16

Fast times in Manguang as Team SA continues to dominate

by ZwemZa

The fast times and impressive performances continued to come South Africa’s way on the fifth day of the 12th CANA African Swimming Championships at the Stadium Swimming Pool in Mangueng.

Full Meet Results

It was a fight to the finish in the 100m backstroke, where Team SA’s Jacques van Wyk came from behind to take the gold in 56.50, with Egypt’s Mohamed Samy claiming the silver in 57.31 and Team SA’s Neil de Villiers the bronze in 57.43.

Eben Vorster cruised to the gold medal in the 200m butterfly, posting a fast 2:01.03, while Egypt’s Ahmed Hamdy finished second in 2:03.27 and Algeria’s Lounis Khendriche third in 2:03.48.

The long distance 1500m freestyle title went to Brent Szurdoki in 15:37.65, over ten seconds ahead of Egypt’s Marwan Elamrawy in 15:48.33 and teammate Josh Dannhauser in 16:00.17.

14 year old Rebecca Meder made it to the top of the medal podium once again, this time in the 200m individual medley in a golden 2:20.37 ahead of Algeria’s Rania Hamida Nefsi in 2:22.16 and Egypt’s Rowaida Hesham in 2:22.38.

Algeria’s Amel Melih, Egypt’s Rowan Badry and Seychelles’ Alexus Laird grabbed the medals in the 50m freestyle in 26.72, 27.02 and 27.03, respectively, making it the first race of the competition not to feature any SA swimmers on the podium.

Mariella Venter, Alaric Basson, Alard Basson and Gabi Grobler were victorious in the newly added 4 x 100m medley mixed relay in 3:59.28 ahead of the Egyptian team in 4:06.13 and Algeria in 4:18.61.

The final day of the swimming programme will be held Saturday with the heats starting at 10h00, while the finals will begin at 16h00.

The 12th CANA African Swimming Championships will conclude with the Open Water competition, which will take place on Sunday, 23rd October at Maselspoort Dam, from 11h00.

Medal rankings (after day 05):

Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
South Africa 27 13 10 50
Algeria 5 5 5 15
Egypt 2 16 15 33
Seychelles 1 1 1 3
Morocco 0 0 2 2
Senegal 0 0 1 1

 Supplied by SSA


Oct 20 16

Stormy weather doesn’t dampen Team SA efforts in Mangueng

by ZwemZa
Myles Brown (Gallo Images)

Myles Brown (Gallo Images)

With 5 gold medals out of 6 races and two Championship Records, the fourth day of the 12th CANA African Senior Swimming Championships in a very rainy Mangueng, concluded on a high note for  Team SA on Thursday evening.

Full Meet Results

Myles Brown got the ball rolling when he broke Troyden Prinsloo’s twelve year standing Championship Record in the 400m freestyle, clocking 3:54.80 to the 2004 time of 3:57.30. Egypt’s Marwan Elamrawy finished second in 3:56.45 and Algeria’s Lounis Khendriche third in 4:02.15.

Ayrton Sweeney and Alaric Basson claimed the top two positions in the 200m breaststroke in 2:16.96 and 2:20.82, respectively, while Egypt’s Hassan Yasser walked away with the bronze in 2:21.17.

In the 100m breaststroke, Kaylene Corbett added another gold medal to her tally when she finished the race in 1:11.81. Team SA’s Hanim Abrahams followed with the silver in 1:12.35 and Egypt’s Mai Atef with the bronze in 1:12.49.

Nathania van Niekerk’s quick start won her the gold in the 100m butterfly in 1:02.61 with Egypt’s Mariam Sakr and Rowaida Hesham claiming the silver and bronze in 1:03.11 and 1:03.23, respectively.

Algeria’s Souad Nefissa Cheroua won the long distance 800m freestyle final, touching the wall in 9:10.29 ahead of Egypt’s Reem Kassem in 9:13.95 and Team SA’s Michelle Weber in 9:15.89.

To end off the evening finals, the South African quartet of Brown, Douglas Erasmus, Eben Vorster and Calvyn Justus were simply unstoppable in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay, breaking the six year standing Championship Record in a new time of 3:22.76 to the 2010 time of 3:23.99. The Egyptian team finished over three seconds behind the South Africans in 3:25.52, followed by Senegal in 3:39.50.

The day 05 heats will start at 10h00, while the finals will begin at 16h00 daily.

Medal rankings (after day 04):

Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
South Africa 22 13 8 43
Algeria 4 4 3 11
Egypt 2 11 14 27
Seychelles 1 1 0 2
Morocco 0 0 2 2
Senegal 0 0 1 1


Oct 20 16

Fina Swimming World Cup key to Singapore’s SEA Games preparations, says Gary Tan

by ZwemZa
Assistant national swim coach Gary Tan speaking to media at the OCBC Aquatic Centre during a screening of Joseph Schooling’s 100m butterfly race at the Rio Olympics on Aug 13, 2016.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Assistant national swim coach Gary Tan speaking to media at the OCBC Aquatic Centre during a screening of Joseph Schooling’s 100m butterfly race at the Rio Olympics on Aug 13, 2016.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The Kuala Lumpur SEA Games may still be 10 months away, but Singapore swimming’s bid for glory after its record 23-gold haul at last year’s edition begins this week.

A total of 29 national swimmers, including gold medallists Amanda Lim and Roanne Ho, have been pencilled in for the Singapore leg of the Fina/airweave Swimming World Cup that starts tomorrow.

Assistant national head coach Gary Tan said that while no medal targets have been set for the Singapore swimmers, the two-day meet presented by Yakult was a good chance for them to “compete at a high level while in the training phase”.

He said: “We’ve come through a heavy week for a lot of us in the national training centre, so I think it’s a good opportunity for them to race against the world’s best swimmers.”

Some of the sport’s biggest international stars will compete at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, including Olympic champions Katinka Hosszu of Hungary, Australian Kyle Chalmers, and South African Chad le Clos.

Although Tan named Singapore swimmers Pang Sheng Jun and Danny Yeo as possible medal contenders at the world event, he insisted the ultimate goal was using it as preparation for the Aug 19-31 Games in Malaysia.

“In the long run, it’ll give us an indicator of how well they are training and we can identify specifically what we need to work on…” he said.

“Last week, we did physical tests to gauge where the swimmers are at in terms of fitness, so this is really a good phase for us to understand how competitive we can be over the next few months.”

Pang is confident of putting up a good performance at the World Cup, revealing that he feels “really good” coming into the competition.

The 24-year-old holds the national short course records for the 400m individual medley (4min 14.36sec) and 1,500m freestyle (15min 7.87sec) and is looking to better those marks this week.

“I never want to set goals which are outcome-based, because that only adds pressure to myself,” said Pang, who will also compete in the 100m IM.

“I just want to swim my best time and if that brings a medal then I’ll be happy, but if it doesn’t it’s still a good time to me.”


Oct 20 16

Different focus for South African swim star Schoeman

by ZwemZa
MENTOR: Former Olympic gold medallist and world champion Roland Schoeman (above, left), conducting a swim clinic at the Hougang Swimming Complex yesterday.

MENTOR: Former Olympic gold medallist and world champion Roland Schoeman (above, left), conducting a swim clinic at the Hougang Swimming Complex yesterday.

He was part of the team that won the 4x100m freestyle relay at the Athens 2004 Olympics, the first time South African male swimmers captured gold at the Games.

While his younger teammates like Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh begin to chart their path towards Tokyo 2020, Roland Schoeman is unclear if he will work towards a fifth Olympics.

The 36-year-old, who will be competing in the Singapore leg of the Fina/airweave Swimming World Cup 2016 presented by Yakult tomorrow and on Saturday, will take two years off swimming, starting in 2017, possibly to enrol in studies to become a chiropractor.

“I have a scholarship that I can take up either at the beginning or middle of next year, and I am seriously considering it,” said the former world champion, after a clinic with about 40 swimmers from Swimdolphia Aquatic and SportCares yesterday at the Hougang Swimming Complex.

“I am at that point in my career where I have been training so hard for so long that it’s going to be nice to take a step back.

“I still want to stay fit, in shape and conditioned. I don’t want to stay away from swimming completely.

“Look at a guy like (35-year-old Olympic champion) Anthony Ervin – he took a long time away from the sport, and he still came back and was still successful.”

While there is speculation that le Clos might move to the United States to train, following his recent split with long-time coach Graham Hill, Schoeman believes the former Olympic champion will remain in South Africa.

Talking of his countryman, Schoeman said: “I think now is as good a time as any for Chad, but I don’t necessarily believe he will go to America.

“He is a very family-oriented guy and my understanding is that he will probably move to Cape Town and have his family based there as well.”

Asked if he had spoken to le Clos about his 100m butterfly final loss to Singapore’s Joseph Schooling at the Rio Olympics in August, Schoeman half-joked: “No, no, I think that’s a very, very sore subject (for Chad).

“But I think Chad knows that even if he had swum at his very best, he wasn’t going to beat Joseph.

“That is testament of who Joseph is and the swimming he has done.”

As for Schoeman, winning races is no longer his sole focus.

“The last time I swam the World Cup was in 2014, and I missed the opportunity last year as I was focused so much on the Olympics,” said the freestyle and butterfly sprinter, who missed out on making a fifth Olympics this year. “All of a sudden, you realise that there’s more to life than just winning a gold medal.

“Now I appreciate the fact that there’s more than just the racing – there’s the interaction, the building of friendships and contacts and the sight-seeing… hopefully, I can impart some knowledge and wisdom, and motivate swimmers today not to take things for granted.”

Lim Sey Heng

Oct 20 16

Swimming Australia reduces national trials to five days

by ZwemZa
Jacco Verhaeren (Alex Ellinghausen)

Jacco Verhaeren (Alex Ellinghausen)

Swimming Australia has broken with tradition by reducing next year’s national team trials from eight days to five, eliminating semi-finals to put more pressure on swimmers to perform in both heats and finals.

Since former head coach Don Talbot took the reins in 1988, the Australian championships have always mimicked the format of the major international championship of the year so that the national team contenders could practice competing in the international format.

However, national coach Jacco Verhaeren said yesterday that he did not believe that ­practice was preparing the ­swimmers for the competition they would face at international level.

He said the national team coaches wanted to trial this new format to see if it would produce more hardened competitors.

“We don’t have the depth to have making semi-finals a real challenge for the top athletes, so we want to put more pressure on the heats,’’ he said.

The new format will require swimmers to set one of the top eight times of the heats to ­progress to the final and then ­finish in the top two to secure a place in the national team for the world championships in Budapest next July.

The Olympic and world championships format is held over eight days and includes semi-finals for all events up to 200m in distance.

The decision to try a new trials format was made even before the Rio Olympics, where the Australian team won three gold medals but fell well short of its potential after going into the Games with eight No 1 world rankings.

After Rio, there were calls for Australia to adopt the US system of late trials (just a month before the Olympics) but Verhaeren rejects the notion that it is the timing of the Australian trials that affected the team performance.

Verhaeren suspects that the current focus on producing a strong team result at a major championship every year (Olympics, Commonwealth Games and world championships) is leaving leading swimmers fatigued at the end of the four-year cycle.

He wants to remove the emphasis on annual performance in favour of a four-year cycle building up to the Olympics.

Verhaeren is also keen to experiment with preselection of leading athletes for the national team, if not next year, then certainly for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.

The head coach has spent the past month touring the country conducting debriefs with the 19 coaches who contributed athletes to the Olympic team and said decisions would be made on the future competition calendar and allocation of podium centre funding over the next month.

Several leading swimmers are also considering their futures for the next Olympiad.

Olympic ­finalists Tom Fraser-Holmes and Travis Mahoney are trialling with new coaches before deciding on their future direction.

Fraser-Holmes, currently with Denis Cotterell on the Gold Coast, will trial with Tracey Menzies in Canberra, Vince ­Raleigh in Brisbane and Chris Nesbitt and Richard Scarce on the Gold Coast.

Nicole Jeffery | The Australian

Oct 19 16

CANA 2016 : Young woman swimmers making a splash

by ZwemZa

It may still be too early to call it a revival but a crop of young female swimmers are showing signs of making a mark on South African swimming.

A handful of teenagers put up their hands at the African Swimming Championships and fuelling the hope that female swimming could be on the up.

A crop of young female swimmers are showing signs of making a mark on South African swimming. Photo by: Muzi Ntombela. Credit: BackpagePix

The third day of the gala was dominated by female swimmers with the 17-year-old Kaylene Corbett posting a championship record in the women’s 50m breaststroke with a time of 32.58 seconds.

Caitlin Kat won her second gold medal of the championships touching first in the 400m freestyle while rising star Mariella Venter won the 100m backstroke.

Corbett finished ahead of 14-year-old Hanim Abrahams with Egypt’s Mai Atef bagging the bronze in 33.44s.

 Venter was left heartbroken at the SA Swimming Championships in Durban where she missed Olympic qualification in the women’s 100m backstroke by 0.72 seconds.

Venter claimed the continental 100m backstroke tittle yesterday with a time of 1:02.44 touching ahead of Alexus Laird of Seychelles in 1:05.53 with Egypt’s Ingy Abouzaid taking third in 1:06.50.

Bolstered by her inclusion for her maiden world championships Venter also set her sights on next year’s long-course edition in Budapest, Hungary.

“I am looking forward to next year’s worlds and looking to post qualifying times,” Venter said.

“The Olympics came a bit early for my swimming career but qualifying for the world short-course is just putting me out there for international competition.

“That will get me into the pool with world-class swimmers and building up my experience for the 2020 Olympics.”

Kat won her second gold medal of the championships adding the 400m freestyle title to the 200m medal from the day before.

Meanwhile, Martin Binedell and Neil Fair gave South Africa a one-two finish in the 200m backstroke with the duo clocking 2:03.43 and 2:04.33 respectively.

Douglas Erasmus hit the wall first in the men’s 50m butterfly with a time in 24.33 ahead of Egypt’s Hassan Yasser in 24.64s.

Oct 19 16

South African born Kiwi, Snyders retires from swimming

by ZwemZa

The long time international swimmer Glenn Snyders has announced his retirement from the sport.

Snyders, 29, is now based in Los Angeles and is one of only four New Zealand swimmers to have competed at three Olympic Games.

Glenn Snyders

Glenn Snyders Photo: Ian MacNicol

Snyders currently holds the national records in all men’s breaststroke events, both short course and long course.

He is the only New Zealander to have gone under the minute mark in the 100m breaststroke.

Born in South Africa, Snyders moved to New Zealand when he was 12 and joined the North Shore Swimming Club and was coached by Jan Cameron, Thomas Ansorg and Mark Regan at North Shore and the Swimming New Zealand High Performance Centre before his move to California.

He is a Commonwealth Games silver medallist and won the bronze medal in the 100m breaststroke at the Pan Pacific Championship in 2014.

Snyders was also part of the New Zealand team which finished fifth in the final of the 4x100m medley relay at the Beijing Olympics.

He joins Dean Kent, Helen Norfolk and Lauren Boyle as the only New Zealand swimmers to contest three Olympics.

Snyders says while retiring was not easy decision to make he knows it’s the right one and hopes to maintain involvement with the sport.

Oct 19 16

Hong Kong Harbour Race: Second swimmer dies after event

by ZwemZa
The Hong Kong Harbour Race feautured 'racing' and 'leisure' swimmers (Getty Images)

The Hong Kong Harbour Race feautured ‘racing’ and ‘leisure’ swimmers (Getty Images)

A second swimmer has died after taking part in the Hong Kong Cross Harbour open water race.

A 59-year-old woman, with the reported surname of Cheung, was taken to hospital after being found unconscious in the water.

She was placed in intensive care at the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital.

According to the South China Morning Post, the swimmer was confirmed to have died on Monday (October 17) evening.

A 46-year-old man, whose surname has been identified in local reports as Ho, had already died.

He had been pulled from the water by a rescue team 300 metres from the finish of the gruelling 1500m event, but was unable to recover.

The incidents are the first fatalities at the race since it was reinstated in 2011 following a 30-year break caused by pollution concerns.

Around 3,000 swimmers were participating in the event on Sunday (October 16), which sees swimmers race between two piers on opposite sides of Hong Kong’s harbour.

Organisers claimed the event had sufficient lifeguards on duty and have offered their condolences to the families concerned.

“The organiser of the New World Harbour Race 2016, Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association (HKASA), and the title sponsor, New World Development Company Limited, wish to express their sincere condolences to the family of a second leisure group swimmer, who passed away in spite of attempts to resuscitate her in intensive care,” a statement read.

“HKASA and New World Development Company Limited have been in contact with the two families, and will provide them both with financial assistance and support.

“New World Development plans to set up an education fund for the two young children, provided through the New World Group Charity Foundation.”

The race is not a International Swimming Federation (FINA) organised meeting, although many of the world’s best swimmers were competing in the event which followed a Hong Kong-leg of the FINA Open Water World Cup the previous day.

Following the confirmation of the first death, FINA had stated they would conduct a thorough investigation.

“FINA is very sad to hear of the unfortunate incident which led to the death of a swimmer during the Hong Kong Cross-Harbour open water race on Sunday,” they said.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to the swimmer’s family.

“The Hong Kong Cross-Harbour open water race, which is not a FINA event, has been successfully organised for many years.

“However, as a result of this unfortunate incident, working closely with the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association and other National Federations around the world organising mass participation events, we will be conducting a thorough review of the incident and the overall safety and organisation of future outdoor mass participation events.”

Michael Pavitt


Oct 18 16

Bach confident of “significant reduction” in Tokyo 2020 costs as organisers deny events could be moved to South Korea

by ZwemZa
Thomas Bach

Thomas Bach

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach insists he is fully confident the fears over the ballooning budget of Tokyo 2020 will be unfounded and that a group involving the major stakeholders in the Games in the Japanese capital will help to bring about a “significant reduction” in costs.

Bach had a 40-minute meeting with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike today, during which it was agreed that a four-way working group, between the IOC, Tokyo 2020 and the Tokyo Metropolitan and Japanese Governments, would be established to look at the sustainability of the event.

It follows a report commissioned by Koike, which suggested a number of changes be made to the current plans for the Games, including moving rowing and canoeing 400 kilometres from the Japanese capital to the Naganuma rowing course in Tome.

It was claimed that the budget could spiral to ¥3 trillion (£22 billion/$30 billion/€26 billion), four times its initial value, unless drastic alterations, such as moving venues, are made.

“Having achieved almost $2 billion (£1.6 billion/€1.8 billion) worth of savings and by having the contribution of the IOC of about $1.7 billion (£1.4 billion/€1.5 billion), therefore I am very happy with this meeting today because we agreed to continue in this way of co-operation to make Tokyo 2020 the most sustainable and feasible Games possible,” Bach said after he met with Koike.

“The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will finalise its internal study – we will then discuss it with other stakeholders of the Olympic project including the IOC and then I am confident that you will see a significant reduction in the costs compared to what we have seen so far from the press in this interim report.”

IOC vice-president John Coates, the chairman of the Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission, claimed they “had not seen any figures” but that the numbers being reported “seem large to us”.

Both rowing and canoeing were originally due to be staged at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo but abandoning those plans was among the alterations proposed in the report.

The document sparked widespread concern among the relevant bodies, with the International Rowing Federation (FISA), the International Canoe Federation (ICF) and Tokyo 2020 all urging the original proposals to stay intact.

The respective Federations of rowing and canoeing, the sports most affected by the potential changes, have voiced their considerable concerns at holding events in Naganuma.

The ICF also swiftly rejected suggestions from the Japanese Canoe Federation that the Toda Rowing Course in neighbouring Saitama Prefecture, which played host to the sports at Tokyo 1964, could be used as an alternative.

Reports then emerged earlier today that the IOC were considering a facility in Chungju in South Korea should an agreement not be reached over where to stage the sports at the Games.

It had been reported that the Chungju Tangeum Lake International Rowing Center, a venue for the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, could step in.

This was dismissed by Tokyo 2020, however, with a spokesperson for the Organising Committee telling insidethegames that “Tokyo 2020 has never considered outside Japan for the Tokyo 2020 Games rowing and canoeing competitions”.

Bach declined to comment on reports, claiming they had only been made aware of the issue by the media.

The ICF, FISA and Tokyo 2020 have all continuously reiterated the Sea Forest venue is the best option for the two sports.

“We see that there are some ideas coming up and there are some proposals and an evaluation going on here in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and we appreciate this because it makes all the budgeting more transparent and this is what we in the IOC are interested in, to show the real costs and also the benefit of the Olympic Games,” Bach added.

“Therefore we are ready to contribute to this evaluation with our experience based on the results of previous Games and based on the reforms we undertook as part of Olympic Agenda 2020.

“I have no concerns at all.

“It is up to the Metropolitan Government to tell us when they are ready to propose the final paper to the four partite commission so it can be discussed and after this discussion we will hopefully have an agreement which is in the interests of everybody.

“I understand it needs more consultation here with the Organising Committee, with the federation and we are waiting for this – the IOC is ready today.”

Liam Morgan

Oct 18 16

Connor Jaeger back from Rio with a silver medal — but no full-time job

by ZwemZa
Connor Jaeger takes the 1650 in 14:29.27 – 2014 Men's NCAA DI Swimming & Diving Championships (courtesy of Tim Binning, theswimpictures)

Connor Jaeger takes the 1650 in 14:29.27 – 2014 Men’s NCAA DI Swimming & Diving Championships (courtesy of Tim Binning, theswimpictures)

In the weeks since the Rio de Janeiro Olympics ended, Connor Jaeger vacationed with his girlfriend in South America, moved his belongings halfway across the country in a rented truck, signed a lease for a new apartment, interviewed for a handful of jobs and threw out a ceremonial first pitch at a Detroit Tigers game. He was honored as an Olympic swimming silver medalist by both his hometown and his college alma mater, and was visited at 6:30 one morning by an anti-doping drug-tester who somehow managed to find him amid the chaos.

Pretty much the only thing he had not done in that time was swim.

When Jaeger jumped into the pool, feet-first, at the Rocky Run YMCA in suburban Philadelphia on a recent Saturday afternoon – clad in a competition swimsuit, a pair of goggles and a Team USA swim cap, and observed by 48 kids in the pool and their parents in the bleachers – it felt vaguely foreign. Since Rio, he had been in a pool exactly twice, and both times it was for one of these Fitter and Faster Tour clinics for young swimmers.

“Okay, let’s get started” he said to the 48 kids, ages 11 and under, all of whom paid at least $139 to be taught freestyle racing technique and “explosive” turns by an Olympian.

In the glow of post-Rio glory, following a dazzling performance by the U.S. swim team, its most famous members drew national headlines as they entered new chapters of their lives: Michael Phelps embracing fatherhood and retirement, Katie Ledecky starting classes at Stanford, Ryan Lochte – well, let’s just say he took a roundabout path to competing on “Dancing With the Stars.”

But for the vast majority of the 47 American swimmers – and for that matter, the 550 athletes that made up Team USA – re-entry to American life was a far less celebrated affair. And plenty of them, like Jaeger, weighed the realities of economics, physiology and time commitment – and decided, even in the prime of their athletic lives, not to spend four more years training and sacrificing.

And so, at age 25, with his silver medal in the 1,500-meter freestyle under his belt, and armed with a master’s degree in business management from Michigan and just enough fame (he hopes) to open some doors to the corporate world, Jaeger has effectively retired from competitive swimming.

“We can’t all be Michael Phelps and be set for life,” Jaeger said after his recent clinic at the YMCA. “I ended up going further with swimming than I ever thought I would. But I was always making decisions along the way where – if I stopped swimming tomorrow, and I’m not an athlete anymore, how am I going to be ready? That’s how I lived my life.”

Thus, instead of returning to Ann Arbor this fall to resume training as a post-graduate swimmer with an eye towards the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games – and piecing together, through sponsorships, appearances, stipends and bonuses, the six-figure income needed to accomplish that – Jaeger has moved, along with his girlfriend, to Hoboken, N.J., and is flinging himself into a sphere that is only slightly less cut-throat Darwinian than elite-level competitive swimming: the Manhattan real estate industry.

“I’m super-competitive, and I hate losing,” Jaeger said. “But I can direct that where I want to. I’m hoping that whatever job I get, I can channel it.”

But he also isn’t fooling himself: “The reality is, whatever I’m doing – I mean, I always loved swimming. I looked forward to going to practice in the morning, or the afternoon. That’s the one thing – I may not enjoy this next thing as much.”

– – –

How much is a single Olympic silver medal worth in real terms? Probably not as much as you think. The U.S. Olympic Committee attached a bonus of $15,000 for silver medals this summer ($25,000 for a gold), and USA Swimming tacked on another $30,000 (or $75,000 for gold) – money that will help bridge the gap during Jaeger’s transition from elite professional swimmer to ground-level corporate worker. His two major sponsorship deals, a swimwear company and a credit card, will expire at the end of the year.

The silver medal could push Jaeger into a slightly higher bracket for sponsorship earnings in future years, if he were to stick with swimming – but “it isn’t life-changing money,” Jaeger said.

“A lot of people have multiple golds. I had a silver,” he added. “I’m not downgrading that – I’m plenty, plenty proud. But in the grand scheme – who’s going on the Wheaties box? There’s only so many sponsors wanting to sign up swimmers.”

What the silver medal can do, Jaeger has found, is open doors. He is not above touting it in cover letters and résumés, and even if the medal can’t get him a plum job, it can get him into an interview – something he has discovered as he tries to sell himself to Manhattan employers ranging from banks to real-estate developers to brokerages.

“A lot of people are willing to meet with me because of my background, but from there you still have to prove yourself,” he said. “Some people are more impressed than others. [So] maybe a portion [of the interview] will be about that.

“And then they usually want to talk about Ryan Lochte.”

This was Jaeger’s plan all along: Since at least 2014, when he finished his undergraduate degree (in mechanical engineering) at Michigan, turned professional, joined a group of about 20 post-grad swimmers under Michigan Coach Mike Bottom and started graduate classes at Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

“It was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to swim for two more years, go through the Rio Olympics, and then I’ll plan on stopping,’ ” said Jaeger, who also swam the 1,500 in London in 2012, finishing sixth. “I really wanted to win a medal.”

At age 25, Jaeger wasn’t washed up as a swimmer. But in a sense, he was – at least as a distance swimmer who specializes in the 1,500. The 1,500 gold medalist in Rio this summer was Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri, who was 21. The previous six Olympic champions in the event, respectively, were 24, 24, 20, 22 and 18. Jaeger, meantime, would be 29 in Tokyo.

“I think if Connor wanted to do it, he could do it,” said his Bethesda, Maryland-based agent, David Arluck. “I don’t think he’d be out-talented in the next four years. The question becomes the commitment level.”

As his post-swimming plans crystalized, Jaeger realized he couldn’t afford to lose four more years in the corporate rat race.

“Being 25 goes both ways,” he said. “I’m still only 25, and I have time to redirect my career. But also, I’m already 25, and most of these jobs I want, you need a couple of years of work experience. The people I’m competing again, they’ve already gone through the experience of [working] for a couple of years.”

– – –

As the three-hour kids’ clinic wore on, with 2008 and 2012 Olympian Chloe Sutton helping him conduct it, Jaeger began to feel at home again in the water, even if he was only there to teach some 9- and 10-year-olds the intricacies of the six-beat kick.Connor Jaeger

“One-two-three, one-two-three,” he chanted at the side of the pool, churning his fists to imitate the rhythm of the kicks. “Straw-ber-ry, blue-ber-ry.”

From now on, the Fitter and Faster Tour, with its network of nationwide swim clinics, will be Jaeger’s primary connection to swimming. Though he has been doing these clinics for two years, he can sense the difference in the kids’ reaction now that he is a silver medalist. As he posed for pictures with the kids before it started, he wore his medal around his neck, and a handful asked to touch it. Jaeger dutifully obliged.

“We’re here to teach them and fix their strokes, but I would like to think what they’re getting out of it goes beyond that,” he said. “It’s more about seeing what someone else has done [in the sport], and seeing that it’s attainable. I hope that meeting us is the better part of the day, rather than getting help with your flip-turn. Because there are a lot of people who can help you with your flip-turn.”

Started by Arluck eight years ago as a way to create both employment and sponsorship opportunities for his clients, Fitter and Faster employs some 40 pro swimmers – the majority of them Olympians – and will run more than 200 clinics across the country in 2017.

“USA Swimming does a great job promoting the top people in the sport, which makes sense: promote the superstars,” Arluck said. “[But] the B- and C-level Olympian – there wasn’t much of a marketplace for them, until we created it. And it makes them more marketable to sponsors, because they’re out there every weekend in front of all these kids and parents.”

In 2014 and 2015, being a Fitter and Faster clinician – working perhaps one weekend per month – helped put Jaeger through grad school. Now, it is a way to stay connected to the sport he is otherwise leaving behind.

Late in the afternoon, the clinic now over, the No. 2 1,500 freestyler in the world sat on a picnic table at a playground outside the YMCA, and he recalled a conversation with his Michigan teammate Sean Ryan, also a U.S. Olympian, during Team USA’s training camp, just prior to their departure to Rio.

“I said, ‘Sean, I could go to the Olympics and swim really slow, and still have no regrets – no feeling like I still need to prove something to myself,’ ” Jaeger said. “And that’s how I feel now. Plenty of people have done greater things than me, obviously. But I feel really at peace with what I’ve done.”

The Baltimore Sun


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