For almost a year, the question was “if” Michael Phelps would return to competitive swimming.
Now that Phelps is scheduled to end his 20-month retirement Thursday in Mesa, Ariz., a more nuanced question looms: Why?
Phelps sounded fairly certain he no longer wanted to confine his life to the pool when he walked away from the sport after the 2012 Olympics. He had seemingly put the perfect exclamation point on his career, winning gold in his last race to bring his record medal haul to 22, including 18 golds.
But several longtime Phelps observers say they see an athlete who’s finally enjoying swimming on his own terms, without the pressure of outside expectations.
“I’ve never seen Michael this happy,” says former Michigan coach Jon Urbancheck, who has known Phelps since the swimmer was 11 and recently visited with him in Baltimore. “This didn’t come from his mom. It wasn’t [coach] Bob [Bowman]. This was his decision.”
Ian Crocker, one of Phelps’ greatest historic rivals, wasn’t surprised when he heard rumors of the impending return.
“Getting some time away, without the assumption he was coming back, was probably one of the best things for him mentally,” Crocker says. “My hope is that he approaches it 100 percent on his own terms and just has his laughs with it. He’s earned that.”
After the London Games, Phelps immediately transitioned to a life many men his age would envy: playing golf and high-stakes poker, watching his favorite team, the Ravens, from luxury suites, dating beautiful women. He even made an acting cameo in his favorite television drama, “Suits.”
So what drew the 28-year-old Phelps from his life of leisure back to the inglorious grind of daily practices at the Meadowbrook Aquatic Center in Mount Washington?
The immediate answer is that we don’t know. Phelps hasn’t commented since his return became official last week and doesn’t plan to speak until Wednesday.
The only detailed comments from his camp have come from Bowman, his longtime coach, who has cast Phelps’ comeback in simple terms — a master once more enjoying his art.
Bowman has brushed aside talk of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, insisting Phelps is merely testing his competitive form and has yet to design his path forward. If true, that’s a distinct shift from the past, when Phelps and Bowman mapped years-long conquests of the sport’s greatest records.
Great athletes end their retirements for any number of reasons. Some miss the adrenaline rush of competition. Some need the money. Some simply can’t figure out what else to do with their lives.
Crocker says he has often felt the urge to return since retiring after the 2008 Olympics. “It’s hard to resist chasing that thrill, once you’ve been on top of the mountain,” he says, referring to both himself and Phelps.
Several people who saw Phelps at last year’s world championships in Barcelona noted a restless fire in the swimmer’s eyes as he watched the U.S. team compete without him. He wasn’t used to being on the deck at a big meet, rather than in the water.
Urbancheck says Phelps also missed the familiar rhythms of a swimmer’s life, the camaraderie of a world he had inhabited since he was a young boy.
“I think Michael likes having that structure in his life,” the veteran coach says.
As the star of two comeback stories — one wildly successful, the other bittersweet — Michael Jordan is the modern king of the genre. The former NBA great was also Phelps’ boyhood idol.
The swimmer has long elicited comparisons to Jordan, not just for his peerless excellence but for his ability to take perceived slights and turn them into fuel for his best performances. Even Phelps’ proclivities for golf and Las Vegas card games seem taken from the Jordan playbook.
Athletes in all sports will tell you fans have it wrong when they measure careers in the language of milestones and tidy narratives. The internal focus is more on winning the next race or game, mastering the next skill. It’s how great athletes got great in the first place, and most don’t flip off the switch simply because they achieve tremendous goals.
From the outside, perhaps, Jordan authored the perfect ending when he hit the series-winning shot in the 1998 NBA Finals. But that didn’t mean the ending felt perfect to Jordan, who lived for competition and believed he could still play effectively three years later.
Some would argue Jordan tarnished his legacy by returning as a merely excellent guard in the unfamiliar jersey of the deeply mediocre Washington Wizards. Jordan has never expressed any such regrets.
Orioles great Jim Palmer attempted a comeback at age 45, the year after he’d been inducted to the Hall of Fame. He says he did it because he honestly believed he could help the Orioles. Palmer ended his quest after a rough spring training start against the Boston Red Sox, but he says he never cared if others judged the comeback a failure.
“How did anybody else really know why I was doing this?” he says. “Who is anybody to examine what Michael Phelps’ motives are? If anybody has earned the right to do whatever he wants, it’s him.”
Palmer says the process is often an internal one, driven by the athlete’s questions about what he has left.
“Life’s about setting goals and meeting challenges,” he says. Phelps “knows what he has to do. Who better to test whether he can still do it?”
Swimming commentators have scoffed at the notion Phelps might diminish his career by swimming at sub-peak form. With less than two years away from competition, he’s hardly a dinosaur, they say. Comparisons to old rival Ian Thorpe, who failed to make the Australian Olympic team in his 2012 comeback bid, are inevitable. But Thorpe had been away nearly five years.
The list of post-30 Olympic champions (Phelps would be 31 in Rio) is short. But it’s longer than the list of swimmers who have dominated the sport like Phelps. He has always thrived on reaching for the unlikely.
“My first inclination is not to put any kind of limit on what he can do,” says Phelps’ former Olympic teammate Aaron Peirsol, who will be on hand to lead a youth clinic at the meet in Mesa.
Regardless of how Phelps performs, the swimming world seems excited to have him back. He’s perhaps the only swimmer who could double ticket sales (as organizers say he has in Arizona) or generate national headlines, just by announcing he’d compete again.
There’s no indication money is a major motivator for Phelps’ comeback. But if he competes in Rio, he will extend his shelf life as a big-ticket endorser and ambassador for swimming, says Bob Dorfman, creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco.
“It obviously makes a lot of difference when you’re still top of the mind with consumers,” Dorfman says. “It could be worth millions of dollars to him to compete.”
Phelps’ presence would also guarantee greater attention on swimming, an appealing notion for an athlete who has always said he wants to change the sport.
A looser approach
It’s easy to forget, given the four gold medals he won in London, but Phelps’ commitment to swimming wavered in the years leading up to the 2012 Olympics.
He talked of walking away in 2009 because of the intense scrutiny he endured when a photo surfaced of him lifting a marijuana pipe to his lips. A once-relentless trainer, Phelps barely practiced some weeks, leaving Bowman frustrated and concerned that his star pupil might be headed for an Olympic embarrassment.
When he announced he was done after the London Games, Phelps promised the world would never see him swimming at age 30. He sounded relieved to have the toil and pressure behind him.
Even last summer, as rumors of a comeback first bubbled, Phelps and Bowman downplayed the possibility. The swimmer said he was enjoying life too much. The coach said he wouldn’t even condone a comeback if Phelps seemed haphazardly committed.
Thus Bowman has said he was surprised when Phelps called last fall, wanting to resume training. The swimmer also rejoined the drug testing pool for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, a sign he was at least contemplating a return to competition.
Bowman has said Phelps is training five days a week, less than at his peak but enough so he likely won’t embarrass himself in Mesa. The coach has emphasized how much fun the record-setting Olympian is having, especially compared to his pre-London training.
Bowman has also made it clear Phelps isn’t trying to be his old self. He’s aiming to swim only shorter events — the 100-meter butterfly, 100-meter freestyle and 50-meter freestyle in Mesa — leaving behind the grueling 400 individual medley. He has even talked of using a butterfly stroke in the 50-meter freestyle as a fun experiment.
Will this looser approach make a run at a fifth Olympics more palatable? Time will tell, with Phelps entered in three Grand Prix events between now and the end of June and perhaps eyeing the U.S. national championships in August.
“I doubt it’s as simple as ‘I want to win another gold medal,’ ” Peirsol says in assessing Phelps’ motivations. “It’s more visceral, more internal. But he doesn’t owe anybody any explanations.”
Childs Walker | The Baltimore Sun
It was an emotional night for the British women; their international future uncertain after the unexpected withdrawal of UK Sport funding two months ago.
But the Brits – who came into the match on the back of winning gold as Team England at the Commonwealth Championships in Aberdeen earlier this month – were relentless as they out-worked their celebrated opponents for a deserved 9-7 (1-0, 3-1, 3-4, 2-2) victory.
Spain had gone unbeaten throughout their World League campaign, including a 13-5 victory over GB in January, and had no intention of taking their foot off the pedal in their final match with 11 of their 13 world champions on show in Manchester.
But the Spanish couldn’t match the intensity or endeavor of their hosts, trailing for the majority of the match, pulling level in the final quarter but then falling short in the final minutes.
And Angie Winstanley-Smith, who played for the Brits at London 2012 two years ago, admits the performance was a poignant result of the hard work the team have put in over the past decade.
“You can see how we celebrated, that was like a final for us,” said Winstanley Smith, who helped the Brits qualify for their second consecutive European Championships earlier this year.
“We’ve been through so much over the last three or four months. It’s been horrific. We’ve had to look at our lives totally differently and to come away with a result like that shows you the strength we have and also the strength of character we have. We’re not just a water polo team. We’re a family.
“Everyone left everything they have in the pool tonight. Wilco [Chloe Wilcox] was cramping up in that last quarter but she kept going until the end. Water polo is a team game because not one action comes without three or four people.
“The Commonwealth Championships really got us going on a positive wave and we’ve got good momentum now on to Europeans in the summer.
“We’ve got a shared passion to show UK Sport that they’ve made a mistake. We’re a good team and we can show what a team game brings to Great Britain and to young people and how important team games are at the Olympics.”
The Brits were on the front foot from the outset with Barcelona-born Ciara Gibson-Byrne bagging her first of four goals and the only score in a tight opening quarter.
The home side established a three goal lane in the second period as Kathryn Fowler scored from the pit on man-up before Manchester local Ella Chadderton added another two goals to put the crowd in raptures.
After a dressing down at half-time, the Spanish fought back in the third quarter but the Brits kept their noses in front throughout as Gibson-Byrne scored twice and Lisa Gibson found the net with 0.1 second left on the clock.
The world champions drew level early in the final quarter with two quick-fire goals to pull the game back to 7-7 but the Brits endured as Winstanley-Smith won two penalties which Gibson-Byrne and Wilcox dispatched to secure a famous victory.
The Brits will travel to their second consecutive European Championships in Budapest in July, having finished seventh in Eindhoven two years ago.
The Uganda Swimming Federation has received a major boost ahead of Thursday’s 12th edition of the CANA Zone III and IV swimming championships that will get into action at the Kampala Parents School at Lugogo by pass.
Mulwana group of companies through its various companies like Uganda Battery Limited, Jesa Dairy Milk, and Nice House of Plastics has committed 15 million shillings into the continental swimming championship that has attracted 12 African nations.
“We are privileged to being part of this historic event and we are looking at this as an investment for the future of our country as the majority of this nation is youth,”
William Kyeyune communications manager of Mulwana group said last week. “The sponsorship will cater for the T-shirts for the swimmers, officials at the same time we shall be offering dairy products to the swimmers at the officials at this event.”
Twelve countries have confirmed their participation to this championship they include Angola, Burundi, Kenya, Seychelles, South Africa, who will be making their debut at this competition others are Rwanda, Tanzania, the hosts Uganda, Mauritius, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique.
A total of 356 swimmers and officials are expected to take part in this championship with Uganda entering a team of 50 swimmers in total.
“We are extremely grateful with the various corporate companies that have sponsored this championship the first of its kind that we are hosting,” Don Rukare, the Uganda Swimming Federation president said at the ceremony held last week at Kampala Parents School were the competitions will be held. “We yet to get support from government and are still waiting for them, but that alone we have continued to get various companies that have supported us and we can say 80 percent of our budget has been covered.”
Other companies that have committed to the championship include Midland Group of Companies, Ruparelia Group of Companies that have offered the Uganda Swimming Federation the venue of the championship.
The British Gas GBR Para-Swimming Team has been named for the 2014 IPC Swimming European Championships in Eindhoven.
Double Paralympic Champion Ellie Simmonds will lead the team into action after qualifying in three events at the British Para-Swimming International Meet.
Simmonds will be competing in her third European Championships and will be eager to retain her two titles in the S6 400m Freestyle and SM6 200m Individual Medley.
“I’m very excited to represent Great Britain at my third Europeans and go back to the pool at Eindhoven which we had our World Championships at in 2010,” Simmonds said.
“My 50m Free personal best still stands from that competition. We’ve got an amazing team going as well so I’m really looking forward to this summer.
“We’ve got some amazing athletes on the team this year. Steph Slater swam a world record in the 100m Fly in Glasgow and she looked incredible in the pool. And then we’ve got youngsters like Amy Marren who is a four-time World Champion and Alice Tai who has qualified for her first major competition.
“It’s great to see the youngsters coming through for the future but also it’s nice to have the legends like Sascha Kindred and James Crisp still representing the team and competing for Great Britain.”
The world record holder is joined by world champion Steph Slater and Paralympic Champions Jon Fox and Ollie Hynd and multi-Paralympic medallist Sascha Kindred, who will be going to his sixth Europeans.
Slater, who broke the S8 100m Butterfly world record in Glasgow, qualified in five events of the six she swam during the British Para-Swimming International Meet and showed she has begun to make her mark on the international circuit.
“It’s an amazing feeling to have been selected for my first European Championships. Hopefully I can build on what I did at Worlds last year.
“I’m really happy with how everything went this week. I’ve never done two competitions back-to-back before so having to do a split taper has been interesting and obviously it has paid off here so I’m really happy.
“I got five out of my six qualification times so maybe I’ll swim all of them in Eindhoven but we’ll see what works with the schedule.”
Four-time World Champion Amy Marren secured her place on the team for her first European Championships and world medallists Andrew Mullen and Hannah Russell will return to the Europeans eager to add to their medal tallies.
Head Coach Rob Greenwood said: “We have selected a strong team of athletes that have got a good mix of youth and experience. It’s good to see the likes of Sascha Kindred and Matthew Walker going to their sixth and fourth European Championships respectively while we have a number of athletes are attending their first Europeans.
“This meet is about gaining experience and learning ahead of Rio so we can see where our athletes are and how we can continue to improve. Some of our athletes’ main rivals are European so it will be a good opportunity to put in good races and see where they are at against some of the best athletes in the world.”
British Gas GBR Para-Swimming Team
• Jack Bridge (R)
• Josef Craig (B)
• James Crisp
• Jonathan Fox
• Thomas Hamer (B)
• Craig Harris
• Kahoru Harazawa (B)
• James Hollis
• Oliver Hynd
• Sascha Kindred
• Aaron Moores
• Andrew Mullen
• Scott Quin
• Jack Thomas
• Matthew Walker
• Robert Welbourn
• Matthew Wylie (R)
• Gemma Almond
• Jessica-Jane Applegate
• Claire Cashmore
• Chloe Davies
• Charlotte Henshaw
• Eleni Papadopoulos
• Nicole Lough
• Amy Marren
• Stephanie Millward
• Susie Rodgers
• Hannah Russell
• Eleanor Simmonds
• Stephanie Slater
• Alice Tai
(R) Denotes Relay selection, (B) Denotes B standard selection
Coaches selected for the team are:
• Graeme Smith
• Dave Evitts
• Billy Pye
• Steve Bayley
• Danny Thompson
• Rob Aubry
Olympic swimming champ Rebecca Adlington has spoken for the first time about her nose job, saying she is more confident about her appearance but she still has hang-ups.
After suffering years of taunts about the size of her nose, she reportedly had surgery this year at a Harley Street clinic.
Rebecca, 25, said: “I’m definitely happier with how I look now. But I wouldn’t necessarily say happy.
“I think you still always see the same thing when you look in the mirror.
“A lot of people tell me you get more comfortable with yourself with age, and obviously I’ve still got a lot of growing up to do. But I will never have this figure that’s big-boobed, tiny waist and curvaceous bum.
“I’ve got slightly bigger shoulders than some people and an average cup size. That’s not going to change.”
Rebecca, who won two golds at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and two bronzes at London 2012, talked previously about being unhappy with her looks.
She also broke down in tears last year on ITV show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! because of insecurity about her body.
She has now said that, unlike other stars, she will not be elaborating on the surgery.
Rebecca said: “If somebody else wants to know [that], well tough luck.
“It’s my life. Loads of women have loads of things that they do – like a Kim Kardashian or whatever – but I just think if you open yourself up in that way, there’s a lot more that happens. I’ve never opened the door in that way.
“I never set out to be in the spotlight. I’ve fallen into it by doing something I love.”
Rebecca, who is due to marry 21-year-old swimmer Harry Needs this summer, also revealed she has blocked thousands of Twitter trolls who abused her.
She said her action had massively reduced the taunts she has received.
Rebecca, who has been a guest panellist on ITV chat show Loose Women, said she had barred between 2,000 and 4,000 of the haters.
She added: “In a day I’ve blocked 100, 200 people, if something’s happened. But it’s calmed down a lot.
“I sit there at eight o’clock at night and Harry’s saying, ‘Bec, why are you checking Twitter? You’re allowing them into our home’… I’ve tried to stop it now. Although I do it if Harry’s out.”
Before the surgery, she said at the start of the year that she looked in the mirror every day and thought: “God, I’m not pretty. I’ve got a very big nose.”
Rebecca added that most of the negative tweets she received were about her nose. She said: “People say ‘Oh God, you look like a dolphin’.”
Mark Jefferies | Daily Record
A Derby girl has spent 10 days in Zambia with sporting heroes Ross Davenport and Rebecca Adlington teaching swimming to children.
Now Rebecca Jones is hoping that some of the youngsters will be able to come to the UK in an exchange visit.
Rebecca 16, who attends Derby High School in Littleover, said: “We have been encouraged to stay in touch with the young people we met and we are doing that through Facebook.
“It has also been suggested that some of them might be able to come over here on an exchange; that would be great and I would love to do that.”
As one of 12 members of the City of Derby Swimming Club who went to Zambia, Rebecca stayed at the Olympic Youth Development Centre and trained with the National Zambia Swimming Team.
The trip was arranged by Melanie Marshall, Rebecca’s coach at the club, with the International Olympic Committee and Sport in Action.
Sport in Action is a non-Government organisation based in Lusaka, Zambia, which reaches out to 1,000 Zambians each week using sport to educate youngsters.
Rebecca, of Mickleover, said the trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. She said: “Most days we were up at 6am and in the pool between 7am and 8am. Every day we had an audience of people from the local villages. On the first day there were about 10 or 15 people but by the end there were a couple of hundred.
“We would teach the local children. I was leading one of the groups and there were about 20 children from very young to teenagers. It was very different to teaching I have done in the UK. The language barrier was quite difficult and in the UK everything is very structured and disciplined, but in Zambia we had to improvise a lot.
“One boy who was about 16 or 17 came to every session. He had been trying to learn to swim for three months but wasn’t getting very far. At the end of the 10 days with us he could do a 50-metre swim with us really quickly – that was really inspirational.”
Rebecca said she enjoyed teaching with Ross, Joanne Jackson, Rebecca and Melanie. She said: “We went out and did swimming roadshows with them which were great. I loved being out there, the atmosphere was great and we had to be totally independent and saw a totally different side to life.”
The group raised £1,700 to buy kit and equipment for the swimmers as well as being put towards a new sporting venue.
Rebecca added: “A lot of the children were swimming in running shorts and one girl wore a swimming costume that was full of holes, so the money will be used to buy better kit for them, which is great.”
Zenå Hawley | Daily Telegraph
A former Somerset swimming coach has been jailed for 15 years after being convicted of the rape and sexual assault of a child.
Andrew Wynes, 51, of Coombe Lane, Shepton Mallet was caught in a swimming pool changing cubicle with a ten-year-old girl.
He was convicted of six counts of rape and three counts of assaulting a girl by penetration, following a six day trial at Taunton Crown Court.
Investigating officer Det Con Karen Holt, who was given a judge’s commendation for her work on the inquiry, said she believes there could be more victims and has appealed for them to come forward.
After he was sentenced today she said: “Andrew Wynes committed these offences against a young girl, who was aged between nine and 10-years-old at the time.
“He befriended the victim’s family and through his role as a swimming instructor he engineered situations where he could commit these horrendous offences.
“Wynes inappropriate relationship with the victim was first reported to police by a witness, resulting in a lengthy investigation spanning the last five years.
“The victim was initially unable to disclose what happened to her but later found the courage to come forward.
“She has shown incredible bravery despite having to go through the additional trauma of giving evidence in court.
“During the trial, she was able to give clear and detailed evidence from behind a screen and told the jury what she went through and why she was initially too frightened to tell anyone.”
Det Con Holt added: “Wynes has shown no compassion whatsoever to the victim or her family.
“We believe there could be more victims who have not yet come forward and I am hoping this conviction will give them the confidence to speak to us.
“We always fully investigate reports of rape and sexual assault, no matter how long ago the offences were committed.”
western daily press
Michael Phelps has been swimming against the tide all his life. Time and time again he has proved the doubters wrong, setting the standard for Olympic achievement with his 18 gold medals.
But now, almost two years after retiring from swimming and two months shy of his 29th birthday, the American is plunging into uncharted waters by attempting a comeback where the risk-reward ratio is heavily stacked against him.
If all goes well, Phelps could be back on the winner’s podium at Rio, although he insists he is still undecided about whether he wants to go to the 2016 Olympics.
If it goes wrong, he will join a long list of great athletes who were lured back to competition but failed to reproduce the form that took them to the top of their chosen sports.
His legacy is already assured. Nothing he does in the future will take away from what he did in the past but as Muhammad Ali, Mark Spitz, Michael Jordan, Bjorn Borg and Michael Schumacher all discovered, it can still become a permanent footnote.
Phelps has not yet given a full explanation for his decision to come back or his plans for the future. That will come on Wednesday when he and longtime coach Bob Bowman face the media before the April 24-26 Grand Prix meet in Mesa, Arizona, where he will make his return.
A global sporting icon, Phelps has already amassed a fortune through his endorsements so money is unlikely to be the driving motivation to get him back in the pool for the gruelling training required to be an Olympic swimmer.
Nor is he likely to top his past achievements so anything he does is likely to be less than before. He won six gold medals at Athens in 2004 and an unprecedented eight at Beijing in 2008 when he was at his absolute peak.
At the 2012 London Games he won four gold and by the law of diminishing returns would be hard-pressed to match that in Rio, when he will be 31, past the age when most elite swimmers have hung up their goggles but not too old to be totally discounted.
At the Athens Olympics, Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands won the women’s 50 metres freestyle gold medal days before her 31st birthday.
Four years later in Beijing, Jason Lezak teamed up with Phelps to win gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay at 32 while Dara Torres won three silvers in the Chinese capital at age 41.
For Phelps, his biggest asset is his physique and perfect technique. He stands 1.93m (6ft 4in) tall but has a wingspan of 2.01m (6ft 7in) giving him greater pulling power in the water.
But the natural evolution of swimming looms as his biggest obstacle. Even if he can match his best times, his younger opponents are getting faster all the time.
This week’s meet will offer few real clues to what Phelps might do in Rio, if he were to go that far. He has deliberately picked a relatively light programme of three races – 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly and 50m freestyle.
“It’s just a start,” Bowman told Reuters last week.
The first big test for Phelps will come in August when the US national championships, which will double as the trials for next year’s world championships in Russia, are held in California.
Then in mid 2016, the US Olympic trials will take place in Omaha, Nebraska.
Phelps only needs to finish in the top six in either the 100m or 200m freestyle at the 2016 US Olympic trials to make the relay team and if he did, he would have a realistic chance of adding to his collection of Olympic medals.
For mere mortals, that would be a lifelong achievement but for Phelps, he is likely to want to swim at least one individual event, possibly the 100m butterfly which would also secure him a place on the medley relay and a chance at four golds in Rio.
World and Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds won gold on the final day of the Para-Swimming International Swimming Meet 2014 in Glasgow.
Simmonds lowered her 400m Freestyle qualifying time by over one second to finish in 5:26.52 and take her second medal of the competition with 934 points.
The S6 world record holder secured her third qualification time and travels to Berlin this week for the German Open.
The Loughborough University swimmer said: “The 400m Free is one of my favourite races so it’s great to have won the gold and finish within the qualifying standard for the IPC European Championships.
“I’m really happy with how the Meet has gone. The final was a bit more difficult because I didn’t have Susie [Rodgers] swimming next to me like I did in the heats, but being on the opposite side of the pool was ok because I just swam my own race.
“I’m really enjoying training with the Loughborough guys. Swimming close to my PBs this week has shown how good the move has been and being in a new environment and closer to home is great.”
Spain’s Deborah Font (S12) took silver with 910 points (4:46.24) and Kelly College’s Hannah Russell (S12) took her second bronze medal of the competition with 855 points (4:52.21).
The men’s 400m Freestyle was dominated by British athletes but it was Nova Centurion’s Ollie Hynd who came out on top to take gold with 983 points.
The S8 swimmer’s personal best time of 4:27.64 was one second outside of his brother Sam’s world record. He said: “I’m really pleased with that final. I wanted to come back and push myself a little bit to see what I’ve got in me. To swim a 4:27 is really good for where I am right now.
“This morning was the fastest heat swim I’ve ever done and to do a PB now makes me really excited to see how fast I can go this summer.
“I was really close to Sam’s world record tonight and although I didn’t quite do it today, I’m getting closer.”
S7 swimmer Jonathan Fox (City of Manchester Aquatics) finished with 904 points (4:48.73) to add a silver medal to the 100 Backstroke gold he won yesterday.
Josef Craig (S8) finished 0.02 seconds outside the personal best he set in the heats to finish in 4:38.49 to give him bronze with 872 points.
Bethany Firth (City of Newcastle) secured her fourth gold of the competition in the S14 200m Freestyle and scored a world best time of 2:06.93 to give 1097 points.
Firth, who will be eligible to compete for Great Britain from August 2014, has taken gold in all the events she has entered, having already claimed the 100m Backstroke, 100m Breaststroke and 200m Individual Medley titles.
Jessica-Jane Applegate (UEA Norwich) took silver with 955 points, finishing within the S14 European qualification standard with a 2:11.90 swim, and Russia’s Valeriia Shabalina took bronze with 945 points.
Andrew Mullen took his second medal of the competition, winning gold in the MC 50m Backstroke with 721 points.
Mullen’s time of 39.03 was an S5 British record and within the European qualifying time. He also met the European standard in the S5 200m Freestyle heats.
The Glasgow-based Ren96 swimmer said: “That was a really good final for me. I managed to execute it really well and felt really strong. I was pleased to go half a second faster than this morning and although I wanted to dip under 39 seconds, I was really close so maybe next time.
“My aim now is to go to Europeans and win gold. I’m confident in my own ability and that I can do that and I think leaving on a 39.03 is perfect motivation to go under the 39 there.”
In the women’s MC 50m Backstroke Colchester Phoenix’s Suzanne Warren (S5) took bronze with a personal best 59.47 for 275 points.
Warren finished behind gold medal winner Pin Xiu Yip (S3, Singapore) with 877 points and Lisette Teunissen (S4, the Netherlands) with 790 points.
Iceland’s Jon Margeir Sverrisson (S14) took gold in the men’s 200m Freestyle with 977 points, leaving British S14 athletes Craig Rodgie and Thomas Hamer battling for second place on the podium.
Edinburgh University’s Rodgie finished just 0.13 seconds ahead of Hamer to take silver with 876 points (2:03.35), with Hamer (Burnley) getting 876 points (2:03.87). Both were just outside the European qualification time.
Other British athletes swimming within the European qualification standard on the final day include Chloe Davies (S14, 200m Freestyle), Susie Rodgers (S7, 400m Freestyle), Amy Marren (S9, 400m Freestyle), Steph Millward (S9, 400m Freestyle) and Rob Welbourn (S10, 400m Freestyle).
The USA Swimming Foundation, in association with Phillips 66, will kick off the sixth annual Make a Splash Tour presented by Phillips 66 on May 6, 2014 in Sweeny, Texas, with a series of press events, water safety information sessions and free to low-cost swimming lessons at local partner pools throughout the country. The national tour will feature appearances by newly appointed USA Swimming Foundation Ambassadors: three-time Olympic Gold Medalist and American-record-holder for 50 and 100-yard freestyle Nathan Adrian, Olympic Gold Medalist Anthony Ervin, and returning this year are four-time Olympic Gold Medalist Janet Evans and swimming legend and Olympic Gold Medalist Rowdy Gaines. Celebrating it’s 10th Anniversary this year, the USA Swimming Foundation has raised over $16 million to-date in support of its mission to save lives and build champions.
“The USA Swimming Foundation is committed to preserving innocent lives and building safer communities,” said Debbie Hesse, Executive Director of the USA Swimming Foundation. “We are incredibly proud of the impact the Make a Splash Tour has made over the past five years and plan to continue educating and increasing awareness of swimming as a life skill. We are also thankful to Phillips 66, and our partners for helping us spread the message on the importance of water safety.”
The USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative is a national, child-focused water safety campaign. Through this initiative, the Foundation seeks to change the startling drowning statistics through three key efforts: save lives by teaching children the lifesaving skill of swimming through its national Make a Splash Local Partner Network, raise national awareness of the importance of learning to swim, and bring together a coalition of partners aligned to end drowning in the U.S. Currently, there are more than 600 Make a Splash local partners throughout the country and more than 2.2 million kids have taken swim lessons through the Make a Splash partner network. The initiative has garnered high-profile media attention from various outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, CNN Heroes, The Doctors, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, and the NBC News award-winning piece “A Swimmer’s Mission” with journalist Tamron Hall.
Olympic Gold Medalists Nathan Adrian and Anthony Ervin are no strangers to the importance of childhood swimming – Adrian’s parents felt very strongly about having each of their children participate in water safety and awareness programs when they were young, starting Adrian swimming at the age of five; while Ervin, after retiring from swimming back in 2004, returned to the Olympics in 2012 after spending several years teaching children to swim at clubs in New York City and Oakland, CA. Olympic Gold Medalist Janet Evans knows about the importance of teaching children to swim. As a mother herself, she has dedicated her work to further the cause of battling childhood drowning and to share life-saving advice that can help parents protect their children. Having worked with the Foundation in 2013, Evans will serve as the official “Make a Splash Mom” in 2014.
Since 1973, Phillips 66′s contributions have supported the USA Swimming community through National Championships and other international competitions, publication of club development materials, and many additional endeavors. The Make a Splash Tour, which the company has sponsored since the program’s inception in 2009, is a natural extension of its dedication to safety.
“Our support of the Make a Splash Tour emphasizes Phillips 66′s commitment to safety and recognizes the necessity of engaging our society in building awareness for such an essential lifesaving skill,” said Kristi DesJarlais, Manager, Corporate Brand and Community Investments for Phillips 66.
Sobering Drowning Statistics:
Approximately 10 people drown every day in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and at least one in five fatal drowning victims are children younger than 14. Only 13 percent of children who come from a non-swimming household will ever learn to swim, according to a national research study by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis.
Seventy percent of African American children, 60 percent of Hispanic/Latino children and 40 percent of Caucasian children have little to no swimming abilities. African American children drown at a rate nearly three times higher than their Caucasian peers, the CDC reports.
Drowning is also a silent killer; most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than five minutes and were in the care of one or both parents at the time, according to the Present P. Child Drowning study.
About the USA Swimming Foundation
The USA Swimming Foundation serves as the philanthropic arm of USA Swimming. Established in 2004, the Foundation works to strengthen the sport by saving lives and building champions— in the pool and in life. Whether we’re equipping our children with the life-saving skill of learn-to-swim through our Make a Splash initiative, or providing financial support to our heroes on the U.S. National Team, the USA Swimming Foundation aims to provide the wonderful experience of swimming to kids at all levels across the country. To learn more, visit www.usaswimmingfoundation.org.
About Phillips 66
Built on more than 130 years of experience, Phillips 66 is a growing energy manufacturing and logistics company with high-performing Midstream, Chemicals, Refining, and Marketing and Specialties businesses. This integrated portfolio enables Phillips 66 to capture opportunities in a changing energy landscape. Headquartered in Houston, the company has 13,500 employees who are committed to operating excellence and safety. Phillips 66 had $50 billion of assets as of Dec. 31, 2013. For more information, visit www.phillips66.com or follow us on Twitter @Phillips66Co.
For more information about USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative and the 2014 Make a Splash Tour presented by Phillips 66, visit: www.usaswimmingfoundation.org/makeasplash