World and Paralympic swimming champion Rebecca Meyers put in a great performance alongside teammate Letticia Martinez on Friday.
US swimmers showed great form at the World Para Swimming World Series in Sheffield, Great Britain, on Friday (28 April) with Rebecca Meyers and Letticia Martinez impressing on the second day of action.
Meyers, the Paralympic and world champion in the SM13, claimed her second World Series win of the season in the women’s 200m individual medley with 960 points.
“I feel great, it was a great race, I had great competition so I’m excited about where I stand for this season already,” Meyers said.
Visually impaired swimmers dominated the women’s 50m freestyle with a second win of the meet for Great Britain’s world and Paralympic champion Hannah Russell (S12, 931). The 20-year-old touched in at 27.54 seconds, just .01 away from her Paralympic title-winning time.
“That swim was a great swim. To pretty much match the time I swam in Rio in the summer, I couldn’t ask for much better,” Russell said.
Martinez (S11, 924) broke her second Americas record of the year in the event to take second place for the USA.
The 21-year-old lowered her own mark, set earlier in April, to 31.54 seconds.
“It was awesome. I love the 50,” Martinez said. “I’ve been doing better at it since the beginning of this year. It’s really fun to go fast. I love sprinting, my body knows what to do I don’t have to think about it, you just go.
“I’ve been trying to break 32 [seconds] for a couple of years now. I was really, really ecstatic about that. It’s been a long time since I came close to that. We’re in a hard training block and I wasn’t expecting it.”
Toshpulatova (S13, 923) was third, her second podium of the evening.
Uzbekistan’s Dmitry Horlin (SM12, 888) led the men’s 200m individual medley final. Great Britain’s SM8 European, world and Paralympic title holder Ollie Hynd was just one point behind with 887. His compatriot Kahoru Harazawa (SM10, 837) was third with a new British record of 2:14.59.
Paralympic title holder Matthew Wylie (S9, 871) handed the hosts another win in the men’s 50m freestyle. Rio 2016 bronze medallist Muzaffar Tursunkhujaev (S13, 859) secured another podium for Uzbekistan in second.
Wylie’s teammate and fellow S9 swimmer Lewis White (842) completed the top three.
Denmark’s SM4 Paralympic bronze medallist Jonas Larsen claimed 769 points in the men’s 150m individual medley.
Competition runs until Sunday (30 April). Heats begin at 10:30am (CET) and finals at 6:00pm.
Editions in Copenhagen, Denmark and Sao Paulo, Brazil, have already taken place. After Sheffield, Indianapolis, USA; and Berlin, Germany, will host events in June and July respectively.
Records are subject to ratification by World Para Swimming.
Swimming is a game of microseconds, a sport in which the difference between Olympic glory and soon-forgotten “also-swam” finishes is measured in tiny fractions of a second.
During the first half of the 20th century, swimming got steadily faster, but it was the National Age Group program, initiated in 1948, that gave the sport the impetus it needed. Young, talented athletes first trickled, then poured into the programs, which were popping up all around the country. Bigger, better athletes were recruited and serious, scientific research, mainly in Australia and the USA, began being conducted, with results shared within the small, international research community. Studies of everything having to do with propelling a human body through water most efficiently were initiated – from hydrodynamics to creating nutritionally sound diets designed to help athletes recover speedily from hard training, to identifying the elements of the optimal swimming body.
The sport grew steadily in popularity, especially as times dropped faster than anyone had predicted. But it wasn’t just the fastest swimmers who excited swimming aficionados. It was the depth of talent. Previously there might be a world-class swimmer with three or four would-be challengers floundering in his wake in a particular region of the country. Now, however, though the same athlete still might be ranked No. 1, he might have 15 or 20 challengers nipping at his heels.
There were several “near-ties” before the 1970s, but FINA and the IOC were able to resolve most of them to the satisfaction, sometimes to the begrudging satisfaction, of all concerned. Six judges, all with views of the finish, were stationed around the pool. At the end of the race, each official would write down the order of finish as he saw it. As a backup, cameras were ready to supply pictures of any “photo finishes.”
At the Rome Olympics in 1960, the 100-meter free came down to a showdown between Australia’s John Devitt and the USA’s Lance Larson. As expected the race was very close: three of the judges had Devitt first and Larson second. The other three saw it in reverse order, with Larson the winner. The photos were inconclusive. Finally, a seventh judge, who was not certified to judge finishes and who was unable even to see the finish from his vantage point, cast an invalid ballot for the Aussie. Despite the ensuing uproar, along with movies that clearly show Larson touching first, that result never changed.
The 1984 Games in Los Angeles saw another tie, this time in the women’s 100 meter free, when Americans Carrie Steinseifer and Nancy Hogshead hit the pads simultaneously in 55.92. Both young women were elated by the tie, especially since it involved two swimmers from the same country.
Sixteen years later, at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, two swimmers from the same team – the Phoenix Swim Club — touched in tandem in 21.98 seconds in the 50-meter free. Commenting on his tie with Anthony Ervin, Gary Hall, Jr. asked: “How can it get any better than that? We are the best of friends, we have the same coach, (Mike Bottom), we do the same workouts, we race each other every day, every set, every repeat.” Added Ervin: “In the minds of swim fans, this moment will always define who we are.”
Meanwhile, swimming continued to grow ever more competitive – in fact, much more competitive – especially since the 1980s. Many, if not most championship-level races, even longer ones, are decided by a stroke or two, so swimmers must not only be superb athletes, they must become swimming scientists, managing and constantly monitoring themselves and making appropriate adjustments in a three-dimensional environment.
Swimming and swimmers have become much more sophisticated in recent years, and many races have gotten even closer than in the past. Ties, once the rarest of events, have become increasingly common. In the last five Olympiads, there have been nine ties, including an unprecedented three-way finish for silver in the men’s 100 meter butterfly in 2016. But that is by no means the whole story. In addition to the ties, since the year 2000, there have been 21 other Olympic races decided by a tenth of a second, or less, and 33 decided by two-tenths of a second or less. All indications are races will only get tighter in the future.
Canada and Malaysia have both joined Australia and England by launching bids to replace Durban as host of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) had set today as the date for countries to make submissions of interest following the decision to take the event away from the South African city after they failed to provide the required financial guarantees.
Australia and the United Kingdom had already revealed that they planned to bid.
So far, only English cities Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester have so far indicated they want to host the Games.
London is also believed to be considering whether to put themselves forward.
Commonwealth Games England are expected to discuss which bid to back at its next Board meeting on May 9.
The Australian Commonwealth Games Association will make a choice from Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
insidethegames had revealed earlier this week that Canada were seeking Government support to join the race.
“I am pleased to say the Canadian Government has submitted to CGF its interest to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games,” Brian McPherson, the chief executive of Commonwealth Games Canada (CGC), told insidethegames.
“This allows CGC to continue working with Provincial and local Governments over the next six to eight weeks to develop a Canadian bid.”
Malaysia were the first Asian country to host the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, an event widely considered to be one of the best in history.
It is a remarkable turnaround for the CGF who had been forced to award Durban the 2022 Commonwealth Games in September 2015 after its only rival, Edmonton in Canada, withdrew due to the impact of falling oil prices on its economy.
A panel of international experts and CGF staff are expected to investigate the bids put forward by the countries before making a recommendation to the Executive Board.
Due to the unexpectedly high interest, a decision, originally expected to be made by mid-summer, is now due to be made in the autumn.
“This is the first step in a collaborative process that will see a clear and detailed set of criteria applied to any Games hosting ambitions,” David Grevemberg, the chief executive of the CGF, said.
“The process has been streamlined to be as agile as possible given the time available and to minimise costs for potential hosts, whilst maintaining the transformative ambitions of the Commonwealth sports movement.
“An expert CGF Review Team will work with each country in the evaluation of proposals of potential host cities.
“This will include a rigorous on-the-ground feasibility assessment and dialogue regarding hosting capacity and capability, resourcing and legacy ambitions, before a recommendation is made to the CGF Executive Board for final review and decision.
“Based on the number of interested parties it is not expected that the process will finally conclude until early Autumn.
“We are delighted with the level of initial interest expressed by nations across the Commonwealth and look forward to working with all parties as plans develop for a Games to be proud of in 2022.”
The CGC has held preliminary discussions with Toronto and Victoria about putting them forward as its candidate.
Victoria hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1994, the last time they were held in Canada.
Toronto, meanwhile, staged a successful Pan American Games in 2015.
But it will be more than two weeks before either city will be able to make a decision about whether it can bid for not.
Toronto will decide at a meeting of the City Council’s Economic Development Committee on May 8.
Victoria will have to wait until the results of the Provincial election in British Columbia on May 9.
McPherson also revealed that the CGC had spoken to several other cities and Provinces but they were at a very early stage.
Australia, United States of America, Japan and Kazakhstan are shaping as the likely quartet to progress to the Super Final during fifth-day action at the men’s water polo FINA World League Intercontinental Tournament at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre today.
The positions will be wrapped up today when unbeaten Australia (11 points) plays China (3), USA (9) faces winless New Zealand (0) and a stronger-performing Japan (7) takes on Kazakhstan (6).
Champion Serbia, Croatia and Italy have already qualified from Europe and will join host Russia in the Super Final in Ruza, Russia on June 20-25.
Points table: AUS 11, USA 9, JPN 7, KAZ 6, CHN 3, NZL 0.
Match 13, 15:30, AUSTRALIA CHINA
Referees: Haziel Ortega (USA), Michael Brooks (NZL).
AUSTRALIA: Ed Slade, Luke Pavillard, Tim Putt, Joe Kayes, Nathan Power, Andrew Ford, Jarrod Gilchrist, John Cotterill, Rhys Holden, James Fannon, Lachlan Hollis, Nicholas Brooks, Anthony Hrysanthos. Head Coach: Elvis Fatovic.
CHINA: Zhi Wei Liang, Cheng Hao Chu, Jia Hao Peng, De Ming Li, Zhong Xian Chen, Ze Kai Xie, Wen Hui Lu, Yi Min Chen, Ge Lin Zhu, Yu Liu, Yun Ji Wang, Xiang Fu, Lin Feng Li. Head Coach: Ling Yun Mao.
Picture: McKinnon Media
Match 14. 16:50, NEW ZEALAND UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Referees: Vojin Putnikovic (SRB), Damir Temyrkhanov (KAZ).
NEW ZEALAND: Sid Dymond, Matthew Lewis, Matthew Morris, Ryan Pike, Callum Maxwell, Matthew Small, Anton Sunde, Liam Paterson, Sean Bryant, Matthew Bryant, Jerome McGuinness, Sean Newcombe, Bae Fountain. Head Coach: Goran Sablic.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Alexander Wolf, Nolan McConnell, Hannes Daube, Alexander Obert, Matthew De Trane, Johnathan Hooper, Maxwell Irving, Nicholas Carniglia, Jacob Ehrhardt, Ashworth Molthen, Alex Roelse, Marko Vavic, Zackery Rhodes. Head Coach: Dejan Udovicic.
Match 15, 18:10, KAZAKHSTAN JAPAN
Referees: Dragan Stampalija (CRO), Daniel Flahive (AUS).
KAZAKHSTAN: Madikhan Makhmetov, Yevgeniy Medvedev, Egor Berbelyuk, Roman Pilipenko, Miras Aubakirov, Alexey Shmider, Murat Shakenov, Yulian Verdesh, Altay Altayev, Bolat Turlykhanov, Ravil Manafov, Stanislav Shvedov, Valeriy Shlemov. Head Coach: Nemanja Knezevic.
JAPAN: Katsuyuki Tanamura, Seiya Adachi, Shuma Kawamoto, Mitsuaki Shiga, Takuma Yoshida, Atsuto Iida, Yusuke Shimizu, Mitsura Takata, Atsushi Arai, Kohei Inaba, Keigo Okawa, Kenta Araki, Tomoyoshi Fukushima. Head Coach: Yogi Omato.
Russell McKinnon, FINA Media Committee
Gary Hunt (GBR) and Adriana Jimenez (MEX) were the best in the first two rounds of the 4th FINA High Diving World Cu, taking place in Abu Dhabi (UAE) on April 28-29. In the inaugural day of the competition, the British star amassed 205.80 points among men, while the 32-year-old Mexican leads the women’s raking with 166.30.
Hunt, 2015 world champion and winner of the World Cup last year also in the capital of the United Arab Emirates was nearly perfect in his initial combination, an inward 2 somersaults and ½ twist in the pike position (DD 2.8), for which he got marks comprised between 9.0 and 9.5. Then, his second dive was the most difficult of the day, an impressive DD 5.6 – front 3 somersaults and 4 ½ twists in free position. However, the entry was not perfect and judges sanctioned the mistake with marks not exceeding 7.5. That was however enough to keep the lead. “The take-off (running) was not strong enough and I hadn’t sufficient rotation”, explained Hunt after his performance.
The British great – he will be 33 years old in June – is confident for the last two rounds of dives this Saturday. “Today, my second dive was a new one and it was the one I was more afraid of. It wasn’t perfect, but I still got the lead, so I am optimistic for tomorrow. I will execute two dives that I know well, so it should be OK”, he confessed. On the overall level of the competition, Gary Hunt underlines that “is improving fast, with many divers trying new and complicated things”.
The road to victory seemed easy for Hunt after the first dive, but an amazing second dive from Steve Lobue (USA), reminded the world champion that things may be complicated if a slight mistake happens again. In fact, Lobue (known as “king of somersaults”) performed an excellent front 5 somersaults with ½ twist, for which he was noted between 9.0 and 9.5. Ninth after the first round, the US diver concluded the day in second (204.90), less than a point behind Hunt. Lobue was third at the 2014 and 2015 World Cup in Kazan (RUS) and Cozumel (MEX), respectively.
Michal Navratil, from the Czech Republic, is for now the third best in the men’s field (23 divers took the plunge in Abu Dhabi), with 185.15 – he was very regular in his first two combinations, getting marks around 8.0/8.5. In case of medal, this would be Navratil’s first presence on the podium in a FINA event – his best ranking so far being a fourth position in Barcelona 2013.
Other confirmed stars are for now further down in the classification: Orlando Duque (COL), world champion in 2013, is sixth; Jonathan Paredes (MEX), second last year in the World Cup, is seventh; Artem Silchenko (RUS), silver medallist at the 2015 Worlds in Kazan (RUS) is only 15th.
Surprise from Mexico
In the women’s field, Adriana Jimenez was the surprise of the day, with two good dives, and marks above 8.0 in any of them. The Mexican star is an experienced athlete, but never reached so far a podium in a FINA competition. “I felt very good, and I managed to remain concentrated. I also slept OK tonight after two nights where I couldn’t close the eyes due to jet-lag. This was also important”, declared Jimenez after her effort.
Presenting a new dive in her programme (back 3 somersaults in the pike position), she confessed that executing it well was “decisive” for this provisional lead. When asked about a medal prospect, Jimenez was cautious: “I do one dive at the time. I need to get focused and then see what happens. You know, I am very thankful for what we have the opportunity to live with high diving, the exciting places we visit, the many friends we have, this special atmosphere…”
Adriana Jimenez started diving at 8, in the pool. In 2004, she narrowly missed the Olympic qualification for the Games in Athens (GRE), and then decided to take a break until… 2014! Since then, she decided to embrace the high diving world and is training in Mexico City in the High Performance National Centre. “I only do this in life and I have a lot of pleasure doing it. I have done some shows, but I want to focus in the sport from now on”.
In second, Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland (only 10th in 2016) collected 151.60, while the third provisional place goes to 42-year-old Ginger Huber. The “eternal” US diver, a true example of longevity in sport, was also bronze medallist last year and has a World Championships’ silver from Barcelona 2013.
Previous podium presences in FINA events are for now facing some challenges: Yana Nestsiarava (BLR) is fifth, Helena Merten (AUS) is sixth, Anna Bader (GER) is seventh, Cesilie Carlton (USA) is ninth and Lysanne Richard (CAN) is 11th.
After the end of the competition this Friday, athletes, coaches and officials paid a memorial tribute to the late FINA Technical High Diving Committee Member Niki Stajkovic (AUS), who passed away in the beginning of February.
Pedro Adrega, Head of FINA Communications Department
Any questions about how Ryan Lochte would be received in his return to competition were answered by the mob scene around the Lane 4 starting block shortly before 10:30 a.m. Friday.
There somewhere in the crowd lining the pool two, three, four deep in some places right up to the water’s edge at the U.S. Masters Swimming Spring Nationals, there somewhere in the midst of the guy hoisting his kid, the swimmers, the grandma standing on her tiptoes to get a peak at him, was Lochte. The six-time Olympic champion, the bad boy of American swimming, the national embarrassment who upstaged last summer’s Olympic Games, was now forgiven, the crowd’s positive energy washing over him like a wave of warm water.
“We’re so close to Coachella Valley now that there’s a lot of good vibrations,” cracked former U.S. Olympic coach Jon Urbanchek. “A lot of good vibrations out there for Ryan.”
Indeed, at times the pool deck at the Riverside Aquatics Complex resembled a mosh pit, the 12-time Olympic medalist needing a security guard to help him navigate a path from the warm-up pool to the main pool.
“This whole atmosphere here has been great,” said Lochte, 32, who finished second in the 100-yard breaststroke Friday morning and then returned to win the 200 individual medley in the afternoon. “It’s been good just been great to get my feet wet again.”
Urbanchek in fact dubbed the meet Lochte’s “First Plunge,” his first competition since being suspended by USA Swimming and the U.S. Olympic Committee last September after he and three other U.S. swimmers vandalized a Rio de Janerio gas station and then claimed they had been robbed at gunpoint just hours after the Olympic swimming competition concluded touching off a scandal that overshadowed much of the final week of the Games.
While under the USA Swimming suspension Lochte is banned from all domestic and international U.S. national team competitions through June 30, he was able to compete this weekend because the age-group meet is sanctioned by a different governing body.
Lochte re-emerged Friday a more driven and focused swimmer with greater perspective on his swimming and, more importantly, the life he sees ahead of him.
After Rio, Lochte appeared on “Dancing With The Stars,” took some time off and got engaged to former Playboy model Kayla Rae Reid. They are expecting their first child, a son, in June.
“I haven’t been this happy since 2012,” Lochte said. “Just my overall attitude, everything that’s going on in my personal life, you know I’m transferring it over to my swimming and now I’m finding new ways of keeping this sport fun and entertaining for me. And I’ve found my love for the sport again, and one of the reasons I’m back in swimming and I have a new hunger is again because I have a boy coming and that’s definitely one of my main purposes in getting back in the water and just enjoying it and I want to show my kid to never give up and chase after your dreams.
“He’s going to be there in 2020 watching his dad do what he loves to do. I definitely found a new perspective in my swimming career and I couldn’t be more happier right now.”
Lochte decided to chase the dream of competing in an fifth Olympic Games in Tokyo from Los Angeles, relocating from his longtime East Coast base to train under USC’s Dave Salo with the semi-retired Urbanchek helping out.
“For the past eight years I’ve always said I want to go to the West Coast,” Lochte said. “I’ve never been able to and now that I have the opportunity to I took it. I love it. I love the weather. The only thing I can’t get used to is the traffic. I’m still trying to get used to that. Other than that everyone is nice. It’s a beautiful state. Not many people can say I can go snowboarding in the morning and go surfing in the afternoon. You can’t do that anywhere. This is definitely awesome. This is where my new chapter of my life is beginning, is out here in California.”
Lochte’s latest chapter got off to something of a slow start Friday. He was second in the 100-yard breaststroke, finishing in 53.92 seconds, .37 behind Mike Alexandrov, a former NCAA champion at Northwestern. He returned later to take the 200 individual medley in 1-minute, 44.21 seconds, nearly six seconds ahead of Alexandrov. He will swim four more events over the final two days of the meet.
“I’m a little overweight. I guess you could say six months of not taking care of my body and just living my life, not worrying about waking up and going to practice or anything like that,” he said. “My main focus was to just relax, get away from the sport and now that I’m getting back in I’m like ‘Ooh, maybe I should have at least worked out a couple of times,’” Lochte said laughing.
“This meet has been a good positive yard-stick,” Urbanchek said.
Besides the extra weight, there are the slightest hints of gray in his hair.
“Hey, hey, keep that on the down low,” he said laughing.
But he is at peace with himself and the circumstances that brought him to Riverside instead of training for the USA Swimming and World Championships later this summer.
“You know everything happens for a reason and that’s what I figured out,” Lochte said. “I can’t say I’m glad about everything that happened. I have no regrets. I want to be in the position that I’m in and if all that stuff didn’t happen in Rio I may not have been. A lot of good things are coming. I’m engaged. I have a boy coming. I can’t explain how happy I am and how blessed I am. Everything that happened, it’s definitely for a reason.
“I have no hard feelings against Brazil. A wonderful country. They put on a great Games and my careless mistakes I learned from them. I’m human. I make mistakes and I just guess it was broadcast around the world.”
To the mobs surrounding him Friday it was like Rio never happened. The fans, apparently, aren’t the only ones who have forgiven him. The Rio incident cost Lochte, according to some published reports, as much as $10 million in endorsements. He was dropped by Ralph Lauren and Speedo. But in recent months he has signed new deals with PowerBar and TYR, the Orange County-based swimwear company. Lochte will swim in the U.S. Open after his ban is lifted and then an international meet in Rome in August.
“I’m behind, but you know,” he said Friday afternoon, “I took time off. I needed it. My body and mind needed it to recover. It was just a dog fight for so many years I just got overwhelmed with the sport and lost the passion and the love for it. But now I have it. I have new passion and I’m finding ways that swimming is fun again.”
Paralympic medallist Lewis White was in record-breaking form as he won gold on the opening night of the British Para-Swimming International Meet 2017.
The City of Derby swimmer clocked 57.18 to lower his own British S9 100m Freestyle record and win MC gold.
White’s previous best was a 57.41 effort from the 2016 British Summer Championships, also in Sheffield’s Ponds Forge.
But the 17-year old, who won bronze in the S9 400m Freestyle on his Paralympic debut in Rio last summer, eclipsed that in fine style to score 850 points and top the podium.
Tom Hamer broke the European and British S14 records in the same event with a PB in the heats.
The S14 swimmers didn’t progress to the final in Sheffield, with the 100m Freestyle not an event on their Paralympic programme.
And 18-year old Hamer left nothing in the pool with his morning swim, lowering his PB by more than a second to 53.75.
A successful first day for England’s swimmers saw double Paralympic champion Hannah Russell win 100m Freestyle gold.
The S12 swimmer scored 933 points to come out on top in the women’s event after clocking 59.77 in the final.
Steph Millward was the only other to pass 900 points on the day. The S8 swimmer came home in 1:06.62 for 916 points.
Maisie Summers-Newton catches eye with PB for breaststroke silver
Northampton’s Maisie Summers-Newton marked herself as one to watch for 2017 with a PB for silver in the MC 100m Breaststroke.
The 14-year old started the season with a lifetime best of 1:51.62 for 100m Breast, set at the National Championships in December 2016.
But after slicing 10 seconds off that time already in 2017, Summers-Newton sailed under the 1:40 marker in both heats and final – the first SB6 swimmer to do so this season.
The young English swimmer finished with a PB of 1:39.24 in the final, landing her 902 points and moving her to second in the British all-time rankings for the SB6 100m Breaststroke.
Double Paralympic medallist Charlotte Henshaw sits at the top of those rankings with her British record 1:36.94 from the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow.
Only Norway’s four-time Paralympic gold medallist Sarah Louise Rung (SB4) could beat Summers-Newton’s tally in Sheffield, scoring 912 for her 1:47.07 effort to land gold.
Colchester Phoenix teenager Ellie Challis was the third English gold medallist of the day, winning the MC 50m Breaststroke.
The 13-year old, who swims in the S2 classification, finished in 1:25.47 with Japan’s S2 swimmer Yuki Omukai second on 2:47.43.
- Click here to view full results from the British Para-Swimming International Meet 2017.
Paralympic champion Brad Snyder and tapper Brian Loeffler explain their tricks in the pool.
Otherwise, they would collide with the wall.
This is where the swimmer’s tapper comes into play.
A tapper is a person who lets the swimmer know when they are approaching the end of the pool by “tapping” them either once or twice.
Timing, the swimmer’s preference and repetition, repetition, repetition, are all important, as five-time US Paralympic champion Brad Snyder and his tapper Brian Loeffler explain the tricks and techniques to visually impaired swimming:
1. How do you manage to swim in a straight line?
Brad Snyder: Practice, practice, and more practice … and even then, I still veer off course. That being said, the ways I attempt to stay straight are by always training with symmetry in mind, both in and out of the water.
I try to train so that my body is strong on both sides, and that I am employing both sides equally. Even still, I still notice differences in strength from one side to the other. So I note these differences and compete with that awareness.
I have modified my arm recovery, dragging my fingers along the surface of the water so that if I veer off course toward the lane line, I will hopefully detect the lane line with my fingers, allowing me to correct course before I crash and lose precious time.
2. How do you know (if even) where your opponents are?
BS: I don’t! That’s the magic of blind swimming. We are not really racing each other so much as we’re racing ourselves.
3. How do you know if you are first, second, third, etc.? Or does that matter?
BS: I don’t! I often imagine that I am behind so that it’s easier to dig down deep towards the end of a race!
4. When a tapper taps your head, what does that tell you? How do you know when to turn for another lap?
BS: The tapper taps my back, not my head. When I get the tap, I immediately turn. We feel as though this eliminates any potential errors in stroke counting or whatever else. I try to simplify things as much as possible, so our strategy is ‘tap, then turn!’ Nothing else!
5. Have you been a “tapper” before you worked with Brad? What are some differences among athletes and their tapping preferences?
Brian Loeffler: Before I coached Philip Schultz who was a 2008 Paralympian. … That’s where I had my first experience and really learned how to tap.
There are other nuisances with tapping. There’s no official [tapping device].* It’s not a standard piece of equipment. It’s a really homemade device. Some people use long fishing poles. Brad would tend to use a cane that we could fold up to transport easily and it usually had a tennis ball at the end.
What also varies for each person is that some people like to be struck on the head. And some people like to be struck on the back. Brad likes the back. Philip likes the head.
6. What is key between a tapper and the swimmer?
BS: Consistency. It helps the tapper to know my race strategy and what pace I will be coming into the wall. It helps me if the tapper taps at the same point every time. When we get on the same page, the turn should look exactly like an able-bodied swimmer’s turn. You shouldn’t even be able to tell that I’m blind.
BL: I think it’s really important to have a tapper you trust because you’re swimming at a fast rate into the wall and you have to know that the tapper is going to tap you, and at a point where you’re not too far away or close to the wall.
Some other folks like a long tapping device like 14 feet long. So they get to tap further out and take a couple of strokes before they flip in. Brad’s preference is to be closer so that it’s more immediate and he knows when to flip.
7. What else is important for a tapper on the pool deck?
BL: You have to just focus on your swimmer. Don’t get distracted with what’s going on in the race, where they are in the race or where their competitors are. Don’t look at the stands. Your sole job is to focus on them and gauge their speed. It’s very much like a relay takeoff. You have to anticipate how fast they’re moving, and when the point is when they want to receive the tap.
I think some other things tappers might be afraid of when they’re starting out is being too timid. … They need to be struck fairly hard. They would rather be struck hard and feel the tap rather than question oh was that a tap? Or was that a bump on the lane line?
Tappers also can’t communicate with the swimmers. No words of encouragement or strategy.
8. What other facts should we know about how visually impaired swimmers swim?
BS: The most interesting dynamic to me is that after the race, we don’t find out the outcome for quite a while because we can’t see the scoreboard. It’s excruciating to sit in the pool, listening to everyone cheer, hoping it’s for you, but not being sure.
(*) While there are no set length regulations in the current rulebook, all tapping devices must be deemed safe by the Technical Officials at all international World Para Swimming competitions (rule 126.96.36.199).
Lewis White described it as a “confidence booster” after lowering the S9 category British record as he won the 100m freestyle at the British Para-swimming international meet at Ponds Forge in Sheffield.
The City of Derby swimmer, a bronze medallist over 400m at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, won the men’s 100m freestyle in an S9 British record 57.18.
Club-mate Megan Neave is also competing in Sheffield. She swam 1:13.77 in the women’s 100m freestyle heats and 1:43.11 in the 100m breaststroke heats.
White, from Swadlincote, said: “I’ve been trying to get my 100m time down for a while now.
“The last time I did it was last season, so it feels good – a real confidence-booster. It feels good and I wasn’t really expecting it. I knew I was going into the final second (fastest), so I thought I’d just focus on the swim and see what happens.”
The meet at Sheffield is part of the new “world series” for para-swimmers.
“It’s good that we have the world series here,” said White, who turned 17 11 days ago. Swimmers from all over the world can come in and it adds more of a challenge to it, more drive to it.”
White still has several events to compete it at the meeting and added: “I’ll just take them as they come and see what happens.”