WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS NOTEBOOK, Issue Six: USA Takes Gold In 5K Open Water Team Event, Cielo Cleared

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS NOTEBOOK, Issue Six: USA Takes Gold In 5K Open Water Team Event, Cielo Cleared

July 21, 2011


Duke graduate Ashley Twichell won a gold medal in her international debut Thursday when Team USA won the 5K Open Water Team Pursuit at the XIV FINA World Aquatic Championships in Shanghai, China.

Twichell teamed with Andrew Gemmell and Sean Ryan to win the 3.1-mile race in 57:00.6 minutes at the Jinshan City Beach.

“It was pretty incredible for a 5K race to come down to a single second for two teams that started 10 minutes apart,” Gemmell said. “It just shows you how tight the race was.”

Australia, with Melissa Gorman, Rhys Mainstone and Ky Hurst, finished second, just 1.2 seconds behind Team USA at 57:01.8.

“To win silver in a team event like this is a fantastic feeling and it’s something new for open water swimming which is great,” Mainstone said. “Now I know how pool swimmers feel when they represent Australia in a relay.”

Germany, with Jan Wolfgarten, 10K runner-up Thomas Lurz and Isabelle Haerle took the bronze with a third place finish in 54:44.2.

The team 5K open water event is a new world championship event this year with each of the 17 teams featuring men and women swimmers.

Twichell qualified to represent the U.S. with a third place at the 2011 10K Open Water National Championships last month in Fort Lauderdale.

Twichell will also compete with the remaining U.S. open water swimmers in the 5K open water event on Friday and 25K marathon is Saturday.

World 25K champion Linsy Heister of the Netherlands has withdrawn from the 25K in protest because the water is too hot for the lengthy race. After talking to his coach and country’s medical staff, Heister said there are serious health risks and he would not feel safe swimming.

Cesar Cielo Cleared To Swim

Brazilian Olympic and world champion Cesar Cielo was cleared to swim in this weekend’s swimming competition in Shanghai. The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the Brazilian swimming federation’s warning after Cielo tested positive for illegal substances. Cielo will now be able to defend his 50- and 100-meter freestyle titles. Cielo, 26, and three other Brazilian swimmers tested positive for Furosemide, a diuretic commonly used as a masking agent for other banned drugs. Cielo and two of the other swimmers, Nicholas dos Santos and Henrique Barbosa, were issued warnings and the fourth, Vinicus Waked, was suspended for one year because it was his second drug offense. FINA asked the CAS to reconsider the ruling and suspend all the swimmers but CAS denied the appeal after a six-hour hearing where Cielo presented evidence he was innocent along with specialist sports doping lawyer Howard Jacobs. The ruling has been criticized by coaches and swimmers saying it’s done a great disservice to swimming and set a dangerous precedent. “He’s obviously happy about it and is looking forward to competing,” Jacobs told reporters after the decision was announced. “The arbitrators agreed there was no intent to cheat and no performance-enhancing.” Cielo trained at the Oriental Sports Center on Thursday.


Favorite Chen Roulin won the gold medal, China’s seventh diving gold medal overall, and fifteen-year-old Hu Yadan surprised her fellow countrywomen in her worlds debut and the rest of the field by taking the silver medal on 10-meter platform. Ruolin led the prelims and semifinals and scored six tens on her final dive for 96 points and 403.65 points overall but Ruolin, the favorite, was more consistent with 405.30. Spain’s Paola Espinosa took the bronze with 377.15 points.

Former University of Miami diver Brittany Viola finished 10th with 308.05 points after qualifying 12th and earning the U.S. its first spot in the 2012 Olympics. It was an improvement on her 18th place finish two years ago when she did not final. She missed her first dive in the final but bounced back including a 72-point effort on her last dive.

“It was extremely exciting to get in the finals because that’s an Olympic spot for our country,” Viola said. “As for my performance, I know there are many improvements I can make but it’s encouraging that I can go home and focus on some things. I’m learning more and more about myself as I compete.”

Water polo

Stanford junior Annika Craig and Lauren Wenger each scored three goals to lead the United States women’s team to a 14-4 victory over Kazakhstan and into the quarterfinals. In other games, Greece edged Russia, 6-5; Spain defeated Brazil, 12-4; South Africa and Cuba tied 9-9; Australia routed Uzbekistan, 27-2; Canada beat New Zealand, 11-4; and Italy edged China, 10-9.  

Synchronized swimming

Delivering a masterful routine to the opera Carmen Suite, Russia dominated the team event and won its fifth gold medal after winning the free combination with 98.470 points. China took the silver with 96.360 points. Canada won its first worlds synchro medal when they took bronze with 96.150 points.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Caroline Kuczynski Ready For Canadian Nationals, Pan Am Trials

SOFLO’s Caroline Kuczynski Ready For Canadian Nationals, Pan Am Trials

July 20, 2011


Caroline Kuczynski grew up before our eyes at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex.

Surrounded by Olympians, national champions and record holders from around the world and guided by six-time Olympic coach Michael Lohberg, Kuczynski quickly learned it would take hard work, sacrifice and dedication to get to the top of the mountain.

She was more than up for the challenge and is steadily climbing that mountain.

At 20, Kuczynski said she has matured since leaving home for Arizona State University, where she will be a junior this fall.

“I definitely am maturing,” Kuczynski said. “I think going away and being on my own at school is part of the growing up process. Not depending so much on my parents and coaches. I think it started last summer. Maturing has definitely been a big factor. I am a much better swimmer than a year ago.”

Kuczynski is enjoying an outstanding year in swimming at both the college and national level representing her native Canada. She qualified for the NCAA Division I Championships, was named to the Aug. 12-23 World University Games, her first major international meet, won a gold medal at the Canada Cup and bettered her career-best times. 

On Thursday, she will try to add to her good fortune when she competes in the Canadian Summer National Championships, which are also serving as the 2011 Pan American Games qualifier.

Kuczynski’s Canadian swim club, Pointe-Claire, one of Canada’s top clubs, will host the national championships Thursday through Sunday at the new state-of-the-art aquatic center in Quebec.

Kuczynski is one of twenty-two senior national swimmers from Pointe-Claire Swim Club competing in the meet. More than 350 swimmers from 100 teams from across Canada will participate.

“Having that many swimmers qualify for such a national event is testament to the caliber and depth of talent of our team,” said head coach Ryan Mallette.

Swimming Canada’s flagship event of the summer, the Canadian Summer Nationals will feature some of Canada’s top swimmers including Kuczynski. Many are in Shanghai, China preparing for the swimming events of the World Aquatic Championships that begin on Sunday.

Kuczynski will compete in the 50-meter butterfly (27.27) in Thursday’s opening event and her signature event 100-meter butterfly (59.95) on Saturday.

“This is definitely the biggest meet of the summer,” Kuczynski said. “My main goal definitely is this meet. This has been my main focus. I definitely want to make the Pan American Games. I have a good shot. These little steps will get me there, London 2012.”

Adding the 50 butterfly to her events list has helped with her speed in the 100 and helped convince her she is fast.

“I need to know the speed is there and I won’t die as much. I need to go out fast and bring it home.

“I wasn’t a sprinter but I started getting good at it, then I won a silver in the 50 fly at summer nationals, it was my first national medal. I was really shocked. It was like wow, I went from not doing the event to being really surprised and happy with it. This is definitely helping my 100.”

Kuczynski went to Canada to train for a month before nationals.

“It was all on me, I was on my own,” she said. “It’s all about knowing my body, knowing my training, doing my own workouts, my own swimming. I also taught myself to be happy and to have fun, not take myself so seriously and the good results will come.”

A former high school state champion, record holder and team captain at American Heritage Plantation, Kuczynski credits the atmosphere she grew up around.

“I definitely am really proud of everything I have accomplished, it all comes back to base,” she said. “I grew up in Coral Springs and had a good base for everything knowing what Michael taught me. I grew up with a big family, it helped me know who I am.

“It’s hard work but worth it. I am definitely going in the right direction. I have improved from summer to April and hopefully to now. I know I can do well.”

Like everyone else touched by Lohberg, who died April 4 after a lengthy illness, Kuczynski misses him dearly, but his coaching input and words of wisdom are always with her.

“I want to make Michael proud,” she said.

The top two finishers in each event will qualify for the Pan American Games later this fall in Guadalajara, Mexico.

“If I made Pan American Games it would mean the world to me, it would be a bonus,” Kuczynski said. “It would be a stepping stone to London.”

SwimCam Web TV will be broadcasting the finals as a webcast. More information can be found at

Sharon Robb can be reached at