WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
July 20, 2013
Longtime and well-respected USA Swimming and Florida Gold Coast official Jay Thomas of Plantation was selected to represent USA Swimming, the sport’s national governing body, in Barcelona.
The retired airline pilot will officiate at the FINA World Aquatic Championships that began Saturday in Barcelona, Spain.
Thomas is among 36 individuals representing 20 countries chosen to officiate. Spain, because it’s the host country, has the largest number of officials.
Thomas is one of two U.S. officials. He will serve as a stroke judge.
Thomas, whose daughter Barbara was a top age group and high school swimmer, has been involved with swimming for more than two decades.
Thomas is a Glen S. Hummer Award recipient and has international, national and local experience on the pool deck. He has officiated at FINA World Swimming Championships, national and local open water events and pool meets at all levels.
Thomas has served on the USA Swimming Rules Committee and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Board. He also trains and certifies swimming officials, many in South Florida. He also oversees the Florida Gold Coast website.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS UNDER WAY
While the pool swimming competition is still a week away, open water swimming and synchronized diving kicked off the FINA World Aquatic Championships Saturday in Barcelona.
American Haley Anderson of the Trojan Swim Club won the first gold medal at the world championships in the competitive 5K open water race in the city’s Moll de la Fusta Harbor.
Anderson won the exciting women’s race in 56:34.2 ahead of Brazil’s Poliana Okimoto in 56:34.4.
“I learned from the past to stay calm and confident,” Anderson said. “After Poliana took the lead I was drafting behind her until the finish. I decided to stay on her feet until the last 300 meters and then sprint to the finish.”
Brazilian Ana Marcela Cunha, who trains with Davie Nadadores and has won several Fort Lauderdale open water events, was third in 56:44.7. The next eight places were separated by only four seconds.
Clearwater’s Becca Mann was eighth in 58:46.4.
In the men’s race, Tunisia’s Olympic gold medalist Ous Mellouli, also of the Trojan Swim Club, held off Canadian newcomer Eric Hedlin to win the gold medal. It was his second consecutive victory in a major open water race.
Mellouli surged in the final 100 meters to win in 53:30.4 and Hedlin finished in 53:31.6. Germany’s Thomas Lurz was third in 53:32.2.
“I didn’t expect to win the 5K, I am really happy with the results,” Mellouli said. “I did take six months off and got back into training not too long ago. To be on top of the world is quite exciting for me.”
MASTERS HALL OF FAME
Eight masters swimmers will be inducted into the Fort Lauderdale-based International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2013.
The induction ceremony, that features four swimmers, one diver, one synchro swimmer, one water polo player and one contributor from the U.S., Japan, Australia and Canada, will be held Sept. 13 at the Hyatt Regency in Anaheim, Calif., in conjunction with the U.S. Aquatic Sports Convention.
The inductees are swimmers Judie Oliver of Canada, Jenny Whiteley of Australia, Edward Cazalet of the U.S. and Hiromu Yoshimoto of Japan; U.S. diver Felix Grossman, U.S. synchro swimmers Holly Kyle, U.S. water polo player Mike Haley and U.S. contributor Ted Haartz.
PHELPS, FRANKLIN HONORED
Swimmers Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin were honored at the recent ESPY Awards.
Phelps won two ESPYs for best record-breaking performance by breaking the record for most all-time Olympic medals with 22 and best male Olympic athlete.
During his acceptance speech, Phelps thanked retired Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis for helping him end his career the way he wanted.
Franklin, who was at the U.S. training camp in Balbao prepping for worlds, was named the best female Olympic athlete. Franklin won five medals including four golds, in London.
Phelps brought Golf Channel’s Win McMurry to the awards ceremony. Phelps caddied for the blond at the PGA Tour Wives Classic at The Players Championship in May.
The award ceremony, held Wednesday at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, had its moments when actor and host Jon Hamm said during his skit that “Ryan Lochte proved he is not the sharpest knife in the drawer…he’s adorable. Lochte won five medals in London, and only two of them were damaged when he tried to find out if there was chocolate inside.”
Speaking of Phelps, he will be in Barcelona but only as a spokesperson for Speedo, one of his major sponsors. The 28-year-old continues to hone his golf game while playing pro-am tournaments. Phelps has dropped 30 strokes, from 110 to the consistent mid-80s, by working with The Golf Channel’s Hank Haney. His handicap is now 18. Phelps made his American Century Championship debut in Lake Tahoe which will be televised on NBC Sports Network on Saturday and Sunday.
MORE BENEFITS OF SWIMMING
A global study from Speedo found 73 percent of people who already swim or want to start swimming believe that it is the only sport that can be done for life. If they swim for fitness, they will live a healthier life than those who take part in other forms of fitness, including land-based exercise. In addition, 86 percent believe swimming provides a better workout and 71 percent feel physically fitter as a result of swimming compared to any other form of exercise. It’s not only the health benefits that make swimming the best fitness choice, but also its physical attractiveness. According to 76 percent surveyed, they believe regular swimming results in a better body than any other form of exercise. They also believe that swimming is more fun than other forms of exercise with more than 90 percent saying that swimming is a stress reliever.
Florida Gulf Coast coach Neal Studd continues to attract world-class swimmers to his women’s program. The former FAU coach signed Dutch national backstroke record holder Kira Toussaint. In short course meters she is the fastest Dutch backstroker in history. Toussaint, 19, will join the program’s first-ever NCAA qualifier and backstroker Emma Svensson of Sweden, freshman Nina Schiffer of Germany and Brazil’s Marcella Marinheiro of SOFLO, a West Broward High School alum. Lake Lytal swimmer Victoria Ho transferred from Florida in January.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com