Katie Ledecky Five-Peats At FINA World Aquatics Championships

By Sharon Robb
BUDAPEST, Hungary, June 24, 2022–Katie Ledecky, the greatest woman swimmer of all time, won her fifth consecutive gold medal in the 800 freestyle Friday night at the 19th FINA World Aquatics Championships at Duna Arena.

Ledecky, 25, swimming in her “favorite event” is the first swimmer in history to win five straight world titles in the same event.

Ledecky, a grad assistant coach at University of Florida where she trains with Anthony Nesty, pulled away early in the race to win in 8:08.04, winning by nearly 11 seconds. It was the fifth fastest time in the event.

Aussie Kiah Melverton was second in 8:18.77 and Simona Quadarella of Italy was third in 8:19.00.

It was Ledecky’s 19th gold medal at world championships, moving her ahead of Ryan Lochte just behind leader Michael Phelps with 26 gold medals.

“I’m happy with it, I can’t complain,” Ledecky said. “I thought it was a little faster than that, but that’s the fastest I’ve been in a while, so really thrilled with that and really excited about the future as well.

“Year after year it’s really hard work,” Ledecky said. “In London I won my first gold ten years ago, back then they said I was a one-hit wonder and here we are, ten years later and I have another gold.

“It was a great week, probably the most fun I’ve had in a meet in a long time,” Ledecky said. “And the results showed. It’s just a really special team, and I know we’re not finished.”

There are 23 Florida Gold Coast swimmers wrapping up their swims on one of swimming’s biggest international stages.

Other FGC swimmers who competed on Friday were:

Michaela Sierra, 17, Uruguay, (Azura, South Florida Heat, Auburn), 50 breaststroke, 43rd, 34.25.

Jahir Lopez, 17, Ecuador, (Azura) 1500 freestyle, 23rd, 16:57.92.

Yeziel Morales, 26, Puerto Rico, (Azura), 50 backstroke, 33rd, 26.23.

Jillian Crooks, 15, Cayman Islands (TS Aquatics), 50 freestyle, 41st, 26.75.

No FGC swimmers are scheduled to compete on Saturday.

Four swimmers, including University of Florida’s Anna Auld of West Palm Beach, are entered in open water events which begin on Sunday with the 6K team relay (4×1500) off Lupa Beach. The 5K is Monday, 10K on Wednesday and 25K on Thursday.

In Friday night’s final events:
WOMEN’S 50 BUTTERFLY: Sarah Sjostrum of Sweden won the event for a record fourth consecutive time in 24.95. She also won the 50 fly in 2015, 2017 and 2019. She tied Michael Phelps with a record eight gold medals in butterfly events at worlds. Melanie Henique of France took silver in 25.31 and China’s Zhang Yufeli took bronze in 25.32. Americans Claire Curzan (25.43) and Torri Huske (25.45) were fifth and sixth.

MEN’S 50 FREESTYLE: In a wide open race with Caeleb Dressel and Bruno Fratus out of the field, Brit veteran sprinter Ben Proud, 27, dominated the field to win his first long course world gold medal in 21.32, 9/100ths ahead of Michael Andrew in 21.41, the American’s third individual world and fourth overall medal. Frenchman Maxime Grousset, who knocked Fratus out of a swim-off for the eighth spot in finals, was third in 21.57.

Proud had the best reaction time off the blocks in 0.57. Proud is the first British swimmer to ever win a world title in the event.

“This medal today, gold, silver, bronze, no matter what it was, it was always going to be for my brilliant team around me this year,” Proud said. “So I’m really chuffed to be able to bring something home. Big disappointment after the 50 fly. I really made a big mistake in that, but that fired me up for today and I’m much happier to be leaving a freestyle world champion.”

MEN’S 100 BUTTERFLY: Even though Hungarian Kristof Milak and American Michael Andrew turned together at the 50, it was Milak who turned it on to win his second gold medal of the meet in 50.14. Japan’s Naoki Mizunuma was second in 50.94 and Canadian Josh Liendo was third in 50.97. Andrew faltered to fourth in 51.11.

WOMEN’S 200 BACKSTROKE: In an exciting finish, Aussie Kaylee McKeown won gold in 2:05.08 just out-touching Americans Phoebe Bacon (2:05.12) and Rhyan White (2:06.96). It was the first time the U.S. won two medals in the event.

MIXED 4X100 FREESTYLE RELAY: With Mollie O’Callaghan swimming anchor, Australia broke the world record in 3:19.38 to dethrone the U.S., winners of the past three worlds since 2015. Jack Cartwright, Kyle Chalmers and Madison Wilson joined O’Callaghan on the relay. The Aussies shaved 2/100ths of a second off the 2019 record held by the U.S. Canada was second in 3:20.61 and the U.S. was third in 3:21.09.

Saturday prelim events are women’s 400IM, men’s 4×100 medley relay and women’s 4×100 medley relay. It is the final day of pool swimming.

The U.S. added five more medals to its tally of 15 gold, 8 silver and 14 bronze for 37. Australia is second with 15 total (6 golds, 8 silver, 1 bronze).

The aquatics championships that also feature diving, water polo, high diving, open water swimming and synchronized swimming end July 3.

The Olympic Channel and Peacock, on the NBC platform, is televising the finals at noon each day. A highlights show will be on NBC at noon on June 26.

Saturday, June 25: 50 men’s back, 50 women’s breast, 1500 men’s free, 50 women’s free, 400 women’s IM, 4×100 men’s and women’s medley relay.

Sunday, June 26: Open water, 6K team relay.

Monday, June 27: Open water, men’s and women’s 5K.

Wednesday, June 29: Open water, men’s and women’s 10K.

Thursday, June 30: Open water, men’s and women’s 25K.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

Title IX Celebrates 50th Anniversary

By Sharon Robb
FORT LAUDERDALE, June 23, 2022—Today girls and women around the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX.

Title IX eliminated discrimination based on gender in federally-funded programs. The historic act, signed by President Richard Nixon, paved the way for equal access to sports for all girls and women in the U.S.

Even though Title IX was intended to equalize college admission, its most visible achievement was the inclusion of women in interscholastic sports, leading to an explosion in numerous youth sports for girls including swimming.

On June 23, 1972 Title IX legislation became law. Before it became law, women’s teams did not exist or had sub-standard facilities, no coaching staffs and were never recognized for their achievements.

Before Title IX, fewer than 300,000 girls competed in high school sports. Today, that number has grown to 3.3 million. In college, the number of participants rose from fewer than 32,000 to more than 220,000 today.

During the National Senior Games held recently in Fort Lauderdale, several athletes shared their personal stories how tough it was before Title IX.

One of the most unforgettable stories was that of Kathrine Switzer, a 20-year-old college student when she registered to run the 1967 Boston Marathon, her first marathon. Early in the race, race director Jock Semple charged onto the course and tried to physically rip off her bib number and remove her from the competition. Kathrine’s boyfriend pushed him out of the way and despite taunts from media to quit, Switzer finished the race.

“That’s what everybody wanted me to do, was to quit. So, I really, really had to finish,” Switzer said.

“I was only 20. I often say that when I first ran that Boston Marathon, I started it as a girl, but I finished it as a grown woman, because it gave me a real life plan. And that life plan was to somehow create opportunities for other women to run, and what a joy it was to spend the rest of my life really doing that.”

When Alice Tym went to the University of Florida in 1960 there was no women’s tennis team, so she started one, serving as coach, captain and top player from 1960–1964.

“We didn’t have any sponsorship or coaches, or help of any kind, but now they do. And thanks to Title IX, it’s a law,” Tym said. “Everyone wins when opportunities are increased.”

“It shows anything is possible and that even the most stubborn human beings can eventually change,” Switzer said. “Cheers, Happy Anniversary to all of us.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO Heads Field For SOFLO TYR Last Chance Summer Invite

By Sharon Robb
PEMBROKE PINES, June 23, 2022—Swimmers will have another opportunity to qualify for various upcoming meets at this weekend’s SOFLO TYR Last Chance Summer Invite at Academic Village Pool.

The three-day meet, featuring several of the Florida Gold Coast top swimmers and one of the most competitive fields, begins Friday with prelims at 8 a.m. for swimmers 13-and-older followed by prelims for 12-and-unders at 12:30 p.m. Championship finals are 7 p.m.

Action continues Saturday, again with prelims at 8 a.m. for 13-and-older followed by prelims for 12-and-unders at 12:30 p.m. Championship finals are 7 p.m. Finals events will swim in the following order: 10-and-under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-over girls, then 10-and-under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-over boys.

On Sunday, timed finals begin 10:30 a.m. and expected to end at 11:37 a.m.

SOFLO heads the field with 112 swimmers (61 boys and 51 girls) in 628 individual events.

Among SOFLO top seeds are:
Ricardo Roche, 22, 100 backstroke, 59.66.
Elena Dinehart, 17, 100 backstroke, 1:04.98; 200 backstroke 2:17.97.
Olivia Dinehart, 17, 100 breaststroke, 1:12.54; 200 IM 2:22.11; 200 breaststroke 2:34.85; 400 IM 4:59.47.
Maddie Smutny, 17, 400 freestyle, 4:24.72; 100 butterfly 1:03.50; 200 freestyle 2:06.10.
Sofia Gomez, 12, 100 backstroke 1:19.74.
Jemma Baldwin, 11, 400 freestyle 5:15.61; 200 freestyle 2:28.56.
Wisthon Rendon, 17, 200 backstroke 2:10.52.
Jiana Amores, 11, 50 freestyle 31.33.
Ellie Jackson, 11, 50 backstroke 33.26; 200 backstroke 1:22.78.
David Valdiviezo, 12, 100 butterfly 1:16.95.
Dominic Bono, 18, 1500 freestyle 16:28.94.
Sarah Vasquez, 14, 50 butterfly 35.19; 50 breaststroke 45.41.
Rainier Leyva Riestra, 14, 200 butterfly, 1:21.56.
Isabella Bartoli, 14, 50 backstroke 42.02.
Luca Hincapie, 15, 50 butterfly 28.99; 50 breaststroke 35.62.
Armando Bertea, 15, 50 backstroke 33.26.

In addition to host SOFLO, among other Florida Gold Coast clubs competing are Azura, Swim Fort Lauderdale, Gulliver, Boca Raton Swim Team, Olympus, Coral Springs Swim Club, Shelton Doral, Hialeah Swim Club, Florida Keys Swim Club, Cooper City Cyclones, North Miami Swim Team and Miami Swimming.

Admission is $5 per session. Admission allows spectators to enter the pool only within the barricaded area.

Meet and SOFLO club sponsor TYR is a USA manufacturer of recreational and competitive swimwear, caps, goggles, triathlon gear and accessories and one of the nation’s top companies.

TYR, created by athletes, is named for the Norse god of warriors in Germanic mythology.

Among its sponsored athletes are 2020 Olympians Michael Andrew, Tom Shields, Nic Fink, Townley Haas, Bobby Finke, Jordan Wilimovsky, Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky, Lilly King, Annie Lazor, Ashley Twichell, Torri Huske, Claire Curzan and other elite swimmers Matt Grevers, Maxime Rooney, Jacob Pebley, Ryan Lochte, David Curtiss, Melanie Margalis, Molly Hannis and Kelsi Dahlia.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com