Wellbrock Breaks World Record; FGC’s Sid Cassidy Honored At FINA Short Course World Championships


By Sharon Robb
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, December 21, 2021–The final day of the 15th FINA Short Course World Championships ended with the fourth world record of the meet Tuesday at Etihad Arena.

Germany’s Florian Wellbrock broke the world record in the 1500-meter freestyle in 14:06.88. Wellbrock pulled away from the field at the midway mark. The previous record was 14:08.06 set in 2015 by Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri, who was fourth in Tuesday’s race in 14:21.00. Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia was second in 14:10.94 and the Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk was third in 14:11.47.

Three other world records were set earlier in the week. Siobhan Haughey broke the 200-meter freestyle world record in 1:50.43. Margaret MacNeil broke the world record in the 50-meter backstroke and Sweden equaled the 4×50-meter medley relay world record.

The three individual swimmers and four relay swimmers earned an additional $50,000 in addition to their $10,000 first place prize money.

In addition, five world junior records and 11 meet records were broken. Swimmers from 28 countries earned at least one medal, the most countries ever awarded at a short course world championship.

“I want to thank everyone in the aquatics family, in particular the incredible athletes, for ending this challenging year with so many incredible performances during this historic FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi,” said President Captain Husain Al-Musallam.

“The world-class Etihad Arena and the beautiful shores of Yas Island have provided the ultimate environment for athletes to set world and national records and provide family-friendly entertainment for thousands of passionate swimming fans.”

In local short course world championship news, St. Andrew’s Aquatics Director and head coach Sid Cassidy was awarded the first Dennis Miller Award during the FINA Gala as an outstanding open water organizer.

In other championship final action:

Italy’s Alessandro Miressi held on to win the 100-meter freestyle in a national record 45.57 just ahead of American Ryan Held in 45.63.

American Emily Escobedo won the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:17.85, 3/100ths ahead of Evgeniia Chikunova of the Russian Swimming Federation. It was only the second individual gold medal of the meet for the U.S. women.

In another close race, Poland’s Radoslaw Kawecki surged in the final 50 to win the 200-meter backstroke in 1:48.68 ahead of American Shaine Casas in 1:48.81.

Canadian Maggie MacNeil won the 100-meter butterfly in 55.04. American Claire Curzan broke the world junior record in 55.39 and was third.

American Nic Fink won the 50-meter breaststroke in 25.53.

Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom won the 50-meter freestyle in a meet record 23.08.

The U.S. women won the 4×50-meter freestyle relay in 1:34.22 just ahead of Sweden in 1:34.54 with Abbey Weitzeil, Claire Curzan, Katharine Berkoff and Kate Douglass.

Italy won the men’s 4×100-meter medley relay in a meet record 3:19.76 ahead of the U.S. with swimmers Lorenzo Mora, Nicolo Martinenghi, Matteo Rivolta and Alessandro Miressi.

FINA paid out $2.8 million in prize money, a 50 percent increase in prize money for individual swimmers. There was also a $50,000 bonus given to any swimmer who breaks a world record.

The top eight individual payoffs for first through eighth place were $10,000, $8,000, $7,000, $6,000, $5,000, $4,000, $3,000 and $2,000.

There were 943 swimmers from 183 countries competing. The 16th FINA World Swimming Championships will be held Dec. 17-22 , 2022 at the Aquatics Palace in Kazan, Russia.

FINA and Myrtha Pools also announced the renewal of their long term partnership that will see Myrtha continue as one of FINA’s Official Partners for the next four years through 2025.

FINA also confirmed the meet had 37 positive COVID-19 cases including 15 athletes. Seven nations including Singapore and Nigeria were also forced to withdraw because of the restrictions.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com
http://www.swim4soflo.com

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Ends Illustrious Career; Dylan Carter Takes Silver At FINA Short Course World Championships


By Sharon Robb
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, December 20, 2021–South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson took her final bow on the world stage Monday at the 15th FINA Short Course World Championships at Etihad Arena.

The five-time Jamaican Olympian, after being disqualified earlier in the week in the 50-meter breaststroke semifinals, bounced back to finish fourth in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:04.03, her signature event and one she shares the world record (1:02.36) with Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte.

In her last hurrah, Atkinson, 33, finished behind China’s Qianting Tang (1:03.47, Asian record), Sweden’s Sophie Hansson (1:03.50) and Ireland’s Mona McSharry (1:03.92) in her final competitive meet. She had won the 100 breaststroke in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

“Not the meet I hoped for but I am happy to say I finished every ounce of swimming talent God gave me, the bottle empty. Many times I wanted to quit or give up, but I saw it through to the end,” Atkinson wrote in a post to social media.

Atkinson said her long run career was “remarkable” and “a rollercoaster of fun and not so fun moments”.

Her advice to up-and-coming swimmers:

  • Make fun memories…they don’t make themselves.
  • Take nothing for granted and enjoy each step both the good and the challenging.
  • Let go of the negatives of the day.
  • Your best changes daily, so do the best you can on that day.

SOFLO teammate Julio Horrego, representing Honduras, was 26th in the 50-meter breaststroke in 27.38 in his final event of the meet.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Dylan Carter, a Plantation American Heritage alum, took silver in the 50-meter butterfly in 21.98, just behind Brazil’s 41-year-old world record holder Nicholas Santos in 21.93. Santos became the oldest swimmer to win a world title. Carter swam the third fastest time in the semifinals in a national time 22.18.

In championship final action:

To kick off the finals, the U.S. and Russian Swimming Federation tied for gold in the 4×50-meter medley relay in 1:30.51. The U.S. relay of Shaine Casas, Nic Fink, Tom Shields and Ryan Held also broke the American short course record.

Canadian Sydney Pickrem won the 200-meter individual medley in 2:04.29.

Canada also won the 4×200-meter freestyle relay won in 7:32.96 with relay swimmers Summer McIntosh, Kayla Sanchez, Katherine Savard and Rebecca Smith, ahead of the U.S. in 7:36.53.

Canada won another gold medal in the 50-meter backstroke when Maggie MacNeil broke the world record of 25.60 in 25.27.

Japan world record holder Daiya Seto led from start to finish to win the 400-meter individual medley in 3:56.26. Runner-up Illia Borodin of the Russian Swimming Federation broke the junior world record in 3:56.47.

The five-day meet concludes Tuesday.

FINA is offering a prize money pool of $2.8 million, a 50 percent increase in prize money for individual swimmers. There is also be a $50,000 bonus for any swimmer who breaks a world record.

The top eight individual payoffs for first through eighth place are $10,000, $8,000, $7,000, $6,000, $5,000, $4,000, $3,000 and $2,000.

There are 943 swimmers from 183 countries competing. The swimming is part of the Aquatics Festival which includes open water swimming, high diving and diving team competition.

Final sessions of the pool swimming will be streamed on NBC Sports’ Olympic Channel. Eurovision Sport’s All Aquatics will air the heats.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com
http://www.swim4soflo.com

SOFLO’s Atkinson, Horrego Race Monday; U.S. Men Break American Relay Record At FINA Short Course World Championships


By Sharon Robb
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, December 19, 2021–South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson redeemed herself and will have one last shot at a medal in her final career 100-meter breaststroke race on Monday.

The five-time Jamaican Olympian, after being disqualified earlier in the week in the 50-meter breaststroke semifinals, earned the fourth fastest seed in the semifinals Sunday at the 15th FINA Short Course World Championships at Etihad Arena.

Atkinson, 33, qualified fourth in 1:04.26 behind China’s Qianting Tang (1:03.99), Sweden’s Sophie Hansson (1:04.17) and Ireland’s Mona McSharry (1:04.22).

SOFLO teammate Julio Horrego, representing Honduras, will also swim on Monday in the 50-meter breaststroke prelims.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Dylan Carter, a Plantation American Heritage alum, swam the third fastest time in the semifinals of the 50-meter butterfly in a national time 22.18 and is in medal contention going into the final.

In championship final action:

The U.S. men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay broke the American record to win gold in 6:47.00 with relay members Kieran Smith, Trenton Julian, Carson Foster and Ryan Held. Julian had the fastest split of 1:41.35. The previous record was 6:49.58 set in 2010.

Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands won the 50-meter butterfly in a meet record 24.44, second fastest women’s 50 butterfly of all-time. American 17-year-old Claire Curzan broke the world junior record in 24.55 and took the bronze.

Kliment Kolesnikov of the Russian Swimming Federation won his first gold medal of the meet, winning the 100-meter individual medley in 51.09. Less than a hour later, he won the 50-meter backstroke in 22.66. Christian Diener of Germany and Lorenzo More of Italy tied for the silver in 22.90.

Israeli teenager Anastasia Gorbenko continued her outstanding meet winning her second gold medal in the 100-meter individual medley in a best time 57.80. She overtook the lead on the breaststroke and led for the remainder of the race.

China’s Li Bingjie won her second gold of the meet in the 400-meter freestyle in 3:55.83, a day after winning the 800 freestyle.

Great Britain’s Ben Proud won the 50-meter freestyle in 20.45, just 0.05 shy of his national record.

In a hotly-contested race, Italy won the 4×50-meter men’s freestyle relay in 1:23.61, just ahead of the Russian Swimming Federation in 1:23.75 and the Netherlands in 1:23.78.

The five-day meet continues Monday with the pool competition and ends Tuesday.

FINA is offering a prize money pool of $2.8 million, a 50 percent increase in prize money for individual swimmers. There is also be a $50,000 bonus for any swimmer who breaks a world record.

The top eight individual payoffs for first through eighth place are $10,000, $8,000, $7,000, $6,000, $5,000, $4,000, $3,000 and $2,000.

There are 943 swimmers from 183 countries competing. The swimming is part of the Aquatics Festival which includes open water swimming, high diving and diving team competition.

Final sessions of the pool swimming will be streamed on NBC Sports’ Olympic Channel. Eurovision Sport’s All Aquatics will air the heats.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com
http://www.swim4soflo.com

Americans Fink, White Win Gold; SOFLO’s Atkinson Swims Final Event At FINA Short Course World Championships


By Sharon Robb
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, December 18, 2021–The U.S. team rebounded with two gold medals Saturday at the 15th FINA Short Course World Championships at Etihad Arena.

Nic Fink, in fourth place with a lap to go, rallied to win the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:02.28 to win his first gold medal of the meet and second overall. He took bronze in the 100 breaststroke. He was just 0.08 seconds off his American record he set while competing in the International Swimming League.

U.S. teammate Rhyan White won the 200-meter backstroke in 2:01.58. White and Canadian Kylie Masse took turns in the lead before White came on with a 30.86 split on the last lap.

South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson, 33, will go after her final chance at a medal in her final career meet when she competes in the 100-meter breaststroke heats. The five-time Jamaican Olympian was disqualified in the 50-meter breaststroke semifinals. SOFLO teammate Julio Horrego, representing Honduras, has the 50-meter breaststroke on Monday.

In championship final action:

Hong Kong’s Siobahn Haughey won her second gold medal of the meet, winning the 100-meter freestyle in a meet record 50.98. She also won the 200 freestyle earlier in the meet in world record time.

Italy’s Matteo Rivolta won the 100-meter butterfly in 48.87 ahead of South African Chad le Closs in 49.04.

With American Katie Grimes out of the race because of COVID-19 protocols, China’s Li Bingjie won the 800-meter freestyle in a meet record 8:02.90.

The Netherlands won the mixed medley 4×50-meter relay in a meet record 1:36.20 ahead of the U.S., second in 1:37.04, with relay members Kira Toussaint, Arno Kamminga, Thom de Boer and Ranomi Kromowidjojo.

Also on Saturday, Olympic teammates Lydia Jacoby and Katie Grimes withdrew from the meet due to COVID-19 protocols.

Jacoby, the Alaskan who won the 100-meter breaststroke in Tokyo, was the only individual U.S. Olympic gold medalist entered in short course worlds. Grimes, the youngest athlete on the U.S. Olympic team at age 15, was fourth in the 800-meter freestyle in Tokyo.

The five-day meet continues Sunday with the pool competition and ends Tuesday.

FINA is offering a prize money pool of $2.8 million, a 50 percent increase in prize money for individual swimmers. There is also be a $50,000 bonus for any swimmer who breaks a world record.

The top eight individual payoffs for first through eighth place are $10,000, $8,000, $7,000, $6,000, $5,000, $4,000, $3,000 and $2,000.

There are 943 swimmers from 183 countries competing. The swimming is part of the Aquatics Festival which includes open water swimming, high diving and diving team competition.

Final sessions of the pool swimming will be streamed on NBC Sports’ Olympic Channel. Eurovision Sport’s All Aquatics will air the heats.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com
http://www.swim4soflo.com

Dylan Carter Breaks National Record Twice In One Day At FINA Short Course World Championships


By Sharon Robb
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, December 17, 2021–Trinidad and Tobago swimmer Dylan Carter broke the national 100-meter butterfly record twice on Friday at the 15th FINA Short Course World Championships at Etihad Arena.

The Plantation American Heritage alum’s national record of 49.87 in semifinals fell short of advancing into the final. He was sixth in his semifinal race and finished ninth overall, missing finals by 8/100ths of a second.

Carter broke his own national butterfly record first in prelims in 50.22. His previous record was 50.70. His semifinal time was the first time any swimmer from Trinidad and Tobago cracked the 50-second mark.

Carter, 25, won a bronze medal at the World Swimming Championships in the 50-meter butterfly in Hangzhou, China, in December 2018. The two-time Olympian recently finished his International Swimming League season with the London Roar that finished third in the Final Four playoffs.

In championship final action:

Sweden’s 4×50-yard women’s medley relay tied the world record and meet record of 1:42.38 set by the U.S. in 2018. Louise Hansson broke the national 50-yard backstroke on the opening leg in 25.91. Other relay members were Sophie Hansson (29.07 breast split), world record holder Sarah Sjostrum (23.96 butterfly) and Michelle Coleman (23.44 freestyle).

“We were thinking of a medal, gold was also in the cards but never thought we could set a world record, this is fantastic,” said Sophie Hansson, who added a bronze in the 50-meter breaststroke an hour later.

American Shaine Casas, 21, who missed making the 2020 Olympic team by one spot, won his first world title in the 100-meter backstroke in 49.23, just 2/10ths ahead of Russian and former world record holder Kliment Kolesnikov.

“The only thing that was going through my mind before this race was I needed to redeem myself,” Casas said. “I kind of proved that I’m still around and I’m somebody to mess with in the future.

“Once the race started, I kind of blanked out, spinning my arms as fast as I could and by the time I realized what was going on, we were at the end of the third leg,” Casas said. “I did the dolphin-kicks, after that my legs almost stopped working and I was just going for the wall to hit it first before these guys ran me down. It’s a huge jump after the college scene. These guys are on another level, but it takes practice, some confidence and you figure it out very quickly what to do.”

Casas was third in the 100m back at June’s Olympic Trials, where the top two made the team. He was a pre-meet favorite, ranked second in the nation since the start of 2019.

China’s Yufei Zhang won the 200-yard butterfly in 2:03.01 ahead of American Charlotte Hook in 2:04.35. Hook moved from eighth to second in the back half of the race.

Ilya Symanovich of Belarus won the 100-meter breaststroke in a meet record 55.70. The previous record was 56.01 set in 2018 by South African Cameron van der Burgh.

Anastasia Gorbenko became the first woman from Israel to win a world title, winning the 50-meter breaststroke in 29.34. Top seed and world record holder Alia Atkinson of SOFLO was the gold medal favorite before she was disqualified in the semifinals.

South Korea’s Sunwoo Hwang won the 200-meter freestyle in 1:41.60. American Kieran Smith of University of Florida was a distant fifth in 1:42.29.

Sweden’s Louise Hansson won her second gold medal of the day when she won the 100-meter backstroke in a national record 55.20.

“Oh Gosh, I’m overwhelmed,” Hansson said. “Beforehand, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to swim the 100-meter back. Then I saw some progress in the ISL, so I kept it but never thought I could win it. Oh, what an evening, world record in the relay, then another gold, in backstroke… I can’t believe it.”

With an opening split from 19-year-old Josh Liendo, Canada won the mixed 4×50-meter freestyle relay in 1:28.55. He was joined by teammates Yuri Kisil 20.99, Kayla Sanchez (23.51) and Maggie MacNeil (23.11).

The five-day meet continues Saturday with the pool competition and ends Tuesday, Dec. 21.

FINA is offering a prize money pool of $2.8 million, a 50 percent increase in prize money for individual swimmers. There is also be a $50,000 bonus for any swimmer who breaks a world record.

The top eight individual payoffs for first through eighth place are $10,000, $8,000, $7,000, $6,000, $5,000, $4,000, $3,000 and $2,000.

There are 943 swimmers from 183 countries competing. The swimming is part of the Aquatics Festival which includes open water swimming, high diving and diving team competition.

Final sessions of the pool swimming will be streamed on NBC Sports’ Olympic Channel. Eurovision Sport’s All Aquatics will air the heats.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com
http://www.swim4soflo.com

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Heads Large Florida Gold Coast Contingent At FINA Short Course World Championships; Big Prize Money On The Line


By Sharon Robb
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, December 13, 2021–World record holder Alia Atkinson is expected to take her final bow this week at the 15th FINA Short Course World Championships at Etihad Arena.

The five-day meet begins Thursday and ends Tuesday, Dec. 21. Etihad Arena is Yas Island’s new multi-purpose arena set on the stunning waterfront at Yas Bay.

Atkinson will be joined by SOFLO teammate and 2020 Olympian Julio Horrego, representing Honduras.

Atkinson, a five-time Jamaican Olympian who turned 33 on Dec. 11, is expected to retire from the sport at the end of the year. She recently completed her International Swimming League season with the London Roar, that finished third in the final playoffs.

Atkinson competed in her fifth Olympics in Tokyo where she finished third in her 100-meter breaststroke heat and failed to qualify for the semifinals. She did final in London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016 where she finished fourth and eighth respectively.

She told the Jamaica Observer, “If you see me next year, then ask me what happened because that’s not the plan right now.”

Atkinson announced after Tokyo it was her final Olympic appearance.

“It’s funny, looking back the years went by so fast and before I realized it I was looking at the end of it,” Atkinson said. “I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything.”

Atkinson won the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2014 FINA Short Course World Championships in Doha, Qatar. She tied the World Record and gave Jamaica its first swimming gold medal at World Championships. She also took silver in the 50-meter breaststroke in Doha.

The following August, she became the first Jamaican swimmer to win a long course worlds medal when she took bronze in the 100-meter breaststroke and silver in the 50-meter breaststroke at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan.

Atkinson broke her own world record (28.64) in the 50-meter breaststroke (28.56) at the short course meters 2018 World Cup. Later that year she added two more World Championship gold medals in the 50- and 100-meter breaststrokes and bronze in the 100-meter individual medley.

FINA announced the prize money pool for the meet is more than $2.8 million, including a 50 percent increase in prize money for individual swimmers. There will also be a $50,000 bonus for any swimmer who breaks a world record.

The top eight individual payoffs for first through eighth place are $10,000, $8,000, $7,000, $6,000, $5,000, $4,000, $3,000 and $2,000.

In addition to Atkinson and Horrego, the Florida Gold Coast will be well-represented.

Azura Florida Aquatics is sending eight swimmers. They are Steven Aimable, Senegal; Julimar Avila, Honduras; Nicole Frank, Uruguay; Yeziel Morales, Puerto Rico; Maria Fe Munoz, Peru; Kerry Ollivierre, Grenada; Joaquin Vargas, Peru; and Sidrell Williams, Jamaica.

American Heritage Plantation alum and two-time Olympian Dylan Carter will represent Trinidad and Tobago.

St. Andrew’s alum and Florida State swimmer Izaak Bastian will represent the Bahamas.

Gulliver Prep alum and University of Florida senior Miguel Cancel, who trains summers at SOFLO, will represent Puerto Rico.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com
http://www.swim4soflo.com