WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
April 3, 2012
The Fort Lauderdale-based International Swimming Hall of Fame is preparing for its Class of 2012 induction ceremony in May.
The 48th class to be inducted has less name recognition to the American public but it’s no less impressive.
The group features:
Domenico Fioravanti, Italy’s first Olympic champion in swimming; 1988 Olympic gold medal breaststroker Jozsef Szabo of Hungary; Brazilian four-time Olympic swimmer Gustavo Borges; China’s two-time Olympic gold medalist diver Tian Liang; U.S. synchro world champion Jill Sudduth; two-time Olympic gold medalist water polo goalkeeper Jesus Miguel Rollan Prada of Spain; U.S. open water swimming great Chad Hundeby; Hungarian national swim team coach Laszlo Kiss; U.S. diver Frank Kurtz, the first U.S. diver to qualify for three Olympic teams; Eldon Godfrey of Canada, a top diving judge and FINA bureau member and Dr. Julio Maglione, current president of FINA, the sport’s international governing body.
The induction ceremonies are May 11-12 and tickets are on sale at the museum. During induction week, the ATT USA Diving Grand Prix will be held May 10-13 at the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex.
Amanda Beard Book Tour
Seven-time Olympic medalist Amanda Beard is squeezing in a mini-book tour during her training for the Olympic trials and her fifth Olympic games. The 30-year-old mother of two has written In The Water Where They Can’t See You Cry. It hit book stores and news stands on Tuesday and is one of the most touching and revealing stories any athlete in any sport has written. She writes candidly about how she struggled with her parents’ divorce and a time in her life when she was bulimic, abused drugs and alcohol and started cutting herself with a razor. Beard is hoping to reach females and young athletes. “I didn’t want people to think and look at me like I have led this great life and won a bunch of medals,” Beard said. “I want them to know they are not alone and other people are going through things they are experiencing.”
Canadian Olympic Trials
One of the more interesting stories to come out of the recently-concluded Canadian Olympic trials was Sinead Russell, daughter of former Fort Lauderdale Swim Team and Cardinal Gibbons coach Cecil Russell, who was banned from coaching for life in 1997 for his involvement in an international steroid trafficking ring. That same year Russell admitted during the murder trial of a steroid trafficking associate that he helped burn and dispose of a body in a corn silo beside his home. Russell spent four years in prison in Spain and the U.S. after being arrested for planning to ship ecstasy into the U.S. through Canada. Sinead, who now swims for the Blue Waves, formerly swam for the Dolphins Swim Club in Canada but the club was fined and suspended last fall by Swim Ontario after being linked with Cecil. The father was not allowed inside the pool area during the Canadian Trials. Sinead qualified for the 2012 Olympics in the 100-meter backstroke and 200-meter backstroke in which she broke the national record in 2:08.04. Sinead’s older brother, Cecil, also qualified on the 4×100-meter relay. Sinead Russell, who signed with University of Florida, is coached by her mother, Erin.
Other Canadians of note to make the Olympic team were former Texas A&M standout Julia Wilkinson went under 1 minute for the first time in her career in the 100 backstroke (59.85) and qualified in four events, Charles Francis in the men’s 100-meter backstroke (54.84), Samantha Cheverton in the 200-meter freestyle, Scott Dickens in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:00.43), Brent Hayden in the 50 freestyle (22.16), Victoria Poon in the 50-meter freestyle (25.03), Ryan Cochrane in the 400- and 1500-meter freestyle and 30-year-old diver Emilie Heymans.
The 31 swimmers who qualified for London autographed a life-sized banner of a red London double-decker bus that was behind the blocks. They were also introduced in downtown Montreal on an actual red double-decker bus on Monday. “One of the young kids from my group, Alec Page, just looked at me with these huge eyes and asked “is this what it’s like?” I said ‘yup, welcome to the Olympic team,” Wilkinson said. “From here to the Olympics is the best four months for an athlete because you feel like a rock star.” The team has a training camp scheduled for later this month in Phoenix.
University of Texas women’s swimming coach Kim Brackin was released from her contract and will not return to coach the Longhorns after six seasons. She will continue to coach Kirsty Coventry for her fourth Olympic Games in London. During her tenure Texas finished in the Top 10 four times and she was named Coach of the Year twice in the Big 12. No reason was cited for her departure in a statement from the university…
University of Alabama swimming and diving coach Eric Mcllquham has stepped down as head coach, a position he has held since 2003. He said it was time to “pursue new challenges.” During his nine seasons Alabama finished in the Top 25 eight times. His swimmers and divers won three individual NCAA titles and earned 99 All-American honors. A national search is under way for his replacement.
Ian Thorpe Not Done Yet
Five-time Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe of Australia has not given up his hope of swimming competitively. Thorpe missed out on a spot in the 2012 Games after failing to qualify in the 100- and 200-meter freestyle, but the 29-year-old said he plans to continue swimming and is increasing his training.
“I’m still disappointed but once the competition was over, I found the resolve to continue doing what I’m doing and I am as motivated as I was before,” Thorpe said.
Thorpe has his sights set on next year’s world championships in Barcelona. Before retiring in 2006, Thorpe won nine Olympic medals and 11 world titles and set 13 long course world records. He came out of retirement last year because he missed it.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org