AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 142: ISHOF Announces Class Of 2012

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 142: ISHOF Announces Class Of 2012


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.

Coaching Departures

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

SOFLO’s Caroline Kuczynski Just Misses Olympic Spot At Canadian Trials, Takes Bronze Medal

SOFLO’s Caroline Kuczynski Just Misses Olympic Spot At Canadian Trials, Takes Bronze Medal


March 27, 2012

Caroline Kuczynski gave it her best shot Tuesday night.

The South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer just missed making her first Olympic team after finishing third in the 100-meter butterfly in 59.66 seconds at the Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials at the Olympic Pool in Montreal’s Olympic Park Sport Center.

Kuczynski, 21, a junior at Arizona State and member of Pointe-Claire, Quebec Swim Club, was the second fastest qualifier after morning prelims in a best time of 59.65 behind favorite Katerine Savard.

Her previous long course best was 59.95.

In prelims, Kuczynski went out in 27.97 seconds and was fourth at the turn before turning it on. There were 116 swimmers in the 100-meter butterfly field.

In finals, Kuczynski was fifth at the turn in 27.94 and made up ground in the last 50 meters.

Kuczynski tweeted after her race: “No London for me, but can’t be too disappointed with a bronze medal at Olympic Trials. Look out Rio 2016. I’m looking for you. Thanks for the endless support everyone. Could not be here without my family, teammates and friends.”

The Montreal-born Kuczynski was seeded sixth going into the event and finishes as Canada’s third fastest flyer.

Eighteen-year-old Savard, the morning’s top seed, won the 100-meter butterfly in 58.45 to edge MacKenzie Downing in 58.86 and Kuczynski. She led from start-to-finish and went out in 27.22.

“It was an incredible experience,” Savard said. “I was a little disappointed with the time but it’s only going to make me work harder heading toward the Games.”

Savard, a Canadian national record holder and one of her country’s brightest young stars, was one of six swimmers to earn nominations to Canada’s Olympic team. The others were Savannah King, Scott Dickens, Alec Page, Brittany MacLean and Blake Worsley.

Several swimmers who finished second failed to make the FINA qualifying standard time.

The top two finishers in all individual events can be nominated to the Olympic team but must meet the FINA standard.

MacLean, 18, the top seed, lowered one of the longest standing national records in the 400-meter freestyle in 4:06.08. The previous mark was 4:07.32.

“I knew it was going to be a good race, I trained so hard for this day,” MacLean said. “I didn’t know it was going to be that good.”

King also qualified in the 400-meter freestyle under the Olympic qualifying standard in 4:07.02.

Dickens, a 2004 Olympian, won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:00.43 after flirting with the national record and going 1:00.39 in prelims to earn the top seed.

“We broke down everything in my training and took a risk,” said Dickens after failing to make the team in 2008. “It was really scary at the start but it paid off. I couldn’t be happier.”

Page, 18, won the 400-meter individual medley in 4:17.78.

In a close race, Worsley won the 200-meter freestyle in 1:49.06.

“I’ve wanted to go to the Olympics since I was a little kid and I’m excited to see what I can do there this summer,” Worsley said.

Said Swimming Canada CEO Pierre Lafontaine: “You’re looking at a bunch of young, up and coming kids who are setting the tone.”

The six-day meet continues through Sunday.

Sharon Robb can be reached at




SOFLO’s Caroline Kuczynski Ready For Canadian Olympic Trials In Montreal

SOFLO’s Caroline Kuczynski Ready For Canadian Olympic Trials In Montreal


March 26, 2012

“It’s actually hitting me.”

Those were the thoughts of South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer Caroline Kuczynski as she relaxed in her hotel room in Montreal while twittering about her next swim meet.

It’s not just any swim meet. It’s her stepping stone to the 2012 London Olympics this summer.

Kuczynski, coming off her best NCAA Division I Championships, is now ready to take it to another level at the Canadian Olympic Trials at Montreal’s Olympic Pool.

Kuczynski will be among nearly 700 swimmers when the six-day meet begins on Tuesday.

While the competition will be fierce, Kuczynski is well-prepared after turning in her finest collegiate season at Arizona State, where she is a junior.

Competing in her second NCAAs, Kuczynski earned All-American first team honors with Top 8 finishes in the 400-yard medley relay and her individual event. She swam a career-best 52.27 in the 100-yard butterfly prelims and finished eighth in finals

The Canadian-born Kuczynski, who turned 21 on March 11th  will compete in the same pool where the 1976 Montreal Olympics were held.

Kuczynski of Pointe Claire Swim Club is seeded sixth in the 100-meter butterfly (59.95). Katerine Savard is top seed in 57.80.

In addition to Canadian swimmers, ten other countries are sending swimmers in an attempt to use the fast facility to achieve London qualifying standard times.

Other countries competing are the U.S., Mexico, Bahamas, South Africa, Germany, Greece, Norway, Singapore, Colombia, Macedonia, Finland and South Korea. Team selection varies in each country.

One third of all clubs in Canada will be represented which is impressive.

“One third of all our teams will be able to return to their communities, large and small, and say ‘we had swimmers at the Olympic trials.’ That’s amazing awesome,” said Pierre Lafontaine, who since being hired in 2005 has turned around the country’s national program as Swimming Canada’s chief executive and national coach.

The Trials will produce a team of about 30 swimmers for the Olympics that begin July 27th and another 35 for the Paralympics, Aug.30-Sept. 8.

Some of Canada’s Olympic hopeful favorites are Brent Hayden, Annamay Pierse and Ryan Cochrane.

The coaching staff will also be selected to work under Olympic head coach Randy Bennett of Victoria.

Canada has grown from 25,000 to 40,000 registered swimmers and built an outstanding juniors program that finished second at worlds last year.

“There is a great sense that swimming is now a sport for life in Canada,” Lafontaine said. “The Olympics is about creating dreams in a country. To get there, you work with kids, open the doors and let them blossom.”

The championship finals will be telecast live by Rogers Sportsnet at 7 p.m. Prelims are 10 a.m.

Sharon Robb can be reached at