2020 Summer Olympic Games Postponed, Moved To 2021

By Sharon Robb

TOKYO, Japan, March 24, 2020–South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson will have to wait a little longer to make a historic fifth Olympic appearance.

After weeks of speculation, it’s official: the 2020 Summer Olympics, originally scheduled to begin on July 24 in Tokyo, Japan and end Aug. 9, have been postponed to a later date because of the global coronavirus pandemic and will not take place until 2021.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, made what athletes, coaches and parents knew was inevitable official on Tuesday.

This is the first time the Olympic Games have been postponed although the major international event has been canceled three times because of war.

At 31, the four-time Jamaican Olympian was looking forward to competing in her fifth and probably final Olympics. SOFLO aquatics director and head coach Chris Anderson has coached Atkinson at all four Olympics.

“I do believe it was the best choice,” said the short course breaststroke world record holder. “A great majority of athletes across the board were on the same page. There is such a sense of relief.

“I don’t really have mixed emotions,” Atkinson said. “I think you have to consider everything. If every country competed there was a high probability of getting it. If one person has it, everyone in the Athletes’ Village is confined so that would increase the odds of getting it even more. And if the virus had died down in an athlete’s country and that athlete returned home with it, a whole second wave of the virus would start.”

Canadian Olympic swimming hopeful Bill Pisani already knew his country wasn’t going to the Summer Olympics, but it really hit home on Monday when he learned the Games were being postponed.

Pisani, 21, of West Palm Beach received an email from his swim federation on Sunday night that Canada was boycotting the Olympics because of COVID-19.

“For sure I have mixed emotions,” said Pisani, who grew up swimming in the Florida Gold Coast with the Lake Lytal Lightning and graduated from Florida State last year.

“The most emotion came when I was reading the email that it was postponed. I thought ‘oh wow this is the reality now.’ The more I think about it, it was absolutely the right decision.”

Pisani was pleased to see Canada join forces with Australia boycotting the Games and pressuring the International Olympic Committee to postpone the event until 2021.

“As the son of a Canadian who’s working in a hospital right now at the forefront of this invisible war and as an Olympic hopeful who has dedicated so much of his life to chase the Olympic dream, I am more proud than ever to be Canadian,” said Pisani, referring to his country’s boycott.

Pisani’s mom Lisa is a physical therapist. Recently, her hospital, Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, had its first confirmed case of COVID-19.

“I think there was more of a sigh of relief for all athletes around the world,” Pisani said. “There were just too many questions left unanswered. Hosting the Olympics would have put so many people in danger. It makes us as athletes feel more secure and safe.”

The Canadian Olympic Trials were scheduled for March 30-April 5 in Toronto. Pisani was a favorite to at least make a relay.

“Over the past two years, the Olympic dream had become so close to reality for me,” Pisani said. “It was getting exciting as time went on and this year the closer we got to our Olympic trials it was the most excited I have been about swimming. Everything has definitely changed.”

Sid Cassidy of Boca Raton, St. Andrew’s School aquatics director and longtime swim coach, is vice chairman of the FINA technical open water swimming committee. He has been working Olympic events since 2008.

“I think at this point the athletes had it right,” said Cassidy, who was set to serve as referee for the men’s and women’s 10K races.

“It is hard when you see athletics taking a back seat,” Cassidy said. “Of course, I am disappointed they are not going to do it this year, but it certainly seems to be the best decision.

“There is no easy way to redirect your life. A lot of the talk is to be stronger and learn from it but it doesn’t take away any of the pain. This is very different from the 1980 Olympic boycott, this involves the whole world. I am happy for the athletes knowing but not happy with the reality.”

The U.S. swimming trials were scheduled for June 21-28 in Omaha. The pandemic had already disrupted the training of every elite athlete and Olympic hopeful in the U.S.

The postponement and rescheduling to no later than the summer of 2021 will already add to a crowded 2021 schedule that features the 2021 FINA World Aquatic Championships in Fukuoka, July 16-Aug. 1. Track and field will also have a conflict with its Aug. 6-15, 2021 World Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore.

Florida State swim coach Neal Studd echoed Cassidy’s sentiments after watching his swim program’s NCAA season end early because of COVID-19. The men’s team was expected to finish in the Top 10 for the first time.

FSU had eight swimmers at World Championships and six at University Games. Studd was the 2012 St. Lucia Olympic coach and has coached several student-athletes on the international level.

“If anything this gives it some clarity,” Studd said. “Now we get to re-set and plan accordingly.

“There are bigger problems than sports right now. There is a big picture here and bigger place in the world. Obviously though I would rather be at NCAAs and Canadian trials.”

Mariusz Podkoscielny, two-time Olympian for Poland in 1988 and 1992, now head swim coach at Pine Crest School, said problems were already beginning to surface because of the lack of out-of-competition drug tests during the pandemic.

“There is the aspect that the Olympic competition would not be fair, that the way of preparation is not on a level playing field,” Podkoscielny said. “There are issues of people taking advantage of illegal supplements without conducting the out-of-competition drug testing. It would give athletes a green light to do it.”

Podkoscielny said the COVID-19 is bigger than any sports event including the Olympics.

“The majority of athletes are going to feel relieved,” Podkoscielny said. “These are not the circumstances to get ready for the Olympics or think about the Olympics. People’s lives are changing daily.

“If I were an athlete right now I would be heartbroken not going. There will be disappoitment but it is right thing to do. Everyone agrees with that.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO’s Gaby Banks Wraps Up UANA Swimming Cup Appearance

By Sharon Robb

LIMA, Peru, February 24, 2020–South Florida Aquatic Club’s Gaby Banks of Jamaica wrapped up her final day action at the Union Americana De Natacion (UANA) Swimming Cup Sunday at Videna Aquatic Complex in Lima, Peru.

Banks, 16, was eighth in the 15-17 100-yard freestyle in 1:00.54, off her entry time of 59.50. She was seeded tenth in the event.

Banks was also 13th in the 50-meter butterfly in 30.47.

Jamaica’s five-member women’s team finished tenth overall with 39 points. Mexico won the combined and women’s team titles and Argentina won the men’s team title.

On her first day of competition on Saturday, Banks’ highest finish was sixth in the 50-meter freestyle in 27.36, off her entry time of 26.65.

Banks was also 15th in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:10.01 and 17th in the 50-meter breaststroke in 37.87.

Banks had an impressive outing last year in the FINA World Junior Championships where she posted her 50-meter freestyle best time becoming the fifth-fastest Jamaican female of all time on the short-course circuit.

Banks is a year-to-year national age group representative and multi-medalist at Carifta and CCCAN.

UANA Swimming Cup is a biennial premier swimming event hosted by the Swimming Union of the Americas. UANA’s existence dates back to the 1948 Olympic Games in London.

UANA Swimming Cup is held in three age groups, 11-12, 13-14 and 15-17, the same age categories as the Carifta and CCCAN Swimming Championships.

1. Mexico 718.5, 2. Brazil 618, 3. Argentina 599.5, 4. Peru 269.5, 5. Colombia 215.00.

MEN: 1. Argentina 300, 2. Mexico 293, 3. Brazil 239.5, 4. Bahamas 158.5, 5. St. Lucia 148.

WOMEN: 1. Mexico 383.5, 2. Brazil 334.5, 3. Argentina 265.5, 4. Peru 153.5, 5. Colombia 122.5, 10. Jamaica 39.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Takes Silver On Day One Of FINA Champions Swim Series, Pockets $8,000

By Sharon Robb

BEIJING, China, January 18, 2020—Alia Atkinson, leading for most of the race, was out-touched by American Molly Hannis on Day One of the FINA Champions Swim Series 2020 on Saturday.

South Florida Aquatic Club’s four-time Jamaican Olympian was leading the 50-meter breaststroke when Hannis made up ground in the final 10 meters to win in 30.34. Hannis won $10,000.

Atkinson was second in 30.44, winning $8,000. Atkinson has now won $20,000 in two meets. She won $12,000 for two third places in Shenzhen.

Italian Maria Carraro was third in 30.79 pocketing $6,000. Carraro was also third in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:28.80.

China won five gold medals including three-time Olympic champion Sun Yang in the 200-meter freestyle in 1:45.55.

Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu won the 200-meter backstroke in 2:09.95. She was fourth in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:00.20. Hosszu, 30, was recently named Hungary Sportswoman of the Year for a record seventh time. Hosszu accepted her award via a recorded message since she is in China this week competing at the FINA Champions Series.

Hosszu is the leading money winner so far on the FINA Champions Swim Series with $43,000 after the two-day opener in Shenzhen.

The two-day meet continues on Sunday. Atkinson will compete in the 100-meter breaststroke, seeded in 1:07.76. Only four swimmers are in each event.


Track superstars Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Tajay Gayle were named RJRGleaner Sports Foundation Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year at a gala ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus in New Kingston Friday night. Atkinson was among six other nominees. Shericka Jackson was women’s runnerup.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Gets Second Bronze On Day Two Of 2020 FINA Champions Swim Series

By Sharon Robb

SHENZHEN, China, January 15, 2020–Alia Atkinson took home a second bronze medal Wednesday in the season-opening 2020 FINA Champions Swim Series at Shenzhen Universiade Center Swimming Natatorium.

The four-time Jamaican Olympian and short course world record holder finished third in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:08.15. She was seeded in 1:07.06 among a field of four swimmers.

Italy’s national record holder Martina Carraro won her second breaststroke gold in 1:06.85 and China’s Yu Jingyao was second in 1:07.59 on the second and final day of the series’ first stop.

On Tuesday, Atkinson was third in the 50-meter breaststroke in 30.63 behind Italy’s Martina Carraro in 30.38 and American Molly Hannis in 30.49.

Atkinson won $12,000 for two third places.

It was the first leg of the series with the second stop coming up on Jan. 18-19 in Beijing. The meet featured only 70 swimmers (41 men and 29 women). Almost $2 million in prize money is up for grabs at the two stops.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

Nordman, Urlando, Foster Win Gold For U.S.; Locals Vale, Bucaro Get In More Racing On Day Two Of The 7th FINA World Junior Championships

By Sharon Robb

BUDAPEST, Hungary, August 21, 2019—It was a good day for Team USA on Day Two of the 7th FINA World Junior Championships Wednesday at the state-of-the-art Duna Arena.

Lillie Nordmann, Luca Urlando and Carson Foster won gold medals for the U.S.

Nordmann took the lead at the 150-meter mark and went on to win the 200-meter butterfly in 2:08.24 finishing ahead of Hungary’s Blanka Berecz in 2:08.93.

Urlando dominated the men’s field to win the 200-meter freestyle in 1:46.97, just missing his best time by a half a second. Sweden’s Robin Hanson was second in 1:47.03.

Foster led from start-to-finish to win the 200-meter individual medley in a championship record 1:58.46, breaking the previous record by .57. Canadian Finlay Knox was second in 1:59.44.

Other individual champions were:

Italy’s Tomas Ceccon won the 100-meter backstroke in a championship record 53.46 ahead of Russian Nikolay Zuev in 53.50.

Italian teammate and event favorite Benedetta Pilato won the 50-meter breaststroke in 30.60. She led from start-to-finish.

Swimming in Lane 7, Russian Vladislav Gerasimenko won the 100-meter breaststroke in 59.97, the only swimmer in the final to break 1 minute.

Canadian Jade Hannah won the 100-meter backstroke in 59.63. She was the only sub-minute backstroke in prelims, semis and finals.

Aussie Lani Pallister pulled away from the field early to win the 800-meter freestyle in a championship record 8:22.49.

The U.S. mixed 4×100-meter medley relay team had no trouble winning the gold in a junior world and championship reord 3:44.84. Relay members were Will Grant, Josh Matheny, Torri Huske and Gretchen Walsh. Russia was a distant second in 3:48.06.

Florida Gold Coast past and present swimmers:

Jamaica’s Nicholas Vale of Pine Crest Swimming was 49th in the 100-meter butterfly in 57.71. He was also 66th in the 200-meter freestyle in 2:02.91.

Guatemala’s Luis Bucaro (Cypress Bay/TS Aquatics) was 49th in the 200-meter freestyle in 1:57.09.

Around 800 young promising swimmers ages between 15-17 (women) 14-18 (men) are competing in the six-day competition, which has produced many of today’s swimming stars.

A total of 125 National Federations are represented in the state-of-the-art Duna Arena, the venue that staged the 17th FINA World Championships in July 2017 and has been the background to many FINA high-profile competitions since then such as the FINA Champions Swim Series and Swimming World Cup.

Daily heat sessions are at 9:30 a.m while semifinals and finals are at 5:30 p.m. All sessions are being live streamed on FINAtv and daily news reports will be available on FINA website. Results are available immediately after each event on FINA website and on FINA mobile app.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

Patrick Groters Makes History For Aruba, Several Local Swimmers Shine On Day Two Of XVIII Pan American Games

By Sharon Robb

LIMA, Peru, August 7, 2019—Former NSU University School and Pine Crest Swimming’s Patrick Groters made history Wednesday at the XVIII Pan American Games at Villa Deportiva Nacional.

Groters became the first swimmer from his country to make an “A” final in a Pan American Games competition.

Groters was eighth in the 200-meter backstroke in 2:03.65. He qualified eighth in morning prelims in 2:02.32, fourth in his heat. It was a national record and lifetime-best time.

In the finals, Groters went out fast and had the early lead at 50 meters with a 27.68 split. Groters faded on the back half.

Aruba teammate Mikel Schreuders, also shared the historical moment with Groters. He was third in the 200-meter freestyle heat in 1:49.48, just missing the national record and was seventh in the final in 1:49.92.

There were several familiar faces competing on Wednesday.

Azura Florida Aquatics’ Celina Marquez of El Salvador won the “B” final of the 200-meter backstroke with more than a three-second drop in 2.14.76 and setting a new national record.

American Heritage alum Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago won his heat in the 200-meter freestyle morning prelims in 1:49.08. He came back at night to finish fourth in a national record 1:47.78.

Isabella Paez of Venezuela was third in her 100-meter butterfly heat in 1:01.44 and was fourth in the “B” final in 1:01.85.

St. Andrew’s alum Lauren Hew of the Cayman Islands was seventh in her heat of the 200-meter freestyle in 2:14.50.

TS Aquatics alum and Penn State swimmer Carlos Vasquez, representing Honduras, was a “B” finalist in the 200-meter butterfly and swam a best time 2:02.74. He also swam a best time in the 100-meter butterfly in 56.01.

Individual winners on Wednesday night:

Americans Claire Rasmus and Meaghan Raab finished one-two in the 200-meter freestyle in 1:58.64 and 1:58.70.

Brazilians Fernando Muhlenberg Scheffer and Breno Martins Correia were one-two in the 200-meter freestyle in 1:46.68 and 1:47.78.

American Kendyl Stewart won the 100-meter butterfly in 58.49.

American Tom Shields bounced back to win the 100-meter butterfly in 51.59 just ahead of Guatemala’s Luiz Martinez in 51.63.

American Alex Walsh won the women’s 200-meter backstroke in 2:08.30.

American Daniel Carr won the men’s 200-meter backstroke in 1:58.13.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

U.S., Brazil, Argentina Win Gold, Pine Crest’s Santander Swims First Relay On Day One Of XVIII Pan American Games

By Sharon Robb

LIMA, Peru, August 7, 2019—The U.S., Brazil and Argentina shared the gold medal podium on opening day of swimming Tuesday at the XVIII Pan American Games at Villa Deportiva Nacional.

Pine Crest’s Andrea Santander swam her first event for Venezuela. The relay of Jeserik Andrein Pinto Sequera, Carla Gonzalez, Santander and Fabiana Antonel Pesce Flores finished fourth in 3:53.89 behind the U.S., Brazil and Canada.

Argentina’s Delfina Pignatiello, with her fingernails painted with her country’s light blue and white nails, won the 400-meter freestyle in 4:10.86. She led for most of the race.

American Andrew Abruzzo won the men’s 400-meter freestyle in 3:48.41 after taking the lead at the 300-meter mark. Colombia’s Santiago Corredo was eighth in 3:56.00.

American Annie Lazor, swimming from Lane 7, won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:06.94.

Brazil’s Joao Gomes knocked off American Cody Miller to out-touch him and win the 100-meter breaststroke 59.51-59.57. American Kevin Cordes was third in 1:00.27. Colombia’s Jorge Murillo, a former SOFLO swimmer, was fifth in 1:00.91.

Argentina’s Virginia Bardach Martin won the women’s 200-meter butterfly in 2:10.87. American Meghan Small was third in 2:12.51.

Brazil’s Leonardo de Deus won the men’s 200-meter butterfly in 1:55.85 to win his third consecutive gold medal in the event at Pan Ams. American Sam Pomajevich was second in 1:57.35. Early leader Tom Shields faded to eighth in 2:06.65.

The U.S. team overtook Brazil at the 200-meter mark to win the women’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay to take the gold in 3:39.59 with Margo Geer, Lia Neal, Claire Rasmus and Meaghan Raab. Brazil was second in 3:40.39.

Brazil came back and knocked off the U.S. to win the men’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay. Nathan Adrian anchored the relay with the second fastest split of 47.70.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Wins Gold At FINA Swimming World Cup In Tokyo

By Sharon Robb

TOKYO, Japan, August 4, 2019—After a slow start in the series opener, Alia Atkinson of South Florida Aquatic Club bounced back to win a gold medal Sunday at the FINA Swimming World Cup.

The four-time Jamaican Olympian and short course world record holder won the 50-meter breaststroke in 30.35. She won $1,500 for her first place.

Satomi Suzuki of Japan was second in 31.09 and Alina Zmushka of Belarus was third in 31.12.

Atkinson still holds the championship record in 30.26, set in November 2015. Atkinson was coming off the FINA World Championships where she finished out of the medal hunt. Her best place was fourth.

Atkinson was also ninth in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:08.87 and 19th in the 50-meter butterfly in 27.57 in the FINA World Cup opener.

“I feel pretty good. I wanted to see if I was faster or slower than at the World Championships, and I am about the same time. So, it was okay. I think my best time is 1:05.9, so I would love to be get back to this result. For that reason, it’s a small stepping stone in that direction,” Atkinson said.

Tokyo is the first stop of the first cluster and site of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, giving Atkinson a sneak preview of the city and Olympic fever. The remaining two stops are Jinan, China Aug. 8-10 and Singapore Aug. 15-17.

Swimmers are competing for prize money. Atkinson is the only swimmer from Jamaica competing.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

Dressel, Manuel, Hosszu Make History; SOFLO’s Atkinson Misses Medal On Final Day Of 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships

By Sharon Robb

GWANGJU, South Korea, July 28, 2019—Caeleb Dressel, Simone Manuel and Katinka Hosszu set medal records on the eighth and final day of the 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships Sunday at Nambu International Aquatics Centre.

Dressel, a University of Florida, Clay High School and Bolles Club alum, Dressel became the first man to win eight medals at a championship. Dressel won gold in all four of his individual events, six golds and two silver medals overall, and one world record.

Sjostrum won five medals, one gold, two silvers and two bronze medals, tying Missy Franklin for the most medals in world championship history.

For the second consecutive world championships, Dressel and Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrum were named Swimmers of the Meet. Dressel had 22 points and Sjostrum had 15 points.

Manuel is the first American woman to sweep the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events and became the first woman to win seven medals in a single world championship. She won the 50 on Sunday in 24.05. Sjostrum was second in 24.07.

Hosszu became the first woman and only the second after Michael Phelps to win five world titles in the same event when she won gold in the 400-meter individual medley in 4:32.07. She was 20 when she won her first 400IM in 2009 in Rome.

South Florida Aquatic Club’s four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson, the 2015 silver medalist, left worlds without a medal. Her best finish was fourth in the 50-meter breaststroke in 30.34 on the final day.

SOFLO teammate and Vietnamese Olympian Vien Nguyen was 19th in 4:47.96 in her third and final event at worlds.

Canada, with former Lake Lytal Lightning and Florida State swimmer Will Pisani, enjoyed its best worlds. After winning a bronze medal and setting a national record in the women’s 4×100-meter medley relay, Canada finished with a record two gold and six bronze medals, all in Olympic events. Swimmers reached 19 finals, two more than in Budapest in 2017 and most finals since 1978.

South African Zane Wadell was an upset winner in the men’s 50-meter backstroke by 0.06 seconds in 24.43 ahead of Russian favorites Evgeny Rylov in 24.49 and Kliment Kolesnikov in 24.51. It was his first world title.

American Lilly King crushed the women’s 50-meter breaststroke field by 0.16 seconds to defend her title in 29.84, the only swimmer to crack 30 seconds. Italy’s 14-year-old sensation Benedetta Pilato was second in 30.00 and Russian Yuliya Efimova was third in 30.15.

“I didn’t know if it was happy tears or sad tears,” King said. “She’s 14, it doesn’t really matter what kind of tears they were, but I was like, ‘It’s OK, you did fine.”’

Germany’s Florian Wellbrock won the men’s 1500-meter freestyle in 14:36.54. Mykhailo Romanchuk of the Ukraine was second in 14:37.63 and Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri was third in 14:38.75.

Japan’s Daiya Seto reclaimed the 400-meter individual medley title in 4:08.95. American Jay Litherland was second in 4:09.22 and Lewis Clareburt of New Zealand was third in 4:12.07.

Kelsi Worrell led the U.S. to a world record and gold medal in the 4×100-meter medley relay along with 17-year-old Regan Smith, Lilly King and Simone Manuel. The foursome won in 3:50.40, bettering the previous record by more than a second.

Great Britain won the 400-meter medley relay in 3:28.10 knocking off the U.S. men’s team with Dressel at anchor in 3:28.45. Russia was third in 3:28.81.

It was the U.S. team’s 14th gold medal for the week. They also had eight silver and five bronze, less than their 2017 showing. There were ten world records broken, 17 championship records, five junior world records, three African, 12 American, six Asian, five European and seven Oceanian records.

Smith’s opening split of 57.57 set a world record and made her the first woman to go under 58 seconds in the 100 backstroke.

The world championships has brought together a record 2,620 athletes from 194 countries and territories around the world with 76 sets of medals up for grabs in pool swimming, open water swimming, water polo, diving and synchronized swimming.

Live Results: http://omegatiming.com

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

Dressel Wins Three Titles In One Night, SOFLO’s Atkinson Makes Final On Day Seven Of 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships

By Sharon Robb

GWANGJU, South Korea, July 27, 2019—Caeleb Dressel pulled off a hat trick on Day Seven of the 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships Saturday at Nambu International Aquatics Centre.

The 22-year-old swimming sensation defended his 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly titles and was a member of the winning mixed 4×100-meter freestyle that broke a world record in 3:19.40.

Dressel, a University of Florida, Clay High School and Bolles Swim Club alum, is the first swimmer to win at least six gold medals at two world championships.

“It wasn’t easy tonight,” Dressel said. “I don’t want it to be easy, I really don’t.”

Dressel won the 50-meter freestyle breaking his own American record in 21.04 and 100-meter butterfly in 49.66 after breaking the world record in the semifinals in 49.50.

“It doesn’t just come together by accident,” Dressel said. “It’s just about getting in every day and learning event to event, practice to practice.

“But I’m glad it’s over. I certainly don’t want to swim any more than this tonight. Dressel could pocket a seventh gold and eighth medal of the week in Sunday’s 4x100m mixed medley. He also took silver in the 4×100-meter mixed medley.

“Tomorrow I will be ready to swim one more, and one more fast.”

Olympian and world record holder Katie Ledecky, 22, salvaged her world championships with a gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle for her fourth consecutive title in the event. It was Ledecky’s 15th world title.

“I got to the pool this morning to warm up and felt a little nauseous again which wasn’t great,” Ledecky said. “I had a brief moment of doubt there, but pulled it together and made it happen today.

“Last night after watching all the fast swimming I said (to my coach) I so, so badly want to go have a good swim tomorrow. Just watching those records tumble… really fired me up.”

After scratching from two events because of illness, Ledecky came from .18 seconds behind to overtake leader Simona Quadarella of Italy and win in 8:13.58.

“I took it out like I usually do, and just kind of relied on my training to bring me home,” Ledecky said. “Simona was having a great race and pulled up right next to me, and when she did that, I kind of felt like I could stick with her and rely on my speed. I just tried to stay calm and relaxed from the 500 to the 750, and decided in the last 100 when I was going to make a move. I just put my legs into it and got my hand on the wall.”

A night after setting a world record in the semi-finals of the women’s 200 backstroke, 17-year-old American Regan Smith returned to win the final.

The only world title to escape the Americans on Saturday was the women’s 50-meter butterfly, won by Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, her first of the meet.

“I’m very happy that I could win another medal especially after such a tough program I’ve been having,” said the Olympic 100 butterfly champion, who had needed an oxygen mask after winning bronze in the 200 freestyle.

Four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson of South Florida Aquatic Club made her first final in the 50-meter breaststroke. She is the fifth fastest qualifier after semifinals in 30.61. She was the silver medalist in the event in 2015. American Lilly King is top qualifier in 29.84.

SOFLO teammate and Vietnam Olympian Vien Nguyen will compete in her third and final event, the 400-meter individual medley on Sunday.

Among other former or current Florida Gold Coast swimmer results: 50-meter freestyle, 47. Cathy Cooper, Panama 26.88, 49. Chade Nersicio, Curacao 27.13, 51. Lauren Hew, Cayman Islands 27.26; 50-meter breaststroke, 4. Alia Atkinson, Jamaica 30.53, 5. Atkinson, 30.61.

The world championships has brought together a record 2,620 athletes from 194 countries and territories around the world with 76 sets of medals up for grabs in pool swimming, open water swimming, water polo, diving and synchronized swimming.

The meet will be streamed and televised by the Olympic Channel and live timing will be available.

TV Schedule: https://olympics.nbcsports.com/2019/07/17/swimming-world-championships-tv-stream-schedule/

Live Results: http://omegatiming.com

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com