Winkler Wins Second Relay Gold, Ties For Silver Sprint Medal; Podkoscielny Wins Second “B” Final; Team USA Sweeps Team Titles

By Sharon Robb
HONOLULU, Hawaii, August 28, 2022—Kaii Winkler of Team USA left a lasting impression at the Junior Pan Pacific Swimming Championships at Mark Takai Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center.

On the fourth and final day on Saturday, Winkler, 16, of Eagle Aquatics, won his second gold relay medal of the meet on the 4×100-meter medley relay. Winkler anchored the winning relay that finished in a Junior Pan Pac record 3:36.65 with teammates Daniel Diehl, Zhier Fan and Thomas Heilman just edging the Aussies who finished in 3:36.96. His 100 freestyle split was 49.18. He held off Aussie anchor Flynn Southam who turned in a 47.87 final split.

On Friday, Winkler swam anchor leg on the U.S. boys’ winning 4×100-meter freestyle relay that won in world junior record of 3:15.79. Winkler’s split was 48.95, second fastest on the relay. It was the only world junior record of the meet. Winkler also won the “B” final in the 100-meter butterfly in a best time 53.94.

Also on Saturday, Winkler tied U.S. teammate Diggory Dillingham in the 50-meter freestyle in 22.50 to win his first individual silver medal in a best time. Aussie Flynn Southam won in 22.36. Winkler swam back-to-back best times, 22.74 in prelims, bettering his previous time of 23.03, dropping 0.53 and dipping below 23 seconds for the first time.

U.S. teammate Julia Podkoscielny, 17, of Pine Crest Swimming, won her second “B” final of the meet in the 200-meter individual medley in 2:15.79, just off her best time of 2:15.08. She went 2:16.54 in prelims and came back to win the “B” final and finish ninth overall. She also won the 400 IM “B” final in 4:47.34.

Josh Zuchowski of FAST, two-time silver medalist, was second in the “B” final and tenth overall in the 200-meter individual medley in 2:02.88 after going 2:03.09 in prelims off his best time of 2:01.92. The Stanford-bound Zuchowski, 18, swept the 100 and 200 backstrokes for silver.

The talented trio represented the U.S. internationally for the first time and were among emerging stars from four Pan Pac charter nations (U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia) and other non-European teams New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa and Singapore.

GIRLS: 1. USA 235, 2. Japan 171, 3. Australia 148, 4. Canada 112, 5. New Zealand 33, 6. Singapore 23, 7. Fiji 8.
BOYS: 1. USA 224, 2. Australia 171, 3. Japan 162.5, 4. Canada 102.5, 5. Singapore 39, 6. New Zealand 17, 7. Fiji 4.

1500-meter freestyle: 1. Michael Mattes, US 16:24.02, 2. Ruka Takezawa, JPN 16:25.19, 3. Tiana Kritzinger, AUS 16:26.63.
200-meter individual medley: 1. Mio Narita, JPN 2:11.22, 2. Ashley McMillan, CAN 2:13.31, 3. Gracie Weyant, US 2:14.36, 9. Julia Podkoscielny, US 2:15.79.

50-meter freestyle: 1. Milla Jansen, AUS 25.19, 2. Anna Moesh, USA 25.32, 3. Erin Gemmell, USA 25.46.

200-meter breaststroke: 1. Kotomi Kato, JPN 2:26.55, 2. Yuri Matsumoto, JPN 2:27.46, 3. Piper Enge, USA 2:27.93, 4. Gracie Weyant, USA 2:32.21.

4×100-meter medley relay: 1. USA 4:02.14 (Maggie Wanezek, Piper Enge, Alex Shackell, Erin Gemmell), 2. Japan 4:04.01, 3. Australia 4:05.84.

800-meter freestyle: 1. Joshua Staples, AUS 7:56.29, 2. Hiroyoshi Miyaki, JPN 7:57.64, 3. Alec Enyeart, US 8:02.92.

200-meter individual medley: 1. Maximus Williamson, USA 1:59.01, 2. Tomoyuki Matsushita, JPN 2:00.64, 3. William Petric, AUS 2:00.82, 10. Josh Zuchowski, USA 2:02.88.

50-meter freestyle: 1. Flynn Southam, AUS 22.36, 2. tie, Diggory Dillingham, USA and Kaii Winkler, USA 22.50.

200-meter breaststroke: 1. Asahi Kawashima, JPN 2:11.81, 2. Yamato Okadome, JPN 2:12.19, 3. Nicholas Mahabir, SGP 2:12.50.

4×100-meter medley relay: 1. USA 3:36.65 (Daniel Diehl, Zhier Fan, Thomas Heilman, Kaii Winkler), 2. Australia 3:36.96, 3. Japan 3:40.35

Sharon Robb can be reached at

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

Aussies Set Relay World Record; Dressel Breaks American Record On Day Five Of 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships

By Sharon Robb

GWANGJU, South Korea, July 25, 2019—Caeleb Dressel held on to defend his 100-meter freestyle and flirted with a 10-year old world record on Day Five of the 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships Thursday at Nambu International Aquatics Centre.

The University of Florida and Bolles Club alum did break the American record by 2/10ths in 46.96, third fastest in history and only man to dip under 47 seconds. He was only 0.05 seconds off the 10-year-old world record of 46.91 set by Brazil’s Cesar Cielo.

“It hurt really bad to be honest,” Dressel said. “You don’t always get that magical feeling every night but you’ve just got to shut the brain off and go.

“It took 100 per cent effort and I had someone right there on my tail for me to race,” Dressel said. “I kind of shut off thinking about the race so that helped a lot and having Kyle (Chalmers) right there.”

It was Dressel’s third gold medal and fourth medal overall.

Dressel’s other golds came in the 50-meter butterfly, a non-Olympic event, and 4×100-meter freestyle relay. He took silver in the mixed 4×100-meter medley relay.

“I know I was just off the world record, but really the goal was just to swim the best race that I could, and if that was the time I got tonight, I was happy,” Dressel said. “I’m going to talk to [Coach Gregg] Troy, and I guarantee you the first thing he’s going to say is what we could have done better.”

After scratching from two events because of illness, five-time Olympic champion Katie Ledecky returned to the pool to help the U.S. win silver in the 4×200-meter freestyle behind Australia’s world record performance of 7:41.50 with Ariarne Titmus, Madison Wilson, Brianna Throssell and Emma McKeon. The previous record was 7:42.08 held by China. It was the first time the Aussies won a world title in the relay event. The U.S. had won three straight world titles.

“I wasn’t thinking about a world record,” McKeon said. “Was it a 2009 record? To break that this year is so exciting. I was hurting a lot but when it comes to a relay you really give it your all. Just touching the wall and seeing the three others celebrate, it made me so excited,” McKeon said.

Ledecky was joined by Katie McLaughlin, Melanie Margalis of St. Petersburg and Simone Manuel and finished in 7:41.87. Canada took the bronze.

Outspoken American Lilly King was disqualified from the 200-meter breaststroke prelims. She won the third heat in 2:24.56 but was disqualified for not touching the wall with both hands at the same time at the first turn of the four-lap race.

The U.S. team filed a formal protest which was denied by FINA’s appeals process and also lost a jury of appeal.

In other finals:

Boglarka Kapas out-touched Americans Hali Flickinger and Katie Drabot to win the women’s 200-meter butterfly in 2:06.78.

American Olivia Smoliga won the women’s 50-meter backstroke, a non-Olympic event, in 27.33. She won from Lane Two.

Japan’s Daiya Seto won the men’s 200-meter individual medley in 1:56.14, 0.42 seconds ahead of Jeremy Desplanches of Switzerland and 2017 champion Chase Kalisz, ending the Americans’ streak of winning at eight consecutive worlds.

It was the first time a non-American won the event at an Olympics or worlds since 2001, snapping a streak of 12 straight titles among Phelps (seven), Ryan Lochte (four) and Kalisz (one). Kalisz, who swept the IMs at 2017 Worlds, has the 400m IM later this week.

In other news, FINA, the sport’s international governing body, threatened to strip medals and ban swimmers who protest on podiums during the medal ceremonies under a new Code of Conduct provision. Brit Duncan Scott and Aussie Mack Horton failed to acknowledge China’s Sun Yang during two medal ceremonies. Sun is coached by Aussie Denis Cotterell.

Day Six prelims include the men’s 100-yard butterfly, women’s 200-meter backstroke, men’s 50-meter free, women’s 50-meter butterfly, women’s 800-meter freestyle and men’s 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay.

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:

Live Results:

Sharon Robb can be reached at