Written by Sharon Robb
July 27, 2013
Missy Franklin and Ryan Lochte, already household names in swimming, will take center stage for the United States when the 15th FINA World Aquatic Championships begin on Sunday at the Palau Sant-Jordi in Barcelona, Spain.
After a week of open water swimming, synchro swimming, diving and water polo this past week, all eyes will be on swimming, the marquis sport of worlds.
U.S. swimmers dominated the 2012 London Olympics with 31 medals and are expected to do much of the same this week.
South Florida Aquatic Club will be well-represented on swimming’s international stage with three-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson.
Atkinson, 24, accompanied by her longtime SOFLO coach Chris Anderson, will compete in the 100-meter breaststroke on Monday, 200-meter breaststroke on Thursday and 50-meter breaststroke on Saturday.
“She is looking stronger and more confident each day,” Anderson said. “She is doing far better preparation than leading up to the Olympics.”
Atkinson just missed the medal podium at the 2012 London Olympics.
The world championships mark the start of the post-Michael Phelps era with swimming’s greatest-ever Olympian who won 22 medals in three Olympics retired after London.
Despite major swim stars from other countries including Katinka Hosszu of Hungary, Yannick Agnel of France, Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania, Yi Shiwen of China, Chad le Clos of South Africa and Aussie James Magnussen, the U.S. is expected to continue its domination with Franklin and Lochte leading the way.
Both Franklin and Lochte are swimming more events than they did at the 2012 London Olympics.
Franklin is entered in eight events, five individual events 100 and 200 freestyles, 100 and 200 backstrokes and non-Olympic 50-meter backstroke, and three relays, one more event than London.
“It’s definitely a lot,” said the 18-year-old Franklin. “I’m very, very excited. These are some of my favorite races. I’m really looking forward to those. The expectations are just to have fun.”
No swimmer, male or female, has ever won eight gold medals at the world championships. Michael Phelps had a shot in 2007, winning his first seven events but the 400-meter medley relay was disqualified in prelims.
Lochte was impressive at the 2011 World Championships, winning five medals including four golds. At the 2012 Olympics, Lochte won five medals including two golds.
Lochte, 28, will race in seven events over eight days.
“Now that Michael Phelps is gone, I definitely am going to miss him stepping up on the blocks next to me, but it’s just not him I have to worry about,” Lochte said. “There are other people who are working hard to go even faster.
“I just have to work on myself and go as fast as I can. It’s been an off year so I don’t know what is going to happen. I have to just get on the blocks and race tough. ”
U.S. head men’s coach Bob Bowman and women’s coach Dave Salo like what they see in the pool.
Said Bowman, “Our men’s team is a very interesting mix of some veterans who have established themselves on the world scene and for the first time in several years, we have some young guys on the team. So we have a kind of a mixture of experience and youth which I think will be a lot of fun.”
Added Salo, “I think our veteran squad is kind of running on their talent, not so much their preparations as they did last year but they are pretty exceptional athletes. It’s a dynamic group of women and I think everybody is going to be battling for a podium position.”
Sunday’s events are: women’s 100 butterfly, men’s 400 freestyle, women’s 200 IM, men’s 50 butterfly, women’s 400 freestyle, men’s 100 breaststroke, women’s and men’s 4×100 free relay.
OPEN WATER SWIMMING
Germany’s Thomas Lurz became the only man to strike gold in all four open water distance events at world championships. Lurz, 33, won the 25K open water title in 4 hours, 47 minutes and 27 seconds on Saturday. He won by just under a half a second ahead of Brian Ryckeman. Lurz said his first 25K race will most likely be his last. “It was really tough, I closed my eyes the last 100 meters because I had so much pain,” Lurz said. Italian Maria Grimaldi won the women’s title by just 1/10th of a second ahead of German Angela Maurer in 5:07:19.7. American Eva Fabian won the bronze, her first world medal, giving U.S. its second medal of the open water events. Fabian finished just 0.7 seconds behind the winner. “I didn’t quite have the finishing kick. I’m just glad to get on the podium for the USA.”
He Zi won her second title of the world championships in the women’s 3-meter springboard Saturday to continue China’s dominance in diving. The 22-year-old also won the 1-meter springboard title. The diving concludes on Sunday with the men’s platform. U.S. Olympic gold medalist David Boudia leads after the semifinals. Brit Tom Daley, despite a triceps injury, also made the Top 12 finals cut….A new world championship event, high diving, begins on Monday with the men competing from 27 meters and women 22 meters along Barcelona’s harbor.
Arena will debut its limited Powerskin Carbon-Pro Mark 2 edition for the U.S. national team in Barcelona. It features a red, white and blue pattern and exclusively being worn by the U.S. national team athletes. It will hit the retail stores in October just in time for high school states…Olympic legend Michael Phelps will be at world championships but only as a spectator fulfilling sponsor commitments…
Florida State will be well-represented at worlds by senior two-time Olympian Pavel Sankovich of Belarus, 2012 Olympian Mateo De Angulo of Colombia, senior McKayla Lightbourn of the Bahamas and incoming freshman and 2012 Olympian Jemal Le Grand of Aruba, Davie Nadadores and Sagemont state champion in the 100-meter freestyle. “This is great for our program,” said first-year Seminoles coach Frankie Bradley. “It’s great exposure to have these guys competing on the world scene as this is the biggest meet of the year in that aspect.”
FINA, swimming’s international governing body, approved two different mixed gender relays in the 4×100-meter freestyle and 4×100-meter medley relays at future world championships. Teams will be made up of two men and two women and it will be up to them to decide the order. Also, during its General Congress on Friday, adjustable starting platforms were approved for backstroke races while underwater cameras were rejected for judging.
TV SCHEDULE FOR WORLD CHAMPS
Sunday, July 28, 2:30-4:30 p.m., NBC; 9-11 p.m., re-broadcast Universal Sports
Monday, July 29, 12-2 p.m. live, Universal Sports
Tuesday, July 30, 12-2:30 p.m., live, Universal Sports
Wednesday, July 31, 12-2 p.m., live, Universal Sports
Thursday, Aug. 1, 12-2:30 p.m., live, Universal Sports
Friday, Aug. 2, 12-2:30 p.m., live, Universal Sports
Saturday, Aug. 3, 1-3 p.m., NBC
Saturday, Aug. 3, 9-11 p.m. re-broadcast, Universal Sports
Sunday, Aug. 4, 4-6 p.m., NBC
Sunday, Aug. 4, 9-11 p.m. re-broadcast, Universal Sports
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com