Welcome to our collation of feature articles. Here you can find profiles, obituaries, analysis of topical themes, consideration of long-term issues that reverberate in the world of swimming and obituaries.
January 9, 2018 -
The Swim England Winter Championships represented the final chance to book a spot for the event at Gold Coast in April but while the consequent highs and lows commanded attention, there was also a small group of Canadian women led by former Great Britain women’s coach Ben Titley. Taylor Ruck, Kierra Smith, Kayla Sanchez and Rebecca Smith may have numbered just four but between them boasted Olympic, world, world junior and Pan-American medals. Especially notable was Ruck who went 2:06.87 in the 200m backstroke. Coach Ben Titley tells Liz Byrnes: “These girls are a fabulous group to work with. It is refreshing to work with young people, there are challenges because they move away from home at a young age, they billet with families, they have to go through certain experiences we all go through as teenagers and they are doing it away from home…”
January 8, 2018 -
Today marks the 20th anniversary of news that Yuan Yuan, a Chinese schoolgirl, had been seized by police at Sydney Airport on her way with national teammates to the 1998 World Championships in Perth after a large quantity of human growth hormone was found in her kit bag by customs officers. In the coming week, SwimVortex will recall some of the highlights of the Perth 1998 world titles as part of our 20th anniversary coverage. We must start, however, as that year started – with tragic then, on one level, great news – before more tragedy: abuse was at play – and the rogues and cheats abusing teenage athletes had been caught red-handed. What happened next is a story still playing out in the elite pool to this day, one in which victims are made victims anew while its business as usual for the system and leaders who fail to protect clean athletes and the victims of abuse. Our archive: 1998, 2008 and 2009…
January 4, 2018 -
This year marks a series of major anniversaries in swimming history, including the 10-year anniversary of Michael Phelps past Mark Spitz with eight Olympic golds and the 50th anniversary of the Mexico 1968 Olympics, of Debbie Meyer’s triple and the doubles of Mike Wenden’, Mike Burton, Roland Matthes, Charlie Hickcox and Claudia Kolb, and the last laugh on butterfly of Ada Kok. Here we trawl through some milestones we’ll be pitching our tent at throughout the year ahead
January 2, 2018 -
This week marks the 20th anniversary of a call from an anti-doping boss with a keen forensic mind to the agents who would carry out an out-of-competition test the result of which is still making its impact felt two decades on. Professor Malcolm Cameron was a leading member of the FINA medical unit at a time of systematic cheating in Chinese swimming. National teams were gathering this week in Perth, Western Australia, for the 1998 World Championships but Smith de Bruin was to be a no show. All eyes would soon be on the multiple positives of Chinese swimmers, the 13 vials of hGh, airports seizures and more. On the other side of the planet in Ireland, IDTM agents Al and Kay Guy were asked to knock at the door of Michelle Smith, triple Olympic champion. Here is the story of what happened either side of that moment, including an official warning handed to Prof. Cameron from Cornel Marculescu, the director of FINA, after this author broke the story of an adverse finding in The Times newspaper.
December 31, 2017 -
No 1 – #MeToo & How Wilful Blindness Pours Poison In The Pool. Many an annual glimpse over the shoulder at a polarised 2017 in media reviews far and wide across the globe has included #MeToo of late. That hashtag will spill and spill, ripple and roll in the year ahead and beyond. It has extensions, like #MeTooInSwimming. This file is dedicated to those who work on the betterment of swimming; to the victims and survivors of abuse and those, like Nancy Hogshead-Makar who have advocated, and those like Dia C Rianda, Katherine Starr and others who made complaint and fought against a system too often and too long unwilling to listen and even bent on blocking justice; to the generation of women summed up by the experience of Shirley Babashoff; to the teenager girls of the GDR who had syringes full of steroids stuck in their backsides by doctors and coaches, some of that while knowing that meant not only cheating in sport but ensuring lifelong medical complaints would be a part of the lives of the athletes – and ultimately in some cases their offspring down the years. This file is a message to the leadership of FINA that refused to even reply to a unanimous vote for reconciliation of victims and a new start filed to them by the Media Commission in January 2014: we await your response yet. And on that note, best wishes for a Healthy and Happy New Year to all our readers and the worldwide swimming community
December 28, 2017 -
SwimVortex annual awards: Sarah Sjostrom, who claimed three gold and a silver at world titles, and Caeleb Dressel, winner of three solo titles amid seven gold medals at the World Championships in Budapest back in July, are the SwimVortex Swimmers of the Year. The Carlile Cup for Lifetime Achievement goes to Nancy Hogshead-Makar and the #AquaticsMeToo club of women who have, by finding the courage to speak out and then through fearless and focused advocacy for women’s sports, raised awareness of a woefully deep and dark corner of Olympic sport; there is recognition, too, for Adam Peaty for delivering the performance of the year; for the WSA and the PSA and a challenge to the status quo just getting started; in open water, top honours go to Aurelie Mueller (FRA) and Ferry Weertman (NED), the 10km World champions, Mueller’s efforts contributing to recognition of the French team as the No 1 and most improved nation in open water in 2017. The USA and GBR are recognised in the nations awards, too… the list in full
December 15, 2017 -
The grimace on Kliment Kolesnikov’s face told the tale of a boy turned man with his eye not on the three world junior records to his credit in as many days but the World Record proper he had just missed by the 0.07 shave of a bullet bristling through a season that has tested the 17-year-old bond with boyhood. All about bars and which one you reach for. A member of the Energy Standard team, the young Russian clocked 48.99 for the 100m backstroke crown. Searing speed for anyone; boggling when a boy’s the big cheese. He was just arriving in the world when Lenny Krayzelburg was preparing to win double backstroke gold for his adopted USA at Sydney 2000 and teammate Aaron Peirsol was the backstroke boy to watch with silver over 200m at just 17. Read on, including a chat with a teen on the move…
December 12, 2017 -
British Swimming and its home-country affiliate in England are under yet more pressure to review their governance structures and culture after at least three complaints of “bullying” were made against a Swim England boss in the wake of efforts to remove a presentation on governance from the schedule at the organisation’s National Conference. The complaints are now being considered by what Swim England describes as the “independent” process through which such matters must flow
December 9, 2017 -
The World Swimming Coaches Association has called on FINA to scrap rules that confine swimmers to one global governor and forbid competition in any events held by organisations that are not affiliated to FINA, even if FINA rules are or would be observed.
December 8, 2017 -
The European Commission has ruled that International Skating Union (ISU) rules imposing severe penalties on athletes participating in speed skating competitions that are not authorised by the ISU are in breach of EU antitrust law. The ISU must now change rules that mirror closely those of FINA, the swimming federation and other international governance organisations that have long had a monopoly on events and participation in the sports they lead globally. The implications of the ruling for swimming is stark, FINA rules now obsolete on some levels. The rival World Swimming Association has already engaged in legal discussions aimed at fighting any FINA challenge to the right of swimmers to compete outside the FINA realm