Women To Lead Off the TYR Pro Swim Series in Austin

Hello swimming enthusiasts, and Happy 2018!

 

Next week, an all-star group of female swimmers, including Dana Vollmer, Mallory Comerford, Melanie Margalis, and Breeja Larson, will kick off the 2018 TYR Pro Swim Series. The meet, held at the University of Texas from January 11-14, will be the first of six stops in the recently redesigned series. Tune in to NBC Sports throughout next week to stay up to date on the latest news from Austin!

 

One of the highlights of the meet will be Dana Vollmer’s official return to competitive swimming after giving birth to her second child. Ryker Alexander Grant was born roughly six months ago. Her last competitive race was in April of 2017 at the Arena Pro Swim Mesa. Look out for Vollmer in the 50 fly and 50 free on Saturday, January 13!

 

Mallory Comerford and Melanie Margalis just tied for first in the women’s high point rankings at the AT&T Winter National Championships, so it will be interesting to see how they stack up to each other in Austin!

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Preview: Women at the 2017 AT&T Winter National Championships

Hello again, swimming enthusiasts!

 

While many of us are still recovering from Thursday’s feast, some of the country’s fastest swimmers are preparing to compete in the SCY Winter National Championships in just a few days.

 

The short-course meet will take place in Columbus, Ohio from November 29 to December 2, and will feature big-name female swimmers like Melanie Margalis, Mallory Comerford, Olivia Smoliga, Kelsi Worrell, and Breeja Larson.

To watch the competition, you can live-stream the entire event online, or you can catch NBC’s coverage on December 10 from noon-1 p.m. ET. Here are some key moments for female swimmers that you can look out for:

 

  • Watch Kelsi Worrell swim the 100 back and 100 free in addition to her usual 100 and 200 butterfly
  • The 50 and 100 free will be a battle between top seed Olivia Smoliga and second seed Mallory Comerford
  • Watch Melanie Margalis defend her top spot in the 200 IM
  • Margalis and Breeja Larson will compete for first in the 100 breaststroke
  • Comerford will swim the 100 fly for the first time in almost a year

 

Stay tuned for an exciting couple of days in Columbus!

 

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Girls Glow at the Golden Goggles Awards

Hello swimming enthusiasts, and Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

 

This is the first of two posts that I will be publishing today, as there is so much to catch up on in the swimming world.

 

The Golden Goggle Awards, which is hosted annually to honor and celebrate the U.S. National Swim Team, took place in Los Angeles last weekend.

 

In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights of the night for women in swimming:

 

  • Katie Ledecky won Female Athlete of the Year for the fifth year in a row! Ledecky had a very successful year in 2017. She brought home 5 gold medals and 1 silver medal at the FINA World Championships, making her the female swimmer with the most World Championship gold medals. She also won gold at the NCAA Championships in the 200 free, 500 free, and 1650 free

  • Lilly King snagged the Female Race of the Year award with her 100 breaststroke at the FINA World Championships. She beat her long-time rival Yulia Efimova, from Russia, and set a new world record with a time of 1:04.13. King was the only American to set an individual world record this year.

  • The Relay Performance of the Year of course went to the women’s 4×100 medley relay at the FINA World Championships. If you are interested in learning more about this exciting race, see my previous post from August.

  • Michigan-born Mallory Comerford won the Breakout Performer of the Year award. At the NCAA Division I Women’s Championships, Comerford tied with Katie Ledecky for first place in the 200 freestyle in a big upset. Then, at the FINA World Championships, Comerford took down Simone Manuel’s 100 free record in her opening leg of the 4×100 freestyle relay. Way to go Comerford!

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US Sets New World Record in Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay

Greetings, swimming enthusiasts!

 

This summer has been full of exciting swimming competitions. A few weeks ago, at the 17th FINA World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, the United States women’s team broke the 4×100 medley relay world record to win the gold.

 

The relay team consisted of Kathleen Baker, Lilly King, Kelsi Worrell, and Simone Manuel. They broke the previous record of three minutes 52.05 seconds that was set at the London Olympics by Missy Franklin, Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer, and Allison Schmitt, clocking in at three minutes 51.55 seconds.

 

All four of the swimmers that were a part of the record-breaking relay this summer were medalists in their respective 100’s at the meet, so there was talk before the race that perhaps this world record could be shattered. Although going into the freestyle leg they were about half of a second off pace, 100 meter freestyle world champion Simone Manuel powered the team to a record-breaking finish.

 

Russia came in second with a time of 3:53.38, and Australia grabbed the bronze at 3:54.29.

 

Kathleen Baker, who swam the backstroke leg, headed off the relay well with a personal best of 58.54, making her the fifth fastest American to ever swim that event. Baker swam for SwimMAC Carolina as a child, and now attends the University of California, Berkeley. She won the silver medal in the 100 back at both the 2016 Olympic Games and the 2017 FINA World Championships.

 

Next up was breaststroker Lilly King, who swam a time of 1:04.43. Although King kept close to Russia’s Yuliya Efimova, the United States was in second place at the halfway mark of the race. King attends Indiana University, and won the gold medal for the 100 breast in the 2016 Olympic Games, and the 100 and 50 breast at the 2017 FINA World Championships. She broke the world record to win the gold in the 100 breast at the World Championships.

 

Kelsi Worrell swam the butterfly leg in 56.30 seconds to get the United States in the lead. Worrell specializes in sprint freestyle and butterfly, and attended the University of Louisville. She won a bronze medal in the 100 meter butterfly at the FINA World Championships with a time of 56.37.

 

Simone Manuel finished off the power quartet with a 100 meter freestyle in 52.23 seconds. Manuel attends Stanford University, and is widely known for her sprint freestyle. At the 2016 Olympic Games, she won the gold in the 100 free and the silver in the 50 free, and at the FINA World Championships, she won the gold in the 100 free and the bronze in the 50 free.

 

I congratulate these four women on their outstanding performances at the 2017 FINA World Championships, and I look forward to seeing what this next generation of elite swimmers can do!

 

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Women at the Olympics

Hello swimming enthusiasts!

 

Today we are going to travel back in time to the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm. Why this particular Olympics, you may ask? In fact, this was the first Olympics in which the swimming competition included female events.

 

Although in 1912, women were already able to compete in sports such as archery, golf, tennis, and yachting, the inclusion of swimming marked an important turning point and opened up the door for women in other Olympic sports as well.

 

The decision was made in 1910 in Luxembourg, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted unanimously to open up swimming, gymnastics, and tennis to women.

 

While men had many options for swimming events, women were limited to two events: the 100-meter freestyle, and the 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay. In the 100-meter freestyle, Australasia’s Fanny Durack took the gold. If you are interested in learning more about her, you can read my post from November 2015, which focuses on Fanny Durack’s career. Great Britain took the gold in the relay.

 

Twenty-seven women ended up swimming in Stockholm, representing eight countries: Australasia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Norway, and Sweden.

 

Interestingly, the United States was not one of these countries. Although at this time, women in America were beginning to have more of a presence in swimming, men in higher positions would not allow them to compete in the Olympics. Specifically, American sports official James E. Sullivan had control of both the American Olympic Committee and the Amateur Athletic Union. He firmly believed that women did not belong in formal competitions, and hindered the progress of women in sports.

 

There was no Olympic Games held in 1916 due to World War I. In 1920, however, women were finally able to swim. Although the American Olympic Committee was still not fully behind the idea, the women’s swim team manager Charlotte Epstein advocated for the group and explained that other countries were sending women to compete.

 

That year, fifteen American women swam in Belgium, achieving tremendous success. They took home all of the medals in the 100-meter and 300-meter freestyle events, and were respected and admired by Americans.

 

We have these women to thank for their confidence and courage in bringing the sport of swimming to female athletes.

 

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Missy Franklin Publishes Book “Relentless Spirit: The Unconventional Raising of a Champion”

Hello, swimming enthusiasts!

 

Last month, Missy Franklin, the star backstroker of the 2012 Olympics, published a book about her journey both as a swimmer and as an individual. The honesty and authenticity of her book goes along with the traits for which she has been praised as an athlete.

 

The book, co-written with her parents and published by Dutton, takes a closer look at Franklin’s incredible rise to fame and four gold-medal victories at the 2012 Olympic Games. However, it also provides readers with a wholehearted response to her disappointment this summer with Olympic Trials and the 2016 Olympic Games. At Olympic Trials, she narrowly qualified to compete in Rio, and at the Olympics, Franklin placed seventh in the 200 meter backstroke, for which she held the world record.

 

According to Franklin, she was picturing a different end to her book, as she began writing it before the summer began. In fact, she could have chosen to end her book before the summer of 2016; it was her choice to cover this period of time in her book.

 

Franklin’s genuine and heartfelt response to her struggles in Rio this summer has increased respect for her. Now, she is not only seen as a star swimmer, but also as an inspiring person who has pushed through disappointing experiences and shared her wisdom with others. I admire Franklin’s ability to not retreat into herself regarding these events, but instead open up to the public.

 

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Celebrating the Career of Maya DiRado

Hello swimming enthusiasts!

 

With Simone Manuel’s victory in the 100 meter freestyle, Lilly King’s gold-medal 100 meter breaststroke, Maya DiRado’s 200 meter backstroke win, and, of course, Katie Ledecky’s sweep of the 200, 400, and 800 meter freestyle, the Rio Olympics were a great success for the female swimmers of the USA!

 

Today, I am highlighting a swimmer whose final (and first Olympic!) competition was the recent Games in Rio: the talented and versatile Maya DiRado. After seventeen years of competitive swimming, DiRado made an announcement at the beginning of August that she would retire after the Games; she and her husband have bought a house in Atlanta and DiRado will soon begin working with Global Management Consulting Company, McKinsey and Company.

 

So, how did it all start? Maya DiRado was born on April 5, 1993, in San Francisco. Surprisingly, Maya is not actually her real name. Her full name is Madeline Jane DiRado, but her older sister could not pronounce Madeline and the name “Maya” stuck. DiRado began swimming at the young age of six for the Santa Rosa Neptunes. She recalls falling in love with her first team suit and wanting to wear it to bed.

 

Academically, DiRado was always ahead. She was mature beyond her years and skipped second grade because she was so advanced compared to her classmates. At fifteen, she achieved a perfect score on the Math SAT. However, as a swimmer, DiRado is often considered a late bloomer. While the sport has been filled with young female swimmers like Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin, who were gold medalists as high schoolers, DiRado qualified for the Olympics for the first time this year, at the age of twenty-three. At the 2012 Olympic Trials, she finished in fourth for both the 200 and 400 meter IMs, missing the chance to compete in the Olympics by two places.

 

At this point in her career, DiRado was content with her current accomplishments and did not really see herself as ever being an Olympian. However, this is when her college coach at Stanford, Greg Meehan, stepped in and encouraged her to take her swimming to the next level. And she did. DiRado continued swimming after college, delayed starting a job, and trained intensely for the most difficult event in the sport: the 400 IM.

 

By 2016, after placing high in multiple World and Pan-Pacific Championships, Maya DiRado was in a position to blow away the competition at Olympic Trials and make the Olympic Team. In 2015, she had won a silver medal in the 400 IM, the fastest American time since Elizabeth Beisel’s race in the 2012 Olympics. At Olympic Trials in Omaha, DiRado brought her A game, finishing three seconds ahead of the second-place finisher in the 400 meter IM, leading the entire 200 meter IM race, and out-touching Missy Franklin in the 200 meter backstroke. She was heading into Rio as the top seed in both IM events, and the second seed in the 200 meter backstroke.

 

When the week of Olympic swimming finally came, Maya DiRado finished her career with a bang. She won the gold medal in the 200 meter backstroke by a narrow .06-second margin, the silver medal in the 400 meter IM, and the bronze medal in the 200 meter IM, all lifetime bests. In addition, she helped Team USA swim to a first-place finish in the 4×200 meter freestyle relay, as the third leg. I admire DiRado for her perseverance in the sport and late rise to success. She will surely be missed this year at major swimming competitions!

 

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First-Time Olympian Melanie Margalis Ready to Dive Into Rio

Hello swimming enthusiasts! With summer in full swing and the Rio Olympics just around the corner, there is so much going on in the swimming world. Today, we will take a look at an Olympic rookie, the twenty-four-year old Melanie Margalis from Clearwater, Florida.

 

Born in 1991, Melanie Margalis grew up in Clearwater, where she attended Countryside High School and was a club swimmer for St. Petersburg Aquatics. As a high schooler, Margalis swam the fastest 200-yard IM in the state of Florida.

 

Although she is primarily a breaststroker and IMer, Margalis has a wide range of talent, and is not afraid to swim different events. In 2009, for example, she claimed the state championship in the 500-yard freestyle.

 

Swimming capabilities run in the Margalis family. Her older sister, Stephanie, swam at the University of South Carolina, and her older brother, Robert, was an NCAA champion at Georgia.

 

Since Robert Margalis had been so successful at Georgia, Melanie Margalis decided to follow in his footsteps and become a Bulldog. She studied fashion merchandising while becoming a standout college swimmer. By senior year, Margalis was making swimming headlines. As the team captain, she swam second in the 200 IM, third in the 400 IM, and fourth in the 200 breast at the NCAA Championships.

 

Interestingly, Margalis never envisioned herself as an Olympic swimmer. Although she was always surrounded with Olympic hopefuls like Robert Margalis and Megan Romano in her childhood, and even more Olympic hopefuls at Georgia, she never thought of herself as one. Now she has earned herself a spot on the 2016 Olympic team!

 

Margalis qualified for the 200 freestyle, 200 IM, and 100 breaststroke finals at Olympic Trials last month, but decided to scratch the 100 breast to focus on her other two events, which happened to be on the same night. She swam to a sixth-place finish in the 200 freestyle, earning her a spot on the 800 freestyle relay. Later on that night, Margalis came from behind to edge out Caitlin Leverenz for second place in the 200 IM, with a time of 2:10.11.

 

It will be exciting to see what Melanie Margalis can accomplish in a few weeks!

 

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Donna de Varona: Medley Extraordinaire, Swimming Sportscaster, and Women’s Activist

Hello swimming enthusiasts!

 

Today I am back to offer you a closer look into another inspiring female swimmer, Donna de Varona. De Varona was the youngest athlete at the 1960 Olympic Games, set long-standing world records in the 400-meter individual medley and 100-meter backstroke during her career, and became the television network ABC’s first full-time female sports broadcaster after her swimming career ended.

 

Born in San Diego, California in 1947, Donna de Varona first had an interest in little league baseball. However, she was denied a place on the team because she was female, and she later drew on this experience to fuel her work for gender equality. Through her trips to the pool with her injured brother, who swam for physical therapy, de Varona soon found that swimming was a great outlet for her energy. She had the opportunity to train with some of the best coaches in the sport as a teen, including George Haines, the coach of seven U.S. Olympic teams.

 

At the age of thirteen, de Varona qualified for the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. Although she gained attention due to her young age, her event was ultimately cancelled and she did not compete. But de Varona was not one to quit. Over the next four years, she took home thirty-seven national swimming championships and set eighteen world records. When she returned to the Olympic Games in 1964, the United Press International and Associated Press declared her the most distinguished female athlete in the world.

 

Donna de Varona ended her swimming career after the 1964 Olympics, at the age of seventeen. At the time, most colleges did not have a women’s athletics department, and the University of California, Los Angeles was no exception. However, de Varona never truly left the sport. Instead, she emerged on the other side of it, as a sports broadcaster. She debuted her career with ABC in 1965 as a commentator for the Wide World of Sports with Jim McKay.

 

Donna de Varona was always an advocate for women’s rights, especially in sports. In 1998, when ABC failed to renew her contract, she filed a $50 million lawsuit, claiming that male veteran sportscasters were prioritized. In addition, de Varona fought to pass Title IX in 1972, a law that prohibits gender discrimination in sports. She and the tennis champion Billie Jean King co-founded the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1974.

 

Therefore, Donna de Varona is exemplary in her strides as an athlete, a sportscaster and a women’s activist.

 

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Natalie Coughlin Ready to Swim at Canadian Olympic Trials

Hello swimming enthusiasts!

 

In a few days, Natalie Coughlin, along with a large group of foreign swimmers, will compete at the Canadian Olympic Trials in Toronto. The meet, taking place from April 5-10, has become not only a competition to select Canadians for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but also an international competition for many North American swimmers. In some cases, these foreign swimmers come from countries without real Trials or with flexibility in qualifying for the Games. For NCAA swimmers, the Trials serve as a helpful long course test after the NCAA competition. In addition, many teams have started to travel to the competition as a group, for a great training meet.

 

With the exciting competition around the corner, today I will give you a closer look at Natalie Coughlin. Coughlin was born in 1982 in Vallejo, California, and began swimming competitively at the young age of six. By the time she was a high schooler, Coughlin reached national recognition. She held the national high school records in the 200-yard IM and 100-yard backstroke, and at the age of sixteen, she qualified for every event at summer nationals. Her ability to qualify for every single event surely displays her incredible skill and expertise in all things swimming.

 

Coughlin attended college at the University of California, where she shined as a swimmer under the guidance of her coach, Teri McKeever. In 2002, she became the first woman in history to achieve a time under one minute in the 100-meter backstroke. Over the course of her college career, she won 12 NCAA titles. Today, Coughlin is still Cal’s most decorated swimmer of all time, and holds records in the 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke, 100 butterfly, and 200 butterfly.

 

Coughlin’s international career began at the 1999 Pan Pacific Championships. She has had immense success at the international level, winning medals and setting American and World Records at meets such as the 2001, 2007, and 2013 World Championships.

 

However, Coughlin is perhaps best known for her Olympic success. At the 2004 Trials, she qualified for the Olympic Team in the 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle. She was the woman to watch in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympic Games. After winning twelve Olympic medals, she is tied with Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres as the most decorated American female swimmer.

 

Coughlin has faced several challenges over the course of her swimming career. She has scoliosis, a 27-degree spinal curve, something that she must be very careful about when she approaches the racing season. In addition, she feels that she is often much shorter than her competition–she is 5’8’’, while many of her competitors are over six feet. This is particularly an obstacle for her in shorter races. Coughlin does, however, have many advantages in the water. For example, she is very flexible–she can touch her toes with her elbows. In addition, she has long arms. While she is only 5’8’’, her reach is 6’1’’.

Coughlin is constantly experimenting with her stroke. In the past, she has rotated a lot throughout her whole body, but more recently, she has focused on rotating specifically in her upper body to generate more power in her arms. Coughlin’s talent, perseverance, and versatility in the pool make her a shining example of women in swimming.

Sources

https://swimswam.com/nathan-adrian-to-compete-at-canadian-olympic-trials-psych-sheets/

https://swimswam.com/bio/natalie-coughlin/

http://espn.go.com/olympics/story/_/page/bodynataliecoughlin/olympic-swimmer-natalie-coughlin-shares-secrets-12-medals-espn-magazine-body-issue

http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Natalie+Coughlin/10th+FINA+World+Swimming+Championships+25m/GvnHCVpM8uM

http://www.teamusa.org/news/2012/june/27/natalie-coughlin-still-has-hope

http://wtop.com/sports/2015/02/us-swimmer-natalie-coughlin-to-lead-strong-team-at-pan-ams/

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