Playing catch up on the blog with this and that

I’ve been a bit busy covering high school sports this week as we head to the playoffs, but I wanted to take a moment to post some links on the Arena Pro Swim in Charlotte last weekend.

Coming off his third-place finish in the 50-meter freestyle, Bremerton’s Nathan Adrian won the 100 free in 48.85 seconds.

“That’s a good starting point,” the 2012 Olympic champion said. “I came here trying to shake a little rust loose, and I think I did a solid job of it. Anytime you dip under 49, you can’t be displeased with it.”

It looks like Nathan’s next meet will be at the Arena Pro Swim Series at Santa Clara June 18-21.

Now on to the national scene.

Associated Press columnist Paul Newberry (one of my favorites) wrote this story on USA Swimming and Michael Phelps. In other words, let Phelps swim at Worlds. They won’t regret it…

Column: Phelps should be at world championships this summer
PAUL NEWBERRY, AP National Writer


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — When the world’s top swimmers head to Russia this summer for the biggest meet outside the Olympics, one important name will be missing from the U.S. team.

Michael Phelps has been relegated to a backup meet in Texas.

“Is it frustrating? Of course,” Phelps said Friday night after swimming at the Arena Pro Series meet.

He brought this on himself, of course. The most decorated athlete in Olympic history received a six-month suspension following his drunken-driving arrest last September, an appropriate punishment given it was Phelps’ second DUI and he could’ve killed someone with his reckless actions.

USA Swimming tacked on an additional punishment, barring him from the FINA world championships in Kazan, the most important competition leading up to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

That’s where the governing body went too far.

It’s not too late to change course, but USA Swimming has given no indication it will grant Phelps a reprieve, even though he owned up to his actions, went through a treatment program and has, from all indications, maintained his sobriety since the arrest.

So, he’ll settle for San Antonio in early August, competing at the U.S. national championships against swimmers who didn’t qualify for worlds.

“He’d love to have one more world championships,” said his coach, Bob Bowman. “I think that’s hurt him a little bit, hurt his motivation a little bit.”

FINA wants Phelps in Kazan so bad it would be willing to bend the rule book to get him there.

Executive director Cornel Marculescu, who essentially runs the organization as a one-man fiefdom, went so far as to say he would create an extra spot for Phelps, so the U.S. wouldn’t have to kick another swimmer off its team to make room for him.

“It’s important for us to have Phelps there in any way because he’s our pope,” Marculescu told The Associated Press on Friday, while traveling to Kazan for meetings with local organizers.

But he said USA Swimming is sticking to its guns, refusing to scale back the sanctions against Phelps.

“We contacted them,” Marculescu said. “There has been correspondence but no feedback. We told them it’s very important to have Michael Phelps. But they have their own rules.”

Chuck Wielgus, the executive director of USA Swimming, has acknowledged holding some preliminary discussions with Phelps’ representatives about allowing him to compete at worlds.

But those discussions apparently fizzled, and both Bowman and officials from USA Swimming say they’ve passed the point of no return.

“I can tell you we’re going to San Antonio, and that’s where he’s going to swim,” Bowman said. “And that’s it.”

It doesn’t have to be. It’s not too late to make this right.

According to FINA rules, there’s a June 15 deadline for each country to submit its entry list — still a full month away. There’s another potential stumbling block — a preliminary deadline of March 2, in which countries submitted the total number of swimmers they would take to Russia — but Marculescu could waive that rule with the stroke of a pen.

“I’m pretty Cornel would let me swim for any country I wanted to,” Phelps said, chuckling loudly. “But I’m going to respect the decision that was made.”

Jessica Hardy, who missed the 2008 Olympics while serving a one-year suspension for a doping violation, said USA Swimming is sending an important message by sticking to its original penalties: No one is bigger than the sport.

Not even Phelps.

“Consistency is important,” she told the AP. “Having gone through a suspension myself, I think it’s important to be fair across the board.”

For those who only pay attention to swimming at the Olympics, Phelps has turned in some of his greatest performances at the world championships.

€” In 2003 at Barcelona, Phelps set world records in two different events about an hour apart.

€” In 2007 at Melbourne, Australia, he matched Mark Spitz’s performance at the 1972 Munich Olympics by winning seven gold medals, a tantalizing preview of the record eight golds he would claim a year later at the Beijing Olympics.

€” In 2009 at Rome, during the height of the rubberized suit era, rival Milorad Cavic taunted Phelps for sticking with a supposedly inferior model, only to be edged at the wall in an epic 100-meter butterfly that set off perhaps the most raucous celebration of Phelps’ career.

While Phelps is best known for the 18 golds and 22 medals overall that he’s won at the Olympics, his world championship haul is even greater: 26 golds, six silvers and one bronze.

“As a fan, I’d love to see him try it again,” Bowman said. “But that’s just not in the cards.”

While we admire Wielgus for taking a tough stand against DUI, and we’re not in any way justifying Phelps’ conduct that September night, the initial six-month suspension was sufficient.

Now, it’s time for common sense to prevail.

The world’s best swimmers will be in Russia this summer.

The greatest of them all should be there, too.

AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf in Rome contributed to this report.

Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at or on Twitter at

Also, if you weren’t aware, Bob Bowman is leaving NBAC to coach in the Pac-12, which is great news for the conference and I hope will somehow have a trickle down effect as universities add swimming programs (ahem, Washington?).

Of course, that also meant that Phelps will continue to train with Bowman and will make the move to Tempe, Arizona. You can read more about that here.

BIDC divers qualify for zones

Bryn Tiernan and Henry Sauerman of the Bainbridge Island Dive Club advanced to the USA Diving Zone D Championships in June in Beaverton, Oregon, after qualifying at the Junior Region 10 Championships last weekend in Beaverton.

Tiernan and Sauerman each advanced to the zone meet in the 1-meter and 3-meter springboards.

Tiernan placed 10th in the 3M with a score of 123.70 and 12th in the 1M (110.80) in the 11-and-under division. Sauerman, competing in the 12-13 division, was seventh in both the 1M (152.5) and 3M (152.85).

In the girls 14-15, Jackie Hellmers, of Poulsbo, placed 19th in the 1M (162.85) and 19th in the 3M (195.65). Zora Opalka, Bainbridge, was 32nd in the IM (166.10) and 24th in the 3M (325.6) in the 16-18 division. Cammie Rouser, Kingston, finished 33rd in the 3M (295.60) and 42nd in the 1M (132.90).

The regional meet featured divers from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, California, Nevada, Texas and Hawaii. BIDC, which includes divers from Kingston, Poulsbo and the island, will travel to a meet in Victoria, B.C., Canada in May and the the zone meet, June 19-24.

Locals shine at Dick LaFave meet

Olympic Aquatic Club placed third overall at the Dick LaFave meet at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way this week.

OAC finished with 353 points as 18 swimmers participated. Bellevue Club Swim Team, with 151 swimmers, won the meet with 634 points. Pacific Dragons Swim Team, with 48, finished with 505.5 points.

Poulsbo Piranhas Swim Team finished sixth (28, 206 points) while Bremerton YMCA Swim team (9, 41 points) was 17th to round out local clubs.

Individually, OAC’s Diddle Devine won the girls 10&U 50-meter butterfly in 36.62 seconds and the 200 individual medley (2:55.04), 100 fly (1:26.96). Devine was also second in the 100 breaststroke. Kira Ashmore of OAC won the 13-14 100 breast (1:21.31), the 200 breast (2:55.96) and 400 IM (5:32.09).

OAC’s Kira Crane won the 15 and over 50 freestyle in 29.37.

On the boys side, Brendan Kerns of the Bremerton Y won the 10&U 100 free in 1:14.11 while Ian Stefanski, Poulsbo Piranhas, won the 400 free in 5:48.20. OAC’s Ross Burchell won the 13-14 year old 100 free in 59.60, the 200 free (2:08.99), 400 free (4:34.34) and the 400 IM (13-14 division) in 5:15.01.

Poulsbo Piranhas’ Tim Gallagher won the 100 back (1:08.62), 200 back (2:25.15) while teammate Ethan Fox won the 100 breast (1:16.82) as the Piranhas swept the top three spots in that event (Stefanski was second and Nathan Ramey third). Ramey won the 200 breast in 2:48.78 (and Fox was second and Stefanski was third).

OAC’s Nathan Rubie won the 100 fly in 1:02.04, setting a meet record. The old record was 1:03.90 by Gabe Florsheim in 2012. Rubie also won the 200 fly in a meet record 2:22.93. The old record was 2:24.39 in 2012 by Jeffrey Li. Rubie also won the 200 IM in 2:29.74.

OAC sending nine to Far Westerns

Olympic Aquatic Club qualified nine swimmers to the Speedo Short Course Far Westerns this week in Morgan Hill, California. The meet is from April 9-12.

OAC’s qualifiers are Kira Ashmore, Amanda Ashmore, Ross Burchell, Kira Crane, Mason Heaman, Eleanor Hebard, Elizabeth Helmer, Andrew Renninger, and Nathan Rubie.

I don’t know of any other local club swimmers who qualified for the meet, but if you do feel free to let me know and I’ll add their names to the list and report results next week. Contact me at


BISC’s Markow sets club record at OAC March Madness meet

Bainbridge Island Swim Club’s Aron Markow, 12, set a club record in the 50-yard breaststroke March 7-8 at the OAC March Madness Meet in East Bremerton.

Markow’s time of 28.65 seconds puts him fifth in the country for his age group, 11-to-12 year old, and into 10th place in the 100 breaststroke in one minute, 3.85 seconds.

Sean Markow, 10, won all 10 of his individual events and was part of the 10U medley and freestyle relays that also won.

Bainbridge won the team event with a score of 995. Poulsbo Piranhas finished second (676), followed by Olympic Aquatic Club (605.5). Bangor Trident Swim Team finished eighth (57).

Here’s a link to find the full results from the meet.

Bainbridge dive club brings back ribbons from Boise

Three members of the Bainbridge Island Dive Club returned from the YMCA Spring Classic in Boise last week with first-place ribbons.

Jackie Hellmers of Poulsbo won the 3-meter springboard in the girls 14-15 year-old division with a score of 228.95 points. She was also second in the 1-meter (194.50). Henry Sauermann of Bainbridge scored a win in the 3-meter with a final tally of 190.40 in the 12-13 year-old category and Carter Wolff, also of Bainbridge, placed first in the 1-meter with a score of 118.20 in the FC Level 4 division.

Also placing among the top competitors were Zora Opalka of Bainbridge, who was second in the 1-meter (334.5) and fourth in the 3-meter (339.15) in the 16-18 year-old division. Cammie Rouse of Kingston was third in the 3-meter (350.45) and fourth in the 1-meter (301.65) in the same division.

BIDC will compete in the U.S. Diving Regional Championships in Beaverton, Oregon, next month.

San Antonio to host USA Swimming training camp prior to Rio

USA Swimming announced Thursday it will hold its domestic training camp in San Antonio, Texas, July 13-21, 2016 at the Northside Swim Center. It’s also the site of the 2015 National Championships. The international training camp will be in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Here’s the full press release from USA Swimming:

SAN ANTONIO – USA Swimming announced today that it will hold the domestic training camp for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team in San Antonio at the state-of-the-art Northside Swim Center from July 13-21, 2016.


Following the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming in Omaha, Nebraska, athletes who qualify to represent Team USA at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will gather in San Antonio and train at the Northside Swim Center, site of the 2015 USA Swimming Phillips 66 National Championships, to begin preparations for the Games.

“The Northside Swim Center is one of the top swimming facilities in the United States and will provide an excellent training environment as our athletes prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games,” USA Swimming National Team Director Frank Busch said. “This is where the camaraderie of our team begins to take shape, and the staff and facility here will play a key role in setting up Team USA for success in Rio.”


During the camp, area swimmers and sports fans will have the opportunity to meet the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team, as one practice will be open to spectators, followed by an autograph session. The timing and details of the open practice and autograph session will be announced next summer prior to the start of the camp.


“Hosting the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team at the Northside Swim Center is a tremendous honor for the Northside Independent School District, the city of San Antonio and all of Texas,” said Dr. Brian T. Woods, Northside Independent School District Superintendent. “These amazing athletes will be an inspiration for student-athletes of all ages in San Antonio, and we look forward to helping them prepare to represent the United States next summer.”


Completed in July 2013, the Northside Swim Center features a 50-meter, Olympic-size outdoor pool and 25-meter diving and warm-up pool. The outdoor swim center features shaded seating for 2,400 spectators, as well as high-tech timing, lighting, sound and video scoreboard systems. Locker room facilities can accommodate as many as 1,200 athletes.


The facility also will host a quartet of high-level meets in 2015: USA Swimming’s Phillips 66 National Championships (Aug. 6-10) and Speedo Junior National Championships (July 30-Aug. 3), as well as the U.S. Masters Swimming Spring National Championships (April 23-26) and World Deaf Swimming Championships (Aug. 17-22).


2016 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Schedule:

  • June 26-July 3, 2016: U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming, Omaha, Nebraska
  • July 13-21, 2016: Domestic Training Camp, San Antonio, Texas
  • Dates TBD: International Training Camp, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Aug. 6-13, 2016: 2016 Olympic Games Pool Competition, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Aug. 15-16, 2016: 2016 Olympic Games Open Water Competition, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Van Dyken Rouen back in broadcast booth

Six-time Olympic champion Amy Van Dyken Rouen made her return to the broadcast booth on Friday when she called the live telecast of No. 14 USC and No. 3 California for the Pac-12 Network.

Van Dyken Rouen, who was paralyzed in an ATV accident last June, has been inspiring many people with her gung-ho attitude and belief she will walk again. Her legion of fans are now known as Amy’s Army. Van Dyken Rouen is also slated to call the Pac-12 Women’s Swimming Championships Feb. 25-28.

Here’s a video by the Pac-12 Network featuring Van Dyken Rouen as well.

And Janie McCauley of the Associated Press did a nice story on Van Dyken Rouen…

Amy Van Dyken

Amy Van Dyken returns to broadcast booth after ATV accident

BERKELEY, Calif. — Amy Van Dyken pushed herself across one of Berkeley’s busy streets in her wheelchair and up a ramp into her special broadcast booth overlooking the pool deck, beaming the whole way.

The six-time Olympic gold medal swimmer returned to work with the Pac-12 Networks on Friday, nearly eight months after an all-terrain vehicle accident left her paralyzed from the waist down.

Van Dyken flew into the Bay Area from Arizona to call the USC-California women’s swim meet, and she figured it was a perfect return given there would be about a dozen potential Olympians — including Missy Franklin — in the pool on a picture-perfect day.

Van Dyken is thrilled people are getting to know her in a far different way than the ultra-competitive person she was as an elite swimmer who became one of the best in the world despite her asthma.

“A lot of people didn’t get to see that, they got to see the staring the competitor down, the slapping, the grunting, the spitting,” she said. “So they thought that I was a grumpy grumperson. I love that the world gets to see the real me now. That’s really cool to me. Being the Olympian and the gold medalist helps me get through therapy every day, because there are days that I don’t want to do it. I want to just go home and cuddle with my dog.

“I’m going for more than a gold medal right now. I’m going to get my life back. So, suck it up buttercup and get it done.”

Her triumphant return Friday was a huge step toward that, “getting back to normalcy.” She has long hoped to impact one person. Now, she knows the numbers who might find inspiration in her story are in the thousands or millions.

“She was a champion in swimming,” Pac-12 Networks President Lydia Murphy-Stephans said. “This redefines champion.”

From the second she came out of surgery last June, Van Dyken planned for this day. It was about two months ago when she began calling her agent again. She was ready.

“Listen, I knew that I wasn’t ever going to walk again, that was pretty much a given. And I knew all the things that come with being a paraplegic, I got that,” she said. “But I knew it wasn’t going to change me as a person, especially if I’m doing my broadcasting. The fact that I can sit here, the paraplegia does not affect my brain or my mouth. This job is perfect.”

Once Van Dyken said her hellos and got settled, she went to work writing lineups and prepping. She repeatedly clicked a pen with her right thumb, inquiring about the lane configurations and other meet details.

While visiting with the producer and director for the broadcast, Van Dyken was as upbeat as ever.

“Really good to be back,” said Van Dyken, wearing a navy Pac-12 Networks polo with black leggings. “I love my setup. Thank you guys so much. Awesome, love it — love it!”

Van Dyken had a flight home to Phoenix scheduled later Friday. She knows that’s an exhausting day for an able-bodied person.

“For a paralyzed person, it’s really tough, but you know what, I’m going to rock it out,” she said. “That’s getting my life back.”

Van Dyken, who turns 42 on Feb. 15, severed her spine last June in a crash when she and husband, Tom Rouen, who was on his motorcycle, were on their way to dinner. When he found her, she wasn’t breathing, and it took four minutes before she did. Leading up to surgery, they were told to prepare for the worst, because a vertebra was right up against her aorta and with one slip she could be gone.

“Her attitude has just never wavered through this whole thing,” Rouen, a former NFL punter, said. “She’s really done it with a smile on her face every single day. … You want to feel normal. This goes a long way toward that.”

Van Dyken reminds herself to cherish how far she has come after surviving such a frightening ordeal.

“Here’s the thing, I look at it and I say, ‘I almost died,'” she said. “I would hate for my last day to be remembered as a sour puss. I look at it now and say, ‘You don’t know what’s around the corner, don’t be a sour puss.’… I never had an ‘Oh, poor me moment,’ I never had a ‘What if?’ I never had a ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda.’ I got into this accident. That’s what happened. Take what you’re dealt, learn from it, and then move on.”

Adrian edged by Fratus in 50 free finals in Austin

Brazil’s Bruno Fratus edged Nathan Adrian of Bremerton in the finals of the 50-meter freestyle Friday at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Austin, Texas.
Fratus won in a time of 21.91 seconds, to set a world junior record. Adrian touched the wall in 22.17 while Kristian Gkolam of the University of Alabama was third in 22.31.
Adrian had already won the 100 freestyle on Thursday and was looking to make it a clean sweep of the sprint freestyles.