A few months ago, Bremerton’s Olympic gold medalist Nathan
Adrian added to his growing sponsorship list by teaming with
BMW’s Performance Team.
Now you can add CitiGroup to that list. Adrian confirmed through
social media that he is now part of Team Citi 2016, a group of
eight world-class athletes gearing up for the Rio Olympics and
Here’s a another good column by Associated Press national writer
Paul Newberry on Arkady Vyatchanin, who wants to compete for Serbia
at the Rio Games instead of Russia. Vyatchanin won bronze at the
2008 Beijing Games in the 100 and 200-meter backstrokes.
Here’s the story;
ORLANDO, Fla. — Arkady Vyatchanin loves his country.
He just doesn’t want to represent Russia at the Olympics.
That stance has left the swimmer in legal limbo with the Rio
Games less than five months away, the pawn in a political
tug-of-war that again shows just how little the guys in charge
actually care about the athletes.
“I guess I underestimated the burden that I’ll carry,” said
Vyatchanin, who lives and trains in the United States and wants to
swim for Serbia in what very well could be his last shot at the
Vyatchanin has an impressive resume. At the 2008 Beijing Games,
he captured a pair of bronze medals, finishing behind American
winners Aaron Peirsol in the 100-meter backstroke and Ryan Lochte
in the 200 back. He also has four medals from the world
championships — three silvers and a bronze.
After a disappointing performance at the London Olympics, where
Vyatchanin failed to qualify for the final in either backstroke
event, he had a falling-out with the Russian swimming federation
over his decision to begin training in Gainesville, Florida, under
renowned coach and longtime Lochte mentor Gregg Troy.
More troubling, Vyatchanin had serious concerns about just how
committed his country was to the battle against doping, a stance
that turned out to be very well-founded given the almost daily
revelations of ramping cheating throughout Russian sports.
Tennis star Maria Sharapova acknowledged this week that she had
tested positive for a banned substance, while the country’s track
and field athletes remain barred from international competition —
including, possibly, the Olympics — after a ruling Friday found
“significant work” was still required to clean up a major doping
“It is pretty wide open right now with all the doping cases,”
Vyatchanin said, a sadness in his voice. “I was afraid that I could
get caught up with that stuff just for raising my voice.”
He began searching for a new country, sending letters to
virtually every European nation with a swimming team. He also made
inquiries with the United States, but learned the process for
becoming a citizen might not be completed in time for Rio.
Knowing he would be 32 by the time of the Olympics, Vyatchanin
couldn’t afford to let another quadrennial pass him by.
A year ago, he received his Serbian passport, which should’ve
been enough to lock up his trip to South America.
Not so fast, said international governing body FINA, which
invoked an onerous residency rule to hold up Vyatchanin’s bid to
switch countries, according to Vyatchanin.
“The bottom line in my case is that I did not break any rules,”
he said. “All I want to do is swim.”
When FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu was questioned in
an email about Vyatchanin’s status, the organization’s legal team
came back with a vague reply that merely said, “Thank you for your
email and interest in the sports of aquatics. Please note that the
request for changing the sport nationality of Mr. Arkady Vyatchanin
is under consideration in FINA.”
Granted, FINA has some well-founded concerns about athletes
hopping from country to country, sometimes merely looking to find a
team better suited to their Olympic goals.
But Vyatchanin hasn’t competed for Russia in more than three
years, skipping the last two world championships, and the doping
scandal in his country would seem reason enough to allow him — and
any other clean athlete, for that matter — to move on.
“I love my country,” he said. “I don’t like the government,
This has been a poignant ordeal for Vyatchanin, who would
certainly prefer to race for his home country at the Olympics.
While he would be incredibly proud to win a medal for sports-mad
Serbia, which is giving him a chance to fulfill his dreams, there
would surely be mixed emotions about having a banner other than
Russia’s raised in his name.
“It is not right that a person should have to leave his country
because of fear,” he said. “At the same time, I don’t think the
Olympics or any other major sporting event should be about
countries. It’s about who’s the fastest swimmer. It’s about the
There are no regrets about moving to the U.S. to train in 2011.
If anything, Vyatchanin only wishes he had started the process to
find a new country even sooner.
“I didn’t feel like I needed permission,” he said. “I’m a
grown-up man. I felt I could make the decision that is better for
Vyatchanin, who is getting sponsorship help from the New York
Athletic Club, remains hopeful that everything will work out in the
end. As he says on his Twitter profile: “Never give up!”
There is only one thing for FINA to do when it finally rules on
When last I talked to Nathan Adrian at the U.S. Winter Nationals
in December at King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, he
mentioned that when he’s home in Berkeley, California, it’s rare to
have much downtime between training.
This link should take you to some behind-the-scenes shots of Nathan and Simone
Manuel from the media summit. If not, check out @usaswimming on
Then it was off to the Olympic Training Center on Tuesday for
more high-altitude training. Nathan said he really gets a lot out
of the OTC because everything an elite athlete needs is there —
from nutrition, recovery, training, etc. — and he can focus on his
training without distractions.
Nathan is scheduled to possibly race in the Pro Swim Series in
Mesa, Arizona, but will be in Charlotte and Santa Clara leading up
to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha at the end of June,
beginning of July.
Bremerton’s multiple gold medalist Nathan Adrian posted the
second-fastest time this year, winning the 50-meter freestyle at
the Arena Pro Swim Series Friday.
Adrian, who swims for California, had a strong start and closed
out the win in 21.70 seconds, to move him up from fourth in the
world rankings. Florida’s Caeleb Dressell finished second in
Adrian said he was happy to go under 22-seconds just four months
out from the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, but wasn’t thrilled but how
he finished the sprint race.
“The finish wasn’t so hot,” he said. “There’s no strategy (in
the 50), there is adjustment when it comes to your finish. I should
have known my markings just a little bit better just to know where
the flags are.”
That adjustment, Adrian said, would have allowed him to lengthen
out his stroke a little more and possibly touch in 21.6.
Dressel has come on the scene quickly after setting a
short-course American record at the Southeastern Conference
swimming and diving championships last month. Dressel posted the
two fastest times in the history of the 50 free, breaking Adrian’s
NCAA record in 2011 of 19.66 in 18.23.
Adrian had high praise for the 19-year-old, who he raced
head-to-head for the first time.
“The sky is the limit for that kid,” he said. “It’s going to be
a fun couple of years.”
ORLANDO, Fla. — The first day of the Arena Pro Swim Series
went as expected with Olympians Michael Phelps, Katie Ladecky and
Conor Dwyer winning the featured events.
Phelps ran down Tom Shields in the final 50 meters and held on
at the wall to win the 100-meter butterfly in a time of 52.28.
Shields was just behind at 52.35
Ladecky easily beat a field packed with Olympians in the
200-meter freestyle. The 19-year-old from Capital Swim Club in
Washington D.C., swam a 1:55.73 to beat fellow Olympians Missy
Franklin, who swam 1:57.67 and Allison Schmitt, who was third at
Dwyer was swimming competitively for the first time in two
months. He jumped ahead of Dion Dreesens on the final turn and
coasted home to win the men’s 200-meter freestyle with a time of
1:46.96. Dressens was second at 1:48.17.
Good story here from Associated Press writer Paul Newberry
(@pnewberry1963) on Missy Franklin for the first day of the Arena
Pro Swim in Orlando …
By Paul Newberry
The Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. — Get this: There are times when Missy Franklin is
OK, it’s not as if she’s suddenly turned all cranky and rude.
The Olympic champion still walks around the pool with a perpetual
smile. But subpar performances over the past year have started to
get under her skin a bit.
With the Rio Games just five months away, she knows it’s time to
“I definitely don’t want to come off like everything is happy
all the time,” she said before this weekend’s Arena Pro Series meet
in Orlando, not far from the make-believe world of Disney. “When I
come back from some of these meets, I am for sure frustrated.”
At 17, Franklin was one of the biggest stars at the London
Olympics, competing in seven events and winning four gold medals
and a bronze. Away from the pool, her bubbly personality only
enhanced her appeal, though she didn’t cash in right away since she
wanted to compete collegiately.
After two years at Cal, Franklin finally turned pro last year,
setting up some major endorsement deals heading into Rio (she’s
already landed with Speedo and Minute Maid). But, while she has a
lot more money in her pocket, it’s been a struggle to regain the
form that made her the world’s most dominant female swimmer — a
title ceded to fellow American Katie Ledecky.
At the 2015 world championships, Franklin failed to win any of
her four individual events, settling for a silver and two bronzes.
In the last Pro Series meet at Austin, Texas, in January, she again
failed to win any individual events and, tellingly, trailed far
behind Ledecky in the 100- and 200-meter freestyles.
“I left there being really frustrated,” said Franklin, insisting
she did some of her hardest training before the meet. “Why is this
not coming through? Why is this not being shown when I’m racing? I
think it’s important to let yourself feel like that. If you do kind
of push those things aside and pretend they’re not there, it’s all
going to come back and hit you when you don’t want it to.”
The key, she said, is using that angst the right way.
“You know what? This may not be happening right now,” she said.
“It’s OK to be frustrated, but use it for something good. I promise
you, it’s going to pay off when it needs to.”
In addition to turning pro, Franklin moved back to her Colorado
home and reunited with longtime coach Todd Schmitz. They’ve been
adapting to a new style of coach-athlete relationship, one that the
20-year-old swimmer calls more of a partnership.
“He knows I learned so much being away for two years, as a
person and as a swimmer,” Franklin said. “When I was 17, he had to
lay down the line a little bit more. Now, we draw the line
Schmitz has prodded Franklin to turn some of the tough times
into motivation leading to Rio.
“When you throw gasoline on an unlit match, it doesn’t do
anything,” the coach said. “I think that’s the same thing with
Missy. You’ve got to use that as fuel on your fire. You don’t want
to think about it too much, but you know what, there are some key
times where I’ve got to look at her and go, ‘Hey.'”
He’ll even bring up the London Olympics, where things went so
“She missed a bronze medal in the 200 free by a hundredth of a
second,” Schmitz recalled. “She can usually dig down and find that
motivation, but sometimes I’ll say, ‘Hundredth of a second.’ That’s
all I have to say.”
Away from the pool, Franklin has started working on a book with
her parents. She calls it “a family memoir,” a chance to reveal how
the three of them were “able to stay true to ourselves and true to
each other” even as Franklin became a teenage phenomenon.
Titled “Relentless Spirit,” the book is due in early
You know what would help sales?
A few more gold medals.
Franklin isn’t one to make bold predictions. Like most swimmers,
she can’t even bring herself to say definitively she’ll be in Rio
since she still has to go through the ultra-competitive U.S.
But she certainly hasn’t lost her confidence.
“I trust that I’m on this path for a reason and I’m going to do
my best to live it out,” she said. “I have that faith that I’ll be
ready when I need to be ready.”
And, Bob Schaller caught up with Nathan recently for another 20
Question Tuesday. You can find that think here.
Be sure to check out the blog and my Twitter feed,
@AnnetteKSSports, from this week’s Arena Pro Swim Series Orlando
event. Nathan is seeded first in the 50 free (Friday) and second
(Saturday) in the 100 free.
Bremerton’s multi-gold medalist Nathan Adrian is one of several
Team USA headliners swimming at the Arena Pro Swim series in
Orlando, Florida, beginning Thursday at the YMCA Aquatic
The long-course meet continues through Saturday.
Adrian is the top seed in Friday’s loaded 50-meter freestyle
that includes Brazil’s Bruno Fratus and Cesar Cielo, current
American short-course recordholder Caeleb Dressell and Josh
Schneider, among others.
Adrian is seeded second behind Michael Phelps in the 100 free,
which is Saturday.
The meet will be webcast in its entirety at usaswimming.org. Preliminaries begin at 6 a.m.
local with finals at 3 p.m. TV coverage will air on same-day delay
Friday from 7-8:30 p.m. on Universal HD and Saturday from 4:30-6
p.m. on NBC Sports Network.
The swim series is in its third of seven stops. Adrian leads the
men’s standings, followed by Phelps and Conor Dwyer. Swimmers are
awarded points in each individual Olympic event throughout the
series, five points for first, three for second and one point for
third place. The overall winners of the series earn a $10,000
bonus. Individual winners at each meet are awarded $1,000,
$600 for second place and $200 for third.