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SPEEDO swimmers combine efforts to fight malaria

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Thousands of Speedo swimmers, including 14-time Olympic champion, Michael Phelps, have helped combat the spread of malaria in Africa by teaming up to raise an astonishing 193,647USD as part of World Swim Against Malaria on June 25, 2010.

Phelps and fellow Olympic Gold medallist Rebecca Adlington were among the 9,917 athletes, staff and friends of the world’s leading swimwear brand who took to the pool to raise money to purchase vital bed nets offering defence against malaria-carrying mosquitoes, ensuring that 76,322 children will be protected from what remains one of the world’s most deadly diseases.

As well as raising much needed funds for World Swim Against Malaria, the efforts of Speedo swimmers also amounted to a total distance of over 40,074km - the equivalent total distance of a round the world swim.

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Michael Phelps: 99 seconds with 99 days to go for the 2010 Youth OG (Video)

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With the occasion of the 99 days to go for the start of the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore (August 14-26), Michael Phelps (USA), one of the ambassadors for this competition, gives a 99 second-interview, where he briefly talks about his success, the keys to shine in the pool and addresses a special message to all those participating in Singapore. His words will certainly inspire the future champions, knowing that Phelps is the best swimmer in history, with 14 Olympic gold medals, eight of them conquered in one single edition of the Games, in 2008 in Beijing (an unparalleled feat).

When he was appointed 2010 Youth Olympic Games ambassador, Phelps had declared: “The Youth Olympic Games is an excellent initiative, not only for the athletes competing, but also those who are inspired to get into sport and be more active. I am delighted that I have been given the opportunity to become the first official Ambassador of the Youth Olympic Games, and can’t wait to get working with the YOG team to promote the first event this summer!”

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World Swim Against Malaria

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WSMAfter supporting the project on its launch in 2005, FINA is once more associated to the “World Swim Against Malaria”, a global initiative to bring swimmers together, in order to raise money to fight malaria. The aim is to achieve one million people swimming on the same day all around the world, on June 25, 2010.

FINA committed to support, in close association with Speedo, this project because this was a real opportunity for the swimming community around the world to do something very simple, but very substantial, for a humanitarian cause which could save thousands of lives.

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Aquatics honoured at the 2010 Laureus World Sports Awards

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Natalie du ToitSouth African open water swimmer Natalie du Toit, who is breaking down the barriers between disabled and able-bodied sport, recently received the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award, in a ceremony held in Abu Dhabi (UAE).

A delighted Natalie said: "It is a great honour to be receiving this prestigious Award. It is the third time that I've been to the Laureus Awards and the second time that I've been nominated. In 2010 we will be holding the soccer World Cup, and to hold South Africa's name high is very special for me. Being a Friend & Ambassador for Laureus makes it very special for me to see what sport can do, how sports people can go into communities and really uplift them. I've seen those community projects, so to Laureus 'well done'."

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Mind over Matter

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The success of Junya Koga, a Japanese backstroke star, owes more to the strength of mind than to hard work. His experiences of karate practice have given him new strength and led him to new heights in swimming.

The 22-year-old sprinter, who won the gold medal in the men’s 100m backstroke at the FINA World Championships Rome 2009, began to attend Karate practice in December last year after his acupuncturist, Hiroshi Shiraishi, introduced him to karate master Kenji Ushiro. “Thank all the people around you and do not forget it,” told him Shiraishi, who is known for taking care of many top athletes, such as former athletics’ super star Carl Lewis at Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 and Daichi Suzuki, who won the gold medal in the 100m backstroke at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. Ushiro, who learnt the old-style karate of Okinawa, had advised him, “Be prepared in your mind”.

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North America is coming back

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The last FINA Synchronised Swimming World Trophy, held in November 2009 in Montreal (CAN), gave fans a rare glimpse of something that had not occurred since 1996: a country other than Russia at the top of the podium. Three gold medals (highlight team, thematic duet and thematic team) secured Canada’s victory at the World Trophy, opening a door that had been closed for more than a decade.

For 25 years, the United States and Canada made a “gold-medal relay” of the main competitions around the globe, but the Russians have exerted their domination since 1997. With Canada’s late success, many synchronised swimming fans and specialists now ask the question: “Can the ‘founders’ regain their former glory?"

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Mitcham, the man with the Midas touch

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Matthew Mitcham is a young man who knows his place in the world of diving and more importantly knows his place in the world. The 2008 Olympic diving gold medallist wants to make a difference, especially in a sports mad country dominated by four football codes and what seems like a continuous game of cricket.

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One star, one discipline: Trent Grimsey

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Australia and open water swimming are deeply connected. The reasons are many: the first, and most obvious, is the fact that the enormous country is surrounded by water; the second is the passion of Australians for swimming, a discipline in which they share world supremacy with the United States; the third is a reason that will remain forever a part of FINA’s history: the first open water swimming event contested at a FINA World Championships was held in the 1991 edition of the competition in… Perth, along the Swan River in Western Australia.

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How synchro has changed

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Over the last decade, a huge metamorphosis has taken place within synchronised swimming. This has occurred for three main reasons: the sport has become increasingly popular worldwide – about 100 nations have regular programmes in this discipline; the performances have dramatically changed, as new figures and movements, and a new event - the combination - have made synchro more spectacular; and, last but not least, the top-three hierarchy at the three major events – Olympic Games, World Championships and World Cups – has significantly evolved. We could say that all these three items are deeply connected – more participation leads to more interest, more interest leads to more stars - but let us take a look into the last topic and recall the evolution since 1973; the date on which the first edition of the FINA World Championships was launched - the first major competition for synchronised swimmers worldwide.

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Brenda Villa (USA) - The taste for gold

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Her resume happens to break the traditional one page rule, but that is what happens when you have played in three Olympic Games, and concluding this past August in Rome, Italy, six FINA World Championships. She is Brenda Villa of USA Water Polo and these latest World Championships were just another for Villa where she ended up wearing the Gold.

Anyone that has followed women’s water polo over the last decade knows Brenda Villa all too well. The Stanford grad from the largely Hispanic community of Commerce, California grew up playing with the boys, and hit the National Team scene exactly at the right time. Coming on board in the late 90s, Villa was able to step into a new world for the sport that saw inclusion in the Olympic Games and an increased presence in women’s university action.

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