"Retirement Was Something I Was Ready For"
At two, she starts to swim, at 16 she breaks her first world records, at 17 she gets three Olympic gold medals, at 25 she retires from the pool, and at almost 39 she has two children and continues to be an inspirational idol in the United States. Janet Evans, the smiling young swimmer who raced to victory in the most demanding events of the 1988 Games in Seoul – the 400m and 800m free, and the 400m individual medley – is a happy woman, one with plenty of energy and always eager to give back to the sport what she got out of it.
Despite being a short (1.67m) and light (54kg) athlete, Janet has been one of the most iconic swimmers of the late 1980s and early 1990s, with a career that comprised five Olympic and five World Championship medals, seven world records, and more than 40 national titles. Purveyor of a peculiar “windmill” stroke, the Californian star – she was born on August 28, 1971 in Fullerton – had a very successful career from 1987 to 1996, the year in which she announced her retirement at the end of an Olympic Games in Atlanta at which she started out by handing the Flame over to Muhammad Ali at the Opening Ceremony before going on to finish 9th in the 400m freestyle and 6th in the 800m.
Winner from lane 8 and 1
The history of sport, including swimming, is full of surprise winners: unpredicted (sometimes “unpredictable”) winners. Although their number does not match that of those who predictably won the competition where they were favourites, those who won from lane 8 or lane 1 are not exactly rare. Now that the time seems to have come for swimming to be contested in 10- lane pools, we recall a few of the special feats accomplished from an outside lane.
WINNERS FROM LANE 8In swimming, the most glamorous win from an outside lane is that by a swimmer who had been counted among the favourites on the eve of racing but then made a serious error of judgment and missed the cut-off for the final. Salvation came in the form of a teammate who stepped aside to allow a goldmedal prospect access to the final eight by the skin of her teeth. The case in point is that of 16-year-old, classy and beautiful German Franziska van Almsick, who at the 1994 FINA World Championships in Rome won the 200 metres freestyle from lane 8.
A Swimmer Leading a Football Nation
The Football World Cup in South Africa is the
main attraction in world sports in 2010, but what
has swimming in common with this sport in
Brazil, the most successful soccer nation on the
planet? The answer can be found at the Clube de
Regatas do Flamengo, a club that boasts one of
the biggest army of fans of the Beautiful Game
around the world – and since January one that is
presided over by a woman: the former Brazilian
Olympic swimmer Patricia Filler Amorim.
This 41 year-old mother of four boys wore the colours of the yellow and green flag at the Olympic Games in Seoul 1988. Today, she is in charge of a club with about 35 million fans – and that’s just in Brazil. The passion for Flamengo is so strong that it is called the “Red and Black Nation” and to be President of this “state” pushed Amorim into the realms of celebrities: she is in constant media focus. In spite of being confident in this new position, Amorim is still uncomfortable with her newfound celebrity status. “When I was a candidate I didn’t think about that! It was better, because if I realised it I would have given up!” she jokes. “More seriously, I’m trying to appear only when it is essential.”
In synchronised swimming, what do the Olympic gold performance and the 24th place of the duet event have in common? What is the shared experience of the winner of a World Championships’ medal and an athlete coming from an emerging country? Two things: many hours of endless work and choreography in the water. For many years known as “aquatic ballet”, synchronised swimming’s main addedvalue is the display of a complicated figure routine in an element that makes things more difficult to achieve, namely the water.
Many who have once watched a synchronised swimming
routine, either on TV or at an
recall the moment as amazing.
It all looks so effortless,
while the fitness of the swimmers
and their radiant smiles
stand out as an important
prelude to their stunning performance
in the water.
If synchronised swimming is often seen as a breath-taking expression of artistic beauty, one often overlooks the technical skills and hard work that athletes endure to achieve excellence.
What steps are necessary
for such excellence and
success? We put that question
to experts in the field. Experienced coaches Denise
Sauvé (CAN) and Anna
Tarrés (ESP) have placed
their teams at the top of the
synchro world hierarchy, with
Canada winning two bronze
medals (Solo Technical and
Combination) and Spain
sweeping one gold (Combination) and six silvers (Solo,
Duet and Team events both
Technical and Free) at the
World Championships in Rome.
The coaches join Virginia Jasontek, FINA Technical Synchronised Swimming Committee (TSSC) Honorary Secretary, and Jenna Randall, the British synchro swimmer, in sharing their keys to success and commenting on the recent evolution of the competition format.
YOG Singapore 2010: Closing Ceremony highlights success of the Games
The Closing Ceremony of the inaugural edition of the Youth Olympic Games brought a spectacular and emotional end to 12 days of world-class sporting competition and cultural and educational activities in Singapore on August 26, 2010. While addressing to the athletes, the IOC President Jacques Rogge said: “You thrilled us with your splendid performances. But, more than that, you inspired us with your enthusiasm, your spirit and the sheer joy you brought to the task of competing, learning and living with fellow athletes from around the world. You have learnt what it means to be a true champion, not simply a winner. You have shown us that a new generation is ready to embrace and share Olympic values.”
Discover Masters World: Bernice Orwig (USA)
2000 Sydney Olympics. Women’s water polo is played for the first time at the Olympic Games. Atop the podium stands Australia, second is the USA and third Russia. American silver-medallist Bernice Orwig was among those to write the first page of water polo Olympic history.
Ten years later, we meet her at the FINA Masters World Championships in Boras (SWE, for water polo only), where she takes some time to talk about her fantastic Olympic experience and how her passion for the sport has continued to exist since.
Discover Masters World: Lori Crawford & Penny De Meules (USA)
“I learned to swim on the Internet”
Five years ago, Lori Crawford did not know how to swim. Today she is 33 and is competing in synchronised swimming at a World Masters championship for the second time! How did she go from zero swimming skills to performing synchro routines? Here is the story.
It all started with a free gym membership. Where Lori used to live at the time there was a gym with a pool. One day, she decides to take it to the water and soon realise that she does not know how to swim. “Ok, I have to fix this,” she tells herself.
Discover Masters World: Olga Larissa Vargas (MEX)
Two months ago, Olga Vargas from Mexico did not know whether she would be able to compete at the FINA Masters World championships or not. Like some others, the economical aspect almost jeopardised her Masters participation. Today, the 30-year-old leaves with happy memories from Gothenburg having bagged two gold medals, one in Solo and another in Duet, with swimming partner and long-time friend Nara Lorena Falcon.
Background: an early start
As a matter of fact, Olga’s success finds its roots in a former elite career, which stretches from 1997 to 2004. Before getting started with synchro at 11, Olga had already six years of gymnastics under her belt!
YOG Singapore 2010, Day 11: Aquatics programme closes with last gold for China in diving
China closed the Aquatics programme of these Youth Olympic Games with the gold of Bo Qiu in the men’s 10m platform. If we consider Swimming and Diving (the only FINA disciplines represented in the competition), it was China’s 15th gold, after earning 11 titles in the pool (out of 34 races at the Singapore Sports School) and all the four events contested in Diving (at the Toa Payoh Swimming Complex). Following his triumph in the men’s 3m springboard (China brought the same athletes for the 3m springboard and 10m platform: among men, Bo Qiu, and in the women’s field, Jiao Liu, also victorious on two occasions), Qiu got an easy win in the 10m platform, concluding first with a total of 673.50. The final was marked by a 20-minute break due to a malfunctioning in the lighting towers (between the fourth and fifth round of dives).
Discover Masters World: Lucia Molnarova & Veronika Strapekova (SVK)
One of these 13th FINA Masters World Championships’ latest sensations was revealed with Slovakia making its first appearance in the Team and Combination events at world level. Overall, the Slovakian ‘mermaids’ proved themselves tremendous performers, picking up three golds in Solo (swum by Lucia Molnarova), Team and Combination and one silver medal in Duet (swum by Lucia and Veronika Strapekova) in Gothenburg (SWE).
Lucia, 26, and Veronika, 32, who both swim for the Iuventa Bratislava in Slovakia, explain what lies behind their success: “Some teammates have swum at very high level”, says Veronika, who represented Slovakia at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. As to Lucia, she swam at Open level until 2006.
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