Getty Images

Olympic champion Florent Manaudou returns to the pool with sights set on Tokyo

Leave a comment

Olympic gold medalist Florent Manaudou of France is back to competitive swimming after more than two years away.

The 28-year-old, who won gold in the 50m free at the London 2012 Games and two silver medals in Rio before taking a hiatus, told L’Equipe he plans to train for the Tokyo 2020 Games with the International Swimming League (ISL) Energy Standard squad.

“I’ve been thinking for months. I want to resume the competition,” he told L’Equipe. “For some time, I miss it more and more…talking with my family, my former coaches, I set myself a challenge: to jump [back] in the competition.”

One of the first people he consulted was his sister, Laure, who won gold in the 400m free at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Florent, then 13, watched from the stands in Greece, but they made a pact to compete together at the Olympics, fulfilling that goal in London.

Entering the Rio Games as the reigning Olympic and world champion in the 50m free, Manaudou was the favorite in an often unpredictable event. He came up just .01 seconds short of a second straight Olympic title, finishing behind American Anthony Ervin. After the Games, Manaudou told French newspaper La Provence that his ultimate goal was to compete at the Olympics in two different sports, and shifted his attention to handball (his father, Jean-Luc, was a handball player and coach). Manaudou also worked as a commentator for French TV during the 2017 World Championships and 2018 European Championships.

But still, the pool was calling. And Manaudou sensed he had untapped potential.

“I don’t even know what I can do,” he said, according to L’Equipe. 

He’ll have a team of accomplished training mates with the Energy Standard team: Olympic gold medalists Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden and South Africa’s Chad le Clos are both team captains.

Chinese swimmer Sun Yang’s doping case heads to court

Sun Yang
Getty Images
1 Comment

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) A doping case involving Chinese swimmer Sun Yang is going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and could lead to a ban from competition, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The World Anti-Doping Agency has appealed against a decision by swimming’s governing body to only give the three-time Olympic champion a warning in a case involving the destruction of a doping control sample, the court said Wednesday.

British newspaper the Sunday Times reported incidents involving Sun when a doping control official visited his home in China last September. A vial of Sun’s blood was reportedly smashed with a hammer, and his entourage disputed the official’s credentials.

CAS said it has not set a date for the hearing. It is unclear if the appeal case can be resolved before the swimming world championships in July in Gwangju, South Korea.

Citing the confidential legal process, WADA declined to say if it will seek a fast-track hearing. Sun’s legal team would also have to agree to speed up the process at CAS, which typically takes months to prepare cases.

The 27-year-old Sun served a three-month ban in 2014 for testing positive for a substance then classed as a stimulant. That case was conducted in relative secrecy in China.

Sun would face a more severe sanction for a second violation of doping rules.

The freestyle swimmer won gold at each of the past two Olympics, in the 400 and 1,500 meters at the 2012 London Games and in the 200 at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

Sun also won multiple individual gold medals at each of the past four world championships, which were unaffected by his previous ban.

FINA, the governing body of swimming, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In January, FINA responded to the Sunday Times report by stating it was “not authorized to comment the case. Moreover, FINA will not consider further speculation and hearsay on this matter.”

Olympic medalists Kathleen Baker, Caeleb Dressel headline TYR Pro Swim Series stop in Des Moines

Getty Images
1 Comment

The TYR Pro Swim series continues this week with a stop in Des Moines, Iowa. The meet marks the first time that Iowa has hosted a professional swimming competition.

The women’s field is headlined by a handful of Olympic medalists, including Allison Schmitt, Kathleen Baker, Leah Smith, and Olivia Smoliga.

Baker, a two-time Olympic medalist and backstroke specialist, will look to improve on her performance at the first stop of the series in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she finished third in the 50m back, eighth in the 100m back (an event in which she holds the world record), and scratched the 200m back.

Schmitt, an eight-time Olympic medalist, is entered in her first meet of 2019. The three-time Olympian is slated to compete in six events, including the 200m free, where she holds a six-year-old American record. Schmitt originally planned to retire after the 2016 Rio Olympics, but she never officially took herself out of the drug-testing pool, and returned to competition in April 2018. The 28-year-old has been open in recent years about battling depression and says one of her goals is to destigmatize conversations surrounding mental health.

The men’s field features seven-time world champion Caeleb Dressel, who is entered in seven events: the 100m free, 100m breast, 200m free, 50m breast, 50m fly, 100m fly, and 50m free. The 22-year-old had a slow start to the meet on Thursday morning, finishing 15th in the preliminary round of the 100m free (an event in which he holds the American record). Given that it is still early in the season, it is hard to draw too many conclusions from results in Des Moines as most swimmers are currently in the middle of a heavy training period as they look ahead to this summer’s World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.

Michael Andrew, 19, is also expected to compete in seven events, including five that overlap with Dressel. At last summer’s U.S. National Championships, the two swimmers dueled in multiple events, with Andrew out-touching Dressel in both the 50m fly and 50m free, while Dressel secured the win in the 100m fly.

Live coverage of Thursday’s finals begins at 8:00pm ET on Olympic Channel, while Friday’s finals get underway at 8:00pm ET on NBCSN.