swimmingness, n.
/swim"ing/, n.
1. the act of a person or thing that swims.
2. the skill or technique of a person who swims.
3. the sport of swimming.
4. pertaining to, characterized by, or capable of swimming.
5. used in or for swimming: swimming trunks.
6. immersed in or overflowing with water or some other liquid.
7. dizzy or giddy: a swimming head.
[bef. 1000; ME; OE swimmende (adj.). See SWIM, -ING2, -ING1]

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In recreation and sports, the propulsion of the body through water by combined arm and leg motions.

Swimming is popular as an all-around fitness routine and as a competitive sport. It has been included in the modern Olympic Games since their inception in 1896. Events include freestyle (crawl-stroke) races at distances of 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1,500 m; backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly races at 100 and 200 m; individual medley races at 200 and 400 m; freestyle relays, 4 × 100 m and 4 × 200 m; and the medley relay, 4 × 100 m. Long-distance swimming competitions, usually of 15–37 mi (24–59 km), are generally held on lakes and inland waters.

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▪ 2009

      At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, 23-year-old American swimming superstar Michael Phelps did nothing less than turn in the greatest Olympic performance ever, winning eight gold medals in eight events and setting seven world records (and one Olympic record) in the process. The challenge Phelps faced was physically exhausting, mentally daunting, and emotionally draining, requiring 17 separate swims in eight days of competition. Nevertheless, when the last race was finished, Phelps had surpassed swimmer Mark Spitz's record tally of seven gold medals set at the 1972 Games in Munich.

      Phelps earned his victories in five individual events and three relays. He set world records in the 400-m individual medley (4 min 3.84 sec), the 200-m freestyle (1 min 42.96 sec), the 200-m butterfly (1 min 52.03 sec), and the 200-m individual medley (1 min 54.23 sec). He also posted an Olympic record in the 100-m butterfly (50.58 sec), coming from behind to edge out Milorad Cavic of Serbia by the slimmest of margins—one one-hundredth of a second. In addition, Phelps helped the U.S. team set global standards in the 4 × 100-m freestyle relay (3 min 8.24 sec), the 4 × 200-m freestyle relay (6 min 58.56 sec), and the 4 × 100-m medley relay (3 min 29.34 sec). The first of those relays, the 4 × 100-m freestyle, provided another moment of high drama as Phelps's teammate Jason Lezak swam an amazing 46.06-sec anchor leg—by far the fastest-ever 100-m split—to secure victory over the heavily favoured French team by a mere eight-hundredths of a second and keep Phelps's hopes alive for eight golds.

      Another standout in the men's competition at Beijing was Japan's Kosuke Kitajima, who solidified his claim as the greatest breaststroke swimmer in history when he won both the 100-m and 200-m events for the second straight Olympics. He was the first swimmer to achieve such a feat. Kitajima stroked powerfully to capture the 100-m gold medal in the world-record time of 58.91 sec and then followed that performance with a victory in the 200-m breaststroke, posting a time (2 min 7.64 sec) that was just 13-hundredths of a second slower than the world record that he had set in June. Kitajima also picked up a bronze medal as a member of Japan's 4 × 100-m medley relay team.

      In the 50-m freestyle, Brazilian speedster César Cielo upset world record holder Eamon Sullivan of Australia to take the gold with a time of 21.30 sec. Eighteen-year-old Park Tae Hwan of South Korea backed up his brash predictions of victory in the 400-m freestyle when he took command of the race at the 150-m mark and stroked home in a winning time of 3 min 41.86 sec—a mark that only Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe had bettered. Park thus became his country's first Olympic swimming gold medalist.

      Ous Mellouli achieved the same breakthrough for Tunisia by beating Australia's Grant Hackett—arguably the greatest distance swimmer of all time—in Hackett's best event, the 1,500-m freestyle. Battling stroke-for-stroke with Hackett over the 30-lap distance, Mellouli gradually built a small lead and then held off the Australian at the end to win in 14 min 40.84 sec. American Aaron Peirsol reprised his 2004 Olympic triumph in the 100-m backstroke, overpowering the fastest field ever assembled and lowering his world record to 52.54 sec. In the 200-m backstroke, Peirsol and fellow American Ryan Lochte went into the Games sharing the world record, but it was Lochte who unleashed a withering kick in the final lap of the race to take the gold medal and set a new global standard of 1 min 53.94 sec.

      Among the women, 20-year-old Australian Stephanie Rice, who had burst onto the world swimming scene in 2007, triumphed in both individual medley events, setting world records with each golden performance. In the 400-m medley, she held off Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe as both women crashed through the 4-min 30-sec barrier, clocking 4 min 29.45 sec and 4 min 29.89 sec, respectively. In the 200-m medley, Rice overtook Coventry on the final lap to win in 2 min 8.45 sec. To top off her first Olympic Games, Rice swam the leadoff leg on Australia's winning 4 × 200-m freestyle relay team, which clocked 7 min 44.31 sec, smashing the world record by nearly six seconds. For her spectacular performances, Rice was named female World Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World magazine, joining Michael Phelps, the unanimous male winner. As for the tenacious Coventry, although she earned her second of three silvers of the Games when she lost to American Natalie Coughlin in the 100-m backstroke, she did strike gold in the 200-m backstroke, setting a new world standard with a time of 2 min 5.24 sec.

      Germany's Britta Steffen sprinted to her country's only swimming gold medals in Beijing, nipping the U.S.'s ageless wonder, Dara Torres, in the 50-m freestyle by the tiniest of margins, 24.06 sec to 24.07 sec. Last at the 50-m turn in the 100-m freestyle event, Steffen came charging home to upset world record holder Libby Trickett of Australia with a winning time of 53.12 sec and claim her second gold. The 41-year-old Torres, who after emerging from retirement was competing in her fifth Olympic Games, went on to earn two more silver medals as the anchor on both the U.S.'s 4 × 100-m freestyle relay team and its 4 × 100-m medley relay squad. Torres—whose initial Olympic experience had come in 1984, before any of her American teammates were born—thus became the oldest person ever to win an Olympic medal in swimming.

      When she stepped onto the blocks for the start of the 400-m freestyle, Britain's Rebecca Adlington was carrying a burden dating back nearly half a century. It had been 48 years since a British woman had won an Olympic swimming gold, but that fact did not seem to faze the 19-year-old distance ace. Though in fourth place at the 350-m mark, Adlington won the race in 4 min 3.22 sec, besting American Katie Hoff by seven-hundredths of a second. Adlington, it turned out, was only getting started. In the 800-m freestyle, she took command early and kept lengthening her lead with every stroke before touching in 8 min 14.10 sec, more than two seconds under the world record set by American Janet Evans in 1989.

      In one of the major upsets in Beijing, Rebecca Soni of the U.S. outpaced Australian star “Lethal” Leisel Jones in the 200-m breaststroke, setting a world record of 2 min 20.22 sec in the process. Earlier in the swimming competition, Jones had destroyed the field in the 100-m breaststroke. She posted a time of 1 min 5.17 sec, just eight-hundredths of a second off her own world mark.

      Beijing was the first Olympic Games to offer an open-water swimming competition, the 10-km event. In the women's race, heavily favoured Larisa Ilchenko of Russia wound up coming from behind to overtake the British duo of Keri-Anne Payne and Cassandra Patten for the gold in a time of 1 hr 59 min 27.7 sec. Payne and Patten took silver and bronze, respectively. On the men's side, Maarten van der Weijden of The Netherlands, a leukemia survivor who was considered the longest of long shots, came storming from a tightly bunched pack to touch first in 1 hr 51 min 51.6 sec—just 1.5 seconds ahead of Britain's David Davies and 2 seconds ahead of Germany's Thomas Lurz.

      Just as it had at every other international diving competition in the past decade, China totally dominated at the 2008 Olympic Games, delighting an appreciative home crowd. Of the eight events contested in Beijing, China won seven and earned 11 of the 12 medals for which it competed. The incomparable Guo Jingjing made short shrift of her challengers in the 3-m springboard, posting 415.35 points to defeat Russia's Yuliya Pakhalina (398.60) and teammate Wu Minxia (389.85). Guo and Wu teamed up to take the 3-m synchronized event with 343.50 points, nearly 20 more than the silver medalists, Russia's Pakhalina and Anastasiya Pozdnyakova. In the 10-m platform event, veteran Chinese diver Chen Ruolin won a close decision over Canada's Emilie Heymans. Chen and teammate Wang Xin then breezed in the 10-m synchronized contest, posting a 28-point victory over the Australian duo of Briony Cole and Melissa Wu.

      There were no surprises in the first two of the men's contests as the 2007 world champions won both of them. In the 10-m synchronized contest, Lin Yue and Huo Liang took the gold by a comfortable 18-point margin over the German duo of Patrick Hausding and Sascha Klein. In the 3-m synchronized event, Qin Kai teamed with Wang Feng to form an unbeatable tandem that finished more than 47 points ahead of silver medalists Dmitry Sautin and Yury Kunakov of Russia. He Chong took the 3-m springboard, dismissing former world champion Alexandre Despatie of Canada. The upset came in the final diving event—the 10-m platform—when unheralded Australian Matthew Mitcham, who had finished 16th in the 3-m springboard, uncorked a brilliant final dive that earned mostly 10s from the judges and gave him just enough points to overtake China's Zhou Luxin for the gold.

Synchronized Swimming
      Led by the two Anastasiyas— Davydova and Yermakova—Russia maintained its perch atop the world of synchronized swimming by taking both gold medals on offer at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Perfectly attuned to each other in the water, Davydova and Yermakova became the first synchronized swimmers to repeat as Olympic champions. Scoring eight perfect 10s, the Russian duo tallied 99.251 points, holding off a determined challenge from Spain's Gemma Mengual and Andrea Fuentes (98.334 points). Japan's Saho Harada and Emiko Suzuki (97.167 points) placed third.

      The Anastasiyas then joined their teammates—Maria Gromova, Natalya Ishchenko, Elvira Khasyanova, Olga Kuzhela, Yelena Ovchinnikova, Anna Shorina, and Svetlana Romashina—as Russia, with 99.500 points, stroked to its third straight Olympic title in the team competition. Spain was second (98.251 points), and China took the bronze—its first Olympic medal in the sport—with 97.334 points.

Phillip Whitten

▪ 2008

      With swimmers from around the world focusing on the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the level of competition heated up in 2007. The highlight of the year was the 12th Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) world championships, held in Melbourne on March 17–April 1. Fourteen world records (11 individual and 3 relay marks) were broken in the temporary 50-m pool at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena. Although seven swimmers set individual records, American Michael Phelps turned in one of the most spectacular performances in the history of the sport. The 21-year-old former wunderkind shattered four individual world marks and led off a record-setting relay en route to winning seven gold medals. He was favoured to win an eighth in the 4 ×100-m medley relay, but the U.S. squad was disqualified in the preliminaries when another swimmer false-started.

      Phelps led off the third day of competition with a superb time of 1 min 43.86 sec in the 200-m freestyle, lowering the six-year-old record (1 min 44.06 sec) set by Australian icon Ian Thorpe. Swimming the first 150 m in a virtual tie with 2000 Olympic champion Pieter van den Hoogenband of The Netherlands, Phelps exploded off the final turn and, using his distinctive underwater dolphin kick, defeated his Dutch rival by more than two and a half seconds. Phelps followed with world-record swims of 1 min 52.09 sec in the 200-m butterfly, 1 min 54.98 sec in the 200-m individual medley, and 4 min 06.22 sec in the 400-m individual medley. He also outtouched another American, world record holder Ian Crocker, to win the 100-m butterfly and led off his team's record-breaking 4 ×200-m freestyle relay (7 min 03.24 sec) and gold-medal-winning 4 ×100-m freestyle relay. In December Phelps was unanimously selected the male World Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World magazine.

       Aaron Peirsol took his own global standard in the 100-m backstroke down to 52.98 sec before fellow American Ryan Lochte upset him in the 200-m backstroke (an event Peirsol had not lost in more than six years) and claimed a new world record along with the gold medal in 1 min 54.32 sec. Park Tae Hwan, 17, became South Korea's first swimming world champion when he outstroked Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia and Australian defending titlist Grant Hackett to win the 400-m freestyle in 3 min 44.30 sec. Mateusz Sawrymowicz of Poland swam a swift 14 min 45.94 sec to take the 1,500-m freestyle.

      Among the women, Australian “golden girl” Lisbeth (Libby) Lenton (Lenton, Lisbeth ) earned five gold medals—three in individual events and two in relays. Lenton blazed to victory in the 50-m (24.53 sec) and 100-m (53.40 sec) freestyle sprints and the 100-m butterfly (57.15 sec). She followed by leading off Australia's victorious 4 ×100-m freestyle relay and anchoring her country's 4 ×100-m medley relay to a world-record time of 3 min 55.74 sec. It was Lenton's “world record that wasn't,” however, that caused the greatest stir. Just two days after the world championships, at the U.S. versus Australia Duel in the Pool, Lenton led off the 4 ×100-m Australian mixed freestyle relay squad in a dazzling 52.99 sec. Unfortunately, FINA ruled that since the swim took place in an unofficial event—a mixed (men and women) relay in which Lenton swam against Phelps—the record could not be ratified.

      France's mercurial Laure Manaudou took gold in Melbourne in the 200-m and 400-m freestyle events, outdueling Germany's Annika Lurz on the final lap of the shorter race to touch in a world-record 1 min 55.52 sec, 16-hundredths of a second ahead of Lurz, who was also under the 1-min 56.47-sec record set by Federica Pellegrini of Italy in the semifinals the day before. At year's end Manaudou was named female World Swimmer of the Year.

       Natalie Coughlin of the U.S. finally lowered her own 100-m backstroke world record of 59.58 sec (set in 2002) when she touched in 59.44 sec, half a stroke ahead of Manaudou. Coughlin also led off the American team's record-setting 4 ×200-m freestyle relay (7 min 50.09 sec). Katie Hoff, 17, swam one leg of the same relay, won the 400-m individual medley with a world-record 4 min 32.89 sec on the breaststroke leg, and picked up another gold in the 200-m individual medley (2 min 10.13 sec).

      Other standouts included American Leila Vaziri, who swam a world-record 28.16 sec in both the semifinal and the final of the 50-m backstroke; Australian Leisel Jones, who won the 100-m and 200-m breaststroke races in times only she had ever bettered; and 18-year-old American Kate Ziegler, who nipped Manaudou in the 800-m freestyle (8 min 18.52 sec) and came within a second of American Janet Evans's 19-year-old 1,500-m record. At the TYR Meet of Champions in June in Mission Viejo, Calif., however, Ziegler shattered Evans's 1,500-m record by 10 sec with a time of 15 min 42.54 sec. Just days earlier, in a meet in Barcelona, Sweden's Therese Alshammar had swum a 50-m butterfly record of 25.46 sec. At the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro in July, Brazilian Thiago Pereira won six gold medals, breaking the Pan Am mark of five set 40 years earlier by Mark Spitz of the U.S.

      In preparation for the first Olympic open-water event (10 km) on the schedule in Beijing, Russia's Larisa Ilchenko and Vladimir Dyatchin won at the Olympic distance in Melbourne. The year's outstanding open-water performance, however, was by Bulgarian Petar Stoychev on August 24, when he slashed more than six minutes off the record for swimming across the English Channel. Stoychev's time of 6 hr 57 min 50 sec was history's first Channel crossing under seven hours.

       China dominated every major international diving meet in which it competed in 2007, especially the FINA world championships. The Chinese team, which combined veteran women competitors and mostly less-experienced men, won 9 of the 10 events contested in Melbourne and earned 14 of the 16 medals for which it was allowed to compete.

 China's Guo Jingjing, 26, reinforced her claim as the greatest female diver in history by winning two gold medals, raising her career total to a record nine medals (eight gold and one silver) in five world championships dating back to 1998. Undefeated since 2001, Guo topped her teammate and perennial runner-up, Wu Minxia, to take the 3-m springboard. Then the pair teamed up to win the 3-m synchronized event. He Zi, 17, used her high degree of difficulty to edge past defending champion Blythe Hartley of Canada and claim the gold in the 1-m springboard, while Wang Xin cruised to victory in the 10-m platform. Teenagers Jia Tong and Chen Ruolin won the 10-m synchronized competition.

      The Chinese men were nearly as dominant. Qin Kai, the only male diver to take two gold medals, won the 3-m springboard over defending champion Alexandre Despatie of Canada and joined forces with veteran Wang Feng in the 3-m synchronized contest. Luo Yutong and He Chong took the top two spots in the 1-m springboard, while Huo Liang and Lin Yue defeated the Russian duo of Gleb Galperin and Dmitry Dobrosok in the 10-m synchronized event. Only Galperin's win in the 10-m platform, ahead of China's Zhou Luxin, prevented a Chinese gold-medal sweep.

Synchronized Swimming.
       Russia continued its decadelong domination of synchronized swimming—winning six of the seven contested events in Melbourne, including the team free and the team technical routines. The two Anastasiyas— Davydova and Yermakova—unbeaten since 2002, won three gold medals each, capturing the duet free, the free routine combination, and the duet technical. Natalya Ishchenko took the solo technical contest to account for the fourth Russian gold. Only France's Virginie Dedieu, who came out of a premature retirement, could halt the Russian juggernaut; she turned in the single-most-spectacular performance of the meet, winning the free solo ahead of Ishchenko. It was Dedieu's third consecutive win in an event in which no other swimmer had ever repeated as champion. As in 2005, Spain and Japan tied for second place, with two silver and two bronze medals each.

Phillip Whitten

▪ 2007

 Despite the absence of a Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) world swimming championship in 2006, there was no letup in the water, as an amazing 25 world records were posted (on top of 5 world marks set at the end of 2005). Among the records to fall in 2006 was Janet Evans's 400-m freestyle standard of 4 min 3.85 sec, set at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, the second oldest global standard in the books.

      Four women's world records fell at the Australian trials for the Commonwealth Games, held January 30–February 4 at the state-of-the-art Melbourne Aquatic Centre. “ Lethal Leisel” Jones shattered the 100-m breaststroke mark held by American Jessica Hardy with a 1-min 5.71-sec effort and then slashed 1.18 second off her own 200-m record in an astonishing 2 min 20.54 sec. Jade Edmistone lowered her own 50-m breaststroke standard with a 30.31-sec effort, while Lisbeth (“Libby”) Lenton recaptured the 100-m freestyle mark from teammate Jodie Henry with a time of 53.42 sec.

      Only two records fell at the Commonwealth Games themselves, held March 16–21 in Melbourne, with Jones featured in both. First she recorded 1 min 5.09 sec in the 100-m breaststroke to destroy her own global standard set seven weeks earlier. The next day she teamed with Sophie Edington, Jessicah Schipper, and Lenton to smash the 4 × 100-m medley relay record with a time of 3 min 56.30 sec.

      Several records came under fire at national championships. At the French nationals in May, Laure Manaudou took down Evans's 18-year-old iconic record in the 400-m freestyle with a time of 4 min 3.03 sec. A week later, at the Belarus championships, Alyaksandra Herasimenia clocked 28.19 sec in the 50-m backstroke, equaling the world record held by Germany's Janine Pietsch. In August Brendan Hansen lowered his own world marks in both the 100-m (59.13 sec) and 200-m (2 min 8.74 sec) breaststroke events at the U.S. national championships in Irvine, Calif.

       German women set a trio of world records at the European championships, held July 31–August 6 in Budapest. On the opening day Petra Dallmann, Daniela Götz, Britta Steffen, and Annika Liebs clocked 3 min 35.22 sec for the 4 × 100-m freestyle relay. Steffen's split of 52.66 sec, history's fastest, raised expectations that she might challenge Lenton's 100-m record, and she did not disappoint. On August 2 Steffen swam the 100 m in 53.30 sec, slicing 0.12 sec from Lenton's mark. The next day Dallmann, Daniela Samulski, Steffen, and Liebs posted 7 min 50.82 sec in the 4 × 200-m freestyle relay, obliterating by a huge 2.60 sec the previous mark set by the U.S. in 2004. Liebs's split of 1 min 55.64 sec was the fastest ever. Manaudou set the only other global standard in Budapest, again lowering the 400-m-freestyle record, this time to 4 min 2.13 sec, as she stroked to four individual gold medals.

      Six world records—five by American men—were broken at the Pan Pacific championships, held August 17–20 in Victoria, B.C. Michael Phelps had a hand in three as he notched five gold medals. On the first day he cut 13-hundredths of a second from his own world record in the 200-m butterfly to touch in 1 min 53.80 sec—his first world record in two years. Three days later he came from behind in the 200-m individual medley to pass teammate Ryan Lochte with a world-record time of 1 min 55.84 sec. Phelps then teamed with Neil Walker, Cullen Jones, and Jason Lezak to record 3 min 12.46 sec for the 4 × 100-m freestyle relay, well under the previous mark of 3 min 13.17 sec set by South Africa at the Athens Olympics. Aaron Peirsol lowered his own global mark in the 200-m backstroke to 1 min 54.44 sec, while Hansen took his 200-m breaststroke record down to 2 min 8.50 sec. As Australia's Schipper captured the 200-m butterfly in 2 min 5.40 sec, she became the only woman to set a world record in Victoria.

      Five short-course records were set in the waning weeks of 2005, including three in December at the European short-course championships, and in January 2006 Ukraine's Oleg Lisogor started off the new calendar year with a time of 26.17 for the men's 50-m breaststroke. The highlight of the short-course season, however, came in April at the world championships in Shanghai, where Lochte stole the show, setting astounding world records in the 100-m backstroke (49.99 sec), 200-m backstroke (1 min 49.05 sec), and 200-m individual medley (1 min 53.31 sec). Two women's relay records also fell; The Netherlands clocked 3 min 33.32 sec for the 4 × 100-m freestyle, and Australia touched in 3 min 51.84 sec in the 4 × 100-m medley. Three additional short-course records were set in August. South Africa's Roland Schoeman went 20.98 sec for the 50-m freestyle in a meet in Hamburg, Ger. At the Australian short-course championships in Hobart, Jones broke the 100-m breaststroke record twice, finishing in 1 min 4.12 sec on August 27 and the next day lowering it to 1 min 3.86 sec, while Lenton set a new mark of 55.95 sec in the 100-m butterfly.

      At year's end Phelps and Jones were named male and female World Swimmer of the Year, respectively, by Swimming World magazine. Phelps, winner for the third time in four years, just nipped Hansen. Jones, a two-time winner, edged Manaudou by the smallest of margins.

       China's divers demonstrated their superiority in 2006 by completely dominating the year's major competitive event, the 15th FINA Diving World Cup, held July 19–23 in Changshu, China. Using a combination of Olympic veterans and teenage rookies, the Chinese team outclassed the rest of the world, taking gold in all 10 events, winning 15 of a possible 30 medals, and outscoring everyone else combined by a margin of more than two to one.

      Two Chinese women—two-time 3-m-springboard champion Guo Jingjing and 15-year-old newcomer Jia Tong—won two gold medals each. Guo won handily in the 1-m springboard with 323.70 points, defeating teammate Wu Minxia (a double Olympic gold medalist) and Canada's Blythe Hartley (the defending world champion). In the 3-m synchronized contest, Guo teamed with partner Li Ting for a second gold. With 385.30 points, Jia earned a solo victory in the tightly contested 10-m platform, defeating teammate Lao Lishi by less than six points. Canada's Emilie Heymans was a close third. Jia teamed with 14-year-old Chen Ruolin in the 10-m synchronized event, and the two youngsters breezed to victory by a margin of almost 58 points. Wu was the winner of the 3-m contest with 373.40 points, barely half a point ahead of Russia's Yuliya Pakhalina, with Guo another five points back.

      Teenager He Chong of China took the men's 1-m springboard with 505.65 points, a decisive 60 points ahead of teammate Luo Yutong. Two days later He and Wang Feng reprised their 2005 world championship title in the 3-m synchronized. He performed brilliantly in the 3-m springboard in the preliminaries and semifinals but scored a zero on his first dive in the final and wound up fifth. Rookie Qin Kai stepped into the breach, however, scoring 538.50 points to win the 3-m. Zhou Luxin and Lin Yue went one–two in the 10-m platform, with their nearest challengers more than 90 points off the pace. Huo Liang and Lin Yue carved out a 56-point victory in the 10-m synchronized crown.

Synchronized Swimming.
       Russia's synchronized swimmers maintained their iron grip on the sport by winning all four events at the premier competition of 2006, the FINA synchronized swimming World Cup, held September 14–17 at the International Swimming Centre in Yokohama, Japan. Although the meet attracted nearly 200 competitors representing 29 countries, swimmers from only three countries took home medals: Russia (four gold), Spain (two silver and two bronze), and Japan (also two silver and two bronze). Natalya Ishchenko tallied 98.750 points to become the solo world champion, while the two Anastasiyas—Davydova and Yermakova—swam away with their third straight duet crown. Russia took the team title with a near-perfect 99.100, while Japan just nipped Spain for second.

Phillip Whitten

▪ 2006

      In 2005 swimming superstars Ian Thorpe of Australia and Amanda Beard of the U.S. decided to skip the entire year of competition—Thorpe to focus on his burgeoning commercial empire and Beard to concentrate on her budding acting and modeling career. Their absence was scarcely noticed, however, as 11 world long-course records were set, 9 of them in July at the 11th Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) world championships, held in Montreal. Records held by Thorpe and Beard were among those to fall.

 The American men and Australian women dominated the competition in Montreal. The U.S. claimed the overall team title with a total of 32 medals (15 gold, 11 silver, and 6 bronze). Australia was a strong second with 22 medals (13 gold, 5 silver, and 4 bronze). Swimmers from 12 countries earned gold medals, and 24 countries had at least one medalist. Though eight athletes won two individual events apiece, Australia's Grant Hackett was the only swimmer to win three events. Hackett took the 400-m freestyle (3 min 42.91 sec), 800-m freestyle (7 min 38.65 sec), and 1,500-m freestyle (14 min 42.58 sec) and led from the first stroke to the last in every race. His performance in the 800 m broke by 0.51 sec the previous world record, set by Thorpe at the 2001 world championships. With his win in the 1,500 m, Hackett became the only swimmer ever to win the same event in four consecutive world championships. It was also his 7th individual world championship gold medal—more than any other swimmer in history. At year's end Hackett was named by Swimming World magazine as the male World Swimmer of the Year, just edging Aaron Peirsol of the U.S.

      Peirsol took the 100-m and 200-m backstroke events in Montreal, lowering his own world record to 1 min 54.66 sec in the latter race. Brendan Hansen of the U.S. renewed his credentials as the world's fastest breaststroker by taking the 100-m and 200-m events. Meanwhile, another American, Michael Phelps, the star of the 2004 Athens Olympics, passed up two events in Montreal in which he held the world record—the 200-m butterfly and 400-m medley—to try to extend his dominance to two new events. The experiment proved less than spectacular, however, as Phelps finished seventh in the 100-m freestyle and failed to qualify for the 400-m freestyle final. He nevertheless emerged from Montreal with come-from-behind victories in the 200-m medley and 200-m freestyle. Rounding out the 10-victory performance by the American men, Ian Crocker stopped the clock in the 100-m butterfly in the world-record time of 50.40 sec.

      Roland Schoeman of South Africa broke the world record in the 50-m butterfly twice in two consecutive days in Montreal. He ultimately clocked 22.96 sec in the event. The explosive Schoeman also won the 50-m freestyle in 21.69 sec, just five-hundredths of a second off Russian Aleksandr Popov's world standard.

      In the women's competition, Australia's Leisel Jones broke Beard's world record in the 200-m breaststroke, finishing in 2 min 21.72 sec, and edged American Jessica Hardy to claim another world title in the 100-m breaststroke final (though Hardy had scored her own world record of 1 min 6.20 sec in the semifinals). Jones's performance earned her Swimming World's female World Swimmer of the Year honours. Hardy also finished second behind Australian Jade Edmistone's world-record time of 30.45 sec in the 50-m breaststroke. Distance phenomenon Kate Ziegler of the U.S. secured wins in the 800-m and 1500-m freestyle races. Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry upset American Natalie Coughlin to win the 100-m backstroke in 1 min 0.24 sec before cruising to a second gold medal in the 200-m backstroke. Katie Hoff of the U.S. staked her claim as the world's most versatile female swimmer with victories in the 200-m and 400-m individual medley.

       Otylia Jedrzejczak of Poland lowered her own world record in the 200-m butterfly to 2 min 5.61 sec, finishing just four-hundredths of a second ahead of Jessicah Schipper of Australia. The thrilling finish was marred by controversy, however, as television replays seemed to show Jedrzejczak touching the wall with one hand instead of two as required under FINA rules. Nevertheless, officials failed to call the apparent transgression, and FINA rejected the Australian protest that requested that videotapes be used to determine the legality of Jedrzejczak's finish. On October 1 Jedrzejczak was seriously injured in an auto accident that claimed the life of her brother and put her future in swimming in doubt.

      In the open-water competition at Montreal, Dutch star Edith Van Dijk ended her career in spectacular fashion. After more than five hours of swimming, the 32-year-old Van Dijk won the 25-km event by a mere three-tenths of a second. She had a much easier time winning the 10-km race, and she took bronze in the 5-km event, which was won by Russian teenager Larisa Ilchenko. Van Dijk planned to retire at the end of the season. Among the men, Thomas Lurz of Germany and 17-year-old Chip Peterson of the U.S. shared top honours. Peterson, swimming in his first major international meet, nipped Lurz in the 10-km race and finished second to the German in the 5-km contest. Spain's David Meca took the 25-km event.

       FINA made several rule changes during the year, including the decision to allow breaststrokers to take one dolphin kick following the start of a race and after each turn. Even more controversial was the governing body's decision to require athletes to advertise FINA corporate sponsors on their swim caps and on bibs worn over their national team uniforms. The move prompted complaints from several swimmers. The issue was expected to be resolved in 2006.

      Four short-course world records were broken during 2005. Lisbeth Lenton of Australia set new marks in the 100-m freestyle (51.70) in August and the 200-m freestyle (1 min 53.29 sec) in November. Sweden's Anna-Karin Kammerling lowered her own 50-m butterfly record to 25.33 sec, while in men's competition, Schoeman and Ryk Neethling of South Africa both shattered the 100-m medley mark, with Neethling establishing a new standard of 51.52 sec.

       China won gold in 5 of the 10 diving events contested at the FINA world championships, but the Chinese divers were no longer seen as invincible. Canada captured three golds in Montreal, and the U.S. and Russia each earned one. Divers from 10 countries won at least one medal, with China leading the way with 12.

       Blythe Hartley gave Canada its first gold medal of the championships with a dominating performance on the women's 1-m springboard. Guo Jingjing and Wu Minxia finished first and second, respectively, in the 3-m event. Laura Wilkinson of the U.S. won the 10-m platform event in a contest marred by numerous blown dives. Wilkinson, the Olympic champion in 2000, led through all three rounds. The Chinese dominated both women's synchronized events. Li Ting and Guo Jingjing teamed up to take the 3-m springboard crown with 349.80 points, more than 30 ahead of Germany. In the 10-m platform, Jia Tong and Yuan Peilin—aged 15 and 14, respectively—breezed to victory with 351.60 points.

 Canada's Alexandre Despatie won both of the men's springboard events with brilliant performances. In the 1-m competition, he outclassed the field with 489 points. His victory in the 3-m event was even more stunning as he tallied a record 813.60 points. In an exciting 10-m platform contest, China's Hu Jia came from behind on the final dive to overtake Cuba's José Guerra and win with a score of 698.01. Teenagers Wang Feng and He Chong scored a decisive victory for China in the men's 3-m synchronized event. Russia won its only gold when Dmitry Dobroskok and Gleb Galperin pulled away on the final two dives to take the 10-m synchronized crown.

Synchronized Swimming.
      At the FINA world championships, Russia managed to surpass its dominant performances in synchronized swimming at the 2004 Olympics and at the 2003 world championships. Led by Anastasiya Davydova and Anastasiya Yermakova, the Russians won three of the four gold medals in Montreal and added a silver. Davydova and Yermakova, winners of the duet competition in 2003, claimed the world title once again, easily besting second-place Spain and third-place Japan. The Russians collected their two additional titles in the team and free routine events. Only France's Virginie Dedieu was able to prevent a clean sweep by the Russians. She scored seven perfect 10s and three 9.9s en route to becoming the first synchronized swimmer to repeat as world champion in the solo competition.

Phillip Whitten

▪ 2005

      The Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, held in Athens in August, dominated swimming in 2004, and the sport was arguably the highlight of the Games. The Olympic swimming competition served to showcase the amazing talent and versatility of 19-year-old American Michael Phelps. (See Biographies (Phelps, Michael ).) Worldwide media pressure and the promise of a million-dollar bonus from Speedo, one of his sponsors, if he matched American Mark Spitz's seven gold medals from the 1972 Games in Munich, W.Ger., did not seem to faze Phelps. Although he fell a bit short, his eight total medals (six gold and two bronze) equaled the most won by an individual in any sport in one Olympics. The fact that Phelps gave up his spot in the final of the 4 × 100-m medley relay to a teammate only added to his reputation, though he won gold with the rest of the relay team because he had raced the preliminary heats. In all, Phelps won individual gold medals in the 100-m and 200-m butterfly and the 200-m and 400-m individual medley, setting a world record in the latter event, and an individual bronze in the 200-m freestyle. In addition to the medal in the 4 × 100-m medley, he earned gold in the 4 × 200-m freestyle relay and bronze in the 4 × 100-m freestyle relay.

      Phelps, however, was not the only aquatic superstar in Athens. Australia's Ian Thorpe repeated as 400-m freestyle champion and claimed the gold in the 200-m freestyle, coming from behind to defeat Pieter van den Hoogenband of The Netherlands, the reigning Olympic champion. But van den Hoogenband, the “Flying Dutchman,” defended his title in the 100-m freestyle. American Aaron Piersol, who set a world record in the 200-m backstroke at the U.S. Olympic trials in Long Beach, Calif., was a triple gold medalist in Athens. The dorsal specialist took both the 100-m and 200-m backstroke and then led off the U.S.'s winning 4 × 100-m medley relay with a world record of 53.45 sec for the 100-m backstroke; the U.S. relay team finished in the world record time of 3 min 30.68 sec. Japan's Kosuke Kitajima won both the 100-m and 200-m breaststroke, upsetting American Brendan Hansen, who had set world records in both events at the U.S. trials.

      The champions from the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia, in both the shortest and longest swimming events defended their titles, but both were pushed to the limit. Gary Hall, Jr., of the U.S. kept his crown in the 50-m freestyle by the narrowest margin possible, 0.01 sec. In the 1,500-m freestyle, Australia's Grant Hackett, unbeaten for seven years, just managed to hold off American Larsen Jensen and Briton David Davies. The U.S. men won two of the three relays, setting a world record in the 4 × 100-m medley and upsetting Australia in the 4 × 200-m freestyle. Unheralded South Africa won the 4 × 100-m freestyle relay, taking the lead on the first lap and finishing in a world-record time of 3 min 13.17 sec.

      Unlike the men, who saw swimmers from only 5 nations stand atop the victory podium, the women spread the gold around, with 10 nations sharing gold and glory. American Natalie Coughlin won five medals—more than any other woman at the Athens Games. She took the 100-m backstroke and led off the U.S.'s 4 × 200-m freestyle relay, which finished in 7 min 53.42 sec to break the previous world record, held by East Germany. Coughlin also earned silver in the 4 × 100-m freestyle and medley relays and bronze in the 100-m freestyle.

      Australian sprinter Jodie Henry was a triple winner. She captured the 100-m freestyle, posting a world record (53.52 sec) in the semifinals, and anchored Australian teams that set world records in the 4 × 100-m freestyle relay (3 min 35.94 sec) and the 4 × 100-m medley relay (3 min 57.32 sec). Ukraine's Yana Klochkova (see Biographies (Klochkova, Yana )) swam into the record book when she won both the 200-m and 400-m individual medley for the second straight Olympics. No other woman had won both medleys in one Olympiad or had repeated as Olympic champion in either event. Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe won the 200-m backstroke, becoming her country's first Olympic swimming champion. She also captured silver in the 100-m backstroke and bronze in the 200-m medley. France's Laure Manaudou also claimed a medal of each colour as she won the 400-m freestyle, finished second in the 800-m freestyle, a stroke behind Japan's Ai Shibata, and placed third in the 100-m backstroke.

       Otylia Jedrzejczak became the first Polish swimmer to win Olympic gold as she outdueled Australia's Petria Thomas, winner of the 100-m butterfly, in the 200-m butterfly. Jedrzejczak also captured silver medals in the 100-m butterfly and the 400-m freestyle. American Amanda Beard, who set a world record (2 min 22.44 sec) in the 200-m breaststroke at the U.S. trials, came from behind to nip Australia's Leisel Jones in that event. Beard also won silver in the 200-m individual medley and the 400-m medley relay.

      There were three major short-course competitions in 2004, the American men's and women's national collegiate championships in March and the world short-course championships in Indianapolis, Ind., in October. The collegiate meets produced nine world records, while the world championships, held just six weeks after the Olympics, produced four. At the five-day Indianapolis meet, which drew some 550 swimmers from 97 countries to a state-of-the-art temporary pool inside the packed 18,000-seat Conseco Fieldhouse, Australia's Brooke Hanson, a gold and silver medalist in Athens, won an unprecedented five individual world titles—the 50-m, 100-m, and 200-m breaststroke and the 100-m and 200-m individual medley. She also swam a leg on Australia's world-record-breaking 4 × 100-m medley relay team. Jenny Thompson, the most decorated American Olympian in any sport, won two silver medals in Athens for a career total of 12 Olympic medals, and, in a fitting end to her 17-year career, she captured four medals in Indianapolis.

      As expected, China dominated the diving competition at the 2004 Olympics, winning six of the eight events. Challengers to Chinese hegemony emerged, however, and included a talented contingent from Australia. In contrast, the U.S., a perennial diving power, failed to win a single medal for the first time since 1912.

      China's Guo Jingjing was the only diver to claim double gold; she won the 3-m springboard event over countrywoman Wu Minxia and teamed with Wu to take the 3-m springboard synchronized contest. Australia's Chantelle Newberry scored a major upset in the 10-m platform, decisively defeating favoured Lao Lishi of China. Lao teamed with Li Ting to take the 10-m platform synchronized event.

      China's Peng Bo was unstoppable in the men's 3-m springboard, winning by more than 31 points over Canada's Alexandre Despatie. In the 10-m platform, Hu Jia of China earned five perfect scores of 10 on his sixth dive to clinch the gold. Australia's Matt Helm edged defending champion Tian Liang of China by less than a point for the silver. Tian and Yang Jinghui won the 10-m platform synchronized competition over Peter Waterfield and Leon Taylor, who captured Great Britain's first diving medal since 1960. The highlight of the diving competition took place in the men's 3-m springboard synchronized contest. After favoured China scored a zero for a failed dive and Russia suffered a major mishap, Greece's Nikolaos Siranidis and Thomas Bimis earned their country's first gold medal in diving, first gold medal in an aquatic sport since 1896, and first gold medal of the 2004 Games.

Synchronized Swimming.
      Russia again dominated the Olympic synchronized swimming competition. In the duet event, 2003 world champions Anastasiya Davydova and Anastasiya Yermakova were clearly superior in both technical merit and artistic impression, tallying a perfect score of 50 in the latter category to finish with a total of 99.334 points. Japan's Miya Tachibana and Miho Takeda were second with 98.417 points, and the American pair of Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova placed third with 96.918. In the team event, Russia won gold with 99.501 points, followed by Japan (98.501) and the U.S. (97.418).

Phillip Whitten

▪ 2004

      The 10th Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) world swimming championships, held in Barcelona, Spain, in July 2003, offered the perfect opportunity for swimming to showcase its greatest talents one year before the Olympic Games in Athens. A record 2,015 competitors, representing 157 nations, took part. The U.S. (with 28 medals, including 11 gold) and Australia (22 medals, 6 gold) dominated the proceedings in the pool, but swimmers from 11 other nations won gold medals, while athletes representing another 11 nations took home silver or bronze medals. World records were broken 14 times in 11 events, and championship records were bettered 38 times.

      One individual, however, dominated the event: 18-year-old American Michael Phelps, who broke a world record five times and won five medals—three gold and two silver. Phelps won the 200-m butterfly in 1 min 54.35 sec after having reduced his own world record to 1 min 53.93 sec in the semifinals. He also lowered his own record to 1 min 57.52 sec in the semifinals of the 200-m individual medley and then swam even faster (1 min 56.04 sec) in the final. (A week later, at the U.S. national championships, he lowered that time to 1 min 55.94 sec.) After Ukraine's Andrey Serdinov (51.76 sec) broke Australian Michael Klim's four-year-old 100-m butterfly record in the first semifinal, Phelps won his semifinal in 51.47 sec. He swam the final in 51.10 sec but, in the biggest upset of the meet, was beaten by teammate Ian Crocker (50.98 sec). Phelps also smashed his own world record in the 400-m individual medley with a 4-min 9.09-sec final and led off the American team's silver-medal-winning 4 × 200-m freestyle relay. At year's end he was named the male World Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World magazine, replacing Australia's Ian Thorpe, who had won the honour two years in a row and four of the previous five years.

      Japan's Kosuke Kitajima set breaststroke world records in both the 100-m (59.78 sec) and 200-m (2 min 9.42 sec) events. Russia's 31-year-old Aleksandr Popov won the 50-m freestyle in 21.92 sec (a championship record), upset favourite Pieter van den Hoogenband of The Netherlands in the 100-m freestyle, and swam the anchor leg in Russia's unexpected triumph over the U.S. in the 4 × 100-m freestyle relay. Thorpe was victorious in the 200-m freestyle and easily vanquished teammate Grant Hackett in the 400-m freestyle race. Hackett won the 1,500 m for the third straight time, finishing almost a full pool length ahead of Ukraine's Igor Chervynsky. Hackett also triumphed in the 800-m freestyle and led off Australia's gold medal 4 × 200-m freestyle relay. American Aaron Peirsol swept the 100-m and 200-m backstroke events. Germany's Thomas Rupprath (24.80-sec) smashed the 50-m backstroke world record, and Australian backstroker Matt Welsh set a new standard in the 50-m butterfly with his 23.43-sec victory. Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Crocker, and Jason Lezak broke the world record in the final of the 4 × 100-m medley relay (3 min 31.54 sec). James Gibson won the 50-m breaststroke, becoming the first British man to win a global title in more than a quarter of a century.

      In the women's competition Germany's Hannah Stockbauer was the only other swimmer besides Phelps to win three individual gold medals in Barcelona—in the 400-m, 800-m, and 1,500-m freestyle. The feat earned her Swimming World's female World Swimmer of the Year honours. Three other women won two gold medals each. Inge de Bruijn of The Netherlands was victorious in the 50-m freestyle and the 50-m butterfly. China's Luo Xuejuan won the 50-m breaststroke and captured the 100-m breaststroke gold medal with a time of 1 min 6.80 sec after Australia's Leisel Jones had set a world record (1 min 6.37 sec) in the semifinals. (In Melbourne in November, Jones set more new records: 2 min 17.75 sec in the 200 m and 1 min 5.09 sec in the 100 m.) Yana Klochkova of Ukraine repeated her 2000 Olympic triumphs in both individual medleys.

      Amanda Beard of the U.S. swam a brilliant 200-m final, equaling the world record (2 min 22.99 sec). American Jenny Thompson captured another world title—this time in the 100-m butterfly. The 30-year-old second-year medical school student also anchored the U.S.'s winning 4 × 100-m freestyle relay and garnered silver in the 50-m butterfly and the medley relay, in which she swam the butterfly leg. By the end of the meet, Thompson had a record 15 world championship medals. The 100-m and 200-m freestyle gold medals went to Finland's Hanna-Maria Seppälä and Belarus's Alena Popchanka, respectively. Nina Zhivanevskaya of Spain won the 50-m backstroke, with Germany's Antje Buschschulte triumphant in the 100-m backstroke and Britain's Katy Sexton in the 200 m. Poland's Otylia Jedrzejczak, who finished second behind Thompson in the 100-m butterfly, won the 200 m. The U.S. triumphed in both freestyle relays but finished second behind China in the medley relay. World record holder Natalie Coughlin of the U.S. saw limited action after being stricken with the flu.

      World records were set in five short-course events in 2003. American Lindsay Benko broke the four-minute barrier for 400-m freestyle when she clocked 3 min 59.53 sec at a World Cup meet in Berlin. Sweden's Emma Igelström took the 100-m breaststroke mark down twice to 1 min 5.11 sec, but Jones lowered it again in November to 1 min 5.09 sec. Jones also set a new 200-m breaststroke record (2 min 17.75 sec). Rupprath lowered the men's 100-m individual medley standard to 52.58 sec, while Canada's Brian Johns clocked 4 min 2.72 sec for the 400-m individual medley.

      China again dominated the world diving scene in 2003, gaining 12 medals—including 4 gold—at the FINA world championships. In the men's 1-m springboard, China's Xu Xiang and Wang Kenan took gold and silver, respectively. Joona Puhakka was third, earning Finland's first diving medal. Unheralded Aleksandr Dobrosok of Russia pulled off a stunning upset in the 3-m springboard, nipping China's Peng Bo and the favourite, his Russian teammate Dmitry Sautin. (An unprecedented 33 top scores of 10 were awarded by the judges, 13 of them going to Sautin.) The 10-m platform saw another upset, with Alexandre Despatie, 18, becoming Canada's first male world champion diver. In synchronized diving Sautin and Dobrosok breezed to victory in the 3-m springboard, while Australia's Mathew Helm and Robert Newberry came from behind to win the 10-m platform.

      Irina Lashko, who had won gold for Russia in the women's 1-m springboard at the 1998 world championships, repeated her triumph for her adopted country, Australia. China was shut out of the medals. It was a different story, however, on the 3-m springboard, with China's Guo Jingjing and Wu Minxia taking first and third; Russia's Yuliya Pakhalina snatched second place. In an astonishing upset, Canada's Emilie Heymans scored 9s and 10s on her final dive to win the 10-m platform. China swept both women's synchronized diving events as Wu and Guo won the 3-m springboard and Lao Lishi and Li Ting triumphed on the 10-m platform.

Synchronized Swimming.
      Russia (with two gold medals and a silver) and Japan (one gold and two silvers) dominated the synchronized swimming competition at the world championships. France's Virginie Dedieu gained the top solo honours, ahead of Russia's Anastasiya Yermakova. In the duet competition Yermakova and Anastasiya Davydova dethroned defending champions Miya Tachibana and Miho Takeda of Japan. Russia and Japan earned the top two spots in the team competition, respectively, and the U.S. edged Spain for the bronze medal. Japan easily won the first world championship in the dramatic free-routine combination; the U.S. and Spain tied for second.

Phillip Whitten

▪ 2003

      The year 2002 was a busy one in swimming; 12 long-course (50-m pool) and an amazing 22 short-course (25-m pool) world records were broken—some more than once—as swimmers took advantage of several high-profile international meets. In long-course competition the U.S. regained its spot as the world's swimming superpower, firmly displacing Australia from its number one spot after the Americans triumphed at the Pan Pacific (Pan Pac) championships in Yokohama, Japan, August 24–29. Other major meets included the European championships (held July 29–August 4 in Berlin), the Commonwealth Games (July 25–August 4 in Manchester, Eng.), and the Asian Games (in Busan, S.Kor., September 29–October 14). In short-course competition the world championships, held in Moscow on April 3–7, and the Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA) World Cup tour provided the most spectacular fireworks. At year's end swimmers from 11 different countries were newly inscribed in the world record book.

      Two 19-year-olds were anointed by Swimming World magazine as the male and female “Swimmers of the Year.” Australia's Ian Thorpe—the “Thorpedo”—confirmed his status as the world's greatest male swimmer, winning a record six gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, where he lowered his own world record in the 400-m freestyle to 3 min 40.08 sec, and adding five more golds at the Pan Pacs less than a month later.

      American Natalie Coughlin was equally spectacular, winning five gold medals at the U.S. championships (a feat achieved only once before, by Tracy Caulkins in 1978). Coughlin's 59.58-sec world record in the 100-m backstroke made her the first woman to crack the one-minute barrier in the event. At the Pan Pacs Coughlin demonstrated her remarkable versatility by winning four golds, including the 100-m freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly races. She went on to set three short-course world records (100-m backstroke, butterfly, and individual medley) at a World Cup meet in November.

      American Michael Phelps, 17, who had set his first world record in the 200-m butterfly at age 15, broke the world record in the 400-m individual medley (4 min 11.09 sec) at the U.S. nationals. The longest-standing men's record finally fell when Kosuke Kitajima won the 200-m breaststroke in 2 min 9.97 sec at the Asian Games. Kitajima was the first Japanese man to set a world mark in swimming in 30 years.

      At the European championships Franziska van Almsick of Germany lowered her own world record (set in 1994) in the 200-m freestyle to 1 min 56.64 sec. Van Almsick also had a hand in a second world record in Berlin, joining with teammates Kathrin Meissner, Petra Dallmann, and Sandra Völker to break the standard in the 4 × 100-m freestyle relay with a 3-min 36.00-sec effort. Sweden's Anna-Karin Kammerling blazed a 25.57-sec swim in the 50-m butterfly. Otylia Jedrzejczak, with a sparkling time of 2 min 5.78 sec in the 200-m butterfly, became the first Polish woman to set a world record in swimming. On the men's side, Ukraine's Oleg Lisogor erased American Ed Moses's name from the long-course record book with a 27.18-sec swim for the 50-m breaststroke.

      Three other long-course records fell in 2002. At the Commonwealth Games, England's Zoe Baker swam the 50-m breaststroke in 30.57 sec. Eighteen-year-old Aaron Peirsol clocked 1 min 55.15 sec in the 200-m backstroke at the U.S. spring nationals. In the final event of the Pan Pacs, the U.S. men's 4 × 100-m medley relay team (Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Phelps, and Jason Lezak) lit up the scoreboard in 3 min 33.48 sec.

      American Jenny Thompson—the most bemedaled female Olympic swimmer in history—made a comeback in 2002 at age 29 and reestablished herself as one of the world's premier aquatic aces. At the Commonwealth Games, South African Natalie du Toit, 18, finished a distant eighth in the 800-m freestyle but made sporting history by becoming the first amputee to contest a final of a major championship against able-bodied swimmers.

      In short-course competition, Moses and Sweden's Emma Igelström set world records in breaststroke. On the World Cup tour, Moses clocked 57.47 sec for 100 m and an astonishing 2 min 3.17 sec for 200 m, lowering his own standard three times in the longer distance. Igelström knocked off the 50- and 100-m records for women, winding up the holder of the 50-m mark at 29.96 sec, after she had taken turns with Baker and Luo Xuejuan of China in reducing it, and setting a 100-m record of 1 min 5.38 sec.

      Germany's Thomas Rupprath broke the 100-m backstroke short-course record and lowered the 100-m butterfly mark to 50.10 sec, which led to expectations that the first sub-50-second 100-m time might not be far off. Peirsol smashed the 200-m backstroke with his 1-min 51.17-sec performance, while Lisogor took the 50-m breaststroke down to 26.20 sec. Four men's short-course records were set by Australians: Grant Hackett in the 400-m freestyle (3 min 34.58 sec), Matt Welsh in the 50-m backstroke (23.31 sec), Geoff Huegill in the 50-m butterfly (22.74 sec), and the men's 4 × 100-m medley relay (3 min 28.12 sec).

      At the short-course world championships, American Lindsay Benko broke the 200-m freestyle mark with a time of 1 min 54.04 sec, and Ukrainian Olympic champion Yana Klochkova lowered the 400-m individual medley record to 4 min 27.83 sec. Two women's relay marks were set in Moscow; Sweden went 3 min 55.78 sec in the 4  × 100-m medley, and China touched in 7 min 46.30 sec in the 4  ×  200-m freestyle.

      Sachiko Yamada raced to a global mark in the 800-m freestyle in 8 min 14.35 sec at the Japanese national championships, while Slovakia's Martina Moravcova took the 100-m butterfly record down to 56.55 sec at the Berlin World Cup stop, a record she held until November. At the end of the 2001–02 World Cup tour, Moravcova was named the tour's top female performer for the third year in a row. Moses was named the outstanding male swimmer.

      Performance-enhancing drugs continued to plague the sport. Several high-profile athletes tested positive for drugs during the year, while others retired suddenly and without explanation. Among the dozen swimmers receiving suspensions for drug offenses were two of China's top female swimmers—sprinter Shan Ying and Zhou Jiawei. World record holder Wu Yanyan of China retired suddenly on the eve of the Asian Games, while her teammate Luo Nan, ranked second in the world in the 200-m breaststroke, withdrew from the regional games just before they began. In the most shocking development, Costa Rica's Claudia Poll—who had won medals at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games—tested positive for steroids in out-of-competition testing. The four-year suspension she received was under appeal owing to a large number of procedural irregularities on the part of the testing authorities.

      The 13th FINA diving World Cup, held June 25–29 in Seville, Spain, was the premier international diving competition of 2002. Among a record 300 of the world's top competitors from 29 nations gathered in Seville, Chinese divers won 8 of the 10 events contested, the same feat they had accomplished at the 2001 world championships. Only Russian Olympic champion Dmitry Sautin and the Russian synchronized-diving duo of Vera Ilyina and Yuliya Pakhalina deprived China of a complete sweep.

      In the men's events, China's Xu Xiang captured the gold medal in the 1-m springboard. Sautin reprised his Olympic and world championship victories in the 3-m springboard, but his score was only 1.59 points more than China's Peng Bo. Tian Liang led a one-two sweep for China in the 10-m platform, with Hu Jia second. In the men's synchronized events, China's Wang Tianling and Wang Feng handily defeated Australia's Robert Newberry and Steven Barnett for the 3-m springboard title. The 10-m platform synchro crown went to China's Tian and Luo Yutong, ahead of the Cuban duo of Erik Fornaris and José Guerra.

      Guo Jingjing, a three-time Olympian, won the women's 1-m springboard. She earned a second individual gold in the 3-m springboard, well ahead of her teammate Wu Minxia. Lao Lishi breezed to victory in the 10-m platform, with the U.S.'s Kimiko Soldati the surprising silver medalist. Lao teamed with Li Ting to win the 10-m platform synchro event ahead of the Russian duo of Yevgeniya Olshevskaya and Svetlana Timoshinina. Russia eked out its sole women's victory by a minuscule two-thirds of a point in the 3-m springboard synchro event when Ilyina and Pakhalina deprived Guo and Wu of another gold.

      Not surprisingly, China topped the women's team trophy contest with an overwhelming 288 points. Russia was second with 140, and the U.S. finished third with 132.

Synchronized Swimming.
      The most important international synchronized swimming competition of 2002 was the 10th FINA World Cup, held in Zürich, Switz., September 12–15. In her fifth year on the international stage, France's Virginie Dedieu won her first world-level title when she took the solo crown with six perfect scores of 10. Japan's Miya Tachibana, the bronze medalist at the 2001 world championships, moved up to second, and Russia's Anastasiya Davydova finished third.

      Davydova and Anastasiya Yermakova won gold in the duet competition, dethroning Tachibana and Miho Takeda, the 2001 world champions. Paced by Davydova, Russia reconfirmed its global dominance by winning the team competition. Japan was second, and the U.S. nipped Canada for third. In the overall standings, the teams finished in the same order: Russia, Japan, and the U.S.

Phillip Whitten

▪ 2002

      As 2001 dawned—three months after the Sydney, Australia, Olympic Games, with 14 world records and historic performances by Inge de Bruijn and Pieter van den Hoogenband of The Netherlands and Australia's own teenage phenomenon, Ian Thorpe—many assumed that the new year would be anticlimactic. The year of “the Thorpedo,” however, did not follow the traditional script, as Thorpe repeatedly obliterated his already mind-boggling world records. (See Biographies (Thorpe, Ian ).)

      At the Australian national championships in Hobart, Tas., in March, Thorpe and Grant Hackett engaged in a stroke-for-stroke duel for the first 700 m of the 800-m freestyle. Then Thorpe left Hackett in his wake. When he touched the wall, Thorpe had clocked 7 min 41.59 sec, almost four and a half seconds under Kieren Perkins's seven-year-old mark. Hackett also finished well under the old standard. The next night Thorpe regained the 200-m world mark he had lost to van den Hoogenband in Sydney, lopping an extraordinary 0.66 sec off “Hoogie's” world record.

      Meanwhile, at the U.S. national championships, 15-year-old Michael Phelps became the youngest man ever to set a world swimming record when he clocked 1 min 54.92 sec in the 200-m butterfly. Ed Moses took the 100-m breaststroke standard away from Russia's Roman Sludnov, touching in 1 min 00.29 sec. Anthony Robinson lowered the 50-m breaststroke record to 27.49 sec, but it lasted only two days until Moses reduced it again to 27.39 sec.

      At the Russian national championships in June, Sludnov responded to Moses's challenge, first reducing the American's record in the 100-m breaststroke by three-hundredths of a second and then breaking the one-minute barrier with a historic 59.97-sec performance. On April 13 China's 16-year-old Qi Hui took the global mark in the women's 200-m breaststroke to 2 min 22.99 sec; it was the only women's record set in a 50-m pool during the year.

      The Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA) world championships, held on July 16–29 in Fukuoka, Japan, saw eight men's world records broken, four by Thorpe. He lowered his own world record in the 400-m freestyle to 3 min 40.17 sec, beating Hackett, whose 3- min 42.51-sec finish made him the second fastest man in history. In the 800-m freestyle the result was the same, with both men again under the old record. In the 200-m freestyle Thorpe exacted his revenge for his Olympic upset loss to van den Hoogenband, thrashing his Dutch rival and taking the world mark down to 1 min 44.06 sec. Between 1989 and September 2000, the world's best swimmers had shaved only 1.34 sec from the 200-m record, but in 10 months Thorpe had lopped off an additional 1.29 sec.

      The next day Thorpe, Hackett, Michael Klim, and William Kirby cut two seconds off Australia's 4 × 200-m freestyle relay record set in Sydney. Thorpe also swam legs on Australia's gold-medal-winning 4 × 100-m freestyle and medley relay teams. Not surprisingly, at year's end Swimming World magazine named him World Swimmer of the Year.

      There were three other world-record swims in Fukuoka. Hackett took a phenomenal seven seconds off Perkins's 1994 global standard in the 1,500-m freestyle and won by almost an entire length of the 50-m pool. Phelps destroyed the strongest 200-m butterfly field in history, taking his own mark down to 1 min 54.58 sec. Sludnov easily defeated Moses, as well as Olympic champion Domenico Fioravanti of Italy, in the 100-m breaststroke. American Anthony Ervin was the only man besides Thorpe to win more than one individual event, sweeping the 50-m and 100-m freestyle sprints.

      In women's events de Bruijn won the 50-m and 100-m freestyle and the 50-m butterfly. Ukraine's Yana Klochkova, Germany's Hannah Stockbauer, China's Luo Xuejuan, and Australia's Petria Thomas were double winners in individual events, with Thomas adding a third gold medal in the medley relay. In the women's 4 × 200-m freestyle, both the Australians and the Americans were disqualified, leaving the third-place British quartet as the gold medalists.

      An amazing 16 new world records were set in short-course (25-m pool) competition during 2001, with five falling during the FINA World Cup series early in the year. British swimmer Mark Foster blazed the men's 50-m freestyle in 21.13 sec in Paris. Qi Hui lopped almost a full second off the women's 200-m breaststroke record, touching in 2 min 19.25 sec. Although she set no new records, Slovakia's Martina Moravcova was easily the most dominant swimmer on the World Cup circuit, winning 29 of 34 races and taking second in the other five.

      Five additional world records were erased at the Australian short-course championships in Perth, only a week after the world championships had ended. Hackett took nine seconds off Perkins's 800-m freestyle mark and lowered his own 1,500-m freestyle standard with astonishing times of 7 min 25.28 sec and 14 min 10.10 sec, respectively. An hour after setting the 1,500-m record, Hackett teamed with Thorpe, Klim, and Kirby to clock 6 min 56.41 sec in the 4 × 200-m freestyle relay, almost five full seconds under the old mark held by the U.S. Three more global standards fell at the European short-course championships in Antwerp, Belg., in December, while Natalie Coughlin (U.S.) took the 100- and 200-m backstroke marks to a new dimension at the U.S. Open in November.

      China extended its decade-long dominance in diving in 2001. The Chinese team, featuring a mixture of Olympic veterans and fresh-faced newcomers, won 8 of the 10 events contested at the world swimming championships in Fukuoka. Only Russian Olympic champion Dmitry Sautin and Canadian Blythe Hartley could dent the Chinese machine. The Russian won his specialty, the men's 3-m springboard, narrowly defeating China's Wang Tianling and Japan's Ken Terauchi. A “shocked” Hartley eked out a three-point win on the women's 1-m springboard over China's Wu Minxia.

      China's Wang Feng took the men's 1-m title, with teammate Wang Tianling 11 points behind and Russia's Aleksandr Dobroskok third. Tian Liang was an 18-point victor in the 10-m platform as Canada's Alexandre Despatie edged Mathew Helm of Australia for the silver by less than a point. The men's 3-m synchronized diving title fell to Bo Peng and Wang Kenan, who barely beat the Mexican team of Joel Rodríguez and Fernando Platas. The 10-m synchro crown went to China's Tian and Hu Jia, with Platas and Eduardo Rueda second.

      Guo Jingjing and Wu Minxia of China teamed up to take the women's 3-m synchro crown, easily defeating the Russian Olympic gold medalists, Yuliya Pakhalina and Vera Ilyina, and Guo followed up by breezing to a 44-point victory in the women's 3-m springboard, with Olympian Irina Lashko, a Russian-turned-Australian, second. Fourteen-year-old Xu Mian of China won the 10-m platform over her fellow 14-year-old teammate Duan Qing, and Duan and Sang Xue, age 17, added the 10-m synchro title with little difficulty, beating out silver-medalist Russia and bronze-medalist Japan.

Synchronized Swimming.
      The year's focus for synchronized swimming was also in Fukuoka. Olga Brusnikina breezed to the solo gold medal to go with her 2000 Olympic duet title. The 22-year-old Russian scored 99.434 points, well ahead of France's Virginie Dedieu (98.287), who also had finished second, to Olga Sedakova of Russia, at the 1998 world championships. Japan's Miya Tachibana was third (97.870).

      Tachibana and Miho Takeda combined to win the duet title. The victory marked the first time Japan had ever won gold at a world championship level in any aquatic discipline. The Japanese pair, who had finished second at the 2000 Olympics and the 1998 world championships, won with a score of 98.910 points after a near-perfect final performance. Anastasiya Davydova and Anastasiya Yermakova of Russia took the silver medal, and the Canadian duo Claire Carver-Dias and Fanny Letourneau earned the bronze.

      In 2000 Russia had won the Olympic gold in the team competition using an experienced team. In 2001, in a daring move, the Russians fielded a team of juniors who performed to the same music. The result, however, was the same; Russia won with 98.917 points. Japan was second, and Canada finished third.

Phillip Whitten

▪ 2001

      In most Olympic years swimming world records fall in profusion, but never before as in 2000. In part, this was owing to the large number of high-level international meets held during the year. In part, it was owing to the decision two years earlier by the Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA), the sport's international governing body, to sanction world records in the 50-m backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly in both long-course (50-m pool) and short-course (25-m pool) competitions, and in the 100-m individual medley in short course. These events were not included in Olympic competition, and until 2000 the records were considered “soft.” FINA added the 50-m sprints as well as the 800-m freestyle for men and the 1,500-m freestyle for women to the world championship program beginning in 2001. Still, no one foresaw the orgy of record breaking that took place in 2000 as 20 long-course and even more short-course world marks were shattered. A total of 13 of these new world records were established at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

      The most impressive of the new world marks were turned in by Dutch swimmer Inge de Bruijn (see Biographies (De Bruijn, Inge )), who repeatedly lowered global time standards in four events between May and September, triggering the almost inevitable accusations of drug use. De Bruijn began her spree in May at the Speedo Super Grand Prix meet in Sheffield, Eng., setting world records in the 50-m and 100-m freestyle and the 50-m and 100-m butterfly. In the 100-m butterfly, her time of 56.69 sec hacked an unprecedented 1.19 sec off the record set in 1999 by American Jenny Thompson, who had broken Mary T. Meagher's mark of 57.93 sec set 18 years earlier. In Sydney de Bruijn earned Olympic gold medals in the 50-m and 100-m freestyle and the 100-m butterfly, resetting the world records in all three events. At year's end she was selected as the female World Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World magazine.

      Thompson finished the Games with 10 career medals in three Olympiads (including eight golds in relay events), the most ever for a woman Olympic swimmer. American Brooke Bennett enhanced her credentials as the world's distance queen, winning the 400-m freestyle and repeating as Olympic champion in the 800-m; Romania's Diana Mocanu became her nation's first swimming gold medalist as she swept both backstroke events; and Ukraine's Yana Klochkova took both the 200-m and 400-m individual medley. In perhaps the Games' biggest upset, the unheralded Misty Hyman of the U.S. beat Australia's Susie O'Neill in the women's 200-m butterfly in Olympic record time. O'Neill, the world-record holder and defending Olympic champion, had not lost a 200-m butterfly race in six years.

      De Bruijn's teammate at the Eindhoven Swim Club in The Netherlands, Pieter van den Hoogenband, was voted the male World Swimmer of the Year, marking the first time two Dutch swimmers had been accorded the honour. Van den Hoogenband defeated two seemingly invincible world-record holders: Russia's Aleksandr Popov in the 100-m freestyle and Australia's Ian Thorpe (“the Thorpedo”) in the 200-m freestyle. In the process, “Hoogie” lowered the world records in both events.

      Ukrainian-born American Lenny Krayzelburg, the world-record holder in the backstroke, took both dorsal events as expected, then added a third gold leading off the U.S.'s medley relay. Italy's Domenico Fioravanti pulled off major upsets in both breaststroke races. In the 50-m freestyle, Americans Gary Hall, Jr., and Anthony Ervin, teammates at the Phoenix (Ariz.) Swim Club, tied for the gold with van den Hoogenband in third.

      American Neil Walker and Sweden's Therese Alshammar were the outstanding swimmers at the World Short-Course Championships, held in Athens in March. Walker won three individual events, all in world-record time, while Alshammar set global standards in winning the two women's freestyle sprints.

      With record breaking almost commonplace, the drugs issue was never far below the surface in 2000. In July FINA announced that China's Wu Yanyan, the world-record holder in the women's 200-m individual medley, had tested positive for steroids. Two weeks before the Olympics, China cut four swimmers from its team, including sprint star Shan Ying, ostensibly after they returned positive doping tests. Romania's Cezar Badita tested positive for steroids in May and was given a provisional suspension by FINA that allowed him to compete in Sydney, where he made the final in the 400-m individual medley. In October it was revealed that Italy's Massimiliano Rosolino, who won three medals in Sydney, had returned an extraordinarily high reading for human growth hormone—more than 15 times the normal level—in a June test. Rosolino denied any wrongdoing and threatened to sue his detractors.

      Controversy also swirled around the new, high-tech bodysuits introduced by several swimsuit manufacturers amid unconfirmed reports that they reduced water resistance significantly. Although such performance enhancement is strictly prohibited under FINA rules, FINA had approved the suits for competition in October 1999. A statistical study conducted by Joel Stager of the Human Performance Laboratories at Indiana University at Bloomington and published in Swimming Technique indicated that the suits apparently conferred no advantage to swimmers wearing them.

      As expected, China dominated the diving competition at the Olympic Games, winning five of the eight events contested and finishing second in the other three. Veterans Fu Mingxia and Xiong Ni led the way for the Chinese, who finished with five gold and five silver medals. Russia was a distant second with two gold, one silver, and two bronze medals.

      Fu took the women's 3-m springboard by almost 12 points over her training partner, Guo Jingjing, to win her fourth gold medal in her third Olympics. The victory made her the first female diver to win gold at three consecutive Olympics. In perhaps the biggest upset of the competition, American Laura Wilkinson, in fifth place after the semifinals, won the gold in the women's 10-m platform with a magnificent final three dives. China's Li Na, the favourite, finished with the silver, less than two points behind Wilkinson and less than two ahead of Anne Montminy of Canada.

      In the men's 3-m springboard Xiong moved into the lead on the final dive, edging Mexico's Fernando Platas by only 0.30. Russia's Dmitry Sautin, who led until the final dive, was third. Sautin, the defending Olympic champion in the 10-m platform, managed only to win a bronze in that event, finishing well behind China's Tian Liang and Hu Jia.

      Synchronized diving made its initial Olympic appearance in Sydney, with duos from China and Russia splitting the four gold medals. Russia's Vera Ilyina and Yuliya Pakhalina took the women's 3-m synchro, upsetting Fu and Guo. In the 10-m event, China's Sang Xue and Li emerged victorious over Canada's Emilie Heymans and Montminy. Australia won its first Olympic medal in women's diving when Loudy Tourky and Rebecca Gilmore finished third.

      The men's 3-m synchronized gold went to Xiong and Xiao Hailiang, who dominated the competition, easily defeating Sautin and Aleksandr Dobroskok by 35 points. Australia's Robert Newbery and Dean Pullar gave the host nation its second bronze of the competition. Sautin finally struck gold when he teamed up with Igor Lukashin to win the men's 10-m synchronized event, six points ahead of Tian and Hu.

Synchronized Swimming.
      Russia's Olga Brusnikina and Mariya Kiseleva, the 1999 World Cup champions, brought Russia its first Olympic synchronized swimming title at the Sydney Games. The Russian pair received 9 out of a possible 10 perfect scores of 10 to amass a total of 99.580 points and win the duet title. Japan's Miya Tachibana and Miho Takeda finished with the silver, as they had at the 1998 world championships, and Virginie Dedieu and Myriam Lignot of France repeated their world-championship bronze performance. Russia also emerged triumphant in the team competition. Japan was second and Canada third.

      In September, in a surprise decision, FINA amended its rules to allow men to participate in the duet competition beginning with the 2002 World Cup.

Phillip Whitten

▪ 2000

      In 1999, one year before the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, venerable world swimming records fell with amazing regularity as aquatic athletes around the globe tuned up for the quadrennial quest for Olympic fame and glory. There were plenty of high-level meets where swimmers could showcase their talents, including the European championships, Pan American Games, Pan Pacific (Pan Pac) championships, and short-course world championships. Four swimmers captured the lion's share of headlines during the year: Australian Ian Thorpe, South African Penny Heyns, and Americans Lenny Krayzelburg and Jenny Thompson.

      Thorpe, a 16-year-old phenomenon known as “The Thorpedo,” set two individual world marks. The men's 200-m freestyle record had stood at 1 min 46.69 sec since it was set in 1989 by Italy's Giorgio Lamberti. In March 1999 Australia's Grant Hackett unexpectedly cracked the mark with a time of 1 min 46.67 sec. Hackett, known primarily as a 400-m and 1,500-m swimmer, had not even made Australia's world record-setting 4 × 200-m freestyle relay six months earlier at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. Hackett's mark, however, did not last long. Thorpe smashed it twice at the Pan Pacific meet in Sydney in August, lowering it to 1 min 46.00 sec.

      It was Thorpe's performance in the 400-m freestyle at the Pan Pacs, however, that left observers agog. The teen sensation put his huge feet into high gear and destroyed a superb field to win in a mind-boggling 3 min 41.83 sec, obliterating by two full seconds what many believed to be the toughest record in the book: teammate Kieren Perkins's standard from the 1994 world championships. Thorpe took part in a third world mark when he led off Australia's 4 × 200-m freestyle relay that clocked 7 min 08.79 sec, more than three seconds faster than the old mark set in 1998 by another Aussie team. At year's end, Thorpe was named Swimming World magazine's male World Swimmer of the Year for the second year in a row.

      Heyns, a double gold medalist at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Ga., was equally impressive as she broke world records in the women's breaststroke events 11 times over the course of just six weeks, an unprecedented feat. In the 100-m event, she lowered her own mark from Atlanta three times, culminating with a 1 min 06.52 sec time in Sydney—almost two seconds faster than any other woman during the year. She also took the 200-m mark down four times, with the new standard of 2 min 23.64 sec coming in Sydney in August. She then annexed the 50-m mark (30.83 sec) for good measure. Returning to South Africa, she set two more world records in the short-course 50-m and 100-m breaststrokes. Heyns captured Swimming World's female World Swimmer of the Year award for the second time.

      Krayzelburg and Thompson put up record-shattering performances that established them as heavy favourites going into the 2000 Olympics. Krayzelburg, who emigrated to the U.S. from the Soviet Union in 1989 and became a U.S. citizen in 1995, wasted all three world records in the men's backstroke events at the Pan Pacs, posting times of 24.99 sec for the 50-m event, 53.60 sec for the 100-m, and 1 min 55.87 sec for the 200-m. Thompson, who collected six gold medals at the Pan Pacs, broke the oldest record in the books when she swam 57.88 sec for the women's 100-m butterfly. The old mark, 57.93 sec, had been set more than 18 years earlier by the legendary “Madame Butterfly,” Mary T. Meagher.

      At the European championships, held in Istanbul in August, two Dutch swimmers established their credentials for Sydney 2000. Pieter van den Hoogenband won a record-tying six gold medals, losing a seventh only when his winning relay team was disqualified. “Hoogie” won the 50-m, 100-m, and 200-m freestyle events, clocking 48.47 sec for the 100-m event, the fastest time ever recorded at a championship meet, and defeating world-record holder and triple defending champion Aleksandr Popov of Russia in the process. Inge de Bruijn set European records in the 50-m freestyle (24.84 sec) and 100-m butterfly (58.49 sec). Her time in the 50-m event is considered the de facto world record, the fastest ever recorded by a non-Chinese woman.

      Eight world marks were set at the world short-course (25-m pool) championships held in Hong Kong in April. Hackett notched the men's 400-m freestyle with an incredible 3 min 35.01 sec, taking almost five seconds off Thorpe's world mark from 1998 but just out-touching his teammate for the win. Thorpe lowered the 200-m freestyle standard to 1 min 43.28 sec. Eleven other world short-course records were set during the year, including two by Therese Alshammar of Sweden. Her times of 24.09 and 52.80 for the 50-m and 100-m freestyle, respectively, smashed records held by Le Jingyi of China.

      Out of the water, there was progress in the doping wars. Six more top Chinese swimmers were found guilty of using illegal steroids in 1999 and were suspended for two to four years, while three Chinese coaches were also punished. Since 1991, more than 40 Chinese swimmers have been caught. Michelle Smith-de Bruin, Ireland's triple Olympic gold medalist, lost her appeal against the four-year ban from the sport, which had been imposed on her for adulterating a sample of her urine used in a doping test.

      It was more of the same in the world of diving in 1999. Russia's 1996 Olympic champion, Dmitry Sautin, reasserted his claim as the world's best male springboard diver, while China was, far and away, the dominant nation in the sport.

      At the biggest diving event of the year, the 2nd Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA) Grand Prix super final, held in Juárez City, Mex., on September 11–12, Sautin won the men's 3-m springboard competition over Mexico's Fernando Platas. Chinese divers won the other three titles: Tian Liang won the men's 10-m platform, Guo Jingjing took the women's 3-m springboard, and Li Na outdistanced her competitors on the platform.

      Competing at the American FINA Grand Prix in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in May, Sautin took the 3-m springboard, then finished second to China's Huang Qiang in the platform. In the men's synchronized events, the American Dumais brothers—Troy and Justin—won the 3-m event, while the Chinese duo of Huang and Hu Jia easily won the 10-m. Triple Olympic gold medalist Fu Mingxia of China won the women's 3-m event over Russia's Irina Lashko, while her teammates Cai Yuyan and Li Na went one-two in the 10-m. China made it a sweep of the women's contests when Liang Xiaoquiao and Guo teamed to win the 3-m synchro and Cai and Li took the 10-m synchro.

      At the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Man., Mark Ruiz, later named U.S. “Diver of the Year,” edged Platas by less than a point to win the men's 3-m, while Platas was the easy winner in the platform. Canadians won both women's events, with Eryn Bulmer taking the 3-m and Emilie Heymans winning the platform.

Synchronized Swimming.
      Russia reconfirmed its dominance in synchronized swimming at the major meet of the year, the FINA World Cup, held September 10–12 in Seoul, S.Kor. The FINA World Cup assumed a new format in 1999, with each country receiving a score for its two solo entries, two duet entries, and one team entry. Russia easily won the overall competition with 498 points, followed by Japan with 467. The U.S. edged Canada for the bronze, 437–435. Russia's Olga Brushnikina breezed to victory in the solo competition, then teamed with Mariya Kiseleva to win the gold in the duet. At the Pan American Games, Canada edged the U.S. for the gold in both the team and duet competitions.

Phillip Whitten

▪ 1999

      The year 1998 began with a bang—and a bust—as more than 1,300 of the world's best swimmers, representing a record 119 countries, gathered in Perth, Australia, for the Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA) world swimming and diving championships. Michael Klim of Australia and Jenny Thompson of the U.S. were the outstanding swimmers at Perth, each taking home four gold medals. Although no world records were set—a first for this meet—a total of eight world championship records fell. The U.S. edged Australia in the overall medal count 24-20, with the Americans dominating the women's events and the Australians narrowly winning the majority of the men's.

      Klim, who had been named the 1997 male World Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World magazine, picked up where he left off by winning the 200-m freestyle (1 min 47.41 sec) and the 100-m butterfly in world championship record time (52.25 sec), just missing his own world record. He also swam on Australia's winning 4 ¥ 200-m freestyle and 4 ¥ 100-m medley relay teams. The Australian win in the medley relay marked the first time the U.S. had lost that event in international competition. Klim added silver medals in the 100-m freestyle, behind training partner Aleksandr Popov of Russia, and the 400-m freestyle relay and a bronze medal in the 50-m freestyle.

      Thompson recorded individual wins in the 100-m butterfly (setting a world championship record of 58.46 sec) and the 100-m freestyle (54.95 sec). She picked up two additional golds as a member of both the U.S. 4 ¥ 100-m freestyle and 4 ¥ 100-m medley relay teams (which set a U.S. and world championship record of 4 min 1.93 sec) and a silver for the 4 ¥ 200-m freestyle relay.

      American Lenny Krayzelburg, the only man besides Klim to win more than one event, took gold in both the 100-m and 200-m backstroke races and then added a silver in the medley relay. Chen Yan of China was the only woman other than Thompson to win multiple events, as she touched the wall first in both the 400-m freestyle and 400-m individual medley.

      Popov, having recovered from a near-fatal stabbing he sustained after the 1996 Olympics, failed in his attempt to become the first swimmer ever to win the same two events in three successive world championships. He successfully defended one title with a championship record (48.93 sec) in the 100-m freestyle, swimming's glamour event, but the title of "world's fastest man in the water" went to Bill Pilczuk of the U.S., who upset Popov in the 50-m race.

      Even before the meet began, it was mired in a controversy that had developed during the previous October. At their national games in Shanghai, Chen Yan and Wu Yanyan shattered two world records. Subsequently, four swimmers from China who were not ranked among the world's top 150 vaulted to the top of the world rankings, and Chinese swimmers completely dominated almost every women's event. Critics accused the Chinese of using performance-enhancing drugs—a charge that was vigorously denied by Chinese and FINA officials.

      As the Chinese team arrived in Australia in January, customs agents seized bioengineered human growth hormone—reportedly enough for the entire Chinese team for two weeks—in the bag of swimmer Yuan Yuan. Her coach, Zhou Zhewen, said she was delivering the drug to an Australian friend, in itself a contravention of Australia's drug-trafficking laws. Both Yuan and Zhou were sent home in disgrace and later banned from the sport. During the championships four other Chinese swimmers tested positive for a diuretic drug, used solely as a masking agent for steroid use. All four were banned from competition for two years.

      At the FINA congress held before the world championships, a bid to reduce the penalty for steroid use from four years to two was overwhelmingly defeated. The reduction had been introduced by FINA's executive committee with the endorsement of the International Olympic Committee. In a related development, Michelle Smith-de Bruin of Ireland, who won three gold medals at the 1996 Olympic Games amid unconfirmed suspicions of drug use, was found to have adulterated her urine sample taken in an out-of-competition test in January. She was later suspended from competition for four years.

      Swimming events at the Goodwill Games, held in New York City on July 28-August 2, featured a dual-meet format with four men's and four women's teams vying for cash prizes. The U.S. won the women's team title, and the World All-Stars took the men's. South African Penny Heyns, a double Olympic champion in 1996, set a world record for the 50-m breaststroke (30.95 sec), a newly sanctioned event. Australia won 23 of 32 events at the Commonwealth Games, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in September. The Australian men's 800-m freestyle relay team—featuring 15-year-old Ian Thorpe, Daniel Kowalski, Matthew Dunn, and Michael Klim—broke the world record with a time of 7 min 11.86 sec. Meanwhile, Australia's Susie O'Neill continued her three-year unbeaten streak in the 200-m butterfly and won a record eight medals: six gold and two silver.

      Four men's short-course (25-m pool) world records fell during the nine rounds of World Cup competition held during the first three months of the year, and three more short-course world marks fell at the Australian national championships in Perth in September. Eleven new records were set in December, seven by men and four by women.

      At year's end Swimming World named Thorpe and Thompson, respectively, male and female World Swimmer of the Year for 1998.

      Dmitry Sautin of Russia reaffirmed his claim as the world's greatest male diver when he won both the 3-m springboard and the 10-m platform by more than 50 points at the world championships in Perth. Sautin, the 1996 Olympic champion on the platform, brushed aside a challenge from Tian Liang of China to win his signature event, then just as easily dismissed China's Zhou Yilin to win the 3-m. In the 1-m springboard competition China's Yu Zhuocheng, the 1996 Olympic silver medalist at 3-m, edged Troy Dumais of the U.S. by less than two points. Chinese duos won both the men's synchronized events. Yu teamed with Xu Hao to take the 3-m competition over a German team, while Tian and Sun Shuwei beat another German squad to take the 10-m event.

      The women's competition was dominated by the Russians and Ukrainians. Irina Lashko of Russia, a 1996 Olympic silver medalist at 3-m, edged teammate Vera Ilyina to win the 1-m springboard. On the 3-m board Russia's Yuliya Pakhalina was an easy winner over China's Guo Jingjing. Olena Zhupina of Ukraine disposed of China's Cai Yuyan to take the 10-m platform. In women's synchronized diving Lashko and Pakhalina took the gold at 3-m ahead of a Chinese duo, while the Ukrainian team of Zhupina and Svetlana Serbina just edged another Chinese squad to emerge the victors on the platform.

Synchronized Swimming.
      Russia reconfirmed its dominance in synchronized swimming at the world championships in Perth, winning all of the available titles. Olga Sedakova took the solo title ahead of France's Virginie Dedieu, then teamed with Olga Brousnikina to win gold in the duet ahead of a Japanese duo. In team competition the Russians emerged the victors again, followed by Japan and the U.S.

      At the Goodwill Games the Russians again took the team title, as the U.S. passed Japan for the silver. In the duet Brousnikina and Mariya Kiseleva defeated the U.S. team of Bill May and Kristina Lum. It marked the first appearance of a male synchronized swimmer in international competition. In August the U.S. synchronized swimming organization's request to have May compete at the 1999 Pan American Games was denied.


▪ 1998

      It was a turbulent year in the world of swimming in 1997, with record-setting performances in the water and conflict on the pool deck. Drugs were the subject of most of the on-deck strife; doping charges continued to be leveled at Ireland's Michelle Smith-de Bruin, a surprising triple gold medalist at the 1996 Olympic Games. Smith-de Bruin vigorously denied the accusations. The drug controversy flared up again when China's women reemerged at the Chinese national games in Shanghai in October to dominate women's swimming after two years in the doldrums. In December three top Russians and a Brazilian tested positive for steroids and were suspended from competition. Meanwhile, Germany saw the first of more than 100 trials of former East German coaches, trainers, and physicians charged with having systematically administered steroids to their athletes.

      China's performances in women's swimming drew the ire of experts throughout the world as Chinese women set two world records, posted the world's top times in 8 of the 13 individual women's events, and had at least 5 of the world's top 10 times in 7 of those events. Four of the Chinese champions had not previously been ranked among the world's top 150 swimmers in their events. The pattern of Chinese performances had been seen only twice before: in East Germany during the 1970s and '80s and in China in the early '90s. In both cases, drugs were later proved to have been involved. From 1991 to 1996, 23 Chinese swimmers tested positive for anabolic steroids, compared with 3 from the rest of the world.

      Controversy also swirled around two rule changes proposed for enactment in 1998: a 15-m limit in the distance a swimmer could use the underwater dolphin kick at the start and at turns in the butterfly and a reduction in the penalty for testing positive for banned drugs from a four-year suspension to two years.

      In the water, with the world championships in January 1998 looming, the competition was fast and furious. Competing at the short-course (25-m pool) world championships in Göteborg, Swed., in April, Costa Rica's Claudia Poll set world records for the 200-m (1 min 54.17 sec) and 400-m (4 min 0.03 sec) freestyle. She kept up her unbeaten streak by repeating her triumphs at the year's premier long-course (50-m pool) meet, the Pan Pacific championships, held in Fukuoka, Japan, in August. At year's end Poll, a 1996 Olympic champion, was named the female World Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World magazine. It marked the first time a Central or South American swimmer had been granted the coveted award.

      Seven short-course men's records fell during the year. Russia's Denis Pankratov, a double Olympic champion in 1996, lowered all three butterfly marks: 23.35 sec for 50 m, 51.78 sec for 100 m, and 1 min 52.64 sec for 200 m. Surprisingly, he swam poorly at Göteborg and at the European championships in Seville, Spain, failing to win a medal. Only one men's world record was set during the year in long-course competition. In October Australia's Michael Klim lowered the world mark for the 100-m butterfly to 52.15 sec. Klim, who also ranked first in the world in the 200-m freestyle, was named the male World Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World.

      China's Chen Yan and Wu Yanyan were the focus of an international uproar when they obliterated long-course world records. Chen stroked the women's 400-m individual medley in 4 min 34.79 sec, breaking the last of the East German drug-enhanced marks. Wu swam the 200-m individual medley in 2 min 9.72 sec, carving an astonishing two seconds off the record set by Lin Li at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. Neither woman had ranked in the top 50 in the world before their swims, and critics charged that they (and other Chinese) were using drugs. No swimmer outside the world top 50 had ever before set a world record, and swimmers outside the top 50 were not subject to unannounced drug tests. Misty Hyman and Brooke Bennett were the only American women to rank first in the world in 1997, Hyman in the 100-m butterfly (58.72 sec) and Bennett in the 800-m (8 min 26.36 sec) and 1,500-m (16 min 10.24 sec) freestyle.

      At the European championships in Seville, Spain, in August, Aleksandr Popov of Russia demonstrated that he had recovered fully from a near-fatal stabbing in Moscow after the 1996 Olympics by winning his third-straight European titles in both the 50-m (22.30 sec) and 100-m (49.02 sec) freestyle sprints. Hungary's 16-year-old Agnes Kovacs set a European record of 2 min 24.9 sec in the 200-m breaststroke, the third fastest time in history. Smith-de Bruin kept the fires of controversy surrounding her Olympic performance stoked by winning the 200-m freestyle and 400-m individual medley.

      The biggest diving event of the year was the 10th Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur Diving World Cup, held in Mexico City, September 10-14. Once again, Russia's 1996 Olympic champion Dmitry Sautin confirmed his place as the world's best male diver. Sautin won double gold, taking the 3-m springboard by less than a point over Zhou Yilin of China and the 10-m platform ahead of Mexico's Fernando Platas. China's Liu Ben won the 1-m springboard title, besting 17-year-old American Troy Dumais. In synchronized diving China's Gong Ming and Xu Hao took the 3-m title, and teammates Li Chengwei and Huang Quiang won the gold medal in the 10-m event.

      Canadians Eryn Bulmer and Myriam Boileau were surprising winners. Bulmer edged Yulia Pakhalina of Russia by only 0.12 of a point on the 3-m springboard, and Boileau was five points better than China's Wang Rui on the 10-m platform. In the 1-m event Zhang Jing and Tan Shuping of China finished first and second. It was a Chinese sweep for the gold in the synchronized diving events, with Zhang Jing and Shi Lei taking the 3-m competition and Chi Bin and Wang Rui winning the 10-m. China also won the men's, women's, and overall team titles.

      In August Dumais won his fifth and sixth U.S. national titles, taking both the 1-m and 3-m springboard competitions. Justin Dumais, his 19-year-old brother, finished second in the 3-m event, and the Dumaises became the first brother combination in U.S. diving history to finish first and second in the same event at a national championship.

Synchronized Swimming.
      The stately world of synchronized swimming experienced many changes in 1997. For years the U.S. had dominated the sport, but with the retirement of the entire 1996 Olympic gold medal-winning American team, the door was left open for other countries to excel. That was exactly what happened at the World Cup, held in July in Guangzhou (Canton), China, where Russia's Olga Sedakova took the solo crown. The Russians made it a clean sweep by also winning the duet and team titles, followed in both events by Japan and Canada.

      In the U.S. Anna Kozlova notched a "grand slam," taking solo, duet, team, and figures titles at the national championships. The Russian-born Kozlova was due to become a U.S. citizen in 1999. Bill May finished third at nationals, becoming the first male member of a U.S. national team. He would be allowed to compete at the Goodwill Games in 1998.


▪ 1997

      For the first time in an Olympic year, no world records preceding the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga., were set by men in 50-m pools. One world mark was set in the women's 100-m breaststroke when Penelope Heyns of South Africa at Durban, S.Af., on March 4 bettered by 0.23 sec the previous world record of 1 min 7.69 sec set by Samantha Riley of Australia in Rome on Sept. 9, 1994. On July 21 at the Olympics, Heyns in the 100-m breaststroke preliminary further lowered her record to 1 min 7.02 sec.

      The Olympics broke all records in numbers of competitors at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center as 793 swimmers from 120 countries took part; 19 nations won medals, with 10 nations striking gold. In the total medal count the U.S. won 26 (13 gold, 11 silver, and 2 bronze), Russia 8 (4 gold, 2 silver, and 2 bronze), Hungary 6 (3 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronze), Ireland 4 (3 gold and 1 bronze), Australia 12 (2 gold, 4 silver, and 6 bronze), and Germany 12 (5 silver and 7 bronze).

      On July 20 Frederik Deburghgraeve of Belgium gained his country's first swimming Olympic gold, winning the 100-m breaststroke in 1 min 0.65 sec after setting a world record of 1 min 0.60 sec in the morning preliminaries. The previous world record was 1 min 0.95 sec by Karoly Guttler of Hungary on Aug. 3, 1993. On July 24 Denis Pankratov of Russia was timed at 52.27 sec in the 100-m butterfly to better by 0.05 sec his world record of 52.32 sec set in Vienna on Aug. 23, 1995. Pankratov's technique was noteworthy; he took an insurmountable lead of almost a body length after he kicked underwater to the 35-m mark.

      On July 26 the U.S. men's 4 ×100-m medley relay team provided the U.S. with its only world-record victory. The team of Jeff Rouse of Fredericksburg, Va., Jeremy Linn of Harrisburg, Pa., Mark Henderson of Fort Washington, Md., and Gary Hall, Jr., of Paradise Valley, Ariz., was timed at 3 min 34.84 sec to better by 2.09 sec the previous mark, which was set at the 1988 Olympics and tied at the 1992 Games.

      The outstanding U.S. woman swimmer was Amy Van Dyken of Englewood, Colo. She won gold medals in the 50-m freestyle and the 100-m butterfly and on two winning relays. Van Dyken's efforts helped the U.S. women win seven gold medals.

      Michelle Smith (see BIOGRAPHIES (Smith, Michelle )) became the first woman to win an Olympic swimming medal for Ireland. Smith won golds in the 400-m freestyle and the 200-m and 400-m individual medleys and took a bronze in the 200-m butterfly. Athletes winning their countries' first-ever Olympic swimming gold medals were, in addition to Deburghgraeve (Belgium), Claudia Poll of Costa Rica in the 200-m freestyle and Danyon Loader of New Zealand in the 200-m and 400-m freestyle. Krisztina Egerszegi of Hungary became the most decorated female swimmer in Olympic history by earning seven individual medals, of which five were gold, and by winning the 200-m backstroke in three successive Olympic Games starting in 1988. The 1996 victory equaled the feat of Dawn Fraser of Australia, who was the first to win the same event in three successive Games (100-m freestyle, 1956-64).

      Aleksandr Popov of Russia successfully defended his 50-m and 100-m freestyle Olympic titles. On his return to Moscow in September, Popov was stabbed in the abdomen during a street brawl. He recovered, however, and planned to train for the 2000 Olympic Games.

      World records in 25-m pools were achieved on five occasions. On January 7 in Hong Kong, Han Xue of China lowered the record in the 50-m breaststroke with a time of 31.11 sec. On January 11 in Beijing, she further lowered her world mark to 30.98 sec. On February 17 in Bostogne, Belg., Deburghgraeve was timed at 59.02 sec, lowering by 0.05 sec the 100-m breaststroke record set by Philip Rogers of Australia on Aug. 27, 1993. A world record of 23.45 sec for the 50-m butterfly set at Sheffield by Mark Foster of the U.K. on Dec. 15, 1995, was finally ratified by FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur) on March 12. On January 30 Jan Sievinen of Finland was timed at 53.10 sec for the 100-m individual medley, erasing his previous world record of 53.78 sec set in Espoo, Fin., on Nov. 21, 1992. Also during the year Sievinen was timed at 4 min 6.03 sec, lowering by 1.07 sec his previous world record in the 400-m individual medley, set at Malmö, Swed., on Feb. 9, 1992.

      At the Olympics 121 divers from 40 countries, the largest entry ever, competed in four events. For the first time in 84 years, the U.S. failed to win at least one gold medal. The Chinese won 3 of the 4 golds and 5 of the 12 total medals. Their domination was the result of a national diving program that taught fundamentals to young children and then provided expert coaching and proper technique to bring the talented ones to the fore at a very early age. On July 27 in the women's 10-m platform, Fu Mingxia of China (see BIOGRAPHIES (Fu Mingxia )) began her quest to win both the platform and the springboard events, a feat last achieved in 1960. Fu flawlessly executed the most difficult dives from the 10-m platform, scoring 521.58 points to win the gold by more than 42 points over Annika Walter of Germany, the silver medalist. Mary Ellen Clark of the U.S. finished third.

      Four days later Fu completed the sweep, winning the 3-m springboard with 547.68 points, more than 35 points over second-place Irina Lashko of Russia. Annie Pelletier of Canada won the bronze.

      On July 29 in the men's 3-m springboard, Chinese divers won the gold and silver medals. Xiong Ni on his final dive, an inward 3 1/2 somersault tuck, earned marks of 8.5 and 9 to win his first gold medal, scoring 701.46 to overtake Yu Zhuocheng with 690.93. It was the first time China had won an Olympic gold medal in men's springboard. Zhuocheng needed his final dive to squeeze past Mark Lenzi of the U.S. On August 2 Dmitry Sautin became the first Russian to win the men's 10-m platform. Trailing after the semifinal, Sautin hit his final six dives, scoring 692.34 points. His final dive, a back 1 1/2 somersault with 3 1/2 twists in the free position, earned marks of 10 and 9, or 9.5, the highest in the competition. Jan Hempel of Germany won the silver medal with 663.27 points, edging Xiao Hailiang of China with 658.20.

Synchronized Swimming.
      FINA omitted the solo and duet events, substituting team competition for the 1996 Olympics. In 1995 eight countries qualified for the Games. Each team of eight was required to perform the technical routines, which scored 35% of the total points, and a free routine, which scored 65%. In an almost perfect technical routine, the U.S. scored 99.200 points, a margin of almost 2 points over Canada. The U.S. free-routine performance then scored 9 out of a possible 10 perfect marks. The 99.720 points clinched the gold by 1.353 points over second-place Canada. Japan won the bronze with a score of 97.753.


▪ 1996

      In 1995, the year between the 1996 Olympic Games and the 1994 world championships, during which 10 world records were set, no one anticipated that there would be so few new records. Men swimmers could set only three in the 50-m Olympic-size pool, and women set none.

      On June 14 at Canet, France, Denis Pankratov of Russia swam the 200-m butterfly in 1 min 55.22 sec, breaking the record of 1 min 55.69 sec set by Mel Stewart of the U.S. in the 1991 world championships. At the European championships in Vienna on August 23, Pankratov lowered the oldest existing world record, swimming the 100-m butterfly in 52.32 sec to better by 0.52 sec the previous record set by Pablo Morales in 1986. At the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships on August 12 in Atlanta, Ga., the U.S. 4 ×100-m freestyle relay of David Fox, Joseph Hudepohl, Jonathan Olsen, and Gary Hall, Jr., set a world record of 3 min 15.11 sec, shattering by 1.42 sec the previous record set by the U.S. national team in the 1988 Olympic Games.

      The 1995 FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur) Swimming World Cup for 25-m pools was contested in seven countries, beginning in Hong Kong January 3-4 and ending in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on February 19. In the men's competition at Sheffield, England, three world records were set. On February 11 Danyon Loeder of New Zealand lowered the mark in the 400-m freestyle to 3 min 40.46 sec, and Mark Foster of Great Britain swam the 50-m butterfly in 23.55 sec, a record he broke in December with a time of 23.45 sec. On February 12 Jeff Rouse of the U.S. set a record of 24.37 sec in the 50-m backstroke. At Gelsenkirchen on February 18, Mark Warnecke of Germany established a new mark of 27.00 sec in the 50-m breaststroke. Amy Van Dyken of the U.S. set a record of 26.73 sec for the 50-m butterfly at Espoo, Fin., on February 1. This time was bettered by Angela Kennedy of Australia, who swam the distance in 26.56 sec on February 12 at Sheffield. At Gelsenkirchen on February 18, Kennedy also set a 100-m butterfly record of 58.77 sec.

      U.S. swimmers dominated the Pan American Games at Mar del Plata, Arg., March 11-26, winning 22 gold, 15 silver, and 15 bronze medals and setting 10 Pan Am records. Canada followed with six gold, nine silver, and six bronze medals. Eight swimmers won two gold medals: Barbara Bedford, U.S., 100-m and 200-m backstroke (both new Pan Am records); Angel Martino, U.S., 50-m and 100-m freestyle; Trina Jackson, U.S., 800-m freestyle and 200-m butterfly; Joanne Malar, Canada, 200-m and 400-m individual medley; Lisa Flood, Canada, 100-m and 200-m breaststroke; Gustavo Borges, Brazil, 100-m (Pan Am record) and 200-m freestyle; Seth van Neerden, U.S., 100-m and 200-m breaststroke; and Curtis Myden, Canada, 200-m and 400-m individual medley. The U.S. won all six relays.

      A record number of 24 countries competed in the Pan Pacific championships, now open to all countries outside of Europe. In 34 events the U.S. won 42 medals—15 golds, 16 silvers, and 11 bronzes. Australia placed second with 13 golds, 12 silvers, and 9 bronzes. China was barred from the tournament because of the 1994 doping scandal, in which seven Chinese swimmers tested positive in drug tests. Men's double individual championship winners included Gary Hall, Jr., U.S., 50-m and 100-m freestyle; Thomas Dolan, U.S., 200-m and 400-m individual medley; Scott Miller, Australia, 100-m and 200-m butterfly; and Daniel Kowalski, Australia, 400-m and 800-m freestyle. The women's double winners were Brooke Bennett, U.S., 400-m and 1,500-m freestyle, and Susan O'Neill, Australia, 100-m and 200-m butterfly. The U.S. won four of the six relays. Thirteen records were set.

      The European championships in Vienna on August 22-27 were dominated by Germany (10 gold, 7 silver, and 7 bronze medals) and Russia (9 golds and 1 bronze). Franziska van Almsick, a 17-year-old from Germany, won five gold medals and one silver. She won the 400-m freestyle in 4 min 8.37 sec, the fastest time for 1995, and the 100-m freestyle in 55.34 sec. Germany, with van Almsick, won all three women's relays. Women double individual event winners were Kristina Egerszegi, Hungary, 200-m backstroke and 400-m individual medley; Brigitte Becue, Belgium, 100-m and 200-m breaststroke; Mette Jacobsen, Denmark, 100-m backstroke and 100-m butterfly; and Michelle Smith, Ireland, 200-m butterfly and 200-m individual medley. Smith's victories brought Ireland its first titles in the 69-year history of the championships. Pankratov was the outstanding male swimmer. In addition to his world record in the 100-m butterfly, he won the 200-m butterfly and joined teammates Vladimir Selkov, Andrey Korneyev, and Aleksandr Popov to win the 4 ×100 medley, setting a European record of 3 min 38.11 sec. Jani Sievinen of Finland set a European record of 1 min 58.61 sec in the 200-m individual medley. Sievinen also won the 200-m freestyle and 400-m individual medley.

      At the Pan American Games, Canada and Mexico each won two of the six events. Gold medal winners were Mayte Garbey of Cuba with 270.15 points, 0.81 more than Anne Pelletier of Canada in the 1-m springboard; Pelletier, 519.81 in the 3-m springboard; and Anne Montminy, Canada, 492.39 in the 10-m platform. The male gold medalists were Dean Panaro, U.S., 404.82 in the 1-m springboard; Fernando Platas, Mexico, 661.80 in the 3-m springboard; and Platas, 617.52 in the 10-m platform.

      Twenty countries competed in the FINA/Alamo Diving Grand Prix on May 11-14 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Gold medal winners for women included Yuki Motobuchi of Japan, 268.41 in 1-m springboard; Tan Shuping, China, 522.03 in the 3-m springboard; and Svetlana Timoshinina, Russia, 475.20 in the 10-m platform. In men's competition the gold medal winners were David Pilcher, U.S., 386.61 in the 1-m springboard; Xiong Ni, China, 666.69 in the 3-m springboard; and Jan Hempel, Germany, 663.30 in the 10-m platform.

      At the Diving World Cup on August 24-29 in Atlanta, 140 divers from 34 countries competed in the biggest international event leading up to the 1996 Olympics. Gold medal winners included Vera Ilyina, Russia, 287.49 in the 1-m springboard; Fu Mingxia, China, 540.63 in the 3-m springboard; and Chi Bin, China, 512.82 in the 10-m platform. The men's gold medal winners were Yu Zhoucheng, China, 418.50 in the 1-m springboard; Dmitry Sautin, Russia, 684.21 in the 3-m springboard; and Sun Shuwei, China, 681.48 in the 10-m platform. Chinese divers won 10 of the 18 medals. Added to the Diving World Cup for the first time were the synchronized 3-m springboard and synchronized 10-m platform. In this competition two divers attempt to complete their maneuvers in unison and enter the water simultaneously. Women gold medal winners were Guo Jingjing and Deng Ling, China, 278.37 in the 3-m springboard, and Guo Jingjing and Wang Rui, China, 321.42 in the 10-m platform. In men's competition Brian Earley and Kevin McMahon of the U.S. won the 3-m springboard with a score of 327.09, and Xiao Hailang and Tian Liang, China, scored 304.59 to win the 10-m platform.

      At the European championships Russia won four of the six events. In women's competition the gold medal winners were Ilyina in the 1-m and 3-m springboard and Ute Wetzig of Germany in the 10-m platform. The men's gold medalists were Edwin Jongejans, The Netherlands, in the 1-m springboard; Sautin in the 3-m springboard; and Vladimir Timoshinin, Russia, in the 10-m platform.

Synchronized Swimming.
      The U.S. triumphed at the Pan American Games. Becky Dyroen-Lancer won the solo gold medal and, paired with Jill Sudduth, the duet. The U.S. took the team title.

      In the Diving World Cup in Atlanta, 195 synchronized swimmers from 19 countries competed. The U.S. won all three championships. Dyroen-Lancer scored 197.163 and won the solo gold medal and teamed with Sudduth to win the duet with a score of 196.535. With 196.615 the U.S. won the team gold medal ahead of Canada, 195.539, and Russia, 194.899.

      Russia dominated the European championships. Olga Sedakova won the gold medal in solo; Maria Kisselova and Elena Azarova won the gold in duet; and Russia won the gold in the team event ahead of France and Italy. (ALBERT SCHOENFIELD)

▪ 1995

      In 1994, two years before the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga., swimming regained the peak it had achieved in previous Olympic years. Fourteen world records were set in 50-m pools: five by swimmers from China, five by Australians, and one each by competitors from Finland, Germany, Russia, and the United States.

      Three major international competitions took place in 1994: the third Goodwill Games at St. Petersburg, July 23-24; the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, B.C., August 19-24; and the world championships in Rome, September 1-11.

      Two world records were set prior to these international championships. On March 16 in Brisbane, Australia, Rebecca Brown of Australia lowered the 200-m breaststroke record by 0.59 sec to 2 min 24.76 sec. The previous record of 2 min 25.35 sec had been set in 1992 by Anita Nall of the U.S. On June 18 in Monaco, Aleksandr Popov of Russia lowered the six-year-old 100-m freestyle record by 0.21 sec to 48.21 sec. The previous record of 48.42 was held by Matt Biondi of the U.S.

      At the Goodwill Games a malfunctioning filtering system in the newly renovated pool forced the organizers to combine two days of events into one. The cloudy condition of the pool ruled out the possibility of world-class times. Double gold medal winners in the men's individual events were Popov in the 50-m and 100-m freestyle and Martin López Zubero of Spain in the 100-m and 200-m backstroke. Women's double gold medalists were Angel Martino of the U.S. in the 50-m and 100-m freestyle and Ren Xing of China in the 100-m and 200-m breaststroke. Russia won 15 medals in the men's events, of which 6 were gold, 3 silver, and 6 bronze. The U.S. gained seven medals: two gold, three silver, and two bronze. Spain won two golds, Germany three silvers and two bronzes, and Finland one silver and one bronze. In women's events the U.S. led with 10 medals: 4 gold, 4 silver, and 2 bronze. China totaled nine: five gold and four silver; Russia won five: one silver and four bronze; and Costa Rica took one gold and one silver.

      At the Commonwealth Games on August 24 Kieren Perkins of Australia broke two world records in the same race. His time of 14 min 41.66 sec in the 1,500-m freestyle was more than a second faster than his world mark of 14 min 43.48 sec set at the 1992 Olympics. Perkins also broke his 800-m mark during the race, his 7 min 46.00 sec bettering by 0.06 sec the record of 7 min 46.60 sec set in Sydney, Australia, in 1992. Perkins also won the gold in the 200-m and 400-m freestyle and was a member of the winning 4 ×200-m freestyle relay. In addition to the world records, four Commonwealth and 15 championship records were achieved. In the 32 events Australia amassed 24 gold medals, 16 silvers, and 10 bronzes. Great Britain finished second with six golds, three silvers, and eight bronzes.

      At the world championships 602 swimmers from 97 countries competed. China won 12 of 32 events, all by women, as compared with four in the 1991 world championships in Perth. Chinese women also added six silvers and one bronze for a total of 19 medals. The U.S., with 4 golds, compared with 13 won in Perth, added 10 silvers and 7 bronzes. Russia placed third with 11 medals, of which 4 were gold, 5 silver, and 2 bronze. Sixteen countries won at least one medal. The U.S. won the overall championship with 769 points, 381 from the men's events. Australia was second with 544, followed by Germany with 480 and China with 444, of which 440 were scored by women.

      The outstanding achievement of the Chinese women was marred by widespread accusations that their performances were enhanced by the use of illegal drugs. Both the Chinese officials and swimmers denied the charges, and the drug tests all were negative. Later in September, however, Yang Aihua, winner of the 400-m freestyle at the world championships, tested positive for the muscle-building hormone testosterone and in November was suspended from all competition through Sept. 19, 1996. Lu Bin, winner of three gold medals and two silver medals at the world championships, also tested positive, along with six other swimmers.

      Ten world records and 19 championship records were produced in seven days of swimming. In 16 events China's women set five of the world records and eight of the championship records. Le Jingyi's time of 24.51 sec lowered by 0.28 sec the 50-m freestyle world record set by Yang Wenyi in the 1992 Olympics. In the 100-m freestyle Le's 54.01 sec shattered by 0.47 sec the 1992 record set by Jenny Thompson at Indianapolis, Ind. In the 4 ×100-m freestyle relay, the quartet of Le Jingyi, Shan Ying, Le Ying, and Lu Bin was timed in 3 min 37.91 sec, taking 1.55 sec off the record set by the U.S. in the 1992 Olympics. In the 4 × 100-m medley relay, He Cihong and teammates Dai Guohong, Liu Limin, and Le Jingyi combined for the world record of 4 min 1.67 sec, erasing 0.87 sec off the mark set by U.S. in 1992. On the leadoff backstroke, He was timed in 1 min 0.16 sec, clipping 0.15 sec from the 1991 mark of Kristina Egerszegi of Hungary. In the 200-m freestyle Franziska van Almsick of Germany set a world record of 1 min 56.78 sec, taking 0.77 sec from the mark set by Heike Friedrich of East Germany in 1986. Samantha Riley of Australia won the 100-m breaststroke in 1 min. 7.69 sec, shaving 0.22 sec off the record set by Silke Horner of East Germany in 1987. Lu won three gold and two silver medals, and Le Jingyi won four gold medals, two silvers, and one bronze and earned the Politika Prize as the tournament's outstanding swimmer.

      Three world records and seven championship records were set by men. Perkins was timed in 3 min 43.80 sec in the 400-m freestyle, lowering by 1.20 sec the previous mark set by Yevgeny Sadovy of the Unified Team in the 1992 Olympics. Perkins also won the 1,500-m freestyle. In the 200-m individual medley, Jani Sievinen of Finland in a time of 1 min 58.16 sec erased by 1.20 sec the world record set by Tamas Darnyi of Hungary in the 1991 world championships. Tom Dolan of Arlington, Va., won the 400-m individual medley in 4 min 12.30 sec. Double gold medal winners included Popov in the 50-m and 100-m freestyle, Norbert Rozsa of Hungary in the 100-m and 200-m breaststroke, and Perkins. The distribution of titles had never been so widespread; victors hailed from eight countries.

      On June 5-7 at the 1994 China Open in Wuhan (Wu-han), divers achieved scores that broke previous records. In the women's platform China's Chi Bin scored 516.51 points to surpass the 508.65 scored by the Soviet Union's Yelena Miroshina at the 1987 International Springertag in Rostock, East Germany. China's Sun Shuwei, the 1992 Olympic platform gold medalist, won the men's 10-m platform competition with a score of 718.35, breaking the mark of 717.41 set by Greg Louganis of the U.S. in 1987. Other winners were Tan Shuping in the women's 1-m and 3-m springboard and Dmitry Sautin of Russia in the men's 1-m and 3-m springboard.

      Russia and China dominated the Goodwill Games. Chen Lixia of China won the 1-m springboard, Vera Ilyina of Russia took the 3-m springboard, and Min Xiong of China won the 10-m platform. Chen Sheng of China won the men's 1-m springboard, Sautin the 3-m springboard, and Vladimir Timoshinin of Russia the 10-m platform.

      In the world championships a record 138 divers from 36 countries competed in the diving events. Evan Stewart of Zimbabwe became the first African ever to win a diving event, triumphing in the 1-m springboard. Yu Zhuocheng of China led almost from the start and prevailed in the 3-m springboard with 655.44 points. In the 10-m platform Sautin scored 84.48 points on his final dive to win by more than four points, overtaking Sun 634.71 to 630.03. In the women's events China swept all three championships. Chen Lixia won the 1-m springboard with 279.30 points and Tan took the gold medal in the 3-m springboard with 548.49 points. The defending titlist and Olympic champion Fu Mingxia, needing to score more than 62 points on her final dive, produced a stunning inward 3 1/2 somersault for 75.48 to snatch the gold in the platform from Chi 434.04 to 420.24.

Synchronized Swimming.
      In the Goodwill Games Olga Sedakova of Russia won the solo event gold medal over Becky Dyroen-Lancer of the U.S. 197.200 to 197.020. In the duet Dyroen-Lancer and Jill Sudduth of the U.S. scored 197.880 for the gold.

      In the world championships 215 swimmers from 31 countries competed in three events. Dyroen-Lancer won the gold medal in solo, scoring 191.040 points. Dyroen-Lancer and Sudduth triumphed in the duet with 187.009. The team title was won by the U.S., with Canada second and Japan third. (ALBERT SCHOENFIELD)

▪ 1994

      After the 1992 Olympic Games, during which nine world records in swimming were set, a letdown was expected in 1993, but no one anticipated that there would be just one new mark in a 50-m, Olympic-size pool, the men's 100-m breaststroke. On August 3, Karoly Guttler of Hungary swam the distance in 1 min 0.95 sec, breaking the record of 1 min 1.29 sec set by Norbert Rozsa of Hungary in the 1991 world championships. Most of the U.S. and European Olympic medalists retired or took a year's break from hard training. Forty-nine countries participated in the World University Games at Buffalo, N.Y., held in July. The U.S. dominated with 28 medals, including 14 gold, but 15 other countries won at least one medal.

      The 1993 FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur) Swimming World Cup for 25-m pools was contested in a number of countries, beginning in Shanghai on January 5-6 and ending in Milan on February 21. In Shanghai swimmers from 10 countries competed, and in Beijing (Peking) the countries represented increased to 13. Franziska van Almsick, a 14-year-old from Berlin, set three women's world records, twice in the 100-m freestyle; the first was on January 6 at Shanghai with a time of 53.46 sec, and the second on January 10 at Beijing, 53.33 sec. The third world record was achieved January 9 in Beijing, where van Almsick won the 200-m freestyle in 1 min 55.84 sec.

      In men's 25-m pool competition, Jani Sievinen of Finland lowered the world record in the 200-m individual medley on three occasions, achieving his final mark of 1 min 55.59 sec in the World Cup tournament at Malmö, Sweden, on February 10. A day earlier Sievinen had set a world record of 4 min 7.10 sec for the 400-m individual medley. On February 6 in Paris, Danyon Loader of New Zealand set a world record of 1 min 54.58 sec in the 200-m butterfly. He lowered the mark to 1 min 54.50 sec on February 9 at Malmö and then to 1 min 54.21 sec at Gelsenkirchen, Germany. At Sheffield, England, on February 17, Mark Foster of the U.K. established a 50-m freestyle world record of 21.60 sec. At Sheffield on April 12, Jeff Rouse of Fredricksburg, Va., set a new mark of 51.43 sec in the 100-m backstroke. On July 2 at the Brazilian championships in Santos, Gustavo Borges lowered the 100-m freestyle mark to 47.94 sec, and on July 7 the Brazilian quartet of Borges, Fernando Scherer, José Carlos Souza, and Teofilo Ferreira established a world record of 3 min 13.97 sec for the 4 ×100-m freestyle relay. On July 14 at Auckland, N.Z., Kieren Perkins of Australia set the first of his two world records. In the 1,500-m freestyle he bettered his previous mark by 5.88 sec from 14 min 32.40 sec to 14 min 26.52 sec, and on July 25 at Sydney, Australia, he set a world record of 7 min 34.90 sec in the 800-m freestyle. At the Australian winter championships in Melbourne in August, Philip Rogers set new marks of 59.07 sec in the 100-m breaststroke and 2 min 7.80 sec in the 200-m breaststroke.

      At the inaugural short-course (25-m) world championships held in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on December 2-5, only two new men's world records were set. The Brazilian team bettered their earlier record in the 4 ×100-m freestyle relay with a new time of 3 min 12.11 sec, and the U.S. set a new world record of 3 min 32.57 sec in the 4 × 100-m medley relay. The women, however, shattered the world record in 11 of the 16 races held. Nine of those 11 records were set by the Chinese, including three new marks in team relays: 3 min 35.97 sec in the 4 ×100-m freestyle, 7 min 52.45 sec in the 4 × 200-m freestyle, and 3 min 57.73 sec in the 4 × 100-m medley. Individual Chinese swimmers took an additional seven races, six in world-record times. Li Jingyi won the 50-m freestyle in 24.23 sec and broke van Almsick's record in the 100-m freestyle with a time of 53.01 sec. He Cihong set a new mark of 2 min 6.09 sec in the 200-m backstroke. Dai Guohong swept to victory with world-record times in three events: 1 min 6.58 sec in the 100-m breaststroke, 2 min 21.99 sec in the 200-m breaststroke, and 4 min 29.00 sec in the 400-m individual medley. Two U.S. women broke through the Chinese domination of world records, however. Angel Martino took the 100-m backstroke in a record 58.50 sec, and Allison Wagner set a new mark of 2 min 7.79 sec in the 200-m individual medley.

      More than 1,000 swimmers from 36 countries competed in the 21st European swimming championships at Sheffield, England. Ten new countries—Belarus, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine—competed for the first time. Van Almsick won six gold medals and one silver. Her victories were in the 50-m, 100-m, and 200-m freestyle and as a member of three winning relays; she gained her silver in the 100-m butterfly. In winning the 100-m freestyle, van Almsick set a European record of 54.57 sec, 0.16 sec below the mark of 54.73 sec set by Kristin Otto in the world championships of 1986. Krisztina Egerszegi of Hungary, a triple gold medal winner at the 1992 Olympic Games, became the first swimmer ever to earn four titles in individual events in a single European championship. She won the 100-m backstroke in 1 min 0.83 sec, the 200-m backstroke in 2 min 9.12 sec, the 200-m butterfly in 2 min 10.71 sec, and the 400-m individual medley in 4 min 39.55 sec.

      In the men's events, Olympic champion Aleksandr Popov of Russia won the 50-m freestyle in 22.27 sec, the 100-m freestyle in 49.15 sec, and the 4 ×100-m freestyle and 4 ×100-m medley relays to gain a total of four gold medals. Antti Kasvio of Finland won the 200-m freestyle in 1 min 47.11 sec and the 400-m freestyle in 3 min 47.81 sec. Tamas Darnyi of Hungary, a double world record holder, survived the toughest test of his eight-year unbeaten streak in the 400-m individual medley at major meets. Pressed by Sievinen, Darnyi won the event in 4 min 15.24 sec. Sievinen won the 200-m individual medley in 1 min 59.50 sec, a tournament record. Darnyi did not compete in the event. Russia won all three men's relays, and Germany won all three women's relays. A total of 12 tournament records were set in the 32 events. Germany collected 21 medals, including 11 gold; Russia finished second with 19, including 7 gold. Twenty-one nations won at least one medal.

      Eighty divers from 18 countries competed in the 24th International at Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on May 6-9. In the women's events, Simona Koch of Germany won the 1-m springboard; Irina Lashko of Russia took the 3-m springboard; and Svetlana Khokhlova of Russia won the 10-m platform. Winners in the men's competition were Wang Yijie of China in the 1-m springboard, Lan Wei of China in the 3-m springboard, and Vladimir Timoshinin of Russia in the 10-m platform.

      Divers from China swept all six events as 20 countries competed in the eighth FINA World Diving Cup at Beijing from May 28 to June 1. Tan Shuping won both the women's 1-m and 3-m springboard events, and Chi Bin took the women's 10-m platform. Winners of the men's events were Lan in the 1-m springboard, Yu Zhuocheng in the 3-m springboard, and Xiong Ni in the 10-m platform.

      German and Russian divers dominated the 21st European championships at Sheffield, England, from July 30 to August 8. Koch won the 1-m springboard; Brita Baldus of Germany dominated the 3-m springboard; and Khokhlova won the 10-m platform. In the men's 1-m springboard, Peter Boehler of Germany was the winner. Jan Hempel of Germany took the men's 3-m springboard, and Dmitry Sautin of Russia won the 10-m platform.

Synchronized Swimming.
      Ten countries competed at the sixth Synchronized Swimming World Cup, contested in Lausanne, Switz., on July 7-10. Becky Dyroen-Lancer of the U.S. won the solo event and teamed with Jill Sudduth to take the duet. The U.S. won the team championship, defeating Canada 191.757 to 190.456.

      In December, Sylvie Frechette of Canada was belatedly awarded a gold medal for individual synchronized swim for the 1992 Olympic Games. Frechette was originally denied the gold because a judge was not allowed to correct a mis-typed score. (ALBERT SCHOENFIELD)

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      in zoology, self-propulsion of an animal through water. See aquatic locomotion.


      in recreation and sports, the propulsion of the body through water by combined arm and leg motions and the natural flotation of the body. Swimming as an exercise is popular as an all-around body developer and is particularly useful in therapy and as exercise for physically handicapped persons. It is also taught for lifesaving purposes. For activities that involve swimming, see also diving, lifesaving, surfing, synchronized swimming, underwater diving, and water polo.

      Archaeological and other evidence shows swimming to have been practiced as early as 2500 BC in Egypt and thereafter in Assyrian, Greek, and Roman civilizations. In Greece (ancient Greek civilization) and Rome (ancient Rome) swimming was a part of martial training and was, with the alphabet, also part of elementary education for males. In the Orient swimming dates back at least to the 1st century BC, there being some evidence of swimming races then in Japan. By the 17th century an imperial edict had made the teaching of swimming compulsory in the schools. Organized swimming events were held in the 19th century before Japan was opened to the Western world. Among the preliterate maritime peoples of the Pacific, swimming was evidently learned by children about the time they walked, or even before. Among the ancient Greeks there is note of occasional races, and a famous boxer swam as part of his training. The Romans built swimming pools, distinct from their baths. In the 1st century BC the Roman Gaius Maecenas (Maecenas, Gaius) is said to have built the first heated swimming pool.

      The lack of swimming in Europe during the Middle Ages is explained by some authorities as having been caused by a fear that swimming spread infection and caused epidemics. There is some evidence of swimming at seashore resorts of Great Britain (United Kingdom) in the late 17th century, evidently in conjunction with water therapy. Not until the 19th century, however, did the popularity of swimming as both recreation and sport begin in earnest. When the first swimming organization was formed there in 1837, London had six indoor pools with diving boards. The first swimming championship was a 440-yard (400-metre) race, held in Australia in 1846 and annually thereafter. The Metropolitan Swimming Clubs of London, founded in 1869, ultimately became the Amateur Swimming Association, the governing body of British amateur swimming. National swimming federations were formed in several European countries from 1882 to 1889. In the United States swimming was first nationally organized as a sport by the Amateur Athletic Union (Amateur Athletic Union of the United States) (AAU) on its founding in 1888. The Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA) was founded in 1909.

Competitive swimming
 Internationally, competitive swimming came into prominence with its inclusion in the modern Olympic Games from their inception in 1896. Olympic events were originally only for men, but women's events were added in 1912. Before the formation of FINA, the Games included some unusual events. In 1900, for instance, when the Games' swimming events were held on the Seine River in France, a 200-metre obstacle race involved climbing over a pole and a line of boats and swimming under them. Such oddities disappeared after FINA took charge. Under FINA regulations, for both Olympic and other world competition, race lengths came increasingly to be measured in metres, and in 1969 world records for yard-measured races were abolished. The kinds of strokes allowed were reduced to freestyle (crawl), backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. All four strokes were used in individual medley races. Many nations have at one time or another dominated Olympic and world competition, including Hungary, Denmark, Australia, Germany, France, Great Britain, Canada, Japan, and the United States.

Instruction and training
      The earliest instruction programs were in Great Britain in the 19th century, both for sport and for lifesaving; these programs were copied in the rest of Europe. In the United States swimming instruction for lifesaving purposes began under the auspices of the American Red Cross in 1916. Instructional work done by the various branches of the armed forces during both World Wars I and II was very effective in promoting swimming. Courses taught by community organizations and schools, extending ultimately to very young infants, became common.

      The early practice of simply swimming as much as possible at every workout was replaced by interval training and repeat training by the late 1950s. Interval training consists of a series of swims of the same distance with controlled rest periods. In slow interval training, used primarily to develop endurance, the rest period is always shorter than the time taken to swim the prescribed distance. Fast interval training, used primarily to develop speed, permits rest periods long enough to allow almost complete recovery of the heart and breathing rate.

      The increased emphasis on international competition led to the growing availability of 50-metre (164-foot) pools. Other adjuncts that improved both training and performance included wave-killing gutters for pools, racing lane markers that also reduce turbulence, cameras for underwater study of strokes, large clocks visible to swimmers, and electrically operated touch and timing devices. Since 1972 all world records have been expressed in hundredths of a second.

 The earliest strokes to be used were the sidestroke and the breaststroke. The sidestroke was originally used with both arms submerged. This practice was modified toward the end of the 19th century by bringing forward first one arm above the water, then the other, and then each in turn. The sidestroke was supplanted in competitive swimming by the crawl (see below) but is still used in lifesaving and recreational swimming. The body stays on its side and the arms propel alternately. The leg motion used in sidestroke is called the scissors kick, in which the legs open slowly, under leg backward, upper leg forward, both knees slightly bent, and toes pointed. The scissoring action of the legs coming smartly together after opening creates the forward propulsion of the kick.

 The breaststroke is believed to be the oldest of strokes and is much used in lifesaving and recreational swimming as well as in competitive swimming. The stroke is especially effective in rough water. As early as the end of the 17th century, the stroke was described as consisting of a wide pull of the arms combined with a symmetrical action of the legs and simulating the movement of a swimming frog, hence the usual term frog kick. The stroke is performed lying face down in the water, the arms always remaining underwater. The early breaststroke featured a momentary glide at the completion of the frog kick. Later the competitive breaststroke eliminated the glide. In the old breaststroke, breath was taken in at the beginning of the arm stroke, but in the later style, breath was taken in near the end of the arm pull.

 The butterfly stroke, used only in competition, differs from the breaststroke in arm action. In the butterfly the arms are brought forward above the water. The stroke was brought to the attention of U.S. officials in 1933 during a race involving Henry Myers, who used the stroke. He insisted that his stroke conformed to the rules of breaststroke as then defined. After a period of controversy, the butterfly was recognized as a distinct competitive stroke in 1953. The frog kick originally used was abandoned for a fishtail (dolphin) kick, depending only on up-and-down movement of the legs. Later swimmers used two dolphin kicks to one arm pull. Breathing is done in sprint competition by raising the head every second or third stroke.

 The backstroke began to develop early in the 20th century. In this stroke, the swimmer's body position is supine, the body being held as flat and streamlined as possible. The arms reach alternately above the head and enter the water directly in line with the shoulders, palm outward with the little finger entering the water first. The arm is pulled back to the thigh. There is a slight body roll. The kick was originally the frog kick, but it subsequently involved up-and-down leg movements as in the crawl. The backstroke is a competition stroke, but it is also used in recreational swimming as a rest from other strokes, frequently with minimum arm motion and only enough kick to maintain forward motion.

 The crawl, the stroke used in competitive freestyle swimming, has become the fastest of all strokes. It is also the almost unanimous choice of stroke for covering any considerable distance. The stroke was in use in the Pacific at the end of the 19th century and was taken up by the Australian swimmer Henry Wickham about 1893. The brothers Syd and Charles Cavill of Australia popularized the stroke in Europe in 1902 and in the United States in 1903. The crawl was like the old sidestroke in its arm action, but it had a fluttering up-and-down leg action performed twice for each arm stroke. Early American imitators added an extra pair of leg actions, and later as many as six kicks were used. The kicks also varied in kind. In the crawl, the body lies prone, flat on the surface of the water, with the legs kept slightly under the water. The arms move alternately, timed so that one will start pulling just before the other has finished its pull, thus making propulsion continuous. Breathing is done by turning the head to either side during recovery of the arm from that side. Since 1896 the crawl has been used in more races than any other stroke.

 In competition there are freestyle races at distances of 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1,500 metres; backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly races at 100 metres and 200 metres; individual medley races at 200 metres and 400 metres; the freestyle relays, 4 × 100 metres and 4 × 200 metres; and the medley relay, 4 × 100 metres.

 Starts are all (with the exception of the backstroke) from a standing or forward-leaning position, the object being to get the longest possible glide before the stroke begins. All races are in multiples of the pool length, so that the touch before turning, which is varied for different stroke races, is important for success. In relay races, a swimmer finishes his leg of the relay by touching the starting edge of the pool, upon which his next teammate dives into the water to begin his leg.

Distance swimming
      Any swimming competition longer than 1,500 metres (1,640 yards) is considered distance swimming, an activity not governed by FINA. Most long-distance races are in the 24- to 59-km (15- to 37-mile) range, though some, such as the Lake George marathon (67 km [41.5 miles]) and the Lake Michigan Endurance Swim (80 km [50 miles]), both in the United States, have been longer. In 1954 a group of amateur and professional marathon swimmers formed the Fédération Internationale de Natation Longue Distance; and in 1963, after dissension between amateur and professional swimmers, the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation was founded. Throughout the 1960s the latter group sanctioned about eight professional marathons annually, the countries most frequently involved being Canada, Egypt, Italy, Argentina, and the United States. The British Long Distance Swimming Association has sponsored races on inland waters of from 16.5 to 35.4 km (10.25 to 22 miles).

      Distance swimming never achieved the status of competitive swimming as regulated by FINA except for English Channel swimming, which captured the popular imagination in the second half of the 19th century. Captain Matthew Webb of Great Britain was the first to make the crossing from Dover, England, to Calais, France, in 1875; his time was 21 hours 45 minutes. The map distance was 17.75 nautical miles (33 km), but the actual distance of a Channel Swim is frequently lengthened by tides and winds. No one matched Webb's feat until 1911, when another Englishman, T.W. Burgess, made the crossing. In 1926 the American swimmer Gertrude Ederle (Ederle, Gertrude) became the first woman to swim the Channel, crossing from Cap Gris-Nez, France, to Dover in a record-setting time for man or woman of 14 hours 39 minutes. Since then, except for the World War II years, crossing swims have been made annually. Several swimmers have made 10 or more crossings. The Channel Swimming Association was formed in 1927 to control swims and verify times. By 1978 the record had been lowered to 7 hours 40 minutes by Penny Dean of the United States, and by the 1990s successful crossings had been made by swimmers as young as 12 and as old as 65. Various swimmers had crossed both ways with only brief rests between the swims. Open-water distance swimming events of 10 km (for men and women) were added to the Olympic program in 2008.

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Universalium. 2010.

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