Beyond The Lane Lines: VDB Baby, Naoko’s New Role & Brighouse Recognition

Get your news fix on happenings outside the pool with the latest ‘Beyond the Lane Lines.’  With each edition, we collect personal stories, little known facts and general items of interest from around the world. Read on and learn something new this week.

#1 Van der Burgh to be a Dad

Retired Olympic champion Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa announced that he and wife Nefeli Valakelis are expecting their first child.

Married since July 2018, the couple revealed via social media that their baby is due in September, the same month as fellow breaststroker Adam Peaty of Great Britain’s first child is due.

Van der Burgh took the 100m breast gold at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and followed that up with a silver in the same event 4 years later in Rio. He retired after claiming the 2018 Short Course World Championships title.

Van der Burgh was the first elite swimmer to reveal his positive coronavirus diagnosis. He has since recovered, but in March of this year the 32-year-old stated it was ‘by far the worst virus I have ever experienced.’

#2 2012 Olympic Games Coin Fetches High Price

Found on a beach by a metal detector hobbyist, a rare Olympic swimming 50p coin commemorating the 2012 Olympic Games in London was found in the UK.

The coin was one of 29 50p designs released into circulation in 2010 and 2011 in the lead up to the 2012 Games. However, this particular coin representing the sport of swimming holds extra significance. Per The Sun, the found coin features wavy lines across the swimmer’s face, a trait only 600 of these coins shared before the design was amended to show the athlete’s full face.

The coin was listed on eBay UK’s site for £10 with the seller caveat, “I don’t understand much about coins, but I believe this coin is genuine. Do not bid if you don’t feel confident.” After 68 bids, the swimming coin ultimately sold for £10,101 (~$12, 812 USD).

#3 Retired Imoto Naoko Heads Up UNICEF Education Team

Retired Olympian Imoto Naoko of Japan helped propel her nation’s women’s 4x200m freestyle relay to a 4th place finish at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. She hung up her goggles soon after and pursued a degree in policy management from Keiō University.

Flash forward many years and the now-44-year-old heads up the education team at UNICEF’s office in Athens, Greece. The former swimmer oversees a small staff of Greek employees and coordinates with several non-governmental agencies.

However, Naoko credits her swimming experience as fueling her pursuit of helping her fellow human.

According to Nippon, after she started competing in tournaments overseas at the age of 14, Imoto says she would often notice swimmers from other countries wearing threadbare uniforms, or even T-shirts in lieu of official team attire.

“Sometimes I would ask about a swimmer who posted a very slow time and learn that the person was from a place that had almost no swimming pools where they could train,” she said. “I was struck by the difference in environments and by the unfairness of the world.”

The experience helped Imoto choose the path she wanted to take after her swimming career was over, that of a humanitarian aid worker.

“When you think about it, as a swimmer, I aimed to be the best in the world,” she tells me. “In this career, I’m still only halfway to my goal. I want to address the inequities that stop children from going to school. I am working my hardest to make it to the top of this game as well.”

#4 Brighouse Swimming Club Earns Prestigious Honor

Brighouse Swimming Club, located in West Yorkshire, England, was honored with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognize outstanding work done in their own communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of The Queen’s coronation. It is the MBE for volunteer groups.

Brighouse Swimming Club is run entirely by volunteers and provides training for both beginner and experience competitive swimmers. The club’s aim is to ‘promote and support important life skills such as teamwork, leadership and friendship through its role model volunteers.

Representatives of Brighouse Swimming Club will receive the award from Kate Moreton-Deakin, Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire later this summer. Furthermore, two volunteers from the Club will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2021, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.

#5 2022 Asian Games TV Launched

Hangzhou, China, the city which hosted the 2018 FINA Short Course Swimming Championships, is set to host the 2022 edition of the quadrennial Asian Games.

As part of the Games’ production, this week the 2022 Hangzhou organizing committee (HAGOC) has created an official television media platform entitled the Asian Games Channel. Jointly founded with the Hangzhou Culture Radio Television Group, the HAGOC says, “We hope the channel will record our preparations for the Asian Games, promoting the brand of the Hangzhou Asian Games and the image of the host city.”

As the official television information platform of the HAGOC, the Asian Games Channel will also help spread culture and knowledge of Zhejiang province and Hangzhou.

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Didn’t VDB later reveal that he used an illegal underwater kick in his breast stroke pull out during his gold medal performance?

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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