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 athletes around the world in their non-aquatic habitats, helping us get to know them for more than just an event ranking or time on a board. Read on and learn something new this week.
#1 – Aussie World Juniors Get Lego’d Up
The Australians headed for World Junior Championships took part in a unique team-building experience in Canberra this week as part of the National Youth Camp. The squad partook in a special Lego-building session held by Ben Craig from The Brick Builder, who uses Lego as a form of communication and team-building.
“I think most people when they see Lego bricks start to smile, it’s a creative way to communicate and engage – it’s also out of the norm. It’s usually child’s play but to bring it into a team context gives it a bit of wow factor,” Craig said.
“We’re using Lego as a way to communicate their individual strengths, personalities and ideals, and then bringing that into a team context to discuss team values and strengths.
“Rather than using whiteboards or pens or one person talking in a meeting, this way everyone can build their own little piece and build a collective structure at the end,” Craig added.
National Youth Head Coach Glenn Beringen also took part in the challenge, saying, “We thought this would be a good opportunity to do something different. It’s a fun activity based around working together as individuals and as a team.
“I think it’s another way for individuals to reveal a bit about themselves through the things they make, but also they’re going to have to contribute as a whole to the group for us to be successful – both of those things are really important as a team.”
#2 – Tokyo 2020 Reaches Metal Collection Goal
As we reported back in 2016, Tokyo 2020 organizers’ target was to recycle discarded smartphones and other small consumer electronics into the medals awarded at next summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games. Now, organizers announced that they have collected enough material to recycle in order to create the first sustainable Olympic and Paralympic medals ever.
All 5,000 medals awarded next summer will have been created from recycled medals as a result of a community effort. ‘From the sports side, a number of athletes from Japan and overseas called for action and donated their own used devices.
A total of 1,621 local authorities — 46 prefectural governments and 1,575 municipal governments — supported the initiative, representing more than 90% of the local authorities in Japan.’ (Inside Sport)
A previous edition of Beyond the Lane Lines revealed that, as part of the Tokyo 2020 Podium Project, members of the Japanese community can donate used plastic items to be recycled into the podiums. Shampoo bottles, dish detergent botels, etc, can be brought to AEON Group Stores in Japan where they will be added to P&G’s plastic waste recovered from the oceans to create the podiums.
#3 – Dara Torres Makes USA Today’s Over 35 List
Named alongside the likes of multi-Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady, golfing legend Tiger Woods and veteran tennis ace Serena Williams, retired swimmer Dara Torres has been USA Today’s List of Top Athletes of All Time Over 35.
Torres became the first American swimmer to compete in 5 Olympic Games, spanning 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008. In U.S. Trials for the 2008 Beijing Games, she set an American record for the 50-meter freestyle, then won silver in the 50-meter freestyle, 4×100-meter medley relay, and 4×100-meter freestyle relay at that Olympics.
#4 – A Look at USA’s World Championships Numbers
With the pool swimming portion of the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships arriving on Sunday, July 21st, USA Swimming revealed some fun statistics about this 18th edition fo the Championships on its website.
Did you remember that Natalie Coughlin has won the most World Championships medals (20) for a female swimmer ever? Or that Nathan Adrian will be competing at his 6th World Championships, the most of any American swimmer in the pool? Check out the USA Swimming website for more tasty facts about the stars n’ stripes squad.
#5 – Siobhan-Marie O’Connor Conquers Colitis
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor earned silver at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio in the women’s 200m IM, finishing just .30 behind winner Katinka Hosszu of Hungary. But besides all of her preparation in the pool, O’Connor battles a unique condition outside of the pool in the form of colitis.
Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis after she competed at the 2012 Olympics, O’Connor deals with flare-ups and describes to BBC a particularly scary stretch between October 2018 and March of 2019 as the ‘toughest’ of her career.
“At that point [in December], I was thinking: ‘Is the Olympic dream for next year over?’ I could barely swim and that was a really scary prospect.
“I genuinely wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to swim anymore.”
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease which affects the lining of the large intestine, and in O’Connor’s case means she is prone to bouts of extreme fatigue and picking up viruses as a result of a weakened immune system. (BBC)
O’Connor competed at this year’s British Swimming Championships took the women’s 200m IM title in a time of 2:10.34, adding her name to the nation’s roster for the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships taking place in Gwangju, Korea.