According to the Brazilian swimming website Blog do Coach writer Alex Pussielidi, Russian swimmer Evgeny Sedov will join the growing list of young phenoms who will bypass their countries’ senior-level meets for the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China this summer.
Sedov, who on Monday broke the Junior World Record in the 50 fly twice, said this week that he would be skipping the European Championships to swim at the Youth Olympic Games. This means that he will join Brazil’s Matheus Santana, who made the same announcement after placing 2nd at the Maria Lenk Trophy (Brazil’s National Championship meet).
Those two are arguably the world’s best junior sprinters right now (American Caeleb Dressel would be in that conversation as well, had he not been absent from the competition pool for all of 2014 so far), and they’ll get their chance to square off head-to-head, especially in the 50 and 100 freestyles. Sedov should have the edge in the 50, and Santana in the 100, going in.
This second edition of the Youth Olympic Games has turned into a boondoggle for the IOC, at least in swimming, with multiple juniors eschewing potential senior-level meets for the Games.
This is perhaps by no accident, either. The IOC developed these Youth Olympcis as much as a money-maker as a true athletic development event, and they carefully timed it in a year where many, but not all, Olympic sports (swimming and athletics are the prime examples) are in their off year. Neither of those two have major World Championship meets, though both have more minor World Championship-type events (swimming short course Worlds, athletics the World Relays and indoor World Championships).
In addition to those two, Lithuanian World Record holder Ruta Meilutyte’s coach Jon Rudd has said that she’s going to attempt to swim the Youth Olympic Games, and then race to Berlin for a shot at the 50 breaststroke at the European Championships.
Australia’s answer for the two above will be young Kyle Chalmers, who is only 15 but is already in their neighborhood both in size and in sprint abilities. Countries like the United States and Australia are working their way around toward giving the opportunity for top juniors who are NOT on the senior squads to go to this meet, but it’s likely to be a long while before we saw an athlete from one of those countries actually skip the big meet.