While not huge news for the sake of the Pan-Pacs, Stephanie Rice’s ominous absence from both of her scheduled events today (the 100 free and 50 back) could be huge in the scheme of international swimming.
Rice, who was already scheduled to swim a slimmed-down program due to chronic shoulder pain she’s been having, swam the prelim for the 50 fly yesterday, where she finished 8th. As the 4th Australian, that meant she didn’t swim the final. This morning, She scratched 3 events–the 400 IM was expected, the 50 back and 100 free were not–which brings speculation that she’s likely done for the meet. She wasn’t expected to compete in any of the events in her reduced schedule, after ruling out her specialty IM events, so her miss of the prelims this morning flew under the radar a bit.
Although pre-meet she was committed to the event, it seems like her enthusiasm was not seconded by her aching shoulder. Now, she’s just trying to hold on and hope she can survive through the Common Wealth Games before shoulder surgery.
The surgery is not considered too serious. In Rice’s words, “”It is only a clean-out, it’s not a reconstruction, and they say four weeks out of the water and a 12-week rehab, so it’s not that bad.” With the Commonwealth Games coming up in October, 4 weeks puts her into February before she returns to full training. This would give her 2 months to prepare for World Championships trials in April, and another 3 to get ready for Worlds if she qualifies.
Rice has not officially ruled out finishing the meet–she’s still entered in the 100 fly and 50 free–but If I were a gambling man, I’d bet good money that we won’t see her again in Irvine.
If Rice can’t go in October either, it would be another huge blow to the organizers of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, who have already taken huge publicity blows from terrorism fears, incomplete facilities, accidents during test events, and a rash of withdrawls from major sporting superstars. The list of athletes who have chosen to skip the event already includes Usain Bolt, Lleyton Hewitt, Chris Hoy, Shelly Ann Fraser, and Samantha Stosur.