As diving, water polo, and open water competitions continue in Budapest, we are in the thick of the prophisized chaotic summer of 2022 in competitive pool swimming.
While the cancellation of the ISL season and the postponement of the Asian Games took some of the load off that calculation, there is still a lot more swimming to look forward to this year.
There are only 30 days until the Commonwealth Games open in Birmingham, with the swimming beginning a day later (July 29-August 3). There, top swimmers from the UK, Australia, South Africa, and Canada will battle a handful of spoilers from smaller nations in a funny multi-regional competition that means so much to those inside of it, and is so perplexing to those outside of it.
Names like Emma McKeon, Ariarne Titmus, Adam Peaty, and Duncan Scott, are showing up for the Commonwealth Games and not the World Championships. Several more Australians have proclaimed their focus on Birmingham even if they raced in Budapest. We ran the math – is it going to be bigger than Budapest? No. But it’s probably going to be the best Commonwealth Games competition we’ve seen in a long time.
It is also just 44 days until the start of the European Aquatics Championships in Rome, and specifically the swimming competition, that runs August 11-17.
Nobody has really come out and said blatantly that they’re focusing on the European Championships, though surely the Italians, after a breakthrough World Championship meet, will want a strong showing in front of a home crowd.
It is only 63 days until the World Junior Swimming Championships begin in their new home in Lima, Peru. The United States won’t be there, but many other nations will. This event has really grown into a key canary for future swimming greatness, with swimmers like Thomas Ceccon, Andrei Minakov, Carson Foster, Benedetta Pilato, Torri Huske, and Lani Pallister leaping from 2019 junior podiums to 2021 and 2022 senior podiums.
It is only 168 days until the 2022 World Short Course Championships, which have moved to Melbourne, Australia. That meet will be held from December 13-18. Given the home turf for the Australians, the world’s second-best swimming nation, and the fact that it will be summer in Melbourne but winter for most of the world’s top swimming nations, we’re expecting a much better meet than the COVID-marred 2021 edition.
And then the next big one, it is now only 381 days until the next World Aquatics Championships take place in Fukuoka, Japan. Originally scheduled for 2021, then pushed to 2022 by the Olympic move, then pushed to 2023 because of the lingering COVID-19 situation in Japan, the meet will now be the centerpiece of the 2023 calendar rather than a part of a crowded 2022 schedule.
We don’t even yet know all of the storylines that 2023 meet will hold, even just a year away. We know there will be a flood of young talent like David Popovici and Summer McIntosh building off successful 2022 World Championships, but we also know that a whole host of things we haven’t even thought of yet will wind up shaping that meet.
It is only 757 days until we get to see another Olympic Games, the shortest (recognized) intra-Olympic period in modern Summer Games history (with respect to the Intercalated Games, may they rest in peace). What appears to be a golden generation of swimmers globally on a crash-course with the Arena la Defense, including a handful of French swimmers like Leon Marchand and Maxime Grousset and Emma Terebo who could bring the roof down in Nanterre.
Sometime between days 381 and 757, we’ll allegedly get another World Aquatics Championships to boot – the Qatar event that was originally supposed to be in 2023.
All spring long, I sort of dreaded that chaos, not knowing how we were going to organize and arrange it all for a sport that is all about orderly arrangements. But now that we’re in the midst of it, I love it. It’s different, it’s accidentally novel, it creates drama and existential debate and an excess of celebration and all of those things that make sports great.
No athlete has to stew too long in their successes or simmer too long in their failures. The next opportunity for a statement, the next goal, the next podium is not beyond the horizon.
And that’s not to mention all of the other things that will go on in between, with NCAA swimming, World Cups, Pro Swim Series, national championships, Pan American Games, and junior meets of all scales and sizes.
The cat is officially among the pigeons. Hold on tight and enjoy the ride.