Lani Pallister Among 8 Swimmers Positive for COVID, Out of 800 FR Final


COVID-19 has found its way onto the pool deck of the 2022 FINA World Championships.

Rumors about a potential outbreak have been floating around all week as we’ve seen many swimmers pull out of their events suddenly. (Stay tuned for our full injury and illness report after the meet wraps up.) But it’s become much more than a rumor, as FINA confirmed to News Corp on June 23 that eight swimmers so far have tested positive for COVID.

While FINA will not release the names or nationalities of the swimmers, Australian team officials have confirmed that one of the swimmers is rising distance star Lani Pallister. News Corp also reported that an Australian team official has also tested positive and is in isolation.

According to the report, Pallister “had no idea that she had contracted COVID when she swam in the 800m heats on Thursday, but felt an itch in her throat when she got back to her hotel so she decided to test herself.”

Testing positive means she’ll be in isolation for six days. That means she is out of the 800 free final, where she was the #2 seed, posting 8:24.66 in prelims.

This explains why the Australian contingent at Worlds was suddenly masked in the stands during Day 6 finals. They’ve been “ordered” to mask and report any symptoms. Not many people (swimmers or otherwise) have been wearing masks in the arena, with the Chinese team being the notable exception.

Per FINA’s COVID protocols, masks are optional after returning a negative PCR and antigen test upon arrival. FINA also does not require isolation for close contacts, as long as those close contacts are vaccinated. FINA did not require vaccines for credentialing and these rules apply only to credentialed individuals, not spectators.

Earlier in the meet, Pallister won bronze in the 1500 free behind katie ledecky and Katie Grimes. Her time of 15:48.96 was a new personal best by about six seconds. It was a strong rebound for the youngster, who beforehand had missed the podium in the 400 free by .08 seconds. This World Championships is Pallister’s first senior international meet.

The six day isolation also means that Pallister won’t travel to Barcelona with the Australian team on Sunday. However, the Australian open water team has just arrived in Budapest—with Pallister’s mother as one of the coaches. Once the open water events finish, “they will all travel together to France to join the rest of the team for the final training camp before next month’s Commonwealth Games.”

With Pallister withdrawing from the final, Brazil’s Viviane Jungblut will get a second swim.

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