COSTA Rican Olympic champion swimmer Claudia Poll returned to competition this week after a two-year suspension from the sport.
Swimming in the French Open in Dunkerque, France, Poll placed third in both the women’s 200- and 400-meter freestyle events, catapulting her into the International Swimming Federation world rankings.
On Monday, in the 400-meter freestyle, Poll finished with a time of 4:11.91, earning her 11th place in the world rankings. She rounded out her second day of competition with another third place finish in the 200-meter freestyle with a time of 2:00.17, putting her 21st in the rankings.
In the last laps of her debut performance, on Wednesday Costa Rica’s only Olympic gold-medallist swimmer finished mere tenths of a second behind first place.
The final race of the three-day competition was a 200-meter open for foreigners. Poll finished second with 1:59.85 on the clock – nearly head to head with Melanie Marshall of Great Britain, who took first place with a time of 1:59.46.
Poll’s time landed her third place overall in the competition, behind French swimmer Solenne Figues, who finished in 1:58.36, and Marshall. She now holds the 11th spot in the world ranking for that race.
Poll was banned from competition after testing positive for steroids in 2002.
Throughout the ordeal, she has maintained her innocence (TT, Apr. 16) The swimmer and her coach, Francisco Rivas, have said their current focus is not on qualifying for the Olympic Games in Athens this summer, but on establishing Poll in the world rankings.