Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy Holidays!

I haven't been blogging for a while. Sorry. I haven't had any bus rides in about 6 weeks and I took a break from donating plasma. Those times are when I get most of my writing done. Coaches put in long hours so I am very protective of my family time. I decided from the beginning that the blogging gig will not interfere with my job and it will not take away any of my time with the wife and kids. Them's the rules.

Plus, my laptop is in the shop and I don't know when I will get it back. It is pretty darn hard to blog from an iphone. I've tried. Can't upload pics and the keyboard causes me to spiral into madness.

I just wanted to make a quick post to say "happy holidays" to those of you out there who are paying attention. My Christmas break has been amazing. The Wii has entered my home and I have to say that it is a blast. As a certified PE teacher, I am amazed with the Wii fit plus. We had a lot of fun creating our Mii's. We even made one for the dog. Check out my Mii picture above. They even had my exact eyebrows and a perfect winter goatee and stache. The winter facial hair is an Alaskan habit to help keep my face from freezing off. I used to have an awesome picture of my dad with icicles hanging from his beard. He worked on a crabber in the Bering Sea for a few years.
Also, don't forget that the most important poll in swimming history is about to close. The suits are going away on the 1st. If you want to speak up to try to keep them, the poll on the right is your best bet. Methinks the bloggers have played a larger part in the decision making process than the big-wigs would like to admit.

I hope you are all having a fun break and that training is going well. Let me know if you have any monster sets you want to brag about. My girls team is scared to death right now. Yay!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Good Lick at the Meet, Dude!

I just got an iphone and it took a little while to get used to the texting. Auto-completing words makes it even more susceptible to errors. Now I understand why I have received so many text messages from people that have the same somewhat humorous mistake.

About twenty people this year have wished me "GOOD LICK" instead of "good luck."

Depending on who the message is coming from, that can be really funny, or just downright uncomfortable. Ya know?

And do you want to know something really uncomfortable? Doing a google image search for "lick" without the "safe for work" search settings enabled on your computer. I am pretty sure these were the only two pictures that came up that weren't just downright disgusting. Although there were a few people who could actually lick their elbows, and that's kind of cool, only because I can't even come close.

Search filters are a good thing. Auto-complete, not so much.





Saturday, December 5, 2009

...because beer and excellence don't always go hand in hand.

Back in college, I was proud to be the guy buying the four dollar twelve pack. It was exciting for me when someone would try to convince me to grow up and try their fancy premium imports, or even worse Zima, because it was my opportunity to wax poetic the virtues of my favorite cheap box of aluminum cans. The most solid argument I ever had was “nothing beats first place, dude!” There was nothing they could say. I win. Every time. Pabst had a blue ribbon right on the can!

So, I got to thinking last night about PBR, and how their marketing strategy has been riding on a blue ribbon they won way back in 1893. Think about it! That is over a hundred years! Spitz barely got 30 years out of his performance in Munich! I feel great for a few weeks after a good race, but I have never been so excited about it that I could carry that momentum for so long!

Then I got to thinking that the only thing cooler than a blue ribbon… is a gold medal. So, then, naturally… if Michael Phelps wanted to market something called 8 Gold Medal Beer, one could assume that his marketing strategy would be solid for close to 1000 years. Right? Makes me want to brew and sell my own beer. Damn. Shoulda trained harder and won 8 gold medals. Coulda built a brewing dynasty.

Then I started thinking about how beer helps our self-esteem. Americans lead the world in high self-esteem, and I am sure that beer plays a large part in that. I want to make people feel better about themselves with my own unique brew. Not that my self-image needs any help, mind you… I just started feeling a little sad for those people who were never good enough to win a blue ribbon or a gold medal. Granted, the reason PBR still sells is that people want to associate themselves with that kind of excellence. I feel like I am the Jason Lezak of an awesome Olympic beer relay when I have had enough of them. But, shouldn’t we also have a beer for those other people who maybe aren’t as awesome as me and Michael Phelps? You know, those people who never got more than a heat winner or best time ribbon? And aren’t there more of those consumers out there, who might be intimidated by a beer that inspires an excellence that they might never achieve? Wouldn’t the masses relate better to a beer more suited for them, that is maybe grounded with a little more realistic expectations?

And that’s when I realized I had the beginnings of a new brew that is guaranteed to sell to the average Joe. I am gonna make bank with this one. Don Draper has nothing on me…



And then I got to thinking that all this thinking was starting to make my head hurt, and I probably better just get to bed before I think up something really stupid.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Let’s All Kiss and Make Up

The Viking ship has sailed into some scalding waters lately. Chris DeSantis’ recent sarcastic post brought on seventeen comments, including one from Craig Lord himself! Then, my post about Craig Lord’s resistance to splitting the world record book between tech and textile brought on a SwimNews editorial! Hot damn! I knew I would never swim fast enough for him to include me in an article, so I guess pestering him was the only other way to go. :)

It is too bad that he didn’t provide a link to my site. I am pretty sure that only about half of my nine loyal readers even figured out that he was referring to me as the “helmet and horns of a different opinion.” At least he didn’t call me a “blogging blockhead” this time. And the best part is that he actually said that I am “not stupid,” and he even threw a Monty Python reference my direction. It is nice to see that he is able to play along with the blog-fight. Mr. Lord, if we ever meet, I will buy you a tall one, we can have a fun-spirited, fist-waving argument entirely in the third person, and then throw back a hearty skoal to the greatest sport in the world. The best part of a blog-fight is always the making up afterwards, if you know what I mean. Wink, wink… ;)


Tony Austin recently suggested I get in on the talk about the possibility of a pro league with a producer who is willing to pitch it. I am all for that, but I want to suggest another idea for a show first. We oughtta have a big-brother style TV series with the whole swim blogger community living together in one house until we finally settle the swimsuit technology issue and all of it’s subsequent “baggage” once and for all. Just think. We would have the world’s geekiest swim geek, a Viking, Lord Voldemort, and a host of other opinionated and passionate thinkers all in one big powder keg of an apartment. It would be like a dysfunctional superhero swim nerd costume party! I am pretty sure we could come up with some really goofy challenges to make it fun. We could go to the Y and start coaching random people. We could each take a turn writing work-outs and coaching the national team for a day. We might each have to go Christmas shopping at the mall in briefs, or maybe take a run on the slip n’ slide in a Jaked. Now that would be great TV drama and definitely good for the sport. It could end with Craig Lord and Tony Austin on Split Time, announcing the solution we all came up with. Holding hands, of course.


The fact is, as Chris DeSantis so humbly suggested, that perhaps none of us completely disagrees with Craig Lord, and he doesn’t entirely disagree with us. We all want what is best for the sport and it is okay to argue out the details on the web. That is how we get into the discussions that bring the best solutions. As for me, I feel that tech did interfere with the purity of our sport in a way, but I don’t feel that tech has to completely disappear. I think we could find a way to include it, even if it is in a limited fashion. NASCAR and Formula 1 are both car racing. They both have a place on the road. If we are really smart about it, allowing technology in certain specific locations and dates, with separate records to chase, could help us to promote traditional swimming.


There is something exciting about in-season swimming being fast. That is one of the benefits of suits with full legs. If we left our traditional meets alone, what harm would it do to offer a pro-am type of competition at different points of the year that don’t interfere with what we already have going on? What harm is there in allowing suit companies to form teams that compete in duals which might bring more sponsors on board to support the world’s best athletes and keep them in the water? There could be a place for shiny suits, and I feel the idea needs to be explored. If we came up with some workable ideas, we would have to keep a separate set of records. Period. If there is not any possibility of future tech in any way, then I feel the proposal from Craig Lord and Phil Whitten far outshines the idea of splitting records that was presented by the FINA commission. Two sets of records make no sense unless we have two categories of competition.


Now I have to wonder… how many times has Craig Lord anonymously commented on my blog? How many anonymice are actually world class swimmers and coaches who don’t want it known that they are participating the realm of the swim-blogger? Has the great Bob Bowman deigned to grace my blogspot with his presence? Hmmm… must investigate further. Maybe it is time to start rattling his cage.


Of course Tony Austin, as usual, is
one step ahead of me on that one too.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Separate World Records? Why Wouldn't Craig Lord Want That?

Upon reading the recent SwimNews article about the FINA Coaches Commission's recommendation to separate tech records from textile, I was a little confused. I was under the impression that Craig Lord would have loved to isolate those “shiny suit” records in an effort to cast them into obscurity. I was a little taken back before when he was part of the team that recommended leaving them on the list of historical records while still listing the "world record" as any set outside of the non-textile time frame as he suggests again in the current article. That solution seemed to actually find a way to honor the athletes who set them legally in tech without disgracing them by erasing them completely.

When I got to thinking about his recent post, it occurred to me that Craig Lord was right in a strange way, when he suggested that the new recommendation might be like singling out the athletes who set the “inferior textile records” if we listed them separately because they would have less "perceived worth"… but why would he have issues with that? He has been the first to single out athletes who set records in tech, pointing the harshest and most damning finger in their direction. The records would be weeded out and all would be right in the textile world. No more chasing the marks of cheaters, right? Plus, when a tech record gets broken in textile, he would have a great "man triumphs over machine" article to write, eh?

Then, when he asked how reporters are supposed to deal with two world records listed in the start lists and results sheets of every event and the problems that may bring, he referred to listing tech records separately as “dragging the baggage of the past two years into the future…”

That’s when I got it. I see the angle now.

Maybe Craig Lord is foreseeing the future that I might dare to predict. Maybe he worries that the coaches commission is somehow trying to under-handedly keep those records in the public eye, not so that we can celebrate them more when the records are broken “unenhanced”… but perhaps he feels that they are trying to keep those records talked about to warm FINA and the general swimming population up to the idea of creating a separate PROFESSIONAL SWIM LEAGUE.

Think about it. Now, don’t just roll your eyes here. Hear me out. There is no other really valid reason to keep those records alive in this way. FINA holds the power to be able to completely squash any movement to create a separate league, but if the FINA coaches commission puts all of the pieces in place, it would open the door for FINA to have governance over it and be able to decide under what circumstances tech would be allowed. It might actually become a legitimate movement if it starts with this exact move on the chessboard. It is the most perfect first step toward finding a place for tech.

Craig Lord is not worrying about protecting the reputations of those athletes who set textile records for fear that those separate records might “indicate to the public that their ‘mark’ is somehow less important or worthy than the ‘real’ record” as he puts it.

Mr. Lord might be seeing the writing on the wall. There is a large contingent out there who wish for tech to stay around, and by keeping those records in the books separately, it ensures that those records will be looked at and talked about long enough for the issue to come around again with a new face and agenda. It ensures that the thorn in Craig Lord’s side might leave a wound that can be re-opened. Why keep those records listed in the meet program if they are not meant to be broken? Why have tech records, unless there might be future racing in tech? Separation is the only way tech could possibly follow us into the future.

I have always wondered if tech suits might be considered again if swimming does not receive a tremendous press following leading up to the 2012 or even the 2016 games. I kind of thought that we might have a little bit of a “Michael Jackson” reaction in the press. You know…. “Let’s hate on the suits until they are gone, and then we can all lament about how the sport will never be as exciting again without them and consider bringing them back.” We shall see. It could be that we are still unsure of what to make of tech and want to keep the door open to consider it for the future.

Is the FINA commission up to something big here behind the scenes? Is it possible that the big brains of the coaching world aren‘t ready to completely push technology out of our sport? Could it be that the decision makers of international swimming don’t see “shiny suits” as quite the abomination that Craig Lord contends that they are? Could the whole tech league idea have a chance at gaining some momentum? I can’t wrap my head around any other reason why Mr. Lord might have issues with a separate list of records.

Are you with me here? Conspiracy theorists please weigh in below.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Guest Post by Chris DeSantis

For the past year, Craig Lord has been spreading lying propoganda via his perch atop Swimnews.com (yes, I know Nick Thierry is in charge but Craig produced most of the content). Craig has made many outrageous claims, but now guest writer Cecil Colwin has taken the fight to a new low. In an article appearing yesterday, he makes the following claim about the world championships that took place this summer in Rome:

"At the Rome world championships, many hitherto unknown swimmers, used the shiny suits as virtual implements to set marks that, in the normal course of events, would have needed ten strong men pulling them through the water on a rope, to replicate their recent "world-record-breaking" feats"

I have tremendous respect for the breadth of literature that Colwin is produced. Perhaps that is why it is so shocking for him to make such an ignorant statement. I will forgive the comment about "ten strong men" and a rope, after all this is just for dramatic effect. We all know one person can tow an average swimmer into the wall at speeds faster than the fastest swimmers in the world. However, lets examine the less subjective part of this comment, that "unknown swimmers used the shiny suits" to achieve "world record breaking" times. The following are world record performances from the Rome World Championships:

Men's 100m Free: Cesar Cielo 46.91. Oh you mean the guy who was the fastest scy sprinter before the "suits" and who also finaled in both the 50 and 100 at just 20 years old (very young for a sprinter) at the 2007 world champs. Yeah, no one had heard of him.

Men's 200m Free: Paul Biedermann 1:42.00- Totally right here. I never heard of this guy when he was European Junior Champion, or when he finaled at the Olympics the year before, or when he set the SCM world record in a textile suit earlier in the year. Totally unknown

Men's 400m Free: Ditto, 3:40.07. Need I say more?

Men's 800m Free: Zhang Lin 7:32.12. Totally anonymously got a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in the 400, where the 800 was not contested at the event. Also 22 and male. Completely unexpected that he would drop time at that age.

Men's 50m Back: Liam Tancock 24.04. Had medaled in the two previous world champs. 2008 SCM World Champ in the 100 back. 2006 Commonwealth Games Champ in the 100 back. I would think above any other meets, Cecil would pay attention to the Commonwealth games.

Men's 200m Back: Aaron Peirsol 1:51.92. Aaron who?

Men's 50m Breaststroke: Cameron Van Der Burgh 26.67. 2007 Bronze Medalist at the World Champs in the 50 breaststroke at just 19 years old (i.e well ahead of any other 19 year old 50 breaststrokers at that point).

Men's 100m Breaststroke: Brenton Rickard 58.58. Was a bronze medalist at the 2007 World Champs. 2008 Olympic silver medalist. I dare you to walk into his hometown of Brisbane and see whether he is unknown.

Men's 100 and 200m Fly: Michael Phelps 49.82 and 1:51.51. Managed to dominate the sport for the last two Olympic periods without anyone noticing.

Men's 200 IM: Ryan Lochte 1:54.10. #2 all time performer in the event prior to the meet besides Phelps, who didn't contest this one this summer.

Had enough? Too bad. Lets look at the women:

Women's 50 and 100m free: Britta Steffen 23.73, 52.07. European Champ in 2006. Double gold at the Beijing games despite racing in textile. But she's German, so she was definitely cheating even though East Germany crumbled twenty years ago.

Women's 200 and 400 Free: Federica Pellegrini 1:52.98, 3:59.15. 2004 Silver medalist in the 200 free at barely 16 years old. 2005 Silver medalist. 2008 Gold Medalist in the 200 free. Most importantly, stole Laure Manadou's boyfriend. How could you miss that?

Women's 50m Back: Zhao Jing 27.06. Swam on China's 4x100 medley at the 2008 Olympics as a 17 year old. Set a 2006 continental record in the 50 back (28.50) as just a 15 year old. Totally unbelievable that one of the best junior swimmers in the world panned out this way.

Women's 100m Back: Gemma Spofforth 58.12. Probably one of the least "known" swimmers on this list. Still, was an NCAA champion in 2007 pre "shiny suit".

Women's 200m Back: Kirsty Coventry 2:04.81. I suppose you could have missed her 4 medals at the 2008 Olympics or the three medals from the 2004 games while representing swimming powerhouse Zimbabwe.

Women's 100m Breaststroke: Rebecca Soni 1:04.84 (Since broken by Jessica Hardy). Silver medalist from 2008 and beat the fastest breaststroker of her era (Leisel Jones) in the 200m that summer.

Women's 200m Breaststroke: Annamay Pierse 2:20.12. Also the SCM WR holder from the prior March. You could make an argument for this. But she was 6th in the world in 2007, pre "shiny suits". So its not like she was chopped liver.

Women's 50m Fly:
Therese Alshammar. Has won more than 30 medals in international competition (World Champs, Olympics or European Champs). I'm not going to waste time listing them, lets just agree she's been pretty good over the last decade.

Women's 100 Fly: Sarah Sjostrom 56.06. I will forgive her for not having too many international results before 2008 considering she was still 15 when she swam at World Champs this summer. Was 2008 Euro Champ at just 14 years old.

Women's 200m Fly: Jessica Schipper 2:03.41 (Since broken). 2005 World Champ. gold medalist in both the 100 and 200 fly, 2007 World Champ. gold medalist in the 200 fly.

Women's 200 IM: Ariana Kukors 2:06.15. Ok possibly just as unknown as Spofforth. Still, we are talking about the silver medalist at the 2006 Pan Pacs. American swimming fans hve been waiting for her to break out and swim to her ability level for years. She would have represented any other country besides the US in the 200 IM in 2008 and would have likely made the final. She was 11th in the world in this event as a 16 year old in 2005 then posted three straight years in the top ten in one of the IMs. So I'd say she was pretty well established as one of the best IM swimmers in the world.

And thats it, all the world records that were set at the world championships this summer. It makes me sad to see a great like Cecil Colwin say something so incorrect because his words deservedly carry a ton of weight. I really wish Craig (or Nick) would stop trotting out greats like Cecil to bolster their point.

A Glimmer of Hope in Textile

My old college coach stopped me at a high school meet to ask me what I thought about the decision to take the shiny suits away. Apparently he doesn’t read my blog. He is a suit fan. He thinks they were good for the sport and he listed some pretty valid reasons.

I replied that I wasn’t sure whether it was the right decision to take tech away but that I am curious to see where it goes. I remember saying that we might see a psychological phenomenon. You see, now that all these swimmers have gone so darn fast with the suits, I was anticipating that there might be some swimmers who can’t deal with not going best times after going back to textile. I know a few swimmers who will probably struggle because they will not be able to rationalize it and will be tied to unrealistic expectations… and I could see them getting discouraged enough to consider hanging it all up.

But then, there was the other side of it. I had to wonder, how many swimmers will expect to keep swimming those fast times… and then live up to it?

Last year, at the Missouri high school boys championships, the talk on the deck was that swimming in our state had taken a real step up. It wasn’t about the winning times. I believe that only two state records were broken, and they were in relays. What struck us all was the depth. There were times that would have won events just a few years before that would not have even made the top 8. It was fascinating. I know that I felt that we were part of something really special for our area. We all were pointing at the suits; not as the only reason Missouri was getting better, but as a catalyst that helped us move a few years ahead of ourselves since the 2007 meet.

Then this year, in 2009, even with the suits taken away, we actually got better.

In 2008, there were an amazing 12 swimmers in the 50 hitting 21’s… and this year there were 15! Last year, 7 swimmers turned in 47 in the 100, and this year there were 9!

In '08, the KC Rockhurst boys were given a hard time when they broke the state record in the 400 free relay by three seconds. They were called cheaters in the comments section of the floswimming coverage of the event. They were swimming “enhanced” because they were all wearing tech, and somehow that meant that their record shouldn‘t count. It was the same disgusting treatment Dana Vollmer and others got when they broke NCAA records. That rotten behavior by swim fans was so disappointing.

This year, Rockhurst got to do something really rare at our championships. They came back and proved that they own that 400 record without a doubt. They broke it again, in textile jammers! For me, it would have been enough for them to take the old record of 3:08 just to hush the nay-sayers. That should have been enough to prove that the 400 free relay record rightfully belongs to them. But they didn’t stop there. They took it further by going eight tenths of a second faster than they did with their fancy pants on. 3:05.14! And when I asked them about it, they said that they had forgotten that they had even been criticized at all. They just wanted to go best times, just like every swimmer at every level, since our beautiful sport began.

Wild. Right on. Way to go, guys!

Maybe, just maybe, Aaron Peirsol has made up his mind that he is still a 1:51 200 lcm backstroker. Is it possible that he doesn’t intend to start over in the 1:54 range? That maybe he has the same mindset that swimmers develop as 8& unders going after those best time iron-ons for their t-shirts? Maybe Ariana Kukors will go into her first race of 2010 with the confidence of a 2:06 IM’er. And can you imagine Fred Bousquet ever letting it settle in his mind that the world is going back to a time when it was an exclusive club of just a handful who are capable of getting their fingertips to the end of the long course pool in under 22 seconds? The world class pack is no longer full of 22’s with a few 21’s sprinkled on top. 21’s are now the whipped cream, and a 20.9 is now the cherry on top. In Fred’s mind, I don’t think that will change. (Of course, if he is gonna go faster than a 20.9, he better do it in a brief, because Craig Lord will have his dirty, cheating head if he wears a jammer.)

Maybe, just maybe, the suits have opened a psychological door that might have taken a lot longer for us to open otherwise. Kind of like the guy who finally cracked the four minute mile on the track. How many people realized they could do it only after they had seen it done? Wouldn’t that effect magnify a little when you have seen yourself do it, rather than someone else?

Sports psychology is fascinating. The bar was raised partly due to technology, but are we really certain that the bar has to come back down without it?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tougher Than Swimmers? Maybe.

Swimmers are pretty proud of the hours we put in, training in a grueling sport. We endure our punishment knowing that our coaches push us through these tests to make us the best we can be, and we all take satisfaction in the idea that many athletes in other sports might actually drown if they tried to do our warm-up. I have respect for all sports... but sometimes I am just in awe, or maybe fear, of cross country runners.

Here is a story I shared with my high schoolers the other day. The runner in this article is obviously the toughest SOB on earth. He broke his leg during a race, knew he had broken it, and finished to become an All-American in Division II. He has been through a year and a half of rehab and recovery to come back and compete for his senior year. The best part about the article was this quote:

“It was miserable,” Dixon said. “I don’t know how I did it. But, at Missouri Southern, we don’t quit. I don’t think there are any of my teammates who would have quit. ... It was just putting one foot in front of the other.”

I remember feeling that way about my team in college. I felt like we would have pushed through anything to bring the big meet home for Coach Steck. It is an amazing feeling, but I really don't know if any of us would have been able to finish the mile with a broken leg, no matter how much we loved each other.

Apparently, the guys on Coach Rutledge's team will tear off their skinny little broken leg and beat you with it while they are hopping at full speed, racing you on the other one. Tough as nails. I am in awe.

By the way... Missouri Southern did go on to win the MIAA championship this year. Men and Women. Go Lions!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's a pink speedo. You got a problem with that?!

Last night was senior night for my boys' high school team. We like our last home meet to be more like a celebration than a grudge match with the other local teams, and this year it really was. Not only did we recognize our seniors and have a meet good enough to have an 18 year-old pool record broken...

We also honored one of our own by recognizing breast cancer awareness month in our own unique way. Our diving coach has battled through six rounds of chemo and will not be attending the state meet with us because she will be having the surgery that we hope finally ends her fight with a knock-out win.

With NFL players wearing pink, and pink ribbons everywhere during the month of October, we thought it would be only appropriate to show our support in the most creative way that a bunch of goofy high school swimmers and divers can... pink briefs!

I want to give props to splish.com for making these custom suits and getting them to us so quickly. They are excellent. We will be keeping them in our inventory to sell as practice suits. If anyone out there wants one, we will sell them at cost for $25. We need to break even on them so that we don't have a negative balance in the team account. (I get in trouble when I do that!) We have the following sizes: 28 (2), 30 (5), 32, 34. Just shoot me an email if you need a practice suit.

The unveiling was a total surprise, and the event seemed like it was very well received. At least everyone at our pool was wide-eyed and focused on breast cancer awareness for about two hours this Tuesday. I am pretty sure that all present thought it was totally worth it. You should have seen the look on her face when I announced for the boys to "show her what's up" and they all started pulling their pants down.

priceless.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Math Problem

Woody Allen says that "80% of success is just showing up." As a high school swim coach, I can see where he is coming from, so let's just assume that is true. It is part of my early season speech about being a good teammate. I like the idea that every athlete matters, and can motivate their teammates to do better and have more fun by just being there with the rest of the team.

So, then, if my high school boys have had less than 50% attendance for the last three weeks because of the flu, band, the play, showchoir, and everything else you can imagine...

and 27% of my team ended their season early when the quarter grades came out and they landed on the ineligible list...


what does that say about this season? I mean, really... this is a math problem that I just can't wrap my head around. We have a good system in place to keep grades on track, so I am feeling like I really let some athletes down. Two of them asked if they could still practice with us even without competing, and it was heartbreaking to tell them NO.

Numbers aside, I think the answer for this season has something to do with keeping our chins up, and doing the best we can with what we've got.

...and all of a sudden I am really craving a chicken salad sandwich. Go figure.


Monday, October 12, 2009

The Show-Down!!

While I was at Missouri State (back then it was SW Missouri State) we never got beat by Drury, and the only time Mizzou ever got us was my senior year. It was at the Illinois dual meet extravaganza, and it was the first time we had raced them with 5-3-1 scoring. It was pretty upsetting because being able to handle the Tigers was a point of pride for our little mid-major two-directional school. None of the other sports on campus were in their league at the time.

When we got rid of the stupid bear jumping through the U and moved to the new Bear logo, and then changed the name to Missouri State University a few years ago, we all felt that it would help us with recruiting by giving us a little legitimacy when comparing to the major schools. But, of course, Mizzou did ten times better by building a rockin' new swim facility. After it was built, the rivalry changed because Mizzou seemed to have an ace in the hole to bring in the best kids in the midwest. Most athletes who take a trip to MSU also are looking at the rest of the Missouri schools including Drury, Truman and Missouri S&T which are all top-notch in Division 2.

Recently though, it is apparent that the Missouri college rivalries are getting back into full swing. Last year, MSU and the Drury men traded duals, which is exciting because they had been forbidden for twenty years. This Saturday, Mizzou hosted all Missouri college swim teams across all divisions together
for what they call the "Show-Me Showdown" and it was a pretty exciting meet.

Missouri State took the title on the men's side, and was second behind Mizzou's women. While this meet was early season and everyone is tired, it is very apparent that all of the teams involved have some standouts and things only seem to be getting better every year in our state. I can't wait for the dual meets to start! I have all the respect in the world for all Missouri college teams and wish them the best this year... but I can't help rooting for Fat Jack's Bears!

Check out the Show-Down results here.

Final Men's Team Standings
1. Missouri State, 346.5
2. Missouri, 313.5
3. Drury, 272.5
4. Missouri S&T, 224.5
5. Saint Louis, 159.5
6. Lindenwood, 157
7. Washington University, 139.5

Final Women's Team Standings
1. Missouri, 382
2. Missouri State, 317
3. Drury, 286
4. Saint Louis, 214.5
5. Washington University, 165.5
6. Lindenwood, 147
7. Stephen's College, 66

Friday, October 9, 2009

Natalie Coughlin Wardrobe Malfunction!



Yeah, I know the pic is not what you were hoping for. :) When I saw this I couldn't help but chuckle and think,
"MY GOD! THE PRESSURE TO EXCEL MUST BE UNBEARABLE!"

...after all the crazy arguing about what to wear in the pool had finally been settled, I bet she just threw up her hands in disgust when the tabloids took it upon themselves to criticize her for wearing the "dreaded, duplicate dress." She can win Olympic Gold, but just can't please the fashonista crowd.

TMZ had this to say:

Swimmer Natalie Coughlin was given the same frilly blue dress for her web promo that gymnast Shawn Johnson wore on the show last year -- giving the lovely ladies something else in common other than the 2008 Olympics.

The dress could turn out to be good or bad luck: Johnson won "Dancing" last year ... but she also gained an alleged stalker.

Ugh. Give the girl a break.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Peak Racing: You May Die

During my freshman year in college, I remember describing my friends on the swim team at Missouri State to one of my Alaskan pals. I spent some time talking about how crazy this guy Andy Weinberg was. He held all of our distance records at the time, and there was just nothing he wasn't willing to do in the pool or at a party. My Alaskan friend, who had actually spent some time in an institution and prison mind you, ended the conversation with "man, you are hanging out with the wrong people."

I had heard through the grapevine that Andy was still competing in triathlons and super long runs, which didn't really surprise me. There was obviously something about his personality that drove him to see how much abuse he could take. So when Andy's wife, Sloan, sent out a link on facebook to the website
youmaydie.com, I was curious. I played along and found out what Andy is now up to. That link is the site for their DEATH RACE. The rest of the races hosted by his PEAK RACES group are at peakraces.com. Check it out at the links above, and watch the video below.

I can't even finish a set of 100's on 1:20 right now. I have never felt so pathetic. These guys are nuts. It is incredibly inspiring to see people test their limits in such a cool way.
Rumor is, there might be a reality show in the works. I am hoping for an interview with Andy soon just to see how all of this got started. Enjoy.

Unforseen Problems in a Tech-less World

At a high school invitational recently, four of the boys I coach were behind the blocks getting ready for a 200 medley relay when an official walked up to them and said “this just won’t do! You are going to have to get rid of those suits!”

“What?!” Replied my boys. “These are lycra jammers! It‘s not like this is a LZR!”

“You can’t wear two suits! You are all wearing two suits! I am going to have to disqualify you… we can’t delay the meet to give you time to change.”

“What?!" ...and then they took a look. "That’s not a brief… that’s the liner!”

The boys were allowed to swim when the official realized his mistake. All of this happened with me having no knowledge of it until the race was done. My boys were pretty freaked out over it. The official tried to tell them that they still needed to change after the race, but they ignored him.

We get our suits custom from AgonSwim.com. They do great custom dye work. We started ordering them with black liners because the girls suits had some modesty issues without it. In the boys suit, when they are wet, the liner looks like a brief showing through. It’s no big deal, but I know that at the state meet in the past, we have had a couple of incidents regarding logo’s and such where officials have shot first, continued with the meet, and then sorted it out later at the expense of kids who really hadn’t done anything wrong. At the pool where they host the state meet, it could take ten minutes for my athletes to wade through the crowd to get to me, and another ten for me to get over to the referee to get the whole story. By then, it would be way too late.

At the Central Sectional meet, Roman Sludnov was disqualified for wearing his drag suit in a race. It wasn’t that he forgot. He wore it because the brief he was wearing had malfunctioned and he didn’t have time to change. He didn’t seem to be that upset about it when he told me the story. It just serves as an unfortunate example of a rule that needs to be rewritten. His drag suit provided no advantage, and anyone who would argue that it did is an idiot.

Does anyone else think it is silly to not allow kids to wear a brief under a jammer anyway? And is there anyone out there who thinks the two suit rule is ridiculous when a kid gets disqualified if he forgets to take off his drag before he dives in? Modesty is an issue, but not the only one. The rule should allow for common sense. Didn’t USA Swimming already do something like this for age groupers?

The NFHS needs to address this one soon. It is gonna come up, and probably in a big way at someone’s state meet. Until Speedo and NASA team up to make a brief that you can wear under a suit for a technical boost, or a mesh drag suit that actually reduces drag, we need to allow officials to make a judgment call regarding advantage when addressing double suits. The rule as it is now started because of tech, and it should have disappeared with tech.

Of course, the down side of relaxing the rule would be that if they had been allowed to wear two suits at worlds this year, Ricky Beren’s ass might not have gotten so much press, and that would have just been bad for the sport.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Another Swimming Iphone App


This one isn't a game. It is actually pretty darn useful.

It is called LiveResults and you can paste the link from the hy-tek style live results page at any meet and your iphone keeps up with it in a snazzy, very easily navigatable browser. Download it and try it. I am in awe. When you buy it, the Charlotte UltraSwim is already installed for you to browse.

This link goes to the user guide so you can see how it works. Check it out.

Someone at CollegeHumor is a Swim Fan.

I can't believe I haven't done this search before... CollegeHumor.com really seems to like Michael Phelps and swimming in general. We have all seen their vid about Phelps being a bad sport, but they have plenty more out there. I found at least one article and a couple of decent vids. Enjoy:







Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Flobashing

Sometimes I should probably just keep my mouth shut, right?

If you were a floswimming fan back in the day you might get a kick out of this one. Garrett McCaffrey interviewed the Diver of the Year at the USAS convention a few days ago, and made a little goof at the end of it. No big deal, but Eric from the Kast-Away blog caught it and posted this comment:

Oh no! I love the coverage of diving and the interview with Troy Dumais.. but Garrett - you fudged the sign-off!
'Troy Dumais, 2009 Swimmer of the Year" haha I'm sure you realized it right after you said it too.


So, me... I had to use it as a chance to bash floswimming. I posted this:

yeah... I caught that too. I think Swimming World TV should fire Garrett. All the cool websites are doing it. It makes for a really solid business plan. I heard floswimming is now a huge success because they had so many awesome people to choose from when their offices were flooded with applications to fill his spot. They saved so much money on the deal, it was like switching to Geico.


I quickly got into a chat with Jason at Swimming World TV, and we agreed that it should probably be taken down. Swimming World TV doesn't need to get in the middle of all that. I probably need to keep my inner smart-ass in check if I am going to post there. I really don't have hard feelings toward flo, so I should probably lay off.

I hope you all can appreciate the humor in all of it!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Spider-Woman Trailer

Marvel All Over the Place


Marvel is on my mind lately. I just keep running into their stuff. Maybe it is some kind of sign. First there was the news about the Disney buyout. If you google image search about it, you will see that the comic blogging world is abuzz, and there are a lot of geeks out there with photoshop skills making some pretty high quality commentary, not all of it positive.

Then Maxim put out an awesome
article on the 70 year history of the company. Then Slate puts out this amazing vid of my dream job, working in the bullpen of the House of Ideas:


Then Marvel.com gives us a taste of their new pursuit: Motion Comics. I downloaded some of the Watchmen motion comics from itunes and I have to say that it was awesome to be able to have comics on my ipod. Marvel has entered the fray with guns blazing in a new Spider-Woman series by my favorite creative team, Bendis and Maleev. Don't get me started about their run on Daredevil a few years ago. I won't shut up.

Check out the trailer in the post below.
The first issue is free at this link. The rest you can buy from itunes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Eat Like Champions

I strongly recommend that every coach carry a video camera around to meets with them. Besides the inherent value of being able to film races and dives, it is just plain fun to goof around and post things like this on your team website.


Monday, September 14, 2009

My first post for SwimmingWorld.TV!


When it was announced that Garrett McCaffrey was making the move to SwimmingWorld.TV, of course I got excited. Admit it. You did too. With all of their resources, Garrett McCaffrey and Chris DeSantis joining Swimming World is like when Wolverine and Spiderman joined the Avengers.

Still, I couldn’t help but think through the list of everything I missed from floswimming at it’s height. I immediately started hoping that all of their features would make the move with Garrett; and as Swimming World’s new venture develops, some of them just might. I can’t wait to see where it all goes.

The workouts, meet coverages and interviews were mostly Garrett’s domain so I knew to expect great things there. I figured that some of the other contributors, like myself, would make the move over with him. At flo, more and more meet coverages were being contributed by swim fans all over the world. They had so much more that was just starting to catch on, like all of the features attached to the team “locker room.”


The thing that I had really been missing though, the loss that hurt the most, was the flo community. It was a community based on user contributions and comments left on videos and blogs. I have to say that I felt like an addict, and the absence left a void in my life. Seriously, withdrawals and everything. I sometimes go back to floswimming and cry in my office chair over the lifeless husk it has become.


One of my first blogs at floswimming was about
anonymous commenters. I have been conflicted about them from day one. It bothered me that so many people had so much negative to say about everything and nit-picked with so much zeal… but then, hating on the haters was half the fun. Floswimming had a plethora of anonymous cowards spewing haterade and I could not stop myself from constantly checking the activity board to see the blog-fights unfold. Every once in a while I would even get a text or email from a buddy saying “check out so-and-so’s comment on DeSantis’ last post.” I had to tune in to watch the train wreck and even I couldn’t help but make anonymous comments to make all the rest of the herd of cowards look stupid. It sometimes even became a game to see how long people could sneak really rotten comments past the site administrators, timing them to see how long it would take for them to catch it and delete it.

Swimming World has addressed this head on with a pretty major policy that is a little more restrictive than the world we were used to at floswimming. They are expecting us to attach our first and last name to our comments. I have to admit, that made me a little nervous. When I saw this, my comment (logged in as the Viking of course,) was this:

do I really have to use my real name? When they found out Daredevil's secret identity the Kingpin just about ruined his life. And look what happened to poor Peter Parker? When he "came out" they had to start the whole Spiderman series again from scratch. I don't know if I am ready for this new move. :)

I do know of some coaches who would not send their team to floswimming because the comments were not moderated well enough. They weren’t “family appropriate” and it made it hard for me as a coach to send my summer team swimmers links to some of the videos. I understand why Swimming World needs to have a more restrictive system in place, and really, we should be held accountable for the things we say in a public forum. We are in a sport for which the base of the pyramid is age groupers, after all. We can only hope that this does not scare anyone away from making negative comments that might have some value. I am sure it is not those with dissenting viewpoints that Swimming World is trying to weed out. It is healthy to hear both sides of every argument and they can add to the conversation. If you have something that needs to be said anonymously for your protection, run it past the editors. They are journalists. They check up on tips and protect their sources. It is those who hide anonymously so that they can be rude and obnoxious who need to be moderated. No one wants to visit a swimming web site to watch their granddaughter’s race only to read a whole bunch of comments about why nobody likes her because she is stuck up and snotty. There is nothing okay about that. Period.


SwimmingWorld.TV has tremendous potential. I am thrilled to be on board this new ship, sailing toward a new horizon. I don’t really want it to be just like flo… I want it to be way better. I want it to develop it’s own culture. Let’s start leaving some comments and get this new community rockin’. That is the part that is in all of our hands. If you haven’t made an account yet, you are missing what is going to be a great ride. Log in and let us know what you think.

Paul Winkeler, KC Rockhurst

Last November, when the race videos from the Missouri High School boys meet were posted at flo, the video of Rockhurst breaking the 400 Free Relay record became a pretty spectacular 45 comment blogfight. I felt horrible for the boys on the relay and for their coach. It has to be an awful feeling to do something so great, only to have anonymous cowards take cheap shots at you on the web.

I will be posting soon about Swimming World TV's decision to require names attached to comments. I was in the middle of writing that blog when I ran into Rockhurst's coach Paul Winkeler, and he was nice enough to let me ask him about the comments from that race. I have always wished that the jerks commenting on that post had to attach their names, and I have wondered how many of these particular jerks would have said anything at all if we knew who they were at the time.

Rockhurst seems to have taken it pretty well. Coach Winkeler seems to have accepted the jerks as a part of modern sports.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Inside Joke


Let me know when you see it, I-man. All the kids in class think this guy is really fast, you know... since his name is all over the record board and all. :)

No, really... that is his real name!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Taking a TV and Comic Break.

High school swimming is underway and we will hit our first races tonight. Other than that, the swimming world is just waking up from a nice, long nap. What have I been doing with my spare time?...


We rented the first two seasons of Mad Men on DVD. My wife and I have gone through the marathon of 28 episodes to catch up and finally we can watch the new ones without feeling lost. I think everything about the show is brilliant... so it was cool to see the recent USA Today article saying that the world of the Madison Avenue ad execs in the '60's was very much like the show, and maybe even more so.

Then I saw the big news... Marvel Comics, Inc. was just bought out by Disney. This is huge. I only hope that it does not mean a compromise in the quality of Marvel. The Marvel character based movies are finally starting to get the whole superhero thing right. The Disney deal will hopefully give them the resources to take it into a whole new realm of fanboy heaven. Maybe they will have the nuggets now to finally make a real Daredevil movie. My Viking sense is buzzing over this, in a good way.

...and hey, if Stan "The Man" Lee says it's a good thing, I am gonna go into it with a good feeling. He just makes me want to dress up and fight crime. Ya know what I'm sayin'?

Excelsior, True Believers!


Monday, August 31, 2009

Don't ever underestimate a 4th grade sense of humor.

Today was my first day with a new group of 4th graders coming over to swim as a part of a PE unit. 4th grade is fun because they remember me from the third grade unit and I can have a little bit of fun joking and messing around with them. Some of them can tell when I am joking before I let them in on it, but the ones who think I'm serious give me some great reactions when they finally realize what's going on. For instance, when I go over the facility rules, I like to say things like "Did you see the no smoking signs in the locker room? We caught a third grader last week smoking cigarettes under water and we had to call the police."

Sometimes I even tell them I don't actually know how to swim but I have read lots of books about it.
It takes them a little while to put it together and see my sense of humor for what it is, but they always get it by the end of the week.

Today I was lining the class up and making them stand like soldiers while I wrote their names on my chart. One boy, a really skinny little blonde guy, was playing around like his arm had a mind of it's own. While the rest of the class was frozen really well, he would move his right arm up, and then act like he was trying to hold it down with his left.

I thought I was being clever when I put on my best Texas tough guy accent and said "Son, I'm about to bite that wiggly arm off! You better keep it still!"

I am not kidding... he looked right at me, looked himself up and down, and then said, "Oh well. At least I'm fat free."

HA! I am gonna make it a point to email and ask his teacher if the hyper little bugger is that quick witted all the time. His parents must be proud.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Roman Sludnov is back in the water!

I drove to Springfield last week for the MSHSAA rules meeting and got lucky. First, the greatest thing that tech suits have ever done: it was the first rules meeting I had ever attended where we didn't talk ad nauseum about jewelry. Yay!

Second, I went early to pick up some touchpads at Missouri State University and caught Roman Sludnov after his last swim before moving away. The first time I interviewed him he said he might consider training for the next Olympics if he thought he could find some change to bring him into the 58 range. He actually said he was surprised in Beijing that a 59 wasn't an automatic medal. When the suits were taken away he was the first person I wanted to hear from. With all of the new names hitting 58 and 59 recently with fancypants on, it will be interesting to see how the landscape changes and which names will disappear versus who can keep up in the move back to skin. He is one of the few who has been under a minute in the 100m breaststroke without tech. It was a thrill to get to hear what he had to say now that FINA has made the big decision.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

High School Suits and MSU's New Conference

I am not quite sure how it all works, but the high schools decided to ban suits and apparently the states each get to decide if they are going along with the decision...?! After the announcement was made, our advisory committee rep sent out an email asking for input about what Missouri should do. According to the Texas Swimming Blog, they have decided to play along. I am sure Missouri will too, although I know a few of the coaches on the advisory committee who really liked the suits. I guess we shall see.

In other big news, mid-major division 1 swimming just went through a major overhaul when Missouri State, Southern Illinois and Evansville (the former Missouri Valley Conference teams) announced they are leaving the Sunbelt to join the MAC. Last year, the MAC and Sunbelt swam the same championship, but scored out separately, which I have to admit was strange. It is good that the two are split again. I guess the only thing that makes me sad about it is that Denver and Western Kentucky had become such great rivals for my MSU Bears. Also, with former MSU assistant Randy Horner heading New Orleans in their reinstatement and return to their home pool, they added something special to the Sun Belt as an up-and-coming powerhouse and potential rival for Jack Steck's Bears Squad. Randy is a hell of a recruiter and I see great things in their future.

Oh well... I think this will end up being a good move for both conferences. I really felt that the wierd, two conference scoring last year helped my Bears get beat by Denver. No hard feelings though. Both teams swam out of their mind fast. If you don't follow the mid-majors much, you really need to check out last year's results. It was a great meet, and it looks like it will now go back to being two great meets.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Odin gets Onion-ized

From Wikipedia:

Odin
(pronounced /ˈoʊdɨn/ from Old Norse Óðinn), is considered the chief god in Norse paganism. His name is related to ōðr, meaning "fury, excitation", besides "mind", or "poetry". His role, like many of the Norse gods, is complex. He is associated with wisdom, war, battle, and death, and also magic, poetry, prophecy, victory, and the hunt.

Odin had three residences in Asgard. First was Gladsheim, a vast hall where he presided over the twelve Diar or Judges, whom he had appointed to regulate the affairs of Asgard. Second, Valaskjálf, built of solid silver, in which there was an elevated place, Hlidskjalf, from his throne on which he could perceive all that passed throughout the whole earth. Third was Valhalla (the hall of the fallen), where Odin received the souls of the warriors killed in battle, called the Einherjar. The souls of women warriors, and those strong and beautiful women whom Odin favored, became Valkyries, who gather the souls of warriors fallen in battle (the Einherjar), as these would be needed to fight for him in the battle of Ragnarök. They took the souls of the warriors to Valhalla. Valhalla has five hundred and forty gates, and a vast hall of gold, hung around with golden shields, and spears and coats of mail.

Odin has a number of magical artifacts associated with him: the spear Gungnir, which never misses its target; a magical gold ring (Draupnir), from which every ninth night eight new rings appear; and two ravens Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory), who fly around Earth daily and report the happenings of the world to Odin in Valhalla at night. He also owned Sleipnir, an octopedal horse, who was given to Odin by Loki, and the severed head of Mímir, which foretold the future. He also commands a pair of wolves named Geri and Freki, to whom he gives his food in Valhalla since he consumes nothing but mead or wine. From his throne, Hlidskjalf (located in Valaskjalf), Odin could see everything that occurred in the universe. The Valknut (slain warrior's knot) is a symbol associated with Odin. It consists of three interlaced triangles.

---------
Yeah, I am into Norse Mythology, and I think the Thor comics rock. That is why I had the pic of Odin on the throne framed and hung above my toilet for a couple of years. It makes this Onion radio gag that much more funny.


Monday, August 10, 2009

What are the high schools gonna do?

I received a very strange email (while I was on my way-too-short vacation,) from our local coach rep on the Missouri high school swimming advisory committee. It was a forward from the MSHSAA swimming office:

I hope to get confirmation from the NFHS this afternoon regarding the action of the Swimming Rules Committee today, along with final rule wording, if they indeed pass a change. If a change takes place, I will be forwarding you the new rule wording along with any decision options that Missouri needs to make. The NFHS will allow some flexibility in the implementation of this new change, if passed, that we may or may not desire. That is what we’ll need to discuss. I know I’m being vague right now, and I apologize, but this is an extremely long story and if they make no change today, this is all moot anyway, at least for another year. So…. I’ll shoot you some information as SOON as I get it, although I’m not sure when that will be. My guess is that you’ll hear from me again on Monday, probably by email, and I’ll call you as needed.

Stacy at MSHSAA does an amazing job, but I feel for her in this situation. She is obviously doing the best she can with what she has been given. I was hoping for a little more info.

The email went on to ask for input from coaches in our area. Now that I am back from my trip and plugged into the plasmapheresis machine, I have had time to look up some swimming news. According to Amy Shipley at reachforthewall here and here, it seems that the NFHS is considering allowing suits to ankles so long as they meet the FINA definition of textile.

Now, I understand that the high school federation wants to steer their own ship. I get that they don’t want to just blindly follow USA Swimming and all of their rules changes. I also understand that there are several things that need to be different organizationally and in spirit… but in the water, to push against the current has great potential to hurt kids. This is one of those times that the NFHS could cause a gigantic problem if they don’t play along.

Here are my guesses:
1) They might be considering a middle-of-the-road date to phase out tech, which is a problem because each state competes at different seasons during the year. The states who swim in the fall would get to keep long suits while other states would be SOL. I doubt that will happen, but January 1st would be a disaster for high school swimming.
2) When they say that there may be some flexibility, I imagine that it means that they will set a minimum standard that is less restrictive than FINA’s guidelines, and that each state might have the freedom to vote to make their own rules more restrictive. .. but that wouldn’t really solve anything. They would be trying to make both sides happy, and that would really make no one happy unless they only suit they own is the FS1 legskin.

Even if Missouri were to choose to follow USA Swimming’s lead and swim in textile with proper length restrictions so that they could maintain their USA meet sanction for approved swims, at the national level the all-america list would still be a mess, and recruiting will be crazy. The NFHS needs to follow the other major swimming organizations and set their restrictions from the top, and start them right now. The middle is too muddy, and waiting around makes it harder to clean up. I would rather see them completely buck the tide and embrace tech than see them try to compromise and end up drawing flak from both ends.

Oh yeah… and then they have to decide if they are going to move into the realm of asterisks. Good luck with that one!

I will be patiently waiting for my next vague email.




Saturday, August 1, 2009

Are you feeling me?...


Ya know that feeling?…

That feeling you get when you just did something amazing at a swim meet? A lot of you know what I am talking about, I‘m sure.


It is that indescribable feeling you get as you tuck into your hotel bed at night and your shaved legs feel so strange as they touch the sheets. When it is time to sleep but your heart is still racing because you can’t contain the thrill of how awesome you are for just performing better than your best…

It’s the confidence that burns inside you because your weekend is off to a great start and you just can’t wait for your next race to see how far into "uncharted territory" you can take it…

It's the beaming smile that makes it hard to eat your dinner even though you are crazy hungry, and the giddiness that comes from joking around with your team during down time; when you just feel so “on“… so connected.

I wouldn’t know how to describe it to a non-swimmer. I can’t help but wonder how many people have never had the chance to feel so charged.


I felt a little bit of that today. I am at a summer league championship meet and my athletes have done well on their first day. I am going to bed tonight feeling some of their charge with them. I have heard world class coaches describe the look on an athlete’s face after they have done something beyond what they thought they were capable of. It is that very look that keeps so many of us coaches at it even when there are so little other payoffs to a lifelong coaching career.


I told my assistant coaches tonight that I can attest that it is the same at age 21 as it is at age 8. You do better when you are having fun, and it is easy to have fun when you are swimming well. I want my swimmers to have fun first and foremost. Having fun and working hard are not exclusive of one another. If swimming fast is fun, I guess I am just trying to make sure they are having more fun than everyone else, right?


I can only imagine what it has been like to try to get a normal night’s sleep after breaking a world record in Rome this weekend. I have to wonder: Does Michael Phelps really get that same feeling that my summer leaguers get? Does he have a hard time sleeping after a great swim? Does the excitement make you hyper after you go a 49 in the 100m fly the same way it does for my 10 year old who dropped two seconds to swim a 36 in the 50y back and earn a medal in the finals?

I can tell you every detail of my 50y fly that was such a blur at age 10... That was the swim that made me really fall in love with swimming at the Alaska JO’s… the same way I can tell you every vivid detail of my 200 breast when I won my university conference championship. For me it has been the same. Will masters nationals carry the same thrill if I ever get to compete there some day?

I love to imagine that Michael Phelps, Aaron Peirsol, Ariana Kukors, and all of the other athletes who have put on such an amazing show this week are going to bed with that feeling tonight. I like to think that even at the highest levels, it is not about suits and sponsorships… not about newspaper articles and paychecks. I consider myself a purist because I like to dream that our best and brightest still get that thrill. I like to think that is why they have stayed in it long enough to reach their true potential and keep improving upon it. It brings me comfort to think that even they still feel the joy of a 10 year old every time they swim a big personal best.

I hope I get to see that look on my daughter’s faces someday. I hope that every athlete I ever coach gets a moment that makes them feel this at some point before they hang up their suits. I hope that I can still catch a little bit of it every time I set my coaching bag down in my hotel room and crash hard in my hotel bed, just waiting to see what my athletes are capable of tomorrow.

But most of all… I hope I can feel this way until the end of my career and tell stories about it until I no longer draw breath on this earth.


I love this sport.