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.