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.


  1. than you for this : i am totally fed up by craig lord aka lord voldemord

  2. oh snap! that's what my law school friends would call a good lawyering - in your face with fact-checking

  3. Lord Voldemort! What is truly about his "stream of consciousness writing, refusal to link to a source reference, and generally sloppy work is that we still read it.

  4. Well...
    What about all the total unkowns that broke championship records. 200 Breatstroke for men was the worst experience i have had watching a swim mett. When 1-4 guys break the fastet time ever at WC in 4 or 5 heats in a row, you can't claim that total unknowns aren't doing great times.
    The best tend to be the best but the number of swimmers that suddenly have broken into the top 20 all time in the world that will never be in the top 20 after 2009 is going to be a long list.

  5. Absolutely beautiful Chris. This is just great stuff. And to think we're allowed to post COMMENTS here. Not like some other sites which shall go unnamed. Can you say COWARDS?

  6. Just wondering : did everyone TRY one of the shiny suits ? Or are you all just looking at the times ?
    Fact is (regardless whether you find it good or bad) the suits do help A LOT.
    I bought a Jaked just because i wanted to know how it felt and it did make me faster. I even broke an all-time PB on the 50breast, lowering it from 29.68 (from the time i was swimming 20+ hours a week at PSV Eindhoven at the age of 28y) to 29.16 while i MIGHT swim once or twice a week right now (i'm 35 now).
    I do agree that the winners would probably been up there with or without the suits and the stories about the swimmers doing it 'out of the blue' are getting old/annoying, but don't forget that the suit do help. And they seem to help those with less technique/stamina more then those who were great before. So you might not win gold because of the suit, but it might make you finalist or even a medalist...

  7. I agree that some "unknowns" went best times, but there weren't really any unknowns winning at this meet. The few that you could argue were surprises (Kukors, Spofforth), you could easily find at any World Championship or Olympic games over the past 20 years.

    Thanks for the comments guys!

  8. Is it so hard to believe that these other swimmers might just be getting better? Sure a population of them are 'unknowns', but it isn't exactly like the best of each event is swimming. If the US and all other major players had brought National Teams, do you think most of these unknowns would be finaling? No offense to our Youth Team, but there is a difference on the guys side between the two National Teams and if the N.T. showed up, some of the Y.T. would not be bringing back hardware. Nice swimming by the Y.T. by the way, great representation.

    There are how many billion people in the this world, and although a small percentage of them are in elite swimming, we cannot keep track of them all. How does an up and comer make a name for themselves, they have to have a break through swim as Chris spoke about. It would be like an Age Grouper finally breaking the 1:00 barrier in the 100FR and suddenly is at a :57 at their next meet. Obviously cheaters right Craig?

    Just because someone is not a household name in Swimming or American born, does not mean they could not swim to these times.

    I, for the record, am glad we are back in the textile age. But I have a hard time with the people at SwimNews slinging cow pies at anyone that isn't established. Do you have to swim with people pulling on the rope in the opposite direction or swim in a suit drag suit with pockets at World Record speed?

  9. Absolutely briliant. I wish that there is a way that we can link this to the original runting.

  10. A little SwimNews.com screenshot I took...


  11. suitwars-- the pic is brilliant. let's get together some time. i have some ideas you might be able to help me flesh out.

  12. Chris, your little list is woefully shy of the full extent of what happened in shiny suit times. Lord and SwimNews have done brilliant work in keeping track of aberration after aberration. You should be big enough to admit it. Right now, you look like a sore loser.

  13. Sore loser? I'm not even mad that we changed things. I'm totally fine with it. If you've read anything or saw me on split time today, you would know I'm already fired up about just how fast the "textile" era already is. I'm mad that Craig Lord belittles the efforts of some of the best athletes in our sport.

    No surprise that your comment was anonymous.

  14. Remember, Nick and Craig have been covering this sport longer than anyone on this site has been alive(the original swim news outlet).
    They have their points, and a lot of them are right, and some a little over the top.

    I will say, that before we all go over the top, including swim news, everyone should wait to see what happens in REAL swimming aka: Long Course Swimming. See how many records are broken these next two summers.

    How many swimmers are going to have to "step it up" to get back on even footing. It will happen, just how long will it take, and how much more work will have to go in.....thats what I like.

    Right now all short yards/meters are being swum. We all can get stronger and more power from wall to wall, especially High School Boys and University Boys. What would have been nice is to see everyone swim LCM right now to see what is "really" going on......

    I think we can reach the "all time" short course times because of strength increases.

    What is going to be interesting is to see how the Long Course rankings reflect vs. the shiny suit era of the next two years and see these "unknown" swimmers take hold and try to duplicate their times.....which they can do if they have the proper TEAM Support(Phyio, nutrition, Swim coach, Dryland coach...etc) around them.

    I think coaching and conditioning will take a higher priority than it did the last couple years, thats for sure.

    All coaches need to step up and learn from the past to make our athletes better. We can learn from the past and put it into our current training......Body postition.

    Great site Screaming Viking aka "The SMSU 1993 Green Weiner Winner"

  15. Oh snap, you just got outted SV. Burn!

    There is some truth to what you are saying about LCM. However a lot of the meets are the same overall from last year (SCY State Champs). It is what we have to go by here because the fall/winter is SC season. Granted kids are supposed to improve, but there was not a step back which many people thought was going to take place, including myself. It looks as though kids are already stepping it up and making up for the lack of fast suits. It is bringing back a more serious attitude to the sport and training for it.

    I whole heartedly agree that coaches will have to step it up. Those that don't are too stubborn to realize the importance of technique and body position in the water. Unfortunately their swimmers will suffer for it.

  16. "I really wish Craig (or Nick) would stop trotting out greats like Cecil to bolster their point."

    Dear misguided Chris,

    Don't be silly. Why not call Cecil and ask him why his piece was posted. He will confirm for you that he ASKED if I would post his piece. He and many the "greats" are there because they asked to be there...not because we asked them to be there.

    Many of the podium placers at Olympics and worlds who stood up and spoke out against the suits sought me out, sent me e-mails. I did not need to prompt them, neither did Nick. Same goes for some of the greats of the sport from former times, and many of the world's leading coaches, some of them very close to you.

    Your list is fascinating - in what it chooses to avoid. It could be knocked down by a feather: it is not about the swimmer being knocked...it is about the suit that alters the evenness of things and helps to produce off-the-chart times that no-one can put down to anything other than a suit. Of course many of these swimmers were and are established stars....that misses the point, unless you really, truly, hand-on heart think that Paul is that much better than Michael, faster himself than Thorpey by more than a second over the last 50m, faster than Hackett by 2.3sec over the last 100m of a 400m.

    Admit it, the suits were a disaster when it came to believing in a result - and some results were simply unreal. The truth was plain to see, and the stats are overwhelming, right down to 300 deep and more on the world rankings.

    Regards, Craig Lord (yes, the real one)

    p.s you look uncannily like Sir John yon Viking...just not quite as good-looking...i think its the hair

  17. Thanks for the response Craig.

    Maybe its possible this has all been a misunderstanding. I have never and will never maintain that the times we saw are directly comparable to a previous era. You are right that you cannot use the times to tell you whether Biedermann is better than Thorpe over 400m. I think you can correctly deduce with your eyes that Biedermann is not.

    I gather from reading your response that we're not really arguing with each other. You agree that the swimmers I listed were established- I agree that the times of 2008-2009 made it impossible to compare to any previous era of swimming.

    I'm sorry for miscategorizing the manner in which your material appears on the site. I do believe that people sought you out to publish this. I look forward to continuing to read your writing (as I have been for the past eleven years).


  19. Unless I'm mistaken, it was Nadja Higl who won the women's 200 Breast in Rome, wasn't it???

    Sorry for the late post...