Thursday, June 30, 2011

Some Nighttime Snack Inspiration

Tonight's Nighttime Snack comes to us by way of guest submission. If you're looking for some inspiration after my depressing start to this series, look no further. Today's story comes to us from Nick:

This is not a picture of Nick, FYI

It's 2008, the month is August. For the last two years, World of Warcraft has been  the end-all, be-all of my life. In fact, you know the face hugger from the Alien movies? That is WoW for me. But for the last month, I've been cold turkey. It hasn't been easy. I go to sites like and feebly talk about how much my post-WoW life sucks and what a black crater WoW has left. Wowdetox is a place people go to to say things like, "I'm still playing, even though my dog died last week, and I regret not playing more with him... :(" You get the picture.  
I'm about to relapse, but first I decide to give this Beijing Opening Ceremony thing a watch. Pundits and commentators have been making a furor about China hosting the Olympics. The opening ceremony will be massive, militaristic, vaguely fascistic, they say... and I think, "Good!" I like massive, militaristic, vaguely fascistic displays. What else am I supposed to think when so many opening ceremonies as of late have sucked?! Athens, oh god, Athens!  

I watch, impressed, as a bunch of gray computerized boxes rise up and down in one, big pixelated motion. Then the commotion stops and performers emerge out of the top of each box and wave at the audience. It's not computerized! I'm hooked. World of Warcraft recedes from my mind and August 2008 becomes the month that my eyes are glued to the Olympics.  

The 2008 Olympics were, I think everyone would agree, extraordinary. In particular, I was riveted watching Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor dominate beach volleyball. Misty May. Misty Maaaaay! Of course, Usain Bolt becoming the Fastest Man in the World cannot be forgotten. And Nastia Liukin in the Gymnastics, where I wondered over and over again how she did that thing with her wrists on the high bar.  

It was the swimming, in particular, that I fell for. I cheered on Dara Torres in her quest for gold, groaned when she lost for a filed fingernail. I scared my dog out of the room when I hollered at Jason Lezak to go faster, to somehow do some magic in that water, appreciating nothing of the effort and celestial-object-moving willpower it takes to summon something like that in the last 25 meters of a 100 free. Tired of losing, indeed.  

But just as one sport dominated my Olympics-viewing, it was one athlete in that sport who was front-and-center. Michael Phelps went for 8 golds and he got them all. Unfortunately, I was spoiled by a news site that Phelps won the 100 fly, but all the way up to that race, and the one after it, I was as nervous as anyone else. "Can he really do it? Get 8? Beat Spitz?"  

He did it. And in the process, I fell in love with swimming. I didn't know anything about the sport, I was just like anyone else who watched the races, looking at these athletes and saying, "I can do that!" but then discovering later on that they make it look so easy. But as the rest of the months of 2008 passed and most Olympics viewers had already forgot about swimming, I remembered. At the time, I was six feet tall and 240 pounds. It was time to lose those extra pounds, I decided. I signed up for a community college's swim team.  

I remember imagining that the people on the swim team were going to be like, "Who the hell is this fat, hairy doofus to just waltz on a swim team with no experience at all?!" Joining a swim team was actually something I had wanted to do in high school, or at least I had a vague idea that I wanted to do something water-related because I knew I loved the water. But what held me back was my fear that I wouldn't be able to improve at all because of my hearing impairment. *cue one-note piano key music* I thought I would just be an all-around nuisance to whatever coaches I had, as they bellowed to be heard by me.  

As I soon discovered, swim coaches really don't mind increasing their decibels. And my first coach, in particular, didn't find my hearing impairment a nuisance at all. In fact, he went so far as to get a little whiteboard and write sets on it in front of me with a marker. But that was just at the beginning... he and I both soon discovered that I could hear well enough if I just paid attention.  
And my teammates embraced me with open arms, even if they had years more experience than I did. So there you go! Every one of my fears about going on a swim team were absolutely unfounded. And by the second time wearing it, I got pretty used to the swim brief, too.

Collegeswimming Doin' Work

It's kind of hard for me to imagine a time without The website is by far the go to resource for information on college swimming teams, meet results, and runs an awesome recruiting service. There are many things that Collegeswimming does that are a service to the sport in general. Earlier this year we highlighted their "Assistant Coach of the Year" award. Today, they released their nationwide recruiting class rankings for men after posting the women yesterday.

Both awards fill a huge void in the swimming world. Too often, our sport isn't presented in a way that can make any sense to your average person. For years, assistant coaches have been almost entirely anonymous. A few stuck out here and there, but usually for the fact that they had stayed in the same place for extended periods of time and had tremendous success (see Kris Kubik and Harvey Humphries). In any other year, very few people outside of their conferences would have seen or known what an awesome job Derek Perkins or Joe Hendee, this year's winners, did this year. The award gives ADs, fans and swimmers a sense of who is really well respected by their peers. It only helps.

The recruiting rankings are even more effective. When someone says they signed a top 100 football recruit, even casual fans have a sense of what that means. Having the #13 ranked recruiting class in the country means something to most everyone, even if they haven't seen a stroke of butterfly. When the men's rankings came out this year, I guarantee you most of the schools that found themselves ranked are shouting it as loud as they can. Here at Georgia Tech we found ourselves at #6, and that information was in our university's presidents hands within the hour. Why shouldn't it be?

So go ahead over to the lists and then come back to tell us what you think. Just don't make fun of Missouri State's A- ranking in the MAC. The Viking definitely thinks it should have been an A+

Another Swim Beginning: Viking is Now a Swim Dad

This is not my kid.  I would not let her wear one of those ridiculous caps.  I would trade the shark fin and googly eyes for horns.

My relationship with the sport of swimming has once again taken a new direction. I am officially a swim dad. My four year old daughter had her first swim practice last night. It was in-water lessons, but still it was during my practice and therefore her swim team career has officially begun.  It was hard to coach when I wanted to be on her end of the pool so badly to watch.

I have often wondered during arguments with swim parents if I would act crazy if it was my kid at the center of the discussion. I used to worry that when my kids started swimming I might instantly lose my ability to see things clearly and start thinking my 8 and under is on a critical path to Olympic glory.  I figured it was some kind of a hormone that is released at sign-up night that turns an otherwise normal person into a pushy excellence junkie who is blinded to the fact that their kid isn't really that talented and doesn't really work that hard, becomes hell bent on standing up for their child's right to win everything all the time, and helps their child to escape blame and responsibility for everything.

Not that I have anything against swim parents.  99.9% are awesome… but every coach out there has had a few doozies.  I mean, we've all had someone accuse us of trying to use our athletes to help sell crack to elementary school kids.  Right? Thank goodness she couldn’t prove it, eh?

My wife seems to think I won't be able to contain myself when it comes to my kids’ swimming.  She feels the need to constantly keep my enthusiasm in check.  I don’t think I’m gonna have a problem at all. So what if I was thrilled that both of my girls had gigantic hands and feet when they were born?  Who cares that I drool when my girls show me how well they can point their big floppy toes?  Why is it a problem if the only bouncy balls my girls have to play with are 25 pound medicine balls?  And why is it weird that my girls have an opinion on Phelps' performance at Santa Clara?  They have an opinion on Rainbow Brite too.  Plus, I know I am not the only parent out there who has scoured the internet looking for the LZR in a 3T.  Everybody does that, right? I am pretty sure I can keep it in perspective, even when I am in the bleachers at the trials and both of my kids make the Olympic team before they graduate high school.  I am so not gonna freak out about it and rub it in everyone's faces like all those other parents would.

I am glad my princess had fun with her first swim team experience.  As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’m going to be the problem.  I might have to actually hold her back a little.  When I was tucking my daughter into bed, the conversation went like this:

Daughter:  "Do I have swim practice tomorrow?"
Dad:  "Yes you do.  Do you want to swim tomorrow?"
Daughter:  "I like it. I want to swim every day."
Dad: “What was your favorite part?"
Daughter: "Kickboards."
Dad:   "High five!  Yeah!”
Daughter:  "Are you going to wake me up early in the morning to take me to your pool?"
Dad: "No. Why would you ask that?"
Daughter:  "That's when you wake up at 5 in the morning to go to practice."
Dad: "But your practice is at night."
Daughter: "But I want to go in the morning and at night every day."
Dad: "Oh. That is a big commitment and you just aren't ready for that yet.  You just learned how to get your face wet without crying last week."
Daughter: "But some kiddos do!"
Dad: "Yes, but they are bigger than you.  Sweetheart, you are not big enough to start double practices yet."
Daughter:  "Maybe when I am five years old?"
Mom: "Sure. Maybe. Just don't mention that to your mom, okay?  She might think it was my idea."

Oh, man... I am in for a wild ride.  I may need to get advice from some other swim parents.  That is gonna be weird.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Swim Beginnings: The Viking

I had to slash my way through the forest to get to swim practice every morning. You can't see it, but I am standing on a grizzly bear I had just killed for almost making me late.

How did I start swimming? Well, the way everyone in Petersburg, Alaska did: through elementary school classes. This was the reason our little tiny island of 3000 people tucked away in the Tongass National Rainforest constantly developed good swimmers. Our school started their talent selection process in Pre-K. Russia modeled their sports school system after us. Seriously. We had a great thing going up there. 

Of course we were more hardcore than the Russians. My first actual swim team practice was at 5:30 in the morning. I am not exaggerating. I got my 8 year old butt out of bed and walked through the snow and darkness almost a mile to the pool just for a chance to try out. You see, for a short while our town actually had two swim clubs and the one I tried first was only able to secure pool time before school.

The Vikings were the established club that started when the pool was built in 1974 and was coached by the school swim teacher. The other was the Porpoises, which was started by the families who were mad at that coach and thought they could do it better. Why? Well, don’t quote me on this because I am not sure of the details, but I heard it was because he accidentally said a bad word in front of one of the kids once and that prompted our little seasonal-affective town to split down the middle. The weirdest part is, the families who split off were mostly fishing families. It’s not like those guys never cuss, right? Seriously, spend one week out long-lining for halibut and you will be a lifetime potty mouth with no chance for rehabilitation. You haven't been really cussed at until you have had your butt chewed by a 70 year old fisherman who swears in a Norwegian/English slurry.

I only showed up for the Porpoises’ practice one time. I wasn’t quite ready to give up my incredibly successful T-ball pitching career yet. (Really. I was the pitcher because, you know… they control the game.) It wasn’t too long after that I came back to swimming. The coach for the Vikings, Chris Erickson, stopped me on the steps of the playground and said “Hey. You need to be on swim team. You could be pretty good.” That’s all it took: someone showed a little interest and opened the door. Suddenly the pool-rat/t-ball hero became a real swim-teamer.

The weekend that is the most crystal clear for me regarding my initial love of racing was my first real championship at age 10 in Anchorage. JO’s was the Alaska age group state meet and I had huge time drops to pick up 2nd place in the 50 fly (to Eric VanDyke with a 34.85-- yes, I still remember the time) and 4th in the 50 free. I can still see the blurry T at the end of the lane and I can still picture looking around and not seeing the usual guys ahead of me.  It felt so damn good to swim fast, even without goggles back in the day! I bet I looked at those results on the wall a hundred times that weekend just because I could not believe how awesome I was. Even more important to the story is that the friends I made on that weekend from all over the state ended up being friends for life. One was even my college roommate during my freshman year at MSU. Alaska swimming really found ways to bring kids together to get to know each other.

My start in the sport was the beginning of many beautiful friendships… and to be honest, I am still making new friends in this sport every week with swimmers, parents, coaches and fans. What an awesome sport to be a part of.

View From The Stands

The following blog is not, in fact, written by Chris DeSantis, as blogger may indicate. We are still working on getting Lisa Stephens up with access to the blog. Please excuse our technical difficulties.

So Huey, Duey and Louie and asked me to blog with them and I've agreed.  Since accepting I was hoping for (at the bare minimum) a large Edibles basket delivered to my door or tickets to the 400IM final in London but since I don't think that will be happening, I assure you, I'm just happy to have a forum for swim fans to have a voice here on Swim Brief.

So who am I?  I'm not a swimmer.  I never was a swimmer.  At my age I certainly will never be a swimmer.  I am a fan and a swim mom.  My professional swim experience is limited to teaching 3-4 year olds "Water is Fun!" at Camp JCC in Wisconsin in the mid 80's.  (If you were one of my students please get in touch with me here.  I'd love to know if you now swim at the elite level thanks to my tutelage.)  But I love swimming.  Swimming is my sport.  So my blogs will be from a fan's perspective.  There are many others (including the 3 Ding Dongs that write for this blog) who do a fantastic job at hard-hitting analysis so I'm going to keep letting them do that.  This will be something different. 

Full disclosure: I was nervous to enter their contest and I'm not one to get scared off very easily.  I had 3 babies in 3 minutes (yes, triplets)- so I have plenty of balls- but the world of swimming isn't that big and, let's face it,  it can be a little insular.  Most people who write about swimming have swum competitively at some point and are usually still involved in the sport as a coach or commentator.   Honestly, it's intimidating because you, the fan, don't want to be seen as some kind of shmuck.  Well, guess what.  I'm here to tell you you're not. You're smart.  If you weren't you wouldn't follow a sport that requires you to understand decimals (Phelps beats Cavic in .01 seconds) and you have to have a basic understanding of geometry:  arms need to be in a horizontal plane.  In other sports you just have to add.  One team scores 3 and the other team scores 4.  The team with 4 wins. ( I'm being overly-simplistic here but you get my point.)  Lactic acid?  Maybe you don't know what it is and why it's important but you know give a poo enough to find out. Does that make you not legit?  No, just the opposite.  It means you care.  It means you're a good FAN.  Not everyone can be Chris DeSantis and know everything about everything.  Some of us just have to try harder. 

So let's make it rain, party people.  I still plan on making good my promise/threat to write a 10,000 word blog entry titled, "Ryan Lochte's Speedo Colors" that the guys WILL publish along with the 765 pictures I attach.  I've already had a request to do a blog on our fabulous Team USA women who are bad-ass -to-the-max that I can't wait to write.   Thanks to everyone who read my contest entry and commented, 'liked' and racked up views.   If you have any ideas you want me to write about let me know: or @fortomorrow10 on twitter.  Please 'like' us, follow us, tell fellow swim fans!!!  We've got some things in the works for you guys;  some contests and fun stuff.  I think I've convinced Gustafson to do a kissing booth at Trials with proceeds going to Make a Splash and the Swim Brief bar bill.  Will keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nighttime Snack: Swim Beginnings

An approximation of my freestyle for the first 5 years of my swimming career

Over the next couple days, we're going to be posting some stories about beginnings in the sport of swimming. One will be long form by Lisa Stephens tomorrow, the rest of the Swim Brief crew will be checking in by these Nighttime Snacks. As executive omnipotent editor in chief, I thought I'd post mine first. Take that, everybody else!

I started swimming at nine years old because my best friend asked me to do it during recess. He was the kind of guy who excelled at every sport. I was the guy who's Little League baseball coach once mandated that our entire team would stay at practice until I connected with one of his meatball lobs for a hit. He soon came to regret this decision when practice ran an hour late. My biggest memories from starting swimming was getting my butt kicked by girls half my size and having a splitting headache. At my first meet I swam a 100 IM and panicked when I got to the back to breast turn- what was I supposed to do? I think I did a 180 degree turn in the lane without touching the wall. When the official dq'd me, I was pissed! Why didn't she just tell me how to do my turn properly? I forgave, but never forgot.

Do you have a great memory from starting swimming? We might be interested! Check out our post earlier today about the open submissions to The Swim Brief and your story could be featured right here!

Announcement: Open Submissions Policy!

We realized during our blog contest in June 2011 that there are a lot of swimmers, swim fans and coaches out there who have great things to contribute to a swim-based site like ours.  We have had fun reading submissions and offering critiques.  We also appreciate the increased sense of community that seems to have come from welcoming guest bloggers to the site.  We love the interaction.
Every contest submission we received, even the ones not quite ready for prime time, had their own unique perspective and had something to offer that will resonate with our audience.

Our regular bloggers have an expectation of consistent posting and will have to put up with our crap constantly through ridiculously long strings of emails, but you, should you choose to accept the offer, can contribute to our site and have your work read with nothing more than a pre-screening by The Swim Brief crew.  Essentially, this is our official announcement that we are starting an open submissions policy.

There are great voices out there who need to be heard and we want this website to be a swim community labor of love.  If you think you have something to say, please email us at with a quick bio to explain your "angle" and a draft of the article you want to submit.  We may offer you a critique; we may ask you for another draft, or we may say "you nailed it and you are ready to post."  Please understand, we can't just post everything that is submitted, but we may be able to help you sharpen your tools and grow as a writer to contribute in the future.  Feel free to use your own name or come up with a persona.  Swim fans are the best, and we would love to showcase your love for the sport through our site.

Also, if you post guest blogs frequently enough, we will put your bio on our guest blogger page right alongside Tom Duke and Ritchie MP Cummins.  Jeah!

Drunk on Deck

"Now that I think about it, my age group coach when I was a kid sure seemed awful tired most of the time."

This Saturday morning at my summer league meet I saw one of those gigantic 64 ounce "cups" from the gas station that looks like a mini-cooler, requires two people to team lift and has been engineered to keep your drink cold until you retire.

"just plan on missing about half of your swimmers' races today for pee breaks."

It reminded me of the first summer league meet I coached way back when I was still trying to decide if this is what I really want to do with my life. One of the swim moms brought me one of those jugs after warmup and said "you're gonna need this.".

I said thanks and took a sip after she walked away. IT WAS BEER! Pffft!!$@*#. Wow. What an eye opener.

So then all of a sudden, there I was, questioning everything I ever knew about my past coaches. Have they been drunk on deck all this time and I never noticed? Was all that talk about excellence just a front to make them sound more sober? If I choose this career path am I doomed to a life of alcoholism? Is the coaching life just one big giant party? ...or did I just cross paths with the greatest swim mom of all time?

Of course, the lady who handed me the gallon of beer was an anomaly. That doesn't happen all the time. I have never been drunk on deck and never will, so please don't think I condone that kind of behavior. I didn't even drink the huge beer that day because I was too scared some kid would come up and say "you smell like my mom" and that would open up a whole other can of worms. And I am pretty sure none of my coaches were ever drunk on deck either, unless they were girl-drink-drunks and were masking the scent with their coconut flavored sunblock.

"that lasht turn was horrible, and if I knew you were gonna pace it like a f@(c)ing a$$*£ole I wouldn't have bovthered to take shplits."

Of course, today at the coaches meeting one of my former swimmers stood next to me. He was a local summer league hero because he split 20 point on a relay at championships, now swims in college and is helping out with a rival summer league team. I couldn't resist asking if he had figured out the "coaches secret" yet.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

I motioned toward all of the coaches and officials in front of us and said "every single person under this tent right now is completely, ridiculously drunk. How can you not smell it?"

Then I added, "At hospitality be sure to tell them you are a coach and give a wink so you can get the good stuff."

He laughed. Obviously he knew I was kidding... but then he said "you won't believe this: one of my twelve year old boys is using a flask as a water bottle! I probably should go sniff it just to be sure, huh?"

"Yeah, dude..." I replied. "If it's alcohol, confiscate it and bring it to me. It's gonna be a long day."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Nighttime Snack: We Have a Winner

When we announced our contest to have a new blogger, I have to admit we were very nervous. Wechecked the swimbrief gmail account several times in the first hours. Nothing. We were very nervous- whar if no one ended up sending anything in? In the end, what we received was far beyond our expectations. We received a number of oustanding submissions, and while at this point we are gaining just one permanent member, there may be others from the submissions joining us in the future.

And so, without further ado, we are happy to add Lisa Stephens to the mix as a permanent Swim Brief blogger. We gave her the keys to castle this morning and she already has plans to renovate the whole place.  We greeted her with a mix of terror and admiration, which is how it should be, isn't it? Isn't it?

Swim Geekend

Weekends like this past one are a swim geek's paradise. When there is more than one meet going on, especially with one in Europe, there is always a fresh set of results to look forward to. Take it from a Swim Geek that's reached adulthood, however: it's not easy to track every single results. For those of you with a little less time on your hands, we present the "Swim Geekend". All the results you need to be conversational in Swim Geek in bite sized form. Let's begin in Europe:

Laszlo Cseh is still a poor man's Michael Phelps. He's good at so many things but won't be the best in the world at any of them. He set a Hungarian record in the 100 fly with a 51.98 this past weekend. Which is awesome but won't win him any medals at World's this summer. He's probably one of the top five overall swimmers in the entire world and yet may fail to medal this summer.

The other big story from out of Hungary is Bence Biczo. He went 1:54 in the 200 fly, which makes him the most exciting man in the pool of swimmers that might beat Phelps in a 200 fly. I'm going to call this the "Takeshi Matsuda Group" for now because Takeshi's been at it the longest. Biczo is the most exciting because Nick D'Arcy can't stay out of trouble, and he's still only a "junior" swimmer with a 1993 birth year.

The Paris Open should officially mark the return of irrational confidence in Cesar Cielo. He was 48.2 and 21.6. The meet had a ton of swims that raise eyebrows about swimmers preparation for these meets versus Shanghai Worlds. I mean, how much faster is Yannick Agnel going to be in the 200 free come August than the 1:45.5 he just went? Alexander Dale Oen nearly went faster than any American breaststroker last summer with a 1:00.33. Also, Matt Grevers beat Camille LaCourt, meaning that all is right in the backstroking world, except Grevers is not on the US World Championship squad.

Back in the US, they held the now extremely long named TYR Fran Crippen Swim Meet of Champions out in Mission Viejo. As you would expect a host of US contenders were on hand but there were relatively few relevant swims. with many swimmers at a crucial training point for Shanghai. Tyler Clary had a strong 200 back (1:56.2) but is still two seconds behind Ryosuke Irie, who has been a consistent 1:54 for months. Jason Lezak showed he can still sling a 49 in the 100 free whenever and remains a strong possibility to make another Olympic relay next summer at age 36.

That's our rundown? Feel like we missed something big? Show us up by posting it in the comments section!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MIdnight Snack: Death Race 2011. You May Die.

Think you’re a bad ass?  Then, go ahead… sign up for this year’s Death Race.  It’s this Saturday in Pittsfield, VT.  What are you waiting for?  If you don’t know what I am talking about, please check it out at  My friend Andy Weinberg, a former distance record holder at Missouri State, is one of the people who organizes this race-- if you want to call it a race.  The time does not matter.  It is all about survival. This race will test you, no matter who you are. Please watch the video made by the New York Times.  It will blow your mind.

While I have never signed up for the Death Race, I have liked them on facebook, and that means I get some of the messages they send out to all the crazy people who think they can do this.  I received the list the other day of things that competitors are expected to bring to the race, and they aren‘t things you would typically find in your swim bag (unless you are Jason Lezak, of course, because he might actually be this bad-ass):

1. Goggles
2. Dixon-Ticonderoga #2 Pencil
3. Hand Drill with 1/2 inch drill bit
4. Hand Saw
5. Tape Measure
6. Axe or Maul
7. 10' Section of Climbing Rope
8. Carabiner
9. One Twenty Dollar Bill
10. Two x One Dollar Bills

It is a special treat when Andy sends out his emails with messages like these:

Spotted some death racers in Pittsfield this weekend. Ray and Michelle were training most of the weekend and exploring some of the trails from previous years. John tackled the 53 mile course, finishing after dark. I saw him taking off again Sunday morning as the sun was coming up.


Live fish has been removed from the list. Note: There was no harm intended for your fish. We aren't that sadistic. I personally have 17 fish in my kids aquarium and a super cool BETA in the bathroom. I can assure you we had/have no intention of causing any stress or trauma to the fish. We do plan to cause mental, physical, and emotional stress to you but we don't mean no harm to the fish.

It is even more of a treat when Andy’s wife Sloan, (the funniest woman on facebook by the way,) sends out stuff like this:

This comes as sincere and positive as I can be... GIVE UP NOW!!! don't even come, saw Andy and Joe come in from last night course marking. They will break you! I was watching this morning "Hell Week" for Navy Seals, walk in the park compared to Deathrace! Sincerely, Wife of Deathrace...:)

Even if you don't think you can finish the race, at least give Spartan Death Race a like on facebook just to get the messages.  They need to make a reality show out of this race, don't ya think?

Why Does Brendan Hansen Play By Different Rules?

There is one interesting conversation still worth having from this past weekends Santa Clara Grand Prix. Lost amid all the great swims (can you believe I didn't mention Ariana Kukors? me neither) was the fact that Brendan Hansen was allowed to seed himself with three year old times to enter the meet. If you go to the meet information for the Grand Prix, it states pretty clearly that swimmers must have met the time standards during the qualification period, which starts January 1st. So what gives?

Well, somebody in charge made an executive decision that if you are an Olympic gold medalist, former world record holder, you can go ahead and seed with three year old times. I'm of the opinion that it was a good decision. I come from it as a fan- would you rather get to see Brendan Hansen swim at the big meet or not? Still, the implications of the decision don't reflect well on USA Swimming. The organization is already battling image problems on many fronts, several of which are at play here. USA Swimming seems to have invented rules to fit it's own interest here, while also valuing a big start over your age grouper.

The other reason it shouldn't matter too much is that Hansen obliterated the time standards he would have had to achieve. In that way, he was treated very much in the same way that many age groupers are treated. A lot of meets, even those with qualifying standards, take seed times at face value. Given the volume of times, its a good idea. Only if the swimmer comes up short of the cut do they investigate whether the time was legit and enforce penalties. Hansen, unlike your average age grouper, doesn't have the benefit of concealing that he hasn't been swimming for the last couple years.

In the end, I think the meet information for these types of competition should be changed. If Matt Biondi wanted to drop by and swim the 50, I think he should be able to, even if his last race was almost 20 years ago. Why? Because people want to see him swim, and swimming as a sport in general doesn't do enough fan service. I know it has to do with drug testing, but its annoying to read about Ed Moses, Janet Evans, and Ian Thorpe comeback and then not see them compete outside of masters.

What are you thinking, oh wise readers? Do you think that Hansen should have been allowed to race or not? Sound off any opinion you have on the above. Don't worry I'm a big boy and I can take it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Care to Join Us?

The Swim Brief In the Early Days
At The Swim Brief, we hope you've enjoyed the content we've provided you over the last couple months. While all three of us can agree it's been a great time, there are moments when we wish we had a little more help. Our budget of unsalted peanuts doesn't allow us to completely set aside our day jobs to post as often as we would like.

Maybe you're a lonely swim blogger sick of posting in isolation. Maybe you're a frequent commenter working up the courage to blog. Maybe you're just a silent lurker. In any case, we are looking for another writer. Check that, if you're a silent lurker please don't apply- you creep us out.

If you're interested, please send us a couple sentences on what you'd like to write about. If we like it, we'll give you a guest blog. The best guest blog may become a regular writer. E-mail all submissions to

Keep in mind we are looking for someone who is not like any of us- you should be able to bring something new to the table. Feel free to create your own blog persona if you wish, and we encourage frequent submissions that might generate discussion in the comments section. You must be willing to participate in behind the scenes strings of emails that are up to 200 messages long and submit to our editorial will. Also, you must be able to read and write at above a 3rd grade level. Shawn was grandfathered in. We're looking forward to your submissions!

What to Make of Santa Clara

The Grand Prix season ended yesterday. There are still a couple elite meets sitting between now and this summer's World Championships, most notably the TYR Meet of Champions coming up this next weekend.  But, as intrepid swimming reporter Craig Lord notes, we are now less than six weeks from Shanghai. I frequently point out how nerve-wracking the spring and early summer are for fans of America's Swim Team, watching the rest of the world swim fast while we muddle through. This year features even more anxiety.

When USA Swimming decided to set this summer's world championship team based off last summer's Pan-Pac results, it laid the ground for a very strange summer. On the one hand, all of the fastest Americans of 2010 have known that Shanghai is their taper meet and planned accordingly. As such, we won't have the benefit of a close by trials meet to see who is swimming fast right now. On the other hand, you have a number of swimmers who have taken off or come back in the last year who can't qualify for any serious international competition until the Olympics. Let's run through a few:

Brendan Hansen: Hansen ripped off a 1:01 100 breaststroke. Don't you think that team USA would like to have him for a medley relay come August? How are we going to feel if Hansen goes a 59 at Nationals in August, which is just as realistic as no other American breaking a minute.

Jessica Hardy- Ok, technically she made the team, only not in the 100 breaststroke. Now she's ranked #2 in the world. Will the National Team coaches simply bump Amanda Beard so that Jessica can swim? Amanda would still have the 200 breast left as an event.

Kate Dwelley: The former Stanford swimmer was 1:59 in the 200 free over the weekend. Why is that somewhat pedestrian (for the World stage) 200 free important? Because Dagny Knutson is qualified for the 4x200 Free relay and has struggled mightily (2:05 200 free).

Rachel Bootsma: You might say we are totally stacked in backstroke, with Franklin and Coughlinpicked to represent USA abroad. Unfortunately, they are currently 4th and 9th in the world respectively. Don't be deceived by the fact that Bootsma is finishing back of both the others at the Grand Prix's. Last summer Bootmsa was 1:03.8 at the Charlotte Grand Prix, then finished the season with a 1:00.4 at Nationals. This summer, she's shown huge improvement in her long course swimming with a 1:00.3 at Charlotte and a solid 1:01.3 in Santa Clara.

Four years ago in Melbourne the US National team dominated, with 36 medals, more than the next four teams combined. They will need all hands on deck to repeat that performance.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Nighttime Snack- D'Arcy Wins!

In the first men's event of the Santa Clara Grand Prix's final session, Nick D'Arcy stormed home to beat Michael Phelps in the 200 fly. Nick D'Arcy has had some pretty tough luck, much of it self-created. I don't know why, but I have found myself cheering for him. It's not that I have general sympathy for anyone that causes serious bodily harm on another person in a bar fight. But, D'Arcy has been subject to not just double but probably triple jeopardy as a result.

Not only did he face normal legal consequences, but he was forced off the 2008 Olympic team, then allowed to try out for the World Championship and subsequently left off that as well. Last summer, he had the honor of joining a long line of guys who seemed like they might have a chance of beating Phelps in a 200 fly and instead got trounced. Laszlo Cseh welcomed him with a pat on the back while Takeshi Matsuda scowled in the corner. Honestly, even if you're the opposite of me and you totally cheer against D'Arcy you have to be excited to have a guy this villainous to root against.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ritchie MP Cummins: "Welcome to Twitter, Debbie Phelps!"

I am ninja-level pumped to get tweets from the real Debbie Phelps!  Hiyaaahhh!

I have a big announcement guys!  Michael Phelps and Bob Bowman both sent out a tweet welcoming super-duper gold medal swim mom of the universe Debbie Phelps to the world of twitter.  That's right!  They personally invited all of their tweeps like me to follow her. I am waaaayyy excited!  She is such an inspiration to me and so many other people. I wish Debbie was my real mom!  (Sorry mom.  You are cool too, but your son, me, hasn't even won one gold medal in anything!)

The embarrassing part though is that I just realized that the Debbie Phelps who has been sending me juicy nuggets of inspiration over the twitterverse for three years now is not the real Debbie Phelps. It is just some random lady named Debbie Phelps who has a son named Michael who hasn't won 8 gold medals. Silly me!  Now that I think about it, I really should have known better. Tweets like "Michael has finally outgrown breastfeeding. Phew! I am gonna save some money not having to chapstick my nipples anymore. LOL" and "if they gave Olympic gold medals for the biggest poopy diaper Michael would win" should have tipped me off that this Michael was not the same age, but I was just so excited to have an adopted-twitter-son relationship with her I guess I was just blind to it. I mean, it would have been weird, but she could have been talking about the real Michael Phelps, right?  Plus, who knew about the chapstick thing. I really did learn a lot of cool stuff from my adopted Debbie Phelps imposter mom!

So @debbiephelps0808, thank you for the misplaced inspiration. I hope we can meet some day.  I feel like we would be close friends if we ever met in person.   And to the real Debbie Phelps, @Mamaphelpsh20, welcome to twitter!  Yay!

She is probably reading another article about how awesome Michael is!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Conversations you have with yourself when the water is too freekin cold

"Screw swim practice!  The pool's way too cold.  I'm outta here."

Beginning of AM practice, dipping your toes in the water:   

“Oh, man.  That’s cold.  I wonder if the heater is broken.  Ummm….   Oh yeah.  Coach hates it when you ask if the heater's broken.  He is gonna say it's 83 degrees.  He always says it's 83 degrees.”

"How can those guys just jump in like that?  Maybe if I get in really slow...  If I'm at least getting in, coach won’t notice that I'm missing half the warm-up.”

“Oh crap.  He noticed.  Here he comes.  Better get in.  Okay.  Turn around and hold the gutter.  Dip in slowly.  It's not so bad until you get to inner thighs.”

Holding the gutter, dipping your legs in pool:  

“Ooohhh…. Yeah.  That’s bad... Gotta think of an excuse to not swim today… what if I tell him the fair is this weekend and my goats need to be weighed and drug tested….  Crap, I already used that one!  Can’t think straight!  Hypothermia setting in.   Check for signs and symptoms.  Legs are probably frostbitten!”

“Crap.  My skin isn't blue.  I look normal!  Crap!  Crap, crap, crap!"

“Okay.  Crotch has to get wet to stand in the 3 ½ ft. ready, set, …. 

Standing in shallow end with hands over crotch:  

“Scrotum scrotum scrotum… too cold.  Shrinkage!  Testicles have withdrawn from the competition.  Aaahhhh!  There's no way this is 83 degrees!  Okay.  Take a deep breath.  Hold it.  Inch in slowly.... Water over the brief!  On bare skin!  Alert!  Yikes!  So what if that Rob Aquatics guy swam 6 miles in 53 degree water with no wetsuit!  He probably had some kind of custom made heated brief that some company donated to him because he is one of the top 50 bloggers according to some stupid blog that nobody reads anyway.  And he probably doesn't have any testicles to shrink! Screw him too! ”

Creeping to deeper water, walking stiff, arms out like Frankenstein: 

“Okay.  Not so bad again.  Calm down.  Don't hyperventilate.  Keep nipples and arm pits out as long as you can.  Why is coach laughing at me?!  This sucks!  Armpits!  Can’t take it!  Gotta start swimming all at once.  It’s like ripping off a band-aid.  Just do it and quit dragging it out!  This will all be over soon!”

Starting to swim and then stopping briefly:  

 “… Hey waitamminit!  What’s the warm-up?  I totally forgot the warm-up! Coach is still staring at me.  Don’t stop to ask.  Just go really really fast!” 

“AARGH!!!  $^@^$**@&!!  Why in the hell didn't I stick with basketball?!”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nighttime Snack: Kill a Shark To Set A Record?

Today, sitting in the airport, I read an article linked on Mel Stewart's website about an open water swimmer killing a shark to set a record. Apparently, the story goes like this: 1) Swimmer Wants Record. 2) Sharks Swim In Ocean, Because Duh, That's Where Sharks Live. 3) Then Swimmer's Crew Kills Sharks. You can read the story here if you want the details. 

The swimmer's husband expresses regret, but you wonder if there was a better alternative? Or maybe just , you know, stop the swim?

Here's an interesting quote from the article:  "Imagine an ultra runner wants to set a new record racing across the bear-infested northern Rockies. Four bears approach her while she’s running along the trail and her support crew uses some manky bilious road kill to lure them away, where they’re shot dead."

If the story is true, and reports are accurate, this is disgusting. Just get out of the water. Don't kill stuff. I'm not a vegan, not an animal rights activist, not a donating member of the Sierra Club, not part of Greenpeace. But there's just some basic things you don't do, and slicing a bunch of sharks to achieve a swimming record is something you do not do. 

It makes me wonder if this type of thing happens often in the open water swimming community. From an outsider's point-of-view, it seems like open water swimming gives humans the ability to connect with nature, to experience that type of freedom. Not to swim around and kill everything that hinders your "experience."

That's 19th century "Americuh!" style. 

I'm not a shark lover. Although I do love "Shark Week." And I just grew up in a community where you just didn't needlessly wreck havoc on beautiful wildlife. Because something tells me they didn't eat these sharks after butchering them with a machete, and they probably didn't cook up some delicious "shark soup" afterwards.

Unless they did.... and I'd love to be proven wrong. 

Let's help get Brendan Hansen motivated!

This weekend, in celebration of Brendan Hansen's big comeback, I say we re-start the argument about Kitajima's dolphin kick during his pullout at the 2004 games.  Brendan Hansen gave a clinic for my club a few years ago and it was hard to hear him talk about it.  We all know that moment has to be a big personal motivator.  Watch closely.  You can actually see Kosuke inch ahead after the oh so obvious illegal kick.

For those who don't remember, the one dolphin kick during the breaststroke pull-out was illegal until Kosuke Kitajima snuck one in on his way to Gold at the 2004 Olympics.  When they realized that they had not DQ'd him when they should have, they decided to just go ahead and change the rules to say that one dolphin kick is okay after all.  Yet another example of utter silliness in the governance of swimming, and it cost Hansen what would have been his only individual Olympic Gold.

I think that giving him and all of his fans and haters a chance to watch this thing over and over in slow motion while throwing down an argument with anonymous comment after comment is the perfect way to get this comeback started on the right foot.  Don't ya think?!

Come on... Hansen totally got screwed, right?  I mean, NBC gave us all a pretty darn good view of this pull-out.  It was kind of like having your opponent bring brass knuckles to a boxing match only to have the referee say "Hey, why not?  Let's change the rules so he can use them.  What?  You didn't bring your own set of brass knuckles?  Sucks for you!"

I think that the best part of Hansen's comeback is that Kitajima is still on his A game and we might be looking at a pretty hot rematch with some real redemption on the line.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Late Night Snack: The Smell of Fear and Sprinting

In case you missed it, the other day I posted this on facebook and twitter:  "Love coaching club again!  This am warm-up:  10x "sit on the gutter, stare at the floor, feel sorry for yourself bc last pm practice was so hard" on 1:05.

The funny part is that it really went pretty close to that way.  They were moping on the gutter and stalling as much as they could (which is typical when it is so early) so I made that joke and a couple of them started watching the clock and acting like they were taking short breaks between rounds of sad-faced self-pity.  It was downright hilarious.

I am starting to find that with this group of athletes morning practice is turning into an awkward sort of comedy gold and i really am enjoying seeing their not-quite smiling faces at 5:45am.

This is another example of a true conversation from practice this morning:

SWIMMER:  "Coach, how many rounds of this set are we doing?"

VIKING!:  "We are gonna do this until I have to pee.  So if you make me so excited that I almost pee my pants, this will be the last round."

SWIMMER:  "Mom!  Please run to McDonald's and get coach another large coffee!"

VIKING!:  "Ahhh... Nothing beats the smell of fear and sprinting in the morning."

This weekend I will be coaching at my first club meet in a long time.  I am looking forward to seeing some old friends on the pool deck and hopefully I will have a chance to get some good stuff on video.  Wish us good luck!

Swimming World, USA Swimming Leaders to Consider Using Internet

In a stunning joint statement today from both Phoenix, Arizona and Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA Swimming and Swimming World magazine announced a bold new plan for the future of their organizations. Both organizations, whose leaders have traditionally not used the internet, or as they call it "The World Wide Web", are forming committees to consider consulting with people who use the service.

"We've hesitated for a long time because its such an unproven technology", Brent Rutemiller, the CEO of Sports Publications, Inc which publishes Swimming World said to reporters. He was interrupted during his statement by his secretary who had come to read his e-mails aloud to him. When asked what the topic of the e-mail was, he replied "It's on the Michael Phelps bong incident. I've fallen a little behind". He then painstakingly dictated his reply and continued with his comments.

"We had an intern apply once who used the internet. Ultimately we didn't end up hiring him because we didn't feel he really knew what it took to be successful in swimming media", he continued. When asked about the existence of a swimming world magazine website as well as "swimming world tv", Rutemiller denied any knowledge of their existence. Sources inside the organization point to rogue figures creating the sites, working in isolated cells. One cell had only knowledge of Windows XP, another rudimentary html skills and a third in "design", i.e. optimizing the amount of space that can be taken up by banner ads.

Executive Director of USA Swimming Chuck Wielgus echoed many of the sentiments of Rutemiller and added "In order for a website to be formed, a USA Swimming member would have to issue a formal recommendation for that website to be created. I would then send that recommendation by carrier pigeon to our legal team for investigation. If they don't include the words 'formal recommendation', my hands are tied". Wielgus also expressed deep regret that he had gotten distracted and missed the season finale of "The Office", and that there was now no way he would ever see it unless it was re-run at some point.

Wielgus also denied the existence of a USA Swimming website.. When showed, he immediately recognized it was the "Ryan Lochte Slideshow" he had asked to be created. Still, Wielgus admitted that it was perhaps time to change and made a point of bringing in a caligrapher to draft a letter to his nephew, who he stated was "a wiz with the google".

Both leaders stated emphatically that they were in no rush to make their first use of the internet, and instead would be consulting with the "foremost experts", including former Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Herman Edwards. Until then, it remains to be seen whether this technology will have any impact on the swimming world.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nighttime Snack: The Return of Hansen (Brendan)

He's back. And we're really @$*$&@ing excited.

This weekend at the Santa Clara Grand Prix, Brendan Hansen returns to the pool. I imagine a scenario in which he arrives to Palo Alto, gets off the plane, and his entourage with a boombox plays "Hanson." Or something similar to Zoolander, with "Hansel." Something. Something will happen. It has to. Because this is one of the more exciting comebacks we've seen in the last ten years. (Will someone please play "Hanson" super loud during warm-ups at this Grand Prix?)

Why? Why is this so exciting? Well, a number of reasons.

1.) Hansen is the Karl Malone of swimming. Arguably, Hansen is one of the best 'strokers in history never to have won "the big race." He never has achieved that individual gold. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I'm rooting for Brendan just because it's great to have a veteran back in the pool. I couldn't care less if he wins a gold or not -- I just like to watch great legendary swimmers. But... this could be a motivating factor for this comeback. He'd be lying if he said he never thought about it. He came up with silver in 2004. Then, when everyone was seeking a Hansen vs. Kitajima 2008 Beijing show-down, Hansen missed the medal podium in the 100m breaststroke and didn't qualify in the 200m distance. He joins the list (is there a list?) of world record-holders to never have won an individual gold medal, and I'd love to see him to it. 

2.) Hansen has been training. He hasn't really been taking "time off" from being "athletic." He's been rumored to be doing triathlons. He's been keeping fit. In shape. This will help, obviously, his comeback aspirations. Maybe he just needed a few years away from the pool, to try out other activities, to regain his love for swimming again. And that's really what this is all about. Getting that love back, yo! 

3.) HE'S STILL YOUNG (sort of)! Hansen is only 29. Torres, Lezak, and, um, other people.... they've all taught us that swimming is like a fine wine. Gets better with age (sometimes). Hansen's comeback is more believable than someone like Janet Evans, only because he's only been a few years removed from being at the top-of-his-game-status. It wasn't THAT long ago that we saw him winning breaststroke races. Though he'll be 30 in August, what better way to celebrate the big 3-0 than by whooping on some youngens?

4.) Breaststroke events are up for grabs. Shanteau is dominating that 200m distance, but the 100m sprint breaststroke looks like it's anyone's ballgame (although Shatneau's been showing speed lately too). This comeback wouldn't nearly be as exciting if the event was in something uber-competitive, like, say, the men's 100m backstroke/freestyle. But that 100m breaststroke event is just wide freaking open. There are 53,000 guys who could win the 2012 Olympic Trials, according to Chris DeSantis. Hansen's comeback is exciting because HE ACTUALLY COULD DO IT. 

5.) This video. This video is why I am, personally, excited for the return of Brendan Hansen. Enough said.

So welcome back, Brendan Hansen sir! We here at The Swim Brief look forward to living vicariously through your comeback, and we wish you the best of luck this weekend. And though this isn't at all appropriate coming from a guy who grew up in Michigan who now lives in Brooklyn, in the words of one of my favorite TV shows, Friday Night Lights.... "Texas forever, Hansen. Texas forever." 

Why does ASCA Get To Have All the (Certification) Fun?

That's the question Tony Austin asks in a remarkably detailed blog today. I remember eight years ago when I first became a USA Swimming coach- I didn't even question that I was supposed to jump through ASCA's hoops. Frankly, I'd love to see someone else get involved in coach certification (Glenn Mills, cough). But I'm not sure it's possible. I'd be very interested in the response. Has anyone heard from John Leonard lately?

He's been very silent since slinging off those angry e-mails to Sarah G and Tony a week back. It makes you wonder if the ASCA board told him to back off. So far no word of the promised lawsuits. You could say I'm part of the problem but I am looking forward to talking about actual swimming this coming weekend.

Picking on the Officials

I love carrying my video camera around at meets.  I think that every coach should at least have one on their phone.  It is handy to be able to be able to show swimmers some of the things you want them to correct, but even more important is that it can really add some fun to your team website and it contributes to the culture and atmosphere of your club.  My team page has a lot of really funny interviews with swimmers and the parents love it.

My favorite thing to do with my camera though, is pick on the officials.  Two years ago I was on deck sitting next to one of my former swimmers and started making fun of her dad, who happens to be the head official for our summer league.  Check these out:

He is a great guy and he saw those videos posted on swimviking and thought they were pretty funny, so this weekend when I asked him for an interview he really played along.  This guy deserves a raise.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Midnight Snack presents Shawn Klosterman: The Many Faces

Shawn Klosterman is at one time someone resembling an extra from the 13th Warrior, a gentle family man and a teacher, But he is also a hero, and if you don't believe me, you have to head this article about in the Juneau Empire.It covers how inspiring Shawn Klsterman was a to young Derek Gibb. Now I know what you'r thinking, but this will have nothing to do with the bee gees.

Gibb is perhaps Alaska best male swimmer of all time, unless you count that one time Carlos Boozer shaved down for Juneau Douglas High. But coming up the ranks, the man he wanted to be just like, was Shawn Klosterman, We all feel blessed to be in his presence, honestly.

Swim Brief Classic: Berkoff on Sex Abuse

Over at, the authors are calling out David Berkoff. The gist of their criticism is that Berkoff was a vocal proponent for change in sex abuse policy at USA Swimming prior to his election to the board nine months ago. Since being elected, he's been far more silent. As evidence as the strong opinions Berkoff had, they cite an e-mail written by Berkoff. A year ago, we had Berkoff on the short lived Swim Brief podcast and asked him about that very topic:

If you don't care about the story of how Berkoff ended up at Harvard, skip to the 14:00 minute mark. Berkoff shares a variety of opinions, informed by his day job as a lawyer in Missoula, Montana.  Although I have also noticed how silent David has been since joining the USA-S board, I also admit I haven't bothered to contact him about what he is doing.

In any case, it's an interesting listen to hear what parts of what he was proposing have come to fruition and what parts have not.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Nighttime Snack: I had a really weird dream last night...

Usually when I pee in the pool, I am a little more stealthy... but hey, if I could piss rainbows I would probably want to pee all over everything all the time.  Right? 

DREDG - Upon Returning from merkley??? on Vimeo.

It is filmed in a swimming pool so I felt compelled to post it here.  Be sure to watch all the way to the end.  These guys are very creative.  Now the next time I watch Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealers (for the 200th time with my 3 and 4 year old girls) I will smile and think of Dredg and how fun it could be to have her powers.  Enjoy.

This Week in: The Swim Brief

This week in: The Swim Brief is Thunder God approved
On "This Week in the Swim Brief" we offer you a rewind of the best our blog had to offer in the past week. It's a chance to catch up if you've been away or are just joining us. It's also a chance for us to to look back and take another look at what we wrote and whether its still relevant. Enjoy:

We began the week with the fear that beef in Shanghai, the site of this summer's World Championship, may be tainted. Could this be this summer's Delhi Belly, except with drug testing implications? Part of he hopes so, if only so I can read multiple self-righteous Craig Lord posts over the course of a single day.

On Wednesday, our very own Shawn Klosterman hit the big time when he was interviewed by Swimming World about the Joplin Tornado. Don't forget to visit our Joplin Tornado page for any and all updates on what you can do.

On Thursday, we found out that Megan Jendrick is having a baby! The Screaming Viking points out that this will set the table for a showdown between the two hottest moms in swimming next summer in Omaha.

Finally, our week came to an end when Janet Evans made her comeback official. The next day, she went out and set masters records in the 400 and 800 free. The first and most obvious comparison that will be made is to Dara Torres, but we prefer another 80s superstar: Sylvester Stallone. Wait, he got caught with what? Scratch that.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Don't Call it a (Masters) Comeback! Janet Evans Makes it Official

Janet Evans and Mark Schubert are officially on the comeback trail. According to a report from the AP, Evans' comeback is not merely for taking a shot at a few 40-44 masters age group records. Evans aims to try and make the 2012 Olympic team in the 400 and 800 free. In 2008, when Dara Torres made her second comeback at 41 years old, many people wondered why it was a sprinter making a comeback and not a distance swimmer. We're about to get our answer.

Elite distance performance at Evans' age has a lot of precedent in track and field. In the last summer games, a 38 year old woman ended up winning the marathon. The silver medalist was 36. For a variety of reasons, however, we have never seen an elite distance swimmer over the age of 35. The list of those over 30 is extremely short. The oldest woman to qualify for the past four Olympics on the US team is Evans herself. She was 24 when she made the team in 1996.

It's also worth noting that Evans did not go out on top. Her swims at the 1996 Olympics were a huge disappointment. If she had just been able to maintain her level of performance from her teenage years she would have dominated. The winning time in the 800 was over ten seconds slower than her world record. Watching her swim at the Atlanta games was one of my first memories as a swimming fan- I remember how disappointed she was to finish her career that way.

Evans' comeback is undoubtedly going to be framed as a story of redemption, and not just for her. The wounds are still fresh for her coach, Mark Schubert, who did not leave his position as National Team Director on good terms. I think things will be more than a little awkward should Evans make the team and Schubert becomes a possible Olympic coach.

I think I believe that Evans can do this far more than your average person. Her performance in 1996 seemed to be classic overtraining- in fact, I attribute most distance swimmers falling off the map in their mid 20s to overtraining. Much has been made about how brutal Evans' stroke looked. If I had to guess I would say that she never bothered to fix it when she was on top and it eventually wore it down. Maybe an older wiser Evans can apply more efficiency to her swimming. I still don't think she will qualify for the Olympic game, but she has a good chance at redemption anyway if she bests her performances from 1996. I hope that her performance encourages more athletes to make a comeback or keep swimming well past the usual retirement age.

I just hope she is in better shape than this guy.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Nighttime Snack: Don't forget the 15m Line!

Remember this?

At the time this race happened, people were pretty fired up about it. Auburn hate was at an all time high, only to be eclipsed when they won the NCAA title the next year. Unfortunately, it seems like both sides of the argument didn't really address what had happened.

For the most part, either you thought Auburn was full of dirty cheaters and foreigners who couldn't speak English and were taking opportunities from hard working Americans. Or, you thought that people were totally jealous and out to get Auburn. There wasn't as much room for real discussion about what happened. So, now that we have three years passed and people maybe we can have a rational discussion about it.

He totally should have been disqualified, right?

Best Practice Excuse Ever!!

"Darnit, Mr. Baa Baa... I am sorry coach made us late for your piss test!"

In 14 years of coaching I thought I had heard it all.  I have coached age group and high school and there isn't an excuse to get out of a set that would surprise me any more.  I have had the kid whose grandma died three times in one season; the kid who went to the bathroom and didn't come back for a week; a 16 year old boy who claimed he was lactating; and a 16 year old girl who claimed she had jury duty.

I even once had a kid who told me his car blew up... and it really did.  I saw the flames coming out from under the hood on the way in to morning practice.  That kid eventually went on to skip another practice so he and his buddies could rob a Burger King, but that is a story for another day.

This morning though, might have just topped them all. I just might have heard the best excuse of my life.  Mind you, this kid is an Oklahoma state champion, which might explain how this is actually true.  Here's how it went:

Viking!:  "Hey, are you leaving?"

Swimmer:  "Yeah, I have to get out early.  The fair is this weekend."

Viking!:  "And...?"

Swimmer:  "Well, I have to go in and weigh my goats."

Viking!:  (with an amused smirk) "What?!  Weigh your goats?!"

Swimmer:  "Yup.  And they have to be drug tested too to make sure we aren't feeding them something illegal."

Viking!:  "Bwahahahahahaa!  Best excuse ever!"

Ha!  It's about time the WADA started cracking down on those darn goats!!  Farm animals have been just walking all over the doping rules for years!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Nighttime Snack: Megan Jendrick is Having a Baby!

Megan Jendrick is having a baby! It feels weird to write that because she was practically a baby herself when she entered the national swimming consciousness. That was 12 years ago, and in that time she has done many things, starting by making an Olympic team in 2000, then flaming out as young breaststrokers always seemed to do, then experiencing a career resurgence to make another team. But today she accomplished something perhaps no other American swimmer has:

You see, we read about the announcement at a website called Look for yourself. This means that despite the fact that she's fallen off a bit since 2008 she is still considered a "celebrity". In all seriousness, bravo Megan (and Nathan). We look forward to your mom showdown with Amanda Beard next summer.

Gutter Talk: NBC Wins Olympic Broadcasting Rights

NBC Universal recently beat out Fox Sports and ESPN/Disney/ABC by turning in a 4.38 billion dollar proposal to the IOC to win broadcast rights for the summer and winter Olympic Games all the way through 2020.


"This plan will only be profitable if Phelps wins 9 gold medals this time. Otherwise we waaaayyyyy overbid.  Cross your fingers, guys!"  David P- Network Executive

"for 4 billion the Olympics need to be about once a month instead of every four years." Steven H- Television Viewer 

"uhhh... what channel is that?  Do they have an app?"  Seth G- Youth Swimmer

"Phew... I still have a job!" Rowdy G- Sports Commentator 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Late Night Snack: Joplin Tornado Covered in Swimming World

Swimming World intern Tyler Remmel emailed me and set up a call to find out how we were doing down here in Joplin after the tornado.  He spent almost an hour on the phone between talking to me, a swimmer who lost her home, and my diving coach who was on the seventh floor of St. John's Hospital when the storm hit.  He really did a great job with the article.  Check it out here.

Also, our team hosted Josh Davis for a clinic in December.  He is a real class act.  I got an email from him to check on us pretty quickly after the tornado, and then he posted this on his website.

Joplin is still working like crazy to clean up debris, but we have had some very encouraging developments.  Some small businesses are already built back up, and St Johns and Home Depot are operating.  They are also already in talks about the vision for the new Joplin High School!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Swim Brief Classic: Finally, a Voice of Reason Brings a Real Solution!

I saw someone with their thong showing above their jeans today and it reminded me of this piece that I originally posted at swimviking on June 5, 2009, when we were still getting used to having an approved suit list.  It seems that the Rosetta Stone program that the interviewers were using might have had trouble translating, or maybe Ryosuke was really on to something.  Check it out:

I'm gonna go hit the pool after work.  You coming?
Ryosuke Irie, whose celebration over demolishing Ryan Lochte's 200 LCM Backstroke record was cut short when FINA left his Descente suit off of their list, has taken the swimsuit saga in a whole new direction...

You can't make this stuff up, guys! It's for real! How did the rest of us never think of it? It's brilliant!

All of our "technological doping" problems would be solved, and it would be comedy gold! The drama would be way more hilarious than our current mess, and it is almost a guarantee that competitive swimming would be mentioned on Conan O'Brien nearly every day for years!

There would be multiple sitcoms based on our sport! This would be more valuable to the American comedy industry than George W being elected for a third term!

The only negatives I can see are:
1) the word "buttocks" would have to be removed from the "suits must cover the breasts and buttocks" page in the high school swimming rule book.
2) no one would want to run a stopwatch anymore at meet, simply due to the logistics of it all when the swimmers are taking their mark.

Other than that, the G-string plan is awesome on so many levels!

I have to say Mr. Irie, for a nineteen year old, you have a stellar vision for the long-term future of swimming. I am totally on board with your idea. Do they take write in candidates for the FINA president's job that was left open when Larfaoui stepped down? I would vote for you! We need a progressive thinking rebel leading the way to a pure sport!

You da man, Ryosuke!