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.