Sunday, July 31, 2011

Late Night Snack: Wait, there's more!!!



Yes swim fans, just when you thought it was safe to return to your job, your family and your friends remember Nats start on Tuesday!  That's right folks, your National Team will stumble into the Avery Aquatic Center in Stanford jet-lagged, disoriented and exhausted.  I expect Ryan Lochte to sit his ass down, open a huge bag of In n Out, crack open a case of Bud and order Coach Troy to scratch everything.  At least Coughlin and Phelps had the wherewithal to just go home.  Our very own Chris DeSantis will also be on scene without the distraction of Team Denmark.

Here's the psych sheet:  http://www.usaswimming.org/_Rainbow/Documents/26b81e02-e130-480b-8e0a-ddeafd6d832b/psych%20sheets_11Nats.pdf

The Viking takes a break and the whole world of swimming falls apart...

Michael's painful secret is out... his ass has dyslexia.

Dang, guys... the Viking gets too busy to blog for a week or two and everything seems to go crazy. (I haven't had time to even follow world championship results for that matter-- yes, feel sorry for me.) A partial list of what I found when trying to catch up on some of the old news I missed?: Mark Schubert got hired at a juco, they announced they are thinking about bringing body suits back in 2013, they let Cielo swim and he cried and pee'd everywhere all the time (you know, because that is what furosemide makes you do,) Chris DFLSantis made a crazy call about Dale Oen winning the breast and was actually right, more breaststrokers were caught on video cheating with dolphin kicks again, open water swimmers were withdrawing from their races, and now Phelps is swimming for Australia.

What?... Phelps is changing his citizenship?


Not really... I am sure some of you caught this story last week, but when I closed my hotmail the other night I came across this article that says Phelps forgot his suit at warm-ups at worlds and had to borrow one from Eamon Sullivan. I have to wonder if he got his butt chewed like my swimmers do when they are late for warm-up because they forgot their gear.

Hmmm... somehow I doubt it. That would be cool to see though.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Is it time to start officially calling them "Textile World Records?"

Ryan deserves more credit for this one than he is gonna get.

After watching the replay of Ryan Lochte absolutely destroying the textile world best in the 200 back, I am a little saddened that we haven’t done anything official to recognize those achievements other than saying “while it is not a world record… it is a textile best.”  Just listen to the commentators.  It sounds like a let-down when they justify that the record he was chasing was "really fast."

He took it from a 1:54.0 to a 1:52.9. Before the days of tech suits we would have had our minds blown by that swim. It should be remembered in the same way that Mary T. Meagher was for being the first under 59 in the fly but skipping the 58’s completely in the process by hammering out a 57.93.  If not for the tech years, our world record progression might never have listed a 1:53! Instead of being a dominating swim that changed the face of backstroke forever, it is really something we could pass off as a “pretty good try” in comparison to the 200 IM, a swim where he has his rival Michael Phelps within a tenth of a second of him. Yes, it was a true world record, but it was not nearly the dominant performance that the backstroke was. Lochte owned that 200 back. He is in completely uncharted territory with that swim, except… oh yeah, it’s not a world record.


We all have chatted about the issue before on various blogs, and have debated all sorts of options with asterisks and the like. I am not unhappy that the world records are listed the way they currently are. I am glad that news sources and bloggers have come up with a pretty standard way of describing it, but I still worry. Now that Lochte has actually broken one of the rubber suit records and the man vs. technology articles have finally been written we might all feel a little better about it for now, but when it is really gonna hit us is in London. You see, when Spitz took his seven golds a big part of what made it awesome and what made it that much more impressive to the world at large, is the fact that he broke seven world records at the games. There was an undisputed aura that went with his achievement-- he was the best. No doubt about it. Phelps, in comparison to that in taking his eight golds, broke seven records as well, leaving nothing to be dismissed for those concerned about it being less of a achievement.

In London, Ryan Lochte has hinted that he is looking at matching or possibly outdoing Phelps' magic eight golds. Just the fact that he might attempt such a feat deserves a little more reverence than the current system will give him. The sad part is that even if he pulls it off, it will be hard to listen to the commentary:  “Lochte takes eight golds with one world record and seven textile bests” just doesn’t sound as impressive. Maybe I am splitting hairs here, but I am pretty sure that my non-swim-geek friends just aren’t gonna be as moved.

It really is not that I want to take the tech suit records away-- I want those athletes to be honored and recognized for the world-leading performances of their generation. I just worry that in London, even though I expect that multiple world records might be broken, many of the greatest swims in history might be overlooked as this one feels it is to me, and this whole mess will sink in a little deeper for all of us who are in the know.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Just Keep Swimming


                              
I have made it very clear I'm not a technocrat when it comes to swimming but what I saw this morning, alone in my kitchen with nothing but the light from my laptop and the life-saving grace of my coffee was magnificent.
 

I can't help it but when you become a parent everything is colored by that perspective.  Even Missy Franklin and Ryan Lochte.  I thought of my daughters who have been working so hard at their swim lessons.  They're trying to perfect breaststroke which I realize with all the current events, is ironic and perhaps impossible.  They received their report cards for the end of the session.  The comments were identical:  "Good job!  Remember kick out and don't flutter!  Your pull is really good!"   Hahahahahaha. (Oh, my sides hurt from laughing.  Things you don't write on the report card of a kid whose mom is a swim blogger. )


I think about the lessons we parents try desperately to instill in our children.  Work hard.  Be nice to others. Be good to yourself.  Don't cheat.  Flush.  All the things we think will help our kids grow to be somewhat functioning adults.  Traits perhaps we admire in ourselves or wish we could do better with.  Mistakes we made we don't want to see them make.  There could be blood on the floor due to our efforts, we just want our kids to be happy.  Missy Franklin's ginormous brace-face smile and Ryan's fist pump and internal/external exclamation of "jeah" represents the culmination of all these things we try so hard to instill in our kids.   They represent the best of the best.  The exemplary example of what can be.

It says to me, as a parent, "keep going."  The end result may not be a gold medal or a world record but we all try our best every day.  Some days something monumental happens.  Some days it's a small victory.  Some days you just feel like you're sinking.  The world may celebrate with you or you may pat yourself on the back in solitude.  All achievements are magnificent in their own way.   What's important is that you just keep swimming.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Breaking: LIVE audio webcast TONIGHT with The Swimmers' Circle!

It's true. Tonight at 8:30pm EST, our very own Chris Desantis will host a LIVE audio streaming webcast to "Pregame/Tailgate" the World Championships. He will be talking with another swim blog, The Swimmers' Circle, and they should have a lot of great things to say.

You can catch the live webcast here on this website. There is rumors of another "special guest" and it MAY or MAY NOT be Eminem. I don't want to ruin any surprises, but you shouldn't miss the webcast. It should be a lot more entertaining than Chris and Gus talking this morning about making coffee and how tired Gus is because he has a 25lb cat who sits on his head to wake him up at 4:45am every single morning and slowly ruins his life because he is never happy and always meowing and just wants love and attention and never-ending support and won't leave him alone.......

But I digress. Turn in tonight, swim fans, and rejoice!

Grades: Day Four

Day Four is in the books. As always, we here at the Swim Brief break down the Grades, this time organizing them into the day's Great, Good, and Ugly. 




THE GREAT
Michael Phelps: A. He defended his World 200m butterfly title, and has now won his signature event back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Still, he was quite a distance away from his Beijing time. Does it really matter? No. It’s just good to see The Greatest be great.

Nathan Adrian: B+. I’m giving him a B+ because he competed in the semi-finals, BUT he swam very fast. 48.0 is a quick time, and landed him one-tenth-of-a-second away from Magnusson. Adrian really came through last summer, but leaping from a Pan Pacific Championship to a World Championship is a big one. However, it’s the next step the Cal Bear needs to take prior to London. Sprinting is all a mental game. Is Adrian headstrong enough to take this event? Would it be an upset over the Aussie and Brazilian?

Federica Pelligrini: A++. She was trending on Twitter, which means a lot of people were watching swimming today (Desantis and I were audio commenting the finals at 6am EST).


THE GOOD
Tomorrow’s Men's 200IM Set-Up: B. While on paper this should be an epic show-down, I’m not quite sure Phelps will beat Lochte here. We saw Lochte just dominate Phelps the final 50m last year in Irvine, and Lochte’s mid-freestyle only looks stronger than ever. Phelps might be riding a wave of momentum after his 200m fly win, but Lochte has thought about this showdown too long to lose. This will be the best race in London, but not tomorrow.


Sun Yang: B+. Sure, he’s the best ever in the 800m distance. But I’d like to see what he can do in the 1500m next year. Can he top Grant Hacket’s seemingly untouchable 1500m world record next year? The 19-year-old is definitely China’s new superstar-in-the-making, but the Chinese do just fine on their standardized tests without having to ace this one. Keep your eye on this one.


THE UGLY
Universal’s Live Feed: Says something about a sport when you can get the biggest meet in 3 years live, but you have to pay 10 bucks to get it. I don’t want to pay 10 bucks to get it. And if I do pay 10 bucks to get it, I want stellar commentary and pristine tech support. Reportedly the feed went down today. Not cool.

Illegal Dolphin Kick? Check out this Swimming World story on an alleged illegal dolphin kick used by Felipe Silva. Watch the video and sound off, because I’m pretty sure breaststroke is not butterfly, and visa-versa.

Shanghai Day 4: Phelps Is Ok, Pellegrini Shines

Michael Phelps won the 200 fly, ok? He's still pretty good at that event, in fact he's now never lost it at a World Championship meet where he's actually swam it. That's extremely impressive but also a reminder of the herculean standard that he always has to live up to. If he wins we all shrug our shoulders. If he loses we all go to Defcon 5. Here are my other highlights from Day 4 finals in Shanghai:

Femke Heemskerk flew off the blocks in the 200 freestyle, but Federica Pellegrini had the race under control the entire way. She blew past most of the field on the second 100 to finish in the gold medal position. Heemskerk, meanwhile, ended up with the splits of an overzealous age grouper. Somewhere I am picturing a very frustrated Jacco Verhaeren.

The men's 800 free was all Sun Yang, as like Lotte Friis he led wire to wire. Unlike Lotte Friis, however, he still looked catchable for most of the race. Ryan Cochrane managed to sit on Yang's hip for the majority of the race but was unable to make a move. Gergo Kis used a crazy 26.6 final 50 to blow past Ous Mellouli for bronze.


In the 200 IM, Lochte and Phelps showed that they could be faster than anyone else going 80-90%. I'll leave the rest of this race for Lisa later in the day.

Finally, in the most important event of the day: the 50 Breaststroke. Unfortunately for fans of classy celebration, Felipe Silva won and immediately started thrashing the water behind him and preening on the lane line. C'mon Van Der Burgh!

Finals Live Audio Stream



Streaming Live by Ustream

Nighttime Snack: It's Pal Joensen Time


Lest there be any doubt about who I am rooting for in the men's 800, let me state it now: Pal Joensen. If you're new to my blog, then you may not know the history I have with Pal. I probably shouldn't state it like that, because I've never had a direct conversation with him. It's more appropriate to say I have a history of writing about Pal. I hope to someday interview him (in Danish, of course). If you haven't heard this amazing story, let me give you a quick catch up.

I first wrote about Pal back in my floswimming days, which feel like just yesterday but is now over two years ago. I saw him in some results and was completely amazed. As I've referenced many times in this blog, I am Danish, and Pal comes from the Faroe Islands, officially a part of Denmark but culturally it's own identity. The Faroe Islands sit northwest of the British Isles, and up until very recently it was almost impossible to drive from one town to another. It is one of the most isolated countries in the world. It is home to roughly 40,000 people, and the sheep far outnumber the humans.There are no 50 meter pools in the archipelago. In fact, as recently as five years ago Pal was training in one of the country's several 16.6 meter pools. Since then he's been upgraded to a 4 lane, 25 meter pool in his home town of Vágur.

For a world class swimmer to emerge from these conditions is phenomenal, or so I thought when I started following Pal. What I discovered is that Pal had a very able coach, Jon Bjarnason, who I consider a friend
and who has been very gracious in talking swimming with me. The Chief Faroese swim blogger, Rókur Í Jákupsstovu, author of svimjing.com, has also been instrumental in helping me better understand where Pal is from. Beyond those two are many people who I don't even know but undeniably play a role in Pal's success. Pal is certainly the first Faroese swimmer to compete at such a high level but I feel fully confident that he will not be the last. The Faroese have constructed an exceedingly efficient swimming system out of harsh circumstances and are outpacing big brother Denmark in the age group ranks in many events. They make the absolute most of what they have.

In the end I realize I have a lot of reasons to cheer for Pal. For one, to be Faroese and Danish are not mutually exclusive. He will be one of Denmark's chief medal favorites in the 2012 Olympics. I also hope that his success will open a lot of eyes to what is happening in the Faroes so that others will emulate their success. Even though it's not entirely true, my last reason is the underdog story. I would love to see a man from the tiny Faroes battle the best in the world and come out on top. He's set himself up well with an excellent prelim 800. He proved he had the mettle for finals last summer in Europe, now its time to see it on the world stage.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Swim Brief Classic: Are You Feeling Me?


Ya know that feeling?…

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



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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


I love this sport.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Nighttime Snack: This Week in Swim Brief

Drama! It's World Championship Time!


Swim fans rejoice.  The 2011 FINA World Championships is upon us.  It has been 2 years since a major international long course competition where the whole world is invited and the entire planet gets together in a chlorine induced orgy of pool madness.


There's been a lot of drama leading up to these World Championships and it's reaching almost 7th grade schoolgirl levels.  Let's review 3 of them:

Cesar Cielo


We've got Cesar Cielo cleared to race.  The Swiss Court of Whatever We're Neutral held up the "warning" and other sprinters were clearly displeased.  Steffen Deibler, Roland Schoeman and others hit twitter with disbelief at the ruling.  An informal poll on Swimmerscircle seemed to reflect the swimmer's sentiments.  If he wins the win is tainted because it's going to look to some like he wasn't clean and he somehow doped and escaped the system....like the swimming Keith Richards.  It's a no-win, really. At least maybe now that there's a ruling we'll get a start list.

Michael Phelps

 Can Michael Phelps still swim?  Is he going to doggy paddle his way across the pool gasping for air like he has a severe case of COPD?  I doubt it.  Like most fans, I grew tired of the "this is a wake up call-I haven't really been putting the time in" line we heard time and time again.  Watching Phelps lose a 200 fly is like watching Britney Spears sing live, it just DOESN'T HAPPEN.  But it did indeed happen and it happened more than once.  Still, no one's counting Phelps out.  He's Michael Phreakin Phelps.  If anyone can pull a world record out of the crotch of his/her jammer it's this guy.

Twitter/Facebook 

The thought of the athletes not having access to twitter or facebook was horrifying.  I admit, I was despondent.  My husband thought something was wrong, maybe something was wrong with one of the kids.  What?  The kids?  Who?  We have insurance...whatever...they'll be fine.  Turns out the Chinese allow freedom of expression for everyone but the Chinese and everyone seems to have had no problems accessing social media once they got to Shanghai.  Really though, we can argue human rights violations some other time because I need to see everyone's twit pics of the competition pool.  I have my priorities straight.

I'll be so relieved when this shin-dig finally gets underway, I'm exhausted.  I'm looking forward to the biggest drama occurring between the lane lines.  We'll finally have the answers to our questions and we'll see the trajectory to London much more clearly.  Stay tuned to Swim Brief for not all but some of your World Championship insights.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Recruiting Do's and Don'ts


Over the weekend, I attended the Southern Sectional meet in Athens, GA. My primary purpose for being there were the swimmers I had competing in the meet. I was also their to recruit. Earlier this month, the recruiting season opened fully for students graduating in 2012. July 1st was the first date these prospects could receive phone calls and have coaches talk to them at practice or at meets. In talking with other college coaches at the meet, we all agreed on one thing- there isn't nearly enough education of these prospects. So I'm going to use this blog to give a few of my own suggestions to swimmers looking to continue on in college.


Do:


-Research the schools that you are interested in.

Do they have what you are interested in studying? How fast are the current swimmers on the team in comparison to you? How much better do swimmers get when they arrive on campus?

I am often shocked at how little research prospects do into the schools that they talk to. As a college coach I have become better at filtering out whether swimmers know the above. If you don't know you are doing yourself a disservice and could go very far down the road only to find out that the school is not a good fit for you academically or athletically.

-Prepare non-generic questions to ask coaches.

Every year I get some variation of "what is your training like" and "how many times a week do you practice". Both these questions are too vague to give you any sense of what you are getting into. If you really want to see what a team does, ask a coach for a training plan or to send you examples of some of their workouts. On the flip side, I find that prospects are often afraid of asking questions about things that are really important to them. Asking tough questions about a program can be a learning experience and the coaches reaction will tell you a lot about them. If they are extremely defensive you probably did not want to swim for them anyway. There may also be an explanation that you couldn't have thought of. More information is better. Some examples of non-generic, tough questions I have gotten are "Why didn't you have any NCAA qualifiers last year?" or "why didn't x swimmer improve?" or "how long do you expect to stay here at Y University?.

Don't:


-Be afraid to ask about scholarships (or admission spots, if applicable). You should expect a straight answer when you ask what your status is with a given school. Again, experience has taught me to be up front with prospects about whether they are a potential scholarship swimmer, a walk on, or short of making the roster from the very beginning. If a coach isn't establishing that with you, be the one to bring it up. This will give you a sense of where you stand with each school. If you have expectations for a big scholarship or admission, you want to know early if you are in that school's plans. Use the information to evaluate which schools have you fitting in where you expect to fit in.

-Base your entire decision on whether you like a particular coach. You cannot help that your decision will be somewhat influenced by the coach or coaches you interact with. You only need to look back as far as the past few months to realize, however, that college coaching staffs can be very volatile. Nearly every school in my conference, the ACC, has had at least one coaching change this past off season. Again, the coach should be part of your decision but you also want to make sure that there are a lot of reasons to pick the particular school that don't have to do with a person that might not be with you for all four years.

These are just a few simple starting suggestions! It is by no means a comprehensive guide. Please leave your own comments below and I will try to respond and give feedback as necessary.

Friday, July 15, 2011

That's An Olympic Gold Medalist


The mood was a little different than your typical sectional meet. I wouldn't call it electric- the place was pretty quiet. But all across the pool coaches and swimmer were whispering to each other. They wanted to know what they were going to get from Laure.


We got our answer off the 4th wall. I took the above picture right around the moment that Laure decided that she was going to win. She put on a burst and for a moment it was like she never went away. Megan Romano had a counter move and pushed her down the stretch. Laure finished with an incredibly respectable 1:59.3.

Of course, not 15 minutes later she had to swim the 100 back. Romano won that by a .1 despite a strong mid pool push from Manadou. You can see from the below photo the field was considerably closer




Thursday, July 14, 2011

Late Night Snack: Josh Davis in a Movie?

Hey kids, you can pursue excellence in life, even if your mom makes you wear a ridiculous hat and sweater vest like this.

Josh Davis is one of the most accomplished swimmers in history and in my opinion he may be our sport's greatest ambassador.  He is a real class act.  If you have never attended one of his Mutual of Omaha Breakout! Swim Clinics, you are missing out.  He is incredibly inspirational and after hearing him deliver his message to a large group of kids you will be left with no question about why he was chosen to be the captain of the 2000 American Olympic Squad in Sydney.

Even though he is the 39 year old father of five children, travels four days a week giving clinics and speeches, and is actually giving it another shot at picking up a trial cut in the 50 for 2012, Josh is not too busy to take on a new project.  He is now officially an actor.


MySanAntonio.com reported recently that Josh Davis has filled a small role in the upcoming film "Return to the Hiding Place" in which he is playing a Dutch resistance agent helping to protect Jews in Holland from the Nazi's in World War II.  The director says he is "totally comfortable in front of the cameras," but that won't surprise all of us swimmers.  Josh ain't scared of anything.  He has raced with the best in the world.

Early in the article he makes a joke about always wishing someone would ask him to play Aquaman because he can hold his breath for a long time, but at the end he quips about another superhero he would like to play:  Captain America.

Hey, I like Chris Evans and all, but can you imagine?...  For comic fans that might be the hardest role in history to fill, and in my opinion Josh Davis would totally rock that character.  This fanboy says hell yeah!

Put Josh Davis in that costume, slap all of his gold medals around his neck, and terrorists would probably just turn themselves in to the police at the movie premier.   

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Late Night Snack: The Adolph Kiefer Comic

Believe it or not, at the Berlin Games in '36 Adolph Kiefer might have been more famous to Germans and Americans than David Hasselhoff
 
I once joked with my girls high school team that some day I might be considered amazing enough to have an action figure of me made.  (If we ever get off our lazy butts and try to monetize this site it is gonna happen.  You know you want a Chris DeSantis action figure.)  My girls felt sorry for me and my sad delusions and actually put a cape on a Ken doll and cut out a picture of my face to glue to it.  Sweet gesture, I guess...

Anyway, my other fantasy is to have a comic book made of me, so you can imagine how jealous I was when I happened upon the Adolph Kiefer comic on-line.  Comic book history fascinates me as much as swimming history, so I double drooled over this golden age gem telling the story of one of the most iconic Olympic gold backstrokers in history.


If you don't know much about his history, you need to read up... he revolutionized backstroke in his time, was pulled out of a warm-up once by Hitler himself, ( I read a quote once that said something like "if I had any idea who this short silly man was I would have punched him in the face!") and says his most important work was coming up with training methods to help our military drastically reduce drowning rates.  Oh yeah... and he owns that swim shop up in Chicago.  You know, the one that sells "everything but the water."  This was an amazing guy.  I have met a few people who say that one of their thrills in swimming is having a conversation with the sharp-witted and friendly man.

Please take time to learn about Adolph and read the full comic.  You might actually recognize the names of some of his coaches and competitors as well.  Chris actually featured a pool in Cool Water that was named for one of them.

Braden Keith Loves Chinese Backstrokers

Mmmmmm...Gao Chang with whipped cream

I seriously can't believe what I just read. I went over to The Swimmers Circle to do my usual trolling for something to link to here for the afternoon. What do I find but Braden Keith's World Championship predictions?  I'll save you the time of reading the entire post. He picks the Chinese to sweep gold in women's backstroke. He's also been spending the last year mocking me for picking Gao Chang last year in the 100 back. As you might imagine, everyone has their opinion


I'll be posting some similar selections here in the near future. We will also have a roundtable discussion posted on the site with Ritchie MP Cummins, Tom Duke and a couple other guest in advance of the meet. You should also continue to expect Fearless Shanghai picks to appear during the night time. Although I am probably the president of the "America will lose" gloom and doom club, I don't think I'll go as far as Braden did and only pick 4 american medalists. That's just unpatriotic.

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's a Good Thing Chuck Wielgus Doesn't Read Blogs


Earlier this summer, I criticized www.usswimnscandal.com for teasing pieces of information that they didn't have. I was tired of hearing about two things in particular: a sealeddeposition from Chuck Wielgus and a purported letter of recommendation from John Leonard for George Gibney to enter the United States. Well, today, the site has what it says is the sealed deposition from Wielgus. As usual, I will summarize the most crucial parts for those of you who do not want to power skim through 40 pages.


The text jumps in the middle of a question and answer session between an attorney named Curran, who I believe is representing Jane Doe. Pylitt is the name of the USA Swimming attorney in this exchange and Wielgus is answering the questions. Curran asks Wielgus about Mitch Ivey. The exchange reveals important details about the much rumored "flagged list" that exists separately from the banned list of coaches. The flagged list exists for the purpose of coaches who are not current members that have not been convicted of a crime or been reported during their time as a USA Swimming member. What these coaches do have is something in their past that would trigger a USA Swimming investigation should they attempt to be members. I still couldn't get a sense for what the parameters are for making the flagged list Wielgus states that there are "a couple dozen" names on it and that the list is not publicly available.

We then go on to learn better the circumstances under which Everett Uchiyama left the organization. Wielgus details being given the information by Uchiyama's victim. He then told Uchiyama he would have to go before the board of review. Uchiyama, according to Wielgus, did not contest the victim's account and chose to resign instead of going before the national board. Wielgus can only state for sure that he told the USA Swimming President at the time.

Both incidents highlight the problem I addressed in my blog last week. USA Swimming only released it's banned list under intense pressure. The result of their keeping the list a secret was that places like the Country Club of Colorado were completely unaware of the circumstances of Uchiyama's departure from USA Swimming. Similarly, coaches from the flagged list can work outside of the bounds of USA Swimming with no idea of the information that USA Swimming has.

The rest of the purported exchange consists of Curran asking Wielgus what he knows about specific incidents. Wielgus says he heard a rumor that Rick Curl had settled out of court with a former swimmer. He says that Jim Wood came to him with a rumor that Mark Schubert had an inappropriate relationship with Dara Torres and that he contacted Torres directly about it: she denied it vehemently. He also states that he has made two attempts to contact Deena Deardurff Schmidt without any response- one e-mail and another by letter.

The title of this post comes from late in the document. Wielgus states "I don't think I've ever gone to a blog in my life". Seems like my post about Wielgus not using the internet wasn't as much of a joke as I thought. 

It's pretty clear that Wielgus still thinks we are in the 1980s. The definition of privacy has changed dramatically in the recent past, particularly with the internet. It is my belief, as I stated last week that sexual abuse in swimming thrives on the secrecy that Wielgus protects. Many of my friends have urged me to stop writing about this topic- not because they don't agree but because they fear I will hurt my future by so publicly disagreeing with the power elite of swimming. I guess I should consider myself lucky if I ever meet Chuck Wielgus because he doesn't read blogs.

The Developmental Stages of Swimmer Potty Training

This kid is still in developmental stage 1

Last week, when Gus was telling the story of his coming-of-age in swimming, I’m sure many readers were taken back by the part about getting pee’d on in the shower by his teammates in a weird sort of initiation.  I chuckled, but mostly because I was surprised that he admitted to it.  I would have said I was the one doing the peeing.  Non-swimmers really don’t need to know that part of the story, eh?

The fact is, if you were a male swimmer, you get it.  That’s just part of it. And don’t give me a damn lecture about chloramines… I know all that stuff.  I just don’t care.  Peeing is a sport specific skill for us.  It takes focus and perseverance to attain mastery.  I can tell a rookie in the pool by watching how stiff their strokes are, how inaccurate their turns and streamlines are, and by the fact that they still take bathroom breaks. 

Don’t believe me?  Please, allow me to take you through the developmental stages of this ever so important technical aspect of competitive swimming.

1)  We are all born with the innate skill of letting loose in the water.  It is kind of like the breath-holding reflex that babies have in the pool that goes away right before you sign them up for their first swim lesson at 6 months.  Kids can just relax and let it go to maximize their playtime.  We have all seen the kid who pauses and gets that look on his face when he is playing in the zero depth area.  Sometimes it comes from the wrong end and the pool has to shut down for a few hours.  Sometimes they aren’t with it enough to realize they shouldn’t announce it: “Mom, I don‘t have to go potty anymore!”  The really clueless, genius and talented ones actually climb up on the diving board and pull down their suits to test parabola theorem with their pee stream.

The statue is of a local hero in Issaquah, Washington who saved the local 50 meter pool by putting out the guard shack fire of 1979 from atop the 3 meter diving board.

2)  That innate reflex eventually goes away when young Johnny joins swim team and takes way too many bathroom breaks because he wants to get out of the hard part of practice.  He is probably crossing streams with one of the other boys who chose to skip out on the set too.  Some of them actually still believe there is a chemical in the pool that will turn the water around them into a red cloud to identify them as a pool pee’er.  Eventually they all figure out that it‘s a wives‘ tale.

3)  All swimmers soon learn to just stay in the pool so coach doesn’t yell at them.  This typically correlates with the time a child makes his first AAA cut and realizes that practice actually has some value.  At this stage we all get really good at peeing between sets and our pee face eventually becomes very similar to our “pretending to listen very carefully to what coach is saying at this critical moment” face.

4)  Some time around sophomore year in high school, after having been pee’d on by upper classmen as a freshman, you start becoming comfortable enough with your potty training to actually start peeing on those poor suckers who were born a little later than you.  The first time is always the funniest because you never realize why this senior is taking such an interest in you and is invading your personal bubble in the shower while asking you about your goals until everyone starts laughing about someone else’s urine running down your leg.  Haha.  If not for the smell, this would be a real hit at parties.  It is comedy gold.  Gold, I tell ya!

5)  At the elite level there is a new element added:  these guys are expected to be able to pee on command when WADA comes knocking on their door for a sample.  Some of them are so well-trained that they actually pee their pants any time someone knocks on their door at 7am.  In workout, they can actually pee while they streamline on a set without missing a beat.  Anyone who swims at a world class level cannot afford to give up a single second to run to the bathroom.  An Olympic medal might be on the line.  Some other guy in some other country is training just as hard as you are, and he isn’t taking a bathroom break.  Suck it up.  The best in the world can pee while in full sprint. Jason Lezak can pee through his pores.  Seriously, he is that good.

Cartman hates training in Lezak's lane

This whole peeing in practice thing is the real reason why non-permeable fabrics were banned.  Think about it.  You wouldn’t want to pee in a Jaked01 either.  Really. I imagine the legs might fill up like the kid in this video. While I admire that astronaut lady who drove 17 hours in the adult diaper so she wouldn’t have to stop for potty breaks and think she was awesomely hardcore, I would have to draw a line somewhere.  Peeing in the tech suit might just be taking things a bit too far. 

Some things are too disgusting to even talk about.  Sick.  Just sick.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Nighttime Snack: News of the World

Apparently one of the leading magazines capitalizing on scandal couldn't survive a scandal of its' own.
I'm not sure if anyone else out there noticed, but that tabloid that posted the Bong-gate pictures of Michael Phelps has shut down. News of the World was a high selling part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire and might have crossed a line that even made Murdoch's other line-crossing baby, FOX News, not want to be associated with them.


While I like to make jokes about the bong incident and was genuinely disappointed with the whole situation, I must say that I was disgusted with News of the World and even more disappointed with the people at the party in South Carolina who betrayed Michael's trust by selling the pics to those sleazy bums.

This time News of the World was amid a scandal that involved bribery and illegal wire tapping. Go figure.

Good riddance.

Gotta Love the Dead Heat

Thank God for touchpad timing!  Place judges suck!
A couple of weekends ago, our summer league bought a wireless stopwatch timing system, and our head official said he is open to the idea of the league no longer using place judges. Yes, our summer league is still in the 70’s in many ways.  We still used place judges, we still use pink and blue cards in the bullpen for all ages and we still have the 8 hour session limit instead of the much more family friendly four hours we all know and love today.

“Well, what should we do with place judges?” he asked, expecting a little discussion.

“Hang the SOB’s!” I yelled.


The crowd of coaches at the meeting cheered in response.  “Let’s get ‘em!”  and we mobbed over to the volunteer tent and started to throw rocks at them and spit and call them names.

Well, it only kind of went like that…  I really did yell “hang ‘em!” but I think only one other person thought it was funny.  Come to think of it, hardly anyone in the summer league thinks I am funny.  What do they know, eh?  One of the coaches actually picked up a rock to throw at me.  But then a miracle happened:  as a group we actually decided to do away with place judging.  Yay!

The issue with place judges is that they seem to make it much more difficult to get the results posted correctly and without delay because they were wrong more often than they were right and it took several parent volunteers to sort out the mess every time there was a stopwatch malfunction.  It was like we had found the best possible way on earth to get parents to argue with officials.  They just weren’t worth the effort.  No one wanted the job.  Maybe they were all intentionally bad at writing down place finishers in order as some sort of passive-aggressive tactic that would keep them from ever being asked to do that job again.  Who knows?  They just made a lot of really obvious bad calls.  The timing system was a gift from God.

I love seeing people tie in swim meets.  Touchpad timing puts the sport of swimming in a rare position in that we can accept the dead heat as a true tie.  In the Olympics I know that they used to go out to the 1000th of a second to determine the winner back in the day, but now they actually accept that a tie to the hundredth of a second is a real-deal tie.  Americans have tied for Olympic Gold medals twice, once was the first official swimming tie in Olympic history when Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer hit the wall together for the 100 free to start the games in Los Angeles in 1984. The other was when Gary Hall Jr. and Anthony Ervin shared the 50 to end the games in Sydney in 2000. I will never forget watching either of those.  The ladies in ‘84 are actually my first Olympic swimming memory.

These girls really knew how to get the home meet party started.  Thank you ladies!

When I see things like the Swiss 4-way tie in the 50 fly that happened last week I have to wonder how it would have been handled with no touchpad timing.  Who would summer league place judges have picked to win this one?  How crazy would it have been if that had happened in the Olympics?  Four golds?  Would they ever do that?


My favorite story of the tie actually came from a swim-off at the Western Zone meet in Clovis when I was 15 years old.  Piper Yuknis from Team Alaska tied for 8th in the prelim of the 15-18 girls 100 back with someone from Cali.  They decided to swim it off to see who made the A final, so all of the Alaskan team stayed to support our girl.  We all thought it was pretty cool when they tied again.  The coaches got together and decided to give the girls twenty minutes to recover and then swim it off again.

I remember that we all wanted to get back to the hotel to eat and rest for finals, so when the girls actually tied again, it wasn’t so funny any more!  To make it worse, the coaches still wouldn’t just flip a coin.  We stayed and did another swim-off twenty minutes later!  Three ties in a row for these two girls!  So finally, Piper wins the next swim-off.  She came back to the group with a smile on her face until someone said, “Yay!  Now you get to do it again in finals!”

Ugh.  To make it worse, on top of the five times she swam the 100 back that day between prelims, multiple swim-offs and finals… I am pretty sure she swam it on the medley relay that day as well.  She was about five seconds slower in the final, but hey... she was guaranteed 8th place, right?  That poor girl who lost and got stuck in the B final probably ended up sixteenth.  I don't know.  I sure as hell wasn't gonna stick around to watch.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The British Are Coming!


As Braden Keith has aptly noted in his writeups of European Juniors, Britain is kicking some continental butt right now. Britain hasn't exactly set the world on fire for the last few decades, so the results beg the question: how good are they really doing. In order to find out, I compared their results so far at Euro Juniors with last summers American Junior Nationals in Irvine. The results are pretty surprising.

For instance, the banner event for British junior men was the 200 IM. They took 1-2 in that event. When you compare them to US Junior Nationals, it's not even close, with Britain recording a 2:01.57 and a 2:02.41 and the winner at US Juniors going 2:04.1. Although here would be a good place to note that David Nolan did not swim at that Junior meet, and we can assume that Britain isn't holding somebody that goes 1:59 back at home.

In another event, the British managed a 4-5 finish with two 3:54 400 freestyles. Their times would have wedged them solidly into 2nd and 3rd place at US Juniors last summer. Lastly, Britain's 800 freestyle relay put up a respectable 7:23.36, with splits of 1:52.85, 1:51.75, 1:49.78 and 1:48.98. The US aggregate from last summer is nearly identical, albeit missing Nolan again.

While these results may seem modest, consider that British men outranked Americans in just one Olympic long course event last summer (100 backstroke). While I noted in an earlier blog that Britain has had exciting Juniors fail to pan out in the past, Britain's results could also indicate that they could be well on their way to actually making a difference in Rio. Unfortunately for them I don't see too many 19-20 year olds winning in London, but undoubtedly the Olympics will augment the momentum they have right now. If Britain develops senior athletes with anywhere near the efficiency of its smaller regional neighbors (Netherlands, Denmark, Faroe Islands) they could seriously affect the power balance in World swimming.

Jiro Nagasawa: The Inventor of Butterfly

There's no way FINA has the balls to DQ me for not doing a single breaststroke pull or kick in this breaststroke race!  I'm Japanese!


One of my swimmers recently asked me after practice if the man who invented butterfly was still alive.  Being the swim geek I am I started explaining that butterfly had been done in many forms as variations on the breaststroke but didn’t actually become it’s own stroke until around 1954.  Then I mentioned that I thought I remembered that the man given credit for actually “inventing” modern butterfly was a Japanese man who had passed away last year.


...and I was right.  I googled it on my phone and Swimming World actually has a write up that shows Jiro Nagasawa was inducted in 1993 to the International Swimming Hall of Fame, was 6th in the 1952 Olympics in the 200 breast and passed away at 78 years old in 2010.  I went to his bio at the ISHOF site and started reading through it, reading out loud cool factoids about how the butterfly arms had been used in the breaststroke often but his addition of the dolphin kick was controversial and is what made butterfly split off to become it's own stroke. (You know, kind of like the way FINA just up and changed the rules for that other Japanese guy in that other breaststroke race a few years ago so they wouldn't have to DQ him.)  He also had arthritis in his knees, and even more amazingly he experimented with side breathing to help him improve on his world records decades before Mel Stewart first made you turn your head funny when you watched him swim.

So, after my lengthy soliloquy about how cool Jiro Nagasawa was and how glad I was that she asked so I could learn all this cool stuff, my swimmer says to me with a look on her face like I had just described in detail my most recent trip to the bathroom: “I don’t care about all that.  I just wanted to know if he was still alive so I could kill him if he wasn‘t already dead.  After that set we just did, I really hate butterfly.”

Hmph… I guess kids these days just can‘t appreciate a good moment of swim geekiness when they see it.  Whatev…

Friday, July 8, 2011

To Swim or Not To Swim


In the fall of 2000, after Michael Phelps became the youngest member of the 2000 Olympic team, he was interviewed in a newspaper. The article featured a young, baby-faced Phelps talking into a microphone. He was wearing a Michigan hat featuring a bright yellow "M" logo. The interviewer asked him about the hat. He said something like, "It's always been a dream to go to Michigan." 

A few years later, Phelps became a Wolverine.


But he wasn't allowed to compete in the NCAA. Phelps made the decision to "turn professional" and accept money/sponsors. This meant accepting prize money at the Olympics, for 8 Olympic medals (6 golds) -- money not many would turn down for NCAA eligibility. Subsequently, Phelps was never allowed to compete in one "official" NCAA race, though he did swim some non-scoring exhibitions, sometimes against my college team. 

Everyone knows the troubles of Ohio State, another Big Ten team. The scandals. "TattooGate." It ignited an already-hot debate: "Should NCAA athletes be paid?" You can argue both ways -- sports analysts/columnists do. While I've been an advocate against paying NCAA athletes (isn't a college scholarship enough?), let's take a look at the Michael Phelps situation.

Arguably, when Phelps gave up NCAA eligibility, it hurt the NCAA. It's like Michael Jordan not allowed to compete in the NCAA. It hurt the NCAA. Phelps couldn't race in the Big Ten Championships, couldn't race at the NCAA Championships. There are no NCAA records set by Phelps, nothing official in the NCAA record books. It's like he never existed -- because he didn't. Phelps would compete alongside the NCAAs, swimming in another meet, shaved and tapered, and set ridiculous records in yards -- records that would have lit up the scoreboard, smashed current NCAA records, brought the crowd to their feet, made headlines, perhaps even gotten airtime on ESPN/SI/NBC. 

Crowds would have packed the stands. Media. In other words, interest in swimming. 

Instead, Phelps had to exhibition his races, swimming during diving breaks, oftentimes by himself.  Which still garnered interest. But not the same. 

Is this ideal? No, of course not. You don't want the Michael Jordan of swimming unable to compete in your organization. It hurts everyone involved.

You can argue that NCAA athletes should never get paid. They shouldn't. But consider the unlikely event of another "Phelps situation" -- a situation where the greatest Olympic athlete of all-time was prohibited from participating in the NCAA -- and say to yourself, "Couldn't we find a better solution here?"

We've been seeing some of the same with Missy Franklin. Superstar in the making. Capable of anything, it seems. This year alone, she's given up $40,000 in prize money (she won both the UltraSwim and the USA Swimming Grand Prix series, and the year isn't over yet). She donated it to charity. A college scholarship is the same cost -- around 40k/year at a private school like Stanford -- but you have to wonder what will happen if she continues down this Phelspian model of Olympic success. What then? Will she be forced to choose between making a living or the joys & memories of NCAA swimming? 

I don't know the answer. I don't pretend to know the answer. And certainly this is a relatively isolated incident, as not many swimmers could ever achieve the marktability that Phelps did between 2004-2008. 

But swimming -- like many other Olympic sports -- has no "next step." There is no professional league, no Super Bowl, no Wimbleton, no PGA Tournament. The Olympics are it. 

Isn't it in the best interest of everyone -- the athlete, the NCAA, the sport of swimming -- to find some creative solution? It just doesn't make sense, to ban the greatest Olympic athlete ever from your organization. 

Does it?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Nighttime Snack: Swim to Hear

A few weeks ago a friend asked me if I had seen Ryan Bullock's website yet.  Apparently Ryan is training again.  He sent me the link and I couldn't believe what I saw.  Ryan is swimming for a cause, and it is one that he is very passionate about.  Check it out in the video below.



Please take the time to visit Ryan's website, www.swimtohear.org and help spread the word.  If you browse through the site you will find a lot of great info and resources.  You will even see a very moving video of an 8 month old hearing sounds for the first time.  Ryan has officially set this up as a non-profit organization, so please don't hesitate to donate to the cause. 

A Heartwarming Tale: How a Member of Team USA Saved a Swim Career: Happy July 4th!


My girls only began swim lessons last fall. They love it, they really do. I know this because I'm constantly asking them, "are you sure you don't want to play soccer...or softball....or kickball.....dominoes?" It probably comes out more like, "YOU LIKE IT! YOU REALLY LIKE IT! RIGHT? RIGHT? RIGHT?" Whether it's the truth of they're afraid I will stop feeding them and caring for them if they hate it (kidding! kidding!) they tell me the love it and I can tell they do. Awesome. Go big or go home, ladies.



We go to the pool at Lifetime Fitness and the rest of the kids are dicking around with their water guns and splishy-splashy and my girls are working on breaststroke timing. So one day I thought it would be a good idea for them to work on starts. Now, there's rules. The lap pool is for 12 and older ONLY. Don't think you can be some age grouper and practice on your own time. Sorry, kid. Take your passion, dedication and goggles....shut up and go down the water slide like you're supposed to. Okay, so I knew the rule but I thought since the lanes were empty and it was close to closing and I was standing right there it would be okay. One of my girls, Anna, wanted to work on starts.

All of the sudden a blast of whistles came roaring out of the sky. I almost peed myself-scared the hell out of me- I can only imagine what it sounded like to my daughter. "No one under the age of 12 in the lap pool" the lifeguard yelled. "I understand" I said in my calmest tone, "but she swims well and she's trying to make the swim team. She needs to practice starts."

"Forget it, Mom. It's okay. I don't want to do it. I don't think I want to swim anymore anyways. No jeah!" I shot the putzy kid a look, "SEE WHAT YOU DID?" He shrugged his pimply shoulders, muttered something about the rules, called me "ma'am" and walked off. Now, I know my kid can be a *little* dramatic and has a tendency to overreact (I have no idea WHERE she gets it from) so I talked to her, her dad talked to her, her sister talked to her. She was embarrassed and upset. She's a perfectionist. She's a little....intense. I wasn't making any progress and neither was anyone else.

So what does a super swim mom and swim fan do in these situations? It's easy, a no-brainer. They bring in a National Teamer. Through the wonders of social networking I was able to ask USA Swimming's 2009 and 2010 Male Swimmer of the Year, Ryan Lochte (who had shown tremendous kindness and thoughtfulness to my girls at meets before) for some help. I told him what happened, how she said "no jeah" and she never wants to swim again. Oh, and it was the day after her birthday. Can he help?" Of course, I never expected to hear anything back. Why should I? Why would he respond to some mom worried about her 8 year old kid? Like the dude has nothing else going on, right? With his keg tossing, tire flipping and 18,000 meter practices. Ten minutes later my Blackberry was flashing. "No jeah? hahahaha." After picking myself up from the floor I managed to type "just the fact that you responded is so nice. It happened on her birthday. Can you wish her a happy birthday? Seriously, she'd be so psyched she'd forget all about this other drama." The next day there was this.......




Seriously? Name ONE other sport where one of it's premiere athletes is going to take the time to do that? You think your kid misses a touchdown pass they're going to hear from Drew Brees? I don't think so. I see this all the time with swimmers on twitter. It takes a fraction of a second and it means so much to the fan. Name another sport where your kid can get a robo call from Olympic medalists. Here kids, great meet today! Matt Grevers has something to say to you. Do you know what that means to a kid?

So, yes, she got back in the pool. She has the tweet on her wall in her bedroom. Of course, I know my daughter will never win any Olympic medals or break any world records. The world would have continued on it's axis if she never got in a pool again...but to me she's important...and her feelings and frustration were important. The fact that she was important enough for the 22 seconds it took for Ryan Lochte to write that tweet is immeasurable and just one more reason why I love this sport and it's athletes.

Happy July 4th, America. Team USA, go kick some ass at Worlds. We're so proud of all of you.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Nighttime Snack: Charlene Wittstock Marries Fabulously Rich Deadbeat Dad


It is by far the second most talked about royal wedding of the year. Charlene Wittstock, South African swimming Olympian from the year 2000, married the Prince of Monaco, Albert. When I first heard of this story, I thought "what a great story!". I mean, what could be more picture book than a world class athlete from our sport marrying a prince. Then I googled Prince Albert.


It turns out Albert has had two children before this marriage. In both cases it seems readily apparent that he has not taken raising them seriously. In one case he took pains to avoid establishing paternity. Also, am I the only one who thinks its plainly ridiculous that in 2011 only a child from his marriage can "succeed" him in running a country? Too many things to get into on a swimming blog. On the plus side, he's got enough money to make everyone happy.

SOCIAL KICK EXTREME!



We just had one of the strangest morning practices we have ever had.  It all started the night before.  We were in the middle of a zone 3 set, which is pretty much VO2 max for 20x 100 in the long course pool.  I was trying to make a deal with the kids.  If you can impress me by hitting your goal paces the rest of the way through the set we will have a recovery workout in the morning.


“Yay!”  the team cheered.

“We’ll even do lots of kick.”  I elaborated.

“Ugh!  No!  That‘s not fair!”  They exclaimed, looking down pathetically at the water as though I had told them I was kidding about the recovery day and then kicked them in the gut just to make sure they heard me.

“What?”  I asked.  “What’s wrong with kick?  It will give your shoulders a break.”

“We never do easy kick!  You always tell us that easy kick is a waste of time so all the kick we do is super hard!  That is not a recovery practice!”

Hmph… they were actually listening when I said that part.  Go figure.

“Can we do social kick?”  they asked.

Oh great, I thought.  It’s been years.  I hoped they had forgotten about the whole social kick thing we did once when they were all 8 and unders. I don’t know where I got that dumb idea, but I guarantee you they don’t remember a single word of anything else they did in their first 5 years of swim practices.  Apparently the legend has been passed on from year to year, kept alive just enough to never have disappeared into swim mythological obscurity.

So in sarcasm I stupidly said, “Sure, why not?  Let’s all just bring cups and saucers and rest them on our kickboards and make a stinkin’ tea party out of it.”

So that’s what they did.  They spent the entire cool down cooking up a plot to brew tea and bring muffins to practice so that they could enjoy the one easy kick set I was going to allow them to have ever.  They were gonna enjoy it to the extreme.

…as a matter of fact, in case you can’t hear it well enough in the video below, the three girls who hate kickboards the most stayed up late to watch Harry Potter so they could brush up on their English accents.  You know… to make it like an authentic 800-yards-worth-of-wasting-your-time English tea party.

Ugh.  That’ll teach me to open my big mouth.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Nighttime Snack: The Spitzstache

So, I was watching "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" the other day, and Bob Costas was the guest host. During the usual banter, the topic of NBC's Olympics came up (duh) and the recent acquisition about the winning bid. Jimmy was joking/asking about the topic of athlete's shaving body hair, and Costas told him it was "to reduce drag." Then he told the story of Mark Spitz, and his mustache.

To me, the Spitzstache is the epitome of iconic glory. Here's a guy who won 7 gold medals while hauling around a Burt Reynolds-esque 'stache. The legend, as evident by Bob Costas' retelling (quickly, but still) on national TV, simply proves that mustaches are awesome, and swimmers wearing mustaches are the absolute cowboys of cowboys. 
So my question is this: 

When will we see another Olympic swimmer donning a mustache?

Olympic finals. NBC. Standing on block 4, wearing a mustache, proud and loud and hairy. Will it ever happen? Sometimes I see Michael Phelps growing out facial hair and a part of me thinks, "Maybe he just wants to win a gold with a mustache." Outside of flat-out wearing swim trunks and a mullet and winning an Olympic gold medal, or tweeting mid-race at the wall, "I'm going to win an Olympic gold!" -- winning a gold medal with a mustache is the Chuck Norris feat in the swimming world. 

Here are 5 other body hair choices that would earn my respect, if I saw this behind the blocks at the 2012 London Olympics:

5.) Chest/back hair. When was the last time someone didn't shave (not counting full-body suits) for an Olympic final? When did that become a "thing"? And, better question, will it ever become "not a thing"?  I doubt this would happen as soon as 2012, but you never know. Every day in Brooklyn, I see more and more hipsters embracing hair. Could be the next big thing. 

4.) Epically Long Beard. This isn't as cool as the mustache, though arguably, is more drag. It's just more fashionable, which makes it less cool. But still, a beard would be awesome, especially if it was 5 inches long. Swimmers could say, "Oh this? It's my gold medal beard. I'll shave it when I win my gold medal." That would be epic. 

3.) Mo-hawk. Almost a shaved head. The punk-rock swimmer would embrace this. 

2.) Muttonchops. Gary Hall Jr. did this for a while, though I'm not sure he did it for any big meet. Again, you only get points in my eyes if you wear this for a big race, like the Olympics. 

1.) Mullet. Obviously. No cap. All drag. 100% pride. 

No piece of body hair will overtake the level of infamy that the Spitzstache has acquired in Olympic glory. But we'll see. Maybe in 100 years from now, they'll have some other cool, crazy, odd piece of body hair that we haven't even dreamed about. Maybe involving an epic Unibrow. I just don't know. 

Freaky Friday with NatCo





I can say with confidence I'm happy with my life a good 87% of the time.  That number tends to fluctuate during long school breaks and when my husband travels for work and calls me from the Bellagio after a really long day of "meetings" but I would say 87% is pretty accurate.  The other 13% of the time I want to be Natalie Coughlin.  I want to do like a "Freaky Friday" kind of thing, trade places and be Natalie Coughlin.

I think she's the epitome of fabulous.  She has won 11 Olympic medals in 2 Olympics. She has won a medal in every Olympic event she has ever entered.  She is the most decorated female swimmer in World Championship history.  At 15 she was getting Summer Sander's autograph.  At 15 I was going to this drive-in outside of Menomonie Falls with this guy in a "band" and not watching any of Breakfast Club (if you know what I'm sayin'.)  Different goals.


I mean.....look at her.....



Her teeth are perfectly straight but they're white without that really off-putting "Brite Smile white" everyone in LA has.  Her smile is genuine. I have not had the privilege of meeting her but I have friends who have and they say she's very sweet.  A friend of mine has pictures of her kids with Natalie and as much as I know my friend's kids love their mom they look perfectly happy to stay right where they are sitting in Natalie's lap.  On twitter she retweets everyone's request for good luck for a faster IM or to help find a child that's missing or to get the word out about someone's charity.  

I mean.....look at her.......


Did you see her on Dancing With the Stars?  Yeah, I watched it that season.  I never watch DWTS and I tuned in for her.  My own kids could be on DWTS and I wouldn't watch it.   It's ridiculous.  However, I watched it for  Natalie and she was athletic and graceful and acted like a total lady.  When she got kicked off I stopped watching and immediately took it off my Tivo.  Seriously people,  this is what's wrong with America. 

I want to eat turnips and parsnips with ginger lime vinaigrette grown in my own organic garden.   I want to make honey from my own bee farm and have chickens so I can crack an organic egg whenever I wish. I want to snack on dandelions while sitting on my deck with my dogs...surrounded by nothing but the sound of peace and quiet.  I bet her dogs are well-trained, too. 

For dinner I want to pop on down to Napa and eat at French Laundry at a table set up overlooking the vineyard. When I'm thirsty instead of a Diet Coke I want to reach for a healthy- yet -satisfying coconut water.  For those times when I just haven't gotten enough exercise after training at the Olympic level all day I'd love to drive down to the Pacific and have a quick body surfing session.

I mean....look at her......


So Natalie, if you're reading this and you want to switch places with an exhausted, out of shape mother of triplets whose organic food supply comes from the freezer section at Trader Joes  please email me at swimbrief@gmail.com.  Again, it wouldn't be permanent.  Maybe a long weekend after Worlds?  Let's work something out.