Before this National meet started, I stated unequivocally what I would be watching for- the young swimmers that would replace the current generation of US stars. Depending on who you ask, we have just seen it. I remain more doubtful. While we did see a legendary NAG record go down over the course of this meet, the swims are not keeping pace with international competition. Why do I keep hammering on this point? Let me explain:
First, I've always made a point of compariing US results to international results. I've only had a blog for three years, so if it feels like I'm constantly pessimistic about swimming talent development in the United States, know that it's a recent trend. I write this blog as a way to engage with fellow coaches, swimmers and fans. So far no one's been able to give me a reasonable eomeback.
The most frequent arguments I get against what I write are on pool decks (I wish some of these guys would comment online). I will paraphrase them here -they range from semi-credible to ridiculous. The semi-credible retort is to show current results. We are certainly by far the strongest swimming country in the world and have proven that we only need a few stars to pan out to continue to do so. It is very possible that I am wrong and we will have swimmers comparable to Phelps/Lochte by Rio.
On the ludicrous end, I had the tired old argument that the 19-20 year old international swimmers that were so dominant in Shanghai are clearly products of doping. This is one of the most tired put downs we place on international results. The logic follows that if anyone is doing that much better than us, they must be cheating, because WE'RE THE BEST.
And therein lies the problem. I think that swim coaches in the United States do very little to study why pockets of success creep up around the world. We suppose that they are perhaps random, that in a few years Danish women's freestyle won't be really good and that this is the Faroe Islands one hurrah. I've tried to highlight those accomplishments in my blog to pique curiosity about just how those undermatched programs succeed where we do not.
Lastly, lest you think I am pointing the figure everywhere else, I know very much that I (and my cohort of college and club coaches) deserve a lot of the blame here. There is no lack of talent in the United States, nor is it that "kids these days" don't want to work hard. We have become stale and overconfident in our methods. It's time to look more outside the country, learn, and be better.