Tuesday, December 18, 2012

That Turn!

Remember back in the day when we used to have to touch the wall during the backstroke flip turn?  I like to tell my swimmers how lucky they are that they never had to do that.  It was so much slower than what we do now that Mark Tewksbury broke the world record 53 seconds after FINA signed the paperwork saying we can just go ahead and flip without staying on our backs until we touch the wall with our hand.  (Of course, we were allowed to stand on the gutter back then for the back start so I guess we didn't have it so bad.)

Lately we have all seen the bucket turn and the crossover-touch turn coming back with some top notch IM'ers for the transition from back to breast...  my swimmers always comment on it when they see it and we spend a little time practicing it, but the cross-over is really only worth the time for the absurdity because the kids take forever to get it even when I demonstrate.  (Or maybe, because I demonstrate.) It's like watching a blooper reel.  Of course, it is probably not fast enough to justify skipping the open turn or even the standard back flip anyway, right?  I mean, we were pretty good at it back in the early 90's but it was really just a fancy way to go just about the same speed as the open turn...

Then again, none of us were quite the level of athlete Ryan Lochte is.  Watch him break that SCM 100 IM record.  Sorry that the video is a little blurry, but at about 3:29 on the video you will see the greatest back to breast transition ever.  Yes, it is even better than the one Phelps did in London that made you nearly burn up your DVR remote when you re-watched it so many times.  Did he really even touch that wall?

Go ahead... watch it again.

and again.

and again.

And now show it to your swimmers so they can waste a half hour of practice time trying to figure out how in the hell he did that.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Missy Franklin Gives Up NCAA Eligibility

Franklin gets emotional in London after pop star
Justin Bieber sent her a supportive message via twitter.
December 7, 2012
From Staff Reports

Aurora, Colorado--

When four time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin came home from swim practice on Tuesday evening, her self-professed "Bieber fever" spiked.  She had received a care package full of t-shirts, CD's, posters, and other memorabilia that would make any Justin Bieber fan uncontrollably excited.  During the Olympic games, Franklin expressed her excitement over a tweet and a video message the singer had sent her, and since the games Bieber has continued to express his admiration.

"Beebs sent me an awesome care package."  She told The Swim Brief in an interview.  "My mom was so cute the way she had laid it out on the table for me to see when I walked in the door.  I just started bawling."

The catch?  Franklin had famously decided to maintain her amateur status, foregoing millions of dollars in possible sponsorships as a professional swimmer, to continue competing with her high school team and with Cal where she has already signed a letter of intent.

Little did she know that the CEO of the NCAA, Mark Emmert, would soon knock on her door.  The NCAA recently took a "zero tolerance" stance toward all things Justin Beiber.  "This Beaver (sic) fellow," Emmert told reporters, "He just... well, we couldn't take it any more.  Half of us at the last committee meeting have daughters in middle school.  You get those songs stuck in your head, and when you realize what song you were just singing you feel so bad about yourself for the rest of the day.  We just decided that the NCAA should have higher standards and we needed to crack down."

Franklin's mother was well aware of the NCAA rule.  "I looked at this as an opportunity to have a sort of intervention.  I mean, how insane was it for her to pass up all those millions of dollars?  I get it, she is young and money is not the most important thing in her life, but my God!"  She said in an interview.  "This was the only way to knock some sense into her!  If she doesn't care about money, maybe she cares about these silly Justin Bieber posters enough to settle for being a multi-millionaire."

Missy's USA Swimming club coach, Todd Schmitz, added "I have tried to talk to her about this problem before... not about the money, but about the Justin Bieber thing.  Any time I sit her down to have a serious discussion about it her eyes glaze over and she starts quietly mouthing the words to the baby baby song.  There is just no reaching her.  Hopefully some good can come from this.  With the millions she is going to make by giving up her amateur status, perhaps she can afford some real help from certified therapists."

Cal coach Terri McKeever reacted surprisingly well after hearing the news that she is losing her top recruit.  "While it is difficult to lose a talent like Missy Franklin from our incoming class, over the last couple of years we have realized that they call it Bieber Fever because it is an illness.  I support the NCAA zero tolerance policy toward Miss Bieber and am relieved to have learned of this problem before bringing it on campus.  We wish Missy the best of luck with her future professional swimming career, and we hope that it is not too late for Missy to seek effective counseling."


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Hospitality Table May Be the Death of Me

Free food.  Free food everywhere.  The gluttony never stops.  When I was a young coach I used to put meets on my schedule based on how good the hospitality table was.  Some clubs even get a reputation.  I would email the coaches to make requests.  "Are you gonna serve that yummy fruit pizza again?"  It's almost like some kind of a neighborhood competition you would see on The Real Housewives of New Jersey.  Seriously.  It has gone too far.

"You's gonna come to my swim meet and badmouth my cinnamon rolls?! Your meet didn't even have a cappuccino machine!"
Three full meals served every day of a weekend invitational would be enough, but noooo......  they have tubs of cookies and bowls of candy just a few feet away from where we coaches park to watch our swimmers race.  Ten steps to an unlimited supply of chocolaty goodness?  Sure.  Why not?  If I used a pedometer it would actually measure my anti-fitness, as it would record nothing but the steps I am taking to and from food.

Sorry kid.  I didn't get your splits.  I had to use my heat sheet as a napkin and I think I accidentally ate my stopwatch.

How do I know they are trying to kill me?  It's the wagon.  They send a kid in to do the dirty work.  A seven year old with a funny Christmas hat, pulling a radio flyer wagon full of sugary drinks and cookies and breakfast burritos and syrup. Oh, you brought a tub of frosting to spread on my bacon?  How thoughtful! Come on, kid.  I am trying to take splits here.  How about I open my mouth and you just spray the whipped cream in, eh?

What?  You don't dress like an elf for the December invitational meets?
Then, to make it worse, it's like the other coaches want to put the nails in my coffin by exploiting my biggest weakness:  hot wings.  "Hey, you wanna hit Buffalo Wild Wings after finals?  There's a coupon in the heat sheet for six free wings if you buy a dozen."

Yeah... because that's what I need.  18 wings and a couple of beers for my fourth meal right before bed.  At least the hospitality room doesn't have beer.  We all know how that would end up.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dear Viking!: Why Bother to Shower?

Swim Brief readers email us questions all the time.  For real.  What, do you think we would just make up questions from imaginary readers for a phony advice column?  What kind of a website do you think this is?  So, welcome to our newest recurring feature, "Dear Viking."

The Viking thinks hard so you don't have to...

Dear Viking!

I swim all the time.  It's not like I reek of BO or anything.  Do I really need to bother to take a shower?

Dear concerned reader who is obviously a real person,

Why bother?  I know!  Right?!  Swimmers don't shower... well, at least not to rub off all the smells.  Sometimes I used to just kind of hang out in there to get warm and occasionally pee on my friends, but I have never really understood why those silly divers use all those soaps and lotions and stuff.  Swimmers smell like chlorine-- and what does chlorine smell like?:  CLEAN.  That's what.

Is it a coincidence that Mr. Clean is bald?  Hells no.  He shaves his legs too.  Most people don't know he was a 47 in the 100 fly back in the 70's at Auburn and he still tears it up at Masters Nats.  Just look at him.  The dude can sprint.
The eyebrows ain't white because he's old.  It's because of the pool.
Of course, if you were otherwise detained and unable to practice for a few weeks I could understand wanting to wash up, but if you actually read The Swim Brief you are probably pretty hardcore and the only way you would miss practice is if you were trapped in a cave with your arm pinned under a rock.  It's not like you could just shower there anyway.  Just run in place until you break a sweat.  There is enough chlorine stored in your pores to give you a sweat-released just-swam smell for at least a good month after you retire.

Will my girlfriend still love me if my scent fades away?
You know what drives me really crazy?  Special products that advertise like we need to wash off the chlorine smell. What?!  Get rid of my free cologne?  Chicks dig the cloroxy-fresh smell.  Or at least the chicks who smell like chlorine do, and it's not like you have time to hang out with the ones who don't, right?  Been there. Civilian girls will never understand you.  Stick with your kind.

Really?  Does anyone see this picture and think they don't want this to happen to them?  Remove the word "Don't" and you have the most effective advertisement for joining swim team ever.  
Shower?  Nah.  Just get in your two-a-days, wear the smell like a badge, and quit worrying about it.  You smell fine.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Watch for MIT Swimming to Make Great Strides This Year

When the big brains at MIT swimming realized that strapping their swimmers to a big fat rocket wasn't going to help their relay qualify for nationals, they decided to look into upgrading their slipperiness.

Remember that Neverwet stuff?  You know, the superhydrophobic spray that Craig Lord wrote about that could take swimsuit technology to a whole new level by repelling water like Rain-X in full roid rage?

Well...  MIT just developed the next level of superhydrophobia.  Check out this excerpt from an article at extremetech.com:

Hydrophobic, as you have probably guessed, literally means “water fear.” There are hydrophobic substances that resolutely refuse to mix with water (such as oils and fats), and hydrophobic materials and coatings that prevent water from pooling on its surface. In scientific terms, hybrophobicity is caused by surfaces that disrupt the hydrogen bonding in water. So as to minimize the disruption to its molecular makeup, the water droplet pushes itself away from the surface to minimize its contact area, becoming a very tight droplet...

There are two ways to create a hydrophobic material: You either coat it with some kind of wax (oil, grease, or some other special, hydrophobic substance); or you use nanoengineering to create a special, nanopatterned textured surface. These nanopatterns, which are hydrophobic, take the form of little bumps or posts that are around 10 micrometers (10 micron, 10,000 nanometers) across. This kind of hydrophobic material is fairly well understood. The MIT breakthrough being discussed today starts with a nanopatterned hydrophobic material — and then coats it in a very fine layer of lubricant, massively increasing its hydrophobicity.

It turns out that the small gaps between the bumps/posts are capable of exerting just enough capillary force to hold an oil lubricant in place. The scientists simply had to dunk the nanopatterned material into a vat of lubricant, pull it out, and the lubricant remains fixed in the material. The nanopattern, plus the lubricant, results in a material that is 10,000 times more hybrophobic than the non-lubricated version. The pits are so small that it takes just half a teaspoon of lubricant to cover a square yard (0.8sqm) of the material. “Drops can glide on the surface,” Kripa Varanasi, the lead researcher, says. “These are just crazy velocities.” 

If you read the article you will realize that this could be a major find in how it will effect our energy industry.  I like to think it is not really something that will make a difference to the swimming community unless someone like Tony Stark decides he wants to be better than Phelps at being Phelps, but really, I am sure that there are people out there now with plans to be the first to make use of nanotech in the racing pool.

Honestly, I think that we need to give MIT's swimmers full license to play with this tech...  I mean, really, wouldn't you love to have that as a project in one of your classes?  I want to know:  what does it really do in regard to moving through water?; is it harmful?; how can we detect if someone is trying to cheat by using it?; would we want it on some parts of the body and not others?

I am pretty sure my breaststroke pull out would be pretty freakin amazing if I got the 10,000 times superhydrophobia effect.  That is of course, if I don't explode when I hit the water.  Knowing me and how good I am with technology, I would probably get this stuff on the bottom of my feet and spend a half hour just trying to get from the locker room to the blocks without sliding dangerously all across the wet pool deck.    That could make a swim meet real interesting real quick, right?

Maybe this is how we would spot the cheaters.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Legend of Kevin Carson

My only picture of Kevin Carson is exactly the way I want to remember him.

My teammate Kevin Carson was a fellow (Southwest) Missouri State Bear for only one season, and even though I hadn't spoken to him in over a decade, I will always consider him a good friend.  My heart breaks as I type this.  I attended Kevin's funeral yesterday.

Kevin was a friend to all, and would welcome anyone who wanted to chill and love life to be dealt into to a round of cards at his table.  Kevin was eternally goofy, had an infectious laugh and gave all of us on the team some great one liners I will never forget.  For a clue on how comfortable a friend he once was to me, here is an example:  he borrowed my clothes at Halloween and impersonated me for hours at one of the best parties I have ever been to.  I wouldn't let just anyone do that.  With Kevin I knew that it was all in fun.

Athletes can leave the sport of swimming in many ways.  Some are bitter and never want to swim again.  Some wish they had four more years of eligibility. Kevin went out in a very unique way that had a profound effect on my life.  Carson was injured the year before, during his freshman season at Arkansas, which happened to be the year U of A announced they were terminating the men's program.  Both knees were shot and he had put on a lot of weight while he spent months in a wheelchair before he transferred to swim with us.  Kevin was not enjoying swimming much during that one year he swam for the Bears.  From what I have heard, he went to Coach Steck at the end of the season and basically said, "Coach, you and I both know I am probably not ever going to get back into form.  I plan to swim again next year and waste your scholarship money unless you give it to Klosterman."

This was Kevin Carson in a nutshell.  He knew my family was struggling financially and he decided that if he was gonna hang up his suit, he was gonna do it in a way that made something good come of it.  Kevin was a great friend.  Coach Steck pulled me in that spring and doubled my scholarship heading into my sophomore season.  I always thought it was just because I had earned it by swimming fast.  I didn't know about what Kevin had done until later in my career.

We have all lost friends, and if you read this blog, you probably have a special bond with some of your past teammates as well, but that is not why I am sharing this at The Swim Brief.  I am posting this here because there is a chance you have already heard of Kevin Carson and never knew it, and I want you to associate my good friend with this story you have probably heard on deck:

In the spring of 1992 Kevin Carson was the lead off leg of Parkway Swim Club's 400 Free Relay in the final heat of the last event of the Region VIII (Sectional) Championships at the University of Arkansas.  When Kevin took his mark on that old style aluminum block he did not realize that his ring finger had wrapped around the lip under the front of the block.  When Kevin landed in the water the end of his finger didn't go with him.  It had become wedged and was torn completely off.

Kevin is the guy who got his finger chopped off on the starting block.  I have heard that story on deck more than once.  Maybe you have too.

I wasn't there, but someone told me that his finger had to be retrieved from it's float in the middle of the lane. It was reattached and the only way you would ever have known it had happened is that when Kevin dealt a deck of cards or counted dollar bills it was noticeable that the finger didn't bend.  He stuck it out like someone sticking out their pinky to be fancy when they drink champagne.  You know, cause the higher you stick your pinky up, the fancier you are, right?  Before I heard the story I guess I just thought he had a really fancy way of counting his cash.

So now you know... that guy who got his finger chopped off on the starting block,  he was a real guy.  A really great guy.  And I hope that every time you are taking your mark on a block, or teaching someone a proper start, your mind turns to Kevin Carson just for a brief second and it makes you smile, and maybe makes you a little glad they don't make starting blocks the way they used to.

Kevin, my good friend, you will be missed.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Swim Brief Classic: The Start of Every High School Invitational I Have Ever Hosted

Since today I am scrambling to get ready to host our first high school meet of the season, I felt like sharing this one form the old swimviking blogspot.  I am sure you can all relate.

Uhh... now what do I do?

“Welcome to the Red Bird Invitational. We are set for a 1:00 start. This is the time when we need volunteers to come down behind the blocks to run stopwatches. If you are a volunteer timer, please check in with the referee near the starters booth at this time…”

Six minutes pass…

“We are hoping for a 1:00 start, but we are going to need twelve volunteer timers to run stopwatches behind the blocks. We can’t start the meet until we have twelve people back there helping us out. Anyone can do it and we need all the help we can get. Please come on down. Thank you.”

Four more minutes pass…

“It’s just about one o'clock right now and we still need eight more volunteer timers. There is no pressure here folks. We have a timing system. The times are only needed for back-up in case the system were to malfunction. Even if you have never timed at a meet before, it is no big deal. Our referee will show you everything you need to know. It really is an easy job and you get the best seat in the house; except when they take their marks, but then you just have to look away for a couple of seconds. It’s not as traumatic as you might imagine. Please help us get started. Thank you.”

Three more minutes pass…

“Okay guys. We are already getting a late start. I apologize but we still need four more volunteers to run stopwatches. All you need is a thumb. Stop. Start. Reset. That’s it. You don’t even need both thumbs. Just one will get the job done...”
“All of you in the bleachers-- if you have thumbs, don’t raise your hand.”

“I thought so. That means you are qualified! Please come grab a stopwatch and a clipboard. Let‘s get this party started!”

One more minute passes…

“Cows can’t volunteer to time. They don’t have thumbs. My dog tried to volunteer, but he doesn’t have thumbs either. I used to have a pet monkey. I didn’t let him try to time because he was always drunk, but now that I think about it, even a drunk monkey could probably time. No, really. He had a thumb. Just like you. Please, let’s get some volunteers to get the meet moving.”

“Don‘t make my swimmers do it. Please. That‘s just plain wrong.”

45 more seconds…

“Come on people… We could be using our thumbs to time races but instead we are all standing around with them up our... Oh, wait. We got enough?! Okay!”

“We are ready to start the meet. Yeeeeee-hah! All timers are in place. I am pumped! You other three people in the bleachers who aren’t timing oughtta get a wave going or something! It‘s time for some fast swimming!”

“Go Red Birds!”

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ryan Lochte on Funny or Die!

Classic. This is a well done treat for swim fans. I need to somehow add "fastest pee in the west" to my piece on the Developmental Stages of Swimmer Potty Training. Haha!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Jumping Back on the American Bandwagon

I had a lot of conversations with coaches and swim fans leading up to the trials and the games.  I read a lot of stuff, including things from Olympic Gold Medalists like Mel Stewart and really smart multi-lingual people like Chris DeSantis.  I was forming opinions based on all of my inherent brilliance plus all of the information I have absorbed through those conversations and various media, and found myself in the same place I always seem to always end up when nearing the end of each Olympic cycle, thinking:

1.  We are crazy for having our trials so close to the games and we need to just start being like everybody else.

2.  We are watching the decline of American Olympic dominance.

...but of course, after the dust settled on swimming in London, it is pretty clear that I, and many of the other pessimists I surround myself with in the world of swimming, don't know what the hell we are talking about.  This was a pretty damn good meet for the USA.  It wasn't just the Missy show on the women's side, and no one is walking away feeling like if it weren't for Phelps and Lochte we would hardly have won a medal for our men.

I remember when we made the switch and placed the trials so close to the games.  We subscribed to the logic that we might miss some up and coming stars.  We had shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times in the past and the big brains at USA-S moved the calendar around to make sure that didn't happen any more.  This time around, we might have left Katie Ledecky at home with the way she came on like a monster in the short time leading up to the trials and games, if we had moved our trials back to an earlier date.  We won that gamble this time... but of course the trade off is in training.  Our Olympic team swimmers come in from different coaches with different training plans and different philosophies, which has to be really hard to manage when we finally bring them all together.  It is hard enough to take a college team and rest them for a conference meet while planning for your stars to also perform at their peak at NCAA championships.  We want our athletes to have a lifetime peak at the games, not just a pretty good swim.  Logic just tells us that getting the team together further ahead of time is better.. but then again, for a comparison to college swimming, some other nations are essentially going for the December shave and expecting to peak again in March.  Neither is ideal.  There were a few teams I expected more from and I have to wonder if the early trials worked against them somehow in comparison to the American plan.  There were a lot of close races and we ended up with several of the best surprises, from Ledecky, to Adrian to Clary....  The list goes on.  Has America stumbled on to something with the late trials?  Have we just figured out the best way to make it work?

On the second point, regarding American dominance, the fact is, our team showed this time around that even at the highest level, the team who is the most "on" can put on the best show.  The 100 free could have very easily gone another way at the finish, as could several of the other close races across the meet program.  At the beginning of the meet I did worry a little.  Phelps' 400 IM and the men's 400 Free Relay are the kind of things that can deflate a team, but as the meet went on our men and women just seemed to get more "with it."  Hansen's breaststroke medal was one of my favorite surprises of the meet, but didn't make me feel that we dominated the event obviously, so then came the 100 back and not only did Grevers win but Thoman took silver.  Sure we were shut out of some events, but our successes were spread out amongst the entire team, and that speaks to tremendous depth. 

Am I ready to say we are dominant after London?  Yes and no...  We were the best team there, but several of our brightest moments could very easily have gone the way of the 400 Free Relay.  There is a level of parity in swimming that has been steadily building for years and more and more we will see world class swimming events going to the individuals who are the most ready that day.  We will see more world-leading seeds out-touched in the finals, and rankings will mean less and less as the field gets tighter.  This is exciting and scary.  Luckily, it seems that there are a good group of people out there who are a hell of a lot smarter than me making it work so we can have our best day on the right day.  The USA was on their game in London and I might walk into Rio with a new mindset because of it.

Great job Team USA.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Watching the End of An Era

Thanks for the good times Michael.
Phelps, Hansen, Kitajima... As the names rolled out for the final race of the London Olympics, I started to feel pretty nostalgic. Cseh too...the final race of the 2012 Olympics was going to be the end of an era. This is truly the first generation where the best of one generation all stuck around to race the next wave. It made for probably the most exciting Olympic racing I have ever seen. Many of the story lines are not new- young stars breaking through and veterans making one last stand. It just seemed that, in 2012, there were far more of both than there has ever been.

A wave hit me while Michael Phelps took his last few strokes of fly as surely as it has hit so many of his competitors over the years. I knew it was coming- I tried to cherish the last few strokes of the greatest swimmer I will ever see. It was a satisfying end- especially after the world seemed prepared to bury Phelps after the first day of the competition. Phelps vs Lochte will never be a serious debate among swimming historians.

It's going to take far longer than a few hours to dissect his legacy, but here's the best we have so far. Phelps showed what heights swimming could go to but also it's limitations. Can a swimmer be an all-world "professional" athlete? Sure, if he's transcendentally great. A handful of others can scrape something together, at least enough to stay competitive. Hansen said as much in their post race interviewThe next generation will define whether "pro" swimming is going to be real or not. At the same time, he revealed how unready for "prime time" swimming is.

Both Phelps and his eternal crown prince Lochte, through no fault of their except for being human, wilted under heavier media attention. Phelps, as we found out, is a dorky guy who was forced to grow up way too fast in some ways while being trapped in puberty in others. . How many other 27 year old swimmers necessitated a reaction shot from their mother after every swim? Part of me desperately wants to see if Phelps could keep going for another four years with a complete change of scenery- but alas it seems that has come and gone.

More than anything, while I watched the final moments of the 2012 Olympics, I thought of some future young swim fan, if I'm lucky enough my own child, asking me what it was like.

What was it like to watch the great Michael Phelps? I'll tell them it was like watching the skinny kid with an underbite from your elementary school beat up every bully in the world.

What about Kitajima, seems like he struggled in the end? I'll them what a frustrating mess breaststroke can be. It's like trying to wrestle a lion with your bare hands. I was totally amazed that one guy seemed to pin that lion so many times. So maybe he didn't have it in London, but on that final relay he delivered a gem.

Maybe they'll ask: why didn't Alexander Dale Oen defend his world title? That'll be a tough one to start, but I'll smile when I remember the two breaststroke champions from London, Cameron van der Burgh and Daniel Gyurta. Each paid tribute to Dale Oen in their own way.

Finally, maybe they'll ask me about Chad Le Clos, who hopefully will go on to be far more than the "guy who touched out Phelps". Perhaps Ye Shiwen, or Missy Franklin, is poised to dominate female swimming in a way no one has before. Maybe, just maybe, rather than the end of era I'll look back at this as a beginning, when swimming reached a tipping point. I sure hope so.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I have actually been able to watch some of the Olympics this time around!

My wife has even been watching it with me!
It has been an awesome ride so far.  It has been weird watching bits live and more bits delayed.  For a little while I tried to avoid all the spoilers out there in social media, but after NBC decided to intro a clip with "will Missy Franklin win her first gold medal?"  and then 30 seconds later show a picture of her with said backstroke gold, I figured what the hell... no one can avoid the results with them running the show.  Even after knowing that Allison Schmitt was gonna win the 200, when I saw it I was so excited that I wanted to tweet about it, but then realized that everyone else probably tweeted about it seven hours ago.  I didn't want to be that guy...

I actually watched the Men's 400 Free Relay live on my iPad on deck at Arkansas champs.  Me and several coaches were behind the blocks during warm-up and not paying any attention to our swimmers at all.  We were yelling and having a good time which led to a high pitched peak at the touch and then several slumped, defeated shoulders when we realized Yannick Agnel had pulled it off.  I guess it might have just looked like we were really excited about warm-up.  Some of the officials came over to see what in the heck was going on. We immediately split apart and did the "what... we weren't doing anything over here" whistle.  Haha.

After the men's 100 breast final I remember telling one of my friends that Cameron van der Burgh's breaststroke as close to butterfly as I have ever seen.  He was fluid and his timing was incredible.  So of course, there has to be a dolphin kick controversy.  I think I am sick of it all.  FINA just needs to hire this guy:
If this official was on the job, we might actually see cheaters get spanked.
And then of course, there is Michael Phelps...  it has been strange to watch him be so hot and cold at the biggest meet ever.  As a swimmer, even though I pick on him sometimes in the blog, I still see him as the greatest.  Seeing how the meet has been so far really says something about how incredible the 8 golds was.  As I browse reddit lately to see how the internet feels, I have found that many non-swimmers aren't willing to give the guy a break.  They are quick to forget how much he has done in his career... but alas, there is one small group out there who are forever loyal to Michael.
No, Debbie... don't get too excited about it.  It's the potheads.
Michael has become a hero to these guys and they like to use him as proof that weed is good for you.  It is weird for me to get into comment arguments and have them be the ones who have my back.  I just can't imagine watching the Olympics with them. The cheering is probably not that enthusiastic.  Oh well...  he can't take that incident back and I am glad he has been able to move on.

If I have to pick favorite moments, two come to mind:  Dana Vollmer's 100 fly and Brendan Hansen's 100 Breast.  Vollmer for the fact that she missed out last time and has been close to that record for a while.  It was very satisfying to see her finally get it, and in the Olympic final no less.  And Hansen?  Just because it has been awesome to see him not only loving swimming again, but on his game.  What an incredible comeback.  Bravo.

Keep it up guys and gals... it has been worth the wait.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ooh, The Nerve of That Tyler Clancy!

I'm so mad I could karate kick that Tyler Clancy in the face!

Hi swim fans!  Your favorite Phelps Phan, Ritchie MP Cummins here!  I just had to get on here and say that I just can't take it any more!  Why is everybody dogging on my main man Michael Phelps!?  

Michael did awesome at the Olympic try-outs.  Of course we all knew he would make the team, and it's no big deal that he got beat by Ryan Locktey in the 400 IM.  We could all tell that he wasn't even trying at the end because he was saving his energy for the Olympics.  Like they say about the try-outs:  If you are first and second you are first and everybody else did a good try too!  That's because two people make the Olympic team in every event.  They used to let every country have three swimmers in every event but then there was a guy named Mark Spitz who was really fast and they said it was unfair. Mark Spitz had an awesome mustache because he wanted to be like Michael Phelps too!  

...except Mark Spitz forgot to shave it off at the Olympics!  Who shaves their legs but then forget to shave the stachio?
It sounds like Tyler Clancy, the guy who got third place in the 400 IM, is really jealous because Michael wins all the time.  It just ticks me off.  He went on the internet and said a whole bunch of stuff about Michael and basically called him a lazy slacker!  What's up with that?  It doesn't make any sense.  Everybody knows Michael is the hardest worker ever.  Coach Boman even makes him practice on Christmas day!  

Mr. Clancy, you need to get your facts straight and just get over it.  You guys are both on the same team now and you are not being a very good teammate!  Ya know, I wish I could buy tickets to watch you guys when you practice your laps together before the Olympics.  I bet Michael will kick your butt every time and he could probably do it without even using his arms!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Swim Brief Team Up: What races are you most looking forward to at Trials?

Everyone has a race, or a few races, where they have wild predictions and they just can't wait to see how the rivalries pan out.  We have swimmers we believe will be surprise adds to the roster.  The Swim Brief Crew are gonna tell you why we are excited about a few of the specific races, and we would love to hear from you about the races you can't wait for.

VIKING!:  The race that has me most on edge is the Men's 400 IM.  Come on... no matter what side of the fence you are on about Michael Phelps motivation and training over the last four years, you have to be excited that he entered this-- and not because he is a lock like he was four years ago.  We have all seen the videos of Ryan Lochte picking up dump trucks and throwing them.  We know he is ready to rip it in half, but the reports for a large part of this Olympic cycle had been about Michael's inconsistent training while Lochte was training in full-bore bad-ass mode without ever letting up.  Phelps has avoided the 400 IM for a while, at one point even saying he was done with it forever, and now suddenly he has added it back to his schedule?!  Hmmm....   The questions: Why did Michael jump back into this event?  Can he still handle Lochte in an event this long? And is Phelps gonna be able to hold off Tyler Clary who has to be beyond sick of being stuck in third?  Think about what is at stake here... the meet is starting with an event that will give the media big reason to get behind Michael Phelps and talk about how he got back in the water just in time to train back to greatness, or to stick a fork in him and make us suffer through a week of coverage talking about how he is struggling and won't be able to carry the Americans to glory.  The entire media dialogue for the trials could be at stake, and it might cause the all the non-swimmers out there watching the national coverage to jump on the Lochte bandwagon from the first final on.  So do I want to see Michael get third in this one?  Nah... and I certainly hope he doesn't scratch it.  I just want to see how deep he can dig when the pressure is turned up on event #1 to make this Trials meet start off with an earth-shattering kaboom.  I am sure he understands that there is a lot more than another Olympic team spot at stake and I am glad he is not avoiding the challenge.  Plus, maybe if he does get third in this, the "motivation machine" will HULK OUT and go a 48 in the 100 fly for us.

The breaststroke leg of the 400 IM... it's kind of like adding a sack race to the triathlon.

DESANTIS!: It felt really strange bolding my name, putting it in italics, underlining it and then adding an exclamation point, but Viking did it so I felt pressured to follow. My most anticipated race is the women's 50 free. It's fascinating to me from a historical standpoint. If Dara Torres makes it there will be two huge angles to view it from. The first, and most important angle is that Dara will cement herself as a once in a lifetime athlete in the sport of swimming. Are we ever again going to see a 47 year old woman mixing it up in the sprints at a world class level again? The idea is cool but unlikely. The second angle is somewhat more pessimistic. It feels like we've almost lost a generation of female sprinters in this country. Dara's 25.1 entry time is incredibly impressive, but shouldn't our 20 somethings being blowing that away by now? Who knows, maybe one of them will. As my least favorite expression in swimming goes: "It's the 50, ANYTHING can happen".


GUS!: At the 2008 Olympic Trials, when Matt Grevers shocked the world, upset Ryan Lochte, and secured his Olympic roster spot in the men's 100m backstroke, I was running up and down the stairs high-fiving everyone I could see. It wasn't appropriate. I was there as "The Media." When you are part of The Media you are supposed to be Objective and Un-Biased. But since I was there to do "Chlorination" and bloggy types of columns and I was 25 years old I figured all of that exempted me from typical requirements of The Media. I ran backstage and hugged more people with the enthusiasm of a 13-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert. I called friends and coaches and family members. But my favorite moment was when I talked to Northwestern coach (both coach of me and Grevers) Bob Groseth via cell phone when Bob was with Matt in the warm-down pool. It was just one of those special kinds of moments you share, one of those magical types of moments that can only happen at the Olympic Trials. I could hear him smiling. I could hear him winded. I could hear him excited. It was one of those transcendent moments... we had known this guy since he first arrived on Northwestern's campus, and now he was this mature adult upsetting the heavy-weight favorites. It was special. I remember backstage my face was flushed, so I sat down and wiped my forehead and my hands were still tingling, thinking, "One of our own just shocked the world... one of my friends just shocked the world..." It was the closest I'd ever gotten to something as magical and momentous as that, and I'll never forget it. I'm rambling. I'm getting maudlin. OK. Let's just say that my race that I'm most excited to see is that men's 100m backstroke.

I just thought Gus always acted like a 13 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert.  Maybe it's just when he's around me.

LISA!  What race am I looking forward to the most?  Well, as a swim fan it should surprise no one that it's the 400 IM.  I know I'm not the only one.  When the psych sheet was released my twitter feed blew up like I haven't seen since Michael Jackson died (in a perfect world big swim news would crash twitter as well.)  "He's gonna swim it!  Bob's making him!  His mother's making him!"  I don't care what the reason, he's going to swim it.  Whether he swims it at the Olympics we don't know but I can tell you this race; Phelps vs Lochte 400 IM is the equivalent of a Michigan vs Ohio State, USC vs UCLA, Mizzou vs KU all rolled into one.  This is the Bad Ass Event for the King's of Bad Ass.  

Runner Up- Women's 50 Free.  Why?  Dara Torres.  Age 47.  She has abs, I don't.  Fellow mom.  Queen of Bad Ass.  I hope she makes the team. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ritchie MP Cummins: Have you seen the new Subway commercial?

I can't believe how awesome this new Subway commercial is!  Not just because it's Michael and his acting is getting better and he is promoting healthy eating by endorsing Subway either... it is way more awesome because Michael's super-supportive mom Debbie was in it!

Debbie Phelps should guest star in more of Michael's ads!

Now it might seem a little weird that she was there at the edge of the pool ready to feed him a footlong sub right as he was diving in to start his warm up, but that is just the way they edited it I'm sure.  She probably only does that at the end of practice, but you never know.  He does eat 12,000 calories a day, so with Subway's "under 500 calorie" low fat meals he probably has to fit in 24 meals a day!  You can't accuse her of being a "helicopter mom" just because she waits at the end of his lane with a sandwich during his workouts.  That is just part of raising the best swimmer on the planet.  And I am sure Coach Bob doesn't mind!

My swim instructor at the Y gets annoyed when I have my mom bring me subs during my swim lessons, but now she has seen the ad and she gets it.  She even lets me take a time out to do the whole "mom, push me in like Debbie does to Michael thing!"  It's classic!  Everybody at the Y gets a kick out of it.  "What?!  Only one footlong?"  Ha-ha!

I am getting so excited for the Olympic Try-outs coming up in Omaha, Kansas!  I can't wait to see Michael set some more records and beat that Ryan Lockey guy and remind everyone why he's the best.  I got seats right behind the starting part of the pool.  I hope I am close enough to give him a high five! I wonder if he reads my blog.  Maybe he will recognize me!  I keep having this daydream that after he sees me he will ask if I want a private swim lesson.  That would be awesome!  He could probably teach me to breathe on the side in one day!

By the way, check out my new swim parka!  It's not the same as those waterproof ones the swim teamers wear but I sure look cool in it when take it off and reveal nothing but my speedo underneath!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Counterpoint: Too Big Trials? -Viking's Take.

I heard a coach the other day say that he refuses to take his athletes to the Olympic Trials.  He called it the "big lie"-- like 165 of the 170 athletes qualified in each event was being duped:  "Like they have a chance," he said.  "It's ridiculous.  We know who most of the Olympic Team is going to be before they ever hit the water.  It's all about the money."

This was out of the mouth of a coach whom I deeply respect and who has worked with athletes who have actually made the team.  I was taken back a little by this statement.  I knew that there were issues that come up with a large Trials, like the timeline and fitting in time trials, but it only seemed logical to me to make the trials a big event.  Especially when we see how the size of the crowd is so negatively affected by the athlete cap at the men's NCAA champs, it seems like a no-brainer that in swimming, even at the highest level, it is hard to fill the seats without the families of the swimmers in the meet there to watch. More swimmers does mean more tickets.  Is it bad to do what we can to fill the seats?  It's atmosphere, man!!

When I was swimming in college ('92-'96) you could still qualify for the Olympic Trials in the yard pool, and I believe the 200 breast cut was 1:57.99.  I didn't realize it until a couple of years later, as I hadn't started coaching yet, that after '96 the cuts were scaled back to around what the USA Nationals cuts were.  So, the breaststroke went to around 2:02.5 in SCY. (Since then they have stopped allowing q times in the yard pool, but they have kept the meet large.) I kind of felt ripped off when I heard about the change, and when I asked Coach Steck, he put it to me this way:  "I think it's the smartest grass-roots marketing USA Swimming has ever done.  Now, the small town papers get to promote swimming's local heroes.  There is gonna be a lot more interest in the sport now."

And he was right.  Do you want an example?  Take the one guy from my little tiny high school who went to trials but didn't make the team:  Derek Gibb.  He was legit in that he split 18.65 on Auburn's medley relay at NCAA's in a brief before anyone had ever broken 19 from a flat start.  In the months leading up to the 2004 Trials, Derek didn't just get an article in the local paper.  He was in the paper all over the state.  The average person was not talking about his splits at NCAA's.  They didn't know anything about how he ranked nationally unless they were into memorizing random stats from the paper.  They just knew that he was going to the Olympic Trials and swimming with the big boys.  Check out this article from the Juneau Empire. Google him and you will find even more.  Some articles were from California where he swam JUCO. This was a big deal.  He even found a fishing vessel to sponsor him so he could train!

The same thing happened here in the Joplin area during that same Olympic cycle.  A local kid (little tiny Pittsburg, KS) got just about last place in the 200 fly at the trials, but I guarantee he got about 500 local summer league families and more to tune in on tv or fill seats in the stands just to see the local guy compete in the big show.  Free advertising in local papers and on local tv?  You can't beat that.

I am sure they will make the cuts harder for the next cycle.  They probably need to... but be careful about hoping they take a big axe to those q times.  A large Trials meet has a lot of benefit, and that might outweigh the negatives.  Has there really been a loss in prestige for the big event?  Nah... the real prestige that we have to worry about is limited to the 52 who are left standing when the dust settles, and if they have a shot at that level, they can handle warming up in a crowded pool without their nerves getting rattled.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hanging Out with David Arluck and Mel Stewart

That's it... Chris doesn't pay enough here.  I'm switching to SwimSwam.

Last Friday our team hosted a Fitter and Faster Clinic.  I can not say enough about what an awesome experience it was for our team.  I had never met Mel Stewart or David Arluck in person but I had an idea of what to expect.  They were just a lot of fun. The clinic was a blast and the kids are still talking about it every day at practice.  We also got to see how flexible Mel really is.

Seriously, Mel was in a brief and still taught half of the clinic in this position.  Try it.  The kids really pay attention, as do the team moms. 

I got the chance to chill with David and Mel afterwards.  I got to hear some great stories about other Olympians, Fitter and Faster, SwimSwam and lots of cool things about these guys you might not know just from what you see on the web.   Mel was even nice enough to pretend he follows The Swim Brief.  What a great guy.

Of course, it wouldn't be a day with the Viking without getting a camera shoved in your face, so I got a couple of videos to post.  Enjoy!

Mel took the chance to tell me a story on Pablo Morales:

At dinner after the clinic David got to talk a little about how he came to be so passionate about working with swimmers.  Sorry the sound isn't great, but please give it a listen all the way through.  I was very impressed with this man.  After hearing this you might want him to be your agent:

Thanks for a great event, guys!  I hope we get to hang out again some time.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Families Not Welcome

Yesterday, I talked about the discussion for NCAA qualifying, and seem to have found more than a few people's attention. Today, I want to talk about another issue that came up in San Antonio, different but no less important. Two of the speeches given at the talk were ostensibly about coaches who had just completed meteoric rises. Both sent a clear message: if you want to do this you better go it alone (and be a man).

One coach was more candid about it. In an otherwise cheery speech about starting a program from scratch and taking it to national prominence, everything turned dark for a few minutes as he discussed taking the job married and now being single. The other coach probably didn't even realize what he was saying, as he urged the audience to maintain strong relationships with his co-workers. Offering himself up as an example, he told us how he had eaten dinner every night with his head coach for a year. If you're married (and even if you're not) you know how impossible that scenario sounds.

I want to be clear: this post is not an attack on the single male coaches out there, of which there are many. It's more a call for help. So, rather than make this a long post telling most people what they already know, I want to hear from you. If you are reading this and you're a coach, male or female (even better), and you've had some success while not completely ignoring your family, send your story to swimbrief@gmail.com. Coaches need to hear your story and learn from it!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fixing NCAA Qualification

One of the most vexing problems in college swimming is the NCAA qualification process. In a sport that otherwise operates on concrete time standards, this process rests on a two tiered system of cuts, alongside an algorithm that makes it impossible for all but the most dedicated to authentically determine who will make the meet. Add in a frenzy of last chance qualifiers and you have a recipe for frustration on many levels. At the CSCAA conference last week in San Antonio, Division 1 coaches sat down to try to fix the process, and failing that at least make it slightly better.

Before we get to what was newly proposed, let's talk about what we have now and how we got here. Coaches got an instructive history lesson on the formation of the "cap", now at the center of most people's complaints. For successive years in the 1980s the NCAA asked coaches for a recommendation on a cap figure. Coaches couldn't determine one, thus the NCAA decided for them: 235 men, and 322 women.

The women's "cap" figure works fairly well. This past year 15 relays were selected and 29-30 individuals.  A fair individual field for a national championship to be sure, although picking 15 relays when you score 16 has it's own issues. The men's cap was a disaster, this year resulting in 12 relays and as low as 17 individuals being selected. The reason, as has been much discussed by my colleague Shawn Klosterman, is relay only qualifiers.

This year's men's championship has 76 relay only qualifiers. These are swimmers that did not qualify individually but were part of a selected relay. They are allowed to attend the meet and swim any event they have a "B" cut in. Although less traditional "power" schools always get a few relay qualifiers, the process had become a way for the rich to get richer. If you were a Texas or California, you could qualify swimmers relay only without shaving or tapering them to get an individual cut.

In San Antonio, a proposal for radical change was developed and will be submitted to the NCAA for the coming season. In it, relay qualification as we know it will be totally scrapped. The cap of 235 (and 322) will be used to select individuals only, which this past qualification year would have resulted in 29-30 men's qualifiers in each event.

Rather than destroying the role of relays in the meet, relays will make the meet through an alternate process. A cut time will be set up based on the average of the 16th place time prior to the NCAA meet of the last three years. Teams with an individual qualifier would be enter a relay provided they had met this time, and bring relay only swimmers alongside their qualifier to make the relay. These relay only swimmers would be true relay only swimmers- they would simply be there to swim a relay (or more). They would also be paid for by the school, not the NCAA.

That last part was and will be the most controversial part of the proposal. Schools are naturally concerned about anything that may add to their budget. The idea of limiting relay only swimmers to the relays stung for many schools who have seen relay only swimmers be successful. Ultimately, it was determined that schools big and small could ultimately push budget figures around if it meant getting people to the NCAA meet, the ultimate goal of most programs.

The proposal is not perfect, not without flaws, but it will improve the NCAA meet and qualification in crucial ways. It will make the meet faster, both individually and relay, as well as resulting in more participation at the meet. That is a win for everybody.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Training in Traffic

Some kids just don't care if the lane is crowded.  Weaving through traffic at full speed is an under-appreciated swimmer skill.

We have all dealt with crowded lanes and made the most of it.  I have had to rearrange the order of swimmers sometimes to keep things running smoothly sometimes.  Just this week I had to start telling my age groupers to line up in order of their 100 free time just to keep them from fighting about who leads the lane.  It is not usually a big deal until coach gets out the watch and expects some race quality splits when you know people are gonna get run over.

I had a first last night-- something I had never seen, or at least never seen this executed so well...  I just have to brag on it.  It was impressive.  We were doing a set of 8x100 on 2:00 in the yard pool, best stroke (non-free) and I expected them to hold a pace that was in what we call "zone 3" which is calculated by taking half of their 200 time and adding 4-7 seconds to it.  It gets them right around VO2 max.  I let the kids take #7 easy so I could see how close they could get to race pace on #8.  This set is pretty typical for us although this was very short for this kind of set.

My breaststroker, who just finished his freshman year in high school, took off like a rocket on that last 100.  He was out FAST and I was excited to see what his time was gonna be.  Unfortunately he caught up to the last person in the lane just after the pull-out on the last 25.  He did about 5 or 6 strokes at her pace before he finally got impatient enough at the 15 meter mark to pass her...

but he couldn't pass down the middle as there was a butterflier in the way.  So this kid improvises:  he takes a breath, submerges and crosses under the lane rope without even interrupting his rhythm, and finishes in the next lane with a pretty incredible time.  I wish I had caught it on video.  His best time shaved in a meet is 59.4, and his best 200 is 2:07.  On this push 100 at the end of the set he went out in 29, and even with a half length stuck in traffic he finished in 1:03.  Not bad for a push! Of course, I worry a little about the day this kid finally gets his drivers license and I am glad I ain't the one teaching him how to drive!

I love coaching age group.  It's gonna be a fun summer. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Faster Standards: What's the Point?

In the past week, much of the discussion surrounding Germany's Olympic selection meet has been over their standards. You see, the German's chose to make their athletes not just make the FINA "A" cut, but actually go a faster time, an equivalent to the 10th fastest time the world last year. Most notably, Georgia based swimmer Martin Grodzki cleared the "A" standard on the last day of the meet in the 1500 but was left off the London squad. This begs multiple questions: why does Germany see a need to have a higher standard than the FINA "A"?

To understand, you have to step outside the US mindset. In the US, it is seen as a limitation in some situations that we can "only" select two swimmers per event. Often there has been a third US swimmer who could contend for a medal at the Olympics. But few, if any, other countries have had that quandary. These countries also have far fewer resources. They have to be judicious about who they send. In their minds, there is little to be gained from sending a swimmer to a big international meet, much less the Olympics, who cannot at least get a second swim.

But the problem here is larger than that. Ordinarily these time standards would be far less of an issue. Germany has traditionally been a very strong swimming country. Were this an average group of German swimmers they would be sending far more than the 18 they selected for London. But this is not an average group. Germany is a swimming power on the verge (if not already) of falling flat on it's face in 2012.

Take, for instance, the aforementioned 1500. Grodzki's time of 15:10 was nearly 20 seconds slower than the national record set by Jorg Hoffman in 1991. As much as the Bill Sweetenham's of the world love to bemoan the death of distance swimming, this is not a common problem. The heathen sprinter's paradise of  America is in no danger of returning to Chad Carvin levels of distance performance. Germany's tiny neighbor to the north, Denmark, will field two athletes in the London 1500 leaps and bounds ahead of Grodzki.

Germany's two established swimming stars, Britta Steffen and Paul Biedermann, seem to already have peaked. Steffen, once the world's best sprinter, hasn't medaled individually long course since 2009. Biedermann was steady with two bronzes in Shanghai last summer and did get the benefit of training through this competition. Only other legitimate hope for a medal on Germany's team is Christian vom Lehn, the young breaststroker and medalist from Shanghai.

At this point, you might believe that I agree with Germany's strategy: I don't. When standards are so far ahead of the athletes you have an imbalance that must be addressed. Keeping athletes at home is not the solution, in fact it hurts future development. The young talents in countries like Germany need to feel like there is an attainable goal for them to aspire too. To be fair, German swimming has put some responsibility on coaching when they took the bold move in firing Orjan Madsen in an Olympic year, but this problem goes far beyond Madsen. Germany needs to re-evaluate how they are developing athletes across the country and why they are falling behind. German talent hasn't all of a sudden disappeared, but the development of it definitely has.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Sam Freas - Oklahoma Baptist University

I was introduced to Oklahoma Baptist University Head Coach, Sam Freas, last weekend and he was surprisingly willing to chat with me about all sorts of stuff.   Sam has had a great history at several D1 schools and his new team at OBU had a heck of a first year so I took the opportunity to pick his brain a little.  He even let me get him on camera to answer a couple of questions for the blog.  Enjoy the videos:

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Musings of a Paranoid Team USA Fan: Part 2

Olympic years can be brutal for paranoid team USA fans. With the last Olympic trials meet in the world, helpless fans are forced to watch as the rest of the world puts up fast times while they wait for Omaha. Musings of a Paranoid Team USA Fan is part of an ongoing series on this psychosis

It's been a few months, and I am really freaking out. I mean, can our 4x100 freestyle relay even make the final at this point? I'm not sure. What the heck is going on in Brazil? They are definitely doping, right Craig? Also, we're lucky there's no 50 fly at the Olympics, because if there was we'd be totally screwed. At this point, I hope that we get a couple medals. The following are what is really freaking me out at the moment:

I know it was a while ago, but how about Australia? I mean, they are going to totally dominate us in sprint freestyle right? They had two guys 47 in the 100 free at their trials meet. How many sprinters in the US have been under 48 seconds post "THE SUITS"? Zero? We are totally screwed.

What about the 200 free, where we went 1-2 at the last World Championships. I was feeling pretty good about that until Yannick Agnel went 1:44.42, faster than either Phelps or Lochte went last year. But, chances are two guys that will be 27 and 28 years old will have a sharper improvement curve than a 20 year old, right?

If we held the Olympics today, America's only legitimate chance to medal in freestyle would be the aforementioned 200 free. In every other event, "America's Swim Team" seems poised to be crushed under the wave of young. hungry talent forming around the world.

If you look in the strokes, it doesn't get much better. At this point, we have two likely winners: 100/200 fly (Phelps) and 200 backstroke (Lochte). Otherwise the favorites are Lacourt (100 back), Kitajima/Dale Oen (100 Br), Kitajima/Gyurta (200 br),

On the women's side, Team USA stills looks similarly outclassed in freestyle events. Unless one of our sprinters can drop a massive amount of time (.5 or more) in the 50 free they will not be able to keep pace with Ranomi Kromowidjojo. In fact, the fast sprinter in the US from 2011 (Jessica Hardy) would have to improve nearly .4 seconds in the 50 to beat the Netherlands 3rd fast (Inge Dekker 24.42). Meanwhile, barring significant improvements from Dana Vollmer (24 years old) and Natalie Coughlin (29 years old), Team USA could legitimately miss the final entirely in the women's 100 free. 200 Free looks a bit better with Allison Schmidt, but 400 on up is a major question mark.

Luckily for us, we have National Team Director Frank Busch to provide a positive counter balance for the coming Olympics. He told Sports Illustrated that "we have the potential to have the best Olympic team we have ever had". And who could argue with that?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Quest to Become Swimming's Most Obnoxious Fan

In the comments of my last post, Gus suggested I should make one of those big heads and be the swimming version of this guy:

This guy deserves every bit of the fame he has been given.  
I would love to be the big head guy for our sport, but I would also want to pay homage to one of our own, a former Duke swimmer (that's the rumor anyway,) who made Coach Krzyzewski address the school's speedo problem in a press conference...  Patrick King, The Duke Speedo Guy. 

Yet another reason I am all about the brief.  The LZR can't help you beat North Carolina in basketball.  

Watch the whole Sportscenter video.  It is hilarious.  Legendary hilarious.

So, here is my plan:  ASCA is having a contest.  John Leonard sent this email out a few days ago:

Dear Coach,

ASCA has the best box seats in the house at the Olympic Trials.  And we’re running a contest to REWARD the coaches who help us grow ASCA membership, with a FREE Olympic Trials Ticket!

The coaches that produce the highest number of NEW or RENEWED memberships will get the opportunity to have 2 tickets in box seating for a single day, prelims and finals, of Olympic Trials.  The box is “prime” seating; above the starting blocks.

There are 7 days of events, June 25th to July 1st, meaning there will be a total of 35 winners!  This excludes July 2nd, in which there is only a finals session of the Women’s 50m Freestyle and the Men’s 1500m Freestyle.
The grand prize includes choice of date and an additional box-ticket to finals on July 2nd. 

The renewing or new member must say “I am being referred by” and your name, in order to get credit for the membership.

Memberships cannot be done online because there is not a way to mention a referral. The membership must be completed by either calling Melanie at (800) 356-2722, emailing membership@swimmingcoach.org, by fax
(954) 563-9813, or sent by mail if your preference is to send a check.

The memberships do not need to be sent in all at once, since we will be keeping a tally. But…the renewing or new members must mention a referral to get credit.

The contest begins immediately, and runs through MAY 28.  On May 29, we’ll notify all the winners for selection of dates in order from the top membership producers, down through the 35th best producer!

If you haven't renewed yet, please make it a point to say I referred you.  Just make sure you don't say you were referred by the Viking... use my real name, Shawn Klosterman.  I have got to at least be one of the top 35, right?

If I win a seat in this contest I will not only have a big head made... I will hold it up while dancing in a brief and a Viking helmet.  I will even make it a pink brief.  That is a promise.  Think about it:  Not only will I be behind the blocks on national television-- I will be  next to John Leonard!  That will be awkward on so many levels!  Internet comedy Gold!

Come on, guys!  In the name of good swimming internet content you have to help me win this contest!  I feel like I am the only swimming internet persona not already going to the trials... this contest is my only chance!  Show your support for the brief by getting me one of the good seats!