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, 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!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Custom Caps Have Not Yet Been Utilized to Their Potential

I was walking past the swim shop on deck at our last meet and Michael's goofy grin caught my eye.  I knew then and there, I just had to buy this cap and have his face plastered on both sides of my head.   Then it occurred to me: "How weird would it be to race breaststroke and see that face on the side of a cap looking at you on every breath?"

And then I thought:  "Wouldn't it be weird if Ryan Lochte bought this cap and started wearing it at the big meets where he races Michael?"  How surreal would it be for Michael to have his own face staring him down behind the blocks from the side of his rival's head?  That's some serious, Swedish existentialist film festival level sports psychology there.  Michael might be the only international level swimmer who has never been psyched out in the ready room by that stare.  What if everyone in every final wore it and he cracked under the pressure of his own intimidation factor being turned against him?

And then I thought, "yeah... I need to buy it so when I am swimming practice with the kids in the morning I can freak them out during the kick sets by having Michael and his goofy grin staring at them as I kick in the next lane."   Even better...  I could swim around under water and any time I see someone slacking I could pop up from behind the lane rope and and lecture them using Michael's face to give my words that much more weight.  Think about it:  Trolling in the name of making my team better.

Maybe this face would motivate 'em!  Or does the mustache take it too far into creepyville?
(Just kidding, Mark!  We love you and your 'stache!)

And then I had to ask "how much would it cost to put my face on a cap like that?"  Then I could make it our "team practice cap" and the kids would be surrounded by ME all the time!  I could simultaneously follow alongside all of them at once.  Hells, yeah!  Totally worth the money!

This is how I coach most of my practices anyway... the caps would just help me reach a lot more kids.

 You know you would kick faster in an environment like that!  Time to order me some caps!  email me if you wanna buy one to help motivate your team!

Dear Swimming World: An Apology

I should have known better. Last week I poked fun at Swimming World for making up a list of blogs to feature on their site while featuring a passive aggressive dig on the sites they didn't list. In response, someone from Swimming World called my mom and told them what a bad boy I'd been. Ok fine, maybe they didn't. Besides, they wouldn't have to: my mom reads this blog and occasionally leaves embarrassing comments under the pseudonym "Christopher's Mom". Instead they called the Georgia Tech Swimming and Diving sports information director.

I found this out a couple days ago: our SID seemed largely non-plussed. Of course, he advised me that professionally it probably isn't a good idea to antagonize the media. So I want to apologize to Swimming World  for making fun of them. I am really flattered that despite this blog not being significant enough (or is it that we steal content?) for them to include on their site feed, they read it anyway and chose to respond personally. I will not allow myself to believe that this was in anyway a petty, childish attempt to infringe on my livelihood. 

Back to my mom for a second. I think she raised me really well, and my behavior here goes against my upbringing. When I say I should have known better, I mean it. I know that it is wrong to pick on those that are weaker than you. This is bullying and I shouldn't have done it. Swimming World is in a vulnerable position with the majority of their revenue drawn from the rapidly declining print industry. I shouldn't have taken advantage of that for my own entertainment.

Lastly, I want to apologize to all unpaid contributors to Swimming World Magazine, past and present. Some of the most talented people in swimming have lent their credibility to for absolutely nothing in return and they don't deserve to be made fun of. Many of my peers, college coaches, have been featured in the print magazine this year, which led to the coaching organization which I am a part of, the College Swim Coaches Association of America, to award Swimming World this year for their service. Many in my generation may have missed this due to their belief that they can find better content for free on the internet available immediately and from anywhere.

In conclusion, I hope that Swimming World can look past my transgression and not call my mom hold this against me. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

The New Chief of the Missouri State Bears: Dave Collins

This Bear means business.

This weekend at the long course meet in Fayetteville it was a treat to see my good friend Dave Collins.  It was the first time I had run into him since the announcement was made that he had been named Head Coach of my alma mater, the Missouri State Bears.  The Bears' long time Coach Jack Steck retired in December and left Dave in the perfect position to prove himself as he closed out the season in the Interim Head Coach position.

Once the season was over and MSU moved on to their national search for a new leader for the men's and women's teams, Dave spent a while in limbo... unable to move on recruiting and not knowing whether he needed to start looking for a new career path.

Dave was nice enough to let me stick a camera in his face to let us all know how it's going.  I just have to say to those who have to face the Bears next season, watch out... Dave's got plans and he is moving on them like a horse busting through the gates.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Are Braden Keith's Michael Andrew Posts Awesome or Not?

The Original
Most swim nerds these days subsist on a daily diet of information provided by swimming's number one newsman, Braden Keith. If you're one of those people, you can't possibly not know who Michael Andrew is. Andrew has been breaking NAG records seemingly every couple weekends, and Keith has been there to follow it. Sometimes, I catch myself reading the writeups and think they're pretty creepy. I mean this is just a twelve year old we're talking about right? Then I remember that I'm the guy who wrote an entire blog in 2008 on Chas Morton's age group exploits. Then followed that up with an e-mail interview. So maybe I shouldn't judge.

The whole Michael Andrew coverage makes me think about Chas Morton and how much the experience of following swimming has changed. Chas Morton was a legend among swim nerds for my generation. A lot of his mystique came from the fact that aside from his swim times almost no one knew anything beyond his mindblowing times. I mean, this dude went 51.85 in the 100 fly at 12 YEARS OLD IN 1984! Most only knew who he was because his name kept popping up when you scanned through the top 16 age group lists in the back of Swimming World Magazine.

It's funny to think about how the internet age would have covered Chas Morton. But before we get to that, is it even a proper comparison? It probably says far more about Morton than Andrew that Morton's records are just now being broken. Morton's 51.85 remains one of two unbroken 11-12 NAG records, the other being his 1:56.61 in the 200 IM. In 1984 the winning time at the NCAA Championship, the world's fastest short course yards meet, was 47.02 (Pablo Morales, in case you were wondering). The 200 IM was 1:47.92 (Ricardo Prada). In 2012, the 100 fly was a 44.76 and 200 IM was 1:41.92. By that measure, a 12 year old in 2012 would have to be throwing down 49.3 in the 100 fly and 1:50.1 in the 200 IM to be like Morton.

In any case, there are obvious downsides and advantages to the way we follow age group swimming in 2012. While many worry that being covered on a swim site will somehow inflate and crush a NAG star to a greater degree than before, I feel the opposite. While the internet holds the power to hype things beyond what was available in the 1980s, it also hold the power to humble. If Andrew was to actually frequent the same sites that he is frequently mentioned on, he will likely learn that there is a long road from NAG to national and international success. I also think that much of the backlash against age group stars is used to excuse poor talent development in the US. Yes, everyone can look at the NAG list and pick out a bunch of names that didn't pan out in the long run. But the NAG record list has also been home to swimmers like Michael Phelps, Ian Crocker, Aaron Peirsol, Missy Franklin, and well, I could go on but you get the point.