Sunday, May 17, 2009

CRITICISM! Open Memo to Katie Hoff and Ryan Lochte!

As Cullen Jones would say, both of you are the CEOs of your careers and your "sales are down," review your coaching situation immediately.

Katie Hoff - you are swimming 1976 times in the 200 free. Sippy Woodhead, circa 1979, would have kicked your butt in her low-tech, Lycra suit.

Though you have access to better nutrition, immunizations her generation/mine never had, better starting blocks, deeper pool depths, dolphin kicks off the wall, and you are swimming in a swimsuit made by NASA's finest mad scientists, you are failing in taking the 200-free to the next level. The USA has not owned a record in that event for the past 30-years. Fix it.

Dagny Knutson is swimming 1979 times and Sippy can beat her too. One could ask what Dagny is doing differently to beat you but what one should really ask is what are the Europeans doing differently since they can "own" you both in an off-meet?

Laure Manadou knows how to swim a 200 Free and obviously so does Federica Pellegrini. They apparently sprint it like it's a quarter-mile, horse race. Laure Manaudou taught the Europeans how to do it why can't American swimmers learn how?

Here is an idea: You don't go out in a 58.00! You pretend your Libby Trickett, or Britta Steffen, and you go out in 55.00 and then when you are coming back and you can't hold on, you do what the Europeans do! You hold on!

Consider going to Italy or France and asking for help. Perhaps French Coach Philippe Lucas is available? Just do something, Australia has a nice ring to it too.

Ryan Lochte: It "smells" like you are over training. (Garbage yardage has an odor, right?) You changed something and it is not working. I would collect all of your times in both workouts and races and evaluate what you were doing when things were going great and discard those practices that are screwing with your "bonus money."

You are very charismatic and you could be the breakout swimmer like Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, or Johnny Weismuller are to their respective sports. Note, like a 50-meter free, it only takes one mistake to blow a medal.

Don't get married to a bad decision. The three aforementioned athletes certainly changed when they had to. You coach is your employee not your employer.

Special thanks to Mark Savage on this post.

The photo of Federica Pellegrini comes from and they have another photo of her which they call Female Physique of the Day. :-O [Link]


Rob D said...

I think you're right about Lochte. Dude needs to step up in the peripheral Phelps spotlight and get some national attention. He's an excellent swimmer with a decent looking mug. He needs to put that together and get the ladies hooked on swimming coverage.

I think your blog needs more Federica Pellegrini coverage... I'm just saying, it wouldn't hurt my feelings at all :)

That pic you linked to was very cleverly cropped to look much dirtier than it was in real life btw... here's the magazine cover it came from.

John Craig said...

Regarding Lochte, he swims for Greg Troy, who has always been a mega-distance guy, and Lochte has always swum well for him when it counted. Note that Bradley Ally, who just went a 1:40.5 200 yard IM to win at NCAAs, and Shaune Fraser, who went a 1:40+ and 1:31.7 to win the 200 fly and 200 free at NCAAs, are both UF/Troy guys, and both swam so poorly at Charlotte that they didn't even make any C finals, to my knowledge. I'm not a big believer in mega-yardage myself, but it's seemed to work for those three, who have produced when it's time to. Also, regarding the girls, you're comparing their early season times to Sippy Woodhead's peaked times from '79. Woodhead was an amazing talent, true, but Knutson is just coming into her own, and Hoff is just coming back after a fairly long layoff. I agree, Hoff's performance last year at the Olympics was disappointing, but that was largely a function of spreading herself too thin, and she has just recently changed coaches anyway (from Yetter to Bowman, though she's still at NBAC).

Tony Austin said...

Here is the deal. This meet, though an off-meet, was very important! Phelps returned to the pool, it was all over Yahoo, CNN, everywhere. Whoever beat him was the "giant killer"

Katie Hoff's fastest 200 free is a 155.78 placing fourth in Beijing. An American record. That's 3-seconds faster than Sippy who swam decades ago but Hoff has many vantages from the suit she wears, to the lane-line technology and more.

In nearly 1/3-of-a-century the USA has not produced a womens 200-free record.

The purpose of the post was to question why have the American woman capitulated in the 200 free. I think it is obsolete training techniques and our girls should examine that.

BTW, career-wise, Katie Hoff needed a win.

Lochte needed more wins

Anonymous said...

Tony Austin you are a joke! the meet is important for what reason???? publicity..what a joke.. giant killer, pathetic...what a disgraceful piece of writing.. are you a swim fan? if you truly are you know that some GP meet in NC dont mean nothing come world trials in July...

lets see what the girls swim in July/ August when it counts...


Tony Austin said...

Wow, you are really mad at me.

Note that I put "giant killer" in quotation marks. That was to denote sarcasm. I should have made my sarcasm more clear. ( example: )

I am swim fan, I may not be as knowledgeable as you but the headlines over the past weekend focused more on that Phelps losing rather than winning.

I doubt that Katie Hoff will best her 1:55 time from Beijing. I think our American girls have not done well in the past 30-years in the 300. The results are there.

Anonymous said...

These were essentially my comments and not Tony's. We are all aware that this was a mid-season meet and not Worlds. Swimmers are still training hard and their times are slow. But relative to the men, there really hasn't been much of a drop in the women's 200 free over the past 30 years- less than a 2 second difference between Pellegrini's 2007 WR and Woodhead's WR in 1979.

Mark Savage

Tony Austin said...

I meant the 200 not the 300, that is what I get for typing at 6:19 AM

John Craig said...

Tony -- as a fan of your blog -- and as someone who doesn't like the tone of the above anonymous blogger, I have to cast my vote for the Charlotte meet being mostly a training meet, for swimmers to see where they are at this point in the season. And I think the headlines would have been about Phelps no matter what he does, he's become such a rock star that if he even hangs out at a casino or smokes a little pot, it's a big deal. I was actually impressed with his performances, including his losing races, given how recently he got back into training. (His 50 free was another matter.)

Back to the matter of the women's200 free: the event was weirdly static for a long period of time. Sippy Woodhead went a 1:58-low in the late seventies, Nicole Haislett went a 1:57.9 to win Olympic gold in '92, then Francisca van Almsick went that 1:56.6 in '94 which seemed to put the record out of reach of everybody including herself for a long time. After that it didn't take a significant drop till Manadou went her 1:55.5 in March '07. Camille Potec actually won in '04 with a 1:58.2, a surprisingly slow time. As far as the American women not having had the record for a long time, keep in mind that Haislett did win in '92, and Natalie Coughlin led off the American 800 free relay in '04 with a 1:57.7, which would have own the individual 200 had she swum it. And getting records is pretty much a matter of happenstance, of where the most talented swimmer in that event in a certain era happens to live. We just haven't had a "horse" like Manadou or Pellegrini for a while. And also keep in mind that as far as the records go, Pellegrini reportedly wore two (or even three) suits when she set the current 200 lcm free record, so any fair comparison has to take that into account.

I agree that Hoff isn't looking golden at the moment, btw. The future seems to belong to Beisel, Knutson, and Pelton, the 15 yr old who went a 200 lcm IM in 2:12.0 in January at Pan Pac Jr.'s. But I wouldn't rule her out yet, either, I think she's learned her lesson and will not spread herself out so thin next time around.

Tony Austin said...

That shows me! Thank you, and that was a nice way to do it. :-)

I did not realize that Natalie went that fast. That's mind blowing.

Anonymous said...

Some great swimmers cant get motivated for a meet like this. It's unfortunate, but they could go faster in workout. Makes you wonder what they are doing even going to meets like this.

That said, they'll be fine when they get serious.

Tony Austin said...

I am going to do a new post regarding how "off-meets" are not "off-meets" if swimming is a business for you.

Rob D said...

I think you've got something there Tony. If you are a pro swimmer I think you need to grasp the concept of being a personal brand. Sponsors come and go (nike swim anybody?), the only constant is how you set yourself apart from other swimmers. UltraSwim was the perfect setting for a Lochte or a Piersol to step up and make a major impression on the American public while they still care about swimming. Is it fair to expect spectacular performances every time a swimmer hits the pool? Nope. But if your job is to swim fast and you want to keep your job and make more money you have to keep people entertained. Just look at how the media is blowing Phelps loosing a few not so important races out of proportion. They don't comprehend this is a tune up meet because his personal brand is invincible swim champion. It's a hard thing to live up to, but the dude gets paid pretty well to float rapidly and that's the reality of his public perception situation.