Sunday, February 28, 2010

I went to see the Bolshoi Ballet in the O.C. and I was astonished at how flexible the male dancers' ankles are!

I have really tight ankles; even Jason Lezak admits his ankles are tight and he has to stretch them often. I was told that my non-flexible ankles is something I would have to live with and that I should just wear fins often as I can to attempt to loosen them up.

Well, after seeing the ballet I am not buying it, I suspect anybody can make their ankles more flexible just by getting educated on how to safely stretch and imitating what dancers do.

Here is a tool I found that some ballet dancers use that piqued my interest: The Ballet Foot Stretch from Spain.

From the Ballet Foot Stretch website:

BALLET FOOT STRETCH really works! As it lengthens, it strengthens, working on the superior part of the foot, at the same time giving you an extra "heel forward" support (cou de pied) as you stretch.

[Cost €97.00 or $134.00 USA]


I went to a couple ballet message boards to get a review and most the content is either neutral, positive, or simply question that foot work is cheaper. I looked for some You Tube videos of ballet ankle stretches but most I saw were more advanced than a swimmer with no dance training could accomplish.

Request for comments: Is Michael Phelps a good choice for Youth Ambassador for the IOC's 'Youth Olympics' project?

Michael Phelps has been chosen to be a Youth Games Ambassador for the first Youth Olympic Games. If his management team was smart, they should have angled a way for Michael to get him on board so that he has a "second act" career-wise once he leaves swimming.
From Yahoo/EuroSport:

"I am delighted that I have been given the opportunity to become the first official ambassador of the Youth Olympic Games, and can't wait to get working with the YOG team to promote the first event this summer," he said in a statement.
Michael Phelps is "delighted?" Oh please! You know a highly educated female wrote that press release. "Delighted" is word you use at the the opera when you meet the fat lady who did the most singing back stage and you say to her, "I am delighted to meet you."

So, this post is a request for comments on whether you think Michael Phelps is a good choice for Youth Ambassador for the IOC Youth Olympics?

First, consider these two positions:

Pro: Kids love him. Ostensibly, he is the greatest Olympian in the history of the games if not the world. He has a charity or two, and he is giving back to his sport with a million dollar endowment I believe?

Con: He has a DUI which he plead guilty to, a questionable bong photo with a carefully worded regret statement, has major aspirations to become a poker player, dated a Vegas stripper, and he killed tech-suits.

I am leaning towards the pro-arguments despite his lapses in moral judgment. Kids love this American hero despite his jackass mistakes. My premise is that a good result here can trump my "morality" and consequently his participation could launch the Youth Olympics in a big way. This planet needs more events like the Olympics to get us taking to one another. Phelps' participation could give "street cred" with the next generation.

But those offended by the DUI for obvious reasons, followed by the poker playing have a strong argument as well. Poker is a zero-sum game where one individual makes money for nothing and their opponents lose theirs. It's legal, it sanctioned, possibly regulated but that Mickey Rooney quote comes to mind, "I lost $2 on a horse and spent $2-million trying to get it back."

Should he be Youth Ambassador for the Youth Olympic Games?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Director Tim Burton: Both Swimmer and Water Polo Player!

Let's get him back into swimming, US Masters Swimming, for it looks like he could use it! Tom Hanks is certainly a candidate too since one of the characters he plays is suppose to be an accomplished swimmer.

From Monsters and Critics:

But the 16-year-old Burton, who would go on to make waves at the box office, was actually a member of a league championship-winning team in his sophomore year at Burbank High School in LA.

The team won the Sophomore Water Polo Foothill League Championship, according to the school yearbook.

Burton appears to have been a talented swimmer very much at home in the pool.


Holland Sentinel: Swim team demonstrated the essence of good sportsmanship

For most, middle school is a time of food-chain politics: the boys pick on the weakest, the girls pick on or gossip about the strongest. Not so for this tribe:

"... I was a timer at the team’s first meet of the season, and amid the swarm of boys trying to figure out what event they were swimming I noticed a boy standing quietly next to the block in my lane. Many years ago I was fortunate enough to coach this young man in soccer. He has a soft voice, a great smile and the manners of a true gentleman. However, he is a swimmer, the stopwatch will point out, who has and will have many challenges in life. ..."


Read to see what happens but I will give you a hint, it happens every weekend at a US Masters Swimming meet.

New SCAQ Masthead - Merritt flys past the SCAQ blog

Jaime Wooten took the photo of Merritt at the SPMA Rgional LCM Championships. Here is a link to Jaime site: [Link]

Do you have a cool starting block photo? Send it to me!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

2010 NWC Swim Champs - M 100 Fly Championship Final

You Tube: What a serious stroke the butterfly is! The winner took only 9-strokes on his final lap.

2010 NWC Swim Champs - M 50 Free Championship Final

21-seconds, not to shabby! From You Tube

2010 Northwest Conference Swimming Championships - Women 200 Freestyle Consolation Final

2010 Northwest Conference Swimming Championships - Women 200 Freestyle Consolation Final from You Tube

'Undrowning' A SCAQ swimmer starts a blog about Lanes 1-3!

Another SCAQ Swimmer has started a blog! It's topic: "... the lessons from the pool, but it is also to keep myself accountable every day and help me see my progress in the big picture. Jump in, drop me a line and undrown with me. ..."

A perfect blog for lane 1-3 or those who want to encourage lanes 1-3

From the blog, Undrowning:

"... Until today, my H2 fins allowed me to speed behind the faster swimmers in the “ego lanes”. My fins have been my crutches, so I decided to have one finless day every week; and today was the first.

Reality check! I was the slowest in the slow lane! A superhero with her powers stolen. But although I was a slow swimmer, I knew my progress was faster. It was a humbling workout that reminded me speed is not a sign of progress because the only one I’m competing against is myself. ..."


Rob of the Robaquatics blog is going on tour

Rob of the masters swimming blog, Robaquatics, wants to get to know you so he is going on tour.

From Robaquatics:

So I had this ridiculous idea in my head that over a few months slowly turned into a reality… I decided that I wanted to take the blog on tour like a garage band and hit a whole bunch of open water swims all over the country. What’s the point of living if you don’t have fun right? So instead of sitting at home and thinking man wouldn’t it be cool to travel all over just to swim, I decided to actually go do it and see what happens!

In my head I pictured a sweet RobAquatics tour van traversing the countryside, but unfortunately I have a day job so instead I’m just going to rack up a lot of frequent flyer miles! Here’s the tentative schedule for this summer... : [Link]

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Brook Bennett: Triple Olympic gold medalist now a reporter for the Bright House Sports Network.

Brooke beat Janet Evans in the 1996 Atlanta Games in the 800-meter free. It was Janet Evans' last race too. The mantle was then passed to Brooke and she carried it very well into Sydney where she won gold in both the 400 and 800-meter free.

A very nice "second act" for her.

From Tampa Bay Online:

Plant City native Brooke Bennett says it's OK if a high school athlete doesn't know she competed in two Olympic Games, won three gold medals and even had her picture on a box of Wheaties.

That was her old job as a professional swimmer, one she performed at the highest level for nearly half her life. Now 29, Bennett has moved on to her next career, as a reporter for Bright House Sports Network.


Kristin Ates: A deaf Swimmer who likes to win!

Great profile. Deafness is one of those disabilities where people actually can get mad at you for having a hearing deficit. The exasperation people get when they have to repeat themselves over and over is something deaf people hate. Instead of speaking slower, people start to yell, and get impatient. Lots of times deaf people will pretend they understand when they don't. Kirsten Ates seem to have overcome that with a cochlear implant and a lot of focus.


Tulane Swimmer represented the USA well in the Deaf Olympics in Taiwan.

Ates is so assimilated into everyday life that she arrived at Tulane without telling anyone she was deaf, including her coach. Guarriello found out about Ates' disability from the Greenbackers booster club.

"They asked me how I planned on coaching a hearing-impaired athlete, and I was just clueless," Guarriello said. "All of Kristin's communications with me up until that point had been via e-mail, and I'd never anticipated anything like that. I guess she had been Googled (by the boosters) and it was kind of a shock. I felt a little embarrassed that I didn't know."

It's not that Ates is ashamed of her hearing loss. She embraces her disability. She represented the United States in the World Deaf Championships in Taiwan and willingly answers questions about her handicap.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The USOC's "shot across the bow" of the IOC!

New USOC president is playing hardball with IOC - Larry Probst, chairman of the USOC, has categorically stated the USOC will not back any American city aiming for a 2020 or 2022 bid unless the IOC expresses interests.

From Inside the Games:

"I don't want to be bidding in a contest where their desire is go somewhere else."

Blackmun, who has been in his new role only three weeks, has been busy meeting IOC officials here but claims he has not received any indication yet that the USOC should put forward a candidate for the 2020 Olympics, which are due to be awarded at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires in 2013.

The quote in the Washington post was even more forceful:

"...The cold and hard reality is Chicago spent approximately $80 million on its bid," Blackmun said. "It's going to be difficult to get U.S. cities to continue to invest to that level unless they think they have a realistic chance of winning. The [International Olympic Committee] sent us a message, loud and clear, that they don't want the Games to be in the United States. ..."


His rant was for all ears to hear and it comes during a very successful Winter Games in Vancouver where American media has made the these games more watched, more appreciated, and more profitable than Torino. The next Winter Games will be in Sochi, Russia.

Perhaps the IOC should step back, take a deep breath, and confront the fact that after 2012 London games the next two Olympic games will both be held in emerging economies: Russia in 2014 and Brazil in 2016.

Note that the Russian Ruble is not a transferable currency ad I can't imagine how that is not going to cause problems.

In other words, I think the IOC taking a big gamble by alienating the USA

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jaz Carlin spnaks Rebecca Adlington and Jo Jackson in the 400-free and 200-free!

In today's swim universe you are only as good as your last swim and 19-year-old, Jaz Carlin, proved she is very, very good. She is also beautiful which doesn't hurt either. If she keeps this winning thing going, she will earn not just Olympic gold but real gold; the kind you can spend

From The Telegraph:

On Sunday she beat Jackson and double Olympic champion Adlington in the 400m freestyle in a time just 0.22 sec off her personal best, set during the era of the performance-enhancing suits. The fact the swimmers are in hard training further underlined the quality of her performance.

Hours later Carlin returned to the Wales National Pool to take the lead just before the final turn which she never relinquished to finish in 1 min 59.40 sec.

The Swansea-based Carlin is coached by Bud McAllister, who guided Janet Evans to three Olympic titles in 1988, the American revealing on Sunday his charge's tenacity had seen her likened to a "pitbull".


Wow, two words really impressed me in that paragraph: Janet Evans!

There are no "off meets" now for there are fewer sponsored athletes now. If you don't consistently win an athletes pay rate will either drop or their contract won't be renewed.

Swimmers are now rock bands: They don't make money off the "album" anymore; (read as suit companies), they have to go touring; (read as racing all over the world), and build their own constituencies. More fans means bigger contracts and a fan base to direct market to. Swimmers need to embrace their fans and allow them to throw money at them.

Jaz Carlin is so on my radar.

Friday, February 19, 2010

2010 will be all about the win column not the swim times or WRs!

When tech suits were banned, every pro-swimmer's business plan changed. It is not about times and world records any more. WR times and such are so over and virtually irrelevant.

Two things will matter: First off, The more races an athlete swims, the more Internet traffic, face time, and exposure they will generate for both their brands and themselves. Winning will be vital. Think boxing or the UFC; What will matter now is how many races an athlete has swam and how many wins they have collected?

Next is personality and fan accessibility: Races will be for heroes only! Fans don't want to hear odd statements before a meet such as "this is just a tune up meet," or "I'm just swimming through this one," These excuses won't fly when your sponsor is trying to sell a pair or $80 jammers. Athletes will only be as good as their last race and I predict they will pick their races wisely because wins and fan base will be the only marketable item that will allow a swimmer to gain or maintain sponsorship!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pedophile lawsuit moves forward against USA Swimming along with Pacific Swimming, San Jose Aquatics!

This is the second lawsuit in just two years. One more lawsuit and the US Senate will certainly get involved. National governing bodies are not suppose to get sued over anti-trust violations, and pedophiles.

On December 6th 2009 I suggested that USA Swimming adopt the same policy that the Boy Scouts of America utilize to protect both kids and coaches alike. I sent three emails and made a phone call but I heard nothing! I figure, okay, I will just start publishing the pedophile stories till it is addressed. Then I got a letter during the women's half-pipe last night. Apparently there was a coach who was way ahead of the curve and suggested the same thing to USA Swimming to no avail. Here is a link he sent me:

From Online PR News:

Online PR News – 03-February-2010 – The San Jose personal injury law firm of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard is vigorously pursuing its lawsuit against United States Swimming, Inc., also known as USA Swimming along with Pacific Swimming and San Jose Aquatics (Santa Clara County Superior Court, Case #109CV149813) as a result of sexual molestation acts committed against young teenage female swimmers by former San Jose Aquatics swim coach Andrew King, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison on Friday. As the national governing body, USA Swimming is responsible for selecting and training teams for international competitions including the Olympic Games.

The lawsuit claims that USA Swimming failed to conduct a proper background search on King at the time he was hired as the swim coach of San Jose Aquatics in December of 2000, and had they conducted such a background investigation, they would have discovered that King should never have been allowed to coach female swimmers.

In a deposition under oath, a former female swimmer of King described how Pacific Swimming board members referred to King as a 'pedophile' or 'child molester' in a joking manner, that King had a young teenage female swimmer living on his boat while at the same time King was staying with the parents of another teenage female swimmer that he was allegedly molesting as well.


The link has further lurid details regarding the San Jose fiasco and I am hoping that USA Swimming gets it and implements what one reader called the gold standard in protecting families and coaches. In fact here is his actual comment:

Anonymous said...

The BSA does and excellent job of keeping everyone above reproach. Their guidelines are "the gold standard".

Sad to say, very few organizations or groups that work with youth (schools, churches, etc) have standards this high...if any.

This standard works well for adults in business as well. If more adults adhered to it, there wouldn't be a problems with inappropriate conduct in the workplace.

Link to the BSA policy: [Link]

America Idol dethroned: The Winter Olympics embracing technology and speed have produced a ratings bonanza for NBC!

It's official, It took the world to subdue American Idol. Some estimates say 30-million people watched the Winter Olympics last light. That is 48% more viewers than a similar night at the 2006 Torino Winter Games.

This is shouting loud and clear that Olympic fans want speed, technology and really cool clothes. From ice skating to speed skating, from luge to bobsled, from snowcross to half pipe, viewers want Olympic sports taken to the next level and our winter friends delivered!

Betcha can't wait till summer?

"Good thing" FINA endorsed Speedo jammers to "save" swimming for we don't need no stinkin' technologeeee" do we?

From the Hollywood Reporter

For the first time in six years, the top-rated reality hit didn't win its time period. After 222 episodes, "Idol" was beaten at 9 p.m. by NBC's E-ticket coverage of the Winter Olympics on Wednesday night.

NBC had its most-watched night of Vancouver Games competition coverage so far. An estimated 29.4 million viewers tuned in as U.S. stars Lindsey Vonn, Shani Davis and Shaun White won Olympic gold.



That delivery dwarfed the similar night in Torino, with 17.9 million viewers on average by 64%. Ratings grew 48% to a 16.7 rating/27 share from an 11.3/18 four years ago in Italy.



The athletes themselves, she added, "are testing hundreds of different combinations of the right skis and waxes and grinds to make sure they have the best run, plus you have a huge amount of computers to pull this off ."

Her biggest problem, she said, "is too many technology stories at the moment."


Featured above are British skeleton sleds with the images of the owners mapped in 3d as a de facto signature as to who the sleds belong too. The sleds themselves may be made from composite materials, I don't know, but the Germans were accused of using something even more sci-fi:

From DW-World:

"...Last week the German skeleton team rejected accusations of cheating after Canada's Olympic skeleton silver medalist Jeff Pain suggested that an electro-magnetic material in the German sleds was giving the team an advantage.

Team spokeswoman Margit Denglar-Paar told Deutsche Welle that the accusations "are total nonsense," adding that she had "never heard anything like that" before.

"Our sleds constantly have been monitored by the material commission of the FIBT and were found to be accurate," she said. "All German skeleton sleds were checked during the World Cup season [at the end of last year].


So, know this, while the "winter world" moves on, FINA will keep swimming safe from technology, speed and world records.

Hail FINA!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Profesional Women Swimmers: Underpaid, underappreciated but in hot demand!

Hot demand!

Using Google Analytics I was able to categorize 56,000 keyword searches to the site from search engines as Google, Bing, Yahoo and others. What I found is that there is more interest in female swimmers than there is towards male counterparts. The obvious top searches were for Michael Phelps, his bulldog, and Ian Thorpe, but after that the overwhelming majority of searches were for women swimmers.

Ironically enough the searches for women were not necessarily for the top ranked women swimmers, rather they were generally searches for women who are something more than just a swimmer. For instance: Dara Torres and Amanda Beard ranked quite high but Olympian, NCAA champ, and actress, Rada Owen, was searched for even more than Amanda Beard.

So why is that?

For one Rada Owen is an actress, a writer and a coach. She was showcased as the lead swimmer in Swimming Faster Freestyle with David Marsh and had a McDonalds commercial running all through the Summer Olympics last year. (She was the elite swimmer girl with the infectious smile.)

Female Swimmers Underpaid:

If you are an American female swimmer and own a world record in a difficult event, on average you are making less than $100,000 with no health care benefits. Not bad money but you can count those American female swimmers with a WR on one hand.

There was one swimmer on the keyword that was red hot for more than a year but her agent utterly failed her. If you wanted to interview this phenom, the agent set a fee. Also, finding a photo of her was impossible since they were all copy-protected. I couldn't even talk about her because I had nothing to say for I had no information about her but rather just results. Occasionally there would be a post about her in the Washington Post but the lack of access made her seem aloof and consequently she is now practically invisible.

What her management team failed to realize is that a lack of sponsors was not her problem; It was obscurity. The solution to that is to simply give yourself away. That is to say get photos taken and send them all over creation. Especially to blogs like mine. tell your story when you accomplish something, draw a picture like that skier did in the "Go World" commercial and turn it into a computer desktop or wallpaper.

Author William Gibson once drew me a picture in a copy of his best selling novel for me and I became an immediate die-hard fan. The book was called Mona Lisa Overdrive. He did it after I told him he should become an art director since his work is so immersive. Form then on I bought all of his books and I quote him early and often. (He invented the word "cyberspace," and created a genre of science fiction called "cyberpunk." He also predicted a new technology called "augmented reality." Why do I know that, becasue I am a di-hard fan after receiving such a wonderful gift.)

Most professional swimmers have a fan base and their minimum goal should be to attain at least 1,000 die-hard fans. Just 1,000 fans! Take a moment and let that sink in. At least that is what the website, The Technium, figured out and they did the math. Even marketing genius, Seth Godin, points to this study:
The Technium:

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can't wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.

Assume conservatively that your True Fans will each spend one day's wages per year in support of what you do. That "one-day-wage" is an average, because of course your truest fans will spend a lot more than that. Let's peg that per diem each True Fan spends at $100 per year. If you have 1,000 fans that sums up to $100,000 per year, which minus some modest expenses, is a living for most folks.
Now, Imagine if your fan-base was 5,000?

Female swimmers need to market themselves, their talents, their good looks and finally create some sort of innovative souvenir of their accomplishments to better facilitate the fan experience. It could be a workout log, photos of the event, or a season diary. Swimmers should not wait for a suit company or a shampoo company to do it for them.

Under appreciated

Frank DeFord says it better than I can.

Frank DeFord at NPR:

"... Have women's sports ever been so much in the news? Lindsey Vonn was ordained the very face of the Olympics. Danica Patrick's incursion into NASCAR has been all the vroom-vroom of motor sports. A bowler named Kelly Kulick whipped all the men in the Tournament of Champions. Serena Williams' victory at the Australian Open matched the headlines given to Roger Federer.

But notice something unique about this exceptional focus on women athletes?

All of them are in individual sports. Although more and more American schoolgirls grow up playing team games, those sports just don't attract commensurate attention at any level. With women's team sports, there is still a glass grandstand. ..."


His solution is what I am suggesting for a pro-league. For women to be seen, heard, appreciated and PAID, men have to be invited to contribute to their coffers and appreciate their talents.

I have to rush this post but I had so much more to say. For now please don't think I am the genius that thought these ideas up - Mostly I learned these concepts from, Seth Godin, Frank DeFord, and the marketing and PR people I have worked with.

Above is Chloe Sutton, coached by Nadadores head coach, Bill Rose. She could be the crossover phenom swimming needs. I bet she has 1,000 fans all ready?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

...And the winner is for Britain’s favorite wetsuit, as voted by the readers of '220 Triathlon' magazine is: The blueseventy Helix

From the blueseventy press release:

The blueseventy Helix wetsuit won a major award at the Triathlon, Cycling and Running Show at Sandown Park, UK, this weekend, 13-14th February. The Helix retained its position as Britain’s favorite wetsuit, as voted by readers of 220 triathlon magazine.

blueseventy is the choice of champions, such as Chrissie Wellington, who was also at the show to accept two awards from ironman legend Dave Scott. Scott was one of the star guests of the awards dinner, which attracted 300 guests.

ITU world champion and blueseventy sponsored athlete, Alistair Brownlee was deservedly voted top male triathlete of the year following his five out of five wins on the world cup circuit in 2009.

Marketing Manager, Dean Jackson, said: “The world really is swimming faster in blueseventy and athletes like Chrissie Wellington and Alistair Brownlee clearly demonstrate this. We’re delighted to have won this award, and that triathletes recognize what a great suit the helix is.

“A lot of development goes in to continually improving our whole range of wetsuits and the 2010 helix features calf compression and proprioceptive arm panels to improve power and propulsion. We’ve also brought out a new balanced buoyancy range to cater for negative as well as neutrally buoyant swimmers.”

TYR signs Nick Thoman

Huntington Beach, Calif. – February 16, 2010- TYR announces the signing of world record holder and U.S. National Team member Nick Thoman to their roster of world-class athletes that include Matt Grevers, Ariana Kukors, and Amanda Weir. With the multi-year agreement, Thoman will compete and train in all TYR swimsuits, including the new Tracer High-Performance Line, as well as swim and lifestyle apparel and accessories.

The U.S. has been loaded with the world’s best backstrokers for decades, and Nick is next,” said TYR’s Team Sales and Promotions Director Matt Zimmer. “His talent has been evident for a while, but being able to beat the best on the international level is never easy. He is ready for his name to be amongst the best, and TYR will support him every step of the way.”

Thoman is currently one of the fastest backstrokers in the world after recently breaking the 100m short course backstroke world record while representing Team USA at December 2009’s “Duel in the Pool.” Clocking a 48.94 while leading off the men’s 4x100m individual medley relay, his performance aided in the relay team breaking the event’s world record as well. Thoman continues to train in Charlotte, N.C., in hopes of an Olympic berth in 2012 while partnered with TYR.

“I am very excited to sign with TYR,” Thoman shared. “The company is very generous and supportive of their athletes and I anticipate having a lot of success in their products.”

TYR will look to draw on Thoman’s talent and input while developing new technical products. In addition, the company will provide him with a variety of suits from the new Tracer High-Performance Line – including the Tracer Light, Tracer B-Series, and Tracer C-Series- for both domestic and international competitions.

Nick’s excited to be performing in the Tracer C-Series jammer, and we’re honored that he chose TYR as his partner for his 2012 efforts,” Zimmer added.

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's a sad day for professional swimming when a 'garbage man' makes more money than a professional swimmer!

I once made a prediction that when FINA killed off suits, money would exit the sport and I was supremely flattered when Rowdy Gaines left a comment telling me I was 100% correct.

Well, circa February 2010 there are a slew of unemployed swimmers, slashed sponsorship budgets and there is lots of "blood" and "red ink" on the highway.

$75,000 can buy you an 'A-List' swimmer - Same fee as a garbage man but he gets better health care benefits and a 401k! Gets days off too and a paid vacation.

What a mess this is "...To "save" swimming, they may have nearly destroyed it..." A similar circumstance happened to ice skating which is where I stole that wonderful, hyperbolic, quote from:

Frank DeFrord From NPR:

"... Remember the town in Vietnam that, they said, had to be destroyed in order to be saved? Something like that applies very well to figure skating, a sport with a judging system so corrupt that changes had to be made.

Unfortunately, instead of trusting that they could change the judges, they changed the whole system and thereby destroyed the sport's popularity.


For years, the Olympic figure skating championships were about the only other competition to approach Super Bowl ratings. Figure skating was the tent pole that held up the whole Winter Olympics.

The prime purpose of the new and unimproved scoring system was to better quantify the various elements in a program — required jumps and spins — so that the famously nefarious judges would have less latitude to cheat.


The other day I asked Johnny Weir, the most lyrical of American skaters, how much time he could really afford to show off his original artistry in a long program. "Ten seconds," he replied straightaway. Ten seconds out of 4 1/2 minutes to express himself, in a sport where expression was as much the glory as axels and Salchows were the power.


The above article is a must-read, or better, a must-listen! It is a stark warning for swimming and so far that is not an exageration. Remember Ricky Berens, and Alissa Fillippi all over the Huffington Post? The Speedo LZR in the Window of Saks Fifth Avenue? All that controversy and hype is now gone and so are profits and the attention. Controversy makes money. Maybe suits were not ethical nor moral, but they put swimming on the radar and swimmers in swimsuits.

Wait, I have more: It's official, swimming has now gone back underground!

Speedo once had a stable of 40-swimmers; that stable has been greatly reduced. Many "A-list" swimmers are unsigned today and are very worried about it. Sponsorship rates have crashed as well. To put the economics in perspective, one "A-List" sprinter who swam in the Sydney 2000 Olympics was making a whopping $250,000 a year. (I spoke to a witness who saw the contract.) That price tag is not even a third of what it once was and that is if you are "A-List" female sprinter with a great looks and a charismatic personality.

Only Phelps is making the big bucks.

I spoke with an executive of a suit company who is flabbergasted that FINA's "u-turn" is obviously crushing everyone and they don't seem to care. He credited the USMS for forward thinking and made it clear that the USMS is on their radar for advertising support.

Now it gets surreal: The American Swimming Coaches Association may be trying to figure how they can repackage tech-suits as a "swimming aids" instead of swimsuits? HELLO! Who is the genius that thought that up? Perhaps ASCA needs tech-suit money too?

Here is a link to the ASCA survey that they are sending out to coaches which I suspect is trying to make an argument for keeping suits around in a very silly way. this was sent to me by a swimmer: [Link]

More fallout: I was told Jaked was bought out and will be making competition suits and other swimwear for the Italian market including running shoes as well. Jaked did so well at Word Championships they were now a de facto brand in demand in Italia.

As for TYR, they are going into the "octagon cage" with both USA Swimming and Speedo over this fiasco and every legal expert I have talked to; (three total), said both Speedo and USAS are in trouble and they should settle. Other NGBs are looking at this lawsuit and they are not stoked for this could be scandalous.

Tech-suits may have been a "crime" for they paid bills and grew the sport!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How ethical is it for an athlete to compete against their own country in the Olympic Games?

Borders are blurring; allegiances are blurring, especially with BYU swimmer, Rachel Grant aka Myang Lee! According to the Mormon Times, she wants to race in the 2012 Olympics for Hong Kong and NOT the USA.

If you look a little closer at her times, she wouldn't even be accepted into USA Nationals anyway.

If she qualifies for Hong Kong, she will walk under the Chinese/Hong Kong flag which, in accordance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration, is a policy that is known as the "one country, two systems" policy. Ultimately she will be swimming for China even though the Hong Kong flag appears to state otherwise. Though Hong Kong and Taiwan are seemingly autonomous regions, when the USS Nimitz was granted permission to sail into a Hong Kong port recently, China was not amused and the appropriate politicians were spanked.

Rachel Grant
set a BYU short course yards record in the 200 fly in a time of 2:01.04. The world record for for the 200-long course meter fly is 2:01.81 set by Liu Zige. If you convert the times to long-course-meters, a meter being 10% farther than a yard, and in a venue with four less walls to push off of, her times convert to 2:19-plus. I don't think you can get invited to quasi pro-meet or a USA Swimming Grand Prix with a time like that. (In fact Kendyl Stewart at age 14 swam a 1:59.97 in a short course yard pool. I am told that Kendyl Stewart is going to continue to swim as fast as she can and try to make the US team. Go Kendyl.)

So what are the motivations for swimming under a foreign flag when a swimmer has no chance of making it to the finals or even the semi-finals in either USA Nationals or the Olympics? I am going to say it straight out, it is vanity and it thereby robs a struggling athlete who lives in Hong Kong the glory and the right to represent their country?

Examples of Olympic greats who swam as expatriates: Gabrielle Rose for both Brazil and the United States and of course Milorad Čavić stand out.

Rose swam for Stanford with Richard Quick and was so accomplished as a swimmer that she swam the gauntlet for both Brazil and the USA and made it into the Olympics. At Nationals she was in lane-8 and not expected to win but she did win and it was a stunning race full of heart and lots of fortitude and she made it. I was lucky enough to get stroke tips from her. In fact, I have gotten stroke tips from four Olympians through SCAQ.

Milorad Čavić, A citizen of both the United States and Serbia, attended Tustin High School in California, where he set four CIF records and a national high school mark in the 50 yd freestyle. While swimming for the University of California, Berkeley and training with Mike Bottom, Čavić set a new school and Pac-10 record in the 100 yd butterfly. Then we know about his being out touched twice by Michael Phelps in one of the most exciting races the Olympics have seen. I have no problem with Milorad Čavić because he could make any team in the world and Serbia was the team he chose. His allegiance is pure and he belongs in the Olympics because he is the 2nd best the world had ever seen.

Look what the internet, religion, corporations, and capitalism have done to sovereign borders. Will borders become obsolete and when they do will nations begin to sponsor athletes much like corporations do or will people expatriate themselves for 15-minutes or so just to put on their resume that they swam in the Olympics. I hope USA Swimming and the IOC make policies regarding this.

From the Mormon Times:

Yes, the BYU swimmer was born of a Chinese mother and an American father in Hong Kong. Though she only lived there for a short while after her birth, she has dual passports and dual citizenship, leaving her fully credited to swim for the team from her other country.

Of course, before she decides if she has enough oomph left to train for a year on her own for the next Olympics, Grant is happily training and competing in the water for the BYU Cougars.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Harris synchronized swim skit on stage!

A sincere effort in my opinion!

You know the Winter Olympics is in trouble when they have to use a Summer Olympian named Michael Phelps to drum up interest!

It means the winter Olympics has no champion or personality on the radar. From MSNBC:

On the surface, Phelps is hawking a Subway turkey melt. But in 30 seconds, we learn an Olympic-sized business truth. When it comes to endorsements, summer stars — including some, like Phelps, with an illicit smudge or two on their luster — outshine, outlast and outearn their chilly-weather brothers and sisters. And they do it even in the days and hours before the Vancouver games.


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Another huge open-water race down under - 3300 compete in the 'Cole Classic'

3,300-people is the military equal to three-or-four battalions worth of swimmers. I have no idea how they were able to handle that mass of people but they sure do look like they had a lot of fun.


FOR the third year in a row, conditions conspired yesterday to stop the Cole Classic from having a spectacular surf finish at Manly Beach.

Instead, Sydney's great ocean swimming event, sponsored by The Sydney Morning Herald, had to start and finish at sheltered Shelly Beach around the corner.

Forecasts of foul weather and rough sea conditions kept the number of participants down. In the end, 3328 people completed the one kilometre and 2km swims, compared with 3333 last year.


I think I can say this without any note of hyperbole or politics since it is summarily demonstrable: Open water racing promoters are doing a heck of lot more for the sport of open water swimming than FINA is.

Perhaps FINA should embrace these public endeavors at large rather than just the professional races?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Redondo Beach Triathlon 2010 - the most fair triathlon swim-wise I could fine!

I have always found that the swim portion of the average triathlon race is so out of balance with the rest of the disciplines that I wondered why they even bothered with having a swim at all? In fact, race directors just keep making the swimming leg shorter and shorter to accommodate those athletes that really can't swim.

I am seeing races featuring 200-meter swims, 12-mile bike rides and 5k runs. That effort ratio between the three events is so asymmetrical that you might as well put the swim as the last leg so that the athletes can use it as a warm down. In fact put the swim event in a pool so lifeguards have better visibility and athletes can cool off in a temperature controlled environment. (I am just pushing buttons here. This paragraph is simply a "Reductio ad Absurdum" rhetoric device or reducing the situation to absurdity to illustrate a point.)

With all that said, I found a triathlon that is not only symmetrical in effort and features a course with great view, it's ultimately a fair race. It also takes place less than an hour from my home witch is another asset. I was willing to travel a few hundred miles to find a fairly balanced triathlon but I can do a fair one in my back yard.

Here is a link for details: [Link]

Friday, February 05, 2010

Predatory jumbo flying squid invade California waters! - Where are the sharks when you need them?

Apparently sharks are on the ropes as a species and consequently these jumbo squid are taking advantage of their absence by traveling into coastal waters to feed on whatever they want.

They are both bad and hungry. Imagine being grabbed and bit by a Macaw parrot like beak; see the movie for details. They can range in size from 3-feet to 7-feet and it is perfectly okay to fish and eat these "cracken" since they are aggressive predators and their populations are exploding due to the over-fishing of sharks and swordfish.

From Mother Nature Network:

"Hake; [fish] has been clobbered, apparently, by these squid," said Bruce Robison, senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. "Its decline exactly matches [the squid's] rise."

In order to compete, a number of fishing boat operators in California have been adding nighttime voyages. But the additional moonlit expeditions aren't designed to catch traditional fish at odd hours — they are designed to turn the hunters into the hunted. Jumbo squid, it turns out, make a tasty calamari steak.


You know they are heading to Zuma. The ocean life there is so diverse and abundant. I have seen whales at play at Drainpipe, dolphins, reys, schools of flying fish during el nino periods and with that sort of diversity, these Humbolt Squid will be heading there. So watch you feet if you are surfing and poke them in the eye if one grabs you.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Florida Shark Attack: Kite boarder dies from muliple shark assailants!

Florida has more shark attacks than California. I guess the sharks here are a bit more intelligent than the sharks in Florida. The sharks here just bite you once here, kick you with their fin and leave. In fact there is one now jumping out of the water at Sunset Beach in L.A. County.

Apparently in both Florida and South Africa you are a menu item!


Libby Trickett considering coming out of retirement!

The news is in the last paragraph in this article: [Link]

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The thinking behind Swimming Asutralia's decision to "change" Alan Thompson's duties as GM and head coach!

On those rare occasions that I am right, I like to gloat! So my "gloat" is on, baby!

Though I promised I would never run a Nicole Jeffrey article ever again how can I not run this story when she flatly "outs" the fact that coaches who are on a suit manufacturers payroll or coaches who work in a dual role as both General Manager and Head Coach and are in a position to choose which suit manufacturer writes your National Governing Body(NGB) a million-dollar-check, how can that not create conflict of interest situation?

I think the evidence is clear: The person who selects which 1-million-dollar suit endorsement for their NGB is the exact person who should not sit on any FINA commission deciding the fate of any suit technology, nor should they be allowed to order athletes, hard sell athletes, or market to athletes which suits to wear. They should be be both independent and neutral.

Again I commend Swimming Australia for foresight to do what is right by dividing those roles:

From the Australian:

By early last year it became clear that if Australia's swimmers continued to wear Speedo's LZR Racer at last year's world titles in Rome, they would be giving up a competitive advantage.

Thompson is not a man who is afraid of a fight and he became embroiled in this one on two fronts. Domestically, he argued forcefully and publicly that Australia's swimmers had to have the freedom to choose the most competitive suit for the world titles, upsetting Speedo and the SAL board.

Internationally, he was one of the leading figures in the campaign to restore the integrity of the sport by banning polyurethane from suits, a campaign that took him away from the national team at times.


Speedo has a new boss: retracted

Disregard - Google screwed up date.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Michael Phelps is reportedly playing poker again.

Since the computer drove a stake through the heart of chess, poker has become its replacement game. (Gary Kasparov, Chess grandmaster even says so.)

Compatible Poker writes:

Nevertheless, Phelps was back on the green felt at the Borgato and made it through to the second day. The swimmer lost to Jeff Madsen in the third round and then beat pros such as Adam Gerber and Paul Wasicka in another bracket.

I really don't like poker and I never found it romantic. The players showcased on ESPN and such always struck me as somewhat dull or obnoxiously loud and one-for-one they are lousy dressers.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Swimmer/Triathlete John Flanagan signs with TYR!

From the TYR press release:

After completing a successful swimming career- which included a national championship title while on the USA Swimming roster and an NCAA team title while competing at Auburn University- John has taken his skill in the pool and channeled it to a now successful professional triathlon career. At the 2009 Ironman World Championships, he was first out of the water wearing TYR’s Sayonara swimskin. A TYR coach as well, we cannot be more thrilled to sponsor and support such an amazing asset to both the swim and triathlon community.
Huntington Beach, Calif. – February 1, 2010 - TYR continues to expand its elite roster of world-class athletes with the signing of triathlon “King of Swim” John Flanagan. The Hawaii native competed in the company’s Sayonara swimskin when leading out of the water at the 2009 Ironman World Championships. He will continue to race in TYR’s line of swimskins, apparel, and accessories, as well as the newest addition to the Triathlon line, the Hurricane wetsuit.

“All of us at TYR are thrilled to have John Flanagan as one of our flagship athletes,” said TYR Triathlon Sales and Promotions Director Ryan Dolan. “John has been a long time member of the TYR family. He coaches TYR teams and has represented the company in national and international open water swimming events. We look forward to him racing in our new premier wetsuit, the Hurricane.”

Flanagan proved his swimming strength at many national and international triathlon races in the past year. In addition to his 47:42 split at the world championships during the 2.4-mile swim leg, he set the swim course record at the 2009 Ironman Louisville race, averaging roughly 1:10 per 100 meters to clock in at 44:45. His success is rooted in over a decade of competitive swimming including a 2001 national title, an NCAA team title for Auburn University’s Men’s Swimming and Diving team, and four years as a Team USA swim member.

“I use TYR products everyday for either training or racing,” said Flanagan. “The Sayonara swimskin is the fastest suit I have ever swam in and helps me get out to a good start in my races. I also look forward to competing in cold water races this year so I can use the new Hurricane wetsuit!”

Flanagan joins the world’s greatest triathletes on Team TYR including Chrissie Wellington, Andy Potts, Sarah Haskins, and Julie Dibens.

“TYR is committed to the success of it’s athletes, and I want to continue to be a part of it,” Flanagan concluded.