Saturday, April 30, 2011

The good news about comebacks and the bad news about comebacks!

Had a thought just now: It's terrific that swimmers who have gone into retirement then make a decision to comeback do inspire generations to keep with their sports. However, the bad news is that perhaps these comebacks are viable due to the fact that the upcoming talent happens to be too anemic to provide a stronger, faster and more motivated performance. Thus the "older model" is still better than the "newer model."


TedBaker said...

You are spot on: Comebacks are only possible when the current crop of athletes is weak.

It's one of the reasons why you so rarely - in fact, I can think of none - see comebacks in US swimming.

US swimming doesn't re-build, it re-loads. And I'm not American.

Stu said...

Hmm, except Hanson, Crocker, Moses. All of whom are considering comebacks this year.

Trev said...

Is Dara Torres not a comeback? She's retired twice and "come back" twice, faster than the competition, and faster than her previous self.

Hard work, genetics, and - perhaps most importantly - training innovation.

I don't think her comebacks have anything to do with an "anemic" crop of younger swimmers. Just my two cents.

Full disclosure: I'm also hopelessly, madly in love with her.

Tony Austin said...

But don't you think it is sad that there is nobody younger and stronger who can do the same thing?

We are going to suck in 2012. We have no sprinters as capable as the French or Australians. No breaststroke contingent to compete with the Japanese. No backstroker who can compete with Camile LaCourt but we do have an unmotivated Phelps who only regrets his lack of motivation when he loses a race.

The relays are going to suck for us too.

surfer said...

2012 will be a break out year for a number of 'new' US gold medal talent. the motivating meets are just around the corner. The old guard will be well represented and will medal to, they just aren't hot this early (and they don't have to be)

Tony Austin said...

FINA Worlds will be the Rubicon - if the super talent is not there, I don't think there will be a resurgence of near talent a mere year later.

This is what happens when programs get closed down.

Anonymous said...

Phelps alone could beat LaCourt and French freestylers too.

Tony Austin said...

No way. The word could would have to do battle with his lack of passion and motivation.

Plus, the French are the best right now.

TedBaker said...

Don't mistake the democratization of the swimming world with a lack of depth when speaking about the American programme versus the rest of the world's.

The US is still the swimming power with the greatest depth: The 5th best American can beat the 5th best finisher from darn near anywhere else in darn near anything. That's a function, I think, of their relative size (300 million) and the number of programmes in the country.

Evidence of that US strength is their relay performance: If you want to win a relay at where they are present - men or women - more times than not, you're going to have to go through them.

Event winners, though, are increasingly international and I think that comes with the very precise means by which talent is identified the world over. And, I think, once talent is identified, the coaching process is no longer a "black box". Excellent coaching is available everywhere and (Another "and", I know.) elite athletes are so mobile now. Look at Brett Hawke's Auburn sprint programme. Or the hothouse programme in Italy that counts Mike Cavic and Randal Ball, among others, as members.

Trev, a "duh" moment on my part : I did forget about Torres. A notable exception to my thesis.

Anonymous said...

Not a lot of new talent because people do not know how to tread the political waters of USA swimming. Many opportunities are based on who one knows. The sport has proven to be exclusive, in some areas, denying some the opportunity to compete.

People underestimate the power of mental ability / mental strength.

Swimmers are taught that if they are not great at age 15/16 they have no future in the sport.

Tony Austin said...

I am just as cynical too

Jake said...

It is always fun to see athletes bounce back from a time away from the game, but their stories are generally better when competition is down! I think that you are right in assuming that this is the case.