Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Flattery will not get you on the blog but Jason Lezak will!

Can you name the Olympians?

Fort Bragg: Also known as "Glass Beach!"

From Colossal Art & Design:

"... In 1967 the North Coast Water Quality Board closed the area completely and initiated a series of cleanups to slowly reverse decades of pollution and environmental damage. But there was one thing too costly (or perhaps impossible) to tackle: the millions of tiny glass shards churning in the surf. Over time the unrelenting ocean waves have, in a sense, cleansed the beach, turning the sand into a sparkling, multicolored bed of smooth glass stones now known as Glass Beach. ..."


More at Wikipedia: [Link]
And even more at Fort [Link]

There is a very nice collection of macrophotography at the site.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Paul Yetter of T2 Aquatics has a blog - He also coached Katie Hoff

Paul Yetter has a blog and it is full of stats, analytics, and swimming related opinions. Way better than my blog and in my sincere opinion this blog should be in the number one position at Google for swim blogs since it is for both coaches, swimmers and is very well written.

A swim formula for predicting IM times based on past individual performances :

I found through this process a way of predicting Katie’s Medley performances, based upon the results (times) of her 100 and 200 Fly, Back, Breast, and Free. This method of prediction seems to work with many athletes around the world. The formula is this:

Take the athlete’s 200 Fly Time + 200 Back Time + 200 Breast Time + 200 Free Time to get an “800 time” …..divide the 800 time, and add 5-10 seconds.

The same formula can be applied to the 200 IM. Take the athlete’s 100 Fly Time + 100Back Time + 100 Breast Time + 100 Free Time to get a “400 Time”….divide the 400 time, and add 5-10 seconds.

Here’s a practical example of how this works. Katie Hoff’s 200 “Stroke Times” in 2004 were as follows:

2:12.1 Fly + 2:16.0 Back + 2:30.4 Breast + 202.1 Free (9:00 total)….divide 9:00 and get a 4:30, add 5-10 seconds and you get a range of 4:35-4:40. Katie swam a 4:37 that year to qualify for her first Olympic Team.

By 2008, Katie had made some big improvements. Here’s how 2008 went:

2:11.0 Fly + 2:09.9 Back + 2:29.7 Breast + 1:55.7 Free (8:46 total)….divide 8:46 and get a 4:23, add 5-10 seconds and you get a range of 4:28-4:33. Katie swam a 4:31 that year to set her 2nd 400 IM World Record.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Secret Life of Swimmers over at "Fubiz"

A photo gallery of before and after shots of... guess what? Swimmers!

Great photo gallery at Fubiz: [Link]

Sunday, August 21, 2011

'Levis 501 Jeans' Commercial circa 1992 pays homage to the 1968 move: "The Swimmer" which stared Burt Lancaster.

Yes, swimming, swimmers and pools are sexy. Why isn't there a reality show based on swimming and swimmers? Have you seen the crap on Discovery channel as of late? Sons of Guns, Ice Truckers, Deadliest Catch, Pitchman, American Chopper, and soon a show about launching anvils into the air with dynamite.

Let's be serious, there are men out there whose chests are wider than their wastes, who don't smoke, don't have to compensate, and are both strong and graceful in a sport that could almost 1/3-of-the population if they accidentally fell off a docked boat.

On a ranking of 1-to-10 with a ten being best, I give the commercial a 10. It's colorful, sexy and very "Americana."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Vintage swim ad Friday: This one for 'The Jantzen International Sports Club'

I think I have become an authority on Jantzen swimsuit ads of the past. Yes, it is official, they are filled with a bit of subtext I suspect?

Witness these jolly men hanging out next to a Hobie Longboard; which was the Channel Islands surfboard of its day, with one holding up next to it is a commercialized version of a skateboard which was available in toy stores everywhere.

Both the surfboard and the skateboard feature color patterns that obviously mirror those colors used in the Jantzen swimsuit products. Also, and I don't know if this was intentional, the first man has no hair on his chest, the second, some hair and the third, lots of chest hair. Was this an attempt at diversity?

Now finally, notice the product box in the lower right hand corner; makes you feel like your joining a seriously dedicated men's club don't you think?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New York Times: "Are crunches worth the effort?"

Apparently, evidence demonstrates that "ripped abs" are for "show" but there is a small caveat: Those with weak cores should strengthened them:

From The New York Times:
No one needs to perform hundreds or even dozens of crunches, said Brad Schoenfeld, a professor of exercise science at Lehman College in the Bronx and an author of a newly published review article about core exercises titled “To Crunch or Not to Crunch.” And while everyone needs some basic minimum of core strength — getting up out of a chair requires a certain amount of core strength; serving a tennis ball requires more – “six or eight crunches would be plenty,” he said, “and only a few times a week. ...”

There is also a procedure in the New York Times article as to how one can do a correct sit-up without injuring lumbar or cervical discs. The abstract linked to above says crunches are not friendly to spine health.

The question is, how important is it to have a "ripped" core for swimming?

This study listed at the National Institute of Health seems to support that there comes a time when your core is strong enough:

Abstract: Development and validation of a core endurance intervention program: implications for performance in college-age rowers.

The objective of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a core endurance exercise protocol. Forty-five college-age rowers (age 21 +/- 1.0) were assigned to either a core training group [core group] (n = 25), which took part in a core endurance intervention exercise protocol, or to a control training group [control group] (n = 20), which was not given any specialized core training. Training took place 2 days per week for 8 weeks. Trunk endurance was assessed using flexion, extension, and side flexion tests, whereas a variety of functional performance measures were assessed (vertical jump, broad jump, shuttle run, 40-m sprint, overhead medicine ball throw, 2,000-m maximal rowing ergometer test). The results revealed significant improvement in the two side flexion tests for the core group (p < 0.05). Interestingly, significant differences were noted in the trunk extension test endurance times for the control group (p < 0.05), but not for the core group. No significant differences were found for any of the functional performance tests. In summary, the 8-week core endurance training program improved selected core endurance parameters in healthy young men, but the effectiveness of the core intervention on various functional performance aspects was not supported.


As for me I have never been happy with my core strength which could be the result of seeing too many "ripped abs" in billboards, magazines, beer commercials, and music videos. I suspect actually doing the sport you do will give you the abs you need unless it is running.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

USOC will collect $100-million when 2012 Games go Live - they will only spend $17-million of it on athletes!

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) sent 596 athletes to Beijing; (310 men and 286 women), and they all competed in 27 out of 28 Olympic sports. If the same number goes to London, the USOC will paid out $17.2-million in what they call “logistical and operational support in sending teams” which is only a fraction of the money they take in. $17.2-million sounds like a hefty amount but it is not. That number works out to be $28,523 for each member and some is obviously shared sending coaches as well. Now, this does not mean that each member was handed a $28,523 check. The phrase "logistical and operational support" is essentially a nebulous region or a complete mystery to all of us. Could they be spending some of that money on USOC owned "logistical and operational support services?" Reference: [Link]

When I worked at Disney, every board meeting I attended with the executive staff was catered by Disney owned services. Anything thing that was purchased had to be purchased by Disney properties such ABC, ESPN, etc. etc. Disney was essentially paying themselves and their markup probably to dilute earnings within the various business units. Most Fortune-500 do that. This is one of the reasons that the average motion picture never turns a profits.

So, referencing the first paragraph, what are they doing with the remaining $87-million? Why don't they throw in another $20-million for the athletes in the form of a salary? Wait, then they would only have $65-million dollars left over to spend on their employees. So, what do their employees make?

These are 2009 numbers:
Total compensation for 22 high-level executives equaled $6.5 million, and 66 of 473 employees collected more than $100,000 apiece. Tops were chief operating officer Norman Bellingham at $663,369, former chief executive officer Jim Scherr at $619,507 and chief communications officer Darryl Seibel at $367,779.


In 2009, they collected about 200-million in revenue

Now, let's keep in mind these salaries are not being handed out by a Fortune-500 company but rather, a non profit... A non profit.

Example: Let's say I start a charity and my job is to take care homeless people. What percentage of the dollar amount received should this charity put towards the subject of their non-profit? i.e. the homeless versus the employees and the organizational costs that is suppose to assist them?

In this case the USOC is spending 43% of their income just on salaries alone that nearly triple the national average with and only 17% on the athletes.

Here is how the costs and profits break down in 2008, I reference this since an Olympic year is coming up:
"...It generated $280.6 million in total revenue, $133.9 million more than in 2007, helping offset $231.1 million in expenses, including $71.4 million on athletes and national governing bodies of Olympic sports, $39 million on employee compensation and $25.2 million on training center costs. ..."

So, in my opinion handing money to the USOC or even USA Swimming and expecting it to trickle down to the athletes is an absolutely absurd notion. You might as well hand the governing bodies a pitchfork and watch them shovel nickels and dimes in the athletes general direction and hope some of them roll down the to the road to the kids that support these governing bodies.

This really is a racket and should be investigated by the IRS:
"... The USOC issued $43.3 million in grants to 37 NGBs, including $4 million to U.S. Ski and Snowboard, $3.4 million to USA Swimming and $3.2 million to USA Track & Field. It spent $11.5 million on 22 Paralympic sports. ..."

Read more: [Link]

...All from a $200-million pot! Disgraceful!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Vintage swim ad Friday: This one for 'Ralph Lauren' circa 1980's

This one From Ralph Lauren actually is a totally functional design that would even work as a swim suit. It covers the shoulders from sunburn and is extraordinarily sexy; but then again, all of Ralph Luren's stuff is a classic and never really dates itself.

Found at Glamour Splash: [Link]

And that's not all, I went to the website as the watermark denotes and to my surprise, the site actually sells vintage swim suits from years gone by... [Link]

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hey Pro Swimmers: Chinese tennis star Li Na is making $42-million a year and she isn't selling just tennis rackets!

This post is for pro swimmers only. Memo to you: Forget suit manufacturers go to people like Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, Proactiv or Armani. Then throw in some car companies, insurance carriers and such. Also give these guys a call...

"... Li Na, the first Chinese player to win a major tennis title, [The French Open] is set to become the world’s second-highest earning female athlete after signing endorsement contracts worth at least US $42 million. [...]

"We could do five more endorsement deals but she just doesn’t have the time," said [Max] Eisenbud, a vice president at... IMG ... who signed Li in November 2009. “It’s incredible."


Damn straight it is incredible!

I wish you luck I want you all rich!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Diana Nyad: forced to abandon 103-mile swim from Cuba to Florida

It was a courageous effort, no doubt. Diana swam for more than 24-hours straight and appeared to be swimming a better than 2-miles-per-hour pace. That is kick ass!

I don't think that there has ever been a 60-year-old woman, or man, who has ever accomplished such a feat. I don't think I could and I am an experienced open water swimmer.

Diana was not "chasing windmills here." Like Don Quixote, she was more of an inspiration than a "crazy swimmer;" that is if you can call a 55-mile swim a failure. If anything I am more inspired by this "failed attempt" to get more healthy and chase some windmills of my own.

Here is where she ended her swim, just a little more than half way: [Link]

(CNN) -- Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad, who attempted to become the first person to swim between Cuba and Florida without a shark cage, was forced to abandon her effort early Tuesday morning -- roughly halfway through her journey.

Nyad was vomiting when she was brought aboard a boat at 12:45 a.m. Tuesday -- 29 hours after she jumped into the water Sunday.

"I am not sad. It was absolutely the right call," she said.


Monday, August 08, 2011

Two triathletes die during the swim portion of the Nautica New York City Triathlon on Sunday!

When death occurs in a triathlon, more often than not, it's always the swim portion; always!

Lap swimming is no way to train for a triathlon swim! even the New York Times says so; there, memorize that triathlete!

Clay Evans once told me this: If you are training for an open water race in the ocean and you have never swam in the ocean before and the first day you do will be on race day, it is a requirement that you be able to break 1-minute for a 100-freestyle.

I argued that my first open water race was in the ocean and that I lap swam in a pool to train. He countered that I spent 20-years surfing up and down the coast so I had plenty of ocean experience. He is right. The ocean is no lake.

I have to believe that fitness, technique, conditions, and age are a factor in these deaths though there have been swimmers who are quite fit and well practiced but have died too. I suspect those swimmers are in the minority but the ones they were trained most likely had heart pre-conditions that made them susceptible to death.

Other factors could be a blow to the head, perhaps being "dunked" in act of "revenge." Yes that happens.

Swimming is an extreme sport and I wish triathletes would sign up with Masters Swimming programs.

Here is what the New York Times had to say:

Harris’s study in The Journal of the American Medical Association recommended that triathlons screen participants more stringently to require certification in open-water swims.

“That might be hard to implement,” Harris said Monday.

But Burke said next year’s triathlon might require such a certification, as well as others.

“We might require some certification like, ‘Have you been checked by a medical professional in the last eight months?’ ” he said.


Or how about a questionnaire? Have you raced in the ocean before, what event, what was your time? Have you swam in a USMS sanctioned swim meet? What was the event and what was your time. Then stagger the swimmers accordingly.

I see an opportunity for the US Masters and they should seize on it.

The photo above was taken by Diane as ducks line up for the for the "Swim, Quack, Fly" race held every morning at Balboa Lake near my house in Los Angeles.

Diana Nyad: More than 1/3-the way to Florida!

Google and CNN are "GPSing" her while she "beasts" the strait like no one else can! You what? I think she needs to veer to the left a bit.

CNN/Google [Link]

Follow up to the "Anonymous Professional Swimmer" post!

A SCAQ teammate made a comment that inspired our "Anonymous Professional Swimmer" to comment regarding their real feelings about tech-suits. I was so impressed that I asked him to do a guest blog in which he agreed.

See his posts here: Part One: [Link] Part Two: [Link]

Today I got a letter from the same teammate who offers a brilliant recap - By the way, this gentleman is... I'll just say he is a CEO-type:

Great "get" on the pro swimmer. The law of unintended consequences at work. Big bonuses they paid for WRs caused suit makers to re-trench instead of renegotiating contracts - so now they pay no money.
It was a bad business practice on the part of the suit companies that hurt the pro swimmers; not the use of the tech-suits themselves.

Ultimately, there is a need to promote the brands but right now there is no promotion needed because there is no public interest.

Fundamental premise was to get the suits on as many swimmers with WR potential as possible but too many succeeded. Without tech suits, it is much harder to break current WRs so why wouldn't the smart company offer serious bonuses to all who wear their non-tech suits knowing the rare bird who does break a record will get huge coverage?

It gets back to the companies, they do not need a stable of swimmers to promote a brand, tech suit, or no tech suit. All the tech suit debacle showed them was they don't need the stable. So, it gets back to your view that the organization that oversees the sport needs to do a better job of providing financial opportunities for the swimmers since the commercial interests have no incentive to do so, their job is to sell stuff.

I think this dialog between both you and our pro swimmer is the most enlightening conversation I have read in the past five-years of SCAQ blogging. With college programs closing, our dominance in the the sport diminishing as witnessed by the 2011 FINA World championships: i.e. Where are our freestyle sprinters? Our distance swimmers? And one could argue as to what has happened to our breaststroke and backstroke portfolio? One now has to ask why become a professional swimmer?

If there is no economic incentive to become a swimmer, where is this sport going to end up?

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Diana Nyad is swimming from Cuba to the USA today!

103-miles or ten 10k-swims 16-plus 10k swims is what she is doing today NOW! See live map sent to us by Glenn Mills of [Link]

Though on paper it is a 103-mile swim; both sighting & current issues will add a few more miles to the swim.

If she completes it, they should build a whole new wing of the Swimmers Hall of Fame just for her for she will be untouchable as far as swimming accomplishments go; Pantheon untouchable! No swimmer has done that we know of.

To put this into a real world perspective, and I have to call it it a "real world perspective", for when you say you are going to swim 103-miles, it's like trying to explain what a light-year is to someone in the first grade. It becomes simply a abstract number with no physical meaning.

For instance: swimming one-mile in the ocean is probably impossible for 90% of the world's population so when you say you are going to swim 103-miles, what would that mean to someone if there were going to drown as soon as they set foot in the water?

So here is my real world perspective. If you are female and have mastered swimming, you will use 3.5-times more energy to swim a mile than to run a mile; for men the number is 3.75-times more energy. So, with Diana Nyad swimming 103-miles with no rest is like challenging a runner to run 350-miles without stopping or running from New York City to well passes Washington DC in Virginia. It has never been done. Not even ultra marathoner Dean Karnazes has topped 300-miles yet in a single run. I think his personal best is 262-miles.

My reference regarding the proportional effort comes from the New York Times:

The human body, it seems, simply was not meant to move quickly through water. Dr. Wainer's study found that champion runners can go about three and a half times farther than champion swimmers in the same amount of time. But in that time, the less efficient swimmers burn 25 percent more calories.


Today is the day for Diana Nyad and hopefully the record books. From MSNBC:

"... The swim has been done before, by Australian Susan Maroney in May 1997, but Nyad's claim to a world record will be that unlike Maroney, she is doing it without a shark cage in the strait's warm, shark-infested waters.

Maroney was only 22, but Nyad said her comparatively advanced age is one of the reasons she will try the swim.

"I retired when I should have, when I was young, and a couple of years ago, turning 60, I didn't want to feel old yet. I started thinking 'what if I went back, what if I went back to the elusive dream of Cuba," she said at a news conference at Marina Hemingway, where she will begin her record attempt. ..."


Though impressive, a shark cage to me provides drafting issues in my opinion.

"The Bather" a giant sculpture resting in the Binnenalster bay in Hamburg, Germany

You usually find over sized, exaggerated sculptures in locations that that feature vast landscapes such as jungles and deserts rather than moderately small cities like Hamburg. Example: the Sphinx and Egyptian gods in Egypt, the reclining or sitting Buddhas throughout Asia or even the giant "Randy's Donut" sign on Manchester Avenue in Los Angeles: [Link]

At the they have several photos of the structure with boats, kayaks and such circling the statue in awe.

From the
HAMBURG, Germany, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- A 13-foot-high, 67-foot-long sculpture of a woman bathing in an urban lake is attracting attention in Hamburg, Germany. "Die Badende" ("The Bather") will spend 10 days in Hamburg's Inner Alster Lake, CNN reported Friday. Full Article at United Press International

Images at Daily Life: [Link]

Saturday, August 06, 2011

New York Times: As Lochte Raises His Profile, Image Makers Dive Right In

Awesome, Ryan Lochte finally has mentors that will groom him into being a professional. Let's hope he's a huge breakout success. Could Ryan Lochte become the richest swimmer ever?

From the New York Times by Karen Crouse:

Wright’s husband, Tony, is a longtime music manager who has worked with the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and ’N Sync. Wright, a lawyer, says she sees in Lochte the same ineffable aura that helped make Justin Timberlake a household name.

“I know absolutely nothing about swimming,” Wright said, “but what I could tell from the first time I met Ryan is he’s marketable. He has such an ability to reach people, to touch people, to get into people’s hearts because of his nature.”


Kudos to Mark Savage who was the first photographer to photograph Ryan Lochte's "kryptonite" tennis shoes at Pan Pacs last year.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Vintage Swimsuit ad Friday: A swanky mens swimsuit designed to conceal the male bellybutton!

The 1950's must have been a metrosexual dreamscape. Men wore suits, watches, got their haircut every two weeks, drank martinis, and wore swimsuits that covered their bellybuttons.

As sloppy and as boorish as most men are today, men have evolved greatly in their attitudes towards race, women in the work place, participation with their children and finally exposing our bellybuttons.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

RUSSELL PAYNE glad tech-suits are gone - TONY AUSTIN is not!

Though I still want tech suits back in the picture, the argument that they helped professional swimmers economically is now in dispute and this is something I am currently evaluating.

Russel Payne comments at the recent "Anonymous blog post" by a professional swimmer; (which is getting lots of attention), in regards to tech suits and the economics therein. Though I disagree, I like good writing.

Russel Payne on Tech suits:
Once word got out that FINA, led by USA Swimming, was looking at a ban on rubber suits, all sponsorship opportunities for someone like myself went suddenly cold; no company could afford to go out on a limb until everything shook out. This for me happened while I was in the midst of trying to negotiate a deal. Swimmers much more highly ranked than myself were now looking for full time jobs outside the pool to pay for their training.

Everyone reading this knows what happened: Suit tech was pushed back 5 years. People were predicting that more and more apparel companies would leave the sport altogether when they could no longer charge upwards of $600 for a suit. This did not happen. The big companies now charge almost as much for a knee-length, textile jammer than they did for a full-body, rubberized and paneled suit. Nobody is arguing that the jammers cost just as much to produce, the companies need to recoup some losses and they now know that people will pay what they must to be competitive. ...


Part Two: A professional swimmer "schools us" on tech suits, the economics therein, and the exploitation they all endure.

The blog post below was sent to me anonymously by a professional swimmer who prefers to remain completely anonymous for obvious reasons. When you read their perspective regarding tech suits, apparel companies, and finally: USA Swimming, you will be reading a pure insider view on how business is done. Part One can be read here: [Link]

In part-two our anonymous professional swimmer; (and this person is are our anonymous professional since he wears our flag), states how apparel companies are now grinding swimmers for lower-and-lower wages. USA swimming appears to notice this and has stepped up albeit in an anemic way.

Does he suggest that when the money leaves, so will the swimmers?

The argument that without tech suits there are less sponsorships is only part correct. Yes, there are less total "sponsorships" because they’re giving away less suits. But even with the legal sale of the tech suit, there were less total dollars in the proverbial “pool” for professional athletes. A higher number of athletes having contracts that will pay them only if they set a world record is not more conducive to the health of the sport than a smaller number knowing they can actually afford to continue swimming. As a professional athlete I can assure you, and I have had this conversation with many other pro’s, it is not a comfortable position to be in when you know you have to make the next big team or you can’t make your rent. This isn’t the NFL or NBA where you can have one off year and still have support behind you. Instead, the tech suit era ushered in an era where your performance of today is all that matters. It’s not healthy. I’ve talked with agents who can’t get their gold medalist clients even $5,000 a year in base salary anymore. I’ve talked to agents who said a living wage salary doesn’t exist anymore with apparel companies unless you’re one of the “Big Five” swimmers.

The one market that has been affected according to the marketing manager at my apparel company, is Masters swimmers. According to this person the Masters market is full of people who enjoy swimming faster by any means necessary. “They don’t mind paying for speed,” I was told referring to the tech suits. And I think that’s fine. But the Masters market isn’t a very large percentage of the apparel market, and manufacturers aren’t hurting due to this change.

Tech suits were a horrible thing to happen to the economics of swimming. It did provide a small period of time that was very active and very conducive to presenting the sport to a wider audience thanks to world records, and I’m not saying I didn’t benefit from this too because I did, but now that it’s over, it was without a doubt a black mark in swimming. I would rather have five years of guaranteed support in my career from my apparel company rather than one good year and when my contract came to be renewed hear, “You did great for us! We really want to re-sign you. We’ll give you a bonus-only contract.” Now being yourself is a business, and that’s not a comfortable place to be.

Thankfully USA Swimming is stepping up, but it’s just not enough to create a healthy market for professional swimmers.

It is time to talk about this! Less money in an industry usually means less participation. Tennis lessons may start to look more attractive to parents than swimming. No other athlete spends as much time training as a swimmer does. Swimming 10,000-meters a day is like a running a complete marathon-a-day for years on end.

After reading this rundown; (or perhaps we should call it the "lowdown?"), the economics of it all becomes painfully obvious that an employee at Wall Mart, who works all day for minimum wage, apparently is making more money than some or most gold medal swimmers.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Part One: A professional swimmer "schools us" on tech suits, the economics therein, and the exploitation they all endure.

The blog post below was sent to me anonymously by a professional swimmer who prefers to remain completely anonymous for obvious reasons. When you read their perspective regarding tech suits, apparel companies and USA Swimming, you will be reading a pure insider view on how business is done.

I do not know who this swimmer is for we set a process so that I could guarantee their anonymity. We did so by having this person post anon to a buried post within this blog which prevents me from knowing their name, their IP address, or what city or state they live in. I do not even know their gender but I do know they write very well and have included details that only a pro swimmer would know.

This article makes me want to step back and rethink a lot of opinions. Hope you enjoy it and I thank this person profoundly for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and educational article for us. :-D


There has been a lot of talk since the “super suits” were banned about how that was the wrong move and how the suits were, in some opinions, the best thing to happen to swimming. As a professional athlete, I profoundly disagree. And from my insider perspective, I know even apparel companies don’t agree.

On the financial side, I have been told by people inside my sponsored apparel company that they are not financially much different off than they were during the super suit era. All of the companies spent tens of thousands of dollars giving away suits because they knew anyone at the elite level was capable of breaking a world record and they wanted their suit to be on it. I know for a fact certain people at apparel companies kept a close eye on the Swimnews world record tracker where they kept a tally of records in different suits. But back to finances, after the super suit era, companies are still charging large amounts for the best suits they can still make. Upwards of $300-400 instead of $500, yes, but they are also giving away significantly fewer. These don’t zero out, but from what I’m told, they are not hurting.

What the super suit era did was, yes, bring excitement to swimming from an outside fans perspective because they like seeing world records. The flaw in this opinion is that it’s sustainable. In time, we would still get to the point with super suits as we were before, when world records didn’t fall all the time. Where they were actually hard to break. What then? From that point the only thing left to do would be to add fins. And even after that, we’re going to run short on world records after a few years. If world records are limited by equipment, why add the equipment? Why not let the athletes do what they can naturally and make that the benchmark? Sport is, after all, about human achievement and it shouldn’t be about technology outside of “sports” like NASCAR, Bobsled, etc. where the equipment is as much the athlete as the driver.

But most unfortunate about the tech suit era is what it did to the sponsorship climate for athletes. I have been with the same company for awhile, so I have a good relationship with people in the industry. I watched during those years that many athletes were forced to sign with companies not for a base salary—where they could pay their rent, for food, insurance—but instead for suits. Many times I heard, “Sign with us and you won’t have to pay $500 every race for a new suit.” Whereas this athlete might have previously made a modest income to help support his training, now he was signing his image away for tech suits just to try and be level with his competition.

There was also a lot of debate about how the suits affected certain people. There are proponents who claim the suits help everyone, so why not use them? But just by looking at world rankings we know there are many, many people who were good swimmers before the suits, became great swimmers with the suits, and are back to being good swimmers. Body types affected the tech suits a lot and I have sat in on at least one conversation that was strictly about what athletes the company thought would get the most benefit, and in this conversation this exact phrase was uttered: “We can sign her, but we’re f***ed if the suits get banned. She can’t swim worth a s*** without them.”

And while all of this was happening, the marketplace changed. Companies were no longer paying base salaries to athlete’s who renewed their contracts, but instead offered very small base—guaranteed income that an athlete can use to focus on their training and success—and instead turned everything to bonuses. They did this because they knew there were so many athletes who could gain so much from wearing a tech suit, that the odds simply put their veteran sponsored athlete at enough of a disadvantage they weren’t worth committing any money to. Now we are past the tech suit era, but apparel companies are sticking with their bonus-oriented compensation package anyway, and athletes are suffering. It isn’t because the suits don’t sell for as much, it’s because they took advantage of a market disposition and now they can. [...]

Part Two tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A professional swimmer will "school" me on tech suits, apparel companies, and USA Swimming!

It all started out so simply: I was shooting my mouth off like I usually do after I read an article in Swimming World which threw around the term "textile best" as if it were a FINA standard issue record. The post is located here: "Since when did FINA establish something called a textile best?"

In the comments section I received a quick, well written, comment telling me I was patently wrong. Here is what was said:
Anonymous said:

I enjoy your blog, but as a professional swimmer, I can assure you tech suits were not the best thing to happen to us. My contract, and several others, were actually cut from our apparel company thanks to the amount of world record bonuses they were paying out to their American and worldwide athletes. It is much more stable for the "athletic economy" if 100 athletes can have apparel deals with base salaries rather than 10 making a killing on bonuses and the rest of us getting cut because they claim they can't afford us. If you ask any sports agent now they'll tell you that thanks to the tech suit debacle, most contracts are now geared toward bonuses rather than base, and that's not comfortable for athletes nor sustainable for very many.

Yes, I was impressed. I asked if this person if they could do a guest blog so as to truly educate all of us. I then stated that I could guarantee their anonymity if this person posted their article anonymously in the comments section to a long forgotten blog post I wrote. This person agreed.

I guaranteed their anonymity whereas even I do not know who they are. Consequently, I have no record of an email address, an IP address, a service provider, or even a city, or a state but when I read what they had to say, it is obvious that they are an insider.

When you read their perspective it is a pure insider view on how business is done with professional swimmers and tomorrow is part-one!

Monday, August 01, 2011

£269-million worth of pool - The 'Guardian UK' 2012 London Aquatics Pool Review

The Guardian UK gives the specifics for the London 2012 Aquatics Center. Underwater windows will allow cameras to really photograph the nuances each swimmer's stroke:

"... apparently. One of the most gorgeous spaces turned out to be the underwater view of the pool seen through the windows provided for TV cameras. It looks like an art installation. ..."


Then there is more here:

I am sure that the Aquatic Centre could have been built more cheaply and easily, and without its crashes of permanent and temporary. It is a building that will be at its best after the games, when the flippers have been replaced by the great glass walls, although it will then face a new risk of being too grand for a public pool. The wavy roof risks being too small for the Olympics and too big for its afterlife. It can only be hoped that, whatever plans are made for its future upkeep, they are equal to the ambitions of the structure.


Memo to USA Swimming: You fielded a great team at the '2011 FINA World Championships of Swimming" but there are some red flags!

UPDATE: Wrote this in a hurry - fixed some of the grammar and typos

I will be laconic and get straight to the point:
  1. Open water safety policies have got to be codified by you and not FINA!
  2. Colleges swim programs are shutting down - or there goes your "R&D Division"
  3. The world has caught up, quit running on momentum
SCAQ Blog suggestions, and readers are welcome to contribute. Colorado Springs reads this blog and I have evidence to prove it. Even the USOC reads this blog from time to time so please offers your suggestions. Your suggestions will be better than mine I am quite sure:

Open water policies:

I see something oxymoronic about the fact that you can only advise swimmers not to compete in an open water swim but then have a right to pull them out of the water against their will. I find it hard to believe that is the rule which many readers insist is true though a lawyer I spoke with is doubtful.

More people have died in open water swimming events that in any UFC/MMA cage fight combined. Get a policy together that protects USA Swimmers and don't leave it up to FINA. Seriously! Lives are at stake.

College Programs:

Which is emptying out quicker: Detroit or NCAA mens college swimming programs? (I'll take college programs for $100, Alex.)

You should be making alliances with the NCAA or offering up state college scholarships for those kids that win a medal at Junior Olympics a "Junior Nationals." If you are completely ineffectual in keeping college programs open via the NCAA, then it is time to offer the scholarship programs yourself. I would donate to that for sure.

The World Has Caught Up:

You appear to be running on momentum. Stop that! why is it that best the sprinters in the world come her to learn and then hand us our asses in competition? I suspect "Ivory-Tower-like," centralized coaching and not enough people talking to one another and sharing.

Bousquet and Cielo went to Auburn, shouldn't that coach be a paid consultant in some form from time-to-time?

We have weaknesses in backstroke and breaststroke: What are you going to do about it - where is the technology?