Friday, January 27, 2012

Sports Agents vote: Who will be the 2012 Summer Olympics "Lindsay Vonn"?

What totally took me by surprise was that Ryan Lochte was not even in the top three; he came in fourth behind Missy Franklin.

From the Washington Post:
"... “It’s an intriguing story,” Wallechinsky said of the Phelps-Lochte drama that could develop. “But trying to sell a U.S. versus U.S. rivalry, where the characters don’t really hate each other, sometimes that’s a little rough. It pains me when, sometimes, you see media pitching a rivalry between two athletes who are actually friends, just for the sake of creating a rivalry.” ..."
Now consider this possibility: What if Phelps races Lochte in two events and beats him? Phelps essentially refuses to leave the pool a defeated champion and Ryan settles for a place within his tall shadow. Subsequently, Phelps can pretend he may swim in Brazil in 2016 and still collect a paycheck. Lochte will be relegated as being the "Matt Biondi" of the sport. A great athlete who was  much appreciated but not really known outside swimming circles.

What if Phelps doesn't race him at all? What if Phelps is content to just swim the 100-and-200 'fly and the IM relays? Four-gold medals easy! Olympic winning streak continues and Phelps is the de facto champion of the Olympics for the next 100-years-or-so. Who will ever be able to score 12-gold 14-gold medals [plus new ones in London if all goes well] in an Olympic career?

For Lochte to be the face of the Olympics he will have to either beat Phelps in more than one event or win no less than seven gold medals.

That's my opinion but i suspect Missy Franklin will steal the show.

A spectacular 50-meter pool in Hong Kong!

Though a bit garish for my taste this Kennedy Town swimming pool in Hong Kong is quite ambitious and quite a landmark. Obviously swimming is taken quite seriously in the east.

The western world should take notice that while our skylines are seemingly stagnant those in the east are surpassing ours in both style and functionality. There are 21 public pools in Hong Kong and Hong Kong is smaller than Los Angeles county California.

For more incredible photos of the pool, go here to [Link]

Monday, January 23, 2012

Time lapse photography of the 'London Aquatics Centre' moving from nothing to something!

The London Aquatics Center is practically finished. This is a beautiful facility and the surrounding environment will be just as aesthetic.

Here is a link to a time lapse video of the Aquatics center being built: [Link]

Here is a link to the London Aquatics Center webcam or just come back to this post: [Link]

Friday, January 20, 2012

Interview with best selling novelist and open water swimmer: Matt Bondurant

Matt Bounurant has a new novel out called The Night Swimmer; a beautiful work of Gothic fiction that can be sampled here at Amazon or here at the blog in a previous post: [Link]

Matt exchanged emails with me and we spoke directly about open water swimming.

SCAQ: You have written a new book that has an open water element to it; an island eight miles off the south coast of Ireland called Cape Clear. After doing a Google search on the island, this place is no stranger vicarious swimming. Can you describe what it is like swimming out there: The water temp, the conditions, and especially the tides?

MATT: The waters around Cape Clear and that part of Ireland are some of the most dangerous in the world. It is a veritable ship graveyard out there. The weather is notoriously bad, quick to change, and generally rough all the time. I wanted to try and do a swim from Cape Clear out to the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse (6 mile round trip) which has never been done before, but after consulting local swimmers and others I determined that the chances of getting decent weather would require me spending the whole summer there. The water temp is generally consistent, from the gulf stream effect, usually around 64, dipping lower in the winter. There is a lot of marine life: seals, puffins, sharks, whales, including Killer Whales. The south bay of Cape Clear is a protected harbor with glorious calm (relatively) water, excellent visibility (maybe 20 feet), a beautiful green color, loads of fish, bottom weeds, starfish, etc. It is a very intense place to swim. The is what immediately drew me to this place as a setting for a novel, and it is what compels the narrator of The Night Swimmer, a young woman named Elly.

SCAQ: You placed 2nd in the Beginish Island 4-Mile open water race in Ireland. That is not an easy swim. How did you train for it, what was your strategy and why that race for it is definitely not an easy one?

MATT: Because The Night Swimmer is set in Ireland, with the narrator doing most of her swims off the coast, it seemed natural that I would need some experience in that water, doing that kind of distance.  I have a long history with competitive swimming, and I’d done a variety of triathlons over the last ten years, but I really hadn’t done anything like that distance or in those conditions.  So I just signed up and figured I’d have to deal with it when I got there.

As for training I did a couple warm up swims, including a 5K in Florida – which of course was very different conditions, 80 degree water, 102 air temperature, full sun, I almost got heatstroke – and a few shorter things, just to get a sense of doing some open water distance.  I was swimming at least two sessions a week with a Masters team here in Dallas (Dallas JCC) and then doing at least 2-3 other cardio sessions, usually running or elliptical in the gym along with some weights.  I spent my whole young life looking at the bottom of a pool (as I’m sure many of your readers did) and after I quit my college team I vowed I would never do that many hours in the pool again.  So maybe 3 swim training sessions, perhaps 4K each, is about all I’ll do these days.  I rely on my running and other cardio to make up the gap, and I find that the cross-training method really works well and I don’t get bored or burned out.

My strategy for the Beginish Island race was essentially the same as it is for most of my races: go out fast, die, and then struggle in to the finish.  I was a sprinter in my competitive days, and I am unable to do much in the way of pacing myself.  I always want to go as fast as I can, and I want to try and win.  We were put into waves based on our seed times, and as I just made my time up (I think I said 2 hours) because I’d never done 4 miles in the North Atlantic before, I was put into the very first, or slowest heat.  The water temp was about 62-64, which is pretty damn cold, so when they said go I took off and didn’t look back for a while.  I got way out in front and basically didn’t see another swimmer for the whole race.  There was a long talk before the race about the route and certain reefs, rocks, buoys, currents, and other obstacles, but to be honest that was all forgotten and I was just keeping the island on my left at a reasonable distance and slogging it out.  The western side of the island was horrendous, big swells, spray, currents.  I was swimming up on side of the swells and at the crest I would come out of the water and smack down the other side.  Once my goggles were actually knocked off my face.  Every once in a while I saw a safety boat or kayak but really I had no idea what I was doing or where I was.  The last quarter mile was a real struggle.  I actually stopped and floated on my back for a few minutes, contemplating vomiting or quitting.  But I am a vain creature so I gutted it out to the beach and when they said I was the first swimmer in I couldn’t believe it.  I finished in 1:34, a full half-hour faster than my seed time.  They also told me a seal followed me right at my toes for the last several hundred yards, which is wild.  I guess I’m glad I didn’t know it at the time.

SCAQ: That is so cool! What inspired this work of modern Gothic fiction if I may call it that?

MATT: The book is inspired by Richard Yates’ great novel Revolutionary Road, the short stories and journals of the American writer John Cheever, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  All of these works play a large role in the story.

SCAQ: What was your first open water ocean experience and where?

Like many people my family always went to the beach in the summer.  I’m from Virginia so we went to Virginia Beach, or Ocean City or Rehoboth Beach in Maryland and Delaware.  I always loved the ocean.  I went to graduate school to Florida State in large part because it is about 45 min away from some world-class beaches.  I did a lot of surfing, bodyboarding, bodysurfing, anything in the water.

SCAQ: What is your race day meal, ritual, or process?

MATT: When I did the Beginish Island Swim in Ireland I got up and ate a full Irish breakfast, which is as you likely know a giant plate with fried eggs, three kinds of meat, beans, toast.  Probably not a good idea.  When I did The Around the Rock Alcatraz race last summer I was more conservative, eating a banana and a power bar.  Lots of water and hydrating sports drinks.  I don’t warm up.  Never really did, and I like to save my strength.  I was successful as a sprinter in my youth because I can get my heart rate up very fast.  I figure in a race that is longer than a few minutes I have plenty of time to warm up.  I’m also – unlike my narrator Elly – not very fond of cold water, so I don’t get into it before I have to.

SCAQ: Thank you very much, Matt, thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Novelist, Matt Bondurant, who 'Outside Magazine' has compared to WIlliam Faulkner has entered the SCAQ blog!

In the SCAQ Blog vernacular, "Matt Bondurant writes like a boss and he swims like a boss too!"

Matt Bondurant has been compared to several literary giants such as William Faulkner, 
Cormac McCarthy and others. Also of note, one of his novels, The Wettest Country, is being made into a major motion picture staring my favorite English actor, Tom Hardy, (Inception, Layer Cake.)

His open water resumé is just as stellar: Here is a guy that placed 2nd in the Beginish Island 4-Mile open water race in
 Ireland working out just three days a week.Tides in Ireland are not like the tides in California. When the tide goes out, you are 1/4-mile from where you started.

I am going to interview Matt and post his answers in the next day or so but best of all he let me reprint a excerpt from his new novel, THE NIGHT SWIMMER. You can get here at Amazon; (Note: I get no commission or royalty as is my policy and I was not paid or compensated in anyway to post my kind feelings toward this book.)

This work of Gothic fiction looks very
 promising and after reading this excerpt, I am going to tear into it this weekend.

Here we go, hope you enjoy

     The BBC shipping report was clear that Friday morning. I ate a double breakfast of fried eggs and sausages washed down with a carafe of Eileen’s bitter coffee. I thought of my husband snoring through a hangover in a pile of blankets back on the mainland, his jug of filtered water and aspirin on the nightstand. The wind whistled thinly through the muslin curtains and my skin began to hum. I missed Fred. In my room I snapped on my solid orange tank suit then my jeans and sweater. Then in the kitchen I mixed up a protein shake in a squirt bottle and a thermos of chicken soup for O’Boyle to feed to me in the water. Eileen watched me curiously as she rucked the dishes and made tea for her husband reading the paper, the parlor fire crackling with fresh peat.

Out for a trek again, I said to her.
Ah, Eileen said, well enjoy it then.

Dinny’s boat was tied up at the quay, the motor running, the two of them sitting on the steps drinking tea out of large clamshells. Dinny’s boat was a short fishing trawler of the kind you see rotting in boatyards and harbors all around Ireland, chipped red and white paint, a short cabin to shelter in for sudden blows, a flat transom good for hauling up nets and traps.

What say we call it off, O’Boyle said. Instead go back to my caravan and have a few cans?
No way, I said. We have good weather.

The day was chilled and grey, but the seas running only a foot in the harbor, and the reports called for a calm, slightly overcast day, winds mostly westerly, which meant I would be fighting a headwind on the way out, but would be pushed in on the way back. O’Boyle poured some tea in a shell and held it out to me.

In honor of your voyage, he said. A shell for the maiden of the sea.

I drank a bit, it was gritty and sour, but tasty. I finished it off then drank from my water jug, loading up on fluids. When I disrobed O’Boyle turned away and shuffled the nautical charts but Dinny sat on the wooden stool that served as the captain’s chair and watched me, smoking a hand rolled cigarette, his face composed and serious. He tapped the ash on the deck, the white stubs of his fingers like grubs. His watch cap was cock-eyed and you could see the mottled remains of his ear, now just a swirl of scar tissue. He didn’t miss a bit of my preparations and I suppose it is possible that Dinny hadn’t seen a real woman this close to naked before.

I put on latex gloves and slathered myself with lanolin, getting it extra thick in my underarms and neck area where the chafing was worst, with a healthy dose between my legs. In the open ocean the sea-lice would try to burrow into your warm parts, and heavy lubricants kept them from attaching. I slipped on a “hothead” insulator cap and then a latex cap over that. Most people who drown on long ocean swims, such as the English Channel, die of hypothermia because their brain temperature drops. They feel fine; their mind is telling them they are okay, there isn’t much pain, and so they stay in the water until their body shuts down and they go under. I knew that my arms and legs would go numb as the blood retreated into my chest, but if I kept my head warm I would be less likely to suffer such dangerous delusions. It would take a lot longer for me to become hypothermic than most people, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t happen. There is a reason why far more people have reached the summit of Everest than have swam the English Channel. A dying mind is a strong magician, especially in the water. When I swam I paid attention, I listened to my body.

I hit my wristwatch chrono and dove into the harbor. O’Boyle and Dinny would lead the way, staying a bit off to my left so that I could see them in my normal left-side breathing pattern and so that I wouldn’t spend the whole swim eating diesel fumes.

I stroked out while Dinny drew the boat up ahead of me in position. At the harbor mouth I stopped for a moment and fixed Fastnet in my sightline. The sky over the lighthouse hung low with cirrus clouds, swirling like a river, heavy with rain. The swells were perhaps up to two feet and I could feel the gentle tug of the northern current. The water was cold enough that I would need to keep moving, so I motioned the boat on and started stroking, going into a five stroke breathing pattern, stretching it out and rolling my shoulders.

As I swam away from the island the water moved from soft jade to forest green. A quarter mile out of the harbor the visibility was shot, the water murky black speckled with particle matter, krill, and the occasional drifting wrack or other seaweed, solitary circular jellyfish doing their slow convulsions. I did the first mile in twenty minutes, which was a bit quick but I felt strong. I hit a few heavy patches of floating weed and at one point I had to climb up and crawl over the stuff, my body out of the water, shuffling along on my elbows and knees. On the boat O’Boyle was sitting in a folding chair drinking a can of beer. Dinny had a transistor radio tuned into a mainland pop station and the baleful anthems of Robbie Williams floated across the water, alternating with the crackling of the sea and the rushing sound of my own body.

When I reached the mile and a half mark I knew something was wrong. A warmth in the pit of my stomach, intestinal churning, and at first I thought I may have to endure the humiliation of an open-ocean defecation with O’Boyle and Dinny circling nearby. I wasn’t fatigued but my arms felt wooden and disconnected, and I started loosing my stroke count and my breathing became lopsided. I looked at my hands and they were still fleshy and pink. Flaming red meant the body was struggling to fight the cold, and white meant numbness and real danger. The lighthouse didn’t look any closer but that was a common optical illusion for open water swimming. The weather was good, the water conditions decent, I knew I wouldn’t get many chances. There was a gentle tug that pulled through the center of me, a subtle current that kept my arms moving, my eyes on Fastnet. I just had to keep going.

I passed into the second mile and over the deepest part of my swim and my visual perspective was shot. Occasional specks moved and darted in a way that suggested they were alive, but I had no way of knowing how close they were. My hands entered in front of my face like desperate white fish springing into the darkness. Despite this I knew the floor of ocean was dropping away, the spaces opening up, I felt it in my skin, in my heart. It even seemed like I could see that depth. It was a glorious feeling. I felt absurd, like a spider crawling across the back of an elephant.

The boat was still up ahead, though a bit too far away and fading to the left, the diesel engine chugging softly. O’Boyle and Dinny had their backs to me, looking over the other side, leaning over the gunwale, pointing at something in water. The boat continued on, now heading southerly, away from Fastnet. I couldn’t fathom what they could be looking at in the water, but to see them in that crappy little boat, bobbing on the sea, slowly tailing off to the south as the wheel spun freely, suddenly struck me as extremely poignant and sad. I clutched my knees and let myself float, head back, rising and falling with the swells.

After some time I opened my eyes and discovered I was closer to the lighthouse; the surf was pounding on the rocks and etched stone blocks of Fastnet, maybe a half-mile off. I figured I would just go on without O’Boyle and Dinny, get to the lighthouse and back on my own. The nausea was gone, and rather than fatigued I felt explosive and strong, and I powered up and over the swells. I felt like I was flying out of the water, my body rising, the fierce winds whisking under my belly and legs.

The sky and sea grew darker, the clouds roiling in formations over Fastnet, the beacon shining like an opening eye. The lighthouse, now the height of my forearm in front of me, seemed to move; the light wasn’t rotating anymore, rather the sea and all of its contents, including me, was rotating around it, as if the lighthouse was some kind of pivot around which the world turned. I spun around but the boat was nowhere in sight. I checked my watch and found that another hour had gone by, which was impossible. A sudden feeling of vertigo struck me, like I was standing at the edge of a great height, and when I looked down into the water I saw streams of light erupting from the bottom of the sea, like long strands of golden seaweed, thousands of feet down, pulsing with energy, winding their way up around my feet. I hung face down in the water like a limp marionette, watching. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

Then I began to gag, and when I lifted my head I vomited a heavy gush of fluid which spread around me on the water like a golden moat. I was treading in a sparkling stew of light and shadow, wavering forms wending their way around me legs like ribbons of fluorescent life. This was when I became afraid. ...

Here is a link to Mat's personal site: [Link]

Friday, January 13, 2012

Trailer for the new movie "Shark Song" - Tagline: "Jaws met the opera!"

Daniel sent me this: "...this seemed perfect for folks interested in open water swimming but who may be a bit intimidated by the sea-life..."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bryan Woodward, Once listed as a 'Gator Swim Club' head caoach was arrested for solicitation of a minor.

Bryan Woodward was arrested for solicitation of a minor in a federal sting operation. His photo and any reference of being affiliated with the club has now been removed. All that is left is a Google cached page listing his accomplishments.

From the Google cached site:
"Bryan takes over the helm of Gator Swim Club after spending a year as the program's Head Age Group Coach and Asst International Group Coach. During his first year with the club, Bryan helped Gator Swim Club finish in the top 10 at each championship level meet including a 4th place finish at the Long Course Florida Age Group Championships; the programs best finish in team history. The club was also Combined Team Champions of the Long Course Speedo Sectional Championship. ... [...]

Swimming World has more details regarding the arrest:
GAINESVILLE, Florida, January 11. BRYAN Woodward, the head coach of the Gator Swim Club, was arrested on charges of the use of a computer to solicit a child for sex and for travel to seduce a child for sex according to a source close to the situation. ...

Both the Gator Swim Club and USA Swimming are obviously going through the motions to insulate their team from potential harm.

The Gator Swim Club is quite a successful club and I am hoping that they have, or will employ a "no ONE-ON-ONE contact policy." I have written several blog posts stating that a policy like this is the best protection policy that a club or USA Swimming could implement yet it keeps getting shouted down. Words like "inconvenient" keep coming up.

If the Gator Swim Club does not have a "no ONE-ON-ONE contact policy" I hope they will consider it now and let the press and the bloggers know about it.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

John Trembley, the University of Tennessee swim coach under fire at 'Swim News'

Craig Lord of Swim News does a quasi hit piece on a coach named John Trembley, of the University of Tennessee. He was recently "relieved of duties" with no reason given. I did not bother to run the story because... there is no story yet, just some guy getting fired.

The article at Swim News goes to great lengths to play up the possibility of fraud, mayhem or something sinister and it is all sprinkled with nothing more than speculation. He discusses the resume of the detective investigating the case making him sound like a supporting actor from a imaginary TV show called "Law and Order: Tennessee Pools." 

Lord mentions how this particular detective usually investigates: "...fraud, forgery, embezzlement and other financial crimes...." Sigh, aren't most crimes financial in nature and what if this isn't a financial crime at all? Perhaps detectives in the real world actually investigate all sorts of crimes rather than specialized ones?

Somehow Craig Lord got a hold of a rumor that coach Trembley's contract has definitive rules in it that can get him fired:
"... Trembley's contract is said to define gross misconduct as "theft or dishonesty; gross insubordination; willful destruction of university property; falsification of records; acts of moral turpitude; reporting for duty under the influence of intoxicants; illegal use, manufacture, possession, distribution, or dispensing of controlled substances or alcohol; disorderly conduct; provoking a fight. ..."

If the above summation is real; which I doubt since one can get fired for any of those reasons without a contract, could it be possible that simply yelling at your boss or having either an alcohol problem or otherwise be possible cause as well?

Why does Craig Lord play up the embezzlement card? The potential for theft, falsification of records, etc. etc. without any factual evidence? Why does he even hint it?

"I don't do hit pieces often, but when I do, I post facts and links, not speculation an innuendo. Stay thirsty, my friend."

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Artist Shepard Fairey who created the Obama poster does an about face and embraces... "The Splash of Truth?"

Actually that is the visage of Guy Fox, the icon of all things anonymous which includes: the Occupy Wall Street movement, The Splash of Truth, and posters to the blog .

In 2012 I will continue to accept anonymous comments since we participate in a sport where people are punished for voicing their opinions.

to wit: I believe Steve Munatones was one of those punished when FINA removed him from open water events for voicing open water safety concerns. Don't believe me? Check this post out: [Link]

If you would like a free "We are the Hope sticker" from noted artist Shepard Fairey go here to StickerRobot: [Link]

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

This is an informal Request For Discussion (RFD) - Swim workout notation system that is understandable in every language!

[UPDATE: This post was accidentally deleted when i saved an update. I have reinstated the post and included a sample notation workout. Please look at the notation I made, critique it and make it better. - TA]

This is a formal Request For Discussion (RFD) for the creation of a swim notation system that will allow for easy translation from one coach to another, one swimmer to another, despite the disparity in language or culture.

Premise: Music has used a notation system for nearly 1,500 years thereby allowing us to play music from as far back as the 6-century BC.[1] Ballet has it it's own notation format that has allowed ballets from as far back as 1844 to be recreated.[2]

Currently, swim workouts use varying forms of notation, sometimes simply written in language form, and those more ambitious simply using math symbols. It is said that "Mathematics is the language of the universe..." hence that could be a good "starting gate" to launch our "race."

When searching for swim workouts across the web, I have found that there is no published standard as to how workouts should be notated. What this RFD should have as it's goal is a way to create a standard that is interchangeable in any language. Hence my math reference.

Some day the Smithsonian may request Bob Bowman's notes as to see what Michael Phelps swam on an average day; a standardized notation format will allow for no interpretation and provide a true interchange of knowledge.

Once these details are worked out, a Wikipedia article would be written with a glossary of terms and symbols therein; (We could also do this concurrently), and you the contributor will know that you have moved the sport forward.

Sample work out in one's native language. Header should include: Type of workout, author, date, swim club or swimmer.

Header Example:
  • Distance Free 3,650 Yards
  • Designed by Susan Suomu, altered by Tony Austin
  • 1-2-2012 Culver City Plunge
  • SCAQ swim club
Next comes the body of the workout. The workout should be listed in sections such as: Warm-up sets, transitional sets, main set warm down. topics can be added such as "drill set" and others with total individual yardage included for each section, math notations denoting the set organization and interval times

  • Warm-up: 1200-yards
  • 400 Swim
  • 4 x [2 x 75s Free + 1 x 50 Kick]
  • 75's descend by :05 seconds each round starting at 1:15
  • Kick interval @:55
Main Set:
  • Total Yardage: 2100-yards
  • 4 X 150's @ 2:00, 150 fast @ 1:45
  • 3 X 150's @ 1:55, 150 fast @ 1:45
  • 2 X 150's @ 1:50, 150 fast @ 1:45
  • 1 X 150 @ 1:45, 150 fast @ 1:45
Recovery Set: 
  • Total Yardage: 50-yards
  • 1 x 50 Swim, easy
Warm Down:

Total Yardage: 300-yards
12 x 25's Free @ :40
25s descend 1-4, 5-8, 9-12

Total Workout Yardage: 3,600

2012 Polar Bear Swims - Who let the bears out!

The snappy dressers of Milwaukee represents with a slideshow of swimmers polar bears getting busy!

From Molly Synder's blog:

"...And so when I learned Anita was going to do it again, that she was going to dive under to wash off some of 2011's pain and loss, I decided I would do it, too.

Funny thing is, Anita talked me into doing it in '06, and again in '08, but I did it again this year not because she talked me into it, but in solidarity to a true friend. So here's to new memories in 2012, Anita, and mark my words, I am never, ever doing this again. [Link]

Snappy dresser takes a bath at Coney Island too. New York Daily News has the details. [Link]

Welcome to Vancover, Now, quick, let's go home! Anybody who greets you in that sort of attire... well, it;s nature's way of saying "don't touch!"

About 1500 people came out on a five-degree and overcast afternoon to witness 355-registered swimmers take the plunge into five-degree waters at Centennial Beach. [Link]

We'll see how super they are in about .01-seconds.

Honestly, it's stupid enough to be jumping into a hole in the ice, but to do it with  bulky outfits, shoes, and some serious male compensation issues. No, that's not smart. Welcome to Wisconsin. Go see the slideshow: [Link]

Slide show and a movie of the Halifax polar bear swim at the CTV NEWS site. [Link]

This polar bear swim took place at Loony Dock., Scotland No, really! See comment section for explanation.

I must say that the polar bear swimmers at Loony Dock, Scotland are definitely the most festive. [Link]

200 polar bears invade Charlottetown Harbour, in where else, Canada! [Link]