Monday, May 14, 2012

Boston Herald: "...Phelps has found his fire in the pool again" - SCAQ Blog: No he hasn't

First off, congratulations to Ricky Berens who beat both Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the 200-free. The outside press who don't cover swimming as often as we would like were not so fair to Ricky Berens' accomplishment. One headline I read: "Phelps beats Ryan Lochte in the 200-free", and then the subhead which did not appear on my newsreader read "...but Ricky Berens beat them both."

Ricky Berens beat them both - Congratualtions. You rocked it!

Back on topic: Has Phelps found his fire in the pool again? No, he hasn't. The fire extinguished four years ago once the 2008 Olympic flame extinguished. If he had "found his fire" again he would would not be so gleeful when discussing the subject of his retirement coming up fast this September.

No, if he had his "fire" back he would be talking about reconsidering or speaking about how he will miss it but we are not hearing that sort of rhetoric. We are hearing: "I HATE MY JOB and I want my gold watch, damn it."

His performance over the weekend when compared to the lead-up performances in 2007 do not even compare. Note, his results have nothing to do with his "swimming through the meet" this past weekend or "training hard." Missing or jamming a turn at the 150-mark of the 200-free because of a "odd bulkhead" is a sloppy thing to do as a professional. Ricky Berens had the same bulkhead as Phelps to deal with.

From the Boston Herald:
"... A goading Lochte said recently that Phelps "would be dumb" not to swim the 400 individual medley in London. But neither Phelps nor Bowman has publicly taken the bait.

"It wasn’t fun," Phelps said of the defeats. "But I put myself in that spot, the spot to not swim the times I want. He was just kinda rolling over me. It wasn’t fun to be on that end, and it became something very motivating for me. ..."

His lack of motivation has HUGE consequences for both USA Swimming and FINA and they both know it. When Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps leave this sport there will be an enormous, economic, vacuum for there will be no "two-dogs and one-bone" plot. There will be no more greatest athlete ever to root for. This will be a huge problem. For instance, was USA Swimming Nationals on TV last year? No it wasn't for Lochte and Phelps did not swim it and that is how bad it will be when he leaves.

Within FINA's Ivory tower plans are being made to transition to a world without Michael Phelps and RyaN Lochte. The sun is rising in Asia and it's time for new world records to reinvigorate the sport. I predict techsuits will return from their temporary exile which will get boys interested in swimming and Masters Swimmers will again be dreaming of setting new records.


coacherik said...

Didn't realize you had a direct line into Phelps' brain and how he should or should not behave if the fire is back? Who are we to tell Phelps how to be fired up? People aren't allowed to change their mind set or in his case, grow as a person and be more relaxed and comfortable with who he is and where he is in his career? And no, I am not a crazy "Phelp Phan"...

Lastly, you have a crystal ball that allows you to see into the future that no USA Swimming member will be the shoes in certain aspects as the face of the team? Though we may never see someone like Phelps or Lochte again in terms of the multitude of events, USA swimming doesn't need that. A new face, new personality and new dominant athlete will rise from the Age Group ranks.

Remember when all the naysayers ranted on about how records would remain forever without the suits? I remember, and here we are with male sprinters bearing down on the 100, women in the 200 back, the men's mile being taken out as well as the 200IM. Rio is over 4 years away, don't be so quick to declare that the sky is falling.

Oh and congrats to the winner, Ricky Berens, for putting up a great swim.

-Erik Wiken

Tony Austin said...

I see contradictions in someone who says that they have a fire in their heart for the the sport and then enthusiastically state how they are looking forward to retirement a mere 3-months away.

I see a sport that was not televised when Lochte, Coughlin and Michael Phelps did not attend USA Nationals last year.

When Beijing was 8-years a way a 15-year-old Michael Phelps attended the Sydney Olympics. When London was 4-years away, Michael Phelps was indeed the Michael Jordan of Swimming. When London was four years away, we have what he is now.
In other wards it takes more than one Olympic cycle to create a "god." With college programs shuttering their doors en masse, we won't have a greatest ever from America in Rio.

As for the suits. I got word from a source within FINA some 2-years ago that techsuits were going to be reconsidered post a Phelps retirement. In fact I believe Craig Lord went nuts and began frothing from the mouth over the same news as well.

Anonymous said...

Phelps has always been a goal setter and I have no problem with him being excited over what he has planned after London.

As for London, I don't know what those goals are, so I'll withhold judgement until after.

Tony Austin said...

Steve, it was too big, had to post it for you to the comment section. Here it is.

junker23 has left a new comment on your post "Boston Herald: "...Phelps has found his fire in th...":

OK, I'm gonna preface this by saying this comment snowballed BIG TIME. Did naht think I would write something so long. But here we goes anyway!

I agree with coacherik - who can know (or should care about, for that matter) what has ever "fired up" Michael Phelps? What if his marathon streak of half a dozen years without missing a practice was not motivated by some intense inner love of swimming but instead the same as his apparent current motivation - the money/fame/whatever that comes with winning a billion gold medals at the Olympics. If so, it'd appear he's found literally the same exact "fire" he's always had. (I mean, his "major" at Michigan shows a slight a history of some dubious motivations.) You've trashed the guy for years now, mostly because he doesn't seem to appear to love the sport in the same way or for the same reasons as you. Seems petty.

You say he's not talking about reconsidering his impending retirement - that shows some resolve, no? You don't think he doesn't have some external pressures on him to keep going? Nothing wrong with keeping your word. And who's to say he won't come back? Said he'd never swim the 400 IM after Beijing, that doesn't really seem to have happened. Myself, I'd always rather see something end prematurely than go on too long. ("Seinfeld" is a good example.)

You also say "(Phelps's) lack of motivation has HUGE consequences for USA Swimming and FINA." I think you meant to say his impending retirement will have said consequences. Dude's had a fairly grueling job for what, 15+ years now? and he wants to, ya know, live his life. (Lucky for him, it happens to be the life of a multi-millionaire.) I can't find fault in his motivations there. Michael Phelps has done more to grow the sport of swimming across both the USA and the world than pretty much anyone else ever and you're finding fault with him because he doesn't want to hang on and grow it more? We're not entitled to the guy.

Oh, and because you've mentioned Summer Nationals weren't on TV last year, due to an abscence of Phelps, Lochte and Coughlin. Do you think instead it could've been because world champs were literally like, the week before? And worlds was on TV ! Just four years ago, that was a big deal. And how about Winter Nationals from December? That meet had a non-tapered Ryan Lochte and didn't have Phelps or Coughlin. Somehow, that meet ended up on TV. Will there be a bit of a lull in the sport's visibility when Phelps leaves? Of course. That's bound to happen to any sport in which the indisputable GREATEST. EVAR. retires. But hey, let's go Missy Franklin! Amateurism and a love for the sport and stuff! There's somebody that we can write some chipper blog posts about.

-Steve Nolan

Anonymous said...

Plenty have swimmers have talked about moving on after the games, why is it Phelps always gets attacked for saying what's on his mind...?

Tony Austin said...

True, Janet Evans announced her intentions to leave the sport before the 1996 Olympics I believe and several other Olympians have during the course of history as well.

I suppose my grumpiness towards Phelps was has been his attitude post 2008. i.e. The Bowman rant whereas Bowman was acting as his mouthpiece in 2009. Phelps questioning how Paul Biedermann got so fast. Qualifying his losses and something else that I will post a few months after the Olympics regarding Pan Pacs in Irvine.

Anonymous said...

Tony, you're a melodramatic drama queen. Get off of Phelps ass. He said he wants to step away from the sport competitively and help grow it from outside of the pool. After he retires ppl aren't going to remember that he struggled with his motivation post beijing, but remember how he didn't take a day off in 6 years in order to reach his goals and become the GOAT. Geez the man's not perfect, but no one else has achieve so much in this sport. Swimming consumed his life for 20 years, of course the man wants to move on and live life outside of the pool.

He struggled with his motivation since Beijing. SO WHAT? Why hate on him for that, you think that going to help him or motivate him? No it just makes you a judgmental ASS. Maybe he should have walked away after Beijing, but he was confused. Maybe in that movement in 2009 he thought he could do this and stick with it. But in the end it turned out he was caught in the middle of two opposing desires, 1 to keep swimming and the other to move on. Everyone gets confused at times in their life, he's human! Don't tell me you've stuck with every decision you ever made 100%. People want to judge Michael against the man he use to be, well guess what he did what he achieved what he set out to do and can never be that same man again because he's already accomplished those goals. What did you want him to do, challenge himself to go for 9!? If you want to judge him against Lochte that's even stupider, Phelps dedicated his life to the sport far before Lochte decided to get his act together because he decided he was tired of losing.

Tony Austin said...

Phelps is the greatest male swimmer ever to grace this planet but he is not greatest athlete of all time. Let's leave that for another discussion.

Phelps hard work was both inspiring and fit the definition of the word industrious quite well.

I don't fault Phelps for wanting to quit. I fault him for the excuses he makes when he loses such as stating how he "isn't in shape" or could have caught Ricky Berens if the pool did not have a "odd bulkhead." That he has rediscovered his love for the sport again after vocalizing to ESPN regarding how much he hates the water; (see my most recent ESPN link).

I find this to big a big, scarlet, flag warning parents not to put their kids in a swim program of any kind and especially far away from Bob Bowman.

In months to come, Bowman will speak out because he will have too. He will have to explain what happened to his industrious prodigy, why the hostility his prodigy had towards working out some two-to-three years post Beijing, Then he will have to explain why parents should send their children to both his and Michael Phelps' swim school.

Michael Phelps has nothing to prove, but I suspect his sponsor, Speedo, is not very pleased that Michael Phelps can't wait to donate his swimsuits for a Salvation Army pick-up and never put one on again.

junker23 said...

Aww, bummer it was too long. Had some good links thrown in there! Thanks for still posting it though, I do appreciate it. And even though I'm always defending Phelps around here, I'm right with you on the lameness of his excuses over the last couple of years. (I just don't think it's reason to basically crucify the guy.)

And no need to post this or anything, more of an email than a blog comment.