Monday, July 25, 2011

Day Two Worlds Grades!

Day Two is in the books at the 2011 FINA World Championships, and we’ve seen some thrilling, nail-biting races. But what’s the bigger picture? Where do we stand, what do we need from Team USA, and where does this leave us heading into London 2012? We’ll grade the performers, performances, and major stories that we’ve seen through two days.

Missy Franklin: A++. The 16-year-old passed her first major international test with flying colors, swimming in the women’s 4x100 freestyle relay with a sizzling 52.99. Coming into the meet, I wrote that this meet was the most important meet for Team USA’s “Next Generation” to step up. Missy Franklin has done just that. With one relay performance, she showed poise, desire, talent, and – afterwards in the interviews – humbleness. She’s giving the women’s team the perfect “youthful spark” that they need, something that the men’s team could use in 2012.

Men’s Sprint Free Relay: C. They hadn’t lost a relay since 2007 – any relay. So we knew this day would come. But after the men finished third in the 4x100 free relay, what has boggled the minds of many is, “Why not put Ryan Lochte on the relay?” Some argue that since Ryan Lochte was the “2010 World’s Best Swimmer” he has an automatic ticket. But remember, Lochte’s specialty isn’t sprint freestyle, and Team USA has some very good sprint freestylers. Nathan Adrian. Jason Lezak. Michael Phelps. That leaves one spot open, which was battled in the preliminaries between Garrett Weber-Gale and Ryan Lochte. Weber-Gale had the “faster” split (he led-off in nearly the same time as Lochte), so he swam in finals. You can question this decision all day, but the end result is the same: Team USA wound up third, to a hungrier, more energetic, younger Australian team. Let’s hope they use this as fuel for 2012.

Decision To Hold 25K Race: D-. Several swimmers dropped out of the 25k Open Water race due to dangerous temperatures. The temperature of the water was just too hot, borderline to the maximum temperature limit set by FINA in the wake of Fran Crippen’s death last year. FINA officials decided to continue on with the race, forcing swimmers with a decision to make: To swim or not to swim? This created great anger among many coaches and swimmers alike (just read some social networking websites) and several swimmers dropped out of the race. ESPN’s Bonnie Ford tweeted: “Every int'l official who makes a decision regarding water safety should have to meet face-to-face with Pete and Pat Crippen, Fran's parents.” I don’t disagree.

Jason Dunford’s Sportsmanship: D. The big story heading into these World Championships was Cesar Cielo. Cielo failed a drug test, supposedly due to a contaminated supplement, and he was given probation instead of a suspension. Some swimmers disagreed with the decision (one that allowed Cielo to compete this week). It seems that Dunford was one of the dissenters. After Cielo won the 50m butterfly yesterday, Dunford reportedly gave a poolside “thumbs-down.” All athletes need to show class and sportsmanship. While Dunford could have been giving a thumbs-down to anything, I'm just not a fan of cap-throwing, goggle-tossing, not shaking opponent's hands -- just swim the race. If it did have something to do with Cielo, I wouldn't be surprised. 

Dana Vollmer: A-. I’m giving her a minus because she didn’t break a world record in her 100m butterfly. You might say that’s unfair. And it is. (Kidding – great swim, great potential for 2012!)

Ariana Kukors: B. Kukors, the defending world-champion, couldn’t quite hold as she was nipped at the finish of the 200m IM. She finished third by two-tenths of a second. Hopefully, this is a learning experience for Kukors, one that she will use as motivation for the big race in London. Something tells me she will be the hardest-charging swimmer into the wall next year.

Team USA, Women: B+. We’ve seen some solid performances, notably the women’s relay, Dana Vollmer, and Rebecca Soni’s semi-final 100m breaststroke. But the 400m freestyle was disappointing, and I really wish Kukors nailed that finish. Nevertheless, the women’s team has had a few surprises, like Missy Franklin, and shows great promise for more great swims the rest of the meet. But it hasn’t been spectacular – yet.

Team USA, Men: C-. What can I say? They’ve been disappointing. No surprises, no one stepping up to the plate. You know it’s not the best performance by a roster when you’re wishing for swimmers who AREN’T on the roster (Brendan Hansen, Matt Grevers) to mysteriously arrive in Shanghai and jump in a swimsuit and throw down some great races. That said, we haven’t seen the best of what the men’s team is capable of. The medley relay should be very solid, as should the IMs and 200 events. We’re just getting started here on the men’s side, so let’s hope the men’s team gets some sparks. (Who else is missing Aaron Peirsol?)


  1. The men need some young blood. David Nolan anyone. But lets not get ahead of ourselfs.. its still only day 2.. Lets come back and revisit this time tomorrow..

  2. Playing the other side of the Dunford debate here, don't you think its legitimate to speak out about this doping offense being so swiftly swept under the rug?

  3. I don't agree with the Cielo decision, I think it creates a dangerous precedent.

  4. LOL @ the Dunford comment. CAS and FINA failed big time.

    Gus, show Dunford some respect please, you say that he "reportedly" gave the "cheater" a thumbs-down. Maybe he did, but maybe not.

    Cielo FAILED a drug test, Where is his sportsmanship????

    Just asking ;)

  5. Decision to hold the OW 25K = straight up F as in FAIL.

    Re: Dunford, I think it is legitimate to speak about the decision if you disagree, but there is a time and a place. Blatant lack of good sportsmanship on the pool deck is not it. That just reeks of sour grapes that he didn't win. He could have spoken with his performance in the pool, or in interviews off the deck, or even in a refusal to compete. Mugging for the cameras was just childish and I'm surprised at some big names praising that action.

    Something else that bothered me: I love Cullen Jones as a swimmer and for what he does with Make A Splash, but didn't like that he tweeted after his disappointing 50 fly that he's just there for the 50 free. If you're unhappy with your swim, okay, say so. But if the coach puts you in an event, you swim it to win it for Team USA, IMO. You don't call it in. Nobody on the relay made the excuse that they were saving it for their later events.

  6. Here's the picture, Anon:

  7. I agree with you Robin. I don't agree with the Cielo decision, but I also don't think athletes should throw tantrums about it on the pool-deck. Discuss it, don't give childish and unsportsmanlike hand-signals. Be the bigger man. Use it as fuel to beat Cielo.

  8. I have seen the picture Gus ;)

    But are we not just guessing if the signal is to FINA, CAS, Cielo or even his own performance.

    I would LOVE to be given the chance to tell CAS/FINA what I ment, in that way. But that's just me ;)

  9. I have a problem with bad sportsmanship in any regard, Anon. Throwing caps, thumbs down, spitting into another person's lane... it's all BS. Swim your race, be a man, accept the fallbacks, shake your opponent's hand. That's just how I feel.

  10. That said, you might be right in that the thumbs-down had nothing to do with Cielo (though I think this is unlikely) I will edit accordingly.

  11. I understand you Gus, and I agree.. to a point ;)

    When you know, that you have done the best you can do to prepare for something as big as this, and you have to face a cheater, sportsmanship is not in the game anymore.

    I'm sorry, but for me swimming took a big step into #€&%@... when Cielo was allowed to swim.

    I feel sorry for the likes of Dunford that they had to face this, and I hate the fact that he now has to play the role of the bad guy.

    PS, cant get my google account to work on this proxy (I'm in Shanghai)

  12. The fact that it's debatable and nonverbal is why it was total genius. I think we all know what he meant, whether he confirms it or not.

    I would personally love to see the "thumbs down" become the universal symbol for cheating suspicion.

  13. You're in Shanghai? For the meet?

  14. Yes sir I am here for the meet.. and I have to go to bed now ;-)

    Keep up the good work guys ;)

  15. Come back tomorrow and give us updates of what it's like there!

  16. Ok, Gus. You have to let Craig Lord go to bed now.

    Ha. Just kidding. Maybe.

  17. the tumbs down ment: sorry guys I sucked, now I'm going to look somewhere else to blame, idiot.

    Is phelps a cheater for taking drugs?, in his case it wasn't a accidental dopping, and he wasn't tested, it was a british tabloid, not a american, but a british one.

    It impresses me that people can just accuse someone of cheating that easily.

  18. LOL, I know C. Lord, and I promise you, I'm not him ;)

    I could come back Gus, but remember I'm a Dunford fan ;)

    PS. I hated those suits as well ;)

  19. Tom Duke here,

    Michael Lane Gustafson: your mother must have had a lot of furosemide on the brain when she was pregnant with you because you were clearly born with a malformed brain! Anyone who attacks an honorable knight like Sir Jason Dunford is beyond saving. You sir, are a disgrace and I am insulted to share a blog with you.

  20. Give it a rest with this Cielo is a cheater crap. We all know he didn't cheat. Even if you think he should've been suspended anyways, he didn't cheat. Did you see the man?? He looked like a twig. And you think he's on HGH??

  21. I don't expect these guys to be mature. I think those of us who have been around World Class swimmers (or most world class athletes for that matter) know that they're all d-bags. It's part of the attitude it takes to be that good, really. This was just Dunford being a Dbag. Same with Schoeman's crap. That guy's the most self-fulfilling crybaby there is. He was tweeting after South African Nationals like it was the end of the freaking world. No dude, you're just old.

  22. Can I give a D- to Swimming World's water polo coverage? I'd post it there, but I'm sure they'd just block my account.

    I don't understand why they even bother writing anything about it. Just post boxscores. They're clueless. Russia over USA was not "the most absolutely amazing shocking upset of all time!!" Russia is the 3-time defending European Champion. At best, it was a mild upset.

  23. also the precedent crap is a bunch of garbage. The story changes with the haters every week as to what they're upset about. As the guy at swim circle pointe d out in cas its arbitration, so precedent doesnt matter. too much law & order watching going on.

  24. Say what you want about Cielo. The guy is clearly focused like a lasix beam on gold in London.

    Wait, I meant laser beam. LASER. Got it?

  25. Re: Missy Franklin... She must be sending some jitters up Natalie Coughlin's spine right now. A 52.99 split is huge. Missy Franklin herself is huge. And she swims in all of Natalie's events. Could we see her dethrone the Queen in Omaha next year?

  26. (Please ignore if I misspelled something, English isnt my language, so well...)
    Sorry Im writing now, I just saw the blog and if the discussion is still open I might as well post my comment.
    I as a swimmer perfectly understand Dunfords reaction, because I know how preassure feels, so much hours training to end up in frustration, so I dont criticize him.
    But, have you no sympathy for Cielo???
    Imagine yourselves in his situation.
    His doping was involuntary (at least so he says, and given to his reaction I belive him) then all the stress, finally he was able to put up with it all and give his Brazil a golden medal. Didnt you see his unconsolable sobs???
    What I want to express with all of these is, please dont be so harsh on any of them, although his reaction wasnt the right one, with frustration and rage on top, his acting is logical. And wether you like it or not, Cielo is a great, disciplined athlete, but even a greater person.
    Animo Dunford!!!
    Arriba Cesar Cielo!!!
    Bad things happen, but once you pass them, they make you stronger.
    Bad things