Sunday, July 24, 2011

5 Questions: Day One

As we peer into the double rainbow of Team USA's performance on Day One of the 2011 World Championships, we ask ourselves, "What does it meeeaaaannn?" This is, arguably, the most important swim meet in the past three years, as it definitely shapes minds and sponsorships leading into the all-important year of 2012. Here's the breakdown:

1.) You're Getting Older, Men's USA Roster. (Yes, I Stole This Title From A South Park Episode). While we watched teenage phenom Missy Franklin blaze out a lightning-fast 52.99 --- the only "non-professional" swimmer on both men's and women's finals relays and yet having the best split among them -- we watched the men take third place. While you can debate what this means, about leadership, about desire.... quite simply scan the men's roster. There's only one teenager on the entire roster, and that is an open water swimmer. While the women's side looks to be in good shape with Sutton, Franklin, Beisel, and Pelton, the men's side has literally no teenagers who are gaining experience here. Back home, I can only wonder what superstar-in-the-making David Nolan is thinking. It seems like Franklin has given a spark for the women, and that spark is youth + speed + desire. When Phelps and this current generation of mid-20-something swimmers retire after the 2012 Olympics, we're going to see a whole wave of next-generation male swimmers with little or no international experience. Should be interesting. 

2.) Could Vollmer be the Great World Record Hope? She's only a few tenths off the 100m fly world record, folks. It would be a big drop, but she could do it. Coming into this meet, I wrote that Rebecca Soni had the best shot at a record. I still believe that, but Vollmer looks so good, so smooth and in-control of her races, I wonder if we could see a swim-of-a-lifetime tomorrow. 

3.) What's with the Lochte-Swimming-For-A-Spot-In-Prelims Decision? Like Desantis said in an earlier post this morning, "Not putting the world's best swimmer on your 4x100 relay needs some explanation." Agree? Disagree? Personally, if you have a swimmer that went 6-for-6 at the Pan Pacific Championships one year ago, was undoubtedly the World's Swimmer of the Year, and is the biggest hype this side of James Magnusson, you put him in the relay. It's like not giving LeBron James the final shot at the end of the game (wait, bad analogy). It's like not giving Michael Jordan the final shot at the end of the game (wait, that's Michael Phelps). It's like not giving Tiger Woods the (wait.) I don't know. It's just weird, right? 

4.) Missy Franklin's Professional Status, and NCAA Swimming. I don't want to jump the gun here, but Franklin has already turned down $40,000 in prize money this year alone. She looks like a Natalie-Coughlin-In-The-Making (or Now). Needless to say, she's going to be wooned and swooned over leading up to these 2012 Olympics. While we have a lot of swimming left to see from Franklin, it'll be interesting to see how this shapes up. She's only 16. Her coach has said that college is a goal of hers, and she would like to compete in NCAA swimming -- this much is obvious. But this is a problem (and I've said this before about our sport) about amateurism, the Olympics, and teenage phenoms. I hope Franklin continues to want to compete in college, because it would be wonderful for the NCAA, like Natalie Coughlin competing for Cal. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next year. We'll see how she swims the rest of the meet, and then maybe re-visit this conversation. 

5.) What is Brendan Hansen Thinking? Mark Gangloff is the only USA swimmer in the top-16, and he'll head to the finals tomorrow. Is Brendan Hansen licking his chops, preparing for Nationals? Clearly, this men's 100m breaststroke event is more wide-open than we thought. It will be interesting to see how fast Hansen swims later in the summer, and how close to some of these times he will get. In a similar vein, Matt Grevers should also be eyeing some of these relay times and thinking to himself, "I could be on the 4x100 freestyle relay in 2012." 


  1. Why Lochte, why not Walters, USA record holder who was faster than Lochte in prelims? Just because someone swims 200 IM really fast, doesn't mean he's adept 100 freestyler.

  2. I don't put too much stock in Lochte's prelims performance. Lochte has more than proven that he will swim fast in prime time. He was put on last summer's faster, world-leading 400 freestyle relay at Pan-Pacs and responded accordingly with a 47.9. In 2009 he split 47.0 and was key in the victory over France.

  3. +

    6. Just how much will Dale Oen cry tomorrow with gold medal in his shoulders and flag raising.... Must be some emotional rollercoaster for him with all stuff happening home and coming back from injury....

  4. Off topic, where is Garrett McCaffrey?

  5. In a far far away secret location deep behind enemy lines

  6. I heard he was working in some think tank on the East Coast trying to solve the greatest mystery of all: What would a possess a person to be in love with something as unnatural as breaststroke, obsess over some tiny European island and how does said person find someone tolerant enough to marry him?

    A mystery, in deed.

  7. Garrett and Swimming World parted ways earlier this year.