Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Swim Wars: The Return of the Schubert

It's been quite a year for Mark Schubert. Just under a year ago, he was put on 60 day paid leave of absence from his job as US National Team Director. Rumors flew until finally it was revealed that Schubert had been canned from his position by Executive Director Chuck Wielgus. What followed was a bizarre press conference where Schubert came dressed in a USA Swimming shirt and seemed genuinely surprised by the whole thing. Finally a, petition to have him reinstated gained some traction online but ultimately yielded no results. Schubert appeared to have hit rock bottom.

The comeback started earlier this summer. Janet Evans made a comeback with Schubert as her coach. Today, the comeback gained some additional traction, as it was announced that Schubert would be the head coach of Golden West College. Reading Schubert's resume, he seems a bit overqualified to be coming back to coach in junior college. Still, it seems very clear that he does not want to just fade away. Mark Schubert wasn't just knocked off the horse- he was launched. Now his comeback is on.

It becomes easy now to feel some sentimentality for Schubert. A little over a year ago, when he appeared all powerful in his role at USA Swimming, he was a blogger's favorite target.  He was a symbol for many of the things that people hated about USA Swimming. For one, his contradictory actions on suits were much derided. He was party to the lawsuit filed by TYR against USA Swimming after he publicly encouraged swimmers to wear the Speedo LZR. He then became a champion to ditch the suit technology. His actions were both arrogant and self-interested.

But now that he has been humbled, I have to admit I feel differently. For one thing, the issue that many have rumored he was fired is important. Schubert had backed an athlete partnership plan that would have offered significant support to far more national level athletes than before with very few strings attached. It was a far better idea than the post graduate centers and might have guaranteed the future success of a US National team that has shown some signs of deteriation over the last few years.

And so, in the immortal words of Rocky Balboa, "If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change". Let those words end not just one, but two cold wars.


  1. That's some prime pool space secured for Coach Shubert in Orange County.
    Good for him - good for the sport - and hopefully good for his team of swimmers.

  2. Hmmmm - maybe he has an in with Mary Jo Swalley and will be able to get these swimmers Conference Championships observed.

    Someone worked the magic to get Janet Evans masters swim observed.

    Observation requests: denied, denied, denied, approved (for Mr. Schubert).

  3. Chris, this is a good blog post but you do know Mark was FOR the Post Grad Centers of Excellence in addition for the Athlete Partnership, right?

  4. Yes, I should have added that I disagree very strongly with the post graduate centers. That is a blog for after the World Championships.