Is Brendan Hansen all the way back? Is it fair to have seven out of ten finalists at US Nationals be from another country? Is Ed Moses' promotional rap video the worst or best thing to happen in the history of swimming? I answer these questions and more as I look back at Nationals here in my home pool.
As usual with a National meet, my pre-meet expectations made the actual results fizzle a little. I think Olympic Trials in 2008 spoiled me- it was my first "national" meet and it's really not a fair comparison.
Brendan Hansen had one of the most impressive swims of the weekend in the 200 breast, a swim that I think bodes well for his 100 as well. Although Hansen failed to break 1 min in the 100, his 2:09 in the longer race is evidence that he has quite a bit of fitness at the moment. Actually, it's interesting to see the parallels between him and Ed Moses, who had a far poorer 100 swim, and a decent 200. Both seem to be struggling not with fitness but with translating it to an all out breaststroke sprint. I hope they find the technique in the next six months.
Moses, of course, made much more noise outside of the pool than in it. While the meet was going on, Universal Sports released "Splash on Em". I feel a bit conflicted about the whole thing- on the one hand the whole "look at me, I'm totally not what you would expect for a rapper but I'm making this rap song" thing is kind of played out. On the other hand, swimming desperately needs athletes who have any sense of fun.
There were a couple things that disappointed on the weekend. I found myself defending Georgia Tech even though our coaching staff wasn't responsible for hosting the meet. The first and most glaring was the lack of track blocks at the meet. Given the level of competition, it was unacceptable that they were not at the meet. I know that the GT facility does not own track blocks- it was USA Swimming's responsibility to bring in the attachments. As usual, no explanation was given. Warmup facilities during the competition were also somewhat limited- although this would be a issue at most indoor 50 meter facilities.
There was a fair amount of grousing over the international presence at the meet. As I mentioned in the lede, seven out of ten finalists in the men's 400 free were from outside of the US. This meet was much more like a "US Open" in that foreign competitors were allowed into finals, although could not score. I think that seven foreigners in the 400 free is much more an indictment of our national performance in that event than a problem of foreigners flooding the competition. I say the more elite international competitions we can hold on US soil the better.
In the end, it was both tiring and gratifying. Georgia Tech went from 3 Trials qualifiers to 7, with three swimmers making the cuts exactly. I went shopping in the Lenox Mall with my wife on Sunday and ran into Laure Manadou (and child) shopping for shoes in Bloomingdale's. So yeah, that's Nationals.