Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Nighttime Snack: The Athlete Coach Relationship

I seem to be the new go-to for stupid swim related *&%# on the internet.  Yay!  Keep it coming, people!

****WARNING*******Use of the "F" word at the end of the clip.******WARNING*******

Why Season Planning is For Dopes

Hopefully by now you've realized that the title's of my posts are far more inflammatory then what's inside. I'm going to argue in this space against what seems to be a universally accepted part of coaching swimming: the season plan. I was reminded to write this yesterday as I listened to the president of Georgia Tech discuss his 25 year plan for the University. He asked us to look into the past 25 years, and in doing so  inadvertently pointed out the folly in such long term planning. The future is just too unpredictable.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Nighttime Snack: Hurricane Irene Edition

The Hair!  The Satin!  The Rippin' Guitar Solos!

Since no one else is posting anything I'm taking matters into my own hands and doing whatever I want.   (Actually, Gus knows about this.)  So this is for everyone on the east coast staring down the eye of Hurricane Irene.  Here's your soundtrack.  Stay safe!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Magic in Water

 I'm dreading the end of the outdoor pool season.  Indoor pool season just isn't the same.  Where I live indoor pool season means it's gray, cold and dreary outside.  Everything dies;  leaves on trees, grass, flowers, and especially my happiness.  My happiness is inextricably tied to my daughter's happiness.  That happens when you become a parent.  The fact that I have 3 daughters and they're all 8 years old and one is on the autism spectrum means someone (at any given point) is not happy.  Therefore my happiness quotient is usually leveled as well.  But something happens in the summer...something magic.....especially for my daughter, Kate.  You see, there is no "cure" for autism.  But in my house, for Kate especially, there is a magic in water.

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects a person's ability to communicate and be social.  Most people with autism have issues with their sensory system;  things are often too loud, too crowded and generally "too much" to handle. They may not know exactly where their body is in space which is disorienting.  There's a "spectrum" so some people with autism are "high functioning,"  they may seem unusual or quirky.  Some people are "low functioning" so they may not speak at all and have distruptive behaviors.  Kate is somewhere in the middle, I guess.  She speaks but she's not really conversational.  Simple back and forth is about it.  She's learning to play with others and she's giving us much more eye contact.  Things are improving but like the saying goes, it's a marathon not a sprint. 

During the summer, in the sunshine, in the reflection of a clear blue pool, Kate comes alive.  She lives at the pool, she cannot get enough.  It's incredible to see the transformation.  It very much is like a caterpillar emerging from it's cocoon and blossoming into a butterfly.  In the water Kate is much more talkative.  She uses more words to form sentences and she describes things in much more detail.  She looks right at us and she's also extremely playful.  Instead of keeping to herself she commands our attention;  ring around the rosie, jumping into our arms, dunking games and singing songs together....it goes on for hours.  She's connected to us, she's with us, she is a part of us.  

Kate has also learned to swim this summer.  Missy Franklin she's not but she's able to be safe in all depths of water and she can easily swim to the side of the pool.  Her favorite thing to do is float...the poor lifeguards...she floats facing downward and can hold her breath for a really long period of time.  It looks scary if you don't know what she's doing.  She can do that forever.  She taught herself a breaststroke kick this summer.  I don't know how-she must have seen her sisters do it since they were working on it all summer.  Drowning is the number one cause of accidents/death for children with autism so her safety was paramount.  I don't care if she doesn't know who George Washington is...the kid's gonna swim. 

There's something about the warm sun on her face and the water.  As fall approaches I'll take her to the indoor pool and even have her splash around in the tub (which has always been calming for her) but it's not the same.  Over the next few years we're looking at moving somewhere warm again.  As beautiful as it is to watch her emerge during the spring and summer it's heart breaking to watch her fade away in the fall and winter.  We get used to "having her around" not just in body but in spirit.   It's the greatest gift.  I treasure every moment.  I take hundreds of pictures and probably hours of video of her "alive," happy, connected, laughing, looking right at us, asking us to play, giggling with glee and precious moments.  Because there's magic in water.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nighttime Snack: Man Steals Swimming Pool

Yup, that's where the fun used to be

 Some guy in Massachusetts stole a family's 24 ft diameter/52 inch deep above-ground swimming pool and sold it for scrap metal.  It took him 3.5 hours to disassemble it while the family was at work.  

Steal a kid's pool?  Why don't you just run over their puppy?  That's just mean.  My kids would need years and years of therapy to recover from this.  They caught the guy;  charged him with trespassing, larceny and being a grade A schmuck.                                                                                  

Craig Lord: Never Afraid to be Ignorant or Closeminded

It's been a while since I've commented on the articles of the foremost (outside of our own Tom Duke) swimming writer in jolly old England, Craig Lord. Yesterday, he posted something that I just couldn't ignore. It's one of the articles that reminds you that Lord's primary sources of information are an ever aging and conservative cadre of coaches and officials. He is the official mouthpiece of their grumbling. Yesterday's complaint? There are too many high level meets. Let's address his points:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Afternoon Coffee with an Illustrious Member of The Faroese Delegation

Two Vikings Meet on the Field of Battle

If you've been following my blog, you know that my obsession with the Faroe Islands is reaching borderline insane proportions. So when my (online) friend Rókur Í Jákupsstovu told me that he would be in the vicinity at the same time as my Danish vacation, needless to say I didn't hesitate. For those of you who don't know, Rókur is the author of by far the best swim blog in the Faroes, www.svimjing.com. He also travelled to Shanghai with Pal, his coach Jon Bjarnason and the President of Faroese swimming, Jon Hestoy. Over a beer, and the subsequent coffee we drank to stay awake that you see in the picture above, we talked about anything and everything in the swimming world.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Nighttime Snack: Werk it at your next practice, ladies!

But do They Come in Black?

No longer do you have to choose between fashion and athleticism!  Bored with the same ol' flip flops?  Some designer in Sweden or somewhere with too much time on their hands has solved the problem.  I have no idea where you buy these but the first person to buy them, take a picture and send it to us gets an autographed photo of the Swim Viking in his Speedo.  So hurry!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Yet Another Unreasonable Firing! Sue Everyone!

Maybe he has a chance as a beach lifeguard. Or a contractor.

It's ridiculous! Somebody call the lawyers! Burger King didn't just fire their King... according to Yahoo! News they decapitated him!

No Morning Workouts

What if my alarm clock is stuck?
So I realize I posted yesterday and promised grand blogs to come. This is not one of the blogs I promised. Instead, I am posting right off the top of my head in a stream of consciousness like I usually do. My thoughts are consumed with the coming season. The campus is flush with incoming freshmen. I'm trying something different this year, not without trepidation. Depending on how you look at it, I'm either catching the wave of the future, already way behind or destroying our future. I'll let you decide

Another Lawsuit-- This Guy was Fired Over a Swim Brief!

If Roy Lester worked for this website he would be fired.  Even Lisa has to wear a brief on the job with us.
I know people are scared to wear the brief.  You have to be pretty comfortable with your manhood.  I get it.  I swam with my high school kids during practice yesterday at a rival team pool (because we are still in renovations) and I wore my brief; big old belly hanging over it and all.  Awkward.  Intimidating.  Creepy.  Whatever.  I am being true to myself.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Missed You Too!

Little known fact: Denmark has BEAUTIFUL palm trees
Hey everybody, I'm back! I know that all of you have been worried sick these past couple weeks, with me not posting and all. You probably thought I had a mental breakdown after blogging 359 times a day during Worlds and then from the pool deck at Nationals. I'm here to tell you that everything is fine. I just went on vacation, ok, so you can stop worrying. (Scanning posts and comments). Wait, no one noticed? Seriously?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rivalry Gone Too Far

It's all in fun until someone gets sued.

Missouri State and Drury have a traditionally strong swimming rivalry between them in Springfield, MO.  The thing that is great about it is that after all the trash talk and incidents, at the end of the day the kids are all still friends.  I am not going to say that there has never been bad blood between the coaches or the kids-- there is a great history there.  Drury's Brian Reynolds actually swam for Missouri State's Jack Steck back when Jack was leading the Panthers to some of their first national championships.  As a matter of fact, there was a twenty year gap where the two schools were not allowed to dual each other because the administration worried it would just be too much for Springfield to handle.  It was pretty heated between the two programs.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nighttime Snack: A Big Bag of Gus

Mike Gustafson!  Healthy Yet Satisfying! 

Texas A&M moving to the SEC?  What does that mean for college swimming?  According to Gus, it should be a rallying cry for swim fans throughout the country.  Read his article for USA Swimming here:

A Tribute to a Beloved Coach and Within it; A Message

Joy of Competition
Meaning of Effort
Worth of Character
Power of Kindness
Wisdom of Honesty
Influence by Example
Rewards of Cooperation
Virtues of Patience

It seems that Coach Greg House possessed all the qualities of a "good coach."  The Swim and Dive coach at Blue Valley North High School in Kansas City was one of the winningest high school coaches (in terms of state titles) in Kansas history- leading his team to 20 state swim and dive championships during his 30 year career. When Coach House died last week of lung cancer not only did he leave behind a lot of trophies locked up in glass cabinets he also left behind something much more important;  the hundreds of lives he impacted.  A friend of mine sent me a link to a blog from one of his former swimmers.  She swam for Coach House years ago but the news of his death moved her greatly.  She channeled her grief into her art and she was gracious enough to let me repost some of her illustrations here.  I think they convey a tremendous love for her sport and for her coach.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Let's Talk About Jewelry!

If he stops to take off his jewelry they are just gonna DQ him for 'delay of meet' anyway.
I have never understood why the high school swimming rule-makers have such an obsession with jewelry.  Kids can't wear any, even if it is just a hair band that a girl put on her wrist and forgot to take it off.  Every Olympic year my swimmers come to me and say "Hey!  Every girl they interviewed in the Olympics was wearing earrings!?  What gives?"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Emmert's NCAA Retreat Wrap-up

Mark Emmert, about to scrape the charred remains of the Husky swimming program from the bottom of his frying pan in 2009.

So, Mark Emmert wrapped up his NCAA retreat and is being applauded for actually making a decision without doing the standard NCAA "let's form a committee and a task force and come talk about this again in five years."  Well,  from the sound of it, they talked about a lot of stuff and ended up moving on just one decision.  They plan to hold some teams out of post-season play if they don't meet grade standards, which I guess would have taken some heavy hitters out of the basketball tournament this year according to the scores that will now be required... but of course those schools will find a way to pay for whatever necessary tutors and bribes they need to be in compliance.  That's how it works. Apparently they have to have a record of half of their students on track to graduate.  That shouldn't be too hard to get around, right?

Big whoop.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Jump in for Joplin!

Because swimmers are the coolest people on Earth.
After the May 22nd tornado hit Joplin, there was an outpouring of support from swim teams from all over the nation hoping to help swim families get on their feet.  Joplin was crawling with volunteers from all over the country and it is amazing how much has been done in the months since the storm.  We all knew though, that after the initial surge of volunteers came and went, there would still be many families with needs that would not have been met for various reasons.

One of the emails I got that offered help went a little above and beyond what I had seen.  A coach in Wisconsin who I had become friends with over email, Vicki Terlap, sent me a message saying that she was organizing a fundraising event called Jump in for Joplin.  How cool is that?  She got a few swim teams together and made a truly inspiring event of it.  They raised $1159.00 and it looks like they had a lot of fun doing it!  They had all sorts of games and races and it looks like they made it the best kind of party-- the kind that helps a group of total strangers who are friends through swimming.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Morning Bowl of Gustafson

I think last time we had a Morning Bowl of Gustafson the US Stock Market and the global economy did pretty well.  Maybe it was coincidence....maybe it wasn't.  Therefore, I'm posting a link to his latest masterpiece he wrote for USA Swimming.  Not only is it an interesting article about Brendan Hansen's comeback, my 401K may recover.  No pressure, Gus.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The End is Nigh: Emmert's NCAA Retreat

The NCAA booted this guy out of their meeting for speaking up on behalf of non-revenue sports.  Then they made a rule stating that new pools built at universities must now have a lazy river for football players to play in instead of lap lanes.

The Viking's summarization of day one of Mark Emmert's NCAA Reform Retreat and all of the self-contradictions therein:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Olympic Numbers Game

Since I caught a bunch of grief for not sharing some of my "other" "swim" "writing" here's an article I wrote yesterday for USA Swimming. My numbers might be off, and perhaps the rest of you can come up with some better/funnier/edgier/sexier numbers (like the sheer number of condoms used at each Olympics), but here are some pretty fun facts I discovered during my morning research (performed while sipping coffee and listening to my 25 lb. cat wail and moan for more food, the fat piece of fat):

Monday, August 8, 2011

Nighttime Snack: One Year Out, Just Not What We Expected

Unfortunately, this is not the Olympic Torch 
My official "Olympic Glow" has taken a bit of a tarnishing lately.  For the 3rd night in a row there have been riots in the streets of London, starting in Tottenham in the north of the city, now moving throughout London and even to other cities like Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester.

Not **exactly** great PR for London as it looks to host the Olympics 353 days from now.  On twitter, the usual tweets of excitement were replaced by tweets like, "Looting:  The New Olympic Sport" and "Can't wait for the Olympics.....should be a riot!"  There was also my favorite, "Good luck with the Olympics, London.  I'm outta here."  Scotland Yard has made it a point all along to assure the millions of tourists it will be sure to welcome next summer they are safe and they have everything under control.  The events this week have made some question whether or not that is actually the truth.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Snack: Swim-Life- Should Senior Swimming in the US Take a Step Back?

Take that Stone Cold Button! Ha!

I want to draw attention to another blogger out there, not just because he is Alaskan and that automatically makes him awesome, but because he is putting some ideas out there that deserve to be heard. Cliff Murray, Head Coach of Northern Lights Swim Club in Anchorage, Alaska has a blog called Swim Life. It is a collection of workouts and random thoughts about swimming. Recently Coach Murray has put a few posts out there that question the progression of Senior qualifying meets from the LSC level up to the Olympic Trials. Cliff seems to think that the old system with Regionals, three Junior National sites and the US Open made a lot more sense than the current system of Sectionals, Junior Nats, then Nationals. Cliff also is also able to give a lot of the dynamics that come into play that differ between large and small clubs.

Nighttime Snack: Tech Suits and the Anonymous Voice of a Pro.

I know that Spidey's black costume turned out to be an alien symbiote that tried to kill him and all... but I couldn't help drawing a parallel between this picture and the tech suit issue. 

In case you haven't been following along, Tony at the SCAQ Blog is a Masters Swimmer and has always loved his tech suits.  At his blog though, no matter how vocal he has been about wanting tech back, he has allowed anyone and everyone to voice their opinion even if it disagrees.  Apparently a professional swimmer decided to "school" Tony and the rest of us on what tech suits really did to professional swimming and the suit sponsor system that they count on, and this seems to be the voice that was missing from the argument the first time around.  It is worth the read.

Keeping it in Perspective

Before this National meet started, I stated unequivocally what I would be watching for- the young swimmers that would replace the current generation of US stars. Depending on who you ask, we have just seen it. I remain more doubtful. While we did see a legendary NAG record go down over the course of this meet, the swims are not keeping pace with international competition. Why do I keep hammering on this point?  Let me explain:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Nighttime Snack: Jeanette Ottesen to marry an American

Occasionally here on the Swim Brief, I like to bring your attention to the very important work done by the Faroese swimming blog, www.svimjing.com. It has a lot of good stuff. Unfortunately, there are probably upwards of 50,000 people in the entire world who speak Faroese, so much of it's content is lost to the abyss. This will not be one of those times.

Morning Bowl of Gustafson

Mmmmmm, Gustafson
Every now and then, Mike Gustafson writes for another website. Then he tries to conceal the article so that none of us can find it. Mike, listen to me. We accept you for who you are. Don't keep living in shame. We love your writing very much and we just want you to be happy. Luckily for us, we have trained internet lackies that discover whenever Mike has written something and send it to us. This is Mike's latest for USA Swimming:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lifeless Crowds

When's the A Final? It already happened????

All week I've been bringing you observations from the pool deck at US Senior Nationals out in Palo Alto. By the way I know that's not the official name but I don't want to type out the long drawn out name. Today I'm bringing a more downbeat one. As I probably mentioned, there are a ton of people at this meet. Upwards of 1800 swimmers. Throw in coaches, parents and other various spectators and you have enough people to create the atmosphere. Still, yesterday during the "A" final of the women's 200 free, one of my swimmers turned to me and said "when are they starting?". The swimmers were already a 50 into the race. That is both part of the problem and revealing.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nighttime Snack: Day 2 From Palo Alto

Picture this packed to absolute capacity with people.
Another day in paradise, another nighttime musing from Nationals in Palo Alto. Here are some quick hit thoughts from the meet:

Why So Many Comebacks?

Why not come back? I'm faster.

As you can tell from our two nighttime snacks, the deck was aflutter with talk of Brendan Hansen last night. USA Swimming fans had been hungry for a breaststroke savior after that was perhaps the weakest men's event for them in Shanghai. There was an audible groan through the crowd when Hansen failed to break 1:00. Nobody was really cutting him any more slack after this morning- they wanted their Brendan back. Beyond his performance, I had a number of people on deck suggest a reason why athletes like Brendan have returned. It's related to the blog I just wrote.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Nighttime Snack: Breaking News

"I'm on a mission.  I don't like watching World Championships on tv and I don't like Rowdy saying Kitajima is the world's best breaststroker."-Brendan Hansen 

Brendan Hansen is back.  We knew this from what we saw in Santa Clara but now it's official.  Hansen swam 1.00.08 in the finals of the 100 breast tonight at Nationals.  Hark, the breaststroke angels sing.

Nighttime Snack- Back in Cali

This is my view for the first finals session here at Summer Nationals. It's not as bad as it looks- you can't see the scoreboard if you're on the other side and space is extremely tight. While many Nationals meets tend to lack star power when they fall this close to a major international meet, that is not the case this summer. I'm just about to watch Dana Vollmer, world champion, swim the 100 fly.

This meet is also serving as a qualifier for Junior national team service. If you are wondering if that combined with a lot of the world championship team being here makes for strong competition- wonder no longer. I had a swimmer comfortably make Olympic trials this morning- and finish 48th.

The meet is also so crowded they are running prelims in two pools. Oh and did I mention that Brendan Hansen is still extremely fast. Like, can we invent a time machine and put him on the Shanghai team fast? Cause he is.

Of course, Omaha looms over this meet. You can already feel some nerves 11 months away. Everybody wants that momentum, but not everyone is getting it.

Did I mention Brendan Hansen is still fast?

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Why This Nationals is Far More Important Than You Think

I hope he's not alone.
I'm writing this on a plane out to Palo Alto. The fact that I'm doing so astounds me. I mean I am LITERALLY flying through the air. This is very cool. As I fly, I'm pondering the fact that many people are viewing this nationals as somewhat of a sideshow in between World Championships in Shanghai and the coming World University Games. Here's why they're wrong.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Gutter Talk: Bodysuits Back in 2013?

SwimNews recently reported that FINA will be revisiting the tech suit issue in 2013 with consideration of equal coverage for men and women with textile fabric being allowed to cover the body from knees to shoulders.  Among other issues, some feel this would be beneficial in that sponsors would be given space to advertise, while others think that covering the male torso will eliminate some of swimming's sex appeal.  


"This is not enough.  All world records should be erased from the books unless they were set in wool body suits.  Period."  Johnny W-  Former World Record Holder.