Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Leaving London Series: The Future

Over the last two weeks we have looked at what has come from the London Olympic Games.  The one time every four years where swimming enters the general public discussion and for 8 days swimming is just as popular as NFL Football, Champions League Soccer, NBA Basketball, and maybe Justin Beiber.

The world watched Ryan Lochte win the 400IM, Dana Vollmer zoom to a WR in the 100FL, Ruta Meilutyte thrill the British crowd in the 100BR, Ye Shiwen was NOW, Chad le Clos down Michael Phelps at the final touch, Rebecca Soni crack 2:20, Missy Franklin realize her potential, Ranomi Kromowidjojo sprint to glory, the French men's relay earn redemption and avenge 2008, Michael Phelps re-find his swagger, Flourent Manaudou unseat the master Cielo, and Sun Yang almost kill his chance at glory in the 1500FR only to then go on to thrill the world in the 1500.

... that's all well and good... what's next?

We start the the Cruise to Carnival.

Who/what are the future?

On the women's side...

Kromowidjojo is young enough to have another go in 4 years but Franklin looks primed to challenge her in the 100FR while the US will try to see emerging sprinting start Lia Neal come to the fore in 2016.

Into the upper distance freestyle, whether it's 800 or 1500 it won't really matter because Katie Ledecky is going to be a force in the either and probably the 400 too.

Franklin is poised to continue to own the backstrokes while the breaststrokes will be wide open, despite the youth of Meilutyte it's just too difficult to forecast the future success of teenage breaststroke swimmers.  Butterfly will also be wide open come 2016 but the same can not be said for the IMs where Ye Shiwen is poised to be elite for a long time to come.

On the men's side...

Too tough to forecast that Flourent Manaudou is more then just a flash in the pan in the 50 while the hopes of Brazil will likely ride on the fast twitch muscles of Bruno Fratus.

Nathan Adrian is young enough to remain a force in the 100FR and James Magnussen should continue to go along right with him

When it comes to the freestyles 200 and up...  it's going to take a Herculean development to keep up with Chinese star Sun Yang.

Men's backstroke could be well up for grabs, Ryan Lochte will likely focus on backstroke over the next 4 years, especially the 100.  Tyler Clary at 23 and Ryosuke Irie at 22 should still be on the scene come Rio.

Men's breaststroke is WIDE OPEN.  Kitajima is done, as too is Hansen, while Gyurta and van der Burgh will be fours years older and far from locks come Rio.

Men's butterfly looks to be in good hands with the emergence of Chad le Clos as the Phelps slayer.  Le Clos is primed to be a big-time player in Rio, maybe the biggest of all players come Rio.

In the men's IMs, there is set to be new blood because Phelps will likely not be in the building, and Lochte can not be expected to at age 31 or 32 to be at the top of his game either.  That leaves le Clos, Clary, Kosuke Hagino, Thomas Fraser-Holmes as the top returning big hitters come Rio.

This is all well and good... but who are the stars??

Missy Franklin (USA)... can't miss unless her transition to a new coach at a University program does not go well.  Look for her to pursue 6, 7, or 8 Gold Medals in Rio and really dominate the discourse.

Ye Shiwen (CHN)...  I just don't see her stopping her dominance, at her age and how far ahead of the world she is right now, I see Ye as a force come Rio and hopefully in another event beyond the IMs.

Katie Ledecky (USA)... at just 15 years old and going 8:14.63 is beyond ridiculous.  Like Franklin, if Ledecky chooses to go the NCAA route she is going to have to adapt to a new coach and that is always a tricky proposition but from all accounts on Twitter this girl trains like a Superhero and should be good for some time to come.

Becca Mann (USA)...  Mann was not on the 2012 Olympic team but she was all over the place at US Trials at just age 14.  She's capable of swimming up and challenging the elite of elite in the 400FR, 800FR, 400IM, and probably more come 2016.  She's going to be really emerging over the next 4 years and it's going to be fun to watch.

James Magnussen (AUS)... He missed Gold by .01 in the 100FR in London, he's going to be 25 come the Olympics in Rio and he's going to be good in the 50 & 100.

Sun Yang (CHN)... I like him to sweep gold in the 200, 400, and 1500 in Rio.

Tyler Clary (USA)... covered yesterday

Chad le Clos (RSA)... covered yesterday

And if the meet in Rio is bolstered by a couple of returning big names that might be beyond their prime, there should be no shortage of star power in Rio.

UP LAST... The closing post in the Leaving London Series, gives the final words to the biggest star in swimming history, Michael Phelps.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Leaving London Series: Canada

The consistently stated goal of Swimming Canada's CEO Pierre Lafontaine was 3 medals at the Olympic Games in 2012.

RYAN COCHRANE - SILVER (1500FR - 14:39.63)

By my count that is 3 medals.  Primary goal SUCCESSFUL.  Canada was on the podium just as many times as host Great Britain, which would have be considered a pretty good feat.

How about beyond the medals metric?

I'm not privy to what the team's goals were beyond the appearances on the medal podium.  Some of the stronger Canadian performances...

- Women's 4x200FR Relay -- 4th
- Sinead Russell 200BK -- 8th
- Martha McCabe 200BR -- 5th
- Tera van Beilen 100BR -- 9th missed out on the Final by losing swim off
- Brittany MacLean 400FR -- 7th

However, beyond these swims we have a long way to go.  With a good deal of the Olympic Team primed to retire after this Olympiad it's incumbent that those on the Canadian Jr. Teams really start to press up to the big team and perform.  We need more Tera van Beilen, Sinead Russell, Brittany MacLean-type progressions from recent Junior success to International relevance and we need them soon.  The athletes are there, I see them on deck at meets all across the country.  The development meets are in place, the sheer number of national development teams and racing opportunities are more impressive then I can ever recall in my 25 years being involved in Canadian swimming.

The onus is now on the coaches, swimmers, and all relevant support staff to aggressively push forward and perform on the International stage and for those who have not yet been able to perform beyond National team vets like Hayden, Lacroix, Wilkinson, Oriwol, Dickens, and Bartoch the kids need to exceed the level of those mainstays.

It's going to be an exciting quadrennial, new blood needs to emerge, the degree to which we are successful at developing new elite talent will determine how we will progress come Rio 2016.

TOMORROW... Improbable Forecasting For The Next Four Years

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Leaving London Series: Who Will Be The 2016 Alpha Dog

Michael Phelps has dominated the Olympic landscape since 2004 and in 2000 through 2004 it was the era of Ian Thorpe.  However, for the first time in quite some time the swimming world is left without an Alpha Dog on top.

On the women's side the emerging alpha dog is clearly Missy Franklin.  Hopefully Franklin and Ye Shiwen can find an event to crossover and race each other in 2016, otherwise it's all academic as to how 2016 will play out.

On the men's side of the sport there's a two man rivalry primed to emerge...


- 20 years of age, will be just 24 come Rio
- 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist in the 200FL
- 2012 Olympic Silver Medalist in the 100FL
- 2012 4th place finisher in the 400IM
- the man who felled Michael Phelps in the one event that Phelps "couldn't lose"
- the son of Bert Le Clos who the BBC made famous like Debbie Phelps and NBC

South African sensation Chad le Clos.

In the RED CORNER...

- 23 years of age, will be 27 and prime for Rio
- 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist in the 200BK
- 2012 5th place finisher in the 200FL
- 2 x World Championship Silver Medalist in the 400IM
- the man who embarrassed Ryan Lochte, blowing passed Lochte in the last 50 of the 200BK
- the kid with the swagger to call out Phelps for being a slacker

American dark horse Tyler Clary.

Come 2016 in Rio, these two men could be primed to go head-to-head in the 200FL, 200IM, 400IM and either man is talented enough that maybe they could find another event like Clary putting together a 100FL.

This is a great match up on paper with recent results...

200FL... Le Clos 1:52.96 -- Clary 1:53.64
200IM...  Le Clos 1:58.49 -- Clary 1:57.25
400IM...  Le Clos 4:12.24 -- Clary 4:09.92

It's not yet time to start taking sides, nor is either man a lock to be the Alpha Dog come 2016, but both men are immensely talented athletes primed to carry the hopes of their nations and our sport into the post-Phelps, post-Lochte era.
TOMORROW...  Canada.. London & Beyond

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Leaving London Series: The Biggest Upset Gold In London

Everyone loves an underdog.  In London there were a lot of great races but many of the races were won by well established stars of the sport.

No one was surprised to see Phelps, Lochte, Sun, Kromowidjojo, Muffat, Soni, Franklin, Vollmer, Grevers, Agnel, Ye, and van der Burgh on top of a medal podium.Although some were in tougher competition then other, winning was not a shock.

Evan Chad le Clos' shocking victory in the 200FL over Phelps was surprising but if asked who was the one swimmer who had a chance to unseat Phelps it would have been Phelps.  Similarly Nathan Adrian upsetting James Magnussen was interesting but not overwhelming.

Katie Ledecky (800FR) and Ruta Meilutyte (100BR) were rocketing to Gold situations but at least both came into the Games with great momentum throughout the 2011-2012 season.

However, amongst all these wins the most shocking of all was Flourent Manaudou's golden performance in the 50FR.  Ranked 10th coming into London, Manaudou was a 50-1 shot in many of the London sports books (a popular place this Olympic Games).  After heats Manaudou was in a 3-way tie for 7th at 22.09 after prelims, 6th after semi-Finals in 21.80, but then his 21.34 out of Lane 7 in Finals was a thing of brilliance.

Of all the names in the 50FR - Cielo, Jones, Fratus, Ervin, Schoeman, Bovell, Sullivan, and Manaudou there were a 5 names who had previously won Olympic Gold, including Manaudou except that the Manaudou with an Olympic Gold medal was Flourent's sister Laure who won Gold in the 400FR in Athens in 2004.  Flourent was up to that breakthrough swim in London, just the Brother of an Olympic Champion, but now he's the Man.

Let's dig into the amazing numbers behind Manaudou's performance...

- 21 years old... the youngest man in the Olympic Final
- 21.34 is the fastest time in a textile suit, besting the previous textile best of Fred Bousquet 21.36
- 21.77 Manaudou's best time in the 50FR... short course meters...
- 21.86 Maudauou's previous best time in the 50FR LCM
- 2... the number of times Manaudou had swam under 22 in the 50FR prior to the London Olympics
- 22.09 was the 3rd fastest Manaudou had ever swam, he needed that strong prelim swim
- 21.80 was a best time by .06 posted in the Semi-Final
- 21.34... Gold... talk about a great time to go a best time by .46 in the 50FR

Brilliance.  Pure brilliance.  A perfect Olympic moment and what this sport is all about.  Congratulations Flourent!

TOMORROW...  Who Will Be The 2016 Alpha Dog In The Pool With Phelps Gone?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Leaving London Series: Ye Shiwen

The most controversial swimmer coming out of the London Olympics was 16-year old Chinese swimming phenomenon Ye Shiwen.  Ye left London with a pair of Gold medals in the 200 and 400IM powered by phenomenal finishing speed on the freestyle legs of each swim.

In the 400IM, American Elizabeth Beisel looked in control of the 400IM after taking control in the backstroke leg but out of nowhere Ye blew by Beisel right away in the freestyle en route to a Gold medal and World Record.

Freestyle splits...

Beisel - 31.52 & 30.81 --> 1:02.33
Ye - 29.75 & 28.93 --> 58.68

.. and Beisel is no slouch when it comes to finishing races.  Beisel out-split everyone else in the 400IM on the freestyle leg with the exception of Ye's team mate and Bronze medalist Li Xuanxu who narrowly out split Beisel but still that leaves Ye more then 3 seconds faster then the rest of the world.

Then in the 200IM, the event in which Ye is the reigning World Champion, where as a 15 year old Ye Shiwen captured gold in Shanghai.  In 2011 Ye out touched Alicia Coutts from Australia to claim Gold.  In London, Ye trailed both Coutts and leader Caitlin Leverenz at 150, but again Ye unleashed a 29.32 to beat out Coutts and Leverenz and a second Gold medal.

Capturing two Gold medals in the fashion that Ye did was not the most reported storyline in London when it came to Ye.  Rather it was Ye's perceived dominance over Ryan Lochte that was most covered.  Ye's 58.68 split in the freestyle of the 400IM kept up with Lochte's 58.65 and Ye out-split Lochte on the final 50 28.93 to 29.10.

Impressive... but then speculation that Ye might be cheating surfaced without substantiation or evidence.  C'mon.  Yes, what Ye did in the final 100 of her 400IM was impressive but it was brilliant swim in a high exposure swim and nothing more.

Is it uncommon for a teenager to jump out ahead of the world?

Where were the cries of unfair play while American Missy Franklin won 5 medals, 4 of them Gold in London?

Where were the cries of unfair play when 15-year old Lithuanian breaststroker Ruta Meilutyte, with no track record of big-time International success, dominated the 100BR and claimed Gold in London?

If one argues the track record argument with Franklin, then arguer fails to recognize Ye's Gold medal in Shanghai.  If one argues that Franklin is a year older and more mature then Ye, then he/she fails to recognize the dominance of Meilutyte at a year younger then Ye.

Ye has been a swimming phenomenon for a while.  On the Chinese National team since 2008, Ye's been under the microscope for too long to point to her as a cheat.  It's sour grapes and lazy reporting by those who do not take the time to research the sport and drop in every 4 years for lazy reporting.  It is blatant hypocrisy to condemn Ye without condemning similarly great talents from the US and Europe.

TOMORROW... The Biggest Upset In London

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Leaving London Series: Officiating

The only reason the notion of officiating is an issue coming out of London were the comments from South African 100BR Gold medalist Cameron van der Burgh that he used extra illegal dolphin kicks off his wall like 99% of other breaststrokers do in order to keep up, win, and break the world record.

"If you're not doing it, you're all behind." - Cameron van der Burgh


This is a slap in the face of the on deck officials that failed to notice the infraction of van der Burgh, or his competitors in the 100BR Final.  The claims are out there that everyone is doing it, Rickard, Kitajima, Hansen, etc... Either it's time for officials to step up and be hyper-vigilant watching breaststroke pull outs or FINA needs to evolve and use better technology to officiate their races.   The call is out there for video technology to be allowed to be used for officiating.  If the technology is out there it's clear after a slap in the face like van der Burgh issued that it's time for FINA to change with the times to prevent issues like this stripping away the credibility of the officials who give their valuable time to support our sport.

Not the greatest subplot coming out of London, but something clearly needs to be done.

TOMORROW... Ye Shiwen

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Leaving London Series: Stroke 50s

Last week speculation surfaced via one of the premier swimming swimming websites on the Internet SwimSwam that the International Olympic Committee is considering adding the stroke 50s to the Olympic program (along with ditching the women's 800FR in favour of a women's 1500).

As SwimSwam pointed out, the IOC has refused adding stroke 50s to the Games program because of the number of swimming medals already being handed out at the Games.  With Michael Phelps claiming 22 medals over 3 Olympiads is a feat that can not be duplicated by a sailer, a soccer player, a tennis player, basketball, or handball.  Really, the only sports that could yield so many medals to an individual are track, gymnastics, and swimming.  As a result it's hard to see the IOC actually pulling the trigger on stroke 50s.

However, as SwimSwam points out, money talks and when it comes to the first week of the Olympics, the world is focused almost squarely on the excitement in the pool and it's hard to argue against the "excitement" factor of stroke 50s.
Men's 10km podium, LtoR - Lurz, Mellouli, Weinberger

As someone within the swimming community, I'm all in favour of more Olympic team spots via more events.  The men's 10km open water race yielded a bronze medal for Canadian Richard Weinberger, who is a force in open water swimming but a non-factor in the 1500 pool race.  For guys like Richard, the open water Olympic race gave him Olympic glory and anyone in the swimming community should support even more opportunities.

Yes, more 50s mean more piling on for the sprinters and might serve to stunt the development of some younger swimmers who see their future in just the 50s at too young an age but with good coaching and time it will be observed that young kids are just not going to be able to compete with older, stronger, and more mature swimmers that gravitate to the 50s as they get older.

Opening the door for stroke 50s will hopefully at a later date open the door for the men's 800 and women's 1500, who would not want to see Katie Ledecky and Sun Yang compete for more Gold with the addition of these great races??

I am also for expansion of the Open Water program to include the 5km and 25km races.  Take it from me, you want a real marathon of swimming, it's not the puny 1500, it's not the comfortable 10km race, it's a grueling 25km race.  Love that race, a true test of distance capabilities.

The more Olympic swimming the merrier, sign me up as interested.

TOMORROW...  Officiating

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Leaving London Series: Sun Yang

Potential realized.  At age 16 Sun competed at the Beijing Olympics and managed an 8th place finish in the 1500FR (15:05.12) and a distant 28th place finish in the 400FR.

Four years later, Sun is the the brightest emerging start in men's swimming... OK... Forgive the pun.

In 2012, now 20 years old...

GOLD... 400FR (3:40.14 - just off the WR)
SILVER... 200FR (1:44.93 - tied with Park Tae-Hwan)
GOLD... 1500FR (14:31.02 - smashing his own WR)
BRONZE... 4x200FR relay... throw it into the record

I don't know where Sun Yang gets the energy to celebrate so elaborately after swimming a 14:31.02 1500FR

And the scary news is that Sun is clearly progressing and getting even faster.  He stands as the clear favourite to break 14:30 in the Mile, break 3:40 in the 400FR, and given his progression into the 200FR he's likely the odds on favourite to break Paul Biedermann's World Record in the 200FR and possibly be the first person to ever post a 1:39??  There's a long way to go before that point, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility given Sun's progression curve.

Neigh sayers will point to the dubious non-disqualification of Sun in the 1500FR in London, after an apparent false start that would have eliminated Sun from the Final, officials allowed Sun to go on and dominate the race and smash his own world record.

There is no evidence at this point in time that points to Sun not being perfectly capable of continuing onto Rio and being the favourite to win the 200, 400, and 1500FR.  Maybe someone can even convince him to give the 100FR a try too, just to see what happens.  Nothing but excitement in the future for Sun in the next quadrennial.

TOMORROW... Sprinters' Favourites, Stroke 50s

The Leaving London Series: Australia & Germany Searching For Answers

The two swimming federations with the most frustration coming out of the London Olympic Games are easily the Australians and the Germans.  Two traditional powerhouse programs with borderline disastrous results in London.

Stephanie Rice was unable to reclaim
the magic she had in Beijing at the
London Olympic Games in 2012
Australian medalists...

GOLD... Women's 4x100FR Relay
SILVER... James Magnussen 100FR
SILVER... Christian Sprenger 100BR
SILVER... Emily Seebohm 100BK
SILVER... Alicia Coutts 200IM
SILVER...  Women's 4x200FR Relay
SILVER... Women's 4x100 Medley Relay
BRONZE... Bronte Barratt 200FR
BRONZE... Alicia Coutts 100FL
BRONZE... Men's 4x100 Medley Relay

German medalists...

SILVER... Thomas Lurz 10km Open Water

ABC Australia did a thorough job analyzing the problems with the Australian swimming program.  Clearly there are a lot of deep resentment within the infrastructure of the sport, where the roles and goals of the executives, the coaches, and the athletes are in contrast.  Just 10 medals, 1 gold... not good, especially from the traditionally strong men's squad.  There were a number of disappointing performances but of particular disappointment to Aussies had to be Brenton Rickard and the performance on the men's 4x100 team, that almost looked like it could of actually used Ian Thorpe.

Brenton Rickard, Aussie breaststroke start and world record holder in the 100BR entering the Olympic Games, saw his world record get smashed by Cameron van der Burgh while Rickard finished a disappointing 6th.

The Australian relay team that many thought were a shoe-in for Gold, the men's 4x100FR relay were out-touched on the last leg by the Russians and the Aussies finished an ultra-disappointing 4th.

The problems on the German side are a little tougher to pin point because there is little out there in terms of the media assessing the German problems.  Zero medals in the pool and just 1 medal from a 32-year old open water swimmer can not be the outcome that the German swimmers were aiming for in London.  Piling onto the German medal drought is that there is not really anyone the German team can point to and say they are building around him or her for future International success.

German freestyle star Paul Biedermann, current world record holder in the 200FR (1:42.00) could only muster a 5th place finish in the 200FR and a time of 1:45.53, which is obviously well off his record best.

On the women's side for Germany, defending Olympic champion and world record holder Britta Steffen finished a disappointing 4th in the 50FR and missed the 100FR Final by quite a bit.

The Germans and the Australians have a lot of rebuilding to do over the next quadrennial.

LATER TODAY... Sun Yang (teaser: he's really fast)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Leaving London Series: Missy Franklin

Sorry for the 24 hour delay... we'll make this is two post Sunday...

This just in... Missy Franklin is not Katie Hoff.

In 2008 Katie Hoff was supposed to be the female equivalent of her North Baltimore peer Michael Phelps.  After a series of inconsistent performances in Beijing, Hoff had a disastrous 2012 US Olympic Trials and was unable to qualify for the US Olympic team for London.

Coming into the 2012 London Games, Missy Franklin was the new hotness in American swimming, but those who were wise waiting for Franklin to deal with the pressure of swimming at it's highest level before appointing Franklin as the Queen of the swimming world.

Coming out of London...

GOLD in the 100 & 200BK with a dominating World Record performance in the 200BK.
GOLD in the 4x100MR and 4x200FR relays
BRONZE in the 4x100FR relay.

4th in the 200FR and 5th in the 100FR.

The 17-year old Franklin is the real deal.  She already dominates the backstroke world and she's quickly moving into the realm of the super elite of the freestyle world.  At 6'1" Franklin has all the tools to continue to emerge and become the best swimmer in the history of women's swimming.

Franklin will undergo significant change in the next quadrennial, the most important change will be when she graduates high school a year from now, Franklin will likely undergo a coaching change.  Todd Schmitz has done a brilliant job bringing Franklin to the top of the sport but given Franklin's well documented interest in swimming in university and competing in the NCAA she's going to have to leave her comfort zone and continue to progress, which is far from an easy process.  For every Elizabeth Beisel who went from her club team to Gregg Troy at Florida and continued her success through to these London Olympic Games, there are plenty of swimmers who leave their smaller clubs and struggle to find success with their new programs (see: Knutson, Dagny).  Never discount the coach/swimmer relationship, it's an important bond to athletes and changing coaches is often an imperfect science no matter how great the swimmer or how brilliant the coach, sometimes the transition is just not successful.

If Franklin manages a successful coaching transition she's well positioned to be a threat to win 6, 7, 8 medals and the possibility of an 8 gold medal Phelpsian program should be a live option.

LATER TODAY... Australia, Germany, and their London Struggles

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Leaving London Series: Suit Controversy?

Suit controversy?  What suit controversy?

8 World Records in London did a great job of killing the suits meme once and for all.

The only suit subplot in London was the proof that ARENA is back as a major player in the suits world!  ARENA suits in their fun colours were all over the games, the ARENA suits are now all over the Age Group circuit here in Canada, and the only real interesting question is how will Speedo react to get back into the market because FS3 has been a complete and utter bust of a technology and marketing campaign.

Ruta Meilutyte in the new ARENA suit celebrating her breakthrough Gold medal performance
in the 100BR in London

TOMORROW...  Canada's Favourite/US Sweetheart Missy Franklin

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Leaving London Series: Ryan Lochte

With the nature of swimming's popularity cycle coming to a peak every four years at the Olympics, these London Games were a fascinating study in how the general public views swimming as compared to those who follow the sport on a regular basis.

Ryan Lochte was the darling of the swimming community since the Beijing Games.  Seemingly upset with his performance in Beijing, Lochte was a man on a mission over the last 4 years.  The first man to break a world record after the rule revisions with the swim suits.  Lochte owned Twitter, posted videos of his strength training exploits, and seemingly became the most popular swimmer on the planet.  Accessible, personable, the swimmer's swimmer.

However, something changed after Lochte claimed gold in the 400IM in London.

Lochte let down the US general public in the 200FR finishing 4th and was out-touched by the French in the 4x100FR relay... all of a sudden Lochte became more Alain Bernard like...  Jason Lezak would have never "let" the French win.  The casual fans were not in Lochte's corner.  All Lochte's talk about how much he trained to win in London was undone by Yannick Agnel and his brilliant 46.74 split.

After some redemption in the 4x200FR relay that Lochte led off, it was really the brilliant split by Conor Dwyer that set up for Michael Phelps to anchor and pull away for the dominating victory.

200BK... Lochte leads the world for 150m but then Tyler Clary and Ryosuke Irie blew by Lochte who would eventually settle for Bronze.

200IM... Lochte left in the dust of Michael Phelps.

All of a sudden the Lochte narrative is that he is Phil Mickelson so Phelps' Tiger Woods.  But wait, does that narrative stand up?

Here are the general news items on how Lochte is perceived following his Olympic events...

Ryan Lochte is sort of a douche (WWTDD)

Lochte eyes 'DWTS and 'The Bachelor' (UPI & every gossip site on the web)

Bill Simmons of ESPN jokingly listed Ryan Lochte as a -350 betting favourite to be the US team member most likely to have an Olympic village sex-tape "leaked".  In Lochte's defense, Simmons then listed Lochte as the favourite over Usain Bolt who despite US protests is not a member of the US Olympic team...  And this was an easy crack after the flap with Lochte's mother stating that Lochte went on a lot of one-night stands (to paraphrase).

Ryan Lochte WTF?  What happened to the young man who could do no wrong and represented the best of what swimming is, this is pretty low brow stuff.  However, I guess he's launched himself into the popular culture discussion, beyond the swimming bubble.  It's just amazing that the man loved by the swimming community is so dragged through the mud in comparison to the American love affair with the Olympic icon Phelps.

From all reports it appears that Lochte is going to continue on for another quadrennial to Rio 2016.  By the time Rio rolls around Lochte will be 31 (maybe 32) and carrying with him a medal record of 11 Olympic medals.  Lochte will have a lot to live up to and it will be interesting to see if his body can handle the load that his Gregg Troy program will throw Lochte leading up to Rio.  It won't be easy especially given that Lochte will have many of the distractions that sidetracked Phelps over the last 4 years.  Lochte is going to need to right the ship at some point and get back to being the Ryan Lochte that everyone in the swimming community admires.

Ultimately... Lochte is great for the sport, even if he is not beloved by popular culture.  If he has another 4 years left in him then it's good for the profile of swimming in the sports community.

TOMORROW... Suit Controversy?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Leaving London Series: The End Of The Comeback Era

Over the last four years leading into the London Olympics, it seemed like an unusually high number of swimmers returned to the sport in search of one last chance at Olympic glory.

Why?  Perhaps it is the trend that successful Olympic swimmers are excelling at an older age then before.  Science and funding is at the root of the success of older swimmers.

Some swimmers launched their comebacks successfully and made it to the London Olympics...

Hungary's Eva Risztov claimed Olympic Gold in the 10km
Open Water after retiring from 2005-2009
Eva Risztov
Anthony Ervin
Brendan Hansen
Tobias Oriwol
Libby Trickett
Laure Manaudou

Other swimmers saw their comebacks fall short of their expectations...

Ian Thorpe
Geoff Huegill
Michael Klim
Janet Evans
Dara Torres
Ed Moses

Although this is nowhere near an exhaustive list, it does give you a sense that a lot of big names came back to give this Olympic cycle a try.  Some of these comeback athletes will even stick and will continue beyond London, like Trickett who has vowed a campaign to making the Australian Olympic Team again in 2016.

There will be swimmers launching comeback campaigns leading into the 2016 Rio Games but I would find it hard to believe that the list could be as compelling as the list of those who made a 2012 run.  Sure... there's a guy who won 22 Olympic medals who would be the beginning and end of compelling comeback stories but beyond that 2012 will stand as the apex of the swimmer Olympic comeback era.

TOMORROW... Ryan Lochte!  Jeah!

The Leaving London Series

After four solid years of anticipation, the Olympic Summer Games in London have come to a close and in the sport of swimming the next four years leading into London will see the greatest change in the sport's recent history.

Michael Phelps is now retired from swimming and after 4 Olympic Games, 3 in which he thoroughly dominated the sport, swimming is ready for change.

So what is next?  Or who is next?

Coming up will be a series of articles outlining either interesting swimmers or interesting trends the are coming out of London.  As always, I have absolutely zero inside information that would lend credibility to what I will write about, but speculation is a long celebrated cornerstone of the Internet and I look forward to applying some interesting narratives to this series of articles.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Craziest Thing I Saw At The Olympics

Above is a picture of Germany's Daniela Schreiber who competed at the Olympics in the 100FR and the two freestyle relays.  In the 100FR Schreiber tied for 15th after preliminaries and then was eliminated in the semifinal she tied for 15th again and was eliminated

All these things are fine and well, but what the hell was with the 1960s old school start?

Really?  Was this a joke?  Or does Schreiber know something that the rest of the world doesn't know?

I scoured the Google but my German is not that sharp and there did not appear to be anything in English that covered this unconventional start.

Of course the Canada swimming coverage team of Rod Smith (who did a decent job) and Joanne Malar (who did not) failed to point out this odd start or to follow up as to why?  Where was Superbodies man Dr. Greg Wells to figure out more about this odd start?  I'll tweet him and see if he can figure this out... so odd.

More post-Olympic swimming thoughts to come throughout the week..