Four world champs. Really?

I’ve been glued to watching the swimming at the Olympics. Great stuff, especially since I can record it and not have to watch the commercials or not-sports, i.e. performing arts.

I did watch a couple of minutes of gymnastics and happened to learn that in the uneven parallel bars at the last World Championships, there was a four-way tie for first. Really?

I stand even more strongly by my August 4th post.

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Frightening State of the Economy

Yesterday, I went up my driveway to my mailbox to retrieve the mail.  In the mailbox were two items: a magazine and an unsolicited advertisement for a consignment store.

The consignment store advertised:

Authenticated Luxury Consignment:
Women’s & Men’s Luxury Fashion | Fine Jewelry & Watches | Fine Art & Home Decor | Kids

Yikes!!!  I knew it was difficult times economically for many families these days.  But, giving your kids to be sold on consignment?  That’s very scary!

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Kissing your sister can be warm and caring, but generally, it’s not exciting.

Unfortunately, we don’t have much history in our sport.  Heck, now that Michael Phelps has arrived, few will remember what Mark Spitz did, let alone Johnny Weismueller (well, maybe as Tarzan), Tracy Caulkins, or Helene Madson, not to mention Bill Mulligan, Thompson Mann and other star swimmers.  (I told you not to mention them.  So, don’t ask.  Look them up.)

I love learning about swimming history.  And, I like to do what I can to see to it that our sport has some history.  As a result, I’m prone to throw swimming trivia at others.

For quite some time now, I’ve been bombarding USA Swimming personnel, swimming friends, and swimming afficionados with “Who is the last U.S. Woman to win the 100m freestyle in the Olympics?”  Of course, part of the fun for me is that I know her quite well.  (Though I don’t think she knew the answer to that question the first time I posed it to her.)

Some of the people who have been around swimming for awhile took objection to my answer.  “What about 1984?,” some asked.  (In the 1984 Olympics, Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer, both great swimmers, hit the wall together; both outperformed the swimmers from all of the other countries in that 100m swim; and both received gold medals.)  My response was usually something like, “Which one of them won?”

When a hockey game ends in a tie, which team has won?  When a football game ends in a tie, which team has won?  A tie is a tie, not a win.

Okay, FINA in its infinite wisdom, awards Olympic Gold medals when the top two swimmers finish with the same official time.*  But, they just as rationally could have decided to award Olympic Silver Medals to both.**  FINA awards silver medals to swimmers who tie for second and third.  And they award Bronze Medals to swimmers who tie for third and fourth.

What would they do if all 8 finalists tied?  Would all eight be said to have won?  Would all eight be awarded Olympic Gold Medals?

I do know what they do when two, three, or more swimmers tie in qualifying for the eighth spot in the finals.***  They swim it off.  And so they should.

Kissing your sister can be warm and caring; but generally, it’s not particularly exciting, nor is it in keeping consistent with the changing landscape of sport.

Football and basketball have gone to multiple overtimes in order to avoid ties and determine winners.  Soccer and Hockey seek to determine a winner with shoot offs.

The public doesn’t want a tie.  Fans want a clear winner.  And, watching a swim-off is one of the most exciting spectating events in our great sport.  A swim-off for Olympic Gold would be unbelievably exciting.  TV viewers would love it.

Moreover, I may be wrong, but I suspect most swimmers would rather swim it off than tie.   I know I would.  It’s much more exciting than kissing your sister.

It’s time we stop that nonsense.  Let’s swim them off.  Let’s shoot it out, mano a mano or womano y womano, in front of huge screaming crowds.

[By the way,  Sandy Neilson-Bell was the last U.S swimmer to win the women’s 100 m freestyle in the Olympics.  That was way back in 1972.]

* Of course the FINA rule book makes no note as to what determines the winner of a swimming race; though most, if not all, of us assume (as designated in the American Swimming Association Rules) that the person who completes the designated distance in compliance with the competitive swimming rules, the fastest, wins.  Or, since Cameron van der Burgh, maybe not.  But that’s another issue.)

**  Or, they could laser a gold and a silver, fuse one half of each to each other and award two half gold and half silver medals, which, at least to me, makes more sense.  And, it would be way cooler looking.

*** Or for the second spot at US Olympic Trials.

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Looking at powerless mornings or I need my strength

Sandy, as well as all other U.S. Olympians, received an offer in the mail for a deeply discounted, Hilton Suite Dreams Plush Mattress made by Serta. It just so happens that we need a new bed. But, we weren’t interested in buying a bed sight unseen, especially since it was non-returnable. So we went to the downtown Hilton to get a look at/feel for one.

Unfortunately, the women manning (womanning?) the front desk, had no idea what we were talking about when we asked to see a Hilton Suite Dreams Plush Mattress. Sandy showed her the letter with the offer, but the woman behind the desk had no idea whether that Hilton carried that kind of bed. Nevertheless, she called someone to show us a room where we could see a bed, but was expressly uncertain whether it would be the right bed.

It wasn’t. So, we went back down to the front desk to see if we could track one down, or, at least, track down another Hilton that carried the model at issue.

The personnel on duty were extremely friendly and helpful in trying to track one down, but even after perusing both the Hilton website and the Serta website; no one could find a line of Hilton Suite Dreams Plush beds.

Finally, the women, who showed us the room, thought she found it but it was called by a different name. “It’s Kryptonite,” she exclaimed. To which I immediately announced, “I can’t do that.”

Stay tuned.

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Moderate 3,000 yd practice

When I used to Blog for the Austin American Statesman, I regularly posted practices. Lately I’ve been getting a lot of requests for practices. So, here’s one I hope you’ll enjoy.

Wm up:
600 (200 free, 200 free drill [2 right arm, 3 over, 2 left arm], 200 free.)

66 2/3 kick (naked feet) right into 66 2/3 swim*, 5 rest
66 2/3 kick (naked feet) right into 133 1/3 swim, 5 rest
66 2/3 kick (naked feet) right into 200 swim, 5 rest
66 2/3 kick (naked feet) right into 266 2/3 swim**

* hold a good pace throughout the set
** feel free to substitute 50s for 66 2/3. We did this practice in a 33 1/3 yd pool.

8 x 4 laps (133 1/3) on an interval that gives you approximately 15 rest: #s 1 and 5 IM; #s 2,4,6, and 8 free; #s 3 and 7 broken IMs with 5 sec rest after each lap.

12 x 33 1/3 w/5 bobs rest: mix in 2 of each of fly, back, and breast. The last two should be easy free.

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Diminishing Performance

Okay, it was almost three weeks ago that I read it, but maybe it has taken me this long to comment on it because of how shockingly inane it is.  I came very close to immediately canceling my subscription.

It is titled, “Celebrating the merits of being average.”  At the risk of sounding unkind, I think it should have been called, “Celebrating the merits of idiotic ideas.”

My first reaction was that the author, Judson Edwards, didn’t do the math.  He seemed to be clueless as to where his ideas were likely to lead – as if, except for in swimming and, okay, some other endeavors, the U.S. isn’t moving quickly down the ladder of world rankings at increasingly greater speeds.

What editor decided to put this drivel in the paper?  It more properly belonged on the

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Reflecting on FINA World Championships

I enjoyed watching some great swimming from the FINA World Championships. But, I still struggle with what I think about the whole thing. I marvel at how big, powerful, and well-trained are most of these world-class swimmers, but I must confess, I’m not convinced there isn’t a lot of PED use that’s been going on. And, I’m appalled that some have been caught and let back into the sport.

I’m equally (or maybe more) appalled that FINA and the IOC let Cameron van der Burg compete. He should have been banned for life and made to forfeit his Olympic Gold Medal after, not only admitting, but bragging that he cheated in the Olympic Final. It seems to me there are rules in place for sanctioning those who bring so much disrepute to the sport. In fact, the Code of Conduct in the FINA Bylaws exists in part, “to sanction incidents, which damage the image of FINA activities or bing them into disrepute.” These sanctions can include suspension or expulsion.

Which holds FINA up to ridicule and brings greater disrepute to FINA activities: bragging about winning Olympic Gold by intentionally cheating (supposedly because others were likely to cheat) or FINA doing nothing about it?

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