Friday, August 20, 2010

2010 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships

As I am not in Irvine, CA and just reading the results from the live results site (, nor do I have anyone on the team, I can only provide my thoughts on the events with this disclaimer: THESE ARE MY OPINIONS ONLY AND MAY DO NOT REFLECT THE VIEWS OF ANY OTHER COACHES OR COACHING BODIES, SWIM CANADA, SWIM ONTARIO OR THE HALTON HILLS BLUE FINS.

If the Pan Pacific Games are to be a measuring tool as to where Swim Canada stands in the world, I am very concerned. Not only are there many events where we did not make a single "A" final (Men only had 2 A finals on the first day out of 5 swims and a full athletic roster), but there are very few events where we had a top 5 finish. More troubling is that the rules of this meet lead to misleading results for those top 8 finishes. According to the meet handbook... (

"Each country may enter an unlimited number of swimmers in the heats in each event. In events when A and B Finals are conducted, only two (2) swimmers per nation shall be allowed to qualify for the A Finals. When one nation has qualified more than two (2) swimmers for an A final event, only the fastest two (2) swimmers (after scratches) shall advance. If a country has two (2) athletes in the A Final, that country may only qualify one (1) additional athlete to the B Final. If the country has only one (1) athlete in the A Final, that country may have up to two (2) athletes in the B Final. Example;

In the 100 Backstroke, Country XYZ has athletes qualify 1st, 2nd, 4th and 7th in the morn-ing heats. For the finals, the athletes who qualified 1st and 2nd will swim in the A Final. The athlete who qualified 4th will swim in the B Final, and the athlete who qualified 7th will not swim in either the A or B Finals."

...So in 8 specific cases (upon quick examination), a Canadian Athlete only made the "A" final because a faster athlete from another country was bumped down to the "B" final. In the case of Charles Francis of C.N. Piscine du Parc Olympique, the only reason he made the "A" final is because world record holder Aaron Piersol was the 3rd fastest American in the morning and was bumped to the "B" final.

I understand that the rules of the meet are there for a reason and that Aaron Piersol should have been faster in the morning, but that is not my point. My point is that in 2012 in London, USA is strongly contending to finish Gold, Silver and Bronze in 200BK and Canada may finish 8th if these results are the indication that Swim Canada say they are. BUT, Swim Canada will push the fact that we're finishing 8th in a World Class meet.

I understand that the purpose of that rule is to allow for smaller countries (Chile) to compete with much larger countries (USA). The point of this rule is not lost on me.

I also understand that the goal is not to have our athletes to peak NOW. But if they're not even close to their best times now, AND their best times aren't even top 8 at this meet with only 11 teams, AND the top 8 at this meet are skewed because of the "bump down rule", what realistic chance do we stand in 2012?

What I DON'T understand is why Brent Hayden is the most celebrated Canadian swimmer when (in my humble opinion) Ryan Cochrane is by far the better bet to medal in 2012. He is way more consistent, much better ranked and improving at a much better rate than Hayden is. He is also 5 years younger. Hayden is probably a great guy and I have nothing against him (except for his foolish decision to pull out from the 200FR semi-final to focus on the 4x100FR relay which was poised to finish 5th at best... he was 3rd going into in the semi-final of the 200FR... I don't get it). When will Swim Canada give this guy top billing?? What does he have to do; scratch an event at the Olympics that he is poised to medal in??

Anyway, congrats to everyone who made the Canadian PanPac team and the Jnr PanPac team. I think that it is likely going down as a great experience and a stepping stone for those athletes who will be competing in London in 2012. My comments are not meant to be mean or to create panic; but my call is to all of the Canadian Swimmers reading this blog (Especially Blue Fins swimmers):

STEP UP YOUR GAME! Do something every day to be better so we can be a faster nation of swimmers. Streamline off of every wall as well as you can. Be a leader and challenge the swimmers around you. Get better at kick. Learn how fast you'll need to go to be the Nation's best in your age group. Challenge the best in your club. CHALLENGE the best in the country. Ya, we're breaking Canadian records, but those records are still a good 6 seconds off of the world record mark. EVERYONE needs to be better and it starts at the grass roots. YOU are responsible for the next generation of Canada's National Team. Take it seriously!

Watch the PanPac finals live on TV:

August 21st-NBC broadcast 4:00-6:00pm ET

August 22nd-NBC broadcast 5:00-6:00pm ET

Visit for videos of races and live webcast.

We start in a few weeks and have a lot of work to do. Don't forget your responsibility.

Mike Thompson
Head Coach