Thursday, October 7, 2010

Damn you, Brent Hayden!!

All kidding aside, Brent Hayden made me eat my words today by posting the fastest time of this year in 100FR and being the first man under 48 seconds since the suit ban with a time of 47.98. Hats off to you, sir. Way to make me look foolish. In honor of Mr. Hayden's accomplishment, lets take a close look at this achievment, shall we?

Hayden's previous best was 47.27 set in Rome at 2009's World Championships, just before Canada banned the tech suits, but not before the FINA ban. At that specific time, Hayden's time of 47.27 placed him 4th behind 2 Frenchmen and Brazillian Cesar Cielo, whose time was over a second faster than Hayden's @ 46.91. Cielo, who has called for his own World Record to be abolished since the suits were banned, has not been able to beat 48.48 set at Pan Pacs (where Hayden also beat him).

Cielo isn't the only person to fear here. 100FR is a tight field, however, the closest swimmer to Hayden's time right now is Micheal Phelps, who's time of 48.13 is less than .15 off of his, and fellow American, Nathan Adrian, is only .17 off of his time. After him, the field opens up with people as far away from his time as .25 seconds.

As we have seen, the Americans have treated this season as an off season, with very few of them in top form for Pan Pacs. We are 2 years out of the Olympics and 1 year out of World Championships. The likelihood is that we will see some VERY strong times from Americans (who are not represented at the Commonwealth Games) in the next 2 seasons. Also, we are missing Nikita LOBINTSEV (whose video I posted about a month ago)who hasn't raced since the begining of August and is not even the fastest Russian Freestyler this season. England's Simon Burnett, the defending Games champion, was second in 48.54 and jumped 12 spots in the world rankings to become #10 in the world.

The question is: are we setting Hayden up to fail again? I would say, "yes".

Having someone perform in top form while no one else is, can be extremly misleading. There is a story of an American swim coach that tricked his athletic board by holding dual meets against big football/basketball schools who had terrible swim programs. "Look who we beat," he would claim. "Our team is on the rise". My fear is that putting Hayden on this pedistool is creating false hope in a "Must Be" hero, when Hayden is a "Should Be" hero right now and in danger of a "Should Have Been" status.

Fellow coach and good friend, Tony Cowx, points out to me that the job of the SNC is to pump heros like Hayden and that they should be making a big deal of his season. I agree with this point, but am weary about putting all of our country's eggs in the 27 year old's basket for another 2 years. The media (including myself) really tore him up after the last Olympics, and I don't really think its fair; not his fault that everyone bought stock in him... but I do think that the SNC is doing a fabulous press job with him.

My final thoughts are as follows: Congrats, Brent! Great work and PLEASE keep it up. Next season is going to be tough. Posting worlds best right now is a big deal, but its a little like being over qualified for a regional championship and blowing everyone out of the water... come the big meets, you'll have more formidable opponants knocking at your door. I just hope for your sake that you can deal with it. A year ago, I said that you'll never go 47 again, but you made me eat those words with a great performance in Delhi. You're slowly gaining my confidence, for what its worth.