Monday, August 27, 2012

New #coachmikepodcast

As promised, a brand new #coachmikepodcast featuring a Canadian Team wrap up from Junior Pan Pacs with Ken McKinnon. Click here to download or stream for free.

Another Guest Post

Matthew Swanston of the Newmarket Stingrays and Stanford is today's guest contributor. You may remember Matthew from my interview with his around a year ago. Matthew and I were discussing this topic at Senior Nationals this summer and I encouraged him to put his thoughts in writing. The result is something that I whole-heartedly agree with!
The Problematic Minimalist Mindset

By Matthew Swanston


There’s a lot less competition in that event. I’d be better off training for that.


I’ve been guilty of thinking this myself, and I’m not the only one. It’s natural for swimmers. The endearing possibility of qualifying for a travel team encourages us to compare ourselves to our competitors in multiple events, to figure out what our best chances are. Based on the selection criteria and the depth of competition, there will inevitably be gaps, events where it might be a little easier to squeak onto the team. Some swimmers have the attitude that they’re only good at one event, so the prospect of branching out is null. But for those willing to perform in multiple strokes and distances, it’s efficient to figure out which events are weakest.


This process happens at every level. Age group swimmers gauge the easiest way to qualify for a training camp the same way national team members evaluate their best shot at making the Olympics. Maybe it’s swimming freestyle instead of butterfly because there are more relay spots, or jumping up to the 200 instead of the 100 in a given stroke because there’s less competition. For the individual, it makes total sense. We have world-class swimmers in Canada; Ryan Cochrane makes it awfully hard for other milers to qualify for national teams, so anyone training to swim the 1500 may be encouraged to find a shorter event. Since there’s not too much depth in Canadian Swimming, this is achievable. The mile is just an example, but in general swimmers are intrigued by events that are easier to make teams in, even if it’s not their best.


As I said earlier, I’ve been guilty of having this outlook. Of course I gravitate towards the 200 backstroke, my best event, but at times I wonder if I would do better in Canada in a different race. The 200 back and the 100 fly are next to each other in the national lineup. I can’t do them both, but in the past I’ve considered swimming the 100 fly rather than my best event because there’s arguably less competition in butterfly. I’ll repeat that it makes logical sense for swimmers to consider their options in this manner. One could also argue that it equalizes the depth over all events. However, if I did give up the 200 back and qualified to swim the 100 fly internationally, would I be doing any good for Canada?


I discussed the implications of this attitude with my teammate Lindsay Seemann over coffee, and we came to realize this minimalist mindset is hurting Canadian swimming. To give credit where it’s due, it was Lindsay who pointed out that while it may benefit the individual to find the easiest path to winning or making a travel team, the country suffers as a result. In Canada, it’s possible for a swimmer to stop focusing on his or her best event in exchange for a better shot at the podium, whereas this can’t happen as much in swimming powerhouses like the United States. Even though Phelps and Clary made it hard for Americans to qualify for the Olympics in the 200 fly, if the 200 fly was your best event you had to stick with it because there’s a lot more depth across the board. Switching to a weaker event and being more successful is unlikely in the US. This fosters a different attitude; to qualify for teams, the only option for Americans at all levels is to train hard to make it to the top of their event, rather than taking an easier path. For them, there is no easier path.


When Canadians drop their best event to focus on a weaker one, Canadian swimming falls short of its collective potential. Let’s invent an example. Suppose the 200 breaststroke is your best event but it is incredibly stacked in Canada. If the 100 breaststroke has less competition, you may decide to focus on that event instead. It makes sense, but this mindset is minimalistic and undermining. Minimalism is an attitude of doing the least possible and getting away with it. Rather than figuring out how to overcome the best 200 breaststrokers, you’d be figuring out how to achieve success without putting in extra work. It’s this fundamental attitude that distinguishes many Canadian swimmers from American swimmers. The difference is the availability of an easier road.


Canadians need to remind themselves that the best are still human. They can be beaten. If all Canadian male swimmers stopped swimming the 1500 because Ryan Cochrane is too good, then he may be less motivated on a day-to-day basis because there is less threat of getting beaten at home. Swimmers at the top are not invulnerable; they keep an eye over their shoulder. More competition in an event means more motivation, and this fuels overall improvement in Canadian swimming. To raise the bar, it would be ideal for everyone to work really hard at the events they’re best at. Even if certain events become stacked and others are weak, Canadian swimming would still perform better. Rather than wasting talent on filling weaker events, this beat-the-best attitude would thrust Canadian swimming to greater success at the international level. We know that there’s no easy road at the Olympics, so why practice it within our own borders?


What we’re left with is an interesting dilemma involving conflict of interest. If there’s a weak event in Canada, there’s an incentive for swimmers to focus on that event rather than their best event. All I can say is, the best can be beaten. Even if it seems your event is too competitive, set your goals high, and fight for the top of the podium. One day you may find yourself there, and Canada will thank you.

5 Medals for Canada on the Sunday of Junior Pan Pacs

Here is the medal round up for Sunday night finals:

GOLD for Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson (Ottawa, ON) in 200IM. Time of 2:12.93 which breaks Erika's own National Age Group Record. Stellar swim: check it out on yesterday's finals here.

GOLD and SILVER for Canada in women's 200BR for Kierra Smith and Mariya Chekanovych of BC. These girls were in the same position in the 100BR, but more importantly, best time for both girls and both were under the Junior Pan Pac meet record (which now belongs to Smith 2:25.78 - 4th Fastest in Canadian history). Again, proving the Canadian women's breaststroke is world class.

SILVER for William Brothers (Island Swimming) in the mens 800FR. William medaled in the 1500 earlier in the meet and broke 8min for the first time in the 800 last night, while finishing 2nd. Matthew Levings of Australia fininshed 1st and broke the meet record, but William was less than a second off of the old meet record.

SILVER for Canadian Women in 4x100 Medley Relay (PICKREM SMITH, THOMAS, CHAN). Not a surprise at all. Canadian Women are swimming great - there are 2 gold medalists on this relay team alone. Congrats to them!

Of note were the following:
  • Japanese Breaststroker, Akihiro Yamaguchi, claimed to have been going for the world record last night in the 200BR... sounds strange until you see that he posted a blisteringly fast 2:08.03 - a time that would have won him a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics in London only weeks ago.
  • Evan White of Oakville, ON, quietly having a great swim in the mens 200IM (2:04.50).
  • Canadian Men's relay team missing the podium buy about 3 tenths of second. Great Race!
  • USA's Becca Mann KILLING the competition in the women's 1500FR, winning by almost 15 whole seconds (16:11.98) and breaking the meet record by 6 seconds and change. This girl is unbelievable!
Don't forget, you can see all of the finals on USA Swimming's YouTube page. I encourage you all to take some time to watch. This is WORLD CLASS swimming that (for whatever reason) was largely ignored. In case you missed it, Canada wasn't on the podium enough and finished 4th. Expose yourself to fast swimming - make it normal - bring it to the pool as much as you can - then bring it to a meet. Change the sport here at home and help make it better! That's your homework assignment.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

2 More Medals for Canada on Saturday of Junior Pan Pacs

Noemie Thomas of Vancouver won gold in the women's 100FLY last night in Hawaii. Noemie's time (59.02) was almost a half second slower than her prelim swim of 58.68 which was the 3rd fastest time in Canadian history (2nd fastest is 58.67) and was a Junior Pan Pacs meet record. I, for one, am pretty excited about this 16 year old's future in Canadian swimming, given the fact that she is quickly closing in on the Canadian Record and winning internationally as a junior. Congrats to her and Tom Rushton, her coach. Edward Liu of TSC finished 7th in the mens 100FLY for the Canadian Men and Brayden Salmon of LAC finished 8th.

The other medal came in the women's 4x100FR relay where our women PAMMETT, CHAN, SELTENREICH-HODGSON, KREMER) won bronze. Aside from these 2 medals, Canada fell short of the podium a few more times with Alexandra Aitchison finishing 4th in 400FR and Will Brothers and Aly Abdel-Khalik finishing 6th and 7th on the guys side. Sydney Pickrem finished 4th in Women's 200BK, missing the podium by a quarter of a second, while Cynthia Pammett was 8th (as was Dimitar Ivanov on the men's side).

The Men's 4x100FR (ARAFA, ABDEL-KHALIK,GILCHRIST, MILOSEVIC) finished 4th, about 2.3 seconds out of 3rd. It should be noted, however (especially if Swim Ontario is looking for bright spots) that 3/4 of this relay were Ontario swimmers (Arafa - OAK, Abdel-Khalik - ESWIM and Gilchrst - AJAX). This is a pretty exciting prospect when one consider's Swim Ontario Head, John Vadeika's goal of international gold medals being produced in Ontario.

Canada remains locked in 4th with 1 more day to go.
Live results can be found here.
STREAMING LIVE VIDEO for finals and prelims can be found here.

I am hoping to have an episode of #coachmikepodcast up for Monday featuring an interview with Canadian Junior Coach, Ken McKinnon. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Canada goes 1-2 in Womens 100BR at Junior Pan Pacs

Swimming Canada beat me to the punch this morning. Well played, sirs!

Kierra Smith of Kelowna BC and Mariya Chekanovych of Burnaby, B.C finished strongly 1-2 in the womens 100BR last night at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii. This should not come as a shock to many, as Canadian Women's breaststroke is very strong on the world stage. Smith, who won Nationals in July and was a finalist at Olympic Trials in March, posted the fastest prelim time in the moring. Chekanovych was well out of the top 3 in prelims and said she did not expect a medal. Her best event is yet to come in the 200BR.  Both girls had best times in the 100BR last night.

Hopefully Canada can see a 1-2 repeat in the womens 200BR because they need the points. Sitting in 4th place right now, Canada only managed to gain another bronze in the Mens 4x200FR relay (MILOSEVIC, ABDEL-KHALIK, GILCHRIST, KALP). Althought the splits were quite quick on this relay, Canada was still almost 5 seconds out of 2nd.

Shockingly, Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson of Ottawa was bumped out of medal position in the 400IM with a time of 4:43.97, only 0.18 seconds slower than the time that earned her a medal on the Mare Nostrum tour in May; Breanne Siwicki of Winnipeg was sixth in the 400 IM.

Canada was fourth in the 4X200FR relay with Chan, Sydney Pickrem of Halifax and Alexandra Aitchison and Lili Margitai, both of Edmonton while Victoria Chan of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Paige Kremer of Edmonton were fifth and seventh in the 100FR.

Jonathan Naisby of Quebec., was 4th in the Mens 100BR missing the podium by only 0.03 seconds while BC's William Brothers and Luke Reilly were 5th and 6th in the 400 IM.  Omar Arafa (OAK) and Robert Gilchrist (AJAX) were 6thand 8th in the 100FR.

Video from yesterday's final session can be found here.

Live results can be found here.
STREAMING LIVE VIDEO for finals and prelims can be found here.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Swimming on TV

UPDATE: USA Swimming has launched a YouTube page with all of the races from Junior Pan Pacs. Check it out here.

Unless you like the Tonight Show, you likely missed American Olympic Champion in the 100FR,  Video below (shout out to Brent Hayden who appears in the video clip).

Canada Wins Bronze Medal on Day 1 of Junior Pan Pacs in Hawaii

Picture courtesy of Suzanne Paulins of BRANT

William Brother is Island Swimming was the lone Canadian on the podium in Hawaii yesterday as he posted a very significant best time of 15:17.10 for the mens 1500FR. This is the 7th fastest time in Canadian History and a pretty solid start to the meet for Canada, although they struggled to meet the podium.

Victoria Chan of Richmond Hill, ON was 5th in 200FR in 2:01.59 - just .04 seconds slower than her best from last summer. On the mens side, Aly Abdel-Khalik of ESWIM and Stefan Milosevic of HYAC were 6th and 8th respectively.

Womens 100BK saw former Whitby Dolphin, Kristina Steins and TRENT swim club's (now swimming at Indiana University) Cynthia Pammett finishing 7th and 8th. A bright spot for the men was Jack Conger of the USA breaking world record holder - Aaron Piersol's NAG record and the meet record in the 100BK with a great time of 54.07. Canada's Omar Arafa (OAK) was 5th, getting his time back down to 56.20.

Noemie Thomas missed the podium in the 200FLY - finishing 4th in 2:11.89. This was a significant best time for Noemie (Vancouver Dolphins) who is quickly approaching Katherine Savard's NAG.
In mens 200FLY, Brayden Salmon of the London Aquatic Club continued his rebound from serious illness earlier this season, finishing 6th with a best time of 2:01.40. Oakville's Evan White, who finished 8th, also took off significant time to finish in 2:03.26.

The events continue all weekend. Live results can be found HERE. Swim Canada and Swim Ontario do not seem to be covering this meet for some reason so I'll gladly pick up the slack. Check back here for daily Canadian recaps.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Junior Pan Pacs in Hawaii

Junior Pan Pacs kick off today in Hawaii (although there is no mention of it on the Swim Canada or Swim Ontario sites as of this morning). 

Canada's roster can be found here.
Psych Sheets can be found here.
Live results from the meet can be found here.
A good games preview can be found with my good friends over at here.

There is bound to be some great competition at this meet with tough swimmers like Becca Mann of USA Swimming, who will be doing a very tough schedule:

  • For the women, Becca Mann is going to attempt an unreal, Mireia-Belmonte-esque schedule. The 14-year old National Age Group Record holder made three finals at the Olympic Trials, and now will attempt the 5 most physically-challenging events on the Olympic schedule: the 200 fly, the 400 free, the 400 IM, and the 800 free in the pool. Just  for good measure, after those four races in four days, she’ll jump into the open water, 10km swim on Monday.
Ya its going to be tough, but she works hard and enjoys making you all look bad when you refuse to swim 200fly and 200IM in the same session. Mann up, everyone!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Links of thr day with Jocelyn Jay

  • Focus and emotional intelligence are big words for those representing their countries as ambassadors for their sport!

  • A good underwater kicking drill.  Short bursts working on fast kicks!

  • A great little vid of Katie Ledecky and the support she had to win GOLD at 15!!! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Day That Canada Got It Wrong

Many of you that follow me on Twitter probably already read many of my thoughts regarding Canada's Flag Bearer during the closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics on Sunday, and I apologize for not getting this post up sooner... I was taking a few days off in a place that has no internet... But I still think that this needs to be examined: Christine Sinclair as the flag bearer? Really..???

Before I go on, I should specify that I have nothing against Christine Sinclair or Canada or Women or Soccer or Canadian Women's Soccer, I simply think that choosing Sinclair as the flag bearer was a mistake. I also want to remind my readers that these are professional, dedicated athletes we're talking about, not 12 year old kids playing for fun. Olympic athletes have dedicated themselves to excellence and they're tougher than your average 12 year olds playing for fun. They don't need to be coddled; please do not project your own feelings into this ("How would I feel in this situation") because your feelings are irrelevant and those feelings are part of the problem.

I believe that the media attention obtained by the Canadian Women's soccer game leading into the end of the 2012 Olympics blinded Canadian Olympic Committee as to what was truly important. Thus, they ignored the ONLY CANADIAN to get a Gold Medal at the Games, Rosie MacLennan, and awarded a team member of the Bronze Medal winning Soccer team the honor. Hold on to your hats, this is likely the only time I'll ever come to the defence of Canadian Trampoline. Here's why:

  1. Ever hear of "Own The Podium"?: Own the Podium is a Canadian program put together to ensure podium performances at the Olympic level. Their goal in the 2012 Olympics was to finish top 12. We finished 13th (pause for crickets). If any one of you reading this thinks to themselves "Not bad, I guess..." give your heads a shake; you are part of this problem. We spend millions of dollars on this program. Our focus should be GOLD, not Silver or Bronze!! When you fail (13th instead of 12th IS a failure in this regard, BTW), you look at the positives such as the single Canadian to win a gold medal. Rosie should have been the face of these games!
  2. The message we sent to the world: Can you name another country that over looked a Gold medal winner and gave the Flag Bearing Honour to a Bronze Medal winner? You think that Lochte would be able to cary the American Flag instead of Phelps because Ryan got out-touched for a medal in 200FR (there was no Bronze given out)? You think they'd do that to make him feel good? Even after the big news that they Women's Soccer Team was "robbed" of the Gold Medal (which they hadn't won yet), that entitles them to the honour over the only Canadian Gold Medal winner? Last I checked the Olympics about winning.
  3. A bronze is a bronze... or maybe not: Here is where I get pretty annoyed... How do you value one Bronze medal over another? How do you say that the Women's Soccer Team Bronze was a bigger "step up" performance than Richard Weinberger's Bronze or Brent Hayden's Bronze or any Diver's Bronze... or how about Ryan Cochrane's Silver or anyone else's silver... or Rossie MacLennan's Gold? If this was a sympathy pick, Ryan was kicked out of the 400FR earlier in the meet for an officials error and came back to win Silver in the 1500FR... not going to count that one? To early in the games?
  4. Canadian mind set: I feel like, to Canada, the Olympics are more about participation than winning. Many age group athletes will tell you that they want to "Make it to the Olympics" rather than medal at the Olympics. Also, Canadians want to see people try their best and console them when we fail.  In the words of 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist, Anne Ottenbrite-Muylaert - "I agree with you Mike, it takes along time to get this out of Canadian mind set! Remember Kurt Browning falling and Canadians sent him their gold and melted it into a gold medal, while we had a silver medalist that got ignored!! We got to snap out of this if we want to see more GOLDS!"  - Right now, I believe we owe the other medalists an apology.
  5. I couldn't help but notice the number of BRONZE medals Canada won: We just told everyone that winning bronze is not only okay; but as long as controversy goes with it, we'll treat you like royalty. Don't believe me? Watch the next 4 years. I feel awful for Rosie right now!
  6. At least someone values Gold: This is what I'm talking about, countries like Great Britain and Australia who are outraged that they didn't have MORE golds. GB is holding an inquiry to find out why they didn't achieve more excellence even though they had 23 swims in top 8 finals.... more than they have ever had... so even though they are better and deeper than they have ever been, they're annoyed that they're not better. THATS the kind of Olympic Committee I want to see! I don't want the one reviling on a controversial Bronze, I want them to celebrate Gold and want more.
Every 4 years this happens... a key difference this year was that CTV covered the Olympics rather than CBC and I found a much more positive media crew (except for Rod Black) as a result. The media routinely sets up Team Canada for big things and they didn't quite reach them. Instead of making them feel crappy like we usually do, we hugged them and told them that we love them anyway, which is much greater than raking them across the coals in the newspapers. I believe that the athletes, in general, feel much better about representing Canada for this... however, I don't want athletes just representing Canada: I want them WINNING for Canada.

I feel bad for the Canadian Women's Soccer Team and that an official made an unfortunate call. I feel bad that we will never know if they could have won Gold. I think they played pretty well in the Bronze medal game and deserve that medal. Congrats to Christine Sinclair for playing so well and scoring so many goals. I just think that there were better Canadian performances and stories in the 2012 London Olympics that deserved the flag bearing honour more.

In Rosie's case, I feel awful for her. I don't particularly care for Trampoline (or any judged sport, really) and dealt with many Tweets and emails about how she only won because someone else slipped. Here's what I do know about Trampoline: Rosie's routine was the highest degree of difficulty and she didn't need that girl to slip; she already had it won. The fact that people are making excuses about why she won our only gold really bothers me! Trampoline is not sexy enough or exciting enough and not popular enough to get the spotlight... which is sad because it was our only performance that had the proper colour associated with it: GOLD. The Canadian Olympic Committee misinterpreted the point of the honour by allowing Christine Sinclair bear our flag on Sunday and sent a clear message about the value of Gold in Canada.

Basically it comes down to this: we don't want Gold bad enough in this country. We want drama and people hugging and happy and smiling, but we can have both! We can have gold medalists smiling and laughing and hugging... but we have to value them first. Sending the clear message to Rosie MacLennan that we valued the Canadian Women's Soccer performance over hers was a slight to her, her sport and her medal. We simply don't value it and we get what we deserve in that respect.

Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants

With the 2011-2012 season in the books, I think it is important to officially thank 2 great teams that help the Halton Hills Blue Fins out quite a bit.

The Oakville Aquatic Club and Coaches Sean Baker, Cathy Pardy and Laura Nichols are not only good friends of mine but are also good mentors for all coaches. They have been very helpful and selfless when it comes to supporting teams that they think could be great. Oakville has helped HHBF in terms of travel with Eastern Canadian Championships, Olympic Trials and Canadian Age Group Championships this season and helped us with some pool time problems that, otherwise, would have kept our athletes dry for key periods of time... all of which helped our athletes in a number of ways: 

1.) Kept the cost down on travel meets.
2.) Helped socialize the HHBF athletes to things outside of their club.
3.) Helped our athletes be a part of a larger team travel experience.
4.) Gave our athletes a variety of coaching experiences.
5.) Helped our coaches in an unlimited capacity both away and at home.

The other team that has been unbelievably helpful has been the Newmarket Stingrays and Head Coach, Alan Swanston and assistant coach Ulf Ornhjelm (who I consider 2 of the best coaches in Canada). I used to swim for Newmarket and Alan back in the 90's so we know each other quite well. Alan has helped me out, personally, and is a wonderful mentor. They have allowed HHBF to travel with the them a few times now (most recently to Edmonton for Senior Nats). Again, this type of help assisted in the above ways, and HHBF is miles better as a result.

I do not think that anyone can do anything alone and I thank both the Newmarket Stingrays and The Oakville Aquatic Club for all of their help. I also commend them for taking an interest in helping a smaller club and seeing the benefit of helping smaller teams get better; they both clearly see the value in that. Thank you, guys!

While we're at it: the name of this post is also the name of my favourite Oasis album, so please enjoy the best song from it:

Update: I have gotten a few Twitter & Facebook messages and emails that there is a type-o in the title of this post... It is an Oasis reference.
From Wikidpedia -  The album's title was taken from the words made famous by Sir Isaac Newton: "If I can see further than anyone else, it is only because I am standing on the shoulders of giants". Noel Gallagher saw the quote on the side of a £2 coin while in a pub and liked it so much he thought it would be a suitable name for Oasis' new album. He then wrote the name on the side of a cigarette packet while drunk. When he awoke in the morning, he realised he had written "Standing on the Shoulder of Giants".[5]

Links of the day w/ Jocelyn Jay

Brent Hayden & Ryan Lochte's celebration at Canada House..

That's a wrap - until we hit Rio!!
Soft hands on butterfly entry ---
A great article about keeping thiings in perspective as a parent... 11 Ways you become a better parent when your kid plays sports

Friday, August 10, 2012

Congratulations to Richard Weinberger!

Congratulations to Richard Weinberger of Victoria, BC and his coach, Ron Jacks for winning an Olympic bronze medal to day in the Mens 10KM race. This was the first Olympic 10KM in history so this is kind of a big deal.

This Olympics saw all of the medalists hail from BC and all in freestyle events and 2 of the 3 in distance events, interestingly enough. My hope is that, when any evaluation is done on Canadian and Ontario swimming, we can look at the success that BC (none of theses athletes were BC Centre imports) is having and figure out how we can replicate that across the country. Do we need to reinvent the wheel? Maybe in BK, BR, FLY and IM... 

Anyway, a hardy congrats to Richard and to Gold medalist, Ous Mellouli (who now has Olympic Gold Medals in the pool and in open water ... and also knows who you are, HHBF).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

An interesting progression through history in the men's 100 freestyle.
"Understand “doubt” is just the recognition of “uncertainty.” Nothing more. The truth is uncertainty is ever present and only has the level of impact on our lives that we allow it to have."
"Raising successful children"...Overparenting undermines problem-solving skills - teach kids, but let them fail, and praising children’s talents and abilities seems to rattle their confidence, and takes away motivation.
In watching many Olympians fall short of their dreams, we realize, and Adam Kreek says it best, "there is more to life than sports!"

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Things We Need To Do Better

Here are 5 things that we should have learned from 2008 but, I feel, have failed to demonstrate adaptation...

1.) Many races were won and lost underwater. I often hear coaches talk about 5 or 6 or 7 kicks underwater on all sets, but what we saw in 2008 (and saw the winning athletes do really well in 2012) is kick really fast and powerfully. Practicing fast kicking is key... getting in slow kicks only helps your ability to hold your breath and control exhale rate. FAST kicks have to be practiced all the time; not just when you feel like it.

2.) Breathing in and out of walls and double breaths (one once to each side of your body successively) is NEVER seen on a world level, but an alarming thing that I'm seeing at all levels of competition... even now at Senior Nationals. We're not going to win with a base like that.

3.) Warmdown is so important to clear lactate and allow your body to maximize performance later. The TV cameras showed Missy Franklin and Ryan Lochte warming down when they only had 20min between races at finals. Some people found this comical, but it was a very important thing to show, especially for younger kids. Refer to my write up on the 2011 Indianapolis Grand Prix and how many of the Ontario Athletes took this seriously. Warm down is a part of winning and we all need to learn how to do it without being distracted. This an extra 1% that is a gimme if we'd just do it properly. 

4.) Multiple events are possible, and scratching one to focus on another is not neccessary. It's not easy, but it's doable - Just ask 17 year old Missy Franklin. We need the toughness to be able to do more than one great event in a session (especially since Age Group Sessions are approaching 5 hours in length now).

5.) Swimming is the most watched sport in the Olympics and people watch it because it's exciting. We need to make our championship meets more exciting. I love what the Hickin meet did this year and I the larger level meets (Provincials, Age Group Champs, Senior Nats) need to make the meets more of a spectacle. Michael Phelps made the sport exciting but his presence will soon evaporate and new swimmers (in 4 years) wont know who he is. We need to keep this sport exciting and fun. I'm about to be a swim parent... entertain me. 

2012 Olympic Swimming Retrospect

What can be said for Swimming in the 2012 Olympics but that it was completely unpredictable and full of upsets (depending on who's perspective, I guess). I reference everyone back to my piece on Canadian Olympic Trials in March/April and why we love sports so much - and to steal one of my own quotes - "I feel more alive experiencing the onslaught emotions that I had last week (excitement, fear, happiness, empathy, disappointment and elation). I felt like I was somehow involved in everyone of those races and everyone of those story lines even though none of them had anything to do with me at all. I bet a lot of you felt the same way."
I was totally engrossed in the swimming coverage (when I wasn't stuck at the Talisman Centre in Calgary without the ability to watch). Here are some of the notes that I kept during the meet:

1.) Michael Phelps Vs. Ryan Lochte: 
Michael Phelps is one hell of an athlete. This seems like a no-brainer, but clearly it isn't. Winning 8 Gold Medals in the 2008 Games was not easy and he almost didn't do it twice. It seems insulting to me that USA Swimming made the assertion that Lochte and Missy Franklin were the new Phelps. 
What made Phelp's achievement so spectacular (and the reason why no one else has ever done it) was that he won 8 events against an onslaught of the best athletes from every country around the world in all different disciplines, breaking world records along the way. This isn't something you attempt on a long shot; he was showing that he was the best there ever was in the sport. Now I'm all for breaking barriers, but its a little unrealistic to think that every good swimmer will be good at literally everything, and it looked like USA Swimming assuming that they had another Michael Phelps in Ryan Lochte. I have a special respect for Ryan; he is a spectacular swimmer and extremely fan friendly... but he is no Michael Phelps. Lochte was recently quoted as saying that his rivalry with Phelps is the "greatest in history" (which I think is him trying desperately to cling to Phelps's legacy) ... but I disagree... Phelps is a far superior swimmer; Lochte has a far superior agent. Had Ryan Lochte appeared before or after Michael Phelps's dominance, I'm sure he would be viewed the way he wants to be viewed.

2.) Who needs rules?: 
- Craziness from day 1 when Park was disqualified for a false start and then reinstated an hour later (knocking Ryan Cochrane out of the final). 
- Some controversy over illegal dolphin kicks in the mens 100BR, when Cameron van der Burgh (who broke the world record and won the gold) was caught on camera doing illegal dolphin kicks and admitted to it afterwards with no repercussions. 
- Sun Yang's got a pass on his false start in the mens 1500FR due to "crowd noise" 
- And there is always this gem...
- Much controversy in other sports as well as questionable calls came in through gymnastics and soccer (although, in my opinion, there is always controversy coming from judging in these sports).

3.) Doubt in your mind: Swim Swam was the first website that I saw catch on to this.
Everyone assuming that this woman must be doping in order to swim this fast... but is it possible that the world's most dominant woman IM'er might not speak english or live in the USA? Is it possible that the next Phelps may not be an American Man..?

4.) The rest of the world caught up: I guess that it wasn't assumed that the rest of the world would study Phelps and other top athletes to build athletes to challenge him. I guess that the USA thought they were the only ones that could with Lochte... however, while Lochte was touting himself great and trying for as many events as possible, the rest of the world put up some pretty good swimmers in single events. Phelps was beaten a couple of times but the gap between his world records and the rest of the field was less, which means that the sport is getting faster... and less dominated by the "usual suspects" (USA, RUSSIA, AUSTRALIA).

5.) FRANCE!!!: I remember telling several people 5 or 6 months ago that the French were going to be a huge team this summer. What an Olympics for them! I got a few texts and emails during the games from people saying "who would have thought France was so good"... I hate to say I told you so.

6.) It's hard to survive with a target on your back: Phelps, Lochte, Soni and Franklin all saw this first hand, but there were so many upsets. Good for Ryan Cochrane and Brent Hayden for moving up the ladder. Cochrane, for sure, had a target on his back and good on him for moving up in the standings.

7.) I think there are going to be a few athlete's agents fired after these games... or at least a lot of agents being really nice to their clients.

UPDATE: I'm not sure how many of you saw this episode of Off The Deck that was recorded last week with Tobias Oriwol Live from the London Olympics, but its pretty cool. Check it out.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Congratulations to Ryan Cochrane!

Congrats to Ryan Cochrane on his Olympic silver medal today. Ryan set a new Canadian Record in a time of 14:39.63. Most of you have seen this video as well, but I still think its cool that Olympic Medalists know that your small club exists... they sure didn't 5 years ago. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

So many lessons can be learned in watching the Olympics.,..perseverance being the biggest one!!! ~ 
Casey Barrett, being the devil's advocate... "Judging a Champion by Race" ~
Gotta love this "Call Me Maybe" Phelps Lochte Parody...
"Vivid images are easier to do....and are sticky, so they stick in your mind"...

Congratulations to Brent Hayden!!

A big congrats to Brent Hayden for finally achieving this goal of an Olympic Medal today with a bronze in the 100FR. He's a very nice guy and a great sport... most of you have seen this before, but its even cooler, now that he's an Olympic Bronze Medalist...