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Swim Opinion

Phelps: The Greatest

August 2012 and we have just finished the pool events of what is arguably the most exciting swim meet in recent times. No matter what you’re swimming background it is hard not to get excited about Olympic swimming. I was lucky enough to attend some of the swim sessions, here are some thoughts…

My Olympic opinion…

On Ye Shiwen’s dominating win in the womans 400IM and subsequent speculation… At one point in history walking on the moon was unbelievable. From a swimmers perspective Phelps 8 gold medals in 2008 is also amazing almost unbelievable . Certainly Mary T. Meagher’s amazing World Record 200 fly swim in 1979 was unbelievable (the record stood until 2000). Katie Ledecky’s 800M win at the Olympics is also comparable. If I applied the doubters Ye Shiwen logic to these cases you could also call them frauds, impossible , cheats. All Ye Shiwen is ‘guilty’ of is being associated with a swim program that has historically had drug cheats. Should she be considered guilty by association? Unbelievable things do happen especially at the Olympics.  Unless proven otherwise Ye Shiwen simply had a brilliant swim nothing more. Good on her.

On Michael Phelps …

He has finished this meet with 18 Olympic gold medals, 22 medals total.  London 2012 has shown how tough it is to be dominant in a single event let alone 8. It really puts his career achievements into perspective: The greatest swimmer, ever. Truly amazing; what he has achieved for himself and what he has done for the sport of swimming. Well done MP.

On the basics …

Olympic swimming is a great place to watch and learn. Already we have seen a bad finish cost a World Record and a great finishes (Le Clos beats Phelps 200 Butterfly at the finish, Adrian beats Magnusson 100 Freestyle). Ryan Lochte can go from last position to first position with one great turn. Sun Yang has such a great body position, relaxed and efficient. None of these swimmers learnt these skills overnight. Hours of perfect practice makes a perfect performance.

On staying relaxed …

James Magnusson in the 4 x 100 free relay … Got himself psyched beyond belief for this relay. You could see the effort and we all saw the results. Make sure your energies are channelled, think about technique, entry, catch, pull and rhythm. Focussing on something substantive in your swimming is more important than unleashing pure adrenaline into your system.

On the US swim team and the NCAA collegiate swim scene

The Americans have almost dominated Olympic swimming. They have by far been the best but thankfully there have been victors from other countries, which one of the reasons why this has been such an amazing swim meet. Americans have always had strength in their swim program, why? As a former American collegiate swimmer I know what it is like to experience one of the toughest swim circuits in the world. But for American swimmers it doesn’t start there, even at high school level teams train and compete at a level of intensity not equalled elsewhere. I believe the rest of the world is comparable to the USA as far as training but for competition, race toughness and taking care of business (the Americans by far had the fastest turns) NCAA swimming is the best.

Swim Equality 1500 vs 800… There has been plenty of rumblings about equality of the sexes. The 800 for woman was born from sexism ‘woman aren’t as tough as men’ .  You would be hard pushed to find anyone today who would dare make that argument. I understand the 800 for women wasn’t substituted at this meet for the 1500 in part to give Rebecca Addlington a chance to defend her 800M title in front of the home crowd. But for the future (Rio, 2016) the race may well be replaced with the 1500M. I completely understand those who want equality for the sexes, for those people I ask you this; do the current crop of 800M swimmers actually want to change? What about decades of 800M history? It would mean leaving all the famous names behind Evans, Addlington and now Ledecky and starting again. Is this what we want?

Opinions are purely the authors. Feel free to share yours.

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