Thursday, 4 November 2010
Janet Evans Returns for 2012. Wait. What?
Another normal day in the swimming world. The Moscow World Cup wrapped up, next stop Stockholm, some more top US swimmers commit to their future universities, Janet Evans is coming out of retirement.
*Choke* Sorry, what was that last one?
Janet Evans, the greatest female distance swimmer ever, is rumoured to be coming out of retirement.
Assuming this happens, some thoughts:-
1.) Evans had an extremely distinguished and LONG career. She won international medals between the years 1987 and 1994. She also competed in the 1996 Olympics, where she finished 6th. That is 9 years competing at the very top
2.) Evans has been out of swimming for, wait for it, 14 YEARS! Natalie Coughlin is considered to have 'made a comeback' after 2 years out of the sport.
3.) As swimmers get older, the tendency is to drop down in distance. The training focus moves from quantity towards quality. An 800m swimmer will often end up in the 200m/400m towards the end of their career. Evans, who remains the third fastest 800m Freestyler, and fourth fastest 1500m Freestyler in history, no longer has that huge base behind her... even if she has continued to swim regularly, a move down in distance might come naturally to her.
4.) Evans reached the very top of the sport, well ahead of her time. She has won everything there is to win in swimming. Apart from the obvious financial benefits, what more is there to acheive?
5.) Evans WAS ahead of her time. Right up until 2006 Evans remained in a class of her own, then came Manaudou, Ziegler, Adlington, Pellegrini etc. The current crop of distance freestylers are the best they have been for years. The depth is incredible. Evans would not only need to be at her best, she would need to be better. At 40, that's asking a lot.
5.) If the goal is to reach the 2012 Olympics, the domestic competition will be fierce. Katie Hoff, Chloe Sutton, Kate Ziegler, Allison Schmitt are all established stars and all potential Olympic medalists. Youngsters such as Dagny Knuton and Chelsea Chenault are on the up too.
6.) The only sensible reasoning behind this comeback would be a) financial gain, which if even moderately successful on her return, would be plentiful b) she misses the thrill of competition, c) it brings her back into the media spotlight for a few more years.
7.) Finally, sit back and enjoy a clip of Evans from Seoul 88. She has a stroke that no coach would suggest to their swimmer, it is beautiful and fluid from the side on, and inelegant and choppy from above. Looks like a perfect open water stroke to me.