Tuesday, 30 August 2011

If Ever There Was An Advert For Learning to Swim... And Paying Attention In Class...

... This is it.

PS. Funniest line of the entire video comes at the beginning: Dude 1 - "How is that possible?" Dude 2 - "It's the army, bro".

PPS. I know these guys are doing a hugely brave task in difficult circumstances... but driving a truck through 10 feet deep water was never going to end well.

PPS. As soon as there are some meaningful swimming competitions taking place again, I promise this blog will get back to actual performance swimming content!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Quick, Watch This Before USA Swimming Take It Down

 I don't know what just happened. I was going about my Sunday evening when I happened upon a link that pretty much changed the way I watch swimming forever. No joke. Like Neo in The Matrix, next time I watch a 400m IM, I won't see water and swimmers, I will see streaming green computer code.

The link below is a guide to using various race stats to help swimmers. Brilliantly, it uses Katie Hoff's 400 IM and Rebecca Soni's 200 Breast as case studies. It is stat-heavy, but well worth sticking with if you are swim-geek-inclined. Distance Per Cycle, Turn Time, Tempo Trainer, Cadence, Cycle Count.... there is no going back.

QUICK: There is no way USA Swimming should be handing this stuff out for free. If you are a coach/swimmer/fan... watch this.

This is how the best do it. As anyone who sat in the back of class knows, if you can see what the smartest kid is doing.... COPY IT!

PS. Anyone even thinking of getting into the anti-clockwise Freestyle Fast Lane lane when I go to my next public session... watch out. I am going to be distance-per-cycle-tempo-dougieing-streamline-lengthing all over the place.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Janet Evans Comeback Update (With Video)

We haven't checked in on the Janet Evans comeback story for a while, so here is a treat for you... a video from her recent 800m race at the Southern Pacific Masters meet in California.

Three things I love about this video:

1) The camera angle. We are watching this race as if we are sitting at the end of her lane. Talk about getting up close and personal to the action.
2) She is still sporting her famous windmill style stroke. Hey, it took19 years for someone to break her world record and she still has the 3rd fastest 800m Free time of all-time, why change?
3) The commentator. He manages to make Janet Evans older with every passing comment. She apparently won gold at the 1972 Olympics and was an age grouper in the sixties?!

British Swimming Finds a New Star

Express and Star Water baby Caitlin Morris has caused a sensational splash by swimming unaided across the nine-metre width of a pool – at the age of just two. Caitlin, from Stourport, could swim before she could walk and her doggy-paddle style stroke got her across the width in 47 seconds.

YES! We've done it! Britain has found their very own 'wonderkid'! Step aside Michael Phelps, Ian Thorpe, Missy Franklin etc... Caitlin Morris will soon make you all look like Eric Moussambani. Here is a serious question: Will London 2012 come too soon for Caitlin Morris?

Did anyone else shed a tear when they read 'Caitlin could swim before she could walk'? This is exactly what we should be doing here in Britain. For the record, I 100% agree with this new trend of water-dwelling athletes. It is the future of our sport.

If a major sports agency is not actively trying to sign up Caitlin, then they need to find a new profession. Why? Because Caitlin Morris IS 'Straight Cash, Homey'.

(Thanks to Swimmer's Daily for the video)

Monday, 22 August 2011

Image Quiz: The new London Aquatics Centre or Screenshots from the Michael Phelps swimming game?

Are these images of the new London Aquatics Centre or screenshots from the Michael Phelps swimming game?

Whichever one it is, it looks stunning.

Ian Thorpe Aiming To Improve His 'Perfect Stroke'

It's been a while since the last Ian Thorpe update, so here is your Thorpedo fix. The Aussie superstar and his coach Gennadi Touretski have changed his 'perfect' technique, according to The Australian's Nicole Jeffrey.

Key points:

• Touretski is changing Thorpe's technique to that of a sprinter as opposed to his previous style, which was "perfect for the 400m" according to the Russian coach.

• His technique now looks like a hybrid of his old stroke and that of god the sprint tsar Alex Popov (see below).

• The technical changes - more hip rotation, higher elbows.

• Thorpe is swimming 50km a week as well as doing dry land sessions for strength and conditioning. In a new development, Thorpe will also play tennis twice a week to help Australia's shaky tennis team improve his co-ordination.

• He will swim at November's world cup meets in Singapore, Beijing and Tokyo. He will swim Freestyle races in Singapore and then experiment with other events in Bejing and Tokyo. The move away from Freestyle in Beijing in Tokyo is aimed at racing with freedom and also not to show all his cards too early.

• According to Touretski "I think potentially, with his power and talent, there's no limit on how fast he can swim."

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

London 2012 Marathon Swimming Test Event - Eyewitness Report (Pulitzer Edition)

The things I do for this blog. Last Saturday I should have been chilling out, recovering creatively ahead of another hard week of swim blogging... instead I braved London transport on a weekend and headed down to Hyde Park for the London 2012 Marathon Swimming Test Event. Here is what I learnt, heard and saw (in picture form)

What I learnt

- Melissa Gorman (AUS) is kind of tall...

- Eva Fabian (USA) is kind of short...

- If a swimmer was ever to replace Chuck Norris as the world's toughest guy, Thomas Lurz (GER) is probably your guy on looks alone...

- The setting for this race is incredible. It doesn't get much better than Hyde Park on a normal summer's day, but with the added Olympic buzz thrown in it will be electric...

- You can walk alongside the swimmers for most of the course... or there is seating/standing with commentary and a big video screen. I kind of preferred walking...

- You can't rent a pedalo while the race is happening...

What I heard

I didn't make it into the post-race press conference, so I went in gonzo-style. This was overheard on the walk to the drug testing room with men's winner Richard Weinberger, his coach, two drug testers and a swim blogger walking just a little too close to them to be considered normal:

- Water temperature was great...
- He tries to swim 80k every week...
- The best way to put on weight is to drink McDonald's milkshakes, which are full of protein and calcium...

What I saw

The Setting

Pulitzer Prize Entry 1

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

When Your Reflexes Are Too Fast For Your Own Good

I kind of feel bad for the guy, no way was this his fault, the starter held them way too long.

World Junior Swimming Championships Watchlist

It doesn't matter what sport you follow, there is always one constant. There is nothing quite like seeing new talent coming through. It is human nature to take one performance from a youngster and optimistically project their future development... which is hugely unfair on the kid, but also a lot of fun. We'll get a great chance to do just that during this week's World Junior Swimming Championships (it starts today Start List / Results).

A host of stars have emerged from the first two times this competition took place in 2008 and 2009: including Tyler Clary, Mireia Belmonte, Anastasia Zueva, Camille Muffat, Jemma Lowe, Luca Dotto, Danila Izotov, Elizabeth Pelton and Dagny Knutson.

World Junior Swimming Championships Watchlist

Matthew Johnson is arguably the brightest prospect to come from Britain on the men's side for a generation. He has completely rewritten the British Junior record books since the age of 13 and now gets a chance to challenge himself against the world's best juniors, albeit most of them being a year or two older than him. He is already ranked in the Top 10 in Britain for 400 IM (4:20.87, 7th) and 200 Fly (2:00.46, 9th).

• Australia's Bronte Campbell, USA's Lia Neal and Canada's Chantal Van Landeghem are split by just 0.2 on the girls 100 Free start list. Watch out particularly for Van Landeghem who blasted an incredible 53.76 relay split in Shanghai. Sidenote: How did Dutch swimming let someone with the name Van Landeghem slip from their grasp?

Friday, 12 August 2011

Federica Pellegrini Names Her New Coach

As expected, Federica Pellegrini has named Federico Bonifacenti as her new coach. Bonifacenti was the assistant to Pellegrini's former coach Alberto Castagnetti before he passed away. She will be based in Verona. This marks her third coaching change in the last two years.

Translated (badly) - The technical project that begins today with Bonifacenti is a logical choice. # Thanks to (Philippe) Lucas for the work together. Hello everyone! :-)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Wait... Stanford has TWO 50m pools next to each other?!

This must be photoshopped, right? I mean there is no way that the United Kingdom (pop: 62,000,000) has a grand total of thirty five 50m pools (6 Olympic size), yet Stanford University (15,000 students, 64,000 Palo Alto residents) has two right next to each other....

... don't even get me started on the Music Rehearsal Facility next door.

A look inside the London Aquatics Centre

Nice view from the top of the London Aquatics Centre, not so great if you're afraid of heights.

PS. 0:02 and 0:32 into the video, is that how all Aussies pronounce 'aquatics'?

(Hat tip to The Daily Telegraph and Hollandswimming for the video)

Monday, 8 August 2011

Wanted: A New Coach for Federica Pellegrini

C'est fini. The relationship between Federica Pellegrini and Phillipe Lucas has ended.

The double-double World champion has stated that she will be based at her home in Verona once again, but hasn't decided on who will coach her.

If she stays in Verona then an Italian coach will be the likely candidate - Federico Bonifacenti is the favourite (?...yep, me neither). That all seems a bit too boring, without scandal predictable for Pellegrini. Let's rundown some of the more interesting options for a  temporary or permanent base:

Gennadi Touretski - Swiss National Training Centre, Tenero, Switzerland

Training Partner: Ian Thorpe

This option has the advantage of being close(ish - 270km) to home. Training alongside Thorpe will generate huge amounts of media interest, however the focus on sprint training might not work with her goal of swimming the 800m Free in London. It wouldn't do her chances in the 100/200 Free any harm though...

Michael Bohl - St Peters Western, Brisbane, Australia

Training Partners: Stephanie Rice, Tae Hwan Park, Kenrick Monk, Bronte Barratt, Yolane Kukla, Meagan Nay, Ryan Napoleon.

Pellegrini would walk into a great middle distance Freestyle programme but would have some adapting to do to coexist with so many other major stars. They do love their swimming in Australia though so she wouldn't have any issues with a lack of media interest/commercial possibilities.

Dennis Cotterell - Miami Swimming Club, Gold Coast, Australia

Training Partners: Sun Yang, Jade Neilsen, Thomas Fraser-Holmes, Katie Goldman

If this did happen, what odds would you get on Pellegrini winning the 800 Free in London? Cotterell, the distance maestro, coached both Grant Hackett and Sun Yang to their 1500 Free world records. Jade Neilsen (1:57.20 - 200 Free) represents an ideal training partner for Pellegrini... quick enough to challenge her in training, but not an immediate threat to her 200 Free crown.

Dave Salo - Trojan Swim Club, Southern California, USA

Training Partners: Katinka Hosszu, Yuliya Efimova, Ous Mellouli, Rebecca Soni, Jessica Hardy, Kosuke Kitajima, Markus Rogan, David Walters, Ricky Berens, Eric Shanteau, Dominik Meichtry, Thiago Pereira, Otylia Jedrzejcak

Why not? Every other major name in swimming that is looking for a new coach seems to gravitate towards Salo. Middle distance Freestyle is one of the few areas that this Trojan squad are lacking in is so maybe Pellegrini is the missing piece of the puzzle. There are also a number of Europeans in the training group, and they have a good stable of male middle distance and distance freestylers. The more I think about this, the more it makes sense. Slightly disappointing results from Shanghai for some of the big stars may be a cause for concern.

Romain Barnier - Cercle des Nageurs de Marseille, France

Training Partners: Femke Heemskerk, Inge Dekker, Camille Lacourt, Fabien Gilot, Florent Manaudou (Laure Manaudou and Fred Bousquet - when they are not training in Auburn)

This move makes a lot of sense on the surface. It is becoming a new hub for excellence in Europe, they have no problems taking in non-French swimmers and she can train day in, day out with 200 Free rival Femke Heemskerk. One potentially huge stumbling block is the name Manaudou. This is Laure Manaudou and Fred Bousquet's club when they are back in France and her brother also trains there full-time. Then again, who would have imagined Pellegrini joining forces with Phillippe Lucas?

Fabrice Pellerin - Olympic Nice Natation, France

Training Partners: Yannick Agnel, Camille Muffat, Charlotte Bonnet

Ideal freestyle programme that spans from 100m to 800m, with Agnel and Muffat specialising in the 200 and 400 Free. It's also based in a great location. The south of France shouldn't be a hard sell for Pellegrini. The main issue would be the fact that Muffat has emerged as one of Pellegrini's closest rivals. Would they be able to co-exist, and would they want to?

Friday, 5 August 2011

New Vote: What was your favourite race from the 2011 World Swimming Championships?

Vote above for your favourite race of the World Swimming Championships. If clicking 'Vote' just isn't enough, make your case for your favourite race in the comment section. If your favourite isn't on the list... the comment section also awaits.

Men's 200m Freestyle - Battle royale between swimming's superpowers. The significance of the race increased as it acted as a baton change between the former owner and newest incumbent of the title 'World's Best Swimmer'.

Women's 800m Freestyle - A definite contender for the head-to-head race of the competition. Rebecca Adlington and Lotte Friis were the clear pre-race favourites, and very little separated the pair for all 800 metres.

Men's 1500m Free - A truly historic race. The only men's world record to survive the tech-suit era went down almost exactly 10 years after it was originally set. Sun Yang broke the record with one of the most incredible final 50 metres you will ever witness.

Women's 200m Backstroke - In years to come this race might be remembered as the first of many, many individual World golds for Missy Franklin. She also came closer than any other woman to breaking an individual WR in Shanghai.

Men's 100m Breaststroke - After the tragedy that hit Norway, Alexander Dale Oen was swimming for more than just himself. A poignant example of an athlete channeling extreme emotions to achieve greatness.

Men's 200m IM - Phelps v Lochte. World Record. Best times for both men. Great, great race.

Women's 200m IM - A lot was expected from this race and it lived up to the hype. We had lead changes, a top three split by just 0.22 seconds and a storming freestyle leg from Ye Shiwen that took her from 5th to first in the space of 29.42 seconds.

Men's 4 x 100m Free Relay - The race started with James Magnussen setting a new textile best time, and ended up with a hard charging Fabien Gilot just falling short of giving France a much sought after win. It also saw a full strength US team finish third, a changing of the guard?

Women's 4 x 100m Free Relay - On paper the pre-race favourites won the race, so why did this race make the list? Well, because for 300m this race was getting away from the Dutch and it took a stunning 52.46 from Femke Heemskerk to overhaul the Americans.

Other - The races above were my personal favourites, but if there is another race you feel deserves to make this list then add it in the comments.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Relive Sun Yang Breaking Grant Hackett's Historic World Record

If you missed Sun Yang's historic 1500m Freestyle yesterday, don't worry. Relive the closing moments in the video below. To gauge how other swimming fans felt during the race, you can also read the transcript from the chat room as the record edged closer and finally fell.

Chat Transcript

Speed Endurance: 

splitting almost identically to Hackett... needs to find 2.7 seconds towards the end 

12:02 [Comment From GuestGuest: ] 

wonder what hacketts thinking 


"should i make a comeback" 

12:02 aswimfan: 

sun yang normally negative splitting 

12:03 chris: 

picking it up a little 

12:03 [Comment From GuestGuest: ] 

hes throwing in the odd double breath 

12:03 aswimfan: 

well it works for him 

12:04 chris: 

everyone is just...waiting 

12:05 aswimfan: 

was it 7:47? 

12:05 chris: 

yeah looks like sun yang's going to get it 

12:05 Speed Endurance: 


12:05 aswimfan: 

he can still do it 

12:06 hagger: 

three seconds behind, you sure? I'd love to see it 

Michael Phelps: A Fitting Swansong

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this is surely an example of it. Standing on a World Championships podium for the 33rd and final time, the look on Michael Phelps’ face was, well, content.

It is fitting that Phelps’ final swansong was a gold medal effort. It is fitting that it came in a relay, the only events that seemed to bring out the emotions that showed us the ‘real Phelps’. It is fitting that Phelps’ Butterfly leg was a second faster than the rest of the relay, essentially winning the relay for the US team that had a margin of victory of just 0.20 seconds.

As is so often the case with swimming, words come a distant second to the thrill of racing. So I leave you with the race that I consider Phelps’ greatest moment at the World Championships. Enjoy.