Archive for January, 2007

Boasting Some Awesome Gone Missing

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

By David

Lake Superior State University has just published its 2007 list of words that should be banned. Their list is likely to have a profound effect on swimming. It contains several words that swimmers, coaches, parents and swimming websites misuse and abuse all the time.


The University rightly points out that awesome is a word meaning “fear mingled with admiration or reverence; a feeling produced by something majestic.” It is hard to imagine therefore why a pair of goggles, fins or even a new swim suit should merit the description of awesome. Newspapers are just as bad. Our local paper has just published their picks for the district’s swimmers of the year. Their male selection won the State 100 yards backstroke title in 52.44. The truth is the swim is about six seconds, or close to half the pool, slower than the State record, it’s even about four seconds slower than our senior team coach swam to win the same event 20 years ago. Interestingly it is also about 100 FINA points behind the time that won the State 100 yards freestyle this year. Never the less they selected the slow backstroke and, in their own way, told us we should have feelings produced by something majestic.


No one is late for training anymore. No one loses their goggles. No one fails to report for their heat in the National Championships. Everyone and everything, it seems, has gone missing. I agree with the University. Gone missing carries the implication that the person or thing will soon return from their state of missing and all will be back to normal. But of course it won’t. You are late and will never swim the training missed, your goggles are lost and you have not reported for your heat.


As a documented alien this phrase has special meaning. The phrase was invented to avoid the word illegal. There are so many undocumented aliens in the US just now; a forest of trees will disappear to provide the documents they need to become legal. The subject of immigration has been addressed by Swimwatch before. In this article we asked the religious right to consider whether, at the time of the second coming, Jesus Christ will be allowed into the United States? Remember he is likely to have an eastern appearance, be wearing robes and sandals, be unshaven and will be reciting verses from the Old Testament in Hebrew. My guess is his 747 will be turned back well before it reaches mid-Atlantic.


I can do no better than copy what the University had to say about this word, “Someone told Joy Wiltzius of Fort Collins, Colorado, that the tuna steak she had for lunch “sounded healthy.” Her reply: “If my lunch were healthy, it would still be swimming somewhere. Grilled and nestled in salad greens, it’s ‘healthful.'” Swimming has more than it’s fair share of health food nuts. A book on swimming, called “Swim to the Top” has this common sense message on the subject:

“That many athletes are overweight is not only true, it is a disgrace. But don’t blame their diet for this — they are probably spending a fortune on buying carbohydrate mixtures but most of the time they have not trained well enough, which means eating all the carbohydrate in the world won’t work. It won’t make up for the lost miles of conditioning. Faced with the choice between 25km a week on loads of carbohydrate and 100km a week on a balanced diet, choose the latter. If you choose the first and you are an athlete with a tendency towards putting on weight, in six months you will be as fat as a pig.”


Lake Superior University described this problem well.

“See classified advertisements for houses, says Morris Conklin of Lisboa, Portugal, as in “master bedroom boasts his-and-her fireplaces — never ‘bathroom apologizes for cracked linoleum,’ or ‘kitchen laments pathetic placement of electrical outlets.'”

Swimming websites specialize in this fault. Have you noticed how no one swims to a world record any more? They stroke, dash, power, sprint, race or muscle but never just swim. I saw someone had caressed their way through 100 breaststroke the other day. I thought for a minute that I’d opened one of those Californian porn sites.

PS: I’ve just received an email from a swimmer of mine named Alison. The email talks about the awesome 52.44 swim that boasted this year’s swimmer of the year to his title. In it she says

“Some teams create drama because their training obviously isn’t as important. They are insecure with themselves and so in order to make themselves feel bigger they put others down. We have no time to start any of it due to our focus on training.”

Well said, Alison. I happen to know this swimmer and suspect that she will soon merit awesome and boasting a whole lot more than some who are over using the words just now.