Gossip: It’s Good For Your Health

By David

You probably realize Swimwatch doesn’t really report news. We’re more of a forum for commenting on what others report. It’s a mighty fine way of upsetting many and pleasing very few. This week there has not been a lot happening. There’s not much to have an opinion on.

We did report Kalyn Keller’s departure from USC. Since then there has been some discussion on the whys of it all. I noticed “ArtVanDeLeigh10” on CollegeSwimming.com offered an example of some football coach who took over a team in Nebraska. In three years he turned them into winners. The implication was that in three years Rhi, Amanda and Kayln would have come to benefit from Salo’s skills. That’s rubbish of course. In three years the Olympics would have come and gone and they would have had nothing left to save. If it’s broke, fix it.

“Rhi of Troy” had a good point when she said it wasn’t easy deciding to move on. The easy thing would have been to stay. It explains why these three are as good as they are. They gave it a go and when it didn’t work had the courage to get up and fix what they saw as a problem. Most of us would have just put up with it. We may have even justified staying as being the “unselfish” thing to do. That’s why most of us watch the Olympics and these three women swim in them. In a book on swimming called “Swim to the Top” I put it this way:

“I once suggested to a woman whose daughter was making little if any progress that she should try another coach. She said she couldn’t do that; it would not be loyal to the present coach. What a load of rubbish. It was her daughter’s career we were talking about. In swimming, blood doesn’t seem to be thicker than water. Certainly, don’t kick the coach out after a bad season — but, after two, do it if the swimmer is to have a chance.”

We could have also told you that our team in Florida is about to start racing again. This weekend, we go to Fort Lauderdale to a Senior Circuit meet. I’m not expecting too much. For most of the team it’s their first race since the State Finals three months ago. For Rhi it’s her first swim since she competed for USC. The last time John Foster swam was at the Nationals a year ago. The weekend after Fort Lauderdale we’re all going up to Columbia in Missouri for the USS Grand Prix. That should be fun.

We could have commented on Shane Gould’s revelation that no one should be allowed to swim in the Olympics under the age of 18. We didn’t comment only because it’s hard to discuss something as stupid as that without looking stupid as well. To quote a well known piece of Australianese, Shane’s obviously “got a ‘roo lose in the top paddock”. Mind you she is an Australian and deserves understanding. I can say that because I’m a New Zealander and the bloody Australians beat us by five wickets in the second to last over at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last night.

We could have also discussed FINA’s decision to delay implementing televised instant replays. Most commentators, including Craig Lord “of the London Times” as he once self-importantly told me, think FINA should get on with it. Lord said,

“Such a move would help FINA to present itself in modern, crisp clothes and be of great benefit to the sport of which it is guardian.”

I’m not so sure. Just about every breaststroke and butterfly race would be worth a protest. I bet there is not a swimmer alive whose hands touch the wall “simultaneously and together” to the thousandth of a second.

Other commentators talk about “Kitajima’s dolphin kick that cost Brendan Hansen the gold”

They are right, of course. Kitajima did do a dolphin kick. Before you rush to judgment, watch a frame by frame close up of Hansen’s pull out. I’m sure there is a small vertical movement; not as much as Kitajima. However, robbing the bank is the crime, not how much you take! And if Hansen’s feet didn’t move enough on the turn, include the start in your protest. I’m sure you’ll find an inch or two to justify the effort.

The list of what you could look for is a long one. Was every kick exactly on the same plane and together? I don’t think so. Was any turn passed the vertical? In the technical strokes, I doubt there’s ever been a race swum that doesn’t violate the laws if it’s given a slow, slow motion replay.

I’m actually on FINA’s side for this one; however this change needs to be implemented with caution.

But the maddest story of the week is about that guy, Martin Strel, who has just set off to swim down the Amazon. Swimwatch may be good for your health but that Amazon business; I don’t think so.