Archive for July, 2007

Fort Lauderdale Sectionals

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

By David

When you’re an international coaching mercenary there are a dozen fresh things to learn in each new country. As you can imagine the registration procedures that apply in the US Virgin Islands have little in common with those used on the mainland. In the US I’ve made just about every mistake possible – athletes not registered, incorrect entry times used – but after two years and some considerable patience by administrators such as Jay Thomas and Dick Cavanah I’ve caught on to most of the new rules; but not them all it appears.

I’m about to be fined for entering one of our team’s better swimmers, Andrew Meeder, in a local Division Two Championship. I thought Andrew had not swum 100 meters Butterfly in the past two years which would have made his entry legitimate. It appears, however, that one year and fifty-one weeks ago, when he swam for another team, Andrew did swim 100 meters fly. I’m told a team up the road researched Andrew’s history and insisted the host team impose the $100 fine. Funny thing is, the 100 butterfly worked really well and was and is well worth the $100.

This week the Southern Sectional Meet was held at Fort Lauderdale. When I escaped from the Virgin Islands I thought a Sectional Meet sounded like a zone carnival for struggling new comers. I now know better.

Our three best swimmers had a good Sectional Meet. Rhi Jeffrey and John Foster had just got back to the States after swimming in the Darmstadt Invitational in Germany. Rhi won both the Darmstadt 50 and 100 Freestyle in 25.98 and 56.66. John was second in the 400 Freestyle in 4.05.

Given her hectic schedule I was pleased with Rhi’s 25.93 and 56.66 in Fort Lauderdale. Two Atlantic flights and twelve top races in eight days is a testament to her class and application. In both Sectional races Dara Torres was too good for Rhi but with a year to go before Olympic trials, Rhi is certainly walking the right path. I had to agree with the Fort Lauderdale meet announcer who said before the start of the Women’s 100 Freestyle final “You need a pretty good pedigree to be in this race,” Dara Torres (eight Olympic medals four of them gold), Rhi Jeffrey (Olympic gold medalist), Leila Vaziri (Current World Champion 50 Backstroke), Natalie Pike (junior national champion) Megan Romano (national junior team member) and five very good others. It’s fun to coach someone swimming in that company.

John swam 1.54 for the 200 Freestyle and placed 4th. He’s a good swimmer and I’m picking will be well below 1.50 in time for next year’s Olympic Trials. His stroke is an amazing copy of Ian Thorpe’s. As soon as Indianapolis is over, John will begin swimming 10 weeks of 100kms a week. That should take him a long way towards 1.40 something. I was talking to Ryan Lochte’s coach and Dad at the Fort Lauderdale meet. He said he’s about to give his son several weeks of 100kms conditioning. No wonder Ryan’s such a bloody good swimmer.

Andrew Meeder qualified for the Junior Nationals in both the 50 and 100 Freestyle in a most unusual weekend. He qualified last for both his finals and ended up winning one and coming fourth in the other. There was some discussion last winter about who was Palm Beach County’s best male high school swimmer. I guess Andrew just answered that question. It will be interesting to see how much faster he swims in Indianapolis. Watching him I’d say there’s a second or two before he too gets a dose of 100kms a week honesty. Rhi, who I must tell you, has just added an attractive and small nose stud to her already impressive adornments, insists Andrew will find those seconds by replacing his Speedos with a full body suit. She may be right.

The Sectional Meet hosts, Fort Lauderdale Aquatics, had a terrible task getting the results of this meet published due to their server going down just when it shouldn’t. FLA did a terrific job of making do, using the Florida Gold Coast website. While we were looking for results Swimwatch decided to subscribe to a Swimming World Magazine Premium Membership. We’re pleased we did. The information they provide is original, current, interesting and factual. Have a look into it.
The Sectional Meet was fun. Good competition, good organization, and good preparation for the main meets of the season still to come in Indianapolis.

Darmstadt Swim Meet via Miami

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

By Rhi Jeffrey

I’ll never understand why some people are so fired up to be American. Aside from the fact that I’ll be glad to have ice in drinks and free refills back, I really think we are falling behind the Europeans in a lot of respects. When John and I were first getting ready to leave for Germany, I was nervous about the trip because of some stigmas that were put in my head by a select few people.

For example, a few weeks ago, I decided to dye my hair bright pink. “The Germans hate Americans. Don’t draw attention to yourself having bright pink hair,” I was told. This could not have been further from the truth, unless of course they really did hate us but all woke up on the proper side of their beds that day. There is nowhere I have been in the
US where I have seen more smiling faces than in the downtown area of Darmstadt. People were not only friendly to us, but were asking us if their English was ok. To top it all off, I even caught a glimpse of a group of around ten “punk” kids sitting in the town square with pink, green, purple, and orange Mohawks. Their piercings rivaled mine. I felt right at home.

Another thing that really blew my mind: on the first day of the trip John and I had to figure out how to get to the pool without the assistance of a rental car. We asked the front desk at the hotel (who spoke better English than some of the people who pay to swim at Aqua Crest) what the best way to get to the pool was. It was so refreshing that they even knew where the pool complex was. Some Americans don’t care enough about swimming to even know where water is to drink, much less for a swim meet. We were instructed to take the 7 or 8 train to downtown Darmstadt then hop aboard the 4 or 5 to drop us off right at the pool’s entrance. When John and I first got to the train stop, we were frantically trying to buy tickets as the train approached. As we climbed on, I kept an eye out as to where to put our tickets or someone to give them to. There was nothing. Turns out, all public transportation in Germany (and much of Europe) is on the honor system. If we tried that here, our train systems would be bankrupt in a matter of days. Americans always try to find ways to get out of paying for things. And I did in fact buy the correct train ticket every day.

Dinners were slow, enjoyable, and surprisingly affordable. People who know me know that I love everything about food. Now, hold your sly fat jokes for a minute and listen to why. I love how people can come together over a meal and I love sitting and soaking up every taste and smell you can experience from sitting down in a restaurant. The Germans have perfected eating. Their portions are not too big but just right and their service is not too fast or too slow. It gives you the opportunity to slow down and enjoy your meal without feeling like you are sitting around forever waiting. It is almost like a dirty little secret that when you eat slower, you eat less because your stomach has a chance to catch up with your eyes.

The meet was great; extremely well run, and everyone was so accommodating. The first day John and I sat on the bleachers, the home DSW swim team surrounded us. Luckily for us, the English speaking Scottish coaches came to our aide and invited us to sit with them. Everything is funnier with a Scottish accent. The dirty jokes boys make at 17 years old that you smirk at here in the States are hilarious with a thick Scottish accent thrown in. Needless to say, we enjoyed the Scottish team very much, and the coaches even got splits and highlighted our names in the heat sheets for John’s and my swims. The Germans treated the medal winners like gold, having a victory ceremony immediately following each swim in the finals. On my way out of the last night, I even had meet workers hand me gifts for swimming so well, which included their team t-shirt, towel, and beer mug! I felt like I was king of the hill. Needless to say, Americans can learn a lot from the Germans about how to run a swim meet.

As you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. One last thing I wish to add. There were younger swimmers from my team in Florida who were supposed to experience this wonderful trip but, because of events completely out of their control, were not allowed to go. For this, I am very sorry. You were missed. The trip will be 100% better when you all come the next time.