Your Poopl Does Small

By David

The title of this item is a quote from one of the unpublished messages received by Swimwatch. What it is supposed to say is, “Your poop does smell – just like everyone else’s”. The author’s English is as suspect as many other qualities revealed by the message. It amazes me, the personal and always anonymous bile that pours forth from some of these unfortunate souls. I don’t know why they bother. Their contribution to the sum of human knowledge is not going to be published. Perhaps they are happy just knowing the subject of their venom has read the stuff they write.

He, or she, is however not alone. For every serious, valued contribution Swimwatch receives, there is one that is an awfully sad reflection on the world inhabited by its author. It would be nice to publish unedited the comments received. Unfortunately, while there are individuals like this out there, we will continue to enable comment moderation.

The “poop does smell” comment was received in reply to my recent Arthur Lydiard article. You may recall that this article’s core point was that a wider acceptance of Lydiard principles might reduce the drop-out rate that is of such concern to the Florida Gold Coast LRC. It should be possible to make that positive suggestion without motivating a torrent of personal attacks. It appears not. I thought you might be interested in some other examples of correspondence received but not published. They too are educational; they provide a frightening insight into the way some of those involved in the sport think.

One writer took the opportunity to attack a swimmer on our team: the “only good swimmer left there is now a one trick pony that is under achieveing.” Far be it from me to criticize others spelling, however for the record, “achieveing” is spelled “achieving.” This chap makes so many spelling errors! He should start using the computer’s “spell-check” facility.

Let’s look a bit deeper into what he says: “a one trick pony.” That accusation could be leveled at almost every good swimmer. Gary Hall swims the 50 and 100 freestyle. Popov could swim pretty good backstroke but usually restricted himself to 50 and 100 freestyle. You don’t see Grant Hackett swimming much breaststroke or Hansen entering the 1500 freestyle. New Zealand’s best sprinter for a number of years, Nichola Chellingworth, only swam 50 and 100 freestyle and 50 butterfly. Amanda Beard swims a good medley but tends to focus on the 200 breaststroke. There are, of course, Phelps and Hoff who can turn their hand to a wide range of events. Most of the good ones, however, are one trick ponies. Next time this sage contributor meets Gary Hall, I wonder if he will be as liberal with the “one trick pony” label. It would do him well to remember that for most of us the alternative to a one trick pony is “jack of all trades, master of none”.

The under achieving label in this case is a bit harsh. In the last two years the swimmer being referred to has won one Florida State High School Championship and been fourth on three other occasions. His best 50 yards time has improved from 23.43 to 21.25 and his 100 yards from 49.09 to 46.36, that’s 9.3% and 5.6% in two years. I imagine there are a many of us who would welcome that sort of record and improvement even if it was considered by this swimming genius as “under achieving”.

Another comment sent to Swimwatch recently said, “For someone who has now coached in the Forida Gold Coast for OVER 2 years now – what has this the way of training produced?” You see what I mean about the standard of the critic’s English. One can only hope, “No child left behind” does better in the future.

It is a pity this critic does not read my writing about Lydiard’s training more closely. On almost every occasion I make the point that results come slowly; a minimum of four years is required to make the physiological changes required for elite performance. In “Swim to the Top” I put it like this.

“Be very aware however that results in the early seasons may take longer to show than aggressively sprint trained competitors. Build up conditioning is not the fastest way of achieving fine results. In fact it is often quite slow. It is however the best way to achieve the best results.”

The critic’s quote brilliantly illustrates the point I was trying to make in the Lydiard article. Clearly, “OVER 2 years” is considered ample time. Abject failure can be the only appropriate description of two years of modest improvement. There is little wonder that Florida has its share of teenage drop outs when idiots like this consider two years to be an extended and relevant time period in which to achieve athletic success. Thank you for the illustration.

Incidentally, in the two years he refers to, this team has grown from ten swimmers to eighty, has had two Florida State High School Champions and several other finalists, two National Masters Champions and several other finalists, three National qualifiers and a bunch of juniors who love the sport. Our critics describe this as failure but we are pleased with our steady and modest progress.

It is difficult to understand the motives and intellect that produces the mindless animosity in some of these emails. I suggest that before they press the send button in future they consider whether their efforts are making a contribution and even then, pause for one more moment and turn on the “spell-check” facility.