We did it. After a stressful weekend we pulled through. Coming back from 6th place and 150 points behind after the first day, my team claimed its 22nd Championship title in a row. The change in venue made for two very long days outside in the heat (I don’t think I could have drunk enough water), as well as a hot, steamy, and crowded pool deck. While I’m not as happy with my swims as I would like to be, I didn’t add time, so I’m OK with it. Not happy, but OK. There was a huge sigh of relief and celebration as we found out that our dynasty continues. The good thing about this meet is it was put on by an old High School Coach in a place I practiced occasionally. I have fond-ish memories of that place. The ones that particularly stand out however, are the times when my coach got so mad at us for goofing off that he sent us home before we even made it into the pool, or when he would set buckets at the end of the lanes so we could puke without needing to get out of the pool and stop in the middle of our sets. (Good times…). But honestly, he’s probably the best coach I’ve ever had and I miss that team and having him coach me.
But now onto matters that you can more relate to.
Well hasn’t this been in interesting Olympics so far. While we were waiting for our events my teammate was watching the 400 IM on her phone. As she announced the unexpected news of Lochte winning while Phelps finished fourth, the rest of us broke out in a mixture of laughter and cheering. My non-swimmer friends don’t understand this. They’re just sad for Phelps and cheer for team USA. Those of us who follow swimming in the years in between the Olympics have a bit of a different perspective. Sure, it’s sad for Phelps and team USA, especially as this is Phelps’s farewell meet. However, the story goes back a little farther than that. Four years back, to Beijing and the cube. Phelps stuns everyone, breaking Spitz’s incredible record and effectively sets himself as a permanent swimming legend. Coming off that high, it appears as though there’s not much challenge left for him in the swimming world. He gets lazy. Misses practices to go golfing, off to Vegas with his friends, or just to sleep in. On this wave of poor training, he enters Worlds in Shanghai. Here he gets shown up by Ryan Lochte who has been on an intense training schedule including strongman training. This motivates Phelps to train hard for the nine months before trials in Omaha. Therefore, Phelps is entering the 400 IM in London with a quarter of the training of everyone else, which is why it makes sense that Lochte took gold and Phelps came in fourth. That being said, the reaction of many saying Phelps has lost his golden touch and won’t do well this Olympics is a bit far-fetched. He simply had a bad race in an event he was not properly trained for. Winning Silver and Gold medals in other events proves this misnomer false. Instead of saying he’s not a great swimmer any more, let’s analyze the situation:
1. Phelps’s biological clock is bringing him to the end of his physical prime as an athlete
2. He has not trained completely for as long as the other athletes
3. Despite #1 and #2 Phelps is still winning medals
4. With the medals he is winning, Phelps is THE most decorated Olympian. Ever.
Now tell me again how Phelps has lost his touch and is a bad athlete? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
There are far too many fabulous races and surprising results to touch on at the present moment. In addition, I have been traveling for the last week, so unfortunately I have missed the far majority of Olympic coverage. I shall watch these on he wonderful internet and get back to you.
My old coach’s motto and the back of our team shirts:
99% Correct is 100% Wrong