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The Deck

Deck Change: Wrapping a towel around oneself to change (typically into or out of a bathing suit) in a public setting.
This is the place where you can talk about the pics, the sport, the weather, and the lack of pictures of deck changes on this site.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

FINA World Championships - Melbourne 2007

The torches were flaring more than the organizers ever imagined they would! Every time a new record would be set, these torches would go off. I am afraid that the people in the front rows must have been scorched.

Championship records
▪ Women's 100 m freestyle - Libby Lenton Australia (53.42)(4x100 m freestyle Relay lead off)
▪ Men's 4x100 m freestyle Relay - Michael Phelps, Neil Walker, Cullen Jones, Jason Lezak United States (3:12.72)
▪ Women's 100 m freestyle - Natalie Coughlin United States (53.40) (semi finals; equalled in finals)
▪ Women's 100 m freestyle - Libby Lenton Australia (53.40) (equalled)
▪ Women's 400 m freestyle - Laure Manaudou France (4:02.61)
▪ Women's 800 m freestyle - Kate Ziegler United States (8:18.52)
▪ Women's 1500 m freestyle - Kate Ziegler United States (15:53.05)
▪ Women's 200 m backstroke - Margaret Hoelzer United States (2:07.16)
▪ Women's 100 m breaststroke - Leisel Jones Australia (1:05.72)
▪ Women's 100 m butterfly - Libby Lenton Australia (57.15)
▪ Women's 200 m individual Medley - Kathryn Hoff United States (2:10.13)
▪ Women's 4x100 m freestyle relay - Libby Lenton, Melanie Schlanger, Shayne Reese, Jodie Henry Australia (3:35.48)

That is impressive enough, but now I have to talk about the World Records....

World Records
Also new championship records
▪ Men's 200m freestyle - Michael Phelps United States (1:43.86)
▪ Men's 100m backstroke - Aaron Peirsol United States (52.98)
▪ Men's 200m backstroke - Ryan Lochte United States (1:54.32)
▪ Men's 200m butterfly - Michael Phelps United States (1:52.09)
▪ Men's 200m individual medley - Michael Phelps United States (1:54.98)
▪ Men's 400m individual medley - Michael Phelps United States (4:06.22)
▪ Men's 4x200m freestyle relay - Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Klete Keller, Peter Vanderkaay United States (7:03.24)
▪ Women's 200m freestyle - Federica Pellegrini Italy (1:56.47) (semi finals; beaten in finals)
▪ Women's 200m freestyle - Laure Manaudou France (1:55.52)
▪ Women's 50m backstroke - Leila Vaziri United States (28.16) (semi finals; equalled in finals by herself)
▪ Women's 100m backstroke - Natalie Coughlin United States (59.44)
▪ Women's 400m individual medley - Kathryn Hoff United States (4:32.89)
▪ Women's 4x200m freestyle relay - Natalie Coughlin, Dana Vollmer, Lacey Nymeyer, Katie Hoff United States (7:50.09)
▪ Women's 4x100m medley relay - Emily Seebohm, Leisel Jones, Jessicah Schipper, Libby Lenton Australia (3:55.74)

There has never, to my knowledge, been a Championships that was this lopsided. If Michael Phelps were a country, he would have been in third place according to gold medals won. I went into this meet knowing he was a really talented swimmer, but I left in awe of his abilities, his stamina, and his hunger. He is a Beast. The really crazy swim for me was when he broke Ian Thorpe's World Record in the 200 Free. This was the the first world event since Thorpe retired, and Phleps unceremoniously wiped his name off the record book. Without any kind of warning! There really isn't much more to say. Except maybe if he weren't swimming in this day and age, Ryan Lochte would be the most titled swimmer around. Those guys are incredible. Let's not forget the ladies who made huge marks on the history books at this meet: Kate Ziegler, Laure Manaudou, Katie Hoff, Libby Lenton, Natalie Coughlin. This meet was out of control. It started off slowly, but once the first record was broken, the tempo of the meet got faster and faster.

It is always sad when the person the you expect to win a race gets ill and can't compete. The loss of Brendan Hansen in the 200 Breaststroke was devastating. It made it hard to watch the final of that race. As happy as I was for the winner, who is now called "World Champion", it seemed to me like an empty victory. Forever when the race is spoken of it will be told that Kosuke Kitajima is the champion only because Brendan was unable to compete.

On the other hand, I appreciate it when the officials have the courage to DSQ a swimmer or team who don't perform to the rules, especially at this level of competition. Quite a few top swimmers never made it to finals. I was really disappointed that the USA Men's Medley relay team was DQ'd in prelims, but I blame the coaches for that. I feel that the guys who are used to swimming off each other in a relay should do it in the final. Yes, Michael Phelps swam a faster time in the 100 Fly than Ian Crocker. But it was a negligible amount. He also swam a faster time than Jason Lezak in the 100 Free. Like I said, he is a beast. I just think it was a bad judgement call. If they knew they were going to put Michael in the final, they should have practiced the starts as soon as the decision was made. But swimmers and coaches are human and they make mistakes.
That being said, the Australian men put on a hell of a show and fought hard for that gold Medal.

The Rod Laver arena was a nice place to put the Suzie O'Neill pool. The volunteers were really sweet, friendly people. They were so welcoming and made me feel great every single day. I thank them. I also had a really great experience with USA Swimming and want to thank Matt Farrell for taking such good care of me and also Cathy and Don for welcoming me so openly. It was great to finally meet face to face with a few of my Australian friends who are in my heart forever. If I could, I would live in Melbourne. Australia is a beautiful country and the people truly appreciate the sport of swimming. We could all learn something from them.

The last thing I want to comment on is how much I hated the ads on the caps of the swimmers. I feel the fact that they have to wear the ads on the blocks is bad enough, althoug I can sort of understand it, but the caps really sucked. I found it very difficult to tell who was who. I personally look for flags on caps to establish who is swimming. These caps were lame. A huge ad on one side, and a small flag and a small name on the other. With the money I paid for my tickets, was that really necessary? I think not.

I don't want to end this post on a downer since this was such a fantastic moment in history. A parent of one of the Australian swimmers asked me to pass a message to a parent of a USA swimmer. He told me to tell her that he was so glad to be at this meet to see what was being accomplished there. As a life long fan of swimming, he said this was a meet he would never forget. I am with him on that. We saw water catch fire.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Speedo Grand Challenge 2007

Tyler Clary, Euan Dale, Tamas Kerekjarto and Vanni Mangoni

The Irvine Novaquatics hosted another fine meet with superstars in attendance. This
meet brought the return of Klete Keller to Southern California and the Trojan Swim
Club. For this SoCal girl, it was good to see Klete back in the Cardinal and Gold.

British Swimming showed off some of their best swimmers here as well, with a few of the finals being British only. This meet uses a format that has only the top four finishers from the prelims making it to the championship final. The Brits were in good form at this point in the season and swam some nice times.

We also got to see Amanda Beard's return to competitive swimming. She made finals for each event she swam, even if she didn't compete in the final. This shows me she is on track in her training as she made Olympic trials cut times in her breaststroke events. The field is pretty impacted so she is going to have to work very hard to win her berth on the Olympic Team, but the same can be said for all the other women vying for a spot.
I always love seeing the Pac-10 club teams going up against each other, and Stanford and Cal sure didn't disappoint.

There was one HUGE disappointment though. I complained about this same thing last year here on my blog, and I guess I will have to say something official next time. The spectator seating is overrun by 10X10 foot sunshades and folding chairs that have no one in them. After last year I decided that it was best not to go to prelims as all the seating space is used for the swimmers who are swimming all day. They do need the shade for prelims as the sun is very hot on that side of the pool in the morning, BUT. The sunshades on lower levels block the view for anyone behind them. So the swimmers who are sitting on higher levels have to squish down to watch the meet. You can kind of see it in this photo. I think that can't be very good for their backs.

All that is fine for prelims, but if this meet wants to ever have any spectators, they have to change the way things are done. A lot of the clubs leave all their chairs and sunshades up when they leave after morning sessions. Spectators come in and have no place to sit because they don't want to encroach on other peoples' space. The upside is, I ended up standing on the deck one day and I am happy with my action shots from that vantage point. But I really think that people need to carry it out if they carry it in, or better yet have their swimmers that don't make the finals stay and watch. They are given the opportunity to see some of the best swimmers in the world. Olympians. World record holders. Amazing coaches. They could learn so much.

I will continue to go to this meet whenever possible. The Nova families and the people who run this meet are very friendly and efficient. (Except for the seating area thing.) I enjoy the music and the sense of fun that this meet has. And the announcer does a great job. So, I'll see ya next year!