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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.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Quiet

It's so quiet.

Almost scary quiet.
4 years ago the Athens Olympics had just ended and there was swimming everywhere. Michelle was at making BrendanHansenOnline.com a huge success. Suz had ramped up Swimstars.  Fans of swimming were helping each other find all the news that was out there. Learning about the sport, not just about who was hot in a speedo.
Michael Phelps, Ian Crocker and Lenny Krayzelburg had toured the USA to raise the profile of swimming throughout the country.
We were counting the days until the World Championships in Montreal.
I personally made my friends , family and clients aware of the faces and names in the sport. I was so effective, that whenever there was so much as a photo of water splashing in a newspaper, full pages were mailed to me.
I had helped educate people about this wonderful sport. Those same people watched The Duel in The Pool on NBCTV because it made them think of me.
I opened Deckchange.

The next few years brought some shocking retirements (Thorpe). Some shocking returns (Torres). An amazingly beautiful World Championships in Melbourne that showed the world what "Michael" was capable of and how things might go in Beijing. It was very exciting.

Then came these glorious games of 2008. The auspicious number 8. 8.8.08
One single goal reached by one man, Phelps.
It would have been impossible without his 8 team mates, Lochte, Berens, Vanderkaay, Weber-Gale, Jones, Lezak, Piersol and Hansen. 8.
The population of the world lost their breath twice.
First when the heroic Jason Lezak proved once and for all that it's not only his talent, but his heart that have made him "The Anchorman".
The second when Serbian Milorad Cavic stood face to face with the Mighty Phelps. Uncowed by his "I AM" stare, forcing him to make an emotional and dangerously effective short stroke. He amazed everyone but the Omega cameras and won with an impossible touch.
The man was not to be beaten.

Others were the same. Stephanie Rice and the very strong Australian Women's team. Kirsty Coventry. Ous Mellouli.
Everyone had a Hero.
The hype was intoxicating and well deserved.
Five months later and all that is left is a photo or two of Phelps in every 2008 recap.
The most records annihilated at an Olympic Games. The best games ever.

So why is it so quiet now?
Now is when new fans, historically, should be gearing up for the next something big. All excitement for ROMA'09.
But all is quiet.
Is it because there are rumors of retirement from some of the sport's greatest? Has the business of swimming taken away it's soul? Have super-suits ruined everyone's idea of fair play?

Now there are no tours across the country.
Very few of the big names who begged for a Grand Prix series to showcase their talents and earn them some money, actually even swim in them.
Fans are losing interest because the best in sport have too. It has become about contracts and obnoxious agents not playing fair with all their clients. About lawsuits against a swimmer and suit manufacturer. About Swimmers being left off the team. About the numbers 8 and 41 with nothing in between.

I will attend the Grand Prix in Long Beach. Yes, I will be disappointed that I won't get to see some of the fastest athletes who train in the USA, competing in a 25 yard pool, but I will go because I love the sport. I will be disappointed because there are not more spectators there to see Ryan Lochte, one of the greatest the USA and the world has to offer, who is back to training after stepping out of Aaron Peirsol's shadow but glow s brightly behind Michael's. I will notice if someone does a personal best after hard winter training camp. And, yes, I will be there for the distance races, because that's what I do. Even when the meet runners don't have a ticket for me because the meet doesn't really start until the second day. And I will be angry because people have saved their seats between sessions so they don't have to get there early to stake their claim like I do.
And still, I will be there. Because I want to be, not because I have to.

American athletes have had a few months off, so have the fans.
I myself am guilty of being too quiet. I have a full year of photos to add to my gallery.
I just got a call that one of my clients is swimming at the Q meet today.   So begins 2009.
Let's start making some noise.