Three Things I was Dead Wrong About in 2017

A lot of people are putting up posts right now, collecting their best content of 2017. That sounded too boring and lazy to me, so instead here's what I'm going with. This blog has always been a space where I've been outspoken, and will continue to be that in 2018.

Despite some of my more controversial takes, I do try to not open my mouth about something unless I feel really confident in what I know. That's why you won't find me putting up articles about dryland, injury prevention or physics. I know a little about those topics (well, maybe not physics) I know I wouldn't want to read a blog written by somebody who just fires off about whatever.

Still, despite being somewhat careful in the topics I choose and what I know about them, I still miss the mark some time. So here's a post for everybody that has gotten furious about at least on the three posts I am about to feature. I'm sorry- I was wrong.

1. Expect Weirdness in Budapest

I had a pretty good 2016 predicting some big things in swimming. That gave me a little confidence to keep it going in 2017. But this post, predicting what would happen at the Budapest World Championship, had some big whiffs. To whit:

2. Virginia Should Hire Stefanie Moreno

I may be stretching the definition of "dead wrong" here, but bear with me. When revisiting this article, I feel two things are equally true:

  • Virginia made a good decision to hire Todd DeSorbo, who immediately put together a strong coaching staff and the early results on UVA are really positive. You can't really argue with the decision they made, plucking the top assistant from a top ten program within the same conference. 
  • There are other schools that will not be mentioned that totally blew it by not hiring Moreno. I have heard from several sources that she was turned down for several jobs where the person hired just doesn't have a resume that stacks up to Moreno. That's wrong and a blown opportunity for those schools. 

3. Announcing the Under One Project

A year and one day ago, I announced my personal quest to break a minute in the 100 breaststroke. I have not written about that quest for over seven months.

The reason is simple. My own vanity and my desire to protect it hasn't left me very motivated to tell you that I had weeks at a time where I didn't train or just barely sustained swimming.

That after getting down to a svelte 176 lbs for my last competition in March, I have hovered between 195-200 lbs this fall and winter. I can't fit into half the pants I wore last winter, and I'm embarrassed. 

But I should have, Because I learned in 2017 probably the biggest lesson of my life, and I still only learned it a little bit, if that makes sense. I learned a lot about the power of failure. I learned the emotional power of admitting that you need some help, and how that makes you stronger, not weaker. 

Starting my own business meant more failure in one year than I have experienced in all of my years of swimming, school and coaching combined. That's been hard, but I'm so grateful for the growth. 

A lot of us are making resolutions for the new year. My project was basically a resolution, and it fell apart by around May. It's fair to say I have failed, but also fair to say that five months moving towards something is infinitely better than nothing. And it's not over until I say it's over.

Happy 2018.


Expect Weirdness in Budapest from Team USA

A friend of mine (for the sake of protecting his anonymity, let's call him G. McCaffrey) pointed out an anniversary of sorts the last time we talked. With the World Championships in Budapest (the pool portion) about to get underway, it was time for my annual bed-wetting about American swimming.

But nine years in, I've learned my lesson. In the year after the Olympics, the US team usually takes a dip from "extremely dominant" to "dominant" on the world stage. That is nothing to wet the bed over. However, if you don't follow your history, you might be tempted to get concerned as the results unfold next week in Hungary. 

That's why I'm hear with this message: expect weirdness in Budapest. What kind of weirdness? I'm glad you asked. I'll give you a historical example and then take some guesses.

The Relay Blunder of 2009

It's hard to fathom the US every missing a relay final in international competition. That very thing happened in 2009, when the Women's 4x100 Medley squad only managed 10th in the preliminary session

Yes, some of the swimmers on that relay didn't perform to their potential, but the US also elected to not use their fastest stroke swimmer in either backstroke, butterfly or breaststroke. For freestyle the coaches went with a swimmer who didn't even make the 4x100 night relay. Weird indeed.

More Than Just "No Phelps"

A US slip in the medal count will undoubtedly be attributed to "No Phelps" so I won't focus on that obvious narrative. There are other events in which the US all of a sudden finds it's position far less certain than 2016 and could lead to some Budapest Bed wetting:

1. The Men's 1500 Freestyle: The loss of Connor Jaeger puts the US well behind the world standard in this race, in fact our results from trials would have last looked promising for a medal even twenty years ago.

2. Women's Butterfly: Dana Vollmer's continued excellence is on pause to create life again, leaving the US without their most consistent butterfly Olympic medal threat. While the US has some promising swimmers in all distances, they need considerable improvement to make the medal stand in Budapest.

3. Women's IM: Likewise the women's IM are hurting for the kind of performances that Maya DiRado gave us in Rio. As good as Melanie Margalis and Leah Smith swam, there's another level for them to find to break through at this meet. 

4. Ryan Murphy is beatable: Ryan Murphy was the best non-Phelps male swimmer for the US Team in Rio. He crushed Australian Mitch Larkin's dreams and effectively ended the 4x100 Medley relay on the opening leg. But he looked far more human at Trials, He's a candidate for a "swoon" the same way that Phelps himself took a bit of a backwards step in 2005 Montreal

That said, most swimmers would probably kill for a disappointing Ryan Murphy swim.

Ultimately, the post Olympic World Championship meet is always good for a reshuffling of the world swimming deck, and even if the US team seems only normally dominant, any step back always seems to motivate them to crush the rest of the world by the end of the Olympic cycle.