Greg Meehan

The Rumor Mill: Who Will be National Team Director?

I know because I saw on facebook that Frank Busch is officially done doing the job of National Team Director. One would think, then, that his replacement would be named very soon. But, as of the publishing of this blog there has been no formal announcement of the new National Team Director.

Sadly, I have to report that despite my compelling application I was never contacted. So I'm left to wildly guess about who the next national team director will be. Let's have some fun:

1. David Marsh

Why? Because making up rumors of David Marsh doing stuff is fun, for a lot of people. Because people like David Marsh, and he is one of the few people with a resume that fits the job. Because it's been a long time since we had a National Team Director with curly hair, and it's time for a change!

Why not? Umm, well, there is the whole thing that he took a new job a few months ago. One would think that if there was mutual interest between Marsh and USA Swimming they would have wrapped this up before he did that.

2. Bob Bowman

Why? Michael Phelps. 

Why not? Is it really more attractive than his current job? By all accounts Bowman is well compensated by ASU and free to do any number of other things to benefit from his coaching reputation. Being the National Team Director would actually put Bowman in a box that I'm not sure he should or would really want.

3. Augie Busch

Why? Nepotism!

Why not? Because the Swimswam comment section would spontaneously combust

4. Sergio Lopez

Why? Most people consider him one of the best coaches in the world. 

Why not? America can be a bit snobby about our position in the swimming world, so there could be a sentiment against hiring someone who's most similar job experience was for a tiny place like Singapore, no matter how well he did. 

5. Dave Durden

Why? He is very handsome and coached a number of the top athletes on the 2016 Olympic Team. Has been on international coaching staffs for quite a while despite still being young.

Why not? Does he want to stop coaching? The National Team Director doesn't do much coaching. Is he at the stage of his career where he wants to make such a move?

6. Teri McKeever

Why? Because she's really really well qualified

Why not? Life is not fair and misogyny is systemic. 

7. People Not From America

Why? Because they might have fresh ideas about how to improve American swimming

Why not? See the Sergio comments above. The only country "we" consider close to us is Australia and their coaching ranks are a complete mess at the moment.

8. Jack Bauerle

Why? Very successful college coach who is somehow peaking in his mid 60s.

Why not? Because Georgia apparently backed up the Brinx truck to get him to stay. 

9. Greg Meehan

Why? Greg Meehan is so hot right now. 

Why not? Very similar argument to Durden. Does he really want to step off a sure NCAA contender for the next decade at his age to not coach anymore?

10. Wild Card: Susan Teeter

Why? She's available right now. Great at telling the truth.




Teri McKeever Got Screwed Again

Here's a shocker for you: the 2017 American World Championship coaching staffs are out and there are no women. As usual, Teri McKeever is the biggest snub, but the fact that she stands alone as a female with a strong objective argument for being on the team is a problem of its own.

So let's discuss McKeever's case first, before we get into the extremely alarming state of women in coaching. The decision to leave McKeever was probably made on some objective grounds, so as to avoid any sense that this was personal. 

It's worth noting that head coach Greg Meehan was rightfully lauded for using his powerful position at Stanford to promote female coaching.

USA Swimming's official selection criteria does not specify how coaches were chosen, so the following is an educated guess on my part. 

Coaches were selected by having the highest level performer- This system is used across the world in many cases and many different forms. Perhaps swimmers were rank-ordered in terms of FINA points, the measure that purportedly compares performances in different events.

They also could have made the coach selection based on number of events qualified for, in which Leah Smith of Virginia has more events than Abbey Weitzeil and Kathleen Baker of Cal. 

Selection on such criteria reveals a deep flaw in the way in which we evaluate coaches, all the way down to the lowest levels. We tend to single out coaches best possible result instead of the totality of their work.

McKeever's longstanding track record of producing top international results would be a huge asset to the US squad. Any subjective criteria should have selected her to the staff, as she would provide much needed "big meet" experience to the squad.

To the larger point, male coaches need to continue to advocate for women at all levels to right this situation. On the college level, this means going beyond the silly "quota hiring" and actually finding and retaining top female coaches.

At the club level, we should all be pushing together to make coaching swimming less of a "family killer" because that would be better for all of us, not just women. 

Warren Buffet famously said that he only had to compete with half the population, and the same could be said for many of the elite male coaches out there. If you truly love the sport of swimming, you want to see the best coaches on the deck. It's on us to make sure that this far from fair system.

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