Aqua Notes - The Race Club

Black History Month

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Black History Month:

February was black history month. There are 300,000 registered swimmers with USS. Fewer than 2% are black. The Race Club is about racing in the pool but recently the other type of race is being addressed, with the release of the movie PRIDE, the news surrounding Cullen Jones and United States Swimming recently bringing in diversity specialists and creating outreach programs. Here is a link to an inspiring article about Brielle White, an African American swimmer that is training for the 2008 Games: Brielle and I will be going to the Pan American Games this summer, and I look forward to getting to know her. Read more

World Championship Preview

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Take a letter. Address it to Craig Lord.,21985,21310178-14641,00.html

Above is the article from the Herald Sun, the interview that I had with Rebecca Williams. And below is the link to Craig Lord’s article for

I get the feeling Craig Lord doesn’t like me very much. Fine, I can live with that AND sleep well. But look here, I didn’t slam Australian Swimming as some pinhead on another website suggests. I am DISAPPOINTED that the Australian team has faltered since Sydney, I’m not reveling in it. I have taken the time to cut and paste the context that I feel validates any comment I made to Rebecca in an article where we were discussing the Australian MEN’S swim team. Read more

The Sport Legend Movie

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There are two type of people in this world, those that believe there are two types of people in this world and those that don’t.

People either like the sports movie and have seen every one of them, or there are those who don’t like the sports movie and roll their eyes at the memory of that speech that is supposed to raise your hair that the coach always gives in the locker room to a dejected team that emerges to give 110%, winning at the last second. Whether you think that the sports movie is cheese or not, they do serve a purpose. Read more

Still Trying to Catch the Green Flash

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Good times – really bad summer weather in Switzerland brought me “back home” to Islamorada. Enjoy some sun and outside swimming, that’s exactly what I needed to start my winter season. Another good reason for me to come back of course is that I still need to catch the Green flash.

Green flashes are “rare” optical phenomena that occur shortly after sunset or before sunrise, when a green spot is visible for a short period of time above the sun, or a green ray shoots up from the sunset point. It is usually observed from a low altitude where there is an unobstructed view of the horizon, such as on the ocean (so Islamorada in the Florida Keys should be a perfect place to catch it). Its explanation lies in refraction of light in the atmosphere and is enhanced by atmospheric inversions. Whilst we would expect to see a blue light, the blue is dispersed (this is why the sky is blue) and only the green light remains visible. With slight magnification, a green rim on the top limb of the solar disk can be seen on most clear-day sunsets. However, the flash or ray effects require a stronger layering of the atmosphere and a mirage which serves to magnify the green for a fraction of a second to a couple of seconds. And I was told that it is a good thing to see the green flash. Can’t say if it’s true or not, but I really would love to see a Green flash once. Read more

Summer 2006 Season Recap

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I started training in June over in Croatia. The Hall Family headed over to Croatia to train and attend a couple of competitions. What sticks out in my mind is the meet organizer guy that dropped me off at the airport. He said as we pulled up to the gate, “I hope that you come back again next year …………. And TRY!!!” He didn’t even slow down that much as I was thrown from the car. I rolled a few times and dusted myself off.

But that’s where it all began, a 23.9 after just one swim practice after taking nearly two years off. I continued training though and by the Janet Evans Invitational a little over a month later I had my time down to a 22.7. Nationals saw another drop for me, a pleasant surprise of 22.49 which tied me for fourth place. I don’t understand how the selection process works but I was placed on the Pan Pacific team. Read more

That’s right, what, you forgot about me?

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Hold on. If I may, I would like to say that the idea of condensing the format of the swim meet is not a bad idea, certainly worthy of discussion. Meets are too long for both the swim parent and also the spectator. We aren’t trying to turn it into football or any other sport by trying to accommodate viewers. That’s marketing, and there is nothing wrong with marketing swimming. How do we shorten the program without cutting “the fat” (i.e. breaststroke, the skipping race of swimming) and offending people (i.e. breastrokers)? By the way, I am not against breast stroke.

One, cut out semi-finals. Why do we have them? The only time a meet wants more swimming is at the Olympics because swimming gets high television ratings and high ratings mean more $$$. So, the Olympics are the one exception, in more than a few ways. No other meet comes close to marketing itself to the general public the way the Olympics do. Other meets should not be following the lead of the exception. Read more

Shark Tales

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One morning Gary, Elizabeth, and I decided to go for a dive. We’re off the FL Keys and shark tales are just that… tales. We headed about three miles offshore and reached our destination. Gary and I jumped in the water, spears in hand, as Elizabeth grabbed a spinner and began fishing from the boat. A huge snapper here, and an enormous grouper there, we were quickly 200 meters away from our boat. Elizabeth held the reigns on our vessel as Gary and I scoured the sea for dinner.

Before long, Gary had shot a snapper, and I, a grouper…both too big for our weak little spears (Yeah, that’s right. I’m blaming the spears, not our skills). Gary descended again, this time for the kill. The end of his spear held the biggest snapper I had ever seen. Knowing we had two bleeding fish under the rocks below us, I went down to grab a grouper with my own spear before heading back to the boat. When I headed down, I saw I shark. This was no ordinary shark. This was a type of shark that I had never seen before, and that’s all I needed to know. Read more

My Race Club Experience

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For years, I have enjoyed watching the Race Club coaches, Mike Bottom and Jon Olsen, create workouts for their swimmers that are out of the box….I mean way out of the box. Coming from an era of hard yet predictable workouts, it is refreshing to watch swimmers train where they don’t have a clue what might be coming next. And to be truthful, I don’t think the coaches always know either. Depending on how the group looks, feels, acts, there is always room for a lot of improvisation. Often it seems like crazy stuff…pulling with weights wrapped around ankles, kicking with a cinder block pressed against the abdomen, out of the water for a boxing session, a sprint session with a stretch cord wrapped around the waist, back out of the water for a few dunks on the basketball court, then back in for more sprints. The only thing predictable about these workouts is the result: fast swimming. And the swimmers never get bored. Read more

Swimming with Dolphins in Islamorada

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It’s amazing how, given a little bit of inspiration, we’re able to conquer fears. I personally have a fear of sharks (probably shared by many). That fear is heightened when I find myself in murky waters where I can’t see what’s happening below me. It’s a fairly sensible fear mostly, except that I sometimes have irrational visions of JAWS chasing me down!

Today, I was absolutely blessed with an amazing experience that helped me at least momentarily overcome my shark phobia. Me, John Carter (my team-mate from Sydney University who is training with me in Florida) and our friend Dewey were out on the speed boat cruising with the wind in our hair. John called out that he’d spotted wild dolphins in the murky waters of the Gulf we were crossing over. Read more

Motivational Letter to a Discouraged Swimmer

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I got word that you are having some difficult times with the training that swimming requires. I know what you’re thinking because I have thought it myself. Every swimmer goes through that. We ask ourselves questions like, “Why am I doing this?” when things aren’t fun.

It’s a good question. Do you know the answer? There aren’t any magic words that I can say that will make you leap from your bed every morning for the rest of your life exclaiming, “Today, I will swim!” because there are going to be days when you don’t feel like getting out of bed. There are going to be days when you would rather be hanging out doing normal stuff with friends than swimming practice. I will tell you that by identifying what you like about swimming, why you are swimming, and focusing on that during those tough days will make getting through it a LOT easier. Read more