Aqua Notes

Chinese Medal Podium Blitz (It’s not a dance)

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Hi. I’m Gary Hall Jr. and I’m going to kick your ass. Not literally. Should you choose to step up on the starting block next to me you’re going to lose. That’s all I’m saying.

Training is going well. I’m just starting to get into it and things are looking good. I feel good. I wake up in the morning and say, “I feel like doing something today.” Lately, it’s changed a little bit to “I feel like doing something incredible today.” It’s awesome.

I know the introduction to this Aqua Note is worded strongly. I have a reputation as a loudmouth that I have fun living up to occasionally. You should try it sometime. You’ll find that if you point to the left field bleachers before stepping up to bat you focus a little more, and swing a little harder. If you hit it out of the park, you look really cool. If you don’t, so what! I’ve never met a champion that was afraid of failure. I am not driven by fear. It’s no way to live. Read more


The 7-Degree Tilt

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Last week, I was whizzing across the Gulf Stream in the 38-foot Fountain Race Club sport fisherman, heading for my favorite diving spot. The three 275 HP Mercury Verado outboards were ripping this 7 ton vessel through the water with an apparent ease that any sprinter would envy. Yet when I glanced down at the speedometer on the console and saw that we were barely breaking 50 mph, I was disappointed. “This boat with these engines should go 60”, I thought to myself.

I pushed hard against the three throttles again and sure enough, they were maxed out. Then I remembered the engines were down all the way. I hadn’t tilted them up. I pushed the control that tilted the engines simultaneously up to about 7 degrees of tilt and all of a sudden, the boat spurted forward like it just took a second wind. Within seconds, we had topped the 60 mph mark. “Wow,” I smiled, “now that is speed”. Read more


What is an allowable limit?

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What is an allowable limit? In Nathan Jendrick’s book Dunks, Doubles and Doping: How Steroids Are Killing American Athletics, I remember a chapter where a former athlete and user of illegal performance enhancing drugs talks about how utterly ridiculous the allowable limit ratios are. For testosterone the allowable limit was 6:1 (testosterone to epitestosterone). The normal balance for a healthy young man is 1:1.

What if an athlete with the means to hire a private doctor with the resources to keep a testosterone level steady at, let’s say, a ratio of 5:1. This ratio is still within the allowable limit set by FINA or the World Anti Doping Agency. The athlete is adhering to a VERY strict regime of testosterone injections and should their level ever go over the set target of 5:1 then the doctor simply ups the counterbalancing hormone epitestosterone with another injection. Read more


The World Team II

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The arrival of Matt Macedo at The Race Club is exciting news for a couple of reasons. First, the obvious, Matt is an excellent coach that has proven himself over the years and will contribute to our program tremendously. With Matt’s arrival we open our doors to a number of athletes that are on their own way to becoming the next generation of great swimmers.

I have often described The Race Club as a swimming academy. It is an honor to welcome a World Team graduate to the ranks of Race Club Perfessor (coach).

There are simply too many people that want to train with Perfessor Mike Bottom. Many talented young swimmers that have yet to reach their full potential have been turned away in the past. We did not have the space or resources to accommodate everyone.

By creating a World Team II we are able to advance the swimming accomplishments of swimmers that aren’t quite at the Olympic medal podium level, YET. We are able to place athletes in an environment that will catapult them into the next level. Read more


Detective Work

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I always try to put myself in the shoes of others. I imagine what it’s like to drive a Bentley without a license and have more Chihuahuas than brain cells or what it must be like to be Carrot Top. By doing so I find myself sympathizing with those that initially I can?t understand.

Here is a post from a Timed Finals article http://www.timedfinals.com/10082007/in-my-mind-its-time-to-get-tough-on-doping/ on an issue that I have weighed in on from time to time over the years: CHEATERS IN SPORT. Read more


Swimming For A Few Dollars More

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When I was young, about 10 to 14, my aunt and I had a system of hustling swimmers out of their cash. I had a privileged upbringing. My grandfather would take us over to Europe in the summers. We would stay at these really nice resorts and at every pool at every resort there would be some swimmer putting in laps.

I was a kid and would act like a kid, splashing around in the shallow area. My aunt was my supervisor, assuming the duties of babysitter to her nephew at the pool. She would approach the swimmer and get to talking with them. Usually, or almost always it was a male. Read more


Pan Ams: Soldier Through

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My bags are packed and the majority of the team is headed out to enjoy their last night in Rio de Janeiro. Most were able to see Christ the Redeemer today while the few of us that still have to swim sat behind hoping to close this meet on a good note.

About 64% of the men’s team swam a lifetime best at these Pan Am Games. About 86% of the women’s team swam lifetime bests. That’s impressive. Read more


Pan Ams: An exercise in tough

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Beating Brazil in Brazil is like, hard. We knew it was going to be tough but now that we are in the competition and actually having to do it, well, it’s tougher to do tough than it is to talk about tough. I am reminded that this is and was always the case.

This young US team is doing a bang up job. There is no doubt about it. Every swimmer here has made the US proud, swimming their guts out in these Pan Am Games. They have been gracious in victory and defeat. I am sure that you will see some of these swimmers on the Beijing trip. Read more


Pan Am Open Water Swimming: Exciting!

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The race setting could not have been more beautiful, with the course stretching along the world famous Copacabana beach. The weather was perfect. The seas were a little rough. Make that really rough. In the distance the surfers looked on, missing barreling sets to see the Xtreme swimming.

Two US men summit the medal podium to kick off what is sure to be a great meet for the US team in swimming. The talented Fran Crippen won the 10K open water event today in a time of two hours 2 minutes, and 24 seconds. Chip Peterson finished just five seconds behind in what can be considered a photo finish for open water swimming. The two battled it out the entire race with Chip leading until Fran “Madman” Crippen pulled ahead at the end in a gutsy finish. Third place was Brazilian Allan Carmo in two hours 3 minutes and 53 seconds. Read more


2007 Pan Am Games

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Rio de Janeiro here I come. One Patrick O’Neil, member of the Race Club’s World Team and Pan American team, and your humble narrator have been sitting in the belly of a plane on the hot tarmac of Miami International Airport. Our flight has been delayed for close to seven hours. Couple that with the two hours drive up from the Florida Keys and another two for a timely check in and we are eleven hours en route and we haven’t even left yet.

We are due to fly to the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro sometime, through Washington DC, and then through Sao Paolo. It’s like flying from Los Angeles to Tokyo, through St. Louis and Kyoto. Crazy. But that’s what happens when you make the United States Swimming National team and anyone who has will tell you about some crazy flight. It’s some game of international leapfrog with layovers. It is my belief that a schizophrenic chimpanzee handles the travel arrangements for USS, or an undead Marky Ramone.

So, forgive me if I am a little grumpy. The bright side is that I’ve got a lot of time to write out my first piece for Timed Finals. I’ll try to write in about the happenings of the Pan Am Games in Rio. They should be good, if this delay isn’t an omen. Read more