Cap & Goggles

Only a Swimmer Knows the Feeling

Category: Coaching

The Gender Gap in Coaching

Why are there so few female head coaches?

She was the head coach of the U.S. women’s Olympic team. A group that delivered the finest performance of any women’s swim team in U.S. Olympic history. She’s the coach of the defending NCAA champion Cal Bears. She just signed Missy Franklin, the greatest recruit in the history of college swimming. It’s been a good year for Teri McKeever. She is, very arguably, the best coach of female swimmers on the planet.

She is also in lonely company. McKeever remains one of the few women leading an NCAA women’s swim team.

Of the 49 teams that scored points at last year’s women’s NCAA Championships, only eight were led by a female head coach. Two of those eight – Lea Loveless of Stanford and Christina Teuscher of Yale – are no longer the coaches of their programs this year. Both were replaced by men. This means that about 90% of the teams you can expect to see at this year’s NCAAs will be led by men.

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Life is a Carnival

Go Blue… Check out Michigan’s Water Carnival…

Swim meets are boring. Sorry, but you know it’s true. There are moments of incredible, intense excitement. There are races you came to see, swimmers worth the price of admission, even if they’re only in action for 47 seconds of a many hour affair. But the overall event? The prelims and the processions and the podiums? The waiting. The waiting and the waiting for the few heats you actually care about… It can be brutal.

This is coming from a dyed in chlorine swim addict.

Of course there are exceptions. The U.S. Olympic Swim Trials were as exciting as any sporting event I’ve been to, this side of the World Series. Every March, the NCAA Championships are packed with six sessions of edge of your seat drama. Plenty more to be sure, you don’t need the world’s best to be there for the meet to be great, but c’mon, as a rule swim meets aren’t exactly Must See TV.

There must be better ways of staging these things. You’ve heard that before, right? Well, it’s nice to hear someone is doing something about it. Cheers to Mike Bottom and his crew at Michigan. This Saturday, October 6th, they’re hosting the first annual (sure to be a tradition) Water Carnival.

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The Altered States of Swimming

As we enter the post-Phelps era, the sport finds itself reeling between robust health and on-going sickness…

A new Olympiad has begun. Michael Phelps is gone. Ryan Lochte is becoming Derek Zoolander. Missy Franklin continues to resist millions so she can swim in college. That’s the narrative of the big three, anyway. The three short hand stories of the sport that have spread into the mainstream. That’s what your friends in the dry land world know about swimming. They might have also heard about some dark sex scandals, involving coaches and teenage swimmers, but we’ll get to that in a bit…

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of this blog. It was started last September with a piece entitled The Phelps Effect. It detailed the ways that Michael Phelps’s dominance may have killed off the depth and ambition in American swimming. There was evidence of that back at the World Championships in 2011. At the Games in London, the symptoms of this ‘Phelps Effect’ appear to have been killed off. Just ask Tyler Clary, Matt Grevers, and Nathan Adrian – three American guys not named Phelps or Lochte who raced to individual Olympic gold this summer.

Seventy-five stories later, this site has managed to piss off, provoke, and hopefully entertain and enlighten many in the swimming community. Just what I’d hoped for… And so it seems like a fine time to take a step back and examine the sport in its many altered states.

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Code of Misconduct

Roundtable idea for this year’s ASCA conference: Turning a Blind Eye… 

Welcome to Vegas, coaches. Another American Swimming Coaches Association conference due to start in Sin City tomorrow. Plenty of backslapping in store this year. After all, you lead the world’s greatest swimmers. Something that was proven yet again in spectacular fashion at this summer’s London Games. Team USA is the state of the art when it comes to swimming. This has always been so, and even with Phelps departing that dominance shows no sign of slowing.

So, belly on up to the blackjack table, knock back some whiskeys, hit on your cocktail waitress, and otherwise do what one comes to Vegas to do. You know the saying: What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas… Translation: Not to worry, in Las Vegas, your misbehavior will remain a secret. How appropriate. Given the current climate, whoever picked this year’s host city sure has a sick sense of humor.

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He Was God to Me

Kelley Currin speaks to NPR about Rick Curl’s sexual abuse – and the many coaches and swimmers who knew and said nothing…

After all this time, why is she speaking out now? How did it start? How could so many have known and not one have come forward?

Kelley Currin spoke to NPR this week and in a searingly honest interview, she answered those and many other troubling questions. One thing she could not answer for: the conscience of all those coaches and swimmers who knew about about it and never did a thing. Some of these folks kept right on working for the man, kept collecting their paychecks and moving up in the world of swimming, because that statutory rapist also happened to be a brilliant swim coach.

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“The Worst Kept Secret in Washington”

Long ago underage sex allegations against Curl-Burke founder Rick Curl… 

On the eve of the Olympics, a buzz kill bombshell out of the Washington, D.C. swimming community… In an exclusive front page story by none other than the Washington Post, allegations that A-list coaching legend Rick Curl had a long term relationship with a teenage swimmer. Let’s cut right to the heart of this: When it started, she was 13, he was 33. It apparently lasted for four years. That is, through her middle school and high school years.

This was long ago, in the 80’s. 23 years of silence for the girl, now the woman. Her name is Kelley Currin. As a swimmer, before she was married, older swimmers and coaches will remember her as Kelley Davies. She was a bad ass. She was the Pan Pacific Games champion in the 200 fly back in 1987. During those years training to become a champion, it seems her coach was having a criminal sexual relationship with the young teenager.

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