Cap & Goggles

Only a Swimmer Knows the Feeling

Category: Junior

The Recruit

Bolles backstroke king, Ryan Murphy, chooses Cal… Was it the right decision? 

It’s a nice problem to have. Universities lining up, begging you to join them, offering you an all expense paid education, assuring you that as a Bear, Gator, Cardinal, Longhorn, or Tiger, you will win many NCAA titles. Girls will be lining up to meet you. Whatever campus you choose, you will be a big man on it. Champagne problems indeed…

But it’s still a hell of a choice. And despite what they say, you can indeed go wrong.

The bluest of the blue chips this year is a young man from Jacksonville, Florida named Ryan Murphy. Also commonly known as The Next Great American Backstroker. His age group and high school career to this point have been pretty much perfect. Young Murphy placed 6th and 4th respectively in the 100 and 200 back at the U.S. Olympic Trials last summer. Many thought he had a great shot to make the Team. Four years from now, he will. Whether he will be on the podium in Rio has a lot to do with where he swims the next four years.

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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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Joy in Mudville

Todd Schmitz and the Art of Play

It’s Sunday morning. You’re 16-years-old. You’re in incredible shape, you swim over twenty miles a week after all, but right now all you want to do is sleep. When you decide to wake – late – you just want to relax, waste away the day on Facebook, far from the pool. Who can blame you?

Some coaches understand this basic need for balance and step-away sanity. Others don’t. There’s a school of thought that says young swimmers should be in the water everyday. Seven days a week, 365 days a year, for years on end. Physically speaking, there is a lot to be said for this. It works. Constant contact with the water, never losing the feel for your strokes, ever, not for one day throughout your teenage years… This path produces champions. Long term sanity not included.

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Forgotten Architects

The Coach and the Credit…

Breakthroughs are coming. Lifetime performances on that one-fine-day when it all comes together… At Olympic Trials throughout the world over the next few months, certain swimmers will stand up and do the things they’ve always dreamed of doing. They will be the chosen few. The ones who peak at just the right moment, who swim best times beyond their wildest goals, and earn their place on the Team. When this happens, they will weep and throw pumpers and thank the many fine folks who helped them get there. They will likely start with their coach. But which one?

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Just Kids

Letter from Junior Nationals… When Did These Kids Get So Fast?

Maybe it’s time to drop the “Junior.” Can we just call them “18 & Under Nationals?” Because what just went down in Austin, Texas last week was anything but junior… Sure, the kids were all in high school, or even younger, but the times they posted – scratch that, the times it took just to get there – were stunningly accomplished. Some didn’t seem real, not for kids born a decade and a blink ago in the late 90’s.

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Boys Beating Girls

Here’s the pitch: Awkward high school boy longs to swim. The only sport he’s good at, the only thing that makes him feel good about himself. But, sigh, there’s no boys swim team at his school. So, what does young Eddie (let’s call him Eddie) do? He sucks up his pride and joins the girls team. See, thanks to gender equity laws, no one can stop him. Girls can join boys’ teams, right? So, why not the reverse, if the same opportunities aren’t offered to the guys? Girls reluctantly welcome him on their team. Heart-warming hilarity ensues. Thinking Michael Cera as the lead…

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