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TheGoodSmith
October 27th, 2008, 06:29 PM
What does it mean when we look at the performance of the US men's swimming team at Beijing without Phelps....... i.e. without the man carrying the team? Is he merely the "Vince Young" of a slightly above average football Team?

We essentially lose the 400 free relay, 100 fly (Ian moves form 4th to 3rd), 200 IM and 400 IM (Lochted moves to silver), 200 free and 200 fly. That's makes 6 less golds and one extra bronze.

The US would effectively only win 2 individual events...... the 200 and 100 back.

Is Phelps a true representation of the state of US men's swimming or and exception?


http://www.nbcolympics.com/swimming/medals/index.html

aquageek
October 27th, 2008, 06:50 PM
I don't know the answer to your question other than wondering if Phelps would be insulted being compared to another underachieving former Longhorn in the NFL.

stillwater
October 27th, 2008, 07:53 PM
I can't resist.

A lack of depth?

hofffam
October 27th, 2008, 08:02 PM
I don't know the answer to your question other than wondering if Phelps would be insulted being compared to another underachieving former Longhorn in the NFL.

I endorse this post.

notsofast
October 27th, 2008, 08:28 PM
Take away our best swimmer, and we're not so fast. . .

What would Olympic finishes have been were you to take away the best swimmer from Australia, France, etc.?

Allen Stark
October 27th, 2008, 08:31 PM
I was noticing that myself.Without Phelps this team was ordinary by US standards.Can't say it's a title IX thing as the Phelpsless men were about like the US women.Can say it's a foreign swimmer training in the US thing though.

Seagurl51
October 27th, 2008, 09:27 PM
You're only as strong as your weakest link, and whether we want to admit it to ourselves our not some performances at the Games this year were a little lackluster. I adore all those boys and their all amazing, but what happened to some of them? Hansen especially just didn't seem him self. I think the real test will be next Games. I think Lochte is still growing and it will be interesting to see what he can do when he's not sick. But a few of the other greats seemed this games to be on the way out and their status for the next four years is unsure.

Phelps obviously dominates and without we would have shuffled medals, but some of them might have been better races. He wins by such great margins that you can forget about the really close race for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. We might actually end up with more exciting race....though obviously he still brings a flair that people are going to watch forever. It's cool to see someone win by 3 body lengths.

mjgold
October 27th, 2008, 11:41 PM
You guys are forgetting that in the relay, Michael Phelps did not put us in the lead. If I remember correctly, and I am since I just watched it, Lezak actually won it for us by swimming the fastest 100m split in history (at least I think that's what they said). As for Phelps being either a true representation of US swimming or the exception, I think he's probably an exaggerated representation of the elite US swimmers. There are a lot of guys that can swim a bunch of events really well, just not at that level.

haroldbuck
October 28th, 2008, 09:15 AM
What does it mean when we look at the performance of the US men's swimming team at Beijing without Phelps....... i.e. without the man carrying the team? Is he merely the "Vince Young" of a slightly above average football Team?

We essentially lose the 400 free relay, 100 fly (Ian moves form 4th to 3rd), 200 IM and 400 IM (Lochted moves to silver), 200 free and 200 fly. That's makes 6 less golds and one extra bronze.

The US would effectively only win 2 individual events...... the 200 and 100 back.

Is Phelps a true representation of the state of US men's swimming or and exception?


http://www.nbcolympics.com/swimming/medals/index.html

Two problems:

One, you're assuming that if we took out Phelps we'd be replacing him with . . . no one. We'd probably be replacing him with a bunch of people who specialize in their events.

Secondly, at that level of competition, it's all about the extreme observations and the tails of the distribution. It's just not reasonable to make the comparison without comparing everyone. It's like saying, "Well, the Colts weren't that great two years ago, because if they didn't have Peyton Manning they wouldn't have won the Super Bowl."

You can "If . . ." forever and think you know what would have happened, but you never do.

aquageek
October 28th, 2008, 09:42 AM
I think another problem with this assertion is that it is a false premise, and certainly not applicable to swimming alone. It doesn't tell the story of swimming or any sport for that matter. A few dominant individuals in all sports will bloat the medal count and there are hundreds of examples. Pick any individual sport and you have the same potential argument. What would Jamaica have been without Bolt, US t and f without Lewis, speed skating without Jansen, gymanstics without whichever pixie was hot that year, the list is endless. Randomly excluding the top performer and then comparing the accomplishments of those remaining doesn't tell any story - the story is the whole picture.

Rather than the incessant pessimism you exhibit over the state of US swimming, I prefer to look at it as we are a country that consistently produces the top level performers, and that is applicable to all sports, not just swimming, with the notable exception of curling.

pwb
October 28th, 2008, 10:44 AM
I can't resist.

A lack of depth?

My fear is less about the immediate now and more about near term to long term future. I base this comment looking at the kids' meets I go to and seeing the female/male makeup of the teams. I only have daughters, so I'm not helping the ratio, but the disparity is very noticeable. On our kids team, we'll field A to E relays for the 11-12 girls and maybe field an A and B team for the boys.

If we want a long term, strong men's swimming in this country, we've got to increase the funnel of kids at the entry level and then keep them in the program. My hope is that guys like Phelps, Lezak, Lochte, etc. can really help market mens' swimming as a viable & "manly" sport for our young boys to aspire to.

chowmi
October 28th, 2008, 11:21 AM
I agree with hbuck and geek.

You cannot assume that taking one person out, everyone else moves up one place in unison. Look at Soni and what she did with the hand she was dealt!! Or Trickett and her I-made-it-to-the-medal-stand-because-the-Chinese-girl-false-started!

Goodsmith will love this one:
See women's 200 backstroke finals start list vs. final results. See also picture!!

Can you open this?
http://www.usaswimming.org/USASWeb/_Rainbow/Documents/fa21a773-d05d-4ba9-ac53-03f7f89be9ae/84_otrials.pdf


What does this mean for USMS men's swimming? Will there be less swimmers, or more? What is the trend, measured by USMS statistics (if any)?

Lump
October 28th, 2008, 11:37 AM
I don't really understand the orginal posters point or question. We weren't without Phelps, so why think about it. Any team iwth out the greastest swimmer in history would be a lesser team...duh. Phelps will be back in 4 years (in what capacity remains to be seen) and 4 years is a long time to refresh the talent pool. Who knows what will come out of it. But you can pretty much be guaranteed that the US will still be at the top of the talent pool (no pun intended).

knelson
October 28th, 2008, 11:53 AM
My fear is less about the immediate now and more about near term to long term future. I base this comment looking at the kids' meets I go to and seeing the female/male makeup of the teams.

Here's one more data point. I looked at the state cuts for HS swimming in Michigan, where I grew up, and they are actually the same or slower now than when I was in high school and that was 20 years ago! These are the boy's cuts. I have no idea about the girls.

TheGoodSmith
October 28th, 2008, 12:10 PM
Chowmi and Haroldbuck,

I fully agree with you that there are always remote possibilities of qualifies further down the list stepping up to superb performances. However, the likelihood of this happening in all 5 of Phelp's events, you will have to agree is not very probable. Actually, the likelihood of a 3rd place qualifier at the US Trials finishing 1st is not very common even before the reduction from 3 to 2 qualifiers prior to 1980 .

My point was to address the boys swimming issue that Knelson and Patrick Brundage have accurately pointed out. My son swims age group in Denver. There are routinely more girls than boys in every event by a margin of 20% or more.

I suppose you can mentally roll the dice and plan on a Phelpisan performance for the US team every 4 years, but I'd like to think the US continues to have the depth and ability to pull off a great haul like this even without him one day.

I know Geek will disagree as he believes there are no concerns in the swimming universe.


John Smith

aquageek
October 28th, 2008, 12:18 PM
..., but I'd like to think the US continues to have the depth and ability to pull off a great haul like this even without him one day.

It only took 36 years for it to happen after Spitz so I hope you are a very patient person.

I do know there are problems with our beloved sport, there are problems with every sport. I just simply don't believe every problem is a sign of the apocalypse.

justforfun
October 28th, 2008, 01:25 PM
I know local swim clubs and USA Swimming have been expecting an increase in membership following the Olympics, perhaps even greater than in past Olympic years due to Phelps' popularity. Does anyone know whether that has been realized? The time to join seems to have been the beginning of the fall short course season in September or so. I wonder whether any increases in USA registrations have been equally split among boys and girls.

hofffam
October 28th, 2008, 01:49 PM
The full demographics of USA Swimming for 2007 are available below:

http://www.usaswimming.org/USASWeb/_Rainbow/Documents/2ea893cc-9300-43bc-9771-927263dc12df/Statistics-2007.pdf

It shows almost continuous growth over the reporting period (since 1986).

There is some interesting data in the report.

At younger ages - females strongly outnumber males. For example 17,392 females vs. 11,154 males 12 years old.

But as the age moves up, more females drop out. At age 17, there were 8,232 females vs. 6,797 males. That is interesting to me since college swimming scholarships are more available for females.

The number of clubs dropped slightly (-20) from 2006 to 2007.

The athletes are overwhelmingly white or "no response". Not a surprise but an area for improvement. Surely many of America's best athletes are in other sports.

TheGoodSmith
October 28th, 2008, 02:35 PM
Hoffman,

Those numbers look pretty flat to me. If you normalize the data with the general population growth the news is not impressive.


John Smith

aquageek
October 28th, 2008, 03:30 PM
Hoffman,

Those numbers look pretty flat to me. If you normalize the data with the general population growth the news is not impressive.


John Smith

Stop making up stats, for the love of Moses. USA swimming was about 187.5K members in 1986 and about 280K in 2007, an increase in membership of 49%. The US population in 1986 was approximately 241m and it is currently estimated at about 306m, and increase of 27%. You are only off by about 80% in your claim, try again.

So, to use real numbers, if USA swimming grew at the same rate as the US population (a red herring of a statement to begin with) you would more expect to see the 2007 USS figures at 238K. USS has outpaced membership to USA growth by 22%.

I would conclude from these figures, not feelings, that USS has grown significantly faster than the US population as a whole. Further, knowing the current trends in population growth, I contend this is even more impressive given the changing demographics of our nation.

Redbird Alum
October 28th, 2008, 03:38 PM
John -

I'll take the bait... Phelps is an exception, like Mark Spitz.

I think men's swimming in the USA is struggling, and the continued loss of high school and collegiate level opportunities without an adequate replacement is going to hurt us in the long run. Add in the loss of summer-based park programs through the loss of community facilities, and the picture gets bleaker.

I do not believe YMCA, USA Swimming or USMS are adequate replacements. These groups require committment separate and beyond the school experience, outside the campus lifestyle and the sense of belonging to the school/university program that is such a large part of the developing individual's life.

Increasingly, swimming at the elite level is becoming something for the well to do, who can afford the costs of travel, personalized training, and in some cases tutoring to allow the individual to continue the sport.

Not an apocalypse, but certainly a concern.

Yet, individuals will rise where open opportunities give them the chance. As others have said, if not Phelps, then someone else who now gets a chance at performing with those above his skill level in an event, which is part of how we all get better.

TheGoodSmith
October 28th, 2008, 03:51 PM
Geek,

The question is the growth and onward success of US MEN in the sport...... not the growth of men and women combined.

US swimming represents less than a tenth of a percent of US the population.

It doesn't take much to swing the stats largely in either direction with such a small comparative base.

The sport is not doing well for enrollment for age group boys.

You have still failed to respond to my initial question directly. Absent Mr. Phelp's performance, this years medal haul could be viewed as marginal.


John Smith

aquageek
October 28th, 2008, 04:16 PM
Screw it, I'm tired of disproving emotional arguments with actual facts month after month. Good post, inaccurate and unsupported by published stats, but thought provoking nontheless.

TheGoodSmith
October 28th, 2008, 05:01 PM
NOW who's getting emotional.

Look..... why is it so controversial to take a closer look at US Men's Swimming and extrapolate the genetic mutation that basically carried the team?


John Smith

aquageek
October 28th, 2008, 05:23 PM
It's a fact of sports that the best player wins and typically carries the team. I don't see it as any big deal and most of us enjoy the spectacle.

Paul Smith
October 28th, 2008, 05:42 PM
There is no doubt that Phelps is a once in a generation phenom exceeding Spitz, Thorpe, etc. Interesting article awhile back on this forum from I believe an LA Times columnist that downplayed this however.

As for the US team's performance if you pull Phelps from the equation I think there should be some concern as much of the rest of the world seems to have caught up if you will...and yes in some countries like France & South Africa with a little help from our college programs.

So where do we stand today? I think some major questions are being asked in light of Nike pulling out of our sport and possible funding opportunities drying up for that 2nd tier of swimmers who didn't make the team this last go around and may not have the means to train for 2012 (Nick Brunelli being a possible example).

Now the big question, how limited could training opportunities become if the economy continues to go south? I know of one major pool project in AZ that has been put on the back burner and with budgets getting whacked big time how many public/high school pools will get shut down? How many college programs that are not endowed will get the axe?

Steve Ruiter
October 28th, 2008, 05:55 PM
More hypotheticals:

What if you took the top three swimmers like in the old days? It favors USA.

What if you took the top 4 swimmers from each country per event and score it like NCAAs or for A/B/C finals? USA looks better than the other countries, I'm sure. (Consider the backstrokes)

What if you took the top 8 swimmers from each country and score it like NCAA's? USA looks fantastic.

The deeper the cuts/scoring, the better the US looks.

A USA mens olympic B relay would probably not be in the medal hunt, but would be in finals, in 4th-6th, well ahead of most all other B relays.

Furthermore, if you make the points go to where you train rather than your home country, we look better still (Mellouli, S Africa, Cavic, etc.)

I can't come up with a hypothetical under which the US looks worse other than taking away swimmers, which seems rather dumb.

TheGoodSmith
October 28th, 2008, 06:06 PM
It's a fact of sports that the best player wins and typically carries the team. I don't see it as any big deal and most of us enjoy the spectacle.

Au Contraire my friend. Take a look for example at a stellar performers in the past..... e.g. Matt Biondi. In the 1988 Games he wins the 50 and 100 free but two Americans get 2nd to him.... Jager and Jacobs respectively in each event. The relays win by fairly decent margins, enough to remove Mr. Biondi from the equation and still take these events. The team appears to survive much better with Biondi's absence than the Phelps situation we have just witnessed.

Mr. Ruiter:

Your hypotheticals are fun to imagine, but they don't examine the team situation "sans" Phelps.


John Smith

aquageek
October 28th, 2008, 06:32 PM
You win, the sky is indeed falling, break out the hankies.

hofffam
October 28th, 2008, 06:35 PM
If in fact the USA's best men are not much faster than rest of world - is it because our men aren't improving much? Or is that the rest of world is catching up? I haven't looked at the details but I think American records continue to improve.

Other countries, like Japan, have a once in thirty years swimmer too - like Kitajima. Japan is on a resurgence in swimming, but only Kitajima is a WR holder.

France seems to have great sprinters, but do they have IMers and flyers?

No matter what the answers to these questions - I'd like to see USA swimming work harder to recruit more into the sport. I would really like to see more minorities, especially African Americans, swimming. Too many great athletes are playing other sports.

TheGoodSmith
October 28th, 2008, 08:07 PM
Hoffman,

Good questions !

As for African Americans in swimming...... Agreed !


John Smith

Michelina
October 31st, 2008, 04:29 PM
If I remember correctly, and I am since I just watched it, Lezak actually won it for us by swimming the fastest 100m split in history (at least I think that's what they said).

:agree:. Jason was outstanding.

Michael Heather
November 1st, 2008, 02:46 AM
Don't forget that Phelps set an American record to lead off the relay. Sullivan made him look slow by setting the World record on the same leg. Lezak showed what Americans expect of themselves- never give up. Truly a swim for history.

And more American boys would be an appropriate request for growing the sport. Going down the slippery slope of race based quotas is not in the best interest of the sport, just the way it has not been in the best interest of higher education or any other institution to which it has been applied. More interest on a broad level will give us the basis to excel. More kids (of any color or background) swimming will create demand for more pools and coaches.

USA swimming is starting a new inner city swimming program (my terms, not theirs) which will presumably affect many different races, depending upon the city demographics.

stillwater
November 1st, 2008, 12:16 PM
Going down the slippery slope of race based quotas is not in the best interest of the sport, just the way it has not been in the best interest of higher education or any other institution to which it has been applied. M

What a ridiculous and untrue statement.

hofffam
November 1st, 2008, 02:19 PM
Don't forget that Phelps set an American record to lead off the relay. Sullivan made him look slow by setting the World record on the same leg. Lezak showed what Americans expect of themselves- never give up. Truly a swim for history.

And more American boys would be an appropriate request for growing the sport. Going down the slippery slope of race based quotas is not in the best interest of the sport, just the way it has not been in the best interest of higher education or any other institution to which it has been applied. More interest on a broad level will give us the basis to excel. More kids (of any color or background) swimming will create demand for more pools and coaches.

USA swimming is starting a new inner city swimming program (my terms, not theirs) which will presumably affect many different races, depending upon the city demographics.

Has anyone here suggested quotas?!?!

Michael Heather
November 1st, 2008, 04:12 PM
What a ridiculous and untrue statement.

Prove it wrong.

Michael Heather
November 1st, 2008, 04:19 PM
Has anyone here suggested quotas?!?!

Look at posts #30 and 31. While not specifically stating quotas, it leaves open a door that should not exist. This country is full of opportunity, it is up to every individual to exploit that opportunity that is of most interest to them. Race is not a qualifier, nor is it a barrier.

hofffam
November 1st, 2008, 05:29 PM
Look at posts #30 and 31. While not specifically stating quotas, it leaves open a door that should not exist. This country is full of opportunity, it is up to every individual to exploit that opportunity that is of most interest to them. Race is not a qualifier, nor is it a barrier.

Since one of the posts you list is mine....I suggest you are reaching.

I simply believe it would be good for the sport to have more African-Americans competing in swimming. Many gifted athletes choose other sports. I want to see a few more of them choose swimming. I don't think it's going to happen unless USA Swimming or other swimming organization reaches out to these athletes and sells the sport to them.

stillwater
November 1st, 2008, 06:18 PM
Michael, keep worring about opening and closing doors. It will keep you occupied.

mjgold
November 2nd, 2008, 05:55 PM
:agree:. Jason was outstanding.

I have his autograph. It says "Michael, Dream Big!" I have it framed in my room, and I look at it on the way out to practice. I know that's horrendously cheesy, but I always have big goals for myself, so seeing that helps me focus on them.

Ken Classen
November 2nd, 2008, 07:50 PM
I know we love swimming, and there is lot to be said about the positives of are sport. I very much enjoyed my trip to Omaha for the trials. Part of it was just watching courteous and articulate swimmers, fans and the enjoyable conversations I had. I love to tell non swimmers about the benefits of swimming and that you probably have a better then 50/50 chance that the varsity swim team has the highest average GPA of any team on campus. But I ponder, what is really special about swimming versus any other sport and is our sport morally superior to others? Do we think it's just a matter of enlightenment and the outside world will see the light and come?

Let's take a moment think about what others outside are sport may think with some analogy's. Christian Evangelicals think there is the way to heaven until you run into those two Latter Day Saints (LDS) missionary's coming towards your house in there nice white shirt & tie, and they will say they have the truth.. My question is how do you feel when they try to ask you to church or do you shut the door turn off TV volume and hope they go away? Do you think the average Iraqi Sunni, Kurd and Shiite nows think western style democracy is just the best thing ever?

Now I don't know about other cities in this here land of ours, however I can speak to the urban Denver area. I can truly say we have no lack of competitive style swimming pools in both rec centers and our high schools. Complete with kick boards, paddles, pull buoys and state of art timing systems. As a former long time high school swimming official my observation is there simply isn't much interest in competitive swimming in these majority Hispanic and African American high schools, especially from boys. Now for those who feel otherwise, at least in Denver anyway, there is no lack of opportunity for someone who wants to walk the talk, and good luck too ya. However, I know it's hard to think this but maybe just maybe what we find so appealing, other individuals and groups do not. Lets face it theres a lot of other choices in the year 2008 and were not the only sport with outreach efforts. And what about those efforts, are they received with enthusiasm or is it here come those swimming do gooders again quick hide and hope we go away soon so they get back to there Madden football.

Chris Stevenson
November 3rd, 2008, 06:01 AM
But I ponder, what is really special about swimming versus any other sport and is our sport morally superior to others?

"Morally superior?" I don't see how we can say this about our sport. (Well, okay, unlike some other sports, we don't have to physically harm other people in pursuit of our goals. At least, not usually.)

But as far as what is special, the following come to mind and I'm sure others can add to them. In no particular order:

-- It is potentially a life-saving skill
-- It is a whole-body sport, which is healthy
-- It is a low-impact sport that can be enjoyed into a ripe old age
-- Related to this, one can begin at any age even if one is, ahem, pretty overweight, with less risk of injury
-- Swimming is good exercise and physical therapy for people with a number of common chronic ailments (eg arthritis, back problems, knee problems) and injuries
-- It plain feels good to be in the water

Paul Smith
November 3rd, 2008, 11:11 AM
"Morally superior?" I don't see how we can say this about our sport. (Well, okay, unlike some other sports, we don't have to physically harm other people in pursuit of our goals. At least, not usually.)

But as far as what is special, the following come to mind and I'm sure others can add to them. In no particular order:

-- It is potentially a life-saving skill
-- It is a whole-body sport, which is healthy
-- It is a low-impact sport that can be enjoyed into a ripe old age
-- Related to this, one can begin at any age even if one is, ahem, pretty overweight, with less risk of injury
-- Swimming is good exercise and physical therapy for people with a number of common chronic ailments (eg arthritis, back problems, knee problems) and injuries
-- It plain feels good to be in the water

But sadly it lacks any "coolness" (except in Mark Gill's case), is really pretty boring and takes an incredilbe amount of work...

Glider
November 3rd, 2008, 11:28 AM
I dunno, Paul. I can think of a pretty cool 400 M Free relay and 100 Fly finishes recently.

Too bad those kinda things happen in the public eye only one or twice every 4 years or so.

Mark


But sadly it lacks any "coolness" (except in Mark Gill's case), is really pretty boring and takes an incredilbe amount of work...

Chris Stevenson
November 3rd, 2008, 11:29 AM
But sadly it lacks any "coolness" (except in Mark Gill's case), is really pretty boring and takes an incredilbe amount of work...

What, Speedos aren't cool?

On the plus side, it has a well-established beer-drinking culture.

The Fortress
November 3rd, 2008, 11:36 AM
On the plus side, it has a well-established beer-drinking culture.

Alas, that doesn't help the young teens on the cusp of quitting because they have no social life or "chi-lax" time. Or the girls who spend all their time in PT or plateau-ing in their mid-teens.

Paul Smith
November 3rd, 2008, 12:05 PM
I dunno, Paul. I can think of a pretty cool 400 M Free relay and 100 Fly finishes recently.

Too bad those kinda things happen in the public eye only one or twice every 4 years or so.

Mark

Mark...I started a thread sometime back where beat up both USS & USMS for not having the vision to better market this sport knowing a once in a generation possiblity existed going into the Olympics that Phelps would make history....lots of excuses but the bottom line is swimming isn't marketed well if at all and in my opinion has done nothing to advance the sport to make it "cooler" and attract the same kids that Ken describes or in the case of Masters swimming that high school demogrpahic that doesn't make a college team and dissapears when they graduate not even know we exist.

Chris...you look cool in a Speedo....many of us look like overstuffed burritos!

Fort I wold argue the opposite....social time for many teens these days is playing video games.

The Fortress
November 3rd, 2008, 12:18 PM
Fort I wold argue the opposite....social time for many teens these days is playing video games.

Perhaps. But no video games in my house whatsoever.

As a parent of a teen boy and girl, the typical complaints I hear regarding lack of social life are usually from girls and usually involve wanting to see friends and doing things with friends more often. (For example, my kid had to stay home on Halloween because she had to get up before 6:00 am for a swim meet.) Plus, it seems to me that a huge percentage of teenage girls are in PT, which often doesn't work. Thus, they're practicing a lot, missing out on social things, crying about their times not improving at meets and in pain -- a deadly combo for continuing in a sport. So, in general, unlike GoodSmith, I'm more worried about teenage girls than boys.

hofffam
November 3rd, 2008, 12:35 PM
PT??

The Fortress
November 3rd, 2008, 12:38 PM
PT??

Physical therapy. Many of the girl swimmers I know seem to have a lot of trouble with their shoulders, knees and ankles. In teen girls, often muscle growth outstrips tendon growth, causing constant tendon pain.

hofffam
November 3rd, 2008, 12:54 PM
OK - I thought that might be what you meant - but I don't know of many teen girls currently in PT. None of my 14 yr. old daughter's (not a swimmer, but a diver and former gymnast) circle of friends/athletes is in PT.

I know of one girl, a track and soccer athlete, who has been injured many times and has been in PT off and on for a long time.

Paul Smith
November 3rd, 2008, 01:18 PM
Perhaps. But no video games in my house whatsoever.

As a parent of a teen boy and girl, the typical complaints I hear regarding lack of social life are usually from girls and usually involve wanting to see friends and doing things with friends more often. (For example, my kid had to stay home on Halloween because she had to get up before 6:00 am for a swim meet.) Plus, it seems to me that a huge percentage of teenage girls are in PT, which often doesn't work. Thus, they're practicing a lot, missing out on social things, crying about their times not improving at meets and in pain -- a deadly combo for continuing in a sport. So, in general, unlike GoodSmith, I'm more worried about teenage girls than boys.

So is this any different than it was 20-30 Years ago for any of us who swam in high school? Video games are new to the equation but for the most part my social life revolved around the friends that I had made in swimming and water polo and since we all had the same basic schedules it didn't seem anhone was left out?

One good thing about people who do get into swimming and stick with it is the ability to work hard/play hard...with 5, 6am workouts the nights (for some) may have been earlier but we learned to "make the bell"....don't think its a coincendence that swimmers almost always have the highest GPA's of any sport.

The Fortress
November 3rd, 2008, 02:05 PM
So is this any different than it was 20-30 Years ago for any of us who swam in high school?

One good thing about people who do get into swimming and stick with it is the ability to work hard/play hard...with 5, 6am workouts the nights (for some) may have been earlier but we learned to "make the bell"....don't think its a coincendence that swimmers almost always have the highest GPA's of any sport.

Perhaps not. I was much more of a nerd than my social butterfly daughter. I just hear an awful lot of chatter about how swimming is ungodly time consuming. One difference might be that, compared to 20-30 years ago, kids now have more competing activities, more homework, more AP classes, etc.

Most endurance sport athletes have good GPAs. Crew and cross country are just as high as swimming around here. Lacrosse, football and basketball, those getting the college scholarships, are comparatively a bunch of dolts. (I just said that to annoy the anti-Title IX groupies).

Hofffam, Here is fairly commonplace for girls in their early to mid teens to be in PT in a variety of sports. At least according to orthos I know and my own general observations (which are only anecdotal obviously).

aquageek
November 3rd, 2008, 02:22 PM
I don't know how to say this without coming across as a complete bigot, but here goes. I think this push to include traditionally non represented folks in swimming (or chose your under-represented sport of choice) solely for the sake of "taking it to the streets" seems rather pointless if you don't intend on changing the basic nature of the sport to begin with.

Accessibility and affordability are the two big handicaps for swimming participation. Both are expensive. Getting a bunch of under-represented kids to swim lessons once a week at a pool 20 miles away won't do it unless you build more pools, reduce the cost of swimming and make it less dependent on a very organized and affluent two-parent household base.

Three-day away swim meets cost a lot of money and require multi parent families and they are still a colossal pain to figure out logistically. This does not in any way mesh with inner city youth. It takes almost nothing to play basketball or football but swimming is different.

Obviously, the same thing can be said about tennis, golf, lacrosse, and increasingly baseball.

mjgold
November 3rd, 2008, 02:29 PM
I hate that this country has become a place where we have to preface our thoughts with "I don't know how to say this without coming across as a complete bigot". You aren't racist or a bigot if you're simply applying facts and statistics to a situation. It's not as if you're saying black people shouldn't swim because they're all poor, and probably suck at it anyway since it isn't basketball. You're just saying that inner city kids are not typically in a position to participate in a sport with the logistics of swimming. There is nothing wrong with that, because it's true. If you haven't noticed, I agree with you.

TheGoodSmith
November 3rd, 2008, 02:31 PM
The amount of minorities in competitive swimming really hasn't changed that much in the last 50 years...... too bad..... a lot of lost talent going to the Big 3 .

Geek may be right..... with the economy the way it is, it may unfortunately remain a white man's venue for a long time to come.


John

gull
November 3rd, 2008, 03:46 PM
Geek may be right..... with the economy the way it is, it may unfortunately remain a white man's venue for a long time to come.

Although a tee shirt depicting the President-elect wearing goggles might just spark some interest.

hofffam
November 3rd, 2008, 03:47 PM
A recent study showed that 60% of black children do not know how to swim. USA Swimming was involved in the study.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24411271/

Of course demographics has a great deal to do with the fact that only 2% of the kids in USA-S are black. Access to pools is surely a big factor. A year round pool is expensive.

But just because it isn't easy doesn't mean we shouldn't try to improve minority participation in the sport.

For Fort - I too have nothing to offer re: girls and PT other than anecdotal info. But the high school age swimmer kids here hang out with other swimmer kids - both genders. The kids I know complain about tests and homework way more than they complain about workouts.

Ripple
November 3rd, 2008, 04:35 PM
A recent study showed that 60% of black children do not know how to swim. USA Swimming was involved in the study.

...Of course demographics has a great deal to do with the fact that only 2% of the kids in USA-S are black. Access to pools is surely a big factor. A year round pool is expensive.

But just because it isn't easy doesn't mean we shouldn't try to improve minority participation in the sport...

That first statement is appalling. Kids don't have to get into competitive swim racing to learn how to swim, and they don't necessarily need an expensive state-of-the-art indoor pool.

I grew up in a low-income family/neighborhood, and my brothers and I had basic Red Cross lessons at a no-frills outdoor neighborhood pool that was only open from June to the end of August. Okay, we didn't become particularily good swimmers, but we had the basic how-not-to-drown-when-you-fall-out-of-a-boat skills.

Am I the only one that wonders if the YMCA has sort of drifted away from it's original intents? I once saw an old photo of actor William Shatner as a teenager, teaching inner city kids to swim at a Montreal YMCA. I couldn't help contrasting it to the exclusive and expensive downtown YMCA where I live. Even the suburban ones are pricey. Or is that just where I live? I can't imagine how a low-income single parent could afford them.

hofffam
November 3rd, 2008, 04:46 PM
From the article:


The lead researcher, Professor Richard Irwin, said one key finding was the influence of parents' attitudes and abilities. If a parent could not swim, as was far more likely in minority families than white families, or if the parent felt swimming was dangerous, then the child was far less likely to learn how to swim.

It isn't just demographics....

All children should learn to swim. At minimum it is a health and safety issue. And later in life - fear of water can be a social inhibitor. Beach recreation, boating, backyard pools, etc.

aquageek
November 3rd, 2008, 05:06 PM
I can't imagine how a low-income single parent could afford them.

I think the Y will never turn away someone for financial reasons that wishes to join. Family membership here is $95/mo.

stillwater
November 3rd, 2008, 06:23 PM
The Y's in my neck of the woods don't hand out free memberships.

I don't know if they are obtainable. I have tried, due to economic hardships caused by family medical problems. I was denied. I didn't workout in a pool for over 20 years.

They are a business. I respect thier need to protect the bottom line.

Scholarships based on economic need might help seed an interest in targeted communities.

Time to pony up the bread.

Glider
November 3rd, 2008, 06:39 PM
$72 a month for a family here, not to mention FREE: child care, kids center, teen rec center, home school program. And the list goes on, including swim lessons out the wazoo. You do pay a nominal fee for the lessons, but still, best value in town.


I think the Y will never turn away someone for financial reasons that wishes to join. Family membership here is $95/mo.

Michael Heather
November 3rd, 2008, 07:36 PM
I don't know if anyone else has this reaction, but I am frankly alarmed that teen girls need PT to deal with their sports involvement. I know that the growth years are painful at times, but girls mature physically far sooner than boys (12-13 vs. 18-21), and should not be stressing their bodies to the breaking point with tacit approval from parents.

If the coach is not amenable to a modified or reduced workload, then perhaps it is time to find a new sport. Muscle aches are common and to be accepted as progress in the sport, but joint injury is something that can follow for a lilfetime. This post is predicated on the assumption that the PT is actually necessary, and not a fashion treatment.

Kurt Dickson
November 3rd, 2008, 08:11 PM
I think the lack of minority presence in US swimming has less to do with finances than some might think, as they are constantly bussing poor kids to the YMCA I used to swim at to take a dump in the pool (before anybody gets riled up--I have every reason to believe white kids had an equal part in soiling my pool; my point being is that I think access is there if it is wanted).

Swimming is one of the hardest sports out there. You swim for 4 hours a day for a few minute race. As an example, why does Paul Smith swim a 50 when he can swim a great mile. For the real reason, you could ask him, but I submit it is because he doesn't have to. If one was good at basketball or football with the possibility of more scholarships, adoring fans, and cash, why would a kid choose swimming (I give you Kiki Vandewegh--Portland Trailblazers circa 1980s who had one of the oldest age-group national swimming records in the books--like 15 years for the 50 Back--we know what he chose but he may not be the best example as he was--and still is--a whitey.)

Ken, you can close the door and pretend not to hear us knocking, but we'll be back--as Dennis Hopper once said in the only good line from waterworld, "Well, if it isn't the gentleman guppie, you're like a turd that won't flush.":angel:

TheGoodSmith
November 4th, 2008, 12:29 PM
Kurt,

Despite your affinity to referencing fecies, you may have a point. Lifestyle is certainly part of the problem. Commitment, access and introduction to something new are both important to expanding the base.


John Smith

ddunbar
November 4th, 2008, 02:06 PM
I wonder if it a combination of opportunity to learn to swim and outside demands that might be keeping the numbers down.

We used to require Boy Scouts to earn the Swimming and Lifesaving merit badges if they wanted to earn their Eagle, now both are options that could be replaced with hiking or cycling for swimming, and emergency preparedness for lifesaving. A scout never has to get into a pool or a lake at all.

We used to have high school swimmers that did not train for AAU teams and were able to develop into fairly competitive swimmers. Now I don't think it is possible to start swimming in High School and be competitive.

The Houston Burb that I live in has neighborhood pools that have local summer league teams and there is one USA team. None of the High Schools have pools and they all share a District Natatorium that is also used by a local junior college.

And now we have year round baseball, year round basketball, and year round soccer to compete with. Come High school and we have the Great Satan - Band with competing AM and PM practices, mandatory Saturday practices, marching and contest seasons. It gets phys ed credit plus grades and fourth years get honors credit, rather than just credit.

Lots of options, fewer opportunities. Just my thoughts.

aquageek
November 4th, 2008, 02:12 PM
I may have to reluctantly agree with Smith that swimming is in bad shape if we are competing for the dorks in marching band to fill out our swim rosters.

poolraat
November 4th, 2008, 02:24 PM
I may have to reluctantly agree with Smith that swimming is in bad shape if we are competing for the dorks in marching band to fill out our swim rosters.

Careful now!!!

My wife, kids and I are (were) marching band dorks who swim. And the kids have done well in both. I agree that there are conflicts with practice times and competition schedules, but we just deal with it.

aquageek
November 4th, 2008, 02:51 PM
I will disclose I was in the band as well. Was not a fertile ground for athletic talent.

TheGoodSmith
November 4th, 2008, 03:09 PM
Band Geek? !

This is ammunition for a future "discussion"


John Smith

aquageek
November 4th, 2008, 03:24 PM
There is really no way to explain away being in the marching band. It stands by itself as a verdict of nerd-dom. I suspect Fort might say res ipsa loquitur.

Chris Stevenson
November 4th, 2008, 03:50 PM
There is really no way to explain away being in the marching band. It stands by itself as a verdict of nerd-dom.

You seem to have come to peace with it. I'll do you one better: I was on the Math Team in high school. We had competitions and everything.

(Wow, that was therapeutic.)

aquageek
November 4th, 2008, 04:02 PM
Chris - I have come to the conclusion that math geeks rule the world and make the jack.

mjgold
November 4th, 2008, 04:02 PM
You were a mathlete? Ha. I was in the German Honor Society, so I think we're about even there. Of course, I was a wrestler, so that cancels it out.

Paul Smith
November 4th, 2008, 05:21 PM
i will disclose i was in the band as well

i knew it, i knew it, i knew it!!!!!!!!

The Fortress
November 4th, 2008, 05:38 PM
There is really no way to explain away being in the marching band. It stands by itself as a verdict of nerd-dom. I suspect Fort might say res ipsa loquitur.

I'd be grateful to have a band nerd. Truly.

My son declined to be on the Math Team when pressed, so I'm screwed there too.

I was a nerd, but had other afflictions.

aquageek
November 4th, 2008, 05:46 PM
I was a nerd, but had other afflictions.

I, too, was a nerd, but had other addictions.

lefty
November 4th, 2008, 05:53 PM
I was in band, too.

I was startled by John's revelation that without our best swimmer we don't win as many medals or relays. Something incredible I just noticed: I took off my glasses and I'll be darned if I cannot see as well.

There will be a world wide water supply shortage in 10 years and swimming will no longer exist for what it is worth.

Paul Smith
November 4th, 2008, 05:55 PM
Fort...Geek...don't short change yourselves....your both still nerds and still have your addictions and afflictions...although they may be legal now.

pwolf66
November 4th, 2008, 07:17 PM
Gamer Geek
Computer Geek
Chess Geek
Sports Geek
Math Geek
Science Geek
Band Geek


wow, I think that about covers it.

Allen Stark
November 4th, 2008, 11:28 PM
I was Vice President of the Math Club and in the Chess Club as well as an Eagle Scout so I definitely earned my nerd credentials.Over coming that was probably the main driving force in my swimming.Perhaps surprisingly the swimmers were the "cool guys" at my High School.

BillS
November 5th, 2008, 12:01 PM
Gamer Geek
Computer Geek
Chess Geek
Sports Geek
Math Geek
Science Geek
Band Geek


wow, I think that about covers it.

You missed choir. I sang in the choir in both HS and college, and performed in musicals in high school. I remember going straight from the pool to musical practice my senior year, along with several of my fellow swimming/singing thespians. It didn't seem that odd at the time, but it was 1978.

Chris Stevenson
November 5th, 2008, 12:31 PM
You missed choir. I sang in the choir in both HS and college, and performed in musicals in high school. I remember going straight from the pool to musical practice my senior year, along with several of my fellow swimming/singing thespians. It didn't seem that odd at the time, but it was 1978.

I don't think it odd now.

I guess even we aren't nerdy enough for the yearbook staff. Or at least no one is admitting it (which, considering what we HAVE admitted to, says a lot.)

stillwater
November 5th, 2008, 12:36 PM
President of grade school Orchestra, member of regional youth symphony.

I would be late to concert performances due to swim meets, missing last minute changes to the score. The conductors didn't like that.

Oh, and as pathetic as it seems, we did look down our noses at the bandos

pwolf66
November 5th, 2008, 01:40 PM
You missed choir. I sang in the choir in both HS and college, and performed in musicals in high school. I remember going straight from the pool to musical practice my senior year, along with several of my fellow swimming/singing thespians. It didn't seem that odd at the time, but it was 1978.

No, I didn't miss it. Me and singing is NOT a combination that anyone needs to ever experience.

The Fortress
November 5th, 2008, 02:22 PM
After reading all your posts, I recant my prior admission of nerd-dom. I was obviously a way cool chick.

imspoiled
November 6th, 2008, 10:40 AM
I was a band geek, married a band geek, and have spawned the ultimate in band geekdom--the drum major. The spawn is also a kick-a*s breaststroker and an honor student, so really no redeeming qualities at all.

Band geeks rock. They get to go to all the football games for free!

Doesn't just our small sampling of nerd-dom support the idea of swimmers being the smartest athletes?

ALM
November 10th, 2008, 11:19 PM
I got the latest "Outside" magazine in the mail today. W. Hodding Carter has a "memo to Michael Phelps," where he asks Phelps to "save swimming." A quote from the article:


"....Aside from your eight wins, U.S. swimmers grabbed only four other individual golds in Beijing, continuing our sport's steady spiral down to Davy Jones's locker. This is happening because our farm system has been eroding for years, especially where boys are concerned. Compared with female swimmers, the number of males competing in amateur meets at every level has been dwindling for a while now. And since the '70's, at least 64 colleges have dropped male swim teams from their varsity lineups, claiming they don't have enough money because of the funding demands of Title IX. (Meanwhile, some of these same broke universities can afford plenty of football scholarships for players who warm the bench on perennially losing teams.) Why would boys want to excel in a sport that can neither help them get into college nor even allow them to compete at the intercollegiate level?

This matters because, as you know, swimming is the greatest participatory sport in the world. Think about it. There's hardly any other (somewhat) popular athletic activity in which boys and girls train together day in and day out, share the same lane, do the exact same sets, and work to exhaustion side by side, starting before they can read, even. Through proximity and repetition alone, swimming teaches gender blindness. And except in your case, Your Neptunitude, girls beat boys in practice on a daily basis. I can't begin to count the number of times a female beat me in a distance set when I was a kid or in college. (It happens still.)...."

mjgold
November 11th, 2008, 12:02 AM
My school is one of the 64. Go Rutgers! That reminds me though, I have to register for classes next year.