SWIMNEWS ONLINE: April 1996 Magazine Articles

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Backwash features short clips, gossip, letters and opinions. Contributions are welcome. Now for the rumours behind the news.

Heads Up! What encouraging news it was to hear that two steel girders collapsed at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Centre late last month.

The apparent cause was thought to be a bad welding job, but the results of a preliminary investigation by the Atlanta Organizing Committee have revealed "no defects" in the structure. Hmm. The girders were part of a construction meant to support a roof extension over the Olympic pool and apparently weighed about 4 metric tonnes each. No one was injured, but it might be wise to take a hard hat along to Atlanta this summer...

Thumbs Down The brick award goes to the French Swimming Federation for a monstrous oversight at the 1996 Paris World Cup.

It was confirmed in late March that Russian butterfly star Denis Pankratov's world record times cannot be recognized as world records nor listed in the FINA world rankings as no doping control was carried out. Pankratov set short course world records in the 100 and 200 butterfly events.

The new rule, approved in Rio de Janeiro on Nov. 28, 1995, states that all world record swims must be ratified by a doping control test certificate. Unforgivable indeed.

Athletes Fight COA Time Limit A recent decision by the Canadian Olympic Association to limit the time that athletes can stay in the Olympic village has sparked outrage in the athletes' camp. The "accommodation policy" would have athletes arriving as late as possible in Atlanta, and leaving as soon as 72 hours after they have finished competing.

The Canadian Athletes Association, recently renamed Athletes CAN, spoke up on behalf of the athletes, arguing that part of the Olympic experience is the opportunity to mingle with the best in the world from all sports and to participate in either the opening or the closing ceremonies.

The COA cited financial problems and concerns that noise caused by finished competitors hanging around the village would disturb those who still had to compete.

Ann Peel, the chairwoman of Athletes CAN, pointed out that the cost issue was ridiculous as the athletes' accommodation is looked after by the host city. As for the noise, all athletes are required to sign a code of conduct agreement and any disturbances should be addressed accordingly after they happen.

Swimmer's Representative Keltie Duggan consulted the swimmers on the problem. "The swimmers felt the policy was unfair," she said. "If they were swimming the first day of the meet they wouldn't be able to go to opening ceremonies because they would be resting." That would mean that closing ceremonies are out of the question too, as swimmers would be on a plane home soon after finishing. "I found out the necessary information and we're writing a letter that Athletes CAN will be able to take to their meeting with the COA. Hopefully they will change their minds."

That meeting will be held at the end of April. Peel, a lawyer, told Duggan that the policy violated the IOC philosophy and that there was a good chance that something could be done.

Coaches Honoured On the third evening of competition at the Maritime Life Olympic Trials, outstanding Canadian coaches Gaye Stratten of Hamilton, Ontario, Ron Jacks of Victoria, B.C., and Rafael Polinario were named SNC's Coaches of the Year for 1995.

Stratten coached Joanne Malar to a double gold medal performance at the 1995 World Short Course Championships in Rio de Janeiro in December. Malar also won two golds, four silvers and a bronze at the 1995 Pan American Games in Argentina, setting a Canadian record in the 400 IM. Stratten was selected for the award as the result of a unanimous vote conducted by the board of directors of the Canadian Swim Coaches Association.

In the Long Distance category, Jacks earned Coach of the Year honours following world champion Greg Streppel's 25 km gold medal performance at the 1995 Pan Pacific Championships.

Polinario received the award in the Swimmers with a Disability category after coaching world record holder Elisabeth Walker to two golds, one bronze, and a world record in the 100 backstroke in class S7 for swimmers with a disability.


Overheard on deck:
"How do you spell Malar?"

On the Trials:
"This meet is an exercise in stress management."

On the state of men's swimming in Canada:
"Time to take off the bandaid and bring out the full body cast."

Quebec TV to Jean-Nicolas Poirier, on his finishing fifth in the 100 breast:
"So you finished fifth! I guess you won't be on the relay!"

The following is a copy of a letter sent to Mike Brannagan, producer with CBC Sports.

My name is Dean Kondziolka, and I am a competitive swimmer who recently competed at the 1996 Montreal Olympic Trials. I would first like to request a copy of the men's 100 and 50 freestyle from that competition. If you require a fee for the request, please let me know, but it is important that I get those races for analysis in preparation for further races to qualify for the Olympic Games.

The second part of this letter is to ask you, and/or whomever was in charge of the production of the Trials, a few questions regarding the program. As I anxiously awaited the broadcast for the previous week, along with many people who follow me and Canadian swimming, I finished watching the show with disappointment. This view is not only mine but is shared by many who I have talked to over the past four days. However, I am writing on behalf of myself, someone who not only enjoys swimming, but is an active competitor. The Olympic Trials are, for about 99% of all swimmers, the biggest meet of their lives, with only a handful continuing on to the actual Games.

After 15 minutes into the program, and just starting the first race of the event, I was unsure as to how all races would be shown in the 90-minute time frame. It soon became evident that, after interview after interview, and past reflection after past reflection, only a selected few races would be televised. Now as a coach and a swimmer who is very much interested in swimming, I have to say that I soon lost interest in the event very quickly. Not because neither of my races was shown, for that has happened many times before (even when I have made the selected team), but that races were greatly spread out, or only finishes of some races were shown, losing all of the excitement and atmosphere.

Swimmers like Alex Baumann and Mark Tewksbury were great swimmers, and ambassadors of our country, but this is our Olympic year, and our Olympic Trials, and rehashing events that took place four, eight, or even twelve years ago is important, but not during on Olympic Trials that is so important to so many up-and-coming swimmers. Would it not seem more appropriate or possible to book a two-hour block and dedicate the thirty minutes to all the "preparation" and interviews, etc., and then show 90 minutes of straight swimming?

Sometimes it is forgotten that defeat and "not making the team" are just as much a part of sports as victory and "making the team," for both parts are very real to sport. Covering all aspects of sports should be the main goal of any broadcast or report. By not doing that, the message that is coming across, even more so than it already is, is that winning is everything, and if you lose and/or do not make the team, then you are not worth even a spot on an Olympic Trials broadcast even though you are one of the best in the country.

These opinions and concerns are not just mine, but are shared by many who have asked and questioned me as to "what happened to the coverage on the weekend?" Although I pretty much guessed that the broadcast would be as it was, it might be worth your while to take these questions and concerns into account for the next project that is covered by CBC Sports.

Dean Kondziolka
Lethbridge, Alberta

Remember... It's not true until it has been officially denied

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