SWIMNEWS ONLINE: April 1997 Magazine Articles

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Backwash features short clips, gossip, letters and opinions. Contributions are welcome.


Hall Going "Pro"

According to a recent article in Swimming World, Olympic gold and silver medallist Gary Hall Jr. has "come up with a comprehensive plan to bring swimming into the era of Big Time Sports."

A noble, if unrealistic idea. One can't help but wonder why, if swimming was meant to be a Big Time sport, it isn't already there?

Hall's idea, to use corporate sponsorship and television to establish a professional contingent in American swimming with the aim of promoting the sport, would cost the prospective sponsor (Nissan) $2 million.

He suggests that a group of 8 to 10 swimmers could operate like a professional cycling team under the umbrella of Team Nissan. He also proposes to create a televised series of meets "in which Team Nissan will compete against other top pro swimmers from around the world." The likening of this kind of a series to the existing World Cup is ironic in that the U.S. doesn't support the World Cup at all. It doesn't fit into their calendar, and is not a priority, money or no money.

So who is to say that the "other top pro swimmers from around the world" are interested in coming to Oklahoma City to swim in yet another series? Who is to say they have time? And given the pace and extent of television involvement in the sport to date, who is to say the major networks will suddenly be falling out of their chairs to put Team Nissan on prime time?

While swimming is certainly headed in the direction of greater bucks and glory, it is a long way from Track and Field in its ability to interest big time sponsors. The world's richest swimmer, Germany's Franziska van Almsick, stands out as an example of the happy coincidence of several key factors: youth, talent, good looks, a good manager, and the fact that, politically speaking, she was in the right place at the right time. A former East German (unblemished by drugs, of course) she was the new symbol of success for a nation that had just undergone a dramatic reunification. Germany was ripe for her arrival, but that kind of situation doesn't happen every day. It should be noted that while she brought more attention to the sport in Germany, other Olympic medallists have not had the same luck.

Hall gets full marks for enthusiasm, but the realities beyond America make such a project look like a premature pipe dream.

One-Man Show

One-man show Backstroker Tomislav Karlo is the one-man show behind PLIVANJE, the new swimming magazine of the Croation Swimming Federation.

After graduating from Brigham Young University in 1993, the Zagreb native took some time off from swimming. He spent a year working as a travel agent in Los Angeles, returned to Croatia in 1994, and got back in the water in time for the European Championships in 1995.

On the side, he started helping the Croatian Federation with some English translation. When Federation members started talking about producing their own magazine, Karlo went to work on the computer and put one together.

"I had so much free time I just decided to start a magazine myself," said the 26-year-old Karlo. "It's more of a pamphlet, with some statistics, results, and articles translated from SWIM Canada and Swimming World."

After two issues, the demand at the club level was so high that the Federation wanted to improve the quality of the publication, set up a production committee, and make it a bi-monthly. The problem was where to find the money.

Karlo competed in all but one of the 1997 FINA World Cup meets early this year, establishing a European record in the 50 backstroke (24.52) at the final meet in Paris. He placed second in the Backstroke category, and has chosen to attend the Mediterranean Games in Bari this summer instead of the European Championships. Ranked 2nd in the world in the 50 back and 7th in the 100 (53.73), he wants to go on to the World Championships in Perth in 1998.

While his degree is in Geography, Karlo admits to getting a kick out of swimming stats and desktop publishing. While his busy competition schedule could create occasional problems for the printing deadline, he says, "Maybe I'll be able to do it more full time when I stop swimming." Until then, he's got the ball rolling.

Popov makes stab at Hall

Russian sprint star Alexander Popov seems determined to continue the Cold War in the swimming pool.

On a recent trip to Paris to receive an award from the Sports Academy, the quadruple Olympic champion made some questionable comments about his Olympic rival, Gary Hall Jr. of Phoenix, Arizona.

Popov was quoted by L'Equipe as saying that Hall "says already that he'll be in Sydney and that he'll win both sprint titles. I don't know how he can say that. His father wasn't an Olympic champion, and he never will be either. They're a family of losers!"

Having fully recovered from the August stabbing that nearly took his life, the comments are oddly out of character for Popov.

For the record, Hall's father swam at three Olympics (1968, 1972, 1976), winning a bronze medal in the 100 butterfly in 1972 and a silver in the 200 butterfly in 1976. Hall Jr. was runner-up to Popov in the 50 and 100 freestyles in Rome and Atlanta, and was a member of the world record-setting 4x100 medley relay and the gold medal 4x100 freestyle relay teams at the Olympics. In the latter, Hall had the fastest split of anyone, including Popov, anchoring in a blistering 47.45. Hardly loser material.

Now an eye surgeon in Phoenix, Hall Sr.'s reaction to Popov's scathing comment was, "I'd only like to know how many Olympics Popov's dad swam in." According to the younger Hall, he has tried to be friendly with the Russian in the past, but has made little headway.

Alexander The Great Marries

In a quiet ceremony in Canbera on Wednesday 26 March, Alex Popov, the two time double Olympic Gold Medallist in the freestyle sprints married his girlfriend of two years, Daria Shmeleva.

The ceremony in Canberra will be followed at a later date by a formal wedding with the families and friends of the bride and groom in Russia. Alexander and Daria swam together on their national swimming team for five years. However, they have been close friends for more than two years, Daria joining her boyfriend in Canberra last November following the dramatic stabbing incident of the star swimmer on a Moscow street. The new bride retired from swimming following her appearance as a finalist in the individual medley at the Atlanta Games.

Popov, having recovered from the knife wounds without any lasting damage, has settled well into his preparation for the European Championships in August and the 1998 World Championships in Perth. The couple were accompanied at the ceremony by Australian Olympic swimmers Matthew Dunn and Michael Klim, in addition to Alex's long time mentor, Coach Gennadi Touretski.

Asked how he felt the marriage would affect the training plans of his famous swimmer, Touretski said: "Alex is his own man and a very special personality. He knows what he is doing with his life and will stay in focus on his goal of a third Olympic Games success."

Letter to the Editor:

This note is long overdue. I want to congratulate you on the new format of your magazine. The colour photographs and the quality of the writing combined with the global focus of your articles serves the international swimming community well. It even provides old timers like myself with enough information to remain current. It is wonderful to see the progress of the magazine. You should be proud.

I look forward to seeing the coverage in the upcoming months, particularly a story on Chris Renaud of Calgary who has been busy beating the records Jeff Rouse and I set in the early 1990s. Congratulations to Chris!

On another note, I would like to say that I had the privilege of working with Dr. Julio Maglione recently on the IOC Site Evaluation Commission for the Games of the XXVIIIth Olympiad. There are now five cities, Athens, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Rome, and Stockholm in the fight for hosting the Olympics in the year 2004. Whichever city wins, Dr. Maglione and I have ensured that the interests of the aquatic sports are well looked after. Keep up the good work!

Mark Tewksbury,

Letter to the Editor:

As a young and developing swimmer, I was delighted to have been selected to attend the Mark Tewksbury Youth Training Camp in Toronto (December 4-8, 1996). I have only one word to describe this camp - "AWESOME." The camp staff were fantastic, the training sessions were great, the guest speakers were motivating, the food was delicious and the special events were unbelievable. I made lots of new friends and I believe that the experiences I gained at this camp have made me into a mentally stronger swimmer and will help me throughout my swimming career and life. I will certainly encourage all swimmers in my club who have made Youth National standards to apply for this fantastic camp next year.

Many thanks to all the camp staff and guest speakers who made this camp into such an inspirational experience, not only for me, but for the 23 other lucky swimmers from across Canada.

And a special "thank you" to Mark Tewksbury for affording us all the opportunity to attend this camp and for his continued interest in, and support of, young Canadian swimmers like myself.

Lucy Mae Smith,
Beaconfield Bluefins
Montreal, Quebec

Letter to the Editor:

Has there been any study on the effects of pool water on your teeth? Can any of the chemicals that are in the water cause the enamel on your teeth to disappear? If there hasn't been a study on this, it would be a good one to do.

The reason I question this is because my son just recently had a dental appointment to have his teeth cleaned. The dentist, whom he has been seeing for years, alerted me that the enamel on my son's teeth is disappearing.

My son (Steven Medaglia) has been in the water since the age of six months. He has been swimming competitively with GO Kingfish since the age of five. He is now 12 years old. He is in the water two hours a day, some days more I was wondering if the water could be causing this serious problem.

My dentist is completely baffled by this. I was wondering if you or one of your readers would be able to help me? Possibly others have had this problem and know of a solution.We are trying every avenue to find out what is causing this. It might not be the pool water but I had my son's baseball coach (who is a dentist) indicate to me that he read an article on this very problem and the child involved was also a swimmer.

We would appreciate any help that you could give us.

Darlene Medaglia,
Ottawa, Ontario

Letter to the Editor:

I want to congratulate you on the new format for SWIMNEWS. At last, swimming has a journal that is what I had hoped to achieve before the advent of computers and easy access to colour printing. With you on the internet, it's a cinch to keep up with the world of swimming. Regards.

Al Schoenfield
Former Publisher of Swimming World Magazine
Los Osos, California

Letter to the Editor:

As a former coach in Canada I am writing to say that you provide the definitive web site for keeping in touch with the sport at the Canadian and international levels. I enjoy the articles, results and gossip that allow me to "look in" on my old sport. Keep up the GREAT work.

Dr. Kerry Mummery, Faculty of Health Science
Central Queensland University
Rockhampton, Australia

Letter to the Editor:

Your magazine name change was a surprise. It looks very classy! Dave Johnson's interview was pretty soft unfortunately. It's full of cliches, double-talk jive. It's typical political justification of the National Training Centre (wasted money up front = little incentive for Canadian coaches). Too bad they had to bring in another foreigner to replace Deryk. Karin Helmstaedt is pretty right on!

Tom Arusoo
Birmingham, Michigan

Letter to the Editor:

Editor Thanks very much for the 1996 August and September issues of SWIM Canada and the February 1997 SWIMNEWS.

You were right to say that your present magazine is far superior to an earlier issue I received from you in 1992. The current magazine is a marvelous combination of:

I have been a subscriber in the past to Swimming World, The Swimming Times, International Swimmer, Swimming Technique.

I was familiar with Nuoto, Crol, New Zealand Swim News, South African Swim News and some others.

But your present periodical, at least SWIMNEWS #225, February 1997, beat them all. Enclosed is my completed subscription form. Sincerely.

Brian V. Kelly,
Great Falls, Montana

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

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