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


De Bruin Hopes For An Acquittal

Ireland's banned swim star Michelle de Bruin hopes to have her four-year ban overturned at an appeal hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) scheduled for May 3 in Lausanne. In early February De Bruin's legal team was optimistic she may have a chance following revelations by a doctor in England that the containers used to transport athletes' urine samples can be opened and closed without detection. Dr David Brown, a chemist acting for banned British athlete Paul Edwards, showed that the Versapak containers, similar to the ones used in the transportation of the triple Olympic gold medallist's sample, can be opened and closed, without detection, by immersion in boiling water. Versapak subsequently acknowledged that the opening of that type of Versapak container, now out of circulation, had been widely known since 1997. Why FINA's testing company, the Swedish-based International Drug Tests and Management, was still using such containers, is yet to be cleared up.

Peter Lennon, de Bruin's lawyer, claimed that Brown's finding was "highly significant" for his client's appeal. Dr Brown has apparently recorded the procedure for use in the appeal hearing. De Bruin is appealing a four-year ban from swimming for tampering with a urine sample taken in January 1998.

SNC Staff News

Best wishes and good luck to Carol Docherty, who has held the position of Assistant, Domestic Support Services at Swimming/Natation Canada since 1994. Carol moved to Edmonton for personal reasons earlier this year and was retained on a part-time basis by SNC from January 1 until March 31. Carol's enthusiasm, work ethic, and technical expertise will be missed in our Ottawa office, and we wish her the very best in her new place of residence.

Swimming/Natation Canada is pleased to announce that Ken Radford has been hired as the association's new Director, Swimming Technical Development. Ken comes to Swimming Canada with a strong history of coaching and administration in the sport. His involvement over the past five years has been at the provincial level, where he has been the executive director of Swim BC since 1995. Prior to moving into the executive director position, he served as the association's program director for a year. On the coaching side, Ken was the head coach of the successful Comox Valley Aquatic Club between 1988 and 1993. From 1981 until 1988, he was involved in several coaching positions with the renowned University of British Columbia varsity swim team, including overall head coach and women's team head coach.

Ken's main focus at Swimming Canada will be in the swimmer development area, with an emphasis on designing a new national age group development model for Canadian swimming.

Ken's position with SNC will be based in Victoria, B.C., and he will officially start work on May 15th.

Poor Seating For Athletes In Sydney

In a telephone conversation with Alan Thompson, current President of the World Swimming Coaches Association, Alan has it from the person "in the know" that yet another change has been made in the plans for athlete and coach seating at the Olympic Games in Sydney.

The current plan: 300 seats on deck for athletes and coaches. These will be rotated among teams. (This is good, and as previously negotiated). There will be 700 seats for the teams in the stands, located off the competition pool, down in the diving well area. (This will make a worse viewing situation for the team than in Atlanta, or in Perth. It is a big step backwards.) The other seats are going to-you guessed it-sponsors and "friends of the Olympic Games."

FINA has substantial control over final approval of this plan. I would strongly recommend that everyone who would like to see the meet as an athlete consider immediately contacting one or all of the following FINA Bureau members and expressing your opinion that FINA should conform to its own rules and provide excellent seating for athletes and coaches. I am told by Alan that his source is of the opinion that a strong athlete voice now, can make the difference in where you sit at the Games.

Incidentally, I asked for a copy of the "current plan'' in writing, so the organizers cannot play their usual game of saying "oh, well, we planned that all along." I am told there is no written plan. So don't be surprised if a lot of athletes and coaches write and email, and then are told once again, "we don't know what all the fuss is about, we had planned all along to take care of you." If we don't mobilize now, you can bet athletes and coaches will have stiff necks from looking sideways down the pool to see the swim meet.

Best Regards,
John Leonard


I have been working with athletes for a few years now and I am constantly amazed at the focus, dedication, intensity, and commitment of the young people that I have had the opportunity to help. Recently, one of my athletes showed me a letter that she had written to herself the night before a major international competition. Here it is:

"Tomorrow is a big G.S. race, and I am feeling extremely confident entering it. There are going to be numerous people from Canada and the U.S. I have nothing to lose. I have to go out and be the most aggressive that I can be. There's nothing to be afraid of. These girls in my domain have nothing that I don't have so why shouldn't I be able to kick their butts? There are no excuses, I know how to be aggressive, I have done it before in practice, so what makes training different from a race? There are no differences, except there are more people to beat. I am strong, focused, and well aware that my body is in perfect physical shape for this event. I have to prove to people that I am an up-and-coming Olympian. My coaches put much time and effort into my well being, so it is time to do them a favour and get some results. Today's the best day to start. Go out there and kick some ass! Feel the rage in your heart and GIVE ‘ER. I have worked so hard for this, there are no excuses, it's time to reveal the truth." A. McAlister

I thought that this was a great example of the confidence and positive self-talk that is required of athletes if they are to reach their potential. This athlete went on to post her best results of the season the next day. I hope that it may strike a note for some of your readers and help them realize that talking to yourself in the most positive way can really help you to reach your goals and dreams.

Greg Wells
Toronto Swim Club


For some years I have been receiving this wonderful magazine, that fills me with satisfaction for its extraordinary information, from Canada as well as International competitions and its excellent articles especially those by Cecil Colwin.

I am a swimming coach interested mainly in coaching. I think that you should include a page with a coach of the month with an explanation of their methods and philosophy.

I really think that this will make the magazine more interesting and also would be a way to show how the great swimmers are developed. Thank you for your publication and receive the best wishes of your Spanish friend.

Juan Mendez Rodeiro
Pontedeume (La Coruna)


Oh that more people with the guts of Mark Tewksbury had been alive in the thirties.

Then, the expulsion of six members from a certain organization would have been called a purge. Followed, of course, by an overwhelming vote of confidence in the leader.

Sieg Heil!
Bernard McGrath
Gibson, B.C.


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