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


Body Suits OK

FINA gave its blessing to body suits provided they don't cover the feet, hands, or the head. Contrary to fashion trends in other sports, such as volleyball, where rules require women's atire to become skimpier - exposing more flesh - swimming fashion will move to cover up. One potential opportunity that could be exploited is the full-time swimmer plastering the added surface area with his or her sponsors' logos.

Not Credible

The US Senate held hearings on the proposed IOC anti-doping agency - already under attack when first proposed eight months ago for its lack of independence from IOC control. An ideal for such an agency, according to Barry McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, is one that can test 365 days a year, without notice, offer no statute of limitations on cheating, keep samples for at least 10 years, and step up the research needed to test for substances difficult to detect or easily masked, like anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, and erythropoietin (EPO). Dr. Gary Wadler, associate professior of clinical medicine at New York University, warned of the proliferation of undetectable performance enhancers, such as synthetic blood products, saying the global market for blood substitutes probably exceeds $2 billion.

In previous Congressional hearings, the IOC has been criticized for the inadequacy of current testing, which has uncovered relatively few violations, and for its failure to take retroactive action in proven cases of systematic doping. 1984 Olympic gold medallist Nancy Hogshead said it best. "The IOC's response to doping has been terribly late, inadequate, and inconsequential. They have wasted decades on this massive problem and now it is time to put doping control in the hands of an independent body of experts."

The IOC has pledged $25 million for the agency but is spending $150 million on public relations to enhance its tarnished image.

Records Will Stand

Despite its noble attempt to try to return some credibility to the disgraced sport of swimming in Ireland, the revamped Irish federation, now known as Swim Ireland, was unable to finish the task. After dissolving the Irish Amateur Swimming Association last July and creating a new body, Swim Ireland officials intended to revise the swimming record books. They devised a system whereby Irish swimmers had until next year to apply for their own national records by providing date, time, and proof of the swim. Anyone under suspension for drug use was ineligible to apply, and with that move Swim Ireland hoped to cancel out banned swimmer Michelle Smith de Bruin's 26 Irish records.

The Olympic triple gold medallist immediately threatened legal action, however, and forced the federation to let her 26 Irish records stand.

Swim Ireland found itself in a difficult position as Smith de Bruin never tested positive after any of her record swims. With no proof of her guilt at the time, there was nothing more they could do.

Pat Donovan of Swim Ireland told the Irish Times, "We decided to leave it at that because we had little chance of winning in court. Things will stay as they are."

Smith de Bruin was banned from the sport for four years when she was found guilty of tampering with a urine sample in her home in Kilkenny in January 1998. She later lost a final appeal of the ruling in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, after which she announced her retirement.

No To 50s

The ASCA (American Swimming Coaches Association) Board of Directors found themselves on unfamiliar turf (reports George Block) in their recent Board meeting, when, after consistent opposition to the semi-final format, they found themselves voting to maintain the current format. This was in direct reaction to the rumoured LEN proposal to drop semi-finals in the 200s, in order to make room for the 50s of the stroke events.

The ASCA Board went on the record in opposition to "any dilution of the traditional program in favour of addition or expansion of the current role of the 50s." ASCA Board member and Santa Clara Swim Club Head Coach, Dr. Dick Jochums, summed up the Board's reasoning: "The 50s are all about inherited ability. The 200s are all about earned ability. Any shift away from the basic work ethic of our sport is an attack on the fundamental nature of competitive swimming. Coaches around the world must hold on to earned ability, as opposed to inherited ability."

The ASCA Board also took strong positions on the FINA Athletes' and Coaches' Commissions. "The Board is opposed to any situation where the members (of the two commissions) are selected by the FINA Bureau." USA Swimming and the ASCA Board will work with a number of other nations to develop a package of legislation for Sydney that will place the selection of both the Coaches' and Athletes' Commissions into a category of democratic elections.

Thorpe Injured

Australian Swimming's media manager Ian Hanson said that 56 Australians, including Grant Hackett, Michael Klim, Susie O'Neill, and Kieren Perkins, would contest the US Open in San Antonio, Texas, from December 2 to 4. Only Ian Thorpe will miss the trip as he's recovering from a chipped bone in his left ankle.

Olympic Ticket Sales

In a blow to the credibility of SOCOG (Sydney Olympic Organization), a consumer watchdog indicated that SOCOG may have misled the public in urging them to buy tickets SOCOG could not supply. Apparently thousands of tickets promised to the public had been siphoned off and kept for a premium ticket program. In some venues only a handful of good seats were put up for sale - even though New South Wales taxpayers have paid to build most of the Olympic facilities. In one session of the diving finals, only 16 of 9,400 A-grade seats could be bought. And statements that all the swimming finals are sold out may not be entirely true. Those willing to pay more will probably get in.


Nikki Dryden's article on Popov's defeat in the July issue was excellent. She captured the moment and gave excellent insight into this great swimming champion. Nikki can write! Keep up the goodwork.

Glen Belfry, School of Kinesiology
University of Western Ontario


I was recently speaking to Bruce Kidd and he suggested I contact you. In Australia, there has been a rising popularity of biographies/autobiographies of Olympic and sporting heroes and coaches, such as Shane Gould, Dawn Fraser, Des Renford, Susie O'Neill, and Harry Gallagher. Bruce said that professional sport was the major interest in Canada, as it is here, yet these type of books remain popular as an inspiration for others to achieve their goals.

One of my favorite heroes is the great Canadian swimmer Ralph Hutton, finallist at three Olympics ('64, '68, '72) and world record holder. While training with Ralph in Calgary leading up to the 1972 Olympics, I was highly motivated by the guts and determination he showed in attempting to qualify for yet another Olympics and place in 2 finals, not to mention his crazy antics which kept us all laughing.

Do you think it would be an inspirational publication if someone were to research Ralph's life through these Olympic years and let the public know what sort of a character he was, to be able to strive to compete at three Olympics and final at all of them? I believe Ralph is now a policeman in Vancouver.

Anne Marie (McCaffrey) Couperwhite
NSW University, Australia


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