SWIMNEWS ONLINE: August 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.

ACOG under fire Izzy the cartoon-like blue mascot for the Atlanta Olympic Games, should have been re-baptized "Glitch," for that was definitely the operative word in Hotlanta.

The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games-otherwise known as ACOG-may have lived to regret taking on the biggest Olympic Games in history. While everything in Atlanta looked rosy before the competition started, all that lavish southern charm and optimism came off as just a lousy cover-up for the way things really were-downright disorganized.

And ACOG had to face the music. Hordes of angry journalists (over 15,000 for the whole Games) and support staff of all kinds complained bitterly about the ongoing transportation problems and computer glitches. Buses were late or didn't run at all. Drivers, recruited from all over the country, were poorly trained and many either got hopelessly lost or quit. There were at least a couple of cases of athletes and journalists hijacking buses in order to get to where they were going. "ACOG" soon became "ACLOG" to many.

As for the heat, IOC executive Dick Pound was quoted as saying that Atlanta had "lied" about the temperature, citing the average temperature for the year of 78° F instead of 104°F for the months of July and August!

Hardly surprising that ACOG came to stand for "Atlanta can't organize the Games..."

IBM's big mistake IBM may come out of the whole Olympic experience with egg on its face.

The much talked-about "technology" in Atlanta (IBM invested more than $40 million in software, hardware and computer expertise for the Games) was a laugh considering IBM's famous Info '96 system was a complete flop. Athlete biographies were often incomplete and seldom up-dated with results from the current competition. "Info '96" came to be known as "Info '97" because of delays. In fairness, many odd results were due to the faulty data input into the system.

Port-a-Pig-Sty A common scene in Atlanta: journalists, photographers and ACOG volunteers alike cursing at the sanitary provisions at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Centre. An equally common scene: journalists, photographers and ACOG volunteers turning green as they tried to hold off an inevitable call of nature.

Organizers blocked off the majority of the complex's washrooms and installed about 20 Port-a-Potties between the main building and the warm-up pool. Given the number of people they were to service and the stifling heat in Atlanta, the Port-a-Potty experience was a steamy and smelly one at best. And maintenance was inadequate! Prior to 10:00 a.m. there was usually some toilet paper left, but woe to those whose call came later in the day. And when it was all over, there was no water to wash up.

One journalist commented, "The portables were more civilized in Rio de Janeiro." Way to go, America!

No sex please we're Canadian The Canadian swim team got a lot of press going into the Games, and it wasn't for their swimming prowess.

Before coming to Atlanta the team had to sign a Swimming Canada code of conduct in which they agreed to forego all "sexual activity" for the duration of the Games.

The pretext for the clause is the young age of many of the female athletes on the team, but while teams past have had swimmers as young as 13 or 14, this team's youngest was Jessica Deglau at 16.

Written by head coach Dave Johnson, the sex ban was typical of Canadian swimming's preoccupation with controlling its athletes' every move.

Athletes agree to behave appropriately; isn't that enough? The youngest athletes are subject to curfews, and those who are of age should be able to take responsibility for their actions. How else to encourage athletes to think, at least partly, for themselves?

Besides, the ban is an insult to Canada's Olympic swimmers, who have surely not trained for years and years just to have sex in Atlanta. SNC ought to place greater store in the athletes' priorities.

Bad ads A brick goes to Nike for their top-heavy and aggressive advertising campaign, with ads featured on billboards all around Atlanta.

Grainy black and white close-ups of various athletes, including professional tennis star Monica Seles, carried slogans such as "You don't win silver, you lose gold," or "I didn't come here as a tourist."

It is not much wonder that sport is so corrupted by performance-enhancing drugs when the "winning is everything" and similar cut-throat attitudes of advertisers dominate the collective sporting consciousness.

A less results-oriented brainwashing campaign might go a long way to help the Olympics see their bicentennial.

Long suits in The Speedo Aquablade swimsuit was out and about in Atlanta and had a fair measure of success. The suit, which covers the body down to just above the knee, is designed to make less resistance to the water than skin. Triple gold medalist Michelle Smith of Ireland and bronze medalist Kirsten Vlieghuis of Holland were the most successful Aquablade wearers. Dutch and Swedish women as well as several German men were seen covering up, although most swimmers remain true to the smaller models.

Tougher sanctions The FINA Congress toughened up its drug rules last week. A country with four positive steroid tests in a 12-month period could be suspended for a two year period. According to Ray Essick, executive director for U.S. Swimming, swimmers will be the responsibility of the country they train in. So if a foreign swimmer training in California tests positive, it will count against the U.S. This could lead to some method by which foreign swimmers would be discouraged from training in the U.S., for instance by refusing to fund insurance for clubs that train those athletes.

Class act Alexander Popov received a telegram from Johnny Weissmuller's daughter congratulating him on duplicating a feat that her father did first in 1924 and 1928, winning the 100 free in consecutive Olympics.

Event order Did Alexander Popov think the seven day order of events was satisfactory? He felt that it needs to be looked at. The Germans women's 4x200 free had some members in the women's 800 free the same night, which was a hard double. On the last day, the men's 200 backstroke was followed by the men's 4x100 medley relay, which is hard on the backstroker who has to swim both events. He preferred the six-day program.

Editor: After 19 years of swimming and 14 of those years as competitive ones, I am retiring from the sport. I guess Kondo can only handle so much political controversy and disappointment to eventually reach this point.

After many national team trips, many successful competitions, as well as many dsiappointments, the desire to train, swim, and compete is a memory of the past. I am fortunate enough to have had many of those memories as being very positive. However, some of those not-so-good memories were big ones, and between exhausting my efforts and my bank account, it is now time to move on.

After breaking starting blocks, reswims, protests, relocating, starting my own swim club and coaching myself, it sure has been a fulfilling and learning experience.

I would like to thank you very much for all the coverage and support you have given to me over my career. It made a real difference. Although it is sad to give up something that has been such a big part of my life, there is also a great sense of relief with no regrets to this decision.

I have thoroughly enjoyed your magazine and articles over the years and look forward to more in the future. I know you will keep up the success you have created.

Dean Kondziolka
Lethbridge, AB

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

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