Backwash features short clips, gossip, letters and opinions.
Contributions are welcome.
Now for the rumours behind the news.
He didn't waste any time. After a convalescence
of merely three months (he took five after Barcelona), Alexander Popov dove
into the pool in Canberra in mid-November. The stabbing that nearly took
his life in the streets of Moscow last August was a distant, unpleasant
memory, made real only by the savage scar running the length of his abdomen.
Obviously glad to be back in familiar surroundings
at the Australian Institute of Sport, he and his coach, Gennadi Touretski,
eased right back into their well-practiSed partnership.
Together they are already planning for Sydney. The accent will be on a gradual increase in training intensity, with special attention to the abdominals. And if Alex's phenomenal physical condition is any indication, it won't be long before he's back in the thick of competition. After his ordeal, barely 2 kg of muscle are missing...
Creatine was back in the headlines in November
when its widespread use by track stars such as Donovan Bailey, Michael Johnson,
and Linford Christie was made public. The Globe and Mail quoted double
Olympic gold medallist Johnson as saying "the whole world uses it."
Bailey apparently uses it during his heavy training phase in the fall. Creatine
supplementation is also rampant among football players. And then there is
swimming's own Angel Martino...
So who doesn't use the stuff?
The much-talked-about substance is advertised as
a performance-enhancer in the magazine Track and Field News. An amino
acid derivative found in high protein foods, its use can help to reduce
recovery time in training. But while many athletes consider it the legal
alternative to steroids, medical officials are still divided as to its real
benefits, claiming there is little evidence that creatine actually increases
muscle size or strength. And very little is known about its long-term risks.
Yet creatine is legal, and at present the problems
that arise have more to do with attitudes than with health risks. Scientific
dilemmas aside, today's athletes feel they cannot compete unless they "take
something." After all, half the competition is on drugs! That's a difficult
reality when it is time to step onto the block.
Whether creatine is legal or not, taking it involves
a disturbing dependence that undermines the ideas of fair play, of testing
oneself, of pushing oneself to a limit. The whole exercise of sport loses
its meaning if the limits are continually and artificially extended.
Track and Field News
quoted Dr. John Hawley, director of the High Performance Laboratory at the
South African Sports Science Institute, as saying, "In the strength
and power events I would say that as many as 50% of competitors at the Olympics
have used performance-enhancing drugs, maybe more."
He added, "Maybe we should just make steroids
legal. As unethical and as morally wrong as it sounds, I actually think
that's the way to go."
And if it were to happen, would "the whole world" take steroids too?
Germany's Franziska van Almsick decided that her silver-medal performance in Atlanta was just not good enough. In November she announced that she was quitting school to devote herself entirely to training, her goal being to capture that elusive Olympic gold in Sydney. Shortly afterward, the 18-year-old van Almsick left her longtime coach, Dieter Lindemann, to train with Gerd Esser, also in Berlin.
December saw Canada's Joanne Malar head to Australia
to train with the Aussie national team and compete in Europe until the spring.
While many were quick to put the move down to a need to escape pressures in Canada, the two-time Olympian from Hamilton insisted that the move, supported by SNC, would be a great experience for her and that the time to do it was now.
Whether an escape or just a well-deserved break,
Malar is right when she says that any other person would jump at such an
The 21 year-old has had to hold her head up in the post-Olympic media storm that hastens to judge an athlete's performance as negative when it doesn't fulfil the public's ideal of gold. She made it clear that any "disappointment" after the Atlanta Olympics (where she finished out of the medals in all of her events) was due to the "ignorance" of the media and their inability to recognize her performances for the achievements they were. After her fourth place finish in the 200 IM was deemed a "disappointment" in Atlanta, Malar commented, "I did a best time. That's hardly a disappointment."
Perhaps in answer to all of the talk surrounding her Olympic success, Ireland's Michelle Smith published her memoirs in November. Gold: A Triple Champion's Story was written in conjunction with Irish journalist Cathal Dervan, and recounts her childhood, her encounter with husband and mentor Eric de Bruin, and her succesive sporting exploits up to and including the Atlanta Olympics. Back in the water, the Irish star made an appearance at a long course meet in Bordeaux, France on Dec.23-24 where she won the 50 freestyle in 27.29.
Misty Hyman set a world short course 100 butterfly
record, swimming long stretches of the distance using underwater dolphin
kick, she only needed 16 strokes to complete the four lengths. Winning the
50 fly she only took three strokesone into the turn and two at the finish.
We've seen a similar development of a `dolphin
kick underwater' backstroke eight years ago.
Although medical reasons banned underwater swimming
in breaststroke in the late 50s, and backstroke kicking was limited to the
15 metre mark, butterfly has escaped to date. Denis Pankratov, the Olympic
champion and world record holder has perfected this technique.
Is underwater kicking an evolution or a new and
Australian Swimming has already requested FINA
to limit the underwater butterfly to the same distance as backstroke.
FINA will undoubtedly address the problem at the Technical Congress scheduled for Perth in January 1998.
Lu Bin, one of the Chinese world champions suspended for drug use during the Asian Games in 1994, has resumed training after waiting out her two-year suspension. She competed in the Chinese nationals last fall in Canton...
Costa Rica's Claudia Poll is apparently out of trouble after a sponsorship faux pas in Atlanta; Poll accepted her gold medal for the 200 freestyle wearing a soft drink logo that angered reigning Coca Cola officials, but the rumoured IOC inquiry has yet to happen...
At the recent IOC Congress in Cancun, Mexico, Bromantan, the substance responsible for the disqualification and subsequent reinstatement of five Russian athletes in Atlanta, was finally officially banned; supported by their national federations, the athletes were given the benefit of the doubt despite the substance being both a stimulant and a masking agent...
Also in Cancun, the decision was made to include more women in the Olympic program in Sydney. While synchronized swimming and women's water polo were not deemed worthy of a berth, the 500 cycling race was, as was women's weightlifting!!! Now that's commitment!
Just got finished reading the October issue of
SWIM Magazine. which prompted me to write to let you know how terrific I
think the magazine is.
Your post-Olympic issue was by far the resumé
and analysis of what happened in Atlanta, and Karin Helmstaedt pulled no
punches in discussing Michelle Smith - pro and con.
Equally interesting re: Ms Smith was Neil Harvey's
analysis of percentage drops in times, in which Michelle's improvement does
not seem as radical as it did at the time.
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate getting SWIM Magazine. It really puts the sport into perspective.
Olympic Sport Writer
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Congratulations on SWIM Magazine's first year in
colour. Keep up the splendid production/ I am looking forward to the 1997
issues of SWIMNEWS.
Happy New Year to you and your fine staff. Cecil
Colwin really enjoyed his visit to Aussie land and has written some excellent
articles on what is going on Down Under.
Australian Swimming Selector
Honorary Records Officer
As a parent of a swimmer, I was very interested
in the Canadian Open. I was appalled that we couldn't get any results/ I
have tried to find any information in newspapers and on the internet but
to no avail. I think it is terrible that our tax money is used to demand
that all carded swimmers attend this meet. But there is no communication
with the media to advertise or promote our sport. With the renwed interest
in swimming from the Olympics, I cannot understand a sport body that would
not capitalize on the opportunity to keep swimming in the public eye by
at least issuing results. The only information I could find was the Misty
Hyman of the U.S, had set a new world record and that Andrea Schwartz had
won the 200 backstroke, but no times were given.
I would like to thank all the people involved in
the Tewksbury Junior Bursary Program and Camp. Niels Versfeld is the second
Fort McMurray swimmer to attend this excellent camp and he came back with
a much needed injection of enthusiasm. We have a number of very deserving
swimmers but the exclusiveness of this camp has been quite an eye-opener
for all.It is becoming a much sought-after selection and goal for quite
a few members of our team as Niels has come back and shared quite a few
of the stories from the camp. We found out as coaches and now the swimmers
believe as well that our club is very much following what the "high
profile" clubs as well as SNC has eet forth in terms of training and
age group preparation towards senior success. Fort McMurray has a very rich
tradition in bringing along swimmers who have been very successful provincially,
nationally and internationally. The only thing missing is an Olympic team
member and it will only be a matter of time before we get our first.
Again, thank you to all who were involved in this
excellent camp. We here in Fort McMurray wish everyone the best for the
Fort McMurray SC
Remember... It's not true until it has been officially denied