SWIMNEWS ONLINE: June 1998 Magazine Articles

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Backwash features short clips, gossip, letters and opinions. Contributions are welcome.
Now for the rumours behind the news.


Smith-de Bruin put off

A press release issued during a meeting of the IOC Executive in Seville in early June stating that traces of artificially produced testosterone were discovered in the urine sample of Irish swimmer Michelle Smith-de Bruin has been vigourously refuted by her lawyer.

The report stated that two high-ranking sport officials had confirmed the presence of the hormone. IOC Medical Committee Chairman, Prince Alexandre de Merode, confirmed that a new test had indeed been performed on Smith-de Bruin's sample in the Barcelona lab, but refused to comment on the test results. Furthermore it was stated that the new testing method was not yet officially recognized as valid.

Ireland's triple Olympic champion is suspected of having manipulated a urine sample collected at her home by out-of-competition testers on Jan.10, 1998. The 28-year-old swimmer maintains her innocence, and has said she intends to fight any negative ruling by FINA. In the meantime, at the request of her solicitor, Smith-de Bruin's scheduled hearing before the FINA Doping Panel has been postponed until July 24. The three-person Panel, chaired by German judge Harm Beyer, will decide whether or not a sanction will be imposed. Under FINA rules Smith-de Bruin could receive a lifetime ban from the sport. On the same occasion (July 24-25), the FINA Doping Panel will decide the fates of British swimmer Michael Fibbens (who tested positive for cocaine), and of the four Chinese swimmers who tested positive for the masking agent Triamterene during the world championships in Perth. Luna Wang, Cai Huijue, Zhang Yi, and Wang Wei were initially suspended without a hearing. That suspension was lifted by the FINA Doping Panel in April, however, until further investigations could be conducted.

Myden to skip Commonwealths

Curtis Myden of Calgary will forgo the opportunity to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malayasia this September, citing a need for a short break from high level international competition and a chance to complete his university degree before he begins his preparation in the spring of 1999 for the Olympics in 2000. Myden won double bronze medals in his specialty the individual medley, at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and added a bronze in the 400 I.M. at the recent world championships in Perth, during January.

"It was a really tough decision to make," Myden said, who was pre-qualified for the Commonwealth Games from his results in Perth. "I think it's the best for me. I need a mental break from focussing on performing at the highest level-a refresher leading into my preparation for the Olympics. I think this will lead to the best possible results for me in Sydney in 2000."

The 24-year-old will take a full course load starting this fall at the University of Calgary and will graduate in April of 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. That will leave an 18-month Olympic preparation period.

Myden plans to compete in 1999 at the short course World Championships in April in Hong Kong, the Pan American Games in Winnipeg at the end of July, and the Pan Pacific Championships in August.

Franzi comes through

At what was for the most part an uninspired German National Championships in Hamburg (June 4-7), 20-year-old Franziska van Almsick won three national titles, in the 100 butterfly (1:01.13), 100 freestyle (56.45), and the 200 freestyle (1:59.27). Her performance in the 200 ranks her number two in the world this year, and bodes well for her performance at the Goodwill Games in July. Van Almsick, who participated at the world championships in Perth only on relays, was "surprised and very happy" with the time.


I get your magazine and I love it! You can find out what's happening in the swim world. You can also find the top 20 or 30 people of each stroke in every age category. I would just like to say keep up the awesome outstanding work!

Kristin Dawson,
Muskoka Aquatic Club


Many thanks for your generous hospitality in showing our swimmers your home and your business set-up on our visit during the Speedo Open in Toronto a few weeks ago. The kids were very impressed (as were we) and we will never view another issue of SWIMNEWS in the same light again. We were fortunate to be able to holiday in Florida at Christmas this year and the kids spent part of their time at Typhoon Lagoon (part of the Disney complex). My daughter was wearing a "Canada" suit to swim in and one of the employees at the Lagoon approached her and introduced himself as a former Canadian swimmer who had competed at Olympic trials in 1996, but was now employed as a lifeguard/hospitality specialist with Disney (we Canadians really do have a reputation for being friendly). He was delighted that she knew many of his old friends from Ottawa but the conversation quickly turned to what he was really hoping to find-a copy of SWIMNEWS. He was disappointed that she did not carry copies with her at all times!!! He said that he really missed his monthly magazine. Thanks again for taking time to show us around.

Our whole family enjoys your magazine and its arrival causes great commotion in our home as well as a line up to read it cover to cover. We thoroughly enjoyed your coverage of the Speedo Nationals but were somewhat dismayed to read in your coverage of the women's backstroke that Kelly Stefanyshyn was a member of the Manta swim club. To the contrary, Kelly is a very proud founding member of Kevin Thorburn's new Canadian Kodiak Swim Club. The Manta swim club fired Mr. Thorburn and as the Stefanyshyn family had the nerve to ask why they would fire a man who had a treatable illness, the Manta Board of Directors voted to refuse the Stefanyshyn family the right to belong to their club. Seeing Kelly's name linked with Manta in your magazine was very embarrassing and we would appreciate it if your lists could be updated. Keep up the great work.

Allison Stefanyshyn, Canadian Kodiak SC
Winnipeg, Manitoba


After reading the May issue of SWIMNEWS I would like to comment on the article written by Jack Kelso on George Gate. In the conclusion of this very interesting article, one of the most successful coaches this country has had tells us that "the need for coaching education...is an area that is not properly performed." I have been in this sport only 10 years but I am always amazed to see how our top coaches are not leaders outside their clubs. They do not publish. If we all agree that there is a scientific aspect around coaching, why is there no dissemination of all this knowledge?

In fact, Australian coaches play a much more important role in the education of our Canadian coaches with all their papers published by the CSCA. It may be a coincidence, but looking at the early years of this magazine, there were many articles by Don Talbot, Deryk Snelling, Edgar Theoret, Cecil Colwin (then National Technical Director), and others. Weren't those years the Golden Years?

Martin Gregoire,
Levis, Quebec


I wish to thank Jack Kelso for his May issue article on George Gate's late 1997 retirement from the Pointe-Claire Aquatic Department (I would like to add that I read this on your web site, itself a thoroughly excellent contribution to the world wide web).

During the several years (1987-1989, and 1992-1993) I swam at Pointe-Claire, and in between, I always admired Mr. Gate and his love of the sport (something I unfortunately lost). I often wished I had been around in earlier times when he was still coaching full-time. While I remain somewhat critical of my last years with the club, I vividly recall Mr. Gate spending time on deck during training sessions, helping me tune my freestyle and offering other advice. He was very supportive, and I rather doubt I would have stayed with it as long as I did without his encouragement.

One thing I always admired about Mr. Gate was his intensity-his "dive in and go get'em" attitude. While I may have chuckled to myself the first time I heard him yell "Sprint! Sprint! Sprint!" as I took to the blocks for a 1500, I soon came to understand what he meant.

I no longer live in Pointe-Claire, but some members of my family still do. Having heard of Mr. Gate's retirement back in December, I hoped it would have drawn more fanfare in the Montreal-area media; sadly, they tell me, it did not.

George Gate made a positive contribution to my swimming career, and I know I am not alone in that experience. Like Mr. Kelso, I wish Mr. Gate the best of retirement.

Sprint! Sprint! Sprint!

Bob Pearson,
Kingston, ON


I was very disappointed to see that you published a blatant cheap shot at the Etobicoke Swim Club by Clifford Barry.

It would seem that Mr. Barry has an enormous blind spot as to his own performance as Head Coach of the Etobicoke Swim Club. If not for the extraordinary amount of trust and co-operation he received, based solely on the performance of our club at the National level, a "professional" Board of Directors would not have renewed Mr. Barry's contract in 1994 or surely terminated him in 1996. When faced with the prospect of nearly half the National group leaving the club because of their abysmal performance at 1997 Nationals the Board had no alternative but to terminate Mr. Barry.

Canadian coaches completely control their own destinies based on the performance of the athletes they coach. Anything else would be ludicrous. No one can live off past successes forever!

Steve Goodwin,
Etobicoke Swimming


This note is prompted by the letter from Cliff Barry in your May 1998 issue. Mr. Barry has perhaps lost sight of the fact that "amateur boards of directors" everywhere in Canada are the people who sign the paycheques.

These boards of directors get the money to run swim clubs (and also the staff to run swim meets) from one and the same source: parents of swimmers. Like any board of directors anywhere, they are answerable to their shareholders (parents), not to their employees.

It is true, most coaches do give their all in time, expertise, and effort. Parents also give time, money, effort, and most importantly, their children. It is also true, unfortunately, that in some cases neither coaches nor parents fully appreciate the gifts of the other. My job as a parent is to oversee the welfare and happiness of my child. If my swimmer is better served by a coaching change, it is my right to request such a change from my duly elected board of directors, or to withdraw my child from the club. The duty of that board is to consider my request, and those of other parents. If the board acts upon those requests, that is their responsibility, not a whim.

Jane Cowx,
Mt. Brydges, ON


Greetings from the States. I'm not sure if you remember me, but I coached in Montreal at Club de Natation de St. Laurent (CNSL) from 1972-76. Many, many moons ago.

I want to thank you for sending me the SWIMNEWS magazine. I get a lot of excellent information from it. I read with great interest the article in the May 1998 issue by Matthew McWha about "Going South." He made many excellent points and gave good information about choosing a U.S. college and if you would "fit" in at a U.S. college. I have coached for 26 years at the high school and club level before being fortunate enough to find a collegiate program to coach. Finishing up my fourth year at the University of Indianapolis, I have had a few Canadian athletes attend and compete for us. Since I have coached at the collegiate level I have taken it upon myself to give high school student-athletes lots of information about our program and about choosing a college in general. I feel it is our obligation to help high school student-athletes make an educated decision about where they might fit in best. It has helped and it has hurt our recruiting. We have gotten good swimmers and we have lost good swimmers because of our honesty about our program. But, we have happy swimmers. They have come into our program and have found that what they were told as recruits actually is happening in our program. I feel that there are some U.S. college coaches that do "colour" their programs for the benefit of recruits and then, when they get on campus find out that it was not at all what it was portrayed to be.

I have given several presentations to different groups about the subject of "College Recruiting, The Five Most Important Areas of Consideration." I have enclosed the outline that I present from. I also send a copy to every student-athlete who sends me information about themselves. Whether or not they choose to attend the University of Indianapolis is of no importance to me. I want to help them make the best decision they can for their educational/athletic future. It is similar to a lot of what Matthew is speaking about, but it gives additional information. I thought you might like to see it, pick and choose what you think might help young Canadian student-athletes make a good decision about where they might want to attend school. Matthew is absolutely correct in saying "coaches, parents, and officials would do better to help the swimmer find the right school, regardless of its location." There is a lot to look at and for in choosing a college. Be aware of "shyster" coaches and programs because they are under the gun to produce. The key is to begin your search early. Do not make an emotional decision, but an education decision based on a lot of personal research.

Please feel free to use my outline for whatever purpose you wish. My hope is that we place every student-athlete where they will be the happiest and get the most out of their collegiate educational and athletic experience.

Gary Kinkead,
Head Coach, Men's and Women's Swimming
University of Indianapolis

See Gary Kinkead's Recruiting Outline on page 32.


I would like to commend the words of Matthew McWha, in his recently published article "Going South," with respect to Canadian swimmers attending American universities. Besides being extremely well written and informative, I should hope this article will open the eyes of those who may be allowing their egos to form their opinions. No generalization can be made when it comes to swimmers leaving Canada to pursue their academic and athletic goals. The fact of the matter is that the results in and out of the pool vary with each individual, depending on their priorities before and after choosing a school.

I would also like to commend SWIMNEWS for allowing both sides of the argument to be heard, as demonstrated in many recent issues. Like any "controversial" debate, the extremists will not rest without the last word, and those of us in the middle-the swimmers who have chosen to accept athletic scholarships-are drowned with either uneducated remarks or, much to our appreciation, encouraging support. However, as stated in Matthew McWha's article, the energies of the non-swimmers should be focussed on aiding the swimmer in making a well-informed decision, whether it be to attend a school in Canada or the United States.

After finishing high school a half year early to concentrate on training and making a well informed university decision, I can understand the benefits and drawbacks of both sides. I kept an extremely open mind throughout the process, applying to various universities in Ontario, looking at schools across Canada, and of course taking recruiting trips to a few American schools as well. After signing with UCLA in April, I guarantee that no stones were left unturned in terms of my academic and athletic pursuits.

I chose the school, carefully, which I believe suits me best, and can only hope that my decision will be respected by onlookers who may be tempted to say I have made the wrong choice. Above all, I would like to encourage SWIMNEWS to continue educating people on the pros and cons of this issue. Maybe if we opened our minds and put our heads together, rather than argue about petty issues and wonder why Canadian Swimming has fallen behind the International swimming community, than progress would really be made. How can anybody proceed in the direction of their goals without an open mind, right?!

Jennifer Noddle,
Etobicoke Swimming / UCLA Bruins


My sincere thanks go out to Matt McWha for his article, "Going South," printed in your May issue. This article should be mandatory reading for every Canadian high school swimmer who is having thoughts of going south of the 49th for their college career. As a former "Frostback" myself (as they referred to us in Texas), Matt's article really hits home and I think it's great someone finally outlined exactly how one should approach the NCAA question.

Signing on the dotted line was, up until then, the biggest decision of my life. Personally, I have no regrets and look back at my college swimming career with fond memories and pride. I know of many Canadian swimmers who have had very successful NCAA careers. Many have gone on to lead teams as captains and many have gone on to achieve academic honours. However, I also know of many Canadians who somehow fell through the cracks and never earned degrees from their chosen institutions. As Matt pointed out, many factors contribute to this dilemma, such as the incompatibility of the NCAA schedule with that of the SNC, a new coach, a new and different culture, lack of necessary funds, and not to mention a new-found freedom being so far from home. Many of these problems have plagued the swimming and academic careers of Canadian swimmers throughout the years. Just as important to note, as Matt also points out, is the fact that for every Canadian who gets lost in the shuffle down south, the same happens to one back home on our own turf. It takes a special student-athlete to complete a four-year degree program while maintaining a high level of athleticism, no matter in which country they decide to compete.

I agree with Matt whole-heartedly that when it comes to making that final decision, whether it be in Canada or the US, education should be one's primary focus. As Matt said, "the idea is to maximize both one's intellectual and swimming achievement at the same time." Thanks, Mr. McWha, for your time and effort in writing this article. Your degrees have served you well.

Luke Small,
Winnipeg and Berkeley, CA


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