MIAMI, Florida, September 3. GARY Hall, Jr., 27, four-time Olympic gold medalist and American record-holder in the 50 meter freestyle, took exception — respectfully — to comments made recently by coaching great Mark Schubert over the impact of sprint emphasis in American swimming.
Schubert's comments were made in a recent interview in USA Today while Hall responded in his newsletter, www.garyhalljr.com.
In his interview, Coach Schubert expressed the view that the emphasis on sprinting at the high school and collegiate level is hurting the US in international competition. This is a point of view shared by many coaches including former US National Team Director, Dennis Pursley.
Hall responded: "Last night I stayed up late watching 'Bullnanza,' the PBR events. That's bull riding. Sprinters have a reputation as being lazy and part of that reason is because our race lasts twenty-something seconds. Last night I saw a guy win US$100,000 for staying on a bull for 8 seconds. Eight.
"I don't know why there has to be this rift between sprinters and distance swimmers. I was disheartened by some comments that Mark Schubert (Head Coach of USC Men's team and 2000 Olympics Head Men's Coach) made about sprinters and sprinting in a USA Today article this past summer. The message was that sprinting has ruined American swimming. I'm used to bold statements because I've made a few myself, but is that necessary? Or true?
"In track and field I have never heard marathon runners grumbling about how Michael Johnson or Marian Jones are lazy. They don't even mention Maurice Green, whose event is a mere 9 seconds. A close comparison of events according to time would match the 50 meter freestyle with the 200 in track and field and the 100 meter freestyle with the 400. In track, these are considered premier events.
"Considering these events to be "premier" doesn't take anything away from the longer events. A gold medal in the sprint is worth just as much as a gold in the distance event."
In his newsletter Hall continues to make the argument on why sprint swimming and distance swimmers should be equally respected by the hierarchy of the swimming world. For more on Gary's thoughts visit www.garyhalljr.com
Hall concluded by addressing Coach Schubert directly: "If you read this, I mean you no insult. I just don't understand the animosity."