Guest Response from Jack Simon
PHOENIX, Arizona, May 14. I write this letter in relation to Chuck Slaght's very well written guest editorial on May 5, 2009.
Chuck has most certainly covered most of the bases relating to us beginning to swim in a 25 meter course. No sense in going over those now, but I will try to add a few comments.
The real failure here is leadership succumbing to mediocrity and in many cases downright whining. Dennis Pursley went through this during his tenure as our National Team Director when our Nationals were long course. "–we can't swim long course because all we have is a short course pool" "It is unfair" etc. The same crying can be heard by many of the same individuals and within the leadership of a number of LSC's. If the U.S. is going to remain dominant in the world of swimming, then it needs to stop doing the 'same' and start thinking progressively.
I fully realize that we cannot just jump in one season and start doing all our short course in a 25 meter pool. But, we can begin the process. I suggested to Mark Schubert two years ago that we start to show leadership towards us swimming short course meters. "You're preaching to the choir!" I truly believe that Mark understands that, but–other than a Grand Prix meet–we still have no SC meters competition. Some six months ago I suggested going SC meters in our World Championship and Olympic years—and remaining SC yards in the alternate years. In my mind, most certainly a fair compromise. Still nothing!
By our failure to address this issue, we are hurting not just the top level of our sport, but equally important, our age group developmental program. When young athletes can see that they are competitive short course with the rest of the world it provides a tremendous motivation.
Next, does the media really care about American records? With few exceptions, that answer is a resounding NO. They do care about World Records–of which the U.S. has very few in the short course arena. It seemed to me that the one NCAA's that was run in a 25 meter facility was quite successful in terms of both American and World records and had a fairly sizable media coverage. We have the talent in this country to be breaking many SC meter records–perhaps it might even help us hold a few more in the long course pool.
The U.S. national program is moving along and doing well in most people's eyes. It just so happens that the rest of the world is doing better each year!
Years ago Pat Buchanan was screaming on his talk show about U.S. isolation–nationalism, etc. Most intelligent people realized he was wrong and that some form of globalization was necessary. So, let's hope the leadership of U.S.S. finds a way to truly globalize our sport! And–thank you Chuck for getting this started.