PHOENIX, Arizona, May 5. IN the third of our four-part series on swimming fan sites, SwimmingWorldMagazine.com takes a closer look at Brendan Hansen Online (BHO). In the first part of the series, BHO owner/operator Michelle told us a little about herself and talked about opening up the site, and in the second part, we looked at Ian Crocker Online.
Today, we turn the spotlight on BHO. Unfortunately, the subject of the site was unavailable to talk due to a vacation, but he often comments on the site. Additionally, most of his family members sometimes participate in discussions on the site as well.
Here is the rest of the interview we conducted with Michelle:
What do you like the most about running your fan site?
Michelle: The people I've met without question. We have a great community of fans from all over the world and I've met many of them face-to-face and loved every one. Also, meeting Brendan and having the opportunity to spend time with his family who have all been really kind to me. I also get to meet and talk to media people like Jason Marsteller, John Lohn, Peter Bick and Rowdy Gaines. The swimming community as a whole (swimmers, coaches, fans and reporters) tend to be just incredibly positive people.
What was the most difficult thing you had to deal with when you started your site, as well as throughout the history of your site?
Michelle: The most difficult thing for me has probably been trying to maintain interest and find ways to entertain fans during the off season. We only really get competition news for a few months each year and the rest of the time it's sporadic at best. Finding stories, begging fans for their photos, videos, etc. and trying to add something new several times a week even during the dead times is just not easy. It can also be difficult to distance myself from the site when I need to focus on other things. It's my baby in a way and while I've got a great friend (Lala from Deckchange.com) who is able to step in and take over when I need her to, it can be really difficult to hand control over to someone else.
What has been the most active story on your site?
Michelle: Most active story in terms of the amount of feedback I've received has probably been Brendan's original Fan Q&A that he did back in 2004. I got something like 70 questions for him and told him to pick and choose the ones he liked. He answered them all and sent it back within 24 hours. What a rock star!
Perhaps the most active story in terms of one that we keep coming back to over and over, is the rivalry between Brendan and Kosuke Kitajima. I guess you could call it the Redemption story. It's old news, but that dolphin kick from Athens is still fresh in the minds of most Hansen fans and we keep up with what Kitajima is up to and look forward to the times when Brendan is able to get in the water and compete against him.
What piece of advice would you give to any other fans out there that might consider starting their own fan site?
Michelle: I'd tell them to do it because it's fun and you can meet great new friends who share a common interest, BUT it's important not to lose site of their "real world" goals and interests. A website can eat up all of your free time if you let it and then you are pale and depressed and your friends think you died because you never call anymore. Don't let that be you.
Also, have realistic expectations. Your favorite swimmer may or may not be interested in getting involved with a fan site for a wide variety of reasons and you can't take it personally. I was really fortunate that Brendan decided to be involved with BHO in the early days of it and as much as I'd love to take credit for the success I've had with BHO it's really been his and his family's involvement that brought fans to the site. Not all swimmers are as brave when it comes to the Internet, and while they may very much appreciate what you do for them that may be the limit of their involvement.