Commentary by Wayne Goldsmith
GOLD COAST, Australia, August 25. HERE at the Pan Pacs, the winners got the gold medals. The runner-ups got the silvers. And the third-placed swimmers received bronze.
But who won the real prizes? Who won the “2014 PAN PAC SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS SWIMMER AWARDS”?
The “I’ve Got to Stop Looking Around to See Where Michael Is” Award
And the winner is: Ryan Lochte. Lochte is such an amazing swimmer but he missed out on a place in the men’s 200 IM final at this year’s Pan Pacs because he was a little too focused on where Michael Phelps was in their heat swim. Lochte’s time in the B FINAL would have got him the gold medal in the A FINAL. If Lochte just focuses on swimming his own race, he’ll be even more brilliant than he is already.
Lesson: “Swim your own race”.
The “Smoother than Olive Oil on a Glass Table” Award
And the winner is: Australia’s Cate Campbell. The secret to swimming fast 50s is having a great start. And the secret to a great start is to take off with a great dive from the blocks, hold a perfect streamline, kick with fast, powerful kicks underwater, execute a strong and deliberate kick into your breakout stroke and then “explode” with your first few strokes on the surface. Campbell does all these skills magnificently but what makes her so special is the smooth, seamless way she combines all of these swimming skills into one single, continuous, uninterrupted, flowing motion.
Lesson: “Get to top speed faster than your opposition by mastering all the skills from blocks to breakout”
The “I Think She Might Be a Robot” Award
And the winner is: Katie Ledecky. OK – she’s fast. And sure, her endurance is amazing. But her pacing skills are extraordinary. During her astonishing 1500-metre world record, her 50 metre splits varied only slightly. Her ability to manage her speed and maintain an even pace throughout her race is something very, VERY special. You’d be tempted to x-ray Katie to make sure there wasn’t some sort of machine inside her body which helps her to maintain such a relentless pace throughout her races, but the reality is she’s very human – a human who’s trained very, very hard at mastering accurate race pacing.
Lesson: “Train the way you want to race”
The “Blur” Award
And the winner is: Brazil’s Bruno Fratus. The Brazilian Tornado exploded off the blocks and blasted his way to 21.44 in the final of the men’s 50 freestyle. The last time I saw arms move that fast was when I offered my four-year-old a candy bar! Fratus has extraordinary arm and foot speed and while his technique might lack the smooth finesse of Ervin and Adrian, he more than makes up for it in sheer speed, power and amazing acceleration. Put him in a relay team with the great Cesar Cielo and the Brazilian men will be burning up the lanes of Rio in front of their home fans two years from now.
Lesson: “Winning Doesn’t Need To Be Pretty”
The “Ironman” Award
And the winner is: Japan’s Kosuke Hagino. A real “one-man-swim-team,” Hagino’s power, speed, strength and endurance were on full display over the four days of the meet as he stormed through a program that any other three swimmers would be proud of. A real “Ironman” effort from the 20-year-old, a genuine swimming superstar and someone to watch at next year’s FINA World Championships. And the scary thing is, he’s going to get better!
Lesson: “Work harder, more often than anyone else”.
And finally “The Look Out World: I’m Back” Award
And the winner is – you guessed it – Michael Phelps. Reportedly only swimming a fraction of the training volume that he’s done in the past, Phelps again proved that he’s got it all: technique, skills, power, speed, endurance and guts. Even “Ironman” Hagino, who defeated Phelps in the final of the 200 IM said in his post race interview (through an interpreter) “I only beat Michael because he’s not in his best shape.” If Phelps is this fast when he’s “out of shape,” just imagine what is he capable of at the 2015 FINA World Championships and the 2016 Olympic Games when he is back in peak form? A sub-49-second 100 fly? Or what about the first man to swim under 1:54 for the 200 IM? One thing’s for certain: Michael’s future will be faster.
Lesson: “There are no limits to what you can achieve”.
Those are my 2014 PAN PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS SWIMMER AWARDS – what are yours?
Wayne Goldsmith is a Swimming World Magazine contributor and a world-renowned coach who has hosted clinics around the world and spoken about motivation at numerous coaching clinics.