Column by John Lohn, Swimming World senior writer
ORLANDO, Florida, October 18. THERE was a post last week following a Morning Swim Show appearance by Garrett Weber-Gale criticizing the sprint standout. Basically, the poster – more than entitled to an opinion – couldn't understand why Weber-Gale was overseas in France, gaining kitchen and life experience while pursuing his love for the culinary arts.
The author of the post went on to say that Weber-Gale would have years ahead of him in which he could obtain cooking instruction in a country with an amazing history of cuisine. The poster just couldn't understand how Weber-Gale could venture to Europe and not place all of his focus on his aquatic exploits and preparation for next year's World Championships in Shanghai.
Well, here's an answer. Weber-Gale is in his mid-twenties and clearly has a balance in life. His world does not solely revolve around swimming, but includes a tremendous mix of activities, highlighted by cooking. We're not in a time in the sport where we can discuss make-or-break decisions. This is as good a time as any to pursue other passions, and Weber-Gale should be applauded for following through on something that easily could become a post-swimming career.
Weber-Gale, a gold medalist on the United States 400 freestyle relay that edged France at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, has plenty of time to get himself in shape – mentally and physically – to excel in Shanghai next year. Meanwhile, he has every right to decide on a schedule that fits his life. Weber-Gale clearly has a balance in his life, something that should be appreciated.
**Next month's issue of Swimming World Magazine will feature Bob Placak on the cover. He is the man who created the wildly successful Tiburon Mile, a premier open-water event that attracts top distance stars and also raises large chunks of money for charity. This year, Placak also created a Sprint Classic, which was won by Josh Schneider.
Schneider was impressive in winning the 50-yard freestyle in 19.50, further solidifying his standing as a rising star on the sprint scene. Schneider made his first major mark by winning the 50 free at last year's NCAA Championships. He followed with a strong Grand Prix season for the summer and, if not for a clerical error that caused a disqualification at the United States Nationals, would have been at the Pan Pacific Championships.
It's nice to see that Schneider, new blood in the sprint world, is continuing his progression and figures to be a significant factor for the United States in the coming years.
**So, Ryan Lochte is headlining the United States squad that will compete in December's World Short Course Championships in Dubai. Unless a world record goes down at the upcoming Asian Games, Lochte figures to be the best chance at a world record for 2010. Is it a long shot? In the post-tech suit era, the answer is yes. But if anyone can be considered the prime challenger to take down a global standard, it has to be Lochte, who has a splendid track record in the short-course pool and could take home a hefty medal collection. That's what we've come to expect from Lochte anyway.
**Speaking of international meets, the results from the Commonwealth Games were disappointing. At the Pan Pacific Championships, there was chatter that many of the Australians were gearing up for the Commonwealth Games as the bigger meet. However, the better results – with some exceptions – arrived in August. It was impressive to see Alicia Coutts in the 200 individual medley and Geoff Huegill win the 100 butterfly. Overall, though, the meet didn't produce much. Let's hope the Asian Games are more impressive.