By Phillip Whitten
PHOENIX, Aug. 10. MOST people would say that Australia was the dominant team at the recently concluded World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. But FINA, the sport's international governing body, disagrees. And therein lies a burgeoning controversy.
The case for Australia appaers overwhelming. The Aussies won 13 gold medals to 9 for the USA. They won five of six relays, beating the US in all six relay events. And they set five world records, versus one for the Americans.
Certainly the Australian media believe the Aussies won the Championships. Every major newspaper in Australia, and every T.V. channel proclaimed the lads and lassies from Down Under were now perched atop the world of swimming.
But then FINA stepped in with another interpretation, one that USA Swimming and the US Olympic Committee were happy to endorse.
FINA proclaimed the USA as team champions, noting the US won 26 medals to Australia's 19. Using a scoring system of 18 points for first in individual events, 16 for second, 15 for third, and so on, down to 1 point for sixteenth place, and double points for relays, FINA awarded the meet to the USA, 847 points to 788 for Australia. (No other team scores were given.)
USA Swimming forwarded that information to the USOC, which named the USA Swim Team as its "Team of the Month" for July for winning the team championship in Fukuoka.
Australians were outraged by the claim, and according to Tarrah J. Smith, Media Services Coordinator for USA Swimming, have been bombarding Colorado Springs with "50 or 60" e-mails and letters the first two days, expressing their opinion about the FINA scoring system and the US claim.
So who is Number One?
Let us know what you think.