World Championships Day Three Prelims Notebook: Swimmers And Post-Olympic Rehab

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Commentary by Jeff Commings

BARCELONA, Spain, July 30. TYLER Clary was obviously in a good mood this morning after qualifying first in the men’s 200 butterfly. But history has taught him to be overly cautious about the 200 butterfly at the world championships.

“You can’t read too much into that,” he said. “I’ll take top seed for the semi-final tonight at any point, but, I’ve said this a little while ago, I got second in my heat at semi-finals in 2011 (at the world champiosnships) and ended up ninth, missing the final, so I definitely still got some work to do in the semis.”

Clary is one of many people who is experiencing the post-Olympic letdown, that mental and physical exhaustion that comes after participating in the biggest meet of your life. Though he was able to drive race cars and meet Hollywood celebrities, getting back in the pool was the one thing Clary was not anxious to do in the months after London.

“I had a couple of points during the year where I had a serious sit-down with myself and kind of re-evaluated what I’m doing, if this is still what I really want to be doing, and swims like that (his heat) are very encouraging.

“Post-Olympic year is kind of the same reason why people go to rehab. You don’t just go straight from something like the Olympics to go straight down to nothing as far as emotional excitement and adrenaline and all that stuff goes. You kind of got to taper down. Unfortunately we don’t really have something that allows us to do that because at that point we are all so tired and the last thing want to see is a pool. But things are starting to turn around.”

I’ve spoken with many Olympians in the past month, and just about all of them say they wish they had the ability to take more of a break after London. Some of the swimmers haven’t been able to recover from the Olympic experience, while others continue to thrive. Maybe Clary is on to something. Maybe there should be a rehab center for Olympians. Or maybe there shouldn’t be a world championships in the year after the Olympics. Maybe every four years, in the year before each Olympic Games. The year after could be a year off in terms of international competition, with countries only holding national championships. The following year could be the continental championships (Europeans, Pan Pacific champs, Pan Ams, Asian Games, etc.) and the third year of the Olympic cycle could be the world championships.

The worldwide excitement level for swimming might take a hit in the post-Olympic year as a result, but it will be better for the athletes.

The tough threepeat. We know how difficult it is to win the same individual swimming event three times at the Olympic Games. Only three people have done it.

It seems to be just as difficult to threepeat at the world championships, despite the fact that the meet is held every two years. Only Michael Phelps, Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett and Aaron Peirsol have won the same event three times straight, and naturally, Phelps has done it in remarkable fashion.

Hackett is the only person to have won an event four straight times with 1500 free wins in 1998, 2001, 2003 and 2005. Phelps, meanwhile, has done it in three events in the 100 fly, 200 fly and 200 IM.

This year, four swimmers are looking to join that elusive club, and one of them made big strides on the path to earning the threepeat today. Federica Pellegrini could win her third-straight 200 free tomorrow after advancing to tonight’s semifinals. I hadn’t pegged Pellegrini as a medal favorite, but after this morning’s swim, I think she will be tough. Missy Franklin, Camille Muffat and Katinka Hosszu will try to keep her from the historic win.

Also up for threepeat possibilities this week: Ryan Lochte in the 200 back after winning in 2007 and 2011, and Jessica Hardy in the 50 breast to compliment her wins in 2007 and 2011 as well as Daniel Gyurta in the 200 breast.

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