Duel in the Pool Mixed Medley Relay Mastermind: Tom Shields

SCOTLAND, Glasgow, December 23. WELL, we all now know the story behind the story of the amazing mixed 200 medley relay at the Duel in the Pool, and it means that Tom Shields has a future in coaching whenever he calls it a career.

Swimming World was recently tipped off that there was some additional team-based input into the decision to swim Eugene Godsoe, Kevin Cordes, Claire Donahue and Simone Manuel in that order during Team USA’s triumphant tiebreaking, and world-record breaking, mixed 200 medley relay.

Typically, decisions like this are made by the coaching staff, and that was still the case in Scotland. However, Tom Shields’ foray into the FINA World Cup this year gave him some additional insight compared to the rest of the team and the coaching staff. With the mixed relay just being recognized this September, that meant plenty of teams put together a variety of strategies to take down the mixed relay world records. Shields, however, noticed something in particular and it helped Team USA to victory.

Swimming World spoke with Shields tonight to get his take on how the behind-the-scenes strategy session went down.

“After spending time watching Bobby Hurley and the Aussies dismantle the world record in what seemed like five or six times at the [FINA World Cups], I noticed that leading off the men was the fastest way that relay could be done,” Shields told Swimming World. “I walked up to Eddie [Reese] and Frank [Busch] right before the men’s 400 free relay and told them to tell Eugene [Godsoe] and [Kevin] Cordes to get ready. They may have already had that plan, I don’t know. But, I wanted to make sure what the world learned from the Cups this year was at least communicated to our coaching staff, which hadn’t had the opportunity to be at the Cups themselves.”

Swimming World has also been told that Shields was singled out for his input during a team meeting following the come-from-behind victory.

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