Heart and Courage: Leaders Stepped to Sport’s Forefront as Coronavirus Spread

jacob-pebley-

A Voice For The Sport:

Diving In During Dire Times

By John Lohn

Times of global crisis are revealing. It is in these moments that a definitive line can be drawn between the proactive and understanding members of society and those who retreat, hoping the problem will simply go away. During the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the world, many individuals and organizations have shined. Others have huddled in a corner of inaction and weakness.

More than a million people worldwide have been struck by COVID-19. Families have lost loved ones, and due to social-distancing measures, have not been able to properly say goodbye. Others have lost jobs, or taken wage reductions, and been forced to cope with the corresponding financial struggles. Still more have been separated from family, as mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters and brothers bravely stand on the front lines as medical professionals confronting this disease.

There is no other way to say it: The coronavirus is a monster—unrelenting, fast-moving, indiscriminate and heartless. Its impact on the world will be long felt.

During these tragic days, the swimming community has shown itself capable of comprehending the enormity of the situation—both for the world and for those who dedicated thousands of hours toward the lifelong goal of competing on the Olympic stage. As the International Olympic Committee dawdled along, claiming “the Games will go on,” many athletes had a firmer grasp of reality and the simple fact that an Olympiad would have been a slap in the face.

“I am deeply concerned by the IOC’s recent statement that they are essentially continuing with business as usual despite the growing evidence that COVID-19 will remain a massive threat for the foreseeable future,” wrote American backstroker Jacob Pebley on a social-media post. “How can we,

members of Team USA and role models for hundreds of thousands of young athletes, attend Olympic Trials/the Olympics in good conscience? To do so would fly in the face of all emerging evidence and best practices for social distancing and protecting the health of vulnerable communities.”

Through his Instagram account, Pebley displayed courage and a willingness to step to the forefront of a discussion that should have been initiated by the Olympic governing bodies of various countries around the world. Instead, these organizations—such as the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee—did not exhibit leadership characteristics, but remained in lockstep with the IOC’s insistence that the Games would proceed.

By speaking out, Pebley initiated a call for right over wrong. On one hand, it was clear that equality was not present when it came to preparation for the Games or the various Trials that would allocate admission tickets. Some hopefuls had pools at their disposal. Others did not. How could a Games proceed with such an uneven playing field? But more important, as Pebley noted, was the arrogance of holding the biggest sporting competition in the world amid a pandemic that was claiming more and more lives with every passing hour.

Eventually, USA Swimming, Swimming Canada and Swimming Australia called for the Olympics to be postponed, and the IOC ultimately removed its head from the sand and announced Tokyo 2020 would not take place. The decision should have come earlier and without external pressure, but—as the adage goes—better late than never.

While Pebley’s bullet was critical in fast-forwarding the postponement process, questions remained. With the Olympics moved to 2021, some athletes had to consider whether they would stay active and put the next chapter in their lives on pause. For those not named Dressel, Ledecky or Sjostrom, could they afford another year?

Then, International Swimming League founder Konstantin Grigorishin stepped forward as a savior of sorts. The billionaire announced he would fund the 320 members of the ISL, allowing them to continue training toward 2021 and without financial worries.

Leaders are defined by their willingness to speak out and act. So, as we begin a new countdown toward the Tokyo Olympics and pray for the end of this terrible pandemic, it’s worth celebrating men like Jacob Pebley and Konstantin Grigorishin. They are the types needed during dire times.

John Lohn
Associate Editor-in-Chief
Swimming World Magazine

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Swimming World Magazine May 2020 Issue

FEATURES

016 TOSSED INTO TURMOIL
by Dan D’Addona
The spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has had a far-reaching impact not only on everyday life, but also on the sport of swimming across the globe.

018 TIMING IS EVERYTHING
by David Rieder
Everyone knows how important timing is—races can be won or lost by hundredths of a second. For swimmers competing at the NAIA and NJCAA Championships, the most important timing was measured in days. Both associations were able to complete their championship meets just before other major sports championships were being canceled due to the threat of coronavirus.

022 SILVER LINING COULD TURN TO GOLD
by Michael Randazzo
The Olympic postponement was hardly perceived as a positive, but it could lead to hope and opportunity for any men’s or women’s water polo team that aspires to Olympic competition—including the United States’ national teams.

024 MENTAL PREP: BEFORE THE BEEP WITH ASHLEY TWICHELL
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

026 IMPACTING LIVES THROUGH COACHING
by David Rieder
Dave Durden, University of California and U.S. national team coach, simply refers to himself as a swim coach. But he’s also a leader, an expert at maximizing performance, removing doubt, instilling confidence and navigating young men through demanding situations.

030 TAKEOFF TO TOKYO:  T ‘N’ T—A FRIENDLY RIVALRY FOR A DYNAMITE DUO
by John Lohn
During the Olympic campaign of 2000, Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres—complete opposites out of the pool, but with few differences as competitors—were engaged in a friendly, but not-so-easy rivalry—one that brought out the best in both swimmers.

034 ISHOF: A DUKE, A MERMAID, A WAR AND THE FLU
by Bruce Wigo
COVID-19 isn’t the first pandemic disease to have brought the world of competitive swimming to a halt, and the 2020 Olympic Games are not the first to be postponed or canceled. This is the story of the years between 1914 and 1918, when the world was suddenly and unexpectedly turned upside down by events not so different from what our sport is experiencing today.

COACHING

014 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: THE VALUE OF HAND FORCE ANALYSIS: PART II—BACKSTROKE
by Rod Havriluk
Synchronized video and hand force data is an essential tool for optimizing technique. A coach can use the force data to pinpoint limitations, refer to the corresponding video images to explain changes and monitor a swimmer’s progress in improving technique.

038 MOTIVATING SWIMMERS TO NEW HEIGHTS
by Michael J. Stott
Memorable are the sporting events where an athlete or team is “on fire.” Swimming World checks in with two high school and two age group coaches for insight into how that happens. Spoiler alert: the common denominator is “buy-in” from athletes who connect with a coach.

042 SPECIAL SETS:  CHANGE-OF-PACE FUN
by Michael J. Stott
USA Swimming master coach consultant Bob Steele provides some favorite change-of-pace exercises that are designed to insert spice and fun into in-season training.

046 Q&A WITH COACH DOUG FONDER
by Michael J. Stott

047 HOW THEY TRAIN OLIVIA BRAY
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

012 DRYSIDE TRAINING: STROKE STRENGTH SERIES—FREESTYLE
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER

049 UP & COMERS: FINN CONLEY
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS

010 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

011 BEYOND THE YARDS

036 DID YOU KNOW? 1920 U.S. WOMEN’S OLYMPIC TEAM

044 THE OFFICIAL WORD

050 GUTTERTALK

051 PARTING SHOT

NOTE: READ LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER ABOUT THIS DIGITAL ISSUE DURING THE CONVID-19 PANDEMIC

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