By David Rieder.
It was hard to miss Louisville this week at U.S. Winter Nationals in Columbus, with 40 swimmers representing the college team and another three postgrads swimming for Cardinal Aquatics. And they brought with them some bling.
All meet long, the Cardinals awarded a chain to standout swimmers. If the concept sounds familiar, well, it should. The University of Miami football team debuted a “turnover chain” this season, awarding it to any defender who took the football away from the opponent’s offense.
The turnover chain gained more notoriety than any Miami player, even as the Hurricanes went undefeated until losing in their final regular season game. Louisville assistant coach Chris Lindauer admitted that Miami’s success inspired the Cardinals.
“This was not an original idea, obviously—watching Miami and the success they had as a football team with the turnover chain,” Lindauer said, explaining the idea. “The very first thing they’d do, they’d intercept it, and the player who would intercept it, he would sprint right over to the coach.”
So the Louisville coaches built a chain. Obtaining the chain itself was the easy part, but it took some effort to build the model of the Louisville logo and then bedazzling it.
“Our engineering department helped cut out the bird in three different metal sheets,” Lindauer said. “I think the effort put into it just as far as getting it cut out and finding the right colors, that took some effort. This is my first time ever bedazzling anything—I think I’ve bedazzled enough in my life.”
What does a swimmer have to do to earn the chain? It’s not clear-cut, Lindauer admits.
“We thought about best times, but really, it’s anybody who just brings energy to the time. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a best time,” he said. “It just is a swim that stands out, goes above and beyond, just an out-of-body experience.”
The winners of the chain have ranged from stars like Kelsi Worrell and Mallory Comerford to freshman distance swimmer Graham Barrett, who put up the top time of the afternoon heats of the men’s 1650 free and ended up finishing seventh overall in 15:06.16. His previous best? A 15:24 from his junior year of high school.
Seems deserving of the chain, no?
“It’s definitely much more than just the chain, but you can see the guys and the girls this weekend, the extra incentive, the fire and the hype that knowing if they deliver, they’re going to come over to the team area, and we’re going to celebrate—we’re going to be loud,” Lindauer said. “We’re trying to add a little bit of swagger into it as well.”