Swimming World October 2021 Presents – Voice For The Sport: Rivalries Inspire Greatness – By Editor-in-Chief John Lohn

Voice For the Sport Tokyo Olympics pool

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Voice For The Sport: Rivalries Inspire Greatness

By John Lohn

The cover of this month’s issue of Swimming World shows David Popovici, seemingly destined for greatness, celebrating his European Junior title in the 100 meter freestyle in splashy form. Because of his precocious talent, an editorial decision was made to place the Romanian teenager in a front-and-center position.

Michael Phelps has been on the cover on numerous occasions. So has Ian Thorpe. And Mark Spitz. Count Janet Evans as a former cover star, along with Katie Ledecky and Tracy Caulkins. Honestly, if you earn a Swimming World cover nod, the honor equates to superstar status—plain and simple. Heck, there’s only 12 of them in a year.

Yes, Popovici still has much to prove, but his trajectory suggests big things ahead. More, he has an antagonist to push him toward his goals, which undoubtedly include Olympic gold medals and world-record performances. More on that guy in a moment.

When Phelps ascended to the top of Mount Olympus, his climb was achieved in dominant fashion. There were plenty of routs along the way, the opposition unable to match his ability. But there were also a handful of athletes who fueled Phelps toward his goals. As the one-time face of the sport, Thorpe was the guy he needed to supplant. Another Ian, this one with the surname of Crocker, served as a major obstacle in the 100 butterfly.

The truth is, rivalries play a defining role in the sport. They routinely provide highlight moments, and their head-to-head nature tends to ignite a fire in one, if not both, of the involved parties. So, as Popovici—youth on his side—embarks on a full-force chase for international medals, he is positioned to benefit from the presence of a rival.

In Sunwoo Hwang, Popovici might have the foe necessary to elevate his performances to the next level. Popovici is the more-hyped of the teens, but the 18-year-old Korean isn’t far behind. At the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where Popovici advanced to the finals of the 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle, Hwang accomplished the same feat.

Beyond finishing places, Hwang displayed a not-afraid-of-anything demeanor during his Olympic debut. He attacked his events with vigor, not concerned in the least with going out too fast and fading. Rather, he was a kid who felt he belonged—and confirmed that belief through his swims. He is another youthful phenom, and Hwang and Popovici could pull each other to greater heights. Think Phelps and Ryan Lochte.

With the Tokyo Games fresh in the rearview mirror, the sport is in a terrific place. The pool features a dynamic combination of veteran talent and youthful skill, and there is no shortage of rivalries to spice up the international competitions on the horizon.

In men’s action, the past two Olympic champions in the 100 freestyle, American Caeleb Dressel and Australian Kyle Chalmers, are expected to add further chapters to their rivalry. While Dressel has beaten Chalmers for the past two major crowns, both showdowns were tight—12-hundredths separating them at the 2019 World Championships and just 6-hundredths the difference at the Olympics this past summer.

On the women’s side, Aussie Ariarne Titmus has taken the upper hand in her rivalry with American Katie Ledecky in the 400 freestyle. Through grinding work and determination, Titmus erased a gap with Ledecky that once seemed impossibly large. Now, we ask these questions: Will Titmus remain on top, or will Ledecky find a way to regain her perch?

The World Championships will be held in Japan in May, and that is the next time we will see the aforementioned rivalries unfold further. That meet, slated for Fukuoka, is also where Popovici and Hwang could battle again, and they just might factor into how the podium looks.

Rivalries are a common thread of sports, and swimming has some real beauties at the moment—some established and one brewing.

Let’s hope they endure.

John Lohn
Editor-in-Chief
Swimming World Magazine

 

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Swimming World October 2021 - David Popovici - New Kid On The Block - COVER
[PHOTO BY GEORGIO SCALIA / DEEPBLUEMEDIA]

 

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FEATURES

010     THE OLYMPIC “QUADRENNIUM:”  A LOOK BACK AND A LOOK AHEAD
by David Rieder
Swimming World reflects on the last five years since the last Olympic Games in Rio and ponders the questions that lie ahead during the next three years leading up to Paris 2024.

014     A CANADIAN SURGE
by Matthew De George
Swimmers from Canada exceeded expectations at the Tokyo Games. And the Canadian delegation showed that the future is as bright as the present, with prolific young talents on both sides of the competition.

020    ISHOF FEATURE: AQUATOTS MURDER CASE—THE KATHY TONGAY STORY (Part 1)
by Bruce Wigo
It is doubtful that in the annals of aquatic history, there has ever been an example of abusive parents like the story of “little Kathy Tongay.”

024    EXPECT GREAT THINGS!
by John Lohn
David Popovici just turned 17 years old, but the Romanian sprint freestyler appears poised to follow a path to prominence.

031    NUTRITION: KNOW THYSELF
by Dawn Weatherwax
Knowing your body composition can help you swim fast and stay healthy.

COACHING

029    BASIC DRYLAND TRAINING
by Michael J. Stott
A concentrated, ongoing strength and conditioning regimen provides a quality supplement to in-pool training, helping swimmers become stronger and faster. Coaches Ron and Rich Blanc of Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Southern California share last season’s dryland training schedule that helped his girls’ and boys’ teams become national powers.

030    WEIGHT ROOM COMMON SENSE
by J.R. Rosania

These “Do’s and Dont’s” are courtesy of exercise scientist J.R. Rosania, whose performance enhancement firm Healthplex serves multisport athletes worldwide.

034    SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: MAXIMIZING SWIMMING VELOCITY (Part 5): MINIMIZING THE ARM RECOVERY PHASE
by Rod Havriluk
The greatest possible time decreases for additional swimming velocity increases are in the non-propulsive phases (entry and recovery). This article includes strategies to minimize the recovery phase time of all four strokes.

045    Q&A WITH COACHES RON & RICH BLANC
by Michael J. Stott

046   HOW THEY TRAIN MAGGIE McGUIRE & JACK NUGENT
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

033    DRYSIDE TRAINING:  BACK TO BASICS (Part 1)
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER

044   UP & COMERS:  MARYJANE (MJ) NEILSON
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS & SPECIAL SECTIONS

008    A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

009    DID YOU KNOW: ABOUT FAMOUS GUYS WHO GOLF?

016    HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

036   PREP SCHOOL DIRECTORY`

048   GUTTERTALK

049    PARTING SHOT

 

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