Swimming World Presents – A Voice For The Sport: Whatever It Takes – By John Lohn

Voice For the Sport Tokyo Olympics pool

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A Voice For The Sport:
Whatever It Takes

By John Lohn

As I sat down to write this column, the city of Tokyo remained in a state of emergency due to COVID-19. This virus has wreaked havoc on the world for more than a year, and while a vaccine is now being distributed, thousands continue to die or are forced to fight off the terrible symptoms associated with the illness.

The loss of life caused by COVID-19 is, of course, the focal point of this pandemic. The fact that loved ones will be missing from the dinner table from one holiday to the next is tragic. That men and women must be hooked up to ventilators to breathe is heartbreaking. And knowing some individuals may have their dreams—ones they have pursued for years—squashed is also difficult to accept.

The Olympic Games were supposed to be held last summer in Tokyo until COVID-19 forced the International Olympic Committee to delay the spectacle for a year. Now, as we creep closer to the 2021 reschedule date, there is real concern that another postponement or, even worse, a cancellation is a grim possibility. With Tokyo operating in a state of emergency, there is obvious reason for panic and doubt.

It’s been 41 years since President Jimmy Carter announced the United States would boycott the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. Through that decision, the dedication and focus of Rowdy Gaines, Mary T. Meagher and Tracy Caulkins—among others—was shoved aside by a political gesture.

Now, as COVID-19 remains a damning foe, I can’t help but fear that a new generation of athletes will be robbed by a force beyond their control. It is sad to consider, but these are some of the thoughts crossing my mind:

Will Caeleb Dressel be denied the opportunity to become the first man in history to capture Olympic titles in the 50 freestyle, 100 free and 100 butterfly in the same Olympiad? Will Dressel, easily the sport’s headliner, be denied a chance to join the elite club of Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi as a seven-time medalist (or more) at a single Games?

Will Australian Cate Campbell get her chance at redemption in the 100 freestyle? In 2016, Campbell entered the Rio Games as the favorite in her prime event, only to miss the podium. A determined Campbell, though, has again positioned herself to chase gold, all while speaking out against those who used social media to beat her while she was down.

Will Daiya Seto be denied the chance to race on home soil, where he is expected to be the favorite for gold in the 200 and 400 individual medley?

Will Katie Ledecky, already the greatest distance swimmer in history, have the opportunity to chase the first 400-800-1500 freestyle triple, thanks to the introduction of the longest event to the women’s program?

Will a yet unnamed athlete from—say—the Marshall Islands wear the biggest smile after racing in the men’s 50 freestyle and being able to call himself an Olympian for the rest of his life.

The truth is, I have no idea what the swimmers affected by the 1980 boycott felt. I can only imagine. Yet, having read Sippy Woodhead’s comments from the past—those which discussed her depression—the last thing anyone wants is to see another group of dedicated athletes have their dreams turn into nightmares.

A decision concerning the fate of the Tokyo Games will be made in the next month or two, and for a positive outcome to surface, the Japanese city will have to free itself from the siege it is currently under. Meanwhile, some measures might have to be taken to ensure a successful and healthy Games, such as limited spectators.

Whatever it takes for the Olympic Games to be held needs to be seen through. The athletes seeking invitations to Tokyo have made too many sacrifices to be dealt a fate similar to what some experienced in 1980.

John Lohn
Associate Editor-in-Chief
Swimming World Magazine

 

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SW February 2012 - Emma McKeon COVER[PHOTO BY DELLY CARR, SWIMMING AUSTRALIA]

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Swimming World Magazine February 2021 Issue

FEATURES

012 THE PRIDE OF GIRLS’ POLO IN THE GATEWAY CITY
by Michael Randazzo
When COVID-19 lockdowns last spring stopped polo, Rob Peglar and Abby VerMeer didn’t hesitate: they focused on getting girls water polo untracked in the Gateway City. The result: the St. Louis Lions, the city’s first all-girls team.

014 ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL
by Dan D’Addona
The popular motto of The Musketeers, built on supporting each other as well as the group, is just one of many reasons why the University of Texas remains among the strongest in men’s college swimming and diving.

020 READY FOR A BREAKTHROUGH
by Andy Ross
Melanie Margalis is an Olympic relay gold medalist and a three-time relay champion at Worlds, but a podium finish in an individual event has eluded her on the world’s biggest stage. After ranking No. 1 in the 400 IM and No. 3 in the shorter medley for 2020, her turn to win a medal for the United States could take place this year in Tokyo.

022 PERSEVERANCE AND HARD  WORK PAY OFF
by David Rieder
After not qualifying for Australia’s Olympic team in 2012, Emma McKeon was ready to quit…but over the next several months, she had a change of heart and understood what was necessary to compete at a higher level. Since then, she has become a significant international force, a consistent podium presence and one of the world’s most impactful relay swimmers.

026 TAKEOFF TO TOKYO: TARNISHED GOLD
by John Lohn
East Germany’s Kristin Otto will long be remembered as a highly decorated athlete, and for turning in one of the greatest Olympic outings in history, winning six gold medals at the 1988 Games. But because of the links to her and performance-enhancing drugs, what she accomplished—before and in Seoul—will always be tainted.

029 WHO “SHOT” THE SWIMMERS? (Part 2)
by Bruce Wigo
Shortly after the 1936 Olympics in a lab in Boston, Harold “Doc” Edgerton, an electrical engineering professor at MIT, began tinkering with equipment that would change the way science explains natural phenomena—and with it, the art of aquatic sports photography—forever.

032 NUTRITION: TO BE THE BEST, YOU NEED TO EAT THE BEST!
by Dawn Weatherwax
Each year really does build onto another—nutrition is an imperative part of the process, even at an early age.

COACHING

016 SELLING PROCESS TO SWIMMERS (Part 2)
by Michael J. Stott
In 1993, psychologist Anders Ericsson wrote that greatness wasn’t born, but grown. Fifteen years later, author Malcolm Gladwell suggested that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a skill or field. Known by the term, “process,” swim coaches use that learning curve to improve the performance of their swimmers.

036 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: FREESTYLE TECHNIQUE FOR SPRINT AND DISTANCE (Part 2)
by Rod Havriluk
Optimal freestyle technique for sprint and distance is identical with respect to the arm motion throughout the stroke cycle, but the arm coordination is different. While a swimmer can swim a wide range of velocities with opposition coordination, a swimmer will only achieve his/her fastest velocity with superposition coordination.

040 SPECIAL SETS: TRAINING THE PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE—THEN AND NOW
by Michael J. Stott
In his lengthy career, Gregg Troy has mentored athletes of all ages and abilities, which has given him a unique perspective of how to prepare post-college grads for excellence at the international level.

042 Q&A WITH COACH JOE PLANE
by Michael J. Stott

044 HOW THEY TRAIN ANDREW IVERSON
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

035 DRYSIDE TRAINING: TIME TO GET STRONG…AGAIN!
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER

038 GOLDMINDS: JUST GO WITH THE FLOW
by Wayne Goldsmith
How can you control—and even master—your emotions? The answer is by learning to become a more resilient swimmer. Here’s how…

046 UP & COMERS: RICHARD POPLAWSKI
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS

010 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

011 DID YOU KNOW: 

ABOUT FREDERICK LANE?

047  GUTTERTALK

049 PARTING SHOT

 

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