Thank You Swimming: An Appreciation From An Initial Outsider

Voice For the Sport Tokyo Olympics pool

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A Voice For The Sport: Thank You

By John Lohn

I’ve been covering this sport for 20-plus years, most of that time for Swimming World. It’s been a pleasure, and I feel beyond fortunate to have attended four Olympic Games, multiple editions of the World Championships and numerous events at the national level. Not sure what the future holds, but I am excited to find out.

Truthfully, it has been an unlikely marriage.

I don’t come from a swimming background. Played a bunch of other sports in my younger years, and while my best friend competed for Suburban Swim Center in the Philadelphia area, my pool exposure was largely limited to backyards and hotels. Sometimes, though, certain doors open, and you don’t know what is on the other side unless you walk through.

Growing up, I knew what I wanted to do for a career. Sports journalism called my name at a young age, and as I started college at La Salle University, I was given the chance to write for a local newspaper, the Delaware County Daily Times. Eventually, I was assigned a winter sports beat. Probably not hard to figure out which one, right?

As I walked into Upper Darby High School to cover my first swim meet, I had no clue what to expect. Heck, I wore a sweater, which didn’t mesh well with the 80-degree temperature inside the natatorium. Times meant nothing to me. I didn’t know if the pool was measured in yards or meters. Oh, yes, there was much to learn.

When the last individual event of the meet was contested, even a novice like myself could figure out someone special was in the pool. That day in the late 1990s, Brendan Hansen touched first in the 100 yard breaststroke while representing Haverford High. His closest pursuer was about 15 yards back. In a matter of 57 seconds, I realized something: “John, you better learn quick.”

Of course, Brendan went on to deliver a Hall of Fame career, flourishing as a collegiate star at the University of Texas, as a six-time Olympic medalist and as a leader for Team USA.

Indeed, I did all I could to learn about the sport. I relied on coaches, most notably Tom Robinson of Radnor High School, officials and parents to educate me. Fairly quickly, I started to know my stuff. Times had meaning. And with Hansen starring, I pitched a feature on him to Swimming World. Initially rejected, I inquired again a few months later, and was given the chance to craft a feature about Hansen and several other rising breaststrokers, including Ed Moses and Kyle Salyards. The work was deemed quality enough for Editor Phil Whitten to continue to hand me assignments, and the rest—as they say—is history.

There is no doubt which moment is my favorite from my time covering this sport. Seeing Michael Phelps win his eighth gold medal inside the Water Cube at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing is something I will never forget. And watching Katie Ledecky define herself as the greatest female swimmer in history has been memorable, too.

Yet, through a wider lens, being involved in the sport has provided a deep appreciation for the athletes. The sacrifices made—from early-morning wakeups to missing out on social engagements—speak to the discipline and dedication of swimmers. Predominantly, swimmers are excellent students, pushing themselves as hard in the classroom as they do in the water. And most of the time, swimmers are high-character individuals, polite and supportive.

When I look back at how I came to establish a meaningful relationship with this amazing sport, “lucky” is the first word that comes to mind. It may be cliché, but I was certainly in the right place at the right time. Now, a little more than 20 years later, allow me to address the athletes, coaches, parents, officials, fans, meet organizers and support staff I have encountered with two simple words:

Thank you.

John Lohn
Editor-in-Chief
Swimming World Magazine

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Swimming World November 2021 - Ana Marcela Cunha - Female Open Water Swimmer of the Year - COVER [PHOTO BY KAREEM ELGAZZAR / USA TODAY SPORTS]

 

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FEATURES

012 2021 OPEN WATER SWIMMERS OF THE YEAR
by Dan D’Addona and David Rieder
Brazil’s Ana Marcela Cunha and Germany’s Florian Wellbrock both captured Olympic gold in Tokyo and repeated as the world’s elite open water swimmers in both 2019 and 2021.

014 2021 OPEN WATER HIGHLIGHTS
by Dan D’Addona
Although the Tokyo Olympic Games commanded the spotlight in 2021, there were many other open water highlights throughout the year.

018 ISHOF FEATURE: AQUATOTS MURDER CASE—THE KATHY TONGAY STORY (Part 2)
by Bruce Wigo
This is the second of a three-part story about “The Aquatots Murder Case” that first appeared in the October issue of Swimming World. It is about Kathy Tongay, a little girl whose father, Russell, had been training her almost from birth to be an expert diver and swimmer. When she died at the age of 5, her father was arrested for murdering his daughter.

022 PERHAPS OVERLOOKED…BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
by John Lohn
As we creep closer to signing off on this Olympic year, Swimming World offers a look at six athletes—all members of the International Swimming Hall of Fame—who hold a special place in history, even if they are not always at the forefront of the mind.

025 CONTINUING TO MAKE AN IMPACT
by David Rieder
Anthony Nesty’s accomplishments as a swimmer in the late 1980s and ’90s made him a national icon. But decades after that, he is still making a huge impact on the sport from a different vantage point—as a coach.

028 MENTAL PREP: BEFORE THE BEEP WITH DAVID CURTISS
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

030 NUTRITION: THE IMPORTANCE OF IRON—LOW MEANS SLOW!
by Dawn Weatherwax
Iron is a mineral that directly impacts performance.

COACHING

016 COACHING IN A CHANGING ENVIRONMENT (Part 1)
by Michael J. Stott
In the first of two articles, Swimming World explores how coaches and administrators coped with the recent unpleasantness of COVID-19.

036 SPECIAL SETS: AUDREY DERIVAUX—KILLER QUEEN
by Michael J. Stott
Young Audrey Derivaux of Jersey Wahoos has turned in comparable times to the 11-12 age group superstars who have excelled before her.

040 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: DISTRUST IN SWIMMING SCIENCE IS NOT A MYSTERY
by Rod Havriluk
The fact that general scientific information is routinely ignored provides some perspective about the difficulty in applying science to the sport of swimming. While a single technique element cannot guarantee success, American Lydia Jacoby’s Olympic victory suggests that using science can provide a competitive advantage.

042 SPECIAL SETS: DANIEL DIEHL—DEFINITELY DRIVEN
by Michael J. Stott
Daniel Diehl, 15, of the Cumberland YMCA Sea Otters is Maryland’s—and the nation’s—top-ranked male swimmer in the Class of 2024. In recent months, he has either broken or knocked on the door of several national age group records. In October, as the youngest male on the U.S. National Junior Team, he notched seven top 10 individual finishes at the FINA World Cup meets in Germany and Hungary.

044 Q&A WITH SWIM IRELAND’S NATIONAL PERFORMANCE DIRECTOR JON RUDD
by Michael J. Stott

045 HOW THEY TRAIN IRISH OLYMPIAN DARRAGH GREENE
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

039 DRYSIDE TRAINING: BACK TO BASICS (Part 2)
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER

047 | UP & COMERS: AVA BUHRMAN
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS & SPECIAL SECTIONS

007 THE OFFICIAL WORD

008 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

009 DID YOU KNOW: ABOUT “DO YOU KNOW THAT….”?

032 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

048 GUTTERTALK

049 PARTING SHOT

 

Swimming World is now partnered with the International Swimming Hall of Fame. To find out more, visit us at ishof.org

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