Scandal in United States swimming

I remember when I became interested in train swimming, Several decades ago, I observed with great discouragement the attempts to cheat or alter the conformation of the national teams, some of them being unusual.

A club coach with an outstanding women’s team and fluid contacts with the leadership, proposed select women for a Pan American, with marks easier than those of men. On another occasion, a veteran leader ranted about the money it cost to pay for airfare and accommodation, to an excellent swimmer who ran the 50 and 100 meters.

“For less than a minute of racing, it’s going to cost us more than four thousand dollars,” he vociferated very convinced of his ignorance.

However, on this occasion, swimming in the United States -historically the best in the world- was the one that with great swimmers and excellent technicians for more than a century, has produced an unprecedented scandal in the recent nationals held in Indianapolis, and the selective ones for the Fukuoka World Cup, Japan.

As never before, a suspicion about fairness in the selection process was installed, with the incredible team removal of 52 swimmers from the exceptional sprinter and multiple world and Olympic champion Michael Andrew.

Andrew is a special case, he has always been trained by his father Peter in a pool owned by the family, under the system of ultra training speed USRPT (Ultra-Short Race Pace Training), and always far from the control and protection of the Federation and the powerful United States Association of Technicians.

Andrew is one of the few swimmers in history to stand out worldwide in the speed tests in three different styles: crawl, breast and butterfly.

It is not the first time that the swimmer and his father are in the eye of the storm, the beginning was two years ago, when refused to receive the covid vaccine to travel to an event abroad, and also to a certain extent because of the very low-volume training sessions he does, which total just over 3,000 meters. I mean, less than 30% of what other world figures swim in those same specialties, but yes, with very high intensity.

The coach, the swimmer and their training system have been questioned by a good part of the more traditional technicians. Michael was cut from the team despite winning the 50 fly, and being second in the 50 breaststroke and third in the 50 free.

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The Swimming Federation, together with the powerful American Association of Technicians, which is the one that controls the sports policy in swimming eliminated him from the team, arguing the implementation of a new regulation starting this year, which favors the formation of the relay and the priority of the Olympic events over the others. Hence was displaced by Baylor Nelson and Henry McFadden, who were fifth and sixth in the 200 freestyle and will integrate the 4×200 freestyle relay as substitutes, running only the qualifiers to qualify the team.

It seems not very serious and even nebulous that the regulation change occurred a few weeks ago, and it sounds ridiculous for the United States to go to a World Cup with a Selection regulation for the Olympic Games, those with a different testing schedule.

The same “purists” that today install the new regulation are those that in 2008 altered the order of the traditional program of tests of the nationals, who classified for Beijing 2008, so that Michael Phelps could also run the 100 free and have a chance to win his eight medals.

However, it seems that the decision will not come free to the Federation. Several voices have been raised criticizing the measure, such as that of the trainer Brett Hawke, one of the greatest specialists in speed. He said that “Michael is a star with a exemplary behavior, that instead of being imitated is despised”.

For my part, I see that things that I thought existed only in other latitudes and among unprofessional local characters in every sense of the word, are possible. even in the world elite.

Andrew will be the only swimmer who won a test in the selective for the World Cup who will not participate in the tournament, while swimmers who achieved just a sixth place in a test. Too weird.

That is, something happened, an unusual error, a ferocious internship among technicians or something worse linked to political issues, and that if the United States is not the wide favorite for this World Cup, it could strongly compromise their chances.

* Former National Sports Director.

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