[Introduction by Bill Rose] My name is Bill Rose and I’ve been given the opportunity to introduce to you our next speaker. He’ll be talking on the title of Open Water Hits The Big Time. And that’s an exciting thing for a lot of us. Sid Cassidy, I termed him arguably Mr. Open Water of USA Swimming, There are lots of reasons and you’ll understand in just 30 seconds or less. One, he was a great competitor in the 70s and actually was a professional for a while in Open Water. Spent time lifeguarding and promoting events in the great shore of Atlantic City. He has been a coach for many, many years and continues to be a coach in his real life. And also was the USA Open Water National Coach in the early 90s. In the late 90s he was convinced to help with the administration of Open Water swimming, became a member of the FINA Open Water Technical Committee and over the years has moved up to the title of FINA Technical Open Water Chairman. There is no more powerful position in Open Water in the world. Open Water as you may, or may not know, was added to the Beijing event in 2005. There were lots and lots of political things going on to be able to get that done. Sid Cassidy through his tireless and consistent effort was a mainstay. Open Water in my estimation is here to stay. And it’s here to stay because of people like Sid Cassidy.
[Coach Sid Cassidy] Thank you for being here. I’m pretty thrilled about open water. You heard Coach Bowman talk last night about innovation, open-mindedness, using your creativity when you are coaching. I’ve actually been lucky enough, I actually worked with Coach Bowman when he was Bobby Bowman, when he was our 200 butterfly swimmer at Florida State and then in his first job he coached the with us. I’ve watched him develop. He’s got a great mind and he works very hard. But that one topic he was talking about last night, innovation.
In Open Water we have always had creative free thinkers. And it goes way back. There’s a history. When you think open water, everybody always thinks the English Channel, right? It was 1875 when Capitan Matthew Webb swam breaststroke across the English Channel. It took him almost a full day it was 22 hours and 45 minutes. He created a lot of interest. During those next 50 years, hundreds of people tried to get across the Channel, and only five made it. But it did get included in the 1896 Olympics. There were four swimming events in the first modern day Olympics. There were two 100 meter swims, there was a 500 meter swim, and there was a 1200 meter swim. All four of those events were done in the Bay, open water, at Athens Greece.
So we’ve been in the Olympics before. As a matter of fact, four years later in 1900, there were seven Olympic swimming events. The two longest were a 4,000 meter swim and a 1,000 meter swim. Those two races you actually had to do preliminaries, well they called them semifinals. They broke everybody into semis. The winner from each heat got to go, and then they took some faster times. But it was pretty interesting. And as those years go by, it was really a young lady from America who put open water swimming, marathon swimming on the map when she did her English Channel crossing. August 6, 1926, Gertrude Erdele, they called herTrudy, at least President Calvin Coolidge did. She was incredible. She swam and broke the men’s record. She was the sixth person to cross the English Channel. Five men had done it in fifty years. When she went across, she broke the record by over two hours. She came back and was one of the stars of American culture. They gave her a ticker tape parade that still to this day, in New York City, was the largest ticker tape parade that was ever given for anybody. Over two million people turned out for it. That kind of generated an interest. There was a guy who saw that ticker tape parade, his name was William Wrigley. If you’ve been to Wrigley Field, it’s the same family. Wrigley’s Chewing Gum, that’s the guy.
He had a little bit of interest in this real estate off southern California called Catalina Island. Many of you know that swim. And he thought “Geez, if I could get Gertrude Erdele to swim it…”. He invited her, and he put up some money. But she was already into show business, and not that interested, so his $10,000 offer to her, he turned into a $25,000 winner-take-all, and they brought over a hundred swimmers from around the world. The best swimmers from countries that were swimming distance in the pool, the best English Channel swimmers. It was an incredible, incredible show. And it did what he wanted. It created a lot of interest and actually people started chewing Wrigley Gum a lot more at that time.
That spurred the Canadian National Exhibition Swims, which were again the Wrigley family. This picture here, you can’t see it very well, but there’s 232,000 spectators basically watching the same marathon type swimming that we just saw in Beijing. This was up in Toronto, the Wrigley Marathons. And it was a golden age. It really was an incredible time. And then of course, the Depression came and we had the World Wars and that type of thing. But who would have ever thought that we would have Olympic Marathon Swimming? Back in those days maybe, but logic was, wow, it’s really long; it’s English Channel type swimming.
Well there were some people. I’ve got a short list really because Coach Rose gave me a lot of credit for people that really love what they’re doing. These folks on the list, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the guy who preceded me on the FINA committee, Dale Petronic. I love what I’m doing. I met Dale, he’s from New Jersey, when I walked onto my very first USAS convention. They had a thing called “Long Distance Swimming”. And I went in and went “what’s this all about?” and I met Penny Dean and Dale Petronic. Penny Dean as you know was an English Channel record holder in her own right. She broke the men’s record. She and Dale got the ball rolling on USA Swimming. And a couple other guys, Rick Walker, Dave Thomas, and Denny Ryder, those are guys who made a big difference in the USA. These Americans believed when a lot of people laughed at us and said “oh, you’ll never get open water swimming in the Olympics. Who’s going to watch that?” Well, seventy different countries watched it this year live on TV and it was pretty exciting.
But I’m very thankful for all the people that have put their time in. This gentleman here(slide) is the president of FINA, his name is Mustafa LaFouie. And a lot of people have asked me over the last couple of years, “marathon swimming, how did it get into the Olympic games?” Our president had a lot to do with it. He was in the right place at the right time. He guided us. And I’ve learned a lot over my last dozen years as an international committee member. Those of you that go to the United States Aquatic Sports and you know how the committees work; it’s a little different internationally. We have these technical committees, and we pushed and pushed to get this done. This gentleman here (slide), Dennis Miller, from Fiji, great guy. He was one of the early promoters who could help make it happen. Australia’s Chris Gusden. Chris Gusden was a swimmer, a coach, an administrator, who lived and breathed, he still does live and breathe, he was a great guy in Australia. But Chris, Dennis Miller and myself, we were newcomers to this Technical Swimming Committee at FINA. And we really came in there; Chris had a role in Australia much like I did in the United States in the early ‘90s. We really wanted to get an Olympic event. And when our administrators asked us to get on the committee that was international and do it, we were both a little slow to but they made a big, big difference. And I really have to thank them both. Chris Gusden was the guy who came up with the plan to put the Olympic model right into the Beijing, what became the Beijing Rowing course. So we were very lucky at that time. And there have been some other people that have supported and believed about marathon swimming all along.
Swimming World magazine I put here because when I was a young boy I read swimming world, cover to cover. And I still do, if Brent Rootmiller is here because he’s been one of the great guys who’s supported us. And before him, Phillip Whitten and even way back to the days where there was a guy named Dennis Mattuch from Chicago area. And Dennis was a columnist for Swimming World in the 60s and 70s. He had a column called Marathon Swimming. I was 11, 12, 13 years old and reading this “Wow, John Kinsella is swimming,” and I knew John Kinsella because he set the American record. He was really the first one to bring speed swimming; they called it, on this world professional marathon swimming federation. It was a group of crazies that went around the world, and would swim in the Nile River, in Canada, down in South America and really be thrilled and excited about these races that could be anywhere from 25K to 88K. But knowing that places like Swimming World were a venue, a media outlet for us back in the 70s to read about this. And I know that for me personally, it was one of the reasons that I really got excited and eventually joined those guys on the tour.
The International Swimming Hall of Fame, outside of providing some of these great photos for me here today, for many, many years, and this goes back Buck Dawsen and of course Bob Dunkle and Sam Freize and now Bruce Whygo. They have always been a great friend to open water swimming, to marathon swimming. Not just chronicling all the history, but even putting events. Bruce runs a great race, the Rough Water Swim, that we have every winter. They have the 5K and the mile, that used to be the Ocean Mile for all the colleges. And we owe them a great deal of gratitude. They keep a separate Hall of Fame within the Hall of Fame, and they offer certificates of Merit, and they recognize people that belong in the Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, something like 237 people they’ve recognized in the last several dozen years.
So these are some of the entities and some of the people that I would think we need to thank when people say, “how’d you get in? Oh you did it.” I didn’t do it all by myself. I was very loud. My role by getting put on this FINA committee was probably because I’d put in twenty years of really trying to do my best to say “let’s get up there, let’s hit the big time.”
In 1985 FINA, which is the international governing body for all aquatic sports, formed a commission for open water swimming. The next year they had their first World Cup, a race in Lake Windermere. They went on and had a couple other races through the years, Lake Geneva, Lake Windermere, and were pretty lucky.
We took a team, Penny Dean was our head coach, and we went to Lake Windermere with some great swimmers like Chad Hindabe, who broke the English Channel record, Jay Wilkinson, Martha Yon, Karen Burton, D Bowma and myself. The six of us had gone over as a training trip and said we’re going to swim the English Channel. This was all Penny’s idea. I said “well geez, I’m really about 20 years removed from being competitive…” but they needed a sixth person for the really. So I said I’d go on the English Channel relay. I actually got in pretty good shape and started swimming again. I wasn’t even near as fast as the real swimmers.
I was the 6th person to swim, and if you’ve ever seen the English Channel, it rolls, it’s big, and it was really foggy that day. I was really excited because when I was going in, you go fastest to slowest, and everybody swims for one hour. When I went in you were still shrouded in fog. By the time I’m swimming, the sun starts to burn it all off and it’s getting sunnier. By the time I get out you can see France. I was the sixth hour; the record was just over seven hours. We ended up, Jay was our lead off guy, he touched France in 14 minutes. 6 hours and 14 minutes, we smashed the record. It still holds today.
But when I got back on the boat, I was pretty winded; I was ready for a break. They told me, we got good news and bad news. I said, “Well, what’s the good news?” They said that we were going to break the record. I said, “Ok, what can be bad?” They said that they’d decided we’re going to go back and do a double. I had just put everything into that one hour, but we ended up going back and it was a great experience. I would encourage you, if you ever get a chance to go to Dover, or do the English Channel, even as part of a relay, it’s a fantastic experience. And it’s the grand daddy.
But we’ve grown so much since then. That trip to England we had our first 25K that was sponsored by FINA, and the World Championships in Perth. It was two lengths, 12.5 kilometers down, 12.5 back. It started and finished at a casino. It was a great big party boat. I remember Ray Essep, who was sitting out there having his orange juice and watching the swimmers. He told me after the race that it was a fantastic type of thing that all the VIPs could watch and have their time to talk, and could go see how the swimmers were doing. It was an incredible event but we knew pretty early on as national team coaches that we wanted more than just the long marathon.
So we added. Erica Rose was actually FINA’s first 5K Champion. There was in 1996, the FINA World Championship in Perth, Australia, where they had swimming, diving water polo, the whole thing. Now we added not just the 25K, we put in a 5K. It was a great event. The thing about that race, we were all very young, and I was just being named to the committee. The course had about three turns in it all the way through the marina. Then you got out into the sea, then you swam back.
On the way back Erica, who was a great pool swimmer, she really started this trend of pool swimmers moving to 5K, was one of the best in our nation. She was so far ahead of the girls, because she took off at the half way mark. She made a turn and a bunch of the girls in the pack didn’t see that and they were fighting each other and completely missed the turn that was on the last straight away. They started going off and guys on the boats are yelling. It was a pack of about fifteen girls fighting each other. We’re all going, “now they’re 20, 25, 30, 35…”. They had to be 75 meters off line to where they almost miss the arm of the marina that they needed to go down. A couple of girls at the back kind of picked their heads up and looked and one by one they started heading back. So it was only maybe 400 or 500 meters to sprint, but the girls in second, third and fourth got hammered. It was tough. I remember Megan Ryder, Denny’s daughter, swam that day. She made a beeline, moved from all the way through the pack and ended up fourth or fifth, just missing the medals.
It was that kind of thing, that kind of story that was incredible. It was exciting but we knew there was more. We knew that we had to do more. USA Swimming stepped up. Sam Free stepped up and Hawaii stepped up. And we had a great event in 2000. The FINA World Championship of 2000 was the first time that we added the 10K swim. We had a 5K, we had a 10K, we had a 25K. This was our venue. Who could not love it? There was Waikiki; we swam through a live reef. The surfers were over on one side, we went down and back. It was just a fantastic time. I have to credit the committee, the FINA Technical Committee, because there was a lot of pressure on us to just switch the 5K out for the 10K. Our chairman at the time was Alan Clarkson and he said, “Why don’t we do them all? Why don’t we ask if we can have a 5, 10 and 25?” To his credit and the credit of the committee, that’s what happened.
I was thrilled to be there, be in Hawaii. That was only 8 years ago. Now we have the FINA World Championships in Open Water every year since 2000. Every other year it’s combined and it’s with the disciplines of water polo, diving and swimming. We have it as a stand-alone event in the odd numbered years.
How do you qualify for the Olympic Team? This year it was a pretty intricate process. We worked on it; we spent a lot of time trying to get the very best swimmers in the world there. As a Technical Committee that was important to us. Most of the best swimmers in the world were there. The International Olympic Committee had a different vision. They wanted one swimmer to represent each federation. They gave us 25 slots and said no more than one swimmer from each country.
We knew that some of the bigger countries, like us, or Germany or Australia, had some of the very best swimmers and could very easily send two, just like we could get gold and silver in the pool. We wanted to have that opportunity. So we went back and forth and eventually came out with a plan that we really didn’t think was perfect, but they accepted it. If a country were to place two swimmers in the top 10 in the world, at the Seville World Championships, then they could send both swimmers to the Olympic Games for the first marathon swim. If they did not place two in the top 10, no matter where their second swimmer finished, they would have no other chance.
That really ended up that in the men’s race we only had Russia with two entries and in the women’s race we had Brazil and Great Britain as the only two countries. So we had 24 and 23 different federations represented, which made IOC happy. The races were great, but we knew we left some of the best kids at home. That was a little difficult for us.
We started our process as Americans in Ft. Myers. We ran a selection meet and the people in Ft. Myers are incredible. If you’ve never been there and get a chance to do an open water race, go down there. They set this course up (projected slide) in one of the most exclusive developments that is maybe 10-12 years old. Every home on that lake is probably $2-3 million or more. They have one alligator, they moved him for us. So we really didn’t have any problems at all with the venue. It was a beautiful time. We ran that in October. Mark Warkentin, he won that race, it was a fantastic finish for him. It was his first step to making the Olympic Team.
We had the opportunity, one day to run the men’s race, one day to run the women’s race, where we selected the top 2 Americans that we were going to Seville and give them the first crack at making the Olympic Team. Our dream was that first and second in the men’s and first and second in the women’s would go on and qualify and we’d have 4 kids in the Olympic Games. Micha Burden from Mission Viejo won the women’s race and she had an outstanding swim. They both went over as time went on, to Seville.
At the Seville World Championships we actually had a team of racers, the 25K, the 10K and the 5K. FINA had decided because the 10K was so important. It was the world selection event; we were going to reverse the order. Instead of doing 5,10,25 we’ll put the 10K first. It was also the second time we used the diving pontoon. You actually took off from a platform instead of pushing off from a rope. This was done mostly for media purposes and excitement and I feel really good about it because it created both. The swimmers feel good about it as they’re learning to do this because they have their own space and it really gives them more of a feel like it’s a real event, like it’s more like a pool event.
So this was the race. The big challenge in Seville was we had over 70 men and over 60 women. Outside of just building a dock big enough, it was a tremendous challenge for our referees. Because we do have a lot of rules that need to be followed. And with the bigger crowd, they’re all fighting with Olympic spots and everything on the line. After the top 10, the next 5 finishers would qualify; depending on what continent they came from. So the fastest swimmer from your continent, if they finished 11th place or 18th place or 23rd place, could qualify. That held the IOC’s vision of getting all the worlds compliance with their idea they wanted to have as much diversity, as many nations as possible.
Seville was the Guadalquivir River, it was a great rowing venue, the people there were excellent, it was a great World Championship. Christine Jennings met one of her Australian friends in a very close and crowded rush to the first turn, but this is the type of thing that isn’t unusual for us, and it’s something that when you go out in a race you kind of get used to. The feeding stations in this race in Seville was a little different. They put it in the middle of the river and if you see (slide) the lane lines, they’ve got a couple on one side then the other. The swimmers, as they came, would get fed on one side and then when they turned around the other way, they’d come on the other side. All the coaches would go to the other side. It was right in the middle of the course. It worked out pretty well. It was a challenge. We’ve always got a lot of different venues so it keeps it exciting.
After Seville we picked up 15 swimmers, the top ten and the 5 continental reps. We had one last chance. It was the Beijing Qualifying Events. In those events, anyone who had no representation was eligible to compete. In our women’s event we did not get any of the girls in the top 10 in Seville and we did not pick up the continental spot. A girl from Venezuela finished just ahead of our girls. So at that point we had an opportunity to send a couple of girls. Coach Schubert made a decision and sent the two girls he felt were going to be his best opportunities to compete there. For the boys, Mark Warkentin had finished; he got 8th at the Seville Championships. Chip Peterson just missed it. Chip was a couple of seconds away, about a body length and a half, and he had a great swim for as sick as he was during that time. He just missed out. One of the stories, it was sad for us in America, because we felt he’s a world champion in his own right. He had won the 10K up in Montreal a couple years earlier and been one of our best. But it was a flaw in the system for getting all the best athletes there. So we didn’t have any men that were swimming in Beijing at the Qualifiers.
The women’s race was pretty important to us. I know that the people that are detractors say it’s just a big pool when I’m talking about marathon swimming being held in a rowing venue. It was pretty flat for the girls for the race the first day. But there’s still a lot of strategy and a lot of challenge. This is the start of the women’s (slide) on the first day in Beijing on May 31st. One day later this is the same platform starting the men (slide). What that is, is that there’s a wave of whitecaps all over the venue. This place is just a fantastic place to run a race. But the wind was blowing and it was very much an open water race. Our referees were challenged, definitely challenged. Chloe won the gold medal. Chloe Sutton did a great job in this race, from Mission Viejo. She got first place and as such earned herself a spot to head to the Olympic Games.
So now we had one man and one woman, Mark Warkentin and Chloe Sutton. We were heading off to the Olympics, the Olympic Marathon swims. It sounds good!
If any of you remember back in the old days, if you swam when I swam, back in the 70s, even the late 60s. I actually started in ‘65. Our coach, Bob Mattson was a great innovative thinker. Wilmington Aquatic Club. He took us to a rock quarry in Avondale, PA, to train long course. I was 12, 13, 14 years old, I didn’t know any better. We’d go out to this rock quarry, it’s 220 meters long and we’re doing one length sprints. I was like wow, this is pretty cool.
At the far end they had a little diving board, which really looked like a different color against all the trees. There was one tree that was a little taller. I used to line up the diving board with the tree that was about 100 meters behind it and use that as a geometry marker. If I can line these two things up I’d swim straight.
We had a guy on our team, Steve Gregg; he was the silver medalist in the ‘76 games, great freestyler too. Almost as good as his buddy Dan Harrigan, his teammate down here. But Steve could swim good freestyle. He was all over the place in that rock quarry swimming 200 meters straight. I was a year behind Steve. I was a good swimmer, I went to the trials, I didn’t go to the Olympics, but I was coming up. And he held all the 14 and under records. There I was, I swam straight, swam straight, and Steve would be all over here and over here and get to the other end and I could see him getting really frustrated. Mattson’s giving us all these single repeats, these all out 220s. And every time I’m swimming straight and I’m beating him. After about the 6th or 7th one he started cursing and smashing the water, “he’s cheating, he’s cheating…” and Bob just started laughing because there’s no way you can cheat in a one length swim.
It was really my introduction. I said, “ I love this stuff.” I wanted to get involved in open water. It’s fun, there’s a lot of strategy to it.
Bob Mattson, he spoke at ASCA. For any of you that go online, if you want to hear a great talk, I listened to Bob Bowman last night, he started talking about some of the same things that I heard form Bob Mattson’s 1975 talk called “Conflicts In Coaching”. I encourage you, go online, download that one. You will laugh and you will learn. It’s a great speech from Hollywood, FL, 1975. I learned a lot from Bob as a mentor, and I know that my dream to see this event into the Olympics was really something that he fueled. I would not be a swim coach today if it wasn’t for him.
I was lucky enough to be a part of it and work with the Chinese people. They are incredibly detailed. It is tough to get some things done because if you want to get something done – this guy has got to go to his supervisor who goes to his supervisor – goes to his supervisor – by the time it goes up about 7 runs and comes back down – you know – can’t we just – can we please just move this feeding platform and it was a challenge that way, but they were great. I must say that I was so impressed with the local committee – the people that we dealt with were tremendously professional and we had to share a venue and it was – it is ………….. Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Park. We asked them a couple of years ago if they would add marathon swimming to the title, but they kind of balked at it, but we call it a marathon swim park, but what they did was once the rowing group was out in the Olympics then we only had two days where we could really get in – in the morning early for a couple of hours and then canoeing – they still had all their lanes in, but they worked with us. The International Canoe Federation – they were great – very good hosts to us in our first Olympics.
It was tough sharing this venue, but you will see and I know you probably can’t read all that in the back, but I know that we will make this available – the start – am I off? Oh – there we are – okay – the start was right here – if you can see my red dot – right in front of the VIP section and then we came up and boom – 200 meters later we are making a left turn and then 110 meters making another left turn – then it would go this long lengthwise – was about 1100 meters – all the fans were over on this side – you will see – I have some photos and a little amateur video to show you here shortly, but the did four loops of this – 2500 meters and it was really – it was a great swim. This is the women’s start – right after they dove in and you see a lot of splashing and crashing and thrashing – we see that. This was the men’s start – 25 was a lot easier to handle than 78. 25 – we were very worried about making those two left hand turns so quickly, but there was a very strong feeling that we needed to start the race right in front of the media and right in front of the television – right in front of the VIP’s and actually it worked out fine.
The athletes at this level – they knew it was going to be a little hairy getting going, but it worked out fine. This was a course – the race course here and you will see the – well actually – I have got a short little video I think I am going to run here if I can – lets see – alright – now Guy – I need to click it to run it – lets do this – okay – what you are seeing here – this is the men’s race in the morning – before they ran – the guys are cleaning all the extra seaweed and stuff – that wasn’t seaweed – it was lake-weed, but this is a man-made venue – as you pan right – there is the first turn. Now I am standing up in the VIP section here and just panning around with my camera, but you know – it was a great set-up – I mean – it really was. This was the starting pontoon – right after they dove off that and started heading in this direction where the camera is going – they broke that apart and it became a feeding pontoon – they moved it. Omega puts this rig together and they take it to all our World Championships – the line there – the lane line is for the last length when they come down the chute – we call it – they will come in. that is after their last and it is about 1100 meters straight away so there was a lot of excitement you know – building back and you are not going to see it great right here, but way down there you can see a couple of others – we called them sausage buoys.
Now, this is the morning of the men’s swim and this is what goes on in a ready room. That is Mark Workington right there kind of getting loosened up and the USA staff – you know – you can see his coach is going to be getting his drinks ready here – John Dousellier – they did a great job. Team USA was incredible – how much time and effort and I have to give Coach Schubert and Coach Rose and all the guys that were a part of this – Paul Asmuth, just a fantastic group of guy that put that together, but the difference is – you are in the ready room for a couple of hours with your competitors – as you pan over here – you know and there are those guys from Australia and they are pretty tough – Ky Hurst had a great race there too, but you are in the ready room with a lot of your competitors – rather than just for a couple of minutes like at the pool – you are there most of the morning and it was challenging I know for all of them just to be – so emotional to be in the very first Olympic games – that is Mohammed Eszoniti from Egypt – he has certainly been one of the better swimmers on the World Cup tour and we had so many volunteers from the local organizing committee – we had over 70 there the first day. We said – we can’t have so many volunteers. They are clogging up, but they did help us a great deal. We used stencils to mark the swimmers instead of a magic marker.
These stencils – they went on their hands – they went on their shoulders and they went on their backs and they actually were very clear. When you see a lot of the pictures from the games you will notice that you know – that it was very clear. It was very good four judges as well and when we put them on the shoulders there – on the arm – we usually arranged the numbers in a vertical manner so that it is a little easier to see from the boat. Now, this is from that same tent as you walked out. The ready-room was actually right across a little bridge. I am looking back at where the starting area is and across the way – again this is early. There are no fans there yet.
This is one of these sausage buoys I am talking about. These are great. They are bent like a banana or like a sausage and they really helped them go around. Okay – now this is a little bit of the men’s race and again – this is amateur video – this is during the first loop. You can see – I am going to give you some links at the end where you can see the NBC. You are not allowed to download it and we cannot upload it her so I am just giving you the amateur stuff, but it is actually some pretty good angles.
This is the men’s loop – this is what they are putting up with this big boom and the microphone and the camera hanging over – in there – the guy with the shaved head is Mark Workington – I believe he was #18 – I don’t know what happened to the camera man there, but you see the men’s race and I got a little clip from the women’s race too and I think I have got the women’s race – I put some sound on there because the Chinese girls were doing very well, but the crowd was pretty loud and this was a rainy day – the first two loops they did in the rain. The men’s race spread out – one of the referee boats is on the inside – two of the referee boats in the ……………. A guy named David Davies from Great Britain set a very fast early pace. He was really going for it and the men really didn’t let him go. Now this is their second loop around and they are coming into the turn – you see – there is another big camera – they had cameras everywhere. They had one hanging up ………… from wires. It was just incredible, but when they come around here – they do a little bit more bumping when they go around the turns. Now, you can see the pace has picked up a little bit.
This is, I believe, on the last loop for the men and that is Davies up there in the lead and then in the second tier Thomas Lurz from Germany is closest on the left with the blue cap – you can see a lot of the guys did wear the suits – in this third tier you see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 – Mark Workington and the eventual winner from the Netherlands are both in that group – they are kind of banging it out – back and forth. I am sure that the thought process – when you are going through this and you can talk to the coaches and talk to the swimmers – you get into a zone – when you are racing like that, but now they know that the medals are on the line and to think yeah – hey – this is something pretty special – the very first Olympic marathon swim and anybody in that top group of 30 – I am sorry – not 30 – in that top group of 13 – 15 – 18 – any one of those first four tiers – those guys are still in it for a medal – coming into the last 5-600 meters you know – it becomes a mad dash and you will see – if you have watched it and when you go to nbcolympics.com you can still watch the entire race or watch the highlights and if you watch the entire race you can zoom to places where this guy who has the big long boom and you get his camera you know – instead of mine here, but coming down – the is the far stretch – the big guy with the shaved head is the eventual Gold medal winner – he is right next to Mark Workington – actually I think Ky Hurst is in between them – the guy from Australia and they are running about 5th – 6th – 7th – right after that first pack of 4 right now and it is right there and there is Mark over there and Davies.
One of the things that we learned – Great Britain in 1997 put a plan together. They started getting their very best age group distance swimmers to do open water – they started putting them in clinics. They started taking them all over Europe to do Junior National trips. They swam – the taught – they did all kinds of races. This us the last bottom loop so they had 110 meters and then they had to come up for the last straight away. You can see how the tempo has really improved, but this kid Davies was just incredible and he – I mean – he swam in the finals of the 1500. actually Great Britain had six – there were six medals available – they won three of them and all three of them were in either the finals or the semi-finals of the distance events in the pool so it is pretty obvious that you know – they are at the elite level of pool swimming and crossing over into this two hour event for the women and an hour and 50 or so for the guys. But, one of the things here and in the men’s race – it doesn’t quite give you – you know – where we are – we are trying to stay behind. This is the very last turn and then they go into that long straight-away and you will see the speed coming right out.
That is Davies, Leurs and then you know – right behind him there is still – any one of these guy – the Gold medalist is not even in the first 5 or 6 there – that is Mark with the shaved head – just going behind the boat right now. So, it really you know – it really became a challenge for the referees just to make sure. Now – here you see Davies pull off to the left. Thomas Leurs sees him and says hey – wait a minute – he is trying to make a break – I am going over there and I am going to get with him and he just goes – I am going to go right over here and I don’t want him going any where and it is so much strategy like that and the guys that are still – you know – okay – well lets all come back together. At that point – is right around here where the Russian guy had his second yellow card and he had been a World Champion himself and you know – it happens – you get frustrated. You run over somebody – you bump them – you give them a little bit of business and it is not – it is unfortunate because – and here – at this point you think Davies is going to win the thing, but we had to pull our boat up. You have to watch nbc.com to get the real finish, but you can see down in the very bottom – the last guy in that group right there – that is Martin Vanderweden and he is the one that goes ahead and wins that.
Let’s see – in the women’s race – it was a sunny day and it was so loud because the Chinese girls were right there on to of everything and lets see – there you go – the women’s pack – you can notice it is a little bit more congested – there were two girls basically leading – both the Great Britain girls so that is their strategy from the beginning and you know – we had – Chloie did a good job. In the men’s race Mark Workington finished 8th. It was a fantastic swim for him. He was only 21 seconds off of the gold medal and I know we were all so proud of him. Chloie had a good race too. We were proud of her. She had a great opportunity to be there. She didn’t have the best race that I know she had wanted. She was with the leaders – kind of on this first loop, but then fell off a little bit at the end, but you can get a pretty good idea of how they are going to go around. Now in the women’s race – you see that truck over there?
you see that truck over there? That is a big camera hanging on the back, okay? And the coaches tend to ride bicycles around and this is a feed – the feeding station – I was surprised at the women – this is their first opportunity to feed, but not that many took it. Now, the two feeding stations were a little closer than we normally put them. They were only about 6-700 meters apart – normally we like to have them 1200 meters apart so some of the girls said, well I am only going to feed once per loop – or at least the first loop and they didn’t come in, but you see all the different little flags they hang off of there – to identify it when you are swimming? It is kind of like a pit stop. That is Chloie up there feeding – in the far side – right in there right now. She came in and got a feed and you have got to do it quickly and they have rules. You are not allowed to hang on the pole. You are not allowed to put any support down there. This board was great. This big board that they had – now they are coming into the – this is probably the main feeding station – right in front of the VIP section and the girls – they went at it – they went at it pretty hard as well. They generally – when they come into the feeding station they will have some type of nutritional drink that they like.
A lot of the coaches will have also maybe some goo or some gel and a lot of times they will put that right in their pack. I mean – they will put a little pack right in their suit so it is kind of a preference. There is Coach Rose. He is getting his swimmer to go – yeah – but it is also the place where there is a lot of collisions and there can be a lot of problems at the feeding station and there are rules about the impedance – if the referee feels that the trainer has intentionally put the pole in someone’s way or knocked somebody – they can get a yellow card. The swimmer – as a matter of fact – in this race – a swimmer got a yellow card for actions by one of the trainers on the pontoon so it is really a team event. You have to work in concert with your teacher. Now – the girls at the lead – they led the whole way. The girl in the silver cap is third – that is Larissa Elchanko and she is knows – I mean – she has been doing this for 5 years now and she has never lost a 5K or a 10K at the world level and she basically hangs in and just has an incredible sprint at the end, but you know – at this point – you know – we were figuring – okay – we had a good idea of who you know – the medalists were going to be.
The fourth girl in that group of four is Angela Mauer with the dark cap on and as they are coming down this last leg – you see that extra kick in there? That was when she kind of was grabbing Cassie Patton from Great Britain. She grabbed her legs a little bit and Cassie didn’t like that went for a kick. Now the referee has to make a call. This is coming down to the very end and you see – they stayed inside this time. They are inside the chute – silver cap over there – I know it is hard to see – Larissa Elchanko – she does it again. She is an incredible athlete and the Brit girl has got second and third and the Olympics were underway. Okay – what am I missing here? Maybe somebody knows – what button do I push for full view? Thanks – did it come? Got it – thanks. This is Martin Vanderweeden – incredible story – he won the Gold medal because of his experience – his perseverance and if you haven’t read the stories – in 2001 he lost half of his body weight – leukemia – and was given a grim outlook whether he would even survive – forget swimming in an elite World Championship level again. He came back. He has got one of the greatest demeanors in the sport. He has been one of the first to take advantage of the FINA rule you see – the Netherlands’ three letter country code is NED. Mark Workington had USA stenciled on his head. Because the water was so warm several of the men elected to do that rather than wear a cap and that was one of the rules we put in four or five years ago and funny story – when Martin won – you know – of course all the media wanted to talk to him and everybody and I just went over and gave him a handshake because I was just so thrilled for him and his story and when we were in the van heading home – my daughter – who is 9 years old – I was so blessed to be able to bring my wife and two kids to the Olympic Games – she said – oh – I saw dad on television.
I was trying to stay out of the closed circuit and stay out, but you know – and my wife Karen said, well – when did you see him – she said after the race – when he went over to congratulate Ned – she thought that was his name and he just put it on his head – that was great – it was a precious moment. This is Martin at the finish and what he did – he kept a straight line all the way in. David Davies – it was his race and when you look at it on NBC – when you pull it up – you will see Davies kind of waver a little bit at the end. They took him off on a stretcher. He was delirious – he had to get an IV. To his credit, he came back. He had some great comments for the press and just a great competitor. Lorissa – still undefeated and now Olympic champion. So, it was an incredible experience. I just have a couple of more slides to show you and this is somewhat of a challenge to all of you and to those you work with, but it is important. You know, where do we go from here?
We are in the Olympic Games – what is going to happen next year? Over the next three years? Over the next eight years? Well, next year – internationally speaking – FINA is going to hold the largest ever World Cup Series that they have and USA Swimming is going to sponsor – not one, but two – 10K races. The 12th of July will be in Long Beach, California and the 7th of September in Manhattan and those swims are going to be great – I promise you and it is a chance for good swimmers who are interested in doing 10K’s and getting experience internationally to swim against the best 10K swimmers in the world because they will be coming to all of these races. Every race – it is a lot. It is more than we really want and we are going to – over the next several years – probably cut down on that, but you see – Brazil, New Zealand, Mexico, Portugal, Canada, Bulgaria, France, Denmark – it is just – China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United ………………….. It is going to be a full schedule, but if you have athletes that you think need to be involved – you need to contact USA swimming about that. You get a hold of Coach Schubert and say – how do I get entered into Long Beach? How do I get entered in the Manhattan?
And I am so thrilled that these organizers and USA Swimming have decided once again to host. It has been about 8 years. Those of you that remember the 10 K for the USA that we ran in Atlantic City and that was the one that was born out of the around the island swim there. Those are the reasons that we were able to get this Olympic event started and I am so thankful for everybody that took part. Long Beach is going to be in a rowing basin, but it is going to be – believe me – big open water and they haven’t confirmed the exact course, but that is the plan. They do a lot of rowing events in there. The New York race – as it stands now – is going to circle the Statue of Liberty seven times. Now, I haven’t seen that done – I know it is going to be a great visual, but I trust both of these organizers that they are going to make it happen. How do you get involved if you don’t have a really elite swimmer, but you want to learn more about open water swimming? We have got a guy who served on our staff – his name is Steve Munotoniz. He is here today. He made an effort to get in here from California – he has two sites that you can get all the information you will ever need for open water swimming. 10Kswim.com is a little bit more of an educational site and that one is – you know – it has got the basics down. You will want to read through that. 10Kswimmer.com is a great living site that every day it is changing and every day you can jump on there and read what is happening – whether it is down in Australia or Fiji or over in Europe and Steve does a great job for us of keeping you informed. From that site he lists over 225 swims in the United States that you can get information on.
There are several swims this weekend. There is a big one in Chicago – Big Shoulders – La Hoya Rough Water – one of the largest swims in this country is going on this weekend in Southern California. You can find a race. You can get your kids involved. I will be challenging the USA Swimming leadership in a couple of weeks down in Atlanta to make the same kind of plan that Great Britain made in 1997 – to get the very best pool swimmers into marathon swimming – into open water swimming – the challenge is yours – not mine. I have been doing it. I have put my heart and soul into it for many, many years and I love doing it and I will keep doing it. I will be glad to talk to any of you about it – whether it is formal questions that I am ready for now or whether it is individually. If it is by email I am real easy to find – St. Andrew’s School – you can get me at standrews.net – sid.cassiday. I think all of us together can build marathon swimming and USA Swimmers to be the best in the world, but it is going to take work you know?
We got an 8 and we got a 22nd the first Olympic Games – we were there. We want to do better. We want some medals – we want some World Championships – it is going to be up to all of you to step up. Get those kids identified. Get them in the water. Find a swim. Have some fun. Does anybody have any questions? Yes? Good question – is it guaranteed the Olympics will be in 2012? There are no guarantees yet. The International Olympic Committee will decide on their own in their next meetings. Early indications are that it was very well received – over 70 countries broadcast it live and since Great Britain had three out of the six medals and we are going to London – there is a lot of pressure from that organizing committee to keep marathon swimming in. Once it is in now – it should be in for good – at least that is the plan and actually – interestingly enough – down the line I wouldn’t be surprised if it continues to grow that they add a 5K event. They may not add more swimmers because I know the International Olympic Committee is definitely trying to bring down the numbers and anything can happen – there is no guarantee, but we are hopeful that we will be in London and beyond.
Yes? Well, you know, I did a presentation – the question is about Natalie DuTua from South Africa and I am glad you brought her up. Natalie is an inspiration. She swam as an amputee in this race and I know that she is not in any of our estimation – people in the sport – a handicapped swimmer. She is an incredible competitor. She got 4th place in Seville – just off the medal stand. She qualified, not with the you know – the African bonus you know – somebody that finished out of the top 10 – she legitimately made it. She didn’t have a great race and she did finish I think around 17th or 18th – but an inspiration to all and I have a feeling that we will be seeing more of Natalie DuTua in marathon swimming. So, thanks for bringing her up. She is very special.
Yes? You know – before I saw the light and got out of collegiate swimming we were working on a collegiate program that would allow – kind of like cross-country as a separate event to track to give swimming another sport. To give them a more – opportunity to train and I know that several of the teams in the Southeast – Don Gambril used to host a big race and I believe several of those teams still get together – Alabama and I know that there are some loose – Clemson had one where they had like an invitational and they would come in and score it like a cross-country meet. to my knowledge, no formal movement going on to have collegiate open water swimming, but I know that I would be glad to help out if anybody is getting behind it. We will do what we can.
Yes? Good question about the land-locked states and being a guy who always grew up around the shore – I tend to forget to about you guys – it is not on purpose. I know Dave Thomas did an incredible job when he was in Iowa and we had our National Championships up there in the quad-cities area. There are lakes everywhere and I know that the central zone in particular does a great job with youngsters doing open water events. I know that you may not have a beach, but you still got a river – you got a reservoir – you got a lake – we will help you find a place. You can have a race you know – almost anywhere. Yes? Thank you. Are there any other questions,
Yes? The water temperature was 27 – I am sorry – it equated to – the girl’s race was 28 and the boy’s was 27 centigrade so it was in the low 80’s. we were worried that it was going to be 85 – 86 – 87, but it actually wasn’t as bad. We thought if it went over 30 – it was going to be – now – that was in the morning when we took it and definitely in the girl’s race – at least – it warmed up more by the end of the race because they had a hot sun beating on them, but the clouds provided good cover and the water was fresh. It is recycled – you know – it was actually pumped and cleaned through a filtration system. When they built this facility you know – they knew that the guys – one corner of it is all for the guys that do kayaking go under water so it is like their drinking water – it really was – you know – pretty healthy.
Yes? The lower temperature right now is 16 degrees – is the FINA rule – centigrade so – you know – you are talking about 58 – 57 – right around there. There has been – you know – a lot of discussion through the years about that, but those are the rules as they stand right now. What suit races are not permitted in FINA right now – unless there is an exception granted – not in a FINA World Cup or World Championships do we allow wet suits, but there certainly are some of the countries like the Netherlands – like Great Britain that are very interested in trying to do something triathlons do and say – well if it is this temperature you can you know – you have to wear a wet suit. If it is this temperature – you can wear one if you like and if it is this temperature – you can’t wear one at all.
There are some liabilities that go along with that as well and then there are some realities that – the purity of having swimming without wet suits is the endeavor of FINA, but we have all seen what the new body suits have done this year and we are not naïve to that and if you noticed – you know – several of the men even were wearing the long suits which surprised us. I think a lot of them wore the lets, but because we expected the water to be pretty warm we didn’t think we would see a lot of body suits, now I don’t mean down to the wrist, but you know – all the way up over the shoulders, but it was interesting and I am sure the swim suit – the realities will continue to develop and we are looking forward to the challenge of dealing with the new and technologies that swimming faces.
Any other questions? Yes? Okay – the question is about body types and techniques – most of the successful men were pretty tall and long – I mean – Martin Vanderweten is 6 foot 7 and you know – the guys that are doing well – they are – you know – they are not built like me, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t be and I think we have seen a trend towards that in the girls as well, but I am a true believer that it is in the heart – you know – that we have had a lot of people that were not great big large swimmers do well. We do and the coaches generally work with their swimmers in a lot of the same ways as the pool swimming, but there are some techniques. Certainly if you are going into the rough water – you know – there is a high elbow type of technique that we have all learned as life guards you know? I had a great teacher – Tim Broderick – teach me how to swim in the ocean and if it is a choppy day like on the rowing course even – you know – they tended to lift up a little bit more, but generally – it is just like training a 1500 swimmer – just going a little further.
Any other questions? Yes? Absolutely – in my opinion – it is a great idea. You add three days between the 1500 – that was David Davies who got the silver medal in the open water. He actually got the bronze medal or the silver medal in the last Olympic games four years ago in the 1500 and he was not one that was eagerly seeking open water, but was one that was earmarked by his Federation – you are going to do open water and that is why they got three of the six medals so I think it is a great idea. If you want to win more medals – we need to get the fastest swimmers from the pool to not just do it once – because you can’t just do it once. You know – I am sure that Grant Hackett could have been a great open water swimmer this year if he had taken the time and put the effort in to train a few more of those international races. His first international race was where he got disqualified, but the disqualification really didn’t matter. He was out of it – he wasn’t going to finish top 10. When it came time – now he probably wasn’t rested like some of the other guys, but he had never been in a race like they were in where there was a lot of jostling and bumping and once you learn to do that – Mark Workington was a great example. His first couple of races internationally – he got so frustrated and – but through the years developed a real type of personality that learns how to deal with that so I think yes – the best pool swimmers could do it. They do have to have a mentality that allows them to do it and it can be learned – it can be great fun. There are some that you know – don’t want to learn it and that is fine too and I respect them for that, but I would love to see more of our best American kids that are in the pool doing open water.
Okay – again – I really want to thank you all very much for your attention and good luck.