INTRO: Richard Quick will begin his ninth year coaching the Women’s Team at Stanford University. This will be his 21st season overall at the collegiate athletic level. In the eight years he has been at Stanford, he has guided Stanford to six NCAA championships. Previously at the University of Texas Coach Quick’s team also won 11 national titles. He has received five NCAA Coach of the Year honors, three Pac-10 Coach of the Year Awards and one Southwest Conference Coach of the Year accolade. Some of Quick’s international highlights came in 1988, when as head coach of the national team, the U.S.A. brought home 17 medals at the Seoul Olympics. At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Quick served as an assistant coach, helping the U.S.A. team capture 27 medals. In 1984, as an assistant coach, Quick helped the U.S. win three gold medals. In 1996 Coach Quick is the head coach of the Women’s Olympic team. Quick and his wife, June, reside in Menlo Park with June’s children, Tiffany, Benjamin, Kathy and Michael. Coach Quick also has a daughter, a son, and two grandchildren!
Wow. Seven days of fantastic swimming and competing at the Olympic Games. Seven days, 15,000 people watching the preliminaries. 15,000 watching the finals. Over 200,000 people watching swimming in the home facility. The United States team racing well, doing an outstanding job of representing our country and our sport in the highest level of competition. It is an honor, deeply felt, to be here, having been associated with that team. It was an honor to coach your Olympic team.
I’d like some help. I have asked for help a lot over the last year. I would like the following coaches to stand: Peter Banks, coach of Olympic champion Brooke Bennett in the 800 meter freestyle; Murray Stephens, coach of Olympic champion Beth Botsford in the 100 backstroke and the 400 medley relay; Jonty Skinner, coach of Olympic champion Amy Van Dyken in the 50 meter free, a new American record, the 100 meter butterfly, the 400 freestyle relay, a new American record, and the 400 medley relay, a new American record; Skip Kenney, coach of Jeff Rouse, gold medal winner in the 100 backstroke, gold medal winner in the 400 medley relay with a new world record; Mark Schubert, coach of Brad Bridgewater, Olympic champion in the 200 meter backstroke; and John Urbanchek, coach of Olympic champion Tom Dolan in the 400 meter individual medley.
Also, Jill Sterkel, coach of silver medalist Whitney Hedgepath in the 100 and 200 meter backstroke, gold medalist in the 400 meter medley relay; Kevin Thornton, coach of Allison Wagner, silver medalist in the 400 individual medley; Dave Salo, coach of Amanda Beard, silver medalist in the 100 breaststroke with a new American record and silver medalist in the 200 meter breaststroke, and gold medalist in the 400 meter medley relay; John Urbanchek again, silver medalist Eric Namesnik in the 400 individual medley and silver medalist Tom Malchow in the 200 butterfly; Jonty Skinner again, silver medalist Tripp Schwenk in the 200 backstroke; Mike Bottom, coach of Gary Hall, silver medalist in the 50 and 100 meter freestyle, gold medalist in the 400 medley relay with a new world record and gold medal in the 400 freestyle relay; Ed Fraser and John Trembley, coaches of Jeremy Linn, silver medalist in the 100 breaststroke with a new American Record, gold medalist in the 400 medley relay. Mike Martino, coach of Angel Martino, bronze medalist in the 100 meter freestyle and the 100 meter butterfly and gold medalist in the 400 free relay and 400 medley relay.
Ladies and gentleman, in my opinion, these coaches are the heroes of our profession for the last quadrennial and for the year and for the Olympic Games in Atlanta. They did an outstanding job coaching people to the ultimate, winning medals in the Olympic Games. Congratulations to those coaches.
These coaches coached gold medalists in relays: (The United States won all 6 relays.) Jonty Skinner with Trippy Schwenk in the medley relay, David Fox in the 400 free relay, and John Olson in the 800 free relay and 400 free relay; Skip Kenney, coach of Kurt Grote, gold medalist in the 400 medley relay and Jeff Rouse in the 400 medley relay; David Marsh, coach of John Hargass, 400 meter medley relay, Scott Tucker 400 free relay; Eddie Reese, coach of Josh Davis, 3 Olympic gold medals in all the relays, medley, 400 and 800 free relays; John Tanner, coach of Brad Schumacher, gold medalist in the 400 and 800 free relay; Jack Simon, coach of Joe Hudepohl, gold medal in the 800 freestyle relay; Eddie Sinnott, coach of Ryan Berube in the 800 free relay; Ed Fraser and John Trembley, coaches of Jeremy Linn, gold medalist in the 400 medley relay. Jill Sterkel, coach of Whitney Hedgepath in the 400 medley relay; Murray Stevens, coach of Beth Botsford in the 400 medley relay; Dave Salo, coach of Amanda Beard in the 400 medley relay; Mark Schubert, coach of Kristine Quance, in the 400 meter medley relay; Mike Martino, coach of Angel Martino in the 400 medley and free relays; Jonty Skinner, coach of Amy Van Dyken in the 400 medley and free relays; Peter Malone, coach of Catherine Fox, gold medalist in the 400 free relay and the 400 medley relay; Frank Busch, coach of Melanie Valario, 400 free relay; Greg Troy, coach of Trina Jackson and Ashley Whitney in the 800 meter free relay; Cindy Galagher, coach of Annette Salmeen, gold medalist in the 800 free relay; Greg Phill, coach of Sheila Taromina, gold medalist in the 800 free relay; and John Collins, coach of Cristina Teuscher, gold medalist in the 800 free relay.
Also putting people on the Olympic team: Pat Hogan put on 13 year old Jilen Siroky; John Carroll put Peter Wright on the men’s team in the 1500 freestyle.
Congratulations to you all.
This team coached by these people won 13 gold medals, 11 silver, 2 bronze for a total of 26 medals. We won 13, the closest country to us was Russia with 4. In the total medal count we won 26. There was a tie for second place, Australia with 12 and Germany with 12. China, 1 gold medal — I’ll come back to that issue.
There is going to be a women’s slant to this report because I coached the women’s team. From time to time I may give you something that just pertains to the women. The women won 4 individual events and 3 relays. The men won 3 individual events and 3 relays. We had one world record, the men’s 400 medley relay. Jeff Rouse split 53.95, the third fastest ever. And now he owns 9 of the top 12 performances. Jeremy Linn had the second fastest split ever at 1:00.32 in the 100 breaststroke. Mark Henderson, 52.39, 5th fastest split ever in the 100 fly. I don’t have Gary Hall’s split on the medley but on the 400 free relay Hall split 47.45, the fastest split ever in relay swim history. [Editor’s note: Hall split 48.18 on the medley relay.]
There were six American records set in the meet: the men’s medley relay, Amy Van Dyken in the 50 freestyle, Amanda Beard in the 100 breaststroke at 1:08.04, the 400 freestyle relay — wow, what a split from Amy Van Dyken, 53.9 and Jenny Thompson anchored with 54.1, and Angel Martino and Catherine Fox, the 800 meter freestyle relay with Trina Jackson, Cristina Teuscher at 1:58 plus, Sheila Taromina and Jenny Thompson, (I call those middle legs, the 2nd leg, the inner anchor leg. Amy Van Dyken — inner anchor leg, Cristina Teuscher — inner anchor leg, fantastic job) and Jeremy Linn a new American record in the 100 breaststroke.
We had three one-two finishes. I don’t know of anything that is more exciting and more momentum building than having a one-two finish: the men’s 400 individual medley, the women’s 100 backstroke, and the men’s 200 backstroke.
16 of the 20 women on the team won a gold medal. 16 of the 20! There are those who might say, “Well those preliminary relays don’t count.” I disagree with that 100%. If you are on the volleyball team and you don’t play at all and the team wins the gold medal, you get that gold medal. Every swimmer that swam in the preliminaries earned their gold medal, they played a role.
17 of the 20 women on the team won a medal. 18 of the 20 women have won an Olympic medal in their careers.
There is a person I want to mention here because she didn’t win a medal. It was Whitney Metzler from North Baltimore, coached by Murray Stephens. The 400 individual medley for women is the first day of the meet. We were pretty sure that Angel and Amy where going to at least final in the 100 freestyle. But we all know of the controversy with which Whitney made the team. [Metzler made the team when first place trials qualifier Kristine Quance was disqualified.] Her preliminary swim, in my opinion, helped set the tone for our women’s Olympic team. She qualified 5th. She swam her lifetime best. She had a fantastic competitive effort. And it helped set the tone. You don’t have to be a medal winner to play a significant role in the success of the team. Whitney Metzler played that role.
Sixteen of the 24 men won Olympic gold medals. 18 of the 24 men medaled. It is the first time since 1984 that we have won the meet on all fronts. There are those — and I do not want to detract from the ’84 team — who might say that ’84 might be a little different because of the boycotting going on. If you want to go back a little farther, it was 1972 that we last won the men’s, the women’s, the combined, the gold medals, and the total medals.
We had 46.1 percent of the swimmers swim faster than they did at the trials. That is an improvement of over 10 percent from 1992. In 1988 we were 17.3 percent in that category.
What played a role in that? I think you have to consider that the home field advantage played a role. Those 15,000 people were fantastic for United States Swimming. I think you have to consider that our trials were not as fast, but don’t take credit away from the fact that these athletes improved their performances from the trials to the games. The games are a very difficult chore.
The women’s team’s improvement from trials to games ranked 4th behind Olympic teams in 1972, 1956, and 1984. On the men side, they ranked 6th behind teams in ’76, ’72, ’60, ’48, and ’52. 41 percent of the athletes swam lifetime best times. I think in that area we are going in the right direction.
On the women’s side, the team make up was as follows: there were 9 club swimmers; there were 6 post grads, 4 of those came from university based programs and 2 came from club based programs; there were 4 university based athletes; there was one resident team athlete. 15 coaches on the women’s side put people on the Olympic team.
[Editor’s note: In delivering the following paragraph, Coach Quick stepped aside from the podium and podium microphone to address the audience in his own voice.]
One of the things that is very important to do is to understand that the coaches I have named are the not the only coaches that have played a significant role in the development of these swimmers. Many of these swimmers were touched by people in this room and others. Every one of you played a role. Some of you played a role that you don’t even realize because you may not have coached them. You may have just said something that made a difference. I believe in a positive atmosphere. I believe it plays a significant role. I think it is imperative that we believe in our sport, believe in our athletes, believe in our coaches, and sell that to United States Swimming and sell that to the rest of the United States. It starts with ourselves. Many of you are so unselfish because you helped me and the other coaches that somehow, unjustly, get too much of the credit. You, as a body of professionals, have done a fantastic job and deserve to give yourself a hand.
How does all this happen? I would like to give credit to people who have really stepped forward. In my opinion, after the personal coaches, by far the most important person with regard to our success at the international level and the Olympic level goes to our national team director Dennis Pursley. Leadership starts at the top. He has been on the job for seven years. I think one of the most critical things that Dennis Pursley did was in Rome at the world championships where the Chinese won 13 of the 16 races, Dennis organized a petition and press conference to identify and bring to the public the drug issue and FINA’s lack of responsibility and the IOC’s lack of responsibility in those areas. He did that in the face of some advice from people at United States Swimming that that was not his role. I cannot think of one other thing that is more important than to provide fair competition and have the highest priority be athletes. You may not agree with Dennis Pursley all the time — I don’t — but that man’s priority is athletes and fair competition. He was willing to put his job on the line to do this. It made a huge difference in our efforts in Atlanta. Dennis has done a great job of educating all of us about what is needed to be successful and he is the one person in United States Swimming that totally focuses on excellence at the international level. It is an extremely important position.
Dennis was also supported extremely well by his assistant Brian Schrader and Candi MacConaugha, both of those people did unbelievable work.
It’s great to coach with somebody at the international level that you 100 percent trust, that you 100 percent believe is loyal to the team and head coach. Mark Schubert and I are fierce, fierce competitors at the collegiate level, but he was a fantastic coach on the Olympic staff. He had wonderful insight, wonderful experience. He did a great job for your Olympic team.
Greg Troy from the Bolles School did another outstanding job at the Olympic Games. He had two people on the Olympic team. You talk about a man with focus, he did the little things every day that make a big difference.
Murray Stephens has been doing it forever. He had a gold medalist in 1984. He put people on the Olympic team in 1992, another gold medalist. And now another gold medalist in this Olympics.
The staff of Mark Schubert, Gregg Troy, and Murray Stephens make my job relatively easy because we were all on the same page with the athletes being our number one priority.
It was an honor to be on the staff with the head men’s Olympic coach Skip Kenney. Skip is my best friend. What an incredible honor to be the co-head coach with Skip. He had the ability to bring a team together. Sometimes when there are interesting things going on with team chemistry, he can bring it together.
Eddie Reese is a very close friend. I was at the University of Texas with him for six years. I learned an enormous amount from Eddie and he did a great job advising all of us about things that would help us be successful at the Olympics.
John Urbanchek from the University of Michigan, the great Hungarian. The guy is a great coach, he stays with it, he is fun to be around, and he makes a difference in the staff.
David Marsh. On a personal note, I am extremely proud of David. He swam for me at Auburn University and my buttons are busting off my shirt — he put two people on the Olympic team and was on the Olympic staff.
Make no mistake about it, if a staff doesn’t have chemistry, and doesn’t have focus on the goals, I don’t care how great the athletes are, and we would sabotage things. Thanks to all those men for a great job as the Olympic coaching staff.
There was another coach that was at the meet, Jonty Skinner. Jonty was fantastic. He helped me immensely, especially with the relays. Before decisions were made on relays, who was going to swim and in what order, Jonty would show me a list of all the teams of all the countries that might challenge us with all their times, and their probable order and splits. All I did was say, “Ok, let’s go.” It was amazing how accurate he was. It allowed us to say to our teams, “We’re the best swimming team in this meet, in this relay. We don’t have to push the start in order to win the relay. We can do it in the pool.” That makes the athletes a lot more comfortable. Jonty, thanks for your role.
There are six people I am going to mention next that you cannot, or at least I cannot, understand why they take the jobs that they do. It is almost thankless. It seems like it is never ending. These people are tireless. They are our managers and trainers. Our three managers are either coaches in their own right or they are wives of coaches — which means she is really a coach. Susan Teeter was our head manager. What an incredibly detail oriented person. For 18 months she planned to the absolute detail what was needed for the team to be successful. It was incredible. Not only that, but she brought an attitude to the team of being able to listen, particularly to the women’s team, and particularly to the young athletes and they were having problems with the Olympic pressure. She was a fantastic head manager.
Joke Schubert was so incredibly efficient but with a relaxed manner that allowed everyone around her to be relaxed. You can be efficient sometimes and drive people nuts. Not Joke, just the opposite.
Jack Jackson was tireless and dedicated. He was concerned about the needs of others all the time, way before his own needs. Ladies and gentleman, Jack’s wife during that period of time was very sick. You would not have known it with his dedication to our Olympic team.
The trainers Skippy Matson, Jill Wells, and Emory Hill worked like dogs the whole time they were involved with the Olympic team and did it with a smile on their face. It is my opinion that when and athlete is lying down on the rubdown table getting a rubdown from athletic trainers it is one of the most critical moments. The trainer could be saying the wrong thing and really bother an athlete. These trainers knew what to do technically and knew what to do from a human standpoint. They were fantastic.
Dr. Craig Farrell was a tremendous aid helping all the time reminding us how to handle the drug issue, making sure that we didn’t take something inadvertently that might disqualify one of us. It might seem like a little thing but in today’s world it is huge. We absolutely trusted Craig with that issue.
Other people were there. Jim Wood is chairman of the Operations International Committee (OIC) and helped with the team. I think it is critical that the chairman of our OIC be at those meets with the athletes and coaches so that our political process is a reflection of what the athletes and coaches need to be successful. There are two other people I think played significant roles. Charlie Snyder and Matt Farrell did a great job of helping us manage the press. The press in the Olympic Games is huge. Those guys did and extraordinary job of helping us with that issue. In fact they were part of a strategy I think helped with the Olympic Games. In 1992 after our trials we allowed ourselves to be built up before we did anything in Barcelona to be the most dominant team ever assembled. So when something would go wrong, the press ate us up. This time the strategy was, and it was easy to do, to position us as the underdogs. The Chinese really helped us. Two years before in the world championships they won 13 out of 16 races. The strategy was, maybe in 1996 we could do something because we were in our home pool. When the ball started rolling, it was fantastic. I thank those guys for their role in that.
Amy Van Dyken won 4 gold medals, the most gold medals in one Olympiad by a U.S. woman in any sport in either the winter or summer games. Josh Davis won 3 gold medals, the most by an American male. Jenny Thompson won her fifth gold medal, all on relays. That tied Bonny Blair for the most gold medals by a U.S. female Olympian and is second to total medals in a career to Shirley Babashoff. Angel Martino at 29 years old won two gold medals and two bronze which brings her total to six.
On the women’s side we had three captains, Whitney Hedgepath, Angel Martino, and Janet Evans. They did a great job of giving, caring, and a great job of leadership. Janet Evans, what a star, what a great Olympic champion. I know she didn’t win any medals in this Olympics but you would not have known that by her interaction with her teammates to help them be successful. I thought that was significant.
I already mentioned Dennis and his role in Rome. There were other people who played a significant role in the drug war — and believe me, it is a war. John Leonard, the Executive Director of the American Swimming Coaches Association, his passion for this issue, his passion for fair competition for our athletes and all athletes over the world is unequaled and his work in that area is unequaled. I am not at liberty tell you about everything he has gone through in that area. It is serious. It is even somewhat dangerous. He’s been helped at the international level by two fantastic people who are our guests at this clinic, Cecil Colwin and Forbes Carlile. I can promise you these guys are not going to let go of that issue. I know that there are some people here that are somewhat tired of hearing about it, but it affects the very existence of our sport at the absolute grass root level. Upper middle class America will not let their children participate in a sport that is drug infested.
In 1976 the East Germans dominated the Olympic Games. The talk was that they did it with drugs and it has been proven since then. I gave a talk last spring to the U.S. Swimming doctors talking about this issue. One of those doctors reported to me after the talk that in 1976 he had the parents of two 12 year old girls call him up and asked him how they could get their daughters on steroids so they could be successful at the Olympic Games. I don’t think there is anybody in this room who wants to be associated with athletes doing that, but it is going to happen if we don’t continue, not asking, but demanding that the IOC, that FINA, that the USOC, that USS win this war. We have to have it.
Other people who have worked hard in this area: Peter Daland, Carol Zaleski, Ross Wales, Jim Woods — there is a guy who is so effective behind the scenes it is incredible — and Ray Essick.
Part of the psychology of the team started in Rome at the world championships. I called our women’s team together right after the meet and asked them to continue to work hard with high goals and not to sell themselves short and special things might happen in Atlanta. I promised them in return that we would do everything possible to provide the fairest competition possible. They bought it. Isn’t it a thrill to coach athletes that buy a philosophy and then work at it on a daily basis? I am extremely proud of those women.
I thought we did a fantastic job of racing highlighted by one one-hundredth of a second victory in the 50 meter freestyle by Amy Van Dyken and three one-hundredths of a second in the 100 meter butterfly. That’s racing. That’s inspirational to those of us and the athletes that were watching the competition. Our kids raced and raced for the wall.
I thought that our focus on improving our times from the trials to the games was critical. We didn’t talk too much about the number of medals we were going to win. We talked about improvement. We talked about racing. They bought the philosophy. I thought our meeting in Indianapolis right after the trials was critical. The message was sent there about the responsibility that we had to represent our country well in the Olympic Games in our own back yard pool. I thought it was a tremendous meeting and I know it was important.
Our training camp in Colorado Springs after trials was one of the things we did well. All of the personal coaches were invited to come. Most did. It really helped the communication between the Olympic staff and the personal coaches. We also did another thing that I think we need to do a good deal more of. At that training camp we trained together, men and women intermixed, racing each other. I believe it helped, not only our performances in Atlanta but our team chemistry going in. When you work together to get better, your chemistry improves. That began to happen in Colorado Springs at that training camp.
By the way, at that training camp, those workouts were primarily designed by Jonty Skinner and John Urbanchek and it make a huge difference.
I thought our meet in Phoenix, when we gathered together as a team, and allowed to race as the US Olympic team made a difference. We swam relays together. We were the Olympic team, prior to the Olympic Games and it started in Phoenix. I thought our team did a great job especially getting closer and supporting each other.
I was struck by the fact that most athletes and coaches had a plan, not only to make the Olympic team, but to improve from the trials to the games. That plan did not start at the trails. It was part of the plan from one to four years prior. I often remember what Peter Daland talked about. You plan for the Olympic trials for 3 and one half years and then in the last half year before the trials you plan to make the team. But if you plan to do well in the Olympic Games from the beginning, you are going to have a lot better chance of being successful in the games.
I asked Peter Malone about his plan for Catherine Fox for the Olympics. We had two, two hour meetings where he went over an incredible plan. You know what was great? Peter Malone sold his athlete that the Olympic staff could help her swim faster. We all are trying to coach our athletes to be independent. Can we put our egos enough to the side to say, “That Olympic staff can help you go faster.” Try to make it personal. “Mark Schubert knows more about turns than anybody I know. He can really help you in that area.” That doesn’t mean that you don’t prescribe the workouts. That doesn’t mean that those workouts aren’t followed. What it means is there is a confidence built up between the staff of the Olympic team, the personal coach, and the athlete. I think that was well done, but I think we can do better.
I thought the organization of going to Atlanta for about three days and processing and then going to Knoxville was a good idea. In Atlanta the first time we experienced the village. As a coaching staff we were worried because the athletes wanted to see everything there was to see in the village. There were a lot of distractions. The processing takes a long time. But those three days were ok for those distractions. Then we went to Knoxville where we had two 50 meter pools and we could use them anytime we wanted to during the day. We had a hotel situation where each athlete and coach had a room by themselves so that they could rest on their own schedule which I think was critical at that time. Knoxville was a time to focus and when we got away from the hype of the Olympic village that happened. Then we came back to Atlanta about 3 days before the games and got ready to race. Thanks to Susan Teeter and Dennis Pursley for working all that out.
There are some things that we might be able to improve upon. We have to be careful that we don’t miss the chance to learn. Sometimes you learn more in defeat than in victory. I have already talked about the relationship between personal coaches and Olympic athletes and the Olympic staff. I think we should consider trying to sell our athletes on more or longer training camps where people could race against each other. One of the problems with having an early trials is that athletes are not racing enough against people with the same intensity that they did going into trails. If we had more camps or longer camps I think working together we could improve our racing skills.
I think we should consider having rooms available outside the village for the night or two before a person races in the Olympic Games. Those were dorm rooms. In some cases the beds where way too short for athletes who are six foot six inches tall. They were crowded so that an athlete rolls over and whacks their elbow against a wall, wakes up their roommate and wakes up the person on the other side of the wall. I think that is something we could consider.
I think we have to entertain the idea that it is possible to have 100% improvement from the trial to the games. Most athletes and most people have a tendency to sell themselves short. We can reach 100%. You know someone will say that 80% would be great. Yes, but 81% would be better, 82% would be better still, but 100% is possible.
We do not have an ally in the IOC or FINA with regard to fair competition for the athletes. I don’t know what their priority list is except I can guarantee you one thing, the well-being of the athlete is absolutely at the bottom of the list. I had an occasion to talk to the mayor of the Olympic village several times. He told me how much of a battle it was to get things for the athletes in our Olympic village because the IOC is a lot more concerned about themselves and their political agenda than they are about the athletes well-being. Many of those leaders in the IOC stay in the very best hotels in the city. They have cars. They have drivers. They have per diem. They are the stars of the show in their minds. The IOC and FINA are in the same situation.
I worry about the USOC. I am absolutely convinced that we have had cover-ups of corruption and positive drug tests in several Olympics including Atlanta where the IOC and FINA turn their back. You would like to think that our USOC would be our advocate in this area, but ladies and gentleman, the dirtiest country, when you go through all the drug testing is the United States because of some other sports, not our sport. Our USOC has been part of cover-ups in my opinion. They are in bed with cheaters. They are in bed with the IOC and FINA. They don’t want anything to change. They are a lot more interested in sponsorships and money and political prestige than they are in the athletes.
Don’t underestimate the role that we — and you — can play in this area. We were told in Rome not to rock the boat. The only reason that the Olympic games in Atlanta was more fair, although not completely, was because the boat was rocked, and rocked, and rocked. Demand that we win this war and demand that the priority for these bodies be the athletes and fair competition. I cannot see any other reason for their existence.
Allow me to talk about an Olympic story, and it is not 1996, it is 1992. I am going to talk about Summer Sanders. As you know she made the Olympic team in 4 events. Prior to the Olympic Games the press built her up that she was going to win 4 events during the Olympic Games. She wasn’t even seeded first in 4 events going into the Olympic Games. She didn’t even win 4 events in our Olympic trials. But the press built her up. We made the mistake of letting that happen.
We got to the Olympic Games and on the first day of the meet is the 400 IM. Summer gets third, wins the bronze medal, and sets an American record. Afterwards, hordes of press jam microphones into her face, “What’s the matter Summer? You’re having a bad Olympics.” Summer’s answer, “I just swam my lifetime best time. I just set a new American record. I just won a bronze medal in the Olympic Games. I couldn’t be happier.” Two or three days later Summer raced in the 200 IM. Again, gets beat, wins a silver medal. Again the same press jamming microphones in her face, “Wow, you’re having a bad Olympics. What’s the matter?” Again, her answer, “I just swam my lifetime best time. I just set a new American record. I just won a silver medal in the Olympic Games. I couldn’t be happier.” By that time, this coach wanted to punch those press reporters in the face. I wanted to say to them, “Are you the second best reporter in the world today?” But to be honest with you, Summer wouldn’t let me do that.
Now we are up to the last day of the meet. Those of you who know Summer know that she’s a front runner. Normally she gets out in front and stays there and her message is, “If you can catch me you can win.” We swim the 200 fly. At the end of the first 50 she is third. At the end of the 100 she is still 3rd. At the 150 she is still third. In fact, with 15 meters to go she is still in 3rd place. 15 meters, that is about 10 seconds. With 10 seconds to go, that is a critical time in a race. Does she buy in to all that doubt planted in her mind by those reporters? She could have said, “Maybe I am having a bad Olympics. Maybe I am not going to win anything.” But at that critical moment she made a decision to keep competing and in the last few strokes she won the Olympic gold medal. At the critical moment she didn’t buy into negativism.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are at a critical moment in United States swimming. We are at a critical moment in world swimming. The door is wide open. In fact, in my opinion it is off the hinges. All we have to do is march through. Two thirds of the winning times in Atlanta were slower than 1992. This is the first time in Olympic history that we have seen that percentage. The door is open. Be prepared to walk through.
It is a critical time for athletes. It is a critical time coaches. It is a critical time for those people who represent us in the bodies that provide fair competition. Their political agenda cannot be more important than the athletes.
I want to say again. It was truly an honor to coach your Olympic team. I am forever humbled that I was given that honor and I thank you for your attention this morning.