The Joyful Foursome

Nathan Adrian, Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Held, and Anthony Ervin – Olympians in the men’s 100 free… A snapshot of collective pride and joy…

“Veterans, meet rookies. Rookies, meet veterans,” said Brendan Hansen in his post-awards interview.

There stood a pair of Olympic champions alongside a pair of wide-eyed Olympic rookies. All four beamed like there was no place on the planet they’d rather be. And there wasn’t. How could there be? These four gentlemen were the latest newly minted 2016 Olympians in Omaha and there was no hiding their bursting pride. They’d all taken long roads to this spot.

It was the destination all along. It was hard to tell who was happiest.

First came Caeleb Dressel, the next chosen one of American sprint kings who’s always appeared uncomfortable with the mantle of heir apparent. This is a man who followed one of the most stunning high school careers in history by quitting the sport for six months. The expectations got to him, there’s no way around it. But now those expectations were fulfilled. The weight was lifted from those tattooed shoulders.

“Olympian,” he told Hansen. “That’s a title that no one can ever take away from you.”

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Report: Stanford’s women swimmers knew to steer clear of Brock

Consider the source, it came from the tabloids, but is there any reason to doubt it? According to InTouch magazine, and picked up today by the New York Post, the women’s team at Stanford was well aware that there was something off about Brock Turner.

So much so that they sought to write a letter to the judge about Turner’s previous sketchy behavior.

That request was shut down, as school officials reportedly “pressured” the swimmers not to speak out. The New York Post, never one to pull punches, summed it up thusly with this headline: This looks really bad for Stanford

The InTouch story appears to be based on the comments of a “Stanford swim team insider”. Unclear if that means it’s a member of the team, a coach, a trainer, or just a non-swimming friend. Tabloids have been known to stretch the definition of ‘insider’, after all, but their reporting is often sound.

The quotes are pretty damning. Said the insider: “Brock’s arrest wasn’t surprising to anyone on the team. From the beginning, the women swimmers had found him to be very, very odd. Brock would make comments to women such as ‘I can see your t–s in that swimsuit.”

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“Stanford Swimmer”

Thanks to convicted rapist Brock Turner, the term “Stanford Swimmer” now carries the same connotation as “Duke Lacrosse Player”…

Before we begin, open another tab on your browser. Type in the term “Stanford swimmer” and see what comes up. It’s not the men’s team’s eight national titles, or 62 conference titles, or the 43 Olympians that have swum for the Cardinal. It has nothing to do with a tradition of excellence that is difficult to match in any collegiate sport, ever.

Instead, here’s what you’ll find: First, a mug shot of a scared and red-eyed kid, with shaggy hair and bright red lips. He looks hung over and hating life – and so he was. Hours earlier he’d been caught sexually assaulting a passed out girl behind a dumpster. Scroll down from that pic. Every single search result is about one person: Convicted rapist and lifetime registered sex offender, Brock Turner. There’s the new shameful face of one of the proudest programs ever to grace a swimming pool.

Turner was a freshman, barely half a year into his college career, when the assault occurred on the night of January 18th, 2015. He’d never represented Stanford in any competition of consequence. He was good, as is every kid who swims there, but he was hardly a stud. The fact that he was an athlete at all should not matter one bit.

But it does. Oh, does it ever. “Stanford swimmer” is in every headline. That’s the shorthand tag to his identity, and just like “Duke lacrosse player” it says it all. Both of those school-sport identifiers are code for the same thing: Spoiled, entitled white jock. Smug pricks that don’t think the rules apply. Jerks that can hide behind their athletic accomplishments and take what they want… Including the dignity of young women.

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Over the Northern Border

Once again, a large portion of the Canadian Olympic Team is made up of swimmers who do not train within its borders… With Team Canada on the rise, led by multiple Olympic medal prospects, a look at that forever touchy issue: When it comes to fulfilling potential in the pool, should they stay or should they go?

As usual the NCAA had a hand in picking another country’s Olympic team. Last week at the Canadian Olympic Trials in Toronto, nine U.S. universities – USC, Georgia, Cal, Missouri, Texas A&M, Minnesota, SMU, Ohio, St., and Indiana – helped qualify swimmers onto Team Canada. Georgia produced two Olympians, seniors Brittany MacLean and Chantal Van Landeghem, one of whom, MacLean, is arguably Canada’s top female medal hope.

For decades – in Canada and elsewhere – it’s been a proud, and disputed, tradition. NCAA coaches come calling anywhere in the world that there’s talent and fast times. Some programs embrace foreign athletes more than others; some (jingoistic?) coaches take an opposing view, claiming that it’s not for the NCAA (‘National’ referring to the American nationality) to help train future Olympic competitors from other countries. While that’s an unfortunate point of view, that ignores the cross-pollination and heightened competitive environments produced by a diverse cultural stew of athletes, it’s a view shared by many coaches on the other side of the border too.

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Bolles Nation

The three greatest swimmers in the NCAA – Ryan Murphy, Joseph Schooling, and Caeleb Dressel – all hail from the same place: Bolles. The single finest place on earth to develop champions in the pool…

It was impossible to choose. Any other year, any one among the three would have been the slam dunk unanimous pick, but this year all three gentlemen were flawless, and so it was only proper to bestow the honor on the trio. It wasn’t the first time they’ve shared center stage.

Ryan Murphy, Joseph Schooling, and Caeleb Dressel have known each other a long time, since they were young teens at Uible Pool on the Bolles School campus in Jacksonville, Florida. They’ve always been record breaking chosen-one studs, since they were kids. Murphy has been a backstroke prodigy since he was a boy. Schooling, a butterfly genius since he arrived from Singapore. And Dressel, well, he’s the sort of speed freak phenom that you could see turning pro in any number of sports.

Together, they’re now in the midst of compiling a collective collegiate resumé that has never been witnessed in the history of swimming.

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The Bravest Man in the NCAA

Two years ago, Schuyler Bailar joined Katie Ledecky on a NAG-record setting relay… Now he’s a member of the Harvard men’s swim team, and the first openly transgender swimmer in college history…

Consider your identity, how you might describe yourself in the most basic of ways. Name, age, gender, race, that should get things going. Then you may go on to where you’re from, where you live. Then your basic specs – physical appearance; sexual orientation; occupation; relationship and family status; maybe you’ll feel it’s necessary to mention your faith or political affiliation. What else? The driving passions of your life, perhaps. If you’re reading this, swimming will probably get a shout out.

Now try subtracting some those defining qualities. You’re not from New York, you’re from Milwaukee. You’re not six feet, you’re five-two. You’re a brewer, not a business owner. You’re not Catholic, you’re atheist. Are you still “you”? Of course not, you think. At least I did. And those are the easy items. Location, height, career, religion – either they’re subject to change or you can’t do a damn thing about them.

For Schuyler Bailar, and for many others struggling out there, the question of identity goes much deeper. Born a girl physically, Schuyler was always psychologically a boy. One of those core four identifiers – name, age, gender, and race – was hardly fixed. Since he was a kid, this is something he just knew. As much as you can be confident you know your age or race, Schuyler knew the soul-deep conflict between his exterior sex and his interior one.

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