Historical Blueprint: American Youth Blossoming At An Opportune Time

Ryan Murphy of the United States by  Patrick B.. Kraemer
Ryan Murphy of the United States by Patrick B.. Kraemer

As an era in the sport prepares to come to an end, the United States can take solace in the fact that a strong crop of youthful men is ready to take over.

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aswimfan

Large, wealthy population with expansive swimming facilities and deep swimming history and expertise means that there will always be youth swimmers blossoming at opportune time.

Yozhik

Whatever you say, asf means only one thing – if there is a unique talanted boy or girl he/she most likely won’t be missed. The expensive facilities do not generate gifted swimmers. It comes from above 🙂 in this regard all nations are even. Look what is happening in tennis – Switzerland, Serbia, Spain. Where is America with its training facilities, richness, and long history of success.

beachmouse

While America has its share of showplace aquatic complexes, the best you can say about many, many more is that they are the correct size and depth for competitive use. Pretty much every long time swimmer has their story of the kind of scary place they used to train at, sometimes ending with ‘and then it got condemned’. Remember that Ian Crocker grew up in a state that had no 50 meter pools.

The big advantage is that there are a lot of pools, both seasonal and year round, which serve a large number of swimmers, and offer many different entry points into the sport. I can remember talking with a few Brits who said their nearby clubs wouldn’t take a 12 year old novice because they didn’t have lane space and it was too uncertain if that kid would ever turn into a high quality swimmer. Meanwhile in the USA and Australia, many a swimmer has overcame that alleged too late of a start to find a club to take them, and later national team glory.

So call it mass quantity leading to high quality.

aswimfan

Yozhik,

Switzerland, Serbia and Spain do not produce legendary tennis players at every opportune time.

I would compare USA with Western Europe. If you treat Western europe as one country, they also would produce youth swimmers at every opportune time.

And whatever you say, Yozhik, not all nations are even.

Yozhik

If to forget for a second about exceptionally unique phenomenon – Ledecky, then at what discipline Americans women are at leading positions now. Nowhere. Where are they deep? The likes of Ledecky are not the demonstration of quantity-quality dialectic. In my previous comment I meant that times when the naturally gifted swimmer cannot reveal all his talents because of absence or poor quality of training facilities is a history already. But it is possible in many countries that the child doesn’t even have a chance to find out that he/she is a gifted swimmer and USA is probably the last place where such things can happen. Australia is another example. I was surprised by the fact that Jodie Henry who won three Olympic gold medals with three world records began competitive swimming at age 14(!) That is where America and Australia excel.

Yozhik

Your last statement Aswimfan can lead us too far. America is the nation of immigrants mostly and in no way is genetically unique. Same as Australia. I am more than sure that God’s blessing is evenly spread among the people of all Nations.

aswimfan

Yozhik,

You are the one who said all nations are even.

I agree that God’s blessings fairly spread among the people of all Nations.

This does not mean that all nations are even in the potential of consistently producing legendary swimmers in opportune time.

USA and Australia may be similar in the composition of genetics of the population.
But it is not equal when it comes to the size of population. USA has around 320 millions population, Australia has around 23 millions.

Even if all other things being equal, the chances of USA producing legendary swimmers should be multiple times that of Australia’s.

aswimfan

Chalmers’ 200 free in 1:47 is impressive. This bodes well for his 100 in the Olympics trials.

I am glad the Australian age champs is being streamed via youtube, it’s easy and smooth. However, I wished the position of the overall camera was closer to the pool. It’s currently way up too high.

ThereaLuigi

Well, the talent can perhaps be spread evenly, but the cultural background, traditions, facilities and know-how to make it emerge and nurture it are not.

And yes, population size has also its relevance.

The USA will be ahead in the medal count for a very long time.

Yozhik

Well if to calculate the number of great swimmers per capita then it is possible that America will be somewhere at the bottom of this list and the likes of Sweeden, Netherlands, Lithuania are at the very top. I would rather recommend to refrain of using arguments like the size of population. It can be very misleading.

aswimfan

Of course the size of population is relevant. To deny that is simply to deny reality.

As I proposed before:
Take western europe as a whole (with more population than USA but with less swimming tradition and less wealthy), and you will get similar swimming achievements as USA’s.

Australia has similar swimming tradition/coaching/facilities than USA and with similar if somewhat less wealth than USA but has maybe more active swimmers per population. If you ignore population, Australia should be ahead of if not similar in swimming achievements to USA, right? But no, not even close.

So what made Australia is far behind USA when it comes to total Olympics swimming medals?
Of course the most prominent factor is that Australia has multiple less population.

Dave Nicholson

I too am excited about some of this young talent but I’m not going to count these particular chickens until at least Omaha. LCM vs SCY is obviously one major factor. Also, the pressures of true international swimming will be a new test for a lot of these athletes.

Regarding the advantage that the US has in swimming, I think it’s a mixed picture. On one hand, the US is relatively rich, has 319MM people, lots of facilities and the unique conveyor belt that is the NCAA. These are undeniably huge advantages. On the other hand, uniquely among developed nations the US offers exactly zero governmental support for Olympic athletes. Compare this to the relatively cosseted existence of top British, Chinese and Aussie swimmers, for example. USS and the USOC offers some support to the very pinnacle of the sport but even there it’s meager. To be even a world class post grad swimmer in the US is to live off your parents in a dingy apartment, driving a rust bucket and eating peanut butter sandwiches. It’s a sacrifice. This is even more true in other Olympic sports, take for example the millions thrown at British track cycling superstars vs. the US athletes working as waiters full time… These advantages that athletes from other countries have over US athletes can’t be ignored.

aswimfan

Dave,

I would like to know how much more money the Brits, Chinese, Aussie, French top swimmers make in comparison to US top swimmers.

Because I don’t think the picture you are presenting above is accurate.

I just don’t see Nathan Adrian, Anthony Earvin, Nathalie Coughlin, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Matt Grevers, Kevin Cordes etc waiting tables in restaurant now or anytime soon.

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