Swimming for Six Seconds of Happiness

Photo Courtesy: Melissa Wolf

By Melissa Wolf, Swimming World College Intern.

If winning only brings seconds of happiness, then maybe it is time to change the focus. Many great age-group swimmers struggle tremendously when they find that the pressure of winning outweighs the joy of competing.

Photo Courtesy: Melissa Wolf

Winning Isn’t Everything

“I wish everyone was successful enough to realize winning isn’t everything,” Sam Bork, age 14, says while sitting at a burger joint eating fries, a chocolate shake and a big cheeseburger. Six months ago, Bork would not have touched this meal, nor would he stay up late or miss a practice. Bork had given his life and all his freedom to the black line at the bottom of the pool.

Bork started swimming competitively at the age of five and was not an instant success. He was good, but not great yet. By age 12, he had his first taste of accomplishment: he was nationally ranked, set Wisconsin State records, broke Mexican national records and got his name in print. When he talks about this time, he says, “I was still just swimming, just racing. Nothing had changed in my mind.” But that wasn’t the case for long. Things started to change around him; his family soon put more pressure on him to keep winning because they saw what his success could bring.

Racing for Fun

Photo Courtesy: Sam Bork

Bork was not motivated by money or fame; he simply liked to win: “It’s the race – the adrenaline – that’s what makes it fun!” The burnout he experienced later happened due to the external pressures that replaced the fun. The pressure to improve and swim well came from his parents, who were banking on him getting a scholarship. Swimming had become less about being fun and more about taking care of others feelings and aspirations. How many swimmers would echo what Bork so clearly voiced?

Bork had never missed a practice: not because he wanted to be there, but because he felt he would let his family down if he didn’t go. He is a people-pleaser by nature and is just now discovering how he can be manipulated by feelings of guilt. When he was younger, there were practices he intentionally swam sloppily just so he’d get asked to leave. He recalled one time in third grade when he faked an ankle injury so he could stay home and play LEGOs with his older brother. He was too scared to tell his family he didn’t want to practice that day.

Bork’s story mirrors so many stories of young swimmers. When asked what he felt when he won or achieved a new cut, Bork said: “I was happy for about six seconds after my race; then, I realized nothing is going to change in my life because I won a race.” This perspective comes from a 14-year-old boy who truly was hoping for something to change: for some of the pressure to be released.

In the year before the burnout, he swam all over the country meeting Jason Lezak, Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Lochte, Misty Hyman and more. He attended the National Diversity Select Camp at the OTC and exceeded any expectations anyone had for him. However, none of that motivated him or made him happy, so he quit. One day, he walked off at practice and said he’d never return. His family was crushed, his teammates were bewildered and his coach carried the burden of knowing he was hurting and confused.

The Comeback Kid

Photo Courtesy: William Hayon

His purposeful return came on his terms. He recalls, “It was rough getting back in after nine weeks off. I was nervous to see how I would do, but my new practice mentality was different and it was fun again.” By the time state entries were due, Bork chose to swim a full meet including all relays. He explained, “I knew best times and records were unlikely due to my lack of practice, but I wanted to win so badly.” For a kid who says winning isn’t everything he sure likes to win. Maybe others see it a different way – he doesn’t like to win; he just hates to lose. He is known by his team as a true competitor and is all-in, all of the time. Bork’s response to the question, “If winning isn’t everything, then what is?” would make any parent or coach proud:

At the end of the day, you need to be happy and proud of the person you are. I want to be great at something I do, but I can’t keep it up – being great every day. I’ve decided that I can be great and place second; and that makes me proud.

Bork wears a bracelet that says Difficult Right. He says, “It reminds me that doing the right thing is going to be difficult. It was hard to come back to swimming, but it was the right decision.”

Not many people walk away when they are at the top. Bork did and he returned a better person and swimmer who still has great potential as long as the sport stays fun. As a coach, parent or swimmer, it is easy to focus on times and tangible achievements; however, one of the greatest accomplishments of any swimmer is when they find their value in who they are and not just what they accomplish in the pool.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff. 

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Georgetown Secures Verbal from Crimson Aquatics’ Ali Robertson

Photo Courtesy: Ali Robertson

Agon is the proud sponsor of all high school coverage (recruiting, results, state championships, etc.) on SwimmingWorld.com. For more information about Agon, visit their website AgonSwim.com.

To report a college commitment, email HS@swimmingworld.com. Join Swimming World’s Watch List

NEW COMMIT: Georgetown University has picked up a verbal commitment from IMer Ali Robertson of Newton, Mass. She will join Erica Hjelle as a member of the class of 2023.

Robertson is a Winter Nationals qualifier swimming for Crimson Aquatics under head coach Susan Trainer. She finaled in the 200m IM and 200m breast at Mesa TYR Pro Swim Series and notched a new best time in the latter. She made six finals appearances at Ithaca Speedo Sectionals in March and won the 200 IM at the New England Age Group Championships.

Her breakout meet occurred at the 2017 Ohio Futures last summer. There, she finished fourth in the 200m IM en route to achieving her first Nationals cut. She raced at Juniors East in December and recorded a lifetime best in the 200 breast and earned the bronze in the 400 IM at New England Senior Championships.

She told Swimming World:

“I’m so excited to announce my verbal commitment to swim and study at Georgetown University! Thank you so much to my coaches, Matt and Susan, and to my parents, teammates, and friends for their support and encouragement.”

Her best times include:

  • 200 IM – 2:04.42
  • 400 IM – 4:21.84
  • 50 free – 24.91
  • 100 free – 52.37
  • 200 free – 1:52.13
  • 200 fly – 2:08.49
  • 200 breast – 2:21.41

Robertson will make a big splash for the Hoyas when she arrives on campus for the 2019-20 season. Her best 400 IM time would’ve ranked first on Georgetown’s lineup last season and both her IMs would’ve scored in the A-final of the 2018 Big East Championships.

If you have a commitment to share, please send a photo and quote via email to  hs@swimmingworld.com

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CIF-Central Record Holder Abby Samansky Gives Verbal to Tennessee

Photo Courtesy: Abigail Samansky

Agon is the proud sponsor of all high school coverage (recruiting, results, state championships, etc.) on SwimmingWorld.com. For more information about Agon, visit their website AgonSwim.com.

To report a college commitment, email HS@swimmingworld.com. Join Swimming World’s Watch List

NEW COMMIT: Fresno, Calif.’s Abby Samansky has verbally declared her intention on joining the Lady Vols, making the move to the University of Tennessee as a member of the class of 2023.

Samansky does her club swimming with Clovis Swim Club and is a U.S. Open qualifier in her signature event, the 200 free. She recorded a pair of best times at Junior Nationals this past summer and had a strong showing at the Hawaiian Senior LCM Championships. At NCSA Junior Nationals in March, she finaled in two events with a lifetime best in the 100 free.

Samansky has had an incredible career so far with Clovis West High School. As a junior, she finished fourth in the 200 free and sixth in the 100 free at the CIF State Championship. At the CIF Central Section meet a week prior, Samansky became the first CIF Central swimmer to crack the 50-second barrier in the 100 free and shattered the old 200 free record while leading her team to two relay titles.

She told Swimming World:

“I’m super excited to announce my commitment to the University of Tennessee!  I’m so thankful for the support of my friends and family who helped me to get where I am today. So stoked to have found a home at Tennessee, go Vols!”

Her best times include:

  • 50 free – 23.46
  • 100 free – 49.79
  • 200 free – 1:47.69
  • 500 free – 4:55.91
  • 100 back – 56.29

Samansky is a valuable pickup for Tennessee and will contribute across all distances when she suits up for the 2019-20 season. She would’ve scored in the C-final of the 200 free at the 2018 SEC Championships and will have one season of overlap with Stanza Moseley who placed third in the event at SECs. Under head coach Matt Kredich, Tennessee finished third in the team standings at least season’s conference meet.

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Three-Time Minnesota Section 5AA Champ Sam Kennedy Gives Gophers In-State Verbal

Photo Courtesy: Sam Kennedy

Agon is the proud sponsor of all high school coverage (recruiting, results, state championships, etc.) on SwimmingWorld.com. For more information about Agon, visit their website AgonSwim.com.

To report a college commitment, email HS@swimmingworld.com. Join Swimming World’s Watch List

NEW COMMIT: Maple Grove, Minn. native Sam Kennedy has declared his intention to stay in-state and join the University of Minnesota as a member of the class of 2023.

Kennedy has achieved a Winter Juniors cut in the 100 back while swimming for Life Time Swim Team. He capped off his long course season as a three-time finalist at the Minnesota Senior LCM Championships and recorded six personal bests. He also competed at the NCSA Championships in March and swam a pair of lifetime bests.

Kennedy is a three-time MSHSL 2A State Championship qualifier representing Wayzata High School. He placed third in the 100 back and eighth in the 100 free as a junior after winning both events at the Section 5AA meet a week prior. During his sophomore season, the NISCA All-American won the 100 back Sectional 5AA title and placed 11th in the event at State.

He told Swimming World:

“I’m super excited to announce my verbal commitment to the University of Minnesota! The team and coaching staff are unlike anything I have seen. They have true dedication to their swimmers and program. I cannot wait to be a part of it and realize my swimming potential. This wouldn’t be possible without the amazing support of all my friends, family and coaches. Thank you! #gogophers”

His best times include:

  • 50 back – 22.92
  • 100 back – 49.84
  • 200 back – 1:54.55
  • 100 free – 47.08

When Kennedy arrives on campus for the 2019-20 season, he’ll join a strong backstroke training group that will include Tom Donker, Cale Berkoff and Nick Saulnier. Minnesota finished fifth in the team standings at last season’s Big Ten Championships under head coach Kelly Kramer.

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Website aims to level the retail playing field by making local bike shop stock available online

BikeZaar will pull in stock from a host of retailers, brands and distributors

A new website aims to help local bike shops to navigate the changing landscape of the cycling retail market, whilst providing shoppers with choice and convenience.

BikeZaar, which launches officially at the Cycle Show in Birmingham this weekend, combines the inventory of independent bike shops, brands and distributors into one single website.

It says the benefits of this system include greater choice and convenience for shoppers, who will be able to checkout in a single transaction, having compared products at multiple stores.

Customers will be able to collect their purchases in-store, or order for delivery depending upon the store’s policies.

BikeZaar itself will not hold any stock – all of the orders will be passed through to local independent bike shops. It hopes that the system will provide them with a platform on which to compete with the online retailers.

BikeZaar’s website explains that it aims to help the “skilled, experienced and knowledgeable human beings who dedicate their lives to running bricks-and-mortar shops”, and that it charges a commission rate “equivalent to an investment directly back into marketing and technical support.”

Kevin Griffiths, founder of BikeZaar, commented: “Cycling is different to most other markets. Bikes in particular need regular servicing and bike shops are an essential part of the local community, but with the growth of online-only retailers, many are struggling to compete. This is why we developed BikeZaar.

“We do not produce or promote our own brands; we simply enable bike shops to utilise the power of our platform to reach a global audience and realise all of the benefits of being part of a large ecommerce offering.”

Brand and distributors will also be involved, BikeZaar says it offers the “perfect opportunity” for them to ensure their full ranges are represented – something not always possible in shops with limited space.

“We connect supply and demand in ways that were never possible before, said Griffiths. “I have worked with some of the top cycling brands in the world and they were all looking for this mechanism a decade ago; being able to represent their whole range on a large ecommerce site, but in a way that gives them more control and also integrates high street bike shops.

“Now the solution exists and we are delighted to be welcoming so many brands and distributors on board.”

Elsewhere, local shops have experimented with using the success of online retailers to service customers in-store – Reigate’s Maison du Velo operates a ‘size and source’ system, where customers can buy a bike online with their assistance, having it built up and fitted to with their guidance and expertise.

Larger high street retailers are not immune to the struggles of the changing face of the trade – last week it was announced that Evans Cycles is seeking a £10million investment by the end of this week. 

The BikeZaar team will be at the Cycle Show, held at Birmingham NEC from September 27 to 30. A range of bikes, covering all categories, will be available to buy via an online auction and bids can be placed any time from Monday 24th through to 8pm on Sunday 30th September.

There will be a competition, with visitors in with a chance to win prizes up to £500 in value.

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Pitt Earns Three In-State Verbals From Tatum Detwiler, Alex Marlow & Emma Wilson

Photo Courtesy: Pittsburgh Athletics

NEW COMMITS: The University of Pittsburgh has scored three in-state verbals from Tatum Detwiler, Alex Marlow and Emma Wilson, all of whom will join the Panthers next fall as members of the class of 2023.

Photo Courtesy: Tatum Detwiler

Hailing from Connellsville, Penn., Detwiler does her club swimming with Belle Vernon Swim Club and has her Winter Juniors cut in the 100 breast. She capped off her long course season with two best times and a third-place finish at the TPIT Junior Olympics. At Akron Speedo Sectionals in March, she placed eighth in the 100 breast (1:04.27).

Detwiler competed for Connellsville Area High School as a sophomore where she placed sixth in the 100 breast (1:03.57) at the Pennsylvania 3A State meet. She has made great strides over the past two seasons, improving her 200 breast by 12 seconds and her 100 breast by two.

She told Swimming World:

“I chose to verbally commit to the University of Pittsburgh because of the awesome team, wonderful coaches, and endless opportunities the school has to offer. I never thought that I would want to go to a school so close to home, but once I was there, I knew that I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I know that I’m going to get a great education and be part of an amazing team. I can’t wait to spend the next four years with this team! Hail to Pitt!!!”

Her best times include:

  • 100 breast – 1:03.57
  • 200 breast – 2:21.48
  • 200 IM – 2:06.94
  • 50 free – 23.70
Photo Courtesy: Alex Marlow

A native of Paoli, Penn., Marlow swims year-round with Upper Main Line YMCA and has achieved the Winter Juniors standard in both breaststroke distances. She was a three-time finalist at the YMCA LCM Championships over the summer and recorded a pair of lifetime bests. She placed eighth in the 200 breast (2:17.78) and ninth in the 100 breast (1:03.47) at the 2017 YMCA SCY National Championships.

Also competing for Conestoga High School, Marlow has competed at the Pennsylvania 3A State Championships as a junior after placing tenth and 11th in the 200 IM and 100 breast, respectively, at PIAA District 1 Championships a week prior. She has improved significantly over the past two seasons, shaving three seconds off her 100 breast and knocking seven off her 200.

She told Swimming World:

“I’m super excited to announce my verbal commitment to swim D1 for the University of Pittsburgh! The coaches and team were so welcoming and supportive and I can’t wait to attend a school with outstanding academics and an amazing swim program. I’m so grateful for my parents and coaches for supporting me along this journey. I can’t wait to be a Panther! Hail to Pitt! #h2oP #gopanthers #L19HTITUP”

Her best times include:

  • 100 breast – 1:03.47
  • 200 breast – 2:16.38
  • 200 IM – 2:06.65
  • 400 IM – 4:27.01
Photo Courtesy: Emma Wilson

The Grove City, Penn. native trains and competes with Grove City YMCA and has her Winter Juniors cut in the 50 free. She finished seventh in the 50m free (27.03) at YMCA LCM Nationals this summer and placed fourth in both the 50m and 100m free at the TPIT Junior Olympics. At YMCA SCY Nationals in April, Wilson swam to a 15th-place 50 free (23.58) showing.

Wilson also swims for Grove City Area High School and was crowned champion in the 50 free (23.30) and finished fourth in the 100 free (51.94) at the Pennsylvania 2A State Championships during her junior season. She was the 50 free (23.79) runner-up as a sophomore.

She told Swimming World:

“I chose the University of Pittsburgh because of the incredible coaching staff, academics, and amazing city of Pittsburgh. Most importantly, I chose Pitt because of how phenomenal the team is. They were so kind, dedicated, and knew how to make swimming fun both on and off the pool deck! I’m so excited for all of the opportunities Pitt has to offer! I couldn’t be more ecstatic about my decision and I can’t wait to be a panther!!”

Her best times include:

  • 50 free – 23.28
  • 100 free – 51.94
  • 200 free – 1:54.60

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USOC Increases Medal Payments For Paralympians To Match Olympic Payouts

Photo Courtesy: USOC

As part of a continued effort to direct more resources to athletes, the United States Olympic Committee board of directors voted today to increase Operation Gold Awards for Paralympic athletes by as much as 400 percent. Paralympians and Olympians will now earn equal payouts for medal performances, and payments will be retroactively distributed to include medals won at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

“Paralympians are an integral part of our athlete community and we need to ensure we’re appropriately rewarding their accomplishments,” said USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “Our financial investment in U.S. Paralympics and the athletes we serve is at an all-time high, but this was one area where a discrepancy existed in our funding model that we felt needed to change. I’m thrilled that we’ve brought parity and equality to our Operation Gold program and we’re eager to continue to build on Team USA’s success in PyeongChang.”

Operation Gold provides monetary rewards to athletes who earn medals at Paralympic and Olympic Games.

“The board has been discussing this change for several months and following consultation with Paralympic athletes, the Paralympic Advisory Council and an endorsement from the Athletes Advisory Council, I’m really glad we were able to take this important step,” said Cheri Blauwet, USOC board member.

Paralympic athletes will now receive $37,500 for each gold medal earned at the Paralympic Games, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze.

The U.S. Paralympic Team won 36 medals and topped the medal table at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, and the increased payments will be made retroactively for all medals won in 2018. This retroactive increase will place more than $1.2 million in the hands of 2018 Paralympic medalists.

The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with the United States Olympic Committee. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact Advertising@SwimmingWorld.com.

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L’Etape UK and Vélo South sportives cancelled due to rain and gale-force winds

The two major cycling events will not be going ahead as a weather warning has been issued for the weekend

The organisers of L’Etape UK and Vélo South have announced both sportive events will be cancelled due to concerns about the weather.

Both events were due to take place on Sunday, but the Met Office has put a weather warning in place due to forecasts of gale-force winds and heavy rain.

Forecasters are predicting wind speeds of up to 53mph and heavy rain, forcing the organisers to cancel their events due to rider safety.

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A statement from L’Etape UK, posted on the website, said: “We understand this is disappointing news, but the health and safety of our participants, spectators and volunteers, crew and partners is our number one priority.

“After reviewing multiple weather sources and looking at alternative options, we have concluded that it would be unsafe to run the event in the forecast conditions.”

The organisers added: “We are so sorry, as we know how much training and effort our riders put into preparing for an event.

“We are also really sad not to get to see all of you enjoying the event on Sunday.”

The Tour de France-inspired open road event offers riders three routes – 115, 91, and 47 miles – all setting off from the Lee Valley VeloPark before heading into Essex.

Organisers say they are exploring the possibility of postponing the event until a later date and will confirm this by next Wednesday.

Vélo South is a closed road sportive, starting from Goodwood Motor Circuit in West Sussex.

Around 15,000 riders take part in the event, but the organisers have also had to cancel due to the weather.

A statement from the organisers said: “The entire Vélo South team are devastated that the event will not take place on Sunday and we know this is extremely disappointing news for all of our cyclists, stakeholders and supporters.

“We hope you understand that the good old British weather has in reality left us with no alternatives. “

Vélo South said the event could be rescheduled for a date in 2019, but riders will be given a full refund of entry fees and car parking.

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Zwift ‘Man Ride 2018’ to raise awareness of men’s mental illness

Zwift is hosting a series of rides and a virtual group event on ‘Global Man Ride Day’ this October

Indoor cycling platform Zwift has partnered with clothing brand Black Sheep Cycling to offer an online version of its ‘Man Ride’ – which aims to raise awareness of men’s mental illness.

Every day in the UK, 13 men take their own lives due to mental illness, one in five men in Australia suffer from a form of mental illness and in the USA men are four times more likely to commit suicide them women.

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The goal of the Black Sheep ‘Man Ride’ and its ‘Global Man Ride Day’ on October 7 is to create a conversation around the statistics and encourage discussion of men’s mental health.

“The metaphor between the high and lows of cycling and mental illness are marked,” says John Polson, Black Sheep Managing Director.

“But more than that, the Man Ride is our way to engage an entire community, break down the stigma associated with men’s mental illness and carry the conversation across multiple continents and platforms.”

The official Man Ride 2018 will see 10 self-supported riders covering five continents in five days – they’ll ride in Oceania, America, South America, Europe and the UK, starting from October 3.

Their finish line will arrive on October 7 – the second successive ‘Global Man Ride Day.’  This will be celebrated with 15 rides around the world, as well as a virtual Zwift ride.

To help partakers get some training miles in, there’s a series of ‘Brunchie’ rides being held on Zwift in the run-up to the event, too.

Studies have shown that cycling can be good for mental health, but competitive sport has a tendency to draw in people who can be more susceptible.

Graeme Obree famously suffered with depression, and told Cycling Weekly: “Whatever it is, the nuclear reaction that drives [athletes] on is also the thing that leaves them susceptible to being depressed. It’s not that sport makes people depressed.

“A lot of people who suffer from depression have a tendency to have obsessive behaviour – that’s why more of them exist in the top end of sport. The sport is actually a self-medicating process of survival.”

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