Finding Your “WHY” as a Long Distance Runner

Why do you run?  In this episode we talk about the importance of finding your “why” if you want be a long term runner and what listeners shared with us about what motivates them.

Plus we give you a quick run down of this year’s MTA Virtual Half Marathon.     And in the quick tip segment, Angie answers a question about how to implement treadmill running into your training. 

When it comes to running or any other important habit that you want to implement in your life it’s important to find your “why.” In fact, finding your why is probably the most important thing you can do to create a sustainable running habit.

I know that right now we’re talking to aspiring runners, brand new runners, lifelong runners, and those somewhere in the middle.  Maybe you’re still a bit on the fence about this whole long distance running thing.  You know that it can be a key to making you healthier and happier, but some days you just don’t have the motivation to get out there and some days you find yourself just plodding along. 

All of this is totally normal.  Not everyone falls in love with running during the first steps…in fact, many very accomplished runners had a bumpy start.  Like Pete Kostelnick who we interviewed on our last episode. He didn’t always pump out 55 mile days for weeks on end.  In fact, after running his first marathon he swore he’d never do another.

Some “Whys”Are More Sticky

One way to turn an “it’s complicated” relationship with running into a full blown commitment is to find your why.  And I’m going to let you in on a little fact…some whys are more “sticky” or meaningful than others. 

My Story

When I first started to run as a teenager my whole motivation was to lose weight.  That began an on again, off again relationship with running that would last the next decade.  As soon as I started feeling too fat or out of shape I’d jump back on the running bandwagon.  But it was a means to an end.

When I started running again at the age of 27 my weight had nothing (or at least little) to do with it.  I was looking for a change in my life.  I was seeking something that I could do for myself to make myself healthier and happier.  And this time it stuck. 

Angie at her first marathon

I ran my first marathon in 2008 and haven’t looked back sense.  That’s not to say that there haven’t been bumps in my running journey.  I’ve dealt with setbacks, discouragement, and many runs that just sucked.  But I’ve stuck with it because part of my identity is based on being a healthy and strong person and being a runner makes me feel both of those things.  Along with the benefit of being healthier physically running also helps me manage anxiety and depression.  I also love the way running has allowed me to explore the world. Now I’m one of those people who hopes I can run up until the day I die.

Another thing to keep in mind when thinking about your why is that it may (and probably will) change over time.  It’s important to reevaluate your WHY on a regular basis.  Some of your whys will be serious and life-changing, some will be fun and whimsical, and most people have a combination of reasons.

We asked the participants of the 2nd annual MTA Virtual Half about their why.   And here’s what they said:

Love of food/drink

“I like eating ice cream and drinking brewpub beer.”  -Kathleen

“I like to drink beer year round.”   -Stephen

Friends/running community:

“Besides my love of food? Well, it’s my running friends.  No matter how crappy my day can be I know they are there to make me laugh.” Kathleen

“Endorphins, girl time, chocolate.”  Jennifer


“I made a goal. Run 26.2 in all 50 states by the time I turn 50 (2019). Although I’m 2 states away from finishing my goal, I know I won’t stop. It keeps my head level. It’s my ME time. Oh, and it’s my bad ass feeling.”  JoAnn

“Running in the winter can be tough. I always have to sign up for another race to keep up my motivation.” Margaret

Alone time:

“I love being out in nature, having some Me Time with a podcast.”  Amanda

“Running is a huge part of who I am, and I can’t even conceive of a week without running. I run for fun, to enjoy being outside in every type of weather, to challenge my body, to focus my mind, and also to let my mind drift. Plus I love to eat chocolate.” Lynne

Supporting charity:

“I started long distance running to support a local charity. It helped to find the right charity, the right coaches, the right races, and most importantly the right running buddies. I went from a novice to half marathoner to marathoner and will hopefully keep adding on the distances. Running keeps me sane. And the MTA family keeps me motivated.”  Pamela

Because I can:

“Because I can! When I’m running, all of the “I shoulds” turn to “I cans” and then “I dids.”  Rachael

“Because I can and what keeps me going? My friends do as does my community, but so does my family. Having that support and knowing I can, and that my body allows me to do this is my why, because I couldn’t always run and only started 4 years ago. I am the sole healthy member of an immediate family struggling with morbid obesity. I also live in the second most unhealthy state in the US and see my community struggle with health. Some in my immediate family are completely immobile because of it and I think about that when I run and feel much gratitude for my ability but also sadness and empathy knowing that they cannot do the same. I run for myself and my health but also for those who can’t and hope that I might, in even the smallest way, be an inspiration to someone in a similar circumstance, whether it be in my family or community. I want to challenge the doubts of people who fear starting an active lifestyle and think running (or walking) is not possible. I want to help others love to live healthier active lives. This is my “why” every single day.”  Jennie

To be a positive example:

“I’m a positive example for my kids to follow. It’s something my wife and I share.”  Ryan

“Running is my passion and purpose and allows me to connect with and inspire others. I enjoy running with friends and coaching kids. Reaching goals feels amazing.”  Cari

“My two kids are my why.” Kyle

“My girls, my patients, my health, and because today I can and tomorrow I might not be able to.”  Jennifer

“Started running 2 1/2 years ago for my health. Never thought I would love to run but I do! Helps me keep my head clear, de-stress, sleep better, maintain a healthy weight, and be a role model for my daughters. If their Momma can become a runner at age 45 they can do anything they set their mind to. I ran my first marathon this year.”  Hope

A way to enjoy nature/fresh air:

“I have been looking at running as an opportunity to enjoy ALL seasons rather than always sitting inside waiting for Spring to come and just feeling cooped up and inactive all winter. It has kicked seasonal blues in the butt so far this year!!”  Sara

“Because I love being outside, because it helps me with stress, and because I never feel better than after I’ve finished a run!”  Suzanne

“Fresh air and being outside – I need my outdoor time!”  Jo

Stress relief/better headspace:

“Running is like medicine for me. I’m a pastor and my job is never done. When I finish a run, I feel accomplished something and it helps me with the stress of life. A good long run is one of the few times in my week that my mind can just relax and enter into the pattern of foot-falls, breaths, and motion.” Eric

“I’m in law enforcement and running is my stress relief as well. I started running to lose weight and redirect my thoughts from stress at work.”  Joel

“Because I love it! For my mental health, it makes me happy, the feeling I get after finishing a long run or race is the best!”  Annabelle

Change or improve my health:

“Stay healthy. I also remember how good I feel afterwards.”  Valerie

“About 18 months ago I was fat and unhealthy and hated what I had become. I read a book that spurred me into action, lost 30kg. Then I started running and found my new passion. I did a 282 day running streak, found the MTA podcast along the way…I have first marathon in 7 days time. My why is that running is my new addiction…it’s better than food, better than alcohol, it’s the best way to start my day.” Simon

“I have been running for 5ish years and it’s the whole package of clearing my head of negativity, being healthy and sleeping better.”  Scott

Challenging myself/achieving goals:

“What keeps me going is the challenge and the accomplishments. Plus I feel good after I’ve done it, may it be a half, a full or an ultra. I’m trying to see if I can do a 50 miler next year. Which is definitely another challenge for me. But first, I’d like to finish my 50 states half and full by next year.” Lynne

“I just enjoy challenging myself….trying things I’m not sure I can do….and it’s something I get to do for myself that’s healthy.”  Tom

“The thought of something greater within myself waiting to be discovered.”  Andrew

More confidence:

“I love the process of working towards a goal that is challenging and something I chose for myself. I love how it puts structure into my daily life and how it affects me as a person – I’m so much more confident, independent and enthusiastic than I used to be.”  Cecilia

“Because of all my “nevers” that actually came true. I never thought I could get a doctorate, mountain bike race, have twins, have amazing family and friends, have a rewarding career/business of my own, have a heart attack at 45 and bounce back. Running certain races/distances/times/with friends is a satisfying way to keep quashing my “nevers” and continue to test my limits physically, mentally, and spiritually…on my feet and in my life as a whole.”  Jennifer

“The confidence that running gives me is my reason and my hope is to run forever!”  Tricia

“It makes me feel like a stronger person. Knowing I have the ability to win the battles with feeling tired, being cold, and being lazy. Every time you go running; that’s a win.”  Stephen

“I can’t imagine not having running in my life. My “why” is that it completes who I am. It helps with my fitness and stress and my ability to think more clearly. It provides me with the opportunity to be outside where every run is a different adventure. I love the struggle and the feeling of accomplishment after completing a 20 miler. I love the running community. It’s fun quirky and tremendously supportive. I’m 53 and I’ve only been running for 5 years and my largest regret is that I didn’t find it earlier.”  Gregory

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Neylan signs with Team Virtu Cycling

Rachel Neylan has signed a contract to race with the Danish-registered UCI Women’s Team Virtu Cycling in 2019. The Australian joins the team from the Spanish outfit Movistar.

“I’m really thrilled to join Virtu Cycling Women for 2019,” Neylan said on the team’s website. “I am excited about bringing my experience and enthusiasm to compliment a strong team of women next year.”

Neylan was second in the elite women’s road race at the World Championships in 2012. She spent three seasons with the Orica-Scott team before joining the inaugural Movistar team for the 2018 season. Her role at Movistar was to help develop and mentor a young team.

“Rachel has had a very successful past up into this point in her career and we really want to help find her way back into the top ranks of the World Tour,” said Virtu Cycling director Carmen Small.

“With the right preparation and support, I believe that Rachel can keep improving on the bike and do even more than before. She brings experience to the team and can help the other climbers, whether that is in a support role or her taking the reins herself. This year, we have tried to strengthen the team in the more climbing race and Rachel will be a crucial part of this next step towards success.”

Movistar recently announced their roster for next season, and Neylan was the only rider who was not listed to return, but the team thanked her for her efforts this season on their social media channels.

Like Movistar, Virtu is also a young team that has had ample success in the previous two years. They were off to a strong start with victory at the spring classics opener Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with Christina Siggaard. It might have been their only win of the season, but they did have other good performances with top 10s in the Classics and at PostNord Vargarda, and second in the time trial at the Commonweath Games

“Virtu is a team I have watched over the past two years growing with sustainability and cohesiveness, while thriving on passion and ambition – something I strongly admire in an organisation and am very driven to be part of,” Neylan said. “I’m looking forward to taking an next step in my career with a wonderful hard working and innovative team of people in pro cycling!”

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2018 FINA World Short Course Championships: Day 2 Prelims Live Recap

The second morning of the 2018 FINA World Short Course Championships will feature seven preliminary events with the heats of the women’s 4×50 medley relay, men’s 200 free, women’s 100 free, men’s 100 fly, women’s 200 fly, women’s 800 free and the mixed 4×50 free relay.

Women’s 4×50 Medley Relay

Men’s 200 Free

Women’s 100 Free

Men’s 100 Fly

Women’s 200 Fly

Mixed 4×50 Free Relay

Women’s 800 Free

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Division III Preview: On Eve of Break, Pomona-Pitzer Races Again

Photo Courtesy: Eric Kelley

While most of the country is deep in final exams, or already done and headed home (or on training trip) Pomona-Pitzer will be swimming at the two day Lancer Invite at Cal Baptist University this weekend, along with Division II’s Fresno Pacific, Concordia Irvine, and Azusa Pacific.

The Sagehens will have Sunday to regroup, before diving into finals on Monday.

Pomona-Pitzer swam well two weekends ago in their dual meet with cross-street rivals Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. There the Sagehen men won while the women fell to the Athenas.

Headed into this weekend sophomore Lukas Menkhoff is ranked third in DIII in the 100 breaststroke (55.15), eighth in the country in the 100 free (44.70), and 16th in the 50 free (20.54).

Freshman Paddy Baylis has been as fast as 4:35.51 (28th overall) in the 500 and 15:56.77 (17th overall) in the 1650. That mile time is closing in on the 2018 NCAA Invited time.

Senior Ryan Drover posted a 48.65 100 fly at the CMS dual, earning him the sixth fastest time in Division III this fall.

Sprinters Madison Kauahi and Hannah Zurmuhl lead the way for the Sagehen women. The duo have gone 24.01 and 24.15, respectively in the 50 freestyle this fall. They also added times of 52.24 and 52.35 in the 100 at the dual with CMS.

Senior Angela Ling has the number nine 100 backstroke, a 56.68 that she swam two weeks ago.

Freshman Alexandra Gill boasts a 1:04.77 100 breaststroke that ranks her 16th in Division III. Her classmate Alexandra Werner is 22nd nationally with a 2:22.33 200 breaststroke.

With a number of swims already in the top 25 in the country this year, and the timing of this meet, it will be interested to see what sorts of times Pomona-Pitzer posts this weekend. After swimming suited (and presumably a bit rested) against CMS, this weekend may just serve as a number of opportunities to race with minimal expectations.

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Anthony Ervin, Joe Maloy, Brad Snyder Announce “Win The Winter” Triathlon Camp

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Olympic legend Anthony Ervin, 2016 Team USA Olympic triathlete Joe Maloy and Paralympics gold medalist and U.S. Navy veteran Brad Snyder have teamed up to create their first ever “Win the Winter” triathlon camp this February 16-18th over President’s Day weekend in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

By bringing in swimming champions such as Ervin and Snyder, triathletes will have a unique opportunity to improve their swimming from the best. The camp also focuses on bike technique and strategy, stride coaching, the athletic mindset through the years, wisdom on recovery, nutrition and physical therapy, education on athlete safety, group dinners, “Fireside chats” with Anthony, Joe, & Brad and more.

Says Olympian Joe Maloy, “I’m excited to partner with Tony and Brad to offer this experience. Growth in sport is incremental, but shifts in perspective can help people ‘leap’ from one level to the next. Tony and Brad’s life and swimming experiences, combined with my triathlon specific knowledge, makes this camp a unique opportunity for incremental fitness gains and perspective leaps. I cannot wait to enjoy this weekend in the South Florida sun!”

Adds Ervin, “Age isn’t the barrier, but the very reason for continuing life and conduct of a sportsman. I can’t think of a better way of using a holiday weekend than to continue developing this body for a life of continuing athleticism. Together with the individual contributions of each camper and with the proven leadership and technical guidance of Brad, Joe, and myself, we will all have a headstart over our competition; be that triathlon or life!

Says Snyder, “I’m thrilled to join forces with Joe and Anthony! I look forward to discussing growth mindset, game day execution, and sustaining excellence! I’m also excited to get some solid training in the warm sunshine!”

Early-bird registration is $1,299 by 12/31, with the price increasing to $1499 from 1/1/19 on. Additional details are in the accompanying flyer with limited slots available.

Photo Courtesy:

— The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with Collective Entertainment. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact

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USA Synchro Announces 2019 Junior National Squad

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Synchro has announced the athletes named to the 2019

U.S. Junior National Synchronized Swimming Squad.

The swimmers, who were selected after three sets of trials this past weekend, will represent the U.S. at the 2019 UANA Pan American Artistic Swimming Championships in Windsor, Ontario, Canada (Aug. 19-24). They will then be invited to full-time training at the National Training Center in September 2019 to prepare for the 2020 Junior World Championships.

The rigorous trials were held in Las Vegas Dec. 8-9 and were attended by 51 athletes vying for a spot on the squad.

The athletes selected to the 2019 U.S. Junior National Squad are: Miko Begossi (Alamo, Calif.), Yujin Chang (San Jose, Calif.), Claudia Colletti (Sunny Isles Beach, Fla.), Ivy Davis (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Keana Hunter (Issaquah, Wash.), Abby Kartzinel (Ladera Ranch, Calif.), Claire Kim (Campbell, Calif.), Marlena King (Clayton, Calif.), Ryan Lewis (Alamo, Calif.), Olivia Li (New Canaan, Conn.), Olivia Malloy (South Hamilton, Mass.), Anya Melson (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Elizabeta Polyakova (Sammamish, Wash,), Aubrie Rutan (Citrus Heights, Calif.), Ariana Stanton (Walnut Creek, Calif.), Chiara Steele (Los Gatos, Calif.), Valentina Terry (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), Marilyn Weaver (San Jose, Calif.) and Victoria Zimm (Gilbert, Ariz.).

— The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with USA Synchro. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact

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How to Benefit From An Unconventional Taper

Photo Courtesy: Mark Mitchell

By Ryan Gibbons, Swimming World College Intern. 

The holiday season brings so much with it – the joy of friends and family, the excitement of large invitationals, and unimaginable amounts of food and cookies. Yet, it frequently also entails a great obstacle for swimmers: the oddly-timed, unconventional taper.

Unlike a traditional rest cycle for the conference or national championship, swimmers experience the unconventional taper earlier in the season – frequently in November and December. Championship meets frequently occur in sequence, and tapers must work around numerous competitions to strategically reach certain levels of performance at specific competitions. Thus, many cycles may stray from the normal two or three week cycle: either lasting for an extended period of time or including numerous competitions, each which a certain specific performance goal.

While these out-of-the-ordinary taper cycles can be stressful and unpredictable, overall peak performance is not unattainable – nor is achieving it outside of a swimmer’s control. With proper preparation and care, the extended/unconventional taper can turn from a dreaded trap to a phenomenal championship season.

Maintaining Training Patterns

Photo Courtesy: Instagram, @swimoutlet

The key to any rest period is maintaining at least a slight amount of high-speed training. With an extended or unconventional taper, this is especially critical: maintaining shape for weeks on end requires a good amount of intermittent work. Professor Brent S. Rushall of San Diego State University maintains this need for periodic intensity, noting that alternating periods of high- and low- intensity training can frequently extend the effective length of a taper.

While a decrease in volume is certainly expected, the re-institution of longer or more intense practices should be an accepted aspect of a longer cycle, even if this may directly alter day-to-day performance. With the ultimate goal of reaching peak performance at numerous times, accepting a day or two of tougher training may be necessary.

Focusing on Form

Photo Courtesy: Swimming World Magazine

Just because the overall intensity of in-season training is gone doesn’t mean that great improvements can’t happen while resting. Especially when a swimmer is granted weeks of glorious taper, the opportunity to focus on technique – especially in the absence of extensive physical stress – is not one to be missed.

Simply focusing on proper form, working turns and breakouts, and perfecting some stroke aspects that may have slipped a bit during the season can work wonders on end-of-season performance. Taking the time to push a little more on the detail-oriented aspects of the sport can bring huge benefits come race time.

Building Positivity and Confidence

Photo Courtesy: Dan D’Addona

As mentioned earlier, any rest period is going to be a wild roller coaster of ups and downs – no taper is complete without its deal of “off” days. An extended or unusual taper only exaggerates this process. While these variations shouldn’t be ignored, focusing only on the negative days of a taper ignores the ultimately incredible performances at the end.

A taper can seem to reverse itself in a matter of hours: one practice may be painful and tiresome, yet the next practice may see the best pace held all season. The mental key to any successful taper, especially in an unconventional cycle, lies entirely in focusing on the positive days and trusting your coach and your body to produce the best possible results. Accepting some tougher times and letting go the negativity associated with them can ultimately prove a crucial aspect of a successful taper.

Taking Care Outside of the Pool

Photo Courtesy: Buenosia Carol

When a taper lasts for weeks on end, it can be mentally daunting to stay healthy, disciplined, and cautious. However, as a taper gets longer and less predictable, eating healthily, maintaining a disciplined sleep schedule, and properly hydrating becomes even more critical. Without maintaining healthy habits, the work put in to a season and taper can quickly fall apart.

In addition to health habits, a healthy stretching routine can also help foster peak performance throughout a taper. James Camarinos of the Ryan Center for Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation recommends light, static stretching in the evening or post workout as a means of improving athletic performance. Routine stretches without overstretching can be an additional aspect of a successful taper.

It’s true that an extended taper can be a stressful, anxiety-inducing process for swimmers; however, taking adequate steps to prepare oneself for competition can turn these tapers from dreaded cycles into opportunities for incredible performances. Capitalizing on a season’s worth of hard work with a successful rest period is one of the greatest parts of the sport. By learning to use a complicated taper as an advantage rather than an obstacle, swimmers can find substantial success in what can appear to be some of their roughest situations.

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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Katie Ledecky Named to ESPN’s 20 Most Dominant Athletes of 2018

Swimming superstar Katie Ledecky was named to ESPN’s list of the 20 most dominant athletes of the year. The panel of experts started by “grading the athletes by the strongest performance measures available in their sport over their most recently completed season, including timed scores, earnings and, wherever possible, advanced metrics.”

“Then, to put those achievements into historical perspective, they compared the top athletes in a sport to the best in their field each year since 1998 and adjusted the results to put those athletes onto one common baseline, yielding our ratings.”

Katie Ledecky was ranked fifth on the list, with the top spot going to gymnastics star Simone Biles. Ledecky was the third highest female athlete on the list after Biles and Ariya Jutanugarn, and was the third highest American athlete behind Biles and MMA star Daniel Cormier.

Ledecky was ranked ahead of some pretty big names including Wimbledon Champion Novak Djokovic, WNBA Finals MVP Breanna Stewart, Stanley Cup Champion Alex Ovechkin and Triple Crown winner Justify, as well as former NBA Finals MVP LeBron James and former Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees.

The List:

  1. Simone Biles, USA, Gymnastics
  2. Eliud Kipchoge, Kenya, Marathon
  3. Daniel Cormier, USA, MMA
  4. Ariya Jutanugarn, Thailand, Golf
  5. Katie Ledecky, USA, Swimming
  6. Chloe Kim, USA, Snowboarding
  7. Breanna Stewart, USA, Basketball
  8. Luka Modric, Croatia, Soccer
  9. Simona Halep, Romania, Tennis
  10. Novak Djokovic, Serbia, Tennis
  11. Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan, Figure Skating
  12. Lewis Hamilton, England, F1
  13. LeBron James, USA, Basketball
  14. Mookie Betts, USA, Baseball
  15. Drew Brees, USA, Football
  16. Justify, USA, Horse Racing
  17. Alex Ovechkin, Russia, Hockey
  18. Patrick Mahomes, USA, Football
  19. James Harden, USA, Basketball
  20. Mike Trout, USA, Baseball

The list cited Ledecky’s two NCAA titles this year, and her world record in the 1500 free at the Indianapolis Pro Swim Series. She followed those performances in the spring with three national titles in July, and then three more gold medals at the Pan Pacific Championships in August.

Ledecky is in her first full year as a professional swimmer, as she decided to forego her remaining two years of eligibility at Stanford, and sign professionally with TYR Sport.

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FINA Approves New Water Polo Rules; More Changes Likely

FINA President Julio C. Maglione at the 2018 World Water Polo Conference. Photo Courtesy: FINA

By Michael Randazzo, Swimming World Contributor

In a little less than an hour on Monday in Hangzhou, China, decades of international water polo convention was overturned by FINA. After experimenting last summer and fall with proposed changes, twelve new or augmented rules were overwhelmingly approved at a FINA Extraordinary Congress. According to a FINA press release, of 110 national federations represented, 161 delegates voted to approve the rule changes, with only six dissenting votes.

18th FINA World Championships next July in Gwangju, Korea.

The changes were mostly applauded by key players in the sport.

Dragan Jovanovic, Executive Director of World Water Polo Coaches Association. Photo Courtesy: FINA

“We are very happy that these important rules changes have been passed in a big majority and almost without the opposition,” Dragan Jovanovic, Executive Director of World Water Polo Coaches Association (WWPCA), said in a statement. “It shows a huge satisfaction with the work that was done in the last year and a unity in the water polo community that these changes are needed and welcomed.”

[2018 FINA Budapest Water Polo Conference: On The Record with Dragan Jovanovic]

The WWPCA, consisting of some of the sport’s top coaches, was an integral part of the process for reforming water polo. WWPCA coaches worked with members of FINA’s Technical Water Polo Committee—including Andrey Kryukov, FINA Bureau Liaison—to draft the rule changes that were ratified in Hangzhou.

[On The Record with FINA’s Andrey Kryukov; Water Polo’s Future Rests with Him]

Expanding on President Maglione’s comments, Jovanovic emphasized that Monday’s vote is part of a process of necessary change for a sport that in recent years has been threatened with banishment from the Olympics.

“This is a big step for water polo but only the first step,” Jovanovic added. “We hope that next steps of change in water polo will be in development around the world, marketing, competition structure and necessary investment. Without further steps, this big step of changing the rules will be meaningless.”

“The process to get to this point was far more inclusive and transparent than it has been,” said Adam Krikorian, Head Coach, U.S. Senior Women’s National Team. “Although I don’t believe we have arrived at the final stage, I do think we have made some positive steps in the right direction”

Adam Krikorian celebrating Team USA’s golden moment at 2017 FINA World Championships. Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

The implementation of new rules for FINA competition threatens to roil the sport in the European professional ranks. Recently, the Croatian Water Polo Federation—in unison with its Hungarian, Italian and Serbian counterparts—petitioned LEN to immediately adapt the new rules.  LEN (Ligue Européenne de Natation) oversees competition for dozens of men’s and women’s teams, including Champions League play, which will take a brief hiatus later this month before resuming on January 9th. The Croatian proposal is to make the rules switch now so as to benefit European national teams in the run up to qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

[FINA World Cup Underscores Big Changes Ahead for International Water Polo]

The Italian League has already agreed to implement the new rules in its 2019 – 2020 campaign, which begins next fall. Currently, the Champions League and the Euro Cup has declined to implement the new rules before the 2019 – 2020 season, as teams are in the midst of play under the current rules

Dante Dettamanti—outspoken in his belief that the sport must evolve to allow nations other than Croatia, Hungary, Montenegro and Serbia to successfully compete for Olympic gold—believes these new rules don’t go far enough to change the current competitive imbalance. Collectively, Balkan countries have captured more than half of all Olympic golds, and the last six in a row.

A participant in a FINA-organized conference last May in Budapest charged with proposing major changes for the sport, Dettamanti is adamant that the rules just ratified are only the beginning of a much need transformation of polo.

[Notes from FINA: 2018 World Water Polo Conference in Budapest]

“[T]his is ONLY a first step,” he said via email. “Most of the rules just approved are cosmetic, and don’t really change the game that much. Changing the reset clock to 20 seconds, giving a penalty for position inside 6 meters, and two time-outs are the biggest changes.”

Dante Dettamanti and the 2001 Stanford men’s water polo team—NCAA champions. Photo Courtesy: David Gonzales

Expressing opposition to the a number of the new rules, Dettamanti—who coached at Stanford for 25 years, winning eight NCAA men’s championships—said: “I don’t agree with moving the shot after foul to 6 meters. We should be making it easier to score, not harder. Allowing that person to fake and put the ball on the water after the foul is negated by moving the location of the shot one more meter away from the goal.

“The substitution on the fly at half court, the goalie able to shoot the ball, and shooting from the corner throw don’t change the game at all,” he added. “These rules do not make the changes that are really necessary in the game. It gives teams a few more shooting opportunities during the game; but will not create any movement or make the game more dynamic, which is really what is needed.

Then, striking a conciliatory tone, Dettamanti added: “Hopefully more important changes will come after the 2020 Olympics in Japan.”

Following are the rule changes approved by the FINA Extraordinary Congress:

  • The possession time to be reset to 20 seconds after:
    a) a corner throw awarded;
    b) a rebound after a shot which does not cause change of possession and
    c) after an exclusion
  • Inside the 6m area, when a player is swimming with and/or holding the ball and is impeded (attacked) from behind during an attempt to shoot, a penalty foul must be awarded (unless only the ball is touched by the defender)
  • Free throw shall be taken from the location of the ball (except if the foul is committed inside the 2m line)
  • A goal may be scored from a free throw awarded outside 6 meters from a direct shot or after fake or dribble or putting the ball on the water. (Referees shall use signals if the foul happened outside the 6m line.)
  • A player taking a corner throw may shoot directly or swim and shoot without passing or pass to another player
  • An additional substitution re-entry area will be at any place between the goal line and the center field line for flying substitutions
  • Each team may request 2 time-outs during the game at any time while possessing the ball – and a time-out calling device (button) should be used to call a time-out
  • The goalkeeper is allowed to move beyond and touch the ball past the half distance line
  • There shall be a 3-minute interval between the second and third period
  • The use of audio equipment by the game referees
  • The use of game video monitoring system to identify and sanction incidents of brutality or extreme violence that occurred but were not appropriately punished or identified during a game
  • The use of video monitoring system to determine goal or no goal (where available).

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