In a Saturday afternoon press conference, USA Swimming National Team Director Frank Busch specifically addressed questions about the two-year selection process that USA Swimming uses in the two years leading up to an Olympic Games. Specifically, that means that 2014 will see the selection of both the 2014 Pan Pac Championships and the 2015 World Championships.
For some swimmers, that will mean opportunistic results can keep them at the forefront for a long time, while for others, that means one bad meet can sink a career. There will almost certainly be swimmers, with potential to make the Olympic Team, who are going to be retiring after this week’s National Championships because they simply can’t afford to wait two years to make an operation gold team.
In the press conference, Busch acknowledged that the plan has both strengths and weaknesses, including the admission that there would be Americans in 2015 who will beat the World Championship team members.
In Busch’s opinion, though, the two-year selection is a key to the Americans’ Olympic success.
“When you look at the quad (four-year training plan), you have two years with championship meets in early July,” Busch iterated. “The year after the Olympics and then the year of the Olympics. In the middle years, we want our athletes to be able to train all the way through the end of summer into August. It’s important that swimmers get the most long course training out of the middle two years as they can. There are coaches that agree and disagree with that opinion, but it is what we believe is best.”
This rationalization is an admission that USA Swimming relies on many college and high school-aged swimmers to fill out their championship teams; for the ever-growing post grad ranks, the freedom exists to push through a solid 11 months of training even in those early July championship seasons.
The Pan Pac coaches, Bob Bowman and Teri McKeever, made the point during their press conference this afternoon that this will be a good opportunity for the older stars to re-evaluate where they are as athletes. With younger swimmers nipping at their toes, this is a good time for them to make some changes in regards to how they are training, or to choose to retire.