The latest installment of swimming podcast Snabbanan features a candid chat with U.S. National Team Director Frank Busch, who speaks on a wide range of topics leading up to this summer’s Olympic Trials and Olympic Games.
Snabbanan is hosted by Ola Strömberg of Sweden, and though most episodes are recorded in Swedish, Strömberg also regularly features English interviews with American swimmers and coaches.
This month, he talks to Busch, who is in charge of USA Swimming’s National Team.
One of the most interesting subjects Busch covers is doping control. Busch says one of the U.S.’s highest-ranking doping officials met with FINA, bringing along a letter signed by the top American swimmers. The letter encouraged FINA to focus less on swimmers ranked 11 through 50 worldwide in terms of doping control, instead focusing resources on providing the toughest, most sophisticated anti-doping tests on swimmers ranked in the top 10 worldwide.
That’s in response to a question about Russia’s status, given the Olympic ban of that nation’s athletics program along with a string of doping violations among swimmers over the past few years.
Busch says the meeting was “well-received.” He also outlined the lengths USADA (the United States Anti-Doping Agency) goes to to test international athletes who compete or train on U.S. soil.
“Any international athlete that steps foot on U.S.A. soil is going to be tested by USADA,” he said. “They’re going to be tested when they get off the plane, they’re going to be tested in the morning, they’re going to be tested at night.
“We feel like the only way it’s right to compete is if you’re clean, and we’re trying our best to make sure that this sport is clean.”
We’ve pulled out some of the high points below, with time-stamps included:
- 0:40 – Busch outlines his specific role within USA Swimming, as it relates to the International Olympic Committee. Busch says his job is to “try to give an edge to the coaches and the swimmers at the highest level of our sport who represent the United States.”
- 2:15 – Busch talks about the biggest changes with Team USA since he took the job in 2011, and he also hints at some tweaks to USA Swimming’s “Athlete Partnership Agreement,” which provides stipends and other support to the National Team.
- 3:50 – Busch talks about promoting the sport in a way that keeps swimming in the public eye outside of the once-every-four-years Olympic bump.
- 5:30 – Strömberg asks about the positives and negatives of older swimmers continuing their careers for Team USA.
- 7:45 – Strömberg asks about those critical of Team USA’s performances last summer. Busch talks about the decision to select 2015 National Teams a year out, acknowledging the downsides of that system but noting that it is used to help athletes with training cycles in the year prior to the Olympics.
- 9:45 – Busch talks about the decision to select Dave Marsh and Bob Bowman as Olympic head coaches.
- 10:20 – Busch then talks about his own transition from coaching into the National Team Director role.
- 12:30 – Busch and Strömberg get into the doping question as outlined above.
- 14:25 – Busch talks about transitioning the success of NCAA swimmers into long course production internationally. Busch says he could see 10-12 men and women from the collegiate level making the U.S. Olympic Team.
- 16:25 – Busch talks about how he got into swim coaching “by chance” as a young man.
- 18:35 – Strömberg puts Busch on the spot with the question “If you have to pick one gold medal that you feel most sure Team USA will win in Rio, what would it be?”