Archive for the ‘Swimming’ Category

Swimmer Aims for North Pacific Crossing


French endurance swimmer Ben Lecomte has set himself the incredible goal of swimming from Tokyo to San Francisco this summer.

He will swim eight hours each day. During this time he will endure hardships like jelly fish, sharks, sunburn, ocean currents, and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a floating raft of debris the size of Texas.

Lecomte has previously swum across the Atlantic Ocean. That took him 73 days. This latest 8851 kilometre challenge will, he believes, test him to his limits.

Every moment of the swim is scheduled. “The last thing you want to do,” he told from his Dallas, Texas home, “is not know what you’re going to do with your mind.

“The first hour I relive any event, like a birthday party. The second hour is math exercise like counting or dividing numbers.

“The third one I try to visualise or imagine a place I have never been to, like Australia … I engage all my sense to disassociate my mind from my body.”

Mr Lecomte expects the ultra-marathon swim to take around six months. He says he is doing it to raise awareness of ocean degradation through human waste products.

“We want to show people what is around because 80 per cent of the plastic you find in the ocean comes from land. What you see on the surface [of the Great Pacific Patch] is only 15 per cent because 70 per cent is in the water column and the other 15 per cent is on the bottom.”

Mr Lecomte said that footage of his journey will be streamed live on social media.

He is expected to consume a staggering 8000 caleries each day. To fuel himself he will consume for large meals when not swimming and liquid meals while in the water.

But he I wary of health issues like tendonitits. The body is not built for six months of constant exercise.

Just like the ocean is not built to be a garbage dump.

Brazilian Surf Champion Shot Dead

Ricardo dos Santos

Brazilian professional surfer Ricardo dos Santos has lost his life after being shot several times in the stomach and chest outside his beachside home. The 24-year-old suffered a perforated lung and kidney and died after four operations failed to stop his bleeding. It is still not entirely sure how the shooting occurred but Brazilian media have reported that police have arrested a young man and his 17-year-old brother. The older man has been identified as an off-duty police officer – 25 year-old military police officer Luis Paulo Mota Brentano – who claims he shot dos Santos in self-defence and that his behaviour was justified. His brother alleges that two men, one being dos Santos, threatened them with knives near Embaú Guard beach, Brazil.

Ricardo dos Santos was a popular personality who made waves on the world surfing scene in 2012 when he eliminated fellow competitors Taj Burrow, Jordy Smith and Kelly Slater at the Billabong pro competition in Tahiti – on the notorious Teahupo?o reef break. He also picked up the Andy Irons award for Most Committed Performance and in 2013 was awarded The Wave of The Winter for an impressive barrel he caught at Hawaii’s Pipeline. Fans and fellow surfers alike have gathered at Pipeline in honour and remembrance of their friend and hero, a man described as “one of the greatest barrel riders of his short time” (Kelly Slater). Fellow surfer and good friend, Adriano de Souza, posted on Facebook saying he had lost a “great friend…a cheerful person, good hearted and good about life”. Brazilian surfer, Gabriel Medina asked “Why does this happen to good people?” and wrote that dos Santos was “always helping others, smiling from ear to ear everyday”.

Dos Santos’ passing is all the more tragic given his own personal efforts to curb violence in the Embaú Guard area of Brazil. In 2011 he posted on social media imploring his local community to unite together and”put an end to this farce”. He was bothered that people did not value the beauty and purity of the area he called home. The fact that Ricardo’s killer was a member of the police force who are meant to protect its citizens is a sad reflection of Brazil’s internal social and often violent problems.

Ricardo dos Santos passed away the day after being shot after many operations and 40 litres worth of blood transfusions, some of which were donated after fellow surfers posted online asking specifically for blood donations (due to a national shortage of blood in Brazil). The tragedy is a senseless loss of life highlighting the growing number of murders yearly in Brazil, a beautiful yet scary place to be.


The Me Clinic – Cosmetic surgery for face, body and skin


Courntey Hancock & Liz Pluimers Set for Showdown in Newcastle

Ironwoman Courtney Hancock has opened up about her rivalry with Northcliff club compatriot Liz Pluimers.

Both women are premier athletes in one of the world’s most gruelling sports: The Nutri-Grain Iron Woman Series. But personal differences have produced deep divisions between the two.

But their antagonism has fuelled each woman to beat the other.

Hancock has won the crown three times, including last season. Pluimer has won the title twice. And neither wants to finish behind the other.

Currently Pluimers has an impressive 10-point lead going into this week’s final round in Newcastle. A win here would see her tie up the series and even her title count against Hancock.

“We have different beliefs on how we do things,” Hancock told the Daily Telegraph. “And I don’t think we got along from the start and it has always been that way.

“We have the same love for the sport, but we don’t talk

‘It drives me when I’m racing, because Liz is a great athlete and I want to get out there and beat her.

“I think that drive also helps me go to limits I haven’t been to before.”

Hancock is starring in a Nutri-Grain Sports Stars Challenge on Channel 9 in 2015. She has spent a lot of time filming the show, but refuses to use it as an excuse for her recent form slump (now 6th on the ladder).

“It’s definitely hurt my racing this year, but everything happens for a reason and you’ll see me return next year a bit more focused.

“That’s why I want to finish the season in Newcastle with a strong result and hopefully a win.

I Support Women in Sports Awards Upstaged by Topless Models.



The fall-out from the Women’s Health magazine’s I Support women in Sport awards hasn’t been confined to social media. The outrage came when the magazine hired three topless models covered in body paint resembling the uniforms of a gymnast, swimmer and netballer.

Lisa Wilkinson, from the Today breakfast show, posted on Twitter, “What was @WomenHealthMag thinking when it dressed topless models in body paint at their Women In Sport awards?”

While former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally, once chief executive of Basketball Australia, declared it “one of the daftest moves ever to promote women in Australian sports.”

Both women seem to feel they have the right to tell Australians how they should enjoy women’s sports – as if there is a right and a wrong way.

Studies have shown that both women and men look at each gender the same way. Men are viewed as a while, women as the sum of their parts. Evolutionary psychologists have said humans have evolved to do this. In evolutionary terms those, for instance, who quickly determined a guy was too big to fight against, and ran away would get to pass on their genes. While those who spent time registering the bits that made up the guy wouldn’t. The reverse is true of women. Identifying the bits that made up a woman would lead both women and men to make an educated guess about the state of her health and her chances of successfully producing children.

So when men and women go to sporting events they are looking at male and female athletes in different ways. Therefore how they look does matter and does contribute to the reasons why men and women watch sport.

Phelps Handed Six-Month Ban

Michael Phelps has been handed a six month suspension from USA Swimming for his most recent Driving Under the Influence arrest. This means the 29 year-old swimming champion will be unable to compete in US Grand Prix meets in Minneapolis, Austin, and Orlando. He is expected to be able to return to top level US swimming competition at the Mesa, Arizona meet starting on April 15 2015.

While Phelps will certainly miss the top level competition, he is still free to train at his North Baltimore club. Phelps has already qualified for the world championships to be held in Russia, next August. He fully intends to compete at this meet, the largest competition leading up to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.

Michael Phelps. Photo:

Michael Phelps. Photo:

Michael Phelps has had a spotty history with the law. In 2004 he was arrested for driving a vehicle while intoxicated. In 2009 he was suspended for having being photographed inhaling from a marijuana pipe (even though he was not formally charged).

Phelps took to social media to inform the world of his ban. “Swimming is a major part of my life, but right now I need to focus my attention on me as an individual, and do the necessary work to learn from this experience and make better decisions in the future,” he posted on Twitter.

He has also indicated his intention to embark upon a six-week in-patient rehabilitation program.

This is the harshest ever punishment imposed on Phelps. It will seriously damage his build up for the world championships next year and may even impact upon his fitness for the Rio de Janiro Olympics. USA Swimming cited a section of its 2014 Rule Book claiming Phelps had violated its Code of Conduct. “Michaels’s conduct was serious and required significant consequences,” said USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus. “We endorse and are here to fully support his personal development actions.”

Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse to Investigate Dropping of Charges Against Scott Volkers.

The Royal Commission into child sexual abuse will investigate events leading to the decision drop sex charges against swim coach Scott Volkers. The roles of then Queensland attorney-general Rod Welford, the director of public prosecutions Leanne Clare, her assistant Paul Routledge and other legal figures will come under scrutiny.

A former CMC investigation into the probity of officials involved in the case found no evidence of misconduct or interference by the Department of Public Prosecutions. It did, however, isolate a number of errors made by the DPP in their handling of the case, noting there “were more defects than one would ordinarily expect to find in an examination of a matter of this kind.”

Following a twelve-month investigation, Scott Volkers was ordered to stand trial on seven charges of indecently dealing with a minor. This was in 2002. Six months after his arrest all charges were dropped. The DPP believed the evidence constituted ‘no reasonable basis’ from which to expect a conviction.

The announcement was met with a storm of outrage from alleged victims. Lawyers and politicians raised questions at the time over ‘procedural issues’ and called for the CMC to investigate.

Scott Volkers. Photo

Scott Volkers. Photo

In 2010 the Commissioner for Children and Young people refused to issue Volkers with a Blue Card, allowing him to work with children.

Volkers was recognized as one of Swimming Australia’s great coaches. He guided Samantha Riley and Susie O’Neill though the high points of their career and substantially enriched the depth of national swim talent.

Volkers was accused by several of his former charges of inappropriate behaviour, including fondling a 13 year-old girl. He has stridently denied any wrongdoing. For the last two years Volkers has been coaching in Brazil. He will be bringing a squad to Australia in August for the Pan Pacific Games.

Hackett in rehab?


Grant Hackett has flown this week to America to seek treatment for a reputed addiction to prescription medication, following an intervention staged by family and friends.

Although it has not been confirmed, it is thought that Hackett’s treatment will attempt to break an addiction to sleeping medication Stilnox, which the Westpac executive labelled “evil” in 2012.

hackett-laWhen Hackett was met by a media pack in LA after landing, he denied that he would be going to rehab, instead saying that he would be taking time to rest and relax after a stressful period in his personal life.

Contrary to this denial, Hackett’s father has told the media that his son would be seeking treatment at a rehabilitation facility. Neville Hackett claimed that the swimmer is in “a little bit of denial” over his addiction.

Last week, Grant Hackett was pictured in a near-nude state in Melbourne Crowne casino – apparently searching for one his children in the building’s foyer. In the past, Hackett has endured a number of personal problems, including a difficult split in 2012 from wife Candice Alley after allegations of alcohol-fuelled violence and intimidation.

Hackett’s latest personal troubles closely follow a 60 Minutes interview with two-time Olympic medallist Scott Miller, which explored the swimmer’s own history of drug abuse and pimping.

Completing the trifecta, of course, is Ian Thorpe, who was recently admitted to a Sydney rehabilitation clinic after police confronted him a daze-like state near his parents’ home in southern Sydney.

This has caused some journalists to remark on the correlation between the intense training regimes these athletes work under, and the challenges they face outside the pool. The likes of Thorpe, Miller and Hackett undertake taxing training schedules at very young ages. Just like child stars of the entertainment world, they’re not given the same opportunities to try and fail, to embarrass ourselves without widespread criticism, and to simply grow up that we normal folk are.

Being lauded as a national hero, only to be largely forgotten by the press and the public (save for the occasional negative scandal) after retirement, is sure to be emotionally and mentally draining. Then there’s the “what next?” question. Apart from the option of a commentating/media career, there are few obvious avenues open to ex-sportspeople.

For years, Australia has prided itself on its prowess in the pool. But at what cost?

Bowing Out – A Sportsperson’s Retirement


Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushenko was today forced to retire from the men’s singles program. The 31 year-old – one of the icons of the sport – complained of spinal pains earlier in the week, after helping Russia secure gold earlier in the team competition.

Plushenko’s exit from the men’s singles event was dramatic. He took to the rink to warm up, holding his lower back in visible pain. He attempted various jumps and spins, but struggled to pull them off, eventually liasing with his coaching team before announcing his withdrawal to the judges. Although he is yet to officialy retire, Plushenko was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying “this was not how I wanted to end my career”. “For now I need a very big rest, ” he said.

Plushenko’s injuries and plateauing scores represent a familiar tale when it comes to sport: an elite athlete, after years at the top of their pecking order, experiences diminishing returns. Their constant physical exertions take a toll, causing further problems and an eventual, expected retirement announcement.

The familiarity of this narrative, though, doesn’t make it any less painful. Ian Thorpe’s tumultous career of highs and lows is indicative of this. After winning five Olympic gold medals, Thorpe retired from swimming in 2006. Four years later, though, he announced a comeback geared at the 2012 London Olympics. The media salivated at this prospect: the wonder-kid reclaiming his place as Australia’s king of swimming.

However, the height of expectations seemingly proved too much; Thorpe failed to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. This process was the subject of an insightful 2012 ABC documentary. Thorpe re-retired in the middle of 2013. However, he has continued to attract media attention – most recently for being admitted to rehab after a ‘dazed and confused’ episode in his parents’ southern Sydney neighbourhood.

retirement-waughHappily, not all retirement stories are quite so fraught with difficulty and pain. Cricket, for example, is ripe with happy end-of-career stories. Steve Waugh, then serving as the captain of Australia’s cricket team, bowed out in 2003. He ended his run in front of a home crowd, and referenced the mixed emotions that are sure to come with ending such a successful career. Glenn McGrath also managed to finish with dignity, taking a wicket with the last ball of his career.

These case studies all serve as food for thought: is it better for athletes to retire relatively early, at the top of their game with their dignity well and truly intact? Or should they fight, on Lleyton Hewitt style, earning the ‘veteran’ tag and forging a stronger place in the minds of sports fans? It’s safe to assume that, in pondering such a decision, logic and emotion will have to battle it out. There are cautionary tales related to both avenues, with neither resolutely better than the other.

The Canningvale Calendar

“Trust me, this is the best way.”

The swim team of a small rural town in outback Queensland had decided to enter several interstate swim meets. Their team had done reasonably well against other nearby clubs. Some of their swimmers had pretty decent times for their age groups. Their coach, Jon, was lobbying hard to get the funds to take the kids away. “The experience of swimming at these meets,” he said, “would be invaluable.” Plus everyone just needed a break from the same incessant, punishing training.

The usual ways of raising funds were not working. Sausage sizzles and lamington drives sent the wrong sort of message (neither sausages nor lamingtons being healthy foods for swimmers). And so Jon put the question to the swimmers, “How can we raise the money to attend these meets?”

It was a good idea. One of the swimmer’s parents was Michelle, a photographer. She suggested the idea of selling calendars; each month containing a photograph of several of the swim team. The kids loved the idea! Modelling for a photo’ shoot, raising money to attend a sporting event they’d dreamed of, it was their idea of heaven. jordan-s

‘Well we have the models,’ Michelle said, looking with pride at her son as he laughed and joked with his team mates. ‘Now we need the props.’ And this was where she stunned everyone.

Michelle had previously worked as an artistic director for an advertising firm. She’d learned through her career that having the prettiest models in the world didn’t amount to a hill of beans if you accoutred them incorrectly. So having the swim team standing around in ratty swimmers bathrobes, with towels that were frayed to ribbons, just wouldn’t do.

And so Michelle went online. Her advertising firm had done work for Canningvale. They sold luxury beach towels and sumptuous bathrobes online. And this was what surprised everyone. Looking for beach towels online, in Queensland, the sunshine state, was almost heretical. But Michelle wouldn’t hear otherwise.

“I’m not taking a dozen excited teenagers into a department store to see how they look in different colored bathrobes and beach towels. That’s assuming the department store has what we need.”

Jon could only agree.

BEACABQ793CVCV_Beach-CottonTerryCabanaStripe-Aqua_S_1With her practiced eye Michelle could pick which colors worked best with each swimmer. She got all their sizes and imagined how best to frame each of them, nestled in the rich colors and soft textures of the robes and towels.


Within a few days Canningvale delivered everything exactly as she had ordered. Rich reds and deep browns (the swim team’s colors) predominated. But Michelle had ensured everyone had robes and towels the color and style that would suit them best.

The photo shoot went off without a hitch, all the kids loved being under the hot lights, striking poses and staring haughtily at the lenses.

The parents’ and local community were stunned with the results. “Is this my little girl?” “Aren’t you getting strong son?” “Watch out Hollywood!” Were the least of the comments on the Facebook page Michelle created for the fundraising.


The idea of a calendar was a raging success. The swim team raised enough money to attend the meets. They even had enough money left over for a small holiday when they’d finished.

Australian Sports Coaches: 3 Of The Best


Behind every great sportsperson is an even greater coach. A consistent motivator, who manages to be cruel and kind in the right measure. They frequently coordinate teams, uniting people in spite of personal challenges to achieve great things and inspire the masses. They have to know where individuals’ strengths, weaknesses, and limits lie, and be able to push them – just enough, but not too much.

Every sports fan has their favourite coach – the ringmaster who helped spur the fan’s favourite team on to glory and victory, and will forever be respected for their achievements. This list does not claim to be decisive or unanimous, but it does serve to demonstrate the incredible leadership skills demonstrated by three great Australian coaches.

Norma Plummer

coaches-plummerAs the head coach of Australia’s national netball team, the Diamonds, Plummer drove those in her charge to admirable success. During her eight-year tenure as the team’s coach, Plummer and the various incarnations of the Diamonds maintained a success rate of 75% across their matches. Two Commonwealth Games silver medals, and first-place finishes at both the 12th and 13th World Netball Championships were also achieved while Plummer was at the helm of the team.

The ex-player gained a reputation for being tough but fair, becoming extremely well respected by followers of the game. The admiration afforded to Plummer is indicative of the value we place on strength of character self-confidence. These same skills can be developed by undertaking executive coaching in Australia. Don’t expect to come out a netball pro, though!

Bart Cummings

Renowned equally for his magnificent, bushy white eyebrows and his status as Australia’s most successful horse trainer, Cummings is an Australian larrikin through and through. The trainer has won the Melbourne Cup a record twelve times, and continues to be a formidable presence on the racing scene to this day. The longevity displayed by Cummings is unquestionably impressive; any corporate executive would be extremely happy to undertake such a long tenure at the peak of their field. Those wishing to develop skills in persistence and stoicism should seek advice from professional services such as Lucidity Coaching.

Laurie Lawrencecoaches-lawrence

For the youth of today, Lawrence is probably best known as the face of the annual “Kids Alive, Do The 5” advertising campaign – the jingle is very catchy. In his prime, though, he was a very driven coach, with swimmers under his tutelage winning thirty-three Olympic medals between them, and also attaining twenty-three world records. Lawrence’s amiable persona helped him to forge meaningful connections with professionals swimmers, as well as others affiliated with Swimming Australia.

Even following the end of his full-time role as a swim coach, Lawrence continued to work for many years with the Australian swimming team, aiming to inspire and motivate them. The high regard in which he continues to be held is evidenced by the success of his eponymous chain of swim schools. In order to attain similarly impressive leadership skills, and to establish a meaningful rapport with workmates and the wider world, individuals could consider enrolling in small business coaching in Perth. It’s unlikely that you’ll emerge with your own line of successful swimming pools – but you never know.