Pat Forde

  • A father's pride: From neighborhood swim meets to the Olympic Trials

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 6 hrs ago

    We went to the neighborhood swim meet Monday. There were the usual comic catastrophes.

    The boy who was trying to swim butterfly with his goggles rolled down under his nose. The girl with her cap on sideways. The 8-and-under who dove in and swam the wrong stroke. The crying 6-year-olds.

    Years ago, those kids were my kids – crying over cold water and bursting with pride when they won a heat ribbon. Watching that and remembering those days, it’s hard to grasp the reality of where they are now.

    Specifically, they are in Omaha for the Olympic Swim Trials – the Super Bowl of American swimming. Representing the Lakeside Seahawks of Louisville, Ky., my 17-year-old daughter, Brooke, and 19-year-old son, Clayton, will compete in the 400-meter individual medley Sunday in front of as many as 14,000 people. Brooke also will compete later in the week in the 200 IM, 200 butterfly and 200 breaststroke. Oldest son Mitchell, a swimmer at the University of Missouri, narrowly missed qualifying and will be working for USA Swimming during the Trials in a journalistic role.

    And I really don’t know how to act.

    But this? This is the biggest sporting event of my life. By far.

     

  • U.S. swimmers 'not' confident Rio will be clean of doping

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago

    OMAHA, Neb. — The first day of interviews at the U.S. Olympic Trials for swimming very quickly became a discussion on doping.

    Two-time American Olympian Elizabeth Beisel was asked whether she was confident the Rio de Janeiro Games would be clean. Her response: "No, I'm not. I'm definitely not."

    David Marsh, who will coach the U.S. women's team in Rio, said, "We've a long way to go. We are not at a point where we can say that there are no drugs in our sport, there's no cheaters in our sport, and I think until we do it's inherent that we all keep calling for it, and we all keep looking for ways to create a level, fair playing field of real human being performance."

    And that was before everyone heard the news Friday afternoon that the World Antidoping Association had suspended the Rio laboratory that was set to handle drug testing at the Olympics come August.

    So there is pronounced concern about how fair the competition will be in Rio. But nobody was announcing any concerns about the cleanliness of the Trials, which begin Sunday.

  • How tulips led to Matt Grevers' American Olympic story

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago

    For two decades, America has dominated the world in men’s backstroke. The United States has won every 100-meter back gold medal in the last five Olympics.

    The most recent continuation of this hegemony has its roots in an unlikely place: tulips.

    Yes, the flower.

    If it weren’t for the tulip acumen developed as a third-generation Dutch flower farmer, Ed Grevers would not have earned an internship in a floricultural research exchange program at Michigan State University in 1970-71. “Typical Dutch knowledge – wooden shoes, dikes, tulip bulbs,” Ed joked.

    If he hadn’t beaten out competition from hundreds of other applicants from The Netherlands for that internship, he would not have left the small town of Wasenaar for the U.S. If he hadn’t come to the U.S., he would not have applied for a job after that internship as a flower-bulb grower in Chicago – he was the only person who answered the ad. If he hadn’t gotten that job, he wouldn’t have been able to stay in America.

    Grevers bloomed where he was planted. On American soil.

    Matt Grevers did not inherit his father’s green thumb.

    But Matt did immerse himself in the family’s other primary interest: swimming.

    Grevers said he never thought about it.

  • The controversial Michael Andrew Experiment: Is insular upbringing hurting swimmer?

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    The Michael Andrew Experiment reaches a critical stage next week.

    The kid who was the youngest American swimmer ever to turn pro will compete in his first Olympic Trials in Omaha. He reportedly will swim five events and is unlikely to make the U.S. team, but figures to have a puncher’s chance in the 100-meter breaststroke. Beyond that, this meet will serve as something of a referendum on how one of the most controversial parent-child relationships in American youth sports is going.

    Andrew is 17 now, but he was 14 when he signed his first endorsement contract with a nutrition supplement manufacturer. There has been a lot of age-group records broken, a lot of media attention (by swimming standards) and a lot of arched eyebrows within the sport ever since.

    Andrew is a very good swimmer with the potential for greatness. But is he getting great guidance and coaching within the bubble his parents have constructed around him?

    No teammates. No classmates. Turned pro two years younger than Michael Phelps – who was much more accomplished when he first got paid than Andrew was then or is today.

  • Meet Maya DiRado, the 'late-blooming' phenom who could star for U.S. in Rio

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago

    Maya DiRado has lived her life on an accelerated timetable.

    She skipped second grade because it wasn’t challenging enough. She was 13 when she went to high school, 15 when she got a perfect SAT math score and 17 when she entered Stanford. She got married at 22. Now 23, she has a high-powered job as a business analyst with McKinsey & Company in Atlanta waiting for her in September.

    But this poster child for precocity is paradoxically behind the phenom curve when it comes to the one thing that could make her an American darling this summer: swimming.

    The sport has long been a breeding ground for female teen stars. Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin were household names and gold medalists four years ago as high schoolers. Elizabeth Beisel, age 23 like DiRado, has made the past two American Olympic teams. Allison Schmitt was 18 when she swam in the Beijing Games.

    DiRado? Not quite. Her swimming timetable was always a tick too slow.

    “In age-group swimming there’s always some kid who is extremely fast, and everyone would go, ‘Ooooh, she’s really fast,’ “ said Maya’s father, Ruben. “She was never that kid. She was the kid who would lose to that kid.”

    Popular Olympics video on Yahoo Sports:

  • Baylor faction's post-Art Briles turmoil shows ugly side of college fandom

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

     

    Nobody knows exactly what percentage of Baylor fans and alums oppose the sweeping administrative changes the school undertook in late May to correct abject failures of leadership and conscience in the wake of multiple violent acts by football players in recent years.

    But we do know that those people exist. And they are not going away. Specifically, we know that a faction of the school’s backers appear to be tangibly more upset by the loss of their winning football coach than the physical and psychological damage done to several women by Bears players.

    Regardless what did or did not transpire on that call, some powerful and connected Baylor people want their winning coach back.

    Then there is the Twitter account that sprang to life earlier this month, @BayloRevolution. It links to a blog of the same name. In a post dated June 2, it lists the following reason for its existence:

    “Baylor Revolution is a blog about one thing: change. It's time for change. It's time to fight for Baylor.

    “The spirits of old Baylor will not stand for it any longer. It's time for the Baylor Revolution.”

    Oh, yeah. Them.

    Noble. And notably tardy.

  • One last time, Muhammad Ali came to the people

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 15 days ago

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – One last time, Muhammad Ali came to the people. And the people came to him.

    They began coming to Grand Avenue, site of Ali’s boyhood home, shortly after sunrise Friday. Mostly media and cops and T-shirt vendors at first, but then the pilgrims began to arrive.

    B.J. Poole and her family unfolded their camping chairs and sat down next to the curb on Grand at 7:45 a.m. They drove six hours from Decatur, Ga., Thursday to be here in time for this, Ali’s funeral procession, a marathon route through his hometown.

    “I’m doing this for my daddy,” said Poole, a hair stylist. “My father loved this man. When he fought, you had to watch, and when he spoke, you had to listen. He was an outspoken person. He was bold. He was fierce.”

    Before too long a German television crew happened upon Poole and her family.

    “You tell everybody in Germany we said hello,” she said, waving to the camera. “We are saying goodbye to The Champ.”

    Driving in from Georgia to sit in the sun on a hot day and watch a hearse and several limousines roll past for a minute or two – that speaks to the depth of feeling for Muhammad Ali.

    But then you meet Dipo Akabashorun, and you really appreciate what this all means.

  • Muhammad Ali's hometown of Louisville mourns its legendary son

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 21 days ago

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Muhammad Ali was the ultimate global citizen, but only one place can claim having him first.

    Ali's hometown mourns today. It mourns the passing of its favorite son, its finest product, its fabled hero. He was the greatest of all time – as he routinely told the masses – and also the greatest of all Louisvillians, a child of modest means and moderate education who blossomed into an unprecedented and unduplicated worldwide phenomenon.

    Every transformative person started somewhere. For Muhammad Ali, that place was 3302 Grand Ave.

    [Dan Wetzel: Among legends, Muhammad Ali was 'The Legend']

    The slate-gray skies opened and rain fell on the pink house here Saturday, providing apt context for a grieving city. As word spread through the night that Ali had died at age 74, the pilgrimage began.

    But if you wanted to go back to the beginning, you went to Grand Avenue.

    More Yahoo Sports coverage on Muhammad Ali's life:

  • Big 12 ended bad week with another dumb decision

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 22 days ago

    The Big 12 doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up.

    If it grows up. If it survives.

    The least stable of the Power 5 conferences concluded its annual spring meetings Friday in a state of flux, which is also the way it started the annual spring meetings. That shouldn't have been a surprise, given the presence of three interim school presidents and one school (Baylor) embroiled in a crippling scandal that culminated last week in mass leadership change.

    But even by the Big 12's customary crackpot standards, this was a weird week.

    The championship game was the big news Friday. Like most else involving the Big 12, it doesn't make a lot of sense.

    The playoff is only a good idea for two reasons: It will make money (of course) and it will theoretically strengthen the College Football Playoff résumé of the champion (I guess).

    Those are counterbalanced by some compelling reasons not to have a playoff:

    This is a conference which already has a round-robin schedule: 10 teams, nine league games, every team plays every other, every year. It's perfect. Except now they're going to force a rematch of a regular-season game, because the consultants say so.

  • Breaking down 8 schools dreaming of crashing the Big 12 (if Texas allows expansion)

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 24 days ago

    LAS COLINAS, Texas – Expansion Watch is on at the Big 12 meetings. This was clear when writers from media outlets in Orlando, Memphis, Houston and Cincinnati showed up Wednesday to keep vigil and find out whether the hometown universities have a fighting chance at the golden ticket out of mid-majordom: a Power 5 upgrade.

    The 10-member league is not expected to vote or take any tangible steps toward expansion at these meetings. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby set a vague deadline of the “end of summer” for the Big 12 to decide what it wants to do. But that didn’t stop the dreamers from dreaming.

    This, however, might: “The prudent thing for us to do as a conference is stay where we are. That’s my personal opinion.”

    That was the quote from Texas athletic director Mike Perrin. And when Texas talks, it’s prudent to listen.

    The man driving the Big 12 expansion bus has been Oklahoma president David Boren, with West Virginia president Gordon Gee riding shotgun. The presidents will get down to business here Thursday and Friday, so we will see what they have to say – but Boren has slowed his rhetorical roll recently.

    “I think we kind of got out ahead of ourselves,” Boren said in mid-May.

    Perrin noticed.