Let’s care about Swimming again like we did in ‘08



A moron left an idiotic comment on my Washington Times.com exclusive with Washington Wizards/Capitals owner Ted Leonsis last sumemr And within that comment is an inaccurate phrase that reminded me of what’s become of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’ star power these days.

This buffoon brought up “Michael Phelps’ crack-smoking episode.” It was marijuana, not crack, get it right! But it makes me realize how low Phelps’ Q Rating must currently be.

People have actually forgotten which illegal narcotic he was busted for using! It can’t be. Michael Phelps and the Beijing water cube was ALL that people talked about three summers ago.

I remember that popularity spike in lap-swimming, the “Beijing Bump.” It didn’t last, and now it’s a sport no one cares about other than me. Well, here’s one other person who does. To be truthful, Phelps wasn’t the best spokesperson for my favorite sport. I got to attend one of his press conferences for Chicago 2016; and it was BORING.

The Soviet Union, or even worse the Chicago Bears, would be proud of the way Phelps’ handlers and the IOC controlled the message that September 2008 day. And Phelps’ Saturday Night Live hosting gig was to making you laugh what Tara Reid is to being sober


Ok, so obviously swimming’s greatest hero had no charisma, and his 15 minutes of fame are on suspension until 2012, but seriously why am I the only person who enjoys this individual sport? Even when you’re competing on a team relay, it’s really still an individual sport.

Is it because I’m a water sign? (reminding me of Rodney Dangerfield’s classic line in Back to School “my ex-wife was an Earth sign, and I’m a water sign, together we made mud!”)

And I live in a building with two cross-streets named after water.

Or is it because I supposedly drink a ridiculous amount of water every day? (I learned this fact about myself in college when the Lockport (again a nautical name) girls in room 906 on my dorm floor noticed that I was always at the water fountain (located outside their door) and nicknamed me “Aqua Man.”

And the only other nickname that’s ever stuck to me is Magellan (which has more to do with my subpar navigational skills, but still a man of the sea) Even my surname literally means “one who lives near a river embankment.” No wonder all the paintings in my home are seascapes.

Maybe it’s just because swimming is the most physically rewarding sport, and it’s an aerobic activity I can get into even on mornings when I’m sluggish. Because once you’re in the water, it wakes you right up! And given that my feet and hands are way too big for the rest of my body, I was built to swim, not dribble a basketball. My big feet cause me to have a Clark W. Griswold sense of balance on land, but they act as flippers in the water. Ever see a sea turtle struggle on the beach, but then also cruise and soar in the water?

I have, it’s beautiful and graceful.

“I like turtles.”

It’s sort of like reading a football scouting report about a player and what he can do “in space.” I hate that term because we’re all in space, all the time. Some kind of space anyway.

Whoah dude, you’re talking about space man! But me, I’m “in water,” that’s where I feel at home.

I LOVE swimming outdoors, and if you don’t do it regularly, you don’t know what you’re missing. I’ll even deal with the dirty polluted Lake Michigan water when the beaches are open. And seeing all the people walking by downtown on shore, with the giant skyscrapers behind them, is a transcendent experience. When I’m at one with nature, yet my Capital of the World is just a few strokes away. To quote Jamiroquai “I know this corner of the Earth, it smiles at me.”

And this is why I loved Vancouver so much, the immediate juxtaposition of city and nature. Most people go to the beach only for fun. My trips to the beach are like a mullet, “business in front, party in the back.”

And the added resistance from the Lake Michigan waves and tides exhilarate me. I enjoy working against the awesome power of the element that covers 2/3rds of the Earth. On the Michigan side, I love the even higher waves and more temperate water near the beaches. The West Michigan Whitecaps (single A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers) just might have my favorite logo (pictured) in all of sports. It’s the feminine mystique of Mother Nature.whitecaps_swimming

And I enjoy swimming in outdoor pools as well; even with the annoying, screaming kids constantly obstructing your lap lane. Seriously, you want birth control? Just go to a community pool on a hot day.

Maybe it’s time I do another swim portion of a Triathlon relay. Completing it is a rush, and if you’re not into this sport, you just don’t know what you’re missing.

And Michael Phelps, YOU SUCK as an ambassador to “our sport.” But pass the bong dude. And we should put some Jamiroquai on and order some pokey sticks too man, this essay ended up being a bit trippy.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports You can follow him on Twitter


  1. Donna Banks says

    Hooray for swimmers. Swimming is therapy, swimming is freedom. No expensive quipment needed…..bathing suit, towel, googles and you’re good to go.

  2. paulmbanks says

    Exactly, most people jsut have no idea what they’re missing. It’s like flying, but flying in the water instead of the sky. Dude, that’s deep man

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