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Bob Bowman Became The Dean Of Pool Swimming

Michael Phelps describes the 400m individual medley as the decathlon of pool swimming.

It certainly is as the race of 100 meters each of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle is a gut-wrenching, lactate-producing 4+ minutes of immense pain.

Today, the world’s top pool swimmer, Frenchman Leon Marchand, broke the longest-standing world record held by the most venerable Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, in his most dominant event. With Phelps announcing the race live for American television audiences, Marchand shattered Phelps’ record by 1.3 seconds (4:02.50 versus 4:03.84). During the telecast, Marchand was so far ahead of Phelps’ world record mark, the only issue was how much was he going to break the record.

Coincidentally (or not), Marchand has trained under Phelps’ former coach Bob Bowman at Arizona State University since 2021. Similar to Phelps, Marchand is strong is every stroke, but Marchand’s command over his competitors in his NCAA seasons has been otherworldly.

So Bowman, the coach of the greatest American swimmer (Phelps), is now using his coaching techniques and program to coach the greatest French swimmer (Marchand) to break Phelps’ most proudly held world record.

This allegiance to fast swimming very much reminds us of Penny Lee Dean and her protege, Chad Hundeby, in the open water.

As the 400m individual medley is considered the decathlon of pool swimming, the English Channel is considered the Mount Everest of open water swimming.

Similar to how Phelps rewrote the history books with his domination of the 400m IM, Dean as an athlete rewrote the English Channel record – inclusive of both men and women – by swimming from England to France in 7 hours 40 minutes on July 29th 1978. Like Marchard’s eye-opening 400m IM record today, Dean shattered the world record held by Nasser Elshazly by 65 minutes (7 hours 40 minutes to 8 hours 45 minutes).

And similar to Bowman with Phelps and Marchand, Dean [shown below] took her experience, know-how, and skills to guide Hundeby to a world record in the English Channel in 1994.

But in a unique twist, Dean coached Hundeby [shown below] to break her own world record. Hundeby dropped the world standard from Dean’s 7 hours 40 minutes to 7 hours 17 minutes on September 27th 1994. As Bowman stood cheering his charges from the pool deck at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the case of Phelps and Marchand on the pool deck of the 2023 World Aquatic Championships today, Dean swam to one world record and was sitting focused on the escort boat of Hundeby 16 years later.

© 2023 Daily News of Open Water Swimming

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