Swimmer Camp

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It's about more than just the torch.

The Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games are characterized by a riot of flags, banners and other symbols of national pride. It's a celebration of diversity, of the color and variety each nation brings to the Olympiad.

At face value, it's a noble concept. Appreciation of difference is crucial in a world that continues to get smaller and smaller.

But not everyone sees this as wholly positive, particularly Mike Bottom, Cal's assistant men's swimming coach.

"Olympic nationalism doesn't do anything do break down barriers," Bottom said. "It does more to reinforce them than anything else."

The way Bottom sees it, each athlete must shoulder the weight of national pride as he represents his country against the rest of the world. In the end, the flags and national colors and international rivalries do more to divide the competition than unite the world in a celebration of athletic excellence.

Enter Sprint Team 2000.

It's not a fancy name. Not even that catchy. But it's very honest, and simple enough to put forth its one goal: training sprinters.

And that means any sprinters. Not just Cal sprinters, not just American sprinters. Any sprinter who feels up to training in Arizona's 100-plus degree dry heat can join in on Bottom's project.

"It's a very Berkeley twist," Bottom said. "The idea is to have three of four guys in the finals in Sydney and have them all rooting for each other.

"It's swimming out of camaraderie, nothing more. These guys are on the same team in spirit and if you think about the way they've bonded - that is a true international movement."

In addition to last season's sprint squad from Cal - Bart Kizierowski, Scott Greenwood, Matt Macedo and Anthony Ervin - the roster of Sprint Team 2000 lists two U.S. nationals. John Olson, the 1996 U.S. Olympic men's team captain and four-time gold medalist, and Gary Hall, Jr., who won two golds and two silvers for the U.S. in Atlanta, are training with the Bears swimmers in the desert.

The U.S. swimmers are joined by Gordan Kozulj, a recent Cal alumnus and member of the Croatian national team, Francisco Sanchez, a three-time World Champion and Brazilian sprint specialist, and Julio Santos and Felipe Delgado, Ecuador's respective national champions in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle. Kizierowski will compete for Poland at the upcoming Olympic games.

"Right now, our guys are really in the best shape of all of them," Bottom said. "The older guys aren't used to holding the same kind of speed, but our guys just finished up a season."

The older crowd has been working hard to make up for lost time. Most college-level training programs will do "doubles" or "triples," meaning two swim workouts a day, plus some time in the weight room.

At Bottom's "sprinting colony," as Cal head coach Nort Thornton describes it, the athletes are doing quadruples. The daily regimen for Sprint Team 2000 is an early morning stretching/dry land/swimming workout from 8:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., weights from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., then another water workout from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.

The team has been training in Arizona for almost a month. Sprint Team 2000 ventures out of the desert this week for a meet in Mission Viejo, Calif., then returns to Grand Canyon State until the middle of July. Then it's off to the Janet Evans meet hosted by USC and a short stint in Berkeley before the U.S. Olympic Trials in August.

"I hope this is the next concept when it comes to the Olympics," Bottom said of his training philosophy. "Teams based not on countries, but on different schools of thought with regard to training."


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