well, we made it! it’s the last night of competition and the big man is back again to swim at night; moving up from a ranked #19 in the 200 BR he sits at #14, and back to swim in consoles tonight!
after a swim of 1:56.06 in the morning there is good news: that is his best time, a new school record, and best of all, there is a lot of room for improvement! he had a lot of long walls, pulled an age-group move (ie spying on other swimmers during his pull-outs), and had an exceptionally bad wall at turn #7.
this aside, he was more relaxed and i think swimming with a bit less pressure this morning, so i think tonight will go even better. his heat is fairly wide open, with the heat separated by less than 1 second, so we feel that tonight could be anyone’s game.
the best news is that we’ve over come the pressure of the morning swims, repeated times when it mattered, and most importantly, have earned the right to say that he is an all-american breaststroker!
i can’t wait to cheer for the big guy tonight, to watch carlos from L’Ville try to defend against KC of arizona, and to be a part of the fastest meet in the world. it has been a pleasure, and and honor, to coach at Penn this year, and it is on the shoulders of this audience that we reach for that golden ring.
thank you all for your support, thank you my breaststroke group for your hard work and dedication, and thank you Penn swimming for allowing me a place to work with you, coach you, and (hopefully) inspire you to reach for things you never thought possible.
i bid you farewell, unless of course MC and i go out tonight, come back to the hotel feeling verbose, and publish a spirited post.
it’s a funny thing, a half a second. can an arbitrary number be the true judge of a man or a woman? what is the nature of joy, disappointment, and (perceived) worth at a moment when 0.50 means so much?
i brought a book with me on this trip containing 2 shorts stories by joseph conrad, “the secret sharer” and “heart of darkness”. from the SS, a quote: …”but i wondered how far i should turn out faithful to that ideal conception of one’s own personality every man sets up for himself secretly.”
in thinking about tonight, about the cresendo of fate and destiny, about the many years of hard work that lead to this moment, how can i ever doubt for an instant that half a second makes brendan a lesser version of himself?! in my mind it does not, however i don’t know what invisible man sits on his shoulder, and thus this entry is for him.
brendan has pushed himself towards the pursuit of pure truth, which at the core of my own thoughts, is what the perfect swim becomes. in that swim, no pain is felt, time slows, and rather than moving through the water, the athlete slips between the water, and that barrier that once separated the animate from the inanimate blurs.
when one strives for pure truth, for ultimate knowledge, or a true movement, there are often hundreds (or thousands!) of ways they can miss that mark, and sometimes only 1 or 2 ways to attain it. in this way, asking yourself to be the absolute best you can be, at every opportunity time and time again, takes physical discipline, mental fortitude, and psychic strength.
the environment tonight was, as they say, electric; glory, that scarcest of resources, was at a premium, and only destiny and the fates knew what athlete was to receive it. there was pressure and expectation, there was competition and rivalry, there was one versus many.
in a place like this, with so much energy, no one is every quite sure what will happen. the surest of swimmers may be in question (corey chitwood), the largest of dreams squandered (sam metz), and the boldest attempts awarded (tom shields).
in truth that half a second slower does not, nor can it ever, take the vision, the toil, and the pure courage to pursue greatness away from brendan. we may all think we know him, but there are recesses inside him that no man or woman can ever know, and it would be to those recesses this entry is addressed to. the journey to get here, the experience and the sacrifice, and all the tests passed prove that this half second means less and less the more i think about it. brendan, i would argue the (your) pursuit of glory on a public scale is an act of pure faith and heroism straight out of ancient Greece or Rome.
this is why a number, to a certain point, is just a number. let us all step out of the confines of the human need to define and construct reality, and imagine that there were no clocks at this meet. yes, i know it’s a long stretch (just go with it footy…), but were there no clocks at all at this meet, there would be no question at all that at the end of the day he was still a champion among other champions.
brendan, i salute you and i am deeply proud of you, and there are so many other people who feel the same way. you are one of the best american breaststrokers of all time, and at NCAA’s you have allowed all who know you to share in your greatness. after all that is why athletics will always be valid….it gives the spectator a platform to safely dream of grandeur and glory.
to all of us at Penn, and for those who have coached you, helped you develop as an age-grouper, or supported you as family or friends, we ask you to enjoy your accomplishments!! the last act of a true champion it to be forgiving and open with oneself - be proud of yourself! smile as you must of as a tri-county champion, or smile as you must have to break brendan hansen’s pool record. in short, revel in all you have done!
we are proud of you, we believe in you now, as we always have, and we are so inspired at your pursuit of immortality. it gives us hope that one day we can be as brave, strong, and capable as you are. thank you for sharing this experience with us, you have galvanized our resolve and we love you for it.
we shall awaken again tomorrow and seek vengeance on that half second, double down, and see if we can take one whole second back in the next race. for that is the last thing champions are known for, the will and tenacity to endure when others fade.
brendan patrick mchugh, smile!! be proud and know that once more you shall rise to meet the challenges of a new day with so many fans, supporters, and believers behind you. you can never let us down, and a measly half a second doesn’t mean shit to us in the scope of admiration for the way you live the other millions of seconds in your life.
DS, MC, MS, PSD, family & friends
Mt. Rainier appears from behind the clouds! It is quite a stunning view from our hotel room. It dominates the landscape. Quite badass!
just seconds ago, literally, the clouds parted and for the first time i saw exactly how awesome mount rainier is. it is quite simply massive; a natural wonder to inspire all those around it, and of course, a perfect segue into a highlight on this morning’s session.
the journey to the top of a mountain, to the completion of a degree, or to arrive at a meet like Division 1 NCAA’s always begins years prior, but once achieved, the view from the peak is always worth the struggle.
this mornings session, for brendan, was a positive one; he was 1:47.5, which is just half a second off his best time, and the school record. he learned a bit about swimming his own race here, but all in all, his BR split was highly competitive with the field and that’s what we are here for. he was also the best individual placing ivy league swimmer this morning, which is also great news for him and for Penn.
the true test is tomorrow, and from what i know of brendan, he will be ready. his resolve is firm, and his perspective remains, regardless of the strength of this field. akin to a man inspired by the peak of a huge mountain, we all feel ready to rise the challenge of competing (well) at one of the fastest meets in the world.
the goal is simple…..to make it back tomorrow night in the top 8, earning both all-american status and serious points for Penn. as usual, we will keep you posted, and do our best to capture the essence of the meet from his (and our) perspective.
Article on Brendan in the Daily Pennsylvanian
Well we just left the big guy’s room for the evening. We can report he is in great spirits and ready to compete tomorrow. It has become obvious that the hard work he has put in over the last year, but maybe more importantly a solid dinner from the Olive Garden and winding down with the Green Lantern movie has prepped him well for tomorrow!
Stay tuned for more updates from the pool deck.
Let’s go B-Mac!
We have arrived!
Is Schupsky going to tame this bird or does he plan to eat it for dinner? Unknown…