2011 Junior World Championships

Below is Rick Guenther's travel journal from his August, 2011 trip to Lima, Peru.  Rick traveled as a coach for the USA Junior National team and Jacob Pebley competed for the team at the Junior World Championships. The first entry of the trip is at the bottom of this page.


The final night of competition was quite the experience.  Here we go. Turns out that USA gear is huge.  The entire facility exchanges team apparel, but everyone wants the USA gear.  Teams from everywhere are trading whatever they can for a USA shirt or cap. I think Jacob and I traded nothing.

Jacob got the evening off to a great start winning gold in the 200 back breaking the meet and OSI record.  This final swim clenched him the title of high point male for the meet.  USA Swimming had a number of wonderful swims.  My room mates swimmer was second in the high point standings.  The 400 Medley Relays were the final events of the night. An explosion of excitement in the facility.  Jacob lead off the mens relay which broke the meet record and took home the gold in a close race, down to the wire, with Japan.  The women not to be out done had an amazing finish taking home the silver.  From here the closing of the meet accelerates.  

During the awards ceremony Jacob picks up the high point.  From there it continued to be TEAM USA for the next 6 awards.  Everyone is aware of medal counts at large meets.  Did you know that they keep a team score at all large meets? And that TEAM USA has not lost a meet in about 50 years.  By the time they get to the end of the awards TEAM USA is still hanging around, most of the teams have left and a small contingent is hanging out from Japan and Russia.  A jacked up Peruvian band is playing on the deck.  They invite all of TEAM USA on to the deck, along with the remaining teams.  This leads into playing and dancing with the band followed by a congo line down to the starting end of the pool.  That leads to a giant gathering and of course the cheer of U-S-A repeated over and over again.  Next thing we know kids are jumping into the pool fully clothed or in shorts or swim suit and three quarters of the team is in the pool under the flags cheering and screaming.  The energy goes from the pool to the bus and of course into the hotel.  The punch line.  Jacob was in drug testing throughout the entire celebration.  He will see the pictures. (My room mate just said "I cannot believe we have been here for 7 days and we have not seen the sun once). Tomorrow we get to see more than downtown Lima.  Six hours of playing tourist then an 11:00 pm flight out of Lima.


Last night Jacob's 50 back was quite the swim.  After the start his surface/breakout put him in 7th or 8th.  He is in lane 5 in the middle of the pool.  Over the next 35 meters he was able to run down the entire field except for the individual from Germany in lane 4.  He was building on him and needed another 2 meters or so.  A spectacular second half.  So he won silver in 25.7.  I think his best time last year was 27.1.  Tonight TEAM USA maintained their lead in the medal count and ended with a gold in the women's 400 free relay.  They actually keep team points at every major competition.  Team USA is first by over a 100 points.  During every warm-up the facility plays, on a giant screen TV, MTV videos.  Swimmers from all different nations are singing along.  Tomorrow Jacob has the 200 back and 400 medley relay on the final day of the meet.  Heres to a great finish.


Well that was interesting.  Not in a sort of dramatic way. When we first arrived some flight attendants had warned us about the level of theft in Lima.  Two days ago a large group of us ventured off the main road dropping into this large market place covered by corrugated metal sheets. One of the members of our group tried to take a picture and was told not to by a police officer.  The market was quite the tacky assortment of merchandise.  Today we a long walk to a different market place to purchase items for our family members.  On the return back to the hotel we ended up getting quite lost and saw a lot of Lima.  After turning right then left, seeing a blue church, then left and right again, look at that another blue church, a little straight then another left and another blue church, asking a couple of police officers how to get back to the Sheraton, we found it off in the distance.  Nothing like a little exercise in South America.  Off to finals and the 50 backstroke.


By now everyone has heard about the gold medal performance put down by Jacob.  He did a great job of accelerating/building the finish to the race.  A new CAT/OSI record.  He is number one in the world.  Everyone who was ranked above him, was in the race.  Tonight was the best night yet for TEAM USA winning gold in the mens 800 free, mens 100 fly and womens 100 free.  Jacob had a solid semi-final 50 back finishing in 25.9. Going into finals tomorrow night in 2nd place. He has some improvements to make. _________________________________________________________________________________

Yesterday Team USA did an excellant job of getting everyone into finals.  Two swimmers per event.  Very impressive.  The finals evening started with a 1 hour opening ceremony. Very festive displaying the colors and various cultures of Peru.  58 countrys participating, showing 58 flags.  

Something new for everyone to learn about international swimming.  In the 50 & 100 events you swim prelims in the morning, then the top 16 swimmers compete in semifinals at night.  The top 8 semifinalists swim in finals 24 hours later. Yesterday morning Jacob finished 2nd overall.  In the semifinals he remained 2nd.  Tomorrow night an Italian gentlemen will be in lane 4, Jacob in 5, Jack from the USA in 3 and the top seed going into the meet, from Japan, in 6. There are of course other high level athletes in all of the remaining lanes.  Should be fun.  The evening ended in spectacular form as the men's 400 free Relay was a great race with the US coming out on top and the women's 800 free relay also winning gold way out in front with a new meet record.


A regular day today.  Practice was from 9:30 to 11:00.  Then off to lunch, and of course how about a little adventure.  So here is the image.  Three, very caucasian, US coaches, walking through the streets of Lima.  Not another caucasian, let alone tourist, in sight. I by the way was wearing my USA Swimming shirt.  I am pretty sure every Peruvian was looking at us. They had warned us about theft, in all areas of town, and here I am with all of my valuables strapped to my back.  We were turning left, then right, then maybe left again.  Enough to get me completely turned around.  One older gentleman asked if we were Italian or French, I responded in a very weak french accent, FRANCEE'.  Again, cannot wait until the meet starts.


Jacob flew out of PDX on Friday morning the 12 around 6:00, flying through Houston.  I followed him a day later on the same route.  On the flight from Houston to Lima Peru I sat with anticipation as the seat next to me sat empty with the plane ready to take off. I started to expand my little area preparing for the extra room for the flight when the flight attendant said that this cute 4 foot 10 inch, 70+ year old Peruvian lady, was going to sit next to me for the flight.  For the next hour or two we sat quietly enjoy the flight when it was time to talk.  Her english was weak and my spanish was weaker. I think she thought it would be a good time for me to learn the whole spanish language.  You know, in preparation for Peru.  As I gave bewildering looks as to what she was saying on occasions, she would frequently say, "REPEAT", and I would struggle through the next spanish lesson.  

On the ground it was time to go through customs.  Of course I was the only one, that I saw, that did not fill out the forms correctly so I had to step out of the huge line, to complete what I had messed up. 

From there is was off to the bus.  That was fun and interesting.  You could see the teams from France, Bermuda, Italy, Kuwait, all boarding either the same bus or adjacent buses.  All dressed in their team attire. 

Going through LIma was eye opening.  A very busy city.  At this point it is pushing midnight and people are strewn everywhere.  Cars are honking and swerving.  Some buildings are barely standing, sitting next to beautiful structures.  

The whole athletic experience to the trip is something different.  You are not only there with 41 USA Swimming athletes, but the entourage that goes with them.  Eight coaches, three managers, two USA Swimming specialists, one doctor, a USA Swimming trip organizer and the National Team Director.  It is very fun.  Around the hotel are teams from all over the world.  Last night the USA swimmers were talking, flittering, with the Japanese team.  Australia and Great Britain are there.  We keep in close communication with Canada.  We share bus rides with swimmers from Turkey, Brazil and Singapore.  This of course is just the tip of the ice berg and leads into two swims a day with all of these teams in a 50 meter and 25 meter facility.  

There is a two hour difference between Oregon and Peru.  The meet starts Tuesday morning, Peru time.  Finals are at 6:00.  The staff and swimmers are chomping at the bit to get started.