We’re getting aquatic on this episode, sharing Team USA Media Summit interviews with all sorts of swimming athletes. We’ve got (athlete links are Instagram accounts–follow them!):

Water Polo

  • Ben Hallock – Captain of the U.S. Men’s Water Polo team. Paris 2024 will be his third Olympics
  • Maggie Steffens – Captain of the U.S. Women’s Water Polo team. Paris 2024 will be her fourth Olympics
  • Ashleigh Johnson – Goalie for the U.S. Women’s Water Polo team. Paris 2024 will be her third Olympics


  • Bobby Finke – Olympic gold medalist, 800m freestyle; also swims the 1500m freestyle
  • Lydia Jacoby – Olympic gold medalist, 100m breaststroke

Lydia was an upset winner in her race — and the commentators were duly surprised:



Artistic Swimming

Paris 2024 was supposed to be a groundbreaking Olympics for artistic swimming, as men would be allowed to compete in the team competition for the first time at an Olympics. The Italian team did not pick Giorgio Minisini in their final team selection. Last Saturday, U.S. Artistic Swimming did not include sport pioneer Bill May on its final roster–a shock to us.

U.S. Swimming Trials start this weekend. If you’re heading to Indianapolis for them, let us know! Jill will be there for a few days and would love to meet some listeners! U.S. Diving Trials start on June 17 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

In Paris 2024 news, beware of ticketing scams! According to The Ticketing Business, French authorities have found hundreds of fraudulent sites claiming to have ticket inventory for the Olympics.

Also, Air France will have a pavilion at the Palais de Tokyo from July 27 to August 11. The pavilion is free, but if you’d like to eat some airplane food, that will cost you 85 euros. Reservations are required for the meal.

LA 2028 has announced its proposed addition to the Paralympic program: Para Climbing. The International Paralympic Committee will vote on this on June 26.

Also in future Games news, the International Olympic Committee Executive Board has approved France 2030 and Salt Lake City 2034 as the proposed hosts for the Winter Olympics. The IOC Session will vote on this ahead of Paris 2024.

In TKFLASTAN news we hear from:

  • Wheelchair tennis player David Wagner
  • Karate-ka Tom Scott
  • Sitting volleyball player Lora Webster
  • Former hurdler Dawn Harper-Nelson
  • Former diver Laura Wilkinson
  • Olympics travel expert Ken Hanscom, who was on a digital roundtable with listener David:


Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!


Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript and may contain errors. Please check its accuracy against the audio. Do not quote from the transcript; use the audio as the record of note.

345-In the Olympic Pool with Team USA

Theme Music

Jill: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. If you love the games, we are the show for you.

Each week we share stories from athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games. I’m your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co host, Alison Brown. Alison, hello, how are you?

Alison: I feel, once again, like I am both overdressed and underdressed for this show. Because I am not wearing any sparkles, I have no Nox gelatin in my hair, and yet I am fully clothed.

Jill: I’m, I’m following, but I’m not following.

Alison: Well, we’re heading back to the pool and you’re never fully clothed in the pool. Are you? No! No. Are you swimming in the

Jill: 1920s outfits? Wouldn’t that be great if they brought back those wool suits for artistic swimming? Ha ha ha ha! Try to fly with that thing on, baby!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! These big wool dresses just covering their ears!

Alison: Well, last week there was a video posted. I think we talked about it on the last show of the Indianapolis Colts mascot jumping into the pool because the trials are happening in Lucas Oil Stadium. And I got really worried about the Colts mascot drowning because of his suit getting waterlogged.

So I would just worry about drowning.

Jill: Well, then those lifeguards, the Olympic lifeguards would have a job, I guess you would say. We are back in the pool today to bring you the conversations we had with the Olympians and Olympic hopefuls we spoke to at the Team USA Media Summit.

Water Polo: Ben Hallock, Maggie Steffens, Ashleigh Johnson

Jill: First up, water polo. We’ve talked to Ben Hallock. Maggie Steffens and Ashleigh Johnson Johnson. Ben is heading to his third Olympics this time as captains of the men’s water polo team. Take a listen.

Alison: .

We talked to Tony Acevedo before Tokyo, so how many suits do you wear? I wear one or two, uh, depending

Ben Hallock: on who I’m playing against.

Alison: Okay, so who do you need two for?

Ben Hallock: Oh, goodness. You can contest. Probably the Eastern European teams. Which is mostly what you’re Which is mostly against the competition, for sure.

Um, but you know, teams like Serbia, Hungary, Croatia maybe. A little more physical teams. Um, I might wear two.

Jill: Does anybody look at you and go, I gotta wear two suits?

Ben Hallock: No, I would say the position I play is probably a little more physical, just a little more vulnerable in terms of body positioning in the pool.

Um, so I’m probably the only one who will do it.

Alison: So is a center in water polo equivalent to, say, a center in hockey, a center in basketball? Yeah. Are you doing that same kind of really big physical stuff? Yeah, definitely the contact,

Ben Hallock: it’s sort of the body, you know, the banging. Um, and so it’s definitely very similar to something like basketball, but.

The thing is you can’t see half the sports, so there’s a lot of stuff going on that isn’t too pleasant. How much trash talking is there in water polo? Depends who you play and depends what languages you speak.

Jill: Okay. Um, What have you picked up?

Ben Hallock: I speak Italian decently well, so maybe if I was playing Italy, because I play professionally in Italy.

Um, so I don’t know if I would trash talk them so much just because a lot of them are my teammates. Um, but I, but I probably would.

Alison: So how does that work to your advantage and disadvantage when you play professionally with Italian players? And probably in that league it’s many international players. And then you go back and now they’re your

Ben Hallock: opponents.

Alison: But they know you very well as well.

Ben Hallock: Yeah, I would say It’s been nice because, again, I can learn things about them. And, yes, they do see me every day, but I also see all of them every day. So they’re just getting information just about me. I’ve gotten information about pretty much all of them. So it’s something that I play in Italy, I have teammates who play in Greece, in Spain.

So we kind of come together at the end of the year and depending who we’re playing, we sort of, you know, if, if we’re playing Italy, I’ll sort of talk about some of the players then if we’re playing in Greece, um, my teammate who plays in Greece, we’ll then talk about some of them, their tendencies. Um, so just scouting helps.

Alison: So the big focus of water polo are Serbia, Montenegro, that area of Croatia, that area of the world. How is playing professionally against all those guys, changing the American team?

Ben Hallock: Yeah, I think it just gives us confidence. Yeah. Um, because growing up, you know, you’re in the college system, and you’re, you know, you’re watching the world championships, and they’re winning everything, and you’re like, gosh, they’re so good, they’re so good, and then you get abroad, and you play against them, not just for the, for the national team, but when they’re playing on another club team, um, and I think it gives you confidence when you, you know, beat them, or you play against them, um, and so I would say that’s been the biggest game changer, just being able to be abroad and gain confidence, Um, so that when you do go back to the national team, you know who you’re playing against, you’re not looking at like these guys as if they’re, you know, unbeatable.

Jill: What does the opportunity to play professionally mean to you as an athlete coming from a country where, when will the water polo be able to be professional here? Yeah.

Ben Hallock: No, it give, like, gives you like another chance to sort of reinvent or, you know, prove yourself, um, within your sport because you could say that, you know, a lot of us had conquered water polo in the us, won a national championship or whatnot, but then you’re thrown into.

the Italian League or the European League. And you’re basically starting off at square zero again, having to, you know, you feel like you’re just, like, trying to make a team again. You’re fighting for that, for that, for a spot on the team, which I think is special. And once you get to, you’re an elite athlete, you don’t feel that very often.

Um, so it’s sort of given me a chance to sort of find, find a hunger, find a, find a meaning again, almost.

Alison: What is going to be success for the American team in Paris?

Ben Hallock: Um, a medal, a medal, any medal.

Alison: You’ve had enough of this. Yes.

Ben Hallock: Yes.

Alison: What’s going to be success for you as a player? Is it just medal or are you going to feel like if you do or don’t do something particular?

Ben Hallock: Um, it, you know, if the team succeeds, that’s, that’s going to be, that’s going to be my, um, even if I have the best tournament ever and we don’t get a medal, that’s going to be a failure in my mind as well. Um, but yeah, just, I think in order for the team to play, to, to get a medal, I’m going to have to play very well.

Um, just like most of the players on the team, but yeah, success of the team is the success of the individual as well.

Alison: Okay. Now Jill’s been asking about flexibility to all the men. So, but still, even for like a strength and speed sport, like water polo, you still have to be pretty limber and you are a very tall man.

And I made you make a face. So let’s, definitely not

Ben Hallock: my, my, my strong suit. Um, I don’t know why it never has been. And, and, I don’t know, I’ve just never been that flexible.

Alison: Because you’re very far from the ground. I know,

Ben Hallock: I know, I know. But yeah, that’s just something that’s, you know, I’m more flexible in certain things, like random, like my hips and random things just from the nature of the sport, but you ask me to touch my toes and I’m gonna be, you know, grimacing.

For sure.

Alison: Well, it’s a long way down. It’s a long way,

Ben Hallock: I know. And I have long arms, but they’re not that long. Why should Americans be watching water polo? To see an incredibly exciting, fast paced, physical sport. and, you know, watch the boys bring some hardware home.

Jill: How’s that rule change doing? Where they moved the

Ben Hallock: The two meters?

Yeah, they moved the line. No, it’s changed a lot. It’s basically changed the whole tactics of like 25 percent of the game. Um, you know, it’s basically, that’s sort of like an off sides rule. That they just sort of eliminated for most of the pool, unless you’re right in front of it. So imagine if in soccer, there was no offsides other than like just the box.

So now it’s just the box. So you can have guys being really deep on both sides and the offsides not really count. Um, change a lot, but it’s been a couple of years in, in progress now. So we all understand it pretty well.

Jill: Does it make the game more fun? How does it make it, how does it change the game for you?

Ben Hallock: I think they’ve been changing the rules a lot to, um, give an advantage to the offense. And then there was a thing that said more viewerships are going to be, you know, seeing more goals. Which is sort of tough because, I don’t know, you try to prioritize defense as a player, now they’re making all these rule changes where it makes it a lot harder.

Um, but it’s definitely made it a more exciting game, I think.

Alison: We’re going to be in Paris. Okay. We have a lot of places to go. Which match should we start with? Which, which, because the schedule is out. So where should I start when I come and watch you? I think,

Ben Hallock: I think the first game, Italy, whatever it is.

The first game against Italy. I would say that game.

Jill: Passionate, passionate fans. What? Will there be passionate fans in the stands? Oh yeah. Yeah,

Alison: there will be. It’ll be loud. And that’s going to be a hard match for me. Yeah. Because I’m a dual citizen. Really? Yes! Wow. But I don’t speak any Italian. Okay. So you’ll have to tell me what I should yell to trash talk.

I’m not going to say it. No, no, no. We have a PG rating. Please joke. Well, thank you very much, Ben. This has been great.

Jill: Thank you so much, Ben. Now we’ve got Maggie Steffens. She is the captain of the women’s water polo team in all three of her previous Olympics. The U S woman came away with gold. Take a listen to our time with Maggie.

Alison: Water polo legend. You’ve been doing this a long time. And the women’s game has grown tremendously. So talk a little bit about how it came about. and how the competition has changed and new

Maggie Steffans: countries coming up. Yeah, I mean, there’s been a ton of growth since I started. I joined the senior national team back in the fall of 2009.

So my first competitions were really in, in 2010 and back then, I mean, only eight teams in the Olympics and now we’ve got 10. So we’ll take it. I’m, I’m hoping and a part of some other athletes who are pushing for 12 to be equal with the men’s side. And the competition has just continued to rise. I think that this Olympic quad is probably the most competitive on the women’s side.

Um, which I’m happy about because in order to be the best, you got to beat the best and that’s what we’re seeing. You know, it’s. It’s been really tough and I’m excited to, to compete.

Jill: So it’s been a couple of years since this rule, the rule changed the offsides rule, the meter. Yeah. How has that affected the women’s game?

Maggie Steffans: So I definitely think the new rules have affected, uh, the game in an offensive way. I, I, from what it looks like, the rules tend to, um, favor more goals in the game. And if you follow sports, it’s what you’re seeing across the board. You know, um, People want to see goals. Whereas athletes, they want to prevent goals.

Like, the defense is what’s the most important part. That’s where you show your grit, your energy, your hard work. Offense is like the fun reward. And so, because of that, um, I definitely think it’s, it’s affected the offensive side. More goals, um, definitely I’ve been able to get more creative with the way you play.

And playing a little bit closer to the cage. I kind of think of it as like a hockey box or something. Or, or, uh. goalie box in soccer. So it’s definitely been interesting, but it’s been fun to play around with. And, you know, it’s all about adjusting nowadays. So how can you adjust best? How many suits do you wear?

I wear one suit. Yes. One suit. And you’re confident with that? I’m confident with that. Um, definitely, you know, it can get pulled around at times and I think we probably could make some edits in the future one day, but for now gets the job done. Perfect.

Alison: Thank you so much.

Jill: Thank you so much, Maggie. And finally, we have Ashleigh Johnson, who plays goal for the U. S. women’s team, and Paris will be Olympics number three for her. Take a listen.

Alison: We love water polo. We talked to Tony Acevedo a few years ago, so we got the lowdown on him. But you are goalie, which is very different. Yes. Stay in one place and can’t touch the ground.

So how are you? Are you kicking like an artistic swimmer? Are you swimming back and forth? How are you maintaining that position?

Ashleigh Johnson: Yeah. The kick we do is called eggbeater and it’s very similar to synchronized swimmers. Um, it’s, our legs are moving like an eggbeater. eggbeater. So they’re moving in sync, but also on their own.

And then when I make a lunge as a goalkeeper, I do a big breaststroke kick. So it’s like eggbeater fast and then breaststroke kick. Okay, nobody can touch you, correct? Um, people can touch me, but not much.

Alison: What we’re getting at is how many suits do you have to

Ashleigh Johnson: wear one suit. One suit, yeah. Oh, okay. Maybe it’s different for the men. Yeah, for women though, sometimes their suits rip.

I don’t get, I don’t get grabbed in that way. But sometimes their suits rip and we need to do like a mid game suit change.

Alison: How much is happening under the water?

Ashleigh Johnson: There’s a lot happening underwater. There’s like, we have a lot of suits. So there’s a lot of suit to grab. There’s a lot of like, this game is a game of leverage.

So as much as you’re like making decisions, what you can see above the water. There’s a lot happening to gain that leverage below the water, so especially at the center position, like, it’s kind of like a mixture of wrestling, like, you, you have to be able to forecast what your opponent’s next move is going to be so that you can counter it, so there’s a lot of physical, but there’s even more mental engagement that you need to play this game because You’re using your body, but you’re also like, fighting water, fighting someone, um, trying to find the ball, trying to score the ball, trying to block the ball.

So, there’s a lot going on with your body and you need to be able to like, accept the physicality and then use your mind to overcome it.

Alison: As a goalie, how hard is it to keep your focus?

Ashleigh Johnson: As a goalie, I think it’s tough to keep your focus, but as me, it’s really hard. Because I get distracted really easily. Um, I am just like, there’s so much going on.

Like at you, I stay home, like I’m in between the posts, but I’m also goalie who likes to like come out for steals. I’m communicating constantly. I’m saying where the ball is, what’s going on at center. Do we need a drop? Are you in the right place? Shot blocking. So I’m communicating a lot of different things, watching a lot of different people, and sometimes that thing that I’m watching isn’t the ball, but that’s my main job.

So I have. Different keys that I try to stay focused on so that I’m focused on the right thing in the right moment. And I’m also like communicating the things that I want to keep our team on the same page. So I communicate the clock, I communicate where the ball’s position is so that our defender can move and I call people back in drops.

So, I’m constantly talking and that’s to keep my attention in the right place, but also my team all on the same page.

Alison: One last question. Um, besides obviously the very dominant American women, who makes you nervous? Who are you paying attention to? Who should we be paying attention to in the tournament?

Ashleigh Johnson: Um, something that’s interesting about our sport, especially at this point, is that everyone’s gearing up to be at their best for the Olympics, and everyone plays each other differently.

So like, in the past few months we’ve had close games with Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Spain. Those are all really great, um, uh, teams in our Olympic like journey and also hungry. Like we played our, um, world championship final against them just recently. So there are a lot of great teams. And, um, one thing that we’re practicing is showing up at our best every game so that we don’t have the up and down, like maybe we have a bad third quarter or maybe we have a bad fourth quarter.

And I think that that’s the difference between. Good and great teams is that they can play consistently and, show up to every opponent no matter who they are as the same team.

Alison: Perfect. Thank you so much.

Ashleigh Johnson: Thank you so much.

Swimming: Bobby Finke and Lydia Jacoby

Jill: Thank you so much, Ashleigh. Uh, next we are going into the swimming pool to talk with Bobby Finke and Lydia Jacoby. Bobby won gold in Tokyo in the 800 meters and 1500 meter freestyle and holds the American record in both distances. At only 17 years old, Lydia Jacoby won the gold in the 100 meter breaststroke in Tokyo, beating Olympic record holder Tatiana Schoenmacher and world record holder and teammate, Lily King. Uh, you know, I may have to put that race up cause I watched it not that long ago again, several times because Lydia just comes out of almost nowhere. She was not part of the conversation until maybe 10 yards to go. So it was, it was incredible.

Alison: This little Alaskan teenager just came and absolutely won our hearts.

Jill: And of course, then they had the cameras in Alaska where everybody was at the gym watching and just going nuts. It was fabulous. Lydia also added a silver medal to her haul in the four by 100 meter women’s medley relay. a little bit of background on Bobby’s interview before we.

get to his, uh, tape. At Paris 2024, the U. S. swimming team will be coached by Anthony Nesty, 1988 gold medalist, whose story Alison told last year during our Seoul 1988 history moments. So we were really excited to be able to talk to a swimmer about their coach. Take a listen.

Coach Anthony Neste. What is it like to have somebody who has been at the Olympics and made a huge splash at his Olympics be your coach and guide you through your Olympics?

Bobby Finke: Yeah, I mean, it’s probably like one of the best things I could ask for, you know, to have someone who’s been there and done that, be by my side as well and, kind of understand what I’m going through and, and being able to relate to what he went through, you know, it’s, he’s been there and I, um, wholeheartedly like what he has set up for me and what he believes.

Jill: When you were in Tokyo, was there anything that he had said ahead of time that you went, Oh, now I get it.

Bobby Finke: the main thing he told me is just to have fun. cause at the end of the day, you know, that’s, that’s really just what swimming is. it’s just another pool. You’re just swimming some laps.

they’re pretty hard, but you know, you’re supposed to have fun and that’s what this sport’s about.

Alison: You’re not just swimming a few laps, you’re swimming a lot of laps. Yeah,

Bobby Finke: yeah, yeah. There is a bit of description there, but

Alison: And how are you keeping your brain in the pool and not, oh, I’m thinking about what happened two days ago?

Or do you?

Bobby Finke: No, not really. I mean, maybe like before the race starts, like I’m having like some flashbacks, like a couple of days ago. But, uh, when I’m in that race in the water, , there is a lot of time to think, but there’s also in reality, it, it goes by very quickly. like a mile in practice will feel like ages, but a mile in the meet will.

It can, it only feels like a few minutes. Um, and at that point in the race, I’m really only thinking about what my competitors are doing and, and making sure I’m doing what I need to do to keep myself in the race.

Alison: Okay. So for 1500, let’s break down a little bit in terms of how you start middle end, how you build up that strategy.

Bobby Finke: Yeah. so my main way of competing is just. I never really have a strategy going into, , my races other than racing the people around me. And kind of just, cause you really never know who’s going to be on their game. I’m lucky to have like, a lot of different strategies I can like, I can go out with fast with someone.

I’ve learned that over the past year and, and even hold back even more. Um, learned that in Tokyo. Um, or even just like, pacing someone. I learned that last year a lot too. so it’s really just. Kind of depends on what my competitors want to do around me, and I’m like, you know, you want to go fast?

I’m, you know, I’m down. Let’s do it. , you want to start slow? That’s fine, I’ll just do whatever, whatever they like, and , I’ll mimic it.

Alison: Do you have a favorite lane?

Bobby Finke: I will prefer three or five, preferably five. I don’t mind being in four, but I like kind of coming in as like an underdog.

I think that’s, that’s more fun.

Jill: Swim us through a flip turn. the anatomy of a flip turn. How does that look? And, Also, timing it right to, because it’s very, if you miss, if you start flipping wrong,

Bobby Finke: Yeah.

Jill: It, it messes everything up.

Bobby Finke: Yeah. So, timing of the flip turn is really all by feel. I have never really looked at a marker on the ground and be like, Oh, that’s where I flip.

It’s kind of just like, Oh, the wall’s coming up. My brain’s just telling me to flip. but it really kind of just starts by diving your head down just a little bit under the water to try and create like a downward momentum to get your, your torso over quickly and then flipping your legs over not as fast as possible, but like with.

A level of efficiency, but also a level of power to make sure you get your feet on the wall and planted to be able to push off strong. , there’s a lot of, a lot of stuff that goes into it that you don’t really realize, but we do. hundreds of them a day. So it becomes like second nature to us. But yeah, it’s really just about making sure you get a good plant on the wall and pushing off in a strong streamlined position.

Alison: Now, when you say what your competitors are doing, are you feeling it? Or are you seeing it?

Bobby Finke: I I’m doing both because I you know, they’re going out fast. I’m hoping they’re hurting as much as I am. But, I like to think I’m a little relentless with it, and I’m just gonna keep holding for as long as I can. if, you know, you, you can take more pain than I can, then you, you can beat me.

That’s kind of how I’ve always gone into that. , do I like losing? No. But like, at the end of the day, if you took more than I could handle, then you win, kind of thing. It’s kind of like that with any competitors. I’m pretty sure they kind of like think the same thing.

Alison: The difference between 800 and 1500, in terms of how you’re approaching it, how does that work for you?

Bobby Finke: It’s kind of weird, because like, As a distance swimmer, it’s hard for us to kind of manage different, events. Like a lot of the time, my 800 will be very similar into splitting and how I’m racing the mile. Even though it’s half the race, but it’s something I’ve definitely worked on this past year is, um, my more speed endurance.

I’ve just been able to maintain a higher speed, I guess, which is just saying going faster. But, um, but it’s just making sure I can maintain that kind of that level of a tempo for an 800 because 800 is becoming more of a 400 swimmers territory.

Alison: So people are going up versus down.

Bobby Finke: Yeah, they’ve always been going up a bit, but it’s starting to become more prevalent with 400 swimmers going to the 800, then 9 others coming down for the 800.

You’ll see more 400 finalists in the 800 than you’ll see 1, 500 finalists in the 800, at least within the past two years.

Jill: What suit do you wear? Do you wear different ones for different, the different races? That’s for you now. Oh, thank you. You’re part of our team. We have our own country.

Bobby Finke: Can you find Scott’s email? Sorry. Sorry, what was the question? What suits do you

Jill: wear? Oh, yeah. Because they come in different lengths. Yeah. You know, bodies. So,

Bobby Finke: it’s kind of unique because open water swimming, you’re allowed to wear full body suits. Um, but with pool swimming, the guys are very specific to just the jammer.

Okay. Um, which, it used to be full body suit, which would have helped a lot in distance swimming. Yeah. But, uh, yeah, I just wear a jammer and I wear a tier.

Alison: It’s not our fault. And he said, I asked a gentle question and then he didn’t have to.

Jill: We didn’t even

Alison: get to ask the one cap or two question. I wear two caps.

Thanks so much, Bobby.

Jill: Lydia, come on. Sit down.

Okay. Very young. First Olympics, what have you learned over these last three years?

Lydia Jacoby: Yeah, I mean, I’ve learned so much.

I was just saying it feels like in some ways the Olympics was yesterday, but all these experiences and people I’ve met and, um, just how much I’ve grown mentally. I mean, I think anyone going from 17 to 20, that’s a huge learning. and everything and then having the Olympics really accelerated that kind of maturing process.

So, um, yeah, been through a lot to get where I am today.

Jill: Has anything changed about your stroke? in trying to improve your time?

Lydia Jacoby: Yeah, I would say we’ve left my kick alone because, um, I have one of the best kicks in the world. So we don’t want to touch that too much, just working on strength and power there.

Um, and then we’ve really been working on my catch and my arms and just positioning and timing. And yeah, I mean there’s always stuff you can improve and tweak and just get that extra hundredth of a second, you know.

Jill: How long do you like your underwater pull to be?

Lydia Jacoby: , it’s not necessarily, for me, my, I don’t have the best underwater pull outs.

Um, so for me, just making sure they’re very powerful. And honestly, my My underwaters are not as good as anyone else’s, but my swimming is better. So just as much time as I can spend above water is good. So just making sure that my pulldowns are good and quick, um, but don’t take away from my stroke.

Alison: Do you find restriction of college swimming to make it harder to prepare for Paris?

Lydia Jacoby: No, not necessarily. I think, um, I have the same coaches for college swimming in the Olympics, and they have known my goals ever since Tokyo, so we’ve really been working towards Paris, and I think, like I said, my underwaters are weaker than my swimming, and so since college is short course yards and, uh, has more pull outs, it’s given me, it gives me a chance to work on those kind of weaker spots in my stroke.

Jill: So what does, what makes you a better swimmer above water?

Lydia Jacoby: I don’t know. Just the rhythm, the timing. I used to W sit as a kid. So my, I have some serious hip flexibility. Probably not the best, but, but it makes me swim faster.

Alison: Okay. She’s giving us, thank you so much. I’m

sorry I didn’t get to say hello. Hi, I’m

Jill: Thank you so much, Bobby and Lydia.

Diving: Andrew Capobianco

Jill: Diver Andrew Capobianco is next. With Michael Hickson, Andrew won silver in the three meter synchronized springboard in Tokyo. And, uh, Andrew continues to dive both individual three meter springboard and synchronized now paired with Quinn Henninger.

Take a listen.

Alison: Springboard.

Very different from platform. So let’s talk a little bit about just how does it work for you? Functionally and those differences.

Andrew Capobianco: Yeah. So, um, I would say springboard is a little bit more technical than the platform, just because you do have that diving board that you’re working with and it’s bending as you’re doing your dives.

Whereas platform is obviously a solid surface, but it is a little bit higher. So springboard is a little more technical platforms, a little scarier, and it’s for the daredevils. So, um, I like to stay a little bit lower and I love the technical aspects of our sport. So trying to make those small changes that either help you jump higher off the springboard or spin faster.

Um, or make the small changes to help me and my synchro partner be a little bit more synchronized. So, there are a lot of small aspects that go into making the perfect dive and obviously it changes each time.

Jill: When you want to get more power from the board, is that coming from you or is that coming from adjusting the board’s flexibility?

Andrew Capobianco: So it is coming from me. Um, we keep the diving board on the same flexibility pretty much. Once you get to a certain level, you pretty much move that fulcrum that it’s called all the way back. Each time just because you want to get the maximum amount of power from the board. Um, so it is coming from you.

And most of the time it’s just either, um, changing a little bit of technique or it’s doing some more work in the weight room and getting yourself a little bit stronger to, to get off the board a little bit higher.

Alison: I know you’re still young, but I feel like that’s changed because I remember watching diving and they used to always spin and now you don’t see that anymore because you’re saying it’s set all the way back.

Andrew Capobianco: Yeah. And so some people still do, um, move the fulcrum a little bit, but. For most divers, I would say we keep it all the way back, but it does depend on kind of your style of diving. So a lot of times, like when I first came to diving from gymnastics, I would move the fulcrum forward because it’s a little bit less springy and a little bit tighter, which I’m used to off of like a spring floor.

Um, so that’s a little bit more similar for that. So divers that are a little quicker would maybe move the fulcrum up, but divers that like the slow patient, like right off the board. But it has changed a lot and they actually just did change the design of the fulcrum. So the diving boards did change a little bit in the last, like, two years.

And it’s a, it’s a fairly noticeable change, I would say. Okay, so

Alison: how does that change what you are technically doing?

Andrew Capobianco: Yeah, you have to be a little bit slower, honestly, with the new fulcrum that they made. It’s a little slower to have the board come back up and fling you. So you’re always kind of looking to feel it go down and then it has this last little, like, push off the board and that’s where you feel the most momentum off and you can spin really well.

Um, and with the new one you do have to be a little bit slower and patient on the board. So, it’s good for the divers that are like that, but if you’re a little bit quicker it can sometimes mess with you and you get a stomp on the board, which is when you hear people land. You want to be really soft when you land.

Twists or flips? I would say twisting. My gymnastics coach taught me how to twist really well and I just have loved it for my whole diving career and gymnastics.

Alison: Okay, we’re getting the hand signal. Okay. Thank you so much.

Artistic Swimming: Megumi Fields and Daniela Ramierez

Jill: Thank you so much, Andrew. And finally we have artistic swimming. The U. S. team was named this week and Megumi Fields will be competing in both the team and duet events at only 18. She has already been on the senior national team for four years. Daniela Ramirez has also heading to her first Olympics, but she comes from three generations of artistic swimmers.

Danny also posts some amazing ASMR videos of her taking, taking out her swimming here on Instagram. Take a listen to Megumi and Daniela.

Alison: I’m Megumi Fields.

It you are doing duet as well as team. So how are you managing the, the overall pieces of those?

Megumi Fields: Um, so the duet is qualified, but, um, there’s four of us on the duet squad. Um, we’re competing, you know, to get the two spots. And that decision will be made on June 7th. Um, just like how team, there’s 12 of us, only eight get to compete.

The ninth one gets to go, but it’s the alternate. Um, so that selection is also being made on June 7th. So I think now at practice, like focusing on, you know, the bigger picture of the team and working towards that dream, but also, you know, fighting for your chance to represent the country at the Olympics.

Alison: Are you a base or a flyer? A pusher. A pusher. Okay. So how is that different? Cause we say base and flyer, but how is Yeah. Okay.

Megumi Fields: So like for example, cheerleading, there’s base and flyer, but in the water you got to have someone pushing the base because there’s no floor to stand off of. So there’s the one flyer, we have the one base who’s, you know, pushing the base.

lifts her up or anything like that. And then there’s the rest of the six of us who are underwater pushing the base.

Jill: How much input do you get into choreography?

Megumi Fields: Um, as a team, we’ve actually really created and Andrea has created a culture where a lot of us are doing, you know, the ideas. Andrea has like a very creative mind where sometimes she’ll be like, you know, I thought of this and it’s like, you know, we’ll try it.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But like from there, from that idea, it’s like, Oh, what if we do this? All of us like pitch in at some point. Um, and I think that’s why we’re able to make it happen. Such creative routines that are really interesting to watch.

Alison: Which one is your favorite this season?

Megumi Fields: Oh, I really like the water routine.

Jill: Sometimes, I mean, sometimes you can be far apart in the water. You know you have to synch. Can you feel it when everything is just aligned and magical? Yes. How does that feel? Like, what is that feeling?

Megumi Fields: And do you all know it? Yeah, yes. We all know that feeling. I think that’s like one of my favorite like moments in this sport and why I like love the sport so much.

Um, there’s eight of us in the pool, but like we can all feel like when we’re on the right page, like we can feel at practice if like someone’s had, you know, slightly bad day or something’s not going quite right. Like even if they’re acting completely fine, you can just, you know, tell from like little, little things and you know, we’ll squeeze that person on the shoulder or things like that.

I feel like we’re all able to feel what we’re feeling and at competition, like sometimes we’ll get out and we’ll be like, Oh, like that just felt so like together and just so easy because we were all in there. fighting each other, you know, not trying to bounce off of each other’s energies. It was just like collectively a calm energy.

Alison: The costumes obviously are a huge part of it. When we saw a lot of the costume for Tokyo, I was thinking, how could you swim in that? Yeah. So how much rehearsal in the suits do you get to do? We don’t do any.

Jill: Is that to save the suit? Cause it’s like,

Megumi Fields: It’s pretty delicate, like you gotta rinse it as soon as you’re done, let it out to dry.

Um, especially with all the jewels and like the glue and everything, like things start to fall off. Like sometimes you’ll be putting on a suit and it’s like, Oh, that’s like 10 beads that just flew off right there. So, you know, you got to glue that back on. but yeah, we don’t, I mean, sometimes there might be one time that you, I mean, we’ll put it on, on land just to see if it fits.

but there might be one time where you practice with it before the meet. but yeah, not really. And so sometimes we’ll get to the meet and it’s like, Oh, you know, this is a little heavy in the water. Like with all these jewels, it kind of weighs you down. Or, oh, this one’s really comfy and like doesn’t scratch you or anything.

So, yeah.

Jill: Is there, uh, an appointed Like, bead checker for everybody. Beads? Like a bead checker, you know, just to make sure that everyone’s got all their jewels covered.

Megumi Fields: There’s not, there’s not an appointed one, but, like, sometimes we’ll be like, Oh, that one’s kind of falling off, or, you know, things like that.

Then we’ll just

Jill: my name is Daniela Ramirez and I’m an artistic superhero.

Excellent. Are you a base or a flyer? I’m a base. Okay.

Alison: How has it changed with the new code of points, in terms of how your program has performed?

Daniella Ramierez: It has changed tremendously. It is completely flip flopped from what it was before. I mean, before you would go to competition and they would kind of decide what your difficulty was, and now we send it in and we have to prove that we can do it, which I think is an amazing, amazing opportunity for artistic swimming to be more understandable to viewers and to become more popularized.

Alison: You have a man on your team this year for the Olympics. Our legend, Bill May. How has that changed how your program is put together?

Daniella Ramierez: he has become such a legend in our sport and I think we really want to sort of showcase him as much as we can. Um, we’re still deciding on what our roster is going to be.

So, like, I’m not even fully going to be on this team right now. It’s up to our head coach on whether or not We’re on the scene, but right now we are centered around Bill and we’re putting him in the middle of things so that we can highlight him and make sure that people, if we do end up taking him to the games, can see that men can do it too, that men are in the sport and they are winning, they are working hard just alongside us.

Alison: For artistic swimming, you are not terribly tall. Which is funny for me to say. So how are you, how do you work on your toe point? And making those, those really long lines?

Daniella Ramierez: Um, I have to work harder than the other girls and me and my flyer, Audrey, we have to work harder than the other girls to make sure that we’re at the same level because when you look at artistic swimming, you have to look at the lines of where people meet, um, like getting out of the water.

So you have to work to be harder, work to be higher, work to be better, work to be the same as the other girls who are taller and don’t have to work as hard.

Jill: Alright, thank you very much. Can we get, we really want to know how you deal with the gelatin. Because you do

Daniella Ramierez: have gorgeous hair, but it is curly.

Well, fun fact about gelatin, it’s all collagen and proteins. So when you take it out of your hair, it’s silkier. It feels better. But the main thing that’s the problem with artistic swimming and our hair is the, is the ponytail and the bun. It rips your hair. It can tear at your hairline. But luckily we don’t do it too often.

So it doesn’t affect us that much. Sweet.

Jill: Thank you so much Megumi and Daniela. We will have a ways to follow everybody on social media and look for that in the show notes. And I got to say when the U S team was named for artistic swimming, I was shocked. And very saddened that Bill May was not on that list.

Alison: I was as well, because he was, they hauled him out for the Team USA Media Summit. Yes! And he was paraded around, and I don’t mean that in a, in a bad way, but they were making a big deal of it, and there was a lot of discussion of, will, Men beat in Paris and everyone said, yes, yes, yes. And then they came out with this U. S. team that is extremely young, with the exception of Anita Alvarez. I just think they decided to take the team in a different direction.

Jill: Which was shocking, especially with all of the effort put in to include men in the Olympics. World Aquatics sent a thinly veiled message saying it was very disappointed that there were no men going to be at the games this time.

Um, I think they recognize the, what Bill and I’m going to mess up. I can’t remember the Italian swimmer because the Italians had a very high level male artistic swimmer as well, and he did not get selected for their team. So they make this big change and Nobody is taking advantage of it. I know what you mean by paraded around.

I mean, he’s had, Bill May has had so much media coverage and when we talked with him, he was very much a, you know, I got to keep this tempered. The team hasn’t been named yet, but it was like, everyone thought all signs point to yes, Bill, let’s pump you up. And how much does that mess with your psyche?

when you get such a hard rejection?

Alison: I think it’s very much one of those things in sport where the rest of the world. is ready to make that change, but the sport itself is not, you know, the powers that be who have done this for a very long time. You know, if you’re in artistic swimming and you’re making these decisions, these are people who have been in this sport 20, 30, 40, you know, their whole lives and men have always been doing artistic swimming.

This is nothing new. They’ve been doing it on the world championship level, but to have them in the Olympics is just a bridge too far. And yet the fans and everyone else. Is ready for it.

Jill: Right. And it happens at the world level. So I, I don’t understand why, why he was left off. And maybe it’s because they’re doing three routines and they didn’t think that at world championships, you can bring up to 12.

Athletes on your team and you swap them out for different routines at the Olympics. Everybody’s got to do, you can only bring eight. So already you have to cut four people and everybody has to do every routine. So maybe there were questions about endurance and I don’t know how many times they have to compete in a given day or how many back to back days that is, how he fits into that ability level.

I don’t know. But I was just so shocked that everybody seemed to love him, even at USA Artistic Swimming. And they said that it was going to be such a hard decision, but they, they still made it.

Alison: You know, everyone was talking about the, uh, Caitlin Clark snub this week. And I feel like the Bill May snub is what the Olympic community is actually talking about.

Like the rest of the world is talking about basketball, but we sort of eggheads in this field are like, but what about Bill May?

Jill: Right That’s that’s that’s exactly it and I’m glad you brought up Caitlin Clark because that has been the news I’m so surprised that Bill May has not been the news more so it’s been in a few publications, but not like everybody wants to jump on the Kate and Clark bandwagon and Come on.

It was like they thought it was 1996 again. And well, you’ve got a college player and Everybody on everybody on the roster is going to have played in college And that there’s no pros yet. Meanwhile, you know, like it’s been 25, 30 years and women’s basketball has gotten kind of deep in the level of talent.

And I don’t know. I don’t think Caitlin Clarke has any international experience. Does she? Uh, probably like in the

Alison: age group

Jill: levels

Alison: I would expect. Oh yeah. Yeah. Maybe. Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t watch women’s basketball.

Jill: but it was kind of like, Oh, you had the best college player who is now transitioning to the WNBA. And that’s a hard transition because people don’t realize that the two are, are quite different. But, but the, the fact that she got left off the basketball roster for team USA women, that does not shock me at all.

And I’m kind of glad that, that there was a recognition of how much other talent is out there and how much talent is able to compete on that. the Olympic stage versus Diana Taurasi is going to be there with her walker. I know you were so excited. I was so happy about that. All right. Hey, by the way, the U. S. swimming trial starts this weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. I will be there for the few days at the beginning. So maybe if you’re there, I will give me a shout. hit me up on Twitter or the Facebook group and I will try to meet with you. Uh, also diving trials start next week, June 17th in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Keep Our Flame Alive!

Alison: So we have a great way to help keep our flame alive and it will cost you nothing. Share, like, subscribe, and review. So if you can tell a friend about the show, share your favorite episode on your social media feeds, or write a review on Apple podcasts, this goes a long way to getting the show out there and helping us find our people and Finding more listeners so we can do a lot more fun things.

So whatever your favorite podcast app is, just jump in there, put your little review in and we read them. We really do. We see. So if you’ve got thoughts for us, we would love to hear it.

Jill: It’s kind of like how shook list on does not acronym or we have shook list on because team keep the flame alive does not acronym very well.

If you think about this, it’s slusher. If you. really looked at using a couple of the things. So if Shukla, Shukla Stanis, slasher for us, that would help keep the flame alive. In this podcast world and would help you help guarantee that the podcast is around for Paris and beyond for you to enjoy as well.

Paris 2024 News

Jill: That’s right, beware of ticketing scams for Paris 2024 friends. The tick the ticketing business. com is reporting that French authorities have found three tickets 338 fraudulent websites selling invalid tickets to the Olympics. It has shut down 51 of those and put 140 on notice. And you go, well, why haven’t more been shut down?

Cause a lot of them are hosted outside of France. So it’s a long process to try to find and nab and, uh, tamp down all of these websites cause it’s like whack a mole here, but be careful if there’s one ticket platform. Only buy your tickets through the Paris 2024 ticket platform

and resale too.

Alison: But that’s still one site. You have to be on the Paris 2024 official site resale. They can’t send them to you through Facebook. They cannot send them to you any other way. Official ticketing site. You’re not going to get better deals because they’ll be fake.

Jill: Also Air France is going to have a pavilion at Paris 2024.

This is pretty exciting. They will be at the Palais de Tokyo from July 27th through August 11th. The pavilion part is free. They will have a thing where you can try out one of their new business class seats. You can have a VR Airbus A350 cockpit visit and more. There’s also going to be a pop up restaurant.

that is open from 11. 30 to three o’clock in the afternoon every day and they are going to serve airplane food.

Alison: Sorry, I was not prepared. I did not read that ahead on your show notes.

Jill: this is more specifically, they will be serving food from business class and it’s created by French chef Arnaud Lallemand and desserts created by pastry chef Nina It will be a multi course meal with an appetizer starter, main dish, cheese course, dessert and drinks, both alcoholic and non champagne, yes, we.

And , this will cost 85 euros and you have to make reservations. We will have a link to that in the show notes. Very excited to see what the Air France Pavilion is like.

LA 2028 News

Jill: Gotta work on your reactions to LA 2028 news.

Alison: We’re so Paris focused right now that when we play different music or we play different pieces. I get confused, like something is happening after September 2024 in my world. It is not.

Jill: Well, there is something happening at LA 2028. They announced today, today is the 12th of June, it is proposing adding para climbing to the 2028 Paralympic program.

So they had a number of sports apply to be on the program. They’ve chosen one. This does need to be approved by the International Paralympic Committee. Uh, that organization will do that during its IPC governing board meeting on June 26. So we could have a new sport for the Paralympics. Excellent.

International Olympic Committee News

Jill: Busy day. It is a busy day. The IOC executive board is meeting this week and today they announced that they will propose to the IOC session, which is the gathering of membership that is going to happen. ahead of Paris 2024 that the next two Winter Olympics, should go to France for 2030. And they will have it down into two regions in the south of France and Salt Lake City 2034.

They’re still waiting for some guarantees from the French government about how costs are going to be split between the regions and the national government little problem right now with France, deciding to have some snap elections. So they’ll hopefully get all that into place before the session comes in.

, At their press conference, they also said that Salt Lake City could toast tomorrow because that bit is so solid. So they are looking forward to that, but the session, the IOC membership will vote and in July, and then that will be official. So this is the final, final, , steps in the process.

Alison: If you feel like we keep talking about France or the French Alps 2030 and Salt Lake City 2034, and it feels like this should have been official, Months or years ago, the, it’s just been going through the process and the official, official, official announcement seems to be coming next month after the session.

Jill: Yes, it will be voted on then and they will, uh, vote to approve or deny. So we shall see. But it’s pretty much, pretty much a done deal, I would say. Hope so


Alison: Welcome to Shook Flushton

Jill: it is the time of the show where we check in with our team keep the flame alive These are past guests and listeners of the show who make up our citizenship of our very own country Shook Flushton First up, we’ve got some results from the French Open David Wagner competed in wheelchair tennis He lost in the quarterfinals in the singles quad the quarterfinals He lost in the quarterfinals of the Quad Singles event, and he partnered with, Canada’s Robert Shaw for doubles, but they lost in their opening match as well.

Alison: Tom Scott and Team USA won the Team Kumite at the PKF Senior Championships. To go along with the individual gold we reported on a couple of weeks ago, the team is headed to World Championships in November.

Jill: Sitting volleyball player Lora Webster will be competing with Team USA at the World Para Volleyball Super Six in Brazil until June 16th.

They beat Brazil in their first

Alison: match. Dawn Harper Nelson will be making her debut as part of the team covering athletics for NVC in Paris. She will be covering the live preliminary heats.

Jill: Also joining NBC’s analyst team is Laura Wilkinson. She will be a diving analyst on, NBC’s coverage of that sport in Paris.

She has previously worked as an analyst in 2016 and also worked for NBC Olympics. com in 2012.

Alison: And Ken Hanscom was at a digital round table with listener David about Paris 2024. And we will have a link to that in the show notes. We’ve got a link to that on the Facebook group. And that was a fun little video to watch.

Yeah. Two of our

Jill: favorite people chatting with each other. Exactly. Exactly. Listener David works for, uh, NBC in Columbus. So he had Ken on the show to talk all things Paris. And that is going to do it for this episode. Let us know what you think of swimming, diving, and water polo at the Olympics.

Alison: You can find us on X, YouTube and Instagram at flamealivepod.

Send us an email at flamealivepod at gmail. com. Call or text us at 208 333 3333. 4 8, that’s 2 0 8, flame it. Um, you can chat with us and other fans on our Facebook group, keep the flame alive podcast and sign up for our weekly newsletter with even more Olympic and Paralympic info for you at our website, flamealivepod. com.

Jill: On Monday, we will be talking with wheelchair basketball player, Brian Bell, and I’ll probably have a few things from, uh, the swimming trial so far. We’ll have more on swimming trails on our blog at flamealivepod. com. .

Brian was so much fun to talk to, and we are excited to bring that interview to you. Thank you so much for listening. And until next time, keep the flame alive.