Team USA Wheelchair Basketball player Brian Bell joins us to talk about the ins and outs of this Paralympic sport. Brian has been part of Team USA for the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, both of which were gold-medal-winning performances. Brian and Team USA will be looking for the three-peat at Paris 2024.

Follow Brian on social! He’s on Insta and X.

Also, Jill is at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Indianapolis, so she has a full report from Lucas Oil Stadium, where 17,000-20,000 people are packing the stadium to cheer swimmers on in the biggest meet in the country. Read more about it on our blog.

In news from Paris 2024, rain is disrupting water quality in the Seine. Again. The Opening Ceremony finally had a practice of the boat parade. And Korea House will be a go–look for it at Maison de la Chimie.

The International Olympic Committee Executive Board voted to have an official eSports Games. This proposal now goes in front of the IOC Session for a full vote, but we could have another Olympic event on the docket.

In our trip to TKFLASTAN, we hear from:


Thank you so much for listening–and until next time, keep the flame alive.

Photo courtesy of Brian Bell.


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 Do not quote from the transcript; use the audio as the record of note.

347-Paralympics 2024-Wheelchair Basketball with Team USAs Brian Bell

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 am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co host, Alison Brown.

Alison, hello. How are you? Once again. Not as good as you! Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. I’m coming to you from the land of refrigeration. Uh, I don’t know how loud it’s going to get on your end or if you hear anything. There’s, again, I’m in a media room at the swimming trials. So there is going to be some noise in the background that’s just unavoidable.

There’s no place to go here. we’re talking about the trials. I’ve been here one day. I’m overwhelmed. It’s an amazing test event for us, but it overwhelmed in a good way. It overwhelmed in a oh my gosh I’m glad I had this practice Overwhelmed in a oh my gosh, this is amazing kind of way. So

Alison: okay, so we’ll get to that later in the show But first actually

Brian Bell Interview

Jill: exactly first we are talking about wheelchair basketball today, which is also exciting and I have a tie in to that Um, in my swim trials report.

So this is quite appropriate. Uh, we are talking with Brian Bell who plays wheelchair basketball for Team USA. He is a two time gold medalist and Paris will be his third Paralympics. We met Brian at the Team USA media summit in April and he came back for a longer chat. Take a listen.

Alison: Brian Bell, thank you so much for joining us today. We’re very excited to talk wheelchair basketball.

Brian Bell: Yeah, I’m excited as well. Thank you.

Alison: So let’s start with the very basics for people who really haven’t seen wheelchair basketball before. What are the major differences between able bodied and wheelchair basketball?

Brian Bell: Yeah. So some of the key differences would be there’s no double dribble in wheelchair basketball. for like the traveling call, it would be every two pushes you have to take a dribble and that’s kind of like the main rules, like three seconds in a key if your offense, , all the other nuances of the game is pretty much the same, the same length of the court, same height of the hoop, all that stuff is still the same, so just only small, slight differences.

Alison: Okay, the same height of the hoop means that you are. Hurling that basketball a much further distance.

Brian Bell: Yeah.

Alison: When you’re able bodied and you shoot basketball, a lot of that power is coming from your legs. So where is that shooting power coming from when you’re sitting in a wheelchair?

Brian Bell: Well, it’s all arms. We do everything with our arms in the wheelchair. I know, it’s uh, of course, duh, you’re not using your legs. But yeah, you have to do everything. You have to generate power, pushing, stopping, and then, of course, shooting. So everything is with arms, so a lot of upper body workouts, movement, all that type of stuff.

Alison: How much protection and injuries are happening to wrists and shoulders?

Brian Bell: Um, you do see a lot of injuries, especially like shoulder type injuries in wheelchair basketball, just because of like throwing long passes or, trying to reach a long pass if someone’s throwing it to you. So there can be a lot of, a lot of kind of shoulder or rotator cuff injuries that kind of associated with wheelchair basketball.

Alison: I would think for a lot of the pushing. You would want to have something protecting your hands, but you can’t because you’re also handling the basketball. So, how are you just physically dealing with the stress on your hands?

Brian Bell: Yeah, I like to say that when you’re first trying with your basketball, it’s definitely are really hard on your hands.

So, I feel like when someone gets in a chair and they start pushing around, Go through it for like 30 minutes or so. They start to feel like, spots on the hands, like a little bit of like bruising and that kind of comes with it. So the more and more you train, like the more and more your hands get used to it kind of builds up calluses, some of those pain points and spots don’t really affect you as much later in your career as you get. So therefore it’s a little bit easier in that regards, but yeah, it takes a lot of like practice and preparation in terms of like getting used to it. Yeah. And like you said, it’s better than not have things on your hands because you need to actually feel the ball, you know, Especially like what types of forms and how people grip the ball when they’re shooting.

All that stuff kind of goes into the factor.

Alison: Z So for shooting, and obviously able bodied basketball height’s a big issue. You want to be very, very tall. Does a taller torso help you in wheelchair basketball in that same way?

Brian Bell: Taller torsos in Witcher Best of Wild is a tremendous benefit for sure.

People who have longer torsos usually dominate the game just because they can sit in a chair and, shoot way higher over, like, their opponents. So it’s much easier for them to get baskets or take shots and get shots off over other of the other opponents. So it definitely helps tremendously for sure in a wheelchair.

Alison: Okay. So I’m a failure in any kind of basketball is what we’re saying here.

Brian Bell: There’s always roles and stuff. He does, you know, role players, like, you know, Ball handlers, you know, playmakers, all the types.

Alison: My role will be the ball girl, Brian. Let’s not, let’s not even pretend.

Jill: So then, then do people who have longer torsos, do they have fun with shorter torsoed people?

And by fun, I mean like little taunting going on?

Brian Bell: I would say occasionally, yeah, it’s a very competitive sports. Definitely. Once you get to the higher stages, like, you know, representing your country at the Paralympics there, you definitely get to the point of, sometimes, you know, trash talking, taunting, all that does play into the fact that, you know, some other countries do it more than others.

But, you do occasionally get that, you know, you want to take advantage of the mismatch. But. Our team, I would say for the most part, don’t try to like rub it in, but most people do try to take advantage of a height mismatch.

Alison: Okay. Put a pin in the trash talking. We’re going to go back to that.

Brian Bell: Okay.

Alison: Let’s talk a bit about the wheelchair. What makes it different than your everyday chair?

Brian Bell: So some of the key differences would be the wheels are slanted, inward. So that kind of helps with kind of rotating and spinning, quickly. there’s wheels on the back. I know some everyday chairs have wheels on the back for like preventing from falling backwards, but competition basketball chairs definitely have to have it for the fact of, you know, you’re going in really fast and you’re leaning back for passes.

You know, you’re trying to avoid falling over, potentially hitting your head or getting type of head injuries. Um, and then click straps on the chair that keeps you in the chair. I want to say that it’s kind of like a comparison of like, Shoes for like everybody people, it would be, you want to make sure your shoes are tight.

So the shoes don’t fall off your feet when you’re running. So it’s the same thing with you would be in the chair. You want to make sure the chair is tight, snug, and you’re able to control the chair as much as possible as you’re playing the game. I think that’s kind of the key differences compared to an everyday chair.

Alison: How high does it come up against your back?

Brian Bell: It depends of classification. Some people need a little bit higher backrest just for the fact of stability. For me being the highest class in our sport, most four or four fives need minimal backrest. So usually my backrest probably come up to like, I want to say like right above like my hip, maybe two inches or so.

Oh, wow.

Jill: So you need a, you need a lot of core strength to also maintain position.

Brian Bell: Exactly. So usually when you’re a higher class, you have a higher core for, like strength. So that way you don’t need as much, you know, support with the backrest, all that stuff, uh, with it. So you’re able to control your chair a little bit more. More easily compared to some of the lower class.

Alison: Are you wearing a shoe?

Brian Bell: I am wearing a shoe, yeah. When I’m playing, yes.

Alison: Okay, so what, what does that shoe go I mean, I know what it’s doing. What is it consisting of?

Brian Bell: well in terms of like functionality or just

Alison: You know, how is it different than a street shoe? What would be special about that for you?

Brian Bell: I would say it’s just a normal basketball shoe. I normally wear Nikes mainly because it’s, it’s one of my favorite shoes growing up. Also it’s one of my sponsors too. but I like to wear shoes that I find that. Are meaningful or have like a good design on them, um, in terms of like, look good, play good type of feel, but for that functionality, no, the shoe doesn’t really do anything when you’re sitting down in a chair. But I think for like rules, you have to have shoes on just in case of like. injuries, like maybe a fifth wheel landing inside the chair on a foot or something, you have to have some type of protection.

Jill: Has anybody ever showed up to practice and forgotten their shoes and have to wear like loafers?

Brian Bell: Oh, all the time.

I even do it all the time. Like, it just like, I’ve, Thought that I put my shoes in the bag and then I didn’t, and then I have slides on or Crocs on and I have to play in those. So it definitely happens. It happened to the best of like everyone. So it’s just, you gotta, you just kinda gotta go with it. You have to play with it. So.

Alison: Are players allowed to wear prosthetics?

Brian Bell: They are allowed to wear prosthetics, yeah. A lot of, not a lot, but some people find it more comfortable and they have more control of the chair when they’re prosthetic. Or they have a prosthetic like sleeve built on that chair so then they can have even greater control of the chair.

So not only having, you know, pushing off their good leg, they’re also able to push off their nub as well. Um, so a lot of people use prosthetics for that reason.

Alison: Okay. Do you?

Brian Bell: I do not. I’ve definitely been asked to do so, but I just didn’t feel the need for it.

Jill: so how come on both questions, like how, why do people want you to and why do you not want to?

Brian Bell: For that very reason that I said earlier, the fact that you could have more control of the chair because your nub is not just kind of free flowing. so that’s why they suggest doing that. But, the reason why I don’t do it is because I feel like I don’t need like an overall protection for like the nub, to do that control.

I can still push off the nub on like the bars that’s like right there in front. So I don’t need like all that extra, protection, weight or whatever on my chair.

Alison: Do you need to focus on training in terms of keeping your body balanced as an amputee, even when it’s your upper body?

Brian Bell: Yeah, I do. but it is been amputee.

We do utilize our legs a fair amount in our chair. Like I said, like kind of pushing off, in our chair. So we do do a lot of like lower body legs in our workouts. Not, to the extent of some are non disabled, athletes or Olympians, but. We do still have to work that muscle cause we don’t want to be like super, super big on top and then have skinny legs, you know, that looks weird.


Jill: So, but not wearing the prosthetic that makes you lighter. So does that make you faster?

Brian Bell: In the sense? Yes, it can. with any type of, , like equipment, stuff like that. You’re always trying to find ways to be lighter, faster. So you have to kind of play with that a little bit.

So do you want, to put a prosthetic sleeve on or wear your prosthetic to have more, you know, control, but you lose a little bit of speed to have that control, or do you want to do it the other way? So it just kind of depends. It’s a lot of kind of Playing with the fine tuning like chair setup that kind of goes into it.

Jill: I want to know with the three second rule and you’ve got a whole bunch of chairs, is it part of strategy to try to block somebody in the key? I I mean, it’s hard to get out of there.

Brian Bell: Yeah, it can be, but sometimes it kind of. Can be a negative at times because as long as you’re actively trying to get out of the key They won’t call you for three seconds Necessarily, but you do try to like keep people in and maybe have them Forced a certain way so like maybe force and overcrowd one section So they have to go out the other side of the key So then like everyone’s more on one side, so there’s some type of strategy involved, but for the most part, usually that’s not, it’s not the case that you can get, you can get like a bunch of three second calls by just trapping someone in a key. Like, as long as you’re trying to actually get out, then the refs won’t call it.

Alison: So question of classification, 14 points or fewer are allowed at the court at any one time. And when we talked earlier, you were saying people don’t. have positions per se, it’s more based on the classification. So I want to go back and talk about that.

Brian Bell: Yeah. I would say that the classifications, you can kind of put, positions on the classifications. Like I said before, in our previous thoughts, that four, four fives are kind of like the centers power forwards, uh, for the most part. but they can be, Point forwards or be able to handle the balls and stuff like that But they’re primarily like power forwards and centers and then as you go down the list three fives threes two fives all that they can be the small fours that can be the Power forwards and then you know Lower layer later, the shooting guards, point guards and so forth with like the twos, one fives, one O’s.

So it kind of like goes by that. But again, in our sport, it doesn’t necessarily be defined with just those. Like for me, I can, like I said, be a point four, I can handle the ball. I could be a big guy. I could be a shooter from outside. It just kind of depends on what type of players you have, what type of like combination of people you want on a court to count on.

Get the job done in terms of like strategy wise plan to get started your opponent.

Alison: So when Your coach is planning a strategy. You know, a lot of basketball coaches have a philosophy, you know, I run these kinds of plays and these kinds of plays is wheelchair basketball, more personnel specific.

Brian Bell: I would say for my coach, I would say it’s a little bit of both.

I would say he’s more, he puts the right players out there to, you know, what their specialties, but he also puts the right players out there. Team out on the court that work well together. so yeah, you’re going to have your specialties like shooters, , mainly people who play make for other people, , big guys, but it’s just a combination of what group of guys work best.

I know that in the past. Some of the previous teams were decided more on, let’s just pick all the best, you know, Tyler, all the best players, but that unnecessary maybe played well together or have that cohesion. So, like, once. Like, uh, what’s the start of our, like, winning, spurt? I would say our coaches , at that time, and still now, were more focused on the right group of guys that play well together, that still are top talent, but also play well together in a cohesive manner.

More so just throwing a bunch of top athletes out there, and seeing what happens, and then try to, like, go from there.

Alison: Well, it’s the same controversy that happens in able bodied basketball, right? You know, do you have an all star team or do you put a team together? Yes. That same dichotomy going and, and tension.

Jill: What do you all do to build that cohesion, especially with different, I mean, different There’s got to be different types of lines that go out and you have to work with different groups all the time.

Brian Bell: Yeah, I would say, uh, like, thinking back to when we kind of started, , the winning, phase or whatever, I would say it was kind of, uh, two things.

First, it was sports psychology, I would say, played a big factor in it. You know, you’re bringing in a lot of different, personalities, characters together. So, kind of getting closer in terms of how people think. Um, you know, their weaknesses, their strengths, like what they think their weaknesses, strengths are.

Um, and then all of us knowing that, also just how close we were off the court, like just doing everything together, just talking, hanging out, laughing, watching sports together. we did consider ourselves a brotherhood and a family, even to this day, like we still keep in touch with, with everyone, even back like until 2016.

And then also just the coaches putting us in practice positions to work with each other to learn to actively keep working. So it becomes more second nature. I know that, like, now, like, our. core lineup that potentially will start is like a lot of the guys from, 2016 when we won the first initial time.

So we have a lot of that chemistry already built up. Like we know what each other’s going to do even before we necessarily do it. Um, so it’s a lot of that Trying to get into that mindset with some of the newer guys that we have, like getting back to that, like running us through a bunch of practices and making sure that we fine tune, like what is each other’s like, tendencies habits so we can get used to it.

So then like, even though we’re communicating, uh, we don’t necessarily necessarily have to do it, like respond to communication, respond to like actually knowing what they’re going to do, on top of just communication by itself.

Alison: Do you ever find yourself parenting your younger teammates?

Brian Bell: as a vet now, it definitely kind of comes with the territory.

So yes. And then of course being a dad, so it definitely comes out quite often, especially, you know, you you’re competitive, you want to win, even in practices like different lineups you want to win. So any type of moment I can get, I’m trying to at least let the person I’m directly working with. And also the whole. Team or that five know what I’m seeing, what I want to like, try to, , do in certain situations, certain moments, especially with some of the newer guys are kind of thrown into the mix of some of the newer lineups. And I’m still, getting to know what their tendencies are and trying to get to know what they prefer in terms of position on court, how to set up their So it’s always a lot of communication, especially, early days, uh, when Forming a new team, especially like gearing up to the Paralympics.

Alison: You almost have a starting five of your own, Brian.

Brian Bell: I know.

Alison: Not please. I am not encouraging that.

Brian Bell: Yeah. That’s what I said. Like I have a starting five now and I’ll be a player coach that comes off the bench.

Alison: So I want to go back to some controversy back in Tokyo about the reclassification. And so prior to Tokyo, the IPC. Had some things to say about wheelchair basketball.

Brian Bell: Yeah. Yeah.

Alison: So how did that controversy first come to the team?

Brian Bell: So to the best of my knowledge, I believe that, it was the IWBF and IPC were aligned on like classification or like the IPC gave them like the recommendation or classification that they wanted to have.

And then I don’t know if the IWBF didn’t get back to them soon enough or something of that matter. Then it kind of like Basically hardball, the IWF to like, you have to do this or you’re not going to go type of thing. So then that kind of, you know, started like everyone has to be reclassified, into this classification system.

I believe that’s what I was told and how I kind of gather of the situation, uh, it was just kind of like a little misconnect with communication or maybe just not seeing an eye on top of like how they want to do the classification. But again, IPC rules out because, we want to go to the Paralympics.

So, um, you kind of have to do what they suggest. So, yeah.

Alison: So unexpectedly you have to be reclassified because obviously your disability, it was not going to change, but how did that happen in terms of the lead up to Tokyo and what was that process like?

Brian Bell: So our staff were pretty on top of it. Our doctor coordinated with, um, the IPC, people with Classif classifiers on our side.

I know at the time, like we filled out a whole bunch of paperwork again, like went to the doctor and make sure that it is verified that I do have a disability or any other type of documentation to class, to, uh, classify my disability. I got on like a virtual call with them sat in a chair because, you know, right during the pandemic.

So we can actually see people in person and then, you know, they saw me in a chair. They saw me without my prosthetic prosthetic on all that type of jazz. And it’s basically just another classification type thing that you do in a tournament, but just virtually and it’s just doing the whole process all over.

I know the tough thing about it was a lot of athletes got classed out because they have very minimal disabilities, which was tough and hard. Because, you know, we are a growing sport. We don’t just have a plethora of just disabled athletes that we just throw in the chairs, especially like top caliber athletes.

So it definitely eliminated a lot of top athletes from a lot of different countries.

Alison: Were you ever concerned for yourself?

Brian Bell: I was not because, you know, missing the entire leg kind of puts me in that category. it was more for like, maybe like ACL tears, like people are like that. they barely kind of make, it on that classification, uh, spectrum.

So for me, I, I was never worried, like I’m missing a whole leg, so, uh, if there’s an issue there, yeah, you

Alison: know, you’re, you’re four, 4. 5, right?

Brian Bell: Yeah.

Alison: When that happens and that disrupts the team and disrupts the tournament, how did that,

Brian Bell: I would say it didn’t affect the play too negatively. I know there was a lot of, like, petitioning and kind of semi bored kind of going on leading up to it because some of the, like, teammates or players that I got, classed out in different countries, uh, wanted to protest, , and they even like other national team, people, players, teammates, staff, whoever, even, you know, signed that protest because we want our sport to grow, like, we don’t care if they have very minimal disabilities to play, long as they’re, competitive, the top athletes, it makes our sport look stronger.

That we don’t care, but we definitely, you know, signed that movement. It didn’t, you know, nothing came of it because, IPC often makes kind of the overall rules judgment for the Paralympic sport. So you have to live with it. You know, just have to go into the tournament knowing that we did try to as best as we can, like even we didn’t have anyone on our side get classified out, but it was mainly other countries and we still, signed those petitions and try to help and voice our opinion in that movement.

But again, if it doesn’t happen, we try our best and then we just move forward.

Jill: Yeah, it’s interesting just because, you can only have so many fours and 4. 5s on the court at one time, or even on, and you don’t want to stack your team with 4. 5s because you can’t put five people on the court. So it’s just kind of interesting how that became a thing.

Brian Bell: No, very interesting for sure.

Alison: Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about how the sport has grown since your first appearance in the Paralympics. In 2016. So what are you seeing now that was different than eight years ago?

Brian Bell: I would say for sure more coverage of the Paralympic sport in general. I know London was kind of like the kickstart of it.

I wasn’t in London, but I heard a lot of people talk about how well London did the Paralympics, especially for like, Advertising and promoting and just bringing awareness to it. And I think the lead up to Rio, was kind of the same thing. NBC, uh, was a big factor, like making sure that they televise, not just the Olympics, but also the Paralympic games as well on, on TV.

and then it’s progressively got more and more. So now they, they televised even more sports, , and have more opportunities for people to see all types of different sports at the Paralympics. that I feel like that was kind of a really, really big moving driver because most people, they know of the Paralympics, but they don’t always get the chance to see it, especially firsthand.

And that was kind of the biggest thing when I am asked about like my sport. is that they don’t know about it or they’ve never seen it. And I feel like for the most part, when first people see our sport, like truly see top level, competition, they fall in love with it. They see how intense it is.

They see how, much efforts put into going up and down, how much, technique telling us to shoot a basketball, at the same distance and same hoop height as the Olympians, like all that factors. So it’s definitely improved on with the awareness part. I feel like there’s more awareness in terms of.

Getting sponsorships for the Paralympic side. I feel like that intensified, more and more. , it also helped after Rio getting the same, prize money for winning medals as the Olympians was a big one. because for the longest time, it wasn’t the same. It was, I think, 50, 000 for Olympians and then like five for Paralympians.

So now that even out, so like small little things like that to kind of. Keep us on the same, playing field because we put in the same amount of work as Olympians as well. So we should definitely, you know, get the same type of awards, promotions, all that stuff that comes with it.

Alison: Talk a little bit about Rio because we definitely got mixed stories about what was happening down there.


Brian Bell: Uh, what story did you hear?

Alison: Well, the money ran out before the Paralympics.

Brian Bell: Ah, okay.

Alison: So, how were you taken care of? How did it feel? What was that situation like? Did you feel it as a player?

Brian Bell: I would say I didn’t feel it as much as a player. I also feel like in our, specifically talking about which of as well, I feel like in our sport is not a very like, Oh, you’re going to get a lot of money, like type of sport.

So it’s more of kind of a sacrifice to play with your basketball than anything. So like, Oh, we ran out of money. Okay. Well, we’re used to that. That’s nothing new. So I don’t think it really affected us on going in. , there was never really a thought or. Or thing on our mind, it was just more, just us playing basketball.

because we never in the first place got a lot of money to play in our sports anyway. , for the most part, we’re more sacrificing, time, money, all that stuff to play our sport and represent our country that stage.

Alison: Speaking of money, as you said, it’s, I mean, you’re not making a fortune playing wheelchair basketball.

You have a family, you have to balance earning money, you have to balance training. So what does that look like for you day to day?

Brian Bell: it’s definitely before I got a full time job. It was definitely was challenging. That’s the kind of reason why I went to go play overseas to play with your basketball.

Cause at least that way I’m getting paid. Enough to get by, maybe save a little bit. And then also they pay for a lot of, the kind of utilities, house, car, some of the bills usually. So then in that way, there’s less bills. It’s more just focus on basketball and then still getting, you know, a decent wage.

Um, now that I’m working full time, it helps like having a full time job. So now I don’t necessarily need to rely on trying to find money through basketball. I have that with my full time work. but now I’m working full time, it’s making it more challenge to work out, to train, to do all that stuff that I was accustomed to playing professionally and only having a basketball, you know, be the kind of focal point and 100 percent focus.

Alison: How have you changed in the time spring? You’ve been doing this a while. Yeah. How do you feel like you’ve changed as a player?

Brian Bell: I would say. I definitely matured, like, I feel like early on when I first initially started playing, I was definitely like, go, go, go, go, go, fast, fast, fast, fast, like, just, don’t stop pushing.

I do tend to still do that, but I feel like now I’m older, I’ll like, pick my times when I do it, rather than just constantly doing it and like, tiring myself off, tiring myself out. So. So definitely maturing that using my speed more wisely. and then kind of more fine tuning specific shots that I want to get for myself.

So I like being able to generate shots for myself at a given time, rather than back then it was more, I was a diver. I was more just. Setting up my shooters behind me for shots and then roll it in for easy layups or easy post ups or like lower class. So I feel like now I’ve more evolved. Like I can be an outside shooter.

I can be more of a scorer, on top of being also a big guy, center, power forward, that type of thing.

Alison: Let’s talk about the 2024 Paralympic tournament coming up. So we’ve got defending gold medalist team USA. Who else should we be paying attention to?

Brian Bell: There’s a lot of tough teams. Now that there’s only eight teams down, there’s really no, no easy games.

I would say, of course, GB Great Britain is our top competitors life. Since back when 2016, 2017, um, there’s always been kind of the people that we either struggle with and pool play or, or, you know, had difficult games with them in friendlies. So they’re definitely a top competitor. Netherlands has a good team.

Germany has a good team. Um, there’s a lot of good teams out there. I would never say that it’s just going to be a cakewalk because everyone’s going to give us our best, their best shot, as they should. and that’s what we prefer, like, we don’t want like easy games. We love when it’s very competitive, and less of, a blowout with some of the kind of like more developing teams.

So it’s going to be, it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be tough, but it’s going to be, it’s going to be fun and awesome playing the literally top, top eight teams in the world.

Alison: I told you to put a pin in the trash talking, so I want to know. Who’s the trash talkers and can you trash talk in multiple languages?

Brian Bell: let’s see. There’s not really a lot of trash talkers on our team. Uh, we kind of more lead with our actions or talk with our actions, I would say more or more like nonverbal trash talking, like shaking our head or stuff like that. Like, you know, why did you leave me open? Like shaking head type of thing.

Uh, some of our shooters do that occasionally, but I wouldn’t say not a lot of like verbal, verbal trash talking. Unless like, it has to be like really, really excessive, like. Someone, talking bad to our teammates. So then we’re talking, , to them or something like that, but. Yeah, I feel like we try to avoid doing that because that’s, , kind of plays into the other team’s plan or more mindset of like trying to like rattle you, distract you, you talking back.

I would say that a few of us can, if necessary, need to talk back or trash talk in different languages. I feel like a lot of us have played in Italy. So we know a little bit of Italian. a few of us know French, , I’m trying to think a lot of us know Spanish cause we have a lot of, , kind of semi white Mexican, people on our team, so a lot of us know, know Spanish so we can kind of get our point across in, in different languages.

Um, for other teams across the world. I will say they do rely on trash talk or more, because I think it’s like an extra tactic, like I mentioned earlier, of trying to distract their opponent, and kind of, get that extra edge on them, especially in like a tight, in a close game, in a tight game.

Alison: I was very disappointed when I met you, and you said you never palm somebody’s head. I know. Have you gone and done that now in the couple weeks?

Brian Bell: I have not. I’ve not had the pleasure. Probably so I said. I don’t think it

Jill: was Do you palm your children’s heads? Yeah!

Brian Bell: I would say not necessarily palm. Like I would grab their head.

But I wouldn’t say palm. Palm is like grabbing and moving around forcefully. I wouldn’t say that, no. But maybe I should do it at some point as like a TikTok thing or like Instagram thing. Yes! For me, Brian! I’ll send

Alison: Because, okay, I have hands that are proportionate to the size of my body. I can barely hold a golf ball.

So if my, I think it’s the jealousy. Oh, just to be able to grab things. Yeah. I can’t do that.

Brian Bell: But if it helps, I have. Incorporate that quite a bit in my game as of late, just parming the ball.

Alison: I appreciate that.

Brian Bell: So, at least I do that. But yes, I need to work on parming someone’s head.

Alison: Speaking of your kids, what do they think of all of this? And are they going to be with you in Paris?

Brian Bell: some of them will be in Paris. Uh, it would be a lot, very expensive. And also probably a Nightmare slash headache for my wife to deal with, , travel with all of them. So I think, she hasn’t completely decided yet, but I think maximum two, and then most likely one.

And then she’s also debating baby, just leaving all the kids with her parents and then just coming along. So it’s, it’s either one of those three options, of them, but the kids love watching me play, especially when I was overseas, them coming to all the games, granted half the time, they don’t have the time to sit there and watch a whole game.

They’re more of like the amenities that comes with. You know, playing professionally, like, Oh, they have a bouncy house in the stadium. So they’re just bouncing for like hours in there, or are they going to the concession stand or they’re playing in other games that they have, just kind of entertaining kids at, at those events.

but they, they do love watching me play, and it’s a joy when they, when I see how much, how excited they are, for me, especially when I win, uh, they talk about me to their classmates all the time. I’ve done a few, assemblies at their school, so it’s, they talk about me. Probably all the time, maybe a little too much because every time I pick him up from school, all I see is like a bunch of kids just pointing and like, he’s literally, he’s in front of the students like, yeah, he’s my daddy.

You know, he plays switcher, basketball for the team and say like, that type of stuff, but it’s definitely very cool and I appreciate it.

Jill: Do the medals go to show and tell a lot?

Brian Bell: they do. It’s, I feel like it’s kind of a necessity. Uh, if I’m doing like any type of simile, I feel like that’s kind of the thing that people ask, um, if I don’t have just on hand all the time.

And they’re like, they always ask, like, so you just bring them everywhere, right? It’s like, no, that would just be too much to bring everywhere. but I do bring them to the similes like that. Cause I feel like there’s always a question like, oh, so you had the medals with you? It’s like, no, I don’t. Of course, I, I have them with me for these types of things.

Alison: Just wear them all the time, Brian, like Flavor Flav with the watch.

Brian Bell: I know. I feel like I did not have neck problems and I don’t want that because they are pretty heavy. They’re surprisingly heavy.

Jill: What is it like playing professionally? And obviously it’s overseas, but then coming home, I mean, what’s the atmosphere like in those games versus at home?

It doesn’t exist.

Brian Bell: Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s awesome. It’s kind of the one of the main reasons why I wanted to go over there because I’ve heard so many good things about how professional the leagues are over in Europe and how big the fan base is. And I was fortunate enough to be on two teams that have really, really great fan base and has stadiums that.

Pretty much filled up completely and they were really, really loud. They brought drums, they brought like horns, they brought all that type of stuff. And you could just, you know, hear the, the energy, the excitement throughout the whole stadium. And I love that and that, that, that type of stuff only got at the Paralympics.

Um, so. Dash would get it there and then, you know, all the time. It was amazing. Um, but then, of course, moving back now, you know, I have a full time job, more playing. more, I guess you could say recreational like league here. , you know, don’t have as strong of a fan base and it’s due to a lot of things.

A lot of competing sports in the U S like we have all types of professional sports to, you know, the top level all the way to, corn hole to darts to all types of stuff. So it’s a lot of competing sports, especially like things that are televised. so it’s just a lot harder to get like fan base awareness and stuff, , in the States.

Jill: Do you think there’s down the road, a potential for developing something that’s a little bigger than recreational?

Brian Bell: I think so. , it just takes a lot of work. I know in the past, we did have something league. that was when we. I think had like affiliation with like some of the NBA teams, back in the day. So that helps. I feel like if we can get maybe back to like doing something like that, um, or having like an affiliation with NBA teams and then, making teams that way, and then we can get some of the top players over in Europe or across the world to come to the States.

And then that way, you know, we have top level competition, top level games. Um, and then also we have, a top, , promoter like the NBA. To kind of back it and have that fan base, maybe even like occasionally play games like in those stadiums, that type of stuff. If we can get back to that, that would be, of course, amazing.

but I know, like, in the past, with, some leadership, , previously, It’s fallen out, like all types of stuff, that NWVA has to work with, especially right now. , the leadership now has to work with, with some of the previous mistakes and kind of pitfalls, , that have to kind of mend and it’s definitely going in the right direction, but it will take time.

Alison: Do you ever just hustle a pickup game? And people don’t know who you are.

Brian Bell: , I would say, no, not really, not anymore. I know in college I used to play like standing up quite a bit. but no, I don’t, I don’t do that very often. I do of course go to the, you know, 24 hour fitness or like open gyms to shoot and do all that type of stuff.

And then of course I get the occasional person come up to me like, Oh, you have a nice form or I see you like put in a lot of work on then ask like who I pay for. And then I tell them, and then they’re like, Oh really? You pay for Team USA? Like, I didn’t even know that type of stuff. So no, that’s always cool.

But also. I’m trying to, you know, work out and shoot. So it kind of gets annoying at times, but it is fine. It is cool though, to kind of get people’s opinions, words.

Alison: So do you feel the burden of having to be kind of a Paralympic ambassador and ambassador for wheelchair basketball in a way that able bodied athletes don’t have to,

Brian Bell: No, I wouldn’t say it’s a burden per se.

Um, I feel like. If people are willing to come up to me and ask questions, I’m definitely, open to answer them to inform them, even give them chances or opportunities of where they can watch basketball or wheelchair basketball in certain areas. because like I said, the awareness needs to be better In that area.

So if any type of things that I can do to help with that, I’m game and I’m willing to do so. So yeah, no burden at all.

Alison: Did we miss anything about wheelchair basketball that people should know?

Brian Bell: if I didn’t say it already, it’s really, really awesome. You should definitely watch it.

Jill: Well, duh. That’s a thing.

We’re excited to see it in Paris.

Alison: So, Brian Bell, thank you so much for joining us. We’re excited to see you in Paris.

Brian Bell: Thank you. Thank you guys for having me. It was awesome. It was fun.

Jill: Thank you so much, Brian. You can find Brian on Insta at B underscore Bell 1308 and on X at B underscore Bell 13. Thanks for tuning in. Bye.

Paris 2024 Viewing Guide Now Available

Alison: So you know what else came out today? No. The 3×3 Basketball Schedule for Paris. Oh my gosh, that is exciting! So that means we’ll be making some updates to our Viewing Guide, the eBook with the whole Olympic and Paralympic schedule, medal tables, event times and places, so you can figure out if you’re going, if you want to try and snap up some extra tickets, or when you’re sitting at home figuring out what you want to watch.

The viewing guide is available as an ebook on Amazon and Apple books. We’ll have links to that in the show notes. You can also find those links at our homepage, flamealivepod. com.

Jill: And I want to add that we’ve been, I’ve been seeing like little, Oh, here’s your viewing guide for Paris.

And it’ll have a chart which has what days metal events are on for every sport. We bring it down by time so that you can figure out and add a glance version. What time you need to be watching, what, when. that I think is one benefit of our e book, is that there’s a visual representation of, hey, this sport, you could have five sports on one day.

Oh, you’re probably going to have 29 sports on one day. Let’s, let’s be real. It’s going to be like 20 sports on one day. But they’re not gonna all be 9 to 2. We break it out.

Alison: And if you have Kindle Unlimited on Amazon, our book is included in that for free. So

Jill: please do check it out. We will have links to that in the show notes and also, you can find a graphic on our website that will point you right to it.

Paris 2024 News


Alison: La piscine est grande.

Jill: La piscine est grande. I’m looking at a big swimming pool every day for a few days. We’ve got a little bit of Paris 2024 news. Starting with the fact that , there have been 25 individuals invited to join the individual neutral athletes designation.

These are athletes from Russia and Belarus who have, met quotas, I would say, for different sports. Russia and Belarus are not coming as a team, as countries, they will not be there. because, of the Olympic truce that Russia has broken. So now we are starting to see that, yes, there may in fact be neutral athletes at these games.

Well, more, I think most of them are in wrestling, but there are a few scattered around other sports.

Alison: Yeah. A lot of federations banned Russian athletes and Belarusian athletes from competing at events that would have earned them. Quota spots or earned the points needed to qualify, but wrestling was not one of those.

So we won’t see athletes in a lot of other sports, not because they didn’t meet the, neutral athlete qualifications that the IOC put forth, but because they were never able to qualify.

Jill: Let’s keep on the so so news and talk about heavy rains that have been in France lately. And so what does that mean? The River Seine has unsafe elevated levels of E. coli, according to a published report by monitoring group Eau de Paris. And

I think that’s make of what you will. I believe those have been lower than they have been in the past, but we still have issues. And if there are, if there are heavy rains in July and August, this could be a problem, but we’ll have to see about that.

Alison: This is just going to be a wait and see. We really don’t know how this is going to play out.

And it’s unfortunate that they don’t seem to have a real. viable plan B to move the swimming. The plan B is it becomes a duathlon. For the triathlon,

Jill: and then, you know, they have some backup days for open water swimming. But even then, I don’t know if they have a backup plan to put the open water swimming anywhere else.

Alison: Right. So this is, unlike Zika, I actually think this is going to be a story that matters because it affects the actual events. and the athletes may or may not be able to participate in the Olympics in the way that they expected.

Jill: Speaking of the Seine, the opening ceremonies had a test event on the Seine.

Well, it’s not a test event, but they’re testing the Parade of Nation boats. And so they did a 55 boat parade on June 17th. And they’re going to do a longer one as well. So what they were talking about is getting the timing exactly right to have these boats go down the Seine. And that’s going to be critical because if they don’t go down the Seine at the right time, right moments.

Well, a, whatever performance elements are blended in those get thrown off. And I mean, you’ve got such a long waterway that you’re dealing with. If one thing, you know, it’s just a ripple effect down if it quite literally,

Alison: well, the, the sin is a living, breathing, thing. It’s not static. It moves it. There are literally things living in there.

So to include this element in the opening ceremony, we knew was a risk on many levels, but now we’re finding out risk that that we certainly didn’t think about, like, Oh, if the sin is moving at a faster or slower pace that day. What do you have to do to compensate for that? It’s like wind assisted, but in a much more complex way.

So we could see some real interesting timing. And I don’t know if American television will catch that, because they’ll be showing the opening ceremony on tape delay, so American viewers may miss out on some of these quirks. But we will be there in some way, and we will find some quirks.

Jill: and I bet they will have the ceremonies live, but I think it’s going to be like when you see stuff on TV, it’s flattened out or they have enough directors , watching enough monitors to be able to time it differently.

And you won’t see the issues that happen because they will jump to another part of the river or the stadium area. That’ll be interesting. HouseParty. blog has reported that there’s going to be a Korea House at Maison de la Chimie, an Art Deco style international conference center in the heart of Paris.

It will be within a 15 minute walk of the Urban Sports Cluster, the Grand Palais, which has fencing and taekwondo, and the uh, Invalides, which has archery and, and some of the road races and cycling will be around there as well. We don’t have a ton of information about it. It’s supposed to be open to the public, but It looks like tickets will be involved.

So we will have information for you as it becomes available. All right. I’m here at Swimming Trials, speaking of getting ready for Paris.

Report from U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials

Alison: We don’t have a sounder for a wave, but we’ll just go whoosh.

Jill: Uh, so it is at. Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, which is the home to the Indianapolis Colts American football team.

I am in the media center, which is a two story deal. If you have been to a football stadium, I am in one of those club sections. uh, if you have a nicer ticket and you get access to your own dedicated concession stands. And then there’s a lounge area. So this is a two floor situation. Uh, I’m in the bottom floor right now, ground level, and it’s got one, two, three, or four concession stand areas.

So take that as that’s how big the media center is. Uh, we’ve got like, it’s three to four tables long, the big folding eight foot tables. And then there’s about 10, 10 rows of tables or so. So that’s, and then behind me is a little roped off press conference area. And behind that’s the women’s bathroom, which is.

Was a struggle to find. Wander through pipe and drape. Avoid all the audio equipment that’s there for thee. For the press conferences and

Alison: then, uh, wander back and find the bathroom. Are those tables all full in the evening sessions? Like, are you really, how much press are you seeing?

Jill: Um, there is a fair amount here.

There’s also, we have tabled seating indoors. We are located on the start line area. But we are if we’re looking at the pool, we’re kind of to the right of the pool. So it’s not. necessarily a great location for watching. We can’t see the finish line very well. Even though we’re right there at the start, you can’t see down to see who finishes.

listener Patrick from Chicagoland was here yesterday and I got, I got to meet him. That was so exciting. And he actually had really good seats along just because all the fans are on the, They run the length of the pool for the most part. There is fan seating at either end of the pool, but the majority of it is along the length of the pool.

And it’s really spectacular to watch from there. I will say that. the good thing about where we’re sitting inside the stadium is that we also can wander over to the backstage area. And the pool area takes up about half of the football field. The pool that you see on TV, that’s just half of the football field.

And there’s curtain that separates it behind the curtain is another 10 lane pool, just like the one you see, plus an eight lane, 25 meter pool. So is that warm up, cool down, warm up, cool down pools right there. So that area is like chaos. It looks like chaos to me because of the fact that it. There are so many swimmers warming up and cooling down at any given time.

Also backstage is, uh, the mix zone. And for me to get to the mix zone, this is also great practice. Because I had forgotten about the rickety stairs made out of piping that we would encounter from time to time in Beijing. That is what we take to get down to the mix zone. The pools are, uh, raised, there’s a big platform because of course the pools have to go down, to get that depth.

So the platforms of the pools, the deck of the pool is above ground. And so there’s kind of ramp systems and stairs in the back that take you to the stairs that go down that take you to the mix zone area and then a ramp system that goes up to stay on the same pool deck line as, , the main pool. I do have to tell you that within a minute of walking into the pool area, I became obsessed with baskets.

Alison: And you texted me about baskets and I was very confused. I said, yes, I know our interview this week is basketball, but what are you talking about baskets with swimming?

Jill: This is the best. And I do want to see swimming in Paris to see if they do it as well as here. You know how, when the swimmers come out and they’re decked out, like it’s going to be a blizzard outside.

So they had to take off their gear and they put it in a basket. Every lane has a chair and a basket behind it for their gear. Well, after the start goes off, a line of 13 young people, maybe middle school, maybe high school age, come out. they walk out from the backstage. They’re all holding an empty basket.

Well, I’m sorry. Eight of them are holding empty baskets. Four of them have a little towel draped over their forearm. And there is a leader. The leader leads them to the edge of the 10th lane because they have two border lanes so that it, cuts down on the wave action within the pool while the swimmers are swimming.

They make a kind of sharp right turn. to go towards the pool, sharp left turn when they get to behind the basket area. They walk all the way down to the end of the pool, the leader raises her arm, and that is a signal for the basket people to get to work. They walk up, they take the full basket of clothing out of this little holder that’s on the ground, they put the empty basket in that holder, and then they go back in line.

The people with the towels, they go to the start blocks, and they wipe down two start blocks each. Then they all get back in line. Meanwhile, while this is happening, the leader is walking from lane one all the way down to lane ten, basically. And by the time the leader gets to the end, All of that basket choreography is done and those kids are back in line and they all walk back out.

Then they go behind the stage with their baskets and they put them, there’s a series of four long tables. They put the baskets on one table. Volunteers are there to kind of move them over to the next tables and then when the swimmers are done they come in and collect their stuff.

Alison: Is this while

Jill: the race is happening?

While the race is happening. the starcone goes off and the baskets come out. It is so amazing and I am missing a lot of the swimming action because I am so enthralled with baskets.

Alison: They remind me of the women who were the, the medal ceremony people at Beijing.

Remember that choreography? Yes. It’s exactly

Jill: like this. It is down to a science here. It is so. incredibly in sync and so amazing to watch. Then you get into the official’s kind of choreography. And I haven’t figured that out yet. I’ve got a couple more days here cause I’m only staying a few days, but. They also have different places to go and at the end of the race, they all leave the pool area and go to like their screens all set up on the floor level, so they walk behind that while everything else goes on and they’re getting ready for the next race.

If it’s something like a 400 meter race. Oh, no. This, this I noticed during the 200 meter freestyle. The gun goes off and there are no judges there. There’s the starter because they’ve got the, I mean the starter, it’s not a gun anymore. It’s a beep. The starting beep goes off. You’ve got starters and people on the side at the start that are watching.

And then you have stroke judges that are walking the lines of the pool and there’s maybe four down the pool. So they’re not necessarily seeing, not having to look at a huge section of the pool, but they’re, they’re watching. then once the swimmers go make that turn for the second length, the row of judges come out for the finish, all in a line, all choreographed.

I’m just, it is beyond, it’s just, everything is precisely timed here. And then you add on top of that, the fact that there are 17, 000 plus people. in the stands all screaming. How loud is it? It is so loud. I will, I will try to take a little bit of audio if I can of the, the screaming. I know on Saturday night, the opening night, there were over 20, 000 people here and that was a record for a swim meet attendance.

Uh, the day session yesterday was, uh, 17, 700 something. I’m not sure what the night session was, but it was packed and people are so into it. There are so many swimmers. There was the, In between races, and you can tell it’s like for commercial time, they’ve got a couple of people like hosting things, and walking around the pool, walking in the audience, shooting, you know, throwing T shirts into the audience.

And one talked to a little girl who had Katie Ledecky’s book with her, and she was hoping to get an autograph. I know, it just about melted your heart, and I think I heard later that Katie Ledecky did find her. Oh, I have no doubt. You know, cause, cause she’s like that. but the audience is just full of kids like that who are, maybe it’s a swimmer connected with their club because there are so many, you know, like there’s, there’s so many swimmers here.

There’s like 900 swimmers. there are clubs from all over the U S represented. And it’s just amazing to see the turnout and the excitement that is here for this race. nighttime. Beyond the final, I just, you have the crowd, which is incredibly loud. You have music, you have this light show that goes on in between everything.

The swimmers walk out from behind this digital board, which is 70 feet tall. In the back there is. a green screen where they can do poses and stuff so they can use that for the walkout.

When the medal ceremony happens, because , the winner gets a medal and I, I think they bring the next two out, but they don’t hand everybody a medal, but the winner rises from below deck.

Alison: Like Taylor Swift at a concert.

Jill: It’s amazing. They get their medal from another Olympian. Gretchen Walsh won the 100 meter fly. She got her medal from Dana Vollmer. I know.

Alison: Yeah. It seems like in the little snippets that I’ve seen on social media, a lot of Team USA swimmers are there. The swim community in the United States, we know just from our brief encounters with them are very tight and very aware of their history.

And it seems like a lot of those people are in Indianapolis with you.

Jill: Yeah, it’s incredible and then when they have the medal ceremony, they also make all of the screens the fascia screens around the stadium and the overhead, jumbotron are all golden and that reflects on the water and it’s just like, you, you get it, you get the feels, it’s, they make this so special and so exciting.

I mean, I can’t imagine the Olympics can top this, to be quite honest. It’s amazing.

Alison: And this sounds so USA Swimming.

Jill: Yes. Yes.

Alison: There’s something about USA Swimming that is very, very special. And it’s one of those federations that has some cash and knows how to spend it to really make these events just sparkle.

Jill: Yeah. So the meat itself is amazing. stadium is amazing. Everybody behind the scenes is just thrilled with it. And they should be, it’s, they put a ton of work into it. It looks great. It looks like it swims really well. We’ve already had one world record here. I will say that in person from my angle, it doesn’t look like they swim very fast.

Alison: You, you see, but honestly, because most sports in person, seem much faster.

Jill: I know, but there’s something, and I bet it’s because I’m sitting at an end and it might be better. And you just like, everybody’s going fast. So you’re just like, well, this is the speed. Right. And I honestly, I know this is very embarrassing, but I did go for a swim for a first swim in a long time.

And I was doing, at my YMCA and I was doing some sprints. Breaststroke because that’s my stroke and I’m like, oh, I could do a length of the pool in 30 seconds And then they were doing a hundred meter breaststroke. I’m like, oh Jacoby’s just under 30 seconds for a link. I could do that. And then I realized oh wait, I was doing a 25 yard pool

Master swimmer Jill I still got it. But you know who still has it is Gabrielle Rose Who, at 46 years old, made the semi finals in the 100 meter breaststroke. She actually, she didn’t make it out of the semis, but she made it into the semis. , alternates group for the finals, just in case, because there’s something about here’s who’s made the finals.

Let us know. And they announced, let us know your intentions within 30 minutes. I’m like, Oh, I guess they have to confirm that they want to swim because maybe somebody got injured or whatever, but they always have two behind that who are ready to go at a moment’s notice. I did get into her mixed zone after she got into the semifinals.

Um, she said she was, I mean, so proud a first off, being 46, she swam at Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 and had been swimming masters. And it was like, you know, I’m, I’m doing well, you’re making a qualifying time for the trials. Why not? Why not see what I got? And she was. amazed to get into the semifinals. She looked good. Somebody asked her in the mixed zone about her.

It was kind of surprised that she was doing breast stroke now. And she said, you know, that was my original stroke and I lost it when I was like 12 and that’s, I know. And I mean, it helped when she, she did the, I am for a long time. That was one of her events in both Olympics.

And. Um, she was just really happy that that little girl got to swim breaststroke at an elite level again. And that was really touching. my mix on tape is not good quality. I will tell you that right now. It’s so loud in there and you’ve got the pools going, I mean, just the, you don’t realize the noise from the pool that is going on.

I don’t know. There’s probably a couple hundred swimmers in there at any given moment. but all the chaos makes it really hard for me to get decent audio. We’ve got a blog now on our website, flame of life So I’ll try to get something written up about what she said in that, that mic zone, hundred meter breath semifinals, Lydia Jacoby going through.

So happy for her.

I don’t understand what the heat designation is because she is not in the same heat as Lily King and wasn’t in the final heat. She was in the second to the last heat. So I don’t know why that is. happened the way it did, but she is going through to the finals. Those will be tonight. ,

punching their ticket to Paris was Carson Foster in the 400 IM, Gretchen Walsh in the 100 meter fly and Nick Fink in the 100 meter breaststroke.

Katie Ledecky has already won something here. Uh, she and Simone Manuel Going through to the finals in the 200 meter free, which will be tonight. It was so exciting to see Simone Manuel out there swimming. She got huge cheer from the audience, especially when she got out of the pool. Just made it in the semifinals.

So I am so thrilled that she is in a final again. She started her semifinal race really strong and other swimmers caught up to her at the end. But I’m curious to see what she brings for the finals.

Alison: Oh, I want to see her get back to Paris.

Jill: Carson Foster and Gretchen Walsh both missed Tokyo 2020. So this was just so happy of a story for them.

They had gone pretty lows. Both had worked with, performance coaches and confidence coaches in the last, three years leading up to this. And they said that they made a huge difference in their performance. and I think

Alison: they talk about because his, he and his partner are expecting a baby and it was all father’s day.

Nick Fink got another father’s day, you know, an early father’s day guest. So you gotta love the stories that, that come out of swimming.

Jill: Right. And, and I will say we are close to where standups at the end. Even though I said it looked like they weren’t swimming fast, I know they are working so hard because I can see how heavy he is breathing at the end of these things.

All of these swimmers are just like,

Alison: American swimming and Australian swimming. And there’s a couple other events in the world where getting on the team is almost harder than what happens at the Olympics. I mean, the hurdle is the trials.

Jill: And then Kirsten Foster said that in his press conference last night, he said, yeah, I’ve heard that , the trials is harder and it’s a bigger thing.

So I’m, I just can’t imagine what the Olympics does beyond this. One thing there was some backstroke going on last night So that was fun to see the setup of putting the little start bar on the starting blocks.

Alison: That’s a whole thing so I had come across a Social media post and I apologize for not remembering and making a note of which American swimmer it was It’s a retired backstroker talking about how in Lucas Oil Stadium.

They don’t have the normal roof, like you would at an auditorium or at a training pool. So the backstrokers are pretty much the only ones who are going to be affected by being in this massive stadium.

Jill: Yeah. And it’s interesting also to see the flags they have that designate like five meters to go are on piping that is raised up for all of the events and then lowered for backstroke.

But they have this huge jumbotron in the center. And on the underside of the jumbotron is a U. S. Olympic, logo. So I’m wondering if that is there to help them. see what is going on. It is a steady light that they can judge distance from.

Alison: Right. Because they’re used to being able to see something.

Whereas if you’re, you know, you’re in Lucas Oil Stadium, you just look up and see space for miles and miles.

Jill: Right. But I, I am betting that because the competition pool is one that you can warm up in as well. So I am betting that they are working very hard to figure out stroke and stroke count. They all know their stroke counts anyway.

Um, so they’re working to figure out, okay, this stroke gets me to this side of the jumbotron. Two or three strokes gets me through the jumbotron and how many strokes out. So yeah, it’s, it’s going to be curious. I will keep an eye on that because we’ll have more breadth backstroke while I’m here.

Alison: you’re there for one more day, two more days,

Jill: uh, two more days and maybe into Wednesday.

So I’m here tonight, it’s Monday, I’m here all day, Tuesday, Wednesday I’m leaving, but I probably will come to the morning session.

Alison: So we’ll have things on social media at flamealivepod in various places.

Jill: It might be a lot of pool, but oh my gosh, I did take some time yesterday and walk through the AquaZone, Indianapolis has gone all out for this.

The Marriott hotel has a huge AquaZone. Swimming thing on the side. Those pedestrian walkways between buildings. They have a couple of those that are draped with swimming banners. Uh, there’s a huge swimming banner outside on Lucas oil stadium.

banners of different swimmers including Lydia. So I did take a picture of hers. , then in the convention center, which is just across the street is the Toyota Aqua Zone. And that is a big fan fest type of thing. Oh my gosh, it is incredible. they had t shirt giveaway. They had All these activities, like, a lot of them are for kids, but there are some adults doing stuff too.

There’s a coloring area for, you know, if you need to calm down a little bit. They have a little game that is throw the goggles over the row of the flag line.

They’ve got, a little basketball, it looks like pop a shot thing. They’ve got a huge table for autographs. And just the line to get into the autograph sessions is, Unbelievably long. Flanking the autograph tables are, on either side, one is for women, one is for men. That is where they’re putting the names of everybody who’s made the team so far.

Right. They have this giant American flag made out of the lane lines. that’s hanging from the wall.

Alison: Oh, that’s clever. I think

Jill: Toyota has this whole setup in the middle. Of course they have cars and they’re wrapped in swimming stuff.

So like Caleb Dressel is on a car, but they have a little area of try it sports and they have a tiny little basketball court with, it’s just It’s a regulation size basket and then a shorter basket for kids, but it’s for wheelchair basketball. So you can try wheelchair basketball, right? They have a little speed skating area with a big cutout of Erin Jackson.

You put on booties over your shoes and you can do this, the speed skating slides. They have a little, inflated curling, like half sheet where you’ve got these curler curling stones that are on wheels. It’s, it’s, it’s almost like the. Uh, whiteboard, whiteboard, the, remember that hard surface curling that we did at the Hundred Days Out to Pyeong?

Oh, yeah, it is like a whiteboard. Yeah, it’s a little bit like that, but, but it’s got, inflated bumpers around it so that the things don’t go off. there is a very short little track that kids can run down. It may be like 40 meters, and of course, like, oh, this is perfect to get energy out of your kids.

Alison: they can try track. Which actually translates into parents would actually like to sit and watch the race. Right. So let’s tire them out.

Jill: A tiny little area for hockey and they’ve got a little sled hockey on wheels there that you can get into. It’s a really cool setup. For that, uh, there’s some other boosts of stuff around like Swimming World magazine is here and there’s other types of products.

Speedo has a huge area that’s got like a goggle Hall of Fame wall on it. And they’ve got a little display with some of the advances and, you know, when goggles got into the Olympics and things like that. And then. There is a massive store here. You can go and buy, some goggles in the store and then customize them all at the Speedo booth.

So you can pick out , the rubber thing that goes around, , your head. You can pick out what , the nose bridge looks like. You can pick out what the, the lenses are like, if they have, different reflectance in them or shading in them, you can pick out, some of them have, , designs around the rim of the goggle.

It is so cool, right? It is so amazingly cool. those are 45. It’s very tempting, I will tell you that. every sports manufacturer is here with a massive amount of clothing and accessories. and then there’s Team USA gear here too. I have seen the Visa bags. that they have. they don’t have athletes on them.

One side says Paris and the other side says 2024 and they’re kind of a springy colors like blues and light blue and green and yellow. then in the wandering through the store, which I didn’t spend a ton of time in cause it was time to move on. Those long coats that swimmers wear when they come out, 500.

A tier one with 500 bucks. And I bet way too long

Alison: for either of us.

Jill: Probably. Um, so that was the AquaZone. Then they’ve got like a three block stretch of downtown all blocked off with a a 67 foot Eiffel tower, 66 foot Eiffel tower replica that they’ve built here. There’s other different photo ops. So the Purdue university giant marching band drum is here and they have a couple of other displays that are obvious for taking selfies or getting photos taken. They have a little, starter flag area from the Indy 500 that you can walk up and wave all the flags. And then they have concerts every night. So they’ve got a whole little stage set up.

There’s one area and I have to go back and wander down this to see if there’s more streets named. But there was one area I saw, oh hey, this is, Babishoff Street. And they renamed a bunch

Alison: of

Jill: streets for swimmers.

Alison: So there was Phelps and um, I think there was an Elizabeth Beisel.

There was a whole bunch that they, uh, and

Jill: Dana Vollmer has a street. Those are the two I saw were Babishoff and Vollmer. I’m like, Oh, this is cool. But I didn’t see any others. I was surprised. There’s a Speedo Cafe. that you can get food at,

Alison: I think. Can you wear your Speedo to the Speedo cafe? We should call Tony Acevedo, our water polo friend, who said he has gone to dinner in his Speedo.

I’ve not seen that.

Jill: I’ve not seen that yet, but I would not be surprised either. So it is, an amazing spectacle. If you are down here. If you are anywhere near here, I would try to come, to be quite honest. It’s really cool. It’s a lot of fun. It gets you in the mood for Paris for sure. So, uh, yeah, put swimming on the list.

Definitely. I know you want to see Adam Peaty. I do. But, yeah, both of us have to get to the pool at some point just to see what this is like. But, uh, thank you to USA Swimming for letting me in and, uh, it’s great practice and great, great way to get excited about the games.

International Olympic Committee News

Jill: We’ve got a little IOC news, , left over from last week’s executive board meeting. The executive board has voted to propose to the IOC session that they should create an Olympic Esports games

Alison: the one that the sort of the trial run that they did last year.

Theme Music: Mm hmm

Alison: was very successful So maybe this

Jill: makes sense.

Yeah, I’m very curious about this because They have been doing some eSports stuff and I mean this is all happening very very quickly You extremely quickly for a body like the IOC to make some change. But they said with the Olympic Esports Week, there were 500, 000 people around the world that took part and some way or watched it.

And to them, that was a great measure of success. There were just 150 participants there. So I’m very curious as to what kind of event they want to make, how long they want to make it. And I also wondered if this was a, we need something else for that year in between. There always has to be an Olympics going on because of the fact that life moves so quickly now and I’m curious as to how having Paris and having a non pandemic Olympics will create interest in the Olympic movement again.

But I’m also wondering if this is another way to keep the Olympics in everybody’s brain for longer. I mean, it’s in our brain every day, but I do wonder if there’s just like, we got to remain viable. So that will be another thing voted on in, at the session ahead of Paris 2024.


Alison: Welcome to Shookflist On.

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 Shookflist On.

Alison: Andrew Capobianco is competing at the U. S. Olympic diving trials on Tuesday, June 18th and Friday, June 21st. In the U. S. all events will be streaming on Peacock and the finals will air on NBC.

Jill: track cyclist Mandy Marquardt did not make the U. S. track cycling Olympic team, but this was as expected.

If you remember for our interview, she said They didn’t get quota spots in her main event, so she hadn’t planned on making the team, and she was really pushing for LA 2028. You know, it’s always kind of a bummer to not see your name on a list, but she wasn’t planning on going anyway.

She is doing a 5k at 80 a virtual challenge to raise diabetes awareness and the importance of a healthy lifestyle. The event goes from June 19th through 23rd and you could join her team and help raise some money for diabetes. And we’ll have a link to that in the show notes.

Alison: Megumi Field, and Daniela Ramirez will be competing at the World Artistic Swimming Event, the Hungarian Open, June 20th to 23rd in Budapest.

Jill: And Lydia Jacoby and Bobby Fink will be still competing here in Indianapolis.

It was great to meet Patrick from Chicagoland. Listener Lorry was here. I admit, our paths crossed. She was here on Saturday. I was, I was not here on Saturday. And, uh, if any other listeners. are coming to the, to the trials, please let us know in our Facebook group or, on socials, and I will be sure to come and find you.

And that is going to do it for this episode. Let us know what you think of wheelchair basketball. And also if you’re watching the swimming trials.

Alison: Find us on X, YouTube and Instagram at flamealivepod, send us an email at flamealivepod at gmail. com, call or text us at 208 352 6348, that’s 208 FLAME IT. 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 Thursday, we will hopefully have the U. S. Olympic fencing team. I got some editing to do this week. So be on the lookout for that because Alison had a great time at Fencing Media Day and got a ton of wonderful audio.

So we are looking forward to bringing that to you. And please do not forget to tell a friend about the show. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, keep the flame alive.