These past few weeks have been quite humbling for us in Faroese swimming, with people acknowledging the little or lot we have managed to do with miniscule resources. Pál was invited to join the Europe team in the “Duel in the Pool” against USA in December, we had 4 young swimmers (and a coach) doing well at a LEN open water training camp in Spain, and I got to be in the “World/Regional Swimmers of the Year” panel of SwimmingWorld Magazine. Sweet.
Baby steps, baby steps, but actually huge steps from the viewpoint of this baby. I did a calculation last Friday based on this Answer.com article, that showed that with our population of about 50.000 people, the odds are that there will be 12-13 years between each Faroese participant at the Olympic Games (in any sport), and 440-460 years between each Olympic gold medal. With Pál having a realistic chance of reaching the London 2012 final in the 1500 freestyle, you can imagine that this probability puts a bit of pressure of those of us in charge, that don’t count on living for 500 years.
(In case you’re wondering, then yes, they are all this beautiful. Why do you think we’re staying on these cliffs?)
He will be training here on the Faroe Islands, as he has always done, but this year with a couple more training camps abroad than he is used to. To get away from the winter darkness, to train long course and to find suitable training partners.
Don’t believe people who say that Pál is a product of training in the States or Denmark – he has always lived and trained on the Faroe Islands, except for a month-long training camp in Aalborg before the European juniors in 2008, a 2,5 week-long training camps in Spain before Paris Open 2009, a 3 week-long training camp in Estonia before the World Championships in 2009, a 3 week-long training camp in France before the European Championships in 2010, a month-long training camp in Britain and Singapore before the World Championships in 2011, and a couple of two-week long ‘Battle Camps’ in Potsdam in January 2010 and 2011. That is it, the rest is ‘home bred’ in small time Vágur on the Faroe Islands, with our own (Faroese) Jón Bjarnason as coach.
This year will be different though, where he for instance now is on a 3-week-long training camp in Potsdam, Germany, under the tutelage of former 1500 world champion and world record holder Jörg Hoffmann, whom he knows well from the two ‘battle camps’. ‘Hoffie’ is certainly piling on pressure, arranging 3 workouts a day, and spicing it with for instance the “Postdamer Kurzbahnmeisterschaften”, where Pál participated in the 100 + 200 + 400 + 1500 freestyle plus the 400 IM, with training in between, and won everything except the 200 freestyle (because it was right after the 1500 freestyle, bad excuse, I know).
Surrealistic by the way for a not-so-used-to-good-results Faroese, to see German 400 IM record holder Yannick Lebherz describing the 400 freestyle as his highlight of the meet, which he managed to win with exactly the same time as Pál. I mean, he beat Pál in the 200, and he is from the 81 million strong Germany.
Meanwhile, Pál’s coach Jón Bjarnason was in Calella, Spain, at a LEN open water training camp with 4 of our best young distance swimmers. Turned out they were quite a bit younger than the rest, but still they didn’t wimp out, but battled on under Jón’s motto “tú verður ljótur av at grenja” (“you’ll turn ugly by complaining”). Up to the point where Cecilia born in 1996 said “hatta var deiligt” (“that was lovely”) after her very first open water swim, a 3×2000 meter freestyle swim where she apparently dished out quite a bit of whoop-ass. In short, they did well.
And then, yes, I was invited to join the “World/Regional Swimmers of the Year” panel of SwimmingWorld Magazine, which means that a little part of the ‘World’s best swimmer’ decision was in my hands. Humbled by this honour, tried to do my very best. And no, Pál wasn’t on my list, will pull out when it gets relevant.
Oh well, I’m rambling now. This Saturday we’ll arrange a televised dual-meet against Iceland in Klaksvík, together with the Faroese television (I’ll try to arrange some web link). Next weekend again it will be the World Cup í Stockholm. Somewhere in this period, I’ll turn 40.