U.S. coach pools Athens resources

Eddie Reese: Longtime Texas coach says he won't play favorites in his fifth straight Olympics.


May 19, 2004|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

AUSTIN, Texas - Speedo will pay Michael Phelps a $1 million bonus if he wins seven gold medals at the Olympics.

Ian Crocker could be his biggest obstacle in Athens. Eddie Reese is both Crocker's coach and the head coach of the U.S. men's team that will go to Greece.

"I told Michael, Ian has been offered a $300,000 bonus from Speedo if he beats him," Reese said. "They would save $700,000."

Reese was joking, which he does regularly at the University of Texas. On the deck at the Jamail Swimming Center, in the weight room and coaches' offices at Darrell Royal Stadium, Reese cajoles everyone, from swimmers to basketball bigwigs who don't normally run with the non-revenue rabble.

A 62-year-old Florida native who began his coaching career at Roswell (N.M.) High, Reese recently completed his 26th season at Texas. His Longhorns have won eight of the past 17 NCAA titles, and Texas guys past, present and future made up one-third of the American men's team in Sydney four years ago. This will be Reese's fifth straight Olympics on the U.S. coaching staff and his second stint as the head coach.

His swimmers log perhaps two-thirds of the mileage that Phelps does. Reese's training program is heavy on weightlifting and nailing a taper, the process of gearing down training before a meet. He is not bashful about his philosophy, as Texas basketball coach Rick Barnes discovered four years ago, when his team got blown out at Oklahoma 16 days after handling the Sooners.

"Eddie was in my office the next day," Barnes said. "He asked, `How good is our friendship?' He told me that I had cost my team that game, by working them too hard. Eddie stressed that the human body can only handle three hard days a week and that games better be two of those. That episode made my weight coach and I revamp our entire program. If you notice, the last few years, we've been all right down the stretch."

Texas reached the 2003 Final Four.

Reese could be on a hot spot in Athens, where relay berths are not assured for Phelps.

"If the medley relay comes down to his seventh medal, I'll let my assistants make the decision," Reese said. "Seriously, my only goal is to get the fastest relay possible. None of that other stuff [performance bonuses] flies with me. As the Olympic coach, I want Michael to swim every event he can. I want all the medals we can get. When we had a camp after the spring nationals, he took more relay starts than anybody."

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