Sunday, October 15, 2017


The word "community" derives from the Old French comunet√©, which comes from the Latin communitas "community", "public spirit" (from Latin communis, "shared in common").[4]
Human communities may share intentbeliefresourcespreferencesneeds, and risks in common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness

In the United States swimming world we have large and small communities. From the larger USA Swimming organization to the smaller local LSC to the even smaller local swim club we all take some measure of solace knowing we are linked together through a common purpose.
Often we get overly absorbed in our self-importance. This is natural and understandable given the pursuit of achievement our activity engenders: best times, “cuts”, making finals, touching the pad first, being recruited, getting accepted, committing to the college of our (and their) choice. The list is endless, or at least seemingly so most times.
However, often lost in the fray is the humanness of the community in which we reside. Now and then we are acutely reminded that the most important aspect of community is indeed the human connection.
This last week here in Northern California we have received a jolt of reality; swimming is not actually the most important item in our life – let alone how fast we swim. The communities of Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Napa, Calistoga – the list is nearly endless – burned to the ground: Literally.
So many of our swim community have been affected. Loved ones have been lost. Homes and business burned to the ground. It is an ongoing tragedy.
We have not had swim practice for a week. Tough for us but not really. The pools will reopen and the air will be breathable again, sooner than later.
Those who have had their lives turned upside down by the fires are changed forever. We have responded as a larger swim community to those in need. Our hope is that the giving – and the receiving – will remind us that the community is once again – and always – more important than any one of us.
Tough life lesson.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Mom is Making Eggs

A mom is making eggs for her teenage boy for breakfast. As he walks in, “Mom, don’t burn them. Careful! Careful! Don’t mess up, don’t let them burn. You are going to mess up. Be careful! Be careful!”
Finally the Mom snaps. “I know what to do. I’ve cooked eggs before!”
“I know Mom. I was just trying to show you what it’s like when I’m playing soccer”.
We overheard at a meet this weekend a Mom saying, “She added a second” using a tone that you might have thought belonged in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the hurricanes.
And the beat goes on…

Sunday, October 1, 2017

3 Sets

Here are 3 main sets we have done. Our warmups are usually about 1000 yards or so then some sort of warmup set before what is usually a main set. Sometimes there are multiple rounds of the main set. These are ideas you can riff off of to your heart’s content J
Mill Valley Mile – we did 1 round of this short course in the afternoon last summer after long course in the morning
2x25/.25 fast then 2x25/.45 smooth
4x25/.25 fast then 2x25/.45 smooth
6x25/.25 fast then 2x25/.45 smooth
8x25/.25 fast then 2x25/.45 smooth
10x25/.25 fast then 2x25/.45 smooth
8x25/.25 fast then 2x25/.45 smooth
6x25/.25 fast then 2x25/.45 smooth
4x25/.25 fast then 2x25/.45 smooth
2x25/.25 fast…1650 total…a Ken speed set; lots of group energy on this one

IM Round Robin – we did 4 rounds of this last summer in our long course pool which is 40 meters; each round is 20 laps or 800 meters; the interval is 45 seconds per lap
1 lap fly then 4 laps free
2 laps fly to back then 3 laps free
3 laps fly – back – breast then 2 laps free
4 laps IM then 1 lap free…took one hour to do 3200 meters…awesome set from Ken

500 freestylers rule the world – done this fall for our 200/500 group
500/6:30 negative split
300/4 each 100 gets faster
2x100/1:15 progressive (many of you say descend)
2x50/.35 one fast; one faster
300/4 As Above
2x100/1:15 As Above
2x50/.35 As Above
2x100/1:15 As Above
2x50/.35 As Above…2000 yards in @ 27 minutes; we did 3 rounds with a minute rest between rounds…Don prefers things that have descending intervals while swimming faster as you get deeper into the set
Got a favorite set that worked? Share it with us and we’ll push it out for the rest of our sport’s community to benefit from your experience.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Let’s Make Sure Everybody Can Do…

Most coaches seem to have a formula; you know, a way to get everyone into shape so that each swimmer can do the work required to be great…or at least some version of great.
The question still remains, what if everyone is different? How do we then approach our developmental paradigms? Take breaststroke for instance. It has so many various ways that it is nearly impossible to have everyone swim it the same way. Certainly there are some basic “musts” but beyond that the wise coach figures out how to take what the swimmer has and work with that.
Same with conditioning; if your race takes 2 minutes then you need to get in good enough “shape” to be able to deliver the goods for the entire 2 minutes, without a smidgen of let up. Then you need to get control over your brain’s desire to keep you from killing yourself. It wants you to ease up a bit, here and there. You need to control those very real, very natural responses…for the last parts (different amount of time for each swimmer) of those 2 minutes.
When we saw the image below it resonated with us. Perhaps it will for you as well. Have a great workout, a bunch of them, this week!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Bono & Ali

“It’s almost impossible to be great. That’s why we call it great. And that’s our drug of choice. Very good is the enemy of great — there’s lots of that. But who wants to be in a very good band at this point? Whatever you think of our oeuvre, or whatever you think of the U2 group, we’re still attempting to get beyond ourselves.”
You pick the specifics but you get the idea…
Making Winter Juniors is really very good. What’s great is getting a nighttime swim…even greater is making Summer Juniors at the meet.
I’m a pretty good kicker, maybe even very good since I can kick on the 1:30 interval. Great would be going on the 1:20 and even greater would be on the 1:15.
But when I kick on the 1:30 I am so much better than those who are on the 1:40; so all is good…but not actually great.
Go back to the first sentence and look at the use of the word “impossible”. Now go to the link below and see what you think about “impossible”.
Thanks to Madeline for the Bono quote and to Theo for the Ali quote.

Sunday, September 10, 2017


A.   Art----goes to the bank sporadically...deposits some $$ here and there....things always seem to come up to keep Art from going to the bank as often as he would like.
Vacation--- one week at the Raisin Festival in Fresno. Wishes he had a better vacation and vows next year to do a better job of investing.
B.    Betty---always goes to the bank, but when there won't deposit much as it is not worth it to her to give up that $$. Sometimes she will go to the bank and just sit in the lobby because they have a nice flat screen TV to watch.
Vacation----attends rodeo in Vacaville while staying at the Embassy Suites because they have a good breakfast. She can't understand why she can't have a better vacation because after all, she did go to the bank all the time.
C.    Carney---banks somewhat sporadically, but when he does go to the bank, he really puts a whole lot of $$ away. He tends to put more away as vacation time looms.
Vacation---weekend splitting time at Disneyland and California Adventure . . . He really digs the fact that they are now playing Red Hot Chili Peppers music when going on Space Mountain. He wonders what  his vacation would be like if he went to the bank more often as he sure has a pretty nice vacation for the amount of time he puts into it.
D.   Donna---always goes to the bank and when there, is willing to deposit some hard earned cash into her account. Because of her great abilities and thoughtfulness of planning her life, she has enough left over to still live a great and balanced life throughout the year. There are some sacrifices that have to be made, but not as much as you would think and the payoff is worth it.
Vacation---a week at a fancy resort in the Hawaiian Islands. She is able to sit on the beach while being served pupus and having tropical drinks served in glasses with teeny umbrellas in them. She is living the dream.
E.    Ebenezer---spends way too much time at the bank. Invests most of his $$ while denying himself the day to day fun that life can bring. Eats Saltines and peanut butter everyday to save money and then wonders why his cholesterol is so darn high.
Vacation---doesn't go on vacation because he has no friends and needs the money to visit a therapist. Eventually he stars in a Christmas story where 3 ghosts visit him, sending him back the therapist once again.
ON A SCALE OF ONE TO TEN (With one being dangerous to being in a pool unassisted and ten being Phelpsian in your talent), WHERE WOULD YOU RANK YOURSELF IN TALENT?
ON A SCALE OF ONE TO TEN (With one sending your teammates screaming at the site of you to ten being Miguel Mattox), WHERE WOULD YOU RANK YOURSELF AS A TEAMMATE?
Note: Ken told Miguel before his freshman year in college that he could go a 1:47 200 back. Miguelwas skeptical to say the least. In Miguel’s final conference meet he won the 200 back going away, blowing the field off on the last 2 walls and went a 1:47…

Monday, September 4, 2017

It’s Been A While

We’ve been on sabbatical…poolside of course and missing the opportunity to share what’s on our mind so here goes…
We have had 6 workouts of a pre-season style, getting wet and looking around to see who is missing (the graduated seniors) and who is going to take their places (and it is fun to watch them look around and see who it will be that takes up leaderships roles).
Anyway, tomorrow we begin again in earnest, chasing some more dreams. It is a momentous time of year and we look forward to it annually. Here is our first workout, the first real one in nearly a month or so…way back in taper time J
9-5-17 youth             Goals: work works
Short team meeting…1 – hand out blue print for our fall training block  2 – discuss having training partners for accountability purposes
Wmp 4x50/.45 then 900 IM set [4x25/.30 fly back br fr then 8x25/27.5 then 12x25/.25 then 8 x 25/.22.5 then 4x25/.20……20 mins 1100 [ have someone good at math lead ]
15x200 all negative split with # 5, 10, and 15 at RACE point (like a race where it counts)
1-5 swim/2:45  6-10 pull/3  11-15 swim w fins/2:30
15x150 progressive (many of you say descend) 1-5 all on 2:10       1-5 swim, 6-10 pull, 11-15 swim w fins
In each 150 make the 50’s get faster within the 150………..110 mins/ 6350
10x50/1 choice, fast as you can……….120 mins/ 6850

Monday, April 24, 2017

Keep It Simple

Coaches sometimes are guilty of over-explaining things. It’s as if when more words are used it will drive home the point better, more effectively. More often than not this isn’t the case; in fact quite the opposite may occur. It this age of speed and desire for quick results perhaps it is in everyone’s best interests to keep it simple.

Below comes from TK who made a very introspective observation last week…

“Hey there, I was taking a practice AP test today and came by this quote.

"He who has a why to live can bear almost any how."

I thought that was an interesting way to look at swimming, if you know why you are swimming  (other than times of course) there shouldn't be anything stopping you from going to practice or making the extra commitments to the sport in order to succeed.”

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Breaking New Ground

In his new book  PEAK  Andres Ericsson (with Robert Pool) describes in detail how neuro science can now measure that which coaches (and teachers) have known for decades; namely that to move forward in pursuit of excellence you must break free of your comfort zone(s).
The value of deliberate practice, not merely 10,000 hours of practice, is measurable these days in a variety of ways. Sports, music, chess, and surgery – you name it and the evidence is irrefutable. You simply must push past what you already know and or can do in order to get better.
Another key component is developing mental representations of mastery. In our sport of swimming this would be in the area of developing flawless technique. Teach a competitive swimmer how to best move through the water using mental representations. Simply put, have a swimmer look at a video clip or even a still picture of a proper technique point, then film him/her and let them see the comparison. Then allow them to develop their own mental representation of them doing it correctly. Then allow them hours and hours of deliberate practice to adapt to that representation…all the while giving them information in the form of visual feedback.
We often use our phone to film a swimmer doing one thing or another that we are focusing on, and then send it to them so they can see it later. Sometimes, we will even show it to them at the pool if time allows.
It seems to us that there are the two equal parts to faster swimming…and we realize this is risky business, boiling things down to simplistic terms…technique and physical capabilities.
So we keep working the technique side…daily. And we have been emphasizing the comfort zone side daily as well, even if for only short periods of time.
Today we warmed up for about an hour then gave them a Finis tempo trainer. If you set it to function #2 you can set a time to a full second. Then we had them do a 200 or a 100 or even a 50 at goal pace. So, if a guy wants to swim 50 in 20.0 we had him set the TT at 10. He went from the block when the TT beeped and then stopped after the TT beeped for the 3rd time – the 2nd time he was in the water. If he was 4 yards short of the touch pad the conversation went like this. “When you put a suit on, rest and shave you will get some of the 4 yards but the remainder of the 4 yards comes from the work you do daily over the next several weeks”.
We are reinforcing the value of the daily work in training when we ask them to push outside of their current comfort zone. This constant daily pushing, breaking new ground, plus developing mental representations is going to be key to their speed going forward; plus their confidence improves over time. Next week we will do the same set and give them a chance to see if they are improving.
Swimming is beautiful –and brutal – in that the stopwatch never lies (thanks to Pete at UCD for that bit of wisdom).
Thanks to Craig at Brentwood Seawolves for untangling the TT. You must have a number divisible by 4 since the TT doesn’t have tenths of a second in setting #2. For example, a 1:56 200 you would set the TT at 29 while a 56 100 you would set it at 14.
Break new ground daily and you must get faster. As Steve Bultman at Texas A&M says, “You just don’t know when it will happen, but it will”.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

What Competitive Swimming Means

It is college conference time and many former NBA swimmers are in action across the land. What follows is from Miguel after we gave him shout outs for his epic 1:47 200 back race. And it reinforces the point we speak to all the time here in our local swim community: swimming belongs to the swimmers…period. Our local summer league teams often (not always) say “You (NBA) are stealing our swimmers” when they decide they want more than the summer league has to offer. When a swimmer outgrows the existing environment and seeks a more challenging one, our attitude is “Awesome, go for it!” Miguel doesn’t “belong” to NBA…rather he is held in good stead by us until he is ready to move to his next vista point. Nobody owns a swimmer…Curt Flood saw to that.
Thanks Miguel for being such a valuable contributor to the North Bay history book!
“Thanks guys! Really amazing journey and I owe tons of it to the each of you, mean Mike, nice Mike and the whole North Bay community. I've been dreaming of that exact swim I did last night since high school. I still remember when you (Ken) told me I could go a 1:47 and I thought you were crazy. Thanks for believing in me. As for everything else, the lessons I learned on NBA regarding leadership, culture, teamwork and just being a well-rounded person are priceless and knowledge I'll carry with me for my whole life. The team (Fordham) exceeded all expectations, finished 4th (if it were swimming only, we would've smoked the 3rd place team). We broke 12 school records (all 5 relays, 7 individual). I was a part of 2 relays and the 2back record obviously. I've never been a part of a greater team atmosphere as I was last night. Swimming is so cool. Thanks for everything!”

Sunday, February 12, 2017


“If you don’t have the time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
~John Wooden

Ken found this quote the other day and it dovetails nicely into a current thread of conversation with our team. Most swimmers have goals and many even have a time frame of when they want to accomplish the goal(s).

Often the missing component is the plan of action. With some help from your coach and honest introspection (painful as that may be) you can determine where you are today visa vie the trajectory toward successful completion of your goal. Once you adopt your plan of action – doing what you are currently not doing to get what you want – the critical final component is “the when”.

Keeping it simple here…let’s say your freestyle tempo is 1.7+ when you swim a 200. When you swim a great 100 free it is 1.25…how can you swim a great 200 with a 1.7 tempo? The answer for 99.9% of the swimmers on the planet is you cannot. You will need to drop that tempo to 1.3 or even perhaps 1.4.

How do you do that? There are several ways that come to mind…let go of the water…increase your kick speed making sure your kicks are smaller thus quicker…and toughen up a bunch. 1.7 tempo doesn’t hurt as much as 1.3 so if you want to avoid the pain stay at 1.7 and quit complaining about your 200 speed. We coaches don’t want to hear about your frustrations.

We’d rather hear you declare “the when” as in WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO DO IT? Then quit your belly aching and just do it…or as Bob Bowman says, “It’s ok with you if I change your goal card, right?”

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Suit

When it comes to swimming fast in a meet – also known as racing – there seems to us to be 4 factors: rest (taper), tech suit, shave and mindset.
We would rank them in this order of importance: mindset, rest, and techsuit/shave.
We went to an early season conference meet last weekend that had trials and finals with most swimmers having a solid shot at a second swim (3heats, 10 lanes). One of our guys, a junior in high school named Max opened our eyes a bit and his even wider we think…to be determined.
His career best 400IM is 4:14. In prelims he went a 4:30 and put a suit on for finals and went 4:20. We asked him if the suit was really worth 10 seconds. In his 200 back with a career best of 1:56 he went 2:06 prelims and suited 1:59 in finals. Again we asked, was the suit really worth 7 seconds.
Both times he answered probably not, with a rueful smile. So the coaching question is this: how do we get the swimmers to have a “suited” mindset without the suit?
And when we figure that one out we will have a waiting list for our team!