Sunday, January 15, 2017

One Team Two Coaches Two Workouts

On our North Bay Aquatics Senior training group we have the luxury of 2 coaches – Ken and Don. Below are 2 workouts, first from Ken and then from Don, that we did this week. We are training very well and doing a lot of meaningful, purpose driven swimming. Our team is responding well especially considering this is the 3rd week of intense work (the 1st two weeks we did doubles – triples if you count the weight room). Now school is back in session so our total volume is down but the effort and intensity remain very high. This will be a breakthrough block for many of our swimmers.

1-10-17 January 10 - Continuation of Training Camp flow

Warm up 4 x 50/.45 then the set below
400 5:20
4 x 50 kick :55
300 4:00
4 x 50 kick :50
200 2:40
4 x 50 kick :45

Pull 500 with paddle as much HBP (3 breaths per lap) as possible ...distance per stroke

Drag suits
Kick 8 x 200
3:00/3:15/3:30/3:45/4:00 - you choose the interval
Every other one get after it

Pull 500 with paddle as much HBP as possible ...distance per stroke

Main swim set
Base of
1:10/1:15/1:20 – you choose the interval

400 NS (negative split)
3 x 100 as fast as you dare
300 NS
3 x 100 as fast as you dare
200 NS
3 x 100 as fast as you dare
100 NS
3 x 100 as fast as you dare

Once done one more 500 +/- pull HBP and out

Water bottle + Grit = Podium  Joe Angry Tuna
Success isn’t owned. It’s leased and rent is due everyday – J.J. Watt
1-12-17 goals: 1 – use skills from last night while under stress      2 – get heart rate up high and keep it up there repetitively for 2+ min
Wmp 4x50 then 6x100p/1:25 then 6x100k/1:45 then 6x100s/1:15
600 swim ez,build,ez,burst by 25’s/9
Get green strap and pull buoys on – pads and snorks optional
8x200/3 pulling
Odd ones broken .5@25 foot touch fast as you can go – get your HR way up
Even ones straight through with even laps, 4, 3, 2, 1 breath per lap
400 swim e,b,e,bur by 50’s/6
8x200/3 swim As Above – flyers, breasters laps 1,4,5,8 stroke – back same or whole 200 if you can – IM’ers lap 1 fly, lap 4 back, 5 breast 8 free
On the odd ones broken .5@25 foot touch fast as you can HR way up
On the even ones all free with breath control as above
200 swim e,b,e,bur by 25’s
1x200/4 all stroke as above
1x200 free fast as you dare holding your breath on even laps
The secret to success is to do the common things uncommonly well.
J.D. Rockefeller

Sunday, January 8, 2017


Zen is a branch of Buddhism that came about in China during the 6th century. So it has been around for a little while. Many of the teachings and quotes find their way into things, but they sometimes come across as nonsensical phrases meant to sound obscure. There is meaning behind the quotes, however, and many of the lessons are still useful today.
"Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water."
Many of us get caught up in the end results of what we're working toward or the way things will be when we finally achieve something. But the truth is that getting to where you want to go or being successful doesn't mean that the work that leads you there goes away. Achieving your version of "enlightenment" is not an endpoint in and of itself. You'll need to do the same things after in order to keep moving forward. There's a Zen philosophy that says the way a person does one thing is the way they do everything, and whether you agree with it or not, the message is clear. If you can't take on the simple tasks as best as you can, how could you conquer the big things? As Tom Barrett explains on his blog Interlude Retreat, it's all about being in the moment:
When we are able to be in the moment, we no longer feel compelled to watch the clock. Whatever your work might be, bring all of yourself to it. When you are fully present, you may find that your labor is no longer a burden. Wood is chopped. Water is carried. Life happens.
No matter how menial the task may seem, practicing mindfulness and focusing on the present work at hand will help you develop a habit of always doing your best. And once you finally achieve "enlightenment" you still must chop wood and carry water. Do your work, do it well, and when you find success, do it again.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Rock ‘n’ Roll Survival Kit

“DNA, natural ability, study of craft, development of and devotion to an aesthetic philosophy, naked desire for…fame? oh, yeah…a buck. Then…if you want to take it all the way out to the end of the night, a furious fire in the hole that just…don’t…quit…burning.
These are some of the elements that will come in handy should you come face-to-face with eighty thousand (or eighty) screaming rock ‘n’ roll fans who are waiting for you to do your magic trick. Waiting for you to pull something out of your hat, out of thin air, out of this world, something that before the faithful were gathered here today was just a song-fueled rumor.
I am here to provide proof of life to that ever elusive, never completely believable “us”. That is my magic trick.”
From Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen
It occurs to us that we have seen a swimmer of this magnitude, who reportedly is done standing on the blocks in front of thousands doing his magic trick. Hopefully he will find another equally significant way to make our sport other-worldly. He certainly has that capacity. It would be a shame to lose him to the real world…speaking selfishly here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

To Taper or Not

This is THE question. Every swimmer wants to taper but resting takes a lot more courage than training. Training is, relatively speaking, easy .Resting changes everything. It leaves you often feeling unsettled, nervous and often messes up your sleep patterns. Plus you have all this extra time and energy.
Our senior club trains 15 hours a week. Not a lot compared to some others, especially back in the day. Yet if you trim that by 1/3 to 10 hours, what do you do with those extra 5 hours? Maybe go a little bit crazy?
Here is the truth. To get faster you need to do 2 things: 1- work hard and 2 – rest. That’s it. But most athletes don’t work as hard as they think they do and few if any rest enough to make a real difference.
How can a person tell what advice to follow? That’s simple as well. In our sport of swimming look to the most accomplished coaches and see what they have to say on this, or frankly, any subject close to the sport. Accomplished coaches are those who have a long track record of success with a variety of swimmer types.
When it comes to taper we believe (based upon the above criteria) that you either need to rest 3 days or 3 weeks. Nothing in between has long term time measured validity. Some may even need more than 3 weeks. 1 week or 2 weeks or 10 days just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
Something else to consider…there are 3 items to consider around taper time…the tech suit, the shave, the rest. In our opinion, rest is the most important. It takes enormous amounts of courage to rest. First and foremost, train as hard as you can, then train some more. Then take 3 days or 3 weeks rest and watch how fast you swim.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Robin Sharma

We discovered Robin Sharma from a fellow coach. We bought his book, “What To Do When It’s Your Turn”. We then got on his email list and occasionally get some gems. All that follows are from his recent email. We found the thoughts simple but masterful and very relative to what we as coaches are striving to accomplish with our team.

If you're the smartest person you know, it's time to know some new people.

If you're the most successful person on your street Don, today I encourage you to find a new street. [I'm only partly joking on his one].

If you're the most productive person in your community, it's definitely time to find a new community.

The principle I'm hinting at with my usual love and respect for you? We become our conversations. And our associations sculpt our destinies. 

5 leadership lessons my mentors have taught me:

Think like a pro
Lead like a warrior
Produce like a Picasso
And love like a saint
Be great

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Value of a Straight Line

Two weekends ago we raced at a local senior meet. Of the many observations we noted that some of our swimmers swim in “circles”. Some of these circles are more pronounced than others. We asked Audrey, since she has some brain power! – to figure out how much extra yardage is navigated when something other than a straight line is swum. Some of your swimmers might be interested in the chart below. 

One other thing, we looked everywhere and couldn’t find any “cuts” for a 510.864 swim. 

Extra Distance from Circle Swimming*
50 yards
100 yards
200 yards
500 yards
1000 yards
1650 yards
3” from line
6” from line
1’ from line
1.5’ from line
2’ from line

* Distances are in yards

Monday, October 17, 2016

Santa Clara XLIV International June 2011

Overheard on the deck while at this meet…
Coach, I want to make Olympic Trials
Move it from your head to your heart
And this one…
Boomers vs Millennials
Get on their page (this is the toughest lift)

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Set Sampler

We had a good workout on Sunday and thought we’d share the ideas with you. Our intention is to craft training sessions so that everyone has an opportunity to “latch onto” some work of value. We look at our club team of teenagers as being all sprinters while dividing them into long, mid and short sprinter sub groups.
The sets below came after about 50 minutes of warm-up and technique work. We measure the benefit in the moment by how much talking goes on while they are on the wall…less chatter, more grit being developed…at least that’s our bias. We’ll know down the road in a couple of months if we are correct.

Long sprinters 500/7 then 3x100/1:40 fast] 12 x 5 rds = 60 min
Long sprinters 500/6 then 3x100/1:40 fast] 11 x 6 rds = 66min
Long sprinters 500/5 then 3x100/1:40 fast] 10 x 6 rds = 60 min
Long sprinters 400IM/6 then 3x100IM/1.40 fast] 11 x 6 rds = 66 min
The 500’s are NS (negative split) by time and the IM’s NS by effort

Mid sprinters     
200fr/2:30 then 4x50/1 stroke fast then 200 stroke/3 then 4x50fr/1 fast] 13.5 x 4 rds =52
Flyers did laps 1,4,8 fly on the stroke 200; Breasters did 1st and 4th 50 breast

Short sprinters
3x100/1:30 NS w dolph kks off each wall
Then all fast: 2x25/.30 then 2x50/1 then 1x75/1:30] 9 x 6 rd=54
This group went any stroke they wanted on the 25’s, 50’s and 75
We needed to keep encouraging them to go fast on the fast stuff since the natural tendency was to use the longer rests to go easier. Once they bought in, the lane chatter went away…no rest between rounds.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Never Ending Quest

As coaches we are forever striving to hit the correct phrase to flip the proverbial switch with our swimmers…the switch that leads them to the promised land of success and fulfillment…sounds a little like snake oil but what the heck…
This week we came up with the following…
There are really only 3 types of swimmers
1 – The swimmer who works diligently and is in darn good shape
2 – The swimmer who refines her skill set and has fabulous technique
3 – The swimmer who has both skills and conditioning
Those who fall into group 3 are far more often than not the ones swimming up front. No single athlete is in the third group all the time. Life gets in the way and they move around and yet we have on our team – and so do you! – those who consistently live in group 3. By far the largest group is probably group 1. We have very few in group 2…that one requires a fair amount of brain power and connectedness.
As club coaches we never give up striving for large percentages in group 3. We have found that once a swimmer experiences group 3 they won’t want to leave…and that is the Promised Land.
Footnote: there is a group 4…those who have neither but our experience is that by 13 or 14 they self-select out of our sport because it takes too much work and so group 4 usually only exists in 12 and unders

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Rust Never Sleeps

Rust Never Sleeps is an album by Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young and American band Crazy Horse. It was released on July 2, 1979, by Reprise Records.[3] Most of the album was recorded live, and then overdubbed in the studio. Young used the phrase "rust never sleeps" as a concept for his tour with Crazy Horse to avoid artistic complacency and try more progressive, theatrical approaches to performing live.
We took our team to a ½ day conference meet with 3 other teams today. We haven’t been on the blocks since early August. We have some rust and it showed today. However, we need not fret since we are, like Young, avoiding complacency by being more progressive in our approaches to racing.
All of our racing is formed by our training. We have been working on instilling new techniques taught to us by Bob Gillett for the effective use of underwater dolphin kicking. We are far from proficient yet many of our swimmers are discovering the wisdom and value of “getting it right.”
And yes, like Young, we have a few theatrical approaches by our swimmers…life is never dull around kids!
Back to the rehearsal studio – oops, we mean pool – tomorrow.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Goals – Something Old, Something New

Nothing really new here on this topic. It is that time of the year again when we think individually and collectively about what our goals are. Goals, of course, are the map to the destination. No map, you just end up driving around. We saw a card once that said “to be sure of hitting your goals, shoot first and whatever you hit, call it your goal.”
And this isn’t really news to any of you either. When you hear something you have a small amount of retention. When you read the same thing, your retention goes up somewhat. When you write your goal your success rate goes up quite a bit. When you see your goal daily, or even more, your success rate improves dramatically.
Why? Because we humans move toward and become like that which we see, hear, feel and envision being true about us. If you examine your spot in life right this moment you will see that this is indeed true. You get, most of the time, that which you actively seek.
We had a chat with a friend today who asked, “So what’s your team look like for the coming season?” We said, “It sure looks different than it did last year and we lost some firepower due to graduation. However, we have willing and able athletes and we know how to coach so we will be fine.” That is a goal statement.
But this is perhaps newsworthy. What do most young people (at least teenagers and up) look at 30-150 times a day? Yup, their phone. What if they put their goals on the screen saver? Potentially a game changer…

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fort Lauderdale & Rio

We spent the week in Fort Lauderdale at the annual ASCA Coaches Clinic. If you are a coach and not yet a member we urge you to become one…invest in your profession, education and get inspired all for way less than a cup of coffee a day. The clinic was of course anchored by the accomplishments of Team USA at the Rio Olympics.
A few impressions from that theme are as follows:
Look at the swimming IQ of your team – watch, react and appreciate all the swimmers work and their workout swims…Team USA built on those swims in training camp
Learn to touch the wall ahead of the others…this was a key mantra if you will…USA garnered something like 12 of its total 33 medals by a combined 2.7 seconds…they were extremely focused on touching the wall ahead of as many as possible
Ask the question of your team “When did the switch go on for you?”…every swimmer at the top has an identifiable moment in their career when that has happened…know when that was for you
Don’t assume anything – cover all the bases
As a coach you must fight for excellence for your swimmers. It isn’t cheap. You must commit to it and as a club coach you may not get the credit or the limelight.
In its ad on this month’s back inside cover of Swimming World, Arena has a quote from Mahatma Gandhi that pretty much summarizes the difference between podium swims and the 5 other swimmers…a harsh assessment but more often than not true…
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”