Monday, November 30, 2015

Simon, Augusta and You

Last Friday we saw a most remarkable documentary explaining Simon Dominguez’s Ocean marathon swim from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallons (small group of islands nearly 30 miles from the GGB). This swim took place a couple of months ago. Simon was pulled from the water 2+ miles from the destination due to a circling shark fin. The Farallons are a known great white shark breeding and feeding ground. When you swim there you take your chances and keep several sharp lookouts at all times. Simon was in water that was 54 degrees or so for 17+ hours…suit, cap and goggles; no wet suits allowed in order to qualify the swim as “official”.
This documentary will be available for general viewing after it makes the Film Festival circuit. We will let you know when. He and his story are most remarkable.
In the audience of 350 was Augusta. She is a 16 year old sophomore on our club team. She swims the 200 fly as well as many other events. She swims it both short and long course. 200 fly long course is an entirely different event than short course. Each has its challenges and few take the risks and enter those events. Augusta is among those few.
As we were watching the documentary it occurred to us that Simon and Augusta have something in common, besides that they both like swimming a great deal! They are willing to do that which most of their peers would not even consider doing. They have similar mindsets. They find that which makes them feel empowered and then they set out to conquer that event.
What is fascinating from the coaching side is that no swims are guaranteed. Many don’t end quite spectacularly. Simon has completed the English Channel and has swum the length of Lake Tahoe – 22 miles at altitude. But he was denied his most recent quest. It happens. Augusta has had many 200 fly swims; several have been spectacular; others not so much. It happens.
Both of these swimmers have the mindset that allows them to move forward regardless of the outcome. This is a true characteristic of a successful person.
The “You” in the headline above is meant to include every reader regardless of event or occupation. What is your mindset? Are you willing to commit knowing full well the outcome is not assured? Can you roll with success and failure, “treating those two imposters the same?” (Rudyard Kipling)
Look around…Simon and Augusta are among all groups. Find them and hang with them; success is assured at some point in time if you have their mindset.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

To Be Thankful

What are you thankful for?
Who is thankful for you?
Who have you thanked this last week?
If you missed an opportunity to say “thanks” do it now or really soon.
What you need will come to you if you give it away – freely, without expectations of payback.
What great quote will motivate you to do the unthinkable as you strive for greatness?
Will you allow yourself to be grateful and then ask for more?
Coaches are often looked to for motivation. Who motivates the coaches?
Who have you motivated this week?
Have you thanked them?
None of us needs a national day to do the right thing…to be thankful.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Speed Camp

We run North Bay Aquatics Senior program with 4 peaks each season. We would prefer 3 but the calendar dictates a 4th for California May high school championships. We look for super-fast swimming in December, March, May and late July/early August.
We don’t bemoan the schedule; rather we adapt to what is given us. Since we currently don’t have any high school swimmers in contention for the Olympic Team (we do have several who will be at Trials) we can live with the extremely compact long course season. In fact we had our best ever long course season this past summer. We credit it to excellent training in short periods of time plus frequent racing our way into long course racing shape. Our college swimmers will fare better perhaps since they have 3 peaks…provided they train and race after Conference and NCAA’s.
The following are two very recent Speed Camp workouts. We first do a portion of the block as “Training Camp” then move into speed gathering mode which is where we are right now. Enjoy…

Speed camp 11-12-15
4 x 50/.50
Fins on for the following
100 last lap breast
200 4th lap back, last breast
300 4th lap fly, 8th lap back 12th lap breast
400 4th 15 meters UW
1:30 base

8 x 100 1:40 kick rotation (kick 1st lap of 1st 100, 2nd lap of 2nd 100 etc.)

8 x 25/.30 e/b/e/b (ez, buildup, ez, burst)
35 minutes

5 rounds
50 on the: 40... Like your 1st 50 of a 100
50 kick or BP (breaststrokes pull) on the: 50 your last 25 of a 100
Easy 75
60 minutes

Fins - 3 rounds
200 free 3:00...streamlines
100 IM 1:30...streamlines
75 minutes

30 x 50 @1:00
Cone in middle (we have orange traffic cones on pool bottom for visuals)
4 starting end blasters (1st ½ of the lap and last ½ of the 2nd lap)
4 turning end blasters (from the 12.5 yard mark to the 37.5 yard mark)
4 hypoxic ...5/4/3/2
3 starting end blasters (1st ½ of the lap and last ½ of the 2nd lap)
3 turning end blasters (from the 12.5 yard mark to the 37.5 yard mark)
3 hypoxic ...4/3/2
2 starting end blasters
2 turning end blasters
2 hypoxic ...3/2
1 starting end blasters
1 turning end blasters
1 hypoxic ...2
105 minutes

Loosen with 4x25/.30 - 4/3/2/1 x 2 or 3 times
Hypoxic rotation

11-14-15 speed camp
4x50/.50…8x100/1:40 rotate kk board…8x25kk/.30 e,b,e,bur
 5x200k plus ez 100 swim/6…kk= 100 honest 80%, 50 @ 90%, 50 - empty the tank
Ez 10 laps with fins – ½ under each lap, streamlines critical
5x100/2:30 breathing pattern for your stroke; focus on breathing pattern, ez effort level
Ez 10 laps w/ fins – AA (As Above)
4x100/3 #1= 1 lap with breathing pattern, tempo & speed…#2 with laps 1&2 same…#3 w/ 3 laps…#4 w all 4 laps
Ez 10 laps AA
1x100 from the blocks one at a time in the lane – put the breathing pattern, tempo and speed all together
Ez 10 laps AA
8x25/.40 e,b,e,bur
2xTim Hill broken 200’s…
#1 75/.50; 2x 50/.40; 1x25…#2 from a dive 75/.45; 2x 50/.30; 1x25
There is an ez 50 on the minute after each segment of the broken 200
Ez 10 laps AA
8x25/.30 e,b,e,bur
5850 total with 1050 at effort ; effort defined as greater than 80%

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Twin Pillars of Progress

We went racing last weekend and observed all manner of swimming related information. We find the meets most stimulating as they are a reliable reflection of progress being made, new skills being incorporated and attitudes being reaffirmed.
Upon reflection it occurred to us that two main components of progress are consistency and the power of incremental improvement. The consistency issue is pretty obvious and while the usefulness of small increments may not be so easily visible they are none the less just as powerful.
The best part of each of these is the athlete has total control of their effectiveness.
Consistency is a hallmark characteristic of high level performers in any walk of life. Swimmers need to come to training sessions and meets regularly. Training sessions missed and meets not attended can never be recovered. When you make those two parts of your career a priority, your progress is virtually insured.
Small incremental improvement is often unobservable in the traditional sense. It is just as remarkable for its impact is never in doubt so long as you are willing to invest regularly over time…like the wise old adage about saving a fixed percentage of your income – all the time.
Let’s say you wanted to drop 4.5 seconds in a 100 yard event over 3 seasons. It looks like this mathematically: you have about 2.5 years, or 912 days to drop the time; 4.5 divided by 912 = .00493. Basically you need to improve .005th of a second each and every day and the time drop will be yours. Now that you have a specific goal for each day you then decide what .005th of a second you are going to capture and how you will do that. The list for that improvement is endless just as it is for the improvement in any area. Not any one thing will give you that time drop; many areas can and need to be addressed – stroke technique, kicking, strength and flexibility, aerobic and anaerobic capacity, sleep, nutrition, mental attitude – the list is practically endless. As Steve Bultman from Texas A&M says, “If you do the work you will improve, the only question is when.”
Both consistency and incremental improvements are completely in your hands. One of the very best qualities about our sport is that you don’t need someone to throw you the ball to score. Does it help to have a knowledgeable coach, supportive parents and encouraging teammates? You bet it does. But you know what? There are thousands of swimmers with all three of those who have no plan. And what we have to say about that isn’t new, but it is still true: failure to plan is planning to fail.
This is actually on you. So take it to heart and do it. You will stand so tall and so proud!

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Case Study

Every coach in the world has an “Alice” on your team. She came to us in December of 2014 and asked, “How do I get faster?” “What can I do to make a travel meet?” We responded with this, “Make a list of the things you think are your strengths and your weaknesses”. She did…and to no one’s surprise the weaknesses far exceeded the strengths. We responded with, “Alice, you have a lot more going for you than you think you do.” She smiled, not quite believing us. We said, you need to work on the positives and decide which of the negatives you can eliminate or at least move to the “zero” impact area.” She resolved to do that…and her swim as described below is proof of that transformation.

Two days ago, in our workout, Ken asked everyone to kick 5x100 on the 2 minutes. Easy enough to do. The first lap of the first one was fast, the 2nd lap of the second one was fast etc…the 5th one was as fast as you could go…get under a minute, get under  a 1:10, etc. Alice, who can easily kick backstroke very fast stayed with her board because she knew it was a “better” way to prove to herself that she was improving (look for and take the harder way!).

And that is what this game we play is all about…pushing our limits, testing ourselves, being willing to fail, being willing to succeed, and being willing to move forward…

Thank you Alice for sharing!

“I am speed replays in my head as I stand behind the blocks waiting in the cool shade of the EZ-ups for my race. The confidence I’ve built over the last seven months pumps me up for one of my last chances to go to Clovis, the Western Zone Championship. Chlorine vaporizes from the pool mixing with smoke from the snack bar grill. The thoughts of food are, for once, not my main focus. The murmur of the crowd surrounds my bubble of concentration. Nothing can distract me. A zap of excitement zips through me as they call the heat before me. Goosebumps of anticipation cover my skin. I go through my race prep routine: toe touches, arm swings, and shoulder stretches. When the official tweets his whistle I do two quick jumps to get my heart moving, crack my neck and remember, I am speed. The long whistle blows. Goggles and cap are firmly on. I step on to the textured block into the blazing sun light. I get into my dive position, ignoring the tightness of my compression suit.
“Take your mark,” crackles through the speakers. Everything stills. The crowd fades away. My muscles tense as I prepare to spring. The need for speed builds. I am speed.
BURMP! The starter goes off. Muscle memory takes over as I dive in. The water invites me smoothly into its refreshing and energizing waves. Four explosive dolphin kicks propel me as I powerfully break the surface setting my tempo at the right pace. My kick enhances the momentum of my arms. Every sixth stroke I take a breath; a skill with which I struggled. About half way across the pool I take my fourth breath and notice the girl next to me starting to pull ahead. Competitiveness kicks in as the lactic acid starts to build in my muscles; I’m getting tired. No. Don’t think negative. Keep a positive mindset, just like Rebecca, a sports psychiatrist, told me. The burn increases, which drives me to push harder. I’m under the 5 meter flags. Last breath, then catch, pull, kick and punch the wall with a high five to end my race.
I gulp for air. My arms and legs tremble as my heart continues to race. I splash my face to cool it. I finally look up to the scoreboard: 29.59 seconds. I squeeze my eyes shut and look up again at the time. I try to remember the qualification time for Clovis in the 50 meter freestyle.
A spurt of energy pulls me out of the pool to find out if I made it. I shimmy my way through the crowd. I’m still in my bubble of focus. Nothing is stopping me until I find out whether I made the time. I finally reach my coach.
“Don, did I get it?”
He turns around in his chair and sticks out his hand.
“Congratulations, you’re going to Clovis.”
I shake his hand firmly. A million emotions fill me. Joy overtakes as I break into my happy dance. I finally made it. It only took about seven months of dedication, but I got it. I’m not going to be left behind while the rest of the team goes to the travel meet. I’m now truly a part of the senior team – no longer the slowest.
Congratulatory slaps on the back and hugs surround me. I break away to go warm down. The crunchy grass tickles my feet as the murmuring of the crowd returns to my senses. I walk with a skip in my step to the section of the pool where swimmers warm up for their races. A goofy smile spreads across my face. I hop into the chilling pool, embracing the chlorine to which I’ve become immune, and warm down while reminding myself that I am speed. I realize that determination pays off in the end. “