We are competing at the 2016 Olympic Team Trials in Omaha this week. This is the best clinic a coach could attend since in addition to conversations and information sharing among the coaches we are able to watch the fastest swimmers in the US ply their trade.
The following represents some of the highlights according to our point of view; yours of course will be different and feel free to share them as you wish:
Never underestimate the power of “NOW”…if this is your chance then you must go for it. You can never tell what will happen over the next 4 years and how that will affect your career. As Elvis said, “It’s now or never…”
Sometimes it takes a while to get where you want to go. Tom Shields was a high school phenom going into college at CAL. It took him 6 years but he is an Olympian today.
Tempos and stroke counts vary by individual. Your task is to find your sweet spot. The stop watch will help you find both.
Michael Phelps is the only one here who can put his hands in the water in fly without a splash. He does it with a slightly bent arm (almost looks like freestyle) supported by a powerful thrust from his kick moments before his hands enter. He is able to hold his body from shoulder to knee rather flat in the water.
If you want to go farther under water with your dolphin kicks you need to push off deeper…such a simple concept but it takes a while to master it…and be ok with less oxygen.
In long course if you over amp your first lap you will pay dearly for that indulgence. It’s the old “you cannot win a race on the first lap but you can lose it on the first lap.” We have seen it here in 100, 200, 400 races…all strokes…men and women. You must learn how to ride the enthusiasm curve without investing your energy stores. We have seen numerous swimmers who appear to be shot with a tranquillizer dart as close as 10 meters from the wall. Margins for error in this meet are measured in hundredths and tenths of a second.
Elapsed time is not the only measure of progress.
Finally for today, develop your team with a 4 year cycle. Go back and look at your swimmers and determine who can be at this level in 4 years… but refrain from naming them aloud. Tell the team that you are implementing (if this is your first time at it) this program and then highlight some of the markers along the way. This is goal setting over a longer period than many use. When your swimmers know what you as a coach are aiming at it will give them clarity. The ones who want to be all in will make themselves visible. And there is no way for you as a coach to know today who can do the work and be available in 4 years. So open your doors wide and accept as many as are willing to do the work, make the sacrifices and get the big payoff.