Sunday, March 29, 2009

Which 50 Is IT?

When swimming a 200 free we often ponder the question "Which 50 is the most important one?" When you look at the swims below you can "see" the race unfolding.

These are the top three finishers and their splits from the recently concluded Men's and Women's NCAA Swimming Championships. While each split is significant in that it is part of the swim, which 50 do you think made the difference? Then the next question is "What are you doing in your training program to make that split available to you when it counts the most?

Let us know what you think. We are here to help!

1 Fraser, Shaune FLOR 1:31.70 20
r:+0.75 21.57 45.24 (23.67)
1:08.49 (23.25) 1:31.70 (23.21)
2 Walters, Dave TEX 1:32.59 17
r:+0.75 21.66 45.39 (23.73)
1:09.46 (24.07) 1:32.59 (23.13)
3 Berens, Ricky TEX 1:32.74 16
r:+0.77 21.70 45.55 (23.85)
1:09.45 (23.90) 1:32.74 (23.29)

1 Vollmer, Dana CAL 1:42.01M"A" 20
r:+0.78 24.38 50.52 (26.14)
1:16.47 (25.95) 1:42.01 (25.54)
2 Scroggy, Morgan UGA 1:42.90 "A" 17
r:+0.74 24.54 50.93 (26.39)
1:16.89 (25.96) 1:42.90 (26.01)
3 Schmitt, Allison UGA 1:43.09 "A" 16
r:+0.73 24.50 50.47 (25.97)
1:16.84 (26.37) 1:43.09 (26.25)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Preparation – A Key to Success

That preparation is vital to ongoing and ultimate success is not a revelation to any of you. At swimcoachdirect we are always looking for new ways to communicate lifelong maxims. We have been rereading “How Life Imitates Chess” by World Champion Garry Kasparov.

On page 70 he writes Preparation Pays Off in Many Ways:

“We can’t all have the single-minded dedication of an Alekhine. Few lives and few endeavors permit such devotion. But in truth it’s not the amount of time that really counts – it’s the quality of your study and how you use your time. Becoming a 24/7 fanatic who counts every minute and second isn’t going to make you a success. The keys to great preparation are self-awareness and consistency. Steady effort pays off, even if not always in an immediate, tangible way.”

He continues, “We cannot doubt the brainpower of Thomas Edison, but his true genius lay in his capacity for endless experimentation. In creating the electric light bulb, he tested thousands of substances to find a filament that wouldn’t burn out…”Opportunity,” Edison said, “is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” This was an echo of another great thinker and worker, Thomas Jefferson, who wrote, “I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

So, as we go about our week, let’s all pledge to find an appreciation for the preparation we already know we need to move forward toward our goals. We are going to wear our overalls to the pool this week. Join us and tell us how it goes for you!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Who Needs a Stop Watch?

Swimmers and coaches alike often place a lot of value on the time swum as reflected on the stop watch, pace clock or scoreboard. We learn the value of time in swimming at an early age. First you get your "B" time, then your "A" time, then your...the list goes on until some are getting their "Olympic Trials" time. It's all about the time...or is it?

Even if you are fortunate enough to set a World Record, at some point in time, probably sooner than later, someone will break it. So what the swimmer is left with is a recollection of their swim, or career and whether or not they can reflect positively on that recollection.

We have found recently that our swimmers do a better job of reaching their potential at any given moment in time by working on doing their best and swimming their race the way they know they can; the way they have trained to do. If they will focus on this, rather than getting a time, then more often than not they will swim a fast time.

Few other than Phelps himself and his coach will ever remember his times from Beijing but he will always remember how well he swam, how he constructed those races and used his training for success. Jason Lezak will remember his split on the 400 Free Relay but most will never forget the exciting finish and first place touch.

So keep using the stopwatch and pace clock as training aids. At the same time use your inner sense of how well you are doing based upon the effort you are giving. Let others do the timing; you do the swimming.

One way to start this process is to do an entire workout without a clock, measuring your rate of success based upon how well you are swimming and how fatigued you are at the end (or how fast you feel if you are in that stage of your training). You will discover a few new things about yourself in the process. These discoveries will go a long way toward your eventual success. Let us know how it goes!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Choosing the Correct Word

As coaches we often see our primary role as teachers. As such, we strive to use precise words when describing what we want our swimmers to do. The clearer the picture we create with our words the better chance we have of getting the desired result.

With this in mind consider the two words "bold" and "reckless" as they appply to competing. When we consult our trusty dictionary the word "bold" is defined as, "not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring: a bold hero; necessitating courage and daring; challenging: a bold adventure; beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action; imaginative: Einstein was a bold mathematician. a difficult problem needing a bold answer."

"Reckless" on the other hand is defined as, "utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution; careless."

When we have a big meet approaching we ask our swimmers to consider the difference between being bold and being reckless as it pertains to their upcoming race. We all have seen swimmers who want something to badly that they will do almost anything to achieve it. They go out so fast, swimming furiously in hopes that they will swim the time they are after. Or if racing a certain individual they throw all caution to the wind and swim like a "madman (woman)" in a desperate attempt to finish in front of their competition.

At some point all of us need to consider being bold, whether a coach or a swimmer. This is much different than being reckless. Reckless is "without caution; careless". Careless swimming doesn't get what you want. Bold swimming will often push you into a new arena opening up opportunities which you may have only dreamed were possible.

The same goes for training. Train boldly and you will reap magnificent rewards. Train recklessly and you will get injured. So, give this a go and let us know how it works for you!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Psyche Sheets

The publishing of a meet psyche sheet is a time honored tradition in swimming circles. As we prepare our team for the winter shave and taper meet all swimmers eagerly await the dissemination of this information. It gives them a chance to see how they compare to other swimmers who enter the meet.

And yet, the psyche sheets themselves are often as accurate as the winter weather forecast! We don’t know about your town, but here it seems as if the weather people could stand a closer look out their windows before hitting the airwaves.

The number one seed in an event is no different than the number 50 seed going into an event. Those are their seeded times; that’s it. In most cases no one swims their seeded times; they swim faster or slower. Indeed it is a rare event where the final results look similar to the psyche sheet. Unless you have one swimmer who is so dominant most often all spots are up for grabs.

As coaches, one of our most prominent missions in sport is to get the athlete to ignore past performance. The goal of pre-meet strategy is to get each swimmer to realize the upcoming race is an opportunity to do something they have trained for but not yet accomplished. The swim is in them and our job and their task is to let it come out.

So, the next time one of your swimmers grabs the program saying, “I want to see where I am seeded” you might encourage them to focus on what the result sheet will look like, reminding them that the psyche sheet is actually ancient history…and they are here today to write their own chapter!

See how that works for them and you and let us know. Have a great meet!