Sunday, June 27, 2010

When Size Really Does Matter

We often get asked the question about body types and swimming. This particularly comes up when parents of a younger swimmer are concerned that their child may not "have what it takes" to be a great athlete.

Our first - and always unspoken - reaction is, Whoa! Do we as parents really want to be looking at our kids that way? And then we have our first overt reaction...We cannot at any time early in a person's development know what their final position in life will be. We are not able to tell about swimming or school or eventual vocation etc.

What we do know from our experience is that it is foolish to try to predict based upon any early success or for that matter any early lack of success. We also know that the world is full of folks with huge amounts of obvious potential who do very little with it. Conversely the world is populated with many people who have what appear to be ordinary skills who achieve extraordinary results. Sports is an obvious field where these two discrepancies standout. Having said that, if we were academicians we would no doubt have similar observations. From our own personal standpoint we know this to be true in the field of medicine. We have known doctors who obviously have passed all the tests but we wouldn't want to spend too much time in their care.

So what does matter?

The size of a person's desire matters. Give us a swimmer who is excited about the opportunity that swimming affords and we want her on our team. We love swimmers who have passion for the sport.

The size of their ambition matters. Does he want to get faster? If so, we want him on our team.

What about the respect factor? Does she understand the relationship between respect for self and team and how those two go hand in hand for her development? If yes, then we want her.

How big is their brain? We use this not in the anatomical sense but rather the sense of how well does he connect the dots? Does this swimmer have the ability to figure things out? If he can do this, or exhibits the willingness to learn how to do this, then we want him on our team.

None of these attributes is determined by physical size. They are rather determined by a person's character. Give us a person of any physical stature who is a giant in the character department and we will be at the pool ready to coach that swimmer on a moment's notice.

Perhaps it is time to take inventory of your team or yourself. Champions come in all shapes and sizes. Look at any Olympic Team if you are not certain about this!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What We Learned This Week

In no particular order we amassed a significant amount of new knowledge while simultaneously reconnecting with bits and pieces we already knew but had lost contact with from the past. And isn't that just like most darned near every week? That's what gets us excited each and every day. What follows is a sampler of our last 7 days.

Monday we had Day One at the Dominican University Summer Swim Camp. Since this was the first week the University had ever had a Swim Camp none of us knew exactly what to expect. We had several kids who are competitive swimmers and about twice that number who could barely side breathe. What we learned: Have plenty of staff, be patient, teach only the basics and most of all make it fun. They will tell others and all kids and parents with kids talk to each other. By Friday everyone was swimming better.

Tuesday was our first conversion day at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, CA. They built a new 40 meter by 25 yard pool (the district didn't want any summer long course competitions held) and we have morning access. This is our long course water for the summer. It works great for our team. It is a trick to turn 16 lanes short course into 8 long course. What we learned: Give everyone assignments, help them realize the value of "teamwork", time them (they are competitive swimmers after all - Tuesday = 15:48, by Saturday we got down to 10:12) and make certain all the various workout groups finish together so everyone is still in the pool and willing to turn the pool back to short course.

Wednesdays we take the afternoons off for recovery purposes. It was a good thing because even after two mornings of long course the kids were showing the signs of long course training fatigue. What we learned: long course fit plus short course speed makes a very dangerous long course (we suppose even open water as well) swimmer.

Thursday was our third consecutive long course morning workout. The team is getting used to more open water. We took our foot off the gas a little and got more out of them. Then in the short course afternoon workout we went more for power than speed using parachutes. What we learned: Give swimmers (any athlete) a judicious mix of work and rest and they respond very well indeed.

Friday we have no morning water due to pool cleaning. It was Day Five at Dominican Swim Camp. We weren't as prepared as we wanted to be. The next four weeks will be easier having gone through a week. What we learned: We will spend time refreshing our skills and then testing them. They can see and feel their progress. Making certain kids feel successful is the singular most important ingredient in their continued participation in any activity...swimming is no different in that regard. We also had great results from giving them a simple Certificate of Completion plus a ribbon. This isn't a fancy swim camp like those run at bigger institutions. This is a fun and learning experience. We all - staff and campers alike - did both this week.

Saturday we had our final workout of the week. We went long course. We had some swimmers at meets and some doing things for Father's Day so attendance was lighter than usual. We had some individual sets that addressed specific needs. It was a great week and we set ourselves up for next week's aspirations. What we learned: Have a good mix of long course swims building up momentum one lap at a time with faster short course swims blending speed and power; always do kicking sets since legs make the whole stroke go and the swimmer's ability to finish races...this all builds the most important muscle in the body - confidence.

Sunday was the final day of the 43rd Annual Santa Clara International Swim Meet. Four years ago we had one swimmer at this meet. This year we had 11 entered individually plus 2 others as relay swimmers. We had a swimmer who qualified for finals and four free relays, one of which finished fourth and one ninth. What we learned: Starts are critical even in long course as a poor start puts you behind the proverbial 8 ball with the first wall half a football field away. Keep at your craft pursuing excellence whenever possible. That one swimmer four years ago made finals this year. Our team is growing up and able to compete at this level. We have college swimmers coming back to us this summer for the 2nd year. It makes a difference. It is important to build loyalty to our program since those college swimmers help define the path and light that path for the high schoolers behind them. Finally, some swimmers need to stay with their college program in the summers for a variety of reasons. We know that we are in the development game, always working in the best interests of our young people, giving them the skills they need to succeed in the pool and life.

It was a fine week, not perfect by any means but rather one to be proud of and to build from beginning tomorrow morning. Hope yours was also and goes well too. Let us know how we can help!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Set Ideas...Graduation...Louise L. Hay

Here is a set we did that seemed to engage everyone. It covers both the aerobic component as well as the anaerobic side of the equation. This is what our senior trainers did. You can modify the totals and the intervals to suit your own needs. The idea to grasp is the attack of the system from both the oxygen and lactate side of the equation.

Warm up was about 20 minutes of swimming and drills.
Set 1 - 5x300/ 3:30 negative split...we also had a group going on 4 minutes

Set 2 - 10x200/2:20 - 1-5 negative split; 6-10 progressive (descending)...also had a 2:40 group

Set 3 - 15x100/2 - 1-5 negative split; 6-10 progressive; 11-15 neg split & progressive...this set had a lot of the various strokes and IM's involved.

Loosen 500-800

Sets 1&2 worked the aerobic side while Set 3 was more challenging form the anaerobic side since the rest to work ratio was closer to 1:1. We ended up with some really fast swimming on #'s 13, 14, 15 as well as #10.

Graduation has been on many of our swimmers' minds this week and last. We hope most, if indeed not all have gotten the message that they make their choices about how life unfolds for them. We recently found a set of "Wisdom Cards" from Louise L. Hay. These wonderful and inspiring cards have eye catching graphics and thought provoking observations about the human condition. One in particular caught our eye and seemed particularly relevant given the graduation theme at this time of year. You can find her on the web.

It is written as follows:

On the front side...I have the power to make changes...

On the reverse side...It is so comfortable to play victim, because it is always someone else's fault. I have to stand on my own two feet and take some responsibility.

Here's to fast swimming and standing on our own two feet!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Time to Shake Up Your Paradigms

It is hard to believe it is June 2010...what happened to the beginning of this year. It seems like just yesterday we were discussing whether to call this year two thousand and ten or twenty ten. Oh well, we here at swimcoachdirect hope you are having as much fun as we are because time surely is flying!

The question for today is this: Are you still operating under the same assumptions as you were 5 months ago? Are the things that were true for you January 1 still working for you June 6th?

If you want to get fit what have you done to change your approach to fitness?

If you want to get faster what have you done to change your way of gathering speed?

If you want to be able to handle the swim leg of your Tri how are you approaching that one? Is it the same as last summer?

Our challenge to you this week is a simple one...with potentially profound results. If you are doing the same things you did a year ago at this time you can expect pretty much the same results. And if you improved a lot last year, congrats to you! Now, what are you going to do to keep progressing from here?

There have been huge strides made by performance specialists in all fields of physical performance. These gains come from some of the traditional disciplines such as weight training and cardio vascular fitness regimens. However, in your quest for improvement it may be time to look at cyclical training, nutrition, flexibility training and mind/body dynamics.

We all get comfortable in our routines. The point today is that even if you workout for your personal satisfaction and have no interest in competition it is still in your best interests to change up your approach. Doing so changes the way your brain operates and this is a fabulous benefit to life long total body health.

The simple addition of 10 push ups and 20 sit ups before bed each night is a start!

Have fun with this and let us know how it goes for you!