Sunday, December 25, 2011

Musings on December 25, 2011

We begin “training camp mode” tomorrow. Lots of swimming after a few days of vacation if not physically and least mentally. Of course, we have had a few, well many! Who took our offer of a short break to the extreme...but that is a story for another day.

What has been running through our minds is how to forge a better more productive training block for the next 10 weeks or so such that our big meet in mid-March will be even more rewarding than our December racing.

We have been reading and thinking. We read to get new ideas. We think to see how we might apply those ideas to our situation. We continue to aspire to original thoughts but alas...

One of the things that have been a constant theme in our readings and therefore our thinking is the theme of “do more with less”.

It seems that as coaches we often lean toward more sophistication in our understanding of what works in our sport. Yet the things that work for improvement aren’t necessarily sophisticated. So while we take a certain measure of personal pride and professional satisfaction about our “advanced coaching”, when all is said and done the results come from rather basic ingredients.

Some if this comes from our recent reading; some comes from our observations (coaches are always observing at the pool); some comes from watching our returning swimmers who have been away at various college programs; some comes from, well we aren’t exactly sure but it does indeed come from somewhere...

  • Kicking: more than less is indeed good for speed
  • Underwaters: off the wall this is critical
  • Work works
  • Fun is A if not THE key ingredient
  • Make things -- sets, instruction, strategy, tactics – simpler, not more complex
  • Technique -- critical
  • Instruction of technique -- keep it simple, make sure you use visual, tactile and verbal cues since not everyone learns the same way
  • Mentor -- everyone needs one; find one and get on board
  • The Top -- not everyone at the top actually knows what they are doing...

Almost time for New Year resolutions... something on this list might be a good starting point... we would love to hear from you. We trust that all is well in your corner of the world, and if for some reason it isn’t, that you will work to make a change... one thing we are certain of,

is that work does indeed work.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Shopping

We realize that not everyone celebrates Christmas and therefore is not wound up in the whole shopping thing. But if you are or would simply like to indulge yourself here are two quick ideas.

Idea #1 – Get yourself the smart phone app called liveresults. On Android phones liveresults and on Apple iPhone or iPad search for liveresults and you can download and pay a very small amount and then load the app. You can get an amazing number of real time results from swim and track meets all around the world. The menu is particularly good for US meets. You can see splits of swims as well as relays plus if the blocks are wired for it you can see reaction times including relay takeoffs…very cool.

Idea #2 – Do this kick set to build your legs even stronger. It comes originally from Chris Davis via the “Workout Wednesday” menu at the American Swimming Coaches Association web site. It can be modified endlessly. We did it Friday and it was awesome…excellent team energy and great leg power development…nice!

1x5 minute wall kick: 30 seconds moderate 30 seconds fast right into

6x50/1:10 fast kicking right into

1x5 minute wall kick: 20 seconds moderate 40 seconds fast right into

6x50/1:10 fast kicking right into

1x5 minute wall kick: 10 seconds moderate 50 seconds fast right into

6x50/1:10 fast kicking

Rest 1 minute

6x100/2 kick fast time average

It is 50 minutes of leg burning fun…a perfect holiday gift for every swimmer on your list!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


One of our Masters swimmers is a former fighter pilot. AB (as he is known to his friends) gave a valuable presentation to our Senior 1 training group months ago. He shared with us the pre and post flight briefings that were part of his profession. As obvious as the pre-flight sessions were to our group it was the post-flight ones that got our attention most. In these debriefing sessions a couple of things were prominent.

All ranks were disregarded, meaning the senior most pilot’s comments were no more valuable to the group discussion than the least ranked pilot’s. Additionally, nothing was presented personally so no comments were taken personally. If you made a mistake simply admit. If you saw a mistake simply state it; end of discussion.

He told us that the success of the next mission was mostly determined by the debriefing; it was the only real lasting way for members of the team to improve.

Keep in mind that failure in their profession often meant loss of life. It made everyone willing to fully engage in the process of getting better. Debriefings were extremely important.

With our swim team we do the same thing at the end of a training cycle. We have just concluded our fall training block with all swimmers having raced at an important meet in the last two weekends.

At our most recent team meeting we handed out the following questions asking everyone to be brutally honest with themselves. They answered each of the questions in writing and then kept the answers. We asked them to take the sheet home and put it somewhere so that it would be visible to them daily. Its purpose was to remind them of the things they did correctly and those that needed attention going forward.

When we meet with them about winter 2012 goals we will ask them about their own view of their fall season and see how our feedback might add to their awareness.

Below is our list of questions. Thanks again to AB for sharing so freely of his wisdom and experience!









Sunday, December 4, 2011

Train the Way You Race
Race the Way You Train

We are with our team – North Bay Aquatics – at the Husky Invitational in Federal Way, Washington. What a fabulous facility and a great place to go racing!

This is our “shave and taper” meet for the fall training block. Our eggs are in this basket. It is most instructional as coaches and swimmers alike to watch the swims unfold, witnessing – yet again – the basic concept that most of the time swimmers race the way they train. If you have put the time and effort in you can expect the results to reflect this.

The thing that confounds us is when a swimmer indeed doesn’t race the way they have trained. A small disclaimer here; when swimmers are younger, growing every month they often improve their times simply having time elapse. Today we are talking about the older more experienced swimmers whose gains are incrementally smaller.

We have a couple of swimmers (all coaches do!) who are working on bringing their training level to the racing pool such that the race will more accurately reflect their level of prowess.

We find that if this type of swimmer will focus on the task rather than the result we often get the breakthrough we have seen daily/weekly in training sessions. And this is the biggest recommendation we have for those in this situation. Pick the one thing that will make a difference in the outcome and make that the goal of the swim; not the time swum.

Examples might include: integrating your kick into your stroke on the last half of a 200; staying low and tight on your fly or breast turns; pushing off into deeper water on fly, back or breast to get into calmer water; holding your breath on the breakout strokes on 50, 100 and 200 free and fly; the list is endless.

And at some point, the coach needs to challenge the swimmer to “get over herself” and do the swim the way they have practiced it. She must accept the fact that the outcome is in her hands and to “do it”…the “it” being the task.

So, while it is certainly important to train the way you want to race, once you have done that you need to then actually race the way you have trained. As a coach once you have mastered teaching this skill you will have a waiting list to get on your team!

Be well this week and have some fun at the pool!