Sunday, October 27, 2013

More Wisdom from Ken

Another great message from Ken to one of our swimmers (actual name is not Robert) about figuring things out. Perhaps our greatest value to our young swimmers is teaching them about how life from here on out “works”. Hope this is helpful to each of you!

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the thoughts....we do appreciate all things you say and they are all valid. In every case school should be more important and the fact that you need to put that first is spot on. One of the tricks to being able to swim in college is being able to manage yourself in a way that allows you to thrive in both areas. This is something you will want to work on if indeed you want to move onto the next level of this sport.

When I have talked to you this Fall I talk to you as a senior that is at the precipice of a new phase in your life. If I feel you are not ready for that step I do you a huge disservice in not mentioning it. Nothing personal as you should know by now, but if there are red flags you ought to know about them. There are things that you need to do in order to actually be able to swim in college...In no particular order:

1. Stay healthy so you can participate
2. Stay injury free so you can participate
3. Stay up on studies so you can participate

Without these things, College coaches tend to not allow you to be on the closed.

In general the studies you find in College are more challenging than in High School. The training can be in many cases tougher and there is generally much less wiggle room as to missing what they want you to do. Sometime in the next bit of time you will need to set yourself up to have this all in order so you have the best chance not only to survive the rigors of College swimming , but to thrive and really enjoy it ( and it should be a really great experience for anyone who does it).

As I have mentioned you have had a difficult time staying healthy, staying injury free and now there are study issues to contend with as well. A large challenging mountain to face, but quite doable when you make the decision to tackle it....notice I say when.

There is no doubt you can tackle these issues. You are fully capable if you are willing. Actions will decide your fate and not just talking about it and that is where I see you right now. Don and I are here for you if and when you really want to do this, but you will provide the motivation, not us. 

As far as missing practice, I am fine with it as long as you are adding to the mix. We have a standard for all that we allow on the senior team, and that is we know what they will be getting, but what are they adding to the team? If it is all to a swimmer’s benefit and they give nothing back, then the group is not for them. When you are in for short durations of time....miss the more challenging practices...come for the "fun" stuff and miss the scut work, it does speak volumes to the coaches and to your teammates. It will be important for you moving forward not to pick and choose what you will and will not do. You won’t in the future so why should you now?

My suggestion is to get healthy in all aspects then come down and take the lumps that will be associated with being a bit out of shape. Show me, show Don, show your teammates, but more importantly show yourself that you have grit and will fight through difficult and challenging sets, swims, etc. By doing so you create a new habit...a new Robert that will help you gain confidence that you can do anything that is placed before you....a wonderful thing to help you as you venture on in life.

See you when you can fully embrace the training. You are still in the senior group, but as with everyone else, it is up to you to do things that keep you there...always. You can do this and I hope you will!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Louis, Jonas, Isaac, Albert, Thomas, Benjamin, Kenneth

Louis Pasteur (December 27, 1822 – September 28, 1895) was a French chemist and microbiologist who is well known for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation and pasteurization. He is remembered for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and preventions of diseases, and his discoveries have saved countless lives ever since.

Jonas Edward Salk (October 28, 1914 – June 23, 1995) was an American medical researcher and virologist, best known for his discovery and development of the first successful polio vaccine. Until 1955, when the Salk vaccine was introduced, polio was considered the most frightening public health problem of the post-war United States.

Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727) was an English physicist and mathematician who is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book PhilosophiƦ Naturalis Principia Mathematica ("Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"), first published in 1687, laid the foundations for most of classical mechanics. Newton's Principia formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation that dominated scientists' view of the physical universe for the next three centuries.

Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics). While best known for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation"), he received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect". The latter was pivotal in establishing quantum theory.

Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb.

Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass 'armonica'.

Kenneth Robert DeMont (December 9, 1957 – present) was the first All American Swimmer at the University of Arizona in the 1970’s. He founded “Shark Technology” in 1982 while coaching summer league at the Tiburon Peninsula Club in Marin County, CA. He founded North Bay Aquatics in 2001 and has been pioneering self-accountability in swim training for more than a decade.

DeMont has been working on a self-accountability theory for several years which he just last week dubbed AD. AD, he explains, is a self-imposed condition (some may prefer to call it an actual disease), called Aerobic Disease. It has symptoms that disguise its real nature. These symptoms include but are not limited to, putting one’s feet on the pool bottom while stretching out the shoulder, taking a perceived bathroom break to empty the bladder – or the bowel which is recognized by a longer absence from the pool, or a need to leave the pool to begin a homework assignment that was miraculously delivered only hours before. Occasionally it has even been caused by a need to pack for an upcoming trip. The point in DeMont’s estimation is that the symptoms are many and varied but with a simple amount of due diligence by the coach the cause keeps coming back to AD – aerobic disease.

10x100/1:15 – no can do. 10x100/1:45 – no problem.

There are some in the scientific community who prefer to call this condition by another name; Aerobic Disorder…that to DeMont seems a bit harsh. He is of the opinion that swimmers have diseases which can be cured. Disorders, he claims, are due to gene pool abnormality…a condition he has not, in 30 plus years of coaching, found anyone willing to own…HA!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Cycle Training

Most in the athletic world know about cycle training. Bob Bowerman, the legendary track coach at University of Oregon, put it quite succinctly, “Stress, recover, improve.”

That goes for the physical side of the game. Work your buns off, recover and you will improve. Nearly all swimming coaches use some sort of cycle in their preparation for every season. There are yearly and quadrennial cycles as well, for Olympic preparation.

We have been having the following conversation with our team lately about cycles; it has been about the emotional cycles that come during a training block.

At the beginning of a new season/training block everyone is excited. Each swimmer is propelled either by their recent success or what may have been a shortfall and now they have renewed enthusiasm for the next chapter.

As the new phase/block/season begins everyone is enthused. Perhaps test sets are used to measure progress. Even dry land components can be used to stimulate forward thinking and motion.

Then what we call “the dog days” set in. We are removed from the beginning sufficiently to have lost the impetus of the new energy and we are still far enough away from the shave meet to get really excited or dialed in.

What to do?

Everyone will be enthused as the big meet gets closer. Some sort of travel meet or local Junior Olympic meet will get everyone’s attention. Workout attendance will rise again and match the beginning of the season levels.

But these “dog days” are the critical ones. Mohammed Ali said, “The fight is won far from the witnesses.”

Everyone is there on race day. The quality of the race is determined by the effort extended toward your goal during the “dog days…the period of time when no one is “keeping track” of what you are doing.
Coaches and athletes everywhere are working diligently to keep spirits high and attendance high and energy input high during these critical periods of time. We tell our team that if you want something, then give it to others and you will get it in return…maybe not from those to whom you give it, but from some other source/resource.

So, it is incumbent on all of us, coaches, athletes and parents, to support each other during the “dog days” - the days when there are no witnesses.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Every now and then, sometimes when we least expect it, a breakthrough occurs. As coaches, and parents too, we continually are teaching, highlighting those elements we feel are prerequisites for progress. Sometimes it seems we are never moving forward and yet our messages are being heard. And then, presto, like last week for Olivia, the message is heard and translated into action. These are the sweet moments in life!

Thanks Olivia for sharing your breakthrough!

Ken and Don,

I've been doing some thinking regarding Monday's practice and in particular some changes I've made to my training and I wanted to share them with you.

While I was swimming on Monday, all I could think was, "Come on Olivia, you're better than this. You are completely wasting this practice." Every thought that ran through my mind was negative and completely related to the times I was going relative to those I thought I should be going during that set.

I realized that night that my entire approach to swimming has been very results focused instead of process focused. I am constantly worrying about my times, mostly because my times currently are almost frustratingly close to my goal times. I have always been told, "Celebrate the process", but I don't think I truly understood the entirety of what this meant until Monday night. I have known for a long time that obsessing over times before a race can negatively impact a swim, but I failed to realize that it can also inhibit one's ability to perform at their top during practices.

Upon seeing this 'results obsession' in my swimming, I tried something new last night. I did not look at my time once. I left on the correct intervals, but resisted the temptation to do the math and look at my times on the hundreds and especially the 25s. This helped my practice so much! While I know that often times in practice are very important, when we are doing a set focused on technique (or tempo such as last night) being so ultra-focused on times takes away from the things I am supposed to be working on.

I realized that I didn't waste Monday's practice at all. My performance gave me an opportunity to refine my approach to training (and racing) and truly celebrate the process instead of just the times or results.

I just wanted to share this with you so you know what’s going through this brain of mine J I'll see you at practice tonight.