Sunday, February 23, 2014

Impossible Is Nothing

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

Mohammed Ali

Theo St. Francis, alum of NBA and student at M.I.T., brought this to our attention two weeks ago when he was discussing the power of the Mind-Body connection as it relates to his willingness to overcome hardships. Our team faces the same tasks daily as well, though in a different arena.

Ali was indeed ahead of his time in many respects:

Positive affirmation – “I am the greatest!”

Relaxed jaw – he lost more mouth pieces than any fighter ever

Value of hard work – “The fight is won far from the witnesses”

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Swim in College

The Olympics are all over TV these days and we love watching the best in the world do their thing. At the same time we cannot help but think about the tens of thousands of highly trained and competitive athletes who are not on TV…but may have dreamed of it one day in their private moments.

Most coaches have teams that look the same; several standouts and many valuable members who cannot or will not quite get to the “top”, whatever that may mean. All members of a team who commit to the team and the process are important. Without them, there is actually no team…just a bunch of individuals who gather each day for some exercise. If you have ever been on a “team” you know the difference.

We asked Elisa, who trains with our Senior 1 group, what was the value to her of swimming, her North Bay Aquatics team and what she thought about the possibilities of swimming in college were. When we read her response we figured we are doing a good job…except for that remark about the marbles!!

“Will I continue to swim in college? Yes. It is the level of the participation, however, that I have not yet decided upon. I applied to 16 highly competitive and academically rigorous schools for one reason: I want to have the best opportunities I can get to become the best doctor I can be. I have a series of goals that I hope to fulfill at any university that I attend. For starters, I aim to graduate in the top 5% of my class; whether I end up at Harvard or UCSB, I will see to it that this goal comes to fruition. I also aspire to be involved in scientific research in some sub-field of neurobiology, and I wish to be a part of a team that publishes in a scientific journal as an undergraduate. Achieving these feats would, of course, give me the best possible chance at admission to a top-notch medical school, which is (as you know) what I've been looking forward to since I was twelve years old. Aside from engaging in rigorous academic pursuits, I plan to take full advantage of what my college has to offer: I want to explore intellectual diversity. Nothing helps me to grow more as an individual than does challenging the way that I think. This challenge invariably arises from situations in which I step outside of my comfort zone-- having the chance to meet new people of different ways of thinking is one opportunity that I look forward to most. To do this, however, I'll need to get involved in activities that would best supplement my rigorous pre-med course schedule. I have the intention of joining clubs, of studying abroad, of being at the top of my class. For these reasons, I am unsure that I see varsity sports on my agenda for the future. I have loved swimming and appreciate all that it has offered me over the recent years, which is why I will undoubtedly continue for fitness and camaraderie at the very least.  In high school, I've put many facets of my life on hold in the interest of reaching my full potential in swimming. Second to school, it comprised the majority of my time and efforts. Swimming will not offer me the opportunities that it will lend to some of the more accomplished swimmers on NBA, and I am fully aware of this. I am not relying on it to take me where I want to go, nor am I leaning on it to provide a boost to my application. I swim because I love it, and because it humbles me in ways that are unique to the sport; never in my life have I learned more about resilience than I did on NBA. So I'll continue to swim club at the very least, but I am going to be up front and state that I am not ready or willing to sacrifice opportunities that will help be grow as an individual and a future physician in the name of high-level competition. My decision to swim varsity will altogether depend on where I choose, as a less demanding swim program would be something I'd look into. However, I did apply to a number of D1 schools who would require a time commitment and skill level that I simply don't think I can dedicate. 

Bottom line: D1 is slightly out of the question, I would entertain the thought of D3, and I will definitely do club.

Somebody's going to have to be able to put your brain back together when you start losing your marbles. Don't you think I should focus on that?!”

Thanks Elisa; you made our day!

Monday, February 10, 2014


We have a couple of swimmers who have been working diligently building their bodies stronger. We like to see this purposeful individual drive. It shows us that they have a level of personal investment and intention in their season.

We find it interesting that they seem to feel that this will be the answer to their success. We hope to make them aware that this is one of the 3 legs on the all-important stool of success.  Coaches everywhere know that it takes three groups of people to have a successful team: swimmers, parents and coaches. Take away any of those three elements and the quality of the team suffers dramatically.

For a swimmer to have success perhaps we could argue that indeed there are three cornerstones for them as well. Certainly the physical body is important. It needs to be really strong and very flexible and have great range of motion: we like the phrase “functional strength”.

And yet that by itself ensures nothing. We like to think about the mental strengths that are needed as well: fortitude, determination in the face of adversity, willingness to learn from mistakes. The phrase “mental toughness” comes to mind.

Still that is not enough. The swimmer needs the third leg to balance their game. That third leg is a free mind, one that is not burdened by other people’s expectations. A mind that operates free from “should” “ought” or “what’s the matter with you; how come you can’t…”

Sculpting your body is important. But it isn’t more nor is it less important than mental toughness or a free mind. Those three legs will support any swimmer’s level of intention…in our opinion.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Words of Wisdom for Age Groupers - and that means all of us!

As we continue to strive to make improvements, work hard and swim fast at meets, it's important to keep in mind that swimming is not a straight line of improvement up to your goal.  It's an up and down line that slowly moves up as we improve. It's not going to be the same line for each and every one. Growth spurts and maturity happen naturally to every swimmer and not at the same time either. Those two pieces of the puzzle plus an added focus at practices and the willingness to put yourself out there will all help in speeding up the process. But it is a process, so enjoy it!!

See you at the POOL
Coach Lee Anne

Lee Anne coaches North Bay Aquatics  Senior 2 and Pre Senior swimmers, ages 10-16. They represent a fairly wide range of skill level and speed. Many are Junior Olympic to Far Western level kids but all enjoy swimming and make it a fairly regular part of their weekly activity list. The write up above was attached to a meet recap from last weekend where many best times were recorded as well as some good swims from kids in the midst of “heavier” training who wondered if their hard work would pay off down the line. Also, some parents of younger swimmers get used to seeing a rather straight line of progression when it comes to times. Her comments were right on the money from where we sit and we thought you would enjoy them.

Lee Anne also coaches our Masters team – and they are age groupers as well!