Sunday, September 28, 2014


…never sleeps; so says Neil Young through his music on his iconic 1978 album of the same name. It is what we think of tonight, the night after our first weekend of racing since the first week in August.
If you are a guitar player, golfer, painter, carpenter, teacher, coach or competitive swimmer and you put down your Stratocaster, clubs, brushes, hammer, chalk, stopwatch or speedo for nearly two months, when you pick up the tools of your trade you will exhibit some rust.
And that is to be expected. The only way to get the rust off is to scrape it off through use.
We were a bit flabbergasted to hear some of our swimmers – who we think of as “professionals” – say things like, “yeah but I thought I would go faster…”
This proves – again – that not all folks are as wise as we would like to believe…HA!
Ask yourself…where was I a year or two ago at this point in my season?...meaning literally at the first meet of the fall. Put this experience in perspective and then see what you really see.
We – North Bay Aquatics – have been in the water 4 weeks. We have been training for 2 weeks. We have been in the weight room for 6 weeks. We have been training in that room for 4 weeks. We have rust in the pool. We have much less rust in the weight room.
If you are a swimmer…ask yourself, “Where am I in the grand scheme of things?” And then you will know what you need to do this week. Keep working on your game.
Olympic Trials begin June 26, 2016…get your game in order…keep your perspective…
Rust never sleeps…

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Two Sides

We like to keep things simpler as opposed to more complex. It seems to us that nearly everything can be reduced to the proverbial “two sides of the same coin” status.
Night and day, heads or tails, up or down, yes or no, red or green, wet or dry, can or can’t, rich or poor, happy or sad…we could go on forever…maybe…but you get the idea.
We have begun talking with our team about their goals and our goals. On Saturday we told them we were going to learn more about flow and how to teach them to achieve it since we believe it is the next important discovery for success in the pool as well as in life. Fortune 500 companies actually keep track of flow in the workplace. We also told them we are going to have at least 4 swimmers in Omaha at Olympic Trials in 2016 (we had one in 2008, two in 2012). Those two goals we have for our team.
We then asked them to write down on a 3x5 card 2 or 3 goals for this fall. The next discussion with them will be about the two sides of the coin…it will go something like this…
Tell us how you are going to do it; don’t tell us why you can’t do it.
Simple; effective; useful…on a daily basis…keeps everyone accountable, coaches and swimmers…parents and administrators as well.
As our friend Dave Krotiak says, “Have an awesome day!”
As our colleague Dave Durden says, “If you are having a crummy day, have a good crummy day!”
Words to live by from both sides of the coin…

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Call to Action: Your college/university needs your help…now!

We just returned from the annual American Swimming Coaches Association’s Coaching Clinic. What a fabulous gathering of people and energy. There is lots of good news and unfortunately some bad news as well.
The good news is that our coaching profession is filled with many energetic smart women and men who take great pride in their profession of creating positive and nurturing cultures for young people in which to immerse themselves as they prepare for the “rest of their life”.
The bad news is that the landscape is changing as we speak, dramatically, in a financial way. We do not pretend to know the exact details but it goes something like this.
Schools are required to pay for meals for athletes on teams. This may not seem like a big deal but when you take the number of athletes at any given school – your former college or university – and do the math it amounts to millions – yes, millions – of dollars per school. Now maybe you went to a smaller college and so it is “only” several hundreds of thousands of dollars…you get the drift here.
When you add to this the specter of paying those athletes who are in revenue generating sports – football and basketball – a yearly stipend, say $2,000 per athlete, well you can see where this is headed.
So, what can you do – now?
Pick up the phone or send an email to your school and see what the need is and how you can help contribute to the solution. Think about the swimming landscape and how it would look if there wasn’t any competitive swimming. What would those 18-22 year student/athletes do? A few “rock stars” wouldn’t be impacted too much. But the landscape would be littered with souls with broken dreams. One of the big differences between our country and the third world is that our young people have hope; hope of a better day, a better tomorrow. Without competitive swimming many of those people may become disenfranchised…a shame indeed, one of uncalculated proportions.
Make the call today, now.
Thank you…

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Need to Keep Moving Forward

Let’s pretend you are a senior in high school working to get into college, finding a swim team that works for you while also finding a place you think you’d fit in for the next 4-5 years academically and socially. It can be and sometimes is a daunting challenge.  
After all, you get advice from so many corners of your universe. Everyone thinks they have the answer to all your questions. In fact they don’t have any answers at all. All they have are their opinions which are usually framed by either their own personal experiences or by those of friends and co-workers under whose influence they live.  
Now let’s say you finally figure it all out. You find a school that seems like it will provide you with an opportunity for a good education. (Remember that nearly all schools fit this part of the bill; the rest is up to you to take advantage of this opportunity)
Best of all this school has a swim team that seems as if it will meet your needs as well. Its program seems to be in line with your aspirations. It gives you room to grow without suffocating you yet isn’t so easy that it fails to challenge you. The coaches appear to have your best interests at heart while holding you to a level of expectations that will allow you the opportunity to improve.
Sounds like you have a winner. Congratulations! Now what?
You won’t actually get in that school and on that team until about 11months from now.
We ask you to look back where you were academically, socially and athletically 11 months ago. We bet there have been numerous changes. Consider that for a moment and then think about this question: what do you plan to do with the next 11 months?
You actually have “it made” – temporarily; indeed very temporarily. The landscape is littered with numerous examples of high school seniors who thought they had “it made” once the decision was made, the offer accepted. In fact the real work now begins; and it begins in earnest tomorrow.
You have 11 months to get yourself ready for the next step. You need to get your academic house in order first and foremost. Simultaneously you need to get your athletic game to the highest possible level since when you get to your new college team the intensity will be such that you have not ever faced before.
Trust us on this point. When you take put 20-30 individuals in the pool who all have a common goal of excelling it will require every bit of your ability to keep up. As an 18 year old you will be competing with 22 year olds who want to help you improve while keeping their spot ahead of you. The dynamic is either incredibly inspiring or crushing.
You will literally either sink or swim. Same goes for the classroom. They don’t take attendance. They don’t care if you show up; pass or fail; it’s up to you.
Which is a really wonderful thing; you are now firmly, perhaps for the first time in your life, actually in charge of your own destiny. You have arrived at a wonderful place. You can thrive and actually call it your own…perhaps for the first time in your life…powerful stuff indeed!
So keep moving forward these next few months and see what is possible for you!

Monday, September 1, 2014

What We Learned

As we embark on a new training season we reflect upon what went right and what didn’t last season.
We have a fairly comprehensive list on both sides of the ledger and those lists rather accurately describe what we learned. These of course will become woven into the day to day fabric of how we approach our coaching and how our athletes approach their swimming.
What we do know is this:
A swimmer and or a coach must take responsibility for his/her actions. Failure to do so puts one in the role of victim. Victims never improve; not ever.
We all work better individually when we are united in a common purpose. The team does help hold the individual to higher standards in a very supportive nurturing way. When someone is out of touch with the group both that person and the group suffer. 
Contributors always win; takers always lose. Get rid of takers; add contributors.
It is impossible to predict the future. At the same time it is possible to predict outcomes rather accurately based upon the familiar input = output equation. More work, more attention to detail, more connection to group goals as well as individual goals = more rewards, more benefits reaped and more engaged group dynamics.
Faster does not mean better. Faster means less elapsed time. Better means a whole host of qualities some of which may be faster.
What does your list look like? What will you keep; what will you toss out?