Monday, December 28, 2015

Fox Swim Valley Team/SR Group Training

Thank you to Dave for sharing!

Good morning Don,
Loved your workouts, we'll give it a go this week! Always inspired by you!
Below are FOX's training last week. Softer intervals with faster
swimming/underwater work. In addition we did an 1 hr. & 15 min strength
training sessions each day.
Happy Holidays! Dave

Workout #1
2 x 300 choice @ 4:15, 4 x 75 FR (3/4/4) @ 1:20, 2 x 200 IM @ 3:15, 8 x 50 IM @ 50., three min rest.
kick with snorks: 4 x 150 K @ 2:45-3, 4 x 100 K @ 1:40-2, 16 x 25 no snorks @ 30.
3 x 100 loosen @ 1:30, three min break
5 x 200 FR-Pull @ 2:30-3, 6 x 75 FR-Pull @ 1:05, 100 loosen
10 x 50 STR Drill (BK-one arm BK/BR-25 one arm, 25 BR arms-fly k/ FL-2 reg str and 3 kicks under water repeat) @ 55, loosen
Workout #2
1 x 400 choice @ 5:30, 1 x 300 IM @ 4:30, 2 x 200 BK @ 3:10, 8 x 50 FL or BR @ 55. Three min rest.
2 x 200 STR @ 3:15-45, 3 x 100 STR @ 1:30-45, 4 x 50 STR @ 1:10, one min rest, repeat
1 x 500 kick build up, 30 sec rest, 5 x 100 K @ 2:30 (best average, fast) three min rest.
Sprint FR: 4 x 75 @ 1:20 8 x 25 @ 40, 4 x 50 @ 1:00, 8 x 25 @ 40 (50’s 3/3, 25’s two breaths) loosen
Workout #3
1 x 600 choice @ 8:45, 12 x 50 STR Drill @ 55, 3 x 100 IM @ 1:45, 1 x 300 IM @ 4:30, 4 x 50 STR Drill @ 55, three min rest.
30 x 50 FR-Pull @ 40-50, two min rest, 16 x 25 STR-Pull @ 40, 2 x 100 loosen @ 2.
7 x 150 Kick with snorks @ 2:45-3 ( #1 med, #2-7 “50 fast, 50 med, 50 fast”)
1 x 100 STR @ 2:00 (50 med, 50 fast), 1 x 50 FR med @ 1:00, repeat 6 times

Workout #4
4 x 250 @ 4:00 (150 FR, 50 STR, 50 K), 6 x 75 IM/STR @ 1:30, 6 x 50 FR @ 50 (3/3), three min rest.
6 x 25 @ 50 (15 yd blast, 10 yd med), 6 Starts, 6 x 25 @ 50 (finishes)
10 x 100 FR-Pull @ 1:20-45 (med pace, work turns)
Two sets: 8 x 50 @ 1:00 (cycle #1 FR, cycle #2 STR—work breakouts/turns/finishes) two min rest between cycles.
5 x 200 K @ 3:40-4 choice, 2 x 100 loosen @ 2, three min rest
16 x 50 IM (fastest repeat time)
Workout # 5
1 x 600 FR @ 9:00, 10 x 50 FR-Pull @ 45-50, 1 x 400 FR-Pull @ 6, 8 x 25 sprint FR-Pull @ 50, 100 BK loosen, 6 starts, three min rest.
5 x 200 IM @ 3-3:30, 1 x 100 loosen @ 3,
6 x 150 STR @ 2:15-30, 1 x 100 loosen @ 3,
5 x 100 FR @ 1:30-45, 2 x 75 loosen @ 1:30
Work on finishes and sprint drills

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Little Holiday Cheer – A Sampler

Why do coaches love the holidays so much? No school means more swim training time without the distractions. Here is a sample of our pre-Christmas swim and our post Friday training. Lots of fun, various college swimmers back in the pool and smiles all around...we have a week to go and we shall successfully build better and faster swimmers.

Got a favorite holiday workout? Send it to us and we shall share. Best wishes for 2016!

12-24-15 The Gabriel Special - modified

Wmp 4x50/.50
800 mix n match
4x150/2:45 kick - steady as she goes –
400 pull, every 4th lap 75% - 3 breaths
200 im
8x25/.30 ez, build, ez, burst - 4 hypoxic laps……………..2400…45 mins

1000 kick for time - break 15 minutes (1:30 per 100)…..3400…60 mins

8x25/.30 as above

3x400 pull/5:30 - 150 at 75%, 150 at 85%, 100 fast…

400 pull for time

8x25/.30 as above                                                   ………..5600…85 mins

7x100/2:30 all are within 6 seconds of your best unrested time – ones over don’t count

8x25/.30 as above                                                   ……….6500…120 mins

12-26-15 AM 4x50
500 fins ...every third stroke bow drill
4 x200 ... 1st and 4th sculling

Pull 12 x 100/ 1:30
Stroke count
With effort

Kick set
5 rounds
3 x 100 1:30....make or hold time
30 seconds rest
8 x 25/:30
Alt 10 kicks as far as possible
15 meters as fast as possible
30 rest between rounds

12 x 100 1:30
Free 3 breaths per lap
IM working underwaters


12-26-15 PM
Goals: work at 160 HR then add speed kick, then add fast shorter swims for the 200 segments
Wmp – 4x100/1:30 final wall 1,2,3,4 dolph kks
6x50/.45 s,p,k,s,p,k
4x200/2:45 every even lap HBP (Halle breathing pattern)…1500 – 25 mins

3 rounds as follows (1800per round at 32 min/rd)
3 x 300/4:30 NS & PRO w/ 3 breaths per lap HR 160 … breast go 250 with dbl pull throughs
2 x 200/3:30 s 100 HR 16 then kick 100 fast…
Breaststrokers go 2x 175/3:30 – 100 s – 50 free 50 breast HR 16o then 75 fast pull
2x100/1;45 fast pull – pb, straps, pads…backstrokers straps only, last lap spin drill
4 x 50/1 fast…1-3 FT, #4 touch pad finish
4x.25/.40 GO!
6900…2:10 mins

Sunday, December 20, 2015


We spend a lot of time daily, weekly, yearly pondering how to be a more effective coach. Besides providing and caring for our families being the most effective coach is on a very short list of things that matter. That makes us similar to many of you. We have a passion for engaging and at the end of the day giving entitlement to our swimmers. We want them to be great; great at whatever path they choose.
ASCA – thanks to John Leonard among others – continues to provide us with resources. We humbly beg you to click the link below; invest 9 minutes in yourself and your young people. Happy Holidays to John and each of you!


Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Curse or a Blessing?

Good Afternoon Coaches

After each end of season meet I like to go over what I did, what I didn't do, and why. And this time I came to a revelation. I learned the worst part of this sport, when you don't do well, whether you base that on holding your breath into the wall or whatever number the scoreboard feeds you, it is your fault; yours, not the person next to you, and not your coaches. Yours. You can't sit there and have a pity party because Jack didn't pass you the ball or Jim struck out. You can't find blame in others for a fault you made in your swim. But is this a curse or blessing? Yes, swimmers know better than anyone else it sucks not having anyone else but yourself to be mad at, but it is a blessing. The reason that swimming is such a progressive sport and the reason we are able to make the improvements we make is because we are able to find out what WE did wrong and we can fix it. It takes out the excuse of saying "I don’t need to change anything; if we want to win Jack needs to pass." There is an element of accountability. And when you take responsibly for yourself then you can finally swim the way you want. 

Everyone on our team reaches the physical necessity of swimming fast, very few people in the world can complete the workouts with the same vigor our team does, but the difference between the people that are succeeding the way they want to and the people that aren't is their mental capability. And as much as I hate the comparison between my sister and me, I have to make it; we go to bed at the same time, we swim the same amount of time and do the same workouts. So why am I left behind as she does amazing things in swimming? Why can I scrape minimal times off my swims while she can take chunks off? - Our mental fitness. I know this is something, along with many others, I need to work on in swimming, and that is why I am emailing you. You have been doing this a few more seasons then I have, and I am coming to you for help. I am devoting myself to be solely in your hands. You tell me to do something and I will work my best to do so. And hopefully doing so will allow me to complete the goals I set in August.

Thank you both,


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

If It Is To Be It Is Up To Me

This phrase is attributed to William H. Johnsen and is composed entirely of two-letter words. It says take responsibility, take charge and stop waiting for someone else to do the job. What we did this fall was take this statement of intention and put it on the back of our travel meet shirt. Upon reflection it has formed the basis of our approach to this fall’s training and racing season.
We have had an enormous amount of success in getting our swimmers to accept responsibility for their training and racing. We have spent what seems at times an inordinate amount of time teaching this “It is up to me” concept.
The fall out has been swimmers who do not become “victims” when things don’t go the way they want them to go. Sure, there are looks of disappointment and a few long faces but no one is doing the “pity party” scene. And what a difference that makes!
The culture, attitudes and actions of the team are definitely different than years gone by. When everyone “buys in” to the concept that “it is up to me” then focus shifts from results to process.
Observation…this weekend at a big Las Vegas Invitational the scoreboard went down for a fair number of heats. Once the swimmers could see that their times wouldn’t be posted they gave up the time honored tradition of touching the wall and looking at the scoreboard. There were no grimaces or grins; rather a sense of calm and reflection was noticeable. They could ask timers for what the watches read but had to wait a little bit for meet mobile to record their factual time…and a whole bunch of angst vanished.
So as coaches we continue to strive for ways to get the message out; we coach, you swim; you act, we support; you work, you reap; we teach, we reap.
Keep it simple and you can see if it works; make it complicated and if it doesn’t work you have no idea why not.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Simon, Augusta and You

Last Friday we saw a most remarkable documentary explaining Simon Dominguez’s Ocean marathon swim from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallons (small group of islands nearly 30 miles from the GGB). This swim took place a couple of months ago. Simon was pulled from the water 2+ miles from the destination due to a circling shark fin. The Farallons are a known great white shark breeding and feeding ground. When you swim there you take your chances and keep several sharp lookouts at all times. Simon was in water that was 54 degrees or so for 17+ hours…suit, cap and goggles; no wet suits allowed in order to qualify the swim as “official”.
This documentary will be available for general viewing after it makes the Film Festival circuit. We will let you know when. He and his story are most remarkable.
In the audience of 350 was Augusta. She is a 16 year old sophomore on our club team. She swims the 200 fly as well as many other events. She swims it both short and long course. 200 fly long course is an entirely different event than short course. Each has its challenges and few take the risks and enter those events. Augusta is among those few.
As we were watching the documentary it occurred to us that Simon and Augusta have something in common, besides that they both like swimming a great deal! They are willing to do that which most of their peers would not even consider doing. They have similar mindsets. They find that which makes them feel empowered and then they set out to conquer that event.
What is fascinating from the coaching side is that no swims are guaranteed. Many don’t end quite spectacularly. Simon has completed the English Channel and has swum the length of Lake Tahoe – 22 miles at altitude. But he was denied his most recent quest. It happens. Augusta has had many 200 fly swims; several have been spectacular; others not so much. It happens.
Both of these swimmers have the mindset that allows them to move forward regardless of the outcome. This is a true characteristic of a successful person.
The “You” in the headline above is meant to include every reader regardless of event or occupation. What is your mindset? Are you willing to commit knowing full well the outcome is not assured? Can you roll with success and failure, “treating those two imposters the same?” (Rudyard Kipling)
Look around…Simon and Augusta are among all groups. Find them and hang with them; success is assured at some point in time if you have their mindset.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

To Be Thankful

What are you thankful for?
Who is thankful for you?
Who have you thanked this last week?
If you missed an opportunity to say “thanks” do it now or really soon.
What you need will come to you if you give it away – freely, without expectations of payback.
What great quote will motivate you to do the unthinkable as you strive for greatness?
Will you allow yourself to be grateful and then ask for more?
Coaches are often looked to for motivation. Who motivates the coaches?
Who have you motivated this week?
Have you thanked them?
None of us needs a national day to do the right thing…to be thankful.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Speed Camp

We run North Bay Aquatics Senior program with 4 peaks each season. We would prefer 3 but the calendar dictates a 4th for California May high school championships. We look for super-fast swimming in December, March, May and late July/early August.
We don’t bemoan the schedule; rather we adapt to what is given us. Since we currently don’t have any high school swimmers in contention for the Olympic Team (we do have several who will be at Trials) we can live with the extremely compact long course season. In fact we had our best ever long course season this past summer. We credit it to excellent training in short periods of time plus frequent racing our way into long course racing shape. Our college swimmers will fare better perhaps since they have 3 peaks…provided they train and race after Conference and NCAA’s.
The following are two very recent Speed Camp workouts. We first do a portion of the block as “Training Camp” then move into speed gathering mode which is where we are right now. Enjoy…

Speed camp 11-12-15
4 x 50/.50
Fins on for the following
100 last lap breast
200 4th lap back, last breast
300 4th lap fly, 8th lap back 12th lap breast
400 4th 15 meters UW
1:30 base

8 x 100 1:40 kick rotation (kick 1st lap of 1st 100, 2nd lap of 2nd 100 etc.)

8 x 25/.30 e/b/e/b (ez, buildup, ez, burst)
35 minutes

5 rounds
50 on the: 40... Like your 1st 50 of a 100
50 kick or BP (breaststrokes pull) on the: 50 your last 25 of a 100
Easy 75
60 minutes

Fins - 3 rounds
200 free 3:00...streamlines
100 IM 1:30...streamlines
75 minutes

30 x 50 @1:00
Cone in middle (we have orange traffic cones on pool bottom for visuals)
4 starting end blasters (1st ½ of the lap and last ½ of the 2nd lap)
4 turning end blasters (from the 12.5 yard mark to the 37.5 yard mark)
4 hypoxic ...5/4/3/2
3 starting end blasters (1st ½ of the lap and last ½ of the 2nd lap)
3 turning end blasters (from the 12.5 yard mark to the 37.5 yard mark)
3 hypoxic ...4/3/2
2 starting end blasters
2 turning end blasters
2 hypoxic ...3/2
1 starting end blasters
1 turning end blasters
1 hypoxic ...2
105 minutes

Loosen with 4x25/.30 - 4/3/2/1 x 2 or 3 times
Hypoxic rotation

11-14-15 speed camp
4x50/.50…8x100/1:40 rotate kk board…8x25kk/.30 e,b,e,bur
 5x200k plus ez 100 swim/6…kk= 100 honest 80%, 50 @ 90%, 50 - empty the tank
Ez 10 laps with fins – ½ under each lap, streamlines critical
5x100/2:30 breathing pattern for your stroke; focus on breathing pattern, ez effort level
Ez 10 laps w/ fins – AA (As Above)
4x100/3 #1= 1 lap with breathing pattern, tempo & speed…#2 with laps 1&2 same…#3 w/ 3 laps…#4 w all 4 laps
Ez 10 laps AA
1x100 from the blocks one at a time in the lane – put the breathing pattern, tempo and speed all together
Ez 10 laps AA
8x25/.40 e,b,e,bur
2xTim Hill broken 200’s…
#1 75/.50; 2x 50/.40; 1x25…#2 from a dive 75/.45; 2x 50/.30; 1x25
There is an ez 50 on the minute after each segment of the broken 200
Ez 10 laps AA
8x25/.30 e,b,e,bur
5850 total with 1050 at effort ; effort defined as greater than 80%

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Twin Pillars of Progress

We went racing last weekend and observed all manner of swimming related information. We find the meets most stimulating as they are a reliable reflection of progress being made, new skills being incorporated and attitudes being reaffirmed.
Upon reflection it occurred to us that two main components of progress are consistency and the power of incremental improvement. The consistency issue is pretty obvious and while the usefulness of small increments may not be so easily visible they are none the less just as powerful.
The best part of each of these is the athlete has total control of their effectiveness.
Consistency is a hallmark characteristic of high level performers in any walk of life. Swimmers need to come to training sessions and meets regularly. Training sessions missed and meets not attended can never be recovered. When you make those two parts of your career a priority, your progress is virtually insured.
Small incremental improvement is often unobservable in the traditional sense. It is just as remarkable for its impact is never in doubt so long as you are willing to invest regularly over time…like the wise old adage about saving a fixed percentage of your income – all the time.
Let’s say you wanted to drop 4.5 seconds in a 100 yard event over 3 seasons. It looks like this mathematically: you have about 2.5 years, or 912 days to drop the time; 4.5 divided by 912 = .00493. Basically you need to improve .005th of a second each and every day and the time drop will be yours. Now that you have a specific goal for each day you then decide what .005th of a second you are going to capture and how you will do that. The list for that improvement is endless just as it is for the improvement in any area. Not any one thing will give you that time drop; many areas can and need to be addressed – stroke technique, kicking, strength and flexibility, aerobic and anaerobic capacity, sleep, nutrition, mental attitude – the list is practically endless. As Steve Bultman from Texas A&M says, “If you do the work you will improve, the only question is when.”
Both consistency and incremental improvements are completely in your hands. One of the very best qualities about our sport is that you don’t need someone to throw you the ball to score. Does it help to have a knowledgeable coach, supportive parents and encouraging teammates? You bet it does. But you know what? There are thousands of swimmers with all three of those who have no plan. And what we have to say about that isn’t new, but it is still true: failure to plan is planning to fail.
This is actually on you. So take it to heart and do it. You will stand so tall and so proud!

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Case Study

Every coach in the world has an “Alice” on your team. She came to us in December of 2014 and asked, “How do I get faster?” “What can I do to make a travel meet?” We responded with this, “Make a list of the things you think are your strengths and your weaknesses”. She did…and to no one’s surprise the weaknesses far exceeded the strengths. We responded with, “Alice, you have a lot more going for you than you think you do.” She smiled, not quite believing us. We said, you need to work on the positives and decide which of the negatives you can eliminate or at least move to the “zero” impact area.” She resolved to do that…and her swim as described below is proof of that transformation.

Two days ago, in our workout, Ken asked everyone to kick 5x100 on the 2 minutes. Easy enough to do. The first lap of the first one was fast, the 2nd lap of the second one was fast etc…the 5th one was as fast as you could go…get under a minute, get under  a 1:10, etc. Alice, who can easily kick backstroke very fast stayed with her board because she knew it was a “better” way to prove to herself that she was improving (look for and take the harder way!).

And that is what this game we play is all about…pushing our limits, testing ourselves, being willing to fail, being willing to succeed, and being willing to move forward…

Thank you Alice for sharing!

“I am speed replays in my head as I stand behind the blocks waiting in the cool shade of the EZ-ups for my race. The confidence I’ve built over the last seven months pumps me up for one of my last chances to go to Clovis, the Western Zone Championship. Chlorine vaporizes from the pool mixing with smoke from the snack bar grill. The thoughts of food are, for once, not my main focus. The murmur of the crowd surrounds my bubble of concentration. Nothing can distract me. A zap of excitement zips through me as they call the heat before me. Goosebumps of anticipation cover my skin. I go through my race prep routine: toe touches, arm swings, and shoulder stretches. When the official tweets his whistle I do two quick jumps to get my heart moving, crack my neck and remember, I am speed. The long whistle blows. Goggles and cap are firmly on. I step on to the textured block into the blazing sun light. I get into my dive position, ignoring the tightness of my compression suit.
“Take your mark,” crackles through the speakers. Everything stills. The crowd fades away. My muscles tense as I prepare to spring. The need for speed builds. I am speed.
BURMP! The starter goes off. Muscle memory takes over as I dive in. The water invites me smoothly into its refreshing and energizing waves. Four explosive dolphin kicks propel me as I powerfully break the surface setting my tempo at the right pace. My kick enhances the momentum of my arms. Every sixth stroke I take a breath; a skill with which I struggled. About half way across the pool I take my fourth breath and notice the girl next to me starting to pull ahead. Competitiveness kicks in as the lactic acid starts to build in my muscles; I’m getting tired. No. Don’t think negative. Keep a positive mindset, just like Rebecca, a sports psychiatrist, told me. The burn increases, which drives me to push harder. I’m under the 5 meter flags. Last breath, then catch, pull, kick and punch the wall with a high five to end my race.
I gulp for air. My arms and legs tremble as my heart continues to race. I splash my face to cool it. I finally look up to the scoreboard: 29.59 seconds. I squeeze my eyes shut and look up again at the time. I try to remember the qualification time for Clovis in the 50 meter freestyle.
A spurt of energy pulls me out of the pool to find out if I made it. I shimmy my way through the crowd. I’m still in my bubble of focus. Nothing is stopping me until I find out whether I made the time. I finally reach my coach.
“Don, did I get it?”
He turns around in his chair and sticks out his hand.
“Congratulations, you’re going to Clovis.”
I shake his hand firmly. A million emotions fill me. Joy overtakes as I break into my happy dance. I finally made it. It only took about seven months of dedication, but I got it. I’m not going to be left behind while the rest of the team goes to the travel meet. I’m now truly a part of the senior team – no longer the slowest.
Congratulatory slaps on the back and hugs surround me. I break away to go warm down. The crunchy grass tickles my feet as the murmuring of the crowd returns to my senses. I walk with a skip in my step to the section of the pool where swimmers warm up for their races. A goofy smile spreads across my face. I hop into the chilling pool, embracing the chlorine to which I’ve become immune, and warm down while reminding myself that I am speed. I realize that determination pays off in the end. “

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Great Coach is a Great Leader; A Great Leader is a Great Communicator

Coach and Leader George Kennedy (Johns Hopkins University) is great. This copy of his recent letter to his student/athletes’ parents demonstrates this so clearly. Thanks to Cynthia for forwarding it to us and to George who gave us permission to share with you. Having our club swimmers find their way into a program with high standards makes us even more appreciative of the opportunities we have every day. A special “Thank You” here to all North Bay Aquatics parents for trusting us with your family’s well-being.

To all parents—We are 6 weeks into our practices and thought I would give you all an update of my perceptions.  (fun to hear from a perspective other than your sons or daughters).  Actually I think the connection I feel to this group is strong, and so the perspective will probably be similar.  To me, that is very important.  At the age of 60, I could be viewed as “old Coach” but would much rather try to be in tune with how the athletes feel about certain things……

Thought #1---the swimmers love our new assistant coach Nick, and I do too.  He is working very hard as our recruiting coordinator, and as a young coach who can answer tough questions in a mature way. He creates cutting edge practices focusing on walls, underwater work, speed, all the while helping athletes to relate to why they are doing what they are doing.  Simply, Nick’s philosophy is very practical—we have to get to race speed in practice in order to be able to race in meets.  It has been a joy for me to work with Nick and I see it every day.  WOW!

Thought #2—the freshmen always catch the colds before the other students.  Part of this is getting accustomed to dorm life, eating cafeteria food where everyone touches all of the utensils as much of it is self -serve, and living in the same room as someone who they did not know until two months ago.  Many are getting sick and the most important practice for them each day is finding a way to get healthy.

Thought #3—the athletes in our program who do not party heavily are more connected to the coaches than those who do.  Gradually, we are seeing that our top swimmers are not the big partiers….most likely because they cannot accomplish what they do at such a high level in the classroom and the pool.  Years ago the message to the team was there are five things you can do here that encompass your journey in college, but you can only do 4 of the five and be successful:
1)      Your academia
2)      Your spirit and spiritual life (ranges from religious beliefs to deep soul searching)
3)      Your passion for swimming
4)      Your friendships and social settings
5)      Excessive Partying
BUT—if you pick #5 as one of your top 4, then you will not swim very well.  You can still get good grades, you can still have your spiritual life, but your social life becomes a partying life…….and your SWIMMING is the first thing that suffers.  Seriously, I know I just sound like a typical coach trying to be sure that the sport is protected, but this is exactly what I have seen during the past 30 years here.  When I ask the alums who come back, all they say is YUP!

3A—all of the above will impact your sleep, your health and wellness.  At JHU, the academics never go away… you can be great in the classroom, and great in the pool, and comfortable with your spiritual choice and what that means to you.  The key to all of the above is which path of social life they choose.…..AND SO, their health and wellness is totally impacted by picking either #4 or #5.

Thought #4—some of the athletes demand more than 1/53 rd (there are 53 team members)  of the time we have for each one of them and may not begin to even look at it that way.  In other words, the coaches must give our all of our energy to 53 people.  If we have someone who is particularly needy, they could take up 10-15/53 of our time and that leaves less for the others.  So this is an area where I believe being a great teammate is knowing that their teammates need the time from the coach as well.    My philosophy has always been to be there for someone during their toughest days, but ultimately the goal is for each of the swimmers to communicate and seek help in a way so that we prevent many of the toughest days.  The way to best do this is to create an environment where the athletes get to understand the differences between problems and inconveniences

Thought 4a—I have beaten cancer. ( I would rather look at it that way than as a cancer survivor).  My attitude is at an entirely different wavelength than many of the swimmers.  When they complain that they have a tough test or have had a tough day, I try to understand….but I end up talking a lot to the team about the difference between a problem and an inconvenience. 

Thought 5—the “dump” phone call.  It is about that time where the newness of the year or the newness of our program wears off.  Swimmers are tired at this time of the season and so are parents .  But realize what happens during this time---The kids will call home with what we call the “ dump” phone call.  That is the call that “this isn’t going well or the coach did this or the asst coach did that. We all did it too when we were younger.  A big difference today is that back then my dad just said well son,  “it is up to you to go in and speak your mind to someone who can do something about it”.  See, the dump phone call is not new.  What happens is that the team members will stop listening to complaints, because that is what this generation does….they get caught up in it, and then all of a sudden stop listening…. so the person has no one to listen other than to their parents. (Now, Back to the 1/53 of time, I want you to know that Nick and I care about every one of these kids but can possibly only give each one but so much time) -----fast forward to the dump phone call---   as a parent of a former athlete I know the pain you feel when you get the call….here is a suggestion:

1)      Listen to them until they are finished
2)      Ask if that is definitely the whole story
3)      If so ask them to come in and speak  with the coaches about it
4)      If it involves your swimmers health, or academic best interests feel free to contact me.  If it is about swimming, please do not contact me.  It is what we are paid to do—connect with your son or daughter.
5)      There is no way to be objective when feeling for your son or daughter.  Try to be the one that provides a sense of calm

Thought 5a—It is really hard to be at home when your kid is struggling here.  But rest assured there are people who care here.  We just do it in a way for growth to take place.  There were so many times when I received dump phone calls…..funny, the next day things seemed a lot better.

Lastly.   On 60 minutes, one of the segments was on the “Make a Wish Foundation”.  It was powerful.  It inspired me to write to each of you and reach out.  It is hard to be away from your kids….and in the 60 minute segment, young boys and girls with cancer or other diseases, were granted one wish. Like, if there is one thing I can do right now it would be ____________.  And one was granted a trip to Australia and another being a policeman for a day, and another riding in the care of his favorite car racer.   They were saying to us all  to truly live life, do so one day at a time.   I watch 60 minutes every Sunday, as my way to “read the Newspaper”.  This segment was powerful.  Essentially it said to me that we all need to smile more, we need to value every day, and the best way to do that is by connecting our brains (at a place like JHU) with our hearts (having compassion)……..there is not a day that goes by that we do not want each of your sons or daughters to feel that there is compassion here at JHU and in this world.  

Go Hop 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Being Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

This comes from Stephanie in response to last week’s comments about Learning to Dance. Thanks for sharing your insights. We are all beginners at something. To prosper we must move into new realms, both in our thoughts and our actions.

“I really enjoyed your last blog post and it got me thinking about my own experiences with this. For me, and almost all of the girls on my team at UCLA, weight lifting was a huge area where we felt uncomfortable and unwilling to commit. We felt out of place in the weight room with huge football players and rap music; we were afraid of getting "bulky" or looking silly in front of teammates and other athletes; we were afraid of acting too "manly" by lifting heavy and committing athletically; we were uncomfortable learning something new that wasn't swimming. In retrospect, my times of greatest success in the pool were times when I was also excelling in the weight room. I know that girls always struggle with image and identity as athletes, especially in a co-ed sport in high school. Maybe this insight will help you communicate to the girls on North Bay that being strong out of the pool doesn't mean they are "manly" or bulky; it just means they are better, stronger athletes.”

Excellent insight from one who has been there, done that. Get fitter; get stronger; get faster!
Thanks Stephanie!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Learning to Dance

Sunday we went to the Presidio Yacht Club to watch the Blue Angles scream around San Francisco Bay. Very impressive display of tight teamwork at high speeds right there in front of us. When people of high stature do anything in their chosen field they make it look so easy. Yet at some level we onlookers know that it isn’t easy at all; rather it is incredibly complex and takes years to perfect.
Then we went inside to the bar where the band Lonestar Retrobates was jammin’ up a swing storm. And there were several couples on the floor doing the same. Man, those folks could dance! Their footwork and teamwork was impressive. They had obviously been doing it for a long time. We watched their feet and arms and bodies move with certainty as they went through a never ending series of moves…Dancing with the Stars right in front of us! We were tempted to give it a whirl but declined, thinking maybe this was not the place to practice…HaHa.
They and those pilots before them had clarity of vision, many hours of practice and a willingness to “go for it.”
We then wondered how many swimmers never reach their potential because they are unwilling to “give it a whirl” thinking that this is neither the time nor the place to “look out of place” among those so obviously superior to themselves?
Yet, this begs the question, “If not now, then when?” Tomorrow when the perceived stakes aren’t so high? When I get in better shape? When no one is really looking?
Before you know it the big meet is here and you are not prepared; all because you decided at some point that “now” was not the time. Getting in shape and learning new athletic skills is easy…all you need to do is take one step at a time and absolutely not care about success or failure; rather care about personal improvement, doing something new each day, perfecting a stroke or a turn or a race strategy. In an alarming short number of days you will be making it “look easy” for someone else…then you are on your way to the top.
Olympians hurt just the same as you do; the difference is that they don’t care.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Winner Gets His Due

Last year when Yaroslav went to Cal Poly as a freshman he was denied a spot as a walk on. He was not deemed fast enough by the coach. He could have quit; could have made the excuse his shoulder was bothering him and thus he wasn’t fast enough. He persevered however. He swam on the club team and came home for the summer and trained and raced. Here is his story of the outcome.

“This is your favorite Russian, also known as Russian Rocket Scientist.
I was about to send you text, but I figure text is not enough - I have a lot to tell. Last year, when I was about to leave for college, you ask us to write about our experience with swimming. Well, consider this a late assignment. I had some unfinished business to do in world of pre-college swimming.

And I managed to succeed. Yesterday I had my first dual meet as Cal Poly Mustang; we had a lot of fun racing USC.

I am going to be honest, I am not one of the top boys on the team; I do not get spots in relays very often. Yet, there is a lot of work to be done. But the hardest part is over, I have made the team.

(The loud roar you hear is us erupting in joy and congratulations for a hard fought victory!)

I want to tell a little about last year, probably hardest year in my life. I never understood how much I loved swimming and how much I wanted to be part of the team before. Only when I was rejected the opportunity to try out for the team I fully understood how badly I want to make it. I had to become a normal person for some time - and that was not easy. But I decided to give myself a second chance. Not an easy decision, there were many times when I was not sure if I really want to keep going. I recall at least four times when I almost made a decision to stop. The hardest part was uncertainty, until almost the first day of classes I did not know for sure if I make the team or not. It is incredibly hard to work as hard as competitive swimmers do and know that it could be for nothing.

It helps to consider different outcomes; I have made two grand plans for this year: one with me being on the team, and one without swimming. In both cases I have decided to make this year as fun as it can be. I was not sure about swimming, but I was sure I am about to have some great time.

Now, when I made the team, I have to deal with responsibilities of student-athlete. And I am looking forward to the challenge. I love a good challenge.

And I would not be able to face all of that without all the great preparation I got while working with you. Work ethics and dedication are key components of college swimming, and I am glad I had a chance to learn it from you and Ken. Thanks a lot for that.”

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Carrie Thiederman

April 7, 1962 – September 22, 2015
This piece, written by Carrie no less, was in the San Francisco Chronicle last Friday the 25th. Wrap your head around this if you can…
“This is what she knows: that when you least feel like it, do something for someone else; that learning requires a willingness to be bad at something for a while, and that is okay;…if we had no winter, spring would not be as pleasant; that love must be outwardly shared and compassion acted upon; that people who deeply listen and closely observe radiate light from within and access their empathy…”
And she finished with this, “Smile when the people you cherish enter a room. Let them see your eyes light up. Again and again. And again.”
We spent this weekend at our season opening meet. We were surrounded by fellow coaches, swimmers, parents and officials. If Carrie had been any of those, she would have felt right at home.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Another Ken Masterpiece

Ken came up with this gem week. It took exactly 2 hours, has no fluff and everyone stayed engaged pretty much the whole way since the targets kept moving and were perceived as doable. We find that if we challenge them regularly while allowing for some measure of success, they respect that and lean into it. Make it so difficult that only one or two can succeed and bunches throw in the towel. Our training goal is to keep them on their game start to finish…we succeeded with this one for the most part.

Wmp 4x50/.50

Fins on...
9 x 200 3:00 (3 rounds of 3)
1. 4 and 8 non free – 1st 200 laps 4 & 8 non-free
2. 4 and 8 hypoxic - 2nd 200 laps 4 & 8 one breath
3. IM

4 x 50 drill to swim... Choice drill... Get rid of the fin feel

Kick set
4 x 25 :40... Easy UWDK...15 meters – simply feel the underwater dolphin motion
8 x 25 :40...UWDK at effort ....15 m – race the person next to you 15 mtrs under
4 x 25 :40... Easy UWDK...15 meters – as above
8 x 25 :35...UWDK at effort ....15 m – as above
4 x 25 :40... Easy UWDK...15 meters – as above
8 x 25 :30...UWDK at effort ....15 m – as above
4 x 25 :40... Easy UWDK...15 meters – as above
8 x 25 :25...UWDK at effort ....15 m – as above
28 minutes

Swim an easy 400... 3 dolphin kicks off each wall

4 x 50/.50 swim as beautifully as possible... Count strokes

Main set – crank the 100’s fast, the 50’s are recovery and put your stroke back together
4 x 50 :50 easy
1 x 100 fast 1:20
4 x 50 :50 easy
2 x 100 fast 1:20
4 x 50 :50 easy
3 x 100 fast 1:20
4 x 50 :50 easy
4 x 100 fast 1:20
4 x 50 :50 easy
4 x 100 fast 1:20
4 x 50 :50 easy
3 x 100 fast 1:20
4 x 50 :50 easy
2 x 100 fast 1:20
4 x 50 :50 easy
1 x 100 fast 1:20

Set takes 53:20 to do... 26:40 easy and 26:40 at effort

On this set we had many of the stroke specialists swim the last lap of each 100 on the way up at stroke. On the way down the 100’s were free fast with the last 100 all stroke. The buy-in was enormous. Group energy was very high, lots of encouragement in the lanes. For the most part everyone was focused and very present.

7600 yards