We have just finished the first quarter of an Olympiad. An Olympiad is the four-year span of time between Olympic Game’s. In reality, it marks a true training cycle that relates directly to qualifying for first the Trials, and then the Team. Historically, the majority of those who have qualified to represent the United States of America in Olympic competition have at least two or more Olympiads tied up in this effort.
To the ancient Greeks, the originators of the Olympic Game’s, the Olympiad was the foundation of their calendar, how they measured the passage of time, and the key to understanding their culture. This Greek world was a period of time dominated by competition and conflict between the various Greek-City-States, not just war with outsiders. In fact, there is much historical evidence that indicates that the three-month residence requirement and the mandatory truce that went with the residence requirement, tied to the ancient Olympics, were the only truly peaceful periods in Ancient Greek history. I wonder if a three-month resident requirement tied to daily drug testing might not solve the modem Olympic competition’s most urgent problem?
Where were all the Greeks when the three hundred Spartans were defending the pass at Thermopylae? Why, at the Olympic games, that’s where! Athens had been abandoned; the Persians were advancing way to quickly, and someone needed to slow down this advance since these foreigners obviously didn’t understand the importance of these games. This wasn’t just another war, but a war for survival of the Greek world. The three hundred stopped the Persians dead for three days that first, allowed the Greeks to finish their competition, and second, to organize and beat them in two major battles that shaped and gave direction to modern western culture. It’s interesting to note that at the end of this battle the Persian warriors were heard to ask their General, “Haradonis! What kind of people are you leading us against, who compete not for money, but for honor?”
What a great question then, and now! I believe a basic one if your going to accomplish anything of real importance as a coach. Maybe, a more important question with a real need for an answer today than to those Persian warriors over twenty-five hundred years ago. A question that, I believe, is at the core of what each of you are trying to accomplish with your swimmer.
After Sydney and all the questions, rumors, and excuses tied to performance enhancing drugs, the use of performance enhancing nutritional supplements, to say nothing about the ensembles of specialized slaves, outside those provided by the US Olympic Committee, to prepare people for their race, just maybe it’s time for each of us to understand the concept of the Olympiad and its meaning to our sport.
My wife has worked very hard at getting me to say, “In my opinion,” so I don’t come across as even more arrogant than I actually am, but in this case, it’s my deep conviction that on this issue I’m right, and those who don’t agree with me are just flat wrong. I’m quoted in American Swimming Magazine as saying I am as tired of those who cry about the issue of drugs and nutritional supplements as those who actually are cheating by there use. It’s my belief that many of you agree with my position. I know that I’m just tired of all the whining. For, you see, both those who cry about it and those who cheat miss the whole point of competition, especially Olympic competition.
If you have allowed drug usage in any form, under any circumstances, you’re not a coach; you’re merely a user of those you abuse. Drug dealers, no matter what level, are disgusting human beings. Your job as a coach isn’t to dispense drugs, but to help your swimmer reach their full potential the old fashion way, through hard, smart work found in a well-designed program that by definition has no short cuts. Coaching isn’t about using your swimmers for your own ego, abusing them with any form of drug usage, questionable and inadequately researched supplements use, or just a poorly designed program that gives them no hope of winning or greatness without cheating.
It’s important to me that everyone in this room, no matter what level you coach at, take to heart what I’m about to say today and begin to at the very least to give it some thought, and hopefully to act upon it. You need not accept my positions word for word, but I believe each of you must decide for yourself just what your position is and how you’re going to deal with it. Not just for your swimmer, but for yourself as well. That person you see daily in the mirror can make a difference in this world, if he/she does the job ethically each and everyday. Do more than be born, eat, sleep, make love as often as possible, and then die. That’s what most of the world’s population manages to do with their lives, choose to do better than that and make a difference. In coaching that means helping a young person to truly face the truth of their potential and become a partner in helping them reach for it. To accomplish this, in my opinion, there are five truths that you must come to accept.
The first truth is tied to the meaning of sport. What makes sport, sport? It isn’t really just winning or losing, but rather it’s about training! A training program, if well designed, becomes a process that is an end in itself. It becomes the means that leads to self-realization. Sport is for the participant, the doer, and not the fan, the parent, or the coach. During the longer races when most of us, including me, make ourselves known by standing on the sideline yelling, giving hand signals, and basically letting the world know who we are, have any of you ever really thought about what your actually accomplishing. I’II never forget the time Tim Shaw got out of the pool after setting the world record in the mile and asked me if I had hurt myself giving him all those signals. I never hurt once! We both laughed as I explained to him that the key to coaching was a high toleration for his pain. But, the reality here, that you must all come to accept, is that you’re not swimming the race and you’re therefore not the key to success or failure. The person in the race is the key to success.
The second truth is that sport doesn’t build character. You want to know something about your child, put them in competition and watch them compete. You’ll learn how they react and accept all the variations that life offers. You will find out if they’re tough or soft, a good sport or a rotten loser, a quitter or a plugger, but what you won’t see happen is a change in character because of a contest. If you don’t like what you see, then within the training you begin to implement change in behavior, but once again this doesn’t happen unless the participant decides to make it happen. The person in the race is the key to any adjustments made.
A third truth is that the only loss that can’t be overcome is that person’s death. The results of a contest are nothing more than a fleeting milli-second in one’s life span. A win or a loss is really nothing more than another experience in one’s life that can and should become a lesson to be used in future actions. Any result can only measure a certain accomplishment at a specific time on a specific date, and in and of itself can’t in reality define the person beyond these boundaries. Life is an on-going process that has its moments but is always measured by the total period of time one breathes. One moment in time can’t and shouldn’t define a person’s life. All the experiences and the adjustment over time to these experiences tell us who and what a person becomes. One result might be an indication; a series of similar results would be a better indication; and a lifetime of similar behavior tells the real story. The person living that life is the key to that life.
A fourth truth is there is no easy way, only the right way. Nothing is for free and there are consequences tied to all actions. Each of us is born into this world with given abilities and liabilities. We come from all that has gone before us. Hopefully we make the most of what we have been given and learn to cover our liabilities with our strengths. We all have potential, but being of the human race, we almost never come close to our full abilities let alone ever really achieve or experience our full potential. The only person who has any real control over their potential is that person with the potential. How close they come or how short they fall is entirely in their own hands.
The fifth truth is dependent upon you having accepted and put into practice the first four truths. A properly designed, communicated, and administered program can be the difference between failure and success for those who participate. Even here, the coach isn’t the key person in the endeavor, but a great program opens the door for all participants, not just the top performers, to see the beauty of being the best they can be. This should be the real definition of winning, not merely first place at the Olympics. If it’s not, then I must be speaking to a room of losers. I hope you all know better than that!!!!
The wonderful part of the first four truths that are tied directly to human nature is that human beings tend to do the minimum that is required to succeed. That’s why the less talented among us usually do as well or better than those with more natural talent. Because we are forced to work harder, because there is a greater cost for us with less talent to be successful, we must make more decisions and follow through on those decisions to succeed! The importance of this to your program should demand that each of you see that the fifth truth becomes a reality. Only through each of us developing a great program will our National Program have a shot at maintaining greatness. You should not underestimate your importance to the National Program, and in fact, I don’t see how you can over-estimate this truth.
Upon my return to coaching six years ago, one of the major problems centered, in my opinion, on this very truth. It seemed to me that many of our leaders had so tipped the scales of how to measure those who we would support based upon studies of who was talented, that only those with super talents were getting any attention. Many with marginal talent were being cut out of the progression way to early. Well, those with marginal talent have always forced the talent to be honest, or the talented gets beat. By cutting too many too soon both your and the national programs were being harmed. If everyone can win by going through the process, no one really is getting used, then what’s the need to force people out of the sport so soon? After all, this game of swimming is something people can do almost from cradle to grave.
I don’t know how many of you in this room know this but historically, sport grew from war, and in reality war is merely the most dangerous of all man’s games. It’s a truth that the military experiences deaths not only on the battlefields, but also on a daily basis as they practice for the real thing. This is a truth that every military organization throughout human history has come to experience. The ancient Greek world was either at war or in preparation for war. To over-come this unnecessary loss of people they developed games to maintain fitness without as much chance of unneeded deaths. Out of this developed the crown games.
The pre-eminent of the four crown games was the Olympic Game’s, held at Olympia, every Olympiad. The purpose of this competition was just not to see who was best, but also to meet the elements of physical fitness required to meet the never ending needs of the society. The purpose of the training wasn’t for the Arete (Victory), but for Agon (the process). A process tied to both mental and physical conditioning that made the citizen prepared to meet his place and role in the society. A win got you a crown of olive leaves. This award fit the Greek view on life and death perfectly. Within a week or two the crown would dry up and begin to become dust. Within a few weeks a stiff wind could blow your award away. This was a symbol to demonstrate that life was a never-ending quest for greatness through honor.
I gave a detailed talk on Agonistic Training to this association back in 1974 and I don’t want to go into this again. It’s correct that I believe and teach this concept, have based my program on this philosophical position, and for those of you who want a deeper understanding of this concept, it can be found at the ASCA booth. The part that I want you to understand at this time is that this concept, the seeking of honor through honorable behavior in bad as well as good times, is the common historical element that ties all of mankind together. I don’t care your skin color, your culture, or your mythology, this warrior concept with all its rules can be found at the beginning of your peoples’ development as a society. Your ancestors were either members of the ruling aristocracy, with obligations to the code, or slaves or peasants serving the aristocracy and surviving day to day. In all probability you have ancestors from both groups. Either way, this agonistic concept in some way affects to some degree who and what you are today, and I believe it’s well past time that we revisit and consider these concepts as possible solutions to many of today’s problems.
In many ways it measured both the high as well as the low point in human development. If you weren’t of the aristocracy, you had no rights, no freedoms, no property and existed solely to serve those who by their station in society were your betters’. If you were of the aristocracy, you were obligated to uphold and protect the society. Honor, the thing that you as a member of the aristocracy had spent your entire life in quest of, is only granted at the time of your death. Granted not by your family, not by yourself, but only by your peers who had lived, competed, and fought next to you during your life span.
Today, though each of us is subject to the views of our fellow citizens, public opinion on issues, and to those who pay us for our services, modern man can survive by being different, can go against the flow, and can stand against their society without being destroyed. Where ancient man had no such chance; was totally at the mercy of his position in society; modern mankind has a chance to determine their own conduct, especially when they’re right. If right you have a chance to win, at least eventually, maybe immediately if people fear you, but you better be right. If wrong, everyone and their mother will be there to let you know the errors of your way.
The point I’m working at making here is that by taking the best from what we have learned about life from our ancestors, remodelling it into a system that works best for both us and our participants today, might be the thing for us to put some thought and effort into. Does are current society really have better answers than our ancestors had? Is what we do and how we behave today really better than how our ancestors handled the same problems? Do we really want to continue down our current path, especially when this current direction might be advocated by biased people and based upon one result, one effort and one real success over a couple decades? I believe that questions need to be asked, then answers sought, and behaviors undertaken that will lead to positive long-term results.
Today, the ability of an individual to survive when they make a choice to go against the majority opinion, because they think it to be the right thing to do, makes the present period the most special time to be alive in human history. In fact, at no time in human history have individual rights as practiced in America held such a position of power over the society. As much as I believe in this benefit of modern behavior, I believe society has allowed the rights of the individual to go to far, but that is a different topic for a different forum. For our purposes here, in order to make each of our actions work, we must stop a feel good mentality of the moment, if that’s in reality all it really is, and always be looking for the best way to accomplish the task at hand. This means simply to evaluate what has taken place, whether or not someone’s feelings get hurt, and then make a decision or undertake action based upon this honest evaluation. Few in authority are going about it this way, not parents, certainly not our educational system, not politicians from either one of the two major parties, and therefore not Government. If this is really the right process to improving our present situation, long term measurement and honest evaluation, and I believe it is, then guess whose left to get it done.
Is the seeking of solutions by cheating, or having no plan of action other than the excuse that those who cheat make success impossible, any kind of answer? I know I can’t and won’t accept either. I believe that the concept of the Olympiad is the answer to both points of view. I define an Olympiad as a period of time tied to a plan of real work to have swimmers reach full potential without a little help from their friends.
What do performance-enhancing drugs really do? They allow for quicker and therefore easier development of a person’s physical potential. In all probability there are some major consequences to there use such as cancer, organ damage, shorten life span, deformed babies, but for me, as if this wasn’t bad enough, what is worst of all, is that someone has to know that they aren’t winning by and through fair and honest growth of a human being. Creatin is a pretty good example. There are now four studies that indicate an increase risk of cancer in its excessive use. The French, the first to use this crap, finally were the first to issue the official warning. Why the hell did many Americans go ahead and use it? I’ll be glad and tell you why, in case you wanted to know, we thought it made our swimmers stronger, easier! Not just stronger, but the key to modem coaching philosophy and methodology, easier! That’s not what sport is suppose to be about.
I see as a truth of training human beings, that there is a limit to what a person can do. Once full potential is a pinnacle that can’t be surpassed. To swim faster is to take the body into physiological areas that risk the end of life. I believe we all have different limits, but as we approached these individual potentials, we are truly in pain zones that very few ever reach. Death and birth are both total body experiences. So is a maximum effort if any of us ever to reach our full potential.
Most of you in this room have seen the movie about the walk-on football player at Notre Dame called RUDY. Most of you came away from the movie moved by just how tough he had to be and moved by his determination to reach out and attain honor. It was a true story, a feel good about the human race story, and for Hollywood, for a change, a very good sport story. But what did he do that our swimmers don’t outdo on a daily basis. I believe I have a unique experience here, as my son played college ball as one of those used to practice against. Being hit is really over-rated as a truth to manhood. Getting up after being hit, again and again is a better measure, but you want to know what shows real ability to over-come and carry on, just look at your sport, swimming.
We train at Santa Clara like we race and we therefore learn to race like we train. I’ve seen ten second heart rates on distance swimmers in the mid-thirties and sprinters in the forties. Folks, that’s a heart rate of between two hundred and two hundred and fifty while we are racing and training. That is real work and it causes huge increases in lactic acid, which is a pretty good measure of hurt. A guy on the street isn’t in good enough condition to even approach these levels. You have to have trained consistently at these levels to get there and maintain yourself there. It forces the brain to accept these physical efforts, and the brain doesn’t accept this with grace. The brain will fight you every step you take on your trip down this road forcing you to ignore its very good advice. At each increase in speed the need for more power output starts to go off the chart right along with huge increases in Lactate-acid, and the brain knows immediately that it’s in distress and that it’s time to back down and rest. Believe me when I tell you your brain is asking, “What are you trying to do to me, kill me?” And philosophically, that is actually what you are forcing your body into approaching.
At two hundred plus beats per minute, at pain or lactate levels as high as have been measured, you are approaching a total body experience, death. That’s why the brain is doing everything it can to shut the body down. Here you are, in either workout or the race, with meters left to go, with chest pain, blurred vision, no air and the person you have pledged to beat right with you. Your heart can’t beat any faster without going into arrhythmia, the pain borders on the absolute, and to continue to press on instead of quitting is to push yourself beyond where you are meant to go. So each extra movement without quitting is really approaching, dieing. Yes, that’s right, dieing. Why do you think that someone with my experience can tell you truthfully that he’s seen only a few really great races? I didn’t say swims; I said races! Almost always one person, always the one who has lived in that zone without quitting the most often, decides to win while the other person listens to his brain and accepts second. I truly believe this and why I tell you that all training and racing is mental.
Damn, I’ve always heard this guy Jochums was nuts! Can you believe he believes that our children should risk dieing each and everyday? His workouts must really be viscous things to experience and watch.
Well, if that thought even crossed your mind, you would truly be surprised watching one of my workouts. My swimmers anticipated the opportunities provided by the workouts with an eagerness and willingness. This is because they accept the price that goes with that which they’re trying to accomplish. I’ve sold them and they have come to accept the process as what is required for their dream to have a chance. They understand just whose trip this is. Let me read a quote that says it way better than I can ever say it:
Each and every day you know that somewhere in that evening’s main set, he (pain personified), will be waiting for you looming. Go after him. Look him right in the eyes, and don’t back down. Do not be fooled by the look on his face that he has ‘your number’ – it’s a facade. He’s a paper tiger. Blow right through him. You’ll find that within 150 to 300 yards you’ve driven through to the ‘other side’ for that day, and will finish the set with a great ‘second wind’, and an awesome feeling found in that unique setting. He’ll be waiting for you tomorrow. You’ll have to call his bluff again, but it gets easier and easier everyday, as long as it’s in succession. Eventually it will become a habit, a way of life, to where it’s so ‘second nature’ that you don’t think about it in school, or driving to a workout, or on the kick set. That is when you will be a champion – when you’ve conquered yourself to that degree!
I knew this was one of my swimmer’s the minute I read the quote. The kick set leading to the testing set, leading to the feeling of accomplishment is what my workouts are all about. This is a statement made to Chuck Warner during his research for his book. It’s Tim Shaw speaking, and like many of those who swim or have swum for me, he tells it honestly and better than I do. That’s because it was his trip and I was only there to help.
I’m willing to bet the ranch that most of you would be shocked by the amount of laugher, the teasing, the good will, the good time, and the pride that my swimmers experience on a daily basis. Shaw, DiCarlo, and Wilkens all had as their talent the ability to out work others, that is why they have Olympic medals. Bruce Fumiss had talent and Tim Shaw to make him honest, and he had enough pride to make himself work so his talent resulted in his two gold medals. They were all fun to work with. They all had fun swimming for me. Talk to any of them and they will quickly get around to telling what I call Jochums stories. But hey, all my swimmers tell Jochums stories! Really listen to these stories, all exaggerations by the way, and you will hear the self-pride they have about what they have accomplished. Marines all bitch about their Drill Instructors and my swimmers all bitch by telling Jochums stories. Bitching is bragging.
Now I ask you, was Rudy ever tougher or more special than my kids. He got hit over and over again, he got up over and over again, but did he really live at the level I gave my young people the chance to live at. To play football you got to be able to hit and be hit. That doesn’t take a special brain or special intelligence. Anybody can be a football player. Well it doesn’t take a special brain or intelligence to be a swimmer either. Anybody can be a swimmer. It helps in both to have the body, the feel, and the natural ability, and to a high degree this does put limits on how far you can go in either endeavor. But there are exceptions and in each case, those who have overcome their liabilities have had two things in common. First, they have the ability to believe in a dream, and secondly, the determination to see that nothing is allowed to block their fulfilling of their dream. Coaches don’t make such decisions; they merely help the person who has made the decision get to where he’s going.
It’s my strong belief that your first job in coaching is to get your swimmers to dream big. In fact, it’s my opinion, that the biggest difference between the “old days” and the present is that there were more dream sellers in the past than there are today. When Tim broke the world record in the four hundred meter freestyle by over four seconds in 1974, I watched over a dozen coaches start to sell their swimmers that they could beat that record. Today, all of us seem to have a desire to see Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett swim their races and marvel at how good they are! Well, I learned in 1975, and I know it to be the truth through real experience, that once a time has been accomplished, the blue print has been shown to the world, and that time no matter how fast, can and should be at the very least approachable. Breaking an existing record is going into, “Star trek” territory, a place no one has ever dared to go before. Tying a record is really nothing more than visiting a place that another has already visited and has given you direction on how to get there.
It seems, at least in Men’s distance freestyle the Australians are the only one not being spectators. It’s well past time for American swimming to get out of the stands, back on the deck, and get back to working at being, at the very minimum, competitive in all events, including distance freestyle.
It’s for these reasons that I believe the ancient Greek concept of the Olympiad should be considered as a solution for our current problem. We need to see training as a process that we adhere to over a period of time, years not days or weeks. The process gets you to where you want to go. There is a right way! That doesn’t mean that there is only one method, theory, or program of training that will get you there, but it does speak to ethical and moral righteousness of the process you use in your program to get there.
You know why I know I’m right about this? Because I’ve watched all my swimmers who live the process honor others who through their performances prove they also live within the process, with respect and not jealousy. This is a real win, when your teammates and competitors alike award you with recognition because they understand the effort you put forth to achieve a result. This is why place can actually be the least important element of the race. This is why you see teammates get excited at great times out of people who don’t score in meets. It’s because they understand just how special that performance is for that person.
Parents who selflessly and righteously only really care about their own child, and swimmer and coaches who through either choice or situation don’t partake in a process that demands truth daily is where jealousy originates. All you can do about jealous parents is educate and help them see the long-term design of the program. If they can’t or won’t buy into your training philosophy, get rid of them, as they will be a problem that will affect you and your program for as long as they are with you. With swimmers and coaches, we need to change their perspective, their situation, or their sport. Those who want to swim or coach for recreation (it has to be for fun), believe sport to be for social development (team is for every/anyone), or think sport is good for character development, have summer leagues and high school seasons to participate in.
I see nothing wrong with this as long as they don’t buy the belief that they are truly doing something with real benefit to the development of the participants. What they are really doing is creating a play situation and play, by definition, is a waste of time. It’s make-believe, of no value, and in every case that’s play’s value. There is an important place for play in everyone’s life. It can and probably should be a small part of every program, just not the program.
What bothers me about the above class of coaches is that all to many of them believe they are truly doing something relevant for the sport and those who they work with. It’s from this group that those who cry or cheat to win come from. Such coaches to be competitive will look for a short cut, or to my way of thinking, believe popularity and being their swimmers buddy is really what the job is all about. The reality is that they’re not willing or just to lazy to pay the price of the ticket for success. Many will tell you just how cutting edge they are. They have discovered a smarter and easier way. Many have even sold themselves their own lies to the point they have come to believe them. Believe me, when anyone buys their own lies, their ethics and moral standings disappear. The end result is the only thing that has meaning, to hell with anything else. Such people will and do cheat.
I would hope that no one in this room is so naive as to believe this doesn’t happen here in America. It does, and we are every bit as dirty as is the rest of the world, and in some cases at a pretty high level. America has had some pretty high level organizations that have turned a blind eye to positive drug tests if given the time to get it cleaned up prior to international competition. My guess here is that these high powered organizations, just as those who cheat, see the sport they administer, as nothing more than a result. What happens to the participant has no meaning other than winning. Something is very sad and very wrong about any society when it gets to this level. Please see this as a warning to American society, for it’s at the very least, that!
What a wasted opportunity for all involved. There is nothing you can do with drugs that you can’t do without them, if given the time. If we all would accept the Olympiad as the time basis that we work with we can beat the cheaters, every time. Yes, you have got to have a plan. You have got to go to work everyday. You have to have a brain that you must use all the time. But do it the right way and you end up with that special high when you see daily growth and pride that goes with that growth from day to day, month to month, year to year. Swimming is a sum total experience just as life is a sum total experience.
Drug usage is either an escape or a crutch. They don’t help the brain realize full potential, no matter what Timothy Leary had to say to all the children of the sixty’s. Drugs fool the total system. They may allow for faster recovery from workout to workout, but at the same time they’re making the brain dependent upon their use. They control rather than produce self-awareness, self-reliance, or any of the other self-words. They create a need and not an understanding of the body by the individual.
The uses of diet supplements have become in way to many cases a similar problem. When their use creates a need to test weekly or bi-weekly to maintain legal substance levels so that the participant will not test positive, is there really any difference? Folks, there are American programs that participate in this practice. Please, if there really is a difference in how you take your drugs, someone explain it to me. One way is to cheat and the other way is through natural selection? Sorry, I just don’t buy any of this! Cheating is cheating, and if this isn’t politically correct to be this blunt about it, so be it. It’s just plain wrong and in my opinion criminal!
Training, if well thought out gets the swimmer to the same performance level. Of course, you have to have a well thought out procedure to have this happen. You and your swimmer will not depend upon a shot or a pill, but on a process. A process that takes an Olympiad or two to reach potential, has more to do with living life than merely chasing a medal, and makes the participant undefeatable.
I didn’t say nor will I ever say you can’t lose a race. Anyone on any given day can be beaten, but being beaten and defeated need not be the same thing. Anyone who participates in the process that has all the elements required for that person to reach toward full potential, whom participates daily with full effort to reach out toward their potential will come to learn about themselves. Such a person, through such preparation and effort, will have in every real sense won through self-realization. Such a person may get beaten, but never be defeated. This is a fact of life and is really just that simple. Such a person will make a difference with their life.
A program isn’t how far you go but rather how you do what you do. A coach with their swimmer as partner should be the program. He/she should know what their workouts are accomplishing each and everyday. You must have some idea how to measure what is taking place and then make educated adjustments as required to get required power production and recovery into your system. In fact, it’s this blend of power and recovery that should be your training program. If properly implemented, you can produce swimmers with more reserves than those who use drugs. The body through natural means will reach all the high levels of resources without the need for enhancers that show up in positive tests. What’s better, you as a coach can create a mental advantage over those who cheat because the effort is a total mental and physical one.
Drugs really are nothing more than a catalytic substance (agent serving for change or adjustment) that will affect bodily function both when used and when withdrawn from the system. The psychological advantage of not having to deal with withdrawal should by itself be enough to recommend against the use of drugs. To say nothing of the advantage of self-awareness and self-knowledge that is the result of doing it the right way.
In fact, to my way of thinking, all the advantages are on the side of the honest practitioner. Given enough time, in a well-designed program that understands the relationship between power and recovery, makes the participant the leader in the process, you can reach and maintain a level every bit as high as those who use drugs. A proper program allows the body to adapt to work outputs as fast and as often as the cheaters. A proper program offers full potential attainment that can be maintained at competition because it’s self-induced, not drug induced. It doesn’t happen in three months, but over an Olympiad of effort you have the advantage over the cheater.
“Jochums, are you just totally out to lunch?” Don’t you understand that the new drugs have to be detected within hours of usage or the user gets away with their use. They can be taken the morning of competition, between heats and finals, and by the time of testing become undetectable.
So what? My swimmers have trained the body to adapt between heats and finals just as fast as the cheater. That’s what I’ve designed my program to do for those who swim for me. The program is designed workout-to-workout, week-to-week, month-to-month, year-to-year, and Olympiad-to-Olympiad to accomplish exactly the ability to get the swimmer to this point.
I really don’t care what others are doing. I only care what I’m doing. We’re going to beat you! If we can’t beat you, and that could only be if you’re a lot better than we are, we’re going to hurt you. Personally, I get off either way. We, my lead partner, the swimmer, took this trip with no guarantees about anything other than a desire to reach full potential. The real goal is to end up with no regrets. I don’t want to hear about “only if,” “if I’d only,” or “if I’d only known!” I’m really not interested and folks, those at the party when you reach forty or older don’t care either. This is a world that only cares about what you are doing today, not something you failed at years ago. Even the most important people in the world to you, your own children, don’t learn from your mistakes, only from their own mistakes. The only chance you have with them is that they might pay attention to the reasons for a few of your successes.
Maybe, most importantly, do it the honest and fair way and you will have no regrets. What do coaches who cheat tell themselves if their swimmer wins? Who accomplished what? What do you do if twenty to thirty years from now some of your swimmers start dropping dead? Was being cutting edge really worth it? If it happens to my swimmers, it isn’t due to something I gave them or a chance I took when I worked with them. The pain I will feel can be lived with, the guilt I would feel if we had used drugs, I couldn’t! Our goal this last Trial’ s was for each of our swimmers to have left nothing on the table and be proud of their effort no matter the result in the attempt to make the team. I believe we achieved this!
Listen, here we are in New Orleans, a city of great music, food and drink. Hopefully you’re here not only to have a great time but also to improve your professional knowledge. I believe each of you need to ask, answer, and then act on a series of questions. The first, I hope, after this talk this morning has something to do with what this throw back, hard-ass, old coach has had to say. After you have given this some real thought, you must decide which workshops and talks will be most beneficial to your base of knowledge that will help just not you but your swimmers. A few of the questions might include, but wouldn’t be limited to the following:
Do I really know how my program works?
Is this really a program designed by me or am I merely repeating what was done to me?
Is today’s workout understood by me or is it one that sounded great at the ASCA Convention?
Is this really the best program for my swimmers?
Is this really what I want to do for a living?
Am I making a difference in this world with my life?
How do I do what I really want to do?
Am I really getting the job done?
I have answers to all these questions. Do you? I have looked at this program offered by the American Swimming Coaches Associations at this convention and know exactly what talks I’m going to sit in on. Do you? Believe me, no one is planning to have a better time here in New Orleans than I’m planning to have. But I also plan to search out answers to questions that will help me as a professional while I’m busy having a great time. You know, use my time to learn a thing or two, and then waste some time playing.
John Bitter, the associate head coach at Santa Clara Swim Club, made a basic point to me when we discussed what I was planning to do with this talk. He seems to believe that my very simple and basic training process is actually very complex because of the constant measurements that take place not just weekly, monthly, and yearly, but from set to set each day. Well, the truth of the matter is that I designed my training system to be very simple. For me, a person with some intelligence, I designed the program so it would be easy for me to measure and understand the result of what I was doing. With it, I know where my swimmers are, how much power work will still be positive, and how much recovery I need to do so I can get back to the power work. What’s most important is that my swimmers can also measure progress and understand what’s going on. Can you imagine, swimmers who become students of that what your doing to them. Can you believe that the biggest problem with their workout recommendations, are that they’re too hard. Not just too hard, way too hard! Wouldn’t you like to have such a problem.
You want to swim and be good in my program, a decision is required. For this dastardly deed, I’m called a throw back. In this period, when no one is responsible for any personal action, others are always the cause of such actions, and individual rights have become so misunderstood that people have come to believe they have no behavioral limits; I take a huge risk in club swimming by asking, demanding, and enforcing dedication to a task. Not the task I choose, but the task the swimmer chooses and then informs me of. Actions do have repercussion. Everything you do has a cost that goes with it, and that cost is to you and you alone. I see it as my job to make this fundamental a truth!
I take an even bigger risk when I cross over from throw back to hard-ass by consistently demanding that they live up to their commitments. I don’t tell them what to think, what to say, what to commit to, but once they tell me they are committed to the task, I hold their words up to them. (You ever heard the saying: “eating your own words.”) It’s never enough with me to talk the talk; I demand they walk their talk. You don’t like the way I do it; you don’t like what you said to come back and bite you in the butt, then don’t say it. You don’t want the attention that I give to your commitment, then don’t commit. I won’t say another word to you other than: “hello,” “goodnight,” “how’s it hanging,” etc… and be more than happy to collect your due payments. I call such people dollar swimmers.
Coach Bitter pointed out that what we demand results in undertaking a huge risk because not many institutions in this modern society of ours make such demands on youth. I agree with him and am saddened by this. What a concept! Each one of you is responsible and will be held responsible for your actions and words. How can’t this be right and fair? When did excuse making become the American way? AND, how fast can we (coaches) get this disgraceful trend reversed. I really truly don’t see anyone but a few of us doing this.
I believe the concepts I have spoken to you about today are at the least worthy of your thoughts. I have said often that I should have been a preacher and just in case you haven’t been paying attention, this hasn’t been a speech, its been a sermon. This talk for me is successful because I’ve gotten to speak out on an issue I believe in. For me it would be great if I’ve gotten some of you to give this some real thought. It would be better if I have motivated some of you to try that which I have been preaching to you about. My ego wants all of you to agree with what I’ve had to say and then act upon it, but that won’t happen. That’s to bad, because the trip is worth it, for both you and your swimmers. If everyone in this room would simply just act upon one issue I have presented here, making their swimmers responsible for their words and actions, we swim coaches would create positive change for American society over-night.
I’m sixty years old, started coaching at nineteen years of age, was out of the sport for seven years, and been back now for seven years. Sixty years of living, thirty-four years as a coach at every level there is, and been through my mid-life crisis about seven time’s. The sport has been very good to my family and me and this talk is designed to give something back. In fact, this whole second time around as a coach is an attempt to give something back to this sport that I love with a passion. Being a coach or a swimmer, if approached in the right way, for the right reasons, can along with your family, be a most rewarding experience. Just like everything else in your existence, that is entirely up to each of you.
Please, become part of programs that do for youth what to many of our other modem institutions are failing to do on all to many occasions. You can never reach potential by aiming low. Accidents don’t get you there, hard work gets you there. Isn’t it amazing how the more you prepare, the harder you work, the luckier you get. It’s my experience that luck in reality is nothing more than preparation running head on into opportunity.
The truth is that fate doesn’t determine a thing. The only promise you come into this world with is that you’re going to eventually depart it. In my opinion, you have control of your life from the age you leave home until the day you die. What happens between is up to you. Unless you have reached high enough, worked hard enough, accepted the good along with the bad as nothing more than experiences to be dealt with, you have
been less than you could be. Hopefully none of us wishes this for those we care for or our self. If you have been less than you should be, by your own standards, then do something about it, starting today. If you’re already where you want to be, just keep yourself open to getting better. You can turn anything around or continue to improve as long as you can take a breath.
Three credos that I have tried to live by are:
Be the best you can be!
Just do it!
What is, is!
The first two have been used by other American organizations in their advertisements, but I used them before those advertisements for the Army and Nike campaigns started. The last one I got from Coach Ray Buzzard, the retired swim coach at Tennessee, a long time ago. This is the one my wife absolutely hates, drives her crazy, and I use to answer almost everyone of her why questions,
I think that these three quotes sum up this talk quite well. Coaching is all about helping people grow as human beings. It’s not nor should it ever be only about first place. Marathon runners have a better perspective about this than most. They understand there is only one first place but that can’t mean that all the rest of those who participate in the race, are losers. They believe that all who finish are winners. I agree!!! Maybe reaching one’s full potential, the achievement of being the best you can be on the day you want to be the best, is what life is really all about. If it’s tied to striving to be first, that in and of itself makes for something special because you aimed high!
You can’t get to this level by cheating because place really isn’t the most important thing in your travels to this pinnacle experience. You just have to do it, every workout, everyday, every week, every month, every Olympiad until you remove yourself from the contest. It’s really just that simple. That’s your job as a coach. To motivate a human being to do it and providing that person with a program that will allow for full potential development. It’s a partnership of two, with the key always the person being coached, but a partnership of one helping the other to realize their dream. It’s a bond that will last for a lifetime.
Finally, you can go to school on all that happens, good and bad, to you, but you can’t dwell on the moment ever at the expense of the next minute. What is, is, and only by moving forward do we get anything done. A win is a win, and becomes history as you touch the wall. This is the same for a loss. Win or lose, tomorrow is on the way with no guarantees because of today or yesterday. All the what’s, why’s, and maybes don’t change anything unless you’re moving forward as you ask these questions, seeking information that has been gained from the experience.
It’s well past time for American swimming to stop complaining, whining, and lying to itself. It’s time to get back to work, back to an Olympiad of work. You want to stick it to the cheaters, do it this way! Yes, you’ve got to be smarter, develop a long-term plan that you sell to those who swim for you. But, what do you really want the experience to be for your swimmer? Do you want your product to always look for the easy way, or a person who understands that results are tied to a span of time and a personal commitment that has a cost. Such an experience results in a person who knows who they are. Can you really do better than this? Can it ever be better than this?
I believe Vince Lombardi, the late great Greenbay Packer Football Coach said it best:
Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all-the-time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do things right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing…
Every time a football player goes out to ply his trade he’s got to play from the ground up – from the soles of feet right up to his head. Every inch of him has to play. Some guys play with their heads. That’s OK. You got to be smart to be no. 1 in any business. But more important, you’ve got to play with your heart – with every fiber of your body. If your lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he’s never going to come off the field second.
Running a football team is no different from running any other kind of organization – an army, a political party, a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win – to beat the other guy. Maybe this sounds hard and cruel. I don’t think it is.
It’s a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That’s why they’re there – to compete. They know the rules and the objectives when they get in the game. The objective is to win – fairly, squarely, decently, by the rules – but to win.
And in truth, I’ve never know a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for, needs discipline and the harsh reality of head-to-head combat.
I don’t say these things because I believe in the “brute” nature of man or that man must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour – his greatest fulfilment to all that he hold dear – is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.
I appreciate your time in listening to what I’ve had to say. Thank You!