Be the Best You Can Be by Bob Steele (2007)


Introduction by Coach Bill Rose: As one of the Board of Directors I am given the pleasure to introduce different people along the way. Today I have the great honor to introduce Bob Steele. As you probably read in the booklet, he has been coaching for over 45 years. I was able to see him when I first started. He has been a mentor to a lot of different coaches throughout the years. He doesn’t know it, but I consider him one of my mentors as well. Bob is one of the most fun people you will ever meet. Early on I think Bob decided that having fun is what coaching can be all about. Bob enjoys the experience and his swimmers enjoy the experience. I can tell you that through the year and through this afternoon, you are going to find out what kind of person he really is. I am very glad to introduce him. Bob is a real story teller. He has told me so many stories and today I know you will enjoy Bob and all the stories he will tell. His stories are always rewarding and exciting. I now turn the floor over to Coach Bob Steele.

First of all I would like to say that this talk was not part of the program. I did this talk in Houston when John Collins couldn’t catch a flight because of weather and I happened to have this talk on my computer and was able to fill in and have now given it to 56 teams on behalf of USA Swimming. Similarly, I am going to give it today to North Coast Aquatics and their coaches. Their Head Coach, Jeff Peace, and 20 of his swimmers are here and more will join us when they get out of school.

As you know, ASCA has gone green. I planned on giving you an outline with all the stories and everything in it so you could make notes, but we are sophisticated now so that is going to be online. You can make notes today or you can just buy the tape. With the tape you could devote the first ten minutes of each practice during the week to: go through the introduction (Monday); the skills (Tuesday); fitness (Wednesday); motivation (Thursday); the commitment part (Friday) and then share and the coach’s exam on Saturday. This is a talk that each coach can give your team or you can buy the tape and that way have me give the talk for you. It is entitled “Be the Best That You Can Be”.

A lot of swimmers like to be the best that they can be. They like to set records. How many of you would like to set a record? (No response from the swimmers) Come on group; you have to join me. We have to work together to make this talk work well. This is a team effort. Okay, so you would like to set a record. Everybody would like to set a record. Not everybody can be like Brendan Hansen and set a world record, but everybody can be the best that they can be. In athletic performance and in athletic success, regardless of the sport, there are three things that determine how successful you are going to be. The first one is skills. In swimming, skills include good strokes, starts, turns and finishes. It is really a simple sport. The next thing is fitness. Fitness comes from strength, flexibility and power. The third area is motivation. Motivation comes from coaches, teammates, opponents, family and friends. When all those things fit together, perhaps you can make a USA swimming camp program in Colorado Springs or make a USA National team and even represent the United States in the Olympic Games.

Every swimmer has strengths and weaknesses. How many people here swim the individual medley? (Low response from the swimmers) Not enough. How many people here have a weakness in the individual medley? How many have a weakness called “breaststroke”? (Many hands go up) There we go; I got the right group. You better get to work. I had a guy whose best time in the IM was 1:51 with a breaststroke split of 34 or 35. He worked breaststroke at every morning practice for the whole year. At the end of the season he had a breaststroke split of 30 and went 1:47 plus for his IM. That is an example of what you can do if you work on improving your weaknesses. Look at Ian Crocker’s start. He has worked a lot on starts and look where he comes up on the first stroke. You are going to see that with several swimmers here.

Balance is important. You have to balance skill and fitness and motivation to be the best that you can be. The greatest athlete ever, in my opinion, was Michael Jordan. He was the NBA Player of the Year on offense and defense. He tried baseball for two years. He had more than enough skill. Excuse me. He had more than enough fitness to play baseball. Baseball fitness is being able to spit in your glove and holler. He had more than enough motivation. His dad had just died and his dad really wanted him to be a baseball player. He just couldn’t hit the ball. He lacked enough skill, so he went back to basketball. Mark Spitz did the same thing. We tested Mark Spitz when at age 40 he tried to make a comeback. He had the same skills at age 40, his feel for the water that he had at age 22, but he didn’t have the motivation and he didn’t have the fitness.

Those are things that you need to work on. In the early season, 90% of what you do is working on skills and on fitness. Motivation comes from getting up in the morning and making sure that you are swimming at the right speed at practice. That is all it takes. Toward the end of the season, 90% of what you do is dependent upon motivation. How many of you have been in a meet and swum a great time and the first thing you thought was “I could have gone faster”? Yes, everybody has had that happen because you were on automatic pilot and everything just flowed.

Let’s take a closer look at skills now. As I said, skills are starts, strokes, turns and finishes. Jonty Skinner, who has coached at Alabama and as our National Team Director, analyzed the 50 free of Angel Martino (whose world record was 25 seconds) and another female teammate whose best time was 28 seconds; three seconds difference. What Skinner found in looking at all the traits in a 50 free was that Angel broke out one yard further out; she turned over 3/100’s of a second faster per stroke and she pushed back three inches further on each stroke. How many of you would like to go 3 seconds faster in a 50? Think about it: a good start, quicker turnover and slightly longer stroke. If you want to do that, you have to be coachable. If you will not let yourself be coached, it is a lost cause. You will never be the best that you can be if you don’t listen to your coach and try to understand what he/she wants you to do. Is this a good streamline position (shows image)? Come on gang. You have to make a commitment. Be a risk taker. (Again, urging swimmer participation). You are right. It is not good streamlining. Is this a good streamline position? This is Michael Phelps. In his 200 meter free world record swim he went 13 ¼ meters under water on the last push-off. His opponent had taken three strokes before Phelps started swimming. In visiting 56 teams to do clinics, I see that as a real weakness with young people. They do not force themselves to stay down and streamline well.

Here are the important words in learning skills. The first word is “try”. If you try new things you will find out what works. If you do not try new things, you will not find out what might help you. If what you are working on doesn’t help, you can always go back and be the swimmer you were before, but try new things. Ask your coach if what you are doing is right. How many of you have done that? Not enough hands. They should shoot up right away. The next word is to “imitate” really good people. Do not imitate somebody that is slower than you just because they are doing something that looks cool. Make sure you imitate really good people and then make sure you have four drills for all five strokes. In IM order, what are the five strokes? Yes, under water. Let’s give Jessie a big hand. No, no, no, no – with me you do not give a big hand like that. This is a big hand (one big clap in unison). It doesn’t take as much time. Give Jessie a big hand. Okay, so you are going to listen to your coach. You are going to try new things.

This is what I call “hugging grandma butterfly.” This is not good. What you need to do is “head butt grandma.” In butterfly your head goes in the water before what? The answer is before your hands. Is this girl getting a breath of air? Sure she is. There is a trough of air right underneath that bow wave. Here is a great imitator, Caroline Bruce. Caroline Bruce went to the 2004 Olympic Trials seeded about 8th. She swam the prelims and finished 7th. She was a great imitator. Her brother and her sister were nationally ranked and National Team members in the breaststroke; it just kind of fell in the family. But anyway, Caroline swam the finals of the 200 breaststroke and had a lifetime best at the one hundred along the way. She swam in lane one and looked up at the clock and saw a number two after her name and she said, “Why is there a two after my name?” I swam in lane 1” and then she realized that she made the team and put her head in the gutter and bawled. Caroline Bruce is a great imitator.

You need to have four drills for each of the five strokes. You need to work with your coach on what those drills might be so when it is time to do drills as part of a training routine and you are going to do four drills by 25 for ten 100’s drill, you know the drills that help you most. You need to know your best drills, not just the standard drills. Also, in developing skills, coaches try to teach by the whole method and if you can’t pick it up, they will break things down. Moms and dads don’t understand, but in order for you to do a freestyle turn, you have got to do 28 things. Moms and dads are experts on turning so if you need help on your turn, go to your mom or dad because they know you came in behind and went out ahead. They know you came in ahead and you went out behind or that you went in even and stayed there. Anytime you need turning help, ask mom or dad, but make sure they realize that there are 28 things in a turn.

These are some of the Boomer (referring to Bill Boomer) balance drills that help with developing the parts. These words are really important in developing skills: presser-receptive and proprioceptive. Proprioceptive refers to knowing where your hand is without having to look at it. The only way you can develop it is with a lot of swimming. You have to swim far, mornings and afternoons, never missing practice. You have to swim far to develop a knowledge of where your hand is without having to look at it. The other word is presser-receptive which refers to anchoring your hand in the water. If I am swimming freestyle down the pool, how many think that my hand is going to move backwards through the water as I do my freestyle pull? Raise your hand if you think my hand moves backwards. How many say my hand stays in one place? How many say anything? Come on gang. (Again, urging participation) Raise your hand if my hand moves backwards as I move through the water. How many of you think that my hand stays in one place? You are all smart. My hand stays in one place. What would happen if my hand moved backwards through the water? I would stay in one place. Is there anybody here that wants to get slower? Of course not, so what you are trying to do is place the hand in the water, anchor it in the water, make all those movements your coach wants you to make and have the hand come out ahead of where it went in. That is presser-receptive sense. You want the ability to hold the water and have your hand come out ahead of where it went in.

This guy is trying to figure out where his nose is. This girl doesn’t know where her hand is. Who is this? It is Amanda Beard. Amanda Beard swam the 200 breaststroke and set a world record in 2:22. On her first 50 of that 200 she took 17 strokes, then 18 the second 50, 19 the third 50 and 20 the last 50. She has great presser-receptive sense. Her foot moves around her ankles like your hand moves around your wrist. Overcorrection is important. If a backstroker is putting her hand into the water in one spot and the coach wants the hand to enter in a different spot, you have to overcorrect beyond that. If a freestyler is crossing over and the coach wants the hand under the body, you have to overcorrect by making it feel wide. It has to feel weird, strange, different, crazy or unusual for a week before it starts to become automatic. Experimenting with what you are going to do with new strokes and trying new things takes a week to take hold. It has to feel weird, strange, different, crazy or unusual for a week in order for it to be right. What is the first thing out of the water in the backstroke recovery? Correct, the shoulder. Jeff, they are well-schooled. Is there a breathing pattern in backstroke? Yes, there is a pattern. Reinforcement is important. It comes from coaches. It is a high five. It is giving a thumb up. But if you really want swimming reinforcement, buy your coach a flashlight. When you are doing it right, the light is on. When you are doing it wrong, the light is off. I have said this to teams and the next day the coaches received six and seven flashlights. It has to be on automatic pilot so you do not think, but just swim. What is that area that we just talked about? Presser-receptive is one segment. There are three things. What is the first one? Thank you coach, we are going to put him on the North Coast Team. You want to make sure that you are on automatic pilot and you are working on skills.

The next area is fitness. Fitness involves flexibility, power, endurance and recovery. Your coaches give you a training routine and they are going to vary the amount of rest and how far you swim on each set that you do. When does the training effect occur for the training you did? Between the swims, at the end of the practice, at the end of the set, at home when you are asleep? Yes, the effect occurs at home when you are asleep. That is why 8 hours of sleep might be beneficial so the training effect can take place. Now think about the systems of your body that you studied in school. What are some of the systems of the body that are involved in swimming, systems that your coaches are challenging when you come to practice? Yes, the respiratory system; your lungs. You might have a lung capacity or a surface area of 1600 sq. ft. and your coach could improve it to 2300 sq. ft. What are some other systems? Another is the muscular system. What else? Yes, the circulatory system. What system is the one everybody thinks about right away? The digestive system; no, your moms are in charge of the digestive system. Your mom oversees that but your coach is a great resource if you need some nutrition information. What is the system I am looking for? Yes, the neurological system. Anybody here ever been on a plateau? Okay, if you have been on a plateau or you are on a plateau, switch to another stroke and sometimes you will rejuvenate the nervous system. Come on, what are we doing here now that involves another system? Yes, the cardiovascular system; thank you. That is the big one. You need to challenge the cardiovascular system so that you create more capillaries to feed your muscles more oxygen, nutrients and food. You have a choice. You can be a Volkswagen or a Corvette. You can miss practice and you can swim at the wrong speeds. If you do that you are a slow Volkswagen. Or you can choose to be a Corvette and be ready to race. Look at this muscular system (Michael Phelps). When Michael Phelps set his first world record I went up to Murray Stephens, one of his coaches, to congratulate him. Coach Stephens said, “That is what happens when you never miss practice in 4 years” and he trained 7 days a week. That is what it takes for you to be the best that you can be.

If you go to the National Championships you can have your ear pricked and blood drawn as soon as you finish your race to determine how long your warm-down has to be, in order to get the lactate out of your system so that you are ready for your next race. Most teams do not warm-down enough in practice. The coach says do a 300 or do a 500 and it is often inchy-pinchy grab time. You need to do a Mission Viejo warm-down. In one lane, three swimmers lead side by side, three swimmers are second and three are third. The coach says, “We are doing a 400” and they swim the 400 following each other. The first group turns and they have to turn and come back out all the way underneath the six people that are following and just keep going. Everybody gets in the whole 600 or whatever the warm-down is. It is important for you to warm-down so you are ready for the next practice. The other thing that is neat about the National Championships is a thing called race analysis where 30 traits for your race are plugged into a computer. If you look at that with your coach at the end of a race, you not only know how you did and what you need to improve, but you know what your opponents did and how they swim their races. You can look at Olympians. All the coaches here can go on the (USA Swimming) website and look at Olympians and find out how they swim their races. You can see what Michael Phelps does under water. It is enlightening. These are the systems of the body that Jeff is trying to train. Jeff creates a training plan which cycles through these things. You are going to cycle through endurance, speed, and sprint work by the day, maybe two or three of these in a practice. You will cycle through these things in a day and you will cycle through these in a week, month, season and a year and in a four year period called a quadrennial. You need to swim at the right speeds to challenge those systems.

What is the word from Mary Poppins that everybody knows? Everybody knows that word, but do not go into Jeff and say, Jeff, how about some sprint training? Say Jeff, how about some adenosine triphosphate phosphocreatin training (ATP-PC Training)? Go ahead, say it with me: adenosine triphosphate phosphocreatin. That is really fast swimming. It only lasts for 15, 20 or 30 seconds. How many breaths are there in a 50 free? Correct, zero, you are with it. This is a well-schooled team. Here is Tara Kirk, the world record holder in the 50 and 100 breaststrokes at one time. In high school she swam the 1650 breaststroke in meets. She was an early seed. Here is Ian Crocker, the World Record in the 100 fly. In high school he was trained as a distance swimmer. He went a 1:49 for the 200 meter free in high school and now he holds the world record in the 100 fly. Here is Tom Jaeger. Tom Jaeger never went to a weekend club meet where he didn’t try to swim every event in the program. He held the world record in the 50. These are great swimmers who paid great prices. This is Larsen Jensen. Larsen Jensen swam in Bakersfield, California. He swam in our pool and would come in on Sunday with his coach Jim Reilly. They would take 20 short course lane lines out, pull in one long course lane line and he would train long course on Sundays. He was just a summer league swimmer until his freshman year in high school. His freshman year in high school he decided to be a swimmer and he swam about a five minute 500 free. He decided that as a sophomore he wanted to go to Senior Nationals so he trained really hard and made the cut and went to Senior Nationals. The next year he decided he wanted to hold the American Record in the 800 meter free. Why not, right? He went from summer league swimmer to deciding to make the Senior National cut to setting an American Record. It all falls in line doesn’t it? Well, he did it. He set the American Record in the 800 meter free. Then he went to Mission Viejo and Southern CAL and he got really good and he wanted to make the Olympic team and set an American record in 1500 meters. He wrote his goal time (14:45) all over the place. He wrote 14:45 on his bike, on his walls, on his kick board, on his pull buoy. He wrote 14:45 everywhere. He and Coach (Bill) Rose put together his splits for a 14:45. What was his time in the Olympic Games? He went 14:45 because he prepared for it and he knew that was what he wanted to do. Five years earlier he was a summer league swimmer.

How many here are really good at using the clock? Roque Santos told me that when he trained with Sergio Lopez and Mike Barrowman they averaged giving their coach Joseph Nagy their times 57 times a practice. That means you can’t leave early and you can’t leave late because you would not know your time. If you leave early you cheat on teammates. If you leave late you cheat on yourself. Everybody in a wave or a heat must leave the wall together. You leave on a five or a zero. If you leave on a 5, you go down on a 4. If you leave on a 0, you go down on a 9. It is really simple and if you can’t figure out your times, you won’t be the best that you can be. Don’t rely on someone else. Make sure you know how fast you are swimming. If you think you are in control, you are going too slowly. You swim in meets the way you swim in practice. You have to extend yourself. You have to do more than you think you can. You have to challenge yourself to do what Olympians do. You have to work while it hurts; not just until it hurts. This says “Stamp-out Wimps.” It is not what you do, but how you do it. That is called accu-training. Train at the speeds your coach want you to so that you can be the best you can be.

We have covered skills and fitness and the last area that we will talk about is motivation. This is a team that isn’t focused (shows an image on a slide). The yellow part is the only overlapping part between swimmers and coaches. Parents are boosters. They do not get involved in those two circles up there. They support the circles. The more those circles overlap, the more successful the team would be. This is an upset coach because those circles did not overlap. This is North Coast Aquatics. The circles are overlapping, and the swimmers and coaches are on the same page. They are all focused toward being the best that they can be which means somebody will make an Olympic team. Focus with your coaches.

Teams are made up of givers and takers. Tell me what givers do in your program. What do givers do on your team? Givers cheer. Are we stuck on cheer? What do givers do on your team? Givers lead. They lead by doing. What else? Come on gang; I am dying up here (Asking for swimmer participation). Givers encourage each other. They get their times, get to practice on time and help with gear. They do not sand bag efforts in practice. They are positive, right? They are positive people. Teams are made up of givers and takers. Now let’s have Louis and Jessie up here. A bell curve is like the team with many in the middle of a bell curve and teams have givers and takers. I told Louis I like to look up to my swimmers and he is one of the tallest I have had to look up to. Your team is like the piece of cloth. It has good color. How many of you have team uniforms that you wear at meets? Okay, do you have good color? It is strong. It is durable. Hold the cloth tight please. It is durable. It is woven together. You are that same way. You are just like a piece of cloth. Your team is woven together like a piece of cloth, but there are issues that come up with teammates that you just do not understand. What are some of the things that takers do on your team? They sand bag. They do not swim as hard as they can. Sand baggers ruin the cloth. What else? What do takers on your team do? We only have one problem with this team, sand baggers? Sure, takers come to practice late. There is nothing more irritating to a coach than to have a practice set with everybody ready to go and all of a sudden people come late. Make sure your coaches know that you are going to be late, if you need to be late, so they can plan for it. What are some other things in your team that are irritants to you? People who complain are irritants. How many of you have ever been at the end of a lane and someone has become negative when Jeff said what the set is going to be? Anybody hear that? Sure you do. But what happens if you are at the end of the lane with teammates and someone farts? Everybody moves away from him don’t they? If someone is negative, move away from them and everybody will think they farted. Okay? What else – other things? Fins during the main set? Holy Cow – that is alright if you are eight. What else? What happens if your team is irritating to you? Missing practice is an irritant. There is no such thing as a miss. There is no makeup for a miss. Remember what I said. Jeff has created a plan which cycles through training, through those energy systems. If you miss a session, you miss the work. If the main set is aerobic training and you miss those two mornings or those two afternoons, there is no such thing as a makeup because it is all part of a cycle. Your coach creates a plan and you have to be there. Michael Phelps went four years without a miss. Takers tear a team apart. That is what happens to your team when someone turns around in the middle of the pool during training. If someone knows their time, they are givers. If you know 57 repeat times in a practice, you are a giver 57 times. Let’s give Jessie and Louis a big hand. You can be a giver or a taker. If you help the team by being positive and by commenting positively when you catch people doing things right, they will do them right more often. Don’t let issues disrupt your team. If you have teammates that become issues, deal with your coaches, not the teammates.

Who motivates the swimmer? Yes, the swimmer motivates the swimmer; good job. I have surveyed three Olympic teams and the #1 motivator is self. Is this guy motivated? You bet he is. You know what? This guy hates to miss practice (Michael Phelps). Missing practice really hurts him. He doesn’t like to miss, but I heard that his coach told him that he had to have a six beat kick for a 1650 and he had to do it at the beginning of practice and if he switched to a four beat or a two beat kick on the 1650, then he couldn’t stay. It took him three days before he could stay for the whole practice. Even he, the best swimmer in the world, has something expected of him and your coach expects things of you too. This guy reminds me of Ron Karnaugh. It is not Karnaugh, but it looks like him. Ron failed his first three sets of Red Cross Swimming lessons. That shows that what happens to you as a youngster is not what is going to happen to you as an oldster. As you get older, you get better. Who is this? It is Margaret Hoelzer, the American record holder in the 200 back. I went back and looked at United States Swimming’s race analysis for Margaret. She set an American record at 2:07 in February. She has had race analysis done on her 37 times, starting with a 2:20. In five years she went from 2:20 to 2:07. The thing that made the difference, according to her coach, in going the 2:07, was a commitment to get more fit. She walked an hour three days a week on her own. She ate better. She became a leader on the team. That is the kind of thing that can happen if you make up your mind to be the best that you can be. Dara Torres was a 14 year old when I took a team to London, Holland, and France. All I listened to for two weeks was “Men at Work.” Now she is 40 years old and a mom and an American record holder in the 50 free while breathing every other stroke. The #1 motivator is the swimmer himself or herself.

The #2 motivator is the coach. Here is Teri McKeever, the coach of Natalie Coughlin. Teri is a visionary. She sees what the swimmer can do. Your coaches see what you can do. Your job is to have your level of inspiration or your level of aspiration meet your coach’s level of expectation. How many of you think that your coach sometimes demands and expects too much of you? Does anyone ever feel that way? Just two people – three? We have three honest people. That really is a coach’s job. The coach has to have a higher level of expectation. He can’t just be surprised when you go fast. He has got to say, “Well, that is the way I planned it.” Amanda Beard was on a seven year plateau before she went 2:22 (200 Meter Breaststroke). Her times had kind of leveled off, but she had things expected of her by Coach Frank Busch. When Jenny Thompson was in high school she would do a 10,000 yard practice on Saturday morning and come back for an afternoon practice at 2 o’clock and she would go eight 100’s on 6 minutes free or fly. On those 100’s if she wasn’t fast enough, they didn’t count. The freestyle started at 53 seconds. They only counted if they were 53 or better and she would finish at 49. In fly she would start at 55. They had to be faster than 56 to count, and she finished at 53. Those are things that coaches expected of those people to get to where they were. Here is a guy named Dan Greaves. Dan is from Santa Rosa, California. He had Amanda Simms and all of a sudden one year later he had three more girls all at Senior Nationals. Coach Lim from Marietta Marlins had one guy, Dillon Connolly, and now he has got seven. That is what happens if you focus on being the best that you can be and listen to your coach and are coachable.

Opponents are the #3 motivator. How many of you know someone on another team you want to beat? Everybody knows that feeling. How many of you know someone on this team you want to beat? There is your yardstick every day. Brian Goodell said he never went to a practice that he didn’t think about beating Bobby Hackett and Steve Holland. That was in his mind. He would put their face on the body of anybody that was ahead of him and work hard to try to pass that swimmer regardless of whether they were doing the same thing or not. He worked to get ahead. In the Olympic Games, while swimming the 1500 meter free, at 700 meters he is about 10 feet behind Hackett and Holland and he started thinking, I never ever thought I would have a bronze medal. I thought all I would ever have was a gold medal, so at 700 meters he took off. His last 800 meters was faster than the flat start 800 meter world record (7:56). He was a great negative split swimmer because of his coach, but opponents encouraged him. Here is Ryan Lochte congratulating Michael Phelps on a 400 IM swim. Ryan Lochte is a great team player. How many of you remember the speed skater that wouldn’t skate relays because he wanted to be really good himself? Anybody remember that from the Winter Olympics? Don’t be that kind of person. Be like Ryan Lochte. He knew that his Florida team needed him to swim prelims and finals of everything, relays and individual events, in order for the Florida team to have a good outcome at NCAA’s. Be the kind of swimmer that is there for everything. Do not pick and choose and do not be afraid to thank your opponents, even if they are teammates. Sometimes teammates might be opponents and you may never beat them, but they are making you what you are. Natalie Coughlin is motivated by Kirsty Coventry. Kate Ziegler is motivated by Katie Hoff and vice versa. Ian Crocker is motivated by Michael Phelps. Larsen Jensen is motivated by Grant Hackett. They may be thousands of miles apart, but that image is great motivation. You need to use it.

The #4 motivator is teammates. Teammates are great people. You have to thank the designated counter for the distance. How many of you are distance swimmers? Louis, I am glad your hand went up because you do not have to swim as far. Teammates are great motivators. Parents are great motivators. This is a little guy that wanted more than anything to please his folks. He is a 25 yard breaststroker at the 8 and under J O Championships, and his dad was timing in the lane on the other end. He is the first seed in the 25 yard breaststroke and he dove in and he took off. He was racing down the pool and all of a sudden at mid-pool he went down to the bottom and started swimming along the bottom and he got to the end of the pool and said, “Hey dad, I found a quarter”. Time standards have made American Swimming what it is. Along with passionate coaches, time standards have made American Swimming what it is. I am not sure of my numbers, but last summer any swimmer that had not been on a National team trip could go to Japan if they made a certain cut. USA Swimming thought that twelve or fifteen people would make the cut. I was told that 50 people made the cut so time standards have made American Swimming what it is. How many of you know a time you want to achieve to get to the next level? Go after it.

I want to tell you a story about Nick Nevid. He was a time-oriented kid. He didn’t have the cut to go to Senior Nationals the week before the meet and went to a last chance meet. He made the cut there and he went to Austin, Texas for nationals. He was seeded about 30th. He swam the prelims and finished in the top 8. He swam the finals and finished 2nd. He made the team to West Berlin and a week earlier didn’t have the time to go to Nationals. He went to West Berlin for the World Championships. Swimming the prelims he finished 8th. He is swimming in lane 8 in the final. He had a lifetime best hundred on the way to the 200 breast and he hung on for dear life and at the end and he won the 200 breast. A month earlier he didn’t have the time to go to Senior Nationals. Those are the kinds of things that you can do if you prepare. You can achieve if you think about times and standards and about moving up to the next level.

Awards are the 7th greatest motivator. I am sure this one really motivated Amanda Beard. And awards are a little higher with ten and under swimmers than they are with people like you. Who motivates a coach? The swimmers motivate the coach. I hear swimmers in my travels say that the coach does not motivate them enough, but it is up to you to motivate the coach. What are some ways that you can motivate your coach, Jeff Pease? Sure, try hard is one way. Be at practice is another biggie. That really helps. Be a giver. I like it. You got the phrase. Swim fast. Swim at the speed you are supposed to swim in order to use and develop the things that coach is trying to create within you. Brendan Hansen motivates Coach Eddie Reese. These swimmers motivate Coach Jimmy Ellis. Davis Tarwater motivates Coach Jon Urbanchek. These swimmers motivate their coach. You are the ones that motivate Jeff Pease. It is not his job to motivate you. It is his job to help you be the best that you can be. And within motivation there are two different kinds: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic is hugs and kisses and high 5’s. It is hugs from your mom, kisses from your dad and high 5’s from your teammates. Those are the important things in swimming. Extrinsic things are a dollar when you are 10 and a bike when you are 14 and an MP3 when you are 17 and a car when you are 20. Those things are unimportant. Those are not the things that motivate you. Those are just rewards for having done a good job. What you need to do is learn to be satisfied with a pat on the back, a high 5 and a hug or a kiss.

How many of you are stressed at swimming meets? Does anybody feel stress at swimming meets? What are some of the things that cause this stress in you at a swimming meet? Expectations that you have of yourself cause stress. How many feel stress from a coach? Does anybody feel stress from parents? Just tell your mom and dad you are doing the best you can with what they gave you. What are other causes? What causes you to be stressed? Is anybody stressed that the person next to them is bigger than them? Louis, I’ve got to see that person, okay? I want to see someone bigger than you. Are you upset or stressed that someone is faster than you and smaller? Yes, size sometimes makes a difference. How many of you look at the heat sheet and say, oh my God, I am the 75th seed? That is stressful. You are not the only one who is feeling stress. Everybody feels stress. How does that stress come out in you? What is the reaction to stress within your body? You feel adrenalin, nerves or butterflies. What do you feel from stress? You are excited. You are tense. Come on, what else? Anybody go to the John more often? You do not want to raise your hand and admit it. Sure, everybody takes a leak. It is just normal. It is not just you. Other people feel stress too. Get together with your coaches because they are experienced at relaxation. Your mom has probably had Lamaze and she can help you. Is this guy stressed? He is a bundle of nerves. This guy is looking over his shoulder at Jeff Rouse. Is this guy nervous? Okay, we do not want you to look like this or like this. We want you to look like this or like this, calm, focused. Visualization is important. Swimming is a great sport for being able to visualize. Mary Wayte once said that she never went to practice without thinking about the East German IM Swimmers that she was trying hard to beat. Lifetime bests come when you visualize yourself being successful the way Brian Goodell never saw himself on the podium with a bronze medal. All he ever thought about was a gold medal. Seeing yourself be successful gives you expectation. Create a plan to be successful.

Swimming is also great for goal setting. It requires a commitment from you. Your coach then creates an action plan for you to be successful. When you are successful you get to celebrate. Now tell me, does Jeff let you do celebrations on a 30 second sendoff or anything like that? Oh, you got to coach him a little bit. Take time to practice celebrations. Know what you are going to do when you celebrate. I told this to a lot of coaches and a coach from Baltimore once said that he had his swimmers practice celebrations. His swimmers do celebrations. They do five celebrations on a minute at the end of practice. Every celebration has to be different. This coach had a little girl who was a 1:30 freestyler practicing celebrations. She got into her next meet and got beat by some girls that went 57 seconds in that heat and all of a sudden she came in at about a 1:30 pace and everybody is just tapping their fingers waiting for her to touch. When she finally touched and looked at the clock it was a 1:29 and she had a great celebration. Have a celebration in mind, just like these Olympians. Gary Hall is famous for this picture, but he is more famous for this picture. This is not a legal suit. I think the thing he should be most famous for is this saying, “You can learn more from a disappointment or a loss than you can from a win”. Think about that, not the red, white and blue suit. Steve Lundquist had a celebration. He set a world record in the hundred meter breaststroke in 1984. He jumped out of the pool after being interviewed and he just stood there. I said Steve, what were you thinking about? He said I forgot how I was going to celebrate. He jumped in the air and kicked his heels together. Here is a great slogan for you: “I am becoming what I am to be. What you do is up to you.” Your mind is like a computer. You program it. You put good things in and you get good things out. There is an old saying for computer programmers: “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. You are that same way. Put good thoughts into your head.

Who is this? That is right. Natalie Coughlin is a person who in her own words has never been involved with drugs or alcohol. It has no place in society, but it is here and you will be confronted by people to be involved in drugs and alcohol. It is best if you just say no and walk away. That might be hard, but you are with a bunch of teammates that have common goals. You are with teammates that focus on being the best that they can be and you need to rely on them to help you get through temptations. Do not be the first example that Coach Jeff has to discipline because of a problem with drugs or alcohol. Remember that hearsay counts. If Jeff hears that it is being done, it is being done. Here is Eric Namesnik, one of our greatest swimmers ever. He was on two USA Swimming Olympic teams, and he won two silver medals in the 400 IM and set American records over the time. He became a great young coach. He risked driving fast on ice one winter and was killed in an automobile accident. He has been in this show for a long time and I think that when it is time for you to drive, you do not have to worry about ice in San Diego, but drive carefully. Do not be a risk taker and remember, if your friends do not encourage you to do what is best for you, they are not your friends.

Success begins with a swimmer’s will. It is all in the state of mind. Remember the saying, garbage in gets garbage out. Good thoughts in get good thoughts out. Here is the most important one because mothers always say, I am so proud of you, and fathers always say – you did what? Okay – we are back to Aaron Peirsol. Here he is raising his hand after a world record leading off a medley relay in Greece. He went 53.4 for 100 meters backstroke. He then took a break. He took several months off during which time he ran, he lifted weights and rode a stationary bike. He came back after a couple of weeks of training and went to the trials for the World Championship Team and went 53.1, a new world record. His response was – what is this all about? That is what happens when you have skill, fitness and motivation. Now think about yourself. Think about yourself and those three words – skill, fitness and motivation. Think about what you think you need to do most in order for you to be the best that you can be. What do you need to do to be somebody that leads by doing with Coach Pease? How many of you think that the thing you need to work on most is starts and strokes, turns and finishes? How many think you need to work most on skills? How many of you think that the thing you need to work on most is fitness? How many need practice training at the right speeds? How about making sure you never miss practice? What about knowing your times? And how many of you think that the thing you need to work on most is motivation? How many of you need to work on really being ready to race and being ready to train?

Those are the things it takes for you to be the best that you can be. I hope you have benefited from this experience. I hope that you will take these things back to your team and share them with your teammates who were not able to be here. I would like all the coaches here to give our guests from North Coast Aquatics a big hand. Let’s try that “big hand” again. You are un-coachable. Now let’s really give them a “BIG HAND”. (Response is one loud single clap in unison). There we go. Thanks a lot.

I would like to tell the coaches that are here that this presentation is part of a thing that I have talked to John Leonard about called “Talking Points.” You as coaches do not have time to put this kind of story together, but these are some of the topics that I have worked on, and I am hoping to have them made available to coaches so that you can give these kinds of talks to your team. “Be the best you can” be is what we did today. Some other topics for these “talking points” that I am putting together include: “teamsmanship” is a great one which involves part of what we did here; “everyone is important” is for parents, officials and people that are all part of your program; “visualization and relaxation” is another; “accutraining” is another which we will do tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock; “turning the corner on apathy” is for kids that really do not want to be good but are part of the program or as I call it – “my mom made me come to practice”. Thanks a lot for being attentive.

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