The Path to Clean Swimming

The Path to  Clean Swimming
Path To Clean SwimmingWe see admirable courageous stances by athletes from multiple nations in Rio with regard to the immediate and important need to protect our sport.

This comes about because the IOC and its subsidiary International Federation Puppets such as FINA in our sport, have abdicated their moral responsibility to protect and preserve the sanctity of Olympic Ideals and Values. They have revealed themselves as simply a financial machine generating BILLIONS of dollars while sharing pittances with the Athletes on whose backs those dollars are generated, AND THEN, they are so arrogant as to ask the athletes to protect their private money generating circus by not  protesting the prostitution of clean sport, as FINA and the IOC have done by allowing the dopers to swim.

Which leaves us with “WHAT TO DO”?

Here are the SIMPLE (not easy, but SIMPLE) steps:

  1. The real power in sport is with the athletes. Read that again three times. As athletes, you have become so used to the mindset of “big brother IOC will take care of all” that now that that trust has been betrayed, you have not realized ITS ALL ABOUT YOU. Your heart, soul, passion and BODY are what the IOC is getting rich on, and all the IF’s underneath them as well, (Read FINA, with their 100 Million in the bank while you starve.)
  1. ATHLETES MUST UNITE, form your own organization and TELL THE IOC under WHAT CONDITIONS YOU WILL PARTICIPATE IN THEIR CIRCUS. (Suggestions on conditions to follow.)
  1. And PS. You can run your own Swim Circuit without them, earn REAL money, and be in control of your destiny. See GOLF and TENNIS. I am here to help you do it, when you are ready and I have a team in place to help you do it. And I won’t accept an American nickel to do it. No money for me.

This is about you and generations to follow.  I want my children who coach, to be able to coach CLEAN ATHLETES and aspire to win in the generations ahead. That’s my personal motivation for the cynics to understand.

  1. Once you have a viable option to the IOC and their Circus, you are in control. Yes, keep the Olympics, but have it drug free, have it the way you dreamed of it when you were a child and emerging elite athletes. Not the cynical freak show of today, all marketing, no soul. Value your Dreams. They can be real. They can be real. They can be real.
  1. What conditions do you want? Here are “suggestions”.
  1. WADA must be rebuilt with a REAL anti-doping reformer at the helm. (I suggest Travis Tygert, of USADA, the ONLY administrator in all sport to truly SPEAK UP for you. He’s real. He’s at odds with the USOC because they are just more fakers hiding behind nonsense like “Zero Tolerance.”

The only ZERO TOLERANCE they recognize is for anything that threatens their bank account. Note to the USOC – why hold an Olympics in Los Angeles when it’s just another corrupt operation serving no clean athletes…..? When you cave in to the IOC on everything, to get the Games in LA, YOU STAND FOR NOTHING!  ATHLETES, DEMAND A REBUILD of WADA. And real power for WADA to set rules, test for doping and ENFORCE RULES FOR ALL OF OLYMPIC SPORT.

  1. A thing called “HIGH THROUGHPUT TESTING” which exists TODAY, can find the doping needle in the haystack that current testing can’t. It can immediately create CLEAN SPORT. Why don’t “they” use it now? Because they don’t want clean sport, they want the charade of “Zero Tolerance” rhetoric.  The Science EXISTS NOW. ATHLETES, INSIST WE USE 2016 Science to catch 2016 cheats, NOT 1950’s technology which is what is used now.
  1. MONEY – It’s all about the money right now, isn’t it? Why are the IOC making BILLIONS while you struggle to get the money to eat and keep a roof over your head? ATHLETES, insist on a fair distribution of revenue to keep YOU at the center of the picture. How? See number two above.

Athletes, every problem that frustrates you and your coaches and the entire world that wants CLEAN SPORT, can be solved by YOU. Unite. OWN YOUR SPORT.  Many of us are here to help you. Fix swimming for your generation and hundreds of generations to come. You have the power to do it. Use it. Please.

John Leonard

American And World Swimming Coaches Association.


American Hero Shirley Babashoff To Be Honored at the American Swimming Coaches Association Awards Banquet.

American Hero Shirley Babashoff To Be Honored at the American Swimming Coaches Association Awards Banquet.
The athlete who SHOULD HAVE BEEN the most decorated American female swimmer from the 1976 Games will be honored with the Ousley Award at the ASCA Annual Awards Banquet on Thursday, Sept. 8. In Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Instead, Shirley Babashoff was vilified as “Surly Shirley” for speaking out about the completely doped East German women’s swimming team in Montreal. The only American athlete in any sport to “tell it as it really is” in Montreal, also anchored the iconic 1976 400 Freestyle relay that vanquished the doped East German team to end the Games. The relay was widely considered to be the most inspired and inspirational event in modern swimming history.
USA Swimming recently produced a movie titled “Last Gold” that will also be shown at the ASCA World Clinic on Friday evening, Sept. 9. “Last Gold” tells the story of that relay and the horrific doping in East Germany that leads up to the Games. Echoes of course, of today’s government sponsored doping in Russia.
Ms. Babashoff recently produced her own book, which will be available at the World Clinic, of her view of the events and history of those times.
In a day and age when “whistleblowers” like Shirley are the best hope clean athletes have of embarrassing the IOC, FINA and related bodies into cleaning up sport of the scourge of doping, it is the privilege of the ASCA to honor Ms. Babashoff for her courage and outspoken condemnation of doping and cheating.
Shirley Babashoff will be introduced at the Banquet by Coach Mark Schubert, her coach from 1976 and the most successful team swimming coach in the history of the sport. Shirley was a key piece of Coach Schubert’s historic teams at Mission Viejo, California.

Questions: John Leonard, ASCA,


The Nature of Information in the Age of the Internet

The Nature of Information in the Age of the Internet
internetThere has never been a more difficult time to be a swimming coach. Or a doctor, a lawyer, a journalist, a general, or an Indian Chief. Or any other profession that relies on Credibility.

The finest thing in our lives for finding “information” is also the WORST thing in our lives for finding accurate, contextual information.

Information without context, “is the Devil.”

As any of the above individuals can tell you. Patients (clients, swim parents, readers or ordinary Indians) go ON LINE to get primary information about what they want to know.

What they find there can range from spectacularly good, to pure gibberish enhanced with fancy marketing and emotional response forming words. (Like “Science” as an example… more on that later.)

So as swimming coaches, we have parents and athletes going online and finding all sorts of trash that contradicts what any experienced, well-educated, trained and sensible coach would advise for that athlete. Of course, this happens every day on every swim team of every level in the world.

Sorting the gems from the rocks depends on experience, background and contextual education. None of which parents or swimmers have (and lots of young coaches lack as well).

Below is a provision of the hierarchy of the types of information we all can find and use.

  1. REAL SCIENCE – Real science is published studies in a peer-reviewed specific journal on your subject. Real scientists evaluate and assault their peers “scientific studies” until they are done in a manner that the scientific community accepts. This the only thing worthy of being called science. Look for the term “peer-reviewed.” NOTHING ELSE IS SCIENCE. This is the most dependable type of information. It is also scarce. In swimming, it’s called the “Journal of Swimming Research” Dr. Jan Prins, editor. It is a time proven, academically accepted process of impeccable reliability.
  2. Fake Science (of various levels of accuracy and duplicity). Calling something science does not make it science. LOTS of “Journals” are not peer reviewed. In fact, you pay a fee and they publish your “research.” This is also known as PR for a product. It’s usually, but not always, fake stuff that can’t pass muster by a peer-reviewed Journal. A fake academic who wants publishing credits takes this route. There is TONS of this nonsense readily findable on the internet. It’s worse than an “opinion”, its fraud because its masquerading by appealing to you with a term that doesn’t actually apply, called “science.” (A “grail” we have been taught since childhood to worship at.) Remember, doing “research” is not science. I am sure “research” exists that proves Oreo cookies are good for you. (I love Oreos.)
  3. Opinion or anecdotal reports. This is what happens at every coaches clinic in the world. A coaching peer gets up behind a microphone and tells you what they think. They base what they think on their experiences and their knowledge. This can range from fantastic, state of the art stuff from highly knowledgeable people, to more utter trash. Use the “credibility test” to determine which you think is which…ask yourself and the speaker “why should I listen to you?” and the answer you want is “I’ve been there and done that…I’ve achieved coaching success over decades (years, months?) and repeated it. Coaching 20 Olympians gives you more credibility than coaching one. Coaching one gives you more credibility than someone pretending to tell you how to coach an Olympian who has never coached one. Having coached successfully for 20 years in a parent owned program has way more credibility than a shrink who wants to tell you how to deal successfully with swimming parents. Of course, our sport has LOTS of Guru’s, who don’t actually coach anyone, but want to tell you how to do it. In my opinion, STEER CLEAR. There is an old expression here that says “If you only have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” If you are listening to a physiologist tell you how to coach, guess what he will tell you the “secret” to coaching is?

The organization I have worked for (the American Swimming Coaches Association), for the past 30 years, largely believes in and promotes this sort of information. Education from experienced professionals. Coaches regularly know that things “work” that scientists can’t figure out yet Why they work, so the “Real science” doesn’t/can’t report on it. (see “Hypoxic training” for an example. Everyone does it, everyone knows it works, NO ONE can tell us WHY, YET.)

Science is the best. But science RE-SEARCHES what we already know. Some coach out there has solved the problem you face, already, but they are not scientists, haven’t done the research, and so it’s NOT YET SCIENCE. If you want to be “cutting edge”, listen to experienced, accomplished, successful coaches.

  • Of course, the last category is an advertising, which can also pass on information. Some ads look like articles. Read carefully. Be discerning, be cynical. Especially on blogs, which are usually thinly disguised ads.
  • WE CAN LEARN SOMETHING FROM ALL OF THE CATEGORIES ABOVE. Nothing wrong with seeking them out. (I look at ADS all the time! As do you.)

    But understand the hierarchy of information out there for any of us on any topic under the sun.

    All the Best, John Leonard


    Happy Birthday to Swim Coach Forbes Carlile of Australia on his 90th Birthday

    Forbes has been one of the iconic coaches of world sport...all sport for many decades now. A pioneer in breaking the infamous "Amateur Code" that kept professional coaches as serfs in every federation in the world, the signature fighter for the sport of swimming and all its athletes and coaches, all over the world, Forbes turns 90 on Friday, June 3, in Sydney Australia, with his marvelous Coach/wife, Ursula Carlile with him.

    The Coach of multiple world record holders and Australian Olympic Medalists, including the incomparable Shane Gould, the last female to hold world records at ALL recognized distances, Forbes has been a scientist pioneer as well, introducing, along with his academic mentor, Professor Cotton, the term and practice of "taper" into the swimming literature.

    Read More

    Incredible. Really.

    A review by ACES (Association of Chief Executives for Sport) supplied to USA Swimming reports that exactly ZERO are the number of people serving on the governing boards of directors for their international Federation, who are ATHLETES or COACHES. At the end of this short article, I’ll list all the federations who responded.

    No athletes. No coaches. What conclusions can we draw from this?

    1. International Federations operate as paternalistic organizations where anyone except the “suits” (sport politicians) are not welcome.
    2. Professional athletes in all sports, are “done to, and for” by amateurs who reside in the old thinking of the 19th century that only “gentlemen” run sport.
    3. Professional coaches are not considered worthy to help govern the sports in which they spend their entire lives.

    Someone told me recently that clearly it was a “bad idea” to have athletes and coaches on governing bodies. This same person is a ranking sport politician not only in their own federation, but in the international federation.

    What flawed logic. (“it’s never been so, so clearly it SHOULD never be so.”)

    In reality, this is the strongest possible indictment of the CREDIBILITY of International Sports Federations to govern their sport. Making them, quite literally, IN-Credible.

    As proof of the absurdity of this conclusion, I point to USA Swimming and to Australian Swimming….the two most successful sports teams in the history of Olympic Sport, in terms of medals won, records set; etc. (we’ll dismiss the old drug cheating East German regime from consideration, shall we? )

    Both organizations have both athletes and coaches imbedded permanently in the highest levels of decision making in their organization, quite successfully, it would appear. While I cannot speak authoritatively on the history of Australian Swimming, it is correct that USA Swimming has had athletes and coaches on it’s Board of Directors since it’s inception in 1979.

    It works for the two most successful Olympic organizations on the planet, but wouldn’t work for International Federations? Please.

    And please, remember that we’re talking “Serving on the governing boards…” not the eyewash of “athletes commissions” that the IOC and some others that they put in place to blunt valid criticism, and then roundly ignore.

    Time for a Change. Incredible.

    John Leonard

    The sports represented in the survey: Badminton, Biathlon, Bowling, Equestrian, Fencing, Field Hockey, Hockey, Lacrosse, Luge, Masters Swimming, Rugby, Sailing, Shooting, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Synchro Swimming, Table Tennis, Volleyball, Water Polo, Water Ski, Wrestling.


    American Swimming Coaches Association Statement Following the ABC Program about USA Swimming and Child Sexual Abuse.

    Every coach and friend of swimming in the USA agrees that any individuals convicted of sexual abuse or similar offenses against children, deserve the full punishment of the American legal system and want to see those punishments applied. We remind all that we are fortunate enough to live in a country where accusations and conviction are not the same thing.

    The best solution to this problem is for victims and their parents to pursue the alleged offenders through the law, and reach final decision in those cases. Convictions are then recorded as misdemeanors or felonies and can be readily found with all background screens that are run by potential employers, sports federations, and related agencies. This allows criminals to be removed from the system.

    In addition, employers, sports associations, coaching associations and related bodies should respond to all complaints brought by victims and their parents promptly and effectively, and in a manner that respects the rights of all parties involved.

    John Leonard

    Executive Director, American Swimming Coaches Association.


    American Swimming Coaches Association Board Establishes New Objective.

    In its Board Meeting of Sept. 9, 2009, the ASCA Board established a new working principle and objective to develop.

    “Our Board has always monitored organizations and their effectiveness in our sport, and last week decided that we feel that FINA can benefit by having direct technical input at the highest levels of the organization, which is the FINA Bureau.,” said Executive Director John Leonard while reporting on the Bureau actions. “We believe that many of the recent FINA decisions from the Bureau could have benefited substantially from having direct input from coaches in our sport, and coaches in the other aquatic disciplines. We’ll be looking for ways and seeking allies, to promote the finest coaches and the elite athletes in every aquatic sport, onto the Bureau level of FINA decision making.”

    “While a few people may consider this a revolutionary idea, it is in fact simply a reflection of what is already best practice in both Australia and the United States. Promotion of both coaches and elite athletes to decision making roles has been a historical part of the governance of USA Swimming from its very beginnings and both the ASCA and WSCA Boards strongly believe it is a great model to transfer in some form to FINA, our international governing body. Far from revolutionary, it is evolutionary, and a natural outgrowth from the FINA Coaches and Athletes Commissions, and clearly much needed. Swimming is now a professional sport. A segment of the highest decision making body in the sport also needs to be professional and not composed entirely of amateurs.”

    The World Swimming Coaches Association Board of Directors endorsed the same set of principles last week as well.


    From FINA President Julio Cesar Maglione

    The following is an email to the ASCA Exec Director from FINA President Julio Cesar Maglione:

    “It was my great pleasure to be with you in Rome on the occasion of the 13th FINA World Championships, and I express my appreciation to you for your excellent work as a member of the FINA Coaches Commission from 2005 to 2009, which was and is invaluable for swimming and undoubtedly we will continue working together in the future.

    I am grateful to you for extending a kind invitation to me to attend the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) World Clinic in Fort Lauderdale next month. It would give me great pleasure to have discussions with swimming coaches from the United States and throughout the world, and I regard the role of coaches to be very important in the promotion, development and improvement of our sport.

    However, upon my election as President of FINA, I have been requested to attend the IAAF World Championships in Berlin, to lead an evaluation team for ODEPA of three candidate cities for the 2015 Pan American Games (Toronto, Bogota, and Lima), and to attend the ODEPA Executive Committee meeting in Mexico City.

    Therefore, with great respect for ASCA and with deep regret to the coaches who will attend the World Clinic, I must decline your invitation, but instead, I suggest that I visit the United States in early 2010. This will allow me the opportunity to meet with the leaders of your organization, as well as those of United States Aquatic Sports (USAS). As you know, USAS supported my candidacy for FINA President, and I am deeply indebted to American swimming leaders who helped me so much.

    I extend my best wishes to you, to ASCA, and to all of the coaches who work so hard for the benefit of the athletes and the sport.”



    Counsilman Memorial Lecture Contributors

    Our thanks to the following individuals and organizations who have contributed to the financial success of the Doc Counsilman Memorial Lecture Fund. Additional contributions are sought and can be made payable to the Counsilman Memorial Lecture fund and sent to: Coach Bob Groseth, 2311 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL. 60208 . Credit card payments can be made by calling the ASCA office with the request at 800-356-2722.


    Bob Groseth, Ron Heidary, Jim Tierney, George Block, Butch Jordan, John Leonard, Chuck Warner, Don Gingras, Alamo Area Aquatic Association, Jack Simon, Santa Clara Swim Club, Dick Jochums, Mecklenburg Aquatic Club, Tom Musch, Orinda Aquatics, Don King, Curl Burke Swim Club, Cork King, Peter Malone, Joanne Macher, Robert Strauss, USA Swimming, Peter Linn, Forbes Carlile, Vern Gambetta, Dennis Dale, Tim Murphy, Jiang Zhan, Frank Comfort

    And the following individuals have donated by dedicating their speaking fees at the world clinic to the Counsilman Fund:

    Mark Schubert


    Ed Reese

    David Marsh




    Bob Gillett, Swimming Coach

    Problem: In the United States we have a relative lack of 50 meter pool time compared to what is needed by the competitive swimming club system. This lack of quality 50 meter training pool time is primarily a result of two issues: capital cost and operational cost of 50 meter pools in relation to the massive amount of pool time needed for top level competitive swimmer development.

    The capital cost of 50 meter pools has inflated to levels that now require massive affiliate associations to get community and institutional pools built. To make the projects look financial feasible on paper, these special interest groups combine their needs and desires and try to justify these large expenditures. Once the facilities are built the extra-ordinary need of pool time for a top level competitive swim program is not achieved because of the time requirements for all of the other special needs by the groups that combined in the association to get the pool built. Recreation swimming, swimming lessons, water therapy, water aerobics, adult lap swimming, water polo, diving, scuba, party rentals, fireman training, recreational swim teams, high school workouts and meet time and dozens of other “high priority needs” dilute what is needed for top level competitive swim training. This is why many swim teams around the country get the “left over” times, like 5:30 AM in the morning! Even then, after the quality times go to other activities, competitive swimming is usually left with shorter time periods than what is desirable.

    In southern California, there are many 50 meters by 25 yard pools that are almost never used for long course training by swim teams. Because almost all of these pools are multi-purpose pools that are outside the controls of competitive swimming coaches, southern California has very few programs that have any significant time devoted to top level long course training. Many of these pools are NEVER used as long course competitive training facilities! This lack of long course training is one of the major reasons that the southern California club system is underachieving!

    The Phoenix, AZ area, including surrounding cities, has over 16 long course pools. However, not one of these pools has a primary use as a long course training facility. Most of the time, swim teams are shut out of these facilities, and many are not even open on a year round bases because of the controlling agencies.

    When it is available, pool time charges are often inappropriate for swim team use and the ability to generate supporting income. While pool fees may be at a feasible level for a “full pool of age group workouts,” they may be entirely non-feasible for a limited “top level training sessions,” that only involves 15 or so senior swimmers. For example, a $100 charge for a 2 hour age group program works, but not a long course session for 15 top senior swimmers. The old administrative response is, “Well that is just what it cost. Pools are expensive and operational costs are high.” Of course this response is true, but it provides no solution to our problem. We are being priced out of the pools!

    A major problem with building dedicated competitive swimming pools is that of associated infrastructure;such as, parking lots and utility acquisition. This problem is best solved with a partnering with an existing facility, such as a private school, private club and a public institution that already has all necessary infrastructure in place.

    Even then the problem with building dedicated competitive swimming pools is that of permanency for an associated partner in the project. Once the pool is built, it is there for a long time, with little future possible modification if the situation turns out to be unfavorable for the participating partners. This makes most situations that would benefit from such a partnership relationship never come to a realization. This problem is best solved for a partnering situation by developing a pool that can be moved and does not involve extensive permanent in ground construction. An above ground, module pool is a way to solve this problem for both parties.

    Solution: The solution is to build low capital cost facilities that involve low operational costs. This can be done by designing a “special use” pool that is specifically designed for competitive swimming. The pools should be designed for “sweat equity” participation, because almost all swim clubs have access to this type of participation by the member families, friends and business associations. The pools should be able to be constructed with only the necessary characteristics for a safe, healthy and functional facility for “instruction and training for competitive swimming.” When all of requirements of a general, multi-purpose public pool are reduced to only what is need for a good competitive teaching and training “swim team” situation, the cost of development spikes downward.

    Proposed Solution: I am purposing that we develop some flexible designs for smaller, low cost competitive pools. The pools need to be above ground and movable. We have designed a 37 foot by 50 meter (four, nine foot training lanes) competitive swimming pool. The pool is only designed for training at 3.5 feet deep. The side walls are integrated with the gutter system and return lines in a pre-cast concrete module system. Only two pre-cast forms are need, one for the straight wall sections of 30 feet (these lengths can be varied) and one for the corner section modules. Each module has under $500 worth of material cost. The pool would have only low side wall returns every 15 feet (a situation calling for a variance in most public multi-purpose pool codes). The pool would not need a surge tank because of the volume of the module wall/gutter system: one gallon per foot of surface area. The pool would need only one 7 ½horse power motor/pump, 4 – 6.9 filters, and 2 – 400,000 BTU pool heaters. Lighting would be provided by overhead fixtures. The pool surface would be a 20 ml vinyl pool liner (another situation calling for a variance in most public multi-purpose pool codes). Program flexibility involving short course training will be accomplished with a low cost movable bulkhead (under $6000) and the use of “flex-lane bulkheads” that have been used in many programs for over 20 years. This provides for eight, 25 meter or yard training lanes for younger swimmers or occasional senior sprint work. Minimum decking will be used, based upon local codes (example: 5 feet). We also have designed a small structure involving four restroom/change rooms, with outside showers and lavatories. The facility can be built for under $100,000. The annual operational cost for water, gas, chemicals and cleaning is under $50,000. If the pool needs to be covered, the cost is significantly lowered by the short width span needed for enclosure. Approximately 200 swimmers per month can be programmed into this competitive facility. Assuming a $100 per month income average per swimmer, the facility would provide a $240,000 gross revenue level. The competitive swim team program could be accomplished with one head site coach and two assistants. This pool is a potential “program module” for many situations across the United States. A 7000 meter workout in such a pool is worth the same as a 7000 meter workout in a multi-million dollar pool when it comes to performance on meet day!!

    Future Steps in the Development Process:  We need additional work and help in the following areas:

    1. Engineering and calculations for wall structure and stability testing of wall structures for warping with a variety of installation formats: deck locking of side walls, non-deck locking of side walls (red heads into a poured sub-wall foundation), partial in ground installation; etc.
    2. Development of forms for pre-cast sections.
    3. Endorsement by NGB as an experimental design for local health departments.
    4. Assessments of probability of local health departments’ approval.
    5. Location of suitable partnering situations.
    6. Build a test/demonstration facility.

    Participation and InquiryBob Gillett, Swimming Coach 700 Ocean Ave, Seal Beach, CA 90740 (714) 766-9767