Tapering Teenagers by Ira Klein (1994)        

Tapering Teenagers by Ira Klein (1994)           

Coach Klein is ASCA Certified Level 5-YMCA;AG and USS. Ira is currently the Assistant Men’s and Women’s Swimming Coach at Auburn University. Previous to this position, Coach Klein spent 18 years coaching clubs around the country. He was the Assistant Women’s Coach at the 1994 Goodwill Games, the Head Coach for the North Team at the 1994 Olympic Festival and 011 Assistant Coach at the 1991 Olympic Festival. In 1988 Coach Klein was named the YMCA National Coach of the Year. Ira served two terms 011 the ASCA Board of Directors as well as being a Past President and founder of the YMCA Swim Coaches Association.


I’ve been coaching a little over twenty years now, most of it until this last year was all in club and a lot of that was in YMCA and attending meets like Y Nationals and Juniors, Seniors and Trials. Coaching everything from Eight and under through Olympians. As a matter of fact in 1991 when I was coaching a group of about six swimmers for Trials I was also coaching a group of Eight & under. I always enjoy that because it keeps a good perspective on what you are doing. Those 8 year olds could not care less they would go Olympic what, I just want to play; sharks and minnows.


First of all there is no hand out. I don’t want you to just look at some piece of paper and I’m not going to give you a formula. I don’t believe that there is any single formula for tapering. If you want the easy answer, and we are talking about tapering teenagers-age groupers especially, DON’T. That’s it, you can go. That is all you need to know. There is a lot more, but if you are looking for an easy answer then just don’t taper them.


This is the least talked about part of tapering. Whatever clinic you go to you will rarely hear a talk about tapering. My first talk that I heard on tapering was given by Eddie Reese, at that time he was coaching at Auburn. If  I was to list who I felt were the top ten coaches, both as coaches and individuals, Eddie would probably get listed twice in my top ten list. He is a tremendous coach and an individual. So when Eddie Reese talks on tapering, I listen. I took down notes, pages and pages of notes. I went back, I was in my first club ever, the Eastern Queens YMCA, and I had all the answers now. So I go home and Eddie says you taper six weeks, we just start six weeks out from our biggest meet. He even had the idea where you have some people that you bring them in and say “there’s the pool, now look at it but not too hard. Remember we are tapering, so I’ll see you tomorrow.”


So I go back and tell them this is it, our big meet will be in early March, so the end of January we begin tapering. Two weeks later we go to a meet and the kids swim out of their minds. I went whoa, I’m going to be coach of the year this year-this is tremendous. A couple of kids even made their Junior cuts for the first time, and this was unshaved. Back then I wanted to control everything, so they were even still wearing nylon suits, we weren’t in our lycra meets yet and paper suits had yet to be invented. Four weeks later we get to the big meet and they shave down and put their lycra suits on. I just stood back and waited to see what was going to happen. Boy what a bad meet, we swam so slow. We swam slower than the first meet of the year, I could not believe it. But I had the answer, I knew it, I knew what we did wrong. We had not worked hard enough. So we got to the summer and I counted back. I had gone to Paul Bergens’ talk on Macro cycles and Micro cycles, still didn’t understand it but I knew you took your big meet and counted back from there, so that was what I did. I counted back six weeks.


We started early on our summer training, I told them we had not worked hard enough so we have to start real early so the day after Y Nationals we were back in the water and I pounded. We worked harder than I could have imagined. We start tapering six weeks out. So this time our last meet before the big meet was three weeks out instead of two weeks. We swam the same way as in the winter, hairy or as hairy as teenagers can be nylon suits still and again they swam fast. But this time I was just a little weary. I thought that this is what happened last, does history repeat itself. Well it sure does because we kept tapering and boy did we swim lousy.


I sat down at the end of this, completely discouraged, and I started thinking. I started realizing after a while, how many times do you get hit in the head before you decide to duck. I’m trying to taper my teenagers, a 106 pound 13 year old girls the way that Eddie was tapering 212 pound 21 year old men. And you can’t do it, it just does not work. One thing I learned this year was that 21 year old men can taper six weeks and keep getting faster. If I was to go back to club coaching, I would never ever do it.


Of course, and this is maybe my own little anecdote, now I had the answer. About a year later I moved on to another team in Joliet back in the early ’80’s. I had a young girl back then by the name of Lisa Rakoski. She was a very talented athlete; I like to call her a free spirit. I’m sure most of you have one of those free spirits on your team. Unfortunately we were getting to our big meet, back then it was the Schroeder AA meet in the end of January. This was the meet we were going to make all our cuts. Lisa was 12 years old, a week and a half before the meet she came down with strep. She missed an entire week of swimming. So I know that I have learned about this already, this was a girl and although she didn’t weigh only 106 pounds she was not a big girl. We had just missed a whole week of swimming so I figured that the Monday before the meet we will swim easy and get ready and we’ll just do the best we can. It was a great group of 12 & under girls back then, Michelle Griglione, Bridget Bowman, Kathy Isaacson who was the big star at that meet. So we go to the meet, we’re wearing lycra and some of the kids shaved but 12 year old girls don’t need to shave yet. She goes in and she breaks three National Age Group records. She went a :24.0 50 yard free, this is back in ’81, :53 in the 100 and :57 in the butterfly, and I go back wondering how can we be tapered we have to be over tapered. Then I went to a talk Dick Jochums’  gave and he talked about how anyone who thinks he knows all there is to know about tapering is either a liar or a fool. I know I’m not a liar although I know I can be foolish I don’t think I can be a fool. I realized that no matter what you ever know, how much you ever know, you can never know all there is to know about tapering. The individuals going to be different, the circumstances will be different, all the way through something will be different. So when you are tapering you need to look at each situation separately and that is why there is no hand out here. There is no set formula. If anything I don’t want to give you answers I want to give you the questions. I want to create the germ in your mind to grow into what you want to do, because your tapering has to be to you. When I was a club coach a year did not go by when I would have a former swimmer now in college call me up and say “all right Coach  its’

February, conference is in 3 weeks, how do I taper?” I would not have heard from them, they did not come home over Christmas; How do I taper? How do you know? There are so many things that goes into it.


Consideration factors: Age is a consideration. Generally I would say that as a swimmer gets older you want to taper them more. If you are tapering 12 & under right now – STOP! I’m not telling you not to rest them a little bit into the meet, but to me there is a big difference between the words taper and rest. Semantics with the way I deal with my team becomes very important. I want them to understand the words I am using. So if we are resting for the meet that is one thing. If I have a 12 & under I am going to rest them for the big meets, but you don’t want that 12 year old even if they are getting ready to make Juniors to think they should be going through the same taper that you want to taper your 18 year old with. A situation where for three weeks everything gets changed to get ready for the big meet. They need to keep working. The amount of work might change, definitely the amount of quality will change. As the athlete gets older the amount of rest will become greater. Sex has something to do with it, not having it but rather which one you are. Actually, I will go back a step. Having it does have something to do with it, or not having it. When we would hit taper time, I wouldn’t go that much in depth, I would talk to the swimmers if you are going to break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend please do it now, today. Not ten days from now. I don’t want to be standing in the middle of the taper shaking my head saying that I have done everything right, what is going on. Not knowing that you and your girl or boy friend are having a spat. You know how the teenagers are, they will go on about not being sure and allow it to linger on for a month like that, I will tell them to break up now. And you know how they all listen to us, we are gospel.


Generally men, and I use the word specifically of men and not boys, men will taper more. To me 13 and 14 year olds unless they are truly accelerated in maturity they will taper very similar. There will be some differentiation between it, not a lot for teenagers. You must realize that there will be some.


Their size, the bigger the larger the athlete the more they are going to need to rest. This all becomes related and that will come just a little bit later in the talk. The size of the athlete needs to be a factor. Even if it’s a distance swimmer, chances are that a large distance swimmer will taper more equivalent to a smaller female middle distance swimmer. While that really small female distance swimmer might begin tapering when she gets on the plane to go to the meet.

Training, now this is where it becomes crucial and this is where even in our own way of doing things we need to realize. The more anaerobic your training is, the more lactate production that occurs during your training, the longer you will need to taper. The more aerobic the less you will need to taper.


Duration of the season; when I was coaching in New York were my teams were not as heavily involved  in H.S. and we never tapered for High School back then, we would train from September through to the end of March [if we already have our cuts] I know that I will need a longer taper. When I moved down to Florida, the H.S. season is in the fall and this is a big meet and everyone is tapered and swims fast in it, we would start in September and the H.S. meet is the end of November. I’ve had two and a half to three months instead of eight months and I have to realize that the length of the taper will be different.


Drylands; strength training, I am not a big proponent for heavy weights for teenagers. However, the heavier the weights, the more the weights, the more you go to exhaustion in the weight room the more you will need to taper. Commensurately, the less you do the less you will need to taper.


The amounts, the number of practices, the amount of yardage, the amount of time per practice. If you are going eleven practices per week and another time you go only six practices per week that will change how much you will taper. If you are pushing 100,000 yards a week or 50,000 per week this will make a difference. Of course, the more you do the more you will taper.


I’m not trying to hawk one individual’s product, I do use Hytek, it is a great tool because now with the new edition you can not only get the total yardage for your team and you can do it by their groups but now you can do it by individual swimmers. You can keep track as to how much each person has done and then determine off of that how much you want to taper.


Next is the reason for tapering. Is this the big meet in the middle of the season? A lot of us have that, one for me was the Schroeder AA meet when I was in Joliet. Are you tapering for cuts, personally I don’t want to make my cuts and then go to nationals three weeks later and swim slow. I want to be at least as fast as we were. So this is where these terms come in, the difference of tapering and resting. When I’m resting mid-season for the big meet, or whether I am tapering at the end of the season for nationals. And then there is also the need to realize the fact that we are dealing with teenagers. When I am tapering someone for Olympic Trials and they are 23 years old and this is one of their last two meets of their career, then I’m coming all the way down and leaving nothing to chance. When I am tapering an athlete for spring Juniors and they are only 14 years old and they are not even mid-way through their career, I’m going to realize that this one meet is only one stepping stone. If we taper three times a year, every single year, hard core types of taper, eventually the progress slows, stops and then goes backwards. So you have to start tapering a little bit less, with the idea that each one such as spring Nationals is a stepping stone to summer Nationals. You don’t want to all over from scratch again.


The type of meet that you are tapering for. I’m tapering for a High School meet, three events in one day. Only two swimmers swimming the 500 and no one else racing over a 200. We would come all the way down for that. I’m tapering for the USS state meet, the marathon meet. They are supposed to be tapered and they are expected to go 21 events in three days. How much are you going to taper that person. Actually, the meet itself should be a taper, the athletes should be getting stronger all the way through. Then there is Nationals where you might be tapering for four events over five days; which events? which days? I have heard people who I greatly respect, and I am not denying what they said, they tell me that you cannot taper for the 800 meter freestyle and swim the 1500 well five days later. So you have to decide which one of those two you would taper for, then let everything else sort of fall in place.


This is where we will all get confused. We know that it will be different if you are training long course versus short course. What about training long course to compete short course, training short course to compete long course, all these will affect what you do. Basically I will taper more to swim short course than long course. For all of you who have stood at the side of the pool, at the 75 or l75 mark and could see the swimmers head pick up in long course with the look of isn’t there supposed  to be a damn wall around here somewhere, you know what I am talking about. Corning home in the races long, course becomes a much greater priority than short course. In short course you might be more willing to send them out fast, to hold on and use that last wall. Same situation if I have been training long course to compete short course I might taper more, but If I have been training short course to swim a long course meet I will taper less than if I was training long course to swim a long course meet. The reason is that it is harder, 60,000 meters versus yards, the 60,000 meters has put more tax on the body. So if I trained long course to compete long course I will taper more than if I trained short course.


One thing I want to throw in here to support something that Denny Pursley has talked about, when you are done tapering don’t take a week off. Come back to work for a week or two of good training. Get them back up, back into the flow, then take your break. Right now we go and rest one, two or three weeks-colleges five, six or seven weeks, into the big meet then we first take two weeks off. Now you are anywhere from a month and a half to two and a half to three months since hard training. The swimmers are so detrained they are not even starting at point zero, but rather at minus four. Especially if you are going from the short course season into a shorter long course season, then you don’t want them to become that detrained. You don’t have enough time to come back up and go back down.


A little more into the nitty gritty of it all. First of all I generally look at a three week taper. The first week is called pre-taper and I explain that to the swimmers. These are just things that I have developed or understood or liked. Never introduce anything new in the final three weeks. Don’t try to teach them that great new start that you learned at a clinic in those final three weeks. The last three weeks is not the time to start sprinting your athletes to give them speed, or teaching them how to do broken swims.


We go through a gradual decrease in yardage. Three weeks out, this is almost universal of any meet I would be going after, we are still working hard but I am not trying to break them down so that they cannot recover within a day. We will develop more things that will create race rehearsal. We would get on the side of the pool and I will tell them to go single heats to go a 200 swim in their stroke, not for speed but for race. We will give the race prep, naming them off by lanes through a simulated start. They will get real excited, even I get  excited.


Introduce special team taper traditions. I didn’t do this a lot when I was first in Joliet but one of the things we did a few times, there was a film once made by the YMCA. We would be tapering as a group for Y Nationals, the film showed Y Nationals. In Joliet there would be snow on the ground and minus 2 degrees and here is everyone in T shirts, tan, the sun, there were also some scenes in there with our team or banner pictured. This would get them excited and I felt we were ready. Then I really got into this when I got down to Sarasota. In the winter we would go down to the beach three weeks out and build our sand shark. This was a big deal, the entire team would come down and the parents would make a breakfast. A 30 foot sand sculpture of a shark, we would  paint it and build a rim around it. I always thought we should put up a sign and ask for donations, but we never did that. It was really something, kids would come in to get their picture taken with the sand shark. The other thing we did down there was tanning time. At the beginning of practice for 20 minutes, tanning time, that was our team tapering tradition. I don’t know how many of you know the Sarasota swimmers or girls especially, they are known for being tan and infamous for hiking up their suits higher than anyone in the meet so of course they would have to wear their regular beach suits so they didn’t have awful tan lines when they would get to the meet. It is really good to have some type of team tradition so that when you start doing this the swimmers know they are at taper time. Even if they don’t come down a lot in work it is in their minds that they are getting ready.


In terms of the work, this next part delineates it a little bit more, in terms of the work we will come down very gradually. For a big meet I like to do more of a gradual rest. For the mid-season meet if I am trying to get a swim from someone I will go more for a drop taper. Three days or four days with nothing hard. I find the success with that a little less consistent. So I have always enjoyed the gradual resting better. One to two weeks out, and I am using one to two because there are some swimmers where they are so young you are only looking at a one week taper. Somewhere in the one to two week out we are looking to the decreasing both the quality and the quantity of work. We will do pace work, and if it is two weeks out we will do a lot more than if we were in a one week situation. I will do a lot of drill, go back to the basics of the teaching progression we had done in the beginning. I won’t take a swimmer and breakdown their stroke two weeks out and tell them something like “I can’t believe your entering your hand like that”. Everything has to be positive on what you are telling your swimmers. We will go back because my belief is that if I’ve taught them the drills well enough and the drills in the first place taught them to do the strokes well, then this will help them regain whatever little finesse they might have lost in that stroke. By the way, I believe I first heard this from Dick Jochums, a swimmer comes up to you in the middle of taper and says “I feel great coach” you say “alright, we’re one week out and that is exactly how you are supposed to feel.” The next swimmer comes up and says “Coach, I have never felt this bad” the coach says ” alright you are right where you’re supposed to be, if you really felt great I would be worried.” Now of course you are shaking your head, and I always remember this because Dick talked about how your standing there shaking your head saying “what am doing” and getting tense. Then you go home and yell at the dog and kick your wife. Personally I always wondered what I would do, I generally lived alone, with a roommate, it was my Age Group coach Sherwood Watts who was 6’3″ and 200 lbs., who am I going to kick. Well when I got married my wife had a second degree black belt in karate and while she is not that big, I am still in the same boat. Anyway, when you are talking to the athlete everything has to be positive.


Personally I am at a point where I abhor the idea that you have to feel great. Some of my athlete’s greatest swims have come from the athletes who went through the taper feeling lousy. As they are growing, at 16 years old they are not the same as they were at 14 years, we all try to change our training a little each season, so their feeling is going to be a little different each time. I am not saying not to listen to your athletes, definitely do that. Definitely try to learn and judge and use that TLC that you know better, no one will know your athletes as well as you. Whenever I have received new athletes because a family moves and the athlete joins my club, invariably more than feeling great the athlete will complain about feeling lousy, and they will usually tell me that they always felt great. I will always ask them how they swam after they tapered, you would be surprised at how often they would look at you and say “actually I didn’t do my best”. You just look at the athlete at tell them “see, you shouldn’t be feeling great”. Most important is that you have to keep everything positive.


My favorite work to do during taper time is working on tempo and distance per stroke. Again this is not original, actually I got this from a swimmer who is now a coach who learned this from his college coach back then. What we work on is a series doing it by working drills, then tempo, then what I call DPS or distance per stroke and then SYNC for synchronization. You are synchronizing the tempo and the distance per stroke to try and attain the feeling of your race stroke. I have a myriad of ways to put these drills together, and I will differentiate this between sprinters and distance swimmers. I will do this by 25’s, 25 yards stroke drill, 25yd. DPS, 25 yd. tempo, 25 yd. sync., 25 yd. swim. That equals 100 yards, and we will do this maybe taking 10 seconds at each wall. We will do sets of 50’s where we go drill down tempo back, drill down DPS back, and then one or two 50′ s synchronized. My middle distance would go a set of 12 x 50 where they would go one 50 synchronized and the IM’rs would go one set in each stroke. The distance swimmers would swim 16 x 50 and go two 50’s synchronized. The sprinters would be doing the 25’s on the side, they would be looking at the water hard, but not too hard. We will work more at this point, two weeks out, on turns and finishes. Mostly to work the little kinks and to keep them remembering how to finish hard. I do believe that these are things you have to work on during the season. I don’t believe you learn how to do a turn jumping off the bottom seven yards away from the wall. You learn how to do it, you don’t learn how to do it off the seventh wall that way. You have to do it off the seventh wall in the seventh 200 during practice, then you have learned how to do the turn. There is nothing wrong in working with it, the athletes come to expect it – that’s part of their knowledge of when they are tapering because they are working on turns and finishes.


One week out, we will work pace work and I insist that all the distance and middle distance do their entire pace work even splitting. I will always try to develop an idea of where I feel they should be in their pace and then I will add 2 seconds to it. I want this girl to break 5 minutes in the 500 and that’s holding better than minutes. So I want her to be somewhere around that minute mark and I know that she could do that right now on a set of 5 x 100 on the 1:20. So I will tell her to hold around 1:02’s, she will be even splitting minutes and feeling great and I know that she is doing what I want but to her she has achieved a little more and will believe in herself just a little more. I feel you always give them the correct times, I don’t believe in lying to the athletes when they are coming in, when they come in and it is 10.0 again you don’t tell them 9.9. We will do nothing broken in the last week, nothing. I have too often had coaches come over on the deck and say to me to watch this kid, we did three broken 100’s in the last two days and they were :47 butterfly every single time. This is a 13 year old girl, I’ II sit there and say to myself that this is one person I don’t have to worry about. Because she just left all of her best swims in preparation for the meet. This talk is not about warm up, I will not talk about leaving your best swims in warm up. No broken swims, now I am talking about all out efforts. If you are going to do a 200, with 10 seconds at each 50, trying to work a feel to the race. Or even on 15 seconds rest trying to get your race pace, you want the girl to be a sub 2 minute freestyler so you want her to hold :29.8 on 15 seconds rest, that would be fine. But if you are pushing her to go a l :54 broken one week out, she will leave her best swims there.


I will work to refine in the strokes the little things, unless I see something really wrong that must be corrected. I will be on the side, such as on backstrokers telling them to get their thumbs over or get the finish of the stroke. The little things that they can do without any trouble. Also turns and finishes, we will refine them, not spend time on them. Don’t go in, one week out, and say let’s learn how to do starts and then work a half hour  on them. You should just work a few of them. If you want to ]earn relay exchanges, do that mid-season. Don’t be out there for an hour working exchanges for an hour two days before the meet.


Now we will get even more in depth. I am giving you a general over view of how I see it in terms of the actual break down. It will change a little bit every season, according to what I am doing. This is for a club team. One thing is that I rest everyone together, and this would be explained to them in other talks. I explain at the beginning and mid-season, as well as prior to the taper and once or twice during the taper. I try to taper the club team individually between sprinters, middle distance and distance. It is nothing major, as I will show you, but it is just enough of a difference for the athlete physically and more importantly every one becomes convinced that you are resting them at what is best for them. If you are resting them the same and in the meet you will swim four swimmers in the 50 and three swimmers in the 1650 and everyone is resting the same we all realize that one group will click and the other group will be either over or under rested. But more important again is what their mental attitude is.


So, three weeks out distance swimmers are going doubles. Figuring that one double days they were going about 12-15,000 yards, I would maintain 12-15,000. On single days 8- I 0,000. I would decrease at that point how much quality they are going, so that they are recovering from practice to practice. They should still feel tired at the end of practice, and the sets should be designed to create as much work as you can without breaking them down so that they cannot recover. Two weeks out, we will be down to 10-12,000. It is not that we would go 12,000 the first double day and then 10,000 the next. We might go 10 on Monday, 11 on Wednesday and still go 12 on Friday. All season long I work with computers and have them all written out. Even before I had a computer I loved working with paper practices, the athletes learn to hate them but I love them. I enjoy it being structured so I can do different things, I am not the kind of coach who can keep 6 different things going in my head at one time. I know my limitations so I tried to work around it. At taper time I am not saying I shoot from my hip, I come in knowing what I want to accomplish but I do it more by what is going on at that moment. If I see the swimmers are really tired, then I need to change what we are doing. But there will be 10-12 on double days and 7-8 on single days. One week out we will be going about 10,000 on double and 6,000 on single days. Remember how much they are going to warm up, race, and warm down in the course of their meets. This is going to vary if the swimmer is getting ready for a 500 at a HS meet that would be totally different. I am looking more at teenagers going to a Nationals or State Championship were they are not swimming 21 times, although if they are going to a meet like that maybe the entire team needs to rest this way. I am thinking that I am trying to get the swimmer ready for the 1650.


Middle distance; if they are training 12,000 and above, three weeks out they are going 10-12 on double days and 6,000 on single. Two weeks out 8-10, on single practices about 5,000 and one week out about 6,000 on double and 4,000 on single. If they are going to warm up about 2,000 to get ready for the race, swim the 500 and then loosen down about 1,000 that is 3,500. That is with nothing else in between or before, or your decision that they went out to fast and they have to loosen down even more because they tied up at the end and have to swim finals at night.


Sprinters; I am talking about teenage club swimmers. Sprinters who will go the 50, l 00 probably the 200 and also the relays. Not college sprinters who swim the 50 and then ask for the lap counters for the 100. Double days they are still going 7-9,000. Remember that is only a 4 and 5,000 practice maybe in 75 to 90 minutes. Single days going about 4,000. Two weeks out between 5-7000 on the double, single about 3,000. One week out about 5,000 and 2,500 for the single. To me a sprinter is someone who swims the 50 as a main event. That is how I determine their group, I try to determine what their main event is. A distance swimmer is someone who swims the mile as their main event. In my six lane pool, lane one is my sprinters, lane six the distance swimmers and everything else is middle distance.


Question: You don’t drop the double practices? Answer: If I am going to a trial and final meet I rarely will drop the doubles. If! am going to a one swim only, which has not happened that often, but when it has I will drop the doubles one week out.


The weights generally three weeks out we are still lifting. Again, I never take them to lift very hard as teenagers, so we are doing the weights moderately. They are working but not going to the point of exhaustion. Two weeks out we would do light type of work. One week out the girls and young boys are still doing something in the weight room. We will decrease the number of exercises, we will decrease the number of repetitions, we will decrease the amount of weight but they are still in the weight room. From the studies I have read in the past, and some of this is older, but my knowledge is that within 48 hours we start losing strength in girls. So I don’t want to spend 7 – 8 days off of weights. I have


done that and what I have seen is that I start losing strength and power and we start having athletes tell me that they feel weak. That is one of the things that scare me, if the athletes feels their breaststroke is off I can correct that, but two days out they feel weak what am I to do. So we do what I call it “light weights”. The bigger boys are doing nothing, especially if they are sprinters and middle distance. If you are going to a Friday, Saturday and Sunday meet, then Monday of that week would be their last weight session. Very light, maybe three upper body or three lower body or really one upper body, sit-ups, lower back and two lower body and that is all they do. Done in twenty minutes and that is only because they take ten minutes to talk between every exercise.


Typical type of one of these practices; you do their warm up similar to how you want them to warm up at the meet. Nothing wrong with spending two to three weeks getting them used to how you want them to warm up at the meet. When I am warming up, middle distance and distance swimmers would go a 300 swim, 200 kick, 300 pull, 200 drill; that is a 1.000. The sprinters I would give a variation of 200 swim, 150 kick, 200 pull, 150 drill. Usually the sprinters will take more time than the distance swimmers to do that. Then we would go our pull set, we will go 8 reps and the sprinters will go 75’s, 100’s for the middle distance and 125’s for the distance swimmers and everyone goes on the I:30. This way everyone is going together, we are just varying the distances. When I am pulling in taper I will allow the athletes to wear what they are most comfortable with, in season if it is a paddle-buoy-strap set then everyone wears it. If we are pulling in taper with paddles and someone really does not want to wear them, they don’t have to. Then a kick set, middle distance and distance might go 10 x 50’s on 1:00, sprinters might go 8 x 50’s on 1:10. Everything is descending, and something like this I might say to descend about 85% effort, not hard. The kids learn the difference between hard and fast, those are different words to me. Then we will do a drill set similar to what I have explained to you. Maybe 16 x 50 on 1:10 gong drill-DPS, drill-tempo, then two synchronization for the distance group. Middle distance goes 12 x 50’s x 1:20 and sprinters might do the same or might have a slightly different set. Then we get to the main body of the day or that practice. Distance swimmers might go 7 x 100 on 1:20 to work pace that means they have to even split these. They will be working pace on the odd and the even are easy, just make the sendoff. Something I enjoy long course more is going an 800 with all the even 100’s at pace. When I say pace I will tell them I want them to work their pace they don’t have to be at race pace. A lot of times I will give them  heart rates to work at, tell them to be at 140. I want to know they are working and yet not hurting themselves. Middle distance would possibly do a set going 3 x 50 x 1:00, again they are racing their race stroke on that. They want to feel the stroke they will want to feel in the meet. I will check their tempo, I want the backstrokers at 1.2 or 1.3 if that would be their meet tempo. Then they would go a 100 easy, then 2 x 50 x I:30 and here I might tell them to work race pace. If this would be a girl breaststroker who wants to go 1:08 then I want her to go :34’s. We will then go a 100 easy then a 50 from a dive and feel like you are going out to that 100 breaststroke or a 200 butterfly. We will time it, but I will tell them we are not looking for them to be as fast as they should be in a meet. Mainly because we are not at the meet, we are not fully tapered or shaved and they might be wearing two bathing suits. They might be faster, don’t worry about that at that point. Don’t tell them that it was not fast enough and they have to do it again. If you feel you are not getting out of that practice what you wanted, work it into the next practice what you want to get.


Sprinters might go a set, this is someone trying to go a Junior or Senior National 50 free time, we will go 2 x 50’s either with paddles or with fins. I like them feeling fast, this year I watched a lot of swimmers work with sprint assisted swims. Jim Steen is developing a machine that would give you an even pace drawing the swimmer in, even from as far away as 50 meters. I am real interested in seeing that when it is perfected. We did a lot of swimming in on surgical tubing, they would walk themselves down tied to the tubing. They would carry a kick board as they walked, against their butt. I did not understand until they told me how many times they had broken and people would get smacked in the butt. Another problem was when some of the smaller girls would jump in tied to the cords, the cords had been shortened over the years since they have been breaking, a few times they would jump in and not grab onto the wall. They would have to climb out and try again. This would be a real job for them, but when they do swim back they would be sprint assisted and feel speed. Nothing sprinters like more than feeling speed. A true distance swimmer thrives on hearing that same time five times in a row, but the sprinters need to feel speed. I find that with paddles and fins also. If they are wearing fins, however, I don’t want them to do flips. I will do mainly 25′ s if we are in a short course pool. I tell them I want it fast but not hard, It might take them a while, but they realize there is a difference. Then we would go a 100 easy, and then 2 x 25’s from a start working a race pace to their feet. If it is a girl who wants to go :23.9, and that means she would have to flip at 11.1 feet on the wall. Knowing that I don’t start the same way the clock starts, I usually start when they take off, I want them around 11.3 or 11.2 or even 11.1 at their feet. I might let them go a little bit harder in the sense of hard not just fast.


This whole thing together, before our little loosen down at the end. the distance swimmers would have gone 4,100, the middle distance 3.400 and the sprinters would have gone 2,500. For the bulk of the practice they would have worked together and that is what I like. I want them to be a team. In all my years as a club coach, very little of that time was spent with a senior assistant coach. I was the coach, 40 kids. you really have to coordinate to have it work well and come together. I would use this kind of concept, or a variation off of this. I would usually make on a Tuesday my next two days practices, but then after Wednesday morning, see what I wanted to do and maybe change some of it. The question was asked about keeping up doubles, a lot of that differs as to where  I am at. Some places I have been too I can work a 6:30 morning practice which is not as bad as places where I would need to run a 5:00am practice. If it is 5:00 I might start cutting them out. I also might cut down on the time, I would begin by starting later and also at the upper end. That is the basic of how I view and work with it.


One other thing is that I do use a percentage to judge the success of the taper. In a club situation I would shoot for a minimum of 80% if not best time then 80% of the swimmers going a best time, but my goal more were 80% best times. Less than that and I spend nights trying to search out why. Unlike some elite coaches that have surprised me in their attitude that it is always the athlete, I really believe that it is us. You might have an athlete who have made the wrong choices or has been sick all year, which is not your fault. I will start off looking within myself at what I did. Not that I am a bad person, but that I was a bad coach because we did not swim fast enough. Below 80% and I question it, above 90% I give myself a present. In 1980 I was at Eastern Queens, a four lane pool with an hour and a half a day, I got my first Olympic Trial qualifier in one of the best meets we ever had-everyone swam fast. I went out, I needed one anyway, but I bought a car. I recommend that, I got that out of a talk I once attended at a clinic in Chicago. People, pat yourself on the back. Set goals and if you reach those goals give yourself a gift, take vacations some gift or present.

Questions: What can you do if you have tapered for a High School Championship and then want to taper again for a YMCA National?


Answer: That relates to what Stu Isaac said last night about w hat we say to ourselves. I believe that I train my swimmers well enough that we can taper twice. If I am going to blow it, it will probably be both times, not just once. That comes back to the difference in semantics, we will rest for the High School and then taper for the final meet. Not because I would decide that the YMCA was more important, but you have to decide which one is your big meet. You just reminded me that I never believe in ending your season on a slow note. If the High School is your primary meet and you want to go to Florida for a vacation, go for the vacation and not to the meet to swim slow. I go along with the adage “you are only as good as your last swim” and !just don’t believe in ending the season on a slow note. So my entire taper for the High School meet was for one week and then Monday morning we are right back in hard work. You would build your mini season for four weeks into that next championship.



I am always learning in tapering. that is one small part of it. The day I know everything that I need to about tapering I will get out of coaching because my years of coaching well are over at that point.




Teaching Backstroke by Ira Klein (1994)       

Teaching Backstroke by Ira Klein (1994)          

Coach Klein is currently the Assistant Men’s and Women’s Swimming Coach at Auburn University. Previous to this position, Coach Klein spent 18 years coaching clubs around the country. He was the Assistant Women’s Coach at the 1994 Goodwill Games, the Head Coach for the North Team at the 1994 Olympic Festival and an Assistant Coach at the 1991 Olympic Festival. In 1988 Coach Klein was named the YMCA National Coach of the Year. Ira served two terms 011 the ASCA Board of Directors as well as being a Past President and founder of the YMCA Swim Coaches Association.


We will be talking today about backstroke, It is indeed an honor to be speaking here at the World Coaches Clinic. I hope I can impart just a little of what I have received from talks that I have attended, the talk today is supposed to be on backstroke, and it will be. When I first talked with John about giving this talk, we talked about speaking on backstroke. Then I looked later and saw it written up as backstroke for age groupers then as I walked in I saw the sign said backstroke for young swimmers. When I work with backstroke, I have a conceptual idea of what I want to do with it. It does not matter whether I am working with 12 & under, either national record holders or C swimmers or the swimmers I have coached at the Olympic Trials or here at Auburn University, Backstroke is backstroke, I don’t believe it will change because the swimmer has gotten older or because they are younger. I am not claiming originality of ideas. Everything I try to do or use most of it I have stolen from someone else. It is the way I try to visualize it or put it together myself. The reason I have done a little more in backstroke goes back to my beginning at the Eastern Queens YMCA, we had four lanes and 80 minutes per night in the pool. We would give one lane to the age group program and three lanes to the senior program. We did not have a lot of room, and since I liked having the swimmers see me as much as possible back then I would just train them on their backs. That way I could always see them and they could see me on the end of the board directing them.


We are starting off with, and if you did not get a handout you can still follow along, the first thing is to explain to the athlete a break down in the stroke, Now I will go more in depth here, but I do want the athlete to understand what we will be looking for. As I give them corrections it is not just words like do this, but I can tell them I want you to do this and they understand why I want it done.


The first thing we work on when we break down the stroke is body position. The feet, head and hips – everything must be in alignment. Most of this will be worked on originally doing 25’s and kicking drills. Eventually the actual position we will want will change slightly, but we start off working with the position in a straight line flat, wanting the toes and the hip bone at the surface. Most of our kicking is with the hands over the head, normal position. When we are doing the kicking we are talking about pushing the hip bone past the surface. Novice and your weaker backstrokers will have a tendency to sit down, in the position with the butt and hips dropping. You have to push past that, have them push their head back, this is one area where I will look more at what is best for the individual, and I like my backstrokers swimming with a higher head and shoulder position. However, if I have a swimmer sitting down in the water, breaking the hips, then I will have them push the hips back up and the head back slightly. I do feel that having the hips up are more important than having the head up. Now if I can get them to bring that lower back into the upper back and get them to rise up, hold the shoulders higher and the head a little higher; that is my ultimate goal. But if those hips are dropping the head and shoulders go back §O that hip bone comes back up to the surface.


In the kick, we work for a very steady and shallow kick, I will tell the kids to boil the water. I will want to see those bubble trailing behind, this is the idea of kicking with the hands up over your head or down at your side. I have worked more in the hands up position, when I tried having them put the hands down they started having the tendency to sit down again in the water. I want them to keep working the body position, so most of the kicking unless it is in a specific drill is done with the arms over the head. If the hands are down in the position by the hips, then they would be mostly working for sculling the hands at the end of their stroke and still working the kicking. And if we want, to work for rotation of the hips and shoulder. So if their arms are down I am going to talk to them about rotating the body. If their arms are up I don’t want them to try to rotate because from that position you cannot rotate easily without dropping something improperly. So if they are up above they will stay still, hips up and boil those feet in front of you. Even if I am working with the college athlete, it might not be that simplistic but it is still the same goal in what I will look for them to do.


The band entry, I believe that within our strokes we need to have a vision and work within that and realize each athlete is different. Pinky entry is one of the few things I don’t believe you can do differently and still truly succeed in backstroke. You can all go and see swimmers get to Nationals and swim where their thumb slaps back and they are slapping the water. Every time I have to listen to that my shoulders inch up and I cringe at it. But they are slapping at the water and some people actually come the entire way back, thumb first. There was even a backstroker, by the name of Tom Szuba, years ago in the early 70’s. He swam backstroke entering with the shoulder and elbow at right angle. But you want the arm straight up, pinky must go in first. If you come in with the thumb back and the back of your hand lying down, what will happen is they have entered the water with the palm up and you first have to turn the hand to get into position to hold the water. This is time they don’t need to waste. If they are doing this they are changing some other part of their stroke so they are not swimming catch up backstroke which they sometimes wind up doing. I generally tell them that if they are having a problem it usually is coming from the very end. What happens is they are trying to accelerate in and they think that throwing the thumb back is acceleration. The other problem is that once the thumb is back and the palm is up they have cut down on the amount of rotation and drive from the shoulder that they can get. From the pinky down position you can drive deeper into the water than you can with the palm facing up. The next thing is that upon entry they must have a deep catch. The entry is straight up from the shoulder. Sometimes I will go slightly in from the shoulder, but I don’t want the entry near the head. I want them both straight up from the shoulder.


In the stroke pattern you work a bent arm stroke. Once they have entered, they have entered the water behind them, they grab the water and bring it through and their elbows bend. I tell them to point the elbows down, I want it pointing to the bottom of the pool, and I want you to rotate over the elbow so it comes up and over as the hands moving outside the body. You don’t want them to come inside; it is not a straight pull down. It is really a rotation over and through to the side. So they have entered deep and I get them to go deep on that catch and it actually grabs the water and comes slightly up and they are actually working a pattern going up and down on it. The elbow has to rotate so you are getting the entire arm into it, the lats and the back and all the other muscles, no different than in freestyle. I will explain this to them. The best freestylers will swim their stroke getting their elbow up, the same thing we want them to do in backstroke only upside down.


The rotation is coming over but the stroke must be constant. The big problem here, I talk about band acceleration. Two concepts I try to get through is hip rotation and hand acceleration. But as they try to accelerate very often they are accelerating and they turn that thumb back again, after entry and they start slipping through the water. In the middle of the stroke you watch them moving through the water they are trying to recapture their hold upon the water. I call it slip – sliding away, I start thinking about Paul Simons song as I start talking to them. You don’t want to slip-slide through the water; you want to hold onto it. At that point if they are having this problem, I will slow them down. I will tell them that I don’t want them to accelerate the stroke and I will put a paddle on just one hand so they are only thinking about that one hand. We will work on grabbing that water and moving it through all the way to the bottom holding onto the water the entire length. Normally I will tell them that they need to bring their thumb up, because the reason they are slipping is because their thumb is coming back and the pinky starts leading through.


The acceleration must be constant. If you have not read Dr. Counsilman’s’ paper from about 16 years ago on Hand Speed Acceleration, go back to an old clinic year book because this article is a must. Hand speed acceleration, the hand gets faster from the front to the back at a constant rate. They can’t slowdown in the middle and then speed up; they will be just like a wheel on ice. The idea is that you do not want loosing that feel of the water. Acceleration starts off slow and gets faster all the way through the stroke to the very end.


The stroke must be symmetrical. Both arms have to do the same thing in the stroke. Film the swimmers under water and you will find more than half the swimmers, regardless of anything else of what is right or wrong in the stroke, are doing one thing with their left arm and something different with their right. Right arm stays in and left arm goes out; left arm finishes outside and the right arm at the thigh. It must be symmetrical, so you need to develop the concept of where you want the stroke to be and then work to get both arms the same.


Stroke tempo, I work more with backstroke on this and probably the distance freestylers, although at Auburn we do this with all the athletes. We talk to them about the tempo of the strokes, I have done this all different ways, using the watches that determine the tempo on 1, 2 or 3 stroke cycles giving you the number of strokes per minute, but with backstrokers I have found it easier using the time frame for one stroke cycle. If you look at the top eight swimmers in an event as the 200 meter backstroke, they are maintaining a cycle somewhere between 1.15 seconds and  l.30 seconds for the entire 200. The difference will be that as they get to the end of the race their tempo will get faster not slower. For some reason backstrokers will train comparatively at a slower tempo and will have a hard time picking up the tempo in their race and hold that tempo through their race. That is something that we work on to go along in the season, learn to use a better tempo and to hold it longer.


Hand sculling, the top and the bottom of the stroke is essentially a scull. You enter here and go to grab the water and you actually scull, you are not pushing out or pulling in any sense. This is all a scull. At the bottom when you are getting towards the end, you are not pushing through or down you are sculling the water at the end of the stroke. I will in all different fashions do things to work the sculls at both ends at the same time, down at the bottom, up on top – feet out front trying to push you forward just sculling. When your swimmers can start really moving fast down the pool, both hands up on top with feet forward, when they start swimming backstroke that grab on top and the scull will be much more effective.


The finish and exit of the stroke, I have been a very big proponent over the years that the stroke must finish at the thigh just at the bottom of the leg. I spent some time at Colorado Springs going over films with Jane Cappaert who is the acting Administrative Head, and in the films both Zubero and Carey characteristically finish their strokes away from their body and then scull the hand to the exit. Sculling in a way so they are getting momentum and propulsion out of this motion. Now that is Zubero and Carey, Jane agreed with me that it would be improper to try to teach young people or any one unless it comes natural. I am not saying you can’t, because I have not tried it and if you do it please let me know about it. Right now, in our strokes we try to finish the hand at the end, getting right to the thigh. If we are having a problem with it I will tell them to touch the bottom of the thigh with their thumb. More for young swimmers or even some of the college IM’rs that I worked with, they were having a problem with backstroke and getting it in and accelerating to the end, I talk to them about throwing a fast ball. When a pitcher throws a fast ball he follows all the way through, accelerating and then just releases it. Now the body follows through, but the pitcher doesn’t take the ball and hold onto it so that he throws it down. I try to relate this over to the water, accelerating through bringing it to the thigh and release it there. When you come out of the water I prefer thumb first exit, I will accept pinky first if they finish the thumb down and come up pinky leading by the thigh. I will tell them to finish and exit thumb first so that they will not finish below the thigh and then push the entire hand against the water. Besides the energy they don’t need to waste, if they are doing this they will be pushing the shoulder down and I want the shoulder up. So on the finish we talk about getting down to the end, come up thumb first and as you are recovering by the time you are at 45 degrees [arm to the body] I want it to be pinky first, then we are back to the entry where I want the pinky entry. If they are having a problem with the thumb coming back on the entry I have a drill where I tell them I want them to put the palm on the water first. I want you to put your hand so far around that the palm touches first. The first time you do this with your athletes they will actually enter at the put angle for a correct entry. You will have to explain that the palm is pushed away from the body with the thumb actually pushing to the outside of the hand upon entry. You can tell them to go wide of the body, and then continue to get them to push the thumb away. Even as you work this, as your athletes continue to work towards a picture perfect entry they will still swear that they are entering wide with the palm on the water first. The problem is that while I am happy to see them swim the backstroke correctly, as long as they believe that this is their drill of over exaggeration they are still not going to learn the stroke. I will stay on them until they are able to do the drill the way it is intended, with the palm touching first. We will do things like three right arm strokes and then three left arm strokes and then three cycles, working to be perfect. This will not happen the first or second time you try to teach it to the group, but then one or two will get it and then entire group will begin to understand it. But again, this is done as a drill so that I can eventually get the pinky in first with the arm straight up from the shoulder without the thumb slapping back or the hand slipping through the water.


In the arm recovery we work for a straight arm recovery. I want them to reach through this phase, I have had athletes who try to pull the arm in from both the elbow  and the shoulder. I will tell there is this pot of gold just out of reach, but reach the best you can for it. From the shoulder has to be held high out of the water as long as they can. When they are recovering you don’t want them to be flat like a barge against the water, you want the arm up high with the shoulder out of the water, the hip is rotated up and the arm is recovering over. One of the key things here, as you watch better backstrokers, is how long the shoulder stays up. The better backstrokers keep that shoulder up longer throughout recovery. Even while their hand and arm is recovering past the 45 degree mark, they have not flattened out the body yet. This is not only going to give them a more streamlined body in the water, but as they are finishing the opposite arm it gives them a better torque from the hip rotation as they finish. In explaining torque I will change how in depth from the basic concept of hip rotation since a ten year old will grasp one level and a 20 year old more.


When I start working with them I won’t go as deep about the understanding of the stroke as I have just done. I will go into the pinky entry, arm straight up and according to what I am trying to convey to them will have a lot to do with their age and ability. We talk a lot about stroke count and even more about stroke rate. The one thing that I do, that will get the most out of each backstroker, is stroke tempo. As I force them to improve their stroke tempo, they improve tremendously. If you start timing your swimmers you will see that they swim at a 1.8 or higher stroke tempo per cycle. That is too slow, they cannot succeed at that speed and they have to get that time down. If Jeff Rouse who stands about 6′ 2″ or 6′ 3″, if he can swim at the end of his race at a tempo of  1.0 something then our little 5′ 2″ girls can definitely swim at 1.2.


Sculling drills, I have developed a big interest in sculling and the way the hand moves through the water.  I explained a little bit about it where you start off sculling your hand both at the bottom and the top of the stroke. This is about where you are at as you are finishing each arm stroke. We do a sculling drill that I also use for body positioning, the first time they go down the lap the arms are at the side just sculling down. The next lap I tell the athletes to pick up their heads a little bit, as it progresses through I will have them over kicking, sitting up, sculling and holding their shoulders up with their backs completely out of the water. However, their hips still must be up at the surface. It is not a matter of getting the shoulders and head up by sitting down but rather keeping the hips at the surface and bringing the upper body to a more upright position. Then I will tell them to relax their position back and invariably you will see that they never go all the way back to where they were.  We can work this as 25’s as a progression of three or four and you can build this into drills or into swim sets you might be working on. In body positioning the head must remain still as they are swimming, not moving back and forth. To teach a college swimmer who moves their head around to change is a little harder since most of the games or gimmicks which I know seem a little childish. With the age groupers you can take their goggles and put them on their head and to swim down and not lose the goggles. They can put some water in them as they sit on the head and they have to still have that water in it when they get to the end. With real little kids I used to play by putting a penny on it and tell them that if they get to the end and the penny is still there they get to keep it, but a penny doesn’t motivate 8 year old any more. The shoulder lift, the shoulder must come up, we will do drills where they scull down at the top of the stroke and they will lift their hip and the shoulder out of the water and have to pull down the pool and then they will switch sides. The idea is to learn how to hold the hip and shoulder up longer through the stroke and recovery. The longer they will hold the hip in position and the shoulder up the more force they will get at the very end when they want the torque and the speed at the end of the stroke. Most of your young backstrokers will swim the stroke flat, the body will never move, it is just a barge going through the water. This is a very difficult drill to do, it is very difficult to scull and hold the body up. When we first starting working on it we did this with fins on, to give that little extra propulsion while they are trying to get through. And then try to get the fins off. Usually only the best backstrokers can do this long course.


Some of the stroke drills we will work: Single arm is one of my favorite and I will throw this into our training sessions as well. It can be a 25 right arm and 25 left or it could be 3 right, 3 left and one full cycle. Or I right, 1 left 3 cycles; 2 right, 2 left, 2 cycles; 3 right, 3 left 1 cycle. I like making them think while they are doing this. Double arm I work with more for the understanding of the pinkies coming through in the stroke. They come out for recovery and then they touch the back of their hands and then separate for the entry outside the body. Touch and pull, kids hate this one so I do it a lot. The arms start off at somewhere between the 45 and 90 degree position to the body, they are kicking and they recover one hand, then enter the water, stroke through exit and touch. Then the opposite hands goes through the same motion without making any change in the extended arm. This kind of drill holds back body rotation, so if I work this then somewhere I work a drill that will help their rotation as well. Usually once they have learned the drill I will attempt to incorporate them into sets. We will go a 50 kick, 25 touch and pull and then a 50 swim, we are doing a set of l25′ s. Hesitation drill, I will do it at the point of entry and as they are coming through on recovery sometimes I will have them count through the recovery. Again, this helps them to work holding the rotation of the body longer. As they are coming through the recovery I will have them count slowly to 5. Then when they reach the top of the entry they will hold for a two count hesitation. Tempo drills are very important and I use them frequently, especially when we are resting. Spin drill or wind milling whatever you want to call it, it is a matter of spinning the arms as fast as they can. I tell them specifically, it is not just being able to hold the water, but that I don’t want them to even try to hold onto the water. I never have anyone injured doing this drill. but we always build into doing it. I will time them doing this drill, I think the record is something like 0.56 seconds for a cycle, a matter of just spinning their arms all the way down, it has nothing to do with size, because usually the biggest kids are the fastest at turning over. I don’t have a lot of other drills to work on tempo, but while we are training I will time the backstrokers more often and just lean over and give them the numbers and they realize that I am telling them that their tempo is to slow and to work on getting it a little faster.


Start, turn and finish, this could be a discussion into itself. I got upset when they took out the standup start in backstroke. I always loved that start, I felt it was a good addition to backstroke. We will work the athletes in keeping their feet together and putting them tandem, one foot just a bit higher than the other. Most swimmers like keeping the feet together. More importantly than where they place their feet is that when they pull themselves up they are pulling themselves more in than up. If they are a smaller child they should grab the ledge not the bar on the block, otherwise when they pull themselves up their feet will be directly beneath. When they push off their feet will go straight down followed closely by their body. You want them to be to some extent in line with their legs. Then I will tell them to get their start from their legs. If a person is standing on the blocks and only uses their arms they are still moving forward, the person who only uses their arms in a backstroke start will only fall and go nowhere. So we talk it through by driving from their legs first and then driving around with the arms. I like going around more than bringing the arms through since most of the swimmers who try to go through in actuality throw them over their heads and in essence drive themselves down. If the swimmer has good flexibility we will work on trying to get the shoulders and head coming over and the hips working on coming up and following through. If they don’t have much fear using an aluminum rod to use as a reference point to bring the body up and over. They need to drive from the legs first to get the body moving in the direction that they want to go. We work on dolphining under water, I was glad to see them institute the new rules. By the way, we call it the Berkoff Blastoff, but actually a young lady from Auburn by the name of Dawn Hewitt who had severe shoulder problem back around 1981, she would kick her 50 backstroke in meets around a :26.0, and did that at the AIAW meet. But backstroke should be backstroke swimming and not dolphining down the pool. However, we do work on dolphin kicking and if they are not a strong kicker then we work to have it shallower just to keep some of the speed going off the walls. If they are going to the legal mark for kicking under water. they better come up with or ahead of the group. To spend more time under water kicking to come in behind people is a waste of time.


In the turn. through watching other people early in my coaching career, we did what was called the Hawaiian flip. I don’t know why it was named that. Basically it was getting the hand to touch and then turning the body over onto the stomach and doing essentially a freestyle flip. Now with the current turn the progression for teaching is very similar to what I did back then. First we work well away from the walls. just either jumping off the bottom of the pool or push off from the wall. They will take three strokes then cross the body with their arm as they reach that arm towards the wall and turn over onto their stomach. That is the first progression. In the second progression they come across the body onto the stomach and then flip. When they flip they will go all the way through until they go a complete 360 degrees. This is to help them to think of driving through the flip as fast as they can. In the third progression step they will take the three strokes, cross their body and then move in a continuous motion into the flip landing this time on their back, feet in position. We do all this with both arms, from the beginning. We don’t start telling them to learn to turn on their opposite arms after a few races. Next we work them in the same progression moving towards the walls instead of away from them. At this point we stress that they must flip when they are at that point in the motion, not wait until they feel they are at the wall. I don’t care if they touch the wall. I can get them closer to the wall but it is more difficult to unteach your desire to come over and kick long enough so you touch it, a hesitation because you are leery of the walls. So when that arm comes across, it flows across and you get into your flip at the same time. At the point that your hand enters the water your hips should be coming up and over the water. Once on the wall I want your feet, hip and shoulders in alignment. When they push off, and you need  to be able to watch and or film them, you want the head back in alignment with the arms and squeezed tight. Flexible backstrokers will have a tendency to have the head higher above the arms. From on top of the water, unless this is really out of whack, you will not be able to see it. With seven turns in a 200 swim that can account for quite a bit of time. In the finish they cannot have a fear of the wall, otherwise they are truly finished. If a backstroker can learn to drive into their turn and finish, that alone will bring them from being a B to a AA level.


In training we will go about 50 70% in that stroke. Once they have made a Junior National level in backstroke I will train them not like a freestyler but with the freestylers. This is where the TLC comes in because every now and then you have a swimmer who excels in a stroke, but do poorly if they train or over train in that stroke. Most backstrokers I have found develop further by training it more and training it well just like they would freestyle. That includes warming up and warming down backstroke. We do swimming, kicking and pulling backstroke. In the pulling I will use paddles but never buoys. When they start pulling with buoys they begin to fishtail the body. I want them to keep working a steady shallow kick. I pull with straps on the ankles, no more than 25’s. A lot of that is to help work tempo and body position. We will swim on surgical tubing, I like making my own tubing so that it works them to get to the other end but everyone can get their easy enough and we can nm sets on it. It might take them 20 seconds to get down there. We will start off doing a set like 8 x 50 freestyle on l: 15 they swim down and back. Then maybe 6 or 8 100′ s backstroke on 2 minutes and then 8 50′ s again on 1:15 going freestyle down and backstroke back. You have to build into all these things. You can’t take the athlete and tell them to swim 2000 and having never used paddles before in backstroke and throw the paddles on them. You have to start off with 25’s in whatever you do, and it might take a practice, a week of practice or a season to really start to develop it. The sets will almost always be between 1500 and 2500 yards. I don’t believe you can learn to swim strokes, especially the quality of backstroke going just 10 x 50.


In actual sets, I have done some over distance like a 2000 backstroke swim, not just for getting training paces or a set of 4 x 500. I incorporate a lot of kicking, and will not let them swim the stroke wrong. An idea of different ways I could use 10 x 150; one of my favorites would be swim the first !00 then take 15 seconds rest and then kick the last 50. Within that set they would be told they were going 10 x 150, descend 1-3,4-6,7-10 in the swimming. In the 50 kick I would give them a challenge time, like :37 for a 50 kick and then have to break that time. When the backstrokers slow down at the end of their races because they get tired, the first thing they stop doing is kicking. As soon as they stop kicking their legs drop, freestylers will not have this problem, so we’ll go these 150’s and they will work to push the  legs. The 100’s swim as I have said we will descend, but they are not all out except for the 50 kick. For age group swimmers who are only going 50 or 100 yards, instead of going a 150 we might go a 100 where we swim a 75 take 10 seconds rest with an all-out 25 kick, when they are that kicking the swimmer should concentrate on the body position. I learned this after ’88, I am at Olympic Trials and very fortunate to coach a very talented backstroker in Trippi Schwenk. I told Trippi that I thought he could be with the field at the last 50, when you flip and come off the wall I want you to make sure you keep your head back to keep your legs up, because he had a tendency of picking his head up. He gets into the race and he is second into the last 50 and as he comes off the wall the first thing he does is pick his head up, he is trying to get higher and what happens is that his legs dropped. He struggled his last 25 meters and finished fourth in ’88. As I was walking down to talk with him no Jess than four people told me “great swim, if you only have gotten him to put his head back on the last 50 and his feet up he might have made it”. I sat down to try and think of where I went wrong in coaching him and I realized that where I really made the mistake was giving him instructions 45 minutes before he swam rather than 15 minutes. Since then I decided that rather than telling them to put that head back at the end and keep the body as high as you can, I want to train them. I have gone a little more when I could to working on that over kicking and I will tell them hips up, head back and kick those feet at the surface. Same 10 x 150, another way of doing it would be 25 right, 25 left, 50 kick ten seconds rest and then 50 swim at race pace. Another way to do these straight swimming would be to descend them or go alternating one easy and one fast.


Challenge sets, I use these often though not with young age groupers. When Trippi was still in high school, we did 3 sets of 3 x 200 with 2 x 100 freestyle on 2 minutes, easy after each set of three. First set on 2:15, second set of three on 2: 10 and his last set of three on 2:05. On the 2:05 he held 1:58, that was one of his best sets ever and right after that set we talked and I told him there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to excel Nationals off of that. At Nationals he went l :45 200 backstroke and won the event. Another young , great person and attitude, not quite as talented, by the name of Brad Askins. He did a similar set long course, going on the 2:40, 2:30 and then 2:20. I find that training long course they need a little more rest to be challenged just as much. On the 2:20 he held about 2:17, at the 1992 Trials he went 2:00 and finished fourth. I have also done sets trying to challenge them more on speed, not on just the send offs. One of the better one, in ’85 while coaching Krissy Linehan who was primarily a freestyler and butterflyer but because of shoulder problems we were training more backstroke, she did a set of 4 x 400 x 6:00 [long course] and started off at 5:15 and descended to 4:56. She made her first Junior cut in backstroke without shaving, and I knew she would excel watching her swim this way and even split these swims, that year she went 2:18 to win Juniors. I find that when the kids can start excepting the challenges in the strokes and try excelling at it is going to aid them in swimming the stroke faster. If they keep training all of their really hard things freestyle, they don’t relate to that level of swimming then in that backstroke.


In training aids, I don’t use the donuts on their legs. The straps, I will use bicycle tubes cut up, only on 25’s for that. Paddles, generally I would use the smaller Hans paddles, the ones with the holes, for the backstrokers. I have had backstrokers use the stroke masters, and at Auburn most of the backstrokers seem to like, I am not sure of the name but they come in a triangle – to a point at one end. I do like pulling with paddles on. At Auburn we have the use of Power racks, and they will do a lot of pushing off, dolphin and first few break out strokes on their backs.


This is how I visualize backstroke, I hope that I have conveyed this information or knowledge across to each of you.


Building Fast Swimming Pools by Joe Hunsaker (1994)       

Building Fast Swimming Pools by Joe Hunsaker (1994)            

We’re going to have a very fast paced presentation here because I have a 45 minute time period to present an hour and a half of information. The schedule of events for the next 45 minutes is going to be, first of all, who I am, and we’ll go through the handouts.


I’m an ex-swimmer. I am not a coach. Now I assume most of the people in this room are coaches and the problem with me is I don’t have the patience to be a coach so I had to find another way to stay in the field and the sport and so I decided I wanted to design and build swimming pools. In 1970 I formed a partnership with my former swim coach, Doc Counsilman, and thus we have Counsilman, Hunsaker, and Associates. For the past 24 years we’ve been involved in over 275 swimming pools, over fifty 50 meter pools, most of which are indoors. Some of those include facilities you’re aware of. Indianapolis is one. Right now we have under construction super pools. Texas A and M which is a “dotted i,” ten meter three center line tower plus some other pools. Miami University in Ohio, a “broken L” which is a diving pool with a two center line tower and a third leisure pool. University of Georgia, a “dotted i,” three center line tower; (three center lines is what you see in the Olympics; the ten is not on top of the five). They have another warm-up pool. And of course Georgia Tech is under construction right now which will be the site of the Olympics. We also have other projects going, municipal type facilities, and country owned. I mention this to you to give you an orientation of where I’m coming from. We’re also involved with the Commonwealth Games facility where a world record was set in the 1500 meter about a month ago up in Victoria , British Columbia, and I’m going to show you pictures of that. There are two fifty meter pools in the same room. The World University Games we’re involved in, the Goodwill Games on Long Island which will be built, and some other things.


On the handout, there are two items. The one is an article I wrote called “Pools From the Ground Up” which talks about how to build a facility and some of the things we take into consideration. I think that would be good reading. The other one is “Realistic Pool Budget Saves Time and Money” and I’ll comment on that a little bit later. Next year I would like to get a seminar titled something like “What Every Coach Should Know Before He or She Builds a Swimming Pool, or a natatorium.” This applies to people at the university level, at the high school level, community center, all of that. The problem we run into I just experienced in Arkansas. On a very big project we had a professional, who’s not a coach but an administrator in running an aquatic center, and the guy has tremendous knowledge but he could not communicate it very well because he really didn’t understand how the design process worked and that communication was a problem. That’s one of the things that have probably been the key to the success of our firm because having been a swimmer, I can speak both languages. I can talk with the architects, I can talk with the coaches, I can talk with the administrators, and help make everybody try and understand what the other is trying to say, and how it affects them. We are a full design team, architects and engineers. We do the contract documents. We do the whole thing for the pool. We work with the architects and engineers on the building if it’s an indoor facility.


Now the title of our session is “A Fast Pool.” Now there are a lot of things that can go into a fast pool. Actually there are six. This is on the quiz for the CEU credits. What six factors influence the creation of a fast pool? Write down the initials “C,C,T,V,S,S” What that stands for is the following:


“C” is CHEMICAL BALANCE. We all know that. The water’s got to be balanced; you can’t have aggressive water, low pH, cloudy water, and murky water. The next is the CLARITY of water, which again is that same issue. It has to be clear so that the swimmers are not distracted. My way of thinking about it is that you don’t want to do anything which distracts the athlete from his concentration or her concentration on the total performance. Little things can become somewhat of a problem, and there are enough of those anyway. That brings me to the point. I think it was Barrowman at the Olympics in Barcelona. Someone asked if the camera running along the bottom of the pool bothered him. He said “What camera?” And yet someone else said at the Indianapolis Trials, a coach complained that his swimmer swam a poor time because he was distracted by the underwater cameras. And I asked, “where did that swimmer come in?” Well pretty far back. The guy that won didn’t complain. Obviously it wasn’t a factor for the people that swam their best times, but it can be a distraction I suppose.


“T”: The TEMPERATURE. Temperature of the water is certainly important. For the Olympics it has to be 26 Celsius and 78 degrees Fahrenheit and usually you don’t want it much higher; we all know why and I won’t go into those reasons. Where we get into some problems is if for some reason you lose control of the heating system; that can be a problem. At Atlanta we also have a chiller. We have a heating system if there’s a cool day; we have a chiller in case it’s a hot day to be able to maintain that temperature. It’s very important.


VISIBILITY. Being able to see in the water has to do with light levels above. The FINA regulations call for the equivalent of 100 foot-candles or 100 lux for light levels above the pool. That’s at water surface, which is not a real good parameter because if the pool is real deep, the bottom of the pool is going to be darker than if it happens to be shallower where you get more brightness bouncing off the pool. This is an issue on indoor pools. Outdoor pools it’s never an issue because you’ve got 500 foot candles, 1000 foot candles, or whatever it is on a day. Visibility is a factor; shades and shadows. We don’t want shades coming over the end of the pool and putting that end wall in shadow. I blew a race years and years ago in the Nationals. I swam breaststroke and there was a shade over the end, and I thought the wall was there and it wasn’t. It was two inches beyond.. We always try to wash that wall with light. So there’s always light out in front of the wall; the wall is not put in shadow. Light in itself is a factor.


Now let’s get down to some of the real issues. “S”: SUBSURFACE TURBULENCE. Almost everyone believes that a deep pool is the best you can have and Tom Jager, who is one of our retained consultants, was interviewed at the Nationals about pools and he mentioned deep water pools. Subsurface turbulence is obviously something you want to avoid. At the Olympics we’ve gone to great extents to minimize those currents that are under the water, and we did the same thing at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria. So we look at introducing the water from the bottom, and not from the sides and certainly not high from the sides where we’re going to have a lot of lateral movement because when water moves at a high velocity, it rotates and goes back the other direction creating a sort of a whirlpool or a rotation. Most people don’t realize that. What that can do is create a draft laterally into the side walls. Now in the Olympics we are swimming eight lanes out of a ten lane pool . That is not as big an issue as it is in a typical 25 yard wide pool with eight lanes.


“S”: Now the key, the real one is SURFACE TURBULENCE. Surface turbulence where you’ve got turbulence on that water. We all agree we want to make that water glass smooth. Someone asked me “what’s the definition of fast water?” One of the examples I’ve given is a Canadian lake at sunset. It’s like a mirror, it’s deep, and it’s cool. And it doesn’t get much better than that. If you’ve ever canoed on that kind of water, you know how fast you can go compared to rough wave action. The same thing is true with sailing. So make that water surface smooth. There are a lot of things involved including gutter design, depth of gutter, turbulence, turnover rates, all kinds of things.


The last one. There is a seventh which is really not in our papers. But I call that psychological. I think it’s very important and again when we were in the very early stages of the Olympics we were trying to think in terms of having been an athlete myself and talked to a lot of the coaches about the young athletes going into international competition. Young women who are 14, 15 years old; some of the young men who are not much older. It’s a host thing, where we’re dealing with trying to put them through the Olympic Festival, through the walk-through at the Trials. You’re in the waiting room, you go down here in your holding room, you’re in the call room, and all that business. But I also think it can even carry over into colors and how that room is. At Barcelona they said it was terrible. The call room toilet was at the other end of the building on the other side of the pool. That can be somewhat of an issue when you’re waiting to swim. The room was stuffy, it was hot, it was cramped, and the athletes had to stand in the hallway. The on-deck position was standing in the hallway waiting to go out onto the deck. I don’t think that’s the best you can provide for the athletes, where this is the focus of everything they’ve done their whole life, and then they have to put up with some actions that are just unnecessary. So these are some of the theoretical things we’re thinking about. In Atlanta some of those were diluted because of money.


That brings up the next question. What is the primary determining factor in the design of the swimming competition pool and natatorium? This is also on the exam. The answer is money. Budget. That’s it. We work on this project, and you can come up with the greatest ideas and everything else but it finally comes down to money.

The bottom line. And so many things are suddenly being cut, have to be taken out, compromises are being made and everything else and it’s very helpful to understand that from the very beginning so you don’t get frustrated.


One quick thing here. When all of these things fail to make a fast pool what we do is usually try to make the pool about two feet shorter, and that guarantees that we’re going to have a good pool.


FINA touchpads. I just found out today the result of the voting at the FINA Congress in Rome about ten days ago. Over a year ago I thought how could we make the pool faster in Atlanta? And one way I talked about for some time, and Doc feels the same way, probably most people in this room feel the same way, is these doggone high flush wall ends. Because they’re like swimming in a bathtub and the water washes up and comes back. So we put together a study did an analysis with Georgia Tech in the hydraulics lab with the wave tank plus photographs at Indianapolis and did mock ups of different types of gutter hung touchpads. There was no question. A professor down there that worked with us on that showed that the water is smoother, faster, or inversely stays rougher longer with the international touchpads, especially end to end. We made videos all over the world. I met with the tech committee of FINA, and after several meetings they approved it (gutter hung touch pads instead of high pads). It went to the Bureau in Turkey last January and when they met it came down to three people. It was in a stack of things that were being handled very quickly. Two or three said “Oh no, we don’t want to change any rules.” It was very unusual for the tech committee to recommend something and then be countermanded by someone else. It went to the congress, and it was defeated ten days ago. Too bad. It was no question. We had swimmers at Indianapolis swimming both situations and they got in the pool and said “There’s a noticeable difference here.” You could see it. It took longer for the waves to settle down when you had the international touchpads up. There were two things going on; I won’t belabor this point. Number one, they told me, and it is pretty frustrating but, basically if it’s an American idea they’re against it. Any American idea is not good for the rest of the world, because somewhere there’s an advantage for the Americans. I had a meeting with Omega, the touch pad people, and told them about this in Switzerland in March. I was trying to get their support and I said we’re coming up with this idea, we’ve done all this studying and one guy said “I heard there was a proposal. It was an American proposal. I know it was good for the Americans.” It’s good for swimmers! We’re making the water flatter. What are you talking about? I just heard “it’s going to help the Americans”.


The other thing that came back, with this arrangement (gutter hung touchpads) there’s no place for advertising on the touchpad, Which is an interesting priority when you’re trying to break records.


Now the Atlanta video. This is just the front piece of a video we developed for the interview process in Atlanta showing our capabilities. This first section here deals with this question of depth of water. It’ll last about two minutes. (pause while video is shown ) This is kind of fun because our CAD operator developed this video imagery and that swimmer mannequin is swimming correctly because he took the drawings from photographs out of Doc Councilman’s books on a world class freestyle swimmer. So you notice the elbow position; the hips; everything else. (pause)


This is an NBC film clip. It’s at Indianapolis, as you can see. It is the Olympic Trials. Anyway they were talking about Jager and Biondi and Steve Crocker. This is the 50. And Steve, two weeks after this race in which he took third place, (you know he is the third fastest man in the world and didn’t go to the Olympics), he did a study with us which we are going to show you in just a minute. It’s part of this tape on what happens under water with turbulence of any kind. We were using him because he was a rather explosive, high energy swimmer. (tape doesn’t work) Well we’ve got a whole explanation on this and it’s going on with sound and music. But this is just the fifty and it was taken to show you the fifty. Then we come back and splice next to that the underwater cameras views. It is interesting to note just on the side, Crocker’ s dive, he was the first one in the water, you saw that at the time, when we do the underwater shot here. Over here in lane right, you see he was in slightly ahead. The whole point here is how important is depth and what has depth got to do with swimming ? After this, we set up balloons on a big matrix twenty feet long and ten feet wide in a twenty five yard tank near our office and had Steve swim it. I was trying to recreate seaweed. You’ve all swam over seaweed and I’ve always noticed people swim over it in SCUBA gear and the seaweed doesn’t seem to move and they’ re swimming within three, four, five feet of it. What’s going on? Well, they aren’t very good swimmers. Well this guy Crocker is pretty powerful. These balloons are just tubes of atmospheric pressure on this matrix, and there you can see there the tube is five feet under water on that scale behind. He swam for a while, and nothing happened. So we moved it up to four feet. So now he’s swimming in four feet of depth to the top of the tubes, balloons. And the balloons you can see are hardly moving. And when he would come down that pool, the sinewave behind him on the gutter was that big of an amplitude that’s behind there. And that has another issue of water control. Now we did find in butterfly that there was some movement. There is more agitation, which I think is understandable from butterfly than there would be from free style. We didn’t do breaststroke. We also did a dye test here to see what happened to that dye that he’s going to swim back through. You know, it doesn’t go down. You don’t see it going down seven or eight feet and going back. I showed it to Tom and Tom also thought that was kind of amazing. He feels also that there’s still something going on with depth. But I think it’s psychological. And I’m not suggesting changing. In fact the FINA rule of six feet seven or two meters, that’s the way we do all our pools. But I do have a problem with saying “Well, if eight feet is good, nine must be better, ten is better than that!” People don’t realize they’re adding tremendous cost to this thing and at ten feet, it’s not necessary. Yes sir? (unintelligible question) We’ve put sand, and sugar sand and all that sort of thing at four, five, and six, and we didn’t find anything. But I don’t want to go into that. Here’s what I’d like to throw out is a challenge. I’d like to see someone do a doctoral dissertation with this as their thesis. I cannot find any empirical data addressing this. Yes sir. (unintelligible question) There’s no question, surface turbulence is a greater retarder than under water. That’s why submarines go fast. I think it’s a fantastic thesis for someone to take on.


We’ve got a time problem here, and I’m trying to move on. Now I’m going to start on the slides. This is one of our earlier projects. In London, this is a floating natatorium. They call this a natatorium, and its floating in the Themes River. But I’ve seen them in Paris, I’ve seen them in Zurich, I’ve seen them in Switzerland. They’re disappearing in Europe. They used to be very common.


This is the Sutra Baths in California, turn of the century. All iron and glass. And what I think is really interesting, see all these spectator seats over on the left? People talk about how swimming is not a good spectator sport? In those days people would come just to watch people recreate. There wasn’t any television or radio, or anything else and so they would sit inside there under a glass roof in the sunshine and sweat.


This is a swimming class in Berlin which is kind of interesting. This is in the U.S. It’s an old mining camp. This is one of the earlier prototypes of the duraflex multi ply boards (laughter). I’m also a little concerned about the water depth. You know under the boards. They didn’t have any signs that said “No Diving.”


This is the Olympics. This is the start of the Olympics in 1904. And the Olympics in 1896 swam in the sea in Greece, and in 1900 they swam at Paris in open water. Here they swam in open water in a lake.


This is in St. Louis in front of the Art Museum. It’s kind of interesting. The guy on the left has a slight advantage, but he doesn’t know it. This is the finish of the race. The Olympic champion freestyle relay team. New York Athletic Club. Water Polo. The only thing that’s changed is caps and swim suits.


I like this. This is the spring board and the guy is really getting distance here. Reverse dive, somersault. It’s kind of neat. This is my favorite here. This is the Olympic champion in the “plunge and glide.” This was an event then, and you can see the size of this guy. He had a Jot of mass going for him. Swimming has changed considerably. Competition and the whole sport have changed tremendously.


This is the Olympic pool in 1924 in Paris. I competed in this pool in l 96 I. It was fun. It was interesting. It was very, very small. I was twenty four, and that tower, the platform wasn’t there. I don’t think. The platform was added later. It was there when I was swimming.


Berlin! A beautiful complex, this whole thing. Look at architecturally this axis that goes through the swimming pool, goes through the center of the stadium and on down a big boulevard. Very “Hitlerian” architecture. In the Hitler regime they were building these massive things on a very formal arrangement. Anyway the pool down here seats about ten to fifteen thousand I think. Adolph Kiefer won his gold medal in this pool, 1936. His name is engraved on the stadium wall at an entrance going out to the pool with Jesse Owens and all the other Olympic champions. We traveled together in Europe this spring and I asked him if he met Jesse Owens and he said “He’s my idol. I held his sweats every time he ran!” Adolph was seventeen or eighteen at the time. Kind of interesting.


This is Helsinki; typical outdoor municipal pool, and they put stands up on the right side. This wasn’t during the Olympics. This was 1952 after the World War, and things were just starting to get cranked back up. Keep that in mind and think of what has changed over the next twenty years. Now this is Australia, it was the first indoor pool for the Olympics and the designers missed something. They didn’t realize that when you put a pool indoors and put glass at one end you create reflective glare with which we are all familiar so they had to hold all the races, the finals, at night because of the problem in the daytime.


This is Rome. That is the pool where they held the World Championships this past week and where Dolan broke his record in the 1500 meters. This thing is quite a grandiose development. Back in Melbourne they were coming out of the Second World War. Australia really wasn’t occupied or bombed, but they did want to say “Hey, remember us, we’re down here, we’ve sort of been opened up to the world.” So they really went all out creating the facilities. In Rome they wanted to say we’re back, we’re part of the world community. So they put on a tremendous display architecturally and built all this stuff and who knows how much money it cost. Again it set that pace of the Olympics! This is really a big deal. And it isn’t necessary. Stop and think about it. The Olympics really isn’t. That’s a sacrilegious statement. It’s what we make of it. And what we make of it is very important. It’s part of our culture and our national culture.


This is probably the most beautiful natatorium in the world in my opinion. A great Japanese architect designed this natatorium. It’s beautiful, a beautiful building. There you see the two center line towers, I won’t go into the architectural aspects, but that is marble on the floor, and the walls. Now they hold automobile shows, and tennis matches in it. They also hold some swimming meets in it. It’s empty most of the time. Japan wanted to show “we are in the international community again. We are back. We are members” so they spend a tremendous amount of money and this was before they developed computers and so anyway this is something that was very important to them psychologically and internationally.


Mexico City. This facility, a beautiful facility and after the Olympics were over they boarded it up and birds were flying around in it because of the cost of operation these facilities, and what are you going to do with it? The swimming team in Mexico City was 50 -60 people; maybe! Operating this facility was very costly.


Munich. Again look at how that’s changed from Helsinki. From 1952 to I 972. This is where Mark Spitz had his good days and it was quite a facility. I was there years after the games and I was amazed at the poor repair. In Germany everything is always maintained very well. The worst maintenance I saw in Germany was at this facility. The tiles were coming up, the paint was worn in the dressing rooms, it was really bad. And again the cash flow to subsidize the operation of this facility wasn’t there and it still isn’t there. You still see the same thing. Montreal. Beautiful facility. Jim Montgomery  had a great Olympics at that facility, one of Doc’s swimmers, and of course so did a lot of other people. Briefly as I recall, American male swimmers won a gold medal in every event except the 200 meter breaststroke and that was won by the Englishmen who was going to school at Coral Gables. Beautiful facility. Now it’s used for guided tours. They have a swimming meet there occasionally. They built an artificial floor in it with scaffolding so they could have some shallow water so they could use it for community use and recreation. I don’t know how well that went.


Moscow. Unique thing about this is the 50 meter pool is in one room, the diving pool is in a separate room with a glass wall in between, so the sound, temperature, and all that stuff would be divided. It was taken from a concept that was developed by an American architect, Jackson Smith who you probably know from diving. He developed that scheme for Princeton. It was never built but they saw the concept and decided to go with it.


This is Los Angeles. This is really a low budget deal compared to Munich, Montreal, and everything else. Well, Montreal almost went broke with their Olympics. Munich has those problems. And so when Peter Uberoth was in charge and said “We’re going to run this thing and we’re not going to lose money. It’s not going to cost us any money.” So everything was just bare bones. It was very bare bones throughout. It was run more like a festival, like a temporary festival, which was great, especially when you’re in Southern California. That could be not as great in certain parts of the country. That reflects a lot on where we are in Atlanta.


Now We’re back to a Third World country who wants to be a Second World country. They really are a Second World country, Korea. Korea says “Oh no, we don’t want to be Los Angeles. We want to play with the big boys and show you how affluent we’ve become.” So they built a fantastic Olympic village of the kind we saw in the 60’s and 70’s. So there’s a psychological thing. You see that the First World countries, the United States and major countries in democratic situations where they don’t have a lot of government funding have a different approach to it than a Second World country or Third World country that is trying to make a statement: “Here we are. This is what we’re doing. Look at this.” It’s very interesting how that works.


Then from there we went to Barcelona, and Barcelona was saying “We’ve got to try to do this on the cheap a little bit.” And so they renovated their old stadium, which looks beautiful. They did a lot of things, and they only built to my knowledge one major building , that big assembly hall which they call Assembly Building where they had gymnastics and some of the other things going on. It’s kind of like a combination of bubbles. It sits up on the mountain right in front of the huge antenna that’s a big sculpture that’s actually a big antenna. The natatorium was an old pool built in the 60’s and it was a 50 meter pool, 2 l meters wide as is the diving pool. They tore that out and widened that and made that a new pool 21 meters wide. The old diving pool, they took down the platform and all that seating was originally there. That building above it was not there. They had some old outdoor pool. They tore that out and put in an indoor 50 meter pool at the same time as they rebuilt the second one and then they built all the scaffolding and all the temporary seats around it. It is designed so it can be enclosed in the future if anyone wanted to. I was there two months before the Olympics in ’92 and was there again in March of this year and the scaffolding is all gone. The program inside is very active. The pool outside is being used even in the daytime which surprised me because you have to get there by car, or by bike or something. It’s not in the city where people can walk to it. So it’s apparently going pretty well. The city and the government are pleased with it. Here’s the diving pool. I walked in and the guy met me and he said “How do you like the view?” Unique. A cathedral by a great architect. The view is just breathtaking as you all know.


Atlanta. There are no drawings out on it. It’s all kind of kept confidential and secret but this appeared in the Athletic Business Magazine about a month ago. It’s from some of the renderings. There you see the idea. As you know, it’s going to be indoors; some of it’s outdoors, Put a roof over it. The sunscreen here for your information. that’s porous; that’s a sunscreen. It’s not impervious so that when it rains, everybody in there gets wet. This is impervious, so the swimmers won’t get wet. (laughter). This is temporary seating over here. And then after this all completed the temporary seats are taken away and the thing will be enclosed and that will be Georgia Tech’s natatorium with 4,000 permanent seats. With canvass during the competition so it won’t be a glare for the divers at the other end and TD. Behind the towers is all going to be covered; all going to be enclosed.


We always have to try to take into consideration multiple uses of all the facilities and access is certainly one that we have to deal with.


This is a scheme that we did in a very conceptual way for San Juan Puerto Rico who wants to build a “dotted I” 50 meter pool for the 2004 Games and so we’re figuring out ways to do that. We did a study for them.


Another thing you can do when converting an old building, if you ‘re trying to figure out ways to build low cost swimming pools. This is in St. Petersburg, which was Leningrad when I was there three years ago. I was talking to the Soviets about the Goodwill Games they just had in a very old pool. At that time they were going to do a brand new complex. As you know in the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, they became an atheistic state so they burned and tore down churches and cathedrals and synagogues or they converted them into other use like museums. When I was there it was two weeks before the coup so this was still the policy. They showed us one of their swimming pools. This was a Lutheran church prior to I 9 I 7. Undoubtedly there was a swimming coach somewhere and he said “Wait minute, guys. I think I can get a 50 meter pool in this thing, I just stepped it off.” And so they did. And with the ten meter tower at the other end. It’s remarkable. Their dehumidification consists of opening windows but it’s there and hasn’t fallen down in 70 years. And the reason it hasn’t fallen down is because that was built before the revolution. Most of the stuff built since then falls down.


This is the pool where the Goodwill Games were held. They took me to this at first and said “this is what we’ve got, but we’ll never use this.” We looked around. This is the warm-up in the basement. I asked Tom Jager, “Did Question unintelligible: (ls for a reason, other than you use the warm-up pool?” He said “I don ‘t know for looks?) Answer: Both reasons. It looks pretty. If you’re going to make that flat it will be offensive, huge like to top of… There’s a curve to that because of the construction. The vault, the bubbled water is carried on two huge “I” beams that run the length of the pool . The beams are as thick as this room. And that is a screen that comes up over the spectators. The problem is that what happens if it does rain is the water will run down to that valley and then really pour down run oil at the ends. But if you’re sitting there you ‘re going to get wet.


Question (unintelligible): That’s going to be covered what you’re talking about.” I said “There’s a swimming pool we found in there about 20 meters long.” He said “We never saw it.” It may not hold water for all I know. We went down in the filter room and the room was the size of this room, and there was about that much dust on the bottom, rusted pipes, bare wires hanging down all over the place. I’ve never seen anything like it. Big sand filters. Nothing painted. Rust. I saw these guys shoveling sand and they were in army uniforms. Not fatigues; semi-fatigues. They wore wool; it was July, pretty warm there, boots. I said “what are those guys doing? Who are those guys?” The interpreter said “those are soldiers.” I said “what are they doing?” He said “they’re working on the filters.” I said “Well, why are soldiers working on the filters?” He said “Why not? Soldiers work for the government; government owns the swimming pool; soldiers fix the filters”. That’s what you do. All over the country people call the government and say “I need some workers. Send over three guys with a wheel barrow . Tomorrow they work on missiles.”


This is the University of Georgia. “Dotted I” 1500 seats.


This is in San Juan; it’s just a “dotted I.” It gives you an idea of a footprint and the plan that’s involved. And this is a CAD we developed for that. Gives you an idea what it’s going to look like.


This is Texas A and M, both directions. I thought you might be interested in that. 50 meter “dotted i” I 000 permanent seats. Skylights. A number of pools, indoor and outdoor around it.


This is a pool at Sanich (sp?) community center, Sanich, British Columbia, next door to Victoria. This has two 50 meter pools. This is a 50 meter pool where the Commonwealth Games were swum about a month ago and that’s another 50 meter pool to the left that’s narrower, and runs parallel. There’s your platform. This is a very big room. It’s lovely. It’s beautiful. And it was an apparently low budget job.


Question: What do you mean by low budget? Answer: Here’s a leisure pool. In the leisure pool there is a small wave pool. The reason they have the wave pool is that it draws in the people. It brings in 70 percent of the people in the daytime and at night, which generates the revenues. Cost-wise the whole complex cost about seventeen and a half million Canadian dollars. But it also has a library in the building. There’s a gym and there’s other rooms. It’s a community center. But obviously mega-emphasis on aquatics. It was built during a recessionary period.


Question: Is it cheaper to use a camera” (Question regarding underwater camera versus a window). Answer: Not only is it cheaper to use a camera, but you get so much better video. How many coaches run downstairs, through the corridor, lean over the damp, leaking window, look at something, and say “Just a minute” and run back upstairs, and say “I want you to do it this way. Wait till I run back downstairs to the underwater window and look at you do it again.” Oh, sure, you can have a video camera set up in the window. That’s what I see nowadays. I see an underwater window with a video camera behind it. And it’s wired to a monitor up on the deck. But the windows are kind of dirty and cloudy where the underwater camera is crystal clear. When you figure the cost. The window cost 5-7,000 dollars to put it in. Now you have to have a room so you can stand and look in it. That room has to be ventilated, it has to be drained, has to be water tight and things like that. You have to have a corridor going down to get to it. Then you have to have a stair going up to the deck. It all has to be lighted. It’s going to cost 25, 30, 40,000 dollars before you get finished, unless you have a tunnel all the way around the building like Indianapolis. That’s very expensive. Most pools don ‘t have underground tunnels. They’re built with backfills.


Are there any questions? We have a few more minutes, I think. That’s what I’ll do, is answer questions. Yes ma’am.


Question: What would you say is a good depth? Answer: What competition? Two meters? NCAA, US Swimming, National Federation of High Schools, or what? The next thing we’re talking about is what is this facility going to be used for? If it’s going to be used for a local age-group training facility, that’s one thing. If it’s going to be the national championships, that’s something totally different. But I would say our position on the Olympics is two meters, six feet, seven.


Question: What about a pool used for age-group, senior swimming, not for national championships. Answer: There are other issues to consider. You really have to know what the program is, what the mission of the community is, what their objectives are. And sometimes those are different than the coaches’ so you have to figure out a compromise. That we usually do just by discussing with the coach and everyone else involved.


Question: Have you done any built-in video tracking systems? Answer: We’ll do it for the Olympics. Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center has a built in system.


Question: Is it on the bottom? Answer: Yes, it’s on the bottom. However, he’s trying to make one that’s on the side.


Question: Do you have an idea of cost? Answer: There’s different ways of doing it, so I don’t know what it would be.


Question: (unintelligible) pertaining to testing underwater turbulence: Answer: Doc Counsilman suggested twenty five years ago at Indiana University, putting permanganate on the bottom of the pool at different depths and seeing what happened. And what he found was that the manganate started being disturbed at five feet. Five feet is about where it started having some disturbance.


Question: How much does it cost to build a facility? Answer: How much does it cost’ to build a house? Whose house?


Question: What’s your lowest so far? Answer: I wouldn’t touch that. Because it depends upon a multitude of things.


Thank you very much; I appreciate the opportunity.


An Effective First Year on Your New Job by Pat Hogan (1994)       

An Effective First Year on Your New Job by Pat Hogan (1994)          

Pat Hogan is Certified ASCA Level 5-USS and is currently the Head Coach of Mecklenburg Aquatic Club in Charlotte, NC. Pat returned to swimming in 1988 after a two year recess, to a coaching position at Trinity Aquatics in Orlando, Florida. Previously Coach Hogan was the Head Coach and architect of the Dynamo Swim Club in Atlanta, Dynamo having won

13 State and 8 Southern Region Senior Championships. During the same time, the team achieved national prominence by producing 28 Senior National qualifiers, six National finalists, five World Ranked swimmers, and three U.S. National Team members. In addition to his coaching, Pat has been quite active in the administration of swimming at both the local and national levels, serving 011 the USS National Board of Directors.


Good morning. It is a pleasure to be here today and have the opportunity to speak to you. I sincerely appreciate your interest and your attendance this early hour. The last time I spoke at an ASCA clinic was here in DC back in 1990. On that particular occasion, I was slotted for a four o’clock time on Saturday afternoon on the last day of the clinic. I told John that I appreciated my seating position this time much more.


Before I get started, I want to tell you about how and when John Leonard first asked me to make this presentation. I was sitting in my office in Orlando less than a week after I accepted the Mecklenburg position a little over a year ago today. John calls me and says I got an idea and I wanted to see if you would like to help me out. I said, “Sure, what is it.” Mind you that this is the Tuesday after Labor Day last year. He said, “Would you be interested in chronicling everything that you do this year in Charlotte and make a presentation next year at the clinic about your first year at Mecklenburg.” My immediate reaction was not to say yes or no, but to say, “John, doesn’t this year’s clinic start tomorrow?” “Yes.” I could not believe that the day before last year’s clinic he was already trying to plan speakers and topics for this year’s clinic. I can assure you that as I sat in my room yesterday, putting the finishing touches on this presentation, I have not yet thought about what I am going to be doing one year from today. But, I guess it is good to know that our executive director is thinking and planning that far in advance.


I want to start off by thanking a number of individuals who have been very, very helpful to me this first year in making the transition from Orlando to Charlotte. First off I have to start by thanking my wife Diane. Anytime you make a transition like we did, there is a Jot of personal sacrifice that you don’t really anticipate on the front end of making a change like that. I am going to talk a little about that at one point of the talk. Diane has been incredible selfless, incredible unselfish, great attitude, has been wonderful about the transition. I just can’t say enough good things about her input and her help in this whole process. I also want to thank my staff at MAC. I basically inherited a staff totally intact. They have been an outstanding group of people, willing to work far beyond the call of duty to get the job done, willing to make the changes that I ask them to make. Their attitude and work ethics throughout the whole process has just been absolutely wonderful. I would like to take a moment to introduce those of my staff that are present. My assistant senior coaches are Patty Huey and Ken Vote. You guys Stand up a second. My head age group coach is Ray Hunt, my assistant age group coach is Eileen Eddings and the newest member of our staff, the head coach of our Davidson location is Kathy McKee. It is a great group of people who have done a super job this past year and I really appreciate everything that you have done, guys. I also want to compliment my predecessor at Mecklenburg, Jeff Gaeckle. When Jeff first _went to Charlotte in the early  ’80’s, the Mecklenburg program was a young program. It was a growing program. It struggled to find swimmers and find pool time. When he left the program last year in 1993, I think he had built one of the finest swimming organizations in all the country. And it certainly was one of the reasons I was very interested in going into that job. I just can’t say enough nice things about the job that Jeff has done and the resource that he has been for me this past year. It certainly was a loss to the coaching profession.

Before I get into the talk, I want to outline, for you, the scope of the Mecklenburg program. For those of you that might not be familiar with our organization, I think it would help you to understand a little bit about it, to understand what I was trying to do my first year there. We have about 275 swimmers at our main location. They are divided into twelve different practice groups. I have a fairly large coaching staff. I have five full time assistant coaches and I have five additional part-time coaches. In terms of running our facility, I have one full time employee and two people best described as three quarter’s time, and anywhere at any given point in time, twelve to twenty part-time facility staff–<depending on the time of year and the programs in place at that point in time. We own and operate our own 3000 square foot indoor swimming facility. We have a 25 yard by 50 meter pool that affords us ten long course lanes and twenty-two short course lanes for training. We are starting this fall; one satellite program at Davidson College that we hope will have 75 swimmers, divided into five practice levels. We have a seasonal competitive swimming program that each fall and spring has about 100 swimmers that participate in it, over and above the 275 in our year-round program. We run a swim school that last year conducted 2600 sets of swimming lesson. We run a pro shop out of our facility. We have a master’s program. We have an aerobic program-both dry land and in the water. We have a program that we call MAC power, which basically is strength training in a fitness program that we conduct at our facility. Each year in June we conduct the Charlotte Ultra Swim, which is a major undertaking. For those of you that have not been to that meet, the effort and manpower and hours of preparation that goes into that event is very similar to what you would do for national championships. So it is  a big undertaking. As we look to 1994, our overall budget for this coming year projects revenues in excess of $700,000 and only $300,000 of that comes from team dues. So as you can see, it is a big program, it was an awful lot for me to get my arms around going into it and I want to talk to you a little bit about how we tried to do that.


You think that every time you go into a new job, you have a lot of choices that you can make on the front end. And as I go through the talk today, I want to tell you about some of the thoughts I had going into the job, some of the choices we made and why. I want to tell you what we did and why we did it and to talk a little bit about if I had a chances to do some things over again what we would do differently. Then at the end of talk, I want to talk about some very specific, I will call them transition issues that I think will be helpful in terms of people making changes looking forward based on experiences that I have had in the past and this past year.


I think, my first ASCA clinic was 1973 in Las Vegas and I have been to a number of these things. I know the kind of talks that I most enjoy and get the most out of are those talks where people tell me actually what they do and why they do it. I have always tried to use that same philosophy in making presentations myself. What we are going to do today is to tell you what we did and to try to give you some ideas why we chose to do the things we did and the way we did them. There is a hand out in the back of the room if you did not get a chance to pick that up yet. The first page basically outlines the entire talk and the remaining pages I have pull out of the outlines, specific pieces that I thought would be of more interest to you in greater detail. (These are included in 3 pages at the end of this transcription).


I accepted the Mecklenburg position last August 27th. My responsibilities in Orlando precluded me from taking the position until October 4th. At one point I thought that it was going to be real problem. In retrospect, having that time afforded me the opportunity to really think about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. Going through the interview process and meeting the folks before I was offered the position, things like philosophy and personality and making sure that those issues were correct, those were all addressed at that point in time. I had no concerns or questions about there being a good match and a good mesh of philosophies and personalities going into it. Once I had accepted the job and was going into it, the critical issues at that point became, deciding how to take charge, how to affect change as I did so. During the four to five weeks that I had before I actually took the position, I did make two trips to Charlotte. I took one trip on Labor Day weekend to meet the staff and visit with them and also to conduct some interviews for positions that we needed to fill. I also made one other trip back to Charlotte the very first two days of practices to meet the swimmers and kind of get the season off to a good start. But I basically was not there for the first four or five weeks after I took the job. During that time, I thought a lot about what I wanted to do. I want to share some of the thoughts that I had during that time and actually subsequent to that and kind of brain storming in preparation for the transition.


One of the things I realized and thought about going in-I tried to be sensitive to the fact that nobody likes change. It isn’t easy for anybody and it is probably harder to follow a new leader than to be the new leader himself or herself. I think it is also important when you go into any kind of new situation that you got to sell people on the idea that change presents opportunity. Again, nobody likes to change. But if you can give them a reason to work with you and react to the change and make them aware that there are some opportunities involved, it’s an easier sell job. I think as you go into a new coaching job, you don’t want to just take what you have been doing and bring it with you. I think a critical issue is to apply your experiences to the new situation. Some combination of what you have been doing and what already has been done there is probably the best combination. Every place is different. Every place has its own culture and has developed its own ways of doing things over the course of time. I thought it was important in my particular situation, going into a fairly established program that had a nice tradition of success, that I demonstrate a lot of respect for what had been done and what had preceded me. Obviously, those people had been working in that community doing things there for a long time before me, and they probably knew a little bit more about it than I did. I tried to take my time and tried to understand why things were being done the way they were before deciding to make any changes. I think you also can not be afraid of conflict. You’re not going to make everybody happy going into a new situation and you can expect to.


At some talk that I listened to in the past, perhaps it was Mark Schubert, I’m not positive, Mark talked about when you are going into a new situation, you need to decide up-front how tough you want to be. Because once you establish the level of discipline you are going to enforce, it is very difficult to get harder. It is always easier to relax a little bit. But one of the things I thought about going in, was just exactly how tough I wanted to be going in and what kind of impact I wanted to have that way. I think, also, as you are going into a new situation; probably it is a good philosophy all the time, you need to look for opportunities to praise people. There is no better way to develop a rapport with people than to make them feel good about themselves. I can still remember the first time that I meet one particular young lady in my squad at MAC. She had an absolutely beautiful smile. I complimented her about her smile and I know that that had to make an immediate impact on her and make her feel good.


The other advice that I have is; don’t judge people on first impressions. I don’t feel like that all the time that the way people first come off to you is really indicative of their true personality.


The other point that I would make along those lines is if it is real obvious that people are trying too hard to make a positive impression, you need to look out for those people. Finally, I think the most important thing that I thought about going into the job was that it is essential to bring a lot of energy into a new position. One of your most critical challenges of a new leader going into a new organization is to energize those around you. Your swimmers and your staff are not going to work harder than you do. You need to set the standard for which you expect them to perform. Leadership is action, not position.


After thinking about some of those thoughts and reflecting a little bit about how I wanted to do things, the next step was to choose a takeover approach. I think going into any new situation, there are a number of ways you can assume leadership. A lot of people feel like you need to go in and totally take over, effect total and immediate change, and do things by your personality and your way. I think probably, in some situation where there has not been a tradition of success; where you can think of any number of professional sports or college athletic programs that have not been successful for a long period of time, that approach would probably be very effective. One of the things I tried to do on my two visits to Charlotte prior to being there full time was to make a quick assessment about the situation. I let my experiences from those two occasions help me understand exactly the best way to go about it. And certainly I felt like, to come in full force and try to just change everything to be the way I wanted it to be was not the most effective way to approach it. Another approach would be the “don’t rock the boat approach”-to come in and just basically leave things in place as they were and just try to make the transition as smooth and as easy as possible without [my change whatsoever. And I think there are probably situations where that is appropriate. I think if you’re going into the new situation on an interim bases, that would be the appropriate way to go about it. If you are moving from the #2 to the #1 position, in a situation that has been very successful, perhaps after somebody retires, something to that effect, than that particular approach might be very effective there too. In our particular situation, I did not think that was the most effective way to go about it. The approach that I chose to take would be what I would call the “subtle change artist.” What I chose to do was to go into Mecklenburg, ask a lot of questions, gather a Jot of information and get a fee! for what was already going on. Then as I got a handle on the situation, got my arms around it and understood the culture, the people, why things were being done the way they were being done, to slowly but surely make the changes that I wanted to make. People buy into subtle change much quicker and much easier. Particularly they have had some choice in the decision making process to make those changes. I guess in swimming terms, you could describe the approach that I took as a negative split approach. I chose to go in there and take it very easily and assert myself more and more as I earned the support and established my credibility within the organization.


Each time you go into a new situation, you need to do a program assessment and it needs to be analyzed. If you refer to the second page of your handout, I have outlined very specifically for you there, some of the things that we felt we needed to get a handle on very quickly and the way that we chose to <lo that. I think the assessment process never ends. As coaches we have to be constantly monitoring our program and making adjustments as we see necessary. I think on the front end there is an awful lot of information to simulate, a lot of things to understand. Some of the things that I thought were important right off the bat, obviously, was to get to know my coaching staff, their strengths, their weaknesses, their likes and their dislikes, and to understand their particular role in our organization. I wanted to, obviously, get to know the athletes as quickly as I could, not just the athletes in my particular practice group, but throughout the program. With a program as big as ours, that obviously takes a lot of time. It was important for me to understand the program structure and the training levels within our program, and the content at each of those practice levels. I needed to get a handle on the practice schedule, how it fit into the facility schedule and where possibilities might exist for us to add time and make changes in that regard. It was important for me to understand the consistency of coaching throughout our program. To see that we were doing similar things from top to bottom, talking the same kind of language, presenting a united front. That has always been very important to me, wherever I have coached before. It was important to understand the overall team performance level. To see how many “B” swimmers we had, how many “A” swimmers we had, how many junior national qualifiers we had and where those people were positioned throughout the program. I needed to understand the organizational structure. What kind of volunteer committees did we have in place as part of our board of directors? To understand a little bit more about how facility programs other than the swim team were orchestrated and directed and to just get an understanding for the structure of the entire organization. I wanted to get a feel for the existing lines of communication, to see how effectively we were at communicating the things that needed to be communicated. I wanted to understand the demographics of our team. How many IO and under boys did we have? What percentage of our team was 13 and over and 12 and under? How many seniors in high school did we have? How many kids were going to graduate this year? I tried to understand our 275 swimmers, what made up that population. I wanted to understand the team operating policies and procedures. How did we make entries? Who made the hotel reservations? All those kinds of questions that I needed to understand and find out how it had been done in the past. Two final things that might seem rather odd, but were important to me-I wanted to understand if there were any unresolved political issues out there in the organization. Did I have coaches that did not get along with each other? Did I have board members that did not get along with each other? Was there a particular practice level in the program that wasn’t happy about something? What kinds of political issues were out there that could come back and bit me on the butt if I did not get a handle on them. Finally, the other thing that I thought was important was to get to know the community as quickly and as well as I could. I wanted to know what kind of forces were taking place in our community that impacted our team at the present and perhaps in the future. Those were some of the things that we felt were important to understand and to get a handle on.


The way that we chose to do that is outlined in the next Section near #B. I chose to ask as ton of questions to as many people as I possible could, soak up information as I possible could from as many sources as I possible could. I thought it was very important to access peoples’ values, understand what was important to them in a swimming program, what was important to them about the program as it existed. It was important to understand people’s feelings. Were they positive. Were they negative. Were they happy. Were they sad. Were they discontent. It was important to understand their attitudes about the program and what was going on. And perhaps as much as anything, it was important to understand their aspirations. Where did they want this program to take them? What did they actually aspire to do as a member the Mecklenburg Aquatic Club? And in order to try to understand that information and get that information, I talked to a whole host of people.


I talked to swimmers at all levels. I spent a lot of time, obviously, with my own athletes and as much time as I could with others. I spent a tremendous time with the coaching staff. They were my ears out there in the organization and they were a tremendous help to me in simulating this information I kind of giggle as I look at this hand out. It says departed coaches. That doesn’t mean people that have passed on. It is people that have been with the program in the past, particularly in taking with Jeff Gaeckle, my predecessor. I spent a lot of time talking with Jeff and getting his feeling and opinions about things. I talked with board members, both in a formal situation  in  board  meetings  and, more importantly, informally at lunches and things of that nature. I tried to talk to other parents in the organization to get a feel for what they thought about things. We are very fortunate in our particular situation to have a whole host of what I would call alumnus parents that are still vitally interested in the program. They spend much volunteer time helping us run meet and what have you. I try to spend time talking with people like that to get their perspective on the history of our organization and the direction it was going and that was very interesting, I found.


 I spent some time at Thanksgiving and at Christmas talking with some of our college swimmers, getting their points of view. I also spent some time, maybe, unbeknownst to them talking to the other coaches in our area and getting their reflections about our program and what they saw as our strengths and weaknesses. And the other thing that I did was to try to spend as much time as I could just gobbling up much information about our community, reading the daily newspaper, the Charlotte Observer, reading weekly publications, whatever was out there that I could understand where Charlotte was going and what was going on in our community that affected us.


Once I had done that, and that was a process that took about three or four months at least, talking to people and gathering that information, it was time to establish a game plan. And basically what I started doing as I was talking to people and asking questions, I just started making a list. Eventually that list started to get three or four or five pages long. And those were what I call action items, things that needed to be addressed, things that needed to be worked on. Once that list was fairly complete, we tried to prioritize that list into three categories.


The way that I chose to divide this was immediate targets or the things that I thought I could get done in less than four months, short term objectives, things that I thought would take the rest of the first year, from four to twelve months and long term goals, things that I thought I would not get to until after my first year, that I wanted to get to in the first two years. In setting priorities, normally you would rank things as A’s, B’s or C’s with the A’s being the most important things that you need to do, the B’s being a little less important and the C’s being things that perhaps you never got to. I went about trying to prioritize things perhaps a little bit differently than is normal. I asked myself two questions about each of the action items that I had outlined. I said “Number I, how serious is this problem? How quickly does it need to be fixed.” And that helped me to decide which of the three areas to put it into. And secondly, going back to my original plan of trying to make changes subtly, I asked how painlessly this could be changed. And in some cases, the things that I chose to do the quickest were the things that I thought could be accomplished the easiest. I felt like, if we could make five or six or ten subtle changes that together would have an impact but maybe individually would not be noticed, that was one of the most effective ways to go about it. In terms of trying to prioritize things, that was the process that we went through.


At this point I would stop and say that it is very important that you be flexible. You need to be ready to react to situations and opportunities as they present themselves. I think the more organized you are, the better prepared you are, the easier it is to react to the unexpected. I had one problem and one opportunity presents itself within the first two or three months that I had not planned on and really did not want to deal with then. The situations presented themselves and we had to deal with them. About five weeks after first arriving, the director of our swim school resigned and at first I saw that as a tremendous problem. I did not want to be bothered at first with trying to hire a new swim school director. I wanted to be able to concentrate on the competitive team and focus all my efforts and energies into that direction. In reality, that turned out to be a real opportunity. We put somebody in place that has done a great job in leading our swim school and positioning it to do some great things in the future. We had to make time to do that. It wasn’t part of the original plan. The other situation that presented itself, and was a real opportunity, was the opportunity of create a satellite program at Davidson College. Many of you might know Rich Desound, who is the head coach at Davidson College this past year and longtime assistant coach at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Rich and I first started talking in February about the possibility of starting a satellite program on the north end of town. The Davidson pool is located about 45 minutes north of our facility in Charlotte, 45 minutes on good days, an hour on not so good days. Again, this was not something I really wanted to deal with my first year. That would have been better left for a second year, but the timing was just right. The people and the forces, and thing happening in the community were coming together at a point in time where it just dictated that was something that we needed to look into and spend time on, so we added that to our list of things to do. But I think you have to be flexible for reasons like that.


After we kind of organized everything and put a plan together, it was time to go to work and put it into action. I want to talk to you about the basic assessment that I made, the things that I felt needed to be done and then try to talk about how we tried to go about doing those things.


In general, there were an awful lot of things being done right. It was a very successful program, a lot of organizational policies and procedures were in place. We have a great staff. We have super parental support, a strong talent base, great facilities, a well-developed organization and incredible community support. There was an awful lot more right than there was wrong. But there were a handful of things that I wanted to address and work on. One of the things that I thought was important was to promote greater team unity. In our organization we have twelve practice groups, We made an effort to do some outside activities, to build team camaraderie. We did those by practice groups. The intent, I think, was to do something positive, but what happened was that each practice group almost got to the point, in my opinion, that it had a higher profile in the organization than the organization itself. We wanted to do somethings to try to correct that and bring the focus more on the entire team. I want to try to promote greater consistency throughout the training program, to make sure that the terminology, the drills, the exercises and all the things that we were doing from top to bottom were consistent. I did not want to call one particular stroke drill one name and our age group program call it another and our presenior program a third name and senior another. I wanted our staff to be talking the same language. I thought it was important to foster a stronger work ethic. In looking at what each of the groups were doing, it was important, I thought, to increase the mileage levels in some practice groups. We wanted to educate people that hard work is necessary, but more importantly that it could be fun. In talking to people and interviewing folks, it was obvious to me that we needed to try to inspire people to higher aspirations. to encourage swimmers and their parents to think bigger and believe in their abilities to succeed at higher levels of the program. I just felt like we were under selling our potential a little bit and could do a better job in that regard. I wanted to improve both the internal and external communications within our program. We were not doing as good of a job as we could have in getting centralized information out to the entire organization. I thought our coaches were doing a great job of communicating directly with their particular groups, but it was things that dealt with only their particular group. One of the ways that we needed to build team unity was to just let people know more about what was going on throughout the entire organization and not just the competitive team, but all our other programs. We wanted to improve our team demographics.

We did not have nearly enough JO & under boys in our program and a very high percentage of our program was I 3 & over. And looking down the road, I could see where, if we didn’t work hard at widening the base of our pyramid a little bit, that we could have some problems down the line. The other thing that I realized in trying to learn a little bit about our community is that Charlotte is a wonderful place to live and I Jove it there, but we have grown so fast that our highway structures have not grown with us. It is very difficult to get around. There is u lot of traffic at inopportune hours for practices and I felt like if we were going to grow our program and develop it, that we needed to expand our geographical range, basically start satellite programs in other areas of the community. So those were some of the things that we set out to do and things I felt like needed attention.


I have outlined for you on the page, what our immediate targets, our short term goals and our long term objectives were. I am not going to talk about each of those, but kind of outline ones that I think are significant. I think a Jot of this stuff is self-explanatory.


From the very beginning, I want to point out that I intended to devoted all my time and energy to the competitive team. I intentionally and with every thought in mind, set aside the noncompetitive team programs and decided that once I got comfortable that the team was in the right direction in doing the things that we wanted to do, then I would spend some time and effort in that direction. So we immediately set out to just worry about team situations. We made some practice schedule adjustments for some of the practice groups to give them a little more water time than we thought was necessary.


One of the most important things that we did was to initiate weekly staff meetings. One of the ways that I tried to improve communication internally was by having a weekly staff meeting at I 0:00 every Thursday morning.

We would spend some time talking about administrative issues and more importantly use that time to talk about things from a professional development point of view. As we go through this, you will see some of the things that we talked about at our staff meetings. The other thing that we did was to initiate a weekly newsletter. We put out a newsletter each week to our team membership on Wednesday afternoons. It is a product that I started and still spend most of the time on it myself, but as we go along I have delegated more and more of those responsibilities to different members of the staff. It is probably the most effective thing that we did to improve communications, improve attitudes and to build team unity throughout our entire organization. We not only used it for administrative kind of things, but to give meet results and to make people aware of what was going on in the organization. If you use a tool like that effectively, you can get an awful lot of information out there and teach people and educate people an awful lot about things that you want to do. It was probably one of the most important things that we did.


In our staff meetings, some of the kinds of things that we tried to do, were to try to outline standard practice habits. I wanted to make sure that when it came time for youngsters to use the bathroom in the middle of practice, that they were all handling that situation in the same way, that they were all starting and finishing repeats on the wall, that we were teaching streamlining the same way, asking kids to follow certain habits in practice the same way across the board-everybody breathe every third on freestyle, whatever the case may be. And we sat down and developed about a four page outline of what we called practice habits. We wanted to be consistent throughout the program. It was a good way to educate the staff and to standardize training terminology and procedures throughout the program.


Moving to the short term objectives. Some of the things that we did after the first four months, we standardized stoke drills. We sat down and spent one staff meeting for four consecutive weeks talking about each of the four strokes, going through all the stroke drills that each of us knew, assigning a particular name to each of those drills so that we were doing the same drills top to bottom in the organization. I am fortunate to have a large staff that comes from a lot of different places, people who have mentored under different individuals and learned swimming a different way here and there. I think that is a plus. We put together a fairly extensive list of stroke drills, assigned names to each particular drill and tried to standardize that throughout the program. We did the same thing with dry land exercises. Again, I did not want to be doing a particular midsection exercise and call it one name in one level of program and another name in another level. We tried to standardize dry land exercise. We spent some time talking about championship priorities, deciding which meets we were going to shave which kids for and how much we were going to rest along the way and making sure we were all in the same wave length in that direction. We established criteria for team placement and team moves. When it came time to promote kids within the organization, I wanted to make sure that we were doing the same thing at the age group level that we were doing at the senior level. We talked about guidelines for race strategy. I wanted to make sure that we were teaching kids to swim races the same  way  throughout  our program-same philosophy on how to split 200’s and 400’s and 1500′ s, what have you. We wanted to increase the water time and evaluate the summer schedule. I wanted to increase time for our 11 & 12 year olds and our 13 & 14 year olds, do some more doubles for some of those youngsters than we had done in the past. And probably, one of the things that was most important to me, to educate not just the swimmers about but also the staff, to try to promote a longer term training philosophy in terms of how we plan seasons and years. I have always believed that I would rather invest a little bit of time right now and to bank on that in the future. I think it makes sense sometimes to sacrifice performance on the short term in order to get better performance on the long term. That is a difficult process to sell to age group swimmers, in particular. But just simple things like it doesn’t make sense, I think, to shave a kid early in the season to make a cut for a championship meet, when if they make those some cuts at the end of the season, they are pre-qualified for the next year. I think you are better off training kids all the way through that season to make those cuts at the end of the season and be better positioned to perform at a higher level the following season or the following year and just trying to explain thing and better educate people in that respect.


As far as things that we really want to get to and look at this next year, we want to fully integrate the Davidson program into our organization. I want to begin to spend more time on non-team programs and give some attention to those areas that I have not done previously. As you look through the long term goals, there, you can see some other goals and objectives that we have for this coming year.


As I look back on the year and try to evaluate what we did well and what we could have done better, there are certainly some things in hind sight that we would do differently if we could. Probably the thing that I would talk about the most in that regard was that I spent a lot of time and energy thinking about the job change, thinking about what I wanted to do professionally, and I did not do the same kind of thing personally. I vastly und r estimated the impact that making the transition would have both on myself and my wife. We assumed it would be easy to sell our home and all those kind of things would go comfortably and easily and in some cases they did not. And if I had things to do over again, I would try to spend as much time planning and organizing for the personal side of my move as I did for the professional side. If I had to do it over again, I would spend a little bit more time on deck with the various levels of our program. We did some of that, we did not do enough of that. If there is one thing that I regret the most, that is probably the thing I would like to do over again the most.


Just for advice for someone going into a new situation, one of the biggest mistakes that I think I made the first year was not spending enough quality time with my athletes during their first taper. Like I said, we arrived there the first part of October. We went basically lo our first competition in December and swam very well. We went again in January to another meet and swam very well again. We went to another meet in February and swam, really, incredible well at that particular meet. I felt very comfortable about the direction that we were going and the way that, that part of the transitions was going. The kids were comfortable, they were happy, they were swimming fast. And in many cases I had high school aged kids swimming life time best times, unrested, unshaved. These were kids that had already gotten to the point in their careers where they were only improving once a year when they were rested and shaved and they were already swimming faster than they had ever swam before. I probably got a little over confident about what they were going to do. Along about the first part of February, I had been there long enough that I was beginning to get more comfortable to spend time on other areas of the program and kind of divert my attention in other directions. I think going into that first taper, I took for granted, a little bit, that because we had been swimming well, we were going to continue to swim well. In some cases, we did not at the end of the first season. And I think that some of that was simply me not spending enough personal time at the end of the season with those kids, like I did early on in the season.


In my efforts to spend a lot of time concentrating on the team itself, I intentionally did not spend a lot of time on non-team programs and I think that was a good move. I think I needed to do that. The mistake that I probably made in that particular regard, though, was not spending enough time with the personnel running those particular programs. I have not done as good a job, getting to know those members of my staff as I have my coaching staff. The people that run the other programs that we offer, probably feel that I don’t care about them very much, which isn’t true, but I have certainly sent that message to them. If I had to do it over again, I would spend a little more time, not helping them run their programs, but just spending more time with them personally.


I think one final thing, in an effort to be organized and really concentrate on what really needed to be done the first year, we probably did not begin lo plan for this upcoming year soon enough.  We are a little behind where we would like to be as far as our planning for the start of the 1994-95 season.


So in hindsight, those are some things that we would do differently if we could, and had the chance to do over again.


I want to move to the last part of the talk and spend some time talking about some practical advice on select transition issues-things that do not really fit into the body of the talk as it is outlined, but things that I think would be of value and interest to people.


The first thing that I would talk about there, simply is demonstrating respect for the past. I really believe that any time you go into a new situation, one of the most effective things that you can do is to let people know that you respect them in the way that they have been doing things. To go in and make total change, I think is a mistake. The more respect that you can demonstrate for what has proceeded you, the more effective you are going to be as a new leader in a new situation.


The second thing that I would talk about would be inheriting staff. It is a common rule of thumb in athletics, that whenever you go into a new situation, that you don’t carry over assistant coaches from one reign to another. It is not a typical in a professional football situation or college football situation for a new head coach to totally clean the slate and bring in an entire new staff of people that he is comfortable with or that he hired. I think the main reason that people feel that way is a question of loyalty and where the loyalties are going to lay by the staff that you have inherited. I think that there is a tremendous advantage for hanging on to the people that have been there before. I truly believe that from the very best assistant coaches that I have the pleasure of working with and have ever helped me as a head coach, were people that I had inherited from a previous reign. I think in my particular situation, corning in about a month after the start of the season, there was actually no other way that I could have done it, nor would I have chosen to do it another way. I think that people that have been there before, are tremendous value to you in terms of getting to understand a situation, a tremendous value to you in getting to know the kids, and which buttons to push to make the kids respond effectively. I think it is a very positive thing to inherit assistants and carry them over. Then you have questions about how you get them on your side and in your court. I think the answers to those are fairly simple. I think in order to get respect, you need to give respect. I think in order to get loyalty you have got to give loyalty. One of the very first things that I did in my initial meetings with my staff, was to outline for them what I expected of them, what they could expect of me. I went out of my way to demonstrate to them that I would be loyal. I said with the exception of making a poor judgement in terms of ethical or moral situations, that I would support them I IO percent in any other situation in which they might make a mistake. I let them know up front that they had a long enough leash to make mistakes and try to do things and that I would still support them. Likewise, I tried real hard though our staff meetings to include them in the decision making process of our organization, to give them ownership in what we were doing. I think that is one of the ways that I gave them respect and earned their respect instead. I think those are issues that you have to deal with. I saw the people that I inherited as assets, not liabilities and I always have and I always will in any situation that I encounter.


In a talk at ASCA about wearing old team apparel in a new situation. I think that is a no-no. I think that one of the things that you want to do immediately is to throw away all the T-shirts, and parts of your apparel that mention or have your old team on them. I don’t think that people want to see you wear that in the new situation. I think that is pretty important. It sends a subtle message. If you are in the unfortunate situation that that is the only clothes that you own, I don’t know what advice to give you in that case, but I would recommend that you not wear the old team apparel.


I want to talk a little bit for a minute about the personal challenges, personal changes that you may face in a transition. I know in making the decision to go from Charlotte from Orlando, Diane and I faced a lot of choices about why to stay and why to leave. Once we may the decision to go to Charlotte we were ready to go and we expected the very best to happen. In fact, it has been a very difficult year personally because just about everything that could go wrong on the personal side of a change did this past year. We put our house on the market less than a week after I accepted the job. It didn’t sell for nine months. We bleed profusely the last three to four months before the house sold. We made a lot of unfortunate decisions up front in picking a real estate agent and pricing the house incorrectly. Again, some of that happened because I was so tuned in to making the job change that I didn’t spend the time and energy that I needed to on the personal side of things. Shortly after I got to Charlotte, Diane had some medical problems. Then we were faced with issues like she was on the verge of accepting a new position in Charlotte and we did not know the seriousness of this particular medical concern. And then we were faced with issue of whether she needed to stay in her old job, and do we need  to stay separated a while longer because we had to be concerned about where the medical insurance was going to come from, things of that nature. We ended up being separated for almost four or five months before she was able to join me in Charlotte. We either had to sell our house in Orlando or she had to get a similar paying job in Charlotte in order to get back together again. The first job that she took in Charlotte proved not to be what we wanted. They were a little deceptive to her about how much travel would be involved and she was having to travel out of town a Jot more that she had ever dreamed was going to be feasible. o she was not particularly happy in her first job. Fortunately, we have been able to rectify that. She is now in a new position that she has just started within the last six weeks and I think she is going to be very, very happy in that job. Changing jobs  a second time that quickly presents other problems. Because of the job changes, neither one of us took a vacation since the tail end of last summer because there just wasn’t time to do it all and get it all done. And because Diane is fresh into a new job, she literally has no vacation time in this point in time, so we are not going to get a vacation again at the end of this summer. That is difficult to deal with. Those are issues that I would never have thought about or dream would have been problems in making the original choice. On a personal note, one of our challenges in making the decision to make a job change was that we have been and continue to try to adopt a child. We were positioned with an attorney in the Orlando area to do a private adoption and felt like within the next eighteen to twenty-four months that was probably going to be a reality.


In making the change to go to Charlotte, one of the issues that we had to deal with was what impact changing localities and changing states would have on that particular process. Probably the best news of all about the entire change is by making the change to Charlotte we have enhanced the adoption possibilities and we are very hopeful that something is going to happen on that front very quickly for us. There are a lot of issues that you have got to deal with, from a personal point of view in making a transition, and in our particular situation, children were not involved. We did not have to worry about moving kids and that is just a whole other set of issues and challenges that you face, depending on how old those youngsters are. My advice to you is, don’t underestimate that part of the process.


The last thing that I would like to do is to talk a little bit about some relocation and compensation issues, which is, the very last page of your handout. Both initially, before making the decision to change jobs and as I have encountered some problems selling houses and buying a new one in Charlotte, I know a lot more now about the kind of things you should do in making a change than I did up front. I thought I had a pretty good handle on that when I made the decision last August to change jobs. But what I have done here is outlined, for you, some things that I think are important to look for, and look at and consider in terms of compensation considerations and relocation expenses in making a job change. Obviously, when you move, you would expect your new employer in a situation like I was moving to, to pay our household moving expenses. That is a given. One of the things that I did not realize was typical in the corporate world, but is, is that when you make a job change, it is very typical for corporations to give you as a hiring bonus or as a miscellaneous expense, whatever you want to call it, one month’s salary bonus to help cover some of the unexpected expense you have in making a change like that. That was something that I really didn’t understand was typical and usual. It is also not unusual for there to be built into a relocation package, expenses to make trips before the move, to look for housing and that kind of thing. It is not unusual, also, in a situation where one spouse stays behind while the other leaves and there is a temporary housing need, for the company that is moving you, to pick up that expense or at least part of it. It is also not atypical for a corporation moving an executive or a manager to look at paying the cost of the real estate commission, the closing cost of the sale of a home, and/or picking up the closing cost in the purchase of a new home. Those are some things that are very typical in the corporate world when you are dealing with moving executives and managers. On the compensation side of the ledger, obviously we all expect to receive a salary. One of the things I would encourage you to look at in addition to that, is some type of incentive income. In addition you should take a look at benefits that you would be eligible for. Major medical and dental insurance, obviously is something that you should ask for yourself and I would encourage you, at least initially, to ask that for your spouse. In a situation where both the husband and wife are employed and one spouse is basically what you call the trailing spouse, there might be a situation where one spouse might go without medical coverage for a while they found a new position, if your employer did not provide that for you and the spouse. That is one of those issues that I would encourage you not to forget about or skip by. I would encourage you to look at the possibility of disability insurance. It is very typical in most major medical policies for some kind of term life insurance to be tied into it for almost no cost at all and you should look for that. I would encourage you to look at retirement contributions of some type and obviously settle up front what your annual and personal leave and your vacation time would allow. From the stand point of reimbursement expenses, obviously you should expect to receive full swim meet expenses to include food, lodging, and travel. I have always in my last three positions, asked that in the event that we were in a situation where we did not have a youngster go to the senior nationals a particular year, for whatever reason, that the club fund my travel to the senior national championships at least once a year. If you aspire to be at that level and you want to be successful at that level, I think you need to be tuned into what is going on there. That should be something that your employer pays for. They should pay for your annual dues to professional organizations such as USS or ASCA, likewise, expenses for at least one clinic per year like this one or another. In cases where you are so inclined to be involved, and I encourage you to do so, full expenses to the USS annual convention should be provided. You should expect to be reimbursed for your certification fees for Red Cross classes and things of that nature. One of the things I would encourage you to ask for is what I call a professional development fund. Part of my package with MAC is that I have a certain amount of money that I can spend each year on books, videos, software, anything that is related to professional development. That is not just for my purposes, but is used by the entire staff. I think that is a nice asset to have, a nice benefit to have as part of your package. Finally, again, depending on the kind of position that you are in, one of the things that I would encourage you to seek and look for, is to ask that you have your full expenses paid for you and your spouse to at least one major international competition every Olympic quadrennial. Again, if that is a level that you inspire to bring athletes to, I think it is important that you be in tuned to what is going on there. This is the same philosophy I talked about earlier with the senior national, just carried one step further. Those are some things to think about and be aware of, kind of a laundry list of ideas. I would be very honest with you, I don’t have all these things in my compensation package at MAC. I have some of them. There were some things I chose not to ask for. They were generous and basically gave me everything I did ask for in the compensation package. I learned a lot this year about those kinds of things and thought I would share some of that information with you.


All and all it has been a wonderful year. I am very proud of what we have accomplished our first year at MAC. I think it has been a very successful year. It is an organization that had a tremendous amount of potential. I am very excited about the future and where we might go with it.


At this point, I would entertain any questions people might have of me about anything that I said or didn’t say.


Q: When you first moved, what kind of expectations did you put on yourself as far as the time that you would be spending with your new position and how long did it take you to settle down before you had a regular schedule day and had some free time available?


A: What is that? The question is what kind of expectation did I have on the front end about how much time I would spend in the new position and how long it might be before things settled down to a regular day? Very honestly, that is one of the areas that I did not do a very good job thinking about. I have worked very, very hard this year. I have spent a lot more time at my job than I would have envisioned and probably, I am not the best person to ask that question of because I did not do a good job of planning in that regard. I would say that life is still not back to normal as far as both the impact on our personal side and the profession side of making the transition. We moved into our new house in June and we still have not had the time to completely unpack and get settled. Here we are almost a year after making the decision to leave and it is not back to normal yet, whatever normal may be. I don’t know if that answers your question or not, but certainly that is a part of the transition that I did not do as good of a job as I could have. Other questions?


Q: When you took the job, did the board give you all of this freedom right away or did you have to constantly work on getting it the way you wanted it, or did you establish that right away when you took the job?


A: My responsibilities as head coach was to run the competitive side of our organization and I have total authority and leeway in that regard through my assistants. I never had to fight to make any changes but I think part of that was the way that I chose to go about making those changes. Quite honestly, we made a lot of changes that people never recognized, at least not right off the bat. That is part of what I am talking about in terms of the subtle change artist. There were some things that we have done that I don’t think would have been a problem if we had been up front about it. But there were some things that we kind of did very quietly that people didn’t notice right at first. There was never any question about my authority or who was going to make those kinds of decisions. That has never been a problem. The board of directors and the parents have been incredibly supportive and that has been a positive part of the transition. I have never had that problem. They gave me a lot of leeway coming in, and perhaps gave me more creditability up front than I deserved. 1 think that any time that you go into a new situation, you need to earn that respect again.


Q: From the time that you went there, Number I: How have your numbers changed and Number 2: How has your budget changed?


A: The question is since I first arrived, how have the team members changed or differed at all since we first got there and also how had the budget numbers change?  I am going to answer that question in two parts because it is very definitely effected by the addition of our new satellite program at Davidson College. Basically our team numbers have held steady. We started with about 283 swimmers, when I first arrived. We are starting this year with about 260, so we are a little lower, but we graduated I 8 high school seniors this last year and we simply have not replaced those youngsters in our program in the I 3 & older level. Our 12 & under numbers are about the same. We have a better distribution of younger boys that we had this time last year. We are a little lighter on the thirteen and older end of our program than we were last year, but I personally think that that is healthy because I think the demographics of our program are healthier than they were this time last year. Essentially the numbers are fairly even. We hope to add up to 75 new swimmers in our new location at Davidson. We start that program in the water next week for the first time, so that is kind of in the state of flux right now. We don’t know for sure how many we are going to have, But, obviously, once that gets in place and we build that program that is going to significantly increase our total numbers. Likewise on the budget issue, we basically, in establishing in our 1994 budget, taking the Davidson program out of the equation, I would say that maybe we had about a 5 percent increase on both revenues and expenses for 1994-95. When you factor into the equation, the Davidson program that changes the numbers considerably over what it was previously. There was a lot of preform work that I have done in putting that program together and planning and anticipating our expenses and our revenues in that particular area. Last year our overall gross revenues were approximately $680,000 and our gross revenues in our 1994-95 budgets are going to be close to $800,000 as we project them right now.


Q: The question is what percentage of our budget comes from fund raising and what obligations I personally have for fund raising?


A: Going back about three years ago, our organization made a decision to significantly increase fees or dues. It


was about a 25 percent jump all at once when we first moved into our new facility. At that time, the same point and time, the decision was made to cut back on the amount of fund raising that we did. We basically now, in our present structure, only have one major fund raiser a year. We park cars and sell programs at the PaineWebber senior golf tournament every May in Charlotte. For that responsibility we earn about $15,000 from the tournament organizers. We do require that everybody in the program work at least one session of the golf tournament as we have it organized into sessions for workers. That is the only mandatory fund raiser that we do in our program. We also, as it historically happen with our program since the early ’80’s, we have been involved in parking cars and cleaning bathrooms at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. That use to be a mandatory fund-raiser. What we now do with that-that is an opportunity for people to earn dues credits. We earn a certain amount of money for working the bathrooms at the races and people volunteer to do that. It is strictly a volunteer program and by volunteering to do that, they earn credits against their dues that they do not have to pay their dues. So people who struggle to pay their dues or just want to do that, which is an option for them to work down their dues, so to speak. Last year we had kind of a one-time need to pave part of our parking lot into our facility that was not paved, and we did run a special fund raiser targeted at that particular program. We sold grocery store coupon for the leading grocery store chain in Charlotte on a one time bases for about three or four months to raise about $5,000 to do that. That was kind of an exception that we did not expect anyone to participate in, but that is an easy one because people buy groceries anyway. It is just a matter of buying the coupons from us as opposed to spending the money at the store. As far as my responsibilities as to fund raising, I virtually have none. The parents group had done a great job of organizing that, in fact, the very second weekend I was there last October was one of the weekends that we worked the raceway. It virtually went on without me even knowing it was going on. That is how new I was in terms of getting acclimated. The Paine-Webber Golf Tournament took place the same weekend this May, as a B/C meet that we hosted at our facility. We hosted the meet and manned the golf tournament the very same weekend. I virtually had no responsibilities whatsoever for that. As far as going out in the community and raising funds, we do generate approximately $65,000 off of corporate sponsorships. One of the things that we did in the transition this year-that was one of the areas that Jeff Gaeckle was absolutely remarkable in. He did a tremendous job in that area. We contracted Jeff this last year to do that for us this past year. We have not decided yet if we are going to continue to do that. I did make some calls with Jeff last year to meet some people and get to know them for the first time. One of the things that I have on my agenda this year is to get a lot more involved in that just because I feel like I need to do that.


Q: The first question was, did I bring anybody at all from my previous job to my new situation.

 A: The answer is “no”. The staff that I have in place currently at MAC are basically people that I inherited and were already there. We added a couple of part time people last year at the beginning of the year that were new people from the Charlotte area. Then, of course, we add Kathy McKee this fall to our staff, who is the only new full time member.

Q: The second question is how many full time people on our staff get medical benefits?

 A: The answer is all of them.


Q: The question is: Looking at the team demographics. do I feel like the demographics of our team are indicative of the Charlotte culture and if not, is that a concern?


A: The part of Charlotte that we are located in is basically upper middle class, very well-to-do. Within a 15 to 20 minute driving radius of our facility there are literally thousands of kids that we could attract to our program. Most of them are upper middle class families that could afford to swim. One of the things that we are going to try to work on this year, because there are some good facilities located in areas of town that would be considered minority areas, we are going to work with the Charlotte Mecklenburg County Rec. Department this summer to start a summer league program for minority youth that would operate out of some of the county facilities that are in the minority areas of Charlotte. That is a program that I definitely want to get behind and promote and see if we can’t get some of those youngster involved in swimming because I think that is good for our sport. Generally the demographics of our team as it consists at our present location reflects the area that we live in almost to 100 percent. We do have a scholarship program for people who cannot swim in our program to handle situations where families may have temporary problems and even afford kids an opportunity to kids who cannot afford to swim to swim in the program. We do have a scholarship program set up prior to my coming that affords those opportunities. I don’t know if that answers your question or not, but that is some of the things that we do or are thinking about doing in those regards.

Q: The question is how did we plan to promote team unity between the new location and the existing location.


A: That is a good question. That is a question that I have probably answered a thousand times since we first proposed the satellite program. Very honestly, the main way we are going to try to do it basically through communication. Through our weekly newsletter we will be able to make people aware at both locations what is going on at the other. That will be the main way that we accomplish that. We are also going to take advantage of Saturdays during the school year to run combined practices of similar team levels at both locations. We will move one to the north side and one to the south side and try to do that probably once a month. And in the summer time we very much anticipate that both groups will train long course together at an outdoor county facility that we use to supplement our long course training in the summer time. It would be about equal distance between the two locations. Hopefully, through those avenues we will be able to make it a unified group and make them work together. That is something that is very definitely important to me. I am not interested in having a satellite program that is not going to be a real part of our team, and feel a part of our team. That is an important objective for us.


Q: The question is: What is our due structure?


A: I think it is relatively high. At our youngest levels, our 7/8 year olds that train three times a week, pay about

$600 a year, which is our lowest fees, up to the highest level where the dues are about $1200 a year for the group that I coach. I think that we are at the high end of where we can afford to be at this point in time. We have not raised our dues in two years. If we do not find some new revenue sources this coming year to supplement that, we are probably going to be in a position to have to seriously look at raising dues next year which I would like to avoid doing if we could.






A.      Getting acquainted with a new team – details to get familiar with as soon as possible.


  1. Coaching staff
  2. Athletes
  3. Program structure & training levels
  4. Practice/facility schedules
  5. Program content at each level
  6. Consistency of coaching throughout program
  7. Overall team performance level
  8. Organizational structure
  9. Existing lines of communication
  10. Team demographics
  11. Team operating policies and procedures
  12. Unresolved political issues
  13. community forces impacting team and future


  1. Getting other people’s perspective about the program – assessing values, feelings, attitudes, and


  1. swimmers at all levels
  2. Coaching staff
  3. Departed coaches including predecessor
  4. Administrative staff
  5. Board members
  6. Parents
  7. Alumni parents
  8. College swimmers
  9. Other coaches in area
  10. Community publications






  1. Basic Assessment: What Needed to Be Done
    1. Promote greater team unity; reduce high profile of practice levels within
    2. Promote greater consistency throughout training program.
    3. Foster stronger work ethic; increase mileage levels in some practice
    4. Inspire higher aspirations; encourage swimmers and parents to think bigger and believe in their ability to succeed at higher
    5. Improve lines of
    6. Improve team
    7. Expand geographical range of all swimming



  1. Immediate Targets: Less than 4
    1. Concentrate time and efforts on competitive
    2. Make practice schedule
    3. Initiate weekly staff
    4. Initiate weekly team
    5. Conduct individual goal meetings with my
    6. outline standard practice
    7. Organize and assign coaches’ administrative responsibilities.
    8. Reinforce team uniform policy.



  1. Short-Term Objectives: 4 – 12
    1. standardize stroke
    2. standardize dryland exercises and
    3. Review championship meet
    4. Establish criteria for team placement & e.. outline guidelines for race strategy.
  2. Develop Swim School satellite
  3. Increase water time for 11-12 and 13-14 groups during summer
  4. Promote longer-term training






Relocation Considerations

  1. Household moving
  2. Miscellaneous relocation Estimate: one month’s salary.
  3. Transportation allowance for pre-move
  4. Temporary lodging expenses for a specific length of
  5. Reimbursement of real estate commission and closing costs for sell of
  6. Closing costs for purchase of new


Compensation Considerations


  1. Basic Compensation
    1. Incentive
    2. Major Medical and Dental insurance for self and
    3. Disability Income Protection
    4. Life
    5. Retirement
    6. Annual and Personal


  1. Reimbursable Expenses
    1. Full swim meet expenses to include food, lodging, and travel; and one trip per year to Senior
    2. Annual dues to professional organizations, ie. USS, ASCA, WSCA,
    3. Full expenses to one clinic per year, ie. ASCA or
    4. Full expenses to USAS annual
    5. Required certification fees. ie. Red
    6. Fund for professional development for books, videos, software, periodical subscriptions, etc.
    7. Full expenses to one major international competition each Olympic quadrennium to include spouse’s

Aerobic Training and Aerobic Base: World Class Swimmers’ Training (In Chronological Order)

Aerobic Training and Aerobic Base: World Class Swimmers’ Training (In Chronological Order)



HARD WORK “OR Else” pays off for Heddy

Editor’s Note: The following article is made possible through correspondence from Frank Elm and Kathy Heddy. The article is written by editorial assistant Sandy Segal.


In September 1971, a friend asked Coach Frank Elm of Central Jersey how his new swimmer, a 13-year-old named Kathy Heddy, was coming along. Elm’s honest reply was, “Not So hot.”

It has been almost three years since Kathy Heddy met Frank Elm, and in that time she has progressed from “not so hot” to an American record holder.

Kathy has had to work hard to move into the national and international scene. She swam for a local Y and for the Williamsville, New York Water Buffalo Swim Club until her father’s transfer in 1971 led her to New Jersey and Coach Elm’s Central Jersey Aquatic Club. When she· started with the club, her personal best times were a 57 for the 100 yard free and 2:03 for the 200 yard free. She was, as Elm called her, “just another freestyler.”

The young swimmer had difficulty adjusting to workouts for the first few months, killing herself by training four days a week, one:–and-a-half hours per session. But as the season progressed, Kathy got faster and tougher and started the seven days per week program, eventually earning a spot on the club’s relay reams for the Dallas Nationals in 1972, as well as a chance to swim the 100 and 200 yard free.

Elm says Kathy “blew” the 1972 Dallas Nationals, but her times of 2:03 in the 200 and 55.0 in the 100 were her personal bests. She gained extra experience in national level competition by swimming in the 1972 Olympic trials in Chicago.

The 1973 Short Course Nationals in Cincinnati started out poorly for the 15-year-old Kathy with an unimpressive 500 free swim. Elm let her know that he was disappointed and that she had better get used to being a tough competitor and look forward  to working  hard in the coming long course  training program, “or else. ” The swimmer rose to the challenge, earning a· second in the 200 IM, a fifth in the 100 free and a 13th spot in the 400 IM. The ‘or else” is still a small joke between the two.

At the 1974 Short Course Nationals in Dallas, Kathy had only 33 minutes between her double events, the 100 free and the 200 IM. That short time must have been more than enough, though, because she moved swiftly from her 50.89 American record performance in the 100 free to another American record of 2:05.06 in the IM. She also placed second in the 200 free, 1:49,12 and fourth in the 500 free, 4: 50.31.

In preparing for the double of the free and IM, Kathy concentrates on one race at a time. She works mainly on the 100 free during the warm-up before the meet, then practices the other strokes for the IM when she has finished the freestyle race. Then she relaxes, waiting for the IM race. “It’s not exactly ‘easy’ to swim this double, but I usually feel pretty good by the time I get up on the blocks for the IM,” says Kathy. “I don’t feel the 100 free hinders me any for the IM. It might even help since I know I’m ‘loose.”‘

With the short course season over, Coach Elm is now concentrating on long course training. Most of the  work is done in free- style, since Elm feels that this stroke helps his swimmers to get into shape more quickly.  Work on the IM strokes starts about ten days before district meets, regionals or the  Nationals.

After each series of meets, concentration returns to freestyle, conditioning and pace. Prior to the Nationals, there is a taper period of broken work, high quality swimming and concentration on the events to be swum by each competitor.

Elm says his long course goals are to do “as well as possible in big meets and to try to make a National team for any international meets.” He trains his swimmers at distances of 16,000 to 20,000 meters daily in two workouts: The morning session is held from 7 to 10 a.m. at  the Metuchen  Community  Pool, an L-shaped facility with six 25-yard lanes and six 50-meter lanes. The after- noon workout is held at the New Jersey Residence Manpower Center’s indoor 6-lane, 50 meter. pool.

The    following is a typical long course training schedule:


Typical Long Course a.m.  workout

15 x 400 swim 10×100 kick

30×100 pull;  Total 10,000

Typical Long Course p.m. workout 25 x 200 swim (may go as many as 30 X 200) 1 ,000 kick

2,000 pull (may pull in various ways) Sprints; Total 8,500


This season, Kathy will compete in the South Carolina meet on June 21- 23 and the Santa Clara International Invitational, June 28-30, She has been invited to the Los Angeles Invitational but has not yet made a commitment. The Region I Championships in late July and the Eastern U.S.A. Championships will lead into the Nationals at Concord, California on August 22-25. Coach Elm says the Nationals will be the target for her peak performance this summer.

The Short course training involves one workout per day, starting before the season with 6,000 to 8,000 yards, five days a week and working up to 10,000 to 11,000 yards seven days a week during the season.

The following is a typical short course training schedule:

Typical Short Course workout (one/day) Pre-Season

3,000 timed swim 20 x 100 swim

1,000 kick 2,000 pull; Total 8,000 yards

During  Season  (January -February -March)                                 .

12 to 15 x 500 5 x 200 kick 15 x 200 pull; Total 10,000-11,000yards

Kathy prepares for the double of the 100 free and 200 IM by testing it at district and regional meet, where the time between events is shorter than at the Nationals. Elm says, “To swim this double effectively, the swimmer must accept it mentally and be prepared physically. Naturally one must be outstanding competitor and have talent also. Katy has these qualities and so far has been successful with them.

Kathy finds that the mental and physical preparation also helps her to swim for faster times.” I swam through all the meet during the year. and so when you get to the Nationals· and start tapering it really helps you more than ever,” Kathy says. “When you enter a meet and have a ‘full’ workout the day before and do very well, it helps you a lot into thinking, ‘I wonder what I’ll do when I peak.”‘ She adds that the greater competition presented by the top swimmers at the Nationals also gives an incentive.

The competition at the 197 Long Course Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky helped spur Kathy to the event she calls the most thrilling of her career: winning her first National Championship in the 200 IM. The win was even more meaningful when it enabled her to swim the event in Belgrade, where she came in third.

Some sacrifices have been made by Kathy, such as forfeiting skiing, another of her favorite sport. But Kathy sees the sacrifices as worthwhile and advises younger swimmers not to give up and to work hard. “It hurt when you’re doing it,” she admits, “but when the meets come up, you’re glad you worked hard and you know you deserve everything you earn.”


“Hard work and a lot of it” is what Kathy says has given her the ability to accomplish what she has done. She also attributes much of her success to respect and confidence in her coach. “I never realized what swimming was all about until I moved to New Jersey and started to swim with Frank,” she says. “The practices were much harder and since I had a lot more respect for Frank, it made me work a hundred times harder but I really didn’t seem to mind.”

Elm seems to have the same respect for his swimmer, who  he says works “100 percent at every practice on every stroke. She never complains and has dedicated herself to the pursuit of excellence in swimming.”, Heddly, ‘as he calls her, is also a leader with a good disposition and a “captivating” personality. Elm adds, “There’s only one ‘Heddly’ and I’m thankful she’s on my team”

Kathy is enthusiastic about the added benefits of swimming for the Central Jersey team, particularly the travel ” I feel if there were no trips to make, or games to attend, swimming would hardly he worthwhile.” But Kathy’s quick to add, “It’s not altogether the trips, though. It’s meeting a lot of nice people and mainly having fun with them:’

The true meaning of swimming for Kathy shows through when she says, “If I didn’t swim, I wouldn’t know what to do. Life would he boring for me, and for as long as it means this much, I’ll keep swimming.”






 If a youngster practices swimming with people six or seven years his senior, some of their speed and endurance is sure to rub off on him. That is precisely the case of Steve Lundquist of Forest Park Swimming Association. Steve, 5 feet I inch, 90 pounds, has been completely dominating the 10 and under competition in each of the numerous meets he has attended in recent months, sweeping nearly all the events.

Steve is attending Woodland Academy in College Park, Ga., near his home and often works out with the high school team. That is part of his training with extensive training sessions administered by his coach, John Bowles, forming the bulk of his work.

According to his coach, Steve’s swimming ability is a gift. The youngster, who just turned 11 and will try his hand at the next level of competition, has lived all of his life on a lake and learned to swim while learning to walk.

Steve began to swim under pressure at age 8 and he quickly improved with instruction. His father has included light weight-lifting in Steve’s program and Steve stays in active circles by water skiing bare-foot and playing football.

Steve sets reasonable, yet progressive goals for himself, then strives to attain them. Winning is important to him, but lowering his own times is of even greater importance. Not specializing in any particular strokes, he spends little time warming up before a meet.

Steve swims all the events at every meet he attends. Unusual for a boy of his age, Steve is self- disciplined and regularly gets 8 to 11 hours sleep a night

Steve’s best marks are:

Short Course: 1650 yard free 21:53, 200 free 2:14; 100 free 1:00.7; 50 free 27.8; 100 back 1:13.0; 50 back 32.3; 100 breast 1:21.6; 50 breast 36.3; 100 fly 1:11.7; 50 fly 29.7; 200 I.M. 2:32.2; 100 I.M. 1: 12. (all meter times at age 9)                                             ,

Steve’s typical workouts include two sessions a day, Monday through Thursday, 6 till 7 a.m. during summer months with meets usually scheduled on Fridays and Saturdays.


His morning workouts are 3,000 yards (1,000 yards of this for warm ups); forty lengths of the pool (indoor 25-yard pool) begin the morning session; IM style changing strokes every 25 yards and sprinting every third length. Steve swims with a group in a circle which consists of older swimmers who average as good or better times than he. The average warm-up time is 15 minutes, plus 5 minutes rest or 20 minutes of lapsed time. He does five 200 yard freestyle of IM, going once every 4 minutes on the clock and then eight or ten 100 yard freestyle, going once every 2 minutes.

Many combinations are made and periodically changed to keep the workouts from becoming too routine. 200 yards deleted from the warm up might become 8 x 25 yards of freestyle sprints or two broken 100 yard sprints. Emphasis is placed on Steve’s preferences.


The evening workouts are two. hours long and run from 6,000 to 4,000 yards, depending on the type of meet coming up. Steve does not receive any special attention other than the privilege of working out with the older group of swimmers.

The evening workout which Steve enjoys is one that has a 500 yard freestyle and then warm up without . stopping the 100 Fly; 200 Back; 100 Fly -200 Breast; 100 Fly -200 Free and 100 Fly.  He follows with 10 x 100 yards going one every 2 minutes which could be all free or a combination of 2 x 100 of each stroke plus 2 x 100 IM or 10 x 100 IM or perhaps inserting a 25 yard fly on the third or fourth length of the 100 Free to help the swimmer’s mental conditioning at this point in his race. Then he does 5 x 200 IM or free, going one every 4 minutes with target time for each repeat swim (on the 200 free, Steve is asked to hold his repeat times at 2:30 or better, and in most cases he goes better).

The next step is 20 x 50 yards going one every 1 minute on the clock. He and the other swimmers leave from 3 to 5 seconds apart, depending on the number in each group. These range from all free to a combination like 4 x 50 of each stroke.

Steve does 20 x 25 yards of breath sprints 4 on each stroke or 5 broken of free, back, breast or fly and to finish, 1,000 yards swim down before leaving the pool.

Steve does not do a lot of kicking, but when he does, it is flutter-kicking on the side, changing sides every length, doing front turns at one end of the pool and back turns at the opposite end. Pulls are done in the same fashion.

During the winter, because of school and available pool time, the team works out for two hours (5 until 7 p.m.) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. They try to stay around  6,000 yards at  a session. If the  Friday workout  has consisted of 5,000 yards, Steve and his friends  are permitted to play their version of water polo for the last 30  minutes.



Sue Walsh reaches  beyond the barriers

By: Jeff Zwicker


Nowadays it seems that success at the national and international levels of swimming requires training programs that include such ingredients as year-round double workouts, high mileage and at least part-time long course training. Although these components may be desirable, Sue Walsh is living proof that they are not necessarily essential.

Due to a combination of factors, including such things as long distance commuting to workouts, the unusually lengthy New York State school year, and lack of access to a long course facility, Sue’s training program shows little resemblance to the training programs of most world­ class

Sue  burst onto the international scene in a big way in the summer of 1978 with a fine fifth-place finish in the 100 meter backstroke at the World Championships after placing second to Linda Jezek in the Nationals at the Woodlands. She climaxed the following summer by clocking a 1;02.78 relay leadoff time on Aug. 22 during the USA-Great Britain Dual Meet, making her the world’s fastest woman in the 100 meter backstroke in 1979. The time ranks Sue as the second-fastest 100 meter backstroker in the history of American women’s swimming.

When one considers the fact that Sue comes from an area of the country not particularly noted for high-quality swimming, that she spends little more than four weeks per year on double workouts arid that she trains year-round in a 25 yard short course pool, Sue’s rise to national and international levels’ in the sport of swimming seems truly remarkable. Her success is based on a combination of factors, including her innate physiological and emotional makeup, her superb family relationships and the nature of her training program itself.

Sue turned 18 in February after graduating in January as an honor­ student at Mount Mercy Academy in Buffalo. She has been swimming competitively since the age of 8 and came to Zwicker Aquatic Club at the age of 12, shortly after we opened our pool.

Sue is a gifted athlete with explosive speed and an extremely competitive spirit. She rises to a challenge with great determination and is usually at her best under the pressure of tough competition.

Although many factors have contributed to her success, one of the most significant has to be the very close family relationships she enjoys. To say that Bob and Joan Walsh are the perfect swim parents would hardly do them justice. They have not only given Sue the support, encouragement, love and understanding in the right amounts at the right times; but they have contributed immeasurably to the success of our program which was in its infancy when they joined our club six years ago. They are an inspiration to all the people involved in our program, and through their unwavering support in tough times as well as good times, their impact will be felt for many years to come:

Training Program

The Zwicker Aquatic Club competitive program operates on a 10-10 1/2 month schedule from late September through late August with a two- to three- week break’ in the spring after the short course championship meets.                                                 ·

During the short course season Sue rains five 2-hour and one 2V2-hour workouts per week. The 2-hour workouts average in the   neighbourhood of 6,000 to 7,000 yards and the 2 ½ -hour Saturday workouts usually consist of 7,000 and 8,000

At Christmas we try to get as many double workouts as possible with a total yardage of about 9,000 to 10,000 yards per day. Since · graduation in January, Sue has been swimming double workouts five days a week, averaging between 9,500 and 10,500 yards per day, and single workouts on Saturday of about 7,000 yards.

Since we do not work high yardage, we attempt to concentrate on very high quality and intensity. By concentrating on high intensity training we try to maximise the benefits of the time we do have in the water..

Sue works extremely hard at all times. Swimming “‘kicking and pulling, as well as daily work on all four strokes are a part of virtually all workouts. Through a great deal of hard work on her other strokes, she has improved her individual medley times to the point where her current best is 2:06.25, while a year ago her best time was 2: 11.5. Our training is very straightforward and without gimmicks-just plain hard work.

Prior to the fall of 1978, Sue had never been on a supplemental weight training program. However, after she returned to workouts in October of 1978, she began weight training at the Sports and Fitness Clinic in Buffalo three days a week. Tom Haney, the owner-director, and I work very closely in monitoring her weight training. The intensity of her weight training has gradually increased during the past year- and­ a-half, with signs of continual improvement.

Sue’s summer training. in 1979 consisted of double workouts from the last week in June through July. The New York state school year did not end until late June. Therefore, double workouts at an earlier date were virtually impossible since Sue’s commuting time from home to pool is at least 45 minutes each way. Since we do not have access to a long course facility, we continue training in the club’s 25 yard pool, averaging between 9,500 and 10,500 yards per day five or six days a week, depending on the meet schedule. While these factors might seem to be great handicaps, they do not work that way for Sue, as she generally swims better long course even though her training has always been in a short course pool.

Since October 1978 Sue’s program had been built around longer-term preparation for the Olympic Trials in 1980 and to get as much international experience behind her as possible. In 1979, she swam quite well on the U.S. team at the Women’s International Cup at Harvard in January and at the European meets in Holland and France in February.

Although she did not qualify for the Pan-Am team, Sue came back during the summer of 1979 to place second to Linda Jezek in the 100 meter backstroke and subsequently achieve the world’s best time for 1979 in that event in the USA-Great Britain Dual Meet. Her performance in the 200 back also improved over her national championship  time.

During the short course season of 1980, Sue finished third In the 100 meter backstroke at the Women’s International meet at Austin and placed fifth in the 200. At the U.S. Indoor Nationals at Austin, Sue then improved upon previous performances in placing second in the 200 in her best time and winning the 100 meter backstroke for her first national title. Her 26.53 fifth-place finish in the 50 meter freestyle in Texas indicated considerable improvement in this stroke, which had previously been her best.

Additionally,· during a 200 meter freestyle relay exhibition held at the conclusion of the Nationals, Sue swam an impressive 25.99 running split for 50 meters.

We feel that Sue is growing stronger and swimming more confidently all the time. Yet she still appears to have a great deal of room for continued improvement. We are taking it one step at a time with each meet serving as a stepping stone along the path. Where the path will lead only time will tell.



April 1980


Russian Salnikov is talking: The Road to Moscow One stroke at a Time

BY: Bill Bell


 The Ekran Club in Leningrad where Salnikov competes features the top USSR distance freestylers from throughout the country, including Rusin, Chayev, and Edouard Petrov, plus backstrokers Viktor Kuznetsov and Vladimir Shemetov, a promising 14- year-old whose bests are 1:02 for the 100 meter back arid 2:10 for the 200.

Since the backstrokers do nearly the same workouts as the distance swimmers, Kuznetsov and Shemetov were also at Mission, said Koschkin.

The club has only male swimmers but Salnikov explained that when he and his team mates go to the national team’s training center both sexes work out together.

The question naturally arose as to what he thought of the American club system in which both sexes train together?

“Too distracting,” he smiled. Salnikov said that a typical training session in Leningrad consisted of double workouts daily with 11 weekly sessions, ranging between seven and eight hours daily. The morning session lasts from 8 a.m. to 12 noon while the afternoon  session  usually  goes from 4 to  8 pm

Depending on the time of year and whether preparation for a major competition is involved the swimmers will go anywhere from 16,000 to 18,000 meter daily.

“Yardage is certainly a factor in workouts but the intensity is also quit important, II the Russian champion noted. “One needs balance. We don’t swim at competitive speeds but we don’t swim slow either. We have a good schedule with  proportions of both.”

Salnikov began swimming when he was eight but didn’t begin competing seriously until 1974. Originally a backstroker and an individual medleyist, he began concentrating on the distance freestyle when he came under Koschkin’s direction in 1973.

As for Moscow, Salnikov believes some dramatic time drops will be the order of the day for the victor. When appraised of the fact that a Soviet sports magazine has predicted the 1500-winning time at 14:33, Salnikov shot back, “too fast.” He feels 14;45 is a more realistic goal to strive for and believes breaking the 15 minute 1500 free barrier is psychological.

“We must condition our minds into accepting the fact that we can go faster. Then we will see some rapid improvement.”

What has he gained from training at Mission?

“It has been a very valuable experience. The main reason for our coming was to gain experience working against the best Americans and we have done that,” Salnikov said.

The Russians were joined during their second week at Mission ‘by five top American :freestylers Kyle Ditzler of Alabama, Bobby Hackett and Tim Maxim off of Harvard, Kent Martin of Tennessee, and Larry Countryman of New- mark High School in Delaware. Both Salnikov and Koschkin  admitted the presence of the quintet was a factor if motivating the workout intensity levels  of both groups of swimmers.

‘We came to train against the top American club and having these other people show up was quite a surprise, although a very pleasant one,” Koschkin said. “The swimmers tell the story of their coach (Schubert) and the results he has produced speak for themselves. It was good seeing Hackett again, who I remember so very well from Montreal and Berlin.

“What impresses me most about the Americans is their high level of maturation in terms of both their training methods and their attitude,” Koschkin continued. “We have increased our whole volume of training as a result of our observations of the Mission Viejo program.”

As the interview drew to a close, Salnikov was asked what motivated him, what kept him going day after day, meter after meter, workout after  workout.

“I am motivated by hoping for the best,” he smiled. “I have European Championship and World Championship medals but I haven’t an Olympic gold medal-yet.”




Enthusiasm and endurance:  Solid Rocca Foundation


By: Nort Thorton


Peter Rocca, a 22-year-old college graduate from the University of California-Berkeley, began his long swimming career at the age of 7 in a recreation program at Meadow Pools in Orinda, Calif. At age 8 he joined the Aqua Bear Swim Club, also of Orinda.

Peter was coached by Ron Richison for the next 10 years. Coach Richison had developed a number of national level swimmers. The best known was probably Karen Moe (now Karen Moe Thornton, coach of the women’s team at the University of California, an Olympic gold medalist and world record holder in the 200 meter butterfly). Ron Richison was also Peter’s high school coach at Campolindo High School where Peter held the interscholastic record for the 100 yard backstroke at 51.7 in 1974.

Peter’s daily workout yardage in those high school days was between 8,000 and 12,000 yards daily for five days a week. He rarely did any dryland exercise and it was obvious that he had little endurance in spite of his great speed.                                                     .

The great turning point of the University of California swimming program was when Peter Rocca decided to enroll at Cal. Not only is Peter a talented athlete, but he is a fine young man and a real leader. Peter was Cal’s team captain for the 1978 and 1979 seasons. Through his friendliness and thoughtfulness he was an inspiration and the heart of the Cat team during that period. Once Peter was on the Berkeley campus we successfully set out to put him on the 1976 Olympic team. His training emphasis dryland weight training and over-distance endurance swimming with an emphasis on stroke technique. Peter pretty much accomplished his goals by making the Olympic team and winning silver medals in both the 100 and 200 meter backstroke events.

Peter has also won two gold medals in Pan-Am backstroke competition. Peter has competed very well at the NCAA Champion-ships. His first year (1976), he placed second in 49.95 and 1:48.10 in both backstrokes.

You won’t find Peter’s name in the results of the 1977 NCAA meet, for Peter came down with mononucleosis and hepatitis the day before the team was to leave for the meet. Needless to say, this was a terrible blow to Peter and the Cal team. This illness was far more serious than anyone really imagined. I feel that Peter never totally recovered for a couple of years. In fact he is just now approaching the times he was doing in 1976.

In 1978 Peter won the NCAA 200 yard backstroke with a 1:47.48, placed second in the 100 back with a 50.56 and finished fifth in the 200 yard individual medley with a 1:50.57.

Peter’s senior year (1979) he won the 200 backstroke in 1:46.21, misjudged the heat of the 100 backstroke only to end up in the consolation final. From the consolation he swam 49.84 which would have placed third in the championship final. The fastest preliminary swim, in fact; Peter was also fourth in the 200 IM at 1:49.37.

To show you the type of team man that Peter is, he swam 12 hard races during the three-day NCAA Championships. Not only did he swim trials and finals of the 200 individual medley and both backstrokes, but he swam trials and finals of all three relays. Peter swam backstroke in the medley relay and a 100 and 200 freestyle leg on both of our freestyle relays to help Cal win its first national championship.

Had Peter not been trying to help his  team win a title, I’m certain he wouldn’t have had any trouble in the 100 yard backstroke qualifying heats. The thought of two more 200 yard freestyles and another 100 yard backstroke prompted him to let up a little while winning his heat, there- by qualifying seventh.

Peter had developed a philosophy about swimming that has allowed him to continue to participate in the sport of competitive swimming long after many others have retired. Peter has fun swimming. He doesn’t look at training as a negative experience and he doesn’t feel that winning is the only thing, but rather that the journey is more important than the destination.

We try to enjoy every part of the season and to profit from the friendships and lessons that are learned from swimming. Anyone who knows Peter knows he has learned his lessons well and I feel he is well set up for later life.

In fact, this attitude has helped Peter handle the Olympic  boycott issue.

Since Peter had finished his collegiate swimming eligibility at Cal after the 1979 season, he had continued to train with the Concord Swim Club with hopes of attending another Olympic Games. When the boycott became definite, it would not have been hard for Peter to become discouraged and drop out of the program. Even though he was naturally a little discouraged for a while, I feel that because of his super philosophy, he was able to bounce right back to his usual enthusiastic self. At this point Peter was able to experience the fun and challenge that swimming normally provides him.

Currently he is leading the world long course rankings in both the 100 and 200 meter backstroke (56.66 and 2:00.73). These times were accomplished while winning both events at the 1980 Indoor National Championships in Austin, Texas. (His 200 time is even faster than his 1979 world- leading 2:00.98 gold medal performance at the Pan-Am Games.) Peter has decided to continue to swim through the Irvine Nationals and do the best he can, which will more than likely be considerable.

Peter Rocca’s Training Schedule: Pete’s season is broken into four main parts: a quantity or base phase, a quantity- quality phase, a quality phase and the taper. During our season we run a three-day cyclical training schedule. This cycle includes over-distance; stroke technique and IM-type work; and quality-type sets.




  1. Over-distance phase of cycle
  1. Swim 10 x 100 easy/100 fast continuous, descend 1-5 and – 10.
  2. Kick 3 sets of 200 easy; 4 x 50 fast (on 50 )
  3. Pull 3 x 800 {30 sec. rest), descend 3
  4. Swim 1 x 800 easy (30 rest); 4 X 200 fast (on 2:30);

1 x 400 easy {30 sec.);

4 X 100 fast (on 1:15);

1 x 200 easy (30 sec.);

4 x 50 fast {on 20 sec.)

  1. Swim a few sprint 25’s of different strokes; loosen 300


  1. Stroke and/or individual medley phase of cycle
  1. Kick down/swim back on 1:00,800 IM, reverse IM order
  2. Kick 2 sets of 200, 150, 100, 50
    • (45 sec./50 yards) (Kick a fast last 50 of each one)
  3. Swim 1 x 200 and 3 x 100 of stroke work of each of fly, back, breast and free {10 sec.  rest)
  4. Pull x 400, breathe every 7; 16 x 50 (on 1:00), four of each stroke in IM order
  5. Swim 1 x 800 IM (on 11:00); 2 x

400 IM (on 5:30); 3 x 200 IM (on

2:45); 4 x 100 IM (on 1:30)

  1. Turns and starts; loosen 300



  1. Quality phase of cycle
  1. Swim 10 x 100 easy/50 fast {try for very fast times on numbers 3-5.7 and 10)
  2. Kick 1 x 400 easy 50, sprint 50; kick 4 x 50 easy/50 fast
  3. Pull x 400 easy, breathe every 7; 6 x 100 easy/50 fast
  4. Swim 4 x 100 stroke drills;

6 x 100 fast/50 easy on 2:00

(record 50 times)

  1. Turns and starts; loosen 300





The Development of a World Champion  Backstroker


Story by: Laszlo Kiss Translated by: Andras Gall


Kristina Egerszegi was born Aug.16, 1974. She started swimming at age of 4 under the guidance of Miklos Kiss, a colleague of mine for 24 years. The chief engineer of a large factory, he teaches swimming to children as a hobby, but he does it on a world-class level.

The name of my club is Spartacus of · Budapest, and I served as the head coach here since 1963. I have also been the coach of the Hungarian national women’s team for 34 years.

This longevity is unprecedented in sport in Hungary.

Spartacus of Budapest has always been an important center of Hungarian swimming, raising a host of world-class swimmers during the decades of its existence. The fidelity of its coaches to the club has also always been traditional.

The Early days

Miklos Kiss-who always let me know he comes across a” rough diamond”­ first told about Kristina and her potential when she was 5 years old. I quickly noticed the thin, smiling little girl whose backstroke was beautiful. (By the way, Kiss, who used to be backstroker himself, usually begins teaching with the backstroke.)

Later on, Miklos kept asking me to observe Kristina’s development in her other strokes, too, and soon it became obvious that we’d have to take care of a little girl’s swimming career as well as her academic development. So, when she started elementary school in 1980, I directed her to Gyorgy Thury, an excellent colleague of mine.

Her development had progressed steadily when I began coaching her in 1986 when she was 12. I quickly realized I had found a real pearl, whose sports career had to be nurtured with a lot of responsibility. What followed were ten years during which I was fortunate enough to work together with Eger (mouse in Hungarian), and she blossomed into the greatest female swimmer in history as well as one of the finest medleyists. It was an unforgettable for her as well.

When I first diagnosed Kristina’s technique in the four strokes, I immediately realized that she was an ideal backstroker-with small buttocks, thin thighs, broad shoulders, large palms, loose, flexible shoulders and excellent buoyancy. These characteristics enabled her to become a world-class backstroker.


Keys to Kristina’s Development

Of course, I did not want her to specialize at the age of 12 because it would have hindered her development later. Even in the preceding six years, I asked Thury to train Kristina in all four strokes-a sort of medley preparation.

I was aware of the interaction of the four strokes. I also knew that “Eger” needed to retain her outstanding flexibility, thin body and will to work during the strength enhancing and weight training segments of her training.

Therefore, at the age of 12, she mostly swam freestyle, while her backstroke-which is the easiest style as far as the blood circulation system is concerned, for the backstroker is able to take a breath at each stroke­ was used only to refine her technique. I was extremely interested in how we . could develop an ideal bac stroke arm stroke, so I invented special drills for Kristina. On my team, lane 8 usually belongs to the most youngest and most talented swimmer-Eger’s lane nowadays is occupied by Agnes Kovacs, the new European record­ holder in the 200 meter breaststroke. The lane beside the wall was made extremely narrow-only some 60 centimeters wide (about two feet!).

Eger had to swim in this lane, holding an empty tin box on her forehead! Since she had very little space in which to swim, she was forced to pull her arm not beside, but practically under her body, with a deep grasp very similar to that of the freestyle.. Then followed a rotating movement with the hand under the buttocks,

That’s the way we revolutionized the arm work of the backstroke-by developing a perfect symmetry of arm strokes on both sides. The stability necessary for this difficulty series of moves was guaranteed by the empty tin on Kristina’s forehead. We also developed her continuous six-beat kick. She was so good at it that I quickly began to say that she was born with this kick.

Breathing in backstroke is not discussed too much; Kristina always took a breath when she swung her right arm back.

In general I feel that backstroke uses the strangest series of motions in swimming because the swimmer is getting to the wall of the pool backward.

At the same time, he/she sees almost everything peripherally-nearly as much as in the breaststroke.

In other sports-for instance, in track and field- this is inconceivable. I don’t think there will ever be a race in backward running.

Kristina was an ideal pupil. I wish every colleague of mine had swimmers like Kristina. Right from the beginning, we made sure that. she retained her previously acquired perfect technique, and we always made sure she was in perfect technical condition before every major competition.

I have always said one of the most important attributes of a world class athlete is the ability to observe oneself. Of course, this cannot and must not replace the assistance of the coach. For many years, I was unable to get female training partners for Kristina-she was so good-but swimming with boys did not seem to be the ideal solution either. As a result, she usually had to swim against the clock.

I explained to Kristina that the times I set for her in practice are equivalent to scoring a goal in soccer or making a basket in basketball. They are her targets. Her motivation was so high that whenever she did not reach her target time, it was she who would ask me to let her repeat the work.

She thought she would have reached the targeted time, and usually did make it on the second try! Before Atlanta Olympic Games-when I felt she was over motivated- I did not set targets for her in the last half year. I think I was right in doing so, for she was an experienced, creative swimmer at the time, preparing for the third Olympic Trials.

I believe that for Kristina, the mixed(medley) preparation eliminated the monotony of training. We were also able to preserve her perfect technique

The Tree Training Macrocycles We have very few world-class swimmers in Hungary. Therefore, we always plan the three training macrocycles within the yearly program very carefully. This system of three macrocycles was invented by Tamas Szechy, my colleague and coach of the Hungarian men’s team.

Macrocycle No.1 (September to December).

The primary purpose’ of this training phase is to enhance the general physical the general physical capabilities of the swimmer.

Therefore, we do a lot of cross­ training: running for ten minutes; four times a week; lots of gymnastics; plenty of sets with rubber tubing.

I always made sure during this strength-enhancing phase that Kristina’s ideal shape, figure, flexibility and weight did not change drastically.

In 1988, she was 166cm tall(5-5 ½)

and weighed 46kg(101pounds); eight

years later, she measured 174 cm(5- 8 ½) and weighed 56 kg(123 pounds).

In the water, our primary target during this phase is to develop the athlete’s  circulation system.

Therefore, at the end of the macrocycle in December, we clock each swimmer’s times for relatively long distances-BOO or 1500 meters free. At the same time, we continue to focus on improving stroke technique.

 At the beginning of the macrocycle in September, the coaching staff always meets to discuss the technical deficiencies of each· swimmer. As for training, the swimmers spend most of their time swimming freestyle; the other styles are reserved for technical drills.

Macrocycle No. 2 (January to April).

Our primary focus during the second macrocycle is to enhance both quickness and endurance. Look carefully at the patterns of our morning training session illustrated in the accompanying training sidebar (page 12) with their stress on separate arm and legwork as well as on hypoxic training.

In  the afternoon, we combine leg and arm work, focusing mainly on the swimmer’s primary stroke.

At the end of the second cycle, each athlete must demonstrate top spring condition; in the case of younger swimmer, they are expected to clock better than in previous summer.

Macrocycle No.3 (May to August)

In the third macrocycle, we prepare the athlete for the year’s major event. The goal is to swim faster than his/her best time the previous year.

During this phase, everything centers around preparing to swim fast.

Even during morning training sessions, we try to create competition-like circumstances by practicing tactical elements; at the same time, we never lose sight of the importance of maintaining perfect stoke technique.


Training Kristina

Here are some samples workouts Kristina did at different ages during her preparation for major competition:


Age 12-13

A.M.  (long course)

800 meters freestyle warm-.up breathe every fifth stroke 8×200 meter free on  3:00

8×200 meter back (arms only) on 3:30

2x(4x 100) meter back (arms only) on 1:30

2x(4x 100) meter back (legs only) 800 meter backstroke  technique

4x 33 meter sprints, 1 of each stroke

6,533 meters total


P.M. (Long course)

400 meter IM warm-up 8×200 meter IM

30 min. backstroke drill 2×1500 meter free on 21:00 4×33 meter sprints with starts 7,433 meters and drills total


Age 14-15

A.M..(Long course)

400 meter free warm-up breath every fifth stroke

4x(2×100) arms only; 4 butterfly, 4

back on 1:30

1×2000 meter backstroke, near maximum effort

4x(2×100); 4 butterfly, 4 back on


8×200 meters on 4:00

1 technique, 2 butterfly, 2 back, 2 breast

1 time target, 2 free

10×200 meter free, breath every fifth stoke. descend #1-5,  descend #6-10

on 2:50

4×33 meter sprints

5,933 meters total


P.M.·(Long course) 400 IM warm-up 8x(2×100) meters

2 fly on 1:30, 2 back on 1:30, 2

breast on 1:45, 2 free on 1:20 200 meter easy swim

12×66 meter backstroke sprints 8×400 meter free, descend each pair, on 6:00

4×33 meter sprints

6,333 meters total


Age 16-17

A.M..(Long course)

400 meter warm-up breath every fifth stroke

8x(8×100) meters(arms only) on 1:30 2 of each stroke, 4 time


4×400 meters (legs only} on 7:00. 1 of each stroke

2×400 meters medley on 7:00 one concentrating on technique; the second is time target

12×100 meters free on 1:15, six

  • breathing every seven stroke, six breathing every fifth stroke

4×33 meters sprints

7,333 meters total


P.M. (Long course)

400 IM warm-up



16×200 meters on 4:00;p 4 fly, 4 back, 4 breast, 4 free

4x(3×66) meters sprints; one set of each stroke

2×200 back on 3:30; 100% effort 2×400 meters breast on 7:00 12×100 meters free on 1;14, six breathing every fifth stroke, six breathing every seven stroke 6,800 meters total


Volume 1997/ Issue 4

Pablo Morales- Lord of the Flow

 By: Cecil M. Colwin


The Entry and Body Position

We discussed Mary T. Meagher’s beautiful stroke, and how, as her arms enter, her hands actually seem to be higher than her elbows, and she looks almost like a giant condor about to launch itself from a cliff to soar out over the ocean. Pablo agreed, and said: “I’ll tell you who had the most natural hip position, without having a lot of leg drive, was. Summer Sanders. Her balance forward was amazing; the fulcrum at her ups brought her naturally so high out of the water.”

Asked if he allowed his chest to submerge lower than his elbows at the entry, Pablo said: ‘I can only answer your question, by making the motion now, as I talk to you, visualizing, what I do in the water. I can only guess without having looked at it on video, nor having specifically concentrated on it, and I feel like it does; I feel my chest does go lower than my hands, maybe slightly, but, mind you, not so much that tile elbows drop. I had a tendency to over-reach, as a 16- or 17-year-old, because I always Thought that length equaled efficiency.” ‘I did it at to such an extreme that I was over-extending my arms and slipping at the front end of my stroke, and, at that point, I was getting, some elbow drop.”

I asked Pablo if he was entering his arms then waiting out front too long. “Yes, and I would be slipping water and over-reaching so much that my elbows would drop slightly. I wasn’t getting anything out of the catch that I could grab.”

Pablo said that he swam everything in training; “a lot of freestyle, a lot of IM work, even though, as a 13’- to 15-year-old, I didn’t compete in the 800 and the mile, but I trained different sets using these as multiples, and I tried to enter in a lot of events in some meets, using them as ‘training meets. ‘ I would enter the mile, and I would enter the 800, but, as I got older, this became less and less frequent”

Asked what he thought was the difference in arm posture between the crawl and entry and the butterfly arm entry, Pablo replied that he thought the arm is straighter in the butterfly entry.

“When I recover my arms, and when they enter the water, I tell myself not to extend my arms too much, but to enter as my thumbs slide into the water. Having watched myself swimming on video, its looks as if my arms are as extended as far as they can go without really over-reaching. I feel as if my elbows are still up, but not quite as high as when my hands enter the water. In the butterfly entry, my arms probably extend more than than in the freestyle entry Commenting on the feel of the water during the butterfly entry, Pablo said that he felt the water first on his hand, and then on his forearm, as he started to reach forward into the catch. “So, as my arms enter, I feel the water first on my thumbs, then on my forefingers, then wrists, and forearms.”

“Pablo A Gentleman-Athlete” says George Haines. When I asked George Haines if he remembered Pablo when he was a young swimmer at Santa Clara, George responded in typical fashion: “Did I know Pablo? I’ve known him since he was knee-high to a grasshopper!” “When Pablo was going, to pre-school, my son, Kyle, who is the same age as Pablo, was there with him. It was right off the campus at Santa Clara High School I could look through the fence of tile athletic field at these kids at the nursery school. They couldn’t see me. I could watch Pablo and my son playing on the swings together. ”

“Well, when he was older, he swam for John Spencer at Santa Clara, and then he swam in Bill Thompson’s group. I was still there, and then, in 1974, I went down to UCLA, and I think, a year later or so, he went up to Mitch’s (Mitch Ivey) group, and Bill Thompson had him for a couple of years before I left. He was some talent. They used to call me over said say: ‘Look at this guy. , And I’d say: ‘Hey son, what’s your name?’ and he’d say: ‘Pablo.’ And I’d say. ‘Pablo, you keep at it!'”

“And then I left to go to UCLA. This boy became a gentleman athlete, and I put him in the same class with Steve Clark and Don Schollander. Pablo Morales never forgot his early coaches. He remembers guys like John Spencer, and he remembers Bill Thompson. He knows who the coaches are who gave him his background. When I went to Stanford, my first year at Stanford, Pablo was a freshman on the men’s team. I was coaching the women’s team, but Pablo came over to me and started talking all about the Santa Clara Swim Club, and what he did there, and who coached him. He never forgot. He said: “I owe a lot to all those people, and to the Santa Clara Swim Club. That guy’s unbelievable! ”

Goal-Setting on the Path to Success

Today, Pablo modestly insists that everything he achieved in competitive swimming involved “only a little bit of ability”, but that the main ingredient to success lies in perseverance and realistic goal­ setting.

Pablo emphasizes that improvement didn’t always come right away. For example, improving his butterfly action only came very gradually.

Pablo set his goals at the beginning of each season. He stresses that he didn’t just set goals and forget about them. Each workout demanded a specific mindset.

Over time, Pablo learned how daily workout performance related to the accomplishment of his goals.                                     “I had to always focus on my goals, on a daily basis, and not only from day to day, and from week to week, but also from each training set to the next, and from repeat to repeat. ” Pablo says that he thought · constantly about his goals, and what he needed to do to achieve them. In time he developed a workout focus that helped him improve, and produce the kind of effort that yielded positive results. More than anything, it was this approach that eventually contributed to Pablo Morales’ success as an athlete.



MARCH 1998


Australian Coach Profile:

How Doug Frost Prepared His Prize Pupil World Champion IAN THORPE

BY: Paul Quinlan


After the outstanding results of the Australian swimming team at the 8th World Championship in Perth,

Australia, SWIMNEWS plans a series of profiles of the Australian coaches who led their swimmers to success.

The home of Doug Frost’s club is the Sutherland Aquatic Center in the southern suburbs of Sydney. The facilities  include 50-m and 25-m pools, both indoor and outdoor.

Training is done year-round in the outdoor pools, while the indoor facilities are dedicated to community teaching, fitness and recreational programs.

For many years Frost has been known for his Padstow Indoor Club, based in his own 25-m indoor pool, where he still operates his development and teaching programs. The opportunity to move to 50-m facility came when Coach Hodge resigned from the Aquadot Club to take up the position of· director at the New South Wales Institute of Sports in October 1997, immediately after the Australian world championship trials.

At those trials a 15-year-old was selected to swim the 400 freestyle and 4×200 freestyle relay events. Ian Thorpe, whose sister Christina is a former Australian team member, had made his national team debut at  the

1997 Pan Pacific championship Fukuoka, Japan. Thorpe swam to second place behind teammate  Grant Hackett in the 400 freestyle. At 14, he was the youngest male to swim for Australia since the legendary Jon Konrads, who has taken a personal interest in encouraging the newcomer.

Frost is a level three(highest level) coach in the national coach accreditation scheme of the Australian Coaching Council and the Australian swimming federation. He has been recognized by his peers with a number of coaching awards including Australian Age Group Coach of the Year in 1997 and the National Coaches Association outstanding coaching achievement prize.

He was member of the national team staff at the 1997 Pan Pacific championships and 1998 world championships, as well as a member of New South Wales touring teams. He has for many years been an active board member of the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association.

Computer technology is core element in planning for his star athletes. He says,” I wouldn’t be without my laptop. If you want to be fully organized in your coaching you need to work with a computer.”

Frost’s long list of national team swimmers include; Lisa Burnes, ’78 Commonwealth; Wendy Bowie ’82 Commonwealth; Phillip Bryant ’92 Olympics,’94 World and Commonwealth and ’95 Pan Pacs; Christina Thorpe ’95 Pan Pacs; Broke Townsend ’97 Pan Pacs, Ian Thorpe ’97 Pan Pacs and ’98 World; Simon Cowley ’98 World.

After all those years of coaching at the top level, Frost discovered Ian Thorpe in his own club. Also very skillful! in cricket and football, Thorpe was selected for the New South Wales school team from there joined the Padstow developmental squad under Frost’s guidance. At 12, he made waves at the junior nationals. In 1996, he was one of the :,tars of the championships winning nine gold medals and posting some impressive times. It was a natural step from there to the Pan Pac team.

Frost’s computer-planned annual program was gradual and included the following training sessions and mileage.


Ian Thorpe    Birthday OCT. 13, 1982

14 years         7-9 sessions per week

40-50 km

  • 15 years 10 session per week

40-70 km

Two best long course sets done by Ian are:


30×50 on 1:00- All under 26.5 secs 4x4x100 – Last four under 57.0 secs

– Best one 55.2 secs


In 1998 Frost will be preparing his protege for the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In the long term he believes that Thorpe’s best events will be in the freestyle, from 400 down to 100.

Already a world champion in 400 free and a member of the Australian 4×200 gold medal free relay team, Thorpe has achieved some of the goals set by his coach. With an impressive 51.35 in the New South Wales a week after the world championships in Perth, he will be a strong candidate for the freestyle sprint and middle distance medals in international competition.

When asked to rate Ian alongside the current top Australian distance swimmers, namely Kieren Perkins, Daniel Kowalski, and Grant Hackett, Frost said,” I have the greatest respect for all of Ian’s competitors, including his Australian teammates. This is why the standard is so high in this country.”

“Ian has a great stroke technique and with his fantastic work ethic should be a force in this arena for many years.”

Commenting on the future of swimming in Australia, Frost remarked that, “With the assistance now available for coaching in Australia it is becoming more financially rewarding, but is still the age-old problem of lack of pool space for training.”

And on the future of the sport world­ wide, this top coach said,” I am hoping that FINA can keep our sport DRUG FREE!”




Madame Butterfly in the Wings

On the 17th of February, Australia ‘s Susie O’Neill broke the oldest world record in the books­ Mary T. Meagher’s short course meters mark in the 200 fly, set over 18 years ago. Now her sights are set on what has until now been the untouchable-Madame Butterfly’s long course record set in Brown Deer, Wis., In August 1981.

By: Craig Lord

 It was just a rhetorical question for a reigning Olympic champion: “So, you want to win the 200 meter butterfly in Sydney 2000?” Susie O’Neill gave her answer succinctly, her caution somewhat surprising:”Probably”

But don’t be fooled by her answer nor her reaction to her coach, Scott Volkers, when he prompted the newly crowned world short course world record holder to be a little more assertive:” I think you mean I do want to win.”

There’s the mildest hint of a sigh as she argues:” Yeah, but I’m not going to slit my wrist if I don’t win- it’s only a sport.” Yeah, right!

O’Neill likes to downplay her priorities. Take her marriage to Dr. Cliff Fairley last fall-or spring if you happen to live Down Under.

“Was it a good day?”

Yeah, it was a good day… more than a good day… basically, I said ‘I do and that was it.” Yeah, right!

Her mocking smile tells of a happiness way beyond her words; the term ‘seeing is believing,’ fits this bronzed, blue-eyed blonde more snugly than her racing cap. It is not that she speaks to deceive. She is sincere. Diversion, not deception, is the greater game.

Nature helps to explain her character: a bird flapping about on the ground, one wing apparently broken, seemingly near death. When you get close, the bird rights its wing and takes off, the fittest flyer you ever laid eyes on, its theatrics revealed as a ploy to divert your attention from the nest egg. The act is more instinct than intention.

So it is with O’Neill, trough in her, there is greater complexity.

Competitors might be fooled, but this art of understatement has as much to do with self-defense against the inner dangers of over-confidence and arrogance as O’Neill prepares to do battle before a knowledgeable and partisan crowd in Sydney that has spent years counting her every stroke and leaning on her every word in newspapers and magazines; on airwave and satellite.

Nothing that O’Neill, Australian Sportswoman of the Year in 1998, is recognized by more than 90 percent of Australians and was among the top 10 in a survey of” all-time Aussie Sports Stars,” Volkers sums it up best;” She’s hugely well-known in Australia, but she’s coped really well. It’s her nature; she’s not at all big­ headed.”

When she smiles, it’s a captivating smile that floods the room like an Australian dawn. And it draws myriad more from everyone around her, their reaction as predictable as the grin on a baby’s face when Mom peers over the crib.

It’s just that it’s hard to imagine anyone not liking Susie O’Neill.

History in Malmo

Sitting in the seats overlooking the Aq-Va-Kul pool in Malmo, Sweden, Don Talbot, Australia’s head coach, asserts: “Our girls have a lot to do. Sam(  Samantha  Riley)  and  Susie are going well, but even there, Susie needs to get away from all the promotions  stuff. She’s been doing too much, and it’s bound to affect the way she swims. She’s still got some work to do.”

Within a few hours, as taunt Talbot, the Queensland flyer had broken the oldest surviving world record, lowering the legendary Mary Meagher’s world short course record from 2:05.65 to 2: 05.37 in the 200 meters butterfly. Here was sun in a winter sky, a flower blooming on a parched plain, the end of an 18- year drought.

Doubtless, Talbot was reminded of a year ago when he roasted Volkers on the deck in front of O’Neill, accusing both of complacency after she was beaten by Mette Jacobsen of Denmark. The Olympic champion, who remains unbeaten in long course competition over 200 meters since 1994, refused to speak to Talbot for five months in a very public falling-out. She told reporter Nicole Jeffrey of The Australian: “… He yelled at Scott about me-on and on and on-about how every race I’ve had in the last four years has been too easy, and now that’s caught up with me, and I won’t win again unless I improve things.”

The pair have long since made up, and both are now better for it.

O’Neill’s been working harder, recently training 160,000 meters during the two-week period before the European rounds of the World Cup compared to 101,000 meters during the same period last year. Talbot, as well, has changed. He offered-for him- a rare apology:” There’s no bigger fan of Susie O’Neill than me;” His long experience and vast success make that assertion all the greater a compliment.

One of Susie’s biggest attributes is also her greatest weakness; she can easily be talked into something…. and talked out of it just as easily.

When she’s talked into something, she’s then able to carry it out as you want it. That’s really valuable when it comes to stroke  correction.

“She’s a great athlete as well as being the kind of girl you’d love to have as a daughter,” said Volkers of his charge. “As far as female athletes go, Susie’s one of the top ones to train. She’s a hard racer, tough inside. She likes her personal space, and she used to be really bad with that- no one was allowed in that space. But she mellowed out. The stability of an athlete is important. She needs to be helped along when she gets down, as they all do. My job is to help her focus.”


How They train Susie O’Neill


Workout# 1

(Monday A.M., Short course Meters) 3×500 freestyle and another stroke on 7:30, descend ·

4×50 on 1:15 first 12-1/2 and last 12-

½ fast 299 easy Main set

7 x 300 fly with fins on 5:00, holding heart rate at threshold (approx. 180 heart rate; 205 max HR)

Bes.t average is about 3:28 per 300 200 dive effort with fins under 2:08 (PB is 2:05,3)

400 choice easy

500 freestyle hypoxic; breathing every 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th stroke by 50 meters

30x 50 on 50 sec. with fins. Alternate freestyle/choice/frestyle/fly

200 easy


6,600 .meters

Workout #2

(July 23,1998, P.M., short course meters)

200 swim

100 kick no board 200 freestyle/fly

2x 100 kick with board on 1:40 200 drill

100 fly, short rest, hard

. 200 drill

2x 100 fly, short rest 200 easy

Main set threshold to maximum heart rate  ·

8 x 100 freestyle on 1:30

100 easy

7 X 100 freestyle above threshold

(3 on 1:30, 4 on 1:40)

100 easy

8 x 100 freestyle at max. heart rate on 1:40

1000; 500 choice + 5 x 100 IM

10 x 100 fins on 1:20 to 1:30

5 x (200 + 4 x 25 on 30 secs.,

alternating 25 easy, 25 hard)

700 swim down

TOTAL: 8200 meters

Workout #3

Quality (Aug. 3, 1998)

500 freestyle and choice-explode to 25 meters

400 freestyle-explode to 25 meters

400 IM explode to 25 meters

300 IM explode to 25 meters

200 main stroke-explode to 25 meters

100 easy

2 x 100 easy at HR 50 beats below max.200 at HR 30 beats below max. 4 x 100 dive effort

500 swim·

Broken 200 by 50s- Dive, push, push, push on 1:40

Swim-down 4 x 200, alternating freestyle/choice, then 50 kick 200 easy

TOTAL: 5200 meters




Distance  Greats of the early ‘70s

The Australians and Americans dominated distance swimming back in the early 1970s, thanks in large part to swimmers Bobby Hackett, Tim Shaw, Stephen Holland, Brad Cooper and Rick DeMont.

By: Chuck Warner


“Four Champions, One Gold Medal,” the acclaimed book by Coach Chuck Warner, chronicles the preparation for the 1500 meter freestyle at the 1976 Montreal Olympics by four of the greatest distance champions in the history of swimming: Americans Brian Goodell, Tim Shaw and Bobby Hackett; and Australian Stephen Holland.

All four were dedicated, focused, hard-working swimmers, and in the course of their careers, all four performed spectacular feats. But only one man could win the 1500 in Montreal.

Warner’s book records the development of each of these four champions from childhood through the ’76 Games. He reports their ups and downs, their successes and failures, and he delves deeply into the training and technique work each of them did under the tutelage of master coaches.

The book is both an outline on how to produce a distance champion and an inspiration to young swimmers everywhere who hope, someday, to stand atop the victory podium at the Olympic Games.

Here are two excerpts from Warner’s book:

Training Fast

One autumn day in 1974, Bobby Hackett sat in Coach Joe Bernal’s living room with his mother and father. Just as Bernal had done each fall, ha invited each swimmer to come to his house with his parents to discuss their general season plan, particularly in regard to meets and travel- one of the advantages of having his small Gator team.

The coach began to explain his plan for the year as young Bobby Hackett continued to brood over his embarrassment in Concord, Calif. (site of the ’74 U.S. summer nationals).

The 15-year-old interrupted, “I’ll do anything you want, Coach. I’m ready to work.”.

Bobby’s self-esteem had always come from athletics. He had not given up baseball to become an average swimmer. He was determined to whatever work his coach deemed necessary a great one.

Through the evening’s conversation, Coach Bernal outlined the expected travel plans and expenses for Bob and Joyce Hackett. But he was distracted. The coach had noted the serious tone in Bobby’s voice and sincere vow of commitment.

Bernal outlined a plan to train exclusively for the summer national championship in Kansas City. This would mean training through the World Championship Trials In June. He didn’t feel Bobby had much of a chance to make that team, and he didn’t want to lose valuable training time tapering for the Trials. They talked about Bobby winning the 1500. at summer nationals in Kansas City, just as they had talked about him winning in Concord.

Bernal knew about the “animal lane” in Mission Viejo. He had heard the stories about training that approached 17000 meters per day up to six days per week.

Coach Bernal believed that Hackett could compete with Brian Goodell and the swimmers from Mission Viejo with significantly less training volume if they did their swimming at higher quality. However, he also recognized the need for Bobby to increase his volume from previous year and do more work than his teammates.

The coach and swimmer agreed that Bobby would eliminate his traditional two days rest for local meets. Bobby also agreed to increase the volume of his training by completing additional warm-up at each session  of his meets for a total of 3500 yards. This added 7000 yards each day of a prelim and final meet.  They discussed the time goal of 15:30 in  the 1500 at the Kansas City Meet.

Hackett began the fall with usual dryland exercises, stroke work and games. As he entered the month of December, his training emphasized over distance work. Sets such as 3x1500s of backstroke, descending and swimming particularly fast on the third were Hackett training always progressed and built up to the team’s training trip during the Christmas holidays. When the team went to Puerto Rico during the school vacation, Coach Bernal increased Bobby’s volume to as much as 11-12000 yards per  practice.

One of Hackett strongest qualities had long been the ·acceptance of personal responsibility for his success or failure in swimming.

During the previous summer, he had lost that sense of personal accountability, and with it, a measure of his own self-discipline.

It is easy to understand his difficulty since self-discipline comes from having high self-esteem. When Bobby had struggled to fit into other people’s standards at Fordham Prep, he’d lost sight of his own standards. Five months had passed since the Concord Nationals, and Coach Bernal designed his training system to increase progressively in intensity over a three-week period. He began the first week with more volume and progressed to more and more quality each week.

Coach Bernal was challenging Bobby more than ever.

Bobby, his focus renewed, was meeting all the challenges. With each successful day, his pride and self-esteem were growing.

Coach Bernal designed his training system to increase progressively in intensity over a three-week period. He began the first week with more volume and progressed to more and more quality each  week.

In previous season, Chuck Felice or another of Bobby’s teammates might challenge him on the sprints or other high-quality work during the third week. But not this season. Day after day and week after week, Bobby harnessed and focused his energy toward tremendous training. Quality work increased during the season as the coach included more 200 and 100 repeats. Broken 1650s were common.

Bernal’s favorite set began with 500, then 400,’300, 200, 100, 75, 50, 25.

On the first round, Bobby swam as fast as possible on very short rest. Hackett might repeat the set two or three times, going up and down the ladder. Each round of the set, the . rest interval would became greater, and with the increase in rest, Bobby pushed himself to swim faster.

As the Gator team became more and more successful, swimmers flocked to the program. The number of athletes per lane swelled in the little Fordham pool. There was now an average of 10 swimmers per lane. The team members would swim a circle pattern in each lane with each individual leaving three to four seconds after previous swimmer.

When Bobby and his teammates were swimming fast, a whirlpool effect took place in the pool, which helped them swim even faster. As the fastest swimmer on the team, Hackett would repeatedly catch up and pass his teammates in the circle. Occasionally, he would flip just. before a wall to avoid hitting someone.

At practice in January 1975, the team was doing a series of swims on  a short rest, followed by a  short break, and then as fast 1650 as each could go. The coach planned to repeat the set at least twice through. Bobby was breaking through the “pain barrier” by working on technique and sending his body into auto pilot when the pain became severe.

He was swimming particularly fast that day. When he finished his second 1650, Coach Bernal looked at Hackett and looked at the clock. He said, “Bobby, you must have miscounted. You have another 50.” Bobby rarely miscounted. He had developed the habit of turning at the shallow end of the Fordham pool, rolling a little more than normal onto his side, and glancing behind him to see the pace clock hung high on the wall. He always checked his splits. In doing so, he knew the pace he was holding in his training set. He had been working toward breaking 15 · minutes in 1650 and knew it was necessary to split his 500’s at about 4:35 to have a chance to succeed.

That is about what he thought had been his pace on the previous 1650. Coach Bernal had timed his last 1650 at 15:02, which he thought was too fast to be correct because the American record at the time was 15:15. He thought that Bobby must have miscounted. When Bobby’s teammates finished, they said, “Bobby, what was your time on that one? You were swimming fast!”

He told them, “About 15:29,” adding the time for the extra 50.

“You went an extra 50?” one of his teammates questioned. As happens with many teams in swimming, a disagreement ensued over who had miscounted and who had not. Coach Bernal wasn’t sure either.

The coach rarely divulged when practice would end. He continually challenged his swimmers with hard sets until he became satisfied with session’s work productivity.

Hackett did each set like it was the last one of the session.

Then Coach Bernal might announce an additional set to the tired swimmers. When that happened, Bobby reveled in the challenge to still train fast on to next set. So , Bernal commanded, “Let’s do it again.”

This particular day, the next swim was a 1650 for time.

Hackett again raced around teammates, under them, and, occasionally, over them. If anyone hung on the wall, it meant someone could be turning on top of them.

Naturally, the most likely candidate to turn in top of another swimmer was Hackett..

Sometimes he would turn a few yards ahead of the wall to avoid a collision.

When Bobby completed the swim, the coach’s watch read “14.58” Although aided by the “whirlpool’ and occasional short-cuts, Hackett had swum 17 seconds faster than American  record-in practice!


Aerobic Training and Aerobic Base: Coaches’ Philosophies- The Secret Behind Their Success

Aerobic Training and Aerobic Base: Coaches’ Philosophies- The Secret Behind Their Success


November 1987-January 1988


All that yardage- Contrary to some recently popularized theories, there is no substitute for a good solid aerobic base.”

By James E Counsilman, Ph.D.

 There is not total agreement among the coaches, but over the past 40 years has been a trend among world-class swimmers to increase their training distance to the point that some researchers and coaches believe our swimmers may be training too far.

Today the average nationally ranked swimmer trains between 10,000 and 20,000 yards or meters a day at the peak of the season. This requires them to train four to six hours a day during this period. In the past couple of years a large number of articles have appeared in swimming publications that challenge this concept of mega­ meters or yards of training. In an article by David Salo, entitled “a Quick look at the Distance Myth,” the author states:

As a coach I was bent on achieving a minimum of 9,000 yards per training session because that was how it was supposed to be done. No real swimmer could expect to be the best if they didn’t put in at least 100,000 yards/week. But is this the only way for a swimmer to train and furthermore is it the best way to achieve a swimmer’s peak potential? The author goes on to say,

This article will challenge some long held beliefs on training based on scientific evidence reported over the past few years.

Salo reinforces the credibility of this argument by referring to a study by Garry Dudley entitled, “Influence of exercise Intensity and Duration on Biomechanical Adaptations in Muscles” published in the Journal of applied Physiology. He claims that Dudley’s research questions the value of the distance based concepts of training: “The first finding was the observation that there appeared to be a duration threshold of training whereby additional time beyond one hour does not increase the capacity of the muscle.”

Before proceeding further I want to discuss a few facts concerning Dudley’s research that the· secondary author fails to mention. Fact #1: The subjects in Dudley’s experiments were rats, not humans. This approach was obligatory because the subjects had to be sacrificed at the end of the experiment. This, however, does not give anyone the license to extrapolate that human muscle tissue would duplicate the precise time pattern that occurred in rat muscle tissue in the study. Fact #2: In the original research, only one parameter, that of the mitochondria content (Cytocrome C) of the muscle fibers, was measured. What happened to the other 99 variables that Dr. Tuttle mentioned 40 years ago?


It is a common failing among many researchers to assume that there are no changes at all if there are no changes in the variables they have selected to measure. This mistake was not made in Dudley’s report, but was made by Salo.


So far I have been critical of the researcher, but I have ‘reserved some criticism for the coaches. Not all researchers are as I have just describe them Many are doing excellent work and not naively advocating radical changes in current training methods. Good working relationships exist with the coaches and researchers at many Universities. I believe we have an excellent arrangement here, at Indiana University.

As I mentioned earlier, some coaches are receptive to the concept of reduced workloads for swimmers for the wrong reasons. They are attracted to the possibility of less work for themselves. These coaches deserve criticism.

I also don’t want to give the impression that I believe that some coaches may not be training their athletes too hard and pushing them though too much over-distance training. I am sure this is happening, but I am also confident it is not a – widespread practice. On the contrary, judging from the conversations I have had with coaches on many levels, I would say that the majority of these countries swimming programs are under­ training not over-training. This is as it should be. Many young Americans take piano lessons and practice an hour or two a daily. When a child with great potential is identified, his teacher is faced with a dilemma. He or she knows the child’s practice regiment must be upgraded in terms of time and teaching expertise. The teacher must undertake a far greater commitment or send the promising child to a person who will do so. The teacher must also make the child aware that he or she will have to practice from four to six hours a day if that child’s is to reach his potential. It’s the same with a talented swimmer. Not all competitive swimmers should have to train_ between 10,000 and 20,000 maters  or yards a day. But, once the swimmer has demonstrated extraordinary physical potential and the motivation to excel, the coach is obligated to see that the swimmer  has a well-planned ·program that will allow the athlete to develop this· potential to fullest and that doubtless means 10,000 to 20,000 yards or meters daily at the season ‘s peak. It is essential that any program designed to help a swimmer realize his or her full potential be guided by certain concepts of training. The expert coach bases his entire coaching  philosophy  on concepts.

The researchers can help the coach more sharply define these concepts to the end that they may more fully understand them, but, at this· point in· the evolution of training it is primarily the coaches who have developed the concepts through the process of trial and error.

Of great importance is a concept I mentioned earlier: that of specificity of training. It stated that the body makes specific adaptations to specific stress placed upon it. This could lead the coach to believe that he should train his sprinters with only sprint or high-quality training, his middle distance swimmers with only middle distance sets of repeats, and his distance swimmers with only distance swimming. This is an oversimplification of the specificity concept. In fact, all three groups of swimmers should include all the following types of training in their programs, but in different ratios for each group.

  1. Sprint training or anaerobic lactate training-short distances at fats speed with a sufficient time in between repeats to ensure that no build-up of lactic acid occurs. An example would be 20×50 on departure time of 1:00.
  2. Middle or aerobic lactate training­ repeats at a pace that is sufficiently intense to create oxygen dept and high level of muscle and blood lactate. For example, 10×100, from dive on 5:00.
  3. Over-distance swimming or aerobic training -repeats that are longer than race distance and in which little or no build-up of lactate acid occurs. This type would also include some types of short rest, interval

It is obvious that sprinters should do more sprints than distance swimmers and vice versa. Any well­ planned swim program will contain three different groups of swimmers and all three groups will integrate all three methods of training into its program. This type of program is termed a multi-method or integrated program. It is helping the coach understand the need for an integrated program where the exercise physiologist can provide the help I mentioned.

Instead we sometimes get the following kind of advice. A recent article published in a swimming magazine advocated that swimmers should use 60×25 yard all-out-effort swims, departing on 60 seconds, as suitable preparation for the 500 yard event. The traditional training in swimming and other cyclic sports, such as track, skiing, and bicycling is to lay a base of endurance training early in the season in order to build a long-lasting residual effect on the body’s aerobic capacity and then to superimpose high quality or more intense practice methods (anaerobic) as the season progresses.

Is it possible to build endurance by doing nothing but a series of sprints? I doubt it because I tried it about 25 years ago with disastrous results for m distance swimmers. Even the sprinters suffered when we reduced their distance and eliminated aerobic training from their program.

Another very important concept that plays a primary role in designing a training program is that there is an infinite amount of adaptation possible to aerobic training. At this time we cannot quantify it and we assume that it varies from one individual to the next, particularly between a sprinter and a distance swimmer.

One of the main purpose of aerobic training is to raise the aerobic threshold so that the intensity of the work that originally was anaerobic becomes aerobic. This concept alone justifies the use of high percentage aerobic training in any program.

The body can absorb large amounts of endurance or aerobic work, but can tolerate only relatively small amounts of high intensity work. Excessive amount of high quality anaerobic lactate work can push the athlete failing adaptation or.;. a term some coaches prefer-stagnation, and can result in impaired performance in the pool. For this reason we must periodize the swimmer’s workouts. The coach must follow the principle of progressive demand, but must use macrocycle or training that does not put one day of high intensity after another. Experimentally we had put our swimmers at Indiana University under high intensity regiment for three days in a row by doing goal sets of repeats (anaerobic lactate training) for three consecutive days and noticed a depressive T wave in their EKGs and a diminished performance in the pool for a period of over a week.

How far and how intensely are today’s champion swimmers going daily in their practice session? I interviewed a number of coaches and swimmers at a recent US Swimming Championship about their training. Here are some of the responses:

Matt Biondi, world record holder in the 50 and 100 free, trains between 12,000 and 15,000 meters per day ate the peak of his training session. He does 11 workouts per week.

Dan Jorgensen, winner of the 1500 meter free, averaged about 15,000 meters per day.

Dave Warton, American records holder in the 200 and 400 m races, trains between 16,000 and 20,000 meters per day.

Sean Killion, winner of 800 free in American record time, goes about 12,000 and 13,000 meters per day in 11 workouts a week, averaging 70,000 meters a week.

Janet Evans, who set the world record in the 800 and 1,500 meter events, swims 13,000 meters a day in 11 workouts per week. She averages 75,000 meters per week.  It was impossible in an interview to determine how much of this training was accomplished at the anaerobic lactate level, but my guess is that it was between 10 and 15 percent, with the rest of the training being at or below the anaerobic threshold level, that is, aerobic  training.

The use of an integrated or multi­ method form of training permits the development of all the. desirable physical adaptations needed to achieve maximal performance. We must not over simplify training for several reasons: if only one training method is used, only one form of energy release will be developed. In order for adaptation to occur there must be some form of  recovery either active or passive between similar successive training sessions: For example, if only intensive efforts are used in a training program, there must be longer periods of recuperation between these sessions. Such periods can disrupt the whole training regimen. It is important to remember that excessive use of high-intensity· anaerobic lactate work can result in failing adaptation (stagnation).

If a particular session stresses the aerobic capacity of the body it should be followed by a session that stresses the aerobic system. This endurance session can be considered an active recovery period for the body’s anaerobic system.

Total passive recovery would consist of complete rest.

In a single session it may be desirable to stress all _three forms of energy release. In this type of multi­ method training session it is not recommend that all three systems be stresses to the maximally. No single session should be composed entirely of anaerobic lactate or high intensity efforts. Use of only one type of training can result in either failing adaptation and/or a stereotyped response to the training stimulus and ultimately to performance stagnation. In the early and multi-yearly preparation of athletes the coach must consider both short-term and long-term effects. A short-term plan should consider a balanced, integrated program in which any specialized preparation is preceded by larger amounts of work in the aerobic regiment.

The long-term effects are to enhance the overall condition of the athlete by following the law of increased load demand. There are two methods by which an athlete can improve his performance: by increasing his load demands progressively and/or by improving stroke mechanics, strength, flexibility, race strategy, mental preparation, and so on.


This article has been reproduced only in part.







One of the keys to the current success of the American swimming is the use of distance base. Such training, I believe, is essential for every event.

How can you establish distance base? By any one of several obvious means:

First, gradually increase the total distance swum in workouts. If, for example, your age group youngsters are doing 5,000 yard a day, you can’t push them up to 15,000 in a week or even a month. You have to stretch it out over a year or maybe two years.

You have to remember that people don’t accept sudden changes in their lives very well, and that when you are dealing with children you are also dealing with their parents. So . you must make changes gradually, particularly in increasing total workout distance. At U.S.C we try to increase our work a little every year, but never to the point that will upset anyone:

Second, you must gradually increase the length of the main series. If it’s running about 1,000 yards and you want to take it up to 4,000 you must do it over a period of months or years. The rate of the increase is something you alone must decide.

The main series is the real work part of the workout. If you are going to increase the mileage, you certainly have to increase this part.

Third, You must increase the amount of pulling done in the workout. Pulling relates to stamina, as kicking relates to speed.

Actually, to establish a distance base, you must increase both the amount and the percentage of pulling. Almost all successful distance swimmers do a very high percentage of pulling in their workouts, up to as much as 30 percent.

Fourth, this adjustment to distance, this establishment of a distance base, can be greatly helped by making distance part an honor and not an obligation. At Mission Viejo, for example, it’s a great honor to swim in the “Animal Lane”. Many other programs do similar things.

Once you make the distance training an honor rather than an obligation, the kids will accept it and be happy to do it.

The establishment of a distance base can be further aided by porting mileage charts on your bulletin board or on the wall of the pool, so the athletes can see how far both they and their teammates are swimming. If a hero or heroine of a particular group is swimming 15,000 and 16,000 yards per day and the younger children are swimming 6,000, the later will learn to honor and respect distance. When their turn comes, they will be happy to be part of it. I try to do this in all my programs.

The next question is: “When do you inject full mileage into the program?” We certainly do not want to do it immediately after teaching a child how to swim, or in the senior year in college, as that’s little late in the game.

We generally do it when training becomes serious, when the swimmer isn’t going to get much above 6,000 and 7,000 yards; but when he moves up to two a day he’ll quickly go to 12,000-14,000 or more. Note: Many programs have their athletes swimming  over 20,000  yards  per day, five and six days per  week.

Many coaches ask: ” At what age should that do this?” If I had to throw out numbers, I’d say that for girls with fairly extensive background, it would be perhaps 11 or 12, and for boys, perhaps 13 or 14. Note the perhaps. There’ll be many exceptions.

One of the factors would certainly be pool time and space. Many clubs don’t have the pool time to putt all their swimmers on a distance base. This could be true of high schools as well as age groups. (Most colleges do have the time and space.) Another question is physical development. I’ve had some college boys who were too weak to swim twice a day, and some kids who were ready to go at 11 or 12. The practice distance will depend upon the swimmer’s physical development.

Psychological readiness is also essential in the establishment of a distance base. If your athletes are not mentally ready to accept the training some of them will begin dropping out when you pile on the mileage. You could hold on to some of them by waiting a little longer – until they are more psychologically geared to accept this increased mileage.

Perhaps the biggest question on this mileage situation is: “Why should we introduce so much mileage?” Why should we battle with kids and parents and pool time and pool space and living a miserable life just to introduce all of this distance?

First, because the distance base will extend the range of swimmer’s events enabling them to add events like 200 fly, 400im, 1650 free, etc.

Kids who are just 4,00 or 5,00 yards a day will find these events very tough. Put them on 16,000 or 18,000 and the meet will become a picnic.

They’ll be able to score more often and have more fun, and their versatility will make them easier and more enjoyable to coach. Obviously, then, swimmers who put in the miles will achieve the maximum success possible for them. When the  swimmer with a good distance base goes on to the next age group meet, he’ll be able to swim five events at every session. Without the distance base, he’ll run out of gas somewhere along the line.

This is a particularly important in the national championship, where athletes have to swim trails and finals plus relays. In high school and college competitions, a youngster might have to swim 12 times in three days against tough competition.

Without the distance base he’d probably collapse.

Shirley Babashoff swam all four freestyle events plus the freestyle relay in the last Olympic Games. Kornelia Ender swam a quantity of events in the 1976 games, winning two of them in one day. Mark Spitz won seven gold medals in Munich. Every day for a week was race day for Mark. The only reason he was able to do it was because he had  had a very tough distance training as a youngster.

Shane Gould won medals in five different individual events in 1972 Games. It would have been impossible without the distance base.

The distance base also insures good strong work habits. Normally, the distance swimmers are your most disciplined athletes. The biggest problem people are the sprinters.

They have more energy because they are not worked very hard. So if you’ll work everyone until they are good and tired, you can be assured that their discipline and work habits will be improved.

Finally, the distance base allows for future success in the sprints. Many critics of the distance base say, ” That’s fine, but I  don’t

want to turn my whole team into distance swimmers.” I don’t either. I have to have sprinters because we’re trying to win relays. But I think that you can have the best of  two worlds by establishing the distance base early in the swimmer’s career while still being able to win a lot of meets.

John Hendricks, for example, was an Australian Olympic Champion (1956) before he came to USC and swam  for four years. John was Australia’s No.1 1500-meter man in 1953. Three years later he won the Olympic 100- meter freestyle.

Mark Spitz was once the world’s  No.4 man in the 1500 and the world record holder at the 400 meters. Yet, in his maturity, he was able to set world records in the 100 freestyle  and the 100-meter fly.

John Naber was the American record-holder  in both 1650 freestyle, our longest indoor race, and the 100- yard backstroke. He was also a 45 – flat 100 freestyler. So the distance base was obviously didn’t hurt his sprinting.

Shane Gould was a world record holder in both the distance events and the 100-meter freestyle.

Rick DeMont actually won the 400 free in Munich and was the world record holder in the 1500, yet he became one of the top sprinters in the world in both 100 and 200.

The distance base makes sprinters iron-tough in the last 10 meters.

Where the normal sprinter begins running out of gas at the bitter end, the distance base swimmer comes on and becomes very tough. All his past ·mileage enables him to swim the last 10 meters very, very fast.

Speed is maintained in the distance program with daily fast sprints. You must obligate you sprinters and non-sprinters to do something fast every day.

I prefer to organize this at the end of the workout. Very often we have 8x25s maybe at 45 seconds. I have the boys race against teammates of comparable ability.

We try to build up these races: here goes the grand challenge… here goes the Grand prix… here goes the champion of such and such age group… here goes the fastest girl we ever had.

Build it up make it a really fun rivalry out of going 25’s or 50’s. Anything over 25 or 50 is not going to give you that kind of speed.

The second way speed is maintained is the distance program is by weight training. Stretching is power is  speed.  That’s  crude formula,  not very scientific, but there’s a lot of  truth in it. The sprint swimmers who stay on weight training will maintain their strength- and this will have a lot to do with their speed in short races. That’s why early in the fall, after the swimmers have been on the maximum weight program for about two months, any of them will come  up with outstanding sprint performances. They’ll sometimes swim times they won’t equal at the end of the year. The reason for this is that  at this point the weight area is a primary part of the program, So if you’ll keep up strenuous weight training through the season you’ll not only maintain speed but also increase it, even while you’re doing distance training.

Lastly, sprinting speed can be insured by some really hard kicking, as kicking relates more than the arms to sprinting.          ‘

We have competitive kicking at least once a week. The whole squad kicks the same series on the same interval and we race. That pinpoints the  weak kickers.

If you work with an age group or high school team of more diverse talents, you can break them into groups of the same age and size. The weak kickers will show up very quickly and you can then bear down on them  and get them going.

Just routine kicking every day (10x100s on 30 seconds rest) isn’t very beneficial. It doesn’t put the pressure on the swimmers. Racing eight people against one another does put the pressure on them.

Each swimmer wants to have respect of the group. I try to do this at least once a week. I think it really helps.


What are the overall effects of the distance base-pro and con?

  1. It will certainly help cut down the size of the squad. Anytime you put in a very tough program the sightseers are going to drop out. As soon as you get up to 16,000 or 17,000 the squad will begin cutting itself. And once you get the squad down to a manageable size: you’ll be able to do some real work.
  1. The distance program will improve the morale and character of the team. Whenever a group gets together on a project and works hard at it – and distance training is hard work- it will develop both individual and group character.
  2. The longer a swimmer stays on distance, the more apt he is surviving his four school seasons. People on light programs have big problem sticking it out. All of us-college, club, high school and junior college coaches- want to see athletes achieve greatness in their mature years.

The distance base will keep them at it longer. You can always go down in mileage, but it’s very tough to go up once the swimmer reaches physical maturity.

The distance program will, of course, create pool time and space problems. If you are getting by on three hours a day of pool time, six days a week, and you double mileage, something has to

One thing that will help will be your dropout rate. The reduction in numbers will save space and time. If numbers remain a problem, you may have to rent more pool time or talk the physical education or recreation department into giving you more time.

The distance base will also place more demands on you time and effort. If you have family obligations, it’s going to be tough. If you are an age group coach working with an AAU club, you are probably going to have to give up over half your weekends of the year, all day Saturday and all day Sunday.

Philosophical note: I really believe that age group swimming is now demanding too much of its coaches. The program is right training-wise, but wrong competition-wise.

All-day meets on every other weekend of the year no way to manage either a sport or a private life. It places a terrible burden on the coaches’ family, and it eventually wipes out swimmers and parents.

We should be thinking of what we can do to save swimming and the people in it.

Each coach must establish the maximum mileage that’s feasible for each segment of his team. Take my club several summers ago. I established three training levels for my mixed group: 16,000 for the very tough experienced semi-distance type, 13,000 for the not so tough and 4,000 for the income semi­ recreational types. So everything came out nicely, we didn’t lose anyone.

That’s the kind of compromise you will have to make.  I was not cheating the “income” people on 4,000 a day. I was doing them service. If I had put them on 13,000 the first day, they would have been gone. They were not equipped psychologically or physically to handle 13,000. Age group and high school coaches should be doing the same thing.

Once you’ve established a base, be flexible. Halfway through the season you may feel that “these people can do a lot more,” or that “They can’t handle this.”

Play torture master and you will end up wiping out your team. And what would that prove? Simply that you are inexperienced. I know, because I have been guilty of this myself. So it’s really important to think about the base, establish it, and then change it if necessary. You can start slowly, gradually working up to 16,000.

There is no formula for this. You have to find your own way.

This article was been reproduced only in part.


Summer 1996


The Urbanchek-mate system  of training


 Jon Urbanchek, head coach for the University of Michigan and a 1996 Assistant Olympic Swim Coach, created a systematic method for training his swimmers in the mid-1980s. Today, it has become the standard for many elite level coaches.                ·

Urbanchek’s system of training is based upon establishing an athlete’s basic threshold pace. The basic threshold pace is simply an average pace per 100 yards or meters that marks the dividing line between aerobic and anaerobic work.

The basic threshold pace can be determined from various blood lactate tests or from honest effort in a 30 minutes swim (T-30) using pulse counts.

The T-30 test is very practical and can be administered to a large number of swimmers without any blood testing. The test should be done in the swimmer’s specific stroke, except for the butterfly stroke. It requires the swimmer to swim as far as he or she can in 30 minutes.

The total distance swum is divided by 1800 (30 minutes x 60 seconds) to equal yards/meters per second. Divide 100 by this total to equal the total number of seconds per 100 yds/mtrs. (Ex: a swimmer swims 2600 yards in 30 minutes. The basic threshold pace can be found by dividing 2600 by 1800 to equal 1.44 yards per second. Divide 1.44 into 100 to equal 69 seconds per 100, which is a 1:09 pace.)

Immediately after the T-30, the distance is recorded and the swimmers are instructed to take three, 10-second pulse counts. The pulse counts must be spaced 30 seconds apart. The results Usually average between 75 and 150 beats per minute.

Based on the results of the T 30; the swimmer will now have a basic threshold pace. Urbanchek invented this system and presently uses the basic threshold pace to determine an athlete aerobic training pace (EN1), threshold training pace (EN2), maximum V02 training pace (EN3), lactate tolerance pace (SP1), lactate production pace (SP2) and alactic anaerobic/speed training pace (SP3).

Each season Urbanchek writes a training plan for the entire team. The team trains together under the plan, however, the athletes are placed in training groups according to strokes and distances.

Before each practice, swimmers are told what the workout will be and are instructed to find their training paces on charts posted by the poolside. Each athlete has a different pace and rest interval based on his basic threshold pace. Every practice is orchestrated into a symphony of strokes, speeds, and distances where each swimmer swims to their own beat.



Weekly Training Chart for Eric Wunderlich prior to the 1996 Olympic trials (early season)


AM Aerobic

Pulling/Power Kick hypoxic EN1-2

Total 6,000 yds

Recovery Drills Off Stroke Kick/Power EN 1-2          Total

6,000 yds

OFF . Recovery Pull/Power

Speedplay Alactic EN 1-2

Total 6,000 YDS

Aerobic Kick/Power Drills Hypoxic EN 1-2


Anaerobic Lactate

Speed or Meet SP 1-2                 Total

6,500 Yds

PM Anaerobic Thresold

3-4,000 yds EN2-3

Total 7,500yds

Active rest         EN        Anaerobic Threshold 3-4,000 yds

EN 2-3

Total 7,500 yds

Subjective (go by feel) Active rest PowerH20 Speed Assist Buckets, Cords

EN 1-2

Total 7,000 yds

1-2           Total

7,000 yds

V02 Max Lactate EN3/SP1

Total 7,000 yds

YDS 13,500 13,000. 7,000 13,500 13,000 6,500  

Early Season (Sept., Oct., Nov.) 10 workouts/66,500 Total yards. Weights: T, Th, Sat,

Dryland M, W, F, (Medicine ball, swim bench, Jumps, Plyometrics, Breast Bench


Weekly Training Chart for Tom Dolan prior to the 1996 Olympic Trails (early season)               –


AM Aerobic Technique Pull/Free

3-4000 yds Kick Drills EN1-2

Total 7,000 yds

Aerobic Drills/Fins       Kick (2.0) Pull/Stroke

Power Buckets,cords REC/ EN 1-2

Total 7,000 yds


or make ups if missed workouts

Aerobic Technique Drills Pull/Free Hypoxic

Kick/ Breast Fins swim REC/EN 1-2

Total 7,000 YDS

Aerobic Pull back Kick Breast Power

Buckets, Cords Technique Rec/EN 1-2 Total 7,000yds

Lactate V02 Max Alactic

Test sets          EN

2-3 /SP           Total

8,000 Yds

PM Thresold 60 min.



Total 10,000yds

Actice Rest    Slow

/Fast (subjective) Breat/lM              EN 1-2            Total


V02  Max (IM)

Lactate Rainbow set EN3/SP

Total 8,000 yds

Threshold 50 min + or-10 min. Free

EN 2-3

Total 9,000 yds

Actice rest Slow/fast (subjective) Back/ IM EN 1-2

Total 8,000 yds

YDS 17,000 16,000 8,000 16,000 15,000 6,500  

Dryland: M, W, F (Med. Ball, Swim bench, Jumps, Breast bench




Whatever  happened to the Distance  Base?

BY: Cecil Colwin


 Can the slump of North American swimming standards be partly due to less importance being placed on a good distance background?

There was a time when distance training for all swimmers was almost a religion. That era also saw some of the most dramatic improvements in the history of the sport.

Leading coaches believed in the benefits of a distance swimming background and they pointed to the fact that most distance-trained swimmers were able to swim multiple events at maturity’.

They preached the gospel that a good swimmer should be good at all distances. They proved that the broader the base of the endurance “pyramid’ built over all the developing years, the higher would be the pinnacle of achievement.

Young swimmers were encouraged to swim distances as soon as they acquired a good basic swimming stroke.

Only after many years of the long slow progressive buildup were the swimmers gradually introduced to training for specific events.

Building the Endurance Base

Constant repetition of correct movements at slower speeds helps to build ideal stroke patterns, while short sprints tend to cause stroke deterioration.

At high speed, it is hard to detect the faults in a swimmer’s stroke. At slower speeds, a stroke fault becomes magnified, those easier to detect and correct.

Furthermore most young swimmers simply haven’t the musculature to handle a lot of sprinting. Distance swimming, rather than incessant sprinting, is more compatible with the young swimmer’s normal growth and development. Years of carefully controlled training are required to condition the heart muscle.

Research has shown moderate prolonged work to be the proven way to achieve this. Sprint swimming on the other hand is too intensive to permit enough sustained work to develop endurance.

This is not to say that endurance swimming does not build muscular strength and power. It does. But the process is slower and marked by gradual increase in work intensity. It wisely takes into account the inexorable demands of growth on the young swimmer.

The goals is to gradually learn to swim a little further each day, while perfecting stroke and developing rhythm. Most of the time the swimmer is asked to swim at the fastest most comfortable pace.


A young swimmer who can handle a steady diet of distance training soon develops the confidence and determination to swim respectable 1500 free, not just in training but in competition as well. And furthermore, a swimmer’s times over the 100 will also start to improve, without a formal sprint preparation.

Start young swimmers on distance training, and you will be soon surprised at how well they adapt, and how quickly their times will drop; usually with minimum sprint work.

Coaches will find that a thorough background distance swimming help youngsters to more fully realize their endurance potential at maturity.

When a swimmer is older and ready to concentrate on specific events, the necessary speed-endurance will be there to enable any racing distance to be covered at the fastest constant speed.

As the Young twig is Bent… Forbes Carlile, the great Australian coach said: “As the young twig is bent, so will it grow.” By that he meant that the young swimmer started distance training, the greater would be that swimmer’s eventual ability to adapt to hard specialized work. In fact years ago, when I first learned the value of distance training for young swimmers, I was amazed at how quickly young swimmers took to this new program. Older swimmers, to their embarrassment, were slower to adapt and, in fact, were having great difficult in doing so.

As a result, I saw a new generation of potentially more successful swimmers developing right in front of my eyes and soon they were able to push the older swimmers every inch of the way over the long distances.

The truth of Carlile’s philosophy on the importance of early distance training needed no further validation. Carlile called his program “speed through endurance” after the philosophy of German track coach Ernst van Aaken. And Carlile’s approach proved it’s merit with great swimmers such as Shane Gould, Karen Moras, Jenny Turrell, Jane Lockyear, and many others.

Particular proof of his method was Shane Gould’s success in the early 1970s when he broke every world · freestyle record from the 1500 to the 100.

Carlile’s endurance training program was based on two simple components. The first was improving the ability to swim distance (prolong the activity), and the second was to increase the speed of the established distance (increase the speed of the prolonged activity).

Carlile kept the duration of each training period constant. He conducted 11 two-hour sessions a week and the aim was not to increase the duration of each practice, but to have the swimmers try to cover more distance within the given period.

Yards per Minute

Dick Shoulberg (1983) said that here has been an unnecessary tendency to increase the amount of training time instead on improving the speed of the long distance training swims.






By: Paul Quinlan


Denis Cottrell, a graduate in Physical Education and a top level coach in the Australian coach accreditation program, is one of a new breed of coaches who has studied both professionally and by association members, to whom is totally devoted.

Multi Year Development Program

Grant Hackett Born 9 May 1980


Age                                         7-13


Weekly sessions Volume per session Weekly Volume



2-3 km

10-35 km


Many of his athletes swim for both the Miami Swim Club and a Surf Club with top coaches throughout the world. Most of all Denis says he has gained a great deal of knowledge while he was a member of national teams.  Denis makes special mention of the role Gennadi Tuoretski has played since his arrival in Australia  in furthering Cottrell’s knowledge of the  sport.


Age                                         14

Focus              Freestyle distance, technique


Age group Championships Weekly sessions           7-8

Volume per session                 5-6 km

Weekly volume                       40-45 km


Age                                         15

Ten swimmers have been selected from his Miami Club to Australian teams for major international championships. The most notable of the: the current world champion Grant Hackett, Andrew Baildon,


Weekly sessions Volume per session Weekly volume

Technique and endurance


5.5-6.5 km

50-55 km


Daniel Kowalski and Olympic backstroker Joanne Meehan. Like our previously profiled Australian coach Dough Frost,

Age                                         16

Focus              Endurance, technique, speed National Age Group and Open Championships


Weekly sessions Volume per session Weekly volume


6.5-7.5 km

60-65 km


Age                                         17


Endurance, strength, technique  and speed


National Championships Weekly sessions Volume per session Weekly volume


7-8 km

65-75 km

Cottrell has coached his star pupil Grant Hackett since before age 10. Grant Hackett started his swimming career while only seven years of age.

Shown above is an outline of the gradual multiyear development program Denis has for his club





What The Australians  Are Really Doing

Aussies Kieren Perkins, Glen Housman, Dan Kowalski and Grant Hackett are all faster than the fastest American distance swimmer. And 14-year-old Ian Thorpe may be the best yeti

What do they know about distance swimming that we don’t?


By Ron Johnson


There are not many people who would argue that the United States is the world’s dominant player in international swimming. In the most events of 200 meters or less, we have a disproportionate number of athletes ranked in the world’s top 25 year after year.          •

However, in events of 400 meters and more, the United States has become progressively less competitive, especially on the male side. In fact, distanced swimming­ particularly male distance swimming­ seems to have regressed over the last 20 years. Two decades without progress in events where there is arguably likelihood for improvement seems to indicate we have lost our way in training for these distances.

It’s quite a paradox, considering that we haven’t improved in these distance events during a period when pool design has improved, suit design is better, wave-quelling technology has been refined and , theoretically, knowledge in stroke technique has become_ more sophisticated. These and other factors would make it appear almost impossible not to move forward during the last 20 years!

What’s wrong?

Being retired from coaching world-class swimmers for the last four years has afforded me the opportunity to attend and observe major competitions and to talk with the most knowledgeable people in our sport without the distractions of being wrapped up in my own team’s performances.

Throughout the history of our sport, the Australians have been among the more creative innovators. They are presently crushing the world in the longer freestyle races. At the same time, they have also been very secretive about their ideas, and I believe they have given us just enough information-:-or phony information- to lead us into confusion.

Last year, I had the opportunity to talk at length with one of my former Arizona State University swimmers, Marcos Vecolini of Puerto Rico, who trained in Australia under Coach John Carew with the greatest distance freestyler ever, Kieren Perkins.

He shared with me training philosophy of Carew and Perkins along with his log book of workouts for a period of almost one-and­ a-half years.

The following is a summary of what I’ve learned from Marcos. I believe it would be valuable for American coaches and swimmers to compare and evaluate these points with the typical American distance program.


A typical week’s training consisted of long warm-up of about 1,500-2,000 meters in a variety of low-pressure sets.

The main sets varied according to the day of the week. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the main set in the morning was about 3,000 meters. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, morning sets consisted of 1,500-2,000 meters. The swimmers had the weekends Off, which some used to go surfing or play games.

All evening or afternoon workouts would be what we would consider low pressure or aerobic level workouts with a fair amount of variety. The maximum distance in any workout was approximately 7,000 meters.

The daily pattern of training followed a plan similar to the on shown to the next page.

Monday A.M.

Main set:(400-300-200-100)x3 on 1:30 base/100    ·

3,000 meters total

Perkins averaged around 4:05-3:02- 2:00 or below and: 57-: 58

Monday P.M.

Main set: 2x(5×400) on 5:00 sendoff, desc.1-5 from 4:25-4:15

This would be easy for Perkins Total for the day; approx. 13-14,000 meters

Tuesday A.M.

Main set: 30×50 on 1:30-2:00 sendoff (pressure constant) Perkins averaged: 26+ to: 27+ Tuesday P.M.

Recovery-type workout-low pressure (e.g., 10×100 IM on 1:40,80 percent)

Total for the day; approx. 12-13,000 meters

Wednesday A.M.

Main set: 30×100: First 10 on 2:00, last 20 on 1:40;Average: 56-: 57 (pulse in 140-150 range)

Wednesday P.M.

Moderate main set: 20x 100 and 5x 300, relatively short rest interval

Thursday A.M.

Main set; 6x (4×50 on 1: 30/2×25 on: 50), Very fast

Thursday P.M.

Recovery set of 150s or 300s or 250s

Friday A.M.

Main set; 6x (200-150-100-50) on 1:30


Perkins averaged 2:00-1:58-: 58-: 57-: 27

3,000 meters total

Friday P.M..

Main set; 10×200 on 2:30, recovery speed Perkins averaged about 2:18-2:20

Total for the week: approx. 65-70,000 meters

Saturday and Sunday; No workouts- play around or go surfing



Coach Carew believes that the most detrimental thing that can happen to a distance swimmer is to get to muscular. He even feels that he can predict how a swimmer will perform based on how muscular he is- an inverse relationship.

Consequently, when Marcos swam with Carew, they didn’t do any weight training, although they did some stretch cord-type work and almost 100-200 abdominal repeats per day.

Carew’s swimmers also did very little kicking in the normal week.: about 800- 1,000/day without a board and with hands crossed out front.

Pulling was done with pull buoy (streamlined) only; no paddles. Much of


the pulling was done with what they call advance timing, which is close to a catch-up stoke, emphasizing stoke length and quick rotation.

During the recovery phase, there was constant emphasis on complete relaxation of the muscles of the back, especially those along the spine (the rhomboidei) and the shoulder muscle. Also, once a week or every two weeks, they would time a 1500-but only at 80 percent, not all out. Marcos said the longest continuous swim they ever did was a straight 2,000 but he added that they were “just playing through ”


I asked Marcos what the Australians thought was wrong with American distance swimming. Here are some of the answers:

+ We’re so concerned with base­ type swimming  that we seldom train at or faster than racing speed. The Australians train at or faster than racing speed in a main set five day a week.

+ We’re so concerned with total yardage that we do almost everything on short rest interval sets, which precludes swimming really fast.

+ The Australians think that T-30 swims (hard 30-minutes time trials) to establish your anaerobic threshold is pseudo-scientific voodoo because a swimmer’s· anaerobic threshold changes on daily basis. To stick to a rigid program designed around a parameter is ridiculous.

+  They think we’re too  concerned with science (formula training) and not enough with training fast and efficiently with proper stroke technique. They also believe we have exaggerated concerned with strength training for distance swimmers.

+  The Australians believe our principal technique books on swimming are a joke. They say that the Americans have people writing books on swimming who’ve never produced any champions.

They ask, “Where are the books by Jon Urbanchek, Frank Busch, Bud McAllister, Dick Jochums, Skip Kennedy, Randy         Reese, Richard Quick, David Marsh, et al?”

They say that some of the most prestigious technical books on swimming in U.S. have, given its coaches some very bad advice,. especially in terms of training distance athletes.(Maybe these guys are too busy coaching to find time to write books!).

Lastly, Marcos said that one of Coach Carew’s favorite sayings was, “In order to swim fast, you have to know how to swim slow!”


The Pull: A swimmer should never pull all the way through; instead, he should finish the stoke with an upward and backward sculling sweep (never reach full lock-out position of the elbow). Perkins, Popov, Biondi, Jenny Thompson, van Almsick all look like they’re not finishing the stroke, but they hold propulsive water all the way to the surface.

Also, the pull is not initiated with a downward, outward and backward sweep of the hand. On the contrary, it’s started with downward, backward and slightly inward sweep of the hand.

Body Position: The fact that swimmer’s elbow is up on the hand entry is not as important as keeping the elbow elevated on the catch (first part of the pull). The palm down entry out front is important with the fingertips pointing toward the bottom of the pool throughout the pull. This means a. constant change of the pitch of the wrist throughout the pull so that the fingertips stay pointed toward the bottom of the pool. Also, a closed recovery is the best to keep the body in good alignment, however, the hand should be externally rotated, and the back and shoulder muscles should be very relaxed. Lastly the Australians believe in a lot of rotation in the shoulders and hips. ‘

Distance per Stroke: There should be less emphasis on distance per stroke (DPS) and more emphasis on body position in the water while carrying as much tempo as possible with reasonable DPS.


When the Australians had their less successful period in the distance swimming, they were doing weights and very long distances weekly and daily- but that was 30 years ago.

They think that is where the US is now.

All of their training is done under pulse-control parameters. Perkins, for example, is almost always in the 140-150 range or below per minute­ even on a difficult set like the 30×100 meters (long course) on 1:40 or 1:50, holding : 56-: 57. The maximum pulse for training is 150.

The Australians also do blood tests about once every two weeks or so to determine the oxygen-carrying propensity of the circulatory system, but not lactate levels. They stretch at least 20-30 minutes every workout day, and most of Coach Carew’s workouts end with sculling drills- especially backward sculling, face down, feet first with a buoy. The Australians also place an importance on buoyancy for distance swimmers. In fact, if a swimmer isn’t buoyant, the coaches tell him that he’s better of training for other events.

As far as the taper is concerned, they still perform some quality sets, but the yardage is cut. The taper usually lasts about two to three weeks, and there is also a major emphasis on stretching during this period. Before the World Championships in Rome in 1994, I observed Perkins doing 9- 12×100 on 1:50 at: 56-: 57. A few days later, he set the current world record of 3:43,80 for the 400 meter free.


Aerobic Training and Aerobic Base: Age Groupers

Aerobic Training and Aerobic Base: Age Groupers


May-July 1985

 Training the Club Swimmer- Some Guidelines on how to handle the age-grouper

BY: Don Gambril and Alfred Bay


I believe that all swimmers should establish a sound foundation of correct stroke mechanics and middle-distance training when they are young. It is much easier to learn from the start how to swim correctly that it is to purge bad habits years later. It is important that the swimmer begin building stamina, increase heart and lung capacity, and developing strength while he or she still growing rapidly.

A case can be made that more is better. It is true that the young body has amazing recuperative powers. This has been demonstrated many times. Forbes Carlile of Australia, for example, has swimmers under 10 years of age training 50 miles a week. I believe that it is possible that a 12-year-old be conditioned to swim 20,000 meters a day, six days a week (112 miles a week) without physical harm, but I would not endorse such training. I believe that physiological and social considerations should determine the limits of training mileage, not sheer physical capacity.

The typical young athlete is just not equipped to handle the tedium of long -distance training. If training becomes too demanding-or just too boring- the swimmer will leave the sport. Anymore, few Olympic medals are won by swimmers younger than 17. In fact, the average age of world-class swimmers is increasing; some now are as old as 25. If a swimmer is to succeed in international, or even in national, competition, he or she will have to stay in the sport eight, 12, maybe even 18 years. It is the age group coach’s responsibility to consider the long-range effects on the training course and to allow each swimmer to develop in his or her own time.

I endorse middle-distance; all stroke training for age-group swimmers. Just what that means – how much mileage, in what manner, at what age- I shall discuss next.

However keep in mind that that the actual content of training is not as important as the development of self motivation and a good mental attitude.

Ages 7 and 8

Seven-and 8 year-old need more structured practice. A tremendous amount of teaching needs to be done: stroke technique, body position, starts, timing, rhythm, and turns (turn should be taught on both sides). All strokes should be taught and . practiced, but until sufficient strength is developed through kicking and pulling drills, not much time should/ be spent swimming butterfly. And the drills should be repeated often. A coach should never allow the young swimmer to get away with sloppy technique.

Competition should be part of daily practice, but it should be fun, relaxed, and should have social  thrust; such things are relays: “Alligators versus Crocodiles”. There· should be little criticism; Kindness goes much further with this age than hard discipline.

This is also a good age to introduce dryland work – not weight training yet, but flexibility work and · conditioning exercises. People this young rarely benefit directly from strength or flexibility work, but exercises become part of the routine discipline  that  will  be  necessary when that get older. These exercises improve  coordination  and prove a variety which helps keep workouts interesting.

It is a good idea for swimmers of this age (or little older) to start keeping a logbook with workouts and weekly mileage totals. This gives them a feel for the content and rhythm of the training course and allows them to see documented improvement. It also develops interest in statistics.

The coach, of course, should also keep track of mileage. Seven­ and 8-year-olds should be swimming no more than five miles a week, and spending no more than one and half­ hours, three days a week, in the water.

Ages 9 and 10

We hold five practice sessions a week for this group; totaling no more than 12 hours weekly – meets, team meetings and social events inclusive. Absences should be permitted for involvement in other activities, such as Scouting. Especially at this age, the swimmer should be encouraged to maintain outside interests.

The 9-year-olds work out from 60 to 90 minutes  day and cover maximum weekly distance of 25,000 to 30,000 yards. The 10-year-olds work about two hours a day, with a commensurate increase in yardage.

Intervals generally be kept short so that the swimmer can concentrate on good form and hard effort (though, once in a while a long swim of a mile or more offers a challenging change of pace). At this age, work emphasizing forced oxygen debt is introduced. This work continues through the age of 11 or 12 for girls, and 13 or 14 for boys.

At about this age, great disparities in the maturation levels of age peers develop. Some girls are fully mature at 11 or 12 and are ready for an adult training load.

Some boys aren’t ready physically or emotionally for that kind of work until they are 13 or 14. This should be taken into account, and training groups should be composed by performance, as well as by age, with time standards being instituted for each training lane. Remember that “late bloomers” frequently turn out to be the best swimmers when they get older: these more slowly developing swimmers must be given attention and encouragement. They should work more over-distance and do less sprint or quality effort.

For example, Tim Shaw, one young swimmer who was in my program from the age of 9 until he was almost 15, trained only one session a day. Yet less than two years later, when he was 16 and doing double workouts with Dick Jochums, he broke the world record in the 400-meter freestyle. He was the best in the world for several years.

The 9-or 10-year -old swimmer should have-a sound grasp of style and the mechanics of all four strokes, starts and turns. It is time to start teaching him or her the basics  of training theory and practice: what the different  types of training are,  and the benefits of each; how to time splits, figure pace and monitor one’s pulse.

Ages 11 through 13

By age of 11, most girls are ready for serious competition. They are ready to add stress work to their training regimen, and to train twice a day (10 or 11 sessions a week). The most mature girls can handle 60,000 and 80,000 yards a week at this age. On the other hand, boys tend to mature more slowly: most of them will not be ready for this level of work until they are 13.

We start our 11-years-old (boys and girls) on an effective dryland program. At first most of the work is light-body-weight-against­ gravity work such as pull-ups, sit­ ups, and push-ups; or resistance work with devices such as pull buoys, drag suits, pull tubes, etc. AS the individuals mature, and if facilities are available we start him or her weight lifting.


And Older

By the age of 14 (15 for low maturers) the serious swimmer should be spending 20 to 30 hours training every week, covering (at peak season) 60,000 and 90,000 yards, and handling a full complement of dryland work. The dryland work includes running,

flexibility exercises and the following lifts with free weights on the pool deck: bench press, triceps press,  half squads, and upright  rowing.

The work at this age group is componently the same as the work done by senior swimmers. The differences are: the overall mileage is less (though 14-15-year-olds train like seniors and compete successfully against seniors); the strength work is not as heavy and the long distance group is separated as often.


This article was reproduced only in part.


February-April 1988

Flying Out of the Distance: Many of Gary Butt’s Pine Crest swimmers begin as distance freestylers and still do much of their training in that area.

Interview by: Mark Muckenfuss


 Butts: Another thing is that most of our flyers train in our distance freestyle workout. We don’t ask them many times to swim a whole lot of butterfly in workout.

ST: Why distance as opposed to middle or short distance?

Butts: We have just found that our 200 flyers tend to be more similar to our distance freestyles than anyone else on the team. Out butterflyers, our 400 Imers and our distance people train together. And the amount of fly that they swim

_would vary by kid. Two of the best flyers we’ve had come out of here in the last seven years would be Vickie Vogt, and Martin Zubero. They swam a lot of Fly in workout.

ST: From what you have said it sounds like you prefer training your flyers for the 200 rather than the 100. Butts: The 200 seems to be more interesting race. There is a considerable bit more strategy you have to go into in swimming a 200 fly than the 100. Lately though some of our 200 flyers have been drifting off into the 800 meter free or the 1500

ST: Do you do any lactate testing your swimmers?

 Butts: We have over the last few years. We started in the fall of ’84 and worked at it until last spring. Right off the bat we had real good results and got a pretty good understanding of what we were doing. We continued to push forward with it for three years. Last spring we looked at the amount of time and money we were putting into it and the size of our program, and we weren’t sure we were getting enough out of the amount of time and money being spent, so we stopped. We won’t start back until this fall. At that time we’ll look at what data’s available and what time, money and effort it will take.

ST: Do you feel you’re missing anything by not testing?

Butts: No. we might have swum better, but we were pleased with our results last summer. I’m not sure we’re missing any- thing at this point other than the data we’d be collecting. I guess I’m kind of lazy and I’m going to wait until someone comes out with a program and says this is what you do, and I’ll follow that. We just don’t have the staff or the money to test 55 kids all the time. It took an enormous amount of time away from training. But we will probably go back into it once we get a little better We learned a lot from it in terms of whether we were training too hard, not hard enough, when we had kids that we were over-training. We certainly got some direction that way.

Another thing that we found helpful, last year Paul Bergen put out a newsletter every week called Think­ Fast Swimming. We subscribed to that and followed that and did a lot of things he was doing and used a lot of the ideas he gave us. I think it’s one of the most incredible things a coach did and took the time to put out. He was so meticulous with his planning and program. We took a lot . of ideas from that and base lot of our stuff on it. We try to run a cycle­ type program. We hand out a calendar to the kids for each three­ month period, with all the yardage we’ll be going.

Our program is set up so that Monday is quality, Tuesday is recovery. Our yardage on recovery days is about 8,000, and on quality days it’s about .5,000. On quality mornings we go about 4,000 and on a recovery morning about 5,500.

Wednesday we don’t train, we call it · Wonderful Wednesday, followed by Terrible Thursday. We always do a timed 800 or 1000 on Thursdays, which is a quality day. We’ve been doing a timed 800 or 1000 every Thursday for seven years.


ST: You must consider it pretty important. What do you feel it does for the swimmers?

Butts: It gives them some racing experience. They certainly learn how to pace. We talk a lot about pacing and they have to learn that when they’re swimming a 1000. Friday is a recovery day for us and on Saturday we train for four hours straight, from 8-12, all water, and we go from 12,000-18,000 on those days.



Article reproduced only in part.




Aerobic Training and Aerobic Base: The Science Behind It

Aerobic Training and Aerobic Base: The Science Behind It


By Genadijus Sokolovas, Phd., Larry Herr, MS International Center for Aquatic Research, USA Swimming ·


  • Among the many different factors involved in putting together a career training plan for athletes, three stand out as the most important

+  Rate of biological maturation

+  Age-appropriate stress(or workload)

+  Changes in competitive performance

The aim of this article will be to describe basic methods for addressing the factors so that athlete can achieve his or her maximum potential performance  at the age of maximum physical potential.

Stages in Career Training

Most American swimmers begin swimming somewhere between the ages   6-

  1. The typical age of peak performance trends in the past have depended upon event duration, stroke, age, and gender.

In order to achieve the goal of maximum results, five career stages need to be addressed. They are:

  1. Preliminary preparation
  2. Basic training
  3. Specialization
  4. Peak performance
  5. Maintenance

The ages at these stages will vary depending on gender and individual characteristics. Each stage needs a strategy in order to maximize the recommended  age-appropriate workload.

The five career stages arrive earlier and are shorter for girls then for boys. This because girls have an earlier rate onset of maturation than boys. “Time reserve” is the difference, in years, from start of the athlete’s career training path until the age of peak performance  potential.

This results in an average “time reserve” for career training for girl/women of about 10-12 years and 12-15 for  boys/men.

When a well-designed career plan is executed, the athlete will achieve their peak of their physical potential. An accurate estimate of a peak physical window is important in setting up the career plan. We can look at past  trends to help create a mathematical model. This model can serve to help  us create approximate guidelines in making a career  plan.

Past peak performance  trends in swimming events

By using the average age of the best swimming times in history in each swimming event we can come up with historic trend for age of peak performance of elite athletes. It appears that the current generation of elite swimmers (especially women) is achieving career peak performance at later ages. If this is so, the average top ten age would change as data is collected and analyzed.

To illustrate a table of the average top ten times (with standard deviations) is proved for all Olympic events and distances (Table 1).


Table 1. Average age of Ten Best Swimmers in History (M   + SD)


 Swimming event

50 m Free

Men (years)

23.0 + 2.4

Women (years)

21.9 + 2.7

Men  (years)                  Women (years)

100 m Free 22.2 + 2.0 19.9 + 4.1
200 m Free 20.3 + 2.2 19.0+ 4.1
400 m Free 20.0 + 2.1 18.1 + 3.2
800 m Free   17.8 + 0.8
1500 m Free 20.2 + 1.9  
100 m Back 22.4 + 2.4 19.6 + 3.1
200 m Back 23.4 + 1.1 19.3 + 2.1
100 m Breast 22.9 + 2.3 18.6 + 4.1
200 m Breast 22.2 + 2.1 17.9 + 3.7
100 m Fly 21.5 + 1.4 20.0 + 3.9
200 m Fly 23.1 + 2.4 19.0 + 3.3
200 m IM 22.4 + 2.3 18.1 + 2.2
400 m IM 22.8 + 2.7 18.7 + 2.7





An example of a trend can be factored into career planing is shown in the freestyle events. The trend is that the shorter the event, the older the swimmer. The top swimmers have gotten older as the events have gotten shorter, with women’s overall ages in each event younger than the corresponding  men’s events.


Sensitive periods

In the development of the human organism, there are “sensitive” periods of development. Sensitive periods occur during the fastest rate of development of a given quality of the organism. It is supposed that an increase of stress on a specific physical system during that system sensitive period will maximize the development potential of that system. Extraordinary stress prior to the sensitive period occurs. This may limit rather than enhance potential.

In the case of energy systems, window of sensitive periods estimated to be:


  1. Aerobic capacity (heart stroke volume, cardiac output, )

–     girls 11-12, boys 12-13

use of training sets of longer duration and lower intensity

–     corresponds to zones REC and EN1

  1. Aerobic, Anaerobic mix (maximum oxygen consumption and anaerobic threshold)

–  ( girls 12-13, boys  13-14)

use of training sets in zones EN2 and EN3

Working anaerobic capacity  (oxygen debt, peak lactate, lactate tolerance)

  • – girls 13-14,  boys 14-15

use of training sets. in zones SP1 and SP2

General and swimming specific power and strength speed

–     girls 14-15, boys 15-16

use of training sets of maximum velocity and short duration bouts of swimming

corresponds to zone SP3


Trends in Performance Progression

Based on elite level swimmers’ biographies, we have calculated their career progression of best times. It has been difficult to collect data regarding training prior to age

For illustration purposes, two examples of windows of career best time progression are provided. In each case, two elite level athletes are used. For comparison, a swimmer who was the top performing11-13 year old was also used. (Usually, these swimmers dramatically slow in improvement or stop improving altogether)

Note that window of performance progression have a wide gap at age 11. This could be due to the variations in the age of elite athletes at the start of their careers.

It appears that the rate of progression is an important factor for the light career training plan. Similar window examples have been created for all Olympic events and distances.


Practical Use of Career Performance  Windows

These windows of career performance are models based on statistical analysis of the world’s best swimmer. They can best be used to design career  management strategies.

For sub-elite swimmers, the rate performance progression in windows can be slower.

For example, if an individual’s performance one season is close to the lower level of the window, then the workloads could be adjusted to simulate the a higher rate of improvement the next season. If an individual is closer to the upper level of the window, then adjustments could be made to keep progress going forward at lower workloads. Using lower workloads to keep ideal progress guards against premature over-stimulation, and leaves room to increase workloads when necessary. High anaerobic workloads, especially, are tremendous stress on the organism, and should not be exhausted at the beginning of biological maturation. It should be noted that at age 11, around 50% of the swimmers in the USA do not fall within the windows and an even higher percentage is outside the window as age increases. This model also does not account for the early or late maturing athlete.



By: Genadijus  Sokolovas,  Ph.D., Larry Herr, MS ·


There are many factors, which influence a long-term (career) training plan in the sport of swimming. Among the factors that should be evaluated include: changes in performance times throughout the career, workload distribution at a given age, and biological maturation of the athlete.

Coaches should understand the· main principles of a career training plan and have quantifiable parameters in order to assess and then maximize performance potential. When preparing a career training plan, coaches should ask some basic questions including, Wheh is the age at peak performances? What are the optimal workload volumes at a given age?

How does the maturity status of your swimmer effect the workload progression in career training?

It is the purpose of this paper to examine the relationships among workload distribution and biological maturation of young swimmers.

Recommendations for a career training plan will be presented, which will aid coaches in designing training programs appropriate for young swimmers entire career.

Age at Peak Performances 

Career training includes preparation of athletes from the age at the beginning of competitive swimming until retirement. From the age at the beginning of career training till the age at peak performances (APP) coaches have “time reserve” to prepare each swimmer to achieve their individual maximum potential. APP depends on gender, distance orientation and individual biological maturation of athletes. There are many advantages for swimming coaches to know the age when peak performance should occur for a given event. With this knowledge, coaches can design appropriate workloads in a career training plan.

In swimming, there are many different methods to evaluate when the age of peak performance should occur. One of the most applicable methods is to find the mean age of ten best times in history for each event. The average age of the ten best swimmers in history are presented in Table 1

Event (LC) and Average Age of Ten Best Swimmers in History (M ± SD)


Swimming Event Men (years) Women (years)
50 m Free 23.0 ± 2.4 21.9 ± 2.7  
100 m Free 22.2 ± 2.0 19.9 ± 4.1  
200 m Free 20.3 ± 2.2 19.0 ± 4.1  
400 m Free 20.0 ± 2.1 18.1 ± 3.2 .
800 m Free   17.8 ± 0.8  
1500 m Free 20.2± 1.9    
100 m Back 22.4 ± 2.4 19.6 ± 3.1  
200 m Back 23.4± 1.1 19.3 ± 2.1  
100 m Breast 22.9 ± 2.3 18.6 ± 4.1  
200 m Breast 22.2 ± 2.1 17.9 ± 3.7  
100 m Fly 21.5 ± 1.4 20.0 ± 3.9  
200 m Fly

200 m IM

400 M.IM

23.1 ± 2.4

22.4 ± 2.3

22.8 + 2.7

19.0 ± 3.3

18.1 ± 2.2

18.7 + 2.7




The oldest swimmers are in the men’s 50m freestyle (23 ± 2.4 years). In the freestyle events, the longer the distance the younger the swimmers. The difference between the average age of the ten best swimmers in the history of the 50 and 400 freestyle is three years.

  • However, the age of peak performance for the 400m and 1500m freestyles is very This pattern is similar in the women’s events. The longer the distance the younger the athlete. The oldest women’s swimmers are in the 50m
  • freestyle (21.9 ± 7 years) while the youngest swimmers are in the 800m (17.8 years). In the freestyle events, ages for peak performances are on average, two years earlier than men. It should be noted that there is greater variability in the age of peak performance in women compared to men.

In the men’s backstroke events, the top ten best swimmers in the 1OOm are about 1 year younger than the 200 m event. However, this difference is not statistically significant. Typically, the same athletes swim both the 100 and 200 m backstroke and the age of peak performance is approximately 23 years. Women backstrokers are about 3 years younger than men are and their age of peak performance is approximately 19-20 years.

The average age of the top ten men’s flyers in the 100 is 21.5 and in the 200 is 23.1 years old. The age differences between the two events are not statistically significant.

  • Women flyers are about 3 years younger than men. In the individual medley events, the top ten men had an average age of 22-23 years while women were about 4 years younger then men.


This kind of analysis indicates differences in age of peak performance between men and women, as well as among distances and strokes. In general, age at peak performance for women is approximately 2-4 years younger than men. Second, the longer the distance, typically, the.younger the swimmer. These differences are not the result of limitations to endurance development. They are the,result of the requirements on swimming economy and flexibility that are important factors in longer distances. Usually, swimming economy and flexibility are better. in younger swimmers.


Sensitive Periods in Swimming

A factor that must be considered in an individual’s career training plan is biological maturation. Biological maturation refers to the timing and tempo of the progress toward the mature state. Athletes begin different phases of biological maturation at different chronological ages and progress at different rates. As a result, the age of peak performance may occur differently for each event. As biological maturation of girls is approximately 2 years earlier than that of men, age at peak performances may be slightly advanced in girls compared to boys.

Physical characteristics and physiological systems develop at different rates. In general most children follow a general linear increase in size and strength with age.  However, during the adolescent growth spurt (typically between 10-14 years. in girls and 12- 16 years in boys) many parameters show accelerated growth size and strength. These accelerated phases of development are frequently called “sensitive” periods and represent the fastest rate of development. During the adolescent growth spurt, rapid · development in body size, motor skill and selected physiological qualities extends 4-5 years. Children typically gain height first followed by gains in weight. On average, gains in weight lag behind gains in height by 0.5-1.0 years.

Between the ages of 11-14 years for girls and 12-15 years for boys most physical qualities increase significantly. Between the ages of 11-12 for girls and 12-13 for boys is when the earliest increases for stroke volume, cardiac output, and vital capacity are seen (figure 1).

These increases aid in increasing aerobic capacity.

As this process is occurring, swimmers can tolerate higher total workload volumes with low intensity swimming. Working aerobic capacity involves swimming done in sets with low intensity. This kind of low intensity swimming corresponds to the energy zones of REC and EN1.

In a career training plan, between the ages of 12-13 years for girls and 13-14 years for boys begins the period of aerobic-anaerobic (mixed) training. This type of training improves maximum oxygen consumption (V02 max) and anaerobic threshold This kind of work corresponds to swimming in an energy zone of EN2-EN3.


Figure 1. Gain of parameters of aerobic and mix work capacity by male swimmers in career training:                                                                                    .

Between the ages of 13-14 years for girls and 14-15 years for boys,

begins the period for working anaerobic capacity and lactate tolerance. This type  of training corresponds to swimming in energy zones SP1-SP2. The last period in the career training plan occurs between the ages of 14-15 years for girls and 15-

, 16 years for boys and is for both general and specific strength/ power (figure 2). Sets for this phase of training are done at maximum velocity and short duration (20-30 sec). This type of training elicits adaptations in adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – creatinphosphate (CP) system which corresponds to the energy zone of SP3;

Stages of Long-Term Training

In the US, most swimmers begin career training at approximately  6-8  years.  In some cases, especially  boys, career training  begins between 8-10 years. The ultimate goal of the sport of swimming is to achieve maximum  results  at the end of an athlete’s career. Therefore, a carefully constructed  career   training plan may assist in achieving that   goal.

A career training plan should incorporate five stages of progression: 1) preliminary preparation, 2) basic training, 3) specialization, 4) peak performance, and 5) maintenance of high performance. Because girls tend to have shorter career training time-line, the duration of each stage is shorter and earlier in girls than boys. It appears that a career training plan is, on average, about 9-11 years for girls and 11-13 years for boys. When a career training plan is followed athletes achieve their maximum performance times during the stage of peak performance. Duration of each stage is presented in table 1.

Table 1

Duration of stages in career training


Swimmers Preliminary preparation Basic training Specialization Peak performance Maintenance of high performance
Female Sprinters 8-10 10-12 12-17 17-20 20 & more
Female Distance Swimmers 8-10 10-12 12-16 16-18 18 & more
Male Sprinters 8-10 10-13 13-18 18-22 22 & more
Male Distance Swimmers 8-10 10-13 13-17 17-20 20 & more


Stage of preliminary preparation has following purposes: teaching of swimming technique in different swimming strokes; teaching of diving and turns; improvement of interest to compete; development of flexibility, general (aerobic) endurance, balance iri water. Playing, games, and long distance are the main training methods during this stage.

Stage of basic training has following purposes: teaching of

  • ‘ advanced swimming technique in· different swimming strokes; evaluation of individual swimming stroke and distance orientation; development of aerobic and anaerobic-aerobic (mix) endurance; development of quickness and agility; beginning of development of general strength. Long distance and repetition training methods are recommended during this stage.

Stage of specialization has following purposes: development of individual swimming.technique; · individualization of technical and racing tactics; development of aerobic-anaerobic mix, anaerobic specific endurance, and general

strength; beginning of development

of specific strength and speed; maintenance of flexibility. Repetition, interval, and sprint training methods are introduced. during this stage.

Stage of peak performance has following purposes: perfection and stabilization of individual swimming technique, diving, turns, and tactical skills; development of distance specific endurance, specific power, transition of specific power to water; development of specific strength speed; maximization of workload volume; modeling (race simulation) of all conditions of competition;

maintenance of individual flexibility. Repetition, interval, and sprint training methods are used during this stage.

Stage of maintenance of high performance has following purposes: maintenance of individual swimming technique, diving, turns, and tactical skills; maintenance of individual power, endurance, speed, and flexibility; reduction of total workload volume with increasing of intensity; stabilization of psychological condition; maintenance of health. Repetition, interval, and sprint training methods are the main training methods during this stage.


Workload Design in Long-Term Training

During “sensitive” periods, athletes can significantly improve their potential within the corresponding energy zone. The same workload volume done at different ages improves factors relating to certain physical qualities differently. When high volumes are done for the development of specific power prematurely, then smaller increases of specific power are noted in younger athlete : Extraordinary stress prior to the sensitive period will suppress response when the sensitive period•

occurs. This may will limit rather than, enhance potential. The same workload volume done after biological maturation will note

greater increases in specific power.

This statement can be confirmed with analyses of relation between strength parameters and swimming velocity. Investigation shows that correlation between


strength parameters and swimming performance is always positive.

Thus, if increase strength will increase swimming performance too. Correlation between strength and swimming performance increases with age. The older swimmers the higher correlation between strength and swimming performance. This shows that before adolescence increase in strength parameters will have lower influence on swimming· performance, than after adolescence. Therefore development of strength and power is especially crucial after adolescence. This conclusion corresponds with analysis of

sensitive periods. The· period of highest rate of improvement for strength for boys is 14-16 years. High volumes of specific strength/ power done prematurely will suppress the response to the same workload after biological maturation.

Different physical qualities have different time and rate of improvement. Therefore each physical quality has own sensitive periods for development. During sensitive period is the fastest rate of development in physical quality.

Sensitive periods for girls come usually 1-2 years earlier than for boys. Duration and time of sensitive periods are presented in table 2.


Table 2

Duration and time of sensitive periods


Physical Quality Age for Boys Age for Girls.
Flexibility 7-13 6-12
Balance 9-11 8-10
Agility 10-12 9-11
Endurance 12-14 11-13
Strength 14-16 13-15




Most of different physical qualities, anthropometric and other parameters have S-shape of changes: with initial spurt on the beginning of biological maturation, peak velocity and deceleration on the end of biological maturation (figure 3). Parameters influencing aerobic working capacity (V0 2 max, vital capacity and others) develop earlier. Parameters of those influencing anaerobic-aerobic (mixed) working capacities (02 debt, anaerobic threshold and others) develop later. This pattern continues through anaerobic work capacity, power, and strength.



Figure 3. Progression of physical qualities in career training.


Workload should support natural development of different physical qualities. This will allow athletes to achieve maximum performances. During sensitive periods different physical qualities improve naturally. If this improvement is supported with corresponding workload, then athletes achieve the best results. The same workload before or after sensitive period leads to lower progression, than during sensitive periods. The highest correlation between different physical qualities and swimming performance

corresponds to the sensitive period time. This shows that different workload progression during career training should·occur at different times. During sensitive periods the rate of increasing of workload should be the highest. After sensitive period corresponded workload should increase, but rate of increasing should be slower.

Analyses of changes in different physical qualities (aerobic, mix, and anaerobic endurance, speed, strength) shows that workload volume should correspond to them. This enables to create models of workload progression in different energy systems. The models of workload progression are based on sensitive periods for physical qualities and age at peak performance for different group of swimmers. The pattern of workload progression in long-term training should correspond to S-shape curve, which is characteristic for physical qualities;


The age at the beginning of career training is similar for all strokes and gender of swimmers. Since the age at peak performance depends on gender and swimming event, the duration of career training is different. For girls distance swimmers duration of career training is about 9-10 years, for sprinters – 12-13 years. For boys distance swimmers duration of career training is about 11-12 years, for sprinters – 14-15 years. Also, total workload volume at age at peak performance is different for gender and swimming event. Since career training for sprinters is longer and peak

workload volume is lower, their workload’s progression is not so forced as it is for distance swimmers. Usually elite level men swimmers have about 15-20% higher workload volume than women. Sprinters have lower total workload volume but higher intensity. The models of workload progression were created based on analyses of workload volume by swimmers at different age (table 3, 4, 5, and 6).



Table 3


Workload progression in career training for male sprinters (in yards)


Age Total· REC-EN1 EN2-3 SP1-2 SP3
10 380,000 351,880 19,000 5,700 3,420
11 446,809 413,854 22,798 6,492 3,665
12 565,798 525,037 28,137 8,370 4,254
13 763,930 694,175 51,358 12,742 5,655
14 1,059,587 950,325 77,873 22,523 8,867
15 1,435,731 1,199,791 177,693 42,582 15,666











44,673 _·

18 2,396,952 1,562,863 609,203 164,174 60,685
19 2,544,339 1,556,091 724,980 191,757 71,510
20 2,628,990 1,572,722 772,739 206,298 77,231
21 2,675,317 1,583,032 799,370 213,050 79,864
22 2,700,000 1,593,000 810,000 216,000 81,000


Table 4 ·

Workload progression in career training for male distance swimmers (in yards)


Age .Total REC-EN1 EN2-3 · SP1-2 SP3
10 380,000 351,880 19,000 5,700 3,420
11 506,924 468,810 26,644 7,512 3,958
12 580,000 533,282 32,658 9,514 4,546
13 1,180,361 1,055,951 92,937 22,983 8,490
14 1,315,760 1,139,067 130,273 34,576 11,844
15 2,432,730 1,967,094 356,755 83,022 · 25,859
16 2,699,322 2,076,786 474,902 113,116 34,518
17 3,288,872 2,411,622 676,517 154,275 46,458
18 3,431,298 2,473,623 738,471 168,575 50,629
19 3,557,834 2,548,120 779,388 177,166 53,159
20 3,600,000 2,574,000 792,000 180,000 . 54,000


Table 5 Workload progression in career training for female sprinters (in yards)


Age Total . REC-EN1 EN2-3 SP1-2 SP3
10 380,000 351,880 19,000 5,700   3,420














13 903,304 807,189 71,608 17,349   7,158
14 1,296,188 1,095,182 151,278 36,230   13,498
15 1,721,503 1,323;083 298,317 73,487   26,616
16 2,067,488 1,416,456 482,319 123,504   45,208
17 2,289,268 1,436,674 626,754 164,682   61,158
18 2,410,519 1,449,521 704,068 186,997   69,933
19 2,471,097 1,463,853 737,185 196,433   73,625
20 2,500,000 1,475,000 750,000 200,000   75,000


Table 6

Workload progression in career training for female distance swimmers (in yards)


Age Total REC-EN1 EN2-3 SP1-2 SP3
10 380,000 351,880 19,000 5,700 3,420
11 546,390 504,368 29,640 8,217 4,164
12 899,694 815,009 62,403 15,877 6,404
13 1,487,741 1,288,814 150,494 36,161 12,272
14 2,158,618 1,739,757 320,859 74,678 23,324
15 2,660,974 2,000,546 508,619 116,493 35,316
16 2,931,199 2,125,540 621,581 141,527 42,551
17 3,051,241. 2,187,263 666,874 151,607 45,497
18 3,100,000 2,216,500 682,000 155,000 46,500


Presented models of workload progression are based on normal  matured athletes. The workload progression in each energy system corresponds to the sensitive periods: aerobic, aerobic anaerobic mix, anaerobic, and strength/power. If athletes are early biological matured, workload progression in each energy system should occur earlier. Also they achieve the age at peak performance earlier. Workload progression for late matured athletes should occur later.



  1. Age at peak performance depends on gender, swimming event, and rate of individual maturation. Age at peak performance for women is approximately 2-4 years younger than men. The longer the distance, typically, the younger the


  1. During the adolescent growth spurt many parameters show accelerated growth size and strength (sensitive periods of development): aerobic capacity – 11-12 for girls and 12-13 for boys, aerobic anaerobic mix capacity – 12-13 years for girls and 13-14 years for boys, anaerobic capacity – 13-14 years for girls and 14-15 years for boys,

– general and specific strength/ power- 14-15 years for girls and 15-16  years for boys.

  1. There are five stages of career training:
    • preliminary preparation,
    • basic training,
    • specialization,
    • peak performance, and maintenance of high performance.

The duration of each stage is shorter and earlier in girls than boys.

  1. The same workload volume done at different ages of career training improves factors relating to certain physical qualities differently. During sensitive periods the rate of increasing of corresponding workload should be the highest. The pattern of workload progression in long­ term training should correspond to S-shape curve, which is characteristic for physical qualities.
  2. The rate of workload progression for distance swimmers is faster than for sprinters, because of higher total workload volume and earlier age at peak performance. Accelerated workload progression for girls occurs 1-2 years earlier than for boys. The models of workload progression are based on sensitive periods . for physical qualities and age at peak performance for different group of




Using Hy-tek’s Workout Manager A Coaches Tool by Charlie Hodgson (1994)    

Using Hy-tek’s Workout Manager A Coaches Tool by Charlie Hodgson (1994)      

Charlie Hodgson is currently the Director of Product Development and Support services for Hy-Tek, Ltd. Twenty years of coaching experience, formerly head coach of Hodgson’s Hurricanes, 1984 U.S. Assistant Olympic Coach, and coach of World Record Holders Matt Gribble (1983) and David Wilkie (1976) and 1984 Olympic Silver Medalist Michele Richardson. BA Dartmouth College, BE Thayer School of Engineering.


I created Workout Manager based on my 20 years’ experience in coaching to help myself design and analyze my workouts. It won’t make you smarter or coach for you. It will make you more productive and help you make better decisions.


I was a meticulous coach. I wrote every workout on paper before practice began, usually 90 minutes before. I always felt I couldn’t write workouts farther ahead  than that because I went by  how  the  kids  performed  in  the last workout and what the feedback from them. Most successful coaches know instinctively whether or not to push the swimmers on a given day. But I  took a  lot  of time in planning because I was meticulous about it. When you’re coaching age group, you don’t always have that much time  for  planning,  particularly  just before workout. The next group wants to start and the parents want  the  kids  to be in  and out on  time. It’s  hard to design workouts if you’re just winging it or writing them on a piece of paper. It takes time  to do  that  right, and the computer can  speed  that process up.


The computer can help all coaching styles. I usually thought of myself as a pretty dry, meticulous type. The kids thought it was a pretty big deal if I had something good to say about practice because it would have to be pretty special for me to do that. Then there’s the conceptual type who can visualize the whole season and shoot from the hip without a lot of planning. Then you have the motivational type who are successful because they psych the kids up and get them to work hard all the time. It may not be the right kind of set, their technique may not be good, but because they’ re mentally tough and psyched up, they still do well. Then you have the coach who doesn’t  do any  planning  at all,  but  who still does well. I think the computer has something for all of these types.


Computers can be confusing. I was talking to one coach about his problems of the program, so  I  asked  him  to send me a copy of his disk. A couple of days later in the mail came a Xerox copy of his floppy disk. The point is that computers are intimidating to people because of the language. Once you can get past this, you’re okay. I and Hy-tek try to design software that is  user-friendly.  It doesn’t matter whether  you  know  what  DOS  means. You just want to get your workout done or run your meet using plain English.


Other coaches become obsessed with computers and  all the data and forget that the real key is in communicating with the athlete. The benefit of Workout Manager is that creating workouts now takes half the time or less, so you have more time to spend coaching and motivating and correcting strokes.


There are five areas where Workout Manager can help you. We want to also show you how easy it is to get data that you really want, so you and the swimmers have the information you need. The five areas that can make you more productive are: Workout design and analysis, recording attendance and the real yardage kids do on a weekly basis, recording your swimmers’ best rested and unrested times, using these times and test sets to predict training paces, and recording test sets, such as six 100’s on eight minutes. You can record any test set you want and if it’s one of the five standard  test sets, it will predict   a meet time for you.


We’re showing a workout I already wrote. The first feature to look at is the date you’re going to do the workout. You can assign every workout to a group and subgroup. Groups include senior, junior, novice and whatever. Subgroups include sprint, distance, breaststroke, however you break down your groups. It’s hard for one person to coach more than four different groups at one time, but this will make it easier. As you add and delete lines, the timeline is calculated for you, the cumulative distance is calculated. This way  you  know  that if have  2 hours and want to cover 6500 or 7000 yards or meters, this lets you know if you’ re over or under and you can adjust quickly.


You can label every line of the workout whether it’s swim, kick or pull, and the energy system you’ re using. We’re using  the  energy  systems  developed  by  !CAR. The first three are where you’re developing aerobic capacity. The fourth is the most important, anaerobic threshold. These may be changed in  the  future  to  heart rate levels. You can set them up anyway you want. The last, 8- second sprints, that’s where you go in the diving well and do  40 13-yarders  on 30 or  40.


You can choose from among 20 stroke categories. It saves you typing because you can just choose a number to label a set; you just hit a key and it’s in. You can choose from single line sets and circuit sets. Single line sets are those you just go through once and you’re done. Circuit sets are those where you repeat all the lines several times and the rest occurs after you cycle through it several times. If you want extra rest after a set, then you insert a line with zero reps on a minute.


Another nice feature is the ability to add some  notes  to  the workout. You can write ten pages if you want to, though it’s not a text editor.


We can analyze the workout because you’ve labeled it in three areas: strokes, energy categories and types of work. This key will tell you what percent of yardage and what percent of total time have been  devoted  to  each.  You can keep adjusting a workout as. you plan until it reflects the percentages you want to hit.


In the real world, you do some of your workout planning at home and some at the pool. You can export workouts from one computer to another to keep the two data bases, one at home and one at the pool, current. You can also download your workouts, in about three seconds, to your Colorado computer and  IO-line  scoreboard  if  you use that setup as a pace clock. It frees me from being a walking stopwatch to correct strokes, communicate and motivate. You put all the workouts in zip lock bags and hang them from the  starting  block  and  they  just  follow the  workout  and  the programmed scoreboard.

Recording attendance is a real pain, and you need to do a Jot of math to calculate  their  percent  attendance  and how much cumulative yardage they’ve  completed.  If you’ve assigned swimmers to a group, and you write a workout for that group, the program automatically assumes they were there. If they miss,  you  just  put  an  “A”   in  there  and  the  computer  calculates  all  of  it. You update it on a weekly basis, then do a report, by  hitting “R” for group 20 and you can get a periodic report for up to I 00 swimmers that shows weekly yardage completed and the total for 5 weeks  of  workouts,  plus  percent attendance.


You can store up to 10,000 swimmers and keep their  rested and unrested best times.  If  you  have  them  on Team Manager already, you can import all their information in a few seconds.


Now we’ll go to the Training Menu. I’ll concentrate on the T-30 as the most reliable way to find the anaerobic training pace. Take their distance for the timed 30- minute swim and the system will predict best training paces. This is more accurate than predicting off of rested best times from a year ago. You just put in the distance, hit “P” to print and  you  have your  report.  You can  also do a modified T-30, you tell each swimmer how far to swim, looking for a 25 to 40 minute swim, then enter their time. It doesn’t have to be  exactly  a  30-minute swim.


Now we’ll go to the test sets which let you actually record what you’ re doing. Some come from Australia, some from Jon Urbanchek at Michigan. You can use them to predict a meet time. You can create any test set you want, but only the five standard ones will predict a meet time. The next set: 6 x  I 00 or 6 x 200 on  8 minutes  is Jon  Urbanchek’s  and  will  predict  a  shaved,  rested meet time for 100, 200 or  500. If  you  do  20  x  100 on I:30 or less, it will predict  the  1650 or  1500 time.  You can look up all your test sets and sort them by number or date, then  print a report of all of  them.


Eventually we’d like to have  a  national  recorded  data base of test sets by selected swimmers all  over  the country for coaches to compare their swimmers with. We’ll be forming a committee to decide what we want this system. The whole philosophy  here is it does  not dictate  to you how to coach; it’s a tool to make it easier for you to  be creative. Thank you.





Financial Planning For Life -Panel Discussion by Steve Hartle (1994)  

Steve Hartle consistently placed among the top producers in New York Life’s professional  sales  force. For several years now he has worked to provide insurance and financial products to meet the retirement needs of ASCA members. Steve is a registered representative for NYLIFE Securities Inc.


Hartle: I am with a financial services  company  called New York Life and I am also a registered representative with NY Life Securities. I would like  to  thank  Coaches Jim Montgomery, Mick Nelson, and Paul Blair for serving on our panel this morning. This panel is going to discuss financial  planning.


Where do you think financial planning for  life should rank in a coach’s financial  game  plan?


Nelson: I rank it third. My family is first. My personal health and  well -being comes second.


Montgomery: For the first 35 years of  my  life I didn’t have any financial plan whatsoever. I then became married with two children in one day and financial planning became very important. Those of us who have had a tendency to give ourselves away and spend more time with other people’s children than our own ought to take a healthy  look at how we are organizing our time.


Blair: Over the years financial  planning  has  become more important to me. Financial planning should be like CPR, Multimedia First Aid,  and  Coaches  Safety Training – it should be a requirement in order  to  be a swim coach. Without it you can coach the best athletes, you can help people, you can service teams, kids, families, but if you are not financially secure and sound then  in the end it’  s going to be all for  nothing.


Hartle: Do any of you recall any personal experiences or events in your life that caused you to take action with regards to your financial  future?


Nelson: In the bathroom, changing the  diapers  of  my first child, I remember thinking I wanted to make sure I was going  to be able to send  this child to college. I know

this sounds like a TV commercial but all of a sudden I realized that this wasn’t going to be our only child and somewhere along the line I had to start organizing a plan of what was going to happen 20 years down the road. Thanks to planning, last week we just dropped our third child off to his first year of college and I was  able  to write the check.


Montgomery: Six or eight hours after I met my wife I began to realize that I had been married to my  profession and I had no financial career. When I knew I was getting married and was going to instantly have two children; from that point forward I started thinking about  a financial security base.


Blair: I was IO years old. I went to work for my grandfather’s drug store and at the same time worked for my father at his car wash. “A clean car rides better” was our motto. I worked seven days a week and I thought that was the way it was supposed to be. From the time I was a young tot on, my grandfather told me how to save money and how to work. I saw him working 50 weeks a year and taking two weeks off with his family. He was a pharmacist and owned his own store. He came in a 8:30 in the morning and finished at 9 :00 at night. That experience and influence helped me understand that financial planning was very important. My grandfather was very successful and sent both his children through college and bought them houses and sent 8 of his grandchildren through college and bought them cars and left his inheritance to his grandchildren. I hope that someday I am in that position and I am able to do that    for my children

and grandchildren. Unless you have a plan you are not going to make it.


Hartle: Do you have any comments on the government’s role in the retirement years, say 5, JO, 15, 20 years from now? Any comments on trends you see?


Blair: There is a Jot of speculation as to whether social security is going to be out there and how much money is going to be available. The thing I  try  to do since I’ve been at Little Rock is surround myself with people who did  things a lot better than I ever thought about doing   it.


Recently I was at gentleman’s condo in Aspen. He took us out there skiing. I always try to ask him as many questions as I can about government spending and taxes. He made a comment I found interesting. He said, “As a government, if we give nothing away there would be no taxes. We give no money out, we pay no money in.” We give a lot away. Some of that is necessary but I think if more people would stand up on their own two feet and figure out how to work, how to invest, how to get an education , and we didn’t give so much free stuff away then the middle class would not have to pay as  much taxes and we would all be in better shape. Swimming coaches are some of the hardest working people in the world and we need to be rewarded for our effort and our excellence and we can take care of ourselves but  it  is hard to take care of everybody else. I guess you can see I am not real big on government.


Montgomery: One of the best sources to learn financial planning from the Money section in USA Today. If you read that every day for a year you will  have  a  pretty good sense of what you might be able to look into. It doesn’t give you all the answers but it helps you ask the right questions. I agree completely with Coach Blair. I think we have to stand on our own two feet. I am not going to wait for Uncle Sam. It scares me to death having to give responsibility of my own financial well-being and my family’s financial well-being up to somebody else. It is absolutely I 00 percent up to me as to what my future is going to be like and what we can afford to do. I know I do not want to end up being a burden to somebody else.


Nelson: I love government, but I also ignore government. To anyone who wasn’t in this  room  a half  hour ago at the last presentation, I’m going to out coach you for the rest of your life because you just missed an opportunity to learn about the business of coaching. If you do your business homework and understand the advantages of the sports act of 50 I c-3 and a sub-s corporation underneath it for ownership, you can ignore the government and go on about your merry way and set up your own financial security legally.


Hartle: From a personal standpoint coaches, do you know, or can you recall any acquaintances  that  right now during their retirement might be in a financial bind because of lack of planning.


Blair: I read a statistic recently that 90 percent of the people over 55 don’t have more than $5000 in liquid assets. Advertising in America, TV, and every magazine you read teaches you to do one thing – spend money. They  want  you  to spend  more and  more. Credit Cards

have been disastrous for people in America. People get into credit card debt with high interest rates and they can’t pay it back. I personally know a number of people in retirement who cannot do a number of things they would really like to do after 40 years of hard work.


Montgomery: The United States has the lowest savings rate in the industrialized western world. We are being bombarded by spending concepts rather than saving and financial planning concepts. We are only as good as the environment we’re in and if we’re going to get  better  than our environment then we need a wakeup call.


Nelson: I think the messages we hear on TV play an important part in this. It misleads us on how easy retirement planning is. When Dean Witter says this, or Merrill Lynch says this or EF Hutton says this – people believe it, but it’s not that easy. I know a lot of people who believed what they heard on TV and messed up their retirement. Our main problem is that we do not get ourselves educated.


Hartle: That’s it for my questions. I’d like to open it up  to any questions from the audience.


Question: I’m a high school coach and I do not earn very much money for coaching. Is there a way for coaches to get together in some way to, and I don’t want to use the word “unionize”, but to be in a position to demand more money for what we do?


Blair: Swimming coaches, financially, are one of  the most underappreciated groups in America. We provide  a tremendous service to young people and to families. We play a role in the development of the child. We get laughed at and spit on, we are chewed up one side and down the other and unless we make opportunities for ourselves then it is pretty tough to get ahead financially.


I knew that when I was swimming in college that someday I was going to be a swimming coach. I also knew  that I was going to teach school because I love working with young people. But at the same time I knew I didn’t want to live on a school teacher’s or swimming coach’s salary. I was always convinced you could do what you want in aquatics and at the same  time  make  money. Over the years I have sold Amway, Neolife, burglar alarms – if there was something out there to do, I went out after it and tried to do it. Finally I came back  to doing what I am best at doing and that is involved with swimming. Over the years I have tried to  figure  out ways through aquatics I could make a good living and at the same time coach and give of myself.


Nelson: I don’t like unions or the term unions. I  think I  can do it for myself. I think we need to be more self-confident and creative in the way that we present ourselves to the American  public.


About coaches  being  underpaid,  here’s  how  I  look at it.

The average  fireman’s entry level salary in our town  is

$38,500. The average doctor  in own  town   makes

$500,000. I save more lives than either one of those people. I save thousands of lives each year. I sell that in our community. I am a professional and we are starting to charge fees that are commensurate with that concept and people are buying into it once we have educated them. It’s not going to be a union that does it for us, it’s going to be us that does it  .


Question: Many coaches move frequently  from  job  to job and it is hard to use real estate as a means of investment. What do you  recommend?


Hartle: There are a number of tax advantage plans that you can contribute to on a regular basis. Each person has a unique situation so it would be better to speak with you individually to go over specific plans. In general, a simple IRA is one way to go.


Question: I’m a young coach, married, and have a baby girl. I started a swim school which has done very well. I also work for a swim team. I Jove to coach but my swim school is more profitable. There is a possibility that I can take over and own the team. I am wondering if anyone has advice as to whether l  should  pursue  the  swim school  exclusively  or try to own the team as  well?


Montgomery: You have diverse investments. You have established a swim school, that was smart. Don’t let go of it. You have a swim club operation, hold on to  that. Take one more step and invest what you can in a tax. free annuity.


Nelson: Search out people and programs that give  you more for your dollar than anyone else. For example, as a young coach with a family you need life insurance. Get the most investment power life insurance because you are in it for the long term. There are plans out there for health insurance where you can recover a portion of your premiums upon retirement.


Blair: Go for it. If you own  your  team  there are liabilities but there are also assets. I wouldn’t have  it any other way. I am a sub-s chapter. There are so many tax benefits that I have by owning the corporation. My corporation has the concession for swimming at our club. I run and operate the swim team. I have a swim school. I

have set up a 501 c-3 with the swim team  which  is a  non- profit tax exempt. I get a percentage of all the money that is brought in there. I have an aquatic sales division. Recently I started the Aquatic Therapy  division. There are lots of different ways to bring money in the door. What you have to do as a coach is figure how much time you want to coach and how great of a coach you want to be. If you want to  have  great  elite swimming in this country then maybe it is best if you get to a university where you can coach and be compensated for your time and get involved in camps and make a good living. If you want to run you own team they you can do that. Mick Nelson has been very successful owning his own team but he does much more than  that.  He  does other things  to bring dollars in through  the door.


To me it is what you want to accomplish, what you want to do, what role you  want to play –  and there are choices you have to make. It is tough to be wealthy and be an elite swimming coach.


Question: [Not completely audible – has to do with “what is the balance of energy a young coach should put into earning/investing money and coaching because greater coaching doesn’t necessarily mean more money?]


Blair: I learned some things  from Sam  Freas.  When  I was in Wheeling, West  Virginia,  coaching  my  tail  off for nickels and dimes, he was telling me how he was giving private lessons and running clinics and camps and making all kinds of money. At the time I thought, “How can you charge these people to do that?” What I learned is that people want  your  services  and  people want to pay you for your excellence. Too many swimming coaches think of themselves as swimming coaches instead of business people and providers of services and opportunities. The service that you provide as a swimming coach is not any different than a doctor or an attorney or a dentist or any other professional. How good you are will dictate how much you are going to be compensated.


Question: [Not completely audible – has to  do  with “when you budget for your team you are only going to have so much money for your staff. How do you figure what you are worth compared  to your  staff?]


Blair: It depends on how much you are willing to do. In our program I enjoy coaching and teaching and that is what I have decided  to do. I have hired other people to   do the service of administration. But you can be creative there. In our situation, we have a guy who works for the pool, works for the parents group, and works for me so

he makes a pretty good salary. If you cannot do it yourself, you have to hire somebody to do it for you.


From  the  first  day  you  start  working  have a financial

plan.  Save more money than you spend.


Nelson: Learn  to work  with a budget.  If  you  want to be in competitive swimming and  think  that  it is  going  to  pay your way you need  to go  work for a  university.  If  you are going to be an individual  the best  you  can  hope for is for in competitive swimming is to stay afloat  and break even. You have to get the surrounding sister businesses that are in aquatics and become involved in them also. Run a full service program.


Montgomery: I learned this the hard way: You don’t pay the rest of your staff first then decide what you’re worth. Pay yourself first. Then see what you can afford to pay somebody else. If you can’t work that many hours then you have to decide what you are going to pay someone else. Nobody else is going to pay you first but  you.


Question: What financial planning programs are available through ASCA?


Hartle: Programs are offered through  NYLife  and NYLife Securities and approved by ASCA to present to ASCA members. We have annuity  programs,  mutual funds, life insurance, and a number of different vehicles. Please call me to discuss these. My phone number is I – 800-725-0298.