Teaching Age Groupers Starts & Turns by Bill Thompson, De Anza Cupertino Aquatics (2012)

[introduction, by Steve Morsilli]

My name is Steve Morsilli, I am an ASCA board member.  Once again, I have the honor and pleasure of introducing my very close friend, Bill Thompson; who has, at his advanced age, forgotten what he is talking about, so he is frantically checking his notes.  (I believe it is backstroke starts, Bill…  oh dear.)  So Bill is a great guy, we have roomed together at meets, we talk a lot.  I have had the pleasure of knowing him for over 30 years.  So again, it is my great pleasure to introduce my friend Bill Thompson.

[Thompson begins]

Can everybody hear me okay up there?  How is it up there?  Do I look bald from up there?  How about from down here?  Yeah, Steve and I roomed together at a few Nationals, and I found him to be a gentle yet forceful roommate.  [laughter]


So I will tell you a funny story.  It is not funny to you, but it is funny to me—so too bad, it sucks to be you.  I was… [tapping microphone] (wow, that is going to be a bad CD, isn’t it?).  So, I was in Hawaii on vacation, and I called the office because before I had left, I had looked on the schedule to see when I was speaking.  And I knew I was speaking on getting kids from novice and intermediate level to an elite level of Age Group swimming.  And I called Tammy [Hopkins] and I said—I was looking at the schedule—“I am speaking after Chris [Michelmore] on Thursday, but my name is on Friday in the afternoon and it is blank after my name.  Am I giving the same talk again?”  She said, “I do not know; let me look.  I will go online.”  She went online and she goes, “No….”  She said, “You are speaking on Friday now, you are not speaking on Thursday anymore.”—I like to get it over at the beginning so I can goof-around the rest of the clinic.  And she said, “You are talking on starts and turns.”  So I sat down, on my vacation, and I prepped my talk on start and turns.  And then I got home and I saw it was on turns and backstroke starts.  So too bad:  it is on starts and turns.  [laughter]  Which… backstroke starts are a part of starts, so we are going to cover that.  And I am going: wow, that’s a really big topic.




So I am going take you through an exercise right now; this is going be a little more active than me talking at you.  I find, it does not matter what start it is, age group kids—and even big kids—do the same thing: they get on the blocks, or they get in the water for backstroke start, and they do the… what is it?  The Bataan Death March.  They stand there, like that, and they do not breathe, because they are scared.  They do that or they do this: they get up on the blocks, they are like this, they do this and they go [banging/clapping/movement sounds; and laughter].  So we are going to practice that, because it is hard to do.  Because I do not know about you, but when I do not breathe, I get this way.


So here is what we are going to do: set everything out of your hands.  And if you do not know the person next to you and you do not have an empty seat, just put your stuff on top of their lap—what are they going to do?  Okay.  I want you to put your feet right directly underneath your knees, sit up straight.  And I want you to take a really-deep breath, and sit-up-straight and hold it.  Put your palms on your kneecaps, close your eyes—that is take your mark—do not breathe.  And when I say go, I want you to clap your hands.  Everybody holding their breath, everybody clenched up really tight.  Get tight, make a muscle.  Go. [mass clap]


Now, try this.  Put your palms on your knees, put your heels right underneath your kneecaps, sit up straight, slouch your shoulders.  Take a deep breath in.  Let it go.  Take your mark.  Go. [mass clap]  Okay.


I do not know what the hell that does, but that was really fun.  And I tell you, you did that really good the second time.  The point being that if you find your kids are all over the place—they are either a Joe-kung-fu or they are the death-march—there is a wonderful opportunity for learning.  So if you take them through this exercise—preferably not the day before a meet, but maybe like a few weeks or even a month beforehand—and start working on pre-race rehearsal; that is a great key to either start.  If you want to improve reaction time, relaxation is the key, concentration is the key, mental focus is the key.  Clearing the mind, not filling it with: What did my mother say right before I got on the block?  Oh God, where’s my towel?  My sandals, where’s my sandals?  My sandals!


We went to Far Westerns [the meet].  We coach a lot of Asian-American kids and they all wear sandals because there are germs… in the water and on the deck.  And so at sprints, they kick off their sandals when they get up on the blocks.  And so we thought it would be fun at JO’s, while they are warming-up, to take one of each of their sandals and hide them on top of a shed.  And we thought, Annie and I thought, we were so funny, and they were pissed.  And even more than that, their mothers were pissed.  So anyway, lest I digress more….


You know, mental preparation, race preparation, that is something that if you practice a long time, you are going to see really rapid improvement.  I mean if you are getting the kids that I am getting, when they go to the rec pool—which they do not hardly ever do anymore.  When they are at school, they do not use the diving boards because of liability.  When they dive… I like to compare it to a load of lumber falling off the back of a flatbed truck: they do not know how to dive.  And so imagine trying to do that backwards and upside-down for [a] backstroke start.  So we have to give them lots of opportunities.  And we do, but then when they get under a stress situation, they are nervous about it.  So I really think by doing that little reaction drill, you get a lot more benefit than that.


And one of the things that I do when teaching starts, whether it is forward starts or backstroke starts, is we do a lot of rehearsal on what the sequence is supposed to be.  So here it is in a nutshell.  When you are standing behind your block, you do your easy relaxed breathing.  I want those shoulders going down; forget posture for right now.  Step-up on the block, and place your front foot first.  Get it… (I almost fell off the stage—that would’ve been memorable. [laughter] But I would’ve been relaxed. [laughter])  So you get that forward foot over the edge and you get that place first.  Then one to two fists-widths apart, the other foot goes back to where it is going to be when you take your mark.  So you do not go down and grab and then move, right as the horn goes off while you move your foot.  You know what I am talking about.


Okay, so we practice that: front foot, back foot.  Look at where your target is, which I teach, it is the T on the bottom of the pool because I want their eyes forward, I want their balance forward.  We are going that way; we are not going back that way.  Then position your hands, and I make a big point about tucking a thumb-in by the index knuckle, so that you are hooking the block.  You are hooking the block; you are not putting your weight on your thumbs, you are putting the weight on the ball of your feet, front and back foot.


Now, I am going to give you a couple of things to use as references to get a good look at some of these things.  There is a great video out, a DVD, by Championship Productions that was produced by Trip Hedrick.  Trip Hedrick was the women’s coach at Iowa State, and he remained there and he works for Championship Productions now—he is their producer.  But he has a probably 75-minute DVD with all these different drills on: foot placement and trajectory and launching and timing and sequence.  It is really worth it, and you can pick-out little segments to show your kids—if you have access to that AV-type stuff.


So we rehearse placing our feet.  We rehearse placing our grip.  We rehearse what we are going to do behind the block before the race.  We practice breathing easy and letting go.  And then focusing on the water; and now I have a visual thing to look at, so I am not looking at: my mom, and the crowd, and the lights, and the flags, and the starter, and… they all, a lot of beginning kids, look like there is a yellow jacket around each starting block.


Something else that I notice when we go to meets, we do not always teach the kids what the starter is going to do and what the whistles mean.  I go to a lot of ABC meets; I see novice swimmers way too often.  And you can tell they are not prepared.  So, do you have a whistle?  Do you keep a whistle in your bag?  And do you take them through the whole thing so that when they get to the swim meet, it is not a new experience?  On the backstroke start, and on both starts… and unfortunately, I was actually going to be so condescending: I was going to read them to you.  But I read the rule book regularly.  And I read the rule book to my kids, so they know why the starter is the way the starter is—at least at the meet.  What they are waiting for.  What are they looking for.  What do they need to have in-place in order to start the race.


Backstroke start: the same thing.  I tell the kids, you know, I want you to, in practice, use the bar; and I will take you through some drills that we do in using the bar.  You know, if kids are really, really short—and I have a lot of short kids—I do not make them use it at the meet.  But I want them to start getting accustomed to it, because I am trying to build skills that are going to go on with them.  I do not want to have the Development coach or the National coach or the Senior coach have to be teaching them how to do these things that they should have learned as basic Age Group fundamentals.


So what I tell kids I want them to do is: I want them to grab the bar first and then I want them to put their feet up so it is comfortable.  Now the reason being: that they can grab the wall and put their feet up, and then if they grab the bar, they are going to have to move their feet again anyway.  So they are moving and fidgeting around, and a lot of times starters—are inexperienced and—they will start to rush the kids.  Now I tell the kids when we practice and I teach the kids also: when they are supposed to grab the bar.  Have you seen kids enter the pool and grab the bar and put their feet up and they hang there?  And they hang there.  And they hang there.  And then the deck referee goes: Lane 7, Jimmy Chow, from PASA; Lane 7, Jimmy Chow; and your kid is still hanging there.  And now all the blood has rushed-out of their arms, and it is down their stomach—they have a stomachache—and they have to go to the bathroom.  And they cannot feel their fingers anymore.  Or when the starter says, Take your mark.  Come down.  Lane 6, you need to have your feet below the water—we will talk about that in a minute.  Take your mark.  Okay, they have been hanging there for 30 seconds: you try that and you will be all tingly.


So that does not conduce peak-performance opportunities, and you are not giving them the confidence to be aware of what is going-on all the time.  So it is like: yeah, when you get in the water, you grab the bar first, but you do it after you hear that last whistle; then you place your hands; then you place your feet and you sit in the chair; and when you take your mark, we look at the edge of the starting block, we do not look down here.  I have seen kids—I am not kidding—who grab the gutter, that when they take their mark, their head is underwater.  And from this position here, I only think… the best result possible is that they are actually going to Polaris missile straight-up.  But chances are even better that they may actually hurt themselves when their feet slide down and their head goes down, and they get hurt.  So basically, is there anything that is more uncomfortable than a backstroke start?


So let’s do one.


[audience member’s phone ringing]

(If you were here earlier, you know I am ADHD, and I hear that cellphone ringing and I just want to answer it.)


So if you cannot get your stuff off your lap, it is okay, play along here.  But just do this: sit straight in your chair, but get your back against the back of the chair and put your feet right underneath your knees.  Okay?  Put your hands right out here, in line with your shoulders and your elbows are bent down.  And move your head back so that your chin is pointing towards the ceiling.  And throw your hands around your head.  And that is the difficulty of a backstroke start.  But that is the basic position.


I was going to say, And you do the hokey pokey….  See, I know, you may have thought, you know, I really mean it… we do failure sets in our workout tonight, I line them up and I command them; but we have a lot of fun.  Our kids laugh a lot.


So do this again.  Sit straight up in your chair and put your feet underneath your knees, and put your hands on your front, and stand up.  Now, go.  Okay now try not to lean forward.  You stand up; sit down.  Okay, sit straight in your chair and try to keep your head up while you stand up.  Stand up.  Okay?  Sit down.


Now, how many of you have bleachers?  Bleachers by the edge of your pool?  Okay, when you are working on backstroke starts, take them through this.  Have them sit on the front row bleachers—the ones you do not like, put them up higher.  Put them in the front row of bleachers and just let them sit there, and have them practice that.  Okay, I am here, I am going to be in basically a sitting position, and I am going to become straight.  And you can actually do that; do that a few times and then add a jump to it; where they get used to going from a sitting position to a jump.  Because really what they are doing, is when they position their feet on the wall, what I look for—you can look for whatever you like—but what has been working for me lately, is that when I have them position their feet on the wall, I have basically taken their chair [position] and rocked it back at about 45°, and they are still sitting in the chair.


Dave Marsh has a great video, that he did years ago when he was at Auburn, on starts.  And basically he has his swimmers sitting in the chair.  Sit in the chair, and then I can have kids adjust it from there.  Some kids that have really long legs, I let them stick their tookis out a little bit.  Other kids, I have them pull their hips in just a little bit and recline a little bit more.  But I am trying to get away from this hunching over.  And I learned this years and years ago when I was at Santa Clara and we had great backstrokers there: Libby Hill, Christy Mesola, Lindy Asic.  And you could hear their coach talking to them about not getting their weight over their feet, and timing their takeoff best to get their weight out over the water before they try to press or push.


The thing that causes slipping… (is Colorado Timing System touchpads [laughter]).  But if you are fortunate enough to go to a meet that has new touchpads, boy, kids can really light-it-up if they have good equipment and they are in the right body position.  But the biggest thing that we all hear—and my kids slip too—is my feet slipped.  It is because they are so excited and they are so tensed-up, they are not relaxed like you were when you did the reaction drill.  And it is easy to do when you take-your-mark forward; but when you are doing a little pull up here, you are not relaxed but part of you can be relaxed.  But if you get that head back… what I tell them to do is: the head goes back first, and the chin goes straight up, and you get the arms to push away from the bar and start to swing around your head, so that your body is up over the water, and you can go up-and-over the water.  Okay, are you with me so far?  Okay, let us talk about some activities that we can do with that.


Here are some of the things that I do for forward starts.  I will have them get-up on the starting blocks….  I want to remind you, I am working with A/JO/Far Western-level swimmers, with some experience, who are 11 to 14.  Some of these things need to be age-appropriate, and I am fortunate that most of the time, I am swimming in 10 feet of water.  If you are swimming in less than 7 feet of water, do not do these things; okay?


So I will have them get up on the starting block, with their heels on the back of the block.  Not over on the back on the block, but so that the backs of the heels are even with the back of the block—so their toes are about in the middle.  And I will have to put both hands on their knees.  And I teach my kids that when they grab, I want their elbows pointing towards the back fence behind them, not out here.  Because when we are out here when we pull—because the first thing we are going to do is pull; a little quick, snappy pull—when they pull with their elbows out, their body goes down; when they pull with their elbows back, the body goes forward.  Okay?  Take it or not.


But with their palms on their knees, I am working on: getting compact, being relaxed, taking that relaxed breath.  And we are working on getting our hands forward and our body up-and-over the front edge of the starting block.  We are also practicing keeping their eyes on their target, which in my group is the T on the bottom of the pool—that is their visual cue.  Okay, they are looking at the water, they are looking at the T—that is the head position I want.  I also tell them to pretend that their body is a cannon barrel and their head is a cannonball.  I want you to shoot the cannonball out of the cannon to where their hands are aiming, to their target hole in the water.  And we will do a bunch of starts like that, with the heels on the back and the hands on their knees.  Then from that same position, when I like what I am seeing, they will take one hand and get their hand in the grab position—still the heels are on the back—but the other hand remains on the knee.  Because I am trying to get them to do this, and I am trying to get them to do that quickly.  Because I want them to get their hands in the water so we can get into dolphin, okay?


Then from the one-hand grab, we will take a two-hand grab.  And then when I like what they are doing, I will let them: put the front-foot forward, back-foot forward, put their hands and their knees first;  now, grab one hand, grab the other hand, go.  And we will do that series a number of times.


Some other things to do… yes?


[audience member]:  So they… the first position, you are talking about standing with the heels at the back of the block?


[Thompson]:  Heels at the back, elbows in, hands on the knees.  I tell them their shoulders need to go below their waist.  Some of us are no longer able to do that. [laughter]  I can, but I will pass out.  Okay, anybody else not clear on that?  Okay.


How many of you have people that when I said looks like a load of lumber falling-off the back of a flatbed truck, you said, Oh, that’s Hofu or that’s Jimmy or that’s Suzy.  They go [movement] or their legs are all askew.  So we do this thing, and, again, you need deep water and you really need crowd control.  We have been doing this exercise for years.  Every time I do it, I preface this:

  • Okay, a word about safety before we do three-step. I want to remind you, your feet are not to go over the edge of the pool.  Believe me you will not crash to your death if you dive into the water a foot back away from the edge of the pool.  The idea is not to go over the edge of the pool.  You’re to work on your leap, your extension, your body control and your dive trajectory.  Do not step over the edge.
  • Number 2, do not step on any enameled, glossy tile; stay on the concrete.


We get all the gear out of the way.  And just… you know, the grooves in the concrete on our pool deck are 4×8, to keep it from cracking (it didn’t work).  And I tell them: it is really simple, we are going to do the send-off, we are going to go from a dive at one end, we are going to go from three-step at the other end.  One, two, three [moving].  And, I am telling you, with the kids that are really bad divers, they have a hard time with this at first—they are actually kind of afraid of it.  But if you do this for a year…. I am serious, if you do this for a year when you are getting ready to do your sprints at the end of practice, or if you are doing some sprints for warm-up at the beginning of practice and you want to go off the blocks and you want to go a dive, try these three steps.  But if you have a tiled pool deck—if you had an indoor pool and you have a tiled pool deck—I would not do it.  But we have a concrete pool deck, so we have pretty good traction unless you are in sandals.  Do you remember what I said earlier about kids all wearing sandals?  So we do not run on the deck, I will tell you that; not with their sandals on.


Any questions on the progression there?  Yes, in the back.


[audience member]:  How far back… how far away from the pool are they when they dive?


[Thompson]:  Well, some of them do step-over and… what I am watching is their feet.  And if I catch a kid doing it, I say, “If you step-over the edge of the pool again, you are not going to be allowed to do this.”  So about a foot.  Honestly, if they launch from 3 feet back, they would clear the edge of the pool. (Unless they jump like me.)


On backstroke starts, I literally have them sit in a chair.  There are a bunch of plastic chairs out on our pool deck.  And I will get a kid or I will have them take turns, and I have them get in a chair and get into their backstroke position.  And then I will rock the chair back, and they all go like that until I make them relax: “I am not going to drop you”.  And I rock them back.  And that is the position.  So, sitting in the chair and practicing that is great.  During our dryland, we do a lot of deck squats—and we do them right according to CrossFit’s bible.  The heels have to stay on the ground during these squats and their shoulders have to stay back and you have to stay erect.  And when their form gets bad, we go to the wall and we slide down the wall.  We do not touch the wall, but we try to keep our back parallel to the wall.  This really has helped the power in their legs for backstroke starts.  We use the front row of bleachers.


Something that I got from Joe Bernal’s daughter [Michelle Bernal-Sweeney] at a clinic that she spoke, an ASCA [World] Clinic [2006], was butt flops.  So if you want to teach them how to really launch, you have them go from the wall; and they do not even do a backstroke start, but they try to get as high out of the water as they can on their takeoff—and they start from the gutter.  They try to get as high above the water as they can, and they just land on their butt.  Their head stays up, they sit straight up.  And you do a bunch of those butt flops to get them to start getting up and over the water.  So we do butt flops.


When you want to really start getting the timing together, if the head does not go back, all is lost.  If the beginning of the start is not correct, the rest of it is going to be wrong.  So a nice progression to use is: hands in the gutter, shoulder-width apart, and if they are doing this, then I have them put their hands as far out as they can.  Way out here so that they have to go here, right?  And their feet are up.  And here is something….


Think about this: why is it that when we are on the starting block, we have a stance like this or this, but for some reason the extrapolation from that for a backstroke start is your feet should be like this—like little ballerinas.  So we practice jumping and looking at the width apart of where your feet are.  You know, when you are doing vertical jump, do you go from parallel stance or foot-back stance?  Because it varies.  And you have the kids practice their foot position: you want one-up/one-down, the other way, or even.


But they should be, the feet should be inside of the shoulders, but not touching; they should be in-line with the knees.  I love it when a kid grabs here and their knees are out here, right?  Like when I pick something up; there is Chris Woodburn’s backstroke start, right there, until we fix that.  So the knees are about in-line with the chest, feet are in-line with the knees, hands are out.  Take your mark, where you just barely crack the elbows.  Go.  Hands at the side [for butt flops].  They do not like that, but they get used to it after you do it enough times.


And you would be surprised how many of them can get up-and-over the water with their hands at their side, and as soon as they go back to this, their butt hits.  So this is a problem.  So when they can achieve the right motion with the head back and the hands at the side, then start having them work on the swing, okay?  That is a nice progression to use.


Noodles: I love these.  I just found a new use for these Tuesday.  I kept wanting to stop kids to tell them they were not breathing threes when they were supposed to; and then when we are doing five, they were not doing that either.  And I usually use a kickboard, but their turns are so bad right now, they were not hitting the board.  So I looped them.  And it worked great: their feet come over, I caught them right in there.  Boy, were they surprised.  But it works really good.


So you have a kid; [you are] alongside of him, hold the noodle at their back and then about a foot away.  And you just practice going over this on send-offs; do it over and over and over and over, and over.  And they will get better.  And in most cases, if you look at their backstroke starts starting out: it cannot get worse.  You cannot screw that up anymore than it is right now.  So try that.


Now, there is another thing; in fact, there is one over in the Counsilman table over there [the Counsilman Create Coaching Awards].  I made a whole bunch of these things with a piece of PVC with a T-union on it.  A little PVC glue, stick it in there, take my chop saw, cut a groove in it, stick it over the wire of my lane line, take a noodle and slide in it so it is just sticking there floating.  Watch the noodle.  (Coach Bauer is watching the noodle; he is going, uhhh… feel sleepy.  Who is this character?)  You put that back there.  Yeah, they are going to get knocked off, son; but you can send-off like that.  You can send-off like that, put one of them up for the start, put one at the other end, at about 8 meters off the wall; and they have to dolphin underneath that before they can breakout on the backstroke; and do a bunch of 50s backstroke from the start.


Now, you cannot do this on freestyle starts because you will have kids spearing other kids, you will have kids diving on top of each other.  But if you have kids start from the gutter and they do a send-off on backstroke, on every send-off—it does not matter what stroke it is but—they have to start-out with the backstroke start and say five dolphins and then break-in to whatever stroke you want them to do, for a whole workout or for a whole set; they are going to start getting really familiar with backstroke starts and they are going to get better by repetition.  They are going to start feeling what works.  We give them the kinesthetic experience without spending 60 minutes practicing backstroke starts and getting nothing else done—I do not want to do that.  I want to have them do these when they are tired: then they are harder.


Now here is something else, and you need to find out if you are comfortable with this or not.  But I like the kids, especially like a month-out of a touchpad meet—which we very rarely have touchpads in our meets.  But when I know they can get a good start and it is a big meet, I will have them, only doing 25s now—this is not repetitiously during workout—I will have them grab the bar with their toes-over the lip of the gutter to get the same kind of grip with their feet that they would get, hopefully, with a good touchpad and do backstroke starts with their toes in the gutter.  Or I will have them, if we are going to work on the back dive—they hate this, but I do it—grab the bar, pull themselves up, grab the side of the starting block, and do back dives.  They do not know how to back dive.  I do it in 10 feet of water.  You have to make sure you are comfortable with that, because it certainly is possible to have a kid on the wall going this way, go like that.  So they better be pretty well on-their-way of already knowing how to dive backwards before you try that.  But that is something I do and they hate it.  Or I will have them stand up and grab the block, and then sit down and put their butt on the surface and dive from that position—just to work on a little more confident back dive.


We do a lot of contests and we will do this as part of sprints; we will do it in the middle of practice just to get them sprinting.  And that would be to do backstroke starts and have a contest to see who can make it to the other end underwater dolphining, who can get to the 15-meter mark first.  You are not allowed to breakout, so you are going to dive-in, dolphin, and I am going to stand there at the stripe in the bottom that is at 15 meters, and I am going to tell you whose head crosses that line first.  And we will keep score, and the winner will be whoever has 10 points first.  Is that in every group?  No, it is whoever gets the 10 points first.  So I can run four or five groups like that, then they breakout and they can practice a championship finish into the touchpad at the other end—the hypothetical touchpad.


Relay starts

I am going to tell you this: it is going to be the shortest part of my talk.  I go totally basic; I do not do step-up starts.  I know… Mike Bottom and I have known each other for a long, long time; and Mike came down and did a start clinic with me and I talked about the step-up start when I was coaching Senior National-level swimmers.  And I said, “When do you start working on your relay takeoffs, your step-ups?”  He said, “I pretty much know who my relays are at the start of the season.  We start working in September on our relay takeoffs.”  I said, “How often do you practice?”  He said, “Pretty much… oh, just about every day.”  Okay, I do not have that kind of time; I have got 32 kids in my group, and maybe 8 of them are going to make the relay, maybe 12.  The rest of them, I am taking time away from practice.


Not only that, but I am specializing in something that when they get to somebody else—they get to another coach—it is probably going to change.  They get into high school, it is going to change.  I see step-up starts at Age Group meets, and I see tons of teams getting DQ’d.  And it is hard enough to do the touch, the finish, and the touch and the takeoff—a simple basic takeoff—without throwing in a bunch of other motion.  So I keep it really simple.  I tell kids: I want both feet on the starting line, I want you standing up, I want you aiming at where their fingertips are hitting the water, and when the hand that is going to touch the wall is coming out of the water, you wind-up and watch them and go.  So we do a windup.


How many of you do a wind-up?  How many of you have kids that wind-up like this[laughter]  (They’re so cute, aren’t they?)  Two buckets of tennis balls; pick up a ball, throw it against the wall, pick up the ball, throw it against the wall.  So when you are doing relay games, there is one.


Here is a drill, this is a great way to get kids to work hard, because nobody swims harder than one on a relay.  Three kids at 12½ yards: that is where the send-off starts.  Three kids on the deck, one of whom is on the block.  The first kid in line at the middle of the pool, you will leave on the 60; you practice a 12½, championship finish, no breath.  The guy on the block does a relay take-off and goes a 37½; or 25 build-up to sprint, sprint-speed turn, comes back to the line.  Send-off every 20 seconds; everybody goes 16 times.  You get a lot of relay work in, but you get even more sprinting in—it is great.  And turn work in.  That is my favorite relay drill,


Any questions on starts?  Yes.


[audience question]:  Is there really a big difference in regards to relay starts?


[Thompson]:  A big difference in what respect?  You mean as opposed to having a kid go a track start, and not stepping-up and going from a track start?


[audience]:  A track start versus two-feet.


[Thompson]:  I prefer the both feet over, because I think they get a better push, with both feet.  Oftentimes, if they have one foot back when they are winding-up, that back foot can slip.  Okay? I just think you get better security there and I think you do get a better leap.  In a sedentary start, in a traditional race, the reaction time has been proved to be slower but the distance on the launch has proved to be greater.


[audience]:  On the two feet.


[Thompson]:  Correct.  But on a relay, I like both feet there because you do not have a lot of slipping going on, you do not have a lot of movement going on.  And then I also see kids doing this: the ones that are not comfortable with both feet up, they will get ready to go and they will step back.  So I tried to catch them on that practice.  I do not think it is a huge deal.


Anybody else?


[inaudible audience comment about backstroke starts for little kids]


[Thompson]:  Oh, when they take-off and they are doing hands-on-the-side?  Well, that is an interesting idea.  Coach is sharing here that when you are doing the hands-at-the-side launch, that when they launch have them try to clap behind their back.  I like that, thanks.


Anybody else?  Alright, turns.




Again, I read them the rules for every turn.  It is surprising there is getting to be more and more variety in turns now, but I read them the rule on turns.  I use visual aids on turns, and I love this one and talking about flip turns, freestyle turns.  When you go into the wall—here is the wall.  When you go into the wall and your head goes down, your hips are going to come up.  When your hips come up, if you throw your head back, look where you are.  Your head is back here so now you have to straighten up and throw your legs over.  When you go to the wall and drag your head down and your hips go up, you want to bring your nose to your knees, and keep it there and keep your chin down and your arms over head and aim your heels at your butt because that is going to create a spinning motion.  If you just bend at the waist and your legs have to go up and reach for the wall, you unfold; and now it is not fast turning.


This is great for any age to show them, unless you want to get in the water and show them what you mean.  That is what I love to do with kids whose parents try to coach them.  You see them at the meet, they are all videoed-up; and after they are done, they are over at the warm-up pool talking to him.  So we have our team meeting at the beginning of the year, I tell the kids, whose parents are guests at our meetings: “When your mom or dad are showing you the video from your meet, if they are not telling you Why, you sure did a great job, we are so proud of you, when they start trying to explain how you should change your stroke, tell them, Could you just go put on your Speedo and get in the pool and show me what you mean?”  [laughter]  Most parents do not think that is as funny as you do.


I like to take things and I like to break them down into components.  So when I talk about turns, I tell the kids: what’s a turn?  “Well, it is when you turn around.”  No.  No, there are three parts to a turn.  When you are turning, your turn begins with the last five meters from the flags to the wall, because that is called your approach.  And the only thing you should be thinking about at that point in time is your lane, your approach, your turn.  When you get to the flags, you are not aware of anything other than that turn is coming at a fast speed.  So we have the approach.  And there are times in practice when we talk only about the approach as it relates to turns.


Second part of the turn: change of direction.  If you saw Chris’ [Michelmore] talk yesterday, he talked about agility, he talked about balance, he talked about body control, he talked about athleticism.  That is totally an acrobatic move; it is a gymnastic move that has nothing to do with swimming.  But it has a lot to do with how much speed you have based on your approach.


And the third part of that turn is the departure, which has now become a lot more than the first five meters off the wall.  It is the angle of your knees when you push off, and the angle you push off: up, down or parallel.  It is what you are doing the moment you hit a streamline.  And are you streamline?  And it is: where do you aim?


So those are the things I include when I teach and talk about turns.  I use things like, “When you come off the wall, your fingertips should be pointing at the waterline where the water meets the wall at the other end of the pool.  Your chin should be down and your head should be pressed against your biceps.  And you should be as narrow as you can be.  And the moment you push-off and feel the water, start to move your legs.”  And those are the things that we practiced; that… I am surprised my swimmers do not call me—well they are more afraid of me than my daughters are—my daughters call me “Nagging Ned”, because I really do.  You have to repeat, repeat, repeat, and stay on them all the time.  Because it is hard to do it well, and it is hard to do it better.  It is hard to do these things fast.


Something else that I learned at a clinic, from Guy Edson: if you have kids that are bringing their head over here or throwing their head back, if you want them to really get the somersault.  Simplest thing in the world, you can go buy an expensive contraption or you can take a kickboard with the thumbs up and the fingers down… no, the thumbs down and the fingers up, and you bring your head down, then you press-down on the board then you somersault around the board.  Everybody got that picture?


Okay.  Kickboard [on hand], kickboard [in other hand], put it behind me.  It works best if you are in about 3.5-4 feet of water.  Bounce off the bottom and somersault and press down on the board.  Okay?  Great way to teach beginners how to do the somersault.  When they can do it away from the wall, then have them step closer to the wall and tell them you want them to try to touch the wall—it is okay if your legs are straight when you touch.  Then have them work on getting closer and closer.  It works great for novice swimmers and pre-competitive swimmers.  I promise you that they will be doing flip turns in ten minutes.


The other thing I learned from Guy, that I never thought about it, but it always used to really bother me, but he put it in words—he is a great guy for phrases.  So when you go into the wall… and I tell my kids because part of the approach is here that when you go into the wall, your turn begins not with your head, your turn begins with the beginning of the press on the last catch.  And that hand is going to go to the side.  And while that is going to the side here, this palm is going to turn down.  And when the finishing hand gets to your side, your palm should be facing the bottom of the pool, knock your hat off of your head.  And I will have a cap on my head and I will say I want your… when you finish your pull, your palms are facing down, knock your hat off your head.  Keep your elbows in.  Knock your hat off your head.  And then we do a bunch of turns.


If you have kids that are doing this when they turn, the death angel.  Because there is only one thing that is going to happen right-here in the middle of the change of direction: they are going to have to stop to bring their hands here to push off.  These little palms-to-the-bottom-of-the-pool,-knock-your-hat-off eliminates that.  It takes a long time and if kids come to you from another group that have been… they are just learning, they have been promoted to you and nobody really noticed that they were doing that, then that is a quick way to change that and stop that.


Questions?  Yes.


[comments from Monika Schloder]:  One of the easiest ways to teach the forward somersault is to have an incline/a wedge.  You sit them on top, and you get them down doing the roll.  Put that wedge at the edge of the pool, do that roll down the wedge, and continue with a second and eventually a third roll.  The same thing with the backstroke turn.  It is a rotation into the arm-pit, what is a log-roll in gymnastics, with a forward somersault.  What we do back home in Germany is that everything on the turns is taught with a rhythm.  So it is 1-2-3-4, if you have x number of the strokes [in], 4-5-6-7 onto the wall, 7-8-9-10, whatever.  So the kids concentrate on the rhythm rather than “oh, oh, oh, oh, here comes the wall…”.


[Thompson]:  Absolutely, I could not agree with you more; that is great.  I am just curious: do you have a trampoline on your pool deck too?  Because you can shoot them into the pool.  Oh, I bet your kids have fun at practice.


[Schloder]:  By the way, I have a video out with ASCA…


[Thompson]:  Oh sorry, no promotional advertising here.  [laughter]


[Schloder]:  It is actually all dryland related to turns.


[Thompson]:  Yeah, that’s great, that’s great.


And that is a great segue into how I teach the approach of backstroke turns.  Because, invariably, kids will be going along here, stroking along, and they are getting to the wall and they are slowing down.  And what I want to see is I want to see… we are not here talking about backstroke finishes and how you teach that.  But let us say their stroke count is four strokes to the wall, then I want to see 1-2-3-4 [turn].  Or if it is five, I want to see 1-2-3-4-5 [turn]; 1-2-3-4-5 [turn]; 1-2-3-4-5 [turn].  And for a finish, the head goes back over the raising shoulder at the beginning of the last recovery.  So when we are going long course, a lot of times for warm-up, we will go five-count head-back for 50s.  1-2-3-4-5, 1-2-3-4-5; and the head goes-back on each one.  The nice thing about doing it by fives is that they are forced to finish both hands, so that is something I really like to do to work on the approach and to work on backstroke finishes.


Kids love to do shallow-bottom push-off jumps into turns. And I do not care whether two-handed turns or somersault turns, they love to do: jump-off-the-bottom, turn and go.  So we have a contest like that.  At the far end of the 50m pool, there is a narrow black line on the bottom of the pool at about… I am guessing like 12 meters.  Then we have another line at 15 meters; but I use the closer one, so they can really jump-off and go.  And we will do turns from there.  And they will have a race: we have a contest to see who gets back to the black line first.  The other thing that I really like to do is I like to have them just jump off the bottom and grab the wall—that is on two-handed turns though, I am getting ahead of myself.  I like to have a jump off the bottom, grab the wall, and then do their turn, and stop, and then go.  So they kind of freeze-frame their turn to do a self-check.


Anybody here have an L-shaped pool with a handicap-approved area, where it is fairly narrow?  Because there is a pool in Morgan Hill, California that has about…  it is about 10-yards wide and you can get like four kids in there at a time to do ping-pong turns.  Do you do ping-pong turns in your pool?  I think that would be just great to be able to do those.  So if you have like a four-lane pool, that is really narrow, your turns should be the best in your area.  Because that is a great way to deal with it; where they push off, take a couple of strokes and turn, push off, take a couple of strokes and turn—or if you are working your underwater dolphins, no strokes at all.


I can have kids work on turns, on getting their feet over fast and eliminating some of the side-to-side head movement on turns, by having them just go: 3 strokes, turn; 5 strokes, turn; 7 strokes, turn.  So you are doing continuous turns without a wall, and you can do that on 25s.  I like to do feet-over-finishes.  Somebody, I think it was Dave Salo yesterday, talked about: they always finish their repeat feet-over.  And I love to do that.  There is a set that we got from the great Jason Carter where you go: 2×25 on 20, feet-over; and then a 100 on the 1:10, make the interval; and then 2×25 no breath on the 20.  You do eight rounds of that.


Backstroke rollover skills is something that, you know, as you said, losing rhythm, getting the cadence, getting all that, without losing speed.  But then when you see kids get to their back….

I go to NCAAs every year now, to the men’s meet, with my best buddy who is a retired coach; and you see guys doing this: coming into the wall and going here, the gasping red snapper.  And I am just amazed that there are not more people that are teaching that the rollover begins with the last backstroke pull.  By getting that air and getting that head over early, now this last backstroke pull just turned into freestyle; so now I get two freestyles.


So I really try to get kids to do that.  I try to get them to get their head back in their armpit after they get their air with the last breath and get their head down enough where this comes over and goes freestyle into the backstroke turn.  You follow?  And so the way that we do that… and I can start working on that during warm-up where I say, “Come off the wall on your back, go nine dolphin kicks off the wall, take three strokes backstroke and roll,” at mid-pool, maybe a little bit past mid-pool, “swim into the wall freestyle.”  Come off, nine kicks, do it again.  But you have got to get the head around early; you want two freestyle pulls, only one freestyle arm recovery.


So we will do that, or we will go 3 back/4 free, 4 back/3 free strokes.  And I will do them on a tight interval, long course, say on the 1:00 or on the 55; where they are doing that all the way down.  They like it because they get really dizzy, but it really does get them used to….  The other thing I like about it is, it is funny that you have some really great freestylers that you know you put snorkels on them and you get a good head position established, and then you take the snorkels off and the head looks good, and you put them on their back and they are swimming with their head up out of the water.  They do not connect that the balance point on freestyle is the same as the balance point on backstroke.  So when you are going from free-to-back and back-to-free and free-to-back, be aware of if you are lifting your head on that backstroke on the first stroke.  It starts getting them to lay-back more when they have gone into the first stroke of backstroke.


Dolphin skills underwater.  I think you can do… if you say, “I do not like what we are doing in the last minute.  I really think we need to draw our attention to our underwater dolphining skills.  So today, all send-offs, everybody does seven dolphins underwater on every single send-off.  It does not matter what it is.  And coming off of every turn, except breaststroke, you are doing five dolphins.  We are going to do that until you are getting used to doing it.”  Because, honestly, I see Tisha Steimle out there, Tisha Batis sitting out there—don’t I see you out there?  (Hi ya.)  I watch those PASA kids: their 10&Unders are as good as their 11+12s, who are as good as their 13+14s, and they are as good as the best of anybody in Pacific Swimming and maybe anywhere.  Those kids have great dolphining skills, and that is because… you do not get that without working on it.  And I got a feeling they work on it everyday.  Everyday?  Everyday.  Even at home.


Alrighty, let us see what else.  I am very frugal about using fins for dolphining skills, but they certainly do have their place—they certainly do.  If you want to get kids to really be thinking about feeling the speed and feeling the streamline from dolphining, then they can really hold that position with fins-on underwater.


When I am teaching two-handed turns, I use an analogy—I like to use imagery when I coach.  I tell them that when they come into the wall, this is the last motion in the wall is the kick into the wall.  Once they have done that, they need to throw the head to the shoulder, at the same time pull-back their bowstring—with The Hunger Games there, it is all a very relevant term now.  So draw back your bowstring and your palm goes by your ribs.  Pick-up the telephone; which is getting done less-and-less now—I cannot figure out how to tell them that this means to text.  [laughter]  Draw-back the bow, pick-up the phone, and streamline your push-off.


And the only variation to that, the only thing that is different about that, is that [normally] I want that hand to go right to the ear; but on a fly-to-back turn, I want that hand to go behind the head.  So if you are catching kids doing two-handed turns where the hands are going behind the head, they are looking at a DQ in fly and breaststroke because they are going to be off-balance, they are going to be out of position.  It needs to be here.  So if the head gets over to the shoulder early, they are more towards the breast.  If the hand goes where it should on fly-to-back, they are going to be on the back hip and they are going to be in the right position in both cases.  Okay?


I think… I do not think I mentioned that this session, but I think I did earlier.  One thing that I really like to do on two-handed turns is I like to do two-handed send-offs.  So I will have the kids hold on to the gutter on their send-offs and when they are doing repeats.  Did I say this already?  Okay.  Oh, you are messing with me, Tisha.  So, you have both hands on the wall and your legs are pointing at the other end of the pool.  And when it is time to go and it is time to do their send-off: they pull, draw the bow back, pick-up the phone, and go.  So they are doing two-handed turns.  And because it is so tiring, they start finding the body position that is actually the most efficient, because there is a least amount of drag.  They find that little pattern that actually allows them to slide-to-change rather than drag.


Okay.  Questions?


[audience question]:  When you do the drill with the two hands, do you focus too on the feet?


[Thompson]:  Absolutely, absolutely.


And I love to do… here is a set of hundreds for you.  They have to identify pivoting hand and non-pivoting hand.  Pivoting hand is the last one off the wall, okay?  Hundreds.  First turn, you have to drop the non-pivoting hand to the side and go one-arm-only into the wall, turn on your pivoting hand only.  Turn number two, drop the pivoting hand to the side and the rollback hand is the only one that turns.  Turn number 3, no touch.  So if you do not streamline your feet and draw your knees up hard and do a pivot, you are not going to get turned around.  So we do no-touch turns.  Or I will do breaststroke turns in the middle of the pool; so that there is no wall involved, there is no leverage there.  You either use your lower body correctly or you do not get turned around.  They have… you will be amazed at what a hard time they have doing that in the beginning.


Last question, right here.


[audience question]:  Foot placement on freestyle flip turns?  The angle?


[Thompson]:  Foot placement on freestyle flip turns.  Well, I think if it is done properly that the toes are pointing up and slightly to one side of the other, depending on what side they are on.  I like them to push-off on their side and take their breakout stroke with whichever arm is closest to the bottom.  And breathe on the side opposite of that.  And nag, and nag, and nag.


Thank you so much for coming.



##### end #####



Breaststroke Technique for Age Groupers by Dale Porter, Bolles School Sharks (2012)


[introduction, by Steve Morsilli]

Once again, my name is Steve Morsilli; I’m on your ASCA Board of Directors.  Thank you for coming in to the afternoon session; we just finished-up a very, very good talk with Coach Bill Thompson.  I had never met Coach Porter before today, but I did sit-in on yesterday’s talk, and I was very, very impressed with his toolbox—he has just lists and lists and lists of things that he knows he wants to work on.  And if you missed that talk yesterday, I urge you to talk to him.  Those items are downloadable; they’re available on the Bolles Swimming website (  I’m certainly going to do that when I get to a place where I can print—which is not here—a lot of great ideas.  Today, the discussion is on breaststroke.  Bolles School has a long history; Coach Dale has been part of it for two years now.  And I’ll let him fill in the rest.  So I’m looking forward to an interesting talk, as I’m sure you are.  Welcome, Coach Porter.

[Porter begins]

Thank you so much.  Bit easier being here for the second talk.  My name is Dale Porter; I am the Head Age Group Coach of the Bolles School.  The primary age that I teach is middle school; very similar to Bill [Thompson], and Bill thank you very much for that talk.  That’s my second time I was able to hear Bill: very humorous and keeps it lively and entertaining, and I bet his swimmers have a blast throughout the entire practice—you can imagine that.  I’m looking forward to his next talk on his backstroke starts.


I’m also responsible in coordinating, essentially, our pre-competitive group all the way up through our 14 year-olds; and I’ll touch briefly on those levels.  But essentially what we’re going to talk about today, today’s agenda, we’re going to quickly review Sergio’s….  At the Bolles Sharks, we have Age Group, we have… in the middle school we have a School group, we have a Non-School group: in Senior, we have a School group and our Non-School group.  Within our School group, we have two different coaches; so I’m fortunate enough that I get to teach the middle school School and Non-School groups.  And my responsibility is to feed three coaches off of that program into the Senior program.  So essentially we have two staff meetings a week.  One is simply administrative, make sure we’re all together and on the same page with our calendars and space and what needs to be completed as an organization; and on Thursdays, Sergio has a set-up where we take a turn presenting a talk, a one-hour talk—just like we’re doing today.  So this is a… we’re going to share some slides that he put together for us, for the type of breaststroke that he would like us to be teaching.  So today’s presentation is more-specific to that higher-end Age Groups swimmer, but I will at the end touch a little bit on thoughts on teaching breaststroke to the beginning swimmer.


The Breaststroke is a unique stroke.  In terms of its history, it’s our oldest stroke.  It requires great flexibility in our hips, knees and ankles.  And even in that statement in our last staff meeting, Sergio challenged us, through the Age Group program: we need to start this flexibility down with our 8&Unders, and we need to have a progression of stretches.  Personally it’s not there; it will be one of our goals in our Thursday workshops to get this all in-place within this calendar year.


It’s very important, through the research, that we’re warming-up our legs before we get into intense breaststroke kicking in practice; simply for the fact of the amount of stress that’s being placed on the joints in the body for this particular kick.  For me, this is my personal opinion: I want no pain from my Age Group swimmers.  They’re growing, and they’re feeling pain and discomfort here and there throughout.  But I tell them: if you’re uncomfortable, you need to make the adjustment.  I really put that on them.  There are so many ways we can continue to work Breaststroke, and allowing them to make an adjustment be it with a pull buoy, be it with a dolphin kick, be it with a flutter kick, putting the fins on and letting them kick with fins.  I let them choose what adjustment they want to a make, based on how they’re feeling.  And that’s my personal opinion.


Once we go through Sergio’s presentation, we’ll talk a little bit about beginner and the novice swimmers.  We’ll hit some drills that I’ve got listed here, and answer any questions for the type of notes.  As earlier stated, at I’ve got my resource page; and I encouraged everyone yesterday to start your research page.  If you have not started your resource page, make sure you’re doing that now.  And you’re welcome to grab mine, take out what you don’t like/don’t understand, and create and start a base for yourself in terms of how it makes sense to you.  And then, if we have any time left, we’ll take a peek at some videos that we shot recently.


In these next several slides, they are essentially Sergio’s presentation to us—so I give him credit for that.  He listed these components, that we’ll break down here in the presentation.  Most important to him is that straight line body: getting the body horizontal, tight and straight.  Bill Sweetenham mentioned it the other day (I think it was Bill, someone)… Dave Salo talked about a [Kosuke] Kitajima being one of the best athletes at getting streamline.  We’ll talk about a couple of different variations of what we can do with the catch with the hands, discuss the pull, the breathing, shoulders, that importance of lunging forward, the kick, and then finally the timing.


With the straight line, Sergio believes it’s the most important position in breaststroke; getting to here and taking advantage of that with the kick.  And, most important with this line, is keeping your center of gravity at the surface of the water, essentially our hips.  And we’ll be able to hopefully get to some videos to take a look at some body position with hips in the water.


Some different types of catches you might see in your swimming: turning the hands out on the catch or pressing down with the hands on the catch.  [Ernie] Maglischo talks about these two basic types in his writings.  We’ll just present them here, talk about the difference between the two, and we’ll share with you where we’re headed at the Bolles Sharks.  Turning the hands out and starting with those thumbs down, perpendicular to the bottom of the pool.  As we’re pressing out, we’re sliding those hands out.  Coach Gustavo Calado gave a great reference: if you’ve ever been someplace where they’ve got a beaded curtain, you’re just opening up those curtains—opening them up.  Sliding those hips forward: we believe that this generates more speed, but less power—and I’ll explain why here in a moment.  And with this particular catch, you’re using more muscles within the forearms; those muscles in the forearms are coming first and then transferring that power into the biceps.


You might see a high-elbow catch from some of your athletes, where those hands are pressing down sooner.  Maglischo saw studies where the power peaked much higher there, but then it faded off.  In his particular opinion, that fade-off translated into that delay of when the kick was coming up; and he also tended to support turning the hands out on the catch and that’s where we are at the Bolles School.  One of the other negatives of pressing down on that catch early: while it is powerful and the athlete feels strong in that moment, it is going to lower your center of gravity because it’s pulling the shoulders up sooner.  And it’s mostly a biceps-dominant stroke, which over time could lead to fatigue sooner.


In these two photos here, you’ll see in the upper-left a nice wide catch; we’ll talk about that body line and position here in a moment.  What I also like about that picture is a reference we can give to our athletes: when you’re using your arms, you’re pulling a thin needle or a cord behind you, your legs are streamlined.  And then when it’s time to kick—we’ll get to that later—kind of pushing a torpedo forward, powering forward.  Your upper body is already towards streamline and you’re kicking the body forward as if it were a needle or a torpedo.  In that bottom picture, you see those thumbs pointed down at the bottom of the pool, pinkies high, pressing out and really working those forearms.  In that upper left, you can see the muscles active on that forearm catch.  We’ll talk about streamline here and the importance of keeping the head in-line with the spine a little bit stronger.  I know with my Age Groupers, as soon as they start the catch, that head starts to come up, and we’ll see some video of that in a moment.  For teaching a breaststroke catch where we’re pressing out a bit wider, we also want teach keeping that head in streamline a bit longer.


After that catch, it’s time to start engaging the biceps; and the importance of keeping those fingers pointed down at the bottom of the pool.  I know me, we have some reference points about jumping forward.  And I know some of my athletes get excited about that, and they fail to really come through and complete.  They start bringing those hands forward sooner, and we’ll see a lot of power dropping off at that point.  But keeping those fingers pointed down at the bottom of the pool versus forward—if we’ve got those fingers forward through the whole stroke—we’ve lost a great opportunity to develop some power.


Within the Sharks, we’re teaching a later breath.  It takes a while to get used to.  I use a snorkel to help [them] just get comfortable with the bodyline, in the beginning; and then working some exercises into how to hold their breath.  Holding the breath to the last moment allows for buoyancy from the lungs and kind of helps the body shoot-up and forward into that wave.  By keeping that head in streamline longer, we’re also able to keep our hips high.


With the shoulders, it’s very important that as we begin that recovery that we’re scrunching forward in bringing those shoulders forward, getting ready to shoot and jump.  Sergio says, “Think about bringing the shoulders over the ears.”  With this launch forward (you can see in that photo there), the head’s already headed back to where the hands were.  The head has weight to it; it’s very important that we’re using that [weight] to throw the body forward.  Maglischo saw some early jumps in power, and he really didn’t understand… he kind of wrote… he had four theories going on as to why are we getting this peak in power right here.  It’s because the hands are coming forward and I’m still in that recovery phase of the kick; I really haven’t grabbed the water yet with the kick.  And we believe that it has everything to do with throwing that head forward and the leverage from the hips because the hips were already so high.  With the recovery of the hands being forward and underwater.


With the feet, we included this picture here.  Simply as we are coaches, we’re watching that those feet are recovering inside the hips.  Too often we’ll have an athlete that will want to come up and recover right away to the outside of the hips; we want them inside.  Very important that we’re talking about speed in that recovery as well: fast recovery.


We’ll talk about body position.  With trying to keep those knees back, we’re lifting the heels as opposed to dropping the knees.  For dropping the knees, drag and resistance; and we’ll see some photographs on that.  When we bring our heels up to the hips, we want to see that straight line from shoulder down to knees, keeping the knees back.  If we’re pulling our knees up under our body, no more straight line, shoulder to knees.  When we talk to our swimmers about kicks, we’re talking about kicking straight back.  While it’s impossible, we’re still going to try and get that image into their head.  The feet are going to head out.  But if we talk to them about getting kicking straight back, it’s going to be a very powerful kick.  After the kick and those feet finish down, we want to slowly take advantage of that snap and just keep curling them up, and curling them up, and getting them in streamline behind the body.  So very important that after that final propulsive point of that kick, we’re getting streamline.


As that swimmer is stroking, sliding those hips forward.  And accelerating forward through that lunge.  Here we’re going to see that lunge forward, through a quick couple of screens here.  The athletes have their breath, hands are headed forward, they’re grabbing the water, and throwing that head forward.  That’s the basic information that Sergio’s presented to us, and asked us to apply to our swimmers.


In terms of starts—these are my opinion—I believe that the start can be a little bit steeper and a little bit deeper.  It’s the one stroke when we’re not kicking first; we can have a little bit of momentum going in our favor—just a little bit.  It is an underwater action that we need to take; it needs to be trained.  It is just going to be a little bit different in terms of how we address it.  We’ve been talking: underwaters, underwaters, underwaters.  We’ll still got to be training our underwater breaststroke, and we can be drilling for that as well.


In our Thursday coaches clinic, one of Sergio’s assistants, Coach Mike, went through a pullout progression.  We were taking advantage of the early kick.  Within our program, we don’t teach it to our beginners or our novice swimmers; it’s just not part of the progression.  If it happens naturally, we let it go; we make sure that it’s legal.  But even all the way up through 14 years-old, when that undulation happens, that’s going to be up to them.  It’s not going to be an expectation on my part as to when they’re going to take that dolphin kick.  We’ll teach an early dolphin kick; we’ll let them decide when to put it into place.  They’ve got to get comfortable with it; they’ve got to trust it.  They’ve got to get over the nerves of oh, we’re going to get disqualified in it or not.  But the pullout, we’ve been teaching: pushing off the wall going deeper, separating the hands and dolphin kicking level.  And then taking that arm pull up towards the surface, and brining that momentum and that full set of lungs into that first breakout.


With the turns, I teach them to set it up underneath the flags.  They’ve got to be aware of where their head position is at when they’re around near the flags.  They need to know how many arm pulls from this point to the wall.  I want [them] to be finishing in streamline.  I want to be able to kick-touch; that’s the type of finish that we want to finish with.  You saw that… well, I’ll go back to those slides.  You’re coming through… sorry, kick and touch.  And that set-up is going to happen long before that.


So we’re going into the turn.  I want them to be in streamline when their hands get to the wall.  I want them to elbow-their-brother, phone-their-mother and be tight.  I ask my group, once they make that straight arm touch, to drop back down; I just want their head above water.  I’m watching for that athlete that’s grabbing the top of the wall and then trying to grab and get lift out of it.  I’m going to teach that different: we’re going to take the top of the wall away from them for a little bit.  If you’ve got old touch pads that aren’t working anymore, they can be… just depends on what type of pull you’ve got, I guess.  We’ve got a high deck: we have got a coping with big gutters.  So we can hang a touch pad on our gutters, and it creates a flat surface that they can’t grab anything to.  Yes?


[audience member]:  I’m wondering, are you teaching the breath… are you teaching them to come in and take that breath first, or are you teaching to stay low and them take the breathe as they going into the water?


[Porter]:  That is an excellent question.  I am going to want them to just inhale in this position right here.  I’ve not asked an athlete to come low and then come up high on the wall.  I’ve asked that athlete to come at that wall, and then change directions again quick.  Was that your question in terms of what angle I’m asking them to come to that wall at?


[audience]:  Yeah. In terms of the timing, you want the head low obviously, but do you want them to take a breath first thing right as they touch the wall, or is it more of a as they are transitioning and their legs come beneath them and they are kind of coming backwards?


[Porter]:  When do I want them to inhale?  It’s going to be a natural spot.  They’ve got to be yanking at the knees to come through.  I think it’s probably going to be a little bit later, as they’re heading underwater.


Pulling the knees to the chest, very important.  I know I’ve got a lot of hip turners: they like to come around and bring that hip in.  I want those hips back, knees in, and then turning and sliding the hips.  Very important that we’re teaching to streamline the feet behind them.  As those knees are coming in, keeping those feet together and hidden.  And I teach with my group that the breaststroke-to-breaststroke turn is different from the breaststroke-to-freestyle turn.  Breaststroke-to-breaststrokers are going to have to… when their feet leave the wall be, towards their chest; breaststroke-to-freestyle, they can be towards their back.  So I’ll encourage a little bit higher foot placement, breaststroke to freestyle, push off and deeper; and then I like a slow dolphin kick around into that stroke.  The last part of the IM and they really don’t want to be underwater that long, but that’s what I’m teaching them.


With the finish, again just like the turn, I want to set that up near the flags.  If there are any short strokes that have to take place, they need to take place before the T.  In that finish, I want the head in-between the arms, hands in front of the shoulder.  We’ve all seen too many races, recently, where that athlete was diving down and had to come up to the wall; and you saw the consequence of that.


With race strategy, things that I do within my sets.  I’ll do an 8×100 challenge with them, on the 8:00.  I’m going to have them count their strokes, I’m also going to get a time, and I’m going to average them.  I want them to see that progression as well; they’ll see the whole data.  So with race strategy, we can be talking about stroke count.  Stroke rate: I don’t do much with it within my program.  But it is something that I know some of you are very familiar with and can approach with your athletes.


I work a lot with splits, in terms of what the front-end speed should look like, what the back-half speed should look like.  We train it quite a bit, within the season.  It’s on their goal sheet:  If they tell me the time they want, I’ll write the splits back to them as to what I want from them.


You and I can be timing how long it takes to get them from the block out to the 15-meter mark.  I was reading Dave Salo article on the way to the clinic, after 2008; where he gave me the idea that I’m going to start timing the breaststroke swim into the wall.  And once they make that hand touch, timing how long it takes to get from that point out to the 15-meter mark.  I have a time of how long it takes them to get from the flags to the wall and back to the flags again.  And I tracked that, and I post it for them; and it gives them a challenge to improve and to work their way up on the list.  And it’s an all-time list, I keep it for… this is an all-time group list.


And then finish time, that’s one of my goals—I shared this the other day.  My team is getting beat by other teams inside the flags, and it’s happening too often.  That’s a strategy that I need to put in place.  And I will probably put it in place through fun and games and nice rewards at the end of it.  We’ll just start finishing practices either win-the-heat, get-out; win-the-heat, get-something; win-the-heat, doesn’t-have-to-do-something.  There’s a variety of different motivators that we can use to get our athletes racing to the wall.


In terms of our beginners, kinesthetic approach is still very important: be willing to manipulate their hands and their feet where you want them to go.  Too often if I’m working with an 8 year-old… and there are quite a few videos I couldn’t put, I didn’t have the heart to put up, with 8 year-olds where I was trying to talk-through what I wanted with them.  And they just kept doing the same thing [swaying head motion], pointing their toes; there’s just no connection to the audible.  But if I get down there and I get my hands on their feet and say no, this is where I want your feet, the kinesthetic approach works well.


You’re working these skills from the deck, from in the water; having them stand on the deck, stand in the water.  Sitting, having their chest against the wall, working the kick; helps keeps their knees back and helps keeps them from pulling their knees up under their body.  Willingness to get in the water (that’s a point later), it’s so very important.  If you’re willing to get in the water at this level, your results are going to happen quicker—exponentially quicker.  But holding their feet in the position of the catch, and just letting them push and go and shoot and try to streamline as far as they can—either with the board or without.


ASCA’s suggestions for the progression: is to teach timing first.  Head up, kick and dive.  To teach kicking all the time, and then end the arms later-on in the progression.  We need to explain what we want from them, we need to demonstrate, and we need to practice it, over and over and over.  Because even at my level, I’ve got illegal breaststroke kicks coming-in to my group.  We need to keep after them.


Develop your keywords.  What works for you?  Whether it’s up, out, kick and glide; up, out around and down; slooooow quick.  Using colors to identify what’s slow, what’s fast and what’s stop.  Out, squeeze and jump.  And using your voice to bring about speed.


Noodles work great at the beginner level.  Setting them underneath their elbows or shoulder/armpits, and letting them work from that position.  It is a great way that you can still be in communication with them and they can be feeling the skill.  Bob Steele’s book, Games, Gimmicks & Challenges, is great for reference, I suggest it to you, use it, have it in your library.  And on page 172-174—I can’t do it any better than that—there’s a wonderful progression in teaching the skills of breaststroke.


In the Novice level, we’re going to add the pull-out.  Our coaches, what works for you, whatever you’re comfortable with.  I’ve seen one coach that goes through desserts: apples, peaches, pumpkin pie.  And then goes through the pull, strawberry shortcake.  And then works on the kick.  ASCA suggests using large elephants, in terms of counting: one elephant, two elephant, three elephant, and so forth.  So whatever works for you; you can change things up and try different things.



Alright, this is off my resource page.  These are drills that I’ve written down or read from authors.  (If you love to write: thank you for doing that for me.  It is the way that I learn best.  So I appreciate it… when somebody asks you if they can do an interview with you, please say yes.  Because I’m going to learn from it; and if I’m learning from it, many of you are as well.)


But I’ll do:

  • Right-arm-only from streamline from the hips.
  • One-arm progression: I can do it in all strokes. That’s essentially being able to hold that balance and control two arm-pulls on the next cycle, three arm-pulls each side on the next round.
  • Three kicks and a pull: tremendous for holding that body line when you’re working independent sides of the body. Three-kicks-and-a-pull or three-pulls-and-a-kick, and fighting for that streamline, holding streamline, coaching streamline through that.
  • Three right, three left, three together, is your arm pull sequence.
  • Three up, three down: again another great drill for bodyline. It keeps that head in-line with the spine when you’re underwater.  It’s just normal strokes without pull-outs.  Three strokes underwater holding your breath.
  • Four strokes and a pull-out.
  • Eight strokes or less: you decide what is a proper number of strokes for your level. Do it through experiment; find out what that number is for you.  But it’s a counting… teaching them how to count strokes and work on increasing distance-per-stroke.
  • A-okay: is simply taking surface away from the hand and forcing you to grab more water with that forearm. It also gives me an identification: I want those fingers point it down.  Let’s them feel the water surging through that circle as it’s coming through.
  • Alternating a breaststroke kick with a dolphin kick: can help with the lunging and powering forward.
  • Catch-up stroke: again, one arm at a time.
  • Crossover: coming through, keeping those elbows up, and then crossing those hands, bring the elbows in. So working on accelerating and working on keeping those fingers down.  Kind of like a mid-scull; so you can even do some mid-scull work and then three crossovers.
  • Using just a dolphin kick to get through.
  • Eggbeater kick: great for warming up the legs. Just one leg at a time.  Some kids don’t like it; if they don’t have the flexibility, they certainly don’t like it; but great coordination tool.
  • Fist drill: again, taking away surface area from the hands and speeds things up.
  • Flutter kick: I’ll use a flutter kick to develop hand speed. They want to use a flutter kick and just relax and glide out here; I want to use a flutter kick just soon as they push forward and find that streamline, they’re into their next stroke.  So I work that with tempo.
  • Head-up breaststroke: it forces a good strong kick.
  • Body position. If your focus is on body position, just leave that drill in your pocket, you don’t need it right now.
  • Breaststroke on your back: for the younger ones especially in learning the kick, it can also be a good warm-up for them. It keeps the knees on the surface; if they’re knee dominant in terms of recovering, you’ll see it right away.  They’ll be up and out of the water.  So it teaches bringing the heels to the bottom.  Whether you want to use the hands or not, it’s up to you.  This is more about the legs and the recovery of the feet, streamline kicking: from the very, very early beginning.
  • Thumb-up breaststroke: teaches my swimmer to keep the hand underwater. They can pitch-in.  And I want to see the thumbs-up like a periscope of a submarine pushing forward, and then getting that head back where those hands were.  Keeping the hands at the surface versus putting those hands down.
  • Sculling: front scull with breaststroke, mid-scull with breaststroke—there’s a big one there.
  • Three pulls, three strokes, three kicks, three strokes.
  • Elbows up: I’m looking for it right in here as they’re coming through and then around.  It’s more of something that I just say and I’m looking for; it might be a note for me to look for it when we’re doing elbows-up drill.
  • Three fast strokes off your pull-out and then finish long. There’s also a thought that you want to take those first couple of strokes to get into it, so there’s another drill: two settle and four fast is in the third column.  Just depends on what your preference is in terms of getting down the pool.
  • Head up, pull fast: is good for getting on those forearms.
  • One arm, one leg: great for finding streamline, as they’ll end-up way-out over here when they’re done. I mean just naturally you’re here, and you just got to keep working on getting tight.  And one arm, one leg, it’s taking one arm, crossing it over the back, and holding the opposite leg.  They don’t like that drill;  they don’t go anywhere, they want a drill that gets them some place.
  • Hang loose: is just another way of reducing surface area on the hand. Some people don’t have the flexibility of finding that [hang-loose hand position].  I don’t know if that’s a video game thing, but a lot of kids don’t like holding their hands that way anymore.
  • Peace drill: surface area.
  • Chopping block: I don’t use it that much, but it’s a drill I’ve got. You’re going to need a stronger athlete, stronger kick.  But essentially there’s no arm pull.  You’re going to come up for your breath of air and then kick forward again.  Up for your breath of air and kick forward again: finding that streamline.  My athletes don’t like it because they’re used to that to get a breath of air; they don’t want to use any other muscles to support their breath of air.  But I’m going to ask them to get their breath of air forward, and then kick and find that streamline.
  • Scoop and shoot: any way you want to talk about jumping forward; it’s about accelerating, coming forward. Body position awesome to tip their head forward to help get that lean; getting the head coming through.
  • Using a pull buoy helps get those hips up.
  • Sliding the hips forward: is something we want to see. We’ll tell them it’s something we want to see; not something they can necessarily feel.  But that’s more for you: to look, to make sure those hips are up high.
  • Underwater pull-outs: in terms of how many of them we can add. We can go two pull-outs in a row underwater.
  • One right arm butterfly stroke, one left arm butterfly stroke, two breaststroke strokes. And on those two breaststroke strokes, I’m going to have them hold their breath, working on body position, working on streamline.
  • Pinkies touching: to your preference. We don’t want to see the palms up, but it’s just, again, to get the pinkies to touch.  I want them to touch early, not necessarily touch way-up in streamline.  If they’re touching in streamline, their hands are up and we’re not teaching that; we’re teaching those palms to be down at the bottom of the pool at streamline.
  • Cobra‘s just a body position, another head throw. I want to see that athlete be willing to throw that head forward off of that breath, like a snake striking.
  • We talked about two settle, four fast.
  • Timing drill, Coach Christian loves this. I’m fortunate enough: I’m surrounded by wonderful breaststrokers.  Sergio’s a bronze medalist at the Olympics; Christian, Olympic Trials breaststroker level; Coach Mike, 400 IMer, he assists Sergio.  I’ve got a wealth of information around me, and it’s a fantastic tool to be able to walk and ask them questions about this stroke at all times.  But Christian likes 3-2-1 timing.  And with 3-2-1 timing, 4×25: first 25, 3-second hold between strokes; second 25, 2 seconds; third 25, 1 second; last 25, it’s just a half… really it’s feet touch, let’s go, feet touch come on, let’s go.  And he likes that in a pre-meet warm-up as well, just to work on that timing.
  • Out slow, in fast: you’re just working-on the face in the water, out slow and then jumping and accelerating. Out slow, in fast; out slow, in fast.  And very important that as they’re coming out slow, that they’re holding that head in streamline.
  • Vertical kicking: just depends on if you’ve got access to deep water. But vertical kicking, you can be looking as to how they’re recovering?  Are they bringing their heels up to their bottom or are they pulling their knees forward as their heads up-and-out of the water.
  • Sit and pull: Dave Salo talked about… he didn’t care what end of the pool he ended up on—and I had read that statement from a long time ago and said, We’ll figure out a way to get you back. And so oftentimes if we’re down at the other end, they’ll be, “We’re down at the other end, what are we going to do?”  Sit-and-pull your way back, it’ll be fine.  We’ll do sculling drill, we’ll do something.  We’ll add something fun in there, and it’s also little bit of recovery at the same time before we get into another set.  But sitting down, pulling those knees up, and then working on bringing those forearms in right in front of those knees as they come forward.
  • Double pull-out: we talked about underwater pull-out.
  • Underwater pull-outs: you can do 25s underwater with the pull-out all the way down.
  • and then kicking with hands behind your hips, something that I added most recently.


Can we look at a little video?  (We’re on the early side.)  Here’s a kicking video here.  I apologize: with PowerPoint, I don’t have the control that I like.  So if I want to stop something some place, I have to just try and guess.  Let’s take a look at this shot here.  We’ve still got those feet; we’re trying to keep them inside the hips on the recovery.  She’s very flexible with her ankles.  Knees might be a little bit wide for how flexible she is; I want them in just a little bit tighter.  As she’s finishing—she’s on a kickboard—but I’d like to see that after she finishes here that she’s aware of what she’s doing with her feet.  I’d like to see those feet kind of get a little bit tighter into a streamline.


This is Catherine in a full stroke.  And the only thing I’d be concerned about here in terms of her body position, I feel like she’s throwing that hip some.  There are a couple of strokes I’m worried about how deep she is.  But if we’re looking at those hips, keeping those hips up on that line.  And the one thing I will take this and show with her is I’d like to see those legs a little bit tighter.  If you looked at Catherine from the top, something we’ve been working on for a couple of years now, is she gets into this position right here and she forgets that the arms are very important to be in streamline here.  She’s relaxed: she’s elbows out and little bit too wide.


Here’s a video of an athlete just kicking vertically.  (I’ve got one here in a moment without the wall).  But using the wall here as a reference, simply to let him know he can’t pull those knees forward; he’s got to keep those knees coming back, lifting those heels up to the bottom, snapping through.  Here, you can see the palms out with the catch.  The head… holding that head in streamline, a little bit longer.  With this athlete here, with Jacob, I’d like to see the hips up a little bit higher.  And I do some work with him and drills with him in getting those hips up higher.


I think with many of these videos here, we caught them after a Saturday morning practice.  And I don’t know about your Saturday morning practice, but they weren’t too happy about staying a little bit extra to get videotaped.  And their pop just isn’t quite there today.


But here, this point forward in terms of the pull-out, this is one thing in terms of Age Group swimming that I’m working with.  At this point, when the athlete is starting to kick their hands forward, my athletes are pulling their head up just too soon.  I’ve got to teach them to keep that head in streamline longer.  Jacob’s doing a good job with that there: he got all the way to streamline before he brought his head up.  But even at this point, I still want that head in streamline as he’s coming in through into his breakout stroke.  And I want his hips higher.


This is a sit-scull drill that we were talking about.  Just working on nice high elbows, slicing that hand in across the front of the knees.  This is vertical kicking from the back, working on recovering those feet inside the hips.  We can see the line of the recovery and its vertical kicking.  He’s going to be… it’s going to be tough to point his toes.  If he goes and points his toes here, he’s going to sink, so he’s probably keeping his feet perpendicular just for a little bit more power.  Coming into the wall here, I want the head in-between the arms.  I’m not a big fan of Jacob’s pull-out here: you can see he’s going to pull his elbow out sideways instead of straight back along the body.  If he does pull back, he’s going to come back behind his back.  And he’s just not quite in a great line, as he’s coming off.  He likes to kick early, and get his hand separation, and go through.


This is Ryan.  We taped Ryan for his arm pull.  He’s got his palm out.  He’s holding his head in streamline.  He’s got a great slice-in through and under his body.  Grabs hold of that water, in that perpendicular arm pull accelerating under.  We too filmed this right after a Saturday morning practice, and it was a long one for them—I was thankful they stayed in.  But you can see he’s doing a good job there keeping his head in streamline; his head is up a little bit before the hand sweep out.  But a nice straight line in that shot right there.


This is Joseph and he’s got one of those fun finishes at the end of his kick.  But he has a very powerful kick.  We teach pushing off down, coming through and up, and into that first pull-out.


This is James, with a turn we didn’t like it all.  But what you need to see about James here, watch his hips, stay right up high.  That was a lazy turn—lazy turn.  And we’re going to work on that with him there; he’s got to stay streamlined through that process.  It’s not all that possible; I mean, there is going to be some movement.  We’re going to show you, we’d put a line on an athlete using a Dartfish, and you can see that it would be very difficult to keep that body in a straight streamline throughout those steps.


Amy is light, she really can keep her hips up high.  And she too, I’d like to keep that head in just a little bit longer on that streamline.


I’m not going to bore you too much with this slide, but I want you to see the wingspan on Ryan here, keeping those elbows up as he slices all the way through and into that stroke.


This is John here.  He has nice, high hip position throughout his stroke and good streamline.  I think I got another shot of Shawn from the side.  Good line, good body line, good hips.  Notice his pull-up was a little bit different than the other athletes; I’ll surely be talking to Sergio about that.


(I want to show you this slide here and then share with you some tidbits of information.)  This is a pull-out where we did the Dartfish.  And you can see that through the steps, Sheryl does a very good job keeping that body in a tight streamline through the steps.  Good shoulder scrunch after her hands are at her hips and coming through.


Before I take questions, I just wanted to share with you something that has helped me tremendously.  I wish I had breaststroke to show with you, but I don’t have breaststroke per se.  but it’s a software used on the iPhone; it’s called Coach’s Eye.  And what I like about Coach’s Eye: instead of using the software that’s already there, where I tap, tap, tap, tap, tap or free software; I don’t have to fast forward.  It’s got a thumb wheel down at the bottom and I can come forward and back with my image.  I’ve taken… I’ve spent $30 on what’s called an Aqua Box.  And if you just search Aqua Box, you’ll be able to find it; it’s around that $30 range.  It’s not available in too many places.  There are two sizes: there’s one for an Android phone, one for an iPhone—make sure you get the right one for your phone.  But I can put this in and I can stick it underwater taping, bring it back out, analyze it right there with the athlete, show them what I want them to work on—a simple skill or what not—and then I can also text it right to them.  And I just wanted to give you a demonstration of one.  The technical terms might not be correct here, but you get the idea with the type of tool that you can be working with.  I can take the whole video and then edit it with sound.


Her shoulders here are almost vertical.  It doesn’t let her hand… it doesn’t let her elbow keep a high elbow set, and forces this hand to kind of come sideways when we’ve got a straight line and dropping her elbow down that much.  We’ve got to work on less body roll here, less body roll.  We want that angle to be more… like that with the shoulder blades.  As opposed to you’ve got a vertical catch going on here.  And you can see what the result is, where this hand is actually higher than the elbow down here.  That’s not a very strong pull.  We want this finger to be pointed down at all times; we want the fingers pointed at the bottom of the pool throughout the entire stroke.  Less shoulder roll, a little bit less from the hips as well, please.  Thank you.

[commentary ends]


It’s called Coach’s Eye, and it has been one of my favorite tools this year.  So I just wanted to share that with you before getting out of there.  Lot of information, we got plenty of time for questions.  Can I answer any questions for you?  Yes.


[audience member]:  At the beginning you kind of mentioned flexibility training. What kind of exercises are you doing?


[Porter]: Dryland flexibility exercises that we’re doing.  I think the direction we’re going to be heading in is asking the question of a therapist first, making sure that we’re sitting and rolling, what we can do in terms of loosening it up, in terms of are we going to sit and down or not.  I’m going to wait and get a professional recommendation before I put that into play.  It’s not there yet.  Right now, our general stretching is standard right now, and I’ve got a list of what our stretching routine is.  I can show it to you here on the screen.


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Basic Nutrition for Swimmers by Pam Giese (2013)


Alright; so thank you so much.  I know it is always super-fun when you get to talk about nutrition right before dinner, and you are probably a little blood-sugar deprived and what not.  So this will really get your appetite going for some great New Orleans food.


Scott [Bay] was my swim coach because, as a triathlete, I didn’t know how to swim.  And he watched me in the pool and he was like stop, just stop.  I am like: what’s wrong?  He goes, everything, everything; let’s just start all over again.  So what Scott did though, is I needed to slow down and learn my skills.  And my whole goal in Swimming was to be able to do 2.4 miles and get out and ride my bike, because that’s what I love to do.  So he took me through the skills and drills and the basics; and that’s what I am hoping and praying to do with you guys for nutrition this evening.  Is to just go through the basics of good human nutrition.


I have a curriculum, a little agenda, slide show; but if there are things that you want to know, my time is yours.  That’s what I am here for, to address your concerns, your needs, your questions to the best I can.  I have been in the industry for just about 30 years—I know I started when I was 6.  And it is a passion of mine to teach people how to put the fuel together that will give them what they need in their performance, whatever it is.


So what was interesting to me as I looked at the agenda, the curriculum for this weekend here, there’s skills and drills and swimming this and that, and you guys got everything you want, every angle that you want to know.  But 20% of what we do in performance is our skills and our drills, our athletics, all of that; 80% of who we create in health is in your nutrition plan.  So I thought it was a really interesting sort of juxtaposition or balance/inbalance of topics.  So I am like: alright, great, I get to talk about nutrition.  I am really excited, because I am not competing with too many people; and I don’t compete with them anyway.  So here we go.


That’s me.  Scott did mention that I do a little bit of playing around in sport.  I am really not very good, but I do have a lot of fun with it.  And so that’s my background.  Interestingly, my formal education is all in Psychology; it is all in Coaching.  And coaching people and getting in-between their ears and trying to get them to have belief in whatever they do.


So you guys work a lot with either yourself, as Masters athletes, or in coaching kids, coaching athletes, in belief that things are possible.  Belief that they can improve on their 50, or their 100, or their 400, or 1500 by a couple of seconds or a minute, or whatever.  And I work with people on belief that it is possible to attain a better level of health through nutrition strategies.  So that’s enough about me.


So the first question that always comes up: Is exercise a ticket to eat anything you want?  Does anyone believe that?  Does anyone ever say that?  I haven’t, but Scott might have been one of the people that said it—alright, go, get out.  I hear that a lot in endurance athletics.  It is like I just run, I exercise, I swim, so I can eat anything I want.  And the facts, the fact is that—and I was just talking to Susan about this—70% or 80% of who we are is nutrition and hydration; 20% maybe 30% of it is in your activity, your training and your skills.  So let’s talk about nutrition.


All right so… (and be interactive with me, because you don’t want to listen to me the whole time and I don’t want to listen to me the whole time either).  So when we talk about optimum human functioning or human health, what we are really talking about is preservation of age, metabolically.  And I’ll explain that.


So these are the concerns or the goals that I hear from athletes mostly sort of in that area of you know, body fat and so forth.  But when it comes to nutrition, what they are looking for is:

  • More energy.
  • Preservation and development of muscle tissue. That is a huge component of what we do in nutrition.
  • Lowering body fat, body fat reduction or keeping our body fat optimum and low.
  • That we have a good immune system, our immune system is functioning correctly.
  • We have reduced inflammation.
  • That we perform well athletically and we perform well intellectually. And as you are a coach, I am a coach, one of the most critical things that we have is a student or an athlete’s ability to engage when we are trying to teach them something.  It’s really difficult when you have like the ADD people: they are over here and they’re like Squirrel! and, you know, you just totally lose them.  So the more attention that they can pay intellectually to what they are doing, the better of an athlete that they are going to become.  And that goes for all of us as well.  And there are some really solid nutrition reasons why people may or may not be able to pay attention.
  • Maintaining the efficiencies of a youthful metabolism. And we are going to talk just a little bit about that, because that’s really important, despite aging.  I can’t help us: we all are going to age chronologically.  We start at birth and we go until we are done, and each year we tick along.  But we can do things in our nutrition program to have our efficiencies stay more like a teenager.  In sports performance, when we do metabolic testing on people, or we do… actually what we are looking at is bioavailability studies; we look at how nutrition gets in at the cellular level.  We see that athletes tend to age metabolically very, very slowly.  So it is because they have optimum nutrition and they have optimum activity.  So we are going to take a look at: if you are someone who is aging metabolically faster than you are aging chronologically, how do we back up that timeline just a little bit.


So here we go: there are two components to this business that I am in, it is called health and fitness.  And there are three words in that little equation.  The most important word is the word and, because these are two separate things: health and fitnessHealth has to do with how we balance the internal components of our body and how we feed it.  And then when we get all of that right, we implement the fitness program.  And that [fitness] is either just activity, gentle movement, or it is training with a coach and a plan, or it is training with a coach and a plan and an outcome, which means becoming an athlete, right?


So let’s talk about what does balancing and feeding have to do….  So here is what happens in my profession as a personal trainer, and maybe in yours as a coach.  I have people call me up and come in and they engage in my services.  And they want to pay hundreds of dollars for me to go to the gym with them, and teach them and train them.  Teach them how to run, and evaluate their cycling and what not, and, you know, do their CrossFit program with them or whatever.  So they are going to do all that, but we haven’t put their body in a good state of health and that is a problem.  Because all the fitness in the world is not going to create better health.  Right?


So we have people who are super fit—and I know you see them in the Swimming arena; I see them in Triathlon all the time.  They have trained themselves to complete a big event, but inside they are a car crash, they are just a train wreck.  They’ve got high blood pressure, they’ve got high cholesterol.  They get very dilated and they can’t dissipate heat well; they have a huge to tendency to overheat.  And that’s because we haven’t balanced the components of their health.  So we are going to take a look at: how do we do that.


There are a couple of components to balancing and then there is a whole concept of feeding and fueling.  So let’s look at this.  (I can come down her for a minute, this is a long slide.  Hey you guys have a questions, interrupt me please, alright, really this is all about you.)  So the components of health are four: oxygen, water, micronutrients, and then macronutrients.  And we are going to work backwards.  Because in order of importance, the human body can do without food for the longest period of time, right?  If there is one of those four components your body can go without, in survival, for a long period of time, it is macronutrients.  So we are going to talk about them actually last.


What’s more important than macronutrients are micronutrients.  Micronutrients are your vitamins and minerals.  They are the vehicles that get into your cell and transport things like water and oxygen.  We need our micronutrients.  In just simple strategies in sports performance, we are talking about things like electrolytes.  Basically the electrolytes that we talk about are: sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.  Those are responsible for opening the cellular doors and allowing fluids in, so that our hydration levels stay appropriate.


And we are going to talk about hydration as we go through this.  But remember this when you are implementing hydration strategies with people, particularly in Swimming—it is just kind of a different sport and I know you know this is coaches.  But we don’t always recognize that we are pouring sweat in the pool or in the ocean, right?  So we have a tendency… sometimes because the water is always less than 98.6°—almost always, unless you live in Florida, where I do—but you don’t always recognize that you have a hydration challenge.  So it’s really important that we have the right strategies for hydration, even when we are swimmers, or particularly when we are swimmers.


So micronutrients allow the important components to get into the cell.  More important than micronutrients though is water.  About two-thirds of the human body, maybe a little bit more than that, is water.  And we need water to be available: fluid is part of every single cell, it is part of every single cellular function, everything that metabolically happens in the human body.


And then the most important component of our survival is oxygen.  That is the thing we can do without for the shortest period of time.


So the question becomes: what does that have to do with nutrition, especially oxygen?  How does oxygen get into our cells?  It is transported via our blood stream, right.  And the transport micronutrient for both water and oxygen are B-vitamins.  So B-vitamins are a transport vehicle that allow oxygen into your cells at every level.  They get your brain going, they get your focus going, they get your muscular contractions going, and they allow your body to sustain activity for a longer period of time.


So when we look at people who run out of energy, and they go to the doctor, they’ll get a B-12 shot or they’ll get a B shot.  They come out like oh my God, I feel great.  Yes, you feel great: someone just stuck B-vitamins right into your blood stream; they grabbed-hold of the oxygen and it pumped that right up into your cells.


So if we are looking at a nutrition plan, and we are looking at components that are missing, you see a lot of different… you know, we will talk a little bit towards the end of our program about supplements.  But you see a lot of different things that people are doing in their nutrition plan.  Like they are deliberately cutting-out groups of foods like grains, which are very dominant in some of our B-vitamins.  Or people are choosing a vegetarian lifestyle; and without animal products in your diet, you cannot get B-12.  It is only available in animal products, naturally, or in a supplement form.  So if we do that for a long period of time, we are depriving our body of energy or oxygen at the cellular level.  That’s important to know.


Macronutrients are defined as proteins, carbohydrates and fats.  They each have a role; we are going to talk specifically about them.  But a lot of people want to know: how much of each do I need?  So I’ve put a formula on the slides, and I am going to give a more common sense formula.  (And by the way, if you guys want before you leave, if you just write your name and your email address, I will send you these slides.  So I am happy to do that for you.  They are in PDF file format so you can’t alter them, because if you did I might get in trouble.  But you are welcome to have them because this is your presentation.)


So the formulas for how much oxygen, how much water and how much macronutrients we need, are up there for you.  And I just want to kind of mention the water thing.  A lot of times the committee of they in the United States, or in the world, whatever, has told us we need how much water?  Eight ounces, right.  Have you heard that before?  Okay.  So I am wondering is that for Shaquille O’Neal or is that for Gary Coleman; who needs 8 oz glasses?  The problem with just sweeping our nutrition programs with a broad brush is that it doesn’t customize for who you are.  Does it matter if you are a male or a female?  It does.  Does it matter if you are a 7’4” or you’re 4’11”?  It does.


So here is a sports-performance formula for you, for optimum hydration.  It is one half of your present body weight in fluid ounces plus a 20% allowance extra if you are in a climate that demands that.  So: really cold, hot and humid, or altitude.  Those are all put further demands on your hydration needs.  And 20% for all of the days that you are involved in activity, including the recovery time when you come out of that.


So I live in Florida; I do most of my training in Florida.  There is definitely a 20% allowance, pretty much seven days a week, for extra fluid for myself and just people that landscape, that work in the pool service business, that do all of that.




[audience member]:  As an equation there is that 20% of your body weight or 20% of half your body weight?


[Giese]:  Thank you.  20% of half your body weight; it is 20% above your base-line, which is half of your current body weight.  Does that make sense?


So here is the formula; these just get a little more complicated.  There are some caveats that I am going to put in here.  Ideally when we are looking at how much protein does a human being need?, in nutrition education, we say it is gram-for-pound what your ideal body weight is.


So a lot of times I am working with people who are on a body-fat reduction program.  They are overweight… they are not overweight, they are over fat—weight and fat are two different things and I will clarify that in a second.  But we are trying to reduce body fat, and we have a goal weight and body fat percentage.  So let’s say that I am embarking on that program and my goal body weight is 120 pounds.  My budget for protein is: feed the body I want to have.  Okay?


Hydrate the body you are presently in, feed the body you want to have; that’s the formula that we put together.


So if you are an athlete—a strength training athlete, a resistance training athlete—or if you are coming back into athletic circles after a period of time of coming out, your protein needs may actually be even higher than that.  Here is the thing about protein though: if you haven’t really being paying attention to that, and you are going to start, don’t go to 1½ tomorrow.  Because you are going to have some intestinal challenges with that.


When we make changes in our nutrition program, we have to give our body time to acclimate to those changes.  Because here is what happens: in your digestive tract, if you eliminate a food group, or you are grossly underfeeding a particular nutrient group, and then you slam it with a big presence of that nutrient, you don’t have the digestive enzymes to move that through that quickly.  And you are going to end up with irritable bowel issues: either constipation or gas or diarrhea or something—usually it’s on the constipation side.  So if we going to make changes in our nutrient profile, we have to do it gradually.  And we have to make sure we do get that hydration really, really appropriate.  Okay, that one [hydration], you can ramp up pretty quickly.


Carbohydrates.  It just freaks people out when I say this, but your carbohydrate budget is three times your ideal weight.  So if my ideal weight is 120, my carbohydrate gram budget is three times that, so it will be 360 grams of carbohydrate, okay.  So that just freaks people out.  But if you do it from mostly vegetables, you add in some fruits, and you have a couple of servings of healthy grains, you can easily get that without any concerns about too much.  You know, I am not saying eat Twizzlers and Snickers bars; I am just saying that’s your budget, right?


And here is the really hard one: your fat budget, and this should mostly come from healthy fat, is one quarter of your ideal body weight.  And I challenge you, if you are a numbers/data kind of person and you want to play with these, attack the fat one first, and see how easy it is to over-achieve that budget.  That is a really hard one.


So we want our fats to come from, and I am going to talk a little bit more about fat in a second.  Our healthy fats are what kinds of foods?  Almonds, avocados, olives, oils, nuts, seeds, those kind of things.  And we’ll talk about the differences in fats and why in just a moment.


Any questions?  Or do we want to debate or talk about any of that?  Is that pretty straight forward?  Is that pretty okay?  All right.


So it is not really hard to figure out what you need, it is just, this is a customized formula; this is for each person individually.  I encourage you if you work with kids, if you are coaching kids—I know this is about Masters and yourselves—but if you are also out there coaching kids, let’s not get them all focused on numbers, alright.  Let’s get them drinking their fluids, and we will go through how to balance-out their meals a little bit.  Educate them of what food sources will provide them protein, carbs and fats on a healthy platform.  And let’s not obsess about numbers until, you know, until they get to be pros or they get to be crazy—which, you know, that happens pretty quickly.


Here is a logical, simple way to do what I just said.  So if we are looking at what should our plate look like, the size of your fist or the size of your hand, flat, is what we should use as a monitor for our protein.  So if you are having a chicken breast, a fish fillet, something like that, it’s the size of your hand, flat out; if you are having a steak—like a fish steak or something like that—it’s the size of your fist.  And so if I were holding my fist next Shaquille O’Neal’s fist, his fist would be the appropriate amount of protein for him.


So it is easy when we teach people that, that they don’t have to know: I need 2.5 times, the regular serving of protein is 7 grams per 3 ounces.  You know, don’t worry about that; look at your fist.  Your plate should be: 1 fist protein, 2 fists vegetables or vegetables and carbs.  So how big should a sweet potato be that you are eating?  That big.  (Shaquille’s should be like that big.  You know, Gary Coleman’s will be like that big.)


And so here’s a thing too: a lot of times I get to work with parents and they are like oh my kids aren’t eating.  I’m like your kid is that big, they are eating plenty, you know.  Their stomach is like this big, relax will you.  Just, you know, expose them to food and let them go, and don’t give them Twizzlers after dinner.  But for sure, their fist is like that big; just let them eat that much food.  When they are ready to grow, their fist will grow and their plate will grow.  Kids are… until we spoil them and we make them crazy, they are fine: they self-monitor, so let them go.


Alright, let’s look at… most people want to know a little bit more about the macronutrients.  So carbohydrates, what do they do in the human body?  They are our main source of fuel.  Every cell in your body runs on carbohydrate.  If you don’t feed it carbohydrate, it is going to make its own.  Anyone knows how it does that?


[audience member]:  Fat cells?


[Giese]:  That will be great; it would be super great if it just would go to all of our fat cells, right?  And it does, in some instances—it does.  But there are a whole bunch of cells in our body, they are called non-insulin-dependent cells, and they cannot fuel off of broken down fat.  They have to fuel… because of an element a little sort of chemical process that happens, they can only be fed carbohydrates from food or they will break down muscle tissue.  So muscle tissue becomes a back-up source for carbohydrates, if we don’t feed our cells enough.  So it is a really bad idea to take carbohydrates out of our diet.


What foods provide carbohydrates in our diet?  Does anyone know?  (And I don’t mean diet like diet—like the bad four letter word diet—I mean just nutrition plan, alright. I’ll try not to slip with that.)  What foods provide carbohydrates?  Rice, vegetables, fruits, grains—all grains like oatmeal.  How about Pop-Tarts?  Yup, absolutely.  Candy, ice cream, pizza, pasta.  So we get carbohydrates from a whole bunch of different places.  Anything that has sugar, anything that has grain.  How about dairy products?  Carbohydrates from what?  Lactose, the sugar in dairy products, yes.


One of the big misnomers about dairy, and I have a particular passion about dairy, there is a lot of sugar in dairy products.  And it’s naturally occurring sugar, the sugar in milk products.  So we have to really be aware of that; we have to be cautious of that.  A lot of people say I’m taking my dairy products for my protein.  If you really analyze a label of a dairy product, what you are mostly getting is saturated fat and lactose/sugar.  The amount of protein, comparatively, in the total of total calories, particularly full-fat products, is not our best choice.


And what I have experienced over the years in coaching people and doing analysis and so forth, if we experimentally take dairy out of the diet for a period of time, people experience in-general—just general, not everybody—they experience a lot less intestinal distress, okay.  There is a theory in some nutrition education communities—and you can buy into it or not, I am just sort of throwing it out there for you—that baby cows should drink milk until they are old enough to eat grass and do what baby cows do when they grow up.  And human beings should drink breast milk if they are able to and then move on to real food.


So I don’t know how you feel about that or not.  I will say from a nutrition-education standpoint: dairy products are the most prevalent source of calcium in the human diet.  So if we are going to remove those from our diet or we going to really watch them, we have to find an alternative source of calcium.  That’s really important.  Because calcium is a contraction mineral; it is responsible for the contraction of your heart and it is responsible for the contraction, or part of the contraction, of all of your muscles.


So a lot of times, people go like oh, I am getting cramps, and we always go oh sodium, oh potassiumOh calcium is a lot of time what’s going to cure that problem.  Is that we removed so much dairy, we have removed so much calcium, from our diet that we are experiencing problems with muscles contractions and we have to look for a source of calcium.  And I do think—and we will talk about this way at the end of the program—I do think it is okay to supplement with a calcium supplement; I just want to give you some information about how to evaluate your choices there—when we get to that, okay?


Alright, so carbohydrates must be present; the body will make its own.  It is best if we fuel frequently.  So I am going to talk about every three hours; why it is appropriate that we might fuel every three hours.


The best sources of carbohydrates are the ones (if you don’t mind me saying this) that God created.  Your fruits, your vegetables, your nuts… not your nuts and seeds—those are more fats.  But your fruits, your vegetables.  Like your rice-based grains, your oatmeals—those kind of things.  Well I am not anti-bread or pro-bread, you know, you can’t just go out in a field and pick a loaf of bread; it has to go through some processing.  The same with pasta.  You can look at a bowl of rice, and it kind of, sort of looks like that in the field if you just strip off the top of the grain.


So, as you visually look at carbohydrate sources, the more they look like how they did when they came into harvest, I think, we are a lot better off.  They are more naturally put-together that way. Okay?


Alright: protein sources.  Protein’s primary function, it is in this world for cellular growth and repair.  If it has to, it will become a carbohydrate source.  But in order to do that, it carries an extra nutrient on it called nitrogen.  And in order for a protein to become carbohydrate, the nitrogen gets booted out, binds together in something called N-3, which is ammonia chemically [NH3], and as ammonia exits the body, it has to grab hold of some calcium.


So here is what we see in exercise physiology research—it crosses-over into the nutrition boundaries.  People who do a lot, a lot, a lot of high-protein, no-carbohydrate eating, end up—even young men, men in their 20s and 30s, 30x particularly—if they eat that way for extended periods of time, they show early signs of osteoporosis.  Which is unheard of, if someone is doing resistance training and eating appropriately.  So resistance training their definitely doing; eating appropriately, not so much.  So we want to make sure we eat enough protein, but if we only eat protein at the expense of carbohydrates, we are going to create some problems in our body.  Okay?


So, that’s kind of the deal with protein.


I do want to show you this because this is I thought really a fun and interesting slide—that I got at a nutrition workshop I went to in Texas not too long ago.  A lot of people have questions about well what kind of protein?  Or they have a belief that I am just going to take-away, or I am just going to take… you know, no soy because I don’t want to grow breasts and have estrogen problems, as a man, or whatever.  So this is the science that was presented to me.


There are speeds of absorption of proteins. (And I don’t know if this is of interest to you or not, but I will go through it and if you have questions, happy to try to answer them for you.)

  • Free amino acids, is sometimes called branch-chain amino acids, they will go into your systems very, very quickly. They are absorbed and used very quickly.
  • Hydrolysates and peptides are another form of sort of pre-digested or broken-down proteins, and those are the second-fastest to be absorbed. And what I see in sports performance and conditioning—strength conditioning and so forth—a lot of athletes are looking specifically on labels for hydrolysates, because they know that they get back into their body very quickly.
  • A third kind is just a pure whey protein, okay. And that is the third fastest in absorption.
  • Then soy is an intermediate.
  • And casein is slow speed.


And so if we are looking for sources of protein that are external to our natural sources, so supplements—and we will talk about that in a second—but it is best to find a blend of proteins.  Because here is what you can’t do, ask yourself this question: exactly when is your tissue that was damaged being repaired?  How do you know that?  Right?  So I go to the gym, I do my Cross Fit workout—let’s say.  You know, 30 minutes after that, some tissue is starting to repair; an hour after that, some other tissue is starting to repair; then five hours later….


If you’ve strength-trained in your life, you know this feeling that’s called DOMS: delayed-onset muscles soreness.  You are good; you wake-up the next morning, oh I feel great; in my workout that afternoon you are like, holy mother of God, what was that truck that ran me over?  Right?  So it’s like 24-36 hours later your muscles are sore, and that’s just the residual effect of your strength training.  So what if you took in a great protein source an hour or so after your workout, and in the course of your meals following—that next day and that next afternoon—you were kind of little negligent on your protein sources or just ate one source; you may not have the amino acids available in your system to repair that tissue.


So if we eat a good-blend of food based proteins—we eat some soy, we eat some casein, we eat some turkey and fish and whatever—we are going to get a nice natural blend from all those food sources.  If you are looking for products to help you out with that, absolutely a blend of products.


And a lot of people, and I am one of them.  I have been a vegetarian my whole life—even as a little kid I was just would not eat meat and I don’t even know why.  (I do know now; I mean, I would make the decision now.  But I don’t know, when you are 3, how do you make that decision?)  So protein has been a struggle for me.  So understanding this was very helpful for me in my own sports performance training.


Because what we do, whenever we are working out, is break things down—that’s all we do.  When you are in the gym, when you are on the road, when you are in the pool, when you are doing your land training, all of that, you are only breaking down.  There is nothing being built in a workout.  The only time you build is when you replace, with your fuel sources.  The fuel, the tools that you put into your body is what rebuilds your body.  You tear-down while you work it out.


So this bottom slide kind of gives you the rate of absorptions of those same different kind of proteins.  And it shows you that (it was a dotted line when I took the picture) the fastest rate of absorption is the blended proteins, and that is just based on a bioavailability study—blood testing with athletes done at the University of Connecticut with a doctor named Bill Kraemer.  Okay.  So I just thought that was kind of a fun side for athletes, and, you know, you are all athletes, whether you want to be or not, today you are.


Oh: let’s go back to fats for one second.  Fat is a misunderstood nutrient, so I want a spend a couple of minutes on that.  And if you have questions or if you have a different view point, throw it out at me, I am happy to talk to you about it.  So, this probably isn’t a good thing to say while you all are on vacation here, but I just have to put it out there so I can put my head on the pillow peacefully tonight.


Remember that alcohol, sugar, and saturated fat are virtually triplets in the digestive eye of the body. Which means this: your body digests alcohol and sugar almost exactly the same as it does the saturated fat.  Okay?   So when you are drinking your, you know, Guinness or your wine or whatever, eating your ice cream, just understand that that is just like eating a fat.  Because the way your body processes it is directly through your liver and it gets stored in triglycerides, which is blood fat.  It is very, very difficult for those elements to be used as energy sources.  It is possible, but it is very difficult; and it is not your body’s natural route that it takes.


Alright, so fat and the inflammation, this is important… oh, question.  Yes?


[audience member]:  Time for recovery drinks?


[Giese]:  It doesn’t matter.  The question is: we are being told in athletic performance that within thirty minutes, we need to uptake a certain amount of nutrition back into our system to recover the most quickly and that is absolutely true.  What we need is a 3-to-1 blend of carbohydrates to protein.  That is for this reason: because when we are done with a workout, our glycogen stores—which is our available carbohydrate for energy—is depleted.  And glycogen best gets back into your body to restore your energy levels and loads within 30 minutes, if you have a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein.


So almost all of your engineered recovery products you are going to have that blend, either 3- or 4-to-1.  But the science really says 3:1 is the recovery ratio.  You can do that with food; it is hard to get it exactly optimally.  And a lot of the really good quality supplement products will have a predigested protein in that blend, so that the protein gets right back into your system immediately.  It means though, that helps the recovery start immediately, so you don’t lose that thirty-minute window of replacing glycogen.


Because if you wait too long, then your body starts to go after your muscle tissue for residual energy.  So we want to get your energy sources back so we can draw on those right away again.  Otherwise, if you are out of physical energy and you don’t eat after a workout, your body is going to start stripping down muscle tissue for some of its energy.  That’s why that thirty-minute window is really critical in getting some nutrients back.  It doesn’t have to be an enormous meal, and a lot of times a recovery drink is perfect.  It is easy to get in, and your stomach can take it, especially if you’ve had a hard workout or a race, or a competition, a meet or something like that.




[audience member]:  I read that beer actually has that good ratio.  Have you heard that?


[Giese]:  No, I haven’t heard that.  (Scott, did you put that slide in about beer being a recovery drink?  Was that you?  No: I am just kidding.)  Actually, there is very little protein… there is a little protein in beer, because it’s a grain.  When we put alcohol right back-in our system after we are already depleted and dehydrated, we are going to actually do a lot more cellular damage.  If we are going to have alcohol in celebration of the completion of an event, my suggestion is: get that thirty-minute window taken of in recovery, get a decent meal in yourself, and then, you know, whatever.


It’s just such a struggle for me.  People are like well should I drink before or after?  I am like well never, but, you know, that’s my recommendation.  And I am just talking from cell’s mind, you know, from the mind of your cell like: I don’t want it before because it’s going to dehydrate me going into my event; I don’t want it after because now I am damaged, dehydrated and inflamed, so I need recovery.  So when should you drink?  I don’t know, like Christmas?  Never?  I don’t know, you know.


But that’s a great question.  It’s a myth.




[audience member]:  It seems like recently the hip thing is chocolate milk to drink.  And even a lot of the NCAA programs are giving their athletes chocolate milk when they’re done working-out.  Is that just an inexpensive way for them to do that or is it good combination of 3:1?


[Giese]:  Yeah.  There is a registered dietitian who is very, very famous in sports performance nutrition: her name is Nancy Clark and she is in Massachusetts.  And forever she has been writing for Runners World and some of the different publications that address athletes at all different levels.  And she was one of the first ones to say you know: just drink chocolate milk.


To me the problem with chocolate milk is it’s only one kind of protein.  So we are only getting the kind of protein that you are going to find in milk products.  So we are not getting that nice little blend that kind of sprinkles in there.  We do get some sugar in chocolate milk, because there is added sugar from the chocolate; and so that will satisfy that carbohydrate need.  So when you put the amount of protein in chocolate milk together with the carbohydrate need, you do get that.


I don’t think it’s the optimum blend.  And we almost always get either a low-fat or a full-fat chocolate milk; it’s really hard to find a skimmed chocolate milk.  And the fat is going to actually further aggregate and cause more inflammation; the fat that’s in dairy product.  And for a lot of people—and I don’t know, each of us is a probably little different—it causes a lot of people some intestinal distress.  And I don’t know about you guys, but at the end of a like a really-hard competition, I am already in some intestinal distress.  So the last thing I want to do is add anything more.  If I can do something that’s just mixed with water it’s a lot easier on the body.


But there is validity in the science behind that, I will say.  You get a few extra little additives; it is probably not the very best blend of protein.  But to go cheap and real food, you know I would support that thought, yeah.




[audience member]:  Just a comment: at least all the studies I read on that, put chocolate milk up against something like Gatorade, which doesn’t have a protein component to it.  Which goes back to what you were saying earlier.


[Giese]:  Yeah, you are going to find… Gatorade is not a recovery product; it is a rehydration product.  You can get some electrolytes and some fluid back in; you get a lot sugar, you get a lot of dyes—I am not a big Gatorade fan.  But a post-workout recovery drink that is specifically designed for that.  You know, there are a bunch of different companies out there that make post-recovery.  The company I use is called AdvoCare, and they use a post-workout, recovery formula. and it has exactly that 3:1 blend; it just mixes with water.


But, yeah, Gatorade would be what most people would go after for hydration.  It only has two of our four electrolytes, in my opinion, a little too much sugar, and you know those funky colors are not from like fruits and vegetables—just so you know.  But, you know, it’s popular.


Okay those were great questions.  Any other questions?


[audience member]:  On milk: 2% milk is 37% fat?


[Giese]:  2% milk is 37% fat, yeah.  If you guys don’t know—we are not going to have time to go into this today—the labels on meat and dairy product are governed by a whole different agency in the United States Government.  They are governed by the USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] where everything else is governed by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration, an agency of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services].  So when you look at something like 1% milk or 1% dairy product, 2%, or you look at beef that’s 93% lean; understand and do-the-math out on the calories.  Because we are not comparing apples-to-apples when we are looking at percent.


When ground beef, for example, is made, the scraps of the different components of the meat that a butcher cuts steaks out of it and whatever—and lot of it is precut these days but they still do some trimming and whatever—they put the fat in one vile and they put the scraps in another.  And if they are grinding the meat there, they grind the meat in this grinder thing, and then they add the fat scraps until the percentage comes out to whatever the percentage is that you are buying.  So it’s done by volume not calorie content.


And volume has no meaning to us, as we are looking at nutritional value.  It is just sort of a work-around so that it appears to be only 7% fat.  93% lean ground beef is somewhere in the area of like 47% fat by calories.  So if someone thinks they are eating lean ground beef and it’s only 7% fat contributing to their diet, they are absolutely misled.  And those are the rules of the government and I am just being the messenger.


[audience member]:  Is it 7% of that vile, not of the meat, itself.


[Giese]:  Right, exactly.


And so when you start looking at dairy products, milk would be different than cheese in the percentage.  So if you are looking at 2% cheese, many times 2% cheese is in the 60% fat by calorie range; it is by no means a low-fat product.  You have to do the calories out.  So 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate, 4 calories per gram of protein, 9 calories per gram of fat; and you do out the math—it’s simple division.  And you can figure out what really percentage-by-calorie total products are, and that is pretty interesting.


Other question?  Yes?


[audience member]:  Going back to recovery, does the workout intensity effect recovery?


[Giese]:  That’s a really good question.  Intensity of workout puts higher demands on your recovery needs for sure.  I mean here is what I tell, or I suggest to, people at the gym: if you are talking on your cellphone while you are walking on the treadmill, you don’t deserve a recovery snack.  You know, you are pretty good.  I mean intensity is important.


And with kids, for the most part, they give you their heart and soul.  If they don’t then they probably have a poor nutrition plan going in, something is wrong.  If a kid comes in without energy and enthusiasm, something is wrong in their system that they are not given or if something is wrong at home that they are emotionally tied down with that.  Kids will love… and if we give them praise and you give them encouragement, they just love that.  That’s exactly what they eat off of.


I will tell you what: adult athletes are the same way.  It just takes… you have to peel down an extra layer with them.  And their body, internally, are a little bit more damaged, because they have gone through a little bit more of life.


But intensity of workout… I mean any kind of physical expenditure is expending calories for sure.  I think the best way to combat that issue is through education.  And this is one of the things Scott and I have talked a lot about, and this is why I just love being able to come out here and talk to you guys.  And I would love to be able to come out and talk to anybody’s kids program, anybody’s soccer program, anybody’s swim program, whatever.  Because if we can just educate and not criticize; people who are not doing it….


But there is so much emotion attached to feeding people and so forth.  Oh, you did a good job, let’s praise you, let’s reward you with food.  If I can you give one piece of coaching, if you are parents or grandparents, please take food out of the reward and punishment equation.  And please take activity, deprivation or addition out of the reward and punishment.  Find a currency that is maybe electronics or something else with your kids.


And the same with your swimmers: if you are bringing food to reward them, I think that’s a bad idea.  We want to teach them that food is the fuel that fires their engine and it also is the fuel that brings their body back into a state of performance, as an athlete.  And if you keep telling your kids they are athletes, and you tell them what that means and what that means from a choice perspective—from choosing their workouts, to choosing their sleep patterns, to choosing their fuel and their hydration—you are much more likely to get them to buy-in because they have in their heads some kind of a perception of what is an athlete.  And if we can feed that belief—and it’s hopefully not like A-Rod or something, you know it’s somebody with some integrity and character.  We feed-into that belief and we teach them food is your fuel that is what gets you to the next level, in your academics, in your sports performance and all of that.  But it does start with us being on that proactive train.  So that’s a really good question and really good point.


Okay, great questions guys.  Let’s just quickly, quickly look at fats. Because I don’t want run out of time; there’s a couple of things that I want to get to with you.


Saturated- and trans-fat, are we familiar with those terms?  Saturated-fast is the fat our body makes cholesterol out of.  Transfat is sort of like this synthetic fat.  If you take a vial of oil and you add to it some extra hydrogen, you will create what looks like Crisco—just a big glob of weight gunk.  That’s what transfats are.  And they have been added, in the United States mostly, into our food sources for preservation and shelf-life.  And they do add sort of a richness, I guess, palatability wise.  But the reason that Twinkies now have like a 42-year shelf-life is because there is more transfat in it than ever before.  So those are the fats that we are calling aggregating and inflammatory, and we are going to look at a slide for that.


Unsaturated fats, particularly Omega-3 fatty acids, are extremely important to include intentionally in our nutrition program.  Okay.  And I also talked about calcium being an important mineral that we get and we might have to supplement; I believe that we probably can’t enough Omega-3s from our natural food sources.  You would have to eat probably a lot of calories in salmon and the right kinds of nuts, in order to do that; and that might blow your calorie budget.  So we will take a look at that.


But there is a clear difference: you must have fat in your diet.  The condition of health in your brain cells and in all of your cells that have to do with the development of your skin, hair, nails and a lot of your hormones, but your brain cells particularly will suffer tremendously.  So we just intentionally have to put the right fats in our diet.


This slide just illustrates, these are both called unsaturated fats: Omega-6 is linoleic and Omega-3 is alpha-linolenic [or “α-Linolenic”].  These are our sources.  When sources come from plants they are awesome; when sources come from animal products, they come from what we call series-2 prostaglandins and they are more inflammatory and aggregating.  So we cannot across the board just say take Omega-6 fatty acid supplements.  We in-fact probably don’t ever need Omega-6 fatty acid supplements.  But when we are looking at Omega-3s it is really hard to eat enough of those right foods.


When we get the right Omega-3 blend in our diet though, we find a natural source to combat inflammation and aggregation.  Aggregation meaning the contribution of the stickiness to your platelets.  So if we have an aggregating formula, we eat a lot of unhealthy fats, our tendency to build up masses along our arterial walls is greatly accelerated.  So our risk of cardiac issues gets really greatly increased if we eat a lot of inflammatory foods.  If we eat some less-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory foods, we are actually able to reverse some of that.  Through our natural diet and maybe through some supplementation.


So to give you a visual: if we get Omega-3 right, it’s kind of like always having Advil without the stomach irritation in our body—it combats your inflammation.  So if you kind of make that equation (I mean it’s not exactly the same, but it has that effect).


And again, not to harp on the sugar and alcohol thing but I am going to—these are really important.  Alcohol, sugar and the wrong kind of fat are hugely inflammatory.  When people tell me I have knee issues, I have fibromyalgia, I can’t seem to recover, I have intestinal discomfort, I am bloated whatever, whatever; the first three things I look at is: alcohol in their diet, sugar in their diet and what kinds of fat are they taking in.  Because if we can get those to a different formula, we are going to take care a lot of those problems.  Just right out of the bat, the few different food choices and maybe some better hydration strategies.


The other part of inflammation, and one of the things that a youthful metabolism is very, very good at, is keeping inflammation down.  (Oh, sorry, that’s the wrong slide; it is the next one.)


The things that we do physically that contribute to inflammation are all of our workouts.   We always aggravate and destroy tissue when we are working out.  That is the intention of working out and it is okay, but we have to know how to combat it nutritionally.  Anytime we are injured.  If we have the cold, flu, virus, any kind of disease—cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, irritable bowel, acid reflux—you go through all the disease process, all the illnesses we have, they are all housed in inflammation, they all begin with inflammation in the body.  If we can combat internal inflammation through our food sources, we will essentially start to eliminate and greatly limit our disease processes and our illnesses.


And stress.  If you are in a situation in your life where you are constantly in turmoil, your body is constantly releasing cortisol, which is a fat storage hormone.  It is constantly putting your body in a state of inflammation and it constantly slowing-down your metabolism and asking your body to store more body fat.  So inflammatory processes we have to find strategies to get through that.


So to reduce inflammation:

  • Appropriate hydration. The #1 factor in being appropriately hydrated is your cellular composition.  If you have more muscle tissue than body fat, you will be a better hydrated person just because of your body composition.  So a lot of times we see people and they drink water, water, water—they are a great water drinker—but they have too much body fat, their body is unable to assimilate that.  If you think about a vial of oil, if you put water on top of it, it will not penetrate that fat, right?  If you think a muscle tissue, muscle tissue is very absorbent and very hydrous; there is a lot of space in the muscle cell or a muscle tissue for hydration.  That’s why athletes very easily start their cooling mechanism; they are able to sweat very easily.  They need more hydration; their hydration needs are higher.  And people who are really, really over-fat—they are holding too much body fat—they are unable to keep the hydration in them that they need.
  • Inflammatory foods: we want to minimize those.
  • We want to get the proper amount of sleep. During REM sleep—that’s your deep sleep—is when you regenerate tissue at the highest rate.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, we talked about.
  • Circulation, just daily movement, will keep inflammation down. And that means even when we are recovering from a big event or we are injured or whatever, if we can get… and you are in the perfect sport for it: the pool is the best place to encourage circulation in the event that someone is ill or injured.  Because we will get circulation going, we will move inflammation out, we will move nutrients in.
  • And having a stress management strategy, like yoga or tai chi or something like that. Where you learn to breath all the way into the depths of your body’s ability to hold oxygen.  Super, super important.


Here’s what a typical day should look like for most of us.  And whether you are an athlete or you are a kid or whatever, this is the three-hour rule: if we eat every three hours, we are constantly sending a signal to our body that to keep your metabolism running—keep your furnace running.  So when I do a profile for people, we go back to the one-fist two-fist rule, that we looked at earlier, and we look at our particular specific needs if you are a data person.


But this is what a meal structure should look like every day.  So how many people want to tell me that they never eat breakfast?  Good for you guys.  (If you’re just lying to me, that’s okay, I don’t mind.)  If you don’t start your day with breakfast, you have gone… I don’t know how many hours—if you are lucky 8, if you are me you know 4 or whatever.  But during all that time, you have had no fluid and you have had no food.  And there is some number of hours probably before that, that you stopped eating.


So when you wake up in the morning, if the first thing you do is grab a cup of coffee and hit the road, you are putting a further-dehydrating, single product, with no nutrition—for the most part—into your body.  You have not had any fluid for however-many hours or any fuel, and your body is already starting to break down its own tissue—its own muscle tissue.  You are already damaged at the cellular level, because you don’t have any hydration in there, and it might be noontime before some of you get your first meal or snack.  So be really, really mindful.


If you are concerned about preserving your body and keeping your lean tissue really strong, the first thing you have to do is put a good amount of protein and a good amount of fluid into your system.  Statistically speaking, children that go to school, there are something like 87% of them are dehydrated.  And that’s because they wake up, they are late, they get rushed out of the door, they are given a couple of bucks to eat whatever at school and off they go.  If we could put between 8-16 oz. of water in them and give them an apple, their academic performance will increase by something like 60%.  Just for those two things.


So if you are a teacher—and some of you that are coaches I know you are, and I don’t know what your flexibility is, I don’t know what the rules of the school systems and so forth are—but work on that.  Because kids are loud at home and they will make fuss until they get what they want, right—you all know that.  So if you can just teach them to make sure that they get some fluid and a piece of fruit on the way out of the door, that will be great.


Now talking about athletes, talking about you guys, whatever: proteins are the most thing you get in the morning.  And that is like 20-25 grams of protein, depending on your body weight and your budget.  So fluid and protein really important.




[audience member]:  Do you have any suggestions for athletes that always say I can’t stomach anything before morning practice?


[Giese]:  End practices super early.   Yeah.  That’s where we have to always… the morning workout is always the challenge.  I think some kind of fluid calories are the best.  We talked about those recovery shakes, those are mostly carbohydrate and a little bit of protein; if we can get a little bit of something like that into them.  Or if they just have you know a banana, or if they will just have a couple of bites of oatmeal, or if you find some kind of a really well-made nutrition bar that has mostly carbohydrates.  They don’t need protein in their system so much if they are going to go right-in and workout, but they do need carbohydrate because that’s going to generate energy.  They need their protein afterwards.


Protein is going to put demands on the digestive system, to break it down.  And when they are out doing physical work, demands are also being put on their cellular structure.  So if you are trying to do physical work and you got a belly even semi-full of food, your belly loses and your outer body wins all the time and that causes intestinal distress.


[audience]:  Would you say something like those little gels are enough?


[Giese]:  They are like a hundred calories, and so you know those will give them both electrolytes so that at the cellular level they are firing and performing.  And it will at least put 100 calories into their system.  They will probably burn a little bit more than that and they will end-up being in an upside-down situation, but they won’t get the stomach distress.  So I think those are a fair…. A lot of runners that I work with, they will get up and they will have a gel and some water and just go.


The other thing is that if we can get them to eat a snack right before they go bed, a protein-based snack with maybe a little bit of vegetables, that will give them some stuff still circulating in their blood stream and their glycogen storage will be semi-full in the morning.  That’s kind of a best solution for early-morning people, is right before bed have a protein-based snack.  Like maybe just have a turkey roll-up, or something like that, if they are going to get-up and exercise in the morning.


[inaudible question on GERD]


[Giese]:  Certain foods are going to cause some digestive reaction with some people, and so fluid calories are usually the best solution for that.  You know some people can eat a banana, some people can’t; some people eat oatmeal, some people can’t.  But it’s important that everybody figures it out.


And I will tell you this for sure—working with triathletes and working with iron-distance triathletes, especially—you have to practice being able to eat and perform.  And when you are able to do that… it is a learned thing.   You know, people are like oh, I can’t go to Zumba on a full stomach.  I’m like: you need to practice.  Because you know not that Zumba isn’t stressful.  We need to work on getting that food in there and getting it going.  And that little transition will definitely happen.


Is anyone eating six meals, pretty good?  And I don’t mean thanksgiving meals; I mean just… little eating events.  Here is the thing: the leanest people that I work with are eating six and more little mini meals.  They are eating all day long, are grazing animals.  Right?  The people who struggle most with stored body fat are eating less than three meals a day, in general.  And most of their calories come when?  At night (exactly).  And so when we wait too long to get hungry, we are in big trouble: we start eating things and drinking things that we really shouldn’t.  Right?


(I’m out of time.  I always talk too much, I am sure.)  Okay one last thing and I will leave you with just these couple last thoughts.


Do you need as Masters athletes more or less?  Here is the thing you need to know about as an aging athlete.  And aging I mean anyone over 30—sorry.  We either need more time or we need better nutrition.  You can do more.  You will see Masters athletes improve in their sport from over their 20s and over their 30s.   You will see Masters athletes coming in, in overall competitions in the top-3 or -4 places in their 40s and sometimes up to 50s.  However, if we don’t upgrade our nutrition… naturally, your body needs more time.  So if you can’t give it more time, you’ve got to give it better nutrition.


So that’s where I think that we probably have to look at supplementation.  Because I don’t think we can eat enough, often enough, enough calories, to get everything we need and two a day workouts and do the intensity that sometimes you have to do when you are performing in a training or an athletic program.  If you are a recreational athlete, and you know that’s what you are, that’s great; you probably can do most of your calorie needs from your food.


Here are the things that I think you should think about:

  • I think that we need to look at intestinal health and probiotics. I don’t think we have enough for that.
  • I think that we need to look at a multivitamin.
  • I think we need to look at an Omega vitamin, Omega-3 fatty acid.
  • And I think that we all need to look at calcium.

I think those four things are critically important, when we are looking at supplementing our nutrition.


[audience member]:  Can you expand on that?


[Giese]:  Yeah sure.  Probiotics, because your intestinal health… your intestine is where everything happens.  Your immune system is in there and your absorption and your efficiencies are recognized in there.  If your intestinal tract is blocked—it’s not working, you are not having regular bowel movements—or if you have just had life happen to you—synthetic sweeteners, preservatives in food, too much alcohol, stress factors—can all prevent our absorption tract, which is our intestinal tract, from taking in nutrition.  That is the place where you absorb and recognize all your nutrition.


So when people have been on diets their whole life and they are like Oh my diet is not working anymore whatever, whatever; it is because their metabolism has slowed down so much and their intestinal tract is compromised so much that they cannot uptake the nutrition that’s going through there.  So their body is not recognizing the calories; it is storing more, it’s slowing down.  And the nutrition that’s going in, their vitamins and their minerals as well as their calories, are not being recognized.


So your intestines are the key to all of your nutrition absorption and all of your functionality.  If you ever take a broad-spectrum antibiotic—because you have an infection, you have a cold, you have some kind of a bacteria in your system—that broad-spectrum antibiotic is not just going to kill the infection bacteria.  It’s going to kill all of it, including your intestinal bacteria.  And you are supposed to have that; you need that to maximize your nutrition absorption.  So probiotics restore that, they put that back in.


Okay so probiotic, calcium, multivitamin and Omegas.  I think it’s very difficult to get through life without those four things.




[audience member]:  Are you talking about for Masters athletes specifically, or are you talking about for…?


[Giese]:  That’s just general human nutrition; yeah that’s pretty much everybody.  Even kids, because they are exposed now earlier to McDonald’s and you know things that just have preservatives and gunk-up their intestines.


Here’s how you can tell with your children and with your athletes—if you have a relationship with them that you talk about things like this.  If they are moving waste really well, then their intestinal tract is probably okay; if they are not, they are not.  And that means, you know, if they have had bouts where they really have bad diarrhea or that kind of stuff, or they just go long periods of time without having a regular bowel movement, there is a problem.  And if stuff is not moving out on a daily basis, then they are not absorbing nutrition, because there is a blockage in the system.


And kind of factor that in for yourself.  If you any of you work with women—I work with a lot of women—that is a very common problem and they are not always that willing to talk about it.  Until you ask them, and then they will tell you everything.  If you are runner, we talk about that all the time—that’s all we talk about when we run.


So remember a couple of things:

  • your intestinal tract,
  • eating every three hours,
  • we need as much muscle tissue as we possibly can get,
  • activity is hugely important
  • and when our hormones are functioning well—and that is our hormones that tell us absorb nutrition, tell us that we are metabolically faster, tell us we are metabolically younger—then all systems are working really well and your ability to use energy is going to be really, really great.


Does anyone have any other questions.  Yes?


[audience member]:  Gluten and celiac disease?


[Giese]:  There is a couple… yeah that’s a great question.  Gluten sensitivities versus celiac disease.  Gluten is the protein that’s in wheat and some other of our whole grains.  And there are people who have a condition called celiac disease, which is an autoimmune condition.  If you are diagnosed with celiacs—and a simple blood test will tell you that—then you need to stay away from foods with gluten, because they prevent you from absorbing nutrition and things like calcium.  So eventually you will have bone density issues.  And they can cause other problems.  They can cause tremendous malnourishment because of lack of absorption of B vitamins.  So celiac disease is one condition that if you have that, you must adhere to that or you will compromise your health forever.


If you are gluten insensitive, meaning that when you eat gluten-based foods and wheat foods, you get sort of an irritable bowel.  There have been all kinds of… Sports Illustrated had a great article about athletes that are getting away from gluten—Runners World had one.  So if you intentionally want to take gluten out of your diet, you are not going to die, I promise.  You just need to get your complex carbohydrates from: potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, spaghetti, squash, rice, things like that.


And if you are not sure and you want to experiment, just take all the gluten out.  But I will tell you what: read your labels.  Because gluten is in a lot of stuff, like you will find it in soy sauces.  I mean you really… if you want to do it, do it clean, do it real, get your gluten completely out, you can’t go wrong with God’s food, right.  You have your fruits, you have your vegetables, your rice and whatever; but when you get in the grain family watch out because gluten sneaks its way in there.  Anything in a box, anything in a package, anything like that, gluten makes its way in there, okay?


Those are great questions though.


I am going to hang around for a while (because you know I have no life, so I am not doing anything).  So I know if some of you are probably hungry and you have to meet your families and whatever.  I am going to just promote or just share with you.  I do have my business cards up here.  If you want to know my recommendation for supplementation… I know you guys work with a couple of lines, yourselves.  Here is just a couple of things to know about supplementation.


Supplements are not required to be tested before they go out for sale.  I hope you know that.  So when go buy things at the Vitamin Shoppe or GNC or whatever, whatever; be very aware of that, okay.  25% of the things that are sold in some of our big retailers, will cause a positive test for banned substances.  I have on one of the slides—we didn’t get to it and so if you want them I will email them to you—a whole list of companies that the NFL players cannot go to for their supplementation.  And you will see some major retailers that show up on that list.  So be aware of all of the things regarding supplementation.


My opinion is: supplements should be tested before they come back for distribution or sale.  That is my opinion.  I have one particular supplement line that I use personally, I use with all my athletes.  If anyone wants to talk about that, I will let you know.  There are some probably other good ones out there.  But really be cautious of that.  Because if you are influencing children or influencing young athletes, young adult athletes; the NCAA, the Olympic committee [both the IOC and USOC], the World Anti-Doping Association, all have very stringent rules about substances that you put in your body for recovery and sports performance and whatever.


I think that there is an absolute necessity for them, but you have to know your source and you have to really look at the safety.  I think safety and science.  And if you want more information about that I will give it to you.


So thank you a million.  I am sorry I went over, but I appreciate your attention.  And if this is something that you want here, you know I am happy to talk about it and come to your clubs, I will travel the world.  I am always to talk about nutrition.  So have a great night, have a safe rest of your conference.  Thank you guys a million.



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New ASCA members for the week of November 25, 2016

New ASCA members for the week of November 25, 2016

Congratulations to ASCA’s new members from November 19-25, 2016:
• Taylor Hunt – Golden, CO
• Surabhi Jain – Dubai, UAE
• Alex Mikolajewski – Hoffman Estates, IL
• Gabriela Muraca – Vernon Hills, IL


What High School Coaches Need to Know About College Recruiting by David Marsh, SwimMAC Carolina (2013)


I would like to welcome Dave Marsh to the NISCA track.  There is probably nobody better to give this talk than Dave.  He started out as a young club coach and became one of the successful college coaches of all time; where he ran one of the most-efficient, comprehensive, best-prepared recruiting machines in Swimming.  He did just a brilliant job with kids and their families, getting them interested and getting them to Auburn.  And now he has come back as an older coach with different perspective at the club level, who is preparing kids for all levels of collegiate Swimming: I, II, III, NAIA.  And he is doing what all of us do: trying to help our kids find the right match.  And we know that… you know match is one of the vaporous terms, but it is absolutely real.  Kids know when they have a match and we know when they have a match, and when they do it worked perfectly.  And that is what he is starting to do with his kids.  So Dave, thank you for being here.

[Marsh begins]

Thanks George; thank you.  I was up late last night and it was interesting because I was trying to collect my thoughts for the first talk because that was in the big room and that is always intimidating.  And so I was quite intimidated, but trying to deliver something that had some meaning to it.  So it was my goal to do something like that.


But I ended up… for some reason I could not find a pen, but I kind of worked on what in my mind the sport looks like right now.  And you cannot read this, obviously, because it is pink.  But what it has to do with here is the… you know it starts with: recruiting athletes, signing them up, learn-to-swim, junior team.  Goes through: ignition, learn strokes, learn to practice, learn to race.  And then you get 11-14, and 11-14 you kind of lean toward maybe a little bit more of a high-performance track or you are going to kind of go the way of a participation swimmer.  You know, I have a daughter that is high performer and I have one that is a participation.  And so they just kind of find themselves doing that, or a coach inspires them, or they have some moment where they flipped the switch.


And then at 15-17 age, that window of time after that, the high school swimming kind of pulls them then.  You do not have to worry about them stopping then; they get to be connected with the high school team, they feel like they are valued.  They feel like they are generally at least appreciated on their high school campus; they get some recognition, normally, for being an athlete rather than just a floppy swimmer.  And so we have a good thing.  Then it is time for that deep-practice stuff I talked about in the other talk.  That is when, if they want to be good, they need to get into it; they need to get into real intentional and deep, deep practice.  And then obviously learn advanced strategies.


And how it pertains to this is: the college experience is really the centerpiece.  It used to be college was the top of the rung.  This was the biggest thing you did was you swam in college, like when I swam.


Quick background on me: I did not start swimming until I was 15 years-old, when I got cut from the baseball team.  And my first high school swim meet, I was a 1:23 in the 100-yard freestyle in 10th grade, not 9th grade.  So that was my background.  From Miami, Florida.  By my senior year, I won consolation finals in the 500 freestyle in the Florida State meet with a 4:50; so I got better at that.  I was 58 in 100 back.  In the next four years, I went to Indian River for two years and then to Auburn.


And I do not like overlooking junior college Swimming because it was really good for me.  One, I was not a good student.  Two, I thought I was a good swimmer and Indian River was that intermediary step where I still did not realize I was not a good swimmer.  Like I became the best high school swimmer on my team; at Indian River I became one of the best swimmers during that time.  So I kind of never knew I was not really good.  I thought I was really good because I was the best swimmer at my high school and I got my picture in the paper.


Although my picture in the paper is kind of funny.  In high school, they had this great shot of me doing butterfly.  And understand I am in high school.  I am 6’2”-6’3”, about 135 pounds.  I have a big afro, because those were cool—you know Linc [Hayes] had an afro, I had to have an afro, with a pick on it.  I had chipped teeth, because they said, you know, your chipped teeth at part of your character.  I had big, old chipped teeth.  And I had braces on my teeth.  That was me in my senior year.  And I got in the newspaper and I am like doing a butterfly stroke.  I have got a little muscle right here; you know, that one muscle I had, it was showing in the picture.  But underneath it said: Swim outlook poor.  So even then, I did not get it.


But I think the college experience, my pathway, my personal experience of college was a complete and utter personal changer for me.  It was where… through Swimming, but in the window of time especially of junior college and colleges, where I became really the person I am today in so many ways.  So this is a near-and-dear topic.


At the other end of it, you know I coach professional swimmers now.  And the… well I coach a lot of swimmers, but the ones I coach day-in/day-out are older, normally more professional; I have a couple of high school swimmers that are high level that swim with me regularly.  But it is really clear when it comes to that level: it is medal intentions.  Other than that you do not really need to swim; or if you are going to swim, do it for recreational purposes, you do not really need to swim with the group we are forming because it is a very small group.


So college….  And this past year I coached a group for the first time in about 23 years, since I coached Las Vegas Gold back in the late 90s.  It was the first time I worked with high school kids the whole year and walked them through the whole season.  I kind of wanted to build that in at the end of the talk, but I knew I was going to run out of time.  But I just kind of discovered a lot of stuff.


One is that high school kids do not listen very well.  Like you have got to say it over and over and over again; like, it took five or six times.  Say, wait a minute, you think what I told you yesterday wasn’t the truth?  Like you need to do that same thing I told you yesterday; why am I having to say it again today?  The pros are a little bit better at doing that, or they blow you off and then you just do not bother with the pros.  You know if they are not going to listen, you just kind of go, Okay, well I’ll bring it up some other time, not going to….  But high school kids: no, you know you have to change this.  This is what we are doing, and change it.


And the other thing is that we did not do very much.  My intention, my plan, was to do about 55,000 a week.  Most weeks we got 25,000-30,000 in because I just could not watch them doing so many bad things.  I could not watch them… we started sets over again; I would adjust sets to make them smaller so that they did not lose their strokes after a short distance.  And so it was interesting.


And what pertains this was helping seven people with the college process.  I had not done that kind of walk-them-all-the-way-through with their parents until this year.  And part of why, when I was asked what I wanted to talk about, I said, “You know what I think a lot of club coaches do not really know the…” (what word do I use, I am being taped right now) “the sham sometimes college recruiting is.”


So college recruiting is sales, right?  So college recruiting is: I am going to try to get you to come to my school for as little money as I have to pay for the most quality I can get.  That is it.  That is a good formula, and if you are going a good college coach you operate that way—that is how you do it and you will have a chance of doing great things.  No doubt, the formula at Auburn that really worked well was if I could get a really-good swimmer to come on a smaller scholarship, it was gold.  If I could get a really-good one to walk on or, like Bill, come for books and go from a coming in from books to be in a world champion, it worked out really well.  And so we built our program on guys like Bill that came in and made massive improvement during their window of time it at Auburn those days.


But I will go through some of thinking I had when I was going through it with these guys, the college recruiting process.  And I am not telling you anything about SAT scores or that kind of stuff; I am just kind of relearning that right now because I have a senior son in high school.  But he is not looking… maybe he will run Cross Country in college, but he is not a swimmer for sure.  He is actually getting more college mail than I have ever seen anybody get.  You know he has a good ACT, so he is just getting flooded.  Right now, especially small liberal-art schools are dying for students.  And he is getting several academic scholarship offer and he has, you know, 29 ACT.  It is good, but it is not like crazy-good.  But then again they know if you go and you pay that much, you will pay the other half and you will still be a student, and ideally a good student.


But how do I want to start this?  So you heard me in the previous talk—if you were there—that at [Swim]MAC, college is an end.  So it is one of our distinct ends, which is pretty significant considering all the things we could write down.  But what I have concluded is that every kid should swim in college.  It is such a huge deal to go and just be on a swim team when you get to college.  I do not care: Division II, Division III, whatever level, swim.  Go that first year and swim in college.  Work to where your high school kids are encouraged to go do that.


They will meet the best human beings in the world.  They will make the best transition.  They will be watched by… you know, they will have that peer influences, mostly for the good—not all for the good, but mostly for the good.  Maybe, most important, they will have an adult, a staff of adults, monitoring them.  And if they get too far off the boundaries, they are going to get smacked back in or you are going to get called at home going, Do you know your kid is doing this?  You are not going to get that otherwise in college.  And then you have a ton of resources.  And especially in Division I, there are a lot of resources available to a… above and beyond what the normal student body has, including unlimited tutoring and early selection on classes, things like that.  It is a big benefit to have in most college situations.  And in swimming in college, it is an opportunity to come back as a role model at the club.  So the club kind of benefits in a 360-way from that.


There is obviously Division I.  And I had a good swimmer, 52 100 freestyler the last year, go to the University of Georgia.  She was not fast enough to swim on the team, but she swam on a club team there and she has had the best experience on the club.  There is actually a national club championship—it was at Georgia Tech this year—and they said there was, I do not know how many, 500 swimmers maybe at the meet from all of the colleges across the country.  They score points, they wear their Georgia gear, and they get on the blocks and race like other people.  And I was kind of surprised, pleasantly surprised, at that, because I was like Why are you going to Georgia? Why don’t you take a half-scholarship to this place or go to here?” because she was good enough to get scholarship places.  She says, “I love Georgia; I want to go there.”  And so it was really nice to hear she has had a great experience.  And so there is even that, which I did not know that… I knew it existed, but I did not know it could be that good of experience.


D-2 [Division II] is changing a lot.  There are D-2 programs springing-up everywhere right now.  Colleges have figured out that if they will support, with some scholarships, they will attract students.  Queens is the best example for me, because I know there situation.  Queens University of Charlotte started at team two years ago; 6.5 scholarships, men and women.  And if they can give a half-scholarship to somebody, then they are going to pay the other half: that is a good student.  Their profile of their campus is 70% women; they want men.  So there is no… they do not care how many women are on the team, what they want is a full squad on the men’s side to help with the ratio.


The other thing is the swimmers are the absolute greatest profile on campus as far as academics, extracurricular activities and giving back to the university.  And so that is part of why there is even more and more D-2 programs, D-3 programs starting Swimming.  They do not have to have great facilities, although you know Queens built a new pool.  But you can have just an okay facility and have a good team and a good experience.


NAIA is another one that is blowing-up.  Bill Pilczuk just took the assistant job at Savannah College of Art and Design, so that has all of a sudden become a great option.  If I have got a good swimmer, I would send them to Bill, you know; a really good swimmer, actually really fast, especially a sprinter, I would trust with Bill.  Sam Freas out in Oklahoma, somewhere, and he is obviously a world-class coach.  Brooks Teal is at St. Andrews, he is an outstanding coach and he has got more money than he knows what to do with—he has got a ton of scholarships out there.  So NAIA is, again, blowing-up in a little bit the same way.  They are trying to attract students using the swimming, and the profile of the typical swimmer is the advantage there.


NJCAA: I have to say that because that was…—I do not know if it is called that, NJCAA, anymore.  But junior college.  I went to Indian River, but there are some good options out there; certainly Indian River is still a really-good option.  It does not have to be for people just with bad grades like me; it can be for people who kind of do not know what they want to do and they want to go there for a little while first.


Money.  Let us do the money.  There is need-base, academic and athletic, really that are the big pots.  One of the things club coaches should understand and high school coaches understand is there is really more money available in the academic and need-based world than there is in the athletic.  So you want to… when they move in to 9th/10th grade, you want to make sure that they understand that.


In fact we just started this year at MAC where we had an orientation for our 8th graders turning 9th grade to tell them that exact thing; to say, You know what, as much as your parents have been telling you that it starts counting now, it starts counting in a lot of ways.  And so getting a little bit more serious approach going in to that 9th grade year, I would recommend you guys do that with your rising 9th graders, maybe during the summer before.  Have the parents in the room, and just try to get them to not go see, see, see because then that loses the effect.  So, do not do that.  But that is something we just started this year.


But there is… at the end of this, those who know where to correct me, correct me if I am going down somewhere wrong here—because we have enough college folks in here that we can get some give feedback on that.  Generally, you can combine need-base money with athletic money.  Some case, it depends on the institution.  Academic, generally you can combine too; to some degree it depends on the kind of academic.  But, overall, if it is institutional (Am I right, TJ?  Yeah) it can be combined with athletic.


So the deal is this, and men’s is the best example.  You have 9.9 scholarships [maximum allowed for a Division I men’s Swimming & Diving team].  If you had got 30% academic based, 20% athletic based, you are only using 20% of the 9.9 scholarships.  Those 9.9 scholarships are allowed to be used if they are a fully-funded team, which I am talking about kind of the big schools right now.  If they are a fully-funded team, that is that a four year window.  The post grads do not count anymore: they can give whatever money they want to the post-grads or whatever the institution situation is.  So 9.9 for that four-year window.  At Auburn a lot of times I would have guys be on peanuts and then in the fifth year they would be on a full ride.  And I said take your time, take three semesters; and back then there was not the pressure to try to get them out for saving money.


[audience member]:  9.9 is the ongoing number, it is not every year?


[Marsh]:  Okay, great question.  So 9.9 is the ongoing number, right.  So it is not a new 9.9 every year; it is 9.9 you have to fit everybody in there.  So if you graduate say 1.3 worth of scholarships, one kid quits—there are always one or two kids who quit—so maybe you get another 20% or 30% that way; then you have 1.5 scholarships to recruit with the next year.  So you probably, most college teams are going to try to get four or five kids on 1.3 scholarships and kind of put together a package.  Or they will have the philosophy of: I am going to get one biggie with a full-ride and then we will spread-out a bunch of book scholarships, or little amounts, so people can sign scholarships.


[audience]:  To exempt their aid, they have a 105 on an ACT sum score, they have to have 3.4 or 3.5 grade point average, or a sum score in SAT Math and Verbal of 1250.


[Marsh]:  Great, that is stuff I did not know.  And that is an NCAA rule? (Yes.)  That is new.  There is definitely ways to learn more about this; I am kind of trying to give you the backroom a little bit of what… at least what thinking is.


Women’s is 14.0. [A Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving team can have a maximum of 14.0 scholarships.]  You can have a pretty darn good team on 14.0.  Like you can make some… as far as trying to compete for higher levels, you can make some mistakes with 14.0; you cannot make too many.  If you are giving a kid a full-ride and you have 9.9; that is a killer.  Because, generally, most schools will not let you cut the scholarship off after the first year.  But that is a question—and you probably are going to want to write this one down.  But that was a question a student once asked: What’s your policy on increasing and reducing scholarships?  In some cases, if it is an institution policy, actually the student-athlete is kind of protected better; the bad news is the coach does not have the flexibility to do that and it is kind of a shame for the team.  Because sometimes people should be cut, because they are not doing the deal right.  But that is what is what it is.


In Division II, 8.1 as the maximum, but I think a lot of Division IIs have a limitation there.  And then Division III is non-scholarships, but a lot of those schools have nice aid packages.  Academically, leadership scholarships; they get really creative with the ways they can get people on campus, so there are actually pretty-good money available at Division IIIs.  And then there are also a lot of schools where… like I live two blocks from Davidson College and if you get in there academically on your own, they kind of fill all the need.  So if there is a need, if the family income is not able to pay for it, they will pay the rest of it.  But the swim teams only has like one scholarship to split-up amongst a bunch of people.  So there are a lot of situations like that where there are very unique to the school.


Anything else about the aid part; the athletic, academic or need-based aid?  I will give you an example: at Duke, I asked Dan [Duke’s Head Swimming coach] one time, “So what’s the number?” He said, Well if your family makes under $150,000, they are considered need.  So if you are 150 or less, you are probably going to get some academic aide.  By the way, Duke is starting to give athletics scholarships, I hear, this coming year; so that actually will be nice to have them.  On the women’s side only, but there are starting to add scholarships.  And Dan is a great coach, so that is a good option for people.


Fifth-year money.  Again fifth year money is a question you need to ask at the front side of the whole recruiting process.  “Do you give fifth year scholarships?” and “Do I have to work my fifth year for those scholarships?” and “Do you consider giving more than you might have given during the course of the four years?”  The time to ask that question is before you sign with the school, not after.  Because a lot of coaches have this as an individual kind of policy; it is not necessarily a university policy.  If it comes out of their budget, then obviously they are going to tend not to want to do that.


And I think in reality, if you can take five years and get little bit better grades; or we had a lot of guys at Auburn that would actually work toward a Masters degree during the window of the five years.  And start you know to get some academics done toward your Masters, to take advantage of every bit you can.  You [an audience member] even did the exemption during your time where he took a like a semester off based on an Olympic waiver and then we could apply a full-ride beyond his eligibility to that semester too; so we actually got four full-ride semesters.  So we tried to get him back for how much he did for us


[audience member]:  On your scholarships, did it make any difference if they were resident, non-resident, or whether it was full?


[Marsh]:  No.  That is a good great question, thank you—I did not think to tell you.  So the scholarship is just the percentage of the total.  So if you are in-state, the reality is everybody thinks if I am in-state, I should get more because in-state.  It is the opposite: you are likely to get a smaller offer, percentage-wise, because your cost is less; so it is your mathematical formula for that in-state or the out-of-state.


So out-of-state is $30,000 to go… I was going to use $20,000, what am I thinking now?  When I was coaching, most of my career was at $20-something thousand was a full ride, I mean, it was incredible; it is $40,000 almost everywhere.  So if you have got $40K out-of-state, $20K in-state, and you are given a half-scholarship, the dollar value of it is $20 and $10 and the percentage of that is the same.  So out-of-state, actually, you are able to give more money than to the in-state.


There are some schools that have in-state waivers; it is kind of unusual.  I had it for a couple of years at Auburn, but they cut me off in 1999 with that, which really stunk because it was a great thing to get somebody in-state after one year.  Like Missouri has that.  Their deal is that in the summer-time you have to work and earn at least $2,000.  If you do that, you can go apply for in-state.


Who did I just talk to?  Oh Monty [Hopkins] at Cincinnati just told me earlier that that is kind of… at Cincinnati the scholarship have come back on the table, they are mostly in the form right now of waivers to get in-state for out-of-state kids.  So that is kind of cool.  So they are moving in a good direction too and he said they are planning on getting into the scholarship business beyond that down the road.  So it is nice to see one get reinstated.  Does that answer your question?  Okay; all right.


Let me get on the list here.  This is something that I have learned that did not know.  In Charlotte, especially south Charlotte, it seems like every student has to take five AP classes per semester.  And they stay up all night to study, they get tired, they cannot come to morning practice, they cannot have fun on weekends.  They get lockdown, you know: they have got to get into Stanford or an Ivy League school or whatever.


I think there are several schools that you would assume AP would be a bit positive, and it is not: it is literary no big deal.  So I think it is worth them not assuming that more APs is better.  In fact Rich DeSelm told me that UNC [University of North Carolina] is actually backing-off of their priority of how many AP class you have, being a great indicator help you get in.  It is like: they want to see you taking some, but actually too many, there is no advantage that.  They actually want to see a little bit more well-rounded student.  So in my state, so like an NC State, it is all grades; it is grades and test scores.  It is not essay and not that kind of stuff.  It is not what activities you are in, it is just grades and test scores.  So when you are advising the students, they need to look at that level too: what is involved in that.


Certainly I would say most schools, being on an athletic scholarship or in some cases being invited to walk-on is an advantage to getting admitted to the school.  Brian Barnes says the girl he has that just made the National Team, she actually got in on her own, but most of his girls get in because they are swimmers.  The academic requirements there are very high, but he can help get people in if they are on athletic aid.  But he said it is a big problem right now because football is starting to take all the waivers, so he is actually having a kind of battle with football a little bit on the waiver front.


Anything else on the pure academics side?  Because I will go down the recruiting a little bit.


So I have already said recruiting is kind of a show, it is kind of a sales thing.  And it is good because it is something that there is a lot to be learned from.  The recruiting process starts in 9th grade: you become a recruit when you start 9th grade.  You can call colleges anytime.  So the thing about getting called your junior year, July 1, the student-athletes can call the universities anytime.  They can text.  I do not know all the text rules….


[audience member]:  You cannot text back.


[Marsh]: Right, that is what I am talking about: you cannot text back, but they can text you.  Or they can email you or email text.


[audience member]:  You cannot e-mail back until September 1 of their junior year.


[Marsh]:  Okay you got that: September 1, junior year. (We need to have this be a dual presentation here with all the rules and the stuff.)


How recruiting kind of works is… at a lot of the bigger schools there is really… like at Auburn we had no budget for recruiting, so I could bring-in 100 people if I wanted to on recruiting trip and spend all kinds of money—if I had no discipline.  At Division II schools, or even some off the smaller schools, it is money coming out of their budgets.


So I would say in advising the student-athletes, first of all, five visits in the Fall is too many.  But they all want to take five.  My big advice on recruiting trips is: do not ever take three weekends in a row.  Two weekends in a row, then you need a weekend off because they are exhausting.  You stay up too late, you eat too much food, and you get behind academically and in swimming.  So the preference would be… I have not been tough-enough, like Dick Shoulberg to just limit people to three visit in the Fall, but the reality is three visit in the Fall is probably a good number.  Throw-in some unofficial visits, and you are probably okay.


Things to consider, some big picture things.  To me: the head coach; the head coach to me, in terms of the Swimming piece of it, is the big thing.  It is not the pool, it is not the lane lines, it is not the pretty girls or the pretty boys; it is the head coach.  Because the head coach is going to be the biggest difference-maker in the deal.


After that is the staff.  Because there is the staff chemistry and especially in some schools where the staff might coach all of one group, so that is going to be your coach probably all the time.  Some places, they spread out; at other places, like Arizona for example, they coach certain groups and that is their coach for the year.  At Auburn, we tended to kind of spread it out a little bit more, so that people get coach by kind of like the whole staff and in certain days they be with one.  (How do you do it, TJ? [by group])  So Wyoming does it group by group.  So I think the staff is the second thing.


And I think the team culture is the third thing.  There are clear team cultures at different schools, and your youngster will be affected by that team culture.  There is no doubt it will change them for the better or for the worse; they probably will not stay the same, though.  It is the peer factor, the peer influences: they are walking-in as freshmen, they have got seniors on the team, they have juniors on the team.  The context of that to me: my fear is locker-room talk.  My excitement is on the other side of it, where they can open-up their thinking to whole other levels of thoughts they did not have.


You know when I got to Auburn, Rowdy Gaines was on the team.  And I just did not even know people did what he did.  Like I did not know they could go that fast in practice; I thought those were only meet times.  So it opened-up a whole other thought for me that Oh my gosh, I guess you can go meet times in practice; that’s pretty cool.


I would say school culture would be next.  Every school has its own kind of culture, the way it is.  There are party schools, there are academic schools, there are…. Well, first of all, there is partying going-on at every school; you know, Christian schools, whatever, there is partying going-on in every school.  So do not think there is not.


School culture is easier to understand; it is probably the easiest thing to really know, it school culture.  If you go on an official visit and not tell the coach you are coming into town, and you just walk-around campus for about three or four hours, you will get the feel for the school culture.  And, you know, everybody knows Saturday night and Friday nights is kind of, you know, what it is.  But you will get a good feel for it.


In fact I always challenged recruits… because I knew Auburn had a real friendly atmosphere so I was never really worried about sending people out.  I would always say “Go walk around by yourself for an hour around campus.  Just go, nobody is going to watch you.”  And we might plant one or two people to kind of happen by them, you know, or something.  But for the most part, it was like they would run into people and go wow, these people are really nice down here.  Especially if they were from the North or from California or something, they would be surprised because people would say hi to them for no apparent reason and that was always impressive to people.


The support piece is becoming more and more important.  So kind of everybody has a strength coach; that is kind of the main one.  I think the trainer and the doctor, and those kind of things, generally they are the people who are employed by whatever medical group covers the athletic department.  Just understand, generally Swimming is not a priority to the support services.  They kind of have to be academically; they are pretty good there because academic people like swimmers because they are generally a little bit more academically oriented.


But I would say the general rule at most schools would be that they are not going to get high-level, specific attention in the dryland world; they are going to get general guidelines.  They are probably not going to learn how to do a proper squat one-on-one for, you know, six sessions, like they would have if they went to personal training gym in your home town.  So we have actually implemented in Charlotte as they get to that senior year before they get to college, you want them to learn basic things about how to jump properly, how to squat properly.  How to even do… you know not all the way up over the shoulders, but a clean at least with the proper technique.  Because you just know there are just a lot of people on a college team, and there are a lot of people that the strength coaches are in charge of.  And I am sure am not saying that is correct for every school; and you will not hear that on recruiting trip that Yeah, we do not teach the stuff very well, they are going to point out all the best stuff.


The [athletics] medical staff at the college normally is a secondary not a primary.  So normally when your child needs medical services, if it is something pretty serious, your insurance will get dinged first.  (I am talking like a parent right now.)  But your insurance gets dinged first, and then the secondary is college.  And there are a lot of services that are, you know, trainers and things like that that they are no charge.


But again, my opinion is that at a lot of places the best trainer, the best orthopedic is not the one that is the campus orthopedic or campus doctor [for athletics].  A lot of them, they know football needs, but they may not know swimmer shoulders.  So I would say, if you have swimmers at colleges that generally have issues during their time, I would get second opinions outside of the institutions before… do not let them just cut on them or do that kind of thing.  Because, again, a lot of times they are also part of a medical system who when they send them to a doctor, they make money on cutting them.  I am not saying they would do that necessarily, but the reality is: get a second opinion—is what I would say, along those lines.


Assisting coaches.  You know, unless there are the Florida guys, Harvey, you know, career assistants that have shown they staying somewhere for a long time, it is not a good idea to make a decision based on an assisting coach.  Because really, most places if you are doing a really good job as an assistant, you probably ought to be getting another job or a head job or the next level in your pathway to some point.  So there are a lot of changes that happen like that, and you hate to think this is the coach I loved and wanted to swim for and then they end up leaving.  It ends up being a disappointing thing because that was a reason you made the decision.


Improve your chances.  It is strange, but for a lot of colleges, to improve your chances, fill-out a questionnaire.  Because there are certain colleges that… and I want to say Rich told me that: he said something about I did not get a questionnaire for somebody.  That is the prompt to show they are interested and then they begin the recruiting process.  So fill out a questionnaire.  Or return an email, yeah.  So be engaged, you know.  But the questionnaire is good.


My daughter was filling-out a questionnaire the other day and she was like Dad, why are they asking me like my 100 breast time and that kind of stuff.  The reality is they do not really care, but it is probably good to put down anyway.  You know, you will get better at it, but, you know, she is what, 1:15, in a 100 yard breaststroke.  So just put it down, it is fine.  It is always interesting, like she has never done a mile in her whole life, so she has to put “no time”.  I said, “There’s a reason you’ve got to do the mile, see?  You have got to swim that some time; you have got to make it on that sheet.”


Improve your chances: go faster.  I mean, the reality is, get faster times.  At the end of the day, a .99 time versus a .01 time sounds better, and it probably is a little bit better.  And I do not mean to insult the college coaches in here, but, you know, a 45.99 versus a 56.12 is a lot more attractive—it just feels better.  So go faster.


And I really kind of hate to say this, but this is the reality.  In reality, most places—not everywhere, but most—go faster short course.  While long course times are nice, short course times get their attention a lot faster because they are in the business of short course.  Long courses, you know it is a good thing.  There are schools where I would say that they have developed for long course culture; there are not many.  I would say there are a lot less of those than there are a lot of those.  But I do think they kind of range everything between major schools; and I would say there are some major schools that do not emphasize.


And if I could turn this thing off now and not have any college coaches listen to me, I would be able to tell you, you know, a couple… I would say in reality if you look at the results….  If you do an intense study of the amount somebody improves long courses, which is really what we ought to have the ammunition of since the database can almost press a button and get that right now, that is an impressive number there.  And if you are interested in becoming a world-class swimmer, you are interested in long course as a priority over short course.  But the reality is, for most schools, getting faster short course times is where the deal is.


We now have, at the end of our summer, our juniors in high school and our seniors, can have the option at the end of the summer to be go to a short course meet to shave at the end of the summer session, just because of that.  And it kind of ticks me off, but the reality is, like I said and looking at this thing, that college experience and the ability to get to a college-of-choice is rather than a college-by-default is maybe the best service we club coaches and high school coaches can give a student-athlete.  It is an amazing difference getting to your #1 school versus your safety school or your #3 school.  If you can go where you wanted to go or get admitted somewhere because of the swimming piece of it, that is… you did an amazing service, you changed that person’s life.  And our sports changed a life.  That is way cool.


I am sorry: there is a question at the back.


[inaudible audience question]


[Marsh]:  They know short course meters; I mean, that is not a problem.  But yeah, short course meters will be the same thing; they will do a 10% conversion probably in short course meters.  But they understand in Canada you are going to be doing more long course than the Americans.  But most of the Canadians you are fast enough to get the attention of a lot of colleges, so that should not be a problem.


Another way to improve your chances is be tall, have big feet, big hands, great technique; so it is basically have a lot of potential.  Have potential.  Most college coaches that are good prefer an underdeveloped kid over a developed kid.  A developed kid can generally go faster times, but if you are a little underdeveloped then most college coaches that are the people, the places the better kids probably want to swim, they are going to want to… they are kind of excited to see a lanky kind of you know fumbly kind of person.  I think that is probably a generally good thing, probably more so in the men.  I think in the women side, you want to see a little bit more of an athletic, connected; you know, somebody who can move with a decent gait that look like they are an athlete and they can transition the athletics over.  Maybe a late transition from another sport, that is always real attractive to college coaches.  Usually it means some significant money if you can sell that piece of it.


Underwater kicking.  I mean NCAAs is an underwater event, that is short course yards.  It is probably a really good idea to do a lot underwater work for a high school swimmer because you can go a lot faster that way.  The likelihood that you will fall-off because of bad technique in college or something else… if you are really good underwater in high school, you are going to be really good in college underwater because you are going to do more of it.  So it is all good underwater.


Other ways to improve your chances: pursue the college coach.  So pursue the recruiting process.  Way too many student-athletes in high school, they just think I am getting recruited, I am laying back and that is it.  No.  If you really want to go to two or three different places—you you’re your kind of idea—then pursue them.  Send them updates; you know, do the bump at meets, say hi, that kind of stuff.  Let it be known that that is the place you are interested in.

Grades.  It only helps to have better grades.  There is not any college team in America that does not want to boast about their team GPA.  They want to be Academic All Americans.  Before your kids go to school emphasize that.  One of the biggest ways they can contribute to a team is be above the norm of the rest of the team.  Even if they are not a fast swimmer, that is a way they can keep their roster spot, that is a way they can add to the team, that is a way they can make the team look better.


Weights and dryland.  I think like the junior year… we have kind of let our seniors begin to touch some weights and do a little bit more dryland to try to create a little more power for just at the end.  I am probably going to do that with the juniors coming up, because I have a bunch of skinny, underdeveloped swimmers because we do not really do any weights before that time.  So we are probably going to begin to do more, adding a little power to the program in that 11th grade, maybe some introduction to it in 10th they will learn kind of how to make the movements; that is a good thing.  I am generally against… you know, if I have a world-class-rising swimmer, I do not hurry that process at all.  To me the best way to put-on strength is to do with nature.  And you want to get that tips-of-your-toes kind of strength that happens just when God wants it to happen; you do not need to try to force that a whole lot.


More events is generally good, but excess events not necessarily.  If you look at the NCAA order, if you can figure out that you can go two events the middle day and one of them the last day at a pretty-high level, you are probably pretty-good; if you can spread it out between three days, that is okay.  The 50 Free in college—you need to tell your high school students—has lots of really good swimmers in it; so they do not need to be a 50 freestyler going into college.  It will help with their retention, because a good 50 time indicates some good things for the future.  But do not get their hearts set on being a 50 freestyler, because the best thing they can do for their career development too is to swim up a little bit early and then come down.  As Tyler McGill tells me when I made him do the 500 free first…. He said, “You made me do the 500 free the first couple of years.”  I am like, I didn’t know you were like a 51 flyer/50-point flyer long course; I’m sorry, you were skinny.  So yeah, I think more events.


Or be related or be the best friend of a five-star-plus recruit, that might help you be recruited too.  I am not joking: I have actually signed some people because their little sibling coming-up was a superstar, so we: yeah a little bit more money for this person to make sure they are coming.  But yeah.


So when a college coach visits a club, this is kind of cool.  When a college coach visits a club, it is a great thing for your club.  It does not matter where they are from, literally.  It is nice if they are from a fancy-pants school, but the reality is a college coach on the deck is a good thing.  You ought to be playing it up with your club and your high school swimmers.  It is good for all of your folks to know.  A lot of college coaches are doing kind of spring club visits, where they go out and….  They cannot really talk to anybody yet, but they are just going to kind of peruse the team and see what is going on, on the deck and see if they can pick out some folks that might fit in to that profile.  Plus just letting you know that they are present.  And those are terrific things.  Usually they will be targeting on you know one or two- one or two kids and want to know about them.


They can talk to your group, but not about their school.  So they can talk about… being a successful college student, can be a topic.  You can give them a topic that is… but they cannot say well being a swimmer at—let’s use Florida as an example—being a swimmer at Florida is this, this and this.  You cannot recruit like that.  But they can say, you know, they can give a 15-minute talk to the actual group of high school kids in a generic sense.


With 8th graders and below, I have actually had them come in and do stroke work every now and then, which is kind of fun.  And generally college coaches like doing that because they do not get to work with little kids normally, and of course it just lights-up any little kid.  Most college coaches are pretty cool with that.  I mean if you just ask them, say, “Would you mind kind of just inspiring these kids for ten minutes by giving them your favorite Wyoming freestyle drill.”  And it is awesome.  But you have got to make sure there are no 9th graders in that group; if you are going to give any instruction, that will get them in trouble.


By the way, a lot of times the institution will have a policy against that.  So do not be offended if they say, Well, wait he did it, that school did it, but this school does not do it.  Sometimes institutions, especially at schools that might be in trouble or have been in trouble, they are going to tighten the screws down more in every area, even any image of doing something a little beyond they are going to shut that down.  So just understand there is an individual piece that to: the NCAA rules allows it, but the institution might not.


And if you can find two compliance people in the country that agree on more than about five things, it will be a miracle.  At every school… you would think the NCAA rules would be checked out by the compliance people in a very similar way: they are not—they are not.  It is amazing.  And it is even amazing that the rules are… there are even schools that can kind of get a lot more because they have worked hard at the relationship with the NCAA, so they can get waivers in quicker and easier.  There is a lot of that kind of stuff.  So it is a political process when it comes to compliance.  And you do not want to… you hate compliance, so you do not want to raise the flag of compliance either.


We have had a couple of the coaches run clinics.  You have got a pre… it has got to be advertised, it has got to be open to everybody, it has got to have no restrictions on it, and then they can run a little clinic when they are there.  So that is kind of fun too, if they are willing to do it.  And then they can speak with your coaching staff, and then they can also speak with parents.  But, again, with parents they cannot be recruiting for their school; if there are parents of 9th graders in there.


(Is that all that?  Is that correct?  Any of the other college coaches?  Okay.)  I think that is all correct.  Anything else on that front that you can do on a trip?  We are trying to wear you guys out; so when you come, wear out those college coaches.  Put them to work, because they can inspire those kids in one day so much more than you are going to inspire the kids in the next month just by talking to the kid.  And again, it does not matter where they are from: a college coach wearing their college logo is something we need to impact our sport a lot more.  Go out there…. But ask, do not wait for them to offer, just ask.  Do you mind working on this group for a little bit? or Does your school allow you to talk to my group at the end of practice for a few minutes? And they generally love doing it as it is another way to kind of reach out to a lot more people for them


[audience member]:  We [college coaches] are not allowed to ask to do specific sets.  We cannot ask like the coach, say like hey, would you run through some underwater kicking?  But it is amazing how well kids will swim when a college coach is visiting.


[Marsh]:  Oh yes, absolutely: save your good sets for those nights.


All right… so I did not realize I am kind of lollygagging though this; let me give you a little bit more so we have time for questions.


On a home visit.  So when a college coach goes into a home, you need to tell if they do that, that is a big deal.  If they are going into a kid’s home, they want him: they want them to come to school there.  They are not going to go into their home unless they want them.  And the swimmers need to understand, and Jimmy Tierney put it really well when he came through one time and he said, “I look at everything; we are watching everything they do.”  Like literally.  When they are on a recruiting trip, we listen to everything they are saying; we are watching what they are doing, what they look like, how they are interacting with our athletes.  On a home visit, same thing.


I have had young people and you just want to say to them, You are losing thousands of dollars as you are talking back to your mom right now in front of me.  Do you understand that?  Your poor manners are costing you and your family thousands of dollars right now.  Because I am not going to take a chance on a wisecrack like that.  I may still offer you some money, but, guess what, it was going to be a half, now it is a quarter, you know.  And if you want to come, it is fine, I will put up with you.  And if I do not like you, I will, you know, have to deal with you in a different way, but I kind of know what I am getting.  So… first of all, they need to respect their parents, anyway, and you too, you know.  I think that is something that you know… how is their interaction with you.  That is not the day to say yo, wassup; you know treat you like a coach that day—we are going to do our respect thing.


If a coach comes into your home, please make sure you check what they do not like to eat.  I had to eat a bowl of mushrooms once.  This lady, “Do you like chili?”  Yeah, I love chili; that is great.  And so I got there and it was mushroom chili.  Oh my gosh.  And when you are recruiting her, you have got to eat everything on that plate; and I cannot stand mushrooms.  [laughing]  So have the folks find out what the coach likes to have.


Write a handwritten note after a coach comes to visit you.  Not an email; I recommend a handwritten note, every college coach is impressed with that. Because they get it so infrequently, a handwritten note is a big deal.


Early or late signing.  Most colleges will kind of say they are not getting much money left at early signing; usually seems to be some money left during late signing.  But early signing is a pretty normal thing.  Underdeveloped boys, sometimes it is crazy to sign early.  I have had several sign-up the last couple of years in the early window—I had a couple had a couple this year—and they blew-up during the year, and it is like Sorry it is the same scholarship, you are not getting any more money.  And I told them all that too.  I said, “You might wanna wait.”  I said, “You should wait ‘till late signing ‘cause you will get a lot more money when you blow up, and you’re gonna blow up.”  But it is like there is this pressure at the school, and pressure to put that hat on and do the little high-school thing.  It is nuts.  I even think for boys a gap year should be considered for a lot of them, the ones that are really underdeveloped and skinny.


Again, if they have the times, they are going to get the offer; if they do not have time and they have potential, they might get a little bit.  But the proof is in the pudding: if you have done the times, it could be worth a hundred thousand dollars to drop a few seconds an event.  South Carolina has their high school State meet in October; I had a kid a couple years ago dropped from 1:54 to 1:49 200 IM.  He was not even getting any attention from this one school that he wanted to go to—a good school—and he ended-up with like a half-scholarship because of that drop right there in the Fall.  So that development is a big deal.


[audience member]:  How late in the Spring do they go?


[Marsh]:  It is the second week in April.  So the late signing is the second weekend in April.


[audience]:  If your like Sectional championships are in May….


[Marsh]:  I mean if they have money left over, but by May they are probably tight.  Florida, you probably be done with money by then.  Do you ever have money in May?


[inaudible comments from audience]


[Marsh]:  Yeah.  So the theme there is do your research, on that academic front especially.


Let me go quickly: representation during the summer.  It has been kind of interesting to see the different versions of that that are available.  At the selection meets, and I think at Nationals too, athletes are allowed to dual-represent or they can swim for their home team and train with their college team.  Florida does a lot of that, which is awesome.  They can represent their college team and stay and train at home.  The dual representation though, I would say with the colleges get them to agree to… you know ask that question on the visit or in the process: Will you dual represent my swimmer if they are not coming home?  And then the reciprocal should be for you: you should dual-represent them, if they are at that school.  So at the big meets, put your club team.


We do that every one of us our swimmers, including our pros, we just ask them who they want to do dual represent.  And I just think the more recognition like that, the better for all of us in the sport.  But, you know, a lot of colleges do not do it.  And a lot of times, it is not because of mal-intent; it is just they get busy: they are filling out the thing, they are doing online meet entry, boom, boom, done.  You know, they do not really think a lot of it; but if you ask, that will bring up the radar and most will do that.


You know, we have had some swimmers from like Duke and NC State that train with us and represent us; but it was a selection meet, so they actually paid the swimmers’ way even though they were representing and training with us.  So some schools, that is allowed, which is pretty cool.  Like Faith Johnson trained with us this summer, and represented us because she is from North Carolina, so she got the money from the LSC.  But I think she… we let wear some Tennessee clothing, so that was kind of how we did that.  Then Cammile Adams, she represented Aggie, so Steve could pay for her—because she would not get the money from us—but she wore a MAC cap.  So there are things like that you can do with different people, and cool guys like Steve Bultman usually work that kind of stuff out for people.


We have gone to, in the summertime, a college group.  We actually have a broke-out, college group.  I do not know if… for a lot of people I do not know if you can you can afford it or have pool space to do it, but it has been really successful.  We have a group of… this year we had 25 that trained in the summer.  They went 6:00-8:00 in the morning and that was it; they just went one good session.  And most of them swam in one shave meet at the end of the summer.  That is mostly what most colleges expect in the summer: if you just will stay in-shape and get a good workout in, that is great.  The higher-level swimmers just swam in the groups with the Senior 1 group or a couple of them with Team Elite.  So that might be something you want to do.


And we also had our senioritis seniors that are going to college, they went in that group, too.  So like, yeah, you go ahead and go with that group since you are emotionally already there.  And that gets them away from some of the little kids and they do not have the bad influence.  Because they get restless when they get close to that senior year, a lot of them have a foot out the door and they are not much help at that point.  But you do not want to throw them out, and like have them join a different team.  You do not want them leave your program angry when they are going to college.  You want them to have finished a good experience and go away happy, but you will be like: just go away.


Generally, I do not know if you can expect a ton of communication.  In the recruiting process is generally the most attention that your good swimmer will ever get from that coach.  I should not say that, not ever.  But like they will never come back to your house and eat dinner, eat mushrooms, again; like they are not going to come back.  Like they are going to do one home visit and that is it.  They are not going to come see you every season, and sit down and review the season with you and layout how much progress they have made.  So just understand.


And a lot of times, you know, attention is currency, right.  So in some cases, and certainly I did this at Auburn, you try to give somebody a lot of attention because you know you are not going to give them lot of money.  So you want to make them really want to come, and then Well, we can only give you 20%.  And then maybe you are expecting more or whatever, but maybe that relationship carried-through a little bit.


On the money part, I would say that the most leverage you will ever have is your high school senior year when you are down to two or three schools—that is the most leverage you will ever have.  After you are in school, you may get a little increase; you probably are not going to get a decrease unless you do something really stupid like break team rules and stuff.  You may get bumped-up a little bit, but not near what you would in that going in to freshman year.  So just understand that it is a negotiation from your side.  And, again, most college coaches will not like that I am saying that, but it is the truth.  I generally, lately, have found myself recommending that the parents take-on that hardcore piece of it a little bit, and just be… allow the relationship between the swimmer and the coach to kind of be protected a little bit, so the swimmer is not having to do it.


I remember when Auburn added on books to my scholarship, it was kind of like a little nudge over to get me to go there.  Because otherwise I would have been at South Carolina; my world would have been different right now.  So I think just be aware of that: there is a window of time and that little window is it.


Advice before they go on a trip.  (This is good. I am going to fire through this.)  One, it is a show.  When they go on a trip, it is not a typical weekend.  There are only like five or six Fall football weekends all year at universities; other weekends are different.  Monday through Thursday is different on all college campuses.  So what the experiencing on most recruiting trips is not really what they are going to live, you know, day-in and day-out.


Ask for a practice time.  Every college coach is impressed by swimmers that will go-in and practice; not just go-in and jump off the diving boards but actually go-in and workout.  And somehow—miraculously—they will know if you did it or not, too.  So ask for practice time before the trip.  And realize you are not going to get much… you are going to get 3,000-4,000 thousand probably; if they are really hardcore, they might do the whole workout you gave one of two days.  But they are busy and they are tired on recruiting trips.  But as a technique of impressing the coach, they should workout.


Do not commit on a visit.  You know, the emotional thing, I love Lucy and so I’m gonna go to school there.  A lot of kids fall in love on their recruiting trips, and not with the school.  But show genuine interest, if there is genuine interest.  One of the best things you can do for a college team is, if you are not interested, tell them it is not happening because they can move-on to the next thing.  Better to do that before you ever make your visit, so they do not spend money on you, but you know if that is the case, you can be honest on that front.  But do not commit.  And there are techniques to try to get kids to commit, which most of the time has to do with the kids on the team.


A new thing that has kind of happened which really kind of upsetting—used to be taboo, but now is to happen a lot more—and it is fair, because the money runs out, but putting pressure to cancel other teams’ visits.  So, it used to be, you want to be the last visit; that is not the case anymore for the most part.  There are a lot of schools that will say I only have money to this date and once it gets taken by someone else, it is gone.  So generally earlier visits are probably uh wiser at this point.


If your swimmer knows they are for sure going to make all the visits, and they are going to, then that is probably a good thing, an honorable thing, to tell the coach.  But you never know.  When you get into it, you have been to three schools, now you are exhausted and you are like Oh gosh, I got two more schools, really I’m not sure I want to do this; and then this school comes-in and says here’s your offer and it is a nice offer, it is like you are like That is where I want to go anyway and they had the amount of the offer.  So you are not going to make the other two visits.  But college coaches know that too: if they have got late visits, they know they have got to keep recruiting you hard to get you to want to come on that visit.  So, they know that game too.


Dress sharp; do not look like a slob.  You want to look a little bit better than the average student body, and probably a lot better than the swim team girl that is wearing sweats and t-shirts 24-hours-a-day, all-day, during the visit.  Look sharp: it makes an impression not only on the coach, but university administrators and that kind of stuff which then that is good thing for the coaches too.


Have your experience, not the other recruits on the trip experience.  Okay.  A lot of times they end-up spending their time with the other recruits, and their experiences and what their relationships were with the other recruits.  But those other recruits are not at that school; they are going to go a variety of places, more than likely.  So they need to understand that their experiences need to be with the other people.


Be on time.  Even if it is not your nature.  It will look bad if you are late to places, and dragging in and sitting in the back of the room and, you now, basic stuff.


Call the coach: Coach whatever.  Do not call… even if the swimmers are calling them, you know, Joey or Dan or whatever.  It is Coach whatever: coach their-last-name.  Do not have your swimmers call them by… and that is all the coaches, even if there are young coaches and cool coaches on the staff, call them by Coach whatever.  If, when they go to school there, the coach is the one who will start letting them call them by their first name, do that.  You are not going to… you are only going to impress people by doing that.  And a lot of them will say, “No, call me whatever”, and then it is probably okay.  But I still think, I would say: stay calling them Coach whatever until you are signed and on campus.


Do not drink.  Alcohol, that is.  They can drink water, and sodas and things; but do not drink alcohol.  And alcohol will be around on most visits, and there will be some places and cases where there will actually be pressure put on your kids to drink, not by coaches obviously, but by students or just by the environment of a party or something.  So just be aware of that and beforehand get your guys committed to not drinking.  Again you will only impress the people who matter, which are the coaches in reality.  I mean, you want to impress the students a little bit, but reality is that the coaches really matter.


You will even impress them more if word gets back, “Yeah, they did not drink” you know.  And the swimmers will tell them what is going on; there are always a couple of swimmers that kind of give you all the scoop on all the recruits.  You know, “Here’s what they did.” Oh yeah, they were hanging on the chandeliers and throwing-up in the back bathroom.  It is like, Okay, good; that’s good.  We do not want them.


Talk to the seniors, the fifth-years.  I think fifth-years are gold.  If you talk to the fifth years in a private conversation, say can you give me the real deal kind of an offside one.  I always feel like that is a pretty powerful thing.  So if they are advocating for the school in a passionate way, and they are not in the environment, that is a strong vote of support.  And if they are not, it is just good to know.


Underclassmen they know.  So if they know people on the team already, you get them away from everybody.  You say “Look me in the eyes and tell me you think this will be a great fit for me” you know.


Get some phone numbers.  (What do I mean by that?  Oh, that is a joke.)  I always tell… I had bunch of guys go [on trips] this year.  You are never going to have a better chance to get phone numbers from some of those college girls than you are when you are on your trip, because they have got to be nice to you.


When you are talking to the coaches, talk about… you need to express your hunger for Swimming, okay?  You know, if it is like Oh I hate sets that are over 50, right, I hate that.  You know that kind of… I mean, you know they do not want you.  It is like you are hurting yourself by doing that.  So think of what the coach would want to hear and be sincere.  Try to be sincere, but be on the hungry-for-Swimming side of that, not the “What’s the maximum/minimum I have to do; I just want to do as little as I have to do.”


I think my notes are done.  Questions, or more information from those who know better than I know.



[audience member]:  What can we do as coaches, club coaches, to help this?  I mean I know that all that was there, but like interactions….


[Marsh]:  Yeah, absolutely.  Club coaches and high school coaches can be big advocates for them.  If they hear from you that this is a great kid, that is the main… the strongest thing you can say.  If they are and they are a great kid, and you say This is a great human being that your team would be better for by having on the team.


But you have a reputation though, so you need to be sincere.  Like you… the athletes can fake it until they make it; you cannot.  So you need…. And the other side of it too, I have definitely told college coaches not a good fit for you.  You know: you guys, your culture is too hard at training, this kid would not be good for you; they need touchy-feely stuff and so this schools are better for you.


I mean, in reality, a really-good college coach understands that the club coach is their #1 customer, even over the recruit year by year.  Because if you have that reputation with the club coaches and they will give you the scoop and say: Hey I’ve got one coming up right now.  Swimming for two years, girl going 51 in a 100 freestyle.  Only swimming two years, that is worth a lot to a college coach.



[audience member]:  Can you talk for just a second about… the situation I am having is my kids are actually better athletes than swimmer, and they are getting into better schools then they can swim for.  So can you talk about what can I do to encourage them to swim?


[Marsh]:  Are you saying they cannot make the team at the schools they are going to?


[audience]:  I am talking about clubs or what do I say to encourage them to go to a D-3 private school?


[Marsh]:  Can you give me the scenario?  What schools are you talking about?


[audience]:  I coach at a public school in Los Angeles.  And we are good, but it is but they are not going to be able to swim at some of the schools.  They are solid swimmers and they can definitely swim in D-3, but they are getting into UCLA or Berkeley, they are getting into Stanford.


[Marsh]:  Yeah, but if you are an in-state person and you can go to those schools, that is pretty strong.  I would swim on the club team and go to those schools.


Again I think the club piece is still pretty good.  You know, if they love Swimming, that would be one thing.  If they love Swimming, then Occidental or one of the other schools that might give them a scholarship academically or something like that.  And I guess I am conflicted here a little bit with what I said earlier, right? About how everybody should swim.  But especially the in-state schools, especially in California, is so hard to get into, that if you are in, you are kind of almost obliged to help them that way.


One thing I have said to people before is: understand the decision of where you are going to college is not a lifetime sentence.  You can change your mind after a year; if you really do not like it, you can transfer.  So if the pressure is too much for that, you can do that.  So even in that kind of case, just say: go there, swim on the club for two years, and then try to make the varsity team.  Or if you get faster at the club team there, you can transfer-out to another school.



[audience member]:  For a D-1 recruit, it is a very small sphere, and a college coach can tie academic money to athletic money?


[Marsh]:  Yes, in most cases.  There are some numbers they have got to hit, but yeah.


[audience]:  Over that 1250.  Then the coach could say, “I will get you 20% athletic, but….


[Marsh]:  Well, a lot of times understand, some schools do not know how much academic aid they are going to get until later.  So they can say, “Look, in the early signing I’ve got 20% for you, you are projecting to get” this much money.  Other schools, do the profiles with their academic programs early.  So again, that is very individual, but most coaches know the range.  But if you are on the bubble of the range, then you do take a chance.  Because if you sign to 20% and end up getting no academic aid and you were kind of counting on that, that is not a good thing and you have already signed.


[audience]:  But the coach can tie that, and bring it up in the same conversation?


[Marsh]:  Yes, you can.



[audience member]:  What are some of the questions that should not be asked while on the trip?


[Marsh]:  Do not ask how much scholarship they have; do not make the first question about scholarships.  You know it is about team, it is about culture, it is by training sets, it is about schedules, it is about support stuff.  And really, some of the more valuable questions you will ask are to the other swimmers on the team.  With the coaches you will get generally pretty canned responses, which is fine; that is kind of what it is.  With the swimmers, you will get kind of opinions along with it, which sometimes are wrong.  And if you have got a snotty kid on the team, that is not the person you want to know it from.  You know, because they got chewed-out by the coach or they did something, they are in the doghouse; they may not be the person to talk to.  So it is good common sense stuff.  But stay away from the money questions; do that when you are back off-campus, and I would say let the parents handle that.


Way back?


[inaudible comment from the audience]


[Marsh]:  Yeah, it is a huge benefit to be in, especially a D-1 athlete: the services are incredible.  And even if you go there and do not end-up staying on the team, you get the services for the rest of the year anyway because that is usually the case.  So those are really good ideas.



[inaudible audience comments on recruiting services]


[Marsh]:  Well I think… but you are in here right now, so you schools that are in here, you recruit hard, like you guys work at it.  The problem is, I am just telling you, a lot of coaches do not work at it, and there is a lot of money on the table to some degree because they do not work at it.  And some of these guys are really good coaches or just introverts or they are busy with family things and they do not have pressure from the colleges.  So that is what I am saying: do not be offended by a school that does not recruit a lot.  I mean there are a couple of schools in say North Carolina that are very good options, they just do not recruit very hard.  It is just the way it is; I mean I think it is crazy that they do not, with the privilege of getting all the resource they get at a college job.  But if they do not have to, then they do not; so that is the way it is.


So, I… and I think we are out of time (we are way out of time).  Okay, I am still going to stay here and I will answer individual questions.  Thank you.



##### end #####


A Dryland-Specific Program for High School Swimmers by Randy Wells, Emporia High School (2013)

[introduction, by George Block]

I’m George Block; I want to welcome you to this session on dryland training.  This is one speaker I’d never met before, and I was getting ready to go out and hunt him down this morning and God put us in the same elevator.  It made it real interesting to meet.  And I am so happy that Randy is here, from just the little I got to talk to him.  I found out the level of personal commitment he had in his talk: he is a football coach and defensive coordinator, and he skipped his game this weekend to come here and give his talks.  He had to watch it on a webcast, and try to use his cell phone to call the guys in the booth and run a defense from New Orleans back to Emporia, Kansas.  So it’s really exciting to have somebody who is a Football coach, a Track coach, and committed to Swimming—has worked with a number of Swimming coaches.  I learned just moments ago that you’re very lucky, because normally he does the clinic in the weight room and all the coaches do the exercises. [laughter]  So today you are saving my knee, and me a lactate bath tomorrow.  So, Randy, thank you for joining us; welcome to the ASCA World Clinic.


[Wells begins]

Thank you, I appreciate it, thank you.  Just to give you a quick background, my background, I work with every type of athlete possible.  Swimmers, I’m lucky that we’ve had some really good swimmers where I’m from, and I’ve had a chance to work with some really good swimmers.  Katie Yevak, who went to Georgia, just barely missed the Olympic team; she is from our hometown.  So I work with a lot of swimmers.  And believe it or not, my first teaching/coaching job, I had to manage the pool and they said by the way you got to do the swim club too.  So I do have a little bit of background in there.  I am by no way a swim guru of technique or anything like that.  But what I’m going to show you today are some very interesting things that I think you can take back and use.


And the presentation is kind of a two-part deal.  I’m going to move pretty quick through the PowerPoint stuff, the slides.  Some of the slides are going to give you a background of what we’re going to see in the video.  Then I’ve got to switch gears, I’m going to put a video in.  The video is about 28 minutes; there is a lot… there is a ton of stuff on it.  I figured out the other night there is probably 40 different exercises that you’re going to see.  And it’s no way inclusive of all the things that we do, but it’s going to give you a framework that you could take back with little or no equipment and get some dryland training for your swimmers.


At the same time, the good thing about dryland training, if you can do some of these circuit things that you’re going to see today, you can actually reduce the volume in the pool.  Of how much volume you’re doing actually in the pool, and that’s a good thing I think.  You know, I’m a track coach too, and it’s always about volume, volume, volume, all this stuff.  And sometimes we do too much.  So if you could do some of these things, then at the same time you want to try to decrease some of the volume you’re doing in the pool.


My background, like I said, I coach Football, I coach Track.  I work with every athlete.  I’m basically our strength and conditioning coordinator at our high school as well.  So I work with tons of athletes; I see about 150-165 kids a day, and sometimes 50 at a time.  So it’s very challenging.


So what we’re going to do, before we start.  Everybody standup.  Give yourself a little bit of space.  I’m going to show you something that you can take back, right now.


Shoulder injuries are usually a common occurrence in Swimming. (Would I be right in saying that?  Somewhat, alright.)  And you’re going to need to give yourself a little bit of space.  So here is a little tool that you can use either as pre-hab, rehab, warm-up; however you want to use it, it could be used.  And it is just a little isodynamic shoulder routine.  It can be done with weight, no weight—we do it with no weight.  Just to loosen up the shoulders and get some good stability in our upper back.  So I’m going to demonstrate first, and then we’re going to do it.  Don’t poke anybody in the eye.


I’m going to get into somewhat of bent-over-row position, push my hips back.  And I’m going to take my hands and put them in a Y.  Notice my thumbs are up.  And the first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to go with my right arm and I’m going to touch my left knee, and I’m going to keep this left arm extended and not moving at all.  So this is a Y, okay?   Do 5.


Now you got to get… you’ve got to get hold a good bit of a row position, touch the inside knee, thumbs up, do 5.  Normally we would do 12; you guys are only doing 5.  Yeah, I know it’s a little cramped.  If you want to scoot-up to the front—I move around a lot.


So then put the right arm out, and do 5 with the left arm.  These are Ys.  And both arms should be straight, and I’m keeping my thumbs up.  Okay, you got the idea.  That’s part one.


From the Y, then we’re going to go to somewhat of a T.  It’s not a full… (I’ll show you from the side), it’s not a full 180-T; so I’m somewhere right in here, okay, maybe 160°.  And I’m going to do the same thing.  Left arm up, right arm touches the knee, it comes up.  Do 5.


(This is kind of my little get acquainted introduction deal.)  And I’m telling you, this is worth its weight in gold, right here.


[audience member]:  Is your back flat when you do this?  That’s key?


[Wells]:  Yes.  Yeah.  Because see you want to hinge at the hip; that’s the whole key right there.  So you’re getting more bang for your buck right there yeah.


Okay so we’ve got Ys, Ts, and now we’re going to go to what I call Egyptians.  I don’t know if any of you are old enough to remember the song Walk Like an Egyptian; this is it.


So I’m going to get in this good position.  I’m going to put one hand on my low back.  The other hand is going to be over here, at about a scarecrow position, about 90°.  And all I’m going to do is lift both hands up, and back down.  So the hand on my back comes up, and this hand rotates up.


Now you can see… see my wrist start to flex?  I want to try to lock that in there.  Okay, I had an AC shoulder injury a long time ago, so I don’t have that good of a range of motion.  Over time kids can get this really-good range of motion.  So here we go, we’re going to do Egyptians.


Let’s go right arm down, left arm on your low back.  And lift both at the same time.  It doesn’t have to be fast, doesn’t have to real high.  Do 3 or 4, then switch sides.


Now, look: when I take this hand off my low back, I want to go straight up.  I don’t want to go back here, I want to go straight up.  So you get internal/external rotation.  Everybody thinks that swimmers always have poor… they always have… its rotator cuff, rotator cuff, rotator cuff, rotator cuff.


(Okay, you guys can sit down.)  So that’s a great little tool that you can use a number of different ways.


It’s not so much rotator cuff.  Alright?  And you’re going to see this again in just a second.  (And I know I’m going to have to hurry because I’m going to talk a lot.  Is there something in here after we’re done?  Okay.  Then if we go over, I’m okay, because I’ll probably go over.)


The key here, and here’s the take-home message that I can give to you guys, is this: if you have a rash of shoulder injuries in Swimming, it’s really not so much rotator-cuff issues as it is weak-spine and stiffness issues.  Because if the lats can’t pull on a good, stiff spine, the shoulder has to take the brunt of that load.  That’s how you get shoulder injuries.  Alright?  So keep that in mind, and I’ll come back to that in just a little bit in the slides.


So the purpose of this presentation today:

  • hopefully share some training methods with you and some ideas,
  • give you some understanding of what I do for functional trainings for competitive swimmers,
  • and we’re going to define the LAPS system.

Now the LAPS system is a really unique deal. it involves four components, four essential components, that swimmers should have—and actually almost every athlete.  So think outside the box right now.  I did not design this system, and I’m going give these guys credit because I learned this from them: Juan Carlos Santana and Grif Fig of the Institute of Human Performance in Boca Raton, Florida.  They designed this system, and it works very, very well.   So I had the opportunity to meet with those guys, I learned some really cool things, and hopefully I can pass that on to you.  So they get all the credit for this.  And then I tweak it a little bit, change some things, all that good stuff; then I try to make it my own.


And then last thing:

  • hopefully give you some new ideas of workouts you can use right away.

If you’re doing dryland training; if not, hopefully this provokes you into starting to do some dryland training with swimmers.


What do we know? We know that the research… there is tons of articles—I’m not going to quote all those things and I do a lot of nerdy reading.  But we know the research says this: resistance training improves stroke rate, it improves the distance traveled per stroke, therefore performance can be improved or enhanced.  So that’s what we know.


This is my favorite all-time slide.  Why?  Because what I see here… you guys see three different animals; I see three badass athletes right here.  Look at this frog, look at those calves: those are superhuman calves.   Nice hammies, nice glutes; he’s got the works going there.  What I see here is triple extension.  For swimmers, two times it occurs—actually it happens in the water—but also at the start and on the flip turn.  Two important critical times, where times can be decreased if they have enough power.


Okay, look at this frog right here.  A frog can jump greater than 20 times its body length in one jump.  I don’t know of any human that could do that.  So if I was five feet tall, I could jump 100 feet in one jump; not possible.  Look at the cheetah: 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in 3 seconds.  Look at the ant: an ant can carry 20 times its body weight—lift and carry 20 times its body weight.  Now to me that’s impressive.  This is what I want to try to achieve for our athletes, whether it is swimmers, golfers, cross-country people, doesn’t matter.  And we try to do this… and I show this to our kids actually.


This is what stiff spines can do for you.  Now, they have some innate behaviors that we don’t, but a stiff spine could do a lot of good things for you.  So keep this in the back of your mind right now.  This is what we’re trying to achieve: core stiffness.


Function in the water, what else we do know?  There’s no ground contact forces.  Alright, this is where the debate gets with a little bit of Olympic lifting, because you’re putting force into the ground to get triple extension.  But there are those two times—the flip turn and the start—where you can dramatically decrease your times.  And that’s the key; the key is to swim faster.  Just like on a track: the track is to run faster.  Okay so the key to this is core stiffness; that is the key to transfer.  Everything that we do is anchored to the core.


Now my definition of the core is a little bit different.  When I talk about core… most people talk about abdominals.  I talk about a chain-link fence, on the front side and the backside.  So everything from my armpit to my ankles, I call the core; posterior, lateral, front, anterior, all that stuff.  Everything pulls on the core.


Take-home message—and this is where I get back to what I said earlier—if you have a rash of shoulder injuries, it’s most likely due to a weak spine.  Most likely.  Why?  Because the lats can’t pull on the spine like it should, because it’s not stiff.  Due to a weak spine, the shoulder picks-up the brunt of the load, then you have chronic shoulder injuries.


So what’s the fix?  The fix is to strengthen the spine.  Work for stiffness, work for good alignment.  If you’re weak in the core and the spine, you lose alignment in the water and you lose pull and kick power.  Which you guys all know about.


This is where the LAPS system comes in.  Four essential components of the system:

  • lower body power—that’s the L,
  • alignment and core rotation—that’s the A,
  • pull and push power—that’s the P,
  • shoulder stability—that’s the S.


(Now I know you guys don’t have these notes.  I didn’t know they were going to be in a book or I’d have brought you all the notes.  You can e-mail me, and I’ll send you this.  And I believe they’re going to have it up on a site as well that you’ll have access to.  So if you don’t want to write, you want to get all this; you’ll get it.)


The goal is to be stronger and more explosive in the water while decreasing the risk of injury.  That’s what it comes down to.  And to train safely.  Technique, where we talk about technique.


And understand this: the lower body is usually the difference-maker in the breaststroke and the butterfly—the lower body.  Leg strength is critical for kicks.  If the legs die in the water, what happens?  The hip sink.  If the hip sink, more resistance, more drag.  Okay?  The freestyle and the backstroke, those generally lend-themselves more to upper body.  More pushing- and pulling-type exercises will enhance the freestyle and the backstroke.  So you can kind of see how the system falls into place.


My top four exercises.  If there’s only four exercises that you could do…. (And you’re going to see all this; you’re going to see everything that I’m getting ready to show you and talk about. Some of these I’m going to go really quick on.)  If there’s only four things that I could do, they would be:

  • reaching lunges: which would be just a lunge with a reach, in all planes of motion there—frontal plane, transverse and the sagittal plane;
  • T-rotational push-ups: doing a push-up, coming-up, T’ing out;
  • one-arm staggered band pulls: that’s with the band (yeah, we do some of that stuff); and
  • band extensions: which would be extending overhead, lengthening out your abdominals.


Those four things could be done almost anywhere; almost anywhere with little to no equipment.  So if you don’t have access to weights, there is ways you could do all this.  (We’re fortunate enough, because we’ve got a pretty nice weight room.)  So those are the things that I would try to do.  If I had no weights at all and no implements of anything, I would be making sure I can get that stuff done, somehow.  And you’ll see all that in just a little bit.


Functional dryland training for swimming, these are the exercises to try.  Remember I talked about the lower body, the L in the LAPS system—those four components.  These are the lower-body exercises that we’re going to try to include, that you’re going to see today in some of the circuits.


So when I get all the swimmers in my weight class, we try to block them all together.  We don’t always do it, but when they come into me, they’ll always do an upper-body strength movement, a lower-body strength movement, and a quick-lift.  Like some type of an Olympic lift: a hand clean, a power clean, a snatch, something; it could be even a med-ball throw, for that much—it doesn’t have to be with weights.  Then when everybody else in that group breaks-off for their supplemental work, the swimmers come and do all this stuff.  And it’s a ton of stuff.


Swim starts would be a lower-body, explosive-power exercise, alright?  Now this dude right here, I don’t know who this is but he’s got a heck of vertical jump for 52 years-old (which would be me, I guess).  So swim start jumps.  So you try to simulate some of the things that you can do in the pool; so these are the types of jumps we’ll do with swimmers.


They’ll actually go down to a two-point stance, hold it for a second or two before they jump.  Because what do they got to do?  In the blocks, you eliminate the stretch-reflex response by holding in that position; you don’t have the luxury of: boom-boom and go.  So we try to mimic this in a weight room with these different types of jumps and starts.  So in this case, we have a parallel-stance start: both feet are even, fingertips are touching the ground, exploding high up to a vertical jump, land, repeat the movement—for whatever reps or time.  Most of the stuff you’re going to see today, I love doing it for time—most of it.


So you have a parallel-stance jump.  You have what I call a track start, because it looks like a track start to me, on the swimmer block.  Which is a staggered-stance jump.  So we just take one foot, we slide it back to about the heel relation—toe-heel relation—fingers on the ground, they hold for two seconds, and then they explode up to a vertical jump.  Pretty simple, very effective.




[audience member]:  Would you recommend doing those on a concrete deck with no shoes?


[Wells]:  I would recommend doing them with no shoes, by all means.  But on concrete?  If there was something you can put down under your feet, like a towel or something that gives it a little cushion.  But the more you could do it without shoes, I would definitely do these without shoes.  Because the toe and the foot then is allowed to move like it should.  When they put shoes on, the shoe knocks all that out of the water.


[audience member]:  How many of these do you do?


[Wells]:  In a workout, it may be 20 jumps, tops.  So if they have 5 jumps in a circuit, they’re going to go four times through 20 jumps.  We’ll never do over… never, never over 60 contacts, ever.  Everybody says oh, yeah you got to do more plyometrics.  Everything we do is a plyometric, essentially; so I don’t go crazy with plyometrics, I really don’t.


So that’s a track start.


Split squat lunges.  Lower-body exercise, can be done with body weight.  If I was going to teach somebody to squat and I wanted to give them lower-body strength, this is what I start with now.  So I put them in a big split (like this).  And I just tell them to drop their hips straight down to the ground and then they come straight up.  So they work for good posture.  And then we can knock it out for reps.


If you really want to get somebody to increase their vertical jump—which swimmers are notoriously bad for jumping, alright, at least the ones I deal with.  Most of the kids I deal with, they can’t tie their shoe and chew gum at the same time.  So I put them in a split squat, like pre-work, like in our little warm-up when they come in to the weight room.  You should see them: they fall all over the place.  It’s incredible, how bad they actually are.


So what we try to do, the key to doing the split squat, is if you see this back knee here, it’s behind this hip.  That’s the key, because that opens-up your hips.  Okay.  So opening-up the hips (and I put it up here) is critical to developing more power, hip mobility.  Open-up the hip flexors is critical; back-leg knee must be behind the hip.  So it’s a good way to teach people how to squat and they get-in good posture.


Still on the lower body: anterior reaches.  Pretty simple little tool here, okay.  And here is the progression.  We just get them in like I’m taking an oath, and I take one hand up and I just go and touch in front of my other leg.  Pretty simple.  But what that teaches is to hinge at the hip.


Yes, question?


[audience member]:  On those split squats, you indicated that they progress into a jump.  Can you go over that real quick?


[Wells]:  Yeah.  So there is a number of ways we can progress this.  If I get it to a split squat and I see them start mastering this, in their workout instead of doing some of the parallel stance and the split stance jumps, they may just do a split jump and hold.  Then if you really want to really torture somebody, you get them in a split squat position, and you go down and you hold this bottom position for 4 seconds.  Now you talk about isometric leg strength—and I’m not loading this up—it’s incredible.  (And we’ll do this at the end.)  You go down there (like my leg is starting to shake already), then we come up fast, and then we go right back down and hold for 4 seconds.  And we try to get to a minute.  If they can get to a minute, they’ve got really good lower-body strength.  Maintaining good posture.   That’s one of my favorite things to do.


If I have a kid that has an ACL knee injury, I make sure….  And it’s crazy all the rehab stuff that I see and that I don’t see.  But I’ll make sure kids are doing this religiously.  Because it’s incredible, that 4 second isometric hold in the bottom with your body weight, and then movement with it and then right back down.  That’s called isodynamic.  It’s going to be a big thing in the future, so you’re hearing it here first.


(Okay, where were we?)  Anterior reaches.  That’s just a single-leg reach, trying to get them to hinge at the hip.  And you can see my back here is a little rounded, I’m not too worried about that because we’re not loaded up.


Still on the lower body: triple-threat hams.  How do we get the posterior change?  This is one of my favorite things to do, with all of our kids.  And we can progress to single leg on this.  So what they’re going to do… (and you’ll see all this in a video—I’m going to speed-up here because I think I’m over a little bit).  We’ll do long hip-ups, we’ll do a leg curl on a ball, and then we’ll do some more long hip-ups or short hip-ups.  So that’s 15-15-15. (And all these are in the description in the program.)




[audience member]:  That’s with a ball; would it be okay if they did that on a bench?


[Wells]:  Oh yeah.  And here is one thing that I would do.  (Hey, this is a very informal, by the way.  If you have questions, ask, because there’s a ton of things that I think I can help you with.)  You could put them on a bench; you can lay your upper back on a bench, feet on the ground.  And you have them hip-up to where their glutes are engaged, and it’s very effective.  You do 15 reps of that with no body weight.  And then you can start loading it up with a dumbbell, single leg, and it’s a very good exercise.


Matter of fact, we’re doing those with all of our kids right now, as their posterior chain work—all of them.  They don’t like them, but it really doesn’t…. If they don’t like it, I know it’s good; so we just keep doing it.


So this is some hamstring posterior chain work. (And I’m just going to kind of speed through some of these so we can get to the video.  And then after the video, if you want to hang around and talk about anything, hey, we’ll do whatever you need to do.)


Another lower-body exercise: one-legged kick drags.  I really like these.  So what we do is we hook a weight up and put a strap on the leg on the ankle.  And what they have to do is they have to pull this leg through and then they take a step, pull it through… and then they go down the floor. Really good hip-flexor strength, really good.


To the alignment and core—and I’ve already defined my core so I’m not going to go through that.  Dynamax Wall Series 1.  (Now I know you guys don’t have this right now, but you will have it.)  This is the whole description of this series; you’re going to see it on video.  So for time’s sake, I’m not going to go through this.  But what we try to do is we try to get 40 reps in 15 seconds.


And then on this next slide, this is still Dynamax Series 1, and it has a description of all the exercises.  Then you’ll see it on the video.  So we’re doing side-to-sides, diagonals, wood chops.  All this is just one series.  Then we go the squares.  Then we go to Dynamax Series 2 is using a med-ball for another way to work the core—which you’ll see in just a little bit.  Stability-ball rollouts to pikes, you’ll see that too; so use a stability ball a lot to do different things with for swimmers.


This is one of my favorite core-strengthening series right here.  So what we’ll do is we’ll do a stability-ball dead bug (and I have a picture in the back), and then the reps are on here.  (I won’t go through all of that.)  We do some in-and-outs, we do some single leg touches, and then we do a hold.


But here is what this looks like.  So here… contralateral is just a fancy name for opposite arm, opposite leg, okay.  So actually what I’m trying to do here, this is incredible… you try this at home, you’ll feel something in your abdominals and your core like you’ve never felt.  So this left knee and this right arm are actually trying to squeeze together; I’m trying to squeeze the ball.  And them I’m reaching with this arm and this leg.  And we’ll do 10-12 of those.  Then they’ll go to in-and-outs, where they’re just rolling the ball in and out into a pike.  Then they’ll put their feet on top of the ball, and they got to hold a good push-up position and take one foot off, put one foot on; it’s very slow.


But look at my shirt right here.  See the wrinkles in my shirt?  That’s good.  That’s called the serape effect, because your body is kind of wired in a cross-diagonal pattern.  So you can see these muscles and the force transfer, and how they have to stabilize right here.


And then we do the knee holds right here.  So that would be some core things that we would do.


We use ropes, for a number of different core exercises.  Different types of slams, in-and-outs for shoulder.  And some of these exercises actually you get double benefit.  So even though it may be a push-pull exercise, it may be a core exercise at the same time.  So we’ll do a number of different series with the ropes.  What I really like doing with swimmers with the ropes, when they get into a circuit, are a prone—where they’re actually laying down in a swimming position on a bench, prone—and supine; I really like those.  We’ll do stability-ball log rolls.


We’ll hold the bosu, which is this.  Now you can really see the wrinkles in the shirt.  So this in a log roll, where my legs are on top of each other and I’m just trying to rotate my feet over and keeping my arms straight.  And then this would be a twister, where my feet are actually going to split and I get explosive.  That takes a while to get to that point.  But look again, see what you see here.


And then this would be a specific core exercise for a swimmer, where they’re actually doing a bosu ball hold.  This is very hard to do.  When I started doing this, I couldn’t do it.  And then I kept practicing and practicing and finally I got to the point where… I hollered at my wife come take a picture, I finally got it, because it took me a while to do this.  So we’re trying to hold this streamline position, right centered on top of that ball.  And once again look at the shirt; see the wrinkles in the shirt?  It’s not because I didn’t iron it.


Alignment core: we do a number series of planks.  The T-plank, which you’ll see, I really like a lot.  The leg has to come over to the back.  They’re holding a T position.  So now you get shoulder stability and core at the same time.  A number of different T-plank reaches, where you’ve got three points of reference: opposite arm, opposite leg, one arm, one leg, another arm, other leg—it could be any combination of these.  But once again, look and see what you see here.  Alright?  So there is a lot of core work being done there, and it’s not the traditional crunch-type thing.


Push-pull exercises (and I’m going to go really quick through these).  Swimmers (and I have some pictures of these), alternating swimmers and these are using bands.  So a swimmer would be a full extension with a push back.  And then we could do those alternating arm; we could do a single arm, single leg forward.  There is a ton; whatever you come up with, whatever I could dream up, we do.  Because I’ve got to keep them challenged a little bit.


Here is an example of a swimmer right here.  See the hinge at the hip, pulling down, getting my hands past my knees.  Single-arm, alternating swimmers; and then just a single-arm, one-side swimmer.  So we’re getting into some shoulder stability and some lat strength as well.  And you want to try to develop good lat strength in swimmers.


Push pull exercises, we use XTs—our version of a TRX, okay.  I just like them better; you don’t have to move straps around all the time and all that stuff.  And we’ll do usually three cycles of this, which is about 90-105 reps.  So you can see why doing some of this stuff allows you to shrink your volume down in the pool.


And what we’ll do on these, we’ll do Ys (and you’ll see a picture here). So we’ll hold our bodyweight up here.  We’ll do rows, and then we’ll do an underhand close-grip.  And each time they do these they’re going to move their feet closer to underneath the fulcrum.  So here is a Y, keeping your wrist rigid.  Here is a row; just a bodyweight row.  And then they move their feet closer and then they do an underhand grip row.  So they do 10 of those, 10 of those, 10 of those; that’s one set.  So that’s 30 reps in a set.  And at the same time they’re trying to keep good alignment here.  If they start losing alignment then I stop them because there is no point, she can’t say aligned then stop.


Push pull exercises continue.  This is the progression of the rollout on the stability ball.  We start against the wall.  And look at this (this is a really good picture of this, the serape effect right here).  So you can see how the lats and the abdominals have to work here.  So we start up against the wall; they just rollout and not losing….  So I wouldn’t want them in an L position here; I want them nice and straight.  So they’re streamlined.  And then we progress to eventually where they can get on a ball.  And then once again look, you see here.


Some overhead med-ball slams.  I really like the slams overhead.  It get shoulder, lats; most people think it’s a core exercise but it’s really… we do it for our lats.  So we take a med-ball overhead, and we slam it right into the ground.  We do rainbow slams also, where they’re coming over the top and they’re pivoting on the back foot coming over the front side.


We do a metabolic back circuit that I really like.  Which in this case, metabolic back, we do 20 rows on those bands.  We go 20 rows, 20 alternating rows—where they are bent over—and then they go to 20 swimmers and finish with 10 slams.  So look at the volume here: 70 reps.  And they get your heart-rate jacked-up.  So I can actually condition the same time.  And high school kids, they need that.


I don’t think I can over-train a high school kid, unless I have somebody that has a shoulder injury.  Like I have one swimmer right now that she injured her shoulder last year and she is a really good swimmer.  So like when she does all of her presses and overhead stuff, they’re modified.  I’ll block her; I’ll put a block of wood, full board, in there and she won’t do a press but only a small range of motion.  And she feels great now.  So some of those really long-limbed, long-arm people, you got to be careful of.  That’s metabolic back, which you’ll see all this in video.


Shoulder stability.  We do a three-position shoulder stability, where they’re sitting on a ball.  They start-out here, palm up, overhead, back down.  This is incredibly challenging—incredibly challenging.  So there’s three exercises, and they repeat the pattern.  Where they’ll go here, thumbs up, back overhead, back down; and then they’ll do it thumbs down.  This is one of the hardest things to do right there.


T-push-ups.  We do a lot of T push-ups, especially in our pre-work stuff that we do.  The ropes, like I talked about: lying on a bench, backstroke, all that stuff.  So here is what the ropes actually look like (and then you’ll see it in a video here a little bit).  So this will be a prone rope slam; actually it’s alternating ways.  This is a shoulder T-stability push-up, and this would be a supine, incline rope slam.


Now, when you get all this stuff, you’re going to see all these different circuits.  Don’t be alarmed by this, because you’ll see all this.  I have about 15 videos up here.  So these are circuits that I like to put the swimmer through as their supplemental work.  And I’m not going to go through all these, but you’re going to see most of these—that’s why I want to get to the video as fast as I can.  Now notice in here I put in LB, LB is Lower Body, PP is Push Pull, lower body power of push pull, lower body power alignment core rotation, shoulder stability, shoulder stability, shoulder stability; and then you can mix them anyway you want.


Circuit 2, in this case, notice this is set up by reps.  So 5 reps of an RDL [Romanian dead lift], 3 reps of a track start long jump, 12 reps of a T-rotation push-up, and 20 stability ball twisters or log rolls—because most of them can’t do the twisters yet.  And then somebody asked the question about how many jumps do you do? Well in this case we’ll do 4 rounds of this circuit so there’s 12 jumps.  So it’s not a ton.


Start-turn circuit.  This is our start-turn circuit: stability ball the triple threat ham stuff, and this is usually for time on this: 30 seconds on, 15 second off and rotate.  Jump squats with staggered track starts, med ball lunges, split jumps.


Stroke and power circuit.  Basically this whole thing right here for the lats and upper back.  Now notice right here I put in a little description.  When we do this we’ll do four rounds of it; of 30 seconds on, 15 seconds of rest.  So they’re going 30 seconds here, 15 seconds of rest in transition, 30 seconds here, 15 in between, 30 here, 30 here.  And then 1 minute of rest after a round, and then they start back over.


Lower body mini-circuit.  And this is reps now.  5 reps of a parallel squat, 5 reps of hurdle jumps, one-arm-band swimmers, stability ball rollouts.  Then I’ll just tell them how many reps are doing.


And then another circuit: reaching lunges, three-point planks, med-ball slams, band extensions.


So like I said: you don’t need a lot of equipment to do all this stuff, or a fancy weight room.  It could be anywhere; it could be on the deck of your pool.


[audience member]:  How long do you give them, the time period?


[Wells]:  Usually it’s 30-15 or 20-15.  I just like doing everything with time.


Circuit 7.  Now these are reps here; if you notice these are reps.  So dumbbell lunges, 5 reps per leg; split jumps, 5 reps per leg; rows, 12 reps; band rotations.  You’ll see these circuits in just a little bit.


This is the most painful thing in the world right here; this is what we call super legs.  So they do: 24 bodyweight squats, 24 lunges, 24 split jumps, and then 12 rocket jumps.  All in a sequence.  If you want to develop leg strength.  And this is not loaded; this is just bodyweight.  It’ll do it, and then whey get really good, they can use dumbbells.


Some other circuit examples.  These are just other examples of things that you could do.  For time: 30 seconds on, 15 seconds rest.  Med-ball squat-and-press, rope slams, swimmers using a flexi-bar—I have a little bar that looks like a bow and arrow where they do some shoulder stability work, it’s cool and they kind of like it.


And then here is an example of how you can put a whole team—a twenty-person team—circuit together.  (Which I don’t have this one on the video, we just didn’t have enough video space.  And the video is not professional by any means, it’s just kids going is what it is).


Okay, questions before we start the video?  (Because the video is about 28 minutes.)




[audience member]:  This is for high school athletes, obviously.  I’m also coach Age Group athletes; so how early would you start?


[Wells]:  Here is how you determine what age to start them: if they can handle coaching and a little bit of criticism, they’re ready.  Somebody always told me: praise loudly, criticize softly.  So just keep that in my mind.  Question right there.


[audience member]:  What do you recommend for spine strengthening?


[Wells]:  You’re going to see some in just a second.  And then when we get done if you want to see some other stuff, we’ll go up here and go to work.


Like I said, the video is not professional.  Actually it’s me doing a lot of the video, and while I’m yelling at kids.  So you won’t hear the volume, I hope.  (Actually, I’m going to mute it.)  In the video, I do narrate what’s going on—at least, I’m trying to.


Okay now this actually starts with an example of some power work.  So we’re doing hang cleans right here, to actually a dumb-bell/bodyweight power jump.  So we do those Olympic movements, but all their supplemental stuff is all the stuff that I just showed you.  And then we combo those and go right to some jumps.  Just so you can see some… (and those two girls are actually swimmers; these two girls going right here are swimmers).  So she does 5 hand cleans, she goes right to a dumb-bell bodyweight jump; so she is working for triple extension.


[audience member]:  So do any of those start with freshman?


[Wells]:  Yeah.


Okay, here is a mini circuit; this is the first circuit.  Now this is the first times these girls did this.  I think there’s 12 girls in here.  So you’re going to see they’re doing all kinds of stuff.  They’re doing log rolls, they’re doing med-ball squats, here’s the overhead slam (right here, the girl in the green).  They’re doing shoulder and T-push-ups.  If they can’t do a T-push-up, we just do a bodyweight shoulder touch.   There’s a swimmer, right there.  There’s my proctor (sitting down); she is watching them all.


And then they’ll rotate through this circuit here.  There’s a med-ball squat.  Like I said, there’s no weight.  (I know it is a little dark from my point of view.)  There’s some slams, there’s some flexi-bar in there.  So you can see all this is flowing through.  Bodyweight squat jumps.  Actually (right here) they’re trying to do one-arm rope slams.  Now, this is the first time these girls have ever done this, so it’s a little tricky.  Here’s the log roll on the stability ball.  (And I think I zero-in on some of these.)  There is a med-ball squat-and-press.  In the background over there you can see the girl doing the shoulder-touch instead of a T-push-up—she is just not strong enough yet to do a T push-up.  Flexi-bar for shoulder stability going over their head


So essentially what you have here is you have a 10-station circuit.  And that’s how many girls I had in this particular class of swimmers; so these are all the swimmers.  So while this is going on, I have another group in the other side of our weight room doing their stuff.  So this is specific for the swimmers.


Bodyweight squat jumps, there is the overhead slam, there is the one-arm rope slam, there is the swimmers.  And you’ll see in a little more explosive here in a little bit.  There is a one-arm rope slam—and I think I get a video.  (There we go.)  So she is actually trying to get some wave in a rope.


And I think this one was 30 seconds on, 15 second off.  So they get some rest time in between there.  There is a shoulder touch you.  (See how high she is?)  So you’re going to see a lot of good things, you’ll see a lot of poor technique too, which is what you guys would be faced with.  So you just coach them over time; you get better, you get better, you get better.  And that’s a hard thing for a high school kids to understand is: it’s consistency over time.  Because training is a cumulative effect, and they can’t usually see till tomorrow.


There’s a T-rotation push-up, right here.  Now if we have time at the end somebody remind me to show you the correct way to do a push-up.  Because there is actually some secrets to do a really good push-up, and you can develop a lot of upper-body strength just doing push-ups.


And then I think we’re getting ready to go on here to the next sequence here.  There is a log roll, where they’re trying to lock it in.  See how she is breaking at the waist.  There are shoulder touches: just another way to do upper-body shoulder-stability work.  So we’re just touching the shoulder.  See how her hips turn-off to the side there?  Now if she were doing this now, she would not be turning those hips—that’s how much she has progressed at this.


Alright, here is the next sequence.  Okay these are RDLs; so in this case she is going to do 5 RDLs.  She is going to go to the track-start jumps.  And in this case they’re just doing reps.  So all these girls, they have all the stuff set up (as you can see) and then they’re just moving-through for reps.


There is a staggered stance jump.  (Like I said, this is the first time she has done it; I’d rather see her get her butt up in the air, instead of her head up, because that’s not how she is going to be on the blocks.)


T-rotation push-up.  Remember I said if there are only four things I could do, this would be one of them.  Because you get an incredible strength in shoulder stability and core work at the same time.  To they try to turn their feet and T-out at the same time.


There is the bosu-ball hold in the background.  See them holding it there.  And a couple of these girls are really good at this; I mean, you can tell they’ve got some really good, stiff spines and they can lock it in there.


Then after this then we’re going to go the start-turn circuit, so you’ll see that on here.  (Like I said, the video is fairly long so we’ve got some time.)  There’s a log roll.  See how her right elbow collapses in?  So we’re actually trying to lock that out, with no elbow bend.


And I was a little leery about these, about L5 vertebrate.  Because in your body, your low back is only meant to rotate 15°, but yet everybody trains it to rotate more.  And that’s why people get low-back injuries.  And then your upper back really is supposed to have all the mobility in it, and yet it’s the one that’s always locked up and nobody works for a mobility in it.  So it doesn’t make sense.  But as you notice on those log rolls, the low back isn’t even moving; it’s just the hips that move around.


And this is in real-time, so you’re actually seeing them do the work for the time or the reps.  Those are RDLs, Romanian Dead Lifts—although the Romanians didn’t invent it, I don’t know why we call it that.


[audience member]:  Is this video available on your website?


[Wells]:  No, but I have 15 copies with me if you want one.


Okay here is the start-turn circuit.  So they’re doing stability-ball bridges, or hip ups; they’re doing jump squat with staggered starts; and then they’re going to do a med-ball lunges; and then they’re going to go to split jumps.




[audience member]:  They don’t look like they’re holding for more than two seconds.


[Wells]:  No, this was the first time we’ve done this.  Yeah.  I want them to hold, it in the bottom.  This is just a lunge with a twist over the front leg.


This girl right here, she’s not too enthused to be doing this. [laughter]  And you’ll have some of those.  Neither is this girl.  These two don’t work very hard.  The other ones that I have, they work pretty hard, they’re pretty motivated.


There is the split jumps, just bodyweight split jumps.  And like I said this is the first time; eventually they’ll start getting higher and they’ll start dropping deeper.


Now this goes into the stroke circuit, the power circuit; so these are swimmers.  Now this girl is a pretty decent swimmer.  And we’ll fix her: she is a lot better at this now.  I wish I had a before-and-after picture, because when she does this now, she gets full extension over the top, comes back behind the ears.  You can see how she is a little bit in front of her face here, and she hinges at the hip a lot better now.  So I know this stuff works.


So she’s resting right now.  So what she is going to do is: she is doing swimmers, she is going to do bent-over rows with the bands, she is going to do an overhead med-ball slam, and then she is going to do a stability-ball rollout.  So this would all be for the lats and the upper back.  So you can target areas or you could train total body; you can mix-and-match it however you want to do it—that’s a whole another topic.


See how she is not real explosive here, yet.  You should see her now, after a year of training.  Now she is going to go to a stability-ball rollout.  Now watch… watch and see if she keeps this hip lined-up with this shoulder.  Okay.  See how she gives a little bit at the end?  And eventually progress up to where they’re on their toes and they’re just going out with their arms.  And then eventually we take some valslides and put them under their hands, and then they do a rollout with a lot of friction so they have to pull on the way back.


Okay, now she is going to go through it again.  These are alternating swimmers this time; so she’s alternating.  And I’d like to see her get a little more extension with her arms and a lot more row.  Then we just hook our bands onto our platforms, a little caribiner clip that I bolted on there that we can just take them on and off.


And these are what we call JC bands, so they are a double band, they have a little loop on the end, and there is a band that comes off into a T, so it’s two bands.  A very versatile piece of equipment.  So if you don’t have a weight room and you have some money to buy something, these would be the things to buy.  They’re not real expensive.  If you ever want equipment go to Perform Better, ( and ask for Chris Poier and you’ll get a big discount on equipment.  It’s spelled P-O-I-E-R, but it’s pronounced poy-yay.


So once again all these swimmers are doing this little stroke circuit here.  Okay, this is a lower-body mini-circuit.  So what she is going to do is: 5 reps of a good squat, then she is going to go to 5 hurdle jumps.  Now this is the first time she has jumped what I call a repeat jump, so it’s going to be a little ugly.  (It’s not too bad.)  See she should stick that last landing and see how slow she is off the floor.  So she is doing 5 squats, 5 jumps, one-arm-band swimmers—so she is just do a one arm on the swimmer now—and then she’ll finish with a stability-ball rollout.


So usually I have about 48 kids at one time; I think my smallest group is 33.  So I’ve got to stay on-top of stuff.  But once I teach this to the swimmers—and now they know it all—then I just program it up on the board, okay this is your supplemental work, and they go right to it.  I don’t have to worry about them; for the most part, they’re pretty self-motivated.


Okay here is the rollout.  Now she is doing a lot better job here.  Then eventually we get her to go out a little bit further.


[audience member]:  Do you want the lower back to arch like that?


[Wells]:  Nah. She has just got a natural… this girl has a really natural lordotic curve in her back.


Okay, this is another circuit where they’re doing reaching lunges—these are reaching lunges.  And then they’re going to go to a three-point plank.  And this is what I call a lunge complex.  So they do 6 lunges to the front, they do 6 lateral lunges. (See how this girl turns her foot; we don’t want her to turn her foot.)  And then they go into the transverse plane and they do a transverse lunge; where they’re trying to keep that front foot at twelve o’clock and that back foot at five o’clock.  This is a great, great ACL knee prevention program right here.


And then you’re going to go to… there is a three-point plank.  Trying to lock-in, with no hip-shift—that’s what I tell them. Actually, what I tell them is this: you’ve got a quarter between your ass cheeks, try to bend it.  That’s what I tell them.  I tell them to hold their money.  And they just do this for time.


Then they’re going to the med-ball slams overhead.


Also know, see how this girl’s little ponytail flips-up in the back?  That’s why I like training girls because I get immediate feedback.  I know they’re developing some force; there is force transfer going through the ground, through their body, up through their head.


And these are what we call band extensions.  See how they’re rotating, they’re pivoting, on that opposite foot?  So what they do is reaching down the middle, they’re going outside one knee, back to the middle, outside the other knee.  This is one of my favorite core exercises too—actually there is a ton of them, but this is one my favorite.  And she makes it look easy, but she’s done this a couple of times.


Okay, here is the split squat.  Just so you can see what the spit squat actually looks like.  Here is the split jump.  See how she drops deep.  I really don’t care how high she gets, I just want her to drop deep.  So all those things that we talk about.


There is a progression of an anterior reach, pretty simple.  Then she is going to progress to… (I don’t know if we put it on here).  So she is just taking her opposite hand, touching her opposite toe.  Now we progress to one leg; so we now we’re balancing on one leg.  So we start on two legs, because their balance is very poor—remember I said they can’t chew gum and tie their shoes at the same time.  And then we actually have more progressions off of that.


Here’s a double-leg hip0up on the stability ball.  Very good hamstring/low back/glute tie-in.  Leg curl on the ball; so you hip-up, hold that hip-up, in-and-out.  And then they could progress to the single leg.  This girl can actually do this 15 reps on each leg, three times through, with no rest now.  And then she does the hip-up within a long a longer level.


This is the Dynamax Series 1.  Okay she is doing side-to-side touches.  Remember I said we want core stiffness?  This is one of my favorites.  She is touching the wall as fast as she can go, with no rotation.  She’s trying to resist the rotation that the ball is putting on her.  These are diagonals.  So she is trying to get 40 of those contacts in 15 seconds, then she rests or her partner goes—in this case we’re just showing you the video.  Very good core stuff here, very good core stuff.  Every time the ball touches the wall, counts as one rep.  Diagonals the other way.


(We’re getting close to the end here, so just hang on, stay with me.)


Wood chops.  Nothing touches the wall but the ball.


That ball is actually a 12-pound ball; now this girl is really advanced.  I usually start them with 4-pound balls.  So I have 4s, 6s and 8s.  If you’re going to get some of these, I would definitely get 4s, 6s and 8s.  But this is a 12-pounder, and she’s knocking this out pretty good.  This is a square so she is going: up, down right, up left, down left, and back across.


This is Dynamax Series 2.  Knee punch, knee punch, come up throwing.  10 punches, right back to it.  Knee punch, knee punch, between the legs, back overhead, come up throwing, right back to it.  Repeat it, and that’s one set.  Very good core stuff.


There is the progression for the rollouts.  Then we go to the floor.  Then we go to a push-up position.  Then we can go on to the ball.  Actually, another really good one that I like is when they’re holding themselves in the push-up position on the ball, and all they do is just roll the ball a little bit to one direction.  So they go clockwise, counterclockwise, and then small in-and-outs.  It’ll tear your abs up.


There is the dead-bug series.  Then she is going to go to the touches.  And she is trying to go… see how deliberate she is here.  It’s not a fast thing.  Then she’ll go to the in-and-outs.


(We’re on the core stuff right now we got a little bit shoulder stuff left then we’ll be done.)


There’s the holds.  Look at this position, right here.  See that?  What does that look like to you guys?  Out of the blocks.  Flip turn on the wall.  That’s what you want to try to get to.


Here is an example of drummers on the ropes.  Very good shoulder work, arm work, core work.  Here is double slams.  So we use a lot of tools.


[audience member]:  What kind of ropes are those?


[Wells]:  These ropes are actually 25-pound ropes, I believe.  And I think they’re 40 footers.


In-and-outs, trying to make waves on the floor.  Squat-and-lunge or squat-and-drummers at the same time; you could do any combination of these you wanted.  Here we go on to bench.  I love that exercise; there is a lot of things going on there.  Then supine on an incline.


There’s a start plank.  See how the top leg has to come over and touch, and she holds that T-push-up position.  That’s one of my favorite core exercises, because there is a ton of stuff going on right there—a ton.  So what we’re trying to do here is… (see this?).  Look at this, this is pretty good.  See that alignment.  And she’s looking right up at this top hand the whole time.  And she takes this back leg over to back, holds it, tries to keep the hips up high.  When you go home try that.


There is a three-point planks—you can mix it up anyway you want it.  You see how when she goes opposite arm or in left arm, she has got a little bit of a hip-shift.  This girl is really strong.


Okay here is the triple threat back.  There is the Ys.  Moves her feet in a little closer, she does some rows—the rows aren’t very good.  Then she got to move her feet even closer, slides it right in, tries to keep… now see how she is bending here?  We don’t want that; we want to keep everything nice and straight.  And then she does 10 more palms-up rows.


Here is the metabolic back in real time.  So she is doing 20 of these.  Look at the extension in the top; now it is happening real fast, so it’s kind of hard to see.  20 rows.  (She needs to back-up a little bit more, the band is too light for her.)  20 alternating rows.  So right now, she is getting ready to complete 60 reps.  Then she finishes off with 10 overhead med-ball slams, so that’s 70 reps.  And then she is going to do the same sequence, so you can see it again.  This is our metabolic back circuit.


And there is alternating one arm.  There is single-arm swimmers.  This is hard to do, because the band actually wants to pull you back.  Overhead med-ball slam, that she is going to show you.  Here’s a diagonal slam coming up.  Now she’s is really slowed it down, because I told her slow down for a video.  See how she’s turning her feet and coming over to top, that’s one of my favorite core exercise.


Here is the shoulder workout that I told you about; shoulder stability.  These are palms-up, horizontal flies.  She’ll do 5 each of these.  And I like them on a stability ball on this.  Just gives a little variation, where they’ve got to be a little bit unstable.  I’m not big on that stuff, but I like it on a stability ball.  So now she’s in a thumbs-up position.  And this is real-time, she’s actually doing a whole bang here.  And then its thumbs down, palms down.


(Okay we’re almost done; we’ll be done in 5 minutes.)  I knew I had a lot of stuff and there’s so much we could talk about.


T push-ups.  (And we’re on the last part of this anyway.)  Here is what a T push-up looks like. A lot of bang for your buck right there.


[audience member]:  Is that a push-up that you normally do?


[Wells]:  Well, fairly close.  Here is what I teach on push-ups.  (I’ll just let this roll; there is stability-ball pike.)


On push-ups here is what I try to do.  I want everybody to know this.  I teach: you draw a midline with the midline of your body.  And you want your arm somewhere… make an arrow with your arms, so somewhere here.  I don’t like them here, I don’t like them at 90-90.  I try to stay away from as much 90-90 position, here, overhead pressing, and here, as I can.  Alright?  So we try to get them in an arrow: arrow with this arm, arrow with this arm, midline.  And then I try to get their fingers to slightly point out, because you’ve got more receptors in this part of your hand than just about the rest of your body.  So if they can learn to develop strength that way, you could increase strength in your presses quite a bit.


One of my favorite push-up routines is this, now.  I don’t remember where I picked it up, so I can’t give the person credit.  We’ll get in a push-up position and we’ll do three push-ups in the very bottom; I mean 1, 2, 3.   Then we’ll go to the middle of that push-up, do 3.  And then we do 3 full.  And then we repeat that 3 more times.  That’s one set, so that’s 27 reps in a set.  Alright?


I don’t even care if… girls will always ask me: can I do a push up on my knee?  No.  I don’t care if your range of motion is this far.  Just get yourself in the right position, and over time you’re going to get better and better and better.


Okay, I think I’m running out of time.  I certainly appreciate the opportunity to share some ideas with you, because like I said: everything I’ve learned I’ve learned from some other really good people and just tweaked it a little bit and made my own system out of it.  If I can help you in anyway, my e-mail is up there, just e-mail me.


Appreciate your time.



##### end #####




Juggling Club and High School Programs by Derek Howorth, Alamo Area Aquatice & Northside I.S.D. (2013)

Hello, thanks for coming.  Well George [Block] left, so I can tell you that George is one of the best guys you could ever meet.  I was so privileged to be able to swim under him.  Just an amazing man, all the things that he does, just great.  So that being said…


The George Block Aquatic Center [on slide].  For me this is where the whole thing started.  I fell in love with the sport; it was a really a challenging thing that I never really thought that I would ever have the opportunity to do.  And so this is kind of the pool where we grew-up swimming, where I grew up swimming.  It is one of three 50-meter facilities that we have in our school district, and I will get a little bit more on that a little bit later.  But this is kind of where it all started for me.


Kind of traditionally, you got to talk about some of your accomplishments.  For me it is, what am I doing as a coach.  Those are some of the things that I was lucky enough to be able to do.  I was able to get mentored under some really good coaches; two of which are actually here, three including George, right.  One was at Florida Aquatic Swim Team, and now it is called Gator Swim Club; and there I was the Age Group coach.  The head coach kind of quit or got fired—I do not remember exactly what happened—and then they asked me to take over.  And Gregg Troy was a huge help in what I liked… or in helping me organize the team.  And he said: anytime come on over, talk to me, see what we got going on.  And I did, and I got to pick his brain a lot, and I was really pretty lucky to be able to do that.  Mike Curley, he is in the stands right there; he is with Highlander Aquatics.  He taught me how to really have a ball on the deck with the kids.  And I was only there for a year, but it was a great year and great memorable year for me.  Beyond that I was with Fleet Swimming, Clayton Cagle—if are you over there, thanks.  And I hope I was able to bring some of the enthusiasm that Mike taught into Clayton’s program.  And again with all the things that these guys are doing, I was able to really learn a lot and I will kind of share with you as we go along why those things came along.


Obviously, I swam at Texas, so I got some Eddie Reese stuff there.  And now I am currently with N.I.S.D.: Northside Independent School District.  And then I was also in 2009 ASCA Fellow.  So there we go.


The ideal plan—we are just going to cut to the chase and then I can finish, right.  The high school coaches coach summer league swim teams.  When you get the high school coaches coaching this, they get their summer league teams to join the club team.  And then on the back-side, they get to see those same swimmers come back onto their high school teams.  It is the ideal thing.  In addition to that you want to look at: how do you get your club coaches to also help-out with the high school coaches that are in your service area.  So ideally you are going to have the high school coaches coaching your summer league teams, and they will have a philosophy for that team.  And then they are going to hire swimmers or your club coaches to try to help develop that area.  Does that make sense?  So every high school dynasty starts out in this fashion.  That is the ideal scenario (golly day, excuse me).


So getting back to our facility, we have got a 50-meter pool by 20-yard pool with bulkheads.  It is very versatile, because you can move those bulkheads: we can have long course, short course meters, short course yards and then 20 yards.  In the scenario that we are in currently is that we have so many people and so many programs going-on at our facility at one time, that we have to be… we have to use, 20 yards in the evening times with our club.  The high school portion what we try to do is we go 25 yards on one end and then 25 meters on the other end.


Where I am currently coaching, it is kind of where the inner-city and middle-class meet.  And so it is a really unique scenario, in that you have got parents that are pretty motivated to help out and get their kiddos to the pool, and then you have got parents that are completely unmotivated to get their kiddos to the pool.  Because sometimes these kiddos have to go out and get a job to help pay for some of the bills at home, pay for the electricity and things along those lines; and it makes it really pretty difficult.


So when we are balancing all those things, we have to take those things into consideration to make sure that we provide great opportunities for the kids to get jobs.  Maybe get jobs at our pool as a lifeguard or as a swim instructor and all those things.  But then we also look into making sure that they do not overlap with: hey, we have practice time going on when we have lessons.  Because we have lessons, swimming team and diving going on now at the same time, outside of… that is the club portion; the high school portion is just high school swimming so.


In the end George really found an amazing way to get a dream [second] facility and we will get to that in a little bit.  The first seven years we operated as two sites, operating independently.  And that means we had one head coach for one site, developing the philosophy, sharing with the kiddos this is what we are doing, sharing with the coaches this is what we are doing.  And it was both the high school coaches and the club coaches; and then that was being done on two different levels.  It was nice for me at the beginning, right.  So you could get there.  And we had a smaller program because of the nature of having that the inner-city/middle-class crossroad.  So it was a little bit of smaller intimate programs.  So we had a lot more flexibility than the other site, which was huge numbers.  Definitely strong middle-class to upper-middle-class type folks, that could get their kids… moms who were not working, so they could get their kiddos to practice.


And so the flexibility that we had for us was saying: okay, so how are we going to provide the program that is going to allow this system to work to where we get them going from summer leaguers to age groupers to high school swimmers and then on to college.  And so we basically ended-up locking ourselves into the room, okay.  And then figuring things out—we got all of our coaches into one room, it was nice.


So the unique situation about the school district is that they are purchasing these large facilities for great use.  We have five high school teams that train at the same time.  And that is five personalities, and it is six including myself, right.  One of them was a head coach—and that was me, the head coach.  For the first four years there was a lot of struggle; we had a lot of coaches that really were not on-board with how are we going to get these things done.  So that was a lot of people that said I’m out of here or I’m going to cause a lot of conflict with you, and so it was a lot of things that was really uncomfortable to grow through.  But in the end, right now, we ended-up having five high school coaches that really care about the kids, and that is when we were able to really put ourselves in that room—like we talked about—and say what are we going to do and how are we going to accomplish the goal of getting these kids to swim fast.


There is a lot of give, when we figure this thing out.  We had to give… everybody had to give a lot more than they ever imagined; and myself included, because I had certain standards that I expected to be met.  And it turned out that I could just shift them into different areas.  But it was absolutely uncomfortable.  And actually Chris Van Slooten was there for the very beginning phases of that.  Again we had smaller high school teams; you know we have high school teams that have 6 kiddos on it to 16 kiddos on it.  And then there are other high school teams, even within our school district, that ended-up having 40 and 50 kids on it; and that is at the other facility that I was talking about.  But again, it provided a lot of flexibility in the end that I really appreciated.


So another part of the unique situations is that we have an Athletic office, and they really drive the boat with what is happening with here.  To the point where it was saying: Look everything is high school driven.  You can run swim meets, but do not let running a club swim meet get in the way of running the high school stuff, because that is why we are here.


So standards.  You know, five high school teams, one varsity standard.  We had weekly meetings to discuss the basic stuff.  We actually had… we would just go to a little restaurant right down the street and just sit and talk for an hour; every Monday morning.  And it was… some of it was uncomfortable.  It was really pushing buttons and saying: alright look, I do not think that you push the kids in the right way; I think you are… this, that and the other.  And it was everybody; everybody would cross the room and talk about the things that they really appreciated and did not appreciate about what was going on.


For me my job was to make sure that we were all taking care of the school district things.  What does it need to happen so that we are staying within the rules and making sure that we are doing a great job with that?  Are our forms being turned in?  Are our… are the U.I… for us it is the UIL, the University Interscholastic League, which governs high school sports in our state; so we are always staying within the UIL rules?


We went to meeting every 6-8 weeks, to discuss the larger picture stuff.  And those things included: What is the season plan going to look like?  Are we following the season plan?  It went into the philosophy of: okay, well we have these kiddos that need to be sprinting, these kiddos that probably need a little bit more distance-type stuff.  And again, we would revisit: what are we willing to do for the athletes?  And for us, we decided that we are willing to have the uncomfortable conversations to make sure that the athletes benefit in the long run.


So what we ended up coming up with was: we are going to combine all the teams.  We were operating as five independent high school, plus a high-performance group for all the kids that were a little bit faster.  And so what we ended up doing, again, was combining those teams.  And what we got out of it was: the team that had 6 could compete with the teams that had 16.  And so we had, instead of 6 and 8 and 10 and 12, we had 60 kids that could come-in and do a great job and that created a whole lot of energy.  And the kids really, at first, did not like it, because I want my coach, I think this person should do that.  But in the end, they got a lot faster.


So I think some of the things you have got to do is just talk about the facts.  When you are going to coordinate this stuff, it is going to be difficult, it is going to uncomfortable.  The good news is that they should support each other; and the better that you work together, the better the athletes are going to get.  And for us, I know all the coaches that I have met—the high school coaches and the club coaches—they all are in it for the benefit of the kids.  So be willing to have the uncomfortable conversations for that, okay.


And then moving forward, looking at high school.  You know it is a four-year developmental plan, usually 14 to 17-18.  It is usually, right?  Sometimes kids move-in or move-out.  With high school you are talking about eight events, that is basically… the yardage there right, you see you have an average of a 168 yards in any given race.  With the club stuff, you are looking at a 10 year development plan.  And those are just wildly different things, right.  Again you can see the average there.  The numbers are just different, so you have got to learn how to manage that well.


(I had this unique setup where I was going to use it off my iPhone, and they did not have a wifi so I had to kind of go back to some paper and my little side notes.)


So again the requirements: it requires a lot of communication.  Again we work with weekly meetings, and we would really hash those things out.  And I had one coach, he was just such a type-A guy, he would just get in everybody’s face about stuff: look, I do not like this and this, that and the other.  And finally, everybody kind of kept taking-on a little bit of that persona and standing their ground.  And to me it was not necessarily the most comfortable thing, but it was a great thing to see some of our coaches grow-up and talk about real issues.  Because for a while there, we had a couple of coaches that just… they behaved like children.  They were the coaches were the kid’s friends; and we did not need that.  We needed coaches, so that the athletes could step-up and rise to the challenge.


Again during those weekly meetings, we talked about keeping our message consistent with our meetings that we had every 6-8 weeks.  That hey, we talked about this, and these are the things that we need to do so that we could all get in step and do.  We also talked about trying to leave our egos at the door you know, and that is very difficult to do.  I am just as proud of what those kiddos are doing as the next person, and that is a good thing; but we all had to decide that it is about the kids and not about ourselves.


And, again, sometimes you are going to disagree about almost everything.  When you have six people in a room, you are not going to get six people on the same page.  So it is about that compromise and making sure that you do what is best for the kids.  And that was, for us, we kept saying: alright how is this going to benefit all of the athletes?


Some of our successes as a result of really hashing through all of this stuff is that….  From 2006 to 2010, we did not do… we did it all separate, right.  And then we finally started saying, basically… through 2011, excuse me, everything was separate.  So we basically had 14 people that finaled at the District meet; we had a 6 people final at the Region meet.  And basically everything before that was about the same.  In 2012, we actually had 28 finalists: we doubled the numbers.  And for us, that was the first year that we had this combined program thing that we said: we are all going to do whatever it takes for the kids.


28: we doubled the number of finalists there for the district meet, which to us was, we were leaving the District meet thinking this is great, you know, we have got 28 kids going to Regions, this is great.  Then we moved on to the Region meet, and we had 16 people final.  Which was, hands down, the best we had ever done, as our facility was concerned.  And then we actually had one person make the State meet; it was a boy.  It was a up-and-coming young lad, that actually coach Chris Van Slooten coached. Really good kiddo, great family, and was from one of those inner-city type schools.  And just did a great job; ended up going 4:33 in the 500 free.  That was great from a guy that started it 5:20 his freshman year.


And then 2013, which is this past year, we had a… again we kind of dropped in the numbers there at the District meet; but our Region meet numbers went up a little bit and we had a lot more quality-type stuff: they were top-5 instead of bottom-16.  And we also had someone make the State meet again; this time it was a sophomore female.  And in my eyes, I am thinking, this is a great thing for the overall programming, that we have somebody that is making the State meet as a sophomore.  It is not a guarantee that they are going to make it beyond that, but I believe that this a young lady that is going to continue to work hard and do great things.  So those were some of our successes.


So the direction of success.  I love this little visual [on slide].  Because you always kind of set out and make your plan; and it is a straight arrow, that is where we are going and everything.  It is really the thing on the right.  Because you have people everyday that… whether it is parents just saying oh why this and why not that right; or it is coaches saying well I interpreted this way.  That is why you need to have the team meetings and group meetings to say no this is what we have been talking about.  And give the examples of: we are not going to accept a poor streamline, we are not going to accept anybody that does not put in great efforts.


And again, you have got to plan.  If you fail to plan, plan to fail: that is a… Gregg Troy always impressed that upon me.  And eventually I finally started planning.  People always try to find a way to deviate from that straight arrow; and if you expect it to come, I feel like that is one of the most important things you can do as a coach to make sure that you keep yourself calm.


So our staff… or your staff.  A lot of people are not going to like standards; they are going to fight it.  And I think what you end-up finding is what type of coach you have got in front of you.  You know, are they going to be there to standup for the values and the morals that you have established for your team.  What do they represent?


And I am going to kind of pick-on Coach Van Slooten here real quick.  He walked into an inner-city program, and said I am going to hold the highest standards that I can hold and if I were a little taller, I would hold them a little higher, right.  And the kids fought it, they did; they did not appreciate it.  Some parents really did, which was wonderful, but they may not have always been around.  And in the end what we found is that the kids really did like his standards.  And the kids became very, very comfortable with it.


And when Coach Van Slooten moved-on to Fork Union Military Academy—which was a very sad day in my life—we had to hire another coach.  And we thought we had a good guy, and what we found out was that he was a very young teacher.  And so we kept getting pulled into the classroom or up for a meeting, or up for this and up for that.  So he missed a lot.  And so the kiddos at Holmes High School lost a lot of that stuff.  And a lot of those things that Coach Van Slooten really instilled, those high standards of, you know, when you go to Swimming, when we travel, you are going to wear a proper shirt and a tie.  The Friday before our dual meets, that is what we are going to do.  And the new guy came in and did not institute…. Well why not?  I mean I kind of liked… it was kind of interesting.  The kids really liked dressing up, they enjoyed themselves, and they really found comfort in the standards that they had.


And for me it was really interesting because I am watching five high schools.  And what does this high school do, what does that high school do.  And it is all happening right in front of my eyes so I can see: man the standards mean everything.  And if you do not have them, it is going to hurt and it is going to be a long, painful road.  It is going to be more painful than that squiggly line of the success, right.


And then what you look for. For me, I look for… what does the coach do?  What kind of standards do they hold?  I have actually kind of appreciated talking to parents a lot more recently because… I should not say recently, but the thing that has dawned on me more recently has been: what type of questions do the parents ask?  Because, really they are getting at: how is this coach going to treat my child?  So I like listening to what the coaches say because I am listening for what is a parent going to listen for.  Is that good?  And so I get to throw it back to the coaches and say, “Well you said this”, and that did not really say anything.  Maybe it did not say that we are going to train hard.  Maybe it said that I do not really care if your kids wear their jeans halfway down their pants.  I mean that is just not good stuff.  We want to make sure that they dress properly, that they swim fast, that they hold standards in the water with streamlines, with efforts.


And so to me those are the discussions I get to have with the bigger group, with all of the high school coaches.  And again to me it reveals a lot of their character when we talk about when we have our meetings and they talk about their standards.  And well maybe we need to lower this, or….  I love it when a coach says: let’s raise it.  Yes let’s do that.


Alright, so why are we figuring these things out?  The basics for me is that we are forced to.  We have five high schools training at one facility at the same time, and we have to.  Because what you say to that coach today, they are going to remember five years or ten years and twenty years down the road.  And that matters.  So you have got to be a little bit more careful about what you say.


And what we end up finding is that we had a coach that did not really follow that, and was saying some pretty offensive things to a lot of coaches.  And it was great because the… actually it was horrible for a while.  But it was great because the rest of the coaches ended-up kind of expelling the attitude, saying, that is not right.  And eventually that coach just kind of moved on, and it was great day in our lives too.  So that is what… to me the end is why we are figuring it out, because we have to look at intimately every single day.


We are also figuring these things out because our district, our entire school district, has certain standards that they expect to be met.  And the direction that our Athletic Director gives us, to me, is one of the best things that we have going for us.  And it makes things a little more difficult, there is a lot more layers as a result of that and as a result of the way we have things set-up.  But if you can follow that philosophy from A to B to C to D, you are going to get everybody in line.


You know I was talking with Coach [Allison] Beebe here about… one of the things I appreciate about what she does is that she is very loyal to the Nike brand.  And as a result of that, Nike is very loyal to Coach Beebe.  And she does other things that I think is in support of USA Swimming, in support of what a lot of the things that we do.  And I always try to look for making sure that the coaches try to find those things that line-up with the district standard, their own high school standard, the way we operate within Northside Aquatics.  Because for us—and again I am going to get to this in a little bit—we recently built a large facility and the district found out that Aquatics within Northside is greatly valued.  We had… they stopped counting the number of people, when we had a grand opening, at a 1,000.  At the previous grand openings, they did not have any more than 200.  I am going: that is amazing.  So we are figuring these things out because basically we are forced to.


So the second Northside campus, or the Northside swimming pools campus.  So the Phase I came in 2006, and it was basically an indoor, 50-meter by 25-yard pool.  And it has 7 feet on the outsides, 4 feet in the middle to where you can kind of operate lessons, and you can run two sets of meet at the same time.  So it is really nice setup.  And then Phase II was finished this past year.  And it is an outdoor, 50-meter pool, with stadium seating; where it is kind of 7 feet to 9 feet.  It has got a 25-meter by 25-yard diving well, and it has also got an instructional pool.  And we have six high schools that train at this facility.


So we have six high schools that train at this facility.  And really it was the six high schools were training in the first 50-meter pool for a long time.  And now we are just able to stretch-out right now.  And one of the things we are doing is actually saying: we are not going to allow… the clean-up of the new facilities, we are not even letting them in the locker rooms in the facility, we are waiting to have events.


And so some of the things that we were competing with was: the old versus the new.  The old pool versus the new pool, for the past several years.  And so what we ended-up having was, it was a little bit of that inner-city/suburbia type of stuff, and it was really uncomfortable.  And we had to work with all of our high school coaches to get eleven high school coaches into a room to decide how are we going to handle this.  Because we do not need someone from the school where everybody has money, talking to a kid from an inner-city school about well you trained there and you do this.  And what ended-up happening was, all of the coaches agreed: no we are just not going to put up with that.  Because you did hear it, and so we had to stop it.  And we did; and we stopped it pretty hard.


So moving forward, we are looking at doing two things.  We still have the two sites, but we are looking at doing one head coach and then one coach to develop the coaches—which is a pretty unique situation.  I have talked to a number of coaches this weekend, over the summertime when I kind of first kind of caught wind of it—this is what we are going to do.  And I think it is really unique in that we are actually going be able to provide one philosophical direction for the whole team, all three sites.  And then we are going to have somebody that can go in there and train each coach along the way to say: look this is what great streamline looks like, this is what great kicking looks like, this is the way you should approach filming, this is why you should approach your psychological stuff.  How are you going to make sure that those kiddos are ready to step-up and race when the pressure is on.  And so it is a really unique thing that I think we will be able to offer all of the athletes within Northside Aquatics.


So how do we get to this?  We actually had Mick and Sue Nelson [with USA Swimming]; and if you have not had those guys come out and talk to your team I would recommend it, because they are the really amazing about how to use-up all your water time.  But they came out, Mick and Sue Nelson came out, and we had a lot of… it was our entire, eight-hour day that we spent sitting and talking with them.  The only thing that we did not was we took a one-hour break for lunch.


And we just talked about: how are we are going to use our time, this is what I have seen other people use, these are the things that we would do.  One of the most interesting things that they said is: what would you do if you could put these pools right next to each other?  And this is part of the reason why we came to the conclusion of: one head coach and one coach developer.  Because what it instilled in it is the idea that of: what would you do if these things were next to each other and it kind of just got you to think about things entirely differently.


For me it was really enjoyable because it got me to think about all of our high schools, and why is it that they cannot just operate independently but dependently.  Because that is what we are trying to do here.  So again this is how we got to…. And this is a picture of the facility—I do not know if you can see it back, can you guys see that?  So we have got the diving tower, we got the stadium pool, I need to backup.


In the end, I loved the Mick and Sue Nelson thing, because we were forced to… because they forced us to think about eliminating the boundaries.  What you guys have is probably a lot different from what we are doing, in that you probably have a high school here and high school there and high school there and you do not get maybe enough interaction with each other.  Because we are forced to do it, I think it made it all work.  And I would encourage you to have the uncomfortable conversations, work through the muddy water, be respectful of each other and get things moving from there.


And for me, I made it really fast through this talk.  So why do not we have some questions.  Yes sir?


[audience member]:  How many of the coaches on your club team are coaching high school kids?  Or how many of the high school coach on your club team?


[Howorth]:  So we actually had one person that was doing that, and that was Coach Van Slooten.  We do not have any of that do that.  We are limited in that if you have a high school coach, they cannot coach anybody, any swimmer, that is in their attendance zone; because that is basically considered recruiting.  So that is again kind of going back to the UIL rules, that it makes it a legal to do that.  So Coach V., he had the opportunity to coach one of our age group programs because we did not have anybody from that particular attendant zone, so he was able to do that.  But for the most part we do not, because that makes a 12-hour day, a 14-hour day.


[audience member]:  Who does scheduling for meet?  The districts?  The athletic directors?


[Howorth]:  Right, great question actually.  So I am also part of Alamo Area Aquatics, and part of what Alamo Area Aquatics does is they do all of the scheduling for all the club meets, all the high school meets.  They create some of the dual meets.  Some of the dual meets are just hey let’s get the top two teams and put them up next to each other, and some of them are hey these are just two like teams and let’s get them to be get in the race.  So that is all done by Alamo Area Aquatics.


But you do have definitely have a group overlooking everything and making sure that everybody is getting exactly what they need.  We tend to run our dual meets on Saturdays, so that it does not interfere with any of the training.  And we actually will do them sometimes in the afternoon, so that even the club portion will have the opportunity to have their Saturday morning practice.


One of the cools things that we are doing actually with the outdoor Swimming facility and the indoor one, is that we are going to try to run a dual meet with 24 teams at the same time.  And we are calling it the Mega Dual.  Just to have an opportunity to get everybody in at the same time and really generate some good positive publicity for Swimming in our area.  And so it is a pretty cool idea, I think that it is going to be a big success.  So, you know, we will let you know how it goes.


[audience member]:  Is this the pool where next summer’s Southern Zone Championships is going to be?


[Howorth]:  Yes it is.  So if you can see up in the top right over there, you can see the diving tower.  And then the building to the right there is the indoor 50-meter pool as well.  So yes, this is where the Zone meet is going to be held.  Great, glad to hear it, we are going to be happy to have you guys.


Yes sir?


[partially inaudible question from audience]:  …I am curious about how you would approach somebody who….


[Howorth]:  So I can tell you I have had… you have got to wear them down.  I had a younger coach that was exactly like that: I’m doing it my way, and I’m doing it my way and that’s it.  It took six years.  And it took some of the successes of athletes that we were sharing versus some of the successes of the athletes that we were not sharing for them to see the big picture of: I have an idea of what is going on.  So that, you know: oh wow that kid swim really fast, how do we do that?  And it finally kind of kept clicking with them to say okay.


But it was conversations, three times a week for six years.  And again, it is not comfortable, but it is what it takes for the kids.  I am pretty stubborn: I can just keep talking to the kiddo or talking to the coach and make sure that they get to do what they need to do, you know.  But I would encourage you to just keep having these conversations.  And there is going to be stuff, and just: look, let’s go out and talk.  Let us go get a meal.  Let us talk about some uncomfortable stuff: why is it that you do not appreciate what is going on here.  And I would just encourage you to do that;  work through it.  Because obviously you are in it for the benefit of the kids; both of you guys care about kids otherwise you would not be doing what you are doing.  So maybe start on the common ground.




[partially inaudible audience member]:  I have a group of about 10 girls who are all freshman now in high school; they are starting their high school practices now.  I do not want to lose them to emotional high school issues… the last think I want to do is put the kids in the middle.


[Howorth]:  Right.  That is the worst thing we can do right.  But that is what ends-up happening unfortunately.  So I would go directly to that, say, Let’s take the kids out of the equation and let’s work on this thing.


[partially inaudible audience member]:  Is there an area bound by your high school athletic association? …


[Howorth]:  That is a good question, because we have a similar situation in that we have the UIL, the University of Interscholastic League, and that is the governing body for all high school sports in the State of Texas.  And we do absolutely have to abide by those rules.  You know the eight-hour rule for Football applies to Swimming.  But we also have TISCA, the Texas Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association, and they are allowed to do some type of governing about things like when does the high school meet take place and things along those lines.  So that kind of, a little bit of both, but you know the fortunate/unfortunate part is that the main rules from the UIL, they absolutely… they stick.


And for me the interesting part, as an administrator for a school district, I think about: what is the UIL going to make a ruling on?  And they do not make rulings on almost anything because as soon as they do, that means they have to apply it across the board.  And when they do, [they are:] absolutely establishing that precedence, they are applying the rules across the board.  And when they do that, that usually puts the inner-city and the rural folks at a major disadvantage, and they are unable to grow anything.  So they really try not to.  They really try to make sure that the governance goes by school district, and their interpretation of this particular rule or that particular rule.  So that really it is a little more flexible and it applies to what is going on in that situation.  (Does that kind of answer your question?  Okay good.)


[audience member]:  Can you tell me how you work with the high school coaches to get the best out of the swimmers in championships season?  Because the high school’s season, their championships may flow into when the club championships are.  So how do you work with coach to get the best out of the athlete… [trails into inaudible].


[Howorth]:  I got really lucky in that the high school coaches ask me to write all the workouts; so, incredibly lucky.  So I was able to write all the workouts and stay within the eight-hour rule within the UIL.  And so I just kind of formulated it into my plan of how we were going to make sure that they rest well for the District meet, the Region meet, the State meet; and then moved on to Sectionals or Junior Nationals or whatever meet we decided we were going to go to.


And then I talked them through that.  You know we would meet every day for five minutes before practice: this is the scenario that we are going through; these are the workouts that we are going to do; this is going to relate back into something you are going to see in three weeks.  And this is the reasons why I like to do them.  Etc. etc.  And so then on the back side of that, I would share with them: well this is the way I like to see things done as a resting phase; or this one is totally new to me, I am going to try it, I have heard of it, I think it is really interesting, and I think it fits within the philosophy of what we are doing here.  So really try to talk them through all those scenarios.


[audience member]:  Let me get this straight: your high school, you all can train eight hours per week?  The entire week?  That is all you can train?


[Howorth]:  The entire week.  So there are a few ways of looking at this; so it is a good question.  Some folks look at it and say the athlete can train eight hours; some folks look at it and say the coach can have eight hours of contact-time with the athletes.  So you could… and the way I understand that the other sports stay within the bounds of that rule is that they will have one coach for Swimming for two hours, one coach for dryland for an hour—a different coach.  And so in the end they end-up getting more hours out of that particular week.


[inaudible audience comment]


[Howorth]:  So what we end-up doing here is that we actually do say we say we are going to train eight hours in the mornings, only, for our high school.


[audience]:  And this is in the entire State of Texas?  They are swimming that fast, swimming eight hours a week?


[Howorth]:  And that is where the club part comes into play.  If they are not members of the club, they just do not make it to the State meet.  That is just the way it comes down to.


[audience]:  I think I am doing something wrong.


[Howorth]:  I know you; you are doing lot of right.


[audience]:  I am trying to figure out how you get a kid to go a 4:33 in the 500 Free, from 5:20, and 8 hours a week.  Unless the guy is 6’5” and the guy moves to Austin or something.  So the kids can do both: they can swim in the morning somewhere with a club, and then in the afternoon swim with their high school.


[Howorth]:    Right.  And for us, we do it the reverse: the morning portion is our high school time.  And we do not we do not let anybody else come in, because it is all about the high school stuff.  And then the evening time is our club portion and we have got all that programming that I told you we have got.  There is a lot of stuff going on at the same time.


[audience]:  Now that I have got it clear, I have a question.  So how do teams workout knowing what the club coaches are doing and the high school coaches are doing?  Let’s say… you know you can only go to the well so often.  Let’s say you went threshold in the morning workout, or something like that; how would the club coach know that afternoon what the high school coaches did, and vice versa?


[Howorth]:  Right, so great question, again.  For me, I was really lucky: the high school coaches asked me to write all the workouts.  And then I obviously was writing all the club workouts in the afternoon.  That was the no-brainer part that to me made the scenario a lot easier and kind of simplified things.  What I have done with the other portions of our group, now that we are moving forward we have got much larger groups of numbers, we cannot do: everybody trains at the same time, everybody does the same workout, all that kind of stuff.  So we are working on a system—and I just found out about this about three weeks ago, so there is a lot of work to lead up to this and sorry about the delay on the answer.


But we are working on a game plan of saying: okay this is what a week should look like, you should train this energy systems throughout the week.  You should train these energy systems throughout the week and fill-in 9 practices.  And we are going to work with: what can you live with and what can you live with, so that it works itself out to where we know this is the type set that is going to happen on Monday morning.  This is the type set… it is going to be distance-aerobic on a Monday afternoon.  It is going to be a sprint-IM on Tuesday morning.  It is going to be recovery on Tuesday.  I think it is going to be all those kinds of things so that we put our coaches kind of in a learning mode.  To where they understand what the energy systems do, and make sure that we do benefit the kids.  And again: it is going to be the uncomfortable conversations.


[inaudible audience members; discussion other club/high school situations]


[Howorth]:  So one of the things actually—to chime in on that whole thing—is that what I heard was happening in the Dallas area, was that a club coach would try to get all of the high school coaches together and say Guys, this is what I would like to see you do.  If you could do these things in the morning, I will take care of these things in the afternoons.  And whether or not that was happening or not I do not know.  But you know if you think about it differently, you can kind of you can get a different result and you can try to coordinate things.  Ultimately, everything comes down to communication.


[audience member]:  Do you have a lot of high school kids that end up swimming club?


[Howorth]:  We have, I would say off the top of my head, we have got 300 high school swimmers out of 11 high schools.  Out of those high schools swimmers, we probably have a 100, maybe, that are in the club system.


[audience]:  So the mornings kind of stand on their own.  Because 200 kids are not swimming club in the afternoon, so the morning program has to be it for them.


[Howorth]:    It is a legit program, absolutely.  Right.  So you have to make sure you are hitting all the energy systems in the morning; and then doing it all in the afternoon too, the things that you need to hit, so that it compliments each other.  And that is why it is okay… well, I have actually asked some of our high school coaches: if you could organize this in any way that you dreamt possible, what would you do?


And so, we have not finalizes this thing yet but they have come back with the couple of different things.  Because right now we are doing water polo, so I have a few weeks to work on the game plan with this.  And so: how does that work with exactly what you are talking about.  Well you are doing all sprint, Monday through Friday morning; you know that does not look like a good game plan.  So why don’t we try to work on what are you going to do with this 500 kiddo, you know.


Does that make sense? So they are coming back with the new game plan when I get back from here.


[inaudible comment from audience]


[Howorth]:  That is a great idea; talk about something other than the sport.  And I am glad that you are communicating so well with each other; that is a wonderful thing.  That is really what it comes down to it.


[inaudible comment from audience]


[Howorth]:  I am glad to hear it, any other questions?  Great.  Well, thank you guys very much, I appreciate it.



##### end #####


New ASCA members for the week of November 18, 2016

New ASCA members for the week of November 18, 2016
Congratulations to ASCA’s new members from November 12-18, 2016:
• Greg Colby – Eagle, ID
• Amy Hadley – Cocoa, FL
• Trevor Moore – Scottsdale, AZ
• Michael Roche – Moline, IL
• Kevin Saatler – Marseilles, IL
• Natasha Singleton – Danville, KY
• Mike Smela – Calgary, AB  CANADA
• Connor Watson – Sudbury, ON  CANADA
• Dana Bearinger – Shanghai, CHINA
• Muneera Al-Hajery – Kuwait City, KUWAIT
• Saber Hassan – Kuwait, KUWAIT
• Marcus Callender – Harmony Hall, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Stephan Clapperton – TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Kaarin Shade – Crosby, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Monique de Fance – San Fernando, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Natasha Goroon – Roxborough, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Dexter Gunns – Scarborough, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Sheryl Henry – TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Sehryn Ihlle – TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Kimberly Joseph – TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Deneisha Julien – TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Nathan Louis – Plymouth, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Joel Mungroo – Gasparillo, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Nekerlon Nedd – TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Lec Armando Quan Chan – Marabella, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Nigel Ramharack – Williamsville, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Kineta Richards – TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Atiba Keon – Roberts, Buccoo Point, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Kyle Smith – Princes Town, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Aileeni Spencer – Gasparillo, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
• Tracy-Ann Waldron – Dobers Trace, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Certification Changes for the Week of November 14, 2016

Certification Changes for the Week of November 14, 2016

Darlys Ankeny from Corona CA
Level 3 High School

Logan Arnold from Raleigh NC

Chi Nam Angus AU from Hong kong Island Hk HKG
Original Application Approved; Need Level 1 School Test to be Certified

Nissanka Bandara from Kanthale SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Kyle Bedalov from Waukesha WI
World Clinic & High School Clinic 2016 OK

Missy Berry-Nath from Plattsmouth NE
Completed Level 3 School Test; Needs Achievement to be Certified

Lauren Bethel from Nassau BAHAMAS
Original Application Approved; Need Level 1 School Test to be Certified

Oleksandr Bezuglyy from Brooklyn NY
Level 1 USA Swimming

Beverly Buysse from Mishawaka IN
Level 2 Age Group; High School

Akeem Daley from St. Johns ANTIGUA & BARBUDA
Original Application Approved; Need Level 1 School Test to be Certified

Debra Dieter from Carroll IA
Level 2 USA Swimming; Age Group

Leah Ferrassoli from Palmdale CA
File Reviewed

Christine Elizabeth Fields from RAS TANURA SAUDI ARABIA
Level 2 International Age Group

Ilias Filopoulos from KUWAIT
Level 2 International Age Group

Jordan Fletcher from Orem UT
Level 2 USA Swimming

John Fodell from Grosse Pointe Farms MI
File Reviewed

Michael French from Santa Clara CA
Original Application Approved; Needs Levels 1-3 School Tests to be Certified

Jared Gilbert from Stockton CA
Completed Level 3 School Test; Needs Achievement to be Certified

Megan Gima from Walkerton IN
Original Application Approved; Needs Level 1 School Test to be Certified

Stefan Greendyk from West Milford NJ
Level 2 USA Swimming; YMCA; Age Group

Anthony Grice from Mount Clemens MI
Original Application Approved; Needs Level 1 School Test to be Certified

Ashleigh Guidoux from Moorpark CA
Original Application Approved; Need Level 1 School Test to be Certified

Vivian Gundzick from Santa Fe NM
Level 2 Age Group; International Masters

Franklin Halley from Yellow Springs OH
Updated EDU as Submitted

Tim Hannan from Farmington NY
Online EDU – Robinson OK

Harsha Hatti from Charles Town WV
Level 1 USA Swimming

Dan Hennebry from La Grange Park IL
Level 1 High School

Brian Holm from Reno NV
File Reviewed

Ruth Hubner from Midway GA
Original Application Approved; Needs Level 1 School Test to be Certified

Grant Johnson from Sherman Oaks CA
Level 1 USA Swimming

Jane Karajovanov from Skopje MACEDONIA
Original Application Approved; Needs Levels 1-3 School Tests to be Certified

K.H. Karunarathna from Udumulla Wathta SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Shirly Kumara from Ganewatta SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

G.K. Lakshman from Thalahena SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Emmanuel Lanzo from Ridgefield CT
Level 4 USA Swimming

Emmanuel Lanzo from Ridgefield CT
Level 4 USA Swimming

Sumudu Liyanage from Colombo SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Menaka Liyanage from Mt Lavinia SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Elizabeth Long from St. James TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
Original Application Approved; Need Level 1 School Test to be Certified

Rachel Lyon from Louisville CO
Original Application Approved; Needs Level 1 School Test to be Certified

Ruwan Madumal from Maala Mulla West SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Inoka Malawanna Gamage from Galle SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Mhommed Malik from Kollonnawa SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Matthew Martinez from St. Louis MO
Level 1 NCAA I

Kirstin McCoy from Enoch UT
Level 2 USA Swimming

Paul Merritt from Vista CA
2014 World Clinic

Andra Miller from Spring TX
Level 2 USA Swimming

Pamith Miyulara from Pubudugama SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Perez Moss from Miami FL
Level 1 International Age Group

Mohamed Najmee from Cripps Rd Sri Lanka
Level 2 International Age Group

H.K.N. Nissanka from Palwehera SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Mihira Pasan from Nugegoda SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Achala Pathirana from Gorakana SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Ricardo Pina from Fort Lauderdale FL
Level 1 USA Swimming; International Masters

Chanaka Prasanna from Ihalagama SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Jesse Raskauskas from Portland OR
Level 3 E&E

Bandara Rasnayaka from Monnekulama SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Sunanda Rathnayaka from Ipalogama SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

R.M.N.G. Rathnayake from Ampara SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

D A W M N D B Rathnayake from Gampaha SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Greta Reichert from Philadelphia PA
Level 1 USA Swimming

Susan Scanlan from Oakwood Hills IL
Level 2 USA Swimming

Aimee Schmitt from Fulshear TX
Level 1 USA Swimming; Age Group

Pradeep Senanayake from Sri Lanka Air Forse SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Samitha Senevirathne from Mirihana SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Lynnette Smith from Sandy UT
Level 1 USA Swimming

WanJia Sng from singapore
Level 1 International Age Group

Gabrielle Terzano from West Hempstead NY
Original Application Approved; Needs Level 1 School Test to be Certified

J.A. Thilina from Makawita SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Nishara Thishari from Pinwatta SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Alfred Torok from Mexico City Mexico
Original Application Approved; Needs Level 1 School Test to be Certified

K.J.N. Udayanga from Bopitiya West SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Walter Ulwishewa from Paramulla SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Yajun Wang from Forest Hills NY
Original Application Approved; Needs Level 1 School Test to be Certified

Ariel Weech from Miami FL
Level 1 International Age Group

Harshani Weerasinghe from Kapugoda SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Tilak Wellappili from Mount Lavinia SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Level 1 USA Swimming

Cassian Wickrama from Nagoda SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Isuri Wijesinghe from Livanagedara SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Lalani Wimalarathna from Mario SRI LANKA
Level 2 International Age Group

Phillip S. Wood from Hoover AL
Completed Level 4 School Test; Needs Achievement to be Certified

Ben Zajic from Greenville NC
Level 1 USA Swimming

Michael Jiang Zhan from Katy TX
Updated EXP as Submitted

Jonathan Zuchowski from Jupiter FL
Level 3 Age Group


Using CrossFit with Your Swim Team by Brian Nabeta & Cortney Martellucci, Arden Hills Swimming (2013)


My name is Brian Nabeta; I’m the head coach at Arden Hill Swimming out in Sacramento, California.  I just happen to be the next-longest tenured coach at Arden Hills behind Sherm Chavoor.  I think some of the things that I have implemented into my program, such as the dryland program, some of it might make him turn over in his grave, but you know it will be alright.  I believe that what I’ve done in the past five years, with implementing CrossFit into my program, has definitely changed the way my kids look at dryland.  So what we’re going to do is go through how I use CrossFit with my swim team.


How many of you guys watch ESPN?  Yes.  How many of you guys watch CrossFit on ESPN?  Okay, that’s not CrossFit.  That’s not… that’s not what the masses use as CrossFit.  Those are athletes that train twice a day, just like our swimmers, just like Track & Field, just like gymnasts; and there on… they are there for half a million dollars, okay.  A lot of those athletes are professional athletes; they’ve got sponsorships and everything else.


So what we have going on with Arden Hills: everything we do is scaled proportionately to every group that we have on our team.  And I’ll go through how we integrate CrossFit into our program, and what we saw, and how well we did, how we build our skill base and how we design our WODs—WODs meaning workouts of the day.


A little history.  I’ve been at Arden Hills from ’99 until the present time.  And when I got to Arden Hills, I came from Golden Bear Swim Club and I also coached at U.C. Berkeley at the same time helping out with Mike Bottom and Nort Thornton.


So nothing against them, but I did a lot of stuff that I thought was important to the team at the time.  We had a twenty-station circuit.  The club bought me 10 Vasa Trainers.  I had surgical tubing.  I had bosu balls.  I had thousands of dollars of equipment, but every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we would go through a circuit.  Kids would walk in, they would know exactly what they were doing on Monday, have an idea definitely of what we were doing Wednesday and what we were doing on Friday.  We were circuit training.


At that time, we were going about 4,000-5,000 in the morning, and also going 8,000-10,000 yards in the afternoon. Between ’99 and 2006, I was mainly known as a distance-based program.  Up at Arden Hills, I kind of kept with the lore of Sherm Chavoor and most of my athletes were distance-oriented.


Between ’08 and present.  I want to just give you a little history of how CrossFit started.  I was 240 pounds in 2006, okay.  I had to make a lifestyle change.  So, I went from 240 pounds down to about 220 pounds, and then one of the trainers at the club introduced me to CrossFit.  And in January of ’08, I started doing CrossFit myself.  And I decided I was going to go to a Level 1 Certification in order to learn what CrossFit was basically all about: how it was going to make me better.  How I researched on the CrossFit webpage, it kind of just had me interested.  So I started CrossFit in 2008; I went to a Level 1 Certification.


I then went to CrossFit Kids.  I thought: if I can learn how to do CrossFit, what is this CrossFit Kid Certification, and how can I apply it to my swimmers?  So I went to CrossFit Kids.  Probably one of the best certifications I’ve ever gone to; even better than being CrossFit certified.


Those trainers down there at CrossFit Kids, their #1 emphasis at CrossFit Kids is to have your elementary school, junior high schoolers and high schoolers pass the Presidential Physical Fitness test.  I just gave my high schoolers—in my group, my Senior group—three exercises off of the Presidential Physical Fitness test for high schoolers; half passed the high school Presidential Physical Fitness test—at least of those three exercises okay.  And these are USA Junior National swimmers that I feel that they’re fit—they’re Swimming fit. Are they physically fit?  Maybe, maybe not; but they’re Swimming fit.


So what I’ve done is in the past five years we implemented CrossFit workouts, anywhere between 3 and 30 minutes long.  All of our CrossFit workouts are constantly varied; we just change-up our workouts on a constant basis.  And I’ll get to what our programming is in order for you to see how we go about our programming and coming up with workouts.


A little bit of how this came about: trial and error.  I think one of the things that… was it at last night’s on the Hall of Fame?  (What was his name?  No, the one that got the award.)  Don Swartz was saying: don’t be afraid of experimenting.  And one of the things that he said that brought it to light, a lot of what I learned at U.C. Berkeley with Nort Thornton, is: don’t be afraid to fail.  Okay?  I failed plenty of times implementing these CrossFit workouts.


Benefits of the first year, 2008-2009: the swimmers like variation.  We went from a twenty-circuit station, 20 minutes, 50 seconds on, 10 seconds off.  20 minutes, hustle your butt out to the pool, change, and get into water and pound it out.  Swimmers liked the variation.  They liked what we did.  They like the intensity; constantly varied functional movements done at high intensity.  They became stronger and more fit.


Drawbacks: as intense as we were with the varied CrossFit workouts that we were doing, I would still tell them to hustle your butts out to the pool—let’s get in.  Their heart-rates were pounding still at about 110 to 115 beats per minute.  They would get in the pool.  I just start warm-up, and we’d try to get in 4,000-5,000 yards, right after a CrossFit workout.  Probably not the smartest thing for me to do at that time in 2008 and 2009.


The only three people that it benefited in ’08 and ’09 were: Nicholas Johnson, he made National Junior Team in the mile; Michael Franz, one of my other swimmers was a Top-16 in 800 free; and one of my senior swimmers Katie Edwards, at that Austin Juniors, she ended up winning the 100 and 200 breast with the 1:00.08 and 2:11—they were Junior Nationals records at that time.  But those three are the only three that actually felt like they definitely benefited from CrossFit at that point.


In 2009-2010, I sent one of my assistant coaches to CrossFit Level 1 certification—Cortney [Martellucci].  I also sent her to CrossFit Kids.  I thought: if I had the knowledge to introduce it to my Senior group, I can send my Age Group coach over to get certified so that I can implement it to my whole team.  What we did a little bit different in ’09 and ’10 was we used more main-site CrossFit workouts.  And ’08 and ’09, I used a lot of CrossFit Kid workouts.


And it was important for me to start small and get bigger.  Most of you guys, if you guys have been on, those workouts are brutal, okay.  Myself, I do CrossFit three days on, one day off; and I scale workouts okay.  So if I’m scaling workouts, I know I’m scaling workouts for my own swimmers.  All the way down to my second grade, first grade and kindergarteners; they do similar workouts, but just scaled versions of it.


In 2010 and 2011, Cortney and I did a lot of in-house training of what movements we wanted for CrossFit within the program.  And, here, I blame myself and I apologize to my own swimmers during 2010-2011.  We did a lot more CrossFit; we did probably another 20% more CrossFit than I did the year before.  I was experimenting with lowering my swim volume and increasing my CrossFit volume.  So we were in the water (on the left-hand side, right down here), we were in the water in the morning maybe 1,500-2,000 yards—in the morning after the CrossFit workout.  It’s not much for a lot of your programs that are out there doing you know 2,000-4,000.  In the afternoons, because I knew that we were broken-down in the morning, I would be going about 5,500-6,500 in the afternoon.  So my volume dropped again between the high number of 9,000 or 8500, down to 6,500.


So we did not have that much success, at least based on the history of Arden Hills since I’d been there, where we had success at the middle distance and distance, Age Group.  What happened was we had some motivational issues: being in CrossFit, it takes a toll on your body, it also takes a toll on your mind.  As you know, as swimmers and coaches, you see how much the kids train.  That’s why you know some of the programs have a two week break in August.  They also have one at Christmas, and one in the springtime.  Well, we did CrossFit all year-round.  So one of the things I noticed was they were waning in motivation.  They came into practice; you could tell that they were they weren’t intense.


And so what I did is I dropped CrossFit for over four months; we decided that we’re going to take a break.  And on the right-hand side you could see what we increased for swimming.  So basically it was a CrossFit taper.  It basically went from all dryland to all swimming, and we actually did fairly-well that summer.


2011-2012 was the first time we went to back-to-back seasons of our full team doing CrossFit, all the way down from our kindergartners all the way up to our seniors in high school.  It seemed like their motivation was back—because when you take something away they want it returned.  And so we had a great amount of intensity and the kids really wanted to learn more and more about what benefits that they were going to have.


One thing that Cortney and I were doing a little bit better at, as we got more educated:  You know all you guys sit down as a coaching staff: you plan-out your season.  Your coaching staff gets together, you have a big calendar out there, you plan-out your meets, you plan-out your training cycles.  In the past, I used to just create dryland.  In the early stages of ’08 and ’09, I used to just plan-out a CrossFit workout the night before.  Now our CrossFit workouts for the season are planned basically at the beginning, all the way through.  So we cycle through CrossFit, our dryland program, just like we plan-out our swim season, our training cycles.  So it’s no different than how we sit down and plan-out our season for swimming.


The benefits.  Cortney and I are definitely… we watch and talk to our coaching staff; we’re very much involved and sensitive to the signs of over-training.  We realize that the pounding that our kids take.  It’s important for you to understand that: if they’re going to do a long, 30-minute MetCon [metabolic condition, a type of WOD] for dryland, that that afternoon, they might just be abused.  And you have to understand that if you’re wanting to do something hard and fast, that might not happen.


The drawback that we still have and that we’re still learning at the time was: how far can we go in and do workouts while during taper?  So we were experimenting with: are we going to go three weeks out, are we going to go two weeks out?  And we still did not have… and I think most of us during taper, not an exact science on when to stop lifting or when to stop doing a certain dryland program that you guys may be involved with.


So quickly now to 2012 and 2013.  The club that I work at is Arden Hills Resort Club and Spa, okay.  Did you hear that word resort club and spa?  If any of you have been to or seen Arden Hills on a website, we have palm trees, we have chaise lounges, we have cabanas.  We have a hair salon, we have massage therapists on deck—in the little cabanas.  But our General Manager decided that he was going to take CrossFit out of my hands, and give it to the strength and conditioning coaches—the NSCA [National Strength and Conditioning Association] strength and conditioning coaches—that we have on staff.  They’re used to only training personal trainers; they train 1, 2 and 4 people at a time.  So he wanted me and Cortney to hand over 30 of my kids over to the NSCA strength and conditioning coaches.  So my hands were wiped clean for about four months.


The kids.  The sophomores, juniors and seniors—who had done it for 1-3 years—they didn’t like it at all; they felt like they were going too slow through things.  A lot of the freshmen that were in the group, they didn’t know any better, so they actually made gains.  Because they were doing something different than the year before; they actually gained a little bit of strength.  But the sophomores, juniors and seniors really had a difficult time not really getting stronger.  One of my butterfliers actually, he lost muscle, about a half an inch off of the broadness of his shoulders, in four months.  And he didn’t perform in December as well as he wanted to.


January of 2013.  During the winter break, we took two weeks off; I sat down with management, I sat down with the NSCA trainers.  They told me that they were to going to give-up my group, because they had no idea how to coach 30 kids in one workout.  Yeah, kind of ridiculous, right?  The club took it out of my hands and now it was giving it back to me.  So what we did: in January, we resumed CrossFit.  Again, similar to that four-month break that that we did in, I think, 2010-2011.  The kids were psyched up; they were excited about it.  They wanted to pound out 3-minute workouts, they wanted to do 7-minute workouts; they wanted to just grind it out.


One of the things that I did take—I did an advantage of learning from those NSCA certified trainers—was my warm-ups.  My warm-ups: integrating stretching and balance drills, agility drills, dynamic stretching.  That all happened, and my education, through the NSCA trainers, prior to the workouts of the day.  So now I implement it.  I learned from them, as much as they were just dropping me off… giving me back my own swimmers.


The benefits: the kids’ appreciation/enthusiasm for CrossFit was noticeably renewed.  So again, we started back up.  During that time, I increased the morning workouts, another about 500-1,000 yards; so we’re now going 2,000-3,000 yards in the morning.  We’re back up to 6,500-8,500 at night.  So I now average the volume of morning and afternoons out so that I can experiment a little bit more with keeping them in the water a little bit longer.


Alright, the cumulative effects of CrossFit.  So some of the things that we do.  (This is where I think Sherm will rollover in his grave.)  We shifted from primarily a middle-distance/distance program to a solid middle-distance and some sprinting.  In 2012 and 2013, I had 14 girls under 24.99 in the 50 Free.  I know that’s not that fast for some of the programs that are in here; it’s just big for our team.  My team has a 165 swimmers on it, and to have 14 girls under 24.99, I thought that that was pretty good.  11 girls under 53 in 100 Freestyle.  I point out girls, because my group basically is like 80% girls, so I don’t have as much data on guys in 2012-2013.


So here are a couple of kids that I have that I do test sets with throughout.  And here’s some noticeable improvements on land, in our CrossFit workouts.  So Sydney Johansen—she goes to Boise State, she went to NCAAs.  Her freshman year, she rowed a 2,000 meter row on our C2 rower—we row a lot—she went from a 7:58, which is pretty solid, to a 7:40.  She would actually ask me what I thought about if she were to row crew, and I actually got interest from University of Washington for Sydney.


Maddie Johnson (over there), she rowed an 8:08 her freshman year.  She’s now just a starting senior right now.  Last season, she rowed a 7:50, at the college regatta up at Lake Natoma in Sacramento.  Stanford actually is inquiring with Maddie Johnson because she’s light enough to be in the lightweight boat.  So she’s a good swimmer, but now she rows a 7:50 2,000 and can be in the lightweight boat and she can possibly go to Stanford, rowing crew instead.  So swimmer going one way, great at Stanford and rowing crew another way.


So I have different kids that might be doing different things by the time they graduate high school besides been a swimmer.  I’m actually trying to create great athletes.  Okay.  Not everybody is going to be a Senior National swimmer.  But if I can find another niche with what they can do, then I can create other opportunities.


Katie Edwards (down there), she’s the one that won the 100 and 200 breaststroke at Junior Nationals.


Karen, the workout: is 150 wall-ball, with a 12-pound medicine ball, squatted and thrusted up to 9 feet.  It’s 150 of those reps.  She dropped from 7:06 down to 6:02—that is a ridiculous time okay.  Russell Mark has film of her underwater works at Juniors that year; he had it on the USA Swimming website.  She was actually getting out further than the boys 100 and 200 breaststroke at that Juniors.  Even though her stroke wasn’t as powerful, her walls were just as far as the boys were.


So I have taken-up 25 minutes and I want to give you over to our Age Group coach, Cortney.  She will explain what we do with our Age Group programs and our younger kids.  She has done a phenomenal job; she has developed a lot of Top-10 swimmers, several #1 athletes in the 9, 10, 11, 12 age groups.  So I’m going to turn this over to you, Cortney.


[Martellucci begins]

Okay.  So what we try to do with our program—whether it’s a 10-year-old coming-in or maybe a Senior kid who hasn’t been with the program, maybe they’re transferring from another team or something and they haven’t gone through the program:

  • We like to create continuity between the groups.
  • We want to use a similar language. So when we describe things, we described them with the same words, from our 7, 8, 9 years-olds up to our big kids.
  • We want our movements to be simple. We don’t need to complicate them.  And we want to make sure that they can do the basic ones right before we make it complicated.
  • We also create movement standards. So we want all our kids to do push-ups the same: we don’t want push-ups out here, we want them like this.  We want them to know that.  So when we have kids come in who are new to the program, they may do a push-up one way; we have to revise what the definition of that movement is.  We also make sure that they can do it right before they move on and do it more complicated.  We take the simple movements and we move them on, and combine them to make other movements.


I’m going to go through some of our basics and tell you kind of what the most important pieces are.  As you go through this, there’s a lot more on the screen than I’m probably going to say—hopefully, so that I can kind of keep us rolling.  But you can always go online and find the presentation; it’s on our website.  If you’re taking pictures, feel free to read through.  But I’m going to hit really the errors we see and the cues we use.


So in a squat, we always ask our kids to start by looking forward.  We make sure their hips are neutral.  We ask them to place their heels under their thumbs.  When they squat, the first motion they make is they move their hips back, and we make sure that their chest stays tall as they move their hips back and their knees stay out.  Those are the two big things.  When there are problems with that, it is often flexibility: in the hips, sometimes in the back.  But it’s also strength in the hip adductors.  As they go down, that they keep their chest up, their eyes forward, and that they squat properly.


They need to stay on their heels—that’s a really big deal.  We have a lot of kids who think they can go onto their toes.  Because they don’t have the flexibility, they might naturally go that way and we have to force them back.  You can give kids targets to squat to; you can give them a ball.  At CrossFit Kids they say give them a cone and then they won’t plop down so hard.  I don’t know about that, but anyway.


So we also have some different ways that we can do squats.  The lower left-hand side is our swimmer Maddie when she was younger; she’s doing an overhead squat.  We do overhead squats some warm-up with PVC because kids do really-great squats when they have their hands up, because I think it extends their torso.


We have Noah, up on the left-hand top; he’s doing a thruster.  Thruster is a press combined with a squat.  They are not fun.  He—with those younger kids as you see with weights—with the younger kids, all we do is teach them the movement.  We don’t actually… we give them maybe a 2-pound weight.  So that they know how to finish, they know where they are going, they know what they are doing.


And then this is Cathy Woo; she is going to be a freshman at UCSD.  She’s doing a thruster.  Her chin is up a little bit, but we’ll forgive her for that.


So the next one: push-ups.  This is a hard one because we struggle with strength; they’re not strong enough to do it the proper way, often times.  I know with my 10&Unders, my strongest kids can do it; but there’s a big gap between the strongest kids and those who just can’t get it right.  So I’m going to show you some modifications on that too.


Whenever we do a push-up, we actually teach it from the ground, up.  We ask them to get their hands in front of their shoulders, and to get their hips up off the ground before they press up.  We want their core and their quads really, really tight.


This is how we say it too: this is where you start, this is where you go, and this is where you finish.  So when I teach that to the younger kids we say that: this is where you start, this is where you go, and this is where you finish.  So we tell them what to do.  With the older kids, we might not say quite like that.  But there’s never any harm in doing that; we find that using silly terms and things like that works for everyone, as long as it creates a funny visual in their head or a word that they can remember.


So when we do a push-up, hands start there.  We want their elbows mostly pointed back.  We want them in a neutral position with their shoulder; we don’t want them extended outward thumbs out.  We want to keep things close and tight.  And then when they go up, the hard part for some of them is moving their hips at the same rate.  You guys have seen kids do push-ups where they get off the ground and they push their chest up and then their butt comes.  We try really hard not to do that, and we have some variations on that.


When we do a push-up in a WOD, the rep counts if their chest touches the ground.  So when they come down, they have to keep tight, their chest touches the ground, and then they press back up.  We try to get our kids to call each other out and say no rep if it doesn’t count—if they don’t get it—but we’re still working on that.


Variations on push-ups.  (We have Kylie a lot because we needed pictures last minute.  We’re like hey Kylie, come do this.)  So she’s doing step-ups right there.  You can do different heights of step-ups.  I do step-ups with the younger kids, especially those who aren’t able to do push-ups.  And you can do you know a small 6-inch step, you can do a curb.  She’s doing a quite-large step.  The biggest thing I always tell them is they need to not rock their hips.  It’s not swimming freestyle, we want them to keep their hips tight.  It makes their abs tight; it makes their core, back and butt tight.


Second revision: she’s doing an incline, or you can do it from the knee.  There’s a little trick I’m willing to show you guys at some point.  The knee push-ups, people say oh they don’t ever get much better.  You can do a decline push-up: set the knees down and push it back up from the knees, as long as the hips never touch the ground.  That’s kind of a nice revision.  We’d some success with some of the freshmen who’ve come into his group, who can’t do a good push-up; we ask them to do it that way.  And then eventually they’re able to do it a clean push-up that looks really good.


And then this one is decline push-up.  And you think well, if you can’t do a regular push-up how do you do a decline push-up?  It’s actually amazing.  They do better with the decline push-up than a normal push-up, because their hips can’t touch the ground.  So it’s a little trick to throw at them if you want to mix it up, so that they’re forced to rely on strength and figure out how to do it versus kind of struggling through it.


Pull-ups.  We do pull-ups once or twice a week with nearly every group.  The biggest thing is hands are wide and your body fully extends at the bottom.  A lot of the boys come-in after high school gym class and they’re like to here, and I’m like no all the way down, all the way up.


The big question: is kip or not kip?  Do you guys know what a kip is?  Okay.  You get a kid who comes in, cannot do a normal pull-up.  But, if they can kip four or five times and get a pull-up, or they can get their very first pull-up because they can gymnastic-kip that thing up; their pride swells.  Maybe they can’t do one strict, but over-time they get to where they can do 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 kipping; then all of a sudden you say hey can you try a pull-up for me?  They can do a pull-up.  So it generates it.


I have video of all of this.  When we’ve kind of wrapped up… and I’d love to show you guys that stuff, and I can toggle in-between the presentation and that.  So when we’re done.  Or at some point, if anybody is like what is a kip?  I can show you what a kip is.


So we do it.  We try to teach it.  We teach it all the way down.  We have monkey bars, so hands strength across, learning how to control your body.  We do something called dead fish.  (I’m actually going to go ahead and show you guys this real quick.  Hopefully it doesn’t mess up the presentation.)




[audience member]:  Can you show us a kip pull-up?


[Martellucci]:  Okay, so this is a kipping pull-up.  Okay, she doesn’t know how to do that, when she started it.  Power is generated from your core on that.  If you watch one more time, she bends her knees; that’s actually inefficient.  If she would keep her legs straight, she would throw her hips harder, it would be easier for her to get up.  Do you like how I’m all critical?  You know she can do a regular pull-up.  She doesn’t like them, but she can do them.


Okay, this is dead fish.  This is his attempt at figuring… he hasn’t done pull-ups in a while.  This kid actually can probably do 15 pull-ups or so, but he took three weeks off and now his coordination is all….  That’s dead fish right there; how he’s trying to control his hips and then he does a pull-up.  Okay?  That initial movement that he was doing, right here—where you kip back and try to control your hips—you get that in a rhythm, that would be considered what we call dead fish.


(Does anybody need it again?  We’re good.  Anybody want to see any of the other stuff I’ve already covered that I forgot about?  Okay.)


So we do teach everyone to press, even the little guys—give them the little tiny 2-pound weights.  Because we want them to have the awareness, the body movement and the ability to do these things as they get more advanced.  Biggest thing, and this is a great cue that I learned at CrossFit Kids: in a press, it’s a down, up, and we want them to dip.  We don’t want them to go like this.  (You’ll notice she’s down: it’s because I froze her doing a thruster.  She’s not actually dipping.)  We want their spine upright.  But it’s a short little dip, knees out, and then it’s a press.  A lot of leg drive, a lot of hip opening.


We call it Oompa Loompa, because everybody has seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  And so we say: do you know what an Oompa Loompa is?  They’re like yeah.  So: Oompa Loompa, right?  Okay.  So they know what that is.  And say I don’t want you to go down deeper than that; I just want you to down, up, and then I want you to jump the barbell up, make it weightless.  So you can see there: jump.  Get your hips moving.


Deadlift.  This is a 4-year-old: you can teach a 4-year-old how to deadlift.  Again, there’s no weight—she is using a soccer ball.  But if we teach them how to deadlift when they’re young, their flexibility is better usually.  And when they move-up through the groups, then they are able to do cleans—they’re able to do med-ball cleans.  They’re able to be in proper positions for things.


You see on their angry gorilla.  Angry gorilla is the position we asked them to get into.  You can see right… the third picture at the bottom.  She’s a little low, but she’s 4, so I let it go.  She’s in that position.  We asked them to stick their butt out and get their chest up, before they stand up.  So I tell that to Matt Spallas, who is a Junior National qualifier: Matt, where is your angry gorilla?  Let’s go.  And he laughs, and then he does it, and it’s good.


So we also make sure that anytime we’re cleaning or deadlifting, that we go from our heels and that your chest is tall and your shoulder is back.  We have kettlebells, we have med-balls that we use, we have sand bags that we use; and all of it appropriate to age.  The 10-year-olds go up to 26-pounds kettlebells.  If their parents are worried about that, ask them how much their backpack is.  Their backpack is probably more than that or right around there; so if they can learn how to lift their backpack up, then they can lift that light weight.  And again, it’s more of a training the motion, than it is training a strength-piece at that point.


Cleans.  We go to that angry gorilla again.  This is called triple extension.  We look for them to straighten their legs, open their hips and shrug their shoulders.  And you can see in the second picture, Cathy’s hit that position quite nice.  I think she freeze-framed that for me, though, and had to stop right there.  So ideally, if she’s really going, she’s moved back a little bit.


I can show you real quick what this one looks like—it’s worthwhile seeing, I think.  So this is clean, and this is with a med-ball.  So we ask her to extend all the way and then drop quickly under the ball.  You can do this with… we do it with sand bags, med-balls.


So one more time.  Now, this is the fun part, okay.  So we have Cathy Woo, we say Cathy, you know how to do a thruster, right?  You know how to squat obviously.  And we do this to them.  And if you ask me, I actually like that more than wall ball—that’s wall ball with a clean.  Wall ball to me is more tiring, because you don’t get to put the ball down.  So, if you don’t mind cleaning, this is easier.  So that would be how we can combine some of these things.


So we want to make sure they catch it high.  This is Karen; so when he was mentioning Karen, the 150 wall ball, this is throwing that ball up to that target 150 times.  They get to a point where they want to stop every 3, and you have to just encourage them not to.


And finally: rowing.  We do a lot of rowing; we probably row every other week, if not maybe every 8-10 days.  This is way more complicated than it looks, so I’m just going to go ahead and say that it’s the coordination.  Some people are going to get it right away; some people you are going to have to teach it.  It’s like breaststroke, you know; it kind of has its own little idiosyncrasies and you’ve got to figure out how to get it to work for them.


But basically we have them start here and we say: send your arms back, send your legs towards the fly wheel, legs back, arms back.  So it’s: arms legs, legs arm, arms legs, legs arms.  Because most of the kids want to send their knees back, instead of putting their hands back first.  So it’s having…  we’ve been using the terminology: you don’t want to swim breaststroke like this, so you wouldn’t want to row like that.  Send your breaststroke arms back and then bend your knees.  So it’s kind of neat to use them across each other.


This is the list of stuff we use—we are going to come back to this, hopefully, at the end if we have enough time, so that we can show you some of the different ways we use the different things.  Some of the stuff is scaled; some of the stuff is kind of progressively harder, progressively easier.  It’s just groupings; there is no particular rhyme or reason as to why we put them in the order we put them in.


We use a lot of burpees.  I didn’t show you a burpee; I would love to show you a nice burpee.  They get pretty sloppy at the end of the things, but as long as they’re moving that it’s often what you’re looking for, with intensity.


And then the other one I would hope to show you is double-unders.  We have a boy who did a 153 double-unders.  If you don’t know how hard that is, it takes a 1:30 or so; and when he got done, he put his hand on his chest and he was like oh my god, my heart is pounding.  So it’s a skill that we teach.  We start jump rope when they are 5 and 6 years-old, so that we have -year-olds who can do double-unders—we have 9-year-olds who can do double-unders.  I couldn’t do a double-under until I was 31, so….  But we’ll come back to that one.


I’m going to give this back to Brian (and we have about 20 minutes).


[Nabeta returns]

Okay.  Cortney went through a lot of our skill-based work that we do with the kids.  We happen to be very spoiled at the club with the amount of equipment that we have.  We have dumbbells.  We don’t do a lot of barbell work.  We use PVC pipe.  We use med-balls.  We use kettlebells.  We use battle ropes.  A lot of different things that we use in order to get 30 swimmers in each group through a CrossFit workout.  We just so happen to be fortunate to have all of that.


We don’t do heavy weights.  I hope you saw some of the dumbbells that they were using; they aren’t very big, okay.  Like Cortney was saying, her group and below, they may use 2-pound dumbbells, they may use 5 and 7.5.  My group may max-out a 25-pound dumbbell, at most.  We are talking about boys that are 180-190 pounds that use a 25-pound dumbbell.  Because I feel comfortable teaching them the proper technique, in order for them to know what the movement standard is before they go off to college.


Sydney Johansen, I taught her how to do a front squat, back squat, and overhead squat.  And she was actually tickled pink to text message me to tell me that she was the example of all three movements of their first squatting session at Boise State.  Okay?  I was stoked; I was like I taught that girl well.  And I felt pretty proud.


So CrossFit goes over 10 general physical skills.  And same with any other sport, for Swimming, Track and Field: power and speed.  That’s what we want to create in Swimming, okay.  Power and speed especially yards.  Our group, you know the majority of the season that we coach as Age Group coaches… short-course season is two-thirds of the year for most of us.  So a lot of the stuff that we do is power- and speed-based.


We do swimming, cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina.  We use mainly the first six, with a little sprinkling of the bottom four, okay.  I know that a lot of people go: well you know coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.  Yeah, you’ve got to be accurate on the turn; I understand that, we work on it in the pool.  But a lot of the dryland, we work for… we want power and speed.  And that’s where the intensity comes at in the Crossfit workout.


Seasonal planning and programming.  This is where, at the start of my talk, I was talking about me messing up a lot and realizing what I needed to do.  So what I did is I talked to Cortney and since this past summer—Spring and Summer were very successful.  I decided to go ahead and let you guys…. Eight weeks: we planned from NCSA Juniors to the high school Section meet.  What we did was reestablish intensity after the NCSA Junior meet; we also increased endurance and max aerobic capacity.  A little bit longer MetCons.  We did not do a lot of interval work in workouts; we did a lot of 10-, 12-, 15-, 20-minute WODs in the morning.  And then from 10 weeks: from the high school Section to Sectionals, that’s when we increased their interval work for the CrossFit workouts.


The 8-week planning—NCSA Juniors to high school Sections—I had a girl at 1:56 200 Freestyle; she thought that was so awesome.  She was actually 1:55; she went from 1:58 to 1:55.  And then we must have hit something really-well at the high school Sections, because she ended-up going 1:50 at high school Sections and dropped five seconds.  That same person—that girl that didn’t miss very many workouts, loves CrossFit—she also went from 5:12 to 5:03 to 4:53 in the 500 Freestyle.


We had a lot of other major drops in swims, because… one of the main things that the kids tell me, and it’s funny, because they can get themselves through a swim workout and pop out of the water and go I’ll see you tomorrow.  They can’t do that when they finished a CrossFit workout.  They get out of a CrossFit workout, they could barely breathe.  They’re not picking up their backpack, they’re not talking to each other right after the workout.  They’re recovering; they’re trying to catch their breath.  And that’s what I tell them after a swim race.


How many of you had swimmers get out of the pool and come walking over to you talking like talking to you like they’ve been sitting next to you all afternoon?  I’ve had plenty of swimmers that came up to me and go, “Oh man. I probably could have gone another 2 seconds faster.”  Well, why not?  You don’t even look tired.  But you’ll die doing a CrossFit workout.  There is no difference between a two-minute CrossFit workout and the two-minute freestyle.  Go. 


Okay, this is the plan; this is how I do it—lunch is a must.  I always do my best planning eating over food, just like here at the clinic.  Plan-out our needs, plan-out time to introduce new skills.  We plan maintenance skills prior to workout.  So if we’re going to do med-ball cleans; we’re going to introduce it prior to the workout.  Or we’ll do it the day before.  They have not caught onto me yet or Cortney: if we’re doing med-ball clean skills on Wednesday morning, they don’t realize that it might come-up in the next couple of workouts.  But I’m actually kind of getting to that and making sure that they understand what type of work that we’re doing.


We go week-by-week.  We determine the intensity, skills, duration and the workouts.  We do constantly vary; they have no clue what’s coming.  Okay.  We don’t give them hints.  We don’t say well we are missing an endurance workout.  That may not come this week; it may not come next week.  So we kind of just plan…  we constantly vary all our workouts every week.


All right, our organized chaos.  This is how we started, and then we plan-out our season.  This is going into this summer’s Far Westerns.  This is some of the work that we did from June all the way until the end of July.


[Martellucci]:  Most of these workouts are on our CrossFit Kids website as well, so you can go back and see what we’ve done.


[Nabeta]:  This presentation is also on the Arden Hills website; the presentation has a link to our CrossFit Kids website where I post all of our workouts.  And some of my peers in my LSC actually going to go, and they will email me and ask me what the movement is.  And I’ll explain it to them.  I’m into sharing whatever we do at Arden Hills, and what I have.  I’m not saying that what we do is right or wrong, I just feel that it works for our team.


[audience member]:  What is the address of your site?


[Nabeta]:  It’s, and that’s in the presentation as well.


We present our workouts on big dry-erase boards.  So each group has different ways that I present it.  Our Senior group, we do a warm-up and then we go over agility work and then we go-ahead and do a workout.  So we have a warm-up up there.  We do 200 skips, we do some leg swings, do some Spiderman, and lunges, and also double-under work.  And then on that workout they went three minutes rowing 500 meters, and also max double-under amrap.


Our 11-14 year-olds, they’ll do a warm-up, they’ll do a skill, and then they’ll hit the workout.  And then 10&Unders, because they are pretty squirrely and they like awards; they like games at the end.  Our 10&Unders, they’ll do a warm-up, they’ll do a skill, they’ll do a workout and then they’ll finish with a game.  They love little games at the end.


And basically this is where Senior started in 2008, right here with all of these things right there.  Because the high schoolers started with CrossFit Kids, and we would do games.


And here are the games.  Cortney was awarded last night with that one.

  • CrossFit Baseball: We divide the teams into two. We have a buy-in.  We have movements at each base.  There are fun games for your teams; they’re fun for all age groups.  You determine the exercises at each base, and you split put them into two.  It’s a pretty interesting game.
  • CrossFit Dodgeball: No different than regular dodgeball, except for when you get hit by colored balls, you have to do what the exercise of the color ball is. And then they get to get back in—you don’t have to re-catch it.
  • CrossFit Cards—that is kind of long to explain.
  • And we also do MetCon Relays: whatever crazy kind of relay that you can create.


We like to do plate pushes, where we—my group—put 45-pound plates on a towel, yes on our basketball court.  And they do plate pushes across the basketball court.  There we go.


[inaudible audience comment]


So in CrossFit, a lot of what this movement is… when I do it outside, it’s a prowler push.  So basically, this will kill their calves; their calves will get be burning as well as their gluteus.  Their rear ends will.


Here’s your little kids.


[Martellucci]:  They are, I want to say, 8, 9, and 11.  The boys over there are a little stronger have 10-pound dumbbells, and the others have 5.  And this a relay, where they have to get out and od that five times, and stay together.  This is our very first day of dryland this year, so it’s not quite as together as we would be normally.  But they love dryland; they have a lot of fun.


[Nabeta]:  All right, so those are our games.


Here’s our retest and testing that we do.  I showed you that with Nick Johnson, Cathy Woo.  Karen is a 150 wall ball.  We like to row, so a lot of our rowing tests and retests are 500, 1,000 and 2,000 meters for time.


Depth by 10 meters is an endurance workout.  If you have a tennis court at your club, this is a great one.  From sideline to sideline of your tennis court, line-up your kids on the sideline.  Every minute on the minute, have them add 10 meters.  So they’ll go from one side to the other side, and they’ll think it’s boring at the beginning.  By the time two minutes, three minutes, four minutes, five minutes… by the time they get up to about twelve minutes they’re going 12 times back-and-forth within the minute.  Then at the thirteen minute they are running 13, 14… until they cannot go anymore and their legs feel like they are going to fall off.


Flight simulator.  I’ve only completed that once, and it’s not a very fun workout.  It’s double-unders, unbroken.  So 10 double-unders unbroken, then you go to 20, then you go to 30, 40, 50.  Every time you breakup a set you, you have to restart the number that you were on.  And you go all the way up to 100 and then come back down.


The hardest one that we have, that we do with our kids, is that work out right there called Fran.  The names Annie, Karen, Fran, they are hurricanes, okay; they are named after horrible things, and you feel that way.  So thrusters: 21 reps, 15 reps, 9 reps.  They do dumbbell thrusters and pull-ups, and it’s very high intensity.  For our kids, they use anywhere between 10-, 15- and 20-pound dumbbells, okay.  That’s light on CrossFit; the Fran-prescribed is a 135-pound thrusters, and regular pull-ups, okay.  My best time with Fran is 3:45, okay.  My kids doing thrusters and pull-ups, do about the same time or faster—if they are adequate at pull-ups.


We also do tests of 100 burpees for time to a 6-inch target.  So they will raise their hands, we’ll measure 6-inches above their hands.  So they will come down, and they will jump-up and touch the 6-inch target.


A lot of these workouts, such as Karen, the Burpees, Fran, we do a lot of the test during the short-course season.  Because with the amount of walls that we have, I want their leg-strength to be as powerful as we can get them, and be in great shape.


Taper WODs.  We realize that the kids, swimmers, definitely want to feel strong during taper.  The last couple of tapers, in the last two years prior, swimmers told me that they were sore all the time.  This Spring and Summer, I started coming-up with workouts that we were about seven days out, they felt strong.  Swimmers carry a positive mindset and feeling strong; we had less complaints of soreness during taper time.  And what we did, consideration for WODs: decreased overall intensity, maintain movement standards, and explosive movements with even lighter load.  So we were still moving.  We were still creating intensity, but just not as heavy.  So they weren’t as sore, but they felt strong.


And we tell them they’re doing a good job.  You know the kids like to hear is dryland is fun.  At the younger age, we probably get bigger attendance during dryland than some of the swim workouts.


(And we are back to movements.)


I appreciate you guys coming out.  I know that I said it during the presentation earlier: CrossFit can be scaled.  It’s not what you see on TV, okay; it really isn’t.  You guys need to understand that.


I was hesitant to present this.  John Leonard asked me, and I said, “You know, I do CrossFit with my swim team.”  And he said that would be great to talk about here.  And the more I thought about it, four months ago, I was like you know I really don’t want to talk about CrossFit.  Because all I hear from other people is like CrossFit will injure you, CrossFit will do this, CrossFit will do that, you’ll hate it and all of this stuff.  We have been working for five years at this, and if you see: we take care of our little kids.  We take care of them as they grow up from kindergarten all way up to being seniors in high school.  We watch every movement that they’re doing, and we scale them appropriately.  That’s important, okay.


I have been asked if kids have been hurt during CrossFit.  I had a kid trip on his way to CrossFit, and sprain his ankle.  Okay?  So they’ve been injured that way.  I had a kid forget to look at the flags; sprained his wrist on the wall, okay.  I try to keep as best eye I can on them, but the kids also have to pay attention to what they’re doing.  Not just in dryland, but in swimming.  So I lay a lot of responsibility on them as well.


[audience member]:  Are you guys actually a CrossFit affiliate?


[Nabeta]:  We are a CrossFit affiliate club.  On the far right-hand column of the main webpage, down at the bottom with Steve’s club.


[audience member]:  What is a double under?


[Nabeta]:  The rope goes under their feet twice.


[audience member]:  Do you do competition burpees (chest-to-ground) or does it matter?


[Martellucci]:  Yes; the chest must touch the ground.


Are there any other movements you guys aren’t clear about?


[audience member]:  This is a question for Brian.  With the Senior group can you talk a little bit about testing and tracking.  Is it formal or informal?  Do they do it?  Do you do it?


[Nabeta]:  I track their… they don’t know I’m recording everything down.  I take pictures and I go home; I take pictures of the workout results and then I take it home and I put it on an Excel sheet.


[audience]:  Can they monitor their development?


[Nabeta]:  Yes.  They will ask me what they did before.  And the majority of the time, if they are at the workout… like I’ll have one or two that miss a morning and they won’t be there.  But I’ll let them know how fast they’ve gone.  Similar to like the 3,000 for time, in the afternoon or something—10×300.


[audience member]:  Do you think it’s still beneficial enough to present to people who are injury prone?


[Nabeta]:  I believe so.  I mean the scaling of our workouts to make their shoulders stronger, and doing presses with 5-pound, 7.5-pound, 10-pound dumbbells.  I believe it has.  We actually have rehabilitated my Junior National 200 flyer who… Nolan Rogers is in here.  He had shoulder issues, we started doing CrossFit and Matt Spallas has not had any shoulder issues.  We actually have made him stronger in areas where he needed to be stronger at.


[audience member]:  Do you do stretching before and after your practice?


[Nabeta]:   We do a lot during the beginning of the workouts.  A lot of it came from like I said the NSCA trainers.  I took a lot of their stretching and a lot of their warm-up.  And dynamic warm-up and agility warm-up, and then we do the workouts.  So I actually took from them… I learned from them more than they learned from me.


Any other questions?  Yes.


[audience member]:  How long is your dryland session?


[Nabeta]:  Our dryland session will depend on our planning—seasonal planning.  Some WODs are an hour, some are 30 minutes.  Depending on… like if we do Annie, Annie is only is 50-40-30-20-10 of double-unders and sit-ups.  That workout, for that one little girl, Cathy, only took her 5:01 to do it.  So if we warm-up, do Annie; we’re done within a half an hour.


There was another one over here.  Yes?


[audience member]:  So do they do this and then go in the pool?


[Nabeta]:   Yes, we do it in the morning.  When they get into the pool, our main emphasis in the pool after a CrossFit workout is all technique-based.  We do active-recovery swimming with technique.  Cortney covers the short-axis kids in the morning, I go with the longer-axis kids; and all we do is stroke technique.  And we go between 2,000 and 3,000 yards after it.  They’re fatigued and we are working on good skills, while they are tired.


[audience member]:  What about with the 10&Unders?


[Martellucci]:  10&Unders, they do dryland twice a week.  Depending on which group they’re in, they may go Monday-Friday or Wednesday-Saturday.  And they go 45 minutes to an hour of dryland, and then we go to the pool for the last 30-45 minutes—it just depends on we spend on dryland.  And when I do it, we’ll do a look of drill work that day; we’ll do kicking on their back. Because they’re body’s tired from the CrossFit.  And I feel like, as a coach, I don’t give them much time on their back.  And then I try to end with sprints.


[audience member]:  Are you two the only coaches that are doing this on your team?  Or do you monitor the other coaches dryland?


[Nabeta]:  Yes we monitor what the other coaches are doing; we do staff training.  My goal is to get all of my staff down to the CrossFit Kids so that they have even-more in-depth idea of what we’re trying to get them to.  But we incorporate a lot of teaching to our staff in order for them to understand what the movements are when their kids are going through CrossFit.   Like my pre-Senior group goes Monday-Wednesday morning, Thursday afternoon.  So they will know exactly what the movement standards are on those mornings and afternoon.


[audience member]:  What do you set the baseline for the 2K in your plan?  What’s the length of time before you test again?


[Nabeta]:   Our 2K, when I was charting it out, was once in the Fall, once in January, and once in March.  And then we did one more in the middle of summer, and I didn’t date it, so it was kind of off.  Alright


Any other questions?  Thank you very much for coming out.



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