ASCA Newsletter Changing

ASCA Newsletter Changing

Dear ASCA Members,

Someone smart once said: “The only thing that is certain in life is change.”
ASCA is about to make a change, as an experiment, and we would appreciate your feedback (good or not so good). The ASCA Newsletter is about to go electronic… at least for the next three months (July, August, September).

Our perception is that this move will have the following beneficial effects for our members:
1. Members will receive their newsletter instantaneously, instead of our lengthy and cumbersome print-and-mail at non-profit rate of speed.
2. The ASCA Newsletter can be read on all our various electronic devices. It appears our younger colleagues prefer this.
3. For those who like print, it will be in a pdf download. So if you are like me and like paper, you can print it (all or part) at home.
4. The Newsletter (or selected parts of it) can be passed on more easily to certain populations like your team parents or athletes.
5. We will have no restrictions on pages of content. We can send you more to choose from!
6. We can send the Newsletter in full color.

Like all change, this one will have pros and cons. (We don’t know what the cons are yet, we’re counting on you to tell us!)

Once you’ve tried it and if you want to express feedback, please send it directly to me at

All the best to everyone, and thank you for strengthening our Profession by being an ASCA Member!

John Leonard

p.s. To access the electronic version of the ASCA Newsletter, please log into your account and proceed to the “Member Home” page. You will find them there.


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

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

Questions: John Leonard, ASCA,


The Path to Clean Swimming

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

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

Which leaves us with “WHAT TO DO”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Leonard

American And World Swimming Coaches Association.


The Nature of Information in the Age of the Internet

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

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

Information without context, “is the Devil.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    All the Best, John Leonard


    Just A Reminder

    Your ASCA Membership is Tax Deductible as professional dues.

    Why not become a Life Member of the American Swimming Coaches Association?

    • A financial bargain. $600 for a lifetime membership ($1,000 for International). Do you expect to coach for at least 9 years? Every year after that is FREE! (Based on current dues of $70 a year) Never wonder again if you’ve paid your membership dues!
    • Tax deductible as professional dues.
    • Lifetime Member Certificate.

    Or consider ASCA Life Plus Membership

    LIFE PLUS gives you:

    • Free registration to all ASCA World Clinics and associated Certification Levels 1-5 Schools, plus annual Awards Banquet and a World Clinic Yearbook. (This will average out to be valued at over $350 a year.)
    • Free copies of all ASCA Certification Level 1-5 Schools and Enrichment / Enhancement Education Schools, both existing and those to be developed in the future. (23 exist now and new courses are constantly added. This is a $600 plus value.)
    • Life Plus wall plaque.
    • LIFE PLUS COST IS $1,500 for US Members. This may be paid in a lump sum, or in 3 payments of $500 over a 12 month period. ($2,000 for International, due in one single payment.)

    You can make this investment by calling Melanie Wigren at our office at 1-800-356-2722, or go online to (membership).


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

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

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

    Read More

    The Journal of Swimming Research Returns! (Volume 18)

    After a hiatus of several years while searching for both an editor and a business model to make the JSR work, we are once again “back in business.” The new, improved Journal of Swimming Research can be found on the ASCA homepage, Research Journal section. The JSR was initially conceived in 1984 by my predecessor, the academically gifted Dr. Keith Sutton, who became a good friend of mine. He and his talented wife Mary (also a Ph.D) gave birth to the first peer-reviewed JSR (a first for swimming as a sport!) in 1984 and after Keith’s untimely early death, Mary continued as editor for many years and put out a number of top quality issues of JSR. Following Mary, Dr. Joel Stager of Indiana University gave selflessly of his time and energy to continue the publication and advanced it further. Now taking the Journal into an online publication is one of the original editors, Dr. Jan Prins of the University of Hawaii. We are indebted to Dr. Prins for his energy, enthusiasm and applied intellect to make this publication a vibrant and coach-useful entity once more.

    From Keith and Mary, to Joel and Jan, this is indeed a labor of love. For us coaches it is a peer-reviewed source of “real science” that we can depend on.

    Our thanks to all these great scientists for their persistence, and dedication to cause of “real science” for coaches. Many warm thanks!

    – John Leonard

    Incredible. Really.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Time for a Change. Incredible.

    John Leonard

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


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

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

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

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

    John Leonard

    Executive Director, American Swimming Coaches Association.


    American Swimming Coaches Association Board Establishes New Objective.

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

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

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

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