Thank you very much; it is an honor to be here. I just thought this was a talk, I didn’t know it was a keynote address. But I was actually motivated by Tim’s introduction because changing for success is… I’ve been wrestling with this all summer with how to address this subject because I think it’s very important. However, for me I think it’s a little hard to address.
You know, years ago when I was in college I went to school with a fellow by the name of Butch Simel and Butch swam for Doc Counselman in the summer when he was in high school. I wanted to be a swimming coach since I was twelve years old and so I would ask everybody every question possible about coaching swimming. I asked Butch about Doc Counselman all the time and one of the stories he told me was about the guys on his team- the great swimmers of the late 50’s and the early 60’s. They asked Doc Counselman not to tell anybody what they were doing because they didn’t want anybody to copy them and catch up with them, and Doc said, “Boys, don’t worry about it, I’m going to tell them what we are doing, but by the time I tell them, we’ll be doing something different and we are going to change.”
I think of Tiger Woods as having one of the most successful golf careers of all time and he purposefully took his game apart and re-created it so that it would be better. In fact it did get better and that is when he went on that long streak of winning so many tournaments in a row and all the majors and so on. It takes a lot of courage to truly change. How many of you have taken a class from a teacher who has been giving the same lecture from the same notes using the same text for years and years? I don’t know about you but I’ve taken a few classes like that and there is no passion in the presentation and there is no passion in that teaching. They are just going through the motions, why? Because it is a little bit easier just do what I did last year.
I think we need to ask ourselves, “Are we as a country and are you as a coach being as successful as you can be?” You know we have more swimmers than any other country in the world and we have more facilities than any other country in the world and my guess is that we have as much money as any other country in the world involved in our sports. I think it ought to be celebrated and I’m proud of what we have accomplished in the last few Olympic games, but it is my dream that we be much better than that. Do I think that we can win every single race in the Olympic games? I’m not sure of that anymore. There could be outstanding swimmers like Ian Thorp and Inge de Bruijn that come a long from various countries, but if we can’t beat those people we ought to be right behind them. I do believe that the United States ought to win the majority of the races in the Olympic games because of the number of athletes we have swimming and the resources we have. It’s a little bit like looking at a race where I see a fall- you know when you see a race and somebody has gone their best time or maybe even a world record and you can say, “Wow, I see a place to improve.” That ought to be exciting to all of us. Can we improve? Without a doubt we can. If we are going to celebrate the success of our teams or athletes then we also need to ask ourselves when a team doesn’t perform as well as it should or can and when an athlete doesn’t perform as well as they should, what role are we playing and what do we need to change to be fully achieving? And I can tell you that this talk is going to be incomplete because that is an open-ended question that we have to ask ourselves all the time.
How can we change and how can we improve so our athletes fully achieve? What keeps us from changing? Well, the first thing I thought of was laziness like I talked about that professor, but I’m going to assume that doesn’t exist in this room here, but there are some people in other areas of life that don’t change because it’s just easier to stay the same. I would say the thing that keeps us from changing the most is fear. After all, I was relatively successful last year doing it this way. Wow, what if I change and I’m not quite as successful? I’m sure Tiger Woods had to ask himself that question. I’ll tell you even a closer story. Misty Hyman as you know is a great underwater athlete. Bob Gillette did an outstanding job of training what I call the fifth stroke. There is butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle and underwater. In fact, she trained underwater so much with Bob that her heart rate would go down when she was racing underwater, she was so relaxed under there. In the Olympic trials Misty Hyman went nine kicks off of the start and each turn and went 2:09.3, her lifetime best time to make the Olympic team. A few days after that success of making the Olympic team, and that was huge, I asked Misty to change. I said, “Misty, I believe I know that you can be much faster if you go nine kicks off of the start, seven off of the first turn and six the last two turns, I know you can be faster.” You should have seen her eyes; they got big. Why? Because she believed in the underwater part of her racing and she wasn’t quite as convinced in the surface swimming. I told her, “I’ll prove it to you in the training camp.” But fear almost kept me from suggesting it and fear almost kept her from doing it. But if you are willing to take that extra step, there is a risk involved, but take that risk coaches; take that risk with your athletes as they are looking for that kind of leadership from you.
I think it would help in the fear factor if you remember a few things when you’re looking at change. There is no such change in this sport as being successful easily, remember that. When you’re looking to change, look to change to get better, but don’t look to change for it to get easier. Every time I’ve witnessed a coach or an athlete that is searching for change to get easier they get easier to beat. There is no easy way of being successful here; extraordinary performance is a result of extraordinary preparation. There is another principal with regard to change; don’t change everything at once, it is tough enough to evaluate those things that you do change in your program to know if they are working or not. If you change everything at once, you don’t know what is working and you don’t know what’s not working. So remember the principal, don’t change everything at once.
But I’ll say there is another principal, don’t do the same thing two years in a row. Make some changes. Be looking and we’ll talk about that in just a minute, but be looking for ways you can help your athletes be more successful than they have every been, not just a little bit better. What if everybody on our teams improved three to seven percent? We would contend with every race in the Olympic games, every single record on our books would be broken. I’d also suggest to you that you seek the advice of experts both in this sport and outside of this sport. I’m going to go over a few people that were involved in our Olympic effort. They are experts that I sought advice from and I’m going to talk a little bit about each one of them because I want you to realize that in most cases, I don’t look at the normal situation when I think about change.
Ross Gary. Ross Gary was my associate head coach for ten years for Stanford and he just resigned that position this fall, or this spring. When Ross came he had never coached at a Division I school. He was a black belt in some martial arts, he is an artist of some paint stuff that he even sells, and he just has some enormous talents outside of swimming. I’ll never forget when I interviewed Ross, I interviewed him for the job and I was asking him about his swimming background and so on and it wasn’t very impressive. I was asking him about what his interests were and about what he thought he could bring to the team, and it became more impressive because of his varied interests and his varied expertise. But then, even when the interview was over with I thought, “I’m going to hire somebody that I’ve either worked with before or who has produced certain things.” But I kept comparing everybody to Ross. He was better than I was in many areas.
Bill Boomer. Bill Boomer has been working with our team on the technique of swimming with the suggestions on training from 1991. Now, Bill coached a Division III college team and a lot of the men’s swimmers he coached probably would have had trouble making the women’s team at Stanford. I tell you that I look for an expert and it doesn’t have to be someone who produced an Olympic champion to be a real resource. Many of you have heard Bill speak and many of you have had him work with your swimmers. I’m proud to say I’m one of the first I think to have him work with elite level swimmers and I was really excited about that.
Richard Diane. I had a guy named Richard Diane work with us. Richard Diane is in the psychology of things. Knowing awareness thinking. I’ll talk to you a little bit more about that but it related specifically to Misty’s race in the Olympic games. Pat Hogan’s known me for a long, long time. And he knows that I’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars on motivational self-image tapes, self-image psychology and all that kind of thing. I was looking for the psychological side of things that would help our athletes be better and I know I found it in the guy named Richard Diana. And you know something, he doesn’t have a degree in psychology and he helped us win and that is all I cared about it. Quickly let’s go on to some other examples.
Robert Ware. We had a guy work with us in the strength and conditioning program and in strength training. Robert Ware is the track and field coach at Stanford and he worked with Jenny and with Dara as their individual strength trainers. I’m telling you all this because if you are going to think about change and there is a little fear factor involved and there always is, seek the advice of experts in and outside of the field.
Tom McCook, Dale Perry, Bob Cooley & Tom Longo. Going down the list, I had Tom McCook in pilates and Dale Perry in a massage that helped the lymph system recover, and Bob Cooley and Tom Longo in a thing called Meridian Resistance Stretching (some of you saw pictures of Dara being stretched that way). I better mention my wife, a physical therapist who was with us. I actually put together $100,000.00 by fund raising and took some of these people to Sydney. In fact, I took all of these people to Sydney to help us win.
Ganodga Socoloff. I also seek the advice of Ganodga Socoloff with USA Swimming. Gonadga is committed to a type of training called Parametric Training, and he has thousands of swimmers in the history of developing this program.
Johnny Skinner. Johnny Skinner, what a resource! I wonder why he’s not presenting every single time- he doesn’t present at one of our conventions. As far as I know from a scientific standpoint, he looks at swimming from a lot of different points of view and I seek his advice on a regular basis.
Dennis Pursey. Dennis Pursey is our National Team Director. I’d like to tell you that Dennis played a significant role in Misty’s win and it was pretty neat. We were in the Olympic training camp and Misty did an outstanding set and Dennis walked over to her and said, “Misty, when I was coaching Mary Teamaher, she never could do anything like that.” Misty felt like a million dollars.
Seek the advice of experts it’ll help you. Say to yourself that you can’t know everything about everything. You don’t know what you don’t know until you ask a lot of questions. Right now, I’ll just give you a couple of examples of things I’m looking at. There is a guy named Jay Shrader in Phoenix Arizona who is working with us and he developed a different concept in strength and power development. Now, Jay worked with a defensive back who was about the 20th round draft pick in the NFL draft. This guy went to the NFL and blew all of the records away and he credited his success to Jay Shrader’s program. So, I did some calling around, and I went down to Phoenix to meet with Jay Shrader. I don’t know whether I’m going to use it or not, but I’m interested in knowing if it made a difference and how it may have made a difference. And I can tell you from what I’ve seen that it is not easier and I think it may be something to look at.
I almost panicked when Ross Gary resigned. I didn’t know what I was going to do and then all of the sudden I got excited about the change. I talked Milt Nilns into being our volunteer coach for the next three years and Bill’s kind of retiring from swimming. Bill Boomer and Milt kind of followed him around the country so I got Milt involved in our program. I’m excited about the change, sorry the change had to take place in some cases, but I’m excited about the change.
I would like you to think about a few things with regard to training that you might consider looking at with regard to change. It was kind of interesting to me this summer, as I was visiting with a coach on a pool deck, and he was describing to me that because school started so early he was only able to train once a day during the school year. So, six days a week he trained once a day for three to three and a half hours a session and he found out that his boys got stronger. There are those that would say rather than getting somebody up at 4:30 in the morning, especially a young developing boy, that they ought to let them sleep so that their growth hormone can work a little bit longer to make them stronger. But his kids were faster in every event, distance, sprinting, and everything. The girls were leaner than if they had been training twice a day. He had comments from other coaches talking about it and it reminded me of Murray Stephens, who was kind of forced into a similar situation with Anita Noll. Am I suggesting that you train once a day? No, I’m not, but Anita, during the winter trained once a day and broke the world record in the 200-meter breaststroke and won the Olympic trials in both events. I think the 100 was the American record back in 1992.
Now let’s look at the other side of that equation. Janet Evans is a 4:03 400-meter freestyler. Janet trained three times a day for about three or four times a week. I’m not even sure that Bud McAllister knows that Janet trained that middle workout because that was with her mother and it was in a short course meter pool in a health club. It was the same workout everyday that broke all the rules, the same workout everyday with her mother. She would time a 100 freestyle, time a 100 backstroke, time a 100 breaststroke (on no interval by the way, just whenever she is ready to go), time a 100 butterfly, time a 200 freestyle, time a 400 individual medley, and time an 800 freestyle or butterfly. She trained three times a day, three days a week at least and sometimes four.
George Hanes, in 1968 I believe was the year, he suggested to his team that three days a week we are going to train 3 times a day and he really had to talk them into it, it was hard to convince them. Now, just in the summer, guys we are going to train three times a day for three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, that middle workout will be a sprint type of workout. And that year he put, I believe 14 people on the Olympic team in 1968. Well, in 1972 when he suggested three times a day, there was a flood of people who wanted to do it; everybody wanted to jump into that. So, am I telling you to train once a day or am I telling you to train three times a day? I’m not doing either I’m just saying evaluate what you are doing. Look at possible different schedules of training.
There is another thing in training, and I referred to it a little bit earlier, but I would consider, writing, e-mailing or talking with Gonadga Sokoloff and this applies to every single person in this room, because his information is not just for Olympians it is for beginning competitive swimmers all the way to Olympic champions. But ask him about Parametric Training and try to figure out what it is. It is a logical progression of training within a season and it is a logical progression of training from year to year. It may help us build more Olympic champions, and I think it’s worth looking at. He is an employee of our United States swimming.
In the area of strength and conditioning, I think we need to look at a difference, at a change. I probably should have talked about this first, but technique is extremely important. The higher the velocity the more important the technique is. We will talk about that in a minute, however, there are many athletes that I get at Stanford, and I’m asking them to put their bodies in a position that is impossible for them to achieve because their posture is not right. This is due to the fact that in their land based development it is incomplete and different, because most of our kids have been swimming since they were young. Because of the gravity effect on your body and so on, you develop some posture characteristics that are detrimental to high velocity swimming.
I really believe that we need to look at that area of our athlete’s development. Too often and whatever level it is, we say as coaches, “O.K. here is the dryland program; it is over there and it is written on the board.” And people actually develop bad habits that make it impossible to do in the water what you want them to do. I think you ought to look at exercises such as what could pilates do in somebody’s development? What could gymnastics do in somebody’s development? You know that we have had several great swimmers at Stanford, Misty Hyman, Shelly Ripple, Catherine Fox, and all of those people had gymnastics in their background and to be honest with you they are simply better land athletes than many of the other girls on our team that haven’t had that kind of thing in their background. I really think that one of the things that Dave Salo is doing so well with his team is, when I watch and I don’t know the specifics of what he is doing but I just see his kids involved in dryland exercises, I see young developing kids and games outside of the pool that are leading to the success he is having with people in the pool.
I referred to Robert Ware and you know Jenny Thompson was a great swimmer and had been winning national championships here and even world championships and so on, but I didn’t believe that she was swimming as fast as she could. She didn’t have the front-end speed that she needed and I convinced her that she needed to be stronger and would she consider hiring Robert Ware to work with her one on one in the weight room. Now, ladies and gentlemen, there are some of us in this room that say, “Oh, I don’t have the money for that, maybe your athletes do; they have money to go to McDonalds, and they have money to go to the movies and buy pizza and all that stuff. They are going to put in a lot of hours in the pool, maybe they can put some money, or a small group of people can put some money in a personal trainer that has had experience with young kids and help with the postural development of the athletes. That way, when you start working on technique in the water, the kids can at least get their bodies into that position.” I would like to suggest another thing and I kind of got this from Paul and I don’t know if he said this or not. “” said the more that girls can become like guys with regard to strength and power, the more successful they are going to be as athletes. If you’ve looked at his teams, they are very physically fit, strong powerful kids. Inge de Bruijn was unbelievably strong and powerful in the Olympic games. You know, even a lot of people think that maybe there was something going on there that wasn’t legal. I don’t believe that for an instant and I’ve been accused of believing that by the way, and I don’t. But I think that what went on there was so much hard work in a dryland program that had steroidal like effects on your body. And you can have that if you want your girls to significantly improve. You can get them more guy like as far as strength and power is concerned.
I would like you to consider another thing with regard to changing and that is in your strength programs and your exercise programs and your swimming program as far as that goes. If you do the same thing for six to eight weeks, chances are you’ve come close to or you’ve maximized the benefit your going to get out of that routine. That means you need to change that routine, do different exercises, or do a different activity all together. One of the things that I’ve kind of noticed is that we’ve done some things like step aerobics, we’ve done some things like taebo, and we’ve done swimming. But, if we keep doing those things for much more than six to eight weeks, then the benefit we are getting isn’t as good. We are better off changing to a different routine. So, when you’re doing your dryland work, change it so that it has a real adaptation to the body. I think circuit training is great for that but change your exercises.
You know that there are a couple of interesting things we’ve done in our strength program, again this is at a suggestion of Ross. We were lifting weights and we would have one person over here and one person over here let’s say on a bench press, and we put 250 pounds on a bar for a girl to hold. Now, I don’t have a girl that can bench press 250 pounds, but if you just put it on the bar, it stimulates the nervous system to hold that much weight. We did the same thing in legs and we got the legs unbelievably stronger and it was unbelievable how much weight the girls could hold. Now, did we ask them to move it? No. But the next time we asked them to move some weight, they were able to move a lot more. Look for different ways to train, don’t stay with the same thing. The higher the velocity the more important the elimination of resistance becomes.
You know as a college coach I get to travel around the country quite a bit and see various programs because I’m recruiting in those programs. I see coaches that are really working hard and I see athletes that are really working hard, but I see a sellout on both sides quite a bit and you could probably say the same if you come to my program. You see, I think that I’m under achieving at Stanford, and I hope that is not used against me in recruiting. But I do thing that we ought to get 3 to 5 to 7 percent improvement and I’m going to keep searching until we do, because I know that we can. But when I go around to these programs, I see a kid working hard and the coach letting the kid get away with stuff technically that puts a limit as to how fast they are ever going to be able to swim. The kid is giving you all they have and they are really working hard, but you are letting them get away with flawed technique because the effort is great. Then, when we get to a race and everything else is equal, the technique that you allowed to slip through your fingers in going to cost that athlete.
I would like to suggest something to you. I watched Mike Barryman preparing for the Olympic games in the 200-meter breaststroke in 1992 and his coach Joseph Noge, and I’ll never forget this. They were doing a set of 200’s and I can’t remember the exact number but I’m going to say it was something like sixteen. Sixteen 200’s, and the assignment was to maybe stay in one to four, but one of the technique assignments was to be aggressive going into the walls. On about 200 number fourteen Joseph stops the whole set cold and says, “Mike, you weren’t aggressive into the 3rd turn in that last 200 and so we are going to start this whole set all over again.” Now, Mike is madder than the devil, and I asked him afterwards who he was mad at, was he mad at Joseph or was he mad at himself. He said, “I was mad at myself Richard, because I knew that I needed to be aggressive going into the walls. That was the assignment in the set, and while I hated it, I respected Joseph for making me do the right thing.” And by the way, in the race he was so aggressive going into the walls he disappeared on people there. So, from a technical standpoint, I would suggest to you that many of us need to make this change that in our training, technique needs to be a part of training. It is not something that is done at the beginning of practice or the beginning of the season, and it is not something that is done only at certain times at practice. It is done all the time.
You know, I think it takes a real talent and it is a lot of hard work to write out practices and so on, but I really believe that that’s on the easier side of coaching. The coaching is when that kid is giving you everything they have physically, but they are not doing it mentally. To pay attention to the small differences will make the big difference in the end. I think you are doing a disservice asking them not to perfect their technique, under the pressure of your coaching.
You know, I think another thing we need to change is being more scientific in coaching, and you know that is not an easy thing for me to do, but I’m trying. I’ve been coaching now for 35 years and I keep working at being more scientific. The one thing I’ll say is, I think science has it’s own limitations. Science only measures what they can measure, and there are some things that I think have to do with the establishment velocity and the maintenance of velocity that science can’t measure. But, does that mean that I want to throw all of science away? That is not question and that’s not the case. Become more scientific and use the scientific resources that exist at USA swimming and that exists in the local libraries. Look outside our sport, and look at track and field. We can learn from track and field, you know with regard to technique. And this is probably a Bill Boomer proverb, but you ought to think about your posture and your line and how you balance that line before you think about how you propel that. Because if there is a flaw in those areas, in your posture line and balance, then there is a limit as to how fast you’re going to be able to swim. I really believe that that’s the relationship between coaching from the inside, out.
Tiger Woods can hit the golf ball farther than anybody else, because he uses his body better than anybody else does on the pro golf tour. He is not the biggest and he is not the strongest but he uses his body the best. All great swimmers that I’ve seen use their bodies the best and their body is not in the way of propulsion. You know, everybody looks back at Janet Evans, a 4:03 400-meter freestyler and says, “Wow, what could she have been with a great stroke.” You can get some slow motion videotapes of Janet Evans, and check out that her posture, line and balance are nearly perfect. Be careful what you look at when you’re looking at technique. Try to look at it differently and try to look at what you don’t see.
I think that there is another area in technique that we need to all become aware of and that is the relationship between distance per cycle and stroke rate. How many of us really work on that? I can tell you that I was pretty impressed with a talk I heard at Colorado Springs at the College Swimming Coaches Association when Mark Debarindino was talking about Ed Moses. Ed can tell you every stroke he took, in every set he took in practice. He can tell you the stroke counts on all of his races. When he gets out he says, “I took this many strokes, this many, this many, this many, what was my rate coach?” Well, Misty Hyman is the same way. “I took this many kicks under water, I swam this many strokes on the surface.” Bob Gillett, he didn’t take splits, except five stroke splits, so that they could give her a stroke rate and how it was disintegrating as she went down the pool or how it has maintained the same, and he gave her information in that respect. I learned a lot from Bob through Misty. But look at distance per cycle. You know, I’m not up here to promote a product, but I think that aqua pacer helped Brooke Bennett. Look into it as a possibility- it may make a difference.
There are a couple of other areas that I would like to talk about real quickly and one of them is nutrition. Ladies and gentleman, we are in the fast food time of life and keep in mind that the parents of today’s young athletes grew up in fast food. Now, my parents did not grow up on fast food, and because I’m a little older and everything, I probably got a little bit healthier food. At that time they were at least rotating the crops. Now, they plant due to fertilizers and all the stuff that they can do to the soil they are planting the same crops on the same fields every single year and the scientists will tell you that the nutrition is not longer in our food. And we don’t eat that anyway because we are eating fast food; your kids are a lot. And even if your kids are eating “a good diet”, and I’ll bet you that ninety percent of the mothers out there are eating a good balanced diet, I’m going to suggest to you that for an elite athlete performance you need to look into cutting edge nutrition. If you are going to ask and if your going to look into cutting edge training look into the fuel that your athletes are putting in their mouth that may effect their performance one way or the other. I don’t have any certain thing there, but I do think that elite athlete performance is a lot related to the type of food that we eat.
Nutrition habits can be similar to swimming habits. It appears to be that kids can get away with things but you know things can develop as a bad habit. Just like young kids can get away with flaws in their technique. Why? Because their velocity is not very strong, they are not going very fast, so they can get away with flaws in their stroke. Then, when everybody starts going faster, if they have flaws, it catches up to them. The same thing is true with nutrition. When their body’s start changing, if they’ve grown up with bad habits, it is very difficult to change those habits. You ladies and gentleman can be a catalyst for change in that area and I suggest that you look into it. There are a lot of articles out there and you know what you decide on is probably not as important as just showing real concern in that area, but I think it’s worth looking at.
The psychology of excellence is in performance. There is a psychology to it. You know all of what I’m talking about with regard to change is based on the fact that I know that someday women are going to break 50 seconds for the 100-meter freestyle. Women are going to break four minutes for a 400-meter freestyle and two minutes for a 200-meter butterfly and a 200-meter backstroke. Can we do the same things that we are doing training 2:05? We can’t, but we have a chance. So, if you believe, and I really believe in that belief system, if you believe that these things are physically possible and I know that they are, then you’ve got to work on that psychology. And it didn’t come out of any book or anything. But I’ll never forget that when I was coaching swimming at Dallas Swim Club and Iowa State University before I went to Auburn, I used to call Eddie Reese quite often and Eddie would get talking about how fast his swimmers were going to swim; I got kind of sick of it. You know what it was? There were extraordinary times that they were going to swim, and did they all swim them? No, but a few bought into it, and a lot more bought into it then if it was never mentioned to them. I know that when I got to Texas and was coaching the women’s team on the other end of the pool, he was telling his kids how fast they were going to swim.
You know there is some psychology going on at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club with Michael Phelps. Wow, what a swimmer, but the swimmer and the coach, Bob, they believe there is not a limitation with psychology. I had a terrific experience with Richard Diana in Knowing Awareness Thinking and I want to tell you how important the psychology is. Do you have that resource? Probably not, but do you have some resource to improve the situation you’re in? I think you do.
I took Richard to Sydney, and he trained Misty and I and our whole team in knowing awareness thinking and very generally. In knowing awareness thinking we are all functioning in our original state or our learn state. If you are functioning in your learn state you are not at your optimum, and if you are in your original state you have a better chance of being at your full potential. Misty swam the preliminaries of the 200 Butterfly and went a 2:07 in the Olympic games. It was an original state swim, she was relaxed and she was flowing; it was a beautiful swim. In the semifinals she swam about 2 10ths slower and she was beat in her heat It was an ugly swim and it was horrid. Being trained in the psychology of it, I was able to say to Misty, “That was a learn state swim, wasn’t it?” And she said, “Yeah, it was.” I said, “What put you in your learn state?” And she identified four things. She said she didn’t know what her warm up was going to be. She had been swimming for how many years, and she doesn’t know what her warm-up is going be at the Olympic games. She didn’t know what her warm-up was going to be when she came to the pool. She didn’t get the rub down she wanted from the person she wanted it from. When she went to the room to put on the new suit, the long suit that Forbes doesn’t like, it broke and she panicked. I was standing right outside the door, telling her to not worry, that she would be fine and had plenty of time. Then, she got in the ready room way to early. Those four things put her in her learn state, so she struggled.
This is what you could see developing, and I think that there are people on the U.S. Team and maybe I was even one of them that said, “Oh my gosh, here we go.” Misty has a little bit of a history of swimming fast in the preliminaries and not as fast as night, you know in the finals at the critical time, so I said, “Do you want it to be special tomorrow night Misty?” And yes was her answer. I didn’t say we were going to win but I said, “Do you want it to be special?” And she said, “Yes, I do.” And I said, “Let’s make sure we swim this thing in our original state. When you walk in you tell me what your warm-up is going to be, and if I have any suggestions I’ll give them to you. But you tell me what your warm-up is going to be, and you make sure you bring two suits, so if one of them breaks you can put the other one on. I’ll make sure that you don’t get in the ready room too early. When you go to this high performance center, which is located right outside of the Olympic Village, you tell them what you want because it is your day. So, she goes to the high performance center, and Dara is laying on the rub down table and Misty says, “Dara, get off the table, you’re not swimming today, I am.” Dara jumps off the table and gives me a call on the phone. She said, “Misty is going to be something tonight because she is in charge of her day.” She didn’t get the rub down, by the way.
One of the things I said to her was, “Now, you plan on something going wrong tomorrow.” Well it did. The guy who was going to give her her rub down in the high performance center got caught in traffic so she had to get that rub down from my wife, which was not her first choice. But, because she was ready for it, and we have both been trained in this knowing awareness thinking, she let it stick. She stayed in her original state because she knew that there was something that was going to go wrong. I’m not going to say that when she walked out on that deck that I knew she was going to win, but I know for a fact, that because she swam in her original state that she had a chance to win.
Now my suggestion to you is that you study the psychology of excellence and of performance in a lot of fields. You can study them in business and you can study them in other sports. You may not have the resource that I have, but you can get better in that and the psychology of winning, but it starts with you. It starts with your belief. You know that there is kind of a happy medium and I know that between too much pressure, you know what I’m talking about, because you don’t want anybody to ever get wrapped up in performance being their self worth. But by the same token, those kids want to please you for the most part, and they believe in you. Ask them for a lot and you’ll get a lot, ask them for excellence and you’ll get excellence.
I’m going to talk about, wow, a couple of other things I think we need to change in our sport and we need to be ready for it and I don’t have an answer. I think in the governing in our sport, that we as coaches need to take more responsibility for it. Athletes come and go, as do the volunteers and the officials, who are just parents of those athletes. They come and go and some of them stay a little longer but they are short timers. We are in it for the long haul and we are letting somebody else run our business. And some of us out here, just like you don’t think that you can put somebody on the Olympic team, you don’t think you can make a difference in the governing of the sport and you are wrong; you can make a difference. Most of you care more than the people who go to the U.S. Swimming Convention and are proposing legislation and voting on it. There is something wrong with the governing of our sport, when Peter Daland, who has been in this sport for over forty years and has been a many time Olympic coach, has the same vote as a fourteen year old girl who is coming to her first convention. She is helping to determine Olympic policy, and it is not that I’m against that, it is just out of place at that place.
Very seldom do we vote on excellence in any of our teams. If you voted on everything you’d vote toward mediocrity or the people would normally vote toward mediocrity. So I would like to challenge all of us to get more involved with the governing of our sport. There are more people voting on our sport and where it is going that are in it for the short term than you and I. That is at both the local swimming association level and lsc level. And I’m guilty, I don’t go to those meetings and then I get mad and want to be critical of what is going on when I should have been there.
Another thing that I would like to suggest to you is that we need to think about our sport as a family. We are involved in a real battle to save men’s collegiate swimming. I’m a college women’s swimming coach, so why should I be concerned about that? Women’s swimming is growing, and it has because of Title 9, but there is something like 300 more women’s swimming teams in this country at the collegiate level than there are men’s teams. But, you know something, if any area of swimming was hurt; summer league, high school, club, collegiate, post graduate; they were all hurt a little bit. We are all hurt. We all could lose the sport that we believe in and love. Be aware of how you might get involved in that effort and I really believe that it is a grass roots deal. I think United States swimming is going be the one, and I don’t think it is going to be the NCAA that saves men’s swimming. It is going to be the parents of your athletes riding the people that they vote on into Congress, somehow to put legal pressure, and legislative pressure on Universities to maintain Olympic sports, including swimming.
Now, I have a little video to end up here, to be honest with you it is Misty’s race and most of you saw that race on T.V. If you didn’t see it in person and I don’t want any sound on this, but what I would like to suggest is that if we’ll look to change for success maybe we can all celebrate and have this kind of a performance more often. Let’s see if it goes.
Video: I think this is some underwater footage before they show the race on the surface. Here is the race. Keep in mind, change in strategy accepted by the athlete made a difference here. After about 15 meters of surface swimming I didn’t know Misty was going to win but I knew she was going to be really fast because there was no panic in her swim, it was an original state swim. There was not a need on her part to win the first 50 and she didn’t win the first 50. She won the first rotation, and she won the underwater, and she was ahead beginning the next length. If you’ll notice the technique here and I just can’t get away from it, notice Misty’s rhythm is in front a lot more. Petra Thomas the girl next to her, in all due respect to Forbes, she is the strongest girl in that race by far but she is misdirecting that strength straight back and getting caught in the back of her stroke. Misty’s rhythm is more in front. Now, if you’ll notice in the last length, by the way on this turn, a lot of times we say the little things don’t make the big difference but you’ll notice the difference in rotation speed between Misty and Suzie and then notice the breakout momentum that Misty has right there. I believe the race was won in the underwater and the momentum at that breakout and that momentum carried Misty long enough that Suzie now is panicked just a little bit. And if you’ll notice, her strokes are getting shorter and there is more bend in her knees, which means she is more up and down. If you want to swim butterfly in as shallow water as you can, there is some change in technique that Misty also endures.
There we go. Thank you very much for listening to me. I showed the race at the end so that we all might realize that that kind of excitement, celebration and accomplishment can be achieved through great rate coaching and change. Tim, how do we want to go from here? The question is how do we approach change, because we are going to do something every year. The seniors on the team, by the time they are seniors, they know that there is going to be a difference every year. They kind of tell that to the freshman that are coming in and whenever I’m recruiting somebody I say this is what we did this year but I can’t guarantee what we are going to do next year because we haven’t formulated that yet. And we do that off of a season and we do it as a season progresses. To be honest with you, I think one of the real big things that we do is very early in the season we do work on technique along with the base conditioning. But we pair the athletes up so that an athlete is working with another athlete on their technique, and that really helps. Who do you think that helps the most? The teacher is learning more than the student is at that time, but there is a change off that way. So, I like to think that as our season progresses, we have 25 assistant coaches that are training in the pool helping each other from a technical standpoint. And, I can tell you that is great if you can ever achieve that.
I think that one of the things that was really achieved on the Olympic team this last time, was the willingness to work together to get better. And that is difficult to achieve on the Olympic team, because most of those people are after one thing and they are only going to give one thing in each event. They are only going to give one gold medal. What is real confidence? Real confidence is helping your opponent be the best that they can be and then be willing to race them and then saying to yourself, “Let the best man win.” Otherwise, what you’re hoping if you’re holding back information? And that is what I say to the team. If you’re holding back information because somebody is swimming the same event that you are, then you really don’t have confidence. You’re hoping that person doesn’t get that information, you’re hoping they have a bad day, you’re hoping they don’t sum up to their full potential; that is a chink in your armor.
I don’t know, I think team building is something that takes place like stroke technique it is everyday. I will say this; I had a coach from Australia visit this summer for a few days and he said to me, “Richard, I’ve never seen this before.” And I said, “What are you talking about.” He said, “The girls on your team are pulling for each other and they are encouraging each other. Our kids may work together in the same workout but they wouldn’t cheer for each other and they wouldn’t be pulling for each other as much.” Now, I don’t know whether that is just workouts he’s seen or what, but he had never seen that before among women. Now, among men he’d seen it, but not among women. One of the things that I ask our athletes to do is to share in everybody’s goals. You know not everybody has a goal in being an Olympic champion. But I’d like to think that everybody involved with Stanford swimming feels part of Misty’s success because they were part of the program and they were supportive of her and her efforts. She in return is supporting that person on our team who is struggling to qualify to swim in the PAC Ten Championships. It is not a one-way street. She has to support back that way and by the way she does.
(Question) Hi David. David is involved with that strength training development in Phoenix that I was involved with checking out with Jay Shrader. Dave, what was your question again? Really, I think the question is, “How do you establish a philosophy or rather your own philosophy and yet change?” And I don’t think anybody ought to change just to change. If you’re not changing for improvement, don’t change. But, I really believe that as a coach, if you are really involved in coaching and really involved in the study of improvement, then that change will come naturally. I think you have to have your receptors out there, like us looking at Jay’s program. I don’t know what we are going to do with it yet and I don’t know how we are going to fit it into our program or if we are, but we are going to look at it. And I know I’m going to learn something from it, even if we don’t adapt to everything that he would like us to. And you know the guys on our team are involved in Meridian resistance stretching. The guy’s name is Bob Cooley. Bob is writing a book on Meridian resistant stretching and he absolutely believes he can use Meridian resistance to stretch you right to an Olympic Gold Medal. That is not the case, but he believes that and he believes so much in his thing and that is the kind of person I’m going to look for to try and gleam information from. Then, I’m going to take what I can from that and bring it to my program or to our program our way. I don’t know whether that is a good answer David or not, I just think that. I don’t think you ought to change just to change but I do think you have to realize that if you don’t change and you do exactly the same thing that the only thing that you’re really asking your athletes to do in practice is to go faster or to lift more weight or something. And in my opinion you can stimulate improvement a lot more ways then just that. Good question and not a very good answer.
(Question) The question is, “Tell us a little bit about Dara Torres.” As you know, most everybody in this room knows that story, but Dara was out of swimming for 7 years and about 13 months before the Olympic games. Maybe 16 months before, she asked if we would be interested in helping her with a comeback. Dara Torres did no swimming training at all in those 7 years, but she was a training maniac and a fitness nut those 7 years. Coming into the games at 33 years, I’d suggest to you that her body was something like 26 or something like that from a fitness standpoint. I don’t think that she had ever been out of shape in the last ten years of her life. She was also wide open to kind of a change in her technique. We worked a lot on her technique with her and made some changes there and she gained 17 pounds of muscle. She actually lost percent body fat during that time and gained 17 pounds of muscle. She was a terrific weight trainer in the weight room. From her other dryland training, she brought spinning to us, and she is a very intense individual. You know, I coached a lot of great athletes and great workers but she realized that she had about 16 months to cram about 4 years of training into and she did it. She trained 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, and that training was in the water, in the weight room, in stretching, in pilates, and with massage. I mean there was a lot of time and effort, spinning, running, and all that kind of thing, and it was a terrific effort. I’ve never seen any kind of work ethic or focus like that in a 13 month or 16 month period. All of you would dream to coach somebody with that kind of intensity.
Yes, well let me tell you this, can you come here for just a second? If one of you ugly guys had asked this question you wouldn’t be coming up here. No, step up here, let’s turn this way, alright now, I’m going to put pressure on the top of your head. Here, do you see her body giving just a little bit as I press down? She kind of gives a little bit in here. Now, I would like you to. Let’s start out here- lie down on the floor. What is your name? O.K., lay down on the floor. Sara alright, now bend your knees. Now, I want you to suck your belly button toward your navel and I want you to bring your rib cage down toward your belly button. Now, I want you to relax your neck here, because we want to be as tall in the water as you possibly can be. OK, now your back is flat against the floor isn’t it? Alright, now slowly take your legs out and keep that back flat against the floor, rib cage down belly button against your spine, tall in the neck. O.K., relax your shoulders. OK, right in here, now you are using the wrong muscles to keep your back flat, because you have to be using the muscles in here to do that. You can’t use your leg muscles because otherwise you can’t swim, so you have to learn to use your mid section here and that is done by bringing your rib cage down and toward your belly button. Be center focused that way. Now, gradually take your arms over your head, slowly, slowly, now keep your ribs down because the ribs have a tendency to fly out right here. Slowly.
OK, now you ask how you can work on posture? This is one way. Now stand up here. Now, I would like you to try, too. That would have taken a lot longer or should take a lot longer, but now I want you to assume that position of flat back. OK, right here, now don’t bring your shoulders up, flat back, flat as you can suck your belly button in. Bring your rib cage down. Now, when I put pressure on her here, she’s got a lot more integrity and she is now able to maybe manipulate, take these propellers here and manipulate herself through the water much better. Now, stand right here, let’s go through this drill. Alright, I want you to stand at attention just like a military attention and let’s go to the attention of ten. Maximum attention- stand right there, come on now, the best you can really tense up. Use the best posture you can. Now, you couldn’t swim like this could you? No, in fact you can’t even stand militarily this way very long. Those are the guys in the military that pass out. They are holding a ten. Now, I want you to go to an 8, but don’t change the looks; I want it to look the same, but be a little bit more relaxed.
O.K., now most of the people on your team are walking around with a one or a two, they are like this, they are slumped over. They are a 1 or a 2 and they are hardly standing up. If you could get your athletes to think about walking around with a body tension of 4 or 5 that looks a little bit more like a ten but actually is a 4 or a 5 you’d be astonished at how much faster your swimmers would learn the technique that your trying to teach them. If they just became aware of their body position when they are walking around in school that would be great. You know what they could do is if there is more than one person that goes to the school, they could walk by their swimming mate and say hey are you at a 5. O.K., just some thoughts. I think we are out of time. Thank you very much and enjoy the convention and have a great time.