College Senior Swimming by Eddie Reese (2003)


Published


I will be on time.  I am not going to start early. I may just start talking to you because you have no choice. I was in the ASCA Board of Directors meeting until about three minutes ago. I looked outside in the pool and there was this guy going along and he was swimming backstroke and it was just real nice and I thought, hmmm, that is the kind of stroke I recruit so I kept glancing out there and it was – he got out of the pool and I laughed in the meeting, which is unusual, and it was Ron Johnson – Ron Johnson, 70-71 years old.  He has a great backstroke stroke, but it is funny, he was working on that and he had to swim the IM masters nationals in May and the backstroke was the part of the race he was worried about and that is my goal in masters swimming, beat all of those 70 year old suckers that beat me this last time. They did – they were amazing. 1:08, 2:28 for yards backstroke, 70 years old.  If I had had my way I would have been the only one pulling up on the gutter to do a breaststroke start. I was going to do that until all the 70 year olds pulled up on the bar.  I couldn’t do it then.  This 72 year old guy went 2:12 for 200 free.  If you haven’t tried it lately, try it.  I can tell you that is fast, pardon me?  I am not in that age group, but you are in trouble.

 

My name is Eddie Reese and my first job – I told you about – teaching physical education in an elementary school in Roswell, New Mexico. I coached high school swimming out there and coached for about a month in the summer and decided that attendance was dropping – I let someone else do it so that was my only foray into golf and I was no good then and now I am worse, but I really – I have two things that I have got to do now. One is I heard that somebody named Jon Urbanchek – I don’t even know who it is or where he coaches was commenting on my hobby of fishing and so I can remember Jon talking to me about the main thing he does with horses and that is shovel the manure and that is what he was doing. He does like to talk about that sprinting. His success in sprinting – the two guys that he had that were real, real good – they also went 3,000 yards freestyle under 30 minutes and they both went 19 lows, 42s for the hundred and one of them went 1:34 and I don’t know what the other one went so that is impressive.

 

Then about being a great coach – actually it is the first paragraph that I have got written down. Somebody asked me yesterday a question that pertains to that. How have I had the success that I have had and I don’t put it to luck because I think I am an average coach that came in the door that you don’t have to pay the $20.  I think I am an average coach and a good person. I make decisions that are best for my athletes.  The part that I am weakest at is I try to educate them and get them to do what is right and ever so often you get the athlete that you can educate them and you still must make them do what is right and there is a vast difference between that. I am not good at that part of it.  As an average coach I take care of the athlete, I work on stroke, keep up with training trends, basic or new, I don’t miss practice. I am not late. I treat my athletes as adults or at least moderately equally and most of the time they go fast. In my mind that is average coaching. The great coaches are few and far between. They don’t miss tapers. They don’t let their anger go at the athletes – they will take it out somewhere else.

 

Okay. Well I got to talk about senior swimming and I am going to tell you, I don’t know anything about it.  All I know is about swimming and people.  I have four things that I try to do every year. There are four things you need to do every year. There are four things where ever you coach you need to do every year to help the swimmer get better – that is your focus – focus – I don’t like that word.  That is your goal. That is where you get to go. You are going to hit pretty close to where you aim. That doesn’t mean setting – for years I have tried number goals, you know, I want you to go this fast and this fast. I don’t do that anymore and I have freshmen that that is all they want to talk about. The first thing I ask them is how are you going to get there?  I am going to work hard. Are you going to work hard when it hurts because not everybody does. It can start hurting and you can back off a little bit and still be going moderately fast.

 

That talk that “” gave about Miguel and with a 14.3 lactate, going for an hour and 14 minutes. Have you ever had a swimmer tested for lactate? Go for an hour and 14 minutes at 14?  Lance Armstrong can do that. Those guys are incredible. Did you see the part of the race when someone inadvertently hooked Lance’s handle bar and he went down? He got up and rode for about 30 seconds and did what I call – he crotched on the bar – foot slipped off and he went forward and landed crotch first on that metal bar – you would never have known it the next three pedals on the bike – he just kept going – won that stage or was second in it, I don’t really remember, but that is what it is about.

 

When we pick the Olympic team we pick it from a country where 80% of the good swimmers – 80% of the 100% of good swimmers like to win. 20% hate to lose, 95% of the Olympic team comes from the 20% that hate to lose.  Jimmy Connors the old tennis player says it best. He said I played harder not to lose than I did to win and that is not a concept I can understand. Intellectually I can do it. I know what the words mean, but I have done a lot of things and if I did the best I could do I was happy. I could get pasted. That is one of the good things about swimming.  You can get 30th in a race and go fast and you are happy. There is always somebody out there that won’t let go. It doesn’t matter what place they are, they are still trying hard. Like when they ask Lance Armstrong has been tested the same way that some others have been tested and I don’t know his results, but I know they are up there because – anybody that can climb hills like he can climb hills can stand the lactate, but the question was asked, how do you do that?  I train hard. I work hard. Why do you do that? I want to win.

 

There are steps you have got to take before you win. You cannot just want to win and get there. In my mind there are four ways to get better.  Get bigger and stronger, better technique. The swimmer works harder and/or the workouts get more difficult. You don’t have to get all of those, but for younger swimmers to get bigger and stronger can occur with the passage of time, just that they get older and they will gain from 3 to 7or 8% of strength just because time passes.  If they are swimming they can get more. If they are doing dry land they can get more, but a lot of their improvement is because they are getting older. College swimmers, particularly women, when they reach – well sometimes before women get to college, that great strength improvement goes away. I was hoping Paul would talk a little bit about what he did with Inga DeBruin, about what he did with her dry land because I think I know, but I don’t know well enough to relay it to you, but to get strength for somebody like that you have got to do special things.

 

You can’t do a weight program where you go 45 seconds on and 45 seconds off.  For most of us in this room we could do that. We would get stronger if we went 45 seconds on and a minute off or maybe a day off – you got to be realistic. But you take the guys on my team that swim the 200 and under, it would be a waste of time. Sure they can get tired. They can feel pain and keep going. Sometimes we judge by that, but that is not strength and strength is speed. It doesn’t matter whether you take steroids to get it because we have gone through that era. We know people did that to get stronger cheaply or cheatingly. All they did was get stronger. They didn’t get stronger to swim they got stronger. I am definitely not recommending that. I am very much against that and I hope they have a tough life.  They cheated other people who worked straight. That just doesn’t fit in my book in any stretch and a two year ban or a four year ban doesn’t get it for me. It could be a forever band for me. Not even let them come and watch a meet. I feel very strongly about that, but strength is strength.

 

Younger swimmers can get strength doing 30-40 push-ups. People with long arms and long legs in there they struggle. They have the potential to have an advantage. I have spent from 10-15 hours a week going through every research article that is on the internet about swimming and every one of them that talks about advantages talk about, for swimming, particularly freestyle and backstroke they talk about limb length, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t move them. There are people out there with bad strokes that have long arms and can’t swim butterfly and all of a sudden they come out of nowhere and it is when their strength caught up to their length so, getting stronger, however you do it and for you to take age group swimmers and do it my way it is not going to work.

 

I have been real lucky at Texas coaching with – 5 years with “” and 5 years with Richard was it 5 Richard? 6 seemed like ten. And five or six with Mark Schubert and they have got a lot of banners on the wall for winning the NCAAs and there is no winning team up there that ever worked easier than the men’s team did. They never did less than us. They never got in later than us and they always got out later than us. Women can do more. Women should do more. Women are better endurance animals than men.  What are they missing?  Strength – that is why the strong women – the Jenny Thompsons, Amy Van Dyken, Dara Torres who could all do 20 pull-ups or more – with that kind of strength what events are they swimming?  50 and 100 and some extended to 200 and I don’t mean 50 and 100 freestyle only, but I do know that they swam good IMs in their time. They have swum well everything in their times.  They were stronger than everybody else. Betsy Mitchell, University of Texas, 2:08 200 backstroke and another lifetime, so long ago. Like we finally broke that record this past year. We, talking about the United States, not anybody I know. She was strong. Some of that is natural. Some of them they worked for, but we have taken swimming now we need to cover more of the bases.

 

I tell you what I do with college guys. Do a good warm-up.  We always come in; warm-up 5 push-ups, 10 sit-ups two rounds. Hang for 30 seconds.  What else am I going to do with them? You know, that just stretches them out and then – you know the shoulder exercises for when you get – when you hurt your shoulders. We do them before they hurt their shoulders. We take five pound dumb-bells – take them out, back, down. We do three sets of 8.  They hate that. I mean, they could do it with 15, but that doesn’t strengthen the smaller muscles and we are changing our program some this year so I am going to tell you what we have done in the past, we have been moderately successful with that. We are changing a little bit this year and I won’t go into that –not a secret – I don’t know if it is any good. If it is not any good in two months we are out of there. I don’t like to take chances the Olympic year but we tried it some in the spring and in the summer and we are pretty pleased with the results.

 

Our basic exercises are a warm-up set of 8 and three sets of 6 and I will even give you the reason we are changing that – because it used to be that they would do the first set of six, they would do a descending set. The first set would be moderate, the next set would be medium, medium heavy and heavy and I wanted them all three to be I don’t know what – 80% of maximum.  Can’t do that on the second set so our basic change for this year which I told you I wouldn’t tell you about is we are doing a warm-up set of 8 at 60% of maximum.  Maximum is a guess and I make the guess because we don’t do singles.  I have done ten singles in my career with swimmers – it is the greatest way to get pure strength. It doesn’t work for swimmers –it might work for one race or a small period of time but it doesn’t work for swimmers and I have been stuck on six since I read the research quarterly in the 50’s. then we are going to do a set of two at 70% give or take, you know what ever goes up 20 pounds – I am not this precise – I am a left handed person, I am not precise and don’t mean that Richard, Mark, and Dave Marsh aren’t precise – they may be, but I blame it on being left handed.  So two at 70%, two at 75 % to warm-up and then we are doing six, four sets of six at 80% and they like it. We are only doing that three out of the eight exercises we do, haven’t got enough time to do it on all of them and we do it before we go in the water and I don’t know if they would be alive if we did it on all exercisers so I picked three exercises – bench laps and squats and they do that and the other exercises are three of six or three of eight. But I keep the numbers moderately low, 200 and under.

 

I have never been happy with what I have done for distance swimmers and we have had guys from 16 minutes for 1650 yards to 15 minutes in four years and most all our milers start in the mile their freshmen year and they stay in it and they like it and that is the key. A lot of people want to get out of that mile. Anything, a 200 fly or 200 back shows up, they want to get into that and move out of that mile, but our guys stay in it and I work hard at keeping them improving and generally we do two sets of 12 or two sets of 15 depending on who it is and that is the throw away program and I am going to run this program all year long that we are doing now and see what happens. Once again if people are immature physically I don’t know what that is – 16 for girls, 18 for boys. You know, everybody is different. You don’t put them in the weight room. You don’t – their joints are not ready for the shearing stress of a bench press. You don’t do that. Right now I have got some guys that aren’t in the weight room yet because they are trying to get to 40 push-ups on a minute, some I am going to have to let in there anyway – I cant be two places at once and they are not ever going to get it, but they are going to have to go real light, but I think the reason my swimmers improve their junior and senior year when that natural easy strength gain goes away because you have seen people go to college and after two years they stopped getting better so that is – you got to get them to be stronger.  I think it is key to our success in 200 and under.

 

We do something different in the summer – much more careful in the summer.  Summer is different animal than the winter program as far as where we go three times a week now, in the summer we go twice.  We go Monday, Thursday. The second way to get better is better technique and Paul was talking about age group coaches and the valuable job they have in that and let me tell you, the 12 and under coaches are doing their job.  We have run a camp for 25 or 26 years in Texas and it is year in and year out the same story; 12 and unders have good strokes – the older ones don’t and I get a number of repeats from the 12 and unders.  Their strokes go away.  I am a little bit of the type – you know if you start taking supplements that are supposed to help you and you get the help you wanted – well then you know, you should be able to stop taking the supplement. You know, that is my mind.  I am well.  I don’t need it anymore or I am better. I don’t need it anymore.  Same way for stroke.  I cannot tell you how important it is – I talked about it yesterday.  If they are only going to reach 90% of their potential and you don’t get the stroke right, they reach 90% of that 90% they are going to beat by people that aren’t as good.  Technique is important and boring.  I work hard so that my older swimmers get good enough to coach it some.  I split them up and Bendan – take the backstrokers.  He knows backstroke better than anybody on my team because he is an under two minute 200 yard backstroker out of high school and he is going to swim IM, well he swims backstroke 45 minutes a morning three mornings a week and he works on drills during that time and repeats during that time 45 minutes to an hour and he paid attention. He can teach it as well as I can.  He knows what to look for and where to go to fix it so Brendan works with the backstrokers.

 

We will get somebody working on fly kick under water and we will get somebody working on two hand turns or freestyle turns all the turns – only got two turns for 90% of the turns.  You got a two hand turn and you got a freestyle turn and you got a back to breast turn – that is 10% of them.  If you are going to do stroke drills you can’t let them do them and go and sit down.  You have to work on the stroke drills.  If you work on something, if you are attentive, they are going to think it is important.  I go into the weight room every practice because I want them to think it is important and I walk around the room.  I may do something in there.  Lately I do my workout on my own and just walk around the room spotting people and talking to them and encouraging them.  If it is important go after it.  If you want something you have got to have that passion or intensity to do it.  You will know every stroke drill I am going to talk about and I am going to talk about one for each stroke. When I was at Auburn University we did 15 for each stroke.  No body learned them all and I forgot half of them by the end of the year so when I came to Texas I cut it down to three.  Three strokes for each and for you today, cut it down to one that I think – that if they can swim the drill right they can get the stroke.

 

Butterfly:  In the butterfly drill is very simply two left arms, two right arms, two regular strokes and that can be changed.  We will swim a distance that way. I don’t care if it is a 400.  they will go two left arms, two right arms, two strokes and then the next lap they will go three stokes and four strokes. I always make them breathe, both hands out front on the one arm, make them breathe on both the left arms and both the right arms and never let them breathe on the stroke and always swim the stroke better and when you get in a race you have got to breathe, but you can always swim the stroke better working on the stroke without breathing, except for some people, you have always got the Michael Phelps or I am going to search for the one breath breathers – was it Fridge Smith at Indiana – anybody? Nod yes if you have heard of Indiana – Fred Schmidt – you know that?  I think it was.  He was a very good one breath fly breather and this has all the components that you want in butterfly.  When the hand goes in you look at the bottom or back at your feet.  I will never forget – we had a picture in the paper of – a long time ago – it may have been Munich – a young lady caught water on the butterfly – he knew – and, but they had shots of her swimming butterfly – when her hands go in her face is back, not looking straight at her feet, but looking back at that.  Why do they do that? To get your bathing suit out of the water because everybody any good gets their bathing suit out of the water.  When you are doing one arm it is real easy to do because you can lay out there and do it.  You do not have to take that next stroke.

 

You know there are a lot of people in the teaching world and we are in the teaching world that uses a part method or the whole method.  I am a part method guy.  I take it apart and if somebody cannot get it on my three drills we find or make up something that they can do.

 

Backstroke:  spin drill is the best drill I have ever found for any stroke.  And you do and you just have to do it right.  Spin drill is when you sit at 90 degrees in the water, like you are sitting in a chair with your legs out straight. If I am going this way my face is looking that way at that end of the pool – not looking up in the air, I am looking straight back.  Head and shoulders are out of the water and you just – it makes it – if you keep your head still which is a pre-requisite in backstroke, you cannot put your hands in wrong because you are sitting up. They won’t go in the water like this. They stop.  It makes them do the stroke right.  I have a guy on my team that can spin drill at an A+ and he swims at a C+ because – you’ve got them – he puts his hand in the water and stops at about that far into the water, half way down. It is amazing and he can do it every time – same place.  He is magic and he has got to push through that spot to get the hand down six or eight inches in the water.   Spin drill makes them do that.  Once you have come up from kicking under water then the speed – your time is going to be relevant to how fast you can move your arms, as long as you stay efficient.

 

What is swimming?  If everybody kept the same mechanics it is who can move their arms the fastest and the longest.  It is real simple, but you have got to get the technique right.

 

Breaststroke:  we would spend a lot of time on timing and I worry about the head position.  I am – I have seen good breaststrokers that I talk in my mind about not recruiting because they swim, they come up and they breathe, they get here – their hands are here and they throw that head down. You got them.  I’ve got them.  I can’t – that just doesn’t get it.  It doesn’t in the laws of physics – it doesn’t help.  You want the head up and wait and then go down, but I mean there will always be an argument on strokes and I think that is good.  I just happen to be right. So the drills we do, we do four kicks, no pull outs because we are in a 25 yard pool and that is a joke, a bad one.  Four kicks and then two strokes.  You let them take the strokes so they can breathe, but I do keep $20 in my pocket.  I tell my swimmers that if they pass out in the water I will go out on the street and get somebody and give them $20 to give my swimmers mouth to mouth so don’t worry if you go too hard – I’ve got money to save them. So we will do the four kicks, two strokes because it is a timing stroke and when they get off timing and Brendan Hanson gets off timing and the guy I got that can go 1:08 for 100 yards gets off timing.

 

Well, the best timing drill is just to swim it and let your feet hit before your hands come apart.  Now that is a drill.  That is not the way you want to swim it, but that slows them down. You know, you have people that when they do a 25 they pull and kick at the same time.  That is fast for about 8 yards, but it does not sustain.  It is not a good use.  The people that can swim surgical tubing the longest and the heaviest surgical tubing in my practice are the breaststrokers – they can keep going because they are always pulling.  There is always a force against the water.  Butterflyers get out there and they take two feet forward and they come out of the water and they go a foot and a half back.

 

The other drill is I just turn it around and do four pulls and I try to get them to pull at the same ratio or the same speed that they would kick.  They do four pulls and then two strokes and I want all six arm movements to be the same so their pulls cannot be as fast as they can go.  Remember this is not training physiologically – well, neuromuscularly it is, but I am not trying to get them to go fast to swim a race like this.  I am trying to fix something.

 

Freestyle:  After Sydney – I watched that and I didn’t finish one of my comments yesterday which you probably don’t know how many I didn’t finish, but I do that a lot, but I watched all the freestylers there and Thorpe and Hackett, von Hogenbaun, Gary Hall – they all kick under 30 seconds for 50 meters flutter kick on a board. Now not everybody can do it because this sport does have skills involved just like no matter how much we went out and shot a basketball, no matter how much we believed it, we wouldn’t be able to outshoot many of the people in the NBA.  Right?  Because there is a skill and the affinity for that ability comes to a point up here and not everybody has got it – same with flutter kick.  My breaststrokers – I have one breaststroker that can flutter kick and move forward, but the others are going to get there, but when I came back from Sydney we started doing a catch-up drill for the freestylers because everybody can kick and as I said about Michael Phelps, he kicks hard for most of the race – at the end he kicks harder.  I never realized – I have seen it enough, but I never realized the importance, especially of flutter kick on freestyle.  I know it for fly kick.  I got that, but for flutter kick on freestyle.  It doesn’t matter if you can just kick a minute for 100 yards flutter kick or 32 for 50 meters flutter kick – you can get better.  Well whoever you are, where ever you are, you can get better.  It may take more than you want to give.  It may take more than the coach wants to give.

 

We did catch up drill and since this is not really the way you want to swim freestyle aiming for the center line.  You want to as I mentioned for the line where you are going to touch to finish so we got 8 inch dowels – about 8 inches long, about – I think they were 3/4 of an inch in diameter so I would make sure –otherwise they end up swimming like that and just not ever doing it right so I would make them pluck the dowel from the other hand and go and we got to repeating 50s, we got to repeating 100s and very effective.  I had two guys that were stuck at 44.8 in a hundred free and went 43:7 one year and all I want is one more second out of them.  You know, as you get better that ability to drop those seconds gets more difficult.

 

Then for the fifth stroke, which is the second fastest stroke – the butterfly kick under water.  However you want to describe it. We do a quadrathalon for fun.  50 of each stroke and the 50 fly kick.  The distance swimmers hate it.  I mean, they are never in the top half and shouldn’t be.  I can take the guy that has got four good strokes coming in as a freshman and a junior that has got two good strokes and the junior will beat him by 500 points in this thing because he is stronger.  I have got guys that cannot swim breaststroke, not in a race and you wouldn’t want to see them swim it that can beat incoming freshmen breaststrokers because of strength, but we did a quadrathon on a while back and we had two guys that were pretty hot on it.  I mean, 21 middles – from the side of the pool, not from a block – 21 middles for 50 fly – 22+ 50 back and there, neither one are breaststrokers.  One won the breaststroke with a 26.5; the other went like 27.2.  they were 20 points in the 50 free and they were 21.2 and 21.3 in the 50 fly kick.  No breath.  They were kicking out here. They were allowed to pull both hands to their side to do the turn.  I allowed one breath – they didn’t take any.  I know its fast.

 

Remember the sprint meet they had in October or November in Indianapolis a while back and they had 25s and 50s.  Neil Walker and Nate Dussing or somebody was going to that meet ……. And we were timing 25s under water in October – I couldn’t get anybody ready in October if my life depended on it and so they were moderately tired. They were not shaved. They weren’t wearing a suit and they were consistently 9 6s and 9 7s from a push off.  When I was at Auburn University 26 years ago I made a comment, if there were world rankings for 25 yards freestyle two of the top 10 times would be fly kickers.  I just didn’t know what I was saying. I just had a guy that could dive in and go 9.4 or 9.5 at that time and the first time I let him swim butterfly he kicked out about five times off each wall – I was all over him about trying to get him to come up. He did win the NCAAs and set an American record, of course I let him swim it his senior year in college – coaching at its best.  You need things like that to keep you on a level plane.

 

Oh, I didn’t give you the drills for the second fastest stroke and these are mostly – this one is from Bill Boomer – you just – arms – opposite arm on opposite shoulder and vertical fly kick.  Count every forward kick.  A full kick, not a 1, 2 – it is not a 1, 2, 3, 4 – it is a 1 and you want everybody over 15 in six seconds.  We will be doing warm-up – I give them five extra seconds on each 100 repeat in warm-up and they come in and they get five seconds after they finish that first repeat.  Lets say we are going twelve 100s, 75 free, 25 something else on 1:25 or 1:30.  they come in.  they take five seconds, they do six seconds vertical fly kick.  You know, it is neuromuscular.  You got to do it.  Now to get to the strength to do it.  In my mind the best way to do it is on your back, hands at your sides, not over your head because that limits your movements. That will get your quadriceps and your abdominals – also known as your thighs and your stomach tired and that is how you get better. You don’t get better by not getting tired and we started doing eight 100s on 2 or 2:15 and I limit them on how many fly kicks they can go off the wall.  Lets say it is five – they fly kick off the wall on their back, pull their hands to here and they fly kick like this.  Then they get the two backstroke arms into the wall, five fly kicks off the wall and they go eight 100s on 2 or 2:15 like that and we started it and had a number of guys in the 1:05-1:10 range – same number of guys in the 1:18-1:23 range.  Six weeks later everybody was down about eight seconds each.  Had about the same number of guys in the 56-59 range and there was nobody over about 1:13.

 

We are a product of what we do.  If you don’t do it, you wont get better and I go to national meets, I go to high school meets and there are not a whole lot of people doing the fly kick.  Back in the old days when the butterflyers would dive in the water, turn over on their back and fly kick 35 meters, roll back over and come up and swim fly.  Who was that – Shawn Murphy and Anthony Moss?  Back in the old days were doing that.  They did studies to see about how much lactate is produced.  You produce less lactate under water, fly kicking, holding your breath than you do swimming on the surface and it is faster under water so why aren’t  we doing more of it?  There are some people you are going to work on it because skill is involved, body types – they are not going to get it, but they can get better, however you measure better.  I know a lot of people have had success just locking up and sprinting 25 and that is very good, but don’t leave out something that important.  It is an answer.

 

Now, a side of senior swimming that not many of you, I am going to tell you about.  As they get better they want more time off. That eats me up because if they are going to get better and that is all I am about, when they get up here – breaks doesn’t figure in the equation to make them better.  I have got some guys that are in college and have gone to meets and finish there and not gone to the US nationals –finished two or three weeks earlier at the world champs or pan-pacs or something like that and you think oh, that wont bother them.  It will bother them. It will bother them.  I asked them to go on and swim, find a meet in their area.  Like I am real interested to follow the kids that came out of the student games and see how they did and how they do this year. They were in  the water until almost September and that is a long time – a lot longer than we would normally choose or prefer to do.  We finish our nationals around august 10 and you know, that is pretty much when we like to finish except for the special years.  In fact, there has been talk about the world championships hurting our program because it is occurring in the middle of the year or in July, it is taking away from training from our best athletes who are up here and need the most training – they are going to get better but I have never been able to tell one to stay home from the world championships – it has crossed my mind, but very quickly ran out that other ear because I know they wouldn’t put up with that so that is the big battle I take when you get the great swimmers and they want more breaks and they have got to do more to get better.

 

They have got to fall under one of these classes I just finished the strokes and they are good at technique.  What if, Ed Moses, here he is. He has the most amazing kick in the world and he stretches 20-30 minutes twice a day on his legs and I have got guys that the only thing holding them back from being a great breaststroker is the kick and they stretch 20-30 minutes a week whether they need to or not.  That does not make sense to me. I am going to take the blame for that. I am going to find a way to get them to do it. I had a guy, Jeff Cummings, he swam breaststroke.  Jeff dove in the water, his feet would never straighten any more than that and right now he is a movie critic and he loved to watch tv and movies on tv and so I would say you sit on the floor, put your feet out like that – that is as far forward as they would go and I would guarantee you, we worked on it.  I said you put your couch on your toes.  It did not move.  He is swimming real good masters, but his feet have not moved. So some people you just cant do it.  I think, you know, one of those meat saws across the top of the ankle might have worked.  It would have been painful for him but he would have been over it in two or three years.

 

The one I really like, the swimmer works harder.  That is important.  Sometimes it takes motivation.  Ian Crocker is a perfect example of that.  Ian Crocker makes the Olympic team, a senior in high school, swimming the event for real for a year.  He does it because he beats – because he has no muscle and he beats everybody in the last 25 in our country.  Alright?  So in Ft. Lauderdale two years later he goes out ahead of Michael Phelps and Michael goes something like – what did he go that meet?  He goes like 24.8, 27.0.  Ian goes 24.0, 28.2.  he got pasted coming home.  This past college season he and Crocker moved over in the lane, on his own, I was going to ask him but he did it first with one of our distance swimmers who ended up going 1:34 and 4:16 so he chose a higher road and they have got to do that.  I have already had that talk with about ten guys on my team.  You have got to make the choice.

 

I had a guy that swims a 50 in the 75 freestyle – not many of those in college.  I don’t think he likes the 75 and he came up to me and he said you know I think I would be better off swimming in the middle distance group.  We have won a few NCAAs.  We have got the third fastest 400 free relay in college and it is the American record. The guys on that relay – two of them went 1-2 in the individual medley at the NCAAs the same year.  They went 1:42 and 1:43. the next guy on it swam a 200 and a 500 and the other guy on it was Ian Crocker. So I have never won an NCAA out of the sprint lane so that ought to be telling me something so I did – there is none.  We have got distance and other.  They like that other, but if the swimmer doesn’t pick the harder work attitude you have got to help them and if you want them to know something, if you want them to believe something, you want them to do something, you cannot tell them one time.  You cant do it, you cant say it once – you have got to do it consistently.  If its important maybe once a week. Maybe you bring somebody else in to tell them. You know, I don’t care who it is.  It can be your neighbor.

 

In Texas we have a saying that an expert is somebody from 10 minutes outside of town and that is right.  They hear me all the time. I can bring in somebody who uses my words – oh man, that is neat.  We are going to do that – ah, give me a break.  It doesn’t matter how much they like you or respect you.  you have got to change up on them.  Don’t say it the same way. Don’t use the same words, but getting them to work harder is the key because they can all go and give more.

 

My seniors always say they pity the freshmen because of where the workouts have gone with them and I change probably my strength and my swimming program between 10 and 25% every year.  It doesn’t matter whether it is working because if you take somebody – like Gary Hall came to Texas for his freshman year, alright?  He came out of a situation where he swam high school to November. He got back in the water at the end of May.  The year before he did that, got in for a week and came to our camp for two weeks which had nothing to do with his success, tapered and that is when he broke out and went 23.1 and 50.8.  he had been off since November – I am not saying this is the way to do it, but looking at where he came from, just by coming to every practice he went from this level of stress on his body to this level – pride – if he wasn’t great it would have been too much.  He never broke 46 on a relay until three weeks before conference – two weeks before conference and he flat started a 42.9. so it is not what my team is doing it is how much have you done relative to where you were.

 

Like if Brendan Hanson has been in the greatest program in the world this last year, then how do I make him – he has got to work harder. I may not be able to make the workouts harder so he has got to help me.  He has got to get stronger.  Technique has got to get better.  You don’t have to have all four of those things and I have left out the psychological part and I know that is important. I get asked to speak about motivation and I don’t know how to motivate.  I think it has to do with how you treat people every day.  One of the questions we got in our sport right now is you know, how to keep the boys in the sports – especially at 10 and under.  You make it a point to say two or three good things to them every day that they come to practice.  They don’t get it at home. They don’t get is at school. They don’t get it at any other practice and they are not going to get it right away.  They are not going to know you mean it until you keep doing it.  When I was at Auburn and had 22 guys in the workout, I would say something good to them five times a day.  Some of them I had to say, ah nice bathing suit – how did you tie that – that’s good, you know.  Didn’t know what else to say – there is nothing good to say some days, but it all comes down to you and every day – not how good you are when you feel good, its how good you are when you are not good – not feeling good – don’t want to be there – you have those days – I have those days.

 

There are no secrets.  Keep coming to clinics, keep grabbing people and asking questions – none of us have any secrets.  You got some experience and that is important.  Use us – abuse us – whoever it is.  There are people out there, I go to clinics – I will do a few clinics during the year and at the end I ask them questions.  What workout did you like best this year or I go around and I look at all the results of sectionals and the people that do a good job I will go and ask them – how did you do a good job?  What made your season this year and I wont let them tell me that this year made their season – this year doesn’t make this years season.  Last year is probably 60% of this year’s season.  I can’t think of a good quote to end on.  Thank you very much.

 

[Responses to Questions]

Please – Richard:  what did I mention – sits, laps, squats.  We do dips. We do some – I think I described some of the sit-ups we do. We are going to try some with a big plate this year, but we do it with the surgical tubing.  Sit-ups, if I do sit-ups this way – laying on the ground, surgical tubing is tied to that wall so you know when you do a sit-ups with nothing restricting you, once you get there it is all momentum and no resistance so we just keep it all the way up and if it is too hard for somebody we get them to move or to change it.  Leg extensors – breaststroke – it is probably eight during different things.  Hamstring curls, leg extensors and then guys have got to do bicep curls and got to do triceps curls.  Those are the first things I cut out. after about two months I cut those out cause dips are triceps, bench is triceps –anything that straightens your arm is triceps – anything that bends it is bicep.  There is no magic in those.  it is how they do them. That is why I am there to make sure they are doing them.

 

Phil:  the 100s – the eight 100s on two minutes?  they kick them on their back.  Yes sir:  probably the first 25 years of my career I did it with a board and buoy – anything that you thinks works and your swimmers think works – works. I have never – we have done drag sits maybe five practices in the last five years. It doesn’t mean they are bad –I would love to have them.  I don’t like to –my guys are real good at changing equipment. You know, they like to take their time. If it was a transition in a triathlon they would be faster, but they are not.  I just hate to give them that opportunity so we don’t have a whole lot of equipment. I know our girls team is much stronger than our team because their bags are heavier.  They got a lot of stuff we don’t have.  A lot I don’t know how to use.

 

Yes sir:  Way too good a question.  How much do I cut back when the yardage is up there?  One may cut back because once they – they will improve for about six weeks no matter what the program is and then the water work catches up and then they will level out and then some of them will go backwards and whine the whole time and they understand it is because of the water work so that is –right before that I try to cut out the bicep curls and the triceps stuff and depending on – if you are not a breaststroker or an IM’er you come off hamstring curls and at the end of that program we taper for a month and for most people we are off two weeks before the big meet.  I have had some people, if I had them off over more than a week they didn’t do well with it.

 

Paul:  we do everything before. We just haven’t got time to do it after with their time they eat and when I schedule them for study hall.

 

Yes sir:  I think it is real difficult to breathe up front with the other arm out there so I just let them breathe to the side.  I don’t do drills perfectly.  I had an IM’er when I was at Auburn I recruited out of Brevard, Florida or some where down in there – Broward Florida – he was 1:03, 100 yards breast, 2:03 200 IM and he was going to be a 400 IM’er and he didn’t know it and he couldn’t butterfly.  So, we put a tube on every morning, every Monday he went four 400s butterfly with a tube on and every Wednesday he went twenty 50s with a tube on – it has nothing to do with technique.  It has to do with strength and that made him stronger and he did, I mean, in three years he went from 2:03 to 1:51 and 400 IM went from 4;30 to 3:56 or 7 and that was back in the ice age I think, it’s the way they say it.  We did have electricity.

 

Last question:  Speed of movement, like on lifting weights?  You know, if you lift heavy weights you cannot move fast and heavy is not heavy for Tommy Hannon versus Tommy Sacko meaning Tommy Hannon can do whatever Tommy Sacko does plus Tommy Sacko on whatever he you know, he just cant do that and I have already had this talk with the freshmen and I will have it every week for the next six weeks – it is not what you do relative to anybody else, its where you start and where you end up.  It is about you.  You went 45.7 in the hundred free being able to bench 92 pounds.  When you get to 150 you will be faster or 120 or 110.  Strength improvement and they will be faster.

 

Thank you very much.  Well I used to play a lot of racquetball but as I have gotten older and gotten grandchildren, never say – I mean, I am so patient and I think so clearly you know, I am talking about twenty years from now you will be able to do that but I think so clearly through any situation as it is happening.  It used to be I was better a day later because I would get mad about it so you just can’t – oh I have the quote I should have finished with.  It comes out of a book called “Leadership is an Art”.  “The leader never gives the pain, but always takes the pain.”  Its hard.

 

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sponsorship & Partnerships

Official Sponsors and Partners of the American Swimming Coaches Association

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe and get the latest Swimming Coach news