[introduction, by Matt Kredich]
My name is Matt Kredich and I am a member of the ASCA board. It is a great pleasure for me to introduce Jon Urbanchek and Dave Salo; or as Jon just told us, this is going to be the Jon and Dave Show today. These two are absolute giants of our sport, and I think that if I were to list their accomplishments, after about ten minutes you guys would be numb to the impact that they have had. So I am just going to read a few names of people that they have guided to essentially what would amount to be a big part of what would be an Olympic pantheon of swimmers of the last 37 years. For Jon Urbanchek: Barrowman, Malchow, Thomson, Namesnik, Dolan, Borges; there are others, Vanderkaay. For Dave Salo: Soni, Peirsol, Lezak, Beard, Krazelberg, Mellouli, Jansen; there are many others. Those names, if we were to imagine USA Swimming in the last 30 years without that group, we would have a real-different feeling about our sense of place in world Swimming.
These two, in some ways, do not have a lot in common; but what they do have in common is that not only have they coached an unbelievable group of athletes, but they have created methodologies, almost, that have their names associated with them. I think that if we looked at anybody’s training plan in this room—and even anybody’s training plan across the world—we would see some heavy influence from both Dave Salo and Jon Urbanchek.
Their paths have crossed a number of different times. Initially, it looks like, Dave swam for Jon at Long Beach State in the late-70s. They have each gone their different ways and done fantastic things. Fortune has brought them back together, for certainly the benefit of the USC Trojans.
Finally, I admire both of these men for really similar reasons. Even though they might look like they operate at different ends of the spectrum, both of them have stuck to their guns, both are men of honor, they both have endured criticism and I do not think either one really cares because they have let their results speak for themselves. So now, I will let them speak for themselves as well. Thanks for being here you guys.
[Salo]: Okay. So apparently I am interviewing Jon, so I am going to interview Jon. But I have got to tell a few stories; I am a story teller. I was introduced to Jon back in 1978; Jon had just gotten a job at the Long Beach State University back in 1978. Dick Jochums had just left Long Beach State, and with a week before school started, Jon Urbanchek was hired to take-over the Long Beach State program. Unfortunately, half the team went to Arizona and to swim with Dick Jochums.
[Urbanchek]: Yeah; thank you, Dick. You did not mention that. By the way, the old man—old F, O R T—did a damn-good job. Nice to see you there. Old school is still back, and…
[Salo]: Okay, sit down; I am telling a story. [laughter]
So, my roommate was going to swim for Urbanchek; I was finished swimming. I needed to get a job because I did not have parents that could afford to pay for Long Beach State University. And so I show up to see Jon, and Jon looks up at me and goes You swim? I said, “Not anymore.” He goes: Well, we’ll see you on Monday morning. Of course, I debated with my roommate about doing such a thing, and I showed up Monday morning to swim for Jon Urbanchek.
[Urbanchek]: You should be thankful. (I am thankful.) You would not be here if it was not for that.
[Salo]: I really was. That was… that is how I got to know Jon; so I have been friends with Jon for years. One thing that I can tell you about Jon, Jon has always been… (much older than I am). But Jon, uncharacteristically compared to any of his peers, always liked to hang out with us young guys; and so I always felt like I was part of the crowd, the elite crowd, long-before I had ever coached anybody of any significance. It made such a difference and impact in some young coaches lives. He is still that way (he still makes me feel really young).
But my first question, Jon came to America from Hungary to swim at the University of Michigan. You need to tell these guys: why did you come and what got you to Michigan?
[Urbanchek]: Well things were pretty tough in Hungary, back in the ‘50s—most of you do not… were not even born yet. The communist regime would not permit most of us to travel out of the country. Right about the time of’56, with the Games and the revolution was going on, I felt like this would be a good time to split.
Basically, because of that, I ended-up at the University of Michigan; mainly because I asked for political asylum. Many of the American universities were accepting students, college-aged students, from Hungary at the time. And so the choices were Oklahoma, North Carolina, Yale University and Michigan. I had heard about Yale, Ohio State and Michigan as the top schools back for the… how many have you guys over 60, anybody? Yeah. So the powerhouses at the time where basically Michigan, Yale, Ohio State.
(By the way, Dave, Michigan still has the highest number of NCAA’s men’s championships of anybody. I just want you to know that.)
But, anyway, I ended up in Michigan…
[Salo]: I have not finished my career yet. [laughter]
[Urbanchek]: Maybe I can contribute a few championships….
Anyway. So I ended-up in Michigan. I was the poorest person, I had no money; I came from Hungary and my parents had nothing after the war. Gus Stager, the coach at Michigan, had offered me a scholarship. In order to get a scholarship, you had to be admitted. Well you had to pass the TOEFL test. So a church group in Ann Arbor, Michigan provided housing for me for a semester and paid $900—what, 60 years ago, $900 was expensive; Michigan was very expensive anyway, always. Passed the TOEFL exam and got admitted to Michigan.
In ’58 I was a freshman. Freshmen were not allowed to swim at that time; many of you do not remember that, but only if you were older. The freshmen had to serve one year on residency.
Oh that [on slide] is after I graduated, yeah. The first thing I did, I bought a beautiful sports car. I wanted to be hip, I wanted to be with-it, wanted to go to the West Coast. That was my surfing days, way back then.
But anyway to make a long story short (you do not want to hear this).
[Salo]: Surf in Michigan?
[Urbanchek]: No surf in Michigan. Western Michigan, when the storm comes-in, you can do that.
So anyway, I ended-up swimming. Freshman year we were only allowed to compete against other freshman at schools within the Big Ten, which was fun. No pressure; they encourage you to do academics. Well, being kind of stupid—or not so intelligent—I enrolled at the school of Engineering. My brother was in the engineering school in Hungary; I said, okay, if he can do it, I can do it.” First year, I did okay academically. Second year, we were allowed to compete, and I spent way too much time in preparing for the NCAA’s, where I did get a second place in the 1,500.
[Salo]: We saw the time; 18:36, I think, for the mile.
[Urbanchek]: Yeah, that is okay. Katie Ledecky would have passed me six times; that is alright, I still love her. [laughter] It does not matter. But at that time, you know, (don’t change it) that is 60 years ago.
So I enrolled in the school and had gone through that first year. The second year more energy was spent and time in… made the wrong choices in friends. Kind of learn the American way of life; let the cool cats talked me into getting into a fraternity. I really could not afford to get into the fraternity, which eventually I decided not to join.
But I was smart-enough, because I had no money from home, I used my scholarship from room-and-board, which was $60—you guys are getting a $2,000 a month, today’s athletes, we got $60 for a room and board. What I did is I went into a rooming house, where I cleaned the rooms—every Friday for about an hour, an hour-and-half, cleaned all the rooms—so I did not have to pay my rent. Then the frat boys, since I could not join the fraternity which I kind of liked, asked me to come in to do the dishes. So I ended-up doing dishes; I was a pots-and-pan man at Noon and dinner time. At first for about half an hour, then 20 minutes. But from there, you can have three free meals—that is a deal.
So all the scholarship money, I used that for my personal use. And all the kids on the team said, Jon, how can you afford that? Your parents have no money, you have no money. Well, I was figuring things out in life, you know you have got to take chances. So I manipulated things, and ended-up having enough money to be able to go down to Fort Lauderdale, where the girls are—and the boys are—back in the ’60s.
Matter of fact, that was a downfall. I went to the NCAA’s; after NCAA’s, we decided to go down to Fort Lauderdale for a couple of weeks, for… you know why you go to Fort Lauderdale; you know, Spring. I was not as lucky as many of my friends; you know, I was still searching for the luck. But I got back to Michigan, I did not pass all my exams; Chemistry killed me. I took it in Summer school, it killed me. Said: okay, let’s move on. One of my professors—who was also my teacher in one of my classes—said, “Jon, I think you might want to change major.”
So how did I get into coaching? I flunked out of Engineering. I mean, put it the real way; you know, I changed major but I was kind of forced to get out of it.
[Salo]: So you moved on to California. You drove the car out with, not your wife, your surf board. How did you start your first job? You coached for Lee Arthur Swim School?
[Urbanchek]: No, Sammy Lee Swim School. Dr. Sammy Lee was a diver; in ’52-’56, won a gold medal in Platform Diving. SC graduate. (Yes, he was.) I got a job as an Age Group coach. As a matter of fact, a couple of people are here from that class: Dr. Gary Hall should be here, (Hi, Gary), Gary was about 12 or maybe going-on 13; Jimmy Wilson, where are you Jimmy (right there), coaching in a Ivy League school. Those where the two students, I think. Gary was 12, and Jimmy was maybe 6 or 7 years-old, just a beginner. But we also had the Fur… is Steve Furniss here?
[Salo]: There is your favorite, by the way.
[Urbanchek]: That is a little bit later; you are going too fast, slow down. Whose show is this anyway? [laughter]
[Salo]: I have got 75 minutes of the slides, and you are just not talking fast enough. Just go ahead: it is your show.
[Urbanchek]: Okay, so where were we before you interrupted me?
[Salo]: You were moving to California, without your wife, and you started coaching.
[Urbanchek]: Okay. So the Sammy Lee Swim School; I got a job. The greatest man—this guy was awesome—hired me. I came out of Michigan; we had won four NCAA championships the five years I was at Michigan. I only contributed at one point; well, not one point, one second place, which I do not know how much it was worth. But I came out of the school a little bit like a… like an Auburn swag; you know, kind of cool dude, coming out, I went out to California, they offered me this job. I had no clue what the hell I was doing, you know.
But anyway, I learned a lot from Gary Hall and all the kids that I coached at the time. Four of the Furniss brothers were part of the program, anywhere from age 5 to age 12 or 13; I think Steve was the second oldest. And the Strachan family ,which has four people in it. So I walked into a gold mine. I walked into the Michigan gold mine: I had no clue Michigan was going to win four NCAA championships while I was there. Then I went California and I ended-up having all these young people.
In spite of my coaching, which I had… I pretended to know at all. I think somebody mentioned it earlier today—in the old man’s talk, or older-people talk—you know, when you are young you think you have all the answers, and then when you become 60s you I don’t really have all the answers. You know, you are willing to admit it.
So anyway I went on coaching, and just by luck Gary Hall eventually went on to another team. That is a different story: Gary was going to come to my high school, but to go to my high school, at the time, you had to live in that district. I think Gary’s mom had an apartment lined-up across the street from the high school and somebody objected to it—it must have been another coach in the league. That did not happen, so Garry ended-up going back to Rancho Alamitos High School.
[Salo]: So you were coaching Age Group and you had started teaching. You were teaching at Anaheim High School.
[Urbanchek]: I was teaching at Anaheim High School for 15 or 16 years; I was a high school water polo and swim coach. Then also Sammy Lee Swim School folded—pardon me for my English, it must be the microphone, yeah—folded, and I formed a team called Anaheim Aquatics. Later on I joined in with Fullerton Aquatics, and we ended-up calling our team FAST: Fullerton-Anaheim Swim Team. That is what the team is even today, even though they changed—its named something different, but it is still FAST. So that was the way.
Then from that team, Dick Jochum talked me into… to take a Long Beach State job. (Thanks Dick.) The only thing he did not tell me, that he was going to take everybody but the kitchen sink. And that gives an opportunity to a 1:04 yard breaststroker (Shh.) to join my team at Long Beach State University. Now if this would have been a 1:04 meters, I would not talk about it.
[Salo]: It was not a 1:04; I was at least a 1:01.
So Jon, you are at Long Beach State, and, again, you had to rebuild that program. How long where you at Long Beach State?
[Urbanchek]: I was four years at Long Beach State.
[Salo]: And the best year was your first year, I remember that.
I remember, there was a story. He got at mad at us for something. He was lucky to have twelve of us in the water; he had to borrow from (Water Polo.) Water Polo. And Water Polo had sent-out about four guys to save us in the conference championship that coming February. I remember he got mad at us one day, and he called us into the locker room showers. And as you know… I am amazed: he has been here for 60 years and he still has an accent. (I’m proud of it.) I know.
So… “You guys are slower than a frog’s ass.” And like I am a sophomore in college, going: What does that mean: lower than a frog’s ass? “Well you… the shit in the pool swims faster than you do.” [laughter] It was like, I did not even know where that comes from.
[Urbanchek]: Well, not a whole of them swim; some sinks, you know.
[Salo]: Yeah, well, I was next to the crap that was floating by me, I guess. I think I did score a point against Tennessee, so that was a good thing.
[Urbanchek]: We had just beat the number… the NCAA championship team, we beat them. (That’s right, we did.) They won at NCAA in ’77, and the next year, we whopped them. And they never swum us again.
[Salo]: Well, it was that one point that I scored for us. (That’s right.) That was good.
But you went on to Michigan, your alma mater. Tell us the story about how you had to take a huge cut in pay to go to Michigan; you can make that public now.
[Urbanchek]: Yes. Well after being in Southern California almost 20 years… in the meantime I got married.
[Salo]: Oh, we forgot at that. There will be pictures of Mel coming up.
[Urbanchek]: Yeah, an SC graduate. (I know, I had to balance out the Michigan caps…) No wonder I am back at SC now: I have got so much SC connections, I cannot afford not to pry away.
[Salo]: So you are at Michigan, and you took… why did you go back to Michigan?
[Urbanchek]: Well, that is a great question. (Why I asked it.) Because I wanted to give something back. If it was not for Michigan, I would have not been sitting here with you guys. They gave me the scholarship, they gave me an opportunity. I was not the greatest swimmer; I was a good swimmer, but, you know, they took a chance on me.
When the job opened-up… actually the Michigan job opened-up when I took the Long Beach State job. At that time I said no, no, no; I need some more experience coaching in college before I take a… go to a real-big school. So I took Long Beach State as a kind of intermediate stop on the way to the big job.
So I took the Michigan job… what was your question, any way?
[Salo]: Well you answered it: why did you go back to Michigan to start, basically start your career over.
[Urbanchek]: Yeah, yeah; thank you. So when I got back to Michigan, basically…
You are looking [on slide] at some people here who have shared the deck with me. We can talk about it eventually. You know, success does not come just by yourself; you surround yourself with great people. What you are looking at here, these are all the great people who shared the deck with me. Can I tell you about… Peter Linn helped me with Club Wolverine over the last 20-some years; Dick Kimball was a diving coach, unbelievable; Mark Natel, unbelievable; Tom Millich, some of you guys know Tom Millich; Stefanie Kerska; Alex Braunfeld; Jim Richardson, Fernando Canales. These are the people who were part of my team; I have many other coaching friends, but I shared the deck with all these people and they deserve all the credit that I got because they had a lot to do with what I have done today.
We have not seen Snik yet? Have you showed him yet?
[Salo]: Snik, Eric Namesnik, was one of your assisting coach. He swam for you for four years. (Eight years.) Swam for you for eight years. (Undergrad and post-grad.) That is right. And then he became your assistant. Tell us about that relationship, because a very important relationship.
[Urbanchek]: Yeah. Eric came to our program from Mark Schubert’s team in Boca Raton. As a freshman IMer… he got third at the Olympic Trials, 4:20, prior to coming to Michigan. Ended-up being a gold mine for me to get a person like that, because he could swim anything. Probably the hardest worker.
If anybody asked me—and quite often people ask me—Who was your #1 swimmer? Well I pick Eric Namesnik, even though he has never won anything big—he has always been second. But in my mind, he is number one. The commitment he made to the program, the commitment he made to become a coach actually at Michigan—which did not happen. And so if you ask me….
I used to say he was the son who I never had. I had one daughter, one granddaughter; that is always going to be in the Urbanchek family. But…
[Salo]: I thought I was the son you never had.
[Urbanchek]: Yeah? No. But any given year, I had 25 sons… or SOBs. When I get a call at three o’clock in the morning, Long Beach State Police Department, Jon, we’re holding some of your swimmers. (That was not me.) Oh yeah. Yeah, yes, that was your brother. (That was not me; I have never been arrested.)
So, nothing ever changed; it happens on every one of your guys’ campuses. It is probably happening tonight, or tomorrow night, while the coaches are here.
[Salo]: Yeah. So Jon, Eric Namesnik, tragically he passed-away after a car accident. How did that… did that set you back? What was that like?
[Urbanchek]: I was really shocked. I was just giving a clinic up in Northern California. I mean, I got the call, I dropped my commitment to talk the next day; I hopped on a plane the first thing, I went back there. Unfortunately, he had brain damage to the point that… one of my close friends was a doctor who was attending there; he said, “Jon, it’s not going to happen.” So we knew he was going to pass away.
It was pretty tough on me; it is still tough. In a couple of weeks, I am going to see Eric’s wife, Kirsten, and the two children. The day after the Olympics in London—not even a day after the Games ended at 10, at three o’clock—I left the village to fly straight over to Amsterdam to spend the week with Eric’s wife and her two children, who were about… right now 13 and 10 years of age. They are in my heart all the time.
[Salo]: Let’s take a step back: your first Olympic gold medalist was Rod Strachan.
[Urbanchek]: Yeah. That, Eric and Mike Barrowman.
[Salo]: But before you got to these guys, you had to develop the passion for international Swimming, the Olympic Games. What brought on the passion to compete at the world level.
[Urbanchek]: I started in the early 60s; it took me about, almost 10 years to get somebody that level. I started-up with all the Furniss brothers, the Strachan brothers; and Rod was the only one who kind of stayed with me throughout his career. Eventually he did end-up going to SC.
And so I had this kid, if I can say openly nowadays, that he is the only swimmer who I actually coached from the time he started at age 7 or 8 until 20-21—in those days they used to retire. And so this kid, Rod Strachan, was my first gold medalist in IM.
And then what is the next?
[Salo]: Well tell us about Rod. What did you see in Rod that gave you the confidence that he was the kid who was going to make… the impact swimmer?
[Urbanchek]: Never missed a workout. He was an all-A student, all the way through high school, he was an all-A student at USC when he was there. Now he is an anesthesiologist, with four children. All of them went to SC; must be making good money, if he could send four kids to the SC. (They have got to pay me.) So he was the first kid… he gave me the inspiration.
I have got to go back four years before. ’76, he won a gold medal; in ’72, I took Rod and six other girls—younger girls, 14-15—to the Olympic Trials in Chicago ’72. And, Gary, you were there; I saw Gary Hall. Walked into the stadium there one afternoon, somebody was sitting at the top of the bleachers; there is nobody in the pool area. Gary—I do not know if you remember that Gary, but—you were sitting up on the top of the bleachers, there. I said well this guy is really psyching up. Gary did make the Olympic Games; that was next to his last Olympics yeah
But anyway, where were we before you interrupted me again? [laughter]
[Salo]: I was talking about how all of your best athletes all went to USC, eventually….
So, going forward, what in Rod… I mean, you say that there is some characteristics in Rod that kind of set a tone for success.
[Urbanchek]: Yeah; very conscious.
You know, I started out with… my younger Age Groupers, especially when we had a lot of 10&Unders and so on, I broke the workout, one hour workout. Lee Arthur, who was the head coach at the time, said, “Jon, these kids don’t need more than one hour.” Okay, we’ll make it one hour. So I broke the one hour down into four segments of fifteen minutes. We did 15 minutes of butterfly—drills, kick, all that; I cannot remember what we did—then 15 minutes backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle.
By the way, Gary, you did not have… you never had the real-good breaststroke anyway. He had three beautiful strokes; the breaststroke was not his… God did not give the flexibility in the hips and the knees and ankle, but he was a man-made IMer to learn how to do the breaststroke. Yeah.
Let’s move on.
[Salo]: Moving on.
One of the things that I think you talk about, I think all coaches that have been to the Olympic Games, there is something that drives you as a coach. What was the passion that drove you to become an Olympic coach?
[Urbanchek]: Yeah, but let me finish that. My first Olympic Trials, I took 6 or 7 kids there; it was a flop. Worked real hard and then… just nobody swum up to potential, and I was very disappointed. So I had to looked back/see. I record everything (unlike Dr. Salo); I have every workout recorded, so I went back to see what the heck did I do wrong. So I learned from that next year for the first World Championships trials. Two people actually won the trials: one girl, who was 16, won the 200 Breaststroke, and Rod Strachan won the 400 IM and then went-on to be successful at World Championships.
I learned from that, and that was the last time I had a crappy taper. How many years ago was it? 40 years? I do not know. Ever since, I learned from this: I am not making the same mistake again. And I have seen to it, I am very proud; up to this point, every taper, every year, was a success.
[Salo]: What was the mistake you made in that Olympic year?
[Urbanchek]: I had a way too much… we worked very hard, and I thought we needed lots of rest. I kind of used some other coach’s taper idea. It did not work; I never went back to that coach ever again.
[Salo]: Who was that coach? Name him. [laughter]
[Urbanchek]: He is the greatest coach ever on this planet. (Okay….) Doctor James Counsilman. He became a good friend; we were very good friends. So, casually, he gave me a kind of taper. But, you know, I learned it; just like if I were a physics teacher, a professor, and my TA will teach all the classes all semester, and then I would write the final exam. I should have never accepted a taper from someone. It was a great idea; Doc, was a great man—I love him.
Matter of fact, Gary; I got him Doc’s first book (Swimming Faster by by Doc Counsilman) for his graduation from high school, because he was going to go to Indiana. But anyway, I do not blame this on Doc; it was my problem. I learned from that; never made the same mistake again.
[Salo]: You learned the lesson; and you have gone… we have seen a lot of scrolling pictures about your… you have got to have a lot of great athletes in the Olympic Games.
[Urbanchek]: This [on slide] is awesome. I took my team to… since the  Olympics were going to be in Australia, we ended-up going to Australia a few times. My team won NCAAs, I think, that year. (’95) I asked my athletic director: where can I take the team for Christmas break? He said, “Wherever you want to.” Okay, let’s go the furthest away from Ann Arbor, Michigan. That was Perth, Australia; it took us 44 hours to get there. It was awesome, and the university paid for all the expenses. The AD said: wherever you want to. Okay. We lived it up: a five-star-hotel on the beach, and surfing and… all the fun we had. And it paid off because I think we had a darn-good Sydney Olympics.
[Salo]: You did.
I know a lot of time college coaches are criticized for having international athletes in their program; you have coached a lot of international athletes. How did you come-about being introduced to these athletes? What kind of impact did they have on your Michigan team?
[Urbanchek]: Marcel Wouda was recommended to me from… he is actually, Marcel is, the head coach now for the Netherlands team. He won 2 or 3 NCAA championships before Tom Dolan came in. Once Tom Dolan came-in, he pretty much took-charge of the IM, 500 and the 1650. Those are the people who went to the ’96 Olympics.
You know, one thing I worried about: in ’92 and ’96, we put the Olympic Trials between your conference and NCAA championships. What a stupid place to put it; and I cannot remember whose idea it was.
[Salo]: And who do you blame for that? [laughter]
[Urbanchek]: The Steering committee, but I was part of the Steering committee.
[Salo]: Which I was not a part of.
[Urbanchek]: I was part of the Steering committee, and I told the head man at the USA Swimming at the time: I don’t give a damn where you put the Trials, we’re going to swim fast. So he ended up put the Trials right where you do not want to have it.
So in ’92 and ’96, we had to focus on going to theTrials: that is going to be our big meet. And these kids that give up their… they did not swim Big Ten Championships; let some other team sneak-in and take it away from us—Minnesota. But we had a lot of Michigan flags flying at the Olympics, so I was very proud of it. I took some graft from some of the alumni for that, but these guys would not understand what I am talking about—so these guys are out of it so.
[Salo]: So when you were coaching at Michigan… and obviously your focus is not just college season, how do you balance the college and the international calendar, and the Olympics? Obvious, when you have got 25-30 guys on your team, they are not all engaged with the international calendar. How do you keep your culture driven towards that?
[Urbanchek]: Well, I think we won 11 or 12 Big Ten championships pretty much in a row at that time, and some of the kids who were not Olympic-level, they also had an opportunity to be part of the winning team. It was part of something special; a team effort. Then for those who had a chance to move to toward the Olympics, they continued on.
One of the best things at Michigan was, for me, school ended around the 20th of April. We usually had no break; we finish finals, I hauled everybody’s butt up to Colorado Springs for three weeks, locked-down, and did some solid attitude training. While most of the schools were still in-school, or partying post-NCAAs….
[Salo]: Because your guys never partied.
[Urbanchek]: My guys never partied. (Liar) Never got caught.
I think this [on slide] is the… I think this is a 2000 Games. Dolan, [Tom] Malchow and Chris Thompson. (This is 2000.) Thompson is the one who got the 3rd place in the mile.
[Salo]: Chris Thompson did get a third place at the Olympic Games in the 1,500m Freestyle.
[Urbanchek]: He rubs that in because his swimmer won.
[Salo]: Because my swimmer took the gold.
But I think… this… I do not know if you expected Chris to be so successful. I was there at the training camp in Pasadena when Chris Thompson was having a tough time making 100s on a certain pace. You asked me to go get his times; I was getting his times; he was having a tough-time going 1:03s.
[Urbanchek]: No, we got down to 1:01/00.
[Salo]: Well it took him a long time, but he had to struggled and he was really frustrated. And yet, he was able to come back and win the bronze medal in the 1500. What transpired between training camp and that medal performance? Because he did not look like a medalist in training camp.
[Urbanchek]: Well, that is where the secret of taper comes in.
[Salo]: It was not the lower-than-a-frog’s-ass speech?
[Urbanchek]: I am a master of that. We always have good Olympics, for whatever reason. We go to the Trials and come back. I think because finally getting a little bit more rest. Okay. Maybe for the Trials, we do not rest as much; not prepared that much. Matter of fact, I very seldom talk about the Trials; we talk about the Games more than the Trials. Always kind of planting that seed in their head: yeah, okay, we’ll make the Trials; let’s go into the finals and try to score and make finals at the games, that kind of stuff.
You were there; Chris could not break a minute-flat in training. We did 20×100, race pace. The goal was to hold a minute-flat; going out 57, come home 57; everything else is going to be a minute-flat. Well, he ended up doing that, but we could not get it out of him during training.
[Salo]: I know he was. We were a little worried about that.
[Urbanchek]: Even Dr. Salo could not make him go under. But he came home 57 flat so.…
[Salo]: He was also the NCAA 1650 record holder.
[Urbanchek]: For 11 years.
I believe in threshold, okay; that is my point of origin, that is where I start. When you train these, especially the longer distances—500 and up—as long as the threshold improves and improves, they can do more of the race of the 1500 at the threshold pace. Which is kind of uncomfortable, but they still… the heart rate levels-off, lactate, if you measure it, levels-off. And they can come home at the end. Sun Yang comes-home 55 or 54, nowadays, because he is able to go 1,400 or 1,350 close to his thresholds and then jack it up.
And that is my philosophy. You have got to do a lot of race-pace stuff, but you have got to get to that point. Anyway, let’s move on.
[Salo]: Yeah, we will go back to some of your Olympians. Who was the one that surprised you the most to make the Olympic team?
[Urbanchek]: Right there. Dan Ketchum, right there. This kid; an engineering student at Michigan; came out of Cincinnati. He was a good swimmer; was around 1:35 or 36 or 34, for yards. Good, but he never really… he did not even want to go to the Olympics; it was not his goal. Ah, come on, let’s go.
But one thing about this kid… (the other kid is myself at Michigan). That kid, that is when Mike Bottom’s full-body technique comes in: you finish your races so the last… at least the last 10-15 meters, with full-body—or straight arm, as some people call it.
He was a little of heavy-set from waist down; so heavy legs, thick hip and heavy legs. It felt like if you get the momentum going, it might elevate the body position, shift the position of the body. Then every practice his senior year leading-up to the Olympics, the last 10 or 5 meters of every set he had to come-in with a full-body stroke, okay. Put the head down, no breathing, and just finish. At the Trials, he was turning about seventh to eighth place; and came home, the last 15 or 20 meters, basically head-down. Kind of rolled everybody down, and ended-up at the top three or four.
No business to go to the Olympics, but he was at the Olympics. And then he moved-on with his life; okay, he did not stay-on swimming, he went on created a career for himself. Which we would all like them to do. Come on: get your medal and get the hell out of here. [laughter]
[Salo]: Well spoken, Jon. I agree with you 100%. I think too many of these kids stay in the sport too long, and they need coaches like you and I to tell them to keep it moving.
[Urbanchek]: Yeah. So, I have a lot of questions, often: how do you get along with Dave Salo? I mean you guys are at the two end of the continuum. You know Dave is coming out of the 12 1/2, 50, 75, maybe 100; and I’m over there at 10K, 1500, 500. But you know what? We meet closer to the middle; we are always striving to do race-pace stuff. I think you mentioned that in the last eight years you haven’t done a 1500 in practice; I don’t think I have done the 1500 practice in 30 years. Never do 1500s in practice, and I have this status of a distance coach. We never do distance, ever.
We might do two 1500s, back-to-back with no stop. [laughter] That is how I used to measure the threshold, back in the 80s when we first started building this threshold platform. That was that. The last time we did the 3,000 was prior to the 2008 Olympics, about five or six weeks out of the trials in Omaha. I was working with Bob Bowman at the time in Michigan, and we did a 3,000 meters long course for me to determine what the threshold is because we wanted to continue doing threshold work all the way up pretty much to the last minute. Scale it down from 3,000 to 2,000, the 1,500 and then all the way down.
From that threshold… has anybody ever heard about the color charts? That really gave me, what Dave talks about, race-pace, because if you can establish one’s threshold from there…. If you guys ever look to the right of it, red is my threshold pace (now it is gear three on Dr. Salo’s program). If you go over to the blue and the purple, it is all race-pace. And we did threshold only twice a week: 2 workouts out of 10, there’s no big deal. The other time is always race pace, always something fast, everyday; no recovery workout.
[Salo]: The three things that have influenced Jon probably the most in the last (there are three things). Jon knows that I like using equipments, so I like using fins and paddles. And so Jon always comes in, every day when he is there—Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays—and always has a workout written-up. I always run the first half of practice, so he has got half this practice he has written and it goes to waste. But sometimes I will say, “Jon, you’re taking the whole workout.” He’s, Oh, goody, goody, goody.
(Yeah…) No, I am talking now.
Jon, unlike me, writes every single workout he has ever done; and I never write my workout. So when he comes and brings out his workout, inevitably there will be a set that will be something like four rounds of 3×50 and 100, and the third round you put on fins. Just the third round. I will do like thirty minutes of fin work and he will do a minute-and-a-half. We did fins, it’s just like Salo.
(I don’t…) No, no, no: two other influences.
There are two other influences are: he changed his colored chart. Jon used to do 3,000 for time to establish an aerobic threshold, and, I said “Jon, why can’t you do that in four minutes? Why do you need 3,000 meters? You can do that in four minutes. You should be at study-state; physiologists would tell you that.” That is what I am. And so I kind of… I said, “I think then you will have a more accurate, actually a faster threshold time.” That is okay. But what he has done since he has been with me, he has change his colored chart to be a gear chart; so first gear is easy and fifth gear is all the way down to green or purple or whatever it is.
The third thing is I make my coaches all wear shoes. And so you will notice… Jon hates wearing shoes, but he has to wear shoes on my deck. I have to remind him periodically: I am still the boss here.
[Urbanchek]: So basically, Dave is really sharp. I am not sharp at all; I am about as dump as my shoe right here. Yeah, that is about it. So I have plan-ahead what I am going to do. Dave can come in, shoot from the hip and hit the bull’s eye. I can have my gun right here, I still cannot hit the bull’s eye. You know, I am not the same; I have got to do what I can do, okay. I cannot be Dr. Salo. Or he could not be Dr. Urbanchek because he cannot get the accent.
[Salo]: I am pretty good. (You try.) But Jon, I think I agree: you and I are probably a lot closer in mindset that most people understand.
[Urbanchek]: Yes. We are both ends of the continue, but I think we do pretty much congregate closer to the middle. I honestly feel that we are probably doing a lot more work….
Oh, that [on slide] is me. Not a bad dive, you know for an old fart. That was a pretty-clean entry.
[Salo]: In 2004 at training camp, Jon, I do not know if you remember this. Somebody was trying to do a back-to-breast flip turn, they were not doing it very well, and you…. (Ryan Lochte) Ryan Lochte. And what did you do?
[Urbanchek]: I had my flip flops on—because it was not in your control—I had my board shots on and t-shirt—which sometimes I do not even have the top on. I got so upset with Ryan: he could not understand how to do the crossover turn. You know, the first time he made the Olympic team—so he is going to have to give me some credit because I think I helped him. Finally, I jumped-in and said “Here, look…” whatever I called him. I said, “Here, just take two strokes, go, crossover, then done: piece of cake.”
[Salo]: So Jon jumped-in with his board shorts and showed Ryan Lochte how to do a back-to-breast flip turn.
[Urbanchek]: He owes me one; I keep reminding him. Not only that, at the 2008 Olympics, I went up so see Ryan and Michael up in one of the rooms there, they were sharing—about five or six guys. And so, Michael put seven of the gold medals around my neck. The eighth one was not there yet because we had to do the 400… (Jason Lezak had not won it for him yet.) 400 IM.
So Ryan took a picture of it, and he said, “I’ll send it to you.” Every time I see him, Hey you, so and so, when are going to send it? Have you been sending it to the clouds and it gets lost in the cloud, because it’s not coming down to me yet.
A couple of other things Dave forgot as my question. My contribution to Swimming has nothing to do with swimming… (Proceed) in a pool.
[Salo]: He invented the internet, I forgot to tell you that. [laughter] No, it was something else—it was not the internet.
[Urbanchek]: So when I took over the Age Group team, I had a lot of 9, 10, 11 year-old kids on the team, at my first job. Then eventually these kids start getting older, I increased the workout from one hour to maybe one hour and 20 minutes. What I did was that at one hour, we had a juice break. So every kid had to bring a juice and put it on deck. And the parents, the moms, were outstanding, creative, sending tomato juice, this juice, all kinds of stuff with the kids.
[Salo]: (Vodka and juice) Go ahead. Orange County moms.
[Urbanchek]: Anyway, eventually, I have never seen the water bottle at least in California, and if it is not in California, it is not in the world anywhere, right? Anything good starts in California. So I never saw water bottles on deck until we kind of created this with this younger Age Group as they were getting older; it is called the juice break. The kids love their juice break; they will put it on the deck or on the starting block, they would take a little break and would B.S a little bit, and would go-back, finish out the workout. Because I learned from my physiology classes that you know you can deplete yourself as close as one hour, or maybe more likely two hours. So that was my contribution…
That [on slide] is my dear wife and my daughter and my induction to the Hall of Fame, yeah, we never talked about my wife that much.
[Salo]: Well, we are kind of going through slides, now, with your family. (Yeah.) Jon, tell us about family life and coaching, because that is not always easy.
[Urbanchek]: Yes. I learned it the hard way. I was coaching at Anaheim High School, and we expected a first child. At eleven o’clock, the water broke, and so we have got to hustle to the hospital, which we did. And then at five o’clock in the morning I asked the nurse, “How much longer?” Ah, no problem, the doctor is not even here yet. So, good, good, I went back to workout, opened-up the pool at six o’clock.
I don’t have to finish the story, do I? [laughter]
When Daisy and I… (His daughter is an only child.) Yeah, it was bad.
I waited for the assistant coach, who rode his bike from Huntington Beach. It takes him an hour to get in, and that day he was a little bit late. So, by the time I got back to the hospital, yes, I saw the baby crying. You know this….
That [on slide] is my wife, she is a physiologist, but she is a research professor at Michigan… (From USC.) from USC. That is my daughter and granddaughter, just recently; they are living in Baltimore, Maryland. My granddaughter does not like to swim. Matter of fact, she came out here a couple of weeks ago, and I tried to help her breathe to the side. She said her instructor at the country club where she learns how to swim does not want her do it. I said, “I will be a grandfather, I am not going to be a coach. As long as you can survive, that is fine.” Beside I am not about to go to watch a 10&Under 25 butterfly at three day meets, some place; I am kind of too old for that, done.
Then that is my younger brother, Alex, who actually finished engineering school and owns his very successful manufacturing company: Urban Manufacturing in Wisconsin, Pewaukee. He made it big in America. He came ten years after I came here; no penny in the pocket, he had two little kids and a wife. Calls me from Vienna—they were going back from a holiday in Rome—and say, “Yeah, we’re thinking about not going back to Hungary.” What the hell, you are not going back to Hungary? What are you going to do?
So, on the Age Group team which I was coaching, I have a lawyer-friend of the team, who is also a USC person, fortunately. (Of course, yes.) Most lawyers are, SC, you know. And so “Hey Jack, you know I have this issue: my brother and his family want to come to America, and they’re waiting, so what can we do for him?” He had his law partner was a Congressman. Two weeks later, they are sitting at the tarmac at LAX—the whole family. Now, if you know the right people, you can get into America really easy. [laughter]
[Salo]: Well, we understand you can get in a lot easier than that nowadays. There are little kids walking across the board all the time.
[Urbanchek]: Yeah, yeah, you are right. But anyway, he made a big. I am very proud of him, because he accomplished a lot more than I have. What have I done? I have not done crap.
[Salo]: Jon, you say that and…. It is interesting, I have been having a conversation with my brothers—I have two brothers—over texting, and my younger brother thinks I am a celebrity because I coach Swimming. He is a cop, and he does more important work than I do—it is coaching. But what we do is valuable and we sometimes forget that we kind of treat ourselves not as celebrities. I think maybe we are celebrities; we are teaching kids to be the great engineers, and doctors and lawyers, and giving them probably the background that is better preparing them for those venues than anything else.
[Urbanchek]: Yeah. I love my job and the way it did not work out to be an engineer. I cannot see myself sitting in a cubicle, someplace with a computer, now. In my days, it would have been a slide-rule or something. I love being with people, I like to joke around; I am having fun in coaching, that is the reason I am still back at it. Otherwise, I could be retiring and play golf. (You do not play golf). First I have to learn how to play golf properly.
[Salo]: Let’s go real quick. You have this great rapport with athletes—I have seen it all the years. I coached Aaron Peirsol when he was going through the process of choosing colleges. He went through all the visits, and he came back home and he said, “Well, Dave, here is what I want to do: I want to swim with the team at Texas, the guys; but I really would like to go to school at Stanford; but I want Urbanchek to coach me.” And I was like Aaron you can’t have all you want, you’ve got to pick one or the other. So he ended-up going to Texas (That is too bad; he probably could not get into SC; I don’t know. No, no, no, I’m just kidding.)
But you have this impact on athletes; it seems universal. Are you aware of that? Or are you conscious of that? I think that is what, as coaches, we kind of envy about you, is that you just have got this tremendous rapport.
[Urbanchek]: I think it is all about… it comes out natural, okay. Coaching is a little bit of science, half science, half the arts; I think the connection makes the big difference. I think Mike Bottom said it earlier today: the information is all out there. You can do the sprint training, you can go 25s until something comes out the wazoo, you know, and it is okay. But how you deal with people; how do you make them go 3,000 hard, you know. That is an art of coaching. And make sure you believe in what you want them to do and why we are doing it.
I just have a good feel of breakdown of the monotony of training. I joke about. I put my flip flop in—if I still could use a flip flop. I put it in the water, and the flip flop keeps going with the guys. Short course, especially with eight people in the lane; you put a shoe in there, it keeps going, you know, the water is going. I enjoy doing it; I have all kinds of…
[Salo]: See, in my day, you are throwing in dog poop, but that is….
[Urbanchek]: I used to throw flip flops at you. Sorry.
[Salo]: He did not know I existed. I was in Tom Millich’s group, and Tom did everything he could… he was always going to go 10,000 more than you did.
[Urbanchek]: So going back to Tom Millich, we showed this young man….
That is Nort Thornton at the dual meet, and Jack Roach and Eddie Reese. I have to give Eddie credit because when I first took the job at Michigan, Eddie and Skip Kenney, we established home and away dual meets even though I was real shitty—Michigan was bad, we did not have anything, okay, at the time I took-over the team, it was really bad.
But Michigan had great success prior to this time. I was there, and another coach had won 7 NCAAs altogether. So I knew, I pictured Michigan like a house burned-down and all you see is a pile of ashes when you walk on the ground. But you know, as a positive person I am, something stood there before, if there is ashes. So we just have to build it up. I did not create Michigan: Michigan has been there. I just had to build it back-up, so build the team. It took us about four or five years to win a conference, and win it for the next 10 or 12 years; then ended-up winning the NCAAs and… what were we talking about? [laughter]
[Salo]: I will tell you, but you will interrupt me and start talking about something else anyway. I was talking about the rapport you had with athletes. (Yeah.) That they kind of glom to you, coaches, they have a relationship with you because of your rapport. I still think it is the…
[Urbanchek]: But that is what I think. It is really an important thing, how we get this across. You know, you can have great ideas, but you have to get it across to the athletes. I think I have a real-good connection with people; I can con them in to doing it, I can trick them into doing it, I find a way to create something where they get the job done. I am very happy with what I have accomplished.
Katie was part of my group at the Olympics, you know—I cannot take credit for her. I do not know how many seconds she dropped, but I just had a damn-good taper with her. I had her for four weeks, and she did good. I do not know what I did, I put into my…
[Salo]: I think you just took credit for it. [laughter] That is okay, you should.
[Urbanchek]: I put her into my chart.…
[Salo]: Although I have to go back to… not to rub it in or anything, but in 2008, I said, “Jon, I’m going to let you take care of Larson Jensen. I’m going to go with Ous Mellouli.” What happened to Larson Jensen in the mile? Ous won it, but what happened to Larson? (He got second or third?) No, no, no, he was like seventh, but, I let you…
I am just kidding: he got sick. He won the bronze in the 400 Free.
[Urbanchek]: We put more energy on speed; you know, I had more speed-work, you know. So we cannot have it all, so ended-up doing pretty-good.
Then Michael took me to the Raven’s game, I think, last Thanksgiving-time. And I am working really hard at the World Championships in Rome. As you can see, I am having a real-good time, on the rubdown or lounge chair or whatever it was. And Jack Roach and I had been very close friends; very good friends. I call him my son, or my SOB; he is about 12 years younger than I am.
A couple of other things I mention to you here. Not only do you have the water bottle, I want to take credit for. I do not want to take credit for all the gold medals; nobody gives a damn. You know, who cares: the gold medal is going to be tarnished in a few years; you put it the shoe box, put it someplace. And all the trophy. What is really important is the friendship you take home from all the kids you ever had; that lives-on forever. Records? I told Michael: “All your records are going to be broken. Not yet, but it won’t be too long before it’s gone. It’s the friendship that’s going to stay on.” Nothing else is important. So where were we before?
[Salo]: You were talking about what you invented. You invented the internet, water bottles, and parkas.
[Urbanchek]: Yeah. So, the parkas you guys know today, this is a good story. (Tell it.) Yeah. The parkas as you do it today, in the mid-70s, I went to Steve Furniss, who was actually a Vice President of Arena USA at the time, and I just happened to be on an Arena staff—I am Speedo now. (Don’t drop me please; I’m not getting played at USC, I’m a volunteer. I need to survive.) [laughter]
So, I went to Steve Furniss and he was not really interested; he kind of listened to me but nothing happened. I could see it in his eyes, and it did not sparkle. But Gill Westwell was a marketing person in a company—most of you guys do not know Gill Westwell; I think his son Gary is running the business now. So basically what they did, Gill said, “Jon, I like your idea. Let me take it home to my wife and see what she thinks.”
So Gill Westwell started making… his wife was making parkas in a garage in Huntington Beach. Because you could not buy parkas, you could only buy capes. And capes were something football players wore; that is where I got the idea, at Anaheim High School. It used to rain in Southern California; it is not raining there anymore. But it used to rain a lot and you would have all these dual meets in January, February, it is freezing cold. So we got to have something, and I could not borrow the capes. So we said: let’s make some parkas.
So, that was my idea. Gill Westwell said, “Jon, let’s do it.”
[Salo]: The pace clock, you invented the pace-clock.
[Urbanchek]: No, no, no: I want to finish this first.
So, Gill said, “Well come on, give me $5,000.” I did not have $5,000; I did not have any money.
[Salo]: You lost that with a coach who was a stock broker, I understand.
[Urbanchek]: No, that was a bit later, when I went to Michigan.
But, anyway, so Gill said, “Okay, I’ve got to find somebody else.” So, Gill Westwell ran into Jon DuPont. Jon DuPont was living… we do not know what Jon DuPont was doing, but he was kind of swimming Masters and triathlon, and we do not know what but you all know who the Dupont family is, right? But Jon is no longer alive. Jon gave 15,000 or 20,000 dollars to Gill to start this business.
So, they called the company DuPont West, that was the name of the company at the time. But then when Jon passed away, just recently, they changed that company’s name into TruWest. And they are very… I am sure all of you guys have parkas made by the company. But I want you to know the idea came from Jon Charles Urbanchek; that was my idea. I should have patented
(Are you done?) I am going to sue them. I have still got the first parker that was made; thank… that was for me.
[Salo]: Okay, pace clock. (I am not done yet.) I know you are not done; I have got to move you along. (Okay.) Pace clock, you said you invented the pace clock.
[Urbanchek]: No, I did not invent the pace clock; I brought it into Swimming. Okay.
I was coaching Water Polo at Anaheim High School, and they used to have this clock that goes around—what do you call it? (A clock?) What is the name for that? (Clock?) No, there is a name. Not digital; what is another name? (Analog?) Analog, yeah. It will go from 35, shooting clock, counting downward.
So this kid, Greg Fink—SC graduate, played polo and swam at USC, very high level. He was making this experimental pace clocks in his garage in Corona Del Mar. So we had that countdown, just to go down for a shot clock for Water Polo. So I went over to his garage one day, said, “Greg, can we make this count up to a minute?” Oh, Jon, no problem, just turn the switch and put something in. So then he gave me one or two of those clocks. Okay.
So what we did, the shot clock was set for one minute, so every 60 seconds it goes back to zero. It did not give you the minutes, but that was the beginning. And then he started making a little bit bigger clocks, which you used at Long Beach State. Which we had a cable connected to each end, then that will also give you minutes also.
And basically what happened: Gregg Fink took his creation—actually my idea—to Omega. And Omega hired him. And he just told me in Irvine, at these Nationals here a couple of weeks ago; I said, “Did you get any money from…?” No, they took my idea and then gave me a job for a few years and that was it. Come on, sue them (and give me a half of it).
So anyway, I feel that those were one of my contributions to Swimming. Which really kind of helped Swimming, because I think it made it easier for kids to read the clock.
But I have another idea…
[Salo]: He invented LuLu Lemon.
[Urbanchek]: No, no. I have another idea; I just found out this morning. For those of you in the lecture with Dr. Salo, he had this shocker.
[Salo]: Yeah, that is my shocker.
[Urbanchek]: I want to have this shocker. Because at the time my wife was doing research at USC, she would take me up to there… we had rats running on a treadmill, 45 minutes. You had to shock the rats if they could not keep up the pace. Hey, let’s bring this to Swimming. Finally we got something that… (You could do that.) You are not holding a minute-flat pace: zap him.
[Salo]: Jon, there has been a common theme about USC. What you saw up there was kind of the conversion of the color chart to the gear chart. Tell us the story: you were interviewed for the job at USC when Peter Daland left.
[Urbanchek]: Yeah. In 1992, I went out to Peter’s retirement dinner. At the time, I had received quite a few calls to be interested in a job. I was not interested in the job. One, it would be in a literal move from Michigan; Michigan to SC.
(But it pays much more.) Yeah, but it cost more too; it cost more to live in LA too.
Plus I had recruited the best recruiting class ever, since I had been at Michigan. Dolan was in it; Gustavo Borges. It just had a whole bunch of great swimmers. I did not have the heart to leave those kids; I just signed them to Michigan. Are you being a total jerk, you leave us here? My heart said I can’t do that, so I stayed at Michigan. And the rest is history.
And then every four years, I was going to retire afterward and I never retired. I tried to retire in ’96 after the Olympics, because I do not think I can ever put seven or eight people in Olympics again—which I never did. But, I stayed on Michigan, we still had quite a bit of success, and finally, 2004, I said okay, done.
[Salo]: You never really… I mean you are retired financially, but you have not retired from what you do so well. What do you do to kind of occupy your time when you are not thinking about Swimming? I know you do not play golf.
[Urbanchek]: Well, some of you might have seen me with a fish. Did you see that fish picture? (Which he invented.) No, I did not invent it. (Fish.) A fishing pole? I do have a lot of fishing poles. You know every time I give a lecture—well it should not say a lecture, a talk—you know my idea is, especially when talking about the color choice and so on, I said “Okay, I’m going to leave you guys. I’m not giving you the fish; I’m going to leave you guys with the fishing pole. I gave you some ideas, and you can catch the fish, whatever fish you want to catch. You can have a little one, a big one, whatever, but it’s always an idea. You don’t have to copy the Jon Urbanchek system, but I give you some ideas and you can expand it to yourself.”
(That is a nice picture. I think Katie Ledecky was swimming the 800 free, and I was writing down times down there.)
This is my hobby; he asked me what I do. That was my little horse (down there). His name is Sport, his real name is Point Guard, coming from the dad was Harlem Globetrotter, so we wanted to get a basketball name. Sport is still alive, and I just saw sport two or three days ago, still in Michigan. I love my horse; we spent a lot of time.
You know what, Dave—Dave remembers it. In 1991, I came home on Mother’s Day after being gone for seven weekends in a row. Gone for swim meets: NCAAs, junior college championships was right about the day before Mother’s Day; and I had been gone. My wife was getting all upset, and finally said that was enough, don’t even bother to come. She threw all my crap out in the backyard; luckily we had a French nanny there, because my wife was working, my daughter was going to some private school some place, I am away. She said that was it, out of here. So all the crap was thrown out; the nanny picked up the crap, put it in the garage.
The middle the night, I call up Tom Millich, who was my assistant coach. I said, “Tom, I need a place to stay.” And my wife says, “You either do Long Beach State or Beach Swim Club. If you want to be back in this house, one or the other. This cannot go on anymore like this.” She really gave me a wakeup call; but I still did not open my eyes. This was in May. I stayed down with Beach Swim Club, living away from home for three/four months. I went to Brown Deer, watched Mary T. Maher set the World Records. Then after that Summer, I gave up the club team, Beach Swim Club, and I just became a coach for Long Beach State until I went on to Michigan.
But my wife woke me up, and I think it has probably happened to some of you guys out there. If you are engaged in your coaching everybody else’s kids and you forget about your own family. And when Eric Namesnick had children about to born, I said “Eric, I don’t want to see you. Get the hell out of here, you stay home, you be with your wife.” I have tried to teach the younger coaches: do not make the same mistake I made. Thank God, I am still married after 48 years, whatever.
That is me?
[Salo]: With your shoes off.
[Urbanchek]: That is a workout; sometimes we have workouts… at USC, we go to the beach for workout. That is kind of fun. Old man of the sea, yeah, that is about right. All I need now is the horse, I get on it and ride into the sunset. That would be… John Wayne was my best role model—I love that guy.
[Salo]: And with that, we have got about 15 minutes. So if there is anybody who wants to ask Jon or I any other questions, we would certainly entertain those questions.
[Urbanchek]: No, we are not talking about shop. We still have any shops going?
[Salo]: You cannot ask them to ask questions that already…
[audience member]: Jon, you once said—after you told me you invented the internet—that you would be on Facebook after eleven o’clock because you wanted to know what your athletes were doing. Do you still do that?
[Urbanchek]: I would not even know how to get on… I do not even know my password for Facebook. My Facebook is filled with pictures, I do not know who the heck put them on there. I would not even know. Honestly, I am on Facebook; but I am not on Facebook. And if I do not respond to all the birthday wishes and all that, that is because… I do not even know. One time I tried to put something, I put something not-nice to the whole world; I could not tell the difference to what goes to that person. My response to that person was kind of personal, not acceptable; and the whole world saw that. So I said screw it, I’m not doing it anymore.
But I am on Twitter, so you can tweet me anytime. Because that is the only way Dave’s kids respond to anything, is on Twitter. Right? That is about it. So I am trying to up with Twitter.
[audience member]: I was just wondering, when you went 18:30, was that with flip turns?
[Urbanchek]: No flip turns. And then we finished 10 yards out from the end of the pool. And you know how you have the flags for turning, two people were holding the flags, and as you are coming through, they lower the flag. The timers was sitting at the side pool, on the ladder type, like the way they used to do it in Track & Field, a long, long time ago.
[audience]: Was that a 20 yard-pool?
[Urbanchek]: In a 25-yard pool. That was at Cornell University, in 1959. That was a good effort, that time. Because I can make it 15 minutes, now, but who cares; like I said: times are not important.
[audience member]: I know you have always been an avid runner. From your color chart, what color are you on now?
[Urbanchek]: On running? (Black) On running, I am probably below white, maybe clear.
Jim Richardson, who is… I have got to give Jim credit; what we accomplished at the University of Michigan, it is unbelievable. Jim was part of the team. I had the greatest idea, and he had the knowhow how to put everything on a computer because I had zero knowledge on that. Jim put all those chart. Jim and my wife Melanie, who is a physiologists, they really helped me a great deal to compose all that. I had a little bit of science behind it, but much of it is clinical work I had done it at the University of Michigan.
We have not taken blood ever on a campus at the University of Michigan for any of my athletes. I never really believed in lactates. I went by heart rate a lot because I learned that back when I was in school professors were taking, writing… interval training had just came in across from Europe in the 50s. When I was swimming, we used to do a lot of repeats. even with a 10x or 12×400 yards. Dick Jochums, you were not the first one—if Dick is still here—you were not the first one that used 10×400, okay; we used to do it at Michigan.
So anyway, good question. I do not know what the question was; I hope I gave you an answer. [laughter]
[audience member]: Two things about taper?
[Urbanchek]: I love taper because quite often, people come to me sometimes and they say “Coach,” I am recruiting somebody, “I missed my taper.” There is no such a thing missing your taper; you missed your training. Okay. If you did the training, honestly, if you did… and the reason I feel successful, we did the training, we put in the work.
My wife is the greatest physiologist, so I tell her that. She said “Oh, how the team do?” Oh they’re swimming real good, real fast. She said, “No wonder, because finally you’re resting that muscle. That muscle is contracting, the speed is supposed to contract, because usually you bake and bounce so much by working so hard, so not enough fast-twitch fibers are contracting.” Well, she she was right; she is a genius. Yes, I gave them some rest.
[Gary Hall Sr]: Hey Jon. I have to say something: I want to pay a tribute to Jon because, in my opinion, he may be the greatest coach in the history of our sport. I mean, you talked about his ability to relate to swimmers, and I have to tell you that my son had a bit of reputation as a rebel. There were more than one trip, including the Olympic Games, where Gary Junior came home and he said, “Dad, if it weren’t for Jon Urbanchek, I would have either been kicked off the team or I would’ve left.” He said, “Jon saved me on that trip.” Jon, if you want to know more details at the bar tonight, I will share them with you. Jon know details, and Jon had an uncanny ability to relate to him.
… of which my son was a part of. And he loves the sport; he loved you. You saved him on many a trip. I think in 1994, if I am not mistaken the first time he made an international team, the first race he finds himself anchoring the medley relay against the team from Russia, against Popov. And everybody is going Oh my god, he’s never done a relay start; how’s this kid going to…. Gary will be just fine. Sure enough, in that relay he kicked his ass. Thank you, Jon.
[Urbanchek]: Thank you Gary, yeah, that is awesome, yeah.
I am going to respond to Gary just briefly. Gary Hall Jr. actually visited the University of Michigan; nobody thought that Gary would come to the program which I was labeled as a long sprint coach, a distance coach. He actually came to Michigan, he went to the football weekend. He had a fun time and he was honest about it. He did not really like the cold weather; he would like to go someplace where it will be a bit warmer; and I appreciated his candidness. He was very good about it. I told Gary, “Hey, Gary, it doesn’t matter if you go to SC, I will see you at international trips.”
It ended up, I would see him on international trips, and he always congregated over to the long-sprint group I used to have at the Olympics. He would do the warm-up, and we always have our first set, kind of what we called it a preset, which would take us to about 2,000 or something like that. He would do the workout with us, and then Okay, Jon, that’s… I’ll go and do my jacuzzi and then finish.
Thank you a very much. I really enjoyed this opportunity to come. And we did no shop talk; we did not talk about paces. It was fun to come to this clinic because I did not have to prepare anything; I had absolutely no clue what Dave was going to ask me. That is the way he is in practice at home: I never know if the pool is yards or meters, is the water polo goals in the pool, do we have to do this or that. I learned I was so anal about everything has got to be perfect before; now I know you can have a great team and you do not have to do all this preparation. You do not have to sit down all night or sit on the can in the morning and write your workout, you know. Yeah, thank you.
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