Developing a Swim Team by Ron Heidary (2001)


Published


I am going to cover a lot of things and maybe try to go through bullet points on these and get as much as I can.  I’ve enclosed articles and I didn’t put in, some of you are looking for stroke, technique things that are not in here, I included articles and an outline of my talk and the articles I think are very important and I think that a lot of teams do that, but that’s real important for us because an article would demonstrate something about the character or personality trait that we want our kids to understand and develop so we do a lot of this stuff every week we have meetings and we hand out one or two articles and talk about it and these are some of the ones I’ve enjoyed and I’ve enclosed in here and feel free if you like it to share them with your team.

 

We’ve gotten to the point that when we do have a meeting that our kids ask do we get an article today so they really do enjoy these, and most of them are good the uncommon professionals is about work ethic, I think that is a great article having workout that the butterfly is about growth and adversity sportsmanship, a tale of sacrifice and a short little story, there is an article called so what if it is not fair and that is from ASKA and that is an outstanding article for you to give to your parents I highly recommend it, it puts the coach parent relationship in perspective, so that is one I would definitely get out and don’t feel bad about giving it to your parents, and there is some team work the two roads is a poem about choices and especially for high school kids that is outstanding, I have some quotes, there is an article about water vs. coke because I have an issue with our kids drinking coke, as using it as a water bottle at practice and drinking it at meets and they don’t seem to get it so that is good for that.  The job interview is very funny it is one of the end ones if you want to just go and review that I think you’ll enjoy it, and then there is also having a bad day that puts your bad days in perspective.  The myths for coaching if you want to review those also I would like to go over those at the end and talk a little bit about our technique philosophy more and I hope that I will have time to get to that but you can review those and then we will go through.

The people magazine thing, has anybody seen me in that by the way?  No, let me just tell you that I didn’t earn that on my own merit as you can see by looking at me.  One of my ex swimmers is working for people magazine and she nominated me and my brother for that and for some reason we made it through the selection process and I really think it was cause we were twins and we coach and we coach rivals high schools and so we made it in but it was in terms of what do we get out of if, I kind of got a little excited the lady the interviewer said you know your life is going to change when 8 million people read about you and I said what do you mean change and she said you know people are going to contact you and your going to get hundreds of e mails and phone calls and people are going to find you at the pool cause they know where you are and I was worried about that I didn’t want to be stalked and I was waiting for the e mails and the phone calls and they didn’t come there was nobody and then after a week of nothing I was actually wanting, I would have taken like a grandmother but like nobody stalked me there was zero interest and it was kind of a disappointment and the only thing I got out of it was ridicule from my fellow coaches, so it was not as glamorous as people might have thought, when I come to these things, these conferences I always leave with and inferiority complex because I go and listen to the distance guy and I think we don’t train enough and then I go listen to the sprint guy and I think we don’t sprint enough and when I go back I’m more confused then when I came here, so I don’t know what to think.

 

We have a different interpretation than a lot of coaches in United States Swimming (something happened with the tape recorder) I apologize for that, we have a different interpretation in a lot of areas and it just comes from our own trial and error and it has to do with training and technique I would like to talk about that later.  Our team is a work in progress we really evaluate and re-evaluate on a daily basis and continually are critical and try to make changes to try and get better.  I am sharing this presentation with my brother, I have a twin brother, and he has strong opinions and philosophies and we had a discussion about how should present this and my opinion was it should be more specific about stroke issues and technique and training and he felt it should be a big picture presentation and I deferred to him because he has a full time job and I am going to share his 401 K so I defer to him on everything.  Now our team background, I just want to go over that, that is in the front and we put that in for a couple of reasons number one I think it gives us credibility to stand up here and to talk to you about what we’ve done and what we think works and the other thing is and this is my brother’s opinion is, hopefully it is encouraging for coaches of small team number one or young teams to feel that they can achieve these things and be competitive at a national level and also we didn’t have a 50 meter pool and we hear this thing that if your in a small pool your not going to be competitive you got out of the 50 meter pool.

 

The first five years of our teams existence we were working out in 25 yard pools and we didn’t have a home pool and we called ourselves the vagabond team we were in seven different teams in the first 5 years, 25 yard pools and we just recently moved in to a 50 meter complex which has been great for us.  But, we kind of made it through the tough times with that.  And, to go through our coaching history, we have coached summer swimming for 22 years so we have been around coaching and kind of feel that we have paid our dues and we have had success there.  Our summer teams were as competitive with a lot of the USS Club, and I have coached with Matt for fifteen years, our summer teams have won ten county championships in area and we have a dual meet record of 200 wins and five loses and we have kind of done it in recreational swimming and we have produced even some junior national kids at that level.  What my brother feels and I agree with is that is the arena that taught us how to coach swimming and how to coach programs and there we learned to discipline kids, to motivate kids, to establish what we wanted out of a program, so we have that whole frame work and foundation when we started this team even though we did start aquatics from scratch, but we learned a lot there and we taught swim lessons to our age group kids and we would be in the water 5 or 6 hours so I learned in teach swim lessons what works and what doesn’t work and like I said I did that for a long time and that is where the big picture philosophy came in and I think a lot of coaches, and I’m not saying this in a bad way, jump into this and want to start at the top and they may read a few books and then they find that they have a hard time running a program or motivating kids and they haven’t kind of gotten down in the blue collar worker to learn and I think that is very important to learn and I think that is very important to do and whatever you have to do to do it I recommend that you do that.  In terms of the philosophy of our program what I feel is the philosophy you have of your program is the philosophy of who you are as a human being.  I don’t think you can have a program philosophy unless you know what you stand for.  That is one thing that we’ve tried to do is establish that those personal kind of goals and things and then carry that kind of as a beacon of light indoor swim team as opposed to doing it the other way.  So those things are very important to us and it goes all the way back to our morals and our standards and they are kind of guidelines for living and there is a saying by Leo Buscaglia if you have ever read any of his books or listened to his tapes which I recommend, he said you can’t teach what you don’t know so if you don’t know discipline you can’t teach it and if you don’t understand team work you can’ t teach it and if you don’t understand team work you can’t teach it and so those are the things that we have done and carried it though.

 

After our rec. coaching years we started a fall program in our area if you’re a rec coach you can do fall swimming up through December so we started that, we started that program with 20 kids about 15 years ago and we were strongly committed to it, we built kind of a foundation in the area and we’ve had credibility and that program grew from 20to 100 to 200 and now we have 300 kids in the fall program in four pools and we learned how to coach large groups through that fall program.  We were coaching 60 kids in a six lane pool 10 kids in a lane and we had to learn how to discipline and organize and motivate kids like that and teach them how to swim right when the pool was that crowded.  And then after the fall program was established 6 years ago we started Ren Aquatics and we started that team with 20 kids, we started that team with 20 summer swimmers 6 years ago.  Quite honestly we had no idea what we were doing, I mean I never admitted to anybody but I was ignorant about year round swimming, I knew rec swimming and I knew stroke work but I wasn’t that clear on training and I didn’t even know what I was getting into or what we were getting into so kind of the joke is we started with 20 kids six years ago and 3 scared coaches and now we have 110 confident kids but we still have 3 scared coaches, but that is how we started it.

 

The coaching staff is the best part of our program and not in a coaching way but in a people way and our philosophy has always been don’t hire the best coach hire the best person and we have done that we are very lucky because I hear a lot of stories about coaching staff with pension and ego and we have none of that my brother and I co-coach, Matt Aronbruger was assistant coach and we have a group of volunteer coaches that are all best friends and all on the same page whatever we do we do as a group and that is one of the best parts about doing what I do is my job is not really a job I mean I coach with my best friends, I don’t know if that is a good thing or bad thing, you know we have kind of a joke that our circle of friends is a dot, it’s not really a circle it’s just a dot and Matt Aronberger, I was the best man at his wedding Matt could you stand up.  I just want to share with you, because one of the highlights of my life is I did the toast at his wedding and he’s got a beautiful wonderful wife that is too good for him and I gave the top five reasons why he married Tish, I just want to share three with you, he needed the second income and she was the only one that believed that what he did was a real job and my last one I say it lovingly if you were losing your hair and gaining weight you would get married too! But our coaches have all made sacrifices and gone without pay and like I said we have a number of coaches that volunteer and get nothing but really just enjoy being a part of the program so my advise is if you can get into that situation do it, I mean work with people that you really care about, that respect you and you respect them and everything will flow better and believe me it will come from the top all the way down.  So we have never had to hire outside of our group and like I said we have never had distention it’s always been positive our team structure is we have two workouts and we did this because when we were deciding should we do it kind of by a quality division of the top kids and then the next group of kids and I talked to a lot of coaches about what they did and Reno was one of the ones that gave me an example to do it this way which I really liked was we just do it by age, so 8th grade and down is one group and then high school is another group and with the 8th grade and down group was a junior group we split it into junior and junior plus and we’ve got a small group of young kids and we have about 45 kids in that workout.  Then the senior group we have senior one, senior two, senior three, so all the high school kids workout together and we have about 60 kids in that group and the senior one kids swim and we really don’t train a lot I mean relatively, senior one kids swim about 6000, 6500 yards, senior two kids swim about 6500 to 7000 and the senior three kids swim about 7500 plus a workout.  We have as I said in the thing we took 20 kids to junior nationals last summer so we had at one time like 20% of the team was at junior national levels so we have a lot of kids here that make those times we have kids in the senior one group that were junior national level kids and the thing is if that is where they should be then that’s where they should be if they need more stroke work and lighter training then they stay there and they don’t have to have an ego about training with a higher group.  Our morning workout situation is we go three mornings, the senior one kids go 1 to 2 and the senior two kids go 2 to 3 and the senior three kids go 3 mornings and we have pretty good attendance we have sometimes in the high 30’s, 38 kids at morning workout and then into the low 20’s on certain days and morning workouts are 5:30 to 7:15.  General workout themes and I think these are important they’re kind of the big picture things about developing your team the first one is coach responsibility.

 

I believe that everything you do in your program is absolutely your responsibility and everything that is not good is your issue to deal with and that is just a light thing taking responsibility and I hear a lot of coaches blaming kids well these guys don’t work hard enough or these kids don’t care or they are not enthusiastic or their not leaders well those are all things that you can impact as a coach if you take responsibility to do that so if there is any deficiency in our program I look in the mirror and say it is my fault I have to deal with it and I have to figure out how to get it done and that is what we do and I think we do a pretty good job at it, we are very self critical and we are honest about it and I would even say with our program as well as it is done and I’m happy with it, it needs to get better in a lot of ways and I’m working hard to try and get us there, the next thing is swimmer accountability and I think we have to teach our kids what we’re being responsible that they have to be accountable for their swimming careers and be responsible about it.  About getting to practice, about working on the things that you ask them work on and being mature and responsible.  Part of is when I dean with a kid, if I help them with something that I tell them you do what I ask you to do if I tell you to work on your stroke then it becomes your responsibility to work on it because if you don’t do it I’m not helping you anymore so we have a partnership that I work hard for you and you work hard for me too, because if you don’t then I’m checking out and I’ll kind of put my attention elsewhere.

 

Athlete development, we try to develop swimmers in these areas, the first is a work ethic, and I don’t support laziness at all and I think maybe what will describe our program is a kind of like a tough love situation where we care a lot about our kids and it really is more as people then as swimmers but we don’t tolerate very much that is not productive and laziness is not so that is one thing that we emphasize on a daily basis I mean we want to get our kids to be tough and work hard and to have pride in what they do and as Scott Peck, Road Less Traveled, has a portion on discipline which I think is very good if you have a chance to read that or listen to the tape, I think personally think laziness is a character flaw and it can be changed and we can do that.

 

Develop a love for swimming, I want the kids to be passionate about swimming I mean and you can do that, make them care a lot about what they are doing and swim like it is the most important thing in the world, I mean absolute the most important thing in the world for them and I want to coach that way and let them know and I want them to develop that quality and you know as far as appreciation goes I want them to appreciate the opportunity to swim as well and there is an example of Mike Herring which some of you might think is a little bit radical but when we ask kids to do something and we’re really into it and we want them to do it and there is one high school example years ago where I asked a girl in 100 backstroke to go out fast because she had been going out to slow and I was getting very frustrated and I said, I was very stern with it and you know just try to hold on to the race and she went out first 52 slow she was coming into the third turn and I said I’m not watching this and so in a high school dual meet I went to the edge of the pool when she did her turn and I grabbed her ankle and stopped her and I said get out and she just looked at me and her eyes were this big what are you doing I mean I was in a meet and I said get out and she got out and she was crying and upset and I told her I asked you to do something you need to do it and I expect you to get it done and that’s not in a bad guy and its not like I’m a mean guy but one thing she knows is I care, I care a lot about what she does and how she performs and I also sent a message to the rest of the team when I ask them to go out fast they better go out fast.

 

The other thing is developing a stroke improvement mentality in terms of the stroke that we do we are on them all the time, everyday, in practice, we stop the kids in the middle of the pool, we stop them at the end of the pool and if there are kids in my group they should be working on a minimum of three things in each stroke a minimum of three things, so whether they are a distance swimmer or a sprinter they should know what they should be working on and you should be watching them constantly so if there is a freestyler for example we have got a girl that is a freestyler and I’ve talked to her a lot on a regular basis about what she is working on, if I’ve pulled her out of the pool and said what are working on she should tell me and she better tell me if she doesn’t either I’ve done a poor job of communicated it or she just is not paying attention and doesn’t care which is not good.  So when I pull her out in a middle of a set and I say what are you working on she better tell me I’m working on my right arm recovery and my catch I better get my head down on my breath I’m trying to rotate better, she should rattle off all those things and she does and also what I do after I talk to kids about working on something I’ll watch them a couple of days later and not let them know that I’m watching them and just observe if their doing what I’ve asked them to do and then I’ll pull them out and I’ll just casually say hey what are you working on and I want them to tell me oh, you know my head position I was trying to work on that, and I’ll say yes you were you look great keep doing it, it is almost like they are under a microscope in everything they do and the more your on top of that the more they will feel like number one you care about them and your trying to help them and you are into what they are doing as opposed to swimming laps up and down the pool and I think that we do that with just about every kid on our team and like I said a minimum of three things and it can be more.  Another thing is develop a positive attitude I really hate negativity I despise it and I don’t like negative kids and one of the things about negativity is I feel that a lot of kids get that from their parents, so they grow up in that environment and that is kind of all they know and you need to work to change it because it is cancerous and it is bad for the team and it is bad for the kids in the workout group so we really don’t tolerate negativity on the team and we are on top of that too.

 

Develop a team mentality and Richard Quick talked about this yesterday, I was there and it was really good and I agree with it 100% and not only, and I’m going to go a step further I wouldn’t say that you ask that of your kids you demand it you absolutely demand it, my brother and I talked a lot about this on our year round team and on the high school teams we coach is that we are going to ask you and maybe the word is demand that you put the team a head of yourself in every situation the team is always a head of you there is no circumstance when it is not, so we build the team up so that you should feel lucky to be part of the team and you should feel fortunate to be able to contribute to the team in any way that you can so that is critical and there is no individual kids on that, and another thing which didn’t put in there is just developing appreciation for being an athlete and this is something that I do and as I got older I have that appreciation I have an appreciation for coaching, but these kids that are able to swim are lucky and I put it in the big picture perspective and maybe some people don’t agree or think I’m a little silly about it but when you read the paper everyday half of the world lives in poverty I mean half of the world doesn’t have these opportunities more than half of the world and we live in a wealthy community where these kids get everything they want and the more they have the more they take for granted and I remind them all the time about how lucky they are. To be an athlete and be able to compete and be healthy and I’m going to beat it into them until they get it and kids do get it because kids have graduated and said thanks for making me realize everything that I have as opposed to going through the motions and saying swim faster, swim faster, go through life appreciating like I said the more kids have unfortunately the less they do appreciate it and we know kids that live in poverty and don’t compete and we know kids that don’t have parents and have not support to be an athlete in any sport and these kids get the opportunity.

 

Some things on workout emphasis and these are brief, one is stroke work, and efficiency is the key in our program.  Everything is based on developing an efficient stroke and swimming that way all of it, whether you’re a sprinter, or a distance swimmer, it all comes down to stroke work and efficiency and I think that we swim enough to get kids fast enough in 200 yard races and probably the 500 freestyle too and quite honestly we don’t train for the 1650 and I don’t know if I’m doing our kids a disservice but my maybe irresponsible coaching reason is that it bores me and I really don’t like coaching it and I just really don’t like doing it I much rather work with stroke kids you know developing 200 fly or 200 breast you know 200 IM, 500 free or 400 IM, but we just don’t train for that and I think that we’ve done fine and I’m not disappointed in it and so when you are training up to the 200 yard races, we do enough of that and I think that you’ll get more out of changing kids strokes and making kids more efficient then you will training, so whether, like I said it’s a butterfly and I hope that I can talk about this later the things that we work on in butterfly and backstroke to do this but I’ve always said if I have a kid and I said you swim here and we need you to get to the here, I’m not even talking about training goals I’m talking about stroke improvements to get you there that is almost what I’m always talking about.

 

Another thing is communication we communicate with kids all the time on a regular basis and we want them to know where we stand and what we expect of them and how much we care about them so there is a lot of that, that goes on and we are very direct and honest about it one thing I put in here is the one minute meetings, we pull kids out of the water constantly to check in with them, because we have a lot of kids and it is hard to have individual meetings, we do kind of have group goal meetings but we are not able to do that well, so if I have 15/20 kids in my group I can pull five kids out in a workout in a warm-up or even in a main set and just say how do you feel, how are you doing, how does your stroke feel and just check in with them and know where they are and then let them get going again, and then I know where their head is and they know that I’m on top of it but I think that daily communication is a great tool like I said you can do it in warm up and you just watch like I just watch the warm-up and watch kids swim and I think of maybe who’s not swimming well, I’ll pull them out and I’ll say how is everything going and they might say I’m a little frustrated and I say I know I’m going to try to work with you on this I’m going to watch over you for a couple of days let’s work on it together and the kid is great so I think that is important if you can do like I said you can do it with multiple kids and do it every day and warm-up I think I like warm-up even though it’s not a main part of the workout but I like it because whatever we did the day before stroke wise I need to see it the next day in warm-up.

 

If I worked on somebody’s entry in backstroke the day before I need to see that in warm-up the next day and if they’re not doing it in warm-up then I think they’ve forgotten about it and they are not being responsible, I love watching warm-up I stand at the side of the pool we do 3 300’s, 300 free, 300 kind of kick drill and 300 swim of different strokes and their responsibility in warm-up is to work on the stroke so it is kind of sudo warm-up its more stroke work kind of feel what you are doing so I think you can get a lot out of warm-up.  Streamlines are very important since we are more of a sprint program the underwater is a critical part of what we do so we develop maximum speed underwater, start with streamlines I think if you don’t streamline, your just lazy and if you don’t streamline you are going to have a hard time doing other things if you can’t even get your hands off of the wall so streamline is mandatory and then speed underwater, for example if you’re a butterflyer or a backstroker, whenever your supposed to kick off of the wall you should do it off every wall including warm up and warm down and drills and kicking and everyday and not only have you developed a habit to do it but you have to be conditioned to do it so you are developing conditioning to do that so you can handle it in a 200 yard race so for example if we have butterflyers that good underwater kicking and I want them to do three dolphin kicks and a 200 free off of each wall they’ve got to dolphin kick three times every single wall in practice so you push off and you go kick, kick, kick and it doesn’t have to be all out but you have to do it.   You build a rhythm and the hips and you just get your body in condition to do that.

 

So streamline and kicking underwater is important we do a lot of underwater butterfly kicking, because I think that, my feeling is if you are good at and you do a lot of it you can be great at it and if you are bad at it you got to get better at it, so the problem is when kids are bad at it because they are really slow and they have some real bad kids at it and they would rather do anything but butterfly kick underwater but we make them all do it so we just do it as part of workout everyday I mean we do things like 1000 easy freedown, underwater butterfly kick back no breath fast, and we’ll do that we will do easy freedown, get it for a dive I match kids up for the dive and I make them dive in and race underwater and butterfly kick back and I  put the weak kids with the weak kids so they don’t feel like there is no reason to compete but they just work at it and we’ve had kids that were very bad it doesn’t happen overnight but over a two year period get actually pretty good, like I said they just have to work on it, work hard on it.  On just general meet stuff, meet guidelines we give kids meet information, we highlight the events that we would like them to swim we put their names on it, Matt does a lot of that so they know what we want them to swim and kind of what the expectations are and like I said we do have goal meetings with the kids but not a lot of individual meetings cause the group is a little bit large.

 

One thing in the meet stuff is I don’t like to teach at meets and I hear some coaches they go to the meet and they start blaming kids for being lazy and they had some lousy turns you got to get it in the workout I mean you should be coming to the meets executing what you’ve been doing in the workouts not yelling at kids or bitching at kids because they have been lazy when you haven’t been on them in workout and to me that goes back to coach responsibility if they are not doing something well enough in the meet you got to get it done in practice and if you’ve got to spend more time in a specific area then that is what you have to do and I can tell you if we go to a meet and our turns are bad I’m not yelling at the kids I’m just off on myself, that is where like I said I don’t go to the meets to coach you go to the meets to get feedback and then you go back to practice to work on the things you need to work on.  We get splits 25 splits on all the100 yard races so if the kids are swimming 100 they should have all their 25 splits and if you do stroke rates which I recommend for backstroke and freestyle they should have stroke rates so when they come back they can see exactly how they should pace the race where they did well where they didn’t do well and in the 200 yard race if you can get 25 splits because you can see exactly where they breakdown and where they can pace it better next time and I did the pacing thing with the aqua pacer the other day and I talked about our splits and we really want to have the last three 25’s on the 100 even so if you are swimming 100 freestyle or something or like a butterfly so that you go 12 something and then 15 flat on the second 25 you got to go 15 flat, 15 flat, so you have to pace the race properly and be out comfortable enough so that you can do that in all the 100 yard races so in a 200 yard race the same thing you can get 25’s and they should be on.

 

In the 200 yard race I think the third 25 sets the pace so whatever you hit on the third 25 you have to lock that pace in and stay on it.  It can’t be a drifting up thing like that, so not in this example but in one of the other ones we had a girl butterflyer that it is in the handout that went 1:58.9 and she went out and something at the 25 which was supposed to be comfortable the second 25 was supposed to be comfortable the third 25 was supposed to be about 15 low and she was supposed to go light and she was supposed to gradually work each lap to stay on the 15 low and she went like 15.1, 15.2, 15.1 all the way through the race.  But if you get 25 splits you can see that and if you don’t you really don’t know so I highly recommend doing that, I know if you got a lot of kids in a heat it is hard but if you don’t do it every time and we have the kids check in with us before every race and after every race that is something that we do and the kids actually enjoy doing that.

 

Advice for small teams, the first thing is it is not easy I can tell you that, it’s not easy I mean there is no way to sugar coat it and it’s a pretty tough road to go on and when we started on team in the second year when we were about 40 kids there was a parent from another team who said to me and I mean he wasn’t malicious he was trying to be honest, he said I’ll give you two years and you will be done you’ll never make it.  That is the kind of stuff I had to deal with.  I had a USS kid on another team that I knew that said my coach said you guys won’t survive because you don’t train enough so that is another thing I got so I’ve gotten that stuff for years and we’ve had to work through it and believe me when your trying to do the best you can that stuff breaks you down.

 

So another issue if you’re a small team is this catch twenty-two if where you develop a good swimmer and they don’t have training partners and then that swimmer looks to go somewhere else and then you become a feeder program for big teams which is really hard to deal with and when we started off that happened to us.  We worked for a couple of years and we had a few kids get really good and it’s the parents that look around and say well you don’t have any kids for my kid to train with you don’t have any older swimmers for my kid to move up into that group, so we’re going to go to the other team that has the big senior group and that happened to us and we had to deal with that, the only thing that we had to do was with our young swimmers was do such a good job with them and build their confidence so much in us and what we could do with their future that they stayed with us and they were loyal no matter what, it wasn’t easy like I said we lost a few kids in that process.  But, most of the kids you see like if you look at the North Co sheet our team results a lot of seniors were with us six years and those are the kids now that are leaders so we’ve got all of these young kids that are going to come into the senior group that is well established and quality and they get that benefit, but that senior group had no senior group to move into and they had no example, like our backstroker that went 1:49.3 and broke the Pacific swimming record he had no senior backstroke, he had no training partner and he had no backstroke group, so it was basically me and him doing sets and I had to convince him that this was going to be O.K. even when he wasn’t swimming that well and his parents had to believe that it was going to be O.K.
There is a guy named Justin Childs in that sheet that is a senior that won the 200 free and he went 4:30 in the 500 free well three years ago he wasn’t swimming very well and I had to convince his parents that I was going to get him to go faster so he wouldn’t leave the team and he stayed so you have to work very hard at that and you have to build the confidence of the parents and the kids and you really have to do the job I mean you have to be as good as the other teams and in some ways you got to be better so they will stay with you.  We have the fall program of summer swimmers and there is a large group of summer swimmers in our area and it is kind of a double edge sword because there are a lot of kids in our area that swim summer but they don’t swim year round so every year we get maybe ten kids I mean this year we are probably going to lose 11 and we are probably going to get 10 so we don’t get that many kids, it is usually 6th, 7th and 8th graders that decide they want to swim year round and they are good or not good and then they join the team so we have all that stuff going on it’s like if we didn’t have the summer teams we would be the only team for them to swim on but there is a summer team every two miles in our area and kids do that they play soccer, they play basketball they don’t want to swim year round, a lot of them don’t so it is really hard for us even though we are in the swimming hot bed.

 

Advice I got when we were starting our team and about maybe the third year into it I went to an established coach and asked him what would he recommend and he said you have to set up a program that can get swimmers to a national level are you doing that and I kind of looked and I said I’m not sure that we are, and I said is your training for your good kids national level caliber training and I said I’m not sure and he said is your Dryland program national level caliber Dryland then can you take your Dryland program and match it with your best team in the country and I said no and he said do you go to the travel meets where an aspiring national swimmer should be going and I said no and he said if you don’t do that you will lose your kids and so we had to develop those qualities for our program so that is where I kind of had to study and look and learn and create that kind of training environment and I had to kind of figure out Dryland stuff and I bought equipment and I had to look around and figure what meets was everybody else going to that we weren’t and we had to go to those meets, so you have to look at your program and see if its that kind of program and if it’s not make it that way.

 

My other advice is and this is kind of what I did, is if you want to have that kind of program, study research, ask, buy, travel, beg, borrow, steal, do whatever you need to do to improve your program, anything and we did that, we didn’t steal well we begged a little bit but we didn’t steal and when I was in college I read a book about Tony Robbins I don’t know if you guys know who Tony Robbins is and it is about achieving excellence and things like that and one of the simple things that he said was which got in my head years ago, if you want to be the best at something then you study the best and you emulate it.  You find out what the best people are doing and that’s what we did and one of the things that I did was, was 4 or 5 years ago, Irvine, well they are great now and they were great back then, I called Baysolo and he didn’t know who I was and I said I’m a coach in Northern California I just started a swim team can I come down and watch your practices and talk to you and he said sure, so I paid for my plane ticket and I paid for my hotel and rental car I flew down there and I sat and just waited until he was ready and watched his workout and then I talked to him, I bought him dinner and I talked to him and got up and watched his morning workout and I just learned as much as I could and I came back and I would have done that ten times that year if I needed to do it, so that is the thing that I was willing to do and when we started our program also we spent about $2,000.00 books, videos, equipment, anything that we could to get to learn we bought, believe me I bought it, read it, watched it, listened to it, I bought all the ASCA tapes I listened to them in the car you know the breaststroke stuff and you know I did it all I took pages and pages of notes my brother and I watched the videos we got all the videos and we just sat and watched them we just sat and we took notes and we did that for months  and months and months anything that was out whether it was good or bad we watched it and read it and we put together kind of a binder, kind of a manual framework of what we wanted to do based on kind of synthesizing all that information and it was a huge help.

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