INTRODUCTION: Good morning. I am Jimmy Tierney from Northwestern University and an ASCA Board member. It is my pleasure here to introduce our first morning speaker. How many of you guys have read workouts and sets written by Chuck before? I know a number of them have been published. They are pretty awesome. They are motivating and inspiring, at least to me. He challenges his athletes on a day-to-day basis. His workouts and his planning I think are just outstanding in terms of the development of young athletes. I will tell you what, I have had the pleasure of knowing a couple of his former athletes that swam at Northwestern and the thing that sticks with me the most is that they have the utmost respect for Chuck. They admire him and they simply like him as a person and to me that is a wonderful combination to have when your athletes respect you and you are demanding from them the fullest effort. At times he seems to be just pounding them and pounding them, but they seem to respond well to him. I have been around him on the pool deck. They smile and seem to be having a good time. I think that is just a wonderful gift that Chuck has. Thank goodness he is coaching here with us in the United States so his gift is being shared with us all over the country. We all know about Elizabeth Beisel and her great success, but he has developed many, many other talented athletes and hopefully he is going to keep continuing to do that for years to come. So without further ado I would like to introduce Coach Chuck Batchelor
COACH BATCHELOR: Thank you and good morning. It is a tremendous honor to be here before you guys. I appreciate all of you coming out. I am pretty nervous. I will just get that out there. So, Elizabeth Beisel made the Olympic Team and that is basically why I had the opportunity to speak to you guys today. I really had to cut this list down, but I think it is very important that I thank quite a few people. I know there is no way I could have done or helped Elizabeth make the team if it wasn’t for a whole slew of people. First and foremost is my wife, Christina Close. She is here today. As I am sure many of you know, it is in many ways a very selfish endeavor to go on the path to try to take an athlete to the highest level. She put up with me not being around a lot, not being focused on mowing the lawn and things like that so, thank you. On top of that my family and her family were putting up with the same kinds of things and supporting us all the way. The coaches, my friends, my mentors, I will just list a few people here: Chris Martin, John Levine, Dick Shoulberg, Gregg Troy, Ira Klein, John Collins, Dan Flack, Frank Comfort, Jim Wood, Mike Ross who coaches with me and the rest of our staff, Nelson Diebel, ‘92 Olympic Gold Medalist, my roommate in high school, BJ Bedford, another Olympian, Nike Swimming who supported us all the way, Josh Stern a dear friend in New England, Joe Bernal who has given me tremendous guidance, the amazing staff at USA Swimming, Russell Mark is above and beyond and his crew Dan and George were just incredible every step of the way.
One little bit of advice is surround yourself with people that know more than you do – know different things than you do – have experience that you do not have and then listen to them. It doesn’t mean you have to do what they say. Sometimes hearing three totally different things and you going in a fourth direction is the right thing to do for you, but you won’t find that fourth direction without help. Continuing with the thanks, I wish to thank my swimmers, past and present and then obviously Elizabeth and her family. They made tremendous sacrifices on their part, keeping the eye on the prize.
OK, here is a picture of Elizabeth. For those of you that know her, I thought that picture really represented her personality. Those of you that do not know her the two things that I get from that picture are one, just a complete joy of life. I would say if you looked at a hundred pictures of her, 99 of them have that smile, but if you look closely in the eyes and in the face, there is also an intensity. I think those two things of that joy and that intensity have enabled her to be the swimmer that she is.
Okay, a little story about my roommate, Nelson Diebel. I think this story really is a big part of my philosophy. I do not know if Nelson is in here this morning, but I will try not to embarrass him too much. So, I was a junior in high school at the Peddie School. I was just a pretty good swimmer when Nelson came in December as a Freshman, midway through the year. He had been kind of rebellious. He had been kicked out of another school. He showed up at Peddie and he was not a swimmer. I mean he swam. He was a 1:12, 100 yard breaststroker; not very good by many standards and definitely not very good by the Peddie Team standards. We had probably a guy that was .59 and maybe a guy who was a minute and probably another 1:02 guy. I think at that time I probably could have broken 1:12 and I was not a very good breaststroker. So anyway, the deal with Nelson was that he would only be admitted to the school if he swam. It was not because anyone had any idea that he was going to be a great swimmer, but he was very bright and Chris Martin, the coach at Peddie at the time, felt that if he swam he could be kept under control.
So Nelson shows up to practice and we swim for a couple of weeks and we have a meet. It was the first meet he gets to swim, kind of exhibition. He goes 1:08 in the hundred breaststroke, still not very good, but a lot better than 1:12. Another week goes by and he goes 1:06. Another week goes by, he goes 1:05. A couple of more weeks go by and he goes 1:03. Wait a second, now he is actually beating some of the guys. One guy’s best time is a minute and Nelson’s 1.03 beats him in that meet. Maybe this kid has got something. He definitely walked to the beat of his own drum and I had kind of begun befriending Nelson. We were probably about two weeks out from the Eastern Championships, the Prep School Championships, and the whole team was sitting on the bench waiting for Chris to tell us the torture of the day. Nelson in front of the entire team, probably about 30 something kids, looks up at the record board. The record in the hundred breast on the team was 58.1. He points to the record and he tells everyone that he is going to break that record. Well, the entire team starts laughing at him, except for me. I stood up and I put my arm around him and I said, Nelson, if you keep coming to practice and keep working hard, I believe you will do that. What ended up happening was he did not break the record, but he did go 58. I think he went 58.4. He made Junior Nationals. He didn’t even know what Junior Nationals were but it was really an incredible swim. From December 1:12 to early March a 58.4. What I got from that was that Nelson’s perception was every week he swam he dropped 2 or 3 seconds. Why was that going to stop? What in the world could possibly stop that from happening? He also had the mindset that well, clearly someone had gone 58 so why can’t I go 58? It can be done. That was tremendously profound for me and I coach that way.
I try to live my life that way. I try to teach kids whether it be Elizabeth or anyone else in our program or anyone else I come in contact with – hey – if it can be done – why not you? Why not me? I love to say to people and I may or may not really believe this, but you know, just because no one else has lived forever does not mean I am going to die. That is a real stretch, but the fact that no one else has lived forever that in and of itself isn’t enough for me to guarantee that I have to die some day.
Okay, I have notes here and I apologize if I read from them too much, but this is actually the first time that I have done something like this. So, Elizabeth was a great swimmer through her entire age group career. Her mother actually tells me that she could do a legal 100 IM at age 4. I do not know too many 4 year olds that can do that. She is an incredible human being. She is a virtuoso violinist. I am told by the violin experts, because I am certainly not, that if she was to give up swimming tomorrow she could follow a career in violin and have as much or more success, which is pretty incredible. It becomes even more incredible to me, knowing her, because at the same time she doesn’t really necessarily fit the typical Olympic athlete personality and persona. I am not necessarily sure that there is a “typical”, but in my mind’s eye she certainly doesn’t fit the concert violinist personality either. She is her own person and there is absolutely nothing that will get in the way of that.
My wife and I bought the team in the fall of 2005. Elizabeth was just 13. She had the summer prior, while she was still 12, won Junior Nationals in the 200 Backstroke. I think somewhere around 2:15.9. Today’s times have kind of gone crazy, but that was really fast. There certainly wasn’t anyone at that age doing that, and there were not a whole lot of people in the country doing much faster than that. So, we took over the team. There were approximately three sectional qualifiers on the team. In total, 40-45 kids were on the team, as well as about 30 something athletes that had been swimming for my wife on another program that kind of became part of the team. Probably about another 10-12 kids that had been swimming with me on another team also came to the team so that was our team.
The first thing I knew was there were going to be lots of changes. You know that I come from a pretty heavy work background having swum for Chris Martin and also had many opportunities to swim with Dick Shoulberg, a tremendous mentor of mine. I sat down with Elizabeth and her mom and basically told them that I was going to build an elite team around Elizabeth. I have always felt that when you take one kid to Nationals that one kid doesn’t have a very good time and they usually tend not to swim all that well. However, if you have an opportunity to take 5 or 6 kids to Nationals, all of a sudden it is more like a party and they all tend to do better. So, that was my plan; that was my goal. I think at the time Elizabeth’s mom thought that I was a used car salesman. I don’t think she thinks so any more. Elizabeth was not very happy in the early months. I think partly because she was growing up a little bit and I was asking her to do things that she was not accustomed to doing. It was all kinds of things in the pool, a 5,000 race, a 10,000 race. These things were not pleasant. They made her sore. I was asking her to do a lot of dry land. She was terrible at dry land. She is still not nearly as good at dry land as she should but she has gotten a lot better. She is now a leader on the team in the dry land whereas for probably the first two years you would think that she was the only one there because I was constantly yelling her name to do something correctly.
In December of that first season I brought her and two swimmers that had swum for me previously on another team to the US Open and she got 3rd in the 200 backstroke. That was the first time she had been on the medal podium at a meet that was beyond a Junior National level meet and that was pretty good. She was very happy with that. That kind of said to her that okay, maybe some of these things we are doing are working, but she still wasn’t too sure if I was okay. She still was and is very stubborn. She is very set in her ways. She was very young. I recognized that at times I was looking at her as the swimmer and had to constantly remind myself that she was a young 13 year old. Half that list of people I mentioned were people that helped remind me to keep my mindset that she was still a very young, but very successful athlete.
We had our New England Senior Meet which is a senior meet in our LSC and by then I had kind of gotten to know her personality pretty good. I was still trying to break the ice with her a little bit even though I had been with her for months. It was getting a lot better, but it would come and go. She would let you know if she wasn’t happy with something. People that know her will I think really appreciate this. At the New England meet there is some pomp and circumstance. There is an awards ceremony after every event and of course she is going to be winning a lot of medals in that type of situation. Often, the coach of the person who wins the race is going to hand out the medals and what not. I hope no one does this to me but right behind the curtain I had a little remote control fart machine. So I put it right behind the curtain and as I was giving her, her gold medal and she leaned over I clicked the button and it @#@#@ and she just died. That is her humor still and we have been like that ever since. She actually convinced me to loan it to her. She brought it to school and got it taken away. Her mother was not happy with me for that.
Back to the swimming, I remember asking her a question actually before I started coaching her, at the Junior National Meet that she had won. I had watched her swim and it was impressive. She swam like a bulldog, but there was not a whole lot of race strategy involved. Actually, there was none. I asked her what she thought about when she swam. She said, “I don’t think about anything.” Now she is maturing. She is getting faster and getting a little more focused and getting stronger. Yet it is clear that unless we start getting some race strategy involved here and some plan to the race there is only going to be so far she is going to go. Even when she medaled at the US Open she basically ascended the 200 with every 50 being slower than the previous. That is one way of doing it, but that was not the way I felt was the best way to swim.
Because she is stubborn I basically told her that the next time that she swam the 200 backstroke I wanted her to negative split it. That was somewhat of a difficult concept for her to understand. I basically told her she could not be winning at the 100. She could win the race, but she couldn’t, no matter what, she couldn’t be winning at the hundred. I knew the next meet we were going to that was going to be very difficult for her not to be winning at the hundred. It was just because of the competition that was going to be there. Well, she wanted no part of that. So I told her then you are not swimming it. But I have to swim the 200 back that is my race. Well, either you do it my way or you are not swimming it. That was kind of the first time that she and I kind of really butt heads but I wasn’t angry. I was just matter of fact. I think that was really significant to her. If she got in trouble at home someone was mad at her. I wasn’t mad at her. It was just this is the way you are going to do it. This is why you need to do it this way and if you are not going to do it this way you are not going to do it. Until you are going to do it that is it. I think it was a long course meet in Springfield College, very reluctantly, she did it. She flipped at the hundred and I think she was in about 3rd place. She was seed time wise considerably faster than some of the other girls. She flipped at the hundred and then she just took off and she did a lifetime best time in a not very fast pool and not at a big meet with not a significant situation in any way, shape or form. She was so happy when she got out. It was the first time that she wasn’t feeling like she was about to die at the end of the race. That then became the race strategy. That is where we are now.
Continuing on with kind of her development and my development as her coach, I was very fortunate to have not just two in particular but a handful of very good athletes come home in the summer from college to train with me. Elizabeth’s swims gave more credibility to me. David Russell had just finished his freshman year at CAL and had gone 1:42 in the 200 backstroke. It was not at NCAA’s but in a dual meet, but he was the best swimmer she had ever had the opportunity to swim with. Eric Nielsen from Northwestern – Jimmy knows him – he had come home and he was by far the best trainer she had ever trained with. Up until this point she was pretty accustomed to winning sets in practice. When these two guys come home and you know – 1:42 in the 200 back – who does that? She was probably 2:01 – 2 minutes short course. Eric Nielsen could train like a machine. You put her behind him and have her start chasing him. I remember this one kind of pretty hard set that I gave the two of them was long course. It was one of the few opportunities that we get to go long course training. Eric’s mother actually shared with me later that day that he couldn’t stop talking about how miserable he was that this little girl not only was keeping up with him, but at the very end ran over him. That was kind of what I needed to do. I had kind of set a goal for myself and for her that I didn’t really share with anyone. I didn’t think it was necessarily going to be beneficial, but I really felt that she could make the Olympic team in 2008. I’m not even sure why I felt that way, but that is another way that I operate.
In 2004 I didn’t have a single Olympic Trial Qualifier. David Russell just missed. In 2008 I wanted to have ten. We ended up bringing 13 to the meet, but I made a bold statement that we would have ten people at Olympic Trials in 2008. This is about 2006 that I am saying this. So what does Elizabeth need to do where she can swim pretty darn fast? She is swimming a much better race plan, but she is no where near making the Olympic Team. Well, her walls are very weak. She is still very weak on land. She has got a bulldog attitude, a race attack mode that is unlike most, but there are a lot of things that are going to need to get a lot better. We end up going back to Irvine. She is the type of kid if she has a good meet at a pool it is her favorite pool. If she has a bad swim at a pool, she doesn’t ever want to go back there ever again. So, she is excited to go back to Irvine. She won Juniors the summer before. It is PAN-PACS and World Championship Trials. Again, on a step to make the Olympic team I am thinking she can make the World Team. I am thinking 2:11. She can do it and I think that is going to make the team. I didn’t think she could beat Margaret yet. I did not think Margaret would go 2:09, which I believe she did at that meet, but I figured she would go probably 2:10. I figured there would be a whole handful of people that would be in the 2:12 – 2:13 range. If she could drop under that I thought she could do it. She tends to be a great prelim swimmer. She, as a young swimmer doesn’t hold anything back. She swam I think 2:12 in the morning. 2:12 was top seed and all of a sudden it is like okay, this can really happen. I do not think that she knew at the time what top two meant and I think that was a huge advantage. She was there to try to beat people. She had the attitude. I am younger. I am still looking at 2016. There is no pressure. I am just here to beat people. I don’t know how they pick the teams. I don’t know any of this stuff. I am just at my favorite pool in the world at a great swim meet. It is sunny outside. I am getting tan and I get to race the 200 backstroke. She got second. What does that mean? It means PAN-PACS and you go up to Canada. If she does very well there that holds her spot, Top 2 and she is going to Worlds. I think it was at least six or eight months later. Now we are moving. Now there are expectations.
She gets the taste in Canada. She goes off to Melbourne without me. It was a first experience for her and a first experience for me. You know she was still 14 in Canada at PAN PACS and 15 in Melbourne. She rarely even traveled without her mom let alone without her mom and her coach and then she is going off to Australia for a month. She loved the experience. I remember the phone call vividly when she got all of her stuff “and I got another T-shirt and I got another T-shirt and I got shorts” and I mean she went through the whole wardrobe. It was about 20 minutes of going through with everything she got. She couldn’t have been happier then. In Melbourne she struggled a little bit. I think it was a long time to be away. I know for sure it was on my end. I am the type of coach that will often (I think Dave talked about it yesterday), I will show up to practice with a plan. Sometimes it is written down, sometimes it is not but most often it changes. If I see the way the kids look, the way the first set goes or whatever, I may change what we are about to do. Sometimes I do my best thinking right there.
It is very difficult to write practices for a month while you are not seeing the athlete. If you ever have an opportunity like this and here I made a mistake, seek out advice from people that had the experience. I could have done a much better job with her plan. I wrote every workout. She did every workout. If she had been with me, I probably would not have had her do half of those workouts because of what I was witnessing, but not seeing her and the kind of kid that she is she did everything that I wrote down. She swam well. She made it through semifinals which is a huge feat, but I do not think that she did quite as well as she could have. The other tough part was it was a 7 day meet. She swam day 7 and it was killing her. She is a racer. It was killing her not to swim the whole first six days.
That was the next kind of significant factor – OK – if she is going to be successful at the International level she needs more than one event. She hated just going and watching swimming every day and not being able to race. The next big push was going to be to pick up another event. We still have this dry land thing to catch up with. She can’t still do a pull-up. She is making World Championships. She is making it through semi-finals and she cannot do one chin-up and her core fitness was not good. Maybe I will even show it now to break this up.
I will show some stuff now that I think is pretty impressive core wise. There is some audio to this, but it didn’t really work out that well so we will see what we get here. Now this is not then, this is now. That is her and Laura Sogar. It is a little circuit. It is a fitness room that we have access to at the high school. She got her hands on medicine balls and just a wheel. It is a great infomercial device a slide board. I think that is great for breast stroke. Now Laura is not on the balls this round. There is some danger to this. We have done it on the pool deck, but that is with mats and it is not a good idea. About a year out from the Olympic Trials we formed a high performance group. These are some of the kids that were in this group. Basically you had to have a US National cut to be in the high performance group. My good friend and mentor, Dan Flack, told me that if you turn the hands in it works all this much more. It is a lot harder, so as soon as we get back we will be turning the hands in. She has never fallen off fortunately, yeah. I hope one of the things that you will get from this and towards the end especially is a very, very, very, very important component.
Especially working with Elizabeth, but I think with all kids is that there is always an element of fun. I crack the whip pretty hard, but I bite my tongue more often to kind of allow the kids to be kids. We are getting the work done and there is a little bit of relaxed atmosphere. I am very comfortable with that. Dan also told me that Elizabeth needs to do more weight here so we will be moving the weight up. Most of the time I am working with 40 something kids, 40-50 kids with one or two assistants. I think especially heading into Olympic Trials it made a lot of sense to really put greater focus or separate focus I guess is a better way of putting it on a smaller group. They had a lot of fun with this kind of thing. They would swim in the whole group, but their weight training and a lot of their dry land training was done a little bit separately. We set up a slightly different schedule. We do dry land an hour every day, at least five days a week if not 6 or 7 days a week. You know, anything to engage the core by taking an arm away or taking a leg away, make it less stable. They have got to hold still while still smiling. Elbows directly below your shoulders, left leg up. See, she is not perfect. She is not a robot. I am looking for a little more perfect. I think there still is plenty of room for improvement, but she is still a kid. If it wasn’t fun she wouldn’t be doing it. I am very aware of that so I need to constantly make it fun. Okay, the last little part is actually kind of funny. You see Laura struggling with that? She is very, very strong. This is very difficult to do and then she is dancing. She has gotten to the point where she can actually do squats. The next thing will be to try to do it with curls and things like that while standing on the ball like that. That was a big jump forward. We were nowhere near that when she got back from Australia.
So basically, she gets back from Australia. We have got two years out from Olympic Trials. Even after making Worlds, I don’t think that she was thinking about making the Olympic Team two years later. I think that is a good thing. You have got to know your athletes. I think, especially with the young ones the pressure of thinking you are supposed to do something or are expected to do something, “everyone expects me to do this,” is probably the first thing that makes most kids not do what we all expect them to do. I did everything I could to instill the possibility, the belief in herself, the belief in what we were doing, but we are not talking about going to Beijing. We are talking about doing what is right, doing the best you can and being the best that you can be and whatever happens, happens.
The next summer we had spent probably that entire spring and summer doing up to two hours a day of dryland a day. I
actually gave up some of the swimming time for that because I really felt it was that important. That summer she was much better in the 400 IM. I think she dropped from 4:50 to 4:44. It was very significant. She was not quite a player, but on the cusp, just on the outside of a player in the 400 IM. 200 back stayed about the same and about three or four other girls jumped in ahead of her so she was no longer Top 2 in the US. In hindsight I think that was the best thing that could have ever happened. I say that because immediately she was upset that that had happened. Her parents were upset that that had happened. I thought it was going to happen. She opened up the flood gates. 2:11 was now the Nelson Diebel story. There was a whole bunch of girls in the country that looked at her and said – hey – if Elizabeth can go 2:11, I can go 2:10 – 2:11 and a whole handful of people jumped in under her. She stayed at that 2:11 and there were some 2:09’s – 2:10’s that got in ahead of her, but that immediately took the pressure off of “everyone expects me to make the Olympic Team”.
Gregg Troy gave me huge advice about a year to maybe 8 months to a year out from Olympic Trials. You know, USA Swimming has that Test Meet in Omaha and all these other very big meets leading up to the Olympic Trials. I figured we do not go to Olympic Trials twice. We will just go to Olympic Trials once. Knowing her as an athlete, if we had gone there and she had not swum well, now she is going to think, oh that is not my pool, etc., etc. So my whole mode, every time USA Swimming or Swimming World or anyone wanted to do a piece on her or have her highlighted in any way, shape or form I said, “No way.” She is just another swimmer. We are just training to be the best we can and we are not going to have any of this stuff that is going to start putting pressure on her, having her think oh, I am expected to do this.
You know thank goodness that she wasn’t one of the people they picked to do the Olympic hopeful kind of piece on. You know it is great to read. It makes for great stuff for everyone, but my best advice to anyone that ever has an athlete that is in this potential range where that stuff seems neat, where it makes them feel like a treat when it is happening; you do not want to walk into Omaha thinking you have already made the team. You haven’t. For anyone that has been there it is crystal clear in this country even Michael Phelps has to still put his hand on the wall first or second to make that team. It is not a given and anything can happen. Anyone can come out of the woodwork. Anyone can be off at any time. It is not over until the fat lady sings or however that goes.
Having Laura Sogar in the program, a great breaststroker, was a huge weakness for Elizabeth. She is a racer. I gave them the opportunity to race on a daily basis. For breaststroke I think she is a 2:32, 200 breaststroker. It is not bad. Jon Urbanchek had told me that in order to be World Class in the 400 IM you have to be within 10 seconds of a World Record in all four 200’s. Jon would know and so I took that to heart. Elizabeth was there in the backstroke. She was certainly within 10 seconds in the 200 free, but she wasn’t within 10 seconds in the 200 breast and was not with the 200 fly. I think Jon might agree, I haven’t asked him, but I think that needs to be amended. I think you probably need to be within 5 seconds of the world record in each 200 and probably be even closer in several at this day and age with the way people are swimming.
OLYMPIC YEAR: you know I did talk about Olympic Trials. I talked about people making Olympic Trials. I told the team I think probably at the time over and over we were going to have 10 people at Trials. At the time we probably had 3 or 4 people and I would leave it up to them. I would talk to the team on a regular basis. I do not know who the other six people are going to be, but we are going to have six more because…do you want it…do you want it? It started to become in our senior group of about 40 kids if you didn’t have Olympic Trial cuts, you suck. That is a pretty cool place to be. Basically my plan was successful in terms of keeping the pressure off.
I apologize that I am going to jump around here a little bit because I am going to give up the notes a little bit and try to just talk. In regards to our program, whether it is an Olympic year or not, it is focused on long course excellence. From September 1 we are focused on long course excellence. We do race short course. I think kind of the new short course over December is brilliant. We race short course. We train short course-minded through December. After a particular meet in December the entire focus is long course. If you are on the senior team, it doesn’t matter what level you are, we are focused on long course. We might swim a short course meet if you are maybe just at the sectional level because that is all we can find for you, but if I can bring everyone to long course meets that is what we are going to do. We do not train long course. Later at the second talk I will talk more about how we train the group, but we do 125’s. It is nothing ground-breaking. It may be even more psychological, but I look at it as OK, if we are going to do 100’s long course, the max heart rate type hundreds that we do, Elizabeth is going to go on a really good set, she will be minutes and 1:01’s. On an off set she will be no slower than 1:04’s while 125’s she can hit 1:07’s so her heart rate is where I want it to be for approximately the same amount of time. I got lucky for sure. There was absolutely luck involved in it. I thought and I ended up being right.
Every November we go to a meet in New York City. It is Brian Brown’s meet. It is long-course in the morning, short-course at night in November. That is our second meet of the year and we are racing long course. December we always take a training camp and we go somewhere and we swim long course and we swim long course every day and we swim long course twice a day. January, we go to Jim Woods’ meet. I forget what it is called now. It was Bergdorf then and Bergdorf probably in my mind forever although his new sponsor probably would not be happy with that. It is a long course meet, trials and finals in New Jersey at Rutgers. I searched to find somewhat low key long course meets, any where that we could get to. We went up to Toronto in February and raced long course. It was awesome. I don’t think anyone in this room knew we were there so no one knew the times and we swam very well there. Her 400 IM was outstanding.
Jumping back to the New Jersey meet in January, she went 4:41 in the 400 IM. Now you know at the time it was looking like 4:39 might have made the Olympic Team. This was just before the suits, just before the LZR came out. Maybe 4:38 could have made the team. Definitely it seemed like Katie would probably go a 34 and 36 or 38 was probably going to make the team. Sectional meet in March we go long course, Olympic year, most of them are. Hopefully, moving forward, all of them will be every year.
This was the absolute best thing I have ever done and I will share this with all of you. Anyone can do it. You have got to fill out some stuff however. We did a three week or just under three week training camp in April in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center. Do not ask me about the altitude. I have no idea what that does for you. I have absolutely no idea. I know what people say and actually people say all different things, but it is an environment of excellence. You are eating lunch with Olympic Gold Medalist ice skaters. You have the opportunity to talk to people that are the best at what they do in their field. You have a great facility. You are living there. You are eating there. The food is good. It is a perfect situation. If your athletes are fast enough it is funded. If they are not it is still a very good deal. I am not exactly sure what the price is today, but it is a great experience. I think for the altitude supposedly to get the benefit you have to be there for I think six or more days or seven or more days, something like that. For us it was the only place that we could afford to go for that long a time. Probably a lot of people are thinking what about school? I think we brought about 12. We brought that high performance group, about 12 kids that first year. Basically we had a school vacation a week long. I think they had a week and then one day into the next week. We have kids from Rhode Island and Massachusetts. They had two different weeks off but they were up against each other so it was not too difficult to see. It was easy to sell the kids on it but to sell the parents on it – OK – they have got a week off – it is not going to cost you very much money – basically a flight. Take another week off from school. We would normally, back in the day, be going to a National Meet at this time of year. Would they be missing a week of school? So it is a couple of more days. Most swimmers are very good students and with the internet the kids were getting assignments, handing in work. It was no problem. I think probably all of the kids that were there were all A’s and B’s students and it didn’t affect them in a negative way. We did the same thing this year. We brought a slightly larger group and another coach and it has now become in our program an expectation that we will do this. Kids really want to go.
The funny thing is that it is really kind of miserable when you are there. I mean as a coach I had to really put on funny hats every day just to keep the morale up because I recognized that they are going to be dead tired. We all know about emotions and what not when you are tired. It is real easy to get upset. It was going to be very important to keep everybody positive and excited about what we were doing even though we were basically just swimming. Out of that, I think it was probably about 21 days we swam doubles or probably swam doubles 19 days and a single those other two days.
There are probably a lot of people wondering how much does Elizabeth train? She trains singles on a regular basis. She is a regular high school student and has been since I have been coaching her. She is a senior in high school this year. Her school starts at 7 AM. She lives 45 minutes from the pool. There is no possible way to have her swimming with me in the morning. We tried for about three or four months where I got a Y membership down by her about 5 minutes from her house and met her there every morning. Having to start school at 7 AM she still had to get up earlier than I wanted her to be getting up. The Y had a swim team or has a swim team. They felt that if she was going to swim she should just join their team so I couldn’t stand there on the deck and coach her. I had to get in the water and swim with her. I have not swum since my last day of swimming in college. I hated it. She loved it. I don’t think she got that much out of it because she would just splash me and swim away meanwhile my legs were completely shot. I had no authority with her in the water. The one benefit was that every day when we got to practice in the afternoon of course everyone else wanted to know how it went. I would tell everyone that I was beating her and that would piss her off.
She swims basically 2 hours and 15 minutes Monday through Friday. She does an hour of dry land Monday through Friday before that. She would swim more in the afternoon, but we do not have the pool availability. She does dry land for 45 minutes to an hour every day and Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday would lift for about an hour. The lifting we brought on a year before the Olympic Trials basically. The Saturdays will be anywhere from three to four hours in the pool and then an hour of dry land. If it is three hours in the pool, it is two hours of dry land. If it is 4 hours in the pool, it is one hour of dry land. Sundays are anywhere from 2 and ½ hours to 3 and ½ hours in the pool and usually about 20-30 minutes of just kind of real routine ab work.
I talked to Sean Hutchinson about this and it is really interesting. I came from this kind of Chris Martin super tough training. I mean with Chris we trained 7 days a week, 4 mornings a week. On Wednesdays and Saturdays when we did a double they were 5 hour practices like Elizabeth does on Saturday and on Sundays when we now have 3 or 4 hour practices. Elizabeth is doing a lot but she is not doing anywhere near that much. One of the things that I have learned from her and some of my other elite swimmers that do not do doubles,
(but were still getting in about 70,000 yards a week) is they show up to practice in the afternoon happy, excited to be there. They are not walking in like this which is what I remember most of my swimming career. That is how I existed.
We do not get sick very often and this is obviously unique. Elizabeth has not missed a single day of practice for illness in the four years that I have coached her. That is incredible and she has really not missed a single day of practice for anything. She has probably a violin concert twice a year. When that happens I gave her a practice and she would swim at the Y on her own. I think she has had the sniffles once or twice so obviously she has a pretty unique immune system. She doesn’t even take vitamins any more with the kind of the scare of what could be contaminated and that nothing is guaranteed to be taken safely. She eats better now than she did, but the one thing that maybe has helped her stay so healthy is she drinks. This is actually not an exaggeration. She drinks a gallon of orange juice a day. It was a big concern on her mother’s part, when Elizabeth went to Beijing and Australia that she would have enough. This is funny, whenever we travel to a meet her suitcase is always too heavy so we have to pay extra for it or she just kind of looks cute and they let her put it through without paying. The reason it is so heavy is because it is filled with orange juice. Now, fortunately, I have been able to stop this from happening when we go to California or Florida because I tell her mom; I am pretty sure they have orange juice there, but just in case she always brings a couple with her anyway.
I think I have one other good story that I will share with you. This story that I will share with you probably many of you know. At the Santa Clara Grand Prix it was the first time she had the opportunity to put on the LZR. I am going to make a quick aside. I am not a fan of the suits by any stretch. I am giving you something that I kind of came to think of; we all have our own philosophies. We all feel a certain way about the suits and what not. I think many, many coaches out there did different things with them and did the right thing for their program and the right thing for their athletes. Now I looked at it as OK, these suits are out. At first I didn’t believe how they could be as fast as they were being marketed to be. I figured it was just marketing. Then, some times around the world started coming in and it started looking like okay, there is something to this. I have an athlete who is stubborn. She is a creature of habit. In Melbourne she refused to wear Nike’s top suit because she was comfortable with their next level suit. The other Nike athletes there made fun of her because she wouldn’t wear their top suit. She was comfortable in this other suit. So I recognized it – okay – this suit exists – it is legal – people are wearing it. It is better. I have got to get her comfortable in it. I have got to get her in it and I can’t get one. None of us could get one, but at certain meets you could have an opportunity to try these suits out. Probably more than anything at that time that was why we went to those meets. You know the Speedo people. I was a bulldog until Speedo would give me one of those suits for her to try on and wear and warm up. We were out there a couple of days early.
So anyway at Santa Clara she goes 4:36 in the 400 IM – Hello. No longer can I keep her and anyone else from thinking she is going to make the Olympic team so we kind of survived to that point. Went to Charlotte and swam great again but didn’t swim the 400 IM. I did this as kind of a psychological thing by not have her wear the Lazar in the backstroke. I thought OK, lets not show the world what you are going to do in this with that suit on. Let’s just go at it and have that be kind of the “shave” so to speak; that we used to kind of have. So anyway, we get to Trials.
We are out at Omaha a couple of days early. I am doing everything I can to not show any nervousness myself and just have fun. We got there four days early. The kids were having a stretching contest with Pablo who? They didn’t even know who Pablo Morales was. I had to tell them, but we just kept everything as light as possible. The approach was it doesn’t matter. Yeah, this is Olympic Trials it is just another swim meet. It is a big swim meet. It is a great swim meet. It is a fantastic venue. It is what we all love. It is the best of the best, but it is just another swim meet and whatever happens here number one, Elizabeth, no one can take away from you what you have already accomplished. It is yours you own it, no matter what happens you still went 4:36. That is still one of the best times ever in the world. We have done a great job. We, I, you, everyone in our program has done a phenomenal job. Whatever happens here, if you make the team, fantastic. If you don’t we are just going to go home and continue to do a great job.
Morning swim is the 400 IM. Now, I am a wreck. Basically, my mind is thinking she has been that 4:36. She should do something pretty incredible here. If she doesn’t it is my fault. She is a racer. She is going to dive in that pool and she is going to do what she was made to do. I had a month and a half to screw things up between Santa Clara and now so standing there watching the swim, am I O.K.? She is out in her best time in the 100 fly. That is one way to do this. Backstroke, she is 2 seconds under World Record Pace. I nearly threw up. I was sweating. I think I was crying. There was water coming out of my eyes and I was like, Oh my God! I had to sit down. I was about to pass out. You know the crowd was going nuts cheering for her. After the race she said, why were they making so much noise in the breaststroke? She was drinking Gatorade and I said, “because you were 2 seconds under World Record Pace at the 200.” She spit out her Gatorade. She had the same experience that I did. Fortunately she didn’t have it during the race. It was kind of bizarre because she was not nervous for the morning swim. I was because as far as I was concerned that was going to show whether or not I had done my job. I knew she was going to do her job.
To my surprise she was a wreck before the final. I was like; wait a second, I am the one that could have screwed this up. You are fine. Just do what you do. It really was her teammates that really helped her out. I won’t tell the story exactly because many will probably think it is inappropriate, but she was so nervous that she actually threw up five minutes before she was headed for the ready room. I was like, Oh my God everything has come to this and now we are throwing up. It was her teammates, one in particular, that actually made fun of her for throwing up which took her mind off of that. She started laughing and giggling. Ultimately if she is struggling, tell her she looks funny or whatever and she will give it right back to you and she is all set.
I do not know if I should show any more video or not. Is there anyone here that should tell me if I should? Yes? I think this is an ab routine. You know, there is so very little that is new and original out there. We were talking about this earlier. It is a combination of putting together different things that different people are doing. I think this is a great routine. I will share anything with anybody. I got this from the men’s CAL team when some of my boys came home. Elizabeth has really taken this to heart. She kind of owns this. I think this is straight out of the Barrowman book. We will do 25 – 30 of each of these exercises in a row. It takes 20-25 minutes and it has made a huge impact on her core. Right now, just because I wanted to film it she is in the office doing this whereas the rest of the team is doing the exact same thing out on the pool deck. These mats you can get them at Home Depot or any of the BJ’s or Costco. They are the cheapest, best mats that I have found. The break is just whatever movement that the partner has to go to get to the next exercise. Yeah, I wouldn’t even call it rest. I mean they should be moving quickly from exercise to exercise. No, they do a certain number. Right now we are getting going so they are probably doing 15 reps at home right now. We do a lot of these planks whether it is on the ball or not, lifting up a leg, putting a leg out to the side. You know, you could really make it tough and lift the opposite arm. I don’t think I have a video of her doing that. That is another one that you really don’t want to do on a hard surface.
This looks awful, but it is because she is pulling a 5 gallon bucket. Dave said our pool was…I don’t think our pool is that bad. It is an 8 lane, 25 yard. I like it. It is not a nice outdoor, sunny, 50 meter. That would be nice, but…
One of the things with training short course with the focus on long course is we do a lot of broken 225’s. Someone told me 225 yards is about, I think it is about 5 meters longer than 200 meters. So again with that kind of Nelson Diebel mentality we say, OK, if in practice you can do a broken 225 and you can do it in 2:06 seconds. Add it up, the three 75’s. Okay, you get a little rest, you get more turns, you are not in a suit, you are in training. It is longer than 200 meters. It is three 75’s with the bucket and two 100’s recovery; pull and then drill and then three 75’s – prime stroke race – no bucket. So there is our broken 225. I like doing it right after the bucket. So finishing up with the buckets, they would do two 100’s recovery and now they are going to go three 75’s. What I think is cool here is that I actually got a boy swimming next to her. They are on the three 75’s and she is going 42’s on these 75’s which is pretty good for a girl in practice I would say and she is getting beat. I think that is awesome. Just prior to the Olympic Trials her best time added up for the three 75’s short course was 2:08. She ended up going 2:06.9 at Olympic Trials so I thought there was a pretty good connection there. I think she probably could have gone 2:08 without the suit and 2:06 with the suit. I think it was a very good measure for her. Leading up to Worlds she was going 2:03’s in this same set, thus I thought she could have gone faster at Worlds. Thank you very much. If there are questions feel free to ask me later.