Easy Gain/Hard Gain by Eddie Reese (2003)


The speaker, coach Ed Reese, doesn’t need a major introduction. Everybody knows the success he has had throughout his entire career – in the last 25 years at the University of Texas he has now won 23 consecutive conference titles. He has won 9 national titles.  He is the men’s head Olympic coach for 2004 and I believe that is his fifth coaching staff. Before he coached at Texas he coached Auburn University and before that he was coaching as an assistant at the University of Florida. Now what many of you probably don’t know is that he was also a swimmer at the University of Florida and what I found out last night in a conversation with our historian in swimming, Peter Daland, was that in 1963, 40 years ago, Coach Ed Reese swam the 400 IM at Nationals and tied for 10th place. Now that is pretty good to begin with, but what is amazing is he tied a young swimmer from SMU by the name of Richard Quick. So I will be the first to say that I am willing to put up $5. for a rematch, alright?


Eddie Reese:

I have so much ammunition now that I may never get to my talk. The good thing is that they never put a topic down of what I had to speak about and that 400 IM brings up some interesting thoughts because I have been swimming and Richard hasn’t.  So I would like to go now and I think all of you ought to put up $5.00 and none of it goes to charity.  Excuse me Richard?  Right after this talk?  We will not tell you the time, but we do know that there are a number of 12 year old girls out there that can beat us, very handily.


I do want to spend about five minutes – pretend Johnny Skinner asked me the same question he asked Bill Sweetenham at the end of his talk today about yards and short course versus long course and you needed to know everything we spout from up here, particularly in the area of human achievement or human exercise.  Most of it is theoretical. There are some facts, but we don’t know whether long course or short course is best. Bill likes his way and has said it many times and I believe you got to have both. In 1998 I was coaching three guys in college that were pretty good swimmers.  They were going 1:51 + for 200 meters freestyle.  This was in the summer. We were doing six long course workouts a week and I was disappointed in the way we were swimming because I think they had been 1:52+ coming to school and that is not the kind of improvement I am interested in.  So I called my short answer brother; he gives me short answers and I said, well, what do I need to do.  He said 6 long course workouts a week are too many so go to three or four. I did and two years later they all went 1:48 200 meters free and made the Olympic team. Now I also know had they kept swimming long course maybe they would have gone 1:47, but there is a balance out there.


There are a number of people that don’t get to train long course.  The more notable ones is Michael Phelps.  He doesn’t do a whole lot of long course – especially during the winter. He may be one of the geniuses – physical geniuses that can get by with out doing any. Mike Barrowman was a big short course trainer. I don’t want to spend much time on this but I just – he told us to keep doing what we are doing and for the most part, except for what I am going to tell you to do, we need to keep doing what we were doing.  Alright now, you need to be getting the joke.


My choice for a topic for this is Easy Gain/Hard Gain and it all has to do with improvement. That is all I care about – find a way to make that swimmer faster and as I laughingly say, even if it kills them and with the age group I coach, there are not many ways to get them to go faster. It is like if you had a triangle on your note pad.  Start at the bottom, draw a base and draw two lines to a point and if you look at a swimmers career, just starting at the base of that triangle, anything you give them will work. It may not be right, but it will make them faster.


Like, if none of you people – sorry – I sound like I am talking to my college group, if none of you, lets say the people that are not swimmers in this group or haven’t been training in the last few years, if you were to train Monday and go ten 50s on 2 minutes as fast as you can – do that Wednesday and Friday for three weeks you would get considerably better.  Somewhere out there you are going to level off and stop. It is not far, probably five weeks just on a guess. So that was a good way to make you faster, but it didn’t take you to where you might be able to go.


I get college swimmers, high school swimmers that come to college, come out of programs and I like these guys. They come out of one a day programs, they come out of 4,000 a practice programs and it may be purely pool time or whatever time.  I know there is a swimmer I am recruiting that trains four practices a week and is given the keys to go in if he wants to go in more. That is a tough situation but he makes it work.


So this has been my theme for about 15 years.  Almost every time I talk to this group I talk about how to fetch your swimmer up to be the best they can be. We don’t know how to do that but we know some basic things about that and watching the success Michael Phelps has.  He has given me permission to train my guys more. He trains 11 or 12 times a week and he is the best so how are you going to beat him?  In a boat maybe, about the only option. You cannot out train him and he is hungry for everything he can learn and he has done some phenomenal things in practice and I will get to that.


I am not here to psych you up and send you out with steam coming out of your ears about coaching. The level of coach that you reach – is the level of coach you are on your worst day because that is how the parents are going to judge you. You can be 99 days perfect and one day off and that is how you get looked at.  To make that one mistake and if you psych somebody up like a football team or a basketball team that plays every weekend or twice a week, there is no physiological or psychological way you can psych someone up that much. Doc Councilman wrote about that, about de-adrenalization in the 50s – talking about going race pace or all out swimming every day and coming to dual meets on the week end and getting up for dual meets. They get so tired and so worn out the only way you can fix them is give them a month off and then start them back training and we don’t do that any more so that is why I am not interested in psyching you out.


I am going to try to give you a high level to live at, to work at. I discussed this talk with some of the coaches back at home and one of them said why do you need to give this talk and I said, deep down we have got to all aim for the best the swimmer can be. In other words, if you are coaching a swimmer and they are swimming for you and you are doing twenty 50s three times a week and doing a 2,000 warm-up before that and swimming easy on the other days they are going to go pretty fast at that time of their life, at that time of their career. But what I want to do is find a way or get someone other than me or anybody USA swimming or anybody to give us some principles to go by at that time.


What should a 14 year old be doing?  Well, you got too many options. A 14 year old that is just starting, or one that has been in the program for three years – there are just almost too many ways to go. But if you can get your kids to a certain level and, as I was told last night, I am going to lose swimmers that way you know and that has got to be hard.


My daughter coaches and she lost her first swimmers and you know, it is like a divorce.  First, there is hurt, then there is anger and then you reach that understanding level and as long as you are making the best choice for the swimmer in their career because when you pass them on to somebody else. You pass them on to me, and in the first year they do not do well that is my fault and it is your fault because they were not prepared for my program and as I have not done very well, I have not taken that into account.


My freshmen come in and they do the strength program with everybody else and if my strength program is any good, that is not going to work. Its like you don’t throw somebody in the first year they are swimming – you don’t throw them into a program like that for people that have been on your team for three or four years. That is not the best way for them to progress.  Sure, it takes us to figure it out along the way and change things and so I am trying to do that.


Alright, the question was, why do I need to give this talk and then how has this talk helped and I wasn’t sure that it had helped very much, but I know somebody like Michael Phelps does help because of his work ethic and here is a guy that until two years ago was 15:34 for 1500 meters long course.  He swims a mile every year.  He went 15 minutes for yards unshaved in December or January. He has been 46:30 for 5,000 yards freestyle.  That is 55.8 per hundred for 50 times in a row and as I would tell my swimmers it is 14 seconds a lap. I can do that. But to do them in a row is special. It goes beyond anaerobic – definitely beyond anaerobic, but beyond aerobic. It goes to the neuromuscular system. We don’t talk about that enough, maybe don’t know enough about it. I definitely don’t.


One thing, I ran around at the US nationals talking about because I would watch Michael Phelps swim at the world championships and then watch him come back two weeks later second shave in taper and it bothered him. He was not as good as he could of, would of, should of, but he was still amazing. And he lives on his legs. My brother made the observation that Michael Phelps kicks hard most of the race, at the end of the race he kicks harder. Ten 100 yard flutter kicks on a board on 1:10. I got guys that cannot swim that. No that is not funny.  He holds 1:05 or 1:06 and goes a minute on the last one. Look at the range he swims, from the 100 to the 400 frees – all strokes and watch out for breaststroke next year – that is getting better.  Both IMs and I really believe that until somebody is 15 or 16 they are a miler, they are a 400 IMer.


A lot of times we make the judgment on somebody that is age 12 because they are bigger or stronger or they have swum more yards than everybody else in the area and they are winning the fifty and the hundred, we decide they are a sprinter and treat them like one. Chances are, they are not one and we have cut that career – what we would like to have a steady line up or a line down if you look at time improvement. We have cut that career off, not off but we have smoothed it out and so some time I am going to get to telling you how to do that.


I went to a clinic a couple of years ago where they asked how many coaches are using the new method of coaching? So I didn’t put my hand up because I didn’t know what it was. And then they asked how many coaches are using the old method of coaching and John and I were both at this same clinic and we were doing the old method and most everybody else was doing the new method. But that is not the question – how many of you are happy with the way your swimmers are swimming?  That is the question. And I know the people in that room, and who they are coaching, and our last two years in the high school state meet had been weaker than normal, and you have to look at that stuff.


If you are doing – if your theory – you know we all start with a theory at the beginning of the year. If you are a good coach one out of five theories work. If you are a little less lucky, one out of 10 works. We base our theory on experience and whatever knowledge we got. Whatever you hear in places like this, but the question is, are your swimmers swimming like you want them to swim? I was talking to a coach has got some very, very good swimmers and I said but they are young and you know what, they don’t swim good miles. Even if it is not an event for them. They are 15 and under, you are exactly right and I have got to fix that. There are a lot of good sprinters in our country that did not start out as sprinters.


We all know Anthony Irvin’s story; great talent, American record holder in the 100 meter freestyle at 48:3. You know what the first standard he made for us nationals?  200 yard freestyle 1:38.7 and I always brag about Tom Jaeger and I used to say the first standard he made was the JO mile and I found out I have been lying all these years.  It was the 200 back, but he made the JO mile the next day so there is more to this than to hoping to find an easy way.


Our society is such that we have done a lot of great things, but we keep pushing to find how much we can stretch the bubble. You know where we find out how much we can stretch it?  When we go too far or break it and that’s by playing it safe for us in coaching or playing to the parents for us in coaching.


I get asked you know, how do you be a good coach, how do year old get to go on international trips?  The first thing I tell them you take yourself out of the equation. Take yourself out of that kid’s equation – not what you put into it, but you take your personal feelings. How many of us have said, “you know that swim embarrassed me,” to a swimmer?  When my swimmers do not swim well, the first place I look is at me. That is the only way I get better. If you always look at the swimmer then nothing you are doing is wrong and if one out 10 or one out of 5 theories are correct, we are not right all the time.  So the real question is where do you want your swimmers to end up in their swimming career?  Do you want them to end up being real fast at age 12 or 14 or pretty fast at that time and continue to improve?


You know as well, I talk about fun a lot, having fun and I finish my email to some people you know, work hard and have fun. But there is no fun like going fast and you are in charge of that. So what does it mean to end up, get your swimmers where you want them in the swimming world?  Win all the time?  It doesn’t happen. It doesn’t matter who you are, somebody is coming after you. So one of the all the time items is to compete well or to race.


I read a book that was suggested to me by Rich Thornton a number of years ago about competitive spirit all that kind of stuff.  And the book leaned to the side that it is genetic and I am an environmentalist, I think that kind of stuff can be learned and dealt with. I am a grandfather and got a 7 year old great swimmer coming up – the sad part is that he hits a baseball and a golf ball a lot better than he should. He is taking gymnastics and he loves to swing on bars you know, like horizontal ladders and the horizontal bar – he just loves to jump from here.  You know if there was a bar up there he would try to make it from here to swing on it.  And he was showing me one day when the bar was a little hot and tore you know the gripping callus here so we had to bandage it and everything and he had gymnastics two days later. He went in bandaged and the first time he got on the bars it hurt him so he went over and asked his mom, he said – mom it is hurting.  She said well go on back in there you will be alright and that is what we have got to do. You have to send them back in there and I know anybody that has kids there is no pain like your children’s pain or our wife’s pain or your husband’s pain our your grandchildren’s pain.  But that is the only way that they can learn that they can go through that pain or live with that pain.


I have a couple of key items that my swimming team complains to me about and I do it purposely.  I do not buy them as much equipment as our women’s team gets because we cant get enough.  We can get too much so we look a little raggedy and they haven’t been handed anything yet and they are going to have to earn it all and they are complaining.  But I don’t want them comfortable. If you are comfortable, you’re not doing anything. If you are sitting in front of a TV set with a remote, unless you are watching the world championships or Thelma somebody – the Japanese breaststroker or Michael Phelps or Aaron Peirsol or somebody like that, you are relaxing and that may be a plus.  But you are not moving forward so how can you get get them in position?  By bringing them up right.


This is the Eddie Reese theory for 12 and unders.  Are you ready?  We got enough time and when I was an assistant at the University of Florida I coached USA or AAU in the summer because nobody did anything in the winter at that time.  And it is funny when I coached college I would get so upset.  I would tell my wife I am just going to coach AAU and coach them in the summer. I would tell my wife I am just going to coach college from now on so – but I love that group.


When I was at Auburn in the summer we didn’t have a long course pool so they all went to swim with bill Sweetenham – that’s a joke. That would have helped them there is no doubt. Instead they went to swim with Randy – some of them, and that helped them too – they liked me a lot better when the got back. And I would coach the US team in Auburn and would take the 12 and unders. I did all kinds of personal studies. We had one group do body weight exercises 10 and unders. Another group – same age group do light weights. Safe exercises and both groups got significantly better because they did something with strength.


But in the 50s and 60s and 70s and 80s there was a magazine out thee called the Research Quarterly. It had every study ever done known to man or woman and Doc was all over that place. And for to get out of doing anything extra for my masters I did a personal study on this stuff.  I went back and looked at swimming only versus groups that swam and did anything – run, climb a rope, do push ups, do pull ups, do weight training. And the group that swims and exercises improved more, improves over a longer period of time. We know that swimming, if that is all you do it is going to make you weaker so pretty much everybody does some strength exercise. Does it look like I can just go in any direction I want? You know I cant do that at home when I talk to my wife.


Alright, so bringing them up right and I have started with 7 and unders. You have got to be safe and you got to have fun and there is a common theme that runs through all of them. Dry land just run and play. There all kinds of things out there you can do. We got a group of jumping exercises – we got five guys at the University of Texas that are pro track athletes that all run under ten seconds so we are doing their jumping exercises and I still have guys that can’t run under 15 for 100 meters.


A lot of times the great athlete will make the exercise look right or worse than that, makes his stroke look right. That has happened before in our country and it will happen again. Just get them to run and play, run and jump for distance whether it is a one foot take off or two foot take off. The jumps you can do or you can start them like this, just have them  step and jump by lifting their legs and then jump off the other leg.


My first job was teaching physical education in the elementary schools, Roswell, New Mexico. The aliens were not a big thing then. I never heard about them. They just got famous later, maybe it was because of me,  But I started a program there that I would get there an hour before school and I had circles on the wall, squares on the wall and I made them throw a ball at the wall.  Their best hand and their worst hand. See most of you can throw with one arm, I can throw with both because I had to learn to play handball. I threw 300 times a day, left handed four days a month for four months. I am one of those kind of people. I have got to do something for six months before I can get to be average at it, but you can all learn to throw left handed or right handed depending on which is your dominant arm. We are a product of what we do, so we threw right handed, we threw left handed. We kicked left footed, right footed. I made them throw and catch Frisbees. We kicked soccer balls. We kicked footballs. We threw nerf balls. We threw wiffle balls, teaching them to throw curves early and pretty soon almost the whole school was there an hour early because it was fun and I am a firm believer that everybody – the more well rounded you are the better off you are.


There was an article somewhere about ten or twelve years ago about tennis. Germany and Sweden plays big time 14 and under, 16 and under international tennis tournament and they catch very good records and they had 65% injury. They were playing 90% tennis, not much of anything else. They decided to – you had a choice – tennis was going to 40% and three other activities were coming to 20; soccer was one of them.  If you ever remember Boris Becker – he was very good at soccer and they think that is why he moved on. If you ever watch any of the centers in the NBA – ………., Sampson some of those guys, the guys that can really move, stop and go? They played soccer growing up and I know soccer is our burden –keeping kids in the program.


I have another theory on that.  We are our own burden, but just stopping and going so they took 20% and it had to be strength training, swimming, soccer, basketball you know, just something to round them up and I think that is important.  And my goal when I retire and I didn’t mean to say that word in public because it is not eminent, but when I retire I don’t want to retire I am going to change jobs and I want to coach 12 and unders.


If I could do the best things for my college swimmers right now I would put them in gymnastics, of course with those long limbs they would not be good and they would get hurt so I wouldn’t do that. There are some I might do that, I want them hurt. Sometimes you just have to do something to get them back.  Well, we are going to do a back dive off the 3 meter and we do that and I applaud sometimes.  You know that saying – revenge is mine sayeth the Lord.


7 and unders run and play, run and jump for distance, stop and go, different tag games where it is given time limits – 30 seconds or I would have been it all my life because I am you know, well I lost a step I have to stop. If I lose a step I am stopped.  Safety first. No two hand support on parallel bars. The sternum and the clavicle are not ready for that. You have to be careful with young kids.


Horizontal ladders. I love them. We are doing them now. My college guys used to walk them holding 90 degrees. We got another exercise that we are doing now and they think I am the best for figuring this one out. I am not going to tell you because I don’t know if it is worth a darn and I hate to do that. I hate to tell you something and you think it might work and it doesn’t work because I will decide quickly if it works or not and get them off of it, but right now they are complaining a lot so I know its good for them.


Gymnastics for 7 and under – if you are doing it – keep it simple. Tumbling on a mat, back bend, hand stands against the wall. Water work, learn to kick.


I was looking for the next step up and the tendency in swimming.  Have we reached a plateau as a group that something is going to come along and move us along?  Personally I thought it was for your distance swimmers if you were going to do anaerobics that day. Warm them up and do anaerobic, then do the long stuff, just because they already have lactate and whatever exercise remnants they got in their body. They already have it in there and if the long swimming is important and we tried that for a couple of years, and once again they don’t like it, so I think it is good.


I have got to go by more than that, but kicking the way – you got Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, van den Hoogenband, I don’t know the girls very well, especially their times in kicking.  Just look at the people that are winning races. Look at the breaststroke technique that wins out there.  There is not anybody swimming breaststroke like this that is winning because that doesn’t work.  Whew – I took a stand on that. I have been dodging that for about two years.  Look at what the best people do. Now I don’t know if they get to be the best because of genetics or because their stroke is so good all the other strokes fall by the wayside – it could be either way.


It is just like backstrokers – 12 and unders, a lot of them are ranked nationally that go in with their hand going in flat on the back of their hand or behind their head. At Olympic trials, Olympics, there is nobody doing that – they are all going in behind the shoulder, little finger first. The basic stroke mechanics eliminate some swimmers so you teach your 7 and unders to kick and that is what they are going to be best at anyway.


Work on the dive, but only in deep water. Stroke work with fins – you get some stability and forward movement. I don’t think you need to rely on them all the time, but you got to do that. Play in the water. Tag, put fins on and kick only. Tricks, summer salts, back circles, anything they can do.


I know there are some teams that will not allow their swimmers to get out of the water by sitting on the side first. They press to their feet. That is one of my goals by the way.  I press to the second rung of the ladder. My success at the Masters Nationals in Phoenix was every lane I got in had a ladder in it so I could get out using the ladder. That was very important to me.


Training for a 7 and under. I think you need to do a five or ten minute swim once or twice a week. Swim or kick or both, combination thereof. Tell them to swim 5 minutes any stroke they want or swim them all and then get on a kickboard or lay on their back. Usually the first kick they get …… is flat on their back with their hands at their sides, just look at the sky and most of them can float. Do something continuous or do 50 swim, 25 kick continuous, 5 minute swim, 5 minute kick and of course you have to do some sprinting – they love that – you have to do relays – that is fun and you do some repeats and you need to be consistent, you cant fall for anything and everything that comes along.


10 and unders – well I got to tell you – we started something a couple of years ago, that depending on their distance, lets say middle distance and distance people, after three weeks of training we go a 3,000 free. The next we go a 3,000 something. It can be consecutive 200 IMs, it can be 100, 200, 300, a 400 IM three times – it can be – I have got other ways that they do IMs with stroke drills in there or it can be 75 free, 25 fly. It can be all backstroke, there is no pressure on that, but to do it moderately hard for them, whoever that individual is and I am usually the judge of that so that is the second week of that. The next week we go four. The next week repeat the four. The next week we go five.  The next week we repeat the five and then the middle distance guys are begging out because they have all got ADD and they cannot keep their attention going much longer than that. The distance men go to six. I am not sure, this is purely a theory, that long swimming is important, but I will pass on my group.


10 and unders dry land – running, distance sprint, changing speeds, relay races where they run out and get something and come back, stopping and going. I like to have them running along and you got to be pretty far along with your group before you do this, but to just run along in the grass of course and do a diving front roll and come up running.


It reminds me of a story, I was running with one of my daughters about April of 2000 and we were running. It was a little dark and I run on the sidewalk. Run is a lie, jog is a better word and they had a manhole cover and it was raised and I hit it.  We are down where we always see the snakes alright and so I knew I was going to fall so I aimed to the right, checked the ground to make sure there were no snakes like I could have done something – did a forward roll and came up running next to her and she said how did you do that and I said I used to do that when I was in New Mexico, but it is just something to give them, it is something extra.


Horizontal ladder for 10 and unders, they can walk the length, hang straight arm, 90% of the population cannot hold for one minute. Have you seen any of the dehumanization TV shows that they got going on now?  You know what I mean. Well they have had some hanging things on there and I have seen real strong guys hanging and some little girl still up there after the big guy falls, but I remembered that when I was in Roswell, New Mexico – you remember the president’s physical fitness test –you do a pull up and you hold for as long as you can hold your chin over the bar, feet not touching the ground and the best person we had was a 4th grade girl who did it for like two and a half minutes. I could do it for about 8 seconds .


We do push ups for a minute and they are supposed to go as many push ups as they can go in a minute. They get to where they cannot go, they drop to their knees and the good part about that is that they can keep going. The bad part about that is they can keep going because it really hurts. It is not a strength item for sprinters, but for a sprinter that has never done anything like that, it might be a strength item for them for 3-4 weeks, but it is not going to last.  It is endurance oriented.


It would be a strength item for me if I did push ups for a minute, although I do 5 mornings a week, I do a pushup for every year of my age, two crunches for every year of my age and I have decided to quit celebrating birthdays.


Pushups once again, good form. Keep the head – you know how most people do pushups – they go down – it looks like a chicken eating corn – don’t let them do them then, do them off their knees if they have to strain to do them. It is important for them to do good technique out of the water and in the water. Limit your number of pushups by time because I had at that school they came in – we also did pushups and sit ups – the elementary school in Roswell, New Mexico and I had five 6th grade guys on a push up test at the end of first semester do 200 push ups and we had just been doing like – they had gotten to where they would do like two sets of 40 and then two sets of 20 trying to do them in 15 seconds so you almost have to, if they have good form, year old limit the number they can do. They can do twenty in twenty seconds that is good or one for each year of their age. Of course I might suggest that might be a good policy for you and increase the number when they are ready to increase.


Sit ups – safety first and I am not a crunch man. Crunches hurt but you can do 300 crunches so it cannot be for strength can it?  You cant get strength doing 20-40 items – 20-40 repeats like that. That is not a strength item.  So we do real sit ups, somebody sits on their feet, knees up, feet next to the hips, hands behind the head and there is surgical tubing tied over here and they hold the surgical tubing and they sit up so they never overcome gravity per se and now it depends on who you are. I use the surgical tubing, but where I start it never stretches on me because it is easier that way. Some of the guys go across the room and can do it, but that is not the place to start, because we do it your group does not have to do that. They just need to do sit ups. If they cannot do them have the person holding their feet take an arm and  pull them up and then have them take four seconds to go back down.


You remember the reason we quit doing those sit ups – because of back problems – do you know what groups get tested mostly in this country?  Groups that have never exercised. That is why – and you will have back problems if you have never done anything and you try that. And I love this – if struggling occurs on these sit-ups let them throw their arms – let them throw their arms. I am interested in the full motion of the exercise and it is something that they can get good at quickly and a lot of people aren’t good at at this moment.


Crunches, knees up – you know how to do that. I have still got safety down here – no two arm supports for ______.  Water work:  10-20 minutes straight swim or kick.  Am I stuck on this? I really don’t believe this is a waste of time. I will know after this year. They will do more timed sets – eight 50s on two minutes. Six 75s on three, twelve 25s on one.


Stroke work and you noticed, I didn’t talk much about stroke work for 7 and unders. I have worked on technique for a lot of years. Every year the first three weeks of my college season I try to teach them what I want them to do or actually I tell them what I want them to know because they are not going to do it and then I stay with them – stay after them the rest of the year, but I have done that for a lot of years. It is boring and I have said it before, but it is basic to your swimmers success.  If we do the right things, training, they have good strokes they will reach 90% of their physical potential. If you leave out good technique they will reach 90% of that 90%. It takes them down to 81%. That is why we love swimming. Some people don’t get their stokes right and somebody that does and works hard can beat them. It is a blue collar sport for you and your swimmers.


Drills: you can do drills timed. You can do them for distance, but you have to do more stroke work on your drills than you do just with a regular stroke. If they are not doing the drills right you are multiplying their problems when the do the stroke. When we work on stroke we will work half laps:  25 yard pool – half laps in 25 – I think that is the best distance for stroke work. If you are going to work on it at a fast speed because if I am doing freestyle I can look good going slow – real good. No challenges – that is in my own mind, but people look better going slow because when you go fast then you get into some of the physical values working on physical forces working on your arms and the arms are going to swing out some if they are not careful so I try to do most of my work at a fast speed unless I have to take somebody back and just drill them the right way.


Everyone is a distance freestyler IMer. That is why I do the longer swims.


14 and unders – dry land – lower body running, jumping, lunges. If I could give you two things to do on land I would have you go – 30 minute walk – now some of you I know exercise at a much higher level. If you are not exercising take  a 30 minute walk and during that time do some lunges. Lunges are the best thing going for normal people, younger swimmers.


My swimmers – they are doing them with 60 pounds in each hand now. That doesn’t mean you should do that but that is the only way they can make it a strength item. They cannot increase their strength by doing them with no weight.


Hops – two footed hops. I saw a film a long time ago about a guy from England that was a weight lifter and every step he came to he hopped up – two footed hop up. You know he squat hopped up. You noticed I am not going down in that position. I know in the last couple years of Mike Barrowman’s career- he did that also. You know what that does? That raises the level that you live at.  He went from this level of normal everyday fitness to this level. That became a zero level so he could move from there and we can do that – your swimmers can do that.


The work for the core for 14 and under: crunches, sit-ups, knees always up. You can do sit-ups with a twist, single leg lift while doing sit-ups, double leg lifts while doing sit-ups.  One year at the university of texas we got some straps and hung them over the edge of our facility and we had two holes – two circles in the straps and the swimmers would go into a handstand and we would put their feet through there and the would bend their knees slightly and they would do vertical sit-ups and one of the guys – he had a tendency to rub and it broke and he fell on his head. Well he is a doctor now and he is looking forward to operating on me he said so we haven’t done that since then but you can do that. You can do it on a horizontal bar or something like that.


It is not where you start. If you can’t do 80 or 100 sit-ups in two minutes you don’t put anybody in that situation. For the upper body push-ups, combine regular push-ups which is on your toes with your back straight with halves, push-ups and clapping their hands, push-ups slapping their chest and the goal we have to do a push-up and do a 360. We do it on mats because all we are at about 210, but it is fun. I get them back in some ways that they think are workouts.


Gymnastics, once again – safely.


Rope climb. I love to rope climb. You will have people that have a problem right in here initially – that is because when they come down they are letting it jerk.  We climb up. We got some guys that go up hands only. We got some guys that go up hands and feet. We got some guys go up and we have one rule and that is don’t fall because nobody is going to catch them and always climb down – no sliding.


Always spot – be safe. Weights for this age group – first choice is don’t – that is my choice. Set standards for moving onto the weights.  30 or 40 good push-ups in a minute, 80 to 100 sit-ups in two minutes. This is 13, 14, 15.  Five day pull-ups 9-12 dips something like that, but otherwise they do not need to go in the weight room.


The weight room is not a panacea. It is just a step along the way. Don’t get to it too soon. There are some distance swimmers I have got who will never get to the weight room, but I put them in there just for psychological reasons, but they are doing a lot of repetitions. They are not excited about it yet. Use light weight.  Back when I was at Auburn and I took the two 10 and under groups and did push-ups and sit-ups and pull-ups; most of them couldn’t do pull-ups – they would just stand on a chair and take four seconds to let themselves down. They would do that 4-5 times and in two weeks the could all do pull-ups.


I learned that from my wife. She was 35 year old, had never done a pull-up and so she did two sets of 8 like that for two weeks and got to where she could do three pull-ups so I signed her up for the rest of our marriage. I talk real brave because she is not here.


But I didn’t give you the results of our study. I decided then that I didn’t want to use weights for little kids because I had to be all over them because they want to see how much they can do. That is the American way – if somebody starts a running program – what do they want to do? They want to run five miles the first day and sprint in and then they wonder why they hurt so much – that is the American way – it is not bad it is just too much. It is better to work into things gradually.


Water training 13-14:  20-30 minute swim – maybe more and kick or kick – throw kicks in there. It is a great way to do a kick set – a long kick set is to go – this is going to sound like a great way – 500 free on an interval, lets say it is seven minutes or whatever is easy intervals – say 730 then you go 400 free, 100 kick on 730.  300 free, 200 kick on 730 and so forth – it gets a little more difficult. That is not a straight swim. That just – some of the fun my guys have already experienced, voluntarily – I mean – voluntarily for sure.


More intensity work; swimming and kicking. Fast hundreds, 75s, 50s, 25s and you always have your exception. You have got your Arron Piersol at age 14 is ranked in the world in the backstroke – something like that then you got – you don’t treat them like a 14 year old, but you know it is not about – it is about getting them to go fast, but it is more about everybody else.


A lot of times your great swimmers can make your program look real good and you are not doing anything for the other guys or girls and that is where you measure, not from the person that is out front, but I do – Bill’s point is you raise everybody’s level if you stress the most talented person in your workout.


You get into timed sets, personal goals – year old can do that at 11-12 also. Eight 100s on 3, twelve 50s on 2 – you know about that. Too many variations to go through but it is a good way to mark individual improvement.  Distance oriented repeats come to play more at that age group.  6-15 100s with twenty seconds rest.


I always thought aerobic ability was gained by swimming long and so we have got some genius physiologists in our building and I just – when I first got there we would go out to eat about once every two months and we just kind of dropped each other and so I started doing that again because I always have to pay and they told me that the best way to get aerobic ability is to increase the stroke volume of the heart. Easier at 12 and under than it is at 20 and over but the way you do that is by swimming them a distance with a rest interval that allows the distances – they can go fast enough to get the greatest possible contraction and expansion of the heart. So it is usually 100s with about 15 or 20 seconds rest – pretty hard and I don’t know how many.


That is the pure, what works, that is how it works physiologically – how you get there I am not sure.  Long swim free every two weeks, does not have to be timed.  Shouldn’t be timed every time.  We try to swim it by thirds or fourths and try to back out. I have got the worst back halfing team in America. We spend most of our time front ¾ and then trying to catch a ride on the way in.


You have the greatest opportunity of anybody you know that doesn’t coach because that you work with people and you can give to those people, you can help those people. I read something twenty years ago where the guy said – it came out of a fiction book. I am sure he quoted somebody important but I don’t remember those things he said, when you die the only thing you can take with you, cause you hear you cannot take anything with you – the only thing that you can take with you is that which you have given others.  So take yourself out of the equations, do the boring stuff and have fun.


I got some time to answer a few questions.


Q: How much yards do you swim younger kids?


A: You know younger children – if you are kicking on a board and you are 10 and under, how do you count that yards if it is taking them two minutes to do a hundred?  Ideally I think what you do in a workout is you carry a stop watch and however long they are sitting on the wall you start it. When they leave the wall you stop it. When they come back you start it. A stop watch that accumulates. Find out how much time you are not dong something because we pull with big tubes on and they are terrible at that. We do surgical tubing, holding them back. I have no clue about yards. If you have an hour use your hour, but I am not saying skip the 15 minute talk if you need to do that or the 15 minutes of relays at the end.


Some places yards are more important than others.


Q:  Yes, the question is, do you play with kids with all ages – at all ages?


A:  Do you enjoy playing? Sure you do. We all do. It would be a mistake to leave it out. it is not life or death. It is very important. Swimming is a part of life and it needs to be real good, but they need to have some fun along the way and going fast is the ultimate fun – there is no doubt, but I cannot get my guys to work six months in a row for that goal. You know what focus is?  That is an imaginary word somebody made up –nobody can focus. My guys can focus until supper tonight – maybe, but you don’t do it long-term.  Yes sir, I would have to know the swimmer but my tendency is if they ever want to do more I let them. When Josh Davis was in college he was like a dolphin. You couldn’t get him out of the water. He would finish at 5 o’clock and everybody else runs for the locker room and Josh is out working with somebody on something or swimming back and forth to work on something so you sit there and spend time with them. There is a time during your season you got to stop running because there is a period where it doesn’t – a certain amount will not help your swimming. It depends on how much your swimmers run. I think it is very important, especially age group where the main activity is the computer and they are not doing lunges while they are working on the computer.  Well luckily I have never heard that before.


Q:  The question had to do with swimmers that go back to the US club from college teams and say, I don’t need to do that any more.


A:  People that age always have a problem with the verbs “want” and “need.” It is, “I do not want to do that anymore, can I get away with that with you?”  That is all it is. I face it – they try that stuff on me, well we didn’t do this last year. They just try anything that is difficult – I think it is human nature. You just have to roll with the punches and when they turn their back sucker punch them.


Q:  Last question:  the question has to do with my recommendation of doing other activities other than swimming, push-ups, jumping, running, stopping, going, all that kind of stuff – it is not because they are not doing it, it is just because they need it and they need it because they are not doing it. That is time for me; well as you know there is a big push on to get more activity back into elementary school – more physical activity. you know we never had ADD when I was growing up – we had recess twice a day.  Thank you very much….





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