Eddie Reese on Swimming (2011)


Published


Introduction: Okay, it’s my honor to introduce someone who doesn’t really need an introduction. Everybody in the room I’m sure is aware of the next speaker’s accomplishments. He’s been at the University of Texas for 33 years and has a stellar record there. He has a stellar record with the United States Swimming. In my experience when you attend one of his talks, it’s always amusing. Very amusing, and very informational, very educational. So please join me in welcoming Coach Eddie Reese. [Applause]

Eddie Reese: Amusing! I like that. Actually, there are — if I were to introduce myself. I would say that he thinks he’s funny, so if you get an opportunity to laugh, do that. And I’m always trying to get better because this stuff doesn’t end. As my swimmers get better, what worked last year doesn’t work anymore. Somebody suggested as they saw me sitting outside writing down my talk. They said, you want to talk to them about preparing for a big talk. And I said, no, that probably wouldn’t do it. But sadly, I have a bad announcement for you; we’re going to have to cancel this talk. Because we have lights and air conditioning.

All kidding aside, Town and Country did a great job taking care of you guys and us. [Applause] If you see someone from there, thank them. I make it a point personally. And I have my team thank officials at meets because it is a thankless job. And they don’t get paid a whole lot. They get paid about what I get when I go on a national team trip. Somebody’s waving in the back.

Male speaker 2: I want you to and if in a case like this, we might try to have you and a bunch of tough guys here. Instead of a bunch of queers.
[Laughter] [Applause]

Eddie Reese: I wish I had a thought of that. [Laughter] But as you go through a meet, thank the officials. I left something out of my talk yesterday and it was probably good thing I did or this would be a 15 minute talk. I’ve discovered something lately. It’s called Extra. I have a camp and I’m not trying to sell you my camp. We worked real hard at it. We start signups for camp, December 1st. We have a 170 people per week for six weeks. We’re full by December 13th. So I’m definitely not trying to sell you my camp. But every Friday, I go in and I talk to the younger group an hour. The older group an hour, and I tell them, if we could clone you (and your parents have asked me not to do this). And you were to go home, and one of you were gonna do what you normally do when you go home. Go back to practice, do your dry land. And the other exact replica of you will go home and they’ll do their dry land and their swimming just like you would. And then when they’re watching TV, first commercial they do ten pushups. Second commercial you do twenty sit-ups. Third commercial you do ten jumps. Fourth commercial you rest. You do that for a thirty minute show. I tell them, I will guarantee you the group that does the extra will beat the other group. Now, there’s no way to prove that, but if they go home and they do the extra, they will be better. Then the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve, they had not done it, or they quit watching TV and both of those are good things.

Some examples of extra: Garrett Weber-Gale: he was struggling to the top of the — or close to the top of the sprinting world. Junior year in college he says, I’d really like to win the NCAAs. Win the hundred freestyle. Okay, my mind immediately says, uh-uh, but you never say that out loud. I said, well you got to do something extra, and I said, let’s talk about it, you tell me what you’re willing to do. And Garrett started doing 300 pushups every night. Just when he was studying. He started out doing fifteen or twenty in a row. And he was doing sets of fifty and sixty, and he won by hundredths of a second. Did that play a part? I don’t know. But he took the gamble, he went for the extra. Another guy who came out of high school at :22 (this is late eighties). :22 low, :53, :47 low, 1:03, 1:43.0, 2:03. Sadly, those are yards times. Now, they’re good meters times, real good.

Freshman year, I red-shirted him because he forgot one thing when he came to school, he forgot his body. Six feet, one half inch, 139. It seems I liked those kind of guys. I do. They make me look a lot better than I am. If you can get them to do the work and to trust you, miracles can happen. He came in after his freshman year, he went 20.8, 45.0, 1:40 flat. But I’d red-shirted him. Because we knew he wouldn’t make NCAA cuts. He came in and in the next year there was an Olympics. So he came in 86, and he had fifteen months. He said, I want to make an Olympic team. And I think back then I said, I would bet a house and one daughter on that. Of course, I’ve got two daughters and they want to know which one I was betting to determine the real value of the bet. [laughter] It’s all left to a personal interpretation.

I said, you got to fix that stroke, you got to do this and that with that stroke. You got to get — I mean he was probably up to 152. That time you got to weigh 160, you got to kick harder, you got to work harder, got to do everything better. Well, I wouldn’t be telling you this story if he didn’t make it. He made the Olympic team. He graduated at 19.2 and 42.3. And he was wearing one of those — I know you don’t know what this is — one of those small bathing suits. [laughter] And made two Olympic teams. And as I said yesterday, these athletes are all over this country, they are in your program.

And when I talk to my camp I tell them that I’ve got eighty guys in there. No, not that many, I’ve got eighty older swimmers. I tell them there are five of you that can make an Olympic team, minimum. There are thirty of you that can quality for NCAAs. We don’t know who they are but it may take extra. Well, Garrett and Shawn did extra and I ran into somebody in another sport. The kid just started running cross-country as a ninth grader. He ran in the morning, he’s fourth on his junior varsity team, alright? He ran in the morning, ran in the afternoon. Then he was a midfielder on the Lacrosse Team and he did a full Lacrosse workout. So he’s doing extra for both. He went from fourth on the junior varsity team to second in the district in one year. And he was voted the best midfielder in their league. He did extra. He’s got goals for this next year in Cross-Country. And they run three days a week most of the summer, he ran seven days a week. He had a program four days a week that a cross-country coach, a running coach, set up for him, that doesn’t live in his own city.

So he did three other days on his own. He swam forty minutes three days a week, did a stationary bike after that 40-minute swim for 40 minutes. The other 3 days, he did an hour and a half with a trainer. I call that extra. Because the rest of his team is doing three days a week. And he couldn’t get them to do this with him. But he would get some of them some of the time, nobody all the time. And he started his cross-country season. He’s running in a hundred degree heat, already within a half minute of his best. He’s a minute ahead of his best 5K time already. Within a half minute of his goal and he’s going to kill his goal. He did extra. Extra is alright and it can come in many ways.

For college, extra could be not going out during a weeknight. That’s my goal in life, is to get them not to do that. What do you know that I don’t know? [laughter] Alright, and I know its not happening. There are some people, it’s not their turn or their time to get it right. So you know what? You just keep trying. My wife has worked for 30 years with the homeless in Austin. In ‘94 she went to Calcutta, worked with Mother Teresa for two weeks, twice a day. And I’ve obviously, after 47 years of marriage, I’m almost trained. [laughter] And not trained well but trained as much as I can be trained. And the one thing I’ve learned, because when we first started doing this, she’s the lead on this, I just helped. Because everybody on the streets is either addicted to drugs or alcohol. And they’re also addicted to no responsibility. Which should be a bad thing. It’s kind of like college. [laughter] Weigh it both ways, forget I said that.

Well anyway, we got to know some of the street people and put them through detox. And after putting the same two or three people through detox, four to five times, She said, we’re not supposed to make them better, we’re just supposed to be there to help them when they need help. And so that’s what I do with swimmers. Because without swimming, a lot of these people would be a lot worse. I’ve got a guy that I don’t believe he can make the Olympic team. Even if he turned over a new leaf, so to speak. But he is really good. He is really good. And he just can’t walk the line, he walks a line that’s like wide as an airport. And it’s just not his turn, and so what do I do? Do I kick him off?

Its funny we had this — we have this kind of talk on my team. As a group and as individuals. So we have this talk like Thursday and Sunday. The first reading in our church service said that they used more biblical terms, I’ll use Eddie Reese terms. If someone is wayward and you don’t do anything about it. Or you don’t say anything about it, you are wrong also. But if they’re wayward, you try to do something about it. Then you’re right even if you don’t do anything about it. You know what? I think I can save everybody. Even though in the past that’s never happened. But I tell them I get paid for those guys. People like Brendon Hansen, Aaron Peirsol, I coached them for free. I get paid for the ones that keep me awake at night that I anguish over. I said before Jack was going to come in and talk about swimming and baseball. So I very subtly came in and talked about swimming and grandkids. The cross-country guy is one of my grandchildren. And unusual for a first child, he’s got second child characteristics. He tries harder. That’s credit to mom and dad. I tell my daughters, they both do a better job with their kids than I did with mine.

Now, I’m going to talk to you about something that’ll be a lot less fun. Because we do a terrible job of stroke work in this country. We’ve always got some people that have got great strokes, in spite of us. And I do believe it’s circle swimming. I talked a little yesterday about beginners. How you can take a beginner, not a college beginner but an 8 and under beginner. And their backstroke is perfect. And swimming circles, we start looking and reaching behind us. And circles mess up freestyle turns in the worst way, but we’ve got to do them. So you’ve got to spend more time on them to fix them. I’ve got some simple things that I want out of all the club swimmers. And college coaches have got to get on it. In my camp, the 12 and unders, 13 and unders, to a person, have real good strokes. We got a lot of repeats. They get to 14, 15, the strokes go away. Don’t let that happen. I’ve been coaching for — when it comes to working with stroke, a thousand years.

I want to tell you, I hate, hate it’s the wrong word, it is boring! As I said yesterday, I’ve got some guys I can tell they fixed it immediately. Of course, it’s going to go back. They’re going to go to their strongest habit. But at least they get a picture. And I’ve got some guys that I’ve talked to for four years. And sadly they’ve been too afraid to change. And if you ever think that it’s intimidating coaching good swimmers, it doesn’t matter. I can just speak for myself. I was scared to death when Aaron Peirsol came to Texas. How was I going to make him better? He already held a world record. I told him two things, I said when you come here — because I knew he was in a great program. But it was one that didn’t do long continuous swims. I told him, we were going to do that and he needed to get better at it. The other thing I asked is, hey, do you ever pull on lane line? He said, sometimes when I warm up. I said as good as you are, it will help me and the team if you don’t do that.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get it. You can ask and you may not get it. But that’s like not trying. So I’m going to go through the four strokes. I have simplified them for myself. And start with freestyle, and the first saying on freestyle — at one moment I was right, I was going to need this. For someone in freestyle, I’m not a straight aimer. So I have a lot of reasons for that. So when I like to tell them is that on freestyle when the hand comes out of the water, it points at the lane line next to them. So it’s right there, to where the lane line is. When it goes in the water in front, it goes in one foot from fullest extension give or take. And slides in and points at where you want to go. It doesn’t get on the midline. And when you pull through, it points at the bottom of the pool. And we’re getting good at this. None of this happens overnight.

I’m not a good person with equipment. Because I hate to take time to put equipment on. But we do use snorkels and we had a miler win the NCAA’s. And he was a — this kind of miler, he’s not that kind of miler anymore. Because everyday after practice, he goes ten minutes with a snorkel on. That’s after practice, that’s called extra, that’s all right. Don’t be afraid to give extra and to ask for extra. Backstroke, and this is pretty much the order we take them in. Save fly for the last week, so they’re a little fitter. Backstroke, hand comes out either palm down or thumb up. And it goes straight over the shoulder. And if they bend the wrist back here, it’ll cause them to — they are about to crack or break or bend. They must keep that straight, relaxed and straight. Straight over goes in perpendicular. There is no other way to do it. There is no other way to do it.

And you all say swimming’s got a picture of the French backstroker who tied for first in the world champs and he is the best in the world. When he puts his hand in right here, he’s right there. He’s pulling all the way from here, all the way from up here and getting water. And a lot of people, you get vector forces when you push out. But he pins that elbow, gets it down and right through. Don’t depend on my picture. Yeah, I can do it. I swim a lot. Two thousand’s a lot. [laughter] I try all this stuff. But what you do is you watch a World Championships, you watch the Olympics. Please go to Olympic Trials. Whether it’s two days or whatever, it’ll be like nothing you’ve ever seen.

US Nationals, and there’re maybe some strokes that vary but not many. Breaststroke gets a timing stroke. Pull out is really important. You know how to streamline? When I go to recruit, go to a club team to watch a practice, and I look for two things. If their team is streamlining and if ther’re fly kicking off the wall, every opportunity they have. They are, somebody’s coaching them. And that’s what you got to do. Fly kick will be my fifth stroke I get to. But I’m not a head-down breaststroker. When that came out, most of the people that did it swam hundreds. There’s always the exception. And they couldn’t do it two hundred because with your head down, you’ve got to do the work with your arms pulling them up. And I’m a firm believer now that arms are real important in breaststroke, got to be able to kick. But if you can keep your arms going, you can go fast.

Because what is swimming? Well, how do you go faster? Good stroke, fully efficient, move your arms faster and your legs faster, longer. That’s all there is to it. So I’m not a head-down breaststroker. And I’m trying to think if I recruit them, they better be good. But nobody on my team does it. But when you pull it’s out, back and down at the same time. So three-dimensional V or the bottom part of a heart. You don’t want to just take it to there. That’s all you do and I’m just pushing the water aside. So it’s out, back and down. And when you’re coming through, we want to put our hands at an angle. So you still feel the water, you just don’t give it up. Still feel the water and when we come through, we get our index fingers together but we can’t do that. If we do that, our elbows get up and out. And there’s less streamlining. Right here and then you push them out one inch under the surface of the water. Never let them recover over the surface, never like palm up. And you got people that can do that.

I’ll never forget John Nabor, you may not even know that name. John Nabor was 6′ 6”, he was 15:10 for the1650, held American world records. Won two gold medals in backstroke. He did a backstroke turn that hurt backstroke sprinting in this country for three to five years. And we always argue about it. But he was 6’6” and he could make any turn work. But he did the backstroke turn with his head out of the water. So he was pushing off through the water from surface down. The water didn’t follow him in. Just the laws of physics, that’s not the way you want to do it. We had two butterfliers at the NCAAs one year, go first and third, make turn right back. I look — I got in and tried that, I was real young back then. So I got in and tried it, and it’s much faster. But you can’t sink to push off. And when you push off, you must be deep enough that no waves on the first ten feet of your push off come off the head, the shoulders, the lower cheeks, or the feet.

Ideally, the best place to push off in any pool is midway between the top and the bottom. Alright, if it’s three-meter pool, can’t do it. It takes too long to get out and come up. So you push off level. And you want 18 to 22 inches over your back. If you’re younger, 15 to 18 inches, somewhere in there.

Okay, so its pull, breathe, as your head comes up, your feet come up. Because you’ve already broken your streamline and you might as well do it at the same time. And you kicked your hands back out. Breaststroke is the one stroke that to go your fastest, you cannot go all out. You must come off that red line a little bit. If you go real fast then you get into pulling and kicking at the same time. And that maybe as fast as you can go for 20, 25 yards but it doesn’t last.

Years ago, Tracy Caulkins, who is maybe the best woman swimmer ever; American records in every stroke. That’s — and in, I think early ’80s. 4:36 for 500 free. And she had one of those other suits on. That’s amazing! That’s really good. But she was in a World Championship Trials and “” was her coach. And he was trying to get her to come up real high and use momentum or the gravity as she fell. And transfer that forward. Well, that didn’t work very well in the water but she won anyway. And everybody started copying that. And of course the next year, she knew it didn’t work. Paul knew it didn’t work. They got off of it. And so we had 20 percent of our country still doing that stuff. The great athletes can make things work that don’t work.

Butterfly, when we do butterfly we do one arm. And when you do one arm, when our camp does one arm they point at the ceiling. That, you know why? That’s a physics thing. It helps them get their hips up and keep their kick up on the entry. And we have a bolt cutter in our pool about that high off the water. And there’s that kind of space under it. We tell them with the pull with the one-arm to aim for the space. So to keep it more in tune. I’ve quit doing a lot of one-arm butterfly. We do a lot of 5 kicks, 2 strokes. That’s like I talked about our breaststroke kick drill which is 4 kicks, 2 strokes. They do 5 flat kicks, no breath. Two strokes, they can breathe on them or not. They usually figure it out by the second round. They’ve got to take one breath on those two strokes anyway. And it all came about because I was very interested in getting them to kick harder and not talk. Nowadays, there’s so much talk, our problems are similar. They’re called people. [laughter] Mine are older and think they’re smarter. And that is a minus.

But during all these strokes, we talk about when do you start swimming on your push off? When do you start swimming off your start? Its different, I hate this, it’s different for everybody. Because they’ve got to start swimming off the walls or off the blocks right before they start to slow down. Does anybody ever see anybody come off the wall? And two feet from the wall, they’re fly kicking and you see the big water come up. We don’t kick until we’re six feet off the wall. Because we’re not going to go faster than that. All that happens when you start kicking immediately, it slows you down. Like if you’re on a boat, you’ve got a hundred horsepower, I don’t want to give any outboard motors up. A plug but an Evinrude or a Mercury. And you put a five horsepower motor in the water and a hundred horsepower’s going all out, what happens? You don’t pick up two miles an hour. You get resistance. Because it can’t keep up. And everybody is a good kicker.

When I was in Sydney, I walked around and I asked people. What do you kick 50 meters flutter kick on a board? Michael Klim, Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, Aaron Peirsol, Ian Crocker, Popov, part of the Russian team. Gary Hall, all those guys. They’re under 30 seconds, 50 meters flutter kick. You got to be able to kick now to go 30 seconds by age 20. And I don’t know what it is for the women. But by age 20, half the men on your team could kick 30 seconds. They may have to do extra to get there. There are lot of good things being done about the kick nowadays.

There is a team that is using short fins and somehow putting a 2 to 4 pound weight on them. So you kick with weighted fins. And they’re doing extra, extra’s good. I said I’d talk about fly kick, I did a little bit yesterday. 90 percent of the people on your team can get better if they kick three times off every wall. Freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly. 90 percent of your team. And one thing I’ve noticed, body position is real important. The tendency when you streamline this kind of drags your chin to your chest. If that happens, you are not as good on the fly kick as if you keep it straight out. Now, I don’t understand the mechanical aspects of why that is. But I see people all the time fly kick with their chin on their chest. Don’t do it. You watch, don’t let them do it.

All we want to do is get them to be the best they can be. You play a big part of that. You have the power. I’m a firm believer, at least at the college level. The only way I keep the power and I’ve heard “don’t abuse it”; I don’t abuse it. Whatever I do, I explain why we’re doing it. Now, I might not explain why we’re doing eight 1000s, they know why we’re doing that. But I tell them what we’re doing this time of year. This is aerobic city for us. Had a number of people said they want to come in and watch our program. We’re open to anybody anytime. But I said September 15th through Thanksgiving, if you want to see what workouts look like. Because I’ve got guys, you’ve got people that can get better aerobically in six weeks. I’ve got guys in six weeks. They get back up to two on the scale of ten. They do not get better. So I’ve got to keep hammering them. That’s just where they are.

If you are to draw a parallelogram, that’s a good word for an ex-engineer anyway, that’s me. Parallelogram, keep it open at the top. Knowing that it’s the athlete’s career. As they get to there, remember what worked down here? If they hit a plateau or something, they want to go back to here but their body was at a level. Where at ten and unders, everything works. Well, he walks a half a mile to practice everyday. Well that made him good. It probably did help, but now that’s not going to work up here. Fewer things work, sadly sometimes one of those fewer things is the athlete. Because my philosophy is, as I get to there if they want to get better, the workload broadens. It doesn’t mean more things work but they’ve got to do more work.

Just logically that makes sense and I can see it. I’ve got one guy who just comes in and says, whatever you say, I’m ready to do it. Of course, I’ve explained it to him and that’s Garrett. Garrett has stayed in the ball game because he works, as I said yesterday. He went 4:20 for a 500, 1;33.2 for a 200. He is in another program. He’s maybe faster for the 50 but he wouldn’t be for a hundred meters. If you’re going to swim a hundred meters long course, better get good at 200-yards short course. If you’re going to swim a 200 long course, you better be good at a 500.

I recruited a kid years ago who was let’s just say the greatest high school freestyler ever. I’m not going to give you his name. I told him if he came to my school, and you know how NCAA goes. 200 free relay, 500, 200 IM, 50, diving, 400 medley relay. So if you came to my school, you’ll never swim the 200 free relay. You’ll be in the 500. He’s a good 500 guy. Maybe 18 out of high school, maybe so long ago, long time ago. And he went to a school that they needed him in the short relay. You can’t come out of a short relay and swim a 500. One all out 50 and a 500, for some reason, doesn’t go together. I saw 42.5 hundred guy do that one time. And go 43.4. So we think we can train for everything, but you can’t train for that. So you don’t do that. And the summer before he had gone 1:48.5 this guy, a high schooler, had gone 49.5 and 1:48.5 hundred free, 200 free. Started swimming the flat, started 50 in the short relay. I think they won the NCAAs with him doing that. But that summer he went faster in the hundred free. 200, he did not break 1:50.

What you do in the winter, sets you up for the summer. What you do in the summer, sets you up for the winter. You want an upward spiral like that. There’s always a price to pay and in my program, it’s always a bigger price to pay. My seniors graduate they say, I pity the next year’s freshmen class. And I had a freshman class last year that basically in this day and age had never swum. 4 to 5 workouts a week, 4 to 5 thousand yards of workout. That’s not swimming. Not for seniors in high school that aspire to be good and these guys are talented or I wouldn’t have them. I just put a man two mornings, some of them only for an hour. Because there are three levels of work: there’s too much, there’s just right, and there’s too little. If I’m going to make a mistake, I’m going to err on the side of too much. Because if we get to a point near the end of the year and we’re trying to rest and they still haven’t gone fast, I take them out of the water. That means everything but a shower. I don’t let them swim a thousand. Take them out of the water three to five days. Depending on their events, their background, all that kind of stuff.

I gave a talk a lot of years ago. I said if you only have to taper one time. The week before you take them out of the water five days, all the way out. And then you go back and do your 3-week taper. And I had a number of guys do it and raved about it. But it’s scary to do that kind of stuff. And if you don’t work hard like I’ve said yesterday. Taper starts September 1st. If you don’t do anything, taper doesn’t matter. Taper is not the answer. The workload’s the answer. You’ve got to do some work. And you know what? They will do it. They will do it. Just explain why we’re doing it. Because I talked yesterday about what my college guys are going to do this year. They already know, I’ve already told them. And you know when you know what’s going to happen, it’s a lot easier to accept than if you spring it on them. Tell them why we’re doing it. And if its doing practice that I’m telling them this. They have about 3 or 4 guys that are appointed question askers. So it continues to take up practice. And they’re real good at it.

Fly kick, I can go anywhere, can I? I used to be called the tangent man. I can’t remember what that means. Fly kick, once you have gotten to the point where everybody is getting better at fly kick. There’s a certain level which is up from where most people are now. I told you it’s easy to get to. After that, you’ve got to go to a vertical kick, hands crossed over your chest. And you count every forward kick and you want to try to get to where you can kick 15 to 20 times in 6 seconds. And if you get anybody that can get their bathing suit out of the water, call me about that. [laughter]

We go down to the bottom and we push off. And they try to get their bathing suit all the way out of the water. I got some that can get their shoulders out of the water. But we’re working on it. I like the new — and I’m not associated with any of these companies. Evinridge has not decided to sponsor me. But we bought a bunch of the killer whale mono fins. And that is I think, there were stages that you’ve got to do something different to get better. If your swimmer went from 18 for 25 fly kick. And you went three months kicking three times off every wall. Then went to 15, that’s probably not going to get them to 12. You have to do something different.

Vertical fly kick, we do eight 100s short course. Where they streamline off the wall, 10 kicks off the wall. Pull their ends to here, I love them to fly kick this way. It gives them more freedom, its easier for the younger kids. Works their stomach and their quadriceps more than this does. So you’re making them — we’re overloading. We’re making them stronger. We’ll do eight 100s. When I started this 20 years ago, we averaged 1:13 per 100 for our team. Six weeks later, we averaged 1:05. You are a product of what you do. Do it three times a week. If it’s good to do, don’t do it once a semester. And as I said yesterday, if you want to know if it’s good to do, email Jack Mallory. So he can’t spend time recruiting like he did with me in this room this time.

So we work on it that way. I’ve tried different things where they push off on their stomach, fly kick five kicks. And do a breaststroke pull out. And fly kick real fast there. It’s easier to fly kick when you’re going fast. The faster you go, the faster you can kick. So we’re working on frequency that way. You work on resistance when you’re going vertically. Work on resistance when you’re going with fins. Work on resistance when you’re using one of those towers or pulley system. Or when you do it against surgical tubing. We have a pulley system in our pool. And we don’t get to use it much because it’s in the diving well. And as Jack said when he won the nationals by one point, his diver scored two, he loves diving. We are good at diving and we like it too. So I can’t move them out to do the pulley system. But on any resistance, I think the best you get, the best results you get come from fly kick against resistance. We move the fastest.

Now, if you have not done the three kicks off every wall, don’t start with that. This whole process is level in a step. And you leave something out you go to there. Its not going to move you faster. Just like we do a weight program that’s nothing like you do. And you can’t do it. Ten and unders need to be doing pushups and body weight stuff. 11 and 12s, weight room is not a fantasy. It’s just another step along the way. Don’t leave anything out.

Fly kick is a fifth stroke. It’s the second fastest stroke. If you don’t have it in your practice every day, you’re short changing your swimmers. I think every time I speak, I talk about that. I go out, I try to recruit a great fly kicker every year. Had a guy that wasn’t a great fly kicker. This guy swam the mile. And he worked so hard on his fly kick, second year he scored the NCAAs in the 200 back. Which is same day as mile, which got him out of the mile. He was a happy boy. But he got good at fly kick. The NCAAs on the men’s and women’s side. If you can’t fly kick you can’t swim 100, 200 fly or back. 100 fly to go the meet is 46.8. 200 fly, 1:44 low.

Backstroke is 47.0, 1:42 plus. That’s to go to the meet. Women, I honestly don’t know, but if you don’t go 52 middle in the fly and 53 low in the back, you don’t go to the meet. Everybody here has got 10 people that can be great fly kickers. There’s another verb I could’ve used instead of can, should. Remember, the miracle’s in the swimmer, we’ve got to find a way to get it out. And when I talk to swimmers about changing things in practice, I try to come at them from a different angle. Every once in a while, not the same. You know your left hand is going in like that. Try to come I’d say, try to get out of the pool with your hands turned that way. And then turn them that way which is easiest. And put them out that wide and put them in here which is easiest. College swimmers know what easiest means.

Alright I’m ready to take questions. My special talk to them in. [laughter], I am ready for questions. Remember this, I only have one ear that works. Yes, sir.

Male Speaker: How do you get the breath control with the 100 [inaudible] [00:54:18], how do you balance that? How do you bring it up?

Eddie Reese: What a great question. The question has to deal with very simply how do you hold your breath? When you’re kicking like that. I have a great fear of doing a whole lot of stuff in the water without breathing. When I first started out in college, I was a physical education teacher and taught swimming, volleyball, hand ball, tennis, all that kind of stuff at the University of Florida. When everybody in your swimming class wants to see how far they can swim underwater. So we had a guy that was going to — it was a 20 yard pool. He was going to swim underwater. And we had lines on the bottom so I stationed somebody in every line. Crush away and he was supposed to swim next to them. So at about 65 yards he comes up and shakes. I just yelled grab him. And they grabbed him.

So I’ve found sitting on the deck, we do this different times of the year for three or four weeks. And we’ll just hold our breath. Usually they don’t do well lying down. They sit up. And in four weeks, my team, everybody was holding their breath three and half minutes. And probably a quarter of them were over 4:15. And I stopped Ian Crocker at over 4:30, I shook him he just looked at me. And I said — he just said I’m fine. And I said I’m not. [laughter] I just swear by it. But we do hundreds where the first 25 is underwater, next 75 is swimming backstroke or butterfly or freestyle. And we do hundreds where we swim 75 back, 25 underwater. To make sure it’s an honest effort, they’ve got to be under 53 or 54. Of course you’ve got to give them more rest. We tie a surgical tubing in the 25 yard pool right there in the middle. We can pick four lanes, tie a surgical tubing there. Alright, that’s across the lanes. They’ve got to kick out under that from each side. 25s are easy, 50s are harder, everything else is real hard. Because if you notice you always get a better push off when you’re just pushing off and not doing a turn. And then you just give them things to do.

For most everybody in the world, if you swam a 25 butterfly, you’re a swimmer; Even you. I don’t want to see that. But if you’re swimmers, that was supposed to be funny. Come on. Remember the introduction? If your swimmers swam at 25 fly, most of them would not breathe. Very simply, you’re faster when you don’t breathe. Michael Phelps breathing every stroke, now everybody breathes every stroke. And I work hard at it. I do believe that like in distance swimming, we used to come off the wall, opposite arm and then breathe. But now they’re moving their arms so fast, the aerobic demand is so high. And they’re so good. Ever since Kiren Perkins in the ‘92 Olympics made turns good. For milers, they’re underwater a long time. I even want them to breathe twice if they’ve got to turn here. I don’t want them to come into the wall, breathe air, and then go another stroke and a half without breathing. Because then they’re going three yards in and six yards out without air. It’s not fastest but at the end of the race it pays a dividend.

You work on it as you should do everything. Work up gradually. We started going 3,000. And my guys have been out of the water two weeks. We started going 3,000 a day. And they’ve got something else to do, they go do it. This time of year. This week that ability or that ability to that is gone. But it’s just a gradual thing. And I’m not at all for — like I got two guys, Garrett Weber-Gale and Jimmy Feaghan can swim 100 yards freestyle without a breath. We have done — we’ve got a set we do. We go four 100s from a dive on 2:30. They get one breath a 25. Everybody on the team goes 49s, even the breaststrokers. Because they’re not breathing and they’re faster. That doesn’t mean it’s the fastest way for them to go 44. But I do know that’s faster. So we work on that. Yes?

Male Speaker: Can you explain further about your breaststroke breathing, head position? You’ve mentioned it.

Eddie Reese: Alright so right away you did this. Don’t do that. [laughter] You got to know what you’re doing. God, I had a coach when I first started who is a cousin. And he was — I’m still doing stuff he taught me back then. He taught me how to do pull outs. And probably even three years ago I could beat most people on my team. Just because I knew how to do it. But what’d you want me to explain? [laughter]

At tangent, I was three tangents away.

Male Speaker: The head position.

Eddie Reese: Oh head position, alright. You know what streamline is? That’s your head in the zero position or straight down. As you start pulling it stays there. A lot of people do that. They start looking forward. They wait and then they start looking forward and come up. If you just pull and pull correctly, you’re going to — and keep your head down. You’re going to do that. So I just used that. The difference in the head down breaststroke, as it tires out your arms. And when you lift your head up, your body follows your head. Your head position is the most important thing in every stroke. So as you lift your head up, you lift your shoulders back. And your arms don’t fatigue as much. And we look straight ahead. I tell them look at the back at the end of your lane. And I’ve got one that wants to do like that. Because he was very successful that way. But we’re working on it. He’s changed it a lot last year. And went — where’d he go, 1:53.3 200 breast. He was second on my team. The other guy does it right. The other guy is not near as strong, not near as fast. Here’s a guy that went 52.8 in 100 yards breast stroke. Which won the consolations. Did not make the finals. He goes out in 53.6, eight tenths off his best 100. And he’s got guys that are 52 flat in the race with him. And they’re out with him. And he just has those strokes. Good strokes will carry you further.

Any more questions? Yes ma’am.

Female Speaker: When we taught young kids, and you felt the kick coming off the walls. They have a hard time realizing that they need to keep their bodies in a tight line. So we work on keeping the tight line and then coming back. So do you do all the kids or do you with adults too?

Eddie Reese: Younger kids, I would work on fly kick on their back with their hands at their sides. I wouldn’t worry about it. This is hard. This is hard to do. To streamline and do it. It’s real hard to do on your back. And if somebody knows this, tell me after this phenomenal talk. Oh, is that laughter? Come on. Why is fly kick harder on your back? And flutter kick harder on your back than on your stomach? If you look at it, I don’t get it. But that’s something for you to think about and help me with. But I just wouldn’t worry about the streamlining. If they’re doing it off the wall, they’re getting better. We did something the other day that they didn’t like. So I know we’ll do it again. That’s how you decide something. If you give them something to do and make some of them bleed from the face, and they don’t like it. Oh, we’re doing this again tomorrow. [laughter] That’s how we got where we are. If they like something, oh we like that. You won’t see that again. [laughter] I don’t tell them that, I think that.

But we get some 50s where they went. Well we actually did four 103s on 110, this is yards this is early. I tell them don’t tell them, anything under 48 is good. They laughed too. And they do four 100s then they did 450s on a minute. Where they had to fly over, fly kick back underwater on the odd ones. On the even ones, they kicked over, fly kicked back. I mean yeah they kicked over, fly swim back. It was all a breath control. Three rounds of that and even my big talkers weren’t talking. So I know it’s — I’m looking for aerobic. And it can’t be easier. It’s got to be harder. Thanks you guys. Well I see a question back there.

Male Speaker: For breaststroke, do you ever time the start and the finish?

Eddie Reese: You mean from the time their feet start coming up? I do not. It’s — I haven’t even thought about that. We do a lot of breaststroke kick with a buoy between their legs up high. Keep the knees in. I know when Ed Moses was dominating breast stroke, I think he swam like that, he kicked like that. So we like that.

You’ve been the best audience. Thank you.

Sponsorship & Partnerships

Official Sponsors and Partners of the American Swimming Coaches Association

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe and get the latest Swimming Coach news