I was fortunate enough to get to do the introduction this morning and I can just think back myself when I was a high school coach in Northern Indiana and hearing about this legend that was only a matter of hours north of me. I am very fortunate this morning to introduce Coach Dennis Hill to you, from Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor Michigan. I just know how we always looked forward to each year’s NISCA ratings and I can just remember looking through there every year and seeing what a team effort that he always had and he has been coaching for 40 years – 35 of those have been with the girls – actually 39 there with the guys and one year at another high school. He has been high school National Champion three times – in 2003, 2005 and tied in 2006. What I really remember and what I have noticed when I have seen both Dennis and his wife and I have heard them speak before – just their phenomenal team approach and what really came across is their amazing organizational skills, so no further ado just welcome Dennis.
Thank you – thank you very much. Well, actually the organizational stuff is my wife – I am just along for the ride, but anyway I came to the first World Clinic I think in 1972 in Montreal and then there was one in Chicago in 1973 and I remember that I learned so much from those things, but then I started coaching girls in 1974 so I haven’t been to one since. I called my wife last night and we have already started the girls and she had 90 girls to work with last night and her frame of mind wasn’t too good – she says, “hope you are having a good time” and anyway – I have got to rush out of here to get back and we are going to start our intensive training when I get back. Up here I got – this is from Pioneer Days to Present – that was my wife’s idea – the old days – and I have been around forever – before they invented water and all that stuff, but I swam at Patton-Gill Junior High – under Ron Stauffer. In those early days I really went out for swimming just to play tag in the pool. I had no idea what I was ever going to get into, but Bill Godfrey come up and says, “you know – we should go out for swimming – we can play tag all the time” and back in those days it was the orthodox breaststroke and the unorthodox breaststroke and nobody knew about this new stroke so I got to swim the butterfly in those days – it was called the unorthodox breaststroke.
I was three years at Patton-Gill and then I went to Lansing Eastern under Fred Steelman. Fred Steelman was a legendary coach. He had one of the best teams in the country in the late 40’s and he passed away from a heart attack in gym class – he was playing basketball and then we got Jerry Mizner who was a fresh kid out of Western Michigan and he coached at Lansing Eastern. He coached at Pioneer where I am now and then went to Central Michigan, but actually when I went to Lansing Eastern I wanted to play basketball. I didn’t have any interest in swimming. All the events in junior high were too short so I wasn’t really that good so I wanted to play basketball. I did a time trial in gym class and they said, you know – if you went out for swimming you could get a varsity letter so that was all it took to get me to go out for swimming and that was the year they just added the breaststroke to the IM so whoever was fastest on the team got a varsity record so here – as a 10th grader I had the varsity record in the 200 IM because they just changed the event which – I was big man on campus then. Then I went to Michigan State – really, I didn’t intend on swimming. High school was fine – I was like 7th in the State in the 400 and at least the distances were a little better, but I really didn’t intend on swimming in college until I ran into one of the kids that wrestling and we were standing in front of the Olin Health Center and he says – you know – aren’t you going out for swimming and I said – well I really didn’t think so, but here – lets go in and get a physical. I had been kicked out of every place – we used to play tag at Michigan State – running around the museums when we were younger and all that stuff so here is a chance to go to these places and they actually let me in and so I went out for swimming. They gave me a locker and a warm-up and a suit and then that began my career at Michigan State.
Dick Fetters – that was his first year and Dick Fetters was the assistant coach and he was like a second dad to me. He really – originally I was the only guy that showed up for morning workout and so he wanted me to get better to beat all these guys that were on scholarship and so I really trained pretty well that first year and really got into it – set a freshman record in the 1650’s and really began a career that was pretty exciting on my part. Charles McCaffrey was the head coach and I will have to admit – when we swam for Charles – because Dick was doing – the team did not have as much respect for Charles as later when I got into coaching and found out all the things that he had done for swimming with the ballot system – the organization – I mean – you just didn’t want to be around McCaffrey when there was a meet going on because he wanted to make sure everything was right on thing and I think I picked up some of those traits, but Charles McCaffrey really – I feel badly that we didn’t give him more credit when we swam—but Dick really did all the coaching. I graduated in ’66. I was Captain of the team. I was 7th at NCAA’s in the mile so I made All American. Our team at Michigan State was 4th at NCAA’s and that is the highest they had ever placed so that was also the meet that Gary Dilly – do you remember Gary Dilly stood up – held the meet up for half an hour so they could get the backstroke start. McCaffrey reveled in that. He thought that was – you know – he followed the rules and anyway – that was the meet. It also was kind of the meet that they were doing it as a test for the ’68 Olympics because it was at the Air Force Academy and guess who got affected the most for the distance people there – they were doing open turns to finish that 1650 at Colorado. After I graduated I did my student teaching. I actually I was a pre-dent and I didn’t get into dental school so I went back and got a teaching certificate. I did my student teaching at Jackson Parkside with a guy by the name of Will Cooley, who was President of NISCA in the 50’s – really a pioneer for swimming in our state so that student teaching told me that was really what I wanted to do and I taught chemistry and then began coaching.
My first job was Ferndale and I went there for an interview – they had two pools and I thought – how can you beat this – two pools – I could stand up at the top and have kids going both times, except I found out later that one was for the women and you did not get in the women’s pool so we still had the six lane men’s pool, but the principal, the assistant principal were ex-swim coaches so I thought I had it made. They needed a chemistry teacher and so I went in there knowing everything there is to know about swimming and the only trouble is – all the seniors quit because they had to come to practice and it was a little bit different. We had – the freshmen did pretty well, but we only won three meets and lost 9 so that first year – after knowing everything – I found out after the end of the year – maybe I don’t know as much as I thought about kids. Then I went to Pioneer – actually Jerry Mizner was my high school coach – he was the head then at Pioneer – he went to Central and then a fraternity brother of his – Charlie Lott – became the coach. He was at Jackson and I knew him from – he was the other coach in Jackson and we went to the same high school – was the coach at Pioneer.
Charlie was put in the classroom – had not opened a history book since he was in college and it didn’t work out well for Charlie. The swimming part was great and the kids did real well, but Charlie wasn’t going to stay there. They really got on his case and wouldn’t let him do a lot of things and so Charlie came to me and says you know – you should apply for this job and I said Charlie, why do I want to apply for this job where you can’t do all these morning workouts and stuff and he says, well – just apply – it will be good for your professional growth so I applied. The principal liked me. All the stuff Charlie couldn’t do – oh no problem – no problem you can do those things. The only trouble was – the principal retired and so the new principal didn’t even know I had been hired and I was there working in the summertime with the kids and they didn’t even know I was coming so that was a little scary. Those were Viet Nam days and if I wasn’t teaching fulltime then I would be shooting bullets in Viet Nam, but as it turned out, they created a position and I have been teaching there for 39 years so it worked out pretty well. Some of the great swimmers I had – one of them was Danny Stevenson – he had just gotten back from Masters – the Masters Nationals – he is now 50 so Danny is a little kid, but he had just won all the freestyle events at Woodlands. One was at the Y – he went 1:47 this spring in the 200 – that is as fast as he went in high school – 4:53 in the 500 and he was 50 years old.
Danny has got it down to where he swims two years – takes three years off – swims two years – the bottom of your age group where when you are a kid you always want to be in the top of your age group. I had a kid named Dave Churnick who still has our varsity record – he went 55.6 back in 1980 and was one of the great swimmers and on that same team was Tony Anderson who was two time Captain at Indiana and I think he is one of the few that ever was two years in a row with Doc. Another kid is Bruce Kimball – he was on that same team. We were pretty good in 1980 and Bruce is coaching diving at New Trier and just doing a great job there and the one that you probably know about the most is Carol Lynn Joyce. Carol Lynn was from New York. She came to the Michigan camps and really the reason she came to Ann Arbor was not because of our program – it was because of Jon Urbanchek, but we ended up getting a pretty good swimmer out of it and I see another person in the audience – Pete Lindsey came to Ann Arbor to coach the women’s team and Jennifer Jackson followed her and that was a few years earlier and that was another lady that really was pretty good. She went 4:50 in our – she still has our varsity record in the 500 and so I had been the benefit – living in a college town – of getting some of these great swimmers, but Carol Lynn was something special and she really, really did have a great spirit. She had – when she swam there – four national records – one in the 50 – the 100 and was on the 200 free relay and that 200 free relay went 32.7 which I don’t believe anybody else has ever even gone 33 and that was kind of one of those swims like you looked at the watch and you didn’t believe it and it was kind of quiet because everybody was going – oh my God – she led it off with 22.04 and then two freshmen went 23.4 and then the other senior that anchored it went 23.7 and we ended up with 32.7 and then in finals they 33.7, but that was really a special one and then the latest is Margaret Kelly. She is a freshman at Michigan and she is going to be somebody to watch.
Anyway – that is my start – counting all those swimming – like 50 years and I noticed Jack Simon last night – he had been in coaching for 50 years and I had to count my swimming in order to get into the 50’s, but it really is kind of neat to see – I come to these things – I see some of the people – they just look a little older, but a lot of the same people are still doing this and it really is kind of a reunion when you come to the World Swimming Clinic. Well the idea of this speech is what happened – what has changed in the last 40 years and I will have to admit – starting out just with the personal equipment – back when I started in grad school and I got a question mark by the suits because we didn’t use them. We swam in the nude. There were no windows and I tell my kids now that we swam in the nude and they are what? There is no way – some kind of pervert? What’s going on here, but we did not have suits in the gym. The girls had them – they had different colors for the different sizes so they always wanted to get the smaller size, but we swam all our workouts. We did swim meets with suits that they gave us. Now days the kids have training suits, drag suits, team suits, the fast skin suits. They have practice goggles, racing goggles, towels, parka, warm-ups, swim sandals, fins and zoomers, hand paddles, pull buoys, kick boards, mesh carrying bags, inhalers which I break all the time, heart rate monitors, water bottles, sports drinks, practice log, power bars, I-pods for mental preparation, dry land with the stretch cords, medicine balls and you can go on with all kinds of different things there.
They have sports psychologists, masseuses, and even Carol Lynn just a sports agent so things have changed a little bit since I began in the personal equipment. For a swim meet all we needed was 6 stop watches, a starting pistol, entry cards, starting blocks which we probably had to make to fit the pool. At Pioneer – my first year – we had wooden lane markers that we had to paint each year, backstroke flags and all the results were handwritten and handed to everybody at the end of the meet. Now days, with all of this stuff – horn starts with recall and strobe light, a timing system, high tech manager software, computer printer, flash drive, modem to send out results, tech support – my hair used to be dark until all of this electronic timing stuff and that is what caused this to change. It was constantly trying to fix to make sure that thing – we had the old – the first Colorado timing system – our serial number was 003 – we think it was the third timing system that Colorado made and that was what we had and used for years. It had the little – it looked like printing out when you went to the store and it would printout the times and then we would figure it out and all that stuff, but today it is a little different. All of that stuff is done. It takes a lot of work to set up a meet, but once it is set up, then it goes pretty – as long as the electronics work and I did tell Randy Flynn from Colorado when we first bought this stuff – you know – this stuff doesn’t work – it is a piece of crap because if you don’t know what to do with it you can’t do anything so he took that back to his sales meeting and they did not appreciate it too well. If it works – it is really good stuff.
You have just got to learn and I think that coaches now days – you have got to be up on high tech and all that stuff just to keep track of what is going on. The lane markers – we have two sets – we have one for meets and we have one for practice because the 6 inch lane markers which they talked me into when we got our pool – all I think is that they make the waves bitter so I don’t think they do – I like the smaller lane markers – I they cut down the waves better, but they are real pretty – they are a custom purple like our school colors so we still have those and they take up a lot of room. We have the take up reels, backup timers, pushbuttons, starting blocks with the quick start pads, backstroke flags, electronic entries – everything has gone pretty high tech and I think that now days you had better be prepared to do that stuff if you want to – at least get the results from somebody and run a good meet. In the beginning days, the school did everything. They provided the suits. They supplied the warm-ups. We even had daily towel service. The kids would go in and get a towel – dry off – take it back and get another towel. We had kids that would go in a few – they would have a whole stack of them so they wouldn’t have to make too many trips back and forth and we did have daily towel service for practice. We had a budget and the budget I had my first year at Pioneer – for the boys team only – is much bigger than what I get for both teams now. There is no budget. They just – we have it – we will get it – if we don’t, but I have no idea what the budget is from one year to the next.
The school provided a team photo. They arranged transportation, provided the workers and officials for all the meets. If we went to an away meet they – if it was past lunch or dinner we had to provide a meal – $3.00 for lunch – $5.00 for dinner and we had meals every time we went on an away meet. Actually at Pioneer, which I don’t think many schools had – we had a set of blazers that the kids could wear to go to away meets and so everybody would get a blazer and it was actually the football team’s, but all the teams got to use them for their important meets so we dressed up in the school blazers and I think that is not pretty common, but now days our school provides for the officials, transportation and my salary and that is it. All of the team uniforms – everything else – we raise and I think that is pretty much the way of the future. If you are a coach now you are going to be in doing some fund raising or at least have parents that raise funds and our school – our biggest fundraiser is a program with a bunch of advertisements in it and we make 6-12,000 dollars – depending on how active the kids get with that – trying to get the things to go into the program, but that is our main fundraiser. We do charge the kids – our captain’s parents are responsible for all the collection of money and all that stuff and we do charge – the girls were charged $150. for the suits – for al the parties and all that kind of stuff. They get a bunch of T-shirts and things and that – with 90 girls on the team – that is pretty substantial, but we do have – and it is almost like pay to play. The guy’s team is $125. Their suits are not quite as expensive.
The thing that the school does provide now is “Policy and Procedure” manuals and these things are driving me nuts. It includes your vision, your core values and on our shirts that we got – these are our core values for all the athletic teams – integrity – excellence – respect – team and commitment and we sat down with a gentleman who played football from Michigan and he came up this kind of thing. He has worked with the Pistons and some other places, but he was one of Bowes disciples and he really tried to figure out why certain teams at Michigan were good and why some others weren’t and so we went through a whole seminar with him, trying to develop and it really came down to the teams like Bowes – it was a family. People were doing things for each other and the dad would make sure you did the things in the right way and that kind of stuff and I think that is really the thing I got out of that was you have got to treat kids like they are your family and when they screw up – there are consequences and when they do well you have got people who are going to hug and kiss them, but anyway – that is our core values. We have a code of conduct for both the coaches and the students. Coach’s responsibility:
Discipline – criminal history check for them. We had a coach in our league who just got – admitted “No Contest” to fondling a young 9 year old so those kinds of things are happening now days and it is just scary so I am sure they had to do it. My first year at Ferndale they had – a kid kept coming in to watch and they were supposed to hire a diving coach and an assistant coach. They hired the 9th grade coach and he got sick and I never saw him. Well this guy came in and wanted to volunteer and he started offering the kids a ride home and stuff and the next thing – I got a call from the police – this guy had a history of child molestation and so I am going – well okay – thanks – we will take care of that and so we never saw him again, but you do have to be aware of those kind of things and it does happen and unfortunately, you have got to pay attention and a criminal history check I guess is a really pretty good thing. Evaluation form – Fund raiser guidelines – Emergency procedures – Guidelines for fair treatment policy – Eligibility Requirements. Pioneer, just recently, we had two football games which we won. The kid was out of the district because they started so early before school started – the secretaries didn’t keep track and so we lost our first two games because of an ineligible player and he only got in for a couple of plays.
Participation in music and athletics and our music program in Ann Arbor – like New Trier – we won the Grammy award in 2005-2006 as the best music program and the ex-principal came up with this – “music comes first”. If the kid has a music thing – they go to music – because it is class. Well, he used to be a band director before he was principal so that policy came up and we do try and work with the kids and stuff like that, but I mean – it is going to hurt their swimming if they are going to be constantly gone, but we do have a very strong music program which is great. Our youngest son was in it and it was just really a fantastic thing for him. Emergency weather procedures – Team selection policy – practice guidelines – media and public relations – as far as our team – we have a “no cut” policy – that is why our team is so big. As long as the kids come to workout and they can be on the team. When I first started the numbers were not nearly – I mean – if we had 30 guys we had a big team.
Now we are close to 50 every year with the guys and when the girls first started they were pretty big. They were up in the 40’s, but now we are up to 90 girls so we do have a lot and my wife and I are the coach and I take pretty much the best ones and train them so I get 30 and she gets 50 so it is real fair and she does most of the teaching and really then progress and really help us out. But it really – we like to think that we have a place for everybody. When we do things we do it as a team and we try to make sure everybody is included and that is – sometimes you get a little muddled and with so many people and some of them do not see each other all the time – it does create some problems, but I don’t care what program you got – you are going to have problems – there’s got to be one. The other thing that happened over the 40 years – we started in a six lane pool. The lighting was less than one foot candle power. We had about 30 guys to start with. We had diving going on at the same time and when I look back – I do not know how in the heck we did it, but that is what we started with and my original career – I said – well this is crazy. We have got to split these groups and with the guys we went to two groups and the girls – we actually went to three groups one time because we had so many. Now days – in 1997 we got a new pool and we went through the bond issue and the roller coaster ride with – we are going to get it – we are not going to get it – the public – and when they had the bond issue – the pools took the biggest hit because they were a luxury and we got kids back from colleges to vote to make sure that it passed and originally it passed at 120 votes and then they had to recount and they only made it by 80, but we did get the bond issue for the pool.
We now have a 14 lane pool. I am telling you if you are dealing with pools, you are going to lose 30% of that in the first three months of the planning – budgeting process so you want a 100 foot, go for 130, but anyway that whole process of building the pool, being there every day – that is a whole new ballgame and we feel we have one of the greatest training facilities around and we have a lot of pools in Ann Arbor – we really do have quite a few pools, but it is a great training pool – not very good for me – the closest an official can get is three lanes away so our kids have a tendency to be big cheaters because they can – did they really touch with two hands or not, but anyway – it is a great training facility and that is how we can accommodate the numbers that we have today. We still go with the two groups – the kids that are in my group are a lot more into the swimming and can handle double workouts and Liz does more of the teach stuff with that. When I first started, it was on the job training. There were no classes – I mean – the fact that I started coaching in 1967 and I felt I knew everything there was to know about swimming. The trouble I was having – I wasn’t really satisfied with the way the kids were performing at the end. We worked pretty hard.
In Ferndale I lost all the seniors because they had to come to practice and I wouldn’t swim them in meets if they didn’t come so they kept quitting and there were some pretty good kids that we lost. I did have one kid that placed at the State meet that first year and so my record is intact. I have had a kid final at the State meet every year and so thanks John Komanski, he was the one in the first year, but we did not have a very successful dual meet season – we had only won three meets and one of those meets was because they had an ineligible swimmer so we really only won two and lost the other 9. When I came to Ann Arbor I did – the kids were hard workers. There was no – I wasn’t going to have the problem with them quitting and all that kind of stuff and they had a big strong background with Mizner and Charlie Lott. The swim club was going pretty strong and Hanover Y was going strong so that was really kind of an ideal situation as far as when I came, but we did have a problem – the kids were more afraid of losing – that was the big thing. They wanted to be a good team, but they were more afraid of losing and when I am thinking about this – when I was doing my class work – I don’t know – they talked about a winning attitude and I looked this up and that was my project to do and I read it and it kind of bothered me when I first read it, but winners win and losers lose, but when a kid gets beat – what you try to do to keep that spirit going – to keep them thinking they are winners is you have to give them excuses why they lost and I call it excuses because you have got to kind of build them up a little bit and I thought back to all the kids that I swam with – Gary Dilly and Ken Walsh had a World Record at the time and they were kind of obnoxious about whether they were going to win or not.
They knew that they were going to win and so they did have this kind of attitude that they were going to win and even if they did get beat – they had a reason why they got beat – goggles fell off or something like that, but – so I tried to beat these kids up and the other thing that was bothering me is that very few of the kids went on to college. There were great swimmers there at Ann Arbor, but they didn’t really go on. The pressure was so great – they didn’t want any part of it and I think it was a part of this attitude – they were afraid to lose – instead of trying to enjoy the win and fortunately or unfortunately – depending on how you look at it – Appalachian State Game last week kind of brought this home. Those kids at Appalachian State had just won two National Championships and do you suppose they thought they were going to lose? I think they came in there and they were having a riot – they had a good time. The Michigan kids were a little bit tight. They did come back, but their main goal was not to lose and I think there is a big difference in how you approach things when you have this attitude of “afraid to lose” that has not been nearly as much fun and if you can try and get the kids to enjoy the winning and when they do lose – they have got to take it like a man or a woman or whatever and learn from their mistakes. In coaching and teaching – we are in the business of setting kids up so they make mistakes so that they can learn from those mistakes and it wont hurt them and so I think that it is important that when they do lose or when they do make mistakes that you are there to help correct those things.
I personally like the idea of winning and then learning those same things with winning, but it doesn’t always happen that way and so I think that really – making mistakes is not a bad thing and I think that the hurt from losing really makes the joy of winning a lot better. Also, at that time in Ann Arbor and this – I thought back and it just – my list kept growing and growing with the resources in Ann Arbor of when I got there. First of all, Gus Stager was the University of Michigan Coach and if you went to Michigan State – you had no use for Gus because he was the opposing coach. Well, Gus took me under his wing. I was like – he mentored me like you cannot believe. He invited me over to the house. We talked a lot about swimming and I really owe a lot to Gus because he really – we did work together in the summertime and Gus Stager really had some great ideas. He was a high school coach in the 50’s – that service thing – he was in the service. He started swimming in the service. He went to Michigan – he became the Michigan coach in the late 50’s. He was the Olympic coach in 1960 and really – the man had a wealth of knowledge and it really was something else. At Eastern Michigan – Mike Jones – he was the golden throat – he could talk these kids into doing anything any thing – he didn’t swim – he was a hockey player and the guy was just phenomenal with the technique that he had and Mike Jones was another one that was really instrumental and we would get together. We would have kind of clinics once a week in the summer time.
I lived out at a lake with a fraternity brother who was a coach at Plymouth and those guys would come out and we would talk swimming and we would go swimming in the lake and then Mike Jones – of course – he would fall asleep at 9:30, but everybody else would keep going, but we really had clinics all the time and I learned a lot of things. The main guy that influenced me was Pat Wallace. Pat Wallace was the coach at the other high school and at that time they were putting them together and the first year I went there we had split sessions and we went half a day and then Huron went half a day until their school was ready, but Pat was President of NISCA. He was president elect of NISCA. He was also the editor of the NCAA guide for the high school session. He had been in swimming his whole life and my perspective is – Pat really didn’t know that much about swimming. He just knew a lot about kids and he got those kids to do a lot of things and I think that was a real eye opener. Here I was – knew everything there was to know about swimming, but wasn’t getting the results that I wanted and I learned a lot about how kids were and that kind of thing and that is I think was a big thing in my growing up as far as a coach.
We didn’t win – I started coaching in ’67 – the first state meet was 1977 that we finally won and in that process I will tell you – there was a lot of growth and one of the key things was just knowing kids and what they were all about and I am going to get to that in a few minutes, but Pat Wallace was really instrumental. Charlie Lott – he left Pioneer and went to Eastern Michigan where he was Mike Jones’ diving coach for a year and then found this little town outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan and developed one of the most fabulous programs ever. He used Dave Robertson’s guard system. The prison is out there – even had Federal money from the prison people to run his program because some of his life guards were parents who worked at the prison, but Charlie – he really did a great job out there. John Orcott was my assistant for years – he was the manager at Valley which is a swim club in Ann Arbor which most of our swimmers started at. He was also at the Ann Arbor Y, but he was my assistant for a long time and I think of John as being the grandfather of Ann Arbor swimming. He must have taught everybody in Ann Arbor how to swim. He was an elementary teacher and then he went to the middle school.
There was a period of about three years that we had a pool in an elementary school and they would bussed in all the 3rd graders to learn how to swim until they learned that it cost too much and then they dropped the program. The other person that was there was Connie Corson who was Matt Mann’s great-granddaughter – she was the Ann Arbor Swim Club coach at the time that we got started down at Fuller and she really had a wealth of knowledge and Rosemary and Buck – Buck was her step-dad and so on. Present day – heck I got Urbanchek, I got Richardson – Jim Richardson – we got Bob Bowman – Peter Lynn out in Eastern Michigan – Fernando Kinalis came back and he is the assistant at Michigan and then Bailey Withers has just been hired as the head coach of Club Wolverine and I go way back because he was in Indiana when he recruited some of our first swimmers, but I mean – it has only gotten better over the year and we have gotten more and more people coming in – we have great facilities and things are really going pretty well, but I guess that the main resource that I have is my wife Liz and she swam for me in the middle 70’s – she was on the first girl’s high school team – I didn’t coach the first year – I was doing water polo and then she – I noticed that their taper was going on. They went to the state meet and they were not even there yet – they got lost and the coach couldn’t make it because she had a bowling class and so they were getting out of the car – they dressed in the car – ran out – got in the water and that was their state meet – and I go – this is not quite right so I gave up the polo and started coaching the women – the women’s job paid and the polo didn’t so that was a good move on my part, but Liz was on that first team.
She graduated from Pioneer – she went on to Michigan – she was all-American under Stew Issac at Michigan – she was a BIG 10 champion in the 400 medley and so on. She came to Pioneer to do her student teaching in ’79 and helped out with our swim team and that was the first year that we won with the girls – was “79. Then, in Michigan, there were not very many teaching jobs so she went to Houston and coached two years at Houston at Douglas McCarther high school for two years and in the process – we did not win so I guess – well I guess we have got to get Liz back here because in order to win – we have got to have her so – that is when we got married in 1983 – I took one for the team and to make sure that we could get back to winning and it has been the best move that I have ever made – she really – she has been involved with this and she was a sprinter. I mean – when it hurts – you are supposed to get out – I was the distance swimmer and so we complemented each other. I was really afraid when our kids – Steven was 22 – just graduated from Eastern – he was Captain of Eastern Michigan Team – he was mat champ twice in the mile which really makes me set my chest out a little more, but I was real worried because when he was younger – Liz had him walking on the bottom and taking long showers and I was convinced he was going to be a sprinter.
Our other son had no competitive desire at all. He was into the music stuff – he was more interested in going and thanking people that cheered for him at meets than to win the race so he didn’t last – he was probably the most comfortable in the water, but he didn’t last and Steven really had a great career and not he is going to be graduating from Eastern in January. Andrew is at the University of Michigan in their theater program – which is really a good program, and as freshmen you are not supposed to do anything and Andrew was in six shows as a freshman so he is doing pretty well with that. The – I think that the big thing and I alluded to that with Pat Wallace because he knew about kids was one of the things with the results not coming out so well was that you have got to learn about the kids. You have got to know what they are talking about – what they are thinking about and if you listen to them you can find out all kinds of things – and I think one of – and this came from Gus – the reason the kids come out for swimming – is they want to gain respect or they want respect from their family, friends and the coaches. The second reason is they want to gain respect as being a team member and I think the real highest level and in the high school swimming that is what we can give that team thing and I really love the high school because of that team aspect, but I think the highest level – if you are going to be an Olympian and all that stuff – you have got to want to gain respect for yourself and I think that is the highest level of this and kids have to go beyond the high school in order to gain that kind of respect for themselves and I do think that is the highest level of what kids should be attaining to.
The other things though – here we are – we hadn’t won a state meet and I thought we should have and it was all based on the fact that we were doing things differently and I think knowing the kids helped a lot and trying to do what they wanted was more important. In 1977 is the first time won with the boys – 1979 we won with the girls and I really think that the taper was the main key for us in those days. Originally what we did and because of the influence of all these other people we got into AAU Swimming at the time – which is now USS Swimming – so it was important that we got the kids going year around and we did that and most kids then – we had more kids swimming year round then than we do now. We had better swimmers that are swimming year round, but practically all the kids swam year around in those early days and we kind of really pushed that and now the state rules and stuff – it is a little harder to do, but if the kid really wants to do it they can, but I think what I did was I found our taper. Originally we were doing two weeks. We would rest for a week for our Conference meet. We would rest a week for State meet and then in those early days we went to a meet called Regionals which were usually at Cincinnati and we were swimming better at the Regionals than we were at State meet and I am going – well maybe we go to a three week taper and my personal feeling is after two weeks the kids are stale. I mean, we really didn’t do very well at all, but we have gone since 1977 – a three week taper and we don’t do very much during our swimming – we do a lot of swimming, but when it comes to the taper I do not even keep track of the yardage and our main ingredient is rest.
We try to rest as much as we can and when we go to the three week taper I have noticed certain things like kids get ill easier and I don’t know whether they are recuperating or whatever, but that is the time that they get the sniffles and stuff like that and some of the kids I think can emotionally just hold it off until after, but there is that chance I think that they do get ill so you want to be aware of that and the main ingredient for our taper is they got to believe it and I think that you could almost do anything if the kids believe that they are going to do it – they are going to go fast and over the years our belief system is pretty strong because of our traditions and to be quite honest with you – in the last few years we have been doing better at State meets than we ever did. The drops have been just unbelievable and so I think that this tradition of doing well – Phil’s taper is going to work and that is all there is to it and so the kids go fast. I do the same taper with the boys as I do with the girls or the girls with the boys and we seem to have it – I am not real comfortable with our distance kids taper – I think they should probably be swimming more, but it is almost like doing them – if I give them more yardage it is like punishing them and so we have had a few State Champs in the 500 so I have let them pretty much do our lower taper and not gone more yardage like most of them do in college. I do think that sometimes those kids have trouble in college because I think they do not rest as much as we did, but we are resting for two days – 8 events where in college they have got to rest for three a three day meet and they are swimming a lot more events so anyway – that has been our taper.
The thing that we have won 28 state championships, 14 with the boys – 14 with the girls so we kept it even. This year I think the girls are going to win and the boys are in trouble so that might change, but it has been really something that is pretty good and then the National Championships – we never even count on that and all of a sudden Carol Lynn puts us over the edge and then we start thinking about it and then actually, we tied in 2005 and we put kids in events to make sure our relays were strong. The state champion – we took out of her event at State meet and put her on a relay so that we could place higher on the relays and have a chance at winning and we ended up tying with Germantown which was kind of fun and then the last year we were trying to beat – see we get Arrowhead’s times first and they were fast. What blows my mind with Arrowhead is they swim in the Wisconsin pool – which I swam in and it is a shallow pool and they were 1:42.7 on a medley relay in a shallow, slow pool – if those kids had been in a good pool – wow – they would have been a lot faster and we lost to them by 3/100’s of a second and we were in a fast pool so they were really good and then we had to wait for Germantown because they really had a good team and our times on the relays were out of sight and so we ended up winning the last time and this past year the kids wanted to know how we did and we were like 12th or something, but our relays were not nearly as good, but it has been something that I think has kind of saved our program because how – I mean – we are going to win the state meet now – it is something that we can shoot for and I really do think and it is kind of neat to get a hold of the coaches and find out how they did and all that stuff in some other states. Bob Clapthorn – if you know Bob Clapthorn – he calls us and he tells us – this is what is happening and he knows all these times.
He is from Birmingham and he now lives in Texas and is a librarian so he can get all this information, but he has a photographic memory. I was talking to him on the phone and we were going to swim Grand Haven – I didn’t know anything about Grand Haven and his mother lived in Grand Haven – this is Michigan – and he gave me every kid’s time. He gave me kids that were in the middle school that were coming up the next year – he knew it all from Grand Haven and we had the perfect meet. We won by a few points because we knew all the stuff that was going on, but he was a real treasure to have. I do have some personal guilt because when I started looking at what we do now – it hasn’t changed much since 1977. We are doing pretty much the same thing. A lot of the stuff that comes out – anaerobic threshold training – lactate sets cover all the energy systems – we did a lot of those things- we just didn’t have names for them. We didn’t know what they were – we just went ahead and did all that stuff and I think the biggest influence might have been Doc Councilman where in the high school workout we did a lot of different things. We would do sprint stuff. We would do long stuff and if you know me – we do a lot of the longer stuff then and so anyway that is where – I do have some guilt for that, but the fact that it is working so well and is even getting better – I doubt of pretty much I change it and if I told the kids we were not going to do something, they might get upset with me because they kind of – oh – this is going to happen if you come here. Now – my coaching philosophy – I was a distance swimmer – I swam the 1650. I told you before – Liz was a sprinter – when it hurts get out – your body is trying to tell you something.
I wasn’t going to do much with the talent. I mean – if you’ve got talent you can get better by conditioning, but the talent I feel is more hereditary anyway, but – so we really concentrate on conditioning and that is where my stuff comes from. I should probably let you have some of this stuff – good thing I did all so you could see it, but the – I have gone through the conflict with quality versus quantity. I know Randy Reese – his big goal was to beat Mission Viejo with not doing all those yards so they went a lot harder and my personal feeling was well – we will go quality, but we will just do it longer so there is a little conflict there, but anyway – I do think that now days I don’t do – we used to do thousands and 1600’s and 2000 swims and we have gotten away from that. I don’t think we go over a set of 800’s and we do a lot of repeats – low rest – it might as well be – some of the kids it is a straight swim, but we go with low rest, but we don’t usually go more over the 800’s and usually because it is the shoulder stuff that we are a little concerned with so we do a lot of swimming.
I am yardage conscious. I believe the kids have to learn how – I mean – the body has to adapt to be able to train and stuff. You get a kid coming off the street and they swim one length and they are done. It is really hard and they have got to keep going and after a while they will get in shape and they will get that wheezy queasy feeling out of their system and then you can start doing a little bit of training and from the young kids – the breathing is probably the key. If then cannot breathe they are not going to make it – you have got to at least let them be able to breathe and work on that breathing stuff, but most of the kids that I have – they are old pros and we go at it pretty heavy. My secondary goal has been technique and I will have to admit – technique is not my strong suit. I do like to see certain things. I work on the streamlining and all that kind of stuff, but I get very frustrated when a kid is dropping their elbow and I try to explain to them how you don’t want to drop your elbow and all that stuff and they get back in the water and nothing changes and so I really don’t know that that’s – I mean – apparently I wasn’t able to convey that to the kids and so on so I have gone to pretty much drills when I want it and we pretty much do the same thing and the same drills and I try to invent drills that I want to work on the roll, the high elbow and that kind of stuff and so we have certain drills the kids do and we are even doing this year, because of the under water swimming – we are doing a lot more of that under water dolphin swimming than we ever have and that is a part of our training. We put fins on them and make them go hundreds where they have to go half a length under water and then swim and then half a length under water and work on the streamlining and the under water kick and so we will find out how that works, but we are doing a little bit more of that.
I believe younger kids – you can tell them all the stuff to do and it doesn’t make sense. It just doesn’t register, but you have them watch somebody swim and I think that is how they learn the best. I know our son Steven, had a really pretty good stroke and we never talked to him about his stroke at all. He just saw a bunch of great swimmers swim and kind of emulated them. Now I know Peter Lynn at Eastern did not agree with me because he did do some things with Steven’s stroke. And especially his turn, but Peter – if you ever get a chance – if you are really into technique – he has got a golf program that he has got and he puts slides side by side and shows these kids all kinds of things, but it is still observing – it is not telling – it is observing and he really has got this down, but he found this golf program and made it into a heck of a thing with being able to technique with and it is just fabulous, but I will have to admit – the main thing is we are conscious of the yardage and so on.
Now, my workouts – I am going to kind of go through these – the kind of things that I think might be helpful – maybe not and I am going to tell you right now – I have listened to people and I don’t agree with them – I don’t do it. If this fits your personality go ahead and use it – other people – I have taken most of the stuff from other people, but this is the kind of things that we do and in workout, I have tried to specialize and have all kinds of different workouts and I cannot keep track of what kids are doing so everybody does the same thing. I love it when I see 11 kids all taking off and 11 behind them and they are all training real hard so we do mostly freestyle – we do the same thing at the same time. We do strokes – everybody does strokes. We do a lot of backstroke, breaststroke – mainly to take the pressure off the shoulders. We don’t constantly do it. We do mostly freestyle, but to relieve the pressure we do a lot of backstroke, breaststroke and our IM’ers have been really excellent and we do a lot of IM work and we concentrate mainly on the turns. We don’t – I have tried to tell the kids – you know the swimming part – everybody is pretty much the same – it is the change in that IM and that is when you go from one stroke to another – that is where they get ahead so if you want to – transition is where you want to really try to make sure that you are working real hard.
We have had great IM’ers, but mainly our whole thing is freestyle and it is a conditioning concept. Everybody that does freestyle are going to get in shape for their breaststroke to butterfly and so on. If I said what we train for – I think we really train mainly for the 200. The kids can come down from the 200 – they can go up from the 200, but most of our kids are the 200 and if you look at a high school meet – the first half of the meet your best swimmers have either got to go either the 200, the IM or the 50. Now it is a rarity that you go fly and back or fly and 500, but most good swimmers are going to be in that first half of the meet either in those three events and those are the tough events and you probably can recognize a sprinter right away – then it’s the 200 so you have to make sure you got one of those and then they can swim something else in the second half of the meet, but I think we gear everything towards doing a 200. I also feel that it is good for when they go to college – they are not afraid of a 200 fly – they are not afraid of some of these things so I really think that that is what we push.
The makeup of our workouts – I am yardage conscious. I don’t write them down. I used to write them down and then the kid I am trying to help is not even there or he is sick – he is not going to do it and so I don’t even bother with that idea any more. So I go to practice – there is a basic pattern and the kids all know the patterns so they are kind of expecting it and I shock them when I change it, but for the most part I do the workouts on deck. I see what they are doing and if they are sloppy and tired and stuff, then we do something different. Basically we do something hard pretty much every day, but I will change in on the spot if it is not working so I do all my workouts – I make them up on deck as we go. There is the pattern like Monday is our meeting day and from the McCaffrey days where you had meetings all the time to Will Cooley — at that he had a meeting all the time and I thought well, we got to get swimming here some time. We only have meetings on Monday and that is it and it is an important time for us, but all I do is try to get the kids because it cuts into our time a little bit so we just try to get a lot of yardage in and get something done – at least 5,000 before our meeting. On Tuesday is our test sets and I am not sure where I got all this test set stuff, but Tuesday I do know who I got – the one we use the most and the last sheet is a write down set that we did. I picket it out because Carol Lynn – but that was her fastest write down average was on October 15, 2002 – which was very impressive and what we do is they swim 100 and then they do an easy 50 in between. The 100 is on the 120. We have gone on the 110, but I have to get the times so it is easier for me if I go on the 120 and then they swim an easy 50 on the 50.
They must go freestyle – no backstroke – I want their face in the water – you recuperate while you are swimming and I will read off the times – I will try to get them down. If I don’t they have got to remember two or three times in a row – from the lecture yesterday – this is training because I am not keeping track of their stroke or anything. This is training. We are trying to get the times. So we do the ten 100’s on the 1:20 with 50’s in between on the 50 and we write down everybody’s time. I have these over the years – the kid can come back and compare them and this particular set we will do every other week and the week that we do not do this, we will do ten 50’s and if you notice there – it is real easy to average the times. Now like Kara was 54, 54, so I started using 54 as the base. She was under on 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 of the hundreds so she is under by 5 and then was over by 1 so it is 4 under 54 – 53.6 and I am on to the next and I can almost do those in my head and have them done during practice. Jen Murdy – this is the one – Jen Murdy was 58 on all of them so it was 58 – that was the easy one and then Susanne Murdy was down at the bottom – half of them were 58’s and half of them were 59’s and these are the better times and on the sheet – if you got the handout – that was everybody in the workout.
There were 30 people in that workout and those are all the times and we do that every Tuesday – they know it is coming. The hundreds hurt and you have got to make sure that you are preparing yourself because if you go out in the first hundred – that last one – that Kara on this day – had a little trouble with the last one, but most of them will take it easy on the first five and then start pouring it to the next five, but that is our test set and we will do 50’s and they can do stroke on the 50’s and we go three groups – 40 seconds apart so there are three in a lane – so they are really on the 120 and some of those – Kara averaged 23 flat for seven 50’s and there are just some amazing times. We record them. We put them on the board – but that happens on Tuesday. On Wednesday – if we are going to specialize – that is the day that it happens. I even have some assistants that will take the sprinters and they will do something and I will take distance and IM’ers and we will do something else, but that is the only day that we really specialize and do specific strokes and where the whole set is one way. Then Thursday, Friday and Saturday – at least for the girls – that is our meet. We have a lot of times – three meets in a row and they give me grief and I say – well it is like NCAA’s – Wednesday, Friday, Saturday – we got three meets in a row and on those days we do not – we still train – we do not taper for dual meets – we only taper for meets at the end and during those practices I like to do a lot of easy fast stuff because I want them not to be sore.
I do not want them sore so the easy stuff that keeps them from getting too sore and I will emphasize then turns and streamlining and finishes because those are things that you forget to do and you have got to really practice – finishes are really important – knowing how to finish and the breathing pattern and all that kind of stuff is what we concentrate and they are not so much worried about how fast they are going, except on the fast ones they get going pretty good and then the easy ones they have got down real low. Then on Sunday – and that happens – workout on Thursday, Friday or Saturday and we do have workouts before our meets. On Sunday we have starts and turns. We do it only for an hour. The reason this came about is the kids felt better if we got in the water on Sunday and then Monday was not such a pain and so we bring them in – we do starts and turns and then we will play pom-pom at the end or something like that, but we only for an hour and we try to encourage – especially the kids that are not doing so well. We have had Michigan swimmers come over and help out and they even got into the pom-pom thing and that has really been a real beneficial thing for us, but it is something that we have kept and we have been doing it for a long time. We have morning workouts every morning – Monday through Friday – 6 o’clock. We go from 6 to 7:15 – school starts at 7:40 and these are all low-key. I don’t yell at them or I try not to – I write the workout on the board. They do it. It is always 4,500 yards and it is just do it – get out of there and then the girls have it made because they have – the parents bring in breakfast and parfaits and fruit and all kinds of that.
The boy’s breakfast consists of a bagel and juice and the captains bring it in and so they do not get it as well, but they take care of the bagels pretty well. One of the things that we do – it is called “Hell Week” or Hill Week. It lasts 23 workouts and it is a real intensive program. For our girls that starts Sunday – that is partly why I have to get back is because we are going to start our Hill Week starting this Sunday and we are going 23 workouts. It stemmed from the idea of Christmas workout with the boys because they could do all the workout – they didn’t have to do school work and stuff and so we did the Hill Week then and it has evolved a little bit. Originally it was 5 miles of workout 8,800 yards was what we went and then I noticed a lot of them were not doing the warm-up and we still had more time in the 2 ½ hours so it creped up to 9,300, it creped up to 9,500, 9,600, 9,700 – well if we are at 97, we might as well do 10 and so the boys this last year went pretty much 10,000 every workout. I don’t know that I am going to be able to do that with the girls time – the intervals are acute. If you do 10,000 you have to do a hundred 100’s on the average of 1:50 so our basic unit is 1:20 we get a little rest between each thing and so, but we can get it in – in 2 ½ hours – my girls come at a quarter to 5.
The hell week is the thing and I do really believe that kids can swim fast when they are tired and we emphasize that because we have some meets – we workout – but they are going to go fast and the other key is when they are doing a lot of yardage and I would say her average yardage – without hell week – hell week we just pour it to them and then some of the best swims are after hell week. Some of our best workouts are during hell week. The kids psych up for them – if I tried to eliminate hell week they would kill me. They don’t like it. The best thing about it is when it is over, but they really believe in it so we keep doing it, but I do think that kids can swim fast when they are tired and I try to emphasize that. They can get psyched up and I will talk about some swimmer they might have to race if I know it is going to be a tight meet. The workout design – I do know – then I am going to be done here – I try to have warm-up and we would have a standard 800 warm-up so that if I don’t tell you what to do you do an 800. You go to a meet – you do 800. And then I expect them to be ready to go fast – that isn’t going to happen so usually we do a warm-up set in practice and during the season I really tell them – you need to do more warm-up if you are really serious about going to fast. When we get down to the taper – we are doing an 800, but I do think that it is important that kids get into the habit of going fast right off the bat because that is what is going to happen at a meet.
Urbanchek – when I worked with him – he would do a warm-up set – a pre-set, kicking and pulling and by the way – his kicking and pulling was faster than our main sets so I mean – they were doing a lot of work, but all of the hard stuff was done at the end of the workout and I tried that with our kids and they couldn’t handle it. They couldn’t do it and they would not go fast at meets. Now Jon’s kids – the third day of NCAA’s – when the 200’s come around – don’t be close to him on the last 50 because that is the way that they have trained all year long – is the last thing in the workout is the fastest and I think that you can design your workouts and for high school events – they have got to go fast and they have got to go fast in the first event so I want them – especially during taper – when we are doing our taper sets – the 800 – the first one that they do – usually I am harping on them – well – apparently you are not warmed up and so they have got to make sure to take care of the warm-up, but anyway I think you can design the workouts the way you want the kids to swim and I think that is a part of the designing process.
Are there any questions? Thank you for inviting me here and I really – it is good to see a bunch of – I have two x-swimmers here and good to see – oh my God – there is another one – she was a diver – oh my goodness. Thank you very much.