Getting Club Swimmers to Nationals by Steve Morsilli (2000)


Coach Steve Morsilli is speaking on Coaching as a Second Profession and Getting Club Swimmers to Nationals. Coach Morsilli holds ASCA Level 5 certification in Senior Age Group and high School swimming divisions. He has been coaching for 30 years. Coach Morsilli graduated from Golden Gate University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and worked with the Federal Government in Cost Accounting/Financial Management from 1973-1985. He holds a California General Contractor’s license and started a successful construction business in 1985. He owns/manages several rental properties and also owns a very popular SwimAmerica program.   Coach Morsilli worked with age group swimmers from 1970-82, senior swimmers from 1982-present and he also coached high school from 1984-1995. He has coached in Pleasanton, CA, since 1975 in a grass roots program which averaged 70 swimmers in a six-lane, 25 yard pool from 1975-1997. In 1997, the City of Pleasanton completed its first 50 meter pool and the team size has since grown to 150+. Coach Morsilli had numerous swimmers achieve age group national rankings in the late 1970s. He has coached swimmers at the Junior Championships every year since 1984, the National Championships every year since 1985, and at every Olympic Trials since 1988. He has had multiple swimmers finish in the top eight at both Juniors and Nationals. He has coached Junior National Champions and top 16 finalists at Olympic Trials. Coach Morsilli has (at the time of this writing) three high school age swimmers qualified for the 2000 Olympic Trials with three more athletes (collegiate and post-collegiate) attempting to earn cuts. He is a two-time recipient (1996 and 1999) of the George Haines Senior Coach of the Year award. He currently serves as the Senior Vice-Chairman of Pacific Swimming and as a member of the North Coast Swimming Management Committee. He was a staff member for the 1991 (Los Angeles) and 1994 (St. Louis) Olympic Festivals, the 1995 World University Games (Fukuoka, Japan) and the 1998 National Team Distance Camp (Colorado Springs).  Coach Morsilli and his wife Julie have been married 25 years after meeting while swimming on the same team. They have three daughters, one son and live in San Ramon, CA.



First of all, my background. I started in clubs and then in 1975, and we started this generation of the Pleasanton Sea Hawks in 1982 with myself and two assistants and about 45 kids. Up until 1996 we averaged 65 to 70 kids, so the early years even though we were pumping out some pretty good kids, we are a very, very small team for our area. We are now at 150 people, because we have a new pool and we are very fortunate in that respect and we will be growing to about 170 this fall, because we are going to be adding another group.  I’ve been very fortunate to have kids at every trials since 1988.  We had four of them this last time, and we also have a lot of very, very novice very, very poor older swimmers entering our program.  High school age kids, junior high school age, like most of us, so we are definitely a grass roots program.


I’m not a power house by any stretch of the imagination, we are a lot like every other team in the world, except the biggies.  My senior group, girls, I want them to be 13 years old before they come in.  It doesn’t mean they come in as soon as they are 13, but I don’t want anyone younger than 13 in my group.  Boys, I want them to be in high school.  That is not the way we started with it, but I’ve become a little bit frustrated lately with boys in general at that age and their level of development so we are holding off until they get in high school and at least they are a little more mature.  I also have college kids in the group, kids who either come home from vacation on college, or they are staying home for a year from college.  So very much grass roots group, my group.


I’ve got B level swimmers in my group, A level swimmers all the way up to senior nationals and Olympic trials.  So when you get to the practices you will see a number of different send offs, the faster send offs is for the faster kids, the slower send offs for the slower kids, so again I’ve got a huge range in my group.


My group requirements.  They have to maintain an 80% minimum attendance to stay in the group and that is basically a minimum of two mornings a week.  Saturday mornings and five afternoons. We run more practices than that, but that is a minimum when they move into my group, they have to hold 80% of that.  It is not necessarily for everyone on the team and we make that very clear to them, they can be on the team, they can swim well, they can compete well in high school but that doesn’t necessarily be coming out of my group.  I have some very good assistant coaches, and it’s not just for the gifted kids like I said, I’ve got some very, very poor swimmers in my group who are willing to be there everyday and willing to do the work.  They just don’t have very much talent, or their talent lies elsewhere.


We swim two and a quarter hours in the afternoon, up to four mornings for an hour and forty-five minutes and Saturday mornings anywhere between two and a half and four hours and this changes a little bit.  Right now I’ve gotten away from the four hour practice on Saturday morning, we are actually coming in the afternoon, so we will actually go two hours in the morning and we’ll come in for another two hours in the afternoon, so I changed that around a little bit.


The group that feeds my group is our junior group.  Julie Boettler is a very good assistant coach.  She has been around for a long time and she has done wonders for my program.  She coaches basically 11 year olds through high school seniors.  In other words if they are in high school and they don’t want to commit to what I’m asking them to do to be in my part of the program, that is O.K. They can stay there, they can graduate high school there and they will still be pretty good swimmers.  So she’ got a big range. She’s got a great aerobic base, she gives them a little bit stronger introduction into my philosophies and again it’s B level, A level kids through far western finalists, pacific reportable times, national reportable times.  She goes two hours a night, no doubles, some Saturday mornings. Usually if she is going to come in on a Saturday morning it’s because we have a long course on Saturday mornings, and that’s about an hour and a half normally. Those who are getting ready to move into my group, and we try to identify them about six months early, we ask them to come in one morning a week.  Before they move they start to come into my group one morning a week so they get to know me, I get to know them, and they’re starting to get up in the morning and they are starting to learn about newer kids, the older kids.  Sometimes that’s intimidating for the younger kids to step up. That way they can do that in the morning and retreat to the safety of their group at night for the rest of the week until the following time. We have very, very few problems once they’ve been through that.


Down below that is our pre-junior group, and that’s Todd Tucker. He has been with our program for years and years. He coaches basically 9-14 year olds, again a very large range, larger than I would like, but it’s the real world folks. Again, from novice swimmers, all the way up to Q level which is our far westerns, which is kind of like a Junior Olympics. Very, very heavy on the instructional side. They are learning to train, it’s an hour and a half a night. Those kids are encouraged to be active in other sports, or active in other things. We don’t push attendance at that level.  As a matter of fact, most of the time we’ll have organized fun nights on Friday nights where we’ll throw a ball in the pool, and they’ll go play some ball games, they’ll do some relays, they’ll do something the last half hour, or the last hour, or sometimes the whole night for the younger kids. It’s supervised, but it’s fun. We want them to have fun, we want them to enjoy coming to the pool.


Next group down is the intermediate group, and I’ve actually got two coaches coaching that. One coach goes Monday, Wednesday, the other coach goes Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 9 to 11 years old. Again, a huge range from novice all the way through pretty solid Q level kids. Again, mainly instructional, it’s an hour at night, and they’re encouraged to be active in other things. My novice group is 6 to 10 years old, anybody who is 8 or under goes in the novice group. I don’t want an 8 year old swimming more than 45 minutes a night. Those kids do go 45 minutes a night, it’s offered 45 minutes a night. They don’t have to come each day, and as a matter of fact, we encourage them not to. It’s very, very raw, very, very instructional. Most of the time they don’t even know all four strokes when they enter that group.  We sit down and we talk to the parents about we think that it is real important that they are active outside of swimming. Then, recently we’ve done something that was real good for us. If the kids couldn’t swim a lap when they’d come for a tryout, I don’t know why they’d come for a tryout, but their parents would throw them in the pool, and these kids are drowning. We’d say, no they need to go to swim lessons, well we have a swim lesson program, or I do, that’s around the corner from the pool, but it’s summers only, so it wasn’t serving the needs all year long.


We started a pre-novice group which is basically younger kids who can’t swim. They can’t make it across the pool, and I’ve got one coach that comes in thirty minutes at a time.  We limit it 5 to 6 swimmers maximum to one coach so he’ll spend a half an hour, thirty minutes, with 3 to 5 swimmers, and then they go away and then the next 3 to 5 swimmers come in for the next half hour and then they go away, and then the next three to 5 swimmers come in for the next half hour. It’s a real, real low coach swimmer ratio.  There’s a lot of individual attention. The intent there is just to get them ready to move into the novice group, get them able to swim a lap of free, to get them able to swim a lap of backstroke, so they are not afraid to put their face in the water. These are kids we would have normally turned away, and we’ll have 15 to 20 kids additional on our roster that we’ve never had before, year round income, year round fund raising. Normally we wouldn’t have had that. If you’re not running something like that, it only takes one lane, and very little time. You might consider it, it’s been wonderful for us, and that’s an expanding and contracting thing. If there is only 6 kids involved in the whole program then it will just be half an hour. They will all come in at the same time, as soon as it grows to 8 kids, we are going to split it, and they are going to go four and four, as soon as it grows to 12 kids we’re going to split it again and there will be 3 groups. If we have to, we’ll go to four groups, I don’t care. We’ll service that and keep the numbers low, so that’s the way we’re set up.


General philosophies, I believe you’re underlying philosophy defines your program, they can also limit your program. If you don’t have a philosophy then you do have one, and that is not having a philosophy, so you need to decide what you want. Our philosophy is we’re gonna take care of any level kid that walks in our door. We can handle anything, from the kid who can’t swim, to the kid who wants to swim internationally. That’s our philosophy, if you want to come swim in Pleasanton you don’t have to leave to find any type of coaching that’s gonna benefit you. Again, I want an athlete who trains in our program to believe that we can take them as far as they are capable of going. We believe we have a place for everyone on our program. As a matter of fact that’s in our mission statement.


We also believe in a developmental view for swimmers. Swimmers in my group, swimmers in the senior group, no matter what we’re doing workout wise, or how many times they’re coming in a week, as far as I am concerned they are not at the end of their careers. I want them to go to college and continue to improve. Now, some of the kids that leave our program, go to a college that doesn’t have swimming and that’s okay, and they’re done. Some of the kids that leave our program are not very good swimmers, and that’s okay and they are going to go to a college that has a very good program, and they’re not going be able to swim, that’s okay too. If they are interested in swimming and they want to continue to swim, then I don’t want them to be at their absolute best when they leave me, I don’t want them to be run dry when they leave me. I want there to be room for improvement, and I want them to be positively expecting to get better when they leave. That’s philosophy number 2.


Hopefully they are not at the end of their careers. We’re known as a distance freestyle program nowadays, and we’ll talk about total yardage in awhile. It’s nothing compared to what you heard earlier, that’s for sure. We’ve had national rankings, we’ve had junior and senior national kids in all strokes, all distances.  The 2000 Olympic trials was the first time we had a distance freestyle swim at that level. Up until then I’ve had breaststrokers in Olympic trials that were coming out of a distance freestyle program, what’s considered to be a freestyle program.  I call it an aerobic program.  We do believe that distance freestyle, provides a good base, good aerobic base for all swimmers.  So that is an underlined philosophy, a great aerobic base for all swimmers.


We swim a lot of IM’s and we swim a lot of non-freestyle in workouts to develop each swimmer as fully as possible.   They will specialize in their training when they are older, but not loose contact with their other strokes. Everybody is going to plateau somewhere in their career, everybody is going to hit a little time when their times don’t improve quite as rapidly as they would like.  If they had been a freestyler for five years and they have nothing left to fall back on, that is a terrible and it is a coaching error. So you need to make sure that your kids are swimming other than their primary stroke, training other than their primary stroke, and racing other than their primary strokes.


The requirement for the senior group is 80% accumulative attendance with either 2, 3, or 4 mornings, plus Saturday mornings.  No other group on our team has attendance requirements and what I’ll do when we have our goal meetings early in the season and they’ll tell me what their goals are and we’ll discuss them a little bit, and I’ll say based on these goals I think you need to come in twice a week will be fine.  Or you probably need to make the jump to three mornings a week, or you need to come in four times a week for the more advanced swimmers who wants to swim internationally. I’m there all of those times anyway, it’s just those kids are held accountable for whatever we agree upon early on.  We always reward good attendance all the way across our team, including in my group, but it is not required until they’re ready to move into the senior group.  Our second largest award, at our awards dinner, is our attendance award.  We will award the best ten and under girl on the team attendance wise, the best ten and under boy, best 11/12 girl, best 11/12 boy, so you may have a ten and under girl from the intermediate group and a 11/12 girl from the pre-junior group winning, they don’t have to be in the same group, but this is the best attendance overall and they get this big old trophy and they love it.  It has nothing to do with talent, it has nothing to do with how fast they are, it just has to do with how willing they are to come down to the pool.


And a big philosophical, we define personal excellent individually. I get as excited for some kids for their first A time or AA time as I do for kids making their first junior/senior cut.  Because I know that is what that kid is capable of.  I know how hard that kid has worked to do that. I get kind of emotional from time to time, and you know, I’ll get a little choked up when I see a kid do something like that, because it’s neat, and that’s why they swim, and that is why I do this, it’s fun to watch them do things that they have never been able to do before, and I don’t care what the level is, I really don’t.


In addition to the key beliefs, we have a meeting early in the year where we talk about a time line from 0 to 80 years. What I tell the kids is, “you’re going to live an awful long time.” I should probably update it now because 85 or 90 is an average life span.  But, this is a very special time in their lives. I have them most of the time when they are in high school and I’ve got four years in their whole life, and that’s how much time they have to be an athlete, they don’t have to worry about house payments, they don’t have to worry about feeding kids, they don’t have to worry about cars, they don’t have to worry about supporting themselves, they barely have to worry about getting themselves to and from school, because more than half of that time their parents are doing it.  It is a real special time and I know that they believe they have a lot on their minds right then and they have all these complications and life is overwhelming and I know that it can seem that way, but this is their time to be an athlete, this is not their time to be a drug addict, this is not their time to be an alcoholic. That is all the time they have to really be an athlete and to be relatively care free, it is a very, very special time in their life and it is a very short time in their life.


For the ones that go on to college, but still is a very short time frame in their life, I call it their glory days. Bruce Springstein’s got a great song on glory days, that’s all they’ve got.  When they get past that and they look back, many of them are going to wish that they’ve done it differently.  I do, most coaches are former swimmers, and wish things would have worked out a little bit differently, they would have been in a little bit different program, they would have listened a little bit better, they would have had a little bit more talent, whatever, but you can’t go back.  Masters swimming is huge.  These are all people who would like to go back and some of them are in a certain respect by being in Masters swimming, but this is a very special time and I try to make sure that I pass that along to them, whether they believe that or not, I don’t know, but I believe it.  I miss it and I know they will when they get past it.


They need goals, if you missed the Jeff Goforth talk this morning, buy the tape, [read the article] the guy is awesome.  I’ve been listening to him for 20 years. I wish he was still doing his talks, and he just skimmed through some stuff today, that we used to spend 8 hours, or 16 hours on a two day seminar, it was just awesome stuff.  I’m going to write him and find out who is doing that stuff now, or e mail him, cause he’s obviously not.  Part of that whole thing is goals, they need goals.  If they are not willing to set them, you sit them down and require them to set goals.  I mail them a welcome back letter, as a matter of fact it’s already out, because we are going to get back into the water in a couple of weeks.  I mail them a little goal sheet, they are expected to fill that out on their break and bring it back in.  I ask for their favorite four events.  It’s real simple, favorite four events.  I don’t care if it’s their best or not, but the four events that they are most interested in, cause I need to know what they’re interested in not what I think that they’re interested in, and where they are at right now, and where they want to be in April and what it should be.  At the bottom of it I’ve got how many practices a week you think is necessary for you to do this, so I get an idea from them what they are willing to put into it and then we discuss those things individually.  So require them to have goals.  They don’t leave the pool the first day, they won’t get in the water, they won’t do anything, if they don’t have that ready.  I’ll just have some blanks there and they’ll fill it out right there.  Again, I mentioned this before, although there is a spot on the team for everyone and that is an underlined philosophy, it’s not necessarily my group, and that is O.K.. There is nothing wrong with that, they can still swim well and not be in my group.  We’ve had kids graduate high school and never touch foot in my part of the pool.


I think team traditions are important, in my group we have birthday relays that is about it, because I’m pretty involved in training. Whenever we have birthdays, if it’s your birthday you have to bring in treats for the group, cookies or cupcakes or whatever, and if they do that then we’ll have fifteen minutes of relays at the end.  Basically they are just sprinting and that is fine, it’s a great way to run sprints, cause that is what they do and they have fun and they think they are getting out of something, and they look forward to it and they want to know whose birthdays are coming up.  They want to know if their birthday is on a Sunday, can we do it Saturday or can we do it Monday, which day, so they plan ahead and they look forward to it.


My assistant coaches run this thing on Halloween, again not my group, but everybody comes in with a costume on, including them not me.  They come with costumes on and they parade around the pool and then they get in the water with their costumes on, if they are water proof costumes.  If not they bob for stuff and they go after candy, it’s a big deal.  It’s fun that is a tradition and they look forward to it.  Our Friday fun nights for the younger kids, those are traditions they look forward to coming in on Fridays because they know they might swim a little bit or they might just start right off the bat with games.  But those are all things that you want to establish for your program.  They can be anything, but the traditions for you program are important and your kids will look forward to them.


Certainly for my part of the group, one of my big beliefs is to be the best that you can be.  You need to do what most people don’t want to do, it’s that simple.  Most people are going to avoid doing things that are uncomfortable.  You not only need to do those things, you need to do them better and faster than anybody else who might be trying to do them.  So when you ask kids to do things that they are not used to doing, maybe they are not used to doing a 3,000 for time, maybe they are not used to doing whatever it is, 10 times 50’s fly, maybe they are not used to doing 1 50 fly, but to be the best that you can be you need to do things that most people don’t want to do. That is how you break away from the pack.  When I announce a set, if they don’t like it, it’s like hey, if you want to get better, step up. If you want to be with the pack just step back, it’s their decision.


Along with that is, it is inconvenient to be your best.  It really is, it means you’re going to have to get up in the morning, it means you may not have to miss the school dance on Friday night, but you might be late because you wanted to finish practice, or you might have to go with wet hair or you might have to be late because you have to go home and blow dry your hair like the girls do.  But that’s fine, but it is inconvenient, certainly it is.  The people who make time for it are better.  If you’re not willing to be inconvenienced then you’re not willing to be the best that you can be.   And that might be again, your first A time, or your first national time, but it’s going to be inconvenient, but if it’s easy it doesn’t mean anything, and if it’s easy you’re nowhere near your potential.


I think it is real important to swimmers to accept personal responsibility.  Goforth uses the term accountability, same thing. I will not see everything that they do, guaranteed with 25 to 30 kids in the water, I won’t see everybody every time.  I want them to be legal on every single stroke, every single turn. Our backstroke flags are up every time.  They are expected to be streamlining up the two black lines. I’m walking up and down reminding kids the more they do it right because of their own personal initiative the better they’re going to be.  It’s like telling your friends that you’re on a diet and then when you go out to lunch you order a salad but then you go back to your room and you have a banana split and some M&M’s and some chocolate chip cookies.  You’re not really on a diet and you’re not kidding anybody.


So that leads to the next one.  You are what you are when no one is looking and the kids need to understand that.  They are what they are when no one is looking. When I’m not looking how well do they practice? I am very, very disappointed with my group when I’m not on the deck, I’m extremely disappointed when I’m not on the deck, when I’m at juniors or at seniors and the kids that are there I don’t think they do a very good job of accepting personal responsibility.  I’m not necessarily proud of that, but that is the real world and that is the world I live in, so if that happens to you join the club.  It doesn’t mean that your kids can’t be successful, it doesn’t mean that your top group isn’t going to be successful, it doesn’t mean those kids that are home screwing around when you’re gone, aren’t going to be successful, but they are not going to be as good as they could be.  And that is what you have to try to impress upon them.  Again accountability.


We had a saying on the back of our t shirts one time, PRSO, and nobody knew what that meant.  Everybody was asking us what it meant and I didn’t say anything for a long time.  The kids knew what it meant but we didn’t say anything.  It meant, pain required suffering optional.  If you want to be the best that you can be, pain is required you are going to have to work hard, whether you chose to call it suffering or not it is your choice.  So it is a definition you can put on it.  So pain required suffering optional, that is your choice, it can hurt and you can call it suffering or you can call it fun and a challenge.


I try to get my swimmers to do whatever it takes  The minimum to stay in my group is 80% attendance and I’ve got a lot of kids that are right at 81%, and then they will be 100% for two weeks and then they will take an awful lot of time off.  Yes sir, I have done that yes, and they sign a contract coming in when they know that’s a possibility it says may, it depends on the circumstances, obviously an injury or something like that, and it also depends on how much room my assistant coach has. Believe it or not there are some logistic problems in there and if she is stacked up and I can’t move them back down, I’m not going to boot them off the team, but I won’t take them to travel meets.  There are consequences.  But, I’ll have a lot of kids that are right at 80% and they are going to complain like crazy if they don’t reach their goals, and I’m going to say look you put the minimum into it the absolute minimum and you got the minimum back out, you got better, but you didn’t get as good as you wanted to be. There was a lot more of the program that you could have taken advantage of. I’m a firm believer, even for the kids that come to practice everyday and this is a key thought and you really need to get this, everybody is willing to do this much.  However you define that much. Everybody is willing to do this much, every swimmer in the world whether they are coming to 80% or 100% they are willing to do that much, they are willing to hurt that much, they are willing to be that uncomfortable, they are willing to sacrifice that much, but it is the kids that do that much and that much more.  Those are the ones that step ahead of the pack.  That’s 2% that Jeff Goforth was talking about, but you got to be willing to do this, but you got to be willing to do this much more.  And for a kid that is 100% . They are busting their butt on everything that they’re supposed to do at 100%. They are swimming moderate when they are supposed to swim moderate.  They’re doing that extra 2% as opposed to another one who is coming 100% of the time but they are over in the slow lanes, they are going last, they are not challenging themselves, they are doing that much.  O.K. so it’s not just numbers it’s not just a number of percentage of attendance it’s what you are doing with it at the same time.  So everybody is willing to do that much, you need to get them to do that much more on top of it.


We are going to cover six key beliefs. Everything happens for a reason.  I’ve been coaching long enough and I presume that most of you have been coaching long enough that you’ll have kids do everything right for three or four months, they train great they come all the time, they are swimming fast times at practice swimming and best times at practice, you rest, you shave, they go to the meet and they fall on their faces.  Why, I don’t know, I really don’t know.  I tell them that, there is no reason for that, I can’t explain it, get past it, that is the only answer I have, I’m not going to make anything up because I really don’t know.  Unfortunately, at the same meet, you’ll have a kid that came to practice twice a week didn’t do anything right, screwed around, he goes to that meet and does all best times.  There is no reason for that either, and everything happens for a reason.  And the kids that are doing the right thing all the way through, they are going to get better, they are going to improve, and you’ll just have to give them that, from your experience, they will get better.


Everything happens for a reason. if they weren’t able to swim fast at that meet for whatever reason, and they did everything that you think they needed to do, you’re on their side. I’m at the end of that block, I’m at the end of that lane, if that kid finishes and it is not a successful race and I’m going to put my arm around that kid pat him on the back and say, “don’t worry about it, great job.” I’ll have a kid win at juniors and set a record and I don’t go to the end of the lane.  They feel good already, they don’t need me there.  But the ones that have done the work and it doesn’t workout for whatever reason, you need to be there. There is another thing that goes a long with that, if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger, so everything happens for a reason.


Now along with that there is no such thing as failure, there is only results.  That gets into this Jeff Goforth stuff on your reaction to the circumstances.  The reality to the situation is, you went to the swim meet and you didn’t better your time.  Does that make you a failure?  Maybe your turns were better than they have ever been before, maybe your back half was better than it ever was before, maybe your stroke was better than it ever was before, maybe your stroke was better, your legs were better, whatever you have been working on, there was something positive in there.  So you can’t allow them to put an emotional tag on a result.  You want them to get up on the blocks and be able to swim with a clear head.  There is no such thing as failure, only results, that is number two of six.


Take responsibility for your world, accept accountability.  I don’t have to go into that any further, you’ve heard that a number of times this weekend.  They need to be responsible for themselves.  Again, I’m not going to see everything, you’re not going to see everything, their parents certainly are not going to see everything, but their parents are going to be your face if they are not doing well if they are young kids.


Work is play. They need to come to practice excited, they need to come to practice looking forward to the challenge.  One of the things I’ll do if I’m upset with somebody, and I used to have something called the garbage lane, but I have gotten away from that.  One of my former swimmers has reminded me of that, but some kids just were not challenging themselves, they were not doing what I wanted them to do, so I would send them over in the end lane, and I think we had an hour left or something, and I said for the next hour you just 100’s on 1:30, they can do that all day long, it’s not hard.  Just go 100’s free on 1:30. They said, “what is the point,” and I said, “there is not point, I’m just keeping you busy.  I don’t care whether you go fast, you go slow do whatever you want, but you are just going to swim 100’s on 1:30, until we are done with practice.”  Less than ten minutes they got out, they were so bored because that is a very boring way to swim. So the point I was trying to make to them was, it’s the challenge that makes it fun. O.K. so work has to be play, what can you do today, what can you get done today, so it’s not just 10 100’s on 1:30 or 12 100’s or 20 100’s or whatever it is, what are you going to do with those?  Are you going to challenge yourself to go fast when you’re supposed to go fast, or are you going to challenge yourself to hold your stroke count. Whatever the emphasis may be, it’s the thought process that they go along with, it’s not just the laps.  They got that point, and in about 10 minutes, because they were bored stiff, but what they didn’t understand, the hour prior to that, they were doing the same thing, they weren’t doing what I was asking them to do, they were just swimming up and down and filling time, but they were just choosing to do that.  When I chose to make them do that they didn’t like it.  So work is play.


Last, there is no great success without great commitment.  I really believe that, and great success again is in quotations, whether it is your first A time or your first national time, there is not great success without great commitment.  So you need to be willing to do things you’ve never done before and that goes back to doing things that other people don’t want to do.


I think there is a ton of life lessons learned in swimming and I love the sport because of that.  I have a lot of parents come and talk to me saying my kids are never going to make junior, how do I tell them, how do I keep them in the program? My comment to them is that is not the value, the destination is not the value of our sport.  The value is in the journey and work ethic, in learning to be prompt. Nobody teaches kids to be prompt.  You have a ton of kids out there who have to go to detention because they can’t be on time after lunch. I mean that is pretty dumb to be five minutes late coming back from lunch and then spend all day Saturday at class at school, that’s just dumb. I don’t make it quite that easy on them if they are late, so they learn to be prompt, they learn to accept personal responsibility.  They learn leadership skills, they learn self reliance, they learn confidence, a positive self image, a ton of things.  Those are life lessons, those are the values that they are going to get out of our sport, not getting an A medal or getting to go on a airplane ride to go to Indianapolis, those are the values that are going to stay with them for a long time.  Those life values is what you push to the parents.  Cause that is the value of the sport.


I’m going to go through a training philosophy and then I’m going to show you a full week, ten workouts of what I consider to be an endurance phase, and a full week or work outs in an anaerobic phase which are a little bit more quality oriented.  But before I get there, thing to talk about and that is about Morsilli’s theory of relativity.  Whatever you’re working with, with a group of kids, whatever they thought was hard in the past, you need to make them understand that there are harder things that they can do.  So whenever they think something is hard if they think 10 100’s on 1:05 is hard, then we are going to go 12 or we’re gonna go 14, or we’re gonna go on 1:04 whatever they think is hard I’m going to change it and make it harder.  Or if they never thought that they could do a 1000 for time then they are going to go 2000 for time or 1500 for time.  You have to go in steps but you have to stretch them, you have to find out where their limits are, and then push those limits back, that is what being an athlete is about.  That is what being better and getting better is about.  So whatever they think is hard your gonna make it harder, redefine hard.  That is Morsilli’s theory of relativity, and I will remind them, I will say, “here you go, you just finished 10 100’s on 1:10, and six months ago you were struggling to finish 10 100’s on 1:20, so good for you.” I’ll constantly remind them of that.


I keep track of what they can do, and you need to do that and you need to redefine, and you need to make sure that you point out to them what they’ve done.  It doesn’t do any good unless they recognize it because, then when you tell them, that they’ve been on 1:10 and now there gonna go on 1:08 and then they’re gonna tell you they can’t do that.  “Sure you can. You couldn’t go on 1:10 six months ago, you were struggling on 1:20 and now you are going on 1:10.  You can go on 1:08 today, or at least give it a shot. You can make half of them, you can make three quarters of them, see what you can do.”  So stretch them.  That’s your job.


In my program we establish their threshold, whatever that term may mean to you — I will explain what it means to me — we establish their threshold and we use their threshold and we use their heart rate extensively in my program, because it helps to individualize a huge range.  Like I said, I’ve got from B kids to trials qualifier.  Some of those trial qualifiers can go all those workouts and all those sets and some other swimmers can’t.  They are swimming in the middle lanes or they are swimming on the other side because she is a sprinter and she is not going to be able to do that, or she is coming off injuries, or whatever.  But, for all of them we will establish their threshold.  What I use is a T 30, and we go a timed 3000.  I’ll count laps for them, I’ll split the group in half. We will go every three weeks, we’ll swim about four or five of them a year.  Number 1, it is a nice long swim and we don’t do a 10,000 for time, we don’t do any of those things, but I’ll do a T 30 and I’ll tell them when it is coming I’ll tell them next Wednesday is T 30, if you don’t want to be here, don’t be here I don’t want you clogging up the pool, but what we do when we are done with that.  I use that as a measure of their threshold.  The level, and I’m assuming that they’re giving an honest effort, cause that is critical if it’s going to be valuable, that they are giving an honest effort, basically going as hard as they can for that T 30 and still being even.  In other words it doesn’t do any good if they start off in a minute for their first 100 and end up at 2 minutes for their last 100 cause they just killed themselves, it should be as evenly paced as possible and it takes a little practice to do it.  Maybe the first time you go 1000 and you watch their splits and make sure they’re even and then the next time they go 2000 if they’re not used to that. But by the time that they have come into my group, they’ve done T 30’s in Julies group and she has to worry about breaking them into it. It is a simple division then, to get the time that they are averaging.  If they go 30 minutes then they are averaging 1:00, and that is what they are averaging.  So if we’re going 200’s on 2:30 and I want them to go three medium, three at threshold, three medium, three at threshold and they’ll know they can go 2:25 on three mediums but on the threshold I want them to be at 2:00 minutes.  If they can hold that for 30 100’s in a row, they can certainly hold that for 2.  And then we will go T minus 2 or T minus 1, which is threshold minus 1 or threshold minus 2 per 100.  So if it is T -2, that means I want them to hold 1:56, that is two seconds per 100, or if it is T+2 then I want them to hold 2:04.  Once you have a threshold time on them, you’re telling them the threshold level at which you want them to swim.


You also have to correlate that with heart rates though.  We do a lot of work with heart rates early on and I know some coaches say don’t worry about heart.  Hey it gets the message across to the kids in my program.  Maybe my kids are all dumb, I don’t know, or maybe they were all born in 1950 I don’t know, I hope not, I hear it is old fashioned, but it works for us.  We spend a lot of time on heart rates. We just go six seconds, cause you just add a 0 and it is easy and a lot of times very honestly, my kids aren’t on the wall for full ten seconds to get a ten second heart rate.  So we will go for six seconds and early in the season they are gonna understand that if they are 12 to 14 beats in 6 seconds that is pretty relaxed, if they are 14 to 16 beats, that is decent, and if they are 17 up to 20 or 21 that is pretty high.  That fluctuates, that is individual.  You will have some kids that are working their butts off, and they can’t get above 16. Those kids with a big old heart like that are going boom, and their head swells up. That’s good, those are usually good athletes. The ones with the lower heart rates — some of the little, tiny girls, the little skinny girls they have little rapid hearts, you look at them and they are at 17, you learn that and they need to learn what their ranges are. They are always going to have good days and bad days, you always correlate.  When they are swimming their threshold times, as far as I’m concerned, I want them to be 16, 17 range maybe one beat on either side of that, 16 to 17 beats if we were swimming thresholds.  If we are doing that set of 200’s I’d say O.K. I want you to hold 2 double 00 on those but I want you to check your heart rate.  If you are 16 or 17 or one beat either way, fine if you are 21 slow down, because today that is not your threshold, maybe you didn’t get any sleep last night, maybe you’re getting sick, maybe you are stressed out about a girlfriend or boyfriend, or studying or whatever so slow down, get your heart rate down into that range. Maybe that means today threshold for you is 2:04 that’s O.K., but go on your body.  If on the other hand the threshold is getting ready to improve because we did our last T 30 two and a half weeks ago and they are ready to improve and they are holding 1:58’s and their heart rate is 14 it’s like fine, bring it up a little bit you can go faster, you’re ready to drop.  That just means that they are ready to drop on the next T 30 and that’s O.K. but it is a day to day thing.  It will depend how hard the last night’s workout was or this morning’s workout.  So you need to monitor both, and it’s not just time and it’s not just heart rate, they have to go together.


Our season plan:  In the fall we build two to three weeks. We get in late, we get in September 25, because I need time away and I take that time away.  In the fall we take two to three weeks to do a lot of stroke work.  It’s not how fast they go it’s how well they do it, so that’s my time to make a lot of points on technique.


(question inaudible)  I take four weeks off.  As far as I’m concerned this is a work week because I’m away from my family, I’m away from my other employment, this is a work week.  I take four weeks.  Olympic trials ended August 17, so you just count the days on the calendar, or the weeks on the calendar, and I take four weeks. I go back Monday September 25th, now that doesn’t mean I’m not doing swimming work, I’m doing team records, I’m doing awards dinner stuff, I’m planning for the season, I’m doing that but I’m not going to the pool.  I just need to be away from the pool and away from the parents for a while.  That means some of the kids, the kids that finished up at junior nationals a week early, they have more time out, they have a lot of time out, and that’s O.K. I’m going to let them be kids.  I encourage them to stay active.  They’re encouraged to go to the pool two or three times a week if they want to swim 1,000 or 2,000 yards just easy on their own.  They are encouraged to do a little bit of running, tae bo, go to the gym, I don’t care, but be active.


When we start up we go 3,500 or 4,000 yards the first day all real light stroke work stuff and drills and we’ll just move up from there.  That is a long time and that is a little bit unconventional.  A lot of teams just take two or three weeks or just one week.


(Question inaudible) I got a track record and I can back it up at least from my situation so that helps me, but I need my four weeks and it’s in my contract four weeks and I’m going to take my four weeks.


O.K. so it’s not how fast that they are going in that build up period, but how well they are doing it, number of strokes, how well they’re changing any stroke techniques I want them to change.  Morning start up the second week back so the first week, it’s afternoons only and the second week we start our mornings and after that first two to three weeks we’ll go three to four weeks of an endurance phase.  Our first T 30 will be during that time, the next two to three weeks dependent upon when the U.S. Open is or whatever meet we’re going to in December, we will do a slight anaerobic shift. We will do a little bit of quality work and then we will taper for a week to two weeks, just kind of a back off thing and we will shave in December.  I’ve always done that, I like that, I think it gives the kids a report card as to where they are.  They are not necessarily national level kids, they are not necessarily going to do best times although sometimes they do, but they need to be right on those times.  If you have a kid whose best time is long course 200 fly maybe 2:20 for a girl, if she goes to the U.S. Open and goes 2:21, 2:22 that’s fine, that’s reasonable.  We haven’t done any speed work or very little speed work we are only 2 ½ months into the season, but if she is 2:30 we have a problem here that we got to address. It’s a workout problem or a speed problem or whatever.  So it’s kind of a report card, that December meet.


The younger kids, the ones that aren’t as experienced, I think they benefit from having that extra shave, and we shave a lot and we’ll talk about that later on.  They benefit because they know what a shave feels like.  I learned how much rest they need, because it is different for different kids, so we will do that. After that meet then, we will build up a week after a taper, and then we will go four to six weeks endurance phase.  That’s December and January.


Then we’ll go three to four weeks anaerobic shift which is quality emphasis and then we will taper for either far Western, junior, seniors, whatever is in that late March time frame.  Some of the kids in my group choose, especially if they are at the far Western level or lower if they are not quite Q times which is like a JO time, they will choose not to rest right then and they will wait until after high school.  Our California high school is really late, we finish up May 24th and that is pretty darn late.  I’m in an area where we need to shave our kids for that high school championship and that is an extra shave and I don’t necessarily like that and I wouldn’t do that if I had my druthers but I don’t because it’s a heavy recruit for us. Some of them just choose to wait until then, other’s will shave for juniors and then shave again in May. Maybe they won’t rest quite as much, maybe they will only rest a couple of days, maybe the higher level ones, or maybe if they just missed the junior cut or they just missed the far western cut and they want to try again and then we will go into a full shave there.


From there, we kind of slam right into a summer endurance phase because we are basically into the summer and then about four weeks out we will go to a quality phase and then we taper again for the summer championships.


At the end of this article is a nice little chart supplied by U.S. Swimming. I don’t use it but you might.  But it helps, it looks good, it helps define some of the terms that some people use.


My workouts are 99% accurate. That’s what I wrote for that day and that’s what I keep in my log.  I’m a pretty compulsive guy and I’m a pretty anal guy, but I don’t go back and adjust what for what I adjusted because I adjust so many things for so many different individuals. I know what I do for my base workout and I know how I’m going to have to adjust that for any number of different individuals.  So what you are going to see is what I wrote, like I said it’s 99% accurate, but not every kid did that and there may have been some slight adjustments in there.


Our workouts include 120 pool pull ups.  I was at a pool for a long time where we couldn’t do those, but at our new pool you put your hands up on the deck and pull yourself up — we do 120 of those every night and 60 every morning.  We do that during warm up so when we are doing warm up they’re doing ten pull ups after each 50 or whatever.  Or 20 after each 100 or however it works out, but that’s just a little bit of strength.  I was doing that way back when I coached little kids in the70’s.


Our dryland program is optional, you have heard a lot about dryland here and I heard a lot about dryland here and if I had a weight room it would be awesome. I’m outdoors in Northern California, we do not have a weight room and not only that, we don’t even have any storage area, so whatever we do we have to be able to put it somewhere, and bring it out. We have a little 4X8 plywood shed, that is our storage, that is what we are allowed.  So I’ve got my briefcase in there, 47 raincoats, umbrellas, a towing machine, brochures to hand out to new parents but I don’t have a lot of room.  If we’ve got medicine balls or something like that I got to make sure that I’ve got a place to store them so I’m real limited on that.  Our optional dryland includes, running, situps, push ups, stretch cords, some medicine balls.  That is usually 50 to 60 minutes after practice, it depends on what day of the week and what we are doing that day. One day we will do most of the exercises and one day we will just kind of stretch and run, and it all takes 50 to 60 minutes.  I do not require that, if they want to do that, great if you don’t want to do it fine go home to your homework.  again that is personal accountability.  The better ones do it.


The other thing that you are going to see on these work outs and I just want to qualify that a little bit, most of the send offs, the harder send offs are for junior and senior national level girls.  I’ve just had a real bad group of boys, we’ve talked about boys, not a real bad group but a real developmental group of boys.  Last year I didn’t have any boys at juniors.  This year we finished up with three of four at juniors, 100 freestyle at 45 something, yards, and 21 in the 50 at a distance freestyle program.  Breaststroker did real well, 100 and 200 breast, finaled at long coursed juniors; 800 freestyler, but I didn’t have that last year when I was ready.


I like coaching girls, I really like coaching girls.  They are able to train at a much higher level.  It’s not that I dislike coaching boys, I just don’t like it when they are not tough, and a lot of times boys at that age are not real tough and maybe that’s a personal problem I have, but now we are finally getting some tough boys, they are getting to be junior and seniors in high school and they are toughening up.  We also had a post graduate boy come home to try to make Olympic trials this April and he did wonders for the guys in the water.  Just his example, just male leadership, incredibly important.  They moved a long very quickly this summer and I’m real pleased with that, so hopefully some of these send offs that you are going to are going to be a little bit tougher next year. But just recognize that on these workouts, these are girly send offs.


(inaudible question) Only for my group, my group will be the only one that will be getting my dryland program.  Julie might want to run some calisthenics from time to time, but that is separate from mine.


Any other questions? Why do I make it optional, because basically it’s a pain in the ass if they don’t want to be there and I have to baby sit them.  I shouldn’t say that here but, I don’t want to baby sit them, because they are usually going to be screwing around.  They’re usually gonna be distracting the people that want to get something done.  I have a limited amount of equipment, a limited amount of space. If I’ve got 3 stretch cords and they’ve got to be rotating between med balls, stretch cords, push ups, sit ups and somebody is clogging up the stretch cords, just dinking around, I don’t need that, so if they don’t want to be there they can leave, and if somebody’s usually pretty good about it and they’re dinking around that day I’m gonna just say leave, go home, you’re not here today, you’re not really here so go home.


Back to the workouts.  [workouts are printed out at the end of this article]  I’ve got basically four warm up sets.  They’re either going to go 12 50’s, 6 100’’s , and you’ll see this on the other slide, on any given day of the week, 3 200’s or 4 150’s , it’s basically a 600, I’m not going to spend a whole bunch of time on that.  They’re just gonna get in there, gonna talk a little bit, I try to put it on a send off, to try to get it done in a reasonable amount of time, they are going to work their pull ups into that.  We have kind of a funny situation, we go long course in the mornings, that is the only time we go long course.  We go long course all year round. The morning is the only time we get long course, including in the summer, because the pool is used heavily enough in the evenings that we have to go short course.  If Julie’s kids come in they go long course, it doesn’t matter whether it’s September, January or June, if it’s in the morning we’re going long course.  If it is in the evening, middle of August or early August, right before we leave for Olympic trials, if it’s in the evening it’s short course. I don’t have a choice, so all our morning workouts are long course, all of our afternoon workouts are short course yards, 25 yards.


We have to go pretty early in the morning, we start our practice at 4:30, actually 4:25 and we get out at 6:15. I have kids that have to travel and be at school by 7:15, even getting out at 6:15 I’ve got kids that need to be out early, I don’t like that but that’s just what I have to live with in my area. I’ve been doing that for years, so they are expected to be in the gate at 4:00 they have to uncover the entire 50 meter pool, switch all of the ropes from short course to long course, and then be in the water by 25 after 4:00 so they can work their 50’s or their warmup whatever it is and their pull ups in to the first ten to fifteen minutes, I want to be ready to start at 4:40.  Now these are from January, so we are already in shape and you need to read these down. You need to read these send offs down. We are going to go five times through a 100, 200 and 300, O.K. the 100’s on 1:25 for one group, for 2:50 for the 200 and 4:15.  I want them to hold threshold all the way through, so they have to do a little conversion between short course and long course, because we have short course threshold.  So they need to convert a little bit and they need to watch their heart rates, but that gives them the range that I want them to be, and that is pretty solid work.  The other group is not quite so strong maybe, they’re going on 1:33 minutes and 4:30. If I’ve got kids that can’t make that then I’ll have another lane going on 1:40, 3:20 and 5:00 minutes if necessary. So we start with 100, 200, 300 five times through, then we’ll go paddles 20 100’s, alternating four  50 free, 50 breasts, then four 50 free, 50 choice and those will either be on 1:30 for one group of kids or all on 1:40 for the next group of kids. That’s not particularly hard.


Then we’ll kick with fins. I try to do weird stuff in the morning. We have a towing machine when it works that we use. We’ll do fins in the morning. We rarely do that at night so we try to do the extra things in the morning just to get them interested in being there in the morning and to be a little bit special in the morning.  Kick 14 75’s choice on 1:10.  They just stop in the middle of the pool, I don’t like to be locked into 50’s and 100’s and 150’s. That gets real boring, even though we do different stuff at night, it gets boring in a long course pool, so we’ll do 75’s, we’ll do 125’s we will stop in the middle of the pool.  It doesn’t bother me.  We will go 100 easy at the end, and that is about 6700 meters.


And then that night we’ll come back with 6 100’s choice and again they will work in 10 pullups after each 100.  They’ll be on 1:30, or 1:40 or 1:50 whatever I can do to get the pullups in, and then we’ll go three times through, one 400 backstrokes with pull boys and paddles, PB and P, 1 300 freestyle kicking and that’s just kicking with no fins and then 1 300 breaststroke with paddles only. P is paddles only and they’ll need to be on six minutes, 4:45 and 4:45 for the faster send offs, or 6:30, 5:15 and 5:15. That’s just to kind of get them ready.


Then we’re gonna do a little bit of a speed set, 28 75’s, 4 on 1:10 moderate effort and 4 on 1:50 that they are going fast and I’m logging them. That is not a whole bunch of rest, it’s about one to one roughly.  We’ll go down the lanes and we’ll tell them which stroke I want them to do.  The shorter ones like that is a good opportunity for the flyers to go fly, you can do stroke, you can do freestyle, but they are expected to go fast there.  I’ll log those and we’ll keep track of those.  It’s a funny thing, you know you’ll tell them to go fast, and they’ll look at you and they’ll say yeah, and you pull out a piece of paper and you say I’m going write down your times and then they think they need to go faster.  So whenever I say we’re gonna do 4 medium, 4 fast they ask if I am going to log them, well yeah, I’m going to log them. What do I do with it? I mean I put it in my brief case, now I do go back to them, but I don’t publish those, I do publish some things but I don’t publish those, but it’s important to them that you write it down, so write it down on a piece of binder paper, so write it down.  And then we actually kick with fins that night, six 150’s choice, on 2:30, 2:40 or 2;50 again, depending upon how fast they are, 24 25’s on 25 two easy one fast and they mix up the fast ones.  I like to do something fast, a lot little short sprint things it doesn’t really wear them down. Even as back as far as Doc Counsilman they talked about stay in contact with your speed.  100 easy and that is 7300 yards.


Tuesday mornings long course again, 12 50’s kick with fins, 16 100’s a little bit longer kicks that morning, 4 on 1:40, 4 on 1:30 and they mix those however they like. Then we came back with four 150’s three times through, so you go 4 150’s one IM and one choice and then they would go 2 50’s fast your choice, so they would come down this way and they would go 150 IM, fly back breast, a 150 choice and then IM, choice, IM choice cause there are four 150’s and then 2 50’s fast at the end and they go three times through that whole set. They should be able to go fast on a minute, but they need to get up and go fast in the morning. If you don’t go fast in the morning you don’t make finals. Sometimes you miss a great swim, if you don’t make finals. And then paddles 18 100’s on 1:40 last 25 fast and they mix those up. Sometimes I’ll tell them IM sequence, sometimes I tell them one breaststroke, one your choice. For the purposes of writing this up I just said mix it.


Tuesday night, is short course yards, 6 100’s, 12 300’s and this is where we will do some threshold stuff, 12 300’s, 2 medium and all 12 would be on 3:45, or for the next group all 12 would be on four minutes or all 12 would be on 4:15. If that doesn’t work on your program make it 200’s, make it 250’s. I might have some kids that can’t do this so they will do 250’s instead of doing 300’s. They’ll do 250’s so they’ll be leaving, I know when they are suppose to leave, I know about how much rest they’re getting. but I know they can’t make that send off, but I don’t have another lane to give them, so they’ll just go 250’s when the other kids are going 300’s that is fine, just make it work.  But on these I want to hold the threshold, so again whatever the current threshold is, whether it’s 1:05 then they should be holding 3:15, if their current threshold is a double zero then they should be holding three minutes.  But they need to correlate it with their heart rate.  That is not an easy way to swim, it should be manageable but it’s hard, it’s uncomfortable, but they need to swim at that level a lot I think.  Paddles 38 50’s any non free, mixing but count their strokes. We do a lot of stroke counting early in the season. My better kids know, 200 meter IM, they know how many strokes that they are suppose to take on fly, how many strokes they are suppose to take on back, how many on breast, how many on freestyle.  We are using some tempo things, some aqua pacers, so I know about how long each stroke is suppose to take and we will train a lot at those levels, but what they have control over is their stroke count. If they are not swimming fast in practice the first thing I’m gonna ask them is how many strokes they take.  Short course or long course they need to know their average stroke count and then you work on that, you work on their efficiency and it is going to be different for each kid and so we are going to go that paddle set.


And then we are going to go 4 25’s on 25 fast and I’m logging that, that’s a broken 100 and I want to log that as a broken 100 so it gives them a chance to get up and swim fast and have a point to swimming fast.  So if they are averaging 11 seconds, that’s 44, great, I write down 44.  And three 50’s on 45 easy and we’ll go twice through that. I think it’s important that they get tired and then go fast. You hear that a lot, you see that a lot, that was one of the things that Rich Benner was even talking about, although a lot of people probably didn’t catch it, because he does workouts which are just huge, and just, go, go, go, change, switch, do this, but he is always mixing in fast stuff.  A long time ago, Mark Schubert in the clinic stood up and said get them tired and then get them to go fast.  Anybody can go fast when they are fresh, get them tired and go fast, if they are going to be fast at the end of the race, fast on the last 25, fast on the last 50 of the 200, they’ve got to be used to being fast when they are fatigued.  So you have to throw fast stuff in at the beginning of the practice and at the end of practice. You are going to see a lot of dives at the end of practice on this. But there was a reason that I was doing that, I didn’t do that as well this year and I don’t think we are quite as good because of it, although we did have a very good year.


Next, you’re going to kick 16 75’s, 4 on 1:20, 4 on 1:10 for one group of kids, 1:25, 1:15, 1:35, 1:25.  I hate to just give them a send off, and have them kick straight I think that’s boring, or swim straight or whatever. I’m always getting them to think about something, if it doesn’t say something up there then they have individual things.  One kid might be thinking about coming under their body, one kid might be thinking about pushing through, one kid might be thinking about breathing every third, one kid might be thinking about streamlining the two black lines because they don’t do that well.  So there is always things that you make them think about, don’t let them swim and not think.  Then we are back to broken 100’s again, 4 25’s on 25 fast.  Log it.  Then 3 50’s easy.  So I am repeating that and then 8 50’s two easy and then one breath control, just cause it is good that they hold their breath, we don’t do that very much anymore.  We just use the old time speedo paddles, yellow or pink, at night, in the morning sometimes I’ll bring out some of the stroke masters or some of those weird darth vader things, but just because it’s different and I usually have that and I’ll give it to them just cause I want to make it different.  They have to have in their equipment bag, a pull boy, a kick board and fins, and then I’ll supply all of the weird stuff.


I was going as much of an overload as I could and we swim two hours and fifteen minutes at night and on Wednesday nights, again this was a year ago, I wanted to go at least 10,000 yards, just because it sounded nice and I wanted to beat them and again it was the theory of relativity.  If I can get them to function for 10,000 yards on a Wednesday night and they know that’s the most that they are going to have to do all week long.  They’re not going to be worried about an 8,000 yard workout the other four days, they’re not going to be worried about a 8500 yard workout, they’re not going to be worried about a 9,000 yard workout.  If they are, I just say, what are you talking about we went 10,000 on Wednesday, sometimes that got up to 11,000.


This particular workout, this was a good one actually, this was a hard one, and again this is for girls, girly stuff, for freestylers. over here on this side, 3 500’s on 5:45 and then they went right into 10 100’s on 1:05, 3 500’s on 5:30 and then 10 100’s on 1:10, rest a minute and do it again.  That is a long set, basically you got done with that you got up and you did a dive, time, swim, when they’re tired they don’t think that they can do anything else. get up and swim fast.  Dick Jochums used to do that a lot. I swam with him one year when I was a college freshman, I had no idea what I was doing, the only thing I remember, this is before he got famous, the only thing I remember about that is he would get us up and dive us right in the middle of practice, I had no clue why he was doing it, but we swam fast.


So we’ll get up and we’ll dive and I’ll make sure that we did a lot of that stuff last year, and the hardest workout I could give them, or at the end of a real challenging practice, even if it wasn’t a long practice like that, we get up and we dive.  I post the times the next day, not necessarily the fastest, the slowest but percentage in relation to their best time, so if you had a kid whose best 100 free was 1:05 and they went 1:06, they are very close to their best time. If I’ve got a girl whose best time is 52:00 in the 100 and she went a 1:00 she is way down. And when her name comes up on the bottom of the list she is pissed, I mean she is upset.  They don’t like that, they don’t like that and I tell you the kids that aren’t very experienced and the kids that aren’t usually at the national level really have a better chance to be doing best times, because they are still on a huge improvement curve, and so it is almost weighted to get those kids up to the top.  They wait for me to publish those things, so it’s not just a list of times, it’s in relation to their best times, so do a little math there and publish that the next day and they wait for that to come out. The first thing that they do is they go to their box and they check it.


Then they go the 200 easy so basically that set that 3 500’s, 10 100’s, 3 500’s, 10 100’s twice, that is their whole practice that is two hours and fifteen minutes on that night.  And some freestylers are over here on this set of sendoffs, some freestylers are over here, and some backstrokers are over here, or actually backstroke and IM’ers over here and breaststrokers over here, they do the 500’s freestyle on one of these send off’s which ever send off they can handle but then the backstroker IM would be on 1:15 or 1:20, or their breaststroke would be on 1:30, 1:35, so you make the set wok for your non freestylers, cause you want to overload.  The intent here is to obviously overload that night, so you want to overload some stroke also.


Thursday morning after a Wednesday night like that we come back with 12 50’s, 36 25’s, two fast four easy, just to kind of get some soot blown out, kicking with fins 28 50’s, 7 non free, and then 7 freestyle on 45, 16 1:50’s, four medium, four holding threshold.  That is not going to be real hard, but they are going to have to strain a little bit, but it’s going to help flush, I think that it’s real important that after a real high effort set, or a high effort evening, that they are able to flush a little bit. They need to swim at a decent level, it’s not easy swimming, you can either flush the lactate out of your system, the byproducts in your blood, that are trapped in your blood stream, you gotta get that out of there and you don’t do that by swimming easy, so we come back with something like, and we don’t have any time at night to do more than that, but I have to be careful the next day, we come back and they try to hold threshold and we watch their heart rate on all of these to be on 2:10, 2:20 or 2:30. We go 30 25’s again two fast, four easy, that doesn’t hurt them.  It’s a whole different energy system, but again you have to force them to swim fast when they are tired, and then 100 easy, total 6150 meters.


Then Thursday night, again not a huge difference here, 16 25’s on 30 easy fast mix, 18 200’s (this is kind of a very standard set for us,) for short rest up.  I like that stuff.  The fastest lane goes, 3 on 2:20, 3 on 2:30 and then 3 on 2:15, so they get a little break in the middle but pretty solid here. That is not a real fast set of send offs.  That group, because it was coming after a Wednesday night, that group can normally go probably 2:05 on repeats.  That is not a real hard send off but that is going to keep them honest and again help them flush.  The next lane over goes 2;25, 2:40 and 2:20, 2:35, and then you have kids over here that are going 2:45 for the fast one, rest a minute and then go through it twice.  6 50’s drill swim and then paddles 26 100’s, 3 back, 3 breast, 3 IM, 100 easy, 9700 yards.  Basically just keep them moving and help swim off the night before.


We come back Friday morning, 12 50’s, warm up again with your pull ups , 14 75’s on 1:10 rotating a 25 fast, 60 50’s on 45:00, 2 freestyle distance per stroke breathing every 5th, so they are just stretching out feeling good, working on their breath control and then one IM sequence that is not real hard that is just doing other strokes. Paddles, 3 times through this which is 4 100’s free, hold your breath for the first 4 strokes and then 4 25’s fast mixing on 30, and 100 yards easy and then 6250 for a total.


And then to finish the week, we’ll come back Friday, 6 100’s is choice, paddles 8 250’s one back, one 50 free, 1 50 free 25 fly, again working down this way from the different send offs, 24 100’s, 3 and 3, 1:30 and 2:15. When they know they’re going 100’s on 2:15 they know that it is time to go fast and you want them to swim as fast as they can go, they are going to be a little bit broken down, but that is fine, but you are constantly trying to get them to go as fast as they can go, hold as close as they can hold to their best times.  6 75 distance per stroke to kind of loosen up a little bit after that, 2 choice, 2 free, 2 any non free, and then come back with a kick set. Their arms get kind of stiff, so we come back with 24 50’s on 45, 2 easy one fast and again trying to come back with something fast after they are a little bit tired.


Saturday morning, this isn’t a real long Saturday morning, 6 100’s choice, 32 25’s on 30:00, 8 with the first 10 fast, 8 with the last 10 fast. We do a lot of that or we will do 20 10’s on 20, just real short explosive stuff.  I think that it is real important that they get up and swim faster than they are ever going to be able to swim for a 25.  A lot of people use sprint assisting devices, stretch cords pulling them forward or towing machines, or whatever.  They need to be able to get up and generate speed for ten yards.  It’s not that hard, it takes 2 to 3 seconds, so you can mix them into 50’s like that, sometimes I’ll mix them into 100’s. Sometimes we will just 10 10’s on 20 fast, and they work on finishes, they work on streamlining and pop up and carry their speed off the wall.  20 100’s, five non free on the way down, freestyle on the way back and then five freestyle, 1 35 and 1 25 or the slower group goes over here. 4 200’s on six minutes.


Usually on Saturday mornings they know that we are going to get up dive. They know that, I have to pick up the blocks change them from short course to the long course end. I get our beeper out, our starting system, and we will do that on the beep. We’ll log that, we’ll publish that, we’ll put a lot of pressure on that, so that is a real high quality thing. You can’t do that real often, we usually do that on Saturday mornings.  Pretty much all year long we are going to go some type of a dive log thing every Saturday morning. They know it’s coming, they don’t know how much is coming but they know it’s coming.  Then 3 100’s is drill swim on 1:50 to loosen up a little bit, 8 175’s 2 free, 2 non free, each 175 is a 100 pull, 50 kick, 25 swim just to keep them changing equipment a little bit. For a while I was doing logging some kicking sets so we wouldn’t dive on those but it would be, 4100’s on five minutes, their best stroke and then log it.  I’ve got some kids in my group that it took five minutes to kick 100 meters freestyle.  That is pretty pathetic, they are bleeding from the ears and their eyebrows are sweating so they are going pretty hard and if that is the best they can do, then that is the best they can do. So you log it, 4:59, great, but there are other ones obviously that are doing a pretty good job and that, but I think it’s important, somebody else said if it is important to swim all the different energy systems, it’s probably important to kick and pull them also and we’ll do a lot of sprinting with paddles and we do some quality kicking, so that’s what I’m getting at there.  I think it is important to expose them to it. Then we went 5 300’s on 5:30 all of them would swim a 100 IM, kick 100 choice, swim 100 choice, again just to change it around make them think. 16 50’s on 52, 100 fast and 100 easy.    Total for the week is 82,000 yards, which is nothing anywhere near Rick Benner, but it gets the job done for us.


Now that was for the endurance phase.  For the next set of workouts, the quality phase, you’ve got the terminology down. The difference you are going to see on the quality phase, on probably Monday, Wednesday, Friday nights is what we were doing back then, you are going to have a lot more quality sets.  And that is the emphasis during that time of the year. We still do the dive sets on Saturday, but you have to get those kids anaerobically challenged during that time of the season, where you are getting them up and you’re asking them to swim pretty fast, as fast as they can on one to one rest. This is obviously way more than one to one rest, it is a different energy system. Look it up on the chart, but it is a different type of training and you can’t do that very often.


(inaudible question) At this time of the season, I would hope that threshold or faster for the straight swimming stuff, probably 60 to 70% for the straight swimming set. Now the pulling will be a little bit easier, unless I have emphasis on pulling that night. But quite a bit of the swimming is going to be at or around threshold. That is why I want to know what it is, if it’s easier than that, they are flushing, but if they don’t have anything to flush it’s not going to do me any good.  But there are other times when the send offs will require them to be there.


(inaudible questions) If it says paddles or P, then it’s paddles only, if it says PBP then it is pull boys and paddles, but yes it’s pulling.  Afternoon is 3:45 to 6:00.  And then I try to start dryland, I give them ten minutes to change and we try to start dryland at 6:10 and they go to 7:00 or 7:10.  We’ve got 22 lanes in a 50 meter pool and all 22 lanes are being used, and then when we get out we got more kids coming in later, so that is all the time I have.


How long do I taper? It depends. I’ve got boys who will taper 2 ½, 3 ½ weeks, I’ve got a girl who is ranked 16th in the world right now in the mile, she likes, like 3 days. She’s 18 years old but she is a skinny little thing, not a whole bunch of muscle. I’ve got other pretty well built girls, I had a girl at trials 1:02 low, 100 fly, she is a pretty beefy girl, she rests a little bit more.  It really depends pretty much on the muscle mass. Look at the muscle mass, and again that is the experience these kids who had been with me a while, so I’ve been resting them 3 to 4 times a year. I know what works and if that doesn’t work, we’ll give you more, we’ll give you less, we’ll figure it out, so by the time they get to a pretty high level, hopefully I’ll know.


(Inaudible question) This kind of workout will kind of run sprinters into the ground, so on something like this on a sprinter, especially a girl sprinter, if she is pretty tired at the end of the week, what I do is maybe on the 24 100 she’d go 3 50’s easy on 1:30 and then 3 100’s fast, or maybe even 1 100 fast, 150 easy, 1 100 fast. Here it depends on the swimmer, other sprinters can handle it, but she’d do something like this she’d be with the group, but if I know a person needs more wall time because I’m going to drive them into the ground, that is not my job to drive them into the ground, my job is to get them to swim fast.  And if because I’ve driven her into the ground at one point and time and I’ve learned my lesson, I know that she can’t do that, then she will go 3 50’s easy on 1:30, 100 fast, 100 easy, 100 fast.  Something like that for that set.  So yeah I will adjust that.  They will be in their normal training lane, unless it’s going to be a whole different set for some reason, but I don’t do that a whole bunch, I’m not that smart.




January 1999 – Endurance emphasis


Mon AM  (LCM)         12 x 50 choice

5 x (100  (1.25)   (1.30)

(200  (2.50)   (3.00)   hold “T” on all

(300  (4.15)   (4.30)

PADD  2 0 x 100  4 – 50 fr/50br

4 – 50fr/50ch   (1.30)   (1.40)

K/fins    14 x 75  choice  (1.10)

100  ez                                     total = 6750 m



Mon PM  (SCY)         6 x 100 choice

3 x   (1 x 400 back PB/P     (6.00)     (6.30)

(1 x 300 free  K           (4.45)    (5.15)

(1 x 300 breast  P        (4.45)     (5.15)

28 x 75  4 – (1.10)     med

4 – (1.50)    fast/log

K/fins      6 x 150  choice (2.30)   (2.40)  (2.50)

24 x 25  (25)  2easy/1 fast-mix

1 x 100 ez                                 total = 7300 y


Tue AM  (LCM)             12 x 50 choice

K/fins    16 x 100  mix   4 – (1.40)

4 – (1.30)

3 x  (4 x 150  1 – IM  (2.45)

1 – ch   (2.15)

(2 x 50 fast ch     (1.00)

PADD   18 x 100  (1.40)  last 25 fast–mix

1 x 100 ez                                total = 6200 m


Tue PM  (SCY)              6 x 100 choice

12 x 300  2 – med

3 – hold T     (3.45)   (4.00)    (4.15)

PADD   38 x 50  ANF/mix/stroke count  (45)

2 x (4 x 25  (25) fast – log bkn 100

(3 x 50  (45) ez)

KICK   16 x 75 fr   4 – (1.20)   (1.25)  (1.35)

4 – (1.10)   (1.15)  (1.25)

2 x (4 x 25  (25) fast – log bkn 100

(3 x 50  (45) ez)

8 x 50  (45)   2 – ez     1 – brth 3 total

total = 8700 y



Wed PM  (SCY)         6 x 100 choice

bk/IM       br

2 x  (3 x 500       (5.45)     (6.15)     (6.30)     ( —  )     ( — )

(10 x 100     (1.05)     (1.10)     (1.13)     (1.15)     (1.30)

(3 x 500       (5.30)     (6.00)     (6.10)     ( —  )     ( — )

(10 x 100     (1.10)     (1.15)     (1.20)     (1.20)     (1.35)

( 1 min rest)

1 x dive 100 best stroke — log

1 x 200 minimum ez                                        total = 10900 y





Thurs AM  (LCM)            12 x 50 choice

36 x 25  (30)   2 fast/4 easy

K/fins   28 x 50   (45)  7 – NF (non-fr)

7 – fr

16 x 150  4 – med

4 – hold T     (2.10)    (2.20)    (2.30)

30 x 25   (30)  2 fast/4 easy

1 x  100 ez                                            total  = 6150 m


Thurs PM  (SCY)             6 x 100  choice

16 x 25  (30) ez/fast – mix

18 x 200    2 x     (3 – (2.20)   (2.25)    (2.35)    (2.50)

(3 – (2.30)   (2.40)    (2.50)    (3.00)

(3 – (2.15)   (2.20)    (2.30)    (2.45)  1 min rest

6 x 50  drill/swim – choice  (45)

PADD  26 x 100   3 – bk    (1.25)

3 – br    (1.35)

3 – IM   (1.25)

1 x 100 ez                                       total  = 9750 y


Fri AM  (LCM)     12 x 50  choice

14 x 75  (1.10) rotate in 25 fast/mix

60 x 50  (45)  2 – fr  DPS/brth ev 5th

1 – IM sequence

PADD    3 x  (4 x 100 free/HB 4  (1.30)

(4 x 25 fast/mix          (30)

1 x 100 ez                                               total  = 6250 m


Fri PM  (SCY)          6 x 100 choice

PADD   8 x 250   1 – bk                  (3.45)    (4.15)

1 – 50 fr/25 br      (4.00)    (4.30)

1 – 50 fr/25 fl       (3.45)    (4.15)

24 x 100   (3 – (1.30)  med

(3 – (2.15)  fast-log

6 x 75  DPS   2 – choice/2 – fr/2 – ANF

KICK    32 x 25  choice 5 – (30)

3 – (25)

24 x 50  (45)  2 easy/1 fast – mix

1 x 100 ez                                             total = 7550 y


SAT AM  (LCM)    6 x 100 choice

32 x 25  (30)   8- first 10 m fast

8 – last 10 m fast

20 x 100   5 – NF/fr    (1.35)    (1.45)

5 – free      (1.25)    (1.35)

4 x 200  (6.00)  dive/log/best

3 x 100  drill/swim   (1.50)

8 x 175    2  –  free   (3.00)

2  –  NF    (3.30)  each has 100P/50K/25S

KICK   4 x 100  (5.00)   best/log

5 x 300  (5.30)  all = swim 100 IM/K 100 ch/swim 100 choice

16 x 50  (50)  2 easy/1 fast

1 x 100 ez                                           total = 8900 m


weekly total = 82,000 y





February 1999 – Quality emphasis


Mon AM (LCM)           4 x 150 choice

8 x 400  2 – (6.00)   (6:30)

2 – (5.15)   (5.45)    DPS

PADD   16 x 100  3 – ANF    (1.45)   (1.50)

3 – fr         (1.25)   (1.35)

K/fins     4 x 250    (3.45)   choice

100 ez                                           total = 6700 m


Mon PM  (SCY)            3 x 200 choice

20 x 10   (20)   mix

Kick     12 x 100  2 – (1.35)      (or 10x (1.50/2.00))

2 – (1.45)

3 x (1 x 600 med  (9.00)

(4 x 150 fast/log  (3.00)

4 x 50  drill/swim choice  (50)

PADD   16 x 75  (1.05)  choice/mix  2 – ez/DPS

2 – 1st 10 fast

2 – last 10 fast

1 x 100 dive/log/best

min 200 ez                                      total = 7300 y


Tue AM  (LCM)             4 x 150 choice

12 x 75   (1.10)  rotate in 25 fast

2 x (6 x 50  fl/bk  (50)    (55)

(6 x 50 fr        (45)   (50)

(6 x 50 bk/br  (50)    (55)

(6 x 50 fr        (45)   (50)

PADD 5 x  (4 x 100 free  (1.30) brth every 7th)

(2 x 25 fast/mix  (30)

100 ez                                       total = 6250 m


Tue PM (SCY)             3 x 200 choice

14 x 225  3 – med

4 – hold “T”    (3.00)   (3.10)   (3.20)

Kick      16 x 75 non-free  4 – (1.25)  last 10 fast   (1.35)

4 – (1.15)  1st 10 fast     (1.20)

3 x (broken 200 [10 sec @ 25/75/etc]  (4.00)

(3 x 50 ez  (50)

PADD  40 x 50  (50)  drill/swim   8 – free

8 – choice

100 ez                                              total = 8100 y


Wed PM  (SCY)         3 x 200 choice

12 x 50  (50) mix –  last 12 yards fast

Kick    14 x 75  choice   2 – (1.25)

2 – (1.20)

32 x 100  4 – med (1.30)

4 – fast  (2.00)  log

PADD  10 x 200  1 – bk                      (2.55)    (3.05)

1 – 50 br/50 fr          (3.05)   (3.15)

1 – fr -brth ev 5th      (2.45)    (2.55)

100 ez                                               total = 7550 y






Thurs AM  (LCM)   4 x 150 choice

PADD   16 x 150  4 – 100 bk/50 fr    (2.15)    (2.30)

4 – 100 br/50 fr     (2.30)    (2.45)

K/fins     16 x 100  ch  4 – (1.40)    (1.45)

4 – (1.30)    (1.35)

5 x (4 x 50  (45)  med/DPS

(4 x 25 fast (30) IM seq by 2

100 ez                                                  total = 6200 m


Thurs PM  (SCY)          3 x 200 choice

10 x 250    2 – PB/P  bk    (3.45)

2 – PADD br   (4.15)    some do 225’s

24 x 125   3 –  (1.40)

3 –   (1.25)

3 –   (1.40)

3 –   (max)

rest one min/repeat

Kick        6 x 150  choice  (2.30)   2.45)  last 25 sprint

44 x 25  (25)  2 ez/1fast  mix

100 ez                                                   total = 8200 y


Fri AM  (LCM)         4 x 150 choice

36 x 25  2 fast/4 easy   (25)

K/fins        18 x 75   3 – BNF

3 – ch      (1.10)

PADD      12 x 200  4- bk      (3.10)

4 – br     (3.30)

4 – IM    (3.10)

3 x (6 x 10  (20) mix

(4 x 50 ez (45)                                total = 6050 m


Fri PM  (SCY)          3 x 200 choice

PB/P     7 x (100 NF/mix                           (1.35)

(200 fr   brth 3,5,7,9 by 50     (2.45)

44 x 50  (4 – ez (45)

(4 – fast  (1.00)  log as bkn 200

Kick     10 x 125   ch   (2.15)

24 x 50  (45)  2 – ez

1 – build to 95%

1 x 100 dive/log/best

200 min ez                                            total = 7650 y


Sat AM  (LCM)     3 x 200 choice

3 x 800 fr  desc 1-3  (10.30)   (11.00)    (12.00)

36 x 25  2ez/1 fast  IM seq  (30)

4 x 200 dive/log/best  (7.00)

1 x 200 ez  K25/S25

K/fins   16 x 100  rotate in 25 fast  (1.35)    (1.45)

Kick       4 x 50  (3.00)  log/best/fast

1 x 200 ez  K25/S25

PADD  12 x 150  50ch/50IM/50ch   (2.40)

100 ez                                                          total = 8800 m


weekly total = 76,300 y


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