Halfway There: Observations and Challenges by David Marsh (2001)


I’ll clip this on here.  Good morning, two nights ago I came down to New Orleans I haven’t been here in a long time, I had some of my fun younger days here and you know when I first came to New Orleans, I used to come to New Orleans I went to school at Auburn so I wasn’t too far from here, when I came down I kind of came down to New Orleans with the idea I’m taking it like a hurricane, just storming this place and two nights ago I had a hurricane, and it knocked me out of the evening, so times have changed thank god, but New Orleans is still a great place to come back to and hopefully you are enjoying all of the cuisine that New Orleans can offer.


Judging by some of the looks on your faces some of you guys were out having fun last night that is good to see, had a big dinner with the tear group and then I went to bed early but I do remember the days of coming in after some of those Las Vegas nights and New Orleans nights to talks and I appreciate you being here this morning, I really do, and one of the things I used to do and I may try this and some of you may be nodding off so don’t nod off, when I first got back to Auburn and I had to kind of do a transition of the team from being a lot better partiers then swimmers is we would have a little thing that we would do on Saturday morning, I’m not sure the swimmers still know why we did this, they probably figured it out they are pretty intelligent, but they come in on Saturday morning and I’d have them do a hand stand contest and just thinking that if they did have a little too much to drink last night, nothing like a 40 second or a one minute hand stand to get the blood going all the way and you can see them grimacing and all that kind of stuff.


One of the things I’ve tried to do with my teams in the past has been to kind of work with the program that I had, like I said my early days at Auburn they were very, very good at partying so I had to come up with strategies to fight that partying.  Fortunately things have changed, John Leonard asked me to talk at the ASCA convention, it is a very, very high honor to be offered this opportunity it is a bit nerve racking but it is an opportunity I think is representative of our staff’s effort and a long time association with lots of great people, he asked me though he said what is going to be your topic, I said, Uh, I don’t really have a topic and that was a little different for me and I went around and I asked the staff and I asked my wife of course, my best advisor, I said what should I talk about and she said, well tell them what you know, I said well the problem of what I know is it seems like the more I know the more I need to know and I hope that is the case for all of you guys too cause I know in my experiences this convention has been a great time to kind of stimulate thinking and those kinds of things.


Three reasons I think that I got into coaching I think there was a trigger at one point where I was on a U.S.A. National team really my last meet that I was ever going to swim in and Doug Ingram one of the coaches on the trip and he looks over at me and says David I know that you are going to be moving on to something else now but be sure you give back to swimming what it has given you and that really stayed with me also the chance to socialize and network with the swimming friends and yet not have to get up and dive in the water for early morning practice that was pretty appealing to me too, and then finally, one of the most important reason is through my experiences in swimming my coaches had been my mentors not just as professionals but as men in terms of the way I kind of wanted to be starting with Bob Carl who is here at the convention with us it was my very, very first coach and probably the biggest impact was Richard Quick who I swam for at Auburn University you know I always, in fact I wrote him a note when he was inducted in the International Swimming Hall of Fame last year that you know I’ve always strived to try to be like you Richard and really in many ways I still want to be like a lot of attributes he has the only difference is now when I kick the crap out of his team.


So we enjoy a lot of things in coaching but friendships do prevail.  I’m going to try to divide my talk into three main areas of thought, one being what I see is kind of the heart of the Auburn University swimming success perhaps, two is some of the, the title of the talk is Halfway there Observations and Challenges, the second area would be the challenges of coaches with a balanced life and then three share some ideas that have worked for me at Auburn and some of those you might be able to take home and use in some way.  Halfway there I guess in some way, is because, you know when you turn 40 years old you kind of get this label of middle age, you know 40 is the middle age year and I’m 42 now so I’m probably about halfway through my life, probably about halfway through the time I’ll be in this body on earth, I’m probably about halfway through my coaching career I have 21 more years of coaching would make me 63 my youngest daughter will be out of college, she better be out of college and I will be ready to learn how to play golf, finally.  But, and I’m also am halfway through not parenting overall, because I’m not sure your ever through that, but halfway through an important phase of parenting, I have a 5 year old, a 4 year old and a 1 year old and the one year old is almost 2 now that is significant, I’m halfway through the sleep deprivation phase of parenting I hope and so hopefully that in terms of framing my talk you can understand a little bit of where I’m coming from.


I’ve certainly gained some interesting perspective from my children, it has been very enlightening and my four year old daughter is taking a gymnastics class she pays $55.00 a month she gets to go 1 time a week that is all she is allowed to go for about 40 minutes.  So I took her to her class last week I’m kind of hoping she doesn’t like it, so we don’t have to sign up next month, but and she looked, she was having some fun with about, it seemed like 20 kids but there was probably 7 or 8 kids with one instructor and at the end of the thing they all get around each other and the instructor puts a little sticker on her hand and it’s like she comes running out like she won an Olympic Gold Medal cause of her sticker it is a one penny sticker and she is hooked on the sport of gymnastics and there is something I think we can learn from that, some reminders in fact I told our coach at our home club Auburn I said we need to start giving out little stamps and stickers at the end of more practices to and I’m sure a lot of you do this already but it was a great reminder for me.  My son Aaron just entered his first year of competitive sports so he is entered into a new era in his life, he plays soccer and if you ever watched the little kids play soccer they run around in a pack they all get together in this big pack and they just go down the field and this go to this side and this side well in the fifth game in this year my son Aaron finally had a breakaway he broke away from the pack and he’s got the ball and he is kicking it and he is going down the field and he is real excited, he is dibbling pretty well and then he makes a shot on goal and it is like oh he barely missed and it is a good thing because it was the opponents goal, it was his goalie that he was kicking at, so the point was that really stuck with me was that he didn’t care about that, he was smiling, he was smiling ear to ear, because he got to be the feature for a minute and in that I saw the love of play in what he was doing and it really radiated with me, and have we forgot that, I know we do sometimes but just the love of play, if you’ll do this corny exercise with me, just kind of think about close your eyes if you need to unless you’ll fall asleep, think about your neighborhood pool, your community pool, go back to whatever aspect that you remember from your past from being at that neighborhood pool and listen in your minds eye to the sounds at the pool, what are the sounds that you hear, you hear laughter, you hear belly laughs, you know I think that maybe we’re the ones who take the laughter out of the pool too often in our situations, cause their foundation of the background of swimming is laughter, is fun, is games, when I go back to Auburn we are going to try a game of Marco Polo with the team and see how that goes off but, it just reminds me, and again I gained this from my children’s perspective to have fun with swimming as well.


The Kim Brackin and I, the associate head women’s coach for our team, we’ve had lively discussions about the X games lately, I’m not a big fan of the X games, you know you kind of get irritated because winning isn’t that big a deal in the X games, you know I’m not sure the people that compete in the X games are of the highest character and quality and content, but one thing about the X games, its coming, it started in 1993 really by ESP and it was their creation it was called extreme games back then, it is already the number one watched sporting event in the United States for the ages of 12 to 34 pretty important group for our sport, it is going world wide too for you coaches that are from around the world, but it is going to effect us, but the point I guess that I’m saying that maybe one of the reasons it is so popular is because it’s a game, it’s just fun it’s a game, you don’t hear them emphasizing the amount of prize money they won, I mean the biggest applause often comes from the kid who finished almost last but tried the hardest trick you know a lot of times that gains the appreciation of the audience more than anything else, so I would suppose to play without aim is irresponsible, perhaps immature, but to aim and not play I think could be obsessive.


We take, we do a few things, we take Christmas training trip every year, now to go in and try and explain to my athletic director why we need to leave our beautiful 12 million dollar pool to go somewhere else to train had been a trick early on in my coaching career, O.K. we need to spend $40,000.00 to take a team and go elsewhere, this year we are going to go down to the Bahamas, but the biggest reason that we do that training trip isn’t so much for the going up and down the pool, it is the fun, it is the inner connectiveness that the team gets, it’s the relational things that happen and it’s a lot of the laughter that goes on during the course of that training trip, that is why we do that, during our summer camps at Auburn University, and I am plugging the summer camps by the way, we do a thing called water games session and I explained to the campers that we do a couple of things every single camp one is this water games thing, one is we time them a mile for time, we do that because as I emphasized to the campers, it is critical they have a foundation of aerobic preparation as one of the real keys we time 8 100’s kick for time and record and the emphasis there being the kicking everybody needs to be a better kicker nobody is a good enough kicker, keep working on that it is a point of emphasis and we do a concert swim, which again is for the fun where we crank up the stereo system usually I leave the building, a few of the counselors will get dressed up and dance around a little bit on the deck but we play real loud music for 30 minutes and every time the song changes we change what they are doing in the water and they all do the same thing and the only way they are allowed to get out of the water is if they get out of the water to dance they are allowed to get out of the water and dance on the deck but if they are not dancing they have to be swimming.  So we try and do, build things like that into our summer camps, some of my better swimmers, Kevin Clements won a gold medal at the World University Games in the 400 IM Erick Van Gotham they play water polo and I think it’s a good thing that they play water polo with our club team in the fall it is again because they play water polo, they are not just doing water polo and they enjoy it and I think it helps keep them fresh and I’ve learned a lot from just watching one of our new assistant coaches Dave Durden, Dave can you please stand up a lot of people don’t know you yet, Dave is a, I’ve learned a lot from Dave this past year watching him work with some of the groups he has worked with, he has a background of swimming for Clayton Cagle at Fleet and then most recently working for Dave Salo in Irvine and watching some of the ways he puts together workouts it has been interesting to see, you know you really can’t put a rep number on it or a pattern to it, it’s like, but yet these kids are working their tails off by chopping up 50’s with 12 ½ skull full speed, 2 front flips, 12 ½ butterfly to the wall coming back dive down 12 ½ before the wall and sprint kick in, you know just slicing it up some and having fun with it.  It’s been great experience for me to watch Dave and how our swimmers have responded to some of that kind of work.


To explain some of the relative success I guess we’ve had at Auburn University, a quote that I’ve really liked and I’ve always kind of used and what we’ve done is begin with a clear picture of the end in mind and that is by John Maxwell, but the emphasis being kind of see where you want to be whether it be a season plan or whether it be in our case our program, you know back in 1990 we weren’t going to win anything we were just trying to get out of the gutter as a program, but we set the mantle with trying to win a conference title somewhere down in the future, I at least try to be what I believe in and I’m an Auburn guy, you know I went to school there it had a big effect on me, the heart of Auburn University is a creed that is in the president’s office, it is in the pool office, our strength coach, Brian Korkovsky has our swimmers read this during their circuit training their real intense circuit training during the fall and they do it while they are riding a bike but the bike doesn’t have a seat on it so they have to stand up and ride the bike at a fast speed and read the creed at the same time and by the end of the circuit they have to memorize the creed cause you don’t get in trouble with Brian it is a bad experience if you do but they memorize this creed cause I do think it, so you understand a little bit more about what we try to do at Auburn, it says, I believe in a practical world and I count on only what I earn therefore I believe in work, hard work, I believe in education which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my hands and mind to work skillfully, I believe in honesty and truthfulness without which I cannot win the respect and confidence of the my fellow man, I believe in a sound mind and a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid, and in clean sports that help develop these qualities, I believe in obedience to the law because it protects the rights of all, I believe in the human touch because it cultivates sympathy with my fellow man, I believe in my country because it is the land of freedom and because it is my home and I can best serve that country by doing justly, loving, mercy and walking humbly with my god and because Auburn men and women believe in these things I believe in Auburn and love it, and it is interesting to see some of the grimacing going on with these guys speaking the elegant creed, this creed was written interestingly enough by our first football coach at Auburn and that kind of tells you how far that sport has come because George Petri who is the football was a volunteer football as the head coach, he was really a professor of English at Auburn University and was paid not money to coach the football and how things have changed if that was written by a current football coach it would change the entire I guess credibility in some ways of the creed, but in these days of pure football no mask on the helmets it was a strong creed, it is and still remains a strong creed in my opinion.  In twelve years of coaching at Auburn a lot of things have changed, in early on in 1990 it had to be kind of a coach led thing, in fact my very, very first practice when I got to Auburn, what we did is we worked on, we didn’t get in the water, we worked on how to present yourself as a person by shaking a firm handshake and how to hold a good posture and this was before and this was before the posture stuff with Bill Boomer and company became as popular, but it didn’t have to do with that it had to do with presenting yourself as a person, so we had them put towels around their necks and walk around pool because it is hard to not have good posture when you are trying to look like superman, so one of the things, that was the very first practice we had.  Also during the first practice they were in the water my goal was to throw somebody out of the pool and the emphasis there was to send the message that it was privilege not a right to be on the team and to emphasize that.  The next year when they had done well, actually at the end of the first year when they had done real well at the conference meet they had a celebration after the conference meet you know a big throw down party on a Monday night a school night, they came into practice on a Tuesday, and I threw the whole team off the team, and we still had NCAA’s we still had a lot of things going on and the deal was there they all had to come and see me to get their position back on the team and I remember this day my secretary saying your goal was to get everyone to cry when they left the office wasn’t it, and I said, yeah, kind of.
The program has changed and I think now the team does a lot of the leading now and I think in many ways we as a coaching staff kind of oversee it, we allow the team to be very involved in creating the team rules and responsibilities, we actually have a three page form that they create for each team, and the leaders of the team are able to kind of manipulate that and work with that with the different emphasis of different teams and different years.  Captain’s lead a lot of meetings; having responsibility that is a lot more personal for swimming success put onto the swimmers.


Early on at Auburn we had set the bar at international swimming success would be one of our main markers, I like it when the swimmers come back with the USA Sweats and they wear the USA Caps on the pool deck, I think it’s a good thing, I remember, that was one of my main sources of motivation was watching Rowdy Gains or Bill Force or Dave McCag on the pool deck when I was swimming at Auburn, I mean that is all they wore is USA stuff was pretty much all the time was you know the free stuff, and that was one of great motivations for myself as a swimmer.  So we emphasize international swimming and one thing many club coaches, and I know college coaches already understand this is that really athletic directors don’t hire college coaches for international swimming success, it is phenomenal the amount of money if you think about it that is spent on swimming by colleges.  I mean many colleges have over a million dollar budget between their men’s and women’s programs and for a lot of national governing bodies of several countries that will be a great annual budget for the nation for their group.  But they hire us to one keep our noses clean, two NCAA three in our case SCC success that is the emphasis, so it takes a real motivation by different staffs around the country and by I think our staff and we have to remind ourselves this to keep the focus at the highest level at that international level, when I was interviewed by Pat Dye in 1990 he at that time was a football coach as well, he really didn’t understand why I was saying in setting up the program we’ll be setting the bar at Olympic team Olympic medals as the highest thing and behind that will be NCAA’s but fortunately he offered me the job anyway.  It makes quite a difference, this year in January I know it is probably a minor thing to a lot of you but we switched our pool around to 50 meters in the middle of January which is kind of the heart of the NCAA season, and what we were doing is sending the message to the team that the world championship trials would be right after NCAA’s and we want you ready for the world championship trials as well it will be a long season, but lets get to the world championship trials and swim well there.  In our program, the, Eddie drew the pyramid yesterday and I think the pyramid applies to us as well we kind of look our team as bit of a pyramid where we have a fabulous staff now I think the best staff I’ve ever had at Auburn right now, but where the staff, you know we oversee everything, I try to keep my, I try to, keep my focus on the top 30% of the team whether male/female, whether a mile or a 50 freestyler just in terms of knowing what is going on, working with their career and season plan that is why I try to keep a lot of my focus, a rule on our team is everybody has to embrace the top of the pyramid, it doesn’t take many nay sayers and just lesser minded folks to pull the whole thing down, so it is a pretty important thing in our program that you don’t ever take away from the top of the pyramid in our team, top of the pyramid gets some extra perks, some extra legal incentives which would be some of the travel we do and the opportunity to go to the massage therapist more often things like that, because it does take more to at the faster levels, it takes more to swim at a higher level, you know the water isn’t just a one to one ratio in terms of resistance, it’s a four to one ratio, so the faster you go the more resistance your getting and you’ve got to figure out ways to get to that water more efficiently.


I have that handout here and if you can look at that for a second, I’m not going to go through the whole thing, there are a couple of points, and this, I’m a visual person and I don’t work very well off a lot of type and text and but I like to kind of see things and we just came up with this before we came down here and this certainly doesn’t represent everything in our program, but one area kind of builds on another, generally the background is what we are looking for in an athlete when they come into our program, you know what are the kind of things that are important, we want a strong aerobic background, obviously natural feel, the ability to make a great catch in the water is a big, big bonus, things like event specialty, isn’t that critical, ask often what are you looking this year in swimmers, looking for people who can produce NCAA points and score and perform at the international swimming level, that is what ultimately we would be looking for so the even specialty is really not that critical as long as they have a good background and one of the other things that I always emphasize in young swimmers is that you need to be individual medley swimmers because you never know what event your going to end up in.


Natural strength, look for natural strength rather than the weight room strength, you know when guys have big pecs coming out of high school, it is not a good sign, it’s not necessarily a good thing, you like to look for kind of the wiry natural strength that is what we look for.  In the foundation what is represented there is just some foundational ideas for our program, things like nutrition and rest, what that is about is a routine, do they have the discipline to eat well and rest well, the in the Dryland program we want to develop athletic people so if they are not very good athletes we want to help develop their athleticism to where eventually they can even throw a Frisbee more than about ten yards and run without turning their ankle every time they do, how they handle their body weight, those kinds of things are real critical, mental training has more to do, with do they have goals, I tell you my favorite kind of mentally trained athlete is a beginner, somebody who has really no clue and but the upside is they just attack swimming like it’s just a brand new fresh thing, I love the beginners mind and we try to keep it that way as much as we can although usually it gets effected by those around them, the Auburn emphasis as you can see you know again technique and aerobic foundation is the corner stones of our program, we test 3 800’s long course from the team and it is expected that ever season short course and long course that they improve their best time from 3 800’s to where if they don’t improve the 3 800’s they get to repeat it until they do which is usually is not a whole lot of fun to watch some of the hard course sprinters doing 3 800’s long course, but I think it gives us a marker that we stuck with over the years and it has served us pretty well and it seems like 3 800’s is a good distance to put them beyond just being able to kind of fake it, to where they are into real swimming, technique the emphasis early season distance per stroke and as the season progresses we look more at race specific movements and race tempos and those kinds of things but early on it is all emphasis on distance per stroke and just trying to maximize their efficiency.  Interesting on how Maggie kind of fits into this Auburn emphasis, you know Maggie had a phenomenal year this past year, racing ability is obviously one of the big aspects of our program, but one of the things like after NCAA when Maggie broke Summer Sanders American record, we and she is a great racer, but when it came to the technique side, her butterfly and backstroke in terms of being able to race the next step Yana, to be able to race her she was going to have to be closer at the 100 mark there is no way that she can swim the way she swam at NCAA and keep up with Yana cause Yana runs out real fast in butterfly, so again this wheel is effected by we had to go back to technique and change some parts of her butterfly and backstroke actually pretty radically, and she came back and I think somewhat because of those changes were one of the reasons why she was able to race against the world in the 200 IM, strength is one of those foundational things, in fact we had a swimmer up to last year who transferred in after freshman year she went to a smaller division I school and then left after he first year to come into Auburn, she didn’t even make her conference team at that division, at the FS school during that freshman year and she came into Auburn not a very good feel for the water, not real talented fairly short, not a very good start, not even a very good turn, but, she went 22:9 in the 50 freestyle and got to be an all American, and she did it by strength, she did it because she got real strong, she got up to I think 46 pull-ups she could do well over 60 dips because we would have to say O.K. just say that is enough before the guys completely get humiliated stop doing dips but her name is Robin Wiliford and she is a wonderful person but it is just a real testament especially on the women’s side the importance of strength.


Shifting kind of over the Auburn way I guess as we see it, the team parts I think are kind of interesting cause you are in our program, I try to emphasize that there is a balance to being kind of team minded and personal and selfish I guess in some ways where if you are just all team then you tend to get lost sometimes in the rah rah and fluff fluff and you forget to take care of yourself, and if you are too much into yourself, you effect the team because, and then you don’t give a rip about the rest of the team and then it is real obvious a teeter totter effect that I think is a proper balance to having both.


The history, I want them to know that those who came before them had set the foundation before them had set the foundation for our program, fortunately we have our alumni week and so we will have probably 200 former swimmers on campus and it will be real obvious to the team what the history of Auburn is all about, it will give them some perspective and I don’t want to go over all the things in here, but that is just a few of the areas and I thought maybe to put it down would be easier than to try to explain it.  Like probably everything in life when it comes to the maybe the reason for the relative success at Auburn it really comes down to the people, in our program the coaches that we’ve had in our program that worked with us have been a critical part of it and different parts and times of their period to have been there, Jim Sheridan, West Sinclair, Ira Klien, Dave Bottom, Mike Bottom, Organ Bailey, Jimmy Seth there and these people have come in and, Andy is here to, Andy has been a big part of the team, have come in and contributed in various of ways but has been the most significant reasons I think our success, our current staff right now is Kim Brackin, Ralph Crocker, Stephanie Putzi, Dave Durden and Bill Pilsik, it is an exciting staff and I’m looking forward to learning from them during the course of this year and in ultimately as we all have to remember it is the swimmers, you know it is the swimmers that actually suit up and get in and do the races, but thanks, but the I’ve been asked many times what is the, is there one swimmer, one point and time that made the biggest difference and I say yea, his name was Yohol Brooke, and he was a swimmer from Israel who came with me when I was coaching in Las Vegas he swam for me in high school there and then came over to Auburn when he graduated, in fact he still gives me a hard time whenever possible because I forgot to mention that he could take recruiting trips to other schools so he just came to Auburn.


But anyway I also have the hand out that some of you got already but it will be available at the end of the talk and I didn’t want to go through all the Maggie stuff, but I know, I wanted to give you some meat and potatoes here that you can actually do something with, some of the test sets that Maggie did that were indicator sets when we felt like O.K. you know she is going to swim fast, there were some pretty substantial sets that she performs and I’m not going to read through them or anything and there is some of the technical things that we did with her during the course of the year, and as anything in our program the swimmers are, is very much from a team approach, she trains a lot with Ralph Crocker in the distance group, Kim Brackin does a lot of her, did a lot of the stroke technique changes and we just combine her efforts and Dennis asked me at the meets who gets credit for her and I said all three of us, and he said no like who was the main coach, all three of us, and so it is a, in our staff that is the approach that we take.


Turn the page, O.K. the challenges in coaching with a balanced life, I ran across some art work from Africa where they carve a Mcunda tree they call it, and this Mcunda tree, in our team talk we will have a slide of it and I’ll show you what it is visually but is basically a tree that were people are built on people and the people that have effected where you’ve been with you being on top an dhow they helped to shape you and mold you and I thought that was a good illustration for my swimming, because swimming has given me so much, I mean I was 6’3 140 pounds with braces and an out of place Afro coming out of high school, I mean that was scary, that was a scary thing, but Luke from the mod squad was my man, that was the look I was going for, it didn’t work for me but I thought it did.  But, swimming has given me so much, I met my wife at a swimming meet, she was coaching for Bud McAlister at Fullerton at the time when we met and actually now she is still kinda of a coaching advisor, she will call down from the stands, now why didn’t you put the relay in that order, I would have put it like this and so now I go and see her before I actually submit the relay card.  Now with three children, you know things change again quite a bit, her job of course is much harder than mine, she was kind of I guess giving me a little grief before I came down, where I’d be sipping on Café Ole’s and smelling the aroma of Ben Yeas being baked you know she’d be drinking Maxwell House and smelling dirty diapers so I do feel for her there although I do like the Café Ole’s and Ben Yeas.


Three primary stages I guess I’d say from my coaching early on I drew from my swimming experience that was probably my main way that I came up with the information for how I would generate workouts even, I would look back in my old log books and get some workouts from that, the second big phase was how through the self help guru type of things where I read a lot of books and listened to a lot of tapes and went to every clinic and convention that I could possibly go to and it was you know every time I come to one of these ASKA conventions my swimmers just cringe because you know I come back and come back with the persona with some of the, or some of the information from the clinics and one year we came back and Bill Watley and I at Dynomo swim club and came back and lactate testing was in so we had to get a lactate machine, so we did lactate testing and of course we knew nothing about blood and how to handle blood properly, you know we were just popping people and you know putting it in the machine and trying to figure out how this damn thing works but we were going to lactate test and then there was this thing with Urea testing it was thought that you could study the samples of Urea and figure out over training markers and that would be a good indicator and so we decided we were going to get some Urea samples which you have to take a lot more blood to do, so we were trying through these kids fingers trying pull out a substantial sample of blood, and you know it was like uh coach it hurts and of course you got no information from it, but into that morning session it looked like Vietnam on our pool deck you know there was blood everywhere kids came back for afternoon practice and they were like coach I couldn’t write today at school my fingers were tortured.  You know there were times I came back from a clinic and you know after a good Dick Shoulberg talk and I would go back to the team and go alright we are going to go 10,000 butterfly on Tuesday and Friday we are going to toughen you up right now, all of you get in lanes 1 through 5 we don’t need those extra fifteen lanes over there we are going to swim in five lanes, toughen up.  You know you come back from one of the clinics and you hear Dick Jochums’ talk and it would be like you guys are a bunch of wimps those 300’s are going to kick our butts, and then you come back from another talk and you would hear Randy Reese and then I would go back to the deck like this, and then my all time favorite is when you hear Jack Nelson talk, you would hear, come on big Oars, come on lets go.


But, I’m in trouble with four guys right now, big trouble I can’t recruit their kids any more, you know I guess the third phase I guess that has really been effecting me during the process of dating Christen I met her mother and you know, and usually I was pretty good with moms in the day, about 30 years old, but I sat down with her at lunch one day at long beach and she said David I don’t think you should date my daughter and I said Why?  She said you are not on the same page you don’t have the same faith, she challenged me to think about what I believe what I really believed, and you know what I believed at that point was all swimmers have to have a good aerobic base, you know, you need to set goals, you know America’s the best country on the earth, you know these things I really believe and anyway I certainly do continue to believe that she gave me five books and said why don’t you look those over and it was interesting because I did have to examine my faith and I did choose to examine my faith and I had experienced a lot of the hypocrisy and that kind of stuff and the churchy kind of people, but I was fascinated to find and the historical and archeological evidence that confirms the truths of the bible and in understanding more that the it is about a relationship with Jesus more so than a religion, it really helped me to come to grips with a faith a new faith in my case and I share this with you because it has effected my coaching, it has presented many internal challenges as a lot of the different things have, had I not gone through a phase of experience, self help gurus, I don’t think I would be the coach, have the coaching style I do today, but all this stuff effects my Mcunda tree, the root system on my Mcunda tree was changed, to try to coach with the proper balance like I heard from the guys when I first got into coaching, especially when I took the Auburn job, Frank Bush warned me don’t forget about your children, make sure your children stay number one make sure your wife stays number one you know Dennis Persley gave me the same advise and I think those guys as they said through their experience in making the wrong decisions they were trying to encourage me, that was a huge help for me, the balance and priorities in the most important people, you know coaching feeds our egos certainly and it fills our day, we can spend every single minute on something relating to coaching, every single one of our minutes can be spent either helping our program or helping some individual on our team and that is a 24 and 7 deal and we can do it all day if we choose to and I guess my challenge to you in the illustration in the Mcunda tree would be have your Mcunda tree be interwoven, don’t have necessarily a swimming tree and a personal tree, you can’t do that with our profession, you have to interweave the two and it is always a challenge for me and I hope that again at the later talk we’ll have a slide with that and I hope that can help you.


O.K. I still have a few minutes that are pretty good.  For some ideas here’s kind of things that we do and you might want to jot a couple of these down anyway, things that have worked for me or Auburn during some timeless things I guess I would say, first and foremost I have discovered, I haven’t discovered but on the market now is I think the most effective tool for keeping young boys in our sport, maybe attracting someone but especially keeping them in and that is the jammer, or practices and meets, I got a bit of a reminder when I went down to Mexico with my wife and two other couples that has nothing to do with swimming about three weeks ago and I was sitting around and I got a reminder about what the world generally things of brief swim suits and these southern guys that I was down there with, you know they are down there on the beach and we are sitting on the lounge chairs and they are going look it there David, why don’t you got one of those on I thought you were a swimming coach, I said no I wear my big suits on now, and they were calling them and they came walking by, and they said looky there is another weenie bikini and it was a pretty good reminder and then one of the guys sees this one fellow with these brief swim suit on and goes look it there coach Marsh that is what you call a dicky doo and I said what’s a dicky doo and he says it is where your belly hangs over further than your dicky doo (laughing).


So I recommend that we put our young boys in these I know it is a reason why some of the kids stop when they do or never get into it too much and then the discussion on shaving your legs is happening much in the future after they are well hooked into swimming.  You know one of the things that I’ve come to realize, especially with my highest achieving swimmers is that every one of them had a coach at home before they ever got to Auburn that instilled an incredibly solid belief in them so there was a belief structuring them and in many cases where there may not have been and although I try to put on my best face, I do believe in everybody you know some faces are going I don’t know about that, you know John Hargis is coming in at 49 high in 100 yard butterfly and I go I don’t know if you can make the Olympic team but of course I’m not saying that but Paul Blair had put into that guys head that you’ve got that for the future, so in a very short time he was able to come into college and I think a lot in that belief that Paul Blair had instilled in him he was able to go in a very short time from a probably 56 57 butterflyer down to 53.2 and win the Olympic Trials in 1996 and it is the same for many others, I mean Rada Owen had Dudley Duncun who had put that well into her and Jeff Masada has Greg York, Pat Calhoun has Dave Boggs in the entire city of Seymour, Indiana they were behind him, Maggie Bowen had Jimmy Roberts, is Jimmy in here, stand up Jimmy, but Jimmy wouldn’t, he won’t wear those Auburn swimming shirts that we keep trying to give him stroke and motor meets, I used to love the stroke and motor meets that I would run in Las Vegas, it is where we took the older swimmers would evaluate the younger swimmers with flash cards so they do a 25 of each stroke and they get a score on a flash card for each of the four strokes and then we would time a kick and then you put those two scores together and that is what color ribbon you get, based on your technique and how fast you can kick, a couple of good warm-ups and this one is from Bob Gillette, 20 50’s on a minute from a dive with a first 25 is fish kick under water the second 25 is perfect freestyle.


Here is one from, well somewhat from Nort Thornton, I think he did this one, somebody told me this was, 800 easy down build back is the simple one but we kind of do one where we go 800 or they go easy this is long course, they go easy down and coming back they are to be within at 5 seconds off goal 200 pace and then reduce their stroke count one to four and then hold the last four at that low stroke count, short practices, I’ve done a lot of success with having the team come in during the warm up be there for 30 minutes, 15 minutes just have one set that they are going to do and many times they make up the set and show me that’s O.K. that is a challenge, O.K. go do it, they give it up for short practice, so I would encourage every now and then to throw that kind of fun thing at them.  We have our swimmers that I won’t say they always do, but certainly starting off the year we always encourage them, we make them we don’t encourage them, push off on their backs for freestyle, to initiate freestyle I got that from Don Walkins out in California a while back, but you so because your going to every proper turn your going to do your going to push off on your back why would you push off on your stomach on freestyle, it doesn’t relate to anything your going to do in races ever.  Turn the pace clocks off early in the season, you know they get so programmed to look in that pace clock and they kind of get these dependencies and if possible do things just turn all the pace clocks off in the pool and say 15 seconds rest count it in your head or 10 seconds rest count it in your head, I try to keep the pace clock off early in the season as much as I can, we assign a professor of turns in our team and for you guys it could be an alumni swimmer it could be one of your age group coaches, but the swimmers must get an A+ in turns before they are allowed to do turns in practice, so they have to do, you know open turns and that kind of thing, and I think I actually got this from Mike Bottom when he was there.  They have to maintain that A+ position too, so if they are ever going a set, later that day and they do anything less than an A+ turn, then they lose their right to do a turn and they have to get re-checked out by the coach which will sometimes take two or three days because there are a lot of people in line getting checked out by the professor of turns.  Skills and drills groups, this is where we break out into several different groups, 7 or 8 groups and they will do a set program of about 20 minutes of different skills an different drills for some it could be an aerobic practice because we may have identified that they need that more often for some it would be dolphin kick work and the specific steps and doing it the same steps every time and it’s just a way that you know when you have 20 minutes, you go to a meet side a night before the meet you say break into your skills and drills group they kind of, they know exactly what they are doing and I found that to be successful for us over the years.  Another suit thing here, suits with panels I like, so I like these suits that when you rotate you see the panels, again I’m a visual coach and I can see that a lot better than just seeing a plain suit, I think that is another good thing.


Semantics as always you know do you call it workouts or do you call it practice, you know I would suggest that they would look more forward to a practice then a workout, a couple of books what we do we have a swimming gets kind of one credit or pass whatever, most pass at Auburn we actually buy a book for that course and so I get to pick out our text book for that class every year and we’ve used John Maxwell’s leadership book and one of the books that I really liked, we are probably going to go back to this year is a mental toughness training by Lori is a good one, if you haven’t read that you really need to read that, and then there is a newsletter that I really like championship performance and I don’t know how many people have really heard of that but I can give you the information on that sometime if you want to know it.  I want to give it time to open up for questions, one of the things that I commonly say to our team in team meetings is there is going to be somebody make the U.S. Olympic team that is less talented then the least talented person in this room and that is what I love about our sport and I think that is true, I think through work, focus, great coaching, great effort by the athlete that can happen with athletes it is possible in our sport, another one I like to say in terms of finding that balance between have confidence even if you got to fake it is it’s better to have real confidence then fake confidence but if you have no confidence fake it.


Again I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you today and then we’ll close it out.  Questions please, do we have any questions where are my plants that I had in here that were going to ask certain questions.  O.K., close it out.  One thing I did want to say is I’m feeling a lot of your pain right now because I’m helping the age group team at Auburn and it’s been a great reminder for me with searching for a coach for them and I think we’ve got somebody but the process the meeting of the board of advisors and some of the thoughts that go into where they are coming from in terms of who is wants to be the coach and why has been another eye opener and reminder for me that how important it is that you have an element of control or at least great input into who is on your board of directors I don’t know if they will hear this tape they’ll probably be disbanded board pretty soon here for now it has been a great process to go through, it just has reminded me so many things that really make up the fiber of swimming vs. some of the in essence fluff that we get to do in college and I applaud you all of you who are down in the trenches doing that kind of work because as Eddie spoke about yesterday, we definitely see it when they get the college, the kind of foundation that has been established with the different athletes that are out there, so thank you very much I appreciate all of your time.  The handouts are right up there and I want to remind everybody that we are going right into our business meeting this is meeting for your organization ASCA.


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