Masters swimmers are proven in their dedication to our sport and this camp provides recognition for the swimmers as well as for United States Masters Swimming. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to be able to host this camp at the Olympic Training Center, as you can tell by how excited all the swimmers in the photo are. Master coaches have worked diligently for years in pursuing and promoting swimming in this camp. This camp validates the coaches’ dedication and discipline to our sport. It provides an environment unlike any other to observe and learn from U.S.A. swimming and the Olympic Training Center staff and also to work with other devoted Masters coaches. In this there is not always a lot of opportunity, especially like in Hawaii, to work with other Masters coaches and to coach a variety of swimmers. For Masters coaches, it is an incredible source of inspiration, to continue to provide excellence in providing their highest quality coaching for the master swimming community and to continue to share their knowledge.
We try and well we always we make sure we have a balance of both men and women. A total of twelve campers are accepted – 6 men and 6 women. Things that we look at with regards to their swimming achievement are:
if they’re former and current record holders,
USMS top ten placing, their regional placing
contributions to masters swimming
display of dedication of this sport.
The coaching staff: Every coach has the potential to have this opportunity to participate in some level at this camp as long as they show the interest, the desire, the dedication and the background.
Next we’ll review what exactly we do at the camp. We’ll review the pool time, what we do when we are at the pool, the various presentations as well as reviewing the testing and assessments that the campers go through.
We have eight sessions, anywhere from an hour to an hour and one half, and these are all technique sessions. It is not a workout session that we do. It is strictly technique; we focus on something different such as course stability and balance, long axis technique, short axis technique. We also try and set up a day where the swimmers have a chance to go one of each of the four strokes and focus in a little more on that particular stroke, and there will be one coach on that. We also review strokes and turns.
At the end of our second session of the day, we spend the last 30 minutes doing stretching on deck and the stretching coordinator develops a stretching routine that is built upon each day. At the end of the camp, they have gone through all of the different stretches that he presents to them later on for them to take home. They then know how to do them properly and it’s a nice routine that can be generally done in about 20 minutes. It is also, for a lot of the campers, the first time that they have embarked only sort of regular stretching program. Even within the four-day period they can tell the difference and everyone really looks forward to doing the stretching sessions.
We have quite a number of presentations as you can see from the list here. We’ll touch upon each one of them and it also definitely something the campers look forward to because it is a wealth of information that is delivered to them.
First is the coach’s presentation. We’re asked to do two presentations. First, each coach picks one of the four strokes to give an hour-long presentation on where we touch upon the technique, basic mechanics and various series that are out there as well as drills.
The second topic is the topic of the coach’s choice. Things such as goal setting, racing with a plan, the art of tapering and open water swimming have been types of topics that have been brought up during this or presented at this camp. We try not to get too stressed in the preparation of our presentations.
Sports psychology is another set of presentations that’s done. It starts out by defining what “sports psychology” is and identifying performance characteristics associated with elite performance, like running down the hall very quickly when you don’t want to be caught. We also explore various skills associated with excellence and the mental training. That includes reviewing things such as confidence, thought, attitude, determination, goal, commitment and self-talk. And we go over various examples of each of these. And, in the end, we look to identify what is the biggest challenge you face. So each of the swimmers, at the end, will have a better idea of what the challenges are that are specific to them that they need to work on.
Next we have a nutritional presentation that has invaluable information on nutrition and diet. We do a caloric assessment that determines the total caloric needs for each individual person. We also determine the caloric intake as well as gain awareness of what calories contribute that you might want to eliminate. They also take time to explain how the various food sources get used for energy. We usually finish up with a general nutrition discussion that can always be quite interesting, especially depending on the type of campers that attend the camp. It’s amazing some of the knowledge the campers themselves have to test against the staff at the training center. It leads to some very inspiring and insightful discussions.
We also spend time in stretching and conditioning within the weight training center where we get to explore various programs and try out the different exercises. For a lot of the campers, this is the first that they have been able to test out different exercises using physioballs, medicine balls, or plyometrics. We’re given ideas and wonderful handouts that you’d be able to take home and develop your own programs with.
Physiology is something in which many people have no background. The presentation gets fairly advanced, but they do a fabulous job on bringing it down into more layman terms so you can interpret it and use it and understand it based on the results that you get and your own assessment later on. It starts out by defining the process of how the body operates during training, racing, recovery and resting and ways the body supplies energy. The various energy systems are explained by how and when they operate within the context of training and racing, including explaining lactate tolerance and clearance of lactate in the body and the importance of training, both aerobic and anaerobic systems. We’re also presented theories to optimize performance. It’s a fabulous presentation. You learn a lot that’s especially interesting because of the masters we try to bring in, since we try and have a balance within the age groups. It’s definitely explained very well, and if you don’t understand it, it is open to further clarification with the presenter.
Next is the biomechanics presentation, where they go over the fundamental rules of physics and how they relate to swimming, which include body positioning, stroke mechanics, proper technique, propulsion, and drag. We’re also made aware of the tools that already exist for us to be able to work upon these fundamentals, such as:
Your knowledge (meaning your eyes and your own experience that you have).
Video analysis, (both looking at other people’s video or as well as getting your own video analysis).
Qualitative, meaning race strategies and quantitative, meaning your personal stroke rate and race component. A highlight of this talk, usually saved until the end, is a national team member who comes out and tells their personal story. It’s always a very inspirational talk. Here is BJ Bedford with Bill Volkening, who is one of the coaches for two years attending the camp. Josh Davis is in the lower group of campers.
Testing and Assessment
We do stroke filming and flume; one shot is a profile of you where one of the cameras is in a room across and through to the tank. Masters swimmers sometimes can be little control freaks-as you can see by this picture- checking to make sure that the video camera is definitely on. We’re filmed from both the front and the side four times. You can chose to do all four strokes or you can chose to have the flow rate increased and see how you respond when you are swimming faster- it’s the swimmer’s choice.
The other testing that we do in the flume is for heart rate and lactate threshold. Here you see Scott Rewald checking the heart rate of this swimmer after one of their swims. Ganadius, who does affiliate physiology presentations and assessments, is doing a pinprick in the ear and drawing a drop of blood for the lactate analysis. In this testing, we do five 3-minute swims with a 2 minute break between each swim. They wear a heart rate monitor and then they have the drop of blood of drawn. The first four swims start out at a pace that starts at 80% of their most recent 200 freestyle time. It’s increased through the four swim to 95%. On the fifth swim, they go to the point you can’t hang on anymore and they stay at one level for 30 seconds. When the whistle is blown, it is kicked up a notch and you get up to 5 times the water speed. Yeah, I see you shaking your head over there. It is very intimidating because there is just a net a back there that catches you when you can’t hang on any more. It is very hard
We also do track starts and turns review. The start review is what we are seeing here. Generally do it on the pool deck. We have two coaches reviewing each of the swimmer’s starts, and then we go into the lab of USA Swimming to review the turns and the strokes of each of the swimmers. In there, we divide up, with two coaches doing the stroke and two coaches doing the turns. The swimmers go through stations and spend time with the coaches, getting their analysis of their particular stroke.
For the first psychology review they receive a comparative analysis against national level swimmers. This is a review that shows them where their strengths and weaknesses are compared to national level athletes. For the swimmers that come to this camp, this is incredibly valuable to them because they are usually training at a fairly high level and have gotten to the point where they really do need to work on the psychological aspects of their race. Most of the time, a lot of these swimmers haven’t really ventured into that area, and really aren’t aware of their particular weaknesses.
We also have the blood draw results, which each swimmer receives. This is a very detailed list of your particular results and on it are highlighted where your problem areas are within your nutrition. There is a very thorough handout that you get with this. You go through this with the nutritionist to review not only what your weaknesses are and what might be causing them, but also how to correct them, and what you need to do within your own diet to change it that will help in your performance.
We have the flexibility and range of motion review, where each swimmer is assessed throughout the week for a personal assessment of things they can work on for their flexibility and range of motion. They are given a written assessment at the end, and this printout here is one page of the list of multiple pages of stretches that are very detailed. On each assessment, specific stretches are highlighted that will assist in improving their range of motion or flexibility in that specific area, and which stretches would be best for them to focus in on.
The physiology data review is fascinating and it includes a lot of graphs and diagrams from your testing and a review of the areas of training that would most benefit your swimming performance including a training plan for a season that includes specific amounts of time spent in the various energy systems and what your heart rate range should be during those energy systems. It’s an invaluable tool that the swimmers are able to take back and work on with their coaches, educating their coaches on what areas for their particular type of body type will best suit them in bringing them to another level.
We have the biomechanics data return where this information is gathered from the flume video taping, and as you can see here, this particular swimmer chose to do three of their swims in one stroke at three different paces. They chose a fourth stroke, which I didn’t include here, at a separate pace. Here it reviews the velocity, stroke rate, distance per cycle, and then down below, the specific point to work on, what areas need to be corrected within your stroke. It’s self-explanatory how beneficial that part is, and Scott does a beautiful job in this handout too.
The last testing we’ll go over is a buoyancy test that John T. Skinner goes through with each of the swimmers, and it’s a lot of fun to do. What you do is you go down to the bottom of a 6 to 7 foot depth pool, you’re held down there with a full breath of air, and they analyze the angle and speed at which you come up. Based on the information that John T. sees in the analysis and how much time it takes, they will classify you within a zone. Zone 1 is for distance and Zone 6 represents sprinters. The Zones in between are everything in between, which, at the camp, they get a little more specific as to what those Zones are. It’s a general test, but all the same, the information is very interesting. Each swimmer receives a handout of the results of the test and you can see here, we had John T. termed “quirk” and I believe it was the fastest that anyone has ever come up: 2.78 seconds, and that was pretty amazing. Another interesting thing, a few years ago, we had a swimmer that was a record holder for the mile, and he did this test, and came up a 6, which is sprinter. The highest zone of sprinter you can be, and that rarely happens. Most of the time, people are pretty close to the range that they think they should be swimming the best events; but that was pretty radical difference in opinion on what they thought their testing – what they should be swimming. Other contributing factors, besides this test, can be muscle physiology, meaning muscle fiber types, your natural strength and, of course, the feel for the water. So this isn’t hands-down what you’re going to be. There are other things to include, but it’s fun to have this information.
Opportunities after the camp
Sharing your knowledge is critical after the camp because of the information that you gain. There is no other camp around that can give you this same type of information. A few ways to do it are through hosting a clinic and submitting articles as well Dr. Miller will go into much better detail than I am here. The keys in hosting a clinic are:
Stretching for the most effect.
Figuring out what do the swimmers want to receive in the camp. You know, usually, they want to see their own strokes. They want to have analysis. They want to pick up new drills and technique ideas and after going to this camp, and a coach myself, it definitely broadens your knowledge a lot and your thoughts in swimming in general.
And, it is very important that when you share the information, to convey that there are ideas that you might not be as familiar with and with Masters, a lot of times, you run into the fact that “I have been swimming all of my life. I can’t change,” and, yet, if you truly want to improve, you have to always be willing and open to change, no matter how old you are. By presenting in a clinic-type fashion, it opens up for the master swimmers to maybe touch upon that “I might be able to change. Maybe if I work on this, I might be, because it makes sense.”
In setting up in the clinic, figuring do you want quality versus quantity. Do you want to whet their appetites and make it brief and maybe expand upon it later, or do you want to give a more thorough clinic.
And lastly, when submitting articles, your experience is important and worth sharing, and you can share it by submitting articles to your club, to your LSC or LMSC or to even various swimming publications. It’s invaluable information and once people know that you have attended and the type of information that you gained, it’s amazing how much questions people will present to you because they know of the experience that you have had. At least you have the resources so that if you don’t know the answer, you are given the resources to obtain answers. That’s one thing that training center staff does do: they give us all of their contact information, campers and coaches alike.
In conclusion, the high aptitude training camp is probably the most comprehensive camp that you can attend whether a coach or a swimmer, and we highly encourage swimmers and coaches to apply. Applications can be found on the USMS website and I have brought a couple of both applications as well for coaches and swimmers. We hope that will spread the word about this amazing, once in a lifetime, opportunity. Lastly, sharing the knowledge. Making sure that whenever you attend a camp, it’s important that the knowledge you receive, you share with those around you.
We’re very excited to have United States Masters swimming representatives at the ASCA convention. We are making a strong presence here and we’re feeling that the topics coming from age group coaches as well as Masters coaches are things we are trying to focus on. So, we certainly appreciate you being here and your participation, and I am delighted to be part of this forum. I am actually President of the United States Swimming Sports Medicine Society and we brought both organizations into the ASCA forum to actually increase the breadth of the exposure of coaches to these various aspects of swimming that we feel are critical to the success of age group as well as all other programs. We certainly welcome your input and welcome the filling out of surveys so that we can actually improve our presence and meet your needs actually better than they are already being met. The thing that I am going to be addressing is the topic of local clinics. In other words, when you leave here, you should be able to have a feel for how to set them up, how to make them appeal, how to attract people to them.
We hold a clinic in Virginia and there is the one in Walnut Creek, which, actually from the very inception, has have been successes right out of the block. Some clinics have grown over the years and have become successful, but the ingredients that these two clinics have had have been successful from the very beginning.
Fun: The first thing is the fact that you have to realize that the key ingredient to hear is “fun”. This is what brings masters athletes into your pool. This is what makes it very important for them to be seen as part of this. Without “fun” your masters will find other things that they can be doing. Selling you clinic from the direction of “fun” is important. We actually had fireworks display at one of our last ones– you don’t have to go that extreme.
In how to set up a clinic, a couple of topics you need to talk about. First one is a very basic one. What are you going to call it? That first line has such an impact upon the athletes, it’s incredible. It is going to be a fun name? Is it going to be “stroke technique clinic”. We host something in the United States Masters called Coach and Mentor Clinics, which means that an experienced coach comes into a locality and mentors a series of clinics. U.S. Masters Coach & Mentor Clinic – not exciting. Our name for ours is “Fall Festival”. I have “Spring Into Spring”. I have seen all kinds of different things like that, but once again the term is “fun”. It has got to be part of that logo. Picking a clinic staff, once again, you are there to entertain. You are there for fun. You are aware of the ratio of athletes to staff, keeping that personal, ongoing relationship is important. When we first held our very first one, the only thing we had, of course, were the names of the lecturers, the presenters as well as the fact that we emphasized fun as being part of our clinic. The very first time we held one, we had twenty coaches show up and 85 swimmers. And since then, we are up to thirty-some coaches and over a hundred swimmers and a lot of repeaters, which says that these people like what they are doing, critical aspect. This is the largest clinic still held in the United States.
Goal planning: who are you talking to, who are you presenting to. You have to decide that at the front sign. You can’t decide that after you get there and see who signed up. The angle, the pitch that you have is very different if you are doing an elite level camp, or if you are doing a fundamental camp, which emphasizes the basic of a particular stroke technique. Who are you aiming at? You are going to be more likely to hit them if you answer that question before you ever start. This is one of the things that Walnut Creek has done so successfully. Theirs initially started out being called an intensive training camp, so they would appeal to the elite athletes. They got there and they wanted to train hard. They wanted some stroke technique, but the art is mostly in the contact with the coaches. Ours was going from a coaching and instructional direction. Both of them very successful, and actually part of that success is the fact that we targeted who we were after and they knew, when they came, who they were. We’re starting to blend a little bit more workouts in ours and starting to attract some elite athletes. Carrie is starting to pick up some beginning athletes. We’re kind of blending while trying to keep our identifies as being unique, because that’s what we’re successful with.
Planning a unique social. You know you don’t have to have $20,000 worth of fireworks, but you have to have something that is fun. You have to have something that attracts people. We have a huge party at our house on the river, and we have boating. Make sure that whatever we do, and this has been as significant at the event for our facility as attracting athletes, you invite the family. If you look at the things that will cause athletes to drop out of your masters programs, the lack of involvement of the family into the structure of the masters “family” has an impact on your athletes. If the wife and kids come to a clinic and they have a great time, that athlete is coming back whether he wants to or not. If they have this drudgery time and there are a few pieces of stale pizza served on the side of the pool, you’re not going to see that family again. So, this is an important aspect that you have to understand, does impact the size of your clinic and success of your clinic. Make sure that if you have a host club that is sponsoring is relatively weak or getting started or this is the way that they are actually starting, that you involve that host club in the planning of the clinic, that you don’t just do it, walk in there, drop it in the pool, pick it up and walk away, because if you do that, there will not be a long term impact on the facility. So you want to leave the Masters Program in the facility stronger, because you have been there.
The local leader, ideally in that facility, has to be enthusiastic. When they take the phone calls for the 25th time answering the same question, they have to be able to be upbeat, enthusiastic. You’re going to have a great time. Please come. We look forward to meeting you. All of these things just need to roll off their tongue. Don’t overburden them because you want to keep that enthusiasm. If they are going in too many different directions, you’re going to have trouble.
Consider scholarships. If you have clubs that are trying to get started, if you have new facilities that are getting started, new teams getting started, have your LMSC look at scholarships for those coaches. Bring the coaches in. When I first started in the United States Masters Swimming, the ratio of turnover per year was 65% of all athletes, in a given year, would not renew the following year. Okay. That would put us going through most of the North American population in a period of about 20 years. You can’t sustain like that. At that time, there were very few coached programs, but the coached programs showed something interesting: their turnover was about 30%. So if you are trying to build a program, building solidarity of coaching and of the leadership and enthusiastic center is the key to that success. As you see the number of coached programs in the United States Masters climb, as see the development of professionalism of the coaches increase and as you see the coaches actually sitting in this room that are participating in this climb, you are seeing the success of Masters Swimming climb. Those two are parallel- they are not separate. They are not incidental. They are parallel.
Get continuing education through ASCA. These guys need credit just like you are getting right now, and it is nice to be able to provide that for them. So make that something that you can do and ASCA will work with you in doing that.
If you don’t market, they don’t come. We have talked about how to set up your brochures, how to set up your advertising. Make sure that you answer certain questions in every flyer. We have a check list to see if you have done this.
Why should I come?
Why is this clinic going to be any different for me?
Will I have fun?
Will my family have fun or will I go home being a goat, once again, having ruined another weekend? You have got to answer that question. It is critical.
What will I come away with, which could be a code for how many T-shirts will my closet hold? If you are doing a T-shirt, which I would suggest, because that’s marketing for you in the future every time they stick it on and swimmers tend to wear “swimmers stuff”, make sure that you have a basic team or camp logo that is repetitive logo, so that it is an identifying logo. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same every year, but kind of blend it into different things. You can make each shirt a little bit different, but that core logo that is your identifying mark should be kept, and that way the identification and the impact will be increasing as you had these guys out.
Consider a video. With or without audio is fine. However you want to do it, underwater or above water (underwater views are certainly popular), certainly something that we don’t see. There are a large number of opportunities that you have here, looking at different cameras are available at the ASCA vendors section, but if you’re not so inclined or your facility is just getting started with these things, there is a USMS loaner program that currently exists. Currently, we’re dealing with Snooper, but we have looked at other types of cameras to be considered. That’s out there, and it costs you nothing. It costs you a bundle of money up front, but that money is returned when you return the snooper in the same number of pieces that it arrived in.
Other things you need to be asking or answering in your brochures: what strokes will be covered, how flexible are you going to be. If you get a phone from a swimmer that says “about these strokes, how flexible are you on these?” That’s code, that says “do I have to do butterfly?” That’s what they are asking. How flexible are you with that. Now, we teach, in fact one year, we actually started a series of clinics in the beginning of our season and we started with fly being our basic stroke. We wanted that undulation motion to be in every stroke as much as we could. And our swimmers dropped time like you’ve never seen before, because they had the core motion as their core under which they developed all other strokes. So, even if you don’t have everybody fly, I would encourage you to clearly get that linking aspect of the dolphin motion. We always tell our athletes that the only two things that don’t go through the water with undulation are you and your dog, and it’s no accident that we are the two slowest things on the planet. The undulation is clearly it.
Sell the staff and build excitement. Is it an elite camp? If it is an elite camp, say so. If you are going to appeal to the fastest of the fast of the fast, the other people will find. You’re not going to surprise them, but tell them who it is aimed at. Once again, who is your audience? Will it be training sessions, and if so, how far and how long. Are you going to do doubles and trying to go everybody as 10,000 or are you going to do a single, 45 minute work out at the end of each taping sessions. How are you going to put this together? Last thing on there, which is particularly important to swimmers, is, is there food, is there beer, and is beer a carbohydrate? You have to be able those questions. Who is your audience, once again. Here are your groups to consider:
Elite athletes. An elite has kind of an interesting term. Elite can be speed, but elite can also be a mindset. I mean, I have some folks that are not that fast, but the are ferocious competitors, and in all aspects, they are elite individuals, although a stopwatch would kind of put them in the middle of the road.
Fitness. We don’t know what fitness is, if you think about it. If you talk to most of the “elite people”, you say why are you swimming, and they say for health – I feel better, I perform better, I do better at my job, my wife & kids can stand me if I work out. They can’t if I don’t. They will give you lots of reasons, but rarely is it “I want swim a 49.5 in my hundred freestyle.” Even your elite/competitive athletes are looking at fitness.
Triathletes. You have to assume that all triathletes are competitive until proven otherwise. And, they will come to you, not necessarily fast, but with a competitive mindset. Once again, they have an elite, competitive mindset and they have a bicycle that costs more than your house.
Coaches. Our clinic, in specific, does aim at coaches as well as athletes. Carrie’s clinic, for instance, aims mostly at athletes. Coaches can learn things, but that’s a secondary approach that their group has.
Are these beginners or are these learn-to-swimmers? Are you going to have people show up with great big fins and swim on their back because they don’t know how to breathe? We’ve had that happen before, despite our marketing. How are you going to cope with that, how are you going to work with that? Is a Masters experience going to be enhanced because you have been there or you just going to drop the clinic in for another one or walk away or is that group going to be stronger because you were there.
Coach developmental programs, of course, are critical, as I have indicated by the longevity of the success of the Masters programs. There is a long-term vision of starting as basic and progressing on to two track systems are considered. We started ours very basic, and now we actually have two tracks it divides into. So not only does it attract those coaches that have been present with us before, but as well as those that are new and coming in that and are not threatened by those people that have all of the knowledge from the past. We have actually several different tracks. This year, we are having three tracks. We are having a track for this, a track for anyone who wants to get certification stuff under their belt, as well as the elite track for coaches. Coach certification we have touched on as to how that’s done and what the interest is in offering it.
All programs must include your technical as well as motivational aspects. Okay. I want you to think about these two terms. Technical – all of the coaches want to know what’s the newest thing in butterfly or freestyle or whatever. So you want the technical component to hone their skills, kind of bring them up and many times you’re not teaching something new, you’re kind of re-emphasizing the basics and re-emphasizing the importance of the basics as how to go fast. The second one here, when you finish with your coaches, they should come out of your clinic stoked. I mean they should be excited. They should be ready to roll. They should be hardly able to get into the pool because they got new stuff to share. So, make sure that in your clinic to coaches, that the motivational side is strong. Okay, we have some motivational speakers who, by the time they’re halfway through their talk, these guys down to their bathing suits, ready to get out there. You really want them to roll. For the coaches, you need to excite the coaches. The athletes are excited because you are taking pictures of them and showing them how they are doing, and so forth and so on. But you want to motivate your coaches. It is critical.
Clinic feedback. Got to have it. Just like Scott just handed out to you. The only way we can get better is to seek what your needs are, if we are hitting those needs on the nail – fine, we’ll keep doing it. If we are a little off the side, fine, we’ll do it. If we’re far of the mark, we’ll change it and come back. How do you get these things back? You hand out handouts all of the time. How many of those do you get back? The average is 35%. The rest of them are littering your pool deck and at the end have to be cleaned up. There is a way to do it. They turn in their clinic handout in order to get their shirt. Success rate: 100%. So you don’t hand out the shirts at the beginning, you hand it out at the end, when they turn in their evaluation form.
Read the evaluations and share the responses with the coaches. Don’t just put them in a box. Let the other coaches know. Most of the coaches that come in and work with us, in which case, the one we have coming up, I think we have 6 presenters. They are very interested in what people think of what they are saying. Are they dry? Are they exciting? Would people come back? Do they want to hear it again? They want that feedback, so make sure you give it to them. Make the evaluations anonymous. Don’t even put a place there for their name. Don’t invite them to put their names. You will get more accuracy from that.
Okay, here are some clinic things to think about. Have a clinic folder with handouts and acknowledgements of anyone that is a sponsor. That comes in as the athlete comes. Make sure that one of the first things you do is you thank your sponsors,. If there is a representative in the area from the people that are sponsoring you, invite one of them to your clinic. Give them a clinic slot. Have them part of it, so they know they are being recognized, so that they can say “Joe Smith, over here, represents this arena and we would like to thank him for the contribution of these pamphlets for the clinic – can you stand up over here?” I mean, they’ll come back the next time. We have already done that in this clinic and there are vendors coming to us saying “can you take our money?” and we go “maybe”– so acknowledge.
Summary of the guest coaches and other participating coaches. This is once again a sale to the coaches. This is an acknowledgement of their efforts. It is an acknowledgement of their expertise. It is how to sell them and the level of the program that your are presenting. Make sure you hand out caps at the beginning and that you have someone to write the individuals’ names on both sides of the cap – do NOT let an athlete write his own name or her name on – ever. You will experience some interesting penmanship. But it makes a big difference to the athlete if the coach on deck, with 45 people he has never seen before, is able to say “Joe, could you just show me that freestyle entry again”. Huge difference. Write on both sides. You can get the real short video things that don’t cost you much at all. It makes it simpler than trying to say “Oh, I need four boxes for this and I need three boxes for that” and just include it in the cost.
Do not undervalue your clinic. If your clinic costs you a certain amount to hold, price it at that. If you have guest lecturers coming in, cover their expenses. Don’t say “You know we really want you to come in, but could you do it for free and…” Do you know what it’s worth? Charge it. If it’s triathletes, and you see their bicycles, don’t pay anything. Make the clinic support itself, once again.
Now there are some subsidies that can be gotten from United States Masters. Right now, we have the mentor clinics. We are working on other clinics on the local and regional level that will be of help, and we are coming out of this convention that starts next week. So there are other opportunities that are certainly going to be there and there is some support. Smaller facilities can certainly handle these through rental programs and assistance that United States Masters offers, as we clearly know that our growth and our goals and our visions for the future are tied to you guys in this room. That’s where the success is. That’s where the longevity of your athletes is. Schedule your video times. Have a sign up sheet in the beginning. They can see the schedule. This is going on at this time, this is going on at this time. Have them sign up for when they go: “You are to report at this video station at 10:30 in the morning.” Let them sign up for what the videotaping is conflicting with.
Don’t just stop the clinic to go do videos. You will find your clinic is disrupted. If they have schedule video when they know they are supposed to be at that video station for their tapes to be done – fine. You will also tend to find that about a 20-30% of people won’t necessarily want to be seen on tape, for different reasons. “Oh, I looked the same way last year” or, “I would rather have spent the time working on this breaststroke, rather than going over there and doing this?” So, don’t force everybody to be videoed, they may not want it. We had one example of a fairly elite swimmer, that I am afraid had gained a fair amount of weight, through not fault of her own, of course, but we did this video and tend to share them in groups of like 6 to 8 people. So, we flipped this video up and she started laughing and pointing, and “who is this” and realized it was her. We haven’t seen her again. But, so not everybody wants to be videoed. Break into small groups of no more than 8 to review the videos.
Pair your inexperienced coaches with your experienced coaches. Your inexperienced coaches want to hear how you evaluate things and how you approach things; they want to learn from what you’re saying. A lot of the inexperienced coaches are scared to death of videos because you show them a stroke and they’ll see this swimmer wiggling down the people and they’ll wonder “how do I figure this out?” They want to hear what you have to say. Se we pair them up so that they can be part of the mentoring process, part of the learning process.
We’ll go ahead and field some questions, and I will kind of share the mike back & forth with Janet. So, if you have any questions, one of us will answer.
QUESTION: The question was: How do you organize the videos. Do you organize them and take them through in groups for the video? Her statement was that she likes it when there is a stop in the clinic so nothing is missed while you “quickly go and have your video done.”
RESPONSE: First off, don’t think that having your video done and the word ”quickly” can be together in the same sentence. So what we do is we actually schedule 10 minute slots per person, and so we start at 9 o’clock in the morning. We video till 2:30 in the afternoon, and they just pick their slot. They’re going to miss something while they are off doing that, but they are not going to miss much of it. They know where to be, they know when to be there. Each athlete has their own tape. We have two lanes going. I will have a lane that’s doing above-water video and I will have a lane doing that doing under-water video and we have two people signed up for the same slot. So, one person is doing above water while the other is doing underwater and then they switch. We just switch the tape back & forth between the two video people and we actually hire the video people to come in and do it. It doesn’t cost that much. The way we do it is that we give them a free trip to the clinic, and these are all swimmers who are excited about being there, so then the athlete takes their tape and they walk away. The next day, as the summation of the clinic when we are done, we stack the tapes up and somebody takes 8 tapes and goes to this, and we have 6 different stations and we sit down with a coach, experienced, and one or two inexperienced coaches and do video. In fact, this last time, we had an experienced coach and 4 underling coaches underneath one at each station, we had so many coaches there, and they loved it.
QUESTION: Emmett: What kind of coach to swim ratio do you use?
RESPONSE: I think clearly it depends on your audience. We try not to get a ratio of any greater than 1:6, and we have all the way from prior Olympians to people learning. We try not to do learning to swim, but it’s been close sometimes. But then again, we have a huge clinic coaching participation. Last year, we had 35 coaches show up, so we had a ratio of 1:3 or 1:4.
QUESTION: <What kind of coaches do you have for the clinic>
RESPONSE: We have a staff that I work with of 5 seasoned coaches, levels 5 through 3. We then bring in two mentor coaches in addition to them, so we have 7-8 full-fledged experienced coaches on deck, and then the rest of our coaches sign in to the clinic.
QUESTION: I am age group coach and Masters athlete. Sometimes, I don’t have enough time for when the clinic is scheduled. Do you have any experience for offering a broken clinic where you have say two or three hours for multiple routines?
RESPONSE: If you provide a party, they will come. Period. We have never had somebody early on the first day. In fact, we have people that come in the second day and come in early for the party. We encourage that. It’s never been an issue. Now we do have both days. Our clinic is actually Friday night, Saturday & Sunday. We bring in the coaches Friday night, do a big session with them and bring in the coaches Saturday morning, do a big session with them, then the swimmers come in, do their sessions, party. The morning on Sunday is much the same. The coaches start first, and the swimmers drag in later. We have to put the coaches to bed, to make sure they go there. On Sunday, we take the swimmers and then finish up around noon with the water stuff, and then we do videos until about 2:30 and it’s done. We do have a Saturday and Sunday session that can be offered, but we have never had people having to leave in the middle of the day. Once again, the “party” is the anchor. It’s critical, just critical.
QUESTION: Is there a role for Masters camps where they actually go do sleep-aways?
RESPONSE: And the answer is “yes, there are, clearly are.” Once again, how much enthusiasm can you sustain? Do you have the energy and the staff to it? Will it be fun for the entire time? Clearly the Olympic Training Center experience is an incredible experience, and having been one of the people that helped set up that experience and having witnessed it several times, those people, if you said, how about another week, they would sign the line before they even turned around. Those camps are certainly out there. But, I think the question is “Do you have enough material?” You really want to sustain that enthusiasm. You really want them to leave excited. I think, that when you are looking at multiple day camps, you are also looking at an issue of having to do with fitness and you are, therefore, taking the casual, maybe once a week, twice a week swimmer, and they are not going to do as well in camp sustained. So you are heading more towards an elite type of camp when you do that. The Walnut Creek camp that I have referred to several times is 2 ½ days of really “booking” it. They are putting in some yardage and they are loving it. Could it go to another day or two? Not a problem. Those guys would stay longer. As long as you feed the pancakes, they will keep coming.
QUESTION: <How do you sustain a clinic in terms of athletes getting tired and cold?>
RESPONSE: I will address that and let Janet address that also. I think a point that he has brought out that even if all you are doing is stroke drills, these people are going to put in a fair amount of yardage, and everybody will be exhausted. If you’re going to have a camp and when you’re working stroke drills, as what we do, you need to have tremendous amount of attention to water temperature. It’s got to be a little warmer to do that, okay. When the enamel is falling off your teeth, your attention span is shorter. You can’t be out there shivering. You have to be comfortable. So, I think that that element is certainly there also. The other thing is that when you put a video camera in the water, those people will gut themselves to go fast. They want to see fast. It’s interesting that your elite swimmers won’t necessarily show you fast. They want to see how they really swim. The people that are kind of on the edge, they’ll show everything they got. And if you say “the camera just didn’t work that time. Could you do it again?” There is this baleful look that you get. I don’t know if I can do that yet. So, they do get tired and they will build up lactic acid and they’ll do a lot of other things. I was impressed this past year. For the first year, we put in a training session and the training session helped their recovery. They weren’t dragging all that lactic acid around with them. So when we had them train, it actually made the intensity of the experience less. We did a lot of work with strokes and drills, and we did a lot of things in a “work out” setting. They were able to pace it out and get rid of all of that stuff. I think that actually helped them. It’s just another thought.
Janet: For the high altitude camp, we definitely focused on strictly the technique aspects. We do allow them the first day, just the first session, to spend time just swimming and getting used to the altitude. They get only an hour to an hour and one-half of strictly technique, no speed work. We also deal with the water temperature factor because the pool temperature there is somewhat lower. Fortunately and unfortunately, at the training center, they have a Jacuzzi. Once that gets discovered, when you get into a stroke that they are not as interested in, they usually sneak out. Especially at this high altitude camp, finding a balance is probably the most important, where we instruct for a while, work on specific drills and then give them time to work at their own pace on the drills of their choosing that we have reviewed. That way then can keep themselves moving and make it so we don’t lose them to the jacuzzi quite so quickly.
If any of you have other questions about the altitude training camps, I have been a physician, coach, and athlete at the Olympic Training camps myself. Scott Rewald has been one of the coaches at the training center. Carrie O’Brien was another Olympic training camp coach. Mike Collins was another Olympic training camp coach. We have a lot of us around here and you happily pick all of our brains. I don’t think I left anybody out that’s here, have I? We have a lot of us here that we can share these experiences with you.
QUESTION: In the taping sessions, you allow 10 minutes per slot per person?
RESPONSE: We bring in two athletes at the same time. There is a lane between them. So, this one is going under water. We have a free lane, underwater video, free lane, above water video, free lane. Two people start. This guy has 5 minutes underwater. This guy has 5 minutes above water. We flip the tape. 5 minutes, 5 minutes. You’re out. Next group.
QUESTION: <You don’t have a warm-up before taping? >
RESPONSE: No. They are in doing the other stuff in the clinic. It kind of depends on where they are in the rest of the clinic as to whether they are warmed up or not, and we can’t really control that. I mean some athletes want to just get in and get it done and other people want to have this, you know, big warm up before they do, in which case, there are workouts before this thing occurs, available, that are coached. Then there are the instructional sessions, the drills sessions, and all of that stuff that’s going on in the background. That’s why we have taken two people and said, “you video here, you video here, and here’s your schedule. See you.” And the relief the coaches have in their eyes, particularly the organizers of your camp is incredible to see. We also have encouraged the learning coaches to go over and see how the video is being done, cause that’s frequently that something that kind of throws them off. So they are kind of in & out helping with that too.
QUESTION : <How do you decide who analyzes the tapes?>
RESPONSE: We collect the tapes. Those people that may be leaving on Saturday, after the party, can take their tape and go home and view on their own with their own coach if they like. Those people that are staying to Sunday, we just collect the tapes and we just grab a handful and we take off and yell their names and off they come with us. We don’t let them select the coach they go with. That’s critical. Because, we’ve had on occasion, where we’ve had some great technical coaches that maybe just didn’t enthuse, sitting there with two people, and then this other coach, that may have less fundamental knowledge, maybe a newer coach, but which is bubbling with enthusiasm, with this pile of people behind them which goes on for hours. So, we mix them, and if at the end of it somebody wants to bring me a tape, I’ll look at it, too.
QUESTION: Do you recommend organizing clinics like this once a year?
RESPONSE: We do it annually.
QUESTION: Would you do this twice a year or three times to water down the material?
RESPONSE: I think it depends on your group. I think it depends on if you are able to achieve. The question was “how many can you do in a year?” Okay, how many can you organize and live through in a year? If you have a finely-tuned machine, and you have the system to do three different ones, I would strongly encourage you to pick your audiences and make them different. Don’t hit the same ones every time. Don’t say “we’re having a coach clinic. We’re having a coach clinic.” It has to be a different focus, to be successful. What I was finding and the reason that we did ours as a fall festival, as I showed you, is that I found that each year when I started up the “new short course season” I was doing a series of clinics, and I’d pick a stroke a week and we’d kind of do it. Well, I said, “let’s just do a weekend and do it” and really have fun. So, we do it once a year at the beginning of the short course season. We have ours coming up, I think, in two weeks.
QUESTION: What is your definition of “elite”?
RESPONSE: I think you as the organizer of your clinic defines that definition. In the Olympic Training Center, I will have Janet address how that one is done. Ours is not an elite clinic. We don’t market it as an elite clinic. But our elite athletes know we have enough elite coaches, they all walk away from a good experience as well as a “party”. The Walnut Creek camp, at one time, listed that you had be to able to do 10×100 on 1:30 in yards to be eligible to attend. There was a time cut-off. Now the elite level at the Olympic Training Center is done very differently and I will have Janet address that.
Janet: We focus on their swimming achievements, current and national record holders, top 10 placing, as well as their current level of training and what they’ve done for Masters swimming itself.
But once again, this is something I would encourage you, in your brochure to make very clear, who you are focusing on. Is it just: here’s the time – make it, you do or you don’t, is it you’re accomplishments within the sport and who you are within your age group, is it not only…. If you focus well on who you want, they will come, they will feel comfortable with where they are, there is no presumptions in there.
QUESTION: Do you do audio with your tapes? How much do we pay coaches?
RESPONSE: The answer is “No.” We did above water, once upon a time. We found it cumbersome. You’ve tied up your coaches. Below water, we found it relatively impossible. Just too much stuff to do it. It can be done, but difficult. So the answer is “No.” Um, Walnut Creek, also you do not. If you’re going to assign people to do your videos for you, they can’t have commentary. We want our coaches coaching. We don’t want our coaches tied to those things.
The second question was “How much do we pay coaches?” The cost of the clinic for us, I think, is running around $55. That’s for the whole weekend. It’s $30 for each day, and the party is something silly, like $10. It’s not much of anything, and we always have more people at the party than are ever at the clinic. Usually about 200 come to the party. As far as the coaches, for the mentor coach, we pay everything. We pay for their flights. They stay at our house, since that’s where the party is, that’s where they want to be anyway. And then they get an honorarium that has varied anywhere between $200 and $500 in addition to that, cause we have found that the more money that we put in to it, the more money we get out of it. Profit has been in the range of two to three thousand dollars after everything has been paid for, and it goes to the LSMC. It’s not hosted by a club, it’s hosted by the LSMC and that’s the money they actually use to send the convention delegates with.
QUESTION: Are other coaches paid?
RESPONSE: They are not paid. No. They don’t pay the fee either. They get the ASCA credits. They get the experience. They get the knowledge. They don’t have to pay the fees. But they are not paid positions.
QUESTION: What do you mean by scholarships?
RESPONSE: For the coaches. I meant that I would encourage you to look at scholarships or some financial assistance for new programs or new coaches or ones that are just getting started that you really want to encourage. You get a new club started and suddenly your LMSC has 80 members.
QUESTION: <What does the $10 cover?>
RESPONSE: Just the cost of the party.
QUESTION: You have non-clinic participants come to the party?
RESPONSE: Right. We have actually had had spouses attend without the athlete. “You know my husband was away on this trip, but we really wanted to come to the party, and so, we do!”
QUESTION: <Do you have other activities for swimmers to do in between sessions?>
RESPONSE: We have done that in the past. We had a golf tournament associated with this thing one time. We had a fun run associated with this one time. We had, there was a local arts festival going on and we shuttled them out there. Right across the road from where we live, there is an exotic animal farm. We take the kids through that. There’s all kinds of stuff you can do. We found that most of them kind of thought “No, we’ll take care of ourselves.” We live in the city of Richmond, VA and there’s lots of historic stuff and things to see and we have really stopped doing because it just didn’t seem necessary. It was a kind of overkill. But, we have done it in the past.
QUESTION: <Do you do sessions after you’ve taped them once?>
RESPONSE: We will give them a video. Of course review their video with them. Here’s what you should do, here’s what you shouldn’t do and “thank heavens” you don’t do that any more because we fixed it here in this clinic. And, then they can take that video back to their own coaches or do what they want. It would be nice, I agree, to get them back in and do another session, but we never felt like a Sunday afternoon session repeat was something that the staff could sustain and live through. It just takes a lot of time. Because, then they are going to want to have the video reviewed again…more steps.
QUESTION: How many people are at the clinic?
RESPONSE: Average is about 30 coaches, but anywhere between 85 and 110 swimmers.
QUESTION: <Can you start small?>
RESPONSE: Absolutely, you can start small.
QUESTION: <Can you start small with a 4-hour clinic?>
RESPONSE: Again, focus you group. If you do a four-hour mini-clinic, you’re not going to draw from a big area and your coaching participation may tend to be less unless you tie a 4-hour instructional session or something for coaches in addition to that. That’s assuming that you’re interested in coaching coaches as well as coaching athletes, which I am. And Carrie’s camp is mostly athlete-driven and not as much coach-driven. I think you have to understand which group you’re after. Will swimmers show up for 4 hours of instruction, swimming, video, video review? They will, but it will tend to be local, and depends on your area has that locality to support that. Okay? And, then if you wan to have a “social” after that, once again, pull in the social side, pull in the fun side. I think you certainly can, uh, depends on how big Masters is in your area. Depends on how good your marketing is. Depends on how well you focus as to whether that could be done. Could you hold a free-style-only clinic? We’ve done that before. You know, we had a room set up this size, and 10 people showed up. The following week, we held one that was three days long, and it filled up. You won’t necessarily see the size of being smaller being more successful. If you have big pool rentals involved, you may want to consider small dips of the toe before you go financially under.
QUESTION: <Do you do clinics and video tied in with meets?>
RESPONSE: We do videos all the time. There is another way to do this, by the way, and I was involved, years ago, in a clinic that we did in Syracuse, NY, that I did with John Collins once and I do with Doc. Councilman once.We went in and we did Friday night, Saturday morning, and then there was a swim meet Saturday afternoon, and that worked, cause the athletes coming in for the meet, and the meet started like warm up like noon, meet started at 1 and that worked. There were like a 4-hour little meet, and they had a social after the meet, and that worked, and it tied it into some other thing. If you’re going to do short ones, you may want to look at tie-ins to other events too in the area.