Irvine Nova Aquatics Program by Dave Salo (1999)


It’s not the first time I’ve given a talk. I’m probably more nervous because I’m not sure that the computer program is going to work right. Then, we’re all up a creek. Anybody that came in late, or is looking for a different room, Jack Bauerle is speaking in the room next door. So if you want to leave now, that’s O.K. I was asked to speak really about the program of the Irvine Nova Aquatics, the entire program, and kind of give a picture of what the program is about and maybe what the source of success of the program is and where it’s going, where it’s been. But I’ve got one person I really have to thank today, and I don’t know if he’s in the room. If he’s in the room, that’s great. I’ve only told this story privately, but I was working on a degree at U.S.C. in 1990, and somebody came to me and said that the Novas still hadn’t found a coach yet, and why don’t you get your resume out there and see if they might hire you. And I wasn’t really interested in going back into club coaching. I had actually started coaching back in 1978 with a small club program and just outside of Los Angeles and was there for six years. We had one senior national qualifier at one point and one junior national qualifier, and that was about it, and we weren’t going anywhere. But I was working on my degree at U.S.C. and somebody said, why don’t you throw in your resume, and I did on a lark, because I didn’t want to really be a swim club coach.  I thought I was going to be a research scientist. I thought I was going to move to Albany, New York and that was going to be my career, training rats rather than training kids. So   I sent my resume in and they granted me an interview and such illustrious coaches in this room probably today. Steve Boltman was interviewed for the job and decided he didn’t want it, for whatever reason. But there was one other guy who actually accepted the job after I’d been interviewed, and on his way home he decided not to take the job. And so as he was going home to Arizona, he decided not to go to Irvine, he decided to stay home in Arizona, and I got a second interview because Bob decided not to take the job in Irvine. So, I really owe this opportunity to Bob probably more than to anybody else, so Bob, if you’re in the room, thank you. If Bob’s not in the room, if you’d please thank Bob for me if you see him in passing today.


I’ve been in the program since 1990 and the program that I inherited was not much of a program at all. It had a history. It had a history since 1981 when it was begun by Flip Dahr, in Irvine, and most of you know Flip Dahr, he’s probably one of our greatest distance coaches in the country. He coached John Mikenen, who was a member of the Irvine Nova Aquatics back in 1984 to the silver medal in the 400 free and American record holder at 800 meter freestyle. John Mikenen now is a chiropractic doctor living in the Irvine area, and he actually swims with our Master’s program, and I’ve gotten him to actually swim with my group a little bit because he’s probably one of our best distance swimmers still in our program. But that’ another story. We’ll talk about that later too. This opening line is basically welcome to the Irvine Nova Aquatics, and what I hope to do is give you a brief history of the program and to let you know that we didn’t win the national championship back in 1991. Back in 1991, we were a very meager program, but the history had presented itself, and I think that a part of the reason why the program has become successful. Somebody’s beeping. It’s O.K. But back in 1981, Flip Dahr started the program.


There have only been three head coaches in the history of the Irvine Nova Aquatics. And even though it’s gone through highs and lows and valleys and peaks, I think one of the reasons for the success of the program to date is because of the stability of the program. Flip Dahr coached from 1981 to 1988, Mindy Daugherty in 1988 to 1990, and at one point she had been the head age group coach and I’ve been there since 1990. Most of my coaching staff has been there with me since that time as well. But some of the highlights, as I say, John Mikenen in 1984 is an Olympic silver medalist, and if we just look at the history in terms of Olympics, the next time around for the Irvine Nova Aquatics to rise to the Olympic level was Amanda Beard in 1996, where she won a gold and two silver, and is also the current American record holder in the 100 meter breaststroke. In 1997, the team for the first time, won the junior national west title, the team championship title. We also won the women’s title at that point in time. This past summer, we won the junior nationals west team title again, and it’s not our priority to win the team championship at junior nationals. Our priority is to win the national championship, which we finally accomplished this past Spring.


All of us as coaches out here, I think back in 1978 when I started, aspired to certain things in our coaching career, and one obviously was to win the national championship, to place somebody on the Olympic team, to be an Olympic coach. I have been an Olympic coach. I was the Olympic coach for Turkey in 1992. My goal is still is to become an Olympic coach for the American team, and as I recall Murray Stevens talking about that a few years back, you have to be 50 to be a member of the elite group of Olympic coaches, so I’ve got a few years to go.


In 1990, the program that I inherited was I think a relatively small program compared to the program it’s become. It was a 250 member club. In 1991, at the age group junior Olympics, we were a top 20 team. And that’s just nice to say that  we were a crappy team in southern California and we were wallowing in maybe 20 to spot at the local junior Olympics. In 1991, we had 8 junior national qualifiers, and I think one or two of them made the consolation finals at the junior national championships. We had nobody going to the senior national championships. Nobody was qualified for the Olympic trials in 1991. Now, this slide is really kind of the beginning story of what I think this message is about this first half. The second half I’ll talk more about training and training design and get into that a little more specifically.


I think the events that helped start the Nova Aquatic program is the goal of 1993. And the goal of 1993, I had been there maybe a couple of years. We were in a very good program, and I sat down with my assistant coach, Ken LaMott, and we said that we had to have some kind of a goal for 1993. Because we needed something to ignite the program and get it on the road toward the successful vision that I had had for it. So we met together in the Fall, and we sat down and said What do we want to do? So we agreed that our goal was to be a top 10 team at the local junior Olympics. We were putting aside anything like nationals or junior nationals. Our goal was to be a top 10 team at the junior Olympics. We met with the senior squad, and we said that our goal was the top 10 JOs. And they all thought that was O.K., but they wanted to win. And Ken and I said, I don’t think that’s realistic. Let’s think about tenth. Oh no, let’s win this thing, let’s win. And Ken and I compromised and said how about 5. How about top  5 at the local junior Olympic championships? And so they said, O.K., you guys are mediocre, but we want to win, but O.K., JO’s is fine.


So through September to our Spring JO meet in March, the rallying cry came forward. JO’s. Everybody wore JO’s on their suits. They put little tattoos on their arms. And every Wednesday night we’d get the entire team together, which could fit in our pool, and we’d do a team workout, and the focus was JO’s. I’d get on the microphone, like I probably don’t need a microphone, but we’d get on the microphone and we’d chant and we’d yell and we’d scream and we’d cheer, and for an hour and a half workout with everybody, we would talk about being a top 5 team at the JOs.


Well, we got to JOs and the way they do it in southern California, they use to break it up… youngers one weekend and older the second weekend, and after the younger weekend, we were in I think about 9th or 10th place, and we weren’t doing all that well and the pressure was on and we had some really good teams in southern California that had always been our top programs and got there the first day, and the kids were swimming crappy, and I told them so. And I said, You’re wasting an opportunity here to be JO 5. And they came back that first night and started to swim, and started to swim with a passion that changed the focus of the program. The only reason we didn’t win that meet is because we had 3 swimmers who were a little bit selfish, who decided not to come. If they had shown up, we would have won the meet, but it left us hungry for something a little bit more. We haven’t lost the junior Olympic championships since 1993, and that’s including spring and summer.


Now, JOs to nationals, that’s a different story, but what the story is about, which I think I picked up from Pete Morgan yesterday, and I think the story that I try to leave as a message is that it doesn’t matter where you are or what kind of facility you’re running out of, it’s about having the vision and having an environment where somebody like an Ed Moses, who comes into your program, is going to have his goals met because you’re prepared for that. And that’s what I think a lot of this first part of the talk is about, is about creating the vision and creating the environment for your vision to take hold and accomplish. In 1996, our goal was to put two swimmers on the U.S. Olympic team.


Now, this started in 1994. We went from being second at JO, and I said O.K., now we’re going to put two people on the Olympic team, I had nobody with Olympic trial standards in 1995 or 1994. But I met with my senior program again, and I said that I think that should be the goal, the Olympic trials are coming up in two years and we have to be prepared for that, and our goal is… my goal, if everybody buys into it, is to put two people on the Olympic team. They bought into  it in 1996. Amanda Beard made the Olympic team, and she only started training with me in 1995, and Steve West, who fell short by ½ a second. He joined the program in 1995.  So a year after establishing a goal and trying to create the environment and having that focus, we had the athletes that were capable.


By 1996, we had 5 swimmers at the Olympic trials from none in 1994. In 1998, I thought, well, you know, 1996 worked pretty well. Let’s see if I’ve got any kind of rapport with my program, and we decided that our goal at the national level was to place 6 swimmers on the U.S.A. national teams that would compete for 1999. And at closed nationals, we put 1 person on the universal games team, 3 on the Pan Am games team, and 2 on the Pan Pacific team. So I met the goal that we verbalized and we committed ourselves to back in 1998. Now, I had a couple of swimmers join the program, so it increased our numbers at the Pan Am games to 4 and 3 at Pan Pacs, and we began to get on a kind of a roll, I guess.


Our goal in 2000 is one that I think is achievable, and it’s to place 4 swimmers on the U.S.A. Olympic team. Now, I have the athletes believing that the things that I say come true and the parents believe that the things that I say come true, that if he’s going to step on the limb an say we’re going to put 4 people on the Olympic team, maybe he’s right. He hasn’t been wrong too much yet. I think we’ll put more on. But I know that I’ve got the athletes in my program. They’re stepping up, going I want to be one of the 4.


Now, for all of us, and I had this conversation last night over a beverage, that we all, as coaches, go through the process of comfort, I think. In 1992, I happened to be on the Olympic staff for Turkey. Jack Rigby and I were the Olympic coaches for Turkey. I got to Barcelona, and was on the deck, and felt so out of sorts, I didn’t belong there, this was the Olympic games, I don’t belong at the Olympic games, I’m not that good of a coach. But as I saw other coaches that I knew who were friends of mine that were coaching Malaysia and Philippines, and Timbuktu and Burma, and I realized that we were walking on the same deck and I didn’t think I was any less a coach than anybody else there, that I began to realized that it’s just a swim meet and it’s O.K., that I can be here. I think I stepped out of that situation of not believing in myself and believing that I could expect greater expectations from my athletes and be bold enough to suggest that we might put 4 Olympic team members on the U.S.A. team.


Now, I went to Pan Pacs a couple of weeks ago, and I felt as inadequate as I probably have ever felt, as the Australians were going 341 and 146 and South Africans were going I know our work is cut out for us, but I’m glad I had the presence of mind to be there, to witness one of the most amazing meets in the history of swimming.


Now, a program’s success or failure is certainly reflective of its committed participants and I think that’s one of the strengths of our program. I’ve been there since 1990, most of my coaching staff has been with me through most of that time. I have always admired such coaches as Pete Malone and Murray Stevens and Dick Shoulberg, who have been with the programs that they’ve either started or hired on to for sometimes over twenty years. But I think that’s what creates a program, is sticking to your guns and staying where you are and if all things fall into place, I think we can all be fairly successful.


Athletes are certainly an important part of the equation, and I’ve been extremely fortunate to have some of the finest athletes, I think, in southern California, and certainly those that have subscribed to what we have tried to do in a training mode and gotten motivated and excited about what we are trying to do, and we’ve had some good kids come through the age group program. We’ve had some good kids who have decided that our program is the program to be in to meet their goals. Like a Bobby Brewer who joined us a couple of years ago from Georgia.


Parents and volunteers are extremely important. I’ve been very fortunate and lucky to have parents who have been very cooperative, and we’ve all had our non-cooperative parents in our careers, but I don’t think they’re the enemy. I think they’re an important part of the equation, because they get the kids to practices, they support or don’t support the coaching staff. I’ve been, again, fortunate to have parents who recognize the professionalism of our coaching staff, and I think we try to treat them in a professional manner as well. It doesn’t always happen that way. I’ve had my fights on the deck as all of us have.We’ve got tremendous community support. I’ve got a city that has decided in the next couple of years to rebuild our facility and not to decrease its size, but to increase its size to two 50 meter pools.


Now, facilities are important, and we do have a tremendous facility. But that facility was not full when I took over in 1990. What we have is a 50 meter pool that we have fairly exclusive use of from 4:30 till about 8:30 at night. We have a teaching pool during the year that we get to use. It’s a 25 yard by 6 lane pool. During the summer we can’t use it. We also have a diving tank that’s 30 meters by 25 yards that we get a few lanes a couple of hours a day. So, we’ve got tremendous facilities. And my hesitancy when I was asked to do this was there’s too many coaches that would walk out of the room with the message that well, I don’t have facilities like that I don’t have the money that they have, and I don’t have the athletes like they do, and I don’t live in Orange County. And that’s not the message that should be read here, but the message should be that wherever you are you can achieve tremendous successes, certainly at a different level, but certainly at the highest end.


Vision, I think, is probably the most important function of a coach. I don’t care if you’re the greatest coach in the world or the worst coach in the world, and I don’t claim to be the best coach in the world. I know I’ve got tremendous weaknesses in what I do, but I also have tremendous strengths that I try to really bring to the forefront. But vision, I think, is one of my attributes that I think have always been part of what we’ve tried to, whether it be training in deciding that 20-25’s is just as adequate as 10 500’s or deciding that yeah, we can win the national championship even though we’re are only fifteenth place at JOs. But I think that vision is what started our program. When I got the job, I was, again, a graduate student, and I was making about $10,000 a year and when I got this job they thought, wow, we’re getting this guy for nothing. I was like, I’m getting a lot of money for doing nothing. And I was able to buy a house and buy a new car and buy a dog, and I used to take my dog for walks, and on those walks I would think about where the program was going to be, where it was going to be in three years. Where it was going to be in five years. And I tried to figure out what would allow us to reach our potential. Now, you also have to have a little luck. Sometimes, you need a lot of luck. And some people think that all of us that are fortunate to be successful maybe get too much luck. And I don’t know that there are too many coaches who have risen to the top of our sport that haven’t had some luck, but also had tremendous vision.


The coaching staff, again, I think, is one of the reasons why we have been successful. What I have here is a breakdown of my coaching staff, and to publicly compliment them and appreciate their support. I got a couple of them that are here, that are probably not watching this talk, because I think they see it on a day-to-day basis. Brent Lorenzen is my junior national team coach. John Moore, senior team, he directs my pre-comp program. I have a junior coaching staff which is Ken LaMott who coaches our senior development group, Eric Gramlo, who is our director of our master’s adult fitness program, and also coaches one of our senior groups. Monica Hoosch, who is new to the staff. Our age group coaching staff again I think is a critical part of our program. I’ve got two associate head age group coaches, Andy Kettleman and Rod Hanson assisted by Courtney Hoblick, Liz Coe, and Dana Daniel. And our pre-competitive program, which is one of our newer programs are coached by Ethan Yahder, Myra Terra and Terry Ishikawa.


Now, one of the things that we did this past year with the help of United States swimming is I was able to get my board of directors to sit down, because they knew it was time to do this, was to really set out what our strategic plan is, and where our goals as an organization over the next five years, and my relationship with my board has always been relatively good. It hasn’t been the animus that I think a lot of us expect with coaches and board members. The only problem that we have is our board meetings are too long. But it’s usually because they’re just kind of chatting away. But we became more focused.


We created a mission statement, and our mission statement became nice, plain, and simple. It’s: the Irvine Nova Aquatics creating a positive environment where excellence is inevitable. And now we have a guiding force that whenever we get into a slow meeting I just bring that back up and it puts things in the process, and as we make decisions as a coaching staff and as a board of directors, we focus on this statement to help us make the decisions that we are trying to make.

We’re now in the process of being more specific with our strategic planning, creating a document that will allow us to lead us through the next five years. But this is the program over the last decade, and its growth and its development, and this is what we looked like in 1990 as we see that we had a very average program of about 200-250 swimmers. My entire senior program is about 40 swimmers and most of those 40 swimmers were ABC swimmers, they weren’t junior national swimmers. But that was what I inherited, was that as soon as you turn 13, you were in the senior group. And after six months, I said that’s not going to work. We have to have some standards, and we have to have some expectations, and we changed that.


We created time standards for groups. And so the senior group became a bone fide senior group, and those that didn’t make the standard were a little upset with me. My first couple of years, like any coach who goes to a new program, was met with a lot of losses. Kids who left the program because they didn’t believe in the philosophy. Kids who left the program who didn’t believe in the character or the personality of the coaching staff. And that was all right, because it allowed us to kind of set a fresh tone for what the program was going to be.

We have had steady progress over the last ten years as we’ve improved our stand in the program in southern California. We’ve improved our age group program through good dedicated committed coaches, and we have expanded the program in one way. I wish I could start over because one of the things I wish I had done that I didn’t do at the beginning is focus greater attention here, at the pre-comp program. And I’ll get into that in a little bit. We focused most on what was going on with the regular program. The competitive program. But we never really addressed the growing need of what do you do to supply your pool of talent. This is late in the game of our program, where now it’s a very integral part of our program of talent identification, getting kids involved in sport yea-round, but certainly on a minimal level. You can see the size of growth in our pre-competitive program, whereas the other programs have also grown. The senior program, which is this little blue thing, at first was, again, that’s what it was. When I broke it out with standards, you can see that there is growth in both our junior division as well as our senior division.


Now, my senior program is about 70 swimmers strong,  and that’s kids, but the majority of kids are junior or senior national level swimmers. We took a little dip here. This is where one of my top age group coaches decided to leave and start another program, and a bunch of the kids went with him. And we all face that sometimes. It’s unfortunate, and it creates problems, but we’re going to be back up here in no time. We are going to be launching our own Learn to Swim school program at an abandoned marine base in the next six months, and we expect our numbers to reach the numbers of Dave Nockenower’s Cupertino team, and they’re upwards in the thousands, I think. Is Dave here?


I have always stressed the philosophy of a program that creates opportunities for everyone. One of my focuses is in creating training groups or practice groups that are fairly homogeneous, creating standards in which the kids have to reach a performance standard before you can actually get into a particular group. I think that’s important because it sets the tone for how kids are working, and what they’re striving to achieve. And when all the 13, 14 year-old boys were trying to move through the program to achieve the junior national time standard, it was such a difficult time standard for them to achieve. When I created a training group that had its own time standards, they were considerably less than junior national time standards. All of a sudden, I had 13, 14 year old boys have something to strive for and achieve because even though it was internal, it didn’t have a meet that it was applied to, they had something to strive for and it was that senior standard to move into my training group.


I had a 12-year-old boy a couple of years ago who, at his last meet before he aged up, had to break 3 of our southern California age group records for 12 and unders to qualify for the senior group. After he got out of the water and broke some record, his first comment to me as he came up to me was, I get to move into your group. It wasn’t that he had just broken his third significant southern California swimming record. And I think that was what was important, was that they were striving for improvement in time improvement and not just on records, but advancement in through the program.


The staff of the Nova program is divided into four levels of participation. It’s really kind of actually 5, because we keep expanding. And one of the visions that I’ve tried to have is to always have in mind what you want your program to look like three or five years down the road. I think it’s imperative to already have that structure prepared. I’ve encouraged coaches that have programs that if you don’t have a real senior group, create a senior group without swimmers. Create standards for a senior group. But don’t put people in a senior group just because you have to have a senior group. This is the breakdown of our program, and you may not be able to see these titles at the top, but this certainly is not what it was in 1990 when I took over the program. We now have a senior division, and I like using things like division. It sounds like a company, a corporate company. And I’ve got directors in charge of this and that. I don’t pay them more, but they get titles. That’s good. Senior division.


The junior division developed out of the growth of the program. We didn’t have this in 1990. Now we have three versions of this group. There is the age group division, which we have always had three of, but now they are significantly larger. And we’ve even broken these down into smaller groups. There is the age group development division, and then there’s the pre-competitive division. And, again, the attempt is to develop groups that have very homogeneous standards so that everybody is basically training for the same event.


So in the senior division there is the Olympic development training group, which used to be the national group, but this year it’s going to be focused on the Olympic games and Olympic trials.  There is the junior national team, which   is almost exclusively junior national swimmers. There is some carryover between all the groups, but primarily junior national swimmers and our senior group, to qualify for that kids have to have our local senior standards. In the junior division, it is the senior development group, and their whole focus is to develop the skills and the performance level to move into the senior division.


The age group program, again, it’s a progressive program that lends itself to moving into either the junior division or the senior division. Age group development is primarily for our 8 and under kids who are more of a year-round track program that meets as many as three to five times a week and learning the developmental skills associated with being in the program.


And our pre-comp program, again, it’s a program that’s progressive in nature, going from 1, 2, and 3 days a  week, minimal amount of time in the water, minimal commitment into the program. Our program is essentially open to kids that are 4 years and older. The oldest member of the program is Steve West at 27. And our youngest in the program is 4 years of age. We are not allowed to run a Learn To Swim program at our facility because the city does that during the summer. So we don’t have a Learn To Swim. Everybody has to be able to swim without assistance.


Our pre-competitive program is for kids between the ages of 4 and 12, primarily. And I learned this from Dave Knockenour last week. He made a comment that really made some sense. Although we have opportunities for older kids coming into the programs, our real efforts are promoting program that’s geared toward kids who are 12 and under. The younger they are getting into our program, getting into the year-round emphasis, is more beneficial in terms of the long-run development. And I thought that was an interesting tack, because I think for too long we’ve tried to accommodate too many people in too small a space, and we’ve got to start backtracking a little bit on some of what we’re recruiting.


The age-group development program is for kids 4-9, the age group program kids 8-13, and our senior program 12 and older. The pre-competitive program, I think most of us have that to some extent, but I think it’s an area that we’ve got to capitalize on to a greater extent. We’ve got to look  at the program, try to bring in more kids into the program on a year-round basis, but on a regular basis. Again, 1, 2, 3 days a week. We’ve begun to bring kids into the program through our pre-comp program, so it gives us a chance to really kind of stabilize some of their skills, evaluate their skills, and then move them forward into our regular competitive program. Sessional programming is what we do in the pre-comp program. It’s 12 weeks. There’s four of these per year. Minimum participation in terms of the parents and the family is 1, 2, or 3 days per week. The nominal cost of $99 at the minimum to $189 at the maximum, is pretty cheap for 12 weeks of program, and we include freebies like a cap and a T-shirt to encourage them to be in the program. Insurance issues are an important consideration that you all have to recognize. I don’t know that U.S.A. swimming wants me to tell you this, but you can get insurance for your pre-comp program if they’re not going to compete in U.S.A. swimming meets at a rough rate of about $2.50 per kid instead of $30 per swimmer. Now, U.S.A. swimming doesn’t have to worry too much because I think the 200 swimmers that we have in this program at some point will be paying the $30 a year and getting Splash magazine and being fully insured, but we need to bring those kids in and get them in there at a nominal cost and not accelerate the costs, as they become part of the competitive program.


We offer two competitive situations for them: inter squad competitions that last about two hours, and it’s a tremendous opportunity to introduce kids to swimming but not at an all-day swim meet. We do this in their regular practice period. We get about 100 kids in those events, and parents learn how to time and cheer for their kids and it works well. The three programs that we have are the kids’ splash, star club, select team and I think it’s important that you choose nomenclature appropriately. We’ve tried to use nomenclature that kids would get excited about. We borrowed the term select team from soccer. We all have kids who participate in soccer. And it’s a never-ending season. It amazes me. It’s like a 10 week season, and at the end of the 10 weeks, 90 percent of those kids qualify for the select team. And what that means is they get to travel somewhere locally for a tournament, and they get to pay a couple of hundred dollars to do that. So I thought, select team would be an appropriate nomenclature for kids to go, Ahh, select team means something. So if there’s something in your area that tends to pull kids out of your program, find out what names they use and use them in your program. Because they’ll associate the same things with it.


The kids’ splash program is a one-day-a-week program that’s open to kids 4-11 years of age. These are minimum groups. They’re usually about no more than six swimmers in a group. They practice once a week. It’s not been a very successful program to this point, which has surprised me. People usually want two days a week. Its 30-minute practice session goes 12 weeks and there’s two inter squad competitions, like I said.


The star club program is a two-day-a-week program. It’s generally kids 4-14. We very rarely get 13, 14 year olds in the program. It’s two practices a week. It’s 35 minutes practice per session over 12 weeks. And again, two competitions. The select team is a little bit more of an older version of the pre-comp program. We get some older kids in this group, a lot of summer league kids. It’s generally three practices a week of 45 minutes per session, but we also, because we didn’t want to go Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, we’ll go Tuesday, Thursday for an hour and again, that’s 12 weeks and two inter squad competitions.


The developmental program, again, like the rest of our programs, is progressive in nature. It goes from our frogs group, our munchkins group and our sharks group. Now, these names, I gave a former coach of mine the responsibility of naming these groups and these names have stayed there and they work fine. I added the X at the end of sharks. That was my contribution to that. Most of the kids in the group are 4-9 years of age, and they have an interest in being there on a regular basis at least three to four time a week. In the frogs group, it’s generally kids that are 4-6 years of age. They’ve got three to four practice sessions per week on average, although we offer five. It’s 30-40 minutes practice per session and they swim in local competition about once a month.


The munchkin practice group is basically 6-8 year olds. Again, they average 4-5 practices per week. They are not discouraged from participating in soccer and other events like that, but they are encouraged to attend practice regularly, whether it be Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday. We want them to be committed to some sort of regularity. Their practices are 40-60 minutes per session, and again they compete once or twice a month. Competition is not extremely stressed with the age group development program.


The sharks program is our most advanced of the developmental programs. It is generally 7-9 year olds, 4-5 practices per week. Practices are an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes, local swimming competition once or twice a month.


The age group program itself is for kids generally 8 years and older to 13. The foundations for swimming excellence are formulated in the early developmental stages. We encourage again a committed regularity. We want them to learn the skills of training, if you will, and learn a work ethic. The age group program, like our other programs, as I said, is broken down into three levels of participation. And those participations are in the gold group, which is our more advanced group, which are JO level kids, the silver group and the bronze group, which is really introductory to our competitive program.


The bronze group is open generally to kids 9 years to 13 years of age. They are the ABC level kids who have minimal skills, don’t have a lot of experience in swimming, but they are more advanced than our pre-comp program. There are 4-5 practice sessions per week, about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes per practice and local swimming competition. And we are also trying to introduce more inter squad and dual competitions to keep them out of the weekend-long meets.


The silver group is an advanced stage of our age group program, 9-13 years of age. They are generally A and AA level swimmers, and that’s our local time standard, not the national time standard. Four to six practice sessions per week. These are an hour to an hour and a half per session and local and regional swimming competition. They start to explore opportunities like far westerns and dual meets that we’ve had with clubs within California.


The gold group is our more advanced group, 8-13 years of age. They are AA level and higher. This is generally where most of our junior Olympic kids come out of. Five to six practices per weeks, two hour practice sessions, local, regional, as well as national competition, two to three competitions per month, and preparation for senior training competition.


My philosophy has been to this date that I keep our age group kids until they turn 13, before they move into the senior program, so we have had outstanding age group swimmers coming out of our age group program with juniors and senior national time standards. I feel it’s important for my age group coaches to coach those kids to a concluded parameter of time rather than when I go through and cull the numbers and decide that I want this kid in my group or that kid in my group. And I think that’s worked out effectively, and I think it’s helped develop an age group program that has been very successful over the years. I think it’s important that the kids in the program see that you can be tremendously successful throughout the program and not in certain phases of the program. It’s the goal of the program in the junior group to create appropriate sized groups and have common performance and commitment standards. They are learning to be senior level swimmers and this is probably our toughest group to coach because you have the combination of kids who aspire to being in senior group or to being very good swimmers, and you have those that are just there on a social basis, and trying to coordinate those efforts is a very difficult job that I’ve given to Ken LaMott, and he’s done a good job at.


We advance to the program progressively again with performance standards. Each group has standards that they have to meet. The senior development group, we’ve got a junior 1 and 2 group, depending on the size of the program at the time. We have a varsity group and a group that we tried a couple of years ago, it didn’t work out, and I just put that in there as a comment that I’ll just briefly mention.


The varsity group are kids who enter into the program with very little experience. Maybe they want to start high school swimming, maybe they’re coming off of a summer league season. There’s no time standards. They are offered five practices per week. Their practice session is 90 minutes of training per day, and they generally attend local ABC meets if we can get them there. And a lot of times we put them in our relays for JOs. The junior 1 and 2 squad are 13-18 year olds, generally at the A time standards, five to six training sessions per week. No mornings. Two hour training session. And again, local ABC meets in the junior Olympic competition.


The senior development squad is a group that began its developing skills for the senior program. We’ve had a number of kids come out of this group that have made junior nationals to advance into our senior program. Kids are not allowed to go to junior nationals in our program unless they are in the senior program. So most of these kids who are in this group either by choice or by design, they would not go to junior nationals were they to make it until they actually go into the senior group and commit to that training program. So their focus is primarily the junior Olympic championships and the high school championships in the spring. They train six days a week, there is no morning commitment. Their training sessions are about two hours and fifteen minutes and, again, their focus is on the high school championships.


The cross trainer program, I throw this out as one of the things that I try to do is envision programming to enlarge the club. The cross trainer idea is an idea that I thought would be a real big seller, but it wasn’t. But it’s a group… one of these days it’ll work, but… teenagers who want to participate in fitness activities, including swimming, but don’t want to commit to competing. Kids who… we tried to do this a couple of years ago, was to have half of their hour and a half session doing soccer or basketball or running or fitness types of activities, with another half of the program committed to swimming. It didn’t go over as well as I thought it would. But one of these days, I think it should. Because I think there’s a niche for it.


The senior program I entitled “Where Olympic champions are prepared.” And again, as we go into this year of the Olympic trials, our focus is the Olympic games, the Olympic trials. And I’ve been talking to the kids ad nauseum for the last year and a half about this. The senior program is designed for swimmers that are 12 years old and older. The youngest in the group right now is 12, almost 13. The oldest, as I said, is 27. I think you have to set a tone and a focus of the program, even if you don’t have those kids at that level. I think they need to hear it. I think they need to be a part of it. I think they need to get excited about it. Maybe it’s just me that gets excited about it. Maybe they hear nothing that I have to say about it. But I think they know that my commitment is to putting people on the Olympic team, and I do that in an environment where I think they all achieve greater successes because they are part of that environment. That if everybody is geared toward making the Olympic team or putting somebody on the Olympic team, I think those that will achieve only junior national successes will achieve those successes to a greater level than if they don’t participate at that level.


The program is divided into several groups. The senior squad, as I said, is our entry level program into the senior program. There are LSC standards locally to move into that group. The junior national squad is primarily kids with junior national time standards, but there is again… these groups all work out at the same time. They’ve all got different coaches for each group. And their focus is on particular meets, but there is some broad carryover between the groups. The Olympic development international squad is the group that I coach, and one of the reasons that I think we’ve been successful or maybe it’s just that I don’t like assisting coaches hovering over my shoulders and wanting to know what their next workout is. I have always given my coaches responsibility to coach. And I try not to interfere with their opportunity to learn to become coaches. So I know that I had a coach who came out to work with me a couple of years ago, and I wasn’t going to assign him a group, and I just felt uncomfortable with somebody hanging over my shoulder and wanting to know what the next thing was, that I gave him a group and now he is my junior national coach, and that works better for me than to have a bunch of assistants behind me going, What’s next? because a lot of times I don’t know what’s next. And they hate that. I’ll get into that when we get into training. But I do think that it’s important that we give our assistants responsibility. I’m fully certain that some of my coaches want to be as good assistant coaches, but I know that several of them, or many of them, want to become head coaches somewhere else, and I want them to have that opportunity to do that.


The senior squad is composed of those swimmers that have identified their level of commitment at the highest level. That’s what my assumption is. This group is continuing to refine technique and they have “accepted,” and I put that in quotes because they don’t really accept it, but my assumption is that they’re accepting the rigorous training expectations needed to compete at the national level. The senior squad is expected to attend all practice sessions, including dry land sessions. The primary competitive focus is qualifying for the U.S.A. junior championships. Swimmers advance to the junior national squad, again, with the approval of the coaching staff, and I do have some junior national kids in the senior squad because it made more sense. They are from 12 to 19 years of age in the senior group. There’s eight practices per week. We have three morning practices during the year. 1.5-3 hours per practice session, usually about an hour and fifteen minutes in the morning. There is a dryland program that’s fairly extensive and there are two to three competitions per month, and I like to say that there is non-compromised commitment to excellence.


When you are in the junior squad, there is no morning requirement. There is limited amount of work compared to the senior programs. So the assumption on the coaching staff that we try to keep to the forefront of these kids is that they are committed to swimming. Not water polo, and not soccer, not dance, not anything else. If they can participate in those activities without compromising their swimming, we have not discouraged that. So we have had kids who go to polo in the afternoon, come to work out in our workout, and then go dance and they still do well in school and as long as they don’t compromise swimming and academics, then I’m not discouraging them participation in other activities. But they do need to know that if you are in the senior program, that swimming is the priority. The junior national squad, like I said, the focus is junior nationals and competing at junior nationals. But not to stagnate at junior nationals, but rather to advance beyond junior nationals.


I think we’ve been fairly fortunate over the years to have kids qualify out of junior nationals to senior nationals and compete at that level, not just go to junior nationals. The 12 year olds through to collegiate postgrads in the junior national program. There are very few postgrads but on occasion, we do have postgrads in the program or college students in the program. They have eight to ten practice sessions per week, 1 ½ to 3 hours training session dryland training program, 2-3 competitions per month, and again, an uncompromised commitment to performance at the national level. The purpose of the Olympic development national squad is to develop swimmers for the U.S.A. national team for international competition. As a team goal, the focus is competing to win the U.S.A. championships. Our goal is to win nationals. Not junior nationals and although JOs are a primary event for age groupers, our focus is to win the national championship.


This year, somebody had asked me that in January or February if we were going to win the nationals. And I really never thought about it for the spring. I think I always wanted to win nationals. But I never believed that maybe we could win nationals. So now it’s become our focus to win nationals. As long as the college teams aren’t there. In addition to preparing the national squad members for national and international competition, most go on to compete at the college level. Again, the Olympic group is 12 years through to the collegiate postgrads. I made mention of the fact that in 1992 we had one swimmer qualified for the Olympic trials and in 1996 we had 5. We currently have 15 swimmers qualified for the Olympic trials, and it is our goal to have close to 20 swimmers qualified for the Olympic trials by the time we get there, August 9. There are 8-10 practice sessions per week at 1 ½ to 3 hours dryland training program, 2-3 competitions per month, and again, an uncompromised commitment to excellence. That just sounds good. I don’t know if they’re committed to that. Are there any questions at this point? Yes.


(QUESTION). The question is that two to three competitions seems like a lot. I like to compete one day meets, so a lot  of times we’ll compete at maybe an ABC meet one day of a meet, maybe just two events, like a 400 I’M 200 flyer. I do have 400 IMers and 200 flyers once in a while. So, even though it might sound like it’s these weekend adventures, a lot of the time they’re one day events. Very rarely is it three, but on occasion it might be three. Last year we didn’t compete as often as I probably think I want to compete this year. But, again, it’s on a level that’s more of a couple hour situation, maybe a dual meet situations, and thinks like that. Yes?


(QUESTION). Number of swimmers in the group. Generally, we don’t have a tight ratio. I always encourage my coaching staff that if they need assistance, they need to get to me so that we get assistance. I have always had very independent coaches. My former head age group coach is probably the only one who ever had pretty consistently an assistant coach, and he was coaching as many as fifty kids at a time. I think the key element is not… the ratio is important in terms of attention, but the ratio is not as important when the homogeneity of a group is pretty tight. If everybody in the group is fairly much the same level, it’s a lot easier to do your coaching than if you’ve got a very broad range. So I know a lot of people are going to walk out and go, well, I can’t do that. I’ve got a B swimmer and a senior national swimmer in the same water at the same time. My concern is that what we tend to do is we coach to the middle. So we have these extremes, we’ll coach to the middle so that we take care of the largest number that we can. So my goal has always been to create homogeneity. But generally, it’s between 20 and 30 kids per group. During this past fall, my group was about… somebody said you got 70 kids in your group. I said, I don’t know, I think I had 65. And I was coaching about 65 kids in my group with one assistant that was actually assisting me. But, part of the way we coach is about style and character, and I don’t have a problem coaching 65 kids. They don’t get, obviously, the kind of attention that maybe would be  to a greater extent possible, but I don’t have problems with coaching a large group. But my group now is going to be probably about 25-30 kids, so it’s around 25-30. That’s the long and short of the whole story.


With the younger groups, the pre-comp groups, we keep those numbers down quite a bit. In the pre-comp program, I’ve got generally two coaches working with the group of no more than 15 kids. The idea in the pre-comp program is, I want somebody stationed in the middle of the pool, somebody stationed at the end of the pool, and as kids are moving through, this is kind of Japanese style. The Japanese have  a coach on either end and somebody in the middle and the kids run through like a factory. And so they’re always getting some attention. And we try to do that with our pre-comp program so that they are always getting some assistance. I’ve got a really good coaching staff in terms that they don’t sit idly by. They are very, very active coaches. There is constant communication going on with the athletes.


The other thing is with our program, as we’ll get into soon, as the slide suggests, we are on the wall a lot more that maybe a lot of other clubs. We gear a lot of our training around 25s and 50s and 75s. Is Josh String in the room? I have a slide especially for Josh later. I’ll save that later. But because we’re on the wall more often, the coaches are interacting with those kids both individually and as a group tremendously.


Let me give you one other thing… I’ve got lots of time here. I was told I had three hours, and I can use every minutes. Our coaches provide lesson opportunities for kids. And I’ve had this discussion with a number of coaches who said, oh yeah, we don’t do lessons. You don’t do lessons. You know. And coaches feel guilty about giving lessons. Or charging for lessons. And I have seen the development of our lessons in our program with our competitive kids has enhanced the program tremendously. It’s enhanced the program several fold. Coaches are making a little bit more money. And golf pros give lessons, tennis pros give lessons, math tutors give lessons. swimming coaches, for some reason, many of them feel like I should be getting it done during workout. And yeah, we should be. And I think our coaches effectively do that. But there’s nothing as great in effect as a one-on-one situation with a kid. Especially when they’re paying for it. What I’ve seen over the years that we really see more and more of our coaches giving lessons to their kids is that they have become much better teachers. And they’re more committed to a program that they have a lot of influence on. They become better because they find ways to get a kid one-on-one to do something that they’re trying to do. They’ll find new ways to say the same thing. They’ll find a new drill. They then take that to their workout situation. And I do that all the time. I’ll give a lesson and then I’ll go O.K., that’s workout this afternoon. I’ve got something that I can take to workout. In that workout situation, that coach has some key phrases that they know works with that kid they’re giving a lesson to. That then influences everybody around them. And I encourage coaches to provide lesson opportunities for their  kids. I thinks it’s effective, I think you become a better teacher,  I think the kids become better at it. And I think the groups benefit tremendously from an improved coach. Any other questions? I’ve got lots of time for questions. The next half is really into training and I’m going to save that for later.


(QUESTION). The question is the goals that I’ve presented here are certainly the goals of my national program and my senior program, and how does that affect everybody else. Well, the way the goal kind of works, number 1 is we verbalize it to everybody. The goal is we’re going to put four people on the Olympic team in 2000. Everybody knows that that’s the goal at the elite level. Back in 1993, the goal of the entire program was to be in the top in JOs. Well, the goals have really been the responsibility of our coaching staff. Winning JOs is an important goal of ours with our junior program, with our age group program, and that becomes the focus for those coaches with regards to motivating the kids competitively. With our entry level age group program, the goal for the last few years has been to win the BC championship meet, which we have done the last three years, and it’s become pretty cool, and we get T-shirts and they throw the coaches in and so that becomes their competitive goal. I think that the bigger goal, the elite goal, is the goal of the whole program, and I try to stress to everybody that whether you’re going to trials or not, you’re contributing to the success of the kid that goes. And that you have to take responsibility and take pride in an Amanda Beard breaking the American record, because she didn’t do it by herself. And it wasn’t just me and it wasn’t just her. It was everybody contributing to that and being supportive of that. So I think it’s important to have an elite goal for the bigger part of the program and then get them to buy into it. I think, too, that one of the things we’re trying to do this year is to involve the age group kids more. We’ve got a sizeable number of kids that are swimming Olympic trials, and I have asked the age-group coaches to creative an Adopt an Olympian program. And what I want is the kids to identify with one of our fifteen kids going and create a relationship. What we’ve done this past summer is that those kids would come in and provide clinic opportunities for the younger kids, the age group kids. The age group kids thought it was great. I mean, the parents think it’s great, because I think they like the swimmers more than they like us coaches. It was a great opportunity for those kids to meet the older kids and get jazzed about it. So, we’re really trying to make an effort this year to market the Olympic trials, market the Olympic games, through our program wrapped around our athletes and hope that the older athletes will think that’s pretty cool, that some little 9-year-old has their picture up on the wall, or something. So that’ what we’re trying to do. Yes.


(QUESTION). Do we do any kind of recruiting? I’ve been accused of recruiting. There’s some people in this room who will accuse me of recruiting. Our program is very different than a lot of programs. We get into the training philosophy and teaching philosophy that will become a little bit more clear. I think the program stands on its own merit. We’ve been a successful program. It’s fortunate, but it’s unfortunate that we attract a lot of kids from different programs. We have kids who travel every day from down here. San Diego. Because they’ve chosen to be in our program, thinking that that was where they needed to be. It’s not something that we encourage. It’s a lot of times things that we discourage because I think it’s sometimes questionable about traveling an hour and a half for age group swimming. When you get to be a senior level swimmer, maybe that’s a different story. The only recruiting that we really do is within our community. There’s a very extensive summer league program that we go out to their championship meet, and we set up a little booth and we encourage them to come to the program. We try to provide clinic programs for summer league kids to come in to look at the program. I think the direction that we’re going, and the direction that most programs are going is to develop your program internally through Learn To Swim programs and pre-competitive programs and create your pool of talent and the ability to identify talent internally that way. But I don’t get on the phone… we don’t have a black book with all the great kids in southern California that we go through and call. I’ve heard that story before. We burned that book a few years ago. We had to burn all the evidence. Question back here.


(QUESTION). The question is about space management and space, and that’s… it is a problem? Space is a major problem in our program, and it’s a problem that we all face. We’ve got the pool essentially from 4:30 till 8:30 at night almost exclusively. The coaching staff I had when I first got there I kind of inherited. And I had one coach who used to (long story).. I had one coach who used to threaten me to go to the city if I didn’t let her have more lanes. And it’s like, I’m the head coach here. So… but she’s no longer with me. But, I’ve got a very cooperative coaching staff. I think that they recognize that there are certain needs that each group has to have and we’ve always been very cooperative with each other. If I only have one kid in the lane, I’m moving out of that lane, or if we have a pre-comp group that’s coming in I move out of the lanes so that they have some lane space. We’ve tried to be real creative with our utilization of space, and it sometimes is a problem, but our coaches have been extremely effective and positive in how they use the space. And sometimes I have to move into the 25 yard teaching pool, which is a terribly shallow pool, but I will effectively use that space for workout and not whine that I don’t have space, or I don’t have time, or I don’t have this or I don’t have that. I think I can be just as effective in a 25 yard pool that’s three feet deep. I’m not going to go there, but I think I could be effective if I had to be. And I think that’s the difference. I think a lot of coaches will sit there and look at their facilities and go I can’t do it here. And I think back in the ‘60s and ‘70s there were teams out of central Jersey, out of 25 yard pools with four lanes who were producing people like Cathy Heddy and they are very effective at using their space. And we get too spoiled sometimes. But some of the things that we’ve tried to do with our pool… our lanes are nine feet wide, which means that they are very wide, so it’s great for our older kids even if you have ten kids in a lane. But what we’ve tried to do, and the city got mad at us for doing this, was cutting them in half.  O.K., I’ll just put a lane line in between. Because  a 6, 7, 8 year old, they don’t need 9 feet. That’s too much. The other thing that we’ve tried to do effectively, which has worked fairly well, is create portable bulkheads out of PVC tubing and whatever, shower walls, or whatever they are. We put them in the middle of the pool. We do some of the weirdest things in our sport. We have 5 year olds coming into our program and swimming 25 yards. We got 27-year-olds going 25 yards and that’s a lot for them. But a 5-year-old going 25 yards… and I’m not one of those kind of coaches that tells people what to do. I try to hint what to do, and after the third time, I hint they don’t get it I send somebody else to go tell them. Because I don’t like to be the bad guy. But I’ve had a tough time sometimes with my pre-competitive coaches to put the bulkhead in the water for the 4 or 5 year olds so that they can only go 15 yards. Because that’s enough for them. That’s 20 strokes. And they don’t need to go 40 strokes. But that’s how we’ve tried to effectively use pool space. The other way we’ve tried to effectively, and it’s hurt us a little bit, is to extend our hours to 8:30 at night. And we’ve lost a lot of kids last year because it just wasn’t convenient to 8:30 at night. So they’ve joined other clubs in the area because they could go it 5:00 to 7:00. Some of our successes have hurt us because a junior swimmer in our program can go to a local program twenty minutes away and be in the senior program. So, that’s hurt us to some extent, because we’ve become successful we’ve lost some of those middle of the road kids, which is unfortunate, but that’s sometimes the price we pay, I think.


(QUESTION). Everybody’s familiar with the club championship? How many are in favor of the club championship? Oh, man. You see, that’s why they put my name associated with those things. If they fall at defeat at that, another Salo idea. I’m in favor of the club championship. For different reasons. I was one of the few people who several years back said let’s get rid of the spring nationals. Let’s get rid of it. It’s just that one nationals. We’re going to have two long course nationals, it seems pretty silly, I mean they don’t do that in golf or tennis or anything else. There’s one U.S. open. There’s not two U.S. opens. I thought the club championship was an opportunity for our clubs to bring their teams together to compete. Not our junior national kids, not our senior national kids, but our clubs to compete. It’s unfortunate it’s going to go down to defeat next week, because I think it’s an important part of swimming that we do not have. I’ve coached small clubs and I’ve coached large clubs. I think the smaller clubs benefit from a club championship to a greater extent than a large club. Because you can bring all your junior national kids, all your senior national kids and compete over one weekend instead of being away from you family for two weeks or three weeks at a time, stringing out the season longer than it needs to be. There are a lot of issues that I could go into, but I don’t care. You tell me where it is, when it is, what course it is, I’m going to go and compete. It doesn’t bother me that nationals are long course or short course, or whatever they are. I don’t go long course training during the year except during the summer, and we had a really good spring national meet without doing long course. I think it’s a matter… a lot of times it’s expectations. I had a friend of mine who locally used to have his team go a couple of mornings a week about 45 minutes away to go long course swimming. And we talked about it one day and I said, you know, I can understand why you’re doing it, but let me tell you why not to do it. You’re showing your kids how easy it is to drive 45 minutes away to swim long course. And if you’re sending the message that long course training is so important, they’re going to go, Why don’t I just go over there and be a part of that program that has long course water? And he’s a tremendously effective coach. And to see him lose swimmers because he was giving them the message that long course swimming was really important was probably the message that he probably didn’t need to send. But I think a lot of times that’s what we do in coaching, is that we say, My pool’s too crummy, or I don’t have enough space, or you know, at my pool there’s always as a polo tournament going on, so we lose pool space, and for me it’s like don’t tell my kids this. For me, it’s like, yeah, we can go play soccer, or we can get to go and play basketball. Because I like doing that, and if I have an excuse not to get in the water, then it’s a benefit to me, because I’ll go out and play with them. Any other questions?


(QUESTION). The question is am I writing a book? No.    I wrote a book. It’s really a pamphlet. I wrote a pamphlet about, I don’t know, Mark, you know, when did I write that thing? I’ll give you a little story about this. I was writing for Swimming World magazine… this is a funny story… come on in and sit down, we’re having fun. I was writing for Swimming World magazine and I wrote in one of my articles that I have a book available. If anybody’s interested, send me $10, I think I said. And I figured, Oh, maybe I’d get two people to write and send in $10 and I’d say, Oh sorry, I don’t have a book. So I ended up with $3,000 worth of checks and a friend of mine, Mark Rouderquist, was sitting in the front. I said, Mark, I need to write a book. Quick. So I gave Mark all this stuff, and I said, Mark, here, do this thing, I don’t care… whatever. And so he ended up publishing it and doing it for me, and I think my mother bought all the books, and then I come to find out that there were a couple of other people who bought it and I think I have one copy left. The long and the short is that I haven’t had time to write a book. What I hope to do… I shouldn’t say this, maybe I should. What I hope to do is actually create a CD ROM about workouts and design, and I thought I would be able to kind of put this thing into that kind of a concept, but to allow coaches to look at workouts, workout design and be able to create workouts. But I haven’t done that yet either. I haven’t done that yet. Still trying to finish a renovation on my master bathroom which has been sitting there for a year with tile all over the floor, and I don’t get things done… Will will appreciate that. Will, I planted that one plant. I finally planted that plant in my backyard.That’s an inside story. Yes?


(QUESTION). We have eight lanes, 2 ½ hours a day. You’ve got to, given what your facilities are and given the time constraints you have, you have to decide what you are capable of achieving. You’ve got to decide what are the important factors associated with being successful at the highest level you want to be successful at. You can’t have a 700 member club or a 400 member club. You’ve got to appreciate that and understand that. Can you have Olympic athletes develop by that program? Yes. That’s more than I think a lot of programs have because they don’t believe that they can achieve that. I think you have to decide what are the numbers that you can handle and the time frame that you can handle them at. You’ve got to decide as coaches that I have to have an hour and a half of training opportunity, otherwise I can’t achieve success. My massage later in the second part of this program will be about training that I have been lecturing over the years that gives you the freedom to believe that I don’t have to go 10 500’s. You can’t go 10 500’s in 8 lanes with a hundred kids. But you can go 20 50s or 20 25s very effectively. If you’re given the freedom to believe that 20 25s is extremely effective at what you’re trying to do, and you can do it in an hour and fifteen minutes and produce Olympic champions, you got to believe that. You have to understand your beliefs, you have to understand what your constraints are, and I do really believe that you have to sit down and map that out and say, O.K. we can maximize the 200 kids. This is our ideal program under these circumstances and develop your program that way.


(QUESTION). And again, I didn’t want people walking out of here going, Well that doesn’t apply to me. The big message of this first part, I’m not sure when we end here, I think at 10:00. Now. You’re done now. The primary message I want to send forth is you’ve got to have a vision of what it is you want. You’ve got to have a vision and believe in that vision. If you don’t, then you screw up, and you’re all extremely capable. You can all do it. Thanks for taking the time. Mainly Amanda Beard was an exceptional young athlete, but her international success was not predicated on trying to do a yardage program. It was based on learning skills associated with being as good as she is. And I think she’s going to be there next year. Don’t count her out yet. The maximal distance of the age group program, mostly are 25s, 50s, 75s, 100’s, We’re asked to meet a little bit earlier, and I really forgot to put that in as part of the presentation. I just forgot. Sorry. The structure of the program in terms of its organizational structure outside of the swimming part of it, my club is a parent volunteer organization. I guess it’s parent-owned or parent-run, whatever you want to call it. It’s board of directors is I think nine or ten parents on the team, and I’m currently a member of the board of directors, permanent board of directors, or permanent member of the board of directors on the program. The structure is pretty loose. We’ve got a president, vice president, a treasurer, a billing officer… kind of what I think we all have in terms of a volunteer program. One of the directions that we’re trying to take our program is to take more of a corporate view of the program. Now, that’s why I say we had a strategic planning session earlier in the year, and through that planning session we were able to really delineate the responsibilities of the board of directors and the responsibility of the staff and we left that meeting, and I’m not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing, but we left that meeting and they kind of gave me the honorable role of being the chief executive officer and you know, we all think that that’s what we want, and now when we have board meetings, “It sounds like a CEO job.” And so my work is probably more involved than it has been before.


One of the things I’ve tried to do a much better job at is communicate with my board of directors, just to keep them in the know and understand what’s going on. So I’ve done a much better job this year of creating written reports for them before the board meetings or at the board meetings, so they know exactly what’s going on. That’s worked really effectively. The other thing I’ve learned… actually I’m on the board of directors of United States Swimming, and our new executive director, Chuck Wielgus, is outstanding in that regard. He communicates with the board of directors through E-mail, through written items. He send us stuff constantly and creates piles and piles of things for us to consider reading. I started to do that with my board of directors. You know, I’d send them articles from Swimming World magazine and FINA magazine and Swim News magazine and stuff like that, so that they become more attuned to the world of swimming, so that they appreciate the efforts that the coaching staff is trying to make.


Like I said, structurally, we have a billing officer that doesn’t pay dues, and she sends out all the bills every month. We have a treasurer who takes care of the books. That’s not my role or my responsibility. My responsibility to my staff and my staff’s responsibility is running the west side of the program, as we like to call it. We are also responsible for the billing and basically accounting the lesson program that we run, and that’s not part of the club direction. And that works pretty well at most everything else. We do have registration people that help during registration. But we’re trying to take a more professional corporate view of the program. We’re looking to expand our program. Like I say, we’re negotiating with El Toro marine base just up the road for facilities that  they’re not using any longer. One is an indoor pool that we intend to create a Learn To Swim program out of, and create an office for our program because right now, that office is in my house, and that’s kind of the direction that we’re going.


In terms of fee structure: One of the things that I didn’t get into with regards to the structure of the program on the wet side is that one of the things that we’ve done with our precap program is it’s an up-front fee. I think I tried to indicate that they pay between $99 and $189 for a twelve-week session, and I encourage you all to do that kind of a program, as opposed to a month-to-month program with at least part of your program because it’s upfront money. It’s right there. We’re going through registration right now. We’ve registered about 150 kids into the pre-comp program and we’ve just started, and that’s on average, about $126 per kid up front. Now, if they quit the program tomorrow, I got their checks, it doesn’t matter. So, we’ll have more pool space. But the idea is that you have your revenue source upfront, you know what your monies are, and then you pay for your program as you go through. With the rest of the program, it’s all monthto-month. And the fees range between, I think $55 per month for our age group program all the way up to $110 per month for the senior program. And that’s kind of the range. And   I think it’s a fairly average range. We have not raised fees in nine years. And our budget has risen from about I  think $200,000 a year in 1990 to about $485,000 this current year. We actually have about a million dollars running through the program because we also run a script program that I think a lot of you are involved with to some extent to raise revenues for your program.


I tell you that because I’m proud of that. And I think that being fiscally responsible and seeing your team grow, not just from kids in the program or the successes in the program, I think you should be proud of being a good business person as well. And having a program that maybe you make $5,000 a year. We’ve been fortunate to not lose money except for one of the years back in 1992. I had to tell all of the coaches we couldn’t get raises because we were losing money back then. That’s when I was under pressure to do some things that I thought compromised the program. I said I wouldn’t do it and, fortunately, my board of directors said okay, but if we keep losing money, you’re going to have to go. And I’m not going anywhere yet.


We’ve been fortunate too at the end of each year, probably most of the last nine years to be able to award our coaching staff bonuses. I think they are significant bonuses, upwards of a month’s salary. I think they like that. I know I can see at least one of my coaches in the back shaking his head. So, that’s kind of the structure of the program from the administrative side. My coaching staff is, I think we have five full time coaches with benefits, and including myself that’s six full time coaches. The rest of the coaches are salaried, except for our pre-competitive program. They’re hourly rate coaches who are making $10-11 per hour, and I think that’s  pretty significant for a coach, coaching at that level.


One of the things I didn’t say, and everybody will go OH, Ahh, is that we don’t pay for pool space. And everybody will go, Ohhh, that’s not fair. But we don’t pay for pool space. We use a facility that’s operated by the City of Irvine. They don’t charge us for the pool except for when we use it for swim meets or an occasional Sunday workout or if we need to rent the pool for holiday workouts. However, the way I look at it is that we’re basically being paid to run a program out of a facility that would sit idle if it weren’t being utilized. So I think we complement the city in terms of providing programming for the city.


One of the key components in the County of Orange in California, one of the number one killers of children five years and younger is drowning. They hype it up as epidemic proportions. I constantly remind the city of, I think, our obligation to provide an opportunity for kids to learn aquatic skills because we don’t want to contribute to that epidemic portion of deaths due to drowning. So I use that as a selling point. I’ve been using that as a selling point with local politicians to gain access to El Toro Marine Base. They think it’s cool that what we’re trying to do is keep kids safe and at the same time we’re trying to produce Olympic champions. And that’s kind of where we are.


Any other questions about that part of the program, that aspect of the program? The direction I think, too, that we’re going with the program is, I’m going to, as a CEO of the program, is we’re going to change our by-laws that eliminate me from the board of directors. And I’ve had some conversations… some coaches think, Oh, you’ve got to be on the board of directors, you’ve got to be a permanent member of the board. And I don’t think I necessarily agree with that. I don’t even have a contract any more. I have one that I wrote in 1990 and that was the last time I had really written a contract, and I told somebody earlier today that if my club doesn’t want me there, I don’t think that I want to be there. And maybe I’m stupid or something, but I didn’t think I’d last this long. And I think a lot of people in this room didn’t think I’d last this long either, so…  So far, I’m doing O.K.


Any questions on that aspect, then? No questions. We’re going to move to training and teaching philosophy, and this is a discussion that I’ve presented countless times, a couple of times at ASCA and various clinics around the country. It’s one that excites me, it’s one that I enjoy giving a talk about. You know, I’ve been considered at sometimes radically innovative, I guess, or something. Peter Daland introduced me the other day as a young mind in American swimming, and I coached with Coach Daland for about six years, and I had to remind him that I just turned 41, so I’m not that young any more, but it was nice to be considered young. I had ideas about training, God, I think I started writing Swimming World magazine articles back in 1983, and so fifteen, sixteen years later, I’m giving basically the same spiel that I gave then in written form, but what I’m fortunate enough to be able to do now is to demonstrate the results of the effects of the program that has been considered maybe radical or some of those that like me think they’re innovative. I don’t know what they are. I know that it’s a program that I believe in, and it was developed out of what I learned academically, not necessarily experientially. I had a professor who, when I was working on my Master’s degree, and a lot of professors have exercised physiology who have any association with swim coaches, most of the time shake their heads. They go, Why do you train twice a day, why do you go 10, 20, 30,000 yards of workout when you’re training for something that lasts for most swimmers fewer than two minutes. And where in the world of physiology did fifteen minutes become an endurance? And if you’re trying to go faster than fifteen minutes, it’s really becoming a sprint anyway. It’s not even an endurance thing on the other end of its spectrum. So, when he challenged me with regards to that, because I was like any other coach… I had my small club team and my goal was taking this novice team and training them, you know, doubles every day, Monday through Saturday, and going 9,000 yards in a workout. And that was the goal. And when I achieved that goal, we weren’t any more successful, and we hadn’t really advanced, but that’s what I knew had to be done.


That’s how I grew up as a swimmer training. I trained as an age group kid up in northern California. I went down to Long Beach State to train with Coach John Urbanacheck, and I trained like… you know, he’s one of our best distance coaches in the country, and I learned a lot from that experience, and I didn’t get any faster until I quit swimming with John. And that’s not John’s fault. But I actually got faster when I was working on my Master’s degree during a study on myself to see the effectiveness of short-sprint training. And I started changing my ideas about training. I went through a phase after I realized that 9,000 yards a day wasn’t maybe as effective as I thought it was and I was challenged about things. I learned about words like aerobic and words like anaerobic, and I did like everybody else, I think, has done, gone through a phase of training where we warmed up and we did some anaerobic stuff, and we did some aerobic stuff. And then I realized that that stuff… they were words, but very few of us really recognized what those words really meant physiologically. And as I was further challenged about training concepts, I began to think differently about training. And I came up with an idea that wasn’t really new to me,  it was part of physiology all along, that trying to create a minimal model of training was probably more effective, or could be more effective, than trying to find some maximal threshold of training, but really trying to find the minimal. What do you have to do? What’s the least amount, what’s the least time, what’s the least distance that you have to do to be effective? Anybody that stands up and says that they know how far, how much, how many… I don’t believe that. And what I hope the rest of this morning will give you an understanding that there’s many ways to train an athlete, there are many ways that are very effective, and if you have confidence in the program that you subscribe to, then I think that you’ll be extremely effective.


I’m very confident in the program that I have. I think my coaching staff is very confident in the program that we’ve produced, and it’s a philosophy that I think works effectively from a standpoint of physiology and not necessarily again a standpoint of experience. The program, and again, this is supposed to be an overview of the whole program.


The pre-comp program is really about basic skill development. We’re not trying to turn them into competitive animals. We’re trying to keep them in the water on a year-round basis on a minimal level. We’re trying to introduce to these kids a lot of things like Bill Boomer has produced over the last couple of years about balance skills and posture skills and movement through the water, and just trying to expose them to some elements that we think will become more important later on. We teach them skills associated with stretching and some dryland skills that for about five minutes a day just some general stretching to get them used to that before you proceed to an exercise, you stretch or maybe you do some drill activities to make it fun. Sometimes you do those thinks on a cold winter day just to keep them out of the water where maybe it’s a little chilly and you’d rather have them out on the dryland a little bit longer.


We teach them year-round participation, and I think that’s an important part of what we’re trying to do is get them there once a week, twice a week on a regular basis. With the age group development program, these are kids who, again, I talked about earlier, are participating in our program a little bit more often. Again, we’re trying to emphasize basic swimming skills in a minimal amount of time, in thirty minutes to forty minutes in the water. Some of our little bit more advanced groups are in for about an hour and fifteen minutes. And dryland and stretching skills are all important parts of that. We sometimes start to introduce them to some very light weight medicine balls, maybe sometimes just rolling them on the ground between partners, not throwing them so much, or just basically, just some basic stretching skills. And, again, what we’re trying to do is create an environment of regularity of training. And training isn’t really the word that should be associated with age group development kids or age group programs. It’s really teaching experiences. And we like to use the model of education with families that are involved in swimming. You don’t send your kid to first grade twice a week…the two days a week that you want to go. You send them every day because that’s what the program is. We don’t teach them that you have to be there every day, but we encourage regularity of the program because that’s how you get better. That’s how you advance your skills. That’s how you introduce more complex skills, is regularity of your participation.


With the age group program, there is an enhanced regularity of participation as they go through the program. We expect the gold group to be there more often because they’re pretty committed to swimming, even at that age. Some of our nine and ten year olds there are there five, sometimes six days a week. There are some differences to the age group program now that I am encouraging and am excited about, and I mean really excited about because it would help our program with regard to boys. They participate in our dryland program up until this point under my former age group coach, Brian Pyor, who was very regimented, a lot of medicine ball work, stretching, and skills like that, and I think that it was very effective. It worked very well. But I think with our younger boys that we have in our program, we need more game time, more play time. And I have learned a lot from Dave Nockenower over the last couple of years and listened to what he does with his program, and I think it can be extremely effective in your dryland activities if there is a lot of game activity going on that’s structured and supervised by a coach.


Currently, Rod Hanson coaches our better 9-10 year old boys, and we’ve got about 8-10 of them, and in most programs that’s a rarity. We are adjacent to a field, a soccer field, and a park, and they’re out playing soccer, out playing rugby, they’re throwing balls around. When the sprinklers go on they’re out playing in the sprinklers and boys need to play, and they need to play effectively and they need to play hard. And I see the benefits that these kids are deriving from a dryland program that’s less rigid, but it’s a lot of really hard game activity, and I thinks it’s been really good. Our 9-10 boys this year did a very, very outstanding job in their competitions at JOs and their own championships. But I keep encouraging Rod to expand the dryland activity to include things like rugby and soccer and basketball and play hard, and then when you come in to swim be focused on the technical parts of swimming.


The maximum yardage that the age group program goes    at the top end is about 3,000 to 3,500 yards, and that has been consistent since I’ve been there. It’s a very structured workout. It’s a lot of 25s and 50s and occasional 100 here or there, maybe a 200 here and there. But the really important facet of this program is teaching skill, teaching the drill. It’s sometimes rather boring and mundane because it’s 8 25s, catch up, freestyle concentrated on the elbow position, good steady fast kick, and you get 10-15 seconds rest between each 25. But I think that it’s really important that we teach the mechanical skills as early on as possible. Training can come later.


I don’t believe that an aerobic base is critically important  to success in swimming. I think you can develop an aerobic base as a term that people use at a much later standpoint in time. I think you need to develop an efficiency base much longer, much earlier, than worrying about some aerobic base nomenclature. So, doing the yardage is not a high priority in our program. Amanda Beard came out of this program as a very effective international champion, and I don’t care  if anybody wants to challenge me at her performance of late. She still is an Olympic silver medalist and gold medalist and American record holder, going 3,000 yards a day on a minimal program. And moving into the national program doing about 5,000 yards a day. Somebody had a question right here?


(QUESTION). The question is that females achieve aerobic threshold at an earlier stage than men and that’s true physiologically in terms of I think our average adolescent individual that reached puberty that beyond that point you’re probably not going to see a lot of tremendous gains from that regard. But again, you can’t go back and change mechanics dramatically with somebody who’s spent most of their time thrashing about the water for the development of an aerobic threshold. I think the greater you can work on efficiency at a younger age is more important, and again, we always preface these things… I heard John Ponce speak yesterday… These are my opinions, those were John’s yesterday. Those are Pete Morgan’s yesterday. These are my opinions and again, I’ve got enough results of our program to demonstrate that certainly Amanda Beard was an exceptional young athlete, but her international success was not predicated on trying to do a yardage program. It was based on learning skills associated with being as good as she is. And I think she’s going to be there next year. Don’t count her out yet. The maximal distance of the age group program, mostly are 25s, 50s, 75s, 100’s, not a lot of yardage. Not a lot of longer yardage. And repetitive technique correction is really important throughout the program. We do a lot of drill work and technical orientation through workouts, and it’s the drill work that makes up the work, and it’s not just … there’s drill parts and there’s work parts. The drill is part of the work. That will become a little more evident. The focus is not dictated by a senior training program in the sense that because my athletes aren’t going 20,000 a day or 10,000 a workout. There’s not a pressure on the age group program that we’ve got to go 5,000 yard workouts because at some point they’re going to go 10,000 yard workouts. There’s not that kind of a transition between our age group program and the senior program. The adaptation to our senior program is still difficult because it’s a faster pace and more effort, and yardage is longer. But we’ve not had a tremendous problem with kids moving out of our age group program into our senior program. I haven’t seen that happen.

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