Juggling Club and High School Programs by Derek Howorth, Alamo Area Aquatice & Northside I.S.D. (2013)


Published


Hello, thanks for coming.  Well George [Block] left, so I can tell you that George is one of the best guys you could ever meet.  I was so privileged to be able to swim under him.  Just an amazing man, all the things that he does, just great.  So that being said…

 

The George Block Aquatic Center [on slide].  For me this is where the whole thing started.  I fell in love with the sport; it was a really a challenging thing that I never really thought that I would ever have the opportunity to do.  And so this is kind of the pool where we grew-up swimming, where I grew up swimming.  It is one of three 50-meter facilities that we have in our school district, and I will get a little bit more on that a little bit later.  But this is kind of where it all started for me.

 

Kind of traditionally, you got to talk about some of your accomplishments.  For me it is, what am I doing as a coach.  Those are some of the things that I was lucky enough to be able to do.  I was able to get mentored under some really good coaches; two of which are actually here, three including George, right.  One was at Florida Aquatic Swim Team, and now it is called Gator Swim Club; and there I was the Age Group coach.  The head coach kind of quit or got fired—I do not remember exactly what happened—and then they asked me to take over.  And Gregg Troy was a huge help in what I liked… or in helping me organize the team.  And he said: anytime come on over, talk to me, see what we got going on.  And I did, and I got to pick his brain a lot, and I was really pretty lucky to be able to do that.  Mike Curley, he is in the stands right there; he is with Highlander Aquatics.  He taught me how to really have a ball on the deck with the kids.  And I was only there for a year, but it was a great year and great memorable year for me.  Beyond that I was with Fleet Swimming, Clayton Cagle—if are you over there, thanks.  And I hope I was able to bring some of the enthusiasm that Mike taught into Clayton’s program.  And again with all the things that these guys are doing, I was able to really learn a lot and I will kind of share with you as we go along why those things came along.

 

Obviously, I swam at Texas, so I got some Eddie Reese stuff there.  And now I am currently with N.I.S.D.: Northside Independent School District.  And then I was also in 2009 ASCA Fellow.  So there we go.

 

The ideal plan—we are just going to cut to the chase and then I can finish, right.  The high school coaches coach summer league swim teams.  When you get the high school coaches coaching this, they get their summer league teams to join the club team.  And then on the back-side, they get to see those same swimmers come back onto their high school teams.  It is the ideal thing.  In addition to that you want to look at: how do you get your club coaches to also help-out with the high school coaches that are in your service area.  So ideally you are going to have the high school coaches coaching your summer league teams, and they will have a philosophy for that team.  And then they are going to hire swimmers or your club coaches to try to help develop that area.  Does that make sense?  So every high school dynasty starts out in this fashion.  That is the ideal scenario (golly day, excuse me).

 

So getting back to our facility, we have got a 50-meter pool by 20-yard pool with bulkheads.  It is very versatile, because you can move those bulkheads: we can have long course, short course meters, short course yards and then 20 yards.  In the scenario that we are in currently is that we have so many people and so many programs going-on at our facility at one time, that we have to be… we have to use, 20 yards in the evening times with our club.  The high school portion what we try to do is we go 25 yards on one end and then 25 meters on the other end.

 

Where I am currently coaching, it is kind of where the inner-city and middle-class meet.  And so it is a really unique scenario, in that you have got parents that are pretty motivated to help out and get their kiddos to the pool, and then you have got parents that are completely unmotivated to get their kiddos to the pool.  Because sometimes these kiddos have to go out and get a job to help pay for some of the bills at home, pay for the electricity and things along those lines; and it makes it really pretty difficult.

 

So when we are balancing all those things, we have to take those things into consideration to make sure that we provide great opportunities for the kids to get jobs.  Maybe get jobs at our pool as a lifeguard or as a swim instructor and all those things.  But then we also look into making sure that they do not overlap with: hey, we have practice time going on when we have lessons.  Because we have lessons, swimming team and diving going on now at the same time, outside of… that is the club portion; the high school portion is just high school swimming so.

 

In the end George really found an amazing way to get a dream [second] facility and we will get to that in a little bit.  The first seven years we operated as two sites, operating independently.  And that means we had one head coach for one site, developing the philosophy, sharing with the kiddos this is what we are doing, sharing with the coaches this is what we are doing.  And it was both the high school coaches and the club coaches; and then that was being done on two different levels.  It was nice for me at the beginning, right.  So you could get there.  And we had a smaller program because of the nature of having that the inner-city/middle-class crossroad.  So it was a little bit of smaller intimate programs.  So we had a lot more flexibility than the other site, which was huge numbers.  Definitely strong middle-class to upper-middle-class type folks, that could get their kids… moms who were not working, so they could get their kiddos to practice.

 

And so the flexibility that we had for us was saying: okay, so how are we going to provide the program that is going to allow this system to work to where we get them going from summer leaguers to age groupers to high school swimmers and then on to college.  And so we basically ended-up locking ourselves into the room, okay.  And then figuring things out—we got all of our coaches into one room, it was nice.

 

So the unique situation about the school district is that they are purchasing these large facilities for great use.  We have five high school teams that train at the same time.  And that is five personalities, and it is six including myself, right.  One of them was a head coach—and that was me, the head coach.  For the first four years there was a lot of struggle; we had a lot of coaches that really were not on-board with how are we going to get these things done.  So that was a lot of people that said I’m out of here or I’m going to cause a lot of conflict with you, and so it was a lot of things that was really uncomfortable to grow through.  But in the end, right now, we ended-up having five high school coaches that really care about the kids, and that is when we were able to really put ourselves in that room—like we talked about—and say what are we going to do and how are we going to accomplish the goal of getting these kids to swim fast.

 

There is a lot of give, when we figure this thing out.  We had to give… everybody had to give a lot more than they ever imagined; and myself included, because I had certain standards that I expected to be met.  And it turned out that I could just shift them into different areas.  But it was absolutely uncomfortable.  And actually Chris Van Slooten was there for the very beginning phases of that.  Again we had smaller high school teams; you know we have high school teams that have 6 kiddos on it to 16 kiddos on it.  And then there are other high school teams, even within our school district, that ended-up having 40 and 50 kids on it; and that is at the other facility that I was talking about.  But again, it provided a lot of flexibility in the end that I really appreciated.

 

So another part of the unique situations is that we have an Athletic office, and they really drive the boat with what is happening with here.  To the point where it was saying: Look everything is high school driven.  You can run swim meets, but do not let running a club swim meet get in the way of running the high school stuff, because that is why we are here.

 

So standards.  You know, five high school teams, one varsity standard.  We had weekly meetings to discuss the basic stuff.  We actually had… we would just go to a little restaurant right down the street and just sit and talk for an hour; every Monday morning.  And it was… some of it was uncomfortable.  It was really pushing buttons and saying: alright look, I do not think that you push the kids in the right way; I think you are… this, that and the other.  And it was everybody; everybody would cross the room and talk about the things that they really appreciated and did not appreciate about what was going on.

 

For me my job was to make sure that we were all taking care of the school district things.  What does it need to happen so that we are staying within the rules and making sure that we are doing a great job with that?  Are our forms being turned in?  Are our… are the U.I… for us it is the UIL, the University Interscholastic League, which governs high school sports in our state; so we are always staying within the UIL rules?

 

We went to meeting every 6-8 weeks, to discuss the larger picture stuff.  And those things included: What is the season plan going to look like?  Are we following the season plan?  It went into the philosophy of: okay, well we have these kiddos that need to be sprinting, these kiddos that probably need a little bit more distance-type stuff.  And again, we would revisit: what are we willing to do for the athletes?  And for us, we decided that we are willing to have the uncomfortable conversations to make sure that the athletes benefit in the long run.

 

So what we ended up coming up with was: we are going to combine all the teams.  We were operating as five independent high school, plus a high-performance group for all the kids that were a little bit faster.  And so what we ended up doing, again, was combining those teams.  And what we got out of it was: the team that had 6 could compete with the teams that had 16.  And so we had, instead of 6 and 8 and 10 and 12, we had 60 kids that could come-in and do a great job and that created a whole lot of energy.  And the kids really, at first, did not like it, because I want my coach, I think this person should do that.  But in the end, they got a lot faster.

 

So I think some of the things you have got to do is just talk about the facts.  When you are going to coordinate this stuff, it is going to be difficult, it is going to uncomfortable.  The good news is that they should support each other; and the better that you work together, the better the athletes are going to get.  And for us, I know all the coaches that I have met—the high school coaches and the club coaches—they all are in it for the benefit of the kids.  So be willing to have the uncomfortable conversations for that, okay.

 

And then moving forward, looking at high school.  You know it is a four-year developmental plan, usually 14 to 17-18.  It is usually, right?  Sometimes kids move-in or move-out.  With high school you are talking about eight events, that is basically… the yardage there right, you see you have an average of a 168 yards in any given race.  With the club stuff, you are looking at a 10 year development plan.  And those are just wildly different things, right.  Again you can see the average there.  The numbers are just different, so you have got to learn how to manage that well.

 

(I had this unique setup where I was going to use it off my iPhone, and they did not have a wifi so I had to kind of go back to some paper and my little side notes.)

 

So again the requirements: it requires a lot of communication.  Again we work with weekly meetings, and we would really hash those things out.  And I had one coach, he was just such a type-A guy, he would just get in everybody’s face about stuff: look, I do not like this and this, that and the other.  And finally, everybody kind of kept taking-on a little bit of that persona and standing their ground.  And to me it was not necessarily the most comfortable thing, but it was a great thing to see some of our coaches grow-up and talk about real issues.  Because for a while there, we had a couple of coaches that just… they behaved like children.  They were the coaches were the kid’s friends; and we did not need that.  We needed coaches, so that the athletes could step-up and rise to the challenge.

 

Again during those weekly meetings, we talked about keeping our message consistent with our meetings that we had every 6-8 weeks.  That hey, we talked about this, and these are the things that we need to do so that we could all get in step and do.  We also talked about trying to leave our egos at the door you know, and that is very difficult to do.  I am just as proud of what those kiddos are doing as the next person, and that is a good thing; but we all had to decide that it is about the kids and not about ourselves.

 

And, again, sometimes you are going to disagree about almost everything.  When you have six people in a room, you are not going to get six people on the same page.  So it is about that compromise and making sure that you do what is best for the kids.  And that was, for us, we kept saying: alright how is this going to benefit all of the athletes?

 

Some of our successes as a result of really hashing through all of this stuff is that….  From 2006 to 2010, we did not do… we did it all separate, right.  And then we finally started saying, basically… through 2011, excuse me, everything was separate.  So we basically had 14 people that finaled at the District meet; we had a 6 people final at the Region meet.  And basically everything before that was about the same.  In 2012, we actually had 28 finalists: we doubled the numbers.  And for us, that was the first year that we had this combined program thing that we said: we are all going to do whatever it takes for the kids.

 

28: we doubled the number of finalists there for the district meet, which to us was, we were leaving the District meet thinking this is great, you know, we have got 28 kids going to Regions, this is great.  Then we moved on to the Region meet, and we had 16 people final.  Which was, hands down, the best we had ever done, as our facility was concerned.  And then we actually had one person make the State meet; it was a boy.  It was a up-and-coming young lad, that actually coach Chris Van Slooten coached. Really good kiddo, great family, and was from one of those inner-city type schools.  And just did a great job; ended up going 4:33 in the 500 free.  That was great from a guy that started it 5:20 his freshman year.

 

And then 2013, which is this past year, we had a… again we kind of dropped in the numbers there at the District meet; but our Region meet numbers went up a little bit and we had a lot more quality-type stuff: they were top-5 instead of bottom-16.  And we also had someone make the State meet again; this time it was a sophomore female.  And in my eyes, I am thinking, this is a great thing for the overall programming, that we have somebody that is making the State meet as a sophomore.  It is not a guarantee that they are going to make it beyond that, but I believe that this a young lady that is going to continue to work hard and do great things.  So those were some of our successes.

 

So the direction of success.  I love this little visual [on slide].  Because you always kind of set out and make your plan; and it is a straight arrow, that is where we are going and everything.  It is really the thing on the right.  Because you have people everyday that… whether it is parents just saying oh why this and why not that right; or it is coaches saying well I interpreted this way.  That is why you need to have the team meetings and group meetings to say no this is what we have been talking about.  And give the examples of: we are not going to accept a poor streamline, we are not going to accept anybody that does not put in great efforts.

 

And again, you have got to plan.  If you fail to plan, plan to fail: that is a… Gregg Troy always impressed that upon me.  And eventually I finally started planning.  People always try to find a way to deviate from that straight arrow; and if you expect it to come, I feel like that is one of the most important things you can do as a coach to make sure that you keep yourself calm.

 

So our staff… or your staff.  A lot of people are not going to like standards; they are going to fight it.  And I think what you end-up finding is what type of coach you have got in front of you.  You know, are they going to be there to standup for the values and the morals that you have established for your team.  What do they represent?

 

And I am going to kind of pick-on Coach Van Slooten here real quick.  He walked into an inner-city program, and said I am going to hold the highest standards that I can hold and if I were a little taller, I would hold them a little higher, right.  And the kids fought it, they did; they did not appreciate it.  Some parents really did, which was wonderful, but they may not have always been around.  And in the end what we found is that the kids really did like his standards.  And the kids became very, very comfortable with it.

 

And when Coach Van Slooten moved-on to Fork Union Military Academy—which was a very sad day in my life—we had to hire another coach.  And we thought we had a good guy, and what we found out was that he was a very young teacher.  And so we kept getting pulled into the classroom or up for a meeting, or up for this and up for that.  So he missed a lot.  And so the kiddos at Holmes High School lost a lot of that stuff.  And a lot of those things that Coach Van Slooten really instilled, those high standards of, you know, when you go to Swimming, when we travel, you are going to wear a proper shirt and a tie.  The Friday before our dual meets, that is what we are going to do.  And the new guy came in and did not institute…. Well why not?  I mean I kind of liked… it was kind of interesting.  The kids really liked dressing up, they enjoyed themselves, and they really found comfort in the standards that they had.

 

And for me it was really interesting because I am watching five high schools.  And what does this high school do, what does that high school do.  And it is all happening right in front of my eyes so I can see: man the standards mean everything.  And if you do not have them, it is going to hurt and it is going to be a long, painful road.  It is going to be more painful than that squiggly line of the success, right.

 

And then what you look for. For me, I look for… what does the coach do?  What kind of standards do they hold?  I have actually kind of appreciated talking to parents a lot more recently because… I should not say recently, but the thing that has dawned on me more recently has been: what type of questions do the parents ask?  Because, really they are getting at: how is this coach going to treat my child?  So I like listening to what the coaches say because I am listening for what is a parent going to listen for.  Is that good?  And so I get to throw it back to the coaches and say, “Well you said this”, and that did not really say anything.  Maybe it did not say that we are going to train hard.  Maybe it said that I do not really care if your kids wear their jeans halfway down their pants.  I mean that is just not good stuff.  We want to make sure that they dress properly, that they swim fast, that they hold standards in the water with streamlines, with efforts.

 

And so to me those are the discussions I get to have with the bigger group, with all of the high school coaches.  And again to me it reveals a lot of their character when we talk about when we have our meetings and they talk about their standards.  And well maybe we need to lower this, or….  I love it when a coach says: let’s raise it.  Yes let’s do that.

 

Alright, so why are we figuring these things out?  The basics for me is that we are forced to.  We have five high schools training at one facility at the same time, and we have to.  Because what you say to that coach today, they are going to remember five years or ten years and twenty years down the road.  And that matters.  So you have got to be a little bit more careful about what you say.

 

And what we end up finding is that we had a coach that did not really follow that, and was saying some pretty offensive things to a lot of coaches.  And it was great because the… actually it was horrible for a while.  But it was great because the rest of the coaches ended-up kind of expelling the attitude, saying, that is not right.  And eventually that coach just kind of moved on, and it was great day in our lives too.  So that is what… to me the end is why we are figuring it out, because we have to look at intimately every single day.

 

We are also figuring these things out because our district, our entire school district, has certain standards that they expect to be met.  And the direction that our Athletic Director gives us, to me, is one of the best things that we have going for us.  And it makes things a little more difficult, there is a lot more layers as a result of that and as a result of the way we have things set-up.  But if you can follow that philosophy from A to B to C to D, you are going to get everybody in line.

 

You know I was talking with Coach [Allison] Beebe here about… one of the things I appreciate about what she does is that she is very loyal to the Nike brand.  And as a result of that, Nike is very loyal to Coach Beebe.  And she does other things that I think is in support of USA Swimming, in support of what a lot of the things that we do.  And I always try to look for making sure that the coaches try to find those things that line-up with the district standard, their own high school standard, the way we operate within Northside Aquatics.  Because for us—and again I am going to get to this in a little bit—we recently built a large facility and the district found out that Aquatics within Northside is greatly valued.  We had… they stopped counting the number of people, when we had a grand opening, at a 1,000.  At the previous grand openings, they did not have any more than 200.  I am going: that is amazing.  So we are figuring these things out because basically we are forced to.

 

So the second Northside campus, or the Northside swimming pools campus.  So the Phase I came in 2006, and it was basically an indoor, 50-meter by 25-yard pool.  And it has 7 feet on the outsides, 4 feet in the middle to where you can kind of operate lessons, and you can run two sets of meet at the same time.  So it is really nice setup.  And then Phase II was finished this past year.  And it is an outdoor, 50-meter pool, with stadium seating; where it is kind of 7 feet to 9 feet.  It has got a 25-meter by 25-yard diving well, and it has also got an instructional pool.  And we have six high schools that train at this facility.

 

So we have six high schools that train at this facility.  And really it was the six high schools were training in the first 50-meter pool for a long time.  And now we are just able to stretch-out right now.  And one of the things we are doing is actually saying: we are not going to allow… the clean-up of the new facilities, we are not even letting them in the locker rooms in the facility, we are waiting to have events.

 

And so some of the things that we were competing with was: the old versus the new.  The old pool versus the new pool, for the past several years.  And so what we ended-up having was, it was a little bit of that inner-city/suburbia type of stuff, and it was really uncomfortable.  And we had to work with all of our high school coaches to get eleven high school coaches into a room to decide how are we going to handle this.  Because we do not need someone from the school where everybody has money, talking to a kid from an inner-city school about well you trained there and you do this.  And what ended-up happening was, all of the coaches agreed: no we are just not going to put up with that.  Because you did hear it, and so we had to stop it.  And we did; and we stopped it pretty hard.

 

So moving forward, we are looking at doing two things.  We still have the two sites, but we are looking at doing one head coach and then one coach to develop the coaches—which is a pretty unique situation.  I have talked to a number of coaches this weekend, over the summertime when I kind of first kind of caught wind of it—this is what we are going to do.  And I think it is really unique in that we are actually going be able to provide one philosophical direction for the whole team, all three sites.  And then we are going to have somebody that can go in there and train each coach along the way to say: look this is what great streamline looks like, this is what great kicking looks like, this is the way you should approach filming, this is why you should approach your psychological stuff.  How are you going to make sure that those kiddos are ready to step-up and race when the pressure is on.  And so it is a really unique thing that I think we will be able to offer all of the athletes within Northside Aquatics.

 

So how do we get to this?  We actually had Mick and Sue Nelson [with USA Swimming]; and if you have not had those guys come out and talk to your team I would recommend it, because they are the really amazing about how to use-up all your water time.  But they came out, Mick and Sue Nelson came out, and we had a lot of… it was our entire, eight-hour day that we spent sitting and talking with them.  The only thing that we did not was we took a one-hour break for lunch.

 

And we just talked about: how are we are going to use our time, this is what I have seen other people use, these are the things that we would do.  One of the most interesting things that they said is: what would you do if you could put these pools right next to each other?  And this is part of the reason why we came to the conclusion of: one head coach and one coach developer.  Because what it instilled in it is the idea that of: what would you do if these things were next to each other and it kind of just got you to think about things entirely differently.

 

For me it was really enjoyable because it got me to think about all of our high schools, and why is it that they cannot just operate independently but dependently.  Because that is what we are trying to do here.  So again this is how we got to…. And this is a picture of the facility—I do not know if you can see it back, can you guys see that?  So we have got the diving tower, we got the stadium pool, I need to backup.

 

In the end, I loved the Mick and Sue Nelson thing, because we were forced to… because they forced us to think about eliminating the boundaries.  What you guys have is probably a lot different from what we are doing, in that you probably have a high school here and high school there and high school there and you do not get maybe enough interaction with each other.  Because we are forced to do it, I think it made it all work.  And I would encourage you to have the uncomfortable conversations, work through the muddy water, be respectful of each other and get things moving from there.

 

And for me, I made it really fast through this talk.  So why do not we have some questions.  Yes sir?

 

[audience member]:  How many of the coaches on your club team are coaching high school kids?  Or how many of the high school coach on your club team?

 

[Howorth]:  So we actually had one person that was doing that, and that was Coach Van Slooten.  We do not have any of that do that.  We are limited in that if you have a high school coach, they cannot coach anybody, any swimmer, that is in their attendance zone; because that is basically considered recruiting.  So that is again kind of going back to the UIL rules, that it makes it a legal to do that.  So Coach V., he had the opportunity to coach one of our age group programs because we did not have anybody from that particular attendant zone, so he was able to do that.  But for the most part we do not, because that makes a 12-hour day, a 14-hour day.

 

[audience member]:  Who does scheduling for meet?  The districts?  The athletic directors?

 

[Howorth]:  Right, great question actually.  So I am also part of Alamo Area Aquatics, and part of what Alamo Area Aquatics does is they do all of the scheduling for all the club meets, all the high school meets.  They create some of the dual meets.  Some of the dual meets are just hey let’s get the top two teams and put them up next to each other, and some of them are hey these are just two like teams and let’s get them to be get in the race.  So that is all done by Alamo Area Aquatics.

 

But you do have definitely have a group overlooking everything and making sure that everybody is getting exactly what they need.  We tend to run our dual meets on Saturdays, so that it does not interfere with any of the training.  And we actually will do them sometimes in the afternoon, so that even the club portion will have the opportunity to have their Saturday morning practice.

 

One of the cools things that we are doing actually with the outdoor Swimming facility and the indoor one, is that we are going to try to run a dual meet with 24 teams at the same time.  And we are calling it the Mega Dual.  Just to have an opportunity to get everybody in at the same time and really generate some good positive publicity for Swimming in our area.  And so it is a pretty cool idea, I think that it is going to be a big success.  So, you know, we will let you know how it goes.

 

[audience member]:  Is this the pool where next summer’s Southern Zone Championships is going to be?

 

[Howorth]:  Yes it is.  So if you can see up in the top right over there, you can see the diving tower.  And then the building to the right there is the indoor 50-meter pool as well.  So yes, this is where the Zone meet is going to be held.  Great, glad to hear it, we are going to be happy to have you guys.

 

Yes sir?

 

[partially inaudible question from audience]:  …I am curious about how you would approach somebody who….

 

[Howorth]:  So I can tell you I have had… you have got to wear them down.  I had a younger coach that was exactly like that: I’m doing it my way, and I’m doing it my way and that’s it.  It took six years.  And it took some of the successes of athletes that we were sharing versus some of the successes of the athletes that we were not sharing for them to see the big picture of: I have an idea of what is going on.  So that, you know: oh wow that kid swim really fast, how do we do that?  And it finally kind of kept clicking with them to say okay.

 

But it was conversations, three times a week for six years.  And again, it is not comfortable, but it is what it takes for the kids.  I am pretty stubborn: I can just keep talking to the kiddo or talking to the coach and make sure that they get to do what they need to do, you know.  But I would encourage you to just keep having these conversations.  And there is going to be stuff, and just: look, let’s go out and talk.  Let us go get a meal.  Let us talk about some uncomfortable stuff: why is it that you do not appreciate what is going on here.  And I would just encourage you to do that;  work through it.  Because obviously you are in it for the benefit of the kids; both of you guys care about kids otherwise you would not be doing what you are doing.  So maybe start on the common ground.

 

Pardon?

 

[partially inaudible audience member]:  I have a group of about 10 girls who are all freshman now in high school; they are starting their high school practices now.  I do not want to lose them to emotional high school issues… the last think I want to do is put the kids in the middle.

 

[Howorth]:  Right.  That is the worst thing we can do right.  But that is what ends-up happening unfortunately.  So I would go directly to that, say, Let’s take the kids out of the equation and let’s work on this thing.

 

[partially inaudible audience member]:  Is there an area bound by your high school athletic association? …

 

[Howorth]:  That is a good question, because we have a similar situation in that we have the UIL, the University of Interscholastic League, and that is the governing body for all high school sports in the State of Texas.  And we do absolutely have to abide by those rules.  You know the eight-hour rule for Football applies to Swimming.  But we also have TISCA, the Texas Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association, and they are allowed to do some type of governing about things like when does the high school meet take place and things along those lines.  So that kind of, a little bit of both, but you know the fortunate/unfortunate part is that the main rules from the UIL, they absolutely… they stick.

 

And for me the interesting part, as an administrator for a school district, I think about: what is the UIL going to make a ruling on?  And they do not make rulings on almost anything because as soon as they do, that means they have to apply it across the board.  And when they do, [they are:] absolutely establishing that precedence, they are applying the rules across the board.  And when they do that, that usually puts the inner-city and the rural folks at a major disadvantage, and they are unable to grow anything.  So they really try not to.  They really try to make sure that the governance goes by school district, and their interpretation of this particular rule or that particular rule.  So that really it is a little more flexible and it applies to what is going on in that situation.  (Does that kind of answer your question?  Okay good.)

 

[audience member]:  Can you tell me how you work with the high school coaches to get the best out of the swimmers in championships season?  Because the high school’s season, their championships may flow into when the club championships are.  So how do you work with coach to get the best out of the athlete… [trails into inaudible].

 

[Howorth]:  I got really lucky in that the high school coaches ask me to write all the workouts; so, incredibly lucky.  So I was able to write all the workouts and stay within the eight-hour rule within the UIL.  And so I just kind of formulated it into my plan of how we were going to make sure that they rest well for the District meet, the Region meet, the State meet; and then moved on to Sectionals or Junior Nationals or whatever meet we decided we were going to go to.

 

And then I talked them through that.  You know we would meet every day for five minutes before practice: this is the scenario that we are going through; these are the workouts that we are going to do; this is going to relate back into something you are going to see in three weeks.  And this is the reasons why I like to do them.  Etc. etc.  And so then on the back side of that, I would share with them: well this is the way I like to see things done as a resting phase; or this one is totally new to me, I am going to try it, I have heard of it, I think it is really interesting, and I think it fits within the philosophy of what we are doing here.  So really try to talk them through all those scenarios.

 

[audience member]:  Let me get this straight: your high school, you all can train eight hours per week?  The entire week?  That is all you can train?

 

[Howorth]:  The entire week.  So there are a few ways of looking at this; so it is a good question.  Some folks look at it and say the athlete can train eight hours; some folks look at it and say the coach can have eight hours of contact-time with the athletes.  So you could… and the way I understand that the other sports stay within the bounds of that rule is that they will have one coach for Swimming for two hours, one coach for dryland for an hour—a different coach.  And so in the end they end-up getting more hours out of that particular week.

 

[inaudible audience comment]

 

[Howorth]:  So what we end-up doing here is that we actually do say we say we are going to train eight hours in the mornings, only, for our high school.

 

[audience]:  And this is in the entire State of Texas?  They are swimming that fast, swimming eight hours a week?

 

[Howorth]:  And that is where the club part comes into play.  If they are not members of the club, they just do not make it to the State meet.  That is just the way it comes down to.

 

[audience]:  I think I am doing something wrong.

 

[Howorth]:  I know you; you are doing lot of right.

 

[audience]:  I am trying to figure out how you get a kid to go a 4:33 in the 500 Free, from 5:20, and 8 hours a week.  Unless the guy is 6’5” and the guy moves to Austin or something.  So the kids can do both: they can swim in the morning somewhere with a club, and then in the afternoon swim with their high school.

 

[Howorth]:    Right.  And for us, we do it the reverse: the morning portion is our high school time.  And we do not we do not let anybody else come in, because it is all about the high school stuff.  And then the evening time is our club portion and we have got all that programming that I told you we have got.  There is a lot of stuff going on at the same time.

 

[audience]:  Now that I have got it clear, I have a question.  So how do teams workout knowing what the club coaches are doing and the high school coaches are doing?  Let’s say… you know you can only go to the well so often.  Let’s say you went threshold in the morning workout, or something like that; how would the club coach know that afternoon what the high school coaches did, and vice versa?

 

[Howorth]:  Right, so great question, again.  For me, I was really lucky: the high school coaches asked me to write all the workouts.  And then I obviously was writing all the club workouts in the afternoon.  That was the no-brainer part that to me made the scenario a lot easier and kind of simplified things.  What I have done with the other portions of our group, now that we are moving forward we have got much larger groups of numbers, we cannot do: everybody trains at the same time, everybody does the same workout, all that kind of stuff.  So we are working on a system—and I just found out about this about three weeks ago, so there is a lot of work to lead up to this and sorry about the delay on the answer.

 

But we are working on a game plan of saying: okay this is what a week should look like, you should train this energy systems throughout the week.  You should train these energy systems throughout the week and fill-in 9 practices.  And we are going to work with: what can you live with and what can you live with, so that it works itself out to where we know this is the type set that is going to happen on Monday morning.  This is the type set… it is going to be distance-aerobic on a Monday afternoon.  It is going to be a sprint-IM on Tuesday morning.  It is going to be recovery on Tuesday.  I think it is going to be all those kinds of things so that we put our coaches kind of in a learning mode.  To where they understand what the energy systems do, and make sure that we do benefit the kids.  And again: it is going to be the uncomfortable conversations.

 

[inaudible audience members; discussion other club/high school situations]

 

[Howorth]:  So one of the things actually—to chime in on that whole thing—is that what I heard was happening in the Dallas area, was that a club coach would try to get all of the high school coaches together and say Guys, this is what I would like to see you do.  If you could do these things in the morning, I will take care of these things in the afternoons.  And whether or not that was happening or not I do not know.  But you know if you think about it differently, you can kind of you can get a different result and you can try to coordinate things.  Ultimately, everything comes down to communication.

 

[audience member]:  Do you have a lot of high school kids that end up swimming club?

 

[Howorth]:  We have, I would say off the top of my head, we have got 300 high school swimmers out of 11 high schools.  Out of those high schools swimmers, we probably have a 100, maybe, that are in the club system.

 

[audience]:  So the mornings kind of stand on their own.  Because 200 kids are not swimming club in the afternoon, so the morning program has to be it for them.

 

[Howorth]:    It is a legit program, absolutely.  Right.  So you have to make sure you are hitting all the energy systems in the morning; and then doing it all in the afternoon too, the things that you need to hit, so that it compliments each other.  And that is why it is okay… well, I have actually asked some of our high school coaches: if you could organize this in any way that you dreamt possible, what would you do?

 

And so, we have not finalizes this thing yet but they have come back with the couple of different things.  Because right now we are doing water polo, so I have a few weeks to work on the game plan with this.  And so: how does that work with exactly what you are talking about.  Well you are doing all sprint, Monday through Friday morning; you know that does not look like a good game plan.  So why don’t we try to work on what are you going to do with this 500 kiddo, you know.

 

Does that make sense? So they are coming back with the new game plan when I get back from here.

 

[inaudible comment from audience]

 

[Howorth]:  That is a great idea; talk about something other than the sport.  And I am glad that you are communicating so well with each other; that is a wonderful thing.  That is really what it comes down to it.

 

[inaudible comment from audience]

 

[Howorth]:  I am glad to hear it, any other questions?  Great.  Well, thank you guys very much, I appreciate it.

 

 

##### end #####

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sponsorship & Partnerships

Official Sponsors and Partners of the American Swimming Coaches Association

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe and get the latest Swimming Coach news