Introduction: Good morning everyone. This morning is kind of the fun part because we get to listen to the development of a young and exciting swimmer – one that we are all so excited to have as a part of USA Swimming’s future. I had the good fortune in 2003 to accompany Kate Ziegler to Australia and there were three things that stood out as I watched her and I think they are all a testament to this morning’s speaker. One was her aggressiveness, which we have all seen and that confidence – that nature that has to be taught to a certain extent. The second thing was her poise. She was very comfortable in every situation and the third thing – probably the best part – she is a fun kid and she was a lot of fun throughout that trip. I think all three things, again, are a testament to our speaker this morning. I am pleased to introduce to you, Ray Benecki. Ray has come onto the scene with Kate, but also Chloe Sutton, who made the National Junior team last year and so it is going to be more and better for us with the help of Ray Benecki.
Ray Benecki: You might want to save the applause until I am done, but it is nice getting it up front. The title of my talk this morning is really Age Group Sprinter to World Class Distance. It is a little bit different than what was published. I guess I should have told ASCA about it a little bit earlier than the beginning of August so it could have made all the publications. Guy invited me to do a clinic – to do a speech at the Eastern States Clinic last year in Orlando. This is probably 5-6, 7 times the number of coaches here so it is a little overwhelming, but we will go on through this. If you haven’t been following Kate Ziegler – the next slide is going to show you her times and in the far left hand column is her overall rank all time.
Also, we are going to overwhelm you a little bit with the audiovisual here – we have a race from World Cup on Long Island – kind of going in the background so we are going to be testing your concentration and focus this morning. We wanted to do two or three other things at once too – to kind of put you in the mind frame of a teenage athlete when they are trying to do five or six things at once in practice. We will go on from here so don’t be too distracted. The next slide is going to show some of the progressions that occurred over these last four years.
I have had the opportunity of coaching Kate for three years in our top group and she has been in our program for four years. She came to us very well prepared as an age group sprinter with a lot of speed, from a program called the Commanders and I was pleased to see her old coach in the back of the hall this morning.
The ages are a little bit off because her birthday is the end of June so spring of 2000 she was a very old 11 – about ready to turn 12 – so you could take one year off all those ages. Now, in the first column, it is interesting to note that she was probably AA as an 11 year old in the Spring of 2000 – A time in the 100, BB in the 200 and maybe – maybe a single B in the 500 freestyle. We were blessed to have a swimmer with speed come into our program.
This is a progression of her times. Now, these are just numbers. We will go into the next slide and we charted her performances between her 50 and 1650 in all the intermediate distances.
Other than the second year – when her distance really exploded – and the Spring of 2003 when she didn’t improve that much in the 50 free. Basically, her improvement has been pretty much mirrored in all of her events at about the same percents. We have had the approach that she is taking a lot of sprint – a lot of speed into her distance and so we have trained her that way. We have trained her for speed and her endurance so we feel that if she shows a half a second improvement in her 50 free – that is going to ripple all the way up through her distance so that it would be one second on her hundred, two seconds on her 200 and so on. This chart here kind of reinforces that, all that.
We will go on to the next one. This one we actually – this is actually her cumulative progression percent improvement from the very beginning.
Now, the slope of these six lines is pretty much very similar. After you get through the first year her improvement has been about the same in all her races from the 50 up to the 1650.
The next slide is pretty much her long course improvements and once again we started when she had just turned 13 through the summer when she had just turned 17.
And in the next slide we did very similar to what we did with short course. Other than that anomaly in the second year – the third and the fourth year – especially this past summer has been pretty much according to the approach that whatever she shows as improvement in her shorter races – her 50 and 100 – is probably going to ripple up to her 1500.
Next slide Mike. Once again we did a cumulative progression there which shows a similar slope from the very beginning four years ago until now.
Right now I am going to tell you a little bit about our program. Every year we try to do something a little extra. We try to add a little time here and a little time there or we add something new into our program. We were going to prepare a slide that showed the training – typical week in our training. We are a little limited in our pool by the fact that we have to be out of there by 6:30 in the evening. We are limited in the morning because I found that I can’t really have my top athletes come more than two or three times a week in the mornings because they are going to really struggle in school or get sick. We are fighting a losing battle with that so we have kind of found the ideal program where Kate is actually swimming twice a week in the mornings long course for an hour and a half – 4:45 until 6:15. Then she is swimming an hour and a half on Monday. We use our Monday practice as a recovery type of practice. I throw in a sprint set or let the swimmers develop their own sets if they need to work on their starts and their turns – they will do that. If they want to work on their kicking or their pulling or some more drills they will do that. That is after the weekend so they definitely do need a recovery practice. Tuesday is the hour and half long course practice in the morning and two and a half hour practice in the evenings.
Over the last four years we have gone up to 6,000 meters in the morning and when we have a two and a half hour practice in the evening we will go 9 or 10,000 yards. In high school season – the middle of November until the middle of February – we lose half an hour. So we are going 7-8,000 yards when it shrinks down to two hours. Wednesday is a recovery again and that is an hour and a half practice.
It says two up there, but it is an hour and a half. We have half an hour of dryland before that and we have half an hour of dry land in front of the Monday evening practice. Thursday is the same as Tuesday. Friday is their day off. Saturday we swim two and one half hours in the morning. We usually hit about 10,000. Sunday is three hours and we go anywhere from 13 to 15,000 on Sunday. So you can see why they need recovery on Monday. And Wednesday – we need recovery too.
The quality of the practices has increased as the years have gone by. We are at the point now where we are not really able to increase the quantity of the practices or we would have to add more time. We are a little limited in what we can do. In the Spring we actually picked up an extra long course practice and we switched the mornings to Monday, Wednesday and Friday. But, what happened was – now they are waking up three mornings – when you have meets you lose the Monday – you lose the Friday sometimes and the kids were starting to get sick. So we are just going to keep it as Tuesday and Thursday and let them have their day off on Friday. So, that is what she does.
We are at the point now where we are not able to increase much on that practice schedule so we are just going a little bit more in terms of the quality. If we add another 2 or 3 or 400 yards to a practice – that is insignificant at this point so we added a dry land program – three years ago. We always try to add a little bit more each year. Kate added riding an exercise bike a year ago. I might be jumping ahead of myself a little bit, but what the athletes accomplish is as much what they overcome as what they accomplish when they are feeling healthy. I am referring to the fact that Kate – about two years ago – two springs ago – she jumped in the water for warm-ups in about 7 feet of water and broke a bone in her right foot and broke a toe on her left foot. Because she hit the bottom of the pool streamlined and her feet went underneath her, she was in a cast for a month and a half to two months. She still has tendonitis so we cant do a lot of kicking. We cant use fins. Just when she thinks the tendonitis is cleared up – it comes back again. She has been seeing a therapist on and off for two years now. ‘
Likewise, in 2003 – right after she had made her Olympic trials cuts in our Potomac Valley Senior Champs in the middle of July she started having a really hard time breathing. That was exercise induced asthma. We didn’t know it at the time. It took about a month or a month and a half for her to go through her general pediatrician to a specialist to getting a handle on it. So we are also dealing with that. So a lot of what we do is geared around what she is able to do. That is what their workout schedule is like.
Kate came to us as a sprinter. She had made zones as an 11 year old. She had just turned 12 when she came into our program. She had made zones in the 50 free and – that is a AAA time. The first slide I showed you was when she had AA, A, BB, and B as the distances went up. Kate had a natural six beat kick. Over the last four years we have developed her two beat kick for the distance. Because she has that speed it lends itself very readily to her aggressive style where she is going to go out hard on her races. I actually encourage that in her because she is an athlete with the speed that she can take to the distance. She is going to be just as tired as everybody else at the 700 mark or the 800 so she is not going to have that speed to use at the end of her race so we might as well use it up front. She does swim with a very aggressive style, but she was a natural six beat kick and she is very, very good now at the two beat.
Some of the drills that we are going to show will show you what we do to develop the two beat. Because she started out with the six beat, she also has that ability to do it. She doesn’t always do it in the 100 free. She tries to swim the 100 free where she is trying to do a two beat because she doesn’t think she can make it all the way through a hundred free now doing a six beat kick. So, as a result, she negative splits the hundred freestyle, but she has a fantastic six beat at the end of her races. We discovered these floaties by necessity when she had a cast on her right foot. For six weeks – seven weeks – 8 weeks – she was swimming from flags to flags in the pool. She couldn’t push off the wall because of her broken foot and a broken toe so the cast was just bogging her down big time. It was changing her position in the water. She was dragging.
I didn’t like what was happening with it. We really wanted to find a flume that she could swim in, but that still would not have given her the support that she needed so we discovered the floaties and we blew them up on her cast and brought her right up to the surface. So she swam for about a month and a half with those floaties on her feet and we still use it today in some of our drills. It helps get the feet up. It helps the balance. So she is just swimming normal with the two beat kick with the floaties. The next clip will show that we will also switch it so that we will put two on one leg and none on the other leg to really try to develop the balance and the feel and the asymmetry. She is going to have to work a lot harder to get her left leg up to keep it up – to make it feel like the right leg.
Over the three years that I have worked with Kate we have done a lot of balance – a lot of timing drills – a lot of coordination drills and this is one of the end result. This is a two beat kick, stressing the right side going down and two beat stressing the left side coming back – where she is going to kick down a little bit. This is going to be a two beat going down and six beat coming back – to show you that she can do both and she also has a very strong six beat when she picks it up at the very end of her races. I might also add – we do not have a clip for this, but Kate also has the ability, and I encourage it in all our athletes, to go about as fast if she were concentrating on a low stroke count. Which might be 14 or 15 strokes per length for her and a higher stroke count for her with a faster turnover of 17 strokes per length – she is blessed that she is able to do that. So we wanted to show you the separation there with the two beat balance and how she is also using her hips and roll and body position to get down the pool.
USA Swimming pointed out to me that all Kate has to do is get maybe an inch extra per stroke and she will be down to Janet Evans’ times. An inch per stroke is not much. Now, I am convinced it is not going to come because I am going to teach her to take one less stroke per length or to get a little bit longer on each stroke. I think that inch per stroke is going to come from a little bit more hips – a little bit more shoulders – a little bit more core. She is going to get that inch without having to really concentrate on it,
These drills were developed over three or four years. They were pretty much designed around Kate. One of the things that I have realized over the years is that the athlete’s teach you a lot more than you are going to learn the hard way. Kate has taught me a heck of a lot. I was reading an article the other day in one of the latest magazines about that too. Now we are going to go to a two beat where she emphasizes the right side going down which means she pushes back a little bit harder on the right side and kicks down a little bit harder on the right side and then two beat coming back where she is stressing the left side. Three years ago we started doing this drill. Two years ago we pointed out to Kate that you accelerate your hand also when it gets down by her leg and as a result your hips are going to accelerate and your shoulders are going to accelerate so we are tying in the core – we are tying in the connection.
This is a variation of the Tarzan drill – and then she lowers her face in the water and doesn’t change anything. It teaches a faster rhythm and a faster turnover and teaches high elbows. One of the things that I have done with Kate is to encourage that everything go in a forward direction – the hand comes forward in a forward direction – nothing is going lateral – nothing is going sideways – including the pull under water. She is also doing that with the two beat kick which is very hard, but it gets the rhythm going faster which you almost necessarily need with the two beat. Now, we have started to do a little more straight arm recovery with her on her speed – on her sprints – on her 50 and 100 – to see how that is going to work with her and it is too early to tell. She actually does that drill to help her warm-up for her sprints also.
She is doing a right arm going down – okay – toe tapping flutter kick – we haven’t done that. We are trying to get – speaking of things that we add to our program – the start swim we added two years ago – so we try to do something new and fresh and also extra every year. We will do the dart swim review – we try to do it every month, but by the time we actually review it and meet with the athletes and show them what they did – it becomes every other month.
This one is to keep her feet up on the surface and also develop a faster kick so she is just barely tapping the surface of the water. Kate can’t do more than four or five lengths like that. Then her ankles are going to just be killing her from her tendonitis. So we are limited in the amount of kicking that we can do, but I call that the toe tap flutter kick because it is supposed to be a really high kick. It is a fast kick and it really gets the body – the legs up – it really gets the body position up.
This is right arm going down and she is breathing towards her arm – towards the arm that she is using. We do a lot of this drill. This is a good balance drill for Kate and the rest of our swimmers. It teaches the shoulder rotation – the hip rotation, and the connection in between. Three years ago it was just a skill that you use your right arm and you are breathing towards that arm – you use your right arm and you breathe towards that arm and you try to roll both ways. Two years ago she discovered the connection between the hips and the shoulders and I would say last year she discovered that they accelerate – the connection is there, but they also accelerate – the hips accelerate – the shoulders accelerate as the hand is pushing through so now she is doing the left arm breathing towards. She is going to do a right arm breathing away so the balance is just as important for her. She has discovered that over three years so this is kind of an idea of how her stroke drills have progressed over that length of time.
If you are wondering what was going on, on the other wall, the first race was Kate from World Cup 2004 and this last one was 2005. So, now she is using left arm breathing towards. We use drills throughout all our practices for warm-up, recovery, cool down. The last 50 is going to be a variation where she is using her right arm – breathing every third stroke or every third touch I call it because up front is one – by her leg is two and then the third touch is up front again. Then she will breathe – with the two beat kick and the rotation and the hips accelerating. This also gets us able to isolate one arm and check the elbow position and where her hand is entering the water.
Ooga – booga is the Tarzan variation because with Tarzan you just leave your head up and you swim. Ooga-booga is a little faster Tarzan and you can almost picture her yelling booga-booga. This is with a pull buoy. We have variations on our pull and so we will pull with a two beat – the pull buoy keeps the legs locked in so you have a chance to try and concentrate on having your legs up a little bit higher. When you are pulling with the pull buoy and you are trying to stress the two beat and the balance it also has to be done with a little faster turnover. So, we will do some pulling that way.
We will also do pulling with a pull buoy or with a kickboard between the knees to make sure the hips are rolling both ways and once again, with the kickboard between the knees and the hips rolling both ways. The board has to accelerate as they go from side to side which then shows them that they are accelerating their hips too. I tried to give you an idea of how her drills and her stroke have progressed over the last three years also.
The next one is Progression of Strength and Power: I do not have too much to show on this one because in our dry land we do core. We do Pilates – we have jumped rope. This year when we went out to Senior Nationals in Irvine we went to Hollywood one of the days that they were not swimming. We saw the performers on the sidewalk doing break dancing. We are going to do a little break dancing this year too. They are kind of looking forward to that. That will be a little coordination and a little bit of variety, but we don’t do traditional strength and power through weights or the weight room or anything like that. First of all she has only been in the situation now for the last year or year and a half because she is still growing. So maybe she is not even there yet – where her joints have stopped growing and forming so – I haven’t done weights with her.
I told Kate – you are going to get stronger if you use the large paddles when you swim on 100’s and 200’s because we don’t do paddles either for long sets. We do not do pull buoys for long sets. We don’t do drag suits and pile on all the equipment for long sets because her shoulders tend to get a little tired – a little sore and I have never. I believe in the recovery. We have been able to train Kate where she has been able to recover within a day or a day and a half because we are trying for the quality in the practices so she has a choice of whether she uses the paddles and the pull buoy or not. If her shoulders are too sore she is not going to do that so we haven’t done strength training – except for core strength.
What you see on this next slide is basically her improvement in three years. When she went out to Colorado Springs for the national select camp three years ago – four years ago they tested her. They put her on like almost like hooked a fish scale up to her and had her pull and that measured her strength. Then, they had her kick – hooked up to that scale again and then they had her swim. They did this again at the University of Maryland for World Champs – the training camp or the pre-camp where they assembled and they were there for three and a half days before they went up to Montreal this summer. They did the same tests. First strength in water – full swimming went up from a measure of 10 to 28, so it almost tripled in three years. Her kicking strength went up from 6.5 to 14 ½ so it went up about 250% and her pulling strength went up from 8.6 to 22.8 which is about 2 ½ or 250%.
It was not because of the dry land, besides – I showed you – we only have half an hour on Monday and Wednesday of dry land. It wasn’t because of a lot of pulling in practice because we don’t. it wasn’t because of a lot of kicking because of her tendonitis and she can’t kick a lot with fins either. It might have been because of the therapy that she has done because she has seen – off and on she has seen a therapist now for two years. She graduates after about six weeks and then six weeks later she is back again and then the therapist says, “you graduated – you are done – you are fine.” And six weeks later she is back again so, off and on she has been with the therapist now for two years. It might be because of the cycling which she has done for a year now, but it is really mainly swimming specific. And because she is growing and getting stronger as she is getting older. So, once again, I didn’t have much to say about that – it is just a natural progression of her strength and power.
I think that the experiences and the background and the preparation that the swimmers go through is very, very important. I am a firm believer that they do everything that they possibly can. Kate has gone to every regional distance camp that she has been able to go to. She went to four as an athlete and then this last year she went to the one in Annapolis as the national athlete and that was really nice – to be able to go full circle and be at one of those and be the athlete that everybody else listens to. She has gained a lot from each one that she has been to. She went to one with Brooke Bennett. She went to one with Diana Munz so she has gained from each one that she has gone to. The progression of meets and experience will reflect that.
She started out – eastern zones her first summer in 2001. She had the thought in her mind that first of all – She had just turned 13 and she had been to zones before – only in the 50 free. I think when she was 10 she went there for the 50 free and the 50 fly so this was quite a big jump for her because she had all the freestyle events as a young 13 and this was kind of like the icing on the cake for her. Because when she joined our top group in the springtime I said, “Kate – you know you are going to be making zones this summer in the distance events.” She didn’t believe it at first. But it is one of those things where you see yourself improving. If you are 5 seconds away from the time in the 500 free. Then all of a sudden you think you can do it and nothing has really changed from you were 15 seconds away – just because you are closer – all of a sudden you start believing you can do it. So she went to eastern zones and went a 4:38 in her 400 free – 10:05 in her 800 and 17:58 in her 1,500. That was her first – probably her first experience in a big meet – in terms of the distance.
In spring of 2002 – she went to her first senior nationals – had the flu. If Northwest had let us change our flight to be three days later – we would have, but we couldn’t so we had to go out to Minnesota. She was lying down on the floor in the airport with chills and a fever. She couldn’t swim her first event which was the 800 on Tuesday night I think it was. She had an off day on Wednesday. Thursday she swam her 200 – barely made it through. Friday she swam her 400 – barely made it through that and Saturday she swam the 1,500 so she did not have a very good experience at her first senior nationals; however, they were best times for long course. Because she had improved that much over the course of the winter she came back a little bit fired up from that.
Summer Nationals in Ft. Lauderdale was the one that she was going to be healthy for, for the first time. Because she was sick in the springtime this was the one where the expectations were there, and she did not handle it very well the first time. Kate is kind of like the swimmer who has to do something once or twice before she feels comfortable doing it.
Well, at least she used to be like that because at World Champs this year was a complete reversal for her. She was able to discover that in the middle of a meet. Her first event in the 1500 prelims was not a very good swim at all. She just managed to turn around completely and swim at the next level – the next night. So anyway, Ft. Lauderdale was an okay meet for her. She was pretty close to her best times, but it was not what she really wanted to do.
National select camp – she went to that one. That was a great experience for her – to be out at the camp – to be told that you are the future of USA Swimming. One or two swimmers from each of these camps go on to make the national junior team – goes on to make the Olympics – she really enjoyed hearing that.
World Cup on Long Island – we have been fortunate to have it there for three years in a row and this year I think will be the fourth year. She had done the World Cup 2002 in December, so that would have been 2002 – 2003 winter season. She did a February of 2004. She did February of 2005 and she is going to do it again this year. I cannot say enough about the World Cup. I hope USA Swimming never gets rid of having it on American soil. It is a tremendous experience. It was her first time – swimming against international competition. She also realized at that meet – a lot of the athletes do not realize it until they get up to the higher levels – but she also realized at that meet that once you are at that level you really have it made. Warm-ups start at 9. The meet starts at 10 and it is over by 11. There might be two or three heats of everything – all you have to do is do your time and you make it back to finals. If you do better than your time you are probably going to improve 10 or 12 places. It is really geared for top level swimmers. The same as some of the world champ selection meets or Olympic trials or something like that. Most of the swimmers do not realize that until they get there.
So she had a taste of that and she really wanted it bad ever since then. She wanted to be back for it, she wanted to be getting a medal. She wanted to be doing really well so at her first world cup she was 14th in her 400 free short course meters and 8:37.99.
Next – the US Open – she did that the first year. That was in Minnesota again and she did best times. She managed to place 8th in the 800 free. Once again, she was beset with some problems. We took her down to the emergency room in Minnesota in Minneapolis because she had smacked arms with somebody warming up so she couldn’t swim her 200 free at that meet. But the good thing about that was when they took an x-ray they said, “well coach, her growth plates are still wide open. She is going to grow like crazy.” She didn’t want to hear that because she was 5’ 9” at the time. She is probably 6’ and her boyfriend is about 5’ 8” or 5’ 9” so she didn’t want to hear that, but I was very happy. That was one of the good things that came out of that.
You will notice that at that meet she had made her Olympic trials cuts about two weeks previous to that. She had just had asthma and she was having a real hard time breathing. It was the first time that she had ever had it and she wasn’t on any medication at that time because it was too new. It just reared its head. She did well enough though to make the national junior team from that meet and she actually scored points for the first time at a senior national level.
The junior team trip to Australia: now, she went to that meet and she did best times in pretty interesting circumstances. Circles – swim reverse in Australia so instead of swimming counter clockwise – they swim clockwise – very crowded conditions. They had age groupers there – 10 and unders, 11-12’s and 13-14’s and she still managed to do best times. That was January of that year. After she came back we sat down and we said, Kate – you know – we think it is going to take 8:30 – this is the way Kate and I set goals too. It has evolved over the years. Goal setting her first year was mainly time oriented. I asked, “well – what kind of times would you like to do?” And she looked – researched AAA times, AAAA times and she said. “well, I would like to have AAAA times in my 50 and my 100 and maybe A or AA times in my 500 free.” I then said “well, then if you improve your 50 and your 100 free that much – you should be a lot faster in your 500 free. Lets try to make it AAA all the way across”
Her first year was mainly time oriented and as the years have gone by the goal setting has gotten a lot more sophisticated. The last time we sat down, at the beginning of last year, was a four year plan and we must have talked for 45 or 50 minutes. I mean, there were all kinds of intermediate goals – mid-term goals – long-term goals – she had a whole bunch of goals. Now, I am getting ahead of myself here a little bit, but we might not have to get to the last couple of slides anyway. Her goal setting process has gone from just focusing on one goal to actually looking beyond that goal and already knowing what it is going to be.
When she went to zones that first summer she wanted to do well at zones. She had a shot at some of the zone records so she thought it would be really nice to get some zone records, but she also went to that zone thinking US Open Cup. Then she also knew how close the US Open was to Senior National cuts so she was actually looking ahead or she knew two steps ahead or two steps beyond her immediate goal. She wasn’t looking ahead because she would have fallen into the trap that a lot of swimmers do when they are looking too far down the road. They are not focused on what they need to do right away to take care of it, but she knew immediately what the next two steps would be so she didn’t get her US Open cuts. She didn’t set any zone records, but after that meet she still kept the US Open cut goal in mind and she got her US Open cuts in a general meet that Potomac Valley has in October. As soon as she got those cuts she said, “I am going to make my Senior National cuts next”. She didn’t sit on that level too long. She didn’t sit She knew immediately what her next set was going to be and when she reset her goals for Senior Nationals she also knew the next two steps. So she was prepared to reset her goals as soon as she got them and I think that she learned a lot.
Well, last year when we did our four year planning, there must have been 35 or 40 goals that we talked about. High school goals – practice goals – meet goals – world champ goals – things like that. So, after she came back from Australia, we said “where are you in terms of the overall scheme?” She said, “what do you mean coach?” I said, “You know, Olympic trials are going to be in July – that is six or seven months from now. I think it is going to take an 8:30 if you are physically capable of going 8:30 in the 800 free. Then if you have one of these ‘out-of-body’ experiences and you have just a fantastic swim you are going to be faster than that. If you are physically capable of going 4:10 then you are going to be faster than that if conditions are right and you have a once in a lifetime swim inside of you.” So we looked and saw 8:51 or 8:46 – 8:42 – yeah – 8:42 in Australia and 8:30. So I said “Okay – let’s try the 8:36 in a couple of months at our sectional meet which was long course that year. You are 4:16 – let’s try to be 4:13 at sectionals at the University of Maryland in three months. So we try to take half of it off and if you are not there, well let’s see how close you can be so that you have three months to get the rest of the time off so the World Cup in 2004” She was hungry now. She was used to that level. She wanted to get a medal and she ended up getting a 2nd or 3rd I think in that meet – 8:24 and 4:07 short course times.
Olympic trials: she did get down to 8:30 and she went 4:11.85. Kate was one of these swimmers up to this point that still had to do things – or I felt, still had to do things a couple of times to get feeling comfortable at that level. So I had tried something different the previous two years. She was swimming really, really well at the beginning of July, at our Potomac Valley Senior Champs – meets that were in Potomac Valley at that time. She got her Olympic trials cut in 2003 at that meet and 2002 she had a breakout swim in the 1500 and the 800 at that meet. So as soon as she did that I really increased her work level and really didn’t care how she swam two weeks later because she had already accomplished what I thought she could accomplish. I didn’t tell her that I was doing this. I just wanted to see how she would handle it.
At sectionals, which was the week after our Senior Champs, after she had made her Olympic trials she was there for 2 and ½ hours doing a practice before her warm-up. Needless to say, her 1500 was not very good that night. But in 2004, that is when I told Kate, “Look – you have always swum well in the beginning and middle of July – we have done this for a reason.” We didn’t wait until the end of July and beginning of August to swim your best. Guess when Olympic trials are – the beginning of July. So that gave her the confidence that she was going to swim really well at the beginning of July.
Also, at Olympic trials, I decided I was going to try to be more nervous than she was because – she was pretty calm. We had done preparation for this. We had everybody I could think of come in and talk to her about Olympic trials. Coaches who had been there and swimmers from Potomac Valley who had been there talked to her. I read articles to her about Olympic Trials – we just discussed this– what can happen. So I figured she is usually nervous at these meets. I am going to be a little bit more nervous than she is and it worked. She said, “You know coach – you don’t have to be nervous – I will take care of things. Don’t be nervous.” She was actually settling me down and that took her mind off of her being nervous so that was a gamble that paid off really well at Olympic Trials.
Stanford summer nationals 2004: that was a month after Olympic Trials – we could have just kind of said okay, you had a great Olympic Trials – let’s just train the rest of the summer and not do senior nationals. But once again I was trying to get her as much experience at meets in different circumstances as possible. So I said, “No, Kate you know you have got to learn how to swim well again three or four weeks after you swam really well. You can go to senior nationals this summer and get your first couple of national titles.” That experience was worth something so she kept going and she did get her first two national titles at 2004 at Stanford.
Short course World Champs in Indiana – that was a great experience for her too. Fortunately, a couple of slots opened up in the 800 free so she was bumped up to be able to swim it and she was 8:20 – got a silver medal at that meet and came away from that meet determined – absolutely determined that she was going to make world champs for Montreal because she really liked being there.
World Cup in 2005: Now, building on the previous two World Cups, Kate was expecting big things for this and this was one of her goals for the year was to get the American record in the 800 free which she did. The 8:16 that she did and she also got a 4:05 in her 400. So Kate was starting to really believe and feel that she belonged on an international level and once again. I hope that USA Swimming never decides to not support the World Cup in the United States.
World Champs at trials in Indiana: Kate had come off a really long spring season with a lot of short course swimming in high school. She didn’t swim as well as she had wanted to swim in Indianapolis – once again – it was nerves – trying to make the team. She doesn’t respond too well when she thinks that she is the favorite. So she was having a hard time coping with that and she did make the team in the 800. Fortunately she was also able to swim the 1500 in Montreal too – based on her 800.
World Champs at Montreal: Now, this was her – once again – her crowning moment – two golds. That experience came from World Champ trials. She was feeling almost exactly the same as she was in Indianapolis and I was convinced now that it wasn’t really the taper – it wasn’t really physical – it was nerves. She learned how to deal with that. The support that she got from the national team coaches that were there and the support that she got from the athletes that were there helped her turn around completely from prelims when she went I think 16:26 and was seeded 7th in the 1500 to finals when she went 16:00. She learned from that so she was able to turn that around in a day.
I tried all kinds of things with her too, but it was mainly a couple of coaches on the staff that also got through to her. I knew the pressure was weighing her down so I said, “Picture a giant – what is your favorite dog?” And at first she said, “Oh a little schnauzer. I said, “no, no, no – that doesn’t quite fit the picture I had in mind. Pick another one.” So fortunately she said St. Bernard. I said, “Okay, now picture a huge, huge, huge St. Bernard with the wine cask underneath his chin in the Swiss Alps. He is going to rescue people and he is on top of you. Now look up, he is where my hand is – now find my hand.” She is looking all over and she looks up. And I say, “Yeah – he is right on top of you – that is all the pressure that you are taking in. The St. Bernard is weighing you down. When you dive in you have got to leave that St. Bernard behind.” Well, that might have helped her a little bit, but I think it was more what the staff said too.
So, the progression of meets and the experience is very, very important. She would not have been able to go 16:00 if she had not had all that experience before it. I think it all started on the right road with the regional distance camps that they had because that gave her a little confidence. She was swimming with Dianna Munz. She was swimming with Brooke Bennett. She was doing all these things.
The last one is Irvine this summer and once again, it would have been easy to say, okay – you are toast – you are pretty tired – lets skip it. But she gained a lot of experience once again from doing Irvine. Basically, I said. “You know how are you going to handle this after Olympic Trials to come back and swim Olympics if you make the team.” Because Olympic Trials is a pressure cooker. It is probably the biggest meet that there is. The competition is really fast. So how are you going to come back and swim the Olympics after you do Olympic Trials? You have got to get used to this. You have got to get used to feeling a little down and swimming through it so she did, and she responded.
She showed me, even though she did not do her best times. I think that her 400 free was one of the best races that she has ever done because of how tough she was and what she showed in that race.
So – that is that – we will whip through the next couple of slides real quick. I think technical progressions are next. We added Dart Swim two years ago – that has been a very invaluable tool. USA Swimming tests on the national level, the lactate testing that they do for the athletes made us more sophisticated and refined in our cool downs. We had Kate lactate tested as much as possible at the camp at the University of Maryland. For three and one half days before World Champs to try and figure out what was going on. It is just invaluable – the strength testing that they did was invaluable because it convinced me we are on the right path with her. Race analysis that USA Swimming provided – at the meets – is invaluable. Stroke count – turn times – things like that and this is kind of like the teaser at the 11 o’clock news where they save the best news item for last. The training progressions is going into a lot of depth this afternoon so that is about all I had to say.
I guess I could maybe answer – because I do not think the next talk starts until 10? So I guess I could go over a little bit. Okay, so – questions?
Q. How was her growth throughout those years?
A. Steady. No steady. She developed late. She went through puberty late – a couple of years late – instead of 12 it was probably 14 or 15 and it was not because of swimming, she was just a late developer because she is still growing so she didn’t stop at 14 or 15. She is still growing. She doesn’t want to admit it. If you say, how tall are you – she would rather say 5’ 12 ½” rather than 6’ ½”, but she is growing.
Q. You mentioned that some of her goals – you felt there was a drop out after …………. Did she swim high school and train with you at the high school?
A. Oh yes – Virginia swimming – she goes to private school – their high school program – she just does the meets. They have an hour in the morning and the coach would rather not have the US athletes there because he has a chance to work with the others. So she just goes to meets – six or seven meets a year. It is from November to February so it is a winter season and there isn’t much conflict with the high schools. When she has a meet it is on a Thursday night usually so she will actually come to our practice for about 45 minutes or an hour and then go to her meet.
A. Every year we have done – training? That has grown. It has grown. We do everything – sprint – middle distance – distance – negative split – descend – all kinds of things from Day 1 to the end. Would she change the goal? Oh, as soon as she got the one line in front of her. I changed my expectations like we have what we call cruise which is 3.5 seconds over her 1650 pace and in the middle of the year that is what we will expect her to be doing on long sets – at the beginning of descend sets she will want to start out at cruise. So if she takes 8 seconds off her 1650 then her cruise gets adjusted down accordingly.
Q. Is there any reason for Friday off?
A. I had to give her a day off. We have more time – well, Friday is a nice social day. We have more time then because we have 2 ½ hours on Saturday and we have 3 hours on Sunday. So it is – we kind of put it on the weekend, so Friday off.
Q. So then your recovery days? The normal distance doesn’t change too much – it is just the emphasis?
A. Well, in an hour and a half we are going to be doing less because – yeah – only an hour and a half on Monday and Wednesday so we will probably do 6,000, but on Tuesday and Thursday you know we are doing 6,000 in the morning and 10,000 at night so we are doing about 16-17,000. So you know she is going to go maybe 5 or 6,000 and that the emphasis on what we do also changes a little bit. We might do a little more sprint. We might do some specialty – some buildups – it changes a little bit, okay? Any others?
Q. Could you tell us why you changed the kick?……………………
A. why did I change from a six to a two beat with her? We just had a lot of two beat drills that a lot of the other swimmers were doing and I didn’t feel that she could go six beat all the way through on a 500 or 1000 or a 1650 and be as aggressive as she is because the legs would go almost immediately. Then she would go a slower turn over and then she would die at the end of her races. So the two beat seemed very natural. She didn’t pick it up right away. It took her about half a year or nine months and then she got really good at the two beat and all of a sudden it just clicked. I have a guy in the program that does six beat all the way through on a 1650 – Alex Anderson – he will kick six beat all the way through. I am not going to change that and have him do two beat, although he does do some of the two beat drills. It just helps. It just helps him discover his hips and his shoulder rotations and maybe a little faster rhythm, but he is going to race six beat until he is 85 years old.
Q. What is her stroke rate? A. She is doing about 17 – 16 or 17 – well that was long course or that was short course meters so she was probably doing 17 or 18 strokes per length. We are really not into the 16 or 17 for yards you know? I don’t concentrate on that. It comes natural to her. She can do – I can tell her – we will do a set where we will do ten 50’s long course – every time you go down you do one less stroke – same time – every time you come back you take – you are one second faster with the same stroke count. So going down you take a second off your time and coming back you take one stroke less and she is swimming just as fast at the end with fewer strokes as she is in the beginning with more strokes. I mean – she can – she does in practice – she will be doing hundreds and she will be going 59+’s or minutes. She will do it with 16 – 17 strokes. I will say “Okay, lets stretch this one out and she will be going 14 so I really don’t concentrate too much on the stroke count as I am just on the rhythm. You know, it is a feel. Sometimes when I can tell that she is moving her arms just a little too slow and she is just not moving I will say “pick it up a little bit” – she will pick up her tempo and then she will be a little bit quicker.
Q. Stroke rate? Like 74 strokes ………….?
A. I don’t dwell on that. USA Swimming provided us all kinds of information on that – from the race analysis and I will share that with you when we are done. You can borrow it and return it to me this afternoon, but it is nothing that we really focus on to change.
Q. Did you notice that between 15 to 16 years old – where things changed?
A. long course especially. We felt between 15 and 16 she had a pretty big improvement in the winter time too. She just missed Janet Evans’s American record in the 1000 free on a foot touch going out on a 1650 by 2/100 of a second and she said, “Well why didn’t you tell me that?” How am I going to tell you that in the middle of your race? You were going for the national age group record in the 1000 and the 1650 – I mean, if you had touched what would that have done to the rest of your race? So she had a pretty big drop that winter and her summer. If you converted her times from the winter to the summer – they were about the same, but she did have a pretty big improvement. That might have been because she started riding an exercise bike because I was afraid of her upper legs getting a little heavier – especially because I felt she was starting to slow down in her growth.
That was also because everything clicked for her this year – even though she had her bouts of asthma and there were days when she couldn’t breathe and had bad practices. Basically, compared to the previous year, she was on medication and things were under control pretty good. She had learned how to deal with that. Her foot was feeling a little bit better – even though she still had tendonitis. She had a pretty solid base there. A lot of it was because she knew she was at a higher level now so she knew that she belonged at that higher level. We did put a little more emphasis in the speed. Jon Urbanchek visited us and we did a couple of more rainbow sets in our program which we hadn’t been doing before. But we had been doing a lot of very similar stuff and the summer we came up with some speed sets for her to try and get some speed into her races and that just rippled all the way up. But, you know – I wouldn’t say any one thing and I don’t think it was a real focus in a big way.
Q. Is she still doing the same number of sessions?
A. Yeah, I was misquoted in an article in the paper and they turned it around and said school gets in the way, but basically I was saying to them that we cant do more than twice a week in the mornings before school – 4:45 to 6:15 and then expect the kids to go to school and stay awake and do well in school. If we go three or four days in the morning before school – the kids are going to get sick and then their training is going to suffer too so we are kind of limited to what we are doing. Besides, if we do more than 10,000 on a Tuesday or Thursday afternoon – because we could crank it up to 10.5 or 11,000 if we wanted to, but that is not that significant of a change. But if we start dwelling on that then her shoulders are going to start getting sore and she is going to start breaking down so we just picked up the quality has every year. We build year to year and that is what we will be talking about in the afternoon.
Q. I have a question about the drills – we do that …………..right?
A. Well you know we are not – we have never approached that drill in terms of the kick. She just does what comes naturally. That drill is going to be a hard drill to do because we are telling her to take her time and think about your hand placement, you know – right in front of your shoulder – not in front of you – high elbow – reach over the surface of the water – use your shoulders to reach – anchor that hand and then use your whole body to pull beyond. So, we are not really trying to get a fast turnover going so that is a whole different approach to it so it is hard to do a two beat when you have a slow turnover so that is why sometimes you saw her switch into a six beat, but we are more into the rotation and the core and just anchoring that hand and pulling through and placing that hand properly.
Q. Pull that arm?
A. Yeah, you saw it come high out of the water. I think that is just a reaction of the hip really moving and the balance.
Q. At what ratio did you do a six or a two beat drill for her? A. We do a lot of two beat. I am putting more six beat into the end of sets at practice where we are trying to finish the last 50 off with a six beat, but and then the tap is really a six beat drill.
Alright – thank you very much.
2005 VA Speedo Champs
2005 VA Speedo Champs
2005 VA Speedo Champs
2005 US World Championships
2005 US World Championships