Thank you very much, thank you Ira. It feels like a T-shirt, but I’m excited I love free stuff. My mom should have named me Josh “Free stuff” Davis. That’s why I love still being a swimmer, it’s all the free stuff you get. I am excited to share with you today key things that good coaches do. I would like to just have some introductory remarks just so you know me a little bit better.
I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, and I come from a real nice family, two parents. I’m the oldest of four kids. We moved into this new neighborhood when I was about twelve and all of the buddies I had made on the block were big-time on the summer league swim team. I really looked up to them and liked being around them because they were my first friends in this new neighborhood. I saw them enjoying success in the summer league and getting all of the blue ribbons. So, I joined up for the summer league to, and I was getting the yellow and white ribbons, the third and fourth place ribbons, which are nice, you know everybody’s a winner, but I wanted the pretty blue ribbons.
So, when I was thirteen and in the eighth grade, I joined the All-year club for the first time. Unfortunately though, being a novice and not being very good, the coach was half the time spending more time with the better, you know because I was just a skinny little kid whose freestyle and backstroke were okay and butterfly was really terrible and the breaststroke wasn’t even legal. In a way, I kind of understood why he would kind of give me the set and move on to some of the other people who were doing really well. And rumor kind of got around that he suggested that I should switch sports because I would never make it as a swimmer and shouldn’t bother continuing swimming. To make a long story short, instead of switching sports, I switched coaches and everything was fine after that.
The moral of the story is, not to switch coaches, the moral of the story is when I tell kids that, is you know, never let a negative attitude or an obstacle get in your way if you have set a goal or if you have a dream. When I was thirteen I had set a goal and that was to make the junior varsity squad of Winston Churchill High School when I was fourteen as a freshman.
With this new coach, he taught me so many great things, like technique and intensity and nutrition and loyalty and honesty and all of those great things. Sure enough, they began to work and I had immediate success. And sure enough I made it straight past JV to the varsity squad when I was in high school and the rest was history.
I had immediate success. I was the state champion several times over in Texas, realized that the 200 free was my specialty, and got a college scholarship at the end of high school. I went to the University of Texas and had four great years there. I had stayed around for a few more years, and found myself in a position to make the Olympic team. I made the team in the 200 free and the relays and found myself in Atlanta for the Centennial Olympic Games, swimming on the relays, winning the gold medal, putting on our award sweats and standing on the podium, and the announcer over the load speaker saying the United States of America, Olympic Gold Medallists. The four of us in the relay stand up on the podium and the crowd is going crazy, just a deafening roar and were just nudging each other saying dude this is awesome, this is amazing. Because it’s just a stimulation overload, and you realize that you have to soak up every sight, every sound, everything around you because this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.
It keeps getting better though, because as you’re standing there and from beside us over walks the award presenter, and on his tray was the gold medal. And I was one of the first in line to get it, so I’m thinking sweet, here it comes. So he takes the medal off the tray and he places it around my neck and I felt this tug, and that’s a good sign because it means it’s real gold, it’s real heavy. So as we’re standing there with the gold medal, the crowd all of a sudden starts to quiet down in preparation of the anthem.
Half of the time they are trying to remember the words to the National Anthem. But, I knew the words, and as I was singing at the top of my lungs, the first thought that came through my mind was that I felt kind of bad for the other countries beside me, I think it was like Germany and Sweden beside me. But, I realized that you know I felt bad for them because America, we have the best colors for the flag, we’ve got the best flag, we’ve got the best anthem, we’ve got the best crowd, we’ve got the best facilities, we’ve got the best of everything. My second thought was, you know, we really are blessed. We really live in a great country. We have so much opportunity. So much favor and blessing and opportunity, and I never want to take that for granted. At a moment like that, you get very nostalgic and just millions of thoughts run through your mind and you looked back through the past ten years of my life, because I was thirteen when I started swimming and I was twenty-three on that podium. The last ten years just flashed through my mind of all the people that had an impact on my life. Of course, they were teachers who smiled to me and were nice to me and of course my wonderful parents who fed me and took care of me for who now feeds me and takes care of me. But, more than that, and directly involved in that situation there were coaches.
The coaches who had an impact on my life, and I have had so many wonderful coaches throughout the years, specifically in high school and college, were the men I spent the most time around. And being on the national teams, I always get to know and become friends and be coached by many different coaches and Ira was one of them back in ’95.
So that’s what passes through my mind, I am so thankful to all these people that had a positive impact on my life. So what I would like to share with you today is just pull some of those thing that I think coaches have done in the past I guess thirteen years now of my career, and maybe it just gives a different perspective, an athlete’s perspective. Like I just said, much of who we are and what we do, why you do what you do now, is a result of the people who had an impact on your life, our parents, teachers, friends, relatives, ministers, maybe ever God himself has had an impact on your life. But in our experience, probably the people that you spend the most time around and have had really maybe the largest impact on our life is you the coaches, or the people who coached you. So you have a profound impact, you coaches are the role models, the authorities, you’re the father figures, the mother figures. With that potential influence comes a tremendous responsibility, like a parent, and you’ve probably seen me with my kids around the complex these days, and so I’m learning what it’s like to be a parent. Just like you get to know your swimmers pretty well, you’d be surprised how well your swimmers know you.
Parenting and coaching both call for responsibility and tremendous challenges, yet it can be tremendously rewarding. And nothing is as rewarding as seeing an athlete get closer to that potential, seeing an athlete do their best time, seeing them get so excited and find that joy of competition and just fulfilling their desire and fulfilling a goal. I’m at the point in my career now that I don’t know what I get more excited for being on a relay myself and swimming on the relay myself or cheering for a relay and seeing a fellow swimmer reaching his potential and do his very, very best.
Again, the title of my talk is ‘Key Things Good Coaches Do’. You’ll notice there’s a couple of themes throughout that sort of stand out. One is balance. Balance in philosophy, balance in lifestyle. The other is character for integrity. Balance and character, those themes will emerge. My coach right now is Eddie Reese. He has been my coach, this will be our tenth year working together. I’m one of the few pro-athletes, national team athletes who can say they have had the same coach for ten years, and I think that’s a credit to Eddie and the Texas program. One of his favorite quotes of mine is “There’s a reason live and give are just one letter apart. There’s a reason live and give are just one letter apart.” I think what he is trying to say is that it’s age-old wisdom that giving of yourself is closely tied to having a fulfilling life. And I know as a coach that you don’t do it necessarily for the money and you know how much you give, and how much sacrifice you make. But I think we can use the word give and make it a positive word, a good word, it’s a good thing. We achieve fulfillment and satisfaction when we know we have given of ourselves for the betterment of a swimmer. And so that’s going to be the acronym of my talk G-I-V-E. And I am just going to use those letters to talk about four principles that I think are important.
G in give stands for gather information. You’ve got to gather information, you’ve got to learn, you’ve got to study, you’ve got to read and that’s probably why you’re here at the ASCA coaches convention is to buy some books, hear some lectures, learn something new, gather some more information so that you be better at what you do. It’s easier to become a great coach than to stay a great coach, because when you’re on the way up, you’ve got this desire, this energy to study and to learn and there’s just something extra, you dig a little deeper. And then when you’ve had some success for many years, sometimes it’s tougher to get that motivation, to get that desire to want to read another book or to hear another lecture. You know, but there’s always something out there that you can use and most of the time we have to be reminded of stuff we’ve learned before. And of course I want to mention again that I think this convention is a good investment of your time and money. So not only do you need to gather information for yourself, I think it’s good to pass it on. It’s okay to pass it on.
My coach in high school was a man named Jim Yates, and we had a real nice system in my high school in Texas. The UIL allows you to train with your club or high school program, so, I train with the high school team in the morning for an hour and a half and then I would train with the club team in the afternoon for an hour and a half. And my club coach, Jim Yates, and my high school coach a man named Al Marks, they both talk on the phone regularly. Almost weekly, and they really coordinated the season well together, and they knew which meet was important, whether it was a USS meet or a high school dual meet. And they both knew that the Texas state high school meet for our high schools was the most important, because in Texas that’s a big meet. And we always balanced it out really nice. But Jim would always pass information on to me about technique, and I think what set us apart, me and some other guys on our high school team, was he went the extra mile and realized that we were ready for some more information.
For example, he gave us information on nutrition and massage and visualization and mental techniques so we could be mentally stronger and more mentally ready when the meet came. And we experimented with positive visualization a couple of times a month on deck. I think those are little things, and some kids may not be ready for it, but I think a lot are. And I think if you give it to them, and you know of course we were joking and cracking up most of the time, so you know as a coach it looks like nothing is sticking, but I know it stuck for me. A lot of us really carried those things into our collegiate swimming and now pro-swimming.
As of lately, I think someone who has a lot of information that I have enjoyed working with that maybe you have worked with too, is Bill Boomer. And listening to talks like Richard Quick’s talk and listening to some of the stuff that’s going on out by the poolside. There’s just always something you can take, something that you may have never heard said that way or presented that way, so gather information.
The I is for individual success. Individual success, now I’m talking about you as an individual, not the team, not the team goals, not a particular swimmer, I’m talking about you, you as an individual, your personal life. Vince Lombardi said that “The quality of any man’s life has got to be full measure of that man’s personal commitment to excellence.” You’ve got to be personally committed to excellence in your own life, not just on the pool deck but outside the deck, at home, in your family life. You’ve got to pursue excellence, not just in your vocation, but in your relationships with your spouse or whomever you’re living with, family and friends. And basically it just boils down to integrity and character. Like I mentioned before, you’d be surprised at how well your swimmers know the real you. So I want to balance the Vince Lombardi statement with another statement, “No one on their death bed wished they had spent more on the pool deck.” Now you all know the real phrase, “No one on their death bed wished they had spent more time at the office.” Coaches know that, that’s probably why you’re a coach, you don’t want to be in an office. As important as it is to be on the pool deck and to spend a lot of time with your swimmers, I think you can find a balance of spending time in your vocation and investing in your family and in yourself as well.
I realize as a parent that I have to be more disciplined than my children. If I want to teach them to go to bed on time and sleep through the night and eat three times a day, I myself have to do those very things to initiate that discipline and so the same thing goes for a coach. They have to be a step above the swimmers and sometimes that’s just showing up ten minutes early, just to see that you’re there. All of the coaches that I have known have done that very well. And as I get older in swimming at twenty-seven now, that’s one thing that keeps me motivated, I know that Eddie Reese and Chris Cubic are going to be there ten minutes early, ready to send the guys off. That’s their job and yet swimming is my job as so I should be able to show up ten minutes early as well, so that motivates me.
I just got done reading an interesting book. It’s called “The Twenty-one Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” by John Maxwell. He has written a bunch of stuff on leadership and of course as coaches you are leaders. One of the laws was the law of respect and basically is just talks about that people naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves. Your swimmers are going to naturally follow you when you are a little bit more disciplined, a little bit stronger, a little bit more… have more character.
A related law is the law of inner circle and this says a leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him. I think who you have as your assistants and who is on staff really can determine the success of your program. I know that I have tremendous respect for Dave Marsh at Auburn, and they have been very successful at winning two of the last three collegiate titles, and Dave is a great coach and I really have enjoyed working with him. But a lot of people forget who he has as assistants. He has some of the best assistant coaches in the country who are soon to be head coaches themselves. I know Frank Bush at Arizona has an incredible assistant coaching staff and in my opinion Chris Cubic, at the University of Texas, he has been an assistant there for many years, in my opinion he is one of the best coaches on the world. He just loves being an assistant at Texas. He could probably be a head coach at a lot of places.
That’s related to another law, the law of empowerment. A secure leader gives power to others. They are not afraid to delegate, they are secure with themselves and secure in their decision with their assistants and they let them delegate. I think over what I am saying is that I think these little decisions will help you achieve individual success in balancing your vocation with your family life and your own individual pursuits.
The V is for vision. Coaches create a vision for their athlete, a positive vision. Everything you do has got to be positive. Now part of your job is to be critical, or to critique, to show them how they can be better. I am so convinced that there is a way to do that positively. I am convinced that there is a way to critique with a smile, you have heard the sandwich theory, always sandwich your critique in between two positives. That’s the thing that drives me nuts about some commentating these days in mass media about sports is they are trying to focus on the negative, trying to make someone cry, trying to make someone upset, they are focusing on the negative. I am convinced there is a way to show how maybe something could have been done better, yet never lose sight that that is a human being who has tremendous worth and value and in many cases is extremely fragile.
So you’ve got to have a positive vision. I am very fortunate with Eddie Reese, he is the consummate optimist. Every meet he is expecting the very, very best and I have gotten used to Eddie. It’s kind of funny, I have been with him for ten years now, and if he shakes my hand that means it was an awesome swim, if he says that was good then it was a pretty good swim, and if he does not say anything then it was a really good swim as well, so there’s a progression I have gotten used to. Normally, it’s like, you know, you could have done this a little bit better, and he doesn’t say this in a mean way he just gets to the point. Usually when I had broken a record and done a season best time and he says well you can do this a little bit better. Then when I do a best time or win a big meet, he shakes my hand and smiles and says that was pretty good. So I know what that means from him, and so I interpret what he is communicating correctly. Sometimes we need more, we need some more feedback, we need some more smiles, and we need some more positive statements said around us.
I was going through a tough time in the spring of ’95. I had just gotten engaged, and I had just gotten off scholarship, so I had to get a job and I was working full-time, going to school full-time, training full-time for hopefully ’96 and just got engaged. So I was spread very thin and emotionally under some duress, some was good stress and some was bad stress, and I was under a lot of it and wasn’t swimming very well. Sean Jordan came up to me, and Sean coaches the masters at Austin, and he pulled me aside and it was just two sentences he said to me. He says you know you are one of the best 200 freestylers if not the best in the country, and you are going to make that Olympic team. You’ve got to do it, go do it. Something like that, just a couple of sentences, it took about thirty seconds out of his life, but I lived off of that positive statement for months. That gave me the motivation, the desire to stick with it, to keep going. And so never underestimate the power of a positive word.
I have been encouraged lately, some of you may not know this, Eddie Reese’s brother Randy Reese, has been out of coaching for ten years and now he’s coaching again, I don’t know if that’s a secret, I don’t know if I am supposed to tell that or not. He’s moved to Austin, and he’s taken one of the outdoor Olympic pools, and he started up a club. It was real neat, when I got back from Australia two weeks ago, Eddie calls me up, and this was so nice of Eddie, and he says I want you to start working out with Randy. Because Randy has been out of sports for ten years, and I have a feeling that he thought the freestyle or all of the swimming would have progressed further than it has. So he has all of these ideas and all of these visions outside of the box in a way because he has been out of it for so long and he thinks we should be going so much faster. I was talking with him the other morning at morning workout and he says, we were talking about how fast the Australians win going 146 and how amazing it was, I was right next to them and they just went right by me at the last fifty, and he was like “Well, you know, that’s good and all, but I don’t understand why nobody hasn’t gone 143 yet.” My jaw just dropped and I said “Are you crazy? Do you know how fast 143 in fifty meters is.” You’ve got to go out in fifty-one and come back in fifty-two, and it’s impossible, right, well, maybe not.
Just to be around him and hear him talk like that and to see him believe in it you start believing it too. And I was like yeah, let’s try it, let’s do some crazy stuff, let’s do some crazy Randy Reese sets and why not try it. So, I don’t know if he believes it, but I believe he believes it, so I start believing it too. That’s what successful communication and successful leadership is all about, creating a vision, communicating that vision.
Coaches always hear about communication. You’ve got to communicate with your athletes, make sure your point is getting across. Part of that is goal setting, and I would like to tell you a little story about goal setting. The end of my sophomore year in high school, when our high school coach Al Marks came up to us and he copied a page out of Swimming World magazine that had the top times in the 400 freestyle relay for that year and of course on top in bold was the record, it think it was 302.61. That’s pretty good for high school, public school, for in their free time. He highlighted it and gave us the sheet of paper and he says, “Next year we are going to break that record. I want you to take this piece of paper and put it up in your bathroom or your locker and think about that this summer and think about that next fall. Then next spring we are going to break that record.”
That was the first time that I had ever really set a goal like that, or had it up where I could see it. Sure enough, come the next spring, in the preliminaries, we had our relay ready, and we went 302.81, we missed it by two-tenths. So in finals the next day, we had another shot. We went 302.41, we broke it by two-tenths. We broke the record and it still stands today…back in 1989 we did that record and it still stands. The private school record’s faster, but the public school record still stands. I love that story because it just instilled in me the importance of goal setting. So, I don’t want you to just have a vision for fast swimmers and create visions for fast swimmers. I ‘d like you to broaden it and enlarge it that you produce great people. Have a vision that is larger and broader than just being the first person to touch the wall. It’s not just what they can be physically, it’s what they can be emotionally and intellectually and spiritually.
I have been very fortunate to be involved with athletes in action and fellowship of Christian athletes. There are Christian sports ministries specifically to meet the unique needs of athletes and apply Christian principles, biblical principles to their sport and to life. Craig Hareman the AIA coach has really been invaluable in my past ten years of being able to do these things, and to learn and to grow spiritually, to grow emotionally, and to grow relationally. We all know the benefits of being on a team and having friends for life in swimming and the positive influence coaches have had on us. I think it is good and okay to encourage people spiritually, to encourage them relationally, to give them direction, to give them honest answers about life and honest what works. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what works and what doesn’t. A lot of things athletes do don’t work, if they start experimenting with drugs and alcohol and premarital sex, we know those things don’t work. It’s okay to give them honest advice and warn them that probably isn’t going to work, here’s some things that might.
So the I is for individual success, wait I already did the I, V we’re on V, were on E now. Explore and experiment. That’s one of the fun things about coming to these conventions, hearing new things. I can’t wait to try these out with the kids, and you’re imagining how it’s going to work out and you can imaging the kids doing all of these great new things and seeing times just drop like crazy. And that is good, it is good to explore and experiment. In college we experimented with climbing ropes and doing ramps and that is when we took a two-by-four with wheels on either end and we put them on our knees and we would climb up the ramps underneath the stadium with just our hands, and then we would run back down and then go over and climb some ropes with just our hands. Some crazy stuff, yeah, it hurt pretty good. Then we did stadium hops, we would hop up the stadium, and then run down and then hop back up. We experimented with straight-arm freestyle. I experimented with that I think last fall, and I think I learned some things about my stroke and learned some things about feel.
I am experimenting right now with butterfly kick off every freestyle turn. I think Bob Gillette has talked about that, and I think Richard may have mentioned that. That is something I am excited to experiment about. Many of us have experimented with track starts and that has proven successful. So there are so many things we can do. I found a neat quote the other day by a man named Chuck Knox “Conservative coaches have one thing in common, they are all unemployed.” So don’t be too conservative, it’s okay to explore and experiment and try new things. I would like to balance that statement with “The road to success would have more travelers if so many weren’t lost trying to find shortcuts.” We’re not looking for shortcuts, we’re looking for something different. Cutting edge doesn’t mean easier or shorter, it just may mean different. It may mean more efficient or more advanced. So Exploring and experimenting aren’t shortcuts, I don’t believe in shortcuts.
USA prides themselves on battling drugs and battling for a drug-free sport. I really believe there’s something to say for the old-fashioned way of earning it of training distance. I trained in the distance lane with the distance swimmers, and I lift weights with the swimmers. I don’t think there are any shortcuts. When you do have success as a coach, with that worldly success is the temptation for pride or an ego and talent is God given so we need to be thankful. Fame is man-given, so you need to be humble. Conceit is self-given so be careful. People can tell the difference between when you mean business and you are going somewhere and you’re serious and you mean business and you can’t talk right there and they know the difference between that and when you don’t want to talk to them because you assume they don’t have anything to offer you or you have moved up in the ranks. Just be careful of that when you do have success.
So G-I-V-E gathering information, individual success, create a vision, a positive vision for the athlete and go ahead and explore and experiment. Even though this isn’t on the acronym, I wanted to talk about a few things, discernment and consistency. Discernment, I think obviously as a grown human being you must want to be a discerning human being, and you want to have discernment. But specifically to your role as a coach I would encourage you to discern between the athlete and the performance, and I touched on that earlier with vision. That can be hard. We get involved emotionally, and we get wrapped up in the emotion or the expectation and as soon as the swimmer comes to us after a bad swim we get a little bit blurry, and we don’t react how we would like and we confuse and we don’t separate the athlete from the performance. You just want to be very careful of doing that and never equating that person’s worth or that person’s value with their performance.
That is one thing that I try to do in chapel, and I try to encourage in my talks to the youth, don’t buy into the lie, the worth of your value is not equal to your performance in the pool or the number next to your name on the score board. Our society bombards you with that message, with that lie. Don’t buy into it. So as coaches we don’t want to encourage that. The original purpose of sport is not to gain glory and to gather medals and trophies. The original purpose of sport was a tool, a training cell to develop character. Swimming is a wonderful microcosm of life. Within a few moments, a few hours, you have highs lows, fears, confidence, elation sadness all right there. You experience all these things in life within just a few moments, and it’s a wonderful training cell for life later on, and so I hope we don’t lose that perspective of the purpose of sport.
Do you know that Douglas McArthur once said, “Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seed that upon other fields on other days will bear the fruits of victory.”? I think what we can take from that is that, you know, friendly strife in swimming competition can really prepare young people for victory later on in life, victory in their relationships, victory in their career, things like that. I just want to read one more quote and then I will open it up to questions. I meant to read this under the I of individual success. “Success is the way you walk the paths of life each day. It’s in the little things you do and in the things you say. It’s not in reaching heights or fame, it’s not alone in reaching goals that all humans seek to claim. Success is being big of heart and being clean and broad of mind. Success is being faithful to your friends and to the stranger kind. Success is in the team, the coaches and the family that you love and what they learn from you. Success is having character in everything you do.”
So we have talked about gathering information, individual success, creating a positive vision, exploring and experimenting, and I touched on discernment and consistency as coaches relating to their athletes. I just want to close with a story of what happened just a week and a half ago in Australia.
For the past forty-three years, the USA has by far been the top ranked combined men and women’s swim team in the world. No one has ever doubted that, and we have one hands down every time. At the Pan-Pac, for the past fifteen years that they have been holding Pan-Pac, none of the other countries like Japan or Canada or Australia never wanted to keep score because they knew we were always going to win by a landslide. Well this year, for the first time, Australia the host wants to keep score, and they’re doing pretty well and we said okay, you can do that, that’s fine, we don’t mind. So as the meet progressed, we tried out the new eight-day format of the Olympic trials and the Olympic format for next year.
Of course Australia, especially the men, have the meet of their life. Twelve world records were broken, four of those by Aussie men. They were ahead in the point scores obviously, just having the meet of their life. If it wasn’t for the USA women’s team we would have been further behind. So, it’s the end of the seventh day, Australia is one point ahead, going into the eighth and final day Australia is one point ahead and basically since this is the last meet of 1999, the world title in swimming is going to come down to this final session of swimming. We realized that this meet was going to come down to the men’s medley relay. For the first time in history the title is being contested, and it’s going to come down to the medley relay. We knew Lenny was going to lead off great. He had broken the world record in 53.6 ad he was having one of the meets of a lifetime, and it was just awesome to watch him. So we knew Lenny was going to lead him off okay, hopefully in near his world record time. Kurt Grote was our breaststroker, and Kurt has a lot of relay experience, and we knew he would step up and perform. Dodd Wales was our butterflyer. It’s the second half of our relay that we were concerned with because Dodd Wales had never been on a big international team before, and he is swimming the butterfly against Jeff Hugal, one of the fastest butterflyers in the world. Of course Michael Clem was going to anchor for Australia, and we would have Neil Walker anchoring for us.
So Lenny lead off in 53.6, he almost tied his world record, and so we had a second and a half lead, and then Kurt Grote jumped in with a nice body and a half lead and we just held it there. Then there was the butterfly and freestyle that we were concerned about and Dodd jumped in, and he split his lifetime best by almost a second, he went 52.4. Of course, the whole state, all five and a half thousand Australians are on their feet, and we’re going nuts in our little section of the bleachers, too. I mean it is so loud and so intense and everybody is just focusing on just those two lanes and you felt bad for Japan and Canada and New Zealand, they are just way back there. You are just focusing on Australia and USA and Jeff Hugal split 51.8 in the butterfly leg and caught a little bit up to Dodd, and Neil nailed his relay start and dove in and had about a body length ahead. Michael Clem really pushed the start and he dove in after Neil and tried to catch Neil, and Clem was catching him. Clem turned in 22.2 at the feet, he was just like a motorboat just coming after Neil. Clem really doesn’t die, he’s a 200 man and a100 man so we knew he wasn’t going die, and he was catching Neil real fast and Neil just kept his long smooth stroke and Clem was catching him. The last twenty meters, Neil’s just got about two feet on him which isn’t very much with just twenty meters to go, and we didn’t know what was going to happen, and we just hoped the lead was enough.
Of course the whole stand is just on its feet and going crazy and coming under the flag Neil reaches and touches him out and the whole place went silent, and we went berserk. We were jumping up and down and most of us were smart enough to run on the deck and start hugging the team. A lot of us had so much energy and so much elation, we didn’t know what to do but hug the guy next to us and right next to me was Denny Pershly, our national team director, who normally has to play the bad guy, you know, and so I was so full of emotion I just gave Denny a big old bear hug . We were just hugging each other and I never imagined that I would be hugging Denny, but we were just giving high five’s and we just had to release that energy.
It was so exciting to see these guys touch the wall and to stand up and drop a second, sometimes a second and a half from their individual times and to see them come through in the clutch. To think that the world title came down to just a few moments in time. And all that training and all that preparation, and really those seven days of trying to keep our head up and trying to keep cheering, keeping the moral high. I have to give credit to our head coach Mark Shubert and Dick Jochums and John Urbanachek and Dave Marsh and the men’s staff, and of course the women’s team too who helped do that for us. You never know what’s going to happen at the very end, you just keep staying positive, you keep smiling and you keep boosting everybody up and it worked out. You never know when it’s going to come down to just a few moments in time, and all of that preparation and all of that investment, all of that stuff you gave paid off in the end.
It was just awesome to see those Aussies just quiet down, and I was mad at them, you know they cheer when they’re winning, they don’t cheer when they are in second place. That was a neat time, and I was just real thankful to all of the coaches that gave at that meet. And I am just real thankful to all of the coaches that have invested in me and gave something to me. You never know if some little skinny kid on your team needs a smile, needs a positive statement, needs a little work on a stroke, needs that extra motivation to stay in the sport, to stick with it. I was in the same boat thirteen, fourteen years ago. So thank you for listening and thank you for giving.
Just a quick note in conclusion, come by our booth at Ultimate Technique if you want to have an Olympian or national team member come to your club at no expense to you, so come on by our booth at the Ultimate Technique swim booth. Does anybody have any questions at all about anything? Any clarification or any questions about anything at all? We have a few minutes left, and I just want to be of service to anybody. Yes sir.
(Question.) That would go under my topic on discernment, and I chose not to talk about that because I really don’t have any answers. I don’t know how a coach discerns between when to give mercy and when to give discipline, when to show each one of those. Eddie Reese is an amazing man, and he has shown mercy to so many guys that should be in jail today, you know and he let them finish their career, he kept them on the team, they finished their career. It’s so neat to see these guys at the senior banquet crying their eyes out because they realized what opportunity Eddie gave them and where they would be if it wasn’t for him, and if he didn’t give them that second chance.
I am all for mercy, but sometimes you’re not doing a guy a favor if you don’t show some tough love, and I don’t have any answers for that. I don’t know. I know I’m not a very squeaky wheel, and so I’m pretty low maintenance myself, and so I can go a long time with just a few positive comments. And I seek out feedback anyway if I feel like I’m not getting some I say ‘Eddie you need to watch this, please watch this.” And he’ll do it. So maybe there’s a way to encourage those who you know are low maintenance, just keep reminding them, “I’m here for you and I want to help you let me know when I need to do that, but this guy, you know, be patient with me, I’m really struggling with these few people and I’ve got to spend some time with them.” I don’t know, I don’t have any answers, it’s a hard situation and there’s so many variables. Mercy can be a great thing and tough love can be a wonderful thing, it’s just hard when to know when to use it.
(Question.) I would say that the number one quality of a coach that I want to swim fast for him, and I want to listen to him is his commitment to integrity. Eddie Reese, is, well, you know, I appreciate his commitment to his wife and his commitment to his family. That’s one of the reasons that he is not here because he likes to stay at home with his family. He commands respect in my mind, I want to swim fast for him, I want to listen to him, and I know how he lives his life, and it’s very easy for me to listen.
(Question.) The difference between coaches that are for themselves and for the swimmer, I think over time you can, you can tell the difference. I don’t know, I mean, a positive statement is a positive statement. I am not too worried about who it comes from or what motivation is behind it. I know it was a positive impact on me. Over time you can tell what a coach’s motivation is.
(Question.) Right, there’s so many variables and there’s so many different coaching styles and coaches and so many different swimmers. I just really believe strongly that every kid deserves the chance to have a great chance. Every kid deserves that chance, and as long as we keep learning and striving to keep things positive and doing our very, very best, I think those opportunities will be there.
Thanks again for your time.