Maximizing Time, Space, and Personnel by Richard Shoulberg (2010)


I love high school coaching. I still teach five classes-a-day from pre-K to 12th grade. I’m in a 6-lane, 25-yard pool; but I will show you a clip of the 3 different pools we rent, just to give you an idea that I couldn’t have done all this just being in the 6-lane, 25-five-yard pool. I’ve never had a try-out; I’ve never had a cut. And I work really hard.

Fran Crippen came into my office one day and he said, ‘In this magazine, it says Tom Dolan did 30,000, right Dick?’ 30,000. ‘I’m going to do 30,000.’ I said, “Well, big deal.” And I got my assistant coaches to time every 100 of Fran Crippen’s 30,000. The way we did it was a 1,000 IM, a 1,000 free, non-stop 30,000. Every 100 is recorded, and it’s over my office door as a standard of training. I have records for everything we do, and I challenge kids everyday. Right Hugger? Hugger [Laurie Hug] is my master coach. She made her first junior cut as a senior in high school, and her first senior cut as a senior in college. So I love kids like that: that are willing to just keep on working.

In 1985, I said to a kid named Dave Wharton. “On Columbus Day, we’re going to do a 16,000 IM for time, because you’re going to go to Spain at the World Championships. And then every one days later, we’re going to cut it by 3,000.” When he was 16 years-old, he broke the American Record in the 400 IM—I think out of the box.

I read a book when I went to G.A. [Germantown Academy, where Shoulberg coaches]: any exercise going past 12 minutes, negative return—that’s what the book said. Take all the books you read, read them and then come to your own conclusion. Because if you have a heart-attack tomorrow, you’ll be on a spin bike for an hour the next day. So things change. Don’t be afraid to think out-of-the-box, and then I’ll tell you one of the quick story.

I had lunch with six young coaches from Minnesota—I love saying that word because Trina Radke was from Minnesota. And Trina said: ‘Tell these coaches that I wasn’t hard to coach, and it was fun to coach me and all this.’ I got a phone call in Octorber 1987. Trina was selected to go to Hawaii for Thanksgiving weekend. The kids would leave the mainland on a Tuesday night, go train on Wednesday, have Thanksgiving off, train Thursday, Saturday morning and then they’ll start to go back home. So what the hell, why would you take Thanksgiving off? I mean we’re thankful to train together on Thanksgiving.

I had the head of the upper school. His daughter’s crying for me, Carol Garvin, and he came down yelling to me on the day before Thanksgiving. And he said: ‘I hear you have practice.’ I said: “I’m thankful to be with the kids.” And we had practice on Thanksgiving. We don’t have practive on Christmas. I’ve already had one practice on Christmas, and that was… the next day Maddy Crippen was leaving to go to Perth for Worlds. And I didn’t get her out of the water for almost a hundred hours, and I was so mad at myself for doing it. I cooked the Christmas morning brunch, and then I went to practice and her younger brother Fran came. And he has had a marvelous rejuvination career in open water, and I know nothing about it. I just work kids hard and let them figure it out.

Without dryland there’s no Germantown Academy or Germantown Academy Aquatic Club, because I get anywhere from 60-90 kids in a four-hour block of time, in a 6-lane pool. I’ve got to do something with everyone. So I started the dryland program… but I wrote down the reasons. The number one reason is decreased injuries. Because the amount of volume work we do, I want to build balance in the opposite muscle groups and the major muscle groups, and I can only do that through dryland. It increases strength, flexibility, and I don’t need to read that to you. But there is one word I want you to just keep looking at: you are in charge of the intensity of your program, and kids will rise to your intensity. You make it easy, they’ll do less; you make it harder, they’ll do more.

And so I had a wonderful high school track coach, who I was a manager for, who put three boys from my community on the 1960 Olympic team. They were older guys who came back to train with Mr. Lewis. I never worked for a head swim coach ever. I was always a head swim coach, because Dave Painter left my summer club and I was a lifeguard and Mr. Spanger said: ‘You’re now the head coach.’ At 18, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. So I’ve never had the opportunity to study-under any mentors or coaches.

So what I did, I went to all different disciplines. Dance. I went to Joe Frazier’s Gym because I taught his daughter how to swim, and I taught Mike Maramond through the medicine ball hard. Boxers work harder than anybody. I never saw intensity, like in a boxing workout. And so I just decided, I’m just going to be an intense guy: “Hugger, do it again, I don’t care, just do it again, and do it right this time.” I read in that [Elizabeth] [Beisel] did 48 400 IMs of big thing and splashed back around Thanksgiving this year. I laughed. We did it in 1984 and this was the deal. Rick Curl, here’s the average you have to hold; Jerry, here’s the average you have to hold. After 12, Jerry, if you didn’t do it, you do it again. Erika Hansen’s last 12 were her fastest; number 48 was her fastest one. Now Beisel does it 17-20 years later, I don’t know. So, think out of the box.

Work your kids hard, and don’t ever cut a kid from swimming. I get really annoyed when people say: well, there’s too many in my lane. I got 9 in a lane. If you’re really good, and you’re Fran Crippen, you train with 5 other people. Two behind them and three at the other end, in a 25-yard pool. Every practice, we work both ends, because I’ve double my leaders. And if I had a 10-lane pool, and I have 20 kids: 10 would be down at that end, and 10 would be right next to me. And then after a set they would do 7×50 on 35, and then they’d be back with me. I think the key to my program (and I don’t need to read this to you, you can see what they [the presentation slides] say) is: I work with every kid. I talk to every athlete, everyday, about nonswimming stuff. I think that’s the key to my program. I get kids believing they can do something they haven’t done. If you only work with the superstar in your program, you have created such turmoil in your locker room, off-your-deck, in the community.

I had a kid named Sammy. He came to every morning practice in 9th grade; he brought two sandwiches in the morning, and ate them and never got in the water. He was a 1:27 100-yard freestyler. I needed that like a hole in the head. He graduated G.A. going 2:53. His athletic skills like in sailing. And the only reason his mother wanted him to swim was she didn’t want him to drown.

People say to me: well, you got to have more lanes, you got to have this. My first 12 years, I spent in a 4-lane pool. I started out with 14 girls with Nordstone YW. I ended up with 86, and then they wanted me to sign a contract. I said: “What the hell, I’ve never missed a practice. I even teach 60-and-older so I can get more pool time.” How many young coaches here now are willing to teach 60-and-over so you can get Sunday morning at a Y? In my community, I thought they’re going to arrest me for being at the pool on Sunday. But we went to mass, we went to church, we raised our kids, they all believe in God and all that. But I really, really work kids hard.

Now I’m going to show you a video. I do not work for this company—and you need to understand that: I make no money from Vasa. I have 9 of these machines. That is lane 7 at Germantown Academy. In summertime and springtime, we put them outside. In wintertime, we fold-them-over, but I just have to have space. This is lane 8 at Germantown Academy. That’s Alicia Aemisegger on a plyometric block. Everyday, from 8th grade on, she came down and did extra work on plyometrics.

Here’s what I do: You do 28 minutes of fitness before swimming, at six o’clock every morning. You only swim for 70 minutes; the distance kids go 5,200 yards, all four strokes. Then, in the afternoon, you come back and you swim 10,400 yards, and you do 45 minutes of fitness. And then once you get good, you come down and do an extra 30 minutes; so my better kids go triples.

Alicia Aemisegger went to Princeton, graduated at Princeton with a 3.6. Her last IM this year at NCAAs, her [G.A.] teammate Teresa Crippen—who is now going to go represent United States at the Worlds next summer in the 200 fly too—beat Alicia. And Alicia called me, and I said to Chris Lear, a loyal, great coach: “Lear, Aemisegger is going to call within minutes.” Phone rings, I see her name, I heard words that I only heard in the Army, and said: “Calm down, you had a great career at Princeton, and it ends tomorrow. And I guarantee you’ll be in the top-3 in the mile.” And she had her lifetime best mile.

I am so proud of my kids that go on to grad schools, and do great things academically. This is Teresa and she started with us when she was about 6. And I used to get mad at people who would tell her she was going to be a great swimmer because she is huge. I think she has a size-14 foot. She probably had that one when she was 7, and big hands. But she always put too much pressure on herself. And so after Olympic Trials where she finaled—so she’s good—I told her she couldn’t come home and train the summer of ’09. I said: “I’m Teresa-out. I just need some time away.”

So she came back this summer and at Middle Atlantic Championships. she said to me: ‘I don’t think I can swim well anymore. I just went a 2:16 200 fly.’ I looked at her for 10 seconds. I forget… I think his name was Coach Robinson, from, I think, it was from the Indiana area—an older gentleman—said: ‘Ten seconds. If you can’t say it in 10 seconds, don’t say it.” I said: “Teresa, stop the bullshit. You went a 4:02 IM at NCAAs three months ago; you’re on lifetime best, you’re on the National Championship team.”

I put these straps in two years ago, and I think that and the Vasa are the key to my program. So all your-own-body-weight: decreases injury, increases range of motion, coordination. She [Teresa] comes out and she does her little thing everyday. When her and Fran got off their red-eye [flight] Monday-a-week-ago from Pan Pacs—they flew home from LA, they took a red-eye. 2:30 Monday afternoon, Fran Crippen and Teresa did 90 minutes of dryland, on their own. And that’s what makes a champion: doing things on your own, as a coach-teacher. And then put your arm around them when they don’t do well, and say: What the hell, you never do anything extra, why should you be good.

Our school psychologist sometimes talks to me, and ask me to slow down but I don’t really care. There’s only one person I listen to and it’s my wife. And she called me last night to tell me the attic fan won’t work right. Like what the hell do I care about the attic fan? At 10:30 last night she calls me: ‘The attic fan is making noise, I think it needs new bearings.’ “Well, call the electrician.” It will not cost me $400, I’m not putting it in; I did it 30 years ago, I’m tired. We have a great relationship though.

The only way I learn is when people come to G.A. And back in the ‘70s, I had a man from France come for three years-in-a-row, and we housed his kids. They trained for two weeks. I don’t speak any French—don’t plan to learn any French—but I knew he had access to these German weight rooms. So I said: I want you to go in the East German weight room and I want you to take a picture of their incline. So he did. And then I had a man named John Rex, a dad at G.A. who had a welding shop, and we made three of them. Then when Alicia went to Princeton, I had John make her another one, and it went to Princeton in their weight room. And she did her own stuff on it, and now it’s back at G.A. These are not stainless steel, and they look pretty crappy but who cares.

Right over here [on screen], you see Australian spin bikes—see that? There were lots of bicycles when I was in Australia in ’87. I went to all different fitness places: what do they have new there or something…. And I bought these bikes. Unfortunately, you can’t get them repaired. Maddy Crippen held the team record, 8 hours 30 minutes outside, 7 weeks before Olympic Trials. Eight hours, thirty minutes: 5 minutes sit, 5 minutes stand, 5 minutes reverse stand. All my little kids would come down. ‘When did she go to the bathroom?’ (All my little 2nd graders, 1st grader.) I said: she pees down her leg.

And this young lady, I challenged—anyone if you can beat Maddy Crippen’s record on a spin bike, I’ll give you a t-shirt—she went 10 hours, 1 second. She went from a 2:17 backstroker the summer of ’07, to 2:11 and then finaled with Teresa in a 200 back in Olympic Trials. She broke Trina Radke’s record on the incline: Trina did 13, KR did 36. Trina broke Erika’s record, then Alicia broke hers later on the ropes.

So many little things around this crazy pool, that my board of trustees say it doesn’t even look like a pool. Well, it’s my little lab where I experiment with kids. The young men [who spoke] at 11:30 gave a great talk on fitness. He was awesome, I think from New Tier. Awesome talk. You can’t do enough of this stuff, guys and girls. The only thing good about it is: I don’t do any of it. I walk an hour everyday. Johnny Skinner used to say do more work on balance. So we do more work on balance.

In 1988, I had two kids make in the Olympic team that graduated from G.A. and two more who trained at G.A. And Mike Barrowman’s coach, Joseph said, ‘I noticed you have a medicine ball.’ In Hawaii, [and] because we do medicine balls. And Joseph said, ‘Is there any way I can borrow one of those medicine balls?’ So everyday, after we get done, he’d borrow the medicine ball. And one day, I said: “Do you mind if I watch?” It was crazy. I’m on the sixth floor in a hotel room in Hawaii, and the words that Joseph and Michael said to each other were different. And those two guys threw the medicine ball, so hard from one hour. It’s all about intensity. And the coach has to set the tone.

Wall sits. I read Coach Riggs who coached—well I want to show you this—who coached Sippy Woodhead in the ‘70s. Sippy Woodhead sat against the wall for 28 minutes with two 15-pound weights in front of her. No wonder she broke the World Record. Think out of the box.

Right here is Katie Yahr; it’s called double bio-bench. You have to earn the right to work on the bio-benches because I can’t repair them. Nord Thornton was the one that got me on the bio-benches; I have 5 of them. And what I did, I took… right here is where the resistance is, and I connected the two ropes where Katie Yahr’s hand is. So this one here works the front end of this rope, and this one here works for recovery. And I don’t think enough of us do enough work on the swimmer’s recoveries; I think you have to build strength in the muscle groups for recoveries—I’m a real big, big believer in that. And so, I do it three different ways: I do in on the erg, I do it on the Vasa, and I do it with the bio. I do some work with surgical tubing. We swim with shoes; everybody swims with shoes. Darnyi swam with shoes in the ‘80s—the Hungarians were really big in that.

Well, you’ve seen enough abs. These are the ergs—they’re here. They’re so much better than the biokinetic bench, because I can repair them. All I have to do is call Robin, and say the coil broke. Sends a new one, and put it… just pop it in and it’s awesome. (Does anyone understand why this is not now playing? Press what? You’re a pretty bright guy.)

But everyday, my athletes come down and do 30-minutes triples. Now, there’s a girl named Janet Evans who did bio-bench everyday, but McAllister told me her mother bought her a bio-bench. And she did 30-40 minutes of bio-bench while she went to school, in between practices. She was pretty good in ’88, and after ’88. I just think you need to challenge kids, and that’s another way of doing the backstroke up on the erg. (You don’t need to see this because you all know how to do it; that’s really hard.)

And I move my Vasa trainers around. I put them… on some days, it will be on this side of the pool; some days, they’re outside. I don’t know, I just keep moving: I change the environment. I always change the environment because in 1971 Doc Counsilman said at West Chester University: the role of the coach is to manipulate the environment. And I was a real big-believer in Doc Counsilman; I thought he did so much for world swimming, and I remember him saying that. So that’s our role: keep changing your environment. Control the intensity, keep the kids coming back, and make sure they like the sport. Actually, I think our main job is to create passion in swimming.

Ah, greatest dog in the world—he’s now in heaven. Oh my God, I miss this sucker. But he came to practice everyday. He came to school everyday for nine years. I rescued him, had both knees rebuilt, cost me a fortune. But oh my goodness, he gave me so much joy and he never spent money. We’ve never once used my credit card.

Young man today talked about plyometrics. This [on screen] is old stuff. We built these blocks years ago, and we made it out of marine plywood so we can put them outside. If you notice, the kids are swimming with it and I’ll explain why later. Someone was talking about jumping high. You jump on that higher block for about 12 minutes, 10-on/10-seconds-off, you’ll get pretty strong—I guarantee you that. But kids are swimming, kids are doing dryland.

Kids who don’t have talent do less swimming until they get stronger. I want you to look at your swimmer and don’t call him a swimmer but call him an athlete. And all athletes must improve their strength qualities, their range of motion: they just have to. Swimmers are athletes who swim. My first day the first week at G.A., said: “Swimmers aren’t athletes.” [Inaudible] [0:26:11] but I wanted to keep my job, I didn’t say anything.

I’m going to show you why we hung the strap here, but I want to talk more about the straps. If you walk into G.A. right now, there are 3 pull-up bars/chin-up bars, probably as high as that bottom rung right there. and the reason I put them so high was twofold. There’s dirt on the other side of the wall, and I had to raise them above the dirt so that they won’t rust out. But I [also] wanted to do the strap work. So behind me now, I’ve added 2 more pull-up bars/chin-up bars that are very high up in the air. And then I can use surgical tubing or the strap.

Then we have these high-plyometric benches that they get-on every morning. At the completion of every morning practice, you have to do your pull-ups. And I had a young boy this year named Arthur Frayler, who’s been with me since 4th grade. I don’t like to ever say anything about parents, but God will wipe all my sins away for putting up with Arthur and his dad. I’m going to go directly to heaven, because I’ve already told him that. He’s been there since 4th grade. The kid went from a 15:28 to a 15:07 this summer. He was on the Junior Pan Pac team because of his skills in open water, and Mark Schubert put him on the Pan Pac team.

Saturday morning of the 1500, Mark Schubert came up to me and said: I’d like you to coach the Pan Pac team. I said, “Wait a minute, I can’t do that.” He said, ‘Why, you never say no.’ And I said: “I can’t do that. I have a plan to go back to G.A., and coach Arthur Frayler 9 days, and then send him to Hawaii [for Junior Pan Pacs], so the sucker can do well.” Good plan, keep your plan. Boom. That night, Arthur Frayler drops 21 seconds, makes the Pan Pac team. It cost me $2,100 to go back-out and watch him swim. But that’s Arthur Frayler: he always test me. But he also broke eight minutes for the first time; he’s only 16.

I already told him, I challenged him to what I think he could do at the Grand Prix Meet on April 8, 9 and 10 in Michigan this year. (I’m hitting play and it’s not doing a damn thing. Is there a different play? OK.) I have a plan for Arthur Frayler. Rick Curl had a plan. Jerry, I know you had a plan. I never met Jerry, but Jerry was at the Hawken School, and Mr. Cast left Hawken and came to G.A. And all I heard about was Jerry from my new headmaster, right? And you got to have a plan. And so when I talked to Arthur that day, I told him our plan and what I think he can do at the Grand Prix Meet in April, and still swim fast in high school.

And the reason I had the door there is so you’d have more full range-of-motion. I think all fitness has to have… you can’t limit their range-of-motion. But now, by hanging all this stuff behind me, it’s twofold. I have 9 kids behind me every morning: 25-minutes-on, 2 minutes get in the water, and swim for 70. Nine more kids behind me doing strap tubing. And I just think it’s a great way to utilize your space. And I think when kids do dryland, they have a chance to interact and socialize more, and enjoy the sport maybe a little bit more.

And I’ll tell you, if a kid comes in to my program and says: I’m starting to get an earache. “Oh, you can’t swim. My God, there’s no way I’m going to let you get in the water. Earache? You might get infection; you might be out three weeks. So what we’ll do is we’ll ride the stationary bike, ok. It’s all on the deck, I can go over interact, talk to you: how’s school, how’s your earache, not so good, you’re arguing with your girlfriend, do you have no one, you have an earache.” Then I’ll take the seat off the bike and say: “I’ll see you at six o’clock.” And this sucker rides the bike with no seat; he never has another earache. That’s true; I do it all the time. Marty knows, you’ve been there Marty. Does everyone know my friend Marty, where is your sidekick? Is he taking a nap? Marty has been to our home, and every time he comes he comes with a new Volvo. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I have an 11-year-old Toyota.

I want to show you this—if you want to see something crazy. That’s a 40-pound bar. I have a gentleman named Walter Ramos, who swam for Mark, went to Stanford, and made millions of dollars. And he has a home in Aspen, he has a home on the shore, and he has a home near G.A. Now his boys have graduated G.A; I don’t see him so much. He takes his 40 lbs bar—and you may have a 30 lbs bar and you may have a 20 lbs bar—and he goes one hour. And I don’t care what he does with them, but it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever seen kids do. And it’s nonstop. But right up there, back in the ‘80s, I had a boy named Dave Wharton with a 10 lbs plate. And he would go 32 minutes everyday with this 10 lbs plate, stand on one foot, stand on the other foot. And he went-on and broke 2 World Records, 18 American Records, silver medal.

So Walter comes in and takes over. So I don’t think you need a whole bunch of crazy dollar equipment. I think Walter, he is more intense than I am, but I love it because the kids like me now more than Walter. But this bar, it’s amazing stuff that my kids do with the bar. And then they’ll say, “OK go run, let’s run one mile around the school.” And they change the environment, they have someone else stand on top of them, and they really like doing dryland.

But just think if you had a kid who came-down everyday for 30 minutes extra. 5×30 is 150; 150 minutes times 36 weeks of the school year times 5 years—that’s a lot of extra work. But that’s what I teach kids to do; I’m never satisfied.

Sammy, on the other hand, you wanna eat your sandwiches and talk to to me in the morning. I love talking to Sammy. I just love having a guy come out for the swim team. We talk on a regular basis. So I try to be inclusive to every kid at school and have them a part of the program. And my club team too. I have a lot of club kids that don’t go to G.A., and we try to help them as much. I think we all do the same thing: we try to challenge kids, and we try to give them a better life and more opportunities. I think that’s all what we’re supposed to do.

Now, I’m sorry I don’t have this on this. I don’t know a school that doesn’t have steps or a mall or somewhere. Some days we’ll just go in there and we’ll go 40 minutes of steps. And then we’ll have them hold your feet and you walk up the steps. After doing that for 40 minutes, you want to be back in the pool. On the other side of this wall is a ¼-mile track, indoors. So if the kids are not swimming well because Monday morning, I observe that Morning practice to design the Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. That’s how I design my training. If the group is off/out-of-sync/not-making-their-paces, we’ll go in to the field house and play medicine-ball basketball. You take a 6-pound medicine ball, and there are two basketball courts running east to west, and there’s one rule: girls can’t play with guys because—my girls are doing pants—they’ll rip the ball out of your hand.

I put the ropes in in 1979. I put the ropes in for one reason. I have a kid named Bart Schneider—whose now swimming with Hugger—who went 20.01 in high school. Pretty good swimmer. And I think this part of the swimmer’s body—the fingers, the hand, the wrist and the forearm—sets-up the sculling, that’s just my own idea. I think rope climbing is as good as way of doing it. I’m starting to think of the straps, because we are now doing double-straps—meaning you put your feet in two rings, you put your hands in a strap and so now you’re suspended off the deck and you do some form of fitness. And I think that is equal to or more strenuous than rope climbing. My little kids, my pre-K’ers, I teach them how to swing-off the rope in lane 5. My little pre-K’ers first grade and kindergarten, I teach them how to rope-climb. And I have a certified gym teacher behind block 5 for when my little guys are climbing the rope, to make sure that it’s safe.

The best rope climber at G.A. in the lower school: a female gymnast. So that tells me I want every girl at G.A. at a younger age should do gymnastics. The hell with swimming 5 days-a-week: swim 2 days-a-week and do gymnastics 3. It’ll make a better swimmer after puberty. They don’t need to swim 5-6 days-a-week as crazy 8&Under parents. But have them do a combination of cross training. Gymnastics for girls; dance, soccer. Boys, martial arts, any sport.

Why do I go the width of the pool? Because it changes the environment. When Wharton, Brier, Berkoff, Hetche, Hanson—that group, they are all Olympians except Brier who was gold medalist at the Pan Ams. 11,200 yards in 1:56 doing the width of the pool. You don’t walk for three days after that, but have the kids come into your pool and go “Wow!” The Vasas were there, now they’re over there; and now the pool is set 15.3 yards. I change the environment all the time.

I want to show you the pools I rent. No one has this pool, I guarantee it—I’m the only one in the world who has a pool like this. Concrete waves, 48-yards 11-inches. This-end here is the deep end, less than 5 feet; this end is a shallow end, under 3 feet. Who cares: it’s water. I shared the pool from June 18-on: I only got three lanes. So I have 30 kids there; 15 on one end, 15 in the other end—and that’s plenty of room. My assumption is a concrete guy said to the pool builder: let’s go to the track and put the wall across the 48-yards-11- inches mark. There’s no reason to build a pool like that.

This year, it’s part of the apartment complex. I think they called it Section-8 housing, so there are a lot of kids there that don’t have much. And when I first started there, I used to have to teach for an hour so I could get two hours of pool time. They sort of let that go, because there are camps that use it, but my kids are always willing to help out and teach people to be water safe.

[new slide] When I was a kid, that’s where I swam in Miami Lake. It’s called Mermaid, one man owns it—well, he’s deceased now. And then in the ‘50s, polio hit and they made a pool 33 1/3 x 66 2/3—I love this pool. We go there, without a heater, Monday-Wednesday-Friday from 6:00-9:00. And the more proficient athletes do all their training in 33 1/3, or we do river swims there—and I’ll explain that in a minute. Those ducks weren’t there when I was there. My dog used to love going to Mermaid to chase the ducks.

Space; we all need space. And boy do I have space at Mermaid. Do you see those slides? I said to Mark Schubert: “You have all the crap in the world at USC, but you don’t have slides and I do.” Dave Berkoff would say to me: ‘If I have a good practice, can I go off to slides?’ The freaking guy graduated from Harvard; he already had his individual silver, his World Record and his gold relay. “Can I go off to slides?” Whatever it is buddy, but it better be fast.

And I want you to get a better picture of this because we do these river swims when we start here. We go around the whole perimeter and then you go into the 25m course and you do two 100s all–out. Fran loves it; he thinks that it helps him for open water. So again, I just change the environment. I’m sure you have ever heard that terminology. But we now have lane lines in the 33m course, and my sprinters do all their work in here—and they really like it. And they’re allowed to go down those slides if they sprint well enough. But they’re not allowed to go down head-first, and everyday someone goes down head-first and I get pissed. But we swim around this whole perimeter. There’s my sidekick; the new head of human resources won’t allow dog at school—what an idiot, so stupid. I have little kids that would come-in just to hug my dog.

This is the only real 50m pool that we train in. And I designed this in 1974 in my kitchen… my dining room, I’m sorry. It’s 10 lanes. Most important part is the teaching area for little kids. If you’re a swim coach and you don’t think about making kids water safe, you ought to teach tennis because I think it’s so important that every human being is water safe—it’s the second leading form of accidental death in United States for kids. All my outdoor pools have trees. I love the Pennsylvania environment because it’s pretty.

Years ago, Jack Simon was doing a talk at ASCA. And he said, if you have a lousy indoor pool, why don’t you run an outdoor pool. But I’ve been using Mermaid since the ‘60s—late 50s and early ‘60s. And then because we lost the facility, we had to go to Linwood. and I think going in 48-yards, 11-inches, because Rick Curl doesn’t even do that. (Do you Rick? And you would do it if that’s the only place you could go won’t you? Right?) And Hugger comes-in, she gets so mad: ‘It’s 48-yards, 11-inches: it’s not a 100 yards if you do two laps.’ I said: “I really don’t care.” (Right Hugger?) She gets so anal about how many freaking yards she really ran; it really doesn’t matter. I trained in a 20-yard pool for 12 years. I have good kids. So that’s basically the GA program.

I just want to show you… you can put the tubing on, or you can take the tubing off. See those ugly tenser? The snow ruined all of them this year, and I’m in the process of figuring out what to do. So are there any questions about my program? (Because I know the ladies said they’re going to take this room, spin it around for the banquet.)

Jerry [Holtrey], would you stand up? This young man is going to be honored tonight, right? [applause] I heard so much about this wonderful coach at Hawken. And he is a wonderful coach and he’s done so much for his community that it’s time overdue.

So does anyone have any questions on Germantown Academy or why? Yes?

[inaudible question]

Never. The Vasa trainer, I told Rob years ago: you really need to make stainless steel ones. Who cares if there’s a hole in the pad? I put a little duct tape on it. My God, you don’t want to spoil your kids. That’s the worst thing you can do. Take the padding off. No. [laughter] I have replaced some of the padding. But Rob Sleamaker, who invented the Vasa… the Vasa is so much better than my incline boards because the incline boards restricts under here. The Vasa allows the swimmer to get their hands underneath their body. If the Vasa trainer came out before me copying the East Germans, I wouldn’t copy the East Germans.

Dave Berkoff every morning from the ’92 trials through Olympics came into G.A., and he did double arm backstroke Vasa. He goes up the hill at a steady incline, but then he came down the hill in a negative. And he never got into water until he did that. So, I just think there’s a real value in having strength equipment right around your pool. Because there’s also a liability if you open up the weight room, and let the kids go into weight room, and Hugger oversleeps and doesn’t show up, who’s supervising? Nobody. So I’d rather do everything around the pool deck. I know some of the trustees have given me a hard time about it, but I don’t go to bed with them so I don’t care.

I really, really think, that if you only swim… when I was at the Y we did a lot of jump rope, we did a lot of running steps, we did a lot of calisthenics. No different than the young man today. And when I did it at the Y, I had parents who I could trust that would oversee it, because I work with my little guys first and then my older girls would come in second. So I made the girls do an hour of some-form of fitness and 90 minutes of swimming, back in the old days. Now I do 28 minutes of fitness, 70 of swimming in the morning; 30 minutes independent, only if you do the work right—you’re not allowed to do independent dryland if you screw-off. Then in the afternoon, you swim 2 hours and 10 minutes, and do 45 minutes of fitness. You do that 5 days a week.

I mentioned Saturday; Saturdays are big day. We get there at seven and we go to twelve; and we swim for 4 hours and 10 minutes, and it’s really intense. And we do 50 minutes of dryland. One year, I tried to put the dryland in the middle: the kids didn’t like it. Let’s get the swimming over with then we’ll do the dryland. And the reason it all started was an energy crisis in the ‘70s: I couldn’t afford to keep coming back. So I don’t do doubles on Saturdays, ever. Come in seven—ten-to-seven. Boom, practice starts at 7:00, practice done at Noon, I go home. I get my hour walk and go home. Sundays I come in, and we do stroke technique. and I’ve never required a Sunday. And I told young coaches from Minnesota: Trina Radke never ever swam on a Sunday and made the Olympic team. I don’t require Sundays.

Dave Wharton never missed a Sunday, because he would take his academic week and… Wednesday he would have 2 major tests. So Tuesday he would swim for one hour, go home at four o’clock, study for his two tests, tell me on Wednesday or Thursday what his grades were, and then make-up Tuesday afternoon on Sunday. And I would tell him: you don’t even have to make it up; just do extra buckets. We do a lot of bucket work where it’s tethered to your waist and they pull—it’s resistance training. It really works on body awareness, stroke technique, power and strength. I’m afraid not to do it. And when we taper, we still stay on the buckets.

What we’ve been doing in the last 5 or 6 years: if Nationals are out West in the summertime, I go to Colorado Springs. And everyone says: ‘what does it do to their blood.’ I have no idea. I’m not a scientist; I have no idea. What are the capillaries? I don’t even know what it means. But we go to Colorado Springs, and we decrease the stress of going to practice. We walk 500 meters to the cafeteria, to the pool, come back every afternoon. I get the van from US Swimming, I go into Colorado Springs, and I watch those throwback guys from Vietnam and before that. I still think they’re over there or whatever, some weird people in Colorado Springs. And so it’s better than going to the movies.

So we do that for a week, and then we go west. I already planned it for next summer because Nationals are on the West Coast. If they are on the East Coast, I probably wouldn’t do it. And then I always go in March. Two of you guys will get a two-week spring vacation. And then we go to Grand Prix meet in April: I love going to Ohio State, but because of Synchro, it’s now going to be at Michigan.

But I have a plan, I always have a plan. I have a yearly plan, a weekly plan and I have a four-year plan. Did I know Arthur Frayler was going to go 15:07 this summer? Hell, no. I knew he was going to go fast, but I didn’t know he was going to do that.

Are there any other questions? Thank you. I really love high school swimming.

##### end #####

Notify of
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