Mindset for Successful Club Development by Dr. Dave Salo (2004)


In one of the premier hires in small-college sports history, Dave Salo was named as the Founding Director of Aquatics at SUA on July 30, 2003. As an Assistant Coach for the USA World Championship Team in 2003 (note – the USA Olympic Coaching staff will be selected after Trials in July 2004), Coach Salo provides a world-class training environment for SUA student-athletes.  Coach Salo comes to SUA from the Irvine Novaquatics (Novas), where he has served as Head Coach since the fall of 1990. The NOVAS are a USA Swimming Gold Medal Club and one of the world’s premier swimming organizations. Since becoming Head Coach of the NOVAS, Salo has guided the club to USA National Championships in the Men’s, Women’s, Combined, and Combined Under-18 categories, as well as countless age group championships (BC and Junior Olympic) and several Junior National Team Championships.  Recently, Salo has also been the Co-Head Coach of the Women’s team at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, CA. In his third season, the Pirates won the 2003 State Championship, as Salo was awarded State Co-Coach of the Year honors.  Salo is a graduate of Long Beach State (B.A. and M.A.) and earned his doctorate in Exercise Physiology from the University of Southern California in 1991.



I have heard that term now a couple of times and I am flattered when anybody would consider me great.  I don’t think I am great and often times when I go across the country giving clinics and speeches I basically go into a room and say that I am no better and I am no worse than anybody that is in the room.  What I try to do when I give a clinic is to express that all of us can be as unique as sometimes I am put up on the stage to be.  I am not that unique.  I am not that smart.  I am not that great.  So, well thank you for the introduction.  I again thanked Chuck the other day for including me as part of the great, but I do not consider myself great, but good enough and always as striving to be better.  If I am still standing and retiring, like some of our coaches are retiring, and can be included in that group of coaches that would be great, but I am not sure that I am quite there yet.


One of the things, as I have gone through my years, I have been coaching about 25 years now, I think the tone this clinic has taken which I think is a great direction for it to go is talking about philosophy of coaching and not just the X’s and O’s – not just about a workout.  Early in my career when I was given the opportunity to give presentations about workouts – I would do the Power Point – I would write out workouts and say here is the warm-up and here is the next set and here is the pulling set and the kicking set and I would finish with that and then a hand would go up and somebody would say, well what did you do the next day and I would add onto that and I would give my Power Point presentation and I would show a week’s worth of workouts and somebody would raise their hand and go and what did you do the next week and I realized that people weren’t listening to what I was trying to say.  What, as Ira tried to indicate to you, what I tried to do many years ago – 25 years ago when I first started writing articles in Swimming World Magazine about physiology of training and thinking outside the box was a concept.  It was a concept that you have to grab the parts of it that you think you agree with or don’t agree with and you try them and you implement them in your programs to make your programs better.


I have to go back – I think part of the theme of this program is to give back to our sport a little bit and talk about our heritage as coaches and that is what this talk is going to be about today – as brief as it is going to be – about the heritage of my program – the heritage of my philosophy and it goes back to those opportunities that you have had as coaches to have experience and take advantage of an opportunity that presents itself.


When I got to Long Beach State I had no intentions of ever swimming for Jon Urbanchek and frankly I didn’t know who Jon Urbanchek was.  I didn’t really care – sorry Jon.  I didn’t like being called a hole so, that is an inside joke.  I showed up to Long Beach State Campus with my roommate who had full intention with Jon Urbanchek and I took him over to Jon’s office. Jon had been in the office for about two days because he had just been hired because Dick Jochums had taken the entire team to the University of Arizona. There was nobody left except for a handful of athletes that couldn’t get to Arizona or didn’t know how to get there. Jon was in the office and I brought my roommate into the office, Jon looked at me and said, do you swim?  I said, I used to swim.  I don’t swim any more and he goes well okay practice starts at 6 o’clock Monday morning and we will see you there. So over the weekend – I had just started drinking beer that weekend – over the weekend I talked with my roommate and I said, oh I am not swimming any more, I have not been in the water for months.  I was a Junior College transfer. I had swum in Junior College and that was my extent of swimming.  I thought I was done with it.  I wanted to be a P.E. major or something.  I wasn’t sure quite what I wanted to do, but Monday morning came rolling around and I got out of bed and went to workout and Jon called us lower than a frog’s behind or something like that and I stuck it out.


I was going to school fulltime, swimming fulltime basically with Jon because we didn’t have any 20 hour rules and I had to look for a job. I had a choice between getting an assistant coaching job with the Downey Dolphins which I never liked the name, but the Downey Dolphins or to work a six hour shift at Cookie Monster Paradise.  I thought very seriously about Cookie Monster’s Paradise, but I chose instead to go coaching so I was coaching – as all of us – you coach fulltime.  You coach 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  That is what we do.  That is why none of us have vacations, except for Ira Klein. Ira was telling me, if Chuck Wielgus is in the room I am sorry Ira, but Ira was relating to me the other day that he has four weeks of off days now that he is working for USA Swimming, but he used to take four weeks off when he was coaching and none of us could ever understand that. Now he really gets to take four weeks off and we don’t begrudge him that – we are all sending in our resumes to USA Swimming so eventually we will have those jobs.  I actually said that once to somebody that worked at USA Swimming who said your time will come too so I am hoping that sometime my time will come.  That is my Jon Urbanchek story.


There are a few things that inspire me – as a coach – if somebody asks me oh the Olympics must have been great, Athens, you must have been so happy, your athletes did well. As I said well you know, all of us as coaches, we look at the results of our performances good and bad and know we could have done much better, that is why we are in the sport.  That is why we strive for excellence and we strive for perfection. I guess if you will, we are never quite satisfied and I was no different.  I came back from the Olympics going – we could have done better and now I will strive over the next four years with the intent to be better than we have been in the past. There are a few things that inspire me:  great swimming inspires me and last night I was very inspired – and also very intrigued. – Those of you that went to the meet last night have to understand that the majority of the team that is competing there and competing quite well have not been training for more than two weeks, so I go back to the writings I wrote back in 1983 and 1984 and go – maybe 3,000 a day isn’t such a bad idea after all.  I know Aaron Peirsol, who I only became aware of the fact that I was supposed to be training him after the Olympic Games because his mother called asking me if Aaron been going to practice and I said well, I didn’t know that Aaron was in town. So I called Aaron and I said well Aaron, I am actually up at my new University and I know that is 30 minutes from home and I know it is quite a trek to come up here from where you are and you don’t want to do that, but either get in the water or come up here and I will see you in our new pool on September 20. If you are there we will train for two weeks and we will get ready for the meet. So we trained for two weeks and we got ready for the meet and he had a great performance last night.


Jason Lezak came off the Olympic Games and went on a delayed honeymoon and got back about two weeks before these championships and got back in the water and I give him a lot of credit.  He, like I said the other day, he doesn’t like to swim train and I knew how difficult this was going to be in getting prepared for this, but he did everything that Aaron did and they did the whole workout. We were going about 95 minutes and Jason, as I said the other day, that is a lot and that was, but I give him a lot of credit for sticking it out.  He then went on a two day retreat to Nike and I don’t think he got in the water until he got back down here so again – two weeks of training is all you need for exceptional performances at the World Championships short course.  Again, as coaches, we always tend to kind of divert where we are going and I may never ever get to my talk, but that is okay.  I just have to finish before the salads come rolling out.


The other things that inspire me – coaches inspire me.  Great coaches inspire me and I remember always coming to the ASCA Clinic when I was younger going who is this Dick guy they are talking about because there is always somebody up here on the stage or whatever you call this thing – talking about Dick – or talking about Jon or talking about Frank and it was like – who the hell are these people?  I mean, give them a last name so the rest of us in the room can kind of relate to who they might be. I was inspired to aspire to being one of those guys where they mention your name on the announcements about Dave in the audience and now it is Dr. Dave so I know it means me and not somebody else which is neat.  That is why I got a PhD, so that when Ira or somebody up here says Dave did this they will know that Dr. Dave and it was me versus somebody else and that has worked out well for me. The other reason why I got a PhD is many years ago I realized if I ever wanted to move up in the echelons of politics in USA Swimming that you had to have a name long enough to appear on the ballot so when you are running for OIOC they just go oh, there is a long name – I will check that off and so I used to put David Clark Salo, PhD and if I really felt I was in a battle for a position I would put Dr. David Clark Salo, PhD and then sometimes I would insist – please spell out doctor so everybody would see this big long name and you would be set.


The other things that inspire me – yes coaches – great coaches inspire me.  In my early days at Long Beach State – the other friend of mine that was probably one of my best friends – Jon Urbanchek – last name – Jon I think has taken great pride in the fact that he – he used to envy those great coaches out there that had prodigies and I don’t know that Jon ever felt that he had prodigies in our sport.  He had prodigies that went on to medical school and law school and things like that, but didn’t stay in the sport, but I think that he is proud to walk away from his collegiate years to go well, Dave Salo has been an Olympic coach and my other protégé – Jonty Skinner is National Team Director and he gets boastful about those things, but I think that being around someone like Jon has inspired a lot of us to excel to be maybe not exactly like him because nobody can ever get the accent quite right except for Erik Namesnik – but great coaches like Jon and the Frank and the Dave Marsh and all those names – they inspire us.


Everett and I used to joke that when we were young coaches growing up on the decks of Southern California you know, there was a hierarchy that you go to the senior meets and the national meets and there was a hierarchy of where you belonged on the deck – especially during warm-ups and we always felt that our place was about three rows back when coaches were getting splits for their kids during warm-up and the Generals – that’s what we called them – were the Jon Urbanchek’s and the Dick Jochum’s and the Dick Shoulberg’s and they could stand on the front and get wet and we had to kind of stand back and kind of look over their shoulder and get the splits for our kids. Our goal as young coaches was to move forward – you would get up to the second row.  Once you had a consolation finalist you could move up to just behind them and you could hear the conversations that they had on the deck with their athletes and then finally if you had a finalist you could get really right up to the front row and get jostled out on the deck with them and feel like you had become one of the generals. I kind of lamented over the years that hierarchy doesn’t exist any more.  That all the young gun coaches are up there moving around and they get in your way and I am back in the third row again and it has gotten kind of frustrating – I thought I could stay in the front for a while and it just doesn’t quite happen to work out that way, but that is okay – I am alright with that.


The other thing that inspires me happened the other night at – I was invited to sit in the Indiana Suite last night for the meet and if you haven’t been in that part of the arena – it is a pretty nice arena – it is better than the USA Swimming spot, but they were right next door to us.  We had the wine though – they didn’t.  They were on code, but Indiana swimming invited Jon and I to sit in their box – it was a great seat and glad I got an opportunity. A young coach tapped me on the shoulder and he says – I don’t know if you remember this, but about a year ago I sent you an email and talked to you about some athlete of mine and you wrote me back– that was very inspirational because I don’t really send emails back very often, but I was glad that I did that because I think it is important as coaches that we give back to those coaches who ask us questions – that are willing to email – now don’t send me emails – please – I have been inspired – I can move forward so, but I am glad that I was able to respond to a young coach, emerging coach that had a question and felt comfortable to email me and ask those kinds of questions. I am glad that I was able to respond back in a timely manner, that he got something out of it and I hope that inspired him to someday be on this place and say my name, old Dr. Salo has retired over here and is becoming a – whatever he is.


Anyway, my talk was supposed to be Mindset for Successful Club Development so I am going to try to do what I can.  A lot of what I am telling you is about creating a mindset for successful development of athletes and clubs.  Clubs are really important to me and my club was a club, as Ira pointed out, was an okay club – it wasn’t a great club.  I inherited a club that had a lot of internal strife and a head coach that quit and an age group coach that had quit – even though they were staying on – they were quitting and they hired me and as I told the story the other day – I think I told this group – I tell it all the time – I was hired and I had insisted on a signing bonus of $6,000 and when you are a graduate student coming out of USC all you have are bills – you don’t have money so $6,000 meant a lot to me.  It meant a lot to them too because they only gave me half of it to start out with and they said if I was around six months later I would get the other half and I got the other half and the guy that promised me that died a few years ago so I outlived him so that was – I don’t know if that was a blessing or not, but I inherited a program that had very little direction – very little success and it was my role and responsibility to turn it around. It meant for a lot of change, it meant a lot of vision that I had to provide for the program about what it was that we wanted this thing to be.


I had always wanted to be an Olympic coach – when I was younger.  When I applied for my first job as a 19 year old straight out of high school and I was pissed when I didn’t get the job.  I guess they read the fact that I had never coached before and thought that that was not the right place to do it.  But, I had always wanted to be an Olympic coach.  I thought that was what it meant to have arrived.  You had been successful enough to be appointed to the Olympic Coaching Staff and that was what drove me and it was the vision of what I wanted to be.  I was going to bring out a prop here today – it’s in my bag somewhere – it is a catalog for Mercedes-Benz cars.  I aspire to buy a Mercedes-Benz car, but they are very expensive, but I learned from Lenny Krazelburg last year – he drives around in a leased $90,000 Mercedes-Benz car and I said Lenny – why do you do that – it is a lot of money for a car and he goes Dave – you only live once. So I thought, you are right and this is coming from an immigrant who comes to America, becomes successful to tell me “you only live once – go buy a Mercedes-Benz.”  I might go and do that.  I haven’t decided yet, but our program at Nova Aquatics wasn’t that successful and I had to create a vision for the program – one in which it meant that I had to change a culture of mediocrity and that is what we all do as coaches – we have got to change a culture – we have to change a mindset and a mindset is so critically important.


When I inherited the program we had been about 15th to 20th place at the local Junior Olympic Championships, the year before I had gotten there.  I had a long way to go.  As Ira pointed out, he used to look at my club and go God, I want to be like the Nova’s or I want to try to beat the Nova’s – I have to see what they do.  When I got to Irvine, in Southern California Swimming my aspiration was to do the impossible – to be better than the Mission Viejo Natadors – they had been the team – always been the team – as far as I knew, to aspire to one day to upset the balance of swimming in Southern California was what I wanted to do.  It was what I set my coaches out to do.  What do we need to do to be better than anybody else in Southern California?  It wasn’t an easy process, but it was one that took light when I finally met with my senior group of about 25 kids and we sat down one day about the first year that I was there. I said you know, I think we should do better at the Junior Olympic Championships and I think what we should do is – after meeting with my assistant coaches – I said let’s go in and tell them that let’s try to be a top 10 Team this coming year and so we said, yeah I think we can accomplish that.  We can move from 19th to 10th – that would be a tough rise, but I think we can do that so we met with the group one day and we said I think our goal is to be a Top 10 Team at the Junior Olympic Championships in the Spring. The kids, for whatever reason, were really jazzed that day – they were really excited that day and they said no let’s win. We had to settle it – my assistant Ken Lamont and I are trying to settle them down and we are looking at each going how about Top 10 and they all kind of came back and no – let’s win!! We can win – let’s win – let’s go out there and win and finally after looking at Ken and just stumbling through the thought processes of where do they come with Top 1 from Top 10? I finally settled them on how about Top 5 and they all begrudgingly gave me that.  They said, well okay – we will go top 5.  Top 5 we will go Top 5 – that will be our goal as a team.  Not just my group, but as a team to be Top 5.


So, it was upon me then to change a culture of mediocrity at least from the standpoint of being only a Top 10 Team to rise to the top 5 and so I had to put in place what was going to make the change.  Every Wednesday night for almost six months I would get my entire team together.  At the time it was only about 200 members and every kid – from 8 years olds all the way up to the senior level – whoever was there – every Wednesday night for an hour and a half I would run one workout for everybody in one pool. I have a 50 meter pool so I can do that, but one pool – 50 meter pool – 200 kids – age 8-18 – I was on a microphone much like this one and I would run a workout.  We would kick against the wall – we would do flips – we would do vertical kick – we would do everything and anything and every 30 seconds or so we would yell out JO5.  Through the course of these six months kids are putting tattoo-like marks on their bodies.  JO5 – on their suits was JO5 and it was not something I directed them to do – it was something they began to have passion for and a vision for, a vision for which I felt comfortable that we could accomplish.  It was going to be tough, but I felt we could accomplish.


Well, after six months of this in the early years of JO Championships in Southern California – we used to break our Championships into 10 and under’s one weekend and 11 and older’s the next weekend – something like that and the first part of the meet my age group coaches went out to run the meet for the 12 and unders and I kept getting word back that we were not in the Top 5 – we were like 9th.  Well 9th was okay.  We were back in range of what I thought we could do, but we were like 9th – hanging onto 9th and then it came the older group’s time – that was the group that I coached. We went out to Barstow, California and if you have ever been to Barstow, California you will know you want to get out of there with a win because you do not ever want to go back, but I went into the Junior Olympic Championships with the older kids in 9th place and they accumulate all the points and then they award the Championship.  And the first night of competition the kids were not swimming very well – I pulled them aside and said what the hell are you doing?  I know they are only Junior Olympic kids, but, I could say hell at that time so it was alright – so what are you doing?  You are throwing away something that you have been working for for six months.  You are throwing away all these Wednesday workouts of JO5 and all the markings on your bodies and all the banners and everybody trying to figure out what JO5 meant. They responded as any of us as coaches would hope they would respond – they responded with a turn around in their focus and their attitude as they got through the rest of the four day meet.


We didn’t come in Top 5 – well actually we didn’t finish 5th.  We came so close to winning the Championship that I was so upset because I knew that there was one kid who didn’t show up for the meet – had they been there we would have won the Championship and beaten the perennial favorites and Champions – the Mission Viejo Nadadores – Darn it – that is okay – it inspires.  We were in the Top 5 – we had actually demonstrated – actually demonstrated to the coaching staff that in fact we could be a championship team and we went on to win several Junior Olympic Championships thereafter.


I have to credit not just me – it is a credit not only to vision – it is a credit to the people that I brought on board as assistant coaches, age group coaches who have made our program the program that it is.  I currently have four coaches on my staff that have been with me for 14 years.  I have also created careers of coaches that have been around me for about ten years.  They didn’t stay with me – they started somewhere else and that is another inside story.  That’s okay.  Why I tell you the Junior Olympic story is important because we didn’t become a National Championship Team because I walked on the deck.  We became a National Championship Team nine years after I joined the Nova Aquatics in 1999, but it came with that starting point.  We didn’t start to win the National Championship – we started with trying to be a Top 5 team in our local Junior Olympic Championships.


We didn’t start trying to put people on the Olympic Team until 1995.  To be quite honest with you I didn’t think I was capable of doing that – even though my goal was to be an Olympic Coach – not an Olympic Coach for any other country than this country, but it didn’t start really as a vision for me until 1995 when I went to my group – my team – my senior group – none were qualified to compete in the Olympic trials in 1995.  None were even qualified to even compete at the National Championships in 1995, but I told them that, I think I was inspired by a Clinic like this one and I went to my group, and I said I think our responsibility as a senior group is not to win Junior Olympic Championships, it is to produce Olympians.  It is to prepare athletes for the Olympic Games and they all kind of bought into that.  They were not quite sure why they were going to buy into that, but they had said yeah, that sounds like something we should do and as they bought into that initial response I had to tell them that none of them may even go to the Olympic trials.  It meant that we had to change the environment if in fact we were going to create an environment for an athlete to be prepared to compete at the Olympic trials.  This was before Amanda Beard turned 13 and moved into my senior group.  This was before Steve West joined our program from the University of Michigan in 1995.  It was before anything was put into place for an athlete like an Amanda or Steven West or even Jason Lezak who later qualified for Olympic trials would have an opportunity to be in an environment for that to happen.


In 1996 – as I tell everybody – our goal was to put two people on the US Olympic team and we fell short of that goal by one place and 3/10 of a second.  Amanda Beard made the Olympic team and not just made the Olympic team – she won two silver medals and a gold so we were pretty much on course with what we wanted to accomplish as a team. Even though we fell a little bit short – we changed the dynamics of our program dramatically – not because we put two on the team, but we had the courage to have a vision to create an environment for someone to make that Olympic team and eventually go on to medal.  Now, I had said this before and I had actually a coach come up to me maybe a couple of years ago and said I remember you – you gave a talk in – I think right after the 2000 Olympic Games and you said you were going to put four people on the US Olympic team in 2000 – you said that a couple of years before that and I heard you say that and you did that.  In 2000 we put four people on the US Olympic team, but our goal for four years was to put four people on the US Olympic team – Aaron Peirsol made the Olympic team, Jason Lezak, Staciana Stitz, Gabrielle Rose, and Frank Busch put Amanda Beard back on the Olympic team and until then I was able to still claim Amanda a little bit.  As coaches are, we all claim our athletes – even though they are long gone.


I came back from the 2000 Olympic Games and I was not quite sure what I needed to do to work towards 2004 because as a club coach, and many of you are club coaches, we don’t think we have the resources to compete against Power Points put on by Auburn University’s coaching staff and as I listened to Dave Marsh earlier today I was like – I might as well give up – can’t compete with that.  Club coaches – you can compete with that – we can and we will and we will continue to do that and if you college coaches are in here – I am raining on your parade a little bit because we are just as good – we are just as bright – we are just as smart – we are just under-funded – that is okay.  That’s alright – I don’t have a Miss Diane to pick up the pieces for me.  Is Dave Marsh here?  But I can tell you that I am quite proud of the fact that one of Dave’s top assistant coaches – Dave Durden and I think Dave Marsh has to let you know someday that Dave Durden actually came out of our program as an intern – I paid him I think $200 for the year 2000 to help me with my program and now he is one of the top assistant coaches in college.  One day he will discover club swimming and he will come back to the real world.  Is he here?  He is not here – he will get that word – that is okay.


In 2000 I came back from the Olympic Games and we had a pretty successful Olympic Games and I stewed for months over what we would accomplish in 2004 because I was on a roll.  I started to become a quad-nerd as many of us do and I announced to my team at our Awards Banquet in 2000 – October of 2000 – I said our goal, after thorough thought, was to put okay? Was to put six people on the US Olympic team and everybody was like okay? Well you almost put two in 1996, you almost put – oh you did put four on in 2000 so why would anybody think otherwise than to accept the fact that you are going to put six on the Olympic team in 2004.  We didn’t put six on the Olympic team in 2004 – I apologize – I am sorry – but we didn’t – we had five– you have to understand the environment that we created helped to create a place where athletes would congregate and become Olympians.  I don’t have the benefit of the college program to select who will train in my program that has the potential to be Olympic champions, but I can create an environment where athletes like Colleen Lanne will say – you know, I think I want to be there to train for the Olympic team or Lenny Krazelburg who will come off two shoulder surgeries and go you know what?  I think I need something a little bit different – I think that your 3000 a day will help or maybe it won’t hurt.  It allows an opportunity for Jason Lezak to continue his career and Aaron Peirsol when he is in town to come over and visit us from Eddie Reese’s program.  It allowed us to put five people on the US Olympic team – I am quite proud of that, but I am also quite understanding of the fact that it is the environment, as I know Dave talked about earlier, that you create around your program.


My goal in 2008 – I haven’t established a goal for 2008. It is very difficult to go from having the goal of six and try to extend that, but I was coming back from the pool in Athens one day and I was sitting with Lenny Krazelburg and Lenny knew that I had recently announced that Jon Urbanchek was going to come and join me in California to be my co-director of swim camps so Lenny kind of went – you know what?  In 2008 you and Jon are going to have 8-10 kids on the US Olympic team so I am going to let Lenny make that projection and I am not going to go out on that limb yet. I don’t know what my goals are going to be as yet, but I know that we are going to be challenging with a number of athletes on that Olympic team.  Now again, the reason I tell you this is we came from a Junior Olympic 5 goal and established a culture and a focus of being one of the top teams in the country and it is not because I have a 50 meter pool and it is not because I am in Southern California, it is not because I have great athletes that are born and bred in Southern California – it is because we created a program and a vision for that success to take place. Again, as I said before – I am no smarter – no greater – no better – I am just not worse than anybody else out there coaching.  I have tried things differently, tried to be innovative.  I have tried to share those ideas that I think will expose coaches to the circumstances that are so much less than I have and believe that they can in fact accomplish the same things that I have accomplished – maybe not six or eight – maybe it is one – but one is enough.


I wanted to label this topic – “Mindset for Successful Club Development – Be Careful of what you wish for”. I said that at the Orlando convention in a presentation to coaches and athletes and Eric Nelson from Wichita emailed me back a few days later, I did respond quickly after his email, he said, well what did you really mean by that?  He coaches Caroline Bruce.  I said, well be careful of what you wish for.  I told my athletes the other day the better they do the worse my life gets.  It is a lot easier if all I have to do is concentrate on my weekends on ABC Championship or a Junior Olympic Championship, but when we have to start going to Junior Nationals and Nationals and Olympic trials and Olympic Games – your life becomes complicated.  So, you have got to be prepared for what you wish for.  Now everybody thinks that I am in 7th heaven and I am – I have got probably the best job in America outside of Dave Marsh because I don’t have massage therapists – I don’t have a biomechanist, I don’t have Miss Diane, I don’t have a power rack – what I do have is that Dave sends me retiring Auburn swimmers and then I retire them completely. I am not sure I am supposed to be proud of the fact that I think I retired ten athletes this year – I am not sure that is what I was responsible for doing, but I retire athletes as much as put them on the Olympic team I guess so that is an interesting concept, but I do have to thank Dave.


I have always questioned Dave’s motives – I have always thought the college coaches – those of you that are in the room it’s okay, I have always thought that Dave somehow sends his athletes that are on the retiring phase out to my program because he knows that I have recruitable athletes – get it?  They send them out to California and they think they are going to get some back – well he has picked up Jeri Moss, Hayley Peirsol and Erin Volcan and he is still working on a few others this year. I know, so – college coaches – if you want to send me your athletes I will take them on and we will do what we can.


Now – I am not sure I am answering all the questions that people came to hear, but one of the things that I think is really important as coaches that we need to understand is not only that determining what our philosophies are or what our goals are, and what we aspire to for our programs, is that we need to understand what our limitations are and I don’t have a whole lot of limitations any more.  I am the head coach, the CEO of my program.  I have – a club parent-run program, but they let me do what they know they hired me to do.  I don’t have a contract with my program, now don’t any of you call my parents back home and tell them that –I think that some of them think I own the program, but that is okay.  I don’t have a contract because I don’t think I need a contract.  All of us as coaches – that doesn’t mean that all of us have to function that way, but I think all of us work so damn hard that we inspire those around us to realize that why would you want to hire anybody other than a swim coach to do what we do?  Get up in the morning at 4:30 or 5 o’clock in the morning – make young people do things that they absolutely do not want to do, you know, basically brutalize their children when they don’t have to do it?  That’s a pretty good thing to do.  Parents threaten their kids to send them to practice because they know that we will beat them up and there are no marks, which is good.  And you know what is funny too is you get your kids in dry land programs and they get hurt and some –you have got to realize – some of you do this because you know you are hurting them, but you can say it is dry land.


We started our program back about two weeks ago and my average age in my program last summer was 25 – it is now 15 and we were starting – usually what I do in the first two weeks when I have a brand new group like I have now is I kind of ignore them for two weeks – three weeks or whatever. I ignore them for a while and I want them to be afraid me and this group is afraid of me– I do some weird things – Dave showed some stuff on his dry land and I do some of that stuff too – I was having the kids jumping rope for dry land the other day at practice and I forget how non-athletic our kids are any more, but one of them fell on her ankle and sprained it pretty good. I told her like we always do as coaches – walk it off and she came in the other day and her dad was with her and I thought oh crap – I am going to get something from her Dad and he just ignored me so that was good so – it was good.


Anyway, I go back from this meeting tomorrow and I will have and I tell you this only because opportunity has come my way and I have taken advantage of that opportunity, but I will go back to the following – I used to be a one pool facility – now I am a four pool facility.  I have Lois Caviero’s sports village with a 50 meter pool.  I only get 8-10 lanes there but I have a complete sports village there and complete staff there.  We are just opening at the New Aquatic Center in Irvine where you will come to Juniors and Seniors next year and the Duel in the Pool – two 50 meter pools and a 25 meter by 25 yard teaching pool.  In addition, just down the road, at Northwood High school we just opened a 50 meter pool that is being operated by the City of Irvine and fortunately, I stumbled upon a pool when I was losing my pools in Irvine at Sako University where I have a 50 meter pool with a bulkhead at a private University. I am starting a swim team this year with 35 kids who can’t swim – literally – and I am the Aquatics Director and the Head Coach.  I am also the Head Coach of water polo.  I tell you this not because I am proud of that – I tell you this because I need good examples on how to run a water polo program.  I also tell you this because Jon Urbanchek and I will be starting swim camps next year – next summer – June, so if you have athletes that want to come to a camp next June send them our way.  It is a safe secure environment overlooking the Aliso and Woods Canyon – 15 minutes from Laguna Beach and it is fully gate guarded – Mediterranean Campus – your kids will love it.  We are also inviting coaches to attend our camps for three day seminars so if you are interested in that you can go to – this is like a John Kerry and George Bush Campaign – go to our Website – www.Saloswimcamp.com – okay? That was supposed to elicit some kind of response, but it didn’t – that’s okay.


I don’t have a lot of time and I am sorry that I rumbled through some of this stuff, but I came across – I didn’t come across the book – a book was given to me by a masters swimmer in our program a few weeks back and it takes me several weeks to read a book – not because I don’t love to read – I love to read – it is just that I fall asleep when I start to read, but he gave me this book – he is a business man and it is a book that I haven’t even finished yet, but into the first three chapters I am intrigued because I am intrigued why he gave it to me, but I am also intrigued because I think there are so any things that apply to our sport – to our programs – to our clubs – our own development as coaches and I keep holding this thing up – it is called “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. in it they evaluate companies – corporations – over a thirty year period of time to establish why companies go from good and transition into sustained greatness.  That is kind of my goal in my career is to become sustained and if people want to call it great that is fine, but I will be satisfied with being sustained successfully – sustained – entrenched in our sport, but this book is really good because it teaches about leadership skills and leadership qualities. One of those qualities I think that we all need to go through and really establish ourselves is leadership, are some of the things that were threaded through a lot of the presentations today and through the week.


I remember when Jack Bauerle talked about some of the things that he talked about and that we need to do and what Nort talked about the other day, I am not sure some of the young coaches appreciated Nort’s presentation the other day because it wasn’t about X’s and O’s – it was about a philosophy, about how we have to position ourselves to create greatness in our athletes and not worry about greatness being thrust upon us as coaches because we are not great unless Aaron Peirsol breaks a world record or Amanda Beard wins a medal or Jason Lezak anchors a world record relay or all those things that we consider great. Because greatness is being at the small club in Idaho like John Apgar – I ran into a little bit ago – who is up there trying to instill greatness and excellence in kids who do not even believe you can come out of Idaho and maybe be an Olympic champion, but read about Scott Usher who comes out of Grand Island, Nebraska, which I don’t know why there is an Island in Nebraska, and moves to that hot bed of American swimming – Casper, Wyoming and becomes one of the formidable breaststrokers in this country. But that is why this country is so great, and that is why I have been asked to talk today and been asked to talk at ASCA for a few times.


The first time I was asked to speak at ASCA was because I think they wanted to shut me up and they just inspired me to just keep on talking and I think now I am able to come to an ASCA clinic to again – try to inspire the coaches like yourselves to be better than good. To strive for greatness and not worry about whether you have a 50 meter pool or if you have a 25 yard pool.  I will leave you with the fact that I can’t finish this talk.  I will leave you with the fact that again – some of those coaches out here that inspire me are coaches like Jon Urbanchek and Dick Shoulberg and Dave Marsh – even though he is younger than me, but all of you inspire me and whether you are great yet or just almost good – you continue to inspire me. A lot of coaches do, so I want to leave it at that and thank you.


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