The Olympic Preparation of Alexander Popov by Gennadi Touretski (1996)

The Olympic Preparation of Alexander Popov by Gennadi Touretski (1996)

A former National Team Member, Gennadi Touretski earned a degree in engineering, majoring in biomechanics, biochemistry, fluid mechanics, and sports physiology. In 1982, and 1991, Gennadi established the Olympic Training Center of the Soviet Union. In 1988 and 1992, Gennadi was the Olympic Team coach for USSR. In 1988, his team won a silver medal for the 400 freestyle relay and a bronze individual medal. In Barcelona, the USSR won five gold medals, among these athletes were Alexandre Popov, Vladimir Pyshnenko, Mukhin, and Veniamin Tainovitch. Gennadi was appointed as the Head Coach of the Australian Institute of Sport, in 1993. That same year, he was the coach of Alexandre Popov who set World Records in the 50 and 100 freestyle. He has also been the Australian team coach at the Rome World Championships and at the same time coach of Popov who won two gold medals. Gennadi is on the 1996 Olympic Team coaching staff for Australia as well as coach of Popov.

It was twenty years ago when I started as a coach that a very famous physiologist told me about the “Magic Sevens” in the preparation and sporting careers of athletes, seven years initial preparation, seven years of development and then seven years for the athlete to perform at the highest level.

Now I’m looking back and see the way we approached the plan, I’m trying to realize that since 1990 I can hardly find three races that Alex lost in any level of competition. It’s amazing because he had more than one thousand starts in that period of time.

Many people ask me about the key to Alex’s success. The answer is simple: Natural Talent multiplied by the ability to work consistently, coming from an understanding that you cannot dive twice into the same water, and the only way to win is non-stop perfection.

Let’s compare his Atlanta profile with how he looked in Barcelona; in Atlanta he was the same height as Barcelona, 200cm (6 feet 6.75 inches), his skinfold was 38mm (l.5 inches), but his weight had increased by 3kg (6.6 lbs.), so his technique has changed.

The key to his Olympic success is in his personality — the ability to learn and keep a clear mind in any circumstances. As an athlete since Barcelona he has learned to read fear in the eyes of opponents, how to communicate with the media, and even how to manage life in Australia.

Having a good education in coaching science he understands how to train and to be fit for the race; but few people know that he was sick at the World Championships in Rome in ’94, and at the European Championships in Vienna in ’95. The reason was that he lost his adaptation reserve as a result of the high intensity three weeks before the start.

In our Atlanta plan we paid more attention to fitness work, so Alex did not look so sharp at the beginning of the week’s competition. You may be interested to know that his technique is based on the three R’s: Rhythm, Relaxation, and Range.

Beauty comes from rhythm (an old saying), and rhythm leads the movement. The timing of his stroke is based on the kayak principle.

In predicting the opposition Alex would have in Atlanta, he did not believe that someone would break 49.0 seconds. It took me quite some time to explain to him that they would swim around 48.6 sees. You will see in the lecture how we make a model and plan for Alex’s races, training paces and intervals at the aerobic, anaerobic and MVO2, levels.


Training for any swimming event is highly complex. However, until recently, the effectiveness of training depended heavily on the coach’s skill, his intuition, his ability to motivate his swimmers and his ability to measure the effect of the training load.

However, we increasingly encounter the expression “scientific methods of controlling training”, which implies that intuitive decision making is supplemented by scientifically founded actions that rely on measurements of the athlete’s condition.

For example, people used to think that the most reliable way of increasing results was to simply arithmetically increase the volume of training in all its parameters. This seemed the only true way because this was the way that most of the record holders and champions achieved their success.

Today, training load volumes have reached such significant heights that, not only is increasing the training volumes not the ONLY WAY of improving results of top class athletes but often, it is an absolutely ineffective way of developing training programs for success.

If we have a look at the top 10 results of the 50m freestyle in 1986 and 1994, you would not notice any significant improvement. Is the result we have achieved the limit or can’t we develop training methods and views? I think the latter.

Let us put together the best 15 meters of Dano Halsall; 15-35 meter distance of Matt Biondi and last 10 meter of Alex Popov. We would have 19.83 for 50m Freestyle. Therefore it is crucial that we understand the complex mechanism that underlies a training system in order to prepare our swimmers for today’s sprint competition.

The problem of organizing sprint training in swimming, despite the outward simplicity of the competitive action (movement) itself, is complex and perhaps is at a lower level of evolutionary development than that of other events in swimming performances.

Physiologists’ studies show many bodily functions undergo varying degrees of significant change during sports training. A person becomes able to work longer or exert greater power because of these bodily changes. Individual motor qualities develop in an uneven manner for a number of reasons.

Today coaches and swimmers know how to develop strength effectively, quickly and reliably. The use of significant weights, resistance and biokinectic devices, together with nutritional regime and high intensity training — these are a brief list of strength training methods.

Endurance development methods have appeared successfully, making it possible to increase endurance specifically, mostly because of better classification of training loads and their influence in the athlete’s performance.

Animal experiments and practical sports training experience show that speed develops 3-4 times slower than strength, and 23 times slower than endurance.

How do you explain these facts?

I think that there is no such thing in sprint events as the speed factor limiting the performance but that there is a complicated whole that brings together strength, agility, endurance and flexibility into a multi-component “alloy” which can be called “Individual Highly Efficient Swimming Technique” (IHEFST) or the widely known name — good technique.

Let’s have a look at and compare two kinds of sports — swimming and track and field. Speed in swimming is four times less than in running, so we can use 25 meters lap in swimming and 100 meters in running.

Swimmers in every session can do training sets of 10 x 25 with 2 minutes rest on maximum speed. In the case of Alex Popov, he would do this better than 10 seconds. Can you imagine a track and field athlete doing the same set 10 x l00 with 2 minutes rest, doing 10 seconds each? It is obvious, that a swimmer creates less power and is less exhausted than the runner doing the same sprint high intensity work. What does it mean for us? It simply means we are in the Stone Age with swimming action as we compare to other kinds of human actions such as running.

The future in developing technique in order to increase speed and decrease resistance (active drag), is to increase output (release) the energy of sprinting.

We know from theory that very high speed cyclical exercises are controlled by the cerebral structures that are responsible for automatic movements and are accomplished by means of a clearly formed algorithm. Hence, sharply increasing one element of an already well balanced program can lead to incoordination and interfere with swimming technique.

The modern approach to achieving optimally functioning complex systems in which individual elements have differing degrees of dependence on each other and on the ultimate result is based on systematic structural approach to planning and control and solving two fundamental problems:

  1. Identify the system’s elements, ie. Determine all the factors that influence the result.
  2. Establish inter-relationships between the system’s identified elements.

The following basic components should be present in swimming training systems for sprinters

-competitive model;

– to understand the difference between a given athlete’s basic characteristics and the model’s characteristics;

– the methods of the various training effects (the training means, the volume and intensity of exercises, the sequence in which exercises are used and so on);

– methods of controlling or monitoring the athlete’s condition; calculations of the magnitude and structure of the training loads;

– the principal models of rehabilitation and of supporting the training process.

The number one element of this table is the swimming result. THE ULTIMATE GOAL, whose achievement is supported by action of the whole system. The components, or substances which influence the overall result are defined at the next lower level.

Having a detailed itemization of these secondary components, allows a coach to plan training and conduct it in the most effective way possible. In sprint events, these are measurements that characterize the ‘start’: starting speed (15m); stroke rate and stroke length; velocity of swimming in standard points and the level of decreasing velocity during the race. It is most important to identify when developing long term plan the training strategy factors that prevent the swimmer from attaining a high result. These factors can be divided into two groups:

  1. Stability – to undergo little or no change when subject to training;
  2. Trainable factors.

The model characteristics of training and competitive activity of top level sprinters provide objective values for technique, speed-strength qualities, and energetics. These values are, in essence, the goals to be reached by using specific methods.

Swimmer’s Name: Alexandre Popov

Date of Plan: Wed, Nov 1 1995

MEN’S 100m Freestyle

100m Goal 48.00

First 50m 23.15

Second 50m 24.85

Planning My Goal 100m Time: If I am to reach my goal of 100m Freestyle in 48-00 Time hand touch; I should achieve a best 50m time of 21.90 Time hand touch; I should achieve a best 25m time of 10.80 Time head positon; I should achieve a best 10m Start time of 3.14 Time head position; I should achieve a best 10m Finish time of 4.47 Time hand touch.

Program Structure (Preparation of Cycles)

The AIS Swimming model is based on the concept that each preparation is divided into six (6) or twelve (2 x 6) week cycles. This structure is designed to permit an adaptation process involving general, specific and competitive phases.

The following general structure is suggested for each coaching group. It is intended that individual groups will have the flexibility to tailor their program for specific purposes.

Based on this format it is possible to conduct 4 x 12 week cycles each year giving a 4 week rest period each year.

The volume for each 12 week cycle would be approximately 500-600 km (i.e. an average of 40-50 km per week) which gives an annual volume of approximately 2000-2500km. Again this may change depending on the requirements of specific coaching groups.


Selling Your Coaching by Dr. Don Greene (1996)

Selling Your Coaching by Dr. Don Greene (1996)

Dr. Don Greene has been the Sports Psychologist with the 1984 Olympic Diving Team and the 1986 World Championship Swimming Team, and has also served on staff with the Mission Viejo Nadadores, the Mission Bay Makos and the Fort Lauderdale Swim Team. A former competitive swimmer, he has taught optimal teaching strategies and sales training for instructors at the Vail and Beaver Creek Ski Schools, Winter park Ski School, Golf Digest School and the American Race Car Driving School. In the past three years, Dr. Greene has developed an integrated sports psychology assessment system for athletes, teachers and coaches.

We’re going to be talking about selling your ideas, selling your coaching, selling your program, and selling you as an innovative coach. What I would like to know is what you would like to get out of this session or the problems that give you the most difficulty in either dealing with kids, or dealing with parents, or maybe assistant coaches. Does anything come to mind?

Questions: How do you sell your program in terms of high level performers and developmental swimmers? How do you get their attention?

Let’s talk about communication and selling your ideas. When we’re talking about selling your ideas or selling your coaching we are going to talk about communication of your ideas to somebody else with an edge. In other words you want to get some sort of movement out of them. If you think of your interactions with sales people every time you walk into a store, every time you buy an airline ticket, every time you have an interaction you have an opportunity to see good people or people that don’t know how to do it. I’d like to tell you how to do it properly and then have you convert it into your coaching as we go.

The basis that we are going to talk about is based on a relationship — a very important relationship between you and the swimmer or you and the parent or you and the committee that you are addressing in terms of first establishing a relationship and then based upon that solid relationship getting your ideas across and getting into an advantage position so you come out winning. How do you do that? There is a very simple straight forward program of formula that will give you that. It may not at first seem to be spectacular but believe me it works. It is very simple and straightforward.

The first step is connecting — connecting with the person you’re trying to communicate with. As Don Swartz says, nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. You have a much better position to sell your coaching, sell your program, sell your ideas, if you show an interest in them and you are generally sincerely interested in them in what they want. So connecting between you and another person. How do you do that? It need not take a long time. But again if you go into a store and you get a friendly greeting, a sales person that seems interested in you, a person that seems interested in finding what you want, which is a real key, is already establishing an advantage. But on the other hand they could care less about you, they don’t seem to be interested in you, you seem to be bothering them, you might very well — even though you want something from that store you — might as well just turn around and walk out and find another store.

So the most advantageous thing you can do is start off properly with connecting with that person. Call them by name, look them in the eye, smile, and show an interest in them as the first step.

The other step, although you have in your mind what you want to provide for them, what you want to give to them, what you want to sell them is one of the basic rules of sales and it is what every good sales person sees — a big sign on the forehead of the person they are trying to communicate with. Does anybody know what the sign says? It says, “What’s in it for me?” What do they get out of it? Because if they don’t have anything to get out of it you are not in the position to offer them anything and offer as opposed to sell because what you want to do is offer. If they have nothing to get from it you have nothing to offer them. So number one is connect with them with a view towards understanding their motivation. What they are looking for?

If you are trying to get past a problem with a swimmer, a swimmer that is maybe a behavioral problem, a swimmer that misses a lot of workouts or comes to work out late, or a parent in your program that is a continuing problem, you need to know what their motivation is.

The other thing that you want to do up first after connecting is clearly state the problem or situation if at all possible in one sentence or maybe two. Clearly state the problem or situation as you see it. Not with an emotional edge but just clearly stating a difficulty that is arising between you two. That is step Number 1. So you’re going to connect, think in terms of what they have to gain and also a clear statement or clear definition of the problem or the situation you are hoping to remedy, solve or make better.

Question: All of those come under number one?

Yes, they clearly come under Number 1. Connect, try to understand what is in it for them, what do they have to gain for this interaction. It might be resolving the problem or just clearly stating a situation that you’re hoping to make better.

That is Number 1. It need not take a long time but if you bypass this statement they may just see that you are trying to manipulate them and move something pass them that they are not in favor of. So the idea is to make sure that you are on rock solid ground with your relationship, of showing your concern for them, getting consensual validation that they understand what the situation is that you want to solve and trying to see it from their point of view as well.

Number 2. It is very important that you see their point of view. Number 2 is listen to their response and what they want. Listen to their response to what you just said in terms of stating the problem and see what their initial feelings and perceptions of the problem are. It is very important that you listen with an open mind and one of the rules of listening is that you listen totally and don’t interrupt. After you stated your initial opening, stating the problem and definition of the problem and situation it is very important that you listen without interruption and see what they say. If you walk into a department store for a pair of Nikes and say, “I want a pair of Nikes” and the salesperson immediately leaves and goes into the back room chances are, when they come back they are going to bring you back something you don’t want. And the rule of sales is that it is hard to sell something they don’t want. This is not hard sales this is soft sales. This should hopefully make you feel comfortable about what you are doing. But if you just state one sentence and they leave you, they haven’t listened to you, they don’t know exactly what you want. It is hard to sell somebody on something they don’t exactly want. So the second step in this process is that after stating this situation or problem that you put on the table the idea is to then listen to their response.

The key to good sales is listening to what they have to say. The more they tell you, the more advantage you have to sell them on your ideas, your coaching, and your program. The more you understand exactly what they want the more you can give it to them. Let me say that again, it is real important. After stating the initial situation or problem, the more you understand and listen to what they have to say about what they want, their perspective, their problems, their resistance up front, the better you understand that, the better you can deal with it and overcome it. So the second and really important step is listening without interruption. Make sure that you hear them fully. Step 2 — listen fully to their needs and wants.

After they’ve finished you still don’t have enough information. Number 3 is to question them for more information about their perspectives, needs and wants, problems, resistances, objections, and complaints. The more information they give you the better position you are in to sell whatever you are trying to convince them of or sell them on your program. We want to understand them fully. Chances are they are they can’t tell you all you need to know just by listening to them. So you are going to direct them.

The way you are going to direct them is with three questions. Number 1 is fact-finding questions. Ask them about the facts, ask them about the details. Make sure you understand all the facts from their point of view. Again the better you understand it from their point of view and the facts that they have to deal with that are in their mind the better position you are in to overcome those. So question number one is going to be fact-finding questions.

Number 2: Feeling-finding questions. Besides the left brain facts that are in their mind you also want to get more right brain in terms of how they feel about it. Are they feeling happy about it, sad about it, angry about it, very mad about it, distressed about it, anxious about it? The more you understand how they are feeling besides the facts that go with how they have their perspective, the better you find out about how they are feeling about it and why they feel that way, the better position you are in to affect them.

Another rule of sales is that people buy emotionally and justify it rationally. You do not buy a Porche Carerra for regular transportation. You buy a Porche because it makes you feel wonderful. The secret of sales is understanding the feelings behind their motives. The better you understand how they feel about their position, what’s coloring their perspective, the better you understand that, the more advantage of position you are going to be in.

Number 3 are open-ended questions. Again, what we are trying to do is get more information. Open-ended questions that are not going to be answered by a yes or no should give you the rest of the information you need to be in a powerful position. Again, try not to interrupt. You are going to listen and listen to them fully. Let them talk.

Step number 4 is to validate what they’ve told you. Summarize what they have said. Summarize the facts they’ve given you, summarize their feelings, and summarize whatever information you’ve gotten out of open-ended questions. What you are looking for them to give you is a nod, a yes. So you finish the validation asking, “Am I understanding you correctly? Are you saying…?”

Another rule of sales is that you always want the person to be saying yes at least three or four times before you ask them the big question. (We are not yet to the big question.) One of the first yes’s you are going to get is hopefully to your question, “Am I understanding you correctly? You said…and you feel…and also you want me to know… Is that correct?” “Yes.” It is very hard to sell people without a full understanding of their needs, their wants, and their motivations. What you are feeding them back, hopefully, is a reflection that you have listened to what they’ve said. You understand what they want with a yes as a response. So this validation, this fourth step finishes hopefully with at least one yes from them if not more than one yes to show them that you understand where they are coming from what they want and what their interests are.

At that step you are in a very advantageous position. You’ve now listened to what they’ve said, confirmed that it is true and shown them and gotten your first yes. Now we go into providing.

Number 5 provide. After getting your first yes you want to tell them your own feelings about it. So first tell them your own feelings. Second, tell them what you want, tell them your desires, your wants, and your motivations. Now the critical aspect is creatively find a happy meeting ground between what they want and what you want, between what they want and what you have to offer, what they want and how your program can satisfy those needs. State it clearly. It is very important at this point that you state the benefits, not the features. This is the bottom line secret in sales. Show how it can help them. If we go back to the initial sign on their head that asked, “What is in it for me?” Then after you have listened to them, you have to show them what the benefits are for them buying this, for their moving this direction, for their changing to your own opinion you’ve got to show them a benefit.

A rule of psychology is if there is not benefit for them, if they get no gain out of it, they are not going to do it. You have got to creatively find a way to satisfy their needs and wants which also coincide with what you want. If you can find that happy meeting ground it is a done deal. So this last step is after you know what they want and show them how your program can provide that not with features but with benefits.

Let me explain this to you. Any time you go to buy something you are interested in, what it is going to do for you? What the sales person has at the tip of their fingers is all the features of their product. The best way to explain it to you is this way: You go into a store to buy a computer to word process. You want a glorified typewriter to write your letters. That is all you want, an easy way to write letters. If you reach a bad salesperson and tell them you want a computer to write letters they will start naming features. Anybody computer literate and can name some features of a computer. 8 megabytes of memory, so many bytes of RAM, gigabyte hard drives, microprocessors, megahertz, and so on.

You could care less about those features. All you want is a benefit, namely something to write your business letters better than a typewriter. You want the benefits of that and you could care less about the features. Good salespeople talk only in terms of benefits, what is in it for the customer.

The easiest thing you can do as a swimming coach when somebody calls you about your program is tell them that you have so many lanes, you have this dryland training equipment, you do this and this. All they want to do is have their child swim better. If you start rattling off technical terms to a non-swimming parent, you are giving them features. It is very easy for you to rattle off about the pool, the program, the hours, and so on but all they want is what you are going to do for them — not how many lanes you have, what type of pool it is, but can their child swim better in your program. If you keep that in mind you have the number one rule in sales. Talk in terms of benefits.

What I’m going to ask you to do right now is write out some benefits of what you’re trying to sell to the people out there who are wanting your coaching, your program, your ideas. Watch out for features. Think in terms of who you are trying to sell it to and write out three statements or five statements only in terms of benefits. In other words, what does it do for them? This is real important to have at your fingertips so let’s get it down right now.

Suggestions from the group: Offer year round program. Teach self-discipline and responsibility. Help the child with goal-setting, and foster great relationships with other children. Foster great relationships. Foster life-long enjoyment of the sport. Excellent group for your child to be around. Long term development.

Benefits that will appeal to parents. Stroke technique may be close to a feature but when you identify it with a professional attitude of American Red Cross or Swim America, parents identify that with their children improving their own stroke techniques. Improving their swimming. Family oriented program where we get the total families involved with the programs as well as the swimmers. I’ll buy that as a benefit.

How about learning to do backstroke, freestyle, butterfly, etc. Is that a feature or benefit? It is a feature. Faster turns? Feature or benefit? Feature. Make National cut times? Feature. Learn how to swim better, have fun. Benefit.

We are half way there. Five steps in the process so far. Connect with the person, listen to their wants and needs and motivations. Question them to get even more information in terms of facts, feelings, and even more information with open-ended questions. Validate to them what they’ve told you and make sure you get a yes as a response. If you get a no then you have to clarify it and get a yes response. And then you provide in terms of benefits not features.

We are going to go on to objections and complaints in a second but I’d like you to try this out. I’d like you to try with the person sitting next to you to come up with real problems that you’re presented with and use those. I’d like you each to try it for about two minutes each and get used to the five step process and see how it works. Try as much as possible to do a real live situation that you are confronted with in your swimming program all the time.

This five step process is in every sales program, every sales book and with every good sales person you meet. It may seem simple. It works really well with kids, it works with your parent groups, and it works with assistant coaches. When you go into stores notice what happens. The good people who have learned this system will be effective with you and the others won’t. You have to understand where the person’s coming from, show your concern for their point of view, understand it completely so you can offer what you have which is your features, but not in terms of features but converting, translating the features into benefits. You have to show them the advantage, otherwise they are not going to go for it.

Question: Lots of times parents develop objections to what is going on in the program and harbor those feelings, fester them, talk about them in parking lots with their friends, create a little group, harmonize it together and before you know it they’re out the door and you never even had a chance to address their concerns. How do we identify those building objections? What are the telltale signs?

Let’s talk about objections and complaints right now. It follows the same sort of format that the first thing you want to do is not back up. You want to take a step forward with them and seek them out whether it is a group or an individual but actually go to find them because they have information that you need and want. Until you fully understand it you can’t deal with the problem. Complaints are good, because as long as they are complaining, they are invested. As long as they are objecting you still have them.

Another rule of sales is the worst statement of “no” are footsteps out the door. The person isn’t even invested enough to complain or object, they just walk away. So as long as they are complaining or objecting you still have a possibility of resolving it. What you don’t want to do is to back up or ignore the problem — you want to confront the problem. You want to talk to that person or set up a parent’s group meeting so you can better understand what the issue is because chances are if they are talking behind your back, not in your presence, it just festers and you don’t know what is going on. So the first thing you want to do is address the problem. Don’t back up, confront the person. Not in a nasty way but say, “Listen, I understand there is a problem here.” Back to step number 1. “Can we talk about it?” Not from a defensive point of view but from a point of view of understanding so you can solve it, so you can reach some kind of conclusion or resolution. So step number 1 is to address the problem and connect with the person. They have information that will help you resolve it. Number 2, listen to them. Listen to what their issue is. Try to fully understand it. After you listen to them without interruption, Number 3, question them. Get more information. Try to fully understand it. The better you understand what the problem is and also at the same time the better that you listen so that they feel like they are understood and listened to, you can start reaching a solution. So you are going to question them. After you question them with the three types of questions you are going to validate it. Number 4. Go back to saying OK, I understand what your objection is. I think I fully understand what your complaint is in terms of facts, feelings or any other information that they give you. Make sure that you get a yes that will hopefully start to diffuse some of the emotions that may be behind it. Number 5. Then try to provide.

Now there are four different types of complaints or objections that we are going to identify. Number 1, misconception. Part of the complaint or objection may be a misconception. They may just not understand. If you listen long enough you may hear that they don’t understand. And the whole problem may just be a miscommunication of mis-understood ideas between you and them. Clarify and explain will often this will resolve the problem if it is a misconception. Explain your position, explain the rules of your team. Clarify why you do this. Clarify what the rules are and why they are as they are. They may just say “Oh, I didn’t understand.” That’s the problem. Again if you question them, if you listen to them, if you validate back to them you are in a great position to resolve the misconception simply by clarifying and explaining. So number 1. If it is a misconception, clarify and explain.

The second objection or second complaint is skepticism. I’m not sure why I should stay with your program, I’m not sure why I should keep my kid involved in your age group program. You need to prove this. Prove your position. Prove the quality of your program through examples, through facts, through references. Give examples, facts, and references not your personal opinion. “Oh I think we have a great team.” That will mean nothing to them. So what I would like you to do right now is state factually some of the references of your program and some of the facts behind your program. You need to have this at your fingertips. Things like how many kids have made senior cuts, junior cuts, or how many kids made it to the last JO’s. Give what your program has done in terms of facts, examples and references that you can cite. I would like again for you to write out three to five of these factual examples that you can have your fingertips so that when they come to you with skepticism about your program you can cite these off the top of your head. Please write some of those out now. Remember that facts and references should relate back to your benefits. That would be great if you can do that. If you can convert these examples, references and facts into benefits, you’ve got it.

Number 3 is called the “real drawback.” If they are presenting you something like, “Well the other team has morning and afternoon open pool times but you only have in the afternoon.” Again if you listen to what their needs are, their desires, their wants, and where they are coming from, hopefully you can show them the big picture. Citing references, facts and show them how the advantages of your program outweigh the disadvantages. They’re giving you the disadvantage. You don’t have open pool time in the morning. Show them the advantage of your program. “Yes, we don’t have open pool time in the mornings, but…” Then again give them the benefits not the features. Give them the benefits and cite the examples, references of why your program is so good. That is number 3.

Number 4 is a real complaint. You need to listen to it and make them feel like they’re being understood which may start to resolve the complaint in the first place. Which is a lot of people’s complaints is that nobody listens to their complaint. Find a plan of action. Find something that you can do after listening to them that will satisfy their objection or complaint. I found in dealing with parents that when you listen to a real complaint and you have the ability or tell them right up front that as mature adults you can agree to disagree then things will go better. Agreeably disagree after you have listened to their complaint. Again in terms of complaints most people simply want to be heard. That will take care of it. If it doesn’t take care of it find a plan of action that will satisfy it even if the plan of action is that their child does go to another team. Dealing with objections and complaints follows the same program. Don’t back up, connect with them, don’t get defensive, show them that you are interested in what they have to say, listen to them, get more information, question them, validate their feelings, make sure that they say yes so that they are feeling like they are being understood, and start to find solutions.

If it is skepticism show them references, cite examples, and prove to them why your program is good. If it is a misconception, after listening to them, you’ll understand their misconception better. Clarify and explain. If it is a real drawback, if they are right in what they are saying, yes you do have a drawback and so it is very important that you recognize that, show them the big picture, how the advantages outweigh the disadvantages that they are bringing up. Number 4 if it is a real complaint, make sure you hear it, make sure you listen to it, ask them more about it, try to find some plan of action to resolve it.

The essential element of sales is communication. As long as you can keep the lines of communication open you have an advantage.

What I would like you to think about right now is to imagine you are sitting at your desk and getting a call from a parent who says they heard about your program. “I’ve got a twelve year old. Can you tell me about your program?” Please don’t start telling them about your program. What do you do? No, you ask them about their kid. Because unless at that point you show a concern about their child they may immediately perceive that you could care less about their child and that you just want to push your program on them. So when they ask you to tell them about your program the worst thing you could do is say, “Well we have a 50 meter pool competition pool, we’ve got a warm up pool, we’ve got eight lanes, we’ve got…” They could care less. They want to know that you are interested in their child. “Tell me about your program.” “I’ll be happy to, tell me about our child…” Does their child swim, have previous lessons? What do they want for their child? What do they want to get out of it? Do they want them just to learn how to swim, or do they want them to be in a competitive program? Ask me more about the child, how he is doing in school, etc. Listen, question them about facts, previous swimming experience. What kind of feeling does the kid want? Does he want to have fun, does he want to be with other kids, what do they want for their child? Do they want him to increase his self-esteem, what kind of feeling do they want him to come home with, a feeling of satisfaction, what else would they like?

“Ok, as I understand it you have a twelve-year old who hasn’t had swimming lessons, you want him to swim, you might want him to go into competitive swimming, you want him to have fun, and you want him to increase his self-esteem. Guess what, we have it. The benefits are he’ll get it. Does that sound good to you? Good.” Is that easy? That is it. If you listen to them and not jump in with what you have to offer, make sure that you understand what they want, you can provide that. If you can convince them that you heard them and can provide them with what they want, it is a done deal. That is how it works. If in the process they bring up skepticism about your program, address it with facts, references, cite your coaching staff, the records of your swimmers, etc. If it is a real drawback point out the big picture, how the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. This works with parents calling you about your program, it works with a ten-year old on the pool deck who hasn’t been coming to work out on time. State the problem, listen to what he or she says, and ask him questions about it – same program. It works very effectively.


Power Training and Maintenance by Jim Richardson & Nort Thornton (1996)

Power Training and Maintenance by Jim Richardson & Nort Thornton (1996)

Jim Richardson has distinguished himself as one of the finest swimming coaches in the nation. In 11 years with Michigan Swimming, Richardson has taken them from being “middle of the pack” to one of the elite and most respected teams in the country. Jim Richardson enters his 12th season as Michigan’s head women’s swimming coach. Under Richardson, the Wolverines have dominated the Big ten Conference, winning 10 straight conference titles from 1987 through 1996, a precedence among women’s sports teams in the Big Ten. His teams have placed among the NCAA’s Top 8 in nine of the last 10 seasons, and in the Top 3 at the NCAA Championships. Thirty-two Wolverines have earned NCAA All-American status under Richardson. An ardent believer in the student-athlete, Richardson coached 1992 and 1994 teams that earned College Swimming Coaches Association of American National All-Academic team recognition. Fourteen women were named 1995 Academic All-Big Ten. He has served as both president of the Board of Directors for the CSCAA. Richardson earned his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University, and a graduate degree from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Richardson resides in Ann Arbor with his wife, Mary Sue, and their four children.

Nort Thornton has been the coach at the University of California for over twenty years. Thornton’s office is a testimony to his coaching ability with NCAA trophies, Olympic banners, photos of his world record holders, and mementos that span through his long and illustrious career. Coach Thornton was honored for all of his accomplishments with his induction at the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1995. Thornton has led the Bears to two national championships, 18 Top-10 finishes at the NCAA championships, a stellar cast of All Americans and an even more impressive collection of Olympians including world record holder Matt Biondi. Since Thornton took over the Bear program, 30 Cal. athletes have represented several countries in the Olympic Games, winning 24 medals, including 11 gold, 8 silver, and 5 bronze. He was a past president for ASCA and currently serves on the ASCA Board of Directors and is a past member of the NCAA Rules Committee. Thornton has a degree in education and a master’s degree from Stanford University. He and his wife Carla have three sons, Richard, Marc and Gregg.

Jim Richardson: I feel really privileged to be speaking at the same time with Nort Thornton. I have such a tremendous amount of respect for Nort, the work that he’s done and not so much the work that he’s done but how he does it and what he builds into the lives of the young people that he works with. I believe very much that if all this sport is about is teaching somebody to go from here to there and back again faster and that’s the only value in it then thanks I’ll find something else to do with my life. I believe that through swimming and through sport we can teach people about life. I was watching TV last night and watching the documentary on Bill Buckner and about his coming back from cancer to make the Dodger team. He may not be really an effective athlete for them at the top the way he once was, but when you listen to their great stars on the team and how they are affected by what Bill has done in attempting to recover from the adversity of cancer you know he was effective in other ways. One of them was saying, “You know, I come off the field and I have a sore elbow and I have a sore knee and a sore back and I start to complain and I look around and I see Bill Buckner and I think to myself ‘I have no room to complain here’.” So I am constantly inspired by people who do sport the right way. That’s one of the reasons I have so much respect for Nort because I have respect for the athletes whose lives he’s touched.

So we’re going to talk today about strength and power training for collegiate women. I ran across something on the internet I want to show you. Holy Moly, I’ve never seen biceps and triceps like that on a woman. I don’t know whether that was natural or unnatural. There wasn’t a spot to send an e-mail to this woman but maybe it shows what’s possible. I don’t know whether that would be very good in swimming but I just thought it was a pretty funky picture.

In preparing for talks like this I try to seek out experts. On our campus we have a lot of experts at the University of Michigan in a lot of different fields and so I sought out one of our lesser known researchers and he seemed to have some time on his hands. When you seek out these people you need to strive to meet them on their level so that you can try to relate to where they are to what you’re doing. So I dropped in at this gentleman’s office and I said I had this theory about mass that there’s a finite amount of mass in the universe and when I’m losing weight then that means that somebody else is gaining weight and when I’m gaining they’re losing and I would like some help and he just sat there and looked at me. I thought to myself that was a bad idea, bad idea. So I asked him, “How would you like to spend some time working with people like this and helping them to get stronger?” He said, “Well! I think I might be interested in that, that might be a pretty good thing.”

So, in all honesty, I spent a lot of time reading Orjan Madsen’s material because I like what Orjan does. He’s very much like Jim Hay who I’ve spent a lot of time with at the University of Iowa and Jim has a wonderful gift in biomechanics to break sport movement down into components and from those components you decide what you can address and maybe what you can’t address and then you look at the tools that are available to you to try to effect change.

I do want to say from the start that I think I agree with Jimmy Tierny. I think people who coach mature females are really on the cutting edge, in terms of seeing whether what they’re doing, their treatment and their stresses are really having a profound affect because they’re about the only group in the spectrum in swimming who are not affected by either growth hormone or large amounts of natural testosterone.

We spend a lot of time talking about improvements in people. Do you remember Skip Foster’s talk in Hawaii at the World Coaches Clinic? He talked about Zubero and his progression in breaking the world record in the 200 meter backstroke. Skip included the demographic data on Zubero. When he came to Florida he was six feet tall and 165 pounds. When he broke the world’s record he was 6’3″, 190. Skip was brutally honest and said, “I think maybe the best thing I did was I didn’t ruin him.” Well, when you’re coaching collegiate women they’re not doing that. They’re not growing. And so we have to be, I think, critically sure of what we’re doing with them because we don’t have testosterone or growth hormone to bail us out if we make a mistake.

This is how Madsen breaks down the roles of strength training in developing competitive swimming performance. He talks about strength endurance, maximum strength and strength speed. I think what he’s really talking about explosive power. I don’t think it’s that important for you to know this, I just wanted to show in terms of how it fits in. You can buy his book Coaching the Young Swimmer. This graph comes from there and I like it because I see it as being a foundation. It fits me visually to fit into the foundation of where strength and power development comes in developing swimming speed.

I think it’s important for us to be on the same page in terms of definitions of terminology. In our program, when we talk about maximum strength, we’re just simply talking about the greatest possible voluntary contraction of a muscle exerted against a relative maximal resistance. In other words, one repetition max. Your maximum strength. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get it up. It’s just your maximum strength.

Strength endurance is the ability of muscles to meet the demand of a specific resistance and duration. I probably should underline duration because duration is a factor there. Even a 50 yard freestyle requires strength endurance. If it’s 22 seconds for a woman and 19 seconds for a man there is a component of strength endurance there that is different from a one rep max. And then we get into explosive power which is simply the ability of a muscle or muscles to overcome resistance through a maximal rapid contraction. I used to go back and look at my physics book for the definition of power and what I found was work divided by time. Work being equal to force and force equal to mass times acceleration times distance and all of that. The key factor that I came out with all that was acceleration. Being able to accelerate, to apply force very, very rapidly. And so these are the kinds of things that have been running through my mind.

I was a member of the American Strength Coaches Association for about five years. I was out of coaching for two years. I started coaching in 1971 and never assistant coached under anybody. I read books — just read read read read. I corresponded with Tom McLaughlin who was the head strength coach at Auburn University when Eddie Reese was coaching Auburn and a skinny little freshman by the name of Rowdy Gaines showed up there. I remember talking to Tom the year that Rowdy went 1:32 or 1:33 for the 200 free. Rowdy, at a body weight of 165, could behind the neck lat pull-down with 280 pounds. I thought that was pretty good. I thought that was pretty good cause I could bench about 290 at a body weight of 155 and could only lat pull about 210 and I thought that was pretty awesome.

The two years that I was out of coaching I actually weight trained under an Olympic coach and really enjoyed that and learned a lot about strength training — not so much about power but about strength training. A lot of the myths that we think about weight lifters, that they’re not very explosive. I saw these guys do incredible things. Guys that were 5’9″ or 5’10” stand flat footed under a basketball net and do a 2 handed dunk. They were very explosive, very powerful and also very, very strong. So I don’t pretend to have all the answers but I know I’ve seen a lot and try to take what I’ve seen and use it appropriately with the people that I have.

The next thing to do once you understand the areas of strength and power that you’re trying to address is you want to take a look at the equipment that you have. What are the tools that you have available? Then decide how you want to use those tools. If you have weights, if you have a Vasa trainer, if you have swim benches, if you have jump rope: rather than give them a lot of stuff to do and just work them, work them, work them, I think you want to try to break down your equipment into one of those three categories. How are we using this equipment? Are we using it to develop maximum strength or are we using it to develop strength endurance or are we using it to develop explosive power? Yes, you can use some equipment for multiple purposes. I think you want to have a very clear plan in your mind of the equipment that you have available and then how you plan to use it throughout the season.

Take that equipment and make some decisions about your season: where you’re going to do it, how intense you’re going to do it, when you’re going to cut it off and have reasons why. I don’t want to go into that specifically, I’d rather leave that open for q & a at the end because I think you’ve got so much equipment and that everybody’s different.

In my program the basic equipment that we’re utilizing is the weights, Vasa trainer, circuit, aerobics and the bio kinetic swim bench. For us the bio kinetic swim bench really doesn’t come into play in our program until we get back from Christmas training. We don’t use it at all for a semester. We use Vasa for a semester but you notice that we do not use it into our second semester. Weights we’ll use first semester and we use weights all the way through for some people. The circuit work which I’ll talk about in a little bit doesn’t start until we get into Christmas training and then we follow through with it at the end. I have set reasons for why I want to use certain types of apparatuses at certain points of the season and then discard them and exchange them.

One reason I don’t use Vasa second semester (we may use it for some kids who need to get that feel from a strength standpoint but not from a power development standpoint) because I don’t think you can move fast enough on a vasa trainer to develop power. I think you can on the bio kinetic swim bench. (Or with stretchtech tubing, for those of you who can’t afford $1500 for a swim bench you can afford $19 or $20 for stretchtech tubing.)

This will give me a good opportunity to explain where we are in our program this year versus 2 years ago. Two years ago, in the fall we did 2 things: we did aerobics 3 days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and we did weights Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I do a weight program where we do legs one day and then we do arms and shoulders, and then we do torso, chest and back on other days. We do a 3 day cycle like that and we’re trying to get good performance out of them in the weight room.

Some of our kids only go into the weight room one day per week and that’s all they need. I learned that my first year at Michigan when I had Christie Vedez who came in as a 1:05 flat and 2:18 in the breaststrokes. I got her to the point where she could do lat pull downs with 180 pounds and was stronger than she’d ever been in her life and she went from a 1:05 flat to a 1:06.3 and 2:18 to 2:20. Thank you. The next year, I only let her go in the weight room one day a week and she changed from weights to doing surgical tubing. We did a lot more power work and worked on some flexibility. She was a lot cleaner in her swimming, didn’t bunch up, and didn’t get tight at the end. She went 1:03 and 2:17 and we really didn’t change that much of what we were doing in the water, I think a lot of it had to do with how we changed her dryland program.

So, this is kind of our set up for the season and how we operate. We don’t do anything that’s very fancy at Michigan. I do believe at the beginning of the season in doing sets for the distance people of longer reps and we may even go 3 sets of 15 or something like that. I love pyramiding — decrease reps and increase weight in order to get stronger. I really like it and it’s really worked well for me and so a lot of our kids to whom strength is important and that may be the short axis strokes as well as the sprinters, I believe in pyramiding. You can tell here that our sprinters tend to do fewer reps but we’re asking them to lift more weight to be stronger. Our sprinters do a lot of body weight work particularly with pull-ups, but I never do overload pull-ups. I do not ask them to pull with a weight belt around their waist and stack on weight. I think Melissa Stone this year was our best pull up person. She could do 27 pull ups on her first attempt and then everybody else would go through and on her second attempt could go 25. We did them both ways just for touching every base that we could touch. They would do sets where they’d go 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. They took a lot of pride in their pullups.

We start our circuit program when we’re in our Christmas training. This past year we did circuit and didn’t do aerobics. It tore us up. We were not as fast in the water in the fall, so we’re dropping the circuit this year until second semester and we’re replacing it with aerobics with floor work. We go about an hour and 15 minutes aerobics, 45 minutes of it is aerobics and then about 1/2 hour of it is floor work doing either legs and abs or arms and abs depending on the day. I think that’s a terrific thing for most of the kids in the program.

We will also use the stretchtech tubing and we do French curls, isometric stroke, catch, finish, full stroke, recovery stroke and rolling. Dr. Tom Lindenfeld, who’s an orthopedic surgeon in Cincinnati, clued me in on women and rhomboids. He said those of you who coach mature women need to be aware of their rhomboid strength because if their rhomboids are weak, you are asking for shoulder impingement. You’re going to see that shoulder rolling forward like this and it’s because your scapulas and rhomboids are too weak. He said men don’t have as much of a problem because they tend to be stronger upper body than women. He believes that women need to spend a lot more time doing rowing exercises to strengthen their scapulas and rhomboids. We’ve started doing that over the last 2 years and I feel very comfortable with that. It seems to make a lot of sense to me. That’s why we have rowing here and we do a fair amount of rowing in the weight room also.

For jump rope we use regular rope, heavy rope, and the mini trampoline. I like the little minis tramps you can pick up at Kmart for $30. We’ll have people jump rope on the mini tramps because it doesn’t shock your system as much. It doesn’t jar your joints as badly as landing on concrete or wherever you’re working and they are relatively inexpensive.

We also use hydro fitness equipment. I used to dislike it because it doesn’t give you the kind of feedback you get from stacking weight on. It’s more of an internal feedback about how hard you’re working. However, now I like hydro fitness because it resists in opposition and I really believe in that — building a balanced strength. We have several hydro fitness machines we use.

I really believe in abdominal strength building a good overall athlete. We do situps a lot. We do a lot of knee lifts including hanging knee lifts. We’ll hang and then we’ll talk, and bring the knees up this way and bring them this way and bring them this way to get lower abs and while you’re doing that you’re also getting grip strength which I think is also very important for women.

We do dips but I’m careful with dips. You can mess up those shoulders when you’re doing dips ahead of that humerus especially with those people who have unstable shoulders. The head of that humerus can start sliding around a lot and you can ruin a kid if you’re doing the wrong kinds of things with them there.

We do a lot of work with medicine ball at Michigan. We’ve got kind of a rich tradition of that and we do a fair amount of medicine ball work.

Well, this is all obviously strength endurance and you could see the durations of the circuit: one minute on, 15 seconds off is the longest that we. We’ll be on the circuit for an hour.

We do all of our dryland work after workout, not before, except when we’re in Christmas training. When you do it before workout, and then you ask them to swim it can be ugly, really ugly. We’ll start out at 15/45, build up to 30/30, 40/20, 60/:15. And then take it back down into taper.

These are typical power exercises that we’ll do on the bio kinetic swim bench or stretchtech. They’re just like swim sets. You’re just doing work and recovery sets. The settings that we use on the bio kinetic bench are 4 to 6 for the middle distance type people and the sprinters on some things I’ll ask them to go 8 or 9 where they’re getting very heavy resistance and then we’ll work them down to where we want them to go fast too. So the bio kinetic bench has a lot of flexibility. But we have a different protocol for sprinters, middle distance and distance people.

I do believe in using a metronome. You find one at your local music store. Seiko and a couple other companies make these little clicking, flashing metronomes. There’s plenty of data available on stroke rates. I believe in setting stroke rates with this equipment at 7 to 10 percent faster than what they’re going to do in a race for overload purposes. You adapt them to levels that are higher than what they’re going to have to encounter during the race. Then try to build in sets like this on your dryland so that you’re developing a type of muscular strength endurance and, to a degree, power that’s going to allow them to improve their ability to hold that in a race.

I can think of a breaststroker we had, Ann Callton, who did a lot of work on breaststroke insweep. When we do the bio kinetic bench, we don’t have our breaststrokers doing this because our philosophy at this point in breaststroke is that you are riding the speed from your kick. Where you need to be powerful and strong in breaststroke is from here to here on the insweep. And so all of our breaststroke work is done like this: we’ll get one paddle from one machine and one paddle from the other machine and we’ll sit on the ground and we’ll pull from out to in just working the insweep — that’s where we work breaststroke, not on the catch.

A typical training week will look something like this. On Monday morning we’ll go primarily a pulling and kicking workout and the intensity of that will vary depending upon where we are in the season. We try to hit 2 weeks in November where we just kill them. About one week out from that we may be at about 65,000 yards with our middle distance people who can tolerate that kind of work. Then we’ll drop down to 50k for one week and then we’re going to come back to 75k for 2 weeks in a row, and anybody we see failing, we’ll pull them out of that. I don’t want to take a chance on losing somebody to mono or some other illness. It starts getting cold and dark in Michigan at that time, they’re near midterms, they’re staying up late studying, and you’ve really got to keep your finger on the pulse. But we’ll go hard for 2 weeks and then we’ll rest for about 10 days. This year we’re going to Miami of Ohio and we’ll see if we can get some cuts out of the way. I was kidding with Jimmy Tierny earlier this year, he’s got a great team coming back to Northwestern, and I said this may be the year that we don’t win Big 10’s. I said if we don’t I think we could be great at NCAA’s because that means we’ll be slow at BIG 10’s because we won’t need to swim fast there. So that’s our plan this year.

Then Monday afternoon we generally do a threshold type set. We follow that up with either a circuit or aerobics depending on whether its first semester or second semester — second semester being circuit, first semester being aerobics. By Tuesday morning, we’ll do a water circuit, usually that’s second semester. The water circuit will incorporate buckets, it will be kicking with shoes, vertical kicking with weights, and pulling sets with paddles. Then in the afternoon we’ll do what we call active rest sets where, for example, you’ll swim 150 at a certain speed, then swim an easy 50, then as soon as you come back and touch you’re gone again. We do a lot of 50 plus 50’s like that. We’ll ask them to go fast for a 50, and then they swim a 50 easy. Come in easy, touch, look at the clock, then you’re gone again. You’d be surprised how fast kids will swim on that type of a set.

Wednesday morning we’ll go a pull and kick water circuit in the second semester. We tend to do VO2 max or lactate on Wednesday afternoon. Thursday, again water circuit, at threshold. Saturday we’ll take what’s left. When you see that they’re failing, I’m a great believer in having them descend. I don’t ask them to get on it right from the start particularly on VO2 max sets.

So that’s our general training plan and it obviously varies when we get into specific work for sprinters versus middle distance and distance. Here’s a typical training day at Michigan: 6:00 to 8 of water time in the morning; in the afternoon 2-2:20 for abs and loosen up before workout; 2:30-4:30 the afternoon workout; then 4:45-5:45 optional dryland. It is optional because we can only mandate 20 hours a week. (But I don’t recruit people who don’t do options.) If you’re going to be good, you’ve got to be willing to do more than what’s required and it hasn’t hurt our GPA. We were 3.23 as a team last year with 4 academic all-Americans and one honorable mention. It has a lot to do with recruiting people who want to do that.

We do a water circuit program. We do this beginning second semester and while we do a lot of power work with the bio kinetic swim bench and surgical tubing, I think this is where the rubber meets the road. I think you’ve got to do things in the water that are developing quickness and explosiveness. I’m trying to learn because, by nature, I’m a middle distance, distance based coach. I’ve been fortunate to have some good sprinters, some of them 3 or 4 years ago but I just trained the speed right out of them. They did great 200’s but I really missed the boat in maybe doing what was best for them in the long run. I did learn with Jennifer Eck in her senior year. I trained her like Ann Callton. Ann Callton was one of our breaststrokers who came to us at 1:06 and 2:30. Her junior year she went 1:02.5 and 2:12 and won the 200 breaststroke and Ann got there on middle distance training with breaststroke and I tried to take Jennifer Eck who was 1:06 and 2:30 out of high school and do the same thing with her. She went 1:04 and 2:20. But her senior year, she kept telling me that she needed to sprint train. And I listened to her thank goodness and she went 1:02 flat and 2:14. I kept telling her it was because of all the work she did in her junior year and we had a good laugh about it.

We’ll do this circuit 3 times a week in the morning usually because I want them to develop quickness and speed in the morning. It’s no good if you’re fast at night. You’ve got to get the job done in the morning. So I want them to be training to be quick in the morning so they’ll qualify. We do pulling sets this way where we go 12 and 1/2 easy and then at the 12 1/2 yard mark, we’ll explode and go as fast as we can for 12 1/2 on 40 seconds starting out. And the closer we get to the championship meet, we increase the rest and we’ll decrease the number of reps. We decrease the number of reps and increase rest to get them more and more explosive, to fire quicker, to go faster. Then coming back we’ll push off and go 12 1/2 fast from the push off and then ease up 12 1/2. Then we’ll ask them to go a 25 fast from a push. Then we’ll repeat that cycle. Then we’ll move into maybe a kicking cycle the next station and they’ll do the same kind of thing to try to get leg speed. I do believe in weights on the legs.

We’re going to try some of the new products in there this year where they have those kind of blades out and kicking with those. We kicked with shoes this summer. I read Bob’s paper that he’s going to come out with this year about increasing the size of the stern wave so that you recapture the energy that’s lost as water moves around the body and then tries to refill in the crater that’s moving down the pool. I believe that there’s a lot to that so we’re going to spend a lot of time on learning to build up the stern wave in the long axis strokes.

We do a lot of vertical kicking with weights alternating holding the weight up then putting the weight between your legs and sculling in between. We build up and then we bring it back down in taper.

We use power racks. Starting out with more reps, less weight on less of a rest interval and building up to fewer reps with more weight on a longer rest interval the closer we get to taper. Some of the kids don’t like the racks because of the way it makes them feel. On some of the racks we take stretchtech tubing and we’ll put about this much tubing on the end of the rack so it kind of softens it even more for them and some of the kids really like that. Some of the kids just use the shortened stretchtech tubing so as soon as they push off at the breakout it tightens them and we ask them to go 5 to 7 stroke cycles against that tubing as fast as they can developing as much turnover as they can. Again, it’s a question of more reps on a shorter rest interval. When you first start doing it, decreasing the number of reps and increasing the intervals so you’re giving them more rest and asking them to be more powerful.

And then we do stretchtech tubing where we do both assist and sprint. And that’s the bottom one where we’ll ask them to swim against the tubing for 25 yards, get to the other end, rest twenty seconds and then blast it back as fast as they can. You know how you always have to have somebody gathering the tubing because they get tangled up in it? Here’s a trick that we learned this summer: you take these little doughnut weights, these wrist weights, that Rothhammer makes that are waterproof, and you take a rubber band and you attach it to that tube about 8 feet in front of the swimmer. And what happens is as they’re coming back, the weight pulls the tubing down to the bottom of the pool both in front of them without pulling them down. It’s not enough weight to do that, but it gets the tubing down and out of their way so they swim right over the top of it. They don’t get tangled up at all. The same person can do it and you can put 2-3 tubes in a lane at the same time and you don’t have a tangled mess.

Then we do a lot of just assist at the end where they’ll pull down on the lane lines, get to the other end and then we’ll ask them to go 12 1/2 underwater and then break and then sprint 12 1/2. I like the 12 1/2 underwater because it really gets them to feel the streamline at high speed — speeds that are faster than they’re going to swim — and then break and hold that speed to the wall. I don’t like to assist them that much coming in because what I’m trying to do is put them in a zone where they are experiencing a speed faster or as fast as they’re going to try to swim, learning to adapt to that speed and be more and more efficient.

We’re going to buy one of the towing machines. I believe the way to reduce active drag is less in telling people to put their head down, or do this or that, and more in placing those kids in an environment and let them do it over and over and over again and they will discover what works well for them. I can’t imagine having a Matt Biondi and a Janet Evans at the same time and deciding which one’s stroke you’re going to change because I don’t think you’d change either one of them. I think what works for Janet, works because Janet adapted into what really works well for her and I think Nort did a wonderful job taking what Matt brought to the table and maximizing it. So what we want to try to do is put our kids in that kind of an environment more frequently than we are right now to develop the kind of power.

One quick word about tapering. For women I go about a 3 week taper and I do everything on percentages because it’s just a basic structure from which I can operate. Within that structure, we allow for individual variation and that comes to communicating with the athlete. But my structure is 80% reduction at 3 weeks out, then 60%, the 40% the week of the meet. What I do is take out 80% of our yardage totals on the main series work. Then we go 60%, then we go 40%. And then the week of the meet, we float. And within that basic structure, it’s very individualized. I’ll have some kids who tell they feel like they need to go 80% beginning 5 weeks out and I have some that will say, Jim, I want to go full until 2 weeks out. I want to go full and then 60 and then 40. I believe in listening to my athletes. So that’s the basic structure that we have but I don’t want you to write this stuff down, say this is the way you do it. I think it’s totally individualized, but I do believe strongly that you need to have a basic structure from which you are operating so that the kids have a home base that they can look at. And the kids then have a lot of ownership over what they’re doing. Honestly, I think I learn more than they learn from me.

Nort Thornton: Thank you very much Jim. When I found I was going to be sharing this with Jim, I thought it was great. I was thinking how can I do this so that I won’t just stand up here and repeat everything that Jim? I know he’s very thorough and does a great job when organizing his program. So what I thought I’d do is rather than repeat all this, I will just touch on a few things that I think are maybe a little bit different, to give you a little different slant on some ideas that you can think about. I think the main thing that we’ve got to really concern ourselves with is the fact that a lot of people confuse strength and power. They think it’s interchangeable and really it’s not. If you look at power in a physiological textbook, you’ll see there’s a formula for power and strength is a portion of that formula. It’s strength times acceleration or speed. And so power is only one part. A lot of people go in the weight room and they think they’re getting powerful. Well, what they’re really doing is getting stronger and sometimes strength can be detrimental. If you get more bulk and size and you think you’re doing the job, you may be making your swimmers slower by having them just work in the weight room. I think you’ve got to be very careful about what you need to do. I think power is largely the speed component and I think that’s the area we miss on a lot because I think we just don’t have good ways to do it and we find it’s hard to develop speed in a weight room. The strength coach doesn’t like you taking the weights off and throwing the bars up and down real fast and bouncing them around and making all this noise and he doesn’t think it’s good for the equipment. What he wants you to do is not good for the swimmers. So, I think you’ve got to realize first of all, that strength is a component of power, yes, but it’s only like the base or the foundation of it.

We normally do about a month to six weeks of it at the beginning of the year. Our distance people pretty much get out of there and our sprinters stay with it a little bit longer. But if you look at power lifters, really serious lifters, a lot of those people don’t lift more than once a week using one part of their body.

You can do a lot of strength work by just going to the weight room once a week. That’s plenty, particularly after you’ve built up a general fitness level where you have some good muscle tone and you are at least not putting yourself in jeopardy as far as injury goes. You have to be very careful of that. I think the thing that I’ve found is that this type of training can really trash your body to the point where your pool performance can really drop off. I find it interesting that Jim said that he was doing the circuit and he was really not swimming well in the fall so he’s going to switch it to aerobics and do circuit in the spring. Well good luck! Big 10 coaches, you’re going to have a ball with the schedule in the second semester. The women will really be beat up by then when he starts his water circuit. But anyway, I think you have to be careful.

I’m as guilty of this as anybody else: you think, the swimmers are doing all of it and they’re not swimming very well so you decide to do more. That’s not the answer. There are some people that just can’t handle it. Let’s face it, when we were age group coaches and we had all these kids growing up, we could do anything we wanted to them and they were going to get better because they were growing. Like Jim was saying, their juices were flowing and they were getting bigger and stronger every year. By the time we get them in the college level, for the most part, it’s not happening anymore and you have to be doing something a little bit right.

Well, a lot of people think that what we did while we were working with younger swimmers is the only way it’s going to work because they got faster every time they did it. But to do something different for older athletes? It’s scary. And it is scary for the athletes. “Do something different? Oh boy…I don’t want to do that. This works for me, I’m going to stay with this.” When they come on the collegiate level it’s not going to get them where they need to go. You need to have the faith. You have to try some other things. I think if it’s not such a shock thing, they won’t be quite as afraid of it. You have to kind of ease into this if they’re going to get used to it.

Dryland program: We used to always do our dryland program before we swam. Then one year because of logistics we couldn’t get the weight room before and we had to do it afterwards and I was really upset. I thought it was going to be the worst thing that ever happened. Jim is actually right, all of a sudden, our swimming got much better. We were there to swim and the dryland was whatever leftover we put in the weight room for that little extra training. I’ve never changed back, we’ve always done our dryland afterwards because you don’t want to trash the body then put it in the pool and ask him to perform. If they can’t perform then they’re going to start believing they can’t perform for you. So what happens is they don’t believe in themselves anymore and you’re losing the confidence factor, and you know how tough that can be on a youngster.

So I think the dryland is for getting that little extra that you can’t quite get done in the pool but it’s not to be detrimental to what you’re doing in the pool. You’ve got to remember what you’re there for.

I think there’s a range of the strength program and I think you have to be real clear on that. I think that you have to understand what you want. You can have one giant blast of muscular contraction and this is for the 50 guys, the raw speed type and on the other hand, you could have accelerating force up to top speed and holding it for a few seconds for the 100, 200 type swimmer. And you can do one or the other. If you try to do the speed endurance, you’re definitely hurting the explosiveness of your raw sprinter. A lot of coaches, myself included, have a problem with this because you’ve got 20-30 guys that you’re working with and one or two of them are really just blast, power type athletes and they need to work on one type of thing. But you have 25 others that need to be doing something different. So you’ve got to have some way of giving these people what they need to do and you have to be pretty clear in what you’re doing. You may have a 19 second 50 man on your team and not even realize it because you never give him a chance to develop that explosiveness that he needs. And so I think it’s very important that you understand that working for speed endurance actually inhibits raw explosiveness.

Most of the time we try to make everything work and fit into the pool in the hours we have and we aren’t always thinking what people really need to be doing. It’s not easy to identify. The best identification for raw speed is just the jump reach. If you get guys that are springing and going over desks and have 30-40 inches of vertical lift, you can pretty much figure they don’t need to be doing a lot of pounding that out of their legs. But, on the other hand, you got guys who can jump 10 inches on a good day, and you can give a lot of explicit stuff and they’re probably not going to improve more than a few inches, but they can improve — that’s the good sign.

We’re training short course collegiate athletes in a short course season. This is a totally different sport than long course swimming. I believe it’s another sport. It just happens in a pool–that’s really the only thing that resembles each other. If you are a short course swimmer, 20-25% of your race is walls — explosiveness. When you swim short course, what you’re doing is exploding off the wall and getting as much velocity going as you can, and trying to maintain it to the next wall when you can regenerate and keep going till you finish and hope it doesn’t give up before you get to the end of your race. That’s short course swimming. You can’t ease into a wall, get a breath and then push off and start accelerating again. That’s long course swimming — building up within a 50 meter pool, that’s how you got to do it to make it 50 meters.

In 25 yards, you have a lot of big strong guys in the college program and they do great in short course. But you never see them in the summer. You say, “Where did these guys come from? I’ve never seen them in a senior nationals. They’re going 19 plus. Where did they come from?” They came out of the weight room. They are kangaroos in disguise. Basically, they’re a powerful people. The NCAA program is set up for these types of people. You better recruit genetically, and better make sure that if you could somehow, play a little game while they’re on campus, to see if they could jump up and grab the ceiling, then you know you got a good one. You can teach them the rest. So short course swimming is totally different than long course. I want to make sure you understand, I’m talking short course right now. I’m not saying that starts and turns aren’t important in long course, but the percentages shift dramatically. You ever see a guy that tries to blast off the wall on the start on long course and try to maintain it to the 50 meters? He might be able to do it for one, or maybe even two fifties, but usually by the end of the second length he’s in real trouble keeping that momentum going. So the ability to blast comes from being able to use the walls well and you have to develop explosive speed for that. You need quickness. I’m going to talk a little bit about that.

I think there’s something called impulse inertia training. It’s overcoming momentum of mass in one direction and shifting it and exploding it back in another direction. It’s like plyometrics, basically and I think you can do it with a Vasa trainer. You load up the rubber bands on the bottom of the Vasa trainer and you pull the swimmer up and reload that machine, get them up on the ramp and you let them go and it snaps them back and he’s got to slow down and catch himself and get him back up there. You time how fast he can go back and up again. In other words it’s plyometrics for the upper body and you can do it with one arm or you can do it with two arms, but I don’t recommend starting off that way. You have to take a lighter weight, put the machine down lightly, and work on just getting the tendons and the tissues and the joints strengthened a little bit and then you can start going to that type of action. All this is going to happen in the blink of an eye. It’s not something you can think about. It’s not a matter of letting it down slow and then reloading it, starting it back up again. That’s not power. You are basically training neuromuscular responses. What we’ve got to be able to do is to get our nervous system to fire faster impulses to our muscles so they can fire off at faster rates. That’s how you develop power.

If you do it with heavy bench presses, what are you doing? You are going the opposite direction. You’re slowing down those neuromuscular responses. I don’t think you want to spend much time even first semester doing much really heavy. A lot of people disagree with me. A lot of guys like to pump iron will say,”hey, what the hell you talking about?” But our season’s has become so short in the collegiate season that we give them a few weeks to kind of get a muscle tone going and then we start working on speed. It takes us a long time to move those neuromuscular responses up a notch.

Here is a breakdown. We start off in the weight room and then we go medicine ball and then we bring in our speed circuit. Our speed circuit has all bio kinetic equipment in it and they all have speed settings on it so I can test everybody at the slowest setting and see how many kilowatt meters of work they’re actually generating. Then I can move it to the next setting up and the next setting up and the machine keeps getting faster. What happens is the scores keep getting smaller and eventually they’re going to hit a point where they can’t keep up with the machine anymore. It’s like being at the fair with a big sledgehammer and trying to ring the bell and the top of the pole. Well, if you are standing on the back of a pickup truck you can still ring the bell. If that truck goes by at 1 mph you can give it a good whack. If it goes by at 5 mph, you could still maybe get a pretty good whack at it. When it gets up to 40 or 50 or 60 or 80 mph, how much power are you going to be able to generate for hitting that thing as it goes by at that speed? Well that’s what these machines are doing. They are going faster and faster and faster as we set them faster and faster. Scores are going up for a while and pretty soon you can’t keep up with them and it falls off. Well that tells me where their power peak is.

Traditionally, your distance people probably peak out at about setting 1 or 2. Middle distance probably 3-4. Speed settings for sprinters are sometimes 3-4-5. When Biondi was going into Seoul, he had it up around probably 7 or 8 settings. If we could move a speed setting or two a season, we’re doing a pretty good job. The settings usually don’t go back in the summer, you come in pretty much where you left off. What you’re doing is moving quicker and quicker and you’re training people to do that. I think that’s what you’ve got to do. If you want somebody to go fast, you don’t give them practice in going slow. So I think you’ve got to train the speed in them. We can all train the other stuff. It’s the speed that’s missing.

Imagine by coming off of a box and jumping down, hitting the floor and exploding back up again. In other words, you can get more power by landing and giving a stretch reflex before you spring. It is much more explosive. Here’s a good example: Take a 10 pound weight and set it on your foot. And you ask, “Is that too painful?” No, it’s not bad. You can tell it’s there but it’s not crushing the toes. Then you lift that 10 lb. weight up and you drop it on your foot from 5 feet up. “Is that painful?” You better believe it is. If you turn it sideways so all the force lays on one point, it’s a lot more painful. Probably dozens of times more painful. So if you could affect dozens of times more of what you try to do by plyometrically bouncing any of these exercises or plyometrically using your swim bench, I think you’re affecting much, much greater results and much quicker.

I think for your sprinters and for everybody, in short course, you’ve got to be pretty explosive. But maybe outside of your 1000 or 1500 type guys, if they’re going to be on relays at all, they should be doing this kind of work for you. The key theory I think that most of us miss — and I missed it for years and I’d read all about it and I actually understood it but I never really believed it — was that the nervous system is the key. When we do all this slow training and longer training, I’m not saying longer but heavy training, speed work, sprinting, weight room stuff, what we’re doing is pretty much trashing our nervous system. We’re getting it to the point that it’s so tired and so beat up, it can’t respond. You give it a week off and nothing happens because it can’t respond that fast. I’ve heard of guys saying, “We did our taper then 6 weeks later we had this fantastic swim.” I think it happens a lot. We get guys we think we taper, we think we rest and it turns out maybe that was only a third of the rest they really need. I’m sure this is much different between men and women but my point is I want to err, particularly with college men, on the side of doing less than doing too much.

I probably told this story back in 1979. I had a guy named Par Aarvidsson who was a great Swedish butterflyer, world record holder in the 100 fly, great CAL swimmer, and NCAA champion. Par’s a real big, strong guy and he’s a Viking. He likes to work hard. He’s the guy running to the weight room first to get through the circuit so he can get to the end of the line and go through it again. In his freshman year, we tapered him about 3 weeks and he swam at NCAA’s and he didn’t do what he wanted to do. He didn’t swim very well. And that was in the days when the old AAU Championships were a week later and we had him signed up to swim at the AAU Championships and he said “I’m not going, I swam so lousy. I just want to not swim anymore.” And I said Ok. So we rested or tapered him for 3 weeks, rested about a week. It was about 4 weeks that he hadn’t done anything, he was totally disgusted, didn’t come near the pool, and didn’t do anything. Finally we realized that we were going to have a medley relay at the AAUs that year and the guy that was going to swim butterfly on the relay, if Par didn’t go, came down with bronchitis and he couldn’t go. So everybody’s saying we have a great relay but we can’t swim because we have no butterflyer’. So we tried to see if we could talk Par into coming back and swimming the medley relay for us. Being a good guy, he came along and he hadn’t been in the water. I said, “I’d better start training.” But I said, “oh, we’re leaving tomorrow, just get your suit and let’s go.” So we went and he hadn’t trained for about a month and a half, almost 6 weeks. He hadn’t been in the water for 2 weeks. He got back there and it turned out the medley relay was one of the first days, in those days, I think the first day of the meet. Par went 2 seconds faster than he did at NCAA’s with 2 weeks out of the water. Right then and there I figured. Then he said, “Well, did you scratch me from the rest of my events?” I said, “Well, I haven’t done it yet, I was going to wait until I got here.” He says,” Well, I think I’d like to swim.” I said, “Okay, great!” So Par swam and he got faster. His 100 was a second and a half faster. His 200 was about 3 or 4 seconds faster. We got back home and I said, “Par, I have to tell you something. Next year we’re going to rest a little bit more.”

So next year we rested him, we figured it was about 5 weeks and as a sophomore he became an NCAA champion, doing great. So, next year I said, “Well, let’s get brave, let’s try 6 weeks” So next year it was 6 weeks rest. I mean rest, I mean, I didn’t see Par. He came in. He didn’t even want to take a shower. We get back after his senior year, I didn’t see him after Christmas, basically, and he kept getting better and better and better. So I think what we do is we really trash our nervous system to the point where we’re not able to perform.

I wouldn’t tell athletes these stories but we have to be very careful about what we’re doing to our body and then expect it to get up and go. I think sometimes we drag buckets and stuff up and down the pool, which a certain amount is good, but we get excited about it because it looks like hard work but we gear them all down and then we can’t move and then we take it off on Saturday and wonder why we swim slow? Well, I don’t know. Look at yourself in the mirror, that’s why you swam slowly. We basically geared him to the point where we didn’t let him swim fast. So what we really need to do is concentrate on, in short course swimming, starts and turns, and utilizing the walls.

We need to initiate body and trunk rotation. I think that’s another thing where power is important. I believe that the catch and the initiation of the catch is what develops power. I think, the quicker you can get your hips over in your stroke, the more powerful you’re going to be and the faster you’re going to be. Pure and Simple. It’s easier said than done, but I think that’s what you have to be working on. So you have to find some way to get that quickness into that action.

There’s some things you can do. I told you about the Vasa trainer, I think that’s a good way, particularly for butterflyers and breaststrokers, but you can do it one arm or the other arm on freestyle as well. And I think we’ve got to give the mind a lot more time and thought, because I think the mind body link is the key. There’s a story about a guy that was a great power lifter. He was always into power. He never got out of a chair slowly. He bounded out of chairs. Everything he did was fast. He was explosive. He and his buddies were out drinking one night and they had a lot to drink and they’re walking home after the bar closed and they all had to urinate so they decided they were going to have a contest to see who could pee the highest. So, this guy won by a couple of yards. He got back and he ran at it and he jumped at it and well timed pressure in his urinary tract. He won by a couple of yards. This is the kind of thinking you’ve got to have. You’ve got to be the best and the fastest at everything you do. I mean, you have to think fast if you want to be fast.

We have sprinter at our place right now that, I can’t believe it, he’s always the last guy there. He’s always the last guy to step up on the blocks. And he can’t understand why his times don’t improve. I said, “Start thinking fast.” He said, “O-o-o-h-h-h K-a-a-y.” I don’t know if it’s going to happen for him. He needs to figure out how to think a little faster.

I think we have two parts to the nervous system. We have the central nervous system which receives messages, interprets them and then sends out instructions to our body to our muscles. Then we have the peripheral nervous system which relays messages from the central nervous system on to the body and back out again. So the peripheral system has to relay messages that the central system is sending us. Now if we have the central system all trashed to the point where it can’t respond fast because it’s just wiped out, you’re not going to get good results.

I think, after Christmas for your sprinters, if they have to be ready to swim in March, or whenever it is, they should be concentrating on things like…one of the things we do, the body blade. This is kind of weird looking. It looks like the bow without the string on it. We take that and have them hold it right in front of them. We have them vibrate that thing. It vibrates from side to side and it activates the nerves in the system. You really have to tighten up all your muscles and two or three minutes of that and you’re wiped out. I mean you just tingle all over. Your nervous system is fired up.

We do quickness type things. We do everything we can as quick as we can, particularly with our sprinters. And that’s all in control in your mind and that mind body link. The good news is you’ve learned all those slow impulses. You can unlearn them and you can learn the fast ones. It’s just a matter of thinking a little bit differently. Again it’s let your mind get out of your way and start thinking about things the way you have to start thinking about them. If you don’t think fast, you’re never going to be fast. It’s just that simple. So don’t say that you’re what we think about most of the time. If you want to be great, you think about being great. If you want to be slow or if you want to be fast but you think slow, you’re probably going to be slow.

Henry Ford said, “If you think you can’t, you’re probably right.” That’s basically it. Your mind is a big, big part of the whole thing. I’ve been saying that for years and years. This year, I’m trying to do something about it, so I’m making a big effort to get into that area.

I think one thing you want to remember is that practice doesn’t make perfect. It makes permanent. So if you’re doing something at one speed, you’re going to get a permanent reaction to that speed. You have to be able to do it at the speed you want, or as close to that as you can.

We use medicine balls because I think medicine balls have a tremendous stretch reflex of the whole thing. I think the speed circuit is a big part of our swim speed. And flexibility is a big part. Flexibility isn’t just at the joints, it’s in your head. The stiffest guys we have are the most rigid thinkers. It’s amazing. You can tell. That guy is not going to think of a new idea and he’s not going to be able to touch his toes either. That’s because your mind controls your body. If you’re rigid in your mind, you’re rigid everywhere. So you have to be thinking about that.

I think breathing is tremendously important. I remember one time we tested Janet Evans before Seoul. She had from exhalation to inhalation an 8 inch expansion of her chest. She had the greatest flexibility as far as lungs go as anybody I’ve ever seen. We have people that are so rigid, when they breathe they just pant right here on the top. They never can expand their ribs. The ribs don’t move. They’re locked. They’re frozen. Because they’ve never done anything to expand them. You need to get in the weight room and open it up and you need to breathe deeply. How do babies breathe? With their stomach and their ribs expanding. Put your hand, little finger on your navel and one hand on your rib cage and breathe. If your stomach is pushing out and your ribs are expanding, you’re breathing. But if you’re not, if nothing’s happening, you’re halfway in the coffin. Let’s face it. Flexibility is key. And, it starts in your head and works down to your lungs. If you can get the ribs and the breathing right, it opens up the bottom half of your lungs. That’s where most of your alveoli sacs are which means there’s more transfer of oxygen into your bloodstream and into your tissues from the lower half than there is in the upper half.

I’ve done a little experimentation with the team. We find that if we can breathe superficially for 30 seconds, count breathes, and then breathe deeply for 30 seconds and count breathes, we take half as many breathes and you feel a lot more relaxed and easy when they’re doing it. So if you can swim with less breathes per minute and more heart rate per minute, you’re getting in shape. You’re accomplishing something. I think a lot of us think we have to get the heart rate up and higher breathing. It’s just the opposite. Because you have to get it down. You have to calm things down. You have to find a way to get them to do the same thing with less effort. To me that’s what getting in shape is all about. They’d come out of a workout thinking, “That felt great. I feel good, this is fun. I want to get back tomorrow and do some more.” On the other hand, they come out of there with a 200 beats per minute heart rate and they’re breathing heavy and they can’t catch their breath and they’re throwing up in the gutter, they’re not going to want to come back. That isn’t fun. I don’t want part of this. And they’re not going to achieve as much. I think you have to rethink what conditioning is all about. You know, it’s not how hard you can beat on them. It’s how realistically you can encourage them to find ways to do things where they’re going to get more out of it. They can control it themselves.

I think the main elements of any good program is to increase the number of the repetitions as you go along. In other words, if you’re doing 10 reps today, you don’t want to be doing 10 four months from now. You want to increase somehow. And you want to increase the speed or the action as you go. So what you do that’s slow today, if you’ve truly found your rhythm, will get faster by itself. It’s amazing. Kids will be swimming the same, heart rate the same, number of strokes the same and they’re going down the pool and they can’t believe it. It feels easier. It is easier. Great swims are always easy because they found the flow.

They’ve got so much pressure on they can’t do anything. They just get slower. The harder you try, the slower you get. The more fun it is, the easier it is, and the faster you go. You don’t understand why but it’s just a lot of fun. That’s the way it is. It seems like it should be just the opposite. “You mean if I don’t try, I’m going to get better? If I do try I’m going to get worse.” “Yeah. That’s what I’m telling you.” Control it. Get the mind set in the right place. When you transfer a lot of this stuff into the water, we use things like power racks, initially, pull tubes, not a lot, we do some drag suits. We use a drag bag. I think it’s a good item. I brought one with me because it’s something you can afford. You go down to the local skin diving shop and you pick up a weight belt. Get an old laundry bag. Get an old lane line and put a few floats in there. And these float on the surface so it doesn’t displace too much water, and you tether it to the waist, tie a loop in the other end. Put the belt through and you can go with just a little tension. What happens is when they get done doing this for a while, you take them off and they just all of a sudden, go fast and they feel the water. It’s amazing. It just gives them a little bit of tension. I have about 14-15 floats in there. I put a couple little doughnuts in there to make sure it doesn’t sink. And this just goes right along on the surface behind them and you don’t have these strings on the shoulders or anything else. It works extremely well. And this is something we can all find: a nylon bag, a laundry bag, and a couple of floats we all have broken lane lines around somewhere. Don’t throw those floats away. They’re valuable. It’s about a $6 or $7 item. If you can find the right people or equipment at the right time, you can do it for a lot less. It doesn’t take much to put one of those together. We call those “drag bags.” And then we transfer it over to assist swimming and we do the same thing Jim does with the surgical tubing.

We also use what’s called a cats unit. We also have a couple of power reels. I saw these way back when and stayed on top of them till they gave me the first couple off the rack. I think Jim Steen had the first one and we got the next 2. What these do is drag you down the pool at a prescribed speed. I saw Popov videotapes where he was doing assisted swimming. They were dragging him down a 50 meter pool at about 20 seconds and he was swimming it in about 10 strokes. In other words, he was keeping it slow and easy but he was moving at faster speeds. What he was doing is that he was feeling where he’s picking up resistance.

We had a guy, Bart Sikor, from Mission Viejo, that swims at CAL. He was fourth in the Olympics in the 200 back. We were working on this unit. We were just dragging him to try to figure out where his resistance was. He had a little arch in his back. We were trying to tighten the pelvis up, the abdominals up and get rid of that sway. And we got rid of that and I said, “Okay now we’ll drag you and this time we’re going to have you do a little flutter kick.” He’s got real strong legs, and so he’d kick and when he’d kick, his feet would separate outside the line of resistance of his body. And we notice every time his feet went out to the side, this take up reel would slow down. A mechanical reel was actually being slowed up and almost stopped with just the legs separating that far. Coming out, each foot would go outside the line of the body. I’m thinking, wow, if a mechanical wedge like that can be stopped by just letting the legs come apart, think of the amount of resistance that that is actually creating.

Now I’m pretty naive I guess. I didn’t think resistance and drag was that big a deal but it is. What we did was put a pull buoy between his legs and had him start kicking tired and we did a band around his knees to keep everything in a little bit more and he went to Santa Clara. He’d been 2:05 earlier in the summer. At Santa Clara he went 2:02. He continued to work on it and went down to Atlanta and went 2:00.

Two last things I have to say. This is one of the greatest things for developing the right breathing pattern. You have to force out vigorously to get you using your whole lungs. It also slows down the breathing rate. I think this front mouth snorkel is a tremendous thing. It does a lot more than that.

I just wanted to add one thing with respect to plyometrics. We do a lot of plyometric. We do a lot of upper body plyometric and the way we do that is when we do our upper body work with the tubing, we attach it above us, and so the tubing is trying to pull your hand back up and you have to change direction rapidly against that force so it’s like dropping something up. It’s pulling the hand this way and we’ve got to change direction rapidly against that. And the other thing that it does in attaching the tubing above you is it takes the pressure off your lower back. I’ve seen a lot of kids do tubing like this against the fence. And you get some kids it just tears up their lower back. You eliminate that completely. And if they need to get more pressure, you either shorten the tubing or go to your knees. And do it on your knees. So we believe in plyometrics–upper body plyometrics.

Responses to Questions:

Coach Richardson: Re-taper. I talked about 80%-60%-40% float. When I re-taper for 3 weeks, I go 60-40 float. So that’s on a re-taper. Okay? First taper 80-60-40-float. Re-taper for four weeks, 60-40-float. And we swim as fast or faster on second taper usually.

Individualized weight training. For me it’s totally individualized. It depends on where people are and where we want to take them and where we are in the season. As I said, early on in the season, we tend to do higher number of reps, and since we’re going higher reps, I don’t want as heavy a resistance. So we’ll go a lighter resistance with more reps. And then as we move through the last 6 weeks, I want to reduce the number of reps, increase the rest and therefore increase the resistance. So I’m trying to get them to go faster overcoming progressively a little more resistance. That’s one of the things I like about the bio kinetic bench — it gives you a 10 degrees of setting and it’s also variable resistance within each setting. But you can do the same thing with $19 worth of surgical tubing. It’s the same kind of thing.

Coach Thornton: I think that everybody’s totally individually set up that way. That’s why we start to talk about finding the power peak for each individual — where they peak out. And what I find is that on different parts of the body it may vary. Upper body, they may peak out on a different setting than lower. So we’ve got like 20 stations and they could have 20 different settings in there. It usually doesn’t work that way. What we want to do is find out where they are because till you find out where you are you are not going to know where you’re going. You have to know where they are and if you have some way to test to find out where their speed is — at what rate they’re firing at — then you know. It’s like carrot and donkey. Once you know they’re at setting three then you put it up at four and then they got to go for it.

Coach Richardson: I think it is valuable using a little $19 metronome and if you can’t afford a $1400 swim bench, a $20 set up of surgical tubing. With that you can come pretty close to accomplishing the same thing. You can quantify your tempo, your rate. It’s a little difficult to quantify the resistance because that is a function of how far you are back. But if you want to, you can just put marks on the ground and have them kneel at this point, then put a mark back. You know you’re increasing resistance when you move further away from the point of origin. So you can adapt it.

Weigh-ins for women. I do not, I used to. I do not. I think that when coaching women you are taking a big chance in pushing the wrong kind of buttons. I think we have a huge problem in our society for women with body image. It starts when they get into their teenage years and go into school. And I think a coach can ruin a woman when he starts talking to her in terms of how heavy you appear to be. We bring in a certified nutritionist and she works with the kids in an overall group setting talking about general nutritional issues and general body composition issues. And somebody referred earlier to the somatic types. I used to do underwater weighing. I used to do some of skin folds. I don’t do any of that anymore. I used to tell kids the best test is to go in your room and close the door, pull the curtains, take off the clothes, and look in the mirror. But now I’m going to tell you that’s not good for women to do. Because a woman can be absolutely perfect where she needs to be and if she doesn’t have a healthy body image, she will see herself as being fat. As a coach coaching women, you need to turn that type of feedback and education over to professionals. And I’m not. I’m very uncomfortable doing even skin folds. I think if you’re doing skin folds with a formula, you’re not smart because there’s so much variability built in to the formulas. Number 2, there’s variability in whose doing the measuring from time to time. Check out the research on reliability and validity of skin folds. The most reliable method for determining skin fat is the cadaver method. I don’t think we can advocate that either.

More on individualizing weight training. For us, it’s totally individualized. As I said with Christie Vedez, the second year I had her, we didn’t let her go in the weight room but one day a week the whole season. Some kids need to be in the weight room longer and for me those are the kids who are not naturally strong but need a certain minimum level of strength. I tend to look at short axis strokes and body types. If you are a mesomorph and short axis stroke person, you tend to stay stronger longer and so you can probably go off weights earlier. Ectomorphs, who are long axis stroke people tend to lose their strength sooner especially those who are swimming the middle distance to sprint events. But it’s totally individualized. I mean, I can’t give you a set answer. Some kids are out of the weight room and off strength work completely a month and a half out from Big 10’s, and other kids are in the weight room the week before Big 10’s. My base is always 80-60-40-float. And so I have a home base that we can operate either more or less from and each person find where they fit on that home base.

Absolutely, the same thing is true in the weight room. Except I think the things that tend to be more intense and take a lot out of them, we try to reduce those exercises. And honestly, second semester in the weight room is a maintenance program. We don’t do anywhere near the volume or reps second semester because I don’t think weights are anywhere near as important as the circuit and power work is. And we do the same thing with the circuit. We drop the circuit 80-60-40 as the home base, but some kids come off the circuit 3 weeks out. They don’t touch it. Or they may do 1 or 2 items within the circuit that they know push their buttons. And they stay away from items in the circuit that they know trash them. We don’t do it because it’s there. We do it if it works. If it doesn’t work for them we don’t do it.

Coach Thornton: A lot of people don’t touch the weights after the first month or so of the season. Our sprinters will probably stay in there one time a week — usually about 3 weeks out for some of them. But what we do in our speed circuit is start with 3 weight workouts a week and then we shift it over gradually to 3 speed circuits a week. At the end during the last few weeks we’ll do speed benches. We’ll go in there and we’ll do maybe 4 x 10 second bouts on the bench and we’ll start at a setting like 6 and try to go faster, faster, faster on each one. So it’s just a muscle tone type thing. We just go in there and blow the pipes out a little bit so they can still keep the touch or the feel of what they’re doing, but there’s no real work going on there, just quickness.


The Evolution of the Crawl Stroke – An Australian Perspective by Forbes Carlile (1996)

The Evolution of the Crawl Stroke – An Australian Perspective by Forbes Carlile (1996)

INTRO: Forbes Carlile was a member of the British Empire in 1977. That same year, he also received the Queens Jubilee Medal. He became an honoree of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1977 and in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1988. He was the Australian Team Coach at the Olympic Games in London 1948, in Melbourne 1956, and in Moscow 1980. In addition, he became the Scientific Advisor in Rome 1960. Coach Carlile was the Head Coach at the World Championships in Belgrade (1973) and at the Commonwealth Games in Auckland (1950). Coach Carlile has been a life member of the Australian Swimming Coaches Association since 1984. He was elected Master’s Coach of the Year in 1977 and he received the Australian Swimming Coaches Association Award for Outstanding Contribution to Swimming in 1990, and in 1995. He received these awards for his direct funding for Swimmers, for teaching and coaching, and for his anti-doping activities. Coach Carlile has been a life member of Ryde Swimming Club since 1967. In addition, since 1987 he has been a life member of the Carlile Swimming Club. Some of his professional accomplishments include Olympic Medalists, World Record Holders, and a Gold World Championship Medalist. Among his Individual World Record Holders are John Bennett, Judy-Joy Davies, Terry Gathercole, Shane Gould, Karen Moras, Gail Neall, Jenny Turrall and Brian Wilkinson. At the Olympic Games he led his athletes to a total of five Gold Medals, four Silver Medals, and three Bronze Medals. Among his Gold Medal Olympians are John Davies, Shane Gould, and Gail Neall. Mr. Carlile has been a speaker at many clinics and is recognized and respected worldwide.

As briefly as possible I want to provide the background for what I shall soon show you on imperfect videotape.

Forty years ago, more like 50, 1 commenced pursuing an interest in the development of crawl technique. The story has been told many times of how the crawl stroke as a competitive technique almost certainly can be traced to a race In the Bronte rock pool in Sydney in 1898, where South Sea islander Alick Wickham swam in a 10 years and under 66 yards handicap event and astonished onlookers with his unusual style of swimming. It was a double overarm, with his woolly head held high and legs thrashing vigorously in the vertical plane. Through the mid 1800’s, first the breaststroke and then the breaststroke on the side, later again with one arm over the water, the sidestroke was the favored racing style for nearly 50 years.

John Trudgen at the Lambeth Baths in London in 1873 became the fastest sprinter of his time with his overarm action, swimming flat on his chest with a horizontal breaststroke kick. However this was a racing stroke successful only over short distances. Most continued to swim sidestroke.

The so-called Trudgen stroke, with one knee drawn up, was modified very successfully by Australian F.C.V “Freddy” Lane in the 1890’s with the straightening of both legs, and the use of the scissor-kick in a sweeping, narrow leg action, a major move in streamlining.

Resistance was effectively cut down. It was hailed as a marvelous effort when Lane won the NSW mile championship using this double overarm all the way. Lane, winner of the 200m event at the Paris Olympics (1900), was then the most successful exponent of the double overarm at all distances up to the mile.

Enter Alick Wickham, the colored son of a white Island Trader, from Roviana in British Samoa, and the birth of a competitive technique which was soon to be known as the crawl stroke.

The legs beat in the vertical plane. This was something new. Dick Cavill studied young Wickham carefully when he swam at Sydney Cove, and soon became the fastest swimmer of his era. In 1902 known as “Splash” Cavill during his tour of England he soon conquered Freddy Lane who went into retirement at the age of twenty.

Dick Cavill’s brother, Syd, in 1898, took the crawl stroke to the Olympic Club in San Francisco and within two years Americans were swimming a crawl stroke better than the Australians.

The remarkable New Yorker, Charles Daniels improved on the Australian method becoming the greatest swimmer of his generation, winning the Olympic 100m in 1908. With most distance swimmers, the crawl kick was wedded to the scissor kick and the stroke, was erroneously called the “Trudgen”. This composite double-overarm technique was used successfully for another 20 years. Andrew “Boy” Chariton was a good example with a straight legged scissor kick of the so-called Trudgen stroke. But there was no drawing up of either knee. Many Australians based in Sydney led by Cecil Healy, stylized the stroke into the Australian 2-beat, making TWO vigorous kicks of the legs with each arm cycle.

With knees bent in the vertical plane to nearly 90 degrees the feet thrashed down on the water twice to each cycle of the arms. It was a “natural” action timed as in walking, opposite arms and legs moving together. It was accepted by Australians as the way to swim the crawl. But it proved to be a dead end and in Australia it can be said to have held up progress despite claiming a number of top swimmers amongst its exponents. Fanny Durack and Mine Wiley swam the stylized Australian Crawl in finishing first and second in the first ever women’s Olympic swimming event, the 100m freestyle at Stockholm in 1912.

The Australian Crawl was the most used style of crawl swimming during Australia’s first “golden age” from 1905 to 1912 but with the emergence of only a few exceptions it hailed a slump in Australian standards through until the 1950s.

Most of the video clips I will show you necessarily come from the relative modern era of swimming. They cover a span of some 70 years from the 1920’s.

You will see demonstrated the result of the flawed “science” which taught that by holding the head high the body could skim along in a hydroplaning position. It seemed to make good sense.

This concept, so well typified by Johnny Weissmuller, combining the heavy, continuous leg action, died hard.

We shall see some demonstrations of how it was believed, by the Americans in the 1950’s, that the long lever (the straight arm pull) should be used and how the regular, very vigorous 6-beat kick was reckoned the ideal to be aimed at.

We were misled by the apparently hugely successful crawl-stroke of Weissmuller and by the Japanese of the 1930’s with their powerful incessant kicking. Australians added a long glide on each arm and reckoned that this was the way to swim. Australian Robin Biddulph was a good example of the “Japanese crawl stroke”. The swimmers with the “broken tempo” kick, as I called it, were generally corrected by coaches for years.

Australian standards in the late 1930’s, corresponding with my embryo competitive days in swimming were abysmal. We copied the Americans, we copied the Japanese. In 1936 at the Berlin Olympics Australia had only one finalist, and he finished seventh. By 1948 however, in London, our Australian team was good enough to win a hand-full of Olympic medals with John Marshall, Judy Joy Davies and Nancy Lyons. But in Helsinki 4 years later with the exception of John Davies’ gold medal in the 200m breaststroke Australia won no other medals and had only two finalists. Then came Australia’s home Olympics in Melbourne. There was huge progress, a transformation, especially in crawl stroke swimming –first, second, and third in both the men’s and women’s 100m freestyle, and winners of every freestyle event. There was a haul of 8 gold medals, seven for freestyle, and David Theile’s backstroke win.

How did this transformation come about in the space of two Olympic Games? Was it the benefit of competing in front of home crowds? Was it Australia’s advanced age-group system at the time or was it due to shaving down? Did we use better science? I certainly believe that our adoption of the principle of interval training was important.

Perhaps it was caused in part by all of these things, but I suggest that the main reason we swam faster in freestyle and in men’s backstroke was because we all but broke away from overseas influences and our swimmers demonstrated, in my view, better techniques.

When you look at the videos of our 1956 crop, at Dawn Fraser, Jon Henricks, Murray Rose, and David Theile I believe the good techniques will become evident. This segment of the video I took with my 16mm Bolex movie camera between 1956 and 1960.

In the 1960’s there came an era of four-beat and two-beat cross over kicking techniques, adopted by both successful Americans and Australians. In sprinting “broken tempos” become more evident.

In another sequence in my video we see our three Ryde Club (Sydney) girls. Karen Morns, Shane Gould and Jenny Turrell who throughout most of the 1970’s held many world records at distances from 100m to 1500m.

My part in the development of these girls’ techniques was I believe in recognizing that for many swimmers a strong, regular, “6 beat” leg action was not conducive to their fastest swimming. My catch-cry was–“the legs must not call the tune but be subservient to the arms”.

Karen Mores who once held the 400 and 800m world records was a natural 2-beater. She was developed since the age of 7 in my wife Ursula’s group. Karen was never “messed up” by being taught to swim the 6 beat, the accepted wisdom of the day. Shane Gould came to me a strong “6 beat” kicker, a very good 13 year who I saw fail to make the 1970 Commonwealth Games team. She moved from Brisbane to Sydney.

I studied a video of her racing in the trials at the Drummoyne Pool (Sydney) and we quickly changed her into a regular 2-beater. She never varied from this technique in making world records from the 1500m down to the 100m. The last girl in the trio was Jenny Turrell who was a world record holder at 800m and 1500m. She was another pure two-beater. With a very high elbow in the pull and a high tempo. The leg action of all these girls is certainly NOT the original Australian crawl. It is a much more streamlined kicking action with only minimal knee bend.

There have been many great contributions made to swimming by Dr. James Counsilman but I believe the most influential and useful by far has been “Doc’s” concept of “elbows up” as early in the arm pull as possible.

You will notice in my video in chronological order, the three girls, world record holders– first Karen Moree, followed by Shane Gould, and then Jenny Turrell, the elbows became higher in the arm pull, with hands and forearms more and more involved In the “push back”, an action we see effected so very well by Kieren Perkins to whom the last sequence in the video is dedicated. Strokes became more powerful and longer.

Australians for more than 30 years have tended towards an arm recovery we have called a “boomerang” action. I am not saying that this recovery was best, but it was certainly evident in Australia’s outstanding bunch of the 1950’s and after.

Many 2-beaters like Australia Stephen Holland (with a best 1500m time of just over 15m-02 seconds which is still very competitive in Olympic finals today), have had high stroke ratings and have not stretched out in front for a “long stroke.” Holland as you will see was a pure 2-beater.

However there have been great swimmers in recent years who have combined a good stretch out followed almost immediately by the high elbow arm pull following the initial stretch. They had high elbows, chronologically with their pulls starting closer to the surface. Perhaps we became better coaches. Particularly if the swimmer is long and lean and has an effective kick when the body is on the side, this seems to me clearly to be the direction to take in crawl technique. Kieren Perkins is a very good example.

But of course there is much more to Kieren Perkins than his freestyle technique. There is one other visible attribute of Kieren Perkins. As he “rolls” around the horizontal axis he lies very “flat” on the vertical axis, at an angle measured by bio mechanists of only between 2 and 5 degrees. Imagine the advantage over any rival with the angle of the body from the horizontal of say 6 or 7 degrees or more and have even much greater angles than this. You need a very powerful “engine” to make up for this.

The quality of my pictures, you will see, is generally not good. The first short sequence of Freddy Lane was taken nearly 50 years ago. This together with the underwater shots of the Americans of the 1950’s have very much suffered the ravages of time. I apologize for this.

The video starts with a glimpse of Freddy Lane, winner at Paris 96 years ago, in action. He was, as has been said, the first to very successfully use the narrowed straight leg action of the scissor kick. I regard the snap of the scissor kick of the elf-like Freddy Lane during the last five years of the last century as a landmark in the development of freestyle.


Sprinting by Dr. Sam Freas (1996)

Sprinting by Dr. Sam Freas (1996)

Sam’s beginning as a small college coach saw no real successes in the area of sprinting, although, in 1977 while at Allegheny College, he was acclaimed the NCAA Division III Coach of the Year. At the University of Arkansas, due to a lack of pool availability, Sam developed unique coaching methods and experienced instant success in coaching sprinters. These methods evolved to earn Coach Freas SWC and SEC Coach of the Year honors as his swimmers garnished world and Olympic titles while setting records along the way. After having coached on the collegiate and club levels, Dr. Freas became the president and chief executive officer of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He is a renowned public speaker and activist for the development of all phases of aquatics around the world. Whatever Sam is doing, his motto is “hammer down.”

I’m very appreciative of the American Swimming Coaches Association to allow me to perhaps break people out of the paradigms and the parameters to which they coach, and before I start I just want to tell people where I came from.

I was a small college coach, and I coached a lot of different sports, so I came to swimming. I was a collegiate swimmer and water polo player and rather average. I coached summer league, high school, club, small college, major college, and I coached on the international level.

I told somebody today that if I had to do it all over again, I would be completely more radical than I’ve ever been before because I changed my whole coaching philosophy during an 18 month hiatus from coaching, when I was doing my doctorate work at the University of Iowa. I was selling cars and I had a lot of time to think. I’ve had eight years to think, and I’m even surer that we’re absolutely going the wrong direction in building speed.

I want to make one thing very, very clear: there is no way to be successful in anything unless you work hard. People who think that sprinters don’t work hard are absolutely crazy. You could do caloric expenditure work on the people that I coached as a sprinter and they burned more calories in the activities that I asked them to do, than the best distance programs in the world. There is this feeling generated through swimming that it’s easy. And if you’re a sprint coach, then you’re just one of these easy going guys who hoses people down occasionally, gives them a lot of rest, and tells a lot of jokes. I like jokes, everybody does. You should work on your joke repertoire if you’re going to be a sprint coach because you always have to keep them loose, happy, so forth and so on. But that’s a little bit about my background.

First thing I would like to do is I want to give you the “Easy Freasy” sprint test for a coach. It’s just my opinion, but it consolidates the thought process so you can kind of jog your mind a little bit on how to build speed. I’ll tell you how to score it. It’s a self-evaluation scoring method so it’s not going to be held against you. You’re right whatever you answer but I want to do it in relationship to where I think we should be.

First question: Is a sprinter born or developed?

Second question: How much cardiovascular training (aerobic) is needed to swim a 50 yard short course, any stroke? And put it in terms of percentage.

For the 100 yard freestyle which is 40 some seconds, how much aerobic activity training do you need?

Now we’re going to do a priority thing where you put what’s most important to least important from five to one. Zero is the same as one: How important is the spiritual development in developing a sprinter? Five for most, one for least.

How important is self-concept in developing a sprinter? Five for most, one for least.

How important is strength development in developing a sprinter? Five for most, one for least.

How important is reaction time and agility? Five for most, one for least.

How important is race visualization or other cerebral activities? Five for most, one for least.

Which is most important in developing a sprinter? Three options: time goals, process, or team goals. I know they’re not perfectly clear to you, but we’re doing the evaluation to jog your brain a little bit.

Now we’re going to evaluate the test and I want you to score the test.

If you answered that a sprinter is developed, give yourself five points. If you said they’re born, zero. If you said both, give yourself two and a half.

How much cardiovascular training to swim a 50 yard freestyle? If you said zero to ten, give yourself five; 10 to 20, four, 20 to 30, three, 30 to 40, two, and anything above 40 zero.

For the 100 yard score the percentage of aerobic activity which you need for the 100 free. Score it basically the same, except 0-15 is 5, 15-30 is 4, so forth and so on.

What is the most important? spiritual 5 (if you gave yourself a three, then score three), self-concept 5 (if you gave it a two, then score two), strength 5, flexibility 5, reaction time 5.

Race visualization and other cerebral activities: if you gave yourself a five then give yourself a zero or a one. It’s inverse and I’ll explain to you why as we go on.

Which is the most important to make a sprinter?: if it’s process give yourself a five, if it’s team goals give yourself a three, if it’s time goals give yourself a zero.

Add up your score. Has anybody scored a fifty? Has anybody scored a 50? Has anybody scored a 45? 40? How many people were under 35 raise your hand. Don’t feel bad because if I had taken this test 20 years ago, I probably would have scored lower than anybody else. Basically I was totally consumed by what other people thought in swimming was correct and I changed.

How many people here have coached men who have gone under 20 seconds for a fifty freestyle, please stand up. Now you need to talk to these people because I don’t have all the answers. Randy keep standing up, because you need to be identified by all these people. How many people have coached ten people that have gone under 20 seconds in the fifty free? Please remain standing. One person. How many people have done five men and at least two women under 23? How many people have coached ten women under 23? How many people have coached five different women under 23 in the 50 free? How many people here have coached anybody under 23 in the 50 free? Stand up please. You need to talk to these people who have decided that they’re going to try and develop these young people.

To give you the answer: I have coached at least ten people under 20 seconds in the 50 free, and at least two women under 23.

It’s interesting when you’re out of the game. This young lady from Florida asked, “What do you do?” I said, “I’m president of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.” “Did you ever coach?” “Yeah! I coached at Louisiana State, Allegheny College, and University of Arkansas.” So I appreciate people who want to hear my thought process. Also understand I’ve had a lot of world record holders in the sprints, relays particularly, but I’ve coached the world champion in the marathon. It’s kind of a paradox isn’t it? Shelly Taylor Smith, when she touched the pad at Perth yelled, “Sam!” And all the Australian press said, “Who’s this guy, Sam?” This young lady never scored a point to my recollection, when she was at the University of Arkansas in the Southwest Conference 1500 or 500 or 400 IM. But we swam open water in the lake and I said to her in the lake, and this is very important, “You know, I think you can be world champion in the marathon. We just don’t have the right event for you because you’ve got a great cardiovascular position and condition, but you can’t get speed until you swim the third mile. You’re unique. Pursue it.” So about eight years later she won the world championship. If you look in the back of the USS text you’re going to see a lot of University of Arkansas teams that still hold the USS long distance records.

By the way, one of the greatest sprinters, and I don’t have my glasses on, but Tom stand up. This be the man right here. Tom Jager. Let’s give him a round of applause. He’s the man!

I happened to be in Arkansas when he was developing in Colinsville, Illinois. And I saw him develop as a swimmer, and I can tell you that Coach Penny Taylor was perfect for Tom’s development because she loved him, nurtured him, and worked with him. It wasn’t like, “This is my program or you’re out of here”. She knew that he was special.

I had a guy by the name of Jerry Spencer who was at the University of Arkansas. As a California junior college guy he went 21.5. The first time he dove in the water for the University of Arkansas he went 20.2 in November. Everybody said: “Gosh, how did you do it?” By the way, he’s my brother in law now. When I recruited him I went up to him and said, “Listen, I want to coach you.” He said, “What’s the fastest 50 guy you’ve ever coached?” I said, “22.2, 22.3.” I was the new coach at the University of Arkansas at the time. He said, “Why the heck would I want to be ever coached by you?” And I said, “You know, I figured it out. I figured out what I was doing wrong and I won’t to do it again, and I’ll make sure you swim fast.” He looked at me and said, “Where is this guy coming from?” Anyway as fate had it I did. What I’m going to tell you about this guy, is that in a short period of time he went real, real fast. So if you believe in what I’m telling you, you can get people to swim real fast.

Now, the special part of a person’s development, of treating each person special is paramount. I have a priority system in my family and my priority system is God first, family second, academics third, sports fourth. I have four children, they all swim. Some of them swim just because they think they please their dad by swimming, but they do other sports. I can’t tell you how many coaches they’ve had, twenty some probably, and I have told them that unless they do what the coach tells them to do and have their priority system, they’re never going to make it. In other words, they’re instilling their values into my children. Now, as a former swimming coach, I have a real delicate balance to walk. But most of these people don’t have children and live in a different priority system where swimming is the most important thing in their life.

What I’m seeing is the one thing that is very important. If I can’t tell you any other thing, is that if you’re going to handle a sprinter, or a distance person, or any person on your team, every one of them has to have a different prescription for success. You know, a doctor writes a prescription up and it says take 500 mg. of a drug and get rest to take care of you so you can get better. You have to write the same prescription for an athlete to pursue excellence.

There is a young swimmer who I’ve been a fan of who happens to have gone to my son’s high school. And every time I would see him, he would look down. His eyes naturally went down. After the summer he went to swim with Coach Shoulberg. Now when you look at him he looks straight or up. It’s real obvious that he’s had a real change in his life. It’s because somebody cared about him and made him feel that he was special. Now how do you do that? First of all, you don’t coach greatness out of people and it’s so difficult not to. If everyone feels that they’re special and unique, you can have them improve and do radical things with them that would really work.

Now the spiritual development. Let me give you a couple of things. I talked about my family’s priority of God, family, academics, and then sports. I want to tell you a story. The World University Games, I was the head coach a number of times. Zagreb, Yugoslavia was the last one I was on. David Berkoff was on that team. One of the things that I’ve always done, right or wrong, is that I pray with every team that I’ve ever coached. David doesn’t believe in prayers. So as a US Swimming coach I said, “Let’s have a team prayer.” Andy Dyker came back and said, “Coach, you know, this Harvard dude, he’s really upset that you prayed.” And I said, “Well that’s okay.”

I talked to him just before we came in. I said, “David, what did that do?” He said, “It’s really interesting. I’ve had time to think about it, but right away I thought you were a bad guy because you were imposing a value on me that I wasn’t used to. Nobody had ever done that. But you know, at the end of the experience I knew that you were true to yourself and that you were a really good guy. Even though I was opposed to prayer.” The spiritual development of someone is so important in swimming. Because unless they have the answer of who they are…

As a college professor in the sixties and seventies, young people continually asked questions about why they are they here on earth, why are they swimming? They go through this questioning process. I didn’t have the answers then. I probably don’t have the answers now. But, I did know, and I led people to believe that there is a God and there is a method to understand yourself. I didn’t make people feel bad if they were a Muslim, an atheist. I didn’t care what they believed in. (Actually, I did — I’ve had communists on my team, pure communists.) But I wanted them to tap their emotion, tap their spirit, to understand who they are. It is a very important thing, a very delicate thing in our society where legal ramifications run rampant. It’s a question that you’re going to have to work with.

There’s been a couple of people that have come into this sport that have looked at this sport much differently than most people. You see as a small college coach I had 400 IMers, 200 freestylers, 1650 guys, and women. Had a lot of them. But when it came into university division coaching, I was a sprint coach. And what I had done is I had left the mentality of what most people had in swimming and went back to the track mentality. Now think about track. It has all these different sports. You can’t train a pole vaulter, and I coached pole vaulting. I’m very proud that my son won the state high school pole vaulting championship. My daughter won the state high school pole vaulting championship.

This guy sitting up here by the name of Ray Buzzard. Ray Buzzard, not many people know, was the US decathlon champion. I hate to tell when. But he was a track man. He came into the sport and approached the sport as a track coach would, from a different basis. Was he accepted or rejected? Rejected. I came into university division coaching as a same mentality, different method, but going in the same direction where I wanted people to have fun, I wanted people to bust their chops, and thought people could swim fast. Accepted or rejected? Rejected. Now, I can tell you in other environments whether its soccer coaching, football coaching, or track coaching, there’s not such a consensus: if you’re different, you’re bad. We need different people. We need guys to come in from gymnastics and show ways to develop strength. I can tell you I was greatly influenced by the track coaches at the University of Arkansas. And they have a great track program. I spent a lot of time with those guys and they spent a lot of time with me. I saw them bring in guys in the 100 meters who were 10.9 or 11 in high school, which is pretty mediocre, and coach them to 10.1. They weren’t giving money for sprinters, they had a distance based program.

I watched what they did to develop distance athletes. I watched what they did to develop Mike Connelly and the jumpers. They learned from what I was doing because I was doing a lot of jumping stuff which I’m going to show you in a second. I can tell you right now that sprinting is the worst thing that we do in the U.S. It’s the worst thing in the world, and if you want to become famous and have world champions, be a sprint coach, because 18.5 is going to happen in the 50 freestyle. 21 flat is going to happen in the 50 meter freestyle. We haven’t yet begun to go fast.

Crockerman stand up. This is my man Steve Crocker. The guy can dunk and throw it down. What a stud. Crocker is a great story in itself. Steve tell your story of where you came out of high school. What was your best 50 meter freestyle time?

Crocker: 22 flat for yards.

Freas: And you played basketball?

Crocker: Tennis.

Freas: And then you went where?

Crocker: Western Kentucky.

Freas: Right on! And what did you do your freshman year?

Crocker: 21.2.

Freas: And what did you do your sophomore year?

Crocker: 20.8.

Freas: And what did you do your junior year?

Crocker: 20.4.

Freas: And what did you do your senior year?

Crocker: 19.7.

Freas: And when did you break the world record in the 50 meters short course? How old were you?

Crocker: 28.

Freas: You were lucky that you had a very special coach at Western Kentucky. Later you got involved with Paul Blair, and Sam Freas, and a bunch of other guys who think differently. If someone who you respected said to you: “I want you to do 10 x 200s on 2:30”, and kept you on a steady diet of that, what would happen to you?

Crocker: I probably would have lost some explosiveness.

Freas: And what else?

Crocker: My 200 free probably would have been a lot better. Thank you. I ask you this question: think of Michael Johnson. Fast, powerful, 19+ world record holder in the 200 meters. Let’s call him a 50 freestyler. And 40 some odd seconds in the 400 meters, let’s call him a 100 yards freestyler. He walks on to your pool deck, what do you do pre-season? I’ll tell you that in two weeks, he’s history. He’s going to professional football. This doesn’t make any sense at all. Think about it: I know it’s an analogy we have to think through, but we chase off so many great athletes through stupidity. Absolute stupidity. Because we have this thing where you have to bleed from every orifice of our body, and that we have to train cardiovascularly and we can brag to each other on the deck, “I did 28,000 today.”

I’m not saying sprinting is easy: because when I show you what we do, you’re going to understand that these guys blow lunch, get sick, they have a hard timer recovering, and they work as hard as people who put themselves on a diet of distance.

I want to talk about the Canadian track people right now: what are they doing? What are they doing in the sprints that’s different than the Americans? They’re doing exactly what I’m going to tell you today, and they are the best in the world. They are coaching people that have ability or desire to run fast, and they are not making them feel bad, and they are doing an awful lot of dryland work.

Women and men are different in sprinting. Basically, women dryland is exactly the same. Weight training I would do exactly the same except I would keep them going a little bit longer when you are tapering. If a person is a mesomorph you have to rest them more, and if it’s a female mesomorph you have to rest more. I think women because of their makeup, have to work a little bit harder during taper and maybe a little bit harder than a male sprinter.

Because our society is changing, we need to develop sprinters even more and more. We used to have a physical education program in schools. I think the state of Illinois is the only one that has a requirement for physical education. I used to play, believe it or not even though I’m a fat dude, I used to play outside when I was growing up until it got nightfall, and my dad would have to go find me and pull me in. Now guys watch television and play with computers and stuff like that, so physically you’re getting kids coming in the program that are inferior to what they were naturally because of the physical education programs. Also, when I grew up fighting was okay. I mean if you got mad at somebody you got it up and you whacked him a couple of times and then you were buddies. Now if you’re mad, you kill him. Fighting was much better. Somehow our society has gotten that, females particularly and mothers, it’s so terrible when you hit someone.

My son had a good friend who was the basketball coach’s son at Kenyon College where I was athletic director. So Stephen said to me one day in the car, and this guys’ son was in the car, “Daddy what should I do? Somebody is picking on me in the school yard. He’s picking on me and treating me bad, what should I do?” I said, “Tune him. Whack him, whack him so hard, and when you beat him, beat him bad. You’ll get a rep, and nobody is going to mess with you anymore.” He looked at me. The next day I am sitting in my office at Kenyon College and the basketball coach walks in. He puts his hands on his hips and says, “All right. Unbelievable.” I said, “What happened?” His son is black. He was in all white community. Somebody called him a bad name. Erin tuned the guy. Big time. So he gets called into the principal’s office, with Bill Brown the basketball coach and he says, “Do you teach your kid how to fight? What is the problem?” Bill goes to Erin and says, “Erin. Why?” He said, “Oh! Coach Freas told me to. Somebody calls me a bad name, tune the guy and they’ll never mess with me again.” So, the point is that our society — and I was wrong as a person and so forth and so on, but I’m kind of happy I did it — we are establishing people that aren’t TOUGH! Not in the sense of the swimming coach because they bleed from every orifice of the body, but we don’t develop the physical entities necessary, and the aggression necessary naturally to be a sprinter.

Let me get to the meat. The meat is this: in order to develop that, you have to develop an athlete on dryland.

My son Stephen is going to demonstrate. Let’s start off with some basic jumping drills. Let’s do five front jumps and five back jumps and don’t fall off the platform. What are we doing? We are working on jumping ability. Let’s do jumping in and jumping out of your hands. Five of them. Let’s do needles. Just do samples of a needle, either way. Let me take off the mike.

Do donkey kicks. Do handstand pushups. What we want to do is work dryland activities that physical education programs used to do. Let’s do cartwheels. These guys that coached with me will tell you that I had everybody doing cartwheels, hand springs, because I used to coach gymnastics believe it or not. We worked jumping, we worked all these things. In the twenty hour rule, when some people say, “I only have twenty hours to coach them and I have to put them in the pool,” I have a gesture that I would like to say to them, but I won’t. Take those twenty hours and develop these people as athletes. I ask the question, and I use to say to Steve Crocker and to people like Steve Crocker, “Steve, are you a good athlete?” Yeah. “Are there many people as good an athlete as you are, who are swimming?” No. Then just go do it. Isn’t that fundamentally the message that I’m trying to get across? You develop athletes. They are not born.

I was about 11.4 in the 100 yard dash. And I had great ambitions of being a football player. I knew I would not be a good football player unless I got fast. I ran on soft sand, I did all this stuff, and I’ll never forget when I took the baton at the Penn Relays in high school. I was running the 4×100 in the high school championships of America, running the third leg, with three brothers and myself. I could run under eleven seconds with a baton pass. That’s all I could do. I couldn’t go any faster. My stick work was great. But I made myself faster. I developed as a sprinter. I wasn’t a world class sprinter, but I got faster. I worked at it. A coach did not know how to do that. I worked at it.

Now. You’re talking about dryland activities where we do a lot of jumping. The best exercise that I know is the horizontal ladder. You know the monkey bars? Do the monkey bars and time people to go the distance, very, very important. Do butterflies with the monkey bars. All those experimental things that you do where you develop kids and develop athletes is important. Because what are you doing by having them do new things? What is one of the things on the list that you are doing? Self-concept. I find that self-concept changes quicker by people doing things they have never done before on land. Forget the water stuff: it’s too hard. You can’t see them, you can’t verbalize what’s happening, but you can actually see someone develop, as you do the dryland activity.

In my book, “Sprinting,” I details pretty much everything that we do. What I did for dryland development is put a concise program of about seven minutes where we do jumping and all these different things on the pool deck with mats. Then we do flexibility, then we do reaction drills.

One more story. Don Easterling had David Fox and the guy was not swimming very fast. Ray and I were out of coaching. Easterling calls me, “Come, because I’m not doing what is right with David Fox.” I told him what I did. He said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” He called Buzzard. Buzzard told him what he did. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” That year he won NCAAs in 19.1. It works!!! Try it!

Reaction drills: Hands together, I’ll give you a target, I want you to fire and comeback.

Let’s do feet. Easy starts. Fast feet. Foot reaction drills, long jump position.

You can develop foot speed. If you don’t think you need foot speed for sprinting, guess what? It ain’t happening.

Weights. Strength development is really important. At the beginning of the season we did circuit training. At the middle of the season we did what I called strength training, and towards the end we did power lifting. And then from whatever people reacted the best from, I wrote a personal prescription for them.

I did demonstrate flexibility, but it’s in the book and you guys need to do flexibility. You have to do flexibility before you do weights and flexibility afterwards. Do flexibility before you get in the pool, flexibility afterwards.

The other thing I want to talk about is a team coaching concept. I didn’t ask people to be like me. I wanted people who thought differently than me to be on my staff. I wanted them to at least be willing to try what I believed in. I wanted each person to work with all groups so we rotated groups because I might be able to ring Tom Jager’s bell but Ray Buzzard might not be able to. Think about it: if someone is on a team when they are stuck with the same coach all the time, and they don’t have the opportunity to work with other people that are available, who might ring their bell? It takes a lot of communication. That’s what I call a team coaching concept, rather than groups.

Turns. On turns, you go in a pool and push off the wall on your side, not on your back. I disagree with Ray Bussard on this. I never convinced him of this. Sticks, myself and Ray Buzzard used to go in diving tanks and push off the wall and kind of race each other coming off the wall. None of us were great athletes, but my point is the more you have your feet pointed straight down towards the bottom of the pool, the better you come off the wall. The rotating thing I don’t believe in. I don’t believe on the back. I believe you can gyrate on the somersault, get your feet down as best as you can, and push off and go very fast off the wall.

One thing that’s happened in swimming since I’ve left that’s different but the thing that’s different is fish-tailing and butterflying off the wall. I’ve been messing with that. It’s good. I don’t have the answer yet, because I just started working on it recently. But I still believe for men that probably pushing flat off the wall is the answer. Now in the book there’s a whole bunch of things on streamlining. I used to hear Ray Buzzard doing a “pop-up”. I used to get beat all the time. Then I realized that you had to keep in a streamlined position as long as possible, even after the first couple of strokes, and our turns got better.

Mental training: do you remember the mental training thing and visualization and cerebral process? Forget it! You want to teach an athlete not to think as a sprinter. It’s got to be automatic. You don’t want a sprinter to be cerebral. The intelligent sprinters are the most difficult to handle. You can be natively intelligent where your IQ might be 130, 140 but you want one of those guys who doesn’t worry too much about things. If you have a guy who thinks all the time and wants to get really technical on those things, the best thing to do is not think.

The other thing I never did is give sprinters times. When I would time somebody for a 25, it was one of these, “YO! Fantastic, Man! Do another one!” Because if you told them 9.1, they’ll think about it. “Ooh, that’ really fast. I wonder if he’s being a rubber watch kind of guy. I’m going to check it out with Steve Crocker, because Steve Crocker times differently.” And all of a sudden somebody gives him 9.3. “Oh! I’m slower. I probably shouldn’t have done the sprint in the first place. I’m tired already.” I don’t believe in giving times to sprinters because it makes them think.

Here is a good non-thinking story and it’s a breaststroker: I had a guy at the University of Arkansas. It was my first year of major college coaching. He got busted for public intoxication before the first meet and they threw him in jail. I find out that he’s got a record. I didn’t recruit him, another guy recruited him. I was going to kick the guy off the team. I decided not to kick him off the team, but I said, “You have to go to church, you have to go to Fellowship of Christian Athletes, you have to go to every class, you have to go to bed at nine o’clock. You have to void your mind completely and just do what the coach tells you to do. If you do that I’ll keep you on scholarship. You do it for two months, we’ll see what happens. Or you can give up your scholarship.” To make a long story short, he took the hard way: he basically did everything I told him to do. We go to the Southwest Conference Invitational. He’s a 1:02 breaststroker. He stands up and goes 57.1, 100 breaststroke. He comes out and says, “57.1. That’s great. I think I can go faster.” I said, “I think you can too.” He found out who he beat. And from the time he swum that race, he started thinking about who the other people were that he beat. And he went a minute in the finals. Because he wasn’t ready for what his body could do.

I’ve had more problems as a coach, because kids swim fast, and think too much, and can’t handle the success, because they improve so rapidly that their mind can’t keep up with their improvement. It’s a strange problem. How I would solve that is that you need to prepare them that they are going to be great. Then not worry whether they do well or bad. But if each person is special and you allow someone to have a process to get better, a process, not a time goal, a day to day process and treat them special, give them an individual prescription, that will help the mental training.

Let’s go to the sets. You have to swim fast every day if you’re going to swim fast. How many people sprint the first day? God bless you. How many people sprint the second day? Same people. Why not? Every single day you have to be swimming fast if they’re going to swim fast. We trash more people including myself during pre-season than I can possibly imagine. The book goes into precise sets that we do. I’m going to give you my favorite sets. My first favorite set is what I call speed development, where we have blades on our hands, hands are straight out, we kick, and we keep really high feet. In the book it says 9 inches to 15 inches.

I don’t think we have too many good sprinters right now. There was a time when we had some people going 19.2, 19.3, and a whole bunch of guys in America swimming really fast. And why don’t we have people swimming real fast right now? Why don’t we have people swimming real fast right now…? I love Dennis Pursley as a person, more than you can imagine. He’s a great father. He’s everything that everybody should try to be. But taking short course out of the swimming equation in our country is wrong. You can develop speed better in a 15 yard pool, a 12 yard pool, than in a 50 meter pool. I know we were swimming better in 1974, 1976, than we are now. Why? Because it was the height of… and it’s not the only answer, but short course swimming develops speed. A 20 yard pool is really important. A 15 yard pool is really important.

So the drill: head out, full speed, and they have to max out. HAMMER DOWN. MAX OUT! Our whole society doesn’t do that. We always hold back. Don’t hold back. GO NUTS! And I wasn’t afraid to jump up and down and scream and holler and go nuts, while all the other cool coaches were quiet. A guy that I love, I’ll never forget, called me a very dirty name at the Southeast Conference Championships, because I got too emotional. It’s okay to get emotional, because we’re dealing with the human spirit, it’s an emotional thing. How many people when you see “Running Brave” don’t feel something special when you see Billy Mills coming out of nowhere in the 10,000 meters. It’s an emotional thing.

Hands out straight, feet up. Four of them, maxing out. With blades, head up, water polo stroke, full speed. MAXING OUT! Take the blades off. Head up. Four, no interval. Interval? You put an interval on something they can’t max out. The key is learning how to max out. You have to supervise that. The next thing you do is take your blades off and you either do it with fins and then you max out. And that used to set people pretty well.

Next thing: weight belts. All that weighted swimming is paramount. The one that used to make people blow lunch more than anybody else and would make every swimming coach proud that you had them do it, is that you would put a 10 lb. weight on a swimmer, have them dive off the block, and have them descend 5 x 100’s. First length underwater with a 10 lb. weight, freestyle with head up out of the water, butterfly with head up out of the water, and then no breath coming back with a 10 lb. weight. Descend five of these. Guys: I was as close to getting beat up in that set than any swimming coach in the world. It’s a very good one. Swimming underwater, 100’s, 50’s with the first length underwater maxing out.

The other thing is, don’t breathe when you sprint. This longitudinal rotational thing that I’ve always been taught and you’ve been taught, it’s wrong. Good-bye. For 200 meters, 400 meters, distance swimming, if you don’t longitudinally rotate, you’re hurting. But the fastest way to theoretically swim is to try and square your shoulders and get them up out of the water as high as you can. I know I’m blowing your mind. Try it, you’ll like it.

I want to show you this Sprinting book again, because I can send Stephen to college if you buy this book, or the Aquatic Games book. They’re available by calling ASCA at 1-800-356-2722 or by calling the Hall of Fame.

Listen, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you. There are some people here that are different and have made people swim fast. Talk to them, ask them questions. It takes guts to be different. It really does, because the society will say you can’t do that.

As far as total volume in swimming, you can do anything you want to do in terms of volume, as long as you allow people to swim fast every day. The key to this whole thing is being able to know how to taper people and how to have people go fast once, twice, and three times in a row. That’s a whole different lecture. That’s reading the parasympathetic, the prioreceptive, and the central nervous system that not many people talk about. But I was taught in physical education, and so was Ray Mann, and so were certain people, because we were taught to do this. I wish I could talk to you more, because that’s an important read. For you to get the success that you want, you have to be able to make those reads. Thank you.

Freas’ Ten Essentials of Sprinting

  1. Race every day in practice.
  2. Swim at 100% speed all year long, not just during a taper.
  3. Swim superfast all year long, not just during a taper.
  4. Always work dryland to improve the components of fitness: strength, cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, agility and flexibility.
  5. Work on starts, turns and finishes almost every day in practice (at least five workouts per week).
  6. Practice swimming with no breath during a 50 and with only a few breaths during a 100. This gives better body position and better speed.
  7. Execute a high kick with the heels nine to fifteen inches out of the water. This gives better body position.
  8. Practice reaction drills every day.
  9. Change the training if a loss of speed results due to the trashing of the cardiovascular system or overtraining of the neuromuscular system.
  10. Be happy, don’t worry; get plenty of sleep and eat healthily.

The Big 4 of Starts and Turns

  1. The flatter a body is in relationship to the surface of the water, the faster and farther the body will travel on a turn and a push-off.
  2. The longer the head stays in a streamline position, increased speed and farther distance is achieved on a dive and turn. Keep the head in line for at least four strokes.
  3. The feet cannot start kicking soon enough off the wall and rarely too soon off the start.
  4. On the finish, when the body rotates to elongate the reach for the touch pad, a problem with the quality and accuracy of the touch is created. Keep your head down while watching the fingertips touch the wall.

Middle Distance Free by John Collins (1996)

Middle Distance Free by John Collins (1996)

INTRO: John Collins was all American butterflier from Indiana University in the mid of the 1960’s. He earned his law degree in 1972 from Fordham Law School. Since 1970, he has been the coach of Badger Swim Club, in Larchmont, New York. In addition, he has been the coach of Manhattanville College (Div. III) for the past 22 years. John Collins is best known for producing Olympic Champions. Champions like Rick Carey (1984), Lea Loveless (1992) and Christina Teuscher (1996). He has also produced middle distance freestyle champions, like Tobie Smith, Mimosa McNerney and Robert Darzynkiewicz. John Collins was named ASCA “Coach of the Year” in 1983.

I’m here to discuss the topic of training middle distance freestyle. It is a subject that not only is important but it’s vital to the success of swimming in this country today. It’s also a subject that I’m quite familiar with or should be since I have spent the last 25 years coaching the middle distance oriented program. You have to remember that I was 16 when I first started coaching. As long as I’m talking about 25 years ago and beyond I think it’s important to discuss a little bit about my past, and maybe some of the influences on my coaching career.

Obviously my one big influence was my dad. My dad was a coach. In fact, he was Joe Bernal’s coach. That is a little known fact, which I was hoping Joe would be here and I could spring that on him. He and I were teammates. I was influenced most at Indiana University during the 60’s when I was training with Doc Counsilman. He had an eclectic bunch of swimmers during those years, most of them were world class. The way he did it was by his innovations, his demeanor, and his intelligence. This had a lasting effect on my fragile egg shell mind. I think it’s interesting to note that during my years at Indiana the assistant coach was Jack Pettinger and the manager during those years was a young guy named Bob Rossett. So we had a pretty good group of people who are still around. I never thought I was going to be a coach, much to my father’s dismay I followed in his footsteps. I have a couple of things I want to give to you before I begin talking about middle distance training. Number one. My perspective in all this is from the point of view of a developmental coach that runs his own program. I deal primarily with swimmers who are 13 and up and are fed to me through my age group program. My group size is usually 20 to 30 swimmers. Number two, I’m not a great statistician, workout recorder, and scientist nor do I use a computer like many of my counter parts do. Don’t expect to hear detailed accounts of workouts or exact formulas for success. I will tell you what we do at Badger and what works for me and what I believe is important. Number three, I don’t think I’m going to teach you anything about middle distance that you don’t already know. But maybe I can refresh your memory with some of my insight.

My definition of middle distance may differ from yours, but in the early days it would be anything from the 220 to the 440. Nowadays it is probably more correct to say the 200 to the 500. Even though the title of this is middle distance freestyle, I’d like to take the liberty to say that my program basically deals with middle distance butterflyers, backstrokers, and breaststrokers. I really like that 200 distance and also the long IM’ers, the 400 IM. So if I can ask for your indulgence I’d like to include those into this discussion. In my way of thinking the category then basically includes the majority of swimmers. Which is to say that training for middle distance should be the bread and butter or the meat and potatoes of every club coach.

Middle distance training provides a necessary background for all types of swimmers to emerge. A lot of the great sprinters of today and even people like Mark Spitz, Tom Jaeger, and Jenny Thompson have all come out of great middle distance backgrounds. If you think you are a middle distance oriented coach a good test is the following: do you have a group of 10-14 year old kids who come into your program in September who are between 4:40 and 4:30 for the 400 meters? If you have a big smile on your face when they come in, I think you are middle distance oriented. I know I would be real happy to have 6, 8 or fewer kids like that walk into my program in early September that fits my program to a T.

One other way I have of looking at middle distance is like classical education. It prepares you for anything you might want to specialize in as time goes on.

My program is a classic middle distance training program. I would define it as very aerobic, middle of the road distance wise, emphasizing versatility and pulling. I do less kicking, strength training, and anaerobic speed work than most programs. It has a no pansies atmosphere and it provides a challenge in every workout. I encourage my swimmers to make 10 to 12 workout sessions per week. During the school season that means 1 1/2 hours in the morning which is about 5000 yards, and about 2 hours in the afternoon which is about 7500 yards. Saturday and Sunday are included some weeks, we go either 2 or 3 hours every morning. Once school is out the am’s and the pm’s pretty much line up to 2 hours each.

Facility wise, I am reminded of Scott Volcker’s talk yesterday when he described his training facility and the situation in Australia and how it was not ideal. Most of the year we train in basically a short course pool and we have since 1973. From September through almost the middle of June. It’s a 6 lane pool but not an ideal situation. It’s narrow and in many years the water was green and cold and not too many niceties around the facility. No showers. It was a small college team that I coached and I guess that I should mention that it is Manhattanville College. I always looked at it as an advantage. I have seen a lot of swimmers step up and come out of poor training situations to become world record holders. I’ve always felt that it was an advantage for me to train them in a poor facility and take them to a great pool, because I felt that they would automatically be able to swim faster — like going to Austin, Texas or going to the Montreal Olympic pool, or wherever else we may wonder into. I also felt it made them a little bit tougher. It was always real easy for me to sell the concept of, we were the David’s going against the Goliath of the swimming world. I could always characterize the California teams as having the great facilities and outdoor sunshine all year around. We were always the poor people on the block who didn’t have that much but we tried real hard to do well. I think it helped us psychologically to be able to come in with a little bit of an edge.

We trained long course in the summer at my own pool, which is a long course 50 yard pool. Again, it’s not quite 50 meters but it was great to have. The only problem in NY is the weather in the spring and summer. It doesn’t really turn warm until about June 15th. So the limit of the summertime was short — maybe 6-8 weeks of training or less. Fortunately we have been able to move to a long course pool which we train at once a day. I’m real thankful and it’s a great feeling to feel like a college coach.

My program has been successful. Jimmy mentioned Rick Carey and Lee Loveless. We have had some pretty successful middle distance freestylers recently and the ones that I can mention to you that you might know are Toby Smith, Mamosa McNurney and Christina Teuscher. I was real proud of the fact that Toby and Mamosa went on to become NCAA champions — the 500 for Mamosa and the mile for both of them. Of course Christina pretty much fits the same bill and comes out of the same program as they did. It’s great to be able to have people as good as that in the program. I can’t really say that it happened because they were produced. They are great talents and they worked real hard. I hope I have a few more of those come in the next couple years.

The program is successful because its middle distance oriented. I have always had that middle distance focus from year one. Which means I like what I produce, they are well rounded, tough minded swimmers. I think college coaches like them as well. If I had to describe my program and why it is successful in three words they would be consistency, persistence, and single mindedness of purpose.

When I say consistency I’m talking about approach. Of course it’s easy for me to say after 25 years, but I have been doing some of the same things for 25 years. I think it’s important to have that consistency in my approach to the swimmers and to the program. From the coach’s standpoint you’re pretty much the same, you don’t fly off the handle. You have the same, I don’t want to say workman like attitude or professional attitude, but it’s basically me. I try to maintain my demeanor even though at various places I may not want to.

It’s the same pool, same coach, same consistently challenging workouts, same goals, the workout atmosphere is primarily the same. I can say that every Badger swimmer is related to that common experience. I think that consistency is really important, whether you are training middle distance people or you are just coaching. You’ve got to be consistent in what you do.

As far as persistence is concerned I think it kind of speaks for itself. I had a professor in college in Roman History, I was an ancient history major, and as you all know the fall of Rome was a major talk of discussion in many history professor’s talks. He was very learned and his opinion as to why Rome fell was that they lost their persistent energy. The civilization ran out of gas. They started doing things differently. I always thought about that and I still do. I think that if we lose our persistent energy we’re going to fall a little bit back. So I try and remind myself of that and I try to do things the same. I keep trying to do things right and never give up even when sometimes things don’t go your way. It’s persistence.

Thirdly, single mindedness of purpose. It’s not too hard to figure that one out either. I find myself reading comic books, I know some of you do to, and there is a program on TV called Pinky and the Brain, and I have to confess that I like watching it. My son and I watch it as much as we can. It’s about 2 lab mice who are transmitted into something a little bit different. The Brain is very intelligent and Pinky is a little bit of an idiot. Each episode begins and ends the same way, with Pinky asking the brain “What are we going to do tomorrow night? “The same thing we do every night Pinky, try to take over the world.” That is what I try to do. I like to think that what I’m doing every day and every workout is trying to coach kids to become the best swimmers in the world. It’s that single mindedness of purpose. It’s maybe a harsh way of looking at it and I’m not interested in making them good looking swimmers or making their strokes correct. I want to be a good guy, but my main concern with coaching is trying to make them great. I always had that. Even in 1970-71 when I was in law school coaching a YMCA team. Maybe it’s a result of my early training but I think it’s something good to have.

Add to that equation plentiful pool time and I don’t think you can develop great middle distance swimmers without having a lot of water time. I’m not saying you can’t do it with 2 hours a day, but it sure helps when you have a key to the pool. You can go in and use that pool early in the morning and late in the afternoon. You can use that pool on Sunday and do whatever you have to do. You have to have that extra 15 or 20 minutes for an extra set. I think it’s real important to have a pool or facility that you can count on to use as much as you want to.

My main role as a coach is to train my swimmer’s intellect. To make them into educated champions. Anyone can write workouts and tell them here’s the 10 400’s and the timed 3000 of 3300 and do these every day and finish this workout and you’ll become a better swimmer but I think training their intellect is the real coaching challenge. Taking talented youngsters and making them into champions is what coaching is all about. That’s what gives me my motivation to continue to coach. I Think I have the best job in US swimming coaching my own developmental club team. The sky is the limit and hard work is a vehicle to success — where next swimmer I could work with the next Rick Carey or Lee Loveless or the next Christina Toucher. That’s what keeps me going and I think it’s real important that a coach has some kind of motivation that’s going to keep him passionate.

I will go statistically through what we do and I don’t think it’s anything drastic. We average between 70,000 and 80,000 meters or yards per week. Obviously that’s basic training time from September through November into December. We do cut it down for meets. When we go to major meets we usually do less but not always.

The heart of my program probably lies in these principles that are coming up. I don’t like to see swimmers swim slowly in competition. No matter what kind of meet they’re in. I don’t like to bore my swimmers with huge quantities of mindless yardage. I believe in proper stroke technique. I believe in building strength through swimming. I believe in aerobic training. I also believe in not squeezing the lemon dry. It’s my way of thinking.

Meets are more important than workouts in terms of performance. Which means I would rather have someone swim fast in a meet than do a great workout. A lot of times I would rather see a kid swim fast in a workout because it’s exciting for me as a coach and sometimes you can put people in situations where you know they can be challenged. Whether it’s a timed 100 or stand up and do something. Sometimes it’s better not to do that. That’s like squeezing a lemon too many times. The name of the game is competitive swimming and you have to do that in a meet. I’d rather have them save that fast swim for the next time they compete.

I’ll give you three workouts that we did this past year just in case you need them. If you listen to the radio station that plays rock and roll music, one of the formats they use are contests where they have people write in. If you were stranded on a desert island what three records or ten records would you want to have with you? I have deserted island workouts or deserted island sets. There are three workouts that I do that I think really sum up the Badger program, which worked for me for years and are valuable parts of our program and I think are the valuable parts of our middle distance training.

The three sets are 10-400’s, timed 3300, and 50 times 100. They can be done on different intervals and they can be done all different strokes. The 10-400’s that I like to do most is the 10-400 IM’s. I’ll give you various ways of breaking them up. I’ll give you a workout we did long course this summer: a 600 warm up; 5-200 freestyle pull on 2:20; kick 5-100’s with zoomers on 1:30; swim 5-400 IM’s reverse order on 6 minutes; go 5 more 200 pulls on 2:15 freestyle; kick 5 more 100’s with zoomers on 1:30; and then finish up with 5 more 400 IM’s straight order on 5:45 each one faster.

Christina finished up with the 5:01 in her last one. Then we finish up the workout with the easy 200 and that makes up 7800 which is basically the amount that we do.

The other set we do which I think is very good is the 50-100’s which we do short course and long course. Short course we try and get them down to doing them on 1:05. I feel that if they can do 50 100’s at 1:05 they are going to be in pretty good condition. Obviously not everybody can do them on 1:05 and you may have to do them on 1:10 or 1:15 or even start out slower than that. However the goal is always to move it down to the 1:05 category. The workout we did with those was a short course yard workout with an 800 swim kick pull. Usually you try to advertise this set, some say maybe tomorrow we may go those 100’s, so mentally you start to put the thought in their minds that this set is coming up. It’s a set that we do straight but we can also break it up into 30 straight and 1 or 2 minute break and go your last 20. You can also break up the interval if you want. We did 50 100’s on 1:05, straight set, and Christina averaged 1:01 on all of them. After that we swam down a couple hundred and that made up 7600.

The third thing that I think is an essential workout tool is the timed 3000 or timed 3300. It’s that over distance double 2 1650’s back to back. We do them as warm ups and we do them as timed efforts. As I said all the kids have done them from way back. Rick used to like to do them very fast. He was always real impatient. He liked to swim fast all the time. The one that we did this year was short course yards. We did warmups with a timed 3300. We told them negative split it. Christina was out in a little bit over 18 minutes and came back in low 17 minute effort. Rick, looking back, he would be doing them in the 32 minute range. After the 3300 we would pull 8-200 IM’s reverse order on 2:30 to 2:45, kick 2 400 choice, swim a 400 IM and finish up with 30-50’s swim or pull on 35. They swam down 200 and that made up 7800 yards which again is about an average workout for us.

So there you have it in a nut shell. That’s the hurt, pain, and agony Badger style. The timed 400 IM, the timed 400’s, timed 3300, and 50 100’s.

I want to talk to you about Christina Toucher. She is basically an ideal candidate for a middle distance training program. Her best events are the 200 free, 400 free and the 400 IM. She is somebody that you would all love to have in your program because she possesses unusual speed. She goes 56.3 in the 100 meters and she has a distance swimmers endurance. She’s been 16:34 for 1500 meters and she has been world ranked from the 100 to the mile in a single year. She has unusual range for a freestyler. It is something that I really liked about her especially the ability she has to have speed. Plus she possesses a German like attitude toward training. Which means she shows up for every workout and completes each one.

Like in many middle distance swimmers I think she could be a great IM’er. She likes to win, to be successful and seems to get better the more races she swims. I spotted her at a JO meet when she was 12 years old. I had never seen her swim before and she was in my age group program. She was swimming the 500 freestyle and I think she was in the low 5:30’s for her final time. I liked the way she looked, the way she swam. She had an ability to ride high on the water and she caught the water very quickly and very well. I told Kip, my assistant coach, that I wanted to move her up right away. She was scared to move up and scared of the workouts but she did her best to complete them and despite her girlish fears she found she could do them and do them well. She obviously made rapid progress and I think she won her junior nationals at 14 years old. Like many exceptional athletes the sky is the limit for her. Her only limitation is herself.

Her favorite sets would be the 50 100’s and 10 400 IM’s. Her Olympic experience this year could have been disastrous. She is somebody who I thought could possibly medal in her individual best, the 200 and 400 freestyle. She was training pretty well going into the games. She went away with the US team from July 9 until the Olympics began. She is someone who may have missed a little bit of personal attention. I didn’t get to see her very much during that period and at the games themselves I wasn’t really able to talk to her on a comfortable basis. She is used to having someone close to her and her family nearby.

I think if you watch the tapes of the 200 freestyle once you get up to the trials she had a real funny look on her face and it just wasn’t her. I think she was really scared and kind of got herself unnerved and she swam that way. The same was true in her 400 freestyle. Thankfully she had a couple of days to settle down after the 400 and she was able to swim the relay and thank God it worked out very well, and she was able to come home with a gold medal. She swam a little bit better and I think more of an indication of the way she could have swam.

The challenge with her now is that she has decided to take an alternative route as far as college is concerned. She is going to Columbia University in New York — a place which she chose. It’s a very good academic institution and she likes the idea of going to school in NY, she likes the cosmopolitan atmosphere. She like the academic riggers facing her and she intends to train with me on a daily basis. Of course the unusual part is that she could have gone to Stanford or USC or any other place in the country with a full ride and instead she is paying $25,000 to go to Columbia and stay closer to home. It’s an experiment I guess. A lot of people are looking at it, and a lot of college coaches are looking at it and it will be a real challenge to see if we can pull it off and have her swim well this year. It’s a challenge that I welcome and I think it’s something that maybe more people should look at. Especially club coaches who have kids that they work very well with and instead of trouping them off to college to possibly an unknown coach, or someone who doesn’t know them as well as you do — maybe there are other ways to do things. I think some of you are aware that Brooke Bennett took the money and so she won’t be competing in college in a couple years or whenever that turns up. I think swimming is changing a little bit along those lines.

I have some concepts that are very closely related to my program and I think that I’d like to discuss a few of them or throw them out to you and if you have any comments please feel free to ask me.

The first thing is window of opportunity. It doesn’t stay open forever. I think if you’re going to coach a club and have swimmers that you’re trying to point towards national competition and you have people who are talented, I think that you have to understand that they may not be great for long. You may find that your opportunity with them may only be a couple years and I think that you’ve got to make the most of that opportunity before the window closes. I also think that this also means that you’ve got to encourage those swimmers a little bit more. There is an urgency here. There are no rules about swimming fast when you are 15 or 16. One of the things that bothers me with US Swimming today is you don’t see too many high school boys being finalists in nationals or making their mark before they go to college. I think that it wasn’t always that way. I think that you have to try and work real hard with those guys and make sure they understand that you don’t have to wait until college to become good swimmers.

The other concept I’d like to use is to practice horticulture not agriculture. It’s like vegetation and planting flowers, you have to take care of them every day. Each plant and each flower has to be given a dose of daily attention. It’s nice to have a big team and in some ways financially I think that it’s great to have 80 to 100 kids in your program. Obviously you can’t deal with them all yourself. I usually can handle 20 to 30. It’s much better if it’s lower. I think that you’re able to get to those people on a much more effective basis if you have fewer people to worry about. When you want to produce national caliber swimmers I think that you are going to have to understand that you can’t work with everybody. So you have to practice horticulture which also means that you have to work with your good swimmers, the people who need your attention every day. Not just for a week, not just for a month, but you work with them every day for years.

The third concept is competitive swimming. I don’t want to sound stupid, but it is competitive swimming that we are talking about her. I think that my program is a good program and I like to win. I like to beat other teams. I like to win titles. I think that the swimmers you deal with and the swimmers you are coaching have to have that competitiveness as well. You can’t lose sight of the fact that they have to stand up and race and beat people. It’s nice to have a friendly atmosphere at a meet and it’s nice to have coaches you are friendly with. It’s nice to go to meets and have everybody say I like what you’re doing with your kids, your kids are doing great.

I think you lose a little bit if you get sucked into that philosophy where everyone is friends and everything is hunky dory. As long as you make your junior cuts, everything is fine. I think that kids thrive better on teams like mine. I don’t want to say a cut throat, competitive atmosphere, but back in the late 70’s early 80’s we had a very strong region one. That’s in NY and New England where we would be highly competitive and tried really hard to beat teams like Joe Bernal’s team and Chuck Warner’s team when he coached at Wilton Y, and John Leonard’s team when he coached the Syracuse Chargers. We had some real classic and monumental team battles. Whether it was at the state championship level or the region one, which were great and that’s the years when I had some great swimmers. Some of those region one meets in those days, when you look back on them, produced faster top 5 or 6 times than some Jr nationals we’ve had recently. So I think that we have gotten away from that and I think it’s important to remind ourselves that this is competitive swimming we are talking about.

Another thing which is important. I used to listen to a lot of Jim Morrison songs and I had a t-shirt that said break on through to the other side, which was a Doors song. Of course the meaning is obvious, you want to produce swimmers that are going to break through that barrier and the barrier is usually a record. I think it’s something that you have to try to bring up to your swimmers as well. Not just get up to a certain level, let’s get to Jr’s, let’s get to sr’s and that’s great in itself. That’s fine. It’s a step. But the fact is you have to do something really good. Your goals have to be set at the highest level. We always use that little saying.

I can also look at this year’s Olympic trials and look at performances that were done there and compare them to the times that were done in actual performances in Atlanta and say maybe we didn’t do much breaking through from March until July. I can look at Christina’s times and say gee she was 1:59.5 in March in Indianapolis and going to Atlanta and goes to 2 minutes point. Or I could say in 1994 she was a 1:59.8 200 freestyler and now 2 years later she is a 1:59 200 freestyler. I’m not doing a very good job at getting her to break through because we are pointing much faster. I think that maybe we have to look are ourselves and ask if we are we becoming great maintainers, then maybe we’re not such great coaches. We’re just becoming great maintainers. It’s important to keep that concept in your mind. You have to break on through, you have to do something real good.

I was looking through the US Swimming rules and regulations and in the back they have the records. It is interesting looking through them. I don’t do it very often but I did notice that in the 1995 age group records in the 13-14 200 meter backstroke Rick Carey is still in the record books with a 2:08.12 from 1977, which I find amazing. I’m proud of the fact that he’s still there. The other record that I’m proud of and I hope it wasn’t broken this year is Robert Darsen Kevich holds the men’s jr national east at 15:43 done in 1988. I think both of those records point out a weakness in swimming that we have today. We’re not producing great distance boys at that age and we should be. Someone told me yesterday that Rick’s record had been broken this year, but I won’t think about that. We’ve got to do things that are going to get these kids swimming faster. I think that one of the things that you can do is run a strong middle distance oriented program.

I think one of the problems with US swimming today is the glorification of the prima donna sprinter. I lay this at the feet of a lot of college coaches. When you start elevating a sprinter, a 100 or a 50 person and give them status that is a little bit above that of a middle distance or a distance swimmer in their programs, I think that we have changed the course of swimming in this country. It has happened over the past 10 years. I think that they get a lot of special treatment. They get special coaches and there is no doubt that they swim fast, but I think their worth, especially when you’re talking about long course swimming, is really not that valuable in terms of US swimming. It’s great to have college swimmers swim fast in that 50 but it doesn’t seem to help our cause in the Olympics or world championships. That’s my middle distance bias showing.

I wanted to basically finish up with two points. One is an article from a newspaper in Fort Lauderdale during the nationals. It was the last day. It’s something that I think is important to think about. Bill Peak was honored, one of my good friends, and a friend to many people here. He was honored the last night at nationals primarily by Mary T and some of his former swimmers. He is quoted in this paper. “It still comes down to work ethics”, Peak said, “It’s great we did well at the Olympics but you can’t lose sight that it wasn’t because they swam fast. It was because the rest of the world swam slowly.” Don’t get caught up in the hoopla. We certainly won a lot of medals but I’m not sure that we swam that well.

Number two is don’t haggle with the watermelon vendors.

Question from Audience: How important do you consider dryland training for a middle distance female?

John: I think it’s advantageous but it’s a question of how much you can do. When you talk about high school age kids, I don’t like to compromise my water time. When they go into high school it’s hard to fit in that extra hour that they need 2 or 3 times a week. We do work on the VASA Swim trainer, we do some light calisthenics and I think it’s important. We try to fit in 30 to 45 minutes, 3 days a week. We don’t do a lot of weight training.


The 1992 USA Olympic Team Report by Richard Quick (1996)

The 1992 USA Olympic Team Report by Richard Quick (1996)

INTRO: Richard Quick will begin his ninth year coaching the Women’s Team at Stanford University. This will be his 21st season overall at the collegiate athletic level. In the eight years he has been at Stanford, he has guided Stanford to six NCAA championships. Previously at the University of Texas Coach Quick’s team also won 11 national titles. He has received five NCAA Coach of the Year honors, three Pac-10 Coach of the Year Awards and one Southwest Conference Coach of the Year accolade. Some of Quick’s international highlights came in 1988, when as head coach of the national team, the U.S.A. brought home 17 medals at the Seoul Olympics. At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Quick served as an assistant coach, helping the U.S.A. team capture 27 medals. In 1984, as an assistant coach, Quick helped the U.S. win three gold medals. In 1996 Coach Quick is the head coach of the Women’s Olympic team. Quick and his wife, June, reside in Menlo Park with June’s children, Tiffany, Benjamin, Kathy and Michael. Coach Quick also has a daughter, a son, and two grandchildren!

Wow. Seven days of fantastic swimming and competing at the Olympic Games. Seven days, 15,000 people watching the preliminaries. 15,000 watching the finals. Over 200,000 people watching swimming in the home facility. The United States team racing well, doing an outstanding job of representing our country and our sport in the highest level of competition. It is an honor, deeply felt, to be here, having been associated with that team. It was an honor to coach your Olympic team.

I’d like some help. I have asked for help a lot over the last year. I would like the following coaches to stand: Peter Banks, coach of Olympic champion Brooke Bennett in the 800 meter freestyle; Murray Stephens, coach of Olympic champion Beth Botsford in the 100 backstroke and the 400 medley relay; Jonty Skinner, coach of Olympic champion Amy Van Dyken in the 50 meter free, a new American record, the 100 meter butterfly, the 400 freestyle relay, a new American record, and the 400 medley relay, a new American record; Skip Kenney, coach of Jeff Rouse, gold medal winner in the 100 backstroke, gold medal winner in the 400 medley relay with a new world record; Mark Schubert, coach of Brad Bridgewater, Olympic champion in the 200 meter backstroke; and John Urbanchek, coach of Olympic champion Tom Dolan in the 400 meter individual medley.

Also, Jill Sterkel, coach of silver medalist Whitney Hedgepath in the 100 and 200 meter backstroke, gold medalist in the 400 meter medley relay; Kevin Thornton, coach of Allison Wagner, silver medalist in the 400 individual medley; Dave Salo, coach of Amanda Beard, silver medalist in the 100 breaststroke with a new American record and silver medalist in the 200 meter breaststroke, and gold medalist in the 400 meter medley relay; John Urbanchek again, silver medalist Eric Namesnik in the 400 individual medley and silver medalist Tom Malchow in the 200 butterfly; Jonty Skinner again, silver medalist Tripp Schwenk in the 200 backstroke; Mike Bottom, coach of Gary Hall, silver medalist in the 50 and 100 meter freestyle, gold medalist in the 400 medley relay with a new world record and gold medal in the 400 freestyle relay; Ed Fraser and John Trembley, coaches of Jeremy Linn, silver medalist in the 100 breaststroke with a new American Record, gold medalist in the 400 medley relay. Mike Martino, coach of Angel Martino, bronze medalist in the 100 meter freestyle and the 100 meter butterfly and gold medalist in the 400 free relay and 400 medley relay.

Ladies and gentleman, in my opinion, these coaches are the heroes of our profession for the last quadrennial and for the year and for the Olympic Games in Atlanta. They did an outstanding job coaching people to the ultimate, winning medals in the Olympic Games. Congratulations to those coaches.

These coaches coached gold medalists in relays: (The United States won all 6 relays.) Jonty Skinner with Trippy Schwenk in the medley relay, David Fox in the 400 free relay, and John Olson in the 800 free relay and 400 free relay; Skip Kenney, coach of Kurt Grote, gold medalist in the 400 medley relay and Jeff Rouse in the 400 medley relay; David Marsh, coach of John Hargass, 400 meter medley relay, Scott Tucker 400 free relay; Eddie Reese, coach of Josh Davis, 3 Olympic gold medals in all the relays, medley, 400 and 800 free relays; John Tanner, coach of Brad Schumacher, gold medalist in the 400 and 800 free relay; Jack Simon, coach of Joe Hudepohl, gold medal in the 800 freestyle relay; Eddie Sinnott, coach of Ryan Berube in the 800 free relay; Ed Fraser and John Trembley, coaches of Jeremy Linn, gold medalist in the 400 medley relay. Jill Sterkel, coach of Whitney Hedgepath in the 400 medley relay; Murray Stevens, coach of Beth Botsford in the 400 medley relay; Dave Salo, coach of Amanda Beard in the 400 medley relay; Mark Schubert, coach of Kristine Quance, in the 400 meter medley relay; Mike Martino, coach of Angel Martino in the 400 medley and free relays; Jonty Skinner, coach of Amy Van Dyken in the 400 medley and free relays; Peter Malone, coach of Catherine Fox, gold medalist in the 400 free relay and the 400 medley relay; Frank Busch, coach of Melanie Valario, 400 free relay; Greg Troy, coach of Trina Jackson and Ashley Whitney in the 800 meter free relay; Cindy Galagher, coach of Annette Salmeen, gold medalist in the 800 free relay; Greg Phill, coach of Sheila Taromina, gold medalist in the 800 free relay; and John Collins, coach of Cristina Teuscher, gold medalist in the 800 free relay.

Also putting people on the Olympic team: Pat Hogan put on 13 year old Jilen Siroky; John Carroll put Peter Wright on the men’s team in the 1500 freestyle.

Congratulations to you all.

This team coached by these people won 13 gold medals, 11 silver, 2 bronze for a total of 26 medals. We won 13, the closest country to us was Russia with 4. In the total medal count we won 26. There was a tie for second place, Australia with 12 and Germany with 12. China, 1 gold medal — I’ll come back to that issue.

There is going to be a women’s slant to this report because I coached the women’s team. From time to time I may give you something that just pertains to the women. The women won 4 individual events and 3 relays. The men won 3 individual events and 3 relays. We had one world record, the men’s 400 medley relay. Jeff Rouse split 53.95, the third fastest ever. And now he owns 9 of the top 12 performances. Jeremy Linn had the second fastest split ever at 1:00.32 in the 100 breaststroke. Mark Henderson, 52.39, 5th fastest split ever in the 100 fly. I don’t have Gary Hall’s split on the medley but on the 400 free relay Hall split 47.45, the fastest split ever in relay swim history. [Editor’s note: Hall split 48.18 on the medley relay.]

There were six American records set in the meet: the men’s medley relay, Amy Van Dyken in the 50 freestyle, Amanda Beard in the 100 breaststroke at 1:08.04, the 400 freestyle relay — wow, what a split from Amy Van Dyken, 53.9 and Jenny Thompson anchored with 54.1, and Angel Martino and Catherine Fox, the 800 meter freestyle relay with Trina Jackson, Cristina Teuscher at 1:58 plus, Sheila Taromina and Jenny Thompson, (I call those middle legs, the 2nd leg, the inner anchor leg. Amy Van Dyken — inner anchor leg, Cristina Teuscher — inner anchor leg, fantastic job) and Jeremy Linn a new American record in the 100 breaststroke.

We had three one-two finishes. I don’t know of anything that is more exciting and more momentum building than having a one-two finish: the men’s 400 individual medley, the women’s 100 backstroke, and the men’s 200 backstroke.

16 of the 20 women on the team won a gold medal. 16 of the 20! There are those who might say, “Well those preliminary relays don’t count.” I disagree with that 100%. If you are on the volleyball team and you don’t play at all and the team wins the gold medal, you get that gold medal. Every swimmer that swam in the preliminaries earned their gold medal, they played a role.

17 of the 20 women on the team won a medal. 18 of the 20 women have won an Olympic medal in their careers.

There is a person I want to mention here because she didn’t win a medal. It was Whitney Metzler from North Baltimore, coached by Murray Stephens. The 400 individual medley for women is the first day of the meet. We were pretty sure that Angel and Amy where going to at least final in the 100 freestyle. But we all know of the controversy with which Whitney made the team. [Metzler made the team when first place trials qualifier Kristine Quance was disqualified.] Her preliminary swim, in my opinion, helped set the tone for our women’s Olympic team. She qualified 5th. She swam her lifetime best. She had a fantastic competitive effort. And it helped set the tone. You don’t have to be a medal winner to play a significant role in the success of the team. Whitney Metzler played that role.

Sixteen of the 24 men won Olympic gold medals. 18 of the 24 men medaled. It is the first time since 1984 that we have won the meet on all fronts. There are those — and I do not want to detract from the ’84 team — who might say that ’84 might be a little different because of the boycotting going on. If you want to go back a little farther, it was 1972 that we last won the men’s, the women’s, the combined, the gold medals, and the total medals.

We had 46.1 percent of the swimmers swim faster than they did at the trials. That is an improvement of over 10 percent from 1992. In 1988 we were 17.3 percent in that category.

What played a role in that? I think you have to consider that the home field advantage played a role. Those 15,000 people were fantastic for United States Swimming. I think you have to consider that our trials were not as fast, but don’t take credit away from the fact that these athletes improved their performances from the trials to the games. The games are a very difficult chore.

The women’s team’s improvement from trials to games ranked 4th behind Olympic teams in 1972, 1956, and 1984. On the men side, they ranked 6th behind teams in ’76, ’72, ’60, ’48, and ’52. 41 percent of the athletes swam lifetime best times. I think in that area we are going in the right direction.

On the women’s side, the team make up was as follows: there were 9 club swimmers; there were 6 post grads, 4 of those came from university based programs and 2 came from club based programs; there were 4 university based athletes; there was one resident team athlete. 15 coaches on the women’s side put people on the Olympic team.

[Editor’s note: In delivering the following paragraph, Coach Quick stepped aside from the podium and podium microphone to address the audience in his own voice.]

One of the things that is very important to do is to understand that the coaches I have named are the not the only coaches that have played a significant role in the development of these swimmers. Many of these swimmers were touched by people in this room and others. Every one of you played a role. Some of you played a role that you don’t even realize because you may not have coached them. You may have just said something that made a difference. I believe in a positive atmosphere. I believe it plays a significant role. I think it is imperative that we believe in our sport, believe in our athletes, believe in our coaches, and sell that to United States Swimming and sell that to the rest of the United States. It starts with ourselves. Many of you are so unselfish because you helped me and the other coaches that somehow, unjustly, get too much of the credit. You, as a body of professionals, have done a fantastic job and deserve to give yourself a hand.

How does all this happen? I would like to give credit to people who have really stepped forward. In my opinion, after the personal coaches, by far the most important person with regard to our success at the international level and the Olympic level goes to our national team director Dennis Pursley. Leadership starts at the top. He has been on the job for seven years. I think one of the most critical things that Dennis Pursley did was in Rome at the world championships where the Chinese won 13 of the 16 races, Dennis organized a petition and press conference to identify and bring to the public the drug issue and FINA’s lack of responsibility and the IOC’s lack of responsibility in those areas. He did that in the face of some advice from people at United States Swimming that that was not his role. I cannot think of one other thing that is more important than to provide fair competition and have the highest priority be athletes. You may not agree with Dennis Pursley all the time — I don’t — but that man’s priority is athletes and fair competition. He was willing to put his job on the line to do this. It made a huge difference in our efforts in Atlanta. Dennis has done a great job of educating all of us about what is needed to be successful and he is the one person in United States Swimming that totally focuses on excellence at the international level. It is an extremely important position.

Dennis was also supported extremely well by his assistant Brian Schrader and Candi MacConaugha, both of those people did unbelievable work.

It’s great to coach with somebody at the international level that you 100 percent trust, that you 100 percent believe is loyal to the team and head coach. Mark Schubert and I are fierce, fierce competitors at the collegiate level, but he was a fantastic coach on the Olympic staff. He had wonderful insight, wonderful experience. He did a great job for your Olympic team.

Greg Troy from the Bolles School did another outstanding job at the Olympic Games. He had two people on the Olympic team. You talk about a man with focus, he did the little things every day that make a big difference.

Murray Stephens has been doing it forever. He had a gold medalist in 1984. He put people on the Olympic team in 1992, another gold medalist. And now another gold medalist in this Olympics.

The staff of Mark Schubert, Gregg Troy, and Murray Stephens make my job relatively easy because we were all on the same page with the athletes being our number one priority.

It was an honor to be on the staff with the head men’s Olympic coach Skip Kenney. Skip is my best friend. What an incredible honor to be the co-head coach with Skip. He had the ability to bring a team together. Sometimes when there are interesting things going on with team chemistry, he can bring it together.

Eddie Reese is a very close friend. I was at the University of Texas with him for six years. I learned an enormous amount from Eddie and he did a great job advising all of us about things that would help us be successful at the Olympics.

John Urbanchek from the University of Michigan, the great Hungarian. The guy is a great coach, he stays with it, he is fun to be around, and he makes a difference in the staff.

David Marsh. On a personal note, I am extremely proud of David. He swam for me at Auburn University and my buttons are busting off my shirt — he put two people on the Olympic team and was on the Olympic staff.

Make no mistake about it, if a staff doesn’t have chemistry, and doesn’t have focus on the goals, I don’t care how great the athletes are, and we would sabotage things. Thanks to all those men for a great job as the Olympic coaching staff.

There was another coach that was at the meet, Jonty Skinner. Jonty was fantastic. He helped me immensely, especially with the relays. Before decisions were made on relays, who was going to swim and in what order, Jonty would show me a list of all the teams of all the countries that might challenge us with all their times, and their probable order and splits. All I did was say, “Ok, let’s go.” It was amazing how accurate he was. It allowed us to say to our teams, “We’re the best swimming team in this meet, in this relay. We don’t have to push the start in order to win the relay. We can do it in the pool.” That makes the athletes a lot more comfortable. Jonty, thanks for your role.

There are six people I am going to mention next that you cannot, or at least I cannot, understand why they take the jobs that they do. It is almost thankless. It seems like it is never ending. These people are tireless. They are our managers and trainers. Our three managers are either coaches in their own right or they are wives of coaches — which means she is really a coach. Susan Teeter was our head manager. What an incredibly detail oriented person. For 18 months she planned to the absolute detail what was needed for the team to be successful. It was incredible. Not only that, but she brought an attitude to the team of being able to listen, particularly to the women’s team, and particularly to the young athletes and they were having problems with the Olympic pressure. She was a fantastic head manager.

Joke Schubert was so incredibly efficient but with a relaxed manner that allowed everyone around her to be relaxed. You can be efficient sometimes and drive people nuts. Not Joke, just the opposite.

Jack Jackson was tireless and dedicated. He was concerned about the needs of others all the time, way before his own needs. Ladies and gentleman, Jack’s wife during that period of time was very sick. You would not have known it with his dedication to our Olympic team.

The trainers Skippy Matson, Jill Wells, and Emory Hill worked like dogs the whole time they were involved with the Olympic team and did it with a smile on their face. It is my opinion that when and athlete is lying down on the rubdown table getting a rubdown from athletic trainers it is one of the most critical moments. The trainer could be saying the wrong thing and really bother an athlete. These trainers knew what to do technically and knew what to do from a human standpoint. They were fantastic.

Dr. Craig Farrell was a tremendous aid helping all the time reminding us how to handle the drug issue, making sure that we didn’t take something inadvertently that might disqualify one of us. It might seem like a little thing but in today’s world it is huge. We absolutely trusted Craig with that issue.

Other people were there. Jim Wood is chairman of the Operations International Committee (OIC) and helped with the team. I think it is critical that the chairman of our OIC be at those meets with the athletes and coaches so that our political process is a reflection of what the athletes and coaches need to be successful. There are two other people I think played significant roles. Charlie Snyder and Matt Farrell did a great job of helping us manage the press. The press in the Olympic Games is huge. Those guys did and extraordinary job of helping us with that issue. In fact they were part of a strategy I think helped with the Olympic Games. In 1992 after our trials we allowed ourselves to be built up before we did anything in Barcelona to be the most dominant team ever assembled. So when something would go wrong, the press ate us up. This time the strategy was, and it was easy to do, to position us as the underdogs. The Chinese really helped us. Two years before in the world championships they won 13 out of 16 races. The strategy was, maybe in 1996 we could do something because we were in our home pool. When the ball started rolling, it was fantastic. I thank those guys for their role in that.

Amy Van Dyken won 4 gold medals, the most gold medals in one Olympiad by a U.S. woman in any sport in either the winter or summer games. Josh Davis won 3 gold medals, the most by an American male. Jenny Thompson won her fifth gold medal, all on relays. That tied Bonny Blair for the most gold medals by a U.S. female Olympian and is second to total medals in a career to Shirley Babashoff. Angel Martino at 29 years old won two gold medals and two bronze which brings her total to six.

On the women’s side we had three captains, Whitney Hedgepath, Angel Martino, and Janet Evans. They did a great job of giving, caring, and a great job of leadership. Janet Evans, what a star, what a great Olympic champion. I know she didn’t win any medals in this Olympics but you would not have known that by her interaction with her teammates to help them be successful. I thought that was significant.

I already mentioned Dennis and his role in Rome. There were other people who played a significant role in the drug war — and believe me, it is a war. John Leonard, the Executive Director of the American Swimming Coaches Association, his passion for this issue, his passion for fair competition for our athletes and all athletes over the world is unequaled and his work in that area is unequaled. I am not at liberty tell you about everything he has gone through in that area. It is serious. It is even somewhat dangerous. He’s been helped at the international level by two fantastic people who are our guests at this clinic, Cecil Colwin and Forbes Carlile. I can promise you these guys are not going to let go of that issue. I know that there are some people here that are somewhat tired of hearing about it, but it affects the very existence of our sport at the absolute grass root level. Upper middle class America will not let their children participate in a sport that is drug infested.

In 1976 the East Germans dominated the Olympic Games. The talk was that they did it with drugs and it has been proven since then. I gave a talk last spring to the U.S. Swimming doctors talking about this issue. One of those doctors reported to me after the talk that in 1976 he had the parents of two 12 year old girls call him up and asked him how they could get their daughters on steroids so they could be successful at the Olympic Games. I don’t think there is anybody in this room who wants to be associated with athletes doing that, but it is going to happen if we don’t continue, not asking, but demanding that the IOC, that FINA, that the USOC, that USS win this war. We have to have it.

Other people who have worked hard in this area: Peter Daland, Carol Zaleski, Ross Wales, Jim Woods — there is a guy who is so effective behind the scenes it is incredible — and Ray Essick.

Part of the psychology of the team started in Rome at the world championships. I called our women’s team together right after the meet and asked them to continue to work hard with high goals and not to sell themselves short and special things might happen in Atlanta. I promised them in return that we would do everything possible to provide the fairest competition possible. They bought it. Isn’t it a thrill to coach athletes that buy a philosophy and then work at it on a daily basis? I am extremely proud of those women.

I thought we did a fantastic job of racing highlighted by one one-hundredth of a second victory in the 50 meter freestyle by Amy Van Dyken and three one-hundredths of a second in the 100 meter butterfly. That’s racing. That’s inspirational to those of us and the athletes that were watching the competition. Our kids raced and raced for the wall.

I thought that our focus on improving our times from the trials to the games was critical. We didn’t talk too much about the number of medals we were going to win. We talked about improvement. We talked about racing. They bought the philosophy. I thought our meeting in Indianapolis right after the trials was critical. The message was sent there about the responsibility that we had to represent our country well in the Olympic Games in our own back yard pool. I thought it was a tremendous meeting and I know it was important.

Our training camp in Colorado Springs after trials was one of the things we did well. All of the personal coaches were invited to come. Most did. It really helped the communication between the Olympic staff and the personal coaches. We also did another thing that I think we need to do a good deal more of. At that training camp we trained together, men and women intermixed, racing each other. I believe it helped, not only our performances in Atlanta but our team chemistry going in. When you work together to get better, your chemistry improves. That began to happen in Colorado Springs at that training camp.

By the way, at that training camp, those workouts were primarily designed by Jonty Skinner and John Urbanchek and it make a huge difference.

I thought our meet in Phoenix, when we gathered together as a team, and allowed to race as the US Olympic team made a difference. We swam relays together. We were the Olympic team, prior to the Olympic Games and it started in Phoenix. I thought our team did a great job especially getting closer and supporting each other.

I was struck by the fact that most athletes and coaches had a plan, not only to make the Olympic team, but to improve from the trials to the games. That plan did not start at the trails. It was part of the plan from one to four years prior. I often remember what Peter Daland talked about. You plan for the Olympic trials for 3 and one half years and then in the last half year before the trials you plan to make the team. But if you plan to do well in the Olympic Games from the beginning, you are going to have a lot better chance of being successful in the games.

I asked Peter Malone about his plan for Catherine Fox for the Olympics. We had two, two hour meetings where he went over an incredible plan. You know what was great? Peter Malone sold his athlete that the Olympic staff could help her swim faster. We all are trying to coach our athletes to be independent. Can we put our egos enough to the side to say, “That Olympic staff can help you go faster.” Try to make it personal. “Mark Schubert knows more about turns than anybody I know. He can really help you in that area.” That doesn’t mean that you don’t prescribe the workouts. That doesn’t mean that those workouts aren’t followed. What it means is there is a confidence built up between the staff of the Olympic team, the personal coach, and the athlete. I think that was well done, but I think we can do better.

I thought the organization of going to Atlanta for about three days and processing and then going to Knoxville was a good idea. In Atlanta the first time we experienced the village. As a coaching staff we were worried because the athletes wanted to see everything there was to see in the village. There were a lot of distractions. The processing takes a long time. But those three days were ok for those distractions. Then we went to Knoxville where we had two 50 meter pools and we could use them anytime we wanted to during the day. We had a hotel situation where each athlete and coach had a room by themselves so that they could rest on their own schedule which I think was critical at that time. Knoxville was a time to focus and when we got away from the hype of the Olympic village that happened. Then we came back to Atlanta about 3 days before the games and got ready to race. Thanks to Susan Teeter and Dennis Pursley for working all that out.

There are some things that we might be able to improve upon. We have to be careful that we don’t miss the chance to learn. Sometimes you learn more in defeat than in victory. I have already talked about the relationship between personal coaches and Olympic athletes and the Olympic staff. I think we should consider trying to sell our athletes on more or longer training camps where people could race against each other. One of the problems with having an early trials is that athletes are not racing enough against people with the same intensity that they did going into trails. If we had more camps or longer camps I think working together we could improve our racing skills.

I think we should consider having rooms available outside the village for the night or two before a person races in the Olympic Games. Those were dorm rooms. In some cases the beds where way too short for athletes who are six foot six inches tall. They were crowded so that an athlete rolls over and whacks their elbow against a wall, wakes up their roommate and wakes up the person on the other side of the wall. I think that is something we could consider.

I think we have to entertain the idea that it is possible to have 100% improvement from the trial to the games. Most athletes and most people have a tendency to sell themselves short. We can reach 100%. You know someone will say that 80% would be great. Yes, but 81% would be better, 82% would be better still, but 100% is possible.

We do not have an ally in the IOC or FINA with regard to fair competition for the athletes. I don’t know what their priority list is except I can guarantee you one thing, the well-being of the athlete is absolutely at the bottom of the list. I had an occasion to talk to the mayor of the Olympic village several times. He told me how much of a battle it was to get things for the athletes in our Olympic village because the IOC is a lot more concerned about themselves and their political agenda than they are about the athletes well-being. Many of those leaders in the IOC stay in the very best hotels in the city. They have cars. They have drivers. They have per diem. They are the stars of the show in their minds. The IOC and FINA are in the same situation.

I worry about the USOC. I am absolutely convinced that we have had cover-ups of corruption and positive drug tests in several Olympics including Atlanta where the IOC and FINA turn their back. You would like to think that our USOC would be our advocate in this area, but ladies and gentleman, the dirtiest country, when you go through all the drug testing is the United States because of some other sports, not our sport. Our USOC has been part of cover-ups in my opinion. They are in bed with cheaters. They are in bed with the IOC and FINA. They don’t want anything to change. They are a lot more interested in sponsorships and money and political prestige than they are in the athletes.

Don’t underestimate the role that we — and you — can play in this area. We were told in Rome not to rock the boat. The only reason that the Olympic games in Atlanta was more fair, although not completely, was because the boat was rocked, and rocked, and rocked. Demand that we win this war and demand that the priority for these bodies be the athletes and fair competition. I cannot see any other reason for their existence.

Allow me to talk about an Olympic story, and it is not 1996, it is 1992. I am going to talk about Summer Sanders. As you know she made the Olympic team in 4 events. Prior to the Olympic Games the press built her up that she was going to win 4 events during the Olympic Games. She wasn’t even seeded first in 4 events going into the Olympic Games. She didn’t even win 4 events in our Olympic trials. But the press built her up. We made the mistake of letting that happen.

We got to the Olympic Games and on the first day of the meet is the 400 IM. Summer gets third, wins the bronze medal, and sets an American record. Afterwards, hordes of press jam microphones into her face, “What’s the matter Summer? You’re having a bad Olympics.” Summer’s answer, “I just swam my lifetime best time. I just set a new American record. I just won a bronze medal in the Olympic Games. I couldn’t be happier.” Two or three days later Summer raced in the 200 IM. Again, gets beat, wins a silver medal. Again the same press jamming microphones in her face, “Wow, you’re having a bad Olympics. What’s the matter?” Again, her answer, “I just swam my lifetime best time. I just set a new American record. I just won a silver medal in the Olympic Games. I couldn’t be happier.” By that time, this coach wanted to punch those press reporters in the face. I wanted to say to them, “Are you the second best reporter in the world today?” But to be honest with you, Summer wouldn’t let me do that.

Now we are up to the last day of the meet. Those of you who know Summer know that she’s a front runner. Normally she gets out in front and stays there and her message is, “If you can catch me you can win.” We swim the 200 fly. At the end of the first 50 she is third. At the end of the 100 she is still 3rd. At the 150 she is still third. In fact, with 15 meters to go she is still in 3rd place. 15 meters, that is about 10 seconds. With 10 seconds to go, that is a critical time in a race. Does she buy in to all that doubt planted in her mind by those reporters? She could have said, “Maybe I am having a bad Olympics. Maybe I am not going to win anything.” But at that critical moment she made a decision to keep competing and in the last few strokes she won the Olympic gold medal. At the critical moment she didn’t buy into negativism.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are at a critical moment in United States swimming. We are at a critical moment in world swimming. The door is wide open. In fact, in my opinion it is off the hinges. All we have to do is march through. Two thirds of the winning times in Atlanta were slower than 1992. This is the first time in Olympic history that we have seen that percentage. The door is open. Be prepared to walk through.

It is a critical time for athletes. It is a critical time coaches. It is a critical time for those people who represent us in the bodies that provide fair competition. Their political agenda cannot be more important than the athletes.

I want to say again. It was truly an honor to coach your Olympic team. I am forever humbled that I was given that honor and I thank you for your attention this morning.


Executive Director of United States Swimming, Chuck Wielgus (1997)

Executive Director of United States Swimming, Chuck Wielgus (1997)

Tell me a guy isn’t being set up when he looks at the program and four hours after he’s supposed to speak there is a session that is titled “If I were the executive director of US Swimming I Would.” Thank You John.

I am the newest and I hope to be the most enthusiastic member of USS, but more importantly, I think the newest and most enthusiastic member of the swimming community. It’s interesting to me that USS says “us” and I think that’s symbolic of what US Swimming is all about. It’s not an organization in Colorado Springs CO, it’s not an organization in Fort Lauderdale, and it’s not an individual club or coach or athlete. It’s all of us together. I hope that during my tenor in this position, which I hope is a long one, is all about “us” who are involved in American swimming.

What I thought I would talk about this morning is a little bit about myself. I’m self-conscious and get tired of doing that but I have to introduce myself to you all a little. I’d also like to talk a little more about the fundamental philosophy that we need to embrace to move swimming forward into the future, into the 21st century. I’d like to talk about the future of competitive swimming what it can be, and then leave some time for questions and answers.

In talking about myself I feel as if I were applying for a job, and I am. I’m applying for the job of wanting your trust and confidence, I want your support and your backing. So I need to sell not only myself to you but I need to sell USS to you and that doesn’t happen in one talk on one Saturday morning, that happens over a course of time. I want to reach out and encourage each of you to get to know me and to get to know our staff, get to know our programs and not be afraid to question us, to criticize us, to suggest ideas to us, but to embrace us as an important member of “US,” our community.

I spent 10 years as a coach. I know what it’s like. I miss those Saturday morning and stinky smelling old high school locker rooms. For 10 years they were a critical part of my life. It was during those 10 years that I got the values that I think have made me what I am today, which I hope is a good person. I will forever carry with me those values that I got as a high school coach. The sport I coached was basketball but like most high school coaches you end up coaching soccer, and lacrosse and then in the summer you have to run the recreation program in town, and you start an age group swimming program. You do that so you can make ends meet because you’re trying to raise a family and you have kids coming back year to year and that is what gets you all excited about getting up and work with the kids you work with today. All those carry-over values have to do with character development. Over and above the winning and losing and those awful trips in those yellow busses. You get through all that and you miss it when you get out of it. I still miss it today and I’ve been out of if almost 15 years. I think it’s important that you know that I’ve got those roots. I’ve been in locker rooms, I’ve been in gyms, and I’ve been on pool decks. I’ve done laundry and sorted uniforms and taken the bus trips. I get excited about other people having to do that.

The last 14 or 15 years I’ve been in sports management, sports marketing side of the business. I’ve been involved in raising money, building facilities, including swimming pools, putting on events, working with corporate sponsors, working with TV. All of that has helped make me a much better and well-rounded sports management person. I got into the sports management business before all these schools popped up and started churning out all these sports management majors.

I came from the grass roots coaching community and I think I’m like a surfer. I caught the wave early on and am very fortunate to be where I am today. Where I am today is exactly where I want to be. My first day on the job during a staff meeting someone asked me how long are you going to stay with USS, and my response was how long has Ray been here? Someone said 20 years and I said I’m in for 21. That’s reflective of my competitive nature and also my sincerity. I am where I want to be and I hope that you all will let me stay here a long long time.

Some personal values. I’m a wear it on your sleeve kind of guy. I’m open, I’m honest, I’m not afraid to get into frank discussions, pro and con. I hope that openness and honesty will be transmitted organizationally through USS as we redevelop the culture of USS. I think it’s very important, we need to redevelop the culture of USS. I hope my openness and honesty will be a cornerstone. I’m into being positive and seeking constant improvement. I have low tolerance for negative people. If you’re into negativity you probably don’t want to be in my way, because I’ll go right by you. I’m into always trying to get better. I’m almost 50 years old and I’m still trying to prefect my jump shot. I’m not there yet. I’m into being competitive, I want to win. If I’m playing you in something I want to beat you. I think you all are the same way. We want to win, be the best. I wouldn’t be with USS if I didn’t think it was the best program in the Olympic movement. I think we should all be proud that swimming is the flagship sport in the Olympic movement, we just need to tell more people about that. Enough about me.

Some fundamental philosophies that I think are critical to us as we build the future of USS. I really think these fundamental principles have got to be the foundation on which we move forward. One of the great advantages I have coming in from the outside is that you get a fresh set of eyes. I can be a little bit objective. I can stand in front of USS staff on the first day and ask them a very simple question, who are we? I don’t mean that as some deep soul searching question, but just in our name U.S. Swimming. Our Logo says USA Swimming who then are we? That may not be a question that people within this community have thought about, but coming from the outside you look at it and say maybe it doesn’t make sense, or maybe there is a good reason for it. I think being able to ask those simple questions is good. During the interview process with the board of directors I was asked to make a presentation. At the end the board asked me if I had any questions. I said I have lots of questions most of which are curiosity questions but I only have one that I want to ask. Because the answer to this one question will tell me everything I need to know about this organization’s willingness to move forward. The question is this: It is my understanding or belief that the role of the board of directors is to govern, to set policy, to think about long range planning, but you hire an executive director, a chief executive officer, to drive your business. Do you agree or disagree? Because if you agree we’re going to get along fine, if you disagree find someone else. Find an administrator, find someone who’s going to follow your lead and take your orders.

Unfortunately, I will probably have a run in with some members of the board of directors, but we will probably butt heads over programs, over budgets, over procedures, over staffing. Some of those things I don’t think are any business of the board of directors. But I absolutely believe that a board of directors has a responsibility and obligation to lead, to govern its policy and do long term planning. Such in a University, you hire a coach to coach the team. They have to be held accountable. But the president or athletic director doesn’t come to practice and lead the training program, lead the drills, make decisions that affect what happens in a competition. Look at other sports which have been successful. I came from the Sr. PGA tour. There was a policy board made up of players, corporate leaders and others that had deep and long involvement with the game of golf. But the business was driven by the commissioner Ken Finchem. Does anyone for a minute think that David Stearns sits up in the NBA offices in NY and every time he wants to make a little budget adjustment or make some personnel changes or explore some more program opportunities that he gets together with committees and boards and they explore it for 18 months and meanwhile the opportunity has blown by. No Way. The NBA is what it is today because there is a chief executive officer there who is making decisions and who is driving the business. Same thing with NASCAR. There are probably not three other examples that I could give you that are any better than the PGA tour, the NBA and the NASCAR in terms of sports businesses that have been successful. There is no reason why USS should not look and learn from those types of successes.

I have no sense of ownership. I have a tremendous sense of obligation and responsibility. If I had a sense of ownership I would start looking to control and protect turf. I come with no biases or no prejudice. I just want to do a great job. I want to serve the sport of swimming. I mentioned earlier that I feel the need to change the culture of US Swimming. That is in no way meant to say that the culture that is there now is a bad culture. I think the culture needs to evolve into something else. Just as we evolve in our personal lives we need to keep growing. With the arrival of a new executive director, USS can look at itself and say this is a time to grow, to expand, to question, to reaffirm and to refocus.

Now to the fundamental philosophies that I think are so important. I think that we must foster an open environment with healthy communications. That sounds really simple, but when you get below the surface of that and you really start embracing a culture that welcomes questions, new ideas and challenges. It sometimes threatens people’s preconceived notions, or traditional programs. I think you’ve got someone involved in the sport now who is going to not only throw out questions, but welcome those questions in return.

I encourage people to challenge what we do at USS. Are we spending our money wisely? Have we got the right kind of programs? Have we got the right kind of people working on those programs? Is our role the right role? Are there other things that we can do better? Are there some things we shouldn’t be doing at all? Are there new kinds of relationships that we should be having? I welcome that input, that criticism, those challenges. I think we must work collaterally, not confrontation. We are all in this together, USS is US.

There is an old country saying that you catch a lot more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. We’ve got to work together. There is no reason why all the different organizations that are involved in competitive swimming shouldn’t have a shared vision. We should be charging up the same mountain. I absolutely believe that can be done. I would like to think the first symbolic example of that was with John Leonard and me getting together. As I did a little research of my own about the job, one of the things I heard was that the Coaches Association and the Federation were bumping heads. Looking at it from the outside, it seems pretty silly to me. What’s the problem? Coaches are the bedrock of the sport. They are what make it work. We have got to have a good relationship. Who is the executive director, what’s his name, what’s his phone number, I’ve got to call him. We’ve got to get together and talk. It seems simple, and I think it is.

We must seek consensus in common ground where ever possible. Every organization is not going to agree on everything all the time. There are going to be disagreements, but we need to disagree agreeably. Where ever possible we need to seek those win-win situations. Seek common ground, always working for the betterment of the sport. Where we can’t get there we just agree to disagree.

We need to forge alliances and build long term partnerships. You reach a stage in your life where you don’t want any more one night stands. You want to have long term relationships. That’s what leads to long term health which leads to long term productivity and to long term happiness. I’m not trying to make a moral statement about personal lives, I’m trying to make a business statement about what I think works. Especially in this day and age. If you look at ‘in flight’ magazines on air planes and stumble across management articles, I guarantee you within the next couple of months somewhere you will find an article that talks about partnerships, alliances, collaborations. It’s the paragon in business not only today, but moving into the future. Companies understand that, companies that are at the head of the curb understand that. As a sport we need to understand and recognize that.

At the Senior PGA Tour we had three strongly opinionated groups with three different perspectives on how the Senior PGA should work. We had players who were rich white guys, independent contractors with a lot of influence and power and public recognition. We had the PGA Tour which owns the concept of the PGA Tour. They own the television rights, they own the major sponsors and marketing rights for the tour.

Then we had 40 event organizers, who felt that they owned it. It was their tournament in their community. My job was to get those 3 groups working together as smoothly as possible. They all worked together because they all learned to stick up for what they believed in, but compromise for the common good where it was appropriate. So the Senior PGA tour players play in 2 Pro Ams. They have to play with amateurs that are lucky to break 100. It drives those guys crazy. They would much rather play with each other than go out and beat the ball around with the guys that are swinging it out of bounds all the time. They recognize that it is important for the sport, because the people that they are playing with are putting money into the sport. They are buying tickets, they’re watching it on TV, so they make that sacrifice, and they make that compromise. PGA tour recognizes that they need to make compromises with the individual tournaments. They need to accommodate those local sponsors. Those corporations that are in the community that are there year round. The PGA comes into town just one week a year, but these companies and those event organizers are there all the time. They need to accommodate them and integrate them into the program. The tournament directors need to learn to work with the demands that are put upon them by TV and the national sponsors that they must provide hospitality for. It all works because everyone has a shared vision of what it should be. I would like to think that it is because there are people in place that recognize that it is their job to get all the spokes in the wheel working together around the hub.

We must explore new opportunities and be unafraid to change. Everyone says that’s a great one, but wait until that rubber starts hitting the road. We’ve got to explore new opportunities and be unafraid to change.

I love new ideas and I welcome everyone to call, email, write and video with your ideas. A part that always intrigues me is when it is ‘here’s a good idea that you should do.’ I love the part that said, here’s a good idea, but I get a little concerned about here’s what YOU should do. What I encourage you to do with your ideas is to say, here’s a good idea, here’s how it can get done, here’s who can do it, here’s when it can be done, here’s how it will be funded. Those are all the tough questions that have to be answered. I’m willing to sit down with anyone anywhere anytime to try to answer those tough questions and figure out how WE can accomplish new things for the betterment of our sport.

We must plan but be unafraid to act intuitively. Develop your plan, work your plan, every coach knows that. Sometimes you have a gut instinct. When I was coaching basketball, I would get in that situation at the end of the game, you’re down 2 points, you need a basket, you have the ball, you call time out and you go in the huddle.

Over time I learned to say who wants it? Sometimes it’s the kid who hasn’t scored the entire game and he says well I know they are going to be looking for Bill over here and if my guys going to go help, I’ll be left alone. OK. That’s the play, the kid has been shooting bricks the whole game but he thinks he can do it. OK, let’s do it. Sometimes you have to go with that gut instinct. I would like to illustrate a time when that really worked but it never did. They always have one chance anyway. For instance, in our office we sell merchandise. We are designing T-shirts and stock piling stuff and we are trying to sell it to you and your kids.

The NBA has licensing programs, the NFL has licensing programs and we’re trying to do it ourselves. Something is telling me that we are maybe in the wrong business. We aren’t merchandisers. We need to get some professional help, we need to license our program out. We need to focus what we’re really in place for and not try to be merchandisers.

That’s an intuitive thing, sometimes you don’t have to research, and you have to just go do it. You’ve got to go with that gut instinct. I believe that. I don’t think that’s irresponsible. We must strive for excellence. That’s an easy one. No one here will argue with me on this one.

We must strive for excellence, we must expect ourselves to perform, we expect our athletes to perform and I expect our staff to perform. I expect me to perform. We must be held accountable. You have to be held accountable. You’re held accountable to give a set of values to your athletes. You’re held accountable for winning or losing. You’re held accountable for keeping things within budget. We should be held accountable too. I’m not afraid, we should be held accountable publicly. We want to stand for something. We want to stand for striving for excellence.

Over the years I’m sure you have heard Denny Pursley talk about character development. He’s right on. We’re in the business, you all are in the business of character development. I work in Colorado Springs and I have been in the Olympic movement for some time. They tie our funding to how many medals we win. We’re quick to point out that if swimming wins 25% of the medals in Atlanta, how important that is to the Olympic movement. I’m not saying that’s not important, but we sometimes get all wrapped up in who won and who lost and how many medals and how much time on TV and how many sponsors and what is the size of our membership and our budget.

What it’s really all about is those carry over values. Respect, respect for others. Working hard. Being a better person, being a good teammate, being a good role model. Setting an example and making the best of yourself. Helping someone else be the best they can be. That’s why you all coach. That’s why we should all be working with that same attitude at USS. We need to talk about that more. I think those of us in the Olympic business need to talk about that more. That’s what Olympicism is all about. It’s not about red, white and blue, medals and TV, it’s about those values and no other sport that I know of, and I mean this sincerely as someone who is not a competitive swimmer, I can’t think of another sport that imparts the values to the depth and breadth that swimming does to its athletes and participants. I think you don’t have to look any further than the kinds of people who have gone through your own programs. What have they become as adults?

We must show leadership. Everyone has to show leadership in the job they’re in. If you’re a coach, or an administrator you have a responsibility to show leadership. At USS I believe we have enormous responsibility to show leadership. That’s our role. We have to accept it, we have to be proud of it, we can’t abuse it, and it comes with an enormous obligation. At USS we are responsible for providing leadership. We need to be able to see the big picture and yet not be afraid to roll up our sleeves and get down and do some work. We need to set ambitious goals, that’s part of leadership. You set goals for your kids when you sit down with them and come up with training plans and competition plans and progress for them. We need to set ambitious goals. A statement I love is, “Imagine what can be done, then figure out how to do it. It’s not the other way around.”

A couple of examples are: This one is a comment that was written on a business student’s paper. “The concept is interesting and well informed, but in order to earn better than a grade C the idea must be feasible.” This was written by a Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. Fred Smith went on to be the founder of Federal Express. One more: “This telephone has too many short comings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” That was an internal management memo written within the Western Union Company. They’re in the fortune 100 today. Image what can be done, then figure out how to it.

I think we need to ignore the nay sayers. That’s the point I’m trying to make. Ignore the nay sayers. People are going to try and put obstacles in our path, and we must go through them or over them or go around them. We’re going to be that way at USS. We’re going to ignore the nay sayers. We’re going to be positive, we’re going to seek the positive and improvement. We aren’t going to make friends with everybody, we’re going to cross swords every now and then but we’re going to disagree agreeably.

The future of USS, I should say the future of swimming in the United States. I think that’s maybe a little more inclusive. There is a great commercial out now with Lou Holtz. He’s in front of the camera promoting football on TV. Lou Holtz says Martin Luther King didn’t say I have a strategic plan, he said I have a dream. What a wonderful commercial. We need both. We in swimming need both. We need to have dreams and strategic plans and we need to go make them work. Let’s not confuse the two. The two are distinct and separate. It starts with dreaming and then we have to have the discipline to put the plan together and make it work.

I think USS has 3 core business objectives around which we must build our business for our future. I think the first is we must promote our sport. Several years ago I was in the NBA office in NY and David Stearns was asked the question, What’s the mission of the NBA? His answer was to promote Basketball worldwide. It wasn’t to make the league bigger or better or get more money or more sponsors, it was to promote basketball worldwide. If you think about that you start to understand why the NBA has all these licensing programs. When something works well in one city with one team, the idea is taken and shared with other teams and other cities. NBA teams are taken for international exhibitions to Japan or Spain. The NBA hooks up with 3 on 3 tournament exercises and runs tours domestically and internationally. They are selling the game, they’re selling the sport. We have to do that. Every single one of us has different opportunities to sell the sport. We have to get out there and do it. USS, I believe, has an obligation to help and to lead the way in doing that. Promoting the sport is one of our core business objectives, we have to embrace it and we have to accept it.

Number 2 core business objective. We have to continue to build our base of athletes, coaches, clubs and even volunteers. We have to continue to build our base.

Number 3 core business objective. We have to strengthen our pipeline to Olympic success. It’s so important. These objectives are circular. By promoting the sport, we build the base, we’ve got Olympic success, and they all work together. When we have Olympic success it sure does promote the sport. I think everything we do at USS has got to be measured against how well it addresses one or more of those core objectives. We can run an event that could just help to build the base. We could run another event that could just work to feed the pipeline. We send a team to Pan Pac, we’re working on the pipeline, when we do regional championships, and we’re building the base. We might do other events just to promote the sport. They have no meaning in building the base or feeding the pipeline. Although if the event is promoting the sport they will help to build the base. Everything we do must be tied back to those core business objectives. If it doesn’t fit into one or more of those objectives, we shouldn’t be doing it. We are going to take a hard long look at everything we do at USS and see how everything measures up against those objectives.

I’ve looked into my crystal ball and tried to look at the future of swimming. I’ve only been on the job 6 weeks, so I’m not ready to stick my neck out too far. I think there are some general things that I’ve started to recognize that we have to deal with in swimming in this country. At least from my prospective with USS, the view will get broader as time goes on.

Legislative reform. We have a bureaucracy that is unbelievable in USS. It is cumbersome and complex, it is a work of art. It is unbelievable. I’m going to challenge the USS board of directors to figure it out. To streamline it, to make it more efficient, make it more effective. That doesn’t mean we have to disenfranchise people. It doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the democratic process. The ultimate democracy is chaos. We’re so bogged down with regulations and procedures that if someone has a great idea, by the time that idea gets off the ground the wave has gone by, we missed it. I hope our staff got that on record and we can play that in a couple weeks in San Francisco.

Financial flexibility. This goes along with legislative reform. We have got to have a system in United States Swimming. We are a multi-million dollar business. We’re not spending a couple hundred dollars, we’re spending multi-millions of dollars a year. Our ability to be entrepreneurs is virtually zero. We have to put in financial flexibility into our system at USS. This will allow people who are in charge of driving the business to be entrepreneur and yet still be accountable. We’ve got to be able to respond to what’s going on in the market place. We must take advantage of new opportunities. We must say this doesn’t fit in our core objectives. We’re just not doing it. We must say here’s why and if we’re proven to be wrong and it’s serious, we must get someone else to do the job. Financial flexibility goes right along with legislative reform.

We have to reorganize our organization in Colorado Springs. We have an organization that has been cobbled together over time. It has taken political considerations above strategic considerations. From a business perspective it just doesn’t make sense. I get asked about having too many staff members. I don’t have an answer. We may have too many, we may not have enough. We need to look at everything we do and see how it fits against our business plan. How does it work against our budget? We must be able to justify what we’re doing. We must determine if we have the right people in the right places. If we have the right structure that aligns with our core business objectives. We want to be a well-oiled engine. We must take advantage of things. We can move forward, we can respond to the market place. I don’t think we are set up to do that now. We’re going to have to reorganize. I want to have employees that are knowledgeable, committed, and enthusiastic and are empowered to act decisively. I don’t think we have the culture at USS right now that allows that to happen. I’m talking about the future, the evolution of the business of swimming. We need to re-culture our business. We need to become more entrepreneur. We need to have people that are empowered, people that are held accountable and people that can help drive our sport forward. Five years from now we want someone in another sport to stand up and say, you know there is the NBA, the PGA Tour, and NASCAR and there is USS. Look at what they’ve done in the past 5 years. We want someone looking at us as a model.

Partnerships. We have got to develop partnerships whenever and wherever it is appropriate and possible. Partnerships with the US Olympic committee, with the NCAA, with NISCA, with the YMCA, with facilities managers, with Masters swimming, even with ASCA. We’ve got to have good strong partnerships. We have an obligation at USS under our charter to be involved in coach’s education. We have an enormous responsibility in coach’s education. We are foolish if we are not working with our coaches association on coach’s education. It only makes sense.

Club development. We share concerns there. We’ve got to develop programs that work in concert. It’s easier to have 5 people pushing that rock up that hill than just 1 or 2. We need to support our coaches and clubs. We need to provide better resources. We need to make those resources more available. We need to hear from you what those resources should or shouldn’t be. Let us know, what do you want? We need to reconnect with our alumnae. There are 400+ Olympians, swimmers. I don’t know how many are still involved in swimming. For all the time they spent in the sport, I know they must have a warm spot in their heart for the sport. These are people who are successful in other aspects of their lives. We need to form a true alumnae association that embraces those people. We need to bring them back into the sport. We don’t need to ask them for money, they have given enough. We ask them for their support, their ideas. To be part of the team that they helped create in the first place. Somewhere down the road, when the association grows and is active, at a reunion you might ask someone to give a talk for us. Would they go make a sponsor presentation with us? Could you introduce us to the director of marketing at the Fortune 500 Company you’re working at? They can help in that way. We don’t need their money. We need to reconnect with our alumnae.

Communications. I think we must look at everything we do in the area of communications and see if we are being effective. Get more information out to more people. Reduce duplication of expenses.

Public relations. It starts with one on one relationships. It ultimately evolves into corporate and media and mass communication relationships. We have to start with public relation strategies. Where we all recognize that it starts with us. With everyone we meet, is there an opportunity to sell our sport? Is there an opportunity for that person to go out and sell the sport to others?

New marketing initiatives. We are in the process of extinguishing a relationship that USS has had for 17 or 18 years. It is with the NY Park Avenue marketing firm. They are good people, they have done a lot for swimming in the past. But they don’t get up and worry about it every day like we do. We are bringing that function in house. There are so many fun things to look at in the area of marketing. Events, sponsorships, TV, those are the big 3 that jump out. Two National championships. If you are outside the sport of swimming, you don’t get it. I don’t know how to talk to network executives or sponsors about 2 national championships in one or two sentences. Maybe we need to change the name. Maybe we should look at our events. A National Club Championship. It makes sense to me. If I’m running the club program I’d love to be able to compete for a national club championship. We have a US Open Swim Championship that seems to be a popular event. It seems to be a moving target. Maybe we need to look at that. Is it in the right place in the calendar, has it got the right direction? How do we describe that event? Some people in the corporate and TV market place look at our event schedule and I have to stumble over myself when I try and explain it to them. We need to look at our events.

US Swim league is an interesting idea. We will explore that. It might end up being a bad idea, but it is sure worth looking into now. We must look at other events. We set up a crazy event in Canoe Kayak. We came up with the idea from a cycling race. The riders go around a track and the last rider across the start line is pulled off. They keep going around and the last rider keeps getting pulled off until there is one left. He’s the winner. We did that with a 200 meter course in Kayaking. We sent 8 down the track and knocked one down and so on. Until we had four left. Then we ran a race. Gold, Silver, Bronze. We had prize money, it was on TV. It is now in our World Championships. It helped to change the sport a little. It was exciting. The athletes loved it. The coaches didn’t love it because the athletes started training for that event instead of distance events. We must look at those kinds of ideas and explore new ideas. There is not someone in that office in Colorado Springs who is going to come up with an event idea and go out and try to produce it in a vacuum. We must build and seek consensus. Find common ground and compromise when you can. Denny Pursley will be keeping a good eye on me I assure you.

Sponsorships. We have some great relationships in swimming, long term relationships. Speedo© immediately comes to mind and there are others. We want to continue those relationships. But we need to attract other corporate sponsors into the sport. We need corporate partners that will help us promote the sport. Sometimes the greatest thing a company can do is promote our sport, not just give us money. We need to explore those opportunities. We need to get into the licensing business. We need to develop stronger media partners. NBC Sports is broadcasting the next 3 Olympic Games. They will be broadcasting our Olympic trails in 2002, 2004 and 2008. There is gymnastics on TV almost every week. Track and field is popping up a little more. What’s going on with swimming? We need to talk to those people, we need to find out how we can work together with them to increase the exposure of swimming. We may not have a sport that links itself to the game of the week every Sunday, but we should be on TV a couple times a year. Not just every 4 years. I don’t follow cycling, but I sure know what the Tour D’ France is. What kind of event do we have that people are going to recognize as that big swimming event? I don’t think we have that event.

People outside the swimming community don’t know what the Pan Pacs are. We need to come up with that idea. It might be 3 or 4 years away, but we need to start thinking about it. We need to find some events that we can hang our sport on. So that guy going through the dials on his TV stops at swimming.

These are some things we are thinking about. I am not afraid to stand up and say what we are thinking about and talking about within our office. I also won’t be afraid to stand up 6 months from now and say that we tried that idea, but it didn’t work. TV didn’t like it, people didn’t like. We will not try. That’s the most important thing I can leave with you. We are not going to not try to do everything we can to make swimming recognized for everything that it has to offer.

I hope you sense some sincerity in my enthusiasm because it is real and it’s there every day. I get out of bed and charge to the shower and get to the office kind of guy. I hope you feel that. While we may fall down and skin our knees in some areas, it won’t be from not having our head in the wind and charging forward. That’s an attitude that I hope to infect to the rest of our staff in Colorado Springs.

Again, the people that are there are good. People ask me my impression of the staff in Colorado Springs and I tell them they are dedicated people, knowledgeable people and I think they need to be lead to a charge up the hill. I’m hoping to do that. I feel that’s my responsibility as their leader in the office. They have the knowledge and the training and the commitment, they are ready to be lead forward. That means for the benefit for USS and us. For the benefit of American swimming.

I believe we have the flagship sport. I believe the opportunities in front of us are endless. I think it’s going to be fun to explore them. I want to open the lines of communication for all of you. Either through your own association, through John, or contact us directly.

But bombard us with ideas and thoughts. Whenever possible tell us how it can be done, when it can be done, who can do it, how it will be funded. Don’t forget those questions, but we’ll even take just ideas. Bombard us with input and communication.


Neurotechnology and the Mind-Body Connection by Dr. R. Ditson Sommer (1997)

Neurotechnology and the Mind-Body Connection by Dr. R. Ditson Sommer (1997)

Introduction by George Block

Doc Counsilman once said, if you gave 3 coaches an equal number of athletes, and 1 coach was a physiologist, one was a kinesiologist and 1 was a psychologist, the psychologist would win every single time.

We are at an age in our sport where understanding the mind and finding ways to help our athletes achieve their potential in such a stressful situation and stressful world we need all the help we can get and I am glad that it is just us here today. It’ll give us an edge over everybody else. Some of you might have gotten started with this yesterday. Dr. Sommer comes to us with a lengthy background in psychology, nutrition, neurotechnology, stress management, learning styles and peak performance training. She holds degrees from Columbia University, Indiana University, Texas Women’s University, with advanced studies at Menninger Clinic, Southwestern Medical School and Southern Methodist University. Dr. Sommer has also held professorships at the University of Wisconsin, Texas Women’s University and Verturbo College in Lacrosse, WI. Without any further ado, I would like to introduce Dr. Rayma Ditson-Sommer.

What we want to talk about, many of you already understand, and what we do, you’ve been around in our room to try out the neurotechnology, be on the bio feedback, and try the light and sound. For those of you who haven’t, this talk’s going to be a little different than the one we had the other day because to do it again would bore me and if you heard it, it would bore you. So what we want to do for a minute is just pick up a couple of little things from that talk and give you a little bit of history about neurotechnology.

Neurotechnology of course is the use of the neurologically technical instrumentation of knowledge to study behavior and to change behaviors. There are different ways of doing that, there is bio feedback of different kinds. We have EEG bio feedbacks where you use electrodes, you have EMG which you are probably the most familiar with where you go into the muscle and see how the muscle moves and then there is GSR which is galvanic skin response and I like GSR because it is non-invasive. You can put it on, they use to have a little thing that when you slipped your fingers inside and rested them, you got information from that. We have gone past that – our bio feedback machine has lasers and it simply looks into the fingers and gives us a readout on perspiration, the vaso dilation of the veins and tells us for instance what the heartbeat is, what the pulse rate is and the peripheral temperature . Actually, not the brain wave, but the brain stimulated response to the different sides of the body, so that we can tell from that stress, we can tell from that dominance, there is quite a few things that we use it for. I am not going to get into that here, because it is something that you need to see from a demonstration. But what we use it for is data gathering developing a protocol for each individual athlete that we see. And those athletes can have needs for all kinds of things. We have not been able, probably up to about ten years ago, to meet those needs in any other way except in long term therapies.

Then came neurotechnology and light and sound. Sound of course was the first one that was discovered and worked with through the Monroe Institute and different places in using sound, using binaural beats and using different things – we’ll talk about those. The light and sound neurotechnology we are talking about was discovered about 1930, and the people that used it realized that if you had a flashing light that the brain would go to it, or train to it and stay with it. It became to be pretty prolifically understood about World War II when the people who were watching radar, would just sit and simply watch the radar, and after a while would say nothing. They were just there. And what happened of course was they went into a relaxation response while watching this red dot flash off and on.

So they had to change it a little bit because it was pretty important for these people to be able to tell people who was coming and who was going. They discovered then that you could actually not only tell what was going on in which side of the brain, but synchronize those by using that flashing light which we use today. Then we put sound with it because we found out that binaural sound also helped with that quick entrainment, so what we have is an ability to decrease stress, and increase comprehension and concentration very quickly. It is not anything that hasn’t been done before, it’s not anything that Zen Buddhists can’t do, you know, after so many years of study, but it’s what you can do as a coach with a swimmer or with an athlete that has a concentration problem, who has quite a few different things that need to be worked with and it can happen quickly.

Because now we are getting to the point where time is money – you have a lot of people to work with – and you can’t spend three different days, three different weeks teaching how to do these kinds of things. Now we can actually do that through light and sound, and that’s sort of what we are going to discuss today. To understand this, you need to know what the brain wave patterns are, some of you may know these, but in the event that you don’t and because I need to be continually helping myself remember these though I’ve used them for ten years. You think of the brain waves from what I taught you yesterday, or the day before in “Drink TAB.” There’s Delta, Theta, Alpha and Beta. Delta is the lowest, the slowest, from 0 to 4 and that is where you have good rest and recovery. Then we have imagery and learning in Theta, from a 5 to an 8 Hz, and these hertz are cycles per second. They are both sound and light. The Alpha then is from 9 to 12 and Beta is 13 plus. Depending on what we want to accomplish, we use those hertz.

They are used in the frequency that is in the light and sound, and there are not many people writing these programs. There’s quite a few machines on the market but they are not programs that are written for a specific cause. What you have to do is know what exactly is going on, what research has been done and what you want to happen in that program. I wrote the programs for the Sportlink, I also write custom programs for people who come through our center, for things other than sports enhancement. So the cycles per second is the brain wave patterns which is what this is all about.

This is what happens. The way it works is the brain has its own cycles per second depending on what you are doing, and hopefully everyone is in Beta in here. That is hopefully you’re focused on me. So we are figuring that you have 13 Hz going on if I wanted to increase that, embellish that, add to that, I would hit a program that would get to 13 Hz very quickly and maybe take it up just a little bit, depending on what I wanted. If I wanted for instance to have you rest, the program would start where you are, we presume you would be in Beta and go down into a rest and recovery cycle. If it was for sleep, you would stay down if it was simply for recovery, we would use the isomudic principle which means you take somebody where they are, take them wherever you want them to go, but you always bring them back. That’s a basic principle that is very important to learning that you don’t let somebody off at the bus stop, you bring them all the way back. So we do that with hertz.

These are used for all these different things, depending on what it is that we want to do. The lights and the sound merge with the brain waves through frequency. They are both electric, they both have frequency. If you hit a frequency that the brain is utilizing at the point it will immediately take. If you are a little bit higher or lower, it takes about a minute to really entrain and go with and the brain then will follow wherever these hertz go. It is not something that is New Age, it is not something that is spooky, it just makes a lot of sense if you think about it, it’s very easy. It is not dangerous unless you have a severe epileptic situation, that responds to photic stimulation (then you might have a situation), but I’ve never had one and I’ve dealt with many, many, many people, up in the thousands, so that is not something you have to worry about, but you should always ask. The thing about this that is so exciting is that you can get a great deal of learning done in a small amount of time because what happens to people who want to learn something or who want to rest or who want to get into a relaxation response or whatever it is you want for a good sport, many of them cannot get there.

I told you in the talk the other day that I work with Olympians, some of who have attention deficit disorder, and they don’t learn the same way that the other swimmers learn. For instance to them, time is different. Ten minutes to an attention deficit disorder person is an hour. So they’ve trained ten minutes, they feel like they’ve done an hour. They do an hour of training, they feel like they’ve been there all day. So what you have to do is work with them in a different way. Another thing is that most of these people spend a great deal of time in Theta, which is the specific brain wave if you remember, where there is imagery and learning, there is also sort of a daydream state in Theta. If you are not working with them specifically, they can go off into a daydream, which by the way in time competition is a really neat place to be, because the calmness that comes with it is just the open door to the flow, to the “Zone.” Therefore, these people are some of the best swimmers that you have, but if you need to teach them something, you can use this.

The sound is binaural. The sound and the lights use the same hertz in all light and sound neurotechnology. The reason for that is that there is a double stimulation. The sounds are binaural in this Sportlink that we have, they are not all binaural in other ones. The reason we use binaural is because the Moroe Institute spent a great deal of research telling us that binaural sounds work so much better because you hear one sound here, one sound here and you actually hear a third sound. So that is very conducive to get you into the brain wave that you need to be in. So now, if you want, if you have a program that has to do with getting ready to swim or a performance or getting a competition that will use pulse sound which is a duh – duh – duh – duh -duh, which is not binaural because we don’t want too much relaxation, we want just enough. This is the way that works.

I just don’t want to go through this whole thing and you just sit there, be sure and stop me and ask questions at the time, not all the way at the end. Does anybody have any questions about what we are talking about at this point? OK. Either you’ve understood it all or you are all in Delta. I just hope that you’ve understood it all. And we’ll go on.

The use of light and sound is probably the best for visualization exercises. Mental imagery for developing positive attitudes for awakening a mind state, for relaxation response and recovery, sleep and jetlag. This is what we have put into this machine. Let me explain a little bit about how we use it for instance first in visualization. Visualization is necessary for an athlete to develop if he wants to get into a peak potential state. His performance depends on high energy, and coordination and right hemispheric function. So one of the first things we have to do is get him to know what that is and get him to be there. How many of you know what anchoring is and use it? OK, so I won’t bore you if I tell you what that is.

We use anchoring a great deal in other fields. Anchoring is developing a state, the best state you want that swimmer to be in and then teaching him how to get back to that state very quickly. You can do that through physical cues, you can do it through auditory cues, but whatever it is, whenever they do that cue, that state comes back if you’ve taught it to them correctly.

  1. Since this training is through the use of the senses, can you do this through the use of smell? and you introduce the swimmer to the smell through the right side?
  2. It would be the same idea, I’ve never done that. I’ve never used smells, but it’s a sensory input, so yes, hearing, seeing , yes so smells I suppose would be. I suppose you would have to be very careful, depending upon what it was, because it needs to be at that point, and you know if its popcorn, then that person is in that readiness throughout the entire meet. So I don’t know what you would use, but yes I suppose so. Anchoring is being able to use things that are a little less involved, like licking your lips, flicking your fingers, saying a specific word, humming, anything that will bring it quickly. The point is that the stimulus doesn’t matter, it’s whatever you and the swimmer would decide would work. Its how you teach it to them so that it will work is what matters.

Now to develop an anchor, for instance let’s develop a visual anchor, say you are in a meet, you want to remember for an occasion when you had boundless energy, when you swam your best swim, when you felt the best, when you were the most energetic, you ask them to remember that. Or you remember a very positive place that you’ve been, and you ask them to remember that, this place was where everything was wonderful, the best feeling they have ever had, what you’re doing by doing that is actually stimulating them to remember something in the right side of the brain.

That’s where all of these nice things happen, they are nonanalytic, and they are specifically pleasurable. The research on people getting into the “Zone,” into the flow, show us that pleasurable experiences are important. So in order to do that, we have that step one. Step two is to see yourself in a positive state, a winning state – I’m there. I know I’m going to win, I feel it. Put yourself back at that positive place where you were before saying those things to yourself. You can sprint, there are people who say that they can hear the – what do you call them – is it aerators that are turned on in the pool. They can hear certain things. They can feel the water. They can smell the water. When they go back to that place.

This place, this experience that you are creating, is the one that you create, the one that you want to swim in and then you develop a cue. The cue can be whatever you want it to be. But if you practice it enough and if you want it to work quickly, then you would use an Alpha program while you are describing this, while you are thinking about this, and stop it in the middle, and give the cue, whatever it is, and go back into the Alpha, and it will actually become a learned experience.

You have to do it more than once of course, depending on the individual, how many times you have to do it, and it depends on how well you do it. You can do it with groups, if you want. What you have to do is they have to be able to visualize what you want to bring them back to. That’s the whole clue. The exact point you want them at when they use this cue is what you want. If it’s on the block, if it’s when they see the flag, whatever it is and wherever you want this to happen. Now if they are swimming, they can’t put their fingers together, some lick their lips, you can use an auditory cue that you have given them. So what you are doing is taking this coaching a step farther and putting it in there, ready to retrieve it. It’s just like putting money in the bank, when you take it out, you can use it.

You use the cue when you do that, then you always use the same cue. If that cue doesn’t work, get another one, then always have the same one. You’ve watched basketball players use theirs. I’ll bet if I ask you, you could tell me the cue or the anchoring for lots of different basketball players – it’s the free throw line. For instance Jeff Hornicek who use to be with Phoenix has a way of doing his and the announcers say “oh, he’s saying hello to his children. But he’s not. He puts his hand on his right cheek, draws it down, then he gets ready and he throws the free throw. Charles Barkley bounces a ball six times, throws it up twice. They’ve got elongated anchors. And they go on and on. And you watch athletes and see what their anchors are, because they all use them. And they need to be used in this field. It’s absolutely perfect for you guys, because you’ve got kids who are running around at meets and you know they can’t think of what they are doing, then all at once you get them into that cue and they are ready. They’re on goal.

  1. Does this anchor have to be a specific to the individual or do you have like a team anchor that you try?
  2. Sure. If you have an individual swimmer that is really having some trouble, sometimes they need their own anchor for that problem. I work with some world class swimmers for instance, who couldn’t get off the block, or they couldn’t this or couldn’t do that. Carla Gertz was one of them who wanted to swim the 800 very badly, and half way through some way or another, she had anchored herself to become physically ill. After about 400 meters she was already sick. So we figured that if we introduced an anchor and taught it to her through light and sound and she used the light and sound over time before she swam, also before she slept and some other times, but then she would get to that anchor. I got a card from her the other day, she won a silver and she didn’t get sick. So it is a learned thing, it may not happen the first time, but it will happen, because the brain is ready to learn all this stuff and it’s very important for young swimmers. No matter where they’re swimming, they can be at home in the pool with their mind. Swimming their best swim. So it’s very important.

Now in Alpha, as you’re doing this, you’re doing visualization. I got into a little bit of trouble, but I can get myself out of it because I said that visualization takes place in Alpha, 9 to 12 hertz with relaxation, but mental imagery takes place in Theta. Now what is the difference? Anybody have a good definition? What is visualization? Visual. Seeing. You’re seeing yourself. So you can see yourself, you can see things and it’s sensory. To me and to some other people that I’ve talked to, the mental imagery is the actual act of doing it. Feeling it. I worked with Gary Hall, Jr. before the trials and before the Olympics and he was in my office, he images very well because he has attention deficit disorder. Visualization is almost impossible for him because he is in Theta most of the time, that’s where attention deficit people are. That’s where one out of every ten of your swimmers is by the way. One out of every ten. So you’ve got some Theta thinkers. Let them image and let the other people visualize. But he can mentally image so that I can actually pick up his motor movements with him being flat on a bed as he swims the swim, the actual motor connect, and synapse. So if he’s out of the water, or if he’s on a plane and he wants to swim a while, what does he do? He images the swim. If he’s using bio feedback, and using his light and sound machine, the muscles are actually moving and synapsing. That’s not just him, that’s anybody that uses mental imagery well.

  1. If you were moving from one to the other, and you want to get them ready for performance, which is Beta, and you’re saying that he has some difficulty being in Alpha because Beta is right where he’s at. Is it a problem engaging him from Theta into the Beta area and does he have to be afraid to jump?
  2. You mean getting out of Theta into Beta? Yeah. It is, but that’s what we taught him how to do and it’s very easy to get into Beta. You know, just swim to Hawaii, go to the fair, or go to a disco, that’s Beta, it is pleasurable and it is on the right side. So that’s what you want to do, it’s not only what brain wave you’re in, but which side of your head you’re in when you’re swimming. When you’re coaching, and being taught, you want to analyze it, you want it in the left, and that’s where you want him to be. But that left has to be turned off when it is time for that swim.

Most of the swimmers who come to me, especially European swimmers have so analyzed that swim and they can’t turn it off for the competition. They are still analyzing, – where is my elbow, where is my butt, where’s this, that’s not going to work. You’re not going to cut off seconds with your brain being on the left, you’re going to learn how to cut them off, if you want to cut them off, you’ve got to get over. So this is another way of using light and sound for a swim. We use the light and sound so we have a program that actually helps keep them in the right. There are lots of little ways of doing this. The user’s guide that will come with the Sportlink teaches all this because I realize that it is strange. You know you’re not going to get that all at one time, you may not even agree with it in the beginning.

  1. I’m sorry, but I got a little lost. A. You analyze on the left side of your brain?
  2. Well, you can analyze in any of them. Mostly you would do some analyzation. If you were learning you would be analyzing in Theta, and in competition they would kick it up to Beta, and they are still not free enough.
  3. I would assume these guys are analyzing in Beta. Are they using the wrong side of their head?
  4. Yes. Well even with that they would be in a low Beta. But the analyzation cuts down the time. If you read anything, you read Benson’s works, you read all these works about the flow, the zone, there’s a relaxed state, so you swim in low Beta, you sure should have gone through a little bit of Alpha, in order to get into that flow, but it’s so quickly done. We have a bio feedback machine in room 233 and you can see how quickly the brain is moving. Come look at it to see how quick these kids and your swimmers are – their brain is moving all of the time. They are not just staying in one wave length. You’ve got to get it in there and keep it in there. You have ways of doing that and you do that very well. If you teach little children, you have to stay in Beta on the right side of the brain, because that’s all they have. They don’t even change over until 7 years of age, so all of the instruction needs to be very flowery and very much fun and music, maybe colors, and all of that because that’s where they are.
  5. Can you analyze adults in a dream state?
  6. Well, that’s kind of hard. Delta is, if it was high Delta, if it was 4 you might. You might. But Delta is slow enough that the brain slows down for a rest and recovery kind of thing. Now you don’t have to be sleeping we have a program for instance that’s mind awake, body asleep. People were in on it yesterday and said, “I knew everything that was going on, but I was rested.” That’s a state, but that’s very high Delta and you would really have to know how to get into it. I would just leave that for rest and recovery. That’s where we have some programs that are for jetlag and sleep before competition and things like that and that’s where they take place.
  7. (inaudible audience)
  8. Well that’s the way we do it, we talked about that before, I suppose it would be 0.1. If you go below zero you know you are not going to swim anywhere. But it differs, it can be 4.5 to 5.5, we talked about how to put it up here. So we just started at zip and went on, no of course you’d have a brain wave. You might not have very much, you wouldn’t be going anyplace, but you’d have some. These differ by maybe .5 it’s just depending on whose doing what. If you get a 24 channel EEG it will be a little bit different than this. But for learning purposes, this is what I use. Because it makes sense. Now visualization (we just talked about imaging) takes place in Alpha. What do you have to do in order to visualize? – Relax. By the way, did you know that there is no learning without relaxation? Learning does not go in without a little bit of relaxation. So if you are trying to teach something new, you need to get into either some kind of relaxed state or by saying something funny or something just to get a little bit of relaxation to allow that in. Because there isn’t any learning without relaxation. That is one of the things wrong with our school rooms today, they are in such high stress, that kids are just not learning. So you’ve got to do something to get in there. You don’t have to be in there very far, but you need to be in.

For instance there is a program, number 3, that you can use to do this. When using the program, you can make a tape while the person is using the program, they can make a tape, the brain had much rather hear your voice than anybody else’s and reacts to your voice quicker. By the way, we talk to ourselves with approximately 45,000 words a day, so hopefully that person is speaking some positive words to themselves, because if they are not, they are actually imprinting negative stuff. The brain listens and when you say something, surprisingly, if you believe in neurolinguistics programming or if you’ve studied it at all, that becomes a neuronal impulse and is seated and put away as learning.

I worked with a young lady that is in our club, I don’t know how many sessions, maybe ten, who was told two years ago that she would never make a cut. And she believes that. And she probably never will, because it is almost impossible for her, and she is very, very good in school, very left brained, very analytical, and in trying to work with her we improved her time, we improved her attitude a little bit, but until she lets go of that learning and replaces that learning, nothing is going to happen, because the brain listens to that and that’s where the function comes from and that’s why you need to understand mind/body connection and conversion.

What you’re doing with the body has to be converted into some kind of signal and understanding by the brain. It’s not just out there by itself. OK? Some of the things about visualization that are important are to say to yourself or for kids say, “can you see yourself swimming in the water?” You are having a good time. Now remember, we told you before something pleasant. You’re having fun in the water. See yourself at a swim meet. You’re ready to go, you practiced hard, you’re eager to swim. You know you’re going to win. Think of your swim and how you will move through the water. Now that’s sensory. Feel the water as you see yourself swimming Talk to yourself. Tell yourself, I’m doing a good job. As you’re swimming. Most of you know this because you’ve told me that. Tell yourself, “I can do this. I can do it.” When you tell yourself, I can do that, than the brain says, well, OK, then let’s get it done. Tell yourself to stay calm, stay steady, and enjoy your swim.

There are pre-competition routines, you can write all these yourself, and I don’t need to be telling you these. The things that you can use mental imagery for, moving up to Theta, would be things like technique enhancement, and you analyze and correct errors, in performance by using Theta, because what are you doing? You’re relearning or learning. And we do that where? In Theta. Remember super learning? Everything was written about super learning, and Lozarnoff and Ostrander, he was a Bulgarian, and did you ever read any of that?

Well, what they did was, they went into Theta and they used Baroque Music, to try to enhance the learning, that was OK over there, but it wouldn’t work over here, we have the lab at ASU where we tried it and we slowed the beat per minute down, to 57 and 58 as opposed to 60 and the people caught it. So some way or another, the Bulgarian brain goes a little faster than ours. But they did that by using the Theta waves, by using Baroque Music, and people learned quicker.

So you can do anything that you want that has to do with learning. In that there are programs that will actually enhance the person getting into Theta, being able to learn. You can do preparation for competition, you can replace negative beliefs, and that’s where you replace them – in Theta. You unlearn the one that’s negative, hurtful and you relearn one and you say to them, “Now, take this out” – and Vandler who is a neurolinguistics programing person has 290 a swish technique that he used and he would say, “Take that negative thing out and swish it. And then put back in a positive one in the same place.” So then you visualize – I’m going to take out this loss thing, and I am going to swish it, I am going to drop it, I am going to throw it away, then I’m going to pick up the positive one and I am going to put it in. Now in doing all this talking with these people, if you are doing it one to one, or even if you are doing it in a group, it is extraordinarily important that if you want them to get the message quick, that you speak to the right ear. That you talk to the left side of the brain, through the right ear. If you have to get them to put an ear mold in the left one, when you’ve got 30 of them in a room, you still will get farther because they are only hearing what you are saying and it is going immediately to where it ought to be. The left ear listens to all kinds of extra-strenuous sounds, and it’s like the frontage road on the freeway, the right ear is bang – pay the toll – go – and they catch it very quickly.

  1. How can you measure what level the swimmer is at? In other words. I may have a swimmer that is in need of help?
  2. Well they’re set up for pre-competition and you certainly would not want to use this on somebody who has never used it before. I mean you would have used it in practice and before smaller meets and the meets that you have in your club. There are ways of knowing that, thereby whether they need help with visualization. What do they need help with? Almost like a prescriptive kind of thing. We have one that our swimmers use the Sportlink about 5 minutes before they swim because what’s happened is that if they are in a – we live in a hot area – and the last meet I went to I was surprised anybody lived through it., it was so hot. All these kids are milling around you know and they are hot and they’re sweaty, a lot of stuff is going on, and we want them to be focused and it’s hard to get that done. So we have a program that will literally help them get right into the bilateral synchroning that you need a little while before you swim. You don’t want to swim in synchroning but you want to have been there. There are programs for that. By the way, when you’ve got people at a meet, it’s really, really important if you want them to do well in competition, that you get them to quit talking all the time, surprisingly, talking is a big left brain thing.

When kids are talking, yelling having a fit in the left brain and you want them to go out and swim in the right brain. So they need to keep their mouths shut awhile before they get in the water.

  1. (inaudible audience) something to do with the kids in the pool and all blocking their left ear and turning their right ear to the coach as a group.
  2. I said, or I meant to say, if you’ve got 30 of them in a room, and you’re doing Dryland, that’s where you would use it, certainly not in the water, because half of them would be going – which is right?, which is left? But when you are doing something, especially with an individual kid, you know you could do that. Certainly not in the water. I mean you would have to put a little tattoo for them to know which is which sometimes. You can ask them to lock these in and we will have a way in the manual to teach you how to anchor and how to visualize and how to image because it’s a step by step thing on how to do that. Some of the other things that we had talked about that we would do would be the positive attitude we talked about that a little bit. Remember that you can change attitudes. But you cannot change them just by telling somebody they have to tell you. They have to believe it. They have to have learned it. Even though it’s swimming, it isn’t any different than learning trig – it’s all learning. Then it’s performance.

The meet is the test, but the learning happens in the same areas in the same way. If we were going to work with the relaxation response, relaxation response is a definite, specific place where people can be and need to be, if they are going to at all swim a good swim. It doesn’t have to be the minute before, but the Alpha brain waves that are needed to experience this response and of all the research that I’ve read from sports psychologists, people have to have felt the relaxation response, experience the relaxation response if they are to get into the flow or into the “Zone.” It’s actually the door in. Bilateral sychroning is very important so we have a program that teaches the sychroning and relaxation at the same time, like a two for one. Since that state is important and because you’ve got kid swimmers, do you know how many of them know what relaxation is? What may be relaxation to them is maybe not be a total response. We use biofeedback for that. The one we have in the room upstairs you can actually see and they can feel what relaxation is. That’s where I am supposed to be. Little kids have a lot of trouble with that because they are running around – where? – In Theta and relaxation is in Alpha. So I know you don’t try to get them to do that because I’ve seen meets where they just go. That spontaneity is great.

  1. When you say little kids, what are the ages?
  2. 7 and under. By 7 or 8 they have crossed over the corpus colosseum in the middle of the brain and they are developing the left side. Now people with attention deficit don’t cross over, this is one of the reasons why they have very little logic, they are always late to practice, they have no time management, they have sequencing problems, if you want them to do, something – 1, 2, 3 4, things – they may get to 2, but they won’t get to 4, unless they have done it over and over and over and it’s the same sequence. These are the kids or the people that are in – I don’t know what you call it but I’ve heard it called the “clown lane.” The kids who clown around can’t get in the water, can’t stay in the water, and are touching other people, pushing, shoving, laughing, 291 talking. Many of these kids are attention deficit kids. They can be the hyperactive kid or they can be just the attention deficit. The child who is very very quiet, very introverted in swimming who just doesn’t quite get it will be the ADD child. He doesn’t have to be jumping all over the place. But he’s not getting it either.

These kids need special approaches because out of this group could very well be your next champions. These are the kids that live in the right brain and are ready to go. But you’ve got to help them know how to get there, how to do that. So they are definitely the ones you want to speak in the right ear to, they are definitely the ones you want to say to, “close your eyes and listen to me,” never say look at me so I know you hear me. It is extraordinarily important for these children. The reason for that is, as you are swimming in the water, there is a little place at the base of your brain called the reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS that literally is stimulated and that’s where learning takes place.

So you are helping that child turn on that learn faucet for later on also. You are going to get more and more referrals. We in our club are getting gobs of them because the word’s out that we have a center there for ADD and that we work with that. I have also put out the word with 3 or 4 doctors who deal with ADD and that we have a good swim program. Now if you want to add to your swim program there is a way, if you can handle it. But these are the best swimmers. The people who come into my office, the ones that go are those kids.

  1. I have two questions, one is I don’t know if you subscribe to the concept of patterning – the creeping and crawling and in swimming, in effect, you are using the arms and legs together to help in this to try and explain why we can help the young kids with the transferring of both sides of the brain.
  2. Well, the word patterning sets off a memory in my mind, the idea is great, there was a Doman Del Accado Center in Philadelphia that did patterning and I had a negative thing about that because with the parents that had Cerebral Palsy children, if the child didn’t get up and walk and it wasn’t OK, then the parents got blamed for not working hard enough. And they had the neighbors in and everybody was patterning this kid 3 or 4 times a day. The idea though is great in fact right now, put your pencils down and take your hands and put them out like this. Now this is something you can work on with your kids. Put them straight out, now turn the thumbs down, I’ll do this slowly, now cross the hand and it doesn’t matter which one goes first for you left brained analytical people, just cross them. Now clasp them together and roll them under and cross your feet. Now just close your eyes and look down the railroad track and see those tracks come together, do you see them come together, that’s sychroning. Both sides of the brain are working together into one image. And you can do those exercises with them very quickly. Another one is the calf stretch. Stand up get hold of the chair in front of you and just bend one knee keeping that foot on the ground, the heel down, and stretch as far as you can go. Then count to 3 that’s the hard part, and then do it on the other side. Now the gastrocoel holds the cerebral spinal fluid down when you stretch that the cerebral spinal fluid goes right up to the brain, and learning is easier, and swimming is easier. So in all your stretching, that’s very important, for the mind body connection.

Take your 3 fingers on both hands open your mouth find where your jaw meets. Get those 3 fingers in there, now rub, way back almost by your ear, can you feel that hinge? Go clockwise for about 5 or 6 and then go backward for about 5 or 6, and if you do that long enough you will feel it, do you feel it in your hand? Keep doing it and you will. What happens is that all the nerves to the brain and the head are right here. That’s why people that have TMJ have such pain. So by doing that you are innervating those. A few of these little things before a practice makes a big difference to kids, and in people. So that was working on the awaken mind state.

  1. When you are using sound, what type of music should we not use and what type of music do you recommend?
  2. Do not use all of today’s music, anything with lyrics, you don’t want any talking. Manheim Steamroller “The Endangered Species” is the best tape along with “Bones” by Roth is another one, that’s drums.
  3. Inaudible to do with relaxation.
  4. Yes it is. Of course I deal with different people than you do and I like the ocean sounds – the ocean is Alpha, and it will work. I work with people who have had situations and sometimes the water will bring up the wrong memory. That’s the only thing. I learned that the hard way. I used to say “see yourself by the ocean” and I dealt with a lady who had been raped at the ocean side and that was in the back of her mind, so you’ve got to be careful. When you are asking people to visualize they need to bring up their own pictures.

You may have kids in your group that you don’t even know about that are in an abuse situation, when they bring up the picture you get some of that inference. If you give them the picture, it may trigger something. Remember the autonomic nervous system, is that part of you that gets you to that fight and flight thing and you don’t want them down there, because you don’t swim down there.

So you do have to be a little bit cautious, but ocean music is one of the things that has been used. We have a tape that we use that I did probably did 5 years ago that has for relaxation on one side and learning on the other side. Relaxation is a form of “When You Wish Upon A Star” with ummmms in – it seems like everybody likes it. Some way or another it was a good feeling, and it brings smiles and the smile is the winning. That’s where you win. And the other side has beats that go with learning so it depends on who did it, but yes, a long answer to a short question.

Ocean will work. The relaxation response is very important it slows the heart rate, it lowers the need for oxygen, and it can actually lower lactate acid in the blood. If you can get a good response. Therefore we have a program that is written exactly for that purpose, in the recovery section. You can do it other ways, if you want to do it fast, then you use neurotechnology. It’s not that you cannot do it, it has to do with the time factor. You have to have a lot of people, you have to deal with a lot of people, in order to pay for whatever is going on. Recovery is very important after a race. The relaxation responses used are important, but you need to get down into Delta to recover. Deep relaxation and complete rest are absolute mandatories for peak performance, and that’s of course taper or whatever you do before for the taper part of it, you can promote circulation, cause vessels to expand and excrete endorphins. In fact I think you had endorphins released this morning didn’t you? The problem with the sinuses and endorphin opened that side of the nose. Endorphin releases are not strange to neurotechnology with sight and sound, they happen all the time So this is another use for somebody who got a real tight muscle or some cramps and things.

There is a Dr. Roger Kaye who did some research that has to do with the use of light and sound in the Delta-Theta program which is what ours is in, increases endorphins, and dopamine and they have measured this. We also measure to find that the use of this program helped cleanse the body of lactate acid, increase the serotonin, increased Beta endorphins and as you just said, increase protein flow and increase growth hormones and glutenizing hormones. Of course the growth hormone is secretion which helps with pain, so those kinds of relaxation things are necessary. Sleep is really important. A lot of kids can’t sleep, you lose a lot because they can’t sleep. In taper they get very anxious, they don’t know whether they have rested enough, or whether they have rested too much. They don’t know whether they are doing what they should be doing in taper, unless of course you have given them a specific step-by-step, day-by-day calendar, then they can. The sleep program we use is 80 minutes, the reason for that is that there is something that is called intermittent insomnia, people go to sleep for an hour but then they wake up. Parents will say “Well, when I looked in on him ten minutes after he went to bed he’s asleep, but then they are awake in an hour. So we wrote a program that went 80 minutes that went across that hour waking period and it is working very well.

So that’s important, especially if you are traveling through time zones, you need sleep. And that brings me to the last program that we wrote that has to do with travel. Travel has been one of the biggest problems, I guess, since mankind in athletics in going from place to place.

What happens is you get jetlag and jetlag is the lack of light. We have a program that if you go east to west you use it one way and if you west to east you use it another, if you go through 3 time zones you use it one way, 6, 9 on, the point being that you prepare yourself for going through 9 time zones, 10 time zones, you start 3 days before you leave, using light and sound on a specific schedule, therefore you are storing up the light, you’re storing up what your body needs. Then we have a rest program and an awake program, and the awake program is probably the best I have ever written I really like it myself even if I do say so, because when you just can’t think and you put this on and you are there. I slept 2 hours last night, and I used this program twice today and I’m feeling good. So this is what this is about, it is not taking the place of anything, it’s simply going the next step.

I think bringing the mind body connection together, allowing you to utilize that connection, has been a problem in sports forever, to make the conversion, between what you want people to do and them to do it. That conversion is a brain wave, that’s the bridge and everybody fails because they cannot convert when they need to. We even have a joke now that we are waiting for a call from Tiger Woods, who didn’t make the cut yesterday, so for the first time now, he’s out of the “Zone,” we’ll see how he comes back. We’ve had very, very elite golfers to our center, who have lost interest in playing – money is not a big thing, which is hard for me to imagine, but they love the game and they still want to win. So it worked with them in doing those things. You have to be sort of individualized in a group.

  1. (Inaudible referring to jetlag.)
  2. Well, I didn’t have to do the research, it was already done, I read a lot of research, on spectrum – are you talking about full spectrum? There is no way to put a full spectrum unless you live in it and that’s great, if you have them, we are getting ready to put them in our office, but a full spectrum of light on an airplane traveling, if there is a way to do that, I don’t know, what we have done is used the colored lights, the goggles are all the way across, even comes into the periphery, and because the retina where this bounces off of and is thoroughly safe, with your eyes closed, you are seeing it in the mind’s eye, then you are getting a lot of light.

All Training is Not Physical by Dr. R. Ditson Sommer (1997)

All Training is Not Physical by Dr. R. Ditson Sommer (1997)

First of all, let me thank you for coming on a morning when you have no idea what we are going to say or who we are. You are to be commended for getting up. I would like to make sure that all of you are up, so if you will work with me, we will do some little exercises that you can do with your swimmers to make sure that they are listening to you. What we are doing is actually using part of the body to get them to be able to listen specifically. So take your hands and put them on your ears and find the very top part that is rolled over. You’ve got to do both, you can’t do just one. Then unroll your ear, unroll all the way down, just unroll it and do it about five or six times, just keep doing it. If you’re unrolling it and you are doing it correctly, then the brain will send little nerve signals and you will get what we call bilateral hearing and there will be a focus to the hearing. OK. Everybody awake now?

That’s a very important exercise to do because what you are doing is getting your swimmers to use both hands to do something which takes both sides of the brain and puts them into a focus. So now that I have your undivided attention, and both sides of your brain are awake, I will proceed. You will hear me speak a lot about the different sides of the brain. If you do a lot of study about the brain you will realize that the brain operates on its own and does its own thing when it wants to. It operates on stimulus and it changes dominance and hemispheres every 90 to 120 minutes. So you may be talking with somebody or working with somebody (that’s right dominant) and you will hit that 90 minute or someplace in-between and they’ll switch over to the other side. So you won’t have their full attention.

Another thing to remember is that if you really want somebody to understand what you say, and they are not necessarily listening and they are not good listeners, always speak in the right ear. The right ear is a direct route to the brain, the left ear is a long way around. So if you want to take the freeway, get over on the right side. Or if you want them to really hear you and pay attention, tell them to close their eyes and listen. Never say “look at me so I know you hear me”, because you are using two separate apparati and they don’t work together like that.

Over a year ago I started working with attention deficit clients and I got an interesting patient sent to me. He was suffering from an attention deficit disorder and this was Gary Hall, Jr., who sports psychologists realized had an attention deficit disorder and this was getting in the way of his training. I’m working with him as an attention deficit disorder and all at once he came in and said, “I have to swim the Olympic Trials – in a few weeks.” And I thought, well that’s fine, but what do I know about swimming? I very quickly tried to learn – and how you all know what you know – I don’t know. It’s amazing to me all of the mental action and all of the things that go together to teach swimming. But I got the books and I learned some things about it in turn with how it works with the brain and what he could do. It was important because he was unable to sleep. He was really ready to quit, he was frustrated, and he wasn’t getting anyplace. He had problems with time management. When should he work out? Nothing was working for him. So we sat down and we put something together, and I began to find out that he was suffering from what they call a fight-and-flight reflex, which all attention deficit or attention disorder people have. That is where you have a minus and a plus that goes with adrenaline and when you see it over to the left of the sympathetic nervous system, you will see the minus. When you see a minus like that, it means that there is a lot of adrenaline being secreted at the wrong time. It’s a constant. The fight-and-flight reflex can also go with the people in high stress. They don’t have time in attention disorder to have this picture show. So he was in an anxiety situation, was stressed, and was of course excreting cortisol and was not feeling well.


So my job was to have him move from the sympathetic up to the very sympathetic. Since working with Gary, I’ve had lots of swimmers that had to move up the line. We got him up to where there was confidence, calmness and endorphins in all of this, and we had to do it in a certain way. It was not a secret weapon, but it was definitely a way that had never been used before – that was because Gary had attention disorder – he lived in what we call the Beta Brain Wave. And he could not relax in Beta – Beta is a very thinking wave – and we had to get him into an Alpha Brain Wave. The only way to do that, that I could figure out at the time, was by using neurotechnology which was light and sound.

Hypnosis had been no good, because the sports phycologists had tried hypnosis, but because attention disorder people live in Beta, you cannot hypnotize them easily. So hypnosis was not necessarily very good. I read a study by Herbert Benson about how to get into the Alpha state, and to visualize his swim. Now it may be a surprise to you, but visualization takes place in the Alpha Wave. We will get to the waves in a minute. Imagery takes place in Beta. So I began to quickly try to get him to visualize and have an image and he was an extraordinary imagery ability person because of being in the Beta Waves. So what we had to do then was to take this, and through using light and sound, – we’ll show it to you with the lights flashing and the sound going – and it actually came into his situation through his eyes and ears and merged with the brain waves. After quite a few sessions we were able to get him into Alpha, but we had to go up to the Beta Brain Wave and come down and I’ll explain that in a minute, just try to remember what I said.

What we were after was a relaxation response. Relaxation response is needed because that is the way you get into the “zone.” That is the doorway to the flow of the zone – through relaxation and bilateral synchroning. We got that done through sensory stimulation. It didn’t take very long, and it worked beautifully. Gary still travels with us as do many, many other swimmers. We got a card the other day from Carla Gertz who was having trouble swimming the 800. She would get so nervous after 200 meters that she became ill. After using the protocol that we put together for her, we got a card from Spain saying that she got a silver in the 800 and at the bottom it said, “I don’t get sick anymore.” Which tells us again, that she’s developed the relaxation response and is able to do that. That’s very, very important, because if you are in the relaxation response, your heart rate slows down, you have slower respiration and you need less oxygen, and your blood level lowers in lactate acid when you’re in a relaxed state. So it’s very important to know how to get into relaxation.

Before I stop too many brain waves, let’s talk about what they are. You probably know this, but I always go through this because every time I write a program for the light and sound units, I have to put down a little table of what they are and yet I’ve lived with them for years. The brain waves are Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta. Think of “Drink TAB.” Delta is the lowest, then Theta, then Alpha, then Beta. “Drink TAB.” Beta is the highest, it’s the most rapid brain wave, it’s a normal waking state, your eyes are open, you’re focusing on the world outside yourself – this is an important thing to remember. Especially in swimming. Many swimmers I see and many athletes I see, cannot focus outside themselves at the proper time. Well if they’re in Beta, they can do that. If they are not in Beta, they cannot. You can deal with concrete and specific problems if you’re in Beta. You’re alert, you’re aroused, you have concentration, you have cognition and you’re responsible for yourself and for control. Now, one thing that can happen in Beta is that you can get an excessive amount – because of stress, because of anxiety. So that’s about the only negative part of Beta. But Beta is a good place to be.

Alpha – I just told you to “Drink TAB” – OK, we’re going backwards, Alpha is what we call the “hertz.” Hertz are cycles per second. How fast something moves. It is an electrical normination for brain waves or electric waves, or all kinds of waves. Hertz – Hz – cycles per second. The cycles per second for Beta are 13 Hz on up. I don’t know that we know how high. In our light and sound unit we don’t go over 18. You don’t need to. Many people who are making these go up to 40’s and 50’s, it is not necessary to go that high. Now in Alpha we have 8.1 Hz to 13 Hz. The middle part. That’s a slower brain wave than the Beta. You have quietness, you’re relaxed, you’re somewhat mentally unfocused, you’re calm, it’s a pleasant state, it’s a visualization state and it’s the “Zone” state. When somebody’s in the “Zone,” in the flow, they’re in an Alpha state, just pleasantly non-focused, just going.

In Theta it’s 4.1 to 8 Hz. It’s a slow powerful rhythmic wave. This is one place where you can change a belief system, somebody thinks, I cannot get through this swim, I cannot do this, if you make a tape for them, and you play it programed that’s in Theta, you can actually help them unlearn and relearn by listening to your tape while using the machine. It’s sort of a twilight state and it’s a learning state. Delta is very slow and that’s where you sleep, that’s 0 to 4 Hz. It’s kind of an unconscious thing. The one thing you want to know about Delta is that you can have people secrete growth hormones and healing hormones during this time. So that’s very important to know. Then you would use a program for that. It’s a very deep relaxation state.

Now for Gary, we used the Sportlink and we got results in 3 to 4 sessions, where he was more relaxed, focused and rested. And he was ready to swim. He was no longer fatigued. He was able to achieve a relaxation response and he decreased his adrenaline drain and therefore he improved his neuromuscular system and his motor ability. He had no more fight-and-flight when he wanted to control it. He was ready for workouts, and then we came to the time, the energy.

Energy is a very important thing for all athletes. When I work with athletes, I ask them, “When is your best time to train? When is your best time to perform?” Some of them have no idea. They know when they don’t want to, They don’t know when they can. So one of the things I wanted to teach you today and you may already know these things, is how to plot a peak and a trough period for energy for your athletes. Now what you do is put down the time that they get up, and the time they go to bed. And then you put hours all the way through that. Ask them for almost a week to mark 279 on this line when they feel the lowest, or the sluggish or the tiredest, or the least attentive, or whatever. When you get that, then the trough period is when they’ve made a mark. Draw your circle and the top is your peak and the bottom is the trough. Now, do you want them swimming during a trough period? Not if you can help it. You want them training or swimming during a peak period if at all possible. But we can’t do that for everybody, with Gary we could do that. Or some of the other Olympians that I work with, we can do that. But the kids that go to school, you have to work with the timing.

One of the things that we do before a performance for kids (and you can see age groupers, juniors, seniors who work through the peak performance center at the Phoenix Swim Club) or before an event, they will have the lights on or they will have a Walkman with the music that they used during the training period with the lights. Because the minute the brain hears that music, it goes to that state that it has learned. So they don’t even have to use the glasses down in the ready room or any place like that, they can just be listening to the Walkman.

Anybody who wants to know how to write protocols or what to do, I’m here for the next two days to help you do that. I will sit down with you individually and help you. It’s very important to know how to do some of these things and it makes such a change in the swimmer and the athlete that it’s actually fun to do. What we wanted was to achieve a relaxation response and you can do that, but there’s a certain way to do that. You want to make sure that you have the peak and the trough. Now, if you are traveling, or if they are off of their time, you can actually use neurotechnology 15 to 20 minutes before they swim to bring the brain wave to a peak period. They ultimately can learn to that themselves.

This is not something that you are married to for the rest of your life. It’s like training wheels on a bicycle. Once you feel that state – we had some climbers – what do you call that when you climb without ropes? I know what I call it, but i don’t know what the real name for it is. Where they go up the face and they are not using ropes? The climber knows how to meditate all of these things and he was in our office the other day and he put on the neurotechnology instrument and within a second he was there – because his brain knew exactly where it was to go. He was amazed at the quickness of which this worked. This is not something you can’t teach, this doesn’t replace you, has nothing to do with anything that you know, it’s just a quicker way to get things done in a slower environment when people don’t have a lot of time.

The energy cycle mapping – the only problem with this is if you have a person who has attention deficit disorder, then you have to be a little bit careful about what you’re doing, with the light and sound. I can help you with that. The thing that you have to remember is that 1 out of 10 of your swimmers is an attention deficit person. There’s 17 million people, so if you’ve got kids in what you call the “clown lane” or the “don’t listen lane,” or the “get over there lane,” many of those kids are kids that cannot pay attention, they have not a clue of what you are saying. They don’t hear you. So if you have something to tell them, you need to tell them when they’re up on the deck – right in the right ear – and you can see the difference that happens with them or to use neurotechnology for them before they swim and then they will be on. This can be used twenty to thirty minutes before practice and it’s for peak performance.

For instance, as well as you have the kids who don’t pay much attention or the people you have who are so analytical, they squeak, every little movement is analyzed. I see this because I work with some European Olympians whom I wish I had the ability to analyze like they do, the only problem is, they couldn’t stop it. They couldn’t stop analyzing. So they get up on the block and they think, “OK, my arm was kind of – yeah, and …” and the problem with that one is, that you don’t swim well in the left brain, that is where you analyze and train. But when you swim for the gold, you go into the right. And I tell them, OK, swim to Hawaii, forget about how you swim at that moment, now not during training, but during performance, so it is very important for people to be able to cross over, and to learn how to cross over and there are many ways to do it.

If you see a swimmer who is training with us, for instance on the block, you might see a left hand going – just somebody standing up instead of flicking both, jumping up and down, you’ll see this left hand go – why is that? Turns on the right brain. That’s it. Now the way to do it is to put your finger aside your nose, take a deep breath and the right brain is turned on. You want them to turn on the left brain? Put a finger aside the left nostril. Always put your finger on the side you want to turn on. You close the right nostril and the right brain is turned on. So there’s a lot of little ways to do that and if you think about that you will feel it. You’ll feel that turn on.

There are ways to get over there and you need a bridge to cross. The bridge is called the corpus callosum. We made a discovery the other day that Bob (my assistant) doesn’t like to hear about, but the fact is that women have 10 more fibers in the corpus callosum then men. Whatever that says to you. Corpus callosum is the middle inside of the brain where you can cross over. Now children up to 7 and 8 don’t cross that bridge. They live in the right side. They stay in the right side. After 8 they should have crossed. If they’re not crossing, then they have developmental delays. One of the best places in the world for these kids is in the water because it is the best tibular stimulation. We have physicians in Phoenix sending kids to the Phoenix Swim Club for developmental delays because of the vestibular movement.  The vestibular movement in the water signifies something at the base of the brain to a place called the Reticular Activating System and we call him RAS, and as he opens that door, that’s when learning takes place and not until. So all the time your swimmer is in the water, that door is open. Ready for learning.

We have in our peak performance lab a bed that goes around, a vestibular training bed and a chair that our swimmers are in, our athletes are in every day that they are there. The reason for that is that it dips 8 inches and it bathes the brain in blood and it also does the vestibulous stimulation so that anything that is put into the ear phones becomes learned and not a stimulus response, but a learned behavior. And I presume that’s what you want mostly, it gets these kids or people to learn what you want them to know. So remember that you need that bridge, and that the body itself crosses over every 90 to 120 minutes, so if you get a time when somebody is not working out right, just give them a second to cross over, because many times that’s what’s happening.

Both hemispheres are important for preparation, we all know that bilateral sychroning when both sides of the brain are coming to a point is the point of excellence. Right? But then we have to, very quickly, just for a second, get over to the right side for that award winning performance. And that’s a relaxed, creative, free for go away into the “Zone,” into the right, and that’s where the winning takes place. Now hemispheric synchronization checks out everything, you don’t hear very much that is going on, and that is where your efficiency of learning and performance takes place. That’s what you call the “Zone.” That’s where it is. You can’t will yourself and push yourself into the “Zone,” you have to flow into the “Zone” – because it is in the right brain with things just being OK.

The ingredients of swimming are being able to access this kind of thing along with nutrition, time management, rest and recovery, mental training, hard work, dedication, and of course the love of the sport, which is the most important fact of all of this. If you’re not having fun, you’re not going to be a winner. It it’s always the hardest work in the world when you hate it and you’re not going to have many medals. All these things make up the good athlete. One thing that is different from that is you’ve got to be able to handle the stress to achieve maximum results.

Where do you get stress? We work with high profile athletes also. We have a golfer on the senior tour who came to me to work for a week. He’d been probably the top money winner for many, many years. Money was not a big thing to him. He was on the senior team though and he was not winning, and this was bothering him. He didn’t want to shot anything over 75. So we worked and worked and found out that what had happened was that actually he was bored, he was losing attention and he had forgotten how to love the game. So in working with him I noticed he’s pulled money the last six times out. What he has done has come back into fold, and he already knew how to do that. Sometimes it takes a wake-up call. He uses his Sportlink every day, plus a nutrition program that we put together.

Handling stress is very important and I noticed with the kids, and I’m surrounded by swimmers, including my own son who has severe attention deficit disorder, is now a masters swimmer, so my entire life is swimming. There’s nothing that goes on in our house that is talked about that is not swimming. I’ve learned a great deal about swimming all at once. And it’s very exciting to me just to stop in the middle of all this, I’d like to stop and really congratulate you and thank you for what you do for kids. Those of you who work with children, and for adults, the fact that you have something that teaches them structure and all of the different things that you teach them, throughout the day, it’s amazing. That’s probably one thing that will keep us going, because in other areas, kids are being taught many, many of the wrong things and that things don’t matter. And you’re teaching them time management, and teaching them loyalty, you’re teaching them a lot of things and I think you should be commended for that. And you certainly have my applause for it. I had no idea what went on with swimming a year ago. Swimming to me was when you got wet and had to use a hair dryer. It had no meaning at all.

I do watch kids as they go through taper, and I didn’t quite understand what taper is, and I still don’t understand totally what taper is. (inaudible audience remark) OK, I’m glad to hear that because I’m trying to learn, but it seems to all be different. I noticed though that some things happen with kids, and with adults too while preparing – there’s some stress that goes with that. Sort of an anxiety. Like – am I getting too much rest , am I not getting enough rest, what am I doing, and this is sort of how light and sound can come into this. When we were on the airplane I was using the new unit that we have and I was told to put away the “toy,” it looks sporty, and it is cute and I have to tell you that neurotechnology started out with a machine as big as this blackboard, now that’s how big it was. $25,000.00. This was 8 years ago. The newest light and sound machine on the market is ours and it’s this big. (Shows the new Sportlink) So it’s come a long way and it’s easy to carry. We’ve gone to amber lights and we’re using minoral sounds, which means one sound goes here, one goes here and you hear the third sound in a very low frequency, because that’s what the brain in the body likes, not high pitched sounds. So this is what’s being used. It’s a technology that’s been around a long time, it is certainly not something that I developed, it’s been around since about 1930.

We knew that brain waves were electric and had frequency, and we knew that electricity had frequency, so what happens is the lights are at a frequency like a brain wave that I told you about, and the brain sees that, and because they speak to each other, in frequency, they merge. And then the brain goes off with the lights and the big responsibility here is the programs that are written, where they go, what they do. Up until a year ago, most of it was for out of body experiences, relaxation, fun. But I guess it’s been longer then that, two years ago, I started using it for accelerated learning like Lazonoff’s Techniques. The reason we haven’t used light and sound is because Lazonoff who is Bulgarian, an accelerated learning specialist, was using 60 beats per minute and the American brain couldn’t keep up with it, we can only go 57, 58, so I had to study at Arizona State University where we still had a lab and we had to slow that down.

The way we slowed that down was with light and sound. You will see kids out there with these just before finals, out on the grounds with the lights going – try to picture it. It’s very useful now, it’s safe and the only people who should not use this are people who have phonic stimulated epilepsy. I have some in my practice who are not a problem, but for your liability, you do not want to put this on a child who has epilepsy. It could invoke a seizure. I work with probably 4,000 people, I’ve never had that happen. But it has happened once or twice in misguided, high level frequency programs. I don’t want to scare you off on this, I just want to tell you. You know people can drown too and you don’t keep them out of the water. So it’s the same kind of thing. The good that it does is very important.

Now during taper, you can take away the stress of all of this by giving them schedules, and you know how to do that, I don’t have to tell you that. You can for instance though, take your Sportlink, use session 8 which is relaxation response session and help them balance themselves one time during the day. For instance if you want a positive mental attitude then there’s a program that works with the Limbic System which is the part of the brain that does that kind of thing, and helps you do a tape that you make or you help them make, unlearn what they are worried about and this is what happened with Carla Gertz, unlearn what they are worried about and put the positive in. The body has to take out something before they can put it in. In the Limbic System, in the brain. As far as increasing positive influence, which everybody wants to do, use session 4 the Sportlink. Ernest Lawser did some research on the psychology of mind body healing and found that the Limbic System actually translates into molecules – those negative or positive things that you hear. Of course that’s one of the basics of NLP, Neurolistic Programing. So if somebody is speaking negative things, you must say to them, “out of your mouth into your brain.” Because actually it becomes a neuron, a heard impulse that goes through a synapse that literally becomes a neuron and stays there until it’s replaced.

So it’s very difficult to get negative things out of peoples minds. But you can do that if you do it the right way. And we are going to have a learning guide with ours, hopefully that’s better than any, to teach you how to use this in many, many areas. That’s also never been done. The light and sound. Now to guard against anxiety, which is one of the biggest things that I see, Dr. Herbert Benson told us how to get rid of guilt and unpreparedness and getting to the relaxation response. You can do that.

One of the things that I find, is that people will talk about visualization and mental imagery in the same breath. They are not the same. They take place in two separate parts of the brain. They take place in two separate brain waves, Visualization takes place in Alpha, mental imagery takes place in Theta. So you need to know that. Now if you’ve got a kid that’s all over the pool in the clown lane, that kid will be able to image. Show him a video of what you want him to do, he can image that in his own body and he can do that. That’s why they are such great swimmers. It’s hit that right “I care for nothing” – GO. It’s the kid that’s good in geometry, the kid that’s good in math, in science, that’s in the left side, but can’t turn loose of that analytical to goal. So the kid that doesn’t listen to you, the kid you have the trouble with, could end up being one of your best swimmers. If you can just get his attention. The physiological timing situation that happens with swimmers can be dealt with.

We’ve put into this machine, two jetlag programs, one for rest and one to wake. And it’s written if you go east to west every three hours you use it a certain way. Go west to east you use it a different way. The reason that this works is that you know what jetlag is I’m sure, it’s the lack of light. That’s the difference in where you were and where you’re going, so we use light more or we use light less depending on the travel. I think that this is something that will be very, very useful, for long trips or even short trips. I used it coming here, I use it a lot. And it’s just a wake-up call, a very short period. That’s another thing, in the Sportlink we have a five minute program for preparation just before a swim. We have a 15 minute program – we realize that people don’t have a lot of time. The only long program is the program that we use for sleep. If you cannot sleep, we have an 80 minute program, the reason for that is that after one hour of sleep, there is something called intermittent insomnia. People sleep for an hour and then they wake up. So this program goes past the hour into that next segment so that you don’t wake up. There is a lot of success with that.

There is a program, I’ve forgotten what program number it is, so that energy lag, that jetlag, the energy cycle need is something that is useful that way. Loss of mental balance is a theta-beta session. The research has already been done, I did not do the research, we built the machine around other peoples research, and then ended up doing our own. Dr. Jacklin Godfrey has realized that through research, mental balance is gotten by a theta-beta session. So our session in there is to promote focus, perfect timing, positive arousal 282 and energy by using the theta-beta wave in a protocol.

Loss of energy suggests a lower beta session, you can’t just drive, and Dr. Zitzeng Leholley, has a research on how a performance and power balance and that would be relaxed alertness, concentration, external orientation – where am I – what’s the pool like – what does it smell like – and bilateral synchroning. So if you use session 6 this is what it promotes. The extended secretion of adrenaline is very important and Maxwell Kabe has a report that you can move with the sympathetic if you move with the line – remember, we had it from the minus to the plus, you can move from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic in fact in my office we can do it in three minutes. Three minutes is about the lowest that we have had it happen. And I have biofeedback which we have by the way up in room 233. We would be very happy to hook you up and let you see how that works. Any of this you can come up and try and do, just see Bob to make sure that everybody is not there at the same time because we only have two units and one biofeedback unit.

Sometimes inadequate oxygenation is a problem. Kids get tense and they just don’t have enough air. If you use the relaxation response or you can use the brain buttons. So right now put the pencils down, and the pens down and find your thymus, go down to about your first or second rib as far as you can go, and come up. Push up on you hip, your chest coming up, and do that about 10 times, and you’ll feel the blood in your carotid arteries going up. Just travel up. So this is another thing that you can get them to do, that increases oxygenation. Blood flow to the brain. Another way to wake yourself up is take your 3 fingers find where your jaw opens both sides, always do everything both sides, and massage this and go round, and around in a clockwise motion. Don’t do this easy, just get in there now how many of you have pain? This is why you do, because the muscles and the nerves , every nerve to the brain is right in here, so that is why it hurts so badly. So if you will very gently massage that 4 or 5 times a day, both clockwise and counterclockwise, you will feel it.

In the Peak Performance Center we use light and sound with world class athletes – seniors, age groupers, all of these (you notice how I know these terms now) one thing that’s interesting is that the use of sensory stimulation light and sound does control the autonomic nervous system and just for every day working and being it’s very important to be able to do that. We have people at Merrill Lynch for instance who want peak performance. For AT&T they come to the office and they have their own machine and for 15 minutes they stop their work and they use that and their mental clarity and their lack of stress is much, much better. So there’s lots of things that you can do with this. It’s important to know that if you are going to have an anti-anxiety producing situation you’ve got to produce anti-anxiety chemicals.

Some of the things that you can have are an increase in secretion, beta endorphins, serotonin, testosterone and the growth pain hormone, by using delta for instance, we talked about that before. You can have more coherent brain activity, quicker reaction and focus by using what? Maybe an alpha maybe a low beta You can have more fluid muscle movement , effortless rhythmic and less injuries, by having a relaxation and I know you do stretching, but some people, especially children don’t stretch to the limit. So it’s very useful to them to be able to have these chemicals secreting. Now for Masters swimmers, it’s real exciting, because you know that after 30 (which nobody in here is there yet), I just want to tell you what’s going to happen. When you get to thirty, you quit secreting the growth hormone, and therefor you have less pain controlling hormone, so you have more pain. You begin to have less muscle tissue, you have less energy, and you sleep in delta, a great deal less. Now if you want to keep yourself below 30, you can use a program to sleep in delta. Therefore you can secret more growth hormones. So we are not saying it’s an anti-aging situation, but believe me, I use it, ‘cause I’m almost there. (audience laughter)

The sensory stimulation is useful in lots of ways, it is not however there to replace anybody or anything as far as workouts are concerned. It’s simply to help people quickly become better and have a higher peak performance. I’m running research so I get to use it on lots of people we don’t use it, it’s not a medical instrument, we don’t talk that it’s a medical instrument at all. I use it for relaxation. But it’s amazing what relaxation does. We’ve had people who were on Kemo therapy, who after the first time, were deathly ill, have never been ill since. There are people with migraines who come to relax who don’t have migraines any more. We have people with Lupus, fiber mialga, all of these are auto immune diseases caused by what? The autonomic nervous system and stress and they can be used for that and of course the most exciting use is using it with the attention deficit disorder. That is because these people live in the right side of the brain and have not crossed over, for some reason they don’t cross over, they are supposed to by 7 or 8 but they don’t so they live in the right side they are the – well I’ll tell you who some of them were – Einstein, Whoopi Goldberg, Dustin Hoffman, Edison, all of these are brilliant, brilliant people, but they cannot manage their lives, they cannot manage anything analytical, so they need to be taught that. We’ve gotten into our schools now the situations that the child can’t sit down, he can’t learn. So many children are brought to us because they have been put on medication and because in our state, attention deficit disorder is brand new. We don’t even have any legislation to take care of them. You have to be learning disabled. So it’s extraordinarily exciting to see them come around and be able to do their math, to be able to sit down, to be able to improve, but the first thing we do with them is put them in the water. We will talk about improving groups and getting more of these kids in. If you’ve got a big enough “clown lane” then you can certainly handle them, there’s a way to do it.

Light and sound is used all over. It is used all over the world for healing, boosting immune systems, T-cells have been measured, increases strength, enhances muscle tone, it’s used in China, for relaxation and learning, it’s used in Japan for stress reduction for business men, Korea it’s for sports, peak performance, Russia is for learning and sports. Only the elite sports people of course have it in Russia. The only person who would not be able to have one would be Popov because he seems to be able to do those things himself, someway or other he has learned how to do that. So we might be a little careful about sending one over for that. Germany is stress reduction and learning, France is sports and peak performance and England is peak performance, learning and relaxation. So you see it’s used all over the world, it’s used the least amount in the US.

So we want you to come and try it, it doesn’t make any difference whether you use it with weekend warriors, or Olympic athletes everybody has a skill level and they have an athletic ability and they have a peak potential and this is to help them reach that and help you because we are all capable of that peak potential whether it’s in athletics, whether it’s in business, education, or personal life. All of that is necessary for us to function. So come up to room 233, try it, ask questions, we would be happy to show it to you. We’ll be here til Sunday, I think I’m speaking again on Saturday, I’d be more than happy to know what you would like to hear on Saturday, because I would like it to be something that will be a lot of give and take. Let me stop and have some questions, I’m sure you’ve got them.

  1. “We were talking about brain waves and does it make a difference if someone is right-handed or left-handed?”
  2. Well, you know which side is dominant then, the left side makes you right handed and the right side makes you left-handed. Supposedly there are no ambidextrous people, they are only unresolved dominance. So it doesn’t make any difference to me, it doesn’t make any difference to the Sportlink. It might make a difference to you, and if so, you can actually do that by using only one earphone or one light, and we put a patch of the non-dominant side that we want to develop. When we patch the dominant, it turns the other one on.
  3. If ADD works better with mental imagery, what would you use for the kids who are more analytical?
  4. The one thing that I do in my practice that seems to have helped the Olympians is to try to get them out of the left side before they swim. That’s where we use this kind of business to get them and you’ll see them doing that.
  5. Inaudible
  6. That’s not enough, shaking is not enough for them. You know it’s almost like a 2 X 4 situation, but if you will take them as a group, and sit down with them, and just say close your eyes I want to tell you something, they will form a visual image but they cannot form it if they’re watching because many of them have vision that’s not perfect and it’s off. If you’re putting stuff up on the board that’s very difficult for them or if you’re standing up facing and you’re stretching and you’re asking them to do the opposite, don’t do that. Turn around with your back to them so that your right is their right, and have them move whatever it is you want them to move, don’t make them switch over because they’ll get it wrong and they won’t be able to do it. So if you can think that way, it helps them a great deal. They are much more visual learners then auditory learners.
  7. I read somewhere that if you have a cold or allergy, if you hold your right nostril to breathe and it forces the left nostril to breathe, what happens if they are already breathing only out of their left nostril? Would we assume that they are already on the right side of the brain?
  8. Well I do think that if you breathe it is not very much time. Brain body time is like that so if it doesn’t – like when you cross dominance – there is not a 5 minute lay time in there, so I don’t think that would really inhibit anything. I think it would be still the same. He’s talking about breathing through one side or the other when you breathe only through one side of the nostril. I’d like to read that. I’d like to know where that came from. But if that were true, the other thing with that is you have to be very careful because some kids have terrible allergies and they only have one side they breathe out of and you need to know that because you can enhance performance greatly by those – what do you call those things – breathe rights and some things because if you have a kid that is breathing out of one nostril, then he is always there. And with allergies and things that go on in the water that’s very possible. But I would not worry about just messing them up by just a second of touching the nostril, you know they are not going to swim in the water just holding one side. This is just momentary. Does that answer your question?
  9. If they are sitting on the deck before the race and are just breathing out of their left nostril, could we assume that they are on the right side of their brain?
  10. Yes. They have done EEG studies to show that, it may not be total maximum, but you know with 10 billion cells, what’s one or two. You know there is enough over there to take care of it. So I know that happens. Any other questions?
  11. Inaudible having to do with head injuries.
  12. Are you talking about closed head injury or open head injury or stroke or – closed head injuries we work with – we have a center where the vestibular stimulation is one of the best things in the world for them. Vestibular stimulation actually develops speech. We have a lot of studies that have showed that if you use vestibular stimulation, you can get a lot of speech back or develop speech in children. So I would use that, I would also use light and sound with that. You know that’s in the medical thing, you don’t want to fool with that unless it’s a person in your family and then I would be happy to speak to you about it. You don’t want to get into that. That’s a bee’s nest.
  13. Have you used Sportlink on autistic type/self abusing children?
  14. Yes, I have a center in Wisconsin for autistic children and three years ago I introduced this and not knowing how to keep it on there, number one because they are tactically defensive so we made a helmet that kind of looked like the warrior type thing and we put the glasses in that. We started out with an inner room with the glasses over on the ground, blinking and they all went to it. And so to make a long story short, in 3 and 1/2 months 7 kids have gone into neighborhood treatment 4 of them out of shackles, 7 of them have quit self abusing – that is 18 out of 50 kids, so that’s still going on. I think it’s going to be very, very useful, but yes we have had quite a bit of good report with that. Any other questions? You know this is such a big room and we have you so spread out that we didn’t even get to show you what the Sportlink looks like, so if you want to come down and just see what it is, we don’t have a picture of it but we would be more than happy for you to see it and see the lights and definitely come up to room 233 and sign up now and we’ll put you on it and let you try it. I appreciate you’re coming.