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ASCA Newsletter | Vol. 2017 | Issue 05

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ASCA Newsletter | Vol. 2017 | Issue 05

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New ASCA members from the week ending 6/23/2017

New ASCA members from the week ending 6/23/2017

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Certification for the Week of June 19, 2017

Certification for the Week of June 19, 2017

Islam Abdou from Heliopolis  EGYPT

Level 1 International Age Group

 

Mohamed Ahmed from Maadi  EGYPT

Level 2 International Age Group

 

Natasha Ajgaonkar from Belgaum  INDIA

ASCA membership and Level 1 school test needed

 

Claire Altenau from Avon CO

Completed Levels 1- 3 schools, ASCA membership needed

 

Laudy Asseily from Baabda  LEBANON

Level 1 International Age Group

 

Angus Au from Hong Kong Island  HONG KONG

Level 2 International Age Group

 

Andrey Babaev from Brooklyn NY

Level 1 USA Swimming

 

Alberto Baggio from London  UNITED KINGDOM

Level 1 International Age Group

 

Blair Bagley from Bountiful UT

Completed Level 1 & 2 schools, ASCA membership needed

 

Dominique Banks from Waldorf MD

Completed Levels 1- 3 schools, ASCA membership needed

 

Amelene Bartlett from Atascadero CA

Level 1 USA Swimming

 

Nate Basila from Spring Brook Township PA

Certifed Summer League

 

Drew Bastian from Nassau  BAHAMAS

Level 1 International Age Group

 

Heather Battenberg from Bainbridge GA

Completed Level 2 & 3 schools, ASCA membership needed

 

Ruth Bell from Casper WY

Completed Level 2 school test; Needs Level 1 school test

 

Kirsten J. Bey from Nome AK

Level 1 USA Swimming

 

Lisa Blackburn from Miami FL

ASCA membership and Level 1 school test needed

 

Jose Bracho from Lodi NJ

2013 Eastern States Clinic

 

Matt Brinton from Towson MD

Original Application Approved; Needs Level 1 school test to be certified

 

Keith Brooks from Berkeley CA

Level 2 Masters

 

Fiadh Brosnan from Dingle  IRELAND

Needs to complete a Certification Application

 

Wing Lam Chan from Ma On Shan  HONG KONG

Level 2 International Age Group

 

Dickson Chan from Ap Lei Chau  HONG KONG

Level 2 International Age Group

 

Gary Wong Chun Yan from Causeway Bay  Hong Kong

Level 1 International Age Group

 

Gary Wong Chun Yan from Causeway Bay  Hong Kong

Level 2 International Age Group; Completed Level 3 school test

 

Thammara Clemente from Ridgefield CT

Original Application Approved; Updated EDU & EXP

 

Diosdado Colina from Dammam  SAUDI ARABIA

Needs Membership and Level 1 school test

 

Anne Conner (Desalme) from Sedalia MO

Original Application approved; ASCA Membership needed

 

Parker Craw from Marion IA

Completed Level 3 school test; Needs achievemnt to be upgraded

 

Art Czarobski from Lansing IL

Central States Clinic 2017

 

Anze Dacar from Radovljica  SLOVENIA

Level 3 International Age Group

 

Thomas Davis from Kalibo  PHILIPPINES

File Reviewed

 

Jennifer DeVanna from APO AE

Level 1 Age Group

 

Meghan Devine from Fort Collins CO

Original Application approved; ASCA Membership & Certification application needed

 

Corey Dolley from Pleasant Hill CA

Original Application approved; ASCA Membership & Certification application needed

 

Paul Donovan from Monkstown  IRELAND

Needs Levels 4 & 5 school test to be certified Level 5 International Senior

 

Laura Dotson from Muscoda WI

Original Application approved; ASCA Membership needed

 

Rebecca Ann du Randt from Al Ain  UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Level 2 International Age Group

 

Marcus Edwards from Baltimore MD

Needs ASCA Certification application

 

Cheryl Edwards from Hatboro PA

Original Application approved; ASCA Membership & Certification application needed

 

Brendan Eggers from Rye NY

Original Application approved; ASCA Membership needed

 

Mohamed El-Gengihy from Alexandria  EGYPT

Needs to complete Level 3 school test

 

Jennifer Espinoza from Rialto CA

Level 1 Age Group

 

Cheyne Fisher from Durban  SOUTH AFRICA

Original Application Approved; Needs Level 1 school test to be certified

 

Lalanya Fisher from Newberg OR

Completed Level 1 & 2 school tests; Needs ASCA membership renewal

 

Jessica France from New Richmond WI

Level 2 USA Swimming; Completed Level 3 school test education

 

Alonzo Galloway from Poway CA

Level 1 USA Swimming

 

Sharath M Gaykwad from Bangalore  INDIA

Level 3 International Age Group; Disability

 

Karen Gernert from Fishers IN

Dryland Online OK

 

Marjan Gholamrezaiee from Kuwait  KUWAIT

Needs Membership Renewal to maintain certification

 

Guy Gniotczynski from DeKalb IL

File reviewed

 

Sun Ling Goh from Singapore  SINGAPORE

Level 1 International Age Group

 

Amy Gorton from Webster NY

Level 1 USA Swimming

 

Dwight Gravley from Las Vegas NV

Needs ASCA Certification application

 

Christopher Greene from Cape Coral FL

World Clinic 2014 Ok; Needs ASCA membership renewal

 

Aaron Gregory from Hinesville GA

Level 2 USA Swimming

 

Sara Griffiths from Quévy-le-Petit  BELGIUM

Level 1 International Age Group

 

Bethany Groccock from McLean VA

Certified Summer League OK; Needs ASCA membership renewal

 

Rudie Guerrero from Los Gatos CA

Completed Levels 2 & 3 school tests; ASCA Membership & Certification application needed

 

Gudmundur Hafthorsson from Ringsted  DENMARK

Level 3 International Senior; Age Group

 

Amanda Hawkinson from Richfield MN

Needs to complete a Certification Application and Level 1 school test to be certified

 

Meghan Hawthorne from Boise ID

Level 1 NCAA I

 

Adel Heddaya from Damanhour  EGYPT

Needs Membership and Level 1 School Test

 

Vicky Hennings from Walden NY

Level 1 USA Swimming; Regional Clinic OK

 

Kam Cheuk Hong from Causeway Bay  HONG KONG

Level 2 International Age Group; Completed Level 3 school test

 

Laura Ingalls from Newton MA

Original Application Approved; Needs Level 1 school test to be certified

 

Mark A. Jedow from San Antonio TX

Updated EDU

 

Cynthia Jones from Monticello MN

Needs Membership and Level 1 School Test

 

Jislin Josy from Doha  QATAR

Level 2 International Age Group

 

Hong Kam from Causeway Bay  HONG KONG

Needs Certification Application and Level 1 school test

 

Choo Eng Kee from   Singapore

Original Application approved; ASCA Membership needed

 

Michael Kleinert from Camp Pendleton CA

Completed Level 5 school test; New Ideas

 

Ashton Knowles from Freeport  BAHAMAS

Level 1 International Age Group

 

  1. Tharaka Krishantha de Alwis from SRI Lanka

Needs Membership and Level 1 school test to be certified

 

Kirk Kumbier from Meadville PA

Level 3 NCAA III

 

Curtar Kuria from Dubai  UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Level 1 International Age Group

 

Allison la Grange from Gaborone  BOTSWANA

Needs to complete Level 5 school test

 

Sophie Lai from Harrisonburg VA

Level 2 USA Swimming

 

Cameron Lamont from Waldshut-Tiengen  GERMANY

Level 1 International Age Group

 

Jennifer Lane from Clermont FL

Level 2 Age Group

 

Luis Luebs from Zapopan  MEXICO

Level 3 International Age Group

 

Lillian Margolis from Rockland MA

Level 1 USA Swimming; YMCA; Age Group

 

Adriana Marmolejo from Medford MA

Level 3 Age Group

 

Stu Marvin from Bloomsburg PA

File correction

 

Eduardo Maximo from West Sacramento CA

NAPA Clinic 2017 OK

 

Jeffrey May from Los Angeles CA

Original Application Approved; Needs Level 1 school test to be certified

 

Brian McInerney from Monroe NY

Level 2 USA Swimming

 

Osama Mohamed from Elsenbelawen  Egypt

Completed Level 4 school test; Needs achievements to be upgraded

 

Thobo Moleko from Gaborone  BOTSWANA

2017 Speedo Conference OK

 

Joan Borrais Mongay from Cardoba  Spain

Level 1 International Age Group

 

Matt Montgomery from Duluth GA

Completed Level 1 school test; Needs ASCA membership renewal

 

Ahmed Ali Ahmed Moustafa from Sharjah  UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Level 2 International Age Group

 

Hossam Moustafa from Cairo  EGYPT

Needs Membership and Level 1 school test

 

James Mullen from Newburgh NY

Level 2 USA Swimming

 

Barrie Nolan from Petaluma CA

Original Application Approved; Needs Level 1 school test to be certified

 

Shannon O’Brien from Troy NY

Original Application Approved; Needs Level 1 school test to be certified

 

Joseph O’Malley from San Antonio TX

Level 3;2 High School; USA Swimming

 

Christina Paganelli from Redondo Beach CA

Level 1 USA Swimming

 

Christina Paganelli from Redondo Beach CA

Level 2 USA Swimming

 

Joseph Pang from Kowloon  HONG KONG

Original Application Approved; Needs Level 1 school test to be certified

 

Finley Quinn from Katy TX

Level 1 USA Swimming

 

Cyndi Riess from Allegan MI

Level 2 Age Group

 

Meshach Roberts from Nassau  BAHAMAS

Level 1 International Age Group

 

Craig Rouse from Gaborone  BOTSWANA

Updated EDU as submitted

 

Robby Rutledge from Spanaway WA

Level 1 USA Swimming; High School

 

Sansupak Sakdee from Bangkok  THAILAND

Needs to complete Level 1 school test

 

Xu Bin Shi from Beijing  China

Needs Membership and Level 1 School Test

 

Laura Smith from Mesa AZ

Completed Level 4 school test; Needs achievement to be upgraded

 

Thanapan Suthin from Bangkok  THAILAND

Needs to complete Level 1 school test

 

Thanapan Suthin from Bangkok  THAILAND

Level 1 International Age Group

 

Catherine Sutton from Boston MA

Added Level 2 Masters

 

Trey Taunton from Minneola FL

Needs Membership and Certification Application to be certified

 

Ashleigh Thomas from Homer Glenn IL

ASCA Membership needed

 

Perrie Tsui from To Kwa Wan  HONG KONG

Completed Level 1 school test; Needs ASCA Certification Application

 

John Uchal from Webster NY

ASCA Membership needed

 

Jess Wilkie from Edinburgh  UNITED KINGDOM

Original Application Approved; Needs Level 1 school test to be certified

 

Courtney Wrenn from Germantown MD

Original Application Approved; Needs Level 1 school test to be certified

 

Ling Yang from Duluth GA

Resume Ok; ASCA Membership needed

 

Charles Yeung from Bowrington  HONG KONG

Level 2 International Age Group

 

John Yiu from Causeway Bay  Hong Kong

Needs to complete a Certification Application and Levels 1 & 2 school tests to be certified

 

Eric Zeller from Windsor Heights IA

Needs to complete a Certification Application and Levels 2 & 3 school tests to be certified

 

Yunxin Zhang from Melbourne  AUSTRALIA

Level 1 International Age Group

 

Haigang Zheng from   CHINA

Needs Membership and Level 1 School Test

 

 

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ASCA Newsletter | Vol. 2017 | Issue 06

ASCA Newsletter | Vol. 2017 | Issue 06

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New ASCA members from the week ending 6/16/17

New ASCA members from the week ending 6/16/17

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Certification for the Week of June 12, 2017

Certification for the Week of June 12, 2017

Caroline Antonuccio from Syracuse NY

Level 1 Age Group; Disability

 

Mark Bennett from Clovis CA

Level 5;3 Age Group; USA Swimming

 

Frank Bruno from Chester NY

Level 2 USA Swimming

 

Jason Chung from Rosendale MA

Regional Clinic CT OK

 

Sandy Elder from Cascade ID

Level 3 International Age Group

 

Gustavo Machado from Hawthorne CA

Completed Level 3 school test; Needs Level 3 achievement to be upgraded

 

Abdul Mohammed from Laredo TX

Needs Level 4 School Test Completed

 

Rodolfo Pinto from   EGYPT

Needs Level 4 School Test Completed

 

Carol Restrepo from Hannonfield NJ

Updated EDU & EXP as Submitted

 

Radovan Silijevski from Vozdovac  Serbia

Updated EDU & EXP as Submitted

 

Randy Simon from Waverly OH

Updated EDU & EXP as Submitted

 

Sasi Srimath Weerasinghe from Abu Dhabi  UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Membership Renewal Needed

 

Kate Stauffer from Joplin MO

Level 1 Summer League

 

Suann Sun from Minhang  CHINA

Level 2 International Age Group; Completed Level 3 School test

 

Lindsay Takkunen from Nairobi  KENYA

Level 2 International Age Group

 

Nikola Tarajic from Vojodina  Serbia

File Reviewed

 

Joseph Tarasevich from Wakefield RI

Level 1 USA Swimming

 

Kieren Tay from   Singapore

Updated EDU & EXP as Submitted

 

Kenneth Tuttle Wilhelm from Taman Setia Tropica  MALAYSIA

Updated EDU & EXP as Submitted

 

 


	   		
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New ASCA members from the week ending 6/9/17

New ASCA members from the week ending 6/9/17

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New ASCA members from the week ending 6/2/2017

New ASCA members from the week ending 6/2/2017

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June 2017 | College Swimming needs a fund to help universities that invest in saving their swimming program continue to offer scholarships. Would you be willing to add a $1.00 per event surcharge to your age group swimming events in each LSC, to put millions aside to help save college swimming?

June 2017 | College Swimming needs a fund to help universities that invest in saving their swimming program continue to offer scholarships. Would you be willing to add a $1.00 per event surcharge to your age group swimming events in each LSC, to put millions aside to help save college swimming?

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Tapering Teenagers by Ira Klein (1994)        

Tapering Teenagers by Ira Klein (1994)           

Coach Klein is ASCA Certified Level 5-YMCA;AG and USS. Ira is currently the Assistant Men’s and Women’s Swimming Coach at Auburn University. Previous to this position, Coach Klein spent 18 years coaching clubs around the country. He was the Assistant Women’s Coach at the 1994 Goodwill Games, the Head Coach for the North Team at the 1994 Olympic Festival and 011 Assistant Coach at the 1991 Olympic Festival. In 1988 Coach Klein was named the YMCA National Coach of the Year. Ira served two terms 011 the ASCA Board of Directors as well as being a Past President and founder of the YMCA Swim Coaches Association.

 

I’ve been coaching a little over twenty years now, most of it until this last year was all in club and a lot of that was in YMCA and attending meets like Y Nationals and Juniors, Seniors and Trials. Coaching everything from Eight and under through Olympians. As a matter of fact in 1991 when I was coaching a group of about six swimmers for Trials I was also coaching a group of Eight & under. I always enjoy that because it keeps a good perspective on what you are doing. Those 8 year olds could not care less they would go Olympic what, I just want to play; sharks and minnows.

 

First of all there is no hand out. I don’t want you to just look at some piece of paper and I’m not going to give you a formula. I don’t believe that there is any single formula for tapering. If you want the easy answer, and we are talking about tapering teenagers-age groupers especially, DON’T. That’s it, you can go. That is all you need to know. There is a lot more, but if you are looking for an easy answer then just don’t taper them.

 

This is the least talked about part of tapering. Whatever clinic you go to you will rarely hear a talk about tapering. My first talk that I heard on tapering was given by Eddie Reese, at that time he was coaching at Auburn. If  I was to list who I felt were the top ten coaches, both as coaches and individuals, Eddie would probably get listed twice in my top ten list. He is a tremendous coach and an individual. So when Eddie Reese talks on tapering, I listen. I took down notes, pages and pages of notes. I went back, I was in my first club ever, the Eastern Queens YMCA, and I had all the answers now. So I go home and Eddie says you taper six weeks, we just start six weeks out from our biggest meet. He even had the idea where you have some people that you bring them in and say “there’s the pool, now look at it but not too hard. Remember we are tapering, so I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

So I go back and tell them this is it, our big meet will be in early March, so the end of January we begin tapering. Two weeks later we go to a meet and the kids swim out of their minds. I went whoa, I’m going to be coach of the year this year-this is tremendous. A couple of kids even made their Junior cuts for the first time, and this was unshaved. Back then I wanted to control everything, so they were even still wearing nylon suits, we weren’t in our lycra meets yet and paper suits had yet to be invented. Four weeks later we get to the big meet and they shave down and put their lycra suits on. I just stood back and waited to see what was going to happen. Boy what a bad meet, we swam so slow. We swam slower than the first meet of the year, I could not believe it. But I had the answer, I knew it, I knew what we did wrong. We had not worked hard enough. So we got to the summer and I counted back. I had gone to Paul Bergens’ talk on Macro cycles and Micro cycles, still didn’t understand it but I knew you took your big meet and counted back from there, so that was what I did. I counted back six weeks.

 

We started early on our summer training, I told them we had not worked hard enough so we have to start real early so the day after Y Nationals we were back in the water and I pounded. We worked harder than I could have imagined. We start tapering six weeks out. So this time our last meet before the big meet was three weeks out instead of two weeks. We swam the same way as in the winter, hairy or as hairy as teenagers can be nylon suits still and again they swam fast. But this time I was just a little weary. I thought that this is what happened last, does history repeat itself. Well it sure does because we kept tapering and boy did we swim lousy.

 

I sat down at the end of this, completely discouraged, and I started thinking. I started realizing after a while, how many times do you get hit in the head before you decide to duck. I’m trying to taper my teenagers, a 106 pound 13 year old girls the way that Eddie was tapering 212 pound 21 year old men. And you can’t do it, it just does not work. One thing I learned this year was that 21 year old men can taper six weeks and keep getting faster. If I was to go back to club coaching, I would never ever do it.

 

Of course, and this is maybe my own little anecdote, now I had the answer. About a year later I moved on to another team in Joliet back in the early ’80’s. I had a young girl back then by the name of Lisa Rakoski. She was a very talented athlete; I like to call her a free spirit. I’m sure most of you have one of those free spirits on your team. Unfortunately we were getting to our big meet, back then it was the Schroeder AA meet in the end of January. This was the meet we were going to make all our cuts. Lisa was 12 years old, a week and a half before the meet she came down with strep. She missed an entire week of swimming. So I know that I have learned about this already, this was a girl and although she didn’t weigh only 106 pounds she was not a big girl. We had just missed a whole week of swimming so I figured that the Monday before the meet we will swim easy and get ready and we’ll just do the best we can. It was a great group of 12 & under girls back then, Michelle Griglione, Bridget Bowman, Kathy Isaacson who was the big star at that meet. So we go to the meet, we’re wearing lycra and some of the kids shaved but 12 year old girls don’t need to shave yet. She goes in and she breaks three National Age Group records. She went a :24.0 50 yard free, this is back in ’81, :53 in the 100 and :57 in the butterfly, and I go back wondering how can we be tapered we have to be over tapered. Then I went to a talk Dick Jochums’  gave and he talked about how anyone who thinks he knows all there is to know about tapering is either a liar or a fool. I know I’m not a liar although I know I can be foolish I don’t think I can be a fool. I realized that no matter what you ever know, how much you ever know, you can never know all there is to know about tapering. The individuals going to be different, the circumstances will be different, all the way through something will be different. So when you are tapering you need to look at each situation separately and that is why there is no hand out here. There is no set formula. If anything I don’t want to give you answers I want to give you the questions. I want to create the germ in your mind to grow into what you want to do, because your tapering has to be to you. When I was a club coach a year did not go by when I would have a former swimmer now in college call me up and say “all right Coach  its’

February, conference is in 3 weeks, how do I taper?” I would not have heard from them, they did not come home over Christmas; How do I taper? How do you know? There are so many things that goes into it.

 

Consideration factors: Age is a consideration. Generally I would say that as a swimmer gets older you want to taper them more. If you are tapering 12 & under right now – STOP! I’m not telling you not to rest them a little bit into the meet, but to me there is a big difference between the words taper and rest. Semantics with the way I deal with my team becomes very important. I want them to understand the words I am using. So if we are resting for the meet that is one thing. If I have a 12 & under I am going to rest them for the big meets, but you don’t want that 12 year old even if they are getting ready to make Juniors to think they should be going through the same taper that you want to taper your 18 year old with. A situation where for three weeks everything gets changed to get ready for the big meet. They need to keep working. The amount of work might change, definitely the amount of quality will change. As the athlete gets older the amount of rest will become greater. Sex has something to do with it, not having it but rather which one you are. Actually, I will go back a step. Having it does have something to do with it, or not having it. When we would hit taper time, I wouldn’t go that much in depth, I would talk to the swimmers if you are going to break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend please do it now, today. Not ten days from now. I don’t want to be standing in the middle of the taper shaking my head saying that I have done everything right, what is going on. Not knowing that you and your girl or boy friend are having a spat. You know how the teenagers are, they will go on about not being sure and allow it to linger on for a month like that, I will tell them to break up now. And you know how they all listen to us, we are gospel.

 

Generally men, and I use the word specifically of men and not boys, men will taper more. To me 13 and 14 year olds unless they are truly accelerated in maturity they will taper very similar. There will be some differentiation between it, not a lot for teenagers. You must realize that there will be some.

 

Their size, the bigger the larger the athlete the more they are going to need to rest. This all becomes related and that will come just a little bit later in the talk. The size of the athlete needs to be a factor. Even if it’s a distance swimmer, chances are that a large distance swimmer will taper more equivalent to a smaller female middle distance swimmer. While that really small female distance swimmer might begin tapering when she gets on the plane to go to the meet.


Training, now this is where it becomes crucial and this is where even in our own way of doing things we need to realize. The more anaerobic your training is, the more lactate production that occurs during your training, the longer you will need to taper. The more aerobic the less you will need to taper.

 

Duration of the season; when I was coaching in New York were my teams were not as heavily involved  in H.S. and we never tapered for High School back then, we would train from September through to the end of March [if we already have our cuts] I know that I will need a longer taper. When I moved down to Florida, the H.S. season is in the fall and this is a big meet and everyone is tapered and swims fast in it, we would start in September and the H.S. meet is the end of November. I’ve had two and a half to three months instead of eight months and I have to realize that the length of the taper will be different.

 

Drylands; strength training, I am not a big proponent for heavy weights for teenagers. However, the heavier the weights, the more the weights, the more you go to exhaustion in the weight room the more you will need to taper. Commensurately, the less you do the less you will need to taper.

 

The amounts, the number of practices, the amount of yardage, the amount of time per practice. If you are going eleven practices per week and another time you go only six practices per week that will change how much you will taper. If you are pushing 100,000 yards a week or 50,000 per week this will make a difference. Of course, the more you do the more you will taper.

 

I’m not trying to hawk one individual’s product, I do use Hytek, it is a great tool because now with the new edition you can not only get the total yardage for your team and you can do it by their groups but now you can do it by individual swimmers. You can keep track as to how much each person has done and then determine off of that how much you want to taper.

 

Next is the reason for tapering. Is this the big meet in the middle of the season? A lot of us have that, one for me was the Schroeder AA meet when I was in Joliet. Are you tapering for cuts, personally I don’t want to make my cuts and then go to nationals three weeks later and swim slow. I want to be at least as fast as we were. So this is where these terms come in, the difference of tapering and resting. When I’m resting mid-season for the big meet, or whether I am tapering at the end of the season for nationals. And then there is also the need to realize the fact that we are dealing with teenagers. When I am tapering someone for Olympic Trials and they are 23 years old and this is one of their last two meets of their career, then I’m coming all the way down and leaving nothing to chance. When I am tapering an athlete for spring Juniors and they are only 14 years old and they are not even mid-way through their career, I’m going to realize that this one meet is only one stepping stone. If we taper three times a year, every single year, hard core types of taper, eventually the progress slows, stops and then goes backwards. So you have to start tapering a little bit less, with the idea that each one such as spring Nationals is a stepping stone to summer Nationals. You don’t want to all over from scratch again.

 

The type of meet that you are tapering for. I’m tapering for a High School meet, three events in one day. Only two swimmers swimming the 500 and no one else racing over a 200. We would come all the way down for that. I’m tapering for the USS state meet, the marathon meet. They are supposed to be tapered and they are expected to go 21 events in three days. How much are you going to taper that person. Actually, the meet itself should be a taper, the athletes should be getting stronger all the way through. Then there is Nationals where you might be tapering for four events over five days; which events? which days? I have heard people who I greatly respect, and I am not denying what they said, they tell me that you cannot taper for the 800 meter freestyle and swim the 1500 well five days later. So you have to decide which one of those two you would taper for, then let everything else sort of fall in place.

 

This is where we will all get confused. We know that it will be different if you are training long course versus short course. What about training long course to compete short course, training short course to compete long course, all these will affect what you do. Basically I will taper more to swim short course than long course. For all of you who have stood at the side of the pool, at the 75 or l75 mark and could see the swimmers head pick up in long course with the look of isn’t there supposed  to be a damn wall around here somewhere, you know what I am talking about. Corning home in the races long, course becomes a much greater priority than short course. In short course you might be more willing to send them out fast, to hold on and use that last wall. Same situation if I have been training long course to compete short course I might taper more, but If I have been training short course to swim a long course meet I will taper less than if I was training long course to swim a long course meet. The reason is that it is harder, 60,000 meters versus yards, the 60,000 meters has put more tax on the body. So if I trained long course to compete long course I will taper more than if I trained short course.

 

One thing I want to throw in here to support something that Denny Pursley has talked about, when you are done tapering don’t take a week off. Come back to work for a week or two of good training. Get them back up, back into the flow, then take your break. Right now we go and rest one, two or three weeks-colleges five, six or seven weeks, into the big meet then we first take two weeks off. Now you are anywhere from a month and a half to two and a half to three months since hard training. The swimmers are so detrained they are not even starting at point zero, but rather at minus four. Especially if you are going from the short course season into a shorter long course season, then you don’t want them to become that detrained. You don’t have enough time to come back up and go back down.

 

A little more into the nitty gritty of it all. First of all I generally look at a three week taper. The first week is called pre-taper and I explain that to the swimmers. These are just things that I have developed or understood or liked. Never introduce anything new in the final three weeks. Don’t try to teach them that great new start that you learned at a clinic in those final three weeks. The last three weeks is not the time to start sprinting your athletes to give them speed, or teaching them how to do broken swims.

 

We go through a gradual decrease in yardage. Three weeks out, this is almost universal of any meet I would be going after, we are still working hard but I am not trying to break them down so that they cannot recover within a day. We will develop more things that will create race rehearsal. We would get on the side of the pool and I will tell them to go single heats to go a 200 swim in their stroke, not for speed but for race. We will give the race prep, naming them off by lanes through a simulated start. They will get real excited, even I get  excited.

 

Introduce special team taper traditions. I didn’t do this a lot when I was first in Joliet but one of the things we did a few times, there was a film once made by the YMCA. We would be tapering as a group for Y Nationals, the film showed Y Nationals. In Joliet there would be snow on the ground and minus 2 degrees and here is everyone in T shirts, tan, the sun, there were also some scenes in there with our team or banner pictured. This would get them excited and I felt we were ready. Then I really got into this when I got down to Sarasota. In the winter we would go down to the beach three weeks out and build our sand shark. This was a big deal, the entire team would come down and the parents would make a breakfast. A 30 foot sand sculpture of a shark, we would  paint it and build a rim around it. I always thought we should put up a sign and ask for donations, but we never did that. It was really something, kids would come in to get their picture taken with the sand shark. The other thing we did down there was tanning time. At the beginning of practice for 20 minutes, tanning time, that was our team tapering tradition. I don’t know how many of you know the Sarasota swimmers or girls especially, they are known for being tan and infamous for hiking up their suits higher than anyone in the meet so of course they would have to wear their regular beach suits so they didn’t have awful tan lines when they would get to the meet. It is really good to have some type of team tradition so that when you start doing this the swimmers know they are at taper time. Even if they don’t come down a lot in work it is in their minds that they are getting ready.

 

In terms of the work, this next part delineates it a little bit more, in terms of the work we will come down very gradually. For a big meet I like to do more of a gradual rest. For the mid-season meet if I am trying to get a swim from someone I will go more for a drop taper. Three days or four days with nothing hard. I find the success with that a little less consistent. So I have always enjoyed the gradual resting better. One to two weeks out, and I am using one to two because there are some swimmers where they are so young you are only looking at a one week taper. Somewhere in the one to two week out we are looking to the decreasing both the quality and the quantity of work. We will do pace work, and if it is two weeks out we will do a lot more than if we were in a one week situation. I will do a lot of drill, go back to the basics of the teaching progression we had done in the beginning. I won’t take a swimmer and breakdown their stroke two weeks out and tell them something like “I can’t believe your entering your hand like that”. Everything has to be positive on what you are telling your swimmers. We will go back because my belief is that if I’ve taught them the drills well enough and the drills in the first place taught them to do the strokes well, then this will help them regain whatever little finesse they might have lost in that stroke. By the way, I believe I first heard this from Dick Jochums, a swimmer comes up to you in the middle of taper and says “I feel great coach” you say “alright, we’re one week out and that is exactly how you are supposed to feel.” The next swimmer comes up and says “Coach, I have never felt this bad” the coach says ” alright you are right where you’re supposed to be, if you really felt great I would be worried.” Now of course you are shaking your head, and I always remember this because Dick talked about how your standing there shaking your head saying “what am doing” and getting tense. Then you go home and yell at the dog and kick your wife. Personally I always wondered what I would do, I generally lived alone, with a roommate, it was my Age Group coach Sherwood Watts who was 6’3″ and 200 lbs., who am I going to kick. Well when I got married my wife had a second degree black belt in karate and while she is not that big, I am still in the same boat. Anyway, when you are talking to the athlete everything has to be positive.

 

Personally I am at a point where I abhor the idea that you have to feel great. Some of my athlete’s greatest swims have come from the athletes who went through the taper feeling lousy. As they are growing, at 16 years old they are not the same as they were at 14 years, we all try to change our training a little each season, so their feeling is going to be a little different each time. I am not saying not to listen to your athletes, definitely do that. Definitely try to learn and judge and use that TLC that you know better, no one will know your athletes as well as you. Whenever I have received new athletes because a family moves and the athlete joins my club, invariably more than feeling great the athlete will complain about feeling lousy, and they will usually tell me that they always felt great. I will always ask them how they swam after they tapered, you would be surprised at how often they would look at you and say “actually I didn’t do my best”. You just look at the athlete at tell them “see, you shouldn’t be feeling great”. Most important is that you have to keep everything positive.

 

My favorite work to do during taper time is working on tempo and distance per stroke. Again this is not original, actually I got this from a swimmer who is now a coach who learned this from his college coach back then. What we work on is a series doing it by working drills, then tempo, then what I call DPS or distance per stroke and then SYNC for synchronization. You are synchronizing the tempo and the distance per stroke to try and attain the feeling of your race stroke. I have a myriad of ways to put these drills together, and I will differentiate this between sprinters and distance swimmers. I will do this by 25’s, 25 yards stroke drill, 25yd. DPS, 25 yd. tempo, 25 yd. sync., 25 yd. swim. That equals 100 yards, and we will do this maybe taking 10 seconds at each wall. We will do sets of 50’s where we go drill down tempo back, drill down DPS back, and then one or two 50′ s synchronized. My middle distance would go a set of 12 x 50 where they would go one 50 synchronized and the IM’rs would go one set in each stroke. The distance swimmers would swim 16 x 50 and go two 50’s synchronized. The sprinters would be doing the 25’s on the side, they would be looking at the water hard, but not too hard. We will work more at this point, two weeks out, on turns and finishes. Mostly to work the little kinks and to keep them remembering how to finish hard. I do believe that these are things you have to work on during the season. I don’t believe you learn how to do a turn jumping off the bottom seven yards away from the wall. You learn how to do it, you don’t learn how to do it off the seventh wall that way. You have to do it off the seventh wall in the seventh 200 during practice, then you have learned how to do the turn. There is nothing wrong in working with it, the athletes come to expect it – that’s part of their knowledge of when they are tapering because they are working on turns and finishes.

 

One week out, we will work pace work and I insist that all the distance and middle distance do their entire pace work even splitting. I will always try to develop an idea of where I feel they should be in their pace and then I will add 2 seconds to it. I want this girl to break 5 minutes in the 500 and that’s holding better than minutes. So I want her to be somewhere around that minute mark and I know that she could do that right now on a set of 5 x 100 on the 1:20. So I will tell her to hold around 1:02’s, she will be even splitting minutes and feeling great and I know that she is doing what I want but to her she has achieved a little more and will believe in herself just a little more. I feel you always give them the correct times, I don’t believe in lying to the athletes when they are coming in, when they come in and it is 10.0 again you don’t tell them 9.9. We will do nothing broken in the last week, nothing. I have too often had coaches come over on the deck and say to me to watch this kid, we did three broken 100’s in the last two days and they were :47 butterfly every single time. This is a 13 year old girl, I’ II sit there and say to myself that this is one person I don’t have to worry about. Because she just left all of her best swims in preparation for the meet. This talk is not about warm up, I will not talk about leaving your best swims in warm up. No broken swims, now I am talking about all out efforts. If you are going to do a 200, with 10 seconds at each 50, trying to work a feel to the race. Or even on 15 seconds rest trying to get your race pace, you want the girl to be a sub 2 minute freestyler so you want her to hold :29.8 on 15 seconds rest, that would be fine. But if you are pushing her to go a l :54 broken one week out, she will leave her best swims there.

 

I will work to refine in the strokes the little things, unless I see something really wrong that must be corrected. I will be on the side, such as on backstrokers telling them to get their thumbs over or get the finish of the stroke. The little things that they can do without any trouble. Also turns and finishes, we will refine them, not spend time on them. Don’t go in, one week out, and say let’s learn how to do starts and then work a half hour  on them. You should just work a few of them. If you want to ]earn relay exchanges, do that mid-season. Don’t be out there for an hour working exchanges for an hour two days before the meet.

 

Now we will get even more in depth. I am giving you a general over view of how I see it in terms of the actual break down. It will change a little bit every season, according to what I am doing. This is for a club team. One thing is that I rest everyone together, and this would be explained to them in other talks. I explain at the beginning and mid-season, as well as prior to the taper and once or twice during the taper. I try to taper the club team individually between sprinters, middle distance and distance. It is nothing major, as I will show you, but it is just enough of a difference for the athlete physically and more importantly every one becomes convinced that you are resting them at what is best for them. If you are resting them the same and in the meet you will swim four swimmers in the 50 and three swimmers in the 1650 and everyone is resting the same we all realize that one group will click and the other group will be either over or under rested. But more important again is what their mental attitude is.

 

So, three weeks out distance swimmers are going doubles. Figuring that one double days they were going about 12-15,000 yards, I would maintain 12-15,000. On single days 8- I 0,000. I would decrease at that point how much quality they are going, so that they are recovering from practice to practice. They should still feel tired at the end of practice, and the sets should be designed to create as much work as you can without breaking them down so that they cannot recover. Two weeks out, we will be down to 10-12,000. It is not that we would go 12,000 the first double day and then 10,000 the next. We might go 10 on Monday, 11 on Wednesday and still go 12 on Friday. All season long I work with computers and have them all written out. Even before I had a computer I loved working with paper practices, the athletes learn to hate them but I love them. I enjoy it being structured so I can do different things, I am not the kind of coach who can keep 6 different things going in my head at one time. I know my limitations so I tried to work around it. At taper time I am not saying I shoot from my hip, I come in knowing what I want to accomplish but I do it more by what is going on at that moment. If I see the swimmers are really tired, then I need to change what we are doing. But there will be 10-12 on double days and 7-8 on single days. One week out we will be going about 10,000 on double and 6,000 on single days. Remember how much they are going to warm up, race, and warm down in the course of their meets. This is going to vary if the swimmer is getting ready for a 500 at a HS meet that would be totally different. I am looking more at teenagers going to a Nationals or State Championship were they are not swimming 21 times, although if they are going to a meet like that maybe the entire team needs to rest this way. I am thinking that I am trying to get the swimmer ready for the 1650.

 

Middle distance; if they are training 12,000 and above, three weeks out they are going 10-12 on double days and 6,000 on single. Two weeks out 8-10, on single practices about 5,000 and one week out about 6,000 on double and 4,000 on single. If they are going to warm up about 2,000 to get ready for the race, swim the 500 and then loosen down about 1,000 that is 3,500. That is with nothing else in between or before, or your decision that they went out to fast and they have to loosen down even more because they tied up at the end and have to swim finals at night.

 

Sprinters; I am talking about teenage club swimmers. Sprinters who will go the 50, l 00 probably the 200 and also the relays. Not college sprinters who swim the 50 and then ask for the lap counters for the 100. Double days they are still going 7-9,000. Remember that is only a 4 and 5,000 practice maybe in 75 to 90 minutes. Single days going about 4,000. Two weeks out between 5-7000 on the double, single about 3,000. One week out about 5,000 and 2,500 for the single. To me a sprinter is someone who swims the 50 as a main event. That is how I determine their group, I try to determine what their main event is. A distance swimmer is someone who swims the mile as their main event. In my six lane pool, lane one is my sprinters, lane six the distance swimmers and everything else is middle distance.

 

Question: You don’t drop the double practices? Answer: If I am going to a trial and final meet I rarely will drop the doubles. If! am going to a one swim only, which has not happened that often, but when it has I will drop the doubles one week out.

 

The weights generally three weeks out we are still lifting. Again, I never take them to lift very hard as teenagers, so we are doing the weights moderately. They are working but not going to the point of exhaustion. Two weeks out we would do light type of work. One week out the girls and young boys are still doing something in the weight room. We will decrease the number of exercises, we will decrease the number of repetitions, we will decrease the amount of weight but they are still in the weight room. From the studies I have read in the past, and some of this is older, but my knowledge is that within 48 hours we start losing strength in girls. So I don’t want to spend 7 – 8 days off of weights. I have

 

done that and what I have seen is that I start losing strength and power and we start having athletes tell me that they feel weak. That is one of the things that scare me, if the athletes feels their breaststroke is off I can correct that, but two days out they feel weak what am I to do. So we do what I call it “light weights”. The bigger boys are doing nothing, especially if they are sprinters and middle distance. If you are going to a Friday, Saturday and Sunday meet, then Monday of that week would be their last weight session. Very light, maybe three upper body or three lower body or really one upper body, sit-ups, lower back and two lower body and that is all they do. Done in twenty minutes and that is only because they take ten minutes to talk between every exercise.

 

Typical type of one of these practices; you do their warm up similar to how you want them to warm up at the meet. Nothing wrong with spending two to three weeks getting them used to how you want them to warm up at the meet. When I am warming up, middle distance and distance swimmers would go a 300 swim, 200 kick, 300 pull, 200 drill; that is a 1.000. The sprinters I would give a variation of 200 swim, 150 kick, 200 pull, 150 drill. Usually the sprinters will take more time than the distance swimmers to do that. Then we would go our pull set, we will go 8 reps and the sprinters will go 75’s, 100’s for the middle distance and 125’s for the distance swimmers and everyone goes on the I:30. This way everyone is going together, we are just varying the distances. When I am pulling in taper I will allow the athletes to wear what they are most comfortable with, in season if it is a paddle-buoy-strap set then everyone wears it. If we are pulling in taper with paddles and someone really does not want to wear them, they don’t have to. Then a kick set, middle distance and distance might go 10 x 50’s on 1:00, sprinters might go 8 x 50’s on 1:10. Everything is descending, and something like this I might say to descend about 85% effort, not hard. The kids learn the difference between hard and fast, those are different words to me. Then we will do a drill set similar to what I have explained to you. Maybe 16 x 50 on 1:10 gong drill-DPS, drill-tempo, then two synchronization for the distance group. Middle distance goes 12 x 50’s x 1:20 and sprinters might do the same or might have a slightly different set. Then we get to the main body of the day or that practice. Distance swimmers might go 7 x 100 on 1:20 to work pace that means they have to even split these. They will be working pace on the odd and the even are easy, just make the sendoff. Something I enjoy long course more is going an 800 with all the even 100’s at pace. When I say pace I will tell them I want them to work their pace they don’t have to be at race pace. A lot of times I will give them  heart rates to work at, tell them to be at 140. I want to know they are working and yet not hurting themselves. Middle distance would possibly do a set going 3 x 50 x 1:00, again they are racing their race stroke on that. They want to feel the stroke they will want to feel in the meet. I will check their tempo, I want the backstrokers at 1.2 or 1.3 if that would be their meet tempo. Then they would go a 100 easy, then 2 x 50 x I:30 and here I might tell them to work race pace. If this would be a girl breaststroker who wants to go 1:08 then I want her to go :34’s. We will then go a 100 easy then a 50 from a dive and feel like you are going out to that 100 breaststroke or a 200 butterfly. We will time it, but I will tell them we are not looking for them to be as fast as they should be in a meet. Mainly because we are not at the meet, we are not fully tapered or shaved and they might be wearing two bathing suits. They might be faster, don’t worry about that at that point. Don’t tell them that it was not fast enough and they have to do it again. If you feel you are not getting out of that practice what you wanted, work it into the next practice what you want to get.

 

Sprinters might go a set, this is someone trying to go a Junior or Senior National 50 free time, we will go 2 x 50’s either with paddles or with fins. I like them feeling fast, this year I watched a lot of swimmers work with sprint assisted swims. Jim Steen is developing a machine that would give you an even pace drawing the swimmer in, even from as far away as 50 meters. I am real interested in seeing that when it is perfected. We did a lot of swimming in on surgical tubing, they would walk themselves down tied to the tubing. They would carry a kick board as they walked, against their butt. I did not understand until they told me how many times they had broken and people would get smacked in the butt. Another problem was when some of the smaller girls would jump in tied to the cords, the cords had been shortened over the years since they have been breaking, a few times they would jump in and not grab onto the wall. They would have to climb out and try again. This would be a real job for them, but when they do swim back they would be sprint assisted and feel speed. Nothing sprinters like more than feeling speed. A true distance swimmer thrives on hearing that same time five times in a row, but the sprinters need to feel speed. I find that with paddles and fins also. If they are wearing fins, however, I don’t want them to do flips. I will do mainly 25′ s if we are in a short course pool. I tell them I want it fast but not hard, It might take them a while, but they realize there is a difference. Then we would go a 100 easy, and then 2 x 25’s from a start working a race pace to their feet. If it is a girl who wants to go :23.9, and that means she would have to flip at 11.1 feet on the wall. Knowing that I don’t start the same way the clock starts, I usually start when they take off, I want them around 11.3 or 11.2 or even 11.1 at their feet. I might let them go a little bit harder in the sense of hard not just fast.

 

This whole thing together, before our little loosen down at the end. the distance swimmers would have gone 4,100, the middle distance 3.400 and the sprinters would have gone 2,500. For the bulk of the practice they would have worked together and that is what I like. I want them to be a team. In all my years as a club coach, very little of that time was spent with a senior assistant coach. I was the coach, 40 kids. you really have to coordinate to have it work well and come together. I would use this kind of concept, or a variation off of this. I would usually make on a Tuesday my next two days practices, but then after Wednesday morning, see what I wanted to do and maybe change some of it. The question was asked about keeping up doubles, a lot of that differs as to where  I am at. Some places I have been too I can work a 6:30 morning practice which is not as bad as places where I would need to run a 5:00am practice. If it is 5:00 I might start cutting them out. I also might cut down on the time, I would begin by starting later and also at the upper end. That is the basic of how I view and work with it.

 

One other thing is that I do use a percentage to judge the success of the taper. In a club situation I would shoot for a minimum of 80% if not best time then 80% of the swimmers going a best time, but my goal more were 80% best times. Less than that and I spend nights trying to search out why. Unlike some elite coaches that have surprised me in their attitude that it is always the athlete, I really believe that it is us. You might have an athlete who have made the wrong choices or has been sick all year, which is not your fault. I will start off looking within myself at what I did. Not that I am a bad person, but that I was a bad coach because we did not swim fast enough. Below 80% and I question it, above 90% I give myself a present. In 1980 I was at Eastern Queens, a four lane pool with an hour and a half a day, I got my first Olympic Trial qualifier in one of the best meets we ever had-everyone swam fast. I went out, I needed one anyway, but I bought a car. I recommend that, I got that out of a talk I once attended at a clinic in Chicago. People, pat yourself on the back. Set goals and if you reach those goals give yourself a gift, take vacations some gift or present.

Questions: What can you do if you have tapered for a High School Championship and then want to taper again for a YMCA National?

 

Answer: That relates to what Stu Isaac said last night about w hat we say to ourselves. I believe that I train my swimmers well enough that we can taper twice. If I am going to blow it, it will probably be both times, not just once. That comes back to the difference in semantics, we will rest for the High School and then taper for the final meet. Not because I would decide that the YMCA was more important, but you have to decide which one is your big meet. You just reminded me that I never believe in ending your season on a slow note. If the High School is your primary meet and you want to go to Florida for a vacation, go for the vacation and not to the meet to swim slow. I go along with the adage “you are only as good as your last swim” and !just don’t believe in ending the season on a slow note. So my entire taper for the High School meet was for one week and then Monday morning we are right back in hard work. You would build your mini season for four weeks into that next championship.

 

 

I am always learning in tapering. that is one small part of it. The day I know everything that I need to about tapering I will get out of coaching because my years of coaching well are over at that point.

 

 

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Teaching Backstroke by Ira Klein (1994)       

Teaching Backstroke by Ira Klein (1994)          

Coach Klein is currently the Assistant Men’s and Women’s Swimming Coach at Auburn University. Previous to this position, Coach Klein spent 18 years coaching clubs around the country. He was the Assistant Women’s Coach at the 1994 Goodwill Games, the Head Coach for the North Team at the 1994 Olympic Festival and an Assistant Coach at the 1991 Olympic Festival. In 1988 Coach Klein was named the YMCA National Coach of the Year. Ira served two terms 011 the ASCA Board of Directors as well as being a Past President and founder of the YMCA Swim Coaches Association.

 

We will be talking today about backstroke, It is indeed an honor to be speaking here at the World Coaches Clinic. I hope I can impart just a little of what I have received from talks that I have attended, the talk today is supposed to be on backstroke, and it will be. When I first talked with John about giving this talk, we talked about speaking on backstroke. Then I looked later and saw it written up as backstroke for age groupers then as I walked in I saw the sign said backstroke for young swimmers. When I work with backstroke, I have a conceptual idea of what I want to do with it. It does not matter whether I am working with 12 & under, either national record holders or C swimmers or the swimmers I have coached at the Olympic Trials or here at Auburn University, Backstroke is backstroke, I don’t believe it will change because the swimmer has gotten older or because they are younger. I am not claiming originality of ideas. Everything I try to do or use most of it I have stolen from someone else. It is the way I try to visualize it or put it together myself. The reason I have done a little more in backstroke goes back to my beginning at the Eastern Queens YMCA, we had four lanes and 80 minutes per night in the pool. We would give one lane to the age group program and three lanes to the senior program. We did not have a lot of room, and since I liked having the swimmers see me as much as possible back then I would just train them on their backs. That way I could always see them and they could see me on the end of the board directing them.

 

We are starting off with, and if you did not get a handout you can still follow along, the first thing is to explain to the athlete a break down in the stroke, Now I will go more in depth here, but I do want the athlete to understand what we will be looking for. As I give them corrections it is not just words like do this, but I can tell them I want you to do this and they understand why I want it done.

 

The first thing we work on when we break down the stroke is body position. The feet, head and hips – everything must be in alignment. Most of this will be worked on originally doing 25’s and kicking drills. Eventually the actual position we will want will change slightly, but we start off working with the position in a straight line flat, wanting the toes and the hip bone at the surface. Most of our kicking is with the hands over the head, normal position. When we are doing the kicking we are talking about pushing the hip bone past the surface. Novice and your weaker backstrokers will have a tendency to sit down, in the position with the butt and hips dropping. You have to push past that, have them push their head back, this is one area where I will look more at what is best for the individual, and I like my backstrokers swimming with a higher head and shoulder position. However, if I have a swimmer sitting down in the water, breaking the hips, then I will have them push the hips back up and the head back slightly. I do feel that having the hips up are more important than having the head up. Now if I can get them to bring that lower back into the upper back and get them to rise up, hold the shoulders higher and the head a little higher; that is my ultimate goal. But if those hips are dropping the head and shoulders go back §O that hip bone comes back up to the surface.

 

In the kick, we work for a very steady and shallow kick, I will tell the kids to boil the water. I will want to see those bubble trailing behind, this is the idea of kicking with the hands up over your head or down at your side. I have worked more in the hands up position, when I tried having them put the hands down they started having the tendency to sit down again in the water. I want them to keep working the body position, so most of the kicking unless it is in a specific drill is done with the arms over the head. If the hands are down in the position by the hips, then they would be mostly working for sculling the hands at the end of their stroke and still working the kicking. And if we want, to work for rotation of the hips and shoulder. So if their arms are down I am going to talk to them about rotating the body. If their arms are up I don’t want them to try to rotate because from that position you cannot rotate easily without dropping something improperly. So if they are up above they will stay still, hips up and boil those feet in front of you. Even if I am working with the college athlete, it might not be that simplistic but it is still the same goal in what I will look for them to do.

 

The band entry, I believe that within our strokes we need to have a vision and work within that and realize each athlete is different. Pinky entry is one of the few things I don’t believe you can do differently and still truly succeed in backstroke. You can all go and see swimmers get to Nationals and swim where their thumb slaps back and they are slapping the water. Every time I have to listen to that my shoulders inch up and I cringe at it. But they are slapping at the water and some people actually come the entire way back, thumb first. There was even a backstroker, by the name of Tom Szuba, years ago in the early 70’s. He swam backstroke entering with the shoulder and elbow at right angle. But you want the arm straight up, pinky must go in first. If you come in with the thumb back and the back of your hand lying down, what will happen is they have entered the water with the palm up and you first have to turn the hand to get into position to hold the water. This is time they don’t need to waste. If they are doing this they are changing some other part of their stroke so they are not swimming catch up backstroke which they sometimes wind up doing. I generally tell them that if they are having a problem it usually is coming from the very end. What happens is they are trying to accelerate in and they think that throwing the thumb back is acceleration. The other problem is that once the thumb is back and the palm is up they have cut down on the amount of rotation and drive from the shoulder that they can get. From the pinky down position you can drive deeper into the water than you can with the palm facing up. The next thing is that upon entry they must have a deep catch. The entry is straight up from the shoulder. Sometimes I will go slightly in from the shoulder, but I don’t want the entry near the head. I want them both straight up from the shoulder.

 

In the stroke pattern you work a bent arm stroke. Once they have entered, they have entered the water behind them, they grab the water and bring it through and their elbows bend. I tell them to point the elbows down, I want it pointing to the bottom of the pool, and I want you to rotate over the elbow so it comes up and over as the hands moving outside the body. You don’t want them to come inside; it is not a straight pull down. It is really a rotation over and through to the side. So they have entered deep and I get them to go deep on that catch and it actually grabs the water and comes slightly up and they are actually working a pattern going up and down on it. The elbow has to rotate so you are getting the entire arm into it, the lats and the back and all the other muscles, no different than in freestyle. I will explain this to them. The best freestylers will swim their stroke getting their elbow up, the same thing we want them to do in backstroke only upside down.

 

The rotation is coming over but the stroke must be constant. The big problem here, I talk about band acceleration. Two concepts I try to get through is hip rotation and hand acceleration. But as they try to accelerate very often they are accelerating and they turn that thumb back again, after entry and they start slipping through the water. In the middle of the stroke you watch them moving through the water they are trying to recapture their hold upon the water. I call it slip – sliding away, I start thinking about Paul Simons song as I start talking to them. You don’t want to slip-slide through the water; you want to hold onto it. At that point if they are having this problem, I will slow them down. I will tell them that I don’t want them to accelerate the stroke and I will put a paddle on just one hand so they are only thinking about that one hand. We will work on grabbing that water and moving it through all the way to the bottom holding onto the water the entire length. Normally I will tell them that they need to bring their thumb up, because the reason they are slipping is because their thumb is coming back and the pinky starts leading through.

 

The acceleration must be constant. If you have not read Dr. Counsilman’s’ paper from about 16 years ago on Hand Speed Acceleration, go back to an old clinic year book because this article is a must. Hand speed acceleration, the hand gets faster from the front to the back at a constant rate. They can’t slowdown in the middle and then speed up; they will be just like a wheel on ice. The idea is that you do not want loosing that feel of the water. Acceleration starts off slow and gets faster all the way through the stroke to the very end.

 

The stroke must be symmetrical. Both arms have to do the same thing in the stroke. Film the swimmers under water and you will find more than half the swimmers, regardless of anything else of what is right or wrong in the stroke, are doing one thing with their left arm and something different with their right. Right arm stays in and left arm goes out; left arm finishes outside and the right arm at the thigh. It must be symmetrical, so you need to develop the concept of where you want the stroke to be and then work to get both arms the same.

 

Stroke tempo, I work more with backstroke on this and probably the distance freestylers, although at Auburn we do this with all the athletes. We talk to them about the tempo of the strokes, I have done this all different ways, using the watches that determine the tempo on 1, 2 or 3 stroke cycles giving you the number of strokes per minute, but with backstrokers I have found it easier using the time frame for one stroke cycle. If you look at the top eight swimmers in an event as the 200 meter backstroke, they are maintaining a cycle somewhere between 1.15 seconds and  l.30 seconds for the entire 200. The difference will be that as they get to the end of the race their tempo will get faster not slower. For some reason backstrokers will train comparatively at a slower tempo and will have a hard time picking up the tempo in their race and hold that tempo through their race. That is something that we work on to go along in the season, learn to use a better tempo and to hold it longer.

 

Hand sculling, the top and the bottom of the stroke is essentially a scull. You enter here and go to grab the water and you actually scull, you are not pushing out or pulling in any sense. This is all a scull. At the bottom when you are getting towards the end, you are not pushing through or down you are sculling the water at the end of the stroke. I will in all different fashions do things to work the sculls at both ends at the same time, down at the bottom, up on top – feet out front trying to push you forward just sculling. When your swimmers can start really moving fast down the pool, both hands up on top with feet forward, when they start swimming backstroke that grab on top and the scull will be much more effective.

 

The finish and exit of the stroke, I have been a very big proponent over the years that the stroke must finish at the thigh just at the bottom of the leg. I spent some time at Colorado Springs going over films with Jane Cappaert who is the acting Administrative Head, and in the films both Zubero and Carey characteristically finish their strokes away from their body and then scull the hand to the exit. Sculling in a way so they are getting momentum and propulsion out of this motion. Now that is Zubero and Carey, Jane agreed with me that it would be improper to try to teach young people or any one unless it comes natural. I am not saying you can’t, because I have not tried it and if you do it please let me know about it. Right now, in our strokes we try to finish the hand at the end, getting right to the thigh. If we are having a problem with it I will tell them to touch the bottom of the thigh with their thumb. More for young swimmers or even some of the college IM’rs that I worked with, they were having a problem with backstroke and getting it in and accelerating to the end, I talk to them about throwing a fast ball. When a pitcher throws a fast ball he follows all the way through, accelerating and then just releases it. Now the body follows through, but the pitcher doesn’t take the ball and hold onto it so that he throws it down. I try to relate this over to the water, accelerating through bringing it to the thigh and release it there. When you come out of the water I prefer thumb first exit, I will accept pinky first if they finish the thumb down and come up pinky leading by the thigh. I will tell them to finish and exit thumb first so that they will not finish below the thigh and then push the entire hand against the water. Besides the energy they don’t need to waste, if they are doing this they will be pushing the shoulder down and I want the shoulder up. So on the finish we talk about getting down to the end, come up thumb first and as you are recovering by the time you are at 45 degrees [arm to the body] I want it to be pinky first, then we are back to the entry where I want the pinky entry. If they are having a problem with the thumb coming back on the entry I have a drill where I tell them I want them to put the palm on the water first. I want you to put your hand so far around that the palm touches first. The first time you do this with your athletes they will actually enter at the put angle for a correct entry. You will have to explain that the palm is pushed away from the body with the thumb actually pushing to the outside of the hand upon entry. You can tell them to go wide of the body, and then continue to get them to push the thumb away. Even as you work this, as your athletes continue to work towards a picture perfect entry they will still swear that they are entering wide with the palm on the water first. The problem is that while I am happy to see them swim the backstroke correctly, as long as they believe that this is their drill of over exaggeration they are still not going to learn the stroke. I will stay on them until they are able to do the drill the way it is intended, with the palm touching first. We will do things like three right arm strokes and then three left arm strokes and then three cycles, working to be perfect. This will not happen the first or second time you try to teach it to the group, but then one or two will get it and then entire group will begin to understand it. But again, this is done as a drill so that I can eventually get the pinky in first with the arm straight up from the shoulder without the thumb slapping back or the hand slipping through the water.

 

In the arm recovery we work for a straight arm recovery. I want them to reach through this phase, I have had athletes who try to pull the arm in from both the elbow  and the shoulder. I will tell there is this pot of gold just out of reach, but reach the best you can for it. From the shoulder has to be held high out of the water as long as they can. When they are recovering you don’t want them to be flat like a barge against the water, you want the arm up high with the shoulder out of the water, the hip is rotated up and the arm is recovering over. One of the key things here, as you watch better backstrokers, is how long the shoulder stays up. The better backstrokers keep that shoulder up longer throughout recovery. Even while their hand and arm is recovering past the 45 degree mark, they have not flattened out the body yet. This is not only going to give them a more streamlined body in the water, but as they are finishing the opposite arm it gives them a better torque from the hip rotation as they finish. In explaining torque I will change how in depth from the basic concept of hip rotation since a ten year old will grasp one level and a 20 year old more.

 

When I start working with them I won’t go as deep about the understanding of the stroke as I have just done. I will go into the pinky entry, arm straight up and according to what I am trying to convey to them will have a lot to do with their age and ability. We talk a lot about stroke count and even more about stroke rate. The one thing that I do, that will get the most out of each backstroker, is stroke tempo. As I force them to improve their stroke tempo, they improve tremendously. If you start timing your swimmers you will see that they swim at a 1.8 or higher stroke tempo per cycle. That is too slow, they cannot succeed at that speed and they have to get that time down. If Jeff Rouse who stands about 6′ 2″ or 6′ 3″, if he can swim at the end of his race at a tempo of  1.0 something then our little 5′ 2″ girls can definitely swim at 1.2.

 

Sculling drills, I have developed a big interest in sculling and the way the hand moves through the water.  I explained a little bit about it where you start off sculling your hand both at the bottom and the top of the stroke. This is about where you are at as you are finishing each arm stroke. We do a sculling drill that I also use for body positioning, the first time they go down the lap the arms are at the side just sculling down. The next lap I tell the athletes to pick up their heads a little bit, as it progresses through I will have them over kicking, sitting up, sculling and holding their shoulders up with their backs completely out of the water. However, their hips still must be up at the surface. It is not a matter of getting the shoulders and head up by sitting down but rather keeping the hips at the surface and bringing the upper body to a more upright position. Then I will tell them to relax their position back and invariably you will see that they never go all the way back to where they were.  We can work this as 25’s as a progression of three or four and you can build this into drills or into swim sets you might be working on. In body positioning the head must remain still as they are swimming, not moving back and forth. To teach a college swimmer who moves their head around to change is a little harder since most of the games or gimmicks which I know seem a little childish. With the age groupers you can take their goggles and put them on their head and to swim down and not lose the goggles. They can put some water in them as they sit on the head and they have to still have that water in it when they get to the end. With real little kids I used to play by putting a penny on it and tell them that if they get to the end and the penny is still there they get to keep it, but a penny doesn’t motivate 8 year old any more. The shoulder lift, the shoulder must come up, we will do drills where they scull down at the top of the stroke and they will lift their hip and the shoulder out of the water and have to pull down the pool and then they will switch sides. The idea is to learn how to hold the hip and shoulder up longer through the stroke and recovery. The longer they will hold the hip in position and the shoulder up the more force they will get at the very end when they want the torque and the speed at the end of the stroke. Most of your young backstrokers will swim the stroke flat, the body will never move, it is just a barge going through the water. This is a very difficult drill to do, it is very difficult to scull and hold the body up. When we first starting working on it we did this with fins on, to give that little extra propulsion while they are trying to get through. And then try to get the fins off. Usually only the best backstrokers can do this long course.

 

Some of the stroke drills we will work: Single arm is one of my favorite and I will throw this into our training sessions as well. It can be a 25 right arm and 25 left or it could be 3 right, 3 left and one full cycle. Or I right, 1 left 3 cycles; 2 right, 2 left, 2 cycles; 3 right, 3 left 1 cycle. I like making them think while they are doing this. Double arm I work with more for the understanding of the pinkies coming through in the stroke. They come out for recovery and then they touch the back of their hands and then separate for the entry outside the body. Touch and pull, kids hate this one so I do it a lot. The arms start off at somewhere between the 45 and 90 degree position to the body, they are kicking and they recover one hand, then enter the water, stroke through exit and touch. Then the opposite hands goes through the same motion without making any change in the extended arm. This kind of drill holds back body rotation, so if I work this then somewhere I work a drill that will help their rotation as well. Usually once they have learned the drill I will attempt to incorporate them into sets. We will go a 50 kick, 25 touch and pull and then a 50 swim, we are doing a set of l25′ s. Hesitation drill, I will do it at the point of entry and as they are coming through on recovery sometimes I will have them count through the recovery. Again, this helps them to work holding the rotation of the body longer. As they are coming through the recovery I will have them count slowly to 5. Then when they reach the top of the entry they will hold for a two count hesitation. Tempo drills are very important and I use them frequently, especially when we are resting. Spin drill or wind milling whatever you want to call it, it is a matter of spinning the arms as fast as they can. I tell them specifically, it is not just being able to hold the water, but that I don’t want them to even try to hold onto the water. I never have anyone injured doing this drill. but we always build into doing it. I will time them doing this drill, I think the record is something like 0.56 seconds for a cycle, a matter of just spinning their arms all the way down, it has nothing to do with size, because usually the biggest kids are the fastest at turning over. I don’t have a lot of other drills to work on tempo, but while we are training I will time the backstrokers more often and just lean over and give them the numbers and they realize that I am telling them that their tempo is to slow and to work on getting it a little faster.

 

Start, turn and finish, this could be a discussion into itself. I got upset when they took out the standup start in backstroke. I always loved that start, I felt it was a good addition to backstroke. We will work the athletes in keeping their feet together and putting them tandem, one foot just a bit higher than the other. Most swimmers like keeping the feet together. More importantly than where they place their feet is that when they pull themselves up they are pulling themselves more in than up. If they are a smaller child they should grab the ledge not the bar on the block, otherwise when they pull themselves up their feet will be directly beneath. When they push off their feet will go straight down followed closely by their body. You want them to be to some extent in line with their legs. Then I will tell them to get their start from their legs. If a person is standing on the blocks and only uses their arms they are still moving forward, the person who only uses their arms in a backstroke start will only fall and go nowhere. So we talk it through by driving from their legs first and then driving around with the arms. I like going around more than bringing the arms through since most of the swimmers who try to go through in actuality throw them over their heads and in essence drive themselves down. If the swimmer has good flexibility we will work on trying to get the shoulders and head coming over and the hips working on coming up and following through. If they don’t have much fear using an aluminum rod to use as a reference point to bring the body up and over. They need to drive from the legs first to get the body moving in the direction that they want to go. We work on dolphining under water, I was glad to see them institute the new rules. By the way, we call it the Berkoff Blastoff, but actually a young lady from Auburn by the name of Dawn Hewitt who had severe shoulder problem back around 1981, she would kick her 50 backstroke in meets around a :26.0, and did that at the AIAW meet. But backstroke should be backstroke swimming and not dolphining down the pool. However, we do work on dolphin kicking and if they are not a strong kicker then we work to have it shallower just to keep some of the speed going off the walls. If they are going to the legal mark for kicking under water. they better come up with or ahead of the group. To spend more time under water kicking to come in behind people is a waste of time.

 

In the turn. through watching other people early in my coaching career, we did what was called the Hawaiian flip. I don’t know why it was named that. Basically it was getting the hand to touch and then turning the body over onto the stomach and doing essentially a freestyle flip. Now with the current turn the progression for teaching is very similar to what I did back then. First we work well away from the walls. just either jumping off the bottom of the pool or push off from the wall. They will take three strokes then cross the body with their arm as they reach that arm towards the wall and turn over onto their stomach. That is the first progression. In the second progression they come across the body onto the stomach and then flip. When they flip they will go all the way through until they go a complete 360 degrees. This is to help them to think of driving through the flip as fast as they can. In the third progression step they will take the three strokes, cross their body and then move in a continuous motion into the flip landing this time on their back, feet in position. We do all this with both arms, from the beginning. We don’t start telling them to learn to turn on their opposite arms after a few races. Next we work them in the same progression moving towards the walls instead of away from them. At this point we stress that they must flip when they are at that point in the motion, not wait until they feel they are at the wall. I don’t care if they touch the wall. I can get them closer to the wall but it is more difficult to unteach your desire to come over and kick long enough so you touch it, a hesitation because you are leery of the walls. So when that arm comes across, it flows across and you get into your flip at the same time. At the point that your hand enters the water your hips should be coming up and over the water. Once on the wall I want your feet, hip and shoulders in alignment. When they push off, and you need  to be able to watch and or film them, you want the head back in alignment with the arms and squeezed tight. Flexible backstrokers will have a tendency to have the head higher above the arms. From on top of the water, unless this is really out of whack, you will not be able to see it. With seven turns in a 200 swim that can account for quite a bit of time. In the finish they cannot have a fear of the wall, otherwise they are truly finished. If a backstroker can learn to drive into their turn and finish, that alone will bring them from being a B to a AA level.

 

In training we will go about 50 70% in that stroke. Once they have made a Junior National level in backstroke I will train them not like a freestyler but with the freestylers. This is where the TLC comes in because every now and then you have a swimmer who excels in a stroke, but do poorly if they train or over train in that stroke. Most backstrokers I have found develop further by training it more and training it well just like they would freestyle. That includes warming up and warming down backstroke. We do swimming, kicking and pulling backstroke. In the pulling I will use paddles but never buoys. When they start pulling with buoys they begin to fishtail the body. I want them to keep working a steady shallow kick. I pull with straps on the ankles, no more than 25’s. A lot of that is to help work tempo and body position. We will swim on surgical tubing, I like making my own tubing so that it works them to get to the other end but everyone can get their easy enough and we can nm sets on it. It might take them 20 seconds to get down there. We will start off doing a set like 8 x 50 freestyle on l: 15 they swim down and back. Then maybe 6 or 8 100′ s backstroke on 2 minutes and then 8 50′ s again on 1:15 going freestyle down and backstroke back. You have to build into all these things. You can’t take the athlete and tell them to swim 2000 and having never used paddles before in backstroke and throw the paddles on them. You have to start off with 25’s in whatever you do, and it might take a practice, a week of practice or a season to really start to develop it. The sets will almost always be between 1500 and 2500 yards. I don’t believe you can learn to swim strokes, especially the quality of backstroke going just 10 x 50.

 

In actual sets, I have done some over distance like a 2000 backstroke swim, not just for getting training paces or a set of 4 x 500. I incorporate a lot of kicking, and will not let them swim the stroke wrong. An idea of different ways I could use 10 x 150; one of my favorites would be swim the first !00 then take 15 seconds rest and then kick the last 50. Within that set they would be told they were going 10 x 150, descend 1-3,4-6,7-10 in the swimming. In the 50 kick I would give them a challenge time, like :37 for a 50 kick and then have to break that time. When the backstrokers slow down at the end of their races because they get tired, the first thing they stop doing is kicking. As soon as they stop kicking their legs drop, freestylers will not have this problem, so we’ll go these 150’s and they will work to push the  legs. The 100’s swim as I have said we will descend, but they are not all out except for the 50 kick. For age group swimmers who are only going 50 or 100 yards, instead of going a 150 we might go a 100 where we swim a 75 take 10 seconds rest with an all-out 25 kick, when they are that kicking the swimmer should concentrate on the body position. I learned this after ’88, I am at Olympic Trials and very fortunate to coach a very talented backstroker in Trippi Schwenk. I told Trippi that I thought he could be with the field at the last 50, when you flip and come off the wall I want you to make sure you keep your head back to keep your legs up, because he had a tendency of picking his head up. He gets into the race and he is second into the last 50 and as he comes off the wall the first thing he does is pick his head up, he is trying to get higher and what happens is that his legs dropped. He struggled his last 25 meters and finished fourth in ’88. As I was walking down to talk with him no Jess than four people told me “great swim, if you only have gotten him to put his head back on the last 50 and his feet up he might have made it”. I sat down to try and think of where I went wrong in coaching him and I realized that where I really made the mistake was giving him instructions 45 minutes before he swam rather than 15 minutes. Since then I decided that rather than telling them to put that head back at the end and keep the body as high as you can, I want to train them. I have gone a little more when I could to working on that over kicking and I will tell them hips up, head back and kick those feet at the surface. Same 10 x 150, another way of doing it would be 25 right, 25 left, 50 kick ten seconds rest and then 50 swim at race pace. Another way to do these straight swimming would be to descend them or go alternating one easy and one fast.

 

Challenge sets, I use these often though not with young age groupers. When Trippi was still in high school, we did 3 sets of 3 x 200 with 2 x 100 freestyle on 2 minutes, easy after each set of three. First set on 2:15, second set of three on 2: 10 and his last set of three on 2:05. On the 2:05 he held 1:58, that was one of his best sets ever and right after that set we talked and I told him there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to excel Nationals off of that. At Nationals he went l :45 200 backstroke and won the event. Another young , great person and attitude, not quite as talented, by the name of Brad Askins. He did a similar set long course, going on the 2:40, 2:30 and then 2:20. I find that training long course they need a little more rest to be challenged just as much. On the 2:20 he held about 2:17, at the 1992 Trials he went 2:00 and finished fourth. I have also done sets trying to challenge them more on speed, not on just the send offs. One of the better one, in ’85 while coaching Krissy Linehan who was primarily a freestyler and butterflyer but because of shoulder problems we were training more backstroke, she did a set of 4 x 400 x 6:00 [long course] and started off at 5:15 and descended to 4:56. She made her first Junior cut in backstroke without shaving, and I knew she would excel watching her swim this way and even split these swims, that year she went 2:18 to win Juniors. I find that when the kids can start excepting the challenges in the strokes and try excelling at it is going to aid them in swimming the stroke faster. If they keep training all of their really hard things freestyle, they don’t relate to that level of swimming then in that backstroke.

 

In training aids, I don’t use the donuts on their legs. The straps, I will use bicycle tubes cut up, only on 25’s for that. Paddles, generally I would use the smaller Hans paddles, the ones with the holes, for the backstrokers. I have had backstrokers use the stroke masters, and at Auburn most of the backstrokers seem to like, I am not sure of the name but they come in a triangle – to a point at one end. I do like pulling with paddles on. At Auburn we have the use of Power racks, and they will do a lot of pushing off, dolphin and first few break out strokes on their backs.

 

This is how I visualize backstroke, I hope that I have conveyed this information or knowledge across to each of you.