No Weak Links in Your Program – Constant and Continual Progress by Mike Adams (2011)


Introduction: It’s my pleasure to introduce Mike to you today. I looked at the topic of his talk knowing weaklings in your program consistent continual progress year after year and I know that that’s what Mike believes in not only for his program but for himself because back in 2004 he was at Naperville and I was over in Indianapolis at Washington [indiscernible] [0:00:32], some club in North Central High School there and he gave me a call and said, “Can I come out, spend a few days, you know, watching your program, coming to practice, talking with you and just seeing how you do things?” and I was like, “Sure.” I didn’t get very many calls like that. It always surprises me when coaches have success or have a group of great swimmers go through them. More coaches don’t try and take advantage of it. Maybe I was just… Mike didn’t realize how unapproachable I was at that time. But we had a great visit when he was there and, you know, I think that’s something that we can all, you know, take back that, you know, go share with other coaches, you know, search out answers, find somebody that’s doing a great job and don’t be afraid to go ask them to watch their program. And Mike’s had phenomenal success at Naperville, couple of state championships and pretty much in the top ten all the time, great list of All-Americans and it’s obvious that he continues to build that program and keep that high level of achievement going so without further ado, Mike Adams.

Mike Adams: Thanks Mark, appreciate it. Well thank you all for being here today. I realized you can be watching Rebecca Soni or Aaron Peirsol so I appreciate you guys being here; couple of things before we get started. I’d like to thank NISCA and I’d like to thank John Leonard and Guy Edson for having me here to speak. I want to applaud the NISCA board, a number of whom are in the room. Eve, Mel… just the job that these people do at the NISCA convention is absolutely amazing. If you are not a NISCA member, please join NISCA because it’s a fabulous organization.

Secondly I’d like to thank Hasty Awards and I’m not trying to give them a plug here but one of my many hats I’m involved with the Illinois board of directors and I was elected last year, found out we did not have key chains or patches for a banquet coming up. I needed to get something very quickly. I was able to save our board roughly $2500. I got a better product, better service, better price through Hasty Awards so if you ever need to use them, feel free to use them.3

Couple of other things that I want to mention and then I’ll get started. Eve is going to be helping us here and I believe we’re going to try to get this on the website. If you need part of this… if I go too fast… if you give me your email, preferably not your school email, I believe I can email a power point to you that might help you out a little bit.

First thing I want to talk about is philosophy and opinions because we’re going to combine two talks here today. I’m going to get in to the swimming portion of what we do, going to get into the dryland portion of what we do and kind of, go from there. With our team, everybody on our team is important. Doesn’t matter if they’re beginner or if they are a state champion, it’s important that each and every person on our team swim well.

Our motto is to work hard, swim fast and have fun. We coach the whole team. We do not just coach one or two individuals. I believe in a fairly recent newsletter, Eddie Reese came out and said, “You know, it’s not necessarily about winning. It’s about making each individual on your team better” and I think that that’s really the philosophy of what we try to do in our program. Setting the tone, it means a lot for our JV kids and our freshmen to drop a lot of time at the end of the year. It sets the tone for our sectional and our state team and it prepares those freshmen in JV to step into those roles when those kids graduate. We rebuild by getting that second tier of swimmers to step into the roles that the top kids are doing right now. We don’t red shirt or recruit. We try to get everybody to swim fast year after year.

The next thing we try to do… again I’m a high school coach and we swim for three months. We try to do it all in three months because, you know, how the guys are. They’re not necessarily the best of people as far as training in the other nine months. So we try to do all the necessary work during our boys season so we can swim well at the end of the year. And again with our program it’s all about the end of the year.

Our focus is, we try to swim well at the end of the year. We look at the regular season as preparation for the play offs and all of our swimmers are going to the play offs. It doesn’t matter if we’re zero and ten, if we’re five and five in dual meets. We swim through the regular season. We take our lumps during the regular season. We have a number of people to get ready for us and that’s the way it works. That’s what we have to deal with. Sometimes our opponents look very fresh during the year but we can’t worry about that because our focus is at the end of the year.

And again, we have several rounds of the play offs. The first round is our Depatch Valley Conference Swimming Championships. Our second round is our Sectional Meet and our third round is our State Finals.
And, you know, I know John Cassadia was here yesterday, did a lot of great stuff on team building but it means a lot to our varsity swimmers watching the younger swimmers go to our Championship Meet and swim amazing. When you have a 50 freestyle that goes from 36 to 30, it sets the tone for the entire team and those kids get really, really excited. I’m talking about our high level swimmers seeing the younger guys do well. Those guys are the point men for our entire team to do well and as a result when all those top level kids are getting excited about younger guys swimming well, there is a reverse effect. The younger people really get jacked up and ready to go when our varsity kids get ready to go at the end of the year. We have a tradition to uphold.

We have many alums, future red hawks that look at our season in the paper, look at it online. We owe our fans, our followers and our school, our best throughout the year as well as at the end of the season. We had a talk after 2002, 2006, last year, we’ll probably have another one this year about what it means to swim for our school in Naperville Central. We swim for the past, the present and the future and it’s always about the future. Even at the Boys State Meet, which is our end of the season, our boys are looking to swim at sectionals, senior champs, junior, seniors and Olympic Trials and believe me there’s still plenty in the tank for our team to do well at these meets.

I’ll get in to that a little bit later in regard to our taper. As far as… the past doesn’t matter. It’s everything about this year. It really doesn’t matter what we did last year. It really matters what we’re going to do this year and, you know, our fans, our school, everybody else expects that out of us and, you know, it changes every year. Some years we may be, you know, trying to win a state title, other years it may be top five, top ten. Other times it’s for, you know, just doing really, really well at the end of the year. It’s about taking a group of individuals from point A to point B regardless of what their ability level is and regardless of how good they are.

And again, you know, we are as strong as our weakest link. We want everybody on our team to be a contributor to what we do during the season. I remember several years ago, it was in 2004, we happened to lose an invitational and it was the way we lost which really upset me. It wasn’t so much we lost. We had about four or five individuals getting sick. We plugged in some people. We had some people ready to go but they didn’t really step up and do what we really needed them to do and we talked about from that point on that, you know, how it doesn’t matter if somebody goes down, you need to be ready to go and really get after it. And again everybody on our team is prepared, ready to go.

Something else that we like to do with our team is, you know, with the high school order of events, you know, you could be swimming the same event time after time after time. I’d like to mix it up a little bit. If there is something I see in practice, I’d like to move people around and usually if you see somebody do a good breaststroke, put them in an event. They do really well. That gives them another area to train in that really helps their progress. Accepting the coaches’ direction, don’t sweat the small stuff and I’ve had really conflicting things about this. But we’re in the 2010s right now, not the 1960s where, you know, you could kind of, pretty much do what you wanted back then and kind of, get away with it. I remember several years ago I had a couple of guys that were kind of, flex. They had problems, you know, they were a minute or two late to practice everyday. You know, I don’t condone that but one of my assistants really wanted me to, you know, kick them out and everything else.

I chose not to do that. These guys, once they got to practice they would stay late. They would do anything. They’d really work hard. It’s a different era right now. You’ve got to get them to do what you want to do. Try not to yell at your athletes all the time. I see a number of coaches do that and I see a number of coaches who will yell at the lesser athletes while the other athletes get away with murder. Don’t do that either.

Just a couple of things, the swimmers know that what we are trying to get them to do is in their best interest. Basically through our coaching staff’s experience. Then another thing that I want to mention and in preparation for this talk I asked a number of people, “What do you see about what we do.” So, some of these comments are reflected in regard to that.
In my opinion it starts with you as a coach okay. What you do defines what your team is going to be and, you know, Eddie Reese was talking, I believe, yesterday about doing that little bit of extra. When you the coach do that little bit of extra for your kids, they appreciate it and they’ll go through the wall for you. They’ll do anything for you. Be demanding, be positive. Never ask more of them then you would of yourself. Make sure that you’re at practice 30 minutes early. Leave if you can, you know, 45 minutes after practice. Be behind your athletes 100% win or lose, that’s important.

Something that I want to mention, I was at a clinic in 2004 and I was – I believe Dave Salo was talking about his first year at Irvine Novaquatics and I believe they went from tenth to first in their age group LAC division. I was talking to one of my bosses because I still coach club and we disagreed pretty vehemently about this. He felt that nobody could do that. That anybody could do that at that particular place, Irvine Novaquatics and I said, “No, I don’t agree with you.” I think that anybody can make a big impact in their program regardless of whom you are and where you start off from.

So I honestly believe that. And again, lead by example. If things don’t go as well as you would like, you are accountable from the standpoint of you’re designing the program. Try not to blame them. We’re all in it together. Listen to your team. Talk to your athletes about the future and then if there is a disappointment, turn that disappointing performance into a positive. Little things like saying, “We’re closer than you think, you know, yet we didn’t get to where we wanted to be but we’re closer than we thought we were going to be.” Part of our sport is developing men and women in the future. So it’s not just about swimming fast. It’s developing people as good people and as we know, in life we’re going to get knocked down. So our sport is excellent for that and, you know, persevere, don’t give up, and don’t be denied.

I watch a lot of other sports and in basketball it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this year. But Doug Collins, the former TNT announcer, I believe he coaches the Sixers right now, mentioned that sometimes you have to have your heart torn out before you can really become a champion. And I think there is some truth to that. I remember in 2009 we had a very good team. Maybe one of the best teams we’ve ever had at Central. I think I’ve got… what do I have this… 76 dealers, anybody who’s from Pittsburgh that might have been their best team during that era but they had some injuries and they didn’t get it done. We did not do what we wanted to do at the State Meet and we turned that around. We had two even better years after that. So even though you don’t get to where you want to go maybe this year doesn’t mean it’s a total failure.

Turn that disappointment into a positive, and again, lead by your example. Don’t play favorites. Be prepared and then, you know, another thing I want to mention. Always have an open door policy with your athletes probably after practice, not during practice. Most of the swimmers respect my experience and understanding of the sport and this is what somebody else said, “The athletes are motivated by my commitment not by my talk.”

And again, always be encouraging, always get input from your athletes. I remember many years ago we’d had a great year and a couple of my top swimmers had done some lifting with somebody else in the off season and they’re like, you know, “We want to talk to you about what we’re going to do.” “Okay, great” and so they’re talking to me about what they had done this summer and they’d worked with somebody that had worked with Janet Evans and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah and I’m leading them on, you know, okay, great, great, great and then… so then I started asking questions, it’s like, “So when did this person work for Janet Evans?” So like, “Oh, I think it was in like, 1991, ‘92” and I said, “Well that’s interesting because Janet Evans swam slower that year” and I said, “We’re not doing stuff that’s going to make us swim slower. So I appreciate your input” you know, I listened to them but then I decided we’re not going to do that.

The other thing believe it or not, always be willing to listen to your parents. Sometimes they have great ideas, sometimes they have scary ideas, sometimes they’ll get you to think about something that might help you at the end of the year. I mentioned a parent here. We swim at the end of the season in… I’m going to say mediocre to pretty good high school pools and Kevin and Mark would be very angry at me maybe for saying that. We do not swim in state of the art facilities. So we might take lane lines out the week before the state meet so it’s a wave pool so that we’re prepared for those waves. And a parent mentioned that to me. I thought it was a great idea. I used it and, you know, just have an open policy there. We’ve got communication both ways. We talk realistically about us as a , what the swimmers can do individually, how they can do it not how they must do it. I think that, you know, a lot of people, you know, they get to the end of the year and they’re uptight, they’re thinking about the end result rather than staying in the moment.

Okay, not being too specific with your goals, not worrying about what final place you’re going to get. I think that’s a mistake. I’ve had some swimmers do that in the past and I won’t recommend that. And again, not place, but performance is really, really important. In our three month program, you need to be at practice, and this is something that in today’s day and age not everybody really buys into but for the most part, the boys as a rule come to every practice. They do not miss our practices. If they do, it’s for an excellent reason. If fatigue is important or a factor then, you know, we might give them a morning off. If they need more time to study, absolutely. If they need more time for x box 360, we work them harder.

Again, the more we talk, the more cohesive we are and then the courage of your convictions if you will. Have the courage to stick to your convictions. No matter what the press may say, no matter what the bloggers may say, no matter what the parents or critics may say and then at the same time also have the courage to change your plan when you think you need to adjust things to get to where you want to go.

Ten years ago we were at New Orleans, couple of days before 9-11 and the late Richard Quick gave a great speech in the beginning of the ASCA clinic and it kind of hit me in that he talked about if you need to find an answer, you as a swim coach may not have all the answers. And one of the things Mark alluded to earlier is feel free to seek out other people, you know, whether it’s an email, a phone call, anytime I’ve ever done that, nobody has told me No. If you want to, go out and talk to them, but don’t be afraid to go out and seek other opinions.

And again, remember and I’m going to get to this in a minute, there isn’t anybody that can coach the team better than you in your own program. The late George Hans once said, “Don’t take anything for granted” and constantly tell everybody what you want and what’s going to happen during the season because no matter how many times you tell them, sometimes they might forget. Don’t take anything for granted.

Don’t assume that they know when they should know and that they don’t. Be patient and calm at a time of crisis. You as the coach are the rock of your program. There isn’t anybody that can coach the team that you have better than you. We’ve got a lot of great coaches here, but you guys see each and every person everyday. Go with your gut feeling and I’m going to get to some crazy ideas in a few minutes.

Give an aura of confidence regardless of the situation. Be honest with kids. Don’t bias kids because if you do, it that will come back to bite you. Don’t do that. Be objective, truthful, optimistic, encouraging about the teams, relays and individual races. If you show you care about what they’re doing no matter what level, again they’ll do anything that you want them to do. Always examine what could be better and as I tell our boys, don’t let good be good enough.

Okay, talking about goals a little bit, the process of getting there. We talk about our goals, you know, what we do in the weight room, quality, underwater work. When we stay on task, we usually do pretty well. We don’t want to be thinking about the end of the year in swimming at the expense of what we need to do each and everyday. Our captains keep everybody on track. I pretty much at the beginning of the year, sit down with our captains, talk about what I think we are going to be able to do this year and we go from there. The reason I do that is because in years past, early on I would try to let them take an active part in that. They mean well but you are the leader and you need to set the tone as to where we’re going. And like I said, every individual has a key role in our program. With our goals, every Monday we sit down after a new practice, we talk about what we’re going to do for the week, what meets we have on the docket. You know, what we’re going to do training-wise; what we need to do to get better. We do individual goal sheets where the swimmers will write down what they think they want to do at the end of the year. If it’s not aggressive enough, I will talk about it. If it’s over aggressive I’ll find a way to possibly mention to him that, you know, that might be a little out of range and then we have a state team meeting usually every week and that is with our kids that are going to sectionals and state. We talk about where we are. We’re up against this team next week, and they usually like to race us. I don’t want you to worry about that. Let’s, you know, get through it, not worry and then we usually have individual meetings a lot of time in the weight room and other places not during practice, just to talk about where we are. I want to talk a little bit about mentally preparing our athletes. Dick Joachim, he used to coach Tim Shaw, mentioned that he’s his own team psychologist and I really liked that because there are a lot of people out there, again, who have all the answers for you, but really it’s us that are going to make the difference.

Take the psychology of the sport seriously. Don’t spend countless hours in the pool training without telling your athletes what they can do at the end of the year. I have seen this. I’ve asked, people, what does so and so think you can do. Well, we really never get to that okay and you don’t have to be crazy on that.

Like I said, I coach club. Start the process each and everyday. We have try outs this summer and this one boy is coming in, I don’t know, he’s like 12 or 13 and he’s coming in to our group. He’s got four good strokes. I’m like, “What’s your IM?” It’s like 1:12. Oh he’s a whole lot better than 1:12 and I told him that. Don’t be afraid to tell them what they can do. No, don’t be crazy. Don’t tell them that, you know, you’re going to be Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps. That might be extreme, but don’t be afraid to let them know how good they can be. Because, just one man’s opinion, I think there’s too much yelling, you’re not this, you’re not that. They’re not interested in that. Today’s athlete is not interested in that. They’re interested in what they can buy into and what they can do to be good. Like I said, by focusing on the mental training, it helps create focus, determination and self-confidence; a reason for being here.

Thinking right leads to training correctly and swimming faster. Constantly try to instill attitudes and beliefs for higher performance. At the end of the year you want them relaxed at the big meet. You don’t want them uptight and going crazy.
I read this new book by Michael Brooks that has just come out. I’m in the process of reading it. I’ve read the first 50 pages and on the way out here I’m… this quote from his book, “Once you teach swimmers how to think, the hardest part of coaching is done because their behaviors follows their thoughts, beliefs and attitudes.” Again, we as coaches are visionaries.

Okay, what you think and how you talk about it to your athletes, they’re going to believe in. We’re constantly selling vision. Okay, they might not buy into it right away but if you keep on promoting it, they’re going to buy into what you’re going to be talking to them about. As a result, by preparing well, everybody swims well by a lot. I think last year we were 95% lifetime best. The year before we were 98%, which is pretty good. Sometimes, again, you don’t achieve everything. Reinvigorate, as [indiscernible] [00:25:58] said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.”

Next thing I want to talk about a little bit are some landmines to watch out for on your way to doing what you need to do. The first thing you’ve got to be careful of is crazy parents. Okay and I know that I’m not the only one that has to deal with that but by crazy parents I’m talking about applying way too much pressure on their athlete, making life miserable for their swimmer in and out of the pool. And many times they don’t even know they’re doing it.

I remember we had two brothers. The first brother coming in, the older one was a good swimmer but not a great swimmer. Dad really wasn’t that interested. This boy flourished in our program. He ended up being top six in one event at the state and swam all relays. One of the best relay swimmers we’ve ever had. His younger brother, Finam, all this pressure, he made state, he was on our relays but he was not the swimmer that his brother was because dad put too much pressure on him. And as a result, you know, I talked to dad. Dad was not going to listen to me. Okay, not a problem I tried okay, but some of the parents I’ve done a better job of going and talking to them and just, “Look, we need to back off. The more pressure that is on at the end of the year, the less you need to be going crazy. I know that’s paradoxical. I know that may not make sense but I really believe it. Okay, you’ve got to back off and not think so much.”

So and again, sometimes better the athlete gets, the more crazy the parents get. So, you know, something I need to work on a little bit more but, you know, I found that it’s good to be kind of, not aggressive but deal with the issue rather than let it happen again and again.

I’m going to kind of, get in trouble her but I feel that I want to bring this up. I think it’s important to whom you are listening when you’re getting advice about what’s going on. I think it’s good to talk to long-time successful coaches as to what they do and why. As I said earlier, most are very glad to help. What you have to watch out for and run from are people that know it all, who have really not done a whole lot, okay, yet they know answers to everything. A couple of years ago I’m at a girl’s state meet. I’m watching the meet. I have somebody plop down, sit next to me, “You need to change your weight program.” “Really, why?” You know, I didn’t say that. I was, you know, I listened then I’m like, but I’m thinking inside and going on and on and on and on, okay.

Another thing, we were at a USS Symposium, 2008 and they have all the backstroke films on there. I’m watching this. I turn to a coach next to me who I’ve known for 25 years. I said, “Either I’m blind or what he’s saying isn’t happening.” He goes, “You’re absolutely right. They are telling you the wrong thing” and in addition they mentioned that Eddie Reese didn’t agree with this backstroke or what they were saying. And I’m sitting there thinking, “Let’s see, Eddie Reese, Clay Britt, Rick Carey, Aaron Peirsol. I think I’m going to listen to Eddie Reese.” So, you know, again I think everybody means the best but you’ve got to be real careful what everybody is telling you and part of my philosophy two things that happened. I used to read all the books, you know, follow everything, letter to the law, and I remember when Matt Biondi was swimming many years ago, you know, less is better.

Now from what I’m hearing at this clinic, we need to do that little extra but back then less was better. Now it worked for Matt Biondi but it didn’t work for our entire country and as a result, you know, we had a whole group of people that were being told the wrong thing. My opinion, you don’t have to believe me.

I was at another clinic in the ‘90s and right now Janet Evans, [indiscernible] [00:29:56], Jenny Thompson, all swimming straight on freestyle. Many years ago we’re being told, high elbows low hands… different strokes for different people. SO with those two things after I’m listening to this the buildings are kind of, all falling down. I’m like, “I’m going to have to find my own way.” You’re going to have to pick and choose what is going to work for you and why.

I was talking to Richard right before we started here and, you know, he was doing stuff that Nort Thornton is doing. You have to follow your heart in a lot of these areas and even sometimes when you think it works and other people are questioning what you’re doing, stick to what you think is going to work.

Okay, enough of that, let’s kind of, get into some of the things… oh, I know what I want to do. As a high school coach before I break down the seasons, I want the kids to swim USS. I don’t care where they swim. We have five clubs in our area, Mavericks, [indiscernible] [00:30:53], [indiscernible] [00:30:54], Academy Bullets, Fox Valley and then also share the glory with your club coaches. You know, don’t be afraid to give them credit for helping your athletes. I have found that you get more with honey then you do with vinegar. You know, take them out to a ball game, take them out for lunch, find out if their kids are in the water, if they’re doing something and, you know, everything because you cooperate, tends to work a lot, lot better.

Okay, alright, let’s talk about what we do in the water or what we try to do. I think the high school season is the long short season. The first week of our season is a volume week. We rotate between various strokes and speeds throughout the week in the season. I go back to the picture of Greg Maddux. I think Greg Maddux was very successful because he changed speeds, didn’t necessarily throw, you know, 105 miles an hour with every pitch. I think that’s what we try to do with our swimming and in the weight room. Try to have a plan to succeed. A weekly plan, a yearly plan, a daily regimen of what you try to do and with our season, I break it down as follows. The first four weeks is pre-competitive, we build each week of the season. Week five and six we have Christmas break where we’re going maximum yardage and quality. Week seven through eleven we have competitive pre-taper and then week 12 through 14 we taper. Okay, we try to train nine areas or nine strokes. Obviously free distance, middle distance and sprint, backstroke, breaststroke. We try also to train the fly, the individual medley and just a thought on the individual medley. Don’t train your IMers freestyle and expect them to swim well in the IM. Why do I say that? Because I train them free instead of IM, it doesn’t work. So please don’t do that; just trying to help.

Underwaters, kicking is important, regular sets, aerobic, anaerobic, vertical kicking, vertical kicking with weight belts, monofins, kicking with fins, all of the above. We also do a lot of drills for feel for the water and I told Mark that he’s part of my talk because I picked this up from Mark Casey in 2004. One of the things we do is we use fist gloves. You can get those I believe at Total Immersion and I’ll tell you what I like about fist gloves. You can tell swimmers to get as much distance per stroke as possible by putting the fist gloves on. You are getting your hands tighter, fingers closer and plus your forearms ache after wearing those and you go from whatever would be 12 strokes a lap to nine strokes a lap and again I just think that you get a better feel for the water.

One of the drills we do we go 8x25s of gloves, 4x50s no gloves. We go through that four times. The boys tend to like it and it’s something that I truly believe in and I’ve got more drills at the end here.

Then also training, starts, turns and finishes and relay exchanges where the races are won and lost, we do starts with a weight belt. We do… I had one of our parents make what we call… we call it the noodle. Long story short, we have this apparatus that is next to the block, a noodle that is out in front and you do this in deep water where the swimmers jump over the noodle or they dive over the noodle and we can do starts forever but, you know, you always have those people that have a hard time getting the hips up and diving over. Well, this is my bad example of drawing the noodle. At any rate diving over that, jumping over that is a fun way to work on starts and turns in practice. We do turns with weight belts. We do multiple turns like two or three freestyle flip turns to get over. For finishes we do something called 20s where they do a push off, a turn and a finish and we do that to work on starts, turns and finishes, and then for relay exchanges we have a diving well so we have two blocks in a diving well and we have kids that will swim back and forth working on relay exchanges for about 15 minute intervals and that’s all they do. And you have to stay on them because again it gets little bit boring but it’s something that they do that we work on relay exchanges and it works out pretty well for us.

We put swimmers in proper training groups. We change speeds and then we challenge our athletes on a daily basis. Free, IMs, specialty week and if they get too tired, we change it. Let me try to tell you what we do each and everyday. With our practices this is the weekly plan if you will; Monday morning we usually do freestyle, [indiscernible] [00:35:59] tubes and paddles. We might do a small kick set after that. Monday afternoon we have a team meeting, usually 30 minutes. They usually try to stretch it out a little longer which happens and then we usually do I’ll call it like a short rest, stretch whole set, little bit longer at kicking set. Tuesday we do an IM set usually 400 IM early in the season in December, 200 IM as we head toward January, a quality set, drill set. Tuesday afternoon, early part of the year we do a 100 stroke set as we get into January that will shift toward a 50, quality set and also some drills. Wednesday morning we’re off. Wednesday afternoon usually a middle distance free set, maybe some 100s for some of the boys that are not quite that accomplished. We do a fly set; we do a kick set that day. Thursday we do a 200 stroke set like in December that will change to a 100 stroke set in January, quality set, a drill set and then Thursday afternoon some type of race pace, a 200 IM set in December and that will change to a 100 in January. We try to do some fast 25s which I’ll get to in a minute on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Friday am we usually try to work on weak stroke for everybody, try to do a kick set, breaststroke pull set. Some hodge podge; hodge podge is defined as whatever we didn’t get done that I wanted to do during the week. It’s kind of a make up day. Friday afternoon we do a kick set. We do a reference set. Saturday; we kind of do a lot of long warm up, drills. We’ll spend some time if we have a meet that day, we do what we call a meet walk through. The kids like to do that. We do the fist gloves. We do relay exchanges, starts, 20s and the noodle.

And again the next slide I believe is, you know, what we do. We swim mornings, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 5:15 to 7:00. We swim Saturday before a meet. Afternoons 3:30 to 5:30 and then we lift Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. The reason we do that, it’s just trial and error, that’s what I think works. I know the prevalent feeling is to lift in the morning and not swim in the morning. I double checked. I don’t know how many people know Jim Brower who coaches the Senaxe in Sonsonate but they pretty much do it the way we do it and I kind of like what we do.

Alright, I’m going to give you an example of some sets. Some of these might be good for you. Some of them might not be good but I’m going to go over it. We do Monday morning, porpoise, tubes and paddles and first part of this set, breathing 3-5-7-9 by 200s and descending the 200s. Then we might do some speed work, seven 100s with fins and paddles on 1:45, working on 500 pace. And sometimes it takes a while to get going, coming off a weekend. Then again three 600s, working on the breathing pattern, seven 100s trying to go faster than 500 pace, three 400s then seven 100s fins and paddles trying to go a little faster.

Okay, Monday afternoon they might do something like this and again the send offs may be too fast or too slow. We will have even slower send offs for this but five 100s on 1:08, four 100s on 1:06, two 100s on 1:04, two on 1:02, one on a minute and then we’ll rest two minutes and then we’ll try it again. And that way I think we’re, you know, getting some short rest work in. Next I’ve got a longer IM set where we have 300 IMs where we’re descending this one to four. Then we have a 200 fly, back, breast, free, where we’re negative splitting then a 100 fast and we might do that one or two times depending on what we’re trying to do.
I’ve got a few other IM sets that I want to share with you that I like. I know from a quality stand point we might do 12×100 IMs on let’s say 1:45/3:30. So we’ll have basically you’re doing a 100 IM every 3:30 and you will have some guys start from the blocks. Some start from the push and we’ll go 0, 10, 20 they’re coming in and then on 1:45 the guys from the push are going and then halfway we’ll switch if you will. And to mix it up instead of just straight 100 IM, we’ll go 50 fly, 50 back 100 IM. 50 back, 50 breast 100 IM, 50 breast, 50 free, 100 IM. I also feel that like, IM pace work is really good. We might go 50 fly, 50 back, 50 breast, 50 free on 1:30 with an easy… a 100 in between. On 2:30 we might do that four to six times. Just to approximate race pace speed I think that’s really, really important. I think that’s really helped our IMers.

Then I’ve got another IM set and then we’ll get back on track. Six 200 IMs on 2:30, one 200 free on 2:15, then five 200 IMs on 2:30, one 200 on 2:15, 200 IM on 2:30, one 200 on 2:15, all the way down. That’s a lot of IMs, that’s a lot of freestyle but you can change that… let’s say you have weak breaststrokers. You can have the 200s be 200 breaststrokes, if that’s more toward a 400 IM, you can change it to 100s and work it anyway you like. But that’s a great IM set. We’ve heard about working fly and short bits. I came up with this in December and the kids really liked it. I mean it. They really liked it. They all did a great job.

We did 36x25s on :24, did 6x50s easy on :50, 27x25s on :22, 4x50s easy on :50, 18x25s on :20, 2x50s easy on :50, 9x25s on :18 and they got to 9x25s which is about 2500 yards set but everybody on the team slow to fast did a great job on that. Okay, short sprints: I used to talk about the ATP CP system and so we’ve got a couple of sets that we try to do. We do eight to ten 25s in heats. This usually takes about 25 minutes to half an hour. We’ll go one heat every 25 seconds, 1×25 every 2:30. They must be fast, preferably within half a second to a second of your seasonal best. We do it once free a week, one specializing. We try to do it early in the practice because that way they’re not too tired.

The next set that I have, we do six sets of 8x25s on :45, swim six, rest two at 100 race pace and believe it or not, this set they eat this up. They go really, really fast and this is a way to tell your swimmers if you have let’s say a boy who wants to go 1:05 on a breaststroke and they’re going :22 per 25, you can quietly tell them that :22 is not fast enough. You need to be :16 on the 25s, that’s just the way it is. But again I know that this is a sprint-oriented thing. I’m just trying to help you with the sprint things.

These are some things that I think work; just my opinion, okay. Next we’re on to a specialty set, you know, this is more aerobic. This might be long and boring but sometimes we do this. Four 200s descend one to four, eight 100s, three 200s, six 100s, you can read it and our sea cycle is for the breaststrokers. All repeats are descending and again as Michael Brook’s said yesterday, you know, they do 3000, you know, for their backstrokers so that made me feel good.

Next set we do a lot of training for the 100s stroke and this is kind of, like a pattern if you will. We’ll start off the season maybe 8x50s on 1:15, that should be 1:15, 2:30 yes and again we start from both ends of the pool. So you’re going the fast one. The next time we do it you’re getting more rest and we’re doing more so we’re expecting speed. We’re building up through the season and then we’re coming back down for the season. You can do that free. You can do that breaststroke. You can do it anything but again they have to be fast on those.

The next one we do breaststrokers do a lot of breaststroke pull. I know when I swam many centuries ago, we did this and [indiscernible] [00:45:15] who used to coach Northwestern, they had a swimmer Mike Alexandroff who’s really, really fast. They would do like, 2000 pull breaststroke that’s kind of, reinforced what we try to do. So we also do some combination work where we might do a head up pull. We might do two pull outs with paddles and we might end up doing breaststroke pull with the dolphin kicking fins, just anything to get their feel for what we’re trying to do. And then Friday, we might do a reference set which they really enjoy after a long week. But there are several ways of doing this. We might do 15x100s, let’s say starting off on, you know, I’m going to use the B cycle, we might be 1:07. Then rest a minute, then 10x100s on 1:05, rest 1:30 then five 100s on 1:02 and you can do other variations. You can do 200s that way. You can do 50s that way.

Next one, this is just some things that I’ve tried. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong but many times in the high school season we have swimmers that have to swim back to back events and it makes sense to me, even though physiologically you shouldn’t do this, that you should train for those events. Couple of years ago we had some breaststrokers that I felt were going to score at the state meet. But we were going to rely on these swimmers to swim the 400 free relay. So I really felt one day a week they were going to do some impossible, crazy breaststroke freestyle set. So I would have one of my volunteers come in, work with these two individuals and as a result I called this type of set ‘Ben and Bobbies’ but in a day we would do a 50 breast, a 75 free, 2x50s, you can read. So on and so on and they would have to be all fast and I wanted the freestyle to be something longer than the breaststroke because that’s what they were going to face at the end of the year. Well, both those guys ended up going 58 57. They were top six and they split 46 on the 400 free relay.

Now I know that’s unconventional but I thought it worked and then two years ago we had a boy go the 50 free in a relay, 100 back and a 400 free relay. He is still alive but we did the same thing with him and it really helped him out at the end of the year and in just my opinion, the more creative you are, the better your kids are going to swim.

And then the drills that we do; we have, you know, for freestyle catch up, 12 kicks and switch, one arm opposite, back man, backstrokes, six kicks and switch, “L” drill, TEacup, spin the drill, double arm, or fly, catch up, right left both, both, angel, double underwater pull through, one arm, breaststroke kick, full breath, pull kick glide, right left both both, one arm breaststroke, cobras and spear kick and after watching Nort, I happened to watch that for like 10 minutes yesterday. There were like, five that I picked up there that we’ll probably add. And then at the end, I’ve got some of our assistants again. You’re only as good as your assistant coach is. Chris Hackenbomer, Tony [indiscernible] [00:48:22], Estian Lee, Brian [indiscernible] [00:48:24], Bob [indiscernible] [00:48:24] and Ridge [indiscernible] [00:48:25].

I think what I’ll do if it’s okay, if you like questions for like two or three minutes, and then I’ll start the next talk if that’s fair.

Mike Adams: No, our high school boys’ season will start like, November 20th and we end last week in February. Yes.
Mike Adams: No, girls are going on right now and boys are afterwards and I believe the reason would be because the limited facilities we have in Illinois that if we did both boys and girls at the same time, the club teams would have no pools and it would be a disaster, but that’s my opinion. Yes, sir.
New Speaker: Did you do anything, like in your kind of, meeting schedule to distinguish between your kids who are [Inaudible] [00:49:15] developmental kids that we talked about having them [indiscernible] [00:49:18] program? Do you treat them differently at all when they’re younger and less experienced?
Mike Adams: It depends who they are. We have some real beginner kids that would be like in seven and eight. We have some kids coming up that can immediately kind of, get in the next like, six, five, four, three and it depends on who they are and what their background is. But we do have some real beginner kids. They wouldn’t be anything close to this. It would be something, you know, they might be doing 100s on two minutes.
New Speaker: But they still go on the same schedule?
Mike Adams: No, no, no… good question. You don’t have to go mornings to be on our team. You can just come single afternoons. There is no problem with that. But if you’re going to compete at the state level, there might be some mornings that you have to do and you bring up an excellent point. Some swimmers can’t handle what we do and so we work on a schedule that the coach knows, the swimmer knows so that we’re all on the same page. So and I’m going to get into something else that kind of, addresses that on the second part of the talk.

New Speaker: Your kids on your team, when they’re on club teams, are they working out with those club teams [inaudible] [00:50:32]?
Mike Adams: No, in our state you must swim with the high school program. If you choose to swim with your club then you’re not swimming high school during the season. Okay, I think in our case it works pretty well because the boys that are going to these other meets at the end of the season, they have a lot left in the tank so it works both ways but there’re not too many kids in Illinois that do not swim high school. There are some but most do not.
New Speaker: When you do weights, you said it goes Monday to Thursday, it goes in the afternoon?
Mike Adams: Yes, it’s Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
New Speaker: And so are they in the water [inaudible] [00:51:20]
Mike Adams: When we’re done we go 3:30 to 5:30 and then we’re in the weight room 5:45 to 6:45 and I’m going to go into that in the second part of the talk as far as what we try to do in the weight room.
New Speaker: Would you ever allow a swimmer to swim at the state level if they were unable to make those 25
Mike Adams: You know, we’ve never really had that issue. The way it works my first year coaching the team, we might have had five people going mornings, okay. Now we have about 25 to 30 go mornings. I’m pretty understanding, but I don’t want to be taken advantage of. So I want to say maybe our third year we had a boy… he really didn’t want to swim okay. He really was pulling all kinds of fast ones. He didn’t want to do mornings. It was like, as good as you are we’ll miss you so we were top ten instead of a top five team… that’s the only but that was extenuating circumstances, that wasn’t really… most of the kids, they don’t want to miss practice. I can’t explain that, you know, they don’t want to miss and if they’re sick sometimes I have to send them home.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sponsorship & Partnerships

Official Sponsors and Partners of the American Swimming Coaches Association

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe and get the latest Swimming Coach news