Introduction: What I want to do now is quickly present to you our guest speaker. Most of you know his tremendous swimming accomplishments to this point. Multi Gold Medalists in 1996 Olympics and probably one of the best collegiate and USS swimmers that we’ve seen in many many years. Aside from that, Josh is what I consider to be a great role model, a great teacher and communicator. I was fortunate enough to have him come in and work some of our camps at Northwestern last summer.
It was amazing the affect he had on eight year olds and sixteen year olds, and my collegiate swimmers and staff. It was a wonderful experience for us. Just having him at one practice had a profound effect on some of my athletes. I wish I could have him back more often.
Ed Reese told me just today, he said one of the greatest things he could say about Josh is that if each of us could have one athlete like a Josh Davis in our program, all of our athletes and our team as a whole would be much much better as a result. I think that’s a tremendous compliment.
I also know that he has a family now. He has one child and another one on the way, and I’m sure that is a very vital part of his life right now. But, it is my pleasure to present to you Josh Davis.
Josh Davis: Thanks Jimmy. I have one more video on the 400 relay from the Atlanta Olympics, would you all like to watch that one more time. OK, good. Zip through this real quick. Now, this is right here in Atlanta, the 400 free style relay going up against the Russians. We got up from our nap that afternoon and the coaches told me I was going to be second. The Russians were going to try and lead off and get an insurmountable lead to crush our spirit. Guess who was going second for them? Popoff. So, I got real nervous then. But, like I said, we were so excited, because this relay is one of the most wonderful relays in the tradition US has is amazing.
John Olsen is leading us off and as a captain, and an experienced veteran of Olympic situations, we thought it was best to have him lead off. You know, to give us a nice lead off. But, the crowd of fifteen thousand folks, the largest crowd ever assembled for a swim meet, it was just extremely exciting.
The order of our relay was John Olsen was first, I was second, Brad Schumacker was third, and then Gary was going to anchor us. The Russian’s had a nice lead off with one of their top sprinters. He was about forty nine eight, and he’s got the lead right now. I think John was forty nine nine. It was just a nice solid relay lead off. We started to get a little bit worried because we like to be ahead the whole way. But, all I was focusing on was nailing the relay start and spinning my arms as fast as I could.
We all touch about the same. Thankfully, with all of my experience in high school and college relays, my relay starts are pretty good. I’m out in about twenty three 0 at the feet and come back at twenty six 0. I had a forty nine point zero zero relay split. You notice, Popoff right above me, how smooth he looks. I’m thinking it looks like I’m taking twice as many strokes as he is. He splits like forty seven point seven. He looks like he’s out for a Sunday swim. The German guy below me, he six six or six seven, and so they pull just slightly ahead of us.
Next goes Brad Schumacker. The water polo player turned swimmer. The guy below Brad Schumacker is the German guys twin brother, who’s also six seven. They were a lot of fun to be next to. But, right now the Russians are a body length ahead, with only a hundred fifty to go, and we weren’t sure what was going to happen. We were pretty nervous. Like I said, we’ve never lost this relay and we didn’t want to lose it now. But, Brad, his relay split was his life time best also, forty nine point zero one. Russia probably thought they had it.
Gary Hall nailed his relay start and immediately catches up with the Germans. At twenty five he’s already caught up with Russians and is ahead. Right now, you are witnessing the fastest a human has ever traveled through the water. When he dove in, at thirty five meters, he’s a body length ahead. When he turns over and touches his feet on the wall, he hits his feet in twenty one point eight seconds on the feet, twenty one point eight. So, I think technically that’s probably the fastest a human has ever traveled through the water, his first fifty meters. It doesn’t matter what you come home in when you go out in twenty one point eight. We’re over a body length ahead of the Russians. No worries now. We’re jumping up and down on deck. Real excited, the crowd is going crazy. He reaches forward just missing the world record, keeping the streak alive. Another gold medal for the United States.
That’s probably the best introduction I could do. That was one of my best swims of my life and a great time. There is nothing like representing the United States of America in the Olympic Games or in any international competition. I’ve been fortunate enough to do that several times. I just so happen to bring one of the Olympic medals with me, in case you all hadn’t seen one. It’s kind of fun to see all the Gold, and what an Olympic medal looks like. Just a little piece of trivia. This is the gold medal from the 400 free relay, and this is the hundredth gold medal won by the United States Men’s swimming, at the hundredth year of the modern Olympic Games. So, you all can just pass that back and anybody who wants to see, just don’t drop it since it is twenty two karat gold, and twenty two’s kind of soft. It’s kind of a kick to see all that gold.
I’m awful excited to be in front of you today. My hope is that this talk will be informative, insightful, and more importantly, my hope is that this talk will be relevant.
The title of the talk on the program is talking about the Olympics and the World Champs, and obviously the Olympic experience in Atlanta was great. It was a dream come true. More than I could ever hope for. I was very fortunate to not only get the 800 free relay gold medal, the 400 free relay gold medal, but because I was one one hundredth faster than Brad Schumacker, like I mentioned, I got awarded to swim prelims for Gary in the medley and get a third gold medal.
I’m awful glad that I listened to my coaches growing up through the years. That I streamlined tight, that I worked on my relay starts, worked on my turns, and worked on my stroke. Because if I wasn’t one one hundredth faster than Brad, I might not have got to be on that relay and be the only guy to get three gold’s. So, I always tell that story to the kids that you have to work on your streamlines, you have to think about your technique, and you have to work hard. Because you never know when you’re going to find yourself where the coaches are going to choose you or some somebody else. But, like I said, my hope is that this talk will be relevant, about how my stories and advice can be relevant to you.
I was thinking of some synonyms for the word relevant: applicable, timely, useful, productive they may or may not be new. I got overwhelmed when I looked at all the resources of the different talks that this convention has produced. I’m like, oh my gosh, I mean, what more can I add to what.. what a great convention, and great speakers there are. But, maybe some of my stories can help. Being an athlete already, or right now, maybe I offer a different perspective.
Webster says that relevant means related to the matters at hand. This is sort of what I want to talk about today, my career, my highlights and development, so you know where I’m coming from. I also want to talk briefly about Christianity Sports. Is it possible to put the two together. That’s a big part of my life and a big part of my success. Maybe some of you would be interested in hearing about that. Thirdly, I wanted to briefly, talk about some concerns of mine with US swimming from an athletes perspective and how they affect you as coaches. Finally, you know just conclusions and questions. I would like to have a lot of time for discussion and questions.
Briefly, just talking about my career, the stuff I really want to mention is my first sport was ballet when I was 5 years old. I usually don’t admit that. But, I had a good time. I was the only guy in class of fifty girls. I only did that a year. I immediately got into all the other sports. I’m very thankful that I did a lot of sports. It gave me a lot of coordination and a lot of athlete skill that carried over when I committed myself to swimming at thirteen.
I was very blessed to have great coaching immediately at thirteen, with a club in San Antonio, it use to be called Alma Heights Aquatic Club. My first great coach, was a man named Jim Yates. He really emphasized to me technique and a lot of little things besides training hard that really make a great athlete. I was very fortunate in high school to have worked on my turns, and my starts, and started lifting weights, and a lot of other things that made the transition to college real smooth.
Obviously, you know my college coaches, Edie and Chris, I’m living a dream. This is my ninth year training with Edie and Chris. I love my job, I put myself under their authority and their guidance and it’s gone great.
In the summers, as some of you all know, I represented the Athletes in Action Swim Club. There are some great college coaches who have really had an impact on my life in the summers. I’ve never had a bad summer when I trained with Athletes in Action at the high altitude. We get several great coaches to come over and help our Athletes in Action program in the summer. I’ve listed them: Casey Converse, Doctor Freeze, Jim and Jim, and Coach Garverson who’s a high school coach in LA, use to be the USC assistant. Obviously there’s been San Antonio coaches who have helped me when I go back there to train and who I trained with for a little bit in high school. Just to round off my coaches.
I want to mention to you what I think makes a great coach. I just listed these things: enthusiastic, a person of integrity, they’re a student of the sport, they’re optimistic, they believe in their athlete, they believe for the best, they’re consistent, (you know not manipulative just very consistent), they’re genuine, and they have balanced life style. All the best coaches that I’ve run into have a balanced life style. Their family, their work, their play; they keep a balance.
I came across this quote, and this guy’s book, Mr. Hogg, the best coach is still the one who works the hardest. They love the sport and they display a genuine concern for their athletes and they do whatever they can to support them in their goals.
At thirteen was when I really started to commit myself to swimming. Until that time I had just done summer league. But I immediately would tape swimming whenever it was on TV, I would watch it all the time. I’d watch tapes of Mat Biondi all the time and try to be like him. I still do that today. Matt Biondi was one of my first swimming heroes. Since Georgio Lamberti has the world record in the 200 free, the best event in the world. He’s my hero. Gary Hall, Jr., he’s my hero in swimming. The guy is beautiful in the water.
My new hero is Lenny Krayzelberg. I love watching Lenny on deck. He’s got the perfect balance of what I call swagger and humility. He knows he’s going to win the race. Nobody’s going to beat him, nobody’s going to come close. But, he’ll approach anybody, and he’ll talk to anybody, and you can talk to him right up until the race. He’s so approachable and humble. But, he knows he’s going to win. So, he’s got that balance of confidence and humility that I love to watch and of course, he’s beautiful in the pool and he’s the best backstroker in the world now.
I think it’s important to have heroes. My heroes in my life are of course, my dad, Eddie Reese and Chris Cubic. I’ve been very fortunate to be around those guys. Not just because they’ve been there for me as a coach, but they’re also father figures for me, and I feel very blessed to have that. A lot of people say, what do you attribute your success to. Well, I just listed them real quick. Why I get to do what I do, why I’m still in the National team at twenty six, why I’ve done anything good in my life. Because I think GOD has given me ultimately everything I have and of course, my parents and my coaches.
I played in the summer league meets, at age twelve and thirteen. Yes Sir that’s right, I didn’t start till I was twelve. I couldn’t do butterfly or breaststroke till I was thirteen.
At thirteen I trained for a couple months so I could make the high school team and I made the high school team immediately. The rest is kind of history. My background was that I loved the water. I spent most of my time underwater, playing Superman or just hanging out underwater. Actually I was a pretty good diver off the board. I have a pretty good gainer with a cannon ball.
I was pretty good, since my birthday is September 1st, I’m young for my grade. So for a while I was a bigger kid on the younger teams. I did pretty good in other sports. But I was about thirteen years old when all these other guys started their growth spurts. I’m a late bloomer, they started their growth spurts earlier. The pitchers started pitching it real fast in baseball, and in basketball I wasn’t really that tall. I couldn’t do pole vault that well, in high school. So, swimming was a natural choice. I figured that was my best shot to do a sport full time in high school, and to be around my friends. And, sure enough, that’s what it was.
I did a lot of playing around, I rode my bike everywhere. I must have ridden my bike five hours a day, when I was a kid. Maybe that was my aerobic base, to ride my bike.
Like I said, I trained for a couple of months when I was thirteen, that summer. The summer before my freshman year, and that was enough training to help my qualify for the Varsity squad. I was just real fortunate, I just dove right into doubles my freshman year at fourteen. I saw a tremendous improvement; it was like daily. I could feel myself getting fitter and stronger and my stroke getting better. But, I set goals all the time, I was writing stuff down all the time. I was writing stuff down, I was going to be the fastest freshman ever. Then, you know, break the school record the next year. Get the state record my junior year. Get the national record my senior year. I was dreaming and writing stuff down all the time.
I’m glad I did those sports when I was little. I really believe I’ve been given a gift, a little feel for the water. You know, you come across swimmers, most of them have a feel for the water above and beyond the rest of the population. I was kind of a weird kid, I didn’t like pain I loved it. I just like the rush, the second wind, when your body is screaming to stop and you break through that barrier. I live for that.
Of course, I have to mention my wonderful sponsors who make it all possible, Speedo and the others. Speedo is really the best sponsor a guy could have, they are a great company. They take very good care of me.
Briefly I just want to talk over some of my history, my career highlights. My first team was in ’89, with the junior team. It’s very exciting for those of you who have put an athlete on the junior team. You know, it’s just a huge boost for them. That was my first taste of international competition and I knew I wanted more. If you ever get a chance to let an athlete make that team, you should let them go.
Olympic Festival is similar, it gives them the taste of that national international flavor that they want more. Of course my freshman year was ’91, we won. That was awesome. It was at Austin too. So, that made it even more fun to win at home. I have had a lot of NCAA, all four NCAA’s. I made my first national A team in ’93 with the Pan Pacs, number six. That was my big breakthrough year. I went from fortieth in the world to fourth in the world in the two hundred free.
Basically what I did that summer and that year was a lot of stroke work, and a lot of aerobic work. As you know hind sight is always 20-20 and I analyzed what I did. I’ll be talking about that later, aerobic work and stroke work.
I’ve had fun on all my trips and all those coaches on those trips have had a big impact on me, whether they know it or not. I really appreciate all the coaches that have taken a month out of their schedule to be with us as a national team. To work with us, support us, it really makes a big difference.
The last two years have been kind of interesting. I’ve spent a lot of time traveling. I haven’t spent all that much time in the pool. Eddie Reese is telling me that it’s time to work. We’re two years away from the next Olympics. It was interesting though, I was confused, because ’97, the year after the Olympics, at first I was confused because in Pan Pacs in ’97 I did all life time bests in all of my events at twenty four years old, a year after the Olympics. I was twenty three 0 in the fifty. I didn’t get to swim the hundred, but I know I could have done well in that. I was forty eight one in the two hundred, faster than at the Olympics. 200 IM I was two 0 two point nine, a two second drop. The two hundred back I was two double 0 seven, another two second drop.
I was like, man I should skip work more often. But, what Eddie told me, he may have mentioned this before, his rocket ship theory. That you train hard from ’91 ’92 ’93 ’94, especially ’95, and you’re training hard all those years. In ’96 you peak at the Olympics, and that rockets going up. Well, ’97 I hardly swam at all. But the rocket, just like in space, was still going up. Because of all the base training I had done. In ’98 I had to make a decision. Am I going to keep skipping and doing other things, or am I going to get back in the pool and build that base back up. Well, I tried to build that base back up, I didn’t think I had enough time to so ’98 was a little frustrating.
So I have a little bit of a base from ’98, and now the rest of ’98 and ’99 is about turning the nose of the rocket back up and paying the piper, and putting the hay back in the barn. To prepare for the Pan Pacs in ’99, this is what I’ve done over the years.
I thought this might be interesting, some of you may have some age groupers. When I was fourteen as a freshman that’s just all I did was swim. You know, I realized that I wanted to get faster in swimming I needed to swim. I focused on technique and training. Or what I call finesse and fitness. You have to learn how to finesse your way through the water, and you have to be fit. I used all those things like video feedback, peer critique, stroke work. I started doubles immediately as a freshman, my first year of swimming.
Jim Yates was my first coach, and Al Marks was my high school coach, and of course Eddie and Chris. There’s a guy, a buddy of mine from the University of Santa Barbara, UC Santa Barbara named Monty Ziparabar. Try to say that last name fast five times. Monty Ziparabar, he’s one of the greatest assistant coaches that’s helped me a lot.
My freshman year and sophomore year when I was fifteen, I started lifting. Sort of the concept of shock your body, break the muscles down and make them bigger. That’s when I had my big breakthrough from one forty four to one thirty nine. We won the Texas meet, which is kind of fun. My third year, my junior year, I got into visualization. It was invaluable in my race preparation.
Lifting took me to a new level. But, mental preparation took me to another level, also. My coach Jim Yates took us through, you know, you have all the literature out there you just got to take your athletes through it. Take time to do it, that’s what we did. I have those habits ingrained now. I can get in a race, a steady, a state, ready to race real easily now.
My senior year, I realized the importance of sleep. Basically my senior year I got mono in the month of November. One of the key training months for any high school or college. I got mono that whole month, I had to sit out for thirty days. But, all I did was sleep. But not only did it help me recover from my sickness, but it gave me so much more energy to go right back into training. Sleep is just wonderful.
Gary Hall was my roommate, the month of the Olympics. I realized there is a direct relationship between speed and sleep. All Gary does is sleep. Maybe there’s other reasons for that, I don’t know. All I know is I can take a lesson from that, and that sleep is very important. A key to achieving peak speed, is having your energy stored and your sleep banks full.
When I got to college, I realized what real pain was. When I started drylands. We use to do stuff at Texas, putting wheels on our knees and climbing up ramps, with just our hands. Climbing ropes with no feet. Doing jumping up the stadiums. Talk about shock your body that will take you to a new level.
My sophomore year in college, was pretty much when I had a spiritual turn around, and Christianity became extremely important to me in my life. I started to apply it to my sport. It made all the difference in the world. So, I just categorize that as prayer. It consists of a lot of things though. Like applying Biblical principles to my sport, not just on Sunday morning. It actually gave purpose to my swimming in my life. It gave me clarity and thought. It actually gave me the strength to do the right thing.
As a freshman and sophomore in college I needed the strength to do the right thing. If you know what I’m saying. My junior year was my awesome year. I really believe it was because I choose to stretch for forty five minutes every day, after afternoon workout. Because, I felt so good after that forty five minute stretch and I was so better prepared for the next day. I had an edge on everybody I thought, that wasn’t stretching also. You know, with flexibility comes endurance. With endurance you can go longer at a faster rate. It actually helps you heal faster.
The thing about stretching, when you go into the weight room and you break muscles down, you know by lifting weights, and the muscle grows back. You make the muscle bigger. But, if you don’t stretch your contraction is still only like this. But if you have a bigger muscle cell and you make it longer by stretching, there’s more power in that contraction. There’s not much power in a small contraction. There’s a lot of power in a big contraction. It’s like when you’re trying to punch somebody, and they’re only a foot from you, you never get the full power. But, when you can go all the way, there’s a lot of power. So, you’ve got to stretch that muscle out to get the maximum contraction out of that muscle. So, actually the most flexible guys, are actually the most powerful.
I’m real big into massage. Basically because it feels real good. But it does help get the toxins out. The year before the Olympics was one of my toughest years, ’95. I was a fifth year, I was off the team. They took my scholarship away because they found out I accepted prize money. Which is OK, the prize money was more than the scholarship anyway, so I wasn’t too worried about it. But, I was working a job, going to school, training full time, and I got engaged. So, I was pretty stressed out. What worked though, was I got married, so we finally moved in together. I quit my job and I took off school. All I did was train, spend time with my wife and read this nutrition book. It really changed my life.
Nutrition became a big big part of my life and very important to my training. I call it hidden training. Sleep and nutrition are the hidden components, hidden training components that a lot of people fail to develop. All the reading I’ve ever done, and all the things I’ve ever done, I’ve narrowed it down to four deals. I thought that was pretty good, to narrow it down to four tips. Of all the things I do for nutrition and obviously I keep my sanity by having deserts and practice moderation on everything. But, I try and stick to those.
This last year, I started to go see a chiropractor because my back goes out once a year, that’s helped. All right, we’re moving along. I wanted to just share that for your interest.
This is what I wanted to camp on for a long time, well not too long, what I wanted to talk about. Like I said, I got to turn the rocket ship back up. I’ve had enough time to spend with my family, making babies, traveling and speaking, now it’s time to get back to work.
My goal for this season is to build the engine block bigger. What I mean by that is aerobic work. Eddie gave a talk last year, basically I can sum it up in the importance of stroke work and aerobic work. I’m just going to, you know tail off that, and agree with him and say that’s my goal for this year, to do a lot of stroke work and a lot of aerobic work and obviously have fun.
These are my three tips that I give to my swimmers at all my clinics finesse, fitness, and fun. So I am going to practice my own advice. I forgot to mention that the book I use to keep perspective and how to be the best athlete I can be, is this book right here: Real Joy Why To Be A Christian In The World of Sport. I had it down at our booth at the ultimate technique meet, it’s only five dollars. I’ll talk a little bit about that later. But, that’s a pretty good deal, I thought, a book for only five dollars.
So, these are my ABC’s of goals, getting ready for the next Olympics. Swim, stretch, sleep, those are the best things I can do to prepare my body for a record swim, a gold medal swim. Stroke work is obviously very important. I like to use examples of other athletes. The Australians, they’ve got beautiful strokes, and they do a lot of aerobic base building. Eddie and I and my other buddy Monty have been talking about doing a lot of training and never letting my heart rate go over one forty. I talk about it under aerobic work. Key words that I’m going to use is to go faster with a lower heart rate. Do high quality, but with a low heart rate. Which is very difficult for me, because I love to race. I love to win everything in practice. I love to go out, whenever I can. But, I think to build my engine block better, bigger, to get stronger, I’ve got to control myself a little bit.
I think, for example, a one forty heart rate, you know would be better for me to build the block bigger. So, the words I use are easier and faster. Go easier but go faster. I don’t want to use the words go harder or go slower. For example, the coach gives me three parameters, and I have to follow these parameters: the distance, the interval, and the heart rate. I get to decide the other two. My strokes per lap, my distance per stroke. Then my time, or my speed on the set. But, I have to maintain those three parameters. Now, maybe this is or isn’t new to you, but this is going to be something new to me and I’m really excited about it, to control myself even more.
There’s some sample goal sets that I’ve put up here. So that you get what I’m saying. For example, I do five two hundreds on the three minutes. The first hundred meter I just go a one thirty, that’s so easy. Just swim it in one thirty, that’s like totally slow. But, then the second hundred I flip, and I do the second hundred in say fifty five. Which is kind of hard to do mid-season, so I put fifty eight in parenthesis. I try to get as close to a one forty heart rate as possible, that’s key. So the next couple two hundreds maybe I go out in one twenty. Or the next time I do the set, I go out in one twenty come back fifty five. Couple weeks later, I do the set again, I go out in one ten come back fifty five. Couple weeks later, go out at one 0 five come back in fifty five. Then, I know I’m ready.
When I can do five two hundreds like that, going out in one 0 five, with a one forty heart rate, then I know I’m ready. Another sample set might be twenty fifty’s on the minute. You subtract, five seconds from that interval. But, I’m holding twenty six point five fifty meter free styles. When I can go repeats of fifty’s on the forty seconds, holding twenty six point five, then I know I’m ready. But, the key is one forty heart rate. That’s what obviously Georgio Lamberti and Dave Wharton did on their record swims. He was able to go out in a fifty two point four, obviously he had to have been about a one forty heart rate. That’s the only way you can come back in fifty four point two seconds. Which is unbelievable to me. I don’t know how anybody did that. But, it’s possible. I’ve got to control myself, you know, and monitor my heart rate a little bit more and work on my aerobic base.
Obviously I have to strive for perfect technique, or none of this will be possible. To the right, I put my goal times. Georgio Lamberti is just under six feet tall and obviously a beautiful stroke, but I’m almost six three, I figure maybe.. maybe I can do this.. these times on the right.
I’ve got a lot of easy speed, I can go out in twenty five 0 any day. Easy, that’s the key, is to do it easy. Come back, go twenty seven two. Then that’s the trick, is to come back fifty four point three. That would give me a one forty six five. So, that’s my goal to do that time in the next eight years some time. It would be nice to do it in Australia, and beat those Aussies. But, even at the very worse, I come back in fifty five three and I still get Biondi’s American record. I just feel like that record’s too old.
We need more American’s going one forty seven. We got a lot of other people around the world doing it. I need to do it too. Dave Wharton’s IM record recently renewed my enthusiasm for the IM. I use to train for it in college. Took some years off, now I feel like I may have a shot at doing some more best times in it. This is Yanni’s splits in the world record swim you saw on TV. Twenty six one, thirty one O backstroke, that’s about right. Oh no this is Dave Wharton, I’m sorry. What he did, he broke the record on his last fifty: twenty seven seven. That’s a beautiful last fifty, for an IM. So, he went double O one. I can go out in twenty five five, pretty easy, thirty point five.
The trick is breaststroke. I have to start sitting on my ankles, or something, to find out how to go thirty six breast stroke. My fastest split ever has been thirty eight. All the world ranked breast strokers go thirty three thirty four, thirty five at the worse. So, at my very best I hope I can go thirty six. Then it shouldn’t be too much trouble to come back in twenty eight. It looks so easy on paper, it’s another thing doing it.
I think the whole key to all these swims, is to find a way at the hundred to be at a one forty heart rate. So, that’s my goal. Is to build my engine block bigger so that I can have half way through my races, I’m just getting’ going. You know, like the way you look at NASCAR racing. You have this beautiful car, with all the bells and whistles. You have the new tires, and you have the sleek frame, and it’s ready to go. All those cars are about the same. You know, they’re all ready to go. But how do you go faster? All you can do is get the engine bigger. You know, once you’ve got all the streamlined stuff there, you just need a whole new bigger engine block. You can get a new big engine.
I think I’ve got it down, how to put the bells and whistles on. I know how to taper, I know how to work on my technique. I have pretty got starts and turns. What I need to do now, is get my engine block bigger. Get stronger, get an aerobic base that will take me to the next level. So, maybe I’m making myself kind of vulnerable, by putting my goals out like that and telling you what I need to do. But, with two kids and a wife to feed, it will be challenging, but I’m up to the challenge. So, I hope that was relevant to you.
I want to switch gears a little bit from my career development and my goals for these next two years to something else. Like I said before, my goal is to be relevant to coaches and athletes. Someone once wrote to be always relevant you have to say things which are eternal. That caught my eye when I read that, I thought, yeah, that’s probably true. Because, it’s good to talk about eternal things.
There are three eternal things: GOD, the Bible and the souls of you and me just people. I came across this quote on truth, whenever you start talking about religion or Christianity truth comes up, and you’re always wondering, you know, what is truth. The truth is ever fresh, but at the same time truth is never the same. It does not change. We do not look for new truth, but for the truth to constantly make itself heard and new.
I want to talk about what motivates me as a pro swimmer. First I love swimming. I took a quote from Phil, in his book, he’s got a great book by the way, swimming is really the best sport in the world, no doubt about it, and for those of you, obviously you know, you agree with me. Hopefully you get to swim on your own and not just stand on deck. You know how refreshing and how wonderful swimming is. Number two, I need to provide for and feed my wife and kids. Number three, I’m a steward, I’ve been given a wonderful gift and it’s my job to develop that gift. I absolutely love wearing red white and blue, and representing the USA.
I feel it is my responsibility to communicate to the swimming community clearly, what GOD has said and done. In a sense, I’m kind of like a swimming missionary. There are missionaries all over the world in all sorts of areas and mine is the swimming community. There are lots of other motivators in the world, like pride, money, fame or recognition and some people stick to sports simply to fill a void. But, I don’t do it for any of those reasons.
Although, those are powerful reasons and many world records and great things have been done by those motivations; I don’t think they are the right motivations. I just put this paragraph together, what I’m about it, and why I stick in the sport and why I do the things I do. Where I there’s anything good in my life, if I’ve been able to make any right decisions, where that comes from.
You know, as a Christian I’ve been given wonderful gifts. In a sense, GOD has given me these things on loan, as a steward. I’m called to account of how I’ve invested those things and how I spend my time and how I develop those gifts. Basically I’m called to pursue excellence in all areas of my life. I’ll be the first to tell you I fall short all the time. But, nevertheless, I’m called to pursue excellence. In conclusion, I’m not going to talk about hell, or homosexuality, or anything like that. The Bible is very clear on those things.
I will tell you this, that if you neglect or discourage the spiritual development of yourself, or your swimmers it is impossible to reach your potential. We’re three dimensional beings: physical, mental, spiritual. The core of our being is our spiritual side. It’s actually the most important part, because it’s the very core. It’s where everything else flows out of and if we fail to develop that side, we’re never going to reach our potential. I believe that if we develop that spiritual foundation along with the physical and mental, like we do so well, like you do so well as coaches, it will produce a greater number of well-rounded athletes who deceive less, cheat less, work harder, and give back more. Thus, keeping the USA in the sport of swimming, the best in the world.
Those are just my thoughts on that. There’s a lot of problems in our society, in the world. There’s even some problems in our sport. I think that a lot of those problems are due to a spiritual route, or a spiritual problem a moral problem. For example, prejudice, lying, cheating, adultery, addiction, drugs, drunkenness, breaking the code of conduct on the national team. You know, the problems we face. You know, these are all moral issues.
When someone has a spiritual foundation, or more specifically the spirit of GOD within them directing their lives, then they have the strength to do the right thing and it alleviates the problem. But, of course, it all starts with one person, then a family and then the swimming community or America.
When one person you know, decides to turn their life around, or one family turns their life around, the whole country is eventually affected. Like I said before, I’m going to make a plug for my friend Ashley Knowles’ book, which is the greatest book I’ve ever read on how to get athletes to keep a prospective in life and in sport. To actually apply Biblical principles to their sport so that they’re three dimension, well rounded athletes people and they can achieve their very best.
I’d like to read a quote from his book, some folks today think that spiritual matters are as compatible with sports as fire is with ice. You put fire and ice together and they will destroy each other. The fire will turn the ice into water, and the water will put out the fire. Put GOD and sports together, according to many coaches, and religious faith will destroy an athletes competitive edge, or competitive drive. Put GOD and sports together according to many ministers, and athletic success will only teach the believer to think HE is more important than GOD. The truth is, GOD and sports not only can go together, they need to go together. Only developing the spirit and the body together, can bring out the best in each. Athletes must have the spiritual strength to hold on to their athletic dreams through all the hard times they must endure to one day be the best, the very best. The discipline and focus learned in the sport of swimming can be an invaluable help in following GOD. The spirit and swimming each fire a passion for each other. So, there is a way to balance both of them. And, for five bucks, this may be the best investment.
Next I want to talk about some of the concerns, for coaches, about the balance in your programs of finesse and fitness. Some coaches are very good at stroke technique, but may be need to work on building an aerobic base. Some coaches are very good at designing a program to build an aerobic base, but maybe neglect the finesse. Teaching their kids good technique. I don’t know how a coach can let a swimmer go down with technique, it drives me bezerko. So maybe I fail to learn about or to teach about how to design an aerobic based program. That’s why I’m excited to apply myself to an aerobic base.
But, I think you need to strive for a balance with finesse and fitness. I wanted to initiate some discussion about the degeneration of foundational qualities in young people today: hard work ethic, honesty, loyalty. Maybe you’ve noticed as a coach over the past decades that these foundational qualities have begun to degenerate. Maybe some of the stuff that we talked about earlier about combining faith and sports can alleviate some of those problems. Finally, I wanted to initiate a discussion about coaches and the future of swimming; specifically professional swimming. How athletes and coaches and what the dynamics will look like in the future; in the near future. I’m extremely excited as the co-captain of the team to bring along a lot of my athletes to get with the coaches, specifically with ASCA, and that we can come together and follow you as coaches in doing the job that you all have done so well for years; in getting to the forefront key issues.
Working with or against, whatever the case may be. Working with FINA to make this sport better. I’m real excited to work with the coaches. I know a lot of the athletes I’ve talked to, they’re real excited, also to come together. Athletes and coaches together, as an alliance, to make the sport better.
There’s a lot of things that FINA does well and maybe there’s some things we can help them do better. I think when the coaches and the athletes form an alliance, there will be a lot more negotiating power. I was real excited to read John Leonard’s latest newsletter because this is exactly what the athletes talk about when we get serious. You know, about making the sport drug free. About making it more participant centered. With athletes and coaches together at the center and athletes and coaching participating in government together, financial rewards to participants. Not just athletes, but coaches as well.
I love being a professional swimmer. Not just because I can provide for my family, but for the people I partner up with, it brings everybody up. They can generate some revenue also and that’s exciting. I don’t think we are in the sport because of the money. Obviously not. But, we do it because we love it. If we can make a little more on the way, that’s a beautiful thing. That’s what made America great. It’s called capitalism. When you pursue excellence and you become the best at what you do, you get rewarded for it. That’s only right and fair and good. That’s what made America great and I think we can take swimming to that next level. Where not just the athletes can get more rewards, but the coaches also.
We’ve done some exciting things as far as the clinic business. We’ve formed the ultimate technique meet slash clinic. Where we’ve taken the best of the benefits of a clinic and combined them with the excitement of a competition. Put it into one format that’s less than four hours long. Where I give a motivational talk, or one of our Olympians gives a motivational talk to the kids for twenty minutes and then immediately has a ten minute free style demonstration. All the kids, ages eight to eighteen or even older, they race a twenty five free or fifty free. Where they immediately apply the principals they just heard in the demonstration and they get a sanctioned time.
It’s a USS sanctioned meet and everybody loves to race. They get a sanctioned time in race. We immediately do the backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. So, they have a sanctioned time in each of the four strokes for twenty five or fifty. A perfect clinic slash meet, would generate up to a thousand dollars for the host club. This isn’t like a regular clinic, where the athlete comes in and the kids, the athletes and the staff are shot after three hours of maybe a relatively boring clinic. This is unique meet. Where we combine the best of both. So, that’s exciting what we’re doing there.
You’ll notice the video at our booth, we shot it at the Los Alamos pool in New Mexico, at their high altitude training facility. We had a great clinic there. You’ll notice on our video all the kids and parents testimonies and all the fun we had racing. What I really enjoy is going to the host pool and demonstrating and breaking an existing pool record. Then letting the kids race. They get real fired up after up that.
The first day of the Goodwill Games against Germany, maybe you saw on TV, is one of the worse days of my life. I was absolutely miserable. I went one fifty point eight against the German guy that touched me out. I should never have been beat by him and I was really depressed. One of the first times in my life I’ve been really depressed and to be honest I spent the next day and a half praying. Regaining perspective. Because my significance isn’t determined on my performance in the pool. Or what the time or place is on the board. So, I regained perspective and I also did stroke drills. I just realized I needed to fix my stroke. So I just did a lot of stroke drills to find an easier way to move through the water. I did a lot of fist drill. I did a lot of drills of focusing on, I don’t know if you understand what I’m saying. I try and keep my elbows high, keep my shoulder close to my chin, you know while rotating my hips more.
The Australians keep their elbows really high, they’re really good about that. I tried to do that. Two days later, after a lot of rest and prayer, I was ready to go. I dropped two seconds, went one forty eight point seven. I was very very happy but I can still make a lot of improvements on my stroke. But, I was was very encouraged.
I don’t know what to tell you, except prayer and stroke drills. You know, I was real thankful for that come back. Then against the Russians on the sixth day I went one forty nine going pretty easy. So, the stroke drills had helped.
I always train for the 400. My fifty has always been good. Even if I train for the 400 no matter how much time I spend in the distance lane, my fifty has always been good. I can always go twenty three two, twenty three one, twenty three 0. Ever since my freshman year in high school I started training for the 500 and basically that’s been the strategy ever since. It’s just real easy to come down. I love the 500 and 400 free. I didn’t put up my goals for the 400 free, I’ll try and surprise you all later, next Nationals. But I do need to train for it, regardless.
I’m the type of athlete that really enjoys racing. In fact, the more races I do over the course of a week, sometimes the better I get. Most of the time the better I get. So, I don’t see it as a problem. I put it together, if I make the team in the 200 free, the 200 IM, the 400 free relay, the 800 free relay, and prelims of the 400 medley relay that’s five races, five different events. I have actually one race every session. So, over the course of the seven days, I never have a double in one session. But, worst case scenario, Lord willing, that I just make the 200 free and the two or three relays again. Still, nothing will conflict. I’m fine with one swim per session. Any more than that you risk a little fatigue and sacrificing. I’m kind of excited about the semifinal format. I don’t mind racing all out every time. That’s basically what you’re going to do. It’s not like in track in field where you can see everybody and make sure you get first or second, or third or whatever it is. Maybe some races are going to be easy enough to do that but not many. So, it’s only going to be in our favor. Because American’s race so much, we get racing experience from college. A lot of us have a lot of depth and racing experience.
The last meal before a big race, I try and keep it real simple. Stuff that’s easy on my belly. You know, a little bit of pasta, a little bit of bread, bagels, cereal, veggies, fruits, lots of water. I want to be totally hydrated. I tell the guys and the kids in my clinic, you’re pee needs to be white. That means you know you’re ready to race. I basically stay away from fried foods, and you’re fine.
Most of the clinics and talks that I do, if I’m out of town and I need to fly, I try to make it in and out. You know, I say you have to fly me in and out. Preferably I don’t want to stay the night. If I get in eight to nine work outs a week, I feel I’m doing fine and usually I can do that. Sometimes I don’t work out with the University guys and I have to adjust and work out with the high school kids a little bit earlier or a little bit later. But, so far, I’ve balanced it pretty good.
I’ve had to hike up the cost of a talk, to eliminate some. You know, I need to train now and this is the year to train, ’98 and ’99. That’s the year when you build the base. It’s too late to work in 2000, that’s the fine tuning year. So, it is tough. To be honest it’s very difficult, my wife and I have discussions you know those kind, they’re not arguments. It’s OK to fight, as long as you fight fair, it is tough, it’s no easy way. It was tough balancing my schedule in college. But, just try and do the right thing. Just spend time with my wife and kids and train. If I do that, I’m fine. Everything else falls into place. I’ll have plenty of time for talks, you know, after the next Olympics.
When you’re heart rate is going up. I have a tendency to hold one eighty the whole practice. I have to really watch myself. So, I’ve never applied this myself. I know it’s worked for a lot of other athletes in other countries and a lot of athletes in our country. I think, you know, some of our great distance swimmers have used this. Just building an aerobic base, that is really aerobically fit, and everything else falls into place. Even their hundreds and two hundreds, you know. I just check my neck.
Maybe this is THE question we’re faced with. Getting our athletes to stay in a sport and then males to train distance. That’s what we need to do. My coach sat me down and said if you want to be a great 200 free styler, if you want to break the school record, the state record, be the fastest guy in the country out of high school in the 200; you got to train for the 500. I embraced that, I took it, I owned it, I made it mine. I don’t mind the pain, my coach helped me do that. So, I think you got to get these kids to own it, to make it theirs. To make them see it’s OK, it’s good. If they want to be the best, they realize they have to do this. So, I mean, you know, I have to sit back and tell myself if I want to be the best 200 free styler America’s ever seen, I have to pay the piper. I’ve got to train with the distance guys. I’ve got to try and hang with them.