Preparation of Ariana Kukors (’09 World Champ in the Women’s 200 IM) by Sean Hutchison (2010)


Published


[Introduction by George Block]:
It’s my pleasure to introduce Sean Hutchinson, and obviously from the standing-room-only crowd, he is somebody who doesn’t need any introduction. I do want to just mention two things. Sean is the head coach of what is the one of the most controversial programs in the country, and sometimes it’s sort-of like being a soldier in a controversial war. Sean is in the middle of the controversy because he agreed to serve when he was asked to serve, and I think we shouldn’t forget that. He is a club coach, he has always been a club coach; and he knows the controversy that he stepped in to, but he was asked to serve and he served. And he didn’t need to, because he took a program in a very difficult coaching situation from something that had eternal promise with underwhelming results into something that had overwhelming results in being a National team champion. He built a program of the kids who showed-up in his own neighborhood, which in my mind is the highest form of coaching: when you coach the kids who walk in your front door. And Sean has done that. And, in a lot of ways he is sort of a mirror-image in my mind of Doc Counsilman: both Doc and Sean are sort of swim whisperers. If you think about the many pictures that you will see of Doc coaching, frequently you will see him on a knee, bending over, nose-to-nose, whispering to one of the swimmers. Doc was always one who said: ‘if you want them to hear, you yell at them; if you want them to listen to you, whisper to them.’ And he always wanted to be listened to; Sean is the same way. Doc was a scientist who was informed by the art of the sport; Sean is an artist who is informed by the science of the sport. And I think you are going to be thrilled to hear from a swim whisper Sean Hutchinson.

[SH begins]
Oh, well, I don’t know how you follow that. I am going to take George everywhere I go with me now. And I think the second thing I am going to do is meet Josh’s wife, and see you later Josh. And I do know that this talk is going to go well because my good luck charm is here.

I have been fortunate over the past 5, 6, 7, 8 years—and forgive me for tripping over this every time—to coach some great swimmers, coach on several national teams and now my new current job as Professional Postgraduate Training Coach—whatever it’s, it’s suppose to be called. I keep—we were joking about that earlier today—getting… tripping over what the name of it is. And through that I have gotten a lot of recognition, we’ve gotten opportunities like this to speak to my colleagues and kind of share information or at least my ideas on the sport. And, like any situation that George described, there are a lot of people at home who don’t really get recognized the same way I do, and I would like to take the chance to recognize somebody, Ken, can you just stand up? [Ken: Hi.]

He didn’t know I was going to do this. Ken Spencer has been with me for six years, and he made everything behind the scenes and in front of the scenes run at KING Aquatic Club, and thanks Ken. Any questions you have for me, you can ask Ken he probably knows the answer.

So, getting started on this talk, you know, in the beginning of this — actually let us just watch the race first. This is the [women’s] 200 IM World Record last year from Rome, and Ariana is in the middle of the pool with the black cap on, one up from the yellow cap which is Stephanie Rice. And I will just let it run. (If you can’t see it maybe we can get a little darker back there.) May be that was 27.9, I don’t know their splits exactly, but I think that was about 27.9. Check-out this underwater: we will talk about that later. It’s 59-something at the 100m mark.

Lots of turn here, again we will talk about that a little bit. That was the race. There was a little irony in that which we will see later. It’s 1:36 with the 150m mark, pretty good under the water there too. Maybe Ken I am talking about that, there was something the man had been doing for a while obviously with Michael and Ryan specifically. So we kind of wondered why the women hadn’t been doing that, so we did. And it’s 26.1, and as advertised over and over again, maybe a time that we will stand for a very long time.

Before, I get into that, if you heard me talk or listen to me on anything or heard anything about what’s been written. Yes, George called in an artist, that’s probably, fairly, true, as I know I drive the people around me crazy sometimes. But, I started with talking about you know, and I have done this talk two or three times, I really didn’t scraped it, and really didn’t scraped it and started over. And I started with trying to do kind of a training program, trying to do even volumes, trying to do evolution of volume overtimes and things like that. Giving a true, just a note by note kind of score of what was going on. And every time, I would get towards the end of that, it didn’t feel right, because it wasn’t really what happened.

And so, the kind of the precursor to the discussion is a comment that what I believe made Ari successfully and continues to make her successful and a lot of the swimmers that I have coached, and hopefully we will coach in the future the ones that I have now, isn’t necessarily the training component, it’s the ideas behind that, and that’s what the talk is going to be about, just the fundamental ideas because they always took precedence over the training itself..

So, as it says — it’s probably the most — in my mind the most accurate description of how she became a world champion. This is kind of a table or content, just talk about this is a long term event, a belief system that we tried to develop, technical mastery, the idea that you can develop world champions instead of being a slave to talent if you will, and then some preparation specific to 2009, isn’t really that big of deal but — I have heard this before, I have heard it a lot in different endeavors, but this is always a long term event, overnight success happens over a long period of time, we just don’t really pay attention to it or don’t notice it.

Ari started as a 400 IM, and she started swimming for me in the fall of 2002, when I moved to Seattle. And, she had just turned 13 and she was in the National group — the top group, 2003 was after one summer, 14 years old, 101st place in the world. The number in the middle is the world ranking and then the time is on the end. I’ll kind of briefly go through, she got fast, she got faster, 2006 that’s seventh place time she qualified for the world championships in Melbourne for 2007, swimming at that seventh place time, she actually got fifth place the worlds in Melbourne and then jumped up to 29th. Again, I will talk a little bit more specifically about this later, but after the world championships in 2007, I made or we made or she made through my influence a decision that focus primarily for — on the 200 IM, no reasons for that, we will talk about. And then after 2009, this past year we chose to go back towards the 400 IM.

I would hope the results would be a little bit better than they were, but they were still a best time. And, same thing, were rankings in the 200 IM starting 128th at 14, 15, 16 was 11th in the world, 17 was 4th in the world. And one of the… the only frustrating things of all the scandal and criticism and praise and whatever-it-was about all the literature on the suit fast times, one of things that was said was that she ‘came out nowhere’. Fourth-in-the-world when you are 16 or 17 isn’t too bad, as far as I could tell. She did not qualify for World Championship in the 200 IM, because [the] #1 and #2 [ranked swimmers] were US swimmers, so she kind of got left out and swims the 400 IM there, that’s where the 49th place for 2007: she just didn’t really swim that at a major meet. And then 2008, just miss the Olympic team with the 5th place time; then last year 1st, and this year back up to 5th.

Just for argument sake, again this is stuff we have all seen and read on the swimming websites, the swimsuits, I thought that was interesting. The number three is the third place time in the world, I didn’t include the names, it’s just for some perspective. So, 2010 was pretty good and then 2008 and 2009 it wasn’t so good anymore. So, why are we are talking about that? It’s a pretty devious and interesting honor to talk about this swim, because there are a lot of these things we don’t really know, we can speculate how much through its affected performance. We can speculate whether Ari would have been world champion or world record holder, I think she would have been, that’s my opinion, of course, I am best.

We could speculate how much suit’s affected all of the other ones, 2008 and 2009, and it’s just my opinion that 2008 people didn’t get us upset because the times were slightly better depending on who you are and then they got a lot better nobody got upset, I was upset the whole time, I didn’t like him at all. But we don’t know how much it affects them, there is no reason to worry about it or grouse about it, but truthfully we don’t know what it was in both of those years. Something that many people may not have thought about, but how much the suit criticism or speculation may affect the performance of some of these athletes this year, and I am not specifically talking about Ari as much as I am someone like called Paul Bitterman – imagine Paul Bitterman this year, check down Michael Phelps and now where are you, and he is still really good, I feel bad for the guy, I don’t even know, I don’t even know how he looks like, but that’s a pretty tough place to be, it’s not his fault, he just happen to be in the right or wrong place at the right time.

The last one is something we have already talked about that much other than I think Forbes Carlile will sent around some stuff. But these 2010 suits were still pretty good, especially on the women side, they have got that little thing in that front, I don’t know what that little thing does, but it’s in there for reason. And when you talk to some of the suit manufacturers, the compression that they get, even without the zippers, it’s pretty down close to the same compression that they got with the zippers. I am not an expert this is what I am told. So, you know, how those times relates? I really don’t know, and I don’t think anyone does, I know that’s done, I should get that out of the way before somebody sitting back there going, why is he talking, she didn’t deserve the one, well, we don’t know, I don’t know. I just know she is a really good swimmer, and that’s what I am going to talk about.

One of the main things that I think enabled the club that George introduced me talking about, and now hopefully doing the same thing in Fullerton with some different athletes, and definitely helped Ari to become one the best swimmers in the world was a belief system that we imparted right from the beginning when I move to Seattle. And these were some of the basic tenants, determination is more important than talent, no one is inherently better than you are, if they were there is no reason to swim in the race.

And, recently in the last two to three years, there have been a lot of books: Talent Code, Talent is Overrated and so forth. There have been very popular and have talked about that idea and given a lot of great examples, which I think are great, if you haven’t read those books, go read them, to give an outstanding perspective on coaching and teaching and life in general at least to my opinion, and we started that a years ago. Actually, our member being in Maryland, my first head coaching job with the same prospectus, work smart and be a good student, they are working hard is a given, being tough, working hard that’s a given, everybody does it, being smart, being a good student, and you didn’t know what you are doing.

Three people with respect, there was a flow swimming thing, back when that was working actively, where I believe they showed, my swimmers that came shaking hands with me in practice, something I have done for ten years, all the other coaches they can do it now, we still hope to do. That’s an example of that respect. If you haven’t tried it, you try it. There is a huge power and at the end of a workout looking someone in the eye, shaking their and saying, nice job, thank you or whatever. You know, it gives you an opportunity where, if you yell down that day, you get to repair the relationship, it’s kind of hard to walk away upset after that. If you miss the opportunity to tell them they did a great job, you get that moment face to face before they leave and they can walkway feeling good about it, or just as it says, it’s a partnership, thank you for the work you did today and good bye.

Be honest and bring your A game and simply do your best. Do the best you can do on that day. Not more or not less, just the best you can do. And then further the bigger idea of all of this I think the first four things can fit in to this last piece, personal mastery leads to exceptional achievement or another way of looking at it, constant and never-ending improvement “Hey Bob and John, how are you?” Bob and John, [Indiscernible] [0:19:38] we are in the back, they are hiding. Wherever we stay out there?

Louder please, constant improvement. How was your breakfast this morning with Coach Schubert, who is more than national treasure, I should do a movie about him. And he was talking to a few of us and he said something about, we always focused on improving at every meet, it doesn’t necessarily mean swimming faster, it just means improving, improving all the time, and I felt, well, I must on to something because if he says, it’s gold.

Longer belief culture, people are in performance, I stole this from speaking of Bob, I stole this from him, I think it was actually in 2002 listening him talk about a, however Michael was, 16 year old Michael Phelps in 2002. Telling a story of when Michael was, and he was a still an age grouper of 16 but, when Michael was an age grouper and, would either have, especially around 12 years old they had a pretty tumultuous year, those of you from Maryland area would remember that. We had a great swim, Bob would just say, hey great job, let’s go get a sandwich, he had a terrible swim, he would say, “Hey that was terrible, let’s go and get a sandwich.” And the idea was that regardless of the performance, you still have this relationship and you look at the performance objectively, and their relationships isn’t determined by the performance, does that make sense?

In a interesting note, now that I have many of my athletes or long time national team members, ages ranging from now 18, but it have been 21 to 28 or 29, and this is not a condemnation of any coach team, club, system or anything, it’s just a nature of the beast of getting a lot of attention for very long period of time for being a great swimmer and then waking up a 25 years old going, I have no idea who I am, but I am a great swimmer and never really being valued for being a person., and they may not seen that relevant at some point earlier in that career, but as they get older it’s more and more relevant and I’ve always – I mean, I’ll admit my bias towards this, I’ve always kind of believed in the idea that you care about the person and then hopefully the performances will follow and we always have that relationship first.

The downside of that, especially if athletes never had that exposure, I think it takes a little bit longer, it is a developing process, because you know, as cliché goes in the beginning they swim for their coach and their parents which ever order that is and then they go high school or college and they swim for their team and then at some point they’re going to figure how to swim for themselves, and that’s not necessarily easy and I would contain and I’ve heard some of the best college coaches in the country agree with this or have actually offer this information or this idea the kids swim a lot faster in college because they’re doing it for a team, not because necessarily they’re doing any better not that they’re doing worst either. But they’re swimming for a team not just for themselves and a club setting or whatever it is. But then they go back to this kind of situation where they’re got to figure out how to do it from themselves, but I skipped a piece, that’s obviously the intrinsic motivation part.

Before that, in that relationship you got to get to a point where you can criticize as in, it’s pretty easy to have Michael Phelps here and go, “okay, that was great, let’s go get a sandwich, everybody wants to go.” But when you go “hey, that was terrible, let’s go get a sandwich”, if they’re sitting there when you’re eating the sandwich still going Wow, Sean said, “I was terrible” that doesn’t work either, it’s not a easy to do, but it’s a — I’d actually describe that’s to my athlete, it’s a goal over — look at it objectively, you weren’t terrible, that was terrible, that’s was too better and go get a sandwich, and there is a learning curve in that. But, you know all of these things — it’s not very much, but it’s a lot of information.

Setup a belief system in my mind to develop some of the best swimmers in the world, and a lot of that came through the word that I like to use an empowerment, it’s not talent it’s – if I learn a lot and do what I’m told and work smart and hard then I can be great, that’s all I have to do, it’s not you know, just being lucky that, wow, I’m just the special one. I’m not going to believe here the point but, I know the talent code book talks about how actually looking at in a talent perspective instead of a work perspective is less productive by a true results.

Technical mastery; so all of that was setup on purpose to believe that you could do something, you could learn to change constantly to achieve your best potential. The underlying goal has been to the best: for her to be the best technical athlete in the world. Not the best women, not the best timer, not the best freestyler; the best technical athlete in the world. Is she there here? Probably not. Has she puréed on close? Absolutely.

And again, eight-year focus, talk about you know, you use the talent saying now that I am coaching Katie Hoff at the same time. Ari is tall; Katie is tall. Ari feet are this big; Katie’s feet are this big? Ari’s hands are this big here; Katie’s hands are this big. And even on a working engine, I heard somebody use this, and it fits these two exactly and not men really to compare or even though that’s what I’m doing. He was talking about some super athletes and the guy I was talking about, he was talking about Ian Thorpe, who is a diesel locomotive train and a pool full of pickups, Katie is a diesel locomotive. We’re trying to get her wheels greased and get her going on the right direction again Ari is still pickup, how you’ll take your pick up, the big one with the four wheels in the back and do a lot of stuff, but compete with us. And that was always kind of the challenge. And, in my mind the only way to do it was to make her better technically in every way possible. And the best athletes, I have seen in any sport the ones that are just absolutely above and beyond their competition or technically superior. Michael Jordan, I think Tiger Woods as far as I know, Michael Phelps, Brian Worthy, I mean, you could go down the list, whoever good baseball player is they’re hitting only baseball.

But I figured if she was going to have a chance with people they could, and some ways probably our trainer, they were bigger, and maybe stronger, how you do that? Well, it’s who being more efficient, right? That’s about the only option you have. Not really to push this but just to kind of continue the idea in comparison to what I was observing around at least my fear of knowledge — sphere of knowledge, not fear, that was a [Indiscernible] [0:28:06] look, my sphere of knowledge. My sphere of knowledge of the people that I knew coaching, talent was on one side and then we made a decision to create.

Training volume was deemed as most important and what we deemed most important was volume at perfect technique, there is a big difference there, and I thought of this half-an-hour ago and trying to describe that. Though you go to the gym or you take your athletes to the gym if you don’t like to go and you do pull ups, you didn’t get somebody to go 30 of them like these, and their legs are going all over place, how much harder is it do 10 perfect pull ups, the volume is less, the volume is less, everybody says and I was talking about this just here with Michael Lawrence, the perception of what we’re doing in Fullerton is, we don’t do training, we don’t do anything, at least what I’ve been told, I don’t know if it’s true or not.

Think about yourself, which one of those things is harder, which one has more benefit. To me doing it right is a lot harder, especially that’s a — such a good example, the pull up example, even if it’s less volume doing it correctly is what we want, at least what I want. Drills my idea there is technique with resistance we’re going to talk about that in a little, and then as George said I’m not a scientist that’s why I put a question marks there focusing on the aerobic system, and what I kind of focus on is, thanks to, I am stealing a phrase I think from Jonty, hi Jonty, neurological patterning, did I get that from you? Yes, good job thank you.

The talent to decision to create that’s cultural we already spoke about that. Training volume, volume they’re perfect again, and I admit to be overly sensitive about this, but be careful about it, it’s not handholding practice. Again if you try and get someone to do that 30 bad pull ups or 10 perfect pull ups, you’re not sitting there with the 10 perfect ones holding their hand, going, “oh it’s to be easy”. This isn’t looking for finding an easy way out. It’s actually in my mind increasing difficulty, because the level of focus or of those talent code readers deep practice is much higher than just mindlessly training. And I apologize if that upsets anybody.

The ability to focus on what you are doing is much harder with a high level of effort than just doing something at a high level of effort. The volume figures that we’ve done aren’t relevant to understand the concept, that’s why I haven’t really talked about that. And again just to beat it to death correct training speed is more important than training speed itself, and that example would be, if you have somebody who can swim 58 for 100 freestyle meter yards with everyone. So of course, meters for Europeans, that was a joke folks.

Are you willing to say to your athlete who is going 58 and you know it’s a limiting action. As in, the technique they’re using maybe good in the short term but isn’t going to allow them to reach their potential long term, are you willing to let them go minutes which is slower by 2 seconds and do it correctly and encourage them to continue to do it that way, are you willing to do that? That’s what I’ve been working on for years, it’s not easy, I still get caught in the track, but those are — that’s the basic idea, do it right, do it right even when it slower, do it right even when you don’t want to, do it right when you are warming up, do it right when you warm down, do it right when you go fast, when you go slow, Green Eggs and ham and so on. The drills to doing correct with resistance this kind of happened by accident, Dr. Tim Ley and Russell Mark, Russell and I’ve been friends, Russell where are you? Oh, he is over here. Russell is the main sports technical technique scientists engineer guy, assuming he knows everything that I work with and respect his opinion and I’ve learned a lot from him.

2005 and 2006, and also thanks to the forethought of Jonty, thanks Jonty. Dr Tim Ley who was at the time, I think the Head of Engineering Rutgers or at least Fluid Dynamics, Rutgers University now is at Rensselaer Polytechnic in New York, it’s one of the best engineering schools in the world. He is a fluid dynamic specialist. We did some projects together, one of which was put in to a couple of magazines, Omni magazine I think, is that alright? [Tim Ley: Some science magazine.]

Some science magazine, I don’t know whatever it is. I like to say, ‘I am a publish scientist’; I didn’t do anything. But basically, I’m going to spare you the terrible details of it, but through Russell and Tim I got to view video first time as far as I know in the world from a subjective to an objective perspective. Through the work that Dr. Ley did we could see actually when the hand we use for world-class swimmers Ari was one of these, when the hand actually caught the water? Not when we speculated it to, not when a computer model set it might, the one that hand actually did, and through that and through talking to Tim and Russell, I got a better understanding of what I really wanted my athletes to learn, and it’s pretty simple, getting your main propulsive limb perpendicular to your body, I have been doing it for years, high-elbow freestyle, freestyle, that’s what I do for eight year old, freestyle backstroke, butterfly. And then for backstroke it’s the more propose with your legs and you get it here and you kind of drive in backwards, and that’s it. Oops! I mean, that’s an over simplification, but that’s what I always come back to, and I wonder, are we teaching the right thing. So, as far as this kind of model of doing a correct with resistance instead of doing drills I have no problem with drills, this is just the way that I choose to do it.

Let’s talk about the types of resistance real quick, and then give you a couple of ideas. I pull it tower, or now we have this fancy rocket tower which is about as tall as this room. It’s got a big rocket on top, I’m not kidding; and it can go 50 meters with pull on a barrel up kind of like the other towers. But it goes 50 meters, or just dress codes or shoots. And what the idea is, to simply, if you swim against it with an appropriate amount of resistance, let’s say if you’re doing freestyle you put your hand in unless your tempo is really fast so it sets up in the second half in the bottom part, the tempo is a little bit slower than race speed or a lot slower than race speed. Your hand has…you have to catch the water, or you’re going to go backwards, if you go this way and the things pulling you back with 20 pounds of resistance you’re going to go backwards, so it is naturally you have to do it.

If you’re kicking breaststroke, you have to push backwards or you’re going to go backwards, and then it’s a balancing act, it’s easy to overload, in my opinion a lot of people misuse resistance devices. At least in this way when I say misuse I think it’s proper use of building a lot of power with a lot of weight and a high tempo if you’re looking to develop power and that’s it. But you can also use it as a technical tool which is almost what we primarily use it as, the technical tool to teach your swimmers how to swim correctly, how to always be pushing behind them or kicking behind them, and do it in a situation where they have to do it, you have do it right or you’re going to go backwards, and I saw that from — therefore in a freestyle part but the whole ideas from Randy Reese who started the whole thing a long time ago with the towers, or with the pulleys. Being a little redundant, optimal amount of resistance, trying to do as much as possible without breaking down the strip. As soon I notice that some things are done incorrectly, we either changes the way as I make it a little bit less, there is a rare occasion that probably don’t need to worry about where if you put more in they will actually do a better, tell them to work harder, that’s usually my first answer, you can do it just work harder, or that’s about it.

Last one, aerobic system versus this neurological patterning idea, as we’ve said a couple of times I’m not a scientist. Just looking to create or to recreate or duplicate or repeat or whatever the word you can come up with, the same pattern over-and-over again. To me if you do it identically every single time, every time, then when you’re tired at the end of a race you’ll still do it that way, easier said than done, but that’s the whole idea, it’s pretty simple, you do it right all the time, you do it right when you get tired. And as we’ve seen in most races, what wins is what finishes, we saw that at lot at the Nationals and Pan Pacs especially without our magic suits.

The other thought of this and this is based on some things I’ve read, but it’s definitely my idea not based on any scientific specific information that I found or anything that I’ve done, but the last piece of the thought of resistance, so many again resistance builds a stronger neural pathway, and I’ll give you an idea for that.

If you’re swimming as regular swimming you’re creating a dirt road – two line dirt road pathway, if you’re swimming pulling against 50 pounds you’re building an eight line highway, because your motor system, your spinal cord all of that stuff has to focus that much stronger to connecting all that stuff together to make it work because of the load, speculation, but I think it’s accurate.

So what we’re going to do now, we’re going to watch some video, and I’m going to trip again, what we’re going to do is see a sequence of the 2009 world record and then see a sequence of — all this video that Russell could find from her racing and it was 2003 nationals when she was 14 years old, and unfortunately it’s a 400 IM but it doesn’t really matter, you get to see a cycles and I can’t remember what the exact rank was, but it was like 101st in the world, 14 making B finals at the US nationals not too shabby. So she was a pretty good swimmer, she was 454 I think, back then I was a top 3 or 4 fastest 14 year old in history, maybe second I’m not sure, but we’re going to watch the 2009 clip, 2003 clip, I’ll let her run through a couple of times. And then after that we’re going to watch underwater is actually all came from 2010, because I do think she is a better swimmer now than she was last summer. Underwater from 2010 in the same stroke, you know, kind of loop with underwater of somebody that we modeled after.

And, I want you to watch first one of the big things that we do with the lot of our athletes is model them of people who do things correctly. And, as you watch the model think about what I said about perpendicular. So, first thing here, put down the lights down somebody, it’ll run through a couple of times, she is in the second line from the top, the water bug. So, black cap in the middle. Second line — or actually third line from the top. But she was almost the same height at 14, so it’s now like she grew 6 inches. She is probably if not full grown within the half inch of her overall height that is the same size pool by the way.

If you notice her flies she is not really pulling any water, she’s just kind of spinning in there, believes she has 21 strokes on that fly 20 or 21, there she is probably 28, we watch her one more time, she was the second from the top — from the bottom I mean second from the bottom. This s is underwater. So, this one is current, think of perpendicular. If you’ve ever watched any underwater film you’ll understand how difficult that is in butterfly. How high her elbows are and here is the model, the model is someone who swim for us and a King who I thought was going to be possibly the best under butter in the world and she had plans otherwise. Jeff, here you can? Very diplomatic way to say, yeah, but if you notice, Lindsey did it first, Oops, I gave your name away. Look how sharp that is, it’s amazing, we use that and copy it.

Point being this is by design, it’s by design, it’s not by accident, it’s not — she just happened to figure it out, it’s by design. Backstroke 2009, and then the slowing is her, the one that’s last by a lot. So, 2009 and then the slow one, two days before we left for the 2003 Nationals, I will come back to that, that’s all I have. 2003, two days before we left for US Nationals, 14 years old swims a 100 backstrokes she’s tapered, swim it in the Federal Way pool, great pool. The 100 backstroke, I just wanted to see what she can do with the local LSC championships, 109.3. Two years later or year and half later she won Spring Nationals with I believe one or two flat, definitely worst stroke and still struggles in and out with backstroke.

As a side note, her head is really high on the 2009 version on purpose to get the kick to drive and she can just drive the suit underwater. Think of the perpendicular, look how high the elbow catches, and that’s [Indiscernible] [0:46:07]. He finishes a lot better than she does that’s where the problem is, we haven’t gotten her yet.

Again, it was modeled half of his, it wasn’t an accident, very directed, very on-purpose over a long period of time, I am going to go back. So watch again, watch the 14 year old, those of you have the coach 13, 14, 15,16, 17, 18 year old, look how terrible that is, I will be blind, that’s awful. That’s — if not a world champion, definitely one of the best swimmers in the world in this how it turn into. For those of you like who like the oddest time, when she was the senior, no, not senior, freshman, I can’t remember how old she was. One day at a prelim sectional meets with a first generation track suit on, she 52:5 fly, 52:500 back and 58:6 breaststroke in one session. So that was the 52 backstroke. So, it’s modeling off-air [Indiscernible] [0:47:35] the catch is very similar, he’s little bit better engaging, but again the whole point of this discussion is, it was all on purpose. You know 1082 and 227 you know breaststroke on course, I guess its 586 and 100 breaststrokes.

As a side note, that day she beat Megan Jendrick best time Megan went 58.7 that day, both tried on the same team. Megan has an Olympic gold in 100 breast, that wasn’t an easy day, right? Try and pick that really on that one.

So look, I mean there is a lot of movement, actually the breaststroke on the frontend wasn’t that bad, and she was primarily a breaststroker, when I first got her, for the drive the kick isn’t that great, it catches a little bit later you can really see if you watch it, but breaststroke is probably least affected until it got really, really good. Again you know, I know it’s magnified by the suites but if you can just see the difference in distance per cycle, that’s the main component here. There are water bug and then you have a world class athlete, this is the share. Think about the perpendicular of the feed just driving backwards.

It’s Megan. This is Megan, her teammate at the time and that’s Brenden Hansen from the front-end those were things we model off of, being kind of picture in the frontend and it looks pretty darn similar and the backend looks pretty darn similar.

Megan has a little more hip movement and she always had more hip movement than I wanted, or is actually closer than what I liked. You can then try and change of point of view and your mind so what it look like in the front and looks lot like what we should with Brendan, everybody see that? We didn’t copy the little flutter kick. This actually looks great to me, you know, she’s just kind of swimming at a moderate speed right there. How it holds the line, that are one more time. Right there. Freestyle, thinned here pretty good kick; she is a great flutter kicker, second from the bottom, not so good.

So, one of the underlying hopes of this discussion, just from my perspective is that – and I’ve no reservation, I almost didn’t say this but I asked and I go ahead and said it. I’ve no reservation saying that, if we had just trained or she wanted to work hard, she wanted to be good, she was tough as nails, if we just train her, she would have been one of the best age group top 5, top 4, 14 year old like she was 15, 16 and then probably falling off the phases here and would have been a decent college for her. We just trained her, make a turns little bit better, lose some weights, that’s what it will happen, because all of those things would have been basically the same.

Over a long period of time, time that which we took and not just with her which I do with our all of our athletes, even when we had 30, time that we took to train, model, teach, teach again, teach again, teach again, point out at this is the way you do it, that’s way you’re going to be successful, that’s the way to do it, that’s the way you’re going to be successful and that’s it. Doing a less than perfect isn’t good enough. And I hope, I mean, there was actually a select camp in 2003 that was on a VHS tape that I couldn’t find. They would have had early underwater video but I think would have been perfect for this. And I think this disruptive enough, with my move to California I couldn’t find it, but I hope these videos are striking enough to – most of all of you to see there is a significant difference. And I will tell you with all sincerity that I do not believe it came from getting stronger, definitely not from taller because like I said she’s about the same height, it’s not from training harder, trained hard already.

This is the model, Andie Taylor, another king swimmer. And I am going to pat ourselves through my king staff and myself on the back and say and actually in Andie’s case her age group time until she was 13 was at some team in local team in Seattle. There were a lot of people we model it was actually came from our end program and hopefully that means we are doing something right.

Her biggest weakness is not being patient on her left arm and on your breath you we can see right there. But Andie feel high although, Andie was in general high school when 200 point, 200-200 free, its 200 again this year, 411 to 400. When you look at, especially Andie’s because the angels better, not her the other girl, think of the perpendicular to her body, you can’t get much better in that, that’s absolutely perpendicular and that’s how we model half, half, right arms good left arms can be better.

Here’s a fun one. Video quality isn’t that great, it’s person. Now comparative sake I don’t know if you see Colin Russell, the next one out. The next person up, if you can see in devine Kalyn Keller, just a swimmer and swim for SCE and then open water swimmer, probably not the best starter in the world and by comparison was terrible and I love that description. As a world class athletes right there, best in the world, that’s its summary and that’s our model, 14 years old, now model.

As a side note if you look in the background right there are those towers, rocket towers, you don’t see the rocket sometime. Dolphin kick, one of the fastest swimming in world underwater, this was last year. And if you remember from that opening all record races, she got to potentially own that race underwater, just like the guys do. I don’t know if you ask me it’s a whole lot like system, this is Ryan Lochte, he’s pretty good underwater too, pretty similar if you ask me.

This one we just put in there, this is from Charles right? I’d mentioned this little bit earlier, I think she is in the lane closest is that right? Yeah line closest and this was a change that we made from 2008 to 2009 after she didn’t make the Olympic theme by 7100 or something like that. Back to breast turn, she didn’t wake up or of course we will wake up that’s half on top of it and this is last summer and that’s Olympic Stephanie Rice.

Point of that isn’t just well this sounds better, she is the closer one. It fit in the idea of constant improvement, you lose the race on the back breast turn, we’re going to won the race on next time, it’s that simple, find the weakness and then terminates it.

So kind of important technical happenings after you watched all of that. The cultural thing in Paramount like I said earlier believe that talent is made not born. The athletes are empowered to choose their path, if they want to be the best in the world, this is what you do. If you don’t know how to do it or figure it out, if you don’t know how to do the best pack of Western in the world or find out who does. If you don’t know the best race strategy who knows it? Be empowered, learn from your teammates, learn from other coaches, learn from wherever we’re talking about this in meeting last night ship the information is needed, it’s a partnership, discuss it, figure out which part of it should be included, what shouldn’t be included and then something that I’ve mention in underline willingness to fail, failure is good. If you don’t going to fail, you’re not willing to try new things and there is going to be a period of adjustment and less as a one time event like a turn, you can take a year to change your butterfly, two years, okay. If you are trying to be the best in the world or 8 years to develop in the world champion or someone who’s definitely in the top class of that event just commit to.

The 2003 Nationals that video you saw, these are important and these important thoughts that how she got to the point where she can learn in that fashion and was willing to do it, 2003 was great, that was the most important thing, I’d coached her for 11 months, I guess that she’s already get swimmer.

Going into the finals of the 4 IM U.S. Nationals in College Park, she was a fastest 14 year old country when as fast ever. The heat before her and the same finals coming out of Newport News Virginia was the typhoon of course. Typhoon Aquatics, one Ms Katie Hoff., and I stood there and watched her the two days apart in age same year and everything it shouldn’t washed to go 450 one b, c by about 8 seconds, she’d met her half of half hour before Katie Hoff, said hi I’m Katie Hoff, I know who you are and then after that all he knew was she was forever, true story. But she had this fear who all of a sudden in her world, she would always out worked everybody, she’d always out rolled everyone. And from her understanding of how to be great, that was all that was needed.

And then all of a sudden this person shows up that she’s just better than me. And having to face same exact day, same exact events, what would I do, at least the same son of it. The same meet, tune on breaststroke because like I said she just started as a breaststroke and also kind of gear to towards IM, I was fortunate to see Megan Jendrick was on our team but practiced at a team in the same pool, at the same time across the way and I got to see Megan swim who was – this was 3 years after she won the Olympics in Sydney and I kind of went earlier breaststrokes pretty good but that’s really good. We’re not going to figure out, I don’t know at least if we’re going to beat that, I don’t if that was a right perspective but I don’t think she will be the world champion in breaststroke, we’ve been really good but not world champion.

In any case, she turns from the breaststroke, she knew a girl, I think she swam in San Diego maybe north coast, its Jeff in here. I can’t remember her name and they were about the same, they swam against Children Zones and RI Bear a year before, zones on a breaststroke record. And this girl made it in the same final or something or didn’t lose two her by couple of seconds and she was upset. And I said – and she swam with my way. Long stroke, this number of strokes, do it this way, do it this way, do it this way and she was convinced that I messed her up and I hate time trails. I had my own great time trial meet one three internationals and after that I knew like I’ve lost all my time trails merges who we start going.

But I said there was a cookie, year 14 you know better, because they do. Well, you can time trial the 200 breaststroke and I will even stand and watch. And she gets in, does it her way, 4 second slower and I’ve heard a whole lot more and she said OK maybe I will listen. And to her credit she did and I really believe if she didn’t have those two same instances within a very short period of time that it would have taken a lot longer if ever to hope her achieve what she did and what she’s done as far and sometimes you get lucky, you got to least pay to attention to that have already Russell and doctor Way, though it was a fortunate experience I have and for those of who wonder I apologies Russell had a time because you are going to get emails. Those of you wonder why you don’t pick for that, I was bugging them all the time that’s why I got picked for, how can I learn more. And I had asked him and it’s happened to be just a project before Russell and I got to know each other very well at all. The project that they started working on it and I had asked Russell and probably Jonty, too is there somebody I can talk to they can explain how water works, how fluid dynamics works, you know, I just wanted to know because I couldn’t find any good answers, none of the books I could find any good answers, I didn’t know whom to talk to. And then they came upon this projects that I got wrangled into because of that interest. So it’s now like they said, but he’s a special guy let’s call him, I had talked to them first.

2007 World Championships, going back to the technical ideas, that year as I mentioned, in 2006 at Pan Pacific Championships, 4th in the world mature amp, didn’t get the swimming because that was a qualifying just like this year, qualifier for the 2007 World Championships, even though she’s fourth in the world, she didn’t get the swimmer in World Campionships, but she really get picked up in the 400 IM. So we spent — world championships were in h Melbourne at the end of March, we spent that whole winter, 400 IM, 400 IM, 400 IM, 400 IM. And I trained the crap out if it, just trying, trying, trying 400 IM we are going to train , we’re going to key you to come home a last hundred faster than everybody else, that was sometimes a weakness, just going to 400 IM, that’s what we are going to do. All this 400 IM people will say, I got to do this, that’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to do that. And whether I’m right or wrong, if you remember the world ranking shoes, maybe a 10th faster, maybe. And what was funny was, the fly was little faster, the free was faster but the back and breast were lot worst, worst, because the technique went away. I’m not saying you can’t do that, I’m not saying don’t do that, I’m saying, in her specific case, if she trained that way we couldn’t get it a hold on to the things that made her really good. So I kind of looked that and said, hey you got to hands this big, you’ve got to feed this big, you’re this tall compare to this tall, what’s your best shot? We know that we can make your strokes great, you’ve already shown an adaptability to change and learn and improve consistently, so let’s take it, cut it down, forget about the 400IM, focus on the 200, become the best technical athlete in the world and become the fastest in each one of the hundreds. Forget about the 400 IM, almost in swimming in Olympic Trials, probably you shouldn’t have. But that was an active decision on my part that she bought into, based on what I thought the best information at the time was, and so we went in that direction.

Going just a couple of other things spring of ’08 she did, I’m not trying to say, oh, she should have been in Olympic team or not, who cares, it happened, it didn’t happened. But, and I know it happened for a lot of swimmers, but leading up to the trials there was anxiety about the suits, s trials themselves, like I said, just missed. The reason I put that up there was, you find a lot about a person, lot out about a person when they fail at the thing that’s most important to that. She had in her mind talking about her a day later, in her mind was already swimming the 200 IM in China. She knew she belonged there, she knew she’d win a medal, but the problem was, she hasn’t got in past in her mind, she had gone past the trials in her mind and was already in China and it didn’t worked. And just to tell you about, you know, because it does kind of fit, what you do at that point, do you retire? Do you give up? Anyways being at that situation it’s probably the hardest things as a coach to do, that’s harder than not Merling at the Olympics because you don’t get to go, you are sitting in home and you’re lost, I mean, this mistake, this mistake, this mistake, what do you do? And I remember talking to you little bit that night and she had the 200 breaststroke brush the next day, you didn’t really have a chance to make it but she was pretty good at it, and I remember saying, alright, if you don’t want to do it, everybody is going to understand it’s fine and she said okay, I’m not going to do it. Twenty minutes later she called me and sad I’m going to do it, I’m not going to quit. And made it through semi-finals, made it through finals, I think it was fifth place in 200 breaststrokes dropped to how many seconds, that was the starting point of 2009, even though she took a month or two off, whatever was a month and a half off, it was – this isn’t going to beat me, yeah, I didn’t get what I wanted, what I wanted, but I’m going to be the best in the world.

And that’s story to me having lived this part of it and seeing what came out of that on a day-to-day basis. To me going back to the beginning lends me to the believe suit or no suit, I would have put money on her to win, maybe she’d win or it doesn’t really matter. And kind of got off track, actually I wanted to talk about 2010 in a little bit. With that the direction from 8 to 9 since I’m supposed to be talking about what led to this swim, even though that all has. After that, after watching those swims and trials in any of the Olympic games, I made a decision as a coach to use it as a equipment, is that made you faster, you need to learn how to use it, I need to learn how it works, at least guess, I felt like – I felt like the suits for some really balanced butterfliers, they negatively affected their swimming, I’m not going to get into who, I’m not an expert, some of my swimmers, we didn’t know what to do about it and at the trials, but this was after affect what do we do. I felt like core strength was less important and connectivity meaning getting everything to work together, and I felt like brute strength just peer the guns and the squats was more important, freestyle head position, again in my opinion I looked at video in Beijing, and a lot of people higher heads swimming and I did before that – and not – don’t do it now, just telling you what — what I observed before and then underwater became more important, something that she was already good at, but it became more important because you had the slippery texture, the water just slides right off. So, the choices we made, we tried to adapt her strokes to fit what I saw those observations work, made our knees lower in butterfly, to make it less balanced, emphasize under water what you saw on the race, getting really strong, she was a lot stronger just physically brute strength and she is now because we’ve to go back and rebuild the core in a very aggressive race strategy. I know it was skewed by the swim suits, but I believe – now that I think about a little more of 59.2 for the first hundred, that’s pretty going fast.

These last couple of slides are more rambling than any thing, not that I haven’t done after that, there is a lot of stuff in these suit swimming, you know, when you’re looking at just this swim or any of the other ones you’re going to hear about from last year, some of these I threw in there that are completely right here, and so really don’t make sense at all, but there is a lot of things we really don’t know, you know we talk about training, we talk about technique, we talk about diet, we talk about sports psych, what are the other things that are important? The core thing, I threw that up there because, when I coached as back in 2001 and I was coaching age group 13, 14, 15 year olds, we went to a meeting in Phoenix, and these were kids from Portland, they were – I can’t say anything really wide, as wide is anybody shortened here, just payout, 119 degrees, four day in a row and Phoenix outside all there and we knew it was coming, so I week ahead of time got them to over-hydric its strength is much, chuing, chuing, chuing, chuing, chuing, and we got there every single person everybody, this was in June, it wasn’t in April, May, every single person did a best time and everything they swim and some of these were at international and eventually that’s how we are making national level kids even though they were young, day one, day three, three and a half days, every single swim was a best time, every single person, 119 degrees outside, they didn’t have to warm up, Rome was pretty hot, am I saying that was important, I don’t know. We don’t know, you know who benefits from most of all, any of these things, who would have the best year in Rome and I gave already, you have already storied, she might had the world champion anywhere, astrological charts that’s Brett’s thing, Brett Hawke, he is an astrologist in the spare time. We don’t always know what causes great performances, yes, that’s a discomforting thing, sorry. And as much as over the past few years, I’ve kind of gotten out of the idea that I like – I don’t like us having a lot of influence on our athletes, I want them to do it themselves. But the more I watch, especially at meets, as it says, I don’t think it’s mistake there, the US Olympic coaches I know are, the most caring people I know, the best five pipers I know or the most kind of the best dictators I know, there is some co-relation in that, I don’t know what it is.

Since I talked about too much, I’ll just close with my shiny suit thoughts. After watching in Irvine both meets, I think the most difficult thing that come in my opinion was some other people who had great success in the last two years, not just last year, in the last two years is relearning race strategy. And I say that because, I had actually in beginning in July at the LA Grand Prix I had this conversation with Dave Salo, you can swim, I think almost as fast, if not eventually as fast, but even now almost as fast, but you can’t make any mistakes or else with this shiny suit you can make a lot of mistakes and I would correct them for you. Now, I don’t think you can make any, you can’t make a race strategy here, you can’t make, you know, whatever it is, no mistakes, you can go just as fast, I don’t know about the 33, I don’t about the 200 IM, I know you can get pretty close to those, but in a lot of that, just got to be better, do you agree with that? Brett agrees that astrological chart say yes.

We’ve got about ten minutes, I think. Yeah, about ten minutes, if you guys have any questions, yup?

[audience member]: Can you talk about 2008, 2009, can you work under timing of it [Indiscernible] [0:78:37] probably 2008, 2009?

[SH]: Yeah, I mean, she was definitely more determined to – instead of – okay, I know him one of the bests and, you know I’d like to go — I’m going to go the Olympics and won a medal, it went from that to — well, I am kind of ticked off and I want to win by a luck, and as no – there was no mean descendant or no personal agenda in it, there was just — I’m not going to disappointed like that, I’m going to prove that I can do it, so I think that was biggest part of it, yup.

[audience member]: Sean, you said that you made a change to the butterfly [Indiscernible] [0:79:36]?

[SH]: That’s a tough question. The question was knees lower and butterfly what I said about that by making it less balanced? I don’t know if the term less balanced is accurate, I gave a – I had showed models and I talked about models, I gave a comparative model, Michael Phelps, his knees are very low, there’s a point in his stroke when he’s about to kick or is, if these are his lower legs and this is upper leg, he’s almost perpendicular here and he drives that way, your knees have to be pretty deep to do that, I guess where the balance point would be lower, some more accurate, is that fair? Yup, yup

[audience member]: You talked about modeling certain points [Indiscernible] [0:08:38]?

[SH]: Yes, a lot of video, you know, pick it on Dr. Wey, this wasn’t a pivotal thing, but I – just to give you an idea of at least the intended comprehensiveness of it, we had a department here from one of the best engineering schools in the world, who gives a fluid dynamic lecture to high school swimmers about how the water works because I wanted them to understand, to understand the base level, this is what you do, this is why, when you go like this, this is what you do it. So, just constantly building on all of those things, just being relentless I guess in teaching, it says a big part of that, yup?

[indiscernable question for the audience]

[SH]: Right. The question again was about fly and would you create more final resistance in that. Kind of going, backing of the story a little bit sooner. I don’t know, I’m not going to say for anybody else’s athletes. But in 2008 when we first got technical suits to play within practice, different brands. In fly and the girl we modeled of out for freestyler; Andie Taylor the 209, 200 meter butterflies, so she’s a good flyer, we had another girl l who went to the Olympics for a different country in fly, he was a good flyer and the girl that you saw up there, so we had some really good butter fliers. And the way I was teaching you was to be very balanced and all of them when they put that suit on, it messed them up or they didn’t swim right and my opinion, it kind of made them right differently in the water, so they would – if he would come out too much, so we just made their knees lower, that was what, yup?

[indiscernable question for the audience]

[SH]: The question was, have we gone back to more balanced or the flatter or whatever was fly for already now, and mainly because even though our girls are little bit against what I said about focusing a little bit more on the 400 IM this year – she’s still primarily a 200 IM in my mind and in her mind. If we were looking more to spread both events or look to the 400 IM, balanced would have been like being perfectly balanced would have been a way to go, she just feels like and I kind of agree with her specifically because her legs are so good, she has such a good kick, they’re keeping him a little lower, its a little bit fast for her, doesn’t necessary mean that I’ll teach you that way, but it seemed to workout for her better. And using Michael as an example his legs are pretty strong too. So it’s just a change for a specific athlete that I might not use other places. Hey, Arie? Anybody else, anything?

[audience member]: I’ve got a question.

[SH]: Alright.

[audience member]: Can you go on from a more [Indiscernible] [0:84:19] more efficient. what kind of think you are doing on a daily or a weekly basis to achieve that performance?

[SH]: The most basic thing is, they have a certain numbers of strokes they get and they have to do it and they have to do it and they have to do it, and they have do it. I remember here’s a good story for you, when I first went to Seattle, Arie was actually the youngest girl on the group, there was another one named Allison Shoemaker, who shims are brown now, and he would have been a pretty good swimmer and she may have just turned 13, this is how mean I am. We did a 30 minutes swim or something like that 3.30, I have been there maybe a month and I was harping on about do you stroke count? Do you stroke count? Do you stroke count? It’s probably we were outside because Aquatic Center was shutdown for repairs and it was probably 35 degrees and she was this big and we did a three thousand and I go through and I am randomly pick people and count them and I told him before hand if he took many strokes there you are going to get time, if he took many strokes you are going to do it again, she did it again, both of us, I got a refries too but she wasn’t happy about that, but now she had not been pretty good, that’s how, I do it at least, yup.

[audience member]: How you come out with those amount of strokes I know its for swimmer [Indiscernible] [0:85:47]?

[SH]: Trial and error, and I look at time-reversal engineer from – what the best in the world do, at least the ones who are trying to duplicate and scale her back and have it, that’s a good question, I mean, have there an end point, at least they not necessarily write in predicting their end-point, but have an end-point and then work back to, you know, like if, the girl right now who made the world championship team in the 400, Charlie Houchin a 3:47, and he really wants to swim the 200 also and he’s pretty good 1:48.4, but — and he’s not quite strong enough yet or whatever. He spend lot of time looking at Michael Phelps’ two hundreds and how many strokes and underwater and stuff like that and I can’t remember exactly what it is, but I think Michael is like 14.5 or 15 cycles per 50 long course only by 142, and I think Charlie was about 15.5 or 16, he’s just not ready to do that, he can try to do it, he can do those right numbers but he’s not going to go very fast, so it’s working in that direction, is that makes sense kind of?

Sponsorship & Partnerships

Official Sponsors and Partners of the American Swimming Coaches Association

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe and get the latest Swimming Coach news