Preparation of Brenton Rickard (’09 World Champ in Men’s 100 Breaststroke) by Vince Raleigh (2010)


Published


Okay, good morning everybody. I’ll introduce myself because there is everybody else around. So my name is Vince Raleigh, obviously, from Australia. It’s interesting, how they set-up the room after the function last night, because all the news is all about this Hurricane Earl and over here the hurricanes has gone in the opposite direction to what they do in Australia, we call them cyclones, you call them hurricanes.

I think I am here, I go right to the left and we go left to right. So the whole set up this morning is for me to be on the left you know sort of down-under [Indiscernible] [0:00:49] now. Anyway, my background in coaching, I got involved in coaching virtually, a person asked me one day after a football grand fall that I’ve been to watch, I want to get involved and learn to swim, I was a school teacher at that time and it was you know, an opportunity I thought to make a few dollars on the side and after few weeks of doing that David Urquhart was another guy who is now President of Australian Swimming, ironically. Now say that there’s a local school for — I was working in Brisbane and teaching high school history and economics and doing a bit learn to swim and then like a junior school. Summer program I supposed is what you call over here in the U.S. I started to work there and I started the work go there and watch Larry Lawrence, Larry Lawrence is from where I’m from which is Townsville which is in North Queensland. I am going to show you a few slides about that.

You know that’s where God goes to have holidays in North Queensland it’s a very nice place. But most of my coaching career, after starting and just learn to swim vices then working a bit with Larry Lawrence. I came to Canada for three years and coached here the first national team. Actually, mine was with a Canadian team, back in, I think it was 1999. I went back to Australia; my twins were born in Canada. We went back started coaching in Queensland once again. I started directly coaching in Queensland and then I went to a private boys school called Nudgee College in Brisbane and it’s a famous school for Rugby. You know, the present Australian captain in Rugby there is a New Zealand guy here they have being kicking us in the Rugby regularly lately. But you know, but the principal was to go in and get a swimming program up and going and my background in teaching was a good fit. He said, Vin you have to come in and teach a little bit which was a couple times a week, and that would mean you have to teach a swimming program. And from that we developed a club brothers, and out of that Brenton Rickard, came to school follow his brother and you know that was 16 new journey up until Rhyme. And so, I’ll put this presentation, I sort pitched it a little bit on long-term development.

The other thing, I don’t think now if I’ve mentioned it but I’m presently working at the Institute of Sports in Canberra, and that’s definitely where God doesn’t go and have it solidize. And in a month’s time after the commonwealth games, after my commitments to the commonwealth games, I am going to takeover the national youth job. So my role will be working with coaches and swimmers to get ready to put them on to the single team that’s going to be my next job which I will start in November. This is obviously about Brenton Rickard. As I said coaching for 16 years after the Olympics in 2008, he came to me and said, “I’d like to go back to Queensland” and I said, well so would I and he said you know like his girl have a job up there as an architect, so he would want to go back and I said, “Well okay will go 12 months and make sure the next 12 months is a very good one and then leaving up into Wales. He have…he had a fairly good Olympics. He came to me about two weeks later and I said, well “I can understand your reasons why you want to go back” and you know I said, “We better make this year which was 2009, 2008, after the Olympics 2009 a pretty good one.

This is a rise in rhyme, it’s one of the things obviously people have been talking a little about the suits. We didn’t have much experience with the suits. I think, you know — but there was, you had to make alterations because I have eye function and how you are struggling. One of the main things basically was after using the suits we said, “You got to go down in 17 strokes rather than his normal 18. Like for him, if he goes down and say his normal strike count is 18 and 21, if he goes down at 19 or 20 he is over doing it, and if he goes down 17 or 16, he is under doing. He says, “It’s a very fine balance doing this stroke. We talked about that. We will have a look at the race first.


As Olympic silver medal in the 200, how is he going to go in the 100 meter breaststroke? We will find out very soon. He has moved up reasonably well just slightly behind Shanteau in lane 4; in the bottom of the screen you can see Barbosa, Titenis, then Brenton in 6, coming on nicely, van der Burgh of South Africa in 5, Shanteau in 4, Feldwehr of Germany in 3, Igor Borysik and Duboscq has broken the world record in 2

[VR]: Brenton is in lane 6, he is turning… he turns 50 here, but I thought he had a pretty good turn. One of the key things in winning this race of…

: Van der Burgh looks fantastic, the South African champion looks brilliant. But Brenton is going with him as well, good positioning for Brenton being right next to him, he is trying now Brenton.

They are coming towards history less than 50 meters to swim and Brenton Rickard, who has never won gold before, he’s right in the mix, [Indiscernible] [00:07:15] is also…line one is also there as well [Indiscernible] [0:07:21] he’s broken the world record. It’s been a long time coming but finally the right kind of medal for Brenton Rickard and the timing couldn’t be better because this one stands out. Oh! What a finish

[Laughter] he smashed the world record as well.
[end video]

[VR]: It’s a lot of…it was interesting, I think he got second in the worlds in 2007, maybe 3rd in a 100 2007, and at the commonwealth games, he had – he got second Morgan cannot be, I think 1 the 200, he beat Brenton by 100. Brenton got 3rd in the 50 and the 100 and Gold medal in the medley relay. So, he was always zero there – but in those last few years leading up to this. One of the things that I am certainly aware of and my high performance coach to say he is aware of that.

On Olympic period, the year right before the Olympics you really need to be in the Top 3 in the world, if you going to be a chance to win an Olympic medal. And if you are the gold medalist you will have more than 50% of winning the following years. So, the journey over Olympic periods is about pushing you rankings up with doing at least to get you into that position. As I said, kind of look at these sorts of things pretty quickly. You know for the age group coaches, it’s a long term development. I was lucky privileged to coach this lad for 10 years or 16 years I should say. I’m going to talk a little bit about this because breast stroke — when he started to develop probably around about 16 or 17, I really want to have a model to what I need to do to develop him to world class level.

Key technical areas for improvement, you’ll see some other races here and this is a little not a good in screen, but he has had position much better than Brenton previous years keeping stable and smooth mentors and role models that’s both for the athlete and probably for me. People who had influence me in developing my ideas of breaststroke, and then — this is more of the high performance thing, trying a lot of key sets, test sets that we did, and there is a bit of video on stroke to whether we get enough time to watch all of that type of things. But that’s the progression that I’d like to take.

This is obviously a map of Australia, but Brenton started swimming up in Cairns for North Queensland, if you every get a chance to holiday this is probably one of the best places to go. He was up there, learning to swim with the coach called [Indiscernible] [00:10:44] then his brother. His brother was a national team member and was university games gold medalist. Nathan Rickard in the 53. So he was — when Nathan came to school where I was in Brisbane around about 15 and Brenton was 10, and then we where there obviously a long time and then I went to Melbourne for two years Brenton followed me to Melbourne. I was at a University program there, Universities are completely different to your Universities in support whatever. Monash we did two years there and now I got the job at the Institute of Sports where I have been for nearly six years.

So it was a fair a bit of movement, and there is a fair bit of movement in becoming world class as an athlete. You’ve got to move up the ranking as we said, if you want to become Olympic medalist you got to get yourself in top three positions, at least a year before the Olympics, that doesn’t guarantee you, but it certainly gives you a much better opportunity. And you know, one of the things that we — a bit of trial and error, I found that a winner preparations we’re lacking something that we had in summer. We were going to international meets and not performing up to what we had done in the pervious summer. And so, we started to put in place. 2009, I went to [Indiscernible] [00:12:22] and then before rhyme in 2009 we went to Flagstaff, which I see a lot of people here go to Flagstaff. Although I am saying them up there, although I’ve been talking about the last couple of days.

So it’s a great training environment? As I said, first coach at Robert Rowley [Phonetic] [0:12:43]. He came, he swam 100 breasts he got silver in that and two in a medley he might have got 3rd that was in 1994. His father worked as like a meat inspector and got transferred to Brisbane. His brother 50 meters sprinter was in the Australian team 97, 98, and 99. He missed the Olympics in 2000. Nathan won in Messina in Sicily in 1997. So he was coming from a good swimming background or good pedigree I think that’s what we would say. If you’re buying race horses and you’d buy it, but he really — he wasn’t like his brother. His brother was a very early mature, and I think his brother sort of made a way for Brenton. Now, Brenton understood what swimming was about, he wasn’t initially very good except for the initial as a 10 year old. When I first started to coach him, he really didn’t do anything for the next four or five years. In that, there was, I feel was my fault but I think probably because he didn’t try very much.

These guys were quickly like you know, as I said as a 10 year old then came to 46. He swam everything and this gradually. He got to a stage where he probably didn’t see himself as a swimmer. I took the year off [Indiscernible] [00:14:27] just before Christmas, I took the year off together at the beach probably for a holiday, and I would have probably said, “that’s okay.” And so, his early years it wasn’t full, full on swimming. At 15, he starts to move a little bit, at 16, he started first time he won. 105 this is a state ties in Queensland and started to actually move.

As an age grouper and the key thing here that I’m looking at in the long term development, because that’s something I have to look at, he played basketball. He played rugby. He wasn’t very good at it. He wasn’t bad at basketball. He did a lot of things that I think for my experiences, there is lot of mild swimmers if they get the sense of awareness appropriate sense awareness – space awareness, I think it’s very good for them. And he certainly was allowed to do that like — for Brenton in this period, swimming was just mainly a summer sport. As he go towards the end of high school around about 16 or 17 he probably would had had maybe two months off, three months off rather than four, five, or six months off.

When you are coaching is like developers, it’s important I used to say to the assisting coach, “You have to make sure you see the talent that’s in your group.” The fastest swimmer in your group if you’re a club coach is and this is why I am a club coaches, this is a Nudgee College brothers swimming club, may not be the fastest in the group. So you have to have a plan to keep them in the sport, and also to bring them through. This girl here is Samantha Riley that little – when I first started coaching at Randall Heights summer program, when I was still high school teaching. I told her to swim, and ironically – she was assigned like in that club program there, there were probably three or four other girls who were probably better than Samantha as a breaststroker. At I don’t know 10, 9, 8 years old. Samantha Riley, didn’t start to develop until she was 15 or 16, and then she went to Larry Lawrence and then on to Scott Volkers, I had that stage moved down from there and went over to Canada to coach.

So these sort of people, I think, having this sort the background seeing what sort of things you know, young talented people can do. When I go to another breaststroker maybe a little bit more away. I will just read this to you, “Breaststroke is a stroke that many people can do, but few can do very well. And Larry coaches struggle with that I think. You know, the breaststroker is promptly born and if they don’t have the ankle flexibility, the movement in the hips necessary it’s probably difficult to get my child to be swimmer. They can swim three stroke can’t swim the breaststroke, probably never going to be a medley swimmer.”

So we are talking about Brenton in the final year, this is his last year in school. At 17 he looks about 14 still. His mind grows spread probably happened the year after high school. But we started right one of the things that being in a boy school and a school that was rugby oriented, to get the boys involved in swimming program. We have a big emphasis on land work not necessarily logged land work but we thought them how to do [Indiscernible] [00:18:56], they did a lot of other work, just to be how to get them involved, and he was involved in that. He certainly accelerated this growth last year of the school, he was an excellent student. In Queensland, the system is if he get OP1, all the students in the state get grade from OP1 down to OP25. Brenton was in an OP1 which is the top one percent or something like that.

He went on did a science degree majoring in statistics, and then he’s now doing his masters in business, presently. But he started to come and we were involved probably about 17 or 18 in the national talent ID and Lee Nuechem [Phonetic] [0:19:59] was the youth coach, the job that I am going to go into Leigh is going up to the head coach. He used to run these case we run it two or three times a year, with all your talented breaststrokers coming together. We don’t have probably the numbers — in a programs you know, so you know, go to University of Arizona a lot we can, this year you see a lot of people training against all [Indiscernible] [00:20:31] and developing. So what happens we bring them in the camps and we run what we call national event camps or national talent ID camps. So the breaststrokers might come in once or twice a year, and Brenton came in 2001 and 2002.

This is a club team, we went to Avolite, this is Brenton here, some of this guys. This girl was an Olympian in 2000, this girl won the World Open Water Championship 25K Josh Santacaterina some of you might know him or might not know him. This guy swam for New Guinea as you can see and he also swam for Australia for short course and the number of the kids made nationalize teams. So we had a fairly strong age program it was based at a high school, so focus was at that level. And obviously, Natahan Rickard was not in that focus he must have been over 18.

So, moving along, he makes his first national team in 2002. He went to Moscow and got 17th in the 200 breast. Short course swimming, I think is very good for the well how can I say it, it’s good for inexperienced athletes and maybe for athletes to try and keep in the sports for a bit long in keep them stimulated. So Brenton was — that was his first on trying to the national team, the same national team. Then the next year, when we are in Melbourne, he went to Barcelona on the senior long course team and in the heats he set a Australian Record, 1:39 that was 7th but he didn’t swim so good in the semi-finals and missed out in the semi-finals, but that was a fairly good result for us at that stage.

Then, moving on in the next year, he missed Athens and that was a major turbulence and you know a major disappointment. I read a quote which says something like this, “The road to success is paved with disappointments.” Well this was a really I’ve already said a big stage in his career where he really had to look at what he was doing and it might changes. It quite painful but luckily the end of that year here in Indianapolis we had the world short course 2004. And he came along and he swam very well there, he got second in the all the races behind Brenton and hence I think maybe Brenton didn’t swim all the races or maybe the [Indiscernible] [00:23:38] my pronunciation is probably not correct but that’s how I say.

So he did quite well and that was good because it was shortly after, and I was trying to think about because we used to walk down the canal which is just near the hotel here and it was so pretty warm. And so, it was in 2004. I don’t think if anybody else was here, I think it must have been in October or something. Is that right? Yeah, it was still pretty good weather. And so, that was very encouraging and then, we moved after that to the Institute of Sports, but the results after pretty good nationals were not as good. And this is why you know — I had to start examine what wasn’t going quite right for us here. We went faster back here. And so you know, looking at that, I thought our program, our major trials are in March usually and then we have like 24 weeks or 20 weeks to the Olympics or the world championship. And we don’t have — domestically we don’t have many worthwhile or high level of competitions, so we have to get some worthwhile for us, in your summertime or winter I have to get some [Indiscernible] [00:25:14] and get some competition.

The next year wasn’t too bad. We didn’t have to worry about that because we have the Commonwealth Games in Australia and this is a pretty…really a breakthrough made for Brenton. Commonwealth Games as I say we got 2 bronze in the 50, in the 100, silver here and a gold medal in the medley relay for us and with a great sprint. Then, in that the Pan Pacs were in BC. He swam very well big [Indiscernible] [00:25:51] in the 100 breast that was his first big breakthrough. He got 4th, but a huge PB [Phonetic] [0:25:59] in the 200 so that event was starting the move for him. And I really think this two makes back to back we’re very good for him.

Then the next year Melbourne once again wasn’t easy international competitions for us because it’s in our backyard, I think it might have been in April or something. It was early in the year because a lot of the European countries had a lot of trouble with it. Wasn’t March or April or something? March and so it was like the Europeans were having sort of the same sort of problems that we consistently have to face going the other way. And to a lesser extent probably in America. So as I said here he got 3rd in the 100, 2nd in the 200 and in the medley relay one, we only win the medley relay when America fall starts. That was one of the chances and [Ian] Crocker was very kind to us he false started. So, this was I thought a pretty good made for us and we concentrate on this few separate things and I will be talking about that in a minute. And at the Olympics we got 2nd in the 200 breast. I think 5th in the 100 and 2nd in the medley relay.

We haven’t been noted for many breaststrokers in the males and Samantha Riley in the females. We have [Indiscernible] [00:27:50] in female. But our history, in the 100 breaststroke hasn’t been that great internationally. And so, Brenton was a bit of trial in this sense, he was the first Australian to break 61 seconds, the first to break 60, and first to break 59. He’s the only Australian male to win a gold medal and it was in Olympics and so he won in 2009. We have a swimmer Anna Bron back in the late 60s who won a gold medal at the Olympics in the 200 breast.

Now, this is you know probably not that clear, but this is the same swimming in 2006 where I say this is a key backstroke for him? But if you look at the stroke, if you can see it enough he certainly over uses his head, and he is not as smooth as I think you need to be to be the world class breaststroker but he does a good swim


But earlier he make the 100 meters, Matthew Welch is fighting on here, he has done a very, very good leg, when you look at the Commonwealth record Australian owns it, Matt Welch was in that side 54:52, at that occasion, not far of at 54:84.

So England lead in men’s four-by-one. The Australian swimmer in the water is Brenton Rickard, Michael Klim will swim and so will Eamon Sullivan for Australia. And going very, very quickly is Brenton Rickard who had a magnificent 200 breaststroke earlier.

I think if you look at his head position here, he moves a little bit too much and he shoulder at the front end of his stroke. And this is something that we’ve been working on, we had been working on 2007 and 2008, maybe in 2009.

It is certainly Budweiser, the guy who is Chris Cook, who won the 100 and the 50.


[Indiscernible] [00:31:00], he has bronze in the 50, bronze in the 100, zoomering the 200, Brenton Rickard not able to swim he has been a bit unlucky, to get a couple of those Commonwealth medals, but he goes back on equal turn, he has got to be a huge split for Brenton Rickard, his fastest here I would say. That’s a nice inspiration of swim tonight, Rickard’s breaststroke.

[VR]: Okay, this is a world breaststroke progressions, usually you know when [Kosuke] Kitajima and [Brenden] Hansen used to bounce around, usually taking about .8, .1, something off the record. And then when the suits came in, it seems to be 2%. But I mean it’s not all about the suit, you still have to be able to swim. But you know, but you know, it was a bit of a shine and rain last year because that there was too much talk about the suit, and all not about the swimming. So, these are being the main people, this is the Ukrainian guy who broke it just before the world in 2009.

He is 100m breaststroke progression is typical I think of a lot of swimmers, it’s not always, a lenient strike down progression. He had a few peaks and plateaus, it’s a matter of trying to bring him through that and look at reasons why. A lot of the reasons why I felt in the hundred was that he over swam the race. Like to swim very fast breaststroke, I used to say to him, he can’t give a 100% effort. To swim fast breaststroke, you have to be like 97 or something. I’m not exactly sure but you can’t be — you can’t force a stroke. And his problem was that he used over right, he used to rush what I call what I call the connection, the corners of his stroke. And so, when we got that fixed up he swam, obviously a lot better and that was in the run.

This is just statistically — Brenton is here, I think it’s a greenish — was it a green color, or bluish color. Now, he is a green dotted line, his time progression you know 61 in 2003, 62 or something at the Olympic trials then it was basically down. At the Olympics he went 59.65, so he was coming in a 100 and then the last year with a suit and the world record. He’s progress has a percentage change in world record is quite significant. The event and the distance, that I always felt that he was physiologically best at or most cope at is 200. Psychologically, he wasn’t the best at that, you know lot of swimmers who probably like that, you saw in his 200, he just keeps on improving.

Now, I think it’s because, you know, we did a lot of work on stroke counting, so he knows that when he goes out, he has to go out on 14 strokes and 15, 16, there might be 18 or 19. It’s much more controlled. The tempo is around about 35 stroke right, where as in the 100 it’s… probably he started when he was a kid around 50, 53 and Byron was about 46, 48. So, has he got better and stroke rates came down. But he would – he is – as I said he was a pretty gifted academically, and he would come out of races and if I’ve done the stroke count incorrect, he would know. So, in short course I don’t know how he to do it but he started as youngsters counting his strokes at training counting his strokes. He would come out in 8 laps and say, ‘Okay you went out in four strokes, five, five, five, six, six.’ He would say no I was, four, five, five, five, five, then six. He didn’t know. So I think his awareness of when he was rising, was pretty good and he could his count himself that our coach made a mistake, he would just let me know. So it was always good.

You know swimming and what I want to say here is with this guy it was a fairly long journey. He’s still swimming and got second in Pan Pacs in 200. You know it doesn’t seem right, two hours back in two minutes. In my case, it was 16 years and then 58 seconds. So it’s like it takes a long, long time to put this together and then it’s either in a very, very short amount of time. But I think it’s about you know, when I think about his progress, I think about you know the competitions we’d been too, the training camps. I know they really like the training camps here, the flag stuff we met at the front room before the Olympics and that was good. It was a bit spot in front of them but it was a good altitude and good environment to training.

This is why I set up to do with him back when he was probably about 17 with lineage and went through and say “What do you have to be, to be a world class breaststroker?” If you’re going to win medals at the Olympics or world championships, what do you think you need and obviously we’ll talking about a male breaststroker and I don’t think there’s any difference male or female we’re talking about — the first thing you have to be technically smooth and efficient at high speed. You need to go with the water and not fight it. Skillful starter, he was a very good starter. He’s 6 foot, I supposed, 93 kilos. Now, he was a pigmy when he was younger then he just grew. So, we looked at that, in 2007 we got all his starts, the body mechanics, 50, 200, 100, whatever we could find and we found that his best start to the 15 was 6.54, all these races like hundreds of races. He made it a goal in 2007 to try like 6.5 and in the 50 at the world championship he went I think from memory is 6.38. So that was broad mechanical goal, we’ve set ourselves that year.

Then going back and you can get this information, I mean if you were a swimmer it doesn’t matter what event. Go back and get the broad mechanical analysis and see what the best people are doing, and we found that this is probably in 2000. People like [Indiscernible] [00:39:21] often and those guys were probably turning around 8.5, that is 5 meters in 10 meters out. So that was a goal to be better than that. He was 8.50 in the final, it was 8.4 in the semifinal and 8.37 in the heat. So we made that a goal. His problem was actually coming home. So we did a lot of work on, set up way you practice, how fast you have to come home and — now, initially for him when he was younger he had the bright 32 seconds. That took a while to do but we developed sets, and well, I give you examples of sets. It might be 8x50s and on 1:15 where you have to haul 32 or better.

Swim off they might do that twice. That sort of thing we do on the first afternoons. So, back in speed work, stroke rides initially were quite high, stroke camp, first lap, we want it on the 20. If it was over 20, he was overriding and if — by run he was about 46, 48. So, as he go better athletes need to be strong and powerful because breaststroke is recovered under the water, I mean all the breaststroker I have sow were — as I said I was in Canada when Victor Davis was still swimming, very powerful breaststroker. Steve Lundquist won the 84 Olympics and I never saw him in person but he always look like a giant to me, and so we might — this a part of our gym work was very important, three times a week and the year after the world championship, four times a week and then plus two polarizations, so six sessions throughout the week for him.

This was something that we tried to get him to do the look forward, say; we get more distance per stroke. So before in 2006, and in that video he was swimming more like this and after 2007 we started to get this happening. I think this is – I think he might have it certainly looked swims is a lot better when he’s looking forward. Don Talbot was our National Head Coach probably from 90 to 93 and 2002. Don had a great eye for breaststroke and probably all of the strokes. Don used to come in – we used to call – I don’t know we used to call him into his face, but everybody used to call him the IMV Ant [Phonetic] [0:42:39] and but he was terrific — and one of the things Don said in the late 90s he had a National Coaches meetings. He’ll be saying, “Breaststroke is changing, the people are recovering much shallower and he — well, I used to always look at his head – Brenton elbows were say for having least resistance.

The other thing that Don said and Gregg Troy talked about it yesterday, he said “The kick is much narrow and less and strike back together but it’s not big, not wrap a long way.” When he talked about his IMA yesterday, he said, ‘after of the knee injury, his kick was ultimately he didn’t recover as far up and his kick wasn’t as big.’ Something that I think if you cannot swim really fast breaststroke the narrow — and feet together is probably something that seems to be the training.

These characteristics obviously if you don’t have the God-given gifts, knee flexibility, hip ability, the internally right tight ankles, you can’t be a great breaststroker. We had a physio who used to give us exercises when we were in Melbourne and we continue that at the AIS. We’re working on that, because if you do a lot of breaststroke at training you have a little problem being all to do enough breaststrokes, unless you manage this.

Finally in speed, Tim Kerrison has been working and now he’s gone to bridge cycling I think. He was working with swimming in Australia for a long time. Developed charts on how fast you have to be at different segments of your race, and you know finally in the speed charts for Brenton that he probably could get up to about 25, 30 meters. So if you say this is the speed, you have to be 12.5 at the 25. You could probably do that and made a gap for 30 meters but in season, he could never get over 30 meters. But we do that focus on the last 15 meters of your race telling him to look forward, keep a stroke length rather than going to right. Stroke counting was the key thing to him in training and competition. Power work, we did power work twice a week, you know half sits, sponges, we do a lot of work with sponges, middles, I think Mary Carlson, but we go in sponges. And then how much a drill patch stroke combination you know, I found that Brenton as he go older, he could do a lot more breaststrokes than what I saw nice people on the national team could handle.

Like early season we didn’t do or we did medley in freestyle but like season, we did this. This is a paper that I picked up in Beijing, it was Katie Jammer and the type of position you need to get, the hips, the ankles is what I think, unless you got this ability, you can’t be really world class. And you can improve it and you can maintain it, but unless you can actually do it in the first instance you probably can’t do it. Can I have a look at the video of Brenton’s swimming? This is in 2007 technique. I don’t know if you can hear the commentary but it’s just — it was after world championships, he probably had about a week, two weeks or from going back and we did this for Australian coaches.


It’s Brenton Rickard, gold medalists in the 100 and 200 breast demonstrating technique. One of the key things, I look for is base position where his hands and feet are together in a straight line. It’s important that in breaststroke when swimming that you get great distance for a stroke. Brenton does a lot his work on stroke count. As you look here we don’t want too much head movements, and the body really travels fast is just below the surface. As we said before this is the base position. In the breaststroke most of the power comes from a combination of the legs and the arms and with the arms, we’re looking at more propeller types sweeping motions rather than pool push, as you’re having say butterfly freestyle and backstroke.

[audience member]: You can see his kick there?

[VR]: The movement is predominantly

[audience member]: That’s what I was talking about.

[VR]: 10 years to 15 years ago it was sort of more around and together. But now the modern breaststroke is pushing back and together. It’s very important to have great ankle flexibility and hip and knee joint mobility. When breathing in breaststroke, we want the swimmer to move with the stroke not to have a separate head movement. It comes up with the arms stroke catching away, his body, neck and back moves rather than he’s head bobbing up and down to take the breath. It is important to look forward when taking this breath without too much head nodding and interference with stroke like the front. The modern breaststroker recovers his hands close to the surface a number of the — a finest breaststroker is to bring their hands out just about the surface at right speed. Now what we’re watching at the moment is fairly easy technique but Brenton is trying to get his hands up just in front of his chin and keep them close to the surfaces as he recovers bend forward to the full extension. The style of the stroke, the swimmer presses outwards and some of the breaststrokers press a little bit up.

[audience member]: Look I might.

[VR]: It is a “Y” position and then starts to catch him at – the catch position as where the head starts to come up for the breath, so the breath is going out of that.

I will just I forgot to mention something here. This is I think — well, when Brenton’s stroke wasn’t going right this is Leisel Jones. A good breaststroker starts to catch-up near the surface, and creates a whirlpool if I start up near the surface with your own store. If I’m looking forward tell tale sign where the heat stroke was on, I’d be looking for this. But it’s about — getting yourself in a strong position, keeping your elbows high, the armpit tight in for longer. I’m slipping on this stroke.

Leisel Jones obviously much more foot dominated than Brenton Rickard. This is a couple of things quickly, You know, I think you can at times get too technical about your breaststroke, you don’t over coach it, you know, the swimmer will, you know, getting feel good about his stroke, make it smooth. I think my understanding is right, I think with swimming in a breaststroke at training a lot of club programs have small space so you need a breaststroke, you need a breaststroke – you need space time and to do it and that was one of the reasons of sort of like encourage made to move on to coaching in the situations with less people, with better space.

Terry Gothical who coached here and he was Australian Olympic coach, this is the key — this stroke has to be long, flowing, rhythmical, wall scribing, the least possible resistance. Endeavoring to let each athlete to develop their own individual touch or feel for the water. In other words you know your breaststroke might be feet dominant arm dominant my breaststroke orthodox flight breaststroke, but you have to workout with them what’s the best, and according to the attributes. And but I think if you keep them a long flowing and smooth develop that as your main criteria you’ll end up, with some good breaststrokers.

This is 2007, I was you know, before I became the breaststroke coach, I seemed to change my hats, I was always a National Spring Coach. And we did a camp in Townsville where I’m from and this is Linda McKenzie who swam with me up until 2000 and she was the anchor 4×200 relay gold medal in Beijing. Where is Brenton, Eamon Sullivan, he was the World Record holder and 2nd in Beijing and Ian Thorpe great swimmers, probably never saw the best of it. We went fishing, took them fishing during the National Event Camp, it was a mild national event camp but Linda wanted to come because she is also from that part of the country and this creek was called alligator creek. We don’t get any alligators in Australia. We have crocodiles in this creek were [Indiscernible] [00:53:14] just after Townsville. Tony is sure he is not here this morning. He went in on another boat, and I went fishing with the camp, as I caught zero fish.

I think it’s a bit like breaststroke. Unless you own it, unless you’re in the right spot you don’t catch the fish? And if your stroke is not on, you don’t swim very well. Like in breaststroke, you know your stroke could be a bit off when you are two or three seconds off. If you are a bit off in butterfly or backstroke or freestyle you are half a second off. So you really have to be right on technique. You have to be right timing the right spot. So, this is like a tourist promotion, so you can go fishing. These fishes I called Barramundi very nice eating. And I think in North Queensland you can catch these fish. So, where all the good people come from Larry Lawrence, myself, Brenton, Linda, great place for — have a holiday.

Now, I’ll get through this quickly. As I said, I was lucky to coach in Canada for three years, a place called Peterborough, Ontario, “” was down the road by two years away at Tobico. I used to go there every Thursday morning and watch Paul train, have breakfast with him. He probably taught me more about breaststroke than any other single person. At that time he was coaching Allison Higson, was World Record holder in 1998, got second at the Olympics, but she went out in two extra strokes or three extra strokes at the 50 same time but Paul was always talking about how you transition, how you dive and turn with Allison.

Cliff and Barry, was there Victor Davis, as I say don’t tell Don Talbot a lot about the kick, the recovery, the narrowest, Lien Eugene is now our present national head coach, helped me developed model for breaststroke for Brenton Rickard, Johanna Banashek. I spend time in the States. As you know Thornton at the back there — I visited the north. Johanna Banashek, and we talked about Barrowman his breaststroke. Jenkin was alive, he worked with me in Brisbane. Ken Wood, coach of Liesel Jones, and was very good in supplying a lot of ideas on breaststroke. Terry Gathercole you know went on a camp with Brenton team and I was surprised the first time we went how much breaststroke they were doing. So Terry was the guy who got me on the idea of doing more breaststroke with the breaststroker.

And then we have Scott Volkers coach of Samantha Riley, Barry Prime from the UK –in Australia now in Singapore. A very good breaststroke coaches for my networking. And then on the internet, I always try to read articles from Eddie Russ, “Just nagging on breaststroke”. So if you’re looking and trying to get yourself depending whoever walks in the door or it’s a backstroke or a breaststroke or a freestyle, you need to get the information that seems to be, a lot of people more of them willing to help, you and I certainly appreciate that our views, and I always found the American coaches in particular most generous.

This is a sample week, we’re trying — this would be like we build up to ten sessions then we got back to nine. We build up the program to about 50K a week, and when we go back to nine we leave it at 50. So his normal weight on Monday morning we do towing. Towing is — it’s a risky work to do i.e. just putting the towing machine; you can do a separate [Indiscernible] [00:57:52] on the tow it’s like a pulley system are you familiar what I am talking about. The Europeans would be I’m sure. And you can just calculate the time you want, six and a half is 2/10 for example. Put him on that you got 6/200s on 2/40. The machine is doing most of the work. The breaststroker has to learn how to swim cutting resistance. And I think that’s, I mean Jonty Skinner came out I think this year or last year and talked about, they looked at Brenton, i.e. they talked about his shape in the world something we really – but I think working on towing machine was good for him, for his resistance.

Now, on Monday morning we do towing of all through or arriving breaststrokes, and then in the afternoon — then some sprints maybe 20s, 25s and not a lot. In the afternoon we used to do I called hot right service. You guys will probably go threshold to max it out to probably in that four to six mile range. So he’s going 3x 5x100s on two minutes with a 100 recovery. Depending on the 5s a year, the 5’1s might be you know I might say 1.19 and the next set 1.17, next set might be 1.14 or something like that. Then we did a lot of these works. I 50s metronome hold at 33 seconds or 32, metronome is the tempo or the beep in the area so I know his tempo and we did that Monday afternoon.

Tuesday morning when short course power circuit like power, sponge, vertical kicking with whites and short sprints 25 from pushes usually. You know, they are the simple one way to go. A hundred time divided by four minus one second. So, for him say sixty, divided by four, that will be fifteen and you had to push in 14 seconds, pretty simple, everybody knows that one. It’s an old thing that somebody taught me over here once. Then in the afternoon, he didn’t like doing this, but I always thought it was pretty important – 1600 meter kick sets. Maybe eight 200s on 330, best average. He would average like 3 minutes, 3:02. He could do better if it was one or two, but and then we would go 16, 100s on 150 best average again, we do that maybe the next week and then some 50s the following week.

So that will be a common thing and then maybe some more work. He was a very good freestyler. He swam 22.5 short course meters for 53 sides. He did that. Wednesday morning we do test sets. We often do step tests, five 200s to same or ten 100s, three aerobic, two at threshold, one at Max Vo2, one at what I call lactate high lactate, and then one in Max or something like that. I can show you that in a minute. In the afternoon, early season, we do spin or boxing, just general fitness stuff. Then Thursday off, and then we did some power mechanical stuff that week. [Indiscernible] [1:01:46] more a like this sort of work, and I have got some examples of that. Friday morning, short course. Tuesday and Friday short course. So Friday is mainly recovery and then Saturday would be a quality set.

This is a sort of a quality set that he did probably more as an age grouper. He would not have done this in recent years. 24-50s on 130, one dive, one easy, that sort of thing, holding 30-31 or something like that depending on how he was. But this, you know, between 47 to 50K each week, not much difference. Build it up to that might start off in the afternoons only the first week. Start the gym the first week. Then after a couple of weeks, [Indiscernible] [00:62:41]then maybe put a couple of mornings in. But after a preparatory period, that was a fairly much training hard. Before typo, I don’t know if many people have been talking about this, but I think there are different people respond better to altitude. He was one that I always felt always responded well to altitude, we did test with him at the University. On his new blood cell improvement, he was always the biggest improver. At the IIS we have an altitude house, and we guide all price call Thredball by which we do not have mountains in Australia, we just have a little hills.

Thredball is about 1350 meters. We are trying to walk up to 2000 meters. We did that in the summer and then we started in the winter. And we’re getting good results in the summer competitions then we start in the winter. At the end, when I wasn’t getting the results in 2005, and well I thought we should be getting of good summer results. We started to put that into places like [Indiscernible] [00:63:59] then Flagstaff. And then all of those high altitudes will come down and rise. We come from Flagstaff, we go to Towson, [Indiscernible] [00:64:09] and then to Santa Clara. 2009 in shorts he went 2.10 meet record at Santa Clara coming off altitude. So it was always a very good of that.

Trying frequency went up to ten, but I only did that for maybe a month and then went back down to nine and then in Taipei like the last week, he’d be lucky to come once a day some days nothing. He was a great racer, he loved the race. They liked the races — the breaststrokers too I think. Land work focus especially post-Olympics in 2008. We bumped it up to four times a week instead of three times a week, still kept the Pilates in and occasionally did spin in boxing. So that is four, six, seven. After the Olympics 2008, I have heard a few people say it, the athletes have a bit of a letdown, especially in countries that – maybe like us where swimming is quite a high profile and they get looked after they get taken out and it takes on the wall. And maybe it’s an emotional letdown to get them back going. So I didn’t worry too much about it. It is like we’re going to do a bit more land work not swimming as much. He went to the trials in 2009 swim fairly averagely really, went 101.6, 2.12, just great in the 200 and made the team, but then he was ready to go again. As I say, we did it fairly toeing on Monday, fair bit of breaststroke in workouts after a preparatory period of five or six weeks. She used have that quality, said, world preparation, I was said that the four, [Indiscernible] [1:06:13] I think his turn, I think won the race. He wasn’t the fastest turner. He was the second, but I think the other bloke might have to do one extra dolphin kick. [laughter]

May maybe two, but I can’t say who it was. Anyway change work out, anytime we were doing a breaststroke series, and I got examples here, when he fatigued, he could not reach the target, he’s just a little generally a bit crowdy. Forget about it. If he came in, he felt he couldn’t do the workout and he tell me and I would tell him that would be fine, because I have known him for sixteen years and if he said to me, he wasn’t up to something I would believe him or I would see him and would tell him stop we are not doing this. So I think somebody else said something along these lines in the last couple of days. A faith in that, that athlete, you have to develop that with them.

I sort of mentioned this before preparation period, say, maybe starting four or five times a week peak load, this would be when he is doing ten sessions but only up to 50K. The games whether it would be domestic or coming here North America or Europe and racing then we go back home transition period we would be coming down sessions probably 8, 7 and doing a fair bit of quality work after altitude we could much higher level of anaerobic work. I think their time score its specificity face or something, the other day. And then the taper, he was at least 4 weeks – big guy, the legs take a long time to recover. Major competition takes about a week – eight days and then after the competition seven days/ten days at home, back in Brisbane or somewhere like that or Bali or wherever else they go.

This is a common – this is a training set that we did – we did this set – it’s, you dive fifty here and then the 200 meter people they are on one 30, they do four 50s. Brenton does a first fifty the second fifty recovers in the third and does pushes in the fourth. So these are pretty good times, for the other guys so he is doing ten 50s one dive and after each set of four, you do 200 recovery and then you have about four five minutes rest. So it is really probably closer to their back ends before the hundred, but if you’re looking at turnaround maybe there would be more backhand speed for the hundred. Then we had, of course, this institute has got really good testing facilities. They have a jacket suit – speed, I gave them a jacket suit it’s tested and we tried it and this are times so he is normally, he is lucky to break 30 off the dive in a season. He goes 27.4 [laughter]

And then instead of holding 31s he is holding 29s. So did the suits make much difference? I think so. [laughter]

[VR]: I think they made a bit. So that is a set we did. We probably do these two or three times in a preparation more towards the end. Then this is another set and this an idea that “” gave me he said you swim like broken 200s with fins on, short fins, you dive the first 50 with short fins 26.6; push a hundred, 58.4 push a fifty. Or no, dive the hundred and push to size 50. I don’t normally add them up, but somebody in sport sciences add them up. I don’t think, it’s about quick philosophy using your hips which I think is a key ingredient in the modern power of breaststroke. You mean, your arms, using your core, and so we did that, I think that’s 600 meters. So that might be something we do on a Wednesday morning or a Saturday morning. This is a set, a very like, this is an example of doing a lot of breaststroke practice on Monday morning. I think the set, it is three 800s, so 2400; you go 300 kick, a hundred kick on your front and a hundred on your back a hundred hands on your side. Then three 100s, put one kick to then, usually it’s a low stroke kind of coming back; and four 50s to say in the 200 pace on one 30. In the next round you go 300 pull with fins breaststroke three 100s pull one kick; two it would be, put one kick too and then 50 breaststroke on 150; and four 50, so one 30s by fifteen to twenty meters.

The 300 breaststroke even stroke count at even split five 30, three 100s, negative split on one 50 as long as they got the same stroke count looking at distance per stroke being a part of that model and four 50s, except the 15. So that would be, he would not do that set very often, but he would do it maybe once in a preparation, once in a, about a Monday morning. Here is a few of more examples I know that people like these things. This is a good one, this is in January 2008, and this is not far out from the Olympics. Similar types for sets you are going 75 meters. I am trying the whole time from a push of 50.25 stroke rate 35. So it goes one 75 there is a split, there is a time; the two 75s, then three 75s then four. Then I tried to get him to do it twice, and this killed him. So we got down to number, I don’t know what this is 16 or something, I said forget about it just do the 50.

So I think there is a point where if you’re doing poor breaststroke you are probably causing more damage, but the lactate six, four, as it had, he wasn’t a high lactate producer. But pretty solid work this. Using, probably used aqua pacer or a metronome for this. As he has got better, he has gone time through that. So the ten 75s after each block there would have been like one or two hundred swim off. So he has got a little better, he has hit down to 48, 47, 48, 48, 48, 48; very, very good. Lactate 6.6, and then we wanted him to go eight 50s, push aqua pacer, he is holding 32, so pretty good work for your 200 meter and then at the end of all that he has to dive under 30. That’s pretty slow, sorry to say it. But, and they are pretty good results. Like these are at the beginning, and this what you get down to closer to the meet.

Actually, I think Tim Carrison, and you guys were doing a fair bit of this sort of stuff. [Indiscernible] [1.15.34]. Everybody is copious of everybody, so it doesn’t matter. Maybe you’re copious me. One of the test sets that we do is a step test five 200s to the same followed by a 100 dive, fifteen seconds race a 100 push, and four 50s on a minute. But the way, I look at for this, and he was, and he normally like that is the best he ever did on this step test 224. He is a 207, even without his 208. So that’s a sort of, in season, that is what he was like. But I am really looking at finding from the sports scientists, what are the training speeds. So on Monday afternoon when I am doing what I call heart rate set, you would call threshold the max Vo on Tuesday. I need to know 3-milli mile speed, 4-mili mile speed and max Vo is two-speed. This is important and we will do this a couple of times this season – probably we will do 4 or 5 week from meet so we’d have this information. So I can establish my other training set speeds. So we did that probably in a 24-week period, maybe three times, but always at least two and going into the meet five or six times weeks out, we would do it again.

[indiscernible question from the audience]

[VR]: The race was on five minutes, five 200s on five minutes the same.

[indiscernible question from the audience]

[VR]: I’d let them have the swim off, 400 swim off then dive 15 seconds between. Then they do another 200 swim off and then 450s. Okay, this is buddy Nash, as I said, he was a runt of a kid, but he ended up being a pretty big unit at the end. And the key was keeping him involved in the sport for a long time. His skin falls normally it raced around 46 to 48. His muscle mass in the period that he was at, this is at the IIS, from to that pretty constant improved a bit. We do skin falls probably not that often may be before the major meet and probably six to eight weeks before that. Probably three week, two to three weeks after a major meet, and six weeks before that to see where they are at. So physiologists will give this out.

These are the things that I said before to be a winner in the 100 breast, you have to be skillful with your starts, turns, finishes. If you look here Vandenberg is the best, Brenton is pretty close. The next fastest is down here somewhere, I think. All right, so these are critical things and you have to work on training you have to get people to help you. The biomechanism will give you feedback on where they are at and where you need to go. I think it’s sometimes good focusing, if you have got a four-year period on one skill a season, if you had enough time. Making that a go. These sort of charts, I used to give to Brenton, he would love these sort of stuff. I would give them to him.

I would never go to him with this biomechanical analysis say this is what you did or this is what you did right or wrong. I would go and give it to him then I would say, ‘what do you think?’ because he’s a lot smarter than me, so I would go to him. He had the mathematical brain, but invariably he would give me back what I think he needs to do. And I think he is taking ownership of his swimming, his racing all that sort of thing. Finally, and then a couple of questions, these are critical things again only Shanteau and Brenton broke 31 seconds coming home in run. Stroke counts, as I said, the only race play I gave him was to be at in 17, don’t be at in 18. And then his turn, 8.5; and I think that was the velocity he got all off the turn really helped him. Stroke drills if anybody to watch him, if you get time, but we should probably do some questions I think, if anybody wants to ask a question. Yes.

[indiscernible question from the audience]

[VR]: Well, I think the world record time after the suits, the Ukranian and Brenton progressed more just because of the suits. But I think he was already moving. The suit didn’t do it like he was in the Olympics silver medalist, like he was improving coming there. I know, sometimes when you decide that the suits will take away what the athlete has done as well and the coach of course. Okay. Yes.

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