Program Longevity Through Building Community Spirit by Ron Marcikic (2003)


I am going to start off this talk the same way I would start off a workout. I want you to look around and find somebody you don’t know – two people you don’t know and introduce yourself. I am going to give you about twenty seconds to do that. Okay, did you notice what happened. Did anybody notice what happened? It went from a quiet room of strangers to a bunch of people who know each other. Often times at a workout you will have people that know each other in their lanes and if you coach a program as large as mine where we have 430 athletes you could have fresh faces in every lane in every workout so start off by introducing yourself, okay? Are you ready? Okay, now these are two things that I like to do; consistency – bring everybody into the same pot, everyone into the same family, you cannot be mad at somebody in your and if you know who they are and #2, always be fresh. Give them something they don’t expect. Keep them unaware. My name is Sickie. I coach at the University of California here in San Diego. I have been there for over twenty years so after twenty years of doing something I am either really doing something really well or I work at a University where they don’t want to get rid of you and I have made myself fit in without any stress with anybody.

As I go around and listen to some of the speakers, everybody has all these great stories from years a ago; I came in on Thursday and was talking with Teri McKeever and I found her in the hall right over here and she is sitting on the floor and she had all her papers out in front of her and she was going through trying to put together her talk for that afternoon and I talked to her and when I first came to San Diego she was a little age group swimmer here and I was coaching age group and I introduced myself and she said oh yeah, I remember you, how are you doing? and we had a little five minute talk back and forth and I said Teri, what do you like about coaching? She said, you know what I like? I like the fact that I am going to be the last coach these athletes ever see and I laughed. Why did I laugh? Because she is not.

We are the last coaches these swimmers are ever going to see and then when I pointed that out to her she said she had to change that in her talk. Did she change it? So, it is important. She loves the sport of swimming. She was a great swimmer as she was growing up and her whole view of these last three or four years was the fact that she was the last coach these guys were going to see and then along comes this masters coach. So, I am going to talk about this

Program Longevity (I don’t think it is very good grammar) Through Building Community Spirit, but the best formula you can use for getting your program going and keeping it strong is consistency because athletes recognize consistency and it ain’t always about swimming – honest – it ain’t always about swimming.

We are going to start off with some basic definitions. Community: a number of individuals associated together by the fact of having common ties or interest. What is our common tie? Swimming – okay? We get them there because they want to swim, but we don’t keep them there all the time because they want to swim. There are two differences between all the coaches that are out there and us. We deal with people who are already developed. They have got goals, they have lives, they have lifestyle, they have family, they have huge commitments in their world. Some of the people we work with are doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, business men, wealthy multi-millionaires, poor people.

All here, the coaches at this clinic, are working with undeveloped swimmers, people. They are still trying to figure out what their philosophy is in life. They are still trying to work on their goals. They are still trying to work on what is left and what is coming up in their lives so, we are working with people like ourselves who already know what we are doing, okay? So this community is built around swimming.

Very quickly, this is the first Power Point presentation I put together. I thought it would be kind of fun. There are 90 slides so, lets have – lets have a good – my wife said, “how many slides, how long do you get to talk?” okay? So we are built around swimming. We want our pool to be full. This is one of our morning workouts in the summer. We average somewhere between 60 and 105 swimmers at workouts. This is what we want. We built around it. our community of people are swimmers. They interact with each other before they get into the pool while they are getting ready. They talk about what is going on in their lives. They talk about their training routine. They talk about the next event coming up. As they get onto the beach they are still talking. They continue to talk. I encourage them to talk. I try to keep them talking about all the things of their lives that are important to them as well as important to me and then every once in a while we stop and we talk some more.

We all have common character. Put everyone in a locker room, take their clothes off, put them on a pool deck, put them in the water at 6 in the morning in a wet Speedo – you cant hide your character. That is when the best comes out and our swimmers and I think everyone here is going to agree with me – the swimmers that we deal with are some of the best people in the world. We call it the top .1% of the people in the world that you want to deal with and that is them, okay?

Now, Community and Spirit: lets talk about spirit. Everybody has it. that which is believed to be the principle of conscious life and a vital principle in humans. Pretty strong words for spirit. I think it is right. You cant get no spirit if you aint in the pool. This swimmer has been with me for over twenty years. I have had swimmers in our program for 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 years. Our kids grew up together. We started off as single adults and we have gone through the years into where everyone has families and now the families interact. Now what is happening is their kids are getting married. They are having kids and now the next generation of master swimmers is coming along. Kind of cool.

Spirit can be shown in many ways – very unique ways. I encourage people to show individual things. We like to encourage the personalities to flourish okay? See what I mean – one day I am walking around with the camera on the pool deck – everybody is hamming it up – running right up to the top of the screen – it aint always about swimming. Okay?

Some basic definitions again – coaches philosophy is what makes the difference. Everybody here has, hopefully, a philosophy, okay? It is a system of principals for guidance in all problematic affairs. You know exactly what it is you want to do. Mike Collins has a beautiful program up in Irvine. I have a great program down here in San Diego. There is a pretty good choice. If he came in and ran my workout and I went up to run his for a couple weeks, everybody would quit both programs because we are entirely different. We do things really differently. Our philosophies are out there a little bit differently. We both coach swimming. We both coach masters – adults, but how we do it and what we do is a little different. His swimmers are used to him and my swimmers are used to me and hopefully by the time we get done with this you will be used to me too.

Someone has to take charge. You have to be a leader. You cant sit back so I have a coaching staff of 11 other coaches. It is really easy for me to sit there and bring someone else out to run a workout but if they are not going to take charge of that workout for me then I have got to do it for them. All of us in here have that same role. We are head coaches. We are in charge of our program. We are in charge of the people that are there. we have got to be in front. We have got to have the opportunity to step forward and do something about it. my philosophy has a lot to do with aloha – notice – aloha shirt? Aloha flags? One year I had an extra five or six shirts so I put them on poles and made flags out of them. Fly it – fly your philosophy – live your philosophy – believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to flaunt it. show it off a little bit.

Another part of longevity. Another part of longevity of your program is showing your swimmers that you are not afraid to work a little bit for them. Every year we do this. We have a pancake breakfast. This is me and our head triathlon running coach, Terry Martin, cooking pancakes for 150 swimmers. It is a little hot. It is a little sweaty. It is a little bit – sometimes demeaning because people come out and throw strawberries and raspberries at us, but we are giving them an opportunity to see us work for them. It is an extra – one of the extra things that we do for the program.

Guidance is about creating a look that your community can grow into. How many people here in your program have clothing attire? Right? Why? It is not to make money is it? no, because you want to have them have a little identity so we have t-shirts, sweatshirts. We have swim events that we give all this stuff to and they got to wear stuff anywhere and if they are going to wear it you might as well have them wear something that is going to broadcast your program. This is our best advertising right here – this fellow walking down to the beach at La Jolla cove tomorrow. We don’t advertise other than that. Word of mouth and what we wear – very important.

Give back to your program – show your appreciation for their participation. How many people here in your program give things away? Ahhh, why do you give things away? Because you have extra money? You want to get rid of it? No – we give back to our participants a little bit because what they are giving to us is #1, they are giving us their service, they are giving us an opportunity to work with them and they are keeping our business solvent, right? They are paying some pretty big bucks to train with us so in return we are going to try to give them little things back.

The stuff I was throwing out – stress balls – we have other things like water bottles. This year we handed out CD holders. We have decks of cards. We have a pancake breakfast every year where we give everyone a spatula. Its not much – they all have logos on it – they all kind of advertise the program, but more than anything else what I want all of our swimmers to know is that we are willing more than ever to give a little bit back to their community to help build that relationship between us – very important stuff. Even the littlest of treats and I don’t think I spelled littlest very good – how many people give treats at workouts, okay? Jelly beans, liquorish – at morning workouts this week we had a big huge pot of animal crackers and people get out of workouts and get in there and eat these crackers so anything you can give back – the littlest of things. If you walk along the pool deck, little Pez with Pez dispensers in it. it is a great tool for a nice workout. You can have two or three of them in there and year old load them up – there is about 25 or 30 Pez in there – swimmers are just getting done with a bad – really hard set you know, they have that taste in their mouth and they are going God, is it – the pH level off a little bit or is it me? And you just open a little Pez and they go ahhh. God – it is like gold and it is just a little piece of candy about that big and they will take off and they will say ah, this is the greatest workout. Little tiny Pez and you can buy these things for a dollar and a half and get refills – Pez – write it down – get it and Pez are like Mike says – Pez doesn’t pay for me to do this so I am doing it on my own.

Group travel events are a huge plus. We have been going to the Maui Channel swim for almost twenty years. We have been sending a team there and one year we took seven teams. It is a great event. You don’t have to go that far. Some of you are from back East – that is a pretty long haul, but this is one event that is kind of nice because it is a relay event on Saturday before Labor Day and on Labor Day you do the 2.4 mile Waikiki rough water. (were you there this year?) did anyone hear about it this year? 1200 some start and 300 finish – not one of the races you want to go, but yeah – pretty tough.

They had a typhoon that came through there and there is a lot of current driving people the wrong way – helicopters pulling people out of the water, peoples hanging on buoys trying to get out. we had a couple of swimmers and she said she went by buoy #4 four times. So imagine you are swimming along and you see the same fish looking up at you – what is this guy doing? you know? Just go in there – that is all they did – back and forth and the fourth time through she figured out I think I am just going to swim in because I am not going anywhere, okay?

So a group travel event – anything. It could be a travel event to a swim meet – it could be a travel event to a rough water swim – it could be a travel event to a clinic – it doesn’t even have to be related to swimming, but if it is it is a big plus cuz that is always a good thing – swimming.

Once again – definitions: facilities. Does everyone here have a facility? Okay? Hole in the wall – hole in the ground – has water. If you don’t have a pool you cant have a program, okay? Some of those are new. Some of those are not so new – they are old. It is not what the facility is to you it is how you use your facility. You can walk into the worst pool and have the best program because of your philosophy, your outlook and what you want to offer. You can walk into the best pool and have a crappy program because you expect the facility to draw the people in. it is not the pool.

Your basic swimming pool empty – God what a sad site. We don’t like to see this. This is our pool up at UCSD. This is the way it should look, what it looks like when it is filled – bodies everywhere. Okay now – normal swimming program. Everybody has this stuff okay?

You have a workout schedule. You have a training routine and you have some program events – normal and somewhat normal. It is what you make of it. it is what you can do. It is how you expand. This happens to be our workout schedule. We have workouts Monday through Friday at 2 in the morning – those are long course during the summertime, then we have a 1 o’clock mid-day workout then a 6 pm Monday through Thursday. We cancelled the Friday night workout because everybody wanted to go home with their families.

When we started the program everybody wanted to go to the beach and party. As we got older we just want to go back with our families to have pizza. We have a Saturday workout and a Sunday workout. We have short course workouts – we have long course workouts. Our program about twelve years started a running program – also for adults. It became very famous and then about seven years ago we started a triathlon training program so we have all three routines being offered now at the same campus. We use different facilities but it gives us a lot of variety.

Once again – talking – getting ready to start okay? Its all about getting ready, its all about getting people in there. we have many coaches on the pool deck. What kind of guidance do you want for your workouts. Coaches, once again, the head coaches will direct this. You can choose the coaches in your program that you want. If you are a brand new program then you have this huge blank slate that you are starting off with and you can put anything else that you want on it so run with it.

Training Routine: we are committed to our developmental season. We have a lot of triathletes so they go through September – Iron man Hawaii is in October – we have quite a few athletes that do that so we train really hard after the La Jolla rough water. We will have three weeks of tough stuff and then starting the 29th of September we go into our developmental season. I think most of the programs do that. Everyone here develop your strokes in your swimmers? Same time of year, right, September – early fall usually – September – October – November? Yes. Anyone do something different? Year around, yeah – always have input, don’t just offer it once and say oops – I did it in October – too bad you missed because we have people who are always coming in – always coming in. and then we have our short course season which runs through may. Long course season which begins – we do one a week long course April and May and then in June we go every morning. June, July, August and September every morning and then we have our rough water focus. This is a little scenario of what our phases look like for our development season.

Try to hand out the information so the swimmers know what to expect- what is coming so no one is taken by surprise. The last thing you want to do is step out on the pool deck and everyone look at you and think they are going to get a workout and then it is going to be this. We have a lot of swimmers that call these things junk swims, okay? Drills – junk swims. Triathletes – they don’t like doing – like Mike said – they don’t like doing a lot of non-freestyle events so they have to learn to do the other strokes, learn how to do the other events to get excited about them so that it makes some sense to them, okay?

Short course training – there was nobody in the pool and it was the only time I could take a picture – that is why there are no swimmers. Who has a small pool to work with? Five lanes – six lanes – okay? You don’t have long course correct? What do you do for long course season – what do you do to make it more exciting? Stretch the pool? Instead of doing 100s do 125s. instead of doing 200s do 225s. you find a way to make it work for you – make it work for you and then of course we have rough waters – oops – not a rough water picture, but it is in the ocean. We do a lot of this stuff with us too. Every week I take a group of people on Friday mornings – that was yesterday – 8 o’clock and we meet at a place and we surf together as a group – just kind of fun stuff.

You know, what is nice about San Diego and I am sorry I like to brag about this city – it is beautiful to do ocean swims. It has been 72 degrees or more most of the summer and we have a great place, La Jolla Cove, where a lot of people swim, but you can swim in any part of the ocean and it is so pretty, so nice to be surrounded by the water, swimming through and we have a lot of groups that have kind of pulled themselves together that do this throughout the week and throughout the weekends.

When I first started coaching we had a group that met every Friday night and you bring your kids and you put a big circle out here and you put a couple of barbecues in the middle and you barbecue and it becomes a big family event. Well what has happened now is my kids are all older so I don’t go anymore but there is a new generation – the next generation – they are showing up Friday nights – making the big circle – put the barbecues in the middle. The adults go swimming, a couple stand up and watch the kids so it is the next generation so it is all these other activities that help bring the social aspect of your program together – what has helped keep everyone together – everybody is a friend – everybody likes that. It is more interesting that way and this is what it would like if you are swimming La Jolla rough water – anyone doing the rough water tomorrow? This is what it is going to look like tomorrow: a little kelp and a bunch of people swimming – getting kicked in the face – losing your goggles – even a little swear tactics. Anyone train their swimmers like this? You got to do that – a few of the program events.

Something old – something new and then a little bit about the coach’s philosophy and person and then some seasonal options. Any idea what seasonal option would be? Anyone have seasonal things you do here? Give me a season – Easter? Seasonal? New Year’s day swim – great idea. In the ocean? In a cold place?

We have a little thing that we do – it is called the swimmers a week award. It starts off as this little – crappy little trophy. Now it is handed out every week in each workout to the swimmer who is best at fulfilling what the coach is looking for. You don’t know what the coach is looking for. Each of the coaches can award this for any reason. I gave it once because all the people that were there had gotten it in the past and there was one gal who I hadn’t seen for about six months and she just showed up so I gave it to her and what does that mean to her? She has got to come back now because I recognized her so swimmers take this thing home –it starts off as this little tiny trophy. They can do anything they want to it – add to it –subtract to it – add it to something else – this is an idea of what it turned into once – see look right in the middle above the water bottle is where the trophy is now. Maybe seven or eight or nine or ten swimmers have had this thing and it had little metamorphoses all the way through and then we gave it to the guy who is the architect in the family and the art man, he came back and he had this big huge shark head and he put the trophy in there.

Now what we do with these trophies at the end of the season is we take them and we reward them to swimmers at the banquet so what has been going on through on a weekly basis through the season, encouraging people to participate, show up and basically just attend has turned into an award that we give out at the end of the season and someone is going to get stuck with this in their house and there are other things too.

Mike was talking a little bit about offering video tape feedback. We do video clinics. We charge $35 for six people and we come in on a Sunday morning. It takes about two hours – two and a half hours and we videotape what they look like and replay it and give them a little critique – stick them back in the water – replay it again – get out talk about it and like you said – a picture is worth a billion words because all they do is look at it and they go – God, I didn’t know I was doing that. I didn’t know I looked like that. It makes so much more input and emphasis in what they are doing on their strokes and then at the end of the day we give them the tape and they get to keep it and they are gone.

Now here is the key – it is a great tool, but you have to kind of go back to the swimmers and talk to them. You have go to ask them a couple of things, #1 have they replayed their tape since they got it because many of them will take this great tape home and they are looking at it like it is gold and they will put it down and I don’t know what your house looks like, but if you put something on the table in about four days it has 20,000 items on top of it and you cant see what is on the bottom so you have got to be persistent. Talk to them – say hey, have you looked at your tape lately? Have you seen some of the corrections because you don’t look like you are working on it so you have to stick with it. it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if you don’t follow-up, okay? So you can have all the greatest clinics and all the best feedback but if you don’t follow back up with the swimmers then you have got 90 people who have been to your clinic who are still doing the wrong thing because they just learned it that one day and forgot about it so it is up to you – the coach – to continually remind them of what’s going on. What did they forget? What do they have to remember?

There is nothing like a great distance workout. Ten 500s. we have spring long distance training that we do April and May. It is two months. It is offered four days a week – two days for people that are faster than a 1:30 base and two days that are slower than a 1;30 base. This gives them an opportunity to train at some distances that we would not normally do. Ten 500s is not a normal set that we would do in a workout. It is a lot so this workout begins at 6 and it is done when they finish. We have a three hour block of time – 6 to 9 o’clock in the morning that we can use. Some of our distance people will stay in and finish the whole set because once they start they want to finish. Now it is only a small group but once again, we are trying to find some very specific things to help encourage people to come into workouts – stay at workouts and get something that they are looking for in there – very important stuff.

Try to offer a little bit of everything for everybody, okay? How about a taste of the coaches philosophy and person? Yesterday Scott Rabalais and I were talking a little bit about this thing. This is the LCB – the long course bike. Twenty three years ago, maybe twenty four years ago I started riding this bike around the pool because I found that getting here after I talked to a swimmer to over here (oh thank you) was really tough because sometimes they would get down to the end of the pool and I had to go around the diving well and all the way around here before I got to them and I just didn’t want to run so I got myself a bike. Well this is the LCB and something gets added to it. on the left handle bar are – a numerous supply of goggles that I found over the years. Swimmers come in all the time looking for a pair of goggles. I got you know, 15-20 pair on there. it has a little radio, but the best part is when we are doing long course I can get from one end of the pool to the other way before the swimmer – I can check them out on the side. I can get it to the front and get a front view of what is going on and when they get there I can talk to them and tell them what is going on. Then I can zoom back to the other side of the pool if I have to and I see people waiting and deliver a set so it gives me a lot of freedom and a lot more movement.

Two days ago was the first anniversary of my hip replacement. I had my left hip replaced. I had an electric scooter for a while – that was fun. That was fun. Everyone borrowed that thing you know, you get – they come out of there. it’s a quarter to six in the morning and they go ahhh, the scooter – get on the scooter and take the scooter down to the end of the pool, yeah. They showed up for that. They could have cared less about the swimming – they got to ride the scooter.

This is another one of our awards. We do a lot of goofy things – you see the gal in the picture is holding onto a 23 pound award. This is the best characteristic of a master swimmer’s award which recognizes the swimmer and best characterizes a master swimmer Of course, they have to take this thing home for a year. This is a perpetual award – put it someplace – I don’t know, where do you put something that is about two and a half feet wide and three feet long and weighs 23 pounds? You put it someplace for the year and at the next banquet you bring it back and we re-hand it out. we have a list of who it goes to. The thing that I am holding onto on the side is a – it is a bronze – I am trying to think of what it would be – it covers the gutter on the side of the pool – the flush deck pool and when they renovated the pools they took all of these out and were going to throw them out and I found them in the trash so I took as many as I could and had them sandblasted and made plaques for them so the swimmer gets this perpetual award that they get to hold for a year but they get this other really cool thing that says “UCSD” in bronze and of course it is kind of pitted and gross, but it is a collector’s item and they get to keep that.

It is kind of fun and we have a whole bunch of these type of awards that go through for the swimming program, the running program and the triathlon program. Yes, sometimes it is fun – some times it isn’t. the Aloha spirit is undeniable between friends. We encourage everyone to wear Aloha shirts at our banquets. We have opportunities to dress like Ciki at workouts – I don’t usually look this good. Usually I have clothes that don’t match on – a lot of the times, but what is great about it is everyone has fun with it. I enjoy having people come and make fun of the way that I dress. I enjoy having somebody come on deck and saying, my God – I have heard some weird things about you – what are you going to do today? and I am thinking, God, I don’t know. You know, cause deep down inside I am like all of you. I am a very serious coach about what I do. I want everyone to learn as much as they can about swimming and do the best job they can, but I also want to have a lot of fun so how do you keep people around for over twenty years unless you have a lot of fun and that means they are going to poke fun at you.

We had somebody yesterday who was talking about the swimmers coming in late – is she here today? Yeah – time – when I first started doing masters years and years ago I got a group ready for nationals up in Mission Viejo – I was really excited – this was going to be great. I had 25 people going. Everyone was serious. I had all the plans written out and I had all the copies given to everybody and after the first week I realized they are only coming three days a week so I got mad – what are you guys doing? We are going to Nationals in four months and we need to get ready and they said, okay we’re going. Well, no – you cant go like that. This is the way that you have to prepare and they said, well, we cant, but we are going to Nationals.

Okay? So about two or three weeks later nothing changed so I sat everyone down that was going to Nationals and said, here is what we are going to do – here is what we need to do – here is what has to be accomplished – where are you? and they said, oh, we are all there. so the next couple of weeks? Where are they? Three days a week they show up and I said, you guys and they said listen, you know, we have lives. Some of them are coming in late. I tried locking the door – they climbed over the fence. And then, not only that, but then they are sneaking around to try and get into the pool without being seen because I locked the door and they climbed over the fence. So that told me they want to swim so maybe my standards are a little bit in the wrong place. Maybe I need to re-assess my standards and what I expect of them so that I can fit what they want into my life. It took about a year. It was tough. I wasn’t going to stop. I wasn’t going to let them win – don’t let them win, okay? Perhaps a little seasonal options – seasonal option. See, you have got to be willing to make a fool of yourself if you are going to be a good coach.

That is me – webby claws – he comes out every year. He has been coming out for many, many, many years. It only happens once a year of course, he also – webby claws also makes appearances at some of the age group programs in town where he gets pelted by water balloons and kids pulling on his pants and trying to knock him over. The cool thing about webby claws is he walks on the pool deck with squirt guns. Ahhhhh yes, and everybody knows him and their kids know webby claws and it is kind of unique.

What happens at Easter time? Anybody? Any guess? Webby bunny. You bet. Webby man was a factious character that came out of 1973 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I was rummaging around in somebody’s trash underneath the pool and found these really weird fins and on the back of the fins they said webbies so I took the fins, put them on, and put a mop like thing on my face. Here we are trying to get this team at the YMCA cruised up for nationals and get them really fired up, but I came walking out of the bowels of the pool, dressed with all the stuff I could find down there and these things on my feet going ahhww, and everyone said webby man so webby man began in 1973 and he is there to this day and they love it.

Here I put shaving cream on the face, try to give the girls a kiss, people are screaming and trying to get away from it so don’t be afraid you know, do something different.

We are not too far away from Mexico so ___________ is a holiday here. We bring out a guy that plays bag pipes. Not everyone can do that. You got to have someone that plays bag pipes so I realized that we have Scotman – a little Scottish guy who was in workouts about eight years ago and I said, don’t you play bagpipes and he says yeah and I said would you like to play. Sure, so he comes out for ______ in between the workouts in the morning and he walks around the pool right as these people are finishing or right in the middle of their hard set and he is walking around and you are swimming and you hear %^& and you know what that sounds like? And they stop in the middle of workout and #$%^* – walking around the pool and it stops the whole workout and everyone thinks oh my God – _______. And we have chips and salsa and we have lime juice and maybe a six pack of beer sitting on the side of the pool and remember – this is 6 o’clock in the morning. We want to celebrate that, but anything you can do – anything – don’t limit it.

Okay, branching out into the world – taking your program to new places, integrating your self into your program. You already thought we had new places, right? Getting there – we have an annual pancake breakfast – you saw Terry and I cooking a little bit a while ago – this year over 40 pounds of that is dry and crusty pancakes – a little scary. These people are doing that. This part of the pancake eaters – they step up –everyone brings whatever they want to put in the pancakes. From anchovies to strawberries, from sardines to lobster, the more gross the better. Whole table is full of them and what we do is we try to put some hidden ones in there. okay, we are going to have three or four sardine pancakes and we cook them while no one is looking and we put them all in three or four big vats and when they come out they don’t know what they are going to get. That is what the batter looks like – before we start of course and then we have some pancakes left that we throw around on the grass that gets a little bit hard and now you know why – we make all our pancakes with beer. And we have people that come out and say “you’re not using that in the pancake mix are you? and we say yea, of course – well I am not supposed to drink beer – why? I am on a diet. Oh I say, this is low fat beer – it doesn’t matter, but the beer adds a little bubbly stuff to it – it is so great – it is the only way to do it. okay?

We also have our normal sports – we don’t call it a banquet – we call it a banana-nanaquit. Okay? Something different – anyone can have a banquet. We have rented bowling alleys – entire bowling alleys and had a banquet where they bring their family – everyone gets out and gets a couple of alleys. We have awards. We have snacks and we just take over for like two or three hours and go nuts – totally nuts. They give you the loud speaker and you are yelling. We have bowling pins that we award for events. Handicap bowler, couples bowler – you handcuff a couple together and they both bowl on adjacent lanes and you give awards for it. stop everything and spotlight – we call it spotlight bowler. Stop everybody to watch this guy bowl. He has been bowling strikes the whole day. Everyone stops – spotlight bowler lane 10, okay now what’s different? No one is doing anything, everyone is drinking beer and going oooooooooo yea now his guy cannot even roll the ball down the alley,okay?

So finding a reason. This was our reason this past year. We had a great setting right above Scripp’s pier in La Jolla – can’t beat it – beautiful – a gorgeous day – 72 or 73 degrees, sunshine, blue sky. A gathering of about 150 – we sold tickets – $2.00 a ticket – fully catered – all beverages – beer, sodas – six or seven different catered menus. Do you think the $2.00 paid for it? no, its not about the $2.00. it was about getting everbody there and charging just a nominal fee so they felt like okay? Yeah, I have my ticket I should be able to come in there and eat lobster with everyone else. It was a great event. We had more food than we could actually eat. It was a great event – had a great time.

Once again, its another opportunity to reward the athletes for what they do best. We award several categories in all the sports; swimming, running, triathlons and we really ham it up for everybody – have a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun, okay? The coaching division: Success is not an accident. It is like when they say common sense is not common. Success is not an accident.

Making the vision live without you – that is one of the hardest things we have to do as coaches. You are the head coach of a program. You may be able to run one or two workouts but you have six. Well, someone else is going to run the rest. Somehow you have got to make what you want to do live out there with everyone else so you find a way okay?

The face is more important than the body. Everyone has one. Some days you wake up it is not the right one. When you go to work – it has to be. We will show you. we will talk about that. Coaching as a lifestyle: they kind of do it to the personality of the coach – a service to the community. It is a lifestyle. It is something we do.

If you noticed on the stuff I threw out, didn’t I write “fitness is a way of life” for athletes – fitness is a way of life. For swimmers – fitness is a way of life. Isn’t swimming a lifetime sport? Are there others? Go like this – no – there is only one – swimming is the only sport you can do forever. You can walk maybe, swimming is up there – #1.

The face is more important than the body. I stress this to all of my coaches. I want to see your face and they will come in to work you know, a quarter to 6, in the morning and Yuck that’s not the face I want. Any idea what we are looking for? The face – this is the face. What is it? it is something you can put on and take off when you walk on the pool deck and walk off the pool deck. I guarantee you – I am not the same way at work as I am at home. My wife will verify that. I am cranky when I get home sometimes because I have had to be nice for so long. If you have to be nice for three hours that means you got to be cranky for three hours somewhere else to offset and balance it. give me that opportunity – well I am sorry – I am going to be cranky at home. I don’t want to be but you have to balance it somewhere, okay?

The face –notice anything yet? I stress the face with everyone else. You can get up with a head cold, three days with the flu or you had the wrong kind of food and you had five days of the bad stuff, but when you walk on the pool deck you are a different person. You have to be able to put on the face and the face is what our customers see. We are providing them a service and if we don’t look like we enjoy being there for the service, they are not going to like it either.

The face – the face – starting to get it – it’s a good face. It is a happy face – it is exciting – it is inviting. It causes people to come in and join you. I guarantee you if either one of these women walked up to you when you walked on the pool deck you wouldn’t leave would you? No, hey, they want me here, even if you don’t know them. One last time, no matter how you feel – always let them see the face – the most important thing because we are a personal service community. We are giving something by what you see okay? And if you are not – if you are going to be yelling or you are going to be angry or you are going to be sad or you are going to be sick, show them a good face and then feed them that stuff later after you get them in the pool, after they pay the money because it is about money right? Isn’t this a business for us? I have been doing this my whole life. This is a business so we create it like a business. Treat it like a business, but treat everybody like your friends okay?

Coaching as a Lifestyle . It is a service to the community, friends and we will talk a little more about this later. Family: increase the awareness of who your swimmers are and who is in their life. Are they single? Do they have kids? Are they coming in for a couple of years? Are they passing through – are they students? What is important about them? They train together. They will seek out other training partners within the program. That is important because now you are giving them another opportunity to grab at what they want and you are just giving them space, a new community. The old community – the old guys like me are phasing away and my kids are going off to college and the new kids are coming in – the younger masters swimmers who said –no I am never going to get married – I am never going to have kids – they are having kids. The new community. They are forming their own community within our community and we encourage that.

The old community –all the old farts you know, every year we do this swim from La Jolla Cove to Scripp’s Pier and back – three miles. Five of us started this swim 22 years ago. No one thought they should swim there so they didn’t, but we did it for four or five years and pretty soon it became a little bit more of an event and now people do that swim four or five times a week, when they didn’t even do it at all. This is getting ready for one of those swims. Last year we had an influx of foot and a half long giant squid into La Jolla Cove You could smell them and you could see them with their little eyes looking up and the water was black from the ink so we didn’t get a chance to do the swim from the Cove. We had to move the site so you never know what you are going to get.

Some tips to help make it all happen. Know every swimmer’s name in your program. There is a secret to remember, okay? Lets see here. Lets pick on somebody earlier, right? You introduced yourself to a couple of people you didn’t know? Right here, introduce yourself. Who are these guys on each side of you? Did you introduce yourself to them? – John and Tim. Excellent you get a deck of cards.

Alright, let’s move to the back here. Somebody who had to move to talk to somebody, a young lady right there. Who did you introduce yourself to? Oh no – pressure – do you remember who they are? Angelo, who else? Wait a minute, does he remember who you are? Who is that young lady? What’s her name? Sharon/Sherrie – that is pretty close – Stephanie/Sherry. How many people out there give your people nicknames because you cant remember their real name? oh yeah and they feel special – oh man he has a nickname for me, yeah – I forgot your real name so you are going to have this one now and that is all it is. Okay, so who else Sherry. who else did you introduce yourself to? I cant remember – well you are not supposed to tell her – Sherry – you make one up – Tex – there you go. Alright, hand that off to her. Alright we need someone in the back of the room now – somebody in the back of the room who wasn’t paying attention to anybody – how about the gentleman in the green shirt that I came in after – okay? Well let’s see if a coach knows what’s going on. Mike Collins, who did you introduce yourself to? ________ and it was Kevin – oh look – I know these guys – they coach at _______. That is where you used to coach. Alright, we are going to give this to Kevin, even though his name isn’t Kevin okay? So there is a secret to remembering – does anybody know the secret? A swimmer comes on deck – what did you say? ____ well, there are a lot of ways but the easiest way that I found works non-stop. Swimmers come on deck – two or three – you approach them, you go hi, my name is Ciki and you are and they say Kerry. Okay, Kerry once. You have to use their name three times in the next five seconds: Kerry how are you, my name is Ciki. How long have you been swimming Kerry? What brings you here Kerry? It stuck and then you move on to the next person and after you have gone through all those people in the five second exchange
I don’t know everyone’s last name but the first name is important because that gives familiarity and they know you are now interested in them. You talk very quickly about what they do, what brought them there and then that helps them become one to one with you. This is very important stuff, so write that one down and here we have abut 96 swimmers. I know everyone’s name,. I wont ask you, okay?

Display genuine concern to every swimmer every day. Show that you care by your actions. Is there a good way to do that? Can you do it part-time,? can you do it when you feel like it? – can you do it when the sun is out? NO, it has got to be every day. When you hit that pool deck you have got the face on, you know who is coming on deck. If you don’t know you might know who is there and I go oh God, I don’t want to work with this swimmer, but you just show that you are concerned about them by greeting them, by talking to them, by asking them questions. You may know they did a race – how did you do in the race? Or there is one coming up, can I help you with your training,? how about a taper,? – whatever it is. Hey – I heard your kid went to college. How do you like it? my son is going pretty soon. how did you choose that college? Whatever it takes for you to show concern with them as a person, one on one, is very important stuff, okay?

This is the guy who does the bag pipes for us. Know your swimmers on a personal basis. This is very important. Get involved with them as friends first, swimmers come and go. Swimmers can leave your program in a second but if you make friends of all those people they are going to think twice before they leave. That is why I have swimmers that have been with me for 25 years. I had an old boss – kept trying to change the rules. He said we want to raise the rates – your participants don’t pay enough. I said they are not participants, they are my friends. He says no, they are customers. NO, these people are my friends. I spend every single morning with them on a pool deck, I know what is going on at night. I see them on weekends. My kids and their kids are friends. I said, they are not just my customers, they are my friends, so if you get that rapport with these people, your swimmers and they see that you are talking to them as friends, as one to one as equals, even though you are coaching them .When you step on the pool deck and they are down in the water you have already got four or five feet on them so they are going to look up to you already so don’t worry about having any exchange where you feel uneasy.

After they come out of the pool – as soon as they come out of the pool I may give a set – that ten 500 freestyle set and they will be pissing and moaning at me, but when they come out of the pool we will be talking about something else. I put my arm around them – walk away and we are friends again instantly and I spend more time, believe it or not in the summer months, talking to people as they come in and talking to them as they leave. There is very little work in the pool because we have done what. We are done with most of our work. We are doing a lot of yardage. We are kicking out some hard sets, but I want to make sure that during the most important part of our training they see that I am involved with them, one on one. I spend a lot of – I will walk with this guy right here, Bill. He will get out of the pool and we will walk and talk for 15 minutes on the side of the pool while everyone is passing us and then grab each other and grab people and say, hey how are you doing, how was your workout? What’s going on? So it is like a big family – big community. Making fun of each other. Having some good times. Friends away from the pool, right? Friends at the pool. You see, those two people are the same person. The one on the left is one of my assistant coaches, treat gal.

Respect: Yourself, your swimmers, your program, each other, let it show. This is very simple. It is the same about friends. If you have a friend you are going to treat him well. You are going to be nice to them right, because you want them to be nice back but you are also going to respect their attitude. You are going to respect their space. You are going to respect their position on things even though it may be different than yours and you are going to show that.

Very simple – something that a lot of coaches forget. As coaches we control all aspects of the service we provide, right? Everything having to do with: workouts, we control it; everything having to do with the program, we control it. It doesn’t just happen. We put it out there. We plan it, we outline it. It is ours. We own it. Everything having to do with success, it is not an accident. It is not an accident okay?

FINAL THOUGHTS: Be creative. Be yourself. Be consistent. Stick to what works for you, know it is just a play of sorts. I had this talk with Maria not too long ago. I said, you know, this is just a big play. She said, well what do you mean? Well, everything we do – we are actors, right? Some days we are actors in a family where we are a husband or a spouse. In a relationship we are a boyfriend or a girlfriend. On the pool deck we are swimmers or we are coaches. When we go to school we are a student. In a pool we direct and we are actors in that play.

We design everything around the pool. We make sure the lanes are ready, the clocks are set, the flags are up. We produce the workout and the equipment we want to use is something that we have structured and put together. If something falls apart who fixes it? We do. The other day at workout I had two clocks that went down during workout. Scott and Jim were there – I had to rush around and get a little tiny clock and stick it out there really fast to make sure that no one missed it, but I missed it because they had to point it out to me so you got to run in, pretty soon you are a maintenance man – you are changing your hats all the time, okay?

And then we do stuff. We are physiologists, psychologists and counselors. We are the bartender of the swimming community. People come in with more problems than you can handle. But you give them advice or you listen. You say, ah you know, I don’t know what I would do, but you think about it. you talk to them. You give them the time – it is all about that. Don’t let them go. Engage, engage, engage: what does that mean? Let your swimmers come on deck and don’t talk to them? No, they come on deck – you engage them. Don’t let somebody walk by while you are busy. Don’t let someone walk by, just for a second, say hold on – how are you doing Mike, how are you? Welcome to workout and go back to your conversation. If you let them slip by it is real easy for the quiet ones to slide between the cracks and those are the ones we want because those are the ones that don’t know much about swimming, much about the sports, we have to bring them along, we have to talk to them, we have to bring them in, tell them what is going on, okay? Nothing happens without action. That is where the engaged part is good. You can have the best philosophy in the world but if you don’t engage yourself with your athletes it is not going to happen. No one is going to notice okay? Almost done – engage – engage – engage.

Any questions? Anybody have some input? Some good stuff you want to talk about? yes, sure – I work at a University which means I am hired by the university. I work within the recreation department. When I started there they gave me a workout at 6 am in the morning and 6 am and they said you can have that workout for five years. I have been there over 20 so I have made myself an invaluable part of the recreation department by offering something that is good for everybody. We don’t have a huge student population – about 30% and the rest of the people are community athletes. I get a salary. I am one of those people that is fostered in; full benefits, contract, all of my coaches however are on yearly contracts so they come in and we re-negotiate each year what is going on.

It is a little different than an organization that you can be in charge of or that parents bring you into or a YMCA which has a little bit more leeway. A University is pretty stringent on how you can do things. For example; you notice I didn’t do anything about swim meets. Our program is a recreation program. I train everybody for competition – everybody. Every one that comes in there – even the lap swimmers. They know how to read the clock. It is all about competition, but only about 30 or 40% compete. The recreation department doesn’t know that. They think it is all a full recreation program so that is how we kind of push it through.

Anyone else? Yeah, I coach three workouts a day; 6 am, 7:30 and 6 pm at night. It is a pretty big load and then in between I am the director for the running, triathlon and swimming program. Which means evaluations, budgets, benefits, and everything connected to it, from equipment, secretarial supplies. Yeah? You know, I encourage all of my coaches to write their own workouts but I provide the cycle of training that they are going to do and they have it for each season so we are set on our cycle through September and I encourage everyone to follow that.

Mike, what do you guys do? Do you have other coaches that? Right now, I am the only coach in my program, but I tend to work out the practices out at the beginning of the month on emails so they have to see the workout because we lock our pool and they swim a little bit on their own sometimes, so pretty much everyone, if they want to, can look at what the practice is going to be. It is a good way for them to know what is going on. If I am using an assistant coach, I don’t mandate that they have to use the workout but more often than not, they do.

Anyone else? Anyone have some input? Yea, Scot: would you tell us a little bit about how you do your hair? Electrical outlet? Make sure something is plugged into one of them, stick your finger in the other, very easy stuff. Yes, oh thank you, thank you. We are done. You guys have been a great audience; go out and have some fun.

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