The 2012 Olympic Coaches: Challenges, Opportunities and Goals
Frank Busch, Gregg Troy, Teri McKeever
Tim Welsh: Hi coaches and good evening and welcome to what is now the 43rd World Clinic sponsored by the American Swimming Coaches Association. We’re in San Diego for the sixth time. It is now the most frequent and therefore the most popular destination for our ASCA clinics and what seems interesting to me is that we are here in 2011 before the Olympic year of 2012. We were here in 2007 before the 2008 Olympics. We were here in 2003 before the 2004 Olympics. We were here in 1999 before the 2000 Olympics and the time before that we came in the Olympic year itself 1996.
But this is a frequent destination and important things happen here as they will tonight. Next year we go to Las Vegas that will be our second most popular destination for the ASCA clinic. But for the next three days we are here with a very, very full program. I want to tell you a keynote story before we get to our keynote address and it’s very relevant to the ASCA clinic. It goes like this. Once upon a time, there was a coach who passed away and he was invited to visit both heaven and hell. He went to hell first and what he noticed when he arrived in hell is that the people there were all standing around a very large cauldron. When he looked in the cauldron, it was filled with stew, but the people standing around were starving to death.
They were emaciated and sickly and thin and they all had very long wooden spoons that were so long that they could not feed themselves. So they were standing around the cauldron starving to death. When he went to heaven, he was surprised to see the same cauldron he had seen in hell and in the cauldron was the same stew, filled with delicious things. But in heaven everyone was well fed and healthy and happy. They had the same long wooden spoons, but in heaven, when they dipped the spoon full of food, they fed one another. What has been characteristic of this ASCA clinic for all 43 years is that we feed one another here.
There is lots of food for thought and when you pick up yours, share it, feed one another and leave here well fed, happy, and on to make our sport even better than it has been in the last many, many years. Tonight’s keynote address: 2012 Challenges, Goals, Opportunities is a historic address for us for several reasons. One important one is that this represents a serious changing of the guard at the very top of American Swimming. Now this torch relay actually began in 2008 when Jack Bauerle was named our Olympic Head Coach for Women. But it continues in a very big way tonight.
Frank Busch, after 22 years at the University of Arizona with his NCAA titles and his club titles and his All Americans and his Coach of the Year awards and all of the list of accomplishments, put all that aside this spring to answer the call of his country and become our National Team Director. It is Frank’s first year in his first time as our National Team Director. Welcome, Frank, congratulations. We are all on your staff, coach. Coach us, lead us and tell us what to do.
Joining Frank, our Women’s Olympic head coach, Teri McKeever.
For the last 20 years Teri has walked the deck in bear territory at Cal Berkeley. She has won her NCAA titles. She has been head coach of the year. She has been on Olympic staffs before, but this is her first time as a Women’s Olympic Head Coach and she’s also the first woman to achieve that honor. Congratulations, Teri. Good luck, count on us to support you.
Our Men’s Head Coach is Gregg Troy. Thirty, Forty years in the State of Florida last 12 at the University of Florida. One of the few coaches to win high school and club and NCAA National titles who has a list of All Americans records that we wouldn’t have time enough this evening to account if we were to list them all. It is Gregg’s first time as our Olympic Head Coach. Gregg welcome, count on our support.
And again it’s very clear from that what a changing of the guard is going through here. Coaches who are older, we remember the last time the torch was passed to Richard Quick and his generation. Coaches, if you are younger, my prediction is the next time the torch is passed, you will remember where you were tonight when Frank and Teri and Gregg took over our Olympic team. Coaches, thank you. Welcome and from all of us, go USA.
Frank Busch: Thank you Tim. Is it okay if I’m down on the grass floor so to speak? So we’ve had a bunch of rookies laid in the USA Swimming this year; that’s exciting, isn’t it? Oh boy.
Just a little bit of pressure there. I’m truly honored to be in the position that I’m in and look forward to all the opportunities for you to be part of what I think can be some great years at USA Swimming. I’m not going to talk about 2012. They’ll talk about their ideas and their thoughts. I want to talk to you about my vision on some things and I want to talk to you about some very important things about coaching, our profession. What’s the image of our profession right now? I feel like coaching has taken a hit. You have seen some of the things that are out there, some of the issues that we have faced as coaches. We’ve taken a hit, our image has taken a hit.
I think it’s really important that we be a professional in everything we do, because when you look for a professional, if you look for a professional doctor, professional lawyer or realtor, you’re looking for the best that’s going to represent your best interest. You’re looking for a pro. How you dress. What’s your vocabulary, your actions, your mannerisms? Families choose where they want to be based on all those factors. They just go online, they see stuff or they talk to other people. Information is readily available, we all know that. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. You control all the variables. That’s the great thing about our profession.
As a coach, you control all those variables. How you act, dress, talk, your mannerisms, all those things. You control the image of your club. You set up exactly what you want people to see. You set that up. That’s your choice. Thinking of our sport now, different than at any other time, touches all ages. Think about it for a second. It’s never been healthier. We have swim schools, learn to swim clubs, open water, triathlon, masters, and adult fitness. We have an incredible base of people that are involved in water sports of some type or water activities of some type. It’s never been healthier. We can control our image. You people change lives every single day. You change lives. Don’t ever take that lightly. I don’t care how long you’ve been coaching.
Every time you go on deck, you change the life of somebody just for a moment maybe. What a powerful thing you have in your hand. When I say be a professional, it’s so important, because it’s what we need right now. It’s important to all of us. It’s so important to our image and if we don’t have an image, and we don’t have a positive image, then we’re losing a lot. I want everyone that’s ever been associated with our sport to be a proud alumnus. Now think about that for a minute. I’m going to look at it a little differently maybe than you have ever looked at it. I come from a college background, at least recently, but I coached club before that. And when you’re involved in college it’s all about alumni. There’s fund raising that’s part of your job and just the way that you want to build people’s lives and the way that you want them to look back on your university.
We want the same thing to happen at USA Swimming. We don’t want people, male/female swimmers looking back and saying, “I hate it. I’m so glad to be done with that. It was a terrible time in my life.” We want them to look back and say, “It was the greatest time of life. I learned so much. I experienced so much. And that rapport that I have with all the people I did it with is a bond for life. It’s given me something special.” The demographics of our sport have changed a lot. I’m going to switch gears a little bit. Do you think about where we are in our sport? Right now compared to say 2000, our Olympic team is significantly older. We have older athletes in our sport.
I’m going to tell you some of my visions on how we’re going to work with that to make club swimming more important than you’ve ever thought it was before. Because I feel like sometimes, especially in my position, the emphasis is on National Team, National Team, National Team, which is what my job is. But along with that there has to be a bond with club development, with Pat and his group, and with the National Team, because our future lies in obviously the young people that are involved in our sport now and where they’re going to be four years from now and eight years from now. I think Senior Nationals should be a gold standard event. I don’t think it should be an event where there are 1800 people. I’m sure pretty much everyone in this room would agree to that.
Now there are some ways in which we need to change that and I’m addressing those right now. Everything from size to the number of finals that we have at night, to where 18 and under fit to that. All sorts of things that I think need to make our Nationals a gold standard and I’m speaking of Summer Nationals, because if you think about the US Open Tennis that’s going on right now, there’re only 64 people playing for that title. So it should be a gold standard event. I think Junior Nationals should be highlighted a lot more than it’s ever been. Let me give you an idea. First of all, I think it should be—well I think Nationals should be incredibly competitive and we’re going to work toward that.
As I said before the demographics have changed and it really has and it influences everyone in this room basically this way. If you look at the teams that generally speaking will be winning Senior Nationals, it’s usually collegiate teams that have post-graduates involved. It’s going to be very difficult for a club that has only 18 and under athletes to win a national title. It’s just a fact. It doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be done. It just would be very difficult. Even if the college coaches recommend that you represent your club, most of those kids now tend to stay at the collegiate level, train with their friends, train with people that are competitive, and they usually don’t want to go back to their home clubs.
For whatever reason we could probably talk about that forever, but the fact of the matter is that’s the way it’s happening. So that being said, I think Junior Nationals should be something where we take the 18 and under and for the majority of you that coach club, the opportunity to win Junior Nationals should be something special and the individuals that win Junior National titles and their coaches should be special. At some point in time, as I kind of develop this program, I want to use the OTC to be a resource for you and I’ll explain that in a little bit more detail at some other time, because I only have a half an hour to talk and I don’t want to take any of the coaches’ time to tell you about their vision for next year.
But just know that from a standpoint of Junior Nationals, I think it should be something that’s very significant so when you win the trophy, if you’re fortunate enough to do that, you’re a coach that’s figured out how to put a team together. That’s a good thing. You should certainly be recognized for that and it should be a trophy that when people walk in to your office or the foyer of your pool, it knocks their socks off, because you have won the Junior National title or the club title or whatever we call it. That’s really not important right now. How that would affect kid’s trying to make the Junior National team, not a problem. You’ll still go Seniors, you’ll still be able to use them at Juniors to help you achieve something that you’ve worked for, for a long time. So it won’t be any threatening in any way that way.
Coach enrichment or for some people, coach mentoring. My vision about Junior Nationals is basically this. So my idea would be that the club that wins, I’d like to bring that club up, the people that were Junior Nationals, with that coaching staff to the OTC to experience all the resources that we have to offer you. If you’re an individual coach, and you have an individual champion, because you coach a smaller program and there’s not a chance in the world that you’re going to win the team title, I’d like to bring you up as well with your athlete and give you all the resources that we have at the OTC. I feel like by doing that we’re extending our opportunities for coaches and for athletes even further down the line which I think is critical for our future.
Coach enrichment, if you have a National Junior Team member you’ll be able to visit a National Team Coach and we’ll pay for that. Now maybe you’ve heard some of that, maybe you haven’t, but Rick Bishop who is here somewhere has information and would be happy to talk to you about that program. I really believe that we have a lot of coaches that, just like athletes, are going to be retiring sometime in the next quadrennium. Coaches that have been on many, many international coaching staffs that have so much to offer you and I want to make sure that we get it all out of them before they walk off the deck of a pool. I just really feel strongly about that. I believe the OTC can be a special place.
Personally, and I’m sorry this is going to be recorded, but it’s the truth, I always looked at that place as jail. I never wanted to go there. After two conference meets, and two NCAA championships to go travel some place and to come up to the coaches conference, I couldn’t bring myself to do it so I would use every excuse in the book to avoid it, which didn’t make a lot of people happy, but it kept me sane, but I don’t want it to be like that. This last Coach’s Conference that we had in April, all the National Junior Team coaches were there, the National Team coaches were there, it was a tremendous sharing experience and I’m going to make it even better than that, because the OTC has way too many resources and we’re not getting it out to everybody and we’re going to make sure we do a better job of that.
I want to tell you a little bit about the Athlete Partnership Program. Many of you don’t have athletes involved in that. It’s a program with the USOC, athletes get funding if they make the National Team and they’re ranked in the top 16 in the world. We need to do some tweaking of that, because all the I’s weren’t dotted and all the T’s weren’t crossed when that program was put together by the task force. No one’s to blame for that. It only started in January and we’re just trying to figure it out and iron out all the wrinkles that are part of that.
I had the opportunity of doing something I’ve never done before and that is I went to the Junior World Championships in Peru after a long trip at the World Championships in Shanghai, and I got a chance to be exposed to a lot of coaches I never knew, a lot of athletes that I didn’t know. My goal was to try and learn all their names, which I accomplished on the women’s side, but on the men’s side not too good. But the guys, they really didn’t care much I don’t think. We have some great young people, very talented young people, but some great young people. Many of you are coaching some of these great young people.
I’m trying to establish a culture and an image that’s so critical to our future and it starts with our National Junior Team and it starts with little things like learning how to sing the National Anthem, like paying attention, like showing up early, like honoring your team with your effort. Just communicating with your individual coach, just things that—that culture if we set that at a younger stage, is going to move right up into the National Team and to me that’s critical, because our National Team, we need to clean up their image. We need to make sure that they’re paying attention. We need to make sure that they know what’s going on all the time.
We’re in a world that’s a constant challenge to our privacy and a constant challenge to our integrity, because so much is known out there and it can be known so quickly. It takes one misstep to blow a whole season or a whole decade of work toward the positive and you all know that. One misstep by somebody creates all sorts of issues. Just a quick story and I don’t want to bore anybody that has already heard this story, but I think it’s important, because this is what I think the National Team needs to be part of what we do. We were in Shanghai and after a couple of days of the meet, the head coaches do a great job of the experience of putting their kids together. The men have a meeting, the women have a meeting with the head coaches, they talk right before finals about what’s going on and what they’re trying to do, what they’re trying to accomplish.
I see my position as someone that’s supportive of them, supportive of the athletes. I certainly didn’t need to tell Eddie Reese what to do or Jack Bauerle what to do. How ridiculous would that be? Since I look at things through a little bit different lenses now than I ever had before, I just saw an opportunity to maybe stir up some interest in our national pride. So Amanda Beard who I’ve coached for many years came into the room and a team was assembled like you are right now and so I had written down the words to “God Bless America” and I asked Amanda if she would sing that to the team of course she said, “No I’m not doing this.” And I said, “C’mon Amanda, you can do this please just sing.” “No, I can’t sing in front of this group.”
Well, I convinced her to—I was standing next to her I said, “C’mon let’s just go ahead.” She started out, “God bless America.” And she was kind of laughing half way—laughing with pretty much every word and just trying to get it out, but not be embarrassed and I said, “Okay, let’s start over, let’s try it again.” So, she started singing it and before you know it, the whole team sang, “God Bless America” all the way through. And so my point was to Amanda, “Was that easier when the team started singing?” She said, “Yeah, that was great, it just took the pressure off me.” So we just talked about being a team and how you take the pressure off one another when you do something like that.
So I said to the group, I said, “Well, since I know you can all sing, how about if tonight if we’re fortunate enough and of course Lochte and Phelps were going to be in the 200 IM that night so I knew we were going to be fortunate enough. We were fortunate enough to have someone win the gold medal and let’s all sing the National Anthem. If you don’t feel good about it after you sing it one time, no problem you don’t have to sing it again. Let’s just give it a go this one time. So of course Ryan, what a great race, Ryan won the race and the whole team stood up and sang the National Anthem. They sang the National Anthem every time after that.
Jon Urbanchek still gives me a lot of credit over this, but he just said, “You know I’ve been doing this for a long time and never heard anybody sing it. Our team has never sung it before.” Well, we didn’t need to tell him, you’re singing it, we just had to give him the opportunity. We don’t have to stick anything down anybody’s throats. In this room sit the most competitive coaches in the world. American swim coaches are the most competitive people I’ve ever met and I know football and basketball coaches all over the place. You guys, you want your kid to beat his kid, to beat her kid, to beat their kid. Everybody does. And when we harness that competitive spirit in a team atmosphere it can be an amazing power.
And so, it’s easy for me to go from the National Team to the Junior Team, to just basically say to the Junior Team we’re going to do this, because this is what we do to honor our country, to honor each other with our effort and to just show everybody that we’re a united group. So I got to be with the Junior Team and I got to stir them in that direction. It was a piece of cake. They’re just like they were just waiting for that opportunity. And they sang and they sang as loud as they could and as proud as they could be and you can be all proud of them.
I just want to leave you with this. Our image as coaches is our platform. It’s our platform and if our platform is solid and it’s proud, we can’t have anything better than that. And we’re at a point in time where we have so many people involved in some type of water activities, things couldn’t be better for us. So, we all need to be professionals at what we do. And when you take the professionalism to heart, not only are you a better coach, but you teach a very valuable lesson to the people that you work with and in my book that’s the most important thing that we do. Thank you for doing what you do everyday the way you do it. And if there’s anything that I can ever do to help you be better, please let me know. It’s an honor to be here with you tonight. Thanks.
Teri McKeever: This is like an intermission—when you go to a play, you can tell I really go to those things a lot when they have different settings. I have props here so give me a minute. All right. I just want to start off by thanking Frank for the opportunity, thanking US Swimming for the opportunity and most of all thanking all of you for the opportunity to represent our profession and our country at the highest level. I’m completely honored and humbled and so looking forward to the responsibility and the opportunity ahead and exceptionally thrilled that I’m going to have the opportunity to work with Gregg and be partners with him through this incredible journey.
I feel like tonight’s kind of an inauguration of that I guess and I was telling Frank and Gregg that public speaking has not always been one of my favorite things and I feel like it’s something I’ve gotten better at and tomorrow I’m going to get to do some things on team building and some talking about my program and I feel pretty confident now, but I’ve never given a keynote address and to be honest I didn’t know what the topic of the keynote address was until I looked up my paper today so I might be a little out there, but what I thought that—and being a little out there is kind of Berkeley thing so I thought I would just kind of go with that.
One thing, when I was named the Olympic coach I had a lot of people who kept asking me, “Well, what are you going to do? Are you going to take the year off? What does that mean?” And the first couple of times when they asked me I was like, “That’s a good question. What does it mean?” And what I’ve come to realize what it means is that there’re amazing people at US Swimming that do all the real heavy lifting. The organizing, the traveling, the planning ahead, and Gregg and I have the opportunity to put our input and our thoughts in it and draw from our experiences, but what it really boils down to, I think, is my job this year is to be an exceptional coach for the athletes that I work with.
My job is to continue to do what I’ve done for 28 years and to do it better than I’ve ever done. So kind of using that analogy I talked to the girls and my team a lot about having—I feel like my job for them is to give them experiences and opportunities so that when they get behind the block they have this toolbox or tool chest of experiences and tools that allow them to get up there behind the blocks and be confident. And I think that as a coach I have a toolbox too. What I wanted to kind of do is talk about what my toolbox looked like 28 years ago when I started and what tools are in it now.
I coached a couple of years of high school JV basketball, JV volleyball and I wouldn’t even consider that I had a toolbox at that stage. I just kind of did—I coached the JV basketball game once. We didn’t score the whole half and all I could think of is, “Thank God I look so young, they probably think oh that poor team doesn’t have a coach.”
So that was kind of cool, but I had an opportunity to—when I got into real coaching I went back to my alma mater, I’m a graduate of USC. I started as an assistant with Don LaMont in 1985 and was there for three years and the metaphor of my toolbox at that time would look a little bit like this. I feel like I started with a toolbox that looks like this and there’s five tools that I really valued at that time that didn’t all fit in this little box I bought, but I kind of wanted to talk about them and challenge you to look at what did your toolbox look like, what does it look like now, and what things that maybe you need to put in that toolbox as you move forward in—not only this year, but your career.
So here we go. Early toolbox, small box, the first thing I would say is my metaphor here is an instruction manual. When I first started coaching I thought that I had to have all the answers. I thought that if I didn’t know how to do something then people would think I wasn’t a very good coach and that I had to have the answers on a race strategy. I had the answers on technique. I had to have the right answers for discipline. Not only did I have to have the right answers, but I had to know when to say them and God forbid if you should ask for help, because I thought at that time if I ask for help, then people will know I don’t know what I’m doing and the whole world would come crumbling down, because I’ll be found out that I’m not a very good coach.
It took me until I was probably 35 years old to realize that there was no way I was ever going to work through this manual on my own. It’s one of the main things I feel a responsibility now in working with my athletes is I don’t want them to be 35, 36, 37 years old before they realize like really, truly asking for help in my opinion is the greatest sign of strength and showing that vulnerability and finding support is essential for you to be successful in anything you do. So we’ve got that. That goes into the small toolbox. The second one, I’m going to use a metaphor of a hammer. And if you think you’ve got to have all the answers and you’re not willing to ask for help, then the thing that happened to me is it really led to a lot of frustration and struggle.
I thought when I was frustrated and I was struggling and literally kind of beating myself up over it, that something was wrong with me. Why can’t I get them to work harder on this set? Why can’t I get them not to breathe off the wall? Why can’t I teach a flip turn so they’ll come—they’re accelerating off the wall instead of feeling the need to slow down going into that wall? What I really believe now is that that sign of struggle and challenge is really where the growth is. I don’t know about any of you, but some of the most challenging times of not only my coaching life, but my personal life have been moments of great struggle.
I don’t necessarily want to walk through them again, but when I think on those times and reflect on those times, that’s where I feel like I’ve really grown as a coach and grown as a person and I could go on and on about all my personal struggles and challenges and I’m sure we’ve all got a lot of them. But one of the things too is I thought that if you were struggling and you were frustrated that the end result was going to be something bad. I’m really fortunate this past collegiate season to win an NCAA title, our second one in the last three years with Gregg as our sandwich.
I have to say it was probably the most frustrating, the most annoying, and the most challenging year I’ve ever, ever gone through. I was just like, “What is going on?” You think when you’ve done it over—well I thought when I’ve done it over and over again it’s like, I’ve told them this. We’ve already been through this. That was 10 years ago, why am I still doing this now? Why am I going back and doing it and what I realized is in that struggle, really good things can happen. Now I’m still cleaning up some of that struggle, but that’s part of what has been really interesting I think for me and for my athletes is that not only do you learn things, but in that struggle, good things can come of it. So we’ve got our hammer.
My third tool is my metaphoric wrench here and I know early, early in my—not early. I’m human, I still care about this. I was really, really concerned with other people’s perceptions and opinions. I don’t even know who those other people were, but they were definitely—they had a front row seat in what I was doing and it got me to really just second guess what I was doing. I would come to a clinic like this and I would listen to Richard Quick or Mark Schubert or Eddie Reese or Gregg Troy, and Jon Urbanchek and I would just kind of go, “Oh my God, I’m not doing anything like that. What’s wrong with me?” And I realized, I still really care what other people think like I said, but to other people I’m much more selective on who those people are so that’s my wrench.
My fourth tool that I’ve had to adjust—yikes, there goes a hammer is the balance here or the level and early in my career this level—I would have it like this and it was reading that everything was in line. What I mean by that is I have a really good friend who just walked in the room by the way, Kathie Wickstrand, that I started working with and one of the things that she told me this aha moment I have had is she goes, “Teri, when you get on the airplane and they go through their instructions and the flight attendant says, ‘In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, the air mask will fall, please put yours on and then anyone needing assistance afterwards. They don’t say put the people that need assistance, put their air mask on and then take care of yourself, because if you take care of them before you take care of yourself, you might metaphorically pass out.”
And I think that’s really, really—this is something that I still—my balance gets really out of whack, but it’s something that I know I’ve really had to look at and challenge to use to stay in the sport and I think it can show up a lot of different ways. Just your overall health, I don’t know about anybody else, but I, as Oprah says, I’m an emotional eater so when things are good, we’ve got to go celebrate with cake or something. When things are bad, you’ve got to have a pint of ice cream and recruiting. What’s a recruiting trip? Recruiting trips are three meals a day and you’ve got a couple of those—good thing I don’t coach many women anymore. When I did at Fresno, I would gain some serious weight during recruiting, but—or exercising. I think that that’s something I let go when I don’t take care of that.
Rest and recovery, how many of us have—it’s okay for your athletes and they go on family vacations, but how come we don’t plan those? How can we talk about them getting their rest and taking care of themselves and we don’t do that. There’s a reason I didn’t get married until I was 45. It’s not, because I didn’t want to get married, I just didn’t really put a lot of time in it and as Kathie pointed out to me that when someone did talk to me, I answered him like a coach.
Luckily, I met someone in the football stadium at Cal and I—the first time he talked to me, I’m sitting there—who goes to a football stadium and it’s pouring down rain and still sits there—I love college football and he started asking me a question and her little voice went off and said, “All right I’m going to see if I can get him to ask me another question.” Luckily, he loves sports, but also it was 2004 and it took me a year and a half to realize he was asking me out.
It wasn’t really a very good thing there. And I think balance too can just be day to day stuff. Stuff like going out to dinner with your significant other, going to your kid’s baseball game or soccer game and missing a Saturday morning practice. I think it looks a lot of different ways. My balance is better, but it’s still something I need to keep working on. The fourth tool in my early chest I chose a measuring stick and for that I think early on that I let the end result validate if I was a good coach or if I felt good about what I was doing. If I went through recruiting and I didn’t get the recruit, well of course I was a terrible recruiter.
If we went to the end of the season and I had 20 athletes on the team, 15 did a good job and five didn’t, well then it wasn’t a very good season. Everything—not only the season was validated with that, but I personally put like I was good today or bad today and I just think in hindsight it’s not a very emotionally mature way of looking at things and probably not the smartest thing for the Olympic coach to admit, but it was something that I really have struggled with. My early toolbox, I think what’s important is that the early box fits into a bigger box. It’s not like I threw this away and I don’t have these tools anymore. In my eyes I still have the tools. I use them, but now I’ve got more tools.
I wanted to share just what tools in particular do I think that I’m going to need to really draw upon in the year ahead. I think the most important tool that I finally put in my toolbox was a mirror and what I picked for a mirror was that finally—good things started happening for Teri McKeever when I started trusting my instincts and being true to myself and my environment. When I stopped trying to be the second best Gregg or the second best Bob or the second best Richard or Mark and I just got okay with trying to be the best Teri, that’s when good things started to happen. I believe that that’s just trusting, loving, and respecting the person you see in the mirror.
We had the opportunity—Matt Biondi is a Cal grad and he talked to the team once on one of our training trips. He and his wife live in Hawaii and one of the things that, to this day, I can still remember him talking about is every night when he brushed his teeth, he looked at that person in the mirror and he just said did you do your best today? And if you did your best today and you can honestly believe that with the person in the mirror, that’s the person that matters most. That’s the thing I know that when I get stressed or challenged that it’s really, really important for me personally to stay in touch with and whether that be your coaching philosophy or mission statement for your club or whatever it is. Just getting clear on what your core beliefs are.
The other thing, I have a chalk line here and for me I’ve wanted a chalk line, because it’s doing a better job at setting boundaries and setting boundaries for myself, for my team members, and just really being clear and consistent I think is the keyword. Consistent in what my message is. I think Frank hit on this. I believe that the culture we set in our programs is just incredibly, incredibly important and the expectations. What your expectations are on attendance, attitude, and you’ve got to be clear on those and you’ve got to be willing to talk about them. If someone finishes, is it okay to finish with one hand? Is it all right to do an illegal turn? I think boundaries now are particularly challenging with some of the social media.
Is it okay for your athletes to text you? I didn’t have any of those kinds of policies or procedures or even think about that when I first started Facebook. All kinds of things, I do a talk when we go to our first meet about championship meets, about what kind of expectations there are in the team environment and literally talk about, “Okay if you have to cry, where do you cry?” When you cry, how does that affect other people and blah, blah, blah? And I think those are things about boundaries and expectations that if you’re clear with and you talk about them, most of the time your athletes and your parents will respond to your wishes.
My third tool and this is one that is really important to me. I never set out in life thinking I was going to be a coach. I set out in life thinking I wanted to be a teacher and I was thinking fifth grade would be pretty good. They’re just kind of getting old enough that they can think, but not smart mouths like they are now that I deal with, but too smart. But I thought fifth grade would be kind of good and maybe I do a little bit of coaching and what I really believed now is really I hit the jackpot, because I get to be a teacher in a setting that I absolutely love.
I love being someone’s last coach. That’s my calling. I think that I like taking what you can learn from a sport and translating it into the next 40, 50 years. For me, that’s where the real—don’t get me wrong I like gold medals and trophies and all those kinds of things a lot too, but I think the lessons and the learning about yourself is really where there’s great joy. So we have a thing on our team where I always talk about teaching moments and where I’d gotten better is having teaching moments even when they’re not really convenient.
A couple of years ago I had someone on the last day of NCAAs decide that her goggles were full and she was going to stop and try to pull them off when we were in the battle for National Championship and I wrestled for a couple of hours like, “Do I let that go? We’ve only got one more session. Do I talk about it later?” And really that was an aha moment for me where it needed to be addressed right now. So before the last final, we had a teaching moment that as far as I knew no one had died from getting water in their eyes and I actually swam about 15 years and never wore goggles in a race and I’m still okay.
I wasn’t quite that funny about it, but I think that it was just an opportunity and where I’ve done a better job is taking advantage of those teaching moments whenever they arise and recognizing that they don’t always arise at the most convenient time. I always have the girls read a book. I like to keep reading books. The book we read, we read it early this year is this training camp book by John Gordon, it’s an easy read on, “What The Best Do Better Than Everyone Else.” and I think going to the business section is an awesome place to pick up stuff. The web is full of things right now. I love being in a university setting and going to a basketball practice or going to a coaches meeting and talking to coaches that aren’t swimming coaches.
What are their challenges? What are they—how do they get people to be on time, to communicate effectively? Whatever your challenge is, how does someone in a different sport handle it? This past August after Nationals, I ended up going to a two-day coaching workshop that nobody else was a swimming coach there, volleyball coaches, and a hall of fame woman. Carol Mann who is 70 years old and in the LPGA Hall of Fame was there and high school principals and high school athletic directors and it was just fascinating to listen to their different challenges and how they meet those. I think being a teacher, taking advantage of teaching and with teaching comes learning and just always being—and you guys are doing that.
There’s a reason you’re sitting in this room. You’re engaged in the process of learning and challenging yourself. My fourth tool is my whistle and every coach needs a whistle and Gregg’s going to laugh, because he knows that I really struggle with this and I use the whistle to signify saying the hard things and I, like anybody else, I don’t really like it when I know they’re going home and they were bitching about me in the locker room or their dorm room or they’re calling their parents and saying this, but I really got to the point that by nature if I’m going to do my job and I’m going to be the best coach then by nature of being a coach my job is to press and push their comfort zone and to challenge them to do things that they can’t do.
They have peers, their friends. They have parents that they can go to, but being a coach means saying and challenging them to do things that they don’t think they can do. Someone said to me, “Do you think Phil Jackson has a hard time telling Kobe Bryant what to do,” and I think we just had to retreat and I hope Caitlyn wouldn’t mind me sharing this, but she came up to me and said, “I hated you for everything you said to me in my freshmen year and now I want to thank you so much.” And I think that you’ve got to be okay with that and as long as you’re doing it from a place of having their best interest, I think it can be handled. I also think it can really be misused and I’m continually sort of brought to reality when someone that swam for me comes up and tells me a story.
Remember when you said, blah, blah, blah and they’ve been holding on to that for 10, 15, 20, 25 years and you’re like, no. And you know that it’s either—it’s nice when it positively impacted them, but there are some that I have negatively impacted for 25 years. It’s just always kind of a reminder of the power, the responsibility, that you have in saying the hard things and I have another little saying that I believe strongly and it’s that your athletes don’t care what you know until they know you care. And I think that you have to make sure you have that relationship of trust and respect to be able to say the hard thing.
And then my final tool—and I couldn’t really think of a good metaphor for this so I went with the blue print and the map of all the insides of a house or a project or whatever and I really feel like this year for me it’s really important to stay in touch with the bigger picture. I’m a swimming coach. I’m not curing cancer. It’s a sport. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s to enhance someone’s life and experiences and to bring out the best in them. I think the plan also to me is really to check in with being part of something bigger and Frank hit on this, the tradition of your club, the tradition of your university, the tradition of US Swimming. Those are things that each of us can be a part of and coach and challenge it.
I think that I’m going to have the huge honor being part of the team USA in London. There’re going to be eight coaches. There’re going to be 56 athletes, but there’re thousands of coaches with 300,000 registered swimmers right now and each of us can challenge each of those athletes to go for their gold medal of being their best and enjoying the day-to-day challenge and the day-to-day journey. I do believe that’s where the true gold medals are and we’re going to go over there and win as many gold medals as we can and your job, I believe you have the same job. Your job each day is to help your athletes win their personal gold medals and reach their full potential.
That’s my little spiel. I’m going to take my toolbox. I’m going to have Gregg come up here and I just again want to thank you and hopefully you can take something from this and I can honestly say I never set out on this journey with being an Olympic coach. That wasn’t really something I really even thought about as I progressed. I am humbled by the opportunity and absolutely thrilled to be given this great honor and I’m going to take my toolbox and do my best so thank you.
Gregg Troy: I wish her toolbox was bigger so she would stay here longer, because I can’t follow that. It’s a tough job and it’s imposing, it really is. Peter Daland, ex men’s Olympic coach, is here and Eddie Reese is here this weekend. Following people like that and being responsible for the United States team in some manner is—it’s really imposing and now I feel very much the same way Teri did. All the sentiment she gave you about being an Olympic coach—she took a part of my talk so I need to struggle with time even more now. But it’s exactly the same. I think it’s—when I was first offered the job and it is a job, but it’s a tremendous honor.
I really thought twice about it, because I’m not sure I’m capable of doing it. You’ve got to figure out where you are sometimes and it’s a big task and I think in doing that—going home I was discussing with my wife and my oldest son who ran track five years—well four years cross country and four years track at Florida. He looked at me and he said, “What are you thinking about, Dad? The highest honor you could have in your profession, how could you you even think about not doing it?” So he kind of knocked some sense into me, but I will tell you this, I’m fortunate to be working with Teri. You just heard a really great swim coach talk and she works with athletes that way too. She’s fantastic.
And she ain’t always the warm fuzzy person everyone thinks she is. She’s pretty disciplined, but it’s been great to work with her. I know her. We spent sometime working together with the Pan Pac team and one of my goals then and I think it is now too. I think a lot of our male athletes could learn a lot from her if they have a chance to respond with her more and that’s one of our goals. We should try to mix the men and women’s programs a little bit. I think one of the things I would ask all of you is looking at this next year. It’s very important that you folks do your job. We don’t have a whole lot to do until you get the team put together.
We can help you, we’d be glad to help you with athletes. I’m sure that any of the other coaches were fortunate to have a Dave Salo, who’s a great coach and Bob Bowman on the staff already and we’ll be at meets. You’ve got an athlete that you need help with, you’ve got thoughts that you need help with, anything, I’m sure any of us will be glad to help you and I think that’s our biggest role, because you have to do the job to get those athletes ready. I would challenge you to make sure you’re getting ready for two meets. You’re getting ready for the Olympics, because it’s nice if you make the Olympic team. It’s better if you do well when you get there and you won’t do well once you get there unless you have the goal of doing well when you get there.
You’ve got to put that there. Certainly, from a realistic standpoint here in the States you’ve got to have a great swim to get there, but you’ve got have a better one the next time around. Now our success is dependent upon you making sure that you’re ready for two meets and not just one. So on looking at this next year, I would caution you that if you have an athlete that you’re working with that you feel like has a chance, don’t sacrifice too much during the season, because every time you sacrifice something for that little meet during the season, it’s going to affect our performance at the second meet. Now be ready for the first one, The US Olympic Trials. I was talking to Eddie today and it’s going to be exciting.
It’s a great place in Omaha, there’re 1500 athletes already qualified. It will be good, and they will be good. They’ll take care of it. No matter what job we do, they’ll take care of it. We need to put them in the best possible situation, but the athletes are going to be good. It’s going to be a dynamic situation. We can’t do a good job unless you get them ready for two competitions. It’s really important you do that and I appreciate all your help and thank you. But horrible job I had this [Indiscernible] [00:59:40] this evening had all these Ex-Olympic coaches here and I got to follow one of the most organized guys, Frank Busch. Frank did a tremendous job and he’s very organized and Teri, I can’t say enough about it.
When John Leonard asked me to talk, I didn’t really want to do this either. I’m like Teri. I’d be really good if we stay and talk about backstroke for awhile or talk about training, but talking about something you can’t get your hands around is not very good. I asked John if he could give me some ideas and he sent me some ideas, but John’s ideas would have been a three-hour talk, John, so I can’t do them. I was going to read them to you, but I don’t want to. So I started looking for things and I ended up, I have about 10-15 pages in notes and condensed it a little bit so I’m all over the map, because I spent the last month and a half just jotting down ideas and things that I thought would stimulate some thought.
It’s really interesting, a little story, a little side. Frank set it up. He talked about how important it is that you actually—what an impact you have on young people. I got off the plane coming back from Shanghai and a little tired. We just spent all night, we’re getting ready to go about. My phone has been out. First thing I did is turn my phone on and I get an email. The email I get was from an athlete that swam for me in 1977. He was one of three boys in the family. I worked with the two youngest. The oldest had already swum. He was at West Point when I got there. Their dad was a West Point grad, the oldest who went to West Point swam four years at West Point. He was the captain of the team.
The middle one swam four years at West Point, he was captain of the team. The youngest was a great swimmer, best by far, swam four years at West Point, turned down scholarship offers everywhere. He was captain of the team. The email I got started out it said, “Coach, I just wanted to thank you. In 1977, you wrote me a recommendation to go to West Point.” He said, “that it was one of the most important things I did in my entire life.” He said, “I don’t know if you realize it, you probably don’t even remember me.” He gave me his name. He said, “I was Ted. My younger brother Andy was the good one. His older brother was [indiscernible] [1:01:44] he was good. He was a 4:54 500 freestyle. He worked really hard to do it. In ‘77 that’s a pretty good swim, but he never viewed himself as good, because his younger brother was so good.
Anyway, he went on to tell me how much swimming meant to him in his life. How it helped him to be a successful officer. He finished up three tours in Iraq. His battalion was responsible for the capture of Saddam Hussein. He was a head of the Desert Warfare School out here in California. When he came back, he related some things in swimming and this will really help my recruiting a lot. He said those 10,000s we did, they really helped me a lot, get me through battle and things. We don’t all do it, but we do. Just this guy did so and so. But anyway, he said that I helped him in all kinds of ways and he just wanted to thank me for that experience and they just appointed him as commandant at West Point.
So, you have an impact. Some people and you don’t realize how much and I haven’t talked to the guy in 30 years so it’s one of those things that goes along. Frank, thanks for giving me something to talk about. That being said, I’m going to do a few negative things here too, because I want to stimulate some thought this evening. I’m not going to talk about 2012, because 2012 is going to take care of itself. Three years of work has already gone into it. I would tell you, if you’re working an athlete that you think has a chance to make the team, don’t throw away what you’ve been doing to get to that same point. Just do it a little bit better, enjoy the year, because the Olympic year, there is enough stress without talking about it all the time.
It’s like Teri said, make it enjoyable, enjoy what you’re doing, and let your athlete enjoy the experience. Your chance to become a great swimmer is much better that way, but don’t throw away all the things that made you successful. Pick up some things this weekend. Refine some things, maybe use your tools just a little bit better, and a little bit differently. But don’t throw the toolbox away and don’t start over. It’s too late in the quadrennium to do that. Just refine what you’re doing. But I do have some concerns when I go beyond that. I’ve looked at beyond 2012 and so I think 2016 is one that maybe you can help a little bit looking ahead not just getting caught in the moment, because it’s a very long term thing to have somebody be successful at the Olympic level.
We live in a short-term society with short-term goals, but we want to climb Mount Everest and even when you climb Mount Everest, you have to go to base camp and you have to stay there for a while. And you have to go up again and stay there for a while. If you jump too quickly and you want to be there too fast, you won’t get to the summit. So we have to be patient in our training and we’ve got to understand the next four years are key and I would start it out by telling you—I’ve got a little quote here. This is from another swim coach; I’m going to leave his name out. Very accomplished, done a tremendous job. He sent me an email after Shanghai, told me that the US team had done pretty well, was extremely complimentary at how well they sang the national anthem.
He had no idea what had happened and was proud of what he saw from the team, but at the same time, this is a pretty controversial thing, guys. Don’t take this as a downer. We have all the positive guys. I’m looking at the future and we want to keep getting better. I’ve run out of time to really digest my feelings about the world. In a nutshell, the US has a lot of work to do if we want to maintain leadership with major weaknesses in our club programs with many relying too much on University programs.
What we need is 30% to 40% more of our clubs out there producing people to shake, excuse the expression, the old farts out of their boots. Most of what I see is from club swimmers who are excelling. Most of what I see from the club swimmers are excelling. They are coming out of old established programs who have always had a history of developing young talent and he notes an exception for Todd Schmitz who you’ll have a chance to listen to with Missy Franklin. I don’t know that that’s completely right, but I think there’s something you need to think about in it.
I think it’s very important that we evaluate where we are, because if we become complacent it’s an extremely competitive world. There’re lots of good athletes out there. If we become complacent we won’t be the leaders and we want to continue to be the leaders. This is the greatest swimming country. We’ve had the most success of anyone. It frustrates other people when they don’t beat us. They want to beat us and they should and we need to value that, but in order for it to go forward, we have to constantly keep our eye on the goals and understand that we can’t be complacent. We can’t sit back.
In doing that, I had a few other things. I have some quotes here. I don’t read a whole lot, but I read Moneyball, George Hidinger, a great young coach who works for United States Swimming. The book Moneyball is written by Michael Lewis, he’s not really a baseball guy, but it’s about baseball. It’s about the Oakland Athletics when they put a team together, very low budget and was extremely successful. If you’re a baseball fan you may know a little bit about it. Billy Beane was the general manager for the Oakland Athletics and Billy Beane had a philosophy that he had five key things when he was looking at doing trades during the trade season if you’re familiar with baseball right in the middle of a season.
You get a chance to enhance your lie and you get to pick up players and you look at it and he was talking about trading an athlete somebody was looking for. I think it relates a little to what we want to do in coaching. His first rule, number one, no matter how successful you are, change is always good. There can be no status quo. Really applies to us. If you think you got all the answers, you’re in trouble. If you think your toolbox is completely right, you need to listen to Teri and you need to readjust how you’re using the tools. Add new ones if you can. Number two, the day you say you have to do something, you’re lost.
You make a bad deal. Bad deals will affect you for a long time. Sometimes the best thing to do is sit back and think and make sure what you’re doing is right. You don’t have to do anything, but at least when you do something, think it out and make sure it’s a real good decision.
Three, know exactly what every player is worth what he’s talking about. I think in this decision when you’re looking at your practice and you don’t know exactly what each tool you have that you’re using in practice is worth. What are you trying to accomplish? Know where your long-term goal is. You may not get it everyday, but focus on the process being very good, and you’ve got a better chance of being successful.
Four, know exactly what you want and go after it, because if you’ve got someone you think can make the Olympic team, tell them. Plant the seed. I’m talking 16 maybe even 12, but don’t hold back. If that’s what you want, if that’s what the athlete wants, then go for it. But make sure you tell him what it’s going to take along the way, because it’s not an easy process.
Number five, every deal in baseball is publicly scrutinized. He said one of the first things he had to remember was it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. He had to go through and follow through in what he was doing. If you have a plan, set up your plan, don’t be afraid, don’t worry about what everyone else likes.
You just heard one of the best coaches in the United States tell you that one of the biggest things she did was quit worrying about everyone else. Don’t worry about everyone else. Do what you think is correct, set it up, get advice from good people, set up the program and go for it. So a little bit of my reading helped a little bit. I’m just throwing out some thoughts now. I’m just going to throw out thoughts, because I want you to think about where you want to be four years from now. Right now, if you’re working with a 12-year‑old girl or a 15-year-old boy, we constantly talk about the old people involved in swimming. I have a fear sometimes that we’re selling our young people short. They are very, very good athletes.
An Australian won the 100 freestyle at the World Championships, I believe he’s 19, young guy. I got a Polish kid who swims for me, final to the World Championships, 19. We had people at our Nationals, there was a 13-year-old girl in the 400 IM consolation. We had lots of 15, 16, 17-year-old boy backstrokers. They’re this close to being there. Do not sell them short. Get away from, “hey, honey, wait until you’re a little bit older.” Your job, if you’re not a college coach, is to challenge every athlete to be as good as they can possibly be. Don’t worry about whether Teri McKeever can do a good job with them later. She will do a good job with them. Challenging. If you make it challenging and fun, you spend time communicating with your athletes, they don’t burn out.
The time they burn out most is when they’re not challenged. We have highly aggressive people with tremendous goals. If you’re setting up the program and we have these goals, challenge them. Now there may be certain things that you don’t give them at certain ages, but that doesn’t mean the challenge isn’t there. Back to those 12 and 15-year-olds, if they’ve been training 12 hours a week for 48 weeks a year for five years at that age and that’s possible. That means your girl started somewhere around 6 or 7. The guy started somewhere around 10. Just swimming alone, they put in 30,000 hours working on. From now until 2016, if they put in 20 hours a week and that might be a little minimum, putting 20 hours a week. That’s an additional 50,000 hours.
We’re looking at 80,000 hours if you’re into the buzzwords and the talent code and Eriksson and everything, there is 80,000 of your 10,000. You’re working with people right now. There’s a 12-year-old in someone’s program right here and there’s a 12-year‑old girl that can make the team in four years. If you tell them they can’t, indirectly, they won’t. If you plant the seed, there’s a chance. Right now we keep talking about our older athletes who are successful and Ryan Lochte is a great athlete. Michael Phelps is a great athlete. Go back and look when they made their first National Team or when they swam their first Olympics. They were not old people. We’re going to produce a new Michael Phelps and we’re going to need him.
We’re going to produce a new Ryan Lochte and we’re going to need him. Natalie Coughlin, she’s on her first National Team. She won in college. She wasn’t an old woman and the world isn’t dramatically faster now than what it was then. It’s deeper, but it is not dramatically faster. Folks we’ve got to start challenging those people. We need to do that and then I think that’s something you need to be thinking and I think that 10, 000 hours thing. Remember that 10,000 isn’t just time. I run across this often that so many of our athletes in today’s society relate coming to practice to getting better. They’re missing the intensity that’s involved in being good. Just being there doesn’t get the job done, being there and having someone tell you it’s not good enough, being there and not being afraid to tell them.
If you tell them they’re good all the time, they won’t believe you, because they know better than that after a while. Don’t be afraid to challenge them. A talent, we talked about a lot. I can’t tell you what is right. I listed a whole lot of things and they come out to me as talent, hours of practice, intensity of effort, training protocols, consistency, body specifics, long arms, long legs, who floats the best, attitude, the mental make-up of the person, ability to communicate them with the coach and the coach with them, mental skills, their swimming IQ, how well do they adapt to situations, environment, heart, courage, pain tolerance, x factor, that little thing that no one can measure, luck, as you put all those together, you can’t identify which kid in your program is going to be great.
There are too many variables. Don’t sell any of them short. Challenge them, we will produce better people, and a few might drop by the wayside. I know that’s easy for me to say, because my paycheck isn’t based on numbers, but I think that we have so many athletes, we need to challenge them a little bit more. The greatest strength of United States Swimming, the two greatest strengths are the diversity of the coaches and the number of coaches we have. The ability to share amongst us coaches and work towards common goals and the amount of athletes we have. Now I’m not saying run through, you don’t have to be a machine. You’ve got to understand there’re individual differences, but at the same time, the people that win are unusual.
They’re abnormal, who weren’t made to swim, who aren’t made to swim fast. You weren’t made to swim fast. You aren’t made to hold your breath the last 15 meters. You weren’t made to hold your breath off the wall like she talked about. Those are not natural occurrences. You have to fight through the uncomfortable and there are abnormal people to be successful if we’re talking about performance and I really believe just like that guy that wrote me the email, the things we teach those people are tremendous. I get an email once a year from a guy that was the biggest pain in the butt I ever worked with. He quit swimming early and he thanked me, because the things he learned there are exactly the things that he’s using to be one of the most successful businessmen in the world right now and he wants someone to work with his children where they can get those same sorts of values.
You hold those things. Those are the great personalities that Frank Busch was talking about that we want to involve in United States Swimming. All those talent things, this is where I think Eriksson’s 10,000 hours is a little bit wrong, because you get your 10,000 hours in other areas. Classroom learning, how to concentrate that relates to one of those skills, other sports, eye-hand coordination. Kids that have been in gymnastics. Those are still part of their 10,000 hours of being an athlete. So we talked about—I got you to 8,000, the other 10,000 is—you’re close so if you’re working with a 12-year-old right now that’s a pretty good athlete. You’ve got a chance.
I never planned on being up here. I don’t know how it happened. I’m a history teacher, eighth grade, they’re a little bit sharper than the fifth grader, but not sharp enough you can’t stay ahead of them. I’ve still got time. I’m going to use my whole half hour. Look at all these notes, I have to. These are just thoughts. They are in no order at all. I’m not as organized as Frank. I’m kind of the mad professor this evening. They put me at the end of the batting order. I’m just trying to hold my own. When we’re looking into those attributes I read to you about athletes.
Great coaches have the same attributes. It’s a two‑way street. The communication, those are the skills that you have in your toolbox. Those are the little things, those are the nuts and the bolts. The nails that she has in her toolbox, those are the things you use the tools with and you need those. So then multiply those with your athlete having them come together is really, really important. I’m one of the luckiest people in the world. I’ve worked with Ryan Lochte for 10 years. Folks, you don’t work with many athletes for 10 years. Professional sports, very few guys stay 10 years on the same team. If you’re working in a normal club program, age group coach might see a kid for 5 years and the senior coach might see him for five. They’re gone. If you work in college you might see him for four or five years, very seldom do you see them for 10.
Natalie Coughlin has been with the same coach for a long time. We’re back to being in those plateaus and a guy worked with her through every plateau. He hasn’t thrown in the towel and said he’s looking for new ways. He, right now, coupled with Peter Vanderkaay, is making me a better coach, because every day they’re asking for how can I get better. Not how easily can I get better, how can I get better. We want to encourage those types of people at a younger age. If we don’t, we won’t continue to be the best swimming country in the nation. Leadership is the one—your athletes need to have it, they have to learn that skill. You as a coach, it’s one of the most important things you do. I’m going to sound like I’m really intelligent here.
I read 1776, you ever read it? It’s about 1776 and the whole deal with Washington from Boston to New York and the real bad times, the army and crossing the Delaware and everything. It’s really interesting, one of the greatest leaders in American History, George Washington, doubted himself almost all the time, but he never let other people know. He was seeking of information from his associate generals. He valued it, he didn’t always do what they said, but he valued it and he took advice from them. Darkest days in real serious times, we’re just talking about swimming. I think leadership is really key.
As a coaching community, we have to continue to cooperate. That’s the bind that keeps us all together. Cooperation, cohesiveness are one of our biggest strengths and this is a pet peeve of mine. I coach the University of Florida team. We also have a club team. I had a little girl stop and talked to me, because they’re coming in to practice and we leave little boys coming in and out. I think we’ve got to get away from this club coach, age group coach, college coach. We are swim coaches and we cannot put in 10,000 hours of work unless everyone at all the levels is valued and they’re doing a great job of it.
Sometimes there’s this deal you only work with eight and under. If you don’t teach the eight and under how to swim correctly, my job is twice as tough by the time they’ve done it wrong for 10 years. It’s the most important task there is. If you don’t motivate the 12‑year-old when they’re a little bit down and take some time with them. Challenge them, don’t baby them, but if you don’t take some time and explain to them, we’re going to lose some of our best athletes along the way. We have to get out of this separating our coaches. There’re a whole lot of people that could work with Ryan Lochte.
There’re not a whole lot of people that can always work with the eight and under on a bad day or a fifth grader. So I think that some of us have just been lucky enough to work with the right athlete. You need to be supportive of one another and exchange ideas. If we help one another, we will continue to be the best swimming nation. Eddie Reese talks about the training pendulum that swings back and forth. We go from big yardage to low yardage and it swings back and forth. There’s no doubt about that. I think the key to being a successful coach is you either want to be in front of the pendulum or behind the pendulum.
You don’t want to be the pendulum. If you’re in front of it, you’re in the cutting edge and you’re going to be a little bit ahead of everyone else. If you’re behind it you still have the old skills and it’s going to come back your way sooner or later. You don’t get on the pendulum, you want to be either in front of it or behind it and it goes both ways. But there’s something to be gained by both. I’ve been talking to some friends that are coaches. We get caught up. There are two platforms and I think there’re two basic platforms in coaching and you’re going to be involved in one or the other.
One platform is that hard work, Gregg Troy mentality, Bob Bowman. The crazy people in tally, Richard Schulberg, one of the most successful coaches around. Bob Bowman’s been tremendously successful. Richard Schoulberg’s been successful for years. Their platform, their initial platform is in the training end, the hard work end. The other platform is in technique. We’ve got great coaches in the technique platform. Missy Franklin doesn’t swim high volume at all. Her coaching is in a little more in that platform. Both platforms are important. You have to have both. How you mix the two is a matter of preference, but you’ve got to be on both platforms.
There’s no right or wrong. Our coaching community needs to understand that. we need to support one another and more and more have more people working in both platforms. When we do that we’re going to have a greater level of success. Real quickly, 2016 success one, we need to continue to cooperate and work together. Two, we have to commit the time and this is a priority. You’ve got to put the time in and I think we’re missing sometimes with our older athletes. When you get older, you may practice different, but you don’t practice less time.
If you go across the world and we have a few foreign coaches sitting in there and I know they feel a lot the same way. When an athlete gets older there seems to be this concept that no longer do they have to put in the time. They may not have to put in the same work, but the same amount of time is still required. It might be done in different proportions and different than one of those two platforms, but the same amount of time is required. You cannot cut corners. Not and continue to get better. Now you might stay in the same place, but not continue to get better.
I’m back again to Billy Beane. You know status quo, you’ve got to be working to get better. Sooner or later someone will catch you if you don’t. Three, there’s no right or wrong way. There’re lots of different ways, but they all take time and they all take patience. Four, goals need to be high. I think we’re setting our goals too low in the United States. We have to stop doing that. Society does that for us. We don’t have to participate. Someone asked me one time, my son actually asked me on his first job and he says, “It must be really nice to work something where you see all these people and you get to watch people improve.” We’re getting to that age, we have a beer together and want to talk. It’s nice.
But anyway in talking about it, he was complaining about the people he works with of how little pride they have in what they did. He was a pretty good track athlete and learned how to work hard. And this is from a 26-year-old in his first job. He’s saying, “Dad, I can’t understand how these people come to work and they just put in time. Just punch the clock.” He says, “I’ve got to go do other people’s jobs for them, because they don’t take any pride in what they do.” Society is going to sell us out, guys. And when I started, he asked me why I started coaching and I think about it a lot and the main thing is I just thought the sport gave tremendous values and made tremendous people.
And since I was a history teacher, it made sense. I think sometimes we get too far away from that. You heard Teri. Teri and I didn’t talk at all. I just knew she was brining in a toolbox. She’s way cuter than I in a lot of ways, but that’s what she talked about. They’re good people. That’s what Frank talked about first thing. If we put our values there we’re going to have great athletes. It’s a tremendous country with tremendous athletes with tremendous coaches. Five, be a leader. You don’t have to lead the same way, but don’t be afraid to be a leader. Step out on the limb, take a risk. Don’t worry about what everyone else says. Do what you think is correct.
Learn from others, but adapt to your situation. What Teri does in her toolbox will help in your situation, but you might have to use tools in a little different manner. So adapt, don’t walk out of this and say wow that was tremendous. What someone tells you tomorrow and go home and try to make it your program. You’ll probably be unsuccessful. Seven, direction focus, have no fear, go for it. The best inventors, some of the most famous people were unsuccessful before they were successful. Washington in 1776 had lost almost every battle. Their army was leaving him, but he stayed after. And eight, we need to continually evaluate and educate our athletes regardless of their age.
We play football here in the States, let me tell you, it doesn’t matter if the guy is a 35‑year-old, all pro line backer, Bill Belichick still tells him what he wants him to do. He listens to the guy when the guy gives him information, but he’s still not afraid to tell him where he’s supposed to be if he’s in the wrong spot. We can’t be afraid to do that. We’ve got some tremendous 27, 26, 30-year-old athletes. They know a lot, we need to communicate and take their information, but we should not take all the information they give us as gospel. They’re a little tainted, because they’re athletes just like that middle line backer, he makes mistakes sometimes. We want to help them not make mistakes so they can actually be great. I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you. Thank you very much for the honors and all the support, because there’re plenty of people out there that have helped me along the way. Thank you very much.