I want to thank you for this opportunity. John Leonard caught me on the shuttle to the airport when we were down at Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. This is a wonderful opportunity, a great organization, a lot of my peers and associates are here this evening. That is refreshing to see. The first question that we always get asked is how do you pronounce our team. It is Pew-all-up. In Puyallup, Washington named for a native American Indian tribe that dominates the Puyallup valley, that empties into the Puget sound. I went to Puyallup Aquatic Club 8 years ago to transition the team from a recreational 5 times a week for an hour and a half club into a nationally recognized program.
My coach and friend and mentor George Breen, — I swam for George at Vesper boat club in the early 70’s. I swam with George at the University of Pennsylvania in the later 70’s. George is responsible for a lot of the things that we do in Puyallup and the reason that we are as successful. I would really like to take this opportunity to thank him. If we could have a round of applause for coach Breen. You don’t get to hear things that terribly often. I started swimming with George when I was thirteen years old, I lived 65 miles away. We had to commute to get to Vesper. I lived at the Jersey shore. We drove up to Philadelphia. As a lot of you would assume, that would be a difficult commute. George provided me with the opportunity to stay at his house on weekends. He provided me with the opportunity to stay with other families on the club, so that I could pursue my dream and my goal.
When I graduated from college the furthest thing from my mind was pursuing a career as a coach. My career ended in 1979 with a dislocation to my right shoulder with that old backstroke crossover turn. Up in Cornell I got a little too close to the wall, I was having a swim, it was the last turn. I drove into that turn and I drove my shoulder right out of its socket, and my elbow was where my shoulder was supposed to be, and so that kind of ended it for me. I did not go back to a swimming pool for ten years after that.
I was working building single family homes in the construction industry, I was making a very good living. I moved down to the Jersey shore with my wife and family. I started rehabilitating and restoring old Victorian homes. I was on the governor’s council for historic preservation. I was really enjoying what I was doing. It was historical, it was academic. We got to research the houses, we got to do period Victorian store fronts, we got to do Victorian towers. It was really pretty exciting. A friend of mine came up to me one evening and asked if I’d be interested in helping out with a local club, a club that basically I had swam for when I was really young. I still had some records and that’s how they recognized that maybe I’d be interested in coaching swimming. I went in that evening as a volunteer assistant. After the first week, the head coach quit, and I was stuck standing there with 125 kids, and trying to run my own business. That was my introduction back to swimming.
I basically missed the 80’s. I didn’t start coaching until 1989, which was interesting in and of itself. There were a lot of changes in the 80’s. We had gone from doing a lot of over distance training with guys like George Breen and George Haines in the 70’s to some very sprint dominate swimming in the 1980’s when I came back to the sport. In the early 1990’s we went back to doing a lot of over distance training. Our program, in the case of both Megan Quann and Jamie Reed, we’ll go an average of between 100,000 and 120,000 yards in a week at our peek training. Wow would be appropriate, especially with the concept that most of us have for breaststrokers.
Megan and Jamie enjoyed, over the course of this past year and a half 14 workouts. We would do two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon, and three times a week we would do an hour of just kicking right as they got out of school, Our morning workouts for them would run from 6-8 in the morning, and 6-8 at night so right after school, they would be getting out at twelve thirty, one o’clock, we would do a kick workout 3 times a week to get 14 water workouts in the pool. A lot of yards. What we do though, is we don’t do what we were doing in the 70’s where we would do a set of 10 800’s or 20 400’s and George would sit on the diving board reading his paper sipping a coke, while we banged out a set. Our sets are relatively short in nature and quick rest intervals in between to build basically to a threshold. That’s to say that we like to hold the athletes attention.
If we throw something at them like 20 400’s, the first couple they might stay in the energy group they were trying to work, and the last couple, but the whole middle was just absolutely nothing. We break our sets up, it’s nothing for us to have a workout say on Hy-Tek workout manager that’s 40 lines long. In some instances we go beyond the limit of what the Hy-Tek workout manager allows, and have to hand write the rest of the sets on the back of a page. It’s very quick, very short, very attention grabbing and still we’re able to get the yardage in.
We have 8 levels to our program, Megan Quann, both Megan and Jamie started with us. Jamie started as an 8 year old, and Megan started at the age of 9 ½, swam through our program. I have had the opportunity and the luxury to be able to work with all of our athletes. We have between 85 and 100 in our program at any given time and I have the opportunity over the course of the week to work with all of those athletes. We have our practices staggered so that I can do that. So in Megan’s and in Jamie’s specific cases the only coach they’ve known since they have come to the sport of swimming has been me.
(Response to Question) I was working with coach Shoulburg at Foxcatcher. My job there was videotaping and stroke analysis for David Berkoff and David Worton in preparation for the 1992 Olympics. Puyallup conducted a nation wide search through ASCA as a matter of fact, and that’s how I ended up. There. I interviewed for the job in November, I took the job in January, and my family and I drove out to Washington over the Christmas break with our 4 children. It was an experience in and of itself.
(Another question) Our workouts are always different. In the 8 years that I’ve been there, once we’ve done the same workout, and we did that in an afternoon practice because the kids didn’t get it done in the morning. Parameters stay the same, but the actual sets change. One of the big things that we like to do with Megan this past year, we really focused on breaststroke for her. We’ve trained butterfly as a training stroke for her. When she swims breaststroke she swims breaststroke fast, so we don’t do a lot of over distance training in breaststroke. We’ll use butterfly for the body motion and the undulation to train Megan’s breaststroke.
We’ll like to do sets where we’ll really get the lactic acid up. We’ll do a set of 50’s with a descending interval for Megan, and then go to a broken 100 breaststroke where she has really got to get on it. Another distinction we do not do a lot of pulling and a lot of kicking with Megan. I’ve been asked frequently about Megan’s performance over 100 meters kicking. Megan doesn’t do 100 meter breaststroke kicks.
We were down at the Olympic training center this past year in April for an Olympic preparation camp. They measured Megan’s specific ability, her power relative to her pull, or power relative to her kick, and her swimming power. Her swimming power was 118% of the accumulation of her pulling and kicking power, so Megan’s forte is that she’s able to put her pull and her kick together to swim breaststroke effectively and efficiently. I think that speaks to the fact that we don’t do a lot of pulling and a lot of kicking with Megan.
(Response to Question) Jamie was in the same boat for backstroke, and they were the only two athletes that we had down there. Jamie was 112%.
(Response to Question) No, our kids really when they race do not really demonstrate a weakness of kicking, and so we don’t like to tie their feet up, we don’t like to pull with buoys. When we do fin sets we’ll do them swimming with fins on to emphasize the kick and things like that, but we don’t do pulling and kicking. The other difficulty would be being able get that yardage in — doing pulling and kicking sets really slows down our intervals.
(Response to Question) Three workouts a week, but it wasn’t breaststroke kick. It was fly kick, it was free kick, it was to supplement what we were doing in the pool. Sets would be long easy stuff. It would be mostly 400 or 500 changing strokes, a lot of IM kick on your back. Identifying that we didn’t have time in our regular workouts to work kick in and of itself, and identifying that that was an area for both Megan and Jamie that we could make some great improvements.
(Response to Question) Dryland keeps changing for us. We started off two years ago doing some resistance work, and over the course of this past year, we’ve been fortunate enough to go out and solicit in the community an individual who is working on his masters degree at The University of Washington in physical therapy. His name is Tim Newton, he is an athletic trainer. Tim has provided us with the opportunity to do some balancing core strengthening exercises revolving around a foam roll , so when we go into the gym, we’re not focused on weights and things like that. We are focusing on form and posture and then we use some light weights as resistance. The athletes do that four times a week for an hour.
The foam roll is three feet long, it has a flat side to it, and a round side to it, so when we do a typical exercise like a bench press they’ll be laying on that foam roll. What that does is it makes the athlete stabilize those small muscles, those supporting muscles in the spine and their abdomen while they’re lifting the dumb bells to perform that exercise. They do the same thing with squats so they maintain that body posture. They’re balancing on a foam roll, and squatting lifting weights, so they can’t not be in the right body posture, or the body form while their lifting.
(Response to Question) Foam roll runs along their spine, it’s about 3 feet long and about 6 inches wide they’re really pretty inexpensive. We get them for about $6. You can get them through physical therapy offices, physical therapy supply stores, occupational therapy. It’s been a big boom for us over the course of this last year, we identify with Megan and Jamie. One of the big difficulties that they had was with all the swimming that they had done, they where really pretty uncoordinated on land. The problem associated with that was they really hadn’t developed those supporting muscles alone their spine, their subscapular muscles, their abdomens to support their bodies. They were slouched, they were hunched forward, and a lot of that was a function of having started swimming at an early age, they used the water to float themselves and did that.
We found that if we were able to do balance exercises on land, their body posture improved in the pool, Boomer likes to call it their line, increased dramatically. Jamie made some huge improvements this past year. She went 2:12 in spring nationals in her 200 back, the fastest time in the last three years by an American because of her body posture. We do that on the deck, not in the pool.
(Response to Question) In a lot of senses, yes, it’s a motor skill drill that’s allowing them the opportunity to get to know their bodies a little bit better, absolutely.
(Response to Question) We are the Puyallup Aquatic Club, we do not swim in the city of Puyallup Washington or anywhere close. We have to travel 20 miles north to the King County Aquatic Center for our morning and evening practices. When that is not open, we have to travel 20 miles south to Eatenville high school in order to swim. All of our kids are members of the local health club. When we have a conflict with not being able to get in to a pool, the kids go into the health club and swim their own workout. The only preclusion is I can’t be on the deck coaching.
The club purchased a van that I drive, a 15 passenger van, that we use to shuttle back and forth to practice. We’re basically a program without a pool.
(Response to Question) Megan’s three favorite drills, which are probably more important than mine, are: we do and up sweep drill. Megan has been able, in her strokes to generate a lot of forward thrust and lift with the up sweep on her stroke, so we do an up sweep drill where Megan is in the pool just sweeping up palms up, thumbs forward, little finger back, with someone holding her feet. The person holding her feet has difficulty holding her to the wall. The thrust that Megan is able to generate forward, is pretty incredible. She likes to do the double kick drill as well, she thinks that helps her with her timing. The other thing that we do a lot of with Megan is a right arm pull, left arm kick, left arm pull right arm kick and then full stroke. Again, trying to get her in touch with her center.
(Response to Question) It changes, I hate to use the word ordinary because it changes all the time. And I’m very conscious about that. We don’t get in and do a general warm up and then do a pull set, cause we don’t do pull. We don’t do an aerobic set. Depending on the day we’ll start off where warm up goes right into basically our aerobic base. It’ll start off easy and we’ll drop 5 seconds as we go through the set. Sometimes we’ll jump up behind the blocks after that and do some anaerobic to really get the heart rate up. Then, back off and settle for some 200’s that we’re breaking up. We do a lot of broken stuff, and we like to keep it short and just keep it moving. The kids call it short hypoxic interval training. We leave the acronym to you.
(Response to Question) We have a seasonal plan, we have a monthly plan, we have a weekly plan. We train on a three week cycle. We’ll go two weeks where we are going relatively hard, and by that I mean we like to work into it, we’ll go three hard practices then one recovery practice. That was something that we incorporated over the course of the past year. It used to be we’d get in and bang all time, and go hard. We’ve now incorporated recovery . We use that opportunity to work stroke mechanics and stroke drills. The third week of that three week training cycle is devoted to recovery. We’ll go hard maybe three times during the course of that week, and the rest of the week will just be getting in the pool and going long and easy. It does have an aerobic based component to it on our recovery time, but that’s how we train.
The individual workouts, and this is something that I learned from Shoulburg, because they change all the time — they’re made up the day of the practice. Then, when we go to practice, if that isn’t working, we’re not afraid to change that depending on how the group is reacting.
(Response to Question) The great thing about our sport, the sport of swimming, and I had the opportunity when I was younger to play soccer, play football, play baseball, and swim, the great part about swimming was it didn’t really seem to come down to a question of body type or shape. It really came down to a question of how hard you were willing to work.
We went to our age group regional championship this past year which is like a junior Olympic championship. We only have 85 kids. We were competing against teams that had 200, 300, 400, 500 kids. Our athletes actually won that meet. We had 17 individuals win 49 different events. The neat thing about our sport is if the kids have the opportunity to be successful.
Did Megan and Jamie distinguish themselves? Megan has some personality characteristics that are extremely impressive for a young woman. She’s very focused, she’s very driven, she’s very capable of visualizing. She can close her eyes and swim her 100 breaststroke and you can stand over her and watch her swimming while she’s just laying there visualizing. She can do it with a stop watch, and she does it to the time that she wants to race, which is a 1:05.49 to the watch, visualizing. I mean, absolutely incredible.
(Response to Question) We work to that, if that makes sense, and we work to goals. We’ll break sets similar to a mile time, or we’ll break out a goal time and then hold that through the course of a mile. What we typically do though is we decrease the rest intervals that they get.
(Response to Question) I have a distinct advantage, I have four children that all swim on the team, so not only am I a coach, but I can always throw the parent part as well, which has come in very handy in a lot of conversations. The other advantage that we have is that 9 times out of 10, I’m getting those kids back and forth to practice, so that takes kind of the parents out of the loop of we can’t get there, we can’t do this. That whole program of driving kids to workout goes back to what my coach basically did for me when I had to travel 65 miles. I think people now have a greater understanding and appreciation of what this opportunity can do for these athletes. Megan and Jamie, over the course of the last two years have been all over the world, on US Swimming basically, to swim in world cup meets. Jamie was in short course world championships in Greece last year. Megan was at Pan Pac Championships in Australia, so I think there’s a greater awareness and a greater sense of maybe what this opportunity can provide these young athletes.
Our biggest base of athlete right now are at 13-14 girls. We have athletes now that are swimming faster than Megan and Jamie did at 13-14. It’s very exciting.
(Response to Question) How do we keep boys in the pool? It came up in earlier discussions that keeping males in the sport is difficult. Little story, two years ago when Megan and Jamie both qualified for the Goodwill Games team, I have an 8 year old son that swims as well. He made his top 16 times as a ten and under this year. My 8 year old took the senior boys to task in the locker room when Megan and Jamie made the team and said, “I don’t have anyone to look up to here, we have two girls on the Goodwill Games team and no guys,” this is coming from the 8 year old, so over the course of the last couple of years, our senior guys have stepped up. We had a boy Jesse Nits, made his trial cuts this year as a high school senior.
The difficulty that we have in the northwest are lack of collegian programs , and you heard it announced right before trials that they were gonna eliminate their program University of Washington which was the only guys program in the area. WSU didn’t have a guys program, both Oregon schools don’t have guys programs, and so it is really difficult for us to get guys and keep guys in the sport. In Puyallup itself we have the Urad Boys, I don’t know how many of you are familiar with that. They are football players, quarterbacks, one plays for Miami now, the other plays for the Seahawks. They are professional football players, that doesn’t make it easy for us either. Ball sports seem to dominate in the area .
(Response to Question) This is gonna go probably the other way from the conversations that you guys have had over the course of the past week, through Dick Shoulburg, when I was working with him at Foxcatcher, Dick doesn’t use the energy categories. I don’t either. I’ll go back after I make a workout and try to get a feel for where we were, what we did and then evaluate that at the end of the week, and then maybe look at the following week of increasing. Shoulburg always made the claim to coach to the athlete and not to the science — to use the science as a tool.
What has been amazing for me is Jamie Reed went to her first Junior Nationals and won the100 back, and this was the summer of 1997. In 1998 we took Megan and Jamie to Senior Nationals, They both swam flat in their 200’s, the 200’s were first, in the 100’s they both came back out of the blue, and Megan dropped 4 seconds. Jamie dropped a second and a half. They both came back to win the event. Science would say that you can’t do that. It would be unreasonable to expect that, it’s unrealistic. I mean, the neat thing about these young ladies is I think that they’ve taught me that anything really is possible.
We’ve all heard that over the course of growing up. I mean, these guys go out and do it on a regular daily basis. Dropping 4 seconds in 100 breaststroke is unheard of, and then for two years we’ve heard, well let’s see where they are in two years and let’s see what they do. At Spring Nationals Jamie went 2:12.00, 200 back fastest in the last three years, and Megan keeps taking seconds off the American record in the 100 breaststroke because she knows she can, and I’m not gonna tell her she can’t.
Megan has had that knack since she was little. When she was 10 years old, and came up to me at a meet in Seattle and said, “Rick, I’m gonna make the zone cut.” I’m like “Megan, you know, that’s three seconds away.” I’m gonna make the zone cut. Dammit, she can get up on the block and make the zone cut. At Senior Nationals when she won she came to me and said “I’m gonna go 1:09.” She went 1:09. That summer after the Goodwill Games they were picking the Pan Pac, the Pan-Am team, the World University games. This was summer of 1998. Megan wanted to make the Pan Pac team. She was third in the 100 breaststroke by a hundredth of a second. Kristie Kowal won, Ashley Robey was second, Megan was third by a hundredth. I was disappointed for her. Megan came up to me and said, “Rick, I did another best time.” I mean, she kinda put things in perspective for me.
She had another chance the following summer, she turned down going to the Pan-Am games, turned it down. Dennis Pursely looked at her like she was nuts, lectured me about taking the sure thing. Megan came back at Spring Nationals in Minnesota, went a 1:08.70 set a new Nationals record, and made the Pan Pac team, went on to Pan Pacs to get second in the 100 breaststroke, rookie of the meet award, and just a phenomenally focused young lady who is successful because she is willing to take a chance, and she is willing to dream.
We’re asking what were some of Megan’s weaknesses earlier in her career. Megan is not a very big young lady, at Senior Nationals this past year Megan won the 100 breaststroke, was standing on the block. Kristie Kowal was second. Standing in second place on the podium, she still had about a foot on Megan, and Katie McClullen, I believe was third from SMU, and she had a foot on Megan standing on the third podium. So she is not a big young lady. She does have some scoliosis, some curvature of her spine. There were some questions about her diet. She doesn’t have an eating disorder, per say, but she has some food allergies that we were able to identify that limited her aerobic performance, and her ability to recover between sets. Those are the things that we worked with.
When Megan was twelve, she wanted to go for the national age group record in the 50 breaststroke that Amanda Beard held. Amanda was her idle. We went to zones in Wyoming that year. We talked to Megan , she wanted to start doing doubles as a twelve year old. We wouldn’t let her do that. We talked to her that we wanted to take some time, and make sure that Megan was still gonna be in the sport when she was 15 and 16. We weren’t gonna do doubles when she was 12. We were gonna train her to be a confident athlete at 15 and 16. We sacrificed some sprint speed at that time to do some of the aerobic over distance training that we were doing, but I certainly think that it paid off for her in the long run.
(Response to Question) No, I was a philosophy major, swimming is life. It’s not a pretty picture. The first thing I did was picked up the US Swimming rule book and read that. There were a lot of significant changes over the course of the ten years that I wasn’t involved in the sport. The other thing that I did, I had an excellent opportunity in middle Atlantic swimming to have mentors like coach Breen and coach Shoulburg. They provided me with a lot of insights, but that was pretty much it, and relying on my experiences as an athlete.
(Asking about the drive) It’s a 20 mile drive, it can range anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Seattle traffic is not very pretty, and going to Eatenville is a single lane road. I actually give the athletes the opportunity with the 15 kids in the car to kinda be kids and let them talk about kinda whatever they want. I really try not to, with their training schedule, I mean an hour of dryland, 2 hours in the morning, 2 hours in the evening. We’re spending 5 hours a day working out. Really they kinda need time to be kids. The video camera is available in the car, you can view video tapes that we’ve done during the curse of practice for stroke mechanics and technique. More often then not, they’re talking about contemporary life issues for adolescents
(Response to Question) We generally will only go through the set once, so that gives you some ideas of the number of lines that you are going, and then the other thing we want to have a specific focus. So we will do a set sometimes that we will emphasize legs that we will do a set of 50’s just start off with a descending interval, let’s say 12 50’s minus 5, 4, 3 whatever. Really emphasizing the legs then we will turn around and put fins on and do a sprint set with fins after fatiguing the legs so there is a goal in mind in designing the set and then how you design the set really is subject to what your specific goal was.
Like with Megan on breaststroke, we would want some speed stuff, so we would start off with 100 broken at the 25 where she is getting a full, maybe one to one if not more, one to three work ratio, that she is getting 40 seconds on the first one then we will put some fins on her and have her do some fly to fatigue her, and then we will do another one where she gets less rest, then we will do a set that is designed that her 100 breaststroke lasts about 1 minute and 5 seconds, so we will go a distance that corresponds to that minute and 5 seconds or we are training her to last, endurance wise that long and then go back to another sprint one, I mean there isn’t one specific set.
(Response to Question) Depending on the time of the season, it will be anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes, my specific goal is that I don’t want to repeat anything so often that it becomes boring, I get a lot of positive feedback from the athletes, just two days ago, I talk to Megan everyday, and everything is always awesome for Megan, which doesn’t always help, but it is great that she is having a good time, but it is really rewarding, our workouts are a game, and I’ll throw stuff at the kids and the athletes that in some senses I don’t think their going to be able to make, we’ll get down to send offs and intervals that really are really pushing the edge, we will do that and then we will back off and that gives them a chance to catch up and then we will go at it again, so it is a game to challenge the athletes to keep it interesting and exciting. I throw stuff at them that I don’t think that they can do and then they turn around and do it, and it’s almost like we are competing and that makes it interesting and exciting.
It’s not always 200, we did a set yesterday, we did a set of 5, 500 IM’s where we would go 4 100 IM’s, 100 IM build each stroke, then we went 300 IM, 100 IM build each stroke, finish with 100 IM and break it up like that, so it is not always short but it’s always changing, it’s not limited to a set of 5, 500’s, it’s not a set of 8 400’s.
(Response to Question) We in indiscriminately use test sets, I don’t always tell the athletes that, that’s what we are doing, if that makes sense.
(Response to Question) Well we don’t do the same test set, we will change the parameters to accomplish the same goal, so we don’t , what we’ll do is we compare, the bottom line here is speed over a given distance. So for Megan the goal is 1:05.49 for 100, so that’s what is really important. One of the things that we have done over the course of this last year with Megan is that we have done a lot of velocity, analysis, she hasn’t seen that , but we targeted for Megan, but the biggest improvement that we could make in Megan’s race is off her turn coming home, her fade, I mean she really has the American record going out in the 100. There aren’t a lot of athletes that can keep up with Megan’s speed in the breaststroke, coming home though she had a tendency to get caught. Over the course of this last year we have made great improvements to that 2nd 50. How do we measure that? We’re measuring it, I’m measuring it using 71/2, 15, 25, 35 meter marks down the pool and getting velocities on Megan and tracking that over given practices.
(Response to Question) To me the goal is to reduce drag so that when you dive in you maintain as much of that momentum over the course of the race as you possibly can.
(Response to Question) Well, it’s meters per second. We gauge it at a given instant, I mean the problem is that I don’t have access to equipment that is going to give me the opportunity to use radar guns and things like that, so we measure it at the 71/2 meter mark and the 15 meter mark. That was really interesting where this came from, was last year when Megan swam at Pan Pacs, we got some statistics from the Australian institute of sport, that showed off the wall Kristy and Penny Hanes were a lot faster than Megan, But, they dropped off significantly, Megan on the other hand was able to maintain more momentum over the course of the length and was the only breaststroker that was doing that. We built on that strength. Right, wrong or indifferent, she was doing something different then anybody else and it seemed to be a strength for her.
(Response to Question) We target a single competition, Megan and Jamie and our team as a whole, have been able to go out and swim fast at any time, shaved, unshaved. Megan down in Pasadena jumped up on the blocks at the end of a workout and went 1:09 100 breaststroke in workout, so, but we only target one . It was a three week, it was something that we played with, we started with a 2 week cycle and then talking with our trainer and our nutritionist that maybe we needed to incorporate more resting cycles into our training period. We found that in doing that the kids don’t ask what are we going to do in practice tonight, the kids want to know what the week plan is, how many hard practices, how many easy practices, then they figure out what the easy practices are going to be, I found that in doing that, we were able to get a lot more out of our difficult practices, we’re really stressing threshold and things like that.
(Response to Question) We afford them the opportunity, we have identified for each athlete a strong stoke, a weak stroke, a training stroke and an opposite stroke, and in given sets we afford them the opportunity. We will do a set of strong stroke such and such and then every third one is weak stroke and everybody’s doing different things. Megan’s short course yards is a 56.0 100 butterflyer, she is a low 57.00 backstroker, she is a 59 breaststroker and a 50 100 freestyler. Jamie has seven Olympic trial cuts, both IM’s, both flys, both backstrokes and distance freestyle. So they do train everything. I mean the advantage of that is it has the tendency to take pressure off of them to perform in any single event. Which we have seen as an asset, especially for younger athletes.
(Response to Question) Most, we have a medical support staff that include Megan Quann’s mother as a message therapist, we have two athletic trainers, one that doubles as a personal trainer, we have a nutritionist — she is actually from Australia, her forte has been the Australian Triathletes, she lives right down the street, and we have a sports medicine physician whose daughter swims on the team with us, so that is our medical support staff, and my wife actually runs medical laboratory at a hospital, so she does most of our blood chemistry’s and things like that.
(Response to Question) They are all volunteer, our whole team budget per annum, is about $120,000.00 not a lot.
(Response to Question) Who owns the team? Oh boy, good question, it is a parent administered, coach run club, 501 C 3 to provide for the community a competitive swimming program.
(Response to Question) Absolutely, and it is very, very important to get the entire club behind that specific mission statement and the first 4 to 5 years were literary a nightmare with going to parent board meetings, I mean it was like the Spanish inquisition, I would drag a file cabinet in there with me with supporting data and documentation. It ultimately has gotten to the point that it has been written into my contract that the head coach, me, has the final say on both the practice and competitive regime. So it is not open for discussion.
(Response to Question) We have taken anybody that has walked through the door.
(Response to Question) We have five coaches right now — we have a head age group coach and myself are the paid staff, then we have three parent coach volunteers that we’ve actually solicited and trained from our parents. We invited them on to the deck which is kind of a unique idea, but they are absolutely invaluable, one is Jamie Reed’s mom, Pam Reed coaches with us, another one of our senior athletes, Samantha Van Zanten’s mother, we brought them on board and trained them in what we would like to see happen.
(Response to Question) When I first got there I obviously had to move slowly and incorporating doubles, the team was only going about 3,000 yards in any given practice, I thought for sure that I would maybe be able to work with some of the 13/14 year olds that I had at that time, the only athlete that really made it all the way through the program was Jamie and at that time Jamie was 8 years old, every year I would take a step back and say maybe the 11/12’s, maybe the 9/10’s, the way that it worked out was Jamie really was the first athlete to come all the way through the program.
Did attitudes change? Megan and Jamie are really very, very special young ladies, I have a 16 year old daughter that swims with them, they train with the group as a whole, they really don’t get any special consideration as far as lanes, they will swim in a lane, pool time is crowded, they’ll swim in a lane with 8 other athletes doing the same set, my 16 year old, doesn’t think twice about running them over in any given practice. What I think that’s done to the group as a whole is let them realize and appreciate that if they are willing to step up anybody can do this.
(Response to Question) I haven’t seen that, that hasn’t been my personal experience, most noteworthy would be Jamie’s parents, well even Megan’s parents, I pretty much, Jamie will stay over the house with my 16 year old daughter, Megan comes to the house after the practices to eat lunch, I don’t think that the parents really have, I know that’s what you are trying to identify, is that some kind of parent little league mentality, that I have this all star athlete, we haven’t seen that, and I know that sounds really strange, we have a group of kids that like to get into the pool and work hard, they don’t like to taper, they don’t like to take breaks, they like to be in the pool and they like to swim a lot of yards, one of the things that we brought back from Shoulberg was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we do a 24 hour swim where the athletes are in the pool 13 of the 24 hours, these guys will go 50,000 yards in that 24 hours, one week after that Megan went to U.S. Open and broke three American records in the 50/100 and 200 meter short course breaststroke. They take pride in that, they enjoy that.
(Response to Question) I talk to Megan everyday and we are e-mailing workouts now. We were faxing when she was down at Pasadena, we are e-mailing now. Megan finished her last double two days ago, she is on single workouts now, tapering down.
(Response to Question) Megan and Jamie are both different, Jamie is probably a little bit more psychological then what Megan is. Jamie likes to keep doing a lot of hard stuff right up until a week and a half out, about ten days out from her taper, Megan on the other hand really enjoys the opportunity to really taper down, what we did this specific year, about 12 weeks out we went from a 4 to 1 two week cycle, going down to increasing the number of recovery workouts that we had, so from that 4 to1 we would go down to a 3 to 2 down to a 2 to 2 down to a 1 to 2 and then start for Megan. She right now will be doing one strong, 2 off and the strong really will be aerobic base more than anything else. Nothing really fast. We have some going to juniors and some going to zones and far westerns. The last several weeks of our season really make it difficult to have everybody on something different, but we try to the best of our ability to be able to accommodate that.
(Response to Question) For the distance kids no, for the distance kids and for the 12 and unders, we don’t do any kind of taper at all, but yes, for our more elite athletes it is very, very similar.
(Response to Question) Megan is an animal. When she first started swimming her first age group meet as a 10 year old, she went off on her back off the backstroke bars on her 50 backstroke, she took three strokes in the air before she hit the water, when she was diving off the block we had some difficulty with starters recalling Megan for false starting. Her reaction time is just absolutely incredible she is off the blocks before anybody. Megan knows how to, and really likes to race.
(Response to Question) When Megan first started swimming, Megan was not very keen on the idea of putting her face in the water and so Megan does not like to be under water and trying to keep her down for her pull out short of tying her down, and one of the things we did this past year was I jumped in the pool with her and I mean I haven’t been in the pool in 20 some years we did a pull out and I beat her, and I said Megan what’s wrong with this picture and she said the fat old guy beat me. I absolutely think that she can get a whole lot more off the wall and we focus on this season improving on the back half of her race, she dropped 6 seconds in her 200 breast this past year, so aerobically she is getting better.
One of the things, and I was talking to Richard Quick about this, down in Pasadena, last weekend, one of the things that just amazed me, when we were down at the Olympic preparation camp, we did some video taping in the flume with Megan, some under water video taping, Megan was exhaling through her nose, when she swims, the problem associated with that is that Megan has twice the lung capacity that Jamie has but, Jamie can expel her air twice as forcefully as Megan can. Megan likes to hold on to it, so the problem is that Megan goes into some oxygen debt while she is racing because she is not exhaling, so one of the things that we are incorporating into our program this year is that we are working with both the Yoga and respiratory therapist to work with her. Megan’s claim is well, nobody ever told me, well, sometimes some of the little details slip by us as coaches that we are not reinforcing that you need to go back to almost blowing bubbles when you are learning to swim to forcibly exhale that air, this is an elite world class athlete who really doesn’t know how to breath when she is swimming. Again breathing exercises.
(Response to Question) I like the Yoga idea for that, we played around with some tae kwon do and some karate and stuff last year, we were so uncoordinated, I mean it really wasn’t pretty, the aerobics instructor asked us to maybe set up our own special class.
(Response to Question) Megan handles it much better than Jaimie does. Megan in being away for Sydney made arrangements over the course of the summer with her teachers for this year to get her school work in advance and has completed her studies up through December right now. Jamie hasn’t finished what she was supposed to do last March.
(Response to Question) Jamie the day before her 200 back went a 2:16 200 fly which was a 2 second improvement on her best time I mean a good strong 200 fly, to me the difference is attitude and sometimes I go home and kick myself around a little bit, that my expectations and demands of two 16 year olds is probably greater than my expectations and demands of myself as a 41 year old, so the bottom line was that Jamie got in, and her semi-final swim and kind of thought she had it made and that is not something that you can do at Olympic trials.
(Response to Question) Initially when we enjoyed a better relationship with the local pools we were able to stay at the pool. Yes, over the course of the last couple years we’re going between two different pools and then the kids end up grouping up in about groups of 8 to stay over at somebody’s house, we have off from about 11 at night until about 4:00 in the morning, we run a 4-6 practice on Sunday morning, to complete we start at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. Yes we start off with a 6-8 practice and this is off the top of my head, I don’t remember exactly, so it totals 13 hours, and then the next practice is a 4 hour practice, we give them a 2 hour break so we go from like 10 – 2:00 then we give them a 3 hour break, so we get back in and we go I think it’s 5-7 or 5-8 and then we do a bedtime swim for like an hour 10 – 11 and then up again 4-6.
(Response to Question) That’s one of the big things that we’ve changed this past year is we found that last summer we pretty much we had plateaued and really weren’t able to recovery as fast as what would like. They have a sports drink that they drink during practice, it’s diluted half of what it’s normally supposed to be, it is glycogen replacement drink for training and then right after practice, because of our commute, they have a protein shake that they drink after practice. It’s powdered protein.
(Response to Question) Shoulberg’s claim was that it wasn’t necessarily bad, at Foxcatcher we didn’t do cool downs, Shoulberg figured that he got another 20-30 minutes of workout in with the lactate levels going through the roof after practice.
(Response to Question) They supplement the gas, it’s really supposed to be those kids that really can’t get to that given evening practice, so it’s supposed to be like overflow , we’ve had 18/19 kids in that 15 passenger van, so basically whoever is there get’s picked up and gets a ride is what it amounts to.
(Response to Question) Opposite stroke, the training stroke is if you are a breaststroker we want the same body posture so it would be butterfly that you would be doing pelvic tilt and focusing on your core and then the two linear strokes would be free and back would be training strokes would compliment each other, right the opposite stroke would be to mix it up again getting back to the, getting a feel for your core we like to do stuff where we do wave stroke and then going back linear and then wave and linear and wave and linear so opposite stroke would be either of the other two.
(Response to Question) What we tried to identify after Megan and Jamie both won seniors in ‘98 we started doing strokes specific training with them and really did not perform well over the course of that summer so we went back and identified that we’ll wait a second maybe it doesn’t make sense to take Megan’s breaststroke and make her swim endurance sets breaststroke, maybe we are sacrificing too much of the feel that she has for that stroke and her stroke and stroke mechanics, but to get that same body motion, what we did is we trained her in butterfly to compliment the breaststroke and still did the fast stuff, breaststroke.
We did the same thing with Jamie, using freestyle as her training base, so if we do aerobic training for Jamie we do it freestyle. Weak stroke would be something different, like for Megan her weakest stroke is backstroke and for Jamie her weakest stroke is breaststroke. Megan was a backstroker and a freestyler when she first started swimming. Breaststroke was something that came with time. She had trouble with butterfly up until about a year ago she went from a 59.0 to a 56.0 100 fly.
(Response to Question) The entire senior group which numbers about half of the team and that is generally maybe some of the more accomplished 12 year olds and the 13 and overs.
(Response to Question) A lot of hair pulling, one of the big things I think is that we have a tendency to focus on the individual athlete, I have a tendency to get personally involved in what they are doing, what they are doing in school how things are going on at home, I’m always at practice, except for this weekend, but my wife’s at practice when I’m not there, so it has been a family adventure, all four of my children swim on a regular consistent basis and I think that focus and dedication carried over onto the athlete , that it provided them with a sense that this is really important.
I got a phone call, boy about a week and a half ago, from one of our boys, who broke one of Tanner’s 11/12 records in our association, pretty accomplished athlete, he was on vacation with his family and he wanted to run away to get back to practice and unfortunately we had to discourage that kind of illegal behavior, but the bottom line is that they realize and appreciate, they have developed a strong sense of commitment.
We have about a 98% attendance rate and the kids enforce that I don’t, if somebody is missing from practice the kids will pick up the phone and say hey, what are you doing. They have this real sense of social responsibility that this is important not just for you but for everybody else in the group. They do all sorts of social activities together or after practice, they rely and count on each other and it has really developed to the point that it makes my job really, really easy now. Yes, we had some senior activities that we would pursue on Sundays where we would get the kids together, but I think more than anything it’s the attitude that they themselves have developed in practice and we kind of fostered it and provided them with that opportunity.
The other thing that we really pride ourselves on is that we never miss a practice, Shoulberg had this thing, that we will swim in the mud and we will get faster, we will find a place to swim, if one of our pools was closed, that was the whole idea behind the gym and these guys go in there on their own with a workout and bang it out, they don’t miss practice for any reason.
(Response to Question) We have been able to accommodate those individuals, that is not the program or the standard, but we’ll sit down and all we require is that we have kids that are swimming high school right now, they can only come in so often, we’ll sit down and we will workout a schedule with them and then we hold them to that schedule, so we still have, you just can’t drop into the program, you have to be on a schedule and we will hold them to that schedule and I think that’s how we maintain that commitment continuity .
(Response to Question) The kids have been handling those questions and concerns amongst themselves and that has created I think some pretty interesting table conversations with some our families, where the kids are willing to step forward and identify, this is something that I want to do, I see that I have a real opportunity here and I don’t want to play in the marching band unfortunately anymore, my daughter made that choice last year much to my chagrin, she made a good case, so I really couldn’t argue with her, she had to sacrifice out of both and really wasn’t being terribly successful at either.
(Response to Question) Do I have developmental kids? Yes, we have, our program starts with, we call it sharks now, they run during that seasonal period for about six weeks, three nights a week for about a half an hour and then some of those kids move up into the next level, which is 45 minutes and there is about a 15 minute increment up to an hour and then we start increasing the number of practices that you would come in a week.
(Response to Question) Who do you look for next? We had a girl, we had three athletes at juniors west in the final at the 200 fly, we have a 14 year old girl named Megan Rains, who went a 5.04 400 IM this year. She is a 57 low 100 backstroker short course yards, another Megan.
(Response to Question) Megan keeps a log book and has been keeping a log book since she was 10 years old, so Megan was really pretty accurate in her claims that she had been doing doubles and had her yardage way up there, she is down now to about 4000 of practice as we speak. During trials she was upwards of 7500 meters per practice. Still doubles. Megan’s goal was the Olympics and Megan knows, I mean after going 50,000 yards on a Saturday and turning around and setting the American record on a Wednesday, Megan knows that if she decides she is going to get up on the blocks and swim fast she is going to swim fast.
The other very interesting thing about our kids is they don’t make excuses, and you can see that with Jamie. A lot of people wanted to let Jamie off the hook that she was swimming too many yards, she was over trained, bla, bla, bla. Jamie won’t buy that, Megan won’t buy that either, she is not going to make excuses and she is not going take excuses, she accepts responsibility for what she does and she gets up there and she gets the job, weak, tired, sore isn’t an excuse to not get up and perform, and getting up at a meet, you don’t save it all for Olympic trials or save it all for U.S. Open.
Megan will get up in a regional competition, and swim as fast and as hard as she can, and Jamie does the same thing and that provides me with the information I need to be able to go back and assess what we have been doing in the pool, if they get up on the block and they decide well, this isn’t an important competition so I don’t have to swim fast, that doesn’t tell me anything about the preparation that we’ve made for that meet.
(Response to Question) It depends on the athlete. Before Jamie could get back to the pool after trials, we had to sit down and I had to hear it from Jamie, what was going through her mind, that took about three days, that was the extent of Jamie’s break, prior to that she and Megan both had a week off, after the U.S. open and they handled it for about the first 3 days and then the telephone starts ringing about, well does that mean we can’t go over to the gym “Well can we go over to Bally’s …”and just do, so it’s really pretty funny that most of my job is kind of raining these guys back as opposed to motivating them to get into the pool.
(Response to Question) The northwest has really been coming along, Megan has had competition from a girl Tara Kirk who swims at MAC. A lot of the clubs are about our size. I know pool time has become a very serious issue, especially with us in the South Sound area, two pools in Tacoma closed this past summer, most of the high school pools now are unavailable to club use, I’ve had numerous conversations with coaches in the area about what we can do to curb that trend, The U was talking about because of their facility canceling their program, fortunately they have brought it back we certainly don’t enjoy the support and consequently the success that the Australians do, where we have a tavern on every corner they have a pool.
(Response to Question) That is what we talk about and this again was a lesson that I learned from my daughter when she was 14. My wife and I were standing there talking to my daughter and I was telling my daughter that you were really flat in the middle of that race, and my wife criticized my comments that well I need to be supportive and bla, bla, bla, and my daughter turned to my wife and said mom, he’s right. They really, they want to hear it, and so one of the things, you know, I got back from Pasadena and I was talking to Jamie on the pool deck and I said gosh Jamie, you know the Olympic team they got a whole bunch of really nice stuff, and the other kids on the team were like, Rick you’re so mean, no it’s not mean. Jamie needs to be able to talk about that and deal with it and she does, and that let’s me know that she is over that, that she has dealt with it, she has faced it, she’s identified that she swam flat, she didn’t get up on it, she didn’t swim her race and she is willing to accept that responsibility and move on. In talking with Jamie and talking with reporters later, the really good news with both Megan and Jamie, is Jamie’s got multiple events coming up here in four years, she is not limited to the 100 or the 200 backstroke by any stretch of the imagination, I really think that middle distance free and fly are going to be really strong for Jamie, IM’s for Megan, 200 and 400 IM, this is the beginning for a 16 year old kid and not the end.
(Response to Question) When I first started coaching, I was really concerned that I didn’t have the technical tools that I would need to be an effective and efficient coach and I really wanted to rely heavily on science, I was a chemistry minor in college and I fully know and appreciate scientific method and how safe and objective that is. Over the years I’ve come to find that I deal better intuitively working with athletes. I think the number one plus that makes a good coach is your ability to work with kids. I’m just a big kid, make the same mistakes they do and willing to make those same mistakes, it’s the personal relationships. Megan swims I think the best breaststroke that I’ve ever seen, but I think it’s Megan’s breaststroke, I don’t think that other athletes will be as successful, although I see other athletes emulating Megan’s stroke. Megan thinks that is funny because they are swimming Megan’s stroke and Megan’s race and that kind of makes it difficult to beat Megan, if you are doing that and we talk about that all the time.
So Megan’s stroke is good for Megan, I don’t think that it’s the same stroke that is going to fit a different body type, her stroke is really is coming to light now, but she really gets a lot out of her upper body, I mean she can kick well, but really her strength in the stroke is her upper body and her up sweeps generates tremendous forward motion and if you watch Megan in slow motion, Megan never moves backwards on breaststroke, her head is always down and forward and she is leading into the stroke and she is always moving forward, there is never a pause or a hesitation at all.
But that is an important point, I was really was invested in science when I first started coaching and I really am finding that that comes along later. I walked on deck at Foxcatcher, Dick Shoulberg didn’t know me from Adam, he handed me a video camera and sent me over with Berkoff and Worton and I’m standing there going gosh what am I supposed to do with this. Oh just do stroke analysis, well these are world record holders and Olympic gold medalist, they can’t be doing anything wrong. Well sure enough these guys were and there were things that I could see, so I don’t think that that plays that significant of a role as your ability to relate with your athletes, really they are looking for, they are not coming to our program looking to swim fast, really a lot of those kids are coming to the program looking for attention and you are going to spend more time with them than with your family or anything else, you’re going to spend more time with them then their families have an opportunity to, so it really is about being able to relate and joke with them and chide them into moving. Swimming is the mechanism and the tool for that, not the outcome.
Our kids get in the pool, we don’t get in the pool to swim fast, we don’t sit down with Megan and say O.K. your going to be just awesome, we get into train, and so it’s more the journey then it is the end result. Megan swims fast because of the training that she does and she will be the first one to tell you that, she works harder than anybody else, one of the e-mails that I got the other day was that she went over to practice and there is only 5 kids on the Olympic team there and she was one of them. She and Rowdy Gaines got in the pool with her down in Pasadena and lasted 15 minutes and he told her she was too fast and her workout was too hard. Ed Moses lasted about 8 minutes. She enjoys that and she enjoys the recognition that it gets her and she enjoys the feeling. She enjoys working hard, that is fun for her and that was one of the other preconceptions.
People will ask Megan do you think that you have sacrificed something in being this elite world class athlete, and this was a press conference we had just before trials. Megan’s response to that, no, I think everybody who doesn’t do this is missing something, and this is a kid that has been to Australia, been to Paris, been to Sweden, been to Greece. I think that maybe she’s got a point and I had some pre-conceived notions that this is hard work and as adults we are all taught and trained that boy you go out and you work hard Monday through Friday, 9-5 and then you can go out and fun on the weekends, these guys aren’t doing that, these guys are having fun every single day. When we went to Olympic trials, one of the only requests that both Megan and Jamie had was that the Hotel have a pool and I’m like what, what do you mean. Oh we would like to go into the pool, they like being in the water. This doesn’t work for them, so we need to really be cautious in applying our standards as adults to what these kids are doing, this is fun for them and they enjoy it and in no way shape or form do they think that they are sacrificing anything, if anything they are gaining. Incredible gains.