Coach Frank Busch is ASCA Certified Level 5. NCAA Division I. In just four years at Arizona, Head Coach Frank Busch has taken Arizona swimming to a new level of excellence. Coach Busch had been named NCAA Coach of the Year, as well as being honored as Pacific-IO Conference Men’s Coach of the Year. His squad garnered two Individual NCAA titles, seven All-American honors and broke seven school records. In addition to his duties as head coach, Busch works closely with the distance and 400 IM swimmers. Coach Busch truly believes ill the concept of the “student-athlete” and stresses work in the classroom as well as in the pool.
Can I just ask everyone to stand up for just a minute and put whatever your writing down. Make sure your hands are free. When I count to three I want everyone to clap. 1-2·3 Clap. You’ve just tripled my fee because I’ve just received a standing ovation. Make sure that John Leonard knows about this.
My high school coach is in the audience today, and he also was my freshman English teacher at St. Xavier’s high school in Cincinnati. It was only because of his effort that I got into that school. Believe me, because there’s no way I passed the entrance exam to get in there. Really! This is the first time I’ve ever said that publicly. But anyway, Bill Barrons is here. He put up with me in class, coached me in high school, and he put up with me. Then he went to the Marlins. I look at him, and sometimes I can’t believe he is down there listening to me. I wasn’t exactly a model student.
You know, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and I feel that my life has been that way. I’ve been really blessed in things that have happened to me, and I want to thank Jimmy (introduction) for those nice words. It’s amazing what people will say when they have to. I’m here because I want to share my thoughts about swimming with you, and hear some of your thoughts. Just because I’m speaking up here in a coat and tie, I’m no different than any one of you. We’re all trying to do the same thing, we’re all trying to get the kids we’re working with no matter if their eight and under, college age kids, or post college to go faster. I’m going to share anything I can with you about what we do. My thoughts and ideas on how we do it, and I really would like to hear some of yours to. If we have time we’ll get into that, and I just want to make sure you understand that.
I’m real lucky to have some great people that I’ve’ worked with, and that makes a big difference in the programs that I’ve been associated with. The guys that I work with now, Rick DeMont, and Mauruse Maurice P. was fifth place in 1988 in the 1500 and the 400. He swam at Arizona three years under me, and I didn’t recruit him. He was there when I got there. Like I said, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Another swimmer, Chrissy Leighton, I would like to think I had an impact on them, and on how they swam. But I also know they had a lot of talent. And I know it’s easy to coach talent. My Grandmother once said to me, it’s an old saying, that “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear,” and that’s the truth. You all have been in situations where you’d like to make Billy as fast as Steve over there. But Billy has concrete for hands, and Steve has silk for hands. And it’s usually Billy that has the heart of a lion, and Steve makes every other practice and still kicks Bill’s butt. That’s the way life is, and there’s not a whole lot we can do about it. I love to talk about swimming in any fashion, any time, and anywhere. Because I can honestly say that swimming has become a passion to me. We’ll hit on this a little bit later.
As a staff we always talk about how we can get better. I always ask about this at our meetings, “how can we get better” and “what can we do to get better.” If you think about it, not just in your program, but there’s a lot of people swimming up and down at pools all over the world. You think about that while you’re sitting at practice at 6:30 in the morning, and 3:00 in the afternoon while your kids are swim ming up and down your pool. And one day it just dawned on me that there’s a lot of people doing this all over the place. I guess we have over 200,000 registered USS kids, and their coaches are standing on the decks, and they’re swimming up and down their pools everywhere in every country. But what can we do to be better? What’s going to make our kids right in front under our noses every single day better? So we talk about that a lot, and I think that’s real important. And you need to do that too. Always look back and think “what can we be doing that’s going to make these kids better?” I really believe that is one of the things that makes us better. The growth steps in our life. And I’m not here to preach to you about taking growth steps, because it took me about 38 years before I started to make some. I know that if you’re happy with you, and you’re a good man or good woman, then you’ll consider yourself a good mentor, and you’ll be a good coach because of that. I can’t underline that enough. You’ve got to feel good about you, and I think that it takes growth steps to feel good about yourself. It’s important, and I just wanted to say that.
I think the toughest battle we face in swimming today, and this is what I really believe in my heart, is that we have the cart in front of the horse when it comes to process and goals. Tim Welsh put it so plainly to me last night at dinner. It’s the goose and the golden egg. We are all busy looking at the golden egg that we forget about the goose. What’s so great about having one of your swimmers touch the wall in their best time, is not the time on the wall, but it’s the time you spent getting them to that point. And that’s what makes it that much more rewarding. To me, that’s where we’re missing the boat, just in general. It’s just the same with raising our kids. When we get hungry, we go to McDonald’s NOW. We want an answer, NOW. We have a problem to solve, we go to the computer to get our answer, NOW. And we’re missing the process. And I feel that is the biggest obstacle that we face in life, and certainly in swimming. I’m not smart enough to see it in life, but I know in swimming it is.
Let me tell you a little bit about our philosophy. This is the philosophy at Arizona, and I don’t want to put the cart in front of the horse because I’ve got something important that’s going to follow after this. But our philosophy is: (1) Keep it simple. Now remember I’m talking about college age kids. So if I’m telling college age kids to keep it simple, those of you who are coaching real young swimmers, keep it simpler. (2) Keep it consistent. Be consistent with what you do. Life is daily, it’s every day. It’s Monday through Saturday, and all those practices. It’s daily, so it’s got to be consistent. And the last thing (3) Individualize. Individualize as much as you can because we’re dealing with a whole group of personalities right in front of us. And none of them came from the same background. Half of them come from split families these days. Who knows what signals they’re getting, and what signals they’ve already got. And the signals that we’re sending them, they don’t even know how to process those. I’m not so sure that my signals can even be processed half of the time. So those are our three bases for our program. Simplicity, Consistency, Individualizing. Well I’ll tell you that I just think simple minds work better, because what’s going on out there right now is way over my head, and the closer I can stay to the ground the better I feel. And I know sometimes I’ll stand up in front of the team and talk about this stuff, and they just (whistle) “here it comes again, the same old thing.” Well if it lands on one kids head you’re a tremendous success that day. Believe that. I used to take it all personally when they all wouldn’t get it. I’d go home at night and think, “I was terrible today.” It was terrible, nobody understood, they don’t care, I’m losing it. It couldn’t be further from the truth. If you talk to twenty people, and one person gets it you’re successful. That’s the way I look at it. Maybe I shoot to low, but at least when I go home at night I can feel good about myself.
All right, let’s talk about setting up a program. Setting up your program. I’ II tell you about ours in a minute, but these are important things for setting up your program. You’ve got to do what works for you. I can tell you all sorts of stuff that we do at Arizona, but if you don’t have the same amount of pool time, the same resources, the same athletes, and all that other stuff, I’m wasting my time and your wasting yours. So, do what works for you. Don’t waste energy on things you can’t do. Don’t wish you had this equipment when you don’t have it. Figure out something else you can use just for you. I’m not here to preach to you, I’m just kind of telling you stuff that maybe can make it better for you. Because you all suffer the same frustrations that we suffer every day. Coaches suffer them every day, because we’re supposed to suffer them because we’re coaches. But you don’t have control over a lot of stuff. Like your pool time, how much money your club has, and all that other stuff. So, don’t worry about that, but just what works for you. What you’ve got there, is what you’ve got to take care of.
Okay, I’m going to tell you a little bit about Chad Carvin. And realize that Chad Carvin is Chad Carvin. He’s unique. He’s different from the other guys and girls that I have had the fortune of coach ing. I don’t want you to be frustrated by anything either. Like I said, it’s sometimes better to be lucky than good. By now I’ve been lucky. Chad Carvin’s the hardest worker I’ve ever coached. I’ve coached a Jot of swimmers, but he’s a hard working guy. He’s the most competitive guy I’ve ever coached. And not just in swimming. Quick story. Chad comes on his recruiting trip with a couple other athletes. I’ve got a Ping-Pong table in my house, the team’s at my house, we’re having pizza. Perfectly within NCAA rules. Somehow Chad gets hold of a paddle at one end of the table, and one of the guys on the team at the other end, and he beats him. In a matter of two and a half hours he has beaten every single person that would even think about challenging him, including whipping the snot out of the other recruits I’ve got there. So, I thought, that’s nice, he’s dominating the table, the other recruits are walking around. Well anyway, he’s the only guy that signed from that weekend. He drove away the other recruits, and I never let him forget that. I tell him he owes me big, but that’s what this guy is like. He’s one of those guys that just has to win. For better or worse sometimes it gets ugly. But that’s just the way he is. It’s easy to coach some body that’s motivated. We all know that, and he’s very motivated.
Let me tell you about our Dryland program. We don’t do any stretching as a team. If they want to stretch they come and stretch before, and it’s not necessary because of time. I’m scared about stretching. Because I think that back in the late seventies and early eighties we had this idea that if we could put our body into a pretzel shape we’d be better. I think we got too much out of watching Nadia Comaniche (sp.), and from other gymnasts who do some incredible things. And the East Germans were doing all this stuff, and I think we hurt a lot of young swimmers. Pulling their arms behind their back, and other those other stretches. So we just don’t do any stretching. I figure that by the time I get them I encourage certain things that add to their flexibility, but as a group we don’t do much stretching. That’s just because a fear that woke me up in a night sweat one night, and it somehow made an impression on me. We do a lot of sit-ups every day before we get in the water. I just believe that the body is the center, and the stronger the center the better athlete. So we do a lot of them. We do a lot of pull-ups, and we do running to. Our distance people do not touch weights. They don’t do any type of weights outside of pull ups. Occasionally we do push-ups, but for the most part not. We do our pull-ups every day, and do different varieties of them. Some days we do quite a lot of them, and some days we go light. I just believe that if you can handle your body on a pull up bar out of the water, you should be able to handle your body real well with the support of the water. So, that’s what our Dryland consists of. Running is easy for about a month in the fall, and a month or so in the spring. There’s something about running that helps do a lot of good things. I know it helps keep your weight under control, and for an athlete I think that is important. However, strength is always a positive. How could strength not be a positive. Our other groups lift.
]’ II get back to how we get our distance people stronger, or what I think makes them stronger. I’ll tell you about our water program. Our water program consists of ten work-outs. Two work-outs on Monday, two work-outs on Tuesday, an afternoon work-out on Wednesday, two work-outs on Thursday, two work-outs on Friday, and a morning workout on Saturday. So, that’s our work-out schedule. And as some of the college coaches know in here, we’re limited by the twenty hour rule. So we ask some of our kids to volunteer their afternoon work from 2:10-2:30 which is all Dryland stuff before we get in the water. Our kids in the morning, if they have an 8:00 class, they come in a little before 6:00. If they don’t, they come in at 6:30 and go for an hour and forty-five minutes. In the afternoons we start at 2:10, get out at 4:30, and be actually in the water for two hours. The first 20 minutes we do our sit-ups, pull-ups, and other stuff. College kids don’t have a lot of time. I try to have them get in, do what we need to do, and then get out. I know what it’s like to sit out there and hear someone talk about what they’ re doing and everything else. But if we’re going to share some ideas, I’m going to tell you some work-out types of stuff that Chad’s doing. I’m going to get through this fairly fast without leaving anything out because I think you need to hear some of this, and if you’re not coaching college age swimmers that doesn’t matter. You’ve got to modify these different things, and maybe some of this isn’t going to be relative to because you only have five, six, or seven work-outs a week. That’s O.K., you’ve got your program, and you’re all smart people, and you’ll figure out what works best for you.
Monday morning. We’ve just had a day and a half off from swimming, and our last practice was Saturday morning. So Monday morning it’s like get ting back into the routine. It’s an aerobic type work out, and remember we’re talking about somebody that is working towards swimming the 1500 fast. So we do anywhere from 7500-8500 yards in the morning. And that’s pretty much so for all mornings. I’ll get more specific as we go on down the line. Practice is an hour and forty-five minutes. So obviously there’s not a lot of downtime. But when you have somebody that can swim fast like Chad, it’s easy for him to swim 1:05 per 100’s, and he looks at you like this is boring. To me I’d be lucky if! could break 1:10 for a 100 yard Freestyle from a dive, shaved, and with a skin suit on. But he just floats this, so anyway, that’s how you can get that kind of work done. And with a twenty hour limit. It’s an aerobic based work-out with not anything real specific. We do sets, but I’m not looking to hammer out a big tough set. We do some pulling, kicking, some swimming is long, say a 3,000 or something else straight on a Monday morning. Or 2,000 straight going easy/fast 100’s. We basically are getting away from the weekend.
Monday afternoon. We’re back in the routine a little bit, and what better way than to test somebody. Right coach? We always had a vocabulary test every damned Monday. Every Monday a vocabulary test, I’ll never forgive him for that. So, I took a page out of his book, I test them every Monday afternoon. So, we do a test set, just to see. It’s a good time to do it. Where else during the week can you do it. If you do it at the end of the week, and if they’re not tired, you haven’t done a good job. So, it’s a good time to run a test. And they want to know that, and these kids want to see what they’re doing. So that’s why we throw something at them. What’s a test set? Well, I don’t know, It could be anything, it could be fun stuff like 9 x 300, descend 1-3 on a reasonable send-off. For Chad it would be @4:00, something that gives him reasonable rest. He’ll push the first one off in 3:00 minutes, and then step down. And I’ve done stuff, that if I didn’t think it was real fast, I’d have him swim easy for a while, and then have him try to beat his best average time. I like to do this kind of stuff, because then you know if you’ve got it all out of him or not. So, occasionally it’s good to do that kind of stuff. I’m sure you have your own surprises. From the test set we go something easy, and then finish off the rest of the work-out with some Threshold swimming. This is what we do on Monday afternoon. We end up doing 8,000-8500 yards, and do this in a couple of hours. Because, obviously when you run a test set you need more resting time.
Tuesday morning. I have a philosophy on kicking and pulling. I’ll elaborate on this a little bit. One, I think kicking should be done hard. I honestly think that if you’re going to separate the body, if you are going to put the emphasize on just the legs, I think you should kick hard. Unless you’re working on instruction. So, we kick hard. As a team, I try and be sure that when we’re kicking hard we’re kicking everything on a 1:30 send-off for yards. That’s with a kickboard. My Backstrokers do kick without a kickboard. I just feel that if you are going to separate the legs then it should be done hard. I don’t the only time outside of the sprinters, which we do different things with them. During the taper you begin to start backing off, and not just during the taper, but before you get to the taper because your trying to get them to kick a little bit faster, and just so they can feel better about themselves, and how things are going on. But I think in general, kicking should be done hard, and on a pretty tight send-off. I don’t think you get anything out of the set if you don’t. This is a personal thing.
Pulling. We do a lot of pulling with our distance people because they do not lift. And this is what I was telling you about how their strength factor comes into play. I do not recommend this for young kids. I don’t even recommend it for a lot of high school kids. But we pull with a fully inflated tube, pull buoy, and paddles. It’s not uncommon for Chad to pull 4,000 yards like that. Some of the things he’s done pulling just boggle my mind. I have this favorite set of pulling, particularly long course, where we go 10 x 50’s @ 40 seconds, 10 x 100 @ 1: 15, and 10 x 150 on 1:40. And he can make those with that equipment on. And he’ll hold sub 1:35 on the 150′ s. And this is long course meters. This guy can pull. Of course, 1 taught him everything he knows. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky. So, anyway we do a lot of pulling with our distance people. You can start off pulling with your kids by starting off without paddles, and get them used to the pull buoy, and get them used to just using their arms. And if you work on that and if you feel like you can start doing some paddle work with them, O.K. go ahead and do it, but don’t hurt them. Young kids pulling with a pull buoy is tough, young kids pulling with a pull buoy and a pair of old sneakers makes it just a little tougher. You don’t need a tube, just a pair of old sneakers are O.K. Just something else to provide a little more resistance in the water. Without hurting them. I believe that for the level that I am coaching it’s really important to kick about 1,200. A typical set for me would be 10 x 100’s first one on 1:45 and next nine on 1:30. Boy, that’s real creative, isn’t it?
Also on Tuesday mornings we’ll do some breath control work. I’ II give you another idea on kicking that works pretty good. If you want to teach your kids to kick better, and know how to shift in a race, which I think is really important, do stuff like 150’s where they have to six-beat kick the middle 50, and you time them foot to foot. This is good because it gets their heart going, and you give them a tight send-off with only maybe I 0-15 seconds rest. So they can’t really go slow the first and the third 50, but by golly they’re doing a six-beat kick, or you’re not letting them go home. Just kidding. You’d probably get sued for that. This is just another way to work on their kick.
Tuesday afternoon. Chad swims a pretty good IM, but it’s one of the ugliest !M’s you’ll ever see. I mean, people see his butterfly and ask “what is that?” I know that the first time I saw it, I almost went to my car to get my gun and shoot it to put it out of its misery. But I’ll tell you, that guy can go fast swimming that side-breath, cock-eyed butterfly. So, we swim a little bit of IM on Tuesday afternoons, and it’s usually a long IM set. In the after noon we never pull with the tube. We always just use paddles and buoys. Because the amount of pulling we do in the morning, we sure as heck don’t need to come back in the afternoon and do more. When we do that I like to have them do just swim sets where you let them go kind of fast, it makes them feel good. They put those paddles on and the get their legs floated with a buoy like that and all of a sudden, whoosh. It’s a good thing I think, and everything is then upbeat. So we do that. I’ II bet that almost every one of our practices, excluding Friday’s (which I’ II get to in a minute), and Saturdays we go about 8,000 yards. Maybe a little more, and maybe a little less.
I don’t think more is better. I just want to make that statement. I don’t think more is better. There is a time and place to do everything. But, just to be doing more of it isn’t going to make you necessarily better.
Wednesday. No morning practice. You know how you’ve kind of gone through practices with some of your kids, and they miss a practice, and they kind of just look ugly? I purposely have the kids know that when they come in on Wednesday they have to swim fast. Wednesday afternoon you swim at race pace or faster. That’s what our goal is. And this is for the whole team. Race pace or faster. So, it’s not uncommon for Chad to 30 x I 00′ s @ I :30. And if he is doing it meters, he’s going to try to hold everything @1:01, and if it’s yards our goal was this winter to hold everything @ 53 seconds. And, by golly it worked in the end. I’m not saying that’s the reason he swam fast, but it made me look good. So, this is what we do on Wednesdays. We don’t get 8,000 yards or meters in on Wednesdays. We probably get a 1,000 less than that, or about 7,000. Because when you start going on little bit longer intervals you obviously can’t do as much. And I’m not telling you to rush through practice either. That’s not what I’m saying either. When you have a time limit. you need to get something done, some times you’re moving fast.
Thursdays are the same as Tuesdays. They’re not the same things, but the same principles.
On Friday mornings, we try and swim fast on Friday mornings. Now, I didn’t say race pace or faster, we just try and swim fast. I cut down the rest quite a bit. What do we do? If we’re swimming yards we do 4 x 50’s @ 40 seconds, minute rest after each 4, and maybe do 5 rounds of that so that’s about a 1000 yards in length of fast swimming. Or we’ll do 20 x 75’s, 3 fast/I easy@ I :00. Something like that. Try to swim fast. Just those kinds of things, so the heart rates aren’t coming down to far, and they’re just moaning. Friday mornings can be real ugly, and they hurt. But that’s O.K., you get points for that. Friday morning we do 7,000, or a little more or less depending on the time of the year. But this is what our emphasize is on. We do pulling every morning, it’s just Tuesdays and Thursdays we a little bit more. Maybe on Monday and Friday we only get 3,000 in pulling, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays we always get in at least 4,000. Now remember, I’m talking distance Freestyle, this is not what the rest of the team is doing.
Friday afternoon is the shortest practice of the week. Because come Friday I think their brains are fried. Friday afternoon my brain is fried, and so our practice is only 90 minutes in length. But I ask them to do a challenge set. And the whole team does the
challenge set (even the sprinters). And a typical set with Chad, which is something that I like a Jot, I don’t know if he likes it, will be 10 x 200’s yards @ 2:15 best average. And the best Chad has ever done on that, is averaged at l:49’s. Pushing, 10 x 200’s@ 2:15. I thought that was pretty good work. Because I was having a helluva time thinking that if I had to run up and down the deck on a I:49 pace, I’d be tired. I’ll be glad to tell you some more sets afterwards.
Saturday morning. We always go over 10,000 yards or meters. Always. It’s the longest practice; 2 and 1/2 hours, we go from 8:00 to 10:30. We go, there’s no time to cough. Because I think that they are going to have a day and a half to recover from that, and for a distance person they really need to get in a practice once a week that just crosses their eyes. And so I do my best to cross Chad’s eyes.
I just want to make a couple of other comments. I want to talk about race strategy. Somewhere along the line I think we got a little bit off-track with race strategy. It is of huge importance. And Chad doesn’t understand that yet. When Chad broke the American record in the 500 and the 1650 at the NCAA Championships he swam his 500 out in 2:04 at the 250, and was back in 2:06 for his 4:11. In his I 650, he was out in 4:26, that’s I 5 seconds slower than what his 500 was. So he went 4:26, 4:24, and I think came back in another 4:24. My goal with Chad was to teach him that that is the way you swim. Used to be we called it negative split, well it is negative split, but I broke it down even just a little bit more. We train like that. And this is the only time I go ballistic on deck is when we can’t seem to get that right. For a distance person I think that this is so important. And this is important for young kids to understand, that there is race strategy. Because Chad did not swim either one of his best races I think at this summer’s Nationals. In his 400 he was out way too fast, and he also went out too fast in his 1500. It’s not the way we train. So with a young kid, I can just imagine what it’s like. “Coach, let me at him, let me at him,” and you say, “now look, you just have to go out easy.” And somebody else in the other lane goes out fast, and your kid is out there chasing him. Comes out and then says “I thought I had him coach.” Of course a third of the way through the 500, this I 2 year olds first long race, by the time he gets to the 150 or 175 mark, it’s just as far back as it is that way. He’s out in the middle, and he can’t do anything. He’s hung out to dry. So I think that it’s real important to teach race strategy. That’s why we do a lot of it in practice.
I also teach some tempo with Chad. For those of you who haven’t heard much about tempo, I just do it with a single arm cycle, and I do it for five strokes. So, as soon as his right hand touches the water, that’s zero, and then the next one is I, 2, 3, 4, and then when he comes back around and touches it on number 5, I stop the watch and see how much time it took him. And I do this all through his races. And I know when he’s swimming at the right tempo. How do you figure out the right tempo? You’ve got to know your kid. You’ve got to spend some time just wheeling and dealing with this stuff when he’s doing his 100’s on the 1:30. You need to get a feel for it. You can do it with the younger guy. You can probably have an age grouper think it. That’d be wild wouldn’t it? A ten year old going “that’s my tempo (snapping his fingers).” We do it because I think it’s real important.
I just want to say a couple things here before I open up for questions or comments. And I’d sure like to hear some of your ideas. I told you before where I think we’re missing the boat. That our process and our goal is kind of out of whack. And you know who can change that? We can! We can change that. Every single one of you can change that. I hope you’re happy going to work every day. That’s real important. And that doesn’t mean every single day things are going to be peachy. They’re not. Not at Arizona, they’re not in Washington, DC, and they’re not wherever you’re coaching. But you’ve got to have a passion for what you’re doing. And I was coaching a long time a long time without a passion. I was coaching a long time just because I was a coach. And I’m very grateful that for some reason something has come over me, and I’ve developed a real passion for this sport. And I can’t tell you how important that is. And that passion will be filtered down into every person that you touch in your life, and every single athlete that you coach. You know, I’d like to know, this is kind of off the record for the second. How many Division I, II, and III swimmers are registered USS? I bet that there are more that aren’t registered than are registered. And you know what that means? That means that we’re not doing a damned thing for those kids. There’s no reason for them to be registered USS. Because we have a gaping hole there. Just as Tim pointed out this morning if you happened to listen to the statistics he gave us. We’re missing people. We’re miss ing a whole lot of people. In all different levels of our sport. Because we’re looking at the gosh darn golden egg and not the goose! Who cares how many medals we win, that will all take place if we have a passion for what we’re doing. It will all fall into place. There’s no question about it. You won’t have to tell your kids about being better, they’ll be better because you’ve instilled fire in them, and in a sport that they can love because you love it! Because it gives something to you! It turns the keys that starts your motor. And that’s what we’re miss ing in our sport. All the medals and all the records will fall into place if we’re on fire. And that’s what we’ve got to get, that’s what we’ve got to have. And I’m not here to stand on a soapbox and say that U.S. Swimming isn’t, or anyone else isn’t doing they’re job. Because we all are to blame for that. But by golly, if our pyramid is narrow at the bottom by numbers, and granted swimming is a niche sport, the only way we’re going to get people out in the stands to watch swimming is to either go with a WWF format, or all the guys swim without a suit. I mean, is that a fact or not? And I think that this is a pretty sad state of our society to say that, but that’s the only thing that is going to get people interested. It’s the parents and other people that help make this sport great, even if it is a niche sport. And with them, and our passion, American swimmers will again be the best in the world.
Thank you very much. If you have any questions or ideas you’d like to share, please speak up so that we all can share them.
Q: When you described your weekly cycle, how does this vary in early, mid, and late season?
A: It varies only in that we just don’t start out quite as strenuously. We just build into it, and we don’t start diving sprinters until six weeks into the sea son. We need to get an aerobic base first. Just look at this year, most of the kids on my team ail swam at Senior Nationals, and it’s not like they’re going to be out of shape when we get back. They’ve already started running, and that kind of stuff. And how does it work at the end of the season? Well it changes quite a bit. I didn’t mention how we taper. I just let my eyes taper kids. I really believe that this is the best way to taper kids. Just look, and if they’re hips are this deep you better get off of them. Your eyes are your best coach. Because you see them every day, and you know how they swim.
Q: Did you rest Chad differently this year from last year?
A: Yes, but mostly because of experience. The first year we tapered him he did 4: I 8, shaved in December, and that same NCAA’s he did 4:16, and then dropped to 4: n. I’m not a big fan of shaving people all over the place, don’t misunderstand me, but the NCAA cuts are so fast that I want to get them and get them out of the way. We have two goals in our program: Get to the meet, and swim well while we’re there. If you don’t get to the meet you can’t swim well while you’re there.
Q: Do you do anything special for strengthening the back, and do you have any swimmers who have back problems?
A: Just a couple who can’t do pike-ups and things because it hurts their lower back. Since we have pull-up bars around the deck, we do a lot of hanging leg lifts, and we just do a lot of basics. Half sit-ups, pike-ups, heel touches to keep the stress off the lower back.
Q: What is Chad’s yardage like ten days out of a meet?
A: Two weeks out from a meet (we start a taper a little before that) he’s doing meet warm-up, and I’m doing something on the watch with him. Let me tell you something, I rest Chad Carvin. I’m a big fan of rest, but I’m also a big fan of hard work. And they go hand in hand. The harder you work the longer you can rest. I believe in that, I really do. It took me a long time to believe in that. But after I messed up enough kids it finally came home to me. It’s real important to rest your kids, but for the younger kids not as much. Give those guys a Snickers Bar, and they’re ready to go again. A good night’s sleep and a Snickers Bar and they’re tapered.
Q: Does Chad pull during the taper?
A: Yes, he’ll pull without a tube two to three weeks out from a meet. And remember, two weeks out he’s pulling as much as he wants to pull. You know something, for older kids I believe that you teach them to be their own coach, the better they’ll be. Teach them to be their own coach, and you can start this with high school kids. Once they can start thinking on their own two feet, they start to make progress instead of depending on you all the time.
Q: What do you do during the summer?
A: We go two hours in the morning instead of an hour and forty-five minutes. What do you gain when you keep a body in the water, out side of wrinkled skin, and you might be boring them to tears.
Q: Where do you position your kick sets?
A: Right after warm-up.
Q: What is Chad’s tempo in a race?
A: His tempo for a mile is usually 6.9, and for the 500 maybe a tenth faster. Last summer, to just give you an idea, his tempo in the 400 was around 6.3. I bet his body in the middle of the race was asking why they were doing four more laps. That’s exactly what his body said, because that was his 200 tempo.