The Lake Erie Silver Dolphin Swimming Program by Jerry Holtrey (1998)


Published


What I’d like to do is go through our complete program and then maybe emphasis what we’re trying to do with our high school program. Because even with the age group program, Rick Stacy gave a talk on our age group program that we have. And, right now I feel like when we leave this clinic, most people are going to know our complete organization and what we’re trying to accomplish.

 

The Lake Erie Silver Dolphins is a coach orientated team. I think I said that yesterday, but I wanted to repeat it again. It simply means, every single decision that is made, concerning our team, is through the coaches particularly the head coach. It’s worked very well, we have no problems with parents. And, it seems to work well and keeping the boys and girls on our team. We have no problems keeping the kids on our team. And, if we get a parent that does not quite understand what we’re trying to do, then we’ll take them to the side and it explain it to them.

 

We also do a couple other things. When we have our try outs, and actually we’re having try outs tomorrow morning at 9:00  at Hawkins School. After we once have the try outs, we have a general meeting for all new parents. And, in this general meeting, I go over all the do’s and don’ts, rules and regulations. And, then the complete program that we are trying to present to the kids. So, that when they join the team, they know exactly what we’re trying to do. And, what we’re trying to do in terms of philosophy is a distance orientated program with IM. It’s that simple. We don’t do anything more than that, we just keep after it over and over and over again.

 

Now, it doesn’t start when they’re seven or eight years of age. Our team is divided into actually seven different groups. We have a red team, a white team, blue team, bronze, silver, gold, high school, and then sometimes we call another group the elite group in the summer time. But, each of the different groups have specific things that we’re trying to achieve. For example, with our red and white team that’s our beginning team. Basically they’re six, seven, and eight years of age. And, what we’re trying to do with that particular group is to teach them how to do the four strokes, starts, turns, rules and regulations, and to have a great time. It’s not a conditioning program at that age. It’s a teaching program. And, that’s what we try and strive to do. Very fortunately, all of our coaches on the Silver Dolphins are teachers. And, so there’s no doubt in my mind, that if you’re a good teacher, you’re going to be a good coach, and vice versa. And, so this is what we’re striving for is to make sure that we’re teaching all the boys and girls at the beginning level how to do everything correctly.

 

Once they reach the blue level, then we start with a little bit of conditioning, but it’s still a great deal of stroke work; lot of drills. Bronze team, we continue the drills with maybe forty five minutes involved with what we call conditioning.

 

Now, with the red and white team, let me back track for just one moment. With the red and white team they practice an hour and fifteen minutes, four times a week. And, I shouldn’t say they practice. We offer four times a week. We have no rules or regulations on how many times they have to come to practice. If the parents ask us, we suggest strongly they come at least twice a week. And, that’s about all we think they need. By the time they get to the blue team, they are still offered four, sometimes five times a week. And they get to practice for an hour and a half. Again, the same idea. We like to have them come two to three times a week to make sure they keep maintaining good technique, and improving their strokes. The bronze team, again more stroke technique.

 

So, you’re probably getting the idea that we do a lot of stroke work. We do. And, it’s very important that you understand that, because once they reach a certain age, our expectations for the swimmers go up extremely high. Once they reach the bronze level, then we can start picking out the boys and girls from the team that probably have the talent to go on and maybe become either zone swimmers, junior national or senior national swimmers. So, we have a pretty good idea once they reach the bronze level. Once they reach this level, then they go up to the silver. And, the silver is what I call the transitional group. And, what  I mean by that is, this is the time they have to make a decision whether they really want to make a commitment to swimming or they don’t. If they decide that swimming is not that important to them. We put them in separate lanes. Those that really have the focus and the commitment and the backing from the parents, we put them in other lanes in that particular group. But, the silver group is rather important for us. Because that is telling us where and when they want to make the commitment. After the silver group we go up to the gold team.

 

The gold team is when we really start putting a great deal of effort into the practices. The repeat work is expected to be much higher. The gold team is very similar to what we call our high school group. The only difference is probably the gold team is a little bit younger, but still they are able to repeat extremely well. But the gold and high school groups repeat extremely well and we’re highly demanding of this group.

 

I think also, it’s important to understand that all of our coaches understand our philosophies and they follow it. Starting with our beginning coaches, all the way up through the senior coaches. We have very fine coaches. I think, if I remember correctly, we have seven coaches right now. And, I say I think, because one coach took a new job just a couple weeks ago, and I’ve got to find another coach. And, so right now we’re in the process of 5finding another coach.  But, when they are hired, we interview them at length to find out their philosophy. We tell them what we expect. And, our expectations, as I said, is simply distance work and IM work. And, if they can accept that and.. and then enforce it. Then they last fine. Most of our coaches that have been with us have been there probably from anywhere from eight up to about twelve or thirteen years. I had three different coaches that are coaching with us right now, that are ex-swimmers. So, they’ve been involved with the program for maybe thirteen, fourteen, fifteen years for some of them. So, it’s nice when you get those individuals that want to come back and keep coaching. Because they know exactly your philosophy and what you’re trying to do all the time.

 

We have a parent group. The parent group is great for us. Their sole responsibility is to support our program, bar none. Support our program, raise money. I do our parent group a little bit different. I’m not sure many teams could do it this way, I do though. I go through our complete roster. And I pick out four or five people that I know are enthusiastic, have good swimmers on the team, and are responsible. I then go to them and ask them if they want to make a commitment to the booster club.. the parent boosters club. If they accept, I explain to them they have a three year commitment. The first year they serve on the Board. What they do is come to all the meetings and add anything and everything they possibly can. The second year they serve as an officer in the Club. The third year, they’re the so called experts that everybody turns to. At one time maybe, ten to fifteen years ago, I use to say that they were elected. And, then it got out that they really weren’t elected, I handpicked them. It’s easier that way. There’s no conflict. They support us 100% when we do it that way. And, we’ve never had a problem when you do it that way. As I said, if you’re parent orientated there’s no way you could possibly do that. If you’re coach orientated you might be able to do it. The first year or two, might be difficult. But, then after that, once they get used to it, they accept that fact. And, it’s sort of an honor on our team to do that. Because they know that they’re being selected because they are the most responsible, the most energetic, the most supportive of the program. Once they get on that, they stay on it for a three year period.

 

As I said, their responsibility is to raise money, support us and to also run meets. We have five to six meets that we have each year. Those meets can be anything from little mini meets that we have in our own pool to big meets down at Cleveland State, where you have ten lanes, twenty five yards, and that seventeen and a half foot deep water. And, then we also go over to University of Akron at different times. They have a very fine pool. And, we use Cleveland State also for fifty meter competitions. But we have a lot of meets. We have a lot of really knowledgeable parents too, that run the meets. And, when you have knowledgeable parents that are enthusiastic everybody sort of starts to get involved with the program. And, it makes it for a real cohesive group.

 

We also do something different, which we started a couple of years ago. I know a lot of teams do this already. We never did. But, with the cost of pool rental going up and up all the time. We use several different pools. We use one pool, Hawkin Pool, which we get free. When I first started teaching there many years ago, I talked to the Headmaster, and I said I’d love to come and teach here. Could I use the pool for my swimming team. And, it was a hand shake. And, every time we brought in a new Headmaster, they’ve accepted that hand shake from the previous Headmaster. So, we pay no pool rental for the Hawkin School. We also use  a school called Notre Dame College. It’s a six lane pool, twenty five yards, nice pool, but very hot. We have to pay pool rental there. We pay something like forty five dollars an hour. We also use Beachwood Outdoor fifty meter pool. And, we use that only in the summer time. That particular pool is just a straight charge of three hundred sixty dollars a week that we pay there. And, then in the winter time we use Cleveland State, short course and long course. They have a different system. They charge a hundred dollars per lane per week, long course and, fifty dollars per lane per week, short course. And, then sometimes we use another pool called Gillmore Academy and sometimes we use Erslin College, another pool. But, in terms of how much you’re paying, we end up paying sometimes as much as four or five thousand a month for pool rental. A lot of money, and it’s up to the parents to raise the money for our team. And, they do it.

 

What is nice with the Boosters Club, I don’t try to run the meetings there. What I do is when we have the meetings started, I go in and let the President do everything, and then he asks me what else on the agenda that I want to follow. And, I say whatever you think is fine. And, I mention a couple of things I’d like to get discussed. And, with the Board, they came up with the idea of charging every family two hundred dollars for the year for pool rental, or to get credit at working at meets. Now, and I said that we had five or six different meets every year. We do. Sometimes we have a problem getting a lot of people working. We have a team of around two hundred twenty five, right at this moment. We’ll probably go up to three twenty five shortly. Because, I’ll explain that in just a moment. But, what we’ve done for the last couple of years, every family is expected to work at meets. Every time they work at a meet, if they work the sessions of every morning and afternoon, then they get a twenty five dollar credit. And, it goes up to one hundred dollars credit. At the end of the four meets, then the hundred dollars that is not taken because of the credit, is put into our pool rental account. So, everyone will try and get at least four meets. And, you may say, isn’t there an overlap because of the meets? Not really. Because our meets, as I said, there’s a mini meet which is one section of our team. We have a B meet, which is another section. We have a distance meet, which is another section. We only have a couple meets.. actually only three meets, in which it involves everybody on the team. And, other than that, the parents take care of the little mini meets, or the B meets, or the distance meets; no problem what so ever. So, we’ve done this the last two years. It’s worked out extremely well. And, some of you are saying is GOD that’s old stuff. For us, it wasn’t. We really didn’t want to do something like that. And, every time we needed money, all I did was charge them an extra twenty five dollars for a month. And, then they paid without any talking. The groups that we have on a team are at least middle income or higher. In fact, some of them are quite high.

 

We’re associated with Hawkin School a great deal. Hawkin School is a private school. And, the.. the fees for going there are pretty high. It cost fourteen thousand dollars a year, to go to Hawkin School. I would say probably we have sixty to seventy percent of our team going to Hawkin School. So, you can see if anybody is paying that much money, they probably are making pretty good money. That’s high school level. Well, and we have Pre K through eighth grade, too. And, it starts with the Pre K program.. it starts at four thousand dollars. And, it goes up to about eight thousand nine thousand when they’re a ninth grader.. or eighth grader.  So, it’s expensive.

 

We also do the following: each year we have big banquet, which I’m sure a lot of you do. Our banquet will probably cost upwards of fifteen hundred dollars. Because we do a couple things maybe you do maybe you don’t. But, we do one thing, that I’ve always done, and that is every single boy and girl on the team gets something. They get something either a little medal, that has our emblem on it. Sometimes we get painters caps that has LESD on it. Sometimes we give ‘em T shirts, vests, anything and everything that we can think of, we give out. And, over about thirty years, there’s not to many things that we haven’t given out. But, we give every single boy and girl on the team, something for being on the team. Then we have all types of awards. We have Ideal Swimmer. Ideal Swimmers are simply those boys and girls that come to practice each and every day, work extremely hard, have a great attitude, and cause no problems. We have Outstanding Swimmers. Outstanding Swimmers are taken strictly from the meets. Who does the best job. And, it doesn’t necessarily have to be first places. It can be somebody who breaks their best time in two or three events. They can be the Outstanding Swimmer at the particular meet. And, we try and make sure that everybody that is getting something is recognized at that particular time. We also recognize at that particular time, those people who have broken either a team record, a distance record, State record, National record. We also recognize zone people. This past year we had forty eight boys and girls on a team making the zone team. The complete year we had nineteen making Junior Nationals, and then Senior Nationals we had twenty one. So we recognize all those people. Sometimes we give out towels for the Junior Nationals and Senior Nationals people for making that particular team and qualifying for that particular either Junior Nationals or Senior Nationals. But the whole idea of the banquet is to recognize as many boys and girls as we possibly can.

 

That’s also the time where the new guard, the new four people come in and assume leadership of the Boosters Club, and four go off.  We just had that recently.

 

We also have a picnic in the summer time that has gotten gigantic. At one time all we wanted to do was have all the boys and girls come to Hawkin School, we have huge areas for playing. And, everybody brought their own picnic. And, we played games, and we had a little auction, and then we went swimming. And, we just had a lot of fun with the boys and girls. Sometimes we had a watermelon hunt. And, but it was just a way of getting them all together at that particular time. And, getting them thinking about being a part of the big team. This year, I had a lady that took care of the picnic. And, she wanted to earn a lot of money. And, so called almost every single family, we have about a hundred seventy five families on the team. She called every family on the team asking for some type of donation. She got a lot of donations. And, then she set up a program in which there are about fifteen to twenty five different tables with the different articles of.. for auctioning. At the end of, I think three or four hours, we had made five thousand dollars for the auction. Which means that five thousand dollars went into our pool rental fund, and that is what it was for.  And, so that was a great activity for the kids.

 

I also want to talk to you about a couple of other things. Some of you may have been coaching at this time, and some of you may not. Many years ago I was at this clinic, and Doc Councilman was talking. And, he was talking about great coaches. And, what makes a great coach. And, I bring this up for a reason that you’ll see in just a moment. And, a lot of questions were asked of him afterwards, but the jest of the whole talk was that a lot  of times the people that have the greatest knowledge may not be the great coaches. And, he said there’s an X factor here. And, the X factor is that one little thing in which the coach some way can make their swimmers go fast day after day. And, there is no conclusion at that particular time. But, then later on at a luncheon, that same clinic, he was talking and he made the statement that I like to talk to every single boy and girl every single day that they come into practice. And, I remembered that, and as soon as I got home, I told my coaches, I said there’s one thing you’ve got to start doing. And, that is I want every one of you talking to every single boy and girl every day. No exceptions. You’ve got to talk to ‘em. I think if there’s any one thing that is most important, that is personal contact between the coach and the swimmer. And, the more that you can have that personal contact, the better the swimmer responds. No doubt. No doubt. And, you can even be a dumb coach, and just talk to them, and even tell them bad things about swimming, they will still respond. And, the thing that’s nice, I’ve heard this many times, that John in spite of the coach is a National Champion. Simply meaning that John may not have all the answers in swimming. But, John has so much ability that he can do the things right without being told in the water. So, the key, at least in my thinking right now, is that if you make contact with your swimmers day in and day out, I think they’ll respond 100% better than if you say maybe one or two words.

 

I also like to do one other thing. Every time boys and girls leave practice, I want to say bye to them. And, I will say bye Erica, bye Diana, bye Lauren, bye Pat. I want them to know that I see them leaving. When they come in I say the same thing. I wave to ‘em and say their name. I want them to understand that they are extremely important. And, that means not only your great swimmers, but your swimmers that are not so great. Because in a USS program you need a lot of swimmers to make ends meet. And, some of the swimmers that may not be great swimmers, but they keep plugging away. They keep plugging away, they pay their fees. Those are the ones that probably a lot of coaches get great satisfaction from. I know I do. I get satisfaction from some of the slowest swimmers on our team. Because they set such a great example of hard work, making sure that they are there every single day, and having a great attitude. And, it makes some of the better swimmers feel a little bit antsy. Because they know some of these slower swimmers are working to their full capacity, that they never miss. And, when they see that, then the role models sort of reverse. The role model is that little Johnny or Sara or Charlie that has not much ability. But, GOD has he got guts, great attitude. And, so that helps the better swimmers to understand their responsibilities.

 

I’m also very concerned about technique. I think it’s extremely important that you work on technique, not only with the little ones, but all the way through high school. We’re going to start our official program Tuesday. For the last two weeks, we’ve had what we call stroke drills games. What they do, they come in and Rick Stacey will go through a bunch of drills with them, and after maybe forty five minutes then we pull out the lane lines and they play either bida ball.. or basketball game, or they play a water polo game. Viscous at times. But, they love it. And, we do that for two weeks. Gets them orientated to the water a little bit. Gets them ready to go. And, by the time we get ready, which is the day after Labor Day, then they’re ready to start swimming.

 

At that particular point is this, and let me just refer now to the high school team. Because with the high school team that is usually what I work with most of the time in the winter time. A little bit of the younger group, the gold team. But Rick and I will be working with the high school team after at least the first six weeks. The first six weeks we’ll be down at Cleveland State long course, by the way. And, for the first six weeks, what I will do is just do a lot of long easy swimming. But I will talk to each one at least five, six, seven times every night about their strokes. And, we do all four strokes by the way. The work outs will probably go maybe four or five eight hundreds. We’ll go a couple of them free, a couple back, one breast, one fly maybe. And, you’ll say, GOD fly, the first time. Well we might let ‘em go two right, two left, and then two normal strokes for a while, till their arms get used to it. We don’t say they have to do a certain time. Usually we’ll give them a sendoff time, but maybe a fifteen second rest. But, for the first couple weeks all we do is stroke work. Making sure they understand exactly what they want out of them for all four strokes. I think it’s important that you do that every year. Because you’re going to get a few new ones. This year we have probably seven new girls and about four new boys on our high school team. They have no idea what we do. So, it’s important for me, as the head coach, for them to understand exactly the stroke mechanics we want them to master. And, so we do this a lot.

 

We also do one other thing, which I consider, if not the most important thing, it’s very near the top. And, that is I have a talk with every single person individually. The talk may last for either five minutes up to maybe an hour. Depending on the individual. And, on these talks it’s a goal talk. And, the way I start it, is this: I’ll say, Anna, I’ve liked your attitude. You’ve got great ability. I said you work well, but what I want you to do… and then I’ll tell her some things I think she needs to do. I compliment her first of all on the quality she has. Then I mention some things she needs to work on. And, then we get down to business, and I write down in a notebook all the different times we want to try and achieve. So, if you have somebody that does all four strokes, is a distance swimmer, then you’re talking about hundred, two hundred, five hundred, thousand, sixteen fifty for the free. Fifteen hundred, two hundred for the other strokes, two hundred and four hundred for the IM, and it takes a while. But, what I try to do is make sure that they are realistic about their goals. And, this gives them a chance to get to know me, and my expectations for them. And, it also gives me a chance to find out from them, just how focused they are in swimming.

 

And, surprisingly, our program is pretty .. pretty pressured. I guess that’s the only word I can think of. We pressure them a great deal. Because, we expect them to do well at the end of every  season in high school. High school swimming in Ohio is very big. And, I don’t know if there’s anybody in Ohio from here, but it is big time in Ohio. So, the boys and girls on our high school team, want to do well at the end of the season. So, we put a lot of emphasis on our program. Even though it’s USS program, we still emphasis that a great deal. But these goal talks, I think are extremely important for them.  Enough said about that.

 

How many practices do we go through? As I said from the first couple weeks we will go only once a day with the high school group. And, they’ll be down at Cleveland State. I’ve got two hours scheduled in that we’re going to be using the pool down there. We will probably not use two hours the first week at least. The second week, I’ll probably try and go the two hours. But, we’ll do a lot of, as I said, stroke work, a lot of kicking. Do a lot of kicking at that time. And, a lot of IM work. Just to get them use to the variety. This will last for probably the mid part of September. Then at that particular time, I have a talk with the group as a whole. And, I’ll tell the group who I want to come in the mornings, at Hawkin School. Because our morning work outs will be there, afternoon at Cleveland State. The morning work outs will last probably from about five fifty ten till six, until seven twenty. Odd time starting, it use to be six to seven thirty. But they have to be dressed and then in their classes by eight ten. The swimming pool is not at our upper campus. The upper campus is about twelve miles away from our lower campus. The pool is on our lower campus. So, we have to make sure that they get out in plenty of time. And, they asked and they suggested that we start earlier, so they could get out earlier. And, I said fine. No big deal. So, we start at five fifty, go to seven twenty. We try to get in, once we get into pretty good shape, six thousand yards in an hour and a half. To me, six thousand yards is pretty good swimming. Because we always want to try and get in at least eight hundred to a thousand yards kicking. We don’t use flippers very often in kicking, so it’s just straight kicking. And, later on I would like to give you some ideas and some of the short course stuff that we do in the morning. In the afternoon, once we get in fairly decent shape. We try to get in eight to nine thousand.

 

How hard are we trying to push them at this point? Probably not very hard yet. What we’re trying to strive to do at this particular time, is just making sure that they’re getting all their stroke work down well. They’re starting to feel good in the water. They’re stream lining. We play some games sometimes. No big deal.  So, at first I would I say three four weeks, it’s very low key in terms of what we want. I would say, starting October first though, that’s the changing point. We demand a great deal of effort at that particular time, both in the morning and afternoon. That’s when they start getting a little bit cranky about the work outs. But, they understand what it’s going to take if they’re going to keep progressing up the ladder.

 

We also try and take each and every work out and divide them according to their ability. We have usually two lanes of distance swimmers. Then we have a lane which I don’t even want to call it middle distance, because everybody’s doing about the same work out. It’s just that the send offs are different. The two lanes of distance people repeat out of their mind. They can repeat extremely well. The next group repeat the third fastest. And, then the next group the fourth, and then the next group. We only have five lanes, by the way. That’s the size of our pool.

 

You saw our pool, if you happened to see Rick Stacey’s drills, you saw the pool. And, every time I see the pool on video, it looks magnificent. In person it’s poor. Really. It’s a motel pool, with  a building around it. And, so there’s no gutter system in it. The waves are about a foot high when you’re swimming. It’s not a very good pool for meets. And we won a lot of meets that we shouldn’t have, because people come in and they just can’t believe that we practice there. But, we do. With the number of practices we’re doing. We’ll do at least ten to eleven practices. We do not work out on Sunday’s until we get to probably December. Once we reach December, we start Sunday practices. So, we work out seven days a week.

 

Starting in December of that particular year. On Sunday’s what we try to do is twofold; we want one great set. We’ll warm ‘em up probably about fifteen hundred to two thousand yards. And, then we’ll do one set depending on what they’re training for. After they do that particular set, they’ll swim down, and we’ll work on starts and turns. Not as much as we should, I have to admit that. I don’t work starts and turns as much. But, I keep telling the people if they work every single practice the way they should, their turns should be done very well. And, they keep saying, we can’t think of turns while we’re trying to go fast. So, it’s a viscous circle at that particular point. But, we’ll go through that all the way up through I would say, the middle part of December. Just a lot of hard work, a lot of yardage. At that particular time we go through a two week period at Hawkin in which everyone is on vacation. And, then we start working out, I think harder. We work out four hours a day, and we try to get in at least sixteen seventeen eighteen thousand for as many days as we can, that they can hold up. I say hold up, because.. and I was surprised no one asked me this yesterday, when you’re working at the intensity level that I think that we are, there’s no way that you can do this for a week or two weeks. We can get through maybe, six seven work outs at the intensity level we’re going at. And, then at that particular time, we have to back off. And, does that mean that you go easy. It means they go easier. They go easier in the practice. And, we may have them just do a lot of stroke work. We may have them do different strokes. And, then we may have them try to go one particular set. And, usually they can do that one set pretty well. And, then the next day we go right back after it again. And, when this happens, they understand what’s happening. And, there’s no problem what so ever when we’re doing something like this.

 

But, starting in January, then once we get through that two week period of vacation time. Then we start changing the practices. We try and get a little bit more rest.  We increase the time just   a little bit. For example, we may do a lot of fifty’s on the thirty five beforehand. We might put it up for forty seconds. This is short course by the way. And, we’ll expect them to go .. instead of going thirty seconds per fifty, we want them to go twenty nines and high twenty eights. We’ll cut down the length of the sets. Instead of going sixty fifty’s, we’ll go maybe twenty four fifty’s. And, we may let them have a rest at the end of twelve. But, we expect very fast swimming. Now, we don’t do that every day. We still do a lot of endurance work, just straight a set of eight of five hundreds or sixteen two hundreds, but we start introducing sets of this type just to give them the opportunity of doing a little bit more speed work.

 

We do that all the way up through the first week of February. At that particular time no one is going double work outs except the distance people. Because, the State meet is three weeks away. And, by the way, the morning workout, I should have said, is only for the distance people daily. Everybody else is handpicked, maybe three times a week. And, so they only work out three times a week in the mornings if they’re not a distance swimmer. And, you may say, well what about some swimmers that are pretty rank beginners. We have those by the way. We had two swimmers last year that was one ten in the hundred yard free style; girl. Didn’t cut it, we don’t make cuts. We do not ever cut in the high school program. If they can’t do the work out, then they cut themselves. But, we don’t cut. But, anyway, some of the people will work out only once a day. And, that’s fine. They couldn’t cut twice a day, even every other day. So, some of them just go every other day, some daily, twice a day, and some only once a day. And, by the time we get to that first week, then everybody that’s in the .. the one work out a day or every other day twice, are starting to rest a great deal for the State Championships. We have started this past year, in the Ohio area a district.. I’m sorry a sectional, district, and then a State’s Championship. The first sectional meet we don’t rest at all for that. The second meet we’ve had to start resting. And, the reason is, that there are ninety one high schools that come into Cleveland State for the district championship. And, the times are extremely fast. I’ll give you a couple of examples. Because, we have I think, fast swimmers, both boys and girls, but they’re not fast enough that they can get into the top three to qualify for the State meet, if they’re not rested, or at least reasonably rested. In the two hundred yard free style the fourth place_ the fifth place boy was one forty five six seven. Actually, he happened to be our boy. A freshman that went one forty five. And, he was in the swim off, matter of fact, and he got beat. But, that was fifth place. To me, one forty five is pretty good. First two are down at one forty one and one forty two. And, then it jumped up to forty three, then forty four, then a couple at forty five. But, that’s fast. In the back stroke we had four boys under fifty four. So, you can see with those kind of times, unless you are a super star, and I didn’t think we had any super stars this year.

You have to rest a little bit. Granted, when we rest, we can rest. I don’t shave our good swimmers down. They do not shave, but then the following week, down at the State Championship down at Canton, we do rest. And, shave down completely. And, we do it for a couple of reasons. You may say, does that ruin it for Junior Nationals and Senior Nationals? At one time I thought it did. But, I’ve changed my thinking on it. It just depends on the group of swimmers you have working out with you. In our particular case, right now, we have a lot of boys and girls that like USS. They love high school too, by the way. But, their thoughts as well as mine, as well as Rick’s, is that once we get done with the high school season. We forget all about the high school season and go right into training for Junior Nationals and Senior Nationals. And, I would say maybe ninety percent of the boys and girls go better at the Junior Nationals and Senior Nationals. And, to me, it simply means that the coach hasn’t rested them completely. I think that’s fairly obvious. And, so when we taper, we never taper quite all the way down. And, I must admit, I’m sort of a chicken to do it. I’ve never done it before so I never know exactly what they are capable of doing.  Because I want them to be able to come back two and a half or three weeks later for Junior Nationals or Senior Nationals. And, if I drop them down to nothing, I don’t think they can do it. Particularly if they’re a distance swimmer, as most of our boys and girls are. So, I never drop them all the way down. There’s still a little bit that they could taper with. And, as I said, I’m just sort of a chicken to do it.

 

Do we have any type of dry land program with our swimmers. Last year we didn’t. And, I guess we didn’t for one reason. I  got upset with the boys and girls because I didn’t think they were working dry land as hard as they should. And, so because they’re not working as hard as they should, I said the heck with it, we’re not going to do it. We’ll just make ‘em swim all the time. Normally, we do the dry land in the morning. Two or three years ago, I think we had about twenty four stations, and they’d be on a station for one minute and then thirty seconds later on another station. And, we had usually about twenty four boys and girls going from station to station. And, the distance people were not involved in it. They were in the water with me. And, Rick was running the stations, and I kept watching the boys and girls with these dry land program. And, I was just shaking my head all the time, because they were not working as hard as they should have. And, so we stopped it, last year we didn’t do it.

 

This year, I want to start it again. But, we’re going to do it slightly different. We’re going to do a lot of surgical tubing. And, maybe just exercises. We do exercises by the way. At the end of the afternoon workout, we get done usually around five thirty in the afternoon we start at three forty five. Then around five thirty we go to the wrestling room, they have a wrestling room at Hawkin School with great big pads on the floor. And, what we do, we do exercises. We do basically three exercises: pushups, sit ups, pull ups, and then stretching. Do a lot of stretching. But those are basically the three exercises that we do. And, we do, as I said,  a lot of stretching. And, we do that every single day. Other than that.  That’s about what we do. And, in the winter time.

 

What I’d like to do right now is to give you an idea on .. on what we do in terms of different races or different sets, and intensity level that we try and maintain. And, I want to start with just the fifty’s. And, I’m going to use two different times on talking to you about this. One will be the very best repeat swimmers we have. The second will be the second group of repeat swimmers. And, as I said, just about everybody does the same work out. But a different send off for most of them.  On fifty’s  we’ll   do fifty’s any way from eight up through sixty on a thirty five second send off.

 

I should have said this, sometimes we make up a breast lane depending on how many breast strokers we have on the team. This year we might have as many as seven or eight. So, we may have to have one lane of breast strokers. If there are breast strokers, then we will have sendoff of no more than forty five down to forty if they’re capable. And, if they can do it in thirty six and thirty seven, then we will have the breast lane just keep doing breast stroke over and over and over again.

 

Hundreds: we’ll go anyway from probably five one hundreds up through fifty one hundreds. The sendoff will be anyway from  a minute up to probably no more than one fifteen. And, most of the time the second group can go under one ten without any problem. The best group will go on one minute and five a lot, but now they’ve started to be able to do minutes. They can do  a sendoff in a minute. And, they can maintain fifty seven and fifty eight for maybe five, six, seven, eight one hundreds on a minute send off. To me, that’s pretty high intensity. Because some of the boys and girls that are in that particular group can only go fifty four in the hundred free. So, when you can repeat a sendoff about six seconds over your best time, that’s pretty good swimming I think.

 

Two hundreds: probably starting at two minutes up to about two fifteen at the slowest. Four hundreds: probably four minutes up through four twenty to four thirty. Eight hundreds: we’ve gone eight fifteen for about five of them, up through probably nine minutes. And, then in the sixteen fifty one of the best sets that Erica and Diana ever did, was three sixteen fifty’s on the eighteen minute. And, they went sixteen thirty nine, sixteen thirty three, and sixteen twenty four. To me that’s really fast swimming. And, they were able to do that, that’s one of the best sets they’ve ever done, to me. And, when they do something like that, then of course we praise them and we try to elevate them in terms of being fantastic. Because I think it’s important that they understand your approval.

 

And, by the way, approval is really important to the swimmers. You can give approval many different ways. My favorite ways are number one: a nod of the head, eye contact I try to look them right in the eye and just say, great, or just say fantastic. I think it’s important that you do that anytime they have a good time in practice. Also, we encourage each other, meaning the swimmers. We tell the swimmers to know exactly what their team mates are doing. And, when a team mate does something well, they have to say something to them. Or they have to give ‘em a high five, or the girls like to grab each other and give ‘em a hug. That’s fine. Very important because then they know they’re being recognized by their peers, as well as the coach. And, I think they just respond better when you can do that. The most.. the better recognition that you can give the swimmers in practice, the more that they respond.

 

Back stroke: probably we had a couple boys that could go under thirty five send off, and what we’ll try to do on back stroke and butterflys, I said before, is to alternate them. Free style, back, free, back on the fifty’s even on the thirty five. The next set would be forty send off. And, we go all the way up through maybe thirty two fifty’s that way.

 

For the breast strokers I said either forty seconds or forty five seconds for the fifty’s. And, then for hundreds: what we’ve tried to do last year for about three or four of the boys is go hundreds on the one ten. We’re able to get up to four or five hundreds on the one ten breast stroke. And, for us that’s good. I’m sure for some of you it’s not that good. But, for us, we’ve had a hard time getting a breaststroker to go as fast as we wanted.

 

Individual medley: we do a lot of individual medley. Hundreds, two hundreds, three hundreds, four hundreds, eight, sixteen hundred, four thousands, we do a lot of IM work. On the hundreds, usually we’ll try to go on the one ten and we’ll try to do as many as sixteen one hundreds on the one ten. Again, the best group. The next group, probably on the one twenty. Two hundred IM’s: we’ve gone three or four hundreds on the two ten. Probably that’s about it. We had a couple boys that could repeat maybe up to six or seven. But, they’re the only two that could do it. And, so the rest of them were falling behind, so I thought it was a waste of time, and so we changed it. Three hundreds: no more than three thirty down to three twenty if we’re only going about three or four of them. Four hundreds: we’ve gone on the four twenty for about three of them.  No more than three though.

 

But, some of our girls, I’m thinking right now of Erica Rose, particularly repeat out of her mind on IMs. How she can do it, I’m not sure.  Because she went four forty eight this summer   in a four hundred meter individual medley, her best time in the hundred yard butterfly is 1:01; that’s yards. She went out in 1:06, in meters. So, you’re saying that’s way under a minute, but probably she hasn’t gone under 1:01 one in yards yet. In back stroke, her best time is a three. In breast stroke she has gone a high five. And, I think in breast stroke, and we could be screwing her up completely, because two years ago she made Senior cut in the two hundred breast stroke. And, yet we sort of pushed it to the side, and kept her going endurance wise. And, maybe she could become one of the greatest breast strokers in the country. We just have not given her the chance. But, in breast stroke, she went one twenty point nine on her split on the four hundred IM. Which is pretty good, then she came back on a four. But, the point being, her first two legs are lousy. I don’t know how she can go that fast.. well, yes I do. The obvious reason is that she’s in such great shape, and she is so mentally tough for that particular race. She loves the race. She loves it.

 

This summer she had a boy by the name of Mark Sideman, who’d gone four twenty nine in the four hundred meter individual medley last year. And, I let her practice with Mark sometimes when we were doing IM work. And, one set that I thought was outstanding was when she did six four hundred IM’s on the thirty to twenty and ten, she made them all. And, the three four hundred IM’s which she went on the five fifteen and she went nine, eight, three. I don’t know how she did it, really. She shouldn’t have. But, she was so enthused about going IM at different times, that she is able to do something like that.

 

Surprisingly, when you are starting to work with people and you do a lot of this yardage over and over and over again. Things start happening in your practice that is hard to explain and to accept. We get boys and girls able to do their best time many times in practice, over and over. And, they break their best time. And, they’ll come up to us, and say, I don’t understand this. How can I go this time in practice, and then in a meet I don’t go that fast. And, I have to tell them that they’re just not quite ready. That the conditions are absolutely perfect in practice. They know everything that’s going on in practice. They’re completely warmed up. And, that’s the answer I usually give them. But, surprisingly, you’ll see these boys and girls doing times that are unbelievable. And when that happens, their ego goes sky high. You feel good about it, and then you know they’re on the way to accomplishing something that is outstanding.

 

So, that’s about what we do. As I said, I think we work fairly hard. We are highly demanding. Do they miss practices? Probably, not. ‘Bout like your people in your Senior group. I don’t remember people missing practice. In fact, it’s the other way around. And, we’ve never gotten caught with this, Rick and I. And, that is a lot of times the kids will not go to school because they don’t feel good. They’ll go to the morning practice, then they’ll go home and sleep all day, and then they’ll come to night practice. We don’t know this. Until after the practice and then they’ll tell us, we didn’t go to school. And, we keep thinking that if the administration ever finds out that we’re permitting this, we’re going  to be in deep.. deep trouble. But, they are very conscious about practices. They’re very conscious about goals that they’ve set. They’re very conscious about the intensity, and when you have something like that happening, good things usually happen. Are there any questions?

 

Answer: This summer we had this situation. Erica Rose had gone for almost two years, it’s only about a week off in two years’ time. She’d gone to Australia for the 5K, she won it. She’d come back, she got enthused about high school swimming. She swam high school practices all the time. But, the more she swam, the more average she got. Until she got all the way through the summer. This summer she did not have very good work outs the whole summer. The only time she had a good work out, was when she was doing IM. So, I told her way back in July, that I wanted her to start backing off. Backing off in terms of intensity. And, it took.. and I’m still not sure she was rested enough for the Senior Nationals, …what you have to do is just look at the individual. If you think it’s a determent to them to .. to keep trying to do that particular time, diminishing returns, then you’ve got to say, let’s go over to another lane for a while. Let’s let your body recuperate a little bit. It happens. Once in a while, I’ll take.. well this summer I took two boys and put them in another lane for a while, because they were so out of it for a while. And, then they started feeling better, then I put them right back in the hard work out. You just have to keep watching them. And, that’s the key — watching them every single moment. So you know when something is wrong. And, if you know something is wrong, it could be that either they’ve got the flu, some kind of a virus, something that is wrong with them. And, have them go to the doctor. And, we watch them close enough, that if we see somebody that is really out of it, I’ll talk to them. And, maybe it could be that they’re doing something that you don’t know about it. Couple of them were doing some things that we didn’t know about, they were running on their own, and doing some exercises other than what we were giving them. So they were completely wiped out. So, we told them that they could not do anything like that again. ‘Cause we have to control every aspect, or if we don’t do that, then we can’t control the .. the end product.

 

Answer: Oh yes, many. In the mornings we permit anybody that’s on the Silver Dolphin’s to come in the morning. In the afternoon, the first work out is at 3:45 to about 5:30, that’s Hawkin. Once the high school season starts. Then we have another practice called the silver practice, and then we have gold practice after that at Hawkin. The gold practice will be other students from other high schools coming in at that time. We have a school rule that says that the afternoon workout can only be for Hawkin students. So, we .. our hands are tied. But, the gold work out and the high school work out are almost identical.  They do exactly the same thing. So, some of the better high school swimmers from other schools that come in, they know that they’re going to be doing the same thing and they find out from their friends what we did. And, they know what.. what they’re going to be doing every time when they come in.

 

Answer: I would say in the mornings they try to come every day. In the afternoon they’ll come .. they won’t come that often. We have a problem with some of the high school coaches that want to control the swimmers every inch of the way. And, so they won’t let them come at night. And we’ve talked to them about they might be getting a better work out, and the kids tell us, that they’re not doing anything, they may go three thousand yards in a two hour period of time. And, it sort of drives us crazy that they’re not getting the work out they .. they should be getting if they’re going to get to be Senior National qualifiers. So, we’ve had some battles, not direct, but indirect. Because the girl or the boy will tell the parents, the parents will go to the high school coach and say, I don’t want Erin with you in the afternoon. I want them over there with the gold team at Hawkin.

 

Answer: Most of them want to come. And, yeah we do tell them. We’ll say Erin, you’ve got to be there. And, she’ll understand and she’ll say, I know I’ll be there don’t worry. So, the better high school swimmers know what’s expected out of them, because I talk to them too, about goals. And, I will tell them that I want them there every morning, if you can come at night, fine. Talk to your high school coach. If you can’t, then I want you on Saturday and Sunday.  Anything else?

 

Answer: In our case, most of the better swimmers at Hawkin, except for Diana, and she gets very upset and sometimes I let her come in the high school if it’s on a vacation time at that time,  at the 3:45. She gets a little upset, Erin Abbey another Senior qualifier, gets a little bit upset too, when she can’t come in. Most of the others prefer to come in with the gold. But, those two, particularly like to work out with the high school group; the Hawkin high school group.

 

Answer: We’re starting singles next week long course, probably it might be even a week later we’ll start doubles. Yeah, and the only reason I’m saying that is that, GOD that’s going to be September 8th, and September 15th will be the following Tuesday, GOD I don’t want to_ I don’t think I want to go to the 22nd. So, I .. they may end up going double after one week of being in the water. But, a lot of them have been in the water for the last week and a half, every day. All the distance people will be expected to be their twice a day. But, again, I’m not going to kill them for a while. I’ll be easy on them, until I see that they can start taking it, and then I’ll start applying pressure.

Sponsorship & Partnerships

Official Sponsors and Partners of the American Swimming Coaches Association

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe and get the latest Swimming Coach news