The Preparation of Jeremy Linn, American 100 Breast Record Holder by John Trembly & Ed Fraser (1997)


Published


Ed Fraser: One thing that I am going to talk about, rather than talk about Jeremy as an Olympic champion and so forth is about the development of Jeremy Linn. I know some of you would like to know what we are doing in the water, so some workouts have been included at the back of the presentation. These detail the last three to four weeks of work with Jeremy before going in to the High School State Championships three years ago. We all have to write our workouts to the ability of our athletes and how it fits into the overall scheme of things. I have included them just in case you wanted to see what we were doing with him, however I will qualify that by saying that you have to understand that at that time Jeremy was on one a days and his yardage was a little less than 50,000 a week. That is why the taper is short with a sudden drop at the end. He was going for the National High School record at that time which he missed by 33 100ths of a second.

What I do want to talk about does include the development of Jeremy along with our other kids. Anita Nall and Jeremy were the same age and came up through the program since they were nine years old. Anita developed faster, was a national age group champion at twelve years old and when she was about to turn 13, I took her to Murray Stephens and have been asked many times “why did I do that.” The reason why was pool time, we used an inner city middle school pool. We had it up until Y-Nationals — we were a Y team then. When Y-Nationals were over around the beginning of April we did not have any water until summer. When the school was closed for holidays we did not have water unless we could find a custodian and bribe him to open the pool and let us in to practice. I knew she needed to be with a strong program, she was ready for it. She was already there at that level of training need, Jeremy wasn’t.

Jeremy did not start swimming breaststroke until ninth grade, he hated it and it was a real struggle to get him to swim it. We went to our first meet that year and he saw he had to swim the breaststroke and refused to swim it, so I told him that “you’re not swimming anything else, unless you do swim it” and he sat the whole meet. He didn’t swim anything. Went to the second meet a few weeks later and the same thing happened, this time mom got involved and asked me why I was doing this to him. “He hates  breaststroke”, she said. To make a long story short, he did swim at that meet and went 1:12 and proceeded over the next couple of years to drop about 17 seconds.

In his freshman year, he didn’t even qualify for states. He went 1:02 and everything you could describe for me that a swimmer could do wrong in breaststroke, he accomplished that day. It was very difficult for him, we had a long talk about it and of course he was never going to swim it again.

J.T. and I still go through that now on the 200 breast. When he comes out of it and says I hate that, I am not swimming it again. I believe that Jeremy will hold the world record in the 200 breast as well within three years. He is learning to like it and swim it.

We also did not have weight training in his High School development. We did not have access to it so we improvised. I think a lot of coaches are doing that and I think that you have to do it. You have to find ways to make things work for you. I believe that you have to have something in your program that you believe so strongly in that you can sell it to your kids. Unfortunately in my opinion I think we do that in the water. The water is an absolute must. I kind of take a reverse approach. I want to get most of what I do with my younger people on the land. I believe that if you have to demonstrate to your swimmers that land program has the highest priority and you have to stay with that all season long and have a lot of variety in it. Build variety into it and it will keep them interested it.

I am going to cover what we do on the land because we have been doing it for a lot of years. I have been blessed with some wonderful bodies to work with — Jeremy, Anita, Christy Kowal and some others. I think that one of the questions I get asked most is all the training we do in breaststroke and all the kicking we do and “What about knee injuries?”. I have never had a knee injury at any age group with any of my swimmers and I really believe it is because of the attention that we do pay on the land.

I believe that the cornerstone of the program, the most important thing, is working on the connective tissue around the joints. That is what most of what we do is geared toward, working on the connective tissue around the joints.

 

College coaches, when you get an athlete from a club, please don’t forget to communicate with that coach. You can work together, it can happen. All too often, we send an athlete off to college and we never hear about them until they come home and you get whatever information you can about them. Just maybe the club coach has something to offer, especially if that athlete is going to come home and train. It would be foolish of me to run a different training profile than what JT’s running. One good thing about that is that we are friends with Scott Volkers and we like his particular training profile. It is for the athlete.

I had a situation where I had a young girl that made six junior cuts in one meet and two of those cuts were 1/10 and 3/10 off senior cuts in 400 IM and 200 Fly. She went off to a prep school and there were all kind of problems psychological and so forth and I never knew about it until I found out she was in a hospital for 1 ½ years at the prep school and is no longer swimming. I want to cry every time I think about that. I think in fairness, communicate with your club coach and you club coaches communicate with the college coaches. Don’t try to sell your swimmer to that college, knowing there is something wrong. That happens. You have to let them know if there are past injuries or if they have poor training habits. You have to be honest with the college coach. College coaches please, you can work with the club coaches, they do have something to offer. They have seen the child grow up, been with them through thick and thin and just maybe sometimes a phone call from the club coach to that athlete may help them.

[At this point Coach Fraser played a video. There was no audio available.]

Coach John Trembly: We are big on team meetings and integrating the team as a unit and that occurs August 25 through September 20, about a four week cycle. Written goals are handed out. I am not telling you things that you don’t already do in your own program. The first team meeting of the year is vital, it sets the tone for the rest of the year and during that four week period we begin to establish points of focus through the rest of the year. We knew because we had experienced this with other athletes, such as Mel Stewart who is a great flyer, that after an athlete has great success in an event where they are seen as a primary breaststroker or flyer it is important to take some pressure off that event.

Out of high school Jeremy was an excellent 200 freestyler, a good freestyler at the 100 level also and he was of course known as a breaststroker. He made a deliberate shift last year to attack the 200 IM, that would be to take mental pressure of his breaststroke races. The team concept is vital for Jeremy, he is a pretty special guy. For those of you who know of Payton Manning our football quarterback at Tennessee, he is a Heisman candidate who is a senior in college this year. He turned down a #1 draft selection last year, which was about 25 million bucks to come back and play college football, because he loves college football. He wanted to be loyal to his coaches, his teammates. That says great things for Payton Manning in standing and Jeremy turned down some endorsement money to come back to Tennessee and swim his final two years. I think that says great things about Jeremy and his value system. He sees loyalty to people, teammates, his relationship with coaches as being more important that the money. Knowing that about Jeremy makes it easy to help him integrate himself within the team structure.

Fresh water is 817 times denser that air. If we could think about shaving, is it psychological or physiological. It is physiological and of course with some psychological benefits for children. But the drag force on our body in the water is unbelievable, certainly higher at higher speeds. Breaststroke is the slowest stroke because of the drag factor on the body with the under arm recovery. The drills that we do are so vital from a physical stand point to establish bio mechanical efficiency in the water. Drills are a vital part of our program. The IM physical preparation was critical for Jeremy in the season of last year because the pain one feels in the 200 IM is more approximate to the pain one feels in a 200 meter breaststroke or a 100 meter breaststroke than a 100 yard breaststroke. I believed it was important to get Jeremy to swing up to the 200 IM rather than to sell him hard on the 200 meter breaststroke. I remains to be seen, if he buys in completely psychology and physically what he has to do to be a great 200 meter breaststroke. Part of the plan was to get him racing the 200 IM because of the physicalness of that race comparing to the 200 meter breaststroke.

Eggbeater is something that can be shown on a drill tape. Eggbeater kicking is so vital to breaststroke from  the stand point of therapy on the knees, conditioning, the connective tissue, and as an aerobic device. I was looking at the Pac 10 results in December of 1992. UC of Santa Barbara had three breaststrokers in the finals, I think that they got 1st , 2nd, and 5th and all qualified for NCAA’s in 100 breaststroke. We were analyzing that and trying to draw some conclusions on how those breaststrokes might be at NCAA’s. Sure enough at NCAA’s for a variety of reasons those three breaststrokers did not swim to the time that they did in December and after analyzing that, my impression that those water polo players shifted to prepare for the swimming season and in some ways had forsaken the eggbeater kicking they we doing during the water polo season. Having coached water polo for seven years at prep school and having a sense of what eggbeater can do, even so, I did not have enough eggbeater in my program. As you will see in our training cycles eggbeater kicks, weighted eggbeater kick, and sculling drills are a vital part of the physical preparation and the drills that we do.

 

Jeremy has had a significant hand in helping develop those drills. As coaches we do not have very many answers. We look to time, intuitiveness, we look to the example of great athletes and the feedback they give us. That has been a great source for me in working with Jeremy, because quite frankly I really don’t see myself as a breaststroke coach, but rather as someone who observes and learns from great athletes.

Jeremy was very involved in establishing our diving well circuit, where we had a lot of eggbeater and sculling. There are other guys, IM’ers and Breaststrokers who contributed but that has been a mainstay of our program and I think a mainstay in the success that he has in IM and breaststroke racing.

We do massage which I think is vital. We don’t do massage at the championship meet, we do massage all year long. We have a staff of nine now at our university. If you are a club coach you can involve older swimmers or parents if you want to go that route. You can have physical therapists in your area donate time. The nine of us had an in-service massage program that took about 2 hours so we are all on the same page in terms of doing massage on athletes after training all year long. I think it adds to their relaxation, flexibility and the comfort that they feel and their recovery.

Weight training, I think is very vital to swimming but  I don’t know why. As you look through the World Record swims, some world record holders at the 200 level never did weights. Some do but for your 100 meter races and on down I believe weights are vital. I can say that in watching and observing our athletes who have attacked weights and generally done that during times of their career, there is a definite correlation between ability to train with intensity, which really drops off when you are doing heavy weights, and success at the end of the season. If they are not training hard, then they do not have the focus in the weight room. It does show at the end of the season especially on a multiple shave which was the case this year for Jeremy at the NCAA meet. At NCAA’s for the first time in his career and only in one event the 100 breaststroke he did no swim faster than on his first shave — the only time in his career since he has been at Tennessee. His 200 breast was faster, his 50 free, 200 IM all of them except the 100 breast. I believe it did come back to the fact that in the fall of 96 his weight training, the attack he put in the weight room, dropped off, his attendance dropped off.

Dick Jochums would say that that is Jeremy’s responsibility, I agree but it is also our responsibility as coaches to hold the feet to the fire and that wasn’t done by his coach.

Land exercise for us is not as extensive as what coach Fraser showed on the video but rather a very extensive abdominal, I call it a core body program. We do it three times a week — weights three times a week and abdominal program three times a week. Our weight program goes 55 minutes, pretty classic three times on the lunge, lat pull downs etc. We vary our weight program Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and hit different exercises with very little repetition of the same muscle groups on any given day. We do a lot of different abdominal exercise sit-ups, crunches, alternating sit-ups, double bicycles and so forth. We work a 40 second on , 10 second off cycle and we spend 25 to 30 minutes. We do that prior to getting into the water. I am not as big on flexibility prior to training as to building a light sweat or heavy sweat before you get into the water so that your body is warmed up, you have good blood flow and your internal joints are heated up minimizing risk of injury. Then you have less need for extended warm-up time in the water. I do believe strongly in extended flexibility after training again for recovery. That is why massage is in part of the post training flexibility program for us.

Jeremy, because of some pain in his elbow has convinced me that our weight training should stop a little earlier than we generally considered acceptable by physiologists prior to large competitions. Scott Volkers, who I think is one of the finest coaches in the world, has Sam Riley break a World Record at the Commonwealth Games after Sam was off weights for seven weeks, because of injury. Jeremy won his gold medal in Atlanta and broke the America Record in the 100 breast and had been off weights for seven weeks as well. When he broke his American record short course yards, he was off weights for seven weeks. I think there may be a shorter window that might be optimal for athletes but it is safe to say that has worked for him and other athletes.

Competitive Season September 21 through March 29: By virtue of being at a facility where we can manipulate our course, we do long course Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and short course Thursday, Friday Saturday. We stay with that program all year with the exception of special University functions and other conflicts with the University. Our athletes have adapted very well to that and we are able to help short course people understand more about long course training and vice versa.

Jeremy is kind of a different animal from most one a day program high school swimmers who came to Tennessee. He loves long course racing because he had trouble with walls. He is 6’ 5½”, his legs are inordinately long and an advantage for a short breaststroker / IM’er is the turns on the short course racing. The taller people have struggles and that is really why Jeremy did not care much for short course racing or training. That has proved to be a blessing for him but he has had to adapt to long and short course with the mix that we have a Tennessee.

On Tuesday mornings is a dive well circuit for Jeremy and the IM’er/ breaststrokers which goes up to 1 hour and 45 minutes. We do ATP/CP pure speed stuff, a lot of start stuff, fast in and out turns. A classic set would be 3 x 6 sets of 15 yard blasts in the diving well with 15 yards easy back on 1:00. It is very non stressful training where the lactate level does not increase. The primary focus on that day is not to allow lactate level to jump, to do maximal swimming for short intervals.

Wednesday morning is off typically for us.

Wednesday afternoon is typically VO2 Max. A standard set would be 6 300 or 350 breaststroke starting on a 12:00 cycle and work our way down to 8:00 8:30 cycle. We do work down to 300 meters as we go through our season. That is the main focus of that set. This is not the only swimming we do during the practice but an example of a standard set during this cycle.

Thursday morning is kick, pull, swim and the diving well circuit. Thursday afternoon is aerobic. Friday morning is heart rate.

Friday afternoon is drill/recovery. The swimmers are always arguing with me. They say, “Coach you say drill/ recovery, that wasn’t recovery. That was drills.” A lot of the fast drills of course are drill but the slow drills are recovery. On a Friday afternoon drill/recovery for us means 7000 yards or 6500 yards.

On Saturday morning we are allowed to have a longer practice because there is no school. It is aerobic and race. Our athletes love competition, let’s give them chances to race. It can be anything to first guy to take his bathing suit off and do a cannon ball from the 10 meter tower to stand on the blocks we are doing 225 breaststroke, let’s have our breaststrokers go head to head.

[Drills being shown on video]

The eggbeater kick — we have weighted eggbeater kick with 12-16 pound shot puts. Keep in mind that we have a circuit that these guys follow and we change the circuit very frequently. The shot-put kick — we usually do a 50 second on 10 second off with the shot-puts and they stay close to the wall. About two years ago some of the guys were playing games. They would go to put the shot-put on the gutter and miss on purpose and the shot-puts would roll down to the bottom of the diving well. So I got pissed and said, “OK, you go down to the bottom of the diving well and put the shot put between your feet and do pull outs to the surface.”

Jeremy’s highest volume last season was 68,000 meters in one week and his blend excluding warm-up and warm down was about 50% breaststroke or breaststroke drill. The rest of the course was fairly equally distributed between fly, back, and free.

The training focus for Jeremy is mechanics, big time, because of the drag force in breaststroke there are some points of focus for Jeremy in his training of breaststroke. They are: hands wide at the wide part of the out sweep, and pinkie fingertip just under the surface so you always have a pressure wave extending up above the actual plane of surface of the water.

A flaw in breaststroke is pausing or decelerating hands under the chin. For this we do fast hand drill to reduce or eliminate this pause.

The head position is a 30 40 degree angle of attack. There is a lot of controversy about how high does the head comes out. It differs from athlete to athlete and it certainly differs from female to male. We have found that with Jeremy a 30 40 degree angle of attack is best and you will see this when you watch his American Record 100 yard breaststroke.

Body position — the base position is huge for us as we train doing the VO2 max 350 breaststroke’s, we are focusing on body position. Jeremy is an athlete like many other great athletes, who does focus on technique when he is training hard.

Huge for Jeremy is learning to attack his stroke count so he gets on his wall short course, so he is not gliding in on his turns, not jamming his turns because of his body size.

One area a weakness with Jeremy is clearly his finishes as he finishes a race he tends to lose body position and his angle of attack is certainly not base position but upward and the drag forces are killing at the finish of his races. Something that he has focused on all year and there is more that must be done.

The Dallas Morning News Classic was a point in the year where Jeremy was attacking the 200 yd. breaststroke record that Mike Barrowman set, which is obviously a standard in the 200 breaststroke in both yards and meters. Jeremy just missed that 200 meter breaststroke time, which kind of reinforced in Jeremy’s mind that he was ready to do something great in the 100 yard breaststroke. He had taken Lundquist’s record off the board at the Classic the year before unshaven. He had touched Lundquist’s American record in the 100 meter breaststroke in the Olympics. Jeremy was very confident and I think Coach Fraser and I were  confident that he would be close to it if not under the American Record of Steve Lundquist in the 100 yard breaststroke at either the Conference or NCAA meet.

Zoomers are something that we love using for all strokes and they use Zoomers and paddles for all out breaststrokers.

We do a tremendous amount of power rack work. With Zoomers, with paddles, without Zoomers and without paddles. We call this naked when he has no Zoomer or paddles.

That record that he broke of Steve Lundquist was the oldest American Record on the books. It was set in 1983. Jeremy had a nice 12 months prior to that, he won the US Olympic trials, he went to the Olympics and swam under the World record and I am proud of Jeremy and disappointed that we can’t say this about more swimmers at the Atlanta Olympics: we had one swimmer swim faster, male or female, swim faster than a World Record, only one, Jeremy Linn. He broke the World record but DeBurghgraeve of Belgium beat him and now owns the world record.

Coach Ed and I have had a great time working with Jeremy. I am not saying this to be humble but I believe any coach in the room could have gotten Jeremy to World and American records. He is a magnificent athlete and tremendous worker. He has those qualities that Dick Jochums talks about in his presentation at the ASCA 1997 World Clinic about Self-discipline and self-focus. It has just been a pleasure being along on the ride with Jeremy and learning more from him. Thank you.

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