Thriving in a Small Market: Making Your Club Special by Jan Mittemeyer (2010)



Just like to welcome everyone to the ASCA World Clinic.  I’m very excited to introduce our next speaker to you.  I’m going to say something that he told me maybe I shouldn’t, but just to let you know:  thank you for fulfilling his dream.  He said, this has been a dream of his to speak at this clinic.  And I said, it’s not many times when you get to do your first talk that you get this kind of turnout.  So thank you for, fist of all fulfilling his dream.


Just a little bit about your speaker.  He’s been coaching for over 30 years.  The team that he is with now, he started ten years ago when he moved from D.C. down to Daphne, Alabama.  And I ask where that was: he explained it’s across the bay from Mobile, Alabama.  He has always been the CEO/Owner of his teams.  He’s always coached in rural areas, and has worked with teams of 100 or less swimmers.  So I think you will… that helps kind of understand why he is speaking on the topic that he is, as far as thriving in small markets.  I’d like to introduce to you Coach Jan Mittemeyer.



[JM begins]

Good afternoon everybody.  Welcome and thanks for coming to this talk.  My name is Jan Mittemeyer and I’ve been coaching for over 30 years.  I currently coach a team in Daphne, Alabama; which is across the bay from Mobile.  Our team, we have about 70 kids in the programme right now; I started it in 2004.  We use 3 lanes in our program at the Bounds Family YMCA in Daphne—which as we refer to, in that area, as the Redneck Riviera.  Beautiful town, Daphne.  I’m originally from Washington DC and coached up there for a number of years before I moved down in 2000 and actually started the team in 2004.  And so like you think this… the topic of this talk should be as much about surviving in the small market as it is thriving in a small market.


But what I’d like to do is just go through our programme.  Originally when I… the way I got this invitation to speak and it wasn’t necessarily my intention to do it, although I did have a slight motivation was, every time we do something special on our programme, I make a web page.  And then I will send that out to all our membership but also I will shoot copies to John Leonard and Guy Edson.  And for the first couple of years they’d send me back a reply saying, “Nice work, good job.”  And I was happy with that, at least they took notice.  Then it was, “Nice work that looks like fun, way to go.”  And then sentences started growing a little bit longer, finally I got an email saying, “We’re going to put you on file to do the clinic in 2010.”  Anyway, that was a little scary but I’m happy to be here.  That’s my daughter and that’s a very cold day when we first started the programme, we were swimming outdoors still about November and that was the only way to get them in the pool that day was to get them to see how far they could jump.  They got a running start right way back there by that building and got to run out and… but they got in, but they quickly got out.


Just a little bit about my background, I started out in Washington DC.  If you are familiar with that area, there is four main counties, two in Maryland and two in Virginia.  You’ve got Prince George’s and Montgomery County and then you’ve got Fairfax and Arlington counties.  When I first started coaching as an assistant coach, the teams were a lot smaller in the area.  The biggest teams were like 200, 300 swimmers.  Those were big teams and there weren’t that many of them.  But that area is the fastest growing area in the United States right now and even today it’s just booming and there’s not – there’s no recession in DC and Maryland and Virginia right now.  But there is at least a dozen, 50-meter pools within a 20 mile radius in that area.


The summer leagues within the Potomac Valley LSC boundaries, the summer leagues have between, I would say, over 60,000 kids—and if you are from Potomac Valley, correct me if I’m wrong.  But between Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, you know 60,000, I don’t know maybe 80,000 kids just in the summer leagues, it’s massive, okay. A couple of Potomac Valley teams have over a 1,000 kids registered on their teams okay.  And it’s been like that for years, it’s not just something new.  It’s been like that for years.  I would consider that a large market.  An average team is 400 kids, you’ve got 400 kids on a team you have got a good size team.


So… but I ended up taking my first head coaching job, I swung a deal with a community college down in Charles County, Maryland, which is about 30 miles south of Washington, D.C. and ran a programme there for 14 years.  The total, within a ten mile radius there was about 400… maybe about 400 or 500 summer league swimmers within a ten mile radius of our pool and so I rarely had teams of over 70 kids.  But we… because of our proximity to DC, we were actually in the Maryland LSC.  But because of our proximity to Washington DC, we had to go through Potomac Valley to get to the meets in Baltimore.  So we would go to the Potomac Valley meets and we would go to the Baltimore meets.  And the teams in the Potomac Valley, they had a lot of fast kids.  I mean for every one of ours, they had… every one really fast kid you have on your team; they’ve got thirty of them up there.  So we had to race to go fast… to be competitive.


We went to a Maryland meets; we had to swim against NBAC North Baltimore, and I’m sure everybody here is familiar with their programmes; outstanding programme, always has been, it’s today. So we had to learn to be competitive.  I had to learn to work really hard as a coach on the deck.  And I also learned how to work really hard off the deck.  So that’s where that experience, that those years up there, when I moved down to Alabama, they paid off.


This is our LSC that I’m coaching now is called Southeastern Swimming.  And if you look at that, that’s a big chunk of geographic territory.  It’s big demographically also: it’s like 7,000 kids in the LSC. But at the same time, geographically, it’s the entire state of Tennessee, entire of Alabama, and the Florida panhandle.  So there are some big, big cities in there; you have got in map, but they are all up north.  They are: Nashville, Memphis (it isn’t even on that map), Knoxville, Chattanooga, is pretty big, to come down, Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery.  And you see from Montgomery down it’s kind of barren.  It’s not a lot of green in there, and a lot of small towns.  Well that little A down there (thank you MapQuest) is where we are.  We’re down on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, called the Eastern Shore.  We’re in Baldwin County.  And it’s kind of a beach area.  It’s more of a tourist destination. People – that’s the big business down there is tourism and farming.  And Baldwin County, our part of Baldwin Country just across the bay is mainly a bedroom community.  People would go over to Mobile to go to work.


This is my neck of the woods right here.  This is the bay.  We are on the Eastern Shore, you see it says TNT there.  Five miles from us is a team with call letters SWAT.  And if you go across the bay, ten miles from us is team, call letter CMSA and then a little bit, a west to them there is a team WMM.  The biggest team in LSC in this area, within this 20 mile radius, is WMM.  They have got probably about 150 kids.  CMSA has got about maybe a little bit over a 100 right now.  SWAT which is on our side of the bay, five miles from my pool, they have an 8-lane indoor, coach-owned pool.  I have a 3-lane YMCA that I run.  So I have to work really hard to make it special and I don’t know why this whole – my whole graph or all my words aren’t up there.  But it says, “Working hard to make it special”.  But if you have a look at the populations I have in there, on the west side of the bay you have 200,000 people over there.  Okay.  And on the east side of the bay you have got about 85,000 people in that 20 mile radius.  I mean that’s about how many summer leagues almost there are in Potomac Valley.  That is the total population we’re drawing from.  So that’s what I mean by a small market.  And plus swimming in that part of the country, it’s – people swim at the beach and they swim in the rivers and there everybody plays football.  So swimming is a real sell.  It’s a real sell.


So what makes – what is so special about TNT?  I’ve got six points I am going to go over, and we have what we call themed practices, our social functions, our meet traditions, clinics and seminars that we host, the publicity that we do and our website.  Our theme practices are listed up there, beginning with Halloween, which I started in the Halloween practice because when I moved down there – people told me, “Don’t even have practice on Halloween; it’s not even worth it”.  I mean Halloween is big down in South Alabama.  And it’s great, I love Halloween.  And it’s great to go to a place where people like to celebrate holidays.  I love it.  But I just couldn’t bring myself around to cancel the practice because of Halloween, it was like giving up, you know.  I just couldn’t do it.  I didn’t care if one kid showed up.  So I started to jazz it up a little bit, Mardi Gras, and if you know about Mardi Gras down there, big time.


The kids get off school for Mardi Gras.  They get off Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and Sunday leading up to Mardi Gras.  My daughter gets off for whole week of Mardi Gras.  I’m in a Mardi Gras society, my wife is in Mardi Gras society, it’s just a big deal.  Easter, right after Mardi Gras, we just decide to do something special on Easter because you can do something fun with Easter eggs.  And the lazy river is a… I don’t know if you are familiar with lazy rivers, but they are courses that run anywhere from 1-3 miles-an-hour around water parks—and that’s the only ride I go on when I go to the water park.  So my wife and I, we were just floating around one day and I said, “You know what, it would be fun to swim against this current”.  So anyway, so we’re going to start off our Halloween practices.  [laughter]


And as you can see this swimmer is actually swimming with a mask on. And it’s a pretty good stroke, really, I like the way the water is moving by her.  We started off with pumpkin relays.  We get these pumpkins of different sizes, given to the kids, they line up in lanes and they just push the pumpkins back and forth and they have a great time, they get all excited, they are cheering, they are having fun.  Different sized pumpkins yield different results.  If you get a little pumpkin and put it in the water and have your big kids swim with it, you will get the best breaststroke.  I’m not kidding, I mean because it makes them really, when they push the pumpkin it shoots out in front of them.  They have got to really stretch out to get close enough for their next stroke.  And then they come up and they pop it again.  You don’t get that big lag in here.  You don’t get that dead spot they come through, when they hit that pumpkin.  Anyway, that’s not what I’m here to talk about.  It doesn’t take much to get me going about strokes.


So you can see we’ve actually got four relays going in two lanes; that gives you an idea of our pool space.  Frightening stroke mechanics on Halloween; the older kids, they do the pumpkin relays too but they prefer pumpkin polo and they have a good time, we’ve got in the outdoor pool and they toss the pumpkin around and just make sure nobody gets hit in the head with it.  These are called mask exchange relays and what we do is, we line them up and we give them a mask and you know what, they do a relay but they have to work – they have to exchange the mask before they can start the next leg of the relay.  And it’s better to have those rubbery masks that stay on pretty good, because the little flimsy plastic ones they’ve come off.  But for the most part it’s more about the fun than it is the competition, but the kids get really excited and they get really intense, okay.   You see the tendons in this kid’s neck are sticking out at the side.  But they are … they just get really excited about it. It’s a lot of fun.  The coaches get in on the act.  We kind of go with the theme on the deck, I wont show you any pictures of me.  This is my wife and daughter down below.  Now the parents get in right, the coaches; everybody is having a good time.


The main thing is it gets everybody to practice on Halloween.  Yes Ma’am?


[inaudible question from the audience]


[JM]: It’s challenging.  [laughter]  That’s all I can tell you: it’s challenging.  Okay, preferably you can cut – if you get the load – you can cut a hole in it.  I never have, but you can.  There is air underneath the mask and it’s all early during 25s.  So anyway, the kids, all – they look forward to coming, and some of them actually skip their – they skip their festivals and parties on Halloween day just to come to practice, so I’ve achieved my goal.  They come to practice.  We don’t get that much done but they come.  I don’t have to cancel practice on Halloween anymore.  Now I have to tell you this, if you decide to try this at home, beware of eight and under boys with masks and noodles.  [laughter]  I wish I had the video for this because if you could have heard the sound coming out from this kid’s mask while he was doing this, and look at the Mom walking behind him, okay.  Anyway, I cleared this with Guy Edson before I showed it by the way.


Anyway, my text didn’t show it up here, but this is Mardi Gras practice.  And, again, we just wondered, I had about 1,000 beads from a couple of parades and I just decided that I wanted to get rid of them so I took them to practice one day and it’s evolved into something else.  These are our older kids.  They are the first kids that come in on Mardi Gras practice.  We started out by just throwing beads to them while they swam and then we started having them earn the beads.  What they do is, we’ll do a hard practice for about an hour, and then at the last hour, we’ll have them just do something like a set of 50s, and they will go one heat at a time and they have to either predict their time or they have to guess their time when they finish.  And, so you’d be shocked; I was shocked, at how good some of them can actually get — knowing their pace.


It takes – it might take them two or three 50s to figure it out.  But after a while they start getting it and if they get within half a second of their time, they get the little beads, the little small ones.  If they get within .25 they get nice medium sized pretty beads and if they get right on their time, and they don’t have to get to the 100th; if they get right to the 10th, they just get these gigantic beautiful beads with dead chickens hanging off of them and all kinds of funny things.  So they love doing it.  It makes practice fun and special.  These are our older kids.  And you will be surprised what a $2 pair of funny glasses would get you at practice.  On this day they had to do 500 sit-ups in a row to get the glasses.  They had already won the beads, I said, oh, they got the glasses, 500 sit-ups right now; they cranked them out, got the beads, and they got the glasses.  I mean they do a lot of sit-ups anyways, so 500 in a row weren’t that big a deal, but we don’t normally do 500 in a row.


These girls had perfect attendance from January 1st to Mardi Gras practice and they got the [Indiscernible] [00:18:32] and goody bag.  That is my daughter holding up her – proud to hold up her Alabama beads.  Little kids, these guys get in and they swim maybe a set of 10 x 200s or 10 x 250.  And the coaches, will stand on the side of the pool, while they are swimming, will be throwing beads to them.  And we’ve got a lot of beads.  We’re throwing beads out there, all the small, basically the real small ones, we don’t throw anything big because it could hurt them.  So we throw little light beads, doesn’t hurt if it hits them, but we always try to lead them when they are swimming.   So when they are swimming, the bead lands out in front, they see it starting to sink and they speed up, get the bead and put it on.  And they are doing sets of 200s and 250s so they are catching a lot of beads; well by the time they get about through five 200s, they are wearing like 5 lbs of beads you know and as the set goes on they are just like dead.  But they just love the beads so much, they just keep going and they work hard.  So it’s a fun thing.


Now any beads they don’t get, go to the bottom of the pool and that’s where they stay, then the last group the eight and unders come in and they get clean up duty.  And really they just go to the bottom and they get the beads and you can see how many there are.  That’s after they have cleaned up a bunch of them too, so they are the bottom feeders.  We do — what we call an Easter Egg Jubilee.  Now the Easter Egg Jubilee is just something I decided to do because we had Easter Eggs, because we get about 200 or 300 of these plastic eggs and we put rocks in them and then we have to tape them shut, so that they stay shut and then we just throw them into the pool. You can see what it kind of looks like with all the eggs on the bottom there.  And then the kids go for it.  We just do this with the little guys and they go in, they dive in and they get the Easter Eggs up and when they finish, for every egg they collect they get a piece of candy.  And there’s a little photo I saved with bunch of kids with their eggs and some cup cakes we bring in for them.  We always include food with this stuff too.  At Mardi Gras they get King cake; Halloween of course they get little bags of candy and stuff like that.


This is our Lazy River Race.  This is down at Waterville USA in Gulf Shores, Alabama, if you are over there they are great folks.  They let us in at 8 O’clock in the morning.  We start the race at 9, the water park opens at ten; we’ve got one hour to get it done.  My wife is a lawyer and she represents Waterville so that’s how we got in there.  But that’s our biggest group we ever had since this year’s race.


Anyway the current goes at 3 miles an hour and the course is 500 yards and the big kids go around six times against the current; 11, 12 go around four times, 9, 10’s go around twice and 8 and unders go around once.  And the 8 and unders are pretty funny.  They don’t go very far.  At three miles an hour, that’s about swimming speed right there.  So you have got to power down.  Well it’s not swimming speed if you are going slow.  But it’s swimming speed.  I’m particularly proud of that high elbow right there, and the lead swimmer.


There is the straight away.  You have got to love the straight away.  It looks to me; like its about 100 yards straight.  I like to put bulk heads at both ends and just have them go for it some day.  But that’s a nice straight away right there and you kind of get an idea of the course.  We jazz it up, we give medals for each age group winner.  And then, afterwards the park opens at 10 and there’s nobody there, so if you’ve been to a water park, you got to stand in line for about 15 minutes before every ride.  Well these kids do a days worth of rides in about 15 minutes.  They hit everything.  They got a really cool wave machine there and all kids of slides.  So it’s a great day.


That’s what John Leonard asked me to come here and speak about what was our specialty practices.  Well, obviously I can’t do an hour talk on specialty practices.  So I decided I was going to add more about our programme that I’ve always felt was special about our programme and that I wanted to share with you guys and maybe you’ll pick something up and take it home.


We have social functions, in the beginning we have themed events and just general fun stuff.  The themed events are annual things that we always do.  Welcome, we always welcome our new families with a party every like in September.  We always have a fall picnic in October and November.  We always have a Christmas party and we’re not afraid to call it a Christmas party in our part of the country.  We also have a kick off to summer party and then, some of the fun stuff we do, we take them to baseball games.  We have a minor league team in Mobile.


So we go to the Bay Bear games.  One year, they actually had, brought a snow machine to make a mountain of snow and the kids got to play in the snow which is something that never happens in Mobile.  And we also, had a family bowling tournament.


This is our kick off to summer, open water race.  We always start the summer off with an open water race where there’s plenty of open water down there, so we always find a place to do it.  So some of our older swimmers, these are our little kids.  Not everybody wanted to do it.  So we kind of had some smaller groups actually participating in the race.  There’s the little kids taking off.  We’ve got some volley ball going on here in the corner, some boating.  You can see down below the big little kids.


This is also a party for our new families.  And when we do our parties for our new families, the returning families bring all the food and then the team account we buy drinks and utensils and things like that.  We always try and find a fun place to have it.  This one was a pool party that we did at a local pool.  We have a new family beach party which was actually held the same place we did the open water race.


We have always had an annual fall picnic.  We always do it at a place where the kids can have a great time.  The families bring all the food and there’s lot of boating; that’s a dolphin right there that came up when we were out there canoeing and kayaking and having a great time.  But mainly, what we’re doing here is trying to get the families together interact in a social environment outside of the pool.  And I have found that’s helpful for me because I get to build relationships.  You know when you are coaching, people want to talk to you while you are coaching and you don’t want to talk to people when you are coaching.  It’s tough.  And you don’t just want to blow them off.  It’s always, “I really want to talk to you, let’s get together after practice or give me a call or something like that”.  But at these things I’ve got like three or four hours where I can talk to everybody which helps me build relationships which then again helps the team.


We have our annual Christmas party.  I always give a coaches gift to all the swimmers on the team.  This year we gave a t-shirt to the swimmers. Included in the Christmas party is always a dance, a buffet.  Other gifts I’ve given, bag tags, personalized bag tags, cookies, specialized, really nice cookies.  Just something where the kids feel like they are getting something, the head coach is recognizing them at Christmas.  So it’s just a special time to be able to do something like that.


There’s our family bowling night.  We actually keep score and give trophies.  So kids have a great time and it gives everybody a chance to be together again, that’s the Bay Bear Snow Park.  Again, so unusual that we just had to take advantage of it and get the team out there to have a great time.  Our in-house clinics that we do.  We started the team with 12 kids and by the end of the first year I think we had like 30 kids.


So I’ve been involved in swimming my whole life, but most of these kids haven’t been involved in swimming and they never had any contact with any roll models other than me.  And I wanted them to come in contact and interact with swimmers who had achieved high levels of success.  So we had a member at our YMCA whose cousin’s with Shelly Ripple.  Now I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Shelly Ripple.  But she is 24 times all America at Stanford.  I think she finished probably back in 2002, 2003, but he arranged to have her come into a clinic for our kids.  2007 we had Rowdy Gaines in, did a clinic for us.  2010 we had what we call a holiday campus past Christmas and actually, that would be 2009 we did the holiday camp not Christmas yet.


2009 we did the holiday camp and all I wanted to do is get the kids to do doubles.  The older kids to do doubles and so instead of having them go home and come back I kept them prisoner at the Y for six hours and what I did was actually – we had speakers come in every other day during lunch and you can see the list of speakers there.  And the speakers would tell the — try to give them motivational and inspirational stories about their swimming or athletic careers.


Our annual nutrition seminar and we also have an officials clinic every year where I’d guilt the parents into being swimming officials.  This is the Shelly Ripple Clinic.  Shelly was nine months pregnant when she came in.  But she did a great clinic, it was awesome.  You can see how small little group of kids we had but she came in and the kids all really had a great time and really learned a lot from it.


The Rowdy Gaines Clinic you can see Rowdy is there in the water, the kids are all around him.  He interacted with our swimmers.  He’s wonderful with the kids.  As coaches we were just thrilled to be able to hang out with him, take him to breakfast and it was real special for us.  And the cool thing about Rowdy is that he races every single body, every single swimmer at the clinic.  And he’s as old as me and he’s in good shape and he still swims and they almost beat him, but he won every time.  And every time he’d win he’d put his arms up like that, it was great [Laughter]


So our level five holiday camp, this is the speakers we had come in, the upper left is Geoff Gaberino.  Now Geoff was 1984 gold medalist and 800 Freestyle Relay at the Los Angeles Olympics.  He was actually on the prelim relay; but you know the people in prelims, they get medals too.  But he brought his gold medal in and had a really inspirational story to tell the kids.  The man on the right, probably never heard of him, he’s a local businessman, and entrepreneur.  He’s also a real philanthropist.  His name is Alan Cox.  He played four years of football for Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama.


If you have ever heard of Bear Bryant he’s a pretty famous football coach around all part of the country.  But he had some really great stories to tell about how his rise through high school and then how he walked on at Alabama.  Coach Bryant kicked his butt everyday, but he ended up finally at the senior stardom.  So it’s kind the story of the rise to the top.


The gentleman down to the lower left and in the right hand corner is BJ Jones.  He has four NCCA Championship rings.  He is senior year at Auburn.  He was their team captain.  And just the totally great guy, he just finished his medical school and is now a doctor at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, which is one of the top medical facilities in the country.  So and he had a great story to tell the kids.


More than anything I want the kids to interact with people so that they know that you have the dream and you work hard, and you can achieve the dream; and that’s what it’s all about and that’s why we have these people come in.  Our annual nutrition seminar, we always do this in March because it’s National Nutrition Month in case you didn’t know that’s National Nutrition Month, March.  And the families, we’ll get a couple of mothers who will and I’ll go with the mothers because the mothers mostly do the cooking, no offence dads!  What the mothers will do is prepare a meal, prepare an appetizer, a main course and a desert and they will take all… list all the ingredients and they will give them to our nutritionist. In this case, it was man named Ken Hainey [phonetic] who works for the Local Wellness Centre which is associated with the hospital in Fairhope, which is another town near us.


And Ken will break that down, he will break it down by carbs, they will break down the carbs, prots and fats and then, he will also break down vitamins and minerals.  And then as the kids are eating he will go through what they are eating how that contributes to A) Their grown is as children or adolescence, just their basic metabolism.  How it contributes to their training and how it contributes to their recovery.  And he also talks to them about rest and how that affects their recovery and it ultimately helps their training.  So we do that once a year.


[audience member]:  Do you tell the mother, what to make?


[JM]: I don’t tell them what to make.  You know what they always do?  They always make the healthiest food they can make.  Is food they would never serve their kids on a daily basis okay.  But because it’s the nutrition seminar, they make this low fat, incredibly nutritious meal and so the kids — but they make it taste good.  The kids all eat, everybody has a good time.  There is some pictures of Ken interacting with the families.  He’s a really good presenter, so he does a great job and you know what we pay him?  We give him a team t-shirt at the end of the thing, and he’s thrilled.  So he’s just happy to do it.


We host regional clinics and seminars.  In 2006 and 2008 we hosted the Southeastern Swimming clinic.  If you remember that picture of Southeastern Swimming I showed you.  Our little team hosts the Fall Meeting and Symposium every other year.  We go down to the beach or we run out a bunch of facilities.


2006 we had Mark Gangloff who was a gold medalist from I think 2000 or maybe 2004.  Dr. Alan Goldberg, I’m sure some of you are familiar with Alan?  He’s a sports psychologist; specializes in youth’s sports.  He’s spoken in a number of these clinics.  2008, we’ve hosted it again, Rowdy Gaines.  We had Genadijus Sokolovas come-in and Dave Thomas.  And now we’re currently preparing for the 2010 Symposium.  We have Ryan Lochte coming in.  We have Bryan Karkoska who is the strength coach for the Auburn swim team, and Carrie McCambridge who is the trainer NCAA Female Trainer of the year coming in and Sue Anderson from USA Swimming.  I don’t even know if Sue is in here.  She said she was coming.  But Sue said, Sue is coming down to talk to the parents, about are you a great swimming parent?


Okay so there are some pictures of the 2006 SES Meeting.  There is Mark Gangloff, Dr. Goldberg on the right out of the screen.  And then of course, we had a huge banquet and a dance at the end for the kids.  2008 there is Rowdy in there are a mass of kids, he’s in there somewhere.  Where are you Rowdy?  Well he’s in there somewhere – oh, he’s right there, right there; the only bald guy in there.  Down there is Genadijus.  Genadijus, if you are not familiar with him, he was the Director of (I want to say) Physiology and Research—some big title—at USA Swimming for like 10 years.  Dave Thomas is the Southern Zone’s sports consultant; he spoke to the parents, did a four hour presentation.  Told the parents where it was at.  And then you can see down the lower-right-hand corner, Rowdy and a bunch, couple of our coaches, everybody is all excited.  He signs autographs for an hour you can take as many pictures as you can snap.  He’s just this great guy.


Genadijus developed a machine that measures force versus velocity.  And it’s a wire that attaches to a belt, goes into the machine and for every stroke you take it measures your exact force and it’s very, very precise and then of course they measure how fast you are going so they can tell graph how much force you are putting into the water versus how much velocity you are getting out of your force.  And then he also does a side view of your swimming, so it looks at your stroke and whilst looking at your stroke it’s telling you on a graph how much force you are getting out of every millimeter of your stroke.  So he had to quit coaching — actually quit USA Swimming because he was making — he had so much demand from all the International Swimming Federations come over and do work for them that he had to stop working for USA Swimming because he was getting too rich.  Working for all these other people.  He’ll do it for your team if you give him a call.  But it’s tremendous information.


This is the web page we have for the upcoming Swimposium that we are putting on 2010.  We notice that the Obama say, “Come on down the weather is perfect, the beach is sugar white and the water is fine”, that’s because we had that oil spill. Well, let me tell you, we bid on this back in like a year ago and we planned and got everything set up and the next thing we know we’ve got like 10 million gallons of oil every day going into the Gulf of Mexico.  Big tar balls coming up down the orange beach and gulf shores and occasional waves of brown waves coming in.  But you know, we are just blessed that it worked out.  I mean, I had to hold off to the last minute to decide where I was going to hold this.  I was going to have to hold it off the beach because that stuff stinks and nobody wants to look at dead birds and stuff like that.


But anyway the beach is – the Swimming Advisory has been lifted for the last — about the last month and a half, so everything looks great and if you have ever been down in all part of the country in October, it is spectacular on the beach.  So we’ve got Ryan Lochte coming in and all the other people who I mentioned.  Our traditions, we have a nutrition table at our — for our team or got our meets.  We have a tent, everybody has a team tent.  But we have a team tent with a team table.  And on that table the parents bring in breakfast and lunch and we want to — it’s kind of like the Halloween practice.  You don’t want to give up, you don’t want the kids to just go to the snack bar.


So we’re going to at least make an enough to try to get some good there food for them.  I had one guy bring in a box of donuts for breakfast the one time.  He ran into some serious problems with me.  I was like, “Who brought the donuts?”  And he was all proud of himself, “I did.”  And I said, “Get them out of here”.  So anyway, but we are just trying to emphasize to the kids to do things right. So I don’t have many pictures of that.  We try to emphasize stable energy sources and fluids.  Oops didn’t mean to go backwards.  I am going to go back to that real quick.  Our in house meet awards; after every meet I always do what is called a competition review and I’ve been doing this for about 25 years and basically what I do I just highlight every achievement that every swimmer makes.  So this is something you can do with a small team.  If you have got 400 kids, I would never even try.  When you have small group, you go to a meet with 50 kids, it’s achievable.  So I do this and I’m going to show you what it’s like.  We also do improvement awards or improvement ribbons after every meet; participant ribbons and they also get team record pins.  Okay, this is our competition review.  Unfortunately this is not centered on the screen, I don’t know why.  Anyway our competition review this is from our Short Course Championship meet in 2010 which by the way we won the Small Team division.  That’s the third time we won the Small Team division.  Because our team was big and so they have a Large-Team champion, Mid-Size Team champion and Small Team.  Small Team you have less than 15 kids in the meet than in that category which is most of the teams in the meet are less than 15 kids.


But anyway, so what I … you can see there what I’ve done is kind of done highlights for kids who have broke team records.  You can see their names highlighted and italicized and then I put the information.  You can see if they do an improved motivational time standard they get highlighted if they do a personal best time they get highlighted.  Now I send this out to every family on the team online.  Send it out to all of our advertisers.  Send it out to all their schools.  I have a little… I have an address book on AOL, I have all their schools listed on there and I have to get some of the secretaries, some of the parents have worked it into where they will forward it to their teachers.  So that way the teachers see them in school and say, “Hey I saw you, you did really good the last meet.”  They don’t know what they did, they just know that their name was on there, and that’s all the kid needs to hear.  Their teacher thinks they did good.  We also sent these out to all the local government representatives all the towns, Spanish Fort, Daphne, Fairhope.  We sent it out to the Baldwin County Commission.  All the Commissioners I have got them all on the mailing list.  I send that link out to them.  I send the link and it’s up to them whether they click on it or not.  So sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.  I’ve only really gotten two or three responses because they are pretty busy people I guess.  But I only got two or three people write me back and say, “Hey good job, congratulations to the kids”, that kind of thing.  But the main thing is I want them to know I’m aware of them and I want to be visible to those people.  Because you never know when you are going to need them.


This is a hard copy that we send home and that’s the exact same thing you just saw except it’s hard copy and you see we’ve got little stickers on there.  Little cheer word stickers.  We do that for the 12 and unders and sometimes we do it for the 13 and overs if it’s a real special meet.  But we send those, home also.  Now I’ve been sending hard copies home since before computers and I had talked Facebook with a mom whose kid I coached back in the late ‘80s and she said, “I still have all of Matthew’s competition reviews in a scrapbook”.  So glory never dies.  So they still look at it.  There’s the ribbons that we give out after every meet.  They do a best time they get a ribbon.  If they do an improved time stand they get a ribbon.  They don’t get anything, anything at all; they get a super swimmer ribbon.


Our awards programs that we do, we do twice a year.  Most teams do them once a year; we do them twice a year.  Short course and long course, I give towels.  I started the first time we went to a championship meet and I ended up with like four kids going so I went and bought some towels and had them embroidered with their names on and TNT swimming and because I wanted them to have something special.  And like three or four years later we had like 25 kids go to championship meet and I am still buying towels.  So it got a little bit expensive, but this come back down to, last year we had 14 kids and so it’s not as expensive.  But we have a parent on our team who does embroidery and if you have a parent on your team who does embroidery it is great because she will just take those towels and do all the stuff on them.


And I give her a break on fundraising.  She doesn’t have to do any fundraising for our team that’s for fundraising right there and she only has to do it twice a year.  She does towels, caps, shirts.  She did this.  She does everything, she’s great!  So we also do patches, t-shirts, goody bags for championships and then we do general membership trophies twice a year for short course and long course.  I don’t know if that’s good or bad I just know that’s what we do.  These are the pictures of the towels.  They are always in team colours.  This particular year was yellow and those are the patches.  There are some black ones with membership trophies.  There are some kids with the red ones and then on 2008 down below the Olympic year we gave them American flag towels because it was an Olympic year.  That is our team t-shirt from the last championships.  Everybody does these names of the kids and the meet plus your supporters.


Okay publicity.  Again the competition reviews are good publicity, I just went over those, sent them to everybody family sponsors, schools, local state reps.  We are not about like about sending online to families as they get to send them to the grandparents and to the uncles and the aunts and everybody in the family can stay in touch.  They read their kid’s name.  They may not know a lot about swimming, but they see the name.  They see they’ve got a double A or triple A or quad A time and they got a best time or broke a team record.  Just kind of keeps them in touch and then, because to me, the kids want recognition and so if an uncle or an aunt says, “Hey I saw you look really good at the last swim meet”.  “Hey somebody is paying attention”.  So I think that is important.  Our newspaper articles, everything and anything we do, everything I showed you today, goes in the newspapers.  Now you might say, “Right, how do you do that?”  Well we’re in a small market and the mobile register puts out a paper that on our side of the bay they also include what is called the Baldwin Edition.  It’s a special edition that goes in the paper and that edition … I mean you send them anything and they are going to put it in.  We’ve been to 88 meets and I’ve done 88 articles and every one of them has gone in the paper and every one of them has got a picture.  We also put in articles about swimmer highlights, the special events we do, they all go in the paper.  Everything I showed you goes in the paper and the year end review, which I’m going to show you next, is something… it’s kind of a… at the end of every year I kind of put everything we’ve done on a web page, send it out to the families.  Post it on our website and it’s just like a, I hate to say this, but it’s like a brag sheet.  And every team should do this.  Every team should be proud of what they do and put the information out there for people to see.  It’s great advertising.  This is our year review from 2009 just all of our highlights.  Every red underlined thing you see on there, is a link.  It goes to that page so as people read it they can click and go to the page and see all the different things that we do.  Of course this goes to everybody and anybody I can get it to.  These are some of the newspaper articles. There is our competitions review from 2007 including the team picture; article about our 8 and under boys and girls winning the South District Championship Meet.  Just the … article about a meet, any meet.  Just had our first long course meets; we did an article on that.


Now I’m going to tell you something, I like to write the articles myself because if you have ever been interviewed by a reporter, they never get it right, especially about swimming.  I mean it’s terrible, they don’t have a clue.  So I write everything and I put… I get the information out the way how I want it.  And in this case, now get this, this kid does a time at Zones, finishes first in the Nation in the 11-12 boys 100 fly this year, does a time that is like 19th all time top 100.  So I send a new article.  Look at what I get as a headline;  I didn’t write the headline.  For this you think he did a time to qualify top-20 in the nation.  Well in reality he was first in the nation and 19th all time.  But this is what I ended-up getting.  I opened it and I was like, “No!”


Anyway that would be an example of a highlight on a swimmer and of course I had to put this in.  We got a picture in Swimming World Magazine one year and so that went in the paper as our holiday camp went in, Lazy River Race went in, Halloween practice goes in, Mardi Gras practice goes in.  I hire an assistant coach, it goes in.  And finally our website, I do the website.  It was never my intention to do the website, but when we first started, all of our parents like, “Everybody has a website, we need to have a website”.  And I said, “Well who does websites?”  Nobody did websites so I went to this, I found a company that has a real easy website to do and learned how to do it.  So I liked doing the website.  I think if you have a small enough programme and so I never coached a really big programme. So I wouldn’t know, but it seems to me that if you coach a small programme you can control all the information that your people are reading and more importantly what other people are reading because other people are looking too.  That is a great source of advertising.  Other than word of mouth it’s your best source to promote your programme.  So to me it’s just been a lot of fun to do it.  I mean there have been days when I didn’t even want to leave the computer to go to practice because I was having so much fun with it.  But there are also days when I don’t want to look at the computer at all.


Anyway, I’m going to show you some pages from our website and I just thought I would.  This is our home page.  See we’ve got the main four links up in the left-hand corner.  The YMCA link; the link to our advertiser’s page.  Although our advertisers are, part of our fundraising if people advertise it on our website, I make a page with their logo and if you click the logo it goes to their website.  The one to South Eastern Swimming and one to USA Swimming, we are highlighting the Ryan Lochte Swim Clinic this month.  Usually in that space I have the advertiser of the month.  Oops my bad… what did I do?  Yeah, and then if you go down the left hand column, just things, “How you join our team” a little bit about our history, our training programmes.  Have our parent handbook linked up there and our information for our team parental down below that, is meet information.  If you click this picture, which I’m particularly proud of, I took this picture in our first year and if you look at the shadow it spells TNT.  We didn’t intend to have a shadow that said TNT.  The kids were just making the letters TNT.  But it’s pretty cool.


If you click that it takes you to our year end review so you get to read about what we did.  And then our main eight links for training programmes; that thing about our coaches, meet schedule, meet results, list of our best time, short course and long course, team records.  Our pics page was as pretty extensive.  One time I lost the website and they had to … the company that hosts us had to reload it all.  And this lady was on the phone and after about 10 minutes she says, “I think this is a record”.  We’ve got so many pictures on it.  We’ve got pictures going back from our very first practice that we ever had.  I am just into nostalgia I guess.  And then any updates we have are listed there.  So people have told me the website is easy to navigate and it’s informational.  And you know what, I know a lot of websites and I’m lost.  This is easy to navigate, you can find what you want and it’s not complicated at all.


So that’s the description of our training programmes.  Our pics page you can see all the links.  It goes all the way down to 2004.  So I couldn’t get the whole thing on there when I did the screen shot.  Our best times, happy swimmer , short course and long course links. This is one of our most important page, the parent perspective page, which, if you ask me, that’s a big part of our job is to give the parents perspective.  I can give them a lot of perspective now at age 54 that I couldn’t give them when I was 24 and now I’ve got the guts to do it because when you are 24 they are all older than you.  When you are 54 you are a lot older than them; so just a little perspective right there.  But we have some great articles on there.  The one I think that is most important is the study done by Genadijus Sokolovas called The Elite 100, I don’t know how many of you have ever seen it.  But it is a tremendous article.  Gives you a tremendous amount of perspective and it basically is a long term – it’s just a study of the all time top 100 in every age group.  And they compare for instance how many 10 and under boys in 100 Butterfly who are ranked in the all time top 100 as 10 year olds were ranked in the 17-18 year olds in the 100 Butterfly.


It’s amazing, it’s like less than 10% and the ones that are ranked whose names appeared in 10 and under and names appeared as 17-18, they are not even ranked in the same events, the ones that are still ranked.  And I guess the interesting thing about that is that… and Rowdy Gaines told me this and you can correct me if I’m wrong but there has never been 10 and under national record holder that ever made an Olympic team.  Rowdy Gaines told me that.  I could be wrong.  But if you can dig one up let me know.  I don’t think he held a national record as a 10 year old.


Who? Had 10 and under national record. Well that’s 11, 12.  I’m talking 10, 11.  If you find one you can email me but anyway if I’m wrong I’m blaming it on Rowdy.  Of course he told me that in 2007 something might have changed between now and then.  But anyway I’ve got a lot of information on there for parents, I’ve got a link to Alan Goldberg’s site.  He has like 20 question quiz.  “Are you a good swim parent?”  And if you take the test and you fail, he’s got a bunch of different responses that are pretty funny.  But the last response is like, if you get a really high score he says, “You should be teaching this course”.  I’ve got nutrition on there and various things.  You see there, a little girl saying, “I’m thirsty”. And that is a link that goes to Athlete Hydration. He says, “Oh I’d better read up on Athlete Hydration”.  So, you just click on that and it goes to an article about Athlete Hydration anyway.  So, I think that’s the end.  It is.  So why spend the time and energy?  Well you know what for me it’s fun.  I just enjoy being productive and I work real hard and I just enjoy it and I’m sure everybody here does too.  So to me it’s just how I choose to spend my life and my time.


Balloon vender logic; when I was a kid, I lived in DC and on the weekends after practice we used to go down to the Bethesda and we used to go down to Cordell Avenue.  There was a radio station called WHFS and they were up on this big building and at the bottom of the building was a deli called the Psychadeli.  And we would wait in there for the DJs to come in.  The DJs would come in and they would get their lunch and we would be waiting for them with our play lists.  And as soon as the DJ came in and we’d run over and give them our play list and he’d go up and we’d listen to the rest of the day to see if they played our music.  But there was a balloon vender outside that deli and he would hock balloons all day.  And this is what he would say.  He would say, “Come buy a balloon.  Make the children happy.  When the children are happy the mother’s are happy.  And when the mother’s are happy everybody’s happy”.


And that is how he sold his balloons and you know what, swimming, coaching, whatever you do in life, it’s always something to remember.  Someone at an ASCA Clinic said, I was at an ASCA Clinic once and I heard and I don’t know who to attribute this to and I wish I did because I would give him credit.  But it’s always stayed in my mind and some of you may have already heard this, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.  And I think that you can look at somebody and talk and talk and talk to them but unless you have got some cred., that you are showing that you are willing to work hard at what you do and you’re committed to what you do, I think that it carries some weight.  So at least people know that I’m committed and I work hard.  Again it’s fun and rewarding for me to run this kind of programme.  As much as I love training and I love working on mechanics, I’m totally into it.  Sometimes doing all the sort of stuff gets in the way and I’d rather be spending time doing… downloading video of stroke technique and things like that which I do, but that’s not why I’m here.


But it’s still fun and rewarding.  It’s really rewarding when you are at a fall picnic and you’ve got 150 people there and everybody is having a great time and you just know that you are doing something good for your team.  Again it’s not all fun and games, our kids work hard.  I could relate some of the sets I’ve seen your kids do, they’ve got a lot of guts and they wok really hard.  But I’m not here to talk about that either.  So I can just tell you it’s not all fun and games.  As much fun as you saw our team having today it’s just, it’s not all fun and games and this is a way to help people work really hard and still have a good time.  And it helps make your team really, really special.  So before I sign off, I just want to say this, that I could not do this kind of work without the love and support of my wife, Mary Beth.  I don’t know how many of you are married, but you are coaching can could be a rough road when you are married.  Because it takes a lot of time and you are in personal relationships with so many people.  Unless you have got a really strong spouse who can support what you are doing and believe in what you do, it makes a big difference.  And some wives pray their husband’s get out of coaching, my wife prays everyday that I’ll be the coach I can be.  So I want to thank Mary Beth and my daughter Adele for their love and support and thank you for spending your time with me today.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sponsorship & Partnerships

Official Sponsors and Partners of the American Swimming Coaches Association

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe and get the latest Swimming Coach news