(Moderator) Welcome to the panel discussion this morning. This is the end of the high school track at the ASCA Clinic this year. I want to re-introduce our panel members to you this morning: John Casadia from Vineland High School in New Jersey, Marty Keating from Rochester, New York, Dick Shoulberg from Philadelphia, and Lanny Landtroop from Kingwood, Texas. We have some basic topics on taper. I will give a topic and then we will just ask that we go down the line – if we can start with Lanny and just give your thoughts on these topics and if your thoughts have already been covered, feel free to pass it to the next participant.
(Moderator) Lanny, Question #1: This is the first topic and there are several subtopics – I am going to say them all, maybe each one of you would like to cover one of them. We are talking about the length of taper based on the length of the season, based on sprinters versus distance swimmers, based on girls versus boys, based on age or physical maturity.
(Landtroop) Yes. (laughter) Based on your situation, as I said earlier. In Texas we have a District meet and a certain number from District go to Regionals – it is not based on time at all, and from the Regional meet the winner goes. We have 8 regions. The winner from each region goes and then the next 8 best times. No more than 4 deep from one region. (We like to complicate things.) If you don’t do it at the Regional meet – you don’t go to the State meet. I think your taper is based on your circumstance a great deal. There are certain kids that you have to have at the Regional meet ready to go – I mean, they have GOT to be – that is their meet or their season is over, and then there are other kids that you hopefully as a coach are tuned into well enough that you can swim – more – give them a day and a half rest or something and get them through the Regional meet and get them to State meet, and then we have a two week period between the Regional meet and the State meet. I think classically three weeks – a three week taper – I think, you know, I have always been – gosh – you guys that are new coaches, I feel – still think it would be a great idea for you to go back and look at Doc Counsilman’s work from way back in the ‘60’s. I know when I first started coaching – that was my bible and that guy was so far ahead of his time, and I started using that basic kind of a philosophical concept about training and, you know, doing overdistance work and doing transition phases in the dual meet season and those kinds of things, and that classic taper, and I always looked at taper as a time of “take away”. You go through and you do all this training and you are doing all these different venues and then as you move toward your big meet you begin to take either repetitions away or you take away some of the – part of the weight training or you take away something that you are doing and you take away and let that body become fully recovered for that taper. Here is the expert:
(Shoulberg) Well, I have to look at – just like all of us – we have different qualities and different levels of athletes within our program and you want each one to walk away at their end-of-the-season meet successful. What I do in taper I think for the group is I take away time – maintain intensity, but the best part of taper in the Philadelphia area in February is when my middle school team is done, I pick up six lanes for one more hour so the athletes go home in daylight and they love it, and so if we are going 2 hours and 10 minutes when we start to kick into taper, we go like 1 hour and 50 minutes, and then I cut back and I keep the intensity there and the more muscular athlete I decrease the intensity. I like the kids to go home as a team together so my sprinters come in later. My distance kids get the least amount of rest. They start first – no one likes to work when the rest of the team went home so I have my kids that are sprinters – they will go to the library for like an hour and they study, and then they will come in the water for an hour and the distance kids will leave with them. I think it is really important psychologically to have them feel like a team, and if half the team leaves and you still have to stay and work – that is no fun. Intensity: decrease the time is my key.
(Keating) I tend to – I agree with everything they’ve said. I tend to though, think about taper in tapering the body. If I have a pudgy little boy that is young then I don’t give him much of a rest – maybe a week. If I have a thin little girl – like I have a little girl that is a junior, but she is 5’2” and weighs about 100 pounds and we don’t taper her a lot, and she tends to do very, very well when we let her go. I have some big muscular girls – some girls that are very strong, very muscular, and we taper them a lot more – maybe two and a half weeks. On the other hand we have some big strong boys that will taper four weeks and these are 17-, 16-year old high schoolers, but they are muscular and they have that natural strength so we look more at the body than we do any other thing. If you guys – the young coaches… – a little thing that I learned the hard way – because you change your programs from year to year, you have a tendency to change your programs and I think it is important as you learn new stuff, as you work on new stuff that you do change. You can’t use the same taper. I have used the saw-tooth taper, I have used the drop taper, I have used the gradual taper – we have used this taper, that taper and the whole shot and I have used some tapers two years in a row where I had like a team that were sophomores and juniors and they did very well and then I used the same taper the next year, but I changed my program about 30-40% and didn’t realize that – I mean, I knew that I had changed my program, but I didn’t really think it mattered that much. I used the same taper on the kids that I did the year before and we just – we were lousy. We were just flat. Now that team is Juniors and Seniors and they have grown – they have gotten bigger and stronger and they have worked harder than they ever did, and they just swam lousy because the taper did not fit the work that they did, so you have to really be cognizant of what you are doing and you taper your kids on the work that you are doing, not on some what do you call it? – a menu or a little guided type of thing that you have, “Well – it’s taper time so we do this every year and that is the way it is going to go.” I know when Dick has his kids – he will look at certain kids and he will say, “Well – this kid has been working really hard this year so, yeah, we are only going to keep him for 40 minutes for dry land, but we are going to let him rest up a little bit more in between”, you know, and that sort of thing, and you look at that sort of thing and you talk to the kids – you get real close to them and you talk to them and you say, “How are you feeling today?” “I feel good.” “What does that mean?” “Well, my stroke feels light, I am relaxed, I don’t have any stress, my homework is getting done you know,” blah-blah-blah and that is when you are really communicating with them. You give a little pat on the back and they are happy and I am happy and they are going to swim fast and you want to can it because maybe they are doing a pace set and they are really fired up today and you say – “Oh God – I wish I could just can this and let it go in a week”, but you know, you just have to be careful and you have to really work close with them and look at your individuals – I think.
(Casadia) – Thank you. I am going to echo what the coaches before me have said and I think what you are getting here is you have to suit your taper to your program. You cannot plug in a taper that any of us use because it won’t work. What works in our program may not work in yours, but the one thing that I have found at the high school level is that high school swimmers are extremely organized and they like to know what is going on. They like a plan so about a month or so out we devise a tentative plan so that they know the direction that we are going. Again, we have morning and afternoon practices – you may not so this plan may not fit you, but the point is – develop a plan and give it to the kids, but always put that big word there – tentative – because your job as a coach is to be sensitive to the needs of your team. You have got to know your swimmers and I am very fortunate because all of our high school kids train just with us so I know them. I know what they are doing. If they are in a club and they are showing up for your meets – you need to work hand-in-hand with that club coach and you need to know what they are doing and your plan needs to incorporate your club coach. I don’t know if we are going to get into it, but there are a lot of other parts to a taper – both physiologically and psychologically and maybe we will get into those a little bit later on.
(Moderator) The next topic is Taper and re-taper. For example from sectionals or regionals and then a one- or two-week break until the state meet, and related questions for teams that are training for District as their big meet, if they do make the state meet – what does the week of practice after districts – before state – look like if all the athletes were fully tapered for districts?
(Shoulberg) Well, I would never let all the athletes do the same thing. If I have a group of athletes who I know are going to be able to swim through whatever the next step is in front of them – be it a sectional meet or a state meet or whatever – you have to know your team and you have to individualize taper and if you have everyone going to the district meet that will step you to your state meet and you back down your best kids to take care of the whole group you have hurt everybody, so I think it is critical that you set up a plan and the athletes buy into it and know that the expectation from them is to go through districts, do a good job and then win states. The guy next to you – two lanes over from you – I am really happy he even made a district cut so that is how I look at it.
(Landtroop) The key words there I think were “they buy into it.” I think at that point – I think physiologists have shown us that you can hold a taper physiologically for about three weeks – generally – I mean, there are going to be greater or lesser, but that is the general accepted norm, I think. So, to me the key is the fact that they mentally are prepared to understand what is going on and to know that whatever it is that you are doing is going to be successful – whatever it is. If you tell them to go home and sleep – they are convinced that is going to be successful and I think that the mental aspects of training take over there. The orientation toward understanding that controlling my talk and one of the things during taper we hand out – I have this little thing that discusses things that happen to you during taper like you know, you are bouncing off the walls in the classroom instead of trying to sleep, but we have our main workout in the morning and so the kids go to class like this half the time and the teachers will tell me – “Boy, they are bouncing off the walls” and so I have a little thing that I hand out and it says you know, you are going to be bouncing off the walls – all the different kinds of physiological manifestations that they are going to experience and I try to help them understand – everybody is not going to have all of these, but you are probably going to have some of them and you may not even identify them, but I will try to point them out as oops – look – there, see? – you are doing that and all of those things – they begin to believe then and that is so important at that point. I mean, you have a week there and if they have been fully tapered they can go again. I mean, these guys here this weekend are going what, five days? – Five days? That is a long time – and I think – and look how well they are swimming – the swimming is better than I expected for it to be this close to the Olympics – I mean, because they were fully rested for the Olympics and so I think the swimming is a lot better. I think the physiological component is really important, but I think the mental component and for them to buy in and understand this is going – I am going to go and do what it takes. I am prepared. I am ready.
(Keating) I agree – New York State – we used to have a real screwed up situation. Up until 1983 my section – New York State – we do not have a true state meet. I know some places have a state cutoff time and anybody who makes that plus district champions automatically goes and relays and that sort of thing. In New York State we are divided into 12 geographic areas and each area is called a section and the sectional champion automatically goes to the intersectional meet and the next – we have a state meet time which is the 8th place time – excuse me – the 16th place time – averaged over a three year period and then that is a slower time and anybody who makes that time can go and then we have a magic time which is the 8th place time averaged over three years and anybody who makes that time can go, but there is not a State Champion – Germantown is not the New York State Champion. Pittsford is not the New York State Champion – it is Section V which is 155 schools and the best swimmers from those 155 schools get together and they score the most points. There is no award or anything like that – you just – you got Section V won – got the most points so they are the intersectional winner. We as coaches say it is a state meet. Our section in girls was the only section that swam in the spring and the rest of the state swam in the fall so our kids qualified in June for a meet in November and as a coach – I couldn’t require them to swim all summer or all fall – they – some did – some didn’t, so you had a relay where you had three of those kids in your club and another kid just never swam year around and the kid showed up at the state meet on the bus – ready – I am ready to go and she was maybe 55 during the spring and now she is going a minute point and your other three girls were going 55’s and now they are going 53’s so it is just hit and miss. Well, that was a real terrible situation. We now have a situation where the state meet can be one week after our sectional meet or it can be two weeks. Last year it was two weeks after the sectional meet so you had to hold your taper for two extra weeks. This year it is one week after the (sectional) meet, which you know, I like better. I think you can bring up the yardage if it was a week after; I tend to just keep them down and pray. If it is two weeks I will bring the yardage back up to about half of what they were doing the last week and then bring it back down and pray.
(Shoulberg) – So, in other words, there is a lot of prayer in your coaching?
(Keating) – a lot of prayer and praise in my coaching.
(Casadia) A couple of other things that you might want to consider if you have got big meets – you have to know in the case if it is a team type of thing, you have to know your opponents and maybe rest the swimmers that are in key events against that particular opponent and maybe shave those youngsters in that particular meet and save others for other meets or you could maybe just shave arms – just shave legs – maybe just clip – these are all possible options along the way. You can cut out weight training for some, maybe cut out AM practice for your sprinters while you have your distance swimmers still coming in and that is the type of program that we use in New Jersey because we do have a state champion based on dual meet competition over about 2 ½ weeks so you have to again – all the coaches here – you have to have a plan and in order to have a plan you have to know your kids so you have to know what they are doing – how they are doing in school – big test exam time comes in February and you want to eliminate, I would think, as much stress as you can and then go from there.
(Landtroop) One more thing – I think in the question that you asked about having just a week there – you would have had to have done this all year, but we do something called precision swimming and this comes from what Popov did and many of you have read about that; people would witness his training and he may swim so slowly and precisely for as long as an hour – repeats or straight swimming or whatever, but you try to go as slowly and as precisely as you possibly can without losing body position and all you are doing then is mind mapping and you do that in conjunction with some speed work – the slowest possible maintaining body position and then some speed work to take that and translate that into the actual race types – you know, 12 1/2’s, 2/3’s (of a lap) or whatever, and I think in that situation that would be, could be, very beneficial to you and depending on the events they are swimming of course, but I just thought about that precision and we do some of that all year long and I think you would have had to have done that so they could – that is an acquired skill. It is difficult for kids to go as slowly as they possibly can without losing body position to discover where that is, but it would really be beneficial at that time under those circumstances, I think.
(Casadia) One other thing – the youngsters that you shave – that you are going to need later on as well for the practices – I am sure a lot of you use the panty hose and just cut out the feet – have them wear the panty hose – that helps a little bit after they have shaved and then let them wear them for two or three days. I am dealing basically with our girls team and that has helped us out quite a bit so that we can hold onto those youngsters who have shaved and we are going to need them in a week or two.
(Moderator) A number of seasons go through December and a lot of states have a mandated moratorium – usually about 5 days where you cannot practice or do anything with your teams. How do you address that situation without a rest kicking in?
(Shoulberg) I do not have that problem.
(Casadia) Neither do we.
(Shoulberg) If I want to play the violin at the Academy of Music I do it every day and no one is going to tell me I can’t and I want kids to reach for excellence and so I would never allow that in my program. I don’t care what the state says. Maybe Sunday – I shouldn’t have been so harsh.
(Landtroop) I am afraid if I had that attitude I would be a lot lighter. I would not have had food on the table. In Texas, that is exactly what we have. We have 5 days moratorium – at least a 5-day moratorium at Christmas. It has to be either side of Christmas – Christmas day and so we try to have our program where we have a big meet right before Christmas and it is kind of a – it makes it two mini seasons and we try to go up – have a really great experience at that last meet and then come back and we usually have a bout a week or week and a half before school starts and get back in tune again. I mean, it is either that or find another job.
(Audience question) So are your kids completely out of the water for five days?
(Landtroop) Probably half of them. Some of them swim club.
(Audience follow-up) Isn’t that unfair then for your non-club kids to not – you see, the club kids have a lot of advantages anyway, so you are saying your non-club kids get nothing?
(Landtroop) Have you ever dealt with bureaucrats? They are not interested in fair.
(Casadia) You have a rule so you have to obey it. What are you going to do?
(Audience follow-up) Well, I get the club coaches to offer a program for the non-club kids during blackout and that seems to work in Colorado.
(Landtroop) I am not sure – if that was ever questioned in Texas I think it would be declared illegal, if they were not regular members of that club. They – in our school district – they are not even allowed – the clubs use our pool, but the pool is closed for those five days. They have to find another place to train.
(Casadia) I think the question is – you have the rule – how do you deal with it? Whether you like it or not you have to deal with it – so how do you deal with it? You have to be as creative as you possibly can. If your youngsters are not involved in a US swim program where they can go swim – they cannot go to the local Y to train on their own? Then what do you do? Let’s see – give them stretch cords. Give them an ABS set to do. Is it the best way to solve the problem? No, but you have to do the best under the circumstances that you have. It is just like going to a pool that is maybe less than ideal. You have to deal with it and how do you deal with it? I would be having them do a lot of ABS exercises. I would be over at Dick’s place finding out all of his weight training methods and the special things that he can do and I would be handing a lot of things out and I don’t know if you are allowed to issue equipment during that period of time, but give them wheelies – we have little wheelies that they can do up and down the back yard or out on the sidewalk. I’d give them stretch cords. Have them do breathing sets with stretch cords. Five strokes on a breath – seven strokes and a breath, but you have to deal with the rule and that would be one of the ways that I would try to deal with the rule? Do you like it? – NO – but you have to deal with it – so how do you deal with it? That is your job – find a way to deal with it. Find a way – not to circumvent the rule, but to get the best out of your kids when they come back. Maybe run – have them run – whatever. I don’t have that problem so it would take me some time to think about what I would do.
(Landtroop) One more quickie – when George Blanda was about 48 years old and was playing for the Oakland Raiders a sports writer came up and asked him – “Golly – 48 years old – how do you get back in shape every year?” And he looked at him and he grinned and he said – “The secret is – you just don’t get out of shape”, and if you sold that to your kids in your program, I mean, I don’t see mine in the summer – because I coach high school only, but I try to sell them on the fact that it is very, very important that they do that. Again, it is that self-reliance thing about “this is what is – if this is where you want to go – this is what it is going to take to get there, and there are going to be a lot of people that can help you get there” – there are a lot of people that you know, we look at these champions and say – “This coach produced that champion?” Nahh – the person who taught that person to swim – their parents – I mean, all the activities – everything that they have had has gone into that person and hopefully we have done something positive to help them as well, but remember – I tell them the story about George Blanda and they don’t even know who that really is now – it was a good story a long time ago, but that is the secret. You just don’t get out of shape – you just don’t get out of shape. You may lose a little fine-tuning there in that week, but you still do your conditioning – your basic conditioning.
(Moderator) The next topic is on weight training – when to reduce it or stop it, and specifically – how to make adjustments for – again – the gender differences, physical maturity and event specific issues.
(Keating) I have a tendency to work my girls harder than I do the boys. The girls sometimes look at what the boys are doing and they will say – “Oh, what wusses, coach – I can’t believe you are doing this”, but I tell them – I say – “They don’t recover as fast. They have 20% more muscle mass than you do and you guys recover a lot faster so you can work harder and that is the way it is.” I didn’t do it – it was done by somebody bigger than me so that is what you have to do. We work – I don’t lift weights. My team does not – my school has a weight room and my team does not go in the weight room. We have not been in the weight room in 20 years. Twenty years ago we became a weight lifting club. I mean, if I had an hour to train and it was a blizzard or something and I had an hour to train and I had an hour to get in the water or an hour to swim – I mean, an hour to swim or an hour to go in the weight room – I would have gone in the weight room for an hour and would not have swum. Now I think I really truly believe swimming is a skill sport and you have to swim and I haven’t – my kids haven’t lifted a weight like U(niversal)-gym or Nautilus or whatever this stuff is now, we have not done that in over 20 years. We use medicine balls, we use body weight, we climb ropes, we do dips, we do chin-ups, we do push-ups and sit-ups and burpies and all kinds of things, but we do not lift weights and our kids are very strong and they look powerful. You take my girls and put them up against XYZ Team – we were just looking the other day – my assistant coach said – “Look at that medley relay – look at the other medley relay – Holy mackerel!” and it looks like women swimming against little girls, but they work hard at that and they sweat and they are sore and they are tired, but that is what we do and we don’t lift weights. We don’t go in the weight room.
(Shoulberg) One thing that we do during taper to maintain strength in the water – we do buckets three days a week and it is a white plastic 5 gallon bucket with a rope here and then a rope here and then a football web-belt goes around their waist – I have found that if I do the buckets at a longer amount of time at a higher intensity – I maintain water strength and I decrease some land training, but the water strength is really critical and Dr. G. up at US Swimming said, “You know, I think you need to maintain the buckets longer”, and I found through trial and error – it works. If I take them off the buckets too soon they are not as good. If I keep them on the buckets longer they are better, and I like strength building in water more so than in the weight room. I allow them to go to the weight room two days a week just to see a different environment.
(Casadia) In our weight-training program we are fortunate to have the weight training room directly opposite the pool so it is easy access to us, but we also incorporate in weight training because we do a lot of free weights. We incorporate the ability to focus – the ability to concentrate – and breathing – breathing techniques in weight training are critical. Breathing techniques in swimming are critical and for those of you that were in the talk yesterday – we call our weight training room the dry pool training room – just to give it a different kind of a name. As far as when you go off of – if you are doing weight training, when do you go off of weight training was the question I think was – again, that depends on how long you have been into the weight training. We are very, very fortunate in our training program or our swim season is from November to March and we are not allowed to be with our athletes in the pool until November 15, except during summer recess so we have a weight training program throughout the summer where we want our swimmers to come in three nights a week. We get maybe 50% attendance and our goal is to be as strong as you can be by November 15 and after November 15 we are on a holding pattern. We also incorporate – (for those of you that may not have an interest in weight training) – we also do power yoga. We hire a lady once a week that comes in and does power yoga and power yoga is an absolutely marvelous thing for your athletes to become involved in. It teaches everything you want. It teaches balance. It teaches flexibility. It takes strength and you better be focused or you are going to fall on your face. We swear by power yoga and if you have someone in your Phys. Ed. Department that is into power yoga or you have someone in your community that is into power yoga – look into it. When we do back off – about three weeks out – from our weight program we then increase the ABS exercises that we do – maybe from 16 minutes to 20 minutes and we fine-tune dry land stuff. Dry land starts and so on and breathing techniques.
(Landtroop) We do go to what the football team calls the weight room. We call it the strength building room because we go there to build strength. I think dealing with high school kids – it is important – not just for their athleticism, but for their health to have resistive exercises. It is wonderful to see a young person come in as a freshman and leave as a senior and to be physically a different person. They would be anyway, but I think that is greatly enhanced by going to the strength building room. We back off – we begin backing off about three or four weeks – again depending on that individual and where their abilities levels are and things like that. We do a lot of exercises on the ladder – you know – we do some ab work on the ladder and those kinds of things and we start backing off from those kind of things that they have been building up and you know, I am kinds of simple minded – when something says taper – I think about this – I think it is a taper and so we taper things. We taper almost everything we do and it is just a gradual take-away, a gradual take-away program, but we do definitely – we go three times a week. Our weight room – we have all the athletic programs in the weight room and it is very crowded – but we have some Nautilus machines in there that hardly anyone uses but us, and so we are always able to get in there. We go three times a week, but we do start backing off from it about three weeks out from whatever big meet they have, but that is individualized.
(Shoulberg) I want to add one thing and the way that you did that – it lit a light or a light bulb – we tell the athletes if you are going to decrease your work you better decrease your calories. I think that is really critical that during (taper) – these kids are used to eating X-amount of calories a day – hopefully it is good choice calories, and then when you decrease the workload and they are home a half hour or 40 minutes earlier (because I decrease time), they go and they lift the refrigerator and they tilt it this way (gestures emptying the refrigerator into his mouth) and that is really – there goes the whole season, so… And we have an exercise physiologist that comes in eight times a year, unannounced, to do skinfolds and the kids don’t know and there is no set pattern, but I think nutrition and if you are trying to make people healthier, as coaches it is a good time to explain to them – we have a dietitian that comes in – again, volunteer community person – talk to the parents and the athletes because I hope my kids don’t go to the grocery store. I hope that is not one of their chores – sometimes it is, but we tell them the food around the outside of every supermarket is the best to buy and everything in the center you don’t need – that is what I go to.
(Landtroop) I think the thing I said earlier about the – that is very well taken – as I said earlier, if you can get them to buy in early that you are eating either to go faster or you are eating to go slower. It really – get into their conscience and that will help them again – take responsibility for that – are you eating to go faster or are you eating to go slower?
(Moderator) A lot of you may remember the TV show – “The A-Team.” The main character had a tag line in there – “I love it when a plan comes together” and I think, as coaches, we love it when a taper hits just right. Two related questions – what are indicators of more needed rest and the second question: if part way through the taper you find a swimmer is too fast and determine that he or she is going to be too far tapered by the end – what strategies work to delay hitting the taper too early or is it already too late?
(Casadia) What we do with our swimmers to gauge their recovery is take ten second pulse checks. We take it at rest for ten seconds and X 6 and that gives them a resting heart rate and then after sets we will have them do it two or three times to get an average and see how fast their heart rate drops – this is somewhat of an indicator as to where they are in their taper. That is one of the little things that you can do and it does a couple of things – you are changing – taper is a special time of the year – you want them to become more finely aware of their body or more finely tuned and more aware of their body rather and this is one way to do it and also – if they are taking their pulse during a long rest – they cant be yakking with the person next to them in their lane so that is another positive.
(Keating) We do something very similar to that. It is called “three pulse count”. We got this from Kushkin – Salnikov’s coach back in ’85 – down in Ft. Lauderdale. Basically what it is is, he said that you give them a set and you take the pulse exactly right after the set – as soon as they can get to the clock you get it and they take a quick 10 seconds and they take their pulse and then 30 seconds later you take it again for 10 seconds and then a minute after they finish you take it a third time. You add those three pulses up. If the (total) pulses are below 70 then it was an aerobic swim and they are aerobically fit. If the pulse (total) was between 70 and 90 – it was a mixed effort and they are good. The closer it is to 90 – the worse you know, I mean, it is not too good if it was 85 or 86. If they are above 90, send them home for two days and let them lay in bed. Most of my kids I find with that have a tendency to be around – anywhere from about 65 to 69 at the end of those three pulses and you know, the kid will finish and the pulse will be 30 and this is like early season. The pulse will be 30 and then the second time it will be 27 and the third time it will be 22 or something like that. As they get into their taper you will start seeing stuff like it is 28 or 27 on the first pulse. It is 21 or 22 on the second and it is 18 or 17 on the last, you know, that type of thing. And if they are irritable you know, you tell a kid, “Hey, that was a real good swim – you are coming along, I like that – how are you feeling?” And they are like, “%&* (grumble-mumble)”, or they are talking back or they are getting a little sassy – this evil (stuff), you know, that means they are sort of getting tired. That is the type of thing – they are still tired – they are still beat up and you want to give their bodies back to them so you have to lay off a little bit. Sometimes I call other coaches and they will say – kick them out of the pool for a day – find a way to get into an argument and just tell them, “You get out of here and I don’t want to see you back until Thursday”, you know, and it might be Tuesday – that is the way they do it. I have a tendency to sit and talk to my kids for 2 ½ hours and they are all sitting there going, “Why aren’t we swimming? What is he talking to us?” – because I know they are beat up so I am just – that is the way I give them rest.
(Shoulberg) I have to catch a plane, but I really appreciate speaking to NISCA and all the other coaches here, but swimming and coaching swimming is not open-heart surgery. Don’t make it too complicated. Enjoy it and your kids will swim a lot faster so again, thank you, but I have to run.
(Landtroop) In 1971 – I mentioned him earlier, Doc Counsilman gave a talk and I have made several clinic talks about it called “The X-Factor” about coaching and you need to – I think ASCA has in one of their magazines – they have a reprint of that. If you haven’t read it – you need to find it and you need to make a copy of it and you need to read it periodically. I was talking to an old battleworn coach just yesterday and he was saying that “You know, it is really getting so much more scientific” and he says it has changed a lot and I said, “Well what do you mean?” and he says it has gotten so much more scientific. Well I think you need to read “The X-Factor. Yes it has, it has gotten more scientific, but I think there is also an art to coaching because coaching is really a people business. We are dealing with people and people – the complexities and the range of complexities of people are just unbelievable and I operate and Marty – toward the end of his comments was talking about – I talk to my kids. I think during taper the communication has to open up much more so and if you have established the kind of relationship with the kids and how many doggone miles have you watched them swim? You know, you know what is going on with them. You feel like you really understand what is going on with them and I think that communication, and finding out how they are feeling, and really tuning in and getting that communication going, and trust your gut. Trust your gut. Watch them – talk to them – get a sense about what is going on and trust your gut. I mean, it is like you go to a big meet and who do you put on the relay? Who do you put on the relay? My gut tells me and it is right much more often than it is wrong and somebody says, “yeah, but what are the parents going to say?”
(Moderator) We have about 10 minutes left and I think at this point I would like to open this up to questions from the audience and when it gets time to cut it off I will say last question and then I have a couple of comments I would like to share with you before we close this and in advance – I would like to thank our panel members for their time and their resourcefulness in answering questions. If you have a question – we would like you please speak loudly. I may have to repeat it because we are trying to record this and let’s not make them 10-minute-answer questions – if you have something short and sweet I think that is what we are looking for up front – keep it simple.
Question: for your taper – tubing – I mean if you use it all year – the amount that you cut back or whatever, or do you maintain tubing in which strokes, or what people do you like to keep on the tubing?
Answers: (Landtroop) I dispense with it – I would do away with it during taper. It is a strength builder and if we haven’t built enough strength during the season when we get ready to taper – we are in bad shape.
(Keating) I have a tendency to go to it, but I tend to go to it more for (speed) assist than (swimming) against (it) and we use it right up until the day before the meet in some cases, but again – it is assisted. A friend of mine, Bill Boomer of the UofR – he had a contraption – I will never forget this as long as I live – it was the whole length of the pool and up in the wall – his pool must have been 60 foot high and he had this pulley system and a bucket with 100 pounds of lead in it and this thing could pull a kid down the pool in 7 seconds. I mean, the kid just – the kid would just lay out and he would let that bucket drop and the bucket would drop from about 40 feet in the air and it would boom and it would get the kid down the pool in like 7 seconds and I mean they had to clean up their stroke if they were going that fast and all you could see was white water. I don’t even think the kids could breathe – they had to hold their breath because I mean, it was like whoooo and that got me thinking – well okay I will do a lot of assisted with my surgical tubing and stuff and have the kids pull the other kids down the pool and things like that, but it really helps them clean up what they are doing because you know, they are trying to swim against this thing and there is this big swell of water that they are going against and it really does help them feel what they are doing wrong.
Question: (faint – difficult to hear) Yes – getting back to that question on taper – obviously, if you can give the kids more rest part way through the other sets and stuff, and you — the sets — make the adjustments if you feel they are resting too quickly or too soon, and if so, what strategies work for you in that case?
Answers: (Casadia) If you feel – again, it is an issue that you have to deal with, with your team. If you feel that you are over-resting them then maybe instead of – if you had planned – lets say a 300 broken at the 25 for 5 seconds – make it broken 50’s at the 10 seconds. I really go back to this particularly during taper – having to – you have to know how they look by observing them and you also have to know – get as much inside information as you can and I put a great deal of emphasis on the pulse count. That can tell you real quick where they are and someone earlier mentioned and I don’t really think we answered the question – different strokes. We mentioned of course, the distance people do not need as much stroke, but I really think that the breaststrokers need way more rest and I don’t really know why, but they need a lot more rest than let’s say the freestylers and the butterflyers and I don’t know why – maybe somebody else does, but I don’t know why they do, but we just give them more rest and again, if you try this pulse check thing I think you are going to find it is going to help you know where your kids are in their program, but just change the set from a 5 second interval to maybe add a 25 to a 10 second interval – then a 50 instead or maybe change the breathing pattern. Let’s say maybe you had them breathing every three, have them breathe every 5 or every 7.
(Keating) I would like to coattail on that – I think the breaststrokers need a lot more rest because it is a power oriented stroke and their body is all under the water. Their arms are recovering under the water – their feet are recovering under water and it takes a lot of effort and so their muscles – they are just broken down and I think they do. I was going to write this up about 15 years ago. I gave a breaststroker – my kid won the East Junior Nationals in 57 flat – a year and a half before he was a 1:02 breaststroker so in a year and a half he went from 1:02 to 57 flat and I tapered him for 49
days on 300 yards and every week he got faster and faster and faster and when he swam his 57 flat and won at Juniors up in Buffalo – I was 1200 miles away in Texas and we were communicating through the phone so I think they do need a lot of rest. I don’t know if they need 48 or 49 days, but they do need a lot of rest. The other thing is – there is that 72 hour thing I think I alluded to yesterday in the taper and if you have been communicating with your kids and they are telling you “Coach – I am beat – I am just tired” and you say, “Man – we are a week away and this kid is still tired – he is still saying “My legs are sore – my arms are sore” – what am I going to do??” You know, that is when I say – you know, I really start thinking about it – “What are we doing with this kid?”, and that is when I say to him – “Okay – you warm-up today and you go home.” He comes in the next day – “How are you feeling?” “Well, I am feeling a little bit better you know, I went around school and I was alright.” “Well, let’s get you in and warm you up and see how you feel – how do you feel?” “I feel good. You know, I am still not right, but I am feeling good.” Now, you have to know the kid well enough to know that that is a certain amount of nervousness. You know, they get nervous, too, you know, and it manifests itself in different ways. “The last time I swam fast – man, my legs were light and easy and they were powerful and you know, my legs are hurting now – I don’t know” – but that is a mental thing working on him and their legs don’t really hurt that much, but they are manifesting – if you know your kids you can work through that.
(Moderator) Okay – one last question – Coach?
(Coach Dick Bower) I would like to ask a couple of questions just to summarize this – you guys have given us all the different problems that you might have and some people might not have. What I have found – the easiest way is the one taper. All of my kids that have won nationals were already qualified. They didn’t have to do anything until the time of the break so we could have one taper for that kid and bring him down there and it works great. Some of you have – I am asking if you agree with me – so – some of you have several meets in a row and in my experience – taper each swimmer for the meet that is important to them. If they are not going to get by the first meet – it could be districts, regionals, states – maybe nationals – if they are not going to get by that step unless they do better than they have ever done – that is where you have to taper that individual and then the next one – if he is not going to get past here without doing his best time he ever did – don’t save him for a meet he is not going to be in. Taper each swimmer for the meet that is most important to that swimmer – do you agree with that?
(Keating) I agree with that.
(Bower) All right, the other thing that I think most of us can agree on – your taper – you have said this – has to be fitted to your program. Many top coaches have said (and Jon Urbanchek is the same – one example), do the same things you have been doing. The things that got you there – just do less of each thing. If you’ve been on weights, do the weights a little lighter. Do you agree with that?
(Bower) I also don’t believe that many have ever worked kids too hard, but most of us fail to give them enough time to recover from it and I have had so many examples and Dana, the chairman, can tell you some of them because he swam for me. I had kids that need a whole season to recover – they were successful in high school – they got a scholarship – but our best kids – maybe you don’t know this, but most high school All Americans do not get faster in college. Why? Because they have to go – they wisely picked the school they want to go to to learn what they want to learn and get a scholarship, but they don’t get the coaching so they go into a much lighter program. Some of my swimmers that I thought I did a great job with go to a school where they hardly swim at all and they have one season where they are much better than they ever were with me and then it is over. Some of our world records have been set that way. Madam Butterfly (note: Mary T. Meagher) who set our record 20 years ago (record has just been broken) – she trained for the Olympics that we didn’t go to – to Russia – so I said, well we are going to take a season off – you only come once a day and take it easy and then we will start training for the next Olympics – that is when she set all the world records, so learn (about) your kids – do you agree with this? (Agreement) Learn your swimmers and if you bring them up you will know who needs more rest, but do the same things you were doing and bring them down. If they don’t do better and they came to practice that’s our fault – then we have to figure out why and it may be that they need more rest.
(Moderator) I think that that is a good answer to the question – thanks Coach. I have a couple of comments I would like to make before we walk out of here. I had dinner with Chuck Warner, the president of ASCA, two nights ago and he told me of a couple of Olympians that are tracing their coaching lineage from the coach they had when they were 5 years old – all the way up to the Olympics, and they wanted to go back and thank each and every one of those coaches for getting them to that stage in their career. A lot of you coaches in here were also swimmers and you had a lot of coaches in your lives. You might want to think about what got you here. I have had a few coaches in my life and I have worked with a lot of coaches and I told this man (Dick Bower) this three days ago, but I want to say it publicly – everything I have achieved in swimming started because my college coach pushed me into my first coaching job. I have had an awful lot of good things happen to me and I would bet that a lot of you have had a lot of good things happen to you in your coaching career. Obviously, we are not doing this for the money and I want to publicly thank my college coach – Dick Bower, who will always be known to me as “Coach” – for getting me my first job and for everything that has followed since then – Thanks, Coach.
(Bower) I thank Dana for putting up with me because I was pretty hard on him.
Moderator) One of the things we have said – Lanny said it – Love your kids. I have got some little taped decals all over my office at my pool back in Katy, Texas – it says “They’re teenagers – just love them”, and I tell my kids that I love them. I don’t have any bashful feelings about that at all. I do love my kids. I care about them greatly, but as I also remind them – that doesn’t mean that I am always going to like them, but that is okay because there are a lot of times when they do not like me either, and the same thing with me and Coach Bower – we didn’t always like each other, but he has been a very important part in my development and I am very grateful for that. I am very grateful for these three guys (and also Dick Shoulberg who left early): Lanny Landtroop, Marty Keating, John Casadia – Thank you so much. And if you have any further questions you can probably grab them and twist their arm before they get out of here. Thanks for coming.