[Introduction] The ASCA World Clinic is always a marvelous combination of information and inspiration. We have just had our dose of inspiration from Coach Schubert and from those great films that Russell Mark put together. Now we are going to get down to the real meat and potatoes of things, the real hard information, the coaching information that we are all here for. There is probably nobody better to give it than Gregg Troy. Gregg is a coach who has succeeded at every level as an incredible high school coach, as an incredible club coach, as an incredible college coach and as an incredible Olympic coach. I started out as a military brat and I ended up as a university brat. My dad was a professor at Medical Schools after he got out of the army. One of the things that I have always noticed about Gregg is he developed swimmers the same way teaching hospitals developed surgeons with the same kind of demands, the same kind of pressure and the same sometimes near abuse that teaches surgeons to save our lives and perform under the highest pressure. Greg teaches swimmers to have the swims of their lives and perform under pressure. Both demand incredible honesty. Both demand incredible integrity. Gregg epitomizes and teaches both honesty and integrity. It is my privilege to introduce to you Gregg Troy.
[Gregg Troy] Thank you George. Actually, I wish I was that good. I am not nearly as accomplished a speaker as Bob and Ray and Mark were last night so it is a little bit from the hip. I’m certainly not as well organized so I wanted to give you a little heads up. I usually start practice at home on my watch. I am one of those freaks where my watch is always 12-15 minutes fast. We finish practice on the clock on the wall which is always 5 minutes slow so if I run a little over I apologize. The athletes aren’t very happy about it, but they finally figured it out. They get to practice real early. This talk about Ryan is a little bit about our whole basic program so it is a little bit of tomorrow’s talk as well. The title isn’t on there, but John Leonard asked me to talk tomorrow about what we do, why we do it and why I believe in it. This is a little bit of tomorrow’s first part of the talk. I would much prefer to be in a room of about 30 people with a few beers and answer questions. I think I am better in that dynamic. I don’t have that opportunity in this big of a group. If you have any questions, what I would do is have you either get them to me or get them to someone at ASCA. I am going to spend a lot of tomorrow’s time just dealing with questions. If we don’t have time to do it today that was my design for tomorrow. When I am at a clinic sometimes in this situation it is so hard to ask a question and it is hard to get things clarified so if you have got questions, please, that was my design for tomorrow.
I would go back to one thing that Mark Schubert said just there. I was listening to Mark and I would re-emphasize what he said, don’t wait to get your kids ready for college. I have had some success doing it at all different levels and I really believe this as I look at swimming in the United States right now: I run across a lot of athletes that I think have not been challenged enough in high school. I would really emphasize what Mark said from that dynamic. I don’t think that you are going to burn them out. I would like the challenge to try and make them better and I think most college coaches feel that way.
Ryan didn’t make the team as a high school swimmer. He made it when he was 18 or 19, immediately the summer after high school. He made his first Pan-Am team then so he is a little bit further behind. But anyway, it is an honor to be here. It is always great to share things with your peers and it is a dream to work with an athlete like Ryan. I have had a couple of them, but he might be the best one of the bunch. On my way here, my wife had taken me to the airport and I was kind of commenting to her. It is kind of a dream. Did you ever think we would be in this situation? You are taking me to the airport to go and talk to my peers about maybe the second best athlete ever. I will talk about that in a little bit. I said do you know it is a dream? What she said was, did you ever dream it? She looked at me and she said well, do you realize with you honey, you were never in my wildest dreams. So that is kind of one of my things. George says I am kind of a bull when I talk. I usually just go right into it.
I have always wanted to tell a story that I heard from Les Stackel who was at a fellowship of Christian Athletes. It is a little good for me because it is exactly where I am working with Ryan. I borrow most of my ideas. I do not do many things original. I take a lot of things from other people and then I try to make them better by doing them a little bit more and or maybe doing them a little bit faster. I revise them to meet my needs so in that dynamic I wanted to give credit before I go any further. I work with two really great coaches. Martin Wilby is a British guy. For the rest of you Brits here, what a great place, you come to the ASCA clinic and it is the only one we have but we got a dart tournament for you at the same time so you are all squared away. But anyway, Martin is fantastic. He works with Ryan a couple times a week. Anthony Nesty is an ex-medalist himself. Actually, 20 years ago Anthony Nesty won the 100 butterfly by 1/100th of a second. It was exactly same type of finish you saw this year with Michael and Michael Kavick. Those guys are great. Steve Lochte was his high school and his age group coach and just did a fantastic job. While he doesn’t swim with Steve, he will go home and be with him every once in a while for a weekend. Steve always gives me good information. All those guys really provide good things. From a dream standpoint it is not always what it appears to be, very much like Bob talking about Michael. There are a whole lot of things that go along with it. It doesn’t always go easy.
I remember my first real recruiting talk when I was talking with Ryan. I knew him and we are sitting at his dining room table. We had just had dinner. We are sitting talking and he really wasn’t very good at that point. It was in October of his senior year in high school. He hadn’t even swum a high school state meet yet. He had no national standards. He was a little bit small with pretty good basics, a nice kid to talk to. He was kind of a little bit of a surfer dude, no national age group records, way different background. He had been a good age grouper in New York, but certainly not dominant. There are a few coaches in here who every once in a while will come up to me and say is that the same little kid that ran around on the deck of the pool in Rochester? They moved to Florida. He was one of the better age groupers in Florida, but never completely dominant. There were some guys that were a whole lot better. He did a lot of skate boarding, a lot of surfing. He hung out a lot. We are sitting at the dining room table and I looked at him and I said, you know (I am recruiting him as a distance freestyler) and I said I knew his dad. His dad talked to me. I knew what dad’s goals were. I am playing that recruiting game a little bit and I looked at him and said, Ryan, I am sitting here, I know there are some other schools talking to you. We really want you to come to school at Florida and I don’t really care about what you do in the NCAA’s. Actually, I did. You know we didn’t talk about distance freestyle. We just talked a little bit and I said I really think you can make the Olympic team in 2004. That was in 2002. It was a little bit of a recruiting deal. I knew he was good, but I didn’t know how good. That same kid that year, two weeks later at the state meet went 4:22. Those times there, that is his short course progressions. Hopefully you can read them a little bit. In high school he went 4:25 at the high school state meet and 1:38 high. I believe 1:38.8 in the 200 freestyle. When I signed him he was 1:41 I believe and 4:29, so he was good, but he wasn’t great. I signed him in November. He comes to school and in March I am at our senior championships standing with his dad, talking with him a little bit. We are getting ready to swim the 500 yard freestyle at the state championship meet and Ryan isn’t behind the blocks. He is seeded like 4th or 5th and there is no one behind his lane. I looked at his dad and said, did Ryan decide to scratch this? He had no idea where he was. He was upstairs playing basketball some place. His dad just looked at me at that point and said, “You don’t realize what you got into.” That is kind of where Ryan was from that standpoint.
Some of those times in college are unshaved because he didn’t swim some of the events. You can see that our focus was pretty much in the medleys. He came to school. That 14:55, 1650 freestyle was his freshman year. He won the Southeastern Conference and he scored at the NCAA’s. I really think that that was the key to his background that he is not afraid to do any work. He really likes it, especially if you present it the right way to him. Here are his long course progressions. When I talk about some other things I will leave that up there so that you can look at it if you want. He was a little bit small. He was a really nice freestyler with good basics in all four strokes, but nothing dynamic except in the freestyle. He has very, very soft hands and holds onto a lot of water. One thing I kind of look for are people that move over their hand not move their hand through the water. I am a real simple guy. I was told by my high school coach, I eventually worked with him, a guy named John Rangely; he told me that if you really wanted to mark the freestylers and see how good they are he said it is real simple. You just sit at the side of the pool take your pen or your pencil and mark where their hand enters the water. If they are moving in that direction, if their hand moves or leaves in front of where it entered the water, the kid has some real talent. If their hand leaves behind where they slip and lose a lot of water, they have got to make a lot of corrections. Ryan’s hand, when he is really swimming well, leaves about this far in front of where it entered. He is moving his body through the water. It is a real simple concept, but we wanted to really do a lot of work on just talking about moving his body through the water. Ryan was outstanding on it. Those are pretty much his physical attributes which is the next slide. I am just leaving this one up a little bit. We can come back to it later if we need to.
His training background: Basically what he did was low key. He was well trained, but he wasn’t beat up. Part of that was a little bit of his dad’s philosophy. He was really challenged, but it was not real high volume. He had been in just a few big practices even though he was a distance freestyler. He had seen 8,000 in a practice before. He had seen a couple of days of it, but it wasn’t really, really regular. What he did do, he was great at calling the trump card out on dad. Are you kidding, you folks that have teenagers, you certainly understand that one. You want the very best for them, but if you are coaching them, at some point they call out that “dad” card. Hey dad, we are not doing this. The last thing you want to do is go home and fight with them and Steve didn’t. Mom had been his age group coach so she taught him a lot of the technique. Ryan has two older sisters. He is the middle one. He has a younger brother and then he has a foster brother. His younger brother is exactly like him. He started swimming two years later. Ryan was a little late in really being serious about it. He swam off and on. He played a lot of basketball and things. His younger brother looks exactly like him. He is going to be really good. So Ryan was well coached with a gradual increase over time, but he was never babied. When dad asked him to do something at practice he really expected it to be done. I have had six or seven kids from the team in Daytona Beach. We had five from Daytona Beach on our team that all swam at the trials. Four of them swam twice and made the semi’s or the finals. We had another boy that was fourth in the backstroke. No one knows who he is yet, but he is getting better all the time. Steve teaches them how to race really, really well and that was one of Ryan’s strengths. I should say this at the same time, Steve was very, very unsympathetic with him from the standpoint of excuses. It probably held us back a little bit. You may have heard some stories about Ryan being sick the day before the 400. He came to me after he had been sick for two days. The doctor actually came to me first and said, “Ryan has a little intestinal problem.” He said he had had it for a little while. For Ryan to go to someone outside his regular circle I’d say that it was a whole lot worse. We got him in and got some medication. He seemed to get a little bit better through the meet. I was telling his dad about it and his dad looked at me and he apologized. He said I am really sorry, that is probably my fault. The whole time coming up, any time he had an excuse or any time any of my guys have an excuse, I won’t use the exact vernacular, basically he said don’t be a baby about this and that is exactly the way Ryan is. If he comes to you and he complains at all, you got a serious problem. Unfortunately I just didn’t get a handle on it and he didn’t come and talk to me soon enough. He swam a bad race on top of it, but we got it squared away.
There was a gradual increase over time. His senior year he still only went doubles maybe twice a week with a lot of focus on technique and racing skills. Kids that come from that Daytona program are great racers. I think that it is something that if you are working with younger kids, you want to teach them how to race. It is way more important than the times. I think a lot of us in swimming get the times before the race. The time is a by-product of the race so we do a lot of things in practice where there is no watch orientation. We are just talking about racing one another. He did very little strength training. It has become a real focal point for him. It is one of the things that he is best at now, but he was really pretty well coached in race strategy and understanding how to swim races and what to do.
Some other factors were he had a relaxed, but intense approach. I think it is a real attribute that he can take a poor performance, shake it off and move right on. I didn’t realize how big of an attribute that was until the Olympics. He is really good at moving to the next event and learning from the one that happened. He is pretty good about not making the same mistakes too many times in a row. He will try to correct them and learn from them. His parents were both coaches like I said. He had pretty high aspirations and goals, but he will never talk about them. That’s very different than the talk yesterday about Michael. Ryan does not want to sit down and talk about times. We have time goals. He knows what they are very similar to Michael but he doesn’t want to share them. He didn’t want anyone else to know. We were obviously disappointed in the IM performance. We felt like we could win the 400 IM, but we didn’t. He had some real high goals, but he is very, very quiet about them. They are not quite as exact from the standpoint of times of where they want to be. He is a little more, hey coach, just tell me what you want me to do and I will do it. At the same time though he is really good at giving information back.
I would stress to each of if you want to refine your coaching. I am very much like Bob was talking yesterday. I am one of those hammer guys. I got the reputation and I like it. I think it is probably pretty important because I think we have gotten a lot of swimmers to new levels because of it. At the same time I think that if you can use that hammer in cooperation with your athlete and they give you good information, you can map out a better plan for them. Ryan has taught me a lot from the standpoint of exchanging information. He is very serious about what he wants. When he gives me good information he allows me to process it and give it back to him in a manner that you can actually coach him. You want to establish that sort of rapport. Now that I am working with older athletes on a more regular basis I see it all the time. The athletes that are most successful are the ones that you can create a relationship with them where they give you good information and you can value it as good information. You can factor it into your training program and then you can decide what you are doing from there. Then they take it from that point on. They really don’t want to make the decisions. They want you to make the decisions, but they do want to give the information to you. You have got to be sharp enough to make sure that you take that information to heart and listen to it.
He loves to race. Good Ryan Lochte story. He swims with a great group of guys. We have some tremendous guys, but he actually has gotten to the point where he was destroying our program because he was so much better than everyone else he would not allow anyone else to win anything in practice. This is no lie. We have got finalists in the NCAA’s. We had ten folks at the Olympics, representing a variety of countries. He will not allow anyone to win anything else in practice. It got to the point that I am getting after some of the other guys because they are not challenging him because I feel like they are as good as him. They are just not as far along. It doesn’t matter what we do, he will not let them win. The only thing that they can win is maybe one of those soft easy swims or if we are asking them to do some breath control work or something. He won’t worry too much about that, but anything else where we turn it up, he will not allow anyone else to win. It got to the point, he enjoys racing so much, when he gets bored in practice he will intentionally leave 5 seconds back of a really good athlete and make it his point to try to catch that guy. He will extend that to 7 seconds. It took me a season to get used to it because I am a real stickler about everyone leaving at 60. I like to see what is going on because we work with a pretty large group. He would leave sometimes 7 seconds back and it took me a little while to figure it out, he is leaving 7 because 5 wasn’t enough. Then he would start leaving 10 and it was really destroying some of our other guys because he just would not allow them to ever touch the wall first. So I started pulling him out of practice and putting him in a little different dynamic. It helped him and it certainly helped them a lot. He really enjoys the sport. When he is not smiling, he is not enjoying what he is doing. I know it is time for me to change the training at some standpoint.
This is kind of what we looked at – 2002 – 2006 when he came in. He made his first national team that summer. He came to school early. He needed to. He enrolled in school in June. He came in that year. He hadn’t done as much long course. He did some long course and he made the Pan-Am team that summer. Our college program is 12-16 weeks in the fall broken up into four week cycles. In the spring we go 12 weeks which is broken up into three week cycles. The break point is somewhere around Christmas and then our summer season is 16 weeks in four and three week cycles. We kind of mix those up by year. That is the basic program he was in for the four years he was in college. If you add that up you get somewhere between 50 and 54 weeks, although it varies a little bit by year, depending on where we take a little bit of a break or where the meet actually falls. That entire season it was all pretty steady from that standpoint, 2006-2007. That all changed a little bit because he graduated. He had used up his eligibility. He couldn’t be in the college season. He hated it. One of the hardest times I had with him was when we were out of college and he no longer had those college dual meets to swim in all the time. Again, he is a guy that really likes to race. It’s one of the biggest dynamics that change because in college he was racing every weekend and he swam a lot of different events. It helped him a bunch because it made him real race-hardened. I think it improved his butterfly and his breaststroke especially.
In 2006 we had a modified college program where he could still swim with the college team. He was still in school, but he didn’t have the same meet program. In 2006 we had a little hard time getting started. That summer in 2006 he graduated. He had swum the SEC meet and he was swimmer of the meet. He swam the NCAA’s and he was the swimmer of the meet. Just unbelievable, he broke three American records, outstanding relay splits and then he went to the short course Worlds and it was fantastic. A byproduct of that was signing a contract. It was a little bit hard getting started that summer. He was later than everyone else. He puts everything he can lay in competition. There are very, very few swims over the last six years that I can think they were not honest efforts. It doesn’t matter what event you put him in what you get is pretty honest. So when he left those series of three meets we went to the short course Worlds because it was kind of something different to do. At that point it was real good for him. Looking forward to what he was going to do in the future he needed some more international experience even though he had been on one Olympic team. He did real well there, but he was a little dead when he got back. That summer we had a little problem getting ready for the 400 free and 400 IM. I would have liked to have had him swim the 400 free a little bit more, but he didn’t train especially well the beginning of that summer. I don’t think it was all his own fault. It was just that he was dead from so many races and probably had over-swum it a little bit.
When we went to that summer’s nationals in 2006 they were selecting the Pan-Pac team. I was very concerned because the 400 IM was first. We thought about scratching the event. Here I learned something again. It is a little like Bob was talking with Michael. I am worried because I am not seeing what I want to see at practice and he is ecstatic about the 400 IM because he thinks it is going to be a good event for him. I almost scratched the event. Fortunately at the last minute I decided, well, if I do that we are going in the wrong direction. I am giving the wrong message. He swims the 400 IM. I think at that point his best was maybe 4:15. He went 4:11.7 and makes the team. We did scratch it at the Pan-Pacs because those events were back to back. I didn’t think there was enough background to come back and swim it the second time plus we wanted to swim the backstroke. That was kind of a key point. It kept us in the 400 IM even though I think I wanted him to swim the 400 free. It backed up into another event. In retrospect, I wish we would have.
We went to the Pan-Pacs focused on the 200 IM. I guess this is probably as good a time as any to point out Ryan’s career is really tough. It is hard for us to imagine. I get asked this all the time. I avoided the question because we didn’t want to add any extra pressure. I feel he is the second best male athlete ever. I am a little bit prejudiced, but you are living in Michael’s shadow and there is no doubt about it. I just told you how much he liked to race and how much he liked to win. He probably could have been second at the Olympics in the 200 free, bad coaching choice. He swam the wrong event at our trials. He was so far behind. You have got to remember in 2000, when Michael was swimming in the Olympics and he is a finalist in the 200 butterfly, Ryan is still on that skateboard. He is not doing much at all. We were constantly looking at it and we are swimming our best events as it evolved. The events evolved to where you are looking at Aaron Peirsol and Michael Phelps. Aaron Peirsol is one of the toughest guys ever to race. You do not beat him very often. He has got 7 or 8 years of not losing a backstroke swim. That is what we are looking at and they are both world record holders and have been for a while. I am trying to find some way to motivate Ryan to believe we can beat them. We took very much the approach that we were not going to beat them all of the time. We had to select our times very wisely and then we used those times as carrots in the future. I talked with Mark a little bit and I know that there has been some conversation. We want to be very careful in the United States that we do not allow ourselves and do not allow our male athletes to say there is no way to be successful in the individual medleys because of Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. We will hold back our young athletes. I think the Australians saw that Thorpe and Hackett held back their freestylers for so long because they felt like there was no way to the top. If you watch Michael’s career and believe me I have watched Michael’s career a lot, he is a great athlete. For the last few years the rest of the world would not even race him. There were people swimming for second. I think that is why Ryan continued to get better because he never, ever swam for second.
I think his 400 IM swims are not where they could be. Our plan was to be 4:03 – 4:04. We saw things that would indicate we were going to be that, but we had a little bit of sickness. We swam a little bit of a dumb race and did some things wrong. At the same time our race was designed in Ryan’s mind about beating Michael. We planned on winning the 400 IM. We can say it now. We couldn’t say it earlier, but we definitely planned on winning. Bob and I have talked about it. There are no two ways about it I got a lot of what we do from Bob. We have exchanged ideas. Even though those guys train together I didn’t feel like if we trained together all of the time our chances of beating Michael were going to be as good. We did some things in camp that were eye opening for both. Then I was real disappointed. I think the 4:05 at the trials is exactly what we wanted. We did some technical things wrong, but the race strategy was perfect. He did exactly what we talked about. The 400 IM at the Olympics was not good and he was pretty disappointed. Our whole strategy for the last four years has been we can beat Michael and Aaron. We are not as good as them yet and the only way we are going to get better than them is we have to make sure we don’t worry about where every single meet is.
That being said, at the Pan-Pac’s in 2006, I thought he was ready to beat Michael maybe in the 200 IM. We skipped the 400 IM. He swam a pretty good backstroke in that meet which is the first time he had ever swum the backstroke. He actually led at the 150, but couldn’t get it home. It was on the second shave in a summer and I didn’t think it was quite as good. I had to leave the final of the 200 IM. It was the last day of the meet. I left that morning knowing he was going to be really, really good at night. He went his best time in the morning and held back a lot. As the race turned out Ryan turned at the 1:50 ahead of Michael. Ryan came off the wall and didn’t do a very good job off the wall. I think this is a Ryan Lochte story that maybe is good for your young athletes to hear at some point. He came back – long summer – did a good job – a big college season – where normally they would take a two week break right there. The team is already back in the water. I went back because it was the start of school. I missed the IM. I saw the splits. I was really upset because we kind of pride ourselves in that he had never, prior to that point, lost anything he was ahead of at the 150. Afterwards, he walked on the deck of the pool and before I could say a thing and I will not use the same vernacular, but he said, coach, I am sorry. I screwed up. I had him. I normally take 6-8 kicks off the wall and I took 3. I do not know why. I will never do it again. He did do it again one time unfortunately but that was our trials. At trials 2nd is okay I guess. At that point I said don’t worry about it. We have a couple more years before the Olympics. We are right on track. Everything looks good. Take two weeks off and we will see that you just get back on the run. Don’t take the two weeks off of fitness, just take two weeks out of the water. He looked at me and he said “No – I need to get in right now.” He walked in the locker room and came back out, had his suit on and he was ready to rock and roll. He never took a break from that point.
So, he was in the water from the NCAA meet, took about 7 days off when he came back from Shanghai. Then he was in the water from that point, non-stop, through Melbourne and by his choice. He came into practice and he was unbelievable in 2006 and 2007 and it was focused on the 200 IM.
What we did do, we took 6 – 8 weeks (I learned from Bob a little bit) he is a professional at that point so we did a few things on weekends, getting him out to kind of recover, but, he took no real break. At that point there was a complete focus on Melbourne and I saw a completely different athlete. He was completely zeroed in and much more mature. The stuff away from the pool got better which has always been a little weakness for him. Everything was correct and away from the pool was dramatically better. In 2007 we left Melbourne with great success. I thought he should have been 4:07 in the 400 IM then, because what we were seeing in practice would have indicated he was going to be 4:07. We were doing a lot of swimming for Michael by going out too fast in the butterfly. When we take our 4:07 away, we are 4:09, but again, we didn’t want to join the rest of the world and be swimming to be second. He still was second. He beat Aaron in the backstroke for the first time, swam great freestyle legs and swam a real good 200 IM. He came out of the meet with a tremendous focus.
At that point we made a decision that was different than everyone else. I don’t know if it was right, but it is one that we made. We decided that in order for us to be able to compete at the level we wanted to compete (we felt that this Olympics was going to be so much faster than any before – at least we were a little right about that) that we couldn’t do it by putting little 12 week blocks together. I am a big believer that most people in swimming now are chopping up their year too much. That is my own personal belief. I will talk a little bit about that tomorrow. So, we divided the year into two 26 week seasons. We went 26 weeks basically from Melbourne till December which was the US National short course. I would have preferred the meet had been long course, but unfortunately it gave us short course. That is what we were looking at so we had 26 weeks. I am not a real rocket scientist, 26 weeks became one. I looked at what I had done before Melbourne and in that modified program it was 26 weeks. So we ran 26 weeks again. We swam through everything in the summer. He went to the summer Nationals and he raced. I tried to take a little pressure and fear off of him. We doubled I think maybe the 200 free and the 200 back. They were almost back to back. He lost the backstroke. I think it was a good thing because I didn’t want him to feel like he had to be the world record holder every time he swam. He swam unshaved and went 1:59. Everyone was concerned. If they would have gone back and looked at his jump before Melbourne, his best 200 backstroke was 1:59. He went 1:59 at Nationals, unshaved, no suit on. I am really pretty pleased with the performance. We also built into that 2007-2008 season. He swam three weeks away from Gainesville at camps which we had never done before. I felt like we needed to be out of Gainesville. I’m not real big on traveling but they were designed a little bit more for some way to zero him in. We left from the summer nationals in 2007 and immediately went to altitude and swam ten days, 100,000 meters, all low key aerobic. We just got him started. I did that because I knew as we got closer to the meet as much as he liked to race that I would have a hard time keeping him on track so I wanted something. Hey, if we do not stay on track here, going into this meet training wise, you are going to have a real tough time when we go to altitude. We did that then and we did it again in December after the Nationals which he did shave and rest for. Then we did it again after the short course Worlds. So we had three blocks where it was about 100,000 in a 7-10 day period. It was all low-end aerobic work and then he swims in December. We did our camp then. We did our camp in Florida at that point because we didn’t want to go to altitude. So, it was modified and restructured with a couple of altitude training camps.
For his seasonal training plan he is on cyclic training. It is three or four week cycles which allows for increased focus on special areas. It is good for the medley. The last cycle is always his taper so that is why usually we stick to three week cycles. For those training cycles, three or four, we flip/flop back and forth. The first week is an aerobic focus. The volume is going to be a whole lot higher in that first week. We are not afraid to put in some volume. We are going to use every minute we can as wisely as we can while still doing full weights and he still has all his full dry-land. Volume in that week is probably somewhere in the 60-70,000 range and he kicks probably 20% of it. When I say it is an aerobic emphasis we are usually on a 9 sometimes 10 practices a week cycle. Five of those nine practices would have a real volume component. We are just seeing how much we can get in. Now it is not garbage yards, but it is a lot of big sets with a lot of descend work, nothing real fancy. A lot of pulling, but we are going to use every minute and we are really going to streamline what we do. Two of the practices are going to be quality with some big speed components, something that is a little race-oriented. Two of them are technique and we are going to work on special things. The kicking is always hard so the 20-30% kick is always pretty fast. Alright, let me go back, week 2 of the cycle or week 3 if it is a 4 week cycle, 9 sessions again, 25-40% kicking. Kicking goes up so the volume goes down because of the amount of kicking we are doing. In that week there are probably three practices that are extremely volume-oriented. Monday morning is always that way and then four quality practices. I try to do those back to back during that part of the cycle. We certainly don’t want to over-tax him and I don’t want to put him under, but I think sometimes we become so into recovery that we are afraid to go back to back on days. I am not afraid to ask him to go a big quality set back to back days. It only makes sense to me because we are going to go to meets where we have to swim back to back days. By not doing it in practice I think we are shying away from things that we actually have to do. That’s true especially with the type of program he swims. Then we have two that are speed or technique type practices. Then week 3, the final week of the section, there are still nine sessions. Sometimes we will drop down to eight. If I think he is getting too tired that is when we will kick a practice out.
In my original plan when I started doing this we called that a recovery week. I do not like that word from the standpoint I think when you tell the athletes you are recovering you are basically telling them not to focus so we just use it as week 4 or week 3 of the cycle. I am thinking in terms of watching people individually. I think they are all so different and they are recovering differently. During that week, we are doing all kinds of different things and moving individuals around. It has never made sense to me to have a full week of recovery or have a recovery day built in for a whole team because they all respond differently. If I have one athlete who is doing a tremendous job and he can handle four or five days in a row of it then I need to continue to give it to him to stress the envelope and press it a little bit. I have got to be careful not to overdo it, but if you take them and have them recover on the third day with everyone else you may actually be hurting their career. We do all our recovery on an individual basis, but a lot of it is during this week. We will drop a practice here and there. The kicking volume goes back down to 20-30%. The kicking is all still pretty hard in that standpoint. In that week in nine sessions, two practices will be volume and that volume will be extremely low key. We are just looking for real low end heart rate. It will be high volume, but no stress at all in those practices. Three will be quality practices and on that week we won’t go the quality back to back. We will space them out so that we see a lot of space between them. Then four of them will be real technically-oriented practices. I don’t think 25 is fast or hard so we do a lot of speed issues, a lot of starts and turns, a lot of technical issues so the volume comes down. The actual amount of time they are actually at practice does not change, but the volume comes down because of the nature of the things that we are working on so the intervals get a little bit bigger.
Training focus for six years on Ryan: 2002-2003 his freshman year, we trained predominantly distance freestyle. He came in a distance freestyler and I didn’t really believe he was going to be that good in the IM. His dad and I have talked since then. We had no concept, either one of us, that he would be that good. We knew he was going to be good, we just weren’t sure how good or what events. The fall was all distance freestyle. This is in the same dynamic of the weeks I showed you before. The spring was individual medley and freestyle and that is a competition phase. We do not worry about any of our fall meets at Florida. They are just something we do to kind of break up the monotony of training and for me to get some evaluations on the athletes, but there are no parameters of how fast we go. If we go fast, great. As a matter of fact if they go too fast it worries me a little bit. And then in the spring we did a lot of medley work and freestyle because that is what he was going to swim. At that point I have got a pretty good feel for where he is. I am just getting a feel for Ryan Lochte and then that summer it was pretty obvious we could swim some IM, but the breaststroke needed to get better and so we put a big focus on the breaststroke. He continued to be a breaststroker and distance freestyler.
When I have got a spot where it is focused like that – breaststroke – he still trained backstroke, he still trained IM, but he would be in that dynamic a breaststroker. I really believe one of the biggest mistakes you make if you are working with medley swimmers is that if you do a lot of technique work in the weak stroke, talking about swimming the weak stroke, you don’t actually train the weak stroke. In those dynamics, when he started swimming breaststroke he wasn’t a very good breaststroker at that point. He was probably maybe just under a minute in yards and had not swum 100 meters breaststroke ever. At that point he went in with the breaststrokers. We had a couple of pretty good ones. He went into the breaststroke group and swam on the breaststroke interval, which for a guy like Ryan is tremendous. I think it is probably good for all your athletes because the tendency is, because they are a weak breaststroker, is you want to modify the breaststroke interval for them. That does not make them better. You put them in with the breaststrokers on the breaststroke interval. He hated it because he couldn’t win. I think that was key because not only did we do the drill breaststroke, but it forced him into a dynamic where it was an interval that was hard for him. Sometimes he didn’t make it and the guys beat him. It made him better at that point.
A lot of my 400 IM stuff and we talked about it earlier comes from Jon Urbanchek. The main thing we looked at for Ryan is similar to what Jon told me one time when he was working with Mike Barrowman. What they were looking for was the 200’s of the stroke. It was something like he wanted to be within 5 seconds of the national record in the 200’s of each stroke. That became a direction for us. We wanted to swim the 200 of each of the strokes.
2003-2004 was his sophomore year. In the fall we emphasized butterfly and distance freestyle. We didn’t want to be all breaststroke. We wanted to come back and check the other things. His fly never came naturally to him. It still doesn’t. I think it was the main thing that happened in the 400 IM in Beijing. He over-swam the first 50 backstroke a little bit, but I don’t think it was as bad as everyone thinks because what I was seeing in practice would indicate that he didn’t over-swim it. He might have kicked a little too hard, but if you looked at his fly and you go back and look at the video of his butterfly in the final of the 400 IM you see we were very conscious of trying to swim our race. We went way out of our way trying to swim the butterfly slower. His 4:06 from the trials, his fly split there was slower than his 4:09 from Melbourne. We did that by intention because I felt like if anyone could, we could have beat Michael. The place to beat Michael was not try to be with him the whole way, but to swim the back end. In doing that in Beijing, combined with a little sickness, he held back so much he became very, very stiff with his arms and he kicked a lot. If you take away his legs early it pays a big price later. Obviously, we didn’t do a very good job of getting through to him on that, but we worked butterfly and distance free. The fly does not come easy. In the spring he worked backstroke and IM. There was competition at the NCAA meet and then in the summer we focused strictly on the short IM. We still swam the 400 IM, but we didn’t feel he could make the team there. He wasn’t far enough along that we felt we were going to beat Michael or Erik and we ended up being 3rd I believe. He actually swam real well, much better than what I thought, but we were focused on making the team in the 200 freestyle because we knew they took six slots. I think he surprised everyone. In the 200 IM he wound up second. Then he goes on and swims real well in Athens.
What some people missed from that was Trials was a big turning point for him. He also swam the 100 freestyle. He was 49+ and made the final and also I believe he was 4th or 5th in the prelim of the 1500 meters. We just scratched the final. I forgot to scratch him. He doesn’t know this yet. I forgot to scratch him. He made the 200 IM. He had made the freestyle relay and we really weren’t planning on swimming the 1500, but he was entered in it and I forgot to scratch him. Then it showed up in the heat sheet. I went to him and I said, you know, we are getting ready for Athens, we will just make this the first part of your training. If you do a really good job in the prelims we won’t swim the finals if you get in and then that is exactly what happened.
2004-2005 is his junior year and it was completely different. In the fall all of a sudden the backstroke is standing out as something we need to improve in. We did a lot of work there. We take the distance freestyle out because it got to the point that we couldn’t do everything and still put the work in we needed to do to be a distance freestyler. We started to see some speed. I really think that by 2012, I think he is going to be one of the best 100 freestylers in the world. We just haven’t put the focus there yet. Spring, he swam the IM in the transitions. He swam everything and then the summer we came back and did another breaststroke focus. That breaststroke focus during those 9 practices a week, probably 4 of them he is a breaststroker.
2005-2006 is his senior year. We worked backstroke and butterfly in the fall. Spring we did speed of all four strokes and then in the summer we did breaststroke again. 2006-2007 is World Championship preparation. It was his post-grad year. We did butterfly, breaststroke in the fall and then in the spring it was all backstroke and IM. I should mention that he is coming off the Pan-Pac meet, he is getting ready for the World Championships. He really was zeroed in. In this time period he was the best I had ever seen him. He finally realized that he could be really good and showed utmost cooperation. He made me a better coach. Everything he did he was very much, just tell me what I need to do coach and I will get it done. He did a fantastic job. There was absolutely no surprise in Melbourne. The only surprise, he wasn’t faster in the 400 IM. Again, I think that is because we were racing to win instead of settling for second. We suffered a few injuries there in that time period that held us back a little bit. He pounded his shoulder in a wall one time on a backstroke. It flares up every now and then so every once in a while we have had to adjust a couple of weeks. Any time we adjust we just go to big time kicking which is really in his best interest. It is his strength. He does a lot of leg stuff and legs are very, very key for him.
As for injuries, he has been hammered on the skateboard twice. He messed up an ankle on a motor scooter. They have almost always been five or six weeks outside of a major championship. He re-did the ankle playing basketball. People have asked – well – do you try to calm him down? Certainly, we make some recommendations to try and keep him away from those things, but the things that make him good is they make him live on the edge. So I don’t want to take all that away because if I do then it is not Ryan Lochte. The last one was probably the most significant that hurt him the most this past year. He was chasing his dog and tripped over the curb. He went three weeks and couldn’t turn.
Weekly training outline: this is just real quick. Monday mornings we go distance free and afternoon he goes IM or stroke. Tuesday AM is breaststroke, backstroke, transition stuff. All his power work is on Tuesday morning. Tuesday morning is always light, volume wise. I never have a practice written. It is off the top of my head. I feel like I coach best that way and the practice is designed around him. We have a big IM group with about 16 of them in that group. If Tuesday is a breaststroke priority with a backstroke, meaning just a little bit of back and a lot of transition around it then Thursday would be a backstroke emphasis. We do all our stretch cords, tubing, all the bucket stuff then. In the afternoon there is a lot of big time kicking on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. He works one stroke. We would take an hour and have a one hour stroke set. It just would depend on what stroke we felt like we were working on through that cycle. Wednesday morning was usually off and Wednesday afternoon is always our quality, our race prep day. They always know they are going to get hit with something Wednesday. I might come back with it again on Thursday. Thursday, back, breast again in the morning, transition. PM we are still going to go a kick set and then an hour of stroke. If we are going back to back quality days that hour of stroke went quality on Tuesday. On Wednesday when we come back we go a real hard one of this stroke or that one. We get our kicking before the stroke and then stay after it. I would like to change that around, but it is a necessity where we are. I think on those days we kick before; all the other days our big kick sets are after we swim. Friday morning was usually off, but once in a while we do a tenth practice. When we did, it was always a distance freestyle practice or he would come in and go a real long swim of the stroke. Then Friday afternoon is always butterfly. He did six years of that. Every Friday afternoon we would do butterfly. It did not matter what cycle, the practice is probably about 70-80% fly. It is one of the biggest things that hurt us though the last year and a half because of the shoulder injury. The fly is the one thing we couldn’t train because we had to stay away from it. His fly volume training the last year and a half has been dramatically down from what it was before. We kicked a lot of fly, but we couldn’t do the swimming we needed to. That may be one of the things that showed up a little bit in the 400 IM. Saturday morning if we are in a 3 week cycle, they lift weights first and #1 of the three week cycle was always a long IM series. It might be 800 IM’s, it might be 400 IM’s. The series is never less than about 5,000. Sometimes they come in and warm-up and it is a real long 6,000 set to swim. Every once in a while we will replace that with a distance freestyle practice, depending of where we are. The two middle weeks in the 3 week cycle we would go a quality stroke so we would finish the week the way we would like to race. Most of our meets are on weekends so we like to finish the week with something that is race-oriented. That could be some sort of broken swim, but it was always something that was pretty demanding. I like to wrap the week up that way. Then the 4th week of the cycle was always a broken swim and always something that had to be at race speed. I will talk a little bit about broken swims later and Sunday was always off. I just do not believe in swimming on Sunday. Ryan needs a day off. I need the day away from my athletes and they need a day away from me so we don’t swim on Sundays. Sunday practice is a real rare situation.
His weights were Tuesday/Thursday. 2003-2006 he went Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday when he was in the collegiate program. 2006-2008 we identified strength as being a major need. In that situation he did his weights on Monday, Wednesday, Friday with our strength coach one on one. Then Saturday morning he would come back and work with the group. He got really, really strong. Again, he was kind of scrawny out of high school and weights were not an important thing. It was just something he did. He never did them poorly, but the last two years he has made it a real priority item. It helped us a bunch. It also created some whole new dynamics in learning how to control some of that speed. Our fitness dry-land series was Monday, Wednesday, Friday an hour before practice. It was abs, med ball, stadiums, wheels. We do all kinds of different things and rotate through a lot of things. Those are all just general fitness. Almost all of our guys are pretty good through the middle.
I want to go back to one thing. On his quality sets on Wednesday, the quality things he did, the ones that we did most often the last two years, we went back to three sets of eight 50’s. You go four on 2 minutes, long course, four on 2 minutes, two on 1:32 on a minute. That was predominantly a backstroke set. Once in a while we would do a fly if his shoulder wasn’t bothering him. Once in a while we would do it breaststroke. In that series before Melbourne he would start out and it is one you don’t hold anything back, we go to 2 minutes. 2 minutes is too big for my liking, but I had to go to 2 minutes for our guys to make them really lay it out. He would go four 50’s backstroke with his first four on 2 minutes. He would be 27+ long course and then he would fall off to 28 low. This past year I am disappointed with the 1:53 200 backstroke. I really felt like he could have been 1:52. That was our goal. What I saw in practice would indicate that. He would go eight 50’s backstroke, three sets of them. In that dynamic he would hold 26+ and maybe fall off on the last one to 27.2 – 27.3. I made some mistakes in the backstroke. I also think the backstroke swim at the Olympic Games, he was on the numbers. It is the first race I ever felt like in international competition that Michael or Aaron was in that Ryan took control of the race. Some people might take issue but I think he completely controlled the race. Had he seen the Russian guy I think he would have been 1:52. He never knew the Russian was out there. He had no idea. As much as we tried, it was hard not to be in an Aaron/Michael type situation. After the 400 IM it was a real focus. He wanted to make sure he won that event and there was a point there that he was in complete control of the race. I think had he taken off he would have been faster.
The other series we go, is usually a Wednesday afternoon series, 4 to 10 100’s from a dive. They are almost always on 4 minutes and they really lay them out. We would vary 2 to 4 minutes, but sometimes they would be on 2. Those were usually a freestyle series. He does twelve 3’s in a variety of intervals descend 1-3. A Saturday IM series that I like to do (he may not like it, but I like to do it) Ryan would swim on kind of a moderate interval where he is getting maybe on the first one, he might get 20 seconds rest, if that. He will go six 400’s the first one is straight in race pattern. I say race pattern because we want to make sure we are negative splitting the back 50’s. We obviously did not do a good enough job of that. We didn’t do that at the Olympics the first time. We haven’t done it very well but we would do the first one that way. The second one he would get after pretty good. Your second 50 was supposed to be at 400 IM pace and the third one would be broken. We would break at 15 seconds of the 50, the 150, the 250 and the 350. I have seen him be long course 3:54 during his 3rd one in that series or his 6th one in that series. The other quality set he did before the trials which I think was very relative to the 200 backstroke relates a little bit to the suits. I am still not sure how to use them. We didn’t wear them in meets, but very seldom and very selected situations and never for a whole meet, just an event here and there. Maybe we didn’t learn how to use them as well. I don’t know. I personally would do the same thing again in this issue, but what we did do is we repeated a cycle of three 50’s of six 50’s backstroke on a minute. We did them at three week intervals. He would go a set with a Lzr on and it would be really fast and then the next time we did it (which was three weeks later) we did the series with just a pro. The last time he did it he did it with just a brief and we tried to hold the laser times with the brief on. The last time we did two cycles of that in a training camp. He was supposed to come back the following Tuesday and go with a brief on. They were so good the first six of the 8 he did I decided it was a mistake to do it so we dropped it.
I want to say, I am not real good at logging stuff like this. I just move on, but he went six 50’s on a minute backstroke. We were working on the turn so he went on his feet. Going down he was 26.2 at his feet, coming back he was 26.4 at his hand. Going down he was 26 something again at his feet and then he was 26 at his hand and his last two fell off. He was 27+ 28 on his last two. I think that was a really good set at that point. I didn’t press the backstroke any more.
Competition race and prep: Like I said before, he loves to race. We use our competitions as a tool not an end. I think way, way too much of today’s society is how fast you can go. This is an Olympic team criticism. It is just an observation. As good as the American team was and we were very good – tremendous experience – fantastic athletes – good training camp – there are an awful lot of people that were as fast or faster in Grand Prix meets with a suit on, six to eight weeks outside of the trials. I really believe that there are a lot of people that are going fast so often they are not pressing the envelope enough to get better. Our philosophy of the program is we are not looking for your best time, but we are looking for a best effort. I think we had 27 kids at the trials. 25 of the 27 were life-time bests and the other two were pretty good. We had ten foreign guys at the Olympics and of the foreign swims we were almost across the board lifetime best times. Those people had an opportunity to wear a Racer one time. They wore it a lot in practice, but they wore it one time in meets to kind of get a feel for what we were doing and make sure that they had a situation they were happy with. We try to control what we can control. We couldn’t worry about where Michael and Aaron were and the rest of the world was. We just zeroed in on what we needed to do. There was very little talk about it.
We varied the times and the schedule of training of where he would go fast. We had fast series in a long week. We had fast series in a shorter week. I think it gave me a lot of help in what to do race-wise. In his college years he raced a whole lot, bi-weekly in the fall and weekly in the spring. After college we raced much, much less. The reason being we either had to travel way across the world to get anyone to compete with or across the US or we just weren’t ready to race. We chose our competitions pretty wisely and tried to make them real good ones. We swam the short course Worlds by intention. He didn’t rest for the short course Worlds this past year. I wanted him to race and swim fast a lot. I didn’t realize it, but I think he swam 27 times in 5 days in Manchester, prelims – finals – semi’s – the works. He was unshaved, but he wore a suit. He did a great job. He came off that meet and we only had two competitions planned. We wanted to swim the Grand Prix meet in Santa Clara. The focus was going to be on swimming, especially the backstrokes and the medleys. It was a real big deal. We also were going to swim the Charlotte Grand Prix. Unfortunately, what happened is he is chasing Clarence – Carter his dog and it is like two weeks before Santa Clara, high ankle sprain. We thought it was broken. He called me and he said, “are you sitting down?” I was, fortunately. He said I am at the doctor’s office. They haven’t decided yet whether I have broken my ankle or not. Fortunately, it was a high ankle sprain. This is the kind of guy Ryan is. He missed that afternoon because he was at the doctor’s office. He was back to practice the next day. The problem is we had three weeks where he literally could not do a turn. Ryan still had great training, fantastic pulling. He did everything he was supposed to do and never missed a beat. Great weight work upper body, but he just couldn’t do a turn. I think that is what you saw at the Olympic trials. In his 400 IM at the trials he didn’t turn like himself. The by-product was not only did he not do a turn, but he missed one of the key competitions that we really had prioritized and needed to race. It is the only time that I feel like we didn’t race enough and there was not anything we could do about it. It was too late. So, I guess in retrospect, I could have added a competition earlier, but I had no idea he was going to do that to his ankle. I should have known. He has done it every meet so far, quite literally. Before Melbourne he missed, it was 5 weeks before Melbourne. I get a call. He is in the training room at school because he just flipped his motor scooter. They think he broke his left elbow. They were not sure whether he broke his right ankle or something. He is laying there. He has got ice all over his body. He is all bloody. They x-rayed him that afternoon. Everything was just sprained. He is in practice the next morning, same sort of deal. He is a really, really tough kid. It never bothered him but it sure did bother me. I will talk about that a little bit more, about kind of some key learning situations, key moments in his career.
Race prep: We try to define sets in training that simulate meet conditions. I like that we do a lot of hard backstroke kicking on a wall, followed by breaststroke sprint. I talked at a couple of different clinics about it. I know Bob is doing some of it now too. They will kick streamline backstroke for a minute on the wall, really, really hard – push off the wall – go 20 times of short course 25 kick under water backstroke and then swim a 50 breaststroke fast. We are trying to design things that are real relative to what happens in the meets. Some of his main events are back to back, like we discussed earlier. His 200 IM double at the Olympic Trials was fantastic and I think the Olympics was just as good even though he was a little slower. It was just at the trials we could control the media and we could control when he had to report to the blocks, so at our Trials we skipped the ready room and he skipped the media. He just went straight to the warm-down pool. He had 15-20 minutes and he actually swam 2,000. That was poor coaching on my part. I just didn’t judge it right at the Olympics because you just don’t have that opportunity. By the time he got through the media area (which was a big winding maze) and got to the warm-down pool, he swam only 200 and then he had to report 15 minutes prior. His legs never ever recovered. He is sore leg dominant so I think the 1:56 is there had we found that extra hundredth of a second to beat the Hungarian. We would have been ecstatic with it, but it is a heck of a double. We worked for it for a year. We knew the double was there after Melbourne. We knew there was nothing we could do about it so we did things. He constantly did high quality sets and 15 minutes later went another high quality set. The high quality sets were always the backstroke set first and the medley set second. I don’t know who would have won, but I would have loved to swim the 200 IM where he feels a little more comfortable, heads up with Michael. I think it would have been a really, really great race, but I don’t know. I have been second guessing. I had all kinds of people ask me, I don’t know how you scratch the world record holder in the 200 backstroke to get ready for the 200 IM. We are still the second fastest American, so we did it. The trial swim was fantastic and by the trials you could see that he had started to recover from the one competition we missed. If we would have had those turns fully recovered we would have been 4:06 – 4:05 – 4:04 maybe at the trials in the 400 IM. Our goal was 4:03.0. It wasn’t going to win anyway, but it is what our goal was.
Broken Swims: We make them relevant. I watch and hear a lot of people go broken swims. If you are really doing a broken swim and it is really relevant you are not resting over 15 seconds between 50’s. Otherwise, it is not a broken swim, it is a quality set. For our standard brokens, I have gotten soft. I used to feel like it was 10 seconds in between. We used to go on Saturday mornings, broken swims where you would do three of them. You had to be under your lifetime best. For the second half of the season you had to be under your goal time or you couldn’t leave. We would repeat them until I got them. So I am back to that hammer thing that Bob talked about. We would hammer that one, but we always did them with 10 seconds rest. Now we do them with 15. Those sets I talked about earlier where you are going on a minute, I am looking for something different. Those aren’t broken swims. I see a lot of people going broken swims in you know, 50’s on a minute or 50’s on a minute and a half. Those are not broken swims. I think you need to make them relevant and if you do that, you can get by with racing a little bit less.
Meet warm-up for us is rehearsal. I used to be one of those that everyone had to do the same meet warm-up. I was real structured. We got them in to do it. Now I think it is varied for individuals. Guys like Ryan, they know what they need to do. There is no sense of me hurting the best athlete by making everyone do the same thing. So they all have their own meet warm-up, they know what it is. They give it to me on a 3 x 5 card at the beginning of the season and then we work on revising it through the season. When we get to the last month or six weeks, we have a practice a week where the practice is literally the meet warm-up. We time it so we know how long it takes you to do it and then we do a quality set after that in practice. They are on their own. I used to be one of those guys that we got to the meet early and everyone got in and we had to take a couple of lanes. I had a big group that did it, but it gets to the point that it doesn’t make sense because you can’t really do that at the major meet. You can only do it at early season meets so we pretty much go with meet warm-ups on their own. It is amazing. Ryan is about as ADD as they come. His attention span is about this long. When you are working with him you had better give him the information very quickly and be very direct. You have to be very direct in what you give him and as long as you are direct he picks it up. Now, you can hit him with a lot of little short shots. He is articulate about warm-up when he wants to be, about what he is going to do, what pool he is going to swim in. For the 400 IM, quite frankly, I forced him into the wrong pool. I probably made a mistake. He wanted to warm-up in the other one. Talk about learning from athletes, at Melbourne we were ready to swim a great 200 IM. It is tough racing Michael Phelps, but we felt again in Melbourne that he was going to win. In Melbourne we swam the 200 IM. Bob and I have talked about this. He and Michael swam one another. They didn’t swim very fast. Neither Bob nor myself were happy with the times because they swam one another. Ryan got out afterwards and he looked at me and he said, you know coach the 200 backstroke semi is coming up. He said you know coach you gave me so much information, you were so nervous you made me really, really nervous. He said would you please just give me less and just tell me what you want me to do and leave me alone. So I said you know that is okay, this backstroke swim, just get through the semis of the 200 backstroke and get a lane. We will talk tonight about how we are going to swim it tomorrow. Then tomorrow I am not saying a word about the backstroke. We talked about girls, where he was going, what he was going to do. It was a real break-through. He was 100% correct. So there is a fine line of walking and giving them information.
Suits: You have to have a plain simple plan.
Taper: we don’t have a real start date. It is usually our last training cycle. Our weekly schedule remains the same. We just shorten it up a little bit. We might cut a practice out. Six weeks out the volume drops 10-15%. Four weeks out it drops 20-30% and then two weeks out it is going to drop down to 40% and descend from there. It is real big for him. His leg stress is key.
Some things I would do different. I made a real mistake in the training camp after the Trials. He swam with Jon’s group a few times and Jon’s group is fantastic. The only problem is Ryan is our best kicker. There were three guys in that camp that are absolutely amazing at kicking and Ryan tried to keep up with them. He had never been beaten kicking before. It wasn’t the time to get beat and he was trying to keep up. I don’t think his legs recovered from a couple of those days. I just felt it was my fault. I should have pulled him out, but my pride – you know – it was one of those things. Damn it, we are going to stay there and we are going to swim with those guys the whole practice. I was stupid. I don’t think his legs recovered from that. In our cycle he has got to get off legs a tremendous amount of time because we do a lot of kicking. My volume figures dramatically changed from what it was 15 years ago. It is all because there is so much kicking. It just takes a little more time because we do not do any kicking that is easy. I mean it is all fast and lots of it under water. I didn’t feel we rested the whole way for the Trials. I feel like that week after Trials we did some kicking with some guys that were just a little better kickers. He wasn’t used to doing it and he really worked too hard to keep up.
Weights: we have experimented with dropping them three weeks out and six weeks out. I think it is very relative to how long you train. There are a lot of people that say they stay on weights longer. You talk to the strength guys and they will tell you oh, you get off after ten days you lose strength. I do not believe that is true if you do the right things in the water. The strength guys tell you, you lose strength after ten days, but they do not understand pulling 170 pounds through the water for 5,000. If you do pulling and you do in-water things that maintain the strength, we have had our best performances off weights for six weeks. It is almost across the board, women also. I think you have got to work a long time in order to do that.
Key moments: Learning stuff. Freshman year, we just established what we wanted to do. He had a great surrounding cast of a lot of good older guys that he could follow. It was really fantastic. His sophomore year, we had a rocky start. There was a key moment. Everyone in here has had it if you have coached any length of time. I had a parent of one of our college swimers, now I know you think it doesn’t exist in college, but it does. I had a parent that was absolutely certain that we were doing too much work and that we were working too hard. He was an ex-swimmer himself. He went through the entire team. He called every single parent on my college team and told them that we were out of line. So, you think you age groups coaches have problems. You can have it at the college level. I had the same situation. He called my athletic director who didn’t listen to him at all. Called every parent on the team. He actually key-holed other individuals that swam in his son’s group. His son was a pretty good swimmer but never achieved what he was capable of achieving. I was a hammer guy with him. Maybe I should have just not worried about it. I mean that was part of the problem and it was a real problem. Unfortunately, Ryan was listening to him because the kid was older. Ryan had gotten to the point that he had been successful, but if you want to be really good in this sport you need to feel you never, ever arrive. That is why Michael was so successful. Michael continued to move on. He never arrived. There was always a new goal, a new aspiration. Ryan was very much the same way, but at this point we had a parent that told Ryan he was doing too much. The kid was telling him that Ryan was doing too much. He was older and Ryan was still a little young and influenceable. It got so bad at one point that I ended up kicking a whole group of guys off the team that year. I actually made a phone call to Ryan’s dad who fortunately is a swim coach, but even he was listening a little bit. He is a dad too. I have had the good fortune or misfortune; I work with about 10 kids whose parents are professional swim coaches. It is one of the hardest jobs there is because it is very hard as a parent to separate that parent role from the coach role. Ryan’s dad, fortunately, we had been drinking buddies for a long time and I had known him. I finally called him and I said, hey listen, you need to sit your son down and talk to him. I know Mr. X. has called you. I know that he has talked to you and I know you have some questions because at that point we are training hard. We were not very fast and I said you have two choices. I think of it this way, you have been a coach for a long time, you are a professional swim coach, when have you had a parent contact kids on your team and tell them they are not swimming well that that parent was correct? I am your friend. I have known you for a long time. I want the best for your son. You need to sit your son down. Tell him to come in and see me and do what I ask him to do. He did that. It was a key moment in the guy’s swimming career. This is one of the problems you all have to deal with. He goes on and he makes a team that summer. From that point on there was never a problem. It was always a cooperative effort.
His junior year Nationals were in Orlando. Now you have got to remember in Athens we are second to Michael and we are really happy with it. He made the team. He goes and he holds up his leg in the 800 freestyle relay. We were not sure we were able to do it twice. He holds on and he makes the team and swims really well. He comes back, but he still doesn’t think he is that good. We swam the US Nationals. I think it was in January or February, long course that year as one of our collegiate meets. He gets beat in the 200 IM pretty bad by Michael. He gets out of the water afterwards comes over to me and he said, “what do I have to do to swim with that guy?” I had been trying to sell him for two years on kicking underwater. He wasn’t good at it out of high school. He didn’t do it and he wouldn’t buy into it. I said, “if you really want to beat him there is no way we are going to beat him unless we at least get as good as he is under the water” and he said, “how do I do that?” I said come to practice and work on it every single day. He did just that. I have had lots of people ask, what do you do? I have worked with some pretty good underwater swimmers, Martin Zubero, Alex Lim, a kid I had in high school and Ryan did just what they did. You have got to do it everyday. You cannot allow exceptions. You have got to be on top of it so that was a key point for him.
His senior year it was really key because he assumed a leadership role. I saw a completely different level of maturity. Really good peer support. Martin Wilby pulled me aside his senior year and his comment was, he says, “I think one of the best things we had done with Ryan was he was always part of the group, no matter how good he was, there was no exception for Ryan because he was Ryan Lochte.” He didn’t mess up very often, but when he did he caught it just like everyone else. I think it is really key because what it has done, it has created a whole support group for him because there is no indignation on our team about Ryan. They really value what he does and he does it so well and it has them better too.
Summer Pan-Pacs, I already told you that story about coming back from the Pan-Pac’s. Melbourne he had complete focus. He made a real plan there. It was fantastic. The Olympics in Beijing he had 52 weeks of two 26 week programs. I talked about what we laid out. We were on the numbers the entire way. It was scary. In practices, what I asked for in practice, what we wanted to see in the quality sets, the goal times we set for the short course nationals in December were on the money. Then what we wanted to do unshaved with no rest in Manchester in the spring, on the money. The leg injury hurt us and missing that one meet hurt us. When we went to the trials, the 400 IM was pretty much on the money except for the turns. The 100 backstroke was a little bit of a bump in the road. We probably swam the wrong event. He probably should have been in the 200 freestyle, but we were a product of our own success. When he did so well, he was 2nd at the World Championships in the 100 back, you always need to decipher the information you get. I got some great information, but I had people tell me that we really needed to focus. He could be a 52.5 in the 100 back, but we needed to do some more speed work. We did more speed work backstroke. We did too much of it. So much so that we couldn’t control the speed that we had. I think if I had it to do over I would have scrapped the back and swum the two free. He was 1:44.2 in the relay. He was the second fastest at our trials. I think in an individual event he would have been 1:43+ – 1:42 low. I think he would have been second at the Olympics, but at that point we were so far along the backstroke mode that we decided to go with the animal that brought us. We didn’t want to make a change. He missed the finish at night. Little things are a little bit of a problem for him once in a while. It gets back to that ADD thing. He just does too many little things wrong still. Then we come back and the 200 backstroke was good. We didn’t win, but we were really happy with the time for where we were training. The 200 IM double was fantastic. I really believe, in retrospect, that we got a little bit of an invincible attitude because we had been so much on track. I had no real problem with him at all for 24 months, but in our training camp. I don’t think Ryan would mind me sharing this. In our training camp we had about a 5 day window where we were not on the same page. It was a completely different deal for me. I think that part of it was the meet and part of it was in the training camp environment. You do not have the same rapport with your athletes because other individuals are around. Part of it was some outside distractions, nothing major, very normal things and part of it might have been…I think he got to the point a little bit that I have been on track so far, I am going to be great without having to do anything. I don’t know. It is really hard in a training camp where there are teams, athletes from different places and all kinds of great coaches. I finally pulled him aside and I said listen, we spent three days now where you are doing it, but it isn’t right. I know it and he knows it. I said, “I have never worked with an athlete nor seen an athlete that is fighting with their coach that has been successful.” I said, “it is a cooperative effort and if we are not going to cooperate on it then you can go and swim with any of those other groups, any of those other coaches, you can go and do whatever you want to do. I will go and work with these other folks. I am not going to waste my next two weeks fighting with you and ruin what we have done.” He looked me in the eye and shook my hand. That afternoon he was a different guy, but those five days really shook him a little bit. He wasn’t quite where he needed to be or maybe I just didn’t do a good job coaching. I don’t know. I still think he is better in the 400 IM. Anyway, it is never as easy as it looks. I really do think he thought he was a little invincible.
Question: For early season, what kind of kicking do you do?
Answer: For early season we work underwaters. Our pool is 22 ½ across. They have gone cycles as many of 20, 2 minutes kick, streamline. We go 4 25’s under water. We call them 25’s, but it is 12 ½ – 4 25’s under water on 20 seconds – 30 seconds – really hard. Go 20 cycles of that and they may have a minute’s break between cycles. That is early season. Does that make sense? It is really hard stuff. Then some modification to that as we go through the season, you know, a little bit less. Thanks for being with me. I appreciate it.