Training the Mind of Sprinters by Mike Bottom (2005)


Introduction: When you look in your clinic program and you look on page 34, it will tell you that Mike Bottom has a mission to educate coaches about sprint training. Then if you look on your topic for this afternoon, you will hear that he is going to educate us on training the mind of sprinters, which some people call a “Mission Impossible”. Not that we need education. We know that his athletes have won medals at the last two Olympics. We know that his college team won the three freestyle sprint relays at the NCAA Championships and we know when we look around and watch him coach that this is one detail-specific coach, aimed at excellence and without taking any more of his time, Mike Bottom – tell us about the mind training for sprinters.

Coach Bottom: Thank you. Well this is a little bit different for me in that I do not have any videos to show you or any starting blocks to dive off of so we will have to do it a little bit differently today. We are talking about the mind of sprinters, which really, let’s start not from the beginning, but with the mind of sprinters I think you have to start at the end. I think when I am talking today, you are not going to be thinking only of sprinters and I hope that you don’t, because this really isn’t about sprinters, it is about athletes and it is about training the mind of athletes to become the best.

Let’s begin at the end and right now is a great time to begin at the end. If we think about what is going on in the world today and it doesn’t seem to just be happening you know, yesterday or a week ago or two weeks ago or a year ago, we see a lot of people either making decisions in their lives to either help other people or not help other people. With this whole thing of Katrina, the thing that gets my gut the most is there are good people there. They are sacrificing not only their monetary things, but even their lives and there are not so good people there who are taking and taking and taking and complaining. Without judgment of those people, I think as coaches, we have to start at the end and what are we creating?

What is it that we are creating as we work through the lives of these athletes from 5 years old until 30 – 31 years old and maybe some of you are coaching older athletes in Masters. I think what we are creating is we are creating something we want to be proud of, so if you are going to coach sprinters or anything else I think you need to start where you really want to end up. I will just tell you about three of my athletes that I am so proud of. One of them, his name is Bart Kizerowski and the guy is golden.

We are about to impart on an adventure of raising a daughter and if I were to find a guy for my daughter and this is the way I think now days, this is a strange thing; it is an unbelievable change. I would like somebody like Bart Kizerowski who was a sprinter and who, at age 27, after coaching the distance team last year at CAL, went a 21.9 at the World Championships this year, but the guy is golden. He will help anybody out. He will do anything for the team and I will tell you stories about him later on.

The other one is a guy named Scott Greenwood, who was not a very good guy out of high school as far as speed. He joined, when I was coaching at S.C. He joined me at S.C. and then he moved to CAL when I went there. I think he was a 22+ 50 yard freestyler who ended up to be a 19.9 guy. Now he is working to raise money for the CAL swim team. You know, he has gone out there and now he is working to help the program.

The third guy is a guy named Anthony Irvin, who everybody thought was out for himself, even during the college season. The first couple of years everybody was going oh, how do you deal with this guy? Well, last year he sold his medal for $17,000 and everybody goes well, why did he do that? Was he hurting for money? No, he didn’t get one penny of that. He gave it to the Tsunami Relief Fund and I am sure that if he had another medal he would probably sell it for this current hurricane relief fund, but those are the kinds of individuals that I think we all want.

Now, you take a step back. The next step is to get them fast, to get them to make their goals. That is an important part of the process. You know, there are some coaches that say, “I just coach the individual I want.” I want good people that finish. I want good people to walk out the doors of my program. I want them to have strong values. I want them to be able to give back to their communities, but I also want them fast and I don’t hide that fact. I want them fast. I want them to improve. I want to see the improvement throughout the program because I think that that is part of them learning to become the end product. Now this is preparation. This is before you even get into the mental training.

I think you have to set, you have to take a step back and figure out what you want to create and the #1 thing is who do you want to create. The next thing is team with the experts. I know that I don’t know everything and I think that, I would hope that you know that you don’t know everything, but we are going to work on, as a team, we are going to work on every part of our athlete’s life.

There is a guy, Bruce Patmous, who was a very smart guy when he worked with Anthony Irvin. What he did is he brought Anthony’s dad in to run the weight program. Anthony’s dad comes in and who comes in with Anthony’s dad? Anthony. If Anthony’s dad is there to run the program, you could bet that Anthony is going to be there. Bruce was smart enough to know okay? This guy, I am not sure if I can get him out of bed, but I know his dad can. That is the important thing is to figure out how you can get it done without doing it, without doing everything.

There is nutrition. There is sport psychology. There is and the truth is, in all your programs, you have unbelievable resources. One of my best friends works with a Masters program in Tennessee and I am amazed at what he has his Masters Swimming doing for his whole program. He has got Masters swimmers doing his web site. He has got Masters swimmers doing his nutritional counseling. He has got Masters swimmers and they love it, because they are part of the whole team. Learn from the past. Coaches, the greatest teaching tool that you have is your past. Why? Because if you really feel your past, it affects you more than somebody else’s past.

In 2003, I had a group of guys and I told them at the beginning of the season, I said guys, we are going to work real hard this season. As a matter of fact we are going to work so hard your end of season results might be affected, because we want to get to 2004. We want to be the best in 2004. So, we are going to work real hard in 2003, okay? And that is exactly what we did and I had a group of guys that worked so hard that I beat the heck out of them and when they got to the World Championships in 2003, they were struggling. I knew they were struggling and by the end of the meet they knew they were struggling.

I hadn’t given them enough rest. I had overworked them, but those same guys in 2004 were phenomenal, but there was one thing I did not consider in 2003 — that their federations, a lot of them, give their support year by year. When they didn’t get in the top three or they didn’t make their standards or they didn’t do this or they didn’t do that, all of a sudden these guys were there with no money. They had no money to support them. I learned a valuable lesson that year. I am never going to do that again. No matter how much better I think I could get them in 2004, I am never going to put a group of guys through what they had to go through in 2003+ to get to 2004. Sure, their funding came back in 2004, but they were struggling. They were making sandwiches in 2003 in order to just survive.

Know your game plan, and I wish, I really do wish, because like it was said my goal is to give you everything that I know about training sprinters because I have a passion to not have to go through what I went through as a college athlete as a sprinter, because sprinters are different and I have a game plan and I have been working on this game plan since the early 90’s and I wish I could give it to you, but I can’t. So, I am giving this to you. You have to have a game plan. Use the other things and develop a game plan. There are enough resources out there, if you are coaching sprinters or coaching distance or whoever you are coaching, to have a game plan. Understand what you want to accomplish during the season and the last thing, with sprinters, is to sweat the small stuff.

In your game plan, write down the important things that you consider important for these people or these athletes to do at the end of the year. You want their turns good. You want their finishes. Those are easy ones, but you also want them to eat right. You also want them to sleep well. You want them to do a lot of things. David Marsh, when I worked with David, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life because he taught me that a man isn’t what he does in the water. A man or a swimmer, a great swimmer is what he does in his life or her life. It is not really only about those two hours in the water. It is about those 22 hours outside the water that really matter, almost more, than those two hours in the water. It is the recovery. It is the sleep and on, and on and on.

All right, let’s go now we have done the preparation. Let’s look at coaching. I am going to put out two postulates. The first thing is you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink or you could coach your donkey and you can get no change out of your athletes. How many of you have spoken until you are blue in the face? I have done it over and over and over and over again. So, how do you coach your athlete to make a change? Making the change is what we are trying to do. We are trying to make changes. We have a plan. We could have the greatest plan in the world, but unless those athletes want to go that direction or choose to go that direction, you are not going to get them to do what you want them to do.

As soon as it is foggy in the morning they are going to be turning around in the middle of the pool. As soon s they are getting tired, they are going to be going to the bathroom. It happens to everybody. The idea is to get them to want to drink. So, the first thing, the first option we have, the first way to get this done is to work your athletes so they have to drink. You just have them swim back and forth and you know I have mellowed in my old age. I used to be able, like if I put #1 up there I would be discouraging that, but I am going to even give you encouragement that this does work.

I was reading Swimming World magazine, which has done a great job over the years, thank you Swimming World and one of their “how they train” sections was, I think it was Kallen Keller. She was talking about Mark Schubert’s training methods. I had worked for Mark for a few years so I am very familiar with what he has them do and sometimes you have to train so fast that you cannot even make the intervals. Even if you are a great swimmer, the intervals are so tight that you cannot make them. So Kallen, what she was saying is that she had learned to adjust her stroke. She learned to change her stroke so that she could make those intervals. So she made the change during the work. That is not something that is going to work for everybody, but does work for some people.

Let’s talk quickly about sprinters. They define ADAHD here. A sprinter exhibits a behavioral condition in which he or she has difficulty paying attention and focusing on tasks, often disrupts directed activity with inappropriate behavior, has an observed ability to hyper-focus on self-desired tasks, okay? So, here is a good definition of a sprinter or an ADAHD, however you want to look at it, but any of you probably have coached age groups can put a lot of your athletes into this category. Whether you call them sprinters or whether you just call them kids with a lot of energy or however you want to define them this definition does cover a lot of athletes.

Q. Are you saying this applies to women swimmers, sprinters? A. No, no, not women. My little girl, we are going to have a little girl by the way. Let’s look at this last, has an observed ability to hyper-focus on self-desires, self-desired tasks. That is the key. Remember, what we are trying to do is get them to drink. The first one was we are going to work them. We are going to work them and they will learn to change. They will learn to take the drink. I am not sure that is going to work on a lot of sprinters. As a matter of fact, I bet that if you have sprinters in your younger groups and you try to go with route #1, I would bet that you are going to lose them. They are going to go and play basketball or soccer or another sport where they can be a little bit freer to do things. So, let’s look at two more options. You notice the word option, I am getting so much better.

About eight years ago I would not even have given option #1. Let’s say #2, you can motivate your athlete to take a drink or make a change. Motivating athletes is so much fun. That is motivating athletes is what, as a coach, it is when you get up on deck and you have just had your mocha. You got this great energy and the chocolate is giving you that euphoric good thing and the caffeine is giving you that energy and you are ready to motivate. You get up there and you are on and everybody has been here. Everybody has been here, every coach has been there when they are up there and they are pacing back and forth and you are saying the things and the kids are looking at you. They are all looking at you and you are feeling whoa, I am a coach. It happens and it happens every once in a while, believe me, but it hard to keep that. It is hard to keep them going that way isn’t it?

You know, if I had mocha every morning I might get maybe 60% of those kinds of mornings and I don’t get mocha every morning. The last option and I wanted to say quickly since we are in Jack Nelson territory. If you ever had an opportunity to watch that guy march up and down the deck, it is a great experience because the guy can do it better than anybody I have ever seen. He is an amazing animal. You could teach your athletes to sniff out the water and when they find it, you ask them for a drink. So, what does that really mean? You teach them how to experiment with change and when they have a realization, you learn from them. I am going to tell you that this can happen. This can happen with athletes of every level and you have seen it happen and sometimes when it happens, you want to say yeah, I told you that. I already told you that exactly. That is wrong don’t do that. You don’t say that is what I told you about.

What you do is you ask them how did you learn that? And one of the greatest experiences of my life and I can vividly remember it is, I am walking on the bulkhead. We had the 50 meter pool gone and the bulkhead was across the middle for some reason. We had set it up, but we were still going width-wise. I am walking along the bulk-head and Anthony is swimming along here and he stops in the middle of the set and he goes Mike, he looks at me and his eyes were as, you know it’s just like, Mike I figured it out. I said what did you figure out Anthony? I mean it was like I stopped.

I stopped everything and let everybody keep going. I just stopped with Anthony and I said, talk to me Anthony. Tell me what you figured out. He started telling me about how the catch was connected and this is and you know you just felt it and then I stopped the whole workout and I said, Anthony will you just tell these guys what you just learned. That moment, at that moment Anthony experienced the pleasure of his first moments of swimming. He experienced a realization that he could do something that was different. That he could make a change, make an action and have it happen. It was a wonderful thing and as I said, it doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens more often than we realize. I would challenge you, as coaches, to keep your eye out for those opportunities, because they are great opportunities and then shrink your ego, just a little bit and say WOW! How did you learn that? Have them teach and coach because that is going to teach them how to learn, how to drink and then they share the drink with you. It is a great experience.

The second postulate is without an understanding of cause and effect there will be no learning, only reaction. We have all seen it and we see it in everyday life. The cause and effect, people that do not understand the real cause and effect of life, only react. If you do not believe me go onto the freeway in LA and drive 45 miles an hour. I guarantee you there is a cause and effect there that most people wont even know that they are doing. It’s a twitch. So one of the things that I learned and Nort Thornton is an amazing animal because at age 45, no, I am not sure how old Nort is, a young man, at a young age of close to 70. I don’t know. I have never asked him. He is still learning and he forgets more than what I have learned or what I will learn.

But at one point he remembered and started to tell me about this guy Martin Siegelman. His first book was learned pessimism. If you have an opportunity, get this book because one of the things about this book is that it will allow you to test your own way of looking at things and I re-took the test before I did this talk and I haven’t changed a whole lot. I have changed a little bit, but not a whole lot, which was a little disappointing. What he talks about is the dimensions of cause. We are going to talk just a little bit about dimensions of cause because I believe that this is the most important thing that you could teach your athletes. Whether it be sprinters or distance swimmers, is how to look at successes and how to look at failures.

The first dimension is permanent. He came to CAL when, this was in the 80’s, he came to CAL and did a test on the athletes at CAL. Then he predicted and Nort has told about this, then he predicted, we did a set or they did a set and he predicted what would happen during this set. They had monitors that actually gave people slower times than they did and gave people faster times than they did and then they watched how they responded to that news of going slower or faster than they thought. He was able to predict, just by using these dimensions of cause, who would get faster on the next repeat and who would go slower and it is about the way that the athletes thought and that can be changed.

As a coach, it is one of your greatest opportunities, to change the way that people think. All right – permanent versus temporary. Let’s look at a few swimmers here and you tell me how they are feeling right now. They just had a swim. Who are they attributing? What is the cause of this great swim? Can you see it in their faces? Every one of these, this is Gordon down here, 200 backstroke, and this is Anthony Irvin, Gary Hall, and this is Selime Iles from Africa. Algeria. Dewey has this thing where he goes like this right? It happened at NCAA’s and you know what? The truth is most of you would look at this and my wife said you know, people see Gary doing this and they just kind of go, it almost upsets you to see a guy taking credit for his own swim.

As a coach, I can guarantee you, you are going to have the similar response. When your athletes, your 10 year old finishes and beats everybody and stands up on the lane line and does one of these right? But you have to understand what is going on in the thought process. There was a great swim and what is that athlete attributing that great swim to? Himself, which is the most important thing that an athlete or a person can do. When you do something good, you need to attribute it to yourself and it needs to be a permanent attribution. It needs to say this is who I am you know? It is not what I just did, it is who I am.

As coaches that is a tough thing isn’t it? Truthfully, it is tough for me to say that I am a great sprint coach. It is tough. It is a hard thing because you don’t want to be cocky. You do not want to put other people down, especially if you are in the middle of the family. I am the second, my brother is up here and I am down here and truthfully it was very difficult for me to beat my brother. As a matter of fact, I avoided it and I apologized if I did. A lot of athletes are the same way. They don’t want to beat their friends. They don’t want to be permanently successful. It is up to us as coaches to say YES and when Gary wears his robe and when he gets fined whatever he got fined, you can bet that I am there saying Gary, you are Gary, you do that because you are Gary. Why? Because you are great.

You know that is what my job is, to help him attribute his success to him. Now the other side of that are these guys. If they fail, what are they going to attribute it to, a temporary cause, something that is temporary? A good example is Dewy. Dewy swam the 100 fly in the final of the 100 fly and twenty minutes later he swam the final of the 50 freestyle and I don’t know if you know, but Dewy got second in the 50 freestyle, but he was 7th in the hundred fly. Dewy’s best shot and we had talked about it. We thought Dewy’s best shot in the medal was 100 fly because the 50 free is such a crapshoot and you had to swim it after the 100 fly.

So, we finished the 100 fly where he has 20 minutes to get from the pool to the pool. He has got to warm down. He has got to change his suit. Bart Kizerowski who did not make the 50 freestyle, he was 9th in the 50 freestyle was there with me in the warm down pool and we are pulling up Dewy’s suit. He had worn an Arena suit in the fly and we were pulling up his Speedo suit in the freestyle and Dewy in the span of those 20 minutes gave me two great reasons why he didn’t swim well in the fly and both of them were very temporary. One was I had a cramp in my calf. Two, my suit filled up. Well, both of those were easily taken care of. I go, well okay, while I am pulling Dewy’s suit up, I am saying Bart, would you massage his calf a bit. Let’s get that thing out, let’s get it so it is going to be great. Then the suit, of course you know I am a Speedo guy. I’m saying, I told you you should have worn a Speedo. So both of those were taken care of, temporary attribution. They were temporary. He got up, he was ready for the 50 freestyle and he did his thing, 2nd place from the outside lane.

So, great swimmers attribute permanence, their greatness to permanence, and their short falls to something that is temporary. The next thing is pervasiveness. The dimension of cause is pervasiveness. Now pervasiveness, is this going to affect me now only? Or is this going to affect my whole life? One of the greatest stories of cause attribution for pervasiveness is in the 2000 Olympics when Alexander Popov was quoted as saying, “Gary Hall is a loser and he is from a family of losers”. When I heard that I smiled. I go ohhhh this is going to be good. Because Gary knows that he is a great swimmer and he knows that he comes not just, it’s not just a one time great swimmer. He comes from a father who was a great swimmer, from a grandfather who was a great swimmer, from a whole family of great swimmers.

So, Gary was able to quickly attribute you know all that does is set Gary to the attribution of universal cause. I am a great swimmer. Why? Not just because I am a great swimmer and I work hard, blah, blah, blah. I am a great swimmer because that is in my genes. It has been in my genes and some of you have athletes who have parents that are great swimmers or great, don’t be afraid to say to the kid hey, look at your dad, look at your mom. Your mom was the best volleyball player in all of the state. Your dad was a great football player. You don’t think you are going to be a great swimmer? You got no choice. That will go with that swimmer for the rest of his life because he will realize there is a universal cause for his greatness or her greatness.

On the other side of that, very specific again, I am going to use Dewy as an example because he is still with me and he is still as crazy as ever. Dewy one morning came and we had our Saturday morning set. He came in and told me I am not feeling well. He set himself up already. I am not feeling well blah, blah, blah, temporary excuse. He had a terrible workout. In the afternoon we had a team get-together and at the team get-together, it was at a house that has a foosball table. So, he had been sick the night before and truthfully, I didn’t even expect to see him because of the way that he was communicating that morning. He was there. He was on the foosball table when I walked in. I walked into the place and I looked through the door and there was Dewy like this, he has the hands up, he’s got the big smile on his face and I am looking at him and thinking what is Dewy doing here? He was playing foosball. He was the champion foosball player and he had already gone through almost everybody in the room and he was still on the foosball table.

His morning practice was very specific, morning practice. I am not feeling well for morning practice. It doesn’t matter about everything else. The cause of his failure or his not doing a very good practice was just very specific. Some great athletes attribute their failures to a very specific timetable and you can bet that it is not going to affect anything else he does in his life. He is going to go to school and that is not going to affect it. Well, there are some people that when something happens to them they cave in. As the book says they bleed all over the rest of their lives. Our job as coaches is to say, you know if there is a specific problem that is a specific problem. Now go home and take care of, go home and have some fun. You know you didn’t swim well today, but hey it’s going to happen another day. It doesn’t affect the rest of your life.

Personalization. Now this is a very tricky one. As coaches, this is probably the most difficult one and the truth is, it is the least effective one. It affects the swimmer’s emotional and self-esteem at the time. It is not so effective in the future, but the other two can affect the person for the rest of their life. This is more about a time thing, internal versus external. A great swimmer attributes fast swimming to internal causes and a slow race to external factors. Now, another word for this is blame. Blame is something that, as coaches, we want our swimmers to take responsibility for their actions. We don’t want them to blame other people. We don’t want them to blame other circumstances.

So, what we have them do is if they have a bad swim and they start blaming, oh the wall was you know, really slippery. That is why I had a bad swim. You say yeah, we stop them. We say, you know what? You are responsible. You are the one that needs to get that, you are not a good turner and you need to be a better turner. That doesn’t help them. We need to let them blame things.

Now I lived with a lot of my swimmers and we used to play cards and you get Miles, Gordon, Bart Kizerowski, Anthony Irvin and a bunch of guys sitting around a card table and it is really fun to see how people can attribute a deck of cards. You have a hand and whose fault is it that you got a bad hand? I can guarantee you that none of those guys took blame for their own hands, you know? They were dealt this hand and it was the dealer’s fault. It was your fault you scratched your eye. It was your fault you were looking over my shoulder. It was somebody else’s fault. All these guys, if they had a bad hand, it was somebody else’s fault. Now, here we go, a great swim, a great swimmer. A lousy swim, a lousy coach. Isn’t that the truth? And you know what? I hate to say this, we have to be, and our egos have got to be able to take that. Our egos have to be able to say you know what?

At the end of the season, when your swimmer does not swim a best time the whole season and it happens, maybe they just went through a growth spurt, maybe all their stroke whatever the cause is. Listen, I should have known this. I saw you growing; I should have made some changes in your stroke. I am sorry. The kid looks at you like, okay, all right coach, it’s your fault, but what happens at that point? There is a relationship and this is what we are going to do to make that different, okay? There is no blame on the kid and that is a really important you know. It is more important for the younger swimmers because you can quickly lose a swimmer if they internalize the cause of a season or the cause of a race because what does that say?

I will tell you a quick story about my baseball career. I was about 8 years old. I signed up for little league one season. The only time I got on base was when I got hit with a ball. I was a terrible baseball player, a terrible baseball player. Now what is that? That is internalization of that season, of that sport. I didn’t play baseball. I still do not play baseball. The only time I will hit a ball is if it is a grapefruit ball. Those big ones and somebody is pitching it nice and slow, otherwise I won’t go near it. Why, because I internalize that one season. That was it and you could do that to your young swimmers very easily. PE teachers do it to their students when they say to them oh you can’t do that. So, as a coach, and you can see this is all basic stuff, but this is stuff that I have to work with the sprinters on you know?

I have a guy named Rolandas Gimbutis, who is 6’ 10 ½”. He is huge and he is not just tall, he is big. He is 250 pounds. This guy, time after time in races, in the practice, he would just lift his head up and glide. You know where he gets it, he gets it from you. It is your fault. That guy did it because of you. Because, you know, you are coming in, the kid comes in and there are four people in front of him and what does he do? Well, he stops before he hits the guy in front of him or the girl in front of him. Learn to do it over the years so I understand this and I say Rolandis come on. You know how to finish. There is a line there and you put your hand there, you do this, blah, blah, blah and he looks at me and he shakes his head and I knew that he heard nothing.

So, the next time he does it and he does it again and again and finally I just get really upset and when I get upset my guys love it because I use every word in the book and I just %$^& on and on and on. I said what would make you make a change because I know 1. You are a great swimmer. I have seen you make a change in your stroke – you can make changes and you know I try to go through the other attributes to build him up, you know cause you are this, cause you are that, you are this. Why won’t you make a change and he looked at me and he said, I guess because I don’t really think it is important. I mean he said all right, okay let’s go on to something else. I stopped right there because I knew that he wasn’t going to make a change until he thought it was important so I was just waiting.

You can bet I was waiting and every time he touched the wall behind one of the guys I didn’t say anything. I was waiting for that important time because it was only practice. So in a dual meet, I think it was against Arizona. The points are stacking up and Rolandus missed, I mean he did one of his finishes. He got beat by a couple of 100ths and then I went over to him and I pull him aside and I got, I tried to get as many veins sticking out of my head as I could and I said, you know blah, blah, blah is this important enough? We could lose this frigging dual meet because YOU didn’t think it was important enough to get your hand on the wall. Eyes were big, *^&*()_ – you think it is important now? He goes, yeah it’s important.

So, and I am not doing this, I am doing this. So yes, he thought it was important and you know what? That meet in the relay he finished with a beautiful finish and you know what I did to him then? I ran up to him and I said YOU are a great finisher, you know? I literally wanted to attach that to him and help him see himself as a great finisher because one of the things that happens when somebody does not care about something and the coach cares about it is if you harp on him enough, if you nag him enough or her enough, they begin to see themselves as not a great finisher. You tell somebody enough times that you are not finishing correctly and pretty soon they are going to internalize that I am not a good swimmer. I don’t finish well. I better win this race early because I am not a very good finisher.

Finally he cares about it and finally he finishes well and my job then was to make that stick and you know what. He did not always finish great after that, but every time he did, instead of looking for what he was, when he wasn’t finishing well, I began to look at what he finished well. Every time he finished well, I went crazy. I would say YOU are a great finisher and I got him even to say over and over again I am a great finisher. I am a great finisher and this big guy is going, I would Rolandis – what are you? I am a great finisher. Even today I could go up to Rolandis and say, “Rolandus what are you? I am a great finisher. You might even be able to elicit the response; it is kind of programmed in there.

We have gone through, we have gone through the dimensions of cause and I hope that you as coaches can take this and move it to wherever you are living, whomever you are coaching. Sprinters are not the only ones that need to understand that they are great. Sprinters aren’t the only ones who need to understand that they are great people and that they are going to make a change in the environment. They are going to make a change in what is coming ahead in their generation.

We had a donation of 12.5 million dollars to the aquatics program at CAL Berkley. Last week we had four families come in for a little celebration of that gift. Part of that was they came and visited the pool and it just so happens that one of the individuals, the owner of Dreyer’s Ice Cream was walking through the pool and I said, look would you mind saying a couple of things to the guys? It would really mean a lot to the guys. They understand what you have done for the program. We appreciate that and we need to hear from you and I even laid it on a little thicker. I said and truthfully, they need to understand who you are because I keep telling them who you are. You have got to talk to them. But do you know what he said to them? He said, you guys are coming from a program and the reason we are giving you this program is because you are going to be givers. We are in this program. What our money is doing is creating a giver and you are going to go back to your communities. When you graduate here and you are going to help your community and you are going to help those people around you. Why? Because that is who you are and I was like beaming ear to ear because that was perfect.

In order to teach your athletes you have to know their dreams and if you get to know their dreams, you get a glimpse of their value system. Now it is one thing to hear somebody’s dreams and we all hear it. I coach college guys. I apologize if this is going to offend anybody, but sometimes these guys want to swim fast because they can get chicks? . Because they can get dates and they become popular. At least that is the way they see it and truthfully this is a World Record Holder told me this. This was his motivation. So my response to that was to listen and understand where he was. I needed to get a glimpse of where he was because I know where, I know the end of the road, I know where I want him to go so it doesn’t offend me that that is where he is right?

My job is to coach the reward path. Coach their reward path. To change them into and the truth is, this is a great, and you guys are a great example of that. Why do you coach? Why do you do what you do? How many of you coach for money here? How many are making the big bucks here and they are coaching for money? There we go, honest man. There is an honest man in the house. I could point out a couple of coaches here. I know they are making twice what I am making. But even those guys, truthfully, you are not coaching for money.

What you are coaching for and I am not sure, everybody, but I would bet that a lot of you are coaching for the end product. A lot of you are coaching because you see that you can make a difference in that end product. The end product being, someone who is going to walk out of your door and help somebody. Somebody is going to walk out of your doors and they are going to study hard. Somebody is going to walk out of your doors and become a doctor or somebody is going to, I would say a lawyer, but no more lawyers, we don’t need lawyers, let’s all agree on that. But, that is where we are going.

So, that is what we are coaching. We are coaching to that pure sport and the definition, this is my own definition of pure sport, it is a reaction to sporting activity that leads to the achievement of a goal fulfillment and in turn inspires personal and team growth and team. When I say team, I mean everybody around them. Somebody who achieves a goal but not only just achieves a goal, but aspires and inspires people, that is what sport is about. That is why we watch sport. We watch it to be excited, but we also, the main thing is we want to be inspired. We want to see somebody doing something that is inspiring. I mean – they do the replays you know? Those are what we love to see, you know?

We have got a short circuit. As coaches, we have to short circuit those people who would take the short cuts to do things in a way that won’t get them to pure sport. Taking performance enhancing drugs, cheating, doing things that will short circuit what we are trying to do. I mean, the truth is we are just swim coaches, no matter how good a coach, no matter how many gold medals your swimmer wins. We are swim coaches and that is the greatest excuse of life. If something happens you just say, I am just a swim coach and you get the look on your face and they are like ah okay, sure. It works. But, that is it. We are swim coaches with a higher purpose and we don’t get paid. We don’t get a lot of pats on the back. I can guarantee that. I mean, how many times have you been patted, how many parents come to you, you know, and tell you your relay selection was awesome! It doesn’t happen so you are not in it for that. You are in it to really win.

To have those guys and girls that start out at 6 years old, come to me or come to another college coach and then you see them go on so, at the end of this talk I want to do one thing. I want everybody to stand up. Just for a second. This is the end of the talk. I want to give you a hand. I want to give you a hand because that is where you are going. Right here, pure sport, and if you can have that as a motivator, as an in-factor, truthfully, it doesn’t matter how fast your athletes swim, as long as they are improving. I can tell you story after story about some of my most exciting, inspirational swims, were not the guys that were breaking the World Records. It was Eric Dunapace who went 20.7 this year from a 22. It is Dash Rothberg who won the Maccabiah Games in the 50 and who I was trying to get off the team at the beginning of the year. Those are the guys. Those are the gals. So, give yourself a hand, give each other a hand, because that is where we are going.

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