Training with Speed and Pain by Chuck Warner (1999)


 Good morning and welcome to Larry King Live. We are going to try to do something, that in the twenty or so years that I have been at this clinic, I don’t think has ever been attempted. It is either going to be wonderful or it’s not. But we’re going to try to get into a specific area of training, and even lead into some performance things that I think you might find to be very interesting. I need to give you a little background before I bring these guys up to explain why I think there is some value in doing this, this morning. If we could turn the lights down in the far corner over here. This is a difficult chart to see, so let me just explain to you what it says, basically.


This is a history of the 1500-meter freestyle and the progression at each Olympics from back in 1904 or so through 1996, and there are two big leaps in time. They are from 1968 to 1972, and there’s about a 50 second improvement and it was basically Mike Burton that went from one Olympics  to the next, which has never happened before, making that improvement single-handedly. And the second which was the largest percentage of improvement ever at about 4% over four years, which was between 1972 and 1976 when the 1500 went from 15.52 to 15.02. I don’t know how many of you can see these slides, these are pretty tough even for me over here. This is Tim, Brian and Bob as well as Paul Hartloff and Casey Converse. It’s a slide that I put up there last year that takes them from 1972 to 1976, and if you can see this you will see the difference in improvement. Tim went from 4.13 in the 400 to 3.51 over the course of three years. You’ll see Brian at 15.57 two years before at Montreal and two years later at 15.02. You’ll see Bob Hackett 18.12, 16.34, 16.16, 15.32, 15.03, just an incredible progression from year to year. This was also the height of American men’s distance swimming.


As shown by this graph, the red line is the United States and the dark line is the rest of the world and the percentage of world rankings the United States had… I’m sorry, the percentage of world rankings the United States had is the black line and the red line is California. The peak you see there is 1975 when we had eight out of ten guys of the top ten world ranked 1500 swimmers and in the 400 we had ten of the top ten. So it was that one special moment in time where we dominated.


This whole subject, which I won’t get into at length, but created the idea of writing a book about these four guys, there’s Tim and Brian and Bob and Steven Holland too and Bill Sweetenham was Coaching into the 1976 Olympics, a book called “Four Champions, One Gold Medal”. Through the process of writing this book, another challenging  slide to see, I wrote three stories to start out with. One of each  of the three lives of Bob and Brian and Tim and then went back and looked at what were the things that were common to each of them, and then re-weaved the story together again so that it addressed some of those characteristics. Without going through this whole pyramid that is in the book, when we got to the next to last rung below being a champion, this is just Chuck Warner’s opinion, the next to last rung was out-of-body training and out-of-body performance. What I mean by that is their capacity, and Steven as well, to be able to deal with pain and to be able to train fast, and that is what we are going to talk about this morning.


First of all, I am going to go from youngest to oldest. I want to introduce to you a fellow that between 1973 at twelve years old or thirteen years old was in the top eight in the 1500 at our national championships. He progressed over the next four or five years to become the silver medalist at Montreal with a time of 15.03 which still stands as the third fastest swim in the history of American swimming. He would have been fourth at the Atlanta games. By 1978 he was a member of the world championship 800 free relay splitting 149. He had a wonderful career at Harvard where he graduated. I would like to introduce to you the third fastest 1500 swimmer of all time in the United States, Bob Hackett. Before there was ever Matt and Tom  Jager, there was Brian and Bob, the icon of distance swimming. And the event that everybody wanted to go see in the late 70’s, the national championships, was to watch Bob and Brian race the mile. Brian was someone that came on between 1974 and 1975 in a rush and by 1976 he was the world record holder at the Olympic trials in the 400 and the 1500. In Montreal he won the 400 and 1500, setting records in both events, and between 1977 and 1979, or 1980, along with Bob, ruled the American men’s distance swimming. He won 9 NCAA championships in his first three years of college swimming before he got sick his senior year. During his collegiate years, he not only was a great distance swimmer, but would lead off his 800 free relay at 135, something we have a difficult time getting American men to do today, lead off for his 400 free relay in 45.


The second fastest distance swimmer of all time, Brian Goodell. Long before Australia had Ian Thorpe, we had Tim. In 1974, the 200, 400, 1500 world records. This had only been done one other time or held one other time by one person who was John Conrad.  Tim  was someone, in the words   of his Coach Dick Jochums, that between 1974 and 1975 took American men’s distance swimming, picked it up put it on his back and carried it ten steps forward. Sometimes I wonder in looking back, if Steven Holland might have been the Karen Perkins of the 1970’s if it wasn’t for Tim  Shaw, because while the American men were coming after Tim, Tim was going after the world. He set seven world records during his swimming career. He continued to go on past the 1976 Olympics when he was under the world record which would have been a top eight time at the Atlanta Olympics swimming 352 in the 400 free. By 1984, also making the US water polo team winning a silver medal and becoming the first and only person other than Johnnie “Tarzan” Weismiller to win a medal in both swimming and water polo. The 1975 Sullivan Award winner as the greatest amateur athlete in America, Tim Shaw. This is the first time in a long time that these guys have been together and some of this gets to be difficult for me at times, and I’m sure they’ll take over if I stop talking.


I’ve coached some great swimmers and some people that have been Olympic gold medalists during the course of their career, but I’ve never coached anybody like these guys. They are very, very special, and I think as we go through this you will start to get a little more of an idea why.


We are going to start out with Bob defining pain and swimming and Bob explaining back at the Flushing Y,  that  first 16.50 that you ever swam and what it was like and how it felt and what it meant to you. Bob answers, “I’m happy to do that. It’s one of those sort of defining moments when you’re a twelve-year-old if I can remember that far back then. We were talking about it last night, that for me I can still see the pool, smell the chlorine, see the coach and see the swimmers. For me, I really had a difficult time when I was eleven, I wasn’t swimming as well and I had just joined the Brunelle’s Gators, and I was rapidly improving my times in practice in the mile. We used to swim every Sunday a timed trial of a 16.50, and I had a lot of fun trying to catch guys that were five, six, seven years older than me in a very small pool, swimming eight across and they always forced me to swim against the wall.


All of those things were sort of very helpful for me, in sort of defining my approach to that kind of race. I was joking last night with everybody at dinner that the thing that was actually the most painful thing about that race was not the race itself, but it was the rubdown that I got prior to that. And it just so happens that the gentleman is here that gave me that rubdown that long ago, which is Ed Camons, who is right here. When you see him you’ll see why it hurt so much. Ed please stand up. For me, I have to say that was probably the most painful mile I ever swam in my life, because even when I was twelve years old I went out fast and I went out fast to see how long I was going to hang on. I love to be out in front, and you know a lot of my teammates were in that final, I’m twelve years old and I’m in the finally in the local region meet, it was a pretty big deal for me and for anybody. For me that pain, I can still feel that pain, I can feel the pain right here in my arms, and I mean, Ed could see, I was dying at the end, but my time improved so tremendously and that to me was a feeling that I felt. For me as I progressed in the years from twelve to thirteen to fourteen, kind of fight through that pain and try to figure out how to improve while continuing to go out at a fairly rapid rate.”


(Question.) Bob, how did you feel about that pain for the first time that you felt?


You know, I actually, maybe I’m just worked and that’s why I’m a distance swimmer, but I really liked that pain a lot. To me the more it hurt in practice, and in fact the more it hurt in a race, you know, it was good. I actually learned how to deal with the pain over the years, to kind of fight through the pain. Once you fight through the pain, either in a practice or in a particular race, and I vividly remember some of the races with Brian where I would be both hurting physically and hurting mentally, and all of a sudden see them kind of rapidly closing in at 1100, 1200 yards to kind of fight through that. It became more of a mental game for me, really focusing in my race, and I could still see it today of just really working on technique. When I got older I really worked on, in the middle of a race, in the nationals, count my strokes per lap, working on my turns, streamlining, making sure I’m kicking in and out, learning from some of the mistakes that I made when I was younger. When I found that I focused on finishing off my strokes, staying long, that the majority of the time I was able to kind of fight through the pain. Periodically, I wasn’t able to and most of the times although I wouldn’t admit it, it was probably because I didn’t work out hard enough up to that meet, but basically that’s how I kind of fought through it.


Okay, Brian are you okay? Do you have something that you want to add or do we move? Brian answers, “ No you can move.” Okay, Tim when you were twelve you would look over at the one end of the Belmont plaza pool and see Hanz Fashnock going three 1500’s with Coach Gambrell and that wasn’t necessarily the most interesting thing that you felt like you were headed for. Your speed efforts were more around seeing how fast you could climb into the gutter and get around to see Hanz. Can you tell everybody which kind of kid you were like between the age of eight and twelve?


Tim replies, Well I had a great opportunity to grow up in Long Beach and Belmont Plaza was right on the beach there. My age group Coach was Skip Kenny, and he just kept things loose and fun and basically we were just racing and goofing around all of the time. The gutters at Belmont you could actually just slide right in and crawl along the way and go down by the senior group. The trick for me with speed and training was to get past Hanz and the rest of the German group with Gambrell and not be detected and get past them because they would try to drown you if they ever caught you in there and teach you a lesson. But at the time I really appreciated Skip because we could look down there, and we knew that our training bar mitzvah was to come sooner or later when we were going to have to make the step and transition into really hard work.


What do you remember about when the idea of  swimming faster in practice, was that the advent of Coach Jochums or when did that kick in, looking at the pace clock and knowing times and improving sets was real important?


I think there were two great opportunities for me. Skip gave me sort of the fun speed and the extrinsic value of racing your buddies and having fun and going fast and being on the relays. Then when Stone Cold Steve Austin walked in the door, there’s Dick Jochums with his butch hair-cut and his bravado. The great thing about Jochums is when I was thirteen or fourteen, a young man growing up and ready to mature and wondering all kinds of things about life and what is to come, what came out of his mouth was Greek philosophy. And it was about the process and the struggle and it was about the meaning of life and the importance of measuring success on your own individual effort. I couldn’t believe that the Greek mythology was coming from such a man like Jochums. He just sold me on the reality of why we should be in sports in the first place, and so he gave me the intrinsic value of the sheer enjoyment of performance through pain and speed in training to reach my best potential.


We are going to look at a few things, if we can dim the lights over here up on the screen. This is a graph that I put up last year, which is, it may be inverted but believe it or not it still works. The idea is that at eleven and twelve years old these kids were training pretty much training 30,000 yards a week. I noticed that with Graham Hackett they say the same type of thing about him. Six practices a week, 5000 or 6000 a day. And then over three seasons, basically adding some doubles in the summer, keeping the doubles the next winter and then adding more doubles the following summer, they vaulted up to somewhere between 80,000 or so yards or meters a week for Tim and as many as 100,000 to 110,000 for Brian and Bob. That graph doesn’t exactly show it but it could have, oh boy, okay.


We had the other splits of 1500 from those days compared to now, but this is kind of interesting. This is Eric Vendt 15.10, his average 100’s were 007, Chris Thompson 15.04 average, 100’s were 003, Graham Hackett the summer at Pan-Pac average 59.0 and Karen Perkins 58.8. If we had looked at the previous slide, or if I had been visible, you would have noticed that Kieren Perkins’ last five 100’s of his world record swim are almost identical to Brian’s last five 100’s when he went 15.02. As a matter of fact, I think Brian may still stand as having the fastest last 500 in history of a 1500-meter swim. In the 400, the difference was in speed between 58.9 for Chad Carbin and Ian Thorpe 55’s. John can you throw up that first overhead please? We’ve got here a few overheads of Brian’s log book that we wanted  to talk about. The first one is going to be May 16, as this warms up a little bit, May 16, 1976 about five weeks before the Olympic trails. The morning practice is 11,000 the afternoon practice is about 8800. You will notice in the morning practice there’s five 1000’s or four 1000’s there, it’s the third row from the top and I can’t see it real well here but, Brian you start out with what 10.05, 10.10? 10.45, Brian says.10.45 and do you want to read off those.Brian says, The second one was 9.58, the third one was9.51 and the fourth one was 9.30.


Okay and down at the bottom, Brian’s got a comment there, absolutely dead, just really awful. That was 19,900 yards with five weeks to go. Um, John if you can pull that off, this slide is kind of mixing and matching. John hold-off on that one for just a second I think.


I think this next one is Casey Converse’s log book, and actually it is Brian, and it’s the next day or two afterwards and you had written in your log book that you were, you didn’t come to afternoon practice you were so exhausted I think. And this is Casey in practice, two 1500’s, the first one 16.28 and the second one 15.47. Can we go to the next one John? And we’re just trying to give an idea of what Brian was doing in those days.


The next overhead, this is the end of a second practice, two 800’s at the end on that day and Brian that’s kind of the epiphany swim there the second 800.


Can you talk about what happened in practice from a speed stand point, not necessarily from a visualization stand point.


Okay just the times is that what you want? Brian asks. Well yeah and your effort.

Brian answers, Okay. This is coming in on a period when I was in a slump I would call it in training. I felt awful I was stinking up the pool, I felt like that for about two weeks, I had been really down, really tired, exhausted, and not doing well in comparison to what my expectations were and what my teammates were doing. And we had an excellent training environment at Mission Viejo. We had what we called the animal lane, and we had Casey Converse and Taylor Howe and a number of great swimmers were there swimming with us, Jesse Vassallo, and so I was feeling pretty bad because I wasn’t leading the lane. Here I was, supposed to be one of the best distance swimmers in the world at the time, and I was kind of going at the end of the lane, dragging off everybody else and feeling pretty awful. And so finally I got fed up on this swim because my earlier one wasn’t to exciting there. And the second 800 in this workout was broken 10 seconds at the 100, and so I decided that I was feeling so terrible that I would just sprint the first 100 and if I died, I died, I didn’t care. In fact, I was starting to maybe think like Bobby Hackett here, just sprint out the first 100. Normally I didn’t do that. I usually saved quite a bit for the end of the race. And so I went out in a 61 flat, and then I went 60 points, 60 points, 60 points, 60 points and then a 59 and then 60 points, and then I think that was a 58 on the last 100.


The thing that I remember most about that swim was that I had a major mental break through in that race and that set me up I think right for the trails. And for that workout I remember Mark gave us a warm-down of like 400 and then he left the deck so everyone did a 300 and got out, except for me, and I was in there just relishing what I had just accomplished, the mental break through. And I kept swimming, and I think I swam about another 1200 meters that day. And I was just in the water, and I remember I was up on top and I was gliding and the strokes were long, and I felt like I was almost cross-country skiing, you know and I was just shushing through the water there and I remember Mark came out, he finally comes out and everyone else is gone, the showers were off and everyone else was out of there, and I’m still in the pool swimming, and he comes out and he’s standing on the side of the pool and he’s looking at me and he’s got his sunglasses on. I stopped and looked up at him and he goes, didn’t you get enough, and I said, it is amazing the power of the mind, and he just got this big grin on his face and so did I. It was, just like Chuck said, an epiphany for me, a real breakthrough, that I found out that I could break through that slump I could break through the pain.


And I’ll talk I guess a little bit more about how I did that in a minute.


This is the next day after that set, and I think the sequence in training here is interesting which is eight 100’s free on 130 going 55’s down to 53’s, 52’s. I think and then four dive 50’s free where Brian was going from 22.8 to 22.2. And I think this is just significant in the day after day type of speed work these guys were able to do still within the context of going 20000 yards, 15000 meters, whatever it is today, and certainly in contrast with some of the things we hear about just going miles, miles, miles.


Bob, this is, John you can take that off of there, this is a picture, a short story of Mike Brunner goes the 10000 swim averaging 1 minute under every 100 at the November Swim-A-Thon on Coach Rosen’s team in Danza. Joe Bernol hears about it and calls up Coach Rosen and confirms that it’s true, looks through his log book and see you have gone a few 100’s on a minute before and calls you in the next day and says Bob why don’t we do this, we’ll try it our way, and Bob by the way, training in a four lane 25 yard pool , there was a picture of it in Splash magazine recently, and why don’t we try thirty and if you can keep going, keep going, and if you don’t make it to one hundred 100’s today that’s all right. We’ll keep adding to what we did in the future and go from there.


Can you tell us about your epiphany and that experience and the element of speed involved?


Bob replies, You know Joe was always one to test the swimmers. He and I sort of had an understanding that he would give me these things to do, and I would shrug and smile and go off and do them. On this one, really on my development between the ages of fifteen and sixteen, I knew that I didn’t have much of a kick. But I knew that if I really wanted to break fifteen minutes swimming in a twenty five yard pool, four lanes with 65 swimmers, you know, I knew that I really had to do close to 54’s on my feet and really worked hard on splitting those 27, 27. And had been doing it fairly well for 15, 209 and we were starting to do a lot of these on 130, 120, 115, 110, and I would take them on a minute.


So when he approached me and said here’s what we’re going to do, I said okay fine and I knew I could do it. But I knew I could do it if I went 58’s, and I wasn’t doing it on my feet at that time, it was just a hand touch. And it started off, you know, everybody was in the lane and everybody was told that this lane is if you were going to do it under a minute. You go, if not, you basically increase the pace and you do your one hundred 100’s and you go them on 110, 120, whatever you could do. And certainly it was a team effort. I mean certainly the focus was on me, but you know you had 65 swimmers and you were kind of going along. And what ended up happening was, you know Joe is a master of the mind and manipulation in his own little way, he quietly started getting people out of the pool when I was going 56’s and 55’s. But I think probably that by the 60th one, half of the swimmers were out of the pool watching, and Joe had the other swimmers swimming next to me, trying to beat me. And so it became a game, and when I was swimming in practice it was me against the clock. You know, twelve people in the lane, really enjoying running them all over, you know. So for me it was the clock when I was swimming, and I was enjoying the fact that I was able to beat my fellow swimmers who were swimming 100’s every ten to fifteen minutes, and I was progressing and progressing.


So for me it was a phenomenal event, and when I got to fifty I knew I could keep going. I mean I went one hundred 100’s, but I could have probably gone another one hundred that day, and I threw in a 52 at the end, which for me was pretty darned fast at that time. It was great, and I had the whole team cheering and it was a very supportive environment for me. It was a very fulfilling kind of thing. As far as I was concerned, Mike Brenner did his 10,000-yard swim and Mike was the evil person as far as I was concerned. And I was able to one-up him and we progressed on those one hundred 100’s through the year where I was doing 54’s on my feet splitting 27’s and progressing along.


Tim, Coach Jochums gave you pretty much similar sets all the time. Can you tell everybody at least a couple of examples of what those sets were like and how fast you were commonly going on the?


Tim responds, We’ll I kind of liked and hated this one set, twelve 400’s, was my favorite and it always seemed to catch you around the sixth of seventh one. We would go a tiered four sets of three, and you’ve got a little break in between each set of three, but it was great to work on pace and descend at the same time. So the first group of three would be on a certain interval and the next group of three would be on a faster interval and the following a faster interval and the last group of three you would always get hung up around six or seven. You felt good, took it out a little strong and smooth, and now you are sort of stuck with the fact that you have got to go faster, but you are getting less rest on the intervals. That formula to me worked for twelve 100’s and twelve 200 and especially twelve 400’s, and I thought it was a great set and it got an awful lot of things accomplished at the same time.


How fast would you be going?


I would say, I can’t remember the times really, I would say on the last set of three 400 long course, we may be going on an interval of 420, and I might be holding about four 10’s. 420’s going four 10’s? I think so. And your typical set of 200’s was 10 on 230 or 245 long course or ten on 230 short course?


What I liked to do was basically descend every set, and I actually preferred an interval that was sort of strong, you know not to easy not to tough, and then just descent to all out. But the trick was, early on in the career you know, not just do numbers eight, nine and ten hard, but I remember Dick sold me on a point, that, you know, the day that I really make it a tight descending set, and I’m really moving on numbers three and four and really getting into it on five, six and seven, and then I come through and still perform great on eight, nine and ten, that’s when I’m going to be a champion.


147’s on 230, does that sound familiar, ballpark, yards?


I think I came down to maybe 144’s. Yes, in the middle of the set though 147’s. Yes, 147.


So if we are thinking about threshold type training today that you were swimming more like 147, where a lot of people might be going 155 or 157.


Yes and that’s in the Belmont at the shallow end with no lane lines and pretty crowded so you would have to duck and move and read out somebody that you were trying to lap.


We heard that you were throwing people out of your lane to get out of your way.


I threw a couple out of my lane. Brian adds, Chuck, we did similar sets like that. Tim’s sets reminded me of some things that we did, like twenty 200’s descending one to five, where number one would be the slowest and number twenty would be the fastest, and you guys know how that works, and we would go something like on, this is long course, 230, 225, 220, 215 something like that as intervals. And as Tim was saying picking it up where you’re getting pretty fast pretty early in that set is not common, I don’t think, and we used to really bag the first one, and then barely make the first interval and you know how people do that. They give themselves plenty of room for error.


I remember in getting ready for Montreal we had a special work-out group just for the people who qualified for the Olympic trails so we had plenty of room in our lanes. We had a half of a lane to ourselves, usually I think we had about thirteen people that qualified for the trails. And I remember leading off on one of those one morning and going 205 on the first one. I remember Shirley Babishoff coming in and looking across the pool at me, she was like four lanes over and she goes, what are you doing, because you know she went like 220 or something, and she was pissed. And everyone was looking at me too like glaring at me like, what was that about, you know, what’s Goodell trying to do. But you know what? We were so competitive that the next one they were all right there with me, and so I remember Mark taking me aside after that workout and saying, I really loved the way you attacked that set. And I fed off that, and I started doing that more and more throughout my training. I think that fast training really made that huge difference when it came down to the end.


Brian, this is Bobby Hackett’s least favorite song. Can you tell everybody a little bit about this song? And how it came into your training, and why now there is the Aqua-pacer, but in the old days there was ‘Radar Love’ and it gave you tempo. If you want to dance while you’re doing it that’s fine too?


Brian answers, This is a perfect tempo for a sub-15-minute mile.


Bobby adds, I’d be running it 78.


Yeah that’s Bobby, he’s going double speed. I heard this on the way to practice one day on the radio, and it just stuck. It just clicked for me, and everything I relate to, going back in my memory because now it has been so long ago, all of my memories are tied to people and songs. And so, and the songs that played in my head over and over in those practices, and this is one that caught on for me. And when I would kick into ‘Radar Love’ and ‘No more speed I’m almost there’ I could push through the pain, and  I would start really cranking.


And so there was one practice in particular I remember, and I just remember kicking into this at the end of a 3000-meter swim for time. It was a Sunday make-up workout. I didn’t want to be there. I was kind of bagging, but I knew that the times were being recorded, and that if I didn’t go fast, I’d get to that swim again on Monday. And so I got up to about 1500 meters in this 3000 swim, and said Goodell, you’ve got to swim faster, and so he started playing Olympics in the last 1500 of that 3000 for time. And I started singing ‘Radar Love’ and I started cranking, and I came in on my last, I remember on my last 100 of that. I was racing a guy named Jimmy Carter from Great Britain in the lane next to me, and I blew him away in the last three laps and came in. And Brad Lynn was his coach on the deck that day, and he just looked at me, and I came and hit the wall threw my hands in the air looked at the score board and saw that I had broken fifteen minutes. You know imaginary in my mind. And he says, what are you doing. And I said, I just won it all, and he said, well, not bad your last 100 was 59.2 on a 3000 swim in practice on a Sunday when I didn’t want to be there. So I would use music like that like ‘Radar Love’ especially, and I actually played ‘Radar Love’ in my head on that last 500 in Montreal to kick it in.


Tim you had your own method of keeping your mind out in front of your body, could you explain that?


Well I sort of thought there were two types of pain. One was associated with everything bad about the sport and your body. It was sort of like it could either happen when your head wasn’t into a set or it wasn’t at the meet that day, you didn’t show up to perform, or it could be in the middle of a mile where somebody pulls ahead and just plain old breaks your spirits. And at that point I felt that the world sort of collapses in on your body, and you start to notice little things about each limb of your body and everything collapses in like a black hole. And I think my success, going through pain and taking swims out and being in a zone was, when my mind was sort of out in front of my body about three to four meters. You know, sort of dragging me along, and I was in a groove and I sort of felt, you know, no overall specific pain, just a general deep pain building and building and pushing and pushing, and when my mind was out in front of my body, I felt that I was performing at my optimum.


And you had kind of an unusual situation in that even though Steven Holland might have been your biggest rival, you guys only got in the same race twice your entire career.


But it was interesting that Australia would have their nationals in January, and we would have ours in August. Can you talk about Steven Holland and the impact he made in training with you and motivating you?


I really think you know, that was the best for me, the Australian summers and their performances, and sometimes saltwater performances that were very fast and hearing the training coming out of there, you know you get past December the cold and flu season, and you are just about ready to have a slump, and the end isn’t really in sight for your high school or your college championships yet, and you hear news out of Australia as you’re sitting home deciding, well are you going to step up and get the job done for the United States and take the ball, or are you going to sit back and grovel and applaud their performances. And as for me you know every December and January, I would hear news of what was coming out of Steve Holland camp, and I would decide over one long night that I was going to take the ball and then visualize usually in the main set or anytime during the evening program, what is he doing in his pool in Australia, and what did he do today in performance. And I absolutely have to train harder than what I can imagine he is doing that day.


And he was a high mileage guy and you were a relatively low mileage guy in the sense of being about an 80000 a week guy, and so your feelings about intensity and speed in practice?


My feelings then and they still are to this day, are that you know mileage has to be done with speed and effort and leg drive and great wall, and if it’s not done with those kind of parameters, I think it’s just junk training and you are wasting a lot of time. You are burning out the kid, and it has to be specific. So, I felt that Steve Holland, he could sit there bragging about how many miles he went, but I felt that our quality miles were far surpassing his training over there because the one thing that supported it was you know he almost would do his best time in the 400 on the way to one of his great miles, and so I thought we were accomplishing more speed variables in our training.


Bob, you got into this a little bit earlier, but you said that every single day when you would go to practice you would be looking for the pain barrier and it was a regular event and the way Joe would train people was not tell them when practice would finish and work hard and work hard and you might get out at eight you might get out at nine, you weren’t really sure and the pride you took in going hard and continuing to go hard even though you didn’t know what was next. Could you talk about that a little bit?


Bob says, Yeah, Joe was, um, he never, you know, practice was about two and a half hours, and it was supposed to end around eight, and he is very much into the team performing at a high level, and I was part of the team. And like Tim, I always found that in a small pool, you get out and you race and you try and keep your sets real tight and real focused and Joe would keep us an extra hour to do a set and you know nine o’clock at night being at a University in the Bronx with my brother waiting, and you know turning around and the next thing you know several hours later, getting there at 5:45 to start the day all over again. You know I could see a lot of my teammates get real down, and you know I relished in knowing that I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I would throw in a set, and I would swear it was the last thing to do, and I would see this smile on his face, and I said oh my god here it comes again. And I know he prepared his practices, but I’m sure he threw a couple of things in there just to test you all the time. And you know to me it was a game. You swim with a guy from when you are twelve years old and you stop when you are twenty-one. You know, eventually I got to know the practices, and I got to know the body language, and I was able to actually predict what the practice was and the mileage and the time. So, after a while it was more of a game for me than to him. But I mean I liked practice, I really I loved training. I loved competing and for me, I didn’t have a lot of competition when I was swimming, so for me the clock and the running over people and playing games and focusing was really what drove me to be successful.


Was hurting in practice a well-received body sensation that you knew you were going to go through and beyond that you would train better?


It was a required part of the curriculum.


Thanks. Brian we want to get this video up here soon, but can you go back to that set of eight 100’s on 110 on ten seconds rest and your Supertramp visualizations and some of the things that you should probably write a book on alone, but hopefully we have covered some of that.


Yes, I was just talking kind of with Tim and with Bobby who had mentioned in terms of the pain varies and everyday it’s there. Tim has a great quote in the book about you know he’s there in every workout waiting for you, he’s going to arrive, and you’ve got to stare him down and face him down and go on. And one of the things that Tim just mentioned about being about three to four meters out in front of his body, I had a similar experience or technique that I used to push through the pain in practice. And, besides as he mentioned visualizing what Steve Holland was doing that day, I was visualizing what Tim Shaw was doing that day, and Bobby Hackett and Mike Bruner, and I also had a pack of guys in the lane with me that were right on my heels all of the time. So I had great competition and great rabbits to chase. But I used to imagine being a pilot in a 747 because it’s kind of like what Tim was saying, being out in front of your body. The pilot in a 747 sits way out on top he’s on this bubble on top of this fuselage there. He doesn’t feel the engines, he doesn’t hurt when the engines are screaming or when the plane is shuttering and shaking, he can feel it, but it doesn’t hurt his body. He just knows that the plane he’s pushing it to the edge and that’s the way I felt. I was the pilot, the body was the plane, and that it didn’t matter if the engines and the wings and all of the stress points were screaming like my arms and my legs and my back and my gut and everything else because I just separate it out from the body. I would just visualize myself sitting up there and just pushing the throttle all the way forward, and the whole thing falling apart and it just didn’t matter. I was just kind of just saying go, go, you know, kind of just like a Conair movie or something, just push the thing and just push it through even if the plane just gets destroyed. And that was just one thing that I did.


Chuck mentioned the Supertramp, there was a cover of an album by Supertramp called ‘Crime of the Century.’ I don’t know if you guys remember that, if you are old enough to remember that album, but that was one thing that I visualized. I particularly remember doing it on a set in Kanton in training camp with Bobby blowing me away on something some sets, and I was in such pain, and I remember just seeing, on that album there’s jail bars and there’s these hands and they are sort of suspended in the middle of space and   I imagined a box like a cage like that, and I just imagined exploding it, and the cage was the pain and the lactic acid and whatever was going on in my body that was making the muscles scream, and I imagined exploding that cage just by sure will of my mind, and then I was able to pick it up and go faster and stretch further forward and that sort of thing. So I played a lot of mental games, and had a lot of visualization going on—real spacey stuff, but that’s what it took for me to push through it in practice, and then of course always having the rabbits to chase and looking across the pool and pretending that Janet over there in lane eight is Bobby and Tommy in lane two is you know Tim and Steve Holland was in the pool. I did that all the time, and I did it. I raced people in and out of the walls on turns that helped me stay sharp and fast on my turns in practice. Because I know that’s a big place where people just get lazy and rest.


In fact, my very first international competition was in New Zealand, and I remember Steven Holland was there and he broke the world record, I believe there. I think he went 15.27 at that meet. And right before that race, he was over in an outside lane with his coach standing above him, and he did ten full speed flip turns, and I was already out of the pool drying off getting my sweats on getting ready to go into the race, and I was watching him thinking why is he doing that? But that stuck with me and that was in January of 1975. From January 1975 until July of 1976 when I went 15.02, I thought about that every day in practice. And I worked my turns really hard.


I thought we would try to take this discussion into the performance level of what was going on in the minds of these guys. While we are getting this ready, Bob doesn’t look any different than he does now, except that his hair is a little more chlorinated. It’s very interesting to hear Brian talking about his turn work and hopefully you get the impression as to the degree of personal responsibility these guys took for their swimming. Bob can you talk a little bit about what’s happening here on the front end?


Bob responds, Yes, you know, my coach and I every single race from when I was twelve until I was twenty-one in my last race at Harvard, was how are you going to swim. So you know you always were mentally prepared for your race, and I remember thinking jeez, I’m world record in the 800 meter free and that was all the talk of the town, and I figured that I was swimming so well in training camp, but never really had such fast people to train with. And I knew what I was able to do, and I was actually working on some of the things I was a little weak on in coming back, and I felt jeez I’m not going to go out that fast. I figured there’s no way anybody in their right mind would go out faster than me. I think it was in everybody’s head that I was just going to go out like I did in trials, and I held back, and I was actually fairly surprised that I had gone out fairly fast and my first turn I really nailed. And after the first 175 meters, I figured he was not going to survive and thought in my mind jeez, I got myself a bronze medal and was thinking that I was going to really nail it coming home. And I figured Holland’s turns were so bad when I saw them, and I didn’t think that he actually could come back I knew that I could out-sprint him. I felt that Brian, if he would just tail back a little far and might get a bit discouraged. I think unfortunately for me he was mentally tough and right next to me and that was probably the only part of the strategy that didn’t work. But I swam the best race of my life at the right time the right moment and speaking of pain, I had no pain in this race. Which means that I probably could have swum a little faster. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I would have won.


You went out too slow.


I went out too slow. You know and actually I was splitting 1001 after the first 300 meters and that wasn’t really the plan. I slowed down a little bit too much from 400 to 800. Brian’s down here two lanes down from Bob and Brian had never won a major race until the Olympic trials in 1976, and one of the hopes we might have the year before 1975, everyone thought Tim and Steven were the two guys just like we all think Ian Thorpe and Graham Hackett are way out there. You never know what’s going to happen that last year.


But Brian can you tell a little about what’s going on with you right know the 300 meters, leading up to this race your lack of warm up pool and that sort of thing?


I was really feeling the pressure of coming into this race  as the world record holder from the trails. I went 15.06 in Long Beach, and I think Steven had made a comment in the press that one of my buddies from Mission Viejo said to  me that if he can only go 15.06 he might as well not even show up in Montreal. There was a lot of buzz about this race beforehand, and I was feeling the pressure. I started to lose it after warm-up. I was in the warm up pool with Don Gambrell doing my pace work, and I couldn’t hit the pace that I wanted to hit. I was a little bit slow about 5/10, 4/10 slow on every hundred, and I kept wanting to do more. I did about five of them, and finally Don said Brian you are just going to get tired, you will be fine in the race and go have a rubdown and a shower and get ready. So as I went through that process, I started to get really nervous, and I started to kind of lose control. Thankfully Seldon Fritchner was my masseuse there. He also happened to be one of our assistants at Mission Viejo, and he realized what was going on and he got my mind off the race and finally turned our conversation to what were my plans after the Olympics. So he was able to get me to calm down. I was shaking so bad he thought that I wasn’t going to be able to even walk out and get on the block. So I was really disoriented when we started this race, and I was just gauging everything off of Bobby, and luckily I had such great racing experience and racing skills that I was able to come back and salvage what was really a disaster at the start of the race. I was so nervous before I started that I had hyperventilated and my arms and legs were numb as I stood on the starting block.


This just jumped ahead here to the 600, and Bob is still leading Brian one lane down. It’s a good video, it just something in the system that is not giving us a good picture.


That’s Steven, now, they have jumped ahead, and this is where Steve Holland has taken the lead, they did an up close and personal expecting Steven to be the winner of this race. And he is in the lead and we are approaching 1100 meters right here at this point. What’s going through my mind is that I’m looking behind me to see if anyone can catch me. I am feeling pain all of the nervous energy took its toll, and I was hitting the pain barrier and I was looking behind me to see if anyone was catching me because I was having a conversation with myself as can I do it is third place good enough. And luckily I decided that third place wasn’t good enough, and I visualized myself standing on the awards podium in third place, and it just didn’t look very good to me. So I started kicking a little bit harder and reaching out a little further out in front at this point.


Bob says, and just to give you an idea, I think Brian decided to do that between 1000 and 1100 because his split went from 1009 to 59.5. So he kicked it into gear and for me I was feeling great actually, I was still swimming a little too slow. I probably should have picked it up a little sooner, but when Brian started catching up you know I still thought that I had a chance to win this thing and unfortunately Brian had a really good last 100 which you will see.


These guys weren’t 6’5,” very good athletes, but still not 6’5” like some of the competitors today.


Bob continues, and you can see my turnover is much quicker than it was before. You can’t see the kick, but I really had a two-feet kick, and boy could I power a two-feet kick within the last 50. Steven had gone out a little slower than what he had planned trying to go out a little bit easier. He’s really hustling knowing Brian at least is coming back on him. At this point I knew I was going to beat Steve Holland. At this point the question was whether I was going to be able to hold Brian off. I had that much confidence believe it or not, in my last 100 of a 1500 meter race.


Okay 1300, 200 to go Brian, what’s going on?


Brian says, Well I just came off of that turn and finally moved off the lane lined and decided that I was going to pass Bobby on this lap. And I had been dragging on Bobby for 1300 meters. Actually I dragged on Bobby for about four  years, five years I think, but I was dragging on him for 1300, and I moved across the lane. I didn’t want him to have any benefit from my wake as I went by. And I got into my sprint at that turn there, I, that year I knew this was where I was going to have to win this race if I was going to be in contention because I didn’t feel, I didn’t have the confidence to get out fast. I knew I could come back hard. I could rely on my endurance, and so I put my kick in with three laps to go. Usually I wait until the last two or even one lap and I gave it three. Kieren Perkins went 14.43, I believe it is. He was 57.1 on his last 100 and Brian was 57.7 here going 15.02.


Bob what’s going on in your brain?


Bob answers, I’m sprinting! And actually I’m catching Brian going into this turn unfortunately I didn’t nail the turn.


Brian adds, Yes and all I was saying going into that turn was you’ve got to hit this turn, you’ve got to hit this turn, because I was dead if I missed this turn, there was no recovery.


Brian is this 747 stuff?


Brian continues, Oh yeah this is autopilot, out of the body experience right now, and I know right now that I’m not going to beat Brian and actually I’m not wearing goggles and I’m kind of swimming like this. If you’ve seen this before you’ve seen Bob’s great finish. Before we finish up here, I  did want to tell you that in the room today are two of the best swimming parents that have ever lived who started the Mission Viejo team, and they are Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Gadelis. If you guys could please stand up. Just a little something to do on Thursday night, start the Mission Viejo team.


Tim, I think that video is so poor that if you could just talk a little bit about your 400 in Montreal and the fact that you felt as though you could not let Brian get ahead and what you were doing with your own body and your own mind to bring everything out of yourself that you possibly could.


Tim responds, Well, to set up the 400, I had had a devastating year of training. The eleven and twelve year old girls were beating me on kick sets and everything else, and I didn’t know what was happening.


Now you are not going to tell the whole book are you?


Tim continues, No! But basically it turned out that I was anemic through the late summer and just really fortunate to even make the Olympic team. And really, I think if Casey would have qualified in the morning, I think he had the silver medal secured, and I really feel he would have pushed Brian to sub 350 no problem because of Brian’s last 200 here and the mile. He was definitely the dominant individual that night, so I could not use any of my strategy. I normally like to go smooth and swift the first 100, build the second 100, move into the 200 wall and really turn up the heat in the third 100 and anchor coming home with a great finishing kick. And  I had no tools what-so-ever to use, so I just wanted to sort of save face that night and stay somewhere up by him right from the start. I knew I didn’t have any tools if I fell behind and tried to get tricky, I’d be way out of the picture. So all I did was just start trying to stay up with Brian, and I basically sprinted every lap, just hanging on his coat tails and witnessing a great performance. I had the best seat in the house, to see him win the gold.


And who told you your time that day?


Brian did because I am blind as a bat, so I said how’d we do?


I think we can try to stay over a couple minutes to answer a couple questions for these guys because I don’t want to lose anybody from this room. I do want to tell you there’s been a lot of nice things said about me in the last year or so. Coach Rosen a year ago said, Chuck thank you for the service you are doing in bringing this sort of information back, but these three guys are really the ones who have taken so much time to spend time here today. None of them is getting a dime for being here. Mr. Hackett from New Jersey…he had a bed to sleep in last night and a bed to sleep in tonight, and their only compensation is to help American swimmers and help American swimming coaches to be better, and I wish we could all thank them for that.


Does that mean were getting old?


That’s pretty darned good compensation. And as Pat said earlier if you want for yourself, for your swimmers, for an auction, whatever, they are going to be autographing this book out in the exhibit hall between 10:30 and 12.


Is there anybody what has a question that they would like to ask? And we can go I think for a couple minutes about this or anything else? Sure.


(Question.) Tim can you start on this because you were talking about this last night, and you have been coaching the last several years as well, so you probably have a good look from both sides.


Tim starts, We’ll to me it was at that age you know where Dick Jochums just took me under his wing. I was in the right stop under the right direction at the right time, and he sold me on such an intrinsic value to sports in general, and how it relates over the history of time and the early Greek competitions and the way you want to be a good father and a parent and a brother and a sister and everything else, and he sold me on that at a very early age. And I was set to go. I didn’t need anything else. I believed it the first time. I still do and to his credit where I am today. Brian?  Bob?

Brian answers, I would say similar. Mark Shubert had a major influence on my life. He came to Mission Viejo as a very young man, I think he was 23 or 24, but he had very clear articulated goal of where he wanted to take the club and where he wanted to go. And I bought into that. We were mediocre county kind of a YMCA type program, and he said we are going to think nationals. That’s our total focus is to think nationals. And no one in our club had ever even qualified for nationals before, and so that was a big deal because a lot of kids quit. They couldn’t think that big. And the other thing was in 1975 on the world championship team in Long Beach at the training camp, they had a seminar there that I really got a lot out of, and I think it was the Pacific Institute at that time, or Jeff Goforth seminar, I’m not sure what he called it. Anyhow I learned a lot of great techniques. I learned about how the brain works, the subconscious, the creative subconscious and overcoming obstacles, and I bought into that hook, line and sinker and used it and used it and used it with great results obviously.


Bob answers, For me, I grew up in an area that swimming was a non-existing sport as far as most people were concerned, and I had parents that knew absolutely nothing about swimming. I had derived a lot of success from swimming and had struggled. I grew up sort of academically and just trying to find myself. So, you know, when I realized I wasn’t swimming well when I was eleven and, you know, you had the Brunell’s Gators swimming pretty good, you know I really wanted to swim well, and perform and not be beaten. So I joined the team, and Joe you know really, I was lucky I mean I had a great father and a great mother, my father knew nothing about swimming when I started. He still claims that he knows nothing about swimming, you know but like Joe was like a father to me. And you know like with your father, you fight when you are a teenager, and I fought him when I was a teenager, when I was fourteen, and I hate to admit it, and I told him this before I swam bad, and he was right and I said fine, let’s dedicate it, let’s focus and you know it definitely comes from within. But there’s definitely influences from your parents who basically said you know you do what you want, if you don’t want to swim do something else. We don’t want to be driving all over creation, driving you all over the place. So if you want to quit, it will probably be easier for them, we didn’t really have a lot of money, and there was financial hardship. So, you know, by just dedicating myself to my coach and to my parents, who spent a lot of time and energy, as a thirteen, fourteen and fifteen year old, I realized that and I wanted to please them, and I wanted to swim well for myself. So however you can instill that in your athletes and try to get the parents to understand, it’s a real challenge, and it’s not one that I envy, being in your position. But you always think back to those kids that you coach and you love it, and if you can find one, all it takes is one. One to motivate two, and it becomes exponential, so you know, that’s my answer to the question.


Tim adds, I would like to add one thing to that. Bob triggered it in my mind, and that is commitment. And I think all three of us talked a lot about our coach, and so my hat’s off to you guys because you have that commitment. That’s one of the reasons that I chose not to go into coaching. I didn’t have the maturity to commit to be there for those kids the way that you people do. And it’s such a big burden, such a big role. So anyhow you have to look within yourselves, I think and step it up and take it to the next level and really show that commitment. And there’s an old speech from the 50’s from Rich Divosta, it’s called white heat in which he talks about that. It’s a white heat, you’ve got to have that passion and have that commitment, and so that everybody knows exactly where you stand.


Maybe we can go one more question, all the way in the back.


(Question.) Oh boy, you’ve got to buy the book. How did Rick Demont lead into thing? One of the really interesting things about doing this whole project was seeing how one thing lead to the next thing, to the next thing, to the next thing. And there’s about seven or ten different important stories that could go on right now about the impact that Rick Demont made on Tim, on Bob and on Brian, just huge. But one of the unusual things, and then we are going to go to another question because I am going to avoid this one, is that we had somebody in the United States the year after an Olympic year, after being the best distance swimmer in the world. And that was just the beginning, there was a lot more to it than that. But how many times after an Olympics do we have somebody that’s leading, not lead anymore, and Rick Demont took the baton, and he went with it that next year because of the fiasco that happened in Munich. One more question?


(Question.) Bill? There were four weeks just to be accurate, and as we all know everybody went after Mike Brunner    in those days because nobody liked him Coach Rosen but everybody liked you.


Bob answers, I’ll take the first stab at it. Yes, I remember doing the first set of three 800, that was our first practice, and I went 807 on my last one, and I am swimming with a lot of fast people and you know I am very friendly with Brian and I was when I was swimming, and you know to me swimming is a sport, it’s fun and games. It’s playing basketball with your brother and getting in a fight and then going back and wrestling in the bedroom later and laughing. I mean, that’s what it’s about, you know. Getting the team together, building a team, you had a bunch of people from college and USC that I looked up to. I was sixteen years old. They were making fun of my accent, when I had one, and for me it was just, I mean, they clothed me, they drove me everywhere, I got to eat 24 hours a day if I wanted to. I mean it was one of the most happiest times in my life. And you know I was in a zone for four weeks and having a great time. I mean I would not have swum as well or had been as focused because I was swimming for the United States of America. I was swimming to beat Steve Holland. I mean he was the evil enemy, I mean it was great. And we all fed on that and I was very happy that Brian won. Brian put in a great 400, and I cannot feel bad for myself. I was very proud, I punched the wall, I cut my hand, and I was like USA is doing pretty well and that’s what it’s all about. If it’s different today well, you know, what can I say, it’s different today. Brian?


Brian responds, That’s a great answer. We had a great time, a great team and great leadership with Doc Counsilman as our head coach. And I think there is some discussion in the book as well about the discussion between Don Gambrell and Doc Counsilman, as to whether or not they articulated the goals of our team that year because it was so awesome, what we could accomplish, and they decided to risk it and go ahead and put that pressure and that burden on us. That we could win all of the gold medals at the 1976 Olympics. Our men’s team could do it. And we ended up winning twelve of thirteen golds, and I think ten of eleven silvers, and I don’t know eight or so bronze medals, I mean it was unbelievable. The success that that team had, and you know sometime you’ve just got to speak it into existence, and you’ve got to get out there and be bold and just go do it.


Mark Shubert did that every year at nationals. We won 48 nationals at Mission Viejo over the years. And he would do that, we would have the team meeting every night at the nationals. We would know exactly where we were, we would know where the points are, and we would know where the points had to come from. You have just got to go out and do it. I think that it speaks back again to commitment. And what are we doing it for if we’re not doing it to go win and do the best that we can possibly do, then maybe we should do something else.


And Tim you were training in George Haines’ group for the most part with middle distance people, a tremendous group, but you guys did a lot of fast swimming in that group.


Tim answers, We did. I just think it was sort of like, you know we’re beating each other up and racing each other, a lot of pressure, and going after each other for four full years. We finally made the Olympic team, now were brothers in arms, and now were going to take on the world and show them what we’re all about. I think that was day one of the camp. Every lane, every coach and every athlete was getting along with each other, supporting each other and you are going to those workouts and every single lane was just cranking with hard work. We had no worries about where we were headed and how much taper we needed, it was just a ball. And they were in the distance lane over here if you look at the sets they were doing, night after night they were outstanding performances for a solid three weeks at least.

I think we need to stop because of the business meeting, but thank you all so much for coming this morning and thank you.

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