[introduction, by Tim Murphy]
My name is Tim Murphy; I am a member of the ASCA board. It’s certainly an honor and a pleasure for me to introduce a couple of great coaches to you this afternoon. Second coach in-line is the head coach at University of Southern California, Coach Dave Salo; where he is starting his sixth year. His athletes recently in London: 3 golds, 1 silver, 1 bronze; were involved in 2 World Record, 3 American Records, 2 Olympic Records. Dave has had success at every level: Age Group through international, both males and females, from sprinters to what he calls “long sprinters”—which I think is a great way of putting it. I have admired Dave for a long time. I find him very unique, very creative, very motivational. I found it interesting that his experiences at the Olympic level, where he found himself humbled a little bit with the other coaches around and great athletes, which speaks well to his character and just genuine commitment to our profession. I admire the intelligence that he presents this program and uses it to coaching his athletes. I also admired that he views himself as a club coach, which I think is very important. I admire his willingness to share with you what he knows. I believe he is going to be answering a number of your questions this afternoon, so I am going to encourage you to actively participate with that. And if you will join in a warm welcome for Coach Dave Salo.
Okay, we are going to do the same… where did everybody go? They are going to ask for my stipend back because I didn’t fill the room—just kidding. So I want to do basically the same thing: I’m going to put the questions that have been coming in on the Twitter account. I will answer them as they come up or as they… we had a bunch of them come-in in the first talk. And if I don’t answer anybody’s question that wants to ask we can do that as well. Again my goal is to answer the questions that are pertinent to what you want to hear. I have been coaching for about 34 years: as a club coach, as a college coach. Anything I can do to help you to be better is my goal. So I am going to go ahead and start out with these questions that—they keep coming up fast, interesting.
: Any examples of specific training variations for your three female breaststrokers: [Rebecca] Soni versus [Yuliya] Efimova versus [Jessica] Hardy? And/or males, [Kosuke] Kitajima and [Eric] Shanteau?
: Like I have told a lot of people, I’ve had a lot of people I have lot of experience with breaststroke swimmers; and this year was no different than they’ve been. We had a number of breaststrokers, our biggest—I will take the fault I guess. Hardy was good throughout most of the year in the breaststroke, her freestylers were pretty good. But Olympic Trials, we didn’t account for Breeja Larson to come-up and have such a great 100 breaststroke; so Hardy missed making in the Olympic team in the breaststroke. I think my best coaching this year was to get Hardy off the disappointment of not making the team in the breaststroke, and get her back-up for the 100 free and the 50 free—which she ended-up winning both events. Those events are a lot more competitive than the breaststroke events in the international arena. So she fell-short of individual medalling, but she medaled on the relays.
What’s interesting about Efimova, who is from Russia: the Russian federation had called me up about a year-and-a-half ago and said, Efimova looks like she might quit swimming all together, she is not really happy; would I take on that responsibility of coaching Yuliya? I said, “Yeah, go ahead, send her over, we’ve got some breaststrokers.” And Yuliya is interesting, and I have been watching her compete for the last four or five years; and she’s the one person I have been the most worried about, in terms of her skill level, at possibly beating a Rebecca Soni especially in the 200 Breaststroke. Because Yuliya literally has three different techniques through the course of the entire 200 Breaststroke. Rebecca has one technique and one speed, and she just maintains that speed regardless of the distance she goes; her 100 breaststroke to her 200 breaststroke is a lot tighter than almost anybody else in the world, because she has just kind of one flow.
Hardy, Yuliya and Rebecca train at the same time, but they don’t train together; which is kind of an interesting scenario, if you will. But they come out as differently. Rebecca is an aerobic engine, if you want to use those terms—those makes sense to me as well. She is not a great trainer, but I know she is working really hard. You can’t tell Rebecca is putting-up world-class efforts in her training because she is not a superior trainer; although I know she is training really hard—if that makes sense. She will do IM work, she will do breaststroke work, but you don’t watch and go: oh my God, I can’t believe, that’s why she is so good. Hardy has learned to be a really top-notch thoroughbred swimmer in training: everything she does is really fast. She wasn’t always been that way, but over the last four or five years everything she does is of really-high intensity level, very-high race pace. And you could watch her, and go oh my God, that’s why; she is just always really-fast in practice. And we have to sometimes kind of tone-her-down because she gets too fast, she gets her rate going too high, and there are periodic times when we have got to pull that back, control her rates, and just be a little bit more cognizant of that. Yuliya just kind of goes through and does her thing, and she is kind of a cross between Rebecca and Jessica.
So, in essence, those three train very differently; I don’t put them against each other very often. There was a time this summer, where we were doing a set of 50s long course from a dive. The plan was to go 4×50. And I didn’t tell which heat the kids had to go into, and they are about 45 athletes that we were training at that time. And these three women got-up together with a couple of other women that I have who are also pretty, and they are running a heat back-and-forth. And after the third heat, it was getting so intense with the women, and so intense with the men—with Kosuke Kitajima, Eric Shanteau, John Chris, Mike Alexandrov—that I just said, “Stop, no more. We are going to kill each other, if we keep letting this go on.” So after about three 50s, we kind of stopped them, pulled-in the reins, let them loosen down and get out—it was getting that intense.
Because the women train so differently, they just don’t have that circumstance of training together very much. My job as a coach is to manage everything that they are doing, and keeping an eye on what they are doing, making sure the stroke technique is right. So there is a lot of similar things that they do in practice; but about half the practice, they are very different. Rebecca will do a lot more 400 IM work with our IMers. Jess will do a lot more sprint work with the sprint group; assist work, stretch-cord work, those kind of things—to keep her kind of on the thoroughbred pattern. So that’s how we have done. Eric Shanteau—when he came out to swim for me—there was… a lot of his mindset was I am going to come out and train with Kosuke Kitajima is the best breaststroker in the world, he has been very consistent. And he was a little deflated, because Kosuke is not a great trainer. He is a great technician, but he is not a great phenomenal trainer. We would have to get him from going fourth, we have to move him, like, Kosuke, let’s get up here and go first and race these guys. But he was very, somewhat timid when he first started swimming with me. And Eric was a little disappointed that the best in the world, isn’t the best trainer in the world. And so it was my job to kind of elevate Kosuke’s game, because Eric was always on, always working hard, very, very focused, and sometimes little too serious. So there is a very interesting dynamic.
When I went into 2008 and 2012, I had a large collection of breaststroke swimmers. And we kind of talked about trying to take every spot on the Olympic team in the breaststroke events. When you are coming in with the women, it was like okay, there is literally there are four spots. And I am hoping they are not doing the math, because it was like six of them; and I don’t say specifically, okay, Rebecca you get this one, and Jess you take this one, and Keri you are going to get this one. Whatever it is, it is like I hope they don’t do the math so quickly to think, oh wait, he is leaving me out, but there is always that concern. One reason I like the dynamic of having international athletes in my program is that I don’t have to worry about… these three women aren’t going to take all the spots on the American team. Two of them will, hopefully—which they didn’t. And then Yuliya is a different person all together. So there is not that kind of competition in-house that you are concerned about when you get into Olympic Trials of trying to satisfy three people where there is only two spots. So it’s really an interesting dynamic for those athletes.
: Next question is: How do you coach an athlete who due to fatigue is swimming poorly and practicing?
: I had that conversation with a couple of coaches earlier. I think what I am good at is recognizing the dynamic probably dictates performance, more than it is in the Xs and Os of the training itself. I never add-up the yardage—I don’t worry about that. I concentrate more on the technique and the intensity of the work. Generally a workout last two hours, sometimes an hour and a half, depending on how I think workouts are going. If workout’s great, it’s going really well, and going another 20 minutes isn’t going to make a difference, workout’s over. And then I can say, “You guys have done a great job. Get a long loosen down, get out of here; it was really good workout session.”
But I think what I am also good at is recognizing that what I wanted to do today—even though I don’t write it down—that’s not what we need to do today. There are times where we’ll go through practice and its going pretty well, but it is not perfect and it is not the same kind of intensity. And I will take them over to our diving tank, which is about 87°-88°, and I will start-out doing some drill-things and then I will turn it into just laying on the water flat and not doing anything—just laying there. And my intent might be for five minutes. And there has been times when I have done that for 45 minutes and they just lay there. And it is warm-enough so they are not getting cold and they just kind of lay there. And by the end of the practice, they are getting out saying: “That’s what we needed. That was the best thing; we just kind of floated there and relaxed.”
And I think that’s what happens over-time in your coaching: that you get off the recipe—if you will—and the Xs and the Os and I have got to get so much work done and this work done. You start to become more of an artist at what your craft is, in coaching athletes; and you start to look at that and go today is not the day to do this.
I tell this story a lot—and I will tell because some of you have never been to my talks—but there was a practice when I was coaching club, it was a Friday. And a lot of times my Fridays in club would be: okay, we are going to go out, we are going to go play Ultimate Frisbee, will come back, we will swim for 45 minutes, and get out of here. Or soccer—some kind of game. And we would do that a lot of times on Friday. Well, I come in one day and it’s a Friday afternoon. And the kids are like, oh, are we going to go play soccer? And I say, “No, there are some things I want to get done. We’re going to get right-in and we’re going to get it done. If we get it done quick enough, we can get out of here early. But I want to get some work done in the pool.” It was a great day, a nice sunny day—as it usually is sunny California. And that was kind of a hint that… (recruitable athletes should be in the room, so my digs get in). Anyway, they are like, no, we want to go play soccer, lets’ go play ultimate. Come on, we want to go play. I said, “No, no, no; we’re not going to do that.” They keep begging me, and I said, “No, go in, get ready to go. We want to get going, let’s not play around.”
And I am tightening the lane lines; down on the deck tightening all the lane lines. And I get-up from tightening the lane lines, and the kids had come out and stacked a pyramid of Diet Coke cans. And just this huge stack. And they are like waiting for me to go, Yeah, let’s go play. Okay, you guys are cool, let’s go play. Well I said, “No, I really appreciate the effort, but we are going to get in.” And they’re like, Oh dang it. And so I go back to tightening the lane lines, and in my mind, I am just going, ‘Can’t wait to have one of those Diet Cokes.’ And so I get up from tightening the lane lines, the kids had all dispersed to go get ready in the locker room. And I turn around and all the cans of Coke are gone. And I thought, ‘God… well’. I was pissed on one hand, but on the other hand I was like, ‘well, right, they made an effort to bring out these Coke cans, and I was going to play games; so okay, that’s fair. So I went out to the vending machine to go to get a Diet Coke, and they’d taken them all out of the vending machine. So I was like ‘God dang it.’ But I thought that was kind of funny.
So, I think in answer to that question, I think that that’s one of those things that you need to kind of develop is that intuitive sense of when it’s time to kind of back off or when it’s time to push a little harder. That’s always… what you are always doing is: how much do I push, how little do I back off? And you are going through that, it’s like balancing on the fence, when you are walking along the fence: it’s a constant balance of how much is too much, how much is too little. There is no perfect recipe for that. Nobody can tell you it takes two hours and 27 minutes every day, at a high intensity or low intensity, whatever it is; and that’s going to create this performance that you want. There is no recipe for that.
I err on the side of two hours; and I think that’s a pretty good amount of time, and we are pretty intense for every practice. But I can’t tell you if that’s too much or too little. I don’t worry about how far we go, so I don’t add it up. I can’t compare what we did today, what did we did 365 days ago. But I can tell you that day 1 is like day 40, like day 50, it’s like day 64: they are always kind of basically the same. I don’t pattern things out. And that’s just the way I do things.
And I tell this to people when I come to conferences and talk about my program: this I my program, this is what I am comfortable with; you have got to find your own way. And if I can give you nothing else but the other extent or the other side of the extreme if this is extreme, at least you can know, okay: one way works and the other way works. And if both ends of the spectrum work, I’ll find myself here in the middle, that’s okay. And that’s I think part of my message is to say: look it works for 50, it works for 10K, and you just find yourself where you are comfortable with, and be really comfortable with that.
: Breaststroke recovery: palms down? What about the in-sweep hand position?
: I am such a stickler about breaststroke technique. My kids will tell you that I can be 50 meters away from them doing something on their stroke, and I will catch it out of the corner of my eye. And from 50 meters away, I will yell at one of my athletes about their breaststroke. So I have breaststroker out of Sergio Lopez’ program that some of his techniques is a little off from what I think it should be. And he will be down with a short sprinters doing some work on the buckets, and I will literally see something from 50 meters away and I will yell down to the kid, Kid, turn your hands! Because I hate this, and I see this all the time. And I don’t understand that, and I don’t like that. So if I see that; I stop workout, I stop that athlete.
I want them to extend and their palms, or their arms or elbows, are rolling out, to set that line. So anytime I see the little finger down and thumbs going down this way, I am stopping and correcting. I don’t like hands going down; I want the hands turning out, to set the out-sweep. So I am really a stickler about detail on breaststroke. And breaststrokers get yelled at the most; they’re the ones who catch my flack more than anybody else. Because I think it is such a technical stroke. And as I said earlier in my talk, somebody like Kosuke Kitajima is so much more efficient doing something so simple as getting to his line quickly, that if that’s the difference between Kosuke Kitajima and Eric Shanteau—who doesn’t do that as well—somebody who is a little bit down the line, like a Junior National champion, they’re worse at that. We have got to find a way to get them to be most efficient when they are not swimming, so that all the propulsion from the stroke is moving them forward. So I am extend and turn the arms or the elbows turning out to set the out-sweep.
The in-sweep. A couple of people were asking about in-sweeps and timing and stuff like that. I do a drill that I saw a Japanese swimmer do maybe 10 years ago. And it involves taking a pull buoy, putting it between your legs so you kind of force the kick to be pretty narrow. Your head is up, your back is flat. I call it a quick kick drill, because the kick is driving the timing of the arm-stroke. And as they drive the kick, full speed, really/literally kind of bringing it up in recovery and fully extending very quickly, the arms have to time with it. So your arms are going forward on the kick’s full-extension. And it really works the timing of the arms to legs, and focuses on keeping the back flat into a recovery, and it also work on getting a good, high elbow position in the in-sweep.
A lot of people will ask, well, how wide should the arms be? I don’t know that. I correct breaststroke by… kind of like my analogy of a fence, you kind of balance between: that’s too wide, that’s too narrow, that’s too- that’s just right, perfect. And so that’s kind of how I work on stroke instructions, especially breaststroke; is looking where you are at and then fine-turning it to make it… to get it to the best it can be for that particular person. Now remember, the breaststroke, you can go to the Olympic Games and watch eight breaststrokers in the final of the 100 breaststroke or 200 breaststroke, and you will see eight different ways of swimming. When you have Yuliya Efimova in that heat, you have got another two additional ways of swimming; because she literally has three different techniques in swimming the breaststroke. And if you go back to the NBC telecast and you watch the 200 breaststroke, you see that. She has got a wave action in there, she has kind of a flat action in there, and she has got a third one I can’t really describe—it’s not that I don’t want to, I am still trying to figure her out. But she is really exceptional as well.
: Do you follow Coach Troy’s advice and take a three day weekend once a month?
: No. What I did this year interesting… everybody goes, you must be exhausted from London. And I was like, no, that was a working vacation. It wasn’t a paid working vacation; it was just a working vacation. We all volunteered our time to be on the USA coaching staff; which I will do again, maybe, in a heartbeat. It was a working vacation. My food was prepared for me—in the camps there was awesome food, so I didn’t have to worry about that. My laundry was done for me, the sheets were changed every-other day. Got to go watch Swimming. It was great; I don’t know why anybody is exhausted from that—I had a great time.
I came back from that… what I did differently this year when I came back was I only went to the office every-other day, for about two weeks. So I don’t usually take three-day weekends off. I don’t have a lot of distractions, like my assistant coaches do. They are all young, they all have little babies under the age of 2 or 3. So a lot of times, I will pick-up slack for them; let them have three days off, if they need it. I just, I don’t need the time. I’ll get home, and I have got yard work to do—that means I am going to working. So I just… I don’t do anything; I am just boring. I go play poker. Last week I played poker and won $400—it was awesome. Every hand was hitting, it was cool.
But do you need to take three days… you’ve got to decide what time you need to take off. I am energized by coaching, I love to train. I love to train; I love coaching every day. Some people ask me how… I get criticized sometimes because I’ve post-grad athletes… this year I had upwards of 35 post-grad athletes, plus have about 55 college athletes. And I am on the deck for every one of those workouts. So, how do you balance your time? You can’t do that. You can’t do that and do that well. I think I think I can.
I run… my college kids are in the weight room in the mornings; I have a different coaching staff for that. They come-out for about 30 minutes on Monday-Wednesday-Friday mornings, and we will coach them that very specifically. My long-sprinters come-in on Tuesdays and Thursdays; I split that with my staff on what we do with them in the morning. The afternoons, I am in there from 2:00 to 4:00. My post-grads come-in after the college kids are done in the morning, and for two hours I run them. And their workout are a little bit like what we did with the morning session; but not very often—they’re always very different. I constantly change-up the workout; so it is never quite the same workout. I can have back-to-back workouts and they will all be very different. But that’s just how I operate: I am energized by being on the deck, being with my athletes.
I caution my post-grad athletes that they are not my priority. They are just not. They don’t pay the bills; the University of Southern California pays my bills and so my priority is to the college team. But at the same end, I think it makes my post-grads a little bit better. Because they are not as wanting, as needy; they don’t burden me with some of the things I think they normally would be if it was all the attention on them. They are a lot more respectful of my time because they know I have got other responsibilities. So it makes for a pretty good relationship. But for two hours a day, every practice, I am 100% behind them; creating an environment for them to be as good as they can be and giving them my time. My assistant coaches do a great job of picking-up the pieces of the puzzle that are important for the college team in terms of paperwork, and this form or that form. Or creating the schedule for the recruits to come-in. All that stuff. They allow me to do what I think do best, and that’s to be on the deck and put 100% into it.
I never get tired from workouts; workouts just energize me. If you’re running workout and by halfway through practice you are bored, that’s your fault—that’s your fault. I do everything I can to make it interesting for me; the truth be told I could care less about my athletes, I want to be entertained—I am just kidding, so relax. No, I really believe that if I am enjoying the process during the process of training, that I think they will be more engaged; I think I am more engaged as a result. I think they get more out of it. They walk away from practice exhausted, tired, but I think fulfilled and a little bit energized from that whole process.
: Now I am not sure how much time do you spend coaching one-on-one? means.
: But I think what I said little bit ago is that I give 100%. If a kid wants to stay after practice, work on technique or go watch a video, then I make myself available. I am generally the first one on deck, I am the last one off the deck; and try to make myself available to my athletes for whatever the needs are that they might have.
: What is your honest opinion on the aerobic-base development in prepubescent swimmers? Will lack of it hurt long term?
: I find this discussion always interesting; it has been an interesting discussion for years. And those of who have followed my career in Swimming know that back in the early ‘80s I was writing articles for Swimming World magazine talking about—and I didn’t put this up—the distance myth. That was the editors’ thinking: ‘Oh, this will be cool. We’ll write the distance myth, and have Coach Salo talk about something contrary to the aerobic-base model of training.’ So I didn’t come up with that. It created a lot of stir of controversy and debate. And most of the debate was centered around Coach Salo having nobody of significance coming out of Swimming.
I don’t believe in the aerobic base as we come to these clinics and hear about. I believe in an efficiency base. I think if you can become more efficient at the technique that you’re doing, all else comes into play. So if you think becoming more efficient is swimming 10,000 meters-per-session, then that’s great. Be really efficient at that: perfect stroke, good streamlines, good walls. The mechanism of energy metabolism comes from the cellular level; it doesn’t come from the heart beat, it doesn’t come from the heart rate. We always hear: oh, your heart rate has got to be at a certain level. It’s like… it’s the metabolic system; it’s down, down, deep-down at the cell level that’s got to be challenged for there to be change in what’s going on down in the body for you to get performance
So in terms of the aerobic base, I don’t talk about aerobic base. We don’t spend the first couple months of my college program working on “getting the base up”. We went right back to work; we’re only going about an hour per session, and it’s fast. It’s fast, it’s intense, technique is really good; they look better this week than they do the first week. But I’m not a big “aerobic base” kind of guy. Now I always tell people this, in terms of my career in club swimming, some of the athletes that I’ve coached—and yeah, they are good athletes, maybe they were born with aerobic bases beyond anybody else’s. But Amanda Beard is still swimming. And Amanda Beard was going nothing as a 12 year-old; she was going five practices-a-week, on average, and most of it was technique. Aaron Piersol was doing nothing until he turned 13 in-terms of lot of heavy training; he was doing a lot of 25s and 50s and 100 IMs in practice, two hours a day, five, sometimes six, days-a-week. Jason Lezak: he was doing better four years after I left to go to USC, and he was coaching himself on his own. And some of that had to do with the body suits, but it also had to do with his appreciation for how weights affected his performance and how diet affected his performance, and things that I think he just got smarter at. But he wasn’t doing an aerobic-base mentality when he was Swimming. When he was ready to quit Swimming, when I got to Irvine when he was about 15, and I said we aren’t doing 100,000 yards this week for Christmas training, we are going to go, I don’t know 5,000 or 6,000 whatever it might be. Mike Cavic is still swimming; Mike Cavic is a product of my age-group program.
So the Age Group program at Irvine was always about technique and technique and technique, and repetition. And when they got into the Senior program in my program, it started about training. But the training was about intensity combined with technique; drills and having fun with it; and not worrying about developing an aerobic base and if you measure that by yardage. And again it goes back to what said before: you can go either end of the spectrum, you will be successful.
Aaron Piersol made his first Junior National time in the 800, okay. But he wasn’t training for the 800; he was training to be really efficient, really fast. Was he training for the 800? Was he going repeat 800s? No. Did he keep getting faster in college? As I was listening to Eddie Reese talk earlier today, [he] talked about aerobic base before he hit puberty. My assumption then, based on that, is Aaron didn’t hit puberty until he was a junior in college. Which maybe that’s true, he was a pretty scrawny guy through high school, kept getting better, but he didn’t have kind of this traditional sense of aerobic base. I just think technique is so important.
Technique and efficiency is more important I think than training. Training I think you can train late into your career; but I think once you lose technique, which is a nervous system mechanism, that’s when… I think you really struggle with that. So that’s my opinion about: what’s your opinion about aerobic base coach?
Will it hurt them in the long term? Like I said, I think I have had some of the best athletes I have got the chance to swim or coach are still swimming, except Aaron I think is the only that’s retired. And he retired on his own terms.
Let me go back to the topic, if there any questions. If there are any questions that you want to shout out, I will answer those as well.
: How does your dryland training tie-into your overall philosophy on training?
: I think that’s a really good one. I think that… go back to Jason as my example. Jason and I barely could stand each other through his high school years—he will tell you the same thing. We always had odds with each other. When he went away to college at U.C. Santa Barbara, our relationship changed dramatically. He called me up and he would go, “Dave, I’ve just been kicked off the team again.” So I am like, What do you mean got kicked off the team? He is like, ‘I’m so tired of the workouts; it’s so long and so boring.” And it was like, But you didn’t like my workouts. “Yeah, well, now I like ‘em. Can you send me workouts?” So I would send him some workouts and then he would be reinstated back on the team. And then he would get kicked-off a few months later because he missed a practice or something; so I would send him some workouts.
But when he was getting kicked-off the team, for whatever reason, it was usually about practices. He always comes to practice; he doesn’t like to train. And I learned a lot about coaching sprint athletes, like Jason, because of his mentality. He would always come to practice, but he hated to train. I had to find a way to train him to be better. But when he was kicked-out in college, he would go into the weight room; and he just pound heavy weight and he would get big. And so he got big; he got huge.
But when he came back after college we changed that, and we had a strength coach working with him that was more in line with my way of thinking in terms of Swimming: less load, more specificity, rate of movement was critical more-so than heavy loads. And that was a real transition for Jason to go from heavy lifting/heavy loads to more specificity of movement with lighter weights. So his weight load would come to about 40%-60% of a maximum, and staying in that zone, working on more specificity, more speed, movement, stuff like that. So I am a big believer in speed of movement, weighted, loaded; but not beyond 60% of the maximum load. And so that’s how I look at the dryland.
Our dryland program at USC… I believe in dryland a lot, so every morning is a dryland session for almost everybody. Usually Monday-Wednesday-Friday in the weight room; it is about an hour and 15 minutes. It is changing this year because we have a new coach, and I think she is going to be more in-line with my thinking is in terms of movement. And then they go about 35 minutes into the pool. And my system works in the sense that I believe that weight training is really good, but the carry-over might be miniscule to Swimming or anything else. It’s really good for lifting weights. But the carry-over, because it is fairly nonspecific into Swimming, I think you need to bridge that gap by getting into the water soon after a weight session, so you can apply the forces, that change that’s happening in the weight room; apply it specifically to Swimming.
So we will come over after the weight room for about 35 minutes and we might do resistance work: so it is 25s on a stretch cord, full-speed, kind of carrying over from the weight room. Or we might do assist swims, where we are assisting with a stretch cord, trying to take the strength gains you are developing in the weight room, now apply it right/directly/immediately to Swimming. So that’s what we do on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Tuesdays-Thursdays, we will do 45 minutes of a spin class. Some of that’s caloric expenditure; because college kids are notorious for just putting-on weight that they don’t need. So rather than say go lose weight, I say go, we are going to do a spin class for 45 minutes. It gets the team together, they are playing loud music, they are having fun with it. And then we will go 45 minutes of general core work: medicine ball, stretch cords, plyometrics, Pilates, yoga—kind of a mixture of all these things. Breaststrokers this last year, I did some different things with them in the gym that involved using these—I don’t even know what you call them—they are just these little discs that you can put on the floor and you can slide on them. So you have them… I did these funky things where they get on all fours, they would have their hands on these discs that slide across the gym floor, and they would do the breaststroke kick for 15-20 meters. And its really cool, and some of the kids got really good at it. So we do some things like that are very specific for breaststroke movement. And it is good for core strength and things like that. So that’s what we do on our resistance type work or weight room work through the course of the week with our college kids.
The other good thing about—anybody that coaches college kids can attest to this—is that keeping the kids busy in the morning at six o’clock, really affects their playtime at night, like at midnight. So if they know that they have to come to practice at 5:45 in the morning, they are not going to stay out late during the week. So I think we have kind of controlled some of the social behaviors in the college environment, to our benefit.
[inaudible question from the audience]
Good, good, good question. The question relates back to the 4×50 that I talked about earlier—with this high caliber group of athletes that were going to be competing in London or the Olympic Trials. And I cut it off because it just seemed… it was getting to feel too intense. It was… I didn’t know where it was going to go. They were racing, but it was like, you know… you’re just looking over and they are looking over to each other. Just kind of eyeing each other, and getting little mad that somebody got off the block a little faster than they did. Or somebody threw-in an extra dolphin kick and they knew it. It was just tenuous situation that I thought needed to be kind of pulled back in, because I didn’t want them beating each other up when they went into the locker room. So that’s kind of what that meant.
And what I try to do that with my athletes is not pit them against each other too often. One of the things, I have a combined swimming program at USC, and what we will do, purposely, is have the women backstrokers and butterfliers train against our men breaststrokers. Because they are both trying to go 51, 52 seconds for 100 yards. And so that… it’s not as tenuous, it’s not confrontational: the guys do it in good spirit, the women, oh, I beat you, and it’s pretty fun. So rather than put all the women butterfliers against each other, that can get nasty. But I think a combined environment allows them to have a little bit more kind of flexibility in their training, and they can compete against good people but they don’t happen to be the people that are going to go in the locker room with. So that’s what that’s all about.
Any other question, just perk up. Yes?
[inaudible question from the audience]
[Salo]: Okay, the question is: how might I describe a particular distance set with our—we call them—long sprinters? We actually, after my second year at USC, put t-shirts together that kind of described our program on our T-shirt design; so it says: short sprint, middle sprint, long sprint. And we kind of fall in that. What a long sprinter is, is the kid that swims the mile, a kid that swims the 400 IM or a kid that is a really good trainer. Might be a great trainer, but does not swim to the mile. But they are good, they can do anything; they can go 20×200 if you ask them to do that—I just don’t because I choose not to do sets like that.
But a set that… the extreme is 10K, let’s say. Ous Mellouli and Haley Anderson are 10K swimmers now. And when I do a distance-type set, that you’ll go oh, well, that’s distance swimming. It’s like: yeah, it is; I don’t shy away from that because I am embarrassed to do that. But we will do a set that might be: 800, 3×50, 600, 3×50, 400, 3×50, 200, 3×50. Okay? Now that’s a pretty lengthy set; and that might be the crux of the second-half of the workout—the last hour. But it’s the detail that I think is really important. The 8-6-4-2 is 30 seconds rest; and I want you to negative split, and I want the last 75 to be full speed. And then I will remind Ous Mellouli—when I was coaching him in preparation for 2009 for the World Championships—I would remind Ous: “And I want it full speed because when you get to 2009 World Championships in Rome, you’re going to be racing Biedermann out of Germany, who comes back in like 25, and Zhang Lin who at the time was coming back in like 25.8 for the last 50, and that’s what you’re going to be racing against.” And he would like poo-poo me, he was like, oh yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. It’s like he got beat in the 400 Free and the 800 Free because of that. And I would go back to him and say, “See, all those times I told you to come back really fast, you weren’t doing that; and you got beat. It’s not my fault; I told you.” So I try to personalize training sometimes with kids like that.
So that might be the 8-6-4-2. 30 seconds rest: I don’t want my interval to drive the performance, so rather than say it’s on the set interval, I will say 30 seconds rest and then you go into the 3×50. And the 3×50 on that example would be, maybe it’s on 40, 50, 60 seconds; and I want those really fast. I want it race pace, race tempo; finish with a flip turn on the first two finish, with a hand touch on the last one. So that might be a set that would sound like, oh that’s a distance set. What I don’t do are things like 4×800, 10×500, 20×200; I don’t do that. If I want a 200 done, it’s going to be interchanged with a 200 plus 2×75 plus 2×25, five times through.
I do more descending with my post-grads and college kids than I ever did when I was coaching club. When I was coaching club in Irvine, kids were kind of just growing-up through the program. I would say 200s pace+5, 50s are full speed, and 25s no breath full speed. But when I got into college and post-grads, it’s like you would say, “I want the 200 best time+5.” They would laugh at me. I can’t do that. What do you mean pace+5? Pace when I’m shaved, when I’m rested, when I am semi-shaved, semi-rested? So I tend to do more descending in swims like that. So I might say, “Okay, you are going to descend the 200s, 1-5; but I still want the last 50 of each one of those 200s full speed.” And then there might be drill type specifics to the 2×50 or 2x75s, or whatever that follows that into the 2×25.
So my kids have to get kind of used to it; they don’t get to get into a kind of a groove. There is no 20×200 where you kind of get into it and finally with five to go, you are finally in your groove and you are going. So I don’t coach that way, I am not a groove type coach. We are just going at it—do it. And so that’s how a set might be.
If we go short course, we might do a set where you go, let’s say, maybe a long set might be: five rounds, 2×150 plus 3×75. And I might say, the 150s are third gear the first one, really focused on technique; breathing pattern, break-out off the walls. And the second one, I want it to be third gear, fourth gear, fifth gear by 50; but I want you to hold this time—related to what they are going to race at. And then I want the 75s, I want those to be race paced… let’s say its 4×75 after that and we go: race pace, easy, race pace, race pace. And then I would give maybe an extra 30-seconds rest between rounds of that. So I am constantly kind of breaking things up, rather than getting into kind of a groove-type swimming. Does that answer that question?
Any other questions? Nobody is twittering any questions, so I will ramble on the stories. Yes?
[inaudible question from the audience]
[Salo]: Okay, the question is, if he did his math correctly, and I don’t challenge you—probably went to a really good private school. So that set that I described was about 2,600 yards, and he says that somebody has said—and I don’t know who that is—that need to do a set upwards of 4,000 yards. (Is that right?) Well, I will answer that question.
If you were to do a heart rate monitor—if that’s your measure of metabolic rate—on our kids over two hours, I will bet you find that the average heart rate on my athletes is higher than the average heart rate of most kids training in a traditional model. So in terms of aerobic base—I look at it as aerobic power—when my athletes are sitting on the wall on a set like that, and they have gotten 20-seocnds rest between 75s or something, the metabolism doesn’t stop. It doesn’t stop; it is still going at 100 miles per hour. Those of you that run or something, if you go out running and go running pretty strong and hard for an hour, your heart rate stays elevated for periods upwards of an hour. It slowly comes down to the real resting level. The same thing applies I think in Swimming. You will go a burst all-out in a 75, you have engaged 100% of all the muscle fibers—not just this slow twitch, but all the twitches—and you have engaged the metabolic system in all those muscle fibers; and then you are on the wall for 15 seconds. Your heart rate doesn’t go to resting immediately. So the metabolic pathways are running at 100 miles per hour, even though you are sitting on the wall.
So you have got to kind of ask yourself is 20×25 all-out, with 15 second rest in between each 25, more effective than a single 500? And I would venture to guess that, if nothing, it’s comparable. But I think it’s more efficient. Because when you get out to race, you are racing at what’s more comparable to 20x25s on 15 seconds rest, then you are on a straight 500 that’s going to be followed by another 500 or another something or other—if that makes sense. So I think of my two hour workout we are elevating the metabolic system at a very high level. We are engaging the pathways for lactate metabolism, which I think is really important for recovery after a race—that kind of thing. Buffering capacity at the cellular level, that’s really engaged when you are doing sprint training versus when you are doing long, slow or long, sustained swimming. So I am trying to engage all those things that are race specific versus training to be ready to be trained for the next day. So I hope that question. There is another question over here.
[inaudible question from the audience]
[Salo]: Will I demonstrate the V-sit scull?
[demonstrates scull; applause]
Did you see that? Do that on your own… when you go up to your room a little bit later this afternoon, do that your own. And you will find parts of your body that will tighten up that you didn’t know ever existed. I just did that for like five seconds, my legs are a little sore.
To address that drill, the v-sit scull, it’s a great drill with your team. Little kids love that stuff; they will hate you, but they start to love it. But what you are doing when you are doing something like a v-sit scull, is you are working on the small muscles within the forearm and the hands. You are working on a skill that’s really important on all your swimming, whatever stroke you are swimming. You are working on abdominal strength, because you are in v-sit position. You are working on flexibility, because your legs are straight and you are going through your ankles for flexibility.
And I like stuff like that because I can yell at them. And I am not a negative coach—I told you about The Energy Bus. I am yelling instruction or things that are funny—I am a funny guy so they love my jokes during the training. But I think you get your kids… do it with your Age Group kids. If you have got 8&Unders, they are going to cry for the first time you do it; they just can’t do it, they are just going to cry. But afterwards they start getting better at these kinds of skills and it’s… it works. But try it when you get-up to your room, later; do it in the privacy of your own room. Because what I just did is kind of embarrassing.
: Okay, somebody says you seem like an outgoing and approachable guy how do you keep respecting the equation without losing that style of coaching?
: Umm… that’s a good question. My athletes know that the things that I am doing I think they start to appreciate much like how I described the v-sit scull, the first time I do it with some of these accomplished athletes are, they are not… it’s like they are not quite sure what they are doing or why they are doing it, but I think when they start… it’s like the win it a minute thing we did when they came back the following day and their arms are sore, they go, God, that’s… I know my arms get really sore in the last 25 of a breaststroke and we just did this silly thing and I can see how that relates. So I think they… I try to throwback at them, this is how it relates. Okay. Oh, so I want the last 50 of each of these swims really fast because Zhang Lin is going to come back in 25.7 and throw back at swim, we do a lot of underwater type work in the beginning of the year with the college team and I will say, okay, folks every time we swim the Wildcats of Arizona they kick our butts on the under waters. Okay, do we want that to happen? No, so when I say we are doing four dolphin kicks and surge on break out, that’s what I mean because when we swim the Wildcats in November, I don’t want them beating us there, and so I try to relate to the team with the goal is in every single practice or the specific drill component that I think goes back to addressing what their goals are in swimming, and so that’s how we kind of do it.
One of my swimmers, Katinka Hosszu didn’t have a very good Olympics, but has been outstanding in everything else, when she first got to US in 2008 we prepared her for the 2009 world championships where she won the 400 IM and we spent… I recognized in that season, first season working with her that, I think she could win the 400 IM in world championships and I came up with some splits that I thought that she could hold and talked about wining and what we started to do is starting calling her the ‘rice cooker’ Katinka ‘the rice cooker’ The reason being Stephanie Rice was coming off the Olympic games as the Olympic champion, so we called Katinka ‘the rice cooker’ and it was just a little joke, but it relates very specific to the goal that was to be had in 2009. So I think the kids know that I don’t get mad about things very much except for getting it on time, I get real mad about that. I get real mad at the college kids when the lane lines aren’t in and ready to go and I ban all swearing, generally you are not allowed to swear on my pool deck and they know that, and so if I throw down an F bomb, they know I am serious. They go, oh crap, Salo is really mad.
So I make that distinguishing point, I am serious where I need to be serious. I am calling out on it when I need to, I am not a hokey guy just playing around, its like I take… I take V-sit scull really seriously and they know that because I am barking out instructions through that entire set, you know, get the legs up, points the feet, legs straight, work on your abs, come on faster, and I think that that’s how you gain respect from your athletes in this environment is you are seriously about the things that you are asking them to do. I tell them all the time. I met with the kids this last week and we said the detail of what I am giving you is important, the detail I am giving you is critical to your performance. You want to perform well, then you take the detail I give you and understand as our sport psychologist, I just met with him, said, its like success isn’t random, it is not by chance, its by planned activity, its by planned procedure, just doesn’t happen, doesn’t fall in your lap, so we are trying to impress upon that attitude of the athletes and I think they respect me for that and don’t treat me ‘oh, I am just trying to have fun’ I think if you have fun and work really hard and that’s kind of the approach that I take.
Coach Hargis says do you think a hybrid of your program and someone like Bob Bowman’s would give international results? Umm… there is coach that do a hybrid of everything we all do. So I think that… that’s why we are here, you came here to gamble, to drink, get away from your team, whatever you came here for you leave with something, I hope I have given you something, Bill Sweetenham, Dave Durden and I missed that talk and I hope Jon got all the notes, because we [Indiscernible] [00:54:09] one of these days its get tougher and tougher, at least I can say, Dave Durden swam for me for a while and so I taught him everything I know. Dave already left I know he won’t hear that. But yeah, you take away from all these opportunities, something that becomes yours and quit giving me credit. Its okay, you can go home and take this and steal it, I don’t care, take it its yours, now it’s yours, its your personality, its yours.
I have coaches that come up to me and I am flattered by they go, we do these sets, we call them Salos, I got lot of kids out there that I like… they all know me as this guy that created this set. I am flattered by that, but its yours, take ownership of it, but I am flattered that you honor me with that, but its yours, and once you go on the deck and you do your thing with your athletes and they buy in they do great, I get more compliments from coaches coming up and saying, I listened to one of your talks, I went back and implemented a lot of things that you do, not everything, but a lot of things and the kids are swimming great and having a good time. That’s… that’s my… that’s my job. Is if I can influence you to go out and do something little bit better and your kids love it for it and they swim better that’s what its all about. And so, take it its yours and so yeah, what Bob offers to you, yeah, you take some of Bob’s things, I am taking some of Bill Sweetenham’s things, I am taking some of Eddie’s things, I am taking some of Gregg Troy’s things and when I beat him this year at NCAA, I will just say, well, I took some of yours and I took some of yours, quit giving to me. So I think it all… I think it all works. Kids coming to practice with enthusiasm and believing in you, it’s a combination for success, I don’t think you can… So don’t worry that any one of us have more answers than the others. Yes.
[indiscernible audience question]
The question is: Do I allow coaches to come and shadow me at practice? Not all of you at once, that will be a little messy. Yes, coaches will call and ask if they can come by, you are more than welcome to come by. Just e-mail me so that I know you might be doing that. I will tell you what our schedule is like so you can come in. now if you want to send your kids to my summer camp, we have camp opportunities in the summer usually in June, we invite coaches and they want to be our counselors to come in voluntarily and they can shadow me then. I have a couple of evening sessions with the coaches to answer all their questions. They can watch at Trojan Swim Club, I train, they can see how I implement some of the drills that we do and then they can play with the campers. And so if anybody that wants to come to my camp you can do that. It’s reasonable, it’s better than other alternatives. Does that answer the question? But yeah, just let me know… if you are in Los Angeles and you want to stop by just send me an e-mail and we would love to have you.
How often do you work with resistance? I work with resistance probably quite a bit, I like stuff, I like working with stuff, I told you about tree branches and things like that, but I also like working with… we just ordered two more power towers, we will have a total of eight, not quite where Arizona is, I think Arizona has like 24 of these things, but we are going to have eight. We use resistance with parachutes, I found a company that Richard Quick had recommended years ago, before his passing, it makes a great parachute for the water. It’s a company called Kytek, K-Y-T-E-K. They make really good parachute for swimming. They never advertise it, so if they get an inundation of orders, they will tell them I told them about it, maybe I will get some free ones, they are expensive, but they do a job. We use stretch cords a lot, and as Coach Reese mentioned earlier, get the ones that have the Mylar band down the middle of it. That way if they break, nobody gets hurt. But we will use resistance to do resist assist. One of the things I like to do, one of my assistant coaches, Jeremy Kipby, I assign him my sprint group more often than the other groups because he is really good with the guys and he is pretty creative and he has figured it out that I am okay with almost anything you do and so he will do some things down on the deck on a Tuesday, and I go, I am going to take the sprinters on Thursday and I am going top that, I can top that. So we play top that.
So I came up with a thing where you take a 25-kilogram plastic weight plate or rubberized weight plate, tie it on to a stretch cord put the belt on the athlete and then they get full steam, you put the belt or the weight plate about 10-12 feet back on the deck and the kids run full speed into the diving tank, dive and sprint 25, they do a flip turn, now what happens as they get to the wall is the weight plate starts sliding, it starts sliding across the deck, and I tell them, okay you make your flip turn. You make that flip and you got to get back here because that weight plate for a while will skim near the surface and then it just drops and your goal is to get it before it goes down 13 feet, so imagine. Flip turn, coming up and they all end up having to go to the bottom. It’s a great set. I don’t know if you do the 10 year olds, but things like that, I think it’s a great sprint type set, it’s a challenge. That’s what I learned from Jason Lezak is how I can get Jason Lezak to swim harder. I tell the story all the time, I would go, okay, Jason we are going to go eight 50s, I want them full speed, they are on one 15 interval, I want perfect stroke, yada yada yada and I would get like 5 really good ones and he would go, ha, ha, ha, I only went five really fast ones and would go, ha, ha, ha, I really only want four really fast ones. Got ya. And its funny because I went to USC and Jason stayed in Irvine to train himself, I kind of come to find out as I talked with him over the weeks and months and years and he would do like more of those eight 50s all out just to make sure if I was right, he was going to fill in with all those fast 50s and so he does a lot more of those instead of just four. So I do use resistance quite a bit.
Just shot out any questions, I will answer… I am just looking at the Twitter ones. Yeah or Nay on underwater judging at the Olympics? I guess I am for that doing the underwater, I think especially you just can’t see things that you are going to see better underwater. So I think I would be in favor of that. I think when Cameron van der Burgh came out and said, professor, I did all these dolphin kicks underwater, it was as demeaning to the sport, should he have been disqualified afterwards, I don’t know about that, but I think he should have just kept his mouth shut unless he was trying to make change to the sport, either to allow dolphin kicking or to advance the rule to use underwater officially. But it just undermines the sport.
What was the most innovative sports science initiative that you have bought into in recent years? Now that’s a good question. If you want to consider video taping your sports science I think probably is the biomechanics of our sport continues to really elevate. Coaches are getting better and better at understanding technique and what works and now that we have videotape capabilities to really kind of get… do underwater video taping and then immediately apply it, I think that’s the one component my program that is really lacking is that immediate supply of video taping. So I think the more you can do that, I wish the iPads, I think its really functional tool, is you can take it underwater and show immediately. I think there is some real real real tremendous things that we can do with underwater video taping and showing kids immediately. I think that some of the things that Sean Hutchison since he has left swimming is really trying to implement is the tool of really using your brain, the brain plasticity is amazing in terms of what it is able to do when you set the right parameters for that and that’s what it is, its the brain seeing a skill and trying to implement that skill. So if you see good underwater video of an athlete you show it to your kids who are lacking in that skill and giving them a chance to kind of get that sense of what they are doing.
I said this early in my talk about how we have less skilled coaches teaching our beginner swimmers and imagine describing breaststroke to a 9-year-old who has never swum before and that kid has to take that description and may be a demonstration of a breaststroke and turn that into a stroke. Its amazing, just really think about that for a moment and that’s why I think if you are supervising younger coaches, you got to really make sure they understand the mechanics of the stroke and the ability to describe that stroke and demonstrate that stroke, and make sure they are doing that right because you got 9 year olds hanging on their every word and the visual cue as to what that stroke looks like and one thing I always tell people, don’t teach little kids two kicks on butterfly, quit doing that, its one pet peeve, don’t teach a beginner 9-year-old 8-year-old two kicks per stroke on butterfly, its not normal, they will pick it up and they will learn it, but otherwise they will stop, their timing or the stroke to accommodate two kicks. So you get that question. My kid stops all the time on butterfly, why? Because you taught them to kick twice. Just let them do upper body, flow butterfly, don’t even worry about the kick. That’s my pet peeve. I say that every time I talk. Anybody disagree that’s fine.
HSA swimming asks – Why you think it’s so difficult for opposing concepts like yours to be expressed in our professions? Oops, well that was the question, because… here is the way our sport works. If you have the Olympic champion, you have all the answers, if you have all the answers, you are invited to speak at ASCA and everybody will sit in the room and take notes on what coach Salo says breaststroke should be like this. He knows he has got the breaststroke world champion or Olympic champion, so that’s what you need to do, I think that’s the way you should do it, but you might think something works better. But I think that’s the way we are in our sport. We have… look, I was like everybody else here, I was an aerobic base nazi like everybody else, my first team, we are going to get to 9000 yards whether you like it or not. So I took a novice team and that was my goal, we are going to get to 9000 yards in a workout, that’s aerobic. And they all quit and maybe I didn’t build up to it enough, but I was coming to these events and people saying, you got to do this, you got to do this, you got to do this, otherwise its not going to work, you got to do before they turn 13, otherwise its not going to work. So I bought into that, like everybody else because the great…, I am not a great, the ones that we admire are standing up here, telling us that’s the way you are supposed to do it.
Majority of you in this room are coaching developmental kids. The majority of us up here are not doing that. That’s the truth. We get to take all the labor of your efforts and go to the Olympic Games and to be asked to speak here. I am flattered and I will take the stipend and I will got bet it on Number 7 black, you can all gather around me, but its what you guys are doing that allows me to stand here and tell you you are doing it all wrong, come on, technique. I think that when I came along, I was… I was… look I have a PhD in exercise science, doesn’t make me any smarter than anybody else, all it does is it says I lasted longer than anybody else did. It took me a long time to get my PhD, but I worked really hard to do that, I wasn’t smarter, I was long lasting. But I had professors who challenged me, I had professors say you swimming coaches are just weird, why are you doing what you are doing. You are training somebody to go faster, usually about 2 minutes and less and you are still considering it an endurance event. If you equate what you are doing swimming to what you do in your racing, its like doing a marathon every day. Now does a runner do that? No, then the argument comes, well runners are walking all the time, that’s their aerobic base is walking around campus and stuff like that, so they are walking all the time. Swimmers need to do the comparable thing.
I just don’t believe that, so when I was challenged and I went a different direction in my coaching I was… I was… Coach Daland may or may not be in the room, I was working with Coach Daland I was writing these articles, he came to the office, in my office, I was sharing an office… came to the office I shared and I was… I was helping, I wasn’t an assistant coach, I was helping his team, but he said, Dave, you are out on a limb that I just think you are just… I think you got to be really careful, I think you got be really careful you are out there on a limb and I think you are pretty good at this, but you be careful, and I said, coach I appreciate that, and now I am sitting in his office. Awesome, and Coach Daland and I are best of friends, we talk all the time, we talk every three weeks or so, but I believed in something different and I was willing to be… I was in an environment that allowed to take some risks and I have had some results with it and like I said, my way is one way, you guys do it anyway you want to do it and you will be successful at it. So do it, and I think we have more and more coaches taking, being challenged and taking risks and not being afraid of taking that risk, it just swimming. And if you get… I don’t care who you are a kid who believes in you, believes in what you are having them do and they are going to buy into it, you keep them on task, they can be successful. I think I have got one minute left, any other questions that I might have missed. Okay, so remember, don’t all come next week. Don’t do that, but if you do want to come, send me a note and I will be more than happy to let you know when our schedule is. Thanks a lot, I appreciate it.