I was an AD and athletic, excuse me, football coach at that time, and they offered me $7500 to take the head coaching position, and I was real anxious to get it. I think he was maybe hoping I’d say no. At that point in time, they were getting ready to get rid of swimming at the University of Georgia. We had a horrible men’s team and our women’s team was coming off a real successful season. We lost to Brunnell and beat the college of Charleston. I think we only had two wins the year before I got the job. That was the bad news. The good news was I was in a good win/win situation. Actually, the first time I ever got thrown in was when we beat Brunell College, a women’s school up in Gainesville, Georgia, so you can sort of see where the emphasis was when I first started at Georgia.
But in 1979 I realized I didn’t know a damn thing. I figured I had to go figure out something real quickly, so I called Dick Shoulburg and asked him if I can come and help him. It actually happened a little bit before that—77/78, and even after I got the head coaching job, I went up there and spent two summers with him, and he let me work there for free. They didn’t have much money in the program at the time. Most of my knowledge of swimming came from, from my college experience, which was mediocre at best. So I don’t think I learned anything from my coach, and certainly I didn’t learn much because I was not that good an athlete. I had to learn something, and that’s why I went to Dick.
Now any of you are familiar with Dick knows that there are some things you can take back to a college program, there’s some things you can’t. And my first year there was an absolute experience. I saw everything from racing a 20,000 meter swim to 10,000 meter flys, and you name it and all the things you hear that Dick does, he does. It was sort of nice for me because we got a chance to go on deck for about six hours and during that time we got a chance to talk a lot. We worked on Saturdays for about 5 to 6 hours. We worked on Sundays for only 4 at that time. So we got in an awful lot of coaching in the summer.
My relationship, I have everything in the world to thank, and everything I have right now, I thank Shoulburg for. Dick helped me tremendously and actually a lot of people that might be sitting in this room today helped me also. John Urbanachek, who actually, whether he knows it or not, actually changed our program about 5 or 6 years ago for the good, and a few others along the way have helped me tremendously,. But Dick, I think, really changed the way I looked at coaching. Obviously I couldn’t bring back some of the things that Shoulburg liked to do up at GA into a college regime, where I would have had about one swimmer at the end of the year. And so what I did was beg, borrow and steal. I didn’t have many kids go 10,000 meter butterflies.
Actually I had one and that was Sheila. Come to think of it, she made the Olympics team in 1996, but it probably, when I had her in 91/92, it probably took her about 4 years to get rested from some the stuff that we did. But she was the only one that ever did a 10,000 flyer in our program. But more importantly what I’d like to say is this, what happened was when we first started, as I said, we were very mediocre. And I had some real ideas of what we wanted to be at that time, but it was going to be a very slow transition. And I had, I began with the women’s team in 1979, and I received the men’s team in 83. And we were on a very fragile plane at that time at the University of Georgia. They had unloaded wrestling, and they had unloaded men’s gymnastics too. Now they’re not going to unload many more sports right now as you probably know, but we have to do a little fighting for swimming, but I was in a very precarious spot. What I did do was not worry about it. What I did do was just try to coach as hard as I could. And I made an enormous amount of mistakes the first few years. But I’d like to give you a little sort of progression of where we were.
In 1979 with our women, I was real happy to get some people qualified. We ended up going in the top 15 in the country, not until 1985. Then we were 13th. From there we went 13th, 9th, 6th and we had a little shot there, and if you look at your past careers, you can pretty much rest assured some individual or some athlete had a very big part to play in it, in the progress of your program. Cathy Coffin was one who was a sprinter, and she was a great leader. We went 14th, 10th, 13th, 8th, 9th, 12th and then we were at a horrible, I thought in 1994 15th place. And that was just 5 years before we won a National Championship this year. After 94 we went to 6th and we got into a new facility and that changed our lives, and I’d be lying if I said otherwise.
We ended up 5th, 5th, 3rd and then 1st. On the men’s side, a much slower climb, and in 83 we were horrendous. We were just happy to get people qualified. We didn’t go top 20 until 1993, took ten years. We went 15th, 16th, and 16th in 1995, and then in 96 as soon as we got in the new facility, we went 11th, we went 3rd, 7th and 9th and I believe we’ll have a pretty darn good team this year too. I think our facility impacted our program. Obviously you can tell it gave us a step up. That’s another little talk in itself about the facility, but the point that you need to know is we we’re poised to be in a position to get good before we got a new facility. I don’t think bad facilities are excuses for a bad team. And I think we have to do an awful lot of coaching, and you go to do an awful lot of, an awful lot of wear and tear we go through. And I spent 15 years of my career from late fall all through the winter every night going down to our old pool at 10 o’clock and turning the heat on or off, because it was one or the other. So no matter where I was at 10 or 11 o’clock, I had to go down there and take care of our pools.
I went through 15 years of that then when we got into our new facility; I thought I’d seen God. We and there’s not a day when I don’t appreciate where we’re sitting. We actually hosted, when we won the championship, this year, it came at a really opportune time for us, because of this; we were hosting the championships for the first time in Athens. And so as you can probably tell, our timing was good, it was exciting, our kids earned the championship, I feel, but I just said I think we were poised to get into that position, 2 years, 3 years even 5 years before it actually happened. So I think that’s an important aspect.
I don’t know how to take teams, there are people who that can do it, and I don’t know how to take teams real quickly from point A to point B. It seems to me that anything I’ve ever done has taken a real long time. And I’m not real innovative, but I knew how to beg, borrow and steal, and that’s pretty much how we’ve addressed our program. Let me say a couple of things. That’s that. That’s the history. I think you know what we’ve done in the last couple of years, and we’re very proud of it. As much as we’re proud of what we’ve done in the pool, we’re probably as proud as how we’ve done it. We’ve done it with good kids, kids that I liked to coach. I don’t think we’ve compromised on recruiting, and we’ve done it with some pretty darn good student athletes too. The last ten or twelve years, I think we have posted more NCAA post graduate scholarship winners than any program. And as they say, do as I say, and not as I did in school, because I was a pretty normal student. I barely made it through the first couple of years, but we had some terrific kids, and we recruit in that manner. And I think that that’s real important as you’re looking at your program.
Let me talk real quickly here also, and what I’d like to do is go through, we have an hour and 15 minutes slot. The second slot will be pretty much all the training aspect, which is the part; I’m trying to get through this as fast as possible because that’s the part I like. I don’t really like talking about organizational parts, but I think it’s real important also. And if any time we have a question, let’s shoot it up here as soon as we possibly can, and let’s not wait until the end. I’ll just go for a certain amount of time, we’ll break it off around and hour, and if we have any questions at that time and if not, we’ll just take our break a little bit early.
I think it’s real important; you have to spend as much time organizing your program as necessary to make it successful. You’re going to have to really sit down and get the people that you have and put them in the right spots. Let me tell you a little bit of how we do this because my job, I feel as a head coach, is to delegate so much and have the people do so much work and our assistants are busy so that I can coach because what I like to do is coach. I can’t stand being in an office, otherwise I would have taken another job. But my pleasure and happiness is out on a deck, and so what I have tried to do in Georgia is to make sure every decision I have made as far as our staff, makes it more feasible for me to spend more time on the deck as I possibly can to a point. Even say Wednesday, when I flew out here, we did not have, I just changed their practice to the morning at 5 o’clock instead of the afternoon, so I could have two hours on deck. I think it’s important if you ever think your program is going to run without you, you’re going to be fooled. You need to be there as much as possible, and we can’t use recruiting trips, trips to go speak somewhere as excuses. We need to be on deck as much as you possibly can. That’s the only way to know your athletes, and it’s the only way, I think, to enjoy the sport.
So let me tell you how we, there’s some areas here that we get into, and I think this is pretty important stuff here. I have, I’ve been really blessed. I’ve an assistant coach I guess I’m blessed, he’s been with me for 18 years. Harvey Humphreys. And Harvey’s, basically his strong point is he’s a people person. So obviously the biggest thing I needed to do was find a place where he can be best, and he is involved entirely with recruiting. He also runs our home, our bulldog club. And he is in constant, basically because of the recruiting aspect of it, he’s in constant correspondence with our faculty and pretty much in our hierarchy at the University of Georgia. So Harvey’s main responsibility is recruiting, and I’m talking now away from the pool. He also takes care of the distance group. But I want to tell you how much stuff we finally get you know pushed off, how many things I end up delegating.
I think it’s real important that you get someone involved in the recruiting that has a boundless amount of energy, and Harvey will talk to 58 breaststroker guys as much as he’ll talk to a 54 breaststroker guy. He’s willing to give everyone time. And because of that, we’ve got some pretty good people in Georgia that may have gone somewhere else. He sets up all our recruiting visits, he does all the travel for them, and we have recruiting meetings once per week as the season starts. It’s starting next week. We’ve been a little sketchy here just because of some travel with certain coaches, myself included, but as of next week, we get down, we sit down once per week. But he handles all the flying in and also all the meetings that they go through after that.
We have another full time, we have a full time diving coach. And any college coach will know that a diving coach can be the vein of your existence. My feeling is that they need to do a lot more work than what they expect. Diving coaches have always, they just drive me crazy. They want a lot of things, but they only want to coach about six kids. They want to play golf, they want to do this, they want to have all their time, and they want to have everything you’re giving to the swimmers, but they don’t want to sacrifice as much.
So what I did with our diving coach, he’s matured into a very, very important position. He actually was the meet director for the NCAA championships because I realized two years out when we got the bid, there is no way in the world I could have a chance to win in that meet if I was involved in running it. So I put him thoroughly in charge. He is also an assistant manager for our facility, and anything I need to get done in that facility, he’s in charge of. He’s meticulous, and he’ll spend his time at it. So if you have a diving coach, even if he’s a grad assistant and I know we’re sort of a little bit spoiled because I have a lot of full time money, but no matter what, put the son of a gun to work. Alright. They need it. They have a lot of time, so I use him an awful lot, and in actuality, because of his expertise around the pool and also running meets, I can go to him and get an awful lot of information and save myself an awful lot of time. And maybe that way you’ll be able to swallow some of your diving performances a little bit easier during the course of the year. The guy will absolutely drive you nuts.
We have a couple of full time coaches also. I’ll just mention there’s Carol Felton, now Carol Cappitana, she was and all American at Cal Berkley, and she’s done a great job with us. She takes care of the sprint group and sometimes a little bit, falls over a little bit into the middle distance. We have a new coach this year, Morgan Bailey, who’s spent some time with Peter up in Oakland. David Marsh, down in Auburn and also Mettlenburg with Pat Hogan. And he joins our staff. We have another GA position and that was a young guy who swam for Eddie Reese down at the University of Texas. And then I think it’s real important that you use your 5th year people. They can do anything, they can help you with meets, this year when we were involved with an invitational and also hosting the NCAA championship, we put them to work. By and large most of your 5th year people are on scholarship, so they need to be worked. And my feeling is that they need to earn that scholarship for their fifth year unless they are continuing to swim. I try to get them completely out of any other responsibilities. But if indeed they are not swimming, and they are finishing school on our money, we put them on a full-time job associated with the program.
When I first got a job in 79, I started a faculty swim lunch at lunchtime, those are my coaches, my fifth year people. So that keeps the faculty happy, you get a good relationship with them and you can get a lot more things done with in your campus. But make sure you do something with them, so that they are not just sitting around. Let’s go on here. As we go through, I just want to touch on certain things, but as we do this, I think you have to find people’s strong points. Harvey’s a people person, I think we’re going to have a situation, Carol is too, but we divide things up as far as the biggest items that we need to do that I don’t want to tend to but I oversee: Number One is the recruiting, Secondly you have to have someone taking care of your budget, giving you updates, and obviously you have to have someone you trust 100% because that’s an awful lot of money. You need to have a coach that is involved in taking care of all your equipment. We have 60 athletes or 55 athletes, I don’t want to be messing around with that. Who gets what, what suit and right now they get more stuff than you can imagine. And, then obviously the people who are on the peripheral like Gas. They’re there to help any of the assistant coaches.
I think we need to demand, you demand exactly of your assistant coaches, what you demand from yourself. They need to be there on time, they need to be prepared, and they need to be alert. I think, I was listening to Bill’s talk yesterday, and so much of what you said was sort of nice just to hear things stated because a lot of it is hell. I think, I know what you’re talking about, when you go around and take a look at coaches, when you see them unprepared for a practice, shoddy. I think it’s our responsibility to always to come here quite prepared, be alert, and I demand the very same thing out of our coaches.
Now, let’s just talk about responsibilities and things that you’re going to have to deal with. On the outside, college coaches know all the little junk that we have to go through. And we have to go through an awful lot. And I think sometimes, the club coaches don’t really have an appreciation of some of the things that we have to do during the course of a day to make your programs float. And this is pretty important stuff, otherwise you’re not going to be successful. I think the college coaches’ role right now has changed dramatically in the last ten years. I know I used to play a little bit of tennis, and now I don’t play much anymore at all. And we have to tend to a lot of different things as far as scholarships, compliance and while we’re on compliance, I think its real important to get someone in your program, one of your assistant coaches, to read every piece of paper that comes through. You do not have time to be dealing with compliance. I’m not going to say anything about the NCAA because we’re on tape, but I have a strong disregard for some of the things that they put forth. I have a strong disregard for the fact that I have to go to meetings with administrators that have never coached anybody, and they’re telling us how to run our programs. I try to steer clear of them, stay within the rules, but have as little to do with them as possible. So I give our compliance, all the compliance information is given off to one of my coaches who can read and write a lot better than I, and they just give me an update on what I need to know. Other than that I don’t like to deal with it.
Let me talk a little bit about the budget. That’s what I’m ultimately responsible for. I think you have to fight on a day-today basis, year-to-year basis, to get it changed. I think you’re crazy if you go in there and say that’s fine, within one year to the next, you have to ask for more consistency. Whether you have a great season or not. Travel, recruiting, supplies,
home meets, all this is basically driven by the money that you get in your budget. Who you’re going to swim is driven by how much you get in your budget. So make sure you’re in there on a semi-annually basis and asking, and in some cases maybe even demanding that you need more, because swimming never gets enough.
Also, these are the things that I have to deal with, I’m starting with budget, and next thing is scholarships. None of this should come from an assistant coach. This is the head coaches’ responsibility entirely, and this is a real vein of our existence. As all of you know, after the season, this is the most distasteful part about our sport. We go into arbitration with parents. Concerning scholarships. It’s an amazing situation. You bring an athlete in, maybe an average athlete, and you coach the living hell out of him. They have great success, they score in NCAAS, and then the first call that you get is how much more they’re going to get. You never get the call after they have a bad season. Can I reduce their scholarship? Ever. I’ve never received one, but you sure as heck will get the calls about how much more they’re going to get. So all of you and just to let you know, we’re all in the same boat here. We’re in a constant fight, and the more successful we have been in the last 4 and 5 years, it seems like the more fights I have been in. But I think you can fend this off in one manner. I think it’s real easy. I think you have to bite the bullet sometimes. There’s sometimes you just are not going to have as much as you need. And there’s no way you can do anything about it. But you need to make a promise to a kid, if indeed you do this, you get this, and you need to stick to it. Otherwise, you’re not going to be able to recruit in an honest manner.
We take care of kids that are there first and sometimes, that hurts us in recruiting because we might not have as much, but the biggest thing you got to do is to make sure they know where they stand. Then you’re going to fend off a lot of problems that you’re going to have with moms and dads. And, because it seems like our whole generation that we’re involved with, my generation even, as far as adults, they’re into money. How much they can get and how quickly they can get it. And I think you have to make sure you just spell things out beforehand so that they just know where everything stands. Promises are promises. Keep them, but the same point in time, let me tell you what happened this year.
Don’t be afraid to ask for money back. Right? We have some pretty good people, and all of you do have great people associated with their program. About 3 years, actually 2 years ago, less than 2 years ago, I felt and I’m glad it happened, but I felt we had a chance to win a National Championship. We came real close the year before even though we were third, we just weren’t ready here to win it yet. I thought, that could have been done, but last year certainly we were ready mentally. But the same point in time, I needed more people swimming and more bodies. I went to 3 parents that were on our team and asked for money. And you’d be surprised, and obviously you got to pick and choose the right ones because some of them would have laughed in my face, but three parents kicked back a total of about a scholarship and a half, and because of that we got two other athletes in that were instrumental, to say the least in us winning the championship. So I think you have to work the system a little bit. Don’t be afraid to address it, and you know we’re in situations where some of these parents have enough money that you can get down and really talk to them privately in an honest to God manner, and they say how much do you need? If your kid really wants to be here in swimming in this place, how can we do this to make this team good? So I try to work it out as much as possible because as you all know, the biggest sin in college athletics right now is us being on a 9.9 scholarship for men. That’s impossible to fathom. It’s more impossible to fathom when you look across the board and you see women’s gymnastics teams with 12 full scholarships and they compete with 5 or 6. So it makes you about sick to your stomach, but you have to fight and you have to fight every year, and you have to fight for money. We all go through it, but I think if things are just done upfront, you know we have a better chance of getting things done.
While we’re on this, I think this is a very important item. Last night we had a coaches meeting, a college swim coaches association meeting for all practical purposes. We’re talking about the biggest problems we have in the collegiate swimming right now, and one of them is what are we going to do about men’s swimming? Because we’ve lost some terrific programs, and I think this comes down to us. I’m not real great about figuring out who should be heading up meetings and committees and all that, but there’s a part of it that we can control in our campus. And I think this is real important. And you’re association with alumni and boosters can save your program, and basically can solidify it for the rest of your darn time on this earth. What I’ve tried to do, I think probably about 20 or 30% of my efforts outside of the coaching is really given off to make sure we’re fundraising for the program. Every year we have a social in the fall where we bring back past alumni. We make anywhere from $40,000.00 to $50,0000.00. We can use that anywhere in the program. Alright.
We have a banquet, and we start that and I started that in 1979. The first year we had about 12 people. This year we’ll have about 350. And people now, you can see it in all the sports, they want to have some association with programs. People are nuts about autographs now. I don’t know what it is. Everyone wants to have an association with sports. So I think it’s time to take advantage of it. The biggest thing and the wave of the future, if you’re not already involved in it, that you have to do is get your scholarships endowed. And that’s going to save men’s swimming because if your scholarships, if they’re paid for fully after, in five years or in ten years from now, there’s no way in the world they’re going to get rid of your program. But that’s up to us. You have to do a lot of leg work out there. I know this is a part of things that we don’t like to get into because we’d rather just coach, and then go home and enjoy our time with our family, but you got a lot of people out there associated with your program that got an awful lot of money. And a lot of them are our age and younger that don’t know what to do with it. And if they’re going to throw it away, they might as well throw it away in a spot that can help somebody.
So what we’ve done, and as a matter of fact when we got off the plane, from Pan Pacs in San Francisco, I met a woman who was a diver on the team when I was at Georgia swimming back in 1970/72, and thankfully, I had been nice to her when we were on the team because I wasn’t nice to a few of the other ones. We met there for three hours in San Francisco, and she gave us $100,000.00 to endow a scholarship. We have four scholarships fully endowed right now, and we just started on these 10 years ago. And obviously one of the main items on this is, if you’re at a place for a very long time, you should have a very close association with people that are involved with a program. And even if you’re a new coach at a new program, you need to find out who the movers and shakers are and get some people started to give some money because there’s a lot of it out there. Most of it goes to football. Right. And you can imagine what it’s like down where we are. Right. In the southeast conference, football is not just a sport. It’s somewhere past that. And so we have to find some people that are willing to give, and if you get some people that are in your program, have been in your program enjoyed success in your program, go to them and ask for it. Right. It’s not something we like to do, but it’s going to save our sport.
Let me talk real quickly about recruiting. I think this is something, obviously I think this year when we won the championship we won, certainly people are going to point to Christy CoWall, maybe Courtney Shiely, and if you have one of those you’ve got a pretty good chance, certainly. But you can win with some pretty average athletes who want to work hard. And I think our championship was won certainly by some sterling performances, but some of the sterling performances we had outside of the very obvious swimmers were done by some very average athletes. And there are a lot of them out there. What I think in recruiting, the first thing I do is real simple. I don’t recruit them unless I like them. And I think you can find out a little bit about it when you watch them at swim meets, when they come in for a visit and the final straw is make sure you’re at their home, and see how they treat their mother and father. If they treat them in a disrespectful manner, I’m out of there as soon as possible. I’ll cut the meeting as short as I possibly can. Because I don’t think there’s any way they’re going to treat me with respect, and if indeed anything did go awry, the parents aren’t going to have a real good plan, and I’ve found over the 20 some odd years that if you have problems with kids on a team, you don’t have support from parents, you can’t fix it. So I meet at least one of the parents, if they’re separated or whatever else. Because God knows we have many different situations anymore. But I go for people that I like, people that I think are real serious about how they’re going to take care of themselves fitness wise.
Women’s collegiate swimming is sort of predicated on kids being not just hard working, but also that they’re going to stay fit for four years’ time. Now I think that’s been something that we sort of take a lot of pride in Georgia. But you have to get kids that are sort of thinking in that manner before they ever get there. Don’t believe you can do all that educating in four years’ time. I think it’s important that you develop good leaders and captains early. Pinpoint a few of them when they’re freshmen, sophomores. Even take them aside by the time they’re sophomores and sort of lead them into that vein. And more importantly, this, I think with the athletes, enjoy them when they get there.
The biggest change in our pool situation is this. We build our new facility, which we’ll show it to you a little bit later on a video, all of a sudden our kids wanted to stay at the pool instead of leave. And it made a real big difference in our program. Communication levels went up tenfold. Alright. They don’t leave, they’re not in a hurry anymore. And our old pool was a rough one. And by the time we left it, we were ready to get out. But this one is pretty, kids want to stay around, and I think some of the most important times in coaching are done before workout and certainly after workout before they leave. Then you can find out a little bit about where they are and you can get an awful lot of stuff done without maybe making maybe a meeting in the middle of the day.
Let me talk real quickly about facilities. Our facility, we had a little bit of success before we got in, it was terrible at best. Many of you have seen it and many, it was a fast pool but it was ugly at best. We did get through some recruiting trips without the athlete ever seeing it and that caused, that took an awful lot of, well what we did was just sort of run out of time on Sunday mornings basically, but we never brought them in and showed them the pool first. And quite frankly we were so glad to get out of there. It was leaking, it was impossible to keep up. We had to put, constantly put water in, we couldn’t control the temperature, matter of fact when the University of Texas—I convinced Richard Quick to come when he was in Texas to swim with us in a dual meet in 1986 when I thought we needed to take a pretty good leap up. I stayed there virtually all night long messing around with the heater just so it would be somewhere between 78 and 82 because that place could really go awry. But the final straw was when, in the fall, three days before we went into the new facility, a hawk flew in the back door and dropped a rat in lane three. And I thought that was a real strong omen to get the hell out of dodge. So that was our last day of training and that’s a true story. That was our last day of training. That was it for me. We did dryland outside for the next two days, and then we went into our new place. The new Natatorium. Our place is no longer a pool, it is a natatorium. But I think the biggest impact it has is obviously recruiting changes. And I think that impacts the guys more than the women’s team.
The women come and they look for an awful lot of things, sometimes a little bit more essential than just what a pool looks like. Guys do love great facilities. Right. And if you think that’s off base, just look around at football, basketball and see how much emphasis is put on locker rooms and even all the peripheral things as part of the program. The best programs have amazing facilities, and they’re all trying to stay up with the Jones’. At the same point in time when we got into that facility, we started, you have to remember here, that was a labor of love. We were getting very close to dropping our program, and what I had to do was earmark three or four people that were on our athletic board back in the early 80s and start working them and see if we could get this done. It took an awful long time.
One of our most instrumental people was Sonny Syler, who is not sure if any of you are familiar with this but he was, he was a swimmer in Georgia in the 1950s. He owns all our bulldogs. He is revered because of that. We call him Uga. We’re now on Uga’s seven. But he is the owner of all our bulldogs. He is a very powerful man. He’s as I say an ex swimmer, he was originally in the, the lawyer in the case of the Midnight in the Garden of Evil, the movie down there. He actually played the judge in the movie, but he was in the original case in Savannah. Very successful lawyer down in the southeast, and he was instrumental and finally, his love of men’s swimming, because he couldn’t care less to be honest with you, about women’s swimming. I got letters every time from Sonny, every time we won a men’s meet, but he didn’t really care too much about the other side. So we had to impress him from the men’s point of view, and he was old time, but he was instrumental in us getting that facility.
We decided that we were going to get this thing built…we got in it in 96 and we, this began, and it was O.K.’d in 1990. We had a long haul, and I will say this, two years in there were the toughest years of my entire life. And I went around and looked at a lot of pools around the country, saw the things that I liked, because I was so fearful of doing something wrong with that pool because we were going to live it for the next 50 years. And I tell you what, that makes you real nervous, and I’m real proud to say, I think we did a real good job on it. My diving coach did a lot of that work too, by the way, and I think it’s important that if you’re not satisfied with your facility, fight for another one. It’s not going to happen just by bitching about it, excuse the French, to your assistant coaches or other people, you need to go to people who have money and power to get it done.
It ended up exactly the way we wanted it. We did not want a gigantic one. We wanted one that was going to help us host an NCAA championship because we thought that might help us win a championship, and at the same point in time, we didn’t want it cavernous because I think, I truly think Indianapolis is too big for an NCAA championship. I don’t think we get a great feeling there. But I love that pool, and I love going back there, but I think it’s better when things are a little bit better confined. I think we need to build pools more in that type of situation. But these are the things, these are all the peripheral things that I think you need to realize that you have to go through.
And let me look at what I’m saying here real quickly, make sure I’m not messing up and we’ll just go from there, but I think more importantly two things come into play, make sure your organization is at a point where you’re not messing with any little thing that you don’t have to. Give, delegate as much as possible and do that when you’re looking at assistant coaches. My first criteria is loyalty to our program. The second criteria is knowledge. I have had some great, great assistant coaches in the past. Steve Bolman, who is now at Texas A & M, Garry Binfield who was an Olympian from England and swam at the University of South Carolina. As a matter of fact when Chris was there, and we’ve had some terrific people, and they’d bring new ideas into the program. I’m never fearful of anyone with great knowledge. What I fear most is someone who comes in on their agenda, and they don’t understand or grasp the concept of everyone working as a team. I think that the most enjoyment I have in coaching is on the deck. Being with the other coaches, I just make sure I like them, and I know they’re going to be loyal and that’s the biggest thing.
And I was just thinking, if you’re going to err on one side, make sure you err on the side of knowledge and not loyalty. Because I think you can always teach people what needs to be done, but you can’t teach the other. And if you don’t have a good camaraderie on that deck, if you’re not enjoying yourselves with your buddies and the kids, don’t sense a nice degree of normalcy. I think your program’s going to suffer and you’re going to get a lot more drama during the course of a year than you ever want.
So organization is gigantic, and the other aspect of it is, no matter what you think, we’re dealing with a money situation in collegiate sports these days. You have to be aggressive to go out there and get things done for your program and don’t be afraid to speak to anybody. Keep in mind, it’s being done with other sports, and I see it in Georgia. And basically for us, you either get on the stick or you’re left behind. But nothing gets done without being real aggressive about it. Any questions thus far?
(Question). We, that’s a UGA swim club. Alright. And basically they’re involved in that and, in the manner that they can be at different levels, they get different things sent to them, sweat shirts, that kind of deal, newsletters, everyone gets a newsletter. We do that at least two times a semester. What they do when we come in, that pays for the, we have a, on homecoming weekend, we have a banquet on that Friday night where we honor all the kids in the past performances from the year before, and we’re doing it in front of parents and people. So it’s meaningful. And we have, just like all of you, we probably have an MVP, our hardest worker, we have $2,000.00 plaques that are named after someone in our past history, and because of that some of those people in the past history, have given a good chunk when they see their name on a plaque also. So what we do we have increments. Either a minimal amount is $50.00, and it goes you know, $100.00, $250.00, $2,000.00, and we give certain things back to them because of that. And that’s how we build it, and because of just sheer numbers now we get upwards of between 40 and 50 grand. So does that answer it , your question, or not.
(Question). They pay for, that’s separate, they pay for that in a separate manner. And then the money that they give, donate, that’s for the UGA swim club. So, (another audience comment) absolutely, we use that for awards, equipment, things around the pool because none of us have enough, no matter even if you’re in a pretty big time budget. Bill.
(Question). Tell us a little bit more about your scholarships and how you divvy them out.
Well you’ll know this. I never felt more silly giving a scholarship than I did to a young lady out at Las Skatas, in my life. I was all prepared. I’ll tell you this quick story. When I went out to, there was a young lady on our team this year and she won an NCAA championship, but when I, I was all prepared to offer her full scholarship, and I went out to her house and the gates opened up when I pulled up, there was a Jaguar, a corvette and the house was probably anywhere from 8 to 9,000 square feet. Their wine cellar was bigger than my living room, and here I am offering a full scholarship. I felt a little bit silly, but at the same point in time, you know a promise is a promise, and I didn’t know that before I got there. But anyhow, it worked out well for everyone, but I think after you get to a certain point, you have to address people that they are going to be in line with what’s on the team.
When we’re recruiting right now, if we feel like there’s someone who can come in and score in the three events top NCAA championships, they’re going to be anywhere from 80 or 90 or even close to a 100% scholarship. We never, we try, there are some occasions when we give 100%, but we try not to ever. And some of our very best kids on our team, and you know who some of them would be, could be anywhere from 80 to 85 or 90%. Maybe we don’t give a full meal plan, and then what we do generally, we might give a certain amount for housing during their freshman year and keep that the same as they go through. Right. Anytime. Anytime. And these are the secrets of this game, believe me. These are the little things. You can find 2%, 5%, anywhere that’s going to impact you because you multiply that out, and on a women’s team times 14 or 15 or 18 times, you got yourselves another scholarship and a half to give.
On the men’s side you’re just trying to give any cent possible. We have 9.9 to work with as you well know, and I think so we do a lot, we just try to make sure it’s in line with what we have on the team more than anything else.
Now the obvious question is when do you take it away? And I think that this is something that you really have to talk to yourself about, because this is a part of things and parents are going to ask you about it. I think that it’s important that you let the kids know right up front how it’s going to be. We have swallowed some scholarships in Georgia because of it. I’ve certainly had some kids that have done a mediocre job, but not because of lack of effort. If they bust and they do everything and they follow the program, I never touch a scholarship. And we had a young lady on our team this year that was on about 65% scholarship, and we never touched that, and she never scored one point for us at NCAA championships in four years. But she was a great kid, and I don’t think she ever did anything wrong. I’m not sure I coached her well enough. So we didn’t touch it. If we have a kid that’s missing practice, missing tests, and then they don’t succeed, then we’ll talk about it, and I think it’s important that they realize that there has to be some repercussions that come down. That needs to be addressed right up front, during recruiting with moms and dads and the swimmer sitting right there. So, did I answer your question? But I think as you know, we’re fighting for every penny and you can’t be as successful as you want in a collegiate forum unless you’re really milking that system a little bit. And it behooves us now, thank God to get the smartest kids possible because there are a lot of kids out there who can go to school on a 50 or 60% academic scholarship and that’s pretty darn good. And that should be good enough for some of them too. So right now, I think you got to look for some of the ones that are real smart. We’re not the only ones going through it. Women’s tennis has eight full scholarships. Men’s tennis has 4.5. And like I said, you know what’s gymnastics? Twelve. That’s unbelievable. Four coaches, twelve scholarships. Maybe 12 kids, and they just try to find them. They have everything they want. And I really believe, we need to do a lot more pavement pounding with our college swim coaches association to make sure people are listening to what we need. Any other questions?
(Question). What are some things you’ve learned over the years coaching girls?
I was going to get into that next time, but I think we might be able to start on this then cut to the other part a little bit. Bill was talking yesterday, I sort of got a kick out of that and you know, you need to know a lot more about them. Guys couldn’t care less, but I think the women…I enjoy coaching women. I think it’s a lot of fun. It’s a challenge, and I used to have a hell of a lot more hair when I was 27, but it changes your life, and you’re not sure what the hell you’re going to get from day today. It’s a different kind of ball game. No question about it. And I think you just have to be prepared, every day, that you might have something going on. And, now, I will say this, I think it’s easier to coach the women’s team, and I‘m not sure if this is popular to say or not, but I just know it, alright. I did the women by themselves for four years’ time. It was a heck of a lot easier when I got the men in there to take a little bit of a buffer zone, I think off of just the women. I think they train better, and I don’t think the problems are quite as exaggerated. Because some of them have the tendency to get real exaggerated. And so I think that’s a plus. The negative is maybe it’s not so great for the guys some times. And I think what you have to do within your programs is make sure you get some separations. Times where maybe they’ll just train by themselves, and certainly as we do at Georgia, we make sure we take at least four trips that are just by themselves. The men’s team needs their identity. The women’s team needs their identity, and at the same point in time, we still have to, we’re just strength in numbers too, so we try to be together as much as possible in recruiting and everything else.
I was going to talk to you about on the training side. I’ll discuss that the second time around because there are dramatic differences, and we have to address it every year, and it’s a you know you can’t expect to treat them the same as far as the training and be successful on both sides. No question about it. But it’s real different from day to day. No question. And I think more than anything else, you better have an understanding, know a little bit about them. As Bill was saying yesterday in his talk, and just know a little bit about who they are, and what they’re doing. I don’t like to follow kids around. But I think it’s important that we sit with them and sort of know the things that they like, and you get a chance to know them a little bit better. Another question?
(Question). I’m somewhat amazed that you’re getting swimmers that I never heard of, and all of a sudden I hear of them, which means obviously that you’re getting people that are either doing something when they get to college. How are you identifying them, what sort of persons are you looking for? I know that they are leaders, and they’re good people and so on, but how are you seeing these people that come to your school and so on?
I think that’s been a little bit of the strength of our program in the last 2 years, and I think one thing we look at is how much they’ve been through the wringer before they got there. Christy, for example, as good as she was in high school, she was 1014 and has obviously dropped 2 seconds even in a hundred. She was not trained well. She did, very seldom, did she train twice a day, if at all, actually, even through her senior year. And we try to ear mark some kids that come from good programs, good coaches as leaders, and at a point in time where they’ve been trained well, educated well, but at the same point in time, we feel that there’s still a lot of gas left in the tank. Now, I think so much of it has to do, and particularly in women’s collegiate swimming, what you expect of them and if you get there, when they get there. And I think if you believe, wholeheartedly as Bill was talking about yesterday, there is a real difference in believing it can happen rather than hoping it can happen. And I believe women swimmers can get faster and faster and faster until they’re 26, 27 28. It’s just a matter of discipline. And I think you got to make sure you’re looking at kids that are going to be fit for four years and take care of themselves, and if they have a little bit of vanity involved with it, all the better. You know they might take care of themselves in a whole different manner. But more importantly, we try to go after kids with what we think is some gas left in the tank, but they still come from some pretty darn good programs. I don’t know if that answers your question or not. Any other questions right now? I don’t know how far along we are but I think it might be real wise, what time do we have, Mort? O.K. And we’re supposed to go to? 9:45.
I think we can start a little bit on the coaching part. I’d like to do that now then if we’re a little bit short, do we have the handouts now? O.K. So we can just go on the part that I really like to talk about. I’m not sure what you have sitting in front of you but Mort, if you can put the transparencies on, it would be great.
Let’s start up with the weekly training plan. Actually the season training plan, I stole a little bit of this from a lot of people. The weekly training plan, I can honestly say is recurred, you’ve probably seen this written down about a million times. This is right from John Urbanacheck. I should have put ‘M’ on the front. I took this from John about five years ago. I think I always did something real similar, but he gave me a bit more rhyme and reason to it and, but basically in the fall, this is just last year’s, this is from our championship season. I just figured I’d tell you everything that we gave to the kids and how we set it up.
We’ll have three major competitions, and I think it’s important to stress NCAA championships. That was the one we talked about, that’s the one we cared about the most. Everything else was a stepping stone. And I realize, not everyone is in that situation. We weren’t always in that situation, but even so we always kept, we tried to make sure NCAA championships was a point of focus even if I only took one person or in the case this year, 18. It doesn’t matter. I think if that’s the route you want to take and that’s the only route to take, that’s the way you have to approach it. We usually have invitational meet, whether it’s away, we sort of flip flop each year. One year we’ll stay at home, since we have the new pool. We have that choice now. We used to have to go away for everything. And then we’re, in this case we went to Texas last year in December. There are some very successful teams in the country that shaved and rested that time, and we did some of that about 8 or 9 years ago. And actually I was with Frank Bush. I was one, I actually convinced him it would, I thought we’d be alright. I know they do it every year, and they do it exceptionally well, and are real successful with it. I sort of got away from it a little bit. We might try to get an idea about certain people, and we might try to figure out if some kids might be a little sketchy whether they’re going to make it or not. That might be their second opportunity, that one and conference. But by and large we try to go to that meet and just swim as fast as possible, and they need to realize at that point in time that needs to be the fastest meet of all.
Obviously the southeast conference, we have our SEC championships and those of you who are outside our conference probably some of you know, our conference is crazy at best. We first got in it when I was 27. You can imagine I didn’t say a word at our coaches meeting for almost 10 years. We had Gambel, Randy Reece, Ray Buzzard and then just to make it a little bit more interesting, Sammy Frease came in, and our coaches’ meetings in Birmingham every year were pretty darn interesting to say the least. It was slug fest. We almost had fights at an SEC meeting, and we’ve had them at the conference meet too actually. So it gets pretty wild at the SECs. But we, our athletic director you have to understand where we’re coming from in the southeast conference. We got a little bit of educating to do down there because, they do the conference championships as very big deal. Alright. And football, basketball, and they don’t see swimming as any darn different. And they don’t really understand with that sort of going in there and having a little gas in the tank left for NCAAs. You just have to do it and tell them that’s the best you can do. But still certainly the point of focus is the NCAA championships. I’m just going to leave this with you. This is all stuff that can be read, and we’ll go from there. I think more importantly, you need to know what we do, what we do real consistently. I think more than anything else, everything that we have down and the other and some of the other transparencies are going to come up are things we do, and we do it on a day to day basis.
When we’re in the dryland, we don’t take a day away. We’re supposed to do it on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and we do it even if we’re running late. The biggest, if I have one philosophy, in the part of our program, I think it is this, daily accountability. I like our kids to be tough each day. I like for them to swim something fast each day, and I think if they’re tough on a day to day basis, we’re preparing them for life afterwards because they’re going to have some days when they’re not going to want to do a darn thing. And I think it also prepares them for NCAA championship. If they’re tough on a day to day basis, they’re going to get to a meet, and if they don’t feel good, they’re going to be able to deal with it. If we let them off the hook on a day when they don’t feel real well, or they got too many things going on, I think we’re going to pay the price somewhere down the line. I think they get soft. I wish I had the guts and I’m going to try, I’m going to do this, and all you coaches are probably going to use this as recruiting against me I’m sure. But I’d like to have the guts to completely turn our thing around as far as doing five mornings and three afternoons or four afternoons in a college season. I think we get so much done in the mornings sometimes before their thoughts get in the way of the day. You know when they come in in the afternoons sometimes they get so screwy after what they’ve gone through. Someone said something to somebody or something went wrong in class. Something’s wrong at home. And my pure, my real enjoyment in coaching are the morning practices. It’s one reason I think I enjoy the summer as much or more when we’re doing the club situation because we do reverse it in the summer. But I do like getting a lot more done in the morning. I think they’re ready to do it. And I, before this is all said and done, there’s going to be a couple of years where I’m going to reverse the whole situation just to see. Because I like the mornings anyhow. I’m alert, and by the time 9 or 10 o’clock comes at night I’m about dead. But I think you have about half your team that functions better in the morning and maybe half, I think we give some of the kids, maybe it might even be more I don’t know because I’ve never done it the other way during a school year, but I’m going to do it.
We just go through basically, I don’t want to read this, this is just something we have for a handout so you know what is going on. Let’s look at the weekly plan if you could, and as I said, I’ll just go through this a little bit quickly as we go, and just tell you how we break things up. This is not on there so let me just talk to you about this and then we’ll take our break when we need to. We work out in three distinct groups. I take the main group as I think, as head coach I’d like to have as much to do with as more of the athletes as possible, and I really enjoy that group anyhow.
I’m sure, someone’s probably going to mention this against us, but there’s no way in hell I’m going to do a sprint group. I can’t stand it. I can’t. It’s just a, it’s an important item for collegiate swimming. We would have not been even half-way successful with the men or the women unless our sprint relays had become more successful, but I try to put the best coach we have in our program with our sprinters. I just don’t mix that well. And, but it’s imperative if you don’t. This is one reason I respect, I don’t know if he’s here or not, John Urbanacheck. When they won a championship, he did it on his own terms. I mean that was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. To win an NCAA championship without anyone really swimming, well they had one obviously very talented one, but in the 50 and the 100, and I’m not sure if they even bothered with a sprint relay that year. Did you not even swim it? I mean that was great. I think, well that doesn’t happen, well it never happens. And I sort of feel a little bit the same way, but I’m not as gutsy as John. I think well we’ve had some real good swimmers and real good sprinters, I just don’t like to coach them every day. I like to coach them some, and I think it’s important that you get with them, but I don’t like to coach them every day.
Our main group, the group that I coach on a day-to-day basis, is our 100, and pretty much our 100 and 200 stroke people. And I like the 400 Imers in there, and there’ll be some spattering of 500 freestylers also. I think if you train them correctly they can go up and down. I know a lot of people like I think there’s no excuses, if you’re good in 100 you should be good in a 2, or if you’re good in a 2 you can be good in a 1. And our main group will go three mornings a week only, two mornings will also be lifting. But the 400 Imers, I view the 200 flyers as a whole different group than 200 backstrokers. That’s just a feeling I have. I think that’s more of a distance race. They go four out of five mornings, and then the distance group, obviously with 500 people and 60 & 50 people and generally their third event might be a 400 IM. They have, they come in a little bit earlier on their NCAA guidelines of course. And they go four out of five mornings. I think, it doesn’t really matter what mornings you do, you set it up the way you want.
On the middle distance group, we go Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and on Tuesday I bring the 400 Imers and the 200 flyers, and also, well that’s the group I bring in on that day. Thursday, my morning off, I get up that morning too. That’s my hunting day, so I get up every morning. I don’t mind getting up, but I usually try to find about 2 hours in the woods on Thursdays, so I can just sit and think a little bit and not have to talk. But, so I do 5 out of 5 mornings, one in the woods and four at the pool.
The distance group as I said, that’s a whole different kind of ballgame. But we also try to simulate them into the main group. I think that’s real important. Just so, but there’s a point in time, there is a time where they have to be completely separate. Our sprint group will be with the main group and these are again, my 50 or 100 freestylers, and sometimes we’ll put at least twice a week, some of the people that swim 100 of the strokes and some of the people that break down a little bit easier than others, I’ll put them in the sprint group in the afternoons. They do slightly less yardage, different kind of work, obviously, and on a very rare occasion, we’ll have a couple of athletes do two out of the five mornings only, but they might lift three times. And this year, we’re trying something a little bit different, some of them might be lifting four. The sprint group, they’re with the main group for at least a month and a half. I try to keep them as normal as possible for as long as possible, because I think after they break off, they have a tendency not to do quite as much of the type of work that I like to see them do. So we just try to keep them within the main group as much as we possibly can for as long as we can. And not listen to them complain about it.
Stroke groups, I know will probably surprise you, but I’d just like to tell you what exactly we do. We just have one practice per week that is divided by stroke. Now that’s real, that might be a little misleading, but we’ll have on Wednesdays, we’ll have a day when we come in and breaststrokers will do breaststroke, backstrokers will just do backstroke, butterflyers the same. Now, we during the course of the week, we’ll put it in during the their workouts, but there is just one workout a week where there is just that stroke only. We’ve had some real big success this year, I think. One reason we won the NCAA championships was not just our breaststroke, but also our backstroking group, also we had a good men’s backstroking group too. But these kids, I think it’s good that they get by themselves, and I also think it breeds good competition.
So let me go through this real quickly, and when we come back we can sort of talk about a few other things because it’s specifics as far as training the very best people we have in our program. But on Monday, we pretty much go low aerobic. I’m going to put a yardage count on this if I could. We have a few minutes left? O.K. On I should do this after. I’m sorry, we only have five minutes, it’s going to take me about 15 minutes, because this is the part I really want to talk about the most. So if we can take a break right. Does anyone have any questions right now? Alright. We’ll hit the workouts, and we have work breaststroke and backstroke and our season plans stuff, and we’ll get that done right after the break. Thanks.