What My Parents Did Right by Dod Wales (2000)


Published


Thank you coach Malone for that introduction.  I would like to welcome everybody to Cincinnati, I have no idea how many of you are from the area, or visiting but it is my home town as coach Malone said and it’s great to be back.  I’m real excited to get to speak today about my family.  It’s a wonderful opportunity, it’s a wonderful sport that brings so many good families together and there is so much involved in raising sort of a swimming family so to speak and to get to share my view on that and most importantly to talk about my own parents is a great honor and I really appreciate this opportunity.

 

When you think about swimming parents, you think about car pooling, waking up early, kids always complaining about the time invested, maybe not complain but it’s always the topic, the time invested, the money spent traveling, you know just the time that goes in to letting your kid develop in this great sport.  Those are all things that I think people here understand.  What I want to talk about today is some of the deeper issues.  Some of the issues that personally I didn’t understand, until I had developed and was a little later on in my career and at this point I’m sure I have a lot to learn in not having kids yet and who knows what my future kids will get into, but I like to talk about some of the issues that maybe as coaches or parents, the other side of it what you don’t really see.  Such things as unconditional love and support for your children and sorta helping that build confidence through that support and maybe more importantly, when is the right time to push your child and evenly more importantly when is the right time to not push your child.  These two things are two things that my parents did exceptionally well and sorta what I want to share with you today.

 

So first some background on my parents, as coach Malone talked about in the beginning I come from or to say that I come from a swimming family I think would be an understatement, my Aunt, my mom’s sister was a national and international level swimmer from Toledo, Ohio, she was a Pan American team member and actually retired from the sport just prior to the Olympic trials and was really prime to make a good run I think from what I understand and making the Olympic team and decided that she wanted to take her life in a different direction.  My mom was sort of deeply moved by that, it really effected her to see her younger sister make that decision.  It was hard for my family to understand it at the time, it was hard for my grandparents and my mom’s side of the family to understand it at the time, but, something really wrapped them up in the sport and sort of what the sport can do to you and sorta gave them a different perspective on the sport.

 

My mom also was a senior national level swimmer, competed at senior nationals I believe on a relay, my uncle, my mom’s brother swam at Princeton university where my dad swam so my mom’s side of the family was really wrapped up into the sport.

 

My dad’s side of the family or particularly my dad was even more wrapped into the sport.  He grew up more or less, coaching himself, training himself in Northern Ohio, in Youngstown, Ohio, worked out on his own, not very much but he was extremely talented from everything I understand, went to Princeton university swam Princeton made the Olympic team in 1968 and won the bronze medal in the 100 butterfly at those Olympic games, since then he has pretty much devoted all of his adult life volunteering for United States Swimming and sort of the betterment of the sport.  He was the president of the United States Swimming in the early 80’s sorta the time that I got involved in swimming and was also a member of and continues to be a member of the FINA board, so I really, really grew up in a swimming family, I think that’s what you can sorta what you can take from that.  It was all around us, every member of my family was involved in the sport in the way that I think was pretty unique it was for a love for something they believed in, something that they thought was a good thing, not only for their kids but for their own lives and really dedicated a lot of time and effort, not only to taking my brother and I to practices, to meets what have you, but to helping the sport out through an administrative standpoint.  So that being said it’s pretty obvious that the first question I’m always asked when doing an interview or just talking with anyone involved in the sport is boy your parents must really have pushed you into this.  You come from this big swimming background, you must have really felt a lot of pressure to enter this sport.

 

My answer is always a quick, no,no,no,no, you don’t understand what my family is like, you don’t understand what their stance is, let me tell you about what my family, the view that they take on my brothers and my swimming.  First of all my mom taught be how to swim.  Everyone says well your dad, not only did he push you into swimming but he must have been at the pool with you all the time, you know pushing you in the water, teaching you how to do this, teaching you how to do that, especially since I swim butterfly, that was always, it’s such a surprise to people to hear that my mom was the one who taught me how to swim, my dad had very little to do with it, he would come to the pool when he wasn’t working and goof around with us, but there was never any instructional efforts on his part to make my brother and I better swimmers it was simply we love the water, my mom loved helping us in the water and teaching us how to swim and my dad just took pride in coming and watching my brother goof around and play with each other in the pool.

 

As I went through the sport I started swimming because my friends were swimming, I started, I continued swimming because I was having fun with it and my friends continued to swim, it was something that I happened to have some success at, at a young age in terms of winning local meets or country club races or summer swim league races.  But it wasn’t something really drove me, the winning didn’t drive me I was happy that I was good at it, but I mean I like going after school and spending time with friends at the pool, it was just something that was fun to do, and I think I continued in the sport because it was fun to do and really felt none of that pressure at that early age from my parents.

 

I used to joke around with my mom about — for those of you in the mid west area the Cincinnati Marlins hold meets virtually every month of the year during the winter and we used to go to every meet to swim, sort of the mid west circuit — and I used to always joke with my mom after coming out of one of those meets and maybe I won a couple of races maybe I set a record, whatever happened, you know my mom would say, boy you did such a great job that was really impressive I’m so proud of you, and I would say thanks mom, but I think that was my last swim meet I don’t think that I’m going to do this anymore and you know I was 11-12 years old, I just wanted to see what her reaction was, if she would sort of drop her jaw and say, are you kidding me, you know your so good at this, I want you to do this, I want you, you got so much ahead of you, are you crazy why would you drop this, she would drop her jaw and you could see her sorta hitch, and say well that’s fine, but, what are you going to do next, what’s your next step.

 

At that early age of 11, 12, 13 I realized that my mom doesn’t care if I swim, she doesn’t care what necessarily I do as long as I try hard at it, I’m enjoying it, most importantly having fun with it, learning lessons at that particular thing has to offer, but it didn’t necessarily have to be swimming, it didn’t have to be something that she thought maybe I had a future in, it was something like I said that she wanted me to enjoy and get all the value and what that thing had to offer.  So I think that really helped me at a young age, hearing my mom say that life or death didn’t revolve around swimming, college plans or whatever down the future, high school plans, it didn’t revolve around swimming, that I could do what I wanted to do, as long as I gave it my all.

 

So I continued through the ranks continued enjoying swimming and when I was probably 14 or 15, there was sort of a spell where, I don’t know, I’ve never talked with my dad about this, but there is sort of a spell where I felt like my dad was coming down hard on me, he never pushed me before, I had always been quick to tell people, even at an early age, I realized that my dad wasn’t putting any pressure on me, that he enjoyed watching me swim and enjoyed that I was getting so much out of the sport that he loved so much, but that again, it wasn’t life or death to him whether I did this or not.

 

I remember a couple months span, where I felt like he was really coming down hard on me, where he was, maybe we would go to a meet, maybe my head was getting to big at the time and I wouldn’t try my all to win a race or just play around with someone until the last lap and touch them out or just sort of looking back on a very arrogant thing, things you don’t like to see your kid doing, things that don’t allow your kid to grow and prosper and get everything from the sport that it has to offer, so he would really come down hard on me, saying you have to swim, saying I know that wasn’t as hard as you can swim, you gotta swim harder than that, I don’t want you to bag it and then win it at the end, or whatever I was doing at the time and I remember talking to my mom, separately saying I really feel like dad is putting more pressure on me right now and this is something that I’ve always been so glad that he’s never done, why is he doing this now?  And she told me that there was a time in my career where I was starting to do things where my dad could appreciate what I was doing and saw a brighter future for me down the road, I was freshman year at high school, that sort of time, where college was starting to come up on the horizon, and he really thought that I could maybe follow in his foot steps or get a great education, because swimming could get me in the door of that university, and it was sort of eye opening to me now, my dad all of the sudden was feeling the same way, that I, or was looking at the same things that I wanted to get out of the sport, he was looking long term and whether he had or not in the past, it was coming out in a way that made me uncomfortable, but once I learned about it, was very inspiring to me.

 

To hear my dad who had been an Olympian, who had, had the things, gotten the things out of the sport that I wanted to get out of the sport, at least from a tangible stand point, you know there is an Olympic medal hanging on our wall, you know he had everything to prove that he had been a great swimmer and I had always wanted that, and all of the sudden my dad felt that I was on pace to do those same sort of things, and that, it manifested itself in a way that it made me feel like I was being pressured, but it was just his way of sort of letting me know that what I want is out there and it is up to me if I’m going to get it, but it’s out there and it’s a possibility and it’s up to my determination to obtain that.  I certainly can’t blame him for saying, on a whole other level, I wouldn’t want my son, I don’t think, if I had a son, talking about, or swimming up and down a pool hot dogging it, or swimming in a way that isn’t what the sport was meant to do and that was his way of sort of wrapping that whole, all those ideas into one, that I had a big future in front of me if I wanted it, that showboating and being arrogant and cocky wasn’t a way to get that and I think I talked with my mom about it, and I think that she probably talked to him and after a couple months of that, it never manifested itself again, whether it was me deciding that that’s not the person I wanted to be and working harder and swimming through every race from that point on, or what have you, but it didn’t show up anymore.  And that was sort of a bump in the road for our family in terms of how they treated me and how I responded and sort of their outlook on my swimming, but it was something that we got through, because I think we had some communication in sort of a round about way and me and my mom, and then my mom with my dad, and then he stopped whatever he was doing and I made an effort to stop sort of the things that were making him disappointed.

 

When I was thinking about the most important thing that a parent can do for their kid in terms of their swimming career, I sort of realized after thinking about my experience and it sounded sort of controversial when I came up with it but I’m going to throw it out and that’s parents cannot have bigger dreams than their own kids have.  I’m pretty sure that works for swimming I’d imagine that it works for just about all areas of life, speaking as the kid, like I said I don’t have the experience of being an adult, but I’m pretty sure that parents can’t have bigger dreams than their kids have.  They can supply and I think that they should supply motivation, discipline, however one feels that they need to discipline their kid, that is important in this, and most importantly they can supply a ton of direction.  When I threw this idea out to my dad after thinking about this, I said dad what do you think about the idea that kids can’t have, or parents can’t have bigger dreams then their kids do, and he said you know I think that sounds good, but what do you do with a 10 year old who shows a lot of talent in swimming, and that is where I think you put in as much direction as you can helping your kid realize what’s out there, what the possibilities are, you know the idea of getting an education paid for was always a huge for me, even when I was 11/12 years old, that was always the goal of the sport of swimming, there was no financial rewards in it at the time, you know there is the Olympic games but that was sort of even longer term then college.  You know if I could get my college paid for that would be fantastic, you know.

 

So my parents definitely supplied a lot of direction in what was out there.  Signing me up for the meets, taking me to the meets, saying you know that the whole support factor, there is definitely a lot of direction given towards me and letting me know what is out there in the sport of swimming, the discipline like I said my dad coming out on me for not swimming out on my races, for not giving it my all for making other people maybe look bad, you know he definitely supplied the discipline.

 

Motivation, the way he dealt with that, saying, having my mom tell me that this is the first time that he has really seen the big picture for me, that this is something that I can reach goals that I hadn’t set previously for myself, or obtained the lofty ones that I already had, that was motivation for me, these are my example of how my parents effected me, but those are three things that I think that parents should supply for their kids, the discipline, the motivation and lots of direction, but they can’t have a bigger picture, than what their kid has.  If their kid only wants to get AA standards or make junior nationals and that’s all they want out of the sport, if that’s what their goals are, I really have a hard time believing that the parent should be pushing Olympic trial cuts on them, it has to be something that they want to do, they can say well, you know you got your junior national cut, there is something out there called a senior cut, there is something out there called an Olympic trials cut, there is making the Olympic team, you could win a gold medal, you could be sponsored by apparel companies, you could get a free education out of this, but if a kid doesn’t want that I really feel like you can’t press that on him, and I think that is sort of the jest, that is sort of my message, it is important to show the kid direction and it is important to show the kid what is out there, but you can’t have a bigger idea then the kid is willing to look at.

 

You certainly have a bigger scope and understand everything that is out there, especially as coaches, maximize a talent of your kid, but if the swimmer isn’t willing to put in the effort, then everything, that you draw a line that everything that you’re saying to them becomes to much and you are actually driving them away from the sport, it is no longer fun, these are your goals that your imposing on swimmers these are the parents ideas of what they want their kids to do, the kid has to want that, the swimmer has to want that, and I feel that I was fortunate to come up in a swimming family where I saw everything that was out there at an early age and those were all things that I wanted and those were all things that I was willing to work for and my parents could just come a long for the ride, they could sit back and say, look at him he wants his Olympic trial cuts or look he wants to make the Olympic team and they didn’t have to say, gosh why don’t you try a little harder so you can make the Olympic team, they put it out there I recognized it and I decided what I wanted and they came a long for the ride and I think that’s the important thing.

 

I would like to take questions, it is sort of my favorite, from nutrition things to pre race preparation, motivation, whatever it is I love taking questions, so fire a way.

 

(Inaudible question) I was really blessed with the fact that when I started moving up, I swam with the Anderson Barracudas here in Cincinnati and as I started coming up, I had really good age group coaches, I really don’t know what my parents relationships with my younger coaches were, but I know when I was about to reach the national level group in the Anderson Barracuda program that the coach that was there moved away for another job and my dad was one of the people on a board that helped bring in, the coach that eventually came in and his name was Larry Lyons and the greatest thing about Larry and knowing my dad and my mom, I know that they had a huge part and this decision was that Larry wanted his swimmers to be good people before they were great swimmers and you know that sort of goes along the lines of how my parents, you know with Larry if you said the word I’m pissed off, you did a 500 fly, there was no, I don’t even consider that a cuss word, but he had a very low tolerance for any of that, I mean he really wanted us to be good people and that came first.  Good young adults we were very formidable years of our life, he really cared about the people we were and you know from my situation, I know my dad had a big part in bringing him in and liked sort of his moral fiber and what Larry was made of, so in that sense I think he had a big relationship.

 

My coach at Stanford, Skip Kenny I had the unique, this swimming family is ridiculous, my dad swam for Skip in the early 70’s, my dad swam for the army as opposed to going to Vietnam, and out at Long Beach with Don Gambrel and Skip, it was Skip’s first coaching job and so when I was deciding where to go to college my dad kept saying you know there is this weird thing about Skip that just makes you want to swim better for, swim faster for him, he could say something, stay in and above your lane that really gets you and your willing to put in that much more effort, and that was really sort of the extent of, obviously my dad has a relationship with Skip, he swam for him, he is one of his former swimmers, I think that Skip holds my dad’s opinion very highly, but in terms of that, they weren’t talking everyday about how I was doing, I’m sure they corresponded a little bit, but that wasn’t what that relationship was made of, then again Skip wanted the best for me, he wanted me to be a good young man, before I was a good swimmer, being a good person was definitely the number one priority there.

 

Question, (inaudible):   I’m glad you brought that up that is something that I wanted to discuss briefly, not at all, I’ve realized now at this point of my career that my dad really let me do this on my own.  Another question that people talk about are, you must talk with your dad about swimming all the time, you must, and we really don’t, we really don’t discuss really at all in our family, my dad is an extremely quiet person, very stoic, and if I really pressed him, he kept his experiences to himself.  You know I may say dad what was it like, if I did have a question for him it wasn’t necessarily for my benefit, but more of what I was interested in what his story was when he was swimming.  Dad, yesterday when I was in this race I got this feeling, did you ever have this feeling, not really to help me just to wonder what it was like when he was swimming.  Very rarely, and he might have a different answer, do I remember saying I’ve got a major problem here in terms of my technique, or my training pattern, training regiment, I really need my dad’s help.  First of all my dad spent 10 years doing 20 25’s butterfly on his own and that is all he did, so in terms of training regimen, I don’t think he was the best person to ask, but, you know looking back on it maybe that was a huge untapped resource of information, but I really didn’t feel like that was what I needed, and obviously he didn’t either because he was never telling me, Dod when I was doing this, this is how I approached it, when I was here this is what I did, he really, I sort of like to say he let me go on this ride on my own.  I experienced the ups and downs on my own, of my own doing, got through tough times sort of in my own way and didn’t rely on what he had to offer and that is the biggest thing that I think, I mean his biggest contribution to me, maybe not directly on my swimming, but as me as a person, but letting me go through this on my own.  For that I thank him.  But the topic of swimming at the dinner table was never an issue.  It never came up, and we had four people at the dinner table, my brother by the way swims at Princeton University following in my dad and uncle’s foot steps and I can’t remember anytime talking about actually training or swimming sets or, it just didn’t happen.

 

(Inaudible question) They were very, but that was a tough time, I sort of had some circumstances that maybe weren’t so unique, or were unique to myself in terms of I had a girlfriend who was a year older than me who swam and went to Michigan, and my senior year was the year that Michigan won the national championship and it had been my dream my entire life to go to Stanford, I think a lot of people that are sort of my generation growing up in the middle 80’s and if you were involved in swimming, you know Stanford was winning all those NCAA titles in the mid 80’s — Pablo Morales you heard all these names, it was just a dream, I didn’t know where it was or if they even had a school there, but I wanted to swim for Stanford, it turned out that it was a great all around environment, but as a 10 year old, Skip would send Stanford swimming stuff when we were little kids and I would wear it around and I thought it was really neat, and then all of the sudden the opportunity presented itself to go to Stanford, but I had this girlfriend at Michigan and I had spent probably ten years of my life dreaming about going to Stanford and all of the sudden my girlfriend went to Michigan, and Michigan’s men’s team won the NCAA championship, I mean all of the sudden Michigan seemed like my dream school and my parents I think at that point really wanted me to make the right decision not based on my girlfriend, which you can’t agree with them more, that is definitely the right thing to do, it took a lot of effort and you know going through all the financial plans and scholarship offers and you know I think, I know my mom would say that’s was probably one of the hardest times for her, definitely the hardest time for her dealing with my swimming and dealing with a decision that would effect my swimming, but it worked out that I went to Stanford and there is no way that I would ever change it looking back on it.  It would have been a mistake for me to go to Michigan personally, in terms of, I’m still with that girl by the way, if you can believe that, but it was the right thing to do, to go out to California and go to Stanford and my experience there was something else.

 

Inaudible question:  You’re definitely right.   I mean obviously everyone knows your peers in high school you know have a big say in how you act, one of my high school team mates is sitting out here and I haven’t seen him since high school, but I was in an environment in high school, St. Xavier high school that was known for swimming, my freshman year Joe Hudapole was a senior there and that was 1992 and he made the Olympic team that year, and he set every kind of national record, he was just incredible to be, it was a great experience to be rubbing elbows with someone at that point in my career when it sort of is a major turn when I can decide how far I wanted to reach, and I remember in my eighth grade year when I was still deciding where to go to school I watched Hudapole in the high school sectional meet do a 200 freestyle and as a high schooler he went out in 50 point and came back in 49 and you know he was with everyone and then he won by 25 or whatever, it was amazing and I sat there and said boy I’m going to St. X, not only this guy’s got it all, he’s got all these people on their feet cheering for him, he, that was just, I’ve never seen anything like that, and that definitely rubbed off on me, and knowing Joe and knowing him now and having gotten to know him over the last six years, there is no way that it was his idea to do those sort of things, sort of the collective group at St. X convinced him to toy with people like that and that rubbed off on me, and certainly when I was at St. X that was sort of the mentality, I mean you got a high school all boys team that you know, has won state high school meet X amount of years, there is an arrogance there, that attributes to I think a lot of the success they’ve had, and they are good people, they’re the former St. X assistant coach, is sitting back there and she can attest, I mean it’s a wonderful place, but you got a group of guys in this environment at that age where you know that sort of became the norm, not the norm I don’t want to say the norm, but it rubbed off on me, it was something that I was convinced maybe you can not try until the last lap of this race and you will still win, it didn’t occur to me that it was just peer pressure, just pure and simple, I’m sure the two St. X people in the audience here can attest to the fact that they are good people, but that environment you got some crazy ideas and I’m glad that, that was sort of pushed out of me by my parents, by certainly Skip at Stanford would have none of that, if I was ever thinking about doing it there, I don’t know what the county would be, but, it was a phase that I went through and it was I don’t have enough experience with high schoolers, I mean the only time I was around high schoolers was when I was a high schooler really, so I don’t have enough experience to prevent that from happening in a team, maybe surround a bunch of arrogant guys with some girls that will bring them back down to earth or something, deflate their egos, but I don’t know but I wish I had an answer.

 

It was interesting between sort of an attitude of excellence at St. Xavier and the attitude of excellence at Stanford and what was required to be excellent at the different levels, I think I became a totally different swimmer at Stanford then I did growing up here, and it was just sort of the natural evolution of things, unfortunately I don’t think every swimmer gets a chance to go through and they move from a program that requires or demands, expects excellence in high school and into a program that, you know a college program that you know that these guys are there to get an education and swimming is something they do to fill in the time, and it’s fun to be with a group of guys, that was definitely an interesting evolution, unfortunately not everyone gets to sorta ride that all the way through, it may stop after high school or somewhere in between there and not really realize sort of how hard you have to work how dedicated you need to be, how important it is to swim every race and to learn from every race as opposed to trashing a prelim swim, because it doesn’t take much to make it back to finals, whatever it is there is a big learning experience there that goes on and unfortunately I don’t think people really realize.

 

(Inaudible Question):  Yes,  there is a time, I stayed with, my parents wanted me to join the Cincinnati Marlins when I was making the decision to swim year round I wanted to swim with the Anderson Barracudas because all of my friends were swimming there, I didn’t know anyone on the Marlins, but my parents thought that the Marlins were sort of the team in Cincinnati, they had won all these national titles and put all these people on the Olympic team and I was 8 years old and I wanted to be with my friends.  And I think that they’ll tell you that it would have been a huge mistake had I decided to go swim for the Marlins.  Luckily they gave that decision, that decision was up to me, I made it I went to the Barracudas, I swam there and then right before, after my freshman year in high school, when Joe made the Olympic team and Joe was swimming at the Marlins, and Jack Simon was the coach there, I seen him walking around here today, I thought if I’m going to do what Joe did, if I’m going to reach my potential I need to go where, I need a coach that is going to make me do the work maybe in a higher profile program, Larry is too interested in me not saying that I’m pissed off at that said, I’m gonna go where there is proven success, my parents thought that was a real bad idea at that time, there was definitely a high school idea that I had, go where the glitz and glamour is go swim for the Marlins, have a sort of national persona, it sort of fell through and Joe went on to Stanford, he wasn’t even gonna be there if I went and trained there, it sort of, I thought about it further and decided that I would stay with the Barracudas and continue my career through high school there, swimming in the winters at St. Xavier and the rest of the year with the Barracudas and then since then I haven’t been back to swim in the area since I went to college, but it was, looking back on it, Larry was just such a positive force and who I am today and the person that I try to be and if I had made the decision to move I think that I really would have regretted it..  But I stayed there and then again my friends were there and it was fun and I had success to an extent at that point and maybe moving to the Marlins would have changed, given me more or less, but I decided to stay and sort of continue what I was doing.

 

(Inaudible question):  Both my brother and I enjoy sports sort of up and down the line.  I probably am more of a jock than my brother is in terms of watching sports all the time on T.V. sorta study and sports, watching what great athletes do, how they succeed, we both played some baseball, lots of soccer when we were real little, and my mom sorta pointed out to me that I tended to gravitate toward the individual sports more, because I wanted, I liked having it up to me whether tennis, or golf, you know something that was up to me, I had hard team with dealing in a team atmosphere when I was younger, in terms of maybe getting angry, I may drop just as many balls as the guy playing left field but if he drops one, gosh, why did you do that, I never said that but it was just sort of inside, I think I had trouble relying on others I think when I was young, but growing up and swimming at both St. Xavier and Stanford and realizing that swimming is a team sport if you want to achieve everything you can out of it.  I know Brach Newman is back there and he swam at Auburn and he’d tell you the same thing, in order to win a NCAA championship as a team, you gotta have every guy on the same page going for the same thing, and I think, whatever I lacked in terms of being able to play within a team and understand the benefits of a team at a young age.  The team aspect of swimming became more important.  I played all sorts of different things, I never got into football, or basketball other than just in the neighborhood, but I would try anything once certainly, and I’ve liked most of the things that I’ve gotten into, so I’m a sports nut I guess.

 

(Inaudible question):  Well when I was in high school I sorta came up with the idea that I had aspects of my life that were important to me, school work, and this is neglecting family, I mean obviously family was important but three things that I sorta controlled the time I spent doing, one was swimming one was school work and one was my friends and social life, and there are certainly times where it’s hard to juggle all three of those, I tried to always keep two of them where I wanted and decided one could slack off, not slack off but it was important for me as far as stability in my life to have two of those in check at all times.  During a lot of the year, that meant that my school work and my swimming took priority, but there was certainly a time in every year at the end of the season usually and you can only pray that it happens at the end of a season and not right before a big meet, that social life was important to me and that was something that I was willing to prioritize above my school work or my swimming.  There are times definitely that my school work slacked off there are times when my swimming slacked off in high school, because I wanted to have a social life and I wanted to, I was probably, it was probably their worst nightmare, I got really into the Greatful Dead when I was in high school and would travel all over the mid west as often as I could going to concerts the last couple of years in high school and my parents were great in letting me do that, I think, I don’t know why they did, but it was so important for me to get away from the things that I was doing here to be out with friends, to be doing whatever it was that wasn’t involved with swimming and my school work, and so if I was talking with parents I would say, and again I have no idea it is to be a parent, I mean this is coming from the swimmer or the athlete or the tryout, let me do some things to let off steam, let me do some things, if the season is over in March, you just cross your fingers and hope that April is when they decide to have their fun and not in February, but there is times I think built in to the swimming year, where it is the same in college where the athlete lets off steam, whether it is in the very beginning in the year, training is going really hard because you are getting back in shape and you are trying to set yourself up for a good season, but on the weekends you can still have fun with your friends, or in the spring when you take a two week break or however long your off, to let off some steam then.  One of the huge mistakes that I’ve seen people make is having a good season and getting right back into the pool the next day, you can’t do that, I really feel that it’s so important to regroup, not only socially to be able to go out and hang out with your friends but also if your like me to just sorta think about what just happened during that season, how you can get better, and why maybe you didn’t go as fast as you did, you sort of analyze what just happened and I think you gotta let off steam and you have to ideally be in an environment where your coach and your parents are willing to allow you to let off steam as long as it doesn’t mean throwing rocks at cars or whatever, hopefully it is in a productive way, but letting off steam is important, like I said those three things are what I try to juggle and always try to have two of them under my control.

 

(Inaudible question): I remember when I first started swimming year round going to three workouts a week, and looking back on it that seems ridiculous, to have days in the middle of the week, that seems crazy, but I didn’t start doubles until I started high school in ninth grade and we did I believe 4 mornings a week and two of them were lifting right before school and it was only an hour before school or something like that, I certainly don’t remember them saying you need to go this many, one of the stipulations for me going to Greatful Dead concert when I was in high school was that I had to find a place to train and I was successful sometimes and somehow it slipped other times.  Usually I would go in the summer right in the middle of the season and that never made Larry happy, but my mom’s rule was, alright you need to call, I had started meeting people around the country at different programs and had friends where I could say alright, I’m going to be in town would you mind if I stopped by for a morning workout on this day, and so that sorta O.K’d it with my family that I was doing that, Larry was never happy about it but you know that was the point I was at in my life, that is the only time that I think they put a criteria.  There was like vacation, even coming home from Stanford for Thanksgiving, you know I would wake up in the morning and my mom would definitely say, don’t you thing it would be a good idea if you go swim a little bit, I’m like oh no mom don’t worry about it.  I mean it was some suggestive but never, I never felt like I was doing the wrong thing by not listening to what my mom said about swimming.

 

(Inaudible question):  I don’t know I would have to think about that, I’m sure I could come up with one particular time, certainly the thing that I remember most about him was his desire for us to be good people, that is like I said, that stands out whenever I think of Larry, that is the thing that comes to mind first, he never yelled at us, we could have just an atrocious and he would always talk about the good things first, well your breathing pattern was good, or you really put your head down in the last 15 meter, whatever it is, that always amazed me that there wasn’t, that was definitely, that was the high school age where there was definitely people who swimming has sorta passed them by and who were just doing it because their parents had wanted them to, and whatever it was, and he never got fed up with effort levels or there was always, he was always trying to get the positive out of us, unfortunately off the top of my head I can’t think of one particular moment or time but I’ll try and think of something, I’ll try, I know that there has got to be something in there.

 

(Inaudible question):  The question for those in the back that didn’t hear that, I talked earlier about the change going from high school to college and in particular was there a dramatic shift from the training from high school to college, and without a doubt the biggest change was intensity level.  The college workouts, first of all you only have 20 hours to work a week which I think is a lot less than most club programs do, and you know I thought I was working hard when I was in high school, I thought that there was things that we were doing that was going to really take me to the top and I couldn’t imagine a group working harder, and then getting to college and just the first week of practice I remember cramping up in my hamstrings and I got out of the water to stretch them, and I said that I have a cramp I can’t kick, well he said get back in the water I don’t want to see you out on the deck again, and I said geez this is intense.  And talking with Skip at the end of my career at Stanford, he said you know Dod, I thought you came in a little soft and I wanted to toughen you up and he knew that and he understand that, and I always wondered if that was my dad playing into it or wanting to impress my dad, and making his son this tough great swimmer, I always wondered where that sort of triangle with myself, Skip and my dad, how that worked and how Skip treated me, but it was a real eye opener to come in and have someone say you’re not working hard enough.  Larry never said, there was times when Larry would say, I think you could have done better on that, let’s try and do this next time, to just being said, your not doing what you need to do, and then in college you feel this responsibility because you are on scholarship maybe and this is the coaches job, this is his livelihood, he’s gotta win, you wondered where that line is drawn, having to win, having to perform for the athletic department, or coddling, easy on guys, getting them to do what they want to do, and so all of the sudden I felt pressure to perform.  I certainly didn’t have the freshman year that I wanted to but I learned a lot.  But at the time I don’t think that I realized how much the intensity had changed.  But since then I really realized coming back and working out with the Barracudas over Christmas when I would come home for breaks and wonder where the hard swimming was in the sets.  You know they are going 10,000 but I want to get up and race someone, at Stanford we don’t move this speed except for warmup and then we would do a kick set at Stanford, where it was all out, we would do a main set and then a pull set, and then you would try to achieve race pain as often as you could, more or less.  And you’ve only got maybe two hours in the afternoon and an hour and a half in the morning to achieve race pain as often as you can.  I mean that was sort of, obviously there was some give and take in there, but that was the point of it, and looking back in high school I don’t know if I ever came close to achieving race pain in practice, I thought that I did, I thought that I was working hard, but there is a whole other level out there, it took me being with 30 other guys who had the same goals that I did and were willing to get in my face and say look Wales your not doing what you need to be doing today, I’m beating you on this and you should be beating me or something like that.  You know there is a little bit of that at St. X, and at the Barracudas, but it wasn’t sort of present as it was in college.  And I don’t know if it needs to be, I don’t think it needs to be, I don’t think you need to be riding people in high school the way you do at college, I think there has gotta be a step up that you can’t, I’ve known a couple people like I said, swimming at St. X for them is you know as hard as it got, and they went to college and they sort of did their own thing and wrote their own program, decided when they would come to practices.  I think there needs to be a step up, I’m not saying necessarily lower that high school level so you can make it to college, but in a good college program there has gotta be a step up from even the best high school program in terms of intensity of training and what you expect from your athletes.

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