Ya Gotta Wanna by Sickie Marcikic (2007)


How are you doing? Good – is everybody a Masters coach? Anybody who is not a Masters coach? Because we could always convert you to be a Masters coach. So, as Nort said, I have been at the University of California San Diego for 25 years. That is a pretty long time to be at one spot so either I am getting what I want or I am so lazy that I don’t want to go anywhere else. You never know.

I went to one of the Aussie talks – probably Friday or maybe it was Thursday – and even though it was hard to understand him, he was talking about three things that he needed to run a program 1.Pool 2. Coach & 3. Swimmers. So I figured, okay – let’s work this convention the same way.

When you want to start a program you have to have a pool. When I wanted to give this talk I needed a place to give it – here it is. The second thing is a coach– I am already there so the coach is already present, but now I needed some swimmers and you guys are my swimmers. When swimmers come to your program the very first day, what do you do? Get them all in the water? Anywhere they want to go? Any place? No – you organize them so I am going to organize you guys as if you are my swimmers. The first three rows on either side are coaches who have been in the game 5 years or less – that is where you are going to move to. The next three rows are the coaches who have been working 5-10 years. So, we are putting the rookies up front. If you have been coaching for 5-10 years you are in row 4, 5, and 6. If you have been coaching 10 years or longer, you are going to be in the last 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. So, how many are we going to have up here? Look – everyone is moving. I like this. We have a lot of champions here. Okay – the first three rows – 5 years or under. The next three rows 5-10 and then 10 and above is everyone else. Look at all the experience we have here. I will bet anyone of you could come up here and do this lecture.

Alright, so now you have got your pool, you have got your swimmers – you have taken command of the workout – what do you do next? Do you just get started? No. What is the most important thing you do at a workout? What did you say? Yeah – well thank you for coming, but Holy Toledo – don’t swim with someone you don’t know so turn to the coach next to you and please introduce yourselves – first name only – everybody. Come on – you two over here. There is a guy all by himself. Somebody introduce yourself. Excellent – I start off every workout like that. Welcome to workout – now for 10 seconds – introduce yourself to somebody that you may not know. Say good morning to your swimmers.

The second thing that is important for a coach to remember is how to figure out who they are tomorrow? So, there are a lot of tricks – every coach has a couple. My trick is using their name and you can only use their first name because there are too many letters in their last name – like mine – Marcikic. So, in a conversation you say, “Hi Mary – my name is Sickie” and you use their name three times in a conversation – right on the spot. Now, if it is a swimmer you are going to say, “Hi Mary, how are you? Where did you come from? How long have you been swimming? Mary, what interval can you do a set of ten 100 frees on? Mary – let’s see if we can find a place for you. Now, that name has stuck in my brain and it is engrained. So now, you are going to talk to the people around you for about 10 or 15 seconds about their favorite color – using their name three times so you never forget them – GO – FAVORITE COLOR. Talk to somebody. Bill – talk to that guy behind you. Somebody talk to the guy in the red shirt too. It worked. See how easy that is? I think what we should do at every talk – at every presentation – you should have to sit next to somebody that you do not know and you have to introduce yourself. How many of you went to any talks this weekend? Keep your hand up. How many of you didn’t talk to the person next to you unless you knew them? See what happens? I know there are a lot of coaches here. We all share the same passion – swimming. We are all here for the same reason, but we will sit next to somebody for an hour lecture – maybe an hour and a half – and not even talk to them. I am not going to talk to him – he is right over there. So, the importance of Masters is that. If you walk out of here with nothing else – walk out of here with the fact that it is a family. It is a community that you are going to create in your pool – not necessarily in your image, but you are going to try to take your passion and instill it into them and that is what is important about Masters, I think and that is what we have done with our program. Ya gotta wanna, okay?

Every business has some type of a business statement – a mission statement. I work at the University of California San Diego. They have like twelve paragraphs – bam – bam – bam – bam –bam. The Rec. Department came out with a new one and then a month later they changed it because they left some people out. Well, what the heck man? I have been having the same mission statement for 25 years – it is easy – it is three words – so the goal for me was to try and make it simple – something that would show my passion for the sport and something that I could relate to and then we have it printed on caps and you put it on spatulas and you give them away at places. So, the first word is Ya. Ya could be an answer to a question – ya, I got that right. Ya could be – I am talking to ya’all – ya’all. So in the case of ya gotta wanna, ya is you or me – the coach – the artist – the director – the guy who is making all the directions up front, so it is a direct correlation to you, the coach and what is going on. In terms of a program – there are things that ya gotta do.

I have been talking to Jim Montgomery on and off this week. It is kind of interesting seeing him and he is an administrator – sort of now because your program gets so large, someone has to administrate it all and you don’t get as much time coaching it so there are things you gotta do as a coach – administration wise, but in terms of this mission statement, it has nothing to do with administration – it has everything to do with the swimmers – with you guys out there.

Who runs a really small program – you know – 30 swimmers or less? Do you know everyone’s name? Important – you see them all the time – you have a good rapport with them. Who runs a large program? Jim – Do you know everyone’s name? No? Jim was telling me the other day that there were people who didn’t even know what he looked like until he showed up because he is so busy he cannot attend all of the workouts. So, there is a whole different set of problems, based on the size of your program and where you are and where they are. There are things ya gotta do. If you can meet everybody and know everybody – it is important. We have a program that is swimming, running and triathlon training so we carry a large volume of people – somewhere between 350 and 400. This summer we have had really beautiful water at the beach. Did anyone make it? Oh good because if you didn’t make it you are missing out – 72 degrees – this blue stuff like sky and the sun is out – it is gorgeous. When summer comes here we usually lose a lot of people, but this summer we didn’t. We are still hanging our program right around 380 and that is pretty good. I am spoiled. We have two 50 meter pools – wouldn’t ya love that? And we use both pools at the 6 am workout – things ya gotta do.

Then – there is the “wanna”. You wanna do something that everybody likes. You wanna do something that has to do with swimming and then it is a swim program. You wanna do something that is different. So, everyone has their passion. Everyone has their look. Look – I’ve got this one. Sometimes I wear goofy pants – my socks don’t match – I love Aloha shirts. I was told by Mel that I have to wear a real shirt tonight for the panel discussion so that I fit in. I will do that – that is okay, but there are things that you want to do to still differentiate yourself so I am not going to comb my hair tonight, but I will have on a nice shirt.

It is all about – ya gotta wanna. In every successful program there is a philosophy. The mission statement is the vision, I think, of the coach. Is there anybody here who doesn’t have a philosophy for their program? Not quite sure of the philosophy? You know you want to swim and you want to bring people into the swimming community and you want to have fun, but I am not quite sure how I want to do that. Well, you got a pool. You got the swimmers. You have got to have a reason. You have to have something to formulate and get them excited about. So, “ya gotta wanna” is our statement. It has a purpose. It has a direct and positive message that is very easy to read. It doesn’t take anybody long to figure out its meaning. I’ve got some new swimmers this week who realized I was giving this talk today and they said, “ya gotta wanna” – what is that? I said, it is our mission statement. Ya gotta wanna what? Well if you are a swim coach – my gosh – I don’t know about you – I am up at 5 am – ya gotta wanna do that. I mean – mean you volunteer to do it and maybe you get paid, but ya gotta wanna do it. You are getting in there at the crack of dawn with a bunch of swimmers and sometimes it is cold and you don’t know what you are going to run into on a pool deck. You can’t be halfway on – halfway off – you have got to be all the way on so it is something that you have to live. So, for those of you that do not have the passion – find it. When you are driving around today or you go back home after this clinic and we have had some really great talks – find that little passion – find that seed that is sprouting up in your brain and add some water to it and let it go – cultivate it – just take off. You have nothing to lose here.

So, let’s break it down. “Ya” is you – the coach and the passion. “Gotta” it’s the stuff to make your vision happen. There is a whole list of them and everyone’s list is going to be similar in some respects and some of you are going to be a little bit different. The “wanna’s” are where you have to get involved with all the little things that you want to do. It has gotta be something different and you cannot be afraid of taking a risk or taking a chance and having some people hate it and some people like it. How many times do you run a workout and you have got 50 people in the workout and only six like it, but the next time you do it, you are going to have six more that like it. Well, the reason that the other 44 didn’t like it is they didn’t hear anything – they were talking or they were not paying attention to you, right? Isn’t there an old teacher’s saying that when you tell ten people a new thing and if you get two people that understand it – you are doing well? And that means that eight didn’t and each time you talk about it two more people are going to figure it out. I am telling you, after 25 years – if they are with you for 25 years – they are going to figure it out. Did anyone go to the panel discussion with Jon and Bob and those guys? They got onto this kicking thing and somebody said they do a timed hour kick and the next guy said, “We do a timed 2000 and Bill turned over to me and goes, “are we doing that on Monday”? You can tell when a coach has been to a clinic. They come back – on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and there is all this weird stuff happening and they will know. Everyone knows that I am here and when I come back they are going to go – oh my God – what is he going to bring back? But then he said on Wednesday no one is going to show up because we did the hour kick on Monday and Tuesday with the timed trial for 2000 and no one is going to show up – it’s done – I can quit my program and go to the beach all the time so – you have got to be careful what you do with that.

So, we are going to talk about “Ya” – it is you the coach and the passion. I have a passion for swimming. I have been swimming my whole life – since I was 8 – all the way through college – into Masters. I have had two hip replacements – ouch – still swimming – it doesn’t stop ya – one shoulder – still swimming – it doesn’t stop ya. I still wake up every morning and I am excited about going to workouts. I love the people. I love the interactions. I love the water. Sometimes you get a little tired of it, but you still love it. So, I came up with a little list of who the coach is and this is just a piece of it. Are we educators? What do we educate? Technique – how to use a clock – do we ever do anything about ethics with people? Respect – what is right and what is wrong? We are teaching them a lot of things out here. How about spectator – are we ever spectators? I can watch the longest workout with all my swimmers and be right there with them and never get tired. Do we talk in “we’s” when you are on the pool deck or are you talking “you” when you are handing out a set? Okay – today “you” are going to do this – who says that? Alright, change it – today “we” are going to do this, because you are not leaving the pool deck – you are going to be right there. “We” are going to do this – “we” – I am not leaving.

Another question – now don’t be embarrassed – if you sit down during a workout? DON’T SIT DOWN! They did not come to watch you sit. They came to watch you move. You are – where is it up there? Is there an entertainer up there somewhere? Yeah, I’m telling you. Dancing – oh – there is a section about dancing later. So we are all these people. Who fixes your pace clock? You do, right? You maintain your equipment the best you can. Risk management: you always have to watch out for things. You do not have electric pace clocks out there, right? Because you have the cord – you would kill all your swimmers, but you have other things to do. You have to make sure – that puddle is there when you throw a kickboard at somebody – you’re going to make sure they are looking at you, okay? Risk management. Philosopher: you give words of wisdom all the time to your swimmers. They don’t always listen, but if you keep doing it – eventually one of those words is going to seep through and they are going to hear it. Fashion guru: How many of you are fashion police, like me? You can wear your program’s colors or you can wear something else. What I love about this clinic is the people that are giving the talks – they don’t have a suit and tie on. It is great. They are coming up and they are wearing what they are comfortable in and the people out here are wearing what they are comfortable in and that is the best part of it. You get to wear what you want to wear and you get to kind of promote yourself. Ya gotta love that! How many of you coach a morning workout? 6 am or earlier? 5 am? Ohhh – earlier than 5? I don’t know how you do it. 5 am workout – my God. What time do you have to wake up? That is tough.

I don’t know about you, but using two 50 meter pools – there are a heck of a lot of pace clocks and they all have to be pretty close. It is kind of hard to see this first one, but they are all within a second of each other – that is not bad. And there are probably some on the other side and there are some over here that you can’t see. Wouldn’t it be great if somebody right here could just invent something that coordinates all the clocks at the same time? I know – Colorado has it, for their digital pace clocks and it is not cheap. We want something cheap. We want something cheap and something that works for analog clocks. I have had these clocks – probably since the very day we started the program. They are so old and I have taped up the face and the back and there are so many different battery motors that have been to it, but that is the cool part.

When a bunch of swimmers come on the pool deck – is your pool deck ready to go? Yeah – it is ready to go or you are working on it. The important part is the social aspect of what is going on when they come on that deck. How is your attitude at 5:30? Oh my God – that is early – 5:30. There is a switch that we all have that we turn on and off and it usually happens to me right about the time I put the key in the gate and turn it and unlock it and then I am into a different person now. Now, I am this other person. I could be – like I did – I have been sick the last three days, but as soon as you put the key in the lock or in my case – walked up here – the switch goes on. You become a different person. You are now presenting something – you are now the person – the coach – the MC – the entertainer. The swimmers expect that from you. What is really cool is at the end they are all talking about you – you have been dancing across the pool deck and swimming every morning. Yeah, what are you doing? I’ll dance – oh I go – I don’t dance like that and I say, well I do. And then they will ask you the question – does anyone ask you this question? Is this the way you act at home? Heck no, my wife would kill me. She is already yelling at me for doing a lot of stupid stuff, but I don’t act the same way on a pool deck that I do at home because those are two different people. The guy on the pool deck is different. This is the guy on the pool deck, okay? A little crazy – a little loud – a little outlandish – a little bit more of the personality or the alter ego that we would all like to be.

Does everybody know that we have a biological age and then we have a head age? I don’t think anybody is any older than 18. Most of us are younger than that so if you think in your head that you are more than 18 years old – let’s see it – come on. Good – we are all young at heart. We all want to be this young person and we all feel it. That is what is so weird about old age. As you get older the body starts to fail, but you are going – I don’t feel any different. I feel the same way – up here – that is important stuff, okay? Who is the first person your swimmers see each morning? Well okay – they may see the dog – nobody’s wife is going to get up and make them coffee. The kids are sleeping. They may run into somebody in traffic. They may see someone in the parking lot while they are walking over, but they are just going to grumble with them. It is going to be you. It is not the member of the family – that’s for sure and this is the face that you want to see – right there, because when they came on the pool deck they had just had this beautiful night’s sleep or they stayed up all night long and all of a sudden – they came there for a reason – they want a change in their atmosphere. They want a change in what is going on in their life and that change happens instantly – BAM – the second they walk on the pool deck and you feed them – feed them this information – right away – because that is what is exciting about it. That gets them sparked and at the same time you are kind of sparked – you are going yeah – I like this. This is good.

Alright – test – who can we choose? I am going to choose somebody that I don’t know. White shirt – what is his name? Is it? Oh good job – excellent. Let’s try someone else – blue shirt – says swimmer. Name the swimmer – the coaches on each side of you. Oh, well we know Chris. Did you meet the coaches over here? That’s okay, but you see – look – I just pulled it out of nowhere and didn’t tell you that you were going to be tested. Let’s test someone on this side the room here – red shirt – you are all by yourself – who did you meet? Look at that – in about 10 or 15 seconds we have made new friends and you have remembered the names so don’t forget that stuff okay? What kind of message do you want to send to your swimmers when they first see you? Everyone knows that – you can only give one first impression. A coach can give a first impression every day, right? Every time your swimmers come on the pool deck. That is the first impression they are going to get of you, right there. You may know them. I mean – I have got swimmers that have been with me for 25 – 26 – 27 – 28 years, but you are still going to see them fresh each day and that is what is cool because as you grow up together – they change and you change, but everyday – it is just a brand new day – good to see you. I look – hey look what happened to your hair – my God – how did you do in that swim meet? Something is new. Something is always different. So, first impressions from a coach’s standpoint are tremendously important. You might have even heard of a reputation of a coach somewhere and you go, God – I can hardly wait to meet this person and when you get there you are kind of thinking – gee – is this it? This is what I get? It’s not what I thought. Okay, so sometimes a reputation and the first impression don’t match up. You have got to be careful what you do there. You want to be able to match it up. How do you rise to the occasion for every workout? Once again – we talked about the switch that you put on. Every coach has a switch – everyone needs to be able to use the switch. First, you have got to find out where it is and then you have got to realize – did I plug it in today or not? But it should happen coincidentally, when you walk on that pool deck. If you turn on the switch in the car – you may use up some of the energy. You gotta wait until you get there. Wait until you get to the pool – wait until you are ready to go and then you switch it on.

We live in San Diego – we have to talk a little bit about morning surf sessions, okay? It is all about that. Does anybody here surf? Isn’t it a great sport? It is the sport of Kings, you know and coaches. Everyone loves it. Okay – yeah – what is our job anyway? Am I a swimming coach or not? Well, we had a whole list of things that we are – we are mentors – we are coaches – we are dictators – we are philanthropists – we are philosophers – we are all that stuff, but you know – basically – we are teachers. Steve did a great presentation on it– we are teachers – and he is teaching kids. We are teaching kids too, only they don’t look like kids, but they are – up here and they will use and I am going to use a lot of the stuff that I learned from his lecture because it was cool stuff – like the mannequin head over the lane on a pole – that is cool stuff – scaring the hell out of your swimmers? That is so great – I can hardly wait to go back and do this and they are going to say right away – ah Sickie has been at a clinic. He’s got a mannequin on a stick – okay? So even though he is using this for 6 year olds – I am going to use it for 60 year olds and you guys can use all these same gimmicks. That is the cool stuff about the talks that we have been hearing here. They are talking about the 200 freestyle world record swimmers, but you are getting applications to all the swimmers all the way across the board that you can use – no matter who they are or how old they are. Listen to all the stuff and hopefully you will get little ideas about what you want to do with your program. As I am talking to you, jot down a few ideas and then you go to bed tonight and tomorrow morning you will wake up and you will go – what did I mean by that? What is that? So you have to put yourself in the mindset and go okay – this could be working well.

What do we provide? You can’t cover it up. We provide a service. We are in the service industry. We give people what they want – what they need. I think what they need is fitness and we give them what we want them to have – it is all about us – isn’t that great?

I work at a University so things are different in a University setting and people come in there all the time and they say “Well, how is it working here at the University of California?” Well, it’s good if you just stay out of the way. You do not want to be noticed too much by the administrators because as soon as they notice you they want to say, what’s going on over here? What are you doing over here? I didn’t know you had two pools – I thought you only had one – hell – there was an empty one there and I figured I would start using it so what the heck? So, we share the pools with everybody. We share with intercollegiate athletic men’s and women’s swim team – what is that game with the ball and the net – ahhh – OH! Water polo! – There we go! There are also the running aerobic people and we have a huge lap swim program that happens all the time so we do have multiple use programs in our facilities, but we still provide service of what we want to do.

I like to walk around and see who I can steal from the conditioning classes and who I can steal from lap swimming – I see somebody lap swimming and I go, God – what are you doing? He says, “Well I haven’t swum for while – I used to swim.” And he is just you know banging out these hundreds on a minute – those are the guys we want and unlike Rick who is open 369 days of the year – I work at a University and we close down on holidays so we will take Labor Day off – we will even take Christmas off – I don’t think he does, so when we do have a special workout and we don’t listen to what the University tells us to do and we get people who didn’t read the signs from lap swim and they want to come in and lap swim – I say – “There is no lap swim, but I have a Masters workout…” and you can pick up people right there. Oh I don’t know what – oh it just sounds too hard – it is intimidating – no – no – it isn’t. So now you are providing a service to this new person – all of a sudden you are saying – come on in – let me show you – ya gotta feel like the wolf you know?

So, yeah it is you – it is the coach – it is the passion. So we are back talking about “Ya” – what makes you you – you the coach – you the passion. Ya gotta look inside and see what is in here that makes you passionate about swimming? What makes you passionate about providing a service to these athletes? Why do you want to wake up at 5 am and do this? There is no good reason. We do not get paid very well. Sometimes the hours are terrible and there are people who are really pissed off at you, right? Okay, there has gotta be another reason – what is it? It could be the fact that you started and you tried another job once and you didn’t like it. I worked two hours at a real job – didn’t like it – ended up coaching. I didn’t last two hours in a suit. I was a marketing advertising major in college – I lasted two hours and that was it and I never did it again. Actually, I think my passion is swimming – so maybe that is why you are a coach. You were drawn to the side that has the least amount of resistance. There is nothing wrong with that – nothing wrong at all. How do you show your passion, okay? Coaches can write a great workout. You can copy a great workout. You can borrow a great workout or you can make up your own. You can invent something that you do not think anyone else has done and then you put it together and you see if they do it. Maybe one person will like it – maybe not – you never know, but the goal is to try something new – do something new – offer something that is different and see if that works. And if that doesn’t work – you gotta do –that thing with the smoke and mirrors… I am going to hand you this, but I am going to do this over here while you’re not looking, okay?

I don’t know about you guys – how do you get around your pool deck? I ride a scooter. I have an electric scooter. I zoom around. If I send someone off at one end to do something – I zoom around to the other end and when they get there I am already there. Before the electric scooter I had a bicycle. I have had all kinds of stuff on the pool deck. The maintenance people hate me. There are little black marks from me going around the corners, but it is cool because I can actually give a correction at one end of the pool and I can zoom to the other side and be there when they get there and they go oh – how did you get here? Scooter – Doesn’t everyone have a scooter? So – that is part of my passion – I get to play in between the coach stuff – that is your goal – how do you show it?

What does your reflection look like when looking at your program? You are the program. Look at yourself right now – just look at yourself. Close your eyes and look at yourself. You are the program – do you see what you want to offer? Are you offering what you think you see as you? There is the question okay? How do I like it? Do I like this? Do I like competition and do I like to swim – did I like the ocean – gosh – I kind of do – maybe I can do something like that and you offer that passion in a variety of ways because we have so many different abilities of swimmers to work with. So – find that passion. It is in there. You are sitting in it or maybe you are sitting on it? That could be it. Okay?

How do you let your personality shine through in your coaching style? There are many styles of coaching. There is the person who comes up and he is very serious – okay – “We are going to do ten 100 frees – going to do them on a 1:30 – I want you to descend 1-5 and 6-10 – ready go.” Then there is the guy or gal who comes up there and says “I do not know what we are doing, but we are going to have fun doing it. We are going to try 10 of these things here” – and I had a guy that was tired of yardage so he said, “I want to do back and forths” – okay? So we are in a long course pool – we are not going 100’s – we are going to do back and forths so I said alright – we will do that – “we are going to go ten back and forths” and everyone is kind of going what? – What is a back and forth? Hundreds – we are going to go back and forth. Then they realized – no – that’s not back – this is back and then there is the debate in all the lanes of is back and forth or is this forth and back? Is this down and back? Is this up and back? And then the conversation was just cool and then what you do is now you sit with this group of people who came there for a workout and now you are talking about crap. And you are just talking about a little trivial thing about well, what do you think that is?

Like I had trouble with my cell phone the other day and I didn’t know what it stood for – what does SIM stand for in SIM card? Everybody goes, huh? Nobody knew. So every lane that I went to – I would hand out the set and I would go – before we start – what is SIM card? What does SIM stand for and one guy goes? And then of course all the college kids I’ll Google it when home. No – nobody in three workouts and I am talking about 160 people – nobody knew what SIM card was, however, this was the topic of debate in every lane for that workout and when everyone walked off I got like 6 emails in about a half hour about what a SIM card was so you know – the cool part about your personality is there are trivial moments in life that happen all the time and you don’t want to let them go by because swimming is more important- NO– swimming is not more important. What is important is the community relationship you make with your swimmers to create that family that brings you guys closer together. Who cares about swimming? You can swim tomorrow, but are you going to gloss over that moment where you could have trivialized this little conversation you know? And say hey – what about that SIM card crap, right? And it can be talking about anything and you can overhear something and you want to talk about what they were talking about.

So, “Ya” is you – watch this – this is what happened next – we build pancakes. We don’t make them – we build them and we hope that swimmers eat them and we put everything on them that we can or in them. We do a toy drive for the San Diego homeless kids at Christmas time. We have gotten up to like 500 toys at one of these drives. Here it is – here is the proudest moment of my life – look at that – isn’t that cool? Part of my personality is my alter ego – “Webby Claus”. Webby Claus has been around since 1973. He is a fictitious character that comes up from the bowels of the earth and every Christmas time he comes out with shaving cream on his face, hugs and smooches all the people he can as well as squirts people with squirt guns. That is Webby Claus. We do a little Christmas thing – sorry – holiday thing at the holiday time where we have a workout and then Webby Claus comes by and it is really kind of funny. Everybody knows what to expect while we are hanging around eating donuts and stuff and there is a pile of presents and then Webby Claus comes in – Ho – Ho – Ho, squirting everybody with squirt guns – it is really funny. Alter ego – that is one of them. Every once in a while I will show up on deck in a real uniform – anyone ever dress up on Halloween? For your swimmers? On deck? You have gotta do it because you got carte blanche to do whatever you want on that day. No one is going to say – oh God you are so – you can’t do that – even your boss – if you have a boss – even your boss would buy into that – it’s Halloween – I gotta do this. Anything goes – well, most of the time I dress up like a woman. I didn’t put that on here, but anything goes okay?
So “ya” – it is about you – it is the coach – it is the passion. You have it. If you haven’t tapped into it – ya gotta look and see where it is and ya gotta find out how to make it happen okay? What is that? What do I have? What is that unique thing about me that makes me – me?

“GOTTA” – it is about the stuff. We got stuff to do, okay? Ya gotta do the stuff to make your vision happen. It starts off with identifying your program. You go into rewarding your participants and then you show them attention daily. So in terms of identifying your program – I see a lot of people here who do that already and have your program on your shirt or on the back of your thing or a little bag or little hats – so the goal is – have this available for your participants and you don’t give this stuff away. Ya know – you charge top dollar because this is really important stuff and no one else has it. It is like on E-Bay – go in to sell this stuff and you got the only one out there. Okay? So, what do we have? Shirts – these are all shirts. You know – shirts are the normal thing and I don’t know – there are sweat shirts – there are jackets – there are hats you know, so that is the kind of swag you are going to have for that, but this is the good stuff. Reward your participants.

Everyone pays dues for our program and I like to give back every year to our participants so who here gives a gift to your swimmers every year? From you? From the program – yeah. It is important. Yes, it might take some income out of your pot a little bit, but the rewards are so great because it is going to help them feel that they are part of your program because you are giving something back to them. It is not much – we got the can cozies – we got a deck of cards – we got a water bottle – we got a stabber – I brought some of these in – it is actually a letter opener, but it looks like a stabber. We have a little pen knife. We have a spatula that we give away – only at the pancake breakfast so there is a little goodie that everybody would get every year – regardless of who you are – what you are or what you brought to the program because we want to give back and I do this – I hand these out to all the swimmers – one at a time as they come in. Thank you for participating in our program. It has been great with you here. We would love to see more of you – thank you very much. Here, here is this 50 cent thing and they go – “Oh – cool – I got this 50 cent thing – yeah.” I got some stuff here – you know – it is just a little teeny way to get them excited about stuff. Now look at this – it is so small you won’t be able to see it. It is a sunglass holder that you clip to your visor of your car. They were so happy to get this. They were so happy to get this or a little stress ball and what is cool about the stress balls is you can throw it out and whoever caught it – gets to keep it and we didn’t hurt anybody when we did that, so reward your participants – not only with you and what you have to offer – reward them with some stuff, but don’t pay a lot of money for it.

Next, you have got to show them attention daily. We may have a workout except let’s see – is today a standard day? – I didn’t go to workout on Saturday. I was at workout on Friday morning – we had 65 people in one pool and about 45 in the other. Everybody in that pool saw me and talked to me about something. It is hard. I mean – you may not talk about swimming. You may talk about hey – how are your kids? Hey – how is your wife doing? How is the business? What’s going on? How are you going to do it? What’s going on in the rough water swim? I have got 95 people doing the La Jolla Rough Water swim tomorrow. Am I going? No – I coach Masters. I don’t have to go. I am going to be with my wife – my third wife – I am going to be with – actually it is my second wife, but you know – I went through the age group stuff and that is why I have a second wife because I didn’t want to commit my life to swimming. It is too hard so Masters was the perfect place to go – so I love it, but you still have to show them attention, but as soon as they walk out the door – hey – I am done. I am outta here. But give them 100% – give them 110% – give them 120%. Don’t let anybody walk out of your program on any workout day that you haven’t talked to – either coming – during – or going. Even if they are going you go “Hey – see ya later Mo – thanks for swimming.” Even if it is that much. I had a gal come in on Thursday – I haven’t seen her for maybe six weeks – she walked in – late – we started workout at 6 – she walked in at quarter to 7 – Colleen – Colleen – how are you doing? Are you okay? Oh yeah – gosh – good to see you. I got an email from her that morning and she says – “God – I thought I would be in trouble. You hadn’t seen me for six weeks and then I come in 45 minutes late and you are still happy to see me?” Oh man – I just bought somebody for life right there – just being nice – being friendly towards them. Show them attention daily, okay?

Three of my favorite sayings – “Dance like nobody is watching” – it is entertainment for everybody – right? We all do it – well, maybe we don’t all do it, but when you are at home and the music – a good song comes on and no one is looking – no one is around – in front of the mirror – see how cool you look. You can do it. Now try to do that in front of your program. Do it. We have a radio that runs you know and everyone is swimming and I will just – sometimes I will just break out in a dance on the side of the pool – I don’t know who is watching, but it doesn’t matter because I don’t think anybody is. “Love like you only have one day” – it is a passion you transmit through you. Something every day – bam – put it out there – don’t hold it back. We are only on this earth for a very short time. “Learn the way of the willow tree.” Bend with the wind and be strong. I love that one. So, this picture was taken at our Awards Banquet last year – this past year. Tom thought it would be crazy. This guy did the English Channel last year and the Strait of Gibraltar. He did a great job and he got one of the awards, but it is important that he didn’t feel like he couldn’t wear this at our banquet because there are no real standards. Well – the standard was Aloha wear and that is pretty Aloha – okay? So it doesn’t matter. Come in – participate and if you get an idea – go ahead and do it because he got a lot of popularity here – a lot of people liked the way he looked. Entertainment for everyone. This guy was so happy that he got this award that he gave me a kiss. Love like you only have one day. If you see somebody every single day and you go God – it is the same people – it is the same 20 people at every workout – it doesn’t matter. Something could happen that day and you won’t see them tomorrow so don’t leave any opportunity to give somebody some good graces or give them a little appreciation or a thank you or a pat on the back – don’t let that go by – grab it – get it. Learn the way of the willow tree – bend with the wind and be strong – I know it is not a willow tree – I couldn’t find one, but this is a plumaria in my backyard and they are so much cooler than willow trees and smell so good. My wife has a philosophy too – It is “everything in moderation is okay” and I kind of like that too. It is not a bad way to go because if you always have boundaries that means that you are not willing to go around and you don’t get those other opportunities on the extremes – then you kind of run this narrow road where you are just going up and down the middle of this room and you never get to use the sides so you don’t get to see who is out there and what is out there so – don’t be afraid to move around, okay?

You gotta know how to work the deck. You gotta know how to work the crowd. The deck is our stage. It is where we do our thing. It is what we command. It is what we know best. We are not so good at sitting down, boy, but give me a deck – whooooo – I can work it. Inside the pool there is a crowd – whoa – hey – swimmers – back and forth – okay – I can work the deck. Now I gotta work the crowd. How are you when everybody comes up to the wall – do you step back? Or do you walk towards them. If you step back because they need to hear you that is okay, but if you step back because there are too many of them, then you are in trouble. Because there are always more of them than us – so step towards them. Even though I have these bad hips and they are better now – I try to kneel down and get right next to the lane when I talk to people because it is better communication. You can go eye to eye with them. They can see you – you can see them – good stuff. So – work the deck – whether it is stroke work– whether it is another opportunity to put on something goofy. Somebody gave me a yardstick at the end of the fall quarter and it said, “Sickie Rules” on it and I use it all the time. I love to have something in my hands – see – I got a pen here – I love to have something in my hands that I can use to get people’s attention or to point at stuff or bang it on the wall or fish out a pull buoy and toss it at them – gimmicks – you gotta have something – it doesn’t matter, okay? Ya gotta be able to work the crowd. So many abilities – Rick was talking earlier – there are people there that might know more than you about swimming – there are people that do not know anything about swimming, but you have to work that range of crowd into your group. You have to be willing to take them on and not let them go – I know more than this guy. You have got to show them that you are in command. You are the boss – work the crowd, okay?

In all of my coach’s meetings we have a topic of conversation that is different every month and everyone has to talk about it. One of the coaches said, “You know the workouts that we put on are a lot like a (theatrical) performance”. I said, what do you mean? So I stole this idea from her. You are the producer of a great performance – it is your program – your workouts – your swimmers are your environment – all the white stuff is the same. You are the director of a great performance. You direct everything out there, right? 1:30’s over there – 2:15’s over there – give me a pull out – give me a pushup – whatever you want. You are the lead act of a great performance. Everyone is looking at you. Don’t mess up – well, you can mess up a little bit, but you are the actor. You are the guy. You are the gal. You make everything happen. Nothing in the workout happens until you decide to let it happen, right? You say, “Let’s get in and warm-up – you got ten minutes.” If you didn’t do anything would they stop? Some people would. I got a guy that stops and he goes #$#$%^&*, because I use a siren to stop everybody and he uses this – he goes, it’s time isn’t it? And I said, okay? Sometimes they know – they knew the routine better than you do. You are the coach. You are the program – lead it. Do not let it lead itself. If you let it lead itself, it could end up going in a direction you didn’t mean for it to go.

Those are the “gotta’s.” Now we do the “wanna’” – we wanna wanna. The wannas are the little things that we all get involved with, okay? This is what makes your program unique to you. There are so many of them we can only touch base on a few of them, but as we go through these, if you get any ideas – jot them down – because this is going to work for you. Gottas and wannas, okay? You gotta be willing to do anything to accomplish the task at hand and I am thinking – anything that is legal. Anything that is legal. Ya gotta be willing to do it. Start off at the top of the list. You gotta respect the people you work with – everyone is the same – the coaches, the swimmers – I don’t get many parents very often, but I get other coaches in other programs and other swimmers and other athletes in other programs – everyone commands and should get the same respect from you. Nobody should be any different. Important stuff. Offer a serious program. We offer a serious program. Everyone gets challenged in the same way. Everyone is trained – interval training – it’s competitive swimming, but not everybody is a competitive swimmer. Most of our swimmers are fitness-oriented. Everyone gets the same program so I am a little different with the people on 2:30 and 3 minutes than I am on the people that are swimming 100’s on the 1:10. These guys could care less if they see me. These guys need to see me all the time, okay? So, we got a program that everyone can fit into. It is serious, but there are different degrees of seriousness and it changes as you get to a different part of the pool and it should be that way. There is one lane that we spend most of the time talking – nothing wrong with that. They came here to socialize. It is part of the workout and if I can give them a two or three minute opportunity to talk and they are happy and then they swim a hundred and leave – fine. They are paying the same amount -nothing wrong with that okay? Give out good information. From this clinic you are all going to go home with great information about stuff. It is going to add to your repertoire. You are going to have new tools to work with and then when you get down there you are going to individualize these tools to each swimmer. What you are going to say to the sprinter that is coming back off of an injury to his shoulder is going to be totally different than a mom of four who just had her fifth? Everything is going to be individualized and that is what is important – to make sure when you hand out information that you are getting the right message across to the right person at the right time.

Don’t get carried away with yourself – we are not that important. Be a leader. Give the lead away. I’ll bet right now I could step off here and call any of you up here and you could finish this talk. The one thing a head coach has trouble doing is giving up control. You gotta be willing to do that when your program gets so large you can’t be everywhere, so the goal is – while you guys are here – who is running your workouts? You gave it to somebody I hope. So you gotta be willing to take command of what is going on, but you also gotta be willing to let somebody else do the work too. You have gotta trust them. Trust them to do their stuff. Be a leader – be strong and assertive and know when and how. There is a good opportunity in a lane to show that you are assertive and you control the workout when people are starting to throw fists at each other. Anyone have a fist-fight in their workout? Yeah, we all have. That is when you are strong and assertive. You don’t need to be strong and assertive with the lane that looks like it is cooperating and doing okay. You don’t want to come over there and go HEY – WHAT’S GOING ON – WHY ARE YOU GUYS DOING THIS? Let’s mess up – come on. So, you gotta know when to step in – you have got to watch your lanes – you have got to hope that you can help out and you want to keep the blood to a minimum. You want to be quiet and gentle and use the silent treatment. Anyone ever use the silent treatment on a swimmer? Somebody who kind of pisses you off a little bit so it is easier just to kind of do-do-do-do – I’m gonna walk over here and you cool down and then you come back around and start talking to them or maybe just avoid them the whole workout and as they are walking out you say, “you know what? We need to talk a little bit.” So don’t be afraid to put somebody off in a corner. You are not really doing it, but you are doing it in your mind and walk away and get control of the situation and then come back and see what is going on – important stuff.

Show love for the sport – show love for the sport – there is nothing more important than swimming. In the entire world – there is nothing more important than swimming. I have a lot of tri-athletes and they do butterfly – they have to do backstroke – they have to do breaststroke – hey – it’s swimming and they say – “Why do I have to do this?” and I say well, when you go for a bike ride do you always ride the same path? Oh, no – so in swimming we don’t always swim the same way. We do backstroke. We do breaststroke. We cross-train in the pool because it is going to help you and it is great – it is swimming. Show the good stuff – you gotta know what the good stuff is. What is the good stuff? The good stuff is anything you make it. Anything that has the word swimming in front of it or behind it – anything that is fun and enthusiastic will help build them into what you think they want to be. We don’t know that. Our goal with our job is we are supposed to teach them to love what we told them to do. Okay? You are going to love this – okay. I’ll try that. I will love it. You never know and then you have got to be you the coach – don’t get lost and want you to be you the person. The coach has a different hat. The person has a different hat and there should be some cross-over there and you should be willing to kind of project both of those people at the same time so everyone gets to see it. Don’t just be this (one) guy. Be this guy and this guy – don’t be this person over here – try to meld yourself. There is more to you than you think. So some of the things that I want to do are different. There is a pancake breakfast – we put – this looks like chocolate chips – but we put whatever you bring in inside the pancakes – anchovies – sardines – salad – oatmeal – whatever you bring – we chop it up and we put it inside and we serve it to you and then we watch you try to eat it – it is cool. Somebody will be “Oh look at this big fat pancake!” – They didn’t realize that there was like a fish in there. Most of the time we cook it all the way through – not always.

Videotape sessions – how many people here do videotape? Alright – we can’t do videotape every day, but I offer this on the side for an extra fee, but it is another opportunity for people to see what they are doing because you can’t beat what you see. I can tell you that you are doing something wrong and you are going to be “I am not” – well – let me show you. It does work. I don’t have it here – I should have brought it – there is a little thing called a flip video – has anyone seen those? They are about this big – they cost 80 bucks – you get a 20 minute video thing that you can replay over and over again or delete and you can only do above water, but you can take it to the pool deck and I am going to start using it more to show people what they are doing when they don’t believe you. And then I got a piece of downspout for a drain off your roof that I cut and I put it over where the screen is and you can show it. It goes down to the swimmer he can look up and he can see this screen without the sun getting in the way and you go – this is what I see. This is what you need to do to change it. Easy to do it – it is not expensive.

Cinco de Mayo – we live just above Mexico here. Cinco de Mayo is a celebration about Cinco de Mayo. Anyone know what day that is? May 5, yeah. We celebrate with bagpipes. This guy came in – he is Scottish – he comes in and walks around the pool playing bagpipes for about 20 minutes between the workouts while everyone else gets to feast on all the other stuff. Something different. It is a tradition. Another tradition is this – we do a cove swim from La Jolla Cove to Scripp’s Pier. This year it is our 27th year. When we first started to do this – nobody else had done it because the pier looks so far away. It was. It was a mile and a half away, but we started with a handful of people and then every year we would do it and as you can see – it has gotten bigger and bigger every year. There is no entry fee. There are no paddlers – there is no organization at all – other than what I give them and I sell a t-shirt for $10. – the same price every year for 27 years. It is fun. It is an opportunity to feel like you did something that day. Good opportunity here in San Diego, okay? The bottom line here is to find the passion that defines you and use it to define your program. We have seen the word passion – we have heard the word passion in so many talks here – that is you guys – you have it okay? Make that your philosophy and your program will have great opportunities. I like to use the word opportunities. I also love the word success, but I didn’t want to fit it in here because everyone talks about success. Be creative and spontaneous each day at workouts. Never let them see what is coming. Anyone ever change a workout on the spot? Yeah – isn’t it cool how you come up with a better idea and then you are going – ahhh – I don’t think I want to offer this. I think I will do this and you go all of a sudden there is this great set and they are going – yeah I loved it – it was beautiful. You just made it up on the spot, but you can’t tell them – it’s our secret. Don’t tell them that.

So, ya gotta wanna love what you do. Midnight Madness – two weeks ago I said let’s do something different to the Associate Director of Aquatics there and we had a workout from 10:30 to midnight on a Saturday night. Cancelled the morning workout on Saturday and Sunday and we met there. We had surfboard races. We had little inflatable bumper boats to the right that took us all night to blow up and race, but we had 45 people – coaches and swimmers attended – we made smoothies afterwards – it was just a ball and the coolest thing and the clock – it’s 10 to 11 – how many of you guys can stay up that late? But it has become our tradition – once a year. Fun stuff. It was really fun. Okay? So, ya gotta wanna know what you want to do. Ya gotta know when you want to do it. Ya gotta know that things change. Ya gotta make the easy and the hard changes because they come every day. Ya gotta be willing to entertain them. Don’t be afraid to go out there and make a fool of yourself. Ya gotta wanna be crazy serious. Ya gotta wanna use your tricks daily. Of course – ya gotta know some tricks. Ya can’t use them if ya don’t know them. You wanna be willing to sacrifice – a little bit. Don’t sacrifice your whole life. We do a swimmer of the week award. We hand out a little tiny trophy and it morphs into this. If you look inside the shark you will see a little trophy there and it morphs and what we do is after a year we hand them out at our banquet. This is the awards table for our banquet. There are probably 35 awards there. We have 14 perpetual ones that are named after athletes who have passed away in our program that we keep passing out and then we have all these other ones so we have a lot of recognition opportunities there.

Finally – plain and simple – ya gotta wanna listen – listen to your swimmers to what they say and don’t say. The quiet ones say a lot too. A lot of people are a little introverted – they won’t say anything. For laughter or for tears and everything in between, our swimmers talk with their allegiance – what is the word allegiance? It is the dollar sign you guys – they pay for our program – that is how they show us that they are going to stay there. So when you see people in your program year after year or month after month or quarter after quarter – those are the ones. Those are the important people and after 25 years we figured we have to do something that they would remember. So my wife said – you are going to make a bobble-head of yourself. So this year we handed out bobble-heads (of me) as our gift to everybody and this was not a cheap thing, but the recreation director thought it was really funny so tonight I will be bringing one and we will find some way to get rid of it if you come to the – maybe I’ll bring two. If you come to the panel discussion tonight – maybe you will see that little guy there.

That is all I have. Who has a question? Q/A: Do I write the workout? We use a white board. I should have bought stock in dry erase pens. We go through about 8 of those a month and writer’s cramp too so we use a white board at every workout. There are two or three of them on the pool deck if we are going long course. If we are going short course we have about six of them – six or seven. We are all visual learners – it is very important.

Q/A: We have quarterly fees with the University. $130.00 for three months. They prorate if you come in the second or third month. We don’t have any monthly meetings. I do a weekly newsletter and that goes out to all of the athletes and it is usually something that is more of a fun and game type thing – schedule of events. There is always a bunch of quotes in there and stuff, but no meetings. No – nobody wants to go to a meeting. Do you all remember the people around you? Isn’t that cool? There – so when you meet a new swimmer – three times in a sentence – use their name. You will never forget them. Thank you all for attending. Take all this information home and have fun with it. Thank you.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sponsorship & Partnerships

Official Sponsors and Partners of the American Swimming Coaches Association

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe and get the latest Swimming Coach news