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Sam Perry
January 3rd, 2006, 06:40 PM
Saw this article today on The Race Club website. Since we have so many Texas Exes (GO HORNS beat SC!) on here, I was wondering what the opinions were on his comments.

http://64.70.236.56/columns/index.html

At least good for some gripping discussion, Lord knows we need a good "spirited" discussion on here...

Jeff Commings
January 4th, 2006, 10:28 AM
I agree. Though I was always a swimmer. I chose that life very early on.

When I was an age group coach, I encouraged parents of kids under 12 to put their kids in other sports, and to let me put them in different events. I had a boy who wanted to swim distance because his big sister was a good distance swimmer. But he blossomed in two years into a great sprinter, because he started growing and getting stronger. He now hates the required 1650 every member of the team over 12 is required to race every year.

seltzer
January 4th, 2006, 10:53 AM
Recently the New York Times magazine had an article on Emiy Hughes, Sarah's sister and claimed that ice skating had the largest imbalance between practice times and performance time. I thought immediately that this author is not familar with most swim training programs.

Eddie Reese is a great swim coach. So is Dave Salo. They have both produced great swimmers. They take a very different approach to training. So who's right?

Without some kind of peer reviewed papers on training yardage and performance that is data based we'll not really know the answer to this question. Otherwise, these discussion quickly devolve into conjecture-based arguements.

So where do I stand? I do support that part of Gary Hall's letter that urges young swimmers, and their parents, not to specialize in the sport too soon (is it 11, 12, 13, 15 ?) and once they elected swimming to train "smart" AND "hard" (see Dave Salo for another definition of hard). Yes, if you are a 1500 swimmer you'll need to put in those yards but how much do you really need to train to be the "best you can be" at the other distances?

One final, somewhat related comment. I greatly respect Gary Hall as a swimmer. He swims with great technique and, in the most mental of all races, great toughness. Based on everything I seen in swimming over the past four decades this technique comes with lots of hard work. One swimmer does not make a thesis true but it does speak to his dedication to our sport in his own way.

Sam Perry
January 4th, 2006, 12:09 PM
These are great points and it's an interesting point to ponder. When I see age group coaches having EVERY kid in the pool do a 10,000 for time, I wonder who that is good for. Is it good for the coach so he can tell his buddies he got his kids to do it?

I know hardly anyone that does that type of swim will be a better swimmer becaue of that. Mentally tough, most definitely. But I think there are other sets you can do to develop mentally tough swimmers and at the same time develop their skills to their best events.

Mind you, I am the epitome of a one trick pony in the water, so I am probably somewhat biased. Currently my backstroke is faster than my freestyle!

On a somewhat related note, I think it was Tom Jaeger who said something like the best athletes in the pool are the sprinters. Who chooses to be the distance guy?

TheGoodSmith
January 4th, 2006, 12:11 PM
Some stuff rings true in his article especially as it pertains to the 50s and 100s.

However, swimming the 200 and above in the final heat at US Nationals, unfortunately requires both natural talent (i.e. genetics) as well as a solid aerobic base built from a relatively young age. There are very few Rowdy Gaines's out there that can start so late comparatively and reach the very top. While I agree it is important not to "burn out" young kids with 10,000 meter a day regimes like the old Mission Viejo days in the 1970s, one must acknowledge the benefits of a training base that is accumulated through the years. No one wants to have to do this mentally or physically, but the benefits are certainly proven.

It's a balancing act. How much yardage to do early on as well as picking your "right event" as Gary puts it.


John Smith

patrick
January 4th, 2006, 01:43 PM
I think age group coaches tread a line between developing individual talent and keeping the "team" cohesive. And by that I mean not showing favor to kids who are able to sprint at 12 by having them go 5000 yards a day and the others 9000+. Remember they also have to keep the parents happy.

Everyone doing the same workout has advantages to team unity and teaching kids to work hard as individuals yet in a team environment. Yet as they develop their individual events, provide them with sets to enhance their skills in the appropriate lane.

My take: everyone should warm up as a group, do a set as a group, then break up into event specific lanes for a set, and then come together for another set.

As for ugly distance swimmer strokes: Hackett and Jensen look fine to me and alot of the European sprinters now swim straight arm.

Paul Smith
January 4th, 2006, 06:19 PM
Interesting...........I'm guessing that at least some of Gary's success came from doing the exact type of background that he's critical of.

From earlier discussions I recal that Gary went 1:33+ in the 200 free as a freshman at Texas........I doubt that Eddie didn't train him hard to do that?

TheGoodSmith
January 4th, 2006, 06:29 PM
Paul,

Are you baiting for an argument?


John Smith

SCAQ Member
January 5th, 2006, 02:04 AM
Okay, it's official, Gary Hall is indeed a God!

Paul Smith
January 5th, 2006, 10:10 AM
Bring it on Evil One!

So tell me.......what kind of training did you do with Eddie as a freshman?

Better yet........would love to hear a bit more about Gary's training as an age grouper......and yours......guessing there are some parallels?

My recollection of that timeframe was that quite a few of us (sprinter/middle distance/stroke specialists) we're all doing some pretty massive base training...........20k a day, weights, stadiums, etc. over the holidays as I recall!

In fact I think I'm just starting to hit my taper NOW....25 years later!

SwiminONandON
January 5th, 2006, 11:23 AM
I remember an article by Bob Bowman saying that he thinks people specialize too early and believes in having all the kids swim all obviously that worked for at least one of his kids.

I know he is using the same philosophy at Michigan and getting results.

I think the main purpose of that article was to say that just because a kid can't hacket it doing 10k or more doesn't mean that they can't be or wont' be a good swimmer or even a great swimmer.

Some people need more patience and time ... both Hoff and Phelps had some fears of the water they had to overcome ...

I also agree that if I was an age grouper and I was gutting out 10k or more a day and half my teammates were doing 5k and going home I'd probably be upset.

There are way too many facets that go into this argument ... bottom line, coaches need to know their athletes, when and who to push ... I think it is the responsibility of the coaches, the athletes and the parents to determine what type and level of training is the best for each individual ...

craiglll@yahoo.com
January 5th, 2006, 11:35 AM
I really wondered why the article appeared. It, at first, seemed to me to have a very negative messafge hidden under a seemingly positive facade. When I was younger (the early 70s) everyone started swimming great distances in practice. Then as the season got into the third week in high school, some did less, some did more. When I first went to college, we all swam a lot (it was a small div III college). Now I swim about the same amount as then.

The age groupers who I see at the Y where I swim seem to me not to swim enough. They work on starts and sprinting every day for at least 20 minutes. Some are really strong. That seems to me to be too much time for starts. But they seem to win. Those kids get to high school and do really well for our area (in western Illinois, basketball rules). The girls have sort of slacked recently but the boys have been undefeated in conference for 3 1/2 yrs. However, not many go to state- 2 or 3 boys. How many yards to swim is such a big, cloudy area. The boys high school coach is really rougfh. The girls coach is also the head coach of age groupers.

Aso, many of the guys in high school are built like typical swimmers. I'm not sure what is the perfect body type. I'm very tall and thin. Bu many of the guys I used to swim with were much shorlter and muscular. Inthe age groupers there are many very over weightboys. thius really shocks me becasue they are really "fat." Not until recently did I ever se so many overweight young boys swimming. One boy is huge and a distance swimmer. He seems to me to be doing really well. I'm sure that he is about 5ft 6 in ansd well over 2oo pounds. Who knows?

Sam Perry
January 5th, 2006, 11:50 AM
Originally posted by SwiminONandON
... bottom line, coaches need to know their athletes, when and who to push ... I think it is the responsibility of the coaches, the athletes and the parents to determine what type and level of training is the best for each individual ...

Great point. I wonder how many coaches in USA Swimming actually excel at this. I think there are very few coaches at whatever level that do this well.

That one point seems to make the difference in what makes a coach good or great. I believe any coach can teach technique, come up with creative workouts, take splits, zip up fastskins, etc. There are very few that can do what you say in the above quote. If USA Swimming wants to improve and have some legs to continue to grow the sport (no pun intended), this is a major issue that they should be addressing.

TheGoodSmith
January 5th, 2006, 01:14 PM
Craig III

You bring out an interesting point about comparing older age group swimmers from the 1970s and early 1980s to the swimmers these days. Personally, I don't find a lot of improvement in the depth of the heats from then to now. I agree there are many overweight kids these days, more now than then it seems. The top talent has marginally improved over the last 3 decades, but not as much compared to the preceeding decades in the 50s and 60s compared to the 70s and 80s.

Questions: Did this "over training" a quarter of a century ago help or hinder in the end ? Are we lacking on aerobic base in some of our age group kids these days ?

Personally, I think the super yardage teams like Mission Viejo back then went a bit overboard. It simply burnt out too many kids mentally. But, I think there is purpose for an aerobic base early in your career. I do remember swimming 2wice a day (8-10K or so) 2 days a week when I was 12 in the summers. Highschool was harder (10K-12K) 3 days a week plus weights and Texas in the early 80's was even harder intensity and slightly more yardage still. I suggest that the concept of "base" has been slightly lost on a the vast middle talent group of swimmers these days...... i.e. the average "John Smiths" out there. I have spoken to college coaches now that feel that their incoming Freshman don't have sufficient base compared to the 1980s. They have to train many of their Freshman very hard the first 2 years where as before it was already there for the taking.


John Smith

seltzer
January 5th, 2006, 04:10 PM
Originally posted by Sam Perry
Great point. I wonder how many coaches in USA Swimming actually excel at this. I think there are very few coaches at whatever level that do this well.

That one point seems to make the difference in what makes a coach good or great. I believe any coach can teach technique, come up with creative workouts, take splits, zip up fastskins, etc. There are very few that can do what you say in the above quote. If USA Swimming wants to improve and have some legs to continue to grow the sport (no pun intended), this is a major issue that they should be addressing.

I'm not sure about the "any coach can teach technique" statement, in my opinion this is the most challenging area of swim coaching, but wonder what you think USA swimming should do in the area to help coaches tailor swim training programs? BTW, I am aware that lots of people have written articles on this subject and coaches spend lots of time trying to figure out how to best accomplish this. The scientific literature also includes a number of studies on this topic. Its my experience that coaches try their best in this area but it is pretty complicated task especially when you are dealing with younger athletes that are still growing physically and mentally at very different rates.

Hall made a number of points that are valid re training and specialization but also are well-known issues that many people are trying to address from a prespective of experience and knowledge that I'm not sure that he can claim beyond his experience as a swimmer and coach at the Race Club. I think that Hall's comments/suggestion re marketing of swimming are far more interesting and valuable than his personal opinions on how to train swimmers, other than himself.

Tom Ellison
January 5th, 2006, 05:44 PM
"I know he is using the same philosophy at Michigan and getting results."

Wow, an OSU grad writing nice things about Mich.....I am impressed......

craiglll@yahoo.com
January 5th, 2006, 06:14 PM
Still though, Im not sure what the puprose is for this article. when I first read it on the rac club page, I thought that it seemed like a backhanded complement. Is that what it is?

Paul Smith
January 5th, 2006, 06:29 PM
John.......another overlooked factor in the current training strategies is th heavy emphasis on springint at the college level. A mid level 500/1650 high school kid would be hard pressed to find a scholorhip these days vs. the same level for 50/100 specialist.

My solution........double the points in the 500, 1650, 400IM & 800 free relay.

dorothyrde
January 6th, 2006, 07:27 AM
Originally posted by craiglll@yahoo.com
[B]
The age groupers who I see at the Y where I swim seem to me not to swim enough. They work on starts and sprinting every day for at least 20 minutes. Some are really strong. That seems to me to be too much time for starts. But they seem to win. Those kids get to high school and do really well for our area (in western Illinois, basketball rules). The girls have sort of slacked recently but the boys have been undefeated in conference for 3 1/2 yrs. However, not many go to state- 2 or 3 boys. How many yards to swim is such a big, cloudy area. The boys high school coach is really rougfh. The girls coach is also the head coach of age groupers.

]

Craig, not sure your Y program is a typical view of USS swimming. Since we have had swimmers come from your Y over to your team, I am somewhat familiar with the YMCA only swimming in our district. Many of the YMCA only swimming focuses totally on sprinting, because especially at the younger ages, that is all there is. The swimmers that have moved to our area, and swum with our YMCA/USA team are sadly behind. They may have as much talent, but because of the focus on all sprint, they cannot keep up in practice. If they stick with it, over time, they get better and keep up. That is why even though they do well in their area conference, once you get to the big state picture, they cannot compete with the swimmers who have put in the mileage. There was some extremely talented boys in last years and this years senior class. I am familiar with them, because the head to head competition with our boys(one of which was my son), and them through the years has been fun. But overall, that area of the state is weak in swimming and the HS sectional is known to be one of the easier ones.

dorothyrde
January 6th, 2006, 07:32 AM
Originally posted by seltzer
I'm not sure about the "any coach can teach technique" statement, in my opinion this is the most challenging area of swim coaching, but wonder what you think USA swimming should do in the area to help coaches tailor swim training programs? BTW, I am aware that lots of people have written articles on this subject and coaches spend lots of time trying to figure out how to best accomplish this. The scientific literature also includes a number of studies on this topic. Its my experience that coaches try their best in this area but it is pretty complicated task especially when you are dealing with younger athletes that are still growing physically and mentally at very different rates.

Hall made a number of points that are valid re training and specialization but also are well-known issues that many people are trying to address from a prespective of experience and knowledge that I'm not sure that he can claim beyond his experience as a swimmer and coach at the Race Club. I think that Hall's comments/suggestion re marketing of swimming are far more interesting and valuable than his personal opinions on how to train swimmers, other than himself.

I agree that technique is one of the hardest things to teach. It is easy to send the kids up and down and get them swimming yards. But swimming them smart is another story. Many coaches are dealing with lack of pool space. In our age group program, when you have 10-15 kids per lane, it is very hard to focus on that technique, and the energetic 12 and under loses focus very fast if it is all technique. It is a talented coach who can intermix the yardage and the technique well with this age. I have seen coaches that are excellent at this, and I have seen coaches that I would like to go down and shake them and say, can't you SEE what all your kids are doing(I don't, because I do know how hard it is).
Aerobic base, and technique are probably the two most important things to the 12 and unders(10 and under much more technique focused), and crowded pool conditions help neither.

Bob McAdams
January 6th, 2006, 08:17 AM
Originally posted by craiglll@yahoo.com
I really wondered why the article appeared. It, at first, seemed to me to have a very negative messafge hidden under a seemingly positive facade.

Gary was arguing that it doesn't make sense to swim enormous distances in practice unless you're going to be a distance swimmer, and he gave three reasons why ignoring this principle with kids can be detrimental:

1) The key to swimming fast is to maintain a good, efficient stroke. When you make kids swim enormous distances, you effectively make it impossible for them to maintain a good, efficient stroke and end up engraining bad technique.

2) It takes a lot of time to rack up the enormous yardage some coaches require. This effectively makes it impossible for their swimmers to participate in any sport but swimming. Kids need to be able to experiment with other sports, even if they are ultimately going to devote themselves to swimming.

3) Because there are so many different swimming events, swimming bears some resemblance to track and field in terms of the kinds of skills needed to excel at the different events. Making enormous yardage a requirement for participation in swimming can effectively bar people from the sport who could actually excel at shorter distance events but who don't have the physiology required to endure enormous yardage.

Gary admits that there are no easy answers to the problem, since coaches with large numbers of swimmers are going to have a hard time developing specialized workouts. But he also alludes to another factor that, I think, is even more of a problem: Developing swimmers usually don't know yet what their best event is going to be. What's needed is a program that will prepare every swimmer for every type of swimming event, so each swimmer can figure out which events work best for them.

I gather that the article was not intended to provide a comprehensive solution to the problem. This first step in solving any problem is to clearly define what the problem is, and that, I gather, was the purpose of this article.


Bob

cinc3100
January 9th, 2006, 10:39 PM
Paul when I swam community college years ago, sprinting was important because the women choose the 50's and 100's of the strokes instead of the 200's. So, I agree even in 4 year college its important for points in the relays.

cinc3100
January 9th, 2006, 10:47 PM
Well, I'm 48 and the in our Magazine it explains goggles didn't become common place until 1972. If you swam from about 1968 to 1972, the yardage was usually lower than today. I didn't go to a team that swam at least 4,000 yards in a practice until I was 14 years old. Most of the early swimming was on teams that practice between 1,500 to 3,000 yards.

cinc3100
January 9th, 2006, 11:00 PM
I think there are a lot of Rowdy Gaines. Males mature about 3 years after most females in swimming. Most guys make big time drops in their late teens compared to women. But they have been a few late women starters such as Kristy Koval and Rachel Kamsecz(sorry for the misspelling). And Rachel once did 500 yard free and 200 Fly and started swimming competely which is an old age for a girl at 14 years old.

dorothyrde
January 10th, 2006, 07:04 AM
Originally posted by cinc310
I think there are a lot of Rowdy Gaines. Males mature about 3 years after most females in swimming. Most guys make big time drops in their late teens compared to women. But they have been a few late women starters such as Kristy Koval and Rachel Kamsecz(sorry for the misspelling). And Rachel once did 500 yard free and 200 Fly and started swimming competely which is an old age for a girl at 14 years old.

Agree, as I watch my son who quit last year at 16 still grow and grow and grow and he will be 18 in March.

I wonder if a girl is fit from another sport and switches to swimming after puberty if that helps. I am watching my daughter struggle to deal with a whole new body this year and have watched other girls do the same in the past. If you start after you have that body, there is not an adjustment. Still I think it must take a tremendous athlete to do well that late.

SCAQ Member
January 10th, 2006, 02:39 PM
If you look at the masters results for swimmers brought up in the 70's versus swimmers brought through the ranks in the 80's, I am more impressed with the 40-49 age group than I am with the 30-39

dorothyrde
January 10th, 2006, 03:55 PM
Originally posted by SCAQ Member
If you look at the masters results for swimmers brought up in the 70's versus swimmers brought through the ranks in the 80's, I am more impressed with the 40-49 age group than I am with the 30-39

I wonder if that is a numbers game. When you are in your 30's your kids are more apt to be young, and not as much time to train and compete. When you are in your 40's, you may have more time. I started swimming when my youngest was old enough for team. They had open swimming at the same time and it beat sitting around and waiting.

A.K.
January 10th, 2006, 09:19 PM
Originally posted in the article
THE GET OUT SWIM RULES!:

We are all familiar with the get out swim. The get out swim usually happens
towards the end of practice on a day when the coach is feeling particularly
good or generous or if he needs to get to an appointment. I
believe that the get out swim is one of the best things a coach can do. Why?
It takes one swimmer out of practice. They are assigned a time by the coach.
If they reach that time practice is over and everyone gets out.

We swam get out swims also and they were great for mimicking meet pressure and excitement. We also had another novel set. Our Coach ( Greg Troy ) used to have "Stay In Swims" where if you made the set ( which kept getting harder or faster ) you got to stay in and continue swimming. You would feel guilty if you loafed to get out of practice. Although the article was more geared toward tapers, this "Stay In Swims" was geared during the height of training.

TheGoodSmith
January 11th, 2006, 11:22 AM
Paul,

You bring up an important point that many people overlook. The majority of the events including relays that are swum at NCAAs.... and at US Nationals are 200 and below...... not 200 and above.

Where are the points scored.... mostly in the sprints. The 200 on the other hand is hard to fake without base training throughout your career, particularly 200 meters.

What's worse.... overtraining 50 and 100 freestylers to make a 200, or undertraining (sprinting) your 500 freestylers to survive the first half of a 200 ?


John Smith

Matt S
January 16th, 2006, 11:51 AM
There are a lot of good points here. I think we all (including Gary) are suffering a bit from Olympic Games myopia. To illustrate, let me ask a few questions.

How many age groupers are going to the Olympics? Darn few. Indeed, how many are going to college on a swimming scholarship? Only marginally a few more as a percentage of a typical program. So, why are the rest of the people on the team? I would submit that if your answer to that question is something like, "we don't know who the future Olympians will be, so we need to train as many swimmers as possible, and besides we need more people to pay club dues and swim on the relays with our future Michaels and Amandas," your priorities will be different (not better or worse, just different) than the parent of a child who just wants his/her child to get a little exercise, have a little fun, and experience some competition.

Here's the trap. We all know very few swimmers will ever be World Class. However, with the rare Rowdy Gains/Ed Moses exception, that one in a million kid will probably need to swim the 10K a day at age 12 to have a shot. So...do we structure our team to find and groom this one kid, or do we give the rest of the team...I'm not sure what I would call it, but a better, more relevant experience given their athletic talent and prospects? How many Pee Wee football coaches say to themselves, "I'm gonna train the next Peyton Manning, and that kid will need an arm like a rifle, so all my kids are going to hit the weight room..."? I have heard even ex-NFL players talk about how crazy that kind of thinking is for grade school kids. So, at one level, the answer of what you do for you swim team seems obvious in a politically correct way. However, there are other factors that make it less obvious.

First, many of the kids and the parents are in swimming 'cause they have bought the Olympic dream as a motivation. Given our once in four years coverage, it is what we have to offer to justify why they should spend all that time, money, blood, sweat and tears. Take that away, tell a 10 year old the honest truth, that he will work his tail off for 8-12 years to become...the second runner up of East Pennsyltucky, and Pony League baseball starts to look pretty good.

Second, coaches get their credibility training champions. Very few swimmers have a shot at the big Os, but the few that have a shot at having a shot are going to go to the "elite" program in the area. And, every coach wants to coach the elite program.

What am I saying? A couple of things. One, swimming needs to make itself more interesting and provide more rewards to every facet below the Olympics. Meets needs to be shorter, more interesting, and the winner needs to be a lot less predictable. We in the U.S. take pride in being the best swimming nation since Johny Weismuller cracked the 1 minute barrier. People, that kind of thing is killing us. I'm sure you can all think of local dynasties where your team is not the annointed champions, say Kenyon in Div III swimming. This perpetuates itself, because swim meets are so darn predictable, because the superstars on their worst day can still kick the tails of 95% of the rest of field recording a personal best, so the program that wins a few in a row will get most of the talent in the future and rarely be challenged, and we swim hours of heats when everyone can fill in the final results with 90% accuracy. We need a professional circuit so that more than a handful of swimmers can make a living, and they don't have to wait four years for their break, and be photogenic or controversial, and have some kind of personal interest angle to even have a shot.

Second, there needs to be space in competitive swimming for teams that are about introducing the sport, focusing on their athletes where they are right now, and structured for the median swimmer, not the superstar. I don't know exactly how you do that, but parents and swimmers need to look beyond the champions on a coach's resume.

So, to circle back to Gary's Article, I agree with a lot of what he says. One size workout does not fit all swimmers, and kids should try different things and different sports. However, I don't think the critical issue is sprinter vs. distance; it's Olympian vs. everyone else in the sport. We are only just now starting to have a discussion about whether that is the case.

Matt

gull
January 16th, 2006, 01:41 PM
"So...do we structure our team to find and groom this one kid, or do we give the rest of the team...I'm not sure what I would call it, but a better, more relevant experience given their athletic talent and prospects?"

I disagree. Isn't the goal of the coach to help each and every one of his swimmers achieve their full potential, whatever that may be? How is that irrelevant? A coach once told me, "Don't limit yourself." Are you proposing that we train the less talented kids...less?

"...many of the kids and the parents are in swimming 'cause they have bought the Olympic dream as a motivation. Given our once in four years coverage, it is what we have to offer to justify why they should spend all that time, money, blood, sweat and tears."

Again I disagree. I knew I wouldn't make an Olympic team, but I was thrilled to make my college team as a walk on. To me, that was a pretty big "reward." The great thing about swimming is that it teaches self-motivation and goal setting.

"...because swim meets are so darn predictable."

What is so "predictable" about swimming a great race and a personal best? Friday night my 14 year old daughter dropped six seconds in the 200 IM, losing by just a second to a girl who at one time could lap her in the same event.

mattson
January 17th, 2006, 12:48 AM
"...because swim meets are so darn predictable."

I have to question this one. Although many meets are predictable (like many football/basketball/name-your-sport games), there are the "big game"-type of meets that are completely unpredictable. I'm thinking back to high school, especially with division rivals. One year their team pulls the upset, next year our team does.

One (HS) meet that comes to mind was against Spencerport. We were in their tiny pool area, and they had the place packed with loud fans. (My ears were ringing for hours after the meet.) The first place swimmers in each event were "predictable", but the meet was being decided by 4th and 5th place swimmers. Our inspirational moment came when our backstroker knocked a megaphone out of a fan's hand. (He came forward to yell at our medley relay.) My proud moment was when I out-touched their 2nd 500 swimmer (after trailing the whole race) to get 2nd place. Best time by about 5 seconds. Meet came down to the last free relay, very close race for first. (And hardly predictable...)

dorothyrde
January 17th, 2006, 07:44 AM
Same thing at the HS in Champaign. There is a tremendous rivalry and the meets can be very exciting.

However, USA meets are not like that. Especially the big ones in Indy or Chicago where there are 15 heats of 11-12 girls in an event(can you tell I have a 12 year old?). And I used to have a boy and had to sit through all those heats...

LindsayNB
January 17th, 2006, 09:46 AM
Originally posted by gull80
Isn't the goal of the coach to help each and every one of his swimmers achieve their full potential, whatever that may be?

It seems to me that talking about "full potential" requires consideration of trade offs and balance. Michael Phelps took a year off from school to concentrate on training (leading into the Olympics), something he felt was necessary to achieve his full potential but which I would suggest is not appropriate for every swimmer. If one accepts that some trade offs with the rest of the swimmer's life should be made the question becomes where the balance should be. Perhaps there can even be a training stream for kids who want to use swimming as a lifelong health and fitness tool, or for swimmers that just want to sprint and are willing to trade off a few hundredths of a second in their races for endless hours of 10,000m aerobic development workouts.

gull
January 17th, 2006, 10:18 AM
Taking a year off to train is an extreme example; it seems as though you're proposing a two or three tiered system: obviously talented kids with Olympic potential (presumably identified through some sort of Eastern European screening process), kids who may win a scholarship to a Division I or II school, and those kids who want "swimming-lite." Life is about trade offs. If you want to swim (or dance, or play violin) and you want to do it well, you will have to give up some time at the mall or in front of the TV. Anyway, that's what I try to teach my kids--whatever the activity they choose. At a certain point, you've got to make a commitment.

LindsayNB
January 17th, 2006, 02:08 PM
Perhaps this black and white view is part of the difficulty. Most potential activites for children and youth are willing to offer different programs for different levels of commitment. You don't necessarily have to commit to the same amount of practice as an aspiring concert pianist to study piano. Balance can be a virtue too.

You also don't have to train for the marathon, or even the 10km to train for the 100m sprint in track.

gull
January 17th, 2006, 02:28 PM
Most teams have different training groups based on ability. And of course there is always summer league for those who want just a taste of competitive swimming.

Sam Perry
January 18th, 2006, 05:55 PM
And article #2.

I think he makes some pretty controversial statements in this one, but it is food for thought. (For those of you asking, no I am not a Gary Hall disciple. I just like the fact that he makes you think.)

http://www.theraceclub.net/columns/index.html

P.S. I also know Pierre, and like him a lot. He does have a problem with sprinters, but he can definitely make great middle distance and distance swimmers.

Matt S
January 18th, 2006, 06:20 PM
Sam,

I'm down with you on this one. I don't endorse everything Gary does or says, but he is a terrific and constructive provocateur.

Towards the end of his article, he made an observation that really turned my assumptions on their side and got me thinking:

"I'm not railing against being in shape or working hard, a positive side effect from distance swimming. I do a lot of aerobic work. I just don't do it in the pool. Define aerobic work. Is it keeping your heart rate up near 200 for over twenty minutes? We do exercise that maintains a heart rate between 150 and 200 for a lot longer than that.

"It takes a lot of laps to accomplish aerobic threshold if you only seek aerobic threshold through swimming. If you don't go insane first from all those laps then your shoulder will explode eventually. All those laps hurt your stroke technique, which is absolutely necessary in the 50 free. Your heart is too busy pounding away to know what exercise is making it work so hard. And it doesn't matter! You accomplish the same objective and save yourself from burnout and shoulder surgery. At the end of the season in those last 15 meters of the 100 free you'll have the finish your coach is looking for."

WOW! I'm aware of some of the new thinking on dry land exercises; however, my understanding is that they target muscle strength, and not aerobic capacity. I know in my college program (a very modest Div III program 25 years or so ago), we experimented with group runs as supplementary training. However, we abandoned this experiment when it appear that developing the leg muscles for running was antagonistic to developing a strong kick. I would be interested in knowing what dry land, aerobic regime they are using. They certainly produced results in 2004.

Matt

craiglll@yahoo.com
January 19th, 2006, 11:02 AM
Matt,

I used to be a runner who also swam. I would run to swim practice even into my early 30s. I think that running definitely helped my lungs but I don't know about leg muscles. At Knox there was a better cross country program then swimming.

Now I swim & row. I really think that rowing has helped a lot, especially with my back & shoulders. Though personally, I think that cross-training is very individualistic and dependent on what the reason the person is doing the cross training.

LindsayNB
January 19th, 2006, 01:22 PM
I was taught that aerobic conditioning involved three things:
1) volume of blood circulated (heart)
2) ability to add oxygen and remove CO2 (lungs)
3) ability to metabolize O2 in the muscles and remove metabolic byproducts (muscles)

With this model cross training would develop the first two but might not develop the third if it didn't work the specific muscles used in swimming.

That said, it's unclear to me how relevant aerobic conditioning is to a 50. It might be interesting to examine the times for the 50 and the two splits in the 100 for swimmers with different training approaches to see if there is a correlation.

When discussing Thorpe's move from the middle distances into the sprints it was asserted that distance training killed sprinting speed. Is there any controversy about that?

My personal experience is that I have never been able to add muscle mass during periods where I was doing heavy aerobic training, so I can imagine that such training would be detrimental to building the strength needed for sprinting.

craiglll@yahoo.com
January 20th, 2006, 11:11 AM
I try to swim distance and IMs. I've done this all of my life. I could do a pretty good 1650 and a good 100 IM. Doing a 100 fly though was always very rough on my lungs. I was never a good 50 sprinter. when I ran I always trained great distances. My upper body was never very powerful but my legs were. I used then a lot for fly kicking.

I think that it might be possible to do distance and work your 100s. but since most people don't breath during a 50, why would lung functions really matter?

mikeh
March 20th, 2006, 03:14 PM
Matt, I find your post fascinating. In my opinion, there should be awards for every age grouper that does a "best time" (this mkay necessitate the creation of a database of some sort), and an award given to the swimmer who cut the largest percentage from his/her previous best time. Those kids are champions too.

I have swum countless races in my time, and only on rare occasions can I recall where I finished. But I can recall the time I swam to the hundredth, and whether it was my best time or not.

aquageek
March 20th, 2006, 03:20 PM
Originally posted by mikeh
Matt, I find your post fascinating. In my opinion, there should be awards for every age grouper that does a "best time" (this mkay necessitate the creation of a database of some sort), and an award given to the swimmer who cut the largest percentage from his/her previous best time. Those kids are champions too.


I think this is the problem with youth athletics today, namely everyone gets a trophy for showing up so no one gets the sniffles. You should get a trophy or medal for 1st - 3rd place, or whatever is designated, not for just participating or swimming faster than before. You are only a champion if you win.

swimr4life
March 21st, 2006, 07:33 AM
Aquageek, I agree that we shouldn't encourage mediocrity. I get what you are saying but, I disagree with the fact that you only "win" if you come in first. You can only control what you personally do in a race. You can't help the level of your competition. I coach a summer league team in a county that is among the fastest in the nation. Our county meet is almost as fast as our state USS meet! To motivate my swimmers I give "Speed Breaker" ribbons. If they improve their time, they get recognition. The goal of summer league is to get children interested in the sport of swimming. We have a very measurable sport that allows us to know when and how much we improve individually. I know I personally would rather improve 3 seconds and get second than add 3 seconds and "win".

globuggie
March 21st, 2006, 08:03 AM
I agree that children, especially in summer league, should get ribbons or something for improving their best time. Most young children will automatically think only about place, which can change greatly depending on the other swimmers. Giving them ribbons for improving their personal best times may encourage them to swim faster, even if they never place well.

I started summer league swimming at age 11 with no experience swimming year-round. I was also very slow - my first 50 free in a meet was over a minute. Fortunately, I was mature enough to focus on how my times were improving, not just on place. During that first summer, my 50 free time improved almost 10 seconds, enough to make me want to improve more, which is why I still swim now.

aquageek
March 21st, 2006, 08:05 AM
I like the idea of speed breaker ribbons, that is a far cry from trophys for folks who do personal bests, which was what was suggested. It's good to recognize accomplishment for kids. My point was that not everyone wins a race and therefore you shouldn't get some award for just showing up.

Matt S
March 21st, 2006, 07:38 PM
Aquageek,

I agree with you a lot more than you would expect by reading our posts. Absolutely, we should not redefine or bowdlerize the meaning of first, second or third. They are what they are, and the State Champion probably worked just a little harder and put more of himself into his event than the kid that showed up for practice about half the time but swam the same event and finished way back in the pack at the local meet. My beef is recognizing ONLY first, second or third. I have two problems with that. First, kids that worked and swam their hearts out to finish in the pack, but a few places higher and a few seconds faster than last year have achieved something too, and that needs to be recognized for what it is. Second, you find a small enough pond, and you too can be the biggest fish in the water. Some people are so much more talented than the competition that "winning" has little meaning for them. Yes, they could seek out faster meets, but maybe they want to for example, go to a Div III program for the education and not have to sacrifice it for their swimming career. They've made a choice and a valid one, but we're kidding ourselves if we think "winning" in those conditions has much meaning.

My larger point is that a healthy program will recognize different kinds of achievement in different ways. An unhealthy program will hyperfocus on one goal (dual meet winning record, conference champions, record setting swims, size of the program...whatever) and treat everyone who does not contribute to that exhalted goal as a red-headed step-child whose presence is tolerated only to the extent they don't "get in the way."

So I say give out medals, but only to 1st, 2nd and 3rd and treat them as meaning what they mean. Recognize swimmers who break PRs and what that means. Keep track of school records and remind folks from time to time what that means. Give out "letterman" awards to those who participate faithfully on the team, even if they never make an A relay.

Moreover, on a team that focuses more on younger and first time swimmers, skew the rewards more towards participation. A couple of examples from my piddly little summer league coaching experience. We made a point of taking EVERY kid who wanted to swim at the League Championship Meet, not just our 4 fastest swimmers in each event. That might mean a couple of middling fast swimmers gave up their third event so one of our slower swimmers could get two splashes. Experiencing the mad-house of Leagues was part of the experience. Also, we intentionally changed the dynamic of what events kids wanted to swim by having "ice cream" day for every kid that swam at least once in the dual-meet season all the individual events in their age group. Instead of "coach, I don't like that event." We got, "coach, I need to swim this event." And, everyone still on the team at the end of the dual meets legitimately earned the ice cream.

Especially in an Olympic driven sport like swimming, 1st, 2nd & 3rd have special meaning. We need to preserve that and recognize it for what it means. We don't need to turn it into a fetish and disregard everything else that is going on. By the same reasoning, Aquageek is 100% correct when he argues we can't make "participation trophies" the only award we give out. Awards and recognition need to heterogeneous.

Matt

mattson
March 21st, 2006, 08:36 PM
There was a commercial on during the Winter Olympics, where the speaker (one of the Olympians) was stating how in the US the emphasis is usually only on the winners. Kids are taught, "if you can't win, don't play". In this atmosphere, the result is that fewer kids compete at all (since they won't win). And then people wonder why obesity is on the rise...

Found this document during a google search:
"If you can't win, don't play" is an unhealthy attitude, says psychologist (http://www.psych.utoronto.ca/~furedy/Papers/ps/utbull78.doc)
that I think says it more eloquently than I can. (It is a Word doc, but you can also get it in regular text interpreted by Google (http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:QT8RXv3QekMJ:www.psych.utoronto.ca/~furedy/Papers/ps/utbull78.doc+%2B%22if+you+can%27t+win%22+%2Bcompet e&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1).)

(I agree with Matt and AGeek that we shouldn't celebrate mediocrity. But I agree with John Furedy's point that we should emphasize competition more than just coming in first place.)

Sam Perry
March 21st, 2006, 10:44 PM
Originally posted by mattson
There was a commercial on during the Winter Olympics, where the speaker (one of the Olympians) was stating how in the US the emphasis is usually only on the winners. Kids are taught, "if you can't win, don't play". In this atmosphere, the result is that fewer kids compete at all (since they won't win). And then people wonder why obesity is on the rise...


This is a stretch to say the least. We have fat kids b/c we stress winning? I think we have fat kids b/c parents don't know a darn thing about nutrition and/or don't take the time to feed their children properly.

knelson
March 22nd, 2006, 12:45 AM
Originally posted by Sam Perry
I think we have fat kids b/c parents don't know a darn thing about nutrition and/or don't take the time to feed their children properly.

That might be part of the problem, but I think kids sitting around watching TV and playing Nintendo is a big factor, too.

Jeff Commings
March 22nd, 2006, 01:39 PM
You can sit around and watch TV and play Nintendo all day and not get fat. I've done that all my life.

If the kids don't get involved in a sport, then they have physical issues. Nothing to complement the laying around.

Heck, if I had a kid I'd advocate skateboarding over football.

aquageek
March 22nd, 2006, 01:53 PM
Originally posted by Jeff Commings
Heck, if I had a kid I'd advocate skateboarding over football.

If you had a kid you'd realize about 99% of the broken bones these days are due to trampolines, skateboards and in line skates, not traditional sports.

Matt S
March 22nd, 2006, 02:18 PM
I too saw the ad, and noted who was the spokesman. It adds another level of meaning and/or irony. Dude was Bode Miller, who compiled a fairly impressive record of participating without finishing 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the Olympics.

I don't think that is what his sponsors had in mind when they shot the commercial, but hey, the message still works.

Matt

FlyQueen
March 22nd, 2006, 02:34 PM
I think what Bode was getting at was that there is such a stress in today's society on winning and that it's becoming more and more, "It's not how you play the game it's whether you win or lose." As opposed to "It doesn't matter if you win or lose it's how you play the game."

If kids are only shown that winning is important they are missing out entirely ...

knelson
March 22nd, 2006, 02:42 PM
Originally posted by Jeff Commings
Nothing to complement the laying around.

Exactly. You just need sports to complement all that lying around :)