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knelson
July 25th, 2006, 03:44 PM
Here's a nice writeup on the masters team in Beaufort, SC: http://www.beaufortgazette.com/local_sports/story/5955112p-5242196c.html

I imagine Skip Thompson will remember Coach Fetters.

Anyway, I don't see too many write-ups about masters swimming in the paper, or adult sports in general, so this is good to see!

scyfreestyler
July 25th, 2006, 04:29 PM
Good story but the coach sounds like a real prick...not the kind of guy who brings new blood into Masters Swimming, that is for sure.

aztimm
July 25th, 2006, 04:29 PM
Sounds a bit too extreme if you ask me:

"Anyone can join this team, but they must swim in the meets."

I think that would take a good 75% out of my team (including myself) if they tried that.

bbpolhill
July 25th, 2006, 04:44 PM
Different strokes for different folks. Some people love the "Bobby Knight" military disciplined type as evidenced in the article.

I agree, though, I can't stand that approach when there are so many other friendlier ways to go about getting the same results. He wouldn't make me quit, but it sounds like he can take some of the enjoyment out of the experience.

I'll keep my coach who heaps on a dose of encouragement and motivation with every criticism.

knelson
July 25th, 2006, 04:47 PM
I don't know, does every team need to cater to those swimming purely for fitness? I swim on a team with lots of good swimmers, but quite a few never compete. I'd personally like to see a little more emphasis on the competitive aspect.

scyfreestyler
July 25th, 2006, 04:53 PM
Aside from the mandated competition, it just seems like the guy is a jerk. Giving the swimmers grief about some DQ's when they won the meet sounds a little over the top. Give me a break "coach"...it's friggin' Masters! I guess if his swimmers enjoy it then everybody is happy and there are no worries.


If I were on the team, the coach might get "accidentally" knocked into the pool one day. :eek:

Frank Thompson
July 25th, 2006, 04:57 PM
Kirk:

Thanks for the article. I remember Dick Fetters and I remember when he started at Michigan State. He was the Assistant Coach to Charles McCaffree and I think he became the head coach in either 1967 or 1968. Michigan State had there best teams in those years. I believe Clark Scholes in the only swimmer from MSU inducted into the Hall of Fame and I am surprised that Ken Walsh has not been inducted yet. He was a World Record Holder in both Short Course and Long Course and received a silver medal behind Michael Wenden in the 1968 Olympics in the 100 Meter Free. I also remember Dick's sons, John, Paul, and Pete. I competed against John and Paul in the old AAU days. In 2003, I saw Paul Fetters for the first time in years at the 2003 USMS Long Course Championships at Rutgers. He swam real well and won several events in the 50-54 age group. I believe he is swimming in the DC area and swam for a team called DC Parks and Rec.

I knew about Dick Fetters coaching in South Carolina because my Michigan Masters teamate from 6 years ago (Eric Nordlund) swam at Hilton Head in South Carolina and told me he was getting into coaching like he did at Michigan State and was just as competitive as ever. I know that Peter Dayland coaches and I wonder how competitive he is with his swimmers compared to the USC days. Its still good to see he is doing this at 85 years old. Now there is a guy that loves swimming. I see one of Dick's fellow coaches who used to coach against him named Gus Stager when I am at the Canham Natatorium pool. He was the coach at University of Michigan for many years and was coaching when Dick was at MSU. I believed they coached together on National Teams. In fact, I believe Gus was the Head Coach of the first World team that went to the World Championships in Belgrade in 1973 and Dick was the Assistant Coach. I will have to tell Gus about Dick and this article.

Mswimming
July 25th, 2006, 05:02 PM
I think the article seemed a bit extreme on the competitive side of master's swimming. For the most part, I feel like I am more a fitness swimmer than a competitive swimmer.


Here is another article on a masters swimmer from my local paper. Be advised that you have to register on the site to view the article.

http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/news/atoz/article_1151075.php

Kevin

Sabretooth Tiger
July 25th, 2006, 05:08 PM
"Sounds like a jerk" . . ???

Give me a break . . . it sounds like his team loves him (stockholm syndrome perhaps?) and they have bonded as a team.

He sounds like a great coach and it sounds like a great team . . . not for everybody, but who cares. Those swimmers sound like a good and lucky bunch to me.

Let those who don't want to compete swim somewhere else . . . who says that teams/coaches have to be all things to all people? Just those who want to pack the pool with swimmers, keep it crowded and maximize income.

scyfreestyler
July 25th, 2006, 05:22 PM
Originally posted by Sabretooth Tiger
"Sounds like a jerk" . . ???

Give me a break . . . it sounds like his team loves him (stockholm syndrome perhaps?) and they have bonded as a team.

He sounds like a great coach and it sounds like a great team . . . not for everybody, but who cares. Those swimmers sound like a good and lucky bunch to me.

Let those who don't want to compete swim somewhere else . . . who says that teams/coaches have to be all things to all people? Just those who want to pack the pool with swimmers, keep it crowded and maximize income.

Your break is granted.

I guess I just don't think you need to be a jackass to be succesful as a coach.

Sabretooth Tiger
July 25th, 2006, 05:27 PM
I guess "jack ass" is in the eyes of the beholder . . . I saw nothing in the article to warrant that type of label.

knelson
July 25th, 2006, 05:33 PM
The article gave me the impression he takes swimming seriously and is only interested in working with swimmers who feel the same way. Nothing wrong with that, in my book. Hard to know without having swum for him, but it seems to me "hard ass" might be appropriate, but probably not "jackass."

bbpolhill
July 25th, 2006, 05:33 PM
I guess I just don't think you need to be a jackass to be succesful as a coach.


"Jerk", "jackass", "prick"...all may be a bit strong without first hand account. It would be neat to hear from some of Beaufort's current team members if there are any that pay attention to these forums.

The author may have taken some poetic license in his or her description of the coach.

scyfreestyler
July 25th, 2006, 05:41 PM
This comes after Coach starts practice with not a congratulatory speech for another meet victory but discussing how swimmers in the breaststroke and relays were disqualified.


He singles out individuals for not paying attention, calls their technique "sad, just sad" and is described by team members as cantankerous.


Whoever cannot handle the competitiveness leaves. There is no other choice. "They follow my rules or else," Coach says.

Those are my reasons.

It is also noted that he does some rather nice things for the team but hey, I stand by my description.

scyfreestyler
July 25th, 2006, 05:48 PM
Originally posted by knelson
The article gave me the impression he takes swimming seriously and is only interested in working with swimmers who feel the same way. Nothing wrong with that, in my book. Hard to know without having swum for him, but it seems to me "hard ass" might be appropriate, but probably not "jackass."

Nothing wrong with it at all. If everbody is happy then there is no issue, nobody is being forced to listen to the guy. However, it does not change the fact that his personality is coarse and abrasive at the very least.

craiglll@yahoo.com
July 26th, 2006, 10:04 AM
My first college coach would throw tennis bals at you to get your attention if he wanted to tell you something. He was also my boss at lifeguarding. One night while I was getting undresses, my roommate freaked out becasue I had all of these really bright red welts on my back. At the tiem, I was really glad I didn't have a bad backstroke!

lefty
July 26th, 2006, 12:17 PM
"Anyone can join this team, but they must swim in the meets."


Hmm, I guess Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi (who both train a little bit now) would not be welcome on the team. But whatever, his team, his rules!

Matt S
July 26th, 2006, 01:53 PM
I prefer to remind myself that reporters are going to select the facts and present them in such a way to make for a compelling "story" (to use the newspaper term). I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me if the competitive side of Coach Fetters is mentioned more often in the article than it actually comes in to play as he coaches his team. One fact in the article I do know is over the top is the statement, "Beaufort has won every long course meet since 1993 and every short course meet, held in February, since 1995." Local meets, yes, but I don't believe Beaufort has won it's team division at USMS Nationals every year since 93 for LCN or 95 for SCN. So, consider the author an inexpert opinion, and give Coach Fetters the benefit of the doubt.

Talking to people about DQs is entirely appropriate, regardless of the meet's outcome. That sounds like a coach who is passionate about people swimming well, and not on winning the meet.

I will say his emphasis on painful workouts does strike me as a bit "old school" (which should come as no surprise considering Coach Fetters earned his bones as a coach in the mid-late 60s). That has pluses and minuses for a Masters program. Same/same his insistence that everyone swim in meets. On the one hand, we're adults and we should decide when we're ready for competition, and there is nothing wrong with saying you don't care to do so. On the other, meets are a terrific way to focus your fitness routine and introduce some variety to the same ole/same ole workout routine. The fastest masters team I ever joined, the only one where I was slower than the median swimmer, barely even made a ripple in the local meet scene, let alone Nationals, because 99% of the team (including almost all of the butt-kickers) never showed for any meets. That can be frustrating for both the other swimmers and the coaches, and I can see a desire to say to everyone you must swim in this meet to be on our team. If everyone knows what they are getting into, it's fine & dandy. However, I don't think Coach Fetters' approach is a prescription for other teams to copy in toto.

Matt

Mswimming
July 26th, 2006, 02:52 PM
For me, it is better to have the fast guys there to train with and not compete than not at all. In the past year I have gone through stetches where I did not have fast guys to race with in practice and times where I have. By far I have had the most improvements and the most fun when I get to "compete" in practice. By not having those guys there, I think it limits the whole team.

Kevin

globuggie
July 26th, 2006, 02:53 PM
How the article is written, the coach does sound a little tough for Master's, but a lot of that could just be journalistic spin. Like the thing about the workouts being tough - if the journalist is a non-swimmer, the workouts could actually be pretty average and just 'look' hard. It sounds like his coaching style is great for some people, but could be inappropriate for many others.

bbpolhill
July 26th, 2006, 03:27 PM
It would be my guess that most programs (especially those outside of swimming hotbeds like California) cannot afford to turn the revenue away contributed by swimmers who want to be on a Masters swim team, but do not want to compete in Masters swimming competition.

I know that in our club we are comprised of approximately 25 swimmers that roughly break down as follows:

Compete in Masters swim meets (including open water) only: 10
Compete in Triathlons only: 7
Compete in Both: 1
Do not compete at all: 7

As it is, we have to share our 8 lane, 25 yd. pool with local high school teams, water exercise and/or lap swimmers to remain afloat financially.

We try to subtly influence those swimmers who do not want to compete, by letting them know how much fun the meets and post meet get togethers can be. We are slowly winning them over. There are plenty of other options for swimmers who do not want to compete, but rather than chasing them away with ultimatums, we choose to do what we can to grow the sport 1 swimmer at a time. I doubt that Mr. Fetter's policy brings in alot of new swimmers, but probably somewhat enhances the experience of existing competitive swimmers by increasing the importance of the competition itself.

Whatever...it sounds like it works for them and as long as the area has other options for those who do not want to compete then who can gripe?

bud
July 26th, 2006, 06:45 PM
Originally posted by Matt S
....I will say his emphasis on painful workouts does strike me as a bit "old school"....
No brain, no pain.

chickadee
July 28th, 2006, 01:33 PM
We try to subtly influence those swimmers who do not want to compete, by letting them know how much fun the meets and post meet get togethers can be. We are slowly winning them over. There are plenty of other options for swimmers who do not want to compete, but rather than chasing them away with ultimatums, we choose to do what we can to grow the sport 1 swimmer at a time. I doubt that Mr. Fetter's policy brings in alot of new swimmers, but probably somewhat enhances the experience of existing competitive swimmers by increasing the importance of the competition itself.


This is how our team operates, and how I was encouraged to move from lap swimmer to first time competitive swimmer. In all honesty I would never had attempted this type of team. I had a ski coach like this in high school, and at 47 I am too old to be yelled at or berated - esp after a stressful day at work. I like our laid back style - it may never get me to World Level but the past year has been a joy competing.

scyfreestyler
July 28th, 2006, 01:48 PM
Originally posted by chickadee
and at 47 I am too old to be yelled at or berated - esp after a stressful day at work. .

I am only 31 but I feel the same way. Coach or not, that sort of communication is not something I will tolerate.

NotVeryFast
July 28th, 2006, 06:27 PM
What I don't get is, the coach is supposed to be totally focused on competitive results, and the swimmers are supposed to train really hard, yet it says:
"JoAnn Chapman, 62, perhaps the most accomplished Masters swimmer on the team with nine state records entering the meet, sets her 10th with a 7-minute, 45.59-second mark in the 400 freestyle."

7:45 for 400 free?! There's a 64 year old woman at my club who swam 6:18 (LCM) last month.

So the coach is hardly working wonders with his team of committed competitive Masters swimmers.

knelson
July 28th, 2006, 10:57 PM
Originally posted by NotVeryFast
7:45 for 400 free?! There's a 64 year old woman at my club who swam 6:18 (LCM) last month.

So the coach is hardly working wonders with his team of committed competitive Masters swimmers.

:rolleyes:

But you have no way of knowing what her swimming background is. If she just took up the sport a few years ago 7:45 is probably a pretty decent time. In any event, I believe the author's point was to show that it's not just fast young bucks. There are plenty of swimmers of retirement age or older who are continuing to compete and set records.

NotVeryFast
July 29th, 2006, 03:20 AM
Originally posted by knelson
But you have no way of knowing what her swimming background is. If she just took up the sport a few years ago 7:45 is probably a pretty decent time.
Okay, but if we assume the time of 7:45 was LCM, then it's still 37% outside the Masters world record. And it says she is their best swimmer. Calculate the time for your own events and age group by adding 37% to the Masters world record and see how slow the times are. Okay, nothing wrong with people doing those times, but if that is the level of performance of their best swimmer, I just can't see that the team's performance justifies his approach.

dorothyrde
July 29th, 2006, 08:26 AM
Originally posted by NotVeryFast
Okay, but if we assume the time of 7:45 was LCM, then it's still 37% outside the Masters world record. And it says she is their best swimmer. Calculate the time for your own events and age group by adding 37% to the Masters world record and see how slow the times are. Okay, nothing wrong with people doing those times, but if that is the level of performance of their best swimmer, I just can't see that the team's performance justifies his approach.

It is quite possible the paper got the time totally wrong. That often happens when our paper reports swim times. They have no clue about times, because swimming is not a headline sport, so they don't know that they reported it wrong. To the reader who knows the swimmers and knows times, it is a shake your head and laugh at the reported times.

knelson
July 29th, 2006, 05:15 PM
Originally posted by NotVeryFast
And it says she is their best swimmer.

Not exactly. It says she is their "most accomplished" swimmer, probably referring to all her state records. I'm sure the journalist didn't know whether these records were actually impressive or not.

knelson
July 29th, 2006, 05:21 PM
Oh yeah, one more thing. Even if you thought the article sucked, think the coach is a jerk, etc., you might be able to appreciate this fine underwater photography:

http://beaufortgazette.com/ips_rich_content/20060511_legs_tif-large.jpg

Oh my! Take that Amanda Beard! ;)

globuggie
July 29th, 2006, 06:46 PM
Originally posted by NotVeryFast
7:45 for 400 free?! There's a 64 year old woman at my club who swam 6:18 (LCM) last month.

This time is accurate, I checked the Individual Results section of the USMS website:

JoAnn Chapman
Free 400 62 F 7:45.59L 1 LCM 060702TGML 2006-07-01

May not be fast compared to swimmers in other states, but the reported time is correct.

NotVeryFast
July 30th, 2006, 05:58 AM
Originally posted by globuggie This time is accurate, I checked the Individual Results section of the USMS website:

JoAnn Chapman
Free 400 62 F 7:45.59L 1 LCM 060702TGML 2006-07-01

May not be fast compared to swimmers in other states, but the reported time is correct.
I suspect that what has happened, is that judging by number of state records, her performances are very good, because good older female swimmers are relatively rare, e.g. the USMS top ten for LCM 400 free 2005 has 7:09 in 10th place. So some states will have a fairly low standard. If they went through all their swimmers and worked out their % away from the masters world record, they probably have other swimmers who would be better by that measure.

Anyway, I enjoyed the article, so thanks to Kirk for posting the link.

Michael Heather
July 30th, 2006, 12:21 PM
In the article it says that the team takes two weeks off per year, one week after each meet. This means that there are only two meets that the team members are required to attend, apparently neither being nationals. I see nothing at all wrong to expect a club to turn out in force to only 2 meets per year, if that is the stated purpose (charter?) of the club.

It is obvious to the reader that the team as a whole enjoys the social and bonding effect that are a result of the strenuous practices and group efforts at meets. The coach's personality or demeanor is of little concern to them other than to secure the bond. I wish more coaches took the training aspect as seriously. Too many are just workout givers, showing no particular interest in stroke technique, competition or club cohesion.

In some areas pool space is at a premium, this is one way to make that precious space more intrinsically valuable to the team and to prospective members.