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Of Swimming Bondage

Dick Shoulberg - listen to the master

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by , May 30th, 2014 at 08:53 AM (77 Views)
Dick Shoulberg is out visiting Scottsdale Aquatic Club for a few days working with the coaching staff there. One of our national team coaches started his career with Mr. Shoulberg back in the late 80s and it seems that he (Shoulberg) is now doing some consulting on behalf of USA Swimming. He's spending most of his time with the coaches and swimmers. My oldest daughter, being a distance swimmer and someone who still likes the old school sets, has come home from every workout with great stories about him and what he's sharing with them.

Last night, he did a session with the parents that I just really loved. A lot of the talk was about his history, but it was peppered with great stories of a small number of the awesome swimmers who have come through his program. I really enjoyed those stories as the swim nerd in me either knew of the swimmers or, when he went back to the 80s, they were kids (then) I had raced against.

He also talked a lot about his philosophy and the simplicity of it. Some of the highlights that I think are good advice for parents, swimmers and coaches:
  • He said he never had a practice attendance requirement - he wanted that drive to come from the kids themselves and for the kids to learn the lesson that, in general, more workouts equaled more success.
  • He was unabashedly "old school" and said that a big part of his training philosophy was to have his swimmers arriving at the blocks knowing that they were better conditioned, both mentally and physically, than anyone else they were racing.
  • He had advice for some of the younger parents - until kids are about at puberty, he really recommended they do at least one other sport besides swimming, and preferably that they did multiple other sports.
    • As with attendance, he wanted swimmers to choose to focus on swimming as they were hitting / in puberty rather than have the sport chosen for them as younger kids.
    • He really liked sports that promote overall body awareness like martial arts, gymnastics, dance.


I got the chance to thank him, not just for the talk, but for the inspiration his program provided me when I was younger. Growing up in Virginia, all three of my coaches from middle through high school were big fans of 'animal lane' style workouts and the two 'model' programs that were held us as the best in the US were Germantown and Mission Viejo. Whenever our coaches wanted us to race great distance swimmers, we'd try to head up to the Philly/NJ area so we could race Shoulberg's kids (and, in that era, getting the double threat by also racing the Jersey Wahoos guys).

I only wish I could get Mr. Shoulberg to come to my house tomorrow and give me a workout

Oh yeah, demonstrating a good reason why Mr. Shoulberg should spend his Saturday with the kids instead of me, I took Thursday off from the pool.

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Comments

  1. StewartACarroll's Avatar
    You lucky dog. I bet it was great hearing from a great like Mr Shoulberg.
  2. pwb's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by StewartACarroll
    You lucky dog. I bet it was great hearing from a great like Mr Shoulberg.
    It was, indeed.
  3. flystorms's Avatar
    Wow, he sounds like he really has an amazing philosophy that is conducive to keeping kids in the programs. SOunds amazing!
  4. pwb's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by flystorms
    Wow, he sounds like he really has an amazing philosophy that is conducive to keeping kids in the programs. SOunds amazing!
    Yup. The other point he made was that, until swimmers are in or through puberty, he trains everyone to be a 400 IMer. The idea is that that 'background' training across all four strokes gave all swimmers more options to then specialize as they got older. Naturally, I agree with this.