Last week Shannon and I went down to San Diego for the annual American Swim Coaches
World Clinic, held in San Diego. We saw a series of excellent talks given by the top people
in their respective fields over the course of 4 days, from Wed. to Sat. We always look
forward to this Clinic, because it exposes us to new ideas and concepts that are on the
cutting edge of our sport, as well as providing us a chance to network with other Coaches
and even some athletes, (I was able to have conversations with Jason Lezak and Misty
Hyman about their respective training, mechanics and Gold medal performances). We take
advantage of this by taking notes in every talk we attend and afterwards look for ways to
incorporate any helpful ideas into the program.
Below is a list of talks that we attended and short summary of what was covered.
1. 2012 Olympic Challenge:
This was the key note address to over a 1,000 Coaches assembled at the
Conference. National Team Director Frank Busch spoke 1st about building the National
Team from the respective Club teams across the country, instilling a sense of selflessness,
team and national pride in our swimmers. He also spoke of what it means to be a
Professional Swim Coach.
Teri McKeever, who will coach our Women’s team for 2012 in London spoke next about
creating experiences and opportunities for our athletes to grow and develop to the point
that they are ready to meet the challenges of competing at any level successfully. She also
spoke about her journey as a Coach and some of the tactics and strategies that had helped
Greg Troy, who will coach our Men’s team for 2012 in London talked about the importance
for all Coaches to keep learning and to make appropriate changes to their programs over
time. He also spoke of talent in terms of hours of practice, intensity, ability to communicate
with the Coach and receive communication, heart and courage. He also spoke of the 10,000
hours of practice from the book Talent Code.
2. Todd Schmidtz: How to build a Gold Medal Club, How Missy Franklin trains:
These two talks were excellent. Todd covered a variety of topics including motivating
swimmers, setting near term goals and dream goals. He emphasized training all the energy
systems each week, developing team discipline to swim finals at the end of long weekends
when not tapered, how to communicate with athletes during teaching moments,. He also
covered a variety of examples of sets that his team does and emphasized the need to train
for fast underwaters. Lastly, he shared some of the best training sets for Missy.
3. Jason Lezak: Gold Medal relay 2008 in Beijing and training for London Olympics, 2012
Jason talked about his development as a National Team member, how many times he had
been part of the USA 400 Fr Relay as it lost in International competition, and how he grew
from all those experiences to be ready for what is arguably the very best relay anchor swim
in the history of our sport. He then took us through the entire swim, including the fact that
he was sure he’d false started when he dove in!
Jason also spoke of how he trains and took us through his weekly training cycle. He shared
some excellent sprint workouts. He spoke about his dryland and emphasized that he
stretches every single day, 3x a day!
4. Don and Ron Heidary: Character First, co Head Coaches at Orinda Aquatics
This was an excellent talk about setting standards for your athletes and helping them to
develop Character. Leadership, humility (humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s
thinking of yourself less) selflessness, integrity, putting the team first, caring for and
supporting your teammates, being grateful to your parents, developing and operating with
trust, respecting your parents and valuing your family, accountability and making the right
decisions in life for school and swimming are some of what was covered.
Success in swimming can be a zero sum game, but character, inspiration and leadership
aren’t. My favorite quote they gave was, “Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the
5. Nort Thorton: Coach of Cal Men’s breaststrokers, former Olympic Coach and legend of
Nort, now in his late 70’s is one of the truly wise men of the sport. His men’s breaststrokers
went 1-2-4 at last year’s NCAA’s as Cal won the overall Men’s team title. Nort has
developed some new and revolutionary ideas about breaststroke. He calls it the New Wave
Breaststroke. Nort is a big believer on the same foundational ideas for swimming
mechanics we adhere to. In fact, he is one of the primary developers and innovators for
such ideas in the sport. This was tremendous, and there is much we can and will
incorporate from his teaching that day.
6. Misty Hyman, Olympic Gold Medalist, provided an in pool demo of Fish kick underwaters
Misty went over fundamentals, drills and tips that will help improve athlete’s
underwaters. We already employ these ideas but this session was very good and will help
us sharpen our skills in this area.
7. Dr. Jan Prins: Video Stroke Analysis
This was awesome. One of the world’s premier biomechanics expert when it comes to
swimming and aqua therapy for swimmers with disabilities, Jan demonstrated with
underwater video, kinetic measuring devices and graphing of velocities why some theories
and styles of stroke mechanics are clearly faster and more efficient than others. He
destroyed the myth of the “S curve freestyle,” and demonstrated the best stroke is the high
elbow, deep pull (this is what we teach and so we were naturally elated!). Moreover he
showed where the most power and speed is generated in the stroke. Two of PC’s better
Coaches were seen after this talk resolving a debate that had gone on for 3 years about this
issue. Jan also showed the best butterfly and gave us all something to think about in the
backstroke. He demonstrated the correct body line in the breaststroke and how it must be
achieved. This was as good as anything I have seen as a Coach!
8. Bob Bowman: Michael Phelp’s Coach and as good as it gets
Bob shared some ideas about developing Capacity and Power in our swimmers, and what
that meant, and how it is trained. Bob shared his weekly training plan as well as his
insights on motivating and coaching athletes. Bob also shared some good ideas for sets and
9. Charlie Hoolahan: Charlie is a former Swim Coach and now a Personal Trainer and
Charlie had 3 one hour sessions. The first was on Core Training and how it relates to
swimming as opposed to dryland sports. Charlie gave us a lot of good ideas on providing
core stability and then core mobility and how the improvements of both will make our
swimmers better and keep them healthy.
The 2nd talk was on How to Prevent and Deal with Inflammation: this talk dealt with
recover, proper nutrition, dealing with stress and sleep issues.
The 3rd talk was about Flexibility- What Research is Finding and Missing. Charlie took the
Coaches through a series of active light exercises to demonstrate how flexibility can be
improved. The goals of flexibility are to 1) Improve motions, 2) to improve the length and
tension relationship between joints, 3) to improve the neural stretch response to respond
better to motion, 4) to improve posture and alignment, 5)to improve overall function.
10. Bob Steele: Favorite Games and Gimmicks:
This was a great talk with many fun games for teaching and training while having