Why we swim - why we coach

Discussion in 'General Fitness' started by Scott Lemley, Dec 6, 2003.

  1. Scott Lemley

    Scott Lemley Guest

    Comments recently made about investing a year in the pool only to come up short in the big
    end-of-the-year meet obviously resonate with a lot of us coaches. The further one moves up the
    ladder of competitive success, the more poignant the scene. We've all been there. How do you put the
    agony of defeat in perspective for a 15 year old, especially if the rest of her teammates hit their
    taper? If she missed a turn or forgot to warm-up adequately, at least there's something a coach can
    refer to, a place to focus and improve upon, and then, of course, there's hope for the next season.
    However, if the swimmer did everything right and just swam a little tight, what do you say to them:
    "Too bad you're just not a big meet swimmer"?

    A high school swimmer can spend a couple hours a day in the pool for 13 weeks and not make it out of
    their regional championships to state and their season ends there. Not a huge investment and not a
    major disappointment. An Olympic hopeful can devote themselves to a rigorous regimen for 4 years,
    putting their college education on a back burner, working part-time (if at all), investing 8 hours
    each day in swimming, lifting, stretching, spinning, yoga, mental prep, etc., and miss making the
    Olympic Team by a tenth of a second. That's a potential BIG disppointment.

    Or is it? I think it depends on the degree to which they see their quest as a journey rather than a
    destination. There are those among us who might invest a couple minutes a day working towards
    acheiving a goal and when we fall short we're furious. Of course that's an immature response to the
    circumstances. Others may invest 12 hour days for years to accomplish a goal and fall short and yet
    feel completely enriched by the whole process.

    I happened to be sitting next to Mike Hastings, Summer Sanders' coach, after the 1988 Olympic Trials
    in Austin. I think she was 16 at the time and had just missed making the Team by a couple tenths of
    a second. I wasn't even sure I wanted to bother him with conversation but since we'd known each
    other for quite a few years I asked, "How is Summer handling this?" He leaned over to me and said,
    "She's not happy but I think it's the best thing in the world for her. This will keep her hungry for
    the next 4 years."

    I'm going to reprint here what I used as the cover page of the booklet I handed out to each swimmer
    at our high school awards banquet a couple weeks ago. It's pretty much a direct quote from the book
    "Gold in the Water" by P.H. Mullen. I changed a couple words.

    "What you share is a bone-deep knowledge that life involves sacrifice and that its rewards, while
    worthwhile, are often few and far between. To be a contented swimmer, one must first learn that
    happiness cannot depend on the outcome of a race.

    If you are a sports fan, you believe that all sports build character and strengthen human will
    through tests, setbacks, and triumphs. You believe that all sports reinforce the notion that we
    improve ourselves through work and dedication. That is true, but there is something intrinsically
    unique about swimming. It is an incredibly personal pursuit and its athletes reflect that. They
    exist in an isolated, sensory-deprived world, where communications consist of barked commands, and
    external stimuli are limited to the rush of water in the ears and a fogged view of a pace clock. As
    a result, swimmers possess a keen level of self-awareness, even balance. They are not in it for the
    fame or the money, because there is little of either. It's unlikely they are in it for team
    camaraderie, because it is difficult to conceive of a more individualistic sport, except perhaps
    extreme sports like ultra-marathon running or rock climbing.

    To be a swimmer is to be willing to exist within the paradox that you may win a race but
    still fail because a time is not fast enough. Or you may finish dead last and feel
    victorious because a best time is achieved. Those are odd lessons to accept in youth.
    They are odd because they require a willingness to accept that victory, its meaning and
    significance, is nuanced and multi-layered – just as life is. And regardless of how a
    race ends for a swimmer, neither can the clock be beat nor can the swim be completely
    perfect. That makes the sport one of the most humbling on the planet. Ultimately,
    satisfaction must come from within. This may be the most important lesson sports can
    teach a person about life.

    The parallel between swimming and life is intentional, for in both individuals must
    ultimately be wholly accountable for their own success or failure. Much of today's world
    fails to remind of us of that."

    [On a personal note, I've just passed the 10 year mark as the president of a company I founded to
    make a teaching aid for swimmers called "the fistglove". I haven't even broken even yet on an
    investment of more money than I care to mention here. My CPA just shakes her head and asks me how
    much longer I'm willing to hang in there. We both know the IRS gives a new business 5 years to write
    off their start up costs and if they aren't making a profit at that point, the high probability is
    they're not going to be able to stay in business. I've been at it twice that long. There comes a
    point when good business sense tells us to move on. I'm not ready to give up quite yet. I believe in
    assisted fist swimming as a beneficial practice. I don't need proof that what I'm doing is going to
    ultimately be successful because "I believe". Belief isn't based on proof. I try to make every
    moment count when I sit at my desk figuring out production schedules and cost benefits. Of course, I
    simply may not be a good businessman. I won't be happy with that realization next year or the year
    after or five years from now but if that's the reality I must face, I'm prepared to face it. Why?
    Because I'm first and foremost a coach trying to give back to my sport and I've already done that. I
    start and finish each day trying to learn something new. I also start and finish each day trying to
    teach something new to at least one other person. I want to make sure each day has value and that's
    what I value.

    Over 30 years ago I started training in the martial arts and I was introduced to the samurai spirit.
    The samurai walked out of their house each day with their affairs in order. They never knew whether
    or not they were going to die in battle or return that night to their home and family. The most
    successful samurai were always "present"; they lived in the moment with great attention. This is the
    spirit of Zen. No fear (of the future) and no regrets (about the past). I do my best to pass this
    philosophy on to the swimmers whom I coach. I believe this zen-like approach to competitive swimming
    will give them some perspective on winning and losing. I believe I can help them enjoy the journey
    regardless of the final destination. I know the full impact is lost on 12 year olds so I give them
    the "samurai lite" version. I don't want to scare them!

    Each day my sensei would say to me "Real life, real death" to help center me before class. He wanted
    me to practice with full force and not hold back. That message is a little strong for most adults,
    much less a 12 year old kid. Most of us are simply not prepared to put our lives on the line for any
    reason. Yet, to me, every choice we make, in a sense, has the potential to put our life on the line.
    "The parallel between swimming and life is intentional, for in both individuals must ultimately be
    wholly accountable for their own success or failure."

    Regards,

    Scott
     
    Tags:


  2. De Valois

    De Valois Guest

    Actually, Scott, the answer is far simpler than you make it out to be:

    "You came this close. Next year, you'll do better."

    For me and just about any other competitive athlete, much less swimmer, I've ever talked to, that's
    all the motivation we've needed. Anyone who needs more just doesn't belong here.

    Scott Lemley left this mess on 4 Dec 2003 07:46:20 -0800 for The Way to clean up:
    >
    >Comments recently made about investing a year in the pool only to come up short in the big
    >end-of-the-year meet obviously resonate with a lot of us coaches. The further one moves up the
    >ladder of competitive success, the more poignant the scene. We've all been there. How do you put
    >the agony of defeat in perspective for a 15 year old, especially if the rest of her teammates hit
    >their taper? If she missed a turn or forgot to warm-up adequately, at least there's something a
    >coach can refer to, a place to focus and improve upon, and then, of course, there's hope for the
    >next season. However, if the swimmer did everything right and just swam a little tight, what do you
    >say to them: "Too bad you're just not a big meet swimmer"?
    >
    >A high school swimmer can spend a couple hours a day in the pool for 13 weeks and not make it out
    >of their regional championships to state and their season ends there. Not a huge investment and not
    >a major disappointment. An Olympic hopeful can devote themselves to a rigorous regimen for 4 years,
    >putting their college education on a back burner, working part-time (if at all), investing 8 hours
    >each day in swimming, lifting, stretching, spinning, yoga, mental prep, etc., and miss making the
    >Olympic Team by a tenth of a second. That's a potential BIG disppointment.
    >
    >Or is it? I think it depends on the degree to which they see their quest as a journey rather than a
    >destination. There are those among us who might invest a couple minutes a day working towards
    >acheiving a goal and when we fall short we're furious. Of course that's an immature response to the
    >circumstances. Others may invest 12 hour days for years to accomplish a goal and fall short and yet
    >feel completely enriched by the whole process.
    >
    >I happened to be sitting next to Mike Hastings, Summer Sanders' coach, after the 1988 Olympic
    >Trials in Austin. I think she was 16 at the time and had just missed making the Team by a couple
    >tenths of a second. I wasn't even sure I wanted to bother him with conversation but since we'd
    >known each other for quite a few years I asked, "How is Summer handling this?" He leaned over to me
    >and said, "She's not happy but I think it's the best thing in the world for her. This will keep her
    >hungry for the next 4 years."
    >
    >I'm going to reprint here what I used as the cover page of the booklet I handed out to each swimmer
    >at our high school awards banquet a couple weeks ago. It's pretty much a direct quote from the book
    >"Gold in the Water" by P.H. Mullen. I changed a couple words.
    >
    >"What you share is a bone-deep knowledge that life involves sacrifice and that its rewards, while
    >worthwhile, are often few and far between. To be a contented swimmer, one must first learn that
    >happiness cannot depend on the outcome of a race.
    >
    >If you are a sports fan, you believe that all sports build character and strengthen human will
    >through tests, setbacks, and triumphs. You believe that all sports reinforce the notion that we
    >improve ourselves through work and dedication. That is true, but there is something intrinsically
    >unique about swimming. It is an incredibly personal pursuit and its athletes reflect that. They
    >exist in an isolated, sensory-deprived world, where communications consist of barked commands, and
    >external stimuli are limited to the rush of water in the ears and a fogged view of a pace clock. As
    >a result, swimmers possess a keen level of self-awareness, even balance. They are not in it for the
    >fame or the money, because there is little of either. It's unlikely they are in it for team
    >camaraderie, because it is difficult to conceive of a more individualistic sport, except perhaps
    >extreme sports like ultra-marathon running or rock climbing.
    >
    > To be a swimmer is to be willing to exist within the paradox that you may win a race but
    > still fail because a time is not fast enough. Or you may finish dead last and feel
    > victorious because a best time is achieved. Those are odd lessons to accept in youth. They
    > are odd because they require a willingness to accept that victory, its meaning and
    > significance, is nuanced and multi-layered – just as life is. And regardless of how a race
    > ends for a swimmer, neither can the clock be beat nor can the swim be completely perfect.
    > That makes the sport one of the most humbling on the planet. Ultimately, satisfaction must
    > come from within. This may be the most important lesson sports can teach a person about
    > life.
    >
    > The parallel between swimming and life is intentional, for in both individuals must
    > ultimately be wholly accountable for their own success or failure. Much of today's world
    > fails to remind of us of that."
    >
    >
    >
    >[On a personal note, I've just passed the 10 year mark as the president of a company I founded to
    >make a teaching aid for swimmers called "the fistglove". I haven't even broken even yet on an
    >investment of more money than I care to mention here. My CPA just shakes her head and asks me how
    >much longer I'm willing to hang in there. We both know the IRS gives a new business 5 years to
    >write off their start up costs and if they aren't making a profit at that point, the high
    >probability is they're not going to be able to stay in business. I've been at it twice that long.
    >There comes a point when good business sense tells us to move on. I'm not ready to give up quite
    >yet. I believe in assisted fist swimming as a beneficial practice. I don't need proof that what I'm
    >doing is going to ultimately be successful because "I believe". Belief isn't based on proof. I try
    >to make every moment count when I sit at my desk figuring out production schedules and cost
    >benefits. Of course, I simply may not be a good businessman. I won't be happy with that realization
    >next year or the year after or five years from now but if that's the reality I must face, I'm
    >prepared to face it. Why? Because I'm first and foremost a coach trying to give back to my sport
    >and I've already done that. I start and finish each day trying to learn something new. I also start
    >and finish each day trying to teach something new to at least one other person. I want to make sure
    >each day has value and that's what I value.
    >
    >Over 30 years ago I started training in the martial arts and I was introduced to the samurai
    >spirit. The samurai walked out of their house each day with their affairs in order. They never knew
    >whether or not they were going to die in battle or return that night to their home and family. The
    >most successful samurai were always "present"; they lived in the moment with great attention. This
    >is the spirit of Zen. No fear (of the future) and no regrets (about the past). I do my best to pass
    >this philosophy on to the swimmers whom I coach. I believe this zen-like approach to competitive
    >swimming will give them some perspective on winning and losing. I believe I can help them enjoy the
    >journey regardless of the final destination. I know the full impact is lost on 12 year olds so I
    >give them the "samurai lite" version. I don't want to scare them!
    >
    >Each day my sensei would say to me "Real life, real death" to help center me before class. He
    >wanted me to practice with full force and not hold back. That message is a little strong for most
    >adults, much less a 12 year old kid. Most of us are simply not prepared to put our lives on the
    >line for any reason. Yet, to me, every choice we make, in a sense, has the potential to put our
    >life on the line. "The parallel between swimming and life is intentional, for in both individuals
    >must ultimately be wholly accountable for their own success or failure."
    >
    >Regards,
    >
    >Scott

    Tao te Carl "It takes a village to have an idiot." - Carl (c) 2003

    (Kudos to Cap'n Jim Wyatt for this link) BEFORE you ask a dumb-ass question
    here...http://www.speakeasy.org/~neilco/bart.gif
     
  3. Bill Geiser

    Bill Geiser Guest

    On 4 Dec 2003 07:46:20 -0800, Scott Lemley wrote: ...snip..
    > The parallel between swimming and life is intentional, for in both individuals must
    > ultimately be wholly accountable for their own success or failure. Much of today's world
    > fails to remind of us of that."

    Scott - So true. Thanks for the terrific post. Once again, you've produced a gem.

    Bill
     
  4. Diablo

    Diablo Guest

    while we're waxing philosophical about this subject, i thought i may offer the following...

    http://home.hia.no/~stephens/quotes.htm

    I think most people enjoy looking through quotations, and as these are competition/exercise/sport
    specific, i thought no harm would come of posting them.

    On another topic, Dr Seiler's site may be of interest to those of you in
    r.s.s. who are Master's athletes. The site is mainly oriented for running, XC skiiing, rowing and
    cycling master's athletes, but has some wonderful stuff on there, should you be interested.
    As far as swimming, he has this to say:

    "OK, I have to be honest. Swimming definitely deserves to be on any work that claims to be covering
    endurance sport with even modest thoroughness. So why am I failing so miserably at adding anything
    specific for swimmers? The problem is that I just don't know much about it. In fact, swimming
    confuses me when I look at training methods versus race distance. Most of the events are of a
    duration under 2 minutes, yet most of the training resembles that of athletes performing much longer
    durations in other disciplines, sort of. There is also no sport where overtraining seems to be so
    INSTITUTIONALIZED and accepted by athletes and their coaches as an accepted (necessary?) part of the
    adaptation process. Many swimmers seem to dig themselves into a training rut that is only, if at
    all, recovered from after a 3-6 week tapering period prior to competition. "Missing my taper" is the
    excuse on the ready to defend best performances left in the training pool, or just left unachieved.
    If you have been in the swimming game a long time, and have answers to my points of confusion and
    ignorance, please share them with me and I will put them here, on the MAPP. Meanwhile, when I find
    something useful or thought provoking to contribute, I will do it! Meanwhile, go check out the
    EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGY SECTION"

    ....he brings up some interesting points. However, i digress. back to the topic.

    steve
     
  5. >> The parallel between swimming and life is intentional, for in both
    > individuals must ultimately be wholly accountable for their own success or failure. Much of
    > today's world fails to remind of us of that."

    It is a beautiful, idealistic sentiment, but not completely accurate.

    It ignores the reality of doping in sport, which is almost certainly much worse than most
    people imagine.

    But, even here, swimming offers parallels and lessons for life. At the bell trading collusion by
    mutual fund managers; executive malfeasance; non-reciprocal loyalty between employee and employer;
    and so on.

    You can do everything you can; you can do everything right. You can deserve to win -- and
    still "lose."

    But the realization that you've done it -- even though your achievement wasn't recognized or
    rewarded the way it should -- sometimes needs to be reward enough.

    In 10,000,000 years Orange County will have migrated northward to the site of present day San
    Francisco. It will have gotten there by virtue of 100,000 "big ones." And even that amount of time
    gets us only a fraction of the way back to the original Jurassic Park. In 10,000,000 years, no one
    will even remember Isaac Newton, much less who won what medal where and when. Or how much money Bill
    Gates was worth at his peak.

    - Larry
     
  6. Mike Edey

    Mike Edey Guest

    On Fri, 05 Dec 2003 03:16:07 +0000, Totalswimm wrote:

    >>There is also no sport where overtraining seems to be so INSTITUTIONALIZED and accepted by
    >>athletes and their coaches as an accepted (necessary?) part of the adaptation process.
    >
    > And when you ask coaches if they can justify the seemingly excessive amount of training that has,
    > indeed, become institutionalized, all they can say is "well, um, er, swimming's just different."
    >
    > I have my own theory - which will no doubt find disagreement with some here. Swimmers need to
    > spend so much time training because they waste so much time practicing inefficient movement and
    > doing low-value activities like pulling and kicking. Terry

    Not to show too much bias there eh Terry? :) I'd like to suggest, perhaps, that swimming (because of
    the inherent low efficiency) should require a fairly high training/performance ratio simply because
    of the vast number of skills involved, the performance penalties for anything short of mastery and
    the state sensory deprivation under which the skills need to be learned. Swimmers train long because
    there's a lot to learn. The matter of whether there should be better control on intensity levels is
    another altogether.

    No one will ever 'chariots of fire' themselves through an Olympic 400 im. Ever.

    --Mike
     
  7. Sam Hain

    Sam Hain Guest

    Mike Edey <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > On Fri, 05 Dec 2003 03:16:07 +0000, Totalswimm wrote:
    >
    > >>There is also no sport where overtraining seems to be so INSTITUTIONALIZED and accepted by
    > >>athletes and their coaches as an accepted (necessary?) part of the adaptation process.
    > >
    > > And when you ask coaches if they can justify the seemingly excessive amount of training that
    > > has, indeed, become institutionalized, all they can say is "well, um, er, swimming's just
    > > different."
    > >
    > > I have my own theory - which will no doubt find disagreement with some here. Swimmers need to
    > > spend so much time training because they waste so much time practicing inefficient movement and
    > > doing low-value activities like pulling and kicking. Terry
    >
    > Not to show too much bias there eh Terry? :) I'd like to suggest, perhaps, that swimming (because
    > of the inherent low efficiency) should require a fairly high training/performance ratio simply
    > because of the vast number of skills involved, the performance penalties for anything short of
    > mastery and the state sensory deprivation under which the skills need to be learned. Swimmers
    > train long because there's a lot to learn. The matter of whether there should be better control on
    > intensity levels is another altogether.
    >
    > No one will ever 'chariots of fire' themselves through an Olympic 400 im. Ever.
    >
    > --Mike

    Here are several factorts in why so much "overtraining" is required.

    1. I think is that swimming is the only sport I am aware of where the medium in which you compete
    provides so much more resistance then running, cycling, etc. Yea, I know, wind does have some
    effect on running and cycling, but nothing compared to trying fight against water for any
    duration of time, you have to expend much more energy to swim 100 meters as compared to run 100
    meters. (it also takes about 38 seconds longer comparing elite level times)

    2. Its the only sport that I am aware of the actively requires a combination of all your limbs to
    propel you forward, which is not natural for human beings.

    3. It involves an unnatural activity (human beings were not "designed" to swim, regardless of your
    belief in creation or evolution). Yea, cycling is not natural either, but its not like being
    thrown in a liquid you can't breathe in, can barely float in, and told to "go fast".

    just my $.02

    Art (swimming competitely since 1979)
     
  8. Bill Geiser

    Bill Geiser Guest

    On 5 Dec 2003 07:36:30 -0800, Sam Hain wrote:

    > Mike Edey <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:<[email protected]>...
    >> On Fri, 05 Dec 2003 03:16:07 +0000, Totalswimm wrote:
    >>
    >>>>There is also no sport where overtraining seems to be so INSTITUTIONALIZED and accepted by
    >>>>athletes and their coaches as an accepted (necessary?) part of the adaptation process.
    >>>
    >>> And when you ask coaches if they can justify the seemingly excessive amount of training that
    >>> has, indeed, become institutionalized, all they can say is "well, um, er, swimming's just
    >>> different."
    >>>
    >>> I have my own theory - which will no doubt find disagreement with some here. Swimmers need to
    >>> spend so much time training because they waste so much time practicing inefficient movement and
    >>> doing low-value activities like pulling and kicking. Terry
    >>
    >> Not to show too much bias there eh Terry? :) I'd like to suggest, perhaps, that swimming (because
    >> of the inherent low efficiency) should require a fairly high training/performance ratio simply
    >> because of the vast number of skills involved, the performance penalties for anything short of
    >> mastery and the state sensory deprivation under which the skills need to be learned. Swimmers
    >> train long because there's a lot to learn. The matter of whether there should be better control
    >> on intensity levels is another altogether.
    >>
    >> No one will ever 'chariots of fire' themselves through an Olympic 400 im. Ever.
    >>
    >> --Mike
    >
    >
    > Here are several factorts in why so much "overtraining" is required.
    >
    > 1. I think is that swimming is the only sport I am aware of where the medium in which you compete
    > provides so much more resistance then running, cycling, etc. Yea, I know, wind does have some
    > effect on running and cycling, but nothing compared to trying fight against water for any
    > duration of time, you have to expend much more energy to swim 100 meters as compared to run 100
    > meters. (it also takes about 38 seconds longer comparing elite level times)
    >
    > 2. Its the only sport that I am aware of the actively requires a combination of all your limbs to
    > propel you forward, which is not natural for human beings.
    >
    > 3. It involves an unnatural activity (human beings were not "designed" to swim, regardless of your
    > belief in creation or evolution). Yea, cycling is not natural either, but its not like being
    > thrown in a liquid you can't breathe in, can barely float in, and told to "go fast".
    >
    > just my $.02
    >
    > Art (swimming competitely since 1979)

    Art- good points, particularly #2.

    In certain respects the overtraing required in swimming is similiar to golf. Golfers may take
    hundreds or thousands of shots in practice, yet in round they may take less than 70.

    BG
     
  9. Helgi Briem

    Helgi Briem Guest

    On 5 Dec 2003 07:36:30 -0800, [email protected] (Sam Hain) wrote:
    >Here are several factorts in why so much "overtraining" is required.

    I don't think it's "required", but that's just a hunch, not any sort of informed opinion.

    >1. I think is that swimming is the only sport I am aware of where the medium in which you compete
    > provides so much more resistance then running, cycling, etc. Yea, I know, wind does have some
    > effect on running and cycling, but nothing compared to trying fight against water for any
    > duration of time, you have to expend much more energy to swim 100 meters as compared to run 100
    > meters. (it also takes about 38 seconds longer comparing elite level times)

    Yes, but that would mean that 100m swimmers should train like 400m runners. They don't. They train
    like marathon runners.

    >2. Its the only sport that I am aware of the actively requires a combination of all your limbs to
    > propel you forward, which is not natural for human beings.

    Rock climbing? Cross country skiing?

    >3. It involves an unnatural activity (human beings were not "designed" to swim, regardless of your
    > belief in creation or evolution). Yea, cycling is not natural either, but its not like being
    > thrown in a liquid you can't breathe in, can barely float in, and told to "go fast".

    Actually, for a large land mammal, humans are very good swimmers.
     
  10. MJuric

    MJuric Guest

    On 5 Dec 2003 07:36:30 -0800, [email protected] (Sam Hain) wrote:

    >Mike Edey <[email protected]> wrote in message
    >news:<[email protected]>...
    >> On Fri, 05 Dec 2003 03:16:07 +0000, Totalswimm wrote:
    >>
    >> >>There is also no sport where overtraining seems to be so INSTITUTIONALIZED and accepted by
    >> >>athletes and their coaches as an accepted (necessary?) part of the adaptation process.
    >> >
    >> > And when you ask coaches if they can justify the seemingly excessive amount of training that
    >> > has, indeed, become institutionalized, all they can say is "well, um, er, swimming's just
    >> > different."
    >> >
    >> > I have my own theory - which will no doubt find disagreement with some here. Swimmers need to
    >> > spend so much time training because they waste so much time practicing inefficient movement and
    >> > doing low-value activities like pulling and kicking. Terry
    >>
    >> Not to show too much bias there eh Terry? :) I'd like to suggest, perhaps, that swimming (because
    >> of the inherent low efficiency) should require a fairly high training/performance ratio simply
    >> because of the vast number of skills involved, the performance penalties for anything short of
    >> mastery and the state sensory deprivation under which the skills need to be learned. Swimmers
    >> train long because there's a lot to learn. The matter of whether there should be better control
    >> on intensity levels is another altogether.
    >>
    >> No one will ever 'chariots of fire' themselves through an Olympic 400 im. Ever.
    >>
    >> --Mike
    >
    >
    >Here are several factorts in why so much "overtraining" is required.
    >
    >1. I think is that swimming is the only sport I am aware of where the medium in which you compete
    > provides so much more resistance then running, cycling, etc. Yea, I know, wind does have some
    > effect on running and cycling, but nothing compared to trying fight against water for any
    > duration of time, you have to expend much more energy to swim 100 meters as compared to run 100
    > meters. (it also takes about 38 seconds longer comparing elite level times)

    It is also one of the only sports you can actually get away "fairly" unscathed doing it. Try
    doing speed work for 26.2 miles on dryland 6-7 days a week by foot...

    <Snip>
    >3. It involves an unnatural activity (human beings were not "designed" to swim, regardless of your
    > belief in creation or evolution). Yea, cycling is not natural either, but its not like being
    > thrown in a liquid you can't breathe in, can barely float in, and told to "go fast".

    I guess I wouldn't put the "Learning" to swim in the "overtraining" catagory. Comparing
    swimming to running, we have one heck of a step up on the "Basic" skills of running
    compared to running. Even some of the most sedentary adult spends 1-2hrs a day
    "practicing" locomotion via foot. Even world class athletes are behind the curve on "time
    spent on foot" vs "time spent in pool". I suspect that swimming and walking would take
    equal amount of time to reach equal levels of competancy. Just that we've been doing the
    "upfront" work on walking/ running pretty much our entire lives. Of course this is based
    on the idea that walking is not instinct, another discussion entirely, and somehow not
    neurally ingrained at birth.

    ~Matt

    >
    >just my $.02
    >
    >Art (swimming competitely since 1979)
     
  11. Diablo

    Diablo Guest

    "Helgi Briem" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...

    > >Here are several factorts in why so much "overtraining" is required.
    >
    > I don't think it's "required", but that's just a hunch, not any sort of informed opinion.

    I definately do not believe that its required. I think its more a function of the way most coaches
    set forth their training and how they place too little importance on understanding the function and
    role of rest and how to best use it.

    > Yes, but that would mean that 100m swimmers should train like 400m runners. They don't. They train
    > like marathon runners.

    Marathon runners, or even 5 - 10K runners do nothing close to how much speed work swimmers do.

    > Rock climbing? Cross country skiing?

    Cross-Country skiing is IMO without a doubt the most arduous of popular endurance disciplines. Rock
    climbing is not a continuous activity, and therefore i don't think you could compare them.

    > Actually, for a large land mammal, humans are very good swimmers.

    the average Joe off of the street?
     
  12. Helgi Briem

    Helgi Briem Guest

    On Fri, 05 Dec 2003 16:13:52 GMT, "diablo" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >> Rock climbing? Cross country skiing?
    >
    >Cross-Country skiing is IMO without a doubt the most arduous of popular endurance disciplines. Rock
    >climbing is not a continuous activity, and therefore i don't think you could compare them.

    It was an example of locomotion using all 4 limbs at once, not of arduos training. On the other
    hand, it is that to. Rock climbers typically spend 1-8 hours in continuous exertion.

    >> Actually, for a large land mammal, humans are very good swimmers.
    >
    >the average Joe off of the street?

    Here in Iceland, certainly. 99% of the population can swim, say 500m breast stroke. Probably more,
    if in danger. Most could probably do it at 4min/100m or faster.

    It would be an interesting survey to do, though.
     
  13. Mike Edey

    Mike Edey Guest

    On Fri, 05 Dec 2003 18:54:34 +0000, Totalswimm wrote:

    >>Swimmers train long because there's a lot to learn.
    >
    > In theory, you're absolutely right. When asked why Popov, whose longest race is over in 48+
    > seconds, would occasionally train more than 20k meters/day, Touretski replied "More opportunities
    > to practice correct movement." But in practice, those who do the highest volume seldom do it for
    > that reason. It's the endless race for more fitness.

    Ahh... We have reasons, and then we have _reasons_ eh?

    >>No one will ever 'chariots of fire' themselves through an Olympic 400
    >>im.>>
    >
    > In 1924 - the year in which Chariots of Fire was set, you could have. Terry

    Perhaps true, but I think the imagery/assertion is still valid.

    --Mike
     
  14. Scott Lemley

    Scott Lemley Guest

    Larry Weisenthal wrote in message

    <<"The parallel between swimming and life is intentional, for in both individuals must ultimately
    be wholly accountable for their own success or failure. Much of today's world fails to remind of
    us of that."

    It is a beautiful, idealistic sentiment, but not completely accurate. It ignores the reality of
    doping in sport, which is almost certainly much worse than most people imagine.>>

    I intensely dislike what cheaters have done at the elite level to the sport of swimming (and though
    your comment appears to be a general one
    - "doping in sport" - and one I suspect is driven a bit by the latest THG scandal, I'll speak
    specifically about the sport of competitive swimming). In fact, I put a petition up on my
    fistglove web site years ago hoping hundreds of coaches would print it, collect signatures from
    swimmers on their teams and send them back to me. I planned to mail a huge stack of petitions to
    the USOC as part of a grass roots effort to goad that organization into a stronger stand on
    testing. I didn't get many petitions back; some, not many. I believe most coaches and swimmers
    feel powerless to attack what many of us think may be a big problem at the elite level, i.e.,
    institutionalized doping in some countries and way too many individuals using illegal training
    aids in other countries. The thought of this sickens me.

    Having said that, other than what the East German sports directors, coaches and doctors did in the
    70s and 80s, what China did in the 90s, what the occasional Soviet (and American and Aussie) got
    caught doing and, of course, what Michelle Smith went through, I don't know that we have much proof
    of how truly widespread the problem is in swimming today. We may find out when the current grand
    jury makes its recommendations to the judge and BALCO turns out to have supplied dozens of elite
    swimmers with its vitamin supplements. As they say, "the jury is still out" on this one.

    The above quote comes from a book published in 2001 titled "GOLD IN THE WATER, The True Story of
    Ordinary Men and Their Extraordinary Dream of Olympic Glory" by P.H. Mullen. The author approached
    Dick Jochums of the Santa Clara Swim Club and asked to follow two of his swimmers for the two years
    leading up to the 2000 Games in their quest for Olympic gold. So the quote does refer to elite
    swimmers. However, I used it in the context of high school swimming, specifically refering to this
    quote as going on the cover of the handout each swimmer received at my end-of-the-year awards
    banquet last month.

    I'm primarily an age group coach. I've made a living as a club coach for 25 years. I've also
    coached at the high school level for 17 years. I've coached masters swimmers off and on since the
    mid-70s and for 5 years in the 80s was the head coach of a DII college mens team. Though my teams
    have had a slew of nationally ranked age group kids, a couple swimmers at the US Olympic Trials
    ('88 and '00), scored points at US Nationals, and had our share of high school and college All
    Americans, I work mostly with good 13 to 18 year olds, not elite swimmers. I firmly believe there
    is no doping problem at this level. Club swimming in my state (Alaska) is still pure. High school
    swimming in my state is still pure. I'm not an idealist; I'm a realist. Certainly on my teams and
    in competition in our state, "individuals must ultimately be wholly accountable for their own
    success or failure." This is a truism.

    Where we may still debate whether or not this sentiment is true is at the elite level. I happen to
    think it's still true. It partly depends on how one defines success. If success is simply winning,
    and there are those who are cheating by using HGH, THG, or EPO, and they end up beating you out of a
    spot on the Olympic Team or out of a medal at an international meet, then, yes, you may have done
    everything in your power and been thwarted by a cheater.

    If, however, you define success as doing your best and doing it ethically, than your accountability
    doesn't change when you race against a cheater. Heck, maybe if they're superhuman they may push you
    to far exceed your goals!

    As far as the cheaters go, I believe they, too, are "ultimately" wholly accountable for their
    success, such as it is. They have to live with themselves and the consequences of their actions. If
    they have a conscience, they will eventually need to face themselves.

    I can't afford to be a cynic. My own children are on my swim team (ages 9 and 11). I talk with them
    about evil in the world at times. I talk to them about the importance of the choices they make. This
    isn't idealism, its realism. They can, I believe, make good choices that reflect the "light" side of
    their nature. I also believe everyone has a "dark" side. You can listen to that voice and make poor
    choices. Either way, you're accountable. The following is the only quote on the home page of my club
    team's web site:

    Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your
    actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your
    character, It becomes your destiny.

    Larry, in your world, is this not true?

    Regards,

    Scott
     
  15. M.W. Smith

    M.W. Smith Guest

    Larry Weisenthal wrote:
    > Scott,
    >
    > As I said, i'm sure that the problem with doping is much worse than we wish to believe. Even at
    > the high school level. Even at the age group level. Did you know that pseudoephedrine is a banned
    > substance? Because of proven performance-enhancing effects. Do you know that kids know that? And
    > their parents know that? Do you know that swim parents will come right out and admit that it is
    > their kids' "job" to swim? To get a scholarship. Worth tens of thousands of dollars. And even
    > without the (usually illusory) lure of a college scholarship, there is motive enough to cheat. And
    > it goes on way more than you believe.
    >
    > The THG scandal is unlikely to spare swimming. We'll probably find out soon enough exactly why Amy
    > Van Dyken was deposed for such a long period of time.
    >
    > But what about the kids?

    Good question. Thanks for that survey. Doesn't it suggest the possiblity that we have gotten the
    whole drugs-in-sport thing wrong? We are throwing an enormous amount of money at the problem, and we
    are arguing we should throw even more money at it. Look at the so-called war on drugs in general. It
    isn't working either.

    You started by saying you are sure that the problem with doping is much worse than we think. Why is
    doping defined as a problem at all? Why should doping be defined to be against the rules? Why
    should we have rules in swimming that force us to spend hundreds of millions of dollars just to
    enforce the rules?

    Your answer can't be safety, because if the statistics in that survey are accurate (but they are
    probably conservative), then the drugs being used can't be seriously unsafe. We don't see lots of ex
    swimmers with health problems, and all this drug use is being done by swimmers *without* the benefit
    of health-oriented research and *without* the benefit of medical care.

    Why should only eugenically produced swimmers win gold medals? If we are serious about wanting a
    level playing field, then if we are against doping, our positions are once again contradictory.

    martin
     
  16. Jill

    Jill Guest

    "M.W. Smith" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...

    > Your answer can't be safety, because if the statistics in that survey are accurate (but they are
    > probably conservative), then the drugs being used can't be seriously unsafe. We don't see lots of
    > ex swimmers with health problems, and all this drug use is being done by swimmers *without* the
    > benefit of health-oriented research and *without* the benefit of medical care.

    Just because you haven't heard the screaming doesn't mean that there have not been people talking
    about the long term health problems associated with athlete steroid use.

    http://more.abcnews.go.com/onair/2020/2020_001013_egermanathletes_feature.html

    "East German officials hadn't counted on what would happen when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. After
    East and West Germany were united, the West appointed a committee to investigate the activities of
    East German scientists.      Frenke, a member of that committee, suspected East Germany had doped
    its athletes. In his decade-long investigation, Frenke discovered eight highly classified doctoral
    theses written by doctors and scientists who were conducting research on the effects of steroids' on
    athletes.      Though he had undeniable proof that virtually all of East Germany's top champions had
    been doped, it took years before anyone was brought to trial.      Prosecutors indicted dozens of
    doctors, coaches and officials, claiming they systematically doped young athletes without their
    parents' knowledge. The indictment also listed 142 athletes who are now suffering from health
    problems. "
     
  17. M.W. Smith

    M.W. Smith Guest

    Jill wrote:

    > "M.W. Smith" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    >
    >
    >>Your answer can't be safety, because if the statistics in that survey are accurate (but they are
    >>probably conservative), then the drugs being used can't be seriously unsafe. We don't see lots of
    >>ex swimmers with health problems, and all this drug use is being done by swimmers *without* the
    >>benefit of health-oriented research and *without* the benefit of medical care.
    >
    >
    > Just because you haven't heard the screaming doesn't mean that there have not been people talking
    > about the long term health problems associated with athlete steroid use.
    >
    > http://more.abcnews.go.com/onair/2020/2020_001013_egermanathletes_feature.html
    >
    > "East German officials hadn't counted on what would happen when the

    Oh, come on. I expectedthe red herring of East Germany would get raised. They didn't use drugs
    safely. They didn't even know what they were doing. And the kind of forced drug use they did (which
    ought to remain a criminal offense) is the kind of thing happens when drugs are illegal. That was
    long term drug use, where (a) the kids didn't know they were taking drugs, and (b) the people
    administering the drugs knew nothing about safe use and cared less.

    martin
     
  18. Scott Lemley

    Scott Lemley Guest

    Larry Weisenthal wrote in a message

    <<Scott...questions for you.

    Do you talk to all of your athletes about doping? Go over the list of banned drugs (a number of
    which are available legally, without prescription, on an over the counter basis)? Ask them if they
    are aware of doping in their schools or among friends? Have a meeting with the parents and go over
    the same issues? Counsel kids about short and long term risks to health, specifically citing the now
    well-documented East German experience?>>

    Yes. Every time there's news about changes in the list of banned drugs (recently caffeine was banned
    in any quantity) I talk to my swimmers about it. No, I don't ask them about any of their friends who
    might smoke or drink or use steroids. Even though I know peer pressure is a huge influence at a
    certain point in their lives (junior high, for instance) I won't put them in the position of ratting
    out a friend who is not a swimmer.

    I DO hold them accountable for their behavior and I DO hold them accountable for their teammates
    behavior. Even though that's a difficult subject, I tell them from Day One that the "team" is the
    most important focus for them. If someone on the team is using a drug or engaged in some kind of
    counter-productive behavior I ask them to tell our team captains. The team captains are responsible
    for intervening. If they can't get the job done, they come to me. My position is unequivocal - no
    shortcuts allowed.

    We achieve success the old fashioned way - we work for it. Working, by the way, doesn't simply mean
    "trying as hard as you can." That's simplistic and crude. I ask my athletes to pay attention during
    practice. That SOUNDS easy; it's not. I talk to them about doing what's required, not simply what
    they think they're capable of, that is, I ask them to go beyond their pre-conceived notions of
    what's possible. That's a major challenge.

    They eat well, get enough sleep, and do exactly what I ask during practice. If I say swim a 500 free
    with 5 stroke cycles per lap, they all do it. Some can do it fairly easily. I've got a sophomore
    girl who is a great kid and a fairly fast swimmer (25.3/55.3/2:02.2/5:37.0 in the freestyles, 1:03.1
    in the fly, 2:22.3 in the 200 IM) and she's barely 5 feet tall. It's a major challege for her to
    swim using only 5 cycles per lap . . . but she finds a way to get the job done. She's smart and
    resourceful. THAT'S what I want.

    So . . . the illegal drug issue isn't a mystery to my swimmers. It's NOT a major focus. They are so
    far beyond cheating by using drugs that it's simply not an issue on my team.

    Regards,

    Scott
     
  19. Chris

    Chris Guest

    [email protected] (Scott Lemley) pondered, puzzeled, prognosticated
    (perhaps even premeditated), and then, in a very wise voice, sed: :

    Larry Weisenthal wrote in a message
    ><<Scott...questions for you. Do you talk to all of your athletes about doping? Go over the list of
    >banned drugs

    >Yes. Every time there's news about changes in the list of banned drugs (recently caffeine was
    >banned in any quantity)

    Is this true? i had not heard this. In *any* quantitiy?

    --
    chris

    "And so, happy X-mas, for black and for white
    For the yellow and red ones, let's stop all the fights.
    A merry, merry X-mas, and a happy New Year
    Let's hope it's a good one, without any fear."
    (war is over if you want it) --John Lennon
     
  20. Scott Lemley

    Scott Lemley Guest

    chris wrote in a message

    <<(recently caffeine was banned in any quantity)>>

    "Is this true? i had not heard this. In *any* quantitiy?"

    Hi Chris. You know, I've looked for the article again and can't find it. I went to the WADA site and
    they've reduced the amount of caffeine needed to trigger an athlete being DQ'd but can't find any
    mention of NO caffeine being tolerated. I simply can't remember if I read this on an official web
    site like USA Swimming or FINA or simply picked up on it in an article in the local paper. I'll keep
    looking. It surprised me, too, which is why I mentioned it.

    Regards,

    Scott
     
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