issue #15, december 18, 2018
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the wake-up swim

thoughts on swimming, coaching, and more from ryan woodruff
This is the pool at Iona College in Brisbane, Australia.  Photo credit: @jjsinclair, a frequent contributor to the blog.
"When you can do a common thing in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world"
-George Washington Carver

Like to use quotes with your swimmers? Try my free e-book "The Quotable Swim Coach"
 Our sport is not a zero-sum game.  Yes, in any swimming race there is only one winner and seven losers, but each of those "losers" might have been successful even in defeat. The word 'compete' comes from the latin com (meaning 'together') and petere (meaning 'seek' or 'aim at'). Thus, when we compete we are seeking together. To the ultra-competitive this may seem like soft psychobabble, but to me it is a helpful framework for viewing the racing environment. Each swimmer is seeking his or her best performance, and this collective striving helps elevate all. In my mind, this is the principal explanation for how the top of our sport just continues to get faster year after year.  You may remember the rubber suit era of the late 2000s.  When the suits were banned, there was talk among the once-every-four-years swimming writers about how the records of that era wouldn't be broken anytime soon.  Yet here we are, a decade later and the best of the best keep redefining what is humanly possible.  -RW
loosening up
  • The FINA Short Course World Championships came to a close this week, and Team USA delivered a dominating performance.  A few swimming powers interestingly seemed to de-emphasize this meet for their national teams, as was evident from the overall medals table.
  • This an incredible story of perseverance with a valuable lesson: Great Things Take Time
  • Successful coaching requires that your athletes believe in what you are doing .  7 Ways Swim Coaches Can Create Buy-In is a great article from Olivier Poirier-Leroy aimed at helping you get your swimmers to do exactly that.
  • A good reminder from Seth: All Boats Leak
parent article
(I write these for my team, but feel free to distribute them to parents on your team if you wish)
Do You Think My 8 Year-Old Will Be Good Enough To Get A College Swimming Scholarship?  by Ryan Woodruff
Years ago, a parent on my team asked me this question. Her daughter had just joined our team, and was a very novice-level swimmer, even for her age. At the time, I was dumbfounded. I think my response at the time was something along the lines of “You gotta be kidding me. That’s so far off that it is way too early to think about.” Perhaps not surprisingly, that swimmer left our team after that season. I have no idea what happened to her or if she ever got that college scholarship her mom coveted. Were a parent to ask me that today, here would be my more nuanced response: keep reading...
Workout of the Week
(a set or workout not published elsewhere)
Recently, I moved a few swimmers up one group, and thus our lane/interval configuration needed to shift a bit.  We had 25 swimmers in 5 SCM lanes, and we needed to do a strong aerobic free set but I wanted to keep the group roughly together so that I could encourage them between repeats at the same time.  We had about 40 minutes for the set, so we did the following:

8 swims @ 5:00 interval
  • Distances vary between lanes.
  • Distances (with base per 100): 425 (1:10), 400 (1:15), 375 (1:20), 350 (1:25), 325 (1:32), 300 (1:40)
  • Instructions were to descend swims 1-4 to 90% effort and descend 5-8 to all out.
A (Lane 1)   B (Lane 2)    C (Lane 3)    D (Lane 4)    E Lane 5
3 x 400       3 x 375        3 x 350         3 x 325        1 x 300
1 x 425       1 x 400        1 x 375         1 x 350        3 x 325

The results was an excellent overall group effort and a round of high fives upon completion.
product review: FINIS Backstroke Start Wedge
FINIS recently sent me one of their newest devices to test out.  Read my review here.
favorite Christmas sets, practices, and stuff from the blog
a follow-up note on last week's video
Nico Messer of emailed me with a note about the video of his that I featured last week (and re-posted below his comments). Thanks, Nico!

"I wanted to share just a few more thoughts that came to mind when watching it myself again. The girls was a younger athlete on that team and I would also use paddles with the older or more advanced kids for this drill. And although emphasis is on hand speed as you pointed out, I also want the athletes to focus on how they use their body (hips) in breaststroke to generate power with this drill (fins help to learn/understand riding high on the water).
  We're also doing a breaststroke "speed drill" where they start out sprinting with flutter kick, then change to fly kick and eventually to regular breaststroke (all within 15-18 meters). Also focusing on hand speed while at the same time keeping the rhythm high and snappy (from the hips) integrating the kicking action into the fast hand motion."

coaching inspiration
"This is the best video I've seen all day.
Find yourself a coach-player relationship like Steph has with Steve Kerr"

-- Oliver Maroney (@OMaroneyNBA) January 26, 2018
That's it for issue #15. For next week, with Christmas on Tuesday, I am aiming to have "the wake-up swim" out on Monday the 24th.  Any comments, suggestions, or submissions are welcome to
Thanks for reading,

Countdown to Tokyo: 584 days
Copyright © 2018 Ryan Woodruff, All rights reserved.

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Ryan Woodruff · 801 Wyndhurst Drive · Lynchburg, VA 24502 · USA

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