issue #21, January 29, 2019
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the wake-up swim

thoughts on swimming, coaching, and more from ryan woodruff
Sunset at the Colman Pool in Seattle, Washington. Photo credit @swimmace
"If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes."
-Andrew Carnegie
  Editor's note: This is a bit of a departure from my normal intro, but the topic is personally very important to me.  Thank you for indulging me for a few paragraphs.

Water. We couldn't do our jobs and our sport wouldn't even exist without it. It is the basic requirement of all life on this planet.  Yet hundreds of millions of people don't have access to clean water.  One man is on a mission to change that.
  I have never met Scott Harrison, but I have been inspired by his story.  Just as in the quote above, he found the cause that absolutely commands his thoughts, liberates his energy, and inspires his hopes.
  There about 230 swimmers on my team.  Every day, the number of children who die because they don't have access to clean water is SIX TIMES THE SIZE OF MY TEAM -- about 1,400. That's heartbreaking.
  Harrison's charity:water organization has already made a dent in the problem, but they have a long way to go, and they need lots of help.  But this isn't any normal charity -- they are changing the paradigm for non-profit organizations around the world, using privately secured financing so that all public donations go 100% toward clean water projects. When the projects are complete, charity: water will send us photos and GPS coordinates so we can see the exact community we helped.
 I have started a campaign called "Swimming Coaches for Clean Water" through charity:water to raise $1,000 by March 31 and made the first donation myself.  A thousand doesn't seem like much, but it can provide clean water for 33 people.  You might think I am asking the wrong people -- let's face it, swim coaches aren't typically making the big bucks.  The reason I am reaching out to you is because I know swimming coaches care and's water!. You can donate here or just see my Swim Coaches For Clean Water page.  If you can't donate, maybe you can help spread the word. We spend hours every day around the water.  Let's reach the goal of giving every human being access to a clean drink of it in our lifetimes. - RW
loosening up
swimming videos of the week

1. Coaching innovation at its finest:  Coach Beth Winkowski of Dynamo Swim Club had her athletes working on Early Vertical Forearm in this video.

2. Try some of these ankle flexibility exercises to improve your swimmers' kick:
favorite stuff from the blog
review: Fitter and Faster Tour (local clinic)
  Our club recently hosted a Fitter and Faster Tour (FFT) clinic here in Lynchburg. This was my second time working with FFT, having hosted one of their clinics at my previous coaching stop a few years ago.  Our clinicians were Gunnar Bentz (2016 Olympic gold medalist in the 800 free relay from UGA & Dynamo Swim Club) and Andrew Sheaff (Assistant Coach at UVA).
A few months out from the clinic, I worked with Chloe Sutton and David Arluck to develop a curriculum that fit the areas of our desired instruction. We settled on 6 sessions over the course of a two-day weekend. The first two sessions each day were generally geared toward the 9-14 age group (we worked on Starts & Underwater Kicking, Butterfly, Flip Turns, Open Turns, Finishes, and Freestyle). The last session each day was intended for our more experienced swimmers ages 15 & over. We spent a session working on Starts & Underwater Kicking and one session on Flip Turns, Open Turns, and Finishes.
   The clinic was a great experience for our athletes. Andrew often led the way in instructing the group, Gunnar would serve as an example, and both would go around and make individual corrections and offer encouragement. We had 15-25 athletes in each session including a few swimmers from other teams, and we had our staff of coaches attend to assist with the clinic and to learn from Andrew and Gunnar.
   There is something about having an Olympic gold medalist giving feedback that really resonates with kids. For instance, my son just turned 10 and loves swimming. He has shown some promise and enthusiastically took part in the clinic (full disclosure: FFT gave him a slot in the clinic in exchange for a review). My wife (a coach on our staff) gently chided him to make his streamline tighter during the Underwater Kicking portion of the clinic. He completely ignored her and again did the exact same sloppy streamline. Gunnar, who was in the water, intercepted him before the next repeat, and gave him advice on how to correct his streamline. On the next repetition it was near perfect. Kids may not always listen to us, but it is hard for them to ignore the advice of someone who put their Olympic gold medal around your neck 20 minutes earlier.
   I highly recommend hosting a Fitter and Faster clinic. The process was simple. I served as the local host. Fitter and Faster coordinated the registrations and sent the supplies for the clinic to my house. All I had to do was promote the clinic via email, recruit a few registration volunteers, and help a bit on the day of the event. Though we didn’t sell any merchandise (we were going the streamlined route), that is an available option.
   Even if you are a veteran coach running a great program, I believe that a Fitter and Faster clinic will benefit your team. Meeting an Olympian and getting to physically hold a gold medal could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for your swimmers. And they will learn to be better swimmers too... even if the skill they improve is something you have been trying to get them to do all along.
coaching inspiration (this applies to age group coaches too)

"Hi Ryan - just wanted to say thank you for all you do for the coaching community.  Your intro paragraph in the Wake Up Swim was exactly what I needed to read this morning.  I look forward to my Tuesday mornings, thank you for doing this!"
                 - Hilary Yager, Head Coach, Naval Academy Aquatic Club

"Really, really love the newsletter each week - so many things you mention are hitting home for me! One thing I was reminded of while reading the "intro" for Issue #20 was that I actually started telling my athletes when I was having a hard/bad day. I stopped trying to "hide" it, and "fake it" and send negative energy their way while on deck. For all those days where, it's our job to get them excited and push them for when it really isn't that fun because we love and do hard work, I started "drawing" the good energy from them and left the pool energised at the end of practice.
  I think we coaches believe that we aren't supposed to show "weaknesses" in front of our athletes, however, I experienced the complete opposite once I started functioning this way. They saw it as a strength and changed their way of handling bad days of their own. It's a small but subtle change in "behavior" and thought that maybe some other coaches could benefit hearing about it. Have a great week of coaching!"
- Nico Messer,

Thanks for reading issue #21 and for indulging my request for help with my charity:water campaign -- I know you don't read this newsletter to be hounded for financial donations. If you have a workout, a set, or just a creative idea that you think other coaches might be interested in, please send it to me at  Suggestions, criticisms, and other random thoughts are welcome. If you are new to this newsletter, you can sign up here.

Happy Coaching,

Countdown to Tokyo: 542 Days
Copyright © 2019 Ryan Woodruff, All rights reserved.

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

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