issue #27, March 12, 2019

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the wake-up swim

thoughts on swimming, coaching, and more from ryan woodruff
“Quite the story behind this pool — built in 1956 as a 55-yard pool, it was the first freshwater chlorinated pool in Adelaide (Australia) and was frequented by the likes of Dawn Fraser”
Photo credit: Jan Victor (@swimcoach.jan)
“One man's ceiling is another man's floor"
-Paul Simon
 Today is 500 days from the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.  Each day at practice, we keep a dry-erase countdown of the days until future big meets, and it seems not that long ago that Tokyo was a thousand days away.
 Last week, at our local championship meet, some of my swimmers were in shock as they watched a national age group record be shattered.  "That's faster than most of the guys on our team! How did she go that fast? I can't even understand how that is possible!" they exclaimed, much to my chagrin.
 I was impressed too, but as a coach I tend to look at the performance more mechanically ... "Well, she did 8 very effective dolphin kicks off the wall, was able to complete a 25 in 6 cycles, had good turns... If you could learn to do those things, you could be that fast too!"  Obviously, every elite swimmer was once a beginner and then was taught, learned, and trained to do all of the skills required to perform at their current level. In order to get to that level, the swimmer doesn't have to see every step along the way right now, but she must be able to imagine that it is possible.
  That's where I think many swimmers (and sometimes coaches) get defeated before they even start -- they see someone really fast (i.e. significantly faster than they are right now) and think "Wow, she's just so talented! It must be so easy for her...I could never be that fast" and then go back to the same old routine of training to get a tiny bit better at marginally challenging goals.  It is our job as coaches to see through the ceiling, stoke the imagination and show the athlete how to get there. 
- RW
loosening up
swimming videos of the week
1. UF's Steve Jungbluth shared a helpful freestyle drill this week:

2. This video is a little dramatic, but I love the message.  "WHY do you coach?"
favorite stuff from the blog
parent article

The Importance of a Championship Meet  by Ryan Woodruff
(This is part of my ongoing series of articles that I am writing for the parents of my team and sharing with you here.  My hope is that they may also be able to help your team.)

The coach has just sent out the schedule for the upcoming season, and you are trying to figure out what meets your swimmer should be going to.  Where to start? Here is my advice.

Start at the end of the season. This is typically when the "championship" meets will be held.  These meets are where coaches and swimmers aim to achieve a peak performance.  Sure, we want to be as fast as we can at every meet, but most meets throughout the season serve as a sort of checkpoint to see how a swimmer is doing on learning a new technique or race strategy and honing his or her competitive skills. We might pick up some faster times along the way, but at the championship meet our aim is to put together all that we have learned into our best performance.

So as you look at the schedule, try to understand which championship meet or meets your swimmer might expect to attend.  Usually, time standards will dictate which one is appropriate, and your swimmer might swim new best times during the season and qualify for the next level of meet.  But make sure you plan to go to at least one championship meet for the following reasons:
  • Championship meets are the most fun! We typically have a large group and when someone swims fast, it gets everyone more excited!
  • We get to swim against the best competition, which helps us draw out the best from ourselves -- "iron sharpens iron."
  • Having a championship meet on the schedule gives swimmers something specific to work toward and a goal to achieve. This delayed gratification between the work required to achieve a goal and the moment that the goal becomes reality is a valuable skill to learn.
Once you have a handle on which championship meet or meets your swimmer will attend, work backwards from there.  It is ok if a swimmer can't attend every meet -- sometimes there are schedule conflicts or financial considerations that prevent this.  Try to have a swimmer attend at least 3-4 in season meets (in short course, maybe 2-3 in long course) so that he or she can test the skills and fitness that have been hard-earned at practice.  If you aren't sure which meets are best for your swimmer, ask your swimmer's coach.  When it comes to meets, the more the merrier, but make sure you put that first priority on an end-of-season championship meet!
tweet of the week
That's all for issue #27.  If you have a workout or practice you wouldn't mind sharing, send it my way at  If you are enjoying "the wake-up swim" or have an idea, suggestion or criticism, my inbox is open.  Not a subscriber? You can sign up here or see our archives here.

Happy Coaching,

Countdown to Tokyo:
500 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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