Monday, September 27, 2010


Hi everyone. As people are getting in shape, I need to really harp on nutrition. What I am seeing happen is athletes giving me all they have in the first few weeks but still eating the same foods that they ate while they were lounging in the summer; not using nearly as many calories as they are using now. YOU NEED TO REPLENISH, or risk easy injury, sickness or worse.

Think of your body as a bank; you can only spend that you have in your account. Your body is much the same way with energy. If you do not keep putting money into your account, you eventually go into negative (...don't I know it). If you do not put back into your body what you have used, you have nothing to build and repaire muscle tissue and other valuable tissue you are training to improve. I thoroughly believe that I was malnurished as an athlete, which resulted in my early exit from the sport. PLEASE don't let this happen to you. Take your nutirtion seriously! You're working harder and more now than you were in the summer. It makes sense to be eating more.

And not just more... healthy. A big Mac will give you calories, but won't help repaire broken down muscle tissue (as well as other foods). Please be smart about this!

Another contraversy is when I mentioned that Chocolate Milk was a good replenishment drink: apparently a lot of parents don't believe this, but science says it is true. I, myself, do not drink milk for my own medical reasons, but studies have shown that this acts very well to replace everything you want to replace. Parents, your kids will love you for this! Pack them some for the day or bring it to them for when workout is done. REPLENISHMENT MUST BE MADE WITHIN 30MIN OF THE END OF A TRAINING SESSION. It is very easy to purchase a large pack of small cartons and bring them to the pool when you pick up your athlete. I'm sure most athletes think that there is no better way to say that you love them than with some chocolate milk.

I am sure that there are still skeptics. Check out the links and video below. There is science behind it (although in the interest of full disclosure, the study was funded by a dairy commission).

Please make sure that your athlete doesn't just have a full stomach, but has a stomach full of building blocks... something that will help them recover and to be better! Good recovery nutrition adds years to an athlete's career.

Mike Thompson
Head Coach

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday's Video

I don't have too much to say today, but I thought I would share with you my favorite sports commercial of all time. It elicits a very strong "fight or flight" type response from me. It reminds me of the days when I used to train and the passion that my team mates and I had for it.

I would like to state that NIKE DOES NOT sponsor me, my team or this page (although if they want to throw me some free stuff, I'd wear it and give them some plugs). I am not receiving anything for this post, I just hope that this elicits the same type of response from my swimmers that it got out of me. Enjoy...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Q and A time....

This question has come up a lot lately so I thought that I would answer it in a larger forum... Hopefully this answers most questions people have

Q. Why is the HHBF schedule changing so much at the beginning of the season?

As the head coach (and a parent of young children), I can understand the importance of routine. I know how inconvenient a fluctuating schedule can be, but trust me, there is a method behind this craziness…

Week 1 – Typically in the past, we have not started Intros or Minifins until the second week of our season. The reason behind this strategy was to make sure that the coaching staff had the senior-most groups under control before adding most of the new comers. This season we kept with the same philosophy, but made some necessary changes…

a.) No morning workouts on week 1. This was in an effort to not kill our athletes the first week and ease into things. There is a similar reason why dryland starts in October… we are trying to ease our athletes into the season. It’s a LOOONG season!
b.) This season I kept the Elite group out for week 1. This season, the Canadian Age Group Championships begins 1 week later than last and will finish on August 1st. Given that most of the athletes in that group will be at Age Groups, I wanted to start their season a week later so to not occupy their entire year with swimming… everyone needs a break.
c.) With no mornings and the Elite group absent during week 1, the Regional Development group, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze were able to monopolize the pool making for more space, more coaching a more convenient schedule for most on the first week.

Fluctuating morning times – HHBF shares the pool with the GDHS Rebels High School team which has practices every morning 6:30-8am from Mid October to March. When we added morning practices, a large concern for parents was the 5:30am start time (which I can assure you is NOT abnormal for a competitive swim team). We were already going to extend our morning practices to 2 hours when the high school practices were not going on (for the higher groups). In an effort to make things easier for as many people as possible, we have decided to run the HHBF mornings from 6:00-8:00am to allow for some sleeping in. We realize that some athletes will need to leave early to get to school and we’re okay with that. Based on how things are going so far, it looks like this plan will be successful, but we can always examine other options if it is not. Chris and I will keep track of the situation and make adjustments only if we feel that they are crucial to the development of our program, not as a direct response to attendance.

Another curve ball that Chris, Ian and I have to work with is considerable limitations in pool time. We share the pool with 2 high school swim teams, a synchro team and town programs. At the end of the week, there are only so many hours that are available to us (short of swimming at midnight). In order to compete with programs that train 22hours/week, we need to get creative and train SMARTER. Chris and I have planned out a season that will benefit from increased and reduced pool times (depending on the season) and have carefully planned our training cycles to correspond so that we are training as smart as we can. I am very proud of our creativity here and am very excited to show that it will work.

HHBF was tremendously successful after the “radical” changes we implemented last season. Make no mistake, this was not an accident; Chris and I worked very hard planning how things would turn out. This season, Ian, Chris and I have worked even harder to come up with ways to top our success and to become a larger, stronger team. We are extremely confident that this season’s changes will create a better team of athletes.

I get so excited when I talk about my season plan… I love my job!

BTW, check out this cool video about the Gold Medal winning American Medley Relay in 2008. This was BY FAR the most exciting race ever in my opinion. You could argue that I am backing the wrong team here, as a Canadian, but come on... this was soooo awesome!

Mike Thompson
Head Coach

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Swim Ontario AGM and Conference

Today, I spent a long time in an airport hotel attending swim meetings in what I found a very productive Annual General Meeting for Swim Ontario.

The day started with a talk from 1980 American Olympian and founder of, Glen Mills. Glen had a lot of great ideas on how to integrate technology into your program with a show-string budget as well as how to deal with and fix common problems in age group swimmers stroke. I left his talks with several new ideas and feeling confident that we shared quite a few of the same ideals (we actually use the exact same camera, display TV, evaluation methods and have read 4 of the same books this year). I really enjoyed him as a speaker.

The next speaker was Barbara Schultz, a Life Coach, who spoke extensively to the stats regarding what it took to get US scholarships and what types of funding were available to Canadian athletes choosing to stay in Canada for post secondary education. She also talked about the psychology of the Student Athlete and highlighted (what I saw as) weaknesses in a lot of coaches.

I spent a lot of the afternoon sharing ideas and catching up with fellow coaches. I also spend a great deal of time listening to what a lot of them had to say on various topics. The most valuable thing I walked away from the conference with was the following reminder: athletes are much better served by being instructed rather than letting them hear about how much you know. (That quote taken almost verbatim from Glen Mills... I can't tell you how many times that came back into my head while listening to others today).

One part of the afternoon that I did not enjoy was the presentation from John Rogers and Byron McDonald of the Toronto National Swim Center... not because of what they had to say, but rather because of the nature of how the information was presented. I feel this way because the two of them spoke as if they were speaking to peers, which they were not. They gave instructions such as "Do not swim aerobically" and "Get your kids to sprint all out from day 1" and how not to spend too much time on drills. This works GREAT when you have a team full of National Team members who already have great technique, but they were talking to a room full of age group coaches and did not qualify their instructions. I am very concerned that there were at least 20 coaches in the room that will train their kids that way beginning Monday... It was honestly an inappropriate presentation for the audience that they had; it should have been presented differently.

I'm also not sure how much of a service they did for themselves by telling age group coaches that they were going to take their swimmers from them and that it was our job to give them swimmers to work with... if you ever want to foster protectionism in a community, tell the community that you'll get paid double what they get paid, take their assets from them and win all the awards for their hard and thankless work. I could sense the audience shift in mood after that message was delivered. They were not saying anything that we didn't already know, nor was it anything that doesn't happen in every club from age group coach to head coach, but it was all in presentation. I prefer my steak served on a plate rather than a garbage can lid, thanks.

There were then several meetings including a VERY productive Central Region meeting where rule modifications were suggested for future Central Region Championship meets. I feel very good about the progress that was made in that meeting. I have to thank the current Central Region Coaches Reps, Eric Kramer and Brian Lindsay along with Director at Large, Louis Bull-Barton for organizing the impromptu meeting and for the 14 coaches (3 of which from Cobra and 2 of which from Oakville) for coming together to discuss the problems we had last season and how to fix them going forward. However, I should highlight that out of 47 teams in Central Region, only 9 clubs were represented at this meeting.

I feel very good about what transpired today, overall. The last thing that I'll share with you, again comes from Glen Mill's presentation. He reminded all coaches there that in order to succeed, we needed to produce the "desire to train". Not the "need to train" or the "fear of training", but the genuine desire to train. If we, as coaches, can drive athletes to want to train, we will produce much more successful athletes, citizens and programs. I, personally, believe that we are doing a great job of that at HHBF. As today comes to an end, I feel that I can sleep well knowing that many of our athletes will come on Monday, not because they need to or that they are afraid not to... but that they genuinely want to.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Video Time!!

Welcome back, everyone. This week is the first week back for most. Things are actually going quite smoothly. I believe that our set up this season will allow for the most improvement in this club's history. I am very excited and we've only barely started.

For this week's video, I dug back in the vault for some footage of Lenny Krayzelburg. For those of you unfamiliar, his bio is here ( but quite simply, Lenny was the world's fastest backstroker before passing the torch to Aaron Peirsol , the new world backstroke king.

I chose this video not because Lenny was a hero of mine when I swam (I once raced in the lane next to him in a meet)and not because he was a great backstroker, but again to highlight the underwater kick aspect of the race. Lenny highlights many of the reasons that he was more powerful than his competitors with his underwater portion. Please note how close his ankles pull towards his butt and how far they flex out on the kick. His range is great; he's not just wiggling his legs. Lots of things to think about.

Along this vain, I am working on a clinic that will bring in one of the best underwater kickers in Canadian history on our deck to work with our athletes to improve this. This will likely take place early in October. More details as they become available. One of my main goals this season is to improve the underwater aspect of everyone's race. That is where we were getting beat most last season.

Without any further ado, please enjoy Lenny doing what he did best...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Merry Swim Season

It was pretty fun to see most of you at the mall tonight for registration. It always makes me excited for the new season when I see that most of you are much bigger than last season and are excited to get back in the water and start training again. Based on the numbers we have so far, the way we have set up the groups and schedule should be perfect.

We have a very tactical plan for this season in all groups; which is to say that we know what we want to achieve and know how we intend to achieve it. The addition of Ian Cunningham to the Silver and Bronze groups is a great strength for many reasons... first and foremost that we have more expertise working in the younger groups. Ian has worked in Etobicoke and has developed many of their top level swimmers from a young age. I am really excited to see the progress kids in his group make.


It is Wednesday and I promised to post some video every Wednesday. A couple of weeks ago, I posted video of Kyle with the velocity results over time. Below is a video of Russian sprint Freestyler Nikita Konovalov. The interesting thing about this video is that with a static underwater and above water camera you can actually see his speed and how fast he is moving. Above and beyond that, they overlay his speed both in graph form and a real time speedometer on the right hand side. Nikita averages approx 1.5m/s - 1.7m/s when he settles on surface speed but pay attention to his dolphin kick off of the walls: he peaks well over 2.0m/s off of the walls with his powerful dolphin kick. (If you remember, Kyle Haas was 2.08m/s off his dive, then dropped to between 1.6m/s and 1.4m/s excluding his wall which was 1.8m/s).

Todays lesson: They limit how much dolphin kick you are allowed to do off the walls (15m) for a reason: Its bloody fast!! Learn to kick faster and MAXIMIZE it, especially off of the walls.

Need more proof? Check out Ryan Lochte doing 50BK in 25.0 seconds. The fastest athletes are learning how to swim fast where most of you least suspect it. This is where we need to get better!

See you soon.

Mike Thompson
Head Coach

Monday, September 6, 2010

T'was the Night Before School...

Good luck tonight (parents) and tomorrow (athletes) with your first day of school. I look forward to seeing you all very soon. Just imagine the face above as you get closer and closer to the season... That was my first and last attempt of vanity.

See you all soon!

Mike Thompson
Head Coach

Friday, September 3, 2010

Attention Young Canadian Swimmers: Your Competitors Are Not Unbeatable!

I do not have stats on this, but one of the most frequent comments I have heard from Blue Fins swimmers over the years is likely something along the lines of "I can't beat (insert name of well known fast swimmer here)"... well think again...

This past week in Hawaii, the 2010 Jr Pan Pacific Swimming Championships took place. This was an open meet (no age groups) and Canada sent a team of 40 people. The team included the following athletes...

"The Canadian Junior team consists of (Name, Age, Residence) Kourosh AHANI, 17, Richmond Hill, ON; Eric ANDERSON, 18, Calgary, AB; Jeremy BAGSHAW, 18, Saanichton, BC; Chad BOBROSKY, 17, Calgary, AB; Evan BRODERICK, 17, Vancouver, BC; Antoine BUJOLD, 15, Trois Rivieres, QC; Will BROTHERS, 15, Victoria, BC; Antoine DAVID, , Montreal, QC; Lyam DIAS, 17, L'Original, QC; David DIMITROV, 18, Calgary, AB; Shane DOWNEY, 18, Calgary, AB; Grant HARDING, 18, Guelph, ON; Richard FUNK, 17, Edmonton, AB; Matthew GRILLO, 17, Kirkland, QC; Nick KOSTIUK, 17, Edmonton, AB; Matt KWATYRA, 16, London, ON; Kyle MCINTEE, 17, Plano, TX; Alec PAGE, 16, Victoria, BC; Zac PARKES, 17, Victoria; Jeffrey SWANSTON, 16, Newmarket, ON; Kyle TROSKOT, 18, Lethbridge, AB; Keegan ZANATTA, 17, Victoria, BC on the boys team.

The girls team will be represented by: Alyson ACKMAN, 17, Pointe Claire, QC; Samantha COREA, 16, Vancouver, BC; Vanessa CHARRON, 18, Quebec, QC; Lindsay DELMAR, 17, Calgary, AB; Lauren EARP, 16, Toronto, ON; Annie HARRISON, 16, Oakville, ON; Caitlin HODGE, 15, Toronto, ON; Natasha FUNG, 17, St. Albert, AB; Karyn JEWEL, 16, Gatineau, QC; Jacqueline KEIRE, 15, Etobicoke, ON; Brittany MACLEAN, 16, Etobicoke, ON; Sandrine MAINVILLE, 18, Boucherville, QC; Rachel NICOL, 17, Lethbridge, AB; Marni OLDERSHAW, 15, Oakville, ON; Fionnuala PIERSE, 18, Edmonton, AB; Beatrice PINEAU, 17, Quebec, QC; Kierra SMITH, 16, Kelowna, BC; Brooklynn SNODGRASS, 16, Calgary, AB; Noemie THOMAS, 14, Vancouver, BC; Tera VAN BEILEN, 17, Oakville, ON; Chantal VAN LANDEGHEM, 16, Winnipeg, MB"

Many of those athletes are considered "UNBEATABLE" by many... But how do they stack up against the best in the Pacific Rim? Not that great as it turns out. I remember a couple of weeks ago I posted comments about the Senior Pan Pac team and how, at the time, I had hope for Canada's youth to make big gains in the next couple of years to help pick up the competitiveness of our team. Our Junior Pan Pac team ended up 4th in this meet and (someone will have to double check my medal count) won only 7 medals; Respectable, but not too much different from the senior team.

Young Swimmers, I have to ask you this favor:

Take EVERY opportunity you have to be great and take full advantage of it. How dare you not take full advantage of being named to a selection team or qualifying for a championship meet or even just making a final. We cannot leave it to someone else to shine when it matters. If not for you, get better to make other people better. We cannot be afraid to race people faster than us. We cannot shy away from any challenges... if we do; we will continue to be passed and beaten when it counts. Old habits are hard to break.

Remember: No one is unbeatable... except for Michael Phelps.

Mike Thompson
Head Coach

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Interesting Post Yesterday, Folks?

Hey everyone. I noticed that visits to spiked yesterday and today and tend to spike when I post videos which implies 2 things:
1.) You guys LOVE videos
2.) Visitors stayed up to 2 minutes longer (on average) which meant that they were actually viewing the material and trying to make sense of it.

Thats right, I collect stats on visits and time spent and such. I'm a big technology nerd.

Anyway, I hear your implicit requests and would like to introduce a couple of new features that I want to try out on this blog.

1.) Every Wednesday evening (usually late, ready in time for Thursday morning coffee) I would like to post a new swimming video from our team, from Team Canada or from something interesting happening in the world. Lets call this "Coach Mike's Video Bite".

2.) I want to keep this interactive and would like to answer questions posed to me be email as often as possible. Please email questions to me at I will answer as many as possible (provided that they would be of interest to others; I don't think that too many people are interested in the last thing I ate for lunch or my shoe size).

With those two things in mind, I humbly submit for your approval: The man that I feel should be the face of Swimming Canada... Ryan Chochran in "The Ryan Chochran Biography".

As always, please check out our friends over at Halton Hills Radio D-Moos ( They have been reporting Blue Fins news all over the summer and will be reporting news as we go this season... AND doing a great job of it!

Also, please support my sponsors that make this page possible and click on all and any ads you can.

Thanks everyone for visiting. I will be at registration and assessments next week and hope to see many of you there... and I will keep this interesting for you if you promise to visit my blog as often as possible. Feel free to also email me suggestions of things you would like to see.

Mike Thompson
Head Coach