Friday, October 29, 2010

Test set

Hi parents,

We will be doing our 7x200fr test set tomorrow (Saturday October 30th) from 6am-8am. The elite group will do the test at the same time but will be done at 730 in order to make it to the gym on time. You are all welcome to join us on the deck to help time and record stats. Please note the time change and activities for the morning. Thanks!

Mike Thompson

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Are You "In Shape"?

There has been a lot of talk early in the season about how "In Shape" everyone is. Athletes say in passing "I'm in bad shape", or "you're in such good shape". I, personally, am in terrible shape... in that I am in no condition for any type of physical activity. But what does it mean?

There should be an important distinction between "In Shape" and "Fit". Fit would refer to your fitness level, whereas in shape would refer to your fitness level for a particular activity. For example: If you run every day, you are fit. You may even be able to run a marathon, but are you in shape to swim? Most triathletes are fit, but can they swim well? Unless they are swimmers first... usually not.

Lot of our athletes do get involved in other sports during the swim season. In some cases, they need to miss a practice in order to do other sports and I often get asked my opinion on this, so I feel it will be helpful to share my opinion in this forum for more than one person at a time.

Especially for athletes 12 and under, I have no issue with a swim practice being missed for other sports. Specifically in the case of 12 and unders, other sports can actually be beneficial because these athletes are still actively learning abilities like coordination, agility, balance. These do not need to be learned in the pool, and in some cases it is beneficial to learn them outside of the pool. What these athletes lose in pool time, they will make up for while doing the other sport. Another benefit for athletes of this age is they do not have to become sport specific at such a young age that they get bored with 1 sport. As I have said many times before, I have little interest in HHBF having the fastest 12 year olds in Canada an nothing else: I want to have the fastest 17-22 year olds in Canada. If they quit before that because they're bored, it becomes difficult to obtain that goal.

For older athletes it becomes more difficult. As athletes begin to grow, the window of learning on the above abilities starts to close so the ability to make up the difference becomes more difficult. For example, Athelete A will gain a general physical benefit from running 10km, but will lose a water specific skill session. So as athelets get older, it becomes more difficult to balance more than 1 sport (age range of about 12-13 for girls an 13-15 for boys). As athletes approach their peak height velocity (the most speed they will get from their puberty growth) dedication to swimming becomes more important, especially since these athletes will gain no more "accidental" speed from getting bigger. This is when skill and skill execution under stress becomes particularly imporant... or as some may call it: "Being in good swimming shape".

So you can be FIT but not IN SHAPE. The line doesn't really apply until you are in your early teens usually, but once there swimming needs to become a focus.

Swimming is a funny sport to try to explain. It is very complex. If you were a weight lifting coach, you only need to learn to train 1 energy system and to build muscle. Swim coaches have all 3 energy systems to train and balance, as well as over 14 athletic abilities, AND we usualy work with athletes for 5-10 years an have to adjust as they grow and change. There is much more to this sport than just swimming up and down a lane. Parents sometimes do not see that and athletes sometimes do not get involved in this side of training (especially teenaged boys... they have lots of other things going on in their brains). Its not all about the volume of training (distance/hours) but more about the type of training (quality/distance/hours).


The following video was shown in yesterday's mental training session with Anne Ottenbright. It's a Nike commercial about trash talk. It has nothing to do with my write up above, but the athletes really liked it so I thought I woul post it here. Enjoy...

Mike Thompson
Head Coach

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday Video & General Thoughts

I would like to start this post by asking you NEVER to click on another Google ad EVER again! Google has suspended my ad account because I have been asking people to click on ads, which I find ridiculous, since they benefited from the traffic no matter how they were clicked. Anyway, Google refuses to pay me for the past 5 months of having those ads on my site and the clicks and I cannot do anything about it... except tell you all how Google is refusing ro pay me and ask that you never click on another Google ad again as long as you live. Thanks to everyone who supported me by clicking on ads in the past few months.

The Elite group is exhausted due to an upage in distance since Friday. Last night, I could tell that things were not going well as they were having trouble kicking off of walls and generally had little energy. It has forced me to rewrite my week and tweek this cycle of the season a bit, but I'd rather do that than realize that I've pushed too hard too far down the road. I have to hand it to these 12 swimmers, they really have committed themselves to the program this season and are training very well. I had a few comments from those swimmers saying that they were reluctant to cut down on the work this week even though they were tired, which I appreciate, but I don't want people beat down too early in the season. We have another 9 months left; we can afford to take it slow.

Today's video takes a look at backstroke starts in slow motion from the 2004 Olympics from both over water and under water POV. Backstroke starts have always been interesting to me because I feel that they are taught in too many different ways... most of them wrong. As you can see in the video below, every single one of these athletes has a different type of start: different start position, differenthead position on the start, different order of body parts leaving the wall... but they all have 1 thing in common: everyone's hips stay still until they lift from the water and everyone's butt and knees completely clear the water on the start. Watch...

Now take a look at this one...

In both cases, the athletes use the starting bar as leverage to get themselves off the blocks and ABOVE the water. Backstroke starts (as much as I am told I am wrong by some other coaches) are dives off the wall. Like the other starts, legs are a major part of it but if your arms do not drive you upwards, you just meet water resistance right away when you let go.

This was something that I never truely mastered when I swam, even though I was a pretty good backstroker. Its funny now when I break down movements I think "Well, if someone would have just explaned it to me like this, I would have been 55.50 instead of 56.50 for my 100BK."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Kaitlyn Fox Foundation

I had a blast last night at the Kaitlyn Fox Foundation's annual fund raiser put on by Laurie and David Fox. It was the first time that I dressed up for a Halloween party since University, and being rusty at the dress up game, I stole some of my daughter's dress up clothes and went as Dora the Explorer (I'm sure that pictures will show up eventually). I was really great to see everyone in a social environment, supporting the foundation set up by the Fox family to educate families about vaccinations. David and Laurie are so strong and have so much heart. I admire them and treasure them as friends. I encourage you all to visit their website for more info on their foundation.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Correction to Yesterday's post and other stuff

I would like to make a correction to yesterday's blog. How could I forget ROMANA MATTHEWS of Laureintian University who is another GDHS alumni swimming in University. Romana will actually be competing with an HHBF cap this season post University competition. I hope that I made this correction before she noticed. So to recap, there are currently 2 swimmers from GDHS Rebels swimming at University, not 1 as I posted yesterday. Sorry, Romana!

Last night, former National Team member and one of the fastest breaststrokers in Canadian history, Jen Noddle, came to visit our Gold group to share some knowlege with them about breaststroke. I feel that her visit went very well. Although less meterage than normal, Jen spent lots on time on body position and teaching. The girls in the Gold group were especially engaged and I think that the group in general learned something. I was happy to have Jen Noddle in especially since I could not get the Gold group to meet with Jen Button on Saturday. I will continue to draw on my network of resources to keep these swimmers exposed to new visitors, ideas, drills and techniques as often as possible. I just don't want to drain my resources too early in the season.

The Video of the day is one that was sent to me by Kyle Haas earlier this week. Kyle asks if the swimmer in the video (listed as Hill Taylor on You Tube) is faster than Ryan Lochte. My imediate answer is no. The video I posted a couple of weeks ago of Ryan doing 50 dolphin kick underwater was done at a swim clinic in California. Ryan was likely not well rested (he has a reputation as a bit of a party animal) and was asked with no prep to demonstrate how fast he could kick 50 underwater. 25.01 seconds with no prep is VERY good! Hill Taylor kicks it in 23.10 in this video during a LC University meet (it looks like in the southern USA). So is Hill Taylor faster?

Does it matter? Have you ever heard of Hill Taylor? How many world records does he hold? He was obviously fast enough to make the final of 50BK at a University meet, but his prelim time was only 28.43. Kyle Haas, on paper, you are faster. Ryan Locte, on the other hand, holds the WR for 200IM LC and has held both IMs and both BK events SC. So I defend that Ryan Lochte has nothing to worry about from Hill Taylor (based on this video).

As I have mentioned several times this season, the fastest people in the world are getting faster by mastering underwater dolphin kick. Lots of people have gotten very good at it. Maybe rules should be put in place for it and it should be considered an event. Can you imagine the level of difficulty of a LC 100m underwater dolphin kick? Obviously a WR at this point would be silly because there are no rules. Hill Taylor rolls (did I spell that one right, Lori?) onto his stomach before he finishes which, in my book, should be against the rules for that event. Butterfly came to be a stroke as a variation of breaststroke, so maybe this is the new event. What do you think? Email me... not that I can make it happen or anything... Just want to know what you think.

In the mean time, enjoy the video below. DQ or not, it is very cool to watch.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

OFSAA and the damage it does...

I would like to preface this entry by the usual: These are my opinions only and do not reflect those of Swim Ontario, The SNC, Coaches of Canada, Coaches of Ontario or of HHBF.

It is Late October and the beginning of the High School swim season. HHBF mornings go earlier (which I love) and the pool deck is jam packed with GDHS Rebels swimmers when HHBF completes their 70min workout. It amazes me how many swimmers show up for the Rebels every season... well, maybe amazed isn't the word... Astonished? Shocked? I'm not really sure.

Many of these swimmers are former Blue Fins who, for whatever reasons, left HHBF to pursue a swim career with less training and less competition in their races. Some of them are new comers to the sport and some just join to throw it on a University application. Whatever the reason it is a mixed emotion for me and I always find myself torn.

The OFSAA rules for swimming are quite unique in that they separate anyone who is affiliated with a club program and force them to compete against ONLY others that are affiliated with a club program. For example, a high school athlete who swims for a club but does not qualify for a regional championship MUST compete against the provincial champion in that event. Meanwhile, athletes who are not affiliated with a club may compete against others who are not, even if that person had been swimming with a club from age 4 until the week before the high school season starts. Does this seem fair to anyone...?

Further to this, HHBF had be plagued with reasonably good athletes leaving in the past just to get the advantage of NOT having to swim against other club athletes... Yes, athletes that were provincial level (sometimes higher) would stop swimming to avoid the competition of other club athletes and dominate the High School meets. Stop me when this seems unfair to you...

I am torn by OFSAA's rules because it does have a positive side... mainly that athletes will join because they don't have to worry about getting killed by the provincial champion... however, athletes still competed in High School ball even though they had to compete against Lebron James and St Mary's. Club athletes still compete at meets where they know they have no chance of winning their event... so what is the true benefit of this? Swimming is a life skill, so I'm glad people join my sport for that skill... however, the Town of Halton boasts the most lifeguards per capita in Ontario (don't quote me on that stat, I heard it casually in conversation but cannot find it in writing), so team or not, people are still learning this skill. So what is the advantage of separating the athletes like this?

One major down side to this is that CIS swimming suffers HUGE! Its great that there are student swimmers (non club) that can do a 2:02 or faster for 200FR but they only train for 4 months of the year... and only a few hours/week at that. Don't get me wrong, they are very talented athletes, but they are not used to the demands that training requires. Once they arrive at University, the problems start... allow me to elaborate:

Swimmer A arrives at the University of Western Ontario for their first year of University. They won OFSAA in their category, swam club until they were 13 and then quit to swim for their High School. They think that their pretty good and want to compete for the University. Here is the catch; Western asks that students make a min of 7 workouts/week. Western also has to make cuts because they can only cary so many athletes on their team. Student A is out of shape and is discouraged by the National Record holder in the lane next to them on the first day. They decide that they cannot maintain 7 workouts/week and keep up with school work. Student A quits. Canada loses a very talented athlete. End of story.

This happens EVERYWHERE and it is not new. I swam at WLU with several National record holders and medalists. We were joined by a non-club breaststroker one year who won OFSAA with a time of 1:06 for 100BR. Pretty fast, but this athlete lasted less than a full season before deciding that he could not handle the requirements on him between school and swimming.

There are obviously different tiers of University teams and some do exist where anyone could walk on (Ryerson comes to mind), but many of them now: Guelph, Western, U of T, Ottawa, Laurentian, Waterloo are amongst University teams that are dominated by FAST club swimmers. They all run with a club structure of workouts and would be like a high school athlete joining the top group of any club. How many high school athletes are willing to do that?

I had a conversation with a Rebel this morning who told me he was planning on attending one of these universities next season and that he planned on swimming. When I recomended that he join HHBF at the end of his high school season so that he could get himself in decent shape without impacting his OFSAA eligability this season, he grew concerned that it would interfere with his school work. This athlete is pretty good. It's sad for me that Canada will likley lose this athlete to "studies" unless he, and more like him, are willing to treat themselves like athletes. If I can graduate University with a double major while training 18-22 hours/week, I'm almost positive smart people can do it too.

So here is the point of my argument: this year GHDS Rebels will get probably 100 people on thier team. How many of them will go on to swim at University? The Rebels usually have upwards of 80 people / year on their team... how many are in a University program right now? 1. Jenn Ormiston now swims for WLU and placed top 10 in 50BR this past weekend at a large meet in Guelph. Great result for her and she is setting a fantastic example for the other 80 people/year who do not make it... but tell me that those 80 couldn't make it. I can show you data that proves that they can, they would rather find an easier way. OFSAA is teaching them to look for that easier way.

The OFSAA structure must change if Canada really wants to "Own the Podium". Its a gold mine here with the amount of athletes in Ontario that end up fizzeling out before their careers even really begin. Arguing against this easy way for athletes to win is not far off of arguing against doping in my books. I say it is time to break this separation and treat Swimming the same as Cross Country, Basketball, Volleyball, Track, Tennis... come to think of it, lets treat it like most other sports. I see no value in this separation at all and see much benefit in it's repeal since most of our athletes don't make it to University, thus evaporating prior to their prime. Swim Ontario must know that most of our athletes are sitting on their couches instead of training in a pool... and yet they do not demand any change and still sanction the OFSAA Championships. The frustration always begins in October.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

LC time @ WLU

Things were a little hectic today with our WLU workout. The lifeguards had pushed the bulkhead to the wrong end of the pool and so the lane ropes would not fit... so we had to stop our workout and push the bulkhead to the other end of the pool. We also had a bit of a coaching shortage which left me a little busier than usual. I had also planned on using the starting blocks for some start work, but that didn't really go the way I wanted. All in all, it was a bit of a stressful afternoon, but stress is good. Better yet, our ability to function and adjust our game plans under stress was good. I still think that we had a very solid workout between 4 groups and the groups under all 4 plans got exactly what they needed (and Gold got a little bit more). All in all, we still come out ahead, as I was able to get a great rate on the pool time from Nandi (head coach of WLU and ROW). Thank you everyone for coming and for your patience as we get use to using a new pool (new for us).

I lived in Kitchener until I was 16 and spent more hours than I can count swimming up and down the WLU lanes. Being there today brought back a lot of memories. The ROW record board on the pool deck is decorated with swimmers that I used to be close with. The memorial plaque of Victor Davis with a replica of his medal is still on the wall. It looks a lot nicer and cleaner after the renovation in 2009 (the bulk head is also about 20x lighter), but it still reminds me of a lot of good times.

Getting back to the record board, Jen Button's name is still displayed proudly as is Victor Davis' and others that I remember fondly. I thought I would post this video of former ROW member and one of the funniest men I've ever met, Takashi Yamamoto from Japan and his insanely fast 200FLY. His record with ROW is 1:54.13 LC. He was an intense training machine who could kick under 1min LC for 100FLY. Seeing his name on the board made me chuckle a little and made me wonder what he's up to these days. Ah, to be young again. Enjoy the video.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Jen Button Clinic

Wow was I impressed with the expertise and panache that Jen Button brought to our club in tonight's clinic. For those parents stuck behind the glass, here is a recap of the evening...

Jen began by talking about her career and accomplishments. Coming from the small town of Fort McMurray, AB, Jen Mentioned that her club's rule that if the morning temperature dropped below -50 degrees (which it often did between October and May), practice was cancelled. Keep this in mind in the coming months when you're too cold to get out of bed and its only -20.

Jen swam with me for Dean Boles in the 1990s. She was a workhorse and often butted heads with team mates that were not working as hard as she was. She had the benefit of training with some other accomplished athletes. She got along with some and didn't get along with others. She, too, referenced Laura Nicholls who she trained with. Laura and her both wanted to make the 1996 Olympic Team very badly. When Laura made it and Jen failed to qualify, Jen was initially crushed, but then realized that she helped Laura accomplish Laura's dream and was able to celebrate that. Her point is an incredibly important one, that I mentioned the other day: We all make each other better; Therefore we all should celebrate each other's successes. This was a key message in what Jen had to say today.

Our water workout began with a general warm up and then jumped very quickly into fly kick. Jen was very good at exposing the weaknesses we all had in the water in dolphin kick. We learned some things about our core, the kick itself and the required amplitude through the water that I think made a lot of our athletes begin to understand the importance of this skill.

Further to that we worked on some kick with fins and breakouts off the wall, which again, exposed some weaknesses. I am not afraid to expose these weaknesses... in fact, that is the entire reason that Jen came to town. Our athletes do not understand the importance of this skill and the applications that it holds. Bringing in an expert to help was crucial.

We finished the workout with some butterfly drills which I'm pretty sure were exhausting. The amount of coughing you will hear the in the videos below and the looks on faces tells the story of a group surprised by how hard simple tasks can be when done slowly and meticulously.

Jen ended with some great advice below. Please take the time to watch the videos, especially if you are an athlete. The information is great and the presentation is fantasic. Jen really is passionate about what she does and offered her time to us for next to nothing. Thank you, Jen, on behalf of the Halton Hills Blue Fins!!

Note to swimmers: This information cannot just be experienced once and forgotten; the information must be used on a daily basis in your training. As Jen said, your competitor is somewhere else right now working hard on this skill... so what are you going to do today to make yourself better?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Upcoming events at HHBF / More reflections on our banquet

We have some VERY exciting things happening at HHBF over the next few weeks and I thought I would share them all with everyone in case you were not aware.

1.) Underwater Speed/Fly Clinic with Jen Button. On Saturday October 16th, Former Canadian Record Holder, 2 time Olympian, former team mate of mine and current employee for the IOC (International Olympic Committee), Jen Button will be coming in to work with the Elite, Platinum and Regional Development groups from 5pm to 7pm at GHDS. The goal and focus of this clinic is to improve and instruct dolphin kick both off walls but also to drive Butterfly in a better direction. If all goes well, we would love to have her back to work with other groups.

2.) LC workout at Wilfrid Laurier University: Sunday October 17th from 2:30pm - 4:30 pm, the Gold Group, Regional Development, Platinum and Elite all will do a long course (50m) workout at WLU. Although we are in short course season, there is NEVER any harm to get more pool time when it is available, especially very coveted long course pools. Special thanks to Nandi (Head Coach of ROW) for making this possible.

3.) Jen Noddle Breaststroke Clinic: On Tuesday October 19th, former National Team member and UCLA Alumnus Jen Noddle will be visiting the Gold group to run a Breaststroke Clinic. Specific focus on skills, dives and turns for those in Gold. If all goes well, we would love to have her back to work with other groups.

4.) Beginning on Wednesday October 20th, Anne Ottenbrite-Muylaert will be visiting the Elite, Platinum and Regional Development groups for an 8 week course on mental skills and race prep. Some parents may recognize her name from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, CA, where she won a Gold and Silver Medal. Anne is the last Canadian Swimmer to win an Olympic Gold. She was also one of my first coaches. By all accounts, this is a fantastic program and worth doing by everyone in those groups.

5.) GTA West #1 has been canceled due to construction at the Mayfield pool that is going longer than anticipated. The meet will be rescheduled for January. This only affects Gold, Silver, Bronze and Intro Comp. More details will be announced when they are available.

Coming soon...

An opportunity for Team Building amongst the Elite, Platinum and Regional Development groups, More Swim Ontario and Central Region camps, more long course training, more guests, more Olympians, more everything. I am a little worried of exhausting my resources too early in the season, but I am working hard all the time to network and get these opportunities to drive HHBF further.

Please remember, attending these opportunities is not like eating a steak... bare with me, this one is going somewhere... You can't just swallow the information, feedback and experience and then never think about it again; the information provided to you by these guests and clinics is there to bring into your normal training. The importance is not just attendance, but diligence.


I want to refresh something that Dean Boles said at our banquet the other night, because I have been asked similar questions this season. Dean recounted the story of the first person he had ever put on the Olympic team, Laura Nicholls. Laura's parents were concerned about swimmers at Etobicoke training so many more hours and being better right now (at the time, Laura was 14). Dean's response was that he was confident that his training methods were right and that he could build Laura over time while others were burning out. Dean proved to be correct and by 17, none of Laura's competitors could touch her. She made the Olympic team that summer.

I think this is relevant because there are competitors of ours that do swim more. In some cases it is ridiculous. There are certain 12-13 year olds that train 22 hours/week. There are 15 year olds that train an extra 4 hours... but my philosophy is pretty strong. Where do you go from training 22 hours at age 13? 28 hours at 18? 32 hours at 21?? Will you make it to 21? Aside from which, will you be interested when you're 21? Why do most Canadian Swimmers quit before or during university when the fastest swimmers in the world are in their mid to late 20s?

Our programs are not limited. We train intelligently I plan to get the most bang every day. We do not waste a single pool block. We will see athletes that will contribute to Canadian Swimming long from today. I would like to use the words of Dean Boles "Trust me".

We have come a long way with limitations on our program, but I feel that we are better equipped to make significant gains this season than ever before. I am very excited to get to racing... are you?

Dean Boles awards Kyle Haas the Silver Medal for Mens 50BK at the 2010 Ontario Senior Provincial Championships in London, ON.

Mike Thompson
Head Coach

Thursday, October 14, 2010

1st Annual Blue Fin Banquet

Thank you all that attended last night's diner and awards banquet. This was a new idea for HHBF. Many other clubs have them, but we have always incorperated awards into our year end party. The problem is that we are now a lot better than we used to be! Not a bad problem to have, am I right!!??

Last season, our year end party was held on Monday June 14th... however, we had 5 meets that our athletes competed at after our awards/year end party. It is a very positive thing that our athletes are qualifying and competing at these meets later in the season and I felt that the right thing to do is to publicly recognize their achievements.

Winners of our new awards were as follows:

Record Breakers (people who broke a club record and held it at the end of the season). The list of records broken last season is so long that I will only mention their names. For the complete record board, please visit The winners are:
Elizabeth Skuriat
Emma Fender
Keri-lyn Copeland
Tessa Cieplucha
Sam Ceci
Kaitlyn Daley
Kyle Haas
Terevor Burwell
Matt Fox
Karl Massey
Bjoern-Ole Schrader
Mitchell Krafczek

The fact that this many records were broken speaks volumes about what our club is doing. Congratulations everyone!

Other awards were given out by achievement. Qualifying and participating in Central Region Championships, Ontario Junior Provincial Championships, Ontario Senior Provincial Championships, Canadian Age Group Championships, Eastern Canadian Championships and Canadian Senior National Championships. The winners of those awards are:
Brautigam, Aaron
Burwell, Samantha
Burwell, Trevor
Ceci, Samantha
Cieplucha, Tessa
Copeland, Keri-Lyn
Daley, Kaitlyn
Fender, Emma
Fong, Veronica
Fox, Matt
Gergely, Kristen
Haas, Kyle
Haas, Nolan
Harris, Clancy
Jaggard, Quinn
Jans, Michael
Krafczek, Mitchell
LeBlanc, Corey
Leckie, Aysia
Loder, Kaitlyn
Lubja, Alicia
Massey, Karl
O'Brien-Egesborg, Loren
Olmstead, Paige
Schrader, Bjoern-Ole
Smith, Kelly
Smith, Ryan
Tarczy, A.J.

HHBF has consistently produced a more and more athletes that are qualifying for more and more things. Anecdotally, when I took over as head coach in 2008, we lost 4 of the 8 provincial qualifiers that we had. By the end of that season we were back to 8 qualifiers. Last season, we lost 1 of those athletes and 2 of them suffered injuries preventing them from competing at the provincial championships. By the end of the season, after losing 3 athletes, we had 10 Blue Fins representing at the LC Provincial Championships in Ottawa. I cannot say enough about the ability of our athletes when they give themselves a good chance to succeed.

Last season also marked the highest number of athletes we have qualified for the Central Region Championships with a total of 28 athletes (previous high was 14). This season, our focus is for MORE athletes to get qualified and to next focus on having the most ever athletes OVER QUALIFIED for the meet.

The 2010-2011 season will also mark the first time that HHBF will be represented at Canada Cup in November, since 2007 when Tasha Truscott competed with an HHBF cap. Kyle Haas will be the first man from HHBF to ever compete in this event and will hopefully do us all proud.

My old coach and Provincial Mentor Coach, Dean Boles, was our guest speaker last night and he said a lot of very meaningful things about our club, swimming and coaching in general. The most poignant thing that I believe he refered to was "Individual Achievement By Teamwork". No one in our club does anything by themselves. It takes the support of team mates, parents, coaches, the executive committee, the Town and just about everyone in it to be as successful as we are. As we celebrate individual acheiement, it is actually the group colaberation that we are celebrating and I do not want that to get lost in the event.

I want to thank Dean for volunteering his time to come share with us. It means a lot to get that type of recognition from Swim Ontario who has become increasingly interested in us in the past 2 seasons. Thanks from all of us, Dean!

Dean said that one of the most important moments in his swimming career was in 1984 when Victor Davis called him from the Los Angeles Olympics to say "Thank You," for helping him (as a team mate) get good enough to win a medal. I think that was a statment about Victor and his personallity, but lets not forget how important everyone around you is to how you make out at the end.

Mike Thompson
Head Coach

*This video has absoluetly nothing to do with what I was just talking about, but still important.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving (Thanks Giving??... I've been out of school for too long). I am thankful for too many things to name on my blog. I just try never to forget how lucky I am to remain thankful.

I am in London right now at Comp Dev workshop#2 (NCCP level 3/4) and Train to Compete training camp and am having a great weekend. I know that my swimmers love when I go away to these things because I come back with so many cool ideas. I bet you all can't wait for me toi try out my new stuff on them (cough cough).

Quick reminder that we have our first annual banquet is on Wednesday October 13th. HHBF familes, please include this in your plans.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Enjoy your day off.

Mike Thompson
Head Coach

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Damn you, Brent Hayden!!

All kidding aside, Brent Hayden made me eat my words today by posting the fastest time of this year in 100FR and being the first man under 48 seconds since the suit ban with a time of 47.98. Hats off to you, sir. Way to make me look foolish. In honor of Mr. Hayden's accomplishment, lets take a close look at this achievment, shall we?

Hayden's previous best was 47.27 set in Rome at 2009's World Championships, just before Canada banned the tech suits, but not before the FINA ban. At that specific time, Hayden's time of 47.27 placed him 4th behind 2 Frenchmen and Brazillian Cesar Cielo, whose time was over a second faster than Hayden's @ 46.91. Cielo, who has called for his own World Record to be abolished since the suits were banned, has not been able to beat 48.48 set at Pan Pacs (where Hayden also beat him).

Cielo isn't the only person to fear here. 100FR is a tight field, however, the closest swimmer to Hayden's time right now is Micheal Phelps, who's time of 48.13 is less than .15 off of his, and fellow American, Nathan Adrian, is only .17 off of his time. After him, the field opens up with people as far away from his time as .25 seconds.

As we have seen, the Americans have treated this season as an off season, with very few of them in top form for Pan Pacs. We are 2 years out of the Olympics and 1 year out of World Championships. The likelihood is that we will see some VERY strong times from Americans (who are not represented at the Commonwealth Games) in the next 2 seasons. Also, we are missing Nikita LOBINTSEV (whose video I posted about a month ago)who hasn't raced since the begining of August and is not even the fastest Russian Freestyler this season. England's Simon Burnett, the defending Games champion, was second in 48.54 and jumped 12 spots in the world rankings to become #10 in the world.

The question is: are we setting Hayden up to fail again? I would say, "yes".

Having someone perform in top form while no one else is, can be extremly misleading. There is a story of an American swim coach that tricked his athletic board by holding dual meets against big football/basketball schools who had terrible swim programs. "Look who we beat," he would claim. "Our team is on the rise". My fear is that putting Hayden on this pedistool is creating false hope in a "Must Be" hero, when Hayden is a "Should Be" hero right now and in danger of a "Should Have Been" status.

Fellow coach and good friend, Tony Cowx, points out to me that the job of the SNC is to pump heros like Hayden and that they should be making a big deal of his season. I agree with this point, but am weary about putting all of our country's eggs in the 27 year old's basket for another 2 years. The media (including myself) really tore him up after the last Olympics, and I don't really think its fair; not his fault that everyone bought stock in him... but I do think that the SNC is doing a fabulous press job with him.

My final thoughts are as follows: Congrats, Brent! Great work and PLEASE keep it up. Next season is going to be tough. Posting worlds best right now is a big deal, but its a little like being over qualified for a regional championship and blowing everyone out of the water... come the big meets, you'll have more formidable opponants knocking at your door. I just hope for your sake that you can deal with it. A year ago, I said that you'll never go 47 again, but you made me eat those words with a great performance in Delhi. You're slowly gaining my confidence, for what its worth.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday's Video: Commonwealth Games

SO far it looks like we're doing okay in India, although we still seem to be clinging to the hope that Brent Hayden will do something, even though Ryan Cochrane is already kicking ass. In fact, that is the point of today's video.

We may win a few medals here, but don't forget that the USA is HUGE right now and are not at that meet, same as many countries in Asia that are not represented at these games... so we may come top 3 in mens 200BK with a time of 1:59... but lets not forget that this season there were 7 men under 1:57 and 6 of them were american (1 of them was Michael Phelps). Though Stefan Hirniak medaled in 200FLY, there are 19 men listed as faster than him so far this season...

I think Cochrane has the right attitude. He says that its about racing at a high level. Granted, I have never won a Commonwealth Games Medal, nor have I even made the Commonwealth Team, but I can tell you that its hard to boast about winning when there are 8 Americans faster than you. I think that Cochrane understands this concept. And since we don't pour all of our eggs in his basket (for some reason that I cannot understand AT ALL), he is likely going to be a pleasant success story when it matters for the next 2 years.

Mike Thompson
Head Coach

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I'm Back!

Hi guys. Sorry I was away so long this early in the season. My family had booked a trip to Disney World and they twisted my arm to come along (hack, hack). I will only mention a little bit about my trip:

If any of you are fortunate enough to take your children to Disney World one day, it is honestly worth every penny that they get from holding you upside down and shaking you. I was there for 7 days and have never seen a look on my 2 and 1/2 year old daughter's face like the one when she saw Whinnie the Pooh and Tigger. Monday night was the most crowded that I have EVER seen anywhere; I had to fight my way through a parade crowd to wait for 30min in line for the Dumbo ride... but the look on her face for that 90 seconds absolutely melted my heart. I have never seen her so happy. It was the greatest 90 seconds of my life!

Anyway, I am glad to be back. Looks like things went pretty well while I was away. I am now here for Wednesday and Thursday morning, then I am away again for the weekend as I will be at the Swim Ontario "Train to Compete" camp in London and continuing my "Competition Coach" (level 3 and 4) training. I will return to my regular schedule the day after Thanks Giving.

On Wednesday October 13th, HHBF has its very first awards banquet for individual performance. I am very excited that we are now recognizing performances in addition to leadership, improvement and development awards. It is no small feat to qualify for regionals or provincials, or even medal at these meets. I feel that it is of utmost importance that we recognize and celebrate the achievements of our team mates and see what is possible and available ahead of you in your swimming career.

Aside from the awards, my old coach, Dean Boles (also the coach of many Olympians and a former coach on the Olympic team 1996 and 2000) will be speaking and presenting. He has a lot of wisdom to share about swimming in general as well as our club's role in the expanding landscape of Central Region and Swim Ontario. It should be an excellent evening! You wont be disappointed. Please order your tickets ASAP.

Mike Thompson
Head Coach