Monday, February 28, 2011

SC Season Wrap Up

A pretty good finish to the 2011 SC Provincial Championships in Ottawa, ON. Sunday started with an okay 100BR from Aaron Brautigam, but a new club record from Kyle Haas in the same event. John Nucomb’s old club record of 1:10.94 had been replaced with Kyle’s new time of 1:10.36 (which also got him 5th seed into finals). An equal to PB for Mitchell Krafczek in 200BK (he finished 9th overall). Kyle dragged through the event but was still able to wrangle 3rd seed into finals that night (2:12.13). Trevor Burwell’s 800 was about 8 seconds away from his previous best and club record, while Elizabeth Skuriat removed 2 seconds from her’s (new club record of 4:39.26). She finished 34th.

Bjoern-Ole Schrader began the afternoon for the 13 and unders. His 200BK was about .5 seconds better than his previous best. He finished 13th. Nolan Haas finished his weekend with a 10 second PB in 100BR (1:22.35, and less than 1 second off of the club record). He finished 12th overall. Britney Dortona had a 1.5second PB in her 400FR, finishing a great weekend with a 14th place finish. Keri-Lyn Copeland was off of her best and finished 17th.

The evening started well. Kyle was in 2 finals and stood to possibly medal in both. 100BR was going to be a tough field (especially in an off event) and it would be the first head to head match up between Kyle and his adversary, Daniel Kuiak of Milton (by way of another team). There was only going to be about 15min between 100BR and 200BK so it was going to be a very tough performance. It was strategy time.

Obviously I am not going to detail our strategy for that duo of races, but I will describe the sequence of events that ended with a fist pump and a hard high five.
• 100BR was a tough field. Kyle was out under current SC club record in 50BR (32.20, unofficial record by almost a full second) and was physically exhausted in his arms by the end. Kyle finished in 5th place with a new club record of 1:08.14.
• He was tired and I could tell that 200BK was not on his list of things that he wanted to do next, but he also knew that he needed a good time in the event going forward. Quick warm down, followed by a refresher on key strategic points, quick pep talk and back behind the blocks to face off against his rivals.
• The 200 started well. Kyle in lane 3, Brandon Bronson from OSHAC in lane 4 (#1 seed) and Daniel Kuiak of MMST in lane 5 (#2 seed). Daniel and Kyle lead the first 50 together; Daniel had a slight lead which built on the entire field up to about 135m. Kyle’s 3rd 50 was what we expected, but I did not expect what was coming next. With Daniel leading by about a second at the 150 wall, Kyle burst off of the 150 wall, tightened his core and sped up his stroke rate, quickly gaining on Daniel (remember that Daniel was 2 lanes over and over a second ahead, he did not see Kyle coming). At the 175 wall, both turn at the same time, Kyle gets off the wall first, Daniel sees and there is very little he can do, as Kyle has a very strong underwater kick off the wall. With a little under 20m left, Kyle keeps steady, strokes hard and finishes in first. 2:06.34, new club record and his 4th gold medal of the weekend.

This event hammered his and our presence home for the weekend. We beat Milton at Halton Cup. We had already beaten Milton on the weekend at Provincials and now he had risen from the ashes to beat them head to head… because twice is never enough. HHBF finished in 28th place which is very good considering that we were missing Karl Massey and Matt Fox, both major contributors. MMST finished 37th. A grand total of 92teams were present and only 73 of them scored. There are 144 teams in Ontario.

The fact that Kyle finished out the weekend in this fashion really speaks volumes about the character that I am trying to develop in this club. I’ve said several times in the past: “Good enough is not good enough”. Had we decided that we couldn’t beat a rival who was significantly ahead of our best time in that event, or that we were not competitive enough to race the 100BR to our full capacity, we would have made a totally different statement: “Meh, whatever”. I rarely hear champions say that. Had you all seen the teams vying to beat other teams, thoughts like “meh, whatever” wouldn’t have entered your mind.

This is a good time for reflection, as the season is half way done. HHBF did some remarkable things so far this season and in the last 2.5 that I’ve been at the hull. I’m pretty impressed by that. The thing that still concerns me is the the sense of accomplishment before we actually have done anything. Sometimes when it's time to do something, a defeatist attitude seems to hold us back from being as good as we can be (this meet is really fast, I can't beat these guys). Other times we think we're working hard... until we see how hard others are working. I love that everyone is excited to be a Blue Fin. That was step 1. Step 2 is to make everyone have pride in what they’re doing and what being a Blue Fin represents.

Yes, being a regional qualifier is pretty good. Yes, being a provincial qualifier is pretty good. Yes, qualifying for anything is pretty good I guess… but are you a participant or a competitor at those meets? Our team needs more competitors.

- Competitors are fierce: they don’t skip a morning because they stayed up too late playing video games. They don’t back off because they’re afraid that something will be hard or uncomfortable.

- Competitors make decisions: they understand the relationship between risk and reward (I may not be able to play on that other team in order to be as good as I want to be in the water. I may not be able to do that thing on the weekend because it will interfere with my training). How much have you already missed? How much have your competitors missed?

- Competitors challenge others: They encourage their team mates to be better than they are. They stand in the way of their team mates and failure. That is to say: they don’t let their team mates fail… not even in practices.

- Competitors take responsibility: They know how much their team mates count of them and take that responsibility seriously.

- Competitors are interested: Rarely are they not watching what’s going on in the pool or with their team mates when they are around them.

- Competitors are proud of what they represent: There is no shame in being proud of what you do. There is no shame in working hard. There is no shame in our club.

I think it is time to remember how far we have come and what we have done. March is a rough time of year when you may be questioning your own motivation or wondering where you go from here. This is my challenge to you:

BECOME A COMPETITOR. You can make a difference in the atmosphere in the club and the athletes around you. Being quiet and waiting for things to happen is not a competitive attitude.
BE A BLUE FIN. Its not just a thing you do for a few hours/week: There is pride in wearing the Fin. Its who you are.
LIVE IT. Don’t just swim, be a swimmer.

One by One the 27 teams ahead of us will start taking note of what HHBF is capable of. I watched 8 teams in the top 20 overachieve this weekend, simply because they believed that they were good. Those teams are full of competitors. We’d better start stocking up on competitors too.

Love this video! Perhaps enough to start buying Nike products again...