Monday, April 30, 2012

HHBF's All Time Rankings

I thought it would be fun to examine the top times in HHBF history today. As club records become harder and harder to break (not a bad thing at all!), I think it is a good time to measure depth; more specifically, are our current swimmers the fastest that this club has ever had? Check out the following events. Note the following:
i.) This info is pulled from the SNC database. Some meets have not yet been uploaded so not all info is 100% accurate to date.
ii.) A name can only appear once. For example, Kyle Haas has gone 58.8 for 100BK 5 times, but only his best time of 57.81 appears, not all of the other times done. This is depth of athletes and their best times only.
iii.) Where do you stand? I challenge you to make the top 10 in 3 events before your career is over. Already have 3? See how many you can rack up and how high you can be. Competition is what makes this sport great!

*Please note that as of posting, these rankings do not include results from Div II Team Champs, but should be updated shortly.

Mens 50FR sc
Mens 50FR lc
Womens 50FR sc
Womens 50FR lc
Mens 100FR sc
Mens 100FR lc
Womens 100FR sc
Womens 100FR lc
Mens 200FR sc
Mens 200FR lc
Womens 200FR sc
Womens 200FR lc
Mens 400FR sc
Mens 400FR lc
Womens 400FR sc
Womens 400FR lc
Mens 800FR sc
Mens 800FR lc
Womens 800FR sc
Womens 800FR lc
Mens 1500FR sc *Only 14 names here... easy to move into the top 10.
Mens 1500FR lc *only 7 names
Womens 1500FR sc
Womens 1500FR lc
Mens 100BK sc
Mens 100BK lc
Womens 100BK sc
Womens 100BK lc
Mens 200BK sc
Mens 200BK lc
Womens 200BK sc
Womens 200BK lc
Mens 100BR sc
Mens 100BR lc
Womens 100BR sc
Womens 100BR lc
Mens 200BR sc
Mens 200BR lc
Womens 200BR sc
Womens 200BR lc
Mens 100FLY sc
Mens 100FLY lc
Womens 100FLY sc
Womens 100FLY lc
Mens 200FLY sc only 15 names in this one...
Mens 200FLY lc *only 5 names here
Womens 200FLY sc
Womens 200FLY lc
Mens 200IM sc
Mens 200IM lc
Womens 200IM sc
Womens 200IM lc
Mens 400IM sc
Mens 400IM lc
Womens 400IM sc
Womens 400IM lc

Something that I notice right away is that HHBF swimmers never used to swim the "hard" events. 200FLY, 1500FR, 400IM are all very short lists. Our current coaching staff is one that will stay around for the long events and prepare swimmers for the "harder" events. No reason why that cannot be filled up in due time.

This list is a good measuring stick of performance and depth. Since the database is automatically updated by SNC, bookmark this entry and check back every so often to see how our depth improves... more importantly, how YOU help our depth improve.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Canadian Olympic Team

Swimming World's web series: Morning Swim Show interviewed friend of #coachmikepodcast and head Olympic Coach, Randy Bennett, at the Team Training Camp in Phoenix AZ this week. Here are the 2 video segments. The first one details the men's team and the second details the women's team. MSS has done a GREAT job advertising Canada's team here and really beat Swim Canada to the punch (unfortunately). Spend some time and learn about our Olympic Athletes, their stories, and Randy's opinion on how they're do this summer in London.

Division II Team Championships

I take it by the number of hits since Sunday that most of you are looking for a Division II run down. Although I do not have a terrible amount to comment on about the meet, I will expand and comment on 4 key areas, my findings and feelings about each.

i.) Meet Depth: When HHBF finished 2nd 2 years ago, this meet was not terribly deep in any area. We cleaned up (usually 1st and second) in the 11-12 and 13-14 year old category in a number of events and had nothing to really offer in the 15 and over categories (save for a handful of athletes that were old enough to be in that category). Although some of the athletes that helped us in the 11-12 and 13-14 categories are no longer with the team, we are still able to do quite well in the 13-14 category and 15 & over category (now that those athletes are 2 years older). The meet, however, has changed in its depth. The 11-12 year old girls category was incredibly strong, as was 13-14 girls. However, it took very little to make top 8 in 15-16 year old girls and in many 17 &over events had less than 8 people entered. On the boys side, the 13-14 year old boys were stronger than the 15-16 year olds in 3 or 4 events and the 17& over boys were much stronger than in pervious years.

ii.) Meet Timing: I've never been really happy with this meet in April. This season, however, it added an increased wrinkle: Provincials were later than usual and this meet was only a few weeks after Olympic Trials. Therefore, there wasn't a ton of time to re-prep for the meet after taper time for provincials and Olympic Trials athletes (evidence of that can be seen in many of the 17&O events). Aside from that, almost everyone on HHBF (including my family) has been pummelled by illness this season and mostly in March/April. Lots of practice time lost due to illness. As a whole, I don't think we were as physically prepared as we could have been through no fault of our own.

iii.) Toughness and it's meaning: I think our club has come a very long way from the days of "My doctor says that I can't swim anything but freestyle" to watching 7 HHBF athletes swim 200FLY this past weekend, many for the first time. They didn't do it because they particularly enjoy the event, but rather, because the mentality of the club has changed. No longer do only the kids perceived as "specially talented" or "really good" do the tough events. Those events are opportunities the same as the others. We've taught precession and technique well over the last 4 seasons so that athletes can practice and train for these events. And guess what, none of the died or got injured. AND some of them even made qualification standards. Lets not confuse the words "toughness" and "speed" because they are 2 very different things and in a lot of cases, "toughness" has to be bread before "speed" can flourish. Can a swimmer in Gold be tougher than a swimmer in Elite? No doubt there are some right now (watch out, Elite swimmers; some tough kids coming up the ranks). The Gold swimmers aren't faster yet, but it'll come.

iv.) Fun: I felt that this meet was more fun than previous years and I cannot put my finger on why. Not just for us, but parents, swimmers, coaches, officials; they all seemed to be enjoying themselves. I really enjoyed the meet for what it was and hopefully athletes and parents can accept a successful meet in that regard. For once, best times didn't matter, standards didn't matter, it was just racing and which team could cheer louder. I loved it. My children loved it. Hopefully you did too.

Final results can be found here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Another Blue Fin Goes International

It is with great excitment that I announce that HHBF swimmer, 12 year old Britney Dortona, has been selected to represent Team Canada at the 2012 Giochi della Gioventu games in Italy this June. Britney was selected out of a tough field including Provincial and National level medalists.

This competition is for swimmers with Italian background born in 1997 or 1998. The eight swimmers selected will have the opportunity to represent Canada in a swim competition held in Italy in June. "This is a great opportunity for swimmers to compete against swimmers from other countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, United States and of course Italy," said head coach of the delegation, (and age group coach with MSSAC) Andrea Pittis. "It is also a great opportunity to discover the Italian traditions and culture."

Britney is the second Blue Fin (Kyle Haas) to represent their country in an international meet this season. Although this is not a National Development team and is not run by SNC, it is a great opportunity for Britney and wonderful exposure for HHBF. We sure are getting a lot of that type of exposure of late!

Please join me in congratulating Britney!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ontario Coaches Week

It is Ontario Coaches week and I've been asked a lot (of late) why I coach and I have given a lot of cushy sound bite answers. The real reason is this:

Watching a child evolve from an insecure, uncomfortable "single celled organism" into a confident, fearless and complex athlete. The best part is breaking down the boundaries of what someone thinks they're able to do. They're amazed and excited and can't wait to do more and get even better. Its the best feeling in the world and to be a part of that is so much fun!

There are days why I question why I do it and I don't expect a lot of readers to understand that sentiment. Very few see the number of hours spent dealing with issues before they become problems, but is a major part of the job (a coach that I look up to, once told me that if I do my job well, most people won't even notice that I've done anything). Coaches spend a lot of time dealing with non-coaching issues; its not just showing up for a couple hours a day and hanging out. But I wouldn't trade it for anything.

A lot of gratitude should go to anyone who decides to spend their valuable time shaping young psychology and physiology (Teachers deserve to be a part of this week's celebration for sure!). Thanks so much to my support staff; Chris Henderson and Shannan Andrews (I owe you a lot more than a quick thanks on my blog). Thanks to all of the interest from younger athletes looking to get into coaching. Thanks to everyone who gives us the opportunity to do what we do.

In related news, there are 3 videos that are VERY worth your time:

1.) OFF THE DECK: Tera Van Beilen's success team speak (her parents, her and her coach) to me via Skype about how she was able to make it from an Age Group kid to an Olympic Team member. A little long, but totally worth the time. GREAT VIEWING FOR PARENTS AND SWIMMERS TOGETHER!

2.) OFF THE DECK: A compelling argument from Western University's Ken Fitzpatrick when choosing a university path (albeit only one side of the argument).G REAT VIEWING FOR PARENTS AND SWIMMERS TOGETHER!

3.) THANKS MOM: Maybe its because I'm the primary care giver for my 2 children but I cannot watch this video without tearing up. Thanks to Bmac for bringing it to my attention yesterday. This is the last word in any argument regarding parents and sports.

Podcast: A couple of good ones in the past few weeks that you'll want to listen to if you haven't already.

- A little something to get you in the mood for the Olympics.
- Friend of swimming, Randy Starkman dies at age 51. Particularly sad about this because I failed to meet up with him in Montreal hoping to get him back in Toronto.
- Australia is turning out some scary fast kids in their Age Group Championships last week... Yikes!
- Benoit Huot representing Canada and Para Swimming on the Morning Swim Show this week. Good viewing.

Friday, April 13, 2012

New stuff for your ears, eyes and spirits

New episode of #coachmikepodcast available from iTunes and from my source site.

New episode of Off The Deck with Tera Van Beilen, her parents and her coach. Very good viewing for Parents, Swimmers AND Coaches. I'm pretty proud of this one. Please check it out.

Monday, April 2, 2012

THIS is why we love sports!!

About 8 years ago, I worked in an office with a guy who HATED that people watched sports. HATED it! Daily, he would challenge me with questions like: "What's so great about it?" and "Whats the point of watching someone else do something? Go out and ride your bike.". This would fluster me so much because it was too hard for me to put into words. I would stumble on the answer with things like "...I don't know I just do," and "...I don't know... what's so great about watching your dog chase a ball..?" But in his mind, he won these arguments because I didn't have an answer.

This past week in Montreal at the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Swim Trials that question came back at me while watching the triumphs and failures that go hand in hand with sport. I am a nerdier swimming fan boy than most of you, but the story lines that presented themselves leading up to the meet and developed in those 6 days could not have been written better by Hollywood's best screen writers. It was so intense and emotional that my heart strings felt assaulted and I couldn't take anymore by the end.

Here are my top 5 favourite moments from the week:

5.) Tera Van Beilen makes the team: Annamay Pierce does not...
I made the safe prediction months ago that Annamay was not going to make the team. Not because I don't like her (I do, very much) but because her coach, Joeseph Nagy, is arguably the best breaststroke coach in the world and he coaches here in Vancouver, BC. Martha McCabe also swims for him (surprise, she won a medal at world championships and made the team this year) and so does Oakville's Tera Van Beilen. Tera has improved by leaps and bounds this season and it was really cool to see 4 girls get under the qualifying time for the Olympic Team in the 200BR (only 2 can go). Girl's breaststroke in Canada is very good and deep and I'm very proud of that. It was also nice to see that Tera posted the 2nd fastest time in the world and Martha posted the 3rd fastest. Should be interesting this summer.
I chose to travel with Oakville to Olympic Trials and was staying with head coach, Sean Baker. This added a whole other level of emotion to Tera's performances. I got to speak with her parents after as well which was really nice to see. I'm very happy for them!

4.) Mens 200BR... what went wrong?
It was heartbreaking to see Mike Brown miss the Olympic Team after he put it all out there and came out of retirement, but it was even more heartbreaking to see Scott Dickens disappointed that Mike Brown would not be going with him. Warren Barnes, too, had laid it all on the line to make the team in 200BR but did not achieve. None of the men were under the Olympic Qualifying time, but none more surprising than Mike Brown. Brown was 4th in 200BR at the 2008 Olympic Games and finished 4th in the 2012 Canadian Olympic Trials in a time way far off of his best. After the race, he was overcome with emotion and left the pool deck area (very unusual for Brown).
...But there are 2 sides to every story and with great disappointment of one comes great fortune for another: Scott Dickens made the 2012 Olympic Team after missing the 2008 Team. My heart and my brain are still fighting this one; how do I feel about this result? Can I feel really happy that Scott was redeemed AND very sad that Mike failed?

3.) David Sharpe should buy a lottery ticket!
Don't get me wrong... I LOVE a good underdog story. The first race of the week was Mens 200FLY. The Canadian Record holder, Stephan Herniak, missed the 2008 Games due to a mental breakdown in finals and this was going to be his time to perform... although Zack Chetrat of TSC and the Toronto Training Center (recently left OAK) was also hoping to make the team. David Sharpe of Halifax was in lane 8. The race was between the 3 of them for the most part and in the last 50m, it looked as if Herniak had, once again, had a mental breakdown and Chetrat was charging for the finish when David Sharpe, from LANE 8, out touched him by .02 for the win. FROM LANE 8!!!!!! Not 1, but 2 dreams shattered in .02 of a second!! FROM LANE 8!!!!
I had the pleasure of interviewing David the next day (audio to come in my next podcast) and I was expecting him to be excited, but he wasn't really. He seemed annoyed that he wasn't faster in the morning and legitimately expected to win. Love the confidence, but I'm not sure that 1:58.81 is going to make the Olympic Team, as it is not terribly fast in the world.
Kids, I'm not sure if that was luck or skill, but practice your finishes! .02 seconds meant the difference between a shattered dream and pretending you knew you were going to win all along. Don't take anything for granted in a race; everyone wants to win.

2.) Andrew Ford vs. Alec Page in 400IM
I.M. in general is not overly competitive in Canada and for a long time, Andrew Ford had it locked up. Last summer, Alec Page broke Alex Bauman's national age group record in 400IM and was gaining on Andrew Ford. On the first day, this was the key match up. It looked like Andrew had it locked until Alec Page KILLED him on the BR-FR wall and Andrew collapsed. Now he had to wait another 5 days before 200IM and, arguably, his last shot at the Olympic Games.
On Sunday, Alec scratched 200IM (no doubt to focus on the mile) and Andrew looked pretty confident as he had a 3 second advantage on the rest of the field going in. Although the performance was not his best, I like Andrew and love his coach, Don Burton! I'm very happy for them both for redeeming what went so wrong on Tuesday.

1.) The MacLean sisters hug defined my love of sports!
There is a lot of back story here; far too much to write in this blog, but both Brittany and her older sister Heather MacLean had solid potential to make the 2012 Olympic Team. Earlier in the week, Heather missed her best chance in 100FR and Brittany was asked on TV and in front of a live audience how she felt about making the team while her sister missed it (interviewer, Catriona Le May Doan, was almost booed with disapproval by the live audience). Brittany was obviously upset but answered politically.
Heather MacLean made the final in a very fast Womens 100FR event and... well... its best to watch as I words will not do it any justice:

There was not a dry eye in the whole place on Saturday night when this was happening (except for macho men like me who choked back tears and pretended the air quality was causing red eye). THIS is the reason that we all love sports. If this was being acted out by Megan Fox and Jennifer Lawrence, it would make about $150 million dollars, and not just because its girls in bathing suits hugging. The answer to my jackass former coworker's question "whats so great about watching sports" echos from our clapping hands and streams down our cheeks and cheers from our mouths. It tugs at our hearts and elicits genuine emotion that Hollywood producers wish that they could put on the screen. Sports bring out the best in us. They make us want to see people succeed and warm our hearts when they do.

Simply put; I feel more alive experiencing the onslaught emotions that I had last week (excitement, fear, happiness, empathy, disappointment and elation). I felt like I was somehow involved in everyone of those races and everyone of those story lines even though none of them had anything to do with me at all. I bet a lot of you felt the same way.

Honorable mention to the top 5 goes to Joe Bartoch, Richard Hortness and Paul Midgley of LAC in London, Ontario. I am so happy for all 3 of them!