Monday, June 25, 2012


Today is like Christmas Eve for me because I cannot wait to watch some wicked fast swimming at the USA Olympic Trials! The USA Trials differ from the Canadian Trials in my mind for a few reasons:
  1. No one has a safe spot on the team. USA swimming is much, much deeper than Canadian Swimming (in many cases, the top 5 entries in the USA trials are top 10 times in the world and faster than our Canadian Records) and sometimes all it takes is one good race or one bad race to knock out the favorite and knock in the newbie.Tensions will be high in Omaha, but its going to be so fun to watch!
  2. For the reasons above, this meet may end up being more competitive and possibly faster than the Olympics.
  3. The Phelps/Lochte rivalry is not comparable to anything in Canadian Swimming.
  4. Take out Phelps and Lochte and there are still so many high profile story lines to follow.
  5. At this time of the year, this is a GREAT primer for the Olympic Games in London.
Dave Ling of TSC is also covering these trials in his own words. Check out his blog here.
Live results & psych sheets for the meet can be found here.
TV broadcast schedule can be found here.
Prelims Live Webcast can be found here.

Lots of people call themselves fans of swimming, but some of the best and fastest swimming in the world will be broadcast online and on TV this week. In my humble opinion, you cannot say that you love the sport and miss any of this action. Talk is cheap; soak up the beauty of this sport as much as you can.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Y.O.L.O. Pandemic

The Y.O.L.O. Pandemic
By Hassaan Abdel Khalik

Today, the acronym YOLO, which stands for "You only live once," is seemingly at the tip of everyone's tongue. YOLO sends a powerful message. It encapsulates several virtues necessary for success in life. Unfortunately, YOLO is mostly used in a negative connotation to justify poor behaviour and/or irresponsible actions.

I have broken down YOLO into four lessons, one for each letter. These lessons stand independent of one another but yield the best results when applied in unison. Enjoy...

1. You

You are responsible for your actions. At all times, and in all situations, understand that you are ultimately in control of your own fate. Rather than deferring responsibility to someone or something else, remember what Winston Churchill once said, "The price of greatness is responsibility."

2. Only

Only is a word often associated with "very little".

Every person has very little time. Actually, everyone is losing the very little time they have to begin with.


With every second that passes by, our hypothetical bank account of time is worth one (dollar) second less. Think of time like this:  Every morning you wake up with a bank account of ($)86,000 seconds. Your decisions dictate how that time is spent. For example, that 5 minute snooze is ($)300 seconds spent on nothing. A two hour swim practice can be either ($)7,200 seconds well invested or ($)7,200 seconds wasted, and this depends on how you utilize your time. At the end of the day, all that your are left with are the investments you have made for the future and as Ben Franklin once said, "Lost time is never found again."

3. Live

The word live is the verb for life.

Life, as defined by Oxford Dictionary, is "the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth..."

Every task to be completed, no matter how big or small, is an opportunity for personal growth. The personal growth may not directly come from the task itself. Instead, it may come in the form of a virtue learned.

For example, a simple task that may seem useless directly in earning millions of dollars or swimming best times is doing one's laundry. Yet, doing one's laundry teaches an individual the value of self sustenance.

Another example, this time related to swimming, is whether or not to swim a 50 or 1500 Freestyle at the end of a swim meet where there seems to be no direct benefits of doing it (depending on your event specialty, focus on the event that seems less beneficial for you). On the surface, a 25 (+/-) second or 16 minute race may seem too short or too long for you to receive any direct benefits from it. Other than learning the virtue of seeing everything through till the end, there are numerous technical lessons that can also be derived from either of these races. A 50 Freestyle is a great opportunity to learn to execute under the pressure of close quarters racing. Such a skill set may come in handy for a 1500 swimmer who finds themselves in a tight race over the last 50 meters of a mile. On the other hand, a 50 Freestyler can work on their flip turn technique over and over again in a 1500 so when it comes down to a short course 50, they know how to execute a perfect flip turn under the fatigue of a mile, let alone a 12 second 25.

So remember:

"Don't go through life, grow through life." -Eric Butterworth

4. Once


If you were surrounded with fairy tales as a child you'd continue with:

…upon a time.

We all create our own unique story. If we try really hard, we can also create our own fairy tale. One where we achieve all our dreams and ambitions. In order to make our desires come true we must make good decisions. Remember, although decisions can be made in split-seconds, their impact can be infinite.

The only way to make sure that one's decisions are made for the best is to have such a strong conviction and sense of direction in life that everything is engrained deep in the mind.

So when you are faced with a race-time decision of whether or not to push through an immense amount of pain through the last stretch of a race it is expected that you will. When you are faced with the decision of whether or not to stay up late you won't. When you are faced with the decision of whether or not to help the student who just dropped all their book you will help them.

You might not realize it, but "Conviction is the conscience of the mind." (Nicolas Chamfort)

I'd like to close off just by reminding everyone, myself included, to never lose sight of their goals and to use every little opportunity as a stepping stone towards achieving them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

5 Swimming shoulder stresses ~

How do you approach your swims, using what kind of energy and how do you channel it? Positive or negative?  This is a good article looking into "What's the Ideal level of arousal for swimming performance?" ~

As we are heading into Championship season, there will be a lot of eating out for coaches, parents and swimmers.  Here is a great article on keeping your choices healthy ~ ~ Tips to eating out healthy

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

10 Things Coaching Has Taught Me

A lot of coaching knowledge has been rattling around in my brain. While I try to categorize it, here are some great lessons I have learned in the 8 seasons I've been back into it. Some of these are messages from great coaches (who would not appreciate being quoted here, I'm sure):

1.) Coaching is a lifestyle, not a job. You cannot be successful unless you're "into it".

2.) Know the science like the back of your hand but rely on your eyes and brain; athletes are not textbook cases.

3.) You cannot save a child from their own parents.

4.) Athletes take cues from their coaches and pick up on a lot. Sometimes success and failure depends on how confident the athlete is in their coach.

5.) "Sometimes you just need to get out of the way and let them go." 

6.) No matter how long you've been coaching, someone is always going to ask you "Whats your real job?"

7.) "A lot of people misunderstand how hard it is to compete on a world level."

8.) I've always been suspicious that everyone wants success but few want it bad enough to do something thats not their favourite thing. This has become abundantly clear in the past few years. The right thing is not usually the easy thing.

9.) NEVER accept the answer that something cannot be done; thats code for "I don't see the value in doing it".

10.) "This career is long and athletes don't stay young forever. When its all over, what have they learned through their training, racing and careers? Thats the important bit!"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

This is a graduation speech from over the weekend, that has gone viral.
David McCullough Jr., an english teacher from Wellesley High School in Massachusetts spoke to 400+ graduates about "embracing failure rather than always striving to avoid it. Creativity, he added, should be for the good of others because "selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself." An excellent speech, with humour and whole lot of truth!!!!!

What do you do to best prepare yourself to race your best? Can you do more?  Planning and preparing for competition ~ 
What does your best practice look like? "What is the swimming version of this?"

#coachmikepodcast episode 20 talks about Jozsef Nagy's comments about Canadian Swimmers.

Enjoy the day...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

An Amazing Weekend for the Blue Fins

13 year old Britney Dortona won a silver medal in girls 100FR this weekend at the International Giochi della Gioventu Games in Italy. Britney was selected to the Canadian Team 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 had the opportunity to represent Canada in a swim competition held in Italy. "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, 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.
Meanwhile in Etobicoke, ON, the Blue Fins finished 10th at the Central Region Championships. There are over 40 teams in the Central Region. Amongst highlights were 11 year old Lauren Monhemius winning the 100FR and 200FR events and winning the High Point trophy, Elizabeth Skuriat and Loren O'Brien-Egesborg finishing 2nd and 3rd in womens 200BK and Jenna Galea's silver medal in girls 10 & under 50FR with a new HHBF club record.
HHBF's girls 13-14 relay teams comprised of Aysia Leckie, Clancy Harris, Bronte McMaster, Emma Fender and Brooklyn Shelley earned silver and bronze medals in the 200FR and 200 Medley relays. Jenna Galea, Lauren Monhemius and Livy Olson are amongst HHBF's new qualifiers for the Provincial Championships in Nepean, ON in July.
Historically we finish between 18th-24th in this meet but our depth has improved to the point that we're seeing such great improvement everywhere. We are achieving what we have set out to do. This is certainly a different club than it was 4 years ago. I'm so proud of all our athletes!
Other top 8 finishers at the Central Region Championships included:
Aaron Brautigam (17) 7th 800FR, 8th 50FR
Emma Fender (13) 6th 800FR, 3rd 400FR, 6th 200BR, 2nd 400IM, 3rd 200FR, 3rd, 100FLY
Anthony Hartsink (11) 7th 100FLY
Quinn Jaggard (14) 8th 200IM, 6th 100BK, 4th 400IM, 2nd 50FR
Michael Jans (13) 8th 800FR
Mitchell Krafzcek (16) 6th 200IM, 1st 200BR, 4th 400IM, 3rd 100BR
Aysia Leckie (13) 1st 800FR, 3rd 200IM, 1st 400FR, 4th 100BK, 3rd 400IM, 5th 100FLY
Bronte McMaster (14) 5th 50FR
Lauren Monhemius (11) 7th 800FR, 5th 400FR, 1st 100 & 200FR, 4th 400IM
Paige Olmstead (13) 8th 800FR, 6th 100BK, 7th 200BK 2nd 1500FR
Aleksandar Plackoski (12) 8th 400FR
Brooklyn Shelley (14) 8th 100BR
AJ Tarczy (15) 7th 100BK
Mackenzie Warnock (11) 8th 200BR
Chris Zanewycz (12) 8th 200BR

Monday, June 11, 2012

International Silver Medal for Blue Fin

13 year old Britney Dortona won a silver medal in 100FR yesterday in the Giochi della Gioventu games in Italy. Congrats Britney! We are very proud of you!

Update: more details, pictures and videos can be found HERE.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Links of the Day with Jocelyn Jay

I know its a day late, but...

Butterfly pulling pattern...some thoughts ~

The need for speed...

The mindset of Champions ~ - Practice and hard work will take you further than your natural born ability.  Learn work ethic and grow!

DID YOU KNOW???  Those stickers on fruits and veggies tell you quite a bit! 4 numbers mean they were conventionally grown. 5 numbers starting with number 8 means they are genetically modified (GMO). And 5 numbers starting with 9 means they were organically grown.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Moving Forward

By Lindsay Seemann

My heart is beating fast. I am staring at the office door, the blinds are shut but I know who is inside. I hear my head coach talking to one of my teammates. I know what they are talking about, and I am about to have the same conversation in a number of minutes. My heart is pounding out of my chest, and all I can think about is when I called Frank Busch to commit to Arizona. How nervous I was, and how excited I was for the future. The same emotions are coming back. How has it come to this? So much has changed in the past year, month, week, and even the past 24 hours. The door opens. Aubrey Peacock walks out the office door and I step inside to explain to Eric Hansen that my time swimming at the University of Arizona is over. 

When I came to the University of Arizona I was filled with excitement. I was a young freshman with ambitions. I had aspirations in the water that I was anxious to obtain while completing a college degree. I had no idea what I wanted to do in life after swimming, but there was one thing I knew for certain; I wanted to be an Arizona Wildcat. 

Arizona was even better than I expected. Amazing teammates, coaches and hot weather surrounded me all year long. Everyday was a day in paradise. I was excited for what the next four years held. I was certain that I was going to experience and be a part of the Arizona Swimming and Diving Legacy.
As a freshman I was told by graduating seniors to cherish every moment here, because before I knew it I would be saying my goodbyes. Those seniors were right, I said my goodbyes earlier than I expected.
Its strange how things work out. How first impressions get over turned, or how people evolve from one person to another.

I never thought I would leave the University of Arizona. I never thought of choosing Arizona as a mistake. I had fallen in love with Arizona and I never thought I would leave. I have always praised loyalty and I felt I must be loyal to my teammates and the Arizona name.
Seeing so many people transfer to Arizona, I never thought I would be someone to transfer out.
When my teammate, Aubrey Peacock sat me down and explained that she was going to be leaving Arizona, I was not upset, angry or sad – I was jealous. Without missing a beat the first words out of my mouth were, “Good for you.”

Confused by my emotions I began to analyze why I was at Arizona. I didn't understand why I was jealous of Aubrey. I love this place. I LOVE this teamWhy am I jealous?
Since I arrived at Arizona my goals seemed to drift farther away from me. They no longer seemed realistic. It seemed that everyday I jumped into the water my goals moved farther away.
My freshman year I moved backwards. With mono, every workout in the pool just made me more exhausted. I was more tired on taper. I felt I wasting away to nothing. I should be sleeping. I need to recover.

At the end of my first PAC 10 conference meet, I sat on deck with Frank. He was confused, puzzled, at a loss for words. He didn’t understand what we did wrong. I had known I was relapsing with mono while I was tapering for conference. I didn’t tell him- what would that do? Trainers might tell me not to swim. Then all my hard work would be a waste and I would never get to compete for Frank again.
I choked back my tears as Frank racked his brain, trying to think of what he could have done differently to help me prepare for this meet. I wanted to scream. I felt horrible. I never wanted to put Frank in this place. He couldn’t have done anything different. I told him how I felt; how I was feeling all the symptoms of mono again. He told me that he believed in me. How heknew I could accomplish great things. At that moment, it was all I needed to hear. It was all the motivation I needed not to climb into a ball, quit swimming and give into this disease.

My sophomore year, Eric Hansen took over Arizona Swimming and Diving and I worked with the assistant coach Geoff Hanson. As I struggled to regain my health, I also struggled to adjust the new program.

I didn’t pick the coaches, and they didn’t pick me. There is a recruiting process for a reason; it’s a game of match making. Some swimmers work well with some coaches, while they don’t work well with others. It’s hard to establish trust when a coach takes over and you have no idea who you are dealing with. It’s especially hard because this coach has to learn how to deal with 50 new swimmers at once. I had a rough freshmen year, which didn’t make me a priority. It makes sense. If you have two broken down cars in your garage, a Ferrari and Toyota, which one do you want to fix first?

I realized it was okay to leave.

There were three of us who decided to leave, Hallie Stupp, Aubrey Peacock and myself.
We had all told our head coach the same day. We weren’t trying to gang up on him by doing it one after another. It just happened that way. We had all reached our boiling point the day before and there was no point hiding it from everyone. There was something in the air and to the three of us it was toxic.
The day we told our head coach, Aubrey called a team meeting before practice in our women’s locker room.  One after another the three of us explained our reasons for leaving. I do not know how to describe the mood in that room. Every person in the room was experiencing a different emotion. A blend of sadness, forgiveness, joy, understanding, and confusion filled the room. I am not even sure how I felt. The words flew out my mouth and I had no control over them- however I don’t even think anyone was really listening. Everyone was thinking so loud no one could hear the words being said or sounds in the room. This meeting was really hard to sit through, but it made me so happy. How could something that made me cry so much feel so good? I was happy to leave.

I had lost all faith in myself during my sophomore year and was not sure if I even wanted to swim. I had no plans. After I finished my last exam I realized that for the first time in my life I had no obligations to anything. I was not enrolled in school, and I was not a part of a team. I had nothing to do but pack by bags and say goodbye to some of the best people I have ever met.

For the first time since I arrived at Arizona I am excited about swimming again. I have allowed time for the wounds to heal since deciding to leave Arizona and I am working on round two of the NCAA recruiting process. I am going to go to school in the states; I am going to swim in the NCAA, and its not going to be at a top five program. It is going to be something completely different than my experience at Arizona. This is not because I didn’t like Arizona- I loved it there. But just because I like oranges doesn’t mean they are the only thing that will make me happy; I like apples too.

I am not trying to recreate my time at Arizona. I am looking to start new. I am looking for a place to move forward.

It doesn’t matter if people don’t believe in you. As long you can find a way to believe in yourself nothing else matters. If you ever find yourself losing faith in what you can accomplish, it does not mean you have made a mistake- it means you need to make a change.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bad News for Open Water Swimmers...

Swim Ontario posted today that The 2012 Ontario Open Water Provincials will be held on Sunday August 19, 2012 in Welland, ON ( in conjunction with the 1st FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships and Niagara Open Water Festival). This, much to the dismay of everyone wanting to participate at the end of their season.

I feel that this is unfortunate for a number of reasons, not least of which, because many swimmers hoped to do this after or instead of Ontario Provincial Championships as an end to their season. Instead of being able to do this early July, swimmers will now have to train until mid August in order to participate, which leaves many clubs scratching their heads and wondering how to pay for pool time and coaching for an extra few weeks (outside of their budget). 

HHBF has not budgeted for an extra month of training time or coaching so unfortunately, Blue Fins who chose to participate will be registering and training on their own for a great deal of time. This is an extreme letdown to me, as I was really looking forward to Open Water Provincials. I do not direct my frustration and disappointment at Swim Ontario (as they had no choice in this matter) but I direct it at the same people who open AGN up to 2000 swimmers, make it go so late in the year and continually push the agenda of having swimmers swim year-round. I think this is an unfortunate decision, but one that the Ontario Swimming community will have to deal with. I apologize to all Ontario Swimmers who feel the same as me.

Swim Ontario's official announcement and the details of the meet can be found HERE.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Goals vs Tasks: Why we mustn't eliminate the possibility of failure.

The purpose of this post is not goal setting, but more specifically about the importance of RISK in these goals.

Considering failure is very important when setting goals, in that, you need to be able to fail. Absence of the risk of failure, your goal becomes a task.  The difference between the two:
Task: I am going to get a bottle of water from the store.
Goal: I am going to get strong enough to walk to the store to get a bottle of water.

The task could be something off of a "To Do List". The goal is something that could go wrong; I have to build the strength in order to get there. If I don't build the strength, I can't walk there. The difference should be pretty clear here; a task is something that takes very little effort and a goal is something quite a bit more difficult to achieve. You could be a master of goal achievement if you only set goals you could achieve. Goal #1, wake up Goal #2 have lunch, etc or perhaps less ridiculous, setting a swim standard that you knew you could definitely achieve, setting out to beat someone that you know you should beat... in other words, setting the bar very low.

Failure teaches people a lot, especially kids. Teaching your children how to cope with goal failures can make them very successful in life. Whether its learning how to deal with a missed time standard, not being selected for a team or missing a final or a medal at an important meet; this experience can help your children later in life (applying for jobs and interview skills always come to mind here). Former Canadian Olympian, Casey Barrett, spelled this out very well in a column about Stephan Herniak; "And when those moments don’t pan out as planned, well, those are often the men and women who stay hungry for life."

As a parent of young children, I understand the thought process behind not wanting your children to fail. I watch my son try to climb everything with the goal of conquering all of the furniture in my house. There is clearly a risk to this, as he has fallen more than once. The interesting thing to me is that, over time, he has been more reluctant to climb things without foot holds or that he cannot see the top of. He has learned from the mistakes he has made and learned to make more calculated climbing risks (as well as a two year old can). I don't want him to hurt himself but it is important to me that he understand his abilities and learn from mistakes. Failure has made him a much smarter child (although he is still a pain in the butt pleasant individual). 

Staying focused on a goal is also important. I cannot count the number of times I have watched athletes (both as a coach and as a team mate) make excuses or bargain about an upcoming goal test. For example; "Is there a way that I can qualify for this team earlier so I have an extra chance" or "I hope that (name of competitor here) gets sick or can't compete". Its natural to want to eliminate the stress of the final goal and natural to want it to be easier. Unfortunately, its not reality. In these cases, these athletes have stopped focusing on what THEY have to do in order to be successful and are focused on either the outcome or uncontrollable variables. Sports is a great character builder because it forces a lot of focus; focus on what YOU have to do. Stay focused on your goals, not the risk associated with them.

We're coming into championship season for Canadian Swimming and this is the time for pass or fail in goals. In the next 2 months (even during the Olympics), many will see their goals realized but many more will fall short of their mark. The opportunity to test yourself and work as hard as you can and the possibility to see your goal realized is what sports is all about. The possibility of failure comes with the territory. Do not be afraid to fail. Do not be afraid to let your children fail. It doesn't mean that they're weak individuals, it means that they are learning to be stronger. Failure doesn't mean that its time to pack up and move onto something else.

As my children go through adolescence and their teen years, I imagine it will get tougher and tougher on me every time they get their hearts broken or are overcome by emotion because of a missed opportunity or failure. This is where the coach in me will step in. I will remind them of the video below and tell them to dust themselves off. Then I will go in the other room and try not to feel sorry for them by reminding myself that they're stronger because of it.