Tuesday, April 30, 2013

400th Post!!!

I debated doing something epic for my 400th post, but I think I'll save that for #500. Instead, I thought I would focus on the news that NBACentre (Washington Wizards), Jason Collins, announced that he is gay. I do not want to focus specifically on the news, but more about the reaction.

Twitter has blown up with mostly support for Jason (and sadly some jerks). This summarizes some of the better ones:

The reoccurring theme here is that this is "No Big Deal", however, I think the fact that everyone has something to say about this in news shows and social media proves that it IS a big deal; it is in fact a HUGE deal... it just isn't a big deal for the reason that it used to be a big deal. Being gay used to be something that was looked down upon and to be ashamed of, but now it is pretty common place. Of course there are gay men in sports - they have just been afraid to come out. Jason Collins is a role model for young gay athletes and THATS why it is a huge deal.

This was a long time coming and, in my mind, long over due. Congrats to Jason and the new era of fear free sports. I think it is a strong statement about modern society and sports when this news didn't even interest me much - until the repeated headlines and "No Big Deal" kept flashing across my phone's news feed.

 Last word goes to Mark Tewksbury, Swimming Canada's last Olympic Gold Medalist (100BK in 1992), who came out long ago:

Friday, April 26, 2013

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

Teach athletes to thrive under pressure - fb.me/20Cy47wi7

When other parents criticize your kids during sports - http://ow.ly/kqkWh 

Dove's new campaign on perception vs reality:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Thoughts on #WWRLD

Since I have delved into this enough to just be repeating myself, below are some links for you - people with thoughts on Ryan Lochte's reality show - What Would Ryan Lochte Do?

Mike Gustafson took the opportunity to respond to some of the feedback he’s seen related to Ryan Lochte’s reality show on E!, ‘What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” Last night Lochte had three trending topics on Twitter and there has been a ton of chatter about the Olympic gold medalist over the last week. Mike’s blog addresses some of the criticism the show has received and reminds readers that the show is entertainment and not necessarily pure “reality.”  Via USA Swimming

Who’s missing from the less than real life of “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” Only most of the folks responsible for his success as a swimmer… Via Capandgoggles.com

The final ratings for Sunday’s programming are out, and the results are in: a tepid response to the series premiere of “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?”, the new reality-style television show that follows Ryan Lochte through treachorous waters of training, fashion, family, and courtship...   Via Swimswam.com

What Would Ryan Lochte Do? premiered this week to some questionable reviews (okay, okay,and some snark from us)... Via EW.com 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Is Swimming A "Girl's Sport"?

I have been part of many meetings recently; in which people have vented their frustrations about the number of boys active in certain groups, age ranges and/or clubs. While I do not disagree with the thinking that we need more boys in the sport - is it actually true, or is it just perception? I decided to contact +Swim Ontario for some statistics about the gender breakdown in Ontario. Full disclosure: I used only Swim Ontario for this sample group because I felt that 17,000 members is a pretty good sample size (approx. 0.1% of the total provincial population) & because no other PSO responded to my request (I am not sure why this information is not easier to find).

Total Registered Swimmers with Swim Ontario: 16,807

Non  Competitive - 5763 (34.28% of Swim Ontario Registration)
Female – 3090 (53.67%)
Male - 2673 (46.38%)

As we can all see, in the non-competitve realm, the statistics are pretty well uniformed. All swimmers Swimming with a sanctioned club (non-competitve, lessons, fitness, etc) must be registered with Swim Ontario as non-competitve swimmers in order to be covered under insurance. I would assume that most of these swimmers are either in a lessons program or a fitness based program. 5763 swimmers swimming solely for the love of the activity is great; and it seems as if there is a more equal number of boys to girls in this section (only a 7.2% difference). If we are to assume that the bulk of these registrations are swim schools and learn to swim programs, having over a quarter of the total population of Swim Ontario in the development and learn to swim stage, waiting to get into competition (being sold "the Olympic Dream") is a great thing. So my question at this stage is "how many of these athletes actually make it into the competitive stream?"

Competitive – 11044 (65.71% of Swim Ontario Registration)
Female – 6703 (60.69%)
Male - 4341 (39.31%) 

Oh... I see...

Alright, so we've established that the female population of competitive swimming in Ontario is over 21% higher than boys. This means that if we make some assumptions about what the non-competitve sector is comprised of, maybe we can make some assumptions about why girls outnumber boys so much in this sport.

1.) If Swim Schools & Lessons make up 75% of the non-competitive sector, boys seems to spend longer in the non-competitive sector (diluting the number of competitive swimmers) or just do not make the jump into the competitive sector. Why? Anyone who has been to the Central Region Championships or Ontario Provincial Championships between 2008-2012 knows how few 10 & under boys there are compared to the girls. Are they taking longer in the non-competitive sector (coming in around age 10-13) or are they just not making the jump?

2.) If they're not making the jump, are they being absorbed into other sports, or are they sitting at home on the couch?

3.) If we do assume that Swim Schools & Lessons take up 75% of the non-competitve sector, then we have to also assume that 25% of that non-competitve group (about 1450 swimmers) either never entered the competitive stream or were competitive and dropped down to non-competitve. In any event, I am curious why they do not want to compete.

4.) What drives girls to be 21% more likely to be in the competitive stream than a boy? Is this a sociological thing (swimming is a girl's sport, hockey is for boys?) or a demographic thing (are there just more young girls than boys)? UPDATE: actually the population of Ontario is pretty evenly split at 50.7% female & 49.3% male.

I don't think that we have enough statistical information go really go any further than this (or even this far if we want to do more than hypothesizing), but this is a pretty interesting question - and one that I feel needs to be answered if Canada wants to move up in the world in this sport. As I have said on numerous occasions, in order for Canada to thrive in swimming, Ontario must thrive in swimming (I believe it is because of the population).  If we only have 100 men over the age of 20 competing (hypothetical example, not an actual statistic), statistically, we stand only a 25% chance against a country that has over 400 men of the same age competing. 

My summary is that swimming appears to be a girl dominated sport, but not a "girl's sport" at all due, to the vacancies and massive opportunity for boys of all ages. The lingering question is how to get those boys involved and how to make sure that we can bolster the number of "Olympic aged" men competing for National Team spots and training & pushing those contenders. 2:01 for 200BK* may sound pretty fast for a 13 year old boy, but for a 23 year old, it is much more obtainable.

Finally, is changing that social climate, perception of the sport, or offerings the responsibilities of SNC, PSOs or individual clubs? Regardless of whose responsibility it is, leadership is needed in order to come up with a plan... mostly because I'm not even sure that any of those people would agree on the answer of whose responsibility it is...

*200BK was won by 18 year old Russell Wood. He is pretty fast for an 18 year old, yes, but he cannot possibly be our fastest 200 backstroker, being 10 seconds off the world record. We can produce better than that, we just need the numbers.

Friday, April 19, 2013

News Anchors Laugh at Ryan Lochte

My mother alerted me to this video earlier today. Watch it now so you know what people are laughing about in the next couple of weeks... and don't forget to join in on the stupidity this Sunday on E!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

...Because that is what LIVING is - The six inches in front of your face.

Inspiration can always be found in sports movies. There is a talent pool in Hollywood that writes some of the most eloquent speeches and soliloquies for movies. I've seen people try to replicate the drama and feeling, but it's never quite the same as when it comes from the mouth of someone like Al Paccino.

I watched Any Given Sunday again this past weekend and was reminded of this speech (Parental Discretion is advised due to a couple of rough words - PG-13). One of the things that struck me about it was how it so easily applies to swimming.

You know when you get old in life, things get taken from you.That's, that's part of life.
But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff.
You find out that life is just a game of inches.
So is football.
Because in either game life or football the margin for error is so small.
I mean one half step too late or to early - you don't quite make it.
One half second too slow or too fast and you don't quite catch it.
The inches we need are everywhere around us.

Swimming is a game of inches. A tenth of a second too early - DQ. A hundredth of a second too late, missing a medal or a team selection. The margin of error is so small! Learning to focus and perform in that moment and relying on yourself is such an important part of the sport and such an important part of life. Focusing on "what's important now" (W.I.N.) - hand position, how many strokes you're taking, how many breaths you're taking; your race plan - that six inches in front of your face.

...Because that is what LIVING is - The six inches in front of your face.

Anyway, a great speech and performance by Al Paccino. Check it out!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

 What teachers really want to tell parents - http://ow.ly/k5faD

How constant nutrition can improve your workouts -  http://ow.ly/k8jVZ 

Is stretching good or bad? Two types of stretching to read about - http://ow.ly/k93RB 

Interesting article on improvement and change - bit.ly/waLSsG

A great Ted talk on perception vs reality - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re53vgaVFvI&sns=em

Monday, April 15, 2013

#coachmikepodcast episode 42

#coachmikepodcast episode 42

This episode is a compilation of interviews taken at Canadian World Championship Trials. From Michigan, I speak to Team Canada Members Hassaan Abdel Khalik and Canadian Champion & NCAA Medalist, Richard Funk. From Georgia, I speak with friend of #coachmikepodcast Brittany MacLean. Finally, I speak to Zack Chetrat of TSC/UofT. Zack appeared on this podcast back in October - speaking to my club about what he learned from missing the 2012 Olympic Team. Zack had full redemption this season by out-touching David Sharpe, the man who out-touched him in 2012 Olympic Trials, and posting a best time in the process.
Please check out my blog post with my analysis of the 2013 World Championship TrialsAs always, you should check out my blog and follow me on Twitter(@coachmikeswim). Check out my archived past episodes as well.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

The Superstar Advantage - the intimidation one creates when they are very good at their craft, and the pecking order that is created through this intimidation - http://ow.ly/jW5xW
Corny, but effective Pep talks - how can we as coaches motivate and inspire our swimmers to become their best?  This is an excellent example of thinking "outside the box"! - http://m.thepostgame.com/blog/eye-performance/201304/coachs-corny-effective-pep-talks-motivate-michigan
Eating away at inflammation - Greg Wells discusses foods that trigger vs fight against inflammation -http://ow.ly/jW6f1
A quick glimpse at the future of learning - http://ow.ly/jW7va

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

5 Further Thoughts On Canadian World Championship Trials

Thinking back on the statistics I brought you on Monday: 
  1. Of the 34 athletes that made the team (so far), only 10 of them (30%) are currently in the CIS system - Please use that stat for good instead of evil.
  2. Of that 30%, 90% of those athletes are from training centres, not necessarily true CIS athletes (thats why Ryan Cochrane, Andrew Ford and others were not counted at CIS athletes). Alec Page & Chris Manning also did not compete at CIS championships.
  3. Of the 5 NCAA athletes (Hassaan, Funk, MacLean, Van Landegham & Russell), 100% are club trained athletes & represent ESWIM, EKSC, MANTA & DS... very likely because current rules prevent them from collecting carding anyway. This is largely a mute point due to the current SNC rules around NCAA athletes because any argument either way is hypothetical.
  4. I am still blown away by the winning time in the men's 200BK; About 10 seconds off of the world record. A bright spot, perhaps, would be that there were 7 athletes 2:02 or better. Comparatively, at last year's Olympic Trials, there were only 4. Last summer (July '12) there were 5, however... perhaps displaying that improvement throughout the season may be another reason to hold Trials later in the season.
  5. I cannot find answers or stats to answer these questions for certain: a.) has there ever been a coach that had the 3 fastest athletes in 1 event at 1 time before? and b.) has there ever been a club team that has won Age Group Championships and Summer Nationals in the same year before (I believe that OAK can do it this summer)?
Below is the top 15 finishing clubs. 6 of them are from Ontario. 3 from Quebec. 2 from BC. 2 from Alberta. 1 from Manitoba. 

1. Ubc Dolphins                  497   
2. Oakville Aquatic Club         483.5
3. Pointe-Claire Swim Club       466   
4. Cascade Swim Club             405.5
5. Island Swimming               364   
6. Toronto Swim Club             358.5
7. Etobicoke Swimming            333   
8. Ppo                           264
9. Univ OF Calgary Swim Club     240   
10. Edmonton Keyano Swim Club    236
11. Dolphins Swim Club           171  
12. Newmarket Stingrays          147
13. Club Aquatique MontrĂ©al      109  
14. Guelph Marlin Aquatic Club   95
15. Manta Swim Club              85

Monday, April 8, 2013

Canadian World Championship Trials Analysis

Editor's note: I have updated some of the info below

Barbara Jardin, Montreal, 200 FR, 1:58.25 (training centre) 
Sinead Russell, Burlington, Ont., 100 BK 1:00.12 (Florida Gators)
Kristina Steins, Burlington, Ont., 100 BK, 1:00.85 (High School)
Audrey Lacroix, Pont-Rouge, Que., 200 FL, 2:07.89 (Montreal Training Centre)
Katerine Savard, Pont-Rouge, Que., 200 FL, 2:08.34; 100 FL, 58.06 (Cegep)
Samantha Cheverton, Pointe-Claire, Que., 200 FR, 1:58.80; 100 FR, 55.67 (Unknown)
Brittany MacLean, Etobicoke, Ont., 200 FR, 1:59.53 (Georgia Bulldogs)
Savannah King, Vancouver, 200 FR, 2:00.34; 400 FR, 4:10.34; 800 FR, 8:33.49 (UBC/training centre)
Blake Worsley, Victoria, 200 FR, 1:48.80 (Toronto Training Centre)
Charles Francis, Montreal, 100 BK, 55.34 (Montreal Training Centres)
Zack Chetrat, Toronto, 200 FL, 1:58.01 (Toronto Training Centre/ U of T)
Alec Page, Victoria, 200 FR, 1:49.36; 400 IM, 4:18.06 (UVIC/ Victoria Training Centre)
Aly Abdel-Khalik, Etobicoke, Ont., 200 FR, 1:49.59 (High School)
Hassaan Abdel-Khalik, Etobicoke, Ont., 200 FR, 1:49.84; 100 FR, 50.57 (Michigan)
Tera Van Beilen, Oakville, Ont., 100 BR, 1:08.15; 200 BR, 2:25.84 (OAK/ UBC/ training centre))
Alexa Komarnycky, Victoria, 400 IM, 4:41.65; 800 FR, 8:34.17; 200 IM, 2:14.28 (Victoria Training Centre)
Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson, Ottawa, 400 IM, 4:42.71; 200 IM, 2:13.29 (High School)
Victoria Poon, Montreal, 100 FR, 55.31; 50 FR, 25.24 (Montreal Training Centre)
Sandrine Mainville, Montreal, 100 FR, 55.32 (Montreal Training Centre)
Chantal van Landeghem, Winnipeg, 100 FR, 55.35; 50 FR, 25.19 (Georgia Bulldogs)
Joel Greenshields, Calgary, 100 FR, 50.36 (Cascade)
Richard Funk, Edmonton, 100 BR, 1:00.87 (Michigan)
Tommy Gossland, Vancouver, 100 FR, 50.50 (UBC/ Training Centre)
Luke Peddie, Vancouver, 100 FR, 50.62 (UBC/National Training Centre)
Ryan Cochrane, Victoria, 400 FR, 3:47.08; 1500 FR, 14:59.73 (Victoria Training Centre)
Will Brothers, Victoria, 1500 FR, 15:02.48 (Victoria Training Centre/UVIC)
Noemie Thomas, Vancouver, 100 FL, 58.31 (High School/ National Training Centre))
Hilary Caldwell, White Rock, B.C., 200 BK, 2:09.31 (Victoria Trainig Centre)
Coleman Allen, Vancouver, 100 FL, 53.57 (UBC/National Training Centre)
Russell Wood, Calgary, 200 BK, 2:01.01 (University of Calgary)
Chris Manning, Brantford, Ont., 50 FR, 22.71 (U of T)
Martha McCabe, Toronto, 200 BR, 2:27.35 (Toronto Training Centre)
Ashton Baumann, Ottawa, 200 BR, 2:14.84 (New Zealand)
Andrew Ford, Guelph, Ont., 200 IM, 2:00.03 (Guelph, non CIS)

Here is how our World Championship Team works out by the numbers:

Training Centre Athletes: 14 athletes (7 Women, 6 Men)
CIS Athletes: 10
CIS Schools Represented: U of T, Calgary, UBC, UVIC
CIS Athletes that Train at Training Centres: 9
NCAA Athletes: 5
NCAA Schools Represented: Georgia, Michigan & Florida
High School Athletes: 4
Other: 2
Deepest Men's Event: Mens 1500FR. Good job by Randy Bennett & Ryan Mallette who have the 3 fastest 1500 men in Canadian History with them right now
Deepest Women's Event: Tie - 200BR or 200BK: 2 or more women under the cut & Hillary Coldwell beat Sinead Russell in 200BK (Canadian Record Holder) and is closing in on her record. Exciting event.
Weakest Men's Event: 200BK - 2:01.01 won the event by Russell Wood, even though several athletes in the event have been faster (both Swanston brothers have been under 2min and Charles Francis scratched). 2min of faster has won that meet since before 2008, even in Summer Nationals when the selected National Team members were not there. (Close 2nd - 100FR)
Weakest Women's Event: Women looked pretty strong... I'm stumped on a weak event.

Special Honors: I am particularly impressed by Georgia, Michigan & Indiana. Georgia had Brittany MacLean & Chantal Van Landeghem ready to swim (even though BMac pulled a hamstring at the meet and missed the 400FR). Michigan helped Hassaan Abdel Khalik get back on the team and made Richard Funk better than last season. They also had Marnie Oldershaw finish 3rd in 400IM and 3rd in 200IM (although DQ'ed on a turn infraction). Indiana saw many of their athletes get better this season and contend for medals. UPDATE: Also special nod to OAK, who placed 2nd to UBC Dolphins as a club team. Having a club team place that high amongst Centre affiliated teams is a big accomplishment, congrats to them.

So when we look at the stats above: 
1.) If I was going to send an athletes anywhere in the NCAA, Michigan & Georgia would be at the top of my list.
2.) Only 4 CIS schools contributing to this years World Championship Team from my count - the majority coming from UBC.
3.) 11 CIS athletes and 5 NCAA athletes on the team. The odds look to be in the favour of CIS athletes. However, a further look reveals that 9 of those 11 are Training Centre Athletes.... and their main goal is to make the National Team and medal internationally - NOT to peak at CIS meets. 
4.) 2 of the 5 NCAA athletes are Olympic Finalists (lets be honest, no chance they're going to miss the team). 
5.) 4 high school athletes made the team!??!?!??!? Kelly Aspinall missed the team!?!?!??!
6.) I'm not confident that this is the strongest men's team (or even women's team) that Canada can be sending to World Championships. I expect to see 1:59 or faster win Summer Nationals in men's 200BK and certainly something faster than 50.3 win mens 100FR. I'm still not convinced that this is the best time for a trials since everyone will likely be faster in 2 months.
7.) There is a second chance to qualify for World Championships - if athletes can make the FINA A cut in finals at the Mel Zajac meet @ UBC in May - although very few athletes were close enough to expect to make it. LOSC's Chelsey Salli, and a few others in the deeper events have a very solid chance to make the team still, but I wouldn't expect a flood of additions. 

Congratulations to everyone who made the team and good luck to everyone else. 
Look for an upcoming #coachmikepodcast featuring interviews with Richard Funk, Hassaan Abdel-Khalik, Brittany MacLean & Zack Chetrat.