Friday, May 31, 2013

Morning Session Day 2 - Arena Santa Clara Grand Prix

Warm-up at the Santa Clara Grand Prix

A familiar face (although a more familiar voice) Chris Hindmarch-Watson announcing the event.

Canada's Olympic Silver Medalist Ryan Cochrane gets ready for 400FR

Marni Oldershaw excited to be part of Team Ontario

Heather Sprenger (CSI) measures Paige Schultz's hydration levels.

Ryan Atkison & Alan Wrigley of CSI doing race analysis.

Kennedy Goss (lane 5) ready for 100FR

Chris Manning, Frank Despond get blood lactates measured and Heather Maitland refuels.

View from the rear of the Aquatic Facility

Media Trucks parked for this event... Live Web Streaming Below:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day 1

Bridget Coley finished 4th (out touched by. 07 for a bronze medal -  did not see the hard charging Brazilian from the outside lane) and Heather Maitland finished 7th in the 1500FR. It was Brigdet's 2nd fastest 1500 ever and Heather's 2nd best 1500 ever as well. Both girls noted that the sun was quite hot during the race and it was something that they were not used to. Coach Byron McDonald noted that they likely felt that they were overheating towards the end of the race -  the water temperature was cool but the sun  was at its hottest - something that these swimmers (particularly Heather who is participating in the Open Water 10km at FISU games) will have to get used to.

The action continues tomorrow. Follow the live results here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Day Before the Meet

Santa Clara Grand Prix: I'm going to try to post some pictures daily and do as much tweeting as I can so be sure to check back here daily and follow me on Twitter. Currently, Team Ontario is prepping for the meet and learning about swimming at a high level. This is what our day looked like.

Team Pre-meet Meeting 
Morning swim around @ Santa Clara

Mac Darragh  & Annie Harrison packing up after a pre-meet workout

Foothills College: location of Swim Ontario's post Grand Prix Training Camp

Warren Barnes & Ben Titley discuss strategy prior to pace work

I'm not getting any closer to Ryan Lochte than this... I haven't been particularly kind to him on this blog.

Some of the Team Ontario guys enjoying the sun after warm-up

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

We've arrived

Just a quick post before I fall asleep. We arrived in Santa Clara much earlier today and hit the pool quickly to swim off the travel. Pics below. More Tomorrow.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

I'm leaving for Santa Clara for the Grand Prix tomorrow and am going to be a little behind schedule for about a week... So I'm going to post this earlier than usual and hopefully have some stuff about Santa Clara up later in the week. Enjoy.

Thought provoking links....
Have American parents got it all backwards? Though parents around the world have the same goals, American parents like the author (despite very best intentions) have gotten it all backwards.

Advice for Swim Parents: Give more to Get more -

How hard should parents push their children? -
Design for hard work, not comfort -

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

Parents should judge kids, not just coaches - 

10 foods that will boost energy - 

How to use visualization to improve your swimming - 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Breaking Down The Obvious...


  1. The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.


  1. The state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something


Responsibility to someone or for some activity.

Self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.

There is a rather obvious link between the 4 words above. In your swimming career, you are always accountable for your results. You are responsible to make sure that you get all the little things done (no breathing off the start or walls, keep pace, finish properly, etc), being reminded or not. A huge danger in training is complacency; you get too easily satisfied by doing the bare minimum or getting away with not doing things properly. You need to keep your motivation and avoid complacency.

Motivation and complacency is often a 2 way street with the swimmer and the coach. Speaking as a coach, few things are more de-motivating than having to tell the same teenaged swimmer who has been swimming for a long time to NOT breath off of the first stroke every practice... on par with that is having to tell that same athlete to stick to the rules of a set, catching them not paying attention to their strategy, or having to remind them that they are missing too many practices. As a coach, these things are warning signs for things to come. It is demotivating because the coach has flashes of a disappointing performance, a crying athlete and an angry parent; less than fun times to come. A lot of times its easier and more motivating to work closely with the athletes who are doing it well and you know are going to be very successful at the next competition (I am not saying that this is right; just stating the obvious mindset --> path of least resistance).

There is a definite relationship between athlete motivation and coach motivation and, if started in the wrong direction, can certainly spiral downwards (athlete is disinterested --> coach gets disinterested --> swimmer gets less interested, etc). Many athletes expect to be told things too often rather than taking the responsibility to practice doing it well even if no one is watching. Don't do it so I'll be happy; do it so you'll be really happy when you're successful. That's what this is all about.

This audio is from my interview with Randy Bennett around 2 years ago. I love this clip so much I want to marry it and have 3 baby clips with it! Randy talks about the misconception around how hard it is to win at a high level and articulates it very well. Work this backwards to any level; if someone wants to beat you, they're going to do it if they want it more.... not necessarily in that 60 seconds, but in the 6 months leading up to that 60 seconds. 

So what do we do now?

Athletes: It is your job to do things properly. ALL THE TIME, not just when you feel like it or are having a good day. Sure, you might have a sniffly nose or a sore arm or you're hungry or over tired... but life doesn't give you a day off when you feel crappy. Your competition is still training to get better... even on the days that you have a lot of homework. Championships will still run when the day after Little Jimmy didn't sleep well. And guess what - when you grow up and get a job, you have to show up to do that job everyday, no matter how you feel, no matter how nice it is outside, no matter how badly you want to go to your cottage, no matter how many times you were up with a vomiting child, no matter how much time of your life it takes. Train to be tough so you can take it in swimming. Make it a characteristic so you can bring it into other aspects of your life!

All clubs are in the business of creating great people, not just great swimmers. And yes, you can be a "great guy" and very likeable even if you don't do the work... but you can be a much better one if you commit yourself to doing the work everyday. 

Stay Motivated & Motivate Those Around You. Take Responsibility For Your Swimming. Be Accountable For Your Decisions & Actions Inside and Outside Of The Pool. Avoid Complacency - Never Be Satisfied With Just "Getting It Done"! Do Something Special Every Time.

Update: You need to read this article. Thanks JJ for the hook up!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Open Water Season

With HHBF's First Annual Open Water Meet on the horizon and +Swim Ontario about to release the details for Open Water Provincial Championships, I figured I would touch base with Ron Jacks of Pacific Coast Swimming, who also happens to be the coach of Olympic Bronze Medalist (10KM swim), Richard Weinberger, to talk Open Water Swimming.

 I've been meaning to have Ron back on the show for a very long time, but he's a really busy guy. Luckily we arranged some time in Victoria at World Trials to have a phone chat. You are cordially invited to listen in.

Ron talks about the World Cup in Cozumel, Mexico; the state of the sport in the world and in Canada and about what makes an outstanding Open Water swimmer. Some good sport science stuff at the end. Coaches, swimmers and parents should enjoy episode 43 of #coachmikepodcast.

As always, you should check out my blog and follow me on Twitter(@coachmikeswim). Check out my archived past episodes as well.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

Baseball Perspective - "Hey Parents....Your kids sucks!" -
Swim practice can teach a critical skill: mental focus -
The 5 facets of performance preparation - Swimmers can learn from this too -

A great commencement speech by David Foster Wallace!! What life is really like!

Words from John Wooden

I came across interview with John Wooden today and thought I would share it. I love hearing John talk and I really wish I could sit down with him today. Instead, I have to learn from his words. Enjoy this...

Friday, May 10, 2013

5 More Things That Coaching Has Taught Me...

Some of you have really enjoyed this series. 5 more things to add to my growing list of things that coaching has taught me.

Lessons 1-10 can be found HERE.
Lessons 11-20 can be found HERE.

21.) Not all great coaches are great at things outside of coaching. Just like you, coaches are good at some things (the aspects of the sport) and terrible at others (managing money, personal relationships, driving, etc). That doesn't make them bad people or bad coaches and shouldn't diminish their value to the sport. Remember, their job is to coach athletes; if they're good at it, value them for that. They are not infallible. (Editors note: The TV show Scrubs illustrated this point very well in an episode called "Her Story" - Season 4 episode 5).

22.) I did 10 hours of work yesterday but you only saw me for 4 hours of it. "Out of sight, out of mind" applies heavily to parents and executive members in this sport.

23.) Expectations are too high in Ontario & Canada if we continue to expect the most important aspects of stroke mechanics, control & technique to be taught my the least experienced (often teenagers) and lowest paid employees of the club system. 

24.) How not to parent. I've learned a lot from observing various styles.

25.) This is a very "what have you done for me lately" type of sport... but it shouldn't be. Athletes careers span 10-20 years. Preaching patience is key - both to your membership and to yourself; although the athletes you have now seem like they define your career, working with an athlete for 4 years out of a 40 year career means that what you're doing now only accounts for 10% of your career.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

A Coaches Perspective - Why technique is important -
Parents' Behaviour towards Youth Coaches -
Breathing and Swimmers' Posture - The role of breathing for posture in swimming -
Young person - This certainly applys to everyone in different ways -

Monday, May 6, 2013

10 Swim Meet Commandments

I spent long hours at a meet this weekend with every age group and saw lots of things... I saw lots of things! Some things I witnessed I could not make sense of and some of them I thought could use a reminder; while others may have been through inexperience and ignorance. Thus, to cover all bases (in an honest effort to help you) I bring you THE 10 SWIM MEET COMMANDMENTS.

Coaches are going to love this, but I'm likely to get about 50 angry emails from parents.

This is set up with the Commandment 1st, then whether it is geared towards athletes or parents, then an explanation of the commandment.

1.) Come prepared & take responsibility for your preparedness & your swimming! Athletes.
Forgetting a suit, goggles, a towel, etc is not a great way to start a meet session. Therefore, trusting someone else to pack your bag for you is not necessarily the best way to be prepared. Take ownership of your swimming with something small like packing your own bag. Think about what you will need and make sure that you have it. 
Parents: let your athletes be responsible for remembering to eat, drink, go to the bathroom and getting behind the blocks on time at the meet. This will make them better athletes.

2.) Know what you're going to the meet to swim and what you want to accomplish! Athletes.
I may have a permanent imprint of my hand on my head at the end of my career from the number of times athletes come to meets and have no idea what events they are swimming - which implies the following 2 things: a.) that they cannot possibly have prepared for the events ahead of time thus b.) they will have to recall tactics & warm-up very quickly. Most clubs give information sheets to families (events, times, facility, etc) well in advance of the meet; look at them the day before the meet. If you had no idea that you were swimming a 1500FR and showed up, surprised to be swimming it, do you think it is going to be the best possible 1500FR? 
Editor's Note: You'd be surprised how many people ask what events they're swimming after warm-up is done... I have no idea how to warm-up for the unknown.  

3.) If you're older than 12 you should not have events, heats and lane numbers written on your hand! Athletes.
I'm a big believer of allowing athletes to use their brain power and memory, not using the aid of having things written on their hands. Stay involved in the meet and you won't miss anything!

4.) Junk food is not a good way to kill time! Athletes & Parents.
I know that days get long and boring, but that should be even more reason to not allow yourself a sugar crash! Eating is not a good way to pass time anyway, but giving an athlete junk food to pass the time is a terrible idea. If they cannot stay focused on the meet, there are lots of other, less harmful, ways to fill time.

5.) Cheer for everyone and NEVER cheer against anyone! Parents.
Poor form to cheer against anyone, first off, but meets are so much more fun when you get involved. Fast swimming is fun to watch, so hope for it; cheer for it! Please do not mistake this commandment for speaking to the athletes directly ("Hey Jimmy, are you ready to go!?!?" or "Jimmy, you suck!") that is even frowned upon in professional sports. Keep your distance, let these guys race - just support & cheer for fast swimming.

6.) NEVER interrupt a focused athlete who is ready (or getting ready) to race! Parents & athletes.
This is an extension of what I have written above, but athletes need to be focused. Even if you're an official and you know the athlete 2 feet from you that is about to race, it is not okay to divert their attention from race preparation to you. 
Athletes: everyone prepares differently and you need to respect that. Just because someone is not very talkative before a race or looks angry, it has nothing to do with you and it is not your job to change their mood. 
Parents: While I understand that officiating may not be fun if the above example is one of the ways you may make it fun, please stop! You need to remember that young athletes can be sensitive and not understand why you have said what you have said to them. This changes their focus and can be a major distraction to what they are about to do - regardless of your positive intentions.

7.) Check warm-up times, plan a route to the pool & consider traffic at that time of day... do all of this WELL IN ADVANCE! Parents.
Parents, call my Mom (+Arlene Thompson) and ask her how she was able to NEVER, in 15 years, make me late for warm-up at a swim meet without such nifty tools as Google Maps, GPS or Traffic Feeds. It is doable, you just need to plan stuff in advance. 

8.) Communicate with your coach! Athletes.
Coaches are there to help you prepare, handle issues, watch the races & offer feedback (amongst other things). They are the paid (usually) professionals. Athletes should ALWAYS report to their coaches before and after races. Parents: It is okay if your child doesn't talk to you right after their race and talks to the coach first; this is part of the sport. Please let them do their jobs - do not interfere. 

9.) Treat the facility with respect! Athletes.
Trust me; the rules apply to you! When the lifeguard says "no eating on deck", it usually means that there should be no eating on deck. I was astounded how many times I had to tell (the same) swimmers this on the weekend and how much crushed up soggy food ended up on the pool deck for the lifeguards & coaches to clean up. 

10.) Even if you're volunteering at the meet, the meet is not about you! Parents.
Always remember that this is something that your athlete (in many cases, your child) does, not you. You, as a parent, may feel uncomfortably removed from the equation during meets, but please remember this: It's okay to be a spectator and/or a supporter at this time.
Even though meets are put on by the parents of the athletes, meets should always have the best interest of the athletes in mind and athlete success as it's core purpose. I know it can be boring for you; but please remember that you are doing this for your athlete and for other athletes, not for you. If, at any point, a meet becomes about an official, a parent, a coach or anything else that is not about the swimmers,  it has failed in its central purpose.

Thursday, May 2, 2013



Due to HHBF's ever growing size, The Guelph Marlins LC meet can no longer accommodate us, which is unfortunate. Luckily, HHBF was able to get some space in GHAC's Stratton & Bond meet at McMaster University the same weekend. Senior, Squad 1 & Squad 2 will have gotten meet sheets in their boxes on Thursday May 2nd; please make sure that they are returned by Saturday May 11th - the host club needs our entries ASAP in order to accommodate us.

The meet package can be found here. Please note that we can only swim 2 events/session (should give most people 6 events) and that the sessions are much more like what we are used to. Hopefully no more changes will be required to our schedule this season - however, we are looking into offering another, non mandatory, racing opportunity for those who do not qualify for Central Region Championships (possibly the weekend of June 8th-9th, TBC), giving these athletes an opportunity to race outside of McMaster University.

With the change of Swim Ontario's programming and lack of LC facilities in Ontario, most teams have changed their meet attendance, which throws other teams into uncertainty - plans have become very unpredictable this season - but we will continue to swim fast regardless of the opportunity! We appreciate your patience.


Mike Thompson
Head Coach

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

Embrace the training - Looking at the bigger picture of training and competing. -
A few tips we (parents and coaches) can all use as we approach competitive situations. These tips will help us maintain perspective – and stay “even keel”. -

Three huge mistakes we make leading our kids...and how to correct them -

John Tuggle, the 1983 NFL draft's Mr. Irrelevant, was anything but irrelevant to legendary coach Bill Parcells. The normally tough coach will guide us on an emotional journey as he recounts his own rookie season as the head coach of the New York Giants.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Re-run of some interesting links

I originally posted these links back in september, but they're so timeless I'll post them again...
The Immune System and the Elite Swimmer: Several researchers have studied the link between training and immunity in swimmers. This 2 part series explores the link.

Superbodies: Dr. Greg Wells is a friend of the Swimming community and to #coachmikepodcast. He did the Superbodies segments for the London 2012 Olympics which were brilliantly put together. Here are a couple of my favorites. 

Greg also has a Superbodies book out that I have read and thoroughly enjoyed.


Five Things You Must Know About Stress: Click here for this article. 

ESPN 30:30: Arnold Schwarzenegger's military service and disadvantages played a critical role in his success. Say what you want about Arnold, but he is VERY successful and its not by accident. Watch this 10min piece by ESPN 30:30. Its very well done!