Wednesday, June 26, 2013

USA World Championship Trials

The Trials began last night and everything you need can be found right HERE. Live streaming video of  prelims & finals as well as live results, heat sheets, psych sheets, etc. Last night held some of the fastest swimming in the world. Tune in and check out the madness!

And 6 More Things That Coaching Has Taught Me...

Some of you have really enjoyed this series. 6 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.
Lessons 21-25 can be found HERE.

26.) Everyone has their own agendas, and they aren't always in the best interest of everyone else - Swim Parents are not immune to this phenomenon. Athletes have different reasons for getting involved in sports; just as parents have different reasons for getting involved in the running of their kids sports. Sometimes it's to prove a point, or to put it on a resume or just so that they can control the club colours. In any event, I have learned that the intentions of volunteers are not always altruistic. Usually harmless... but not always altruistic.

27.) Meeting deadlines, punctuality & effective communication are all life skills; coaches should not miss the opportunity to teach those skills.

28.) "Do Not Disturb" or "Blocking Mode" are great tools for cell phones especially if your phone is glued to you like mine is. Smart phones created the 24 hour work day. This season I did 2 great things for my sanity: a.) I stopped forwarding my work email to my smart phone. I could still get it, but it wouldn't be pushed to it. This made me not cringe with anticipation of a problem every time my phone buzzed. b.) I put my phone on "Blocking Mode" between 10pm and 7am - meaning it would not alert me of anything or ring between those hours (unless I pre-allowed the number to contact me). Thus, no more work emails at 4:45am right when I wake up and no more late night texts or emails stressing me out. If you do not have this function on your phone, look into it!

29.) Money does not equal success. Just because a coach makes a lot of money does not mean that they are a great coach. When speaking to a high level Canadian coach in California, it came up that Canadian coaches in general make a lot of money but have not produced nearly enough to warrant that cost. Being a head coach is nice because the money is alright - but right now, I value the information that will help me warrant that cost more.

30.) It's only great until it isn't. People always have shorter memories for the good things and longer memories for the bad things... until its over... then we tend to remember how great things were.

31.) "If you don't want something repeated, don't tell anyone." ~ John C. Thompson (my Dad). Technically coaching didn't teach me this one... but it's always good to remember as a coach.

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

Why kids quit sports? 

Two ingredients that make Passion work in your life - 

Psyched out by the competition? 
How do you teach kids to deal with mistakes -

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Oops... not what I meant.

Earlier this evening, I tweeted the following statements which got picked up by a couple of online publications (although this comment was not at all relevant to any story, in my opinion):

Within an hour, I had been reached by a couple of Canadian coaches and athletes disappointed that I would publicly put down Canadian Swimming in this way. I feel that I should apologize just as publicly as I offended. I am sorry if my comments were construed as being "anti-Canadian" or un-supportive to my own cause. It was not intended this way at all.

I was simply amazed that Katie Ledecky had such ridiculous speed in the opening 200 of her 800FR. 2:00.67 is bloody fast, obviously by American and World standards as well!! I do not think that anyone should deny or ignore it! I do not think that it is necessarily relevant to anyone outside of this nation where it would rank in our country, but to ignore the fact that it is incredibly fast would be a tad "head in the sand". Congrats to Katie, she had a hell of a swim! Lets congratulate her rather than taking it personally.

I'm not sure that anyone can really call me unsupportive to Canadian Swimming (my countless hours of writing on this blog, coverage of Canadians at Major Canadian Meets for other websites as well as my podcast, Google+ Community for Canadian Coaching & OFF THE DECK series pushing Canadian Swimming all over the web, suggest quite the contrary) but I can see that my comments were irrelevant and poorly worded, given the way they have been taken by Canadian coaches and athletes. For that, I am sorry. I am a swim fan and got wrapped up in the excitement of a great race. Please forgive me and keep reading.

Yours Truly,

Mike Thompson

A Link From My Mommy

My mother +Arlene Thompson emailed this article to me today and I liked it so much I thought I'd share it with you. It was also her Birthday yesterday so please wish a Happy Birthday to my Mom!

Friday, June 21, 2013

What Are You Practicing?

"The key is not the 'will to win'...everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important."

Coach Bobby Knight was all about preparation and held tight to the notion that practice is just as important as the game. 

Especially as Ontario & Canadian Age Group Championships and Senior Nationals (Selection for Junior World Championships) approach, practice becomes very important. Practicing the simple things and executing them precisely and properly should be of key importance the closer you get to your key competitions. Do you grab onto the wall with your last stoke or practice proper finishes. Are you sure that you know what your BK flag count is? Are you routinely doing the right number of strokes and/or kicks during your race pace work or kick outs? 

What indicators are there that you are going to achieve your goal? There needs to be something more than just: "I'm expecting a best time". What has changed since your last race to indicate that there is room for improvement and what have you been working on improving? It is my experience that if you cannot (or more likely are unwilling to) practice doing key race strategies correctly (or are unable to because you're not at practice), there is very little chance that you'll be able to do it in a race. Don't believe me? Try holding a 5 cycle breathing pattern for an all out 200 after practicing 2 cycle patterns every day. It's just not likely to work. 

Practice what you want to achieve and take every opportunity to improve very seriously; especially now... because time is running low.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Links Of The Day With Jocelyn Jay

Passing on body hatred (especially to all the mums, be careful what you say) - 

In defense of much? When? 

Fathers, stop coddling your kids - Ruben Navarrette says it's time for fathers to set the standards on their kids instead of the other way around. -  

Why do we Fall - "Limits, like fears, are often an illusion" - Why Do We Fall - Motivational Video

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Email From Sean Baker at Mare Nostrum

The following is an email from Sean Baker of the Oakville Aquatic club. Sean was one of the coaches that was selected to the Mare Nostrum tour. He sent this email earlier today with his observations of world swimming during this tour. The thing I found most interesting was point #3 below; a harsh but honest truth. Please read!


date: Tue, Jun 18, 2013 at 6:16 AM
subject: Mare Nostrum tour
Today we finished our last practice here in Canet en Rousillon.  The group did well; all made second swims and got alot out of the trip.  We were able to watch incredible performances as well as incredible athletes...all good to fuel our fire towards July.

Here are my top 3 observations while on the Mare Nostrum tour...

1-The best athletes are reliable from one meet to the other and from one performance to another.  They have the ability to stand up and deliver tough swims in tough circumstances.
Most notably:

Belemonte (Spain) swam a negative split 800 (4:15/4:10) and then within 10 minutes, got up and raced a 4:39 400im finishing in 1:01-1:02

Hirai (Japan) swam heats, then came in to the B final warm up at 3pm, did 2 rounds of:

6x100@1:15 holding 1:00s
4x50@:50 (1-EZ 3-fast) at :29 seconds/31sc and second round at :28/:27s

Then swam another warm up at 5 pm and raced the 1500 in 15:01!

Chad LeClos (South Africa) the day before he raced, went 8.5km in the am (60x50@:40 holding. :30s) and 5km in the evening for 13.5km and the next day swam 100 Fly in :51!  Next day 200 fly in 1:55.  He now goes to Hungary for two weeks of 100km training/week and then will try to go 1:55 again BEFORE tapering.

2-Watch out for the Danish women...they are strong, lean and very fit.  Every day they did some sort of Dryland routine before & after to keep toned.  Pederson went 2:21 with a final split of :35 and 17sc!  I talked to her coach and he is aiming to get her to go all the last three 50s at :35... Add it up and she may go 2:17-2:18 WR.

3-It's not enough to be talented and dedicated if you want to win on the international stage.  It requires an incredible amount of work in and out of the pool...More than I think most realize (myself included) Athletes have to be extremely fit and lean in addition to being masters of their craft.  PRECISION jumps to every technical element.  Even in the women's 100Free final, Jeannette Ottesen Grey destroyed everyone in the first 15-20m just on underwater break out was over by the 30m mark and she was building into the 50!!!


Friday, June 14, 2013

Father's Day

I find it very amusing that my 3 year old son does not yet understand the concept of names, classifications and sub classifications. For example; I cannot be Daddy AND a boy AND a husband AND a son AND a brother AND a person AND Mike. I'm Daddy to my son, and for him, I'm thats an accurate description of what I am. To him, names are just descriptions of what things are. Another example of this would be him not understanding why Big Bird is named Big Bird. Yes, he is a big bird; but to my son, the name is only a description of what he is anyway. Puppy is the name of every dog he meets and Birdy is the name of every bird he sees and he will fight me (physically - I'm working on that) if I suggest that its a collie or a blue jay. This is appropriate of nothing, however, it does remind me of how often we can classify someone as 1 thing: 
  • A teacher has no life, they live at the school.
  • My mom enjoys making my bed and making my lunch because thats the job of a mom.
  • My dad loves to work because thats what he does.
  • An athlete doesn't do anything else, they do that sport and then disappear until I see them again to do that sport.
  • A coach coaches all the time because they love it.
I think it is important (especially since Father's Day is this weekend) to be aware of how we classify and be considerate of the fact that Dad works - not because thats what dads do - but because dad needs to take care of you and your family. That coaches work usually because they love what they do - but often they also need to take care of their families. Coaches often miss things happening in their own families because they are spending time with other people's children. I personally have missed my son's first birthday and my daughter's first swim meet because I have been working with other people's children and I have worked every single Fathers Day since I have been a Father.

Please do not misunderstand my reasons for mentioning this - I am not fishing for sympathy, love or compliments - but I do want to call attention to how we can simplify someone's importance. My father was never very active in my swimming career, but I know that he worked very hard so that I could afford to take it as far as I did. Although I did not really understand this until I was an adult, roles are only really 1 dimension of who and what people are. This fathers day, please take the time to appreciate not only the role that your father plays, but the sacrifices he makes to play that role. Take into account how much time someone else's father puts into their jobs so that you can be safe (Police, Fire Ambulance, Doctor, Nurse) get where you need to go (Cab, Bus, Train drivers) or compete (Officials, Coaches, Lifeguards, Sanitation Workers). All of these people are likely working, away from their families, on the day that is dedicated to them (and their fathers).

Happy Fathers Day to all Fathers!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Just a thought...

Below are a series of "Off The Deck" episodes I filmed while away in California. In the first episode (OFF THE DECK - Santa Clara Grand Prix) at the 8:45 mark he suggests that relays are important to Canada if we intend to medal at a world level (I do not disagree). My quick question of the day is this: Why aren't there relay qualifying times for anything in Canada? Not at the regional, provincial or National level do you have to qualify a relay to swim at any championship. This seems a little backwards to me.

Many teams lack experience as a relay and don't practice the important aspects, but we expect individual athletes at a world level to be able to execute and have a world class relay? Wouldn't it make sense to encourage club teams to put together relays and practice towards qualifying for the large meets? Is there a reason that we don't do this or we just haven't thought of it? I welcome feedback because these are honest questions that I do not know the answer to.

Anyway, OFF THE DECK episodes that were filmed in Santa Clara over the last 2 weeks can be found below. My podcast that was recorded on the trip can be found here and previous blog posts from the trip can also be found below this post. Be sure to check them out.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

30 breakfast ideas before a workout -
Perfect practice: Getting the most out of your training -
Focus on effort, not the outcome - 
Fuelling for performance -

Sleep deprivation and Performance - 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

First Practice Back

I arrive back in Georgetown at 1:30am and was up at 6:15 for practice this morning (Sunday). Call me what you will; just don't say I'm not committed!

I brought in high school track coach,  David Hyde, to work on actual track starts this morning with the intention of working specifically on the following things:

1.) Hip position: I wanted my athletes to learn to have their hips high while balancing forward and eliminate the "chest resting on their thigh"  start position.

2.) Driving Forward: I wanted my athletes to work on staying low after the start and drive forward -  not standing up after the start or jumping upwards.

I believe that teaching my athletes this skill would assist in their overall diving skill set and it certainly made them more aware of both of the above aspects of the start. I would recommend trying this as an experiment. If nothing else, learning a new skill can be beneficial to the overall skill set of any athlete.

A special thanks to Dave for his help this morning!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

I Lied - 1 More Post - Day 6 Training Camp

Alright, 1 more post. We were up early this morning (before 6am) to hit the water 1 more time, this time at the Santa Clara Pool where our camp started. Some swam a little easier this morning but Annie Harrison, Zack Chetrat & Martha McCabe were put through an intense challenge set that lasted about an hour (only about 400m of easy swimming in that hour - the rest was pretty high intensity). Now that the workout was done, we will head to the weight room 1 more time before an hour of rest and then head to the airport to fly home. Pics from this morning's pool workout can be found below.

Some members from Team Ontario will be headed to World Championships in Barcelona, Spain this summer (Chantal VanLandegham, Zack Chetrat, Aly Abdel Khalik, Chris Manning, Martha McCabe, Hassaan Abdel Khalik & Blake Worsley). 

Closer to Full Team Ontario Roster (missing Matthew Swanston, Jeffery Swanston, Kennedy Goss, Edward Liu,  Marni Oldershaw, Mack Darragh who had to leave camp early for other athletic & academic commitments). 

Zack Chetrat attacking some best average 50's Fly this morning.

Some other athletes had an easier morning.

A rare glimpse of Coach Titley's log book.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Training Camp Day 5

Due to the fact that we will be traveling tomorrow and I plan to pack up my laptop, this will be my final post from California. I will summarize the experience and what I learned in a post next week. Generally, working here with Ben this last week has been very beneficial and interesting. I have gained a lot that I can bring home to my program and take with me going forward. Thanks to everyone involved but especially thanks to the coaches (Ben Titley, Byron McDonald, Dean Boles) the support staff (Ryan Atkison, Heather Sprenger & Doug Freeman) and all of the athletes (Martha McCabe; Annie Harrison; Heather Maitland; Kennedy Goss; Paige Schultz; Bridget Coley; Vanessa Treasure; Chantal Vanlandegham; Marni Oldershaw; Zack Chetrat; Blake Worsley; Warren Barnes; Aly Abdel Khalik; Jeffrey Swantson; Hassaan Abdel Khalik; Chris Manning; Ed Liu; Mack Darragh; Matt Myers; Matthew Swanston; Frank Despond) for allowing me to work with you for this time. I was really pleased with the work we were able to do, the trust by the other coaches that I was capable to coach a group of that calibre and the trust of the athletes. 

Pictures of this morning session are below:

Guest coach, Brian Johns works with the IM'ers on suicide turns.

15m max efforts have been a staple of this camp.

Some interesting body control exercises.

A lot of pull this morning (countering the amount of kick that was done yesterday morning).

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Training Camp Day 4

Only 1 practice today and we're headed to San Francisco this afternoon for some sight seeing. Overall the level of difficulty wasn't too bad but these guys were still recovering from last night's killer. I really liked the kick focus and especially the kick speed focus. Pictures below...

Ben, Byron & Doug Freeman review the work from this morning's session.

Panoramic view of what our morning practice looked like.

The practice this morning (one of the few times Ben has used the white board).

A special guest appearance by former National Team member (and current coach), Brian Johns, this morning. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Training Camp Day 3

This morning was geared around technique & light aerobic work it was also quite cold out, so we decided not to do any pre-pool or post-pool work and came home to rest instead. This afternoon was VERY tough speed work. 

Being relegated to a 25yard pool doesn't mean that pool time is written off. Ben was very creative in coming up with a few VERY challenging sets that focused on high stroke rate and speed. I am really feeling like I am learning a lot from Ben and can bring a lot back to my own program as a result.

Some more pictures below...

Team dinner tonight with our athletes.

Blake Worsley & Vanessa Treasure review this afternoon's practice together.

Ben advises the group about some key technical issues between reps.

Team meeting before afternoon practice. It's nice to be able to do this stuff outside.

Ryan is happy with the results of the speed workout this afternoon.

Zack Chetrat & Chris Manning get ready for a tough speed set this afternoon.

Coach Ben Titley

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

Confronting the Coach: Why you should wait 24 hours -

How processed foods are killing you one bite at a time! Do you know
how factory foods deplete your body and mind? Need some additional
inspiration to start making healthy, real food choices? -

5 ways to relax before your next big swim -

The Psychology of motivation explained - 3 factors that can transform
work into play -

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Day 2 Training Camp

I think that most of the athletes would agree that this was a tough day. Most did weights in the morning and then followed with a tougher set tonight encompassing a lot of kick and aerobic work, but was divided by sprinters, mid-distance and distance specific sets. Many of the athletes were cramping up today, but were reminded by Coach Titley that they are aware of the conditions around them and that they must be responsible for proper hydration and nutrition during this camp - they need to be responsible for what goes into their bodies so that they can train. This was recieved well by the athletes, who are all looking forward to what tomorrow brings.

If you're interested in whats going on down here in Santa Clara, check out my episodes of OFF THE DECK on the Swim Ontario page. I also posted a podcast with some interviews from down here which can be found here.
As always, you should check out my blog and follow me on Twitter(@coachmikeswim) because I am posting a lot of pics and comments as well as a series of #knowyourontarioathletes posts to help you know these athletes a little better.

Athletes Annie Harrison & Heather Maitland study the complicated practice before hitting the water.

Biomechanist, Ryan Atkison looks for different angles to observe technique.

Members of Team Canada, Hassaan & Aly Abdel Khalik

Coach Ben Titley organizes the athletes prior to the main set.

Fast under water sprints to start tonight's workout.

Ben observing the practice.

Olympians, Martha McCabe & Blake Worsley receive instruction from Coach Titley.

Coach Titley explains the workout to Kennedy Goss.

Blake Worsley shows team mate Hassaan Abel Khalik what he observed during the main set.

A panoramic view of our training environment.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Day 1 Training Camp

We Started our camp with an easy long course swim this morning. After a small break, we headed back to the pool for a short course yards & dryland practice that was very intense! I must admit, the work on paper did not look terribly hard, but the focus was on intense speed and race technique execution. It was an unbelievable 2 hours (Off The Deck video outlining the camp is coming) and I am having trouble organizing all of the new ideas I have. More to come, new pictures below...

Coach Ben Titley addresses the swimmers after some pre-pool work.

Chantal Vanlandegham, Jeffery Swanston, Zack Chetrat, Warren Barnes & Hassaan Abdel Khalik line up to attack this afternoon's practice in the blazing California sun.

Underwater windows allow our coaching staff to get a closer look at the technical aspects of their intense speed efforts.

The group had an easy early morning swim around.

Yards sprint workout!! Lets go!!

Here is just a clip of what we have been doing. More video to come later this week.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Guest Post: Ryan Atkison

Ryan Atkison is a Biomechanist based out of the High Performance Training Centre in Toronto. Ryan completed both his B.Sc. (2008) and M.Sc. (2010) in Kinesiology at the University of Western Ontario, specializing in sport biomechanics, and is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Originally from London, ON, Ryan formerly worked with the Canadian Sport Centre Pacific team from Halifax, NS where he coached with the Halifax Trojan Aquatic Club. For the past two decades,Ryan has been heavily involved in competitive swimming as both a coach and national level athlete. 

Pre-Reading: Why Swimmers Must Spread Their Fingers & Toes

The constructal-law physics of why swimmers must spread their fingers and toes.
Lorente, S., Cetkin, E., Bello-Ochende, T., Meyer, J.P., & A. Bejan. Journal of Theoretical Biology 308 (2012) 141–146.

In this paper, the authors attempt to show that an optimal finger spacing exists for maximal paddling force in human swimming. Previous studies have modeled the human hand and shown through simulation that slightly spaced fingers have higher drag coefficients than hands with either no spaces between fingers or with large spaces between fingers. However, since these simulations have been based on models of specific individual hands, they have not allowed appropriate scaling rules to be adopted; and, have not mathematically optimized the spacing between fingers.

The results of this study validate previous results that drag force is greatest when fingers, or in this case four cylinders, are spaced slightly apart. The authors offer a theoretical prediction that the fingers must be spaced twice the boundary layer thickness of one finger. Subsequently, the authors use computational fluid dynamics to predict that the optimal spacing between cylinders is 0.2-0.4 times the diameter of each cylinder (finger) at Reynolds numbers from 20 to 100. Fortunately, these findings can be interpreted with a basic understanding of fluid dynamics and biomechanics…

First, these simulations are performed on four cylinders that are not connected in any way. Human fingers are connected to hands, which are connected to forearms, and so on. The fingers occupy a small proportion of the propelling area of the arm, so any gains offered by optimizing finger spacing are negligible compared with gains offered by optimizing the orientation of the hand, forearm and upper arm during pulling actions.

Second, the authors use the thickness of a boundary layer as a reference for spacing, which is far too small to measure or control. When water flows around a solid object the molecules that directly contact the object’s surface stick to it, and slow down the adjacent molecules. This thin layer of water surrounding the object is called the boundary layer. Since the thickness of a boundary layer is measured in molecules, this spacing is not something that can be detected by the human eye or actively controlled by a human swimmer.

Third, the simulation results do not appear to be congruent with the initial theoretical predictions (0.2-0.4 times the diameter of a finger is a lot larger than twice the thickness of the boundary layer!). This is easily addressed by looking at the range of Reynolds numbers used in this simulation. The Reynolds number (Re) indicates whether the flow around a rigid body is laminar (smooth) or turbulent (chaotic). A very low Re indicates the flow is predominately laminar, whereas a very high Re indicates predominately turbulent flow. In competitive swimming this number is high, in the range of 10,000 1,000,000, indicating predominately turbulent flow. Thus, since these simulations were performed in low Re, these specific findings are irrelevant to human swimming.

Finally, humans come in very different shapes and sizes. Fingers are rarely of uniform thickness, and for most, the joints are thicker than the rest of the finger. This results in small spacing between each finger even when the joints are pressed together. Thus, it is nearly impossible to eliminate finger spacing!

- Ryan



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