Mike Gustafson: For This I'm Thankful
When I dive in, my heart pumps. Underwater, I listen to it. The faster I go, my heart beats louder, like a drum. In these empty, weightless waters, with each stroke, with each length, the beat gets louder. For this, I’m thankful.
For What Are You Most Thankful?
Tis the season to give thanks, and we all have different people, places and things for which we are grateful and feel blessed. Here are the things for which swimmers and coaches are thankful.
20 Question Tuesday: Peter Vanderkaay
Peter Vanderkaay’s career could well be summed up with one word: Consistency. The three-time Olympian is calling it a career. He shares some memories and tells us what he's up to in this week's 20 Question Tuesday.
The Secrets of the Chinese
There is a fantastic video making rounds on the internet that provides some behind-the-scenes training footage of the Chinese Olympic Diving Team. Here are three big takeaways that seem to be applicable to swimming.
Mike's Mailbag: When You Don't Accomplish Goals
I'm a sophomore in high school and I've dedicated my life to swimming since third grade. I've faced the harsh reality that I'm not fast enough to swim in college and now I'm wondering if there's a point to all this?
Kevin Cordes: Swimming Beyond Adversity
As he took the blocks for his leg – the breaststroke – of the United States’ 400 medley relay this summer at the Pan Pacific Championships, Kevin Cordes experienced his own version of déjà vu.
Andrew Gemmell: Auspicious Homecoming
Andrew Gemmell and his dad, Bruce, have a somewhat complicated relationship. There’s the father-son bloodline that’s provided both good and bad circumstances and outcomes. It’s because of this that their connection as coach and pupil has developed its own set of interesting circumstances over time.
Time Trials to be Offered at Winter Nationals and Winter Juniors
The 2014 AT&T Winter National Championships (Greensboro, NC) and Speedo Junior Championships (Federal Way, WA) will both be 3 ½ day events with a Long Course Time Trial on the morning after each meet. Bonus events will also be allowed for both events, although for the AT&T Winter Nationals, bonus events will be allowed for 18-under swimmers only.
Mike's Mailbag: New Training Groups and New Injuries
Every Monday I answer questions from swimmers around the country. If you have a question, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
20 Question Tuesday: Kevin Cordes
Arizona’s Kevin Cordes now has an American record to count to his credits, but he’s looking for more. The transition to long course swimmer is still a work in progress, but he’s not about to back down. He talks about that and more in this week’s 20 Question Tuesday.
Mike's Mailbag: Distinguishing Between Pain and Injury
Every Monday I answer questions from swimmers around the country. If you have a question please email me at email@example.com.
Mike's Mailbag: Eyes and Expectations
Every Monday I answer questions from swimmers around the country. If you have a question, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fix Late Breathing in Freestyle
Breathing too late in freestyle is one of the most common and problematic issues in all of swimming. If you have no idea what it means to breathe late, then you’re probably guilty of it too.
Mike's Mailbag: Climb Your Own Everest
Every Monday I answer questions from swimmers around the country. Please take this advice with a grain of salt, but I have seen many scenarios as an NCAA swimmer, part-time coach, and swim writer. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at email@example.com, and I’ll try my best to help.
Mike's Mailbag: Sprinting vs. Distance
Sometimes swimmers email Mike Gustafson questions for advice. He's not a doctor or swim coach, so take his advice with a grain of salt, but he's been around the sport his entire life as an NCAA swimmer, coach and writer. If you have questions please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dryland: The Benefits of Yoga for Swimmers
In March I wrote an article about incorporating certain types of dryland training to improve fitness and athleticism. After that article was posted, I received a lot of feedback and questions from both athletes and coaches. The most common of these questions was, “What about yoga?”
Top Tips to Boost Iron Intake and Absorption
Swimmers need adequate iron for performance. Here are the top tips for getting enough iron in your diet along with tips to help maximize the absorption of iron.
Get Your Head in the Game
Even minor mistakes when it comes to head position can throw off a swimmer’s body line significantly. Over the past few months I have started to take notice of how many athletes have poor head position, and how much this can affect their body line.
Blood in the Water
In this forum I have had the opportunity to write about the USA Swimming National Team blood chemistry program. This past April, the impact of the blood chemistry program was presented to the coaches in attendance at the National Team Coaches Seminar in Colorado Springs.
Butterfly Technique and Race Trends
This free web presentation gives an easily understood and detailed analysis of how butterfly is swum properly and effectively. Using video and pictures for demonstration, the foundation for the best stroke for most swimmers is established.
Top Tips for Feeding Teen Swimmers
USASwimming.org nutrition contributor, Jill Castle, recently published “Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School,” and I asked her to offer her top tips for feeding teen swimmers. Many of our readers are looking for sound nutrition advice with practical tips for families of active swimmers and this book is the go-to source.
Following Routine: Should I Do a Wake-Up Swim?
With the summer championship meets just around the corner, a lot of athletes and coaches are working to finalize the details of their race-day plans. While there is something to be said about the calm and confidence that can be gained through following a routine, the ability to be flexible and adapt to situations is something that gives elite athletes an edge.
Concentration: The Master Skill of Mental Toughness
Your training and health being equal, what you concentrate on at meets is the main cause of your best and worst swims. When you struggle with going faster in practice than races, faster in your off-events than your best ones or being unable to break through and get a certain time, faulty concentration is usually the main cause.
The 10K Race is not a Marathon
Also known as the marathon event, the 10K open water race is perceived as a long, steady-paced swim. The 2012 London Olympic race proved that it is anything but. In fact, successful pool swimming can make open water success very attainable.
Where We Are: A Grand Prix Times Comparison
At last weekend’s Mesa Grand Prix, I had a number of conversations with various people about how the meet “felt like” the beginning of the ramp up to World Championship Trials. For a number of reasons – strong international field, new location and facility, summer-like conditions, big crowds – Mesa seemed to mark a change in approach and intensity.
Lessons Learned from National Junior Team Camp
Colorado Springs played host to the National Junior Team Camp last Thursday through Saturday, and there was no shortage of lessons to be learned. The two that stood out most to me were the importance of peer coaching and creating the right culture.
Swimmers' Lungs are not Like Other Humans'
Conventional wisdom says that lung capacity cannot be increased. There are mechanisms for athletes to increase how efficiently they use the oxygen they inspire, but increasing the actual capacity of the lungs is considered to be a dodgy proposition. But, wait a minute!
Backstroke Hand Entries
In backstroke, it’s widely known the hands should enter pinky-finger first and above the shoulder or just outside of the shoulder. Yet one of the most common and recognizable flaws are hand entries that are too narrow and/or with the back of the hand. Why is that?
Performance Comparisons: Trials vs. Olympics
As a follow up to my previous article on Olympic Trials Progressions, I did some research into how our team went on to perform at the Olympics. We collected information from 56 total swims (52 individual swims plus 4 relay leadoffs) and tracked the best Olympic performance compared to each athlete’s lifetime best and their fastest performance at Trials.
Women’s Freestyle Tempos
Last week, we looked at men’s freestyle tempos and highlighted important points about tempo. This week, we look at women’s freestyle tempos from the top 8 performers at 2012 US Olympic Trials.
Men's Freestyle Stroke Tempos
Tempo is an involved topic, but for mature senior athletes and their coaches, having at least an awareness of tempo can be valuable. Some coaches use tempo as a regular training measure, and these numbers show what the best in the country are racing at. Here the tempos for the top 8 male performers at 2012 US Olympic Trials.
2012 Olympic Trials Progressions
In the weeks and months that follow an Olympic Games, we spend a lot of time looking at who made the team and how they got there. One of the things I have been looking at recently is the progressions these athletes follow during Olympic Trials.
Avoiding Overtraining Syndrome and Benefitting from Overreaching
The best way for coaches to avoid their athletes experiencing Overtraining Syndrome is to recognize when they have begun to overreach. In reality, few athletes are ever over-trained, but all athletes experience overreaching.
A Demographic Shift: Ages of U.S. Olympic Swimmers
Recently, I have written two articles about the path our 2012 Olympic athletes and medalists took to London. This article is going to continue to expand upon that research and look at the progression of our Olympic rosters as a whole over the last few Olympic cycles, in particular the age of our Olympic qualifying athletes.
Kids and Caffeine Don't Mix
You should think twice before offering a child an energy-enhanced product. Are they already in the habit of drinking a cup of coffee before or after they compete? Probably not. According to a 2011 report in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, energy drinks are “never suitable for children or teenagers.” Additionally, what is considered a caffeine boost for adults may be excessive for teenagers, and possibly cause high blood pressure, seizures or anxiety. (Senelick, 2011)
Goal Setting and the New Year: Be SMART
It’s that time of year again… a new beginning. The time when we all commit to New Year’s Resolutions. If you are like most Americans, you will make it your goal to do something, or not do something, for the next year. But how many of us actually keep these resolutions?
Six-Beat Kicking a Distance Race
It’s pretty clear that the trend in distance races is to six-beat kick the whole race. The evidence is strong. The current trend of six-beat kicking can translate down to a good 400 and 200. In other words, SPEED, which is absolutely essential to a competitive 800 and 1500 now.
The Pathway to an Olympic Medal
Last month I wrote about the developmental tracks taken by our 2012 Olympic Team in terms of their participation in previous USA Swimming camps and competitions. This month I am going to discuss similar research that we have done on our medalists and the progression by which they came to their success in London.
1500 Freestyle: How the Best Swims It
The London Olympics saw eight different world records broken, including the men’s 1500m freestyle, in which Sun Yang dropped his own world record by more than three seconds. Only three men have swum a sub-14:40 race in a textile suit, and Sun Yang has done it three times. So how does he do it and what does is mean?
Juicing and Performance
A recent New York Times article confirmed that a number of Olympic medalists benefitted from juice at the 2012 London Games; more specifically, Beetroot juice and Tart Cherry juice. The research on both is only a year old, but the findings seem to be positive for these natural and healthy foods.
Breaststroke: Learn to Tempo Up
Breaststrokers need to be able to change gears to find speed at the end of a race. That ability is driven by your technique and emphasis on driving the body, arms, and hands forward; minimal emphasis on pulling a lot of water back.
2012 Olympic Team - How Did They Get Here?
We at the National Team Division are turning the page on a successful London Olympics and are beginning to look forward to 2016. As such, rather than the usual discussion of something technical you can do in the water, this article is going to focus on the path by which our 2012 Olympic athletes came to qualify for and compete at the games.
Turns: Foot Placement on the Wall
Turns are a bit like stroke techniques and snowflakes, no two are exactly alike. However, from observing some of our top athletes, here are a few general technical thoughts.