The Final Meet
It was our final meet together. We, the YMCA kids who grew up slogging miles in the same six-lane pool, summer after summer, winter after winter, year after year. Our final YMCA National Championships before heading off to college. We had a group of 10 or so seniors, and many of us swam together since we were kids. We wanted this final meet to be special.
20 Question Tuesday: Katie Ledecky
What a summer for Katie Ledecky. Her record swims last month in the 800 and 1500 even caught her a little off guard. The 2012 Olympian talks freestyle, living near DC, and what the future holds in this week’s 20 Question Tuesday.
Olympic gold medalist Bill Mulliken passes away
Bill Mulliken, a gold medalist at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, passed away last Thursday, July 17. He was 74.
Freestyle Recovery: Swing Forward, Relaxed and Wide
The freestyle arm recovery is the most visually recognizable motion in swimming, and is therefore one of the aspects that is most often coached. The recovery itself doesn’t create forward movement, but a good recovery is important because it largely determines where your hands enter the water and provides incredible support for the motion of the arm that is pulling underwater.
Mike's Mailbag: Your Next Shot
Every Monday I answer questions from swimmers around the country. If you have a question, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catching Up with Ian Crocker
There’s no denying Ian Crocker had incredible passion for swimming when he was competing. Crocker enjoyed a long, successful career spanning more than a decade, but when he knew it was time to retire in 2012, he made the decision with little hesitation.
Top 10 Swim Cities, at a Glance
Which swim city saw participation grow 16 percent in the last year? Has the highest concentration of Masters swimmers in the U.S.? The highest number of USA Swimming clubs? Has hosted multiple national championships? Find out here.
3 DIY Pre-Competition Meals for the Whole Team
It’s the night before a big meet, and the team is getting together for a pre-competition meal. Should you go out to a restaurant, or stay in? If you’ve got a willing parent and a venue, I say cook! Not only will there be money saved, and greater control over the food ingredients, your team may even achieve a higher level of camaraderie.
50 Top Swim Cities, Presented by Speedo
Ann Arbor, Michigan, is the best swim city in America, according to a new study commissioned by USA Swimming and leading swimwear brand Speedo. The community claimed the highest aggregate score in categories such as percentage of active swimmers and swim clubs, number of accessible pools and volume of top-level swimmers from the area.
U.S. vs. The World: How Do We Look So Far?
As we all start gearing up for this summer’s Phillips 66 National Championships, there is sure to be plenty of discussion about who will make each team’s roster. While there is little use in speculating about these things before the competition, there is still value in looking at current benchmarks.
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 email@example.com.
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.
Disability Swimming Award Nominations Open
The Nominations for the Trischa Zorn Athlete, Disability Committee Service, and the Jimi Flowers Coaching awards are now open. Nominations are due in by August 1, 2014.
Scholastic All-America Application Available
Applications for the 2013-14 Scholastic All-America recognition program are now available on the USA Swimming website. This membership recognition program is for USA Swimming student-athletes who have completed the 10th – 12th grades in 2013-14 and have swum a qualifying pool time or competed in one of five designated meets.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike's Mailbag: Eyes and Expectations
Every Monday I answer questions from swimmers around the country. If you have a question, email me at email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 email@example.com.
USADA Issues Hemp Advisory
THC is the active component in marijuana (e.g., hashish, pot, weed, etc.) which
comes from the marijuana plant and produces the “high”. THC is prohibited in-competition by the World Anti-Doping Agency. When an athlete is tested in-competition, their urine is screened for the presence of THC.
Deck Pass Perks: Easy as Tap, Scan, Win
USA Swimming released its latest version of Deck Pass, which features Deck Pass Perks! Deck Pass users can receive exclusive deals from USA Swimming and its partners through Deck Pass Perks.
Mike's Mailbag: Coaching Decisions and Creative Solutions
Sometimes swimmers or parents 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.
Outside the Box Training: Must be the Shoes
It’s a training exercise some programs have used, and continue to use, with permission from aquatics facilities managers, of course. Just grab an old pair of shoes, pick a main set, and go swimming.
9 Goals for the School Year
The start of the school year is like New Year's Day: It’s an opportunity to hit the reset button and create the good habits for the rest of the year. Here are 9 goals you can work on this school year
Club Excellence Spotlight: Nitro Swimming
Creating a fun, motivational environment for both athletes and coaches is a proven recipe for success in any sport. Head coach Mike Koleber has made this a priority at Nitro Swimming in Austin, Texas, and the team’s philosophy has certainly paid off with a seventh-place finish in the 2013 USA Swimming Club Excellence program standings.
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?”
Lessons from Legends: The Rubber Duck
Only a few days remain before the swimming competition at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, where several critical post-Olympic year questions will be answered. While these stories unfold in Spain, all over the world there will be different contests taking place. They will be the launching the careers of new swimmers chasing the legendary Rubber Duck.
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.