Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Coach Bill Boomer is our 'Master Po' and he knows 'Swim-Fu!"

Above and to the left is an image of 'Master Po' from the American television series, Kung Fu. The show ran on ABC television from 1972-1975. The late great actor, Keye Luke, portrayed the blind Shaolin monastery priest whose character was expert in both Kung Fu and the Tao.

In the series, Master Po, mentored a young orphaned Chinese/American boy named, Kwai Chang Caine, in the sublime arts of Chinese philosophy and martial combat. Ultimately this led to the culmination of a Chinese/American Shaolin priest.

Set against the backdrop of the American west, each Kung Fu episode was really two shows in one: When faced with a moral or an ethical conflict in the present, flashback sequences were used as Kwai Chang Caine reflected upon his teachings with Master Po for answers as to how to resolve his present conflicts.

For entertainment sake this usually meant 50% of the his problems were resolved philosophically with communication and good feelings whereas the other 50% were settled with really cool fight sequences.

Bill Boomer is swimming's version of "Master Po."

First, here is some background info on Bill Boomer from wikipedia: "... Boomer had no experience coaching swimming when he started at Rochester. The graduate assistant to the track and field team had in fact never seen a swim meet prior to being offered the job. In order to better understand his swimmers, Boomer studied how the human body reacted to the water in a pool. From there, Boomer developed swimming techniques similar to those used by aquatic animals, and those techniques would then be adapted by some of the best swimmers in the world. Boomer's techniques emphasize keeping the core body aligned properly to minimize water resistance. ..."

What Boomer and the art of Kung Fu have in common is that they both use animal analogies to describe fighting styles and swimming styles. Kung fu has the Crane style, the Tiger, the Praying Mantis, and Bill Boomer uses cats and dogs to describe the swimming styles of swimmers.

Boomer granted an interview with Brent Rutemiller of Swimming World Magazine where he used his animal metaphors and analogies much like "Master Po" would in Kung Fu.

For example, he compares Gary Hall to a cheetah; a guy who is up for one precise hunt and then he is done! Whereas a leopard; (read that as Michael Phelps), can hunt multiple times in a single day. Then he says that Dara Torres was a cheetah forced to train like a dog but now trains like a cheetah and suddenly she is swimming faster than ever.

Olympian, Erik Hochstein called this interview " of the best interviews about swimming I have seen/heard in a long time." I feel it is a load of fun and very helpful for those swimmers looking for their inner-animal. As for my style I am probably a kitten!

Here is a link to that interview: [Link]


Ahelee said...

This is one of my all time favorite interviews as well. EVERY coach should hear it - and swimmer too.
If they are really in tune with their body, training and results the animal will be obvious!

I'm a cat who at times enjoys training like a dog. Both love to lay around afterwards in the sun though!

Tony Austin said...

You're so a leopard; so is Natalie Coughlin.

Stylecoach said...

I like your blog. You discussed what is the topic in this article and then you gave an example and comparison in the topic to real life. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work, GREAT!!!

Tony Austin said...

Thank you, I am very flattered. :-)

santarosamasters said...

People tell me I am a coufar, what does that mean?

santarosamasters said...

People tell me I am a coufar, what does that mean?