Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Mike Bottom inspires Vanderkay: "Instead of it being like a job, it's fun again."

Could Bob Bowman be the final holdout on "garbage yardage?"

The article among others leads me to believe that Bob Bowman may be working his swimmers to hard. From, Katie Hoff crying, to Peter Vanderkaay stating: "Instead of it being like a job, it's fun again..." I think it is demonstrable that the intense purpose to win despite all physical and emotional costs ends up becoming a festering wound that consumes both athlete and any joy connected to any victory.

Now the words of praise for both Bottom and Vanderkaay:

Hats off, and a Kung Fu, Taoist, salute to Coach Bottom who apparently took a burned out swimmer regretting each workout into a swimmer who wants more. That's motivation, that is good coaching. The desire to do better is senior to just hard work alone.

the article details Vanderkaay's yardage as well.

From the Freep.com:

Mike (Bottom) is brilliant at putting all the aspects of the sport together. People would be surprised how little yardage I do compared to what's historically thought necessary for the 1,500."

[Link]

49 comments:

livefreeswimhard said...

What would be good for the sport, would be for Vanderkaay to challenge Michael in the 200 free. We need our Kobe vs LeBron or i guess Kobe vs Rondo now. And that last quote in the article just says it all. Urbancheck show him the door, Bowman pushed him to his limit, and now Bottom is showing him how to put it all together. Im loving stories like this Tony.

Tony Austin said...

Thank you, I am very flattered :-D

Wendy said...

I really enjoyed this one too Tony!

TedBaker said...

Bowman's challenge is that he coaches Phelps and Phelps has - as demonstrated countless times - freakish powers of recovery. The guy can do the work of 10 men.

Bowman clearly can't adjust his coaching style to other athletes. He may be Phelps' perfect coach and the two of them have reached the very pinnacle of the sport - and they're still going - but it's pretty obvious that Bowman is not a great coach in that he can't adjust his style to reflect individual athlete's requirements.

Bottom, on the other hand, is a great, great coach. Countless successes with countless athletes. Be interesting to see if Vanderkay stays with a distance emphasis or if he drops down and focuses on the 200.

Trev said...

For sure, good coaching is just as much (if not more) psychological as physical.

Tony Austin said...

I disagree. I don't think Mike Bottom is a "great, great Coach. I think he is a great, great, great, coach. You missed a "great", Ted. >.<

Ahelee said...

Different swimmers thrive under different coaches.

Thank God our swimmers have choices.

Anonymous said...

Have to disagree with you Ahelee...

99% of the coaches use the Bowman, Urbanchek, Schubert..etc training model, which limits the choices.

Coaches like Bottom and Salo prove time and again, their training model reaches all swimmers, distances and strokes.(Leaves barely 1% choice really.)

Tony Austin said...

Hi Anonymous,

Do you agree with this statement: Swim coaching technology is an oxymoron. i.e There is no technology. The plan seems to be to nearly kill swimmers with each set for coaches don't check heart rates, blood pressure, or other factors like they do in cycling and even track and field.

The fact that the best swimmers want nothing to do with a pool when they retire; (Popov, Thorpe, Evans and probably Phelps), is a testament that each workout is seemingly a negative workout in that they have implied that did not want to come back the next day.

Mike Bottom, and I will buy his DVD because of this article, has seemingly brought back Vanderkaay from the dead and now you have a swimmer who wants to show up and win. That to me is the perfect coach.

Chris DeSantis said...

Yes particularly if you are an age group swimmer coming up you are severely limited. I had the pleasure of visiting a club in my area recently that is offering something other than the eggs against the wall training model. It was a joy and you could tell the kids loved it. The atmosphere was completely different than other places I had visited.

Anonymous said...

So I was a swimmer for years, all the way through college, and then masters swimming (I'm 40 now). Six years ago, I got in bike racing of all things. I hired a coach. I learned of this concept called "recovery." There are some really easy days mixed in. About once a month, we'll totally back off the volume. I'm back swimming again, on a great master's program, but I have yet to see any of this recovery! Is it that cyclists are weak, or that swimming is missing the boat?

bigbuba0 said...

If you like this article I would suggest reading "Sprinting - A Coach's Challenge" by Sam Freas. Besides being a bit of a religious nut, Dr. Freas was well ahead of his time and a big fan of the less is more mentality.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tony:

Your technology in swimming question is a good one. My favorite quote on this subject came about two years ago from a person in a high leadership position in the New York Times that went as follows; “I get as far away from technology as I can in my coaching. No matter how much we try to dress it up, swimming is really a low tech sport.” I for one was really embarrassed how our sport was portrayed, and for some reason this negative attitude toward technology somehow seems to really threaten many of these long time experts.

My other favorite example were those “at practice” videos that were on Floswimming. Even though I’m sure these coaches probably knew a head of time Garrett was coming to visit, I always found it interesting how when he used to ask, “So what are we doing here?” almost every time sent these coaches stumbling for words trying to explain. And if you watched enough of them, eventually we would get to the old standby, “And we throw that in just for varieties sake” quote. Numerous times in the comments section below there was almost always a post like, “WHAT did he/she just say?”

Friendly Suggestion: I personally think it would be refreshing when your unveil new web site, to search for people actually using or developing real technology for swimming, and not continue to promote and regurgitate the old belief system, I alluded to above. There is already plenty of that stuff on the web already.

Scott said...

I'm with Ted Baker on this one - Mike Bottom is one of the best coaches in the world, something which cannot be said of most of our so called "elite" coaches who in my opinion have essentially just won the 'lottery' and ridden the prodigious talents of one or two swimmers they've happened upon to the top.

In a piece I wrote a couple of years ago titled "A Sporting Icon: The Great Arthur Lydiard" explores the whys and wherefores of Lydiard's high volume training, a program which over the decades has been incontrovertibly proven to be the surest way to competitive success. The article is fairly extensive because his coaching methods are misunderstood and misapplied by the overwhelming majority of coaches. But then it takes an talented coach to take the underlying principals of "Lydiard's Way" and use them correctly as each athlete's individual circumstances dictates. And that level of talent is about as rare on the ground as Olympian athletes are.

Personally speaking I think today's mania about "Less is More", a very limited training approach which which could only apply to a very few individuals aside from those under truly crushing training loads (what dumb ass coach doesn't know about the absolute necessity of recovery training?) So consequently, when I hear about some elite athlete posting incredible improvements purportedly due to reducing their training down to a mere handful of hours a week, my first thought now is that all they've really discovered is the wonderful world of doped performance.

Anonymous said...

Dear Scott:

With all due respect, you are terribly misinformed. The perception of “Less is More” for those of you using the traditional long slow distance model simply means just doing less of the same training model, and that’s not the case. For some reason, in swimming, that is perceived as being not motivated or willing to train hard.

The model we are referring to comes from training at speeds, and stroke frequencies that mimic race conditions on a regular basis. This model trains and recruits the metabolism through the same metabolic pathways an athlete incurs during race conditions. In addition, it programs the neuromuscular system giving swimmers a chance practice and improve their technique to those same race conditions/speeds. Ask anyone that has had a regular dose of this type of training, and they will tell you it is every bit as “hard” as your long slow distance model, if that’s the barometer. Fortunately for those of us that are more informed, it just so happens, you don’t have to go 80,000 yards a week to get at least the same improvement rate as the traditional model. The only down side to this training model is we have to wear that “slacker” moniker you long slow distance guys always give us. Have fun riding that horse and buggy home from work today. :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Ted:

With all due respect, you are terribly misinformed. The long slow distance crowd always confidently assumes that the “Less is More” training model means continuing to use that model, simply by doing less training volume, or getting good results through using performance enhancing drugs. In fact the “Less is More” model does not even remotely mimic any of the training methods you describe in your post.

The model we are referring to is one that allows a swimmer to train at velocities and stroke frequencies that replicate race conditions on a regular basis. Training consistently at race speeds allows the body to recruit metabolism through the same metabolic pathways used during competition, making those processes more efficient. In addition, and more important than the metabolic benefits, the neuromuscular system is reprogrammed, allowing for the practice and improvement of stroke techniques used in racing. It is not necessary to train 80,000 yards a week to get at least the same performance improvements or more. Ask anyone that has had a regular dose of this training model, and they will tell you it is every bit as hard as the long slow distance model, if that’s the barometer. The only down side to this training model is the “slacker” moniker all you long slow distance guys give us.

In any case, have fun this weekend traveling around on your horse and buggy. :)

Chris DeSantis said...

Scott,

I read your blog but I didn't find the incontrovertible proof you referenced. Could you direct me to it?

TedBaker said...

Scott, I have to disagree with you on the "doped performance" reference, at least as it applies to the story of Vanderkay, Bottom and Bowman.

I've seen it, personally, many times: An athlete comes out of a high volume programme, burnt-out physically and mentally, goes to a lower volume programme and excels.

I'm betting that Vanderkay is getting better performances because he is reducing his workload. He's sharper mentally and he's not as broken-down physically.

Interestingly, though, I think that Vanderkay does illustrate Lydiard's coaching methodology: He - Vanderkay - have a very, very high mileage base, that has been built up over many, many years.

Working with Bottom, though, allows him to stay fresh and mentally sharp which helps him race. Bottom is working with him to exploit the "Lydiard-base" he has worked so hard to get.

TedBaker said...

The challenge with training at race speed all the time is, frankly, the same challenge associated with so-called "long & slow" training: The body and brain breaks down.

Training cycles, long & short, deal with the issues noted above. Long & slow - and both are relative terms - supplement race speed training - and vice a versa - at various points throughout the these cycles.

Great coaches are master cycle-planners and they, like Joe Bottom has shown, are very good at planning their athlete's training loads and adjusting them to their specific physical and mental states.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ted and Scott:

Wrong Again Gentlmen! Please stop using your belief based model to describe a training model based on objective evidence.

Our model doesn't put athletes in metabolic chronic fatigue, and is built around recovery, so burnout is minimal. FYI..The body actually gets stronger and training adaptations only occur during the recovery phases that is part of the weekly training cycle. Again let me emphasize however, the importance of being able to use or develop stroke techniques as speeds similar to competition. The potential technical improvements is really where this model is superior to your long slow distance model.

I do however have a friendly suggestion: In two weeks, the greatest swimming minds in the world will be convening in Oslo Norway for the XIth International Symposium on Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming Symposium. This symposium only happens every 4 years, so it is considered the "Olympics" of swimming knowledge. No opinions or shooting from the hip there, just peer reviewed by the best.

There is also a book that is produced and if you want to really explore a world of real information about swimming performance and training.

Just Google the symposium name above.

Scott said...

Anonymous, Chris DeSantis:

Trying to discuss training with you two is like trying to discuss God with a born again Christian – you’ve come to a decision and have closed your minds to any argument against your position regardless of the logic behind it.

Anonymous: You remind me of my sister. At dinner talk turned to the legalization of marijuana. I've been a long time advocate. My sister, on the other hand, was vehemently against it. She told me I was misinformed when I pointed out pot use is much less harmful than the smoking or drinking. The studies I referred to studies were fraudulent and that in fact government studies show pot use causes serious brain damage. Our practice of designating drug use and related addiction a crime completely ineffective leading to many in law enforcement now in favor of its legalization? Not acceptable – pot was illegal therefore law enforcement could not possibly be in favor of its legalization. Case closed. How does one argue with someone who refuses to recognize any sources other than his or her own? The next day I emailed her several studies and reports by recognized medical institutions, government bodies, and widely distributed reports of police forces from around the country calling for legalization. Later in casual conversation I asked her what she had thought about the articles and was shocked to discover she hadn’t read them, didn’t want to read them, and wouldn’t read them – they had been deleted.

You, Anonymous, are no different. Instead of considering the counter arguments presented you insist on creating the same straw man arguments already shown false in order to create something against which you can win. “Base Building” is not long and slow swimming – something my post and Arthur Lydiard clearly emphasizes. If you constantly trot out proven misconceptions as fact then you have only yourself to blame for not being taken seriously.

Chris DeSantis: As Ted Baker pointed out at the beginning of this thread what makes Mike Bottom a great coach is that he takes what is offered and alters his coaching techniques to the individual in order to bring out the best in each. You clearly are not of his calibre. All the while railing away at the dogma of traditional training methods you incongruously appear to have aligned yourself 100% in the “Less is More” camp. Let’s hope all your swimmers have an abundance of fast-twitch muscle fibers. If you can’t recognize your statement “I read your blog but I didn't find the incontrovertible proof you referenced. Could you direct me to it?” marks you as ignorant of basic swimming theory then I wonder what criteria was used to select you for your current coaching position. The incontrovertible proof lies in over a century of swimming competition – the fact that current practices have become traditional, with all the import and raison d’être that comes with the label. Because of the all the hard work and corresponding success of Duke Kahanamoku through to Don Schollander, Janet Evans, and Michael Phelps; because of the spectacular coaching successes of Doc Councilman, George Hains, and Bill Sweetenham; but most of all because spending a lot of time in the water is bound to help you swim faster. While it takes talent to sprint faster better endurance will guarantee faster times for everybody in any distance over 50 meters, and better endurance comes from distance work - something everyone can do.

Scott said...

Anonymous, Chris DeSantis:

Trying to discuss the pros and cons of training with you two is like trying to discuss God with a born again Christian – you’ve come to a decision and have closed your minds to any argument against your position regardless of the logic behind it.

Anonymous: You remind me of my sister. At a family dinner talk turned to the legalization of marijuana. I've been a long time advocate. My sister, on the other hand, was vehemently against it. Pointing out that pot use has been proven to be much less harmful than the smoking or drinking. She, however, retorted that I was misinformed. When I referred to studies backing my position she replied they were fraudulent, stating government studies show pot use causes serious brain damage. When I posited our practice of designating drug use and its related addiction a crime has been completely ineffective and now many in law enforcement are in favor of its legalization. Sis completely refused to accept this – pot was illegal therefore law enforcement could not possibly be in favor of its legalization. Case closed. How does one argue with someone who refuses to recognize any sources other than his or her own? The next day I emailed her several studies and reports by recognized medical institutions, government bodies (non-American naturally), and widely distributed reports of police forces from around the country calling for legalization. Some time later in casual conversation I asked her what she had thought about the articles and was shocked to discover she hadn’t read them, didn’t want to read them, and wouldn’t read them – they had been deleted.

You, Anonymous, are no different. Instead of considering the counter arguments presented you insist on creating the same straw man arguments already shown false in order to create something against which you can win. “Base Building” is not long and slow swimming – something my post and Arthur Lydiard clearly emphasizes. If you constantly trot out proven misconceptions as fact then you have only yourself to blame for not being taken seriously.

Chris DeSantis: As Ted Baker pointed out at the beginning of this thread what makes Mike Bottom a great coach is that he takes what is offered and alters his coaching techniques to the individual in order to bring out the best in each. You clearly are not of his calibre. All the while railing away at the dogma of traditional training methods you incongruously appear to have aligned yourself 100% in the “Less is More” camp. Let’s hope all your swimmers have an abundance of fast-twitch muscle fibers. If you can’t recognize your statement “I read your blog but I didn't find the incontrovertible proof you referenced. Could you direct me to it?” marks you as ignorant of basic swimming theory then I wonder what criteria was used to select you for your current coaching position. The incontrovertible proof lies in over a century of swimming competition – the fact that current practices have become traditional, with all the import and raison d’être that comes with the label. Because of the all the hard work and corresponding success of Duke Kahanamoku through to Don Schollander, Janet Evans, and Michael Phelps; because of the spectacular coaching successes of Doc Councilman, George Hains, and Bill Sweetenham; but most of all because spending a lot of time in the water is bound to help you swim faster. While it takes talent to sprint faster better endurance will guarantee faster times for everybody in any distance over 50 meters, and better endurance comes from distance work - something everyone can do.

Scott said...

Anonymous, Chris DeSantis:

Trying to discuss the pros and cons of training with you two is like trying to discuss God with a born again Christian – you’ve come to a decision and have closed your minds to any argument against your position regardless of the logic behind it.

Anonymous: You remind me of my sister. At a family dinner talk turned to the legalization of marijuana. I've been a long time advocate. My sister, on the other hand, was vehemently against it. Pointing out that pot use has been proven to be much less harmful than the smoking or drinking. She, however, retorted that I was misinformed. When I referred to studies backing my position she replied they were fraudulent, stating government studies show pot use causes serious brain damage. When I posited our practice of designating drug use and its related addiction a crime has been completely ineffective and now many in law enforcement are in favor of its legalization. Sis completely refused to accept this – pot was illegal therefore law enforcement could not possibly be in favor of its legalization. Case closed. How does one argue with someone who refuses to recognize any sources other than his or her own? The next day I emailed her several studies and reports by recognized medical institutions, government bodies (non-American naturally), and widely distributed reports of police forces from around the country calling for legalization. Some time later in casual conversation I asked her what she had thought about the articles and was shocked to discover she hadn’t read them, didn’t want to read them, and wouldn’t read them – they had been deleted.

You, Anonymous, are no different. Instead of considering the counter arguments presented you insist on creating the same straw man arguments already shown false in order to create something against which you can win. “Base Building” is not long and slow swimming – something my post and Arthur Lydiard clearly emphasizes. If you constantly trot out proven misconceptions as fact then you have only yourself to blame for not being taken seriously.

Chris DeSantis: As Ted Baker pointed out at the beginning of this thread what makes Mike Bottom a great coach is that he takes what is offered and alters his coaching techniques to the individual in order to bring out the best in each. You clearly are not of his calibre. All the while railing away at the dogma of traditional training methods you incongruously appear to have aligned yourself 100% in the “Less is More” camp. Let’s hope all your swimmers have an abundance of fast-twitch muscle fibers. If you can’t recognize your statement “I read your blog but I didn't find the incontrovertible proof you referenced. Could you direct me to it?” marks you as ignorant of basic swimming theory then I wonder what criteria was used to select you for your current coaching position. The incontrovertible proof lies in over a century of swimming competition – the fact that current practices have become traditional, with all the import and raison d’être that comes with the label. Because of the all the hard work and corresponding success of Duke Kahanamoku through to Don Schollander, Janet Evans, and Michael Phelps; because of the spectacular coaching successes of Doc Councilman, George Hains, and Bill Sweetenham; but most of all because spending a lot of time in the water is bound to help you swim faster. While it takes talent to sprint faster better endurance will guarantee faster times for everybody in any distance over 50 meters, and better endurance comes from distance work - something everyone can do.

Scott said...

Anonymous, Chris DeSantis:

Trying to discuss the pros and cons of training with you two is like trying to discuss God with a born again Christian – you’ve come to a decision and have closed your minds to any argument against your position regardless of the logic behind it.

Anonymous: You remind me of my sister. At a family dinner talk turned to the legalization of marijuana. I've been a long time advocate. My sister, on the other hand, was vehemently against it. Pointing out that pot use has been proven to be much less harmful than the smoking or drinking. She, however, retorted that I was misinformed. When I referred to studies backing my position she replied they were fraudulent, stating government studies show pot use causes serious brain damage. When I posited our practice of designating drug use and its related addiction a crime has been completely ineffective and now many in law enforcement are in favor of its legalization. Sis completely refused to accept this – pot was illegal therefore law enforcement could not possibly be in favor of its legalization. Case closed. How does one argue with someone who refuses to recognize any sources other than his or her own? The next day I emailed her several studies and reports by recognized medical institutions, government bodies (non-American naturally), and widely distributed reports of police forces from around the country calling for legalization. Some time later in casual conversation I asked her what she had thought about the articles and was shocked to discover she hadn’t read them, didn’t want to read them, and wouldn’t read them – they had been deleted.

You, Anonymous, are no different. Instead of considering the counter arguments presented you insist on creating the same straw man arguments already shown false in order to create something against which you can win. “Base Building” is not long and slow swimming – something my post and Arthur Lydiard clearly emphasizes. If you constantly trot out proven misconceptions as fact then you have only yourself to blame for not being taken seriously.

Chris DeSantis: As Ted Baker pointed out at the beginning of this thread what makes Mike Bottom a great coach is that he takes what is offered and alters his coaching techniques to the individual in order to bring out the best in each. You clearly are not of his calibre. All the while railing away at the dogma of traditional training methods you incongruously appear to have aligned yourself 100% in the “Less is More” camp. Let’s hope all your swimmers have an abundance of fast-twitch muscle fibers. If you can’t recognize your statement “I read your blog but I didn't find the incontrovertible proof you referenced. Could you direct me to it?” marks you as ignorant of basic swimming theory then I wonder what criteria was used to select you for your current coaching position. The incontrovertible proof lies in over a century of swimming competition – the fact that current practices have become traditional, with all the import and raison d’être that comes with the label. Because of the all the hard work and corresponding success of Duke Kahanamoku through to Don Schollander, Janet Evans, and Michael Phelps; because of the spectacular coaching successes of Doc Councilman, George Hains, and Bill Sweetenham; but most of all because spending a lot of time in the water is bound to help you swim faster. While it takes talent to sprint faster better endurance will guarantee faster times for everybody in any distance over 50 meters, and better endurance comes from distance work - something everyone can do.

Scott said...

Anonymous, Chris DeSantis:

Trying to discuss the pros and cons of training with you two is like trying to discuss God with a born again Christian – you’ve come to a decision and have closed your minds to any argument against your position regardless of the logic behind it.

Anonymous: You remind me of my sister. At a family dinner talk turned to the legalization of marijuana. I've been a long time advocate. My sister, on the other hand, was vehemently against it. I pointed out pot has been proven to be much less harmful than the smoking or drinking. She, however, retorted I was misinformed. Referring to studies backing my position she replied they were fraudulent, stating government studies show pot use causes serious brain damage. When I posited our practice of designating drug use and its related addiction a crime has been completely ineffective and now many in law enforcement are in favor of its legalization. Sis completely refused to accept this – pot was illegal therefore law enforcement could not possibly be in favor of its legalization. Case closed. How does one argue with someone who refuses to recognize any sources other than his or her own? The next day I emailed her several studies and reports by recognized medical institutions, government bodies (non-American naturally), and widely distributed reports of police forces from around the country calling for legalization. Some time later in casual conversation I asked her what she had thought about the articles and was shocked to discover she hadn’t read them, didn’t want to read them, and wouldn’t read them – they had been deleted.

You, Anonymous, are no different. Instead of considering the counter arguments presented you insist on creating the same straw man arguments already shown false in order to create something against which you can win. “Base Building” is not long and slow swimming – something my post and Arthur Lydiard clearly emphasizes. If you constantly trot out proven misconceptions as fact then you have only yourself to blame for not being taken seriously.

Chris DeSantis: As Ted Baker pointed out at the beginning of this thread what makes Mike Bottom a great coach is that he takes what is offered and alters his coaching techniques to the individual in order to bring out the best in each. You clearly are not of his calibre. All the while railing away at the dogma of traditional training methods you incongruously appear to have aligned yourself 100% in the “Less is More” camp. Let’s hope all your swimmers have an abundance of fast-twitch muscle fibers. If you can’t recognize your statement “I read your blog but I didn't find the incontrovertible proof you referenced. Could you direct me to it?” marks you as ignorant of basic swimming theory then I wonder what criteria was used to select you for your current coaching position. The incontrovertible proof lies in over a century of swimming competition – the fact that current practices have become traditional, with all the import and raison d’être that comes with the label. Because of the all the hard work and corresponding success of Duke Kahanamoku through to Don Schollander, Janet Evans, and Michael Phelps; because of the spectacular coaching successes of Doc Councilman, George Hains, and Bill Sweetenham; but most of all because spending a lot of time in the water is bound to help you swim faster. While it takes talent to sprint faster better endurance will guarantee faster times for everybody in any distance over 50 meters, and better endurance comes from distance work - something everyone can do.

Scott said...

Ted: You’re absolutely right – I have no issue with Vanderkay. Please reread what you've written and then compare it to what I've said above. As you point out Vanderkay is a perfect example of what happens to a swimmer whose coach teaches according to his or her personal beliefs rather than the needs of the swimmer. But you too are wrong about your perception of Lydiard. True, once Lydiard’s “base” is in place then the emphasis can and does move over to creating more speed, but endurance work is never at any point in time the only training an athlete requires if your actually read what Lydiard teaches. The good coaches understand and can apply the underlying principles, the average ones do not, and the bad ones blame their lack of success on "long slow distance" training. My ire is not directed at those who’ve been poorly coached and burned out only to return better and faster after rest and change in coaches (I certainly understand that) but rather at those who’ve reappeared after long absences and with little work quickly reestablish themselves at the top of the world rankings.

P.S. While I can easily disregard Anonymous’ rants the ramblings of those, like Chris DeSantis, who blithely throw away decades of proven, scientifically based training methodologies on an approach they clearly don’t comprehend, are starting to make me gag.

Chris DeSantis said...

So Scott, am I to understand by your inability to answer my question that this "incontrovertible proof" doesn't exist? If it exists I would like to see it- as a coach I am always looking for a better way.

I think you misunderstand my coaching pretty deeply, and I don't take it personally. I do rail against tradition, but I view all training methods with a critical eye. I think that we have very little understanding of the best way to make swimmers faster. If you had any insight into what I actually do, you would see that I do adjust training on an individual basis, and will continue to do so.

I am also a huge fan of the traditional great coaches- Doc Counsilman (not Councilman) is one of my favorites, but George Haines (not Hains) isn't far behind.

I won't take the dig as me not being as good as Bottom personally either. How many people are? I do hope to be some day though.

Scott said...

Well I appreciate you knowing how to spell certain names better than I; you certainly have the potential to be a good grade school teacher. But if you cannot look at the entire body of competitive swimming history and see it as definite confirmation that there is real merit and science in the traditional approach then I doubt you'll have a significant career ahead of you in swimming. Counsilman (I always spell his name wrong) and Haines (that was a typo) were both very strong supporters of heavy mileage; I don't see how you can possibly reconcile your distaste for mileage work and remain a "fan" of the two. And as for comparing you to Mike Bottom that was never my intention. Not because you don't have his skills - as a young coach you couldn't possibly have the skills and understanding of elite athlete coaching he has acquired over the past couple of decades - no one in your position would. But I did want to say that you don't share his unique intellectual capacity to take what is offered, understand both the pros and cons of what exists, and then build upon it without any preconceived ideas and create something new. That personal limitation is very clear from your statements. Again, very, very few can be a champion and the same goes for coaches. Mentally I have you down as a college freshman who aspires to become an Olympian champion but still can't make the B cut.

Sometimes being an elite athlete is not all fun and games. With a tip of the hat to Tony I don't see many Olympic Champions of any sport sticking around after their career is over and continue participating as a regular athlete. Being great takes a lot of hard work.

Chris DeSantis said...

I don't see any conflict between being fans of those guys and not believing in heavy mileage. I actually wrote a blog earlier this year about how Doc wrote an entire essay in the mid 80s defending his approach from Dave Salo's recently published works.

I admire Doc a lot because he recorded so much of what he did so that people could learn from his approach. He also generally did not make an argument without something objective to back it up. However, in this instance, he cited a sort of unrelated study, said that he had tried lower yardage one time and that it hadn't worked, and shot from the hip about the volumes that certain elite swimmers were doing (I know this from speaking directly with the teammate of one of the people mentioned concurrent to the article being written). Suffice it to say it was one of the weakest things i had ever read him defend. I was shocked.

I look at Counsilman and Haines the same way a modern astronomer might look at Tycho Brahe or Copernicus- in retrospect they didn't have it all right but that doesn't diminish them at all.

I really would urge you not to make such strong conclusions about how I actually coach from a few blog comments.

livefreeswimhard said...

You guys are hilarious.The suits are gone and now we are focusing on technique and training methods. Im just waiting for the Pan Pacs, which in my opinion is the most important meet in years. Glad we're talking about it, but we will see what training methods really prevail in the lead up to 2012, which will be an epic year for swimming.

Tony Austin said...

Well, since we are changing the subject, we are heading into the dark ages for US Swimming on the mens side.

2008 cannot be topped. China threw a 45-billion dollar Olympic games, we had Phelps, we still had some college swimming programs left, suit companies actually paid athletes more than $50k a year. Suit companies sprang up and created several innovative products, Alissa Filippi and Ricky Barrens, showed off their nice asses, Swimming was everywhere and it was the suits, Phelps, Beijing, that put it everywhere.

Now we are done for a while.

Anonymous said...

Hey Scott,

I am a swimmer of Chris' and I think your comments are completely out of line. Your comments show that you obviously don't know shit about him.

When Chris started coaching me, swimming was a job. It was something I did for my parents and to get into college. At first I was really uncomfortable- I had never had a coach that had been so hands off. He never yelled or even really raised his voice. The difficulty of any given practice was truly up to you. It was tough to take responsibility for my own training.

More importantly, whenever I had something important going on in my life outside of the pool, Chris was there. One of the highlights of my season was when I gave a very personal public speech at the end of the year- and sitting in the back was my swim coach.

Chris stressed to us that it was so important for us to enjoy the process, and that if we did we would get the result we wanted. If there was one thing he was forceful about it was getting us to tell him what we needed.

In the end of the year, I dropped a lot of time. I'm talking like, age grouper time drops. And I wasn't alone. I have never had more fun swimming.

So yeah Scott, as I said, you pretty much don't know shit about my coach. But I should thank you, reading your comments have made me realize how much I really appreciate him.

Anonymous said...

My last post on the subject..

My position is taken from from conducting two decades of swimming research, at a leading university. The findings have been peer reviewed by the best in the business, and have been used by leading swimming programs worldwide. Hope that's enough.

A simple search on Google Scholar using the terms "high intensity training in swimming" will reveal all the reading material you will need.

To Coach DeSantis: Being a young coach, let me point you to the upcoming international symposium in Oslo, Norway. Probably to late to attend, but they do produce a book of all the presentations. Up to the minute thought provoking swimming knowledge by the best in the business. The swimmers you work with will appreciate it, and is well worth the money.

(XIth International Symposium on Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming)

To Tony: I apologize if I'm ranting on your blog site.

I'm Out!!

Tony Austin said...

No, please don't apologize. If you guys are enjoying yourself, stating your feelings and it feels good, please keep it up.

I am also learning a lot.

Also, for viewers of this thread, here is a link to the new site I am building, it is not finished yet but I think you will like it:

wwww.swimwall.com

livefreeswimhard said...

Dark Ages. Really? I think not. We are going through a Renaissance. Like ive said before, if we start spending the money at the bottom and start teaching people how to swim we will have more fans, which in turns means that companies like Speedo will start making money off of selling things like goggles to the average consumer which in turn can create "monies" for the big dogs at the top. Ya dig?

Tony Austin said...

This is why i think dark ages: College programs are closing... We have no sprinters, role models, nor the controversy that garnered a lot of press attention. USA Swimming has been beset by lawsuit after lawsuit lately and even the press has no confidence in them. There is less money in the sport, and finally Phelps will retire in two years and there is no protégé in the wings to take his place.

Chris DeSantis said...

I think dark ages is anoverstatement, but our young males in particular are going to have a lot of catching up to do to even come close to maintaining the standard we currently have.

Tony Austin said...

Ipso facto Phelps leaving and with no other super hero to replace him leaves a void much like the tour de France felt when Lance left, much like the void swimming will feel when Michael leaves.

Scott said...

I recognize, Chris, that assessing your coaching style on a blog is unreasonable. Partly it’s the irritation coming from those anonymous commentators who insist on speaking up. Your former student, for instance tells me I don’t know “shit” about you (something I cannot disagree with even if his choice of language is deplorable) but then in one fell swoop he spoils it by continuing on to admit he never really appreciated your coaching until now (what?) and thinks you are a nice, caring individual. How nice – and how utterly irrelevant to this discussion. Another anonymous keeps flogging a book citing decades of university research butt won’t divulge his name, his university, or any supporting papers. In short, nothing like any of the scientists I know. And then there was that earlier anonymous (I’m sure readers are starting to notice a pattern here) who rambled on about anaerobic training allowing the body to recruit metabolism through the same metabolic pathways used during competition, effectively reprogramming the neuromuscular system. Really, if I were him I’d take that to the nearest neurology lab – a Nobel Prize in Medicine beckons to the first who can translate this breakthrough into the ability to repair damaged spinal nerves. With supporters like that you certainly don’t need my criticism.

I understand that within what is essentially the “Cult of the Less is More” is a real advance in understanding performance. But that increment in understanding has to be measured against the sum total of our knowledge on how to swim faster which has been gained from decades of competition between hundreds of thousands of athletes, coaches, and scientists. That Counsilman could only weakly rationalize why he supported high mileage training should not surprise anyone. As one of the very first to apply scientific analysis to swimming he perforce had unlimited choices in what to study. It was only logical he chose developing better technique. His personal experience, as well as the entire accumulated wisdom of his time, meant a near blind acceptance of the high correlation between volume and performance. Because for the average swimmer more mileage is always better. The average person. “Less is more” is merely a refinement of that basic understanding.

To me a coach has only one purpose – to improve performance. How one goes about it depends on the individual coach and what best motivates his or her charges. Be aloof or friend, a bully, a seer, a jerk, a figure of authority, or a taskmaster. Encourage them with words, punishment, sympathetic understanding, or by throwing endless challenges at them. But one person can’t be everything to everyone – a coach will have to decide what ‘flavor’ they are best suited to be. True, there are a precious few who can morph from one style to another but that ability is exceedingly rare, and people spot fakes a mile away. But to me the most important skill which can be brought pool side isn’t their interpersonal skills but rather their ability to absorb everything about their sport and then successfully turn around and integrate it into actual training. That requires an open minded willingness to learn about anything presented as a way to improve performance no matter how limited or faddish the idea seems at the time. Everything must go into the grist mill to be studied for that particular situation, individual, or combination thereof, where the idea might be successfully applied. Above all else, however, a coach should never turn his back on old, “traditional” practices. Traditions, whether cultural, military, or sport based, have become traditions for very good and real reasons. One ignores that underlying reality at their peril. Of course where and how far the individual coach and athlete pair go from there will ultimately depend on the abilities, talent, and work ethic of both. Just don’t throw anything out. You’ll need all the tools in your toolkit to make the most of your charges.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

It is you that missed the point. You boil down my comment to saying that Chris is a "nice, caring individual". I guess you had trouble reading so I'll put in in caps.

IN THE END OF THE YEAR, I DROPPED A LOT OF TIME. AND I WASN'T ALONE.

You say "to me, a coach has one job, to improve performance". Lets talk about how me and my teammates swam for Chris this year.

One of my teammates had never scored at the ACC meet. This year she scored in three events. She dropped three seconds in the 200 IM when the field on average ADDED over a second.

Another teammate had never scored at the ACC meet and was top 8 in the 100 breaststroke this year. He improved roughly 2 seconds in the 100 and 4 in the 200. Again, swimmers, because of the suits, ADDED time on average in those events.

The time drops go on. A kid dropping 2 seconds in the 100 fly to A final, a kid who had never broken a minute in the 100 br going 56. A girl dropping 4 seconds in the 200 breaststroke. I don't have the exact figures, but I believe someone on Swimming World showed that in every event, swimmers were adding .4 or .5 per 50 this year, and yet me and my ALL my teammates were dropping time.

Hows that for improving performance?

Scott said...

I do recall reading that Anonymous. I understood the point you thought you were making. To make things abundantly clear I have little doubt Chris is a better than average coach - his promotion to university level coaching (and his participation in this blog and others) provides more than enough bona fides for me. The issue here is whether he is correct believing that the accumulated experience of decades can safely be cast aside as outmoded thinking. If I were to apply this question to your specific situation it would come out as something like:

If you had been pushed harder a few more times, if you had swum a few thousand yards more, hurt more, could you have improved even more?

That, Anonymous, is what marks the difference between the merely good and the talented, and the difference between the talented and the elite, and the difference between the elite and the great.

TedBaker said...

Or, Scott, perhaps the question is:

If you had been pushed harder a few more times, if you had swum a few thousand yards more, hurt more, would you have broken down, physically and mentally, and swum slower?

The mark of a great coach is getting the best out of the athletes in their charge. Getting their best means adjusting methodologies to accommodate the individual.

To those who haven interpreted my posts as some sort of blanket endorsement of long slow mileage, I apologize for my lack of clarity. I believe in base building and volume, yes, but I also believe that the base itself and the volume is specific to the individual and the event.

Distance guys need miles in the water; it simply is thus. Sprinters need to perfect their strokes and simulate race speed as much as possible. Base building - or long(er), slow(er) swimming - can be used to work on stroke mechanics. Volume, for sprinters -especially in their later years - comes in the weight room.

Ahelee said...

Fascinating reading although I can't understand why you bash each other around so hard. Maybe its a guy thing...

Your arguments and points are so valid and worth debating.
These are the conversations that have potential to create great changes and ultimately better performances.

Thank you all for taking the time to voice your opinions. After sifting through the comments, I've taken away some new coaching ideas.

Ahelee

P.S. Do we know anyone who is attending the XIth International Symposium on Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming??

Anonymous said...

Dear Ted:

From USA Swimming - 2000 Olympic Trials Project. Studied all swimmers and training they did. Had to have an Olympic Trials Time standard, one year before the trials. Under the implications sections please note the following:

Implication #3:
3. Female sprinters as well as male sprinters and distance swimmers have tendency to increase dryland workload volume with
age. But it doesn’t seem to have an influence on performance progression since there is a negative relationship between
improvement and dryland hours per week for sprinters as well as distance swimmers. Therefore athletes should increase dryland workload carefully with age, especially distance swimmers. Coaches and athletes should make a decision about
increase of dryland workload based on evaluation of relation between dryland workload and performance progression. In
some cases, higher strength on dryland can lead to the reduction of performance because of higher drag in water.

Implication #4

As data show the later swimmers started long-term training (age started swimming and age started swimming year round)
the more they tend to work on dryland. However, it seems that dryland workload volume isn’t related to performance
improvement for distance swimmers as well as for sprinters. Therefore, swimmers should pay more attention to the
swimming workload instead of dryland workload.

Tony Austin said...

What a great thread.

Anonymous said...

From the XIth International Symposium on Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming Currently going on in Oslo Norway.

Increased Training Intensity and Reduced Volume for
12 Weeks Increases Maximal Swimming Speed on a Sprint Distance in Young Elite Swimmers

Johansen, L1; Jørgensen, S1; Kilen, A2; Larsson, T.H2; Jørgensen,
M2; Rocha, B2; Nordsborg, N.B2
1University of Southern Denmark, DENMARK; 2University of
Copenhagen, DENMARK
INTRODUCTION: Training volumes of elite swimmers consists of
40-70 km pr. week depending on the time season and competitive level.
Given this volume the average training intensity typically becomes relatively low, compared to the intensity during competition. The training is carried out over a large span of intensities and taxes anaerobic and
aerobic energy system. Hence it is reasonable to conduct both anaerobic and aerobic test´s in order to evaluate training effects.

METHODS: A
group of male (N=20;19±3 yrs mean±SD) and female (N=11, 18±3 yrs) elite swimmers were randomly assigned to an intensity training group (IG; N=16) or a control group (CG; N=15). For 12 weeks, CG continued their normal training of 25-50 km pr week including supra maximal bouts 1-2 times pr. week. IG reduced training volume by 50% and performed at least 4 sets of supra maximal interval training pr week. Before and after a 5x200m progressive step test on a 5 min cycle was performed. On the first 4 steps the speed was controlled and was the same on both occasions. The last level was as fast as possible with an even split. In the pause between repetitions a finger tip sample for analysis of lactate was
obtained. After a break lasting at least 3 hrs, a 100 m time trial test was performed with split times for each 5m, obtained by 2 trained observers.

RESULTS: A higher max swimming speed was observed (1.67±0.13
m/s vs 1.74±0.17m/s,P<0.05) for IG when comparing pre to post. No
differences between groups for any of the split times on the 100m time
trail was observed. Furthermore, higher lactate values was observed in CG (5.4±1.6 mmol/l vs 6.4±2.1 mmol/l,P<0.05) after the 4th repetition. No difference in lactate values between groups was noted.

DISCUSSION:
The major finding of this study is that a 12 weeks training
intervention with concomitant doubling of the amount of high intensity training and 50% reduction of the training volume, seems to increase the ability to reach high maximal speed over a sprint distance (100m) without compromising the endurance capacity as judged by the step test.

As lactate levels were not changed as a result of training the effect might be related an increase of strength, efficiency or a combination of the two. Surprisingly an increase in the lactate level after the 4th repetition was observed for CG after 12 week of endurance training. An increase in the
transport capacity for lactate out of the working muscles could play a
role for this observation.

Tony Austin said...

I just stopped work to read this, and even after reading it three times, I am too stupid to understand why or how it worked but what I understand is that swimming 40-70k a week is overkill and you can do just as well swimming 15k to 25k.

Awesome!

Thanks for taking the time to post that.

I will say it again, my readers are way smarter than I am.

Tony Austin said...

I just stopped work to read this, and even after reading it three times, I am too stupid to understand why or how it worked but what I understand is that swimming 40-70k a week is overkill and you can do just as well swimming 15k to 25k.

Awesome!

Thanks for taking the time to post that.

I will say it again, my readers are way smarter than I am.

Anonymous said...

Tony:

You are welcome..my pleasure. Here is the link to the proceedings that are going on as we speak.

http://www.nih.no/templates/Page____4108.aspx

They are also streaming each day the featured presentation. I respectfully recommend a good post about this symposium for tomorrow. The web site link would be an enlightening post for all to enjoy. It is also possible to download the abstracts from the presentations.

You might be in the position to have the only post about this symposium on a US swimming web site.

Interesting reading...