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Thursday 27 October 2016

Michelle Konkoly's Race Comparisions

Leading into the Summer of 2016, eventual Paralympic 100M and 50M Champion Michelle Konkoly started to look pretty strong in the water.

Michelle had joined our team at T2 Aquatics in January of 2015, and although she had been training awesome in the water and in the weight room, the improvement on the clock wasn't happening the way it seemed it should.  Sure, there was a half second over 100M…but not enough to justify a big move to a new place, looking for the bell to ring on the BIG GOALS.  Just getting a tenth or two over 50M isn't enough improvement for anyone with the big goals, and it's not enough improvement to beat people who have previously been difficult to handle.

Michelle's quest was physical and mental, and the work was physical and mental.  There was not a stone left unturned by the athlete in this case.  One of the most eye-popping things for me to see was the obvious improvement with Michelle's ability to hold water while getting to high speeds.  Take a look at the videos here, one from the Para World Champs in 2015, where Michelle won a Silver in 1:03.25 -- and one from Rio in 2016, where Michelle won the Paralympic Gold in 1:00.91:

The video above is from 2015.  
43 strokes going down, 53 coming back
1:03.25, Silver Medal

The video below is from 2016.
41 strokes going down, 48 coming back
1:00.91, Gold Medal


Here is the 50M comparison:

The top is 2015; 29.4 / 53 Strokes / Silver Medal

The bottom is 2016; 28.2 / 47 Strokes / Gold Medal

Saturday 19 December 2015

200 Freestyle Predictors

I was thinking about a way to get people to understand what they have to do to perform certain times in competition.  It ain't magic!

Athletes want the times, but they must be ready to accept the training that it takes to get the times.

Here is the cheat sheet:


Friday 8 May 2015

Teaching Through DQs

I figure the average swimmers gets DQed somewhere between 3-11 times in their life.  That's a small amount of DQs, when you think about it.  Of course to a 9 year old who has gotten their third backstroke turn DQ in a season, it may seem like a lot!

Getting disqualified happens, usually at a younger age, and then most of the DQ causes are pretty much gone forever.  The breaststroke kick, backstroke turn, and the fly strength catch up to the needs of the race.  The swimmers learn how to get to the block on time and avoid missing events.  There are only a few things left to DQ after these items are mastered.

So to me it makes sense to use the DQ as a teaching source.  It's a good time to teach because the athletes are very receptive after a DQ.  They are probably at their most receptive point.  Either they are receptive to fixing their technical issue, and so will have more intention on getting it resolved, or in the case of missing an event an athlete may be embarrassed and ready to listen up and pay attention with a heightened sense of awareness.

Last month we had a girl get DQed for the 5th time doing incorrect breaststroke kick.  She just hasn't gotten it and we haven't taught it well enough.  After the breaststroke, this girl had one of her all-time best swims in the next event, the 50 Back (an event which to a new/young swimmer has a challenging turn in it).  She never would have nailed the 50 Back if her parents/family freaked out and fed her disappointment.  Additionally, she wouldn't have nailed it if the coaches on deck would have brooded with her about the DQ.  No one fed her disappointment, so this swimmer was free to set her mind on the task at hand: to get ready for the next race.  Our staff pointed out to this swimmer that the most important thing was not the DQ, but the reaction and action that followed.

We made some progress with the Breaststroke kick the following week too.  We can use DQs to teach.

Also, last month we had a boy miss an event at a meet.  I told him he was a blockhead, but that was about it.  There was nothing to say except, "You are a blockhead. See ya tomorrow at practice".  What else can we do?  This boy came to practice and was swimming with a heightened sense of awareness the next day. Fast, technical, the whole thing.  He probably had one of his best practices of the year.  You know that feeling you get when you did something wrong as a kid and then you were super-ready to show that you could do things well? -- that was this boy.

I pointed out to the boy and the group that I like the attitude he had of coming back the next day and kicking butt after accidentally no-showing the race.  Isn't that what we want to teach? Having a momentary "failure" that is shrouded by the excellence of the next present moment?  We can use DQs to teach!  We want our kids to move on after disappointment.  No one needs a sulking kid around the house, and no one wants to share a workplace with an adult that can't get over themselves.  As parents and coaches, we've got to nip it in the bud and use athletics to teach life skills.

The previous month we had a boy miss an event in the Finals of a meet, and he was DQed for the entire meet.  It was a tough situation.  This boy had worked hard and was primed to make some cuts for the Championship meet the next month.  He was pretty upset about it, as you can imagine.  This is a fairly new swimmer and he was ready to pick up some valuable experience in this competition.  So, what could we do?  He came to the meet the next day and cheered on his teammates -- and also the day after that.  He did a few sets on his own.  Fast forward three days, and he's back to normal, training fast and more consistent than ever.  The next month he moved into a new training group and is now swimming 7000 per session, twice the amount he was swimming two months ago, and he is swimming best times at the end of the training sets (6500 yards into the practice).  We can use DQs to teach.  No one in this athlete's life fed his disappointment.  His Dad handled the situation with calm let the coaches coach the kid.  Our coaching Staff was thinking big picture the whole time and coached him on how to handle the DQ.  He is currently thriving as one of the most improved swimmers on the team.

We are using DQs to teach.  We use any disappointment to teach.  Coaches are involved in this, and the athletes must be receptive….but most importantly, the parents have to be on board.  In each case I've mentioned, the parents have been on board.  They essentially have left it up to the Coaches to deal with the swimming part, while using the opportunity to parent their kids.

What's the difference?  It's an important distinction.  Parenting is asking the athlete to take a deep breath, and then concoct a plan of action to move on in a positive way; coaching is helping the athlete take he next step and get the most out of the next present moment.

It always come down to the present moment.

In both instances, the positive action of helping kids and athletes centers around teaching them how to be present.  Being present isn't really an action because it means to unhook attachment to the past and the future.  When we do this, we are living and learning -- and life is free and fun.  When life is free and fun, it's like being in fertile soil -- we grow into the freedom and the fun of the present moment.

Feeling our way through disappointment is tough, but when we view things from the correct perspective we can use our disappointments to learn how to behave like a Champion.

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Teaching is Taken, not Taught

Most will agree, if learning is to occur there must be a 'student' and a 'teacher'.  However, most may not agree on the means by which learning takes place.

Here is the way I see it:

Learning does not take place when the teacher gives the instruction to the student.  

Learning does take place when the student takes the instruction from the teacher.  

A student must be among the most active of participants within any educational environment.  Once a student's active participation in learning begins to occur, the lessons can become more difficult and thus more effective.

Monday 25 August 2014

Flipping the Switch

Every great athlete goes through a period of time where they flip the switch & begin to develop into a great athlete.

I spoke with a young athlete last summer, fresh off a near medal-winning swim at the World Youth Championships.   I asked him, "What did you learn?"

He said, "I have to work harder."

"I have to work harder"

There is something about saying this phrase out loud that merges its intention to the athlete.

This phrase, said out loud with intent, is the switch flipping.

"I have to work harder".

Nothing comes before it & nothing comes after it.

Great athletes need greatness like they need air.

"I have to work harder."

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Recapping July 2014 Championship Meets

T2 Aquatics' has started its Championship Season with a Bang!

Congrats to all T2 Aquatics athletes who participated in our Sectional and State Championships this month!  T2's "Senior" athletes (age 15 and older) earned a 5th place finish at USA Swimming's Sectional Championships held in Orlando (July 10-14), and T2's "Age Group" athletes (age 14 and younger) placed 5th in Florida Swimming's Age Group Championship competition held in Gainesville (July 18-21).

Here is a recap of each meet's highlights, "what's next" for each group of athletes, and a short description of our T2 Aquatics' athletes who are competing at National Championship meets at the end of the summer.

Recap-- "Senior Athletes" -- USA Swimming Southern Zone Sectionals (Orlando):

T2 Aquatics foursome of Elise Haan, Justine Bowker, Kayla Tennant, and Abby Garner teamed up to win 2 relays, leading our young team to a 5th place finish.  

Individual point scorers include: Justine Bowker (individual Champ in the 200 IM, 4th in the 100 Fly), Elise Haan (3rd in the 200 Back and 4th in the 100 Back), Haley Fournier (10th in the 1500 Free), Kaitlyn Hauser (8th in the 1500, 13th in the 200 Fly, 16th in the 400 & 800 Free), Liam Hollowsky (8th in the 800 Free, 15th in the 1500 Free), Shawn Lemarie (11th in the 800 Free, 13th in the 1500 Free).

Read more about individual Champion Justine Bowker under the "Who's Who" section.

What's Next for "Senior Athletes":

T2 Aquatics athletes Justine Bowker, Elise Haan and Kaitlyn Hauser will travel to Irvine California in August to compete in the National Championships (Bowker), and the Junior National Championships (Haan and Hauser).

The National Championships will serve as a "Selection Meet" for USA Swimming's Pan Pacific Games Team, Pan American Games Team, and World University Games Team.  USA Swimming will also choose its 2015 World Championship Team based on the results of Nationals and the Pan Pacific Games.  T2 Aquatics' Justine Bowker is coming off an outstanding season, where she qualified for USA Swimming's prestigious National "A" Team and put up the 10th fastest time in the World en route to winning the 2013 U.S. Open Championship in the 200 IM.  We are looking forward to seeing Justine swim faster than ever at this meet.

The Junior National Championships is the most competitive 18 and under Championship in the World.  T2 Aquatics' representatives are poised for a great showing on this stage, having picked up valuable experience at increasingly higher levels of swimming.  

"Who's Who" (The athletes to watch in the "Senior Age Groups":

Justine Bowker (University of Michigan) is a former Big 10 "Swimmer of the Meet" and Big Ten Conference Champion.  Justine's 2013 U.S. Open Win in the 200 IM was her third U.S. Open Championship Victory (she won two in 2009).  Her time of 2:11.07 was the 10th fastest time in the World during the 2013 season, and is the 10th fastest time in the history of United States Swimming.

Kaitlyn Hauser (Estero High School) is going into her Junior year in High School. Kaitlyn won the 2013 2A State Championship in the 500 Freestyle, and is currently ranked 10th Nationally in the 1650 Freestyle, as well as 12th Nationally in the 1000 Freestyle among all 15 year olds.

Elise Haan (Gulf Coast High School) is going into her Senior year. Elise has won three 3A State titles in the 100 Backstroke and one 3A State title in the 200 Medley Relay, and is currently ranked 5th Nationally in the 100 Back, and 6th Nationally in the 200 Back, among 16 year olds.


Recap -- "Age Group" Athletes -- Florida Swimming's Age Group Champs (Gainesville):

T2 Aquatics foursome of Paolo Sunyak, Matt Limbacher, Cole Gutknecht, and David Olmstead teamed up to win the 200 Medley Relay on the second day of competition, boosting T2 Aquatics to a 5th place finish at this Florida Swimming 14 and under Championship meet.

Mason Laur (age 11), Karen Liu (age 14), and Matt Limbacher (age 14) each brought home individual wins, and bragging rights that come with being the fastest athlete in the State of Florida.  Mason won the 200 Free, 50 Fly, and 100 Fly in the 11 year old age group, Karen placed first the 200 IM, and Matt was victorious in the 100 Breaststroke.

Individual point scorers include: Madi Baron (7th in the 200 Back), Jacob Conner (7th in the 50 Back, 6th in the 50 Free), Audrey Delcompare (5th in the 100 Breast), William Erickson (9th in the 50 Breast, 10th in the 50 Back, 4th in the 50 Fly, 10th in the 100 Back, and 5th in the 100 Fly), Emma Feehery (6th in the 100 Free, 5th in the 200 IM), Madison Feehery (6th in the 200 IM), Andrew Garner (7th in the 50 Fly, 6th in the 50 Breast), Emmett Gillen (5th in the 50 Free, 4th in the 100 Fly), Cole Gutknecht (3rd in the 400 IM, 8th in the 400 Free, 8th in the 1500 Free), Makailey Hauser (4th in the 800 Free, 8th in the 100 Breast, 6th in the 50 Breast, 8th in the 400 Free), Maquinn Havig (8th in the 200 IM), Zoe Hendrickx (7th in the 50 Breast), Mason Laur (3rd in the 800 Free/200 IM, 1st in the 200 Free/50 Fly/100 Fly, 5th in the 100 Breast), Havana Layton (7th in the 50 Back, 9th in the 50 Free), Matt Limbacher (2nd in the 200 Breast, 1st in the 100 Breast, 5th in the 50 Free, 6th in the 200 IM), Karen Liu (5th in the 800 Free, 4th in the 400 IM/200 Fly, 8th in the 100 Fly, 1st in the 200 IM), Davis Olmsted (8th in the 50 Free), Olivia Owens (16th in the 50 Fly), Chloe Pankita (3rd in the 800 Free, 5th in the 400 Free), Anton Sunyak (8th in the 50 Fly), and Paolo Sunyak (8th in the 200 Free, 8th in the 400 IM, 6th in the 1500 Free). 

Read more about individual Champions Mason Laur, Karen Liu, and Matt Limbacher, in the "Who's Who" section.

What's Next for T2's "Age Group" Athletes:

T2 Aquatics 14 and under athletes are finished with racing for the summer.  Our next major competition will be in December.  Our top athletes are encouraged to train through the first of August , and then take a break for 7-14 days.  Many athletes/families have already started this process.

The training that takes place during August, minus the vacation time, is generally very good for T2 Aquatics athletes.  We like to use this time to get ahead of the competition.  One of the reason our athletes are encouraged to train for most of this "end-of-the-summer" period is because great gains can be made during this time, and we would prefer to not take a formal "break" from training.  We tend to see families go on their separate vacations (as do some of our staff members), but for the most part we remain a cohesive team.  We find that we move our athletes forward during the month of August in a progressive way -- which is not the norm in Florida or in most parts of the United States.

"Who's Who" (The athletes to watch in the  "Age Group" groups):

Mason Laur (age 11) is currently ranked 4th Nationally in the 100 Fly, 5th in the 50 Fly, 11th in the 200 Free, and 12th in the 200 IM.

Karen Liu (age 14) is currently ranked 19th Nationally in the 400 IM.

Matt Limbacher (age 14) has a number 1 ranking Nationally in the 13 year old 100 Breast, as well as 3rd Nationally in the 200 Breast.   This weekend, competing his second meet as a 14 year old, Matt put up the 8th fastest time Nationally in his new age group.

Tuesday 10 June 2014

T2 Aquatics' athlete Katie Kramer swims from Europe to Africa

T2 Aquatics / Marshall University Student-Athlete Katie Kramer completed the "Straight of Gibraltar" last month, becoming the youngest American Female to complete the swim.

Of note, Katie made the decision to swim without the aide of a wetsuit!

Katie is a great example of what we are about at T2 Aquatics.  She had a great IDEA, and turned that idea into something great.  The IDEA was the necessary first part, and the ACTION was of course the necessary final part.   But without the IDEA of doing something this hardcore....the swim never would have happened.

Listen to Katie's interview with swiminfo.com here

Check out this article & Q/A, on swimswam.com here

Way to Go Katie!!!