Sunday, October 30, 2011

HHBF Awards Banquet 2011

On Wednesday October 26th, 2011, HHBF held its annual achievement awards (achievement from the previous season). Club Records were celebrated (over 80 broken in 2010-2011 season) as well as qualifiers, top 8 finishers and medalists from the Regional, Provincial and National level were celebrated. Perhaps the most exciting moment of the night was the appearance of our Guest of Honour, 2008 Olympian, Tobias Oriwol (pictured above with Blue Fins, Livy Olson and Loren Monhemius).

Tobias's career spanned about 20 years and experienced many highs and lows. In his address to the Blue Fins, he detailed many of these things (his retirement and his reason to come back to swimming), but perhaps his most poignant message was about the importance of good team mates and being a good team mate. Toby was very generous with his time, very polite and extremely professional. An excellent speaker; I would highly recommend him for functions if you can get him (he is a very busy guy)!

We have over 90 people attend the banquet this year (Only HHBF's second annual event) which is significantly larger than last season. Not only was there a higher turnout, but HHBF was awarding more swimmers than we thought possible when we first organized the event 2 seasons ago. I must say I am extremely proud of my Team both as a member and as a coach. We have come a long way and will continue to evolve and progress. Wednesday night was a celebration of how much our swimmers achieved last season, but it was also proof positive that the Blue Fins have a bright future ahead.

I think Tobias said it best: "...While not everyone may get an Award tonight, it is important to remember that no one wins an award by themselves and we should remember the team mates that made it all possible."

Monday, October 24, 2011

HHBF Blue and White Meet

Saturday October 22nd marked the unofficial kick off of meet season for the Intro, Intro Comp, Bronze, Silver and Gold groups with our annual HHBF Blue and White Meet. My initial observations was how much better this meet runs now than it did 3 or 4 years ago! I believe this is for a few reasons:

- Chris Henderson and Shannan Andrews have prepared the athletes very well! Fewer and fewer of them find this meet (for some of the intro groups, this is their first meet experience) overwhelming. Chris and Shannan are also very enthusiastic and energetic people and these athletes feed upon that. The junior coaches were doing their jobs very well! I'm pretty sure that everyone had a great time as a result.

- Our athletes from the Regional Development, Elite and Platinum groups were there volunteering their time which made the day run much smoother. Nothing helps more than having volunteers who know how meets run.

- Parent volunteers were outstanding! We had no shortage of help at all Saturday morning.

- The older athletes were very helpful with the younger athletes. I can't put into words how proud it makes me to see older athletes like Emilie Knighton helping with the younger kids just because she wants to be a good team mate. Athletes like that make a huge difference in the development of this club!

- There was a lot of pretty quick swimming from these younger athletes! I can't wait to kick off the official meet season.

Thank you everyone for all of your help on Saturday, we could not have run such a great meet without you. Historically I do not involve myself directly with the Blue or White team, but instead spent time floating around, fixing problems and putting out fires. This season, things ran so well, it freed me up to closely watch a lot of the races and I must say, I'm very happy with what I see coming up the pipeline for HHBF.

UPDATE: Thank you, Rob Copeland, for the pictures
Scary Update: That was my 200th post. My how time flies!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thank you

A quick thank you to everyone who reads and listens to my stuff. My blog is quickly approaching 30,000 visitors (at the time of writing this post) and my podcast was shut down by Podbean yesterday because there were simply too many streams and downloads of my podcasts. Podbean demanded because of the popularity of the podcast, I would have to upgrade to paid service or risk being shut down after a certain band width capacity. Thanks to a very generous donation from Coach Dave Ling of the Toronto Swim Club yesterday, I was able to upgrade and continue to provide uninterrupted service until I figure out how to fund this operation.

The response to what I have been doing is overwhelming and all I can say is thank you for appreciating what I am doing. I think that the sharing of as much information as possible is the only real way that we're going to make Ontario and Canada better.

Thank you, everyone!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

coachmikepodcast episode 5 is up and ready for download!

In episode 5, I talk to Team Canada Para-swimmer, Jenna Lambert, about her selection to the Pan Am Games Team and the coming Olympic year. I also touch base with Glenn Mills of GoSwim about his very successful business, new coaching tools and story lines for this season in the world of swimming. Check it out on iTunes or on Podbean or stream it from the player below. You're not going to want to miss this one!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wait... What..??

Months after Michael Phelps' success at the 2008 Olympics in China, 505 Games announced plans to release a swimming video game based around Michael Phelps. The game was released on Tuesday and I've noticed 2 things so far:

1.) Many people commented on my Facebook and Twitter feeds when I posted the topic that they didn't even know that there was a Michael Phelps video game. So maybe they didn't advertise enough in Canada? How is it selling in the states?
2.) Not ONE media outlet has even been remotely skeptical of this idea. Everyone thinks its fantastic. Really!!??

In the interest of full disclosure; I do not own an Xbox 360 (the game platform) or the Connect system (the controller required) or the game itself so this review is based solely on the concept. But I HAVE to ask, was this an attempt by a 505 Games executive to capitalize on an athlete that is now not quite as unbeatable as he was 3 years ago? Does that guy still work there? Is he still thinking this is a great idea..? Yes, its a cool idea and looks like it may be fun to play for about 15min, and good for Michael, who likely made several millions of dollars to use his likeness in the game. But were gamers really sitting in front of their gaming systems this year and saying: "Dude, this game is missing the elements of pretend swimming and erroneous physical activity"..? I think not. I think this is a very niche, gimmicky video game and suspect that you will be able to pick up a previously owned copy on store shelves by Monday so save your money.

Yes, I love Michael Phelps and swimming and video games, but I also like children, loud music and beer. Some things are better when they're not combined. My humble opinion of the CONCEPT: Michael Phelps, Swimming and Gaming don't look like the peanut butter and chocolate combination they were hoping it would be. If anyone at Microsoft or 505 Games wants to send me a system and the game to change my mind, I'll listen. Contact me through the blog. In the mean time, the trailer and Michael's guest spot on Jimmy Fallon can be found below.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Episode 4 of coachmikepodcast now up.

Available for free download from iTunes (Search "coachmikepodcast") or from As always, you can stream from the player above if downloading isn't your thing. This week some good interviews with 2008 Canadian Olympians Paul Midgley (coach) and Richard Hortness (swimmer). Gotta share what I learn: Check it out!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Train to Compete Camp October 2011

From October 7th-9th, swimmers from all over Ontario were invited to participate in the Swim Ontario Train To Compete Camp at the University of Western Ontario. Swimmers were selected by highest combined FINA point score between the best 2 200m events and 400IM. Swimmers who were selected are as follows:

Females 1998: Jenna Malone, UCSC, Nicole Bullock, OAK, Alexis Bragman, TSC
Females 1997: Melanie McDonald, ESWIM, Rachel Hansen, GGST, Esraa Abdel-Khalik, ESWIM
Females 1996: Samantha Stratford, GMAC Riley Konrad, GMAC, Madison Pulfer, NKB
Males 1997: Alexander Jin, NYAC, Tyler Tong-McDermott, CCAC, Zach Shalovsky, NEW
Males 1996: Evan White, OAK, Oliver Straszynski, TSC, Teddy Kalp, NYAC
Males 1995: Tristan Cote, ESWIM, Kyle Haas, HHBF, Alexander Hamilton, NYAC

The purpose of the weekend was to push these swimmers to challenge themselves (against their peers) to learn to swim smarter and swim better under stress. The initiative of these camps was to identify Ontario swimming talent and to nurture that talent for the future.

The swimmers arrived on Friday October 7th for lunch, a quick briefing and then a 3 hour water workout. The briefing laid out the expectations of the weekend (Including the meaning of "World Class Swimming"). The workout involved some test sets that would be used later in the weekend. Dean Boles ran the camp. His briefing after warmup can be seen below.

The swimmers were challenged with a descending 50s set and some fast kicking; the results of which would be used on Saturday and Sunday during the main sets. Dean had challenged the young athletes to display something at a world class level. Swim Ontario had printed up some "gold" caps for boys that could kick 25m under water in under 12.50 seconds and girls that could do the same in 13.50 seconds. All athletes got a chance to try that out and practice it before the end of practice and debrief. You can listen to Dean's debrief from the first day's water session HERE.

The water session was followed up by an extensive outdoor team building session which included a high ropes course as well as some other team work games. The swimmers seemed to really enjoy this and I feel that, even though most of the swimmers already knew each other, these games allowed for some better cohesiveness throughout the group. Each of the swimmers learned something different about themselves and the "vertical playground" really brought out the athleticism in some individuals (HHBF's own, Kyle Haas, was exceptionally strong in this event).

The next day, the swimmers were challenged in several sets including a set of 20x100@1:40, where they had to even split each 100, hold their stroke count the same and hold a time that was derived from a set the day before. They also had 9x100kick @ 2:10 where every 3rd 100 was fast. The fast 100s were then added up and made into a 300kick time which would be challenged again on Sunday. The athletes also got their chance to swim a 25 kick under water to try to obtain one of Swim Ontario's "golden caps". Only 2 swimmers made the cut on Dean's "world class" times: Newmarket's Zach Shalovsky and HHBF's Kyle Haas. Dean also did a quick dive clinic with the swimmers, the video of which can be found below. Dean's debrief of the second water workout can be found HERE.

Day 2 finished with a 3 hour dryland session lead by Steve Topham. The athletes were challenged with functional exercises, movements and stretches. While it didn't look like much, Steve made these kids sweat! In the process they learned many new things about how their muscles and joints work as well as a few new things to get themselves activated before practices and meets.

On Sunday morning, many of the athletes were exhausted. Dean commenced his briefing (which can be found below). Many of the athletes felt that this was the hardest of the 3 water sessions, as it contained 400sets, a fast 50kick for time, a 300kick for time and a broken 200IM (amongst other sets). That did not stop many of them from attacking the day with enthusiasm and toughness.

The thing I noticed as a coach and observer (this having been my 5th consecutive T2C Camp and 2nd consecutive with Kyle Haas and many other of the same swimmers from previous camps) was how much faster the athletes were training but also how much better they had become at splitting, kicking off the walls and many other technical aspects of swimming. I was pretty impressed by the speed of some of the kicking as well as many of the 400s done early in the practice. HHBF's Kyle Haas was fastest in the 50FR kick by quite a bit (time of 31.47 seconds) and 3rd overall in the 300kick for time. Some remarkable improvement from the field. The camp wrap up can be found HERE.

I took as much info as I could from this camp as possible to share with others. As I often say, its great for a few coaches to get the information, but the technology exists to share it with everyone and the goal should be to better the landscape by sharing it all with everyone. It is my hope that swimmers and coaches will view, read and listen to this info and share it with others. The more people that can share in the info given by these camps, the better off Ontario swimming will be going forward, which is a very positive thing. For more information, please check the Swim Ontario site in the coming days and check for my newest podcast, available FREE for download from iTunes (and on Wednesday October 12th.

Workouts now available to see: FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY

*PLEASE NOTE: these workouts are designed for the TRAIN TO COMPETE athletes (Defined as 13-18 aged swimmers who are competing at a National level). The content should not be used for other LTAD ability levels, but the concepts and focuses can be used for any level.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Darn it! Swim Ontario was faster than I was to post this interview that I did with John Vadeika earlier today at the Swim Ontario office in Toronto. For more details and commentary about this interview, stay tuned for next week's podcast which will be available for download and streaming on Wednesday October 12th.

Off The Deck - Interview with Swim Ontario Executive Director from Swim Ontario on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

coachmikepodcast Episode 3 is up!! Download Please!

Check out episode 3 of coachmikepodcast above or visit to download. As always, it will be up and available for free download on iTunes tomorrow (likely around 7pm.... I don't know when Apple updates their feeds... I don't get it).
On Episode 3: 2008 Canadian Olympian, Lindsay Seemann checks in to talk about her career, facing adversity and 2012 NCAAs & Olympic Trials. Rebekah Boscariol swims across Lake Ontario to raise money for Sick Kid's Hospital and Dave Ling (Coach of TSC) calls in to talk a bit about social media.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Good morning, Halton Hills!

This morning was a pretty good test for the Elite, Platinum and Regional Development groups. An important aspect of swimming that I stress is being able to function properly under stress (that is to swim technically well when you're body is tired and doesn't want to). Up until this point, the main point was fixing strokes and spending a LOT of time on FUNCTION with limited work towards stress. This morning, we added a little stress.

Last night, the Elite and Platinum groups worked on goal setting with an important message; its easy to get excited about your goals when its nice outside and its exciting. Its not so easy when its cold and dark outside and there is a lot of work to do. Its much easier to stay in bed at those times.

This morning was cold and dark. The practice was basically long distance swimming... long enough to create the fatigue I desired in order to test everyone's ability to FUNCTION under STRESS (far from the exciting, goal oriented atmosphere, but still very necessary). While this morning's focus was not speed, I feel that those who put the effort into the right things got some great benefit from what we were doing. Athletes are going to be sore today and probably tomorrow, but lets not forget that it comes with the territory. We cannot break new ground without pushing ourselves.

The struggle for the next few weeks will be making sure that we are doing the right things in the water while we're tired and sore to make sure that we can get better, faster, stronger and swim properly. While no one does anything alone, we should remember that everything can be done with the help of your team mates; not by staying home to rest. We need to make everyone around us better and you can't do that if you're not there.

Lets get better today!

"We don't have to be superstars or win championships... All we have to do is learn to rise to every occasion, give our best effort, and make those around us better as we do it." ~ John Wooden