Monday, July 30, 2012

Missed Opportunity!

Begin Rant now...

The 2012 London Games began on Friday July 27th and 1600 athletes gathered in Calgary, Alberta to compete at Canadian Age Group Championships. 1600 athletes; the very level of athlete that Swim Canada (or anyone, for that matter) wants to get excited and inspired by the Olympics. Overall, the meet was pretty well managed and a lot of money was spent to make it look professional; there was an additional "jumbo-tron" rented for advertising... they even used it to show the Opening Ceremonies on Day 1 of the Olympics... but thats where it stopped. Even though the Championship's prelim sessions ran very long (sometimes past 2pm - 6 hour sessions) the meet management did not see if fit to show ANY of the racing on the big screen... but rather, just advertisements. 

WHY!!?? Clearly, they had the technology to do it (they showed the Opening Ceremonies earlier in the week). Meet management even met to talk about it and decided not to make it happen. So the question that I need to scream from the rooftops is this: "WHY HOLD A MEET THAT ACTIVELY TAKES THESE SWIMMERS AWAY FROM THE OLYMPIC EXPERIENCE??" It's not like Swim Canada did not know when the Olympic were. Heck, they could have even started the meet a day earlier and minimized the races missed, but they made a decision not to. Maybe it doesn't matter... wait... YES IT DOES... It matters so much to the swimmers, parents, coaches and team mates that helped get those swimmers to that level at meets like this one.

But picture this, if you will... 1600 athletes watching the Olympics together. Getting excited, together. Celebrating, together. Consoling, together. Isn't that what the Olympics experience is all about? Imagine all of the members of the Oakville Aquatic Club (all 55 of them) and all of the swimmers who know Tera Van Beilen, personally, watching her semi-final race AND the rare Olympic Swim-Off to determine the 8th spot in the finals. Imagine all of ESWIM and the swimmers close with Brittany MacLean watching her in her first Olympic Final. Imagine hometown CASCADE going nuts, watching Jill Tyler in her semi-final or PPO watching Charles Francis or Island Swimming watching Julia Wilkinson. This was a massive missed opportunity by Swim Canada and meet management and, I believe, actually jaded the swimmers and coaches. I know that many of them wished that they were somewhere else watching the Olympics and not watching 31 heats of 400FR (12 of them bonus heats, btw).

I understand that its highly unfair to be showing the Olympics on a big screen while people are swimming at prelims as it can be distracting and not make for the ideal prelims atmosphere... but here is what I suggest: STOP THE MEET. Take 10min breaks while the races are happening and encourage people to cheer. Not only would that not be distracting, it would be inspiring. I say it might make for some incredible prelim swims.

I propose this: SNC SHOULD NEVER AGAIN SANCTION A MEET DURING A TELEVISED SWIMMING EVENT or SNC SHOULD ALWAYS MAKE THE VIEWING OF WORLD SWIMMING EVENTS TOP PRIORITY DURING A SWIM MEET, EVEN IF IT MEANS STOPPING THE MEET. Watching swimming on TV is great and can teach a lot. Watching your peers that you played a role in racing, pushing and developing is a great experience. It helps YOU become a part of the Olympics and helps build dreams. 

Anyone who agrees, please re-tweet this and share it through social media. If we really want people to enjoy swimming and excel on a world level, we need to use the world connectivity available to us. 4, 8, 12, 16 years ago it was not possible to show the races to everyone. Today it is... lets get with the times. I'm really disappointed in Swim Canada; this was a huge missed opportunity. 

HHBF at Canadian National Championships

It was a LONG 2 weeks for me in Alberta as HHBF took part in Senior Nationals in Edmonton, then Canadian Age Group Championships in Calgary, AB.

Here are the highlights:

Kyle Haas finished 6th in 50BK at Senior Nationals in 50BK, breaking his own HHBF record with a time of 27.00. It was a great race for Kyle, who is coming off of a non-swimming related injury and is not 100% by far. He was also 10th in the 100BK (winning the B final in a time just faster than he was at Olympic Trials, but still not his best) and 20th in 200BK. Kyle finished 8th in 200BK, 6th in 100BK and 4th in 50BK in Calgary at Canadian Age Group Championships.

Matthew Fox managed a bronze medal in 200BK at Canadian Age Group Championships in Calgary. This was a surprisingly weak race across the board, as Matthew's best time would have won the event by about 2 seconds, but even Markus Thormyer of Vancouver (defending National Champion) was 2 seconds off of his best. The next night Matt finished 2nd in 50BK, breaking Kyle Haas' 13-14 year old club record with a time of 28.72. The next morning, Matt woke up and could not move his neck. It was very bad. I had him see Cascade's team therapist who confirmed it was just tightness, but the meet rules stated that we could not scratch, or would have to pay $50. Matt managed just enough to make it into the final (3rd) and swam through an easy 200FR, to avoid paying the scratch penalty. We did everything we could to make his comfortable but he was in a LOT of pain. That night, Matt came back in for the 100BK final and was unsure what to make of the situation; he was clearly injured and was not at his best, but was that an excuse? When would he have this opportunity again? Matt lead the race out FAST (turning at 29.79) and pushed to his limit.  At the 75m mark, Markus Thormyer made his move and pulled a meter ahead. Matt then found another gear and accelerated towards the wall. It all came down to the touch; Markus 1st 1:00.84, Matthew 2nd 1:00.85 (HHBF Club Record, 11th fastest time in Canadian history and 4th in Ontario History). That was honestly one of the toughest races I have seen anyone pull out and I was exceptionally proud of Matt, not only because of the risk he took, but because of the example he set for the rest of his team (in Calgary and at home). Matt broke the HHBF club record in 50FR (25.43) where he placed 6th and he also placed 6th in 100FR. He scratched the 400FR due to injury.

Mitchell Krafczek had a great meet in Calgary where he set a season best in 200BK (2:22.38), equaled his best in 100BK, and broke the 30 second barrier in 50BK for the first time (29.96). Mitchell's HUGE races though were 100BR (1:13.91, PB by about 2.8 seconds) and 200BR (2:43.81, which is the 2nd fastest HHBF time EVER). Great finish to the season for Mitchell!

Keri-Lyn Copeland (in her Canadian Age Group Championships debut) had best times in 100FR and 100BK. Aysia Leckie (also in her debut) finished 13th in 50FR, 100FR and 200FR. For these 2, the meet was very overwhelming and was about experience more than anything else. They both have many years left at the National Age Group level and will make their marks in years to come.

In their National Age Group Championship Finales (they will be too old next season), Elizabeth Skuriat broke her own HHBF record in 100BK and finished right on top of her time in 200BK. Aaron Brautigam was just on top of his 50FR and 100FR times and best times in 50BR, 100BR and 200BR. Aaron will begin school at the University of Ottawa in September (hopefully swimming) and Elizabeth will return to Wolfville, NS to continue her studies at Acadia where she will continue to swim.

HHBF finished the meet in 54th place out of 189 teams that participated. While it was not as high as we finished last season (when we were not riddled by injuries), we did finish very close to Newmarket (53rd) and Club Warriors (54th) and ahead of many teams that beat us at Division 2 Team Champs in April. I am very happy about the season and am proud of every Blue Fin. See you in a month!

Final results for the meet can be found here.

Canada announces Junior Pan Pac Roster... finally!

Swim Canada announced the roaster for Junior Pan Pacific Championships on Thursday. Notable members on the women's side include Noemie Thomas of Vancouver, BC, Victoria Chan of Richmond Hill, ON, Kierra Smith of Kelowna, BC and rising IM star, Ottawa's Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson. The youngest women to be accepted to the team are 14 year okds, Sophia Saroukian and Lilli Margatai, both representing the Edmonton Keyano Swim Club, taken over this season by Derrick Schoof.
The men's side include former Etobicoke Swim Club team mates Aly Abdel-Khalik and Omar Arafa (now with Oakville Aquatic Club) and the Brothers brothers; William and Peter Brothers of Victoria BC. 17 year old Jon Brown is someone to watch in the IMs as well as 15 year old Teddy Kelp of North York Aquatic Club in the distance Freestyle events.
Canada will have their work cut out for them, as the USA and Australia recently released very strong rosters. Link to the Canadian roster can be found here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Link of the Day with Jocelyn Jay

A proud Canadian athlete, Jon Montgomery reflects on how the Olympics changed our Country forever, sends his best to Canada's summer athletes and encourages Canadians to get behind their athletes in London 2012.

Ryan Lochte sounding off about all sorts of different topics. David Marsh recommends young swimmers listen to his answer to the final question. ~

FAST SWIMMING = PREMIUM FUEL & TAMING FUN FOODS - a great article about young swimmers being naturally drawn to sweets and convenient items, and how to allow those, but make sure they are getting the "premium fuel" foods. ~

Can a vegan diet fuel a high-performance athlete? ~

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Another Post from Bogdan Knezevic

Anger as a Form of Motivation
Bogdan Knezevic (twitter: @bogdanknez)

Goal setting is a key element of success in life, and is used to provide tangible, realistic guidelines to reaching our dreams, whatever they may be. The fuel for this journey can be provided by any one (or combination) of a multitude of things: determination to prove something, conviction in one’s ideals and cause, or pure excitement and joy of the activity itself. However, an often overlooked and misunderstood source of motivation is anger.

At one point or another, we have all felt anger; anger at ourselves, at the people around us, at the situation we were dealing with. In sport, anger is a common emotion, and frequently boils out at the wrong place or time. If, however, this anger is controlled and directed with purpose and focus, it has the potential to bring out amazing performances that may surprise you.

The true revelation of the simplicity of this idea dawned on me the other day when I was doing some yard work at home. We had recently cut down two trees that were rotting, and had decided to plant two new ones a little farther from the house. Instead of paying the (rather steep) price of $500 to have the holes for the trees dug out by the landscapers, my father and I decided to use this opportunity to bond a little, as well as save a lot of money.

The plan seemed simple enough: two holes, each 4.5 x 4.5 feet, with a depth of 28 inches. It was a fairly warm and sunny day, which provided a pleasant working environment- not the kind of atmosphere one would expect to breed anger. The predisposition for this emotion, however, was visible if one knew where to look. It was a Sunday, the one day off in my week of training- I had already been feeling rather sluggish and burnt out by the time Saturday morning workout had finished. I had started off the day with a soccer match with the men’s league I play in, and with half the team not present at the game, I played both halves fully. I then arrived home and, after a quick bite to eat, proceeded to dig the holes. Within half an hour a few things became crystal clear: the blisters on my feet from soccer would now be accompanied by blisters on my hands from digging, the pleasantly warm day suddenly felt a lot hotter and stickier, and the holes were actually rather large (which wasn’t quite apparent before the work commenced).

Within the hour, I was (likely unjustifiably) angry at the world, at my father, at the trees and at the shovel, but one thing did not change: the holes had to be completed that day since the trees were being delivered the next. At this point it was obvious that there was no turning back since the work absolutely had to be finished, and the moment I realized that, a few key elements changed. The anger, which had been building inside and impeding my work, suddenly served a purpose. Instead of venting out the energy from the frustration building up inside, I poured it into the work I was doing, using it to give me focus and purpose. I worked into a certain rhythm, and developed a pattern of cohesion with my father who was employed alongside me. Within a few hours, both holes were completed, and we were sipping sangria on the porch.

Afterword, I would look back on the afternoon and reflect on how such a potentially destructive emotion helped increase efficiency a thousand fold; if it could work in the yard with such a mundane task, it could surely work in the pool when bigger things are at stake. So next time you have a bad race at a meet, or a teammate messes up in a play, or odds are stacked against you, GET ANGRY! Don’t let your crappy race bring you down and dampen your motivation- get angry at yourself for messing up something you shouldn’t have messed up, and go back to work to fix it. Don’t let the fact that your teammate is having a bad day ruin the game for you- get angry and take the initiative to pick up the slack and turn things around. Don’t let seemingly overwhelming odds drive you away from your goals- get angry at yourself for even considering quitting and use that to drive yourself TOWARD your goals. As long as it is wielded properly, anger can help provide you with the little bit of energy needed to reach those ‘unattainable’ heights.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Some Good Links

A pretty good article about HHBF at Provincials in the local Independent can be found HERE.

This is the last episode of #coachmikepodcast to be posted before the start of the 2012 London Games. I have with me this week Gail Vaz-Oxlade (host of the Slice Network's 'Till Debt To Us Part and Princess) to talk about money management for coaches, parents and athletes. I am also visited by Dr. Greg Wells (Author of Super Bodies and commentator for the 2012 London Games on CTV) to revisit a conversation we had in October about concussions and talk about the upcoming Olympics and his role in them. This is a GREAT episode! Don't miss it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

It's all the many hours of 'deliberate practice' will help you master your discipline? Can you break the 10,000 hour rule? Here are some great tips to consider becoming a masters at what you do best!

It's as simple as this...

What's the difference between Federer and Murray...this author argues, constant struggle!

A great article on Mark Tewksbury coming fulling circle in his career!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sport: An Ideal Medium for Character Development

Todays guest post comes from Bogdan Knezvic of ESWIM. Bogdan was currently enrolled in the University of Calgary (CIS Rookie of the Year in 2010), majoring in Neuroscience and is a published scientist (Journal of Experimental Biology, primary author). Bogdan is the Serbian National Record Holder in the 200 and 400 IM and was selected to represent Serbia at 2012 European Championships, but declined due to conflicts with other meets. He has represented Canada at numerous international games (Junior Pan Pacs, Junior Worlds, and Senior Pan Pacs).  Please welcome Bogdan to our writting team.

Sport: An Ideal Medium for Character Development
Bogdan Knezevic (twitter: @bogdanknez )

“Sport does not develop character, it reveals it” is a quote most athletes have heard, yet not all agree with. I, myself, am more inclined to say that sport both develops AND reveals character- the two do not have to be mutually exclusive.

As a person decides to commit to a sport and to take on the role of the athlete, they are put to the test in multiple ways. The hard work that goes into training, the responsibility that you need to take for your actions and that you owe to the team begin to eat away at the outer ‘bubble’ of your person, and as you constantly push the boundaries of your comfort zone, the true core of your character will begin to reveal itself. The self-labelled (and the word ‘self’ is key here) ‘heroes’ of a team might begin to stand out, for example, or the quiet, yet highly skilled introverts might take you by surprise. Adversity pushes people to the edge, and it is precisely when they are at the edge that the few key things that make them who they are will begin to shine. Determination, relentlessness, and true grit are most easily observed when a person is asked to perform, and sports provide a medium for exactly that. A truly egotistical person, for instance, will be easy to spot in a team sport, as they will visibly be doing things for their own benefit rather than for the team’s. On the other hand, a truly determined and motivated person who, for instance, loses a swim race won’t let the loss hamper their training, and will manage to instead use it as fuel for working harder.

The discrepancy in the quote (from my experience) comes later on, as you begin to settle into the ‘groove’ of the sport (so to speak). Adaptability has always been a key evolutionary trait, and- although it sounds melodramatic- those who adapt, survive. The same is true in sports, and in order to be able to climb upwards within the realm of your sport, you must be able to adapt. Certain aspects of your character might need to be strengthened, while others dropped entirely. A few clear traits stand out: determination, optimism, responsibility all need to be constantly reinforced, and one needs to continually build up layer upon layer of these key traits to push to the top. Conversely, egotism (referring to true arrogance and not to be mistaken for confidence), pessimism, and laziness are all potential characteristic traits that need to be minimized in order to optimize performance. The self-styled ‘hero’ of the team from the paragraph above has two choices: keep putting the team at risk by refusing to respect team play (and evoke the anger of many teammates in the process), or develop character and slowly weed out this trait (perhaps changing the mindset and moulding the arrogance into confidence), allowing room for growth as both an athlete and a person.

When I began swimming for the first time, a few things were revealed to me within the first few years of the sport: I was competitive, hungry for success, determined, and goal oriented. These were aspects of my character that became clearly visible as training and competing chipped away at my psyche. The majority of my swimming career, however, has been a constant revaluation and tweaking of my character; I have continually worked on developing it, training it to deal with unique situations, and shaping it in ways that would optimize both my athletic and personal life. Swimming has taught me the importance of perseverance and optimism in one’s character, as well as given me a sense of what true professionalism means.

We are all living, breathing things, and as such, it is my opinion that we must treat our essence the same and not allow it to become static. Sport- to me- is a great way to discover your true character and reveal it those around you, and an even better way of moulding it and allowing it to positively expand in all directions.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Do you support the process or just the results?

I think everyone loves sports for different reasons, but I don't think that anyone can deny that its the process that is where the real value is. Therefore, the process must be the most important thing... right?

If that is true:
  • Why doesn't anyone (including professional athletes) want to be a part of the rebuilding PROCESS?
  • Why are so many people more likely to accommodate convenience than PROCESS (OFSAA, I'm looking at you)?
  • Why doesn't the PROCESS play a bigger part in goal setting?
  • Why are we more focused on the RESULTS today than the PROCESS of getting there tomorrow?
I think this is a very important reflection right now, after Ontario Junior Provincials, because lots of athletes and parents are evaluating their season. The 10 year old that medals at provincials does so, likely because he or she is bigger than the others. Is the 10 year old that came 5th doomed to never medal? No, of course not. In the same light, is the 10 year old that won the event likely to convert that into a Senior National medal down the road?

Do today's adolescent results dictate adult results down the road? Not necessarily, especially since part of the challenge is staying in the sport long enough to complete the PROCESS into your adult years (post PVH for those of you who read the LTADs).  So is your 14 year old boy destined to finish behind HAC swimmer Osvald Nitski for the rest of his career? 

Where do coaches fall into this? How do parents allow coaches to fall into this? I think it is worth stating that coaches are the paid professionals in this situation. Good coaches have long term plans for their teams and athletes. While its easy to want success today (for you or for your athlete) trusting your coach is very important.  How can a coach be focused on the PROCESS when the clientele is more interested in today's RESULTS? Today's results are very important at the high performance level, but at the age group level they are stepping stones. Support the PROCESS, not just the RESULTS.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Links of the day with Jocelyn Jay

An extra long batch of links today since we were away last week. Check it out:

Heading into championship season...get inspired!!!!

"When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you'll be successful" ....

Much like Canadian David Sharpe winning the men's 200 fly out of lane 8 to qualify for London 2012, Claire Donahue of Western Kentucky University just needed a lane.  Out of lane 1, she qualified for the US Olympic Team in the 100 fly...awesome!!! ~

3 Ways Our Athletes Can Control The Controllables ~

Raising an Olympian, Ryan Lochte ~

Fun Piece about Michael Phelps ~

Good article about US Olympic Trials: